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Full text of "Sovereigh Britain"

DATE DUE 



L-16 



SOVEREIGN BRITAIN 



END-PAPER ILLUSTRATIONS 

The front end papers depict Sir Geoffrey de Chaucer in the 
"achievements/* or battle gear, of the Black Prince at the Battle 
of Framlingham Castle. In medieval times, a squire or friend 
close to a prince's person was known as a "valet de chambre/* 
"When the prince was by force of circumstances absent from 
a decisive battle, his "valet de chambre" would represent him 
on the field. Donning 1 the prince's jupon, helmet, and shield, the 
"valet de chambre" would ride among the knights and foot 
soldiers to confuse the enemy. Here Sir Geoffrey de Chaucer 
represents the Black Prince, who was at the time of the battle 
in France at Poitiers. 

A map of Great Britain will be found on the end papers at the 
back of the book. 



by flames Key Holds 



WING COMMANDER PADDY FINUCANE: A MEMOIR 
GHOSTS IN IRISH HOUSES 

WORLD OF HORSES 

ANDREA PALLADIO AND THE WINGED DEVICE 
GALLERY OF GHOSTS 
BAROQUE SPLENDOUR 

GRAND WIDE WAY 
MAEVE THE HUNTRESS 

FABULOUS SPAIN 

JAMES REYNOLDS' IRELAND 

PAGEANT OF ITALY 



James Key Holds 

V " i/^ 

SOVEREIGN 
BRITAIN 



FOUNOCQUUI 




P. Putnam's Sous flew 



COPYRIGHT 1955 BY JAMES REYNOLDS 

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, must not be re- 
produced in any form without permission. Published on the same 
day in the Dominion of Canada by Thomas Allen, Ltd., Toronto. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 5510102 



MANUFACTURED IN *THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
VAN REES PRESS - NEW YORK 



TO 
ROBERT AND THEBE BELL 

my cherished friends, 
who are inveterate travelers of the wide world 



"Legend rambles in thought. The mind 
of posterity must ramble in company! 3 
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY 



Contents 



INTRODUCTION, XI 



Chapter i 

ENGLAND THE ANCIENT PORT OF PLYMOUTH, 1 

Chapter 2 

ARTHURIAN LEGEND AND GLORIES OF THE 
CORNISH COAST, 21 

Chapter 3 

DREAMING SOMERSET ENTERTAINS THE BEAUTIES 
OF BATH, 41 

Chapter 4 

WILTSHIRE'S ROLLING DOWNS AND THE "PREENING COAST" 
OF LITTLE DORSET, 58 

Chapter 5 

BERKSHIRE, THE VALE OF THE WHITE HORSE, SURREY, 
AND THE SUSSEX DOWNS, 77 

Chapter 6 

TOPIARY GARDENS IN KENT PARGETTING IN ESSEX, 96 

Chapter 7 

A GREAT GENTLEMAN IS THE SUFFOLK PUNCH. 
CHEQUERBOARD BRICK HOUSES OF NORFOLK, Il8 

Chapter 8 
RUTLAND'S EMBLEM is A HORSESHOE. THE WELDED SHIRES 

OF NORTHAMPTON, HUNTINGDON, AND BEDFORD, IgQ 

ix 



Chapter 9 

CASTLE OF WARWICK THE KINGMAKER. HUNTING 
LEICESTERSHIRE, AND DEEP-MEADOW SHROPSHIRE, 162 

Chapter 10 

PAINTED FIGURINES OF STAFFORDSHIRE. THE 
GOLDEN COTSWOLDS, l8g 

Chapter n 

THROUGH OXFORDSHIRE TO LONDON, 205 

Chapter 12 

VERSATILE SHIRES, DERBYSHIRE, NOTTINGHAM, AND LINCOLN, 
EMBRACE "THE DUKERIES," 227 

Chapter jj 

THE RIDINGS OF YORKSHIRE, WILD NORTHUMBERLAND, 
AND LAKELAND MOUNTAINS, 247 

Chapter 14 

PRIDEFUL OF HER EMBATTLED HISTORY, WALES BREAKS HER 
RED DRAGON BANNER AGAINST THE SKY, 267 

Chapter 15 

THE COASTLINE OF WALES AND NORTHERN IRELAND 
DEEPLY CARVED BY THE IRISH SEA, 2 86 

Chapter 16 

PRIDE OF RACE AND GRANDEUR OF TERRAIN 
EXEMPLIFY SCOTLAND, 



Chapter xj 

THROUGH THE HIGHLANDS, THE LONELY LOCHS, AND 
SEAWARD TO THE MISTY ISLES, 332 

INDEX, 356 
X 



Introduction 



DURING the many journeys I have taken to the four extremities 
of the terrain called Britain, I have sensed an awareness that 
a knight named History, mounted, armed cap-a-pie, com- 
panioned me; too, the feeling that I as designated by ancient sooth- 
sayers "History's familiar/' am part of a pageant of the centuries. 
I know that every acre of ground I traverse is in some way historic 
ground. If I had the time for research in the deeds of squires, varlets, 
yeomen of knightly achievements in "battles of the baronies," or 
in the eternal rise and fall of dynasties, I would find that in each 
town or cottage hamlet I passed through, and behind the lichened 
walls of castles, some derelict, but in many cases still occupied, his- 
tory rampant would unfurl bright heraldic banners on the breeze, 
toss its helmet plumes, and render me a tale of sound and fury that 
I would not soon forget. Always, as I wind my way, I realized that it 
matters not whether I range through England, redolent of hawthorn, 
lace-patterned by silently slipping rivers, or the dark, haunted fast- 
nesses of cloud-shadowed Wales, or proud, strife-riven, castled Scot- 
land, wearing its heritage of Scottish sovereignty as its chief tartan, 
or the windy harbor villages of Northern Irelandit is recorded 
history from earliest times that forever elevates Britain in one's 
imagination. 

My schoolmaster in Ireland once surprised me into action by 
asking point blank, "Reynolds, who were the Picts?" I was floored. 
Then and there I vowed not only to find out all I could about the 
mysterious Picts, but what there was to know about those who came 
before the Picts. 

xi 



Recently when I was in Edinburgh compiling data for this book, 
I was asked to lecture on the legendary race of giants from the Glens 
of Antrim in North Ireland, who sprang across the Irish Sea "in 
a multitudinous great lepp," to people the regions of Argyll and 
Kintyre. Whereupon these naked, painted rascals proceeded to 
harass the Roman legions, confronting (but never being subdued 
by) the most powerful army in the world, with no other weapons 
than light, flint-headed spears and wolf-skin bags full of sharp-edged 
stones. The infuriated Roman soldiers called these Picts "the shale 
hurlers." Now, in literature, I find that there is renewed interest, 
largely controversial, in the Picts, who have apparently frightened 
modern historians as much as they did the ancient Romans. The 
Western Islands of Scotland are known to be filled with Pictish 
treasure-trove for the enterprising archaeologist. Excavations are 
soon to be put into work all along the Western Coast Road from 
Cornwall to Cape Wrath. It will not be long before visitors to Britain 
will be treated to the real truth about Anglo-Saxon antiquities and 
the genesis of history in Britain. 

The finding of no less than twenty-five tremendously long barrows 
in the East Yorkshire uplands and Lincolnshire Wolds, containing 
half-burnt bones intermingled with funerary offerings of flint and 
shale, crude pots and urns with narrow mouths, cylindrical in form, 
attest to three thousand years before the Roman invasion of a kind 
of nomad agricultural life by a people of tall, attenuated frame, the 
skull being extremely long and narrow. These were the early settlers 
from the Northern Islands (presumably the Orkneys) who lived on 
the uplands, planted wheat, domesticated animals, hunted the wild 
red deer, set up monolithic stones to deities representing the ele- 
ments, and fashioned a light, intensely hard clay pottery in which 
to store grain. Thousands of these cylindrical, round-bottomed 
jars were stored in caves and found in perfect condition by the 
Romans. 

At the time of the coming of the Romans to Britain in A.D< 43, 
the Brigantes peopled the North English Coast, and the more cul- 
tured Parisi the vast area of Holderness and the Wolds. In A.B. 73 
the Roman conquest of the North of England was begun. York 
Minster today occupies what was the center of the Roman fortifica- 
tions. During AJ>. 75-85 Agricola was Roman Governor of Britain. 
In the course of a brilliantly conceived campaign against the Welsh 
he built a fortified road from Chester to Carlisle, bridging the Tyne 

xii 



and the Tees across the Stainmore Pass. I drove from Carlisle into 
Scotland along this modern motorists' highway. 

In the first years of the second century the hitherto quiet Brigantes 
threw in their fortunes with the fiercely warlike Northern Cale- 
donians who rose in revolt. Within two months all Roman posses- 
sions in Scotland were lost. 

So far the Romans had built only stockades of clay, turf, and 
wooden pilings, a few stone fortifications, military roads, and a few 
country villas. The common soldiery lived in long serpentine bar- 
racks built of wattle and clay daub, or, if on the march, crudely 
constructed tents called "capes," for this shelter was formed from 
circular-cut canvas or woolen capes, the tent pole being the long 
spear that was, like the cape, part of their equipment. With the 
coming of the Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 123, loudly proclaiming 
revenge for the Roman defeat, a momentous building orgy was be- 
gun. This well-known builder added another wonder to the antique 
world, Hadrian's Wall, built as a defining frontier to the Empire 
from the Tyne to Bowness on Solway Firth, a distance of seventy-four 
English miles. Its reaches variously preserved, this wall still remains 
to distinguish the Scottish border scene. Of all existing Roman 
monuments none is more striking or romantic than the great Wall 
itself. 

In the seventh century English soil supported increasing numbers 
of stone fortifications. That the Anglo-Saxons knew well how to 
construct stone buildings for defense even on infirm soil is borne 
out by the mighty Crowland fortress and church built in 948; hard 
earth was brought here from elsewhere and mixed with moist clayey 
soil from the marsh, the whole being strengthened by a forest of oak 
piles driven twenty feet into the ground. 

According to existing records, the first great castle built in Eng- 
land, later to become the very symbol of romance and tales of the 
gallantry of knighthood, was Tintagel, affronting the windy reaches 
of the sea on the bronze-gold rocks of Tintagel Headland in Corn- 
wall. The date for the building of Tintagel varies greatly. Some 
chroniclers place it early as A.D. 500, though reputable scribes like 
Geoffrey de Monmouth place the date as a century later. Tintagel 
Castle, situated in a natural proscenium of rocks, set the stage in 
history, not alone as a magnificently situated castle of impressive 
appearance, its proportions flaunting a grander scale than any be- 
fore seen in Britain and unique in its time for the luxuriousness 

xiii 



of its furnishings, but as center for the dramatic story concerned with 
the ravishing of the beautiful Igraine, wife of Gorlois, Duke of 
Cornwall, by Uther Pendragon, and with the birth of Arthur. Leg- 
ends detail the exploits of Arthur, and Tintagel's very name evokes 
pictures of the great romantic days of chivalry. And so, as one pro- 
gresses across Britain, the historic theme runs on. The tapestry pat- 
tern depicting town and countryside is stitched with skill. The 
original brilliance of timelessness is wonderfully sustained. 

The Welsh Marches resound with nature's lavish spread of water- 
fall and birdsong, and the singing of a race to whom song is as 
effortless as breathing their cool mountain air. It has been said by 
Daniel Owen, a Welsh poet, "In Wales little ever changes. The 
elements are by turns soft or savage. Rhododendron thickets bloom 
as red each year. Waterfalls churn froth to cream the rocks. Sheltered 
by Snowdon, only the seasons change in Wales." I find life for the 
Welshman takes color and meaning from the immensity of Snow- 
donia's protective shoulders. On the southern slopes of this range 
I came upon gray-violet stone villages which seemed tucked away in 
hiding. Flat-faced houses are roofed in blue slate from surrounding 
quarries, first split asunder by the stone ax-heads of prehistoric 
savages. Gaunt castles rise on serrated rocks jutting into the sea, or 
seem to hover, about to take flight above some dark, fern-choked 
gorge. These are ancient strongholds of the Welsh robber barons 
whose lives were one long series of raids on their neighbors' property 
to fill their coffers and larders. This devious gentry also tormented 
the invading armies of a dozen persistent English kings, and at one 
time conquered a half-barbarian Ireland for the Earl of Pembroke, 
known as Strongbow, allied with Walter the Geraldine, out of Italy, 
a warrior with thunderous voice, progenitor of the still "dazzling*' 
Fitzgeralds. Wales remains- aloof, dark browed, retaining the musical 
cadences of its own tongue. Every leaf on the magnificent stands of 
Welsh oaks that shadow the valleys quivers with remembrance of 
its reverberating history. 

But as I journey into Scotland I am persuaded that perhaps in all 
Britain it is here that history looms more compelling in stature, is 
more immediate today, for it is whispered, voiced openly, or pro- 
claimed in song and poetry so long as there is breath in a Scottish 
body. Ever since, in A.D. 565, St. Columba out of Ireland visited 
pagan King Brude, Pictish ruler of North Scotland, who granted the 
saint and his followers a church on the Island of lona, Scottish sov- 

xiv 



ereignty has obsessed the race. Spanning the centuries from Robert 
the Bruce to the last ill-starred attempt by exiled Charles Stuart to 
regain the crown at Derby in 1745, there has been no Scottish king 
in the Palace of the Holy Rood. Every traveler in Scotland is greatly 
entertained by the annual festivals that so patently keep alive this 
national ardor. 

In Northern Ireland is one of the greatest castles anywhere in the 
world, weighted with history. Hoary old Carrickfergus crouches like 
a leviathan seeming about to rise from watery depths, to dominate 
a jut of rock breasting the mingled waters of Belfast Lough and the 
Irish Sea, in County Antrim. The first great Norman fortress built 
in Ireland, Carrickfergus was started in 1213, but altered and en- 
larged many times during the following century. Today there is 
scarcely a crevice or rift in the massive stonework that set a pattern 
for the 234 FitzGerald castles that rose from Irish rocks or turf. 
Throughout Ireland Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, is credited 
with having partially designed the bailey walls and the massive 
square central tower of the castle which is still inhabited during the 
summer season of the year. 

Wherever one travels in the British scene the eye is compelled by 
the ancient abbeys, some derelict in green pastures, or silhouetted, 
insubstantial fragments of gray stone lace, against hillsides clothed in 
the undulant dark green of oak or beech woodslovely, mute, but 
ever beckoning relics of the fatal day in 1535 when Henry VIII, in 
livid anger at papal excommunication, visited suppression on the 
monasteries throughout his realm. The smaller monasteries and 
abbeys at once reverted to the king, but the greater ones, such as 
Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island, immediately off the coast of 
Northumberland, a powerful principality in itself, were long a-dying, 
seeking intercession from Rome. Eventually, like its once strongly 
entrenched fellows Rievaulx Abbey, Easby Abbey, and Tynemouth 
Priory, Lindisfarne Priory was preempted. Ninety abbeys fell to 
destroying time. All this glory of carven stone, painted glass, and 
gilded cedar screens fell into variously beautiful ruins that are today 
places of pilgrimage for visitors. 

It is with wonder that I contemplate the great range of castles and 
fortifications and the ancient manor houses which still stand through- 
out Britain, forming part of its architectural heritage. Some are now 
open to the public for the first time. Others are in ruins but about 
them, for the uninitiated, hovers an air of mystery. Why, and in 

xv 



remote cases how, were these massive buildings constructed and by 
whom? What was the purpose of erecting these monuments, for in 
most cases that is what they are, in shape and form so various? 

Castles and private houses that have long been pictured and 
written about as examples of the finest architecture in Britain's 
history, as well as veritable museums for famous collections of art 
such as Knole of the Sackvilles in Kent, are now, by the grace of the 
National Trust, accessible to the tourist. Today it is possible to visit 
these houses, to view at leisure house, gardens, and treasure, when 
heretofore one had at most only been able to peer at the mansion 
through grilled iron gates half a mile or more distant. Tea is served 
in many houses such as Blenheim Palace at Woodstock, seat of the 
Churchills, and on some days the owners themselves take visitors 
around in house and garden to describe in detail, as no one else 
could, perhaps a velvet and filigree silver saddle once used by "The 
Great" Duke of Marlborough for ceremonial appearances, or at 
Hagley Hall, Worcestershire a portrait painted by Romney of a 
famous beauty who on her death bed bade the artist, 'Taint me as 
you saw me at the last Pump Room rout in Bath when I wore pink." 
So traveling in Britain nowadays one can see more intimately than 
ever before its rare treasures of history and art. 

A wise, sensitive, much-traveled friend once said to me, "In your 
books you describe buildings of stone, marble, wood, whatever, with 
power or tenderness, as if each one was to you a personality. You 
make inanimate stone and mortar breathe with life," 

It is well put, for it truly expresses a belief I have striven always 
to convey. To me these preserved or fragmentary castles, cathedrals, 
abbeys, fortresses, manor houses, even the little, shy villages where 
cottages hug each other closely under thatch or slate, are the voice 
of the country. They are its heartbeat, the ancient dos-rolls of its 
history. Britain, far and wide, I find extraordinarily rich and reward- 
ing in its architecture, its frozen history. 

JAMES REYNOLDS 
Mellerstaine 
Firth of Forth 



XVI 



Chapter / 



ENGLAND THE ANCIENT 
PORT OF PLYMOUTH 



WHEN choosing a point of entrance to a country, I am prone 
to land at a seaport agreeable in atmosphere and as inter- 
esting historically as the land affords. I have great affection 
for maritime villages with the usual life and color indigenous to 
harbors. I have found that while the theme of masts, spars, rigging, 
and so on prevails in essence, there are countless different ways by 
which seamen express racial traits in the cutting and hanging of a 
sail, the carving of a prow in some ancient tradition, or in some such 
fantastic painted design as the Phoenician eye, immense, in brush 
strokes of black and white, that one sees traced on either side of the 
scimitar-shaped prow of Portuguese and Spanish fishing boats. 

Regard closely a map of the British Isles. The sweeping coastline 
of England alone is indented with more ports of entry to its shores, to 
the square inch, than any other island I have ever visited. Even the 
course of England's history has been shaped by her coastline, and 
never more dramatically than in the days of "The Magnificent 
Tudor," Elizabeth I of England. 

It seems that the queen at Whitehall was under great stress. A 
message from Drake had been brought to her by an exhausted courier 
riding hard from Hastings, that the mighty Spanish Armada, "encom- 
passing the channel with a thousand ships," was sailing inexorably 
upon her shores. Apprehensive, the queen called for a map of her 
sea-girded realm. With a heavily jeweled finger she traced the coast- 
line from Northumberland to Cornwall. She raised her head, her 
eyes noting the dismay riding the faces of lords in attendance. 

"By the rood," she shouted, "my cliffs are pitted with as many ports 



for the sudden landing of men as a honeycomb is pocked with cells." 

Taking a few swift steps to the windows, she looked out and across 
the courtyard towards the distant sea. Elizabeth Tudor turned, and 
her courtiers noted her sly smile. Her lips scarcely moving, she said, 
"Perhaps in that very fault of too many illy manned ports lies our 
safety. The Spaniard is tardy in decisions. While he ponders a choice 
of harbors to invade we will send out crafts from every quay and 
beach to confuse him." 

Even from faraway Plymouth, and Devonport, its twin across the 
River Tamar, sailed four high-pooped caravels to join the "great 
spread fan of English ships" which turned threatened disaster into a 
glorious rout of the enemy. 

I like the entrance to Plymouth waters. The shipping is heavy 
today. Above the tops of masts gilded letters proclaim the comfortable 
Duke of Cornwall Hotel. The brilliant green, gently rolling hills of 
Devonshire offer a mellow backdrop to the rather stern, high-fronted 
stone houses. An air of perpetual carnival is lent by the graceful 
balconies and filigree ironwork verandas that distinguish the build- 
ings facing the sea from Marine Parade. These iron traceries are 
painted almond green, mauve, primrose yellow, white, and black. 
The narrow houses of the town proper taper off into charmingly 
frivolous villas in Regency style, which in turn give over to white- 
washed stone fishermen's cottages where fish nets are flung over 
gabled roofs or festooned from long poles. The nets, dyed by seaweed 
to burnished bronze, gleam like molten metal in the sun, to gain in 
the shadows a slumberous dark purple like the skins of Devonshire 
plums. As my tender warily negotiated the delta-shaped port, alive 
with fussy shipping, I sketched this scene, this typical South of Eng- 
land seaport, and ruminated on the invariable friendliness of harbors. 
Amazingly decorative are the metallic swags of immemorial fish nets 
that I have sketched the world over. 

The town of Plymouth is laid out in the semblance of a shell. 
Streets varying in length branch off at right angles from Marine 
Parade and the Fishermen's Quay. The short narrow streets in the 
old town are shadowed in the daytime by the steeply pitched roofs of 
centuries-old lodging houses for sailors, with the inevitable pub sand- 
wiched in between every few houses. High up, under the overhanging 
eaves of the buildings, I was aware of the long, narrow, slightly arched 
"winking windows" which lend to the appearance of a house wall the 
inquiring look that a lifted eyebrow does to a face. In the gathering 



dusk soft light glowed in these windows, soft laughter lilted, as 
obligate to the strains of music from a harmonica, an accordion or 
I stopped to listenthe ingratiating rhythm of a guitar strummed, 
surely, by a Latin sailor's hand. 

I looked along the dimly lit, music-haunted street. Swaying signs 
proclaimed "The Sailor's Return" "The Glass and Lass and Bed, 
and Sail Again"- "The Belling Canvas" and, most elaborate of all, 
"The Golden Bearded Sailor/' showing a ruddy-faced man, resplend- 
ent golden curls and crinkly beard brushed, not in yellow ochre or 
chrome oil paint, but in gleaming, metallic gold. On the sailor's 
head perched a ridiculously small blue cap. What interested me 
greatly was that he held in one hand an old-fashioned spyglass, lev- 
eled as if he were gazing out to sea. Painted in gold lettering in 
delicate Spencerian script were the words Edie Stone. I knew of 
Eddystone Light just off the Devon coast. I had to find out what 
this unusual pub sign meant, for I was convinced there must be a 
story behind it. 

The bar parlor was nearly empty. The publican, after I had or- 
dered a mug of ale, was eager to tell me the story; in fact, he became 
expansive. As I probably had heard, he said, Eddystone Lighthouse 
off the coast in Plymouth Sound was built in 1696-98 by Henry 
Winstanley, scientist and artist with a passion for the sea. During the 
building of the lighthouse Winstanley was captured by a French 
privateer. But Louis XIV heard of this and when he was shown some 
of the prisoner's paintings of seascapes, he severely reprimanded the 
officer and ordered Winstanley released, adding that he was at war 
with England, not with humanity, certainly not with a gifted painter. 
Further he added, a lighthouse on the treacherous Edie Stone would 
benefit mankind. 

To mollify the artist the king gave him a purse of louis d'or. The 
lighthouse, which was gaudily painted on its hexagonal exterior walls 
with panels of horrendous shipwrecks, contained sumptuous apart- 
ments. Tallow candles, huge in girth, illuminated the tower. A pil- 
lared gallery in French Renaissance taste surmounted the structure 
with a curious kind of "captain's walk" jutting out over the sea. But 
through overdecoration the whole structure was unstable. One night 
when Winstanley was visiting the lighthouse and entertaining a party 
of friends with wine, a raging storm arose (recorded for posterity as 
"The Great Gale of November 26, 1703"). Undeterred by the ferocity 
of the wind, Winstanley, paying no heed to his friends' entreaties to 

3 



stay indoors, went out onto the captain's walk. A mountainous wave 
washed him into the sea. 

"So" a waving of hands expressing "what would you?" the publi- 
can continued "a fellow came into my pub one day. It was called 
'The Compass* at that time." The man stroked his own jet-black 
beard. " 'An artist I am/ he said. 'A descendant of Winstanley who 
built Eddystone Lighthouse, but I'm on the ragged edge of poverty. 
For a night's lodging I'll paint you a sign that will attract attention 
and trade/ " He rubbed his hands together. Thoughtfully, "It did, 
too. It's quiet at the moment, of course, being supper time." 

I asked, "Who is the golden-bearded sailor painted on the sign?" 

The man smiled rather sheepishly. "Well I asked him to paint 
an image of me. But it turned out to be himself Bellew he said 
his name washe being fair-bearded, but not guinea gold like he 
painted. He told me to tell any askers as how it was a" Eyebrows 
drawn together, the man puzzled a moment. "Oh yes composite's 
the word. That is three people lumped together old Winstanley, as 
was drowned, Prince Albert, the consort of our Queen Victoria, you 
know, and himself." 

So that was the story. Eddystone Light is rebuilt, not so flamboy- 
antly, flashing steadfastly its appointed warning to seafarers. 

Plymouth Borough has built a fine new pier to accommodate large 
steamships of the trans- Atlantic type, for such ships on a cruise now 
put in at this port. As I looked at this pier, the last word in modernity 
of design, all steel and chromium, I wondered at just which spot of 
the quay the fantastically overloaded Mayflower put out into the 
unknown, frightening waters, with the Pilgrim Fathers and their 
families kneeling on the deck praying and singing hymns. But until 
the last sight of Plymouth faded into the morning mists these zealots 
remained facing their homeland. Indeed, it was Mistress Phoebe 
Darrell of this port who carried in her muff a piece of the rock upon 
which Plymouth is built. In her case a muff was not a fashionable 
trifle, but was a capacious affair woven from many yards of good stout 
Devon wool. 

Hard by the old shipyards, built in a long ' 'chain" of berths along 
the River Tamar, is the dungeon quarter of the town, so called be- 
cause of an ancient stone keep, today known as The Black Prince's 
Castle, built upon eleventh-century crypts later utilized as dungeons. 
This massive, ivy-clad stone tower standing in solitude serves as 
assembly hall for raucous sea birds. 



If the stones were given voice, what tall tales this tower could tell 
of days when England was ruled by a procession of "proud, boastful 
Plantagenets"! Perhaps one of its greatest memories is of a black, 
windy night in 1357. In secrecy, Edward-The Black Prince-fresh 
from his victorious battle of Poictiers, and "full bloodsome for 
French chivalry," as he wrote his father at Westminster, sailed into 
the mole of Plymouth with his captive, Philip VI, the Valois King of 
France. Visitors to the tower are shown a yard or so of grimy rope. 
Faded to a muddy reddish-gray, the braided strands are not hemp nor 
ever were, but heavy silk, almost of damask weave, for royal prisoners 
if bound at all must be bound by silken thongs. 

Lying in a fair, semitropical countryside, Plymouth and its en- 
virons pay strict attention to cultivating an extravagance of flowers. 
Gardens front most of the houses and the more spacious public 
gardens extend along the sea road all the way to Wembury, where 
the stone walls of Georgian houses, primly pointed up with white 
pillared porches and window sashes, are nearly smothered with 
climbing roses. The "Plymouth Princess" moss rose thrives in Devon- 
shire and Somerset. 

The roads leading out of Plymouth are as numerous as the spokes 
of a carriage wheel. At a crossroads near Paignton a signpost points 
down a winding lane. The pointing wooden finger reads, "Dart- 
mouth, Visit St. Saviour's Church." Through the hawthorn tunnel, 
the fragrant air clamorous with humming of orange and black bees, 
I came out into even denser shade of oak and chestnut grove to 
the sound of bells ringing out the hour of high noon. 

Then, surrounding a sunny green, I saw a village "lovely and lost, 
by the world forgot," Dartmouth in Devon, or at least this bypath 
segment of it. A larger town of shops, reached through a dense woods, 
lies a quarter of a mile away. St. Saviour's is a silver-gray stone church 
rearing a tall square tower. Norman and Gothic architecture twine 
fingers here. Many changes, many restorations, have taken place since 
its inception in the twelfth century. 

It is the remarkable ironwork decoration on the door set in a 
Norman arch that draws the attention of visitors. Archaeologists in- 
tently study the hammer-dent texture with magnifying glass and slide 
rule at the ready. In high relief a curiously shaped heraldic beast, 
lion or leopard, is portrayed full face in dancing pose, one foreleg 
and one hind leg raised high cavorting on the limb of a mulberry 
tree. The beast's tail forms an enormous lock, shaped like a giant's 



safety pin. The beautifully wrought tree forms a background screen. 
Notched leaves spread flat on the oakwood door. The leaves are 
secured to the wood by iron spikes, the heads modeled in the sem- 
blance of insects and silkworms. In iron numerals the date is shown 
as 1631. 

It transpires that at one time a family named Masterton retained 
a manor near Dartmouth. An enterprising son of the family joined 
the privateers of the age. He imported silkworms from India. To 
mark the event of his entering the silk trade he presented this door 
to the church, emblazoning his arms as well. 

Devonshire is one of the few counties in England where castles 
stemming from the Norman Conquest do not bulk large in the land- 
scape. The castles of England and Wales are among the most impres- 
sive remains of the Middle Ages. The massive construction, the 
suggestion of impregnability, compel the eye and spike interest to 
study the variations of walls, battlements, the inner and outer bailey, 
and the ingenious manner in which dwelling houses set amidst 
pleasant gardens were included within the fortress walls. These 
castles vary greatly according to their state of preservation. Museum 
or ruin, they are a reminder of a turbulent epoch when the power 
of states and kings was hardly greater than that of the powerful and 
haughty principal nobles. Castles are both the creation and the ex- 
pression of the feudal system. In England the Romans had built walls 
and fortifications of great strength but little beauty. The Saxons 
built walls around their farms or * 'holds/' with a few watchtower 
sentinels, close to their Scottish borders. The overwhelming feudal 
system came to England with the Norman Conquest after the Battle 
of Hastings in 1066. Like giant mushrooms spawned in stone, the 
fortress castles dominated the scene, reaching their most impressive 
grandeur and grimly powerful aspect during the long Plantagenet 
line of kings, influencing the life of the country for four hundred 
years. 

In most cases these castles are National Monuments today. Some 
are preserved as museums; such is Dartmouth Castle, or Dartmouth 
Mound, as it is generally known, built in 1495 * n crescent form on 
a rocky eminence commanding the seacoast for miles. It is unique 
in that it was the first castle built purely for defense to have gunports. 
Previously castle walls were pierced only with medieval arrow-slits. 
Here are large rectangular openings for cannon. 

I took the road from Dartmouth to Torquay by way of Totnes, an 

6 



old market town interlaced by gray stone walls which surround high 
gabled houses. Paignton~by-the-Sea is a forerunner of what to expect 
when reaching Torquay. Its beach is wide and gently sloping, a 
favorite playground for children because there is scarcely any under- 
tow. Surrounding country is wilder and has not the terraced hillsides 
garlanded with flowers that so distinguish Torquay. 

Torquay has the "elegant air" of an Edwardian duchess, delicately 
perfumed by an immense corsage of flowers by day, sailing forth at 
evening en grand tenue, glittering with diamonds. The situation of 
the town rising in graded terraces behind the Promenade along the 
sea requires festoons of lights to illuminate the streets bordered by 
heavily foliaged trees. Torquay has long entertained fashionable 
society. Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, fled London in furious 
temper to take refuge here from the printed penny lampoons and the 
audibly whispered gossip that her hold over Charles II, so brazenly 
secure for nearly three decades, was waning rapidly, along with her 
notorious beauty, ravaged disastrously because "The Cleveland" 
used too much white lead in her maquillage. In Tor Quay (the native 
name for the resort) she spent months at a time secluded in a small 
villa designed a la fantasie chinoise, one of her many gifts from the 
King. Never able to be alone for a moment, the duchess soon at- 
tracted a small salon of fops from London, chattering court gossip. 
When asked how she had found her pink and gilt villa, all tinkling 
crystal bells and painted silk wall panels, she replied airily, "I found 
it in Charles's pocket." 

Along the promenade for a curve of two miles are twenty-odd 
hotels varying in degrees of excellence. Food in Torquay hotels and 
restaurants is uniformly good. All manner of fish, fresh from the 
English Channel, may be chosen, fresh-cooked and hot, in countless 
little restaurants along the quay. The larger hotels, Palace and 
Osborn, built as a Georgian Crescent, lead the list. The Osborn is 
situated on a wide shelving terrace above a chain of rocky coves 
embracing small beaches of fine-powdered silver-gilt sand. 

The coastline of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, and Somerset is en- 
hanced by spectacular irregularity. The cliffs at Torquay are a natural 
curiosity, rewarding to view or to investigate. Little bays and coves 
abound where extraordinary rock formations create a pinnacled 
palace, carpeted with emerald moss and bronze seaweed, an echoing 
grotto cave, or a line of hidden coves gouged from the cliffs and 
towering striated headlands. Here one may picnic and swim or sun- 

7 



worship in solitary contentment. The coastline, jagged with these 
coves and beaches, urges one to become adventurous. No two days 
of roaming the scene will prove alike. 

Less known seaside villages where small, well-appointed hotels 
and boarding houses are sought by transient visitors string out along 
the Devonshire coast, bright hued as the paper favors tied to the 
tail of a carnival prize kite Brixham, Shaldon, Teignmouth this last 
a large market town where the nights glare and blare with traveling 
carnivals and gaudy Pierrot shows. Exmouth is an even larger market 
town; in earlier days the world-famed shipyards on the Exe throve 
here, but no longer are woodenhulled ships in demand. Close by is 
flower-drenched Otterton, a typical Devon garden town. Roses are 
largely of cottage garden cabbage rose variety that soon strews its 
petals. I saw housewives unconcernedly sweeping dropped rose petals 
from their doorsteps as part of the daily round. 

Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Salcomb Regis, each has a Per- 
pendicular church, that is, a low nave supporting a tall tower above 
a square ridgepole. Mill architecture, generally of rough quarried 
stone, long, steep-roofed tithe barns, and "apple store" houses play 
a definite part in the Devon scene. Colyton particularly treasures its 
great oak-beamed tithe barn well-preserved relic of 1350 and long 
stone cidermill, curiously thatched with bundles of willow withes. 
The withes are stained a rich bronze red from apple-peel mash thrown 
up onto the roof, after the millstones have pressed out the juice. 
Birds, bees, and rodents hold high feasting there. When the sun is 
hot the residue of apple juice ferments. Inebriated birds can scarcely 
lift their wings into the air, and rats and field mice, even squirrels 
and climbing wood creatures crossing the fields, run hilariously 
round in circles. 

Devonshire Fire is much preferred locally to any ale or beer* I 
drank this famous cider in three "strengths," one, two, and three 
years old. Hereabouts it is graded as "Stroke m'gullet" (one year 
old) , "Rainbow Is M' Couch" (two years t)ld) , and the real, twenty- 
carat firewater three years aged in wood " Last Will and Testa- 
ment-Pfft, Yer Dead." 

Many walled, moated, and battlemented farmhouses rise on small, 
man-made hillocks fronting the Dartmoor Plain and Dart Forests. 

An ancient English jollification of great diversity, the Royal Grant 
Fairs, dates back to the days of Queen Boadicea, Britain's first great 
horsewoman who, in the year A.D. 61, decreed a "gathering of chariots" 

8 



at Colchester, a Horse Fair to celebrate her victory in wresting her 
"throne city" from the Romans. After the races were run, a sale 
of horses took place, where it is probable hundreds of horses changed 
owners. 

It is written that the warrior queen's chariot, four horses harnessed 
abreast, raced the length of a stone-paved way following a bank of 
the River Stour from Colchester to Harwich, a distance estimated at 
eighteen (statute) miles. Whether she won the race or not ancient 
chroniclers fail to say. 

All manner of fairs are held annually in every county in England. 
Possibly it is the West Country fairs that hold most strictly to the 
old traditions of Royal Grant celebrations. On the first day of The 
Hand of Welcome Fair I arrived in Honiton, that ancient town of 
gray stone lace, once walled, the "churchly" town where Chaucer 
"for penance of ribaldry" used to visit the prior of the Leper Hos- 
pital, whose patroness was St. Margaret. Because of her charity this 
fair is sometimes known as St. Margaret's Fair. At the appointed hour 
a town crier in full panoply of conical, point-brimmed hat, red 
velvet houpland or gown laced in gold (the style dating from the 
time of Henry V when he brought French fashions from France on 
his marriage to Princess Margaret after Agincourt) proceeds the 
whole length of the street, reciting in ringing tones: 

"The glove is up the glove is up the glove is up! The fair is 
open the fair is openl No man can be arrested for any offense what- 
soever during the twenty-four hours that the glove remains in 
position." 

The shouting which greets this proclamation is deafening, and its 
startling proviso is literally observed. The Hand of Welcome, gilded 
and streaming with garlands of flowers and ribbons on which are 
painted Chaucerian mottos of high sophistication, is carried by three 
or four chosen youths, who place it on its pole over the porch of one 
of the principal inns. Here it remains for the duration of the fair. 
Pennies, heated on shovels, are thrown down for children to pick 
up barehanded. Great is the din of squealing thereof. A few gypsy 
ponies may be brought in from Dartmoor to be sold, but the old- 
time livestock, flower, and vegetable stalls, and the vendors of "pret- 
ties and fairings for a penny piece, my lady" are no more. Drinking 
and dancing are the main attractions. Among other Devon fairs I 
have attended is Tavistock Goosey Fair, lively and noisy. Geese are 
sold from pens of greenery decked with ribbons. Prizes for fine 

9 



birds are awarded and the menu at all inns features roast goose 
and fried cider apples. 

Barnstable Fair fixes the date when Devoners shall harvest their 
apples and "set the stones" for cider making. The Dartmoor Pony 
Fair held at Bampton on the borders of Exmoor is first and foremost 
a nioor pony and sheep fair. Gypsy music and dancing lend liveliness 
and color to the event, but only after the serious business of buying 
and selling livestock is concluded. The Welcome Hand or Glove Fair 
has many variations in Devon. Exeter holds a Lammas Fair, but 
the hand holds a blooded sword in memory of the city's perennial 
riots with the Earls of Devon who tried to suppress this fair on 
Lammas Day. Crediton still holds a Mop Fair, where a mistress 
hires a maid who proclaims her readiness to serve by carrying a mop, 
a duster, or a broom made of willow withes over her shoulder as 
she parades the streets seeking employment. 

I drove into Ottery St. Mary at "chiming time/' The inhabitants 
of these Southwest villages of England stop whatever they may be 
doing, while church bells ring for evensong. I saw a woman wearing 
a broad-brimmed, chip straw garden hat, her rather Hogarthian high- 
colored countenance flushed bright pink, pause, listen, stand stock 
still, one hand holding a rose she had just cut, presumably to decorate 
her tea table, poised in mid air. Two little girls skipping rope 
stopped, as if the coiled spring of energy had suddenly run down. 
Looking along the street of ancient stone cottages, for Ottery St. 
Mary as a Royal Borough has breasted twenty centuries, I saw a 
great picture. Westering sun and long painted shadows. English vil- 
lage life in arrested motion. I spoke to the woman cutting roses in 
her small box-hedged garden. I noticed that she started as if surprised 
in thought when I complimented her on the size and beauty of her 
roses. 

"I did not see you," she shook her head. "I was praying, as I 
always do when I listen to the bells/' 

I tucked the dark red rose that she gave me into my buttonhole 
and went off to engage lodgings at The Bull, a Charles II tavern 
where I had often put up before. After a satisfying dinner of tender 
fresh pork and potatoes roasted in the same pan, garnished with 
apples preserved whole in ginger, I topped off with gooseberries and 
Devon cream, golden, and nearly as thick as butter, then scooped a 
generous portion from a wonderfully ripe and pungent Stilton 
cheese. For exercise I took a walk around the old Market Cross and 

10 



then retired. During the night I was awakened three or four times 
by a curious whistling noise, now loud and shrill, to die gently away 
to a low whirring. I lay wondering, then I remembered. I had heard 
this sound before at night in Ottery St. Mary. 

Next morning, I walked to St. Mary's Church, a twelfth-century 
edifice, supporting on its castellated tower The Trumpeting Cock, 
whose curious whistling of the hours had disturbed my night's rest. 
I am partial to all sorts of oddly conceived weather vanes. They add 
a touch of novelty and inventiveness of design to many an otherwise 
unremarkable roof. The gilded bronze chanticleer which rides the 
moorland winds sweeping across Ottery St. Mary measures over three 
feet in length. He trumpets through two trumpet-like tubes passing 
from the breast through the body, each tube being fitted with a 
tongue so as to produce a siren moaning, the volume of sound depend- 
ing on the force of the wind. A flowing tail is gorgeously pinked and 
crimped. The comb or crest is the notable feature, equal to a panache 
of heraldic plumes on the helm of a knight. In 1335, Sir Ralph 
Maltby, before setting off to the wars, placed this emblem of his 
house atop the church to crow his memory, to keep it forever green. 

On the road to Exeter there is an old house called Cockington 
Court built during the reign of Queen Anne. Nearly hidden in a 
tree-shaded dell, this house is a most salubrious retreat during the 
day. Almost nightly Cockington is haunted by a former drink-sodden 
master, who roars and stamps his way through the house. He is 
called The Strangles Many deaths by strangling, visited upon in- 
habitants of the house, are credited to this man still searching for 
the cavalier who one dark night robbed him of his beautiful wife. 
By day many visitors roam the gardens and take tea in the lovely 
paneled rooms. At night the house is closed, the dark rooms given 
to ravings and the clutching hand. 

In Devonshire it is manor houses of ancient lineage that focus 
attention. Many of the manor houses and fortified manor farms were 
originally incorporated into the existing precincts of abbeys, built 
so long ago that their derelict state was due simply to the dying out 
of an order or because the monks moved to larger quarters. The 
Cistercian monastery of Buckland Abbey, for example, founded in 
1278, was granted by Henry VIII to Sir Richard Grenville in 1576. 
Sir Richard called in architects from Exeter. He bade them retain 
some of the monastic buildings, yet form the main part of the house 
from sculptured stone taken from the church transept itself. A 



11 



floor of massive oak panels, salvaged from a Spanish ship wrecked off 
the coast at Sidmouth, was laid in the nave. This vast, echoing vault 
became richly paneled apartments, the rooms which distinguish the 
present house. 

One room is floored in a unique manner with lozenges of red and 
white marble. A plaster frieze executed in great vitality of design 
depicts a tree of life. A galaxy of Arcadian fauns contorted into 
strange, yet graceful, attitudes support as caryatids an exquisitely 
ribbed or "pleated" ceiling. 

When Sir Francis Drake returned from his greatly acclaimed 
voyage around the world in 1581, Buckland was vacant. Drake 
promptly bought the abbey. It was he who placed the magnificent 
plaster overmantel in the great tower room, his sanctum, where 
maps and charts and gear from his voyages were kept. As central 
motif it bears his arms, the polestars, and a galleon in full sail. The 
entire house is elegantly furnished with Greville appointments which 
Sir Francis bought on purchasing the house, plus a great many 
unusual pieces that he had brought back from his voyages. The 
effect is rich. A great deal of Spanish gilded wood is in evidence. 
Buckland Abbey is open daily to visitors. 

It became a by-word during the reign of Henry VIII that he 
pressed his signet ring so often into crimson wax to seal a parchment 
document granting manors in Devonshire to favorites that the county 
became known in broadsides hawked for a sou in London streets as 
"Cramped Quarters in Too-Neighborly Vale." 

Sir Jeffrey Hatton, to whom Henry VIII had but lately granted 
Rackenford Court, a manor near Tiverton, continued to appear so 
constantly at court that the King was moved to ask him why he was 
not deep in Devonshire at his manor. Did he not like the place? 

Sir Jeffrey replied, "I like it well enough, Your Grace. But I am 
too inclosed too overlooked due to your generosity. Why, every 
time I go out of doors to relieve myself against a hedge I face my 
neighbor doing the same thing." 

This sally is said to have so amused the King that he ordered a 
masque to be written on this theme, which was enacted with full 
realistic flourish by court gallants in country attire before the court 
at Hampton Palace. 

Approaching Exeter from the Northernay road one sees a half 
circle of prodigious stone wall, a medieval wall built on Roman 
foundations. The proud city keeps the highest existing city wall in 



England in perfect condition. It is eminently fitting that the first 
sight of Exeter, one of the most ancient and historic cities in the 
realm and admittedly one of the most attractive to view, from either 
far or near, should have so grand an anteroom. The Whitestone 
Hills partially surround the grassy plain, spread like a ceremonial 
carpet around the walls of Exeter. Moderately high, the crests 
wooded, the slopes famous for wild flowers, these hills offer a 
selection of observation posts from which to view the immensity and 
towering grandeur of the Cathedral, set as a creation of sculpture 
in the cruciform Cathedral Square. A myriad of pinnacled buttresses, 
completely surrounding the long nave and turreted towers, seem 
delicate as figments of a dream, but belie their looks, for this church 
has, since its erection in 1 160 on the foundations of a Saxon guildhall 
dating from the year 1000, withstood long-drawn-out sieges and 
dreadful assaults; it even sustained bombardment during the last 
war, leaving innumen, le scars which seem only to add to its imper- 
ishable beauty. 

The day I walked on the Whitestone Hills to sketch the cathedral 
at a distance, from different angles, the weather was as chancy as an 
April day in Connemara. I had driven upland in brilliant sunshine, 
though massive black thunderheads rolled up threatening ramparts 
in the sky behind the cathedral spires. The air was ominously still, 
hot, a portent. Suddenly the portent was justified. A gale of wind 
rose out of Hell. Every battery the elements could muster was 
brought into use at once. I sought no shelter, for I was dressed to 
face a storm. Before me rose a sight I shall never forget. I wish 
I could have painted it. But no one alive could do so with success. 
Below me loomed the cathedral. One moment it was blotted from 
sight by rain spears in millions. Thunder crashed and reverberated 
among the hills. Cracks of livid green lightning turned the heavens 
into a bizarre marbleized dome. As suddenly as the storm had risen, 
every element withdrew its forces at once. The clouds split asunder, 
revealing a limpid primrose sky fresh as the first morning of Creation. 
In slanting rays of a benign sun gleamed the drenched cathedral. 
Every particular carved boss and rosette encrusting the airy pin- 
nacles serenely identified itself in silver. Against the light sunset 
breeze cathedral bells rang out, deep-toned like breakers on a dis- 
tant shore. As I came down into Exeter from the hills I thought on 
the pageant I had witnessed a fanfaronade of the testy elements 



pitted against the serenity of an ancient House of God. What an old 
story this battling was, I thought, to both of them. 

Stand in the portal of the west front of the Cathedral, a soaring, 
pointed Gothic arch, and look down the azure blue reaches of the 
nave. Seen thus the interior is unsurpassed in England. I speak of 
azure blue distances because one looks down a receding succession 
of slender blue-gray Purbeck marble columns arranged in engaged 
clusters supporting graceful ribbed Gothic arches, a double tier to 
support the unbroken length of fan vaulting. This arrangement of 
muted color in Gothic ecclesiastical architecture is unique in 
England. The magnificent organ rising like a castle of fluted gold 
and silver, a quarter way down the nave, rests lightly, as if suspended 
in celestial blue mist, in reality resting upon a delicately carved blue 
marble screen pierced with Gothic arches. The impact of this scene 
is immeasurably heightened by the Byzantine richness of color glow- 
ing in the fourteenth-century glass East Window behind the Great 
Altar. 

During medieval times every city had its overlord. The pictorial 
history of England blazes with armorial bearings quartering these 
names. The rolls of charters glow with their style and titles. Exeter 
was unfortunate to have as its suzerain for three hundred years the 
Courtenays, Earls of Devon, the most powerful feudal family in 
the West. Until the early thirteenth century Exeter had gained im- 
mense riches in shipping. Vessels from all parts of the world were 
able to reach Exeter by river. Then the Courtenays, who controlled 
both banks of the River Exe below the city, blocked it with weirs, 
forcing ships to unload at their own manor of Topsham. Not until 
the downfall of the Courtenays, whose accumulated arrogance drove 
Henry VIII to force attainder on them, thus depriving them of all 
baronial privileges, was Exeter able to remove the weirs, regain 
control of the harbor, and revive the shipping which allowed the city 
to enjoy a new era of prosperity. 

In the south transept of the Cathedral is the embrasured tomb of 
Hugh de Courtenay, second Earl of Devon (d. 1377), and his wife, 
Margaret de Bohun, who outlived him by twelve years. Unusually 
decorative, the effigies, recumbent side by side, are greatly revealing, 
not only as to the characters of Lord and Lady Devon but as annota- 
tion on modes of the times. Both figures carved in smooth, almost 
polished texture are extremely tall and lean. The thin, high-cheek- 
boned face of the Earl is surly in expression; a deep furrow above 

14 



the bridge of his nose is as much a scar as a frown. He wears full 
armor, chain mail framing his face, conical helm, and what appear 
to be leather gauntlets. A wide belt girded extremely low on his 
thighs is heavily carved in jeweled cabochons. A two-handed battle 
sword of remarkable length rests along one leg. The most singular 
item of his apparel is a flat plaque or plastron, large as a salver and 
devoid of ornament, let into the body armor as if to protect his navel. 
Lady Devon is slender to the point of emaciation, but richly robed. 
She wears a garment known at the time as a cote hardiea French 
fashion cut extremely d<collet<. This is a skintight bodice cut long 
in the waist, the scalloped edges bound in fur which is here most 
skillfully modeled. A long full skirt is arranged in folds around her 
limbs. The headdress is a close-fitting coif; her throat is bare of a 
confining wimple. 

If one may take the fine modeling of her face as a true portrait, 
the lady must have been an aristocratic beauty with a cruel, petulant 
mouth. A touch of the macabre is given this pair, personifying power 
and circumstance, by the figures against which the feet of each effigy 
rest. In Lady Devon's case, it is either a serving maid or a female 
enemy in a most ignominious position. The head is muffled by folds 
of the long, swathed train. Yet the outlines of a head and face are 
visible, and folded arms extend from puffed sleeves. As for Devon 
himself, his mailed feet are braced against the severed head of a 
man with a mane of curly hair. The features are distorted, the lips 
are split wide in horror, or in agony. 

I am greatly interested in funerary sculpture as displayed on the 
Courtenay tomb for its importance as historical document, silently 
revealing more than any words can convey the usages of a given 
period. I cannot recall any pair of effigies that are so indicative of 
persons born to privileged power in a vanished time. Coupled with 
the fashionable elegance of their attire, writ large on their features 
is the ill-nature we know they possessed, for the documentation of 
the family as a whole attests their cruelty and selfish pride. 

In 1068 William the Conqueror erected his mighty castle fortress 
of Rougemont at the northern tip of the walled city at its highest 
point. A visitor can still walk around the castle ramparts (in the 
Conqueror's time the masonry was daubed with red clay which gave 
the castle its name) and look down on the rooftops of the town, 
along the reaches of the River Exe and the girdling Whitestone Hills. 
The castle was the symbol of the royal power, the cathedral of the 

15 



spiritual power, and the guildhall (now an Elizabethan building, the 
facade richly, rather ponderously embellished with carving) was the 
visible symbol of a spirited municipal life. There is much to see in 
Exeter that is rewarding Southernhay East and Pennsylvania Park, 
the latter a lyrical, gleaming white crescent of tall houses in Regency 
taste. Accent on style is added by the sharp tracery of delicate iron 
balconies and porches complimented by window boxes of red gera- 
niums and trailing yellow nasturtiums. 

Accommodations are excellent in Exeter. Rougemont Hotel is 
situated in Rougemont Park on the first rise of hills fronting the 
city. Encircled by a woodland of ilex, rhododendrons, cedars, and 
oak trees, it is as inviting as a fine country house. The Royal Clarence 
Hotel is placed more centrally facing cathedral close. It is a bow- 
windowed, ivory-white Georgian structure. Originally it was built 
by William Mackworth Praed, about 1768, as assembly rooms for the 
highest social entertaining, very like the famous Pump Room at 
Bath. The cuisine is notable. One would have to travel far to experi- 
ence a baron of beef and Yorkshire pudding prepared so well and 
served from massive silver with traditional flourish. The view from 
the dining room windows, with the Cathedral pinnacles and spires 
silhouetted against a night sky, is glorious. 

Down by the river wharves, close to the handsome Palladian Cus- 
tom House, a regiment of buildings gazes blankly from small-paned 
windows of old violet and water-green glass out across the river 
meadows. They are the Bonded Warehouses of the Quay, a five-story 
block of Georgian style fashioned from near-white Devonian lime- 
stone pointed up with red sandstone dressings. Like all river wharves 
the world over, this Parade is a frequented area for strollers. 

The first "department store*' known in England was built by a 
merchant named Mol in 1596, next to St. Martin's Church. Market- 
able goods of many varieties were displayed in a series of rooms 
throughout the five stories of the white plaster and black timber 
house. The top story is unusual in the extreme. A Dutch gable out- 
lined in florid Dutch baroque gilded molding surmounts a wide 
veranda balcony which allowed Merchant Mol to take the air and 
survey the city. 

On a cool morning of luminous gray clouds racing across the sun, 
harried by a wind which was not in evidence below, I set out for 
Moretonhamstead and Dartmoor Forest. I proposed to swing around 
by a road that led by circuitous route through Ilfracombe on the 

16 



coast facing the Bristol Channel, Barnstable, and Great Torrington. 
By this road I could take in a great horseshoe-shaped territory which 
embraces an interesting collection of lesser and great Devonshire 
villages and old market towns as well. I would also pass the lodge 
gates of many beautiful old manor houses (largely Elizabethan and 
Carolinian) still sheltering under gabled and balustraded roofs, mem- 
bers of the present generations of the families originally seated in 
these rolling acres. 

The clouds lowered, the wind sprang up, yet patches of brilliant 
sun would suddenly blaze forth to light the landscape to an almost 
molten gold. As I approached the old village of Cheriton Fitzpaine 
I noted that the stone walls bordering the roadway and the medieval 
cottages built of rubble and white mortar-daub were so overlaid with 
intense green frog-moss and purple English clematis that it seemed 
as though the sun's rays had squeezed pure color from celestial tubes 
on an earthen palette. 

I found that the road, although distinctly marked on a crossroad 
signpost, was little more than a country lane. It dipped and ser- 
pentined between high hedges of blossoming hawthorn and stunted 
crab apple. Occasionally I was rewarded by the sight of a typical 
Devonshire farmstead. The whitewashed stone houses were heavily 
thatched. Here and there, patches of new golden yellow thatching 
laid among old, nearly black straw or willow withe gave a tortoise- 
shell effect to a roof. 

Occasionally I passed a rise of ground, a gently sloping knoll. Here 
woiild stand a large, plain-faced stone house sprouting many twisted 
brick chimneys, lording it over a clutch of thatched cottages and 
low-roofed byres, the whole tenant community surrounded by a 
carefully spaced ring of tall walnut trees. This was not a hamlet, but 
what is locally termed a "farm hold." The village of Swimbridge, 
lying in a heavily foliaged valley, is rose-trellised and borders both 
sides of a river agitated into turbulent rapids. Spring freshets cause 
annual floods. Houses and villagers "swim" for a few days but the 
C]^ejt inhabitant never leaves the spot. A riverside tavern out a way 
towards Northam boasts a sign, 'Tray and Survive." 

Appleford and Westward Ho on Bideford Bay are celebated in 
song and in tales of the sea. Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his adveri- 
turous friend, Sir Martin Frobisher, built an inn here. It is called 
"The Two Profiles." The painted inn sign shows a Roman coin with 
two bearded heads, one red-haired (Gilbert), the other black. Fro- 

17 



bisher wears an earring, a gold hoop decorated with a red Tudor rose. 
Westward Ho is a town holding a curious magic, an aura of great 
seafaring days when the world was much younger. Between Bideford 
and Hartland Point a long, narrow cove indents the coastline. Here 
reposes, or more accurately ascends, Clovelly, a fishing village of 
great renown because of its unique position. It is possibly more 
touted and photographed, identified by generations of good, bad, and 
indifferent painters, than any other village in the western peninsula 
of England. So popular indeed is Clovelly it is crowded with 
tourists from dawn to dusk. 

Adjacent to Broadworthy, Langtree, and Monkleigh villages, less 
frequented and pampered, Clovelly is by them referred to, a trifle 
waspishly, as The Perp, a term generally in use to describe the tall 
Gothic church towers of Devonshire and Somerset. After descending 
steeply from the parking space where one must leave one's car before 
visiting the village, I climbed the steep "streets" of wide stone steps 
leading from the quay to the bold headland, from which to study 
this village of thatched white houses, outlined in black timber 
stripping, much as a strong draughtsman outlines an architectural 
sketch. Each house has a low-walled midden in front. As the steps 
ascend, each midden is raised higher than its neighbor. Instead of 
a muddy morass, a wallow for a sow and her litter (the classic reason 
for middens) these of the Clovelly fisherwives blaze with cottage 
flowers and herbs. Trumpet vines, vivid in orange and vermilion, 
spray the white walls. Blue lettuce (Lactuca plumieri) shows hand- 
some rippled leaves and starry cerulean-blue flowers, magnificently 
baroque decoration when seen in the mass. Tall saber-leafed yuccas, 
luxuriant in these peninsula counties, reach the height of ten feet 
to shake creamy white, golden-pollened bells in the sea breeze. I 
have no doubt that the ostentatious leaves of the castor oil plant 
(Ricinus zanzibariensis) are a cause of dismay for every Clovelly 
child. This medicinal plant spreads arrogant livid green leaves, as 
exotic in design as its Latin name implies. 

Widdecombe Moor village lives on its reputation as home for a 
gala Horse and Pony Fair, and the long popularity of the song 
celebrating this diversion. The famed Moorland gypsy dances held 
weekly by itinerant violet pickers offer plenty of life to a remotely 
situated town. Distilling Devon Violet Perfume and Toilet Water 
is now a flourishing industry. This scent is most attractively bottled 
in little glass "casks" tied with purple or green ribbons and sold 

18 



along the roadside, in village shops, and at the various inns and 
hotels in the forest and moor district. In May and June the moors 
are purple with incalculable numbers of violets. 

There is a delightful story connected with distilling the illusive 
fresh perfume from moorland violets. During the eighteenth cen- 
tury, in the great days of the "routs and ridottos," the season of 
Covent Garden, Sheridan's plays at Drury Lane, and the exodus of 
fashion to Bath for the Assemblies, the reigning beauty was the 
exquisitely lovely Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire, the 
favorite sitter of Gainsborough. Her desired scent was fresh Devon- 
shire violets. She liked to bathe in a liquid essence then known as 
"Dew of Devon Violets." 

The Duchess established a system of carrier service. Wagons were 
loaded at Widdecombe weekly with wooden casks of the violet es- 
sence for her bath, to be delivered to London, Bath, or wherever she 
might be. The glass containers of Devon Violet Perfume sold in the 
moors today are replicas in miniature of the original large iron- 
bound wooden casks. 

The River Dart rises icy cold in the depths of Dartmoor Forest, 
slips through ferns and bracken, tumbles into narrow gorges, to 
slip lazily in golden-bronze quiet into the English Channel at Dart- 
mouth. For so small a river its fame is great, possibly more because 
of the historic land it passes through than for itself. The haunted 
glades of "The Forest," ominous tunnels of shade, are dark as cor- 
ridors in Hades, and yet escape into these implacable fastnesses is 
the dream of every prisoner gazing Dartward from his prison within 
the walls of Dartmoor Prison at Princeton. 

The moor under the drifting clouds patterned by sun seems a 
forgotten land. The moor pulses with a wild beauty of prairies, sweep- 
ing purple distances, where outcropping rock formations take on 
the gold of lichen, the verdegris of moss, and swaths of pink and 
sulphur-red gorse. Pursued by the sun these gorse bushes seem to 
burst into balls of flame. Night on the moors is a lonely but a 
curiously exalting experience an infinity of sky, an incredible glitter 
of stars. If a great orange hunter's moon rises, the black rocks change 
to oddly colored, mysterious shapes, like playthings littered by some 
giant's child on the rustling dun carpet of the moors. 

Herds of Dartmoor ponies have bred for centuries in the hidden 
gullies and high cloven summit tors. A baffling color pigmentation 
seems to mark this breed of horse. The hides turn mouse gray, 

19 



sepia brown, gray tinged with bright russet hairs, a seldom seen 
blue-violet roan and tawny yellow. Always black points predominate. 
Mane, tail, fetlocks, and legs to fore-elbow and hock will be jet 
black. The pony mares, with their engaging foals, are extraordinarily 
tame. They wait proudly by the roadside to exhibit their offspring 
for travelers on foot or motorists. Mare and foal will feed from one's 
hand, but the stallion father remains forever male, arrogantly aloof 
and, I always suspect, a trifle envious. 

Granted that Dartmoor is a sweeping wasteland of lonely distances, 
it has an allure difficult to describe. Its ever changing moods and 
colors are its charm. For many miles on the moors there is no visible 
habitation, so that when one sights a hotel one prays it will be a 
good one. There are two hotels I would recommend. The Yelverton 
Arms at the town of Yelverton, and the exceptionally attractive Two 
Bridges Hotel, standing at a crossroads one thousand feet above sea 
level, where an ancient stone bridge spanning the River Dart at its 
merging with the River Swincombe divides itself like a letter Y. 
The hotel has the reputation for comfortable rooms with windows 
giving on a grandeur of panorama. Its restaurant is outstanding and 
the menu a masterpiece of variety; all the dishes offered are beauti- 
fully prepared, in a modernly appointed kitchen through which I 
was shown by the owner of the hotel. During the season the Dartmoor 
Hunt meets here regularly. Salmon and trout are fished in numerous 
streams that afford "tapping the water" for many miles. 

In the morning, as I was about to leave for Cornwall, I was greatly 
regaled by the life and color of the moor. First came a vivid gypsy 
caravan, the wagons of carved and painted wood gaudy as a flock 
of migrant wild birds in the sunlight. Then a herd of at least thirty 
moorland ponies, mares, foals and, this time, a stallion or two 
loitering on the fringe, came right up to feed from my hand, sur- 
rounding my car, in an ovation of whinnying. A few polished the 
headlight metal with their velvet muzzles and flicked their tails at 
me for "Godspeed" into Cornwall. 



Ckaptcr2 



ARTHURIAN LEGEND AND GLORIES 
OF THE CORNISH COAST 



THE Duchy of Cornwall lies, a peninsula of sea coves and 
rocky headlands, at the western extremity of England, 
wrapped proudly in her legends, forever adhering to her 
ageless traditions. The Saltash ferry crossing the River Tamar near 
St. Germans transports the traveler into a land apart, for the Cornish 
folk are held to be, in the realm entire, the least influenced in modern 
ways. Persons from beyond the Tamar are referred to in the soft 
Cornish speech as "they foreigners." Nonetheless "they foreigners" 
plan a holiday in Cornwall with wonder and anticipation for com- 
plete change in thought and scene, as if adventuring to a strange 
continent. I find this division of the mind and way of life has always 
been so. 

Once west of the Tamar one refers to the peninsula as the Duchy 
of Cornwall. Ever since Edward, the Black Prince, was created first 
Duke of Cornwall, the title has been borne by the Prince of Wales. 
For all the swimming and sailing in the richly Persian-blue waters 
suggestive of Italian seas that wash the jutting cliffs and in-dipping 
coves on three sides of the peninsula, Cornwall has been described 
as a Mecca for the walking enthusiast. A long, coastal path has re- 
cently been approved by the Ministry of Works. This project has 
been approached and carried out with such unaccustomed vision 
that hundreds of paths tributary to the main artery, as well as cross- 
ing heretofore inaccessible cliffs, lead inland to sequestered hamlets 
where a sign advising, "Teas served strawberries, scones, and Cornish 
cream" will be hung on a gate often contrived from carved driftwood, 
cabin panels, or spars gathered from the beaches after some ship has 



broken up on Cornish rocks. The precariously irregular coastline is 
roughly three times the length of the peninsula from the Devon 
border to Land's End. 

Sweeping panoramas of coastline and, above, a cloudland tourney 
of battling winds or a serene sky of duck-egg blue, deepening the 
color of the sea, unfolds to view from any of the network of footpaths, 
winding cottage lanes high-hedged in fuchsia and old pack-horse 
tracks used long ago by smuggler ancestors of the surrounding tea 
dispensers and still put to the same use now and again on a fog- 
wrapped night. Long days can be spent exploring the cliffs at no 
cost save choosing a picnic lunch and later a monumental tea. For 
the nonwalkers there are many roads winding along the cliffs acces- 
sible to motor cars. Cornwall is shaped like a distended tongue. 
"Beware the tongue of Cornwall, it's all teeth," is an old saying 
among sailors warning of its saw-edged coast line. One is always 
conscious that the Duchy takes its tone from the sea. Less than forty 
miles in breadth at the Tamar, the distance tapers to three miles 
across at Penzance. 

The old fishing ports, celebrated in songs and innumerable novels 
of Cornwall, owe a great deal of their allure to the high, narrow 
gray or whitened stone houses, roofed in cloudy blue slate, their 
window sashes painted black, hot red, white, or yellow, which appear 
to march in tightly closed ranks, zigzag up the cliff. If the village is 
Polperro, its doors and sashes, hand rails, too, will gleam with the 
intense Polperro blue, a dye that is found in a mollusk among ad- 
jacent rocks. In most cases these ports are built in a cove, a half moon 
sweep of high stone mole. Within this encircling arm the ships 
anchor. Broad-beamed hulls afloat on the intide lie "half seas over" 
dripping seaweed and displaying purple barnacles during the siesta 
of outtide. The sound of old Cornish place names lies agreeably on 
one's tongue, and what the eye records on viewing seldom lets one 
down. Porthtowan St. Winnow Trevose Head St. Erth Porth- 
curnow St. Cleer. 

At Perranporth cyclopean arches of serrated black-bronze rocks 
lift away from the parent cliffs, twenty-odd in number. Naturally fly- 
ing buttresses in Gothic mold against the beach of pale gold sand 
extend far out into the irridescent sea. I walked for a quarter of* a 
mile under this towering extravaganza of rocks, watching the humors 
of the sea. Far out the undulating purple blue shadows would, for 
a moment, cease all movement, then, as if the screaming of a gull 



flying low were a signal, a swell would appear upon the water, 
raising the horizon in a long line. Higher, higher, gathering speed, 
the crest would break in thunder and furious spray, then, half spent, 
ripple into a long gilded frill to spread out in a sigh of water. So 
dies a wave along the shore. 

The traveler may cross the Saltash and forge ahead into Cornwall 
without being aware of the existence of Trematon Castle, thereby 
missing a most unusual experience. For there is nothing quite like 
this survival of stirring history in England. Here is a superbly situ- 
ated motte [hillock] and bailey castle fortress of the eleventh cen- 
tury and a delightful Regency residence built in 1808 within the 
mellowed, vine and rock-plant-encrusted bailey. The notable yew 
alleys lie beneath the castellated circular retaining wall. 

This wholly admirable wedding of two dwelling houses built seven 
hundred years apart is romantic in the extreme, for the heavily 
wooded rock-cone on which rise the motte and bailey, unusually 
large in circumference, embraces one of the loveliest flower and 
walled kitchen gardens, a jardin potager in the French sense, where 
vegetables and herbs are planted decoratively, to be enjoyed as one 
would a flowery acre. 

The present owner told me that when he opened his domain to 
view, he had no idea there would be so many persons from all over 
the world to offer him fantastically large prices to buy the castle and 
what many of them call the "modern" house, which was actually 
built in the nineteenth century. One South African "diamond king" 
even said, "I want the house. But for the price I'm offering you, I'll 
let you throw in the old castle." 

It is a wonder that this remarkable specimen of Norman military 
architecture was never better known. But I learned that until the 
present Regency house was built the overgrowth of centuries so 
completely hid castle, bailey, and gatehouse alike, no one realized 
this mound was any more than part of the dense woodland. 

History at Trematon is splendidly colored and marches with 
Arthurian tales of valor, of banners streaming and the brassy blast 
of trumpets which summon knights into the lists for tourney or 
prompt ladies in the bright pavilions to adjust their veils and hen- 
nins for a ceremony, such as awarding the rose to the Queen of 
Beauty. For all this took place here long ago. 

When the Conqueror gave his brother-in-law, Robert of Mortain, 
the Earldom of Cornwall and nearly the whole of the Cornish penin- 

23 



sula in feudal fief, the Earl forthwith built four castles: Launceston, 
Restorniel, Liskeard and, in 1086, on the site of an already existing 
Saxon fort, Tre Main, "the hamlet by the stone" (to this the Saxons 
had added ton). Of the few castles in Cornwall one may visit Launces- 
ton and Restormel, but Liskeard has disappeared "under the last 
year's leaves/' the old ones say, though it is a safe bet that most of 
the stones were gradually carted off to build houses in the thriving 
town of Liskeard. Only Trematon Castle, of the four great motte and 
bailey fortresses built by Robert of Mortain, has been put to gracious 
use. One walks along a grassy plaisaunce, on the site of the original, 
from which to enjoy a superb view of Devonport, and beyond, the 
wide reaches of the Tamar, "that silver blade of water cut deep in 
greenery/' as the Conqueror, who used to hunt the red deer in 
Cornwall, once described it. 

Of all parts of the existing castle, which include the keep, with 
walls fifteen feet thick, the tower, with a sally port enclosing guard- 
houses, and the high raking walls of the bailey, it is the gatehouse, a 
majestic pile of masonry, with finely proportioned Romanesque 
windows and an impressive flight of steps to the living quarters, that 
fills the eye. Architects, antiquarians, and persons like myself who 
seek out ancient treasure for its own sake, are all smitten with the 
fireplace ornament in this gatehouse. Let into the wall of each room 
is a beautifully articulated stone fireplace whose delicately molded 
columns, with capitals carved as a cluster of overlapping oak leaves, 
support a hooded lintel. The whole mantel exemplifies great taste 
and has been sketched so many times that I have no doubt this design 
of thirteenth century workmanship graces many a present-day house. 
Certainly it is the earliest example in Britain of a chimney piece, in 
delicate scale, intended as the chief decoration of a room. In vision 
I see the room bright with firelight, with an embroidered arras 
spreading color on the walls, heraldic emblazonry painted on wooden 
panels set in the ceiling, and dark oak furniture, doubtless carved 
from trees felled on the domain. 

Clos Rolls of 1363 point out that Earl Richard directed appoint- 
ments "of rare and costly nature" as fittings at Trematon. It also 
states that the Black Prince, collecting his revenues from his duchy, 
stayed here in 1363. C. N. Rowse in The English Spirit mentions 
Sir Francis Drake in curious connection with Trematon. (The castle 
is less than thirty miles from Drake's Buckland Abbey estate.) "The 
immense treasure of silver that Drake brought home from his voyage 

24 



around the world was put for safety into Trematon Castle until it 
was loaded into wagons and trundled away to the Tower." Drake's 
downfall is a sad commentary on the chancy favor of princes. 

It has frequently been written that to visit Cornwall is to travel 
beyond the pale of the commonplace. One has only to cross the 
Tamar and listen to a language half brother to the Welsh and Breton 
tongues to realize this statement is true. The phrase, "Haunted Corn- 
wall/ 1 is often heard, particularly in describing that stronghold of 
ancient Celtic legends, Bodmin Moor. "Country of Romance and- 
Supers tition" is another sobriquet. Superstitions and dark predic- 
tions on the rise of the moon, and so on, were brought to Cornwall 
in early days by Spaniards of warm impulsive blood and, the old ones 
say, by Irish and Breton pilgrims, who erected roadside shrines to 
win the dark-eyed Cornish to their Christian faith. Certainly two 
things substantiate this. One is the Spanish visage characterized by 
the long jaw, sallow skin, however browned by sun and sea wind, 
jet-black hair, and slightly up tilted eyes of a nearly purple black, 
which is the strangely compelling color of Andalusian eyes, fusing 
dark blue, brown, and black. The other is the Cornishman's remote- 
ness of mind, his independence (black stubbornness, it is called by 
"they foreigners 11 ), and inherent love of romance. Subconsciously 
the heart rules here. There is a sign painted on the half-ruined gate- 
way to the once walled town of Week St. Mary, hard by Tintagel 
Head, stating, "An Ancient Memorial That Carries The Mind Be- 
yond The Veil. All Here Is The Background Of Our Ancient 
Story." 

For centuries Cornwall could boast of its minstrels and wayfaring 
storytellers. (Regard Sir Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel for 
the bardic style.) The earliest bards sang glowing tales of King 
Arthur and his Knights, and of Tristan and Isolde. The Cornish are 
proud to tell that every place mentioned in the story of Tristan and 
Isolde has been identified in Cornwall. There are the fabulous stories 
of Lyonnesse, that fair, flower-pied island that was buried in a single 
night by the untamable waves, and now paves the bottom of the 
sea between Land's End and the Scilly Islands. At certain seasons of 
the year a strange crystal clarity pervades the sea at this point. There, 
fathoms deep, rests lovely lost Lyonnesse, a jumble of towers, battle- 
ments, domes, and spires, encrusted in iridescence by trillions of 
sea anemones, the only life. Our eyes and imagination tell us this 

25 



is a living flower, a mysterious plant opening and closing to the move- 
ment of nether waves. 

The day I sailed out to the Scilly Islands the helmsman ran in 
close to the Wolf Rock Lighthouse. It rears out of the waves like 
a monolith capped in red, from a much more difficult position than 
the Lizard or Eddystone Light, for the rock is very small and stands 
only two feet above the water at low tide. Built in 1860-71, Wolf 
Rock Lighthouse is so named because of a strange howling sound 
made by the wind at this spot, recalling the desolate baying of a wolf 
at the moon. After ten years, following nearly insurmountable dif- 
ficulties, which included fighting raging seas and incessant strong 
winds, and the death of five workmen, The Wolf was completed and 
rose to no feet, a white shaft, stained to a quarter of its length by 
patches of saffron-green iodined seaweed spray, like an overlay of 
oriental arabesques in enamel. It is often called the most perilous 
lighthouse in the world and to meperhaps because of its slender 
minaret appearanceit is the most beautiful, especially at night 
when its beacon flashes alternate red and white. 

The Scilly Isles are becoming increasingly popular for long holi- 
days. They form an archipelago of about two hundred islands, islets, 
and rocks. Tradition holds that the Land of Lyonnesse was sub- 
merged by a great convulsion of nature on the day that King Arthur 
received his mortal wound in battle against the traitorous Modred. 
At St. Martin's one is shown the house where Lord Tennyson once 
stayed in the spring, after having sailed over the site of submerged 
Lyonnesse, whose legend he embodied in his Morte d' Arthur. 

The spelling in old chronicles is Sully or Sulley Islands of the 
Sun. There are evidences that the islands were inhabited by Druids. 
Remains of their altars are scattered about the larger islands, as is 
the case in many parts of the Cornish mainland. Some historians 
maintain, too, that Scilly corresponds to the Cassiterides of the Phoe- 
nicians, that adventurous race of mariners who held a great depot for 
shipping tin. The inhabited islands are St. Mary's, Tresco consisting 
of seven hundred acres, famed for its gardens and fine hotels and 
guest houses Bryher, St. Martin's, and St. Agnes. 

As one enters the harbor of St. Martin's there looms an astounding 
sight, St. Helen's Halo a towering mass of blue granite, its flanks 
clothed in gold and purple-red bracken. 

In 1588 Queen Elizabeth granted Sir Francis Godolphin a "rent 
of the rocks for ten pounds yearly, a rose, and two bags of salt/' 

26 



which Sir Francis delivered in person, gorgeously dressed, the gold 
sovereigns in a purse resting on a crimson velvet cushion; the em- 
broidered velvet sacks of salt, refined by himself, slung across the 
backs of liveried lackeys. Sir Francis built a castle in the shape of a 
five-point star on a headland called The Hugh of St. Martin's. Star 
Castle now draws many visitors for its noble masonry and the view 
of the archipelago from its battlements. 

After the potato famine of '48 it was flowers which saved the day 
for the starving Scilly islanders-, White poet's narcissi of purest 
beauty, long-stemmed jonquils and daffodils, white violets, and 
primroses were indigenous to the islands. Soone day baskets of 
these flowers were packed in moss and sent to Covent Garden Market 
in London. Word was sent back that flower vendors at Covent 
Garden offered good prices for a continued supply. This set the 
inhabitants of the largest islands to growing these flowers in quantity, 
later adding madonna and arum lilies. Bulbs are exported to all parts 
of the world. Some idea of the magnitude of this cultivation of the 
various narcissi the specialty is the rich, white soleil d'or can be 
gained by going down to the quays at St. Mary's any morning from 
December through May. The average daily cargo for the steamers 
that deliver the baskets to Portcurno and St. Just, to be flown by 
plane to London and other city flower markets, is .seven hundred 
tons, which means seven thousand baskets. Besides the beauty of 
their freshness, the fragrance of narcissi and lilies hangs like a bene- 
diction over the islands. 

Back at St. Just I passed a holy well. Cornwall has by far the most 
numerous and concentrated set of holy wells in the kingdom. Many 
are closely associated with the curious superstitions of the land. Near 
Looe, a charming little harbor on the south coast of Cornwall, a 
massive headland soars its blunted crown into the windy sky. Here, 
lonely, wind-buffeted, stands a wishing or holy well, a small pin- 
nacled structure in early Gothic design. No one knows rightly its 
builder or its date. Sufficient that it has long been a sanctuary. 
Superstitious persons out late on the moors, when believing they 
were pursued by "knackers," underground bogeys from the aban- 
doned tin mines, or maybe the White Hare of Looe, have fled within 
the holy circle, a grassy dip in the upland turf. No "haunt*' dare 
venture across this magic ring, one hundred yards in diameter. 

At the Jolly Sailor Inn at Looe (a smugglers' "kiddely," or bar), 
the appearance of a ghostly white hare is to be taken as warning 

27 



that some misfortune threatens the town. The hare is supposed to 
be the ghost of an unhappy girl who committed suicide on the moor 
after excise men had surprised her lover, one of a notorious smug- 
gler band, while he and his confederates were drinking to the suc- 
cess of their venture. 

As far as anyone knows, Bodmin Moor started its career of "drearth 
and weirdy" when Merlin lived on the brink of Dozmary Pool, 
a desolate meeting ground for warlocks and witches. Merlin is said 
to have dwelt in a rude cavern, a cairn, mysteriously set up from 
Druid stones. But even he would not wash in, or drink from, the 
unnaturally clear and luminous waters of Dozmary Pool. The lonely 
stretch of water is still unrippled, clear as crystal, and contains no 
marine life. Being more adventurous than Merlin, I drank a palmful 
of the water. I felt no shudders of change in my body, just a flat, 
insipid wetness. 

Driving across the moor a pall of isolation lifts considerably when, 
topping a rise, a tavern sign hoisted on a stout post presents the 
painting of a desperado wearing the beaver tricorn of a highway- 
man, a black patch over one eye, and a cocked pistol at the ready. 
Here in the heart of Bodmin Moor, hard by the moorland village 
of Bolventor, crouches a long stone building Jamaica Inn cele- 
brated in Daphne du Maurier's novel of smugglers in hiding and 
raffish "stand-and-deliver" gentry "coaching" the road from Bodmin 
to Falmouth. Jamaica Inn, refurbished and "fully licensed seven 
days a week," now welcomes travelers. Many who have read of this 
widely advertised tavern wish to explore the "caves" and escape 
tunnels underneath the inn. Behind the house rises Brown Willy, 
the highest point in Cornwall, the crest a wild disorder of prehistoric 
cromlech stones. From the Rocking Stone one views both seacoasts 
of the peninsula. 

Bodmin Moor is a grand place for a picnic on a bright summer 
day, no matter all its eerie reputation for dark doings. It is within 
the immense circumference of Bronze Age village ruins. The huts 
were more like caves than dwellings, even for barbarians who dared 
not venture farther into the moor. The Cornish consider this relic 
of the Bronze Age comparable in terms of remote antiquity to the 
Druid Stones at Stonehenge. 

Through ancient St. AustelFs, with its grandly proportioned 
Priory Hospital and famous hanging gardens of fuchsia and labur- 
num, I came to Truro, a stern-faced gray town, built of granite. 

28 



The surrounding country is wildly desolate. The gaunt stone shafts 
of once richly productive tin mines stand bleakly, castle-like re- 
minders of the days when Cornwall led the world in tin mining, 
and mine owners built great country houses like Lanhydrock House 
erected by Lord Robartes of Truro in 1642, now opened to view by 
National Trust. The seventeenth century gatehouse is unusually 
handsome, with roof ornaments of pinnacled splendor, above a wide 
gallery of mullioned windows giving a tremendous sense of airiness 
to the facade. 

Roadside signs bearing names to spike one's curiosity are con- 
stantly appearing. One points to Mousehole, a village which lies 
quiet, wrapped away in a rock-bound valley by the sea. Its banner 
is Unsophistication. The quay was built in 1392 of red granite blocks 
from the Penlee quarries, the largest in Cornwall, of great antiquity, 
having been first split by the Romans. The streets of the port are 
cobbled in great rounded "pudding-stones," said to have been 
brought from Lamorna Beach by sailors manning the flagship of 
Drake. 

Nearby is the manor house of Keigwin. In its great chamber is 
a ceiling ornamented in three-quarter dimension bas-relief, a kind 
of Walpurgis Night orgy displaying shields, battle gear of ancient 
design, truncated torsos, men's heads grinning like zanies, or distorted 
in lamentation, dolphins, escalops' shells, and other odd devices, 
including gossiping old women resembling the Three Fates. Fif- 
teenth-century Keigwin Manor was the only house left standing 
entire when Mousehole was burnt by the Spaniards, This ceiling, 
so frenzied in import, is said to have been fashioned to commemorate 
the carnage which was followed by a tidal wave that washed crea- 
tures of the sea way back into the quarries. 

At Mousehole, on the road to Penzance, there are numerous 
pubs, small hotels, and restaurants along the horseshoe-curved quay. 
Mussels, lobsters, and the excellent pilchard are specialties. Fresh 
fried pilchards resembling a herring are expertly prepared. I favor 
a pleasantly situated small hotel, The Lobster Pot, offering charm- 
ing rooms gay with chintz and pale colored walls. On a gallery hang- 
ing over the sea, lobster is served hot or cold prepared in any way 
you may wish. Try a pair of crisp buttered pilchards served with 
large, white, pickled onions and a fresh vegetable salad. 

A little way out of the village is Mead Hall, an old house where 
you may wish to drink a tankard of mead. A tangy, cooling drink on 

3 



a hot day, mead is brewed from honey in the same manner the 
ancient Greeks taught the Saxons. 

A stony way leads to Lamorna, a mysterious village of great an- 
tiquity. Like a maiden of gentle spirit who knows no life but forest 
roaming, Lamorna claims nothing but wild flowers, hanging gardens, 
waterfalls, and ancient stone cottages to attract an impressive num- 
ber of visitors. Lamorna "teas" are famous. Hot breads, damson 
jam, strawberries, cream, and a choice of cakes, served at vine- 
garlanded Lamorna houses, need a deal of digesting afterwards. 
These houses are built from well-seasoned timber washed up on the 
shore. One house sports a lintel with letters carved and gilded, 
"Oriental," the sternboard of some wrecked ship. I saw strange rock 
formations, fougou holes, fougou meaning caves in ancient Cornish. 
One cave at Lamorna Inn, near the Tregarn Waterfall, is so exten- 
sive it is planted as a rock garden of exciting proportions, where 
ferns seemingly buoyant as green fountains grow to the height of 
fifteen feet, the leaves intermingling with a shower of water which, 
in turn, sprays silver saxifrage, mauve alyssum, and a species of 
freesia called Rainbow. 

One of the most entertaining of all sights at Lamorna is in a field 
near the Manor House of Trewoofe, pronounced Troove, an elegant 
silver stone monument to Elizabethan architecture. It is a circle 
of nineteen lichen-covered stones, each one about five feet high, and 
known as the "Merry Maidens." These stones lean every which way 
and represent a group of girls who committed sacrilege by following 
two tall pipers to this hill to dance in ecstasy on a Sabbath. As 
punishment the maidens were petrified into positions resembling 
an abandoned dance. A few feet away is a stone wall of curious con- 
struction. Behind it stand two stones twelve feet high, said to repre- 
sent the tall pipers, bending toward the ring of maidens as if peering 
or beckoning. 

Near this ring is a ruined fort and a group of caverns roofed in 
granite. At this spot called the Boleigh (a place of slaughter), it is 
said Saxon Athelstan finally vanquished the Cornish in 936. 

I drove through Newlyn, a good-sized fishing port, and as I turned 
a corner heading for Penzance, I beheld the third of the world- 
famous lighthouses built to warn ships off the Cornwall coast. The 
Lizard Light seemed a livid stalagmite of white coral piercing the 
storm clouds, and set all about by angry spray-crested waves dark as 
moss agate. The lighthouse was erected in 1752 on a chaos of rocks 

3 1 



forming caves and reefs; a white flashing electric light of four million 
candle power is seen every three seconds for over one hundred miles. 

I came into Penzance, and repaired to the Queen's Hotel to dine 
on excellently grilled trout brought from a stream near Lamorna. 
Next morning from my balcony I greeted a coral pink sunrise, so 
I planned my day in Penzance. The town is situated on the side of 
a hill on the shore of Mount's Bay, bounded by a succession of 
undulating hills and riven cliffs, called The Organ Pipes. 

Mount's Bay stands alone for its expansiveness, for its activity of 
shipping, and for its view of the improbable St. Michael's Mount, 
which lifts a church, an abbey, and a castle heavenward as a bishop 
might raise on high a chalice for consecration. 

A morning stroll in Bolitho Gardens and then out along the great 
sweep of the Promenade is an expansive introduction to Penzance. 
It is an ancient port, which the Phoenicians admired excessively, and 
they mined tin from the headlands, known later as the Stannary of 
Penwith. Edward III granted the town a weekly market and an 
annual fair, Corpus Christi, to be held the week following Whitsun. 
This is an event of great carnival. Penzance goes all out in elaborate 
decorations and entertainment for the visitors who attend in great 
numbers. 

Market Jew Street is the principal thoroughfare. The shops spe- 
cialize in exquisite articles of jewelry made from the true amethyst, 
topaz, and rose quartz from various deposits found in the surround- 
ing tin mines. In the extensive Morrab Gardens one dines alfresco 
listening to a military band and may dance in the garden if so 
inclined. I like to dine at the Pavilion Theatre, either in the Prom- 
enade Caf6 or the Roof Garden on top of the theater. Food is excel- 
lent, the menu varied. Asparagus pie, which is creamed asparagus in 
a pastry piecrust topped with poached eggs and cheese, is a local dish, 
an interesting variation in the preparation of this succulent veg- 
etable for which an island is named. 

Asparagus Island is near Kynance Cove, where foaming water of 
dazzling whiteness frills a beach which is the color of pearl, its sand 
as fine as face powder. For some reason thousands of starfishpink, 
blue, and violet breed here among rocks that gleam from encrusta- 
tions of a limpet called coat-of-mail, a royal regalia display as the 
shells seem to shatter under the sun in points of jewel-colored fire. 

Near the lower end of Alverton Road is the handsomely ap- 
pointed Penzance Club, of which visitors may become temporary 

3* 



members. A pub, The Cornish Duck (a local name for the ubiquitous 
pilchard), must be visited at dinner hour or later for full flavor. 
A witty owner will tell you tall tales of objects displayed in his 
bar-parlor museum. 

Hotels Alexandra, Beachfield, Yacht Inn, Carlton, all on the 
Promendade, and the Star, Market Jew Street, and The Stanmore, 
Alexandra Road, are all hotels of good class. 

I set out for Marazion just after sunrise. A red and yellow sky, 
the horizon striped in black clouds from the terrace of Queen's 
Hotel I had watched its unfolding from the wrappings of a windy 
night and thought how like were the clouds to the grimy banners 
floating from the masts of Spanish pirate ships that once sailed out 
of the morning mists, masquerading as merchantmen to take Pen- 
zance by surprise. The sun's rays struck fire from the pinnacles of 
the Benedictine monastery crowning St. Michael's Mount, where I 
was bound. But I should have to make a winding way before arriv- 
ing there. 

At one spot near Madron extraordinarily interesting relics of 
the antique world, indicative of this wild landscape, appear. Pre- 
historic cromlechs stand in curiously conversational groups, as if 
each is furtively discussing its neighbor. The Lovers designate two 
jagged profiles in stone leaning forehead to forehead. The sculptor 
Erosion has modeled one profile delicately feminine, the other sav- 
agely masculine. The Boscawen-Un, called Devil's Sabbath, presents 
a circle of fourteen stones leaning forward as if kneeling. Again, like 
the Merry Maidens of Lamorna, the legend tells that village women, 
infatuated with lust, became wantons forsaking all to worship the 
Devil in the form of a giant phallic stone rising in the center of 
the ring. 

Drawing into the village of Marazion I saw that the tide was 
beginning to recede, though The Mount was still an island. While 
I waited I recalled the story of its past. 

The Mount makes its entrance into history with a flourish during 
the first century of the Christian era. Diodorus Siculus, a Latin 
author of this period, who always recorded his thoughts in purple 
ink compounded from a Tyrian dye, wrote that inhabitants of 
Britain in a region called Belerion "of rocks and perilous seas" mined 
copper and tin and "are fond of strangers and, owing to their inter- 
course with merchants, are civilized in their manners, though 
slovenly in dress." He goes on to describe the intricate workings of 

34 



the mines, stating that the tin and copper when smelted was carried 
by natives to an island off the coast called Ictis, where "during the 
ebb of the tide the ground between Ictis and the land of Britain is 
left dry." There can be no doubt that Ictis and the island-peninsula, 
later known as St. Michael's Mount, are the same. 

A mist of centuries rolls across the picture, blotting out events; 
then in the middle of the twelfth century the island reappears in 
records as the site of the Abbey of Mount St. Michael, a daughter 
house of Mount St. Michel-in-Peril-of-the-Sea, which had been 
founded in 966 by Richard, Duke of Normandy on a thrust of rock 
in Norman waters, which the Cornish mount so strangely resembles 
in all ways. 

A legend tells that the Archangel Michael appeared one night of 
terrible storm on a rocky promontory on the western brow of the 
Mount. The glow of his radiant wings revealed to distressed sailors 
their peril and so guided their ships to safety. A grotto shrine was 
erected by fishermen on the spot. 

We know the story of how King Mark sent his nephew Tristan 
over to Ireland to fetch his bride Isolde, and how Tristan wandered 
in the Forest of Moresk in East Cornwall. It was to St. Michael's 
Mount that joyful King Mark sent the hermit Ogrin to buy for 
Isolde splendid raiment of silk and wool in wondrous colors, and a 
red-pied white palfrey caparisoned in silver and wrought gold. 

The Mount, its castle and abbey having withstood centuries of 
sieges, came into the possession of the ancient Cornish family of 
St. Aubyn in 1659. They have held unbroken tenure to this day. 
The present Lord St. Levan occupies the castle. Under the National 
Trust it is open on Wednesdays and Fridays, and a limited number 
of visitors, as space allows, are invited to attend divine services in 
the abbey chapel on Sundays from April through September. 

The rock flanks, aglow with color from early summer into autumn, 
are thickly covered with red-hot-pokers (tritoma), dracaena, and 
other subtropical plants. The northern slopes are a constant wonder 
to visitors, for here sycamore, ilex, and towering elms grow out of 
rock fissures seemingly devoid of sustaining soil. 

Possibly the grandest single decoration in masonry is the west 
gate and portcullis. Of sixteenth-century construction, a massive 
ornamentation in sculptured stone emblazons the arms of St. Aubyn 
impaling Godolphin. The workmanship of carving adamant stone 
is a miracle of delicacy. 

35 



In the chapel on the north side of the nave a trap door, hoary 
with age and scarred by the gnawing of rats, was lifted. I was led 
down stone steps into a small oval chamber, largest of the dungeons, 
I was told. The vault is only eight feet long; nevertheless, when a 
door in the wall rotted on its hinges in 1700, workmen discovered 
the skeleton of a "Cornish giant" over seven feet tall. 

Much admired is the Chevy Chase room now used for dining. A 
sixteenth-century plaster work mural frieze encircles this area, show- 
ing, life size, a spirited stag hunt in full cry. Deep crimson hangings 
and chair covers enhance the room. 

Leaving the Mount, and strolling down the high road above the 
Carbis Bay beach, one gets a first view of St. Ives. The port of 
brightly colored, black-roofed houses rests in a circular arm of rock, 
blue granite and red sandstone intermingled, to appear soft, un- 
dulant, like striped damask coaxed into long folds. If it is high tide, 
St. Ives doubles its terraced charm by reflection. For the water within 
the mole is amazingly clear, seldom disturbed by more than ripples. 

Through a woodland of ilex, elm trees, and rhododendrons one 
swings into the forecourt of Tregenna Castle Hotel. This attractive 
hostelry, set in a garden of famous herbaceous borders ringed round 
by golf links and three tennis courts, was once a Cornish manor 
house. Long, low wings follow the brow of the hill, the roof fashion- 
ably castellated. The rooms on three sides afford a perfect view of 
seascape, with St. Ives lying like a fluted mussel shell far below. 

St. Ives has its legends along with the rest of Cornish villages. 
St. la, the patron saint of St. Ives, is said to have sailed from Ireland 
on a hazel leaf to spread Christianity to Cornwall. She had not 
intended to land on the rocky arm flung out from the headland 
because, in a vision, she had seen a race of giants, black-bearded 
fishermen, roaring and fighting and, for all her zeal, she was a timid 
maid. But once blown ashore by wild winds she stopped here. Not 
large, but beautifully proportioned, the Church of St. la is set in 
a dominating position rather like a lighthouse at the lower end of 
the town where the indentation in rock of a tiny barefoot print is 
revered as the first step taken by St. la from her errant leaf. The 
chief attractions of the Old Port are such narrow ways as Virgin 
Street; neighbors can shake hands across the cobbles. The Digey (to 
rhyme with By-gee), is the most ancient of these ways, where some 
of the houses climb the slight hill on Roman crypt stones. In Tee- 
total Street black cats, tortoise-shell cats, tigers, and plain, gray, alley 

36 



toms leap, like the apes on Gibraltar, over walls, across housetops. 
Cats everywhere. 

The upland road to Tintagel winds along the the coast from St. 
Ives Bay through Portreath, Porthtowan, and Penhale. Visually the 
view back into the hills is dramatic but the air seems charged with 
foreboding, or is it perhaps a kind of subterranean odor of decay, 
issuing like a miasma from the mine pits? 

The old derelict mine shafts appear more like the small Scottish 
border castles or peel towers one sees looming out of gorse braes 
where Northumberland marches warily with Roxborough. I climbed 
down into a pit at Ding-Dong Mine. A vein of shining galena or 
sulphide of lead glinted where rock had fallen away from a fissure 
of copper ore and quartz. Building a picnic fire, I burned the ore 
on a tin platter; the sulphur, sputtering companionably, gave off 
a bright blue flame. 

Towards Cligga Head a wide watercourse is cut through the 
granite. Four old mine shafts rise like a crusader's nest of watch- 
towers. The whole slope was a maze of furze and gorse, purple and 
bright yellow. The deep rose red of the mine buildings appeared 
startlingly clear against the matrix green of the sea. Around the 
cliffs abandoned fissures dripped in metallic rivulets, pink, black, 
ochre, and orange, pale turquoise greens, deep violet, and the hot 
green of malachite. 

I lunched off Cornwall "cruddle (curdle) cheese," buttered scones, 
and cold spring water, which runneled through the gorse at my 
feet. And looked away towards Tintagel. 

If possible, see Tintagel for the first time by moonlight. A moon, 
for reasons of time and tides, may not be in evidence; then drive 
in from Camelford at sunset. A three-quarter moon favored me and 
a star-spattered sky of deep indigo blue, the kind of sky that, in 
itself dark blue, the brilliance of moon and stars, deepens to velvet 
black. I came to Camelford-Camelot of the Arthurian tales-at late 

sunset hour. 

The Slaughter Bridge, a few massive stones supporting long, thick 
blue-granite slabs, where King Arthur is reputed to have fought to 
his death in his last battle with Modred, recalls the line, "The lights 
went out of the world, the seas heaved and death stalked unchecked." 
Nearby stands the alleged oldest roadside tavern in England, "One 
and All," named for the motto on the Cornish arms of "fifteen 
golden bezants on a shield sable." For centuries every man passing 

37 



this tavern touched his temple and said, "Excalibur, fish, tin, and 
copper." Since tin and copper are now nearly exhausted, some old 
diehards say just "Excalibur and fish." 

So little of the walls remains of what was once the castle of Tintagel 
that one's imagination must work overtime to evoke the hall, now 
open to the sky, where Ygaerne (or Igraine) watched the siege of 
Castle Terrabil and her husband's defeat, and where she married 
that same day his conqueror. The great arch of the Keep on the 
mainland still affronts the sky. It is of interest to trace the walls, and 
follow them up and down, for Tintagel is divided into two parts, 
one on the mainland, the other, greater castle of battlements and 
turreted walls on the peninsula. In old documents this is called an 
island, but in reality it is joined to the mainland by a narrow ridge 
of rock. From the most preserved portion on the island one can still 
obtain the same view that Ygaerne beheld from her bower when 
Arthur was born. On the day, in effect, the Round Table was born. 
From this turfed terrace King Arthur flew his dragon banner, and 
waved away his knights on quest, bent on punishing vice and res- 
cuing oppressed virtue, for the love of God and some noble lady. 

A great house, now under the National Trust, that shoud not be 
missed by the visitor to Cornwall, is Cotehele, embowered in woods 
a dozen miles up the River Tamar from Plymouth Sound. It is a 
remarkable sight to see banana trees rearing against these monastic 
stone walls, nearly hidden by flowering azaleas and magnolia trees. 
The banana trees are said to be grown from cuttings of the Barbados 
Banana Walk at Portmeiron. Cotehele is a treasure house of some 
of the loveliest medieval furniture in the kingdom. Christopher 
Hussey calls it "The West Country Knole." The great hall is great 
in every sense of the word. Its arched ceiling is of immense height 
with diapering of interlacing arches, forming a series of rising gal- 
leries. The bedrooms reflect the taste of furniture arrangement with 
a difference. Quilted linen hangings in the lovely colors of spring 
flowers add a lightness of touch to the tapestry-hung paneled walls. 

Port Eliot, seat of the Earl of St. Germans, near St. Germans, 
Cornwall, was once an Augustinian Priory (1170). But consider that 
a thousand years of continuous history, unfortunately largely de- 
stroyed, preceded John Eliot's acquiring in 1564 the lands of St. 
Germans Priory. A cathedral had risen at this spot, which was to 
be consecrated by Saxon bishops, and is supposed to have taken its 
name from St. Germanus d'Auxerre (380-448). A Norman church 

38 



built on the site of the cathedral still stands, so close as to seem 
part of the present house. St. Germanus visited here in the fifth 
century. He loudly lamented that he had championed the cause of 
orthodoxy but had not received proper regard for his zeal against 
the rank heresy of unregenerate Pelagius. Hilaire Belloc read of 
this. He expressed his amusement in rhyme. 

Whether you found- eternal bliss, 

Or sank forever to burn, 

It was nothing to do with the Pope, my boy, 

But wholly your own concern. 

Some authorities maintain that the great west portal of the priory 
church, erected .about 1180, is the finest example of Romanesque 
stone work in England. Grandeur in proportion it certainly has, 
displaying under a pointed canopy, surmounted by a Celtic cross 
in stone, seven concentric rings of bold decoration staggered to form 
a canopy, employing the Celtic bolt of lightning motif. The interior 
is compelling in its massive simplicity. Under the southern tower 
which outside identifies the church are featured transitional arches, 
huge in conception. Under the north tower there is an alcove chapel. 
Behind an armorial iron grill is placed the baroque monument by 
Rysbrack to Edward Eliot (d. 1722) who in effigy reclines, half sit- 
ting, on a couch strewn with tasseled cushions, attired sumptuously 
in embossed armor and cloak as a Roman emperor. A lancet window 
is cleverly let into the apse so that at evensong the last rays of a 
setting sun bid "Good night, sweet Prince" to the figure, setting the 
alabaster marble aglow. 

Port Eliot is situated in broad, splendidly wooded parklands of 
elm and oak, bordering a gently winding stream engagingly called 
the Tiddy locally, but with more dignity on maps as St. Germans 
River, 

The house has a great hall of such length and soaring dimensions 
that it has been compared to the nave of a church. And yet I observed 
a warmth and comfort in grouped furniture such as one seldom 
sees in a small room. This scale and area of wall space perfectly 
assume the role of a picture gallery. Portraits of the Eliots painted 
by the most famous artists down four centuries are decorative and 
revealing of character, and magnificent documents of fashions in 
dress, showing every facet from wigs to shoes, from the time when 

39 



Sir John Eliot was painted in 1632, a few days before his death "of 
Turgy lung vapors/' by an unknown artist. The baronet, apparently 
still able to stand, is portrayed three-quarters length wearing a most 
elaborate nightgown of pleated satin, inset with Flemish lace and 
embroidered in wheat ears of repouss gold thread. The portrait 
is exceptional for touches of sharp contrast jet-black hair, spiky 
goatee and mustaches- and the fact that an exquisite bit of brush- 
work catches the eye. In Sir John's left hand is a shard of smoky 
violet quartz slightly tilted in such a manner as to reveal through 
the transparent quartz the delicate design of lace and tinsel-thread 
embroidery. To me this part alone one might frame as a delicious 
picture. 

Walking through the great gallery at Port Eliot, and a score of 
other large rooms variously enriched by paneling, damask-hung 
walls, and a great deal of sixteenth-century Genoese cut velvet, huge 
in design and deeply piled in texture, one is struck with the number 
of eighteenth-century paintings, out of the ordinary in artistic worth. 
This is explained in one instance by the fact that a descendant of 
the consumptive Sir John Eliot was a lifelong friend of Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, as well as a discerning patron. No less than twenty por- 
traits and a scattering of charming landscapes, sketched with lyric 
swiftness in the best Reynolds style, grace the walls* 

Being so close to the Tamar, I decided to drive cross-country to 
Boscastle on the opposite coast, a matter of forty-five miles. I stopped 
for a few minutes at Launceston, once capital of Cornwall, to walk 
up the tremendous stone ramp of Launceston Castle, now turf- 
covered and riotous with gorse and crimson valerian. This ramp 
conceals the terrible dungeons that spread out from the central 
cylindrical shell-keep as the spokes of a wheel, the wheel of torture 
in this case. Until 1820 this castle was a vermin-infested prison. 

At Boscastle I boarded a small steamer bound for Porlock in 
Somerset. By this mode of traveling I would get a starlight view of 
little tucked-away fishing ports, so withdrawn in deeply ravined 
coves that they appear far more lively at night, the quays lighted by 
electricity or gas and sometimes still by primitive pitch and drift- 
wood torch flares. For the fishing fleet goes out at night. 

It is granted that Cornwall repays a visit roaming its moors and 
headlands, but to really savor the rock towers guarding its coast, 
and the ever vital race and crash of combers on the sands, the duchy 
should, at least partially, be seen from seaward. 

40 



CkapterS 



DREAMING SOMERSET ENTERTAINS 
THE BEAUTIES OF BATH 



FROM uplands o Exmoor Vale I look out across the terrain of 
Somerset, to be reminded that all the West Country takes its 
tone from the sea. Somerset has a long coastline on the Bristol 
Channel where, if waves do not break upon the shore with quite 
the spectacular boldness which continuously compels one's attention 
in Devon and Cornwall, there is a mighty swell rolling in from the 
reaches of the long bay of Severn mouth to translate surf into richly 
grassed meadows, and some of the loveliest templed hills in Britain. 
The ancient thatched villages and tall, proudly-gabled farmhouses 
of Somerset, embowered in apple orchards, dream the days away, 
rousing at harvest time to a kind of slow-motion activity. 

Porlock "the inclosed harbor" had been extremely lively on my 
arrivalno dreaming here for the weekly boat from Cornwall is by 
all appearances a holiday excursion. Porlock at one time was an 
important maritime center but now lies over one mile inland, sepa- 
rated from the sea by marsh meadows. The little port of Porlock 
Weir now deals with the attenuated shipping. On every hand are 
evidences that in early days Danes and Norwegian raiders paid many 
a surprise visit to this town. Raiding parties finally ceased to be a 
surprise, but almost an invited spree, for "Harold's sons" did not 
bother to carry off the women but remained to found families. The 
name Harold persists as a Christian name, and as a surname in the 
form of Haroldson or Haroldton. 

The region embracing Minehead, Lynmouth, Carhampton, Por- 
lock Hill, and Combe Martin are little known to travelers. This 
last village breasts old Roman mines where silver in impressive 
quantities was found; the shafts are now abandoned. 

41 



I had a meal of creamed mussels at the Ship Inn at Porlock, a 
long, whitened-stone, thatched house, boldly pointed up in typical 
Somerset style by a wide band of black, painted window-sill height 
at ground level, while doorways set unusually high in the front wall 
are reached by two long flights of steps also painted black "to keep 
the devil out." 

At Cannington I wandered in the gardens of a mellowed, ivy-graced 
nunnery of 1138, where "Fair Rosamund" de Clifford of romantic 
memory received her youthful education and where, according to 
some chroniclers, Plantagenet Henry II first saw her cutting roses 
to deck a shrine of the Virgin for Easter. 

Ancient Dunster wears the true medieval air proudly. Dunster 
Castle dominates not only the immediate scene, but the countryside 
for many miles. The castle claims attention by its eminence atop 
a tree-and-rhododendron-clad mount. The history of Dunster is the 
history of the castle, a legacy of the Conquest. First built by William 
de Mohun in 1070, two massive battlemented round towers erected 
by Reginald de Mohun in 1280 affront the air. During succeeding 
centuries, walls, barbicans, a soaring square keep, and various wings 
containing apartments for residence make this seat of the Luttrell 
family since 1375 a remarkable architectural curiosity and a fitting 
repository for furniture and paintings from the reign of every Eng- 
lish sovereign since King Stephen. Among the treasures of art at 
Dunster Castle a visitor may see a series of scenes from, the story 
of Antony and Cleopatra, painted on Spanish leather. Two of these 
leather panels form curtains of stupendous scale in the entrance hall. 
The carved oak Renaissance staircase affords views from a wide 
landing of the sea where it joins the Bristol Channel off Minehead. 

Dunster in earliest times was a center for yarn and costly woolen 
cloth, known as "Dunsters," in great demand by London markets. 
The Yarn Market, built in 1647, is heavily beamed with timbers 
from wrecked Armada ships. This octagonal structure sports a high, 
conical roof, very like a Chinese coolie's hat. The Luttrell Arms, just 
at the entrance of High Street leading to the castle gates, is a hotel 
maintained in the best tradition of the English inn. There is a 
medieval porch with an opening for crossbows, and within, a number 
of the rooms are paneled in oak, carved in the Luttrell arms and 
acorn branches. I have always found the food here extraordinarily 
good. Fruit, vegetables, and game come from Luttrell farms and 
shooting preserves. 

4* 



The village of Montacute derives its name from twin hills 
(mons acutus) rising abruptly, a deep gorge separating them. It 
is crowned by ruins of a Roman watchtower and a castle in 
which a miraculous cross was found in the time of King Canute. 
Montacute House (National Trust) shows an early Renaissance 
facade raised as a screen in front of an older castle. This screen is 
splendidly ornamented by red marble statues of famous maritime 
celebrities in Roman dress. Sir Francis Drake and Christopher 
Columbus appear in armor and toga. The architect was John Thorpe, 
the man who designed Longleat in Wiltshire and overnight became 
the rage. Commissions galore poured in. But Thorpe was not a 
prolific man; he left only four outstanding examples of his particular 
kind of talent a facility to use glass windows not entirely as a means 
to lighten dark Tudor rooms, but as glittering exterior decoration. 

Never so grand a house as Montacute, but radiating the charm 
and friendliness one finds in most farmhouses, is Lytes Gary near 
Somerton, in the lovely Polden Hills. Regarding it a sort of shrine, 
herbalists trek here, and wander among the old scrolled herb gardens 
with their charming history. I felt I was nearing the wave-frilled 
shores of the Spice Islands, for every imaginable herb, plant, or bush, 
and many spices are grown in this garden, once the joy of Sir 
Henry Lyte and his inspiration for Niewe Herballe, the book that 
Charles II was reading before he sank into a last coma and let it slip 
from his fingers to the floor. 

The great hall, built in 1453, has an arched roof, the beaming 
imagined with great vitality, the bracing beams beautifully carved 
in huge bosses like pine cones. In a small room off the porch, linen- 
fold paneling is agreeably lighted by an oriel window to show texture. 
This room, where the family dined apart from their household, set 
a fashion in living quarters hitherto unknown in England the 
"withdrawing room," from which we derive our drawing room, and 
which Queen Elizabeth immediately copied at Whitehall. Displayed 
is a printed card telling that Sir Henry introduced dishes flavored 
with herbs and mulled wine "steeped in borage," the antique Greek 
way of serving heated wines. 

In a secluded location, which is in keeping with its awesome story, 
stands Oare Church. At the altar Lorna Doone was shot by Carver. 
Instead of the anticipated bridal kiss, John Ridd relates that he "had 
to face a flood of blood upon the altar steps, and at my feet fell 
Lorna." It is an old custom at Oare Post and Culbone, Winsford, and 

48 



Simonsbath in the Lorna Doone country for a bride and her groom, 
a few days after the wedding, to visit Oare Church, and to stand in 
front of the altar and swear by their love never to fall into the sin 
of jealousy or the roving eye. The dark stain in front of the altar, 
one is told by the verger, was formed by Lorna Doone's blood, par- 
tially obliterated by John Ridd's tears. 

From a high rock called Spear Hold I could see five spurs of 
hills the Brendon, the Quantock, the Polden, Blackdown, and that 
Somerset giant, "that monster of nature," Dunkery Beacon. For a 
while I climbed among the ruins of an ancient keep, a "spear house/' 
that had once been a hunting rendezvous of the Saxon kings. From 
here they could hunt the surrounding wolds while men-at-arms were 
left to watch for Danish pirates. 

Taunton, a big, sprawling market town, went all out for the fiery 
Duke of Monmouth in his rebellion (1685) against his father, 
Charles II, to gain the throne. Monmouth entered the town amidst 
enthusiastic cheering. Every throat shouted "Long live Monmouth 
the King!" He was crowned forthwith in the market place under the 
"bolt of lightning banner" so oddly devised in memory of Perkin 
Warbeck, an earlier would-be usurper of the crown, who had caused 
a famine. This coup de theatre was only an ill-advised flash before 
the tragedy that followed. After the rout of "King" Monmouth's 
forces, the terrible Judge Jeffries from London hanged Monmouth 
sympathizers indiscriminately and the town became "tainted with the 
stench of death." 

Today in Taunton one sees relics of these events in various guise. 
The old Market Cross is set up to "the Glory of God" for deliverance 
from Perkin Warbeck's famine, and many houses bear scars from 
Cromwellian guns. The Old White Hart (now a shop) was the inn 
from which "The Murderers" Jeffries and Colonel Kirk, his hench- 
mansigned the death warrants of half the population of Taunton. 

I stopped for dinner at Norton St. Philip at the George Inn, 
built in 1397, an inn among the several that claim to be the oldest 
licensed inn in England. The beams are sepia oak interestingly 
streaked as marbleizing, in red and gold only barely visible, but 
enough to convince me that at one time the rooms had painted 
ceilings and woodwork like those crude but vitally decorated barrel 
ceilings at Muchelney Abbey. A loin of beef was roasted to a turn, 
crisp on the outside and running blood within. Spread out before 
me were green garden peas prepared with butter and a few sprigs 

44 



of mint. Asparagus had a sauce of eggs, lemon, and cream, beaten 
to froth, and the cheese omelet was redolent with the inviting odors 
one experiences when winding through the Cheddar Gorge. I rec- 
ommend the ancient George Inn; it has entertained the greatest in 
the land. The comfortably arranged bedchambers are museums of 
early Elizabethan furniture. Carved four-posters, rivaling in size the 
Great Bed of Ware, are hung with crewelwork and handwoven linen. 

At Norton St. Philip I decided to drive back to Muchelney and 
look again at the painted ceiling in the church. Whatever religious 
content is meant, the effect is gay. The wooden ceiling, extending 
the length of the nave, is divided into squares, composed of agitated 
cumulus clouds wreathing in pink, blue, and gold convolutions. 
Color runs riot in this naive conception of heaven. Twenty panels 
in number, each contains an angel bearing a scroll. Upon these in 
gold ecclesiastical script are inscribed such words as "From the rising 
of the Sonne" and "To the setting of the Samme." Curiously clad 
in gowns fashionable during the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, the ladies 
are squeezed into tight bodices of vivid, diverse colors, spangled in 
silver and gold stars, fish scales, and miniver (ermine tails). Flaming 
wings bear these hovering angels with simpering, highly rouged 
faces. The whole show has a fiery look. More like an entertaining 
raffish purgatory it appears to me, than a correct heaven. 

In Curry Rivel the roofs of houses lining the High Street, and the 
thatched cottages strung out along lanes tributary to this thorough- 
fare, are so embroidered with moss and lichen as to gleam like 
damascened enamel. There is a lovely slumbering manor house, 
Burton Pynsent, on the fringe of the town. Topiary gardens and 
herbaceous borders distinguish this manor grant, bequeathed in 
1768 to Sir William Pynsent by Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Under 
National Trust the gardens may be visited. 

I walked along these flowery paths in late afternoon. On the 
walls hung honeysuckle both yellow and pink and the flame of 
Rosebay willow, called in Sir Henry Lyte's Niewe Herballe, "Herb 
of Heaven." Woody nightshade spread smoldering purple garlands; 
in Sir Henry's time it was wound around the necks of bewitched 
pigs, cattle, and horses. 

The Battle Inn at Weston Zoyland stands at the end of a long 
tunnel of lime trees. Beyond stretches the fatal battlefield of Sedge- 
moor where Monmouth, after believing himself well and truly King, 
was met and routed by his father's army. Even in bright sunlight, 

45 



a strange aura of treachery hangs over the grassy fields, as if the 
grieved voice of the father, Charles II, were sobbing, "My Mon- 
mouth? Oh no, not my son" his words when told of his offspring's 
satisfaction during his pre-emptory "crowning" at Taunton. 

Refreshed by cool shade and cider, I drove down a gentle declivity 
into the environs of Glastonbury. The Pilgrim's Inn, more often 
called the George Hotel, has a long, tangled, and fiery history. It 
was built by Abbot John Selwood in the fifteenth century "to house 
in somme comfort the Godlie who seeke the shrine of St. Joseph 
of Arimathea." One encounters a tall, narrow building, the facade 
enriched by deeply incised carvings of coats of arms and groups of 
mullioned windows, the tops handsomely arched in a lace-like carv- 
ing of branched leaves, forming a bishop's crozier. The building is 
extremely deep. The rooms originally intended for pilgrims ("for 
resste a groat payment is in demand") are like monks' cells. The 
separating walls have been removed from most of these quarters in 
order to meet present hotel requirements, though these sleeping 
chambers are still woefully small. One or two rooms, as they existed 
originally, have been left intact for showing to visitors. 

The great stairway is of heavily carved oak, and the beams and 
paneling in the lower floor public rooms are blackened by age and 
constant waxing. The food is good but the menu offers little variety. 

Abbot's Courthouse or Tribunal is a sixteenth-century house, 
rather small, but perfectly proportioned, with the effect of a manor 
house in miniature. The mullioned bay shows a "bordering" of 
eight arched windows hanging out over the street. Underneath this 
hood extends a long gallery of mullioned windows through which 
an eager, curious crowd of townspeople could peer. Over the door- 
way are displayed the stone arms (once painted in red, blue, and 
gold) of Henry VIII, whose association with Glastonbury was not 
a happy one. His "tally-men" accused Abbot Whiting of stealing 
the Abbey treasures. In an attainder full of ambiguous phrasing, 
sealed in gold and red (preserved in the Tribunal), Henry con- 
demned the beloved abbot to be hanged and taken to High Tor, 
there to be drawn and quartered in public view, an act which for- 
ever robbed the king of his popularity with Glastonbury men. To 
this day, on the anniversary, prayers are said in the Cathedral Lady 
Chapel for repose of the abbot's soul. 

Standing on the summit of conical Tor Hill, more generally 
known as Wearyall Hill, I am filled with awareness that spread below 



me, in the quiet green valley, is the abbey, serene, beautiful in its 
silver ruin; it has been the crux of all religious history in England 
since 718 on the day when the ecclesiastically minded layman, King 
Ine (or Ina)' started a church here in the "meadows of Avalon" and 
dedicated it to St. Peter and St. Paul. Like a chasuble embroidered in 
richly stirring events, Glastonbury, the church, and the later Abbey, 
have been wrapped in wonder. Here the monk, Dunstan of Glaston- 
bury, blasting his fury against the Powers of Darkness, buried a black 
ram as effigy for the Fiend, placing a stone crucifix above the grave. 
King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table assembled here. It 
was the starting point, after taking sacrament, of many a knightly 
quest. This "deep meadowed Avalon, fair with flower-pied orchard 
lawns" became the resting place for scores of medieval saints and 
knightly heroes. 

The chief legend of Glastonbury Abbey is that of Joseph of 
Arimathea. When Joseph was dispatched by St. Philip on a journey 
to Britain, he was bade to carry tidings of the Blessed Gospel "to 
those remotest shores." The travelers faced storm of great peril. 
Then suddenly the wind and waters became calm. The nearly sink- 
ing bark was borne across the Severn Sea to Glastonbury, which was 
then an island. The men, knowing nothing of the land, toiled up 
Wearyall Hill. Here Joseph leaned on his staff to pray for their 
deliverance. The staff took root and became a thorn tree. Each year, 
as the Feast of the Nativity came round, the tree burst into radiant 
blossom. Joseph had brought with him, tucked into his girdle, the 
Cup of Blessing from the Last Supper, the Holy Grail. As an offer- 
ing, he buried this Cup at the foot of Glastonbury Tor. Thus en- 
sepulchred, a spring of deepest red gushed forth. The Bloody Spring 
can be examined today. 

Buildingsa small monastery, a chapel began to rise. In 1100 
Abbot Thurstin built an abbey of some pretension. By 1120 grander 
Norman ideas had spread. Herlewin, brother of Abbot King Stephen, 
raised a tower and built a nave and ambulatory, a few traces of 
which one may see today. But it was Henry of Blois who coupled his 
grandiose ideas and enormous wealth to build an edifice of stagger- 
ing size, enriched by pierced stone too delicate, it was feared, long 
to withstand the elements. But just before completion the abbey 
was almost totally destroyed in a ruinous fire, the heat cracking the 
lacy ornaments to ash. 

At this time Henry II, reveling between bouts of extreme piety, 

47 



was making a desultory royal progress through Somerset. Accom- 
panying him was his usual extravagant court composed of "actors, 
singers, dicers, confectioners, hucksters, gamblers, buffoons, barbers, 
chamberers, and wanton wenches." Pausing at Glastonbury, Henry 
was horrified at the destruction he saw. In a dream he saw this fire 
as a heavenly visitation on himself, for his "mounting sins of venal- 
ity." He swore to rebuild the church. This, he claimed, would be a 
cathedral such as had not yet been seen in Christendom and the altar 
would be built over the legendary shrine of Joseph of Arimathea. 
But before Fitzstephen, the King's chamberlain, could collect the 
necessary money to start building, Henry Plantagenet died. What 
we see rising above the shrine today is the exquisite Chapel of St. 
Mary (1186). Its doorway, with a procession of the Nativity, the 
Passion, and Joseph of Arimathea's voyage to Britain tracing the 
architraves of the Romanesque entrance, is one of the loveliest carv- 
ings in religious architecture anywhere in England. 

The ruins of Glastonbury Abbey and its surrounding churches 
have the quiet, imperishable beauty of mellowing stone festooned 
with greenery and meadow flowers shrouded in the memories of ten 
centuries. 

It is the Chapel of St. Mary and the Abbot's Kitchen set apart in 
a flat acre that still remain nearly intact. Externally the Abbot's 
Kitchen is hugely square at the base. The roof is pyramidal, ending 
in an octagonal lantern. Inside, four hooded fireplaces, one in each 
corner, are crowned by towerlike chimneys. Thick stone ribs mount 
with the roof to support the lantern, a kind of culinary lighthouse, 
the mullions once filled in with horn. It is said that by a system 
of signaling with light this lantern flashed to the Abbey that dinner 
was ready to be served. An artfully contrived set of stone shutters 
high in the wall let out the smoke and steam. 

A long, wandering fragment of wall attaches this medieval build- 
ing to the Red Lion Inn. The flowering thorn tree between the 
Abbot's Kitchen and Old Gateway is a descendant of the one on 
Tor Hill which was destroyed by a Parliamentarian soldier. It is 
said that as the Roundhead started to hew the tree down with his 
sword, the blade cut off his leg as a penalty for desecration. 

In the last analysis it is the legendary grave of King Arthur and 
Queen Guinevere "of the pale brow," said to be somewhere in the 
Abbey of Glastonbury, that most impinges on the imagination of 
visitors. The porter at the Red Lion Inn Gate Lodge told me this 

48 



grave is what everyone seems most eager to see. All we know is that 
the centuries repeat, "These two were burid at Avalon." 

In the moonlight I walked in the cathedral close. The moon was 
furtive, darting in and out of clouds, creating patterns of velvet-soft 
black and muted silver to heighten the night beauty of the groined 
and mullioned arches. At this hour before midnight ancient ruins 
of this kind become partners of the night, illusive, transitory as a 
dream. Whirring bats dart among the aspen branchesa breeze 
springs up, hovers, and dies. A cat wrangles. A dog growls protest. 
A bird trills sleepily in the brake, and far off a fox barks, sharp as 
gunshot. Then, instantly, silence takes over. All about me rests an 
enfolding stillness, as quiet as Guinevere is said to be lying, shroud- 
wrapped. But where, no one knows. 

I spent the night comfortably at the Red Lion Inn and departed 
just after sunrise so that I could cross the Mendip Hills in sparkling 
morning light. A magnificent world spreads out all around when 
seen from the Mendips. Far off, in the faintest violet mist, the great 
cliffs of the Cheddar Gorge impress me as one of the most remark- 
able set pieces of scenery in the British Isles. 

I find that the most spectacular approach is to descend into the 
village of Cheddar from Priddy in the hills. At the back of the 
town a gigantic piece of detached rock is hewn by nature into a very 
presentable likeness of a crouching lion. At the foot of Lion Rock 
lies a heart-shaped lake, fed by subterranean springs. The year-round 
temperature of the water at the falls is so icy that a bunch of grapes 
or a tomato from a picnic basket, submerged for a few moments, 
is almost too cold to eat. 

Cox's Cave and Cough's Cavern, discovered in 1800, are consid- 
ered great sights for the stalactite enthusiast. Certainly the great 
spears of quartz and salt-drip are strikingly rich in color. 

The renowned Cheddar cheese is for sale in any quantity desired. 
Numerous restaurants and houses serving teas offer especially sharp 
cheese omelets and Welsh rarebit. There are a few small hotels, such 
as Bath Arms, but Cheddar Gorge is a place to visit for the day and 
most people return for the night to Wells, Bath, or Bristol. 

Wells is long famed as "the city of waters"; graceful stone masonry 
and beautiful trees reflect from lagoons, rivulets, and from springs 
from which one may drink. A certain pond, almost a small lake, 
bears a reflection of the cathedral, an effect so beautiful it gives one 
pause. Mirrored is architectural grace, and pastoral peace. 

49 



Regardless of its actual size, Wells Cathedral is deceptive when 
seen from a distance. It seems small in comparison with Exeter, 
Salisbury, Canterbury, or Durham. Its interior is a marvel of in- 
genuity in concentric arches, which were erected in 1338 with great 
dispatch; nearly one thousand workmen took part in the construc- 
tion. One morning, after days of continued rain and lashing wind, 
it was discovered that the whole nave was caving in, as if a giant 
mouth were slowly closing. Hundreds of large trees were hurriedly 
cut down to use as props against the stonework. Finally, massive 
inverted arches of Wiltshire stone were introduced double arches 
to strengthen the piers. Strengthen they did, adding, as well, unique 
decoration to the nave. Molded curves create a soaring pattern of 
Gothic filigree as the arches interweave. Wherever possible, im- 
mense circular apertures were inserted to lighten the effect and add 
exciting vistas to the whole length of the church. Rays of sun slant- 
ing through these great ports cause a ravishing effect of interlacing 
light. 

The radiating ribs of masonry, as delicate and graceful as foun- 
tain waters, are now, like the walls, a pearly gray, with a decided 
pink cast in the shadows. Early in the twelfth century and until the 
Protestant era, the exterior and interior of the church were painted 
in strong reds, greens, and blues, touched with gold paint, following 
the rich colors of the stained glass one sees today in the transept 
windows, glowing like huge, faceted jewels in the sun of morning. 

Singularly effective is the collection of embroidered hangings in 
the nave. These are the earliest surviving examples of English em- 
broidery, an art dating back to Anglo-Saxon times and at which both 
men and women were highly skilled. In theme all are ecclesiastical 
or heraldic. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries this Opus 
Anglicanum was regarded as the finest embroidered arras that could 
be obtained, and was greatly treasured. While much of this em- 
broidery was done in convents and monasteries, a great deal of fine 
stitching was done by noble ladies and their waiting women. 

At Wells, a feature offering great entertainment to visitors is a 
curious clock, attributed to Peter Lightfoot, a fourteenth-century 
monk from Glastonbury. Every hour a seated wooden figure called 
Black Jack Blandiver, painted in the gay attire of a courtier, kicks 
two bells, whereupon four knights helmed, and armed cap-a-pie, 
ride round a tower as many times as the clock strikes. By the rapt 
look on their faces, I calculate that every child who sees this fan- 

5 



faronade of Black Jack's contriving wants desperately to own the 
clock. As I walk away from Wells Cathedral and turn for a last look, 
I am persuaded that of the whole exquisite edifice it is the power- 
fully imagined west front that is most memorable. Even the im- 
mensity of this facade, simple in mass, is so delicately articulated in 
ornament that, just as a proscenium frames a lighted tableau on a 
stage, so this panorama in stone, primarily aimed to display superb 
medieval figure-sculpture, attains a perfection even its creators did 
not fully appreciate. In a rising series of arched or canopied niches 
stand saints, priests, mitered bishops, kings, nobles, and many more 
characters famous in the scriptures and folklore. Two figures in a 
canopied niche compel my eye beyond all others, for the sensitiveness 
of their faces. Both were greatly important in history during the 
twelfth century. Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, seems to peer down 
from his elevated position upon the crowned head of his patron, 
King Henry I. This roster of medieval life is aptly named "the poor 
man's Bible." 

I drove to Nailsea along back country lanes bordered by apple 
trees. At every crossroad men were receiving baskets of yellow August 
apples, the earliest fruit, to be pressed and the juice fermented. Just 
outside a village called Yatton stands a manor house with the de- 
lightful name of Apple Tardy. This stems from a time in the six- 
teenth century when "tally-men 1 ' of the local overlord sat in a tithe 
barn and tallied the number of sacks of apples delivered from a 
given manor orchard. A squire named Depthallow was habitually 
late in delivering his yield. After his name would be marked "Dept- 
hallow Apples Tardy." After a while his manor came to be called 
Apple Tardy. 

The leafy road to Nunney was lined with small boys and girls in 
broad-brimmed straw hats and clean linen smocks offering for sale 
baskets of strawberries, late raspberries, red gooseberries, and "black 
tongues," the berry that looks like a blackberry but tastes like a 
mulberry. The more enterprising youngsters sold jugs of cream to 
enhance the wayside berry feast and one flaxen-haired miss with 
a baby voice, a shy smile, but a purposeful blue eye, said if I wished 
a bowl and spoon she could supply those too. 

Nunney is one of those ancient villages scattered all over the 
British Isles where time seems to stand still and has done so from 
an early Plantagenet reign. Its castle still offers visitors who enter 



its portcullised gatehouse a complete picture of a medium-sized 
medieval fortress. The great hall occupies the third story, with en- 
gaging triangular-shaped chambers, probably once bedrooms, in the 
circular corner turrets. On a clear day the climb of various stair- 
cases is well worth the sweeping view afforded of undulating farm- 
lands, the Mendip Hills, and the seemingly uncertain meandering 
of the River Frome. 

Taking the road to Bath, I made a slight deviation to visit a small 
church, so hidden away in cedars and oak woods that few persons 
ever see it. Here at Sampford Brett is high theater, if I know it. The 
seventeenth-century bench-end commemorates the incredible resur- 
rection from a death-like trance of Florence Wyndham (d. 1660), 
the richest heiress in the West of England. 

Supposedly dead, the lady was buried with due pompe fun&bre, 
but soon after nightfall was awakened from her trance by a sexton 
who had opened her coffin to steal her rich gown and jewels. The 
agony caused by the sexton's wrenching off her rings shocked the 
lady into consciousness. 

It is told that "The Lady Wyndham of Watchet" dressed at all 
times of day in so opulent a style beplumed, be jeweled, arrogant 
in manner to allthat less fortunate neighbors referred to her as 
"Queen of Sheba." Certainly I have never seen a more fantastic 
figure in full fig of elaborate trappings than Florence Wyndham as 
depicted in the carving. Her hair is crimped and curled, and dressed 
to fall like foliations of acanthus leaves on either side of her oval 
face. Some of these tresses are caught up by streamers of ribbon 
which rise above her head in wild curlicues. Her long-skirted gown 
is draped and fluted, suggesting the chlamys and peplums of the 
Caryatids on the propylaeum on Athenian Acropolis. Two small 
female figures flank the lady. They are nude to the hips, with theit 
legs splaying out into grooved mussel shells. Headdresses of fruit- 
filled baskets sprouting floriations of leaves crown these hand- 
maidens. Cheeks puffed out in effort, they are entertaining the lady 
by playing on flutes. At first this melange of ornamentation seems 
a monument to confusion. But look carefully. The carved motifs 
correlate. The whole is a masterpiece of interwoven design of linear 
beauty from out of which gazes a huge-eyed, imperious woman with 
a thin-lipped, supercilious mouth. 

The Bretts were manorial lords of this locality; one of their 
members took active part in the sacrilegious murder of Thomas i 

5* 



Becket while at altar prayers. The effigy of this assassin, in full mail, 
stands upright on a shield emblazoning Brett arms, in the church 
vestry. 

Arriving by road across the Downs, one obtains the first great view 
of Bath. Almost an aerial view it seems, wing-borne. Below, a multi- 
tude of civilizations seem to stir, to beckon, then to speak. I saw 
this pearl-white city with its terraced houses built in demilune 
formation from Roman ruins rising all reflected in the Avon, where 
it foams in waterfalls. I arrived at twilight on a day when wreaths 
of faint mist rose into the cool evening air. Standing beside a vine- 
hung wall I looked down into the valley and realized how dependent 
for glory is an edifice on where it is placed. Architecture is an in- 
tensely human thing, living by the very passions that stir the human 
heart. 

Wandering in the columned and pedimented colonnades of the 
Pump Room Quadrangle, the swinging curve of Royal Crescent, 
or to the fretted pinnacles of Bath Abbey, it seems scarcely credible 
that all this elegance in stone has risen from a hill-encircled river 
bottom through which, one mist-shrouded day, wandered a princely 
shepherd, Bladud, son of Lud Hudibras, King of Britain and grand- 
son of Aeneas. By some unhappy chance Bladud had contracted 
leprosy. Made loathsome by this disease, he fled his father's court. 
His mother, Queen Lersia, followed on horseback and overtook him. 
She had dreamed that her son would wander in a green valley, served 
by a winding stream and many springs, and would be cured by 
this water and return to court. To ensure that he would be recog- 
nized after his cure, she placed a ring with a sapphire engraved with 
a royal device on his finger. 

Prince Bladud wandered to Keynsham, where he became a swine- 
herd. He drove the animals far afield into a valley, its beauty almost 
obscured by heavy vapors rising from countless half-hidden springs. 
Soon Bladud discovered that he had imparted leprosy to his pigs. 
Dreading the anger of his patron, he drove the herd farther into the 
oak woods on the pretext that the acorns there were more plentiful. 
The swine were quick to wallow in the mud of a spring discovered 
at this point. At nightfall, as he washed the swine, Bladud discovered 
they were completely cured. Forthwith he plunged into the reed- 
grown wallow and found at sunrise that he too had rid himself of 
the fell disease. 

53 



Returning to his father's court, Bladud gathered together a band 
of companions and retraced his steps. Arrived at the place where 
his cure had occurred, the prince had the springs cleaned of reeds 
and erected baths. His father joined him and soon there rose upon 
noble foundations a "City of Baths." 

It is a sort of creed, a ritual, that every man in Bath should fully 
believe this legend. It is in a sense the birth symbol for Bath. In 
the British Museum rests a document signed thus: "We whose names 
are hereunder written, natives of the City of Bath, having perused 
the above tradition, do think it very truly and faithfully related 
as witness our hands, this first day of November 1741." The list of 
signatures is impressive, more so as singularized by the names of men 
in varied stations in life. 

The recorded history of Bath begins in A.D, 44. It was a Roman 
cavalry depot, and is said to have been the most popular in Britain 
with the soldiery who enjoyed the bathing. The Romans established 
baths, which they called Aquae Sulis, remains of which are today 
the most important Roman relics in Britain. There was a local deity 
named Sul after whom the adjacent excavated hill of Solsbury was 
named. There are many references in the "Axioms," plaques of in- 
scriptions, in the Museum. A temple to this extensively propitiated 
goddess of the waters stood on the site of the present Pump Room. 

Three great Roman highways converge at Bath, Via Julia into 
Wales, the Fosse Way to Lincoln and Axminster, connecting 
Hadrian's Wall, and historic Akeman Street straight to London. 
The Saxons called Bath "the sick man's fort/' believing that the 
entire garrison under various Roman generals were all suffering from 
some disease. 

Certainly Romans from all over Britain flocked to Bath to "take 
the waters" whenever possible, and, as was ever theijr custom, en- 
riched the bathing establishments with rare and valuable works of 
art lovely to contemplate today. An example is the superbly modeled 
gilt bronze head of Minerva, a curious, aubergine bronze from the 
Temple to Sul Minerva. This was found under the pavings of Stall 
Street in 1727 when medieval cobbles, the size of cannon balls, were 
removed to lay more elegant paving suitable to be trodden by French 
heel slippers or * 'glazed" leather pumps with silver or paste buckles 
worn by belles and bucks of Beau Nash's Bath. 

In the Roman Baths there is a room called Hypocaust, with mosaic 
paving, embracing a design of green, black, and purple dolphins and 

54 



other aquatic beasts such as sea-centaurs and gargoyles with finny 
tails, imagined so engagingly by classical artisans. A departure from 
the usual "Hot Room" was provided by the stacks of tiles on which 
the mosaic paving was elevated. This arrangement allowed the heat 
to circulate around the pylons and up through the hollow tiles lining 
the mosaic walls. Roman bathers used this room blanketed in heat 
before plunging first into tepid, then into cold pools, as is the pro- 
cedure in a modern Turkish bath. 

A much discussed fragment of Roman decoration is the shield in 
stone from the triangular pediment of the Temple to Sul Minerva, 
discovered in the eighteenth century. Minerva's shield is bordered 
by the leaves of triumphal bay, and deeply carved ribbon-bound 
artichokes, the earth symbol of wisdom. The shield is supported by 
two winged victories, as if hovering in Olympian skies. It is the 
head in the center of the shield that puzzles me, the head of a 
bearded man, bulging eyes set oddly slanting down. But for the locks 
of writhing serpents and a mustache formed from two hissing snakes, 
the head is a representation of the Celtic God, Roh. It emerges that 
the Romans in Bath identified Sul, the most popular goddess of the 
region, with Minerva, Goddess of Healing, and the warrior god of 
the Celts with Mars. 

One drinks the waters in surroundings of grandest Georgian taste 
in the crimson, crystal, and white Pump Room. From the Pump 
Room and windows of the excellent restaurant overlooking the 
Roman Pool, watched over by a statue of Bladud, one can obtain 
a fine view of the Roman Springs, at one time named King's Bath, 
reflecting Roman sculpture and Palladian colonnades. 

After the Romans departed from Britain, Bath, as a spa cele- 
brated for healing waters and entertainments of the flesh when cured, 
sank into nearly total eclipse. But in 577 Aquae Sulis came to the 
attention of the Saxons as a result of a miraculous cure from leprosy 
of the wife of a Saxon chieftain named Bleator, who, like Bladud, 
in agony of mind, had chanced to discover the springs in his wan- 
derings. The Saxons called the bath Hatum Bathum. 

The centuries rolled on. In 943 a band of Flemish monks came 
to the Abbey which stood near the site of the present Abbey Church. 
They made the pilgrimage to the baths a homage to Our Lady. 

Bath had a "festive ladyie, fairre and proudde" ruler for a short 
time. She was Queen Edith, daughter of Earl Godwin, imperious 
Queen of Edward the Confessor, who was, the King said of her, 

55 



"nevyrre present by my sydde." She held a gay court here. It is 
said that from some of the frivolities and marital escapades of her 
court ladies, such as "husbande changye," Geoffrey Chaucer pat- 
terned his Tale of the Wife of Bath in Canterbury Tale$> I recall: 

"Bold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe. 
She was a worthy woman al hir lyve 
Housbandes at church dore, she hadde yve." 

In the early days of Charles Stuart's Restoration, young Lord 
Verney wrote as follows to his friend Lady Castlemaine, hoping she 
would induce the King to eschew Newmarket racing and bring his 
cronies to Bath: "The waters of Bath take on a fine air of rout. We 
are early abroad to watch Nakedness spatter alleged Virginity with 
Unholy Water." 

There is a most illuminating drawing in brown ink in the 
Museum. By T. Johnson (1670), it is entitled, "Restoration Bath." 
A pavilion rises in the middle of King's Bath. A covey of naked 
youths of fair age are prancing along a balustrade trying to pull 
ladies in puffed sleeves and draped kirtles into the pool. Gallants, 
beplumed, hands in furred muffs, parade with quizzing glass raised, 
while a banquet, the food piled fantastically high, is being par- 
taken of at long trestle tables at one side of the bath. 

Spend an hour or two in Milson Street lined with fine shops, and 
covet the delicate table silver so opulently displayed, and ranging 
from large grog-trays which once had to be carried by husky footmen 
to an exquisite silver thimble in the form of a thistle. 

A house marks the blunt end of a flatiron-shaped block of Georgian 
buildings at the fork of Milson Street. A charming black cupid in 
lead occupies a niche painted robin's-egg blue and levels his arrow 
at passers-by. Walk slowly along the Royal Crescent. Absorb its 
curving facade, tall white-pillared houses standing shoulder to shoul- 
der like Grenadier Guards. Walk out onto the terrace in front of the 
center house. Look back; you will catch a glimpse of Lansdown 
Crescent, seeming about to take off into the empyrean from its 
verdured hillside. Wander on; cross the River Avon by Palladian 
Pultney Bridge, built by Robert Adam in 1770, and lined on either 
side by a parapet of enclosed shops dealing in fruits, flowers, and 
confectionery. 

In Trim Street is the house where General Wolfe of Quebec fame 
lived. The lunetted doorway is one of the finest in Bath. It is now 

56 



possible to visit the place I regard as perfection for a town house. 
Built in Palladian-Georgian style by John Wood the Elder, it stands 
at 15 Queen Street. The plaster decorations depicting Arcadia, peo- 
pled by extraordinarily virile satyrs and melting nymphs, are by the 
Francini brothers stuccadori assoluto, who came out of Italy to enrich 
in beautiful hand-modeled plaster some of the greatest houses in 
England and Ireland. Take lunch at the Pump Room restaurant, 
then stroll through Queen Square. Pass the house where Sarah 
Siddons lived, No. 16 James's Square, and consider her comments 
relayed to Sir Joshua Reynolds: 

"I had to give up my James's Square house. Enchanting as it is, 
the rooms oppress me, being too intimate. I must stride when I 
rehearse. I find even the Royal Crescent impedes my entrance, when 
I rehearse Lady Macbeth." 

Lansdown Grove Hotel is beautifully situated with views across 
the city to the Wiltshire Downs. The food is excellent in either the 
Terrace Grill or dining room. 

Save until the end of your visit Prior Park. Its owner, Ralph Allen 
of Bath, was often called with greatest admiration "the eighteenth- 
century Maecenas/' His fortune was prodigious, he was also an 
extremely generous man who asked his friend John Wood the Elder 
to "build me a house in which I can dwell happily and eventually 
leave to the City of Bath for whatever use it pleases." 

There are architecturally great houses in many lands, but there 
is nothing of Palladian style to come within miles of Prior Park, in 
sweeping scale, in position, or beauty of classical detail. The layout 
is a columned and pedimented central block; from this an arcaded 
wing of rusticated Bath marble from Allen's own quarries flings out 
arms on either side in demilune. Flanking at right angles to the 
main block, two perfectly proportioned pavilions act as proud finials 
of such scale that twenty-four tall windows add lightness to the 
facades. 

The interior of Prior Park exceeds description. It must be seen 
in order to obtain any possible ideas of its textures, for texture is 
the most illusive feature in art. A wealth of pale colored marbles 
prevail, damasks, gilded woods, and painted canvas. The Franchinis 
sped the whole roster of Olympian deities to recline on the ceilings 
in an improbable cloudland. From the front windows of the stretch 
of apartments on the piano nobile or second floor, one looks across 
a series of descending steps and terraces to the River Avon. 

57 



Ckaptcr 4 



WILTSHIRE'S ROLLING DOWNS 

AND THE "PREENING COAST" 

OF LITTLE DORSET 



ON THE road across the border from Somerset to Wiltshire I 
passed the village of Keynsham acting custodian, as it were, 
to one of those eye-compelling eccentricities of nature fre- 
quently come upon in any countryside. Here is a sudden jutting of 
rock split into a ravine cavern. The rock is so deeply and curiously 
striated that it resembles some of the strange deposits of lava I have 
seen in Sicily. The closer one looks the more these striations seem 
like writhing snakes. "And once upon a time," the old ones say, 
"so they were." 

About the time Prince Bladud had set off from Keynsham with his 
herd of swine, a Welsh woman of extreme sanctity, later to become 
St. Keyne, dwelt as a hermit in a cave under this rock. The sur- 
rounding woods were infested by a great number of poisonous ser- 
pents. The deaths of woodcutters and children gathering cress and 
berries in the wood mounted each year. Vowing to rid the wood of 
this scourge, St. Keyne walked among the nests of hissing reptiles 
unharmed, playing upon a lyre and singing a chant. Not usually 
susceptible to the voice of a charmer, the serpents followed her to 
the rock. Up St. Keyne walked, struggling for a footing on the smooth 
surface. Once the horde of serpents had covered the surface of rock 
they were, at her intercession, changed into stone. 

The countryside in Wiltshire gives a refreshing lift to the spirit. 
Shoulders of the Downs are vital in drawing. Nature, in expansive 
mood, dips her brush in all the richest greens and sweeps unsparingly 
those undulations I see against the palest turquoise sky. 

58 



Near Bradford Leigh Crossroads lies Great Chalfield Hall, serenely 
breasting the years, contained within its wide, clear-water moat. As 
I approached the entrance gates to the park, I saw motor coaches 
drawn up on the grass border. The Hall had visitors. This house is 
one of the most popular on the National Trust list 

The present house, built by Thomas Tropnell in the fifteenth 
century on the site of an earlier fortified manor farm, has, at first 
view, the appearance of a hamlet, so irregular is the grouping of 
church and great hall, once used for banqueting. The long gabled 
house is matted with luxuriant ivy and espaliered pear trees, the 
most famous in the shires. The gardens are romantic to a degree. 
The ancient yew alleys date from the time of the original castle. So 
ingeniously arbored are these trees, it is as if one walked under a 
tented space. 

Situated in pleasant countryside within easy driving distance of 
Great Chalfield Hall is the Swan Hotel at Bradford, famous for its 
variety of fresh garden vegetables, including their specialty a salad 
of cucumber, garden lettuce, scallions, and Wiltshire water cress. 
The dressing is interesting, being composed of hard-boiled eggs 
mashed up with a fork, then beaten with tarragon vinegar and olive 
oil into a smooth consistency, providing a subtle lingering taste. 
Just a hint of powdered clove is dusted over the lettuces. 

Driving across the Downs of Wiltshire I am again reminded that 
this is the land of the "great" country house, rivaled in number and 
importance of "show places'* open to view only by Yorkshire. For 
example, Longleat is a signal instance of the houses erected to mark 
the rise of Henry VIII's friends. Russells, Cavendishes, Fitzwilliams, 
and Thynnes entered the picture as the richest and most influential 
"new" nobility. These families supported the king in his sweeping 
suppression of the monasteries and great cathedrals subject to papal 
domination. They reaped the reward that only a royal sovereign 
can bestow: patents of nobility and rich manors to support their 
new style of living. 

All over the country a wave of building ensued. The house with 
a "long gallery" was the new fashion. The walls must show a blaze 
of windows, no matter the heavy tax on glass for a window of any 
remarkable size. Stone and glass, gilded carvings, and costly stuffs 
were filched from the ruined religious houses. The uninitiated 
should bear in mind that many of England's medieval monasteries 
and abbeys are in various stages of ruin today, not as result of war 

59 



or the elements playing their wonted havoc on untended oak and ma- 
sonry, but of deliberate looting. The richest plunder in the realm 
was distributed as reward to the king's supporters. 

Soon after the dissolution of the monasteries Sir John Thynne 
built Longleat. Here was the earliest example yet seen of an Italian 
Renaissance style house to rise on English turf. It caused much 
excitement, just as three centuries later Colen Campbell was to 
astonish the countryside and cause ridicule by building Mereworth 
in the leafy bowers of Kent for Mountjoy Fane, "A Temple of the 
Winds" in the counterpart of Italian Andrea Palladio's Villa Rotonda 
in Vicenza. 

Longleat (the long house of many windows) is actually a blending 
of Tudor and Italian Renaissance styles. High and wide mullioned 
windows flanked by grouped flat pilasters seem to compose the entire 
walls of three stories. These windows catch the sun in such a way 
that, outlined against the belt of greenery behind, Longleat becomes 
a solid shimmer of light, luminous as sunrise upon a waterfall. 

The interior of Longleat, seat of the Marquess of Bath, is chiefly 
notable for arched screens of carved oak fretwork, great in scale, 
used in a most original manner to divide the lower rooms and yet 
in no way diminish the spacious proportions. A minstrel gallery 
surmounted by painted crests is reached by a magnificent staircase. 
This gallery is marked in history as the spot where Barbara Villiers, 
then Duchess of Cleveland, "paid her bet" in a typical Villiers gesture. 

It transpired that Charles II and members of his most intimate 
circle were gathered in the great hall at Longleat for Midsummer 
Eve. A "Masque of License" was in progress. Barbara Castlemaine, 
as she liked to be called by her intimates, no matter how many titles 
she collected during her ascendency in royal favor, sat in the gallery. 
The conversation turned pro and con on the subject of Junoesque 
beauty in a woman versus a woman of petite charms. Barbara was, 
of course, tall and richly curved. She laid a wager of a "hundredth 
weight of gold which in value is the gold galloon of my gown" that 
she had the longest and slimmest legs of any woman in the room. 
She proved it, to all but one man, by swinging them over the gallery 
rail, while she was held at both elbows by gallants. Sir Eustace Gar- 
rison, a visiting Virginia planter, took umbrage that other women 
present had not competed. He wished the judging to continue. In- 
furiated that any man should dispute her word or her charms, the 
duchess cried out, "For being such a boor you deserve a reward." 

60 



She ripped off her gown of orange satin heavily encrusted with gold 
lace and galloon, and threw it over the balustrade to the embarrassed 
Virginian, who gave the gown to his host. For many years it hung 
from the exact spot where the Duchess of Cleveland described by 
Pepys as "the most entertained, and the best entertainer, of any 
woman in London" had disrobed. 

The stables at Longleat are in scale with the house, providing 
space for thirty horses. The state coach which was used by the Mar- 
quess of Bath to drive to the coronation of Elizabeth II is on show, 
painted and gilded, the hammer cloths enriched with gold-embroi- 
dered crest and the twisted fringe known as "Darius' Beard/' 

The visual aspect of Wiltshire changes as the road progresses 
toward Salisbury Plain. The downs become wilder, trees are rooted 
close together in the form of rings. At Laycock the Red Lion Hotel 
has a black and white "spangled" bar, spacious rooms, and the food 
is fair. Laycock Abbey lies on the outskirts. 

A curious air of desuetude hangs over Laycock Abbey, an aware- 
ness of listening perhaps because it was once an Augustinian Abbey 
before Sir William Sharington, in 1540, turned it into a "house 
place." Ancient abbeys have long memories fraught with strange 
secrets. He built a huge, octagonal stone tower, unique for its vaulted 
ceiling imparting to the "strong-room" the air of an oriental throne 
room. 

It was in this room roughly sixty years later that Fox-Talbot dem- 
onstrated to a skeptical family the art of portrait photography 
printed on paper, with which he had been experimenting. In the 
cloisters, so long silent of singing or murmured litanies, pillars are 
carved in exquisite bosses and leaves clasped by celestial hands. There 
is at one end a nun's warming house. This small space is reported 
to have been used by Fox-Talbot as a darkroom. 

I had the first far-off glimpse of the early Iron Age camp called 
Figbury Rings at sunset. The downs, the grass restive, lay like the 
gentle swell of the sea on a windless summer evening. There was 
almost no one about; even the sheep that wander in flocks continu- 
ously to and fro, ever cropping, had sought night shelter among these 
monoliths of mysterious origin. 

On my way down one of the avenues of stone toward the central 
temple I passed close to the oddest village I have ever seen. Perhaps 
fifteen brick and stone-slag, high-chimney, thatched cottages have 
been built in the actual space originally occupied by the largest of 

61 



the Druid temples. The dwellers among the monoliths, who call 
themselves Stonehengers, boast of Gypsy ancestry. They are silent, 
furtive-eyed, with dark, coarse, straight hair and high-set, prominent 
cheek bones. But unlike the gypsies, they are not nomads but home- 
steaders who farm in a small way, raise flocks, and watch with scant 
interest archaeologists and historians dig and photograph, study and 
typewrite reams of theories. Carvings of an ax and a dagger dis- 
covered on a thirty-ton monolith at Stonehenge are inclining Scot- 
tish and English archaeologists toward the view that the greatest 
pre-Christian sanctuary in Europe was built by an ancient Mycena- 
ean from the Eastern Mediterranean area. Within a month after 
the first discovery, a young schoolboy discovered a similar drawing 
of a flanged ax on a stone in the outer ring of the sanctuary, the 
cryptic incisions totaling forty representations of daggers and axes. 
I saw the dagger carving, which is broad, the blade long and nar- 
row, the base terminating in short, upcast horns. This is identical 
with an actual weapon unearthed years ago at Mycenae in the 
Peloponnesus. This, too, I have seen in the Minos Museum at 
Cnossus in Crete. The ax was a constantly used symbol in 4,000- 
year-old Minoan civilization, shaped like the Roman A. Professor 
Piggot presumes that the architect of Stonehenge was himself a 
Mycenaean. But, dissenters inquire, why should a cultured, sophis- 
ticated Mycenaean be associated with a race of Britons who sacrificed 
and buried their dead on the wild, wind-swept plains of Salisbury? 
Nevertheless, traces of Mycenaean culture of high order were found 
at Pelynt, Cornwall, and in caves in the rocks under Tintagel Castle. 

As I watched, night descended and the sun, close to the horizon, 
was nearly hidden by a long pencil of black cloud edged by crimson 
and sulphur-yellow fire. How black these altar stones become! Black, 
rimmed in red of the sun's last rays. I recall all I have heard of how 
the race, worshipers of nature gods, built this temple and surround- 
ing altars on the hub of the upland system of southern England, 
where the old hill trails radiate outward from the temple like the 
spokes of a giant wheel. To this spot they dragged (some historians 
say by teams of fifty to eighty bullocks) the stones from as far as 
Milford Haven in Wales, and buried their chiefs within the mono- 
lith enclosure. The charcoal found in the graves has been dated by 
radioactive carbon as approximately 1840 B.C. 

Bronze Age Wessex men, who came after, raised Stonehenge by 
eighty tremendous Sarsen stones. In approximately 1700 B.C. the 

62 



two rings were raised and the tops of the mortise jointed into shape. 
Pre-Hellenic culture traveling northward to Britain remained fos- 
silized until revived for a time by the Romans. 

From way out in the verdant meadows which encircle Salisbury, 
the tallest church spire in England rises above the old gray city like 
a sudden song. To the inhabitants of Salisbury their cathedral with 
its exquisitely graceful spire, over four hundred and forty feet high, 
is a living, breathing companion of all their trials, their sorrows, 
and their joys. The natives often make a remark to visitors which 
is amusing in its naivet: "Good day, have you seen the cathedral 
spire?" As if anyone save a blind man could miss it! But so great 
is their love for this edifice that it seems to them a perfectly natural 
question. 

It is not only the spire of Salisbury Cathedral that is remarkable. 
The church itself, built in the thirteenth century, has a gabled front 
pointed up by two smaller replicas of the soaring central one. The 
carved benches of the choir loft deserve the great attention they 
receive. There is a beautifully mellowed chapter house and cloister; 
the capitals of the engaged columns are carved "drolleries," as the 
medieval creators of such conceits of yawning, grinning, weeping, or 
smirking masks called this style of ornament. 

The cathedral stands within a fine expanse of green lawn. Sur- 
rounding the abbot's close are splendid examples of seventeenth- 
and eighteenth-century houses. The first parquet floors to be brought 
to England from France after the Revolution were laid down in 
some of them. Accordingly the west side of the close is known as 
"Parquet Row/' 

Approaching the river reaches of Wilton, the village of Mere is 
smartly Georgian. There is a good deal of red brick used in various 
Wiltshire villages. One house, between Mere and Wilton, reminds 
me of an oil painting on glass. Very stiff it stands behind tall, narrow, 
brick gateposts limned against dark cedars, as smart as a sentry in 
a white-faced scarlet tunic. Just as I passed the house a pony trap, 
driven by a girl of perhaps ten, came out of the gates and turned 
off in an up-country direction. She sat primly, ramrod straight. Her 
hands lifted the reins at just the right anglean accomplished horse- 
woman of ten years, in a billiard-table green coat and brimmed hat. 
Beside her rode a groom in dark plum livery and cockaded postilion 
hat astride a black and white piebald pony only a little larger than 
the one the girl was driving. This picture of a self-possessed house, 

63 



self-possessed small horsewoman, and attendant footman, was like 
a page from one of Georgette Meyer's Regency novels. 

Wilton House, the seat of the Earls of Pembroke and Mont- 
gomery, is of great historical interest and is noted for beauty of 
construction and appointments. Buildings were in existence on the 
site of the present house when a priory was established in the ninth 
century by King Egbert. Henry II, in 1160, awarded a "grant of 
land under my seal" to Hawis, Abbess of Wilton. West of the Riding 
School and stables, which at Wilton are of great magnificence in 
preserved equipage, elaborate trappings, and harness, stands a court 
of the belhouse, the only remaining structure from the twelfth 
century abbey. The last Abbess, Cecelia Bodenham, and thirty-one 
nuns were driven from the abbey at the dissolution of the monas- 
teries and forced to seek refuge in the village of Hindon. 

Sir Richard Herbert, a Welshman, was gentleman usher to Henry 

VII. The family fortunes had begun to rise, but it was the son, 
William, who was to be the first owner of Wilton as we know it 
today. William, by ready wit and resourcefulness, had become first 
favorite to Francis I at Blois, having fled to France after killing a 
man in a brawl in a Bristol tavern. When William's return to Eng- 
land was finally arranged, Francis recommended him to King Henry 

VIII, stating, "For his sudden laughter which I find contagious, and 
his lovableness, I commend him most freely to my cousin of England/' 

William Herbert's gift for "laughter and lovableness" put him in 
such good stead that the king gave him for wife Ann Parr, sister 
of Queen Catherine, and elevated him to "a Coat of Arms and Crest" 
and for good measure bestowed the abbey lands of Wilton. William 
forthwith pulled down the old decaying abbey and built himself and 
his "proud wife" a much grander house. There is a kind of legend, 
a tradition but no proofthat William sought the services of Hans 
Holbein, Henry VIII's famous Court painter and designer of 
Masques. But there is no preserved family document which in any 
way pertains to such a procedure, even though this collection is 
staggering in quantity and is remarkably legible. 

The tower, in the center of the south front, surmounted by an 
elegantly proportioned cupola very like some designed for "bosky 
retreats" at Hampton Court and for the gardens at Richmond Palace, 
is still called the Holbein Tower, though it is relegated to the 
garden where its lovely, sculptured porch is much admired. Inigo 
Jones built his design on the site of the Tudor house much dam- 



a Palladian bridge built in 1737, possibly the finest detached struc- 
ture of its kind in Palladio's noble Vitruvian manner to be seen in 
England. The architects, Henry, ninth Earl of Pembroke, and his 
friend, Robert Morris, were great admirers and students of the 
classic theme. It is this "Architect Earl" who built the handsome 
riding school at Wilton. 

The interior of Wilton House focuses on the cube room and the 
double cube room which adjoins. The double cube room, so often 
described as "the most beautiful room in England," is magnificently 
proportioned in the great Palladian tradition of sixty feet long, 
thirty feet wide by thirty feet high. It was designed by Inigo Jones 
in 1653 and completed by Webb. The walls are paneled in soft pine 
painted in white gesso, introducing the Italian manner of finishing 
woodwork. This soft pine lends itself admirably to deeply incised 
carving. The exquisite detail of swags, flowers, foliage, and foliations 
centers in the pendant motif of fringed and tasseled pennants em- 
ployed to hold baskets of fruit. Suspended from the elaborately 
modeled plaster cornice flat against the walls in a manner quite 
unusual, these streamers act as pilasters, between ' which hangs the 
magnificent set of portraits by Sir Anthony Van Dyck. The furniture 
for this room was especially designed by William Kent, after he had 
studied it for hours, taking in every detail of his surroundings. The 
chairs, settees, banquettes, and roundabout sofas are carved in details 
of fruit and leaf with the vitality appropriate to a room so splendid 
in scale. Finished in white gesso, touched with gilt, seats, arms, and 
backs of chairs are covered in crimson Genoa velvet dating from 
1799. The tables painted in white and gold with rose marble or 
porphyry tops were designed by Kent, using his favorite dolphin 
motif. The curtains of this room, and those of the single cube and 
colonnade rooms are all of crimson velvet, but the carved and gilded 
pelmets, and the sumptuous mirrors hung between the windows in 
both cube rooms are by Chippendale, made at the peak of his 
career (1754). The ceiling is covered with canvas and painted in ex- 
treme bravura with the story of Perseus watched over by the as- 
sembled gods and goddesses on cloud-veiled Olympus. 

Framed in elaborately carved and gilded white pine, the largest 
family group on record the Herbert family, painted by Van Dyck 
measures seventeen feet in length and eleven feet in height. The 
family are shown gathered together on a colonnaded terrace hung 

65 



with dark claret velvet curtains. Philip, fourth Earl of Pembroke, 
K. G., his countess, his five children, sons- and daughters-in-law, ten 
figures in all, gleam in color of their elegant raiment from black to 
white, to red-orange, to primrose yellow, to pink and bronze-brown. 
The aura of color alone places this room apart, in the realm of 
decoration. 

The entire house is a gallery embracing many schools of painting. 
"Descent from the Cross/ 1 School of Fontaine-bleu, was painted at 
the wish of Diane de Poitiers to hang in her Chateau de Anet. Here 
also is Sir Joshua Reynolds' engaging portrait of Elizabeth Spencer, 
Countess of Pembroke, teaching her little son, Lord George Herbert, 
his catechism. By the expression in his alert eyes, looking straight at 
the beholder, this lesson seems not to interest him. Lady Pembroke's 
head is swathed in a sort of wimple of folded gold gauze, painted 
as lightly as sunlight on a dragonfly's wing. 

For a millinery display of sheer fantasy, putting any present-day 
hatter to shame, is a picture, 'The Card Players," by Lucas van Ley- 
den (1494-1533). Immense velvet berets are worn by men and women 
alike over tight jeweled caps. One foppish youth, lips puckered in 
chagrin, is shelling out gold coins to a sort of squint-eyed croupier. 
With one gloved hand he adjusts at precarious angle on his frizzed 
coiffure a wide-brimmed hat of vermilion velvet, the brim slashed 
in black and wreathed in yellow plumes. Although the gaudily at- 
tired women seem wispy and pasty-faced, the picture is a brilliant 
documentation of fashions in medieval Antwerp. 

Near the quiet village of Purton, Goose Day Market is still regu- 
larly held. The farmers wear the traditional smocked "gown/' a 
knee-length linen smock, reminding me of the delicious drawings 
of rural England in the early nineteenth century by Kate Greenaway. 

Lydiard Tregoze is an important edifice of Palladian architecture 
standing in wide parklands. In 1930 I painted the house as a "con- 
versation piece," an unusual picture in the form of a triptych, three 
elevations of the house seen from three disparate positions in the 
park. The reason for the triptych was an idea of the owner. He told 
me the number three represented good luck for the family of St. 
John, their greatest treasure being the heraldic triptych set against 
one wall of the Lydiard Tregoze church. 

The long, two-story rectangular block incorporates a pedimented 
entrance and four low, square attic pavilions at each corner of the 

66 



roof. To balance this is the serenity of a silvery white stone house 
with pediments, pavilions, balustrades, and superbly proportioned 
windows revealed on three sides of the house. The fourth, or rear 
elevation, is just a jumbled old rookery of Tudor penthouses, shored- 
up walls, twisted chimneys, and a multitude of privies hanging like 
swallows' nests from the mildewed gray-stucco walls. 

This view of battered medieval masonry has a charm of its own 
like that of the ancient houses of Bedlam Court along Roman Wat- 
ling Street near CanterburyChaucer's Pilgrim's Way. This curiosity 
was never explained to me when I was engaged in painting Lydiard 
Tregoze. From the lawns, the south front of the house is shadow 
latticed. The pedimented facade, flanked by giant cedars which 
identify the entrance court, fling long branches like mantillas of 
heavy black Spanish lace, to sweep the green lawns. This blackness, 
delicate in tracery, greatly enhances the gleaming Chilmark stone 
quarried near Wilton, from which the house is built. Now the house 
is bare of furniture. Oddly this is a good thing. To reveal the true 
magnificence of the paneling, the carved architraves of windows and 
doors, the great fireplace in the entrance hall, white elegance every- 
where gleams unadorned. Marble, gessoed wood, and a rare collec- 
tion of sculpture in white glazed faience show probably more 
minutely than ever before that unless furnishings are chosen with 
great taste, great architecture is often unnoticed. 

The painted chancel screen is seventeenth-century sculpture. The 
lion and unicorn "bedecked and gorged" support the Royal Arms 
of James I. Through this arch, over the pews of the center aisle, one 
sees the chancel window, set up in 1633 ^Y ^ r Jhn St. John, a 
window so irridescent in color as to be considered the most richly 
conceived Flemish glass in England. This unquestionably great fam- 
ily treasure is a masterpiece in terms of design and execution. Set 
on a stone base, the outer surfaces of the four leaves are painted with 
the St. John family tree, gold upon a ground of bronze-brown. Bril- 
liant color identifies appropriate coats of arms. When the doors are 
folded back to reveal the portraits, the inner side is again thickly 
diapered with heraldry. These doors are as rich and as full of in- 
cident in heraldic design as any gold-threaded tapestry ever loomed. 
Students are constantly studying the leaves, which display in minia- 
ture brilliant as jewels the coats of arms of over seven hundred 
families who in some way are connected with the St. Johns. 

In the large painted family group I perceive a tremendous sense 



of airy space, as if the family had already taken quarters in some 
celestial pavilion. Painted Renaissance columns in the immediate 
foreground act as supports to a canopy richly patterned as a mille 
fleurs tapestry. All else is a pearly mist of gray-blue ether. In the 
middle distance is Sir John, who died in 1594, and his wife, Lucy 
Hungerford, both kneeling on a marble sarcophagus. Sir John is in 
black and gold damascened armor, his wife resplendent in the ele- 
gance of black velvet, a design of lilies heavily embossed. Her wide 
ripple-pleated white gauze ruff is edged in gilt lace, and her flaxen 
pompadour is elevated a foot at least by a jeweled diadem headdress. 
A deliberate touch of winning innocence is reflected by six young 
girls in black farthingales and white spiky-lace ruffs and cuffs, grouped 
in a row, faces front. Each miss flutters her slim white hands in a 
different attitude against a flat black velvet stomacher cut to ape a 
heart. All faces are pale, all have gentian-blue eyes. Each maiden 
has flaxen frizzes dressed high. The lips are palest rose; I presume no 
rouge was allowed. One foot of each figure is thrust forward. Resting 
against the black velvet shoe in every case is a crimson and gold 
crested shield. 

At the left of the portrait stands Sir John's son, who succeeded his 
father, and Ann Leighten, his ornately coiffed and farthingaled, but 
woefully plain-faced wife. He, however, is vastly handsome, wearing 
upper body armor, in black and gold damascene, and extravagantly 
padded out black velvet trunks. Gold garters encircle his black silk 
hose. The artist of this painting is unknown. It is a pity his name 
has no reclame, for this is a tour de force in design of placing ten full- 
life-size figures in the space of eight by ten feet with no sense of 
clutter, in addition to its subtle transitions of blacks, the varying 
textures of whites to point up the pale, aristocratic faces, and the 
introduction, with such entertaining effect, of all the fashionable ac- 
cessories of the time. 

The road from Lydiard Tregoze climbs a long hill to gain the 
first sight of Dorset. Small fields, patterned spaces of greenery, typify 
much of this county, so gentle with its hidden farms, massed trees of 
heavy foliage. Then suddenly it changes, breaks out into a wild sea- 
coast. Dorset storms are much feared by mariners because of the 
terrific undertow along this deceptive shore. 

Gillingham, Stalbridge, and Shaftesbury all are built to a pattern: 
old houses, tired with the years of crowding together, and wearily 
run out of gossip. All saw Harry Tudor pass by on his hunting ex- 

68 



peditions. He liked to hunt in Dorset and to stay in Corfe Castle 
with its raking view of the frothy coast and the ships passing out to 
sea. Forde Abbey is where Harry used to stay and hunt in the sur- 
rounding forests. At that carefree time he little thought that the day 
would come when he would dismantle the buildings in his high 
wrath. There are still red deer in the forest glades at Forde Abbey 
but all are kept enclosed by wire. 

Dark, hidden cults stalk the Dorset Heights around Cerne Abbas, 
Yetminster, and Evershot. In these parts tradition is long a-dying. It 
is still a custom to place a platter of salt and a crust of barley bread 
on the chest of a corpse to ward off evil spirits. A "sin-eater" is some- 
times brought in if the family of the deceased can afford such luxury. 
Usually it is an impoverished man off the roads. A "handful of silver" 
is placed in the palm of his right hand by a male next of kin to the 
deceased. But the coins must be scooped from a bag and never be 
counted. The poor man must then eat the bread and salt that have 
been placed upon the corpse, thereby signifying to all assembled his 
willingness to assume all the sins of the dead man* The "sin-eater" 
is forever after shunned by what is loosely termed "decent" society. 

In Dorset they say, "Our coast's not wild as you think; the waves 
just preen themselves against the rocks like sea birds do." 

The seaports of Lyme Regis, Charmouth, Abbotsbury, and Wey- 
mouth are close enough to the Devon coast to take character from it. 
All these ports are ancient. Each has had its fair share of highly 
dramatic events, "has challenged the march of history," when kings 
have risen to power and fallen low by the change of dynasties. 

I like to walk along the Promenade at Weymouth at sunset, when 
shadows turn black, and the light on turrets and towers is golden 
and points up the tall, flat fronts of the old cordage warehouses and 
the arched facade of Tailors' Guild. Henry V once had a jokester 
paint above the door of this place in purple letters a yard high the 
legend, "Harry's Choyce, Goode Habbiter," because the Guild had 
outfitted him in elegance when he had been doused by salty waves 
when walking on the seafront. This could easily have been the first 
example of royal patronage as manifest in the sign "By Royal Ap- 
pointment" seen today on shop fronts along such streets as Bond and 
Jermyn in London. 

There is a lovely classic house called Critchel, built by Wyatt for 
Lord Allington, close to a village bearing the same name. In its lofty, 
pale-colored rooms are exquisite Adam ceilings. Adam, who was 

69 



fascinated by the designs created when painted fans are opened and 
closed, employed the idea of using quarter-, half-, and full-open fans 
delicately painted in trailing berry vines, birds on the wing, and 
flowers on ceilings in many of his famous houses, but I think never 
with such success as at CritcheL Too, he designed four monumental 
gold mirrors which are placed in the drawing room between five tall 
windows, curtained in claret and ivory Genoese cut velvet. All the 
furniture at Critchel is delicate in scale and includes the best ex- 
amples of Adam, Heppelwhite, Sheraton, and Chippendale in his 
Louis XVI mood. 

I can think of no greater pleasure when roaming the English 
countryside than coming into Blandford on a sunny afternoon. Much 
of its charm comes from its informal grouping of buildings and 
casual vistas between architecture of meadows and countryside, much 
the same as Georgian Dublin. The Italian Doric as motif is wisely 
used to give scale. The church is an elegantly proportioned Palladian 
structure with a balustraded roof topped by a graceful cupola tower. 
Town Hall is treated in large scale "profondo," the Portland stone 
facade admirably handled in touches of great individuality such as 
carved friezes over windows and massively conceived urns as finials 
to the roof. 

The prosperity that Blandford has long enjoyed comes from the 
making of finest bone lace, its market, its fairs, and the race meetings 
run over a carefully tended grass course. The Crown Hotel is more 
like the grand town house of a nabob than a hostelry, and the food, 
well prepared, is fresh from Dorset markets. 

As an example of stark drama, Dorset offers Corfe Castle. To gain 
the full effect, approach on foot through the old town and mount the 
winding path ascending turf-covered rocks, like giant footstools. On 
the topmost rock the castle stands affronting the sea* 

The beauty of castles, wherever seen, is in the massing of their 
masonry against the sky. Corfe Castle stands on an isolated hill which 
stretches across the center of the Isle of Purbeck. Two streams of 
water almost entirely surround the foot of the hill, forming a natural 
moat. The outer bailey walls, covering greater acreage than any castle 
I know, climb the undulant rise of the rock in serpentine curves. 
This mighty, roaming wall places the castle within defensive masonry 
twelve feet thick. It was built in the thirteenth century. Until 1646, 
when part of the inner bailey and immense keep were blown up with 
gunpowder, the walls of Corfe had never been breached. 

70 



The great hall of Corfe was so huge that it was possible to build 
a ship forty feet long inside it. This was done to keep the construc- 
tion of the vessel a temporary secret from Henry V, who knew of 
every ship upon the ways. It was built by the governor of the castle 
for presentation to Henry as an addition to his fleet then advancing 
against France to wage the war which later terminated in Agincourt. 
Finally completed, the ship, under the cover of night, was pushed 
through a hole cut into the seaward wall, and rolled on logs down . 
to the Channel. Henry christened the ship "Hope of Corfe," and 
later rewarded the governor by making him a baron. 




At the old shipbuilding port of Poole, I crossed over into Hamp- 
shire. The weather was lowering and threatened rain. Water in the 
almost completely landlocked Hamworth Poole was agitated by a 
gusty wind. I drove into Bournemouth, just over the Hampshire 
line. This world-renowned seaside resort, so favored by generations 
of Londoners for that "little holiday with the one and only," still 
bears recognizable traces of its gilt and gaslight Victorian past. Lilac 
and pink paint was peeling from hotel and villa walls. The ornate 



hotels, heavily trimmed with iron foundry scrolls, bore a dejected 
air that owed nothing to the shocking weather. No the whole tone 
of Bournemouth has changed with the quality of its visitors. I lunched 
at the Royal Exeter in the vast plush-hung diningroom, once the 
last word for a spree of elegant dining. 

Whenever I think of Hampshire I think of forests big ones, small 
ones, some dense as Sherborne Forest, or immensely sprawling, a 
leafy land of sudden dark defiles or grassy clearings, such as the most 
ancient and royal New Forest, spread out to the north of Southamp- 
ton. It was William the Conqueror who decreed the forest. When 
his sons were killed within its bounds (William Rufus murdered 
with an arrow; Richard gored by the horns of a wounded stag), men 
called it heaven's judgment. For decreed forest laws spelled oppres- 
sion and impoverishment, which in this and other forms the people 
fiercely resisted. Soon after the untimely deaths of his sons the king 
became alarmed at this sullen unrest and granted concessions to all 
at the Assizes of Bread and Ale which protected the staples of their 
life. 

In the long rides of the New Forest lies a world of entertainment. 
Villages of black and white timber, with heavily thatched roofs 
sweeping nearly to the ground like candle snuffers, stand in little 
clearings miles away from the nearest big house, which may be a 
fine Georgian residence such as Sopley, or the ancient Palace House 
and Abbey of Beaulieu. This beautiful old abbey and its attendant 
buildings, founded by King John in 1204, lie near the famed Rufus 
Stone where the Conqueror's son, William Rufus, was murdered. 

History eddies about the battlements and gables of palace and 
abbey. Visitors are taken through part of Beaulieu Forest called 
the Deer Park, still roamed at will by wild red deer, down a path 
to an inlet of Beaulieu River called Bucktershard, where Nelson's 
men-of-war were built on high-set ways constructed from the same 
sort of giant oak trunks that were cut into planks to build his ships. 
A special museum at Beaulieu is devoted to memorabilia of Horatio, 
Lord Nelson. One of the greatest attractions at the palace and abbey 
close during May and June is the wealth and variety of spring flowers 
in the New Forest and the swaths of flowering moss, sold for trans- 
plant to rock gardens. 

New Forest has its pony colony, a breed with coat more shaggy 
and mousy gray than seen on Dartmoor. I drove from Sutton 
Scotney to Romsey one night when a light ground mist nearly 

7* 



obscured the narrow road winding through heavily foliaged forest 
rides. Suddenly a New Forest pony stallion sprang out of a covert 
straight into my path, taking a defiant stance in the middle of the 
road. He stamped and snorted in male anger at my violation of his 
forest rights. A herd of fifteen or more mares and foals gathered at 
the roadside. One tiny foal, no more than a few days old, trotted 
all around the car, licked the cool metal, then came to the open 
window and delicately nuzzled my hand. One must drive warily day 
or night through the New Forest, for the herds of ponies are large 
and erratic. 

Romsey is a central place to stay if you wish to explore the New 
Forest. The food is exceptionally good and when in season game 
pies are a specialty. 

From Kingsclere Hill I caught a glimpse of Stratfield Saye House, 
presented by the nation to the Duke of Wellington. Architect James 
Wyatt, writing to his son Benjamin after viewing Stratfield Saye, 
said, "I saw not a good house, indifferent and cramped. To roof so 
great a man it must be a palace to smite the eye like a Sunset." 
Wellington, instead of overhousing himself extravagantly, for the 
time being resided in the comfortable old house just as Lord Rivers 
had left it, dreaming away the days beside its sedgy river, shaded 
by immemorial trees. Later Wellington added wings to flank the 
entrance, copying the seventeenth-century Carolinian gables. 

From one point there is a lovely view of the long, faintly rose-ivory 
house, reflected in quiet water. Lebanon cedars, of great girth and 
sweep, limes, elms, yew in profusion, stone pines, groves of larch, 
twenty varieties of nut-bearing trees, tulip trees (liriodendrons), dress 
the park in splendor of variegated foliage. But in the park at Strat- 
field Saye historical pride of place is taken by Sequoia gigantea or 
Wellingtonia. The tree was brought from California in 1853. The 
parent tree soars to improbable height, an awesome sight indeed, 
to be surrounded by seven offspring in themselves taller than trees 
of any other species in the park. 

Portchester Castle rising above the Solent lives and breathes its 
memories of the great days when it was known as the Castle of the 
Kings and stirring events resounded against and from within its 
walls. These events become illuminated in one's mind until it is no 
task to evoke the past. Plantagenet kings loved Portchester, but one, 
whose queen, Isabel of France, embroidered with venom and treach- 
ery its bright days, lost it in defeat. 

73 



Henry V mustered his troops at the castle in 1415 before setting 
sail for Agincourt. Then crimson, blue, gold, silver, and white ban- 
ners were flown from every battlement and window, until a scribe 
recorded it as "all Cherubims and Seraphims bedite, gathered in a 
rainbow to speed our Harry on to France." For a century Portchester 
Castle faded out of history. Then one day King Henry VIII rode 
into the great outer bailey. He liked it and saw possibilities for 
dalliance. The castle had by this time ceased to be of military im- 
portance. The rooms, enlarged and greatly enriched by Queen Isabel, 
had been lately furnished in Tudor splendor appropriate to a fine 
country residence. Henry thought this spacious greensward would 
afford fine space for archery butts, but he walked on. In his thoughts 
was a deeper wonder Anne Boleyn. 

Henry first brought Anne to Portchester in October, 1553. They 
were "most merry and did daunce." They hawked daily and at the 
last, the sun being hot but breeze too cool, they "took the sun to 
heart from within a window bowered." 

In the history of Britain, Winchester looms important, more so 
than most cities in the realm. Out of the ages Winchester has distilled 
a golden peace, a contemplative calm. She wears her beauty, her piety, 
and her learning like a cloak of quiet, bordered and slashed with 
the rich colors of history and tradition. Once the streets of Win- 
chester were turbulent with the clamor of the market place and all 
the busy life of a capital city as well, for to Saxon, Dane, and Norman, 
Winchester was the seat of government, chief city of them all, the 
place of coronation for their kings. Today beneath these deep-trodden 
stones the kings and princes sleep. The light breeze stirs the banners 
hung in the Cathedral of William of Wykeham and Alfred the Great. 
The coat of arms of the city displays the five battlemented gateways 
of Winchester, the center one supported by royal golden lions. 

The College of Winchester, founded in 1 395 by Bishop Wykeham, 
is the oldest Public School in England. The cathedral is a splendid 
edifice. St. Swithin, in the eleventh century, enlarged it from an 
ancient abbey church. A note of Restoration England strikes brightly 
the Bishop's Palace; designed in rose brick and white marble by 
Sir Christopher Wren, it is built close to the hoary ruined walls of 
Wolsey's Castle. 

Winchester is a city where there is much to see, not only of un- 
common historical interest, but in the beauty and mellow stonework 
of so many centuries happily in mass and detail well preserved. The 

74 



houses are lived in, one feels, with infinite pleasure. The whole town 
is quietly but vitally alive, a cathedral and college town in essence. 

The Castle Hall, built in 1235, a somber building with high, richly 
carved ceilings, is where the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh took place. 
It is close to Kingsgate, with St. Swithin's church inclosing a small 
house in a walled yard where the saint lived in the ninth century. 

Ancient merchants' houses cluster around the Old City Mill, 
now a National Trust house. The Royal Hotel offers accommoda- 
tions and hospitality in the great tradition that has for centuries dis- 
tinguished Winchester. The Southgate Hotel and Norman Mead, 
an old timbered building, are well liked. All dairy foods from sur- 
rounding farms are of the best. And St. Swithin's lamb stew, rich 
with vegetables and pungent with herbs, is a specialty of most 
Winchester restaurants. 

The Isle of Wight is the first major crest of templed hills and 
sandy beaches, towered over by rocky cliffs, which is seen by the 
traveler from America. The island lies, diamond in shape, off the 
Hampshire coast where the Solent and Southampton Spit meet. On 
the Isle of Wight one has the sea within a few miles on every hand; 
sandy beaches are hidden in quiet coves. Flowers, wild and culti- 
vated, are the unofficial emblem of the island. Vectis, the Romans 
called it, which some hold to be '"Island of Flowers." English visitors 
from the mainland are known as "overers" but soon become "Wight- 
ers" and everybody is happy. 

Sandown Bay is to me the loveliest spot on Wight. From here on 
the high, tree-covered headland one has a view of the whole island 
and the reaches of the Solent. The island holds a mysterious secret 
namely, how is it possible for its tide to assume a Mediterranean blue, 
with deep purple shadows in the coves, when the rest of the Channel, 
only a mile out, is leaden gray? 

The harbor at St. Helen's is a great haunt for yachtsmen and 
fishermen. The old stone warehouses, called "wharfeges," are built 
of stones embodying fifteen or so different colors. It is the black, iron 
cleats in the shape of a huge letter S, studded thickly to support these 
walls against wind, that distinguish the buildings from any others 
I know. 

For over a century, Cowes, the headquarters for the Royal Yacht 
Squadron, has been renowned for sail-yacht racing. Cowes Week is 
an important social occasion as well as a great sporting event. During 
Cowes Week the royal yacht is often anchored in the roadstead. The 

75 



Windsor kings of England have always been keen sailors, as fond of 
yachting as "that sailor in full bottomed wig, Charles Stuart," as he 
was once described by a woefully seasick crony. 

At East and West Cowes Henry VIII built artillery "castles/' in 
reality small forts to defend his south coast, taking the pattern from 
the ones he built for ' 'experimental" purposes on the Hampshire 
coast at Calshot, Yarmouth, Netley, Southsea, and Hurst. The design 
is low and squat, taken from Edward I's Castle Beaumaris on the 
Island of Angelsey in Wales, though only a quarter the size. When 
Philip of Spain lived in England as husband of Mary Tudor he 
inspected all these forts. When asked why he was so suddenly in- 
terested, he said, "I wished to see what the Toads I had heard of, 
that would repel any naval invasion, looked like. They are only 
little forts." Later it was well proved that the "Toads," crouched 
greenish-gray and ugly as exposed crypts, describing none of that 
sense of majesty so apparent in the medieval castle fortresses, were 
still pretty useful, as a "pug" or bullet-head tough can be useful in 
a brawl. 

The ancient Keep or Castle of Carrisbrooke is, in its strength, a 
sight of tremendous beauty. It bears a history of torture as a result 
of long use as a prison. The dungeons were so dreaded that many 
political prisoners who, in their views or plottings, had run afoul of 
Plantagenet or Tudor sovereigns, often became turncoats on the 
rack and swore to anything that might conceivably save them from 
this place. In appearance Carrisbrooke Castle is unusually compelling. 
Built in 1140, it is one of the few mo^e-and-bailey types today in a 
nearly perfect state of preservation, A shell-keep, circular in shape, 
the walls of massive thickness, is raised upon an artificial mo tie or 
mound. A romantic pile, the castle owes its striking arrogance to its 
position. 

At the termination of a long, narrow bay, the town of Newport 
stands on a high escarpment. Behind the town, reached by long- 
flights of rock-hewn steps, the castle tops the rise. What chiefly at- 
tracts me at Carrisbrooke are the immense cedars that line the gorge 
at the foot of the rock, to march boldly up the crag on either side. 
On what sustenance these cedars thrive, and how they attain such 
size, is a mystery. From half a mile away the castle seems to rise from 
a feathery forest, some "faerie feld of blackest hue," like the troll 
castles in old German fairy tales. 



Chapters 



BERKSHIRE, THE VALE OF THE 

WHITE HORSE, SURREY, AND 

THE SUSSEX DOWNS 



THE road winds leisurely across the Lambourn Downs of Berk- 
shire to top a rise. The thick turf of a Berkshire upland 
meadow is cut away to expose a white chalk deposit in the 
form of a horse that can be seen for miles. There is a village close by 
called Abingdon, with a legend about a lady of high degree who bore 
twenty children in the neat space of twenty years. A lady of great 
purpose in all she set out to do was Mistress Alice Islely. Between 
childbearing and managing a large manor farm, she founded on her 
own premises a shop where the craft of the wheelwright was taught 
apprentices by the most able builder of wains in England. 

Three of her sons, it is said, insisted on learning this craft because 
of the fascination of roaring forges and bending red hot iron. This 
all happened around the year 1680, and established "The Craft of 
the Wheelwright" as peculiar to Berkshire. 

I had not been long on the road when I passed the first farm wain. 
The earliest wagons used by the nobles for baggage trains were 
clumsy structures perched on solid wheels, noisy, cumbersome, and 
of very unreliable behavior on the deeply rutted, mud-bogged tracks 
that, in earliest days, crosshatched the terrain of England and bore 
the courtesy title of roads. But by 1789, when the Prince of Wales 
ordered ten of these wagons to be used to transport, in the style 
he was famous for, the wains had become the really beautiful wagons 
one sees today. Built high with the "chariot body" chamfered in 
cut-out work and painted usually in one brilliant hue, to be trimmed 
in stripes and borderings in four or five graded shades of the same 

77 



color, the shape of the body differs according to the wheelwright's 
own ideas. I watched one of these wagons as it approached between 
high bushes the intense green of elderberry, the flat white blos- 
soms intermixed with clusters of purpling berries bordering the 
road. A pair of chestnut horses drew the wain piled high with crates 
of scarlet tomatoes. I noted the flaxen tail and mane peculiar to the 
breed Suffolk Punch. In charcoal-blackened harness agleam with 
brass, the team passed me slowly. 

A few Berkshire villages still produce the farm wain in some 
degree. It is the more simply constructed body, the line not so 
baroque in curves, that generally is in demand for farm use nowadays, 
but the making of the iron-bound wheels is still a stirring sight to 
watch and recalls the old splendor of handicraftsmanship. Stop at a 
forge in Thatcham, Sonning or West Shefford, Streatley or Theale, 
and watch a man forming the outside rim of a wheel. The forges 
"blow blue hell/* in the vernacular. An iron tire is heated, causing 
it to expand for fitting on the wheel rim. Then the red-hot iron 
"ring" is fixed in place. It is doused with water to cool quickly so 
that no damage is done to the wood rim. 

Buscot Park, near Faringdon, glowing in Georgian brick of a 
curiously violet-rose shade, stands among renowned gardens of iris, 
delphinium, and myriad roses. It was at Buscot that the charming 
art of parfilage reached high estate during the Georgian period. So 
quickly copied, it was to become "a plague, an insult and an injury" 
to husbands with gold-laced waistcoats. Parfilage or "drizzling," as it 
was called in England, was brought from France by Madame la 
Vicomtesse de Robillet-La Tour during a visit to Buscot Park. Par- 
filage consisted of picking out, or unraveling, with a sharpened ivory 
tool like a pencil, the gold and silver threads from outworn uniforms, 
epaulets, tassels, braid, galloon, or waistcoats, for the purpose of 
reselling this frizzled gold to a goldsmith, who melted it down and 
recovered the precious metal. An adept was called a parfileuse. The 
Vicomtesse said, "In France it is a pastime to disconcert ennui, and 
at the same time provide a little income unawares." 

The Ascot Race Course is nearly as well known as Windsor Castle. 
The day that the Ascot Gold Cup is run the Royal Enclosure pre- 
sents, subject to how the weather fares, a vivid picture where persons 
fortunate to have received an invitation reach the heights of sartorial 
elegance. Ascot Course, in sight of Windsor Castle, is beautifully 
situated and racing takes on the accredited air of the Sport of Kings. 



The royal residence o Windsor Castle, its massive Round Tower 
(1075) rising with such majesty from the sedgy water meadows of 
the Thames, was built by William I soon after the Conquest, at the 
time of Domesday. A circular shell-keep, built originally on a grass 
motte of local heath-stone this being akin to granite in durability- 
has proved the saying of local quarriers, "Hard, dry, and forever." 
Within a century after the tower was built, additions began to mani- 
fest that Windsor was to become a vast fortress-place, as well as a 
residence. Henry II built extensively, then Henry III, and so on 
down the sovereign line. As late as 1826 work of extending and re- 
modeling the now tremendous fabric in various kinds of stone pro- 
ceeded until the tower was raised by thirty feet to its present height 
of sixty-four feet. Despite repairs necessary through the centuries 
from time to time, the great Round Tower of Windsor Castle, after 
affronting the elements for one thousand years, is still one of the most 
perfect examples of shell-keep in existence. 

The collection of armor, from earliest known chain mail to a 
richly damascened suit worn by Charles II, is second in importance 
and splendor only to that on show at Warwick Castle. To many 
persons one of the greatest points of interest is the Curfew Tower 
clock, the movements of which were made by John Davis in 1689. 

The noble tower stands at the extreme northwest corner of the 
castle, looks up the Thames towards Bray and Clewer, and down 
upon the storied turrets of Eton. Curfew Tower was built by King 
Henry III in 1227, as defense to the north side of the castle approach. 
Viewing the clock, I noted that the huge wheels are of brass and all 
the wood employed is yew, from which longbows were made. 

Eton is so close to its Buckinghamshire border (more generally 
called Bucks), that many persons believe it is in adjoining Berkshire. 
The commons at Eton School remind me of a cathedral nave, the 
paneling noteworthy and black as ebony with the smoke from candles 
that now are white but in the time of Elizabeth Tudor were dyed 
blue. Eton blue was her favorite color. The collection of silver plate, 
gifts of princes and reigning sovereigns, is a stirring sight when on 
full display. 

"Over the river to Staines" is the name of an old English country 
dance, in which the girls leap across a brook into the arms of young 
stalwarts awaiting them on the other side. Staines is in the county of 
Middlesex, separate from far-reaching London and its tenacle-grasp- 
ing boroughs. It lies in farm districts and has many attractions, for 

79 



form of appliques of gold in high relief bring out the rich depths 
of the blue to complement the ceiling; arched doors are painted the 
delicate pink of the sky at sunrise. 

The dining room is much admired, not merely for its illusive 
primrose yellow, leaf-green, and gold decorations, but also for its 
table arrangement. A cloth of finest Flemish damask, inset with lace, 
is laid with a white and gold Sevres china dinner service. Gold 
figures of bacchante candelabra flank a gold epergne. To me the 
keynote of color in the dining room is the superb armchairs of 
delicate gilded wood in Adam's interpretation of Louis Quinze 
bergfere. These are drawn up to the table in readiness for the great 
red and gold doors to be flung wide and dinner announced. I think 
of how warm and inviting will be the glow of candlelight on the 
carnation pink damask with which the chairs are covered. 

The drawing room is impressive in scale. A coved ceiling is 
painted in arabesques of lilac, emerald green, and silver gilt. The 
walls are unique for being hung with Spitalfield silk damask, said 
to be the first produced at the factory. The crimson background is 
traced by silver ribbons knotted with deep red roses. 

As I walked away from the shadow of the Percy lion, I thought of 
another shadow that had fallen here. Henry VIII died in January, 
1547. An iron-hard frost covered the land. His body rested at Syon, 
the magnificent funeral procession, four miles in length, having 
wound through the bleak countryside, coming from Westminster on 
its doleful way to Windsor. But a weird thing occurred. A curse had 
been laid on Henry that his body would be eaten by dogs, which in 
effect was fulfilled at Syon. When his putrefying corpse rested in the 
old college offertory during its last journey, it was set upon during the 
night by a pack of starving, half-frozen curs. Before nuns could fetch 
help the dogs had dragged the velvet pall from the King's corpse and 
torn his flesh to the bone. 

South of Middlesex is Surrey, where roads wind through pleasant 
villages Godstone, Caterham, Cobham, and Dorking. Kingston- 
upon-Thames is a particularly agreeable town. The Mitre Hotel, 
overlooking the river and reached directly by launch from London, 
is famed for its classic English "Sunday dinner," a midday meal of 
roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and deep-dish fruit tarts. 

Guildford has been called the Royal Progress Town. In the days 
when Queen Elizabeth I used to make her "jauntings" into the 
country, it was her custom to send the lord of a manor whom she 

$2 



wished to visit a pair of embroidered gloves. For many noblemen 
this royal favor meant financial ruin. It was not unusual for a host 
to become bankrupt in his efforts to provide proper housing, ban- 
quets, and elaborate entertainments for the Queen and her large 
retinue, without which Elizabeth rarely moved. Spencer, who wrote 
a eulogy as prologue to a masque enacted before the Queen at Great 
Fosters, indicates her large number of retainers with his opening 
line: "Hail Gloriana, most accompanied Queen." 

Albury House, set amidst romantic gardens laid out by John 
Evelyn, stands close to Guildford. It was the home of Her Grace, 
Helen, Duchess of Northumberland, who for many years entertained 
at Syon House on a scale worthy of its splendor. Tea is served to 
visitors in the Tapestry Room at Albury. The extensive oak paneling 
in this rambling Tudor house is remarked for its rich patina, the 
result of centuries of rubbing with perfumed wax, glowing in the 
light of log fires and candle flame like molten bronze. 

Near Guildford is Clandon Park, the stunning gesture in Palladi- 
ana by Giaconio Leoni. Clandon rises from banked trees and densely 
planted flowering shrubbery like a rocket of white fire. Nearby is 
another great house, Hatchlands, with notable Adam interiors. The 
lightly tinted rooms are graced with some of Adam's most lyrical 
"parasol/ 1 open-fan, and honeysuckle motif ceilings. 

Polesden Lacey, near Dorking, is approached up a gradual hill. 
This house was originally a Regency villa. In the Edwardian era it 
was "done up," as termed then, by the late Honorable Mrs. Ronald 
Greville in flowered chintzes of overscaled roses, hydrangea, and 
amaryllis-lily patterns, which set a vogue for "flowered chintz*' cur- 
tains and covering for furniture. Mrs. Greville is remembered as 
perhaps the greatest of Edwardian hostesses. She entertained here 
in such friendly yet grand manner that a phrase was coined to de- 
scribe a comparable party as "very Polesden Lacey." The gardens are 
famous for clipped yew walks, immense silver and copper beeches, 
and, in season, a great show of the pink and blue hydrangea, favorite 
flower of Mrs. Greville. 

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew "rejoyce the visitor," the 
brochure says, with sixty-five thousand different varieties of plants, 
flowering trees, and a spacious "rare and diverse" herbarium. The 
old red brick Palace of Kew is often called the Royal Nursery of 
the Georges, for the quietly happy part it played as retreat for the 
growing children of the Hanoverian kings. A long, unpretentious, 



rather sober-faced structure, it was built in 1631 in the Dutch style 
favored by the House of Orange. The rooms on the second floor are 
museums for souvenirs of flighty Queen Caroline of Brunswick, and 
of George II and George III. These mementos are padded leather 
sedan chairs for conveyance through corridors and numerous painted 
screens that were set up by flunkies around an occupied armchair in 
the withdrawing room to ward off drafts. 

The mulberry trees in Surrey were in full fruit as I drove through* 
The breeze fluttering the leaves near Farnham was redolent of the 
berries. It brought to mind that an enormous number of mulberry 
trees had been planted in Surrey, Sussex, and Kent by Charles I, 
Queen Henrietta Maria being anxious to introduce silk-weaving 
into England on a large scale. But when the trees were planted, 
Stuart fortunes changed and the idea died a-borning, 

Sussex roads are wide and many are of Roman military construc- 
tion. The rolling fields in this county adjoining Surrey are full of 
sky-reflecting dew-ponds the "bright eyes of Sussex" and forceful, 
hard-working stone windmills. Halnaker Mill, called hereabouts 
Ha'naker Mill, is famed. Not only highwayman tales, but song and 
story are often concerned with Ha'naker Mill, two sweeps of which 
are missing. High on a spur of the downs near Clayton a pair of 
landmarks, mills called Jack and Jill, fan the air with mighty sweeps. 
Jack is of timber cross-boarding, Jill of stuccoed stone. 

Under a "s welling* ' of the Downs reposes the Church of St. John 
the Baptist. The exceptionally lofty nave and chancel are of Saxon 
building and carved stone workmanship. Of interest is the brilliant 
color in a mural frieze attributed to the year 1160. There is a Greek 
or Byzantine dignity about the tall diademed and bejeweled figures, 
a procession of kings, queens, and bishops. One of the kings wears 
a tall Byzantine crown a queen is in a headdress which appears to 
be composed of eagle wing feathers. In crimson, green, and gold 
copes and ceremonial robes, the figures are proceeding towards 
Christ's Heavenly Mansions. The frieze is alive with incident. Satan, 
in a cloak of sulphurous clouds, astride a flaming hell-horse, tramples 
lost souls. 

The valley of the Little Rother is a spread of country with a very 
personal magic. The Rother enters Sussex a few miles from Peters- 
field, a town that knew great prosperity in the Middle Ages when 
this area was called the * 'black country " because of the iron-working 
furnaces. The river flows gently where alders and fruit trees fringe 

84 



its bank. Lovely names these villages have, names that roll like 
English songs, or the trumpet blast announcing heraldic splendor 
Chithurst, Stedham, Iping, Rogate, Slindon, Arundel, and Wool- 
beding. 

Cowdray "that noble name" derived from the old Norman French 
coudraie, meaning a hazel-hedge or spinny refers to a Tudor house 
now fallen into picturesque ruin. Through an iron gate at the north 
end of the High Street at Midhurst and across an old arched bridge 
over a causeway, access may be obtained to this noble house, built 
in the reign of Henry VIII by his great friend, the Earl of South- 
ampton. 

Seven viscounts held Cowdray and then an age-old curse fell upon 
it. When the family had been given Battle Abbey at the Dissolution 
one monk had hid in the crypt. Discovered "and hastily whipped 
away from that house,' 1 he cursed the family of Browne who had 
despoiled Battle Abbey, raving that Brownes should die by fire and 
water. In 1793 Cowdray House burned; only the present riven but 
beautiful ruin stands high above the "plashing mead of Rother." 
One week after the fire the viscount, making the Grand Tour, was 
drowned in an attempt to shoot the Falls of the Rhine. The curse 
of the whipped monk was in part fulfilled. 

Eastward across the great courtyard stands a building, the Buck- 
Hall, so designated from carved wooden figures of stags, only a few 
of which remain, as finials on the eaves. The park at Cowdray is 
noted for its superb chestnuts and limes. From the terraces one 
obtains a sweeping view of the silver river and the Midhurst Downs. 

Thatched cottages, hung with creepers and clematis, fringe the 
village duck pond at Singleton. The Duck Inn is a pleasant place to 
lunch. The famous Goodwood country comprises thousands of acres 
of down and farmlands. Halnaker Farm on the outskirts of the 
estate is a perfect representative of the Sussex stone farmhouse of 
spacious proportions, the rooms frequently paneled in lime wood. 
At many of these farms, lunch and tea are served those visiting Cow- 
dray Hall and Goodwood House. 

At Slindon there stands ancient Slindon House on the site of a 
medieval palace of the Archbishops of Canterbury. In a far earlier 
building, half ruined now, dwelt Archbishop Stephen Langton, who 
played the leading part in forcing King John to seal Magna Carta. 
Langton died here in 1228. The stone mullions and vaulted great 
hall are "spangled in heraldic carvings. 

85 



Eartham looks as if it might be the oldest village in Britain, though 
I am told it is not as ancient as Slindon. The houses are built from 
flint and irregular hand-molded brick of a dark plum color seldom 
seen in building material. 

Few counties owe so much to the survival of the hereditary country 
estates as does West Sussex, whose land fortunately remains undis- 
turbed. It affords mile upon mile of rewarding travel through lovely 
countryside with long vistas of private parkland. Too, these houses 
may be visited and admired Goodwood, Petworth, Arundel Castle, 
and Parham Park with its vast and notable collection of Elizabethan, 
Jacobean, and Georgian portraits. Bodiam Castle, imperious yet 
serene in air, stands poised above its wide, deep moat. Another 
moated castle is rose-pink Herstmonceux, one of the earliest brick 
buildings in England, completed in 1540 after ten tempestuous years. 
It was used for glorious ceremonial fanfaronades and tourneys before 
the War of the Roses. 

Goodwood House is near Chichester, built by Wyatt, as an ex- 
ample of the use of Sussex flintwork in fine houses. The walls are 
washed white. The Dukes of Richmond and Gordon have long been 
collectors of French furniture representative of the Louis XV period. 
Room after room at Goodwood is arranged in this elegant French 
taste, the effect heightened by a notable collection of French and 
English pictures. 

All the world has heard of "Glorious Goodwood" Race Course, 
Racing in summer is as fashionable here as at Ascot or Sandown 
Park. The flower beds at the racecourse gain in splendor, backed by 
the "blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed Downs" extolled by Kipling. 

Oaks grow everywhere and the lumber is used in every possible 
form. Oak ships the "Wooden Walls of England" that sailed from 
Sussex ports to meet the Spanish Armada were built from this wood. 
Oak and pink clay intermingle. The bricks, rose-red and purple-rose, 
are all fashioned from this clay. The gnarled and ancient timbers 
between the brick are limbs of the oaks. The roofs are golden thatch 
or formed from slabs of mellow ivory-gray Horsham stone. 

This same Horsham stone prevails in houses and the great square- 
towered Norman church at Burpham, where King Athelstane estab- 
lished a camp to guard the river Arun. Built of red brick and 
Horsham stone "shored" with black oak beams is the eight-hundred- 
year-old George and Dragon Inn at Houghton, where harassed 

86 



Charles II stopped for a tankard of ale during his flight to Shoreham 
after the disastrous Battle of Worcester. 

At Petworth, the seat of Lord Leconfield, the effect of the Grinling 
Gibbons room, called the "carved room," so "overcame" redoubtable 
Horace Walpole that he declared, "The glories of Petworth defy me 
of expression. On the style of the Tuileries and furnished exactly 
like Hampton Court." Designed by architect Salvin, Petworth fol- 
lows his most restrained mood of stark simplicity. A cool, dignified 
facade is an illusive mauve-gray; the sharp white of Portland stone 
is used as trim. The spacing of long lines of tall, square-pane windows 
is admirable. The interior is a series of high-ceilinged rooms ar- 
ranged a la file to accommodate the great length of the narrow plan. 
The history of the house is elaborate, with the Duke of Somerset's 
passion for self-aggrandizement molding the pattern. 

The color of the carved room is of every imaginable shade of 
gold. The moldings surround such immense paintings as a full- 
length copy of Holbein's Henry VIII in crimson and gold, Charles I 
by Van Dyck, ten or twelve smaller portraits of the Duke and 
Duchess of Somerset by Riley and Closterman; and a galaxy of re- 
splendent Percys, Somersets, and Seymours. A deep carved cornice 
and swags of flowers and fruit as wall pendants are a triumph of 
technique, with their exquisite delicacy of minute detaila rosebud 
jeweled with dew, birds, trophies, both martial and musical, are 
lovely and fluid beyond rival. 

In a room luminous with white and gold hang four large paintings 
by Van Dyck: the Countess of Bedford; the Countess of Carlisle, a 
great beauty of Charles I's court; her sister, the tragic, raven-haired 
Countess of Leicester; and the Countess of Sunderland. What makes 
these portraits memorable in this gleaming setting is as much the 
rich exclamatory blacks of velvet and satin in the gowns, the ivory 
white of standing collars and wide cuffs in Mechlin and point de 
Flandre lace, as the lovely flesh tones of the court ladies. 

In the Marble Hall are two engaging portraits of persons widely 
different: Cardinal Medici as a youth by Titian, and wide-eyed Peg 
Woffington by Hogarth. 

A painting by Holbein, an extremely famous picture, hangs in 
solitary beauty in the Duke of Somerset's Room: Edward VI at the 
age of ten, a most winning child, albeit wan and of little cheer. 

In the great vaulted cellars at Petworth, long corridors lined with 
wine bins and huge emblazoned barrels attract many visitors. But 



perhaps the most unique apartment is a ballroom off the servants' 
dining hall for the express use of the staff, once numbering sixty. 

Pevensey Castle, only one mile from the sea at Hastings, has long 
been a magnet for visitors. In the third century the Romans built 
huge oval forts to defend the coast from raids by Saxon pirates. 
Twelve of these forts were built, strung out like a linked chain 
along the coast; this one was called Anderida. William the Con- 
queror landed at Pevensey in 1066. The traditional tale of his 
stumbling in the sand and laming his foot is well known. Here the 
Conqueror set up a mint. Coins found in subterranean vaults are 
on view at the Museum of Lewes. He gave the land of Pevenesae to 
Robert of Mortain, who built the castle which stands at one corner 
of the great wall fort. A chequered career has shadowed this noble, 
medieval fortress, so strongly battlemented. Prince James of Scotland 
languished here during the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V. "Our 
Jaimie played he a lute, and sang sad songs of longing to the stars/* 
are words from an old Scottish ballad. 

All manner of surprises catch one's eye. There rises the Rhenish 
Helm of the Church at Sompting. Built in 1100, the Ringerike style 
of this church stemmed from the architecture of the Rhine Valley. 
After passing through Wilmington one sees the famous Long Man of 
Wilmington Downs, an outlined human figure, measuring about two 
hundred and forty feet, holding a staff in each hand, and creating a 
phosphorescent gleam against green meadow grass. This is the only 
chalk monument from ancient days existing on the south spur of 
the Downs. 

Old Shoreham-by-Sea, a port at the mouth of the Adur, was an 
early Saxon pirate nest. Far the most interesting house in town is 
the Marlipins, once a toll house where a bailiff for the de Braose 
family, powerful lords of the port, collected harbor fees and "way 
taxes." It is a wide-faced, gabled structure of the igth century. The 
front is set in red, black, and white chequerboard pattern, using 
clay bricks, flint, and Caen stone brought in ships from France as 
ballast. Marlipins is now a museum of old maritime souvenirs. 
Behind the town is a fine spur of the Downs, Thundersbarrow Hill. 

Worthing is a large watering place, very stylish in Georgian and 
Regency crescents and a lovely sweeping promenade, giving a view 
of chalk cliffs and a wide sandy beach, excellent for bathing. 

I strongly advise anyone traveling in Sussex to go to Pulborough 
near Storrington and visit, in leisurely manner, Parham Park, an 



Elizabethan house nostalgic of the splendid days of Queen Elizabeth I 
and James I. The great hall was built by Sir Thomas Palmer, a 
sea captain, huge in girth "with a laugh like the baying of a hound 
pack." In 1577 Palmer, as a child, laid the cornerstone, having 
received the property through paternal inheritance. 

The House of Parham is built in the shape of an E, a plan much 
favored when building these brick or stone manors, as a delicate and 
lasting compliment to Queen Elizabeth. The Tudor Rose also is in- 
corporated in carved stone ornament. The roof line is many-gabled, 
asprout with tall chimneys grouped in clusters to form a decoration 
against the skyline; the flues travel long distances in order to dis- 
charge their smoke in company. At Parham there is an uncanny 
liveliness about the painted canvas, as if those represented, in their 
jeweled raiment, many of them the most renowned personages of 
the Elizabethan Age, were actually breathing. The Honorable Clive 
Pearson's skill in arranging this show to evoke the full effect of 
"The Great Reign of Elizabeth Victrix" must be seen to gain any 
idea of its rarity. 

The plaster work in the great hall is a perfect foil for rich paneling 
and is background to the brilliant costumes in fifty-odd portraits. 
The mullioned windows are high and hung with heavy oyster-white 
silk damask. The hall screen, splendidly carved, extends across one 
entire wall opposite the minstrel gallery. Of the remarkable collec- 
tion of Elizabethan portraits, the star treasure is a three-quarter- 
length painting of Queen Elizabeth by her favorite artist, Zucchero. 
She is revealed in extravagant array soaring ruff of silver lace and 
pearls, a jewel-latticed stomacher, out of fable, great leg-of-mutton 
sleeves, jeweled in garnets and emeralds. Her face is narrowly oval, 
exaggerating her pointed chin and thin lips, which like her cheeks 
are heavily rouged. Her hands, one holding an enormous ostrich- 
feather fan, are white as alabaster, long, slender. "Of all my person 
my chief est joy," she wrote Zucchero, sending him a ruby ring that 
in her Rainbow Portrait had appeared on her finger. Flanking 
"Gloriana" are portraits of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, by Zuc- 
chero, in red, gold, and black, and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, 
attired in cream satin slashed with gold. 

A tour de force in delineation of the unbridled elegance and in- 
ventiveness of dress in the Elizabethan period is seen in an equestrian 
portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, by Isaac Oliver. It shows a 
superbly caparisoned black-dappled gray horse, in crimson harness, 

89 



gold bossed and tasseled in lemon and gold, the sportive gaiety of 
Henry's embroidered, slashed, and jewel-knotted doublet, fashion- 
ably puffed out trunks, and short "Venetian" cape, his tilted, high- 
crowned bistre hat springing a fountain of plumes, centering an 
aigrette. 

The oak furniture at ParhamEarly Tudor, Elizabethan, and 
Jacobean is very well preserved after long usage, the oak soft sur- 
faced as satin in texture from long care in waxing. A treasure here 
is the needlework bed canopy and coverlet worked in mille-fleurS; 
all greens and tawny, by Mary Queen of Scots and her ladies. 

The house is surrounded by a deer park, and it is no unusual 
sight when gazing out of the great mullioned windows to see a hind, 
with faun at hoof, strayed from the half-shy herd, or a solitary stag, 
adorned with arrogantly branching antlers, intently watching the 
house. He may raise his head and utter a call. Then a herd of fox-red 
deer will answer his summons. A flick on a pane of glass with a 
fingernail will cause an instant leap, a pause, then a stately recession 
back into the greenwood, 

Bodiam Castle was built by Sir Edward Dalyngruge, a knight of 
the French wars, who purchased the "manor of Bodiam" in 1370. 
On a stone platform which he had ordered thrown up in the center 
of an almost square lake he built his "hold/* The lake served as a 
moat, fed directly from the River Rother. Entrance was gained by 
a drawbridge said originally to have been, because of the unusually 
wide expanse of water, the longest and strongest drawbridge in 
England. The high keep of the castle is of local Wadhurst sandstone 
which attracts lichen, thus the walls at sunny high noon or sunset 
appear to be marbleized in green and gold. There is, for all the 
castle's strength, a most lovely, haunting peace, a calm restfulness at 
Bodiam, the structure reflected its entire length in clear water. 

The walls of the forecourt are thickly studded with carved blazon- 
ings. Shields displaying arms of the Bodeham family, the Knollys, 
de Wardeux, show six martlets, which have since been chosen the 
county arms of Sussex. The texture of these walls is like heavily 
embossed and painted Spanish leather. The great kitchens have two 
cavernous fireplaces hung with all manner of iron chains, spits, 
ladles, and paraphernalia for the complex roasting of whole beeves, 
deer, and game birds. 

Bosham is an ancient fishing port, a tangle of ropes, seaweed, 
iodine-stained stone, and fish nets. It was here in 1035 that King 

go 



Canute built a palace. He waxed frenzied in wrath at the sea which 
had dragged away his little daughter, as she was feeding the seagulls. 
The waves defied his command to retreat, but despite them he 
saved his daughter Eldra and retired to his castle. However, she lived 
only for a short time. It is said King Canute left his Palace of Bosham 
never to return again. The name Bosham derives from basium, a 
kiss. A legend persists that the daughter of Canute is buried in the 
Saxon Church of Holy Trinity. It used to be thought that the 
beautiful tomb recess in the chancel covered her sepulcher. For 
centuries, in cold wind and storms of rain, gulls flew into the chancel 
and nested on the stone above her grave, where it is always dry and 
warm. 

Men in Sussex inns raise a glass of whatever their tipple and say, 
"Here's to the town the King built." They refer to Winchelsea. 
Once this proud maritime town rose fronting the waters of the 
English Channel. Because of her stature and strategic position on 
a deep harbor she was granted a "Charter of Ancient Township" by 
Edward I and her name added as sixth to the original Cinque Ports. 

Winchelsea had lived by the sea and was swallowed by the sea, 
for, according to old chronicles, "Wynchelsie fell to a very soore 
and manifest ruine by reason of olde rages of the se." The desti- 
tute survivors of this holocaust appealed to Edward I to build 
them a new town. The "Great Builder" of fortress castles liked to 
do nothing better. He complied immediately. He purchased in 1252 
the present site, high up on a rocky promontory, from the powerful 
monks of Fecamp. His Lord Chancelor, the Bishop of Ely, designed 
the town in rectangular blocks two and one-half acres each with 
streets crossing at right angles. Winchelsea remains today one of the 
most charming towns in all Britain. The Strand Gate still harbors 
a Keeper of the Gate, instructed as Edward I bade the town on his 
departure "to keep a look-out for the French." 

The town's nobility was the Alard family, who wielded tremendous 
power. In the church are such a bewildering congestion of tombs 
there is scarcely room to move about, tombs all resplendent with 
effigies of the defunct Alards. A small boy reposes in full armor. 
There are ladies in towering headdresses and chin wimples. A veiled 
lady seems about to rise from her bier. Whole families are sculp- 
tured in soapstone, in one case father and mother tecumbent, with 
a large flock of sons and daughters kneeling suppliant. Steep old 
stone-paved streets dip and climb like a switchback. Old stone cot- 



tages crowd charming inns which serve good fish, fresh from the sea. 

Hastings, where the famous battle was fought in 1066, is eight 
miles away. Now a popular seaside resort with a shell-shaped shale 
beach, the town is "overcrowned" by the cliff- top ruins of William 
the Conqueror's castle. The ghost of a lady in steeple hennin and 
wimple walks the battlements of the single remaining tower. She 
stares out to sea, waves goodby to an unseen ship, bows her head as 
if weeping, and then fades into the night shadows. 

In earliest days the River Arun was called Tarent. In a dale a 
village of 'wattle, straw, and flint was built. The settlers in this 
part of Sussex were famed for brewing herbs and simples gathered 
in the dells between rich chalk deposits. Horehound grows here 
profusely. Boiled down, it was a potent broth. The name Arun 
springs from this horehound root. The settlement came to be known 
as Arundel and the river, winding below a great jut of turfed and 
densely wooded rock, the Arun. 

The Arun flows a lonely way, sometimes all but hidden beneath 
high, weed-grown banks, until it reaches Arundel itself and one 
sees the castle rising silver-white in the sun, or, as I saw it, glistening 
like crystal, swept by intermittent squalls of driving rain, with a 
brief respite of sun, high above the western Arun banks. 

In the village of Arundel are many delightful old houses, an 
ancient, mellowed, Norman church, cottages so overhung in trumpet 
vine and cottage roses they resemble birthday party favors of pink 
spun sugar. But the castle dominates all. It still retains that indefin- 
able air of impregnability. "Capital of the River/' Wellington 
called it. 

The interior of the castle is a series of large rooms, many with 
a circular tower bay from which to view the Sussex Downs. Taken 
as a whole the rooms house a museum of paintings, representative 
of all that is finest in European and British art down considerable 
centuries. Tea is served every afternoon in the Ducal Lodge. A stroll 
from the castle to this 'lower folly/' as the gardeners call it, will lead 
you through walks bordered by flower beds and massed flowering 
shrubs. 

I drove along "The Royal Road to Brighton/' Traffic was at its 
height. I stopped at the Speckled Trouncer (fighting cock), an inn 
at Patcham where Fanny Burney lodged, because she "vowed" 
Brighton was overcrowded with "rakes and men of boxing gentry, 

9* 



accompanied by women too lightly clad." Here Fanny wrote her 
valuable record of her trip to the Sussex "spas," of which she liked 
Hove and Tunbridge Wells the best, describing them as most 
"pacific" and light-hearted, but having proper decorum. 

The Royal Road, as it came to be called, went by way of Croydon, 
Redhill, Mersham and Cuckfield to Brighthelrnstone, now Brighton. 
Shortening pronunciation by the "stunting" of a word long on the 
tongue was a fashionable practice of the time. 

Charming "pavilion" style hotels were built along the route and 
a good many still thrive: the Old White Hart at Bletchingley nearby 
Godstone Green; the Dorest Arms at East Grinstead. No road in 
the realm has gathered to its booted, satin-waistcoated, beaver-hatted 
memory so many legends. Bucks and dandies exchanged pistol shots 
with noted highwaymen. The touted beauties bared their resplendent 
white bosoms to a "bridle cull," a highwayman, in a mask, hoping 
to distract his attention from their jewels, only to excite his ardor 
and to be assaulted in the coach or dragged into the bushes. 

No matter that the sea at Brighton is at its best, reflecting majestic 
chalk cliffs and the famed Steyne: it is the Regency Promenade and 
the Marine Pavilion, "pearl of fantasie," that are renowned. Built 
for the Prince of Wales by Henry Holland in 1787, it was later in 
abracadabra grand transformation restored by John Nash in 1822, 
in the improbable style of a Palace of the Mogul Emperors of India. 
The state apartments of Florizel's Folly a sobriquet which vastly 
pleased the Prince are decorated in painted silk and wallpapers, 
carved and fretted wood. Walls tinted in heliotrope, shell-pink, the 
celadon green of pond lily pads, and the curiously limpid and illusive 
blue of a new-laid robin's egg that Manchu poets always refer to as 
"celestial." While the exterior of the Royal Pavilion is part Mogul 
and part hashish-eaters' dream of opulence, it never fails to engage 
deep interest, perhaps because frivolity at any time in any guise is 
a too seldom indulged human frailty. 

Inside this pavilion, under the bulbous domes and latticed colon- 
nades, all is Chinese taste that Venetians, who express their own 
sense of exuberance in chinoiserie design, so deliciously call "Fiesta 
Cinese." Veritably these rooms are a Chinese festivity to the hilt. In 
the banqueting room, once the scene of many historical events, a 
silken canopy supported by the gracefully branching leaves of palm 
trees in crystal, white, and gilt sags, lifts, or billows in a breeze. 

The immense kitchen was a kind of culinary "temple," where 

93 



gargantuan banquets always seemed to be in preparation. An old 
record kept by a butler proves illuminating. "It is now only at sun- 
set/' it states. "We have served dinners and small collations to fifty 
guests today. There will be a banquet at seven o'clock for my Lady 
Fitzwilliam where we seat one hundred." Much of this is brought 
back into focus because the kitchen is furnished with its original 
equipment. It had been preserved and later presented to the nation 
by the person who purchased the pavilion from Queen Victoria. 

In comparison to the lilt and filigree in crystal and all the pinks, 
violets, and greens of Chinese jades, the carvings in the Church of 
St. Nicholas at Brighton, depicting the story of the saint and the 
evil woman at the Last Supper, are starkly dramatic. Though we 
know they are of extremely early origin, we are given no specific 
date. The figures are boldly carved and the story is that of a mys- 
terious woman who confronted pilgrims on a voyage to visit the saint. 
She gave one man a vessel containing an ointment to be put in the 
safe keeping of the church. St. Nicholas appeared and bade them 
cast the vessel into the sea, for he felt the woman to be an evil spirit 
in league with Satan. As it touched the water the vessel exploded* It 
was a fireball which was intended to destroy the sanctuary of the 
church. It is impossible to convey the extraordinary expression on 
the scarf-draped face of the Evil Woman. She has a vile leer, her 
tongue protruding through fangs. I wonder if Prince Florizel -"that 
impious Hanoverian," William Pitt called himever saw this carved 
frieze and, if so, what remark he made. 

Hove is a lovely town, having a smart appearance and a mild 
climate. Largely Georgian and Regency in architecture, its pride is 
its hotels Sackville Court and the Dudley, both excellent. A tidy 
town, its houses are frequently repainted, its flower gardens re- 
planted, the streets swept, and walks garnished with gravel. Other 
Sussex resorts, Seaford, Eastbourne, and Bexhill-on-the-Sea are all 
highly regarded by devotees. And there are never so staunch ad- 
mirers as habitues of the English spas. 

I walk the streets of Rye with a feeling of unreality as if I had 
stepped back in time several centuries, and had been given a romantic 
lift. Since first inception the two formidable enemies of Rye were 
the sea and the French. For greater protection, the town built a 
wall, parts of which are the Land Gate and Ypres Tower. 

It is a curious sensation to stand on Ypres Tower, the battlement 
of Rye, on a sunny day and look off and away on all sides. Because 

94 



of atmospheric changes, sunlight on the sands and marshlands creates 
fanciful effects. Rye seems to have no apparent link to earth, shining, 
ethereal, adrift in a deep blue sky, a kind of mirage. I caught a 
sound from the church, muted by a westerly breeze the choir boys 
droning a litany. 

Rye has many old inns and houses adorned with curved-oak beams, 
shaped as the ribs and quarter-deck timbers of galleons of the Middle 
Ages. People who own these houses proudly claim that their prized, 
age-blackened beams were once ship's timber, either Spanish or 
British. Drake fought the Armada in the Channel near Rye and 
wrecked ships were numerous on the sands. 

Not far away there is a lovely curve of beach, Camber Sands, from 
which it is the height of pleasure to bathe and swim. Once it was a 
great haunt of smugglers, who landed their contraband and "slushed" 
it off through murmuring sand to the marshes, and by stealth beyond. 



95 



Ckaptcr 6 



TOPIARY GARDENS IN KENT- 
PARGETTING IN ESSEX 



THE county of Kent has always loomed large in the affections 
of British sovereigns throughout history. In a sense it has 
been the plaisaunce for kings and queens ever since the 
Conqueror, to shelve their cares of court and governing, to hunt 
with hound and falcon, to dally in lost, leafy dells, or be festive at 
one of the many agreeable manor houses which lie shaded in spacious 
parks. 

"A lovely groveland of whispering green," was Richard Ill's com- 
pliment to Kent as he rode the Pilgrim's Way from London to 
Canterbury. 

"I hold you so high in our pleasure/ 1 said Queen Elizabeth to 
Sir Philip Sidney, "I will jaunt down to Penshurst Place to loiter 
in my arboretum of Kent." 

And when Sir Philip received Gloriana at his father's hall he 
presented her with a poem of welcome, the parchment wrapped 
around the long thornless stems of a sheaf of Penshurst roses. Tall 
bushes o this wine-dark rose, the fronds abundant as fountain water 
sprays, grow against the Long Wall at Penshurst today. This variety 
is one of the few pleached roses that thrive under this manner of 
planting, for gardeners tell me bush roses do not like this controlling 
by man of their waywardness, against stone. 

Nature was never in more prodigal mood than when she divided 
her skeins of rootlings and "planted" Kent. Down the annals of 
English balladry run arresting references to this varied and often 
fragrant foliage, for dark green "incense cedars' 1 border country 
lanes and flank Palladian porticos alike, as at Mereworth Castle with 

96 



its alleys of evergreen. Mulberry and flowering quince perfume the 
sunlight-latticed Kentish air. At The Bear and Pye (for magpie), a 
country inn near Rochester, I heard a barrel organ playing and saw 
a group of young boys and girls dancing their hearts out to the 
blithe tune which I learned was an ancient Kentish dance called 
"The Leafy Lanes of Kent." Henry VIII was so partial to the song 
that his attendants and courtiers regarded it as anodyne to soothe his 
sulks or angers. When he would sit morose before a winter fire at 
Whitehall or, limping with gout, petulantly cut off the heads of 
roses in the Bowls Alley at Hampton Court, a page or a lady with 
vision would call to musicians, "Play 'The Leafy Lanes of Kent/ " 
and then addressing the assembled ladies and gallants would bid 
them, "Pair off for the dance, and be quick about it." The king, 
listening, would wax all smiles and invariably join in the rollicking 
jig. In his earlier life Henry loved every acre in Kent. To Anne 
Boleyn of Hever Castle, during the days of his infatuation, he sent 
a model of the castle fashioned of marchpane by his Whitehall pastry 
cook. A letter accompanied the confection stating, "You and Hever 
and my thoughts contrive as one. I shall be with you soon." 

In sending her marchpane Henry was, in effect, teasing Anne in 
gentle fashion. She was addicted to sweets. His nickname for her was 
"Sweet Hever." A curious annotation to Henry's "love's missal," his 
daily letter to Anne, stands in the village of Hever; it is the King's 
Head, an inn of 1490 the name intended for Henry VIII to signify 
the "Boleyn Butcher," The local inhabitants, however, tactfully mis- 
pronounce it as The Bull an' Butcher. 

At Tonbridge, an old market town associated with the wool trade 
since the time of the Conqueror, one may wander in the ancient 
precincts through narrow twisting streets paved with cobbles of 
cannon-ball size. The streets are overshadowed by high, narrow stone 
houses; a kind of top-story village rears above the eaves, the huge 
dormers of timber and brick appearing to have no connection with 
the houses underneath. 

Scores of Norman castles, Tudor manor houses, and the eighteenth- 
century-style country seat of Mereworth (Palladian) with formal 
gardens by Capability Brown, lie half sleeping in natural surround- 
ings of pastures, river bottom lands, or embowered in that dense, 
almost impenetrable shade, the wooded hills of Kent. Sissinghurst 
Castle is a small, moated Tudor house on the fringe of an ancient 
village of that name, "a place of thatch and roses, and all the world 

97 



away" so runs an old song. A few years ago the long, low house, 
dignified by a tall rose-red brick tower, was acquired by Lady Nichol- 
son, known to readers of her novels and books on architecture and 
gardens as Victoria Sackville-West Lady Nicholson says it was the 
flower-laden drained moat, run to glorious riot of practically every 
"cottage" flower known to horticulture, and the old, matted rose 
vines clinging to rough brick and stone of the rambling walls that 
formed her decision to rehabilitate this property. 




fewer* 



The first glimpse reveals soft mulberry-rose brick and dove-gray 
stone overlaid and laced and fringed with roses and honeysuckle 
vines. Wholly indescribable is this effect of superimposed design, 
petals upon stone, in the early light of sunrise or seen in the long 
shadows cast by the tower across the walls and paved courtyard in 
the westering sun. This lacing of color and swaying green fronds 
seems a living, hugely scaled mille fteurs tapestry. 

Sissinghurst has the ageless spirit of a medieval garden, the primly 
informal miniature layout as against the more sweeping canvas 
on which to paint in flowers and topiary often seen in Restoration 
and eighteenth-century gardens. 



The over-all display is simplicity and casual grouping. Paths wind 
to a series of small brick houses drowned in flowering vines. A Rosa 
banksia vine of formidable proportions takes complete possession 
of a brick garden house, the texture and color of ancient brick and 
rose blending in an astonishing way. Roses everywhere, but few that 
the searcher will find in catalogues displaying the popular roses of 
today. Old cottage roses and English hedge roses fill the beds and 
climb the walls at Sissinghurst. Here the cabbage rose attracts an 
army of honeybees. The fragrance is heady to overpowering; colors 
include the entire range of redsrusset-pink, palest yellow, white, 
and green-tinged wine-pink of the endearing moss rose; honeysuckle 
hovers, rich and somehow oriental. Tempering all fragrance to a 
spicy or pungent tang are plots of herbs. This is the great Sackville 
touch. Victoria Sackville-West was brought up at her ancestral home, 
Knole at Sevenoaks. Among the uncountable wonders of Knole is 
the famous potpourri, made from a secret recipe which causes the 
delicate odor of a melange of spices, herbs, and flowers, to permeate 
the farthest reaches of that great house. 

Ightham Moat like Sissinghurst is hidden away among oaks and 
beeches rising from onyx-green water perpetually unrippled as a 
mirror. I saw it on a day when a breeze had sprung up and the 
linden trees were shedding their tiny shell-shaped seed pods to skim 
a flotilla on the waters surface. The usual dormant air of this me- 
dieval house, a timber and stone woodland retreat suspended in 
time, had given way to a silvery green storm of fragile linden pods. 

The interior of the house is a curious jumble of rooms, none of 
them overlarge, entered up-step, down-step, an amazement of levels. 
But these rooms are lovely in the dark sheen of oak paneling. I 
noticed this particularly at hushed midday when the sun, playing 
its rays upon the water of the moat, darted reflections in quivering 
green on th,e diamond-paned windows, causing the bronze patina 
of walls and white molded plaster ceilings to vibrate in spangles of 
translucent light. 

Its wealth of contrast in lichened and mossy stone, mauve-rose 
brick, and crosshatching of black oak timber, cause many to regard 
Ightham Moat as the most treasurable small Tudor manor house in 
England. 

The ancient "taverner's" village of Smarden is so called because, 
in the great days of coaching, it supported twelve notable inns. The 
Old Bull, 1345, is now predominant in age and reputation for long 

99 



catering to hungry and thirsty travelers. Students and connoisseurs 
of medieval half-timbering visit Smarden as a sort of ritual. Scores 
of large merchants* houses and cottages of whitewashed brick, hand- 
somely laid off in patterns of black oak timbering, line long, curi- 
ously serpentine streets, ending in lanes bordered by veritable forests 
of hop poles, the vines hung thickly with the pungent green blossoms 
in full waving. 

Once well into Kent the most compelling sight is groups of oast 
houses. These oddly constructed cylinders of stone, usually washed 
with white clay, though some of the older ones are brick, resemble 
small Norman battlements, save for the candle-snuffer conical cap 
roof ending in ventilators set veering off at an angle, as if a tassel 
blew awry in a high wind. The heady odor of drying hops sweeps 
the countryside. 

Ale for the gargantuan consumption at Tudor and Stuart tables 
(Plantagenet kings preferred French wines and Hanoverian rulers, 
German wines almost exclusively) was sent daily from Wrotham by 
drays, each one holding six enormous tuns of ale. At a tithe barn 
near Otford-Shoreham I saw a collection of these large oak tuns 
bound in huge hoops of hand-wrought iron. Into the barrel ends, 
deeply incised, is burned the Tudor Rose. These informal "mu- 
seums' 1 one finds in small communities in out-of-the-way corners of 
English counties include old farm implements, woodsmen's gear, 
and tools for the diversified art of thatching. They bring into focus 
the entire picture of ancient rural usages followed in the daily 
round by the yeoman farmer. I lunched at the Sower and Gleaner, 
near Paddock, almost obscured from those traveling through the 
Medway Vale by a linden wood rising above a gorge. I ate a delicious 
though unfamiliar local dish of food. Inquiring, I learned this: an 
old "simple" meadow plant called comfrey grows prodigiously in 
Kentish vales, the white blossoms resembling freesia in form and 
scent. The splay-shaped leaves, picked still moist with dew, are 
soaked in milk, dipped in batter, and then fried in hot butter. They 
are stacked like griddle cakes and served with grilled bacon or slices 
of ham. For him who knows where to find it, this is a memorable 
way to make use of "God's gifts." 

The motif for Canterbury is its cathedral. The houses, with roofs 
bowed, seem to genuflect and they appear uninteresting until 
looked at closely. Many of them are extremely ancient, with im- 
mensely thick stone walls built on a rake in the manner of an ancient 

100 



Norman dungeon. Curious groups of chimney stacks rear to extrava- 
gant height, some carved in gargoyle faces, tongues lolling out, eyes 
hugely rolling or slitted. One which sprang from the Apothecary's 
House was carved with the head of a man suffering from toothache, 
his jaw wound in a clout, and another with a fat-cheeked woman 
feeding medicine to a droop-eyed spouse from an enormous spoon. 

Architecturally the cathedral is singularly impressive, though oddly 
different from any other in England. It seems to rear its three great 
belfreys in a style more of medieval French persuasion than the 
approved Late Saxon, Early or Late Norman. The more accepted 
Abbey Church of the Vales in appearance bears little kinship. The 
cathedral, immense but warm and inviting in its innate simplicity 
of decoration the tawny stone mellowed by the centuries to the 
texture of old velvetdraws pilgrims from all parts of the world 
as it has done since the murder of Thomas a Becket in 1170. In 
early times pilgrims came ragged, barefoot, often to fall down at 
the church portal, dying from starvation and exhaustion, life scarcely 
sustained long enough to place in the abbot's hand gifts they had 
brought from afar, often at great hardship and peril. 

Erasmus wrote, "Even the meanest part was gold, every part glis- 
tened, shone and sparkled with very large jewels." 

Today's visitor is shown the shrine of Thomas a Becket, some of 
the most glorious stained glass in Britain, and much ecclesiastical 
and heraldic art. More than all this he sees, or perhaps more deeply 
feels, the sense of peace this house of worship enshrines, the ancient 
traditions it sustains, and, above all, the spiritual vigor it feeds. 

For six hundred years in the cathedral there hung, hoist above 
the tomb of Edward Plantagenet, the Black Prince, his "achieve- 
ments," sometimes called hatchments. These unique relics consisted 
of helm and crest, shield, jupon, gauntlets, sword scabbard and sword 
belt, and an embroidered mantle spread out in mute panoply, a 
sheltering canopy, defending against violence the armored effigy laid 
out beneath. A little over five years ago an expert authority on such 
relics was called in to scrutinize each one relative to finding means 
for their preservation. He reported that with delicate cleaning, the 
life of each article might last a decade, but the fragility of the cloth 
and velvet would not permit another cleaning. It was seen that 
drastic measures must be taken, for the garments were literally drop- 
ping to pieces. "And small wonder," as someone commented in a 

101 



letter to the London Times. "These garments had had hard wear 
before being hung up six hundred years ago." 

It was decided last year to have copies made of the "achievements" 
so that the original ones might be placed under glass, close by the 
tomb. This work was carried out in workshops of the Tower of Lon- 
don Armouries. The helm was the most difficult single piece to 
reconstruct. There were the two lower pieces encircling the head 
and face, surmounted by the upper, which took the form of a trun- 
cated cone. The beating and drawing out of this last piece required 
the greatest skill, for already in the sixteenth century armorers had 
reversed the pattern of a helm. It was therefore necessary for present 
armorers to study closely to revive a lost art. The gauntlets are of 
copper-gilt lined with soft doeskin. The needlework involved was 
done by the mother of one of the Tower of London staff members 
who has made an exhaustive study of medieval stitchery. The spirited 
crest, a "lion stantant" poised to "spring" atop the helm, was modeled 
from stiff leather. The shield was originally constructed of wood 
identified as Kew poplar. This is no longer available, so lime-wood 
was used, and the emblazoned device painted on it. The Black 
Prince's surcoat or jupon was copied in the Royal School of Needle- 
work. It is of blue and red velvet diapered in squares, elaborately 
puffed and quilted, and sewn with the gold lilies of France and the 
leopards of England. Oddly, the wide, heavy sword belt was made 
from woven flax. The gilt-iron buckle is magnificent to behold, the 
head of a lion, the great tongue slipping through eyelets of gold 
bosses in the form of fleur-de-lis. Here we have the true gear of a 
warrior prince just as it was worn by the romantic warrior son of 
Edward III. 

Hotels are numerous in Canterbury, none of them large or excep- 
tional. The George, an eighteenth-century building, reminds me of 
the excellent Mitre Hotel at Oxford for its innumerable staircases, 
both long and short, with narrow oak-beamed passages branching 
off in all directions. Of eating places, Chaucer Pilgrims and The 
White Hart have the ancient Chaucerian air and the food is simple 
but bountiful. Roast beef and a "cut off the joint" ham, veal, mut- 
tonserved hot or cold are the mainstay of Canterbury menus. 

Canterbury takes its ecclesiastical place in the sun seriously, as 
anyone will observe when walking in the cathedral close, past the 
plain but majestic frontage of the archbishop's palace, set amid shaded 
walks, where the air distills its personal incense of yew, moss rose, 

102 



the heady wall-flower, and freshening triumphal bay. Everywhere one 
sees attractive bowfronts of booksellers' shops. During an hour's 
stroll I counted thirty, varying in size and importance. The accent 
is definitely placed on Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, but I 
found to be even more in demand his delectable Boke of the Duchesse 
written in 1303 and Troilus and Criseyde. I picked up a copy of 
Robert Mannyng's Handlyng Synne, a curious treatise on how to get 
along with sin and not suffer "besmirching." This version was pub- 
lished at Maidstone, Kent, in 1779 by Hooper Chandos. The wood- 
cuts to illustrate this ancient form of vernacular, where every other 
word is riddled with y, double ,$, or nne> as in Synne> engage attention 
by bordering on the stark pornographic. 

It was just past sunrise as I drove out of Canterbury along the 
Roman highway, Watling Street. Once the boisterous songs called 
"wayfaryrres' chants," written by Chaucer for his cavalcade of Pil- 
grims, had echoed from the surrounding knolls. The morning sun 
touched the towers of the cathedral with muted fire. Verily Erasmus 
had been right. However opulently ornamented the interior, which 
once contained gold leaf and inset jewels, this morning, as the sun 
climbed the sky, it could truly be said of the exterior that "the 
meanest part was gold." 

Leaving Canterbury, it seemed that there was on every hill a 
"crown" of Royal Kentish oaks. Massed in circular formation on 
hillcrests, these are the King's Trees, and have been so renowned 
since Edward I, riding one day to Gravesend in the noon heat, felt 
his body broiling beneath armor plate and wadded surcoat. He rose 
in his stirrups and tore from the limb a mighty branch to hold over 
his head as protection against the burning sun. A lad gawking in 
envy at the men-at-arms saw this gesture and exclaimed: "The King's 
Tree!" Edward heard of this. He sent a herald to Strood, the town 
nearest the spot where he had wrenched off the bough. The herald 
read a proclamation in the market place to the effect that the Royal 
Oak of Kent would henceforth be stamped upon a minted gold coin. 
A few years ago two walls in an ancient house in Conway, North 
Wales, collapsed and yielded a hidden gilt-bronze box. Inside on 
moldering leather lining lay an assortment of gold coins bearing the 
head of Edward I on one side, the Royal Oak of Kent on the other. 
The house dated from the period when Edward had built Conway 
Castle. 

In 1954 the Borough of Rochester celebrated the issoth anni- 

103 



vfcrsary of the founding of the Diocese, for it was in 604 A.D. that St. 
Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, appointed Justus as first 
Bishop of Rochester. This was only seven years after the arrival of 
St. Augustine in Britain. It is told that the first foundations of 
Rochester Cathedral, a remarkably small edifice in comparison to 
most of the great Norman abbeys and cathedrals rising in disparate 
points in the land, were laid out to be far greater in scale than those 
finally built upon. This curtailing of plans for a church of great 
magnitude to rise in the Forest of Rochester was due to the parsi- 
mony of local barons who preferred to spend their gold promoting 
border forays, even wars, further to enrich themselves. Today it 
is the interior that arrests attention. We see extraordinarily beautiful 
delicate stone fretwork and carvings of twelfth- and thirteenth-cen- 
tury workmanship. The "blood window" is pure theater crimson, 
rose, and sunset pink stained glass divided by heavy black leading, 
giving the effect of a massive cobweb with a devouring spider at its 
heart. 

At Lullingstone Castle near Eynsford the Shakespeare Garden 
attracts many devotees. I saw eager persons hurrying about with pad 
and pencil poised to write down the name of every herb mentioned 
in any way by the Bard. It is not known who planted the herb garden 
but the idea of the originator prevails, for a tag is tied to a stake 
at each bush or plant, giving the quotation from sonnet or drama 
where each is mentioned. Set against giant cedars, linden trees, and 
silver beeches, a thin mist of water sprays the garden at intervals 
so that in the hot sun each herb calls attention to its personal scent. 
Tea is served in the garden on fine days and, if inclement, in the 
castle Great Hall. 

On the roster of great English houses, the name of Penshurst 
Place evoked in one's mind the resplendent Elizabethan era, when 
its halls echoed to the cultured and brilliant company of the Sidneys. 
In earlier days its builder, Sir John Pulteney, indulged in such com- 
plicated financial manipulations as his skirmish with the Florentine 
bankers, Bardi and Peruzzi, which caused their bankruptcy, that he 
became the talk of Europe. The great hall of Penshurst was built 
in 1 340 by Sir John who, among a score of dignities, was four times 
Lord Mayor of London and, measured by standards of the time, was 
a "millionaire." He was one of the early capitalists who gambled in 
financing Edward Ill's war exchequer to pay for Crcy and Poitiers 
by buying up the wool monopoly. In Pulteney's day, when England's 

104 



economic structure rested on the wool trade, the "wool aristocracy" 
ruled; knighthood and its perquisites flourished exceedingly. This 
was the century when sheep farming grew with astonishing rapidity. 
England suddenly found herself in the ranching business. Abbots 
became sheep farmers; sheep farmers were capitalists. Great abbeys, 
churches, and magnificent houses were erected on a scale hitherto 
unimagined, all from the profits of the wool trade. And so Penshurst 
Place rose from wool on which rested the glorious Early English 
architecture of the cathedrals. 

Sir Philip Sidney was born in 1554 at Penshurst Place. Professor 
Cyril Falls of Oxford University stated at Tonbridge Wells, in a 
eulogy prepared for the commemorative exhibition of the life of 
Sir Philip: "Philip Sidney is forever young, a dazzling young figure 
typifying all that is noble, attractive, and cultivated in the first 
Elizabethan Age. His reputation has become European. The blend 
of poet, scholar, soldier, and courtier is, I believe, on its scale unique 
in our history." 

Penshurst Place has a curiously powerful quality of awareness. It is 
the awareness of a listener to the ages, who can speak to enthrall, but 
prefers to remain listening to tales of greatness. The entrance porch 
is finely vaulted, massive in conception, and the great hall, with a 
vast central hearth, so wide that for beauty of scale and detail in 
mullion only Parham can compete. In the hearth at Penshurst, an 
old record states: "two stags were roasted on Twelth Night to serve 
with bramble berries, wine apples, and the honey dripping pear." 

The hall is lit by lofty tracery windows, arranged in five fingers 
pointing roofward. It is the corbels of the magnificent arch-braced 
roof that hold the gaze. To form a finial each beam is carved with 
a life-sized figure, habited as if for carnival or the tourney; or a 
court jester prinks, a faun or youthful Pan grins impishly as a 
Jezebel flaunts her charms. 

The long picture gallery, a place of luminous light on beautiful 
oak paneling, harbors a notable and supremely decorative collection 
of portraits of royalty, and, as if in attendance, of members of the 
Sidney and Dudley families a kind of immense folio of the grandest 
kind of display in country and court fashions down the centuries. 
Lord De Lisle and Dudley, the present owner, has arranged these 
pictures with masterly care for a procession of painted liveliness in 
human document. 

In 1552 Edward VI granted Penshurst to Sir William Sidney, 

105 



grandfather to Philip, the soldier-poet. Fine battlemented ranges 
built by Sir Henry Sidney, Philip's father, surrounded the original 
ancient de Pulteney house. At one termination of the battlement 
stands a kind of gazebo intended as guardhouse for a watching 
man-at-arms. According to a notebook kept by Philip, in which he 
annotates times and places when the Muse captured him, he wrote 
in this lichened stone solitude one of his loveliest poems, "Astrophel 
and Stella." 

At the time Philip was "desperately deep in Love's procrastina- 
tions." He was to have married Penelope Devereux. But her im- 
poverished father Walter, Earl of Essex, coughing himself to death 
in Irish fogs, forced her into protested marriage with wealthy Lord 
Rich. Her story of a frenzied wedding ceremony has become famous 
to all who know the matrimonial pitfalls of the Elizabethan Age. 
Vaulting passion exquisitely expressed by Penelope's lover traces its 
deep poetic feeling in the lines: 

In a grove most rich of shade, 
Where birds wanton music made, 
May, then young, his pied weeds showing, 
New-perfumed with flowers fresh growing, 
Astrophel with Stella sweet 
Did for mutual comfort meet, 
Both within themselves oppressed 
But each in the other blessed. 

As I walked among the rooms at Penshutst Place it was in all ways 
a harmonious time. Displayed to advantage was the armor worn by 
huge-shouldered old Sir William Sydney, alongside the beautifully 
damascened armor of his grandson, Philip, taller and more lithe 
of frame. Here too in grand array were the ornate trappings for his 
brother, Robert, the "gorgeous and spendthrift" Earl of Leicester 
(created so in 1618). Here in quiet halls the tone of Penshurst and 
its bright, particular place in "Realm Gloriana" was exemplified. 

Then I descended into the cool, softly lighted crypt. What a bril- 
liance of painted emblazonry is found here marble, porphyry, sculp- 
tured lead caskets, and ancient silken battle flags. Here rests on folds 
of silk the helm carried at the funeral of Sir Philip Sidney. The crest 
is an engaging young porcupine, carved almost as if grinning, the 
crest of the Sidneys. The animal is gorged and belted in silver. His 

106 



ivory quills are depleted in luxuriant number but the holes for a 
formidable bristling are apparent. One quill had fallen onto the 
stone floor. I picked it up. It resembled, I thought, the counters used 
to play the game of cribbage. 

I left Penshurst through the great hall and walked for a while in 
the garden. I sat on a bench under linden trees and read a small 
book containing an assortment of letters written by Philip Sidney 
to his mother, to Penelope Rich, and to his wife, Frances Walsing- 
ham. These last contained little enthusiasm, perhaps no more than 
he had felt when marrying this woman who made advantageous 
marriages a career. The letters to his brother Robert, telling of the 
Battle of Zutphen, are replete with bravado and youthful flourish. 
How beautifully he chose his words. How blasting were his antip- 
athies toward all martial detail, his loathing for senseless war, his 
praise for the bravery of his companion-in-arms. I realized suddenly 
why Philip Sidney had made so magical, so deeply graven an im- 
pression on his own age, and why his name has remained famous 
after his death. After Elizabeth, I believe he is the best known figure 
of his time. 

The ancient art of topiary reaches the highest point of imagery 
at Sharsted Court in Kent. It involves the trimming into fantastically 
contrived shapes and geometrical designs of the aromatic blackness 
of yew or springy evergreen, and even the lacquered patina of rich 
emerald box. An unearthly beauty of distant ornament and diminu- 
endo lends unforgettable mystery, an air of gentle decay lightened 
by the lilt of birdsong. The billowing masses of yew in oddly clipped 
green shapes evoke a sense of hidden beauty, set deep as they are in 
disheveled oaks, and lead one on deeper and deeper into the aisles 
of what amounts to an enchanted wood, apart from the hurry of 
today's world. This is living sculpture, so artfully conceived that per- 
haps we shall never see anywhere its like again. 

Wherever one looks the house of Sharsted is the focal point. Once 
a spacious medieval house, architecturally of no great pretensions, 
it was turned by Colonel William Delaune in 1771 into a rose-brick 
Queen Anne mansion of beautifully considered proportions, gleam- 
ing with white stone and wood trim, a serene dignity ruling all. It 
was at this time that the oldest of the yews was planted. A long alley 
called Pilgrim's Way shows a double procession of fat bodies in 
clerics' gowns, the shaven polls clipped at curiously listening angles. 
Giant lime trees, planted in semicircular array, form a windbrake. 

107 



I walked down a wide grassy avenue between Ponticum azaleas of 
astounding color, their shading peach pink to claret. Tall Tuscan 
cypresses, foliaged to greater thickness than is often seen outside 
Italy, raised burnished columns of black bronze into the faintly hazy 
blue of an early summer afternoon. Standing under the arched 
branches of pleached pear trees, I looked out onto yew clipped 
conical, or shaped like chessmen, strutting peacocks, and a fleet of 
ships rocking on storm-tossed waves. 

Nearby is the Forest of Sevenoaks, once a royal hunting preserve 
where Henry VIII liked to dash through the rides after the nimble 
roebuck. He cried "halt hunt" to weary followers, only "to sup . . . 
at the manor of Knole," as he wrote Anne Boleyn, whom he soon 
wooed ardently, the two wandering in and out of the seven court- 
yards of this house. Knole actually dates from the reign of King 
John when the monarch "lay at Knole thrice in a twelve month" 
as guest of Baldwin de Bethun, Earl of Albemarle, called "the 
leopard" by his friends, for his long, easy, loping jungle tread. The 
same name was applied by his enemies to refer to a disease which 
disfigured his face and body with swollen, black, carbuncle spots. 

A Plantagenet Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Bouchier (the 
Bouchier Tower is named for him) "did build princely" at Knole. 
Later ill-omened Thomas Cranmer lived here in such regal style 
that he excited the "angerous envy of the scurrilous" who had the 
King's privy ear. Cranmer finally resolved to sacrifice a part of his 
holdings as the best means of preserving the remainder. Accordingly 
he gave the manors of Sevenoaks and Knole to Henry VIII, who 
completed the enclosure of the park at Knole and considerably en- 
larged the Manor of Sevenoaks. 

In 1 603 Queen Elizabeth granted in one of her last great gestures 
to male beauty "Knole and wide lands pertaining to it" to her 
cousin, Thomas Sackville, first Earl of Dorset. The Earl of Dorset 
was regarded as the handsomest man in England. (The reputation 
for great looks is a Sackville tradition which seems never to have 
faltered.) It was Dorset who added to Knole so greatly and with such 
impeccable taste. 

The Bouchier gateway, seen from the Green Court, shows the fine 
oriel bay window, the first of its kind in England. This was built by 
Archbishop Bouchier in 1456 from his own conceiving. Greatly ad- 
mired, the window was widely copied, a form of flattery which 
enraged him. Thereafter whenever he entered a house where a bay 

108 



had been added he had to be restrained from smashing the glass out 
of the leadings while shouting, "Bold bold you are to ape my 
genius." 

No formal palace, Knole is a warmly gracious house where mem- 
bers of a noted family have, for many generations, been happy and 
beloved, a house where art and comfort join hands. An impressive 
house certainly, but so is great art impressive and inspiring, as in 
the few simple primroses in a Chinese porcelain bowl I saw stand- 
ing on a table of fruitwood from Queen Anne's time, or claret-red 
damask roses in a rock crystal vase reflected in the top of a dressing 
table of repousse silver from the James I period. The collection of 
silver furniture at Knole, the hammered metal veneer wrought in 
twisted ribbons and flowery garlands, as fragile as the wing of an 
Abbess moth, is celebrated among connoisseurs. 

Knole as a dwelling house is unique. Through many reigns it has 
stood, unchallenged, its gracious beauty unimpaired. It has been a 
royal residence, a ducal house. Many of the Crown's greatest honors 
have been granted to members of the Sackville family. Within the 
gabled and castellated walls of Knole are revealed five hundred years 
of British civilization at its zenith. I would say, knowing full well the 
magnitude of rich repositories of art in the kingdom, that Knole of 
the Sackvilles has no counterpart. 

In plan the house is a wanderer. Acres of russet roofs, thickly 
lichened in green and gold, cover different levels of soft dove-gray 
stone. It is a "calendar house," containing three hundred and sixty- 
five rooms, fifty-two staircases, twelve courtyards, and seven great 
entrance doors. The various textures of masonry, exhibiting what- 
ever the fashion in building during different centuries, add greatly 
to its charm. The surviving house books at Knole (annotated in 
vastly entertaining style by Lady Nicholson in her book, Knole and 
the Sackvilles) tell of the care of horses, dogs, hawks by "grooms of 
stables, kennels, and mews"; "gradyng" leeches for "human ills"; and 
the inexhaustible care of the house by the multitude of staff required 
by such an establishment. 

Perhaps the most unusual room, from the point of view of the 
late Elizabethan period, is the Great Hall. The year 1605 saw Lord 
Dorset lavish his taste and richly laden purse on a style of subtle 
yet noble ornament, hitherto not seen in England a range of softly 
blending colors, light gilding allied with the dark texture of rare 
woods. A grand staircase sets the tone. Arches at top and bottom are 

109 



upborne by the Sackville leopards acting like caryatids at the top, 
crouching on the newel posts at the foot. Contemporary grisaille, 
lightly picked out with gamboge yellow softly applied, as is pollen 
on a lily, disclose panels of Antwerp marbleizing in faintest mauve 
and rose. 

The Brown Gallery follows the line of the colonnade court facade. 
Hundreds of paintings from the famous Knole collection hang here: 
Gainsborough, Romney, Van Dyck, Lely, Kneller, Holbein, and 
scores of great painters of four centuries. 

The walls in the Reynolds room, hung with rich green cut 
Genoese velvet, are almost covered by paintings of the Sackville 
family by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Not only is this the largest but it 
is by far the most representative collection of this painter's work to 
be shown exclusively in one room. 

Strangely muted quality of color passages is used in various rooms. 
No matter that gold is brushed lightly over rich crimson and bur- 
gundy red walls in the Italian Renaissance manner, or that orange, 
bronze, and red-purple smolder in candlelight, or that emerald 
green and primrose Genoese cut velvet in multitude is pointed up 
with silver, gold, and violet fringes and galloons, it is soft gray, with 
a slightly pink cast, and silken stuffs of silvery gray that prevail. 

The Venetian Ambassador's room, prepared for Vicolo Molino, 
Ambassador to the Court of James I, is a soaring apartment of 
glowing splendor; the great curtained bed with noble tester, en- 
riched by four finial panaches, is hung with green and gold Venetian 
satin damask. Over the mantelpiece hangs a portrait by Veronese. A 
doge of Venice, his long, narrow visage of ivory pallor with crafty, 
hooded eyes seems to possess two faces, which perhaps is true an 
oddly young face and an old face seasoned in guile. I do not trust the 
eyes, but along the beautifully modeled lips dwell humor and love 
of life. This painting of Doge Barbaro, aside from its opulent color, 
is, as a portrayal of personality, a great human document. 

The Spangle Room is so called because the great bed and furnish- 
ings, a present from James I, are in crimson satin damask enriched 
by silver spangles in a design aping the star-shine of the Milky Way. 
A room adrift with overtones of a happy woman, greatly loved, is 
called Lady Betty Germaine's room. It is not large, blunted octagon 
in shape, oak paneled and hung with brocades. This member of the 
Duke of Dorset's family lived secluded, by choice, in this room. Lady 
Betty busied herself with gathering ingredients and compounding 

no 



the famed Knole potpourri. The fragrance of a sun-drenched garden 
drifts up from open Chinese porcelain bowls in every room of the 
house. 

Opening out of the Cartoon Gallery, an extraordinarily long apart- 
ment with an unusual floor of oak tree-trunks split in half, is the 
famed King's bedroom, which the Earl of Dorset had fitted up for 
James I at a cost of twenty thousand pounds. The cost of the bed, 
"housing galloone attaynments of gylt and syllke," is listed at eight 
thousand pounds. Of blazing magnificence from start to finish, the 
bed is hung with "inclosing" curtains and surmounted by a baldachin 
of richest gold and silver tissue lined with deep rose-color silk, pro- 
ducing a singularly jewel-like illusion as one catches glimpses of 
rose-red through the folds of transparent tinsel gauze. Stools, chairs, 
and a lit-de-repos are covered in this same material. Perhaps the most 
remarked pieces of furniture at Knole are the toilet service; table 
and a chair of repousse silver are in an alcove of this room. 

Portraits painted by famous artists of their time represent all the 
owners of Knole and their wives since Queen Elizabeth's reign. From 
one canvas a face of calculated cunning looks down. Unswerving 
ambition rode Sir Richard Sackville, father of Thomas Sackville. 
When Chancellor of the Exchequer, a lampoon against avarice had 
tagged him with a nickname by which he was ever after known, 
"Fill Sack," on account of the enormous wealth he amassed. 

For a county of its size Kent has a long coast line. Starting from 
near Dungeness it extends to New Romney, on to Dymchurch, 
Folkestone, Dover, and on around the point of Ramsgate and Margate 
to Whitestable. From the Bay and Straits of Sheerness it goes to 
Dartford, Erith, and so up the Thames to London. Kent can almost 
be described as a peninsula. Folkestone is its busy port of entry from 
France, a mainstay for the fishing industry. Dover is a proud town, 
one of the original Cinque Ports; the majesty of its rampart chalk 
cliffs, gilt-white in the sun, gleams bright as any warning beacon 
under the moon. 

Dover Castle frowns down from its mighty eminence upon chalk 
cliffs to the foaming surf, green-gray out in the channel, until the 
waters take on a milky curdle in their remorseless gnawing at the 
cliff base. The castle existed in Anglo-Saxon times. King Harold 
strengthened its defenses before leaving for Normandy in 1064. 
William of Poitiers describes it with much flourish as "a castle of 
great strength, uncouth in aspect, set high on rocks above water," and 

111 



wrote in small script beside this survey, "useless to approach." But 
this warning was not heeded by William the Conqueror. After his 
victory at Senlac, William wasted no time in taking over Dover Castle 
as first in importance in England, though he suffered great losses of 
men doing so. 

The King's Gate and Palace Gate are lofty, their stone tailored 
to great effect to attain impregnability as well as beauty. An unusually 
interesting feature at Dover is Harold's Well, encased in rough-hewn 
stone to the depth of three hundred and fifty feet. There is an 
ancient tower of Norman workmanship close by the well. It has 
never been reasonably established for what purpose this hollow cone 
of hugely dressed stone was first intended. 

At the ancient village of Stanford-le-Hope I crossed into Essex by 
ferry. The first things I saw indicative of this county were long 
"winds" or double rows of pollarded willows sprouting an impres- 
sive crop of withes to be used in the making of fine garden furniture. 
"The Basket Chairs of Barking" is an old Essex Maypole dance. 
Each year on May Day evening the young swain carries his "courting" 
or betrothed in a hooded "porter's chair" or bath chair strapped to 
his back in a round dance, in its rhythm and leaping steps much like 
a classic Morris dance. If the girl should topple from her chair during 
these vigorous gyrations, watching old wives shake their heads and 
whisper among themselves that, sad to relate, she will not be brought 
to bed of a man-child for many a year. 

I passed through ten or fifteen villages during a morning's drive 
and the diverse designs in pargetted house walls were a great wonder. 
The old country craft of "pargetting" or "parge-work" probably de- 
rives from the old French porgeter, to roughcast. Thick plaster covers 
the wall, on which flowing lines are etched lightly or deeply. The 
incised designs are "spiked" with a rowel in freehand. 

As all things run according to fashion's edict, it was once con- 
sidered a seemly hobby if a "spinster of this parish," in order to 
support herself, did a spot of pargetting now and then. Ben Jonson, 
speaking of an old friend living in the depths of Essex, said, "Belinda 
is sixty, but hale; she pargets." 

Plaster work on the ceilings of great houses in England has been 
notable ever since the introduction of Early Renaissance taste. Henry 
VIII was partial to ornate plaster decoration, and he engaged Italian 
workmen to reveal the beauty of graceful flourishes in plaster. Soon 
this style of ornamentation became the rage. Whitewashed wood, 

112 



wattle-and-daub (a clayey mud) and plaster started as long ago as 
when Westminster Hall was treated with numerous coats of white- 
wash in which ground sea shells had been mixed for luminosity, to 
enrich the effect of crimson, blue, and gold decorations for the 
coronation of Edward I. Moreton Hall in Cheshire went one bet- 
ter and introduced pargetted white plaster floors. It is almost 
entirely in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and, to some extent, in 
Hertfordshire, with delicacy in feeling, that inventive or elaborately 
sophisticated examples of pargetting have survived in exterior decora- 
tion. Though plaster does not seem to be the most durable of ma- 
terials, it nevertheless stands up staunchly to time when mixed with 
ground shells as used in communities like Saffron Walden. Extremely 
elegant is the Sun Inn at Saffron Walden, which displays a plate 
stating, "Pargeing 1646." 




In Newport there is a house said to have been lived in by Nell 
Gwyn, although it is more generally thought that she ran it as a 
brothel. Once serving as a pied-a-terre when going to, and returning 
from, racing at Newmarket, it is a prim little house with an inverted 
plaster sea shell as hood over the entrance porch. The pargetting is 

"8 



lightly incised in swags of fruit and ribbon streamers caught by a 
latent breeze to tangle charmingly amid branches of flowering fruit 
trees. 

At Woodham Ferrers, called by pargetting enthusiasts "the 
treasure-trove corner of Essex/' every dwelling can show some detail, 
largely of humorous nature, until the entire architectural comple- 
ment seems to break out into ribald laughter. To form a frieze across 
one house front, duck swallows duck, fish swallows fish, eel swallows 
eel. On another cottage human faces under each window sill stick 
out tongues at passers-by, or contort lips into forming words at whose 
import we can only wonder. 

One frequently hears the phrase: "The Essex man is a proud man, 
he owns Colchester." And it is true that a native of Essex, from 
whatever corner of the shire, always says "my Colchester." Colchester 
is the oldest recorded town in Great Britain. Driving into it from 
Kelvedon the landscape is gentle, melodious with birdsong; trees are 
not of huge forest variety, but slender. In general there is sufficient 
leafage for plentiful shade. There are numerous ancient mansions 
lying secluded in deer parks, for at one time, when Edward I coursed 
the forest rides, thousands of red deer thrashed through the brake 
at the sound of his hunting horn. 

Colchester is dedicated to the incomparable bivalve, the Colchester 
oyster, for which kings and princes down the centuries have given 
bags of minted gold. 

Boadicea, born at Colchester, overwhelmed a strong Roman gar- 
rison that had been firmly entrenched there for twenty years. There 
is so much Roman masonry in the city and so many Roman relics 
that to Queen Boadicea, in those far-off days, it must have seemed 
that not alone Colchester, but the whole island of Britain, would 
be forever under the Roman yoke. 

I passed Hadleigh Castle, a gaunt old pile centering a grassy knoll 
where for years lived Cunning Murrell, the last and greatest of the 
Essex wizards. In the mud flats of Deadman's Bay, Mucking Flats, in 
the reedy reaches of Foulness, Fisherman's Head, and the loneliness 
of Canvey's Point, widgeon, brant geese, mallard, and teal, curlews 
and oxbirds, green and golden plover were killed not only by "King" 
Cunning, but by a raft of "they witches an* curies." For Essex once 
had a whole community of renowned wizards, all fighting for su- 
premacy in both local and "furrin" recognition. 

St. PeterVon-the-Wall is as winning as its name. Built in the 

114 



seventh century by St. Chad upon the ruins of a Roman brick wall, 
this tiny chapel holds daily service, with half the congregation lined 
up single file along the wall. Sea gulls fly in and out the windows, and 
prayers and hymns resound to the open sky. 

The wild coast of Essex around Maldon has the distinction of tall, 
waving green grasses and myriads of marsh water flowers. Great 
swaths of wild iris, sapphire-blue and purple, bog rose, a sharp pink, 
reflect in water until it seems as if molten Persian enamel glazed the 
windy reaches of the sea. 




The Rochford Hundred of Essex in which the ancient village of 
Canewdon lies has long been called "the witch country," From a 
headland above the sea called Canute's Dune or Hill (from a cor- 
ruption of Canute's Dune the village takes it name), I could see 
the great soaring tower of St. Nicholas' Church rising on the far bank 
of the River Crouch. In 1416 King Henry V built the church to com- 
memorate his victory at Agincourt. Above the west door are placed 
in mural form three huge escutcheons. The stone carving is much 
effaced by wind and weather; the middle shield bears the arms of 
Henry V, the right-hand one those of his mother, Mary de Bohun. 

"5 



It is generally accepted by historians that during October, 1016, 
King Canute encamped upon this hill, the night before the Battle 
of Ashingdon. In this battle, during which the Saxons, under their 
king, the valiant "gold-beard" Edmund Ironside, were utterly routed, 
the Danish occupation of this part of England was firmly welded. 

But Canewdon was ancient long before Saxon or Dane trod its 
dunes. Where the tower of St. Nicholas stands today a Roman of- 
ficersubordinate in the Comes Litoris SaKonid was stationed to 
man a beacon. When Henry V erected the church, he "decreed a 
Ian thorn aloft" so that his commemorative tower should continue 
the duty of lighthouse to serve fishermen and sailors coasting the 
"Essex Sea" notoriously treacherous at this point for shifting sand- 
bars. Aside from the beauty and power of the ascending stone but- 
tresses that embrace the tower like archangels' wings, it is the tales 
of the Witches' Sabbath, purported still to be held in the shadow 
of the tower, that are of greatest moment. As long as the tower stands, 
so legend runs, there will always be six witches living in the village, 
"three in silk and three in cotton." Moreover, when one of these 
witches dies, a stone will fall from the church wall (to be mysteriously 
replaced by unseen hands) as another witch takes her place. Because 
of its remote position on a lovely but lost coast, traversed by no 
railway line, Canewdon has remained a pocket of witch beliefs and 
superstitions. 

Audley End, built in 1603, is a great Italianate house, described by 
Robert Adam as "the apogee of Grand Ducal arrogance in Renais- 
sance taste." It stands near Saffron Walden wrapped in memories 
of the days when Jacobites used its four "hide-holes" or secret rooms 
to hatch plot and counterplot until finally the house was garrisoned, 
as if under siege, by watchful troops. Rising above the site of a 
Benedictine Abbey, the ancient crypts were turned into wine cellars 
where today a visitor may roam at will. It is rather like threading a 
maze, so circuitous are the passages, redolent of the fragrance of 
housing centuries of vintage wines. 

At Haverhill I crossed into Suffolk. The last sight I had of Essex 
pargetting was a tiny man on a scaffold with a long bone "rowler" 
(rowel) in his hand, drawing freehand birds on a wet plaster wall. 
Above him the roof held a compelling spectacle a stand of tre- 
mendous chimney stacks. I am sure these dated from Henry VIIFs 
reign. He doted upon arranging on a table red-painted clay blocks 
into chimney-stack patterns, then having a court draughtsman draw 

116 



the design. He would send this to a friend with a note, which was a 
royal command, of course, to have this chimney stack carried out for 
him to criticize when next he journeyed to whatever house. Like 
pargetting on walls, it became the rage to have one's roof-line sprout 
chimneys designed by Harry Tudor. In this instance, hexagonal, 
octagonal, serpentine-twisted and chequerboard brick, all crenelated, 
the stacks seemed to cling together for protection against a high wind 
that had suddenly sprung up. 



Chapter 7 



A GREAT GENTLEMAN IS THE 

SUFFOLK PUNCH. CHEQUERBOARD 

BRICK HOUSES OF NORFOLK 



IT ALWAYS seems to me a great wonder that Lavenham, surely one 
of the serene medieval villages on earth, can be but seventy-four 
miles from London. Yet this, of all Suffolk towns, is little known 
and infrequently explored. More the marvel considering that fifty 
miles away along the Suffolk coastline are such fishing ports and 
watering places as Felixstowe, Aldeburgh, Southwold, and Lowestoft, 
which have their large clientele. 

Suffolk is primarily an inland county, with a shy, secluded grace 
in presenting its treasures. The yeoman farmers, even the younger 
generation, are content with anonymity. Peaceful as Suffolk appears 
today, before the Norman Conquest it was a fiercely embattled land. 
Sandy beaches, meadowlands, and castle baileys ran with the blood 
of Danes (many Danish Christian names still persist in this region 
of East Anglia), and the blood of Angles, Romans, and those savage 
marauders, Icenic tribes, who fought naked, save the chieftains who 
battled garbed in mantles of woven tree bark. Nature is Suffolk's 
unconquerable enemy. No continuous line of coast can show more 
dramatic despoiling. The leaden gray North Sea encroaches inexor- 
ably year after year from Great Yarmouth to Orford Ness to Bawdsey 
and Felixstowe. A score of towns that were once, as Erasmus wrote, 
"richly churched, the merchants housed in splendour, and all by 
wool alone," are no more, having been with agonizing slowness de- 
voured by the sea. 

But Lavenham, the rich wool center of all East Anglia for three 
hundred years, though in no fear of the sea, had machinery to con- 

118 



tend with. It was a bitter fight. Little iron wheels and spindles that 
did the work of a thousand hands conquered. Long streets of hand- 
some black-and-white plaster and oak timber houses, some of the 
larger ones mansions of wealthy wool merchants, are now lived in 
quietly, some in shuttered silence. 




The ancient Wool Hall is a mellowing structure where one enters 
through an impressive doorway to a Great Trading Hall, paneled in 
oak. Here are arranged carved oak stalls for the wool merchants to 
"maunder and mope and bid each other out of countenance." 

The De Vere House in Water Street is built of golden-lichened 
brick, so "strengthened" with flint in the Suffolk fashion of brick- 
making that the walls glow with the blue-purple to rose softness. 
Carvings of warriors armored in full panoply and notables of Laven- 
ham, such as scholars, royal constables, and members of the "wool 
great," wearing long gowns, the hanging sleeves unexpectedly 
wrapped trainwise around the wearers' feet, frame the entrance 
door. The timbering of De Vere House is carved in trellis design 
with a richness of detail that can rarely have been surpassed in a 
county remarkable for splendid half -timbering. 



A fantastic assortment of materials was used by Suffolk artisans 
and builders to compose bricks and square stones known locally as 
"lodecrag," in building the great "wool churches" of fourteenth- to 
sixteenth-century construction that rear flat-topped square towers to 
dominate village and countryside. Frequently ten to twelve materials 
were employed chalk, schist, London clay, greensand, red crag, slate, 
Suffolk crag, to name a few. 

Interiors of houses in Lavenham follow a pattern varying only in 
motif, and are a feast of plaster work contrasting sharply with cross- 
hatched black-oak timbering on white, or a subtle primrose yellow 
wall. These elusive shades of springtime yellow and a delicate peach 
pink are gained by lightly dipping the whitewash brush in powdered 
sulphur or terra cotta respectively. At De Vere House the principal 
apartments are spaciously proportioned, the banqueting hall a won- 
der of inventive plaster ornament indicative of the chase. The nobly 
massive Guildhall in Lavenham was once held as the richest reposi- 
tory for minted gold coin in the realm. This is now more or less a 
museum for a magnificent display of early medieval oak furniture. 

I left Lavenham at the moment a full moon rose above the trees, 
silhouetting the massive Norman tower of the church in black density 
rimed in silver gilt. The white houses stood out luminous as alabaster, 
the perfection of a miniature village, a carved plaything, a foible for 
meditation on a proposed building scheme. 

About four miles west of Yarmouth is Burgh Castle, a striking 
example of Roman building. The Romans called this curiously 
shaped headland of rock Garianonum. Nineteen hundred years ago 
slaves built this mighty drum-shaped fortress in record time, to guard 
the estuary against recurrent Icelandic pirate raids and against up- 
risings of unregenerate Britons. The outer walls cover nearly six 
acres of ground. The unusually squat bastions are not over sixteen 
feet high albeit ten feet in thickness. Stratas of "courses," alternating 
red and black flint and plum-colored brick, are divided by string- 
pieces of red crag. Even today in its semiruined state the undulating 
walls resemble the girdle of a giantess, woven in the broad stripes 
of a Roman scarf. 

The village of Eyke has one long street lined with brick and flint 
houses on one side, white plaster fronts with black-oak timbering 
on the other. At one end of the High Street, raising a grandly propor- 
tioned Norman tower against the sky, is the church, patterned in 
flint, brick, and greensand blocks, the texture variegated, shimmering 

1250 



in the sunlight. The name of this old market town was once Ike. An 
enormous key hangs in a prominent place on the vestry wall in Eyke 
Church. The key was cut so that its wards spelled out IKE. 

Ipswich, with its museum called Christchurch Mansion, is a large, 
thoroughly agreeable market town, once highly placed in the wool 
trade, gaining additional importance by an annual horse fair. Ipswich 
appears to be situated in a flowery mead. Each cottage or farmhouse 
has a garden plot, and flowers luxuriate in this chalky soil. Roofing 
of thatch is predominant here. Half timbering is unusually vigorous 
in East Anglia country districts. Medieval "timberers" used gnarled 
oak trunks and branches split in half. Approaching Ipswich I crossed 
arched bridges contrived in the Roman manner of dry-laid thin red 
brick, and, in one case, a three-arched bridge, in which bricks of a 
yellow cast had been used, colored by the dried lichen that had been 
employed to bind the clay. 

After driving northwest from Ipswich for about forty miles, I 
arrived at Barton Mills where, at the Bull Inn, Elizabeth and the 
Earl of Leicester stayed. A long, wandering wall structure of white- 
washed stone is accented by tall massed flint chimneys. The rooms 
each personage occupied are shown with undisguised aplomb by the 
landlord. His self-assurance is based on the fact that, regardless of 
claims laid by other inns to having entertained the perambulating 
Gloriana, he has records which prove she honored The Bull. It would 
appear that although Elizabeth disdained incognito or secrecy, she 
was unattended by her vast retinue when she traveled with Leicester. 

The queen loved Suffolk as much as her sire loved Kent. She often 
sent that unwanted pair of lavishly fringed and embroidered gloves 
to some nobleman or country squire who owned a manor house in 
Suffolk, intimating it was not only her desire but her firm intention 
to "make a progress" to his gates, accompanied by whichever favorite 
at the time occupied "the red velvet cushion at the foot of the throne," 
as the phrase ran. 

There is an entertaining side light on such a progress made by 
Queen Elizabeth when she visited at Somerleyton Hall near Lowes- 
toft. She arrived on August nineteenth and remained until the 
twenty-first. The cost of her visit amounted to one hundred and seven 
pounds, nine shillings for the first day, and one hundred and four 
pounds, twelve shillings for the second, considerable sums at the 
time. 

Somerleyton Hall is on view today. A greater part of the house 



remains as Elizabeth must have seen it. There are fine Grinling 
Gibbons carvings in the library. Tapestries in great number are 
notable, and the gardens are among the finest in England. 

In remote country churches all over England at matins and even- 
song the congregation sometimes numbers three to five souls on 
weekdays and fifteen at the outside on Sundays. Visitors to these 
moribund places may possibly come upon members of a strange cult 
called "church-brass rubbers/' I wandered into Orford Church one 
day to see the molded stone altar badge, a Norman relic from the 
battlefield of Framlingham. In the calm which rests like a pall over 
these unfrequented churches, I saw a woman lying prone on the cold 
stones of the chancel. At first I thought perhaps this was a kind of 
Thomas-a-Becket murder in the cathedral. Then I heard paper rustle 
and the woman rose, holding a long piece of charcoal-smudged tracing 
paper at arm's length. It was then I saw that she had been obtaining 
a rubbing of remarkably decorative floor brasses. Like funeral 
hatchments hung above a sarcophagus or a recumbent effigy on a 
tomb, comniemoratory figures of the departed, deeply etched in brass, 
were a medieval conceit. 

The brass at Orford, dated 1490, depicts a surprisingly tall Lady 
Cobbold standing, her hands steepled in prayerful pose, surrounded 
by her ten children. Three small boys in long pleated gowns, called 
houplands, stand at one knee while her daughters, each girl habited 
precisely like her mother, kneel at the other side facing their brothers. 
Mother and brood are all smiling broadly. As a piece of sheer design 
this arrangement is rather startling at first glance. Owing to the 
almost grotesque height of Lady Cobbold, wearing a peaked hennin 
and carefully folded veils, and the closely packed children at her 
feet, all of whom appear to range in age from five years to ten years, 
the impression is given of a perpendicular church tower surrounded 
at the base by gabled houses, as I have seen in many a typical Suffolk 
medieval wool town. 

In Peasenhall Old Church the parish house contains a small mu- 
seum. There is a folio of brass rubbings made by some local en- 
thusiast, very expertly done in India ink on tracing paper. A history 
showing the headdresses of different centuries has been gleaned from 
many brasses matriced into the stone floors of dusty churches. Here 
are shown ladies progressing from coverchief and nebule to later 
horned, wimpled, butterfly, and pedimental styles of hennin. Knights, 
too, are shown with their coiffes de maille and basinets, the gentle- 

122 



men in the caps designating their academical, legal, and civilian 
status. In one rubbing, dated 1508, a sporting squire, Sir Marma- 
duke Bodey of Coddenham, holds a hawk on his wrist while two 
little boys standing at either knee, presumably his sons, being in every 
line of feature and hunting habit counterpart of himself, also hold 
diminutive hooded birds which appear no larger than swallows. An 
original note is struck here by a litter or a farrowing of strange 
elongated animals, whether piglets or puppies I could not fathom; 
they are lying stretched out in a row precise as peas in a pod. 

In Long Melford I lunched at the ancient hostelry, Melford Inn, 
and ate roast pigeon, delicately flavored with fresh herbs ground in 
a stone pestle so that all the juice was retained. "Puffed-up" potatoes, 
which turned out to be glorified potato chips, hot, crisp, and buttery, 
and a salad of cauliflower, green beans, and shallots dressed in lemon 
juice and oil were served. I drank the Melford ale, dark-brown and 
rich in tang. 

Near Framlingham I saw five teams of Suffolk Punch being walked 
on long lead reins by young farm lads. After admiring the huge- 
rumped, grandly-muscled horses, their satin-smooth hides the color 
of champagne, I inquired whither bound. 

"We 'ur off to t' fair nigh Stowmarket 'n Bury St. Edmunds/' one 
lad replied. 

Framlingham Castle excites wonder by its originality in design and 
situation, high and lonely. A towered curtain supports one polygonal 
and twelve square towers. The Angel Hotel is perched on Angel 
Hill as sort of pendant to the massive Norman gateways of thirteenth- 
century construction which pierce the high wall of the Abbey pre- 
cincts. The gray portals of the Athenaeum rising higher than the 
dignified mansions clustered on Angel Terrace cause one to remem- 
ber that this town once held assizes as county town of West Suffolk. 
It was also of great social importance, a magnet for the arts, music, 
dancing assemblies, the theater. Mrs. Siddons, after her first tour of 
the provinces, described her audiences as "the only provincials who 
understand Shakespeare as I do myself, nor do they hesitate to let 
me know it." 

I had no difficulty in finding the place "nigh Stowmarket 'n Bury 
St. Edmunds," for a steady stream of men and women, some on foot, 
some pedaling bicycles, others riding in a varied assortment of con- 
veyances, had the same idea as I had to be "first at the fair." From 
a slight rise near the Woolpit, an ancient cloth market, I surveyed 

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the rousing country fair. Here was an English yeoman's day, straight 
out of a story book, for no race takes greater pleasure in viewing 
livestock and airing their opinions. 

I arrived at the enclosure just in time to witness one of my favorite 
events at these occasions, the judging of brood mares with foal at 
foot. Engaging interest was the gayety of the infant creatures, the 
sportive pride shown when they lifted tiny hooves and switched their 
fat little quarters, plus the absurdity of the scrap of tow-colored tail, 
perked up into a Psyche knot. Here were twenty or more, in age 
from three weeks to three months, and every one of them was irre- 
sistible. 

A man announced through a megaphone the winning mare: 
"Champion brood-mare Doddington's Barrow Flirt of Pakenham 
and her foal by county champion Restoration King of Barrington 
Court Farm." 

I noted that not all horses on view were Suffolk Punch, but the 
two hundred odd that were of this breed were unmistakable by their 
rotund or "jouncy" to use the local word conformation. The Punch 
is not formed on nearly the massive scale of the Clydesdale, the 
Shire horse, or French cheval de perche. The Punch is richly fleshed, 
chunky, has a close-coupled barrel, short muscular legs, and magnifi- 
cently arched and muscled neck. His fetlocks are "clean shaven' ' in 
contrast to luxuriantly flowing "feathers" of the monumental Shire 
horse. One of the greatest points to observe when judging a Punch is 
the softness and gleam of the hide. The mane and tail of a Punch are 
braided in loops and tied up in red, blue, yellow, or green silk 
thread, or, for show purposes, ribbon. To attract attention to the 
horse, rosettes are placed at intervals along the crest. But when all 
visual points and decoration to complete the proper "look" have 
been considered, the most salient points are the sweet temper, gentle 
disposition, and impeccable manners of the breed Suffolk Punch. 
In the animal kingdom there is nothing like it. My grandfather 
Reynolds once said to me, "The Punch is the greatest gentleman of 
the equine world, or any animal on four legs, for the matter of that, 
and a damn sight greater than most humans on two/' 

In the judging for young stallions aged three years, which have 
covered one mare or more, the ribbon was awarded to High Honiton 
Breakwater of Kersey. He was run around the judging lot, the 
muscles of his magnificent neck rippling under pale cafe-au-lait hide, 
his sapphire blue ribbon cockades bobbing in the breeze. The cheers 

124 



that he aroused rang to the far walls of the precincts of Bury. This 
fair, the essence of the rural scene in England, takes place twice a 
year in May and in September. 

The cloth we know as Kersey, once as familiar to the world as 
worsted is today, was made at a Suffolk village of that name not far 
from Lavenham. Beautiful in mellowing brick, timber, and pargetted 
houses, Kersey is decaying on its foundations; almost it seems a de- 
serted village. Kersey was once a proud and rich town with large 




houses ornamented in stone. The lichened carvings, armorial and 
floriated, are well worth study as splendid examples of their kind. 
The De Veres, Earls of Oxford, once held a great deal of this land in 
fief, as evidenced by their badge of a boar and mullet carved in the 
walls of Lavenham Church and here at Kersey. 

It is interesting to note that Massachusetts was largely colonized 
by East Anglian folk. In Groton, hard by Kersey, John Winthrop, 
first governor of Massachusetts, was born. 

Suffolk is still premier for its windmills, lovely, though fast- 
vanishing, creations of towers and airy sails. At one time there were 
sixty-five working windmills in the country. Now a kind of desuetude 

125 



has set in. There are only fourteen windmills now in use and eight 
of the millers are women. Pakenham is called the finest mill in the 
county and is still vigorously at work a heartening picture with 
its black flint-brick conical tower and tremendous sweep of white 
sails, revolving majestically against the cobalt sky. There are mills 
at Friston, Woolpit, Debenham, and at Saxtead Green, where mill- 
wright Jessie Wrightman surely a woman of this craft is a rarity 
these days fashions mill stones. She is a tall, strongly built woman 
who dresses stones into a pattern that must have come down from 
ancient civilizations. 

At Thorpeness on the seacoast stands The House in the Clouds, 
a landmark that dominates the flat reaches of sand, gorse-bushes, 
and shaley rock. This is no folly or eccentricity; it is a water tower 
eight stories high, designed to be lived in. A very sizable gabled 
house of three stories is set atop a five-story, square flint-brick tower. 
White shuttered windows look landward and out to sea. Stacks of 
brick chimneys announce that large fireplaces will give comfort, 
cheer, and warmth on the windiest night the North Sea can con- 
jure up. 

Architecturally the Moot Hall at Aldeburgh has great character. 
When the wind whines from off-sea the stones glint with salt spray. 
On the windless days they still glitter from centuries of accumulated 
salt. The sea has gnawed away at the coast until now this ancient 
seat of the Wool Guild stands precariously on a rocky sea ledge. 
Stone, brick, flint, and timber were used to build this interesting 
three-story structure with its sweeping outside staircase and stacks 
of superb chimneys twisted into fantastic shapes. There is a stone 
safe inside in which leather sacks of "wool gold" were once kept to 
pay hundreds of carders and weavers. 

In the Moot Hall there is something even more interesting than 
the great stone safe bound in heavy bands of iron and bronze hard- 
ware, with locks and an immense key. It is a collection of maps, 
dating from 1108 to the present time, tracing with dramatic exacti- 
tude the story of Aldeburgh's long, losing fight against calamity: 
the insuperable odds of merciless wind and wave. 

Little Wenham Grange was built in 1245. I* 1 ^e center of un- 
dulant fields a river runs under the walls to provide water to 
inhabitants of the oldest fortified residence in England. It is not 
a grim castle but a pleasant manor house. There is a great banquet- 
ing Hall with lofty mullioned windows, deeply embrasured stone 

126 



window seats, and cavernous fireplaces. Above these, huntsmen with 
hounds at leash, falconers, and herds of leaping roe deer are carved 
with such vitality that one almost expects to hear the baying, wind- 
ing of the hunting horns, and the shouts of huntsmen rejoicing at 
hounds bringing down the quarry. An engaging touch is little stone 
seats shaped like mushrooms, set in alcoves let into the walls at one 
side of the fireplaces. Here the "spit-boys" (sometimes called "Blister 
Jackos") could sit to turn a roasting-spit and avoid being roasted 
themselves. 

Since Plantagenet days Norfolk has been a battleground in the 
blow-hot-blow-cold status of England's internecine warfare, particu- 
larly at times when the throne was at stake. "Banners of princes 
against the sky obscured the sun of noonday," a herald told Richard 
II (of Bordeaux) when bringing news of Bolingbroke's and Arundel's 
duplicity. Richard, when languishing but, as he thought, secure from 
his enemies, at Conway Castle in Wales and later at Flint and Leeds 
and Pontefract when awaiting death, wrote endless letters, harping 
on the fact that had Norfolk (the county not the man) been true and 
staunch to his cause, he would not find himself, nor all England, 
"in such sorry case." 

Norwich contends that her history dates from the time of Queen 
Boadicea, who built a fort there in her ceaseless and eventually 
successful harassing of the Roman legions. The See of Norwich was 
established as early as 1095. A pilgrimage chapel dedicated to a 
nameless hermit who healed lepers and the victims of recurrent 
plagues, first stood on the site of the present cathedral. Flemish 
weavers established themselves in Norwich around 1334, and brought 
the first prosperity to the city. Norwich Castle, started in 1070, took 
twenty years to complete. Twice the walls were riven by fire. In 
1 138 the now partially ruined keep was built. This is a massive hulk 
of dry-laid boulder rock exceeded in size only by Colchester, the 
mightiest square keep in existence, and the great circular keep of 
Windsor. 

I walked up the winding path at one side of the keep as a moon 
rose over the city. The moon is a kindly guardian to these ancient 
piles of masonry. Bathed in her light they seem to lose their scars, 
no matter how battered the walls by men's war machines. All through 
the night I had walked the battlements, envisioning the battles, the 
victories, or the defeats, to which these mighty stones had rung. No 

127 



brighter, I am sure, were the gorgeous emblazoned banners in the 
van of some ducal host, assembled in front of the barbican to storm 
the walls, than the banners of sunrise, red and orange, fading quickly 
to pink and saffron-green that turned the hoary walls of Norwich 
Keep to painted stone. 

In the cloister precincts of the Cathedral, resting under delicately 
articulated arches of an ambulatory, is the grave of Edith Cavell, 
whom the Belgians called Saint Edith. 

Visitors are told that Norwich has thirty-four churches, twenty- 
two more than any other cathedral city in England. The Church of 
St. Peter Mancroft seems almost too delicately constructed to have 
stood the passage of years since 1456. The interior stonework has 
a bluish tingle and the altar has silver garniture. The whole arched 
stone nave has the quality of a water color painting of a shadowy 
grotto shrine, somehow lacking the sharpness and hard lineaments 
of reality. If St. Peter Mancroft was the work of a visionary, his 
church is the vision. 

For seven hundred years the Great Hospital of St. Giles has ad- 
ministered alms to the needy. Henry VIII had long intended to 
grant to the city of Norwich a patent and certain monies for main- 
tenance to put the hospital under royal patronage. But it was not 
until after his death that the actual letters were issued under the seal 
of Edward VI. Then Elizabeth stepped into the picture. Once at 
the helm she endowed the hospital handsomely. A great plaque, 
floridly carved with armorial bearings, tells a long story of Hemy, 
of his unfortunate son Edward, and his stupendous daughter Eliz- 
abeth. In this eulogy of triple Tudor munificence, it is a shade 
startling to find that the original founder, Bishop Suffield, is com 
pletely ignored, although it was he "the fighting bishop" who 
barricaded the doors for weeks during the holocaust of the dissolu- 
tion and so valiantly defended his charge that "no lock nor bolt was 
broken in." 

The entrance to St. Giles Hospital is from St. Helen's Square, 
a spacious, partly grassed quadrangle bordered on two sides by 
imposing medieval houses featuring carved and iron-strapped Nor- 
man doorways. Here we have the heart of high medievalism, for not 
so much as an electric wire is visible to mar the ancient aspect of 
"my most ancient See of Norwich," as Queen Elizabeth styled the 
city in her patent of endowment. 

The renowned Cloister of St. Giles at noonday is a wide corridor 

128 



of mysterious latticing. Light and shadow stripes the white walls and 
morticed stone pavings as the sun spills in through hundreds of 
arches divided by slender columns. 

To me the most compelling treasure in all Norwich is the carved 
and painted ceiling in the upper ward of the chancel at St. Giles. I 
have long had great interest in painted ceilings. I believe nothing 
in decoration lends such style to a room. In old documents pertain- 
ing to vacillating royal favor, this upper ward is written down as the 
Eagle Room. Crossbeams pattern the roof in large squares; a carved 
boss featuring an angel's head with tightly set curls marks each 
intersection. On each pinkish-gold panel is painted a sable heraldic 
eagle, wings spread, beak "angered" or agape, clasping in its talons 
a naked sword. The elegance, the vitality of black wing pinions, 
stark as a sword thrust against tender pink, is great design. The 
eagles are believed to commemorate Anne of Bohemia. Richard II 
and his queen visited Norwich in 1383 and Anne is known to have 
given to the prior a large purse to be dispersed in alms. Under this 
ceiling stands an ancient oak refectory table. The board is thirty 
feet long, forty inches wide, and eight inches thick, hand hewn from 
a Norwich oak tree in 1208, its surface polished to darkest bronze 
from centuries of use. Like the Great Bed of Ware, this table is 
internationally celebrated. 

Managed with great pomp and stylish appointments, the Hospital 
has its own swannery. The first swan pits date from 1275 when 
Edward I visited Norwich and was so impressed by his reception at 
St. Giles he presented the abbot with "twenty cygnets under a 
henne," with the stipulation that after swan-upping a male bird be 
sent him to grace his Christmas table. This "gift in perpetuity" is 
still sent the sovereign at Christmas. In Birkbeck Hall hang charts, 
pictures, folios some of which are embroidered and painted and 
even spangled ribbons, of all the "swan marks" used in Norfolk, a 
bewildering array of colorful garniture. 

Norwich rewards the wanderer, the seeker after odd corners and 
hidden byways, with such spots as Apple-Tommy Mews and Don't- 
Go-Farther Alley. Walk down cobbled Elm Hill, a backwater of old 
gabled houses, painted pale yellow, roofed in old red overlapping 
pantiles, big as wash-boards, where you will see window boxes drip- 
ping petunias and nasturtiums, a basket of ripe peppers or tomatoes, 
and a hanging brace of Norfolk ducks, a prime specialty here. I had 
lunch at The Bell, built in 1605; each room, opening from long 

130 



winding passages, appears to be on a different level. Maid's Head 
Hotel, opened in 1285, third oldest hostelry in England, won me for 
dinner. The dining room is beamed and distinguished by "tracery" 
plaster work boldly conceived. 

The port of Great Yarmouth, next on my journey, once resounded 
to the bustle and vigor of shipbuilding; its small sea-coal forges once 
hammered out the short swords and pikes for Plantagenet kings. I 
stayed the night in a small fishing pub, The Net and Trawler. I ate 
the fat, succulent oysters of this region and halibut pie. I drank deep 
of mild and bitter ale out of old, blackened, highly unsanitary 
ox-hide mugs, thai looked like leather mittens, and joined in the 
boisterous singing o sea-chanteys; the unvarnished frankness of the 
words would have caused the baudiest Billingsgate fishwife envy. 

Like scores of seaports along the coast of Kent, Sussex, Suffolk, 
and Norfolk, Great Yarmouth has had its day. There is still activity, 
a spate of shipbuilding and fishing, and a few ships from faraway 
ports still warp in at Old Port Quay. Medieval iron foundries and 
armor forges are no more. But to me the Long Quay retains the 
unquenchable romance of sails, masts, and rigging, and salty talk in 
many dialects is heard in the narrow-front, high-gabled pubs with 
story-book names. The moon had risen early, but clouds had partially 
obscured its light. The clouds drifted away, the moon carpeted in 
silver a wide stretch of sea. 

I walked along the quay ruminating on harbors I have seen in 
disparate parts of the world, their allure and the pull upon my 
senses their memory exerts; then my mind was brought back to Yar- 
mouth. Passing was a "drowsy ship" of some older day, the all but for- 
gotten poetry of sailing moving silently out to sea. I paused beside 
the parapet to watch. Presently, leaning out of the shadows of light 
surface mist, a half dozen or more tall brown-winged barges in 
stately procession passed the white yachts at anchor and took the 
silver swath, low-settled, blunt prows frothing the water in phos- 
phorescent plumes of spray. The attractive smoldering color of the 
sails is the result of frequent dressing with oil and red ocher. It 
keeps rigging and sails supple. The mixture is never allowed to dry, 
so it comes off on sailors' jerseys or naked torsos to pattern arms and 
chest in dags and stripes of blood red. 

The Norfolk barge or "huller" was sailing up the Thames to 
London when Queen Elizabeth met her nobles at Tilbury. A barge 
of this type carried eager Henry V along the coast to inspect ships 



being built in every port and cove along the cliffs for his invasion of 
France. Some persons call these sailing barges clumsy; "mumbsey- 
bumbsey waller-boats of Norfolk's fussy waters" runs an old song of 
Thames boatmen. But to me there is integrity and grand scale in 
the construction, something satisfying in their mighty timbers, heavy 
pitch pine spars, massive spade-shaped rudders, the oily red bronze 
mainsail and foresail sheet. Yes, here are the "drowsy English ships/' 
as Henry V called them. 

Blickling Hall near Alysham is often called the finest expression of 
Jacobean style in the land. Certainly the most notable work of 
architect Robert Lyminge, it is a warm, friendly, spaciously planned 
house set in a lovely expanse of sheep-cropped green lawns within 
a moated space. 

Blickling was built for Sir Henry Hobart, Lord Chief Justice, in 
1625, from rose-red bricks of a particularly velvety texture, taken 
from a dismantled older moated manor house. A lofty hall set be- 
tween the two courtyards contains the magnificent oak Jacobean 
staircase redesigned in the eighteenth century by Ivory, to divide 
into two "swallow-wing" flights. Soon after this alteration Horace 
Walpole "arbiter of everything under the sun, including Inferno" 
as Lord Chatham said of him, visited at Blickling. His curiosity to 
see and place his seal of approval or the reverse on notable houses 
caused him to opine, "Were I to admire brickwork, I should admire 
Blickling. I call the staircase splendid. The treads are commodious 
and the rake suits my carriage." In other words, Horace was im- 
pressed. 

The exquisite ceilings of the great drawing room and long gallery 
are Jacobean plaster work at its finest. The bedrooms furnished in 
chinoiserie taste are hung with delightful wallpapers. A room called 
the Gateway Chamber is hung in pink-and-green Chinese paper, 
depicting in the gayest possible manner a water picnic, given by a 
rotund, smiling emperor for a bevy of willowy concubines in a 
flowery landscape, which appears to drift in some enchanting Never 
Never Land above the clouds. 

Holkham Hall emphasizes the grand manner of living. It was 
built by Thomas Coke who, in more ways than one, was an extraor- 
dinary man. At heart he was a country squire, deeply in love 
with the land, inordinately proud of his herds of blooded cattle, 
sheep, and pigs. Indeed, he had himself painted with a prize Hereford 
bull, a picture he fancied so much that he took it as a personal device, 



Coke and Bull. In 1730 Thomas Coke of Norfolk was created First 
Earl of Leicester, and then the dam burst. It burst in a shower of 
gold, allied with enthusiasm for an idea all wrapped round with 
impeccable taste. He made no bones about the fact that he would 
engage the greatest architect and artists in the country to build him 
an edifice perfectly to house his ever-growing collection of antique 
statues, paintings, books, Greek and Roman intaglios, and manu- 
scripts, the magnificence of which would ring down the ages like a 
clarion call. Lord Leicester combined tremendous wealth with a 
singularly fine taste in classic art. He chose men to carry out his 
ideas with a sure knowledge of their talents. William Kent, a newly 
risen star in the architectural field, was given carte blanche. 

The house has a long facade of ivory-white stone. The central mass, 
dominated by the great portico, is flanked by sets of "engaged" 
wings. Balustrades, three score chimneys in themselves greatly decora- 
tive against the sky, and three beautifully graceful curved staircases 
leading to the elevated first floor set above an entresol of massive 
rustico stone, lend an "airy pavilion" quality to what otherwise might 
be a ponderous frontage. Vitruvius and Palladio were well served 
in the exterior visual sweep of Holkham, but it is the interior that 
makes the deeper impression in the magnitude of smooth and fluted 
marble columns and wide, enriched cornices. 

Inigo Jones designed the wealth of coffered ceilings and carved 
marble chimney pieces. The splendor of color and craftsmanship of 
these alone is well worth a visit. In all the reception rooms the fur- 
niture of white gessoed wood, superbly accented with gold leaf and 
covered in claret, white, sapphire, crimson, sun-yellow, violet, or 
Veronese green velvet and satin damasks, was especially designed for 
Holkham by William Kent. Exceptional is the Roman basilica hall, 
composed of fifteen different kinds of marble, and the library where 
gilded and jeweled parchment bindings vie in beauty with tooled 
Cordovan leather and calfskin in richest reds. 

King's Lynn, visited next, was called Bishop's Lynn or Lynn 
Episcopi until 1537, when Henry VIII changed its name by letters 
patent. This elaborate document, dripping with a veritable waterfall 
of great red seals and gold cords in true Tudor extravagance for 
public show, can be seen in the Town Hall. Long before the Norman 
Conquest the manor of Gaywood had been a perquisite of the richly 
landed East Anglian bishops. 

In 1094 Bishop Herbert de Losinga founded at Lynn the Church 

133 



of St. Margaret as an act of penance, vowing he had obtained the 
bishopric by simony. King John, who frequently and openly pro- 
fessed "my cheer and happy dalliance at your good town" granted 
the town a charter in 1204. 

The King, toward the end of 1216, had traipsed all around East 
Anglia. His favorite stamping ground was Norfolk; Norwich saw 
him briefly, then Framlingham. He appeared suddenly in the middle 
of a stormy night at the Bishop's Close at Lynn, saying he would rest 
awhile, until his straggling baggage train should catch up with him. 
Next day, in a more or less haphazard journey, he crossed The Wash 
from Norfolk into Lincolnshire in the teeth of a howling October 
gale charged with sleet and promise of snow. But Mischance, his 
nemesis all during life, played him a very scurvy trick. His barge, 
because of mistiming, got caught in the treacherous shifting sands 
obscured by snow and an advancing tide. It was swamped, and 
though his life was spared, the King lost the Crown of England and 
a great treasure. Not long afterward at Newark-on-Trent he died 
from indulging in peaches washed down with sour wine of inferior 
quality. * 

In King's Lynn two extraordinarily spacious squares are desig- 
nated as Saturday Market Place extending in a wide-paced square 
on the north side of St. Margaret's Church and Tuesday Market 
Place, even larger. This is something unique in England today, these 
public squares without a serious blemish among their surrounding 
buildings. Norman, Palladian, Christopher Wren (Charles II), and 
Georgian fronts attract the eye. The Duke's Head, the marvelously 
well designed hotel (by Bell of Lynn who designed the Custom 
House), fronts Tuesday Market Place. The Globe Hotel, on the same 
street, is smartly black and white, not half timbered, but of white- 
washed Georgian walls, pointed up with black trim with brilliant 
scarlet geraniums in black window boxes. At the west end of Satur- 
day Market Place stands the ancient Town Hall, originally the Hall 
of Holy Trinity Guild, pre-eminent in the wool trade, as well as 
wielding tremendous power in the shipping monopolies of East 
Anglia. The high gabled front is patterned in light pink and dark 
claret-red brick in chequerboard design, indicative of Norfolk. A 
hugely scaled Gothic window is divided into eight lancets by stone 
mullions. These are so delicately carved that the entire end of the 
building seems composed of frets in silver lace, set into a frame of 
shaded rose, too illusive, it would seem, to be solid masonry. There 

134 



are entire streets in the town lined with Dutch gable houses, many 
in chequerboard brick. These were built by the "wool great" from 
Holland. 

At St. George's Hall in 1445 a Nativity play "with fire, dragons, 
goyles, and Hell" was given with the local lady o the manor, Lady 
Bardolf, as chief guest. Old councilors' books show this Hall was 
used as a playhouse between 1593 and 1633. Shakespeare's itinerant 
company is said to have performed some of his plays here. 

As treasure of great beauty and worth, King's Lynn possesses the 
rare King John's Cup, "a cupp called King John's cupp with a cover 
enammelled fyne." The earliest known mention is in documents of 
1548, Experts who have examined it give the date as roughly 1325. 
It is said to be of English origin; the figures in hunting garb are 
compared with those of similar design in the famed Luttrell Psalter 
(1340), the most illuminated work of the time. Composed of blue 
and a curious, burning, matrix green, brilliant champleve enamel, 
men and women of noble or rich merchants' families, in excessively 
elaborate costumes, falcons on wrists, move about in a wooded glade. 

Crossing the River Nene by an arched bridge fashioned from red 
and plum colored rough-texture brick, I came into Cambridgeshire. 
On the touring maps of Britain a large round space, once an island, 
surrounded by floodwaters of the fens in the north of the county, is 
marked Isle of Ely and bounded by the rivers Nene and Great Ouse. 
This is the little known yet wholly fascinating Land of the Fens, 
which occupies a curiously intriguing place in the history of England. 
The fens spell mystery, the mystery of marsh lights, multiple natural 
life, aquatic because of the intricate system of dikes. 

Wisbech, Spalding, Boston, and Lynn, the names are euphonious. 
They were the four rich estuarial ports of The Wash. All save Lynn 
are now many miles from the sea. Boston has three surpassingly beau- 
tiful churches. Wisbech holds aloof in its elegance of Georgian archi- 
tecture. Its riparian planning has produced a parade of riverside 
villas in the truest sense of houses intended for country retreats, 
while allowing occupants the pleasures of embracing urban pursuits. 

There are two delightful inns in Wisbech the Market Day Inn 
and the Rose and Crown, dated 1475. An old sign tells that it was 
originally called Horn and Pheasant. An open gallery surrounds a 
paved courtyard. One entire wall is covered by a giant wisteria vine. 

The first appearance of Ely Cathedral is startling. The castellated 

136 



western tower and pinnacled central octagon surmounting one of 
the longest cathedral roof lines in Christendom provide this medieval 
giant of a church with a distinctive silhouette that borders on that 
of an oriental mosque. 

The nave is a remarkable structure in pale violet-tinted stone, one 
of the marvels of medieval architecture. The central octagon has 
been described as "the only Gothic dome in existence." The roof o 
the nave is adorned with strangely imaginative painting, smoldering 
in dark, turgid color the figures of religious import: saints, canons, 
and martyrs are almost Byzantine in their elongated anatomy. The 
draperies are modeled in profundo brushwork, strongly shadowed 
to result in an astonishingly ebullient effect of ascending heavenward 
in the wavering light of myriad altar candles. 

Cambridge has been called "a pilgrimage for the learned, as the 
Cathedral of Ely is for the devout." The chapel at King's College is 
a building of greatest imaginable beauty. I once spent a Christmas 
at Cambridge. I shall always remember that Christmas Eve, when 
sunlight slanting through the windows jeweled the slender ivory 
piers and mullions and gracefully intertwining fans of the vaulted 
roof. Slowly the colors faded to a faint opalescence, as candles like 
winking stars began to prick the dust. And then a hush, and music 
swelled to the delicate groining of the roof. The buildings of Cam- 
bridge University should be seen together, one after the other. They 
are like a linked chain. Separately, none of them is as fine as when 
seen with its fellows. 

Newmarket resounds to the tap-tap-tap of hooves in the morning 
workout on the wide green Downs, to the thunder of galloping 
horses racing in the afternoon, and the sound of banqueting at night 
when owners of winners spend their gains. James I founded New- 
market and Charles II rode in races there. It is a town of bay- 
windowed fronts, wide streets, and a Regency air of swank, presenting 
the sharp contrast of sportsmen at leisure and thoroughbred horses 
training for stiff races. 

Pliny the Elder wrote of "a plant like plantin, called in Gaul 
glastum with which the wives and daughters of Britons paint their 
bodies in certain ceremonies, which they attend colored like the 
Ethiopian." When Caesar wrote his wise, perceptive, and extremely 
readable Commentaries on the Gallic Wars he mentioned this cus- 
tom. "All Britons," he said, "without exception stain themselves with 
woad (vitrum) which gives them a blue color to make their appear- 

137 



ance more terrible in battle." No one knows just where ancient 
Britons obtained woad. The plant was not native to Britain. 

Woad dyeing of linen and cloth became a profitable industry in 
medieval times. According to old accounts in the late nineteenth 
century at the height of its prosperity, growing and preparing woad 
balls was extremely remunerative* Fortunes were made by woad 
culturers. Some of the finest houses in Wisbech and at Parson's Drove 
were erected with the proceeds of woad blending. The method of 
preparing the dye has remained unchanged from the Middle Ages 
down to the present day, although I learned that the preparing of 
woad for coloring has practically died out now, which seems a pity. 
Just to keep woad alive seems the thing, for there is nothing in all 
the history of the Roman Conquest that evokes such a vivid picture 
of the early Briton. 



Chapters 



RUTLAND'S EMBLEM IS A HORSE- 
SHOE. THE WELDED SHIRES OF 
NORTHAMPTON, HUNTINGDON, 
AND BEDFORD 



RUTLAND landscape features rolling meadows, scattered spin- 
neys o slender aspen, red tasseled ash trees, and crowns of 
oak trees cresting a rise, the limbs reaching to such a distance 
from the parent trunk that the trees appear tremendous in girth, but 
only moderately high. The result is that sky predominates. The sky 
takes over to chequer the fields with drifting cloud shadows. For 
this reason, the smallest county in Britain is frequently called "little 
lowland under the sky." 

I had crossed the northern tip of Northamptonshire by way of 
The Soke to reach Rutlandshire. The county town is Oakham, un- 
commonly distinguished by its entertaining collection of horseshoes. 
This show is far more interesting if you know its history, a story 
which is the very essence of medieval Britain famed for curious quirks 
of the mind. Oakham lies embowered in oaks and hidden away in 
the fertile, farm-dotted Vale of Catmose. From afar off one can place 
the village by the lofty spire of the parish church; this belfry domi- 
nates the scene for miles around. Several hundred horseshoes in all 
sizes and condition are arranged in arresting patterns on the walls of 
the banqueting hall of Oakham Castle, the Norman stronghold built 
in 1190 by Walkelyn de Ferrers, a grandson of William the Con- 
queror's Master of th,e Horse. Tradition states that it was de Ferrers 
who first instituted the horseshoe tax at Oakham Castle. There is an 
old sheepskin document, mildewed, thickly spotted with wine or 

139 



blood, the monkish script nearly indecipherable, which relates that 
the Lord of the Manor of Oakham may demand a tax of one horse- 
shoe, or minted coin in lieu of it, from any royal personage or peer 
of the realm riding through the town for the first time. Underlined 
words continue that should the request be for any untoward reason 
refused, my lord's men-at-arms or townsmen are entitled to remove 
a shoe from the rider's own horse. 

Everything considered, it is a good thing the banqueting hall at 
Oakham Castle is an apartment of grandiose proportions, for the 
collection of horseshoes has grown steadily down the years encom- 
passing eight centuries. Walls of whitened stone are high and wide 
under an arched ceiling of carved oaken beams, oily black with the 
ancient smoke of candles mingling with smoke from fireplaces, to 
gleam dully in the shadows aloft like the bronze once used in molding 
cannon. Painted and bossed, in divers conceits, mounted in silver 
leaf and gold, the horseshoes hang, contributed by numerous Plan- 
tagenet kings, Yorkist and Lancastrian nobles. Richard III is repre- 
sented and the Stuart kings. The first tribute paid by a sovereign 
queen was a "giltened" shoe surmounted by a rose and crown sent 
by Elizabeth I. The arrangement of these horseshoes, many of them 
especially designed to proclaim the donor's privileges in this elabo- 
rate display, has been handled by someone with an eye for arresting 
decoration and a sure sense of showmanship. The colors winked and 
smoldered in pleasing confusion as the afternoon sun lighted one 
wall, suffusing with a dancing glitter the monster horseshoe measur- 
ing seven feet, which represents the "tax" paid by George IV, who 
had incurred the debt when he was first Prince Regent. Perhaps his 
noticeable tardiness explains the fact that this shoe is executed in 
sheer bravado. It is of solid bronze, hammered in cabochon design 
and surmounted by a bow of ribbon with ends fluttering in the man- 
ner of his silk cravat as tied by Mrs. FitzHerbert. He adopted as a 
device on his note paper the crescent which sprouts three Prince of 
Wales plumes. The House of Hanover is represented in contrast. 

Queen Victoria sent a modest shoe, plain and, I should judge, 
cheap, while George VI had specially designed a handsome shoe 
plated in gold. 

Little Bytham, Wissenden, and Mantom were all busily conduct- 
ing Saturday Market as I drove through. Rutlanders are confirmed 
gardeners, be the vegetable garden ever so small. 

At Uppingham, glass of a strange dark plum color and olive green 

140 



flecked in yellow or red, the deep hue seeming to catch fire from 
hearth flame and candlelight reflection, was once blown. This was in 
the days when Henry II was bemused by the virginal beauty of 
Rosemond de Clifford, for he sent her presents of "a glaysse bowll 
and a beaker of Uppyngham for hyerr pleysurr." Because of the heavy 
texture, the mugs, bottles, and bowls were admirable vessels for 
knights to carry in their saddle bags. 

Uppingham glass enjoyed quite a vogue in Elizabethan times 
though the output was never large enough to become more than 
moderate. Now one sees it only in private collections. Glass in any 
form has had a curious, unsettled history in England. We know the 
Saxons used fragile drinking horns, mounted in metal alloys. In 
late Tudor days pewter and silver drinking mugs gave way to glass- 
Venetian goblets for the wealthy, "rough" (heavy) Surrey and Rut- 
land glass for the would-be fashionable. 

Northamptonshire revels in long, green valleys of extreme fertility. 
Many rivers cross and recross the terrain and immensely tall, gnarled- 
branched oak trees shade the villages and manor parks. The Althorp 
collection of porcelains and all the famous English chinas, as well 
as notable pictures, are to be seen at Althorp House near Northamp- 
ton. The present house, a low, wandering structure, was built in 
Elizabeth I's reign. In 1790 Henry Holland was engaged to transform 
the house into fashionable Georgian taste. He incased it in white 
brick and added pediments and flat pilasters, Corinthian capped. 

The picture gallery stretches one hundred and twenty feet of 
warm golden-brown paneling. The walls are hung with Spencer 
family portraits by Lely, Van Dyck, Kneller, and Gainsborough. The 
Marlborough Room contains paintings by Gainsborough, Romney, 
and Sir Joshua Reynolds, including his engaging "conversation 
piece" of two-year-old Lady Georgiana Spencer (afterwards the 
"ravishing Duchess of Devonshire") being held on a window sill by 
her mother, Countess Spencer, who is grasping her pinafore so that 
the child may lean out to feed a bird in a bush. Althorp has been 
the home of the Spencers since 1508 and like Knole has the air of 
long tenure by a cultured family who lived happily from generation 
to generation. 

Within a few miles are three inns of distinct character: the Fox 
and Hounds at Great Brington, the Falcon Hotel at Castle Ashby, 
and another Fox and Hounds (remember we are in renowned hunt- 
ing country) at Marlestone. 

141 



Not far from Banbury is Sulgrave Manor, a representative example 
of a small Elizabethan manor house. Indeed it was once called Sul- 
grave Farm when completed in 1560 by Lawrence Washington, 
direct ancestor of George Washington. Possibly the origin of the 
design for the United States flag is to be found at Sulgrave. Above 
the doorway to the entrance porch Squire Lawrence had carved his 
arms heraldicly "pronouncing" three stars and two stripes. 

The great kitchen draws contented sighs from antiquarians and 
women who still regard an old-fashioned kitchen with oak dressers 
of china, a battalion of pots and skillets, as the "heart of the house." 

This is a strange commentary on a space of land, but when I first 
came to Bosworth Fieldwhose name has for nearly six hundred 
years been kept immediate, told in the market place, shouted to the 
rafters by countless thespians, celebrated for having caused the ter- 
mination of a great and powerful dynasty my first thought was that 
it was a gentle slope, a grassy mead, as English as any in the land. 

It was long ago that Richard of York, coming along the ancient 
way of Roman Watling Street by the Mancetter and Atherstone road, 
camped at night with his half-hearted, insufficient army on one bank 
of the Tweed, close on the meadow-bordered village of Market Bos- 
worth. The first fitful light of morning brought a scout who told 
him Lord Stanley had drawn up behind a copse of beech trees with 
his private army, of seven thousand men, to await the time when he 
could be of service to the winning side. King Richard did not believe 
it. Spies' tales, he scoffed nothing more. The actual battle lasted 
only two hours. We know that when his close friends crowded around 
the sorely pressed man, he rose in his stirrups, suddenly roused, 
wholly Plantagenet. "I will not budge a foot; I will die King of 
England," he replied to their demands that he surrender. In the 
savage fighting of the last minutes the golden Crown of England 
was hacked off his helm and fell unobserved into a bramble bush. 
Later a squire of Henry Tudor espied the crown, glinting in a murky 
sun. Treacherous Lord Stanley servilely placed it upon Henry 
Tudor's head. 

Northamptonshire freestone country is in itself a kind of natural 
wonder. The region of rolling land deeply grassed for grazing flocks 
is a curious phenomenon of nature. There is no suggestion that 
stretching beneath the sward strata of stone in apparently inexhaust- 
ible supply have yielded roughly quarried stone blocks to be tailored 
by craftsmen since Norman times and used to erect such castles and 

142 



country houses as Fortheringhay, the last prison and execution place 
of Mary, Queen of Scots, and "Lovely Lilford," as this grandly pro- 
portioned hall is affectionately called by countrymen who direct one 
to its gates. 

Rockingham Castle, heavy in conception, cumbersome and dour 
of aspect, abuts a valley atop a sharp gradient. Rockingham gains in 
interest as an example of a "fortress place," Norman in this instance, 
built directly over the quarry from whence came its masonry, the 
yawning excavation used as dungeons. Built within the curtain wall 
is a garden planted with over one hundred varieties of roses, trees, 
climbing bush, and vine. The luxury of roses is bordered by tall 
hedges billowing as waves breaking on a green shore of ancient yew. 

In Brigstock houses facing the village green are wide-windowed 
and seem, as one passes, to smile cordially and point toward the 
Norman church with its massive tower and handsomely carved pew 
ends. But I wanted to see Lyveden New Build, for this is a folly in 
white stone, unique in any land. During the reign of Queen Eliza- 
beth, Sir Thomas Tresharn, adamant Catholic, almost a fanatic on 
the subject of the Passion, felt himself so persecuted by his sovereign 
for his religious beliefs that he fled her presence and betook himself 
deep into Northamptonshire where he owned a property. He built 
an ambitious early Renaissance garden pavilion, which he decorated 
in fantastic manner with sculptured marble representations of the 
Passion. It is said the rooms were so crowded with these statues that, 
as his health gave out from fasting and flagellation, the few visitors 
he received could scarcely walk from one room to another. 

Even in plan the house is an oddity. Imagined in cruciform, at the 
end of each arm oriel windows distinguished from the ordinary by 
powerfully molded mullions that once were glazed in red glass rise 
from foundations to eaves' cornice, diffusing light to imitate the fires 
of hell. Though the pavilion is now roofless and has become the 
haunt of rooks and creatures of the field, this cornice is a crown 
of no small interest, being enriched by carved inscriptions from the 
Vulgate. Another interesting feature to emphasize Sir Thomas' pre- 
dilection for carvings in stone and marble is a wide frieze that fol- 
lows all the way around the surface of the high foundation. Closely 
set as links of a chain are shields bearing the emblem once painted 
in the true colors of great English Catholic families. Deathbed por- 
traits became a kind of fashion during the reign of the Tudors. One 
of Sir Thomas Tresham in Peterborough, by an unknown artist, is 

143 



shown three-quarter length. Sir Thomas is emaciated to the point 
of the skeletal. Like a Spanish grandee, he is dressed in somber black 
velvet doublet and hose, unrelieved even by a white ruff. A knotted 
rope, such as is worn by Benedictine monks, is wound halter-wise 
around his wizened throat. A whip of knotted thongs, used in flagel- 
lation, is held horizontally as the Master of Hunt holds his crop. 
Draped over his shoulders is a white shroud. The visage is long, 
sunken of cheek, death already apparent in a fish-belly pallor of the 
flesh, and the martyr grins widely, exposing yellowed teeth to ape 
a death's-head. 

The Cathedra] of Peterborough is more boldly articulated, not 
even excepting cathedrals built as early as 1240, than is usual in the 
English scene. It resembles a magnificent Romanesque basilica more 
than it does a Norman church. It rises grandly against the sky in 
an isolated position which allows one to study its massive buttresses 
and towers to advantage. Here is the fitting background, surely, 
against which royal state and its attendant pageantry have been 
enacted before and after splendor-loving Richard of Bordeaux took 
his bride, Anne of Bohemia, on a splendid progress through the 
Midland shires. He held tourney and "a masque was played in droll 
spirit all" in front of the cathedral porch. One can imagine the bril- 
liance of trappings and festive array, for Richard II never did things 
of this kind by halves. He and his public banquets were immortalized 
in a famous medieval cookery book, The Forme of Cury as "the best 
and ryallest vyander of alle Cristen Kynges." 

The interior of the cathedral is simple in arrangement of massive 
spaces on which plays myriad color from painted glass. The greatest 
attention to carved detail has been lavished on the Norman apsidal 
choir arranged to seat two hundred singers. Peterborough is famous 
all over Europe for its male choir, and the Cathedral's acoustics for 
organ notes and human voices renowned. 

As I journey deeper into the varied counties of England I am more 
conscious than ever of the great amount of architectural beauty, both 
domestic and religious, and the treasures of art in all its facets which 
these edifices contain. Down the centuries of England's long heritage, 
all this has been miraculously preserved, so that now anyone inter- 
ested enough to take the time can see it at leisure. Everywhere, in 
towns, cities, in the wastes of barren fields, loom castles, cathedrals, 
abbeys, and monastic houses in varying states of preservation. The 
abbeys, seemingly unsubstantial as screens of gray lace, undulate in 

144 



changing light like processional banners rippling against the sky. 
Riexaulx, Tynemouth Priory, and Benedictine Whitby Abbey an 
altar to silence in its Yorkshire vale these soaring tiers of fragmen- 
tary stone are as illusive as herons* feathers stacked into a nest by 
reed birds. Stone cottages, thatched, tiled, some roofs overlaid in 
scales of blue slate, sturdy farmsteads, these are the backbone of the 
British scene. All are here and in essence have been so for centuries. 

And then we come to a house lying encircled by wide acres of park- 
land. Burghley House causes one sadly to discard favorite adjectives 
and to coin a new word to suit the occasion. Standing before the 
entrance gates of black iron, showing a design of intertwining folia- 
tions, one beholds through the powerfully wrought tracery the 
high-piled cupolas, obelisks, groups of fanciful "castles in minia- 
ture" chimneys, turreted clock tower, and the flaunting heraldic 
beasts that, in arrogant pride, blast the sky. 

In 1553, toward the end of Mary Tudor's bleak, unpopular reign, 
William Cecil, Lord Burghley, decided to alter his paternal home 
near Stamford. He personally supervised every detail of the plans 
and continuously revised the scale of frontage, spreading out the great 
rectangular courtyard as if stretching elevations of gutta-percha. The 
corridors and suites of rooms he redesigned. Staircases rose or were 
scrapped until he had precisely the kind of house he had dreamed 
of when he had first become fascinated by the new age in architecture. 
A transition had occurred during the thirty years in which Lord 
Burghley carefully guided the tangled affairs of the realm; he had 
watched a linking of all that was best of the Tudor style with the 
added grandeur of ornament known as Elizabethan. 

The south front of Burghley seen across Capability Brown's lake 
edged with cattails, ferns, and quivering water grasses reflects the 
curiously embellished roof-line, often called the "Village on the 
Tiles." Pierced stone galleries and the whole fabulous piling of pin- 
nacled ornament that crown the attics of Burghley in "commemora- 
tion of something achieved far beyond desire," excited the envy of 
the Earl of Leicester when he visited completed Burghley House, 
eager to filch a few ideas for remodeling Kenilworth Castle. And if 
the whole pile, fashioned from silver stone combined with curiously 
named Golden Barnack Rag, does not "commemorate" in highest 
terms the bewildering achievement of a conceived idea, then nothing 
under the canopy does. 

145 



Lady Shrewsbury called it "that blast in architecture/' and Robert 
Ward, the mason who worked ten years on its construction, wrote 
his patron at the finish: "A pretty picture against the sky, I greatly 
doubt that the earth is firm enough to support this added weight," 
(Burghley had wanted an additional set of hugely realized heraldic 
lions to act as finials to the thirty-one groups of chimney stacks). 
He often remarked that what with building Burghley and his Lon- 
don house in the Strand, and Theobolds for his youngest son, "I 
am never out of mortar." 

Concerning the inner court, reminiscent of those of many French 
chateaux of the great Renaissance style, it fills the eye, and, as 
Horace Walpole said, "The courtyard is a beautiful piece of scenery." 
Extraordinary drama in painting holds the eye in the chapel. A 
vast canvas of "Zebedee's Wife Interceding with Christ for Her Two 
Sons," by Paolo Veronese, is a marvel of composition, the clarity of 
light illuminating the sorrowful face of Jesus and the livid pallor 
intensifying the dark, beseeching eyes of the mother. All this is 
against what I call "folded" color, in brush strokes so broad that 
they might portray any number of things from fluted columns, tree 
trunks in a darkling forest glade, to loosely arranged folds of heavy 
stuffs, shadowy or pointed up in brilliant light. The effect obtained 
is prodigiously rich, boldly silhouetting the figures. To describe the 
interior splendors of Burghley House, the words must be broad as 
brush strokes by Veronese and, I hope, as satisfactorily revealing. 

While there is a great deal of oak paneling, stucco-work, furniture, 
statues, and ironwork placed here by the original builder, the decora- 
tion we see today dates largely from 1682 when the fifth Earl re- 
decorated the house. A seventeenth-century Italian lavabo stands in 
a corner of the gateway alcove, piped with spring water in which 
guests may still wash their hands. A baroque marble basin is sup- 
ported by an engaging merbaby, his incipient tail delicately etched 
in scales festooned with seaweed, in the fronds of which infant star- 
fish are entangled. 

The vigorously carved hammer beams in the great hall (measuring 
sixty-eight feet long, thirty feet wide, and sixty feet to the ridgepole) 
are comparable in boldness of design to the same arrangement at 
Hampton Court. Still the whole apartment gains immeasurably in 
the immense bookcases brought from the Abbey of Tongerloo in 
Belgium. I feel that the uniqueness of Burghley as fellow to a score 
of other great English houses of the same period and scale of grandeur 

146 



lies in its baroque decoration, unsurpassed in the four extremities 
of Britain. The fifth Earl of Exeter, called "Maecenas Cecil," died 
suddenly in Paris in 1700; the decoration of the state apartments in 
the south wing were abandoned, to remain so for nearly a century 
until, in 1790, the ninth Earl spent a "goodly fortune in rent rolls" 
to bring them to the present state. 

In the pagoda room one is drawn to a half-length portrait of Queen 
Elizabeth depicted in red and silver, her head rising from a gigantic 
silver lace ruff, her high "shaved" forehead surmounted by a conical 
blonde wig, so heavily studded with rubies and emeralds in weighty 
gold settings that it resembles not at all a coiffure but rather a 
hieratical miter, reminiscent of mosaics in Ravenna crowning the 
black tresses of Theodora, Empress of Byzantium. Knowing Eliza- 
beth's flair for personal adornment, and her wide interest in his- 
torical lore, particularly pertaining to modes and manners and the 
court usages of disparate sovereigns, she might easily have seen some 
representation of a Byzantine headdress, and copied it as addition 
to the spectacular collection of apparel, amounting to many thou- 
sands of objects, disclosed in closets at her numerous palaces after 
her death. 

The old ballroom is decorated in very grand style by Laguerre 
(who took Verrio's place as "painter with portfolio/' as some wag 
styled the ambitious artist, after 1697, three years before the death 
of "Maecenas Cecil"), The theme describes in smoldering color 
"The Continence of Scipio," "The Battle of Cannae" one of the 
holocausts of antiquity and some rousing scenes, political and 
amorous, from the meetings of Antony and Cleopatra. 

There is a black and yellow room with carvings by Grinling Gib- 
bons in exquisite ashy gold pine wood. The marble hall in the south 
front displays notable plaster work of pine branches, cones, oak-and- 
acorn, game birds, and motifs of the chase. This ceiling vies with a 
great display of Grinling Gibbons' carving on the walls, featuring 
an impressively rich example of frame to inclose a full-length por- 
trait of the sixth Earl as a youth by Wissing, who painted widely at 
Burghley. The tall, sensitive-faced boy is garbed in the romantic 
classical "hunting" garments, high Roman cothurni and legionnaire's 
cloak called "Carolinian," so fashionable at the time of Charles IFs 
Restoration. Predominant in this picture is the black and white 
coursing-hound at the boy's side, the head raised, ears sensitive to 
every woodland sound, as if alerted by a whir of unseen wings, the 

147 



front leg poised, quivering, the hound set to leap ahead at the first 
command arrested motion at its best. 

The red drawing room contains a spiritedly modeled plaster ceil- 
ing. Here are all Demeter's garden flowers and swaying silken gar- 
lands loaded with orchard fruits. Interest in this room centers on a 
large painting of Diana and Actaeon from the brush of Luca 
Giordino, a master of sumptuous line and flesh tones limning 
anatomy dazzlingly revealed. 

Down the years many persons of authority have spoken and written 
enthusiastically of Burghley as "the painted house." Certainly one 
will have to journey to Italy or Spain to find anything comparable 
to the grand staircase hall where Antonio Verrio painted in soaring 
bravura the ceiling called "Hell." I consider it immeasurably finer 
than Stothard's wall decoration, "The Horrors of War/' although 
I admit that his war horses, bearing armored knights, are mag- 
nificently painted in wildly clashing charge; the perspective achieved 
of a wind-swept, illimitable battlefield, is great wall decoration. 

There is a series of apartments on the south front corridor known 
as the State or George rooms. In these Verrio's heaven room is tri- 
umphant. On the wall showing Vulcan at his forge, surrounded by 
warriors who are apparently come to have armor mended, Verrio 
contributes to posterity a self-portrait. A heavy-set man, his naked 
torso and limbs are draped in a green mantle; his ruddy countenance 
has a gentle expression. 

At the end of the North Hall lies the Elizabethan kitchen. It ap- 
pears that in 1556 Sir William Cecil "dydd saye his kytchinn be sett 
all in readyness by Christsmass Tydde." The Gothic groining of this 
soaring room, together with a beautifully articulated window oc- 
cupying nearly all of one wall, is exceptional, worthy of a cathedral 
nave. It contains four great fireplaces, two of them capacious enough 
to accommodate large black-iron ranges of present usage. Built-in 
cabinets and dressers with galleries of shelves heavily laden with 
kitchen equipment, rising like bleachers against the walls, attest to 
the grand scale in which elaborate food, requiring numerous in- 
gredients, has for centuries been prepared. Carrying out the tradi- 
tions of this "painted house" there hangs high on the wall, surrounded 
by a kind of detached frame of bronze, copper, idle, and iron serving 
trays, a stunning decoration in the form of an immense still-life 
painting by Snyders, the "hung carcass" of an ox split open, almost 
as huge it seems as that of a hippopotamus. An arresting pattern 

148 



of suet-veined beef ripely red and glistening places this picture as 
a pagan votive offering to appease hunger. 

The last sight of Burghley House is highly fitting a pair of arched 
golden gates with an all-over pattern describing Nature in Abun- 
dance, carved in iron by Tijou. All sorts of leaves, vines, figures of 
animals, wheat, shells are for such a melange beautifully spaced 
and controlled in design. 

Huntingdonshire is not a large county. It lies hidden in a natural 
declivity, of no great depth, but so shadowed in trees mantling two 
ranges of guarding hills that many persons when "doing" Cambridge 
or Northampton pass by and never know its charms. Stilton is a quiet 
old town with gray walls, brick, whitewash, and age-blackened thatch 
which contrasts with new golden straw roofs. Very retiring is Stilton 
but known by reputation for its noble cheese. Rudyard Kipling 
once remarked, "I hazard a bet that in the farthest outposts of 
Empire, where two English gentlemen will be sitting together over 
a drink, conversation will turn to Thoroughbred horses and an 
argument as to the merits of a Stilton or Wensleydale cheese." Grant- 
ing the excellence of a Wensleydale "perfection," I prefer a Stilton 
wherein port wine has been poured and allowed to "make itself 
at home." 

Kimbolton, too, is a town with a peaceful air; the uncommonly 
wide thoroughfare called the Queen's Way ends at the gates to 
Kimbolton Castle where Queen Catherine of Aragon, desperately 
ill, weakened by a chancy heart, received the news that Henry VIII 
had divorcd her. 

Shakespeare used to slip away from Stratford-on-Avon and take 
long rambles into Huntingdonshire. Perchance Shakespeare, gazing 
across this valley, thought of the line "the fresh green lap of Fair 
King Richard's land." He loved the richly grassed lowland pastures, 
which are probably little changed. My eyes ranged the fields golden 
with buttercups; ox-eyed daisies and wild roses were somnolent 
in the deep shade of noble trees. There was a sense of space, of 
pleasant wildness on these green heights where the air blew freshly, 
bending ripening wheat and meadow grasses. The low hills stretched 
far down the wide valley, watered by hidden streams. All this lovely 
countryside holds Huntingdonshire as in the palm of a giant hand; 
rising to Nature's smiling regard, the land burgeons into one of the 
utterly lovely shires in England. 

149 



Historians of the Elizabethan period named their heavily muscled 
equine breed, massive in conformation, the Great Horse of England, 
an arresting and wholly descriptive title. Sovereign Elizabeth ex- 
claimed to Sir Walter Raleigh who, grown arrogant with honors, had 
overspoken himself at Whitehall, "Take care. Remember, I ride 
the Great White Horse of England/* In knightly tales these war 
horses, half-encased in armor-plate, were called destriers, and they 
were trained to savage a foe with flailing hoofs. 

This horse is claimed the ancestor of today's English Shire. While 
this no doubt is true and will suffice, I believe a much more ancient 
line of descent can be claimed for this majestic and mighty animal. 
We hear that powerful horses were used by ancient Britons to repel 
the invading Romans, and it may be assumed that horses, monu- 
mental in build, and of great endurance, were required to carry the 
heavy load of riders in bronze and iron plate armor, in addition to 
drawing the cumbersome baggage wagons and chariots crudely made 
with solid wheels, over primitive roads. 

I made a deep study of this breed in my book A World of Horses. 
There is every indication that the Shire horse, like the French cheual 
de Perche, is of ancient lineage. It is no surprise to me that deep- and 
heavy-soil counties such as Lincolnshire, Huntingdonshire, and 
Cambridgeshire should vie with one another in breeding the Shire 
horse. 

I went to a fair held in a heavily turfed field near Somersham. It 
had a big turnout, and as I walked among nearly two hundred of 
these impressive horses, the earth seemed to tremble under their 
hoofs. I watched the judging of a champion Shire stallion. Head 
typical, eyes with thoughtful outlook. Wealth of thick mane. The 
ears short and alertly pricked. Good shoulders for collar to lie on. 
Great strength in upper arms, short below knee. Back short, without 
slackness. 

The hair or ' 'feathers" on the fetlocks should not only be silky 
but when lifted in the hand be of considerable weight. A prize Shire 
stallion is the mightiest horse possible to look upon when carrying 
himself at stance, or when moving over the ground with ease, the 
head poised with great nobility. In short, the Great Horse of England 
Champion Dawnlight Invincible of Saxonby. 

The medieval picture is perfectly preserved at Huntingdon, the 
county town of the shire. The Market Square is so prim, so well 
washed and scrubbed, it resembles the posters on railway platforms 

150 



which present without blemish of modernity historical beauty spots. 
On the Square are Walden House, All Saints Church, the George 
Hotel, the Town Hall, the Falcon Inn. 

A most engaging entrance way to the stable yard of the Falcon Inn 
lies under a black trimmed bay window, the glass panes laid off in 
large Georgian squares. Underneath a single word in huge letters 
of gold upon black shouts FALCON, and the blunter arch below 
discloses a vista beckoning you toward a yard, aflame with red and 
pink geraniums. Let into one wall of this entrance passage there is 
an ancient oven used for baking "community loaves" during the Civil 
War. One of the most characteristic (1645) inn yards in England, it 
was once the yard of an earlier inn which, records show, rose here 
in 1552. 

Huntingdon owed its first prosperity to a unique situation. It was 
an old Roman camp which had been built at the "crossroads" of 
Ermine Street, the ancient Roman road from London to the north 
which crosses the River Ouse. One of the sights of the county is the 
stone bridge, a series of graceful arches spanning this fairly wide 
river. Some persons regard as the chief attraction the old Grammar 
School, a small Gothic building with strong Romanesque overtones 
in low, rounded arch door and high, narrow, round arch windows. 
In 1640 London-born Samuel Pepys attended school here and Oliver 
Cromwell, born at Huntingdon in 1599, was, while a pupil, "goodly 
birched for tardyness habitual." 

Not far away is Hinchingbrooke, an Elizabethan house of great 
character, constructed from a Benedictine nunnery. The gardens 
today remain as designed by Lord Sandwich, famed for his state- 
ment, "put a slice of beef between two slabs of bread and fetch it 
to me quick" resulting in the well-known invention which bears 
his name. 

The old Roman way from Huntingdon into Bedfordshire com- 
pletes the "welding," as the Saxons called all this tract of land now 
divided into three shires. The Saxon farms or "holds" were long 
barnlike structures, thatched in straw, held taut by streakings with 
clay and mud daub. (The huge tithe barns of early and late medieval 
times, where bailiffs collected taxes for the vavasors and Norman 
barons, were modeled after these holds.) Usually the "house" or 
"hearth place" was one great room with the "high table" along one 
wall which was lined with oak benches. A fire of tree trunks was 
laid on stones in the center of the room, the smoke drifting roofwards 



to exit through an aperture which let in the rain. (Old tales of 
Saxon and Norman times, and those told well into Tudor days, are 
always loud in the lamentation of doused fires, half-raw beef and 
game, and damp, acrid smoke clouding the room, smiting to rawness 
the eyes and throat.) A number of these tithe barns are scattered over 
the "welded" shires. Some are derelict, others in use by farmers. 
The seal ring, with which each Saxon landholder stamped a wafer 
of wax to sign official documents, carried a device of three links- 
representing the three shiresso wrought that the chain was con- 
tinuous. 

Directly I had gained the crest of a hill and looked off and away 
into Bedfordshire, an undulating spur of the Chilterns loomed on 
the skyline. The flanks of hills rose steeply in pastures, the top ridge 
bristling with beechwood trees. At Sharpenhoe, a short, high spur of 
the Chiltern Hills is called The Clappers. Ancient earthworks and 
traces of a Roman fort and villas flank the much traveled road from 
London to the north. 

Bedfordshire villages not directly on this highway are quiet, with- 
drawn. Time may not actually stand still, but it moves through the 
countryside at a leisurely pace. The great show places in the county 
are Woburn Abbey and Luton Hoo; a guidebook to National Trust 
houses heralds the latter as "a treasure house in a perfect setting." 
I would say this admirably describes the imposing white stone house 
designed by Robert Adam in 1762 for the Earl of Bute. The interior 
exalts the delicate white, gray, and gilt, rose-pink and bleu de del 
of Mme. de Pompadour's Chateau Mnard from which some of the 
boiserie is said to have come. The long apartments, room after room 
opening one into another, contain the wonderfully varied collection 
of art amassed by Sir Julius Wernher, who bought the house during 
Edwardian days. 

In particular the Clock Room attracts visitors to Luton Hoo. The 
diversities of forms in which the intricate mechanism of clocks are 
enclosed fascinates us all. There are clocks cased in lacquers, painted 
leather, carved woods, gold, silver; and an exquisite bunch of ruby 
strawberries with emerald leaves embraces a watch no larger than 
a drop of morning dew. This fantasy is by Faberg, who spent his 
life evolving in precious and semiprecious jewels, jades, crystals, and 
quartz frivolities to enchant the Romanoff family. 

Woburn Abbey is vast, high, Palladian. The terraces are inclosed 

152 



by balustrades finialed in rococo sphinxes modeled with great style, 
to show the pectoral magnificence of the lion-lady whose carefully 
waved hair above classic features is crowned with a spiked diadem. 
As a ducal residence Woburn is extremely grand. Not only is it a 
treasure house of works of art, but its g,ooo-acre park is a veritable 
wonderland of wild life which the Dukes of Bedford have collected 
from far parts of the world. There is a herd of European bison, 
which may be compared with the American species (buffalo), of 
which there is also a herd. In a rococo hunting lodge there is a 
painting of a bison hunt in Poland during the seventeenth century, 
a canvas once the property of the Grand Dukes of Wurtemburg. The 
huntsman Ragar, friend and confidante of Charlemagne, begged his 
liege to put off warlike pursuits for a space long enough to hunt 
bison. 

The European bison at Woburn represent a fair portion of the 
world's population of this species. The fact has long been established 
that herds of bison roamed the forests and grassy plains of Europe 
in ancient times, but there is divided opinion among scholars as to 
whether this beast was the true wild ox or the auroch, the latter 
hunted with such intensity by Caesar that in his frustration he com- 
plained haughtily that the herds of "stupid beasts" had retreated into 
the marshy depths of Lithuania and the deeper fastnesses of the 
Caucasus. 

Comprising some twelve hundred acres of rolling turf, dotted 
with crowns of oaks and beeches, the domain of Woburn is sufficiently 
large to accommodate roaming herds. Swaths of various evergreens 
reflected in lakes and pools formed the setting for a herd of red 
deer, hinds and stags, which marched unconcernedly past me to dis- 
appear into a rowan berry and holly thicket. To most visitors, first 
in importance is the considerable herd of the rare Pre David stags. 
The handsome gray or tawny creatures were originally raised in 
China to ornament the hunting preserves of Manchu Emperors near 
Peking, who were said to lie in silk-curtained litters, shooting with 
bow and arrow from recumbent position. The deer are named after 
the French missionary, P&re David, who first saw them in the Im- 
perial Hunting Park, Peking. 

I watched a division of the herd being changed to another roomy 
paddock. Nine stags were all in velvet, their magnificent many- 
pointed antlers encased in tawny yellow plush, dusted with iridescent 
powder. Because they will spend all day wading in deep water, it is 

153 



believed their native habitat was marshy land or meadows criss- 
crossed by Chinese lagoons. But little is actually known concerning 
their behavior under wild conditions. 

The herd of Chartley cattle in the park are heroic in build, the 
heifers as strapping as the bull. The Chartley bull is pale bisque in 
color, with jet-black points. As he stood at sunset on a mound of 
turf bright emerald in the sun's last rays, he appeared to be a figure 
out of antiquity, the great ivory-sheened scythe-horns curving like 
a Saracen's scimitar above immense bovine eyes of raisin purple. 

LeGrande Monarch, the oldest pensioner at Woburn, is a Prze- 
walski stallion, the last of his breed, and extinct in the land of his 
origin. He cannot produce get. Allowing the stallion to cover an 
Exmoor mare produced no results, so out goes the breed. He is a 
wild representative of the primitive breed from which the present 
domestic horse was produced. A small, compact, dun-colored fellow, 
his black muzzle and short upright brush of black mane recalls draw- 
ings of warriors' horses in battle pictures of long scrolls of cere- 
monial narrative by Chinese artists of remote dynasties. 

There are red deer in this sanctuary, the "classic" game of Eng- 
land's royal hunting preserves, and fallow deer, some stark white. 
Hence the legion taverns named The White Hart. Some fallow deer 
are plum-brown, pale yellow, or fawn, while the species called "but- 
terfly" are dark mauve-gray thickly spotted in white. When the 
spirit moves the leader the entire herd will imitate his leaps with 
such breathless rapidity that the performance resembles a flock of 
white butterflies darting in frenzy over a field of buckwheat. 

Historic names string out in HertfordshireKing's Langley, Wild 
Hill, Colney Heath, Bishop's Stortford, Cheshunt, Ware, and Ste- 
venage. 

Stevenage was the town Princess Elizabeth of the House of Tudor 
used to ride to when she lived at Hatfield House. "To Stevenage, 
through the Forest of Knebworth, I rode so fast a pace I left that 
ploddy groom Fulke Soreby far behind," she once wrote. No matter 
how much Elizabeth had suffered at various times at Hatfield, she 
loved it. She wrote to Lady Orford, who later became her chief 
lady-in-waiting, "I dote upon my woods. I would sleep there was I 
let." Hatfield was the prison of both Mary Tudor and Elizabeth. 
The banqueting hall, with its lofty beamed roof superbly carved in 
acanthus leaves, stands today as it did when one New Year's night 
during festivities, Elizabeth, feeling in particularly gala mood, threw 

154 



a poplady up into the rafters where the ludicrously fat little currant 
bun sat serenely until finally Elizabeth herself knocked it down by 
pitching apples. She tells this episode at length in one of her letters 
to Lady Orford, who lived at St. Albans, in whom she confided every 
day of her life at Hatfield "by chit" probably delivered by faithful 
Fulke Soreby. These popladies (a defamatory derivation, it is be- 
lieved, of the Virgin, the "pope's lady"), are traditional New Year's 
Day currant buns bought in St. Albans by the dozen to outlast the 
appetites of children and grownups alike. 

Hatfield House greatly resembles Blickling Hall in its red brick, 
fifteenth-century towers and oriel windows. There are a number of 
relics to be seen at Hatfield, intimate to Elizabeth, such as her old, 
stained, straw garden hat, the wide brim spotted from use, her silk 
stockings elaborately clocked in red and gold, a set of playing cards 
for some game no longer known, and what looks like a rattrap but 
is in reality a wire bustle. 

Anyone interested in English history dating from Saxon days, and 
wishing to evoke some of the color, the pageantry of Plantagenet 
kings, hennin-crowned ladies, set high upon sorrel and white palfreys 
on pillion or cradle saddles, should spend a day in the wood called 
Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. Here is the heart of historic 
England, the jaunting and "pleasaunce" wood of prince and varlet 
alike. The weirdly writhed and swollen boles of the magnificent 
silver trees will startle you at first; but leaves sing softly in the breeze 
and then branches seem to extend a welcome, as if clasping you in 
long, protecting arms. 

Burnham beeches are old, and the following story underscores 
their antiquity. In 1860, one of them was struck by lightning. When 
woodsmen were cutting the riven trunk away, the roots were found 
to be so immense that a sort of crater had to be dug in order to 
remove them. In doing this an oxhide chest bound in iron was 
discovered, buried so deeply that one root had coiled around it like 
a boa constrictor. Hauled onto the forest floor, the lid was opened, 
the iron lock having rusted away. On the lid large nails were driven 
into the oxhide to form a heraldic swan. Underneath were the initials 
E. de B. and the date, 1377. Oxford scholars identified this as the 
swan device or badge of Eleanor de Bohun. On her marriage with 
Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Edward 
III, the swan was taken by her husband as his personal badge. When 



he was created Earl of Buckingham in 1378 he emblazoned it on his 
arms and banners. 

The chest was without doubt part of the de Bohun heiress* wed- 
ding dowry, for it contained bedgear of heavy linen, scarcely 
yellowed by the centuries, and folded lace altar cloths which are of 
double interest because lace-making has long been a major handi- 
craft in Buckinghamshire. Although Flemish lace-makers fleeing 
Spanish tyranny in the sixteenth century brought the industry to 
flower, it is well known that some of the oldest patterns feature the 
swan and branches of the Plantagenet device, a spray of wild broom. 




After a day of wandering through the leafy rides of Burnham 
Beeches, I suggest going on to the country town of Aylesbury. At 
the King's Head, order your dinner for late twilight, drink a pint 
of mild-and-bitter in the old hall, now the bar, and go out to stroll 
through the town. This old hall has changed little since the year 
1401. Henry V, in his halcyon days of youth, frequented the inn on 
many of his roisterings. He is said to have discovered it during his 
"foppish and perfumed" period when he was a student at Queen's 
College, Oxford. He called it "my goodly tavern" and used to toss 

156 



silken pouches of gold coins up into the oak beams. If the pouch 
stuck, it was largesse for the landlord. If it fell down, he gave it to 
a charity, perhaps to the Aylesbury Alms House of ancient royal 
patronage. 

West Wycombe Park, the seat of the Dashwood family, is a strik- 
ingly beautiful house with a vile reputation. Indeed so villainous 
was this pall of depravity that Sir Francis Dashwood, called by his 
fashionable friends Hell-Fire Francis, brought the anathema of the 
Catholic Church upon himself as well as upon a dozen cronies, 
including Paul Whitehead, the dramatist and Charles Churchill, the 
poet. His chief offense was letting loose at a meeting of the Black 
Mass celebrated by his fraternity, styled The Monks of Medmenham 
Abbey a baboon made up as Satan. The enormities of blasphemy in 
masquerade at West Wycombe Park are largely forgotten, perhaps 
because all the tatarara was so long ago. Now the mind is only aware 
of the purity of classic portico and long, elegantly chaste pillared 
colonnades, giving a sweeping panorama of the Chiltern Hills. 

Within the house, painted rooms with particularly ebullient ceil- 
ings are by Borgnis, who is said to have pleased Sir Francis mightily 
because of his loose, untrammeled technique and his lack of morals 
to match. The artist was wont to paint with a brush in one hand and 
a bottle of French wine in the other. 

In Stony Stratford, St. Mary Magdalene's Church is a landmark 
because of its unusually high perpendicular Norman tower and its 
sweet-toned bells which ring out each hour across the wheat fields, 
today so thickly strewn with poppies that the countryside for miles 
around seems to shimmer in red-gold haze. Poppies grow in Buck- 
inghamshire in great array, more luxuriantly than in other shires. 
The poppy of Bucks is of a particularly large and richly red variety, 
the Roman paparer; six thousand years ago, farmers in ancient 
Greece and Mesopotamia raised them in vast quantity, packed the 
petals in wet moss or seaweed for export to distant courts, the moist 
petals to be used to heighten color on the lips and cheeks of courtesan 
and empress. 

Stony Stratford was formerly an important coach stop. Two inns 
the "Cock" and the "Bull" are notable and each sports a strik- 
ingly original sign. It is said that the phrase "cock and bull story" 
originated here, on account of suspect tales one heard batted about 
in the two popular inns, while travelers waited in the dining parlors 
for a change of horses. 

157 



Stoke Poges (in Domesday recorded as Stoches "a place of en- 
closure'*) is derived from a family of that name who owned the 
Manor of Stoches in the early part of the thirteenth century. In 
literary and personal associations the parish has long been famed. 
Thomas Penn, son of William, bought the manor here and set a 
"literary seal on the place, to be upheld by Gray, who wrote his 
brooding "Elegy*' in the churchyard. 

Princes Risborough, once called Risborough Comitis for its close 
connection with the sovereign, "prospered exceeding high" because 
Henry III gave it his patronage and built a castle for his brother 
Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Froissart says "Richard held such state of 
tourney, masques, and making gay, as never was seen." From its ele- 
vated village green the panorama of the Chiltern scarp is a royal 
vista indeed. Like Plantagenet banners riding the sky, Hampden 
Dene Hill, Lacey Green, Loosley Row, Pink Hill, and Whiteleaf 
Plunder were traced, undulating all the way to the lovely reaches of 
violet haze that pronounce the Vale of Aylesbury. 

Hard by the valley of the Thames stands Penn, one of the most 
important and consistently visited villages in the country. The name 
Penn derives from the Celtic meaning headland. In old documents 
(1130) as Lapenne, this styling is found carved on cornerstones of 
old houses and the portal of Penn Church. Floor brasses to numerous 
members of the Penn family abound, as Joseph Penn, his wife, Sarah, 
and their ten children, known locally as "Ten-pins." This curiously 
emaciated-appearing family are also represented in stone effigy under 
a canopy. A flowing script etched on brass ribbon under a tablet to 
William Penn in armor reads, "Proprietor of Pennsylvania." In 1938 
during repair to the church, workmen discovered a painting on six- 
teen oak boards of "Doom" or the "Last Judgment," believed to 
have originated sometime between 1380 and 1400. Strangely Byzan- 
tine jewel-bedizened, huge-eyed saints staring fixedly at heaven form 
a "golden stairs," while the angels in heaven, long of upper lip, look 
like golden-haired monkeys. The demons of hell are porcine-snouted, 
wearing fantastic crowns of forked-tongue serpents rising from lick- 
ing flames. One of only six such paintings on oak panels in England, 
it was at the time of its discovery on the point of being thrown away 
as rubbish. Now cleaned, reassembled, and correctly displayed, the 
brilliance of its orientally rich color is cause of much comment. 

There is a Georgian country mansion in Buckinghamshire called 
Claydon House, of character so individual that it seems to me to 

158 



stand alone. It contains the most extravagant rococo decorations in 
England. Room after room unfolds like petals of a lotus blossom to 
reveal new delights and contrivances in plaster, carved and gilded 
wood, and uniquely veined marbles. But aside from its beauty of 
appointments, the history of the house and that of the amazing 
people who have occupied it are in a class by themselves. Let me 
sketch a few of these persons. 

Claydon is the seat of the Verneys, whose memoirs, according to 
that brilliant writer on families and their houses, Christopher 
Hussey, "have become one of the classics of English biography/' 
Sir Ralph, Second Earl Verney, erected the house. Sir Edmund 
Verney, standard-bearer to King Charles I, was killed in battle at 
the terrible carnage of Edgehill. These were the "good" Verneys. 
The "bad" Verneys were picturesque desperadoes, held by the Puri- 
tans to be beyond the pale. Sir Francis, tall, swashbuckling, startlingly 
handsome as his portrait at Claydon proves, turned Barbary pirate, 
lending the strength of his five privateers to the Dey of Algiers, 
thereby hoping for plunder to liquidate his enormous debts. Deb- 
onair Tom Verney, given to lisping slightly, and who could charm 
the proverbial bird off a branch, turned highwayman "to assuage 
ennui," he said, "and pick up a few negotiable jewels." Meanwhile 
the family fortunes were reinstated by John, son of Sir Ralph Verney. 
He joined that fortunate group of men with vision, to prosper 
mightily in Levantine, African, and East India companies. He waxed 
prodigious rich and was created Viscount Fermanagh in the Irish 
peerage. In 1827 Frances Parthenope Nightingale, impetuous sister 
of celebrated Florence Nightingale, married Sir Harry Verney. It 
was "Parthy," as she was called by her intimates, who went rum- 
maging about the cellars and attics to unearth many treasures in 
furniture (surviving pieces from three auction sales, held publicly 
for debts) which now ornament the marvelous rococo rooms at 
Claydon House. 

Florence chose a room in the height of rococo, which seems odd, 
considering her austere tastes, but perhaps she wished to obliterate 
her memories of reeking hospital wards. Curved pagodas form grace- 
ful pediments to doors, windows, and chimney piece. A large portrait 
of "The Lady with a Lamp," painted soon after Crimean days during 
one of her many long visits to Claydon,, hangs over the fireplace. On 
the walls are a considerable array of smoky photographs, slightly 
blotched by chemicals from inexpert developing, taken around 1890. 

159 



There is one of Florence Nightingale in a striped alpaca nurse's 
uniform, designed by herself, according to a label. 

The Pink Room is superbly proportioned, lit by a large Venetian 
(Palladian) window. The architraves bordering doors and windows 
are carved with humor and imagination to illustrate scenes from 
Aesop's Fables. In the drawing room and North Hall or saloon, 
rococo architraves and fluted Corinthian columns show pediments 
encrusted with fragile carvings of fern, strawberry, and lily. 

Sir Thomas Robinson, the architect of Claydon, was an erratic 
character. For his great stature he was known as Long Sir Thomas, 
and he affected eccentric garments such as those of a tramp or 
bucolic lout. A Frenchman, astonished by his appearance, once 
accosted him on the street and asked who he was. 

" Robinson " he shouted. 

"Oh, the famous Robinson Crusoe/' the man replied. 

Robinson was a gentleman by birth, a cultured rapscallion who 
became a satellite of Lord Burlington, the famous dilettante archi- 
tect of Burlington House. Crusoe, as he was unanimously called, 
sought the Indies. Unaccountably he was made Governor of Bar- 
bados. But he did not prosper in that sizzling colony. He became an 
extravagant builder of "palaces/' one in "grottoesque" style, called 
"Crusoe's Grotto." Finally the country refused to support his 
grandiose schemes. In bedlam rage he resigned his governorship, and 
having lately married the enormously obese widow of a rich Jewish 
ironmonger, he "coddled her charms for scarce a month/* Over- 
whelmed with long-standing debts, he pocketed his gains and left his 
wife in the lurch, returning to England in disguise. One wonders, 
considering the man's flare for the bizarre in dress, if the disguise 
were any different from ordinary wear. Robinson designed Claydon 
House, working in conjunction with a Mr. Lightfoot, who was, 
according to Robinson in a letter to Verney, "extraordinary facile 
with a knife blade." We assume he meant wielding it on wood, and 
thus creating the most extravagant room in chinoiserie rococo that 
I have ever seen. 

The enrichment of the doorways alone is effective and delicate 
as porcelain, white, gilt, and palest celadon green. A large alcove at 
one end of the room contains a tea pavilion straight out of Chinese 
Celestial Tales. No Manchu concubine, the pampered Flower of the 
Palace of Han, for example, ever had a more magical conceit. Spread 
on one wall is a high relief in carved wood. An emperor and his lady, 

160 



half life-size, fantastically robed, take tea from a small table while 
being poled on a rippling lake in a barge, bedecked like a flowery 
garden. The ends of the pavilion and the Chinese archway through 
which one enters are composed of a trellis of budding branches, on 
which perch birds with beaks parted as if in song. In niches over 
the main arch and at either side stand large porcelain figures of 
extravagantly attired Chinese mandarins. The detail of chimney 
piece and doorways reaches the apogee of rococo inventiveness in 
fretted and scrolled pagodas, caryatids of Chinese ladies and gentle- 
men in improbable hats, contrived from inverted sea shells, peacock 
feathers, twists of silk and tassels, all wreathed in ropes of pearls 
which cascading, delicate as drops of water, become choker collars, 
to finish off the design. 

The domed entrance hall has a white plaster ceiling, coved and 
carved in little fish-tailed infants, merboys, disporting in a sea of 
chinoiserie waves. The ironwork of the balustrade is exquisite in 
delicacy of honeysuckle vines, ears of corn, holly branches, and 
garlands of hop vine, dripping petaled lanterns. It seems too fragile 
to resist a passing breeze. I touched the fronds lightly, as I passed 
up the stairs, to reassure myself that this beauty was wrought in 
bronze-tinted iron, and not from moist tendrils filled with sap. 



161 



Chapter 9 



CASTLE OF WARWICK THE KING- 
MAKER. HUNTING LEICESTER- 
SHIRE, AND DEEP-MEADOW 
SHROPSHIRE 



CUTTING across the northern tip of Oxfordshire through Ban- 
bury, I came into Warwickshire by way of the little town 
of Fenny Compton, the "hamlet 5 ' that Charlotte Bronte said 
was "embroidered like a sampler on the green fields of Warwick/' 
It is a prim village but not more so than Banbury with its Market 
Cross famed in nursery rhyme. Cockhorses (the extra cob horse that 
was once tied to the back of a mail coach to be used as leader of 
the four-in-hand up a steep hill) carved from wood and gaily painted 
in gray with black dapples or in fiery red, like the original "Ride a 
Cock Horse to Banbury Cross/* are sold in all sizes. The Cock-Horse 
Inn will serve a guest Cock-Horse Curd Pudding, a custard and 
bland cheese dessert "pebbled" with currants. 

There are no true boundaries to Shakespeare country, for beyond 
Stratford-on-Avon, and in a few neighboring villages, someone will 
insist that the poet's ghost "walks here." He was a wanderer who 
loved the countryside and often fared far to sleep outside the range 
of his "trumpet-voiced wife." Where the bard walked he observed 
and dreamed, and then wrote down his observations. 

The countryside that a traveler sees is composed of gentle slopes, 
leafy woods, undulating green fields, for Warwickshire is farming 
and grazing land. Today it spreads a ducal banquet of which the 
Kingmaker himself would approve the magnificence of its cathedral 
cities, the gray impressive ruins of its ancient castles, its great country 

162 



houses whose fame as repositories of art and period decoration are 
world renowned. Perhaps more than all this, the fact that here much 
of English history was shaped distinguishes this shire. But no matter 
how deeply we penetrate into drowsy villages hidden in the wolds, 
we live in a world that has changed out of all recognition from 
what Shakespeare knew. Near the three Tysoes hamlets designated 
Upper, Lower, and Middle I passed the gates of Compton Wyn- 
yates, one of the truly romantic medieval houses of England. It is 
a medium-sized manor house, the very personification of all that is 
best when one hears of an Englishman "seating himself at his manor, 
in the midst of his family and his treasures." There is nothing of 
grandeur about Compton Wynyates. Its gardens are spaced out from 
rolling meadows to embrace engaging topiary alleys called "Best 
Garden," and groves of holly and lime trees. 

Henry VIII was a frequent visitor; he loved the informality of its 
daily life and the good hunting. When Richard Compton, friend of 
his youth, in 1515 erected the battlemented towers, the beautifully 
proportioned chapel, the outer porch and the famous spiral chimney 
stacks, the materials used were stone and oak beams from ruined 
Fulbrook Castle, a gift from King Henry. The earliest part of the 
house dates from 1468. In this part are twisting staircases, floor levels 
so various that walking from one room to another in days of flicker- 
ing candlelight must have been a slow, stately procedure. The secret 
rooms or hide-holes show signs of occupancy by the persecuted; 
prayers, sonnets, and initials have been carved on the oak beams. 
Once the house was moated and protected by a fortified gatehouse. 
In 1644 it was captured by the Roundheads, who intended to destroy 
it on departure. But the lady of the manor pleaded that her home 
be spared and met with such success that Compton Wynyates was 
saved on condition that the fortified gatehouse be destroyed and the 
moat filled up. 

The roof in the great hall, carved in heraldic devices, came from 
Fulbrook Castle. In the long gallery there is a large collection of 
wonderfully decorative portraits of the Compton family, and a num- 
ber of pictures, allegorical and religious in subject, by celebrated 
artists of the Italian Renaissance. 

One of the most pleasant aspects of ranging the English country- 
side is following its lanes, cart tracks, almost impassable Roman roads, 
and byways marked "No Thoroughfare." On a seldom used road 
between the villages of Long Itchington and Charlecote, a farmer, 

163 



standing on a knoll against the skyline, was gesticulating and whis- 
tling to a sheep dog who was running around in circles. I saw the 
reason for all this agitation. A small flock of sheep had broken their 
pen and were desperately trying to scramble over a stile let into 
a stone wall beside the road. These were no ordinary sheep, but the 
curious and rare four-horned Manx sheep called Loaghton (in the 
Manx tongue meaning "light brown/' their dominant color). Their 
history is intriguing. They are said to be castaways from vessels of 
the Spanish Armada wrecked off the west coast between Lancashire 
and Isle of Man. Their wool at full growth attains a pale russet brown 
or tawny color; their strangeness is further enhanced by the tendency 
of both rams and ewes to grow four horns and, on occasion, six. Be- 
cause of the undisciplined angle the horns assume, they give the 
sheep a look of a creature from pagan lore the Great God Pan in 
caricature, or perhaps a court jester with bell-tipped horns on his 
cap, though here the cap is set awry. The latter idea was borne out 
when the farmer and his dog came ramping across the fields. It 
turned out that this small herd of Loaghton sheep belonged to the 
manor house at Charlecote Park and were destined to be shown two 
days hence at the annual live stock show at Kenilworth. One big 
rambunctious ram, arrogantly carrying four erratically twisted horns, 
was, the farmer said, a "wrecker, a bad hat, but a prime champion, 
verra." He smiled crookedly. "We call him Touchstone of Arden 
Forest. He'll win on the day." 

I said, "There cannot be many other Manx sheep around here." 

"Only one other flock of Manx," the farmer answered. "A small 
one. But we disregard the horns and color in judging. It is thickness 
and weight of wool that counts." 

As I forged ahead towards Charlecote Park I thought, Touchstone 
to the life in cap and motley, lacking only the tinkle of bells. 

I lunched at the Bear Inn hard by Chesterton Mills; the meal 
consisted of rabbit ragout (I like the country name "jugged hare" 
better), tender rabbit, vegetables, herbs and red wine simmered for 
hours in a brown earthen pot. I companioned my water cress and 
Cheddar cheese with one more mug of mild-and-bitter and sped 
off towards the Park. That Shakespeare was yanked up on the carpet 
in the Great Hall of Charlecote because the head gamekeeper had 
caught the youth poaching is widely known. It was poaching in the 
grand manner not snaring pheasant or "speckled chicken" (as guinea 
hens were called), or even cony-hare, but deer stealing. The game 

164 



preserve today is much as it was in Sir Thomas' time, even to the 
"stockade of sapling withes" to pen the does in rutting season. The 
red deer that I saw feeding peacefully are said to be descendants of 
the herd from which Shakespeare poached. At least there was a bright 
aftermath of the trial in the Great Hall, for the bard was never more 
biting than when he subsequently burlesqued this scene, transform- 
ing portly Sir Thomas into Justice Shallow in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor. 

The house was originally built for the Lucys in 1558, using the 
stones of an older manor house, the Lucy family having been lords 
of Charlecote since the twelfth century. While there have been 
alterations to the house down the centuries, by far the finest portion 
of the manor is the turreted gatehouse supporting a balustrade of 
carved stone that seems against the sky as fragile as Flemish lace. 
Medieval tapestries resplendent in deep-toned green and red line 
the walls of several rooms, and the floor of the Great Hall is comprised 
of wide planks split from the trunks of oak trees. Situated only four 
miles from Stratford-on-Avon, Gharlecote is visited daily by persons 
who come from all parts of the world to the Shakespeare Festival at 
Stratford's Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Lunches of light char- 
acter and early teas are served at the house. 

The reverberations of murder most foul, shrieks muted by 
stone walls, dreadsome as the winds of Hecate, swirl through the 
vaulted recesses of Tewkesbury Abbey. Plantagenet doings again, 
for here Henry the Lancastrian, Prince of Wales, was murdered on 
the last day of May in 1471. Some persons say his assassins were in 
the pay of Yorkist Richard of Gloucester, but that theory has been 
largely disproved by the fact that not only was Richard far away at 
the time but his mind was burdened with other plans. When Richard 
became King he had Henry's body removed to Windsor. 

The ancient Abbey of Tewkesbury, for all the soaring beauty of 
its fan-vaulted Norman nave (and there is none more spellbinding 
in the grandeur of its pillared immensity) is cold. The chill may 
not be derived entirely from surrounding stone. It may be that cold 
prophecy still hovers among the corbels of the roof, the eldritch 
warning of an ancient witch-woman who, soon after murder was 
done, ran yawking through the aisles, pointing into the shadows, 
crying, "The Abbey of Doom. None shall enter here but beware, 
for there death lurks. There-there-THERE!" 

I have felt this sense of doom. Searching old archives I found that 

165 



in the main the abbots were an unhealthy and unholy lot. While the 
murder of the Plantagenet prince was the most widely remarked, 
there had been several others. 

But there is a lighter side to Tewkesbury. Dining at the Royal 
Hop Pole, I sampled with great pleasure, and no ill effects after- 
wards, the hot apple tart. Mr. Pickwick, you remember, liked this 
wandering old inn. He "partook of hot apple tart and clotted cream" 
but he unwisely ate a whole tart piping hot, so suffered a colic later 
on in the night. But he did not seem to mind, saying to the anxious 
landlord routed from his bed, "Faugh what is a little wakefulness 
compared to the pleasures of your table." 

Of very different kidney from the abbey is Kenilworth Castle. 
This great battlemented pile was once a royal Saxon residence. A 
license to build the castle keep was granted in 1120 to Geoffrey de 
Clinton, treasurer to Henry I, a man described as having been "the 
first of those of ignoble stock whom Henry I lifted up from the 
dust and exalted." 

Henry II, King John, and Henry III all made additions and im- 
provements to the living quarters of the fortress. (The castle was to 
reach its zenith for luxurious appointments four centuries later when 
it was given to Robert Dudley.) The soaring Norman keep, so massive 
in construction that Henry II called it "the strongest defense in the 
kingdom" and Caesar's Tower, in majesty of masonry, still affront 
the sky. Situated in the heart of England and once surrounded by 
dense forests, it has been called the "Lost Castle." As one emerges 
from the woodland rides, the outer ramparts, immense in circum- 
ference, reveal the first of three high crenelated baileys, one set 
within another. These fortifications strike the eye with precisely the 
powerful impact the early builder intended to bring to bear on 
those approaching from high forest paths. Once inside the last de- 
fense wall there looms Caesar's Tower riding high above the ditch 
of a vanished moat, no less awesome that circumstances have deprived 
it of water to reflect its grandeur. Warlike as the old fortress is, its 
reputation for gaiety under various sovereigns is marked. Silk dresses 
were worn by ladies for the first time at a ball given here by Edward 
I in 1286. 

The gatehouse built by Leicester after his return from an inquisi- 
tive visit to Burghley House remains as he built it. With its charming 
rose-pink brick stair turrets and over-all air of early Tudor elegance, 
I think it more recalls the gatehouse at Charlecote Park than the 

166 



heavier grandeurs of William Cecil's great house. No longer habita- 
ble are the long "strolling galleries" and spacious wings, in one of 
which Leicester ordered a "Summer Plaisaunce," a row of rooms in 
high Italian Renaissance. In one room is a ceiling painted in yellow 
and blue wind-tossed ribands, each garland tracing over and over 
in gold the words "Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester," until the 
words are seen in multitude. 

While there is actually little that remains which shows the splendor 
of Kenilworth during Leicester's tenure, one of the most romantic 
castles of its time, the Great Hall with its superb, vaulted crypt 
can easily be envisioned when the walls were hung with crim- 
son satin and silver cloth on which was embroidered in claret red 
and silver wreaths of the Tudor Rose. This was done to celebrate 
"with all festivity I can command" the last birthday Queen Elizabeth 
allowed to be observed by the court. 

After Leicester took possession of Kenilworth he devoted all his 
time even spurning repeated summonses by Elizabeth to attend her 
at Whitehall or Richmond Palace to the gigantic task of setting 
his great house in readiness to entertain the Queen. Finally came the 
day. One may well imagine with what pride he went striding through 
the long chain of sumptuous rooms. "Tapestries were laid upon 
the floor to walk upon, as many as were hung upon the walls," a 
chronicler says, underlining words heavily, shocked at such disregard 
of artistry. 

Documents indicate that Leicester entertained Queen Elizabeth 
at Kenilworth lavishly four different times "with rare shows, games, 
and water sports." On one occasion three hundred and twenty hogs- 
heads of beer were consumed. 

Elizabeth knew great happiness at Kenilworth. It was from here 
that flowers were sent her every day in season. Kenilworth can 
possibly claim the first "hot-house," actually "a border of louvers 
inclosed in glass to tempt the sun," as it was described. There was a 
"knot garden," and pansies still grow here in profusion. When 
Zucchero painted the splendid likeness of Queen Elizabeth, known 
as the "Love-in-Idleness" portrait, regarded as quite the best of all 
her images, a hamper of garden flowers from Kenilworth had just 
been brought to the queen. She selected a "knot" or posy of pansies 
and is painted as if just about to smell them. Great attention is paid 
to her beautiful hands. 

At Stratford-on-Avon the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre since its 

167 



inception has been an enormous success. The program offered is 
varied and the theater is large and comfortable, architecturally an 
ambitious gesture in modern design. 

Of the town there is little I can add to what has has already been 
described in numerous accounts. Lunching at New Place Inn I heard 
an American woman say to her companion, "I feel perfectly at home 
here. There is not a place I want to see that I couldn't find in the 
dark." I can think of no other town that enjoys such profitable 
world renown as Stratford, and all of it built upon the reputation 
and genius of one native son. 

Next to half-timbered and thatched cottages, and the long, waver- 
ing plaster-and-beam walls of buildings in the town itself, the next 
most remarkable attraction is swans. Swans in plenitude sail upon 
the Avon like a massed fleet of feathery-sailed galleons, a kind of 
perpetual ballet Lac du Cygne at its loveliest. Stand for a while on 
ten-arched Clopton Bridge and watch swans in their hundreds preen, 
submerge their orange beaks, and flutter their snow-like plumage 
upon the tree-shadowed water. 

Of interest is Edward VTs Grammar School, a mellowed old timber 
building with an overhanging second story, where Shakespeare was 
a tardy and restless student. Ben Jonson, a scholarly man, said that 
his friend William had "small Latin and less Greek." Always crowded 
to overcapacity with eager devotees of the Shakespeare cult, the 
White Swan Inn should be visited, if possible, in early morning or 
late at night, in order to get the best light to see a mural painting 
dated ten years before the poet's birth, hidden under plaster until 
1927. Of all the touted houses and cottages, including Ann Hath- 
away's, Hall's Croft, and so on, I like Mary Arden's the best. Here 
Shakespeare's mother, "tall and with a firm demeanor," lived. Ar- 
ranged in the Tudor barns is an entirely engrossing museum show- 
ing Tudor farming implements, old churns, dairy fixtures, harness, 
and the like. The long, low house resides on the fringe of the Forest 
of Arden, and is shaded by its trees. The golden stone and oak 
timbered house is a lovely, muted background for battalions of 
mauve, wine, and pink, sepia-spattered foxgloves reaching the height 
of eight feet, interspersed by stands of hollyhocks of similar lux- 
uriance. 

For nearly nine hundred years Warwick has been overshadowed 
by its castle which, built to command obedience from all, now draws 

168 



admiration, even applause, as "the fairest monument of ancient 
chivalrous splendor which yet remains uninjured by time/' Sir 
Walter Scott's noble eulogy is one of countless tributes. 

One of the mightiest and best known of the old Norman strong- 
holds, it was "founded" in 1068 by William the Conqueror. King 
Edward the Elder gave the land on which Warwick stands to his 
warrior sister Ethelfleda in 914 to aid in building up her defenses 
against the dangerously encroaching Danes. 

The interior of Warwick Castle, for centuries the seat of the Earls 
of Warwick, draws as much applause as its rock-raised battlemented 
towers high above the bronze-green Avon. The interior apartments 
are furnished in seventeenth-century magnificence. In the stupen- 
dous Great Hall, every conceivable style of armor plate is arranged 
on figures set against tapestries; the rouge et or drapeaux, deep pile 
velvet, reflects in the burnished casques, corselets, and greaves. A 
curiosity apart is a casque shaped like an ostrich egg with tiny holes 
for eye-slits. It was found in the silt of the River Avon and is be- 
lieved to date from the time when the kingdom of Mercia became 
merged with Wessex. Many weapons used in ancient warfare are on 
display. There are battle gear and lighter arms, the latter used for 
personal defense by men who rode out from under the portcullis 
"on pleasure, all in friendly countenance bent," but more often than 
not found themselves plunged into combat for survival. Also to be 
seen are long-handled Saxon and Roman spears, the latter short- 
hafted, more like the Trojan "far-darter" called by Homer "the third 
arm of Achilles." The shields are fascinating, some in crude, others 
in artful design. Some are etched, others carved, and some are hugely 
bossed or emblazoned in heraldic heads of horned goat, porcupine, 
or the Bear and Ragged Staff of Warwick, the county arms. On display 
is the great two-handed sword, to which kings and "faire knights" 
on crusade, strong muscled enough to wield it, gave romantic names: 
Moncoeur, Blanchefleure, Rougemain, and Veseray. The armor for 
destriers proclaims that the War Horse of England was a very fortress 
when fully accoutered in plate mail. The long nosepiece sometimes 
had curved steel spikes, resembling the tusks of a savage wild boar, 
set under the nostril-hole. Almost without exception a sharply 
grooved or twisted cornucopia springs from the forehead-plate in 
the manner of a unicorn. This horn could be a deadly weapon to 
an unarrnored or lightly armored man. All this arrangement of 
intricately molded or jointed plates of steel, polished or delicately 

170 



damascened, is pageantry paramount, the clashing history of Eng- 
land come immediate. But the battle flags, the knightly pennants, 
and serpent tongue bannerettes of silks, metal cloth, satins, even 
tinsel gauze, embroidered in rich device, hold my interest. Hung 
from the high, hammer beam ceiling, the soft susurrus of tattered 
silk, seemingly articulate, retells what part each banner played when 
announcing to some advancing foe a splendid roll of names New- 
burg, Beauchamp, Neville, Dudley, Greville. On view are the crim- 
son and white blazonry of Warwick the Kingmaker, the red, blue, 
and gold royal standard that Edward IV had wrapped about his broad 
shoulders on the cold night when he had fled from Doncaster before 
approaching rebel Warwick. 

In 1469 Warwick imprisoned Edward at the castle in a room high 
in Guy's Tower. Reflecting on this sound and fury of a day long 
past, I thought of how high-spirited Edward had entertained the 
men-at-arms set to guard him. He described life at Westminster and 
talked of his carnal relations with all manner of women. His great 
laugh booming, he told of "three concubines which in diverse prop- 
erties diversely excelled. One the merriest, the other the wiliest, 
the third the holiest harlot in the realm." 

Under the rough masonry walls of Warwick Castle gardens edge 
the river, a cool delight. So different in "mood of pleasure bent" 
from the massive barbican Caesar's Tower are the battlements called 
Guy's Walk or the curtain walls along which the greensward terrace 
traces its flower-bordered way. White peacocks strut the river ter- 
races in gleaming array. One notes the exquisite line of breast, the 
dip, peck, lift of crest, as they walk into the sunlight, flutter the 
tail feathers, and spread! 

St. Mary's Church occupies a situation one migl\t describe as 
cloud-borne. The edifice designed by Sir Christopher Wren up- 
thrusts from the highest ground in Warwick. Buttressed walls stretch 
along the oak-clad rise below a many-pinnacled belfry. This tower 
dominates both town and castle keep and can be seen from miles 
away, a glorious presence above the trees and thick clustered roofs 
of raisin-red which so distinguish the ancient town. 

Warwick offers disparate architecture. There is timber-framed 
Cornmarket, Jacobean St. John's House, once the mansion of the 
Stoughton family, and the unusually tall, gaunt, scroll-gabled Marble 
House, built of tawny marble blocks in 1620 by Richard Yardy, a 
dealer in marble statuary. 

171 



Palladio and Robert Adam are singularly well represented along 
the wide thoroughfares in Warwick. The Shire Hall is a columned 
and pedimented building strongly reminiscent of Palladio's Villa 
Caldogno reflecting its white elegance in the Brenta Canal near 
Venice. The Athenaeum Club is boldly designed in rustico stone, 
very like many an Italian palazzo in Vicenza. The hugely propor- 
tioned, simple-in-detail facade of Aylesford Hotel is in Charles II 
style, albeit a good few of the houses fronting Church Street derive 
their placid, classic appearance from Robert Adam and his Regency 
imitators who built so generously in his style at Cheltenham. 

Coventry is still a sad city. Its ancient monuments were nearly all 
leveled during the Second World War. It was reduced to a state of 
pulverization, where no vestige of old carvings or mitered stone could 
be salvaged to remind a courageous people of what their forefathers 
had once erected to beautify the city. The cathedral, with the excep- 
tion of its outer walls, was bombed out of existence, and in one night 
of pure horror entire blocks of public buildings and thirty thousand 
dwelling houses were destroyed. Earl Leofric and Lady Godiva, of 
the apocryphal equestrian legend, had begun the cathedral, building 
slowly on the site of an ancient abbey. But slowly the city is being 
rebuilt to continue its great days, and the cathedral is again rising 
on its old site, incorporating in its structure walls of the original 
bombed edifice. 

The village of Walsgrave-on-Sowe has a beautiful Norman church 
surrounded by tiny thatched cottages. At Wolvey there is still a 
stone platform centering the village green. In 1535 Lady Dorothy 
Smythe was burnt at the stake on these stones for the brutal murder 
with a stone "moat-ax" of her noble husband. In haughty style Lady 
Dorothy arrived at the stake in a coach drawn by four piebalds. She 
was "gowned fashionably in puce velvet and a mantle of coney skins 
and wore a wide hat plumed in the French taste/ 1 an old chronicle 
states. But when the flames licked her legs she shrieked in agony. 
Nowadays when the winds blow across the fields of Wolvey the sound 
is likened to the screams of the tortured woman. Mothers hereabouts 
use it to quiet fractious children. "Lady D 'ull come 'an get ye. Hear 
'er screechin' now?" is a potent threat. 

Near Leamington Spa is Stoneleigh Abbey. Of the original Cis- 
tercian Abbey founded in 1154, only the lichened stone gatehouse, 
dated 1346, remains. The present turreted building has beautifully 
mullioned windows and a pointed entrance arch. In 1562 Rowland 

172 



Hill, a wealthy merchant, erected a pretentious, many-gabled Eliza- 
bethan house, with an uncommonly interesting feature. The east 
wing was supported by the undercroft of the monks' dormitory, 
while the north wing of this sprawling edifice rested on the founda- 
tions of the Abbey church. In 1720 Lord Leigh returned to his 
Abbey completely won by the grandiose palaces he had seen while 
doing the Grand Tour of European courts. He forthwith commis- 
sioned Francis Smith of Warwick (probably the same man who built 
the Marble House in Warwick) to replace the long west wing with an 
imposing Palladian block. The exterior presents a fagade of great 
richness of detail in a style admirably suited to the surrounding great 
park, which slopes in a series of natural greensward terraces down 
to the Avon. The oaks and beech trees in the park, both copper and 
silver beech, are renowned for age, density of foliage, and unusual 
size. 

Within doors Stoneleigh is a treasure house of importance with its 
wood paneling of distinguished beauty, marble columns, cornices, 
and chimney breasts. In the decorative sense the most important 
single gesture at Stoneleigh is the elaborate ceiling in the entrance 
hall. Executed in plaster from designs by the famous Italian Cipriani, 
it depicts the entire Olympian assemblage welcoming Hercules back 
from his labors. Zeus, who commanded the labors which he believed 
were impossible to perform, lolls on an eagle's back. It is a glorious 
composition of swirling movement in which stern, helmeted Athena, 
voluptuous Aphrodite, slim Euterpe, are partially veiled by filmy 
clouds. 

In the Gilt Hall there is a set of doge's chairs, the kind employed 
in the sixteenth century for ceremonial use in a state barge or gon- 
dola. Entirely in gold gesso, four dolphins form the legs. The seat 
and the back of one is a gracefully curved Adriatic seashell, wreathed 
in seaweed. In this room a figure of a housemaid holding a broom 
stands in the embrasure of a window. This is one of the first wooden 
models, a "conceit" in the seventeenth century, which gave to rooms 
the appearance of being occupied. Very trim in kirtled blue gown, 
the maid wears a white ruff and has frizzled hair on which a lace 
cap sits securely. The delicately painted round face bears an air of 
polite expectancy. I have seen a number of these * 'painted com- 
panions," as they were sometimes called. One I recall is of a lady 
powdered and beauty-patched, with a fan held discreetly at flirtatious 
lip-level; another is of a bewigged gallant in slashed satin costume 

173 



and wide laced Van Dyck collar, carrying a plumed cavalier hat. 
Once, at Gritchell in Dorset, I noticed someone whom I took to be 
an undergardener; he was very ruddy of face and wore a leather 
apron over his buff knee breeches, and a tasseled cap on his head. 
But he turned out to be one of these life-like wooden figures placed 
there to scare marauding crows and sparrows from the strawberry 
beds. 

In the gallery at Stoneleigh there is an allegorical picture of a 
rare subject, which, for all its morbid intent, holds great fascination 
for me because of the beauty of painting and Venetian glass clarity 
of color. Titled "You Must Tonight Away," it depicts Death, 
wrapped in a black and purple hidalgo cape, poising the sharp tip 
of an arrow over the heart of a court lady of the Restoration period. 
Her exquisitely rouged and powdered face, framed in long chestnut 
ringlets, is covered in a medley of black beauty-patches cut in fanciful 
shapes those of stars, serpents, hearts, a dagger, a sickle moon. An 
interesting arrangement of Stygian shadow and luminous background 
cuts the canvas diagonally, so that Death gleams dankly in smoldering 
shadow while his victim radiates unearthly pallid light. Underneath 
the picture, painted on the frame in infinitesimal script, are the 
words: 

Repent: Tomorrow; 

Tomorrow Madam is another day, 

It's none of yours. You must tonight away. 

Leicestershire is the heart of the "hunting shires." It has gently 
undulating roads and rolling fields bordered by stone walls which, 
during the autumn and winter foxhunting season, are jumped by 
the best bred thoroughbred hunters on earth. 

I slept at Leicester, a proud old town of Norman persuasion. There 
is a ruined castle keep and smart shops where any article of apparel 
or tack that hunting man or horse could possibly need may be had, 
but prices are high. 

Ashby-de-la-Zouch is an old Norman town still as French in view- 
point as the last part of its name. It was once walled in stone and 
wattle-daub by the same Ethelfleda who first fortified Warwick in 
her frantic endeavor to stem the tide of Danish invaders. Market 
Harborough and its sister market town, Market Bosworth, come to 
vivid life in the autumn when the first hunt-meets of the new season 
are held at Market Gross. 

174 



Stapleford Park near Melton Mowbray is a medieval house which 
holds its own with any in the land. Erected in 1633, the house 
incorporates as a separate wing a singularly interesting gesture in 
freely sculptured exterior masonry. The decoration of the cham- 
pagne-colored stone walls is of unusual interest because of life-size 
stone figures standing in canopied niches, placed between early 
Tudor mullioned windows. There are crowned kings and queens, 
mitered bishops, fox-faced cardinals, their small, greedy eyes peering 
fixedly out from under the shadows of wide-brimmed tasseled hats. 
A galaxy of legendary figures and carved scenes from history and the 
scriptures embellish the walls in such manner that the play of light 
and shade lends to the house the feeling that the walls are hung with 
particularly vital pale gold tapestries. The gable ends, and the tiara 
fronts to immensely scaled dormer windows, three on either side of 
the high peak roof, employ great baroque scrolls to lend grace and 
grandeur to the whole conception. 

Herefordshire, a patchwork quilt of grassy meadows, shady dells, 
a consistent sunpocket, has been called The Smiling Shire. To clinch 
this cheerful cockiness there is an old ballad highly regarded by 
country folk around Leominster, uproariously sung on May Day at 
pubs and coach taverns, expressing perfectly their point of view, 
called "Cock a Snook at Dignity, but Don't Forget Your Manners." 
As if to illustrate this disregard for some of the more stuffy propri- 
eties, an arresting, albeit curious life-size figure of a man cast in 
iron adorns an elaborately framed baroque niche in the center gable 
of almshouses at Leominster. He is holding a hatchet, and except 
for a sketchy loincloth aflutter in the breeze and the cocked hat of 
an Admiral of the Fleet, he is naked. On a stone table underneath 
is hewn a rhymed inscription, highly mysterious until one learns 
its import. 

He that gives away all 

Before he is dead; 

Let 'em take this Hatchet 

And knock him on the Head. 

My inquiry revealed that in the reign of George III, Geoffrey 
Fendon, a young naval rating, returned to his home in Leominster 
after being wounded slightly at Trafalgar. He found his family in 
financial straits because of illness, taxation, and divers other "family 

176 



extremities." Of notoriously generous nature, Fendon helped not 
only his family but numerous friends professing to be in the same 
case. As we all know, in this world it profits no one to be continuously 
overgenerous. Beset on all sides for aid, Fendon gave willy-nilly. 
Finally, approaching the end of his resources, he built and endowed 
a row of almshouses designed in the Dutch baroque taste. The day 
came for unveiling the charity houses. Fendon's admirable sense of 
humor was disclosed by his undraped image above the portaL 

Hereford, the county town, is situated on the verdant banks of the 
River Wye. I find it one of the most attractive cathedral cities in 
Britain. Its charm does not stem entirely from its pleasant, easy-going 
atmosphere, but also from its so embowered rural interests which 
are not unexpected, for Herefordshire is a county deep in orchards 
and pasturelands and is famous, too, for its tangy cider. 

A house called Hellens near Much Marcle is a large manorial pile 
of ancient lineage. Antiquity is manifest in every lichened stone 
buttress, groining, and corbel. The arrangement of furniture is the 
very definition of medievalism. The splendid collection of tapestries 
represents all phases of the chase. The wealth of painted shields and 
armorial pennants in the great hall are, in the half-gloom, strident in 
their fanfare of brass. This house might be a temple, an apotheosis 
in heraldry, to many generations of the Pennmgton-Mellor-Munthe 
family. 

Lunches and teas are served at Much Marcle post office. Tea is a 
festival in itself, as good as can be found in the depths of an English 
shire noted for its bountiful hospitality. 

Between Whitbourne and Bromyard, at the end of a long tortuous 
cart track debouching off the Brockhampton road, lies a small, 
moated manor house of a unique character. Lower Brockhampton 
Hall is not grand or formal, it has the timber, brick, stone, and wattle- 
daub mellowness of a late fourteenth-century squire's house. The 
moss-grown ridgepole lends to the roof line an undulation like the 
shoulders of the Malvern Hills. The tall, hexagonal, brick chimneys, 
each one a museum piece in itself, sprout errant field flowers that 
birds or summer breezes have sown haphazard. Remotely placed, the 
house is not derelict, just uninhabited. To breast the idle years it 
has set itself a task as watch and ward over a diversity of wild 
flowers "stars of the fields and hedgerows" such as one seldom sees 
growing companionably together in one acre. I walked along the 
dry moat. Gelder Rose, whitest of blossoms, that Mary Stuart said 

177 



smelled like "pepper and salt/' causing her to sneeze, bloomed in 
profusion. And loving Andrews, two heaven-blue star-shaped flowers 
seemingly in close embrace, blossom on one stem. I picked a bouton- 
niere of pale yellow and heliotrope bastard balm and found the 
herb called centaury (the Centaur Chiron is supposed to have dis- 
covered its medicinal properties). The lesser centaury is known as 
earthgall, which is taken in tea for protection against fevers, or the 
leaves can be mashed as a salve applied to chafed thighs and tender 
buttocks as used by Henry Tudor for relief after jousting or too 
many hours in the hunting saddle. 

The tough, treacherous vine of white bryony was hidden coiled 
in the hedge. Country-wise bryony is still called mandrake, from the 
huge deformed roots that shriek protest when dragged from the soil. 
Woven bracelets of bryony were once sold by Romany gypsies as 
"magical mandrakes," to cure deformed limbs. 

I noticed these vines along the road as I drove through Pontrilas, 
Abbey Dore, Holme Lacey, St. Devereux, all quietly drowsing 
villages, awaking occasionally to hold a cattle market or fair or some 
ancient traditional festival. 

Shropshire is sometimes called "the County where W Reigns 
Supreme." On an ancient Roman archway, spanning the River 
Severn, a chain of W's is carved so deep that field grasses spurt out 
like a luxuriant crop of green whiskers. The letter W is seen carved 
into Roman milestones, and paving stones are still found where a 
fragment of Roman military way meanders across a meadow. There 
is the old road-rangers' or drovers' song, "Wenlock-Wellington- 
Wrekin and Wem, Whitechurch, Wittington, Worfeld, and Then 
Wroxeter, Walho, Wilderhope, and Fen." The song continues 
the names of a dozen other towns and villages all beginning with W, 
where the drover is well or illy received. 

Here we have diversity of terrain with color that seems to change 
chameleon-like. Church Stretton is a churchly village hidden in 
trees of dense foliage. The hard-bitten hills around Wilderhope, 
sparsely studded with wind-blown trees, has an eldritch look, a weird- 
ness of dun acres, especially noticeable as the sun sets, when the wind 
dies to a moan, and perhaps when a fish-belly-white moon rides un- 
certainly in the sky, half-veiled by ragged, scudding clouds. Here 
Shropshire drops her faintly smiling face of farmstead and grassy 
wold and masquerades as Cumberland, where bronze-green tarns 
burble down rocky hillsides. Near the Welsh boundary, for Shrop- 

178 



shire marches for over half her western borderline with Montgomery, 
Flint, Denbeigh, and Radnor, the farmsteads and cottages in border 
villages take on the tone of Welsh houses, broad sloping roofs shingled 
with shards of azure blue slate, big as paving stones. The second story 
is usually set far back under pillared galleries. Shropshire women sit 
in shadow and card wool to spin on immense wheels, a tough, ever- 
lasting homespun that one sees much of in Wales, used for sundry 
purposes from babies' swaddling clothes to horse blankets. I would 
say Shropshire offers as varied attractions as any shire in Britain. 

Attingham Park near Shrewsbury is a Palladian house built in 
1783 for Lord Berwick by architect George Steuart. Slender demi- 
lune colonnades link the porticoed central block of pearl-white stone 
to its flanking pavilions, thus screening from view the handsomely 
pedimented stables and offices. In 1796 the sweeping grand staircase, 
pride of builder Lord Berwick, was sacrificed to provide a great red 
picture gallery designed by Nash, to house the second Lord Berwick's 
tremendous art collection. A circular staircase of five varieties of 
mottled and curiously veined fawn and green marbles replaces the 
original white and gold staircase. The balustrades in fanciful bronze 
dore depicting sea serpents and mermaids were famous in their time. 
Throughout the house the elegant rooms are greatly admired for the 
delicate stucco work, where Italian stuccadores employed the vines 
of eglantine, honeysuckle, and hop to form trailing swags and 
wreaths. The columned dining room is a superbly alive apartment. 
The striking color scheme of white and gold on deep carnation red 
reflects the light of candles in crystal to perfectionsatisfying and 
memorable decoration, that stems only from great taste. I particularly 
noticed that in brilliant sunlight of high noon the red seemed most 
lyrically to sing. Red in the different shades of pomegranate, rose, 
geranium, cherry, and cardinal is used in conjunction with white and 
gold or silver gilt in a number of rooms at Attingham. This I greatly 
admire, for these two colors, enriched by the foil of white, make 
definitely an ever changing color scheme with which to create great 
style and radiance in a room. 

Shropshire has ever been a county famous for its inns and roadside 
taverns. The Mermaid and the Mytton Inn at Atcham is not only 
well known by travelers motoring north to Scotland or cross-country 
into Wales, for excellent food taken in most charming surroundings, 
but for a great variety of fresh vegetables and for a spectacular array 
of cheeses from which to choose. All the great names in cheesedom 

179 



abound, including Wensleydale, the more usual white variety and, 
on fortunate occasions, Wensleydale True Blue is available. Sadly, 
this variety is almost extinct now; many epicures consider it the 
matchless product of English cheese-makers. Other cheeses served 
include Cheshire, usually the red, partnered by both white and 
blue; Leicester, redder than even red Cheshire, with the odd reputa- 
tion that "if eaten out-of-doors you'll cherish your marriage bed, but 
if eaten indoors both love and wife are soon fled." 

The Stork Hotel at Much Wenlock is ancient and full of cubbyhole 
rooms and alcoves. The walls in many of these dark pockets bear 
Latin inscriptions of which some are prayers. The rooms are said to 
be hide-holes used by priests and monks on the run to Scotland or 
Wales after the dissolution, and in later years in hiding to elude 
Puritan spies. 

Longville Inn has French associations. The house was once a manor 
of the de Longville family. Perhaps because of this tradition the wine 
caves are extensive and the vintages cradled in darkness are serenely 
quiet and smooth to one's palate. 

In Shropshire, of the four great Salopian castles little remains of 
Bridgnorth, Redcastle, and Hodnet, but Ludlow still flaunts erect 
and stately towers of such magnitude that a famous authority on 
defensive masonry down the ages called this castle and its massive 
keep "one of the most powerful and complete examples of medieval 
military architecture in Great Britain/' Ranging all periods of 
building from the eleventh century to the sixteenth, the walls and 
keep are in a remarkably good state of preservation. Magnificently 
situated high above the rushing River Teme, the castle "Constable 
Close" contains the twelfth-century chapel. This small oratory is 
enriched out of the ordinary for a fortress chapel, the altar being 
carved with symbols and heraldic devices and there are prayer alcoves 
and a crypt modeled after chapels of Knights Templar. 

Ludlow Castle has a drear ghost famous locally, as any traveler 
is bound to hear. Called the Red Lady of Ludlow, she walks the 
corridors on Christmas Eve. The tale is told that some time during 
the fifteenth century Sir Guy de Orveton, "a bull neck man, raked by 
jealousy and hot anger/' returned to the castle one Christmas Eve 
to find his wife not, as he fully expected, in bed. Not pausing to 
remove his grimy armor, Sir Guy prowled the castle sword in hand. 
He duly came upon a pair of startled lovers trying to hide in the 
deep embrasure of a turret window. His wife's lover, disguised as a 

180 



serving man, had gained entrance to the castle living quarters. Roar- 
ing in rage Sir Guy ran his sword through the young man's heart. He 
turned to slay his deceiving wife. But she lay upon the floor "dead of 
a fright that had ceased her heart." Every Christmas Eve this tragedy 
is said to be enacted. Passers-by who have been more curious or 
courageous than the average say they have seen black silhouettes 
of fleeing figures on the walls of a long corridor, heard a bellowing 
roar, a shriek of sudden agony, then a tall woman in a red gown 
and veil over her horn-hennin walks unsteadily on the battlements 
wringing her hands and moaning piteously. 

I saw Ludstone Hall so surrounded by trees and rolling farmlands, 
meadows for grazing horses and cattle, sheep and black swine belted 
in porker-pink, that until I had come right upon the house I was 
unaware that it stood within a moat made by damming up two 
brooks, thus obtaining fresh flowing water, a great boon in medieval 
days when this lovely old place was built. The Forests of Claverly 
and Ludlow merged here with the vast, wild Forest of Morfe, where 
wild animals bears, wolves, and "striped, fanged cats" mentioned 
in Domesday Book roamed at will, until Saxon, Roman and Norman 
kings and chieftains had depleted the preserves of game. 

The gardens of Ludstone are open to the public. The Knot Garden, 
with perfectly cut corkscrews, baskets, and foot-high hedges of 
trimmed box, displays the four suits of cards heart, spade, diamond, 
and club contrived from closely planted wall flowers, violets, and 
cinnamon pinks. While visiting this garden I became aware of the 
smell of lavender. Turning, I saw it on a slope nearby, and a veritable 
tidal wave of the feathery bush seemed to be rolling down the hillside. 

Stokesay Castle has been celebrated in poetry. "The Roundels of 
Stokesay," pertaining to the quandary of the lady whose thoughts 
were gnats or butterflies, according to her mood, are famous in 
English folklore. In 1240, Laurence de Ludlow was granted the 
necessary "license to crenelate" or fortify his manor of Stokesay 
Hold. So one sees today a perfect example of fortified manor-house- 
into-castle, standing with a moat so wide, encrusted thickly with 
water-lilies, that the silvery-stoned castle appears as a staunchly 
medieval English version of the marble and alabaster barge built on 
the wide waters of the Summer Lake within the Imperial Forbidden 
City for Dowager Empress Tsu-Tsi. 

The Great Hall of Stokesay is to me the perfect definition of 
medieval "baronial hall" at its very best. The ragged, much darned 

181 



and patched arrases, six in number, depicting scenes of the chase 
and pastoral pursuits, drawn in what might be termed "primitive" 
early Renaissance, are of almost childlike simplicity. Stokesay re- 
tains none of the warlike aura once created by the fear of attack 
which prompted Laurence de Ludlow "to crenelate." Now all is 
rest; there is a peaceful hush over the moat. I tried to record in paint 
the incredible cerulean, ultramarine, and Persian enamel blue of 
dragonflies and arrow-swift kingfishers parting the water weeds. 



182 



Chapter JO 



PAINTED FIGURINES OF 
STAFFORDSHIRE. THE GOLDEN 
COTSWOLDS 



SELDOM have I been so festively greeted upon entering a town as 
when I arrived in Abbot's Bromley late in the afternoon on 
the first Monday in September. Since medieval times the Horn 
Dance, symbolizing the ancient privilege of the chase to hunt in 
Needwood Forest, a Bromley "perquisite/ 1 has been performed in 
this village near Rugeley in Staffordshire, every year on the first 
Monday following the fourth of September. Twelve dancers gather 
in the village market square at sunrise. Six of the youths, all stal- 
warts, are chosen for physical power, because they must bear huge 
antlers, oftimes sprouting fourteen or more points, and weighing up 
to twenty-five pounds each. The other participants include two boys 
(one carrying a triangle, the other a bow and arrow), a fool, a hobby- 
horse, a minstrel who plays an accordion, and a man dressed in 
women's garb to represent Maid Marion, who collects money from 
passers-by. The dance starts out in more or less conventional form of 
bowman attended by fool, astride the broad shoulders of hobby- 
horse in pursuit of stag. The dance waxes hilarious and for a while all 
is gala, until the approach of nightfall. At this hour the dancers, 
who have covered twenty miles of the parish bounds and imbibed 
many tankards of ale at various stopping places, "falter and grow 
dim of eye." The youths who bear the stag heads are dressed in green 
knee breeches, green woolen longhose, forest brown shirts, and 
sleeveless jerkins of tawny leather. Pointed huntsmen's caps in tawny 
leather are worn rakishly, aslant one eyebrow. The really brilliant 

183 



costume of all the jiggling throng is the red, green, purple, and 
yellow bell-strewn garb of the fool. 

At Little Wyrley House, in 1850, lived Elisabeth Clementina Car- 
michael Hussey, a woman of overweening extravagance in bedecking 
her person. Although incommoded by obesity, she accomplished 
wonders in promoting the Staffordshire pottery industry. Dame 
Hussey, as she was called, scoured the countryside, seated bolt up- 
right, it is said, * 'gowned in taffety, red in hue, like a conflagration, 
so much fiery red was on view," to find talented young girls or boys 
to paint the floral design and the enchanting shepherds and shep- 
herdesses so greatly prized today by collectors of Staffordshire pottery. 




Architecturally Little Wyrley House is a curiously disjointed place, 
composed of a series of brick buildings of Jacobean persuasion, fusing 
into Georgian and Victorian. From afar, as I approached, it seems 
as if a series of gigantic sofa cushions of divers designs had been 
pinned together and flung carelessly on the greensward. When I 
came closer the idea was in no way dispelled. But once inside the 
large rooms I found that the collection of proposed designs for 

184 



Staffordshire pottery hung on the walls and the finished articles, 
arranged in glass cabinets, were beguiling. 

Inventiveness is the keystone of Staffordshire pottery. Costume 
pieces starting with the Queen Anne period are florid in color but 
effective. The exquisite delicacy of detail and colors of the Regency 
belles and beaux dallying at Brighton and Cheltenham gladden 
hearts of collectors and coveters alike. I admired a table ornament 
showing three Regency ladies in rakish poke bonnets, arm-in-arm 
with three raffish hussars strolling, according to a painted label, in 
Rotten Row. Hussars are colored red, black, and gold, while the 
"frail fairs" sweep diaphanous skirts of pale lilac, pink, and yellow 
Directoire gowns tightly around provocatively voluptuous buttocks, 
tinted underneath the silk a rapturous pink. 

The hatreds of the Civil War and its attendant atrocities perpe- 
trated on architecture are nowhere more to be regretted than at Lich- 
field. In 1643, the cathedral was occupied by the Royalists, who were 
besieged by the Roundheads. For seven days it was bombarded by 
troops under the leadership of a Puritan archfanatic, Lord Brooke. 
He loudly boasted in the market place that he would destroy every 
stick and stone. The Royalists had the satisfaction of seeing him shot 
by one of their number as he was exhorting his men to further 
destruction. 

It took three hundred years to reconstruct the edifice. The Lady 
Chapel is exquisite, the walls illusive in texture, the color of tawny 
velvet, with delicate tracery in carved stone filigree. The West Front, 
renewed in the eighteenth century, the masons holding to the original 
Norman design, is impressive in scale and detail. It is, however, the 
three graceful spires, pierced by diminuendo Gothic lancet windows, 
that are glorious. Proud of their rose-red sandstone cathedral, rebuilt 
with such anguish by patient labor and sacrifices, Lichfielders have 
named its three spires "The Ladies of the Vale." 

Monmouth treasures two beautiful old abbeys situated in a 
mountain-ringed valley, a deep bowl of greenery. Tintern Abbey, 
of which much is still standing, is a ruin of spellbinding beauty. I 
have seen the abbey at sunrise, pale rose and elusive, and at hot noon 
when the shadowed nave and isles were inky purple. But it is in the 
softness of the moon that Tintern Abbey attains the quality of silver 
lace, so ephemeral that I expect to see it slip invisible moorings and 
float away over the oak-crowned mountains. 

Llanthony Priory had never the inspiring beauty of Tintern, yet 

185 



its history is exciting. Tall tales advise that the monks wore chain- 
mail next their flesh, not so much for penance invoked by the stern 
fanaticism of the order, as for protection against sudden marauders 
forever swooping down on the rich monastery in the dead of night. 

Two different abbots ran off with wildly beautiful Welsh women, 
"sorceresses and worse." One of these defaulters of his vows, Fray 
Lother, became a successful and widely notorious bandit called The 
Monkish Scourge. Llanthony is now incorporated into an inn where 
you may dine at long, refectory tables off pewter plates. I ate roast 
mutton and creamed leeks that were extremely good. I listened 
to my landlord discourse on the history of Llanthony Inn, which 
made spirited hearing, invigorating as the apple brandy of the region. 

Pontypool reminds me of a French walled town in Provence, 
although the climate, I confess, differs greatly. Monmouth winds 
from off the chancy Severn Estuary. Chepstow Castle is a splendid 
giant in riven stone, doubly awesome because of its situation on a 
narrow and high tongue of rock which runs out eastward between 
the foaming River Wye and a deep ravine. 

Raglan Castle rises from a rock-fringed moat of vast proportions, 
in which the fifteenth-century gatehouse with impressive machicola- 
tions, clustered battlements, and hexagonal keep reflect their length. 
The Red Hall, a soaring chamber with four hooded fireplaces and a 
stone dais at one end, was once painted blood red with the mullions 
gilded. Traces of this color can still be seen. 

In the stark town of Newport the atmosphere of narrow stone- 
walled streets, mere byways in most cases, is leaden gray. Warrantably, 
the whole place has a Roman look, for it was once the seat of Junius 
Lexus, a Roman governor who maintained great state until he was 
murdered in his bed by a Saxon chieftain for "fomenting a traffic in 
wives and sundry maidens" which would seem to brand Lexus a 
procurer on a grand scale. Newport rises high on stone foundations 
amid a ring of rocky escarpments. The Saturday Good Fowl Market 
is something to see. Ducks, gray geese, wild fowl, both alive and 
plucked for roasting, are brought in by the thousands. The tradi- 
tional Sunday dinner of Monmouth, as in nearby Wales, is cream 
of leek soup, roast goose with fried apple rings, and a Cheshire cheese 
tart. 

The cathedral is of twelfth century construction, big and grim 
but noteworthy because of the gigantic reach of the square per- 
pendicular tower built by Jasper Tudor, progenitor of Henry VIII. 

186 



At Lydney I crossed the Wye into Gloucestershire. Immediately 
jagged gray stone escarpments vanished in a sunlit haze. As if I had 
turned the page of an old book showing engravings of medieval 
English countryside, I was in "that other time, that other place, that 
forest with the greenest face" called Forest of Dean. Oaks and beeches, 
limes, and alder trees encroached upon the winding road. I met a 
group of farmers bound for a clearing where a stand of ripe corn 
was ready for harvest. Some of the older men wore the classic linen 
smock, the square yoke and sleeve bands puckered into knots to 
resemble a honeycomb. Smocking is an art in needlework peculiar 
to English country seamstresses, fast disappearing save only in remote 
regions. Deeper into Gloucestershire a gentle beauty of landscape 
mantles the land. Westbury-upon-Severn is a large market town; 
there is a delicious air of perpetual festival here. Gardens flame forth 
in herbaceous splendor. Handsome timbered houses march in step 
with the white facades of Georgian domiciles, pinked up stylishly 
with window boxes brilliant with flowers. 

The Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill on Whit Monday is presided 
over by Tom Windo, who engages one's attention as the replica of all 
smocked, gaitered, and ruddy-faced farmers painted by George More- 
land in his genre pictures of the English pastoral scene. Tom Windo 
wears a tawny-pink knee-length linen smock adorned by a master- 
piece of smocking at chest and wrists. For this ceremonial occasion he 
wears a tall silk hat, the crown wound with a fringed silk scarf, a 
custom enduring from Plantagenet days when tourneys were held at 
the foot of Cooper's Hill and every herald announcing the jousts 
sported a scarf of his lord's colors wound around his cap. Windo 
stands midway of the hill. At a whistled signal a double Gloucester 
cheese, protected by wood known as a "round doughnut," is let 
loose. A few score of competitors chase downhill in pursuit of the 
cheese. The first to capture it receives a prize of money, not the 
cheese, for this contest must go on from forenoon to teatime. 

Another traditional cheese festival is held on Whit Monday at the 
beautiful old town of St. Briavels in the heart of Forest of Dean. 
In 1206 the Lady of Briavels (and riddle me a lovelier name than 
that) in her piety gave free bread and cheese to a crowd of hungry 
lepers fleeing from a burning lazar house on the fringes of the forest. 
Today, dating from the lady's first generosity, this "Free Bread and 
Cheese to All" is distributed to parishioners of St. Briavels from 

187 



windows in the ivy-hung churchyard walls after evening service, 
accompanied by choir music. 

At Sharpness, the Tides of Severn Inn served at dinner a superb 
salmon with parsley butter and "blanched" potatoes, small and per- 
fectly round as marbles, a curious species of tuber that matures 
under the soil like a bunch of grapes. I remarked to the landlord 
about the size and excellence of the salmon. "Go over to the Estuary," 
he said. "That is the real Gloucester way of fishing." 

So I went out the next day to Oldbury to see the hub of what 
is still a romantic industry, romantic because here it is practised 
precisely as the Saxons fished these waters. It would be difficult to 
find more exciting or unusual scenery anywhere in Britain than that 
of Severn Estuary above Avonmouth and below Newnham. To the 
northwest rise the steep wooded slopes of the ancient "bosky," the 
Forest of Dean. Southwest stretches the beautiful Vale of Berkeley 
dominated by its great Norman castle of horrendous memory. Beyond 
all this the high Cotswold Scarp is boundary and horizon. Vase- 
shaped "putts," baskets of osier withes, are woven in the same fashion 
today as those found in perfect state of preservation buried as part of 
his household and battle gear in the cave "tomb" of a Saxon chieftain 
in a "Walton" or town in a forest (Forest of Dean in this instance). 
Most interesting to me are the "gert putts," the great baskets, shaped 
like trumpets with wide gaping mouths, measuring nearly six feet 
across. The putts are laid out in long lines facing the ebb, usually at 
the tail of a pool. Although prehistoric in origin, these putts are 
the most efficient method ever devised for fishing the Severn Estuary. 

On my way Bristolward I stopped at Berkeley Castle, a somber 
keep at best, but on the morning I saw it, the lower bastions were 
shrouded in heavy mist and the battlements seemed as dark mono- 
liths to support dun clouds, not only heavy with rain, but with an 
old sorrow too. An air of perpetual mourning for a foul deed done 
treacherously to an already dying man haunts the battlements of 
Berkeley. The harpies of remorse ride hard its mossy walls. 

In 1327 Edward II was brutally murdered in the dungeons of 
Berkeley Castle on a night when he was near to dying from the 
torture of standing chin deep in Severn water high in flood that had 
been deliberately let rise into his cell. Historians have sifted carefully 
masses of evidence to the effect that the King's wife, Isabella of France, 
called "She-Wolf," paid bravos to torture and murder Edward, 
issuing the excuse that he died from prison fevers. Her hatred for 

188 



Edward had caused her to subject him publicly to unmentionable 
indignities, both before and after playing a decisive part in a plot 
hatched by Guy of Warwick, the Black Dog of Arden, to murder 
Piers Gaveston, the King's favorite. It has now been proved almost 
beyond doubt that Isabella of France did, in truth, engineer the 
murder of her husband, Edward of Carnarvon. It seems to me ironic 
that, whether accidentally or by design, the carved and garishly 
painted head of Isabella of France should adorn as keystone the 
arch over a choir stall in Bristol Cathedral situated so close to Berkeley 
Castle. It is an extraordinarily revealing portrait a thin face, the 
huge almond-shaped eyes heavily lined in black as was fashionable 
in the French court at the time, a viperish mouth, thin-lipped and 
innately cruel, above a "crone's chin." Isabella wears a horned hennin 
draped in a veil painted in red and gold lilies. Her chin is bound by 
a folded wimple and she wears a queen's crown set low on her brow. 
I find this face an exposition of cruelty personified. 

Bristol bears only scant traces of its former magnificence in public 
building and long terraces of Carolinian and Georgian private 
mansions. Until 1939 Bristol was a city of terraces, the architecture 
varying from late medieval houses to sweeping crescents set like 
rows of upended dominoes with white Georgian mansions built by 
the rich shipping fraternity lavishly expending profits from East 
India Company ventures. Because of enemy bombing only fragments 
of these terraces remain intact. 

At Lawrence Weston, on the outskirts of Bristol, there has recently 
been excavated a spacious Roman villa two hundred and fifty feet in 
length, of the fourth century, revealing two extraordinarily beautiful 
tessellated pavements. In an apse-shaped bathroom, a hypocaust 
system of plumbing is unharmed and the skeleton of a young girl, 
believed to be that of a Roman slave, in a crouching position, hand 
raised as if in supplication and facing east in the traditional way of 
greeting the rising sun, has been found. What lends an unusually 
interesting touch to this acquisition of Roman antiquity by the 
Corporation of Bristol is that just above the site, brooding on its 
box-terraced ramp, stands King's Weston, a huge Palladian "palace" 
built by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1710 for Sir Edward Southwell, a 
famous dilettante in the arts, and "master profligate whose fingers 
so burn in agony at the touch of minted gold that he must needs fling 
it incontinently away. Oh, riotous, oh, base, unfilial waster," as his 

189 



indignant, and it would appear, sore beset father wrote to the youth's 
guardian from his deathbed. 

King's Weston has sometimes been called "Little Blenheim/' 
though it seems to me scarcely comparable in importance. I presume 
this reference by critics is because Vanbrugh employed here his 
favorite central facade, flat Corinthian-capped pilasters massively 
supporting a pediment, richly corniced, above which rises an open 
colonnade of keystoned arches; and from this, set as if a chemin 
de frise^ rises an ornate bank of chimneys. Where Blenheim thunders 
at the approaching visitor, bold as a blast of trumpet brass from 
embattled roof colonnades and gigantic massing of battle trophy, 
King's Weston behaves with dignity, presents a perfectly scaled 
fagade that is just a little more unusual than one habitually sees. But 
this house was an experiment in toy size for Vanbrugh. 

The interior of the house consists of high ceilinged cube and 
double cube rooms. All are very elegant in the graceful scrolls and 
masks of mythical deities in white plaster. When Sir Edward South- 
well came to his house fresh from foreign contacts, he brought from 
London a woman adept in the making of papier mach models of 
practically anything one wished. She fashioned in papier-mache 
miniature replicas of the house, all outbuildings, and gardens com- 
plete to lilies floating on a lagoon of mirror, and pieces of furniture. 
These models, a collection unique in the annals of art, were displayed 
on large tables and in cabinets in a room put aside for that purpose. 

The Bristol Zoo, because of world-wide reputation of strange and 
wondrous ways to house curiosities of the animal world, is a magnet 
to draw visitors of every age. Perhaps the most unusual gesture is a 
temple-cum-maharaja's palace, complete with Mohammedan dome 
and filigree walls to house a raucous colony of Macaco, rhesus monkeys 
from India. 

Cirencester today is a beautiful, predominantly medieval town so 
ripe in tone, with the lovely golden bloom of lichened walls, some 
built early as Roman days from native Cotswold stone, that its 
appearance is actually fiery from golden lichen superimposed upon 
golden stone. Usually gold lace laid upon golden velvet breeds a 
sumptuousness rarely seen, but here it is on every hand. Cirencester 
covers a great civilization, for the town foundations rest upon Roman 
Corinium (from the River Corin), the present Churn, on which it 
lies; later, the Saxons called it Cyrnceaster. The importance of 
Corinium during the first century arose from its position on the 

190 



Fosse Way, then the Roman frontier of Britain. Prosperity embraced 
the town. Roman villas by the score were built. Soon Corinium 
became second only to London in size and importance. Haverfield 
says, "Beyond doubt rich men must have been as common as 
weeds around Cirencester during the Roman age." 

The Abbot of Cirencester wrote a diatribe on luxurious practices 
in 1213. "The pleasant bark of hounds is more delightful to the ears 
of our nobles than the sweet harmony of musical bells," referring 
to the church bells which, for all their sweetness, did not wean 
hunters from the chase. Cirencester was then a royal demesne and the 
king's hounds were kenneled within earshot of the newly erected 
abbey church. The woods which form part of the park of Cirencester 
House, seat of Earl Bathurst, are hunted today by the Buckhurst 
Hounds, as far as Birdlip and Miserden. 

The many-windowed Georgian frontage of Cirencester House is 
best seen from the top of the church tower. There, over the old 
clustered roofs of russet tiles or lichened brier-wood shingles, brist- 
ling with chimney pots, the house rests within its walled parklands. 
A serene house, it is golden at all times, but when the sun lights its 
walls it seems consumed in glory of luminous, gilten light. 

In Market Place the church raises a perpendicular tower above 
a triple-tiered porch, enriched by many lancet windows delicately 
mullioned, set into three rising bays. A most agreeable, albeit un- 
usual, arrangement for the facade of a Norman church. 

The ancient wool warehouses in Thomas Street, big, important, 
gabled-stone buildings, attest to the great prosperity brought to 
Cirencester by the Flemish wool trade; the merchants built them- 
selves imposing houses mainly of Cotswold stone. Mead House is a 
stately Georgian structure with rusticated windows to the lower story. 
The flanking wings are long drawn out, flaunting immense rusticated 
chimneys. In Castle Street is, to my mind, the handsomest house in 
town. Of pale champagne stone, it is early Georgian with six great 
Palladian windows on the front. Abberley House on Silver Street, 
another fine example of early Georgian, is now the Cirencester 
Museum. 

Dollar Street might be called The Street of a Hundred Gables. 
Cecily Hill, which leads to the gates of Cirencester House Park, is 
lined with houses of all conditions and various periods. 

The most curious house is the Hospital of St. John in Spitalgate 
Lane, a long, low stone building dating from 1437. A loggia of squat 



fourteenth-century Market Cross bears intricately interlaced armorial 
emblazonings. Minster Lovell is a nearly hidden village of thatched 
stone cottages smothered in rose vines. The majestic ruins of Minster 
Lovell Castle dream away the centuries, looming above the Wind- 
rush, a tributary of the Thames. The great hall of this castle is said 
to have been the scene of the tragedy that prompted the poignant tale 
"The Mistletoe Bough" a ballad of Christmas festivities stabbed by 
misadventure. But, to me, vastly more nostalgic of dire happenings 
in English history is the fate of Francis Lovell, a follower of Richard 
III, who figures in the rhyme, "The Cat, the Rat, and Lovell the 
Dog, Rule all England Under the Hogg" (Richard's heraldic beast 
being a wild boar, Lo veil's a hound). Lovell disappeared after the 
Battle of Bosworth Field. Some say he escaped by swimming the 
River Nene and stealthily returned to his castle, here to hide in a 
secret room, hidden until the winds of chance under a new dynasty 
should "sweeten his cause." He was never heard from again. A few 
years ago a wall of the castle fell out onto the turf. A small secret 
room, high up in a tower, was revealed, having only a narrow lancet 
window and a trap door. Disclosed, too, was the skeleton of a tall, 
broad-shouldered man, the bones still tangled in coarse sacking, 
crouched over a table. The skeleton of a hound lay on the floor. 
Rusted armor was piled in a corner. Historians believe these are the 
skeletons of Francis Lovell, he that was lampooned Dog, and his 
faithful hound, badge of his house. 

Bourton-on-the- Water is a mellowed gold town. Its chief curiosity 
is an erratic river. The Windrush splashes at a great rate between 
fern-bordered banks straight down the middle of the High Street. 
Thirty-odd narrow little humped stone bridges "footpath bridges" 
they are called locallycross this river. At any hour of the day you 
will see fishermen casting for the wondrous trout that seem indige- 
nous to icy-cold Cotswold streams. 

In the elegantly descriptive Regency sense, Cheltenham is a 
"prodigious stylish" town. It has, even today, a completely Regency 
flavor, just as Bath is a predominantly Georgian spa. To walk at 
eleven o'clock in the morning in the Promenade faced with classic 
porticos is "all the crack." 

Montpellier Pump Room is a white temple to Hygeia, complete 
with vast mushroom-pink rotunda and a colonnaded portico of such 
length that devotees "taking the waters" may take exercise as well 
in inclement weather by just strolling up and down, listening to, 

194 



and perhaps adding to, all the latest gossip. Light from high-set lan- 
tern windows diffuses a luminous pink glow throughout the vast 
circular Pump Room, causing men and women to look their best, 
which probably accounts for its always having been the most ac- 
claimed center in town for holding balls, routs, and "assemblies." 

Pittville Pump Room displays a lesser rotunda, features a Prom- 
enade, a pillared loggia, but is not nearly so handsome inside as 
Montpellier. It was at Pittville in 1826 that Lady Carstairs, a 
ravishing black-haired Junoesque belle of the period, known to the 
fashionable world as Hebe, died of "stoppage of the heart and the 
weight of a yellow satin train four meters in length/* caused by 
dancing for fifteen hours without ceasing, having in the exercise 
danced half a hundred cavalry officers stationed in the town and an 
impressive number of beaux "out of all strength/' 

The Royal Crescent, built in 1809, is a beautifully articulated 
sweep of white houses smartened immeasurably by delicate black 
ironwork balconies and area railings, a conceit for which Chelten- 
ham houses are famous. 

Lansdown Place, built in 1825, is again in white or palest yellow 
stucco Regency taste. Here black, dark green, or claret red iron- 
canopied balconies set the tone for chinoiserie. 

Imperial Square is a gesture in Regency taste, the houses seem- 
ingly posed behind gigantic Chinese birdcages. Sometimes the entire 
facade will be veiled in this black iron tracery. 

In St. Paul's Lane long rows of simple-faced, square houses are 
painted in red and yellow chequerboard designs. As smart accent the 
doors are painted in black. This street was once called Cavalry Row 
for the influx of officers who had holdings here. 

Shopping in Cheltenham is rewarding, for the choice of mer- 
chandise is vast, ranging from flowers and fruits, to gloves and silk 
scarves, some designed in rich colors to feature the great annual race, 
the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a four-mile steeplechase with excep- 
tionally stiff jumps, which is run each year a fortnight before the 
Aintree Grand National. Antiques are displayed in white, pale blue, 
or pink walled shops, many of them at one time the grand town 
houses of sporting peers. One can buy any sort of furniture or 
jewelry from four-poster beds to carved coral or tortoise-shell Re- 
gency parure. London specialty shops have branches in Cheltenham, 
to tempt the crowd of visitors who drift continually, all year round, 
in and out of town for race meetings, hunting with the North Cots- 

195 



wold Hounds, or to take the waters by day and regale their souls at 
night attending music festivals. 

In Montpellier Row a long range of shopfronts identifies taste 
and ingenuity in design. A black marble Greek cornice marks the 
roof line, the length of the Row. To divide each shop from its 
fellow an over-life-sized caryatid, standing on a fluted column of gray 
marble, supports on classicly arranged tresses the marble cornice. 
The figure, ivory white in tone, is draped in chlamys and chiton, 
carved in Athenian style. 

The Queen's Hotel is one of my favorite hostelries in England. 
In appearance it is a neo-Palladian masterpiece, with columned 
portico, the pediment deep corniced in white stone. The dining 
room is in high Georgian taste, pale green, white, and gilt, and the 
food served at its tables is of an excellence. The caves are famous 
for vintage wines. 

The "great man" of Cheltenham in 1738 was a romantic figure, 
Captain Skillicorne. He built many houses and introduced passable 
plumbing, such as inside toilets, to counteract a scourge of unsightly 
privies. He was known in later life as "the elegantorum strict 
valetudinarian." 

Cheltenham has its architectural curiosity, too: Fauconberg House, 
built for Lord Fauconberg in 1781, a vastly tall and narrow house, 
a very monolith in ornate Bavarian baroque style, built on a most 
entrancing site, Bayshill Slope, fronting a panorama of the Malvern 
Hills and the Severn Plain. By far the most palatial dwelling in 
town, Lord Fauconberg's Folly had rock crystal chandeliers " by the 
dozens/' mosiac floors, even in the kitchen, and he prided himself 
that "I keep three mistresses happy, all congenial in one house, a 
Spanish jade, a Goddess out of Italy, and a golden Bar-Maid of no 
particular nationality." 

I have read in old chronicles of "the rich wool town of Gloucester, 
too proud to bow its head to the commons," meaning by that what 
the world today terms snobbery. The town has a richly carved look. 
Its proud boast of stemming from remote antiquity as a power in 
the Kingdom of Mercia rivaling in importance Winchcomb, the 
"king's hold" or capital, is ever apparent. Like so many ancient 
cathedral towns, Gloucester cannot be properly seen in a short space 
of time. An entire day spent in Gloucester Cathedral is hardly long 
enough. It is a mighty edifice as a religious house, as well as a 
towering fortress. Being built from local Cotswold stone, its walls 

196 



seem to pulse with golden light, and a kind o religious zeal pervades 
the nave. As I walked through the immense ambulatory the golden 
light was radiant, though the day was overcast and misty. In this 
stone gallery Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, walked in feigned 
remorse after the murder of Edward II at nearby Berkeley Castle. 
Feigned, the Abbot of Gloucester said, because of what befell War- 
wick as he paced the ambulatory. Near staggering in the fast fading 
light, he trod upon a toad which, squelching under his mailed foot, 
sent the earl slipping first to his knees, then falling forward to 
crack his bared head against a stone coping. The Abbot wrote in 
shaking, spidery script, "We laid him upon a bed of stone. Until 
the angelus tolled he lay like one dead. Almighty has sent his wrath 
upon this hypocrite." From what transpired later this seems like 
a sudden, oblique kind of providential vengeance. Warwick never 
fully recovered from this concussion. He lived in great pain until 
the day of his death. It was said, "To place a helm upon his head, 
he trembled in great agony/' 

Gloucester Cathedral is rich in funerary brasses, in armored and 
bejeweled effigy. The crypt under the nave is the largest in the 
world outside the Vatican in Rome. In the "Old Borough" street 
follows street, fronted by fine stone houses, representative of nine 
centuries of considered building. The museum at Gloucester is a 
haunt of nostalgic enchantment to the history-wise visitor, or the 
student of English history preparing for initiation into the mys- 
teries of cruelty, and the nobles* insensate bid for power which 
enveloped succeeding dynasties like a mantle. There are countless 
relics to be seen here battle gear, unholily hacked from the corpse 
of Richard of Gloucester, and documents pertaining to the exalted 
treacheries perpetrated on Bosworth Field by Lord Stanley. 

When I crossed the boundary from Gloucester into Worcester- 
shire, ancient tithe barns loomed on the sky line. I sat in the shadow 
of the tithe barn of Bredon Hill, looking down into the village 
green of Bredon-upon-Avon. How mellow the dusky, golden-brown 
of the roofs sheltering two-story merchants' houses which line the 
green, and front the High Street, with walls of shining white plaster, 
crossedhatched, lozenged, and diapered in ancient black timbers 
roofed in thatch. Here is found the almost lost art of a distinctive 
style of thatching, where a craftsman braids twists of straw to make 
a design across the sloping thatch, devising hearts, birds in flight, 
garlands of puffed out flowers, even a crudely drawn highwayman, 

197 



pistol in hand, or perhaps a strolling saint, leaning upon a burgeon- 
ing staff. All this invention is kept alive in decorative vitality on 
the roofs of Bredon. 

This village lies half asleep beside Avon Water, its rush- and 
willow-bordered banks giving way to the quiet slopes of the vale 
which sweep up to Bredon Hill. I am persuaded that here within 
a very small compass, in a lovely pastoral setting, one finds as many 
different reminders of the continuity of the country, of its present 
vigor and past architectural glory as exists anywhere in the English 
shires. I suggest a picnic on a sunny day, when the air is crystal 
clear, among the murmuring meadow grasses on the crest of Bredon 
Hill. OS and away stretch Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Warwick- 
shire, Gloucestershire, and dimly I can even see the tall Norman 
tower on the parish church of Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire a 
rousing sight of ancient, fertile country, spangled with thatch-roofed 
farmsteads and the thrusting beauty of lichened stone tithe barns, 
the "tax castles" of the Wolds. Two turret-like masses of white rock, 
which rise like pillars of salt, are called the King and Queen. These 
natural columns mark the old manorial courts. As I walk down the 
hill into the village I gaze on the very heart of Shakespeare's Eng- 
land and surely, viewed from this height, the over-all scene cannot 
have perceptibly changed since "walking Will," as his schoolmaster 
called the habitually truant poet, sat on Bredon Hill to compose 
his sonnets. 

All about here once throve strange cults. Sun worshipers built 
altars; sunken chambers, caverns hollowed out of living rock, bear- 
ing strange, untranslatable scrivening etched into the stone, are 
constantly being exposed. Bambury Stone, a great boulder of oolitic 
stone resembling the hull of a viking ship, gleams against the green 
grasses where it once served sun worshipers as a sacrificial altar. 
Roman spearheads, battle gear, and diverse Roman minted coins, 
some greatly debased, are turned up by farmers plowing and by 
ubiquitous souvenir hunters. It is said that a primeval toad of great 
size, the black skin scaly as armadillo armor, was found alive in the 
center of a block of freestone twenty feet underground, but died 
after a few hours, oddly, from asphyxiation by unaccustomed oxygen. 

The church at Bredon is an ecclesiastical curiosity. It was built 
by Norman masons on the foundations of a monastery founded by 
Eanulf, grandfather of King Offa of Mercia. From a square, crenel- 
ated Norman tower, a needle-sharp spire rises to the great height 

198 



of one hundred and fifty feet. The interior of the church is un- 
expectedly splendorous in color. A wide frieze composes three rows 
of ancient heraldic encaustic tile, which emblazon the whole front 
of the three altar steps. 

Perhaps the most striking of all church effigies I have seen are 
three figures in stone (once painted in lifelike hues) let into the 
altar panel. Three tall, slim, fourteenth-century notables are repre- 
sented: a warrior in chain mail, his wife wearing an exaggerated, 
curiously eastern, swathed turban and chin-wimple, and the tall, 
stripling son garbed simply in doublet and hose. 

Armorial bearings of some of the grandest haut noble assemblage 
of Plantagenet times seem to ring out as a clarion call announcing 
to the throne the noble Ferrers, Beauchamps, Cantilupes, Badles- 
meres, Fauconbergs, Despencers, Wakes, Berkeleys, Clares, Strong- 
bows, Mortimers, De Veres, and De Grevilles. There are over two 
hundred of them, all names that have figured hugely in the stormy 
and peaceful decades from which the history of Britain is woven. 

The Severn bridges are notable in the mind of every student 
architect. Fifteen of them cross the river along its serpentine course. 
Thomas Telford's three-arch balustraded bridge at Bewdley is grace- 
ful as the rise and fall of the wings of the heron which nest in the 
river meres at Bewdley Rise. 

I crossed the Severn into Worcester over John Gwynn's magnificent 
gesture in Cotswold stone. Built in 1771, this bridge is of Palladian 
design vigorous in profondo of massive blocks of stone, employing 
five arches to span the river, and a long sloping rampart at either 
extremity, a most auspicious entrance to this cathedral city. John 
Gwynn was a friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who visited him in 
Worcester to see his masterly production. Reynolds took canvas and 
paints tQ one bank of the river to paint the flow of arches which had 
intrigued him. He called Gywnn over. "The church is in the way/' 
He pointed to the opposite bank where the great tower rose above 
the tiles of the city. 

"Well, I cannot move the church/* Gwynn answered, a shade 
testily. 

Equally testy, Sir Joshua replied, "Well, then I cannot paint your 
bridge. That tower throws the composition all out of plumb." 

Later Reynolds painted the bridge, and presented the picture to 
his friend with a note attached: "I never recognize a dare," which 
of course meant he was sore as a galled horse at being brooked. The 

199 



painting of Gwynn's Severn Bridge, however, shows the Cathedral 
Close of Worcester sans Cathedral. 

Of extremely ancient beginnings, the Cathedral has had three 
metamorphoses. The nave is a great upward sweep of groined arches, 
the fan ribbing interlacing overhead. The color in this nave saves 
the scene from a prevailing coldness, by the warmth of saffron-green 
sandstone trim, acting as a foil to the bone-whiteness of the oddly 
named oolite sandstone. 

Save small restaurants and a plethora of tearooms clustered about 
the Cathedral precincts, Worcester lacks first-class hotels. The Star 
is certainly the best. The rooms are large, light, and comfortably 
appointed. An excellent buttery is maintained here. A specialty is 
cold Melton Mowbray pie, that succulent compiling of beef, ham, 
kidneys, and garden vegetables, their rich juices tented under a 
flaky pie-crust. 

High on a hill in the town of Dudley stands Dudley Castle, of 
1340 construction. A great circular gatehouse dominates this refuge 
of the vicious Duke of Northumberland, who was forever running 
afoul of "the barons." A long, three-story wing of enormous length 
contains the great hall, with its range of high-set stone mullioned 
windows. The device of carved stone corbels and armored knights 
acting in the place of caryatids to the groined roof is triumphant and 
certainly unique in Gothic decoration. A feature seldom incorpo- 
rated in a castle for defense is the stables, built in 1620 as a "dress- 
age pavilion" for the schooling of Spanish Barbs in haute ecole, a 
style of horsemanship immensely fashionable during the reign of 
Charles II. 

Pershore Abbey in the Vale of Pershore is a magical place at sun- 
set. I suggest waiting after the golden-rose glow has waned with the 
setting sun to see by moonlight its slender thirteenth-century, deli- 
cately articulated tower and choir stalls, rising like a flight of steps 
to celestial regions. Ephemeral, these stone traceries seem, in the 
night breeze, tremulous as the dusty, pearl-gray wings of a white 
Abbess moth fluttering through the pointed arches. At any time of 
day Pershore seems to me to be one of the chief beauties of early 
medieval ecclesiastic building in existence. 

Great Malvern Priory, set so felicitously in a wooded glade of the 
Malvern Hills, is stark and stern, lent a glowing richness it would 
otherwise not possess by a wealth of superb late medieval stained 

200 



glass from a series of high pointed and ogival windows. One great 
circular window depicts the Creation of the Universe. 

From any point of the compass from which a traveler chooses to 
enter the Cotswold village of Broadway, it will fill the eye, and 
there are roads winding through beautiful upland country from 
Cheltenham, Evesham, and Stanway. 

Arriving along the road from London through High Wycombe 
and Moreton-in-Marsh, just before sighting Broadway there is a 
high hill crested by The Fish Inn. Spread out before one's gaze lies 
the Vale of Evesham. This vale stretches away to the templed Malvern 
Hills. It cradles lovely Evesham in its breast, and down there in the 
valley, at the foot of the hill, lies Broadway, a medieval town carved 
out of a golden stone, as if it were a model prepared to signify all 
that is admirable in Cotswold architecture. 

Court Farm is a gracious house of wandering rose-patterned walls 
where Mary Anderson Navarro lived after she left the stage and 
where her son lives now, to walk among the gardens riotous with 
every flower, pointed up with topiary conceits, which his mother 
laid out. It is a garden that still retains the spirit of the planter who 
mingled affection with every bulb or seed she planted during a long 
tenure at Court Farm. A wide single street, so broad in fact that it 
gives the town its name, meanders through the trees and garden 
plots which front each one of the cottages and the tall, gabled stone 
houses that caused John of Gaunt to lean over in his saddle to speak 
to his seneschal when riding through Broadway bound for his "great 
apple farm" at Snowshill. 

"All gold/ 5 he muttered, "gold, gold everywhere," pointing here 
and there. "A worthy town to be a princely seat." 

An important house is that of William Grevel, in the fourteenth 
century called "Flower of English Wool Princes." Broadway is most 
agreeable in early spring or late autumn when the droves of transient 
trippers have disappeared, when the North Cotswold Hounds hold 
the first meet of the season in front of the ivied walls of the Lygon 
Arms. Red coats blaze like figures in a tapestry of the chase against 
green of ivy and gold of stone. Hunters with gleaming hides prance 
or paw the gravel, a little restive, impatient to hear the horn an- 
nouncing "move off to covert"; hounds run around in circles, greet- 
ing old friends, to the consternation of the whips who are habitually 
touchy, fearing that they will never get the hounds in pack again. 
But I have found they always do. This is the way to savor Broadway 

201 



and its magnificent Lygon Arms. A tall pole stands in front of 
the Lygon Arms on which is painted in regal style the arms of the 
Lygons of Maddersfield Court, Earls of Beauchamp. 

I have stopped for varying lengths of time at the Lygon for years. 
The rose gardens near the tennis courts are famous, as the fruit 
orchards are famous for damson plums, apricots, pears, and for 
raspberry, strawberry, and gooseberry. All these contribute their 
bounty to the fruit tarts served at dinner. The Inn is a nobly pro- 
portioned building pointing many gables. Deeply incised above the 
massive stone portal of the entrance door is the date 1620, but an 
older house, part of the Bishopric of Evesham, is incorporated into 
the present inn. In tradition the food is English as the barons of 
roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, which is incomparable here the 
cauliflower au gratin, the new garden peas, the squash, turnips, the 
salad lettuces you may have passed when taking a morning walk 
through the spacious kitchen gardens. 

The dining room is an addition, which was undertaken with the 
greatest possible care, so as not to jar the tranquillity, the perfect 
balance of the original paneled and black-oak-beamed house. It is 
vitally alive with painted armorial bearings forming a frieze above 
oak paneling, magnificent silver plate, and ancient Cotswold brasses 
displayed on oak dressers used for serving banquets. 

There is a King Charles Room, where the king slept when he 
passed through Broadway in 1645 to converse on secret matters with 
local Royalists. Oliver Cromwell slept in the best chamber in the 
house, which still retains its Elizabethan fireplaces and unusually 
spirited modeling of shells in the plaster ceiling. The ghosts of King 
Charles and Cromwell are active, and either frighten or vastly enter- 
tain the guests who write to Douglas Barrington, the friendly man- 
ager, begging on arrival to be quartered in either of the rooms. 
There seems to be little favoritism, though a good many Quakers 
and Methodists or elderly spinsters prefer Oliver. 

Snowshill comes suddenly to view after a climb of nine hundred 
feet. This is the secret, cloudland village, the legendary "apple farm" 
portioned to Prince John by his father. Later it was given, together 
with the "valley-borne village of Ye Stanton," as dowry to Catherine 
Parr by Henry VIII in his dotage. The manor house of Snowshill 
is architecturally a perfect Cotswold farmstead on the grand scale. 
Stanton was called by Sir Walter Scott "the greatest jewel in the 
Cotswold crown/* a slumbering village with spacious village green 

202 



where Cotswold country dances are held. Stanton Court is an Eliz- 
abethan house featuring tall, narrow gables, each one a tiara finial 
to exquisite oriel windows, containing the original thick pink and 
violet glass. There is an amusing story told of an ancient gaffer of 
Stanton. The old man, feebly crowding a century in age, was sitting 
on a stone seat in the village green, smoking a tiny "cobbler" pipe. 
An American tourist drove past in a motor car. He stopped, leaned 
out and said, "Good day. This is a fine place you've got here. I 
guess you think it's the prettiest village in the world." 

The old man, not looking at the stranger, spat a gob, and in a 
tremolo answered, "Don't know's I do. I ain't started travelin' yet/' 

The name of Catherine Parr rings resonantly through annals of 
this part of the Cotswold. After the death of Henry VIII, she "re- 
tired to sway her charities" to Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe. 
This is a battlemented mansion, never a castle for defense. Now the 
townspeople of Winchcombe say, "We have the most beautiful and 
kindest ghost in all England." Our lady, as she is affectionately called 
hereabouts, walks in the long, pleached alley which is part of the 
magnificent gardens of Sudeley. I have seen her, only recently. It 
was a night of full moon. After dinner I went out to the gardens 
alone. There she was (like Queen Elizabeth walking nightly at Rich- 
mond, Catherine Parr is a "nightly walker") walking slowly along 
the mossy path. I stood to one side. She passed me wrapped in a 
long mantle of dark blue, a white veil folded over a crescent-shaped 
coif, her eyes lowered to a small book she carried. I waited, she came 
back, a little more rapidly. Her eyes now stared straight ahead. It 
was as though she had remembered something she must do, and 
was late about it. What I particularly noticed was that she had 
slipped one index finger between the pages of her book to keep her 
place for later reading. 

Upper and Lower Slaughter of the rather blood-letting name are 
twin villages situated on the old Roman Fosse Way. Lower Slaughter 
is a "river hamlet" rising sheer from the reedy Windrush. Upper 
Slaughter is erect and high busted, a bulwark of lichened stone. The 
Manor House or Slaughter House, the actual name for centuries, is 
perhaps the most exciting big seventeenth-century manor house in 
the entire Cotswolds. Richard Brinsley Sheridan was often a guest 
here. It is said that he wrote The Rivals while sitting in a garden 
gazebo, and drafted the first scenes for School for Scandal one night 

203 



after "drinking his dinner/' taking his character of Lady Teazel 
from a fractious widow, a daughter of his host. 

I have always been partial to Chaddesley Corbett (locally pro- 
nounced Chadgly). It is a singularly unspoiled old village having a 
history going back to King Harold's widowed Queen, Algyth, who 
bit off half of her tongue as she swooned at the shock of hearing of 
her husband's death by the Conqueror when he, standing at bay 
under a rain of Norman arrows near Hastings, "spylled up his lyffe 
inn bloud." 

The ancient Forest of Piperode was considered by Edward I to 
afford for a right royal hunt the best stag and wild boar in his realm. 
Algyth, King Harold's queen, was the daughter of Earl Leofric and 
his wife, Lady Godiva, to whom Chaddesley Chase belonged. Ruins 
of the first stone castle to be built in Worcestershire by Leofric lie 
at the edge of the Forest of Piperode. The Talbot Inn was built 
before Agincourt as a residence by Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, 
according to old chronicles, "that bigot, that distracted warrior who 
disdains armour in battle, declaring that his soul is proof against 
any weapon forged by man." However, his head was bashed in in 
battle by a spiked mace. This ancient inn differs from the usual 
in its arrangement of oak timbers in pyramidal and Crosshatch form 
on whitened stone walls, elevated on a massive stone dais. There is 
a deep oak cornice, none of the expected gables commonly found 
in 1415 buildings of this style. The roof is a long, suave, uninter- 
rupted ridgepole, the old plum-brown shingles beautifully mellow 
against a duck-egg blue sky. 

Stanway House, my prime favorite of all Cotswold houses, is 
a great Jacobean mansion, the long walls forming the letter L. One 
side, facing the terraced garden, resembles a gigantic, faceted dia- 
mond. This effect is due to six great oriel windows, ascending from 
terrace stones to gabled roof. Gardens, park, and ancient, timbered 
tithe barn stand close to the house at one end of the bowling green. 
The gatehouse was designed by Inigo Jones in his finest flower- 
ing. The delicately gabled roof is confined within a balustrade which 
sprouts slender plinths, alternating with urns, to crown the leaded 
bay windows of this romantic pavilion d'Armide. Through the gate- 
house archway one enters the gardens, bordering a sweep of lawn, 
which a flock of Southdown sheep, their crimped wool too spanking 
white to be true, crop industriously to shear the turf to the semblance 
of antique cut velvet. 

504 



Ckapter // 



THROUGH OXFORDSHIRE 
TO LONDON 



SPOKE DUKE WILLIAM OF NORMANDY TO ROBERT, 

COUNT OF EU, AFTER THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS: 

"ALL SPEED TO LONDON BY THAMES SIDE." 

DELIBERATELY, in this roaming about England, I have kept 
away from London. I have done this for the reason that to 
savor perfectly this ancient heart of the British nation one 
should first become acquainted with the England of the coastal 
shires and Midlands. Since the day when the early Britons ap- 
peared to Roman invaders out of the twilight shadows, their naked- 
ness smeared with blue woad, like pagan demons to affright but 
not to deter Roman occupation, London has held the imagina- 
tion. "All speed to London by Thames side," the Conqueror said 
with only one idea in his mind, an idee fixe that governed his life, 
to have the crown of England set upon his head in the Abbey of 
St. Peter at Westminster. 

I chose to approach London through Oxfordshire. 

Chipping Norton, one of the first towns on my route, presented 
a fine old Norman church containing a rare assortment of funeral 
brasses, reminders of persons who went on pilgrimage to Canterbury 
during Chaucer's time. 

At midmorning I came into the village of Shipton-under-Wych- 
wood, a most ancient place of densely foliaged oaks, thatch-roof 
houses, the walls so hidden behind ivy, creeper, trumpet vine, or 
clematis, I could not say from what material the houses were built. 
Usually a slumbering calm prevails in this village, for it is off the 

205 



frequented way. But today was gala. Morris dancers had taken over 
the town. It was Early Harvest Festival celebrating "first wheat 
milled/' The old festival dances stem from Saxon times when a 
ceremonial dance to the fecundity of Mother Earth was laid out or 
"set" in definitely geometrical pattern, never deviating by one step. 
There has been a noticeable revival of the Morris dancing art 
throughout England during the past five years. Groups of young men 
in widely scattered villages are gathering together learning the an- 
cient dances. Youths wear the traditional white leggings, white 
smock, belted in twisted straw, and wide-brimmed straw hat, the 
crown bound with hops, wheat ears, meadow flowers, and sometimes 
a garland of apples, plums, grapes, and rose haws. This is the pastoral 
motif. The dance is a pastoral, a beautifully conceived pagan sur- 
vival, an invocation to the earth to yield its bounty. 

Yarnton Manor is a splendid example of Cotswold Jacobean manor 
house (I was still in Cotswold country though rapidly reaching the 
lower slopes of the Saxon wolds). In 1611 Sir Thomas Spencer built 
the house. The plan follows the traditional E form. Entering the 
hall of Yarnton from the sculptured stone porch, one is given, arch- 
itecturally, a rousing welcome. Emblazoned above the limestone 
chimney piece are the personal arms of Queen Elizabeth, resplendent 
in gilt and painted wood. The most satisfying room in the house is 
the long gallery, for all the pageantry of the eastern world enriches 
two walls that have the range to display perfectly three tapestries 
from the magic looms of Tournai. Each arras is so large that the 
walls from floor to cornice are fully covered. These tapestries, in- 
spired by Vasco da Gama's voyages to India, were designed by Pierre 
Severie. He is said to have studied ancient maps, folios, and what- 
ever parchments were obtainable in 1510 to discover what animals 
were native to India, from which to draw his cartoons. Whatever his 
data may have been, he must have listened intently to hearsay as 
well, which appears to have aroused his imagination for fantasy. For 
example, giraffes nearly steal the show, giraffes that are more like 
Bengal tigers with monstrously long necks to which cling fox-faced 
pigmies with shocking manners. Goats trail fabulous beards braided 
like a Bavarian Madchen's tresses. Natives in double file, with as 
curious anatomy as ever I beheld, carry gifts of brilliant jungle birds, 
cockatoos, lyre-birds, flamingos. Vasco da Gama himself, arrayed in 
richest robes of oriental cut, fondles a monkey exaggerated in size, 
who, in turn, is savagely biting the sagging gray hide of a sumptu- 

206 



ously caparisoned elephant, its ornate howdah piled with fruit. 
There are hundreds of like figures standing about in a loosely ar- 
ranged procession uncommonly glowing against a jungle of exotic 
trees and pagoda temples. 

I drove away toward Woodstock. The very thought of the town 
conjured up in my mind a picture of the trophy-crowned gray crags 
of Blenheim Palace, half monument to John Churchill's strategic 
genius in warfare, half palace of vast, draughty corridors and curi- 
ously small rooms. Sarah, first Duchess of Marlborough, who hated 
the house, and also Sir John Vanbrugh who designed it, said acidly, 
"Goliath's cavern, no house, but a shell, the best theatre piece Van- 
brugh ever devised." Duchess Sarah kept waiting overlong to install 
her family, angrily pronouncing it "a chaos which nobody but God 
Almighty could finish." 

In 1705 Queen Anne had been asked by Parliament to consider 
building a fitting memorial to perpetuate the memory of the Duke 
of Marlborough's victory, by a bold and brilliant strategem, over 
the army of Louis XIV at Blenheim. Today, from the center of the 
village of Woodstock, rises an ornate stone gateway, the plinths sup- 
porting battle trophies and coats of arms. Because this pile was in- 
tended to commemorate a historic battle, Vanbrugh everywhere 
stressed the martial motif. Never doubt that Sir John was a con- 
summate showman. His bag bulged with spectacular tricks, and he 
knew just when to pull them out to stun the eye with greatest effect. 
On the day I drove up the long, straight driveway, purple-black 
thunderheads were piling up behind the tumult of statues and 
trophies, armorial devices, and "vauses" which assault the sky line. 
Stone lions squeezing cockerels in their paws, Nubian slaves chained 
to fluted pinnacles, "Pallas upon the Acroteria" (as this figure of 
Athena, full panoplied, is labeled in an old account book). From 
every angle Blenheim, cavernous shell, battle abbey, or ducal palace, 
is a thrilling spectacle. Each individual ornament shows that Grin- 
ling Gibbons, who contributed most of these pieces, was particu- 
larly happy, for he had free rein that his imagination might soar 
to glory. 

I went upon the roof of Blenheim land of pavilions and panoply. 
The chimneys are arranged to simulate stacked spears; cannons 
bristle; banners unfurl; the stone folds seem to bell out in the wind. 
Of all this extraordinary melange, the powerful detail of Gibbons* 
trophies of drums, battle flags, full armor, the casques' visors down, 

207 



crested with plumes, are the most decorativejust as to me the 
exquisite pinnacles on the east colonnade of the forecourt show the 
greatest delicacy in treatment. These are listed as "a Flower de 
Luce revers'd and Corronett upon Same/* 

The gardens laid out by Capability Brown are immense: vistas, 
lagoons, the serpentine river, boskage, and a small woodland, but 
few flowers. The Bernini Fountain is a copy of the great Italian 
sculptor's Fountain of the River Gods in Piazza Navona in Rome. 
At Blenheim the effect is splendid, for the tall obelisk at the foot 
of which are grouped baroque figures representing the rivers is 
ideally placed. Only the great hall, soaring up and away five stories, 
in the vast central block of the building, fulfills the promise of 
magnificently proportioned rooms that one expects from the ma- 
jestic scale which so perfectly distinguishes the exterior. Thornhill's 
painted ceiling, a panorama of Marlborough Triumphant, is richly 
colored, to act as foil to the coldly classic galaxy of figures in Greek 
and Roman dress which stand in niches at cornice level. The saloon 
gains in dramatic surprise what it lacks in scale by Laguerre's on- 
lookers gazing diffidently down between pillars, the whole painted 
in gray chiaroscuro. 

The set of Brussels tapestries depicting Marlborough's victories 
are vigorous in drawing, the color passages dominated by a symphony 
of reds and gold. Red used throughout the palace in carpets, paint- 
ings of ducal robes, tapestries, and, on the day I was there, great 
vases of crimson gladioli, peonies, and cockscomb, added vividness 
and warmth to what William Pitt pronounced a "predominance of 
stone." 

Tea is served every afternoon during the summer season in the 
long gallery, from which one can see the portrait of Consuelo Van- 
derbilt, the beautiful American Duchess of Marlborough, and her 
two sons, painted in exquisite bravura by Boldini. 

Through lanes and byways, taking a short cut to Oxford, my 
route skirted the Oxford Canal. Canalboat life has long been a 
compelling factor in English rural life. Whole families for gen- 
erations have spent their lives "trafficking goods" on the intricate 
network of the inland canal system. Each canal has its characteristic 
type of bridge. An arch of timber, humped like a bristling cat 
over the Oxford Canal, can be opened singlehanded by a passing 
boatman. The barges are long, narrow, and are gaudily, often wittily, 
decorated in painted scenes of castle or figures, flowers, or animals. 

208 



At Bampton I saw a beauty. On either side of the blunt prow was 
a lyrical yet curiously primitive representation of a bastioned, tur- 
reted castle, portcullis and drawbridge raised, banners unfurled, 
rising imperiously above a rocky waterfall. A wreath of purple and 
yellow thistles formed a frame. Painted flamboyantly red, under- 
neath, were the words, BALMORAL CASTLE, followed in smaller letters, 
by "Samuel Biddock out of Birmingham." 

Oxford is situated on the upper Thames, called the Isis at this 
point. It is narrow and shallow here, and Oxford derives its name 
from the fact that in Saxon times it was a place where oxen could 
ford the river. 

I paused to lunch at The Mitre in Oxford, the "city of dreaming 
towers and spires" Oxford, where Charles II once strolled along 
these banks with Arabella, "La Belle Stuart," on his arm. Pointing 
to the vista of Merton College seen from Christ Church Fields, he 
remarked: "I pronounce myself no great scholar, but my eyes tell 
me that yon scene is England, all that I dreamed of it." No doubt his 
mind had turned to his long years of poverty in foreign exile when 
he must have yearned for such a sight as this. 

Students were first attracted to the town during the reign of 
Henry I, when Beau Clark, that fine scholar "presided for studye." 
But it was not until Henry III visited the "scattered schools" in 
1248 that the university gained its first charter. Through two 
devastating plagues and loss of revenues as a result of the dissolution 
of the monasteries (the university derived much needed benefits 
from rich Sees), Oxford held fast. In the seventeenth century the 
university supported the Royalist Cause. Charles I made his head- 
quarters at Christchurch College until 1646. 

Balliol College is possessed of a long frontage facing the Broad. 
The High, called by Charles I "the noblest high street in the world," 
faces All Souls and Queen's College, and terminates with Magdalen 
College whose inspiring tower dominates the city. Cornmarket, a 
shopping center, and Carfax are names known all over the world. 
Brasenose College (1509) acquired its name from the brass mask or 
"brazen nose" on the gatehouse door. This was originally a sanc- 
tuary-ring, in the vestry of a church, to which anyone fleeing from 
pursuit could cling and be safe. Two men, disparate in nature, who 
attended Brasenose College, were the essayist Walter Pater and 
Laurence Washington, ancestor of George of Mount Vernon. 

The Radcliffe Dome surmounting Bodleian Library identifies a 

209 



magnificent circular Palladian building, rusticated stone, Corin- 
thian columns, balustrades, urns, all the required baroque motifs 
in powerful array. Christ Church, often called the Contrite House 
or Salve Soul House, was founded by Cardinal Wolsey, with money 
from the suppression of the monasteries. His amanuensis, Thomas 
Bolten, is said to have told the first head of Christ Church that 
Wolsey secretly felt "contrite" at having cut off the university from 
so much revenue from rich abbeys. So from the immense amount 
of loot he himself had raked in, he portioned a large sum to build 
"my own" college. But four years after the cornerstone was laid, 
amid ceremonies of great pomp, Wolsey wielding the bejeweled 
golden spade himself, he fell, in 1529, "momentously from power." 
Under the supervision of Henry VIII the work continued to com- 
pletion. 

I believe that architecturally it is the most splendid of all the 
array of Oxford colleges, having the cathedral for its own chapel. 
St. John's College is a Tudor building. Magdalen treasures its quad- 
rangle, immense in scale, a very champ de Mars noted for masques 
acted before Queen Elizabeth and Essex on its greensward while the 
spectators sat in the hundreds of windows surmounting "the quad" 
to watch actors pattern out on the green a series of punning charades, 
much to the amusement of the Queen and her court. 

The porch of St. Mary le Virgin Church is uncompromising 
baroque, an impressive screen voluted and immensely scrolled. 

Tom Tower, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, houses a huge 
bell originally from Osney Abbey, looted by Cardinal Wolsey. Each 
night this bell tolls one hundred and one strokes to give the signal 
for the closing of college gates. 

A fifteenth-century hostelry, The Mitre is the traditional hotel 
at which to stay in Oxford. It is a fragment of the university itself. 
The white-walled rooms are timbered in black oak. Brasses and 
pewter plates decorate walls and shelves. There are also tankards 
and low, squat mugs made of bulFs-hide to hold one pint of mild- 
and-bitter or the same measure of tart brown October ale, rich in 
flavor that pleasantly nips the tongue. Many of these pewter and 
leather vessels bear the carved initials of celebrated imbibers, in- 
cluding Shelley, John Evelyn the diarist, Sir Walter Raleigh, Cecil 
Rhodes, Richard Harris Barham, author of Ingoldsby Legends. 

Driving out of Oxford I passed Jesus and Exeter Colleges and 
the Ashmolean Museum, with its gallery of portraits comprising the 

210 



images down five centuries o personages figuring in the town's 
history. I then set myself on the London road, planning to stop for 
a short time at Ewelme. 

Ancient Ewelme has its romantic story of Alice Chaucer and Wil- 
liam, Duke of Suffolk, and the "traipsage" that has passed to and 
from Ewelme and London, in varying conditions of splendor, since 
1430. When I was in Oxford delving into archives of the Bodleian 
Library I had found out what this word of ancient usage "traip- 
sage" means. I had come across it in sorting out data relative to 
the progresses through her realm made by Queen Elizabeth, and 
also in data on Ewelme. It means "to proceed over a highway, borne 
in a horse litter with a retinue of parts in attendance." So to Ewelme, 
to visit the angel-guarded chapel of Alice Chaucer, her lovely, fine- 
drawn aristocratic features cold in marble, infinitely serene. 

One's first glimpse of Ewelme is a straggling group of deep rose- 
brick buildings projecting in three long defiles from a center hub 
which resolves itself to be a long, rather low church resembling 
from far off a bird with outstretched wings raising its head to 
listen, this being the squat crenelated Norman tower with a castel- 
lated roof. The outstretched wings resolve into a row of almshouses 
and college buildings erected at various times, but all before 1437. 
The walls of the church, excepting only the front, are built of chalk 
and flint chequers. The rose color of hand-made brick is richly warm 
as the buildings' etched gables and extravagantly tall chimneys 
against the slumberous green of the Chilterns. 

William de la Pole, the young Duke of Suffolk, a general in the 
Lancastrian army, who had fought against Jeanne d'Arc and re- 
turned to England to assist youthful King Henry VI to build Eton 
College, also built Ewelme. Young Duke William made Alice Chau- 
cer, granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer, Duchess of Suffolk. She lies 
now in a supremely beautiful chapel in a building known as the 
Hospital. 

On many points the closely grouped buildings of Ewelme are 
unique in England. At the time that the church, the Hospital, the 
college, and almshouses or God's House as it was known to Alice 
Chaucerwere erected, brick for building purposes was almost un- 
known in England. 

The porch of the almshouse, a molded arch with embossed tracery, 
is said to be the earliest known example of brick handled like 
dressed stone. While walking around the gardens all that is won- 



derful in nature spreads before one's eyes. There is the "bee-keep" 
with its twisted straw hives, fashioned in the old manner. Peach and 
pear and the lovely golden quince are espaliered against the soft, 
red walls. Far vistas reveal Icknield Way and Swyncombe, where the 
woodland valley spreads out fanwise to embrace the green Thames 
plain. Hay is stooked in precise rows, brick dovecots receive resi- 
dents with fluttering wings. If one walks up a rise at one side of 
the entrance gate, a curiously lovely perspective is obtained. The 
buildings pile up a steepish slope, one above the other, like the 
forced perspective in Gothic illuminated missals or medieval tap- 
estries. 

Some authorities believe that the Duke brought his own masons 
with him when he came from Suffolk to marry Alice Chaucer, The 
light handling of the tall nave delicately embellished by carved and 
gilded angels so notable in Suffolk appears to bear out their theory. 
To me the tomb of Duchess Alice is one o the most exquisite of 
the age. A lightness of carving, an almost ethereal filigree seldom 
seen in carved stone anywhere, lends to the tomb the appearance 
of a wedding barge bearing some legendary princess floating down 
a gentle stream. A kind of ecstasy, that beauty in art so often en- 
genders, hovers about this chapel, the walls brilliant as a sunset sky 
with Lancastrian heraldry. Flying angels with gilded wings and spread 
draperies, billowing as dawn clouds, act as horizontal caryatids to 
support, at the intersections, roof beams of chestnut. This galaxy 
of outspread wings seems to form a fluttering canopy over the sar- 
cophagus on which rests the alabaster effigy of the Duchess in long 
robe, veil, and jeweled coronet. A striking and unusual note is the 
Order of the Garter encircling the left arm of the figure. I believe 
that the curious sense of festival and array which envelopes this 
whole picture is due to the extraordinary use of angels with gilt, 
coral pink, and sapphire wings which form a frieze of finials like 
a forest of spears at the four corners of the tomb. I am certain that 
some of the children who still come to learn the three R's in Alice 
and William's school, close to her chapel, had earlier gathered the 
yellow, brown, and dusky crimson wallflowers, fast fading for the 
want of water, which I saw laid across the breast of the alabaster 
counterpart of Alice Chaucer. 

Before entering London, have a try at solving the riddle of the 
Maze at Hampton Court. I entered the gardens of Hampton Court 
through the noble Lion Gate. The soaring white marble plinths, 



each one a pillared temple surmounted by lions of England rampant, 
gleamed dazzling white against a sky of palest azure. 

I walked through a "strollyng alley" where Henry VIII, to the 
"music of viols and the silvery notes of pipes/' used to dance with 
Jane Seymour, conceded to be the best "layde at the daunce" at 
court. Sometimes this long tapis vert was used as an archery butt 
and, running parallel to the alley, there is a bowling green where 
Henry, Anne Boleyn, Thomas Culpeper, Catherine Howard, my 
Lord of Leicester, and Queen Elizabeth herself once played at bowls. 

During the reign of Henry VIII the French game of "Tenysse" 
was introduced into England. At court it became immediately the 
rage. The king ordered the construction of a "close" or inclosed 
tennis court at Hampton Court. Erected in 1529, this building still 
remains, somewhat altered by Charles II, another royal tennis en- 
thusiast. The court provided Henry with opportunity for strenuous 
exercise in wet weather, for this game, unlike the modern "lawn 
tennis/' was played indoors. It is said that the king played a fast, 
expert game until his last years when, married to understanding, 
devoted Katherine Parr, he confided to her, "I cannot run more, 
a swelling of the heart o'ercomes me." 

Not far from the Maze looms an expanse of glass that at first glance 
looks like a transparent airdome. This is the Glass House, inside of 
which is the great vine of black Hamburgh grapes, a never-failing 
magnet for visitors. The ancient vine, kept in perfect condition, has 
flourished and born superb bunches of grapes through nine reigns. 
It forms a canopy like a purple and green marquee, covering eighty 
feet of space. 

A group of royal beasts form a Guard of Honor to line either 
side of the bridge spanning the moat at Hampton Court, a tour de 
force in stone, depicting actual and imaginary beasts, rampant with 
ferocious self-importance. This regal array of heraldry in stone has 
always been so highly regarded that the now famous Queen's beasts, 
which were such a feature of the coronation of Elizabeth II at the 
Abbey, were designed to recapture the spirit though not the exact 
form of King Henry's beasts. Now, to complete an unforgettable 
picture of blazonry, the Queen's beasts, embracing the Lion of 
England, the Griffin of Edward III, the Falcon of the Plantagenets, 
the Black Bull of Clarence, the White Greyhound of Richmond, the 
Yale of Beaufort, the Red Dragon of Wales, the Unicorn of Scotland, 
and the device of the present queen's own descent, the White Horse 

214 



of Hanover, have been set up on the bridge at Hampton Court. 

It has been said that rooms and corridors within the rose-red, 
white-marble-trimmed walls of sumptuous old Hampton Court Pal- 
ace are haunted by "the ghosts of women going in fear." The greatly 
agitated and at times hysterical ghost of predatory Catherine Howard, 
fifth wife of Henry VIII, beheaded in 1545, is said to stand shrieking 
in front of the oriel window in Henry's great chamber, with its view 
of ominous Tower Hill. 

Catherine had been kept prisoner in the palace awaiting her 
execution. One day she eluded her guards. Knowing that the King 
would be at Mass, she endeavored to make a last plea for mercy. But 
as she ran toward the door of the chapel gallery, a pursuing jailer 
seized her by the hair. Screaming her protest she cursed the Tudors. 
This is the tragic scene which her ghost re-enacts balefully today. 
"A most unquiet, upsetting ghost," Pepys told Charles II after he 
claimed to have seen this manifestation. 

The vast kitchens of Hampton Court were built to provide plain 
English dishes, such as barons of beef, venison from red deer roasted 
whole, blood puddings, capons in saffron, wild boar saturated in 
Cathay ginger and Malmsey sauce, pasties, and sugar comfits. Henry 
VIII, however, was adventurous when it came to food. He liked 
novelty, so he always extracted from foreign ambassadors exotic 
recipes. 

A notable feature of Hampton Court is the linen fold paneling 
extending in richly waxed patina from floor to ceiling in Cardinal 
Wolsey's private apartments, called the finest example in England 
of that lovely craft. The design is ecclesiastical in origin, for it takes 
its name from carefully folded linen used on the altar. 

The TRames is perhaps the most universally known waterway in 
Europe, and surely the most constantly mentioned. For this reason 
I chose to enter London by way of the Thames Valley dominated 
by Richmond Hill. I want to say early that all the well-known land- 
marks, all the renowned places, need nothing additional from me. 
I will choose from among the thousands of attractions offered, and 
suggest you visit some of the places lesser known, for example the 
heart of Billingsgate Fish Market, where steep little passageways 
give one a sudden glimpse of the Thames. Here stands Watermen's 
Hall, oldest of the ancient guilds and livery companies in the 
City of London. The Ancient Company of Watermen and Lighter- 

215 



In "a penthouse near the stars" dwelt Geoffrey Chaucer from 1374 
to 1386. With his racy turn of mind and pungent wit he loved this 
part of London, for here he saw the raw uninhibited drama of life. 
A plaque on Aldgate Post Office shows where once stood the house 
in which he wrote so many of his "Tales." 

Four streets in London are world-famous: Piccadilly, the Strand, 
Bond Street, and Regent Street. The first is one of the widest thor- 
oughfares in the city. In part it is a shopping center until it passes 
the Ritz Hotel and runs along the Green Park. Rapidly Piccadilly 
changes complexion and is lined with residences, famous clubs, 
and luxury hotels. The famous Hatchards Booksellers to the World 
is located in Piccadilly. Burlington House, the Palladian mansion 
designed and built by Lord Burlington in the eighteenth century, 
has the longest frontage in London, extending for over half of an 
unusually long block. This great town house, the "toy" of an eccen- 
tric Irish peer who was an architect of supreme, if grandiose taste, 
now houses the Royal Academy. 

Old Bond Street is pre-eminently the fashionable shopping street 
of London. Roughly halfway between Piccadilly and Oxford Street, 
it changes both name and elegant atmosphere to "New" Bond Street, 
though only newer by thirty-five years than its parent body. Scott's, 
the hatters, a two-hundred-year-old shop in Old Bond Street, will de- 
liver your purchase in the most elegant conveyance seen in the 
streets of London today, a black brougham with Lonsdale yellow 
wheels. Hats for delivery, in smart cardboard cylinders, are hidden 
behind the resplendent significance of a Royal Appointment, painted 
on the side panels. Two men on the box in full livery of gold- 
braided broadcloth, top-hatted, are haughty of mien. The dapple-gray* 
coach horse at a smart trot jangles his silver mounted harness proud 
equipage to delight the eye, the epitome of tradition-conscious 
London. 

Many famous art galleries, such as Agnew's and Knoedler's, long 
"seated" in Old Bond Street, are a source of wonder for the beauty 
and quality of pictures they exhibit by masters old and new, from 
some seemingly inexhaustible source. I saw paintings by Romney, 
Raeburn, and a gorgeously vibrating canvas in rich, slumbrous color, 
the oft-painted Biblical subject, "Judith and the Head of Holo- 
fernes," but with distinct difference, by a Flemish painter who 
neglected to sign his work. 

The Regency period of 1810-1820 left its architectural mark in 



many places throughout the country. London is rich in its legacies. 
Well known to every visitor is the sweeping crescent of Regent 
Street. A typically grandiose conception of the Prince Regent, it 
was intended to be a royal processional route between Carlton House, 
the Prince's palace in Pall Mall, and Marylebone Park, afterwards 
renamed Regent's Park, where a second palace in a rural retreat was 
to be erected. But this fantastic palace was never built. Regent Street, 
however, was completed as the Regent had planned it with the main 
purpose of dividing the West End from Soho, a quarter once fash- 
ionable but by that time rapidly losing "tone." 

As I walked down the long traverse of Regent Street, I noticed 
that more shop fronts bore the gold, crimson, and blue device 
signifying they had been granted the Royal Warrant than in any 
other street in the country. 

Coffee houses in London abound as well as the ubiquitous tea 
shops. Oxford opened the first coffee house (1650) in England, which 
was to become a famous gathering place for young scholars and 
embryo "politicos" eager for an audience. Conviviality over "a bowl 
of coffee" instead of ale or spirits reached such renown that London 
followed suit soon after. The Regency Coffee Rooms were first to 
open in the new crescent. 

There is one house that supports its Regency elegance in better 
style today than, I am sure, ever before. I refer to Number 5 Bel- 
grave Square, town residence of Mr. Henry Channon whose ad- 
mirable book, The Ludwigs of Bavaria, has introduced persons in 
many lands to the beauties and refreshing eccentricities of Bavarian 
baroque and rococo. In his house he has embellished the dining 
room in superb taste, succeeding in re-creating the rococo splendors 
of illusive bleu de del and silver of the Amalienburg, that exquisite 
gesture in rococo at Nymphenburg. When the great Italian painter 
Tiepolo was asked by Cardinal Rezzonico, for whom he had just 
painted a resounding ceiling at his palazzo in Venice, "How can you 
have infused so much spirit into the four white horses of Helios?" 
he pointed up to the amazingly foreshortened "underside perspec- 
tive" o the ramping stallions, and said, "I flung the reins high and 
let the horses run." 

I feel that Henry Channon must have said to the artists engaged 
in decorating his dining room, "Fling your reins high and let it 
ride." The remainder of the house is beautifully suave, simple, in 
luminous, light classic taste, taking its tone from the architecture 

2*9 



of Belgrave Square, which one glimpses outside the tall, wide win- 
dows of the Regency drawing room. 

The Boltons is the name given to a row of tall, cream-washed 
Georgian houses, bristling with chimney pots that stand single file 
in an island of greenery in Kensington. Mary Lee and Douglas Fair- 
banks have done up Number 28, The Boltons, with a great deal of 
singing color. One long room letting onto a garden is decorated 
around a set of six large paintings that I did on one of my journeys 
through Karakoram Pass in the Hindu Kush. The colors weave one 
into another, raisin purple into the red of wine dregs. Burning green 
of Gilgit emeralds fuses with the yellow of lemon rind, and the tawny 
hide of lion, hyacinth-white of snow leopard, blend with the pale 
violet of Himalayan iris that blanket the foothills in the spring. All 
this color in "Ceremony of the Silks" glows on the Walls of No. 28, 
The Boltons. 

One often hears the phrase, "What's in a name?" To this might 
be added, "What's in an address?" A ringing answer to that is- 
No, i, London, the last house in Piccadilly, at Hyde Park Corner. 
The Duke of Wellington in 1817 purchased Apsley House from his 
brother, Marquess Wellesley, then Governor-General of India, for 
"as exorbitant a price as ever was uttered," the Duchess, Irish Lady 
Kitty Pakenham, is said to have remarked to architect Benjamin 
Wyatt, engaged to re-do the state apartments. Wellington himself 
called his brother's methods of business transactions akin to those 
of "an Irish horse-coper, whose devious greed was no better con- 
cealed than a whiskey breath." But Wellington, "liking prodigiously 
its situation" with all Hyde Park as garden plot, refused to haggle, 
and, maintaining an icy reserve, paid the price. 

The acanthus leaf ornament capping the Corinthian columns 
supporting the imposing portico now are freed of starlings' nests 
which for years have lent to the capitals the appearance of a dis- 
heveled hayrick. The impressive sweep of the interior grand stair- 
case is mitigated by the immensity of Napoleon's nude statue, eleven 
feet in height, carved by Canova in 1802 from a block of beige 
Cararra marble. In his right hand the emperor holds a gold figure 
of Victory, wings spread for flight, poised on the world. Originally 
Napoleon had this gigantic representation of himself, as near to 
Godhead as makes no matter, placed conspicuously in the Louvre 
for all Paris to marvel. In 1816 the British Government purchased 
the statue. The Regent presented it to Wellington with a great deal 

22O 



of fanfare. He is said to have muttered to a friend standing beside 
him, "Eleven feet of marble Boney is too much." The problem of 
placing the colossus was met by utilizing the stairwell at Apsley 
House at the expense of dwarfing the staircase. 

The portico room has windows under the pediment looking across 
Piccadilly to Green Park. The striped drawing room is hung in 
rose and gray-striped damask, the walls greatly enlivened by por- 
traits of Wellington's favorite generals. A rousing martial air pre- 
vails here as if dispatch riders were constantly rushing in and out 
of a military conference. 

In the Yellow Salon hangs the striking portrait of the Duke painted 
by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1814. To me, the pose of the head on 
slightly turned away scarlet shoulders, vividly alive eyes looking 
straight into mine, epitomize what great portraitures should be. The 
Waterloo gallery, crystal chandeliers ablaze, long mahogany banquet 
table laid with the fabulous gilt Portuguese service presented to the 
Duke by the King of Portugal, has been called the most splendid 
room in London. I have seen a great many rooms I term glorious, 
but none has more right to be called sumptuous for spacious beauty 
of proportions and richness of appointments than this room, where 
every June eighteenth Wellington held his "Waterloo anniversary 
reunions," banquets for his generals who had been present at the 
immortal battle. The walls under a hugely scaled white and gold 
cornice are hung with deep crimson silk damask, a magnificent back- 
ground for a various collection of paintings. One of the most notable 
is the Velasquez "Portrait of a Bearded Man," a somberly compelling 
face, rising pale as ivory in stark sunlight from a swathed black 
hidalgo cloak. The same crimson damask, a color and texture which 
set the gold table service vibrating in reflected candlelight, is used 
to enfold the six tall windows. The shimmering vision of the gilt 
table service in the Waterloo Gallery stirs the memory long after 
one leaves Apsley House. 

There is on view an exhibit so personal that studying it is almost 
as if the viewer is the Duke's batman who enters the tent to an- 
nounce breakfast is served on a drumhead outside, and finds him 
gargling. On a table rests his campaigning dressing case. Still there 
are his toothbrush, a collapsible metal cup, a few bottles to hold 
lotions, and his constant companions, rhubarb pills. 

Covent Garden Theatre harbors all sorts of "shrills," or vendors 
of flowers and fruits, under its Italian portico, once so fashionable 

221 



for Congreve, Sir John Vanbrugh, Wycherly, and the Restoration 
rakes who liked to stroll there to ogle masked ladies. The his- 
toric playhouse tends to drowse by day but wakes up at night when 
the ballet season is at its height* Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, the 
crimson and gold haunt of Charles II, is in Catherine Street on the 
comer of Russell Street. Her Majesty's Theatre, home of musical 
extravaganza, lies on the west side of the Haymarket across from 
that cream and crimson pillared Georgian playhouse, the Haymarket 
Theatre. 

Visitors to Westminster Abbey are often unaware of its treasures 
of medieval painting which are easily passed unnoticed among the 
close-packed tombs and monuments. These fragments of medieval 
art were brushed directly on the walls by the finest artists that 
Henry III and Edward I could command. In the Middle Ages the 
love of strong, primitive color was general; even if the serfs and 
villains could not wear it in any form themselves, having to go in 
dun browns, gray, and black, they would travel long weary leagues 
to see the splendor of royal or knightly raiment. That is one reason 
kings and queens, saints and prelates, angels and demons, are repre- 
sented in earliest paintings so gorgeously arrayed in brilliant trap- 
pings. "The Incredulity of St. Thomas" is painted in the South 
Transept. In the Sedilia appears the image of King Sebert, circa 
1308. In the transept there is a vigorously painted "Legend of St. 
Christopher." As traditionally imagined, the saint is a man of heroic 
stature, a mountain of strength. The Child is seated on his right 
shoulder, his left arm around the saint's neck. Below, the raging 
waters of the river, through which St. Christopher makes his way, 
are painted with tremendous power for dramatic effect. According 
to the legend, after St. Christopher had, only by Herculean effort, 
waded the stream, he set the Child down and leaned on his staff to 
recover his strength, saying he felt as if the whole world had weighed 
him down. The Child looked up into his face. "Marvel not, Chris- 
topher/' he said, "for you have borne not only the world upon your 
shoulders, but also its Creator." He then bade the saint plant the staff 
in the ground before his cottage and in the morning he would find it 
had fructified. An inscription in Latin, two hexameters, is discern- 
ible below this panel. 

Whoever looks upon the face of St. Christopher 

On that day will certainly not be worn out with weariness. 

222 



For anyone who has tramped all day the stones of London, the 
Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Tower of London, this Is vastly 
comforting. 

The ravens of the Tower always entertain me. They are old 
inhabitants of this place, which has stood gaunt and history-ridden 
on the banks of the Thames for nine hundred years. Ravens are 
birds of ill portent, or so the earliest Phoenician mariners sang to 
the strumming of a lyre. When you have made your way over the 
moat to the Byward Tower, combed the precincts of Tower Green, 
where Queen Anne Boleyn, the brothers Somerset, Essex, Lady Jane 
Grey, Catherine Howard, splendid Thomas More, and countless 
other notables were beheaded, there you will find the inquisitive, 
beady-eyed, sable-hued ravens sitting molting and maundering. 

I saw Tower Green on a drear day when the mist swirled up from 
the Thames, obliterating the pronged portcullis of Traitors' Gate, 
until the towering battlements and trees were wiped from the scene 
as if by magic. But there were the ravens, somehow a more solid, 
ominous black than the descending night of fog. In 1078 ravens 
from the surrounding Epping Forest scavenged offal from gangs of 
workmen building the Tower. Centuries later, when robbers at- 
tempted to loot the Tower of royal treasure, descendants of these 
birds croaked so loudly they awoke the guard, who chased off the 
thieves. The king ordered Tower ravens henceforth held sacrosanct. 
Now their wings are clipped and they lead a dour existence in the 
greatest possible creature comfort. Ravens ordinarily are not lovable 
birds and those of the Tower Precinct are no exception, though a 
divided group in approachability. Cronk is as bleak as his name 
sounds, the typical corbeau of doom. Corax is a clown, with the 
traditional clown smirk behind his woeful mien. Garvie, Gun, and 
Charles are as nearly gay, garrulous triplets as one will see in raven- 
dom. They hate being photographed, which makes their life a 
burden, considering the photographing craze of touring visitors. 
Cora is a bad-tempered prima donna, who craves adulation but 
infuriates her lovers, and Canna has a laugh resembling the nerve- 
shattering sneer of a laughing hyena. I favor Cormac, who is a wit. 
I believe him to be an Irish raven. Legend tells that the Empire 
will collapse if ever the ravens are lost or stolen. A Raven Master, 
one of the Yeoman Warders, a Beefeater, splendorous in scarlet, 
gold, and blue livery, carefully guards the birds. Nothing is sacred 



to a raven. Jewelry, earrings in particular, coins, buttons are all 
coveted. 

The Crown Jewels of England and all ceremonial regalia in the 
Tower Treasure Room have been newly arranged since the corona- 
tion. I think there is great improvement in the spacing and diffused 
lighting which gives greater importance to each jeweled piece. 




The restaurants in London are so numerous, so varied for every 
culinary taste and every condition of purse, that I shall name only 
a few outstanding ones. Taken collectively, these restaurants list on 
their menus, as Edward VII said of the world-renowned delicacy 
shop of Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly, "everything edible that 
swims, crawls, walks, or grows, on this earth." Fortnum and Mason 
maintains a fine restaurant to clinch its popularity. Prunier's, 72 
St. James's Street, is almost my gastronomic home when I am in 
London, for I am extremely partial to all manner of fresh fish served 
in the delectable ways for which this house is notable. Claridge's, in 
Brook Street, is a luxurious hotel of world renown where the cuisine 

224 



varies greatly in changing times but never sinks beyond repair. The 
George Inn, Southwark, a change in atmosphere, is a fascinating 
survival from coaching days. Charles Dickens took dinner there once 
a week when he was in London and mentions the inn and its fine 
English fare in Little Dorrit. During the summer season, scenes from 
Dickens and plays by Shakespeare are performed by a resident com- 
pany in the handsomely timbered old courtyard. Rule's, hidden 
away in Maiden Lane, remains much as Sheridan, the brothers 
Adam, Boswell, Byron, Keats, and later du Maurier and Dickens 
knew it. English sirloins, crusty without, running blood near the 
bone, silverside beef, and meat pasties are the fare. 

In French mood A la Broche in Jermyn Street is neighbor to the 
Monseigneur, L' Aperitif, L'Ecu de France. All are excellent and 
the vintage wines from their caves just what one has learned to 
expect from the French restaurateur. Soho is noted for Italian res- 
taurants that enjoy an appreciative clientele of long standing. The 
Dorchester, the Mayfair, and, at the foot of Berkeley Street, the ele- 
gant Colony are uniformly fine. There is music and it is better to 
dress the part of bon vivant out on the town. Dover Street, once like 
Savile Row sacred to exclusive tailoring, has lately acquired a reputa- 
tion as a dining center of importance. The Dover Buttery is a rare 
treat in London, for food of haute cuisine quality can be had here at 
any hour from noon to midnight. 

For conviviality, Pigalle in Piccadilly is your destination for a 
gay evening. Londoners will tell you, and rightly so, that for con- 
tinuous excellence you cannot top Hyde Park Hotel. Foods that are 
prepared on a grill, such as London broil, are the specialty here. 

Beyond doubt the unique restaurant in London today is the 
Elizabethan Room in the Gore Hotel, Queen's Gate. In scale 
and decoration the room itself reminds me of the withdrawing parlor 
in an Elizabethan manor house. The menu is rife with beguiling 
names of dishes that might have appeared on the board of Henry 
Tudor at Hampton Court or at the famous Midsummer Eve ban- 
quets given by his good trencherwoman daughter, Elizabeth, at her 
pleasure house of Nonsuch Palace. These dishes game pies, ragout 
of "flying birds" (a pungent pigeon recipe) are served with appro- 
priate swank. Puddings rich with fruit, latticed in angelica, are car- 
ried in aflame from lighted brandy. Roast fowl is brought to table 
skewered on the point of a courtier's sword. Game in season is 
featured: grouse, woodcock, pheasant-in-plumage, peacock-in-plum- 



age; the succulent breasts sliced thin are superbly prepared by Eng- 
lish chefs who are difficult to fault when it comes to all the fine 
points of larding, basting with secretly prepared juices, or smoothing 
the unpredictable bread sauce. Deep-dish ginger-apple tarts, great 
bowls of mulberry and gooseberry fool, and the greatest test of all, 
almond meringue glazed with caramel here these epicurean desserts 
graduate cum laude. 

Keep always in focus the fact that London is identified above 
most capitals of the world for its dramatic historical pageantry; the 
royal splendors of centuries are its shield and buckler. Nevertheless, 
it can offer a visitor a memorable banquet of present pleasures. Lon- 
don need never ask one to return. Just as a ring tossed down a 
wishing well is said to spur a revisit to a well loved place, one's 
memories the subtlest magic of all will draw one back to London- 
by-Thames-side. 



226 



Chapter 12 



VERSATILE SHIRES, DERBYSHIRE, 

NOTTINGHAM, AND LINCOLN, 

EMBRACE "THE DUKERIES" 



DERBYSHIRE near Gresley Plate is fiat and sparse of vegeta- 
tion and a large tree is a rarity. A clayey rutted road 
gains a slight rise to reveal, suddenly, a panorama of richly 
grassed, undulating meadow lands, spinneys, and clustered "crowns 1 * 
of oak identifying knolls. Norman church towers thrust skyward, 
ponderous as bastions, the arrogant jut of Peveril's Peak and the 
crenelated towers of feudal castles as romantic Haddon Hall vie 
with great Palladian mansions like the vast, pedimented facade of 
rustlco stone that is Chatsworth House, seat of the Devonshires. 

Felicitously placed as a luminous, pearl-gray stone hub on a 
gentle slope of densely green parkland, Chatsworth House stands 
between the gently flowing River Wye and the immensity of grit- 
stone obelisks, pillars, and crags of Derbyshire Peak. The Wye as 
it flows under PeveriFs Peak is called the "washerwoman's delight." 
A natural phenomenon of Wye water eddying over Burbage stones 
produces a froth akin to that of laundry soap, with the added 
advantage that a woman does not have to be ever watchful that 
she may lose her bar of soap downstream. 

In Nottinghamshire the coalfields vein the once fair countryside 
like the network of arteries from the heart; the immediate towns, 
by their soot-blackened, smudged-window cottages, are grim re- 
minders of what dreary toll the earth demands from man when once 
her breast is rent open to extract her treasures. Five miles away from 
the "coal seam' 1 towns is an area of compelling rural beauty. One 



is again in an undulating countryside, green-mantled, washed by 
reed-grown streams, where in the little backwaters I saw in pro- 
fusion the yellow water lilies so intense and glowing in color that 
each petaled cup seemed to hold captive in its heart its own personal 
sun. Here lie the aristocratic "Dukeries," the great castles and 
country houses centering far-flung parks all in a ring of gardens. In 
Chesterfield I came across a rare substance, hard and brittle, an ex- 
pression of nature in luxuriously antic mood. I marveled at the 
superb range of elemental color, those strong tones of red, amber, 
violet, and blue. I speak of Derbyshire fluorspar, called blue-John 
(actually a miner's corruption of bleu-jaune, as enthusiastic French 
importers called the crystalline gemstone for its rich violet, blue, and 
honey-yellow markings). It was discovered in England in about 1750. 
A successful method for turning on a lathe this splintery mineral to 
make loving cups, candlesticks, vases, urns in which might be placed 
lights to produce the lovely rose and violet-blue light that this 
translucent fluorite produces took some time to perfect. Henry 
Watson, lapidary of Bakewell, solved the problem by inventing a 
particularly indestructible lathe, aided by his friend Charles Wood- 
ruff, who perfected the highly necessary art of polishing blue-John. 
In 1752 lapidaries around Middleton Dale were engaged to instruct 
apprentices in the infinitely delicate art. 

At a time when every country house was acquiring massive neo- 
classical urns and vases of stone and marble to adorn Palladian and 
Georgian terraces and formal rooms, when Wedgwood basalts re- 
iterated the noble solemnity of costly alabaster, and every nobleman 
was making a leisurely Grand Tour of the capitals of Europe to col- 
lect varied marble antiquities for his private Herculaneum, the 
advent of crystalline fluorspar of fascinating color combinations and 
shell-like translucence was a major contribution to rendering ideas 
of decorative forms for the embellishment of interiors. Possibly the 
most striking feature of blue-John is the amazing gamut of color. 
Connoisseurs vie with each other to collect pieces in which no two 
markings are remotely alike, although the objects bear a family 
resemblance in purple, indigo-blue, bisque, yellow, and sepia blend- 
ing. A set of six urns, eleven inches high, which I saw at Wentworth 
Woodhouse, the seat of Earl Fitzwilliam, were carved in such a 
manner that at the stem base the color veining merged from dark, 
sapphire-blue, Parma violet to a pale amethyst, to tawny-orange, into 



golden yellow. These urns used in the Roman manner contained 
smoldering aromatic pastilles. 

At the zenith of luxurious living in Imperial Rome no patrician 
could count among his personal treasure any gems or intaglio more 
exquisite and valuable than vasa murrina which authorities recently 
have identified as fluorspar, believed to have come from Parthia or 
Carminia, similar to that which had not heretofore been found save 
in small needle crystals in Derbyshire. A story is told that Petronius 
once showed the Emperor Nero a cup of murrina for which he had 
just paid the formidable sum of three hundred talents. Nero silently 
regarded the cup, stroked the beautifully polished curves, then 
called for Ischian wine and filled it to the brim. Hotly envious of 
Petronius' treasure, Nero handed the cup to the poet saying, "Drink 
and as you drink I condemn you to death." Whereupon, rather 
than let the treacherously covetous Nero come into possession, 
Petronius dashed the cup to fragments at his feet. 

Pliny the Younger tells of vasa murrina as "white, veined in 
purple streaks/' I have seen this variety, the white and purple fusing 
to assume a tint of flame. Pliny also was aware of the truth that 
murrina (fluorspar) goblets emit an aromatic scent and taste of man- 
darins. In the antique shops of Derby, Chesterfield, and Buxton one 
may pick up some beautiful pieces of the fluorspar that have been 
sold from notable collections. At Buxton I acquired a pair of urn- 
shape vases, nine inches in height, set on plinths of black marble. 
I placed a lighted candle in each one. Radiant arcs of light glowed 
violet, green, and rose crystallized rainbows. As the fluorspar was 
warmed by the candles' flame, I became conscious of a latent fra- 
grance that recalled the odors of citrus, verbena, syringa, "and the 
apricot gardens in Shiraz, the Persian City of the Poets. 

From a distance of thirty miles or more one can see Peveril Castle 
etched against the sky, an oddly monolithic tower more resembling 
a jutting plinth of living rock formed by erratic nature than built, 
as we know it was, for a watchtower fortress by Henry II in 1154. 
However, the dungeons underneath go down for five levels, tun- 
neled into the rock by picks in the hands of unfortunate offenders 
of majesty. The stone cisterns, built as circular "tuns" to hold ale for 
the garrison, are an interesting feature of this scaly old warrior of 
a tower. 

Derbyshire is vastly proud of Buxton, its beautifully situated spa 

229 



for thermal waters, architecturally a gem of Georgian taste. The 
sweeping crescents and esplanades which abound and the parade 
were laid out under the supervision of Adam and Wyatt to imitate 
Adam's Adelphi Terrace, abreast the Thames near the Savoy in 
London, with the greatest consideration for elegantly proportioned 
houses and public buildings, set in spacious parks and flower-bor- 
dered lawns. Many persons touring The Dukeries prefer to make 
Buxton rather than Derby their headquarters. The Crescent and 




Lawn Hotels offer the finest accommodations to be found in the 
East Midlands. Buxton Spa is a noted musical center. During the 
season, variously April or May to September, programs of chamber 
music by celebrated orchestras, as well as symphony concerts in halls, 
and military band concerts out-of-doors, are features of the exclusive 
social life for which the spa has long been noted. 

Not far away at Smisby lies the tournament field comprising over 
three hundred acres, which is the one mentioned by Sir Walter Scott 
in Ivanhoe. Smisby has been at great pains to entertain crowds of 

230 



visitors who come to view the field where a surrounding embank- 
ment and ramparts are still visible. I saw it when scarlet and purple 
rhododendrons flamed along the edge of the embankment. Plumes 
of yellow laburnum waved in the spring breeze and hawthorn trees, 
heavily blossomed in pink and white, marched in battalions around 
the grass-grown ramparts. As I contemplated the flower-bordered 
tourney field a vision arose to recreate in brilliance the pennants, 
the plumes, the trappings of pageantry that had once caught and 
held the excited gaze of some touted Queen of Beauty enthroned in 
her silk-curtained pavilion abreast the lists. 

It is often said that the Palace of the Peak, as Horace Walpole 
styled Chatsworth after he had spent a "ravishing week of wander- 
ing" among its fantastically diverse grounds, has the most elaborate 
water gardens in England. These conceits, arranged in spokes of a 
wheel formation, constitute a series of jets and ingeniously contrived 
"mists and light vapors" to catch and imprison myriad rainbows. It 
is an impressive thing to stand near the great central fountain and 
behold a column of shimmering water two hundred and sixty feet 
high issuing from a sixteen-inch pipe at one hundred miles an hour, 
with the impetus of a four-hundred-foot fall from the lake above 
which forms the hub to this extravaganza. I saw it on a day when 
a high riding wind tossed great white clouds in a pale turquoise sky 
of a color so exactly matching the plunging falls that I could scarcely 
have told sky from water had it not been for a triple rainbow hover- 
ing at the crest of the column. Intense interest holds the gaze because 
of a curious contrivance which halts the jet at intervals of a few 
minutes. Suddenly the rising column breaks. Spherical spurts of 
imprisoned water shoot out from the summit to come tumbling 
down like the finale of a rocket and disperse in clouds of spray. 

The first and sixth Dukes of Devonshire were both given to his- 
trionics, to entertaining sovereign and friends on a prodigious scale, 
where all was cast to surprise and titillate jaded courtiers. A theater 
was built at Chatsworth by the sixth Duke, of whom it was said "he 
never had to don the buskin to enact a role, for he was born so shod 
and he never took it off." 

The private theater was popular among the aristocracy during the 
reigns of Charles II and the glittering period of George IV. At the 
Strawberry Hill, the theater of Regency sculptress Anne Seymour 
Darner, Mrs. Fitzherbert disregarded the Regent's wishes that she 



refrain from appearing because of a sudden throat affliction, and 
gave a nearly unintelligible performance as Niobe. This caused the 
Regent such mortification that later in the Green Room he re- 
marked to her waspishly: "Dear Maria, you gave a murmurous 
impersonation of Quinsy Throat." 

Now that it is a national museum, Chatsworth, as a picture gallery 
alone, is supreme. The range of canvases seems endless. Van Dyck, 
greatly favored by the Cavendish family to delineate their features 
for posterity, comes off triumphantly. In his singularly luminous 
portrait of Lord Pembroke and his sister, the lady in satin gown sits 
at the side of her brother, whom the painter has placed standing half 
in shadow to set her off as a moonlight Diana, to his night-blue 
Endymion. Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller, and Velasquez are 
represented in the Long Gallery. But I am more than a little taken 
with the portrait of a mysterious subject painted by Lely in his most 
suave style, presently called "The Girl in Green." She is wearing a 
satin gown of brilliant emerald green, cut and adorned with slash- 
ings and puffings to ape a court lady twice her years. Her face, the 
greenish gray eyes gazing full at the spectator, is of a paleness almost 
wan, her lips are pursed as if in doubt of the identity of the iron 
staff with an iron head or spud on the end of it held in her right 
hand and to which she is pointing with a finger of her left hand. It 
has been suggested that this curious implement is a medieval shep- 
herd's "long arm" used to extract sheep or lambs who had fallen 
into inaccessible places. As painted in the Chatsworth portrait it 
more resembles a niblick, giving rise to the caption borne for gen- 
erations, "The Golfing Mistress." 

There are two extremely attractive inns near Chatsworth, the 
Devonshire Arms at Baslow with its long, meandering street of 
white-washed flintspar cottages and, perhaps more imposing, the 
Rutland Arms in the busy market town of Bakewell. 

Near Bradwell a wind-beaten church seen from above, lying hud- 
dled in a ravine, lured me to investigate the crazy-quilt pattern of its 
cemetery. With a forked stick picked up in the churchyard, I parted 
coarse tangled grasses in front of a few lichen-corroded old head- 
stones. I have ever found it rewarding to read the curious epitaphs; 
some in spite, some in maudlin grief, more are witty. I detected a 
sort of wry humor tinged with apprehension in the one which 1 
found at Wirksworth Church which ran as follows: 



DAME ANNA BURR LOVETT 
1*799-1*59 

Beneath this stone and not above It 
Lie the remains of Anna Lovett 
Be pleased good neighbour not to shove it, 
Lest she should come again above it. 
For 'twixt you and I, no one does covet 
To see again Dame Anna Lovett. 

The dame's husband, who outlived her by twenty years, lies in the 
same plot. The graves are divided by an iron grill, ivy grown. 

Readers of romantic novels may remember Dorothy Vernon of 
Haddon Hall, and the equally romantic When Knighthood Was in 
Flower. Scenes from both were laid at Haddon Hall, country seat of 
the Duke of Rutland. This ancient castle, never meant wholly for 
defense but planned more as a fortified manor house, lives up to all 
tales ever written about its crenelated gray battlements, its cobbled 
courtyards, "escape passages" tilting perilously on different levels, 
and the low postern gates. One of these, letting onto the "Peak road/' 
is known as "Elopement Gate," clandestinely used In the dead of 
a windy night by beautiful, unregenerate Dorothy Vernon. Besides 
the softness of moss and lichen-grown masonry, the spectacular beauty 
of the Hall's position on the side of an undulating hill instantly 
strikes the observer entering for the first time the lower courtyard. 
Then the ascent climbs steeply to the most memorable feature of 
the Hall. The Gate Tower at the crest of the long, stone-paved way, 
threading a series of rising terraces, acts as a cornerstone at an angle 
branching two long high wings. These wander off and away to 
dimmish into malthouse, brewery, bakehouses, all the appurtenances 
of a domestic scene that made up the rich feudal life of the noble 
Vernons. 

It is terraces ever ascending (the stonework completely hidden in 
wall and "bed-roses" the luxuriant white or claret red standard 
roses called Dorothy Vernon Rose) which cause almost every room 
in the castle to lie on a different level like a flight of steps. This 
singularity of planning a fortified manor house sets Haddon Hall 
apart. 

The south wing contains the long fourteenth-century Great Hall. 
The ceiling carries massive oak beams treated in an unusual design 

233 



of animal masks. In the ancient kitchen a huge hearth is so cavernous 
that "an ox whole, a buck, and six brace of pheasant" could, accord- 
ing to old documents, be roasted in the maw at one time. 

In the South and West Galleries tapestries depicting splendidly 
vigorous scenes of the chase hang from floor to cornice. Noble sports- 
men coursing hare, flushing game birds, hunting red deer and wild 
boar add to the rooms stir and excitement. They gave me the sense 
of dashing through a woodland glade as a member of the hunt. Cur- 
tains too are woven in threads of blue, green, tawny and forest brown. 

Bolsover Castle "rides the ridge" in the Peak country, complacently 
as ever William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, that most valuable 
and loyal supporter of Charles Stuart in exile, ever sat the saddle of 
whichever Barbary horse he chose to school in dressage at his Riding 
School adjoining the north wing of Bolsover. Cavendish built two 
baroque riding schools, one at Welbeck Abbey and one at Bolsover. 
In the train of Charles II he met defeat by the Parliamentarians at 
Marston Moor and was forced to flee to the Continent. Nevertheless, 
in spite of his poverty resulting from CromwelPs confiscation of his 
immense estates, he managed to set up a stable of eight Barbary 
horses in Antwerp and double the number at Bolsover Castle fol- 
lowing his return to England after the Restoration. With these 
"Barbs" he perfected a system of breaking saddle horses and school- 
ing in the Spanish method of haute ecole or dressage. 

The Duke rapidly became famous as the first horseman in Europe. 
"Precision, penetration, and perseverance are the three major re- 
quirements when dealing with The Horse," he wrote in his unparal- 
leled treatise on horsemanship, La methode nouvelle et invention 
extrordinaire de dresser les chevaux, which he published, luxuri- 
ously illustrated with engravings, at his own expense in 1658. The 
first edition, bound in crimson Cordovan leather richly tooled in 
gold, was dedicated to King Charles II. There were two later print- 
ings of this treatise which have become among the most rare and 
costly collectors' items in the world. Libraries of books dealing 
entirely with equine lore are rare today. Xenophon's justly famous 
treatise on breeding horses and schooling them appeared in 365 B.C. 
Thomas Blundell, who gave pointers in horsemanship to Tudor 
Princess Elizabeth at Hatfield House, wrote widely on this theme. 
Many of the large engravings from Newcastle's folio, the size called 
"double elephant," are framed and decorate the walls of the Riding 
School at Bolsover. 

234 



As a museum of art pertaining to the equine world, this is a 
magnificently displayed collection. The accouterments for saddle 
and coach horses, bits, stirrups, whips for showing a Barbary stallion 
are a show in themselves: saddles in gold, stamped, tooled, and em- 
broidered velvets, snakeskin, shagreen, and softly tinted Spanish 
leathers. Bridles are elaborately ornamented in silver, gold, and 
sequins, miracles of oriental ingenuity for minute detail. Glass cases 
contain the doeskin, velvet, and ottoman-silk riding habits complete 
with plumed cavalier hats and gold-fringed gauntlets which com- 
posed the sumptuous wardrobe of "the penniless Duke of New- 
castle/' 

Near Derby stands a great house of decidedly different character, 
Kedleston Hall. The site of Kedleston has been in the possession of 
the Curzon family for close on one thousand years. Originally it 
came into the hands of the family when William the Conqueror 
presented "a sufficient tract of land for a chase in perpetuity" to 
Robert de Courson for services in the invasion of England. The 
present house was started during the reign of George III (1760-1820) 
by James Paine. But when the exterior was half finished Sir Nathaniel 
Curzon, who had an ungovernable temper when his slightest sug- 
gestion was ignored, flew into a tantrum. His ire was whipped to 
such monumental proportions by Paine's contemptuous flippancy 
that he sacked him out of hand and called in Robert Adam to com- 
plete the job. 

Adam designed the interior of this house down to the last soup 
tureen. Indeed, he made single sketches for each piece of furniture, 
also curtains, rugs, even the silver service for banquets and the 
liveries of the original staff (still copied) which numbered seventy- 
five, including "inside and outside males and females." Robert Adam 
combined a rhythmical vitality with grandiose classicism, plus con- 
spicuous comfort; all this with faultless taste, a personal touch of 
elegance, which has rarely been surpassed. "Adam style" swept the 
world from London, to St. Petersburg, to Edinburgh, to Dublin and 
Beacon Street in Boston, and the countryside of half the world. 

Decoration in the dining room is based on the impact between 
dark furniture and light, luminous celadon-green walls enriched by 
plaster arabesques in shell pink and white and paintings of land- 
scape and the chase. The airy lightness of this room, as a foil to set 
off graceful stucco and paintings, is pure Adam. 

Interest in the State Bedchamber, an apartment always found to 

235 



be sumptuously appointed in these great English country houses, 
where the "slumber chamber" for visiting royalty must be rigor- 
ously considered, focuses on the immense bed carved from cedar of 
Lebanon, the posts being fashioned in the form of date-palm trees, 
a favorite Adam conceit, uncommonly detailed here. The heavy 
apricot silk hangings are the original ones hung under Adam's super- 
vision in 1760, in preparation for a visit by the decoration-conscious 
and outspoken Prince Regent. The drawing room is hung in celestial 
blue damask, an illusive shade I have sometimes seen in the depths of 
a faceted aquamarine. 

Hardwick Hall, near Rowthorn, and its contemporary, Longleat, 
were the two widely discussed "Glass Houses" in England at a time 
when the majority of owners of great estates were living in medieval 
castles and peering out of lancet windows. The woman who built 
Hardwick in 1590 bore, as her years increased, the names of five 
different husbands. No matter, Countess of Shrewsbury or whatever, 
she is known to posterity as Bess of Hardwick. She was her own 
architect and had a decided penchant for tall Tudor gables, richly 
ornamented, surmounting numerous tiers of mullioned windows of 
huge scale. Hardwick Hall is set high, rust-brown, glass glinting, 
against a dense wood. A spacious park lies on three sides. The 
arrangement of the galleries facing the long stretch of greensward is 
advantageous for displaying the immense collection of pictures. 

I came within sight of Swarkeston Bridge and a banqueting house 
for Harpur Hall built in Stuart times, now derelict, its empty 
windows staring, a haunt for toads and bats. I stood for a long 
time regarding the perfection of its proportions. A two-story castel- 
lated central block features an open pillared arcade of keystoned 
arches, occupying the lower floor. Flanking this, a pair of towers 
three stories in height have lead-covered domes which rise from a 
wide lead cornice. In front of this fawn-pink stone plaisaunce spreads 
Balcony Field, a spacious sward once close-cropped, now knee-deep 
in daisy- and cornflower-pied grasses. 

In the days when Sir Richard Harpur, sometime almoner to Queen 
Elizabeth, lived here this field was the scene of fetes and contests in 
sports. Sir Richard was a devotee of bull and bear baiting, of testing 
skill in the archery butts, and of wrestling. At one side of the field 
extends a long, tree-shaded bowling green. On the second floor of 
the pavilion is a long room with five mullioned windows facing 
Balcony Field. Along the back wall of this room extends a generous 

236 



hearth. Above the fireplace, along a lintel of bisque-white porous 
stone, I read a maxim, roughly carved, as if the chisel and mallet 
had been handled by one of great age, or at least unsure. "To the 
Old Most Hearts Are Like Books. For They Are Written in a Lan- 
guage That Can Only Truly Be Learned with Time." I was sud- 
denly conscious that a cold wind had sprung up; leaves, dry and 
brown, gray relics of a past year, eddied across the stone floor, I 
went slowly down the twisting stairs which trembled insecurely, 
worm-rotted, under my tread and walked out across Balcony Field. 
I turned round for a last look. 

It was then that in quick succession I saw two strange things. There 
was another of those roughly chiseled mottoes, this time carved on 
the border curve of the center arch. Evening shadows were 
lengthening. I had to take a few steps nearer to make out the 
words. "God Is Generous. To the Lonely He Gives a Kingdom, 
and in His Own Kingdom the Loneliest Is King." Then my 
eyes shifted to the windows above the arcade. There stood the 
figure of a young man, dark-haired, tall, swaying from side to side 
as if in agony, as if about to plunge to the floor. As nearly as I could 
make out in the failing light, he wore a fawn or pale yellow silk 
doublet, slashed in black. A cambric ruff had been clawed from his 
neck and hung down on one side of his breast, which I perceived 
to be running with blood. The face was ghastly white, the certain 
pallor of approaching death. As I watched, his bloodstained hands 
tore at the neckband of his yellow doublet. He seemed to be chok- 
ing as he clutched his heart. The evening stillness was rent by a 
scream of combined rage and agony, a sobbing, and the figure 
lunged past the window and disappeared from my sight. Transfixed 
by this scene, I had not noticed that a thin, noiseless rain had been 
falling, apparently for some time, for I was rapidly becoming soaked 
to the skin. 

Later that night I dined at the Peacock Hotel in Rowsley. I made 
some inquiries about the history of Harpur Hall. The barman was 
loquacious. I learned that Sir Richard Harpur had sired a handsome 
profligate son named Edward. When in attendance on his queen at 
Whitehall he had cheated at gaming no less personage than my 
Lord of Leicester. He was banished from court in disgrace. He con- 
sorted with scoundrelly companions and finally came back, ruined, 
to his home. Cheating at games was apparently his nature. One night 
he was dicing at the banqueting house with a crew far gone in drink. 



His usually sly hand was not quick enough. One fellow caught him 
out, cheating. A brawl ensued in which Harpur was stabbed. His 
assassin fled the place. Next morning Edward Harpur's body was 
found cold in death at the foot of the stairs. 

From a high scarpment of purple-brown rock, swept clean of 
trees and herbage, I viewed Nottinghamshire. Again I remarked the 
sudden change from arid sand and clay to stark, striated rock for- 
mations out of hobgoblin lore, to heavily foliaged oaks stretching 
away for miles. 

Evocative of stirring times, Sherwood Forest guards her memories 
of Robin Hood. The outlaw is a hero to children of the moorland 
villages in Ryedale and Dale of Seph and over the hills toward 
Castleton and Goathland. Before he is ten, every boy has played 
the part of Robin Hood, and every girl has twined cat-mint flowers 
in her plaited hair to impersonate Maid Marian. I can think of no 
other given place in the world that has for so long remained in 
focus, simply because of the stirring exploits of one man and his 
devoted followers. Sloth, in Visions of Piers Plowman (dating from 
1380) says, "But I can rymes of Robyn Hoode and Randolf Erie of 
Chester." This gives some idea of how deeply rooted is the legend 
of Robin Hood in English folklore. Popular ballads and forest fes- 
tivals concerning episodes in the hero's life were handed down from 
father to son, and new ones composed in every generation. By the 
time Tudor England was taking shape, when, for example, the Lytell 
Geste of Robyn Hoode was published (about 1500), the current bal- 
lads included the whole range of characters which we have come to 
associate with Sherwood Forest Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, Little 
John, and the rest. 

By this time the legend was being dramatized in the Morris Dance 
and other May Day celebrations. One may well ask just who was 
Robin Hood and when did he live? Those are questions which caused 
a great stir among Victorian antiquarians of diverse opinions. In 
the eighteenth century, Stukeley had stoutly maintained that Robin 
was beyond cavil an Earl of Huntingdon, who lived through the 
reigns of King John and Richard I and died in 1247. But && Vic- 
torian Joseph Hunter held to the idea fostered by Lytell Geste that 
the outlaw was one Robert of Locksley, a Yorkshire yeoman farmer 
of gigantic stature and equal courage, who lived a century later and 
spent two years in the service of King Edward the Second as "vadlet 
of chamber." In this historical confusion the important fact is that 

238 



whether a real man or a fictional hero of ballads, Robin Hood is 
one of the brightest threads in the great tapestry of English folklore. 

The Sherwood Forest which Robin knew was vastly different from 
the one we meander through today. Once it covered one hundred 
thousand acres extending from the River Trent in Nottingham- 
shire, reaching northward to Worksop and East Retford. It was a 
royal chase set aside for the king to hunt the ubiquitous red deer 
and wild boar. The husbandmen who ploughed and reaped harvest 
on the fringes of the forest were subject to the savage forest laws 
of the Normans and were further forced to see their crops destroyed 
by deer or wild boar straying from the forest confines, since the sole 
penalty for harming a royal beast was immediate death. It was this 
unhallowed state of affairs that first aroused the pity of the Earl of 
Huntingdon Robert of Locksley Robin Hood by whichever name 
one wishes to call him. Today the leafy rides are greatly reduced 
in remarkable trees, although three or four monarchs of the medi- 
eval forest survive. Hoary ancients among the newer growth, these 
oaks, riven by the elements, rear like moldering towers, noble, 
albeit infirm in their decay. Near Birklands-by-Edwinstowe is Council 
Oak. It is assuredly as old as Robin Hood. A mile or so away a more 
impressive oak was linked in name with the forest hero as Robin 
Hood's Larder. 

As I progressed slowly through the forest, stopping every once 
in a while in the wide, grassy glades to press deeper into a tunnel- 
like copse, I thought that notwithstanding the big industrial towns 
of Nottingham and Mansfield not too far away, a resourceful outlaw 
today might do worse than choose Sherwood Forest as a temporary 
retreat. Be advised that, just as the Arthurian legend pervades all 
Cornwall, the Robinian legend of Nottinghamshire is kept alive, not 
only within the confines of the forest, but in all its facets as firmly 
established in other quarters as well. For example, in the broad 
belt of the North Riding of Yorkshire from the Vale of York to the 
Yorkshire coast, the lovely turquoise green waters of the bay, bounded 
by the frowning cliffs of Ravenscar on the south and the green Head- 
land of Ness on the north, are traditionally known as Robin Hood's 
Bay. 

A greater part of the forest that was left standing (after giant oaks 
by the hundreds of thousands were felled in Tudor times to build 
ships for the navy) became the immense parklands to surround pri- 
vate estates called "The Dukeries," as Clumber Park, Thoresby 

239 



Park, Ollerton Hall, and Nottingham Castle. The historic valley of 
the River Trent leads one through the most attractive part of the 
forest. Clumber Church, an early Norman edifice with a tall, slender 
Gothic spire, stands in the heart of Clumber Park, famous for its 
long avenues of lime trees planted in double file. Perhaps the finest 
park in The Dukeries is Thoresby, the domain of Earl Manvers (one 
of whose ancestors is said to have matched his skill in archery with 
Robin Hood at the butts set up in the tourney court at Locksley 
Chase). 

Worksop and Warsop in a song are called twin sisters, "though 
sad to say, that little Warsop lost her K." Here the old and the new 
in atmosphere, the pursuits of the daily round, as well as in archi- 
tecture, are seen in complete harmony. 

Newark-on-Trent is a happy hunting ground for lovers of old 
inns. The River Reach is a charmer. Walk across the ten-arch stone 
bridge of River Street and at least fifteen ancient hostelries and pubs 
are clustered at either end of the bulwarks for you to choose from. 
Newark Castle is an impressive ruin as it rises stark from reflecting 
water on its high walls, so immensely buttressed in stone that it has 
survived many a siege, to come off scarred, the walls blackened by 
flames, but never reduced. The castle was built by warrior-minded 
Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, in 1 130. It was he who retorted, when 
a pious colleague chided him on not wearing a haircloth shirt next 
his skin, "I wear chain-armour night and day to defend Holy church. 
Match me that for a scourging shirt or flagellant to remind me of 
the Passion." The remains of Newark Castle are extensive and by 
size alone imposing beyond the ordinary. The original gatehouse, the 
great rough dressed stone once painted a furious red, is flanked by 
the east and west curtain wall with a battlemented tower near the 
middle and a lesser one at either end. It is the vaulted undercroft 
of the great hall where there are traces of armorial carvings, once 
painted in full colors of emblazoning, that most attracts the eye. 

After passing through a quiet village rejoicing in the delightful 
name of Papplewick one sees Newstead Abbey where Lord Byron 
for a decade * lived restlessly in his moodiness to cause concern." 

At Mansfield are ancient inns and cottages where bent-shouldered 
old women In starched lapet caps of handwoven linen sit outside 
carding flax, weaving, or making "pillow lace." 

Nottingham is divided, as with a sword, between the ancient and 
the modern. Chief center in the world of the lace and hosiery in- 

240 



dustry, it is a thriving and populous city that cards, weaves, and spins 
with one hand, and with the other leads one to such surviving ancient- 
ness as the Trip to Jerusalem Inn, which was established in 1189 
and claims to have provided as bountiful hospitality to crusaders on 
their way to the Holy Land as to me at a lunch of river trout sauteed 
in parsley butter, grilled kidneys, with a side dish of lima beans and 
garden peas mashed up with cream, a delicious specialty of this house. 

The castle perched on a jut of triangular rock appears more like 
a Moslem citadel remote in Andalusia than a Norman keep built 
on earthworks and noisome dungeons, accredited to the Danes, who 
scourged the coast in 868. One particularly dank dungeon hewn 
deep down in the bowels of rock is pointed out as the one kept con- 
stantly in readiness for Robin Hood, whose capture one fine day was 
never doubted by his archenemy, the harassed Sheriff of Notting- 
ham, who burned with frustration under the comical practical jokes 
played on him by the outlaw. One curtain wall of the castle was torn 
down in 1674 and a facade in the classic style erected. This building 
is now a museum of Midland relics and art gallery, 

An undulating road winds through Budby, Ollerton, and past 
the immense gates to Rufford Abbey. As finials to the rusticated 
stone piers stand rampant beasts of no known breed outside of her- 
aldry. A few miles along this road stands Welbeck Abbey, the 
immense, wandering mansion of the Duke of Portland, with its series 
of subterranean rooms, wine vaults, cellars for storing vegetables and 
hanging game, all connected by corridors. For what reason all this 
maze below ground was constructed no one rightly knows. One huge 
vaulted chamber with perfect acoustics has often been used as a 
hall in which orchestral concerts have been performed. 

At Southwell on the fringe of Sherwood Forest stands the Minster 
in the Wood. Dating from the twelfth century, it has a roofed loggia 
with three walls arranged as screens arcaded in three tiers of dimin- 
ishing Romanesque arches. Tradition varies as to whether Robin 
Hood and the Lady Marian Fitzwater were wed in Southwell Min- 
ster or in the tree-embowered church at Edwinstone. These theories, 
like all apocryphal data on Robin and Marian, might well be the 
definition of Sir Philip Sidney's opinion: "Legend rambles in 
thought, the mind of posterity must ramble in company." 

I had now journeyed to Lincolnshire. South of New Holland, near 
the Humber estuary, is Thornton Abbey. Called hereabouts the Rich 
Abbey on the Wolds, it looms majestically on the horizon, its two 

241 



towering pyramidal gateways rising from bronze green moorland. 
Perhaps its isolation is the explanation of why so superb a heritage 
from ancient days is little known to travelers. If anywhere in Britain 
one is confronted by the panoply of medieval history with all its 
implications of carved effigy, of banners streaming on the wind, the 
sound and fury of battle between warring factions, and the splendid 
luminous colors of royal pageantry, it is here made immediate. In 
1165 William le Gros, Count of Aumale (Earl of Albemarle), 
founder of the abbeys of Meaux and Vaudey, built Thornton Abbey 
"with my moneyes from my goode wool croppe." The Earl, one of 
the most powerful of the northern barons in King Stephen's reign, 
had to visit his abbey farms in a horse litter, having become so cor- 
pulent he could no longer mount a destrier and so had to forego 
joining a crusade. As a penance for gluttony he built abbeys, but 
continued to feast. That Thornton appears to have been constructed 
as much a fortress as ecclestiastical retreat was due to the danger of 
attack by pirates who until the mid-fourteenth century ravaged the 
coast of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire to dreadful effect. A rich abbey 
such as Thornton in the exposed and isolated situation fronting 
the marshes of the Humber estuary, surrounded by "ranches" where 
thousands of wool-bearing sheep grazed, offered a temptation to 
roving pirates that only massive buttressed walls could defy. 

The gatehouse of carven stone with its two arcaded brick barbicans 
stretches out like armor-sheathed limbs at right angles to the build- 
ing. The "ascending** design of the facade incorporates images of 
saints excellently fluid in carving, delicate in symmetry, to give a 
sense that St. John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Augustine, 
decked pontifically in miter, grasping a scrolled crozier, are about 
to take flight from their filigree canopied niches to celestial regions. 

I entered the historic city of Lincoln under Stonebow Gate which 
has emblazoned over its center portal, with the arms of the city, a 
red crusader's cross on a silver ground displaying a gold fleur-de-lis 
at the center. A fleur-de-lis, or lily, is the emblem of the Virgin 
Mary, the patron saint of the city. Stonegate occupies the site of 
the south gate to an ancient Roman enclosure or "field of Mars/' 
The figures on the south face, those of the Virgin Mary and Arch- 
angel Gabriel, depict the Annunciation. 

On every hand in the city of Lincoln, medievalism stares one in 
the face. But long before the first Saxon built a network of canals 
to cross and recross the city, or Norman barons built crenelated walls, 



a castle, and a cathedral, the Romans (the Ninth Legion) had made 
Lindon, later Lindum (their name for Lincoln), the largest military 
camp in Britain. The camp site occupied the summit of a steep hill; 
it commanded the gap in the long ridge of high land through which 
the River Witham escapes toward the sea and therefore commanded 
also the navigation of the river. The first defenses (fragments of 
which have recently been unearthed) were composed of shale and 
turf, revetted with timber logs. During the military occupation of 
Lindum occurred the famous rebellion of Queen Boadicea. The 
Ninth Legion hurried south to quell the rising and was cut to pieces 
"not a man or beast was left full-bodied' ' tells an old document. 
Fresh Roman forces restored order after two years. In the fifth cen- 
tury Lindum enjoyed the status of a colony, Lindum Colonia, in the 
course of time shortened to Lincoln. It is now certain that the co Ionia 
occupied the same site as the legionary fortress. There survives to 
this day the Newport Arch, the only Roman arch in England which 
still spans a main highway. 

The far-reaching Roman roads, Ermine Street and Fosse Way, or 
their modern successors following the trail, still serve citizens and 
visitors, and the Roman Foss Dyke Canal, linking Witham Water 
to the Trent, continues as a commercial waterway. 

In 1068 William the Conqueror ordered a castle to be built 
"raised upon a suitable rampart at summit of the plateau." Finding 
the Roman walls and gates to have for the greater part survived, he 
annexed the upper part of the town (fearing the disloyalty of the 
Saxon citizens) as an outer bailey, hence the name "Bailgate" of 
present day. With Henry I the castle became a royal residence. The 
constableship of the castle was invested in the family of Haye. But 
the solitary, buttressed keep on a tributary ridge of rock had a sepa- 
rate origin. The present shell-keep of the castle is known as Lucy's 
Tower. Apparently it was built by a remarkable woman of the time, 
the Countess Lucy, a great Lincolnshire landowner, whose stunted 
stature and proclivity to settle every dispute in a battle of arms 
earned her the nickname of Porcupine. 

Apart from its important position elevated some two hundred feet 
above the lower city, the majestic beauty of proportions defined by 
the cathedral church of Lincoln has a special interest for the student 
of English ecclesiastical architecture, as it exhibits the growth of 
that style from its early Norman inception to the most fully devel- 
oped forms of English Gothic. 

344 



On the death of the last Saxon bishop, in the year following the 
Conquest, King William appointed Remigius, almoner of the Abbey 
of Fecamp, to "proceed to Lincoln; there found an abbey and build 
a cathedral." The diocese was "mighty in acres, covering the wealth 
of ten counties," stretching from the River Humber to the Thames. 

In 1186, Hugh of Avalon, procurator of the Grand Chartreuse, 
became Bishop of Lincoln Cathedral. The beautiful choir loft of St. 
Hugh, the eastern transept, two magnificent bays of the eastern wall, 
and the great central transept were completed under the guidance 
of his extraordinarily subtle taste. He combined great sweep of scale 
in stone with a delicacy of carved ornament that reminds me of the 
improbably fragile alabaster filigree in the Court of Ambassadors 
at the Alhambra in Granada. The west front of the cathedral is 
forever memorable for the frieze of curious figures (1150), sculp- 
tures in narrative array, a consecutive series of biblical subjects. On 
the south side appears the story of the Fall and the Flood, on the 
north the harrowing tortures and torments of the lost in hell. As a 
sort of pendant to this remarkable galaxy is a kind of "conversation 
piece" in sculptured stone, the Conclave of Kings above the door 
on the west front. Eleven seated figures, each one relaxed in pose, 
occupying an ornately canopied niche, represent the kings from 
William I to Edward III. Attired in fourteenth century dress, each 
one is heavily bearded, wearing a richly jeweled crown on his long 
curled locks. Two statues above, on the easternmost buttress, are 
Edward I and Queen Eleanore. The corresponding statue to the west 
is that of Queen Margaret of Valois, the second wife of Edward I. 

This figure claims especial notice for being one of the most 
entrancing pieces of medieval statuary in existence. The face bears 
the utmost grace of feature, softness of hair arrangement, and oddly 
for the nun-like austerity of the period, long ringlets have escaped 
from under a voluminous veil which is held in the Queen's left hand 
as if she were in the act of walking across a sward, and guarding 
her draperies against the dew-wet grass. 

Among the humorous grotesques and obscene gargoyles on the 
buttresses, some acting as corbels in the nave's apex, is a figure of 
a devil riding on a witch's back, a monk sitting on a chamberpot, a 
"demivirgin" caressing a phallic vegetable, and a small urchin spew- 
ing up his supper. 

At the corner of Castle Hill and Great Rise is an interesting tim- 
bered house, the Harlequine Inn, an old "mountebank retreat." At 



the junction of Steep Hill and the Strait stands the old Bullring, 
where bull-baiting by bears, savage mongrel dogs, and "drunken" 
humans plied with spirits to give them courage, was once the prime 
sport. 

Aaron's House is a medieval gem of beautifully tailored masonry. 
Med Aaron was one of the greatest figures in English Jewry, having 
financial transactions through agents with many of the most power- 
ful nobles in the realm. He died in 1186, and by the usual rule for 
his kind, his vast wealth and property passed to the King. Some of 
Aaron's richest treasure was shipped to Normandy, but was reputedly 
lost at sea. His book of debts outstanding was so great that the 
Exchequer set up a special department "Exchequer of Aaron" to 
collect them all. 

Brayford Pool to the west of the High Street affords a close view 
of a row of stone and timbered houses that stem from Roman times. 
The vault, or passages for small boats below the Roman bridge, is 
called the Glory Hole. Lincoln's historic Carholme has been the 
scene of racing since 1727. The principal race of the year is the 
famous Lincolnshire Handicap, which vies for interest and large 
attendance in sporting circles, with Great Tom Plate, an autumn 
fixture. 

In Grantham, the Angel & Royal Hotel dates back to the four- 
teenth century, the George Hotel is an old coaching inn with Dick- 
ensian associations. The food served with a flourish, as old style as 
the house, is plain English fare but extremely well prepared. 

On the road south toward Grantham lies Somerton Castle, a 
thirteenth-century fortified manora grim reminder that it was once 
the prison of King John I of France after his defeat in 1356 by the 
Black Prince. The King complained "Oh, the slowness of my death 
it seems belike that his feet are like myself in chains." 

The Lincolnshire Wolds spread away to the sea where Skegness, 
Sutton-on-Sea, Mablethorpe, and Great Grimsby, the latter on the 
Humber Estuary, are famous sea-bathing strands for the Midland 
visitors. Butterwick and Wrangle, on the Boston Deeps, are old fish- 
ing villages where fleets of ships, wide-beamed, low-lying, carrying 
good yardage of "dreaming sails," wend silently out into the deeps 
at twilight. 



246 



Chapter 13 



THE RIDINGS OF YORKSHIRE, 

WILD NORTHUMBERLAND, AND 

LAKELAND MOUNTAINS 



JOURNEYING northwards, the countryside takes on the aspect of 
great drama, particularly in that part of the Pennines where 
the Yorkshire Dales penetrate deeply into the fastnesses of this 
long line of cobalt-misted hills. Entering Yorkshire at the River 
Wharfe I first saw the Pennines near Bolton Abbey on a fresh, 
sparkling morning, when, for immensity of reach, I felt that the 
whole earth was encompassed by this county. 

I wound through Strid where the River Wharfe rushes through 
a narrow, rocky, tree-canopied ravine and tortures its way past 
swarms of crimson rowanberries undulating up the hillside from 
which rise the gaunt ruins of Harden Tower. On and on the stream 
rushes, as if demented, through the villages of Appletreewick and 
Burnsall where the rowanberry hedges line roadside and garden 
plot, and stone cottages are inundated under trumpet vines. 

Malham Cove in Airedale is the source of the infant, chattering 
River Aire, which once fell nearly three hundred feet over a soaring 
abutment of rock shaped like a Saracen's scimitar. No longer is the 
river source above the rock, but at its base. 

This sudden rising of rocky escarpments is the eastern end of the 
great limestone belt that straddles the Pennines. Its immense over- 
hang of pale-colored rock, gleaming like quartz in the sun, fading 
to metallic lead-gray under cloud wrack, will impress everyone with 
a taste for the spectacular in scenery. There is a delightful village 
"worlds away" called Kettlewell, where the unmarried maidens are 
still identified by wearing wreaths of rowanberries, while after mar- 

247 



riage they assume a kind of Basque beret, fashioned from black 
velvet, huge as a toadstool, worn level on the head, the material at 
the back pinned up in a straight rudder with silver-headed heirloom 
pins. 

At slumberous old Hubberholme Church I saw the famous carved 
oak loft and rood screen. I also fed sunflower seeds procured from 
a tousled verger to the gray geese which thrust long, black-ringed 
necks out for food, following me unabashed right up to the altar rail. 

Sometimes called "the village of peace and beauty," West Burton 
drowses in a fold of Wensleydale. There is a saying in the wold, "No 
one born in Burton ever leaves it while they are still breathing." 
By that same token the funeral of a native is a somber and impressive 
affair. The ceremony is always followed by a banquet of "funeral 
baked meats." This ritual has been known to last for three days or 
"until recovery of the mourners." 

Perhaps the most famous curiosity in this northern terrain is 
Hardraw Force. A single uninterrupted fall of water divides the 
cleft of a wild gorge to hang suspended so for ninety feet. This gorge 
must of necessity be entered through the parlor of the Green Dragon 
Inn, an ancient hostelry of low-ceilinged rooms, winding passages, 
and tiny secret chambers, "haunted and unhaunted." The inn treas- 
ures some astounding tales, and an "ancient" plays on a knee-harp 
in the taproom singing old ballads, many concerned with witches' 
Sabbath orgies for which the dark wolds of Ribblesdale and Wensley- 
dale are noted. 

Buttertubs Pass, named for six small bottomless potholes ranged 
immediately beside the road, leads, the old ones say, to "under 
hell-land." The strangest thing about these ravines and chasms is 
the fluted columns of rock, stunning in natural modeling as the 
columns of the Temple to Neptune at Paestum. These plinths of 
striated rock are so grouped that they form a massive proscenium 
to each cavern. 

At Kirklees Park I came again to experience the immediacy of 
the Robin Hood legend. A tale that has swept back and forth across 
the wolds as constantly as the changing seasons, repeated in every 
pub and isolated farmhouse to anyone who will listen, is as follows: 
At the ripe old age of eighty-seven, Robin felt the tremors of ap- 
proaching death. So alone he journeyed to the Nunnery of Kirklees, 
where a kinswoman was prioress. She received him warmly, put him 
to sleep on "goose down" in a remote chamber. While he lay deep 

248 



In exhausted sleep the prioress crept to Robin's bed and severed an 
artery in his arm. At the stab of pain he awoke. In full knowledge 
of his betrayal, realizing that he could not survive, Robin summoned 
Little John to his bedside and bade him fetch his bow and arrows. 
He shot an arrow out of the window and later was buried by Little 
John at the spot where it fell. 

Give me my bent bow in my hand 
And an arrow 111 let free, 
And where that arrow is taken up 
There let my grave digged be. 

(From The Book of Days) 

As I approached Burton Agnes Hall I was struck by the sobriety 
of its exterior. Built in 1601 by Sir Henry Griffith, a devotee of 
carved wood in all its facets, the rooms range one into another in 
a loggia of arcaded panels, friezes, balustraded staircases, overman- 
tels, all intricately carved in floral arabesques and fluid, allegorical 
figures and creatures of the chase. The great hall is distinguished 
by its beautiful screen rising three stories. Its pillared base of carved 
black oak supports a three-tiered upper screen of plaster presenting 
an extraordinarily stylish assemblage of Biblical figures who seem 
to be chattering away to one another at a great rate. 

Two of the carved chimney pieces are remarkable for style and 
vitality of sculptured figures. One depicts the Wise and Foolish 
Virgins, graceful as Tanagra dancers; the other one is in the oak 
drawing room, a dramatic rendering of Dance of Death, with the 
figure of Death in cardinal's robes. 

From a turf-topped headland near Hawsker I had a widespread 
view of the sea with Whitby Abbey in the middle distance. A crazily 
leaning Saxon Cross stone marks the spot where the original mon- 
astery church of Whitby (1125) once stood. Then the path leads 
gently down to a place of romance, the barnacle-encrusted ruin of 
Whitby. Its cloisters, high fragile nave, and groups of engaged pillars 
resemble more the ravaged hulk and skeletal spars of some derelict 
galleon out of dreams, cast up upon a sandy shore, than the ancient 
stones of an abbey. In the wavering effect of light and mist It needed 
little support of the imagination to translate arched windows and 
nave into sails cut from the "clothe of argente, laced and jeweled" 
that was spun at nearby York to fashion the coronation robes of 



Plantagenet kings and queens. A gossamer rain curtained the shore 
as I came into closer view, better to observe details of carving. The 
Abbey was founded in 657, when it became the principal school of 
learning in the north of England. Here Caedmon sang, and Hilda 
reigned. A couplet can still be read in a stone carving on one wall 
of the ambulatory. 

The very form of Hilda fair 
Hovering upon the sunny air. 

The ghost of the White Abbess, Hilda, is often seen by mariners 
from far out at sea. The wraith, gleaming white, walks the high 
corbels of the ruined nave to presage a violent storm at sea. 

In contrast to the whiteness of the Abbey and its famed White 
Abbess, Whitby was once famed for its jet. This shiny black spar 
was fashioned into all manner of jewelry made fashionable by 
Queen Victoria, for she would wear no other ornaments save a 
parure of jet during her long period of mourning for the Prince 
Consort. The jet industry died out at the turn of the century. How- 
ever, one may still pick up handsome examples earrings, brooches, 
and bracelets in shops at Whitby, York, and Scarborough. 

The village of Staithes is set at the foot of Boulby Cliff, the highest 
sea cliff in England. Yet the town seems ever climbing higher on its 
terraced streets. Sandsend and Filey, far off, are set like twin ame- 
thysts in golden sands. But it is Scarborough, queen of the northern 
watering places, that takes the beauty prize along this extensive 
Yorkshire shore. The marvelous sweep of the great sands, mighty in 
curve, has no superior on the coast. The strand embraces Scarbor- 
ough Castle at one extremity and the Spa grounds at the other. 
"Bathing chariots," those absurd little huts teetering on unstable 
wheels, were first introduced here in 1770. 

The spa was discovered in 1620. Later, at the height of its fame 
as "Fashionable Idling Resort/' Sheridan worked it into a play, A 
Trip to Scarborough. Diverse entertainments are offered a visitor. 
By day take "the waters/* bathe in the exciting rollers, explore the 
ancient Roman and medieval town. At night the Promenade pre- 
sents a vision of gaiety under skeins of multicolored fairy lights. 
Bands play dance music, and there are numerous excellent restau- 
rants from which to choose one's dinner. The vast ramparts of 
Scarborough Castle, built by Henry II, which has played a dramatic 



role in English history by defending the coast and withstanding in- 
numerable sieges, is subtly flood-lit, until the whole mass of towered 
and buttressed masonry appears to float in a star-shine sky. 

Hedon, south of Scarborough, near Hull, treasures a twelfth- 
century church called King of Holderness. At Patrington a com- 
panion thirteenth-century church of exquisite proportions is known 
as Queen of Holderness. The cross that is believed to have been set 
into the wold by Bolingbroke when he landed at Ravenspur, bound 
for the siege of Pontefract Castle, is now preserved in a private rose 
garden. 

There is a stream that meanders its babbling course past the 
village of Kettle Ness. Flat stones are arranged in hexagonal forma- 
tion on its banks. It is here that Yorkshire fairies, those damsels with 
violet, primrose yellow, rose-pink, and apple green hair, and stars 
for eyes, come on Midsummer Night to wash their linen, which is 
found strewn about the bushes to dry next morning, in the form of 
gigantic cobwebs. 

I came into York at early evening when a watery sun, which had 
remained behind low, luminous clouds all day, accented the silvery 
white belfreys of York Minster, "the greatest curiosity of windows/* 
as this cathedral is known. William the Conqueror brought both fire 
and sword to this most ancient city in the dales. Sharp steel smote 
brutally to conquer, the flames licked Roman masonry and oak- 
timbered houses alike. Stone was blackened, but stood firm, oak 
beams crashed down under the flames. When the last sparks had 
flown upward into dense smoke to form a sooty pall over the stricken 
city, the Saxon Minster of York, "the glorious reality of a dream/' 
said Bishop Hedon of York, was a ruin of riven stone and charred 
timbers. Some fifteen years later a Norman archbishop, Thomas of 
Bayeaux, began building a new cathedral on the ruins of the old, 
an enterprise of stature, considering that the arc of time until com- 
pletion spread across four hundred years and seventeen reigns. Today 
this great church, which dominates a city supremely rich in ancient 
architecture, bathes a visitor in the glowing color of its medieval 
stained glass windows, the most famous the five long, narrow lancets, 
the "Five Sisters." According to legend the lovely patterns of the 
windows were copied from needlework cartoons made seven hun- 
dred years ago by five "spinsters of this parish/' sisters who resided 
in the shadow of the cathedral. Not far from the Minster Close there 
is a raised stone dais. Standing hereon under a brazen canopy, sur- 



rounded by his legions, the officers bearing on high a forest of spears 
topped by the golden eagle of Rome, Constantine in 306 was crowned 
with a wreath of laurel and a golden filet Emperor of Rome. 

The Plantagenet castle is a superb specimen of fortress on its 
impregnable eminence, and around it are shadowy byways with 
uphill and downhill stone steps, lined with old cottages built on 
Roman foundations. Walk out along the ancient city walls, partly 
built by Constantine, later strengthened in Norman fashion by the 
Conqueror in remarkable hugeness of stonework. The view of the 
Minster from anywhere on these walls must be seen to appreciate 
fully its three ivory-white towers. 

Yorkshire, largest of all counties in England, is divided into three 
Ridings (derived from "thridings" meaning thirds). Crossing the East 
Riding on the way to Pontefract Castle I stopped near Darrington 
in the West Riding to see an old tithe barn called the oldest and 
largest in the three Ridings. The date is 1260, the length, which 
takes the form of the ridge on which the structure is built, measures 
two hundred and ninety feet. Massive oak beams, each one surely 
adzed from a single immense tree, support a high-pitched roof and 
forked uprights. 

Pontefract Castle, built about 1230, is mentioned at length in 
Domesday Book under the name of Castle of Ilbert. The castle con- 
sists of an oval-shaped bailey built on a rocky hill of sandstone. The 
handsomely massive Piper's Tower remains to attract the elements, 
for it is known to have been struck by bolts of lightning over fifty 
times but appears little the worse for this harassment. 

Bolingbroke in 1399 imprisoned Richard II under some distress 
at first from confinement in meager quarters. When the King sent 
him messages of defiance, Bolingbroke caused him to be confined 
in total darkness in a "small cubby forbidding his grace to stand 
up straight," according to accounts left by one Forsby, Captain of 
the Castle guard whom Richard had bribed with the last jewel he 
possessed to "tell my sufferings and my case" to the world. 

The Cistercian Abbey of Rievaulx in Rye Dale is surely one of the 
glories of Yorkshire a picture of early medievalism breasting the 
centuries. A fragile shell like Byland Abbey in Farndale, each day 
it dies a little, silently, imperceptibly crumbles away, for time is 
lenient of such beauty. Another great Yorkshire structure is Scout 
Hall in Shibdon Valley near Halifax. A massive relic of a spacious 
age when a country squire could give his whole attention to racing, 

252 



drinking, feasting, wenching, hunting the fox it is in a bad state 
of disrepair, yet it has dignity, stature, and grand style. The house 
is built in the form of a "calendar building/* It was planned to con- 
tain seven staircases, fifty-two rooms, twelve doorways, three hundred 
and sixty-five windows. This type of architectural curiosity was very 
fashionable in 1685 when Scout Hall was built by a famous fox- 
hunting squire of Yorkshire named Sir John Mitchell. He commemo- 
rated his two favorite sports, one outdoor, the other in the 
bedchamber. A graphic frieze over the dining room doorway depicts 
a fox, six hounds, and a huntsman winding his horn for the kill. 
Above the door to a bedroom is a similar frieze, save that the hunts- 
man is carrying over his saddle bow the naked form of a voluptuously 
imagined lady. The horse seems to be headed straight towards a now 
derelict four-post bed. This is built as staunchly (into an alcove) 
as are the thick stone walls of the house. Recently a chest was found 
hidden under the moldering floor boards of this room. It contained 
five or six sumptuous gowns of crimson, emerald green, purple, and 
amber satins and tinsel-shot brocades, fashioned in the style known 
as "Classic Mood" made fashionable by the court of Charles II. 
These dresses had been hastily crammed into the oxhide traveling 
trunk as if for flight. Gold galloon was sadly frayed and tarnished. 
Petticoats of satin and fragile Flemish lace showed stains from dregs 
of wine. As Sir Thomas had remained a life-long bachelor, these 
costumes may have been presented by him to the naked lady por- 
trayed in so lifelike a fashion above the bedchamber door. 

Harrogate, on the edge of the rolling Yorkshire dales, is one of 
the best known and admired resorts in Britain. Situated midway 
between London and Edinburgh, it is visited by English and Scottish 
devotees alike. The annual Harrogate Music Festival (usually during 
the second week of July) attracts many patrons. Harrogate Flower 
and Horse Show (usually during the first week of September) is 
another greatly admired attraction. The Valley Gardens are delight- 
ful, vivid, in full flower from April to October, because of an equable 
climate. The Royal Baths, a spacious Palladian building, is one of 
the leading medicinal spas of the world. I dined in the colonnaded 
Sun Terrace in the Valley Gardens and listened to a concert, the 
orchestra being seated in a music pavilion behind flowering trees. 
In winter the rendezvous for dining, music, and dancing is in the 
gleaming white and gilt lounge hall and Adam ballroom of the Pump 
Room. 

254 



An air of melancholy hangs over the semiruins of Sheffield Castle. 
I saw the house on a chancy day of drifting fog, when faint rays from 
an intermittent sun cast a watery gleam across the ivied walls; rooks 
and starlings cawed and chattered among the thrusting pinnacles of 
the long Tudor wing where Mary Stuart was imprisoned for fifteen 
years. It was here that Mary of Scotland and her attendant Marys did 
the greater part of the the silk and tinsel embroidery, tapestries, and 
that curious art of "stump work" that has recently been on exhibi- 
tion in Edinburgh. Boxes in which to hoard letters, jewel caskets, 
portfolios, were made of wood, then covered with silks or heavy 
satin. Mythological scenes, or court figures, gorgeously attired, were 
depicted dancing a pavane, playing at battledore and shuttlecock, 
and so on. Faces were usually of ivory, cunningly painted to resemble 
some particular personage. Cotton was stuffed or "stumped" under 
satin skirts and doublets to puff them out by pushing with a flat 
ivory instrument in the form of a small blunted spatula. Sometimes 
wisps of real hair covered the heads, a curl of ostrich plume enriched 
the design as a fan or to decorate a hat. Mary Stuart was artful in this 
craft. I have seen a large letter chest she "stumped" at Fotheringhay 
Castle. The gallants in high relief, walking in a yew valley, have 
tiny, jeweled swords contrived from silver toothpicks. 

Sheffield is a bustling old city reveling in a monumental thirst, 
quenched by mild and bitter ale, and is excessively "plate" minded. 
Everybody talks silver in all its forms and displays it luxuriously in 
the shops. I remarked to a native lounger in front of a pub that the 
shops I passed were all SILVERSMITH or Licensed Premises. He nodded 
his head. "It is so. Even we workermen drink our ale from Sheffield 
plate mugs." 

Harewood House, designed by John Carr and Robert Adam, has 
a noble air, high set upon balustxaded terraces. This particularly 
splendid Georgian mansion was built in 1750 for Edwin Lascelles. 
Adam's elegant interiors contain delicate stucco decorations derived 
from antique forms. Brilliant frescos ornate the ceilings and the 
largest carpet in England, especially designed in champagne, gray, 
pink, and fern-green by Adam, distinguishes the long, high-ceilinged 
music room* The unique pelmets in the picture gallery are by CHip- 
pendale; seeming to be draped from rich damask, the swags caught 
in gold tassels, in reality the pelmets are carved and painted wood. 

The Ridings of Yorkshire are studded with great houses. Temple 

255 



Newsam is the birthplace of Lord Darnley, ill-starred husband of 
Mary Queen of Scots. The long, red-brick facade centers a 
winged forecourt. Owing to a curious kind of clay used in forming 
the bricks, the color is a mottled rose-red to deep bronze-purple. 
It is often called "The Tapestry House/' for its exterior, in the 
wavering northland light, does resemble undulant folds of medieval 
gros-point stitchery, while the interior rooms are so closely hung with 
a notable collection of tapestries and embroidered arrases that the 
sobriquet is apt. In a boudoir the walls are lightened by hand-painted 
Chinese wallpaper elusive in pale pinks, greens, and yellows, accented 
smartly in black and silver. This wallpaper was a gift from the Prince 
Regent in 1806, who was about to pay a visit to Temple Newsam. He 
even stipulated where he wished the paper, saying, "Hang this where 
I will sleep." 

In the North Riding country, Rome of the Caesars raises its head 
in curious, unexpected ways. I passed Roman milestones, hoary 
cylinders of limestone, deeply pitted by time, reminders of days 
when a charioteer traversing the roads used to carry a long sapling 
set up in the chariot beside him to use as a tally. As his horses dashed 
past each milestone he would nick the pole with his knife or short- 
sword, an antique version of a speedometer. 

Nostell Priory lies between Wakefield and Doncaster. In many 
respects it is the most interesting Palladian House in the North of 
England. One has an unimpeded panorama of the long west front, 
the stables, and pavilions when it is seen across the greensward. 
From this point one gets the full range of the pedimented facade 
with the majestic rise of entrance staircase curving up to the pillared, 
boldly corniced entrance door. Nostell Priory vaunts its antiquity, 
stemming from a "palace-priory" dedicated in 1109 by Oswald, 
martyr-king of Northumbria, to the present house built on the site 
of the ancient priory by Sir Rowland Winn in 1733. It is notable 
historically as the first, if not the only house in the North of England 
to have been inspired directly by a specific plan of Palladio's for the 
Villa Mocenigo-alla-Brenta, and as the first great gesture of James 
Paine, destined to be the most imaginative and prolific architect of 
country "palaces" in classic style, between the bombastic grandeurs 
of Vanbrugh and the elegantly articulated work of Robert Adam. 

Terrain in the North Riding becomes more somber, like the 
scene of some profound tragedy by Euripides. In my imagination 
I can hear trumpets, the crash of cymbals. In the gathering darkness 

256 



a great cloud palace appeared to ride close to the dark, plum-brown 
shoulders of the moors near Henderskelf. Pallid spears of light 
slanted down from behind a tattered wrack of indigo clouds, har- 
bingers of a dark night to come, a shroud to wind the nearly expired 
sun. Castle Howard loomed, that astonishing temple to a nobleman's 
ego, erected by a curious team of aggrandizers, Vanbrugh and Hawks- 
moor. 

I suggest that anyone traveling in the vicinity should visit this 
great Vitruvian-cum-Palladian palace, whose only rival for size and 
soaring proportions is Vanbrugh's Blenheim Palace. The young Earl 
of Carlisle commanded Vanbrugh in 1708 to produce "a residence 
to suite my style and eminence/' Acres of marble columned colon- 
nades, embellished with gold leaf, painted ceilings, sweeping stair- 
cases, and crimson damasks, rule the scene. A tour of Castle Howard 
is a complete education in Palladiana as exploited by a team who 
spared neither their own imaginations nor Lord Carlisle's purse, and 
hit the bull's eye dead center. 

Once I had crossed the boundary line from Yorkshire into Lanca- 
shire I lunched at the Farmer's Staff, a small public house on the 
fringes of Glazebrook Wood. I was given a true Lancashire hot-pot, 
which is a pungent stew composed of beef, ham, onions, potatoes, 
and, it would appear, all the rest of the vegetables in the roster. After 
I had eaten half my generous portion I was of the opinion that the 
cook had emptied into the simmering pot her year's supply of black 
pepper. It is a most effective thirst inducer, very fitting food to serve 
in an alehouse. 

When I left the Farmer's Staff Tavern the wind had raised a gale. 
I drove through a countryside of swirling dust and flying branches 
of trees. I was literally hurled into Liverpool, where there was 
terrific confusion in the harbor and Mersey Pool. Ships were dragging 
anchor, incoming and outgoing trampers and coastal schooners all 
but colliding in a wind-driven rain. But high above the city rose 
the tremendous tower of the new cathedral designed by Sir Giles 
Gilbert Scott, a mighty bulwark against all the elements, a beacon 
on a clear day, commanding the sea and countryside for fifty miles. 

As the sky lightened the soft, gray masonry monolith with its 
octagonal crown of arches and delicate spires, resembling a royal 
diadem, seemed to dissolve and fuse with the luminous misty veil 
of evening. The interior of the nave I found to be the definition 
of hollow immensity. The notes of organ music for evensong rever- 



berated among the corbels of the groined roof. The finest single 
motif in the cathedral is the hugely scaled Gothic rose window. A 
last ray of the setting sun shone slantingly through the glass in 
dazzling brilliance to reveal infinitesimal golden motes beyond 
calculation. 

Liverpool is seriously art-minded. An entire day may be agreeably 
spent in the Walker Art Gallery roaming among intelligently hung 
old masters and hundreds of paintings up to and including the 
modern. A recent acquisition is Van Dyck's portrait of Infanta Isa- 
bella Clara Eugenia, Archduchess of Austria and Regent of the 
Netherlands, This picture was purchased and presented to the city 
by the Royal Insurance Company from the notable collection of 
Lord Linlithgow of Hopetown House. The portrait is remarkable 
for dignity and restraint in handling, and for the impressiveness of 
the characterization. Van Dyck painted the Infanta, daughter of 
Philip II of Spain, in 1627, wearing the black and white habit of the 
Order of Poor Clares, which she adopted after the death of her 
husband Archduke Albert of Austria. 

The range of painters is various. Corot and Manet form a cool 
design of black, gray, beige, and green muted colors, while in 
contrast the vivid hues of Zuloaga and Matisse pulse with vitality. 

I stopped the night at the Adelphi Hotel, a huge stone building 
occupying an elevated position on a hill. From the window of my 
room I was afforded a sweeping view of the harbor, up and down 
the wide reaches of the Mersey estuary, and the dull, lead-colored 
waves of the turbulent Irish Sea. 

A few miles outside Liverpool lies Aintree, perhaps the most 
famous racecourse in the world because of the Grand National 
Steeplechase held annually there during the last week in March. 
The Sweepstake prizes, which reach improbable sums, have enriched 
persons in the simplest condition of life as well as sporting gentry the 
world over. The chase is run over a four-mile course which presents 
such stiff obstacles as Becher's Brook, Valentine's Brook, the Chair 
Jump, and treacherous Canal Turn. 

A short way upriver from Liverpool stands Speke Hall, a richly 
half-timbered, once moated and still quadrangular, riparian house, 
an exuberant example of Magpie architecture, the progenitor of 
black and white oak and plaster half-timbering in England. There 
broods an air of medieval secrecy in the shadowed galleries, lit by a 
tracery of tiny-paned casements. Some rooms are in twilight all day 

258 



long because of the encroaching ancient yew court, an overwhelming 
boskage of tall, pencil-straight, stygian trees. In 1736 a notorious 
rakehell, Lord Sidney Beauclerk, lived at Speke while he ran through 
the fortune of his wife, an heiress of the immensely wealthy Norris 
family of Lancashire, with as much dispatch and dexterity as he 
pricked an adversary with his dueling sword. 

The Earl of Derby's Knowsley Hall at Prescot, eight miles east of 
Liverpool, is a long, low rambling Georgian house, containing an 
exceedingly interesting collection of accouterments connected with 
all phases of cock fighting, a sport flagrantly entered into, with 
ruinous losses in betting, by Regency bucks. The picture gallery 
features works by Ben Marshall and Stubbs, the two outstanding 
painters of equine subjects of the Georgian period. 

Manchester, about thirty miles from Liverpool, is called the "hub 
of the county," a rain-drenched industrial metropolis where the very 
stones of the dark, forbidding sepia-brown colored buildings seem 
as water-logged as giant sponges. Like Liverpool, art and literature 
are greatly considered as a diversion from commerce and industrial 
progress. There is a notably fine library and a picture gallery con- 
taining a large and representative collection of pictures situated 
near the gigantic "businessman's castle/' the Midland Hotel. 

I now journeyed north toward Preston, finally arriving before the 
ponderous Tudor gatehouse of romantic Hoghton Castle in a wild 
waste of moorland. Romance in divers forms encircles the towers. 
Battles have been fought within and without the walls by genera- 
tions of Hoghton barons, who have lived here in unbroken line for 
six centuries; there are tales of elopements by great Hoghton heir- 
esses, and of festivities enacted to entertain royal visitors. On one of 
these occasions a word was given to the English language, one uni- 
versally used to denote the finest possible cut of beef. In 1617 King 
James I with his suite was entertained in the magnificently spacious 
banqueting hall of the castle. With great ceremony two lackeys bore 
in on a silver platter a monumental smoking loin of beef. The king 
ate joyfully of the tenderest cut. He then rose from his chair, and 
with all the ceremony of knightly investiture, touched the beef with 
his sword. "I dubb you Sir Loin." And to this day there is no finer 
banquet than a sirloin of beef. 

The early Tudor baronial mansion has two large courtyards and a 
gatehouse that is a small Tudor castle in itself. Room after room in 
the castle is paneled in ancient oak, and the collection of paintings 



and tapestries from Tudor times is of more than usual interest for 
the richness of gold threads to highlight the brilliantly colored 
designs of mythical subjects. 

The park is one of the largest in the country, occupying a wide 
plateau six hundred feet above sea level, from which I could discern 
through binoculars the boundaries of six counties, and even frag- 
ments of Roman wall in Yorkshire and the distant reaches of Cumber- 
land on the Scottish border. 

In the north Lancashire includes Coniston Water, two-thirds of 
Lake Windermere, and the Furness Peninsula on which lies Barrow- 
in-Furness, where I was taken through some of the large shipbuilding 
yards. Grange-over-Sands is a town noted for its splendid coast 
scenery, plus its varied amenities as an all-year-round seaside resort. 
Morecambe Bay and Heysham, linked by parks and gardens, are 
the chief bathing strands of this region. On the opposite side of 
the bay the Lakeland Fells attract many visitors for the powerful 
drama of their shadowed glens, jewel-like lakes, and hidden stone 
farmhouses, descendants from Saxon holds, not villages in the 
accepted sense, but farm communities that shelter in the lee of the 
towering mountain range of the fell country. 

Five miles inland from Heysham looms the historic town of 
Lancaster, ancient capital of the shire. Behind a wide, encircling 
outer wall and bailey, the castle, in effect a mountain crag, dominates 
the approaches to the valley as it has done ever since the Conqueror 
built it. Later, John of Gaunt considerably enlarged it, intending to 
use it as a royal hunting lodge, as well as to keep it heavily garrisoned 
against the restless Scots. 

I left Lancashire by way of Sunderland-on-the-Lune, a salmon 
fishermen's village of great antiquity. Roman soldiers guarding the 
sappers and engineers engaged in building the great Roman Wall 
across Britain erected stone quarters here so that they might augment 
their unappetizing diet of grain puddings and vegetables with the 
succulent fresh fish. The road to Sunderland is tidal. By land the 
old port can be reached only when the tide is low. An oddity in this 
northern port are tropical cotton trees, vigorous in healthy foliage, 
said to have been brought here on ships trading with the West Indies. 
The first consignment of cotton to reach England from America was 
landed here. There is a charming whitewashed stone house called 
the Look-Out with tiers of galleries and a captain's walk. From here 
watch was kept around the clock for the first sign on the horizon of 

260 



incoming West Indian ships. On a sunny morning or when the sun 
is setting over the river, the waterfront is a delightful place along 
which to stroll. The white creeper-hung houses have a lazy, siesta 
look. They seem to have been transplanted from Trinidad or the 
Barbados. Huge shrimp-pink oilskin umbrellas are carried on wet 
days by everyone. Fisherwomen, grouped along the quays, stripping 
scales from the catch, wear circular capes of the same brilliant hue. 
Westmoreland is a large mountain-girded county "under the 
fells/' Peculiar to this region, the haunting word "fell" denotes a 
mountain country. Kendal is "Westmoreland's fair city" set in the 
midst of glorious lakeland and fell scenery. Katherine Parr was born 
in Kendal in 1512 in a house called The Briery. 




The River Kent is a fisherman's paradise, famed for its excellent 
trout, pike, and salmon, Grasmere, Rydal Water, Newby Bridge, 
Ambleside have all marked their place in the literary sun. It is a 
peculiarity of England that almost every part of the country produced 
at least one writer whose fame is world-wide. The English Lake 
District has done considerably more. The major figures were Words- 
worth (born at Cockermouth), and his friends Coleridge, Southey, 

261 



and Thomas de Quincey. These wild-haired, hollow-cheeked youths, 
their eyes burning with the light of awakening, restless genius, two 
of them deeply addicted to drinking strong spirits, another a slave 
to the vice of opium eating, must have appeared a strange quartet 
to the stolid, inarticulate farmers and shepherds of the Lakes, who 
regarded their poetic fancies, their periodic roistering and drunken 
sprees in remote fenland inns with some amazement, yet more, with 
kindly tolerance. 

From Windermere to Penrith on the Cumberland border I saw 
the major portion of the Roman Wall clinging to the edge of the 
crags. Before dropping down into the North Tyne Valley at Choller- 
ford, the road is actually on the line of the wall, which dates back 
approximately two thousand years, a feat of military engineering 
handed down to posterity from the dark abyss of time. To flavor fully 
this Roman area one should see the excavations and museum at 
Chester (Roman Cilurnum) before coming into Chollerford. 

Mountain-climbing enthusiasts will have a field day at Pillar Rock, 
Great Gable, Scat ell, Saddleback, and St. Sunday Crag. For a fenland 
week end I suggest staying at the Haweswater Hotel on sapphire-blue 
Hawes Water. 

Cumberland is identified by its Lake District, which is a dramatic 
upheaval of nature and seems to be little altered by the changing 
elements since the Ice Age tortured the terrain. It is a land of dark, 
raisin-brown earth or rich black loam, plowed in furrows deep as 
small gullies and of bronze-tinged icy water of tarns, the "witches 1 
rivers" of old "fear tales' 1 that are still told in verse, or sung as ballads 
in the remote villages or farm hamlets of "dark Cumberland." The 
lakes of Cumberland are renowned for natural beauty of placing 
Bassenthwaite, Ennerdale, and, loveliest of all, Derwentwater with 
the fascinating, tree-shaded old town of Keswick. 

Second in interest to the lake fens is the gray old city of Carlisle 
"of an hundred histories/' wrote Coleridge. Each one of these 
"histories'" is a stormy one. The greenish stone pile of Carlisle Castle 
was built by William II in 1092. For hundreds of years, it was a 
border fortress, the scene of much bitter fighting between the English 
and the Scots. It became a byword to indicate blood-soaked conflict: 
"As bloody as the walls of the castle" (Carlisle). Even today the city 
bears the scars of its ancient wounds. 

The cathedral is one of the smallest in Britain, now only a frag* 

262 



ment of what is was before the Siege of Carlisle by the Scots in 1645, 
one century before the Bloody Rebellion. 

Towards the north of the city I saw once again the Roman Wall; 
still in a fair state of preservation are the gatehouse and Hadrian's 
Tower, which he personally designed almost two thousand years ago. 
Gretna Green lies athwart the border into Scotland. Runaway wed- 
ding couples from England took advantage of the more accommodat- 
ing marriage laws of Scotland and were married by a blacksmith, 
whose fee rose proportionately to the proximity of the pursuing 
parents. 

Maryport is remembered as the town where Mary Queen of Scots, 
after her deposition and defeat by the Protestant Lords of Scotland in 
1568, entered England as a guest of her cousin, Elizabeth of England. 
At Cockermouth Hall Mary Stuart was housed, safe but not happy. 
"Much cramped in meager quarters and assailed by damp, and cold," 
she wrote petulantly. It was the first of many "prisons** she was to 
complain of with increasing bitterness and despair. 

The sight of a city from the windows of a railway train is usually 
far from alluring. Of necessity the permanent way must lead into a 
yard in the dullest part of town. This is not so of Durham. From 
far off the magnificent castle on its ramparts and its neighbor, 
Durham Cathedral, seem carved from gray jade two great palaces, 
one to temporal, one to spiritual power. The county is concerned 
chiefly with exploiting the coal fields, for beneath its surface lie coal 
deposits, the richest in value and largest in extent in all England. 
Only on the west side of the county can it show unblemished scenery. 

Durham is one of the chief architectural treasures in Great Britain. 
The cathedral rises stark from the oak-wooded banks of the River 
Wear. Nowhere is there a more noble, awe-inspiring expression of 
man's faith. For over a thousand years it has reared its Silver Tower 
above the ancient Roman earthworks where the monks of Lindis- 
farn, driven from their Holy Island by savage, marauding Vikings, 
deposited in a rock cavern the mysterious remains of St. Cuthbert, 
who now rests behind the High Altar. To appreciate this church fully 
is to stand beside one of the gigantic Norman pillars in the nave. A 
predominance of ancient masonry soars like petrified trees in some 
primeval forest, to support the groined roof, far away and lost, a 
canopy of hazy mauve-blue shadows. The twelfth-century knocker, a 
massively wrought claw of iron on the cathedral door, dates from the 

263 



days when fugitives could cling to it and claim the right of sanctuary. 
There are dozens of these sanctuary knockers to be seen on church 
doors throughout Britain. 

Raby Castle, a fourteenth-centry house at Staindorp, eight miles 
from Bishop Auckland, has a long, romantic history. One of the 
most beautiful women in English medieval history to play the part 
of temptress to the desires of men was "The Rose of Raby." Her 




memory is kept forever green in the castle gardens, famous for herba- 
ceous borders and pleached lime tree alleys. Sweet peas are a great 
feature here. A brilliant coral pink variety is called "The Raby 
Legend/' 

Northumberland fulfills expectations as the austere and rugged 
scene one associates with the classic tales of the border country, a 
land of clamor both by nature in her wild moods and by violent men. 
Up and down the length of the Roman Wall English and Scots fought 
it out with great hatred, greater courage, and ever greater slaughter. 

Hamburg Castle, twenty miles north of Alnwick, rose out of 
the mist like a village of walls, crenelated towers, and battlements 

264 



cut out like a piece of stage scenery from gray velvet, so muted and 
blurred were the planes and levels of the massive masonry. Henry II 
built Bamburg. At one end of the machkolated outer bailey rises a 
stone windmill, poised perilously on the ramparts, built in the 
semblance of those seen on Suffolk Downs, to draw up water for the 
garrison in time of siege. 

I came to Newcastle-on-Tyne at sunset. The sun had broken 
through a dark cloudbank to spread a wild, unearthly light across 
clouds and city alike. Below me, along the river, a forest of masts 
looked still and strange, as if the fume and smoke from gathering dusk 
in which they were shrouded were the sea's depths. To the east the 
lovely arc of the New Bridge was clear silver. In this proud old 
Northumbrian city one must say Newcastle, never Newcastle, or you 
receive a dour look and a murmured "foreigner/* 

The Old Town mounts boldly from the river by streets so steep 
that the pavements are deeply scored crosswise to give safe foothold. 
When Hadrian chose this place for the start of his Wall and made 
it a strong military station, when the Conqueror's son chose to build 
his new castle where Hadrian had bridged the Tyne, they meant 
both defiance and defense. Later kings set up walls and gates, battle- 
ments and ramparts "whose strength and magnificence," says Leland, 
"surpassed! all the walls of the cities of England, and most of the 
towns of Europe." 

There is an abiding flavor of old names in Newcastle: Pudding 
Chare, Gallowgate, Pilgrim Street where roisterous Roderick Ran- 
dom found his friend Strap "assailing heads with a sharp steel" in a 
barber-shop Fools Lock, and Spillpopp, the Swordmaker, forerunner 
of Armstrong Guns. Over all reigns the sea mist, the cry of gulls, the 
snort and shudder of tramper whistles, the flapping of canvas sails. 
Newcastle is at the gateway of the sea, near some elemental core 
of things that great engines of modern industry cannot shift. 

I drove for a while along the gentle waters of the River Aln. At 
midday Alnwick Castle, a seat of the Dukes of Northumberland, 
appeared, the long line of walls, octagonal towers, and gatehouse, 
proud and immense on the opposite bank, rising from ramparts of 
green turf and "crowns" of primeval oaks. This castle was famous in 
chivalry. I seemed to hear the voice of Henry V shouting, "The Helm 
of Aln caught the morn's first light and led the host." The castle walls 
were first erected in the twelfth century. Smooth green lawns now 

265 



cover the ancient tourney field and the Field of Garrison, where the 
men-at-arms thousands strong prepared for warfare. 

The interior is rich in treasures, accumulated by the dukes over a 
long period. Paintings, tapestries, and furniture from early Tudor to 
Regency are found arranged in the great rooms, for within is a 
splendidly appointed mansion. The state dining room belies the 
thought that Alnwick is a grim fortress, for it abounds in the suave 
texture of satin and velvets, the sheen of silver plate, crystals, and 
gilded wood. 

When I was at Alnwick I heard the reverberations of a cause 
celebre that had caught the imagination of the countryside. The 
famous wild white cattle on the Chillingham estate, called the Wild 
White Chillingham Castle Herd, great shouldered, with a sweep of 
curved horns, had chosen a new ruler, a superbly massive young bull 
which had incontinently deposed the old bull from his long reign as 
"king." The old bull, brooding over his lost dominion somewhere 
behind the thickets in heavily wooded countryside surrounding 
Chillingham Castle, had hidden away, probably ruminating on the 
unfilial conduct of one of his offspring. For eight years he had ruled 
the herd. One morning his randy young son had covered a heifer, 
and when molested by his sire had challenged him to mortal combat. 
Then one evening in the twilight the Earl of Tankerville, owner of 
the herd, saw a wandering white shape emerge from a thorn apple 
copse. The old bull sought a "proving sovereignty" battle with the 
young bull "king" but, alas, was again defeated. 

It is said by persons who claim to understand the vagaries of the 
wild bull mind that it may take several weeks for the old king to 
reflect on life and recover from his defeat. Then one day he will 
docilely return and accept the new monarch. 



266 



Chapter H 



PRIDEFUL OF HER EMBATTLED 

HISTORY, WALES BREAKS HER 

RED DRAGON BANNER AGAINST 

THE SKY 



WHILE sitting in a wide window in the bar parlor of Bowsprit 
Inn close to Berwick-on-Tweed over a late supper of grilled 
sea bass, dusted with salt and dry, crumbled mustard 
flowers, I made a decision to follow in the path of Roman Legions 
into Wales. This was a line of thought that had been burgeoning in 
my mind ever since, in the scattered villages and moors marching 
with the Scottish border, I had seen fragments, or, frequently, con- 
siderable stretches of the Roman WalL Perhaps a few words I 
overheard spoken by men dining at the next table to mine really 
capped the issue. 

"Yes," one man said in answer to a neighbor, "Dramburgh Castle 
is now open to view. So is Dalemain House. I've just seen both of 
them/' 

That decided me. I would follow the serpentine course of the wall 
to Solway Firth, visit Bamburgh and Dalemain, then embark on a 
full-rigged coastal schooner, sail to the port of Frodsham in Cheshire, 
and so enter Wales in the proper manner, that is, from the storied 
heights of Snowdon Range. 

I drove a meandering course, always keeping Hadrian's Wall on 
my right hand. In the region of Carlisle Roman generals under 
Hadrian built substantial forts which straddle the Wall at Bowness, 
Burg, and Drumburgh in the region of Carlisle. Derelict, they are 
now surrounded by a curious class of cottage called in this area "clay 

267 



dabbins," which have long undulant walls thatched to the depth of a 
yard with marsh reeds. 

Drumburgh Castle is not an overly large building but has a certain 
massive grace of proportions. Its ancient lineage and reputation for 
ghostly legends are also impressive. Constructed from the stones of 
Hadrian's Wall, it appears, when first seen from a distance, as part 
of a guardhouse on the Wall. At closer view, though, it is a long, high 
structure, more like a large manorial farm or dower house than a 
castle. A sweeping stone stairway with inclosed stone balustrade rises 
to a front door of massive oak beams heavily embossed and cross- 
barred in hand-wrought iron. A note of elegant ornamentation is 
lent in finials to a square tiara pediment above the door at the roof 
line. Two heraldic birds, owl or eagle, boldly carved in stone, are 
repeated again as corbels acting as consol supports to three massive 
chimneys that rise from the end gables of the house. 

The interior is a rabbit warren of oak beams and small, darkly 
paneled "closets 1 ' and "withdrawing rooms." The chimney breast in 
each room, boldly ornate in carving or plaster work, occupies an 
entire wall. It was in one of these small rooms on the second floor 
overlooking the courtyard that a poignant tragedy occurred on the 
night of Christmas, 1561. 

An old tale has it that the Constable of the Castle married a young 
wife of whom he was exceedingly jealous. Absent from home on 
border business, he returned unexpectedly at an hour when a hand- 
some page was serving dinner to the lady in a heavily curtained 
upstairs room which she had just finished decorating with boughs 
of holly berry and clusters of bog-mistletoe. Entering the lower hall 
quietly, the constable heard voices raised in banter coming from 
behind the closed door above. Jealousy utterly distorting his reason, 
he leaped up the stairs, flung open the door, and slew both his wife 
and the servitor-page, whom he believed to be his wife's lover. As the 
lady lay dying in the arms of her now remorse-crazed husband, she 
whispered that on his return she was to have surprised him with the 
knowledge that she was carrying his child. There are persons who 
tell of having seen a distracted young woman in rich garments of 
satin and velvet hastening through the rooms and twisting passages. 
Finally she enters a room where stands a carved oak cradle festooned 
in embroidered linen, yellowed with age, spotted with mildew and 
damp mold. The specter fondles an imaginary infant. Her lips move 
as if crooning a lullaby. Suddenly she emits a piercing shriek and 

268 



clasps her heart as if stabbed. Then, with blood oozing from the 
wound, she staggers down the passage to become one with the 
shadows. 

Leaving Drumburgh, I passed miles of flat marshland, called 
locally "witch's marsh." Scattered farms dot the fringes of the 
Solway shore. Behind are the farm fields, the rich black loam deeply 
furrowed, for plowing oxen are still used hereabouts. I felt the 
archaic mood strongly limned as these patient, sculptural beasts 
moved majestically against an area comprising hundreds of acres of 
peat moss, remnants of a vast bog that once stretched from Solway 
Firth to the gates of Carlisle, and from which the Romans cut slabs 
of turf for fuel. Farmers and householders in the towns adjacent still 
cut the turf for their own use. This bog produces a curious variety of 
plant life, its surface laced with sphagnum moss, fairies'-hair moss, 
cotton sedges, golden broom, heather, and prickly bog myrtle. The 
"black coal" bottom peat dries close-grained, hard as flint, burning 
for a long period with a steady orange and violet glow, sending off 
a delicious scent reminiscent of the bouquet from a vintage Bur- 
gundy. Ancient species of sundew, used in pagan rites to Apollo, are 
found here with marsh-andromeda, the "weeping vine/' varnished 
the deep purple-black of woe. Cranberry of edible variety garlands 
the bog with a mantle of throbbing crimson in high summer, and 
flocks of cranes, their wing feathers colored the blue of far horizons, 
nest here by the thousands to feed upon the berries. Red and black 
grouse frequent the mossy brakes, forever quarreling with noisy, 
gray lag-geese. 

Dalemain Hall incorporates but conceals a medieval house called 
Dunmallard Hill, dated 1322, which had risen under curious cir- 
cumstances on the site of a prehistoric fort called Dunmallard 
Barrow. At this "King's Place" King Athelstan in 937 received the 
submission of Constantine, King of the Scots, and Eugenius, King of 
Strathclyde. The hill may have continued as a Plantagenet strong- 
hold, for in 1307 one William de Dacre was granted a license to 
fortify his dwelling house of "Dunmalloght" in the Scottish Marches. 
Great and powerful as the Lords of Dacre became by advantageous 
marriages and inheritances, the "lord thereof had to pay homage 
to the barons of Greystoke in the form of yearly rent, "a red rose at 
midsummer," and to Dacre church, a "fee of my principal ox." 

The name of the present house is inscribed on a stone door lintel, 
the words carved in Latin characters: DOMINICUM IN VALIIS, or domain 

269 



in the vale. Perhaps it was William de Dacre of the fifteenth century 
who distinguished himself as a mighty sire by begetting thirty off- 
spring, as he wrote a shade disgruntled, "twenty-eight children on 
one wife, but only two on a second.'* 

I journeyed west to Maryport where I spent the night, then 
boarded a small coastal schooner bound for Frodsham, Cheshire. It 
was wide in the beam as a cow elephant; rigging cordage creaked 
and strained at the coffee-colored sails as a gusty wind blew with 
irritating irregularity. But finally, in a driving rain, the coaster 
wallowed up the Mersey Neck and warped alongside a rough stone 
quay that had been built in the reign of Richard II. Going ashore 
I saw a derelict Plantagenet castle rising in high-placed, timeless 
solitude midway in the rain-drenched distance. 

That day I lay low in an oak-beamed parlor at Mersey Inn, in 
front of a fire of sea coal, going over notes of my travels. Next 
morning the weather had improved to clearing, but no sunlight. 
I set out to cross Cheshire to Macclesfield where, a few miles north, 
lay Lyme Park, the seat of the Legh family for six hundred years. 

The house rises on terraces from massive oaks and ancient beeches. 
In 1720 Giocomo Leoni gave it its impressive Palladian exterior and 
set a range of gracefully articulated arcades around the courtyard. 
This Italian disciple of Andrea Palladio, coupling tremendous 
imagination for soaring proportions with the ability to realize to the 
fullest his visions, redesigned the columned hall and built the grand 
staircase, a vaulting "set piece/' wholly admirable as architectural 
scenery when viewed from any angle. 

The plan of this quadrangular house dates from early Elizabethan 
times when the great hall was the heartbeat of any house of impor- 
tance. Many hands and many minds have worked changes at Lyme 
Park. But no one has in any way harmed the general air of a splendid 
country seat worthy of a long line of distinguished descendants. Sir 
Piers Legh in 1520 erected a beautifully designed stone gateway at 
the North Front approach. Two Elizabethan interiors in the finest 
expression of designing and furnishing of the time remain intact. 

The drawing room is remarkable for proportions that display 
vigorous plaster-work, achieving a sort of airy grotto, a white forest 
of leafy branches, waving grasses, and birds flying among cloud-tossed 
reaches of empyrean. 

Half-timbering may take many diverse forms. At Moreton Old 
Hall, near Congleton, about thirty-five miles from Chester, there are 

270 



thirty-two different designs in patterning, displayed on the rambling 
walls and gables, providing interesting study in crosshatching, chev- 
ron, spangling, or eagle-eye (oval) integrating of black oak and 
white plaster. 

A moat, unusually wide and deep, surrounds the site where three 
different versions of Moreton have stood. For four hundred years the 
walls have been reflected in clear, running water. The sixteenth- 
century chequered and chevroned Tudor walls gleam eerily under a 
high-riding moon. This luminosity is due to the sea water which 
down the centuries has always been used when mixing whitewash to 
glaze the plaster; thus the impregnation of phosphorescence is ever- 
lasting. 

The main part of the house, comprising the Great Hall, medieval 
kitchen, and Oriel Room, dates from Tudor times. The projecting 
bays which overhang the moat and the cobbled courtyard "set on 
high to obtain a lookout against friends or marauders alike" were set 
in by William Moreton (who wrote a treatise on his manor) in 1559. 

A long gallery of huge reach was most daringly superimposed at 
the top of the earlier structure during Queen Elizabeth's reign. 
Fascinating and unusual lead wall brackets for tapers in this room 
are said to have been presented to a handsome young member of 
the Moreton family by Queen Elizabeth (the ornate tag is preserved), 
"the better to light his rare comeliness." One of the signal features 
of ancient decoration at Moreton appears in the long gallery and 
chapel in the form of early wall paintings or frescos depicting crude 
representations of saints and martyrs regally attired in crimson, 
sapphire blue, green, and sulphur-yellow cloaks and diadem tiaras. 

A local appellation for Moreton was "the hide-away house/' and 
the name for succeeding generations of the family who inhabited it, 
"the vanishing Moretons." The rooms all contain ingeniously con- 
cealed doors let into the Gothic and Tudor paneling for a quick 
flight through the house to the two hiding rooms. 

I journeyed to Chester, where above the ancient walls heraldic 
banners still stream upon the winds as a matter of course, a per- 
petual pageantry to designate a royal earldom. The very walls seem 
articulate, each stone intent on relating to a passer-by the highly 
colored tale of some long recorded historical event. Above one gate- 
way in the walls, carved in Latin, is the motto of Chester: Antiqui 
colant Antiquum Dierum (Let the ancients worship the ancient 
days). 

271 



Almost two thousand years have passed since the Twentieth 
Roman Legion chose as the site for its fortress a low sandstone hill 
at the head of the estuary of the winding River Dee, and named it 
Deva. In 894 a Danish army wintered here and left Deva a "despoiled 
place of utter woe." It was possibly this event (Danish depredations 
were ever a festering thorn in the Saxon flesh) which prompted 
Ethelred and Ethelfleda of Mercia in 907 to gather together all 
their military resources to "restore" the city from its ruinous con- 
dition. In late Saxon times it was a place of consequence with its 
own royal palace and mint. 

In the early Middle Ages Chester rose to its heights of greatest 
glory. Its port had by then become the center for trade with Ireland 
and the city itself was the provisioning base for many warlike royal 
expeditions into Wales. Then in 1237, concurrent with the death 
of the last Norman "great earl/' the earldom of Chester was taken 
into the hands of the crown and has since been one of the titles of 
the king's eldest son. 

Royal favor, designated by the highest patronage, has ever been 
Chester's chief pride. King Richard II elevated the earldom to the 
dignity of a principality, drawing from Chester his personal body- 
guard of two thousand archers, for the county was long famous for 
the quality of its bowmen. 

Pride of the city was the magnificence of its miracle plays. The 
productions of "St. George and the Dragon" rivaled in rich trappings 
and ingenuity of presentation any to be seen enacted in even the 
wealthiest abbeys or palaces of the king. Humbolt le Danvers, a 
chronicler of 1 123, said, "As a city I call Chester a grand entertainer." 
Chester is the only city in England that still possesses its walls 
perfect in their entire circuit, to exemplify the most splendid example 
extant of a fortified medieval town. These walls were built by 
sappers of the Roman Twentieth Legion at the close of the first 
century A.D. They were extended in Norman times to encompass 
the castle precinct. This once included six gateways (Morgan's 
Mount and Newgate remain intact), several lookout towers built at 
various times down ten centuries, drawbridges, and portcullis. The 
imposing Eastgate, its Norman arch flanked by two massive crenel- 
ated towers, is still the principal entrance to the city. 

Because succeeding dynasties always held walled Chester in high 
regard, each reigning monarch since Norman times has, in some wise, 
left a lasting monument. To build a gateway seems to have been the 



chief aim in order "to ensnare the fickle fancy of Posterity." Bridge- 
gate, abreast the Dee "salmon run/' was built by the "mighty" Earl 
of Shrewsbury, whose eyes were of so curious a red-brown he was 
nicknamed "Old Blood Eye," rather suggestive of a Sioux Indian 
chief. Wolf Gate, sometimes known as Wolfield or Pepper Gate (a 
spice market was once held beneath its arch), was built during the 
reign of Henry VI. 

The Roman Amphitheater is the largest and most splendidly 
appointed yet found in England. Elliptical in shape, its exterior 
dimensions are 3 14 by 286 feet. A large amount of vigorously modeled 
sculpture, some in an almost complete state of preservation, some 
fragmentary, has been unearthed. 

Chester greatly rewards the wanderer. Adventure forth, pry into 
tiny shadowed yards and byways, sometimes reached by mounting 
deeply worn stone steps of Roman origin, or walk warily down a 
flight of steps with broad, low treads, the old style "horse ramp." 
Two thousand years ago the Romans gave Chester its street plan, 
proudly heralding two wide Imperial Ways, thoroughfares known 
as Via Principalis (Eastgate Street today) and Via Praetoria (the 
upper end is now Bridge Street), continuing as Via Decumana (the 
lower end of Bridge Street). However, to the Middle Ages Chester 
owes its most distinctive architectural feature, the Rows. 

These consist of a double tier of shops, one at ground level, the 
other a kind of aerial promenade at second story level. Each is a 
footway, the upper one being set back and covered by the overhang- 
ing bay windows, penthouses, or balconied terraces of the houses. 
In front of the footway at first floor level runs a continuous line 
of stalls in which the casual pedestrian or shopper can linger un- 
disturbed by the stream of passers-by, window-shop at leisure, or look 
down to ruminate upon the parade of the daily round on the street 
below. 

The true origin of the Rows has never been satisfactorily ex- 
plained, though many theories have been vouchsafed. Perhaps the 
most acceptable is that the Rows are due to the presence of massive 
ruins of Roman buildings along the main streets which may have 
led the early medieval inhabitants to erect their shops at street level 
in front of the ruins as well as at the higher level on top of them. 
The first historical reference to the Rows occurs in old documents 
of the fourteenth century where Fishmonger's Row and the Fish 
Market are designated "the Kynge's fysshe borde." Other references 

*73 



are to the Butter Walk, Milk Stoup, Mercer's Row (tailors and 
drapers), Cook's Row, Pepper and Spice Row, and an irate allusion 
to the bad paving of medieval streets, Broken-Shin Row. 

The house fronts along the Rows vary in a most picturesque 
manner. Half-timbering, peculiarly intricate and "spangled" in de- 
sign, so characteristic of Chester domestic architecture, prevails in 
general, although every now and then a stern Gothic stone frontage 
stares grimly out from black oak and cream plaster and the scattered 
pedimented and pillared white stucco Georgian facades. 

Many of the tall, timbered houses, high piled with overhanging 
gables, uncommonly enriched by carved oak entablature, window 
architraves, and grotesque corbels, were once the town houses of 
noblemen and country gentlemen, proprietors of the wide field 
farms lying like a girdle of prosperity and abundance that can be 
seen from the Roman Walls of Chester. 

Bishop Lloyd's House is the richest example of carved timberwork 
in the city, its paneled front bearing curiously intermingled scenes 
from sacred history and the animal world, including a bear with a 
ragged staff, an elephant supporting upon his back a castle, and a 
lion wearing a fantastic gorget composed of three running legs, 
emblem of the Isle of Man. In a house of "fretted" oak and red 
plaster, Thomas Yale, grandfather of Elihu Yale, founder of Yale 
University, was born. 

Stanley Palace in Watergate Street takes first place among the 
medieval oak-timbered houses. Built in 1591 by Peter Warburton, it 
was the town house of the Stanleys of Alderley. The interior is richly 
decorated in heraldic emblazoning, a kind of Never-Never Land of 
curious trees, gigantic flowers, fruits, and mythical beasts. In the 
low-ceilinged rooms the overscale design of vitally rendered plaster- 
work produces the odd effect that one is being perpetually attacked 
by writhing flora, captained by all the cohorts of heraldry. 

In Lower Bridge Street stand the Falcon Inn and the Old King's 
Head, both of seventeenth century origin. The immense, half- 
timbered structure, the frontage gleaming like a jeweled breastplate 
from tiers of leaded casement windows, was built in 1664 as a 
"palace" for the Earls of Shrewsbury. It now houses the Bear and 
Billet. This inn is renowned far and wide for its daily fare of poached 
River Dee salmon, followed by the irridescent rose-red succulence 
of boiled silverside beef served with the hottest horse-radish sauce. 
Leaving Cheshire I entered Wales, driving through the foothills 



of Denbighshire, along narrow passes where primeval oaks and 
mountain ash trees arched over the roadway forming isles of greenery 
until I believed that I was traversing the long altar corridors of some 
leafy temple to the old Celtic gods a country of steep hills intersected 
by fertile valleys in whose folds there shone, white as alabaster, the 
walls of whitewashed stone farmsteads. The long arbors extend at 
either end of the houses like welcoming arms thickly hung with 
wild grape and purple clematis vines. 

Once across the border the curtain was raised to reveal an ancient 
storied land, a grand transformation scene, England into Wales. 

It is now approximately seven hundred years since England and 
Wales became part of the same kingdom, but the Welsh people have 
retained to this day their own individuality and their own language, 
an ancient Celtic tongue whose literature goes back fourteen hun- 
dred years. I find the Welsh an intense people, with a deep and fierce 
love of their own country and its blazing embattled traditions. For 
this reason, when Britain was subdued by one or another of a suc- 
cession of foreign invaders, the Welsh never failed to retain inviolate 
some corner of their land, some remote mountain fastness or hidden 
pasturage fed by streams gushing from the hundreds of waterfalls 
that freshen the mountains and farms. From these retreats the Welsh 
could successfully defy the enemy. 

Although Edward I (1272-1307) built throughout Wales great 
castle fortresses to serve as military bases for subjugation of the Welsh 
people, the mighty Snowdonian region, a very realm apart, a mass 
of soaring, jagged buttresses, was never conquered. As silver-tongued 
Welsh singers and storytellers relate, there are no more glorious 
pages in Welsh history than those of the self-denying patriotism and 
lonely valor of the two Welsh princes whom Edward slew. A chron- 
icler of the time set a saying to song: "The fall of blood was heard 
drip from the treacherous Plantagenet swords like deadly rain foam- 
ing the mountain passes/* 

Legends seem to linger through the ages about mountainous coun- 
tries, but in Wales folk tales seem to be almost as well preserved 
as the mountain scenery, some of the most sublime on earth. The 
Welsh are pre-eminently musical. When this music is for the harp, 
accompanied by the voice, a kind of pagan intensity, a tribal lament 
prevails, the like of which I have heard only in Morocco and the 
southern provinces of Spain. Too, the Welsh are great lovers of 
poetry and have the gift to express themselves strongly, re-creating 

275 



incidents of their long and stirring history, an inexhaustible spring 
to draw upon. Indeed, the legend of the ubiquitous King Arthur, 
who appears to have traveled widely, originated in Wales. 

The Welsh love of poetry finds resounding expression every year 
in the National Eisteddfod held alternately in North and South 
Wales when a staggering amount of poetry, sent in by aspiring poets 
of all ages, is carefully read and prizes are awarded. Attended by 
ceremonials, the participants, arrayed in traditional robes of Druidical 
significance, re-enact historical dramas and tableaux. This is a fes- 
tivity that attracts visitors from all over the world. An old tradition 
has it that when the bards sing, "the mountains and the valleys 
reverberate with song, so soft, so strong, it attracts the birds and the 
rilling streams to join in hosannas." 




Wales is renowned for its multitudinous wild flowers, which star 
the meadows and wreath the hedgerows from April until late autumn. 
But no field flower nor blossoming vine can compare with the superb 
rhododendron thickets which reach immense acreage and beauty of 
branch and flower in North Wales. Whole hillsides tower into the 
sky to show close-set bushes, an unbroken mass of soft pink, wine- 

376 



deep, white, or mauve flowers of amazing circumference, set within 
a crown of long, burnished, dark green leaves. Along the roads, in 
cottage gardens and the parks of manor houses and castles alike are 
the "golden fountains," the laburnum trees. 

One of the most delightful towns in Wales is Llangollen, situated 
in a natural garden of flowers and immemorial trees, the whole en- 
circled by massed rhododendron bushes. On the opposite bank from 
the town, perched high on a conical hill, is Dinas Bran Castle, 
haunted by the ghost of a leprous madman who was confined in its 
dungeons for half his long life "to murder the night with screech- 
ing." Half a mile out of town, surrounded by a high stone wall 
enclosing a sheep-cropped green lawn, stands a house renowned in 
Welsh folklore, Plas Newydd, a black and white building of odd 
design, the "spangling" of black on white taking the form of huge 
daisies, the center being porthole "witch-windows," the panes set in 
a frame that revolves like a top, spinning on a swivel so that a 
"witch woman" can fly in or out at will. 

Here lived the two eccentric recluses, Lady Eleanor Butler and the 
Honorable Sarah Ponsonby, the "Ladies of Llangollen" (1778-1831), 
who devoted their lives to "friendship and celibacy" and held bril- 
liant court, entertaining many of the celebrities of their time, in- 
cluding such diverse persons as Lady Caroline Lamb, Lord Byron, 
Mrs. Siddons, and, oddly enough, the Duke of Wellington, who, 
Lady Eleanor said, was "dedicated to intolerance and cruel riposte." 

Chirk Castle, built in 1300, lies at the confluence of the Rivers Dee 
and Ceiriog, forever guarding the ancient gore-splashed frontier of 
England and Wales where the Berwyn Hills were once peopled with 
Roman slaves who lived like conies in cave villages. Chirk Castle was 
anciently the "fee" of Llewelyn ap Madoc, hero of the Welsh ode 
to "the dragon of Chirk with the obstinate spear." The landscape 
around Chirk is gloriously wild. Seen from afar, the castle appears 
to be lying in wait, crouched for a lethal spring at anyone who 
attempts to approach. This effect is created by the fact that the walls 
are relatively low in proportion to their sweeping extent. None of 
the towers rises above the level of the bastion walls, therefore none 
dominates the others. 

The road from Mold through Ruthin is a reminder that the sup- 
posedly superhuman task of moving the massive stones for erecting 
Stonehenge was accomplished by indefatigable Welsh Druids who 
sledged them from this part of Wales to Salisbury Plain. I heard 



carters and herdsmen, on the march to market towns call out to one 
another in the pure musical Welsh tongue. I recalled having heard 
that at the last census it was found that 40,000 persons in Wales 
could not speak English, and that nearly three quarters of a million 
inhabitants of the principality speak Welsh. 

I passed a whitewashed stone farmhouse where a group of women 
were engaged in a "song gathering." The Welsh name of this pastime, 
sternly coupled with industry, is, to the un-Welsh, unpronounce- 
able. Two deep galleries, arranged one above the other, ran the entire 
length of the house and were set so far back under the overhanging 
eaves that each seemed to be a shadowy room. On the upper gallery 
sat women spinning wool on wheels of ancient date. Under a linden 
tree at one side of the lower gallery sat five or six women, one of 
whom played a large oak Welsh harp while the others sang poems 
of long gone days, never set to music; each singer carefully followed 
the harpist as she improvised the lines in cadenced rhythm. Each 
woman was dressed identically in long, enveloping hooded cloaks 
fashioned like those of a Crusader from vermilion wool. Each wore 
the white lawn cap edged in a ruffling, tied under the chin. Atop 
this was the traditional Welsh stovepipe hat, the black crown rising 
twenty inches from a wide, stiff brim. I noticed two of the spinners 
wore the chin protector affected only by widows. A triangular piece 
of stiffened black buckram, shaped like the cow-catcher of an old- 
time railroad engine, jutted out from just under the lower lip. 

A little farther along the road I passed two young girls evidently 
bound to join the singing party. Without the red cloak, they wore 
the same frilled cap and black, tall-crowned hat, but bodice and long 
full skirt were fashioned from dark wine and black or autumn leaf 
brown and gray striped wool. The stripes of the bodice were cut on 
the horizontal, the skirt on the perpendicular. A scarf of white lawn 
foaming with ruffles was crossed as a fichu over the breast and tied 
at the back, the long ends waving in the breeze, 

Llanberis Hotel is set in the splendor of a towering gorge, a slash 
of silver waterfall aided by the sun's piercing rays creating myriad 
rainbows in the misted shadows of the waterfall pool. I lunched 
there on cream of leek soup, in which potato dumplings floated, and 
deliciously prepared river trout. 

For a few hundred yards, entrance to Llanberis Pass offers a 
closed-in gorge of raisin purple, indigo blue, and Pompeian red 
rocks, the formation of wide strata of variegated rock heightened 

278 



immeasurably by swaths of outcropping heliotrope valerian bursting 
like purple flames from out the rock fissures. Suddenly I came out 
of the pass to view lake country, long finger lakes that twist and turn 
serpentine, to mirror in quiet depths the foliaged foothills of Snow- 
don Range. And then it is the glorious panorama of Snowdon from 
Capel Curig, a wonderworld of gaunt rock massifs rising far off and 
away into the clouds from a verdant valley where upon the valley 
floor a mosaic of streams, some wide and fairly straight, others 
narrow and meandering, cause a shimmer of silver to glaze the land 
to iridescence, in the manner that the patina of time overspreads the 
silver-gilt figurines unearthed in ancient Corinth. 

From a high escarpment in the pass an extraordinary sight un- 
folds, wherein man and machinery join hands with nature to create 
convenience and rhythmic beauty in stone: Telford's aqueduct over 
the River Ceiriog. This aqueduct, which is 710 feet long, was a 
rehearsal for his masterpiece, the aqueduct of Pont-y-Cysylltau carry- 
ing the Shropshire Union Canal over the Dee Valley. 

I believe the most magnificent landscape in North Wales to be 
Snowdonia, ever changing from early in the after-sunrise clarity of 
shattering sunlight to late afternoon bathed in gentler radiance. 
Shadows from drifting clouds above or the richly dark gullies and 
folds of this range cause the mountain flanks to take on an other- 
worldliness, when, at moonrise, the electrifying brilliance of silvered 
crags becomes a pageant of rearing crystallized Mountains of the 
Moon. By moonlight the fine peaks of Snowdon dominate one's 
visual world. I left the mountains bathed in late russet sunlight 
under a dark violet sky, a silent lonely world, forgotten but for the 
ancient Welsh gods. 

Colwyn Bay, a tremendous sweep of icy green water frilling a 
sandy shore, is spectacularly well served by nature to emphasize its 
shell-shaped curve. Rugged mountain scenery of singularly diverse 
kind provides a dramatic backdrop. Colwyn Bay Hotel, famous for 
its cuisine, is one of the most noted hostelries in Wales. 

It was at Great Orme west of the Marine Drive, a haunt o un- 
imaginable natural beauty, that Lewis Carroll found his inspiration 
for "Alice in Wonderland." Llandudno has long lived in prosperity 
and fully-thronged summer seasons because of its climate and unex- 
celled sea bathing. The lagoon-like estuary of the River Conway is 
reached from Llandudno through the delightful, Victorian-in-spirit 
resort of Deganwy. 



The ancient Borough of Conway retreats into its own historic past 
behind inviolate stone walls to unfurl its banner of early medievalism 
for the admiration of travelers from all parts of the world, Conway 
(the ancient name is Aberconwy) in Caernavonshire was founded 
in 1284 by Edward I, "that giant Plantagenet the great builder." He 
enclosed the town within perhaps the most impressive and archi- 
tecturally splendid town walls in Britain. Like nearly all medieval 
towns, Gonway owes its siting and development into a fortress- 
guarded Royal Borough to felicitous geography. Set arrogantly aloof 
on a natural rampart of turf-topped rock, the broad tidal waters of 
the mountain-born Conway River form a protective barrier and 
boundary to the scarcely penetrable stronghold of the Snowdon 
Mountains, the Welsh Eryri, where among its fastnesses, so the old 
bards sang, "no path lies for men's feet to tread, only the deadly eagle 
flies/' 

The first road, no more than a goat path hacked from living rock 
on the sky line, was a Roman road guarded by the fort of Conovium. 
The Norman crossing of Snowdon was a wider way cut considerably 
lower down, guarded by a typical early Welsh stockade castle of 
timber, beams, wattle-daub, and earth, the mound of which still 
remains. 

Edward I built as his "stone guardians" of Snowdonia the castles 
of Conway, Caernarvon, Harlech, Beaumaris, Flint, and Rhuddlan. 
As Prince Edward, he had returned from a Crusade to the Holy Land 
where his military tactics and fearlessness had earned him the Saracen 
exclamation, "Another Coeur-de-Lion has appeared from England." 
After Acre and Nazareth and lesser victories, Edward took seriously 
to the study of castle building. His advanced ideas, largely of his 
own contriving, marked a new development in castle construction. 
That is why Conway Castle was unique in its time. Round towers 
took the place of square. Circular turrets, which crown four of the 
eight towers (it is believed this part of the castle was built first), 
suggest an oriental origin. 

It was in the refectory of Conway Abbey, roofed with immense 
dove-tailed stone arches, that Edward, after the second revolt of the 
young hothead ruler of Wales, Llewelyn ap Griffith, grandson of 
Llewelyn the Great, High King of Wales, received the head of the 
luckless young warrior. At this time Conway Castle was in the process 
of building. Edward dismantled the abbey and used a greater part 

280 



of the richly sculptured stone ornament, Including the stone groins, 
to embellish the great hall at Conway castle. 

The portcullis, oddly identified by an inner arch composed of 
tHe jawbone of a whale of unknown vintage, is approached up a 
steep, winding ramp which follows the castle walls. These rise from 
a great courtyard below, once used as a champ-de-mars, now the 
entrance to the town end of the suspension bridge. The portcullis 
arch passes beneath the Abbey Tower, one of the eight massive 
towers of the castle, each one measuring fifty feet in diameter. The 
King's Tower contains a fine suite of six rooms and six stone-hooded 
fireplaces. The Queen's Bower is considerably enriched by an orna- 
mental recess. This sweeping bay contained the private chapel, seem- 
ing strangely alien among so much military austerity, of Queen 
Eleanore of Castile, who was held in such high esteem by her husband 
that he granted her every wish. Edward personally supervised her 
rooms for refinement in dwelling quarters. The Queen loved flowers 
excessively. At Conway, at Harlech, and Caernarvon all sorts of roses 
bloomed. The walled space where Eleanore set her garden is now 
a wilderness of valerian, wild verbena, and ox-eyed daisies. A chron- 
icler set down: "The court made merry at Conway this Christmas. 
She of Castile, my sovereign's delight, did all bedight the hall and 
chapel with rose-boughs, mistletoe and dark, fragrant boughs." It 
was an accepted usage that Edward should seat his court at Conway 
to celebrate Christmas with high and gorgeous festivity. 

Parry, in his Royal Visits and Progresses, says that "Edward and 
his Queen spent their Christmas at the magnificent palace of Con- 
way Castle. 7 ' Edward always luxuriated in high pomp and, according 
to Parry, "great good days of the merry." The great hall, a long 
apartment, arched by stone groining and warmed by four cavernous 
fireplaces in which were burned piles of ten-foot oak logs, was des- 
tined to provoke festivity on the grand scale. Imagine, for a moment, 
the arras-hung walls alight from flambeaux, the floor crowded with 
warriors in armor, knights, foppish courtiers, and damsels all arrayed 
in velvets and "mappis," a damask threaded thickly with gold and 
silver tinsel. To the music of viols, tambours, harps, flutes, and 
dulcimers the great nave-like room would echo to the rude merri- 
ment and "jokerries" of feudal days. Edward, courting the sullen, 
obdurate Welsh, would most certainly invite to his Christmas fes- 
tivities, as he did to his "market assemblies/' representative mem- 
bers from three of his "English towns" which linked his three 



favorite castles, "Lawyers of Caernarvon, Merchants of Beaumaris, 
Gentlemen of Conway." 

One day during my stay in this town I hired a craft and asked 
the skipper to sail me out into Conway Bay that I might better see 
the sunset blazing on the walls of the castle. I had noted earlier 
that the singularly rough surface of the masonry constituted a 
natural rock garden. What I saw growing there brought to mind the 
story of a sybaritic Roman governor, one Caius Valerius, who had 
built a villa at a spot where the fishing quarter of Conway now 
stands. From Rome he had brought sacks of seeds from his favorite 
plants, one of which was a hardy rock variety with crimson, or some- 
times imperial purple plume-like heads, which himself had named 
valerian. This plant has wind-sown its seeds in riotous profusion 
all over North Wales, to compete in splendor with the rhododen- 
dron. As I regarded the mass of Conway Castle from the sea a 
light wind sprang up. The walls took on a look of great festivity, 
as if bailey, keep, and towers were hung with mille fleurs tapestry, 
sweeping in long folds molded in proportions out of fable crimson, 
purple, bronze, and gold, molten in the lowering sun. 

The River Conway has for ages been celebrated for its mussel- 
pearl fisheries. Pliny informs us that Julius Caesar dedicated to 
Venus Genetrix in her temple at Rome a breastplate set sumptu- 
ously with British pearls from Welsh waters. Furthermore, Suetonius 
alleges that it was for the acquisition of these pinkish pearls that 
Caesar invaded the Island of Britain. Though the Conway mussel 
industry is one of the most important in the country, the pearl take 
has dwindled in volume and the specimens are of poor quality. How 
famous these pearls once were may be sensed from Spencer in his 
Faerie Queene. 

Conway, which out of his streame doth send 
Plenty of pearles to decke his dames withall. 

The Old Quay, lined with tall step-gabled houses, all roofed and 
some entirely sheathed in iridescent blue slate pantiles, forms a 
part of the extraordinarily well preserved walls for which, perhaps, 
more than its arrogantly looming castle, Conway is famous. 

A tiny two-story dwelling on the quayside is said to be the smallest 
"measurement" house in Great Britain: frontage 72 inches, 100 
inches deep, and height 122 inches. The last tenant was a fisherman 

282 



who furnished it in spidery Victorian furniture and was reduced to a 
perpetual stoop, for he was well over six feet in height. 

There are many fine houses in Conway's narrow cobbled streets. 
The oldest, called Aberconwy, was built of flint, slate, and black 
oak in 1360, at the corner of Castle and High Streets. Early Tudor 
and Elizabethan periods prevail. Far the most imposing is a large 
rambling house, Plas Mawr, built in Crown Lane in 1585 by 
Robert Wynne, one of the famous Wynnes of Gwydir, Despite 
the assaults of time, sufficient dignity clings to the venerable 
walls to remind one of the spacious days when this dwelling was 
known to the four extremities of Britain, and it well merited its 
designation by Queen Elizabeth, "Wynne's Great Mansion of slated 
stone." 

In the Wynne Room, or "family gathering place," there is a curi- 
ous pennant-shaped device displayed on one wall, a "Bear with 
Ragged Staff," badge of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. A written 
chronicle calls this "a piece of flattery paid to the Earl by the founder 
of the house." 

The Great Kitchen is uncommonly large compared with the dimen- 
sions of standard Elizabethan kitchens, usually mightily overscaled. 
The fireplace arch reaches a ten-foot span. In an alcove called the 
"little kitchen" hangs an object of particular interest, a large wooden 
cage constructed from oak lattices attached by chains to the ceiling. It 
is an old bread or bakestone safe. I have seen similar safes still in 
use in remote farms among the Welsh hills. 

At Caernarvon I saw the ceremonial gold tippet or cape-like collar 
that was recently discovered in a mound of earth at a fort near Mold 
in North Wales. It is the largest and most splendid piece of pre- 
historic goldwork yet found in Europe. A relic of the Bronze Age, 
the collar was found covering the shoulders of the skeleton of a man 
who had been buried in princely state, every bone intact and in 
place. The full splendor of this thin sheet of hammered and pierced 
gold, once set about the neck line with huge, octagonal-cut amber 
beads, is complemented by exquisite workmanship. The "tippet," 
as it is called by archaeologists, follows the shoulder line and extends 
nearly to the waist in a flexible golden sheath. 

I stopped the night at Forth Dinlleyn, a "hidden" fishing port, a 
huddle of ancient stone, slate, and whitewash houses built in a 
double "street" formation following the deep curve of the beach. 
Fishing boats painted in dark red, blue, or green, with white water- 



lines, are pulled up onto the beach. Many of them are lived in the 
year around, whether afloat or tide-deserted. I watched a group of 
boys start out in coracles, oval craft fashioned from ash-wood laths 
and willow plaiting, the frame waterproofed with a mixture of pitch, 
resin, and tar. The Achean Greeks used much the same means for 
fishing in deep rivers. 

The town of Caernarvon, one of the great historic centers of 
Wales, has lost the better part of its once machiolated walls. But the 
castle, built by Edward I in 1283, largely upon and from stones of 
Roman fortifications, is one of the largest and most beautifully pro- 
portioned in Christendom, its battlements rising like a forest of 
giant sequoia trees, rose-red and gold, to reflect to the last carved 
eagle corbel on its turrets in the silent lagoons of the River Seiont. 

The King's Gate is the entrance to the vast expanse of military 
drill fields, the grass now cropped by sheep. About these fields the 
castle proper encircles in magnitude of masonry, to leave the be- 
holder, when standing in the center of the quadrangle, remembering 
"the beauty of castles is the beauty of stone." 

The Eagle Tower, built to accommodate the Prince and his suite 
whenever he might choose to reside in his principality of Wales, is 
the foremost in scale and beauty of all the towers. The main stair- 
way circles around a stone cone to the fopmost turret where battle- 
ments and turrets alike were decorated by stone-helmeted figures and 
vigorously carved eagles posed alternately as if at wing-folded rest, 
or about to spread wings in flight. A few of these figures, much 
scored by the wild weather of this coast, are still recognizable. 

The next most impressive feature is Queen's Tower, linked to 
the Eagle Tower by a length of curtain wall with walks at two levels. 
It was on one of these terraces that Eleanor of Castile had her walled 
garden and "worked her lilies and roses against the storm." It was 
in the tour de la banniere or Banner Tower that she and her ladies 
stitched the red velvet arras in gold and silver, bossed (padded with 
wool), and trucked (adorned) the pennants which for centuries hung 
on the walls of the chamber now in Cardiff Museum. 

It was at his Castle of Caernarvon, on a fair but windy day in 
May, that Edward I had himself attired regally in crimson and gold, 
with a long cloak of amaranth-blue to accent his stature. Since youth 
he had been called Longshanks, or Red Legs, for his great height 
and long limbs. Being vastly proud of them, the King usually clothed 
his legs in crimson hose. He stepped out onto the balcony of King's 

284 



Tower and presented to a great throng of people grouped in the 
stone-paved square below, and in essence, to all folk in the breadth 
of Wales, his new-born son lying swathed in a dragon-emblazoned 
banner on a warrior's shield. His voice roaring out above the screech- 
ing of the sea wind, he proclaimed royally: "I give to you my son, 
the Prince of Wales, who does not speak one word of English." This 
Prince, even when he had ascended the throne as Edward II, was 
generally called, as posterity accepts him, Edward of Caernarvon. 



285 



Chapter 15 



THE COASTLINE OF WALES AND 

NORTHERN IRELAND DEEPLY 

CARVED BY THE IRISH SEA 



DURING a day of concentrated violence by wind and weather 
I drove across Telford's Menai Bridge beautifully articu- 
lated in steel and silvery-stone masonry arching the indigo 
shadows of deep and silent Menai Straits to the tree-embowered Isle 
of Anglesey. All about was wind-blown mist. 

I drove through the village of Beaumaris, where tall houses are 
"trimmed" with delicate ironwork grills, balconies, and canopies 
over windows in the manner of "retreats and bijou domiciles" in 
Regency Brighton. 

Beaumaris Castle was the last of the seven fortresses in Wales 
built or restored by Edward I to dominate and restrain the Welsh 
after the defeat and death of the hero princes, Llewelyn, in 1282, 
and David, the following year. They were the last of the pure Welsh 
royal line to rule in North Wales. The site chosen is a grassy plain, 
a marshland that had in ancient days been a heronry and a "netting 
weir" to trap wild fowl for food. Today flocks of wild swans honk 
over the sea from the Irish loughs, gray lag-geese and succulent red- 
breasted duck from the Scottish Isles of Arran and Kintyre. 

As I stood on the Guard's Tower, I felt that it was no wonder 
that Beaumaris Castle draws such large crowds of visitors, especially 
during the spring season. In most parts of Wales the spring flowering 
is varicolored rhododendron, wild meadow blossoms, and laburnum. 
The marshes, spread wide on all sides of the castle, are brilliant with 
rich pink and pale yellow marshmallow and myriad azure, pale 
violet, and deep purple irises. 

s>86 



Edward I and his descendants for as long as the Norman line 
prevailed were fond of Beaumaris, which was frequently used more 
as a hunting lodge than an outpost for defense. "A barge of silver, 
this castle is. No towering battlements to cast dark shadows on my 
bower, and always the lilies and the roses that seem to float upon 
water outside my window/' So wrote Edward's Queen Eleanor in 
her diary pertaining to small matters of the daily round, the "Booke 
of Dayes," which was found after her death hidden under a stone 
corbel in her private chapel at Conway Castle. There is one notation 
that attests to the housewifely interest taken by the Spanish queen 
in her residences, wherever situated. "The moats need to be deep- 
ened and the lyttle housses (garderobes or latrines) cleaned and 
mayde goode." 

Beaumaris is built relatively low to the ground. Many believe that 
Edward did this for strategic reasons. A low-lying castle, as against 
one with soaring battlemented towers, would be more effective in 
taking an enemy by surprise, especially when the attackers ap- 
proached through the light mists and frequently heavy fogs of this 
coast. 

There are many interesting and noteworthy features to the castle. 
The northern gatehouse is beautifully ornamented in vigorously 
carved stone armorial designs. A wooden bridge now spans the moat 
where the "iron, bronze, and oaken timber" drawbridge once creaked 
up and down on an extraordinary mechanism that one may still see. 
I find visitors are greatly interested in the original dock. Ships came 
right up to the drawbridge from the sea to unload provisions on 
which the castle could maintain itself during time of siege. A report 
dated 1296, laboriously scrawled on mildewed parchment, states that 
a fully-laden vessel of forty tons had sailed at high tide up to the 
principal gate of Beaumaris. I saw an iron ring for tying up a 
boat. Carved in concentric circles so often seen in Gaelic metal 
design, it remains fixed in the stone wall of the bastion of South 
Gunner's Walk. 

By far the most handsome room in the castle is the Queen's 
Chapel, which occupies the first floor of the chapel tower. Flanking 
the high, arched doorway leading from the King's Great Hall are two 
small retiring rooms placed high up in the wall, reached by narrow, 
winding, stone stairs. From here persons could take part in the 
services without being observed. Six tall, slender lancet windows, the 
bolection stone architraves carved in honeysuckle vine and pine 

287 



cones, light the chapel. Even today where all is gaunt walls, lonely 
re-echoing solitude, and memories of great days long fled, the path 
of light from these windows embroiders dun stone into a golden 
semblance of warmth. 

Beaumaris Castle is not entirely given over to memories and soli- 
tude. The present day is brought sharply into focus by tennis courts 
laid out in the grassed quadrangle which was once a jousting field. 
These courts are greatly frequented by the townspeople. I saw young 
boys and girls, in the classic white of tennis dress the world over, play- 
ing doubles. The Olde Bull's Head is an ancient coaching inn that 
still retains an air of being painted in bold stripes of black and 
white on a theater backdrop. The Tudor oak timbering is arranged 
as a series of rising gables on a four-story front of white plaster. 
Architecturally this is unique and the cuisine is memorably good. 
There are a number of large country houses on the Isle of 
Anglesey; some are seen distantly, standing in parks of Anglesey 
oaks, mountain ash, and beech trees, but these are not open to view. 
The eighteenth-century "great house" of Plis Newydd (New Place), 
the seat of the Marquess of Anglesey, may be seen. It is a long, 
three-story building, everywhere slender and elegant in elevation, 
identified as the "Gothick" taste of architect James Wyatt. The 
exterior of the house is a confusion of intricate traceries in stone 
heavily hung with vines. With the sea wind riffling ivy and trumpet 
tendrils, the effect of agitation reminded me of ruffles and furbelows 
on the court dress of a lady in one of Sheridan's witty comedies 
where none of the characters is of quiet mind. 

One room in Plas Newydd is worth a long journey to see. This 
is the fifty-foot-long dining room where one wall faces a romantic 
panorama of seascape and mountain. From this point Menai Strait 
seems to flow at the foot of magnificent Snowdonia, although actually 
the snow-capped range is many miles away. Five tall windows hung 
in rose and gold damask pierce the wall so that the principal panel 
painted on the opposite side by the late Rex Whistler in his most 
eloquent style glows in luminous light by day and becomes mellowed 
and refreshed, as antique Chinese ivory carvings will do, at night in 
the light of many candles. This mural decoration is a triumph of 
imagination translated by the brushing in of luminous pigment. 
Perhaps Rex Whistler loved Italy "with extravagance and subtlety," 
which was how George Gordon, Lord Byron described his passion 
for this country. The subject of Whistler's decoration is an imag- 

288 



inary world of capitals, seaports, and fabulous mountains, in essence 
all that the glorious baroque cities of Italy evoke in the mind of 
a devotee subtle, surely, and wondrously extravagant in sweep. 

Perhaps more postal cards are purchased showing the railway sta- 
tion at Llanfair, a village near Plas Newydd, by incredulous visitors 
than cards of all other places of interest in Wales. A long sign is 
placed on the picket fence which separates the village High Street 
from the station platform: LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGO- 
GERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSLIOGOGOGOCH. This 
improbable word is the name of the village, which, translated from 
"old Welsh" into English, advises you that in the fields close by stands 
"St. Mary's Church, in a hollow of white hazel, close to a rapid whirl- 
pool and St. Tysilio's Church, and near a red cave." 

Bangor, at the southern extremity of the famous Marine Drive 
from Great Orme, is a dispersal point for visitors bound for Red 
Wharf Bay, Benllech, and the "golden sands and silver sails" of 
Moelfre. 

The way into Merionethshire is an ancient Roman military road. 
It lies up hill to grand vistas, down dale into shadowed ravines where 
thrive a preponderance of giant ferns and rhododendron thickets, 
and thence up again to climb heights from which to view the tower- 
ing bastions of Snowdon Range. At one point where the road crossed 
an upland copse of mountain ash, a herd of perhaps thirty red deer 
crossed the road a few yards in front of me. A superbly antlered stag 
was arrogantly leading his harem of does and faun progeny. The 
forest monarch stood almost in the center of the road, head up, 
eying me coldly, bob-tail flicking irritably, manifestly concerned 
until the does and fauns had skittered nervously into the thicket on 
the far side. After I had driven on and was about to curve a bend 
in the road, I looked back. There at the grassy fringe stood the stag, 
head up, one hoof raised, the perfect stance of the bronze stags cast 
identically, by the hundreds, to dress the clipped green lawns spread 
about Victorian chateaux and cottages ornes. 

And then I came down into the strange world of Bethesda, the 
largest slate quarry in existence. No longer the heavy green of oaks 
and mountain ash, no longer flowers and ferns, but here was only 
the hard blue slate, a land of quarries to supply pantiles to three 
quarters of the world. Whole villages are set down among a very 
range of slate-heap mountains, slate-walled, slate-roofed houses, de- 
void of the slightest hint of ornament, all marshalled in orderly 

289 



rows. Everywhere is blue the color of distant horizons seen across 
the reaches of some flat prairie. A "Sunday silence" prevailed, al- 
though the day was a bright and shining Wednesday. Men and 
women of Bethesda were at work in the quarries and at the "works** 
for preparing the blue shale for world-wide markets. Children were 
in school. I saw no color other than blue. Then, just as I was leaving 
the village, the adamant grimness of atmosphere was lightened by 
voices of children raised in patriotic song, somewhere behind the 
blue walls of a school. As the treble voices died away, a ray of sun 
picked out two tall stalks of dispirited pink hollyhocks in a dooryard, 
and a woman in a butter-yellow raglan coat grazed a cow on the 
only grass I saw in all Bethesda. 

To musically minded communities in many lands, particularly 
glee clubs and choral societies, the march "Men of Harlech" is 
a rousing song of pride and courage with which to spike with drama 
their performances. I came out of a mountain pass to behold the 
great sweep of Snowdon Range, Cardigan Bay, and the bold Irish 
Sea, the scene dominated by Harlech Castle rising on its eminence 
above a tree-embowered village. As I sat contemplating this medieval 
picture, the golden-gray stone battlements and the towers, more 
slender than I have seen in other castles built by Edward Plantagenet, 
seemed almost to quiver with life in the summer noonday heat. 
There is a distinctly winged appearance to Harlech for all its solid- 
ity, anchored these centuries to deeply riven stone. The dungeons, 
cut into living rock, circuitously, far below the great quadrangle, 
were the most fearsome in all of Edward's castles in Wales. It is now 
a torturous task to visit these oubliettes and terraced cells, but one 
well worth the attempt, if for no other reason than to sense transi- 
tion as our own times recede, and to feel one's self part of the clank 
and clamor of early medieval days. It is one thing to be immured 
in a dungeon with no hope of escape, and another to be well con- 
ducted through this ancient labyrinth, to trace the writings carved 
or scratched into ancient stones by some 'great lord or warrior whom 
perhaps Shakespeare dramatized, knowing all the while that you 
will soon be above ground breathing fresh air, ready to sit down 
to a good meal at the Castle Hotel set conveniently opposite the 
drawbridge entrance to Harlech Castle. 

Harlech has a romantic history seething with sound and fury. It 
was built by engineers of Edward I on the site of Roman subter- 
ranean prisons and the ruins of an abbey going back to the days of 

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Bran the Blessed, credited with having introduced Christianity into 
Britain. In later days it was the scene of some of the most stubborn 
sieges in Welsh history. Harlech has never lost its identity. Historical 
romances, an opera, Bronwen of Wales, poems by many of the 
finest Welsh poets, and a pageant tracing the principal episodes in 
its history have immortalized Harlech Castle. 

The high walls of the outer bailey are pierced by three tall, 
pointed arches. Through these one walks down long flights of steps 
onto a grassy terrace all of thirty feet wide, which surrounds the 
castle on three sides. Because of its position with ramps of living 
rock rising five hundred feet from meadows stretching away to the 
shores of Cardigan Bay, the castle needed a protecting moat on only 
one side, that which fronts the town of Harlech. From the terrace 
I looked down and across farm lands fat with grain and various fruits 
of the earth. As far as I could see lay fishing villages and widely 
admired seaside resorts. 

Festinog is a noted beauty spot farther inland. Dinas Mawddwy 
is a flower-adorned village of great historical interestthe "Town of 
Princesses/' it has been sung by poets. Its women, anciently renowned 
for their beauty, were greatly sought as wives for princes of the Royal 
House of Wales. There is a ghostly tale concerning the Green Lady, 
a sort of Welsh Ondine, who is said to haunt a gaunt, stone tower 
at Cader Idris between Dolgelley and Dinas Mawddwy. 

Meri ap Cydnr always went clothed in green, the limpid green of 
falling water. One day an armored princeling, Penvro kin of Owain 
of Glyndyfrdwy, pursued Meri until she took refuge in a darkly 
shadowed glen. A bottomless pool offered coolness to the maiden 
after her swift escape through the hot, steamy woods. But as Meri 
floated on the water, exhaustion overcame her and she sank into the 
stygian depths of the pool never to be seen alive again. But her 
green-clad ghost has, down the centuries, often been seen by charcoal 
burners and travelers in the vicinity. The apparition is always seen 
running swiftly, face distorted in terror, her gown torn to shreds by 
brambles. The old ones tell of her as "Meri of the Fright/' 

John Bowdin, an English writer and engineer who worked in 
Ireland and Wales, said the Welsh are composed of three parts 
"racial poetry, a dour outlook on life, and a passion for music never 
to be subdued." Everywhere I went in Wales I heard music. I would 
see groups of shawled women with immense gray eyes, and men, 
raven black of hair, their blue eyes paled in contrast to the dark blue 



shadows of roughly shaven chins, standing on stone bridges or at a 
lonely crossroads, and I would hear songs low in cadence, haunting 
in melody, that might have originated among the Berber camel 
herders at the Sahara edge of the Atlas Mountains, drifting across 
the night breeze. "Companion music," this is called. Sometimes this 
would occur in the black of night or perhaps in the brilliance of a 
high drifting moon. 

Groups of farmers, cottagers, coal miners, slate workers drawn as 
much by loneliness as by love of choral music visit a given spot and 
tell the night of their hopes and fears. This is the old hardship, the 
telling of history and stories of the daily round in song, that is so 
indicative of the Gaelic soul. 

I heard Welsh history sung at a festival held in Carrog in the 
Valley of the Dee. On a gently sloping Mount of Carrog, where 
Owain Glyn Dwr, the national hero of Wales, lived in a stone house, 
I heard for the first time an orchestra composed entirely of violins 
of every description, from miniature violina to bass-viol, and the 
sweet-toned wind music of a Welsh harp in all varieties from knee- 
harp to one of pear-wood, gilded, and so large it took two stalwart 
youth to hold it upright while an old minstrel played upon its golden 
strings. 

I once attended the Royal National Eisteddfod at Ystradgynlais. 
The ceremony of presentation of prizes to winners is a fragment of 
ancient Welsh history come alive "Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle 
of Britain" with its Archdruid in flowing robes of sky blue and 
white under whose auspices the winning poets are "Crowned" and 
"Chaired." This ritual festival is always held the first week in August. 

Aberystwyth trades in Welsh history. The ancient Roman port 
holds its head high and proud, for its chief treasure is the National 
Library of Wales, an imposing building of white stone and marble 
columns supporting Greek porticos set on an eminence, a kind of 
rocky dais, commanding miles of wooded hills and fertile farm land. 
"A literary Acropolis," Lloyd George called the building where most 
of the nation's literary treasures are stored. 

I have never seen a national flag more beautifully displayed than 
on the day I visited the library to search out some data concerning 
Owain Glyn Dwr. Against an empyrean of cloudless robin's egg blue, 
the flag of Wales stood straight out on the wind. The horizontal 
stripes, one grass-green, the other white, were gripped, it would 



seem, in the claws of a rampant vermilion dragon emblazoning the 
field the Dragon of Wales. 

The "old red town of Cardigan" lies at the extreme southern end 
of Cardigan Bay, "where the winds blow like crucifixion, and we 
all wear a toughened wool jacket for scarce warmth," wrote Conrad, 
putting words into the mouth of a Welsh sailor, who was speaking of 
the crocheted wool jacket, the Cardigan. In Roman days this was 
a busy shipbuilding port. Long strings of barges loaded with coal 
ripped from the earth in Cyclopean chunks by Roman engineers, who 
went about mining coal as if building a fortress, were all shipped to 
Rome from here. A hoary old stone bridge of seven beautifully pro- 
portioned arches leads one to the ramp where once stood "Old 
Husband," a twelfth-century castle. All that remains today are por- 
tions of the keep which have been incorporated into a private house. 

Inland, Cardiganshire becomes a miracle of silent, primeval, wood- 
land beauty. Devil's Bridge is actually three old, wooden bridges 
built by Welsh chieftains to span, one above the other, ravines, cas- 
cading waterfalls, and gorges embroidered in crosshatching of giant 
fern fronds. Close by are the remains of the Abbey of Strata Florida, 
an ancient monastery built on Druid sacrificial altars. Tregaron seen 
from below appears cloud-borne, hanging far out into space like the 
Andalusian village of Quenca. 

Newcastle Emlyn is a popular center for walking trips through the 
mountains and for fishing parties. The derelict old castle shadows 
the Cawder Castle Hotel where accommodations are of the best. 
It was here I ate for the first time a famous Welsh dish, pork chops, 
well browned, seasoned with sliced onions, carrots, corn-from-the- 
cob, and herbs. This mixture is baked in sour cream. 

Cenarth and Llechryd are twin villages typically Welsh, being 
"deep hidden." A waterfall that takes a tremendous leap out into the 
air, to scatter a mist of diamonds onto the ferns below, separates the 
villages. The stream from this waterfall becomes a crowded salmon 
leap. 

South of Cardigan, where the Teifi River meets the sea, the road 
runs over the gently undulating Prescelly Mountains. Here I beheld 
the historic old Borough of Haverfordwest, situated like some 
medieval fortress on a craggy, deeply wooded hill, dominated by 
two lichened stone churches and the ruins of a castle that was built 
from purple and red clay boulders. At sunset this castle keep and the 
one remaining tower burn in hot color as if devoured by flames. 



To me the coast of Pembrokeshire is the grandest in all Wales. 
The intricate indentation of this undulant coastline is pure rococo 
in line. St. Dogmael's Strand is a sheltered haven of silver sand, a 
haunt for bathing and picnic parties the year round. Other spots 
worth a visit are Moylgrove, Nevern, Dinas Head called The Old 
Sea Woman for its natural formation of a crudely sculptured head 
with hooked nose and chin and historic Solva where ships were 
built of fire-toughened oak timbers for the invasion of Ireland in 
1170 by Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (known as 
Strongbow). 

Pembroke Castle rides its jutting promontory above Pembroke 
River where it joins rampageous Monkton Pill. Seen from the 
opposite river bank, looking towards the point of the promontory, 
the castle presents an awe-inspiring sight with its imposing pile of 
battlements shining like a forest of spears against the sky. There 
are many unusual features at Pembroke Castle. Gilbert de Clare 
asked itinerant painters to be his guests. And sometimes as many 
as twenty artists of nearly as many nationalities were smearing paint, 
crudely or delicately, on the walls of his "great chamber/' chapels, 
suites or retiring rooms, and library, the first, as such, in Wales. 
Pembroke was the first Norman Castle to take the place of the 
ancient Welsh strongholds of timber and wattle-and-daub clay roofed 
in slate which were called royal halls. Beneath the great hall there 
is an immense circular cave known as Wogan Cavern, cut out of 
solid rock. It was reached from the hall by a winding stair and is 
believed, in the light of old documents, to have been used as an 
escape route to the river. Even here the damp, dripping walls retain 
in dry crannies traces of vividly painted frescoes. 

Seat of the oldest known Welsh kings is Pembroke Castle, where 
Nesta, Princess of Wales, sometime mistress of Henry II of England, 
received a golden shield, so highly polished that she could "braid 
her chestnut hair by reflection in its brightness." Her husband, 
Gerald of Windsor, had caused to be carved on the shield rim what 
every man who saw Princess Nesta remarked"The Most Beautiful 
Woman in the World." 

The Cathedral See of St David's is said to be the oldest in Britain. 
There was a cathedral on the site of the present church long before 
Canterbury was built. In medieval times three pilgrimages to St. 
David's ranked equal to two to Rome and one to Jerusalem. The 
edifice is a tall, narrow building mounting a massive square tower 

296 



of fortress sort, with a long nave. Veins of quartz in the stones from 
which this religious monolith is constructed cause it to perform 
on moonlight nights the duty of lighthouse, shimmering in splendor 
as a warning beacon to mariners far out at sea. There is a "miracu- 
lous" stone near the high altar that was discovered by chance when 
a workman, who was crippled, rubbed its rough surface to remove 
mortar from his hands. His shriveled arm became whole and strong. 
To rub the stone, in the manner of an ecclesiastical Aladdin's lamp, 
is said to perform wonders for afflicted persons. 

Radnorshire is the "forgotten" county of Wales. Seldom does 
one hear it mentioned in or out of the country or find it described 
in guide books. It has an individuality of its own. The Radnor type 
of farmhouse is a delight. Built of silvery-blue stone, there are often 
to be found double galleries called "spinning marts" where the red- 
cloaked, steeple-hatted women meet to spin, weave, and discuss the 
gossip of the neighborhood. 

There is a handsome old abbey, Cwm-hir, that is the hub for five 
abbey farms where the largest cabbages (which are stewed whole in 
richly herb-flavored beef stock served with boiled beef) are grown 
in broad fields surrounding the edifice. 

At the ancient town of Kidwelly in Carmarthenshire, the almost 
black stone houses fronting Carmarthen Bay reflect their entire 
length in the dark waters. It was difficult to determine where living 
rock left off and man-laid stones began. 

At Kidwelly Castle I was fortunate to meet a curator of St. Fagan's 
Castle near Cardiff, the only Folk Museum as such in Great Britain. 
The collection is designed to portray Wales through the ages. All 
pertaining to the life of prince or peasant is housed amidst a garden 
laid out over one hundred acres. 

The coast of Carmarthenshire turns eastward along the north 
shore of the Bristol Channel. The pleasant village of Saundersfoot 
flaunts houses painted bright red or blue, with black shale roofs. 
Ancient communities are Laugharne and Llanstephan, each village 
crouching under the arrogant thrust of its ancient castle mount. The 
tree-shaded walks and beautifully soft sand of the beaches attract 
more and more visitors each year. Carmarthen still clings to the 
prophecy made by Merlin, the Arthurian wizard, that when a certain 
oak tree of fantastically immense proportions "tumbled down, then 
would fall Carmarthen town." I scarcely need say that the stump 
of this riven oak is being carefully preserved behind iron bars. 

298 



Between Carmarthenshire and the watersheds of the Rivers Usk, 
Wye, and Severn lies the heavily industrialized area of Middle 
Wales. Nature has carefully hidden away such lovely old towns as 
Amanford. From this spot I beheld a masterpiece of nature, the 
Brecon Beacons, the highest mountain massif in the south. 

Brecknockshire has the Black Mountains. Villages in the region 
and some farmhouses are called "Black Diamonds" for the reason 
that the stones from which these are built resemble far more great 
chunks of anthracite coal than quarried stone. 

Forest Fawr is a retreat of primeval silence. Charcoal burners, they 
with metallic blue skin, as this gentry has ever shown wherever their 
trade is practiced, wander for recreation in bands in outlying villages 
singing their lungs out day and night. 

The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff is the focal point in a 
city of ancient culture where spacious, even elegant living marches 
in close company with waterfront slums. Every condition of society 
seems to have gravitated to Cardiff rich coal magnates, shipping 
tycoons, scholars, artisans. There is a Muslim population in Cardiff 
larger than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Indeed, followers 
of the Prophet in the city run an Arab newspaper and a Muslim 
school for teaching children when hardly out of swaddling clothes 
to learn in the sing-song fashion of Fez or Rabat every word of the 
Koran. Every man attends the largest and most impressive Mosque 
in Britain. The Cardiff Pool runs the gamut of sights and incident 
from egg-shaped coracles to a sort of sampan or Chinese junk, 
garishly painted in crimson, green, and yellow dragons and ferocious 
devils to ward off the evil eye. Whole Lascar families, sometimes 
numbering twenty souls, live on these craft. 

Silver, gold, and ivory marts flourish. In the beautiful public gar- 
dens there are teahouses called Bengal Lancers, Poona Compound, 
Rani Devi. I walked down a Pukka Sahib Street to buy sugared 
kumquats and ginger. A British-Welsh-Arab-Hindu city on the wide 
mouth of the River Severn, Cardiff is full of color and surprises. 

On my last day in Wales I drove out to the immense Roman amphi- 
theater at Caerleon (ancient Isca). Surely this sweeping arc of tier 
upon tier of stone seats and the remarkably well-preserved sculptured 
statues of athletes and actors who once performed here, is one of 
the great sights of Britain. Wales is a treasure-trove of ancient monu- 
ments, from Stone Age relics to Roman and Druidical remains, 
altars for human sacrifice and burial cromlechs. 



Tintern Abbey on the Wye has been described as "the perfect 
ruin in the perfect setting." Keats said of it, "however glorious words 
may be, there are none to tell you of Tintern." Caerphilly is, with 
the exception of Windsor, the largest castle in the British Isles and it 
has the very personal appeal of a leaning tower at an angle greater 
than that of Pisa, and an indoor bathing pool hollowed from foun- 
dation rock originally intended for use of inhabitants of the castle 
in time of siege. 

I left the Grand Hotel in Cardiff early on a June morning of 
conspicuous heat and brightness to drive north to Holyhead, "the 
ancient fishing port of the Druids," where I intended to embark 
for Northern Ireland. As I stood upon the deck of Star of Erin, 
Wales receded in a violet heat haze. 

It is the accepted thing when sailing from Britain to Northern 
Ireland to land at Belfast, which to me has always seemed a cold city, 
with a curious air of dankness that has nothing to do with the chancy 
Irish weather. The monotonous streets of warehouses, of smoke- 
blackened stone and brick seem endless. Were it not for the green- 
ness of its parks and surrounding wooded hills, it would, in truth, 
be what the South Irish call it, the Dark City. 

And again it is eminently commercial, but possibly it is in that 
quarter that lies its appeal to many visitors. The linen industry has 
been elevated to the same rarified position in Belfast that the weaving 
of silk prayer rugs attains in Isfahan. 

Belfast City Hall, designed by Sir Brumwell Thomas, is a gleaming 
white Palladian building. The view of lordly Donegall Street and 
the surrounding hills, heathered, wooded, tilled, is singularly 
beautiful, particularly on a crackling clear day when the sea turns 
to an almost Aegean purple blue. The little white-walled, golden, or 
russet-brown thatched farmhouses are placed like white sea birds 
drowsing on nests of wheat or greenery, all the way along the river 
where it debouches into the sea. 

Whether or not the intellectual activities of Belfast could support 
its claim in the eighteenth century as "the Northern Athens," it has, 
down the years, admirably earned that title. Its university, art gallery, 
College of Technology, theaters, and music festivals are renowned. 
Belfast offers quiet harbor for the pursuits of artists, dramatists, 
authors, architects, and scholars from disparate lands. All this con- 
tributes indisputable evidence of its eminence. 

It is interesting that the linen industry got its impetus from the 

300 



American Civil War of the 'Go's. Belfast is ringed with parks such 
as Hazelwood, Botanical Gardens, and Riverside Boulevard beside 
the Lagan where nature is singularly opulent, providing sweeping 
views over rolling downland, mountain, and sea. 

A great number of the public buildings are fashioned from gray, 
unpolished granite quarried in the remote fastness of Slieve Donard 
in the Mourne Mountains. 

There are many hotels: Royal Avenue, the "ould monster ave a 
grand place to sleep an' sup," as a bewhiskered cabby driving a 
black "growler" will inform you, as he maneuvers for your custom at 
the docks or the railway station; The Midland, a bustling, "go-ahead" 
sort of place; and the quiet, fashionable Belgravia, all red plush, 
potted palms, renowned for a menu of staggering plentitude, 

The little village of Bushmills is a neatly tied-in place where 
whitened shells mark every cottage path and villa entrance drive; 
the village has a world-famous name for distilling "Old Bushmills" 
whiskythe prima ultima for connoisseurs of the brew. Bushmills is 
also famed, at least locally, for its excellent salmon and trout fishing. 

Near Bushmills is a quiet seaside village, Portballintrae, with a 
great, curving, silver-sand beach that is a paradise for those who do 
not like too strenuous sea bathing. 

Halfway between the Devil's Causeway and Portrush, greatly 
admired for its fine golf links and bottomless Blue Pool of odd but 
refreshing naturally perfumed water, looms an ancient fortress. 
Raised on a towering eminence of kelp-stained serrated rock above 
the sea is Dunluce Castle, one of Ireland's most impressive ruins. Far 
back in the mists of antiquity, it was built by the chief of Tribe 
McQuillan with stones huge as boulders from some sierra. Later 
Dunluce was linked with the dread fortunes of MacDonnell, first 
Marquess of Antrim, who brought here his unwilling bride, widow 
of the "beautiful, god-like pattern of nobility," the Duke of Bucking- 
ham. Lady Antrim, unable to endure the bestiality of her husband, 
leapt into the sea from the Tower of Wrath. 

I was told of a great banquet that was prepared at Dunluce to 
entertain Anne of Austria. The table, set for over one hundred 
guests, was laid in a great circular tower thrusting from the highest 
point above the needle-sharp rocks of Benbane Churne (a whirlpool). 
A storm of demented winds was in full force as the guests sat down 
to table. Without warning, that portion occupied by the tower where 
the banquet was held collapsed into the sea, carrying with it to their 

301 



deaths half a hundred of the guests and servants. A tinker, man of the 
roads, who had climbed the rock wall to gape at the banqueting 
crowd leapt from the window sill into the room and saved Anne of 
Austria's life. Ever since that day this aperture in the masonry, still 
intact, has been called "Window of the Tinker's Lepp." 

Among Irish castles I have long been partial to Dunluce. I stood 
on the road across the narrow bay that indents the coast at this point. 
Against a vivid sunset, purple, magenta, and crimson clouds, rimmed 
in gold of the sun's last rays, massed against the sky of acid yellow. 
In silhouette Dunluce takes on a strangely eastern look, a sky line 
like the kasbah of a Berber sheik in the fastness of High Atlas, flanked 
by truly Gaelic fortress towers. It seemed a pagan cenotaph to the 
ancient dead, where time stands still. 




I stopped the night at Port-na-Spania in a tiny cotteen built so 
close to the sea that light spray, lifted by an off-water breeze, drifted 
In through the window of the loft to my bed, a hand-woven linen 
mattress filled with aromatic dried kelp, the fine-tendril kind which 
the fishermen call "mermaid's hair." In the morning I was regaled 
with a freshly caught, immediately broiled sea-bass, oat bannocks, and 

302 



"lashings" of strong red tea in a white stone pot "as big as the 
world and twice as bountiful," as the kindly fisherwife"said, smiling 
and pouring me a bowl of the strong brew. 

On the beach of this cove was wrecked the Gerona, one of those 
gigantic gilded oak and teakwood galleys of the Armada carrying 
fifty guns and driven by banked oars. Today, in a kind of museum 
in the village, one may see fragments of magnificent carvings from 
the ship, gilded and richly painted. There is furniture, silk banners 
painted with the Virgin and Child, starry-crowned, and a rather 
poignant relic, a tiny cradle showing signs that at some time it had 
been ornamented by a seed-pearl cross fastened to the headboard. 

Visitors from all lands love Ballymena in County Antrim. Geo- 
graphically "The City of Seven Towers" is the center of the county 
shut off by undulating hills "where no breath ave the sea clears our 
throats, arragh [alas]," the workers in the hot flax fields mourn. The 
families Adair and Dickey, linen manufacturers, brought great 
prosperity to the region in the eighteenth century. There are many 
monuments to members of both families in buildings, fine country 
demesnes, and there is the immortal song: "Handsome Robin, Oh, 
handsome Robin Adair." 

At every turn in County Antrim the eye meets ancient Gaelic 
stone crosses, many magnificently carved in script, fluidly drawn 
saints, or such religious beasts and birds as the paschal lamb and dove. 
These mossy lichened crosses are among Ireland's chief treasures of 
prehistory. 

Ulster, more commonly known as Northern Ireland, is composed 
of six counties Fermanagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim, Down, 
and "Little Armagh," the smallest county on the entire island. There 
are two natural curiosities to this "clutch of acres." One is the fact 
that located within the circle of five of these counties, as the hub of 
a cartwheel, is the beautifully wooded Lough of Neagiu All are 
watered at some point by the flashing blue lough. The second curi- 
osity concerns Fermanagh which is split in twain by the narrow Lough 
of Erne. "It will be as long a day as I'd journey around the waters of 
Erne," is an old saying in Fermanagh. 

I met an old country woman one day who was staring across the 
lough. She said, "I do be livin' on the one side ave of the lough 
all me life, but nobody put a bridge across that perishin' wather and 
I've no time to be whippin' around the long way to see what's on 
the other side." 

303 



Of course there are bridges over the narrow part at Enniskillen, 
and again at the "pinched in*' part below Lisbellaw, but I expect it 
would never occur to this woman, hurrying to Ballybetty Cross with a 
basket of duck eggs on her arm, to stir a foot out of her well-worn 
path of years. 

I call Antrim one of the most entertaining little towns in the 
North. The finest Gaelic round tower in Ulster rises here, an ex- 
quisite silver finger of stone reminding of antique days when monks 
and chieftains alike took turns watching for enemy approach. This 
watchtower is in perfect preservation, rivaled only by the taller, more 
slenderly built tower on Devenish Island in the Lough of Erne. 

The waters of the Lough of Neagh are noted for emerald reflec- 
tions, which reveal a "green class of women" seen far down in the 
depths, as the fishermen will speak of their own private mermaids or 
sirens, and the belief that the petrifying quality of the water turns 
everything, even the fish, to stone. Beside the lough near Muckamore, 
carved on a plinth of rock, runs this warning: 

"Lough Neagh hones! Lough Neagh honesl 
You put 'em in sticks and you take 'em out stones!" 

It was even said that the fishermen had no need to buy hones for 
their razors. All they had to do was to turn up their trousers and 
sharpen the razor blades on their shins. 

The Glens of Antrim are Glenarm, sunny and spread with arbutus 
and the earliest wild roses; Glencloy, darkling, where the tall ferns 
spring, green-curled, like an abbot's crozier, from last year's rusted 
bracken fronds; Glenariff, small and pinched, haunted by the wild 
Dun Bull who slew Queen Raghilla's child and was in turn hunted 
down and slain by herself; Glen Balleymon, where a lough lies still 
as death, and as black; Glencorp and Glendun, the twin glens, where 
the silence is more terrifying than clamor; then dark, dark Glen- 
shesk, the banshee's lair, where ten dead princesses lie asleep under 
the Great Stone of Shesk; Glentaise, with the white trunks of linden 
trees rising from mossy rocks to reflect in a marsh of lacy rivulets; 
and last and darkest of all the glens, Glentow, where tall trees touch 
the sky and lean close together, forever telling and retelling old tales 
of the proud Gael. 

Carrickfergus was the first Norman castle to be built in Ireland 

3<>4 



in the twelfth century. A wall of circumference hugely conceived 
encloses a turfed quadrangle as wide-sweeping as a polo field. It is a 
castle fortress within a fortress, considering that the living quarters 
are protected by another high curtain wall, the whole grouped around 
the immense square keep which rises from the center, dominating 
sea and landscape for many miles. It is in this keep that one sees 
the richly decorated private apartments occupied by whoever is in 
residence. In a room hung with arrases of the chase stands a four- 
poster bed big as a catafalque, the tester formed by swags of crimson 
and yellow Spanish damask. 

Because of its small size, the County of Armagh is the butt for a 
lot of ragging by neighbors and in the press. There's a saying: 
"The finest Irish linen pocket handkerchief in Ireland is the County 
of Armagh/' But when the mists of time parted and the story of 
Ireland began to take shape it was the deeds of heroes in and around 
Armagh that were told. 

The first gold coinage to be recorded in Ireland was minted at 
Armagh. Ireland's history as inscribed upon sheepskin was largely 
done by monks in the Abbey of Tynan and other religious retreats 
in Armagh. Today there is not a hamlet in Armagh which does 
not bear traces of flint man, stone man, bronze man, iron man, steel 
man. All those scholars from the world at large who would peer into 
the history of Ulster or of Ireland must come to Armagh, The 
Cathedral of St. Patrick has stood there, battered at times, but today 
entire, since the day when the saint made the City of Armagh the 
capital of his church. For untold centuries before that the ground 
was revered as the chief altar for tribal ceremonies of the pagan Irish, 
Gold, bronze, even heavily rusted iron ornament and vessels from 
incredible antiquity have been plowed up by farmers in the fertile 
fields around the town of Armagh. There are records that in 300 
B.C. Armagh was the seat of the Warrior Queen Macha, from whom it 
takes its name, Ard-Macha. She compelled captives taken in battle to 
build her great palace, Emain Macha, "walled with beaten gold, the 
roofs bound with bulls' hides dyed with colors to shame the rain- 
bow." Mounds and deep ditches can still be seen today girdling the 
high hill which for centuries was the seat of Ulster government. 
Close to the cathedral stands the Primate of Armagh's palace, a large, 
handsomely proportioned mansion in highest Georgian taste, which 
contains a notable art collection. 

306 



County Down is a garden of greenery, fat farm lands, and quiet 
rivers, all guarded by the Mountains of Mourne. "Nature spread 
herself when she tackled County Down/' an old gardener at Mount 
Stewart House once told me. It was he, old Lucky O'Nully himself, 
who admonished, "Whist, Mister Shamas, don't be pickin' so many 
ave me flowers. Sure ye'd more enjoy 'em just be lookin' at 'em. The 
grandest sight ave flowers at all is on the hoof" 

From Portaferry the road winds through beautifully rolling down- 
land to the demesne of Mount Stewart House, seat of the Marquess 
of Londonderry. Built in 1740 in the Irish-Palladian style, it was 
here that the great Irish statesman, Lord Castlereagh, was born. 

Dundrum fronts a wide sweep of Inner Bay. The sandy beaches 
curve like a gleaming scimitar from St. John's Point to Newcastle. 
Here is the glory of the deep emerald Mountains of Mourne whose 
undulating shoulders carved in purple-shadowed ravines rise gently 
from the water. This region is still known by its ancient name, the 
Kingdom of Mourne; its chief town is lovely, rose-red-brick Ros- 
trevor. A village of Georgian architecture, the houses nestle like shy 
chickens under the breast feathers of a broody hen, among its woods 
at the foot of the mountains. From a high mountain pass I could 
see one of the grandest residences in Ireland, Castle Coole in County 
Fermanagh. A colonnaded, domed Palladian gesture, the house was 
built of Portland stone which, in the notoriously warm, clear atmos- 
phere of Fermanagh, retains a virginal whiteness, so luminous I am 
reminded of the rarest white Manchu jade. 

The "thatched town" of Belleek resembles a quiet farming com- 
munity, but has jealously cradled in its midst a world-renowned 
porcelain industry for over three hundred years. The delicate, fairy- 
like beauty of this hyacinth blue, white, dove gray, yellow, or faintest 
pink pottery, embracing every possible article for ornament and 
household use, has fascinated connoisseurs to the extent that a 
Belleek Fair for foreign buyers is held every June in the grounds of a 
delightful house called Favour Royal. 

The city of Londonderry enjoys a most felicitous situation on the 
broad reaches of the River Foyle. The walls of the "Old Town at the 
Ford" are preserved entire. A walk around these battlements affords 
a stirring panorama of mountains and great fields patterned in the 
blazing gold and blue of waving wheat heads and flax blossoms. St. 
Columb's cathedral spire dominates the landscape. The stone carv- 
ings of 1300 which enrich its interior should be seen at leisure. 

307 



County Tyrone is a dark-visaged land of granite escarpments, 
eerily silent winding rivers, its dark plum-blue mountains lonely 
giants in the silent wastes. The Sperrins rise to 2,240 feet in Mount 
Sawel, eternally veiled in cloud wrack. The Carntoghers run like a 
spine between Londonderry and Tyrone. Slieve Gallion Cap is 
seen, palest hyacinth-blue among the clouds, circled at its base by 
the "disappearing" River Moyola, said by poets to be the stream 
where all the 'little people" (leprechauns, beasties, and "creatures of 
gossamer wings") meet for high carnival. 

The Town of Omagh is prideful, its inhabitants are "a reserved, 
withdrawn, silent race apart. As I do not write pantomime, I cannot 
put them in my plays," wrote Irish dramatist Oliver Goldsmith. The 
County Courthouse is a hugely scaled Palladian building, the 
facade lent great dignity by a long, balustraded flight of steps. 

There are some lovely villages in the valley of the River Foyle. 
Spread before me were vistas of Dungannon and the Valley of 
Glenelly. This ancient town is built around a prehistoric Gaelic fort. 
The steepness of the streets leading to the remains of Tir-Eoghain, 
the Castle of the O'Neills, causes Dungannon to be called in the 
classic Irish adeptness at simile, "the Town of Weary Walkers." 

I drove through Pomeroy, across the ancient seven-arch stone 
bridge at Newtownstewart and so on to Castle Caledon, where I was 
invited to spend my last night in Northern Ireland. Designed by 
Thomas Cooley, the house was greatly altered by the famed Regency 
architect, Nash. This white temple-like house, set luminously among 
its massive oaks and towering, gnarled silver beeches, has a great 
social and military history. Field Marshall Viscount Alexander was 
born here. 

I dined in the oval drawing room, now used as a dining room. The 
colors here are interesting and unique. White walls, brown, gold, 
and black scagliola (chipped marble composition) columns and a 
border of gold and apple green silhouettes of Attic Greek sports 
and temple ceremonies form a wide frieze under the richly molded 
cornice. 

Next morning under a cloudless blue sky I departed for Stranraer 
in Wigtownshire, Scotland. 



309 



Chapter 16 



PRIDE OF RACE AND GRANDEUR 

OF TERRAIN EXEMPLIFY 

SCOTLAND 



A FRESHENING wind, bred among the blowhole caves and head- 
lands of the Island of Kintyre, lying long, dark-browed, and 
menacing beside its "wife," Arran, off to the west, sent our 
ship swiftly up the Loch of Ryan, into the ancient, fortified harbor 
of Stranraer. If white-crested choppy waves are the mythological sea 
horses Neptune created to act as guard of honor to his conch-shell 
barge, then my small steamer, sprucely black and white as a chequer- 
board, was grandly escorted. It was, I noted, a blue, black, and white 
day with a cloudless turquoise sky above, save over Arran and Kin- 
tyre, where billows of cumulous clouds piled. The scene was like a 
sketch in India ink white gulls, black and gun-metal gray harbor 
masonry, tall slate-roofed old houses, the sky line punctuated at 
intervals with a class of curious bleak-faced skyscrapers, the old 
ropewalk warehouses. Stranraer once held paramount place in all 
Britain for the "combing, stretching, plaiting, twisting, and laying" 
of rope. All the varieties from a "seaman's bracelet," the thickness 
of a finger, to great cables strong enough to warp an Atlantic liner 
were made here. 

Stranraer, known as "port and portal" from which one can range 
all Scotland over finely laid and well-kept roads, has had a long, 
varied history. Nowadays albeit a somewhat dour-faced town, the 
beauty of its setting on Loch Ryan attracts many visitors between 
the White and the Black Lochs. 

As I came into the village of Dunragit I saw that a cattle fair was 
in progress. The streets abutting the market place had been por- 

310 



tioned off by hurdles to form pens for low-slung black Aberdeens, 
dun-gray, ribby Renfrewshires, and the molasses-brown Highland 
cattle which always so greatly remind me of overgrown English 
sheep-dogs having, in some unaccountable way, acquired majestically 
curved ivory-white horns. I walked among the kilted farmers, 
Gordons, Frasers, McNabbs, each clan member easily identified by 
his brilliant or somber tartan, 

A Highland bull sported the shaggiest coat of any beast of High- 
land stock at the fair. Great silky locks hung down from his back to 
trail upon the ground. The border lord peered through a morass of 
forelock with seemingly innocent, even melancholy russet-purple 
eyes, but I was told he was a very bedlamite of raging power when 
scenting and covering a heifer. 

I had a drink of strong, pungent whisky at a local pub called The 
Wandering (?) Piper. The question mark was prominently dis- 
played on the sign and I was most curious about it. According to the 
owner, Angus McNabb, a piper to the local laird, had fought at 
Bannockburn. Angus was pronounced among the missing. But 
periodically he was reported seen by crofters in the lowlands or 
by hunters in the hills, his piping heard among the crags. His 
memory is kept green and he is hopefully called "a wanderer," who 
may one day return. 

I approached the Waters of Tarff to cross over the silent running 
river on an ancient stone hump-backed bridge, arched on stone 
pylons. All about me lay "the old Scotland of dreens and drollies," 
as soothsayers term the warlocks and will-o'-the-wisps of ancient lore. 
As far as I could see the ground rolled away, a waste of mounds and 
gullies, tussocks of rough grass flattened by the wind or knolls topped 
with heather. Great swaths of heather, blue-purple, bronze-pink, and 
tawny-yellow, painted the distances in a wondrously bold design. 
The Tarff in itself is a curiosity of nature. Because the deeply cut 
bed of the river runs over red-veined mineral rocks, the water appears 
to run blood-red for many leagues. It seemed that vivid color blazed 
everywhere as I drove on and on through a twisting lane bordered 
by heather on either side. 

I thought on the legions of books I have read concerned with the 
history of Scotland, tracing the source of prehistoric Picts and later 
Celtic tribes who appear to have migrated to and from Northern 
Ireland. Early Gaels were forever on the move, transmigratory across 



that uneasy channel, until, thanks to unfortunate Robert the Bruce, 
they finally settled down among the lochs and mountains to stay. 

From the time of King Robert I until today, historians, writers 
of biographies, and novelists, telling of courageous warrior chieftains 
and high-spirited passionate women to match their daring and ardor, 
have found magnificently stirring material in Scotland. Great dramas, 
highly colored with blood and treachery, depicting clan against clan, 
such as immortal Macbeth, have been written, and there is also 
Scottish music with its soft cadences and strange rhythm of lament. 
Indeed, clan chieftains take as a personal "lay" a "lament" bearing 
their name to be skirled by pipers on occasions of great moment to 
the clan, or perhaps just to bring to table the festive and favored 
haggis. 

Wigtown, commanding a peninsula, is "shipping and fishing 
conscious." The town stands within a bleak area of brown moorland, 
but the houses, because of the quartz crystals in the stone used to 
construct most of the buildings, gleam silvery by day and become 
startlingly iridescent on a shiny night. 

The coast line of Ayr is world renowned for sandy beach coves 
overhung by tiny white fishing villages. The cottages are built from 
shards of the living rock, fawn-gray in color. These villages are built 
on terraced levels; they cling to the rock crags seeming to resemble 
nests of prehistoric birds. An old boatman whom I engaged at Turn- 
berry Point, the better to see Culzean Castle from the water, told me 
that many of these crag-clinging villages had no entrance from land- 
ward save by a tortuous sheep track. I found out later that such 
"clusters," as they are locally known, were first Pictish cave dwellings, 
later used as lairs for Danish pirates. 

Culzean Castle at Maybole, a superbly situated mansion, was built 
by Robert Adam in 1777 around a castle keep of undetermined 
antiquity, long the fortress of the Kennedy family. The Marquises of 
Ailsa greatly ornamented the long corridor of rooms facing the sea 
with a presently notable collection of paintings and sculpture, 
Eastern rugs, and signed pieces of eighteenth-century furniture. 

A sweeping view of the wave-crested sea, centering Ailsa Craig 
Lighthouse, rising like a plinth of white jade on its cube of red- 
granite rock, can be seen from Culzean. In 1945 the top floor of this 
castle was set aside as National Trust. In recognition of services 
rendered to the Allied cause during the Second World War, a life 
tenancy to these apartments was presented to President Eisenhower, 



then Allied Supreme Commander. On a moonlight night in summer, 
sailing parties start out from Maybole at sunset to encircle the light- 
house. Dinner is served on board, and if the ship is large enough, 
an orchestra for dancing is included as a special feature. 

Ayr is a playground for the Scots, one of their favorite seaside 
retreats. It has many varied attractions. Wellington Square has the 
unique reputation of being "Edinburgh before and seaside resort 
behind/' 

Banks of the Boon Teagardens are like a horticultural display 
nine months of the year. Tarn o' Shanter was pursued there by witches 
until he dropped in his tracks in the gardens. A marionette show of 
this episode entertains beholders of all ages. 

Hotels in Ayr are numerous. Those facing the sea have terraced 
restaurants agreeably shaded, for southern Scotland in summer is 
often surprisingly hot. To mention two, there are the Elms Court 
Hotel, and Belleisle Hotel, the latter formerly the castle of the Coats 
family, and a place which serves remarkably good food. The rooms 
are spacious and full of romantic memories of events that have bulked 
large in the history of Scotland. 

Robert Burns was born in Alloway. Today a museum is housed 
beside the thatched cottage, an "auld clay biggin," in which the poet 
was born. It was restored to its original state by subscriptions con- 
tributed from people throughout the world. The road out of Alloway 
winds through Dalmellington, past the dark glen which shadows the 
small, white, clay-washed, pitch roof shielings or farmsteadings 
crouched as if in mortal fear of the "wrathies" or storm mountains 
that surround Loch Boon. 

Over the hills into Kircudbrightshire, and I came to a square 
granite house set in a lonely dell where rose a spinny of aspen trees. 
Sunlight touched the slender trunks to gold like the strings of a 
harp. No breeze stirred, yet the aspen leaves, sharp as daggers drawn, 
made their perpetual flutterings. Long ago I learned that no bird 
ever builds a nest among the agitated leaves of an aspen tree. The 
house seemed a solid cube of stone, devoid of welcome. I stopped at 
the foot of a long flight of stone steps that led up to a high, narrow 
door at a steep angle, made perilous for the unwary by the damp 
moss spreading over the treads like a soggy carpet. In Alloway I had 
been told by the custodian of the Robert Burns Museum to be sure 
to stop at this place, the Hide of Castlef ern, an ancient tavern hidden 
in an aspen thicket on the shore of Loch Urr. When I arrived it was 

313 



teatime and I was served a monumental tea complete with crumbly 
shortbread, damson plum jam, and what I at first thought to be 
little sausages, but proved to be tangy cod-roe fried in pork fat. A 
great brown earthen pot shining in the firelight, big as a harvest 
moon, held lashings of strong red tea. 

Slowly my eyes became accustomed to the shadows at the end 
of the long paneled room. There hung an unskillfully painted por- 
trait, but one I had come to see. It showed a plain woman, coarse red 
hair piled high, whose name for over a century has been a household 
word in many landsFlora MacDonald, who so signally aided the 
ill-starred "Bonnie" Prince Charlie, romantic wanderer of the Scot- 
tish Royal House of Stuart, to escape from Skye to France in 1746. 

There are said to be over one hundred other paintings of Flora, 
counterpart in every brush stroke. When the blindly loyal adherents 
to the Stuart cause were forced to meet in secret to drink "health 
and speedy return" to their prince as "the king across the water," 
all sorts of dodges were invented. Among others was the device of 
having an itinerant painter named Dalveen execute a likeness of 
Flora MacDonald after a portrait by Richard Wilson, which now 
hangs in National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, and one of Charles 
Stuart exactly the same size. A mysterious donor commissioned Dal- 
veen, who on completion of the portraits was to deliver them to 
remote inns and coaching taverns in disparate spots in Scotland. 
Whenever authorities were on the prowl routing out Stuart sympa- 
thizers they disregarded the portrait of Flora, probably not even 
recognizing the likeness. What they did not know was that behind 
each canvas hung a head-and-shoulders portrait of the young prince 
of all Scottish hearts. When Stuart followers gathered in the specified 
taverns behind locked doors, the portrait of Flora MacDonald was 
rolled up as one would roll up a window shade. Then a bowl of 
water, to symbolize the channel over which he was exiled, was placed 
in the center of the table, and the toast was raised in fealty to the 
portrait. 

Loch Trool lies enfolded in the lofty hills. A long, narrow body of 
still water forming a letter S and strewn with verdant islands, this 
loch is certainly the "serene water" of Faida, the Scottish Morgan 
le Fay, one of the loveliest places in Southern Scotland. 

My way rose ever upwards. As the hills turned into mountains, the 
roads became narrow, heather-bordered, but firm under wheels. 
I looked down into three high-placed valleys called Galloway Upland 



Vales, branching out in trident formation from an ancient peel 
tower, once a lookout for men-at-arms of the Douglas family. Below 
me, lonely farms lay half-hidden among stunted oaks and bracken, 
lonely, yet somehow I sensed them to be havens of peace and content- 
ment, these Galloway Upland farms that spread their pasture lands 
as far as Dukieston and the Loch of Ken. 

Galloway is an ancient kingdom, half forgotten by the world at 
large but ever fresh in the memory of its hardy sons a land native 
to the Picts who fought the "Scots" invaders, paradoxically, from 
Ireland. 

As I ranged deeper into the Scottish lowlands, tall, stone peel- 
towers appeared standing sentinel on crags, commanding great dis- 
tances. Strongly fortified, the walls are immensely thick, for the 
storied early border lords were generally "reavers'* or plunderers, 
and a reaver's castle must be his fortress, home place for his family, 
and storage for loot taken. 

In the south country there is an adage that Dumfriesshire is 
"stabbed in the heart by Solway Firth, but she only bleeds pros- 
perity." Moat of the Mark and Rough Island float upon white spume 
ruffled waters of the Firth like twin green barges. Salmon abound in 
these waters. Coal is mined in the undulating hill sections, while 
twelve varieties of stone and granite are quarried (it is told that all 
twelve varieties were used in the construction of Craigenputtock, 
the long, turreted house of Carlyle bordering the famed braes of 
Maxwelltown.) 

Selkirkshire is a small county as Scottish shires go, but it is "big in 
itself and makes things hum." A great deal of the humming is from 
the tweed industry. Galashiels is a town where tweed is king. A 
tweed particularly soft in texture, softly muted in color patterns, 
distinguishes "Galashiels Rags," for that is what the students at 
Edinburgh University (who form walking parties on Saturdays to 
buy tweeds in Galashiels) call the suits and odd jackets they wear 
with their slacks or the tartan kilt. From early morning until evening 
motor buses run out to Galashiels every hour from Edinburgh and 
great is the bargaining that ensues all day long in the tweed market 
and half a hundred "drapers" and tailor shops. 

From a grassy upland, an oddly pointed cone of bright green turf 
fluted in clusters of red sorrel and purple thistle, I looked down 
upon the rose-gold beauty of the Abbey of Melrose, standing in a 
flowery meadow wrapped in immemorial silence. Rose-umber stone, 

3*5 



shading to mauve, to build the Abbey, was brought over Roman 
roads from the adjacent Eildon Hills. I walked through the Abbot's 
House, the Cistercian frater, the malthouse, and stables. 

The Monastery of Melrose was a farm as well as religious retreat, 
enclosed within a precinct or mantle wall a little over a mile in 
length. The Chronicle of Melrose relates that in 1246 Mathew, the 
sixteenth abbot, erected a hall "painted and gilden for feasting" on 
the bank of the River Dee. Foundations to be seen today indicate 
the vast extent of this edifice. From the Tile House near Darnick 
came the exquisite glaze colored in vermilion, green, and tawny, so 
extensively used throughout the monastery in the "foreign taste," 
as Abbot Mathew took pains to underline in his chronicles. The 
best hewers obtainable worked on the ashlar and elm and oak 
beaming. Stone carvers, exerting unbridled imagination, fashioned 
fantastic gargoyles that belched out the roof water, and set up a 
cheval de frise as an aerial barricade of demons, devils, and lewd 
hobgoblins on buttresses, intakes, and gables. Curiously attenuated, 
extremely elegant representations of Christ, the Virgin, and assorted 
saints, male and female, martyrs and mysterious Jezebels with grimac- 
ing lips and flying tresses occupy niches. Over all the nave and vaults 
were once lead-covered wooden roofs. The stone corbels still remain, 
but now only to support the sky. Heads of crowned kings and queens, 
monks, saracens, and the ubiquitous scolds seen in so many Scottish 
churches some wearing "scold halters" and bits between their teeth 
gaze down from on high. I thought on how unravaged by destroy- 
ing time were the carved lineaments smirking, smiling, grimacing, 
or scowling faces that have never changed expression down the 
centuries. 

Gentle and delicately modeled is the greatly revered Madonna 
of Melrose. She is veiled and elaborately crowned and the draperies 
of her robe fall in deeply modeled folds, almost in the form of 
spreading wings. Mylne relates that in 1649 dte statues of Melrose 
were mutilated. According to local legend the head of the Infant 
Christ held by the Madonna fell on the arm of the soldier who had 
struck at it and caused this part of his body to shrivel up so that 
he could never use it again. 

There is a remarkable feature in drainage at the monastery, unique 
in any age. In order to take full advantage of the waters of the 
Tweed, the monks constructed a dam across the river. The water 
was carried by a drain four feet wide, five feet deep, and five hundred 

316 



yards long, and served to turn the Abbey mill wheel, flush the rere- 
dorter pits, or cesspools, and fill the Abbey cisterns. A long stretch 
of this stone-walled and paved drain is now exposed and proves to 
be an expert example of early engineering, lending point to Abbot 
Mathew's boast, "I have goodly craftsmen to serve my every need." 

The route up the Tweed and down the Annan to Edinburgh 
through Peebleshire and the Lothians is an old one used successively 
by drovers, by invading and defending armies, and by the old stage- 
coaches with one of the most invigorating routes in the world: the 
route from Edinburgh to London, 

A long vista of fern and heather-fringed loch is called Talla's 
Water, the reservoir which provides the cold, crystal-clear Edinburgh 
water supply, so refreshing in taste it is a constant source of wonder 
to visitors. A weird beauty pervades this wild and lonely reach. 
"Under every Talla's rock lies a ghost," is a well-worn saying. Yet 
no greater beauty of nature can be found than this cradle of "Scotch 
mist" which hovers as a veil, even as myriad rainbows arching in 
the sunlight. Covenanters took refuge in the hills during the bloody 
"killing times." It is not strange that an underlying melancholy 
haunts the ballads, pipers' laments, and songs of this countryside. 

A long vista of utter tranquillity is that of Broughton Place, 
Peebleshire, overlooking the Great South Road. The white house is 
traditionally massive in outline with rounded towers, steep roof 
line, pedimented dormer windows, and low narrow doorways to deter 
a sudden entrance by an enemy. Crested with carved armorial car- 
touches, it embodies the splendid dignity and spirit of Scottish 
baronial building. But it evades imitation in both construction and 
detail. Inside, the halls and rounded "tower lassets" are aromatic 
with herb-scented waxed wood paneling, the walls bristling with stag 
antlers, the roof beams brilliant with emblazoning lending color in 
hanging silk banners, relics from victorious battles. 

Once covered by the Caladonian Forest, the moors now protect 
from change places with strange and unusual names, such as the 
Devil's Beef Tub and Sick Sykes Pool; an old coaching hostelry 
called Baldcock Stilt, named after a highwayman who walked the 
moors on stilts the better to see approaching travelers; the villages 
of Tweedhopefoot; Polmood, Gaelic for Wolfs Stream; Glenbladder 
Muck, a quagmire; Ravenscraig with its ruined peel tower and a 
massive old stone fortified farm, lonely beyond belief; and Kingle- 
doors Burn where graze thousands of sheep, a weird assemblage 

317 



scattered over the drear moors, their chemically impregnated wool 
dyed earth red to ward off ticks. 

The region of Scotland embraced by Roxburghshire, Berwickshire, 
and the three Lothians offers a wide sweep of the sea and hills, and 
is inspiring in its magnitude. The old port, Berwick-on-Tweed, a 
town alternately Scottish and English for centuries, now regarded as 
English, traces its origin from the Picts. Marauding Norsemen sacked, 
raped, and burned along this rocky coastline from the now ruinous 
old fort, Tantallon Castle commanding the Firth of Forth. Charred 
desolation caused it to be shunned as "the dead lands." As far inland 
as Jedburgh and Kelso, and those gory acres later to be known as 
Flodden Field, raping and stealing women and abducting youths for 
slaves were Viking pastimes. 

The rust-pink Cheviots feature Anchopecairn Peak, 2,389 feet 
high. The blue and violet misted reaches of the Lammermuir Hills, 
the curiously onyx green Moorfoot Hills, appear even in brilliant 
sunlight to harbor Stygian shadows. 

I passed a millrace, deep and turbulent from mountain-fed 
freshets. Fortified Preston Mill in East Lothian is a relic of the 
ancient, nearly obsolete "reaver mills" run once by renegades to 
grind oats and barley. 

A savage burst of rain came out of nowhere, shrouding the land- 
scape in a sheath of water for a brief space, slashing black and silver 
spears of downpour over that mighty stretch of evergreens, Ettrick 
Forest, and then ceased. And now the sun blazed out again to show 
a well-washed countryside, freshly colored as a world the moment 
after creation. Below me lay Thirlestane Castle. The lands of Thirle- 
stane have been in the possession of the Maitlands since Sir Richard 
de Matulant acquired them, the grant "writ in a round hand and 
firm" (in Latin, on undressed sheepskin, now hard as a wooden 
panel). 

In the great tradition of seventeenth-century Scottish baronial 
architecture, Thirlestane, from an eminence of the Lauderdale 
Hills, presents a vigorous picture of a Scottish ducal demesne. A 
turreted and gabled pile of coppery red and silver-gray harled stone 
(harling is the Scottish method of setting rough dressed stone in 
smeared white plaster), this castle is the first great house in Scotland 
to stand within a walled park as such. In the seventeenth century, 
James, Duke of York, remarked during a visit to Scotland on the 
wildness of setting for the baronial mansions. "Where/ 1 he inquired 

318 



of his host, Maitland (not yet Duke of Lauderdale), "are your park- 
lands?" 

In order to remove this reproach he forthwith enclosed the policies 
(the improved grounds) of Thirlestane and Lethington by a wall of 
harled stone, each wall greater than two and a half miles long. Many 
men whose names became famous in history were born at Thirle- 
stane. Sir Richard Maitland (1496-1586) had "a braw spur o' sons/' 
a chronicler of the family writes. 

The drawing room at Thirlestane is its chief splendor. Robert 
Mylne devised for Lauderdale a spacious room decorated in immense 
brio. The ceiling in the taste of Charles II seems to be the most 
imaginative in design in Scotland. Plasterers from Holyrood in 1646 
raised in high relief Lammermuir eagles in full flight carrying 
branches of fir and garlands of thistles to form streamers from beak 
to beak. This stucco-work is as carefully modeled in detail as any 
wood carving ever devised by Grinling Gibbons. As complement to 
this vitality in plaster decoration, cardinal scarlet damask curtains 
sweep to the floor from gilded wood palmettes to create a room of 
glowing richness. 

In the library among the treasures preserved are the "stockings 
of incarnate silk" worn by Earl of Montrose, "the idol of the High- 
lands," the day he walked to the scaffold "like a bridegroom" wear- 
ing "a fyne scarlet coat to his knee bobbing wi' silver galloons." 

The Maitlands enjoy the reputation of having been, since their 
origin, considerate, friendly landlords to the tenants on their vast 
estates. There is an entertaining story concerning an existing relic, 
a heavy silver chain, known as Midside Maggie's Girdle. 

Tollis Hill is a farm on a tract of land called Midside. In 1655 this 
farm was managed by a giantess, one Margaret Mylestone, generally 
called Midside Maggie. During a terrible winter of iron cold and 
withering winds, Maggie, having lost most of her sheep, found she 
could not meet the payment of her half-yearly rent. She set off to 
wait upon the laird and explain her difficulty. The laird listened 
intently, then said, "Aye, if there be such a wealth of snow on Tollis 
Hill, 111 forgive ye the half year's rent if yell bring me a snowball' 
as big as your head in June." As it turned out, the lateness of the 
following spring enabled Maggie to carry a snowball to the castle. 
The Earl, as good as his word, promptly remitted the rent. Shortly 
after this episode the Earl, who was a staunch Royalist, was taken 
prisoner at the Battle of Worcester. His lands were forfeited and for 

3*9 



nine years he languished a captive of war in English prisons. Midside 
Maggie worked hard and saved her money, which she turned into 
gold guineas and baked into an oat bannock. While two bannocks, 
referred to as "mates" or "twas," are usually baked together, one 
on top the other, Midside Maggie baked the guineas into only one, 
and then set off on foot to London to offer it to her imprisoned lord. 
Soon after this the Earl was released and fled to Holland. After the 
Restoration he came back to Scotland and sought out Midside 
Maggie. In token of her devotion he presented her with a silver 
girdle saying, "Every bannock has its mate save the Bannock o' Tollis 
Hills." 

The other Maitland stronghold, Lennoxlove, originally known as 
Lethington Castle, came to the Maitlands of Thirlestane in 1345 
through a charter from King David II for the "lands abounding 
Lethyngton." The walls and square battlements are heavily harled, 
from which came the sobriquet "The White Towered Lethington/' 
Over the entrance door a Latin inscription tells, "Whosoever of 
Maitland stock who laid foundations and built this tower; envious 
antiquity has concealed his name." 

The interiors are white stone with paneling of mountain ash and 
vitally molded plaster-work. In the dining chamber there is an un- 
usually flamboyant plaster ceiling, a very "theaterpiece" employing 
so many interlaced armorial quarterings of half the important Scot- 
tish families that the all-over design becomes a phantasmagoria of 
crested helms, roses, thistles, gorgets, rampant lions and griffins, bars 
sinister, and armored fists. 

Over this house hovers the aura of a great romance. In 1701 the 
castle changed hands twice until it was finally acquired by La Belle 
Stuart, the famous Duchess of Richmond and Lennox. She was the 
acclaimed dashing beauty, nonpareil, of Charles IFs court. The 
Duchess is said to have bought Lethington Castle with her savings, 
augmented to the necessary amount by selling her parure of rose 
diamonds to London pawnbrokers. She made this purchase in order 
to bequeath it to her cousin, Lord Blantyre, set down in chronicles 
of court gossip of the time as "the Scottish Apollo," for whom she 
had, all her turbulent life, a deep tenderness. Blantyre received the 
title deed to this princely gift with a message, enclosed in a silver 
mounted casket, written in gold ink on an ivory scroll tied with 
ribbons of the Stuart vermilion and black: "Lennox love to Blan- 
tyre," Ever since that day the castle has borne the enchanting name 

320 



of Lennoxlove. It appears first in a charter "setting out perquisites 
under Lennoxlove" in 1704. La Belle Stuart, incidentally, was the 
model for the figure of Britannia which appeared on the English 
halfpenny in 1672. 

Although the gayest of mortals, one who was always "in and out 
of the dance," the Duchess was an accomplished needlewoman. This 
is evident in two examples of her stitchery at Lennoxlove. In her 
own bedchamber there is an elegantly quilted rose-satin bedspread 
stitched in gold thread and a "nightrail" of violet and canary silk 
trimmed in "silver galloons" and silk tassels. By far the most ex- 
quisite reminder of the luxurious life of this great Restoration beauty 
is the Lennoxlove silver gilt toilet service (so recorded in the cata- 
logue of the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh). Of French 
seventeenth-century silver gilt, the set was given by Charles II to 
Frances Stuart, his "most beloved" dancing partner, for "delighting 
my eyes to the point of folly, hence my faltering while leading you 
out in a dance." It consists of twenty articles including magnificently 
mounted clothes brushes, scent bottles, three jewel caskets, and a 
mirror, oblong in form, the rose-and-thistle patterned frame sur- 
mounted by a circular monogram and coronet of Frances Stuart. 
Every silver piece bears the mark of Vincent Fortier of Paris and 
the date, 1676. The traveling chest made to contain this toilet set is 
constructed of a particularly rose-sheened oak, veneered in ara- 
besques of walnut overlaid with a filigree of richest silver; a scroll- 
like heavy lace employs the rose, the thistle, and oak branch with 
acorns. 

A traveler along the roads of Perthshire will find that there is no 
more comfortable inn to be found in all Scotland than the Bailie 
Nicol Jarvie at Aberfoyle. On a tree outside the red sandstone en- 
trance door hangs an old iron colter. It was with this improvised 
weapon, snatched red-hot from the fire, that Glasgow's Bailie Nicol 
Jarvie ignited the kilt of a belligerent Highlander who resented the 
inn's hospitality with a "low ranker" or Lowland Scot. The ensuing 
skirmish, recorded in Scott's Rob Roy, ended amicably (albeit all 
concerned were near throttled by fumes of singed wool and a High- 
lander's hide) with drinks all round at the Bailie's expense. A life- 
long friendship thus born and pledged symbolizes the inn's position 
between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. 

I took the road to Dunbar. Under a shiny night, the undulating 
landscape was drenched with floods of moonlight which caused the 

3*1 



old battle-scarred, flame-riven castle, "the thickest walls in Scotland," 
to stand out etched against a silvered indigo sky. Now a wave-dashed 
ruin, Dunbar has bulked large in Scottish history (as a dungeon 
fortress, the name struck fear to the hearts of prisoners led under its 
iron-spiked portcullis) long before Bothwell kidnapped Queen Mary 
on the moor road and whipped her onto his saddle and off to Dunbar. 

Through sleeping villages, I came down from the moors into 
Haddington just waking to a sunny dawn, the housewives in blouses 
striped in black, blue, yellow, and crimson throwing wide the heavy 
plank shutters by which they shut out at night even a wisp of sea 
air. Superstition is deeply entrenched in the Lowland towns as it is 
in the Highlands. The medieval fear of breathing night air still 
exists. 

Musselburgh, a centuries-old fishing village in Midlothian, has 
a personal magic all its own; on a fine morning it unquestionably 
lives up to its reputation as "the noisiest town in Scotland." It also 
appears to be the gayest, creating a thoroughly invigorating atmos- 
phere of camaraderie. "The Fisherwives of Musselburgh' ' is the 
name of a rollicking drinking song, as well as that of a marching song 
sung by the Black Watch. The fishergirls and wives of Musselburgh 
seem to be a race of superwomen, strapping, broad-hipped, gener- 
ously breasted, of ruddy complexion. Long tables are placed along 
the wharves where the fishing fleet anchors daily. As soon as the 
catch is distributed these women (who start their careers young and 
carry on to great age) scale and gut the various fish in the haul to 
the accompaniment of singing in Gaelic and shouting at the loung- 
ing fishermen approbation or invective of distinctly racy caliber. 

What most distinguishes these fishwives is their traditional cos- 
tume. Each woman carries a large doll, hoist on a long staff, dressed 
in every detail as a miniature of herself. Over a short, full petticoat 
of black and white perpendicularly striped wool is looped, so as to 
form a deep triangular pocket, an overskirt of black lined with 
yellow and white striped sailcloth. A blouse with the full sleeves rolled 
up to the elbows is usually fashioned from a Paisley print or some 
material of brilliant hue. The headshawl is worn like a loose hood, in- 
tended to pull about the head at will with the long fringed ends 
wrapped about the throat as a scarf. The women strut along the quay 
singing and swinging the tall staffs capped with reproductions of 
their arrogant selves, with the red and green, umber and yellow sails 
of anchored fishing smacks in the background. The dolls ar for sale 

322 



at the Fishwives' Market and, to judge by the number I saw carried 
by visitors in Edinburgh, they go like the proverbial hot-cakes. 

Of faintest rust-green, tinged with the illusive blue of myriad 
gentians, the undulating bracken-clad shoulders of the Pentland 
Hills spread outside Edinburgh. Here is an upland park of ravines 
and bypaths, a playground greatly appreciated by all dwellers within 
the smoke-blackened walls of this ancient capital. Every week end 
the year round a great exodus from the city takes place. Visitors, 
hearing of the charms of the Pentlands, drive out to explore the 
fastnesses, then often decide to continue on their Scottish tour via 
Glasgow, away into Argyllshire, from whence they ship off to the 
Misty Isles. 




I stood on Scald Law on a Sunday afternoon when the air was so 
clear I could see Edinburgh distinctly. I could discern a woman 
hanging out her wash high up in one of the tenements that rise like 
scaly old rock crags in the wynds, the dark cavernous alleys which 
splay out from the Royal Mile. Off to the south, in nearly alabaster 
effulgence, gleamed Arniston House, that "princely gesture Willie 
Adam planned for Dundas." The imposing, rather florid Dutch 

8*3 



baroque influence is strongly felt here as in all William Adam's work. 
(He was the father of the brothers Adam of whom Robert became 
the star performer.) Lord Dundas was a member of the family that 
Pitt the Younger called * 'collectively exceptional/' Of Dundas, the 
builder of Arniston, Pitt added, "the chief est ornament in Scottish 
diplomacy." 

I arrived in Edinburgh at sunset when the sky, painted in rich 
colors, hung as a powerfully painted backdrop to the castle on its 
massif of ivy- and bracken-grown rock. The sky was fretted with 
ragged black clouds wherein all reds from vermilion to blood-orange 
merged into bronze and metallic green. I have always felt that Edin- 
burgh can best be described in terms of sound rather than sight. The 
word which seems to describe it best is sonorous. 

Spoken of as if it were almost a living personality, "The Castle" 
is ever on the lips of those born and bred in Edinburgh. Somehow 
it seems to star in all conversation. It is the emblem of the city, 
constantly appearing and reappearing above the steep gabled roofs 
and cobbled streets of the Old City as it does from the gray columned 
mansions terraced above slate-paved crescents and squares of the 
New Town "across the brig." 

I stood in the Old Grassmarket and looked up the green burnished 
rock; from this point the nobility of its position can be fully appre- 
ciated. From the rampart court, called Black Watch Parade Ground, 
on a clear day a fair swatch of Scotland may be seen. From the parapet 
in front of the chapel, that cumbersome lady, Mons Meg, sticks her 
brazen muzzle in the direction of the Firth of Forth, pointing out 
particularly the steel bridge, a triumph of engineering. Built late 
in the last century, the length of one bridge and its approaches is 
a mile and three quarters. It links South Queensferry in West Lo- 
thian with North Queensferry in Fife, a fact which still causes 
unbridled pride and wonder in the minds of Lowlander and High- 
lander alike. A simple clansman from the wilds of Caithness mut- 
tered to me in awed tones, "Aye, 'tis God's hand that built it. Man 
could'na beeld it in a lifetime." Three years it takes to paint the 
structure from end to end and then a specially trained crew of 
workmen start all over again. 

The Firth of Forth is a broad, beautifully behaved stretch of 
water, one of the many slashes of sea that strike into the body of 
Scotland. Across the Firth, towns and villages glow gray and white 
against the green of the Fife coast. A vivid red note is introduced 

324 



by the aluminum ore deposits lying exposed by Burntisland. The 
Cleish Hills, the lordly Lomonds, and off to the blue-veiled west 
the high plateau o the Ochils break against the sky. Beyond this, 
sixty miles from Castle Rock, can be seen the outposts of the High- 
land Mountains Ben Vorlich, Strathbran, and the black, granite 
pinnacles of Stuc a Chroin. I find myself looking far into the heart 
of Scotland. That ancient royal city of Stirling, so boastful of its 
palace and Fortress Rock, is finer in shapely proportions than Edin- 
burgh's castle, built in haphazard fashion down the centuries. Look 
farther away through binoculars and you will see 'lovely, lone 
Strathyre" and, a few miles to the north, bottomless Loch Earn. 
Glen Artney, south of Loch Earn, shines in the sun like brass. Turn 
south of Edinburgh and you will focus on the Pentland Hills where 
lies Allemuir, a grouse moor within the Edinburgh city bounds. 

The "Honors Scotland," a crown, scepter, sword of state, and 
other jewels, now displayed behind glass in the Crown Room of 
the Castle, have survived all kinds of misadventures. They were 
"lost" during Cromwell's time, "found" again after the Restoration, 
then deposited in a strong chest and forgotten. After more than one 
hundred years they finally returned to the light of day. Adroitly 
lighted, the Regalia, cushioned on crimson velvet, reflect light subtly, 
seeming to gain added radiance from reflecting the heraldic paint- 
ings on the walls. Diamonds, pearls both native Scots and oriental 
carbuncles, amethysts, sapphires, topazes are imaginatively set in 
fleurs-de-lis, thistles, and crosses. The crown is singularly massive, 
nearly as high as a bishop's miter. In the reign of James V (1540) the 
coronet was heightened by two jeweled bands, thereby gaining a 
certain emphatic magnificence. Nowadays it smacks of the grandiose, 
raising the thought that perhaps it is consonant with a decadence 
in kingship. 

From the shopping parade of Princes Street the Castle eminence 
rises spectacularly. Acres of wallflowers covering the green-terraced 
slopes of Princes Street gardens send out powerful scents which well 
up to the pavements above from the tree-hidden railroad terminal. 
This anachronism in steel now bisects Old and New Edinburgh 
where once a sluggish river ran. Because of eternal billows of black 
smoke allied with atmospheric conditions of fog and rain, many of 
the architecturally splendid Gothic, late medieval and Georgian 
public buildings in Edinburgh today wear a mask of stygian black 
soot. The immense floral clock at the foot of the garden steps, com- 

326 



posed of fifty varieties of varihued fragrant flowers, is a perpetual 
attraction to visitors, especially those with cameras who want this 
unique bouquet as background to their portrait. 

Inside the castle today the greatest liveliness left is the School of 
Piping, occupying rooms on a corridor high up in the wing of palace 
apartments. Here under the Piobaireacho Society a military piper 
teaches the intricacies of fingering the "great music" to fill with 
pride and emotion the heart of every Scot alive. 

To many persons visiting Edinburgh, the most striking feature 
of the Old Town is St. Giles Cathedral Church. No ecclesiastical 
edifice in the kingdom has passed through so many vicissitudes and 
still survives in dignity, raising its famous filigree Gothic steeple 
like a petrified fountain into the sky. As early as the ninth century 
a monkish hermitage and church were supposed to have stood on 
this elevated site, dedicated to St. Giles (a dependency of the Holy 
Island Monastery of Lindisfarne). St. Giles or Sanctus Egidius was 
a renowned medieval saint about whom there are numerous bizarre 
legends. Artists have usually painted him in the garb of a pilgrim 
monk holding in his arms a hind pierced by an arrow. 

St. Giles Cathedral has the rare distinction of being at once a 
treasure house of early medieval architecture and one of the chief 
repositories in Christendom of religious art in carving of wood, Ailsa 
Craig granite and stone, and lona marble. The four massive octag- 
onal pillars supporting the Tower are believed to be part of the 
early Norman building of 1120. The large bronze wall panel in the 
Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial, beautifully limned in low relief, 
is of great interest to visitors who learn that this tribute was erected 
to honor him as a Master of English and Scottish Letters by his 
readers from all parts of the globe. Stevenson is depicted lying 
propped up by braided mats on a native couch at Vailima, Island 
of Upolu, Samoa, pen in hand, writing the first lines of his epitaph 
ending, "Home Is the Sailor, Home from the Sea, and the Hunter 
Home from the Hill." 

I single out one chapel among the three score or more to give 
special description the Chapel Dedicated to the Most Ancient and 
Most Noble Order of the Thistle. I do not know its fellow for 
exquisite beauty of delicate carved oak in the elegant, lightly traced 
Gothic style, soft gold in tone. The stalls of knightly members 
display little gables, pinnacles, and pierced work, airy as thistle- 
down. Close attention should be given to the King's Stall. The 

327 



mantling is cloth of gold and rouge velvet with ermine turnover. The 
singularly spirited carving of the stepped canopies displays in high 
repouse the thistle, the rose, and sprays of heather. The finial of the 
King's Stall is the ferociously rampant Scottish Royal Lion, crowned, 
holding a sword and scepter. Uncommonly arresting are heraldic 
emblems carved, gilded, painted in most sumptuous manner, the 
very zenith of Gothic taste, diapering the groined roof of the Thistle 
Chapel. Centered is a rendition of The Pelican in Her Piety (sym- 
bolical of loving sacrifice). All those bosses that stud the roof to 
gleam like iridescent stars in the firmament that are not heraldic 
are founded on some definite motif of nature the leek, the acorn, 
the hawthorn, the ivy, or the rose. Some are personal emblems of 
Melville, Annandale, Gordon, Perth, or the twelfth Earl of Leven 
who, with his brothers, presented the chapel to the Knights of the 
Order. 

One of the most celebrated sections in Edinburgh is that covered 
by the historic "Royal Mile" between the castle and Holyroodhouse 
Palace. It starts at the gates of the Castle Esplanade where each 
morning at eleven o'clock the Black Watch Regimental Band skirls 
vociferously to honor the changing of the guard. The six-foot guards- 
men appear in the brilliant regalia of swinging tartan kilt, immense 
white cockaded, black busbies, and dazzling white pipe-clayed gaiters. 

Walking east from St. Giles Square, the Royal Mile becomes a 
narrower way lined by tall, dark houses, the ancient gabled 'lands'* 
and "closes" rising story upon story to form a canyon that echoes 
with history and legend. 

It seemed to me that the Scottish light touches the rough-dressed 
stones with more subtlety than does the sun in many storied cities 
on the Continent. A softened, golden-mauve light prevails, caressing 
the worn, old lichened quoins, set chevron pattern, of Huntly House 
(now a museum of medieval antiquities), Gladstone's Land, The 
Pend, leading through Smollett's house. The Luckenbooths extend 
back into the smoke-stained wynds, long tortuous caverns of steep 
steps on which, unbelievable as it may seem, large families have 
lived in dark rooms with no apparent blight upon succeeding gen- 
erations, judging by their healthy red-headed looks and strong lung 
power. 

The Lawnmarket is an old style market place, a gathering place 
for gossip, and once a highly favored place for intrigue and the 
hatching of treacherous plots. Acheson House is the last reminder 

3*8 



of Edinburgh's spacious courtyard mansions. Canongate Church 
rises gauntly from a graveyard where rests the stone placed there by 
Queen Mary to mark the grave of David Riccio. Hard by is the 
grim-walled Canongate Tolbooth of bloody memory. In its courts 
"was Justice mispronounced most grievous/' as Montrose remarked 
to his guard while being drawn to his execution at Edinburgh Cross. 

The Stuart queen riding past the Tolbooth was harassed by 
Covenanters, hurling gutter filth and shouting insults at her. She 
flung her riding whip into the face of one fanatic who was pulling 
at her bridle rein and cried, "This mile is my dread and my curse." 

Moray House, a mansion once so splendidly maintained by the 
old nobility, has great style. The pyramidal gateway leads to a bal- 
conied porch over the entrance door, boldly corbeled in stone gro- 
tesques of startlingly baudy theme. 

John Knox's house is surmounted by a curious, hooded pent- 
house high above the street, from which the perverter of the Scottish 
Reformation exhorted the stolid and often unregenerate crowds as 
from an eagle's eyrie. 

At the "foot of the brae/' the far end of the Royal Mile, lies the 
Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse, resting on a wide, level, sheep- 
cropped greensward, to set the limits to the old community. King 
David I wrote in his Lay of Days, "1 have begun my Abbey of the 
Holy Rood." The legend of the foundation of the Abbey is as fol- 
lows. David, the Saxon Queen Margaret's son, who had broken a 
holy day by hunting, was saved from being gored to death by a 
wounded stag by the interposition of a cross. In gratitude for his 
escape he built the Abbey on the spot where the miracle occurred. 
An antlered stag with the cross on its forehead is the coat of arms 
for the Borough of Canongate. It was Queen (Saint) Margaret's cross 
of chequered ebony and ivory that gave the palace its name of Holy- 
rood. 

Beside the massive and sternly protective entrance gates to the 
palace stands an oddly engaging little stone building, the bath house 
of Mary Stuart. Once this retreat for steam baths, resembling one 
of the Scottish circular dovecotes, marked the end of the bowling 
green and grass courts where the young Queen played battledore 
and shuttlecock and the "romping" French game of "tennyse." Until 
1860 the roof was still composed of the original withes, wattle, and 
thatch. Rooks and starlings had played such havoc down the years 
that custodians of the palace decided to remove the now blackened, 

3*9 



rotted thatch. Pushed up under the eaves, hilt down, was found a 
poignard with a richly jeweled handle. It had apparently been hastily 
thrust up into the thatch by someone fleeing from the palace after 
participating in the murder of Rizzio. Intertwined on the hilt were 
the initials of "the livid" (so called because of his greenish pallor) 
Marquess of Huntly. The souvenir of this horrendous night of the 
murder at Holyrood that cast such a lasting shadow of apprehension 
over the young Queen's mind is now in the museum among Stuart 
relics. 

The Rood Gate is flanked by two imposing tower blocks of 
smoothly dressed stone, capped in the French taste with delicately 
slender twin turrets. The interior of the palace quadrangle, as car- 
ried out by Sir William Bruce for Charles II, is in high baroque 
style, columned, pedimented, and scrolled. The rose-amber shell of 
the immensely ancient Abbey of Holyrood with its soaring, silent 
nave, groined windows, and air of serene repose, stands so close to 
one wing of the palace that it seems to be the Mother House which, 
in essence, it is. 

The interior apartments of the palace vary greatly as to style and 
beauty of proportion and appointments. Either these rooms are 
small, cramped, too crowded with heavy furniture and unwieldly 
tapestries, or they are extravagantly large rooms, like Darnley's 
audience chamber, no end handsome in pale wood paneling, and a 
Charles II banqueting room, the architectural detail designed by 
grandiose Sir William Bruce, executed in the florid carving and 
gilded ornament of the Restoration period. The room called "Pri- 
vate Bedchamber of Mary Stuart" is a small, dark room hung in 
tapestries of the chase and green velvet heavy with gold galloon. A 
huge catafalque of a bed, somberly curtained, occupies most of the 
space. A door at one side lets into the tiny boudoir where she was 
being entertained to music of the guitar by Rizzio, when they were 
burst in upon the conspirators who dealt him "murder by steel." 

One room called the Golden Chamber, now a picture gallery, 
had once been put in order for the return to Scotland of Mary, 
Queen of Scots, and widow of the Dauphin of France. She had pre- 
viously been told she would be housed at Kirkwall (Earl Patrick 
Stewart's palace, which, even in ruin, retains amazing splendor 
to this day), but "rooms in her state and style" at Holyrood were 
ready to receive her. She was nineteen years old, six feet tall, 
with red-gold hair and almond eyes of gold-flecked blue; she was 

330 



stately, bearing gracefully her renown as the loveliest, most accom- 
plished princess of her time. Out of the fogs of Leith she stepped 
onto Holyrood's gilded floors, painted with purple and yellow this- 
tles, to begin a tragic performance which is a part of European 
history. It has been said that "no historic personage outside Scrip- 
ture is better known to the world than Mary Stuart/ 1 The figure of 
a lovely woman, a queen, set in a swirl of murder, constantly em- 
battled by puritanical outcry, hemmed in by religious sturm und 
drang, prey to the fears of her Cousin Elizabeth's regal jealousy, has 
an immediate ring of romance. 

The long line of portraits of Mary Stuart in the picture gallery 
from the Clouet pastel when she was a child in France to the last 
one showing her in heavy mourning and white coif show a face to 
haunt the mind. However delineated, by skillful brush or stilted 
talent, it is a face for the ages. 



S3 1 



Chapter 17 



THROUGH THE HIGHLANDS, 

THE LONELY LOCHS, AND 
SEAWARD TO THE MISTY ISLES 



PRINCES STREET I have always regarded as being as great an 
attraction the year round for visitors to Edinburgh, as the 
Royal Mile. The shops extend only along one side. Iron 
railings trace the long reach of the opposite side (which is a terraced 
cliff) commanding a view of Princes Street Gardens and Castle Rock. 
Every hour of the day the picture changes in mood with the shifting 
lights and cloud shadows. At night it may transpire that storms ob- 
literate the rock save for a few barrack-room lights, or the moon 
and stars may bathe the rock and the jagged profile of the Old Town 
in gentle radiance. During the Edinburgh Festival, uncommonly 
subtle floodlighting is introduced which lends a mysterious quality, 
as if this old warrior of a castle, the stones darkened to rusty bronze, 
might be afloat on an aerial sea. Edinburgh Festival, held usually 
during the last week of August and the first two weeks of September, 
embraces a program of diversified arts to suit disparate tastes. Music 
and drama are the chief motifs. 

The Royal Scottish Museum was celebrating its centenary this 
summer in extremely festive style. Exterior decorations of banners, 
flowers, and swaying vines added an unwonted gaiety of aspect to 
the building, an impressive, if rather solemn gesture in Venetian 
Renaissance taste, set high, as if enthroned on a rusticated stone 
dais. This dais forms a catacomb under the museum, archives for 
stored treasures which are alternately displayed above. As much a 
symbol of the "new city" built in Georgian dignity as the "ragged old 
stones*' of the ancient "wynds" and "closes" of the old, the pillared 

332 



facade of the museum presides like a temple, a focus for all eyes 
above Princes Street, the Park, and railway yards alike. In a lowering 
sun the blackened granite exterior was bathed in golden light. The 
colonnades engage so many pillars on all sides that it resembled a 
gigantic pipe organ, in all ways a building of grandeur, well worthy 
to house the art treasures of a capital city. 

From the vantage point of the Royal Scottish Museum, Edin- 
burgh lies serene, striped gold and violet from the last rays of the 
descending sun shining through an evening mist drifting in from 
the Pentlands. From here I could see her Old and New Towns 
grouped like episodes in a pageant of Scottish history turned to 
stone an unreal city in this luminous glow. I realized why Edin- 
burgh is more often visited as a treasure in herself than as a reposi- 
tory of treasures. 

A notable architectural expression in neoclassical taste is Register 
House, designed by Robert Adam. In the entrance hall hang the 
architect's original proposed sketches, elevations, and floor plans 
including the idea for the first domed gallery to be built in Scotland. 
The rotunda described as "a cave of the winds, the draughts fatal 
to all men over thirty" the great, echoing stair-wells domed and 
pillared, became the style when the rage for houses designed by 
Adam and Sir William Chambers swept Lowland and Highland 
towns and countryside. 

Edinburgh's eighteenth-century wing lies to the north of Old 
Town. The squares and crescents are wonderfully spacious. The 
widest streets, George and Queen, Castle and Moray Place, the latter 
surrounding a green park, acquaint visitors with the pleasures of 
walking in urban surroundings. George Square still retains some 
particularly pleasant houses of 1766 vintage erected by an adven- 
turous builder, James Brown, as speculation to draw an aristocratic 
clientele "away from the purlieus of Old Town wynds." These 
houses are readily recognized, being fronted with red or blue stone 
set in chequered pattern, each roof bristling with its own forest of 
red earthen chimney pots. 

Only the north side of Charlotte Square achieves real magnifi- 
cence. The imposing, yet delicate, Adam fagade is supremely satis- 
fying of its kind, but unhappily Adam died before the remaining 
three sides of the square were completed. Ainslie Place and Randolph 
Crescent are in the "high Georgian" taste. An air of well being 
salutes the passer-by. Indeed the fine antique shops, of which there 

333 



are many in Princes and Queen Streets, are awash with exquisite 
Chinese porcelains which were collected by Edinburgh connoisseurs 
in the eighteenth century. 

Edinburgh hospitality is long renowned. The restaurants in num- 
ber and varying excellence of cuisine are legion. The dining rooms 
of two leading hotels I recommend: the George Hotel, in George 
Street, a surprisingly wide thoroughfare, famous for shops where all 
the magnificent wool products of Scotland may be found at their 
peak; and the Queen's Hotel in St. Colme Street, which admits, "we 
have the best chef in Scotland." I would never dispute them, in 
view of the roast mutton with capers and buttered peas, the deep- 
dish chicken pie studded with mushrooms, and a gourmet touch to 
spike the flavor, raisins that have been steeped for two days in whisky. 

The Caladonian Hotel is a museum piece from Victorian days, 
presently somewhat modernized. But the view out across the city 
away to the Pentlands and the Forth remains splendidly unchanged. 
The food is forthright fare, good, stout Scottish. Of restaurants there 
is wide choice. Caf Royal, like the Caladonian, prides itself on re- 
taining the red and gold decorations, heavy linens, and embossed 
silver cutlery elegancies of a past era. Great celebrations are ritual 
here. The dining room on the second floor has the grand air and 
the food is served from great covered silver dishes hoisted on trolleys. 
I liked the carving knives of the chef who carves the monumental 
sirloins and haunches of roast Highland mutton. At least ten knives 
are laid in a silver rack, from the slender delicacy of a poignard to 
the "great slicer," the steel blade long and slightly curved as a clay- 
more. L* Aperitif is decorated in extreme modern style of blond 
wood and mirror panels reflecting deeply incised plaster murals in 
a design of reclining nymphs, which I overheard referred to by a 
young man wearing the Murray tartan kilt as "well fleshed lassies." 
The menu is generally continental. I found the salads, the cheeses, 
and the game the best in town. 

I left Edinburgh on a cool, sunny morning, and sought the wind- 
ing lanes that skirt the Firth of Forth. Hedgerows and groves of 
hawthorn were white as the crested waves of the Firth, agitated 
under the ruffling of a stiff off-shore breeze. The harled-stone farm 
houses of the fertile West Lothian farming region seemed sunk 
nearly up to the overhanging eaves, under heavy golden brown and 
darkest sepia thatch. I was bound for the Palace of Linlithgow, a 

334 



roofless semiruin now, yet from a little way off, though disheveled in 
looks, curiously inviting. 

Particularly on fair days Linlithgow has a romantic air. Children 
find it friendly and roll both hoops and themselves down the grassy 
knoll, with imminent danger of rolling straight into the loch from 
which the pile rises to reflect in the still water. The poignant story 
here is of two lonely Marys, mother and daughter, who were both 
. unhappy Queens of Scotland. 

So quiet today, so withdrawn in remembering, Linlithgow looms 
mightily in the once thunderous Scottish historical scene. Its plan 
was conceived by James I, the poet-monarch, who saw the site while 
out hunting the stag. He commenced building a palace for his Eng- 
lish Queen, Jane Beaufort. Innovations never before heard of in 
Scotland were introduced, such as decorated floor tiles from Flanders, 
supplied via Dundee and paid for out of the King's customs levied 
at that port. 

King James V was born in the palace, which he later enriched by 
placing sculptured stone foundations in the courtyard and along the 
"plaisaunce" facing the loch. He changed the main entrance port 
from the east to the south, thereby adding noble stature to the 
edifice. 

In plan the palace is a massive cube. Each of the four frontages 
is pierced by tall, mullioned windows ornamented in stone frets, 
some of which are enhanced by balconies from which I obtained 
views of fertile fields, the Firth of Forth, mountains, and rivers. 
Four high crenelated towers contain spacious apartments. In the 
Queen's Tower is the room in which Mary Queen of Scots was born 
on a day as blackly overcast as a winter midnight, "so dark tha' owls 
cawd see." An unusual feature of the interior is the "turnpikes," 
wheel-stairs which serve the towers and apartments connected with 
them, as well as the wall walks. I walked up and down King's Turn- 
pyke, where the walls still show the iron hooks to which Queen Mary 
(of Guise) hung the set of arrases Biblical in theme, stitched with 
such bright silks, but with woefully numb fingers, by the Queen and 
her ladies to wile away the long winter days. 

The State Apartments, "Lyon Chamber" and other roofless rooms, 
are nobly proportioned. These were decorated during the reign of 
builder James I, with "paynttit werk" or frescos and hung with 
tapestries and embroideries of which the Court Tapissier was cus- 
todian. This once large and sumptuous collection has been largely 

335 



dispersed, as in the case of the "Story of Aeneas' ' now hanging in 
the Haunted Chamber at Hampton Court Palace. 

The crown lands across the loch are a favored public park left 
wooded and flower-pied in season, as nature created it. The village 
close by is reached by a narrow, medieval street, past the soaring 
iron-studded oak door of St. Michael's Kirk. One sees a charming 
collection of black and white "magpie" houses, stalwart and four- 
square, set among huddled "closes" of stone houses with shutters 
painted in the purple thistle and lilies. 

The road from Linlithgow to Broxburn led me past the entrance 
gates of Hopetoun House, facing the Firth of Forth, seat of the 
Marquess of Linlithgow. This house, with immensely long frontage, 
was designed by Sir William Bruce in 1697 for his rich and amaz- 
ingly generous patron, the Earl of Hopetoun. A few old die-hard 
Highlanders snorted at what they termed "paste-pot, lace paper" 
architecture, calling it destructible and downright sybaritic. But, as 
is so often the case, the sons of these scoffers wanted a "new style 
house." Many fine, large houses in baroque or Palladian taste began 
to take form, some close to Edinburgh, others in fantastically wild 
and remote glens. Winton House, Haddo House, Mellerstain, and 
beautifully articulated Drum were built, all inspired by Hopetoun. 

Early evening, just at the hour of sunset, is the perfect time to see 
Craigmillar Castle. The "songs I sang at Craigmillar," which Mary 
Stuart tried to teach her son James, but which he petulantly refused 
to learn, seem to drift on the wind down the arch of time. Nostalgia 
wreaths this castle on its pastureland eminence. As much as any 
castle, habitable or ruinous in Scotland today, Craigmillar is an 
abiding witness to the skill, the versatility, and elan with which the 
old Scottish masons handled highly intricate problems of planning 
and tailoring rough stones to elegant symmetry. It is more a large 
baronial residence in early Renaissance style than a fortress, such as 
Dunbar or Dumbarton castle. 

After Rizzio's murder in 1566 the young Queen Mary, "grievously 
distempered in mind and body," withdrew herself from bloodstained 
Holyrood to the "peace and quiet, the soft views, the fruits and 
flowers/' as she wrote in her diary, of Craigmillar. In December of 
that year the French Ambassador wrote, "The Queen is housed a 
league from the city at Craigmillar. She is in the hands of physicians. 
She frets continuously. She cannot, or will not, let herself forget the 
murder. Over and over she still repeats these words, 'I could wish 

336 



to be dead.' The injury to her majesty's mind is exceedingly great. 
I fear she will never recover peace." 

It was at Craigmillar whether with or without the Queen's con- 
nivance we shall never know that the famous "band" was signed: 
Argyll, Huntly, Bothwell, Maitland of Lethington, and Sir James 
Balfour. The result of this unholy pact was the murder of Lord 
Darnley, blown into limbo by an explosion of kegs containing gun- 
powder, mysteriously placed in the cellars beneath his bedchamber 
at Kirk o' the Field. This deed had a shocking impact. The French 
Ambassador again wrote to his King at Versailles. "Such desperate 
impudence bred what success?" 

Little has changed in the countryside since the days when Mary 
Stuart sat in the tower window of Craigmillar Castle watching the 
conspirators, heavily cloaked against a winter gale, ride down the hill, 
Huntly crouched in the saddle hiding in his gauntlet cuff the "band" 
bearing the signatures so fatal for Darnley. 

Below the window lies Frenchtown, the cluster of cottages the 
Queen built for her French servants. Northward the eye is captivated 
by the magnificent lion couchant of Arthur's Seat and the proud 
towers and spires of Edinburgh. Beyond the sentinel Castle Rock 
extends the silver sweep of the Firth with the gentle-shouldered Hills 
of Fife meeting the sky. 

Stirling, where the main road to the Highlands crosses the Forth, 
rivals Edinburgh in its wealth of historical associations. The castle, 
perched high on a rock, jutting surprisingly from surrounding 
orchards and grazing meadows, is more interesting to me architec- 
turally than Edinburgh's. 

Stirling itself is today a perfect example of early medieval plan- 
ning and Scottish racial architecture. Above the floodplain of the 
River Forth both town and fortress have played stirring parts in many 
notable actions. Approaching Stirling I drove across the springy turf 
fields once the scene of the celebrated Battle of Bannockburn in 
1314. Viewed from afar, silhouetted against a storm-tossed sky like 
a setting of profile stage scenery, Stirling is singularly dramatic, made 
doubly so as I drew closer because of the green-slashed black rock 
escarpment striped vertically in vivid yellow spears of Verbascum, 
a mullein I had lately seen in less multitude at Craigmillar. 

Inside and out, the stately building called Banquet Hall may well 
have been the first in the British Isles reflecting Renaissance influ- 
ence. A fine, turreted structure known as Argyll Ludging, built by 

337 



the Earl of Stirling, a man of cultured tastes, is perhaps the most 
ancient part of the masonry. It is used as a small but widely cele- 
brated military hospital, so well conducted that a saying goes with 
soldier or civilian alike, "I'm no weel. Boost me to the Ludgin's 
quick." 

Cobbled streets, many so narrow that two horse-drawn carts cannot 
pass in comfort, are lined by tall cliffs of old, elaborate wealthy houses 
built for the Scottish nobles who took pride in presenting a "court" 
of culture and festivity when the sovereign "lay" at Stirling. Their 
homes were furnished with rich trappings to gain favor and catch 
the chancy attention of princes. 

At the massive gate leading to a paved courtyard of Argyll Ludg- 
ings is a masterly piece of gracefully ornamented Renaissance portal. 
This has been copied countless times to aggrandize some Scottish 
baronial house. 

Feudal splendor is richly manifest in the house built by the 
"mighty" (his height was over seven feet) Earl of Mar in 1570. It 
is set amidst ancient cathedral precincts of the old town, engagingly 
called Vennals, Wynds, Raws, and Studds. The roughly dressed 
stone of the two hexagonal towers is ablaze with rock flowers, the 
seeds deposited in crannies by centuries of winds, together with 
profundo carving of coronets and cyphers denoting marriage of the 
Mars with daughters of noble families. 

Every morning at eleven o'clock the guard of the Castle Garrison 
is changed. A piper in full regimentals walks the Palace Terrace at 
the traditional piper's pace, so slow he seems rooted at each step. 

I left Stirling under the statue of Robert Bruce, dominating the 
view, his heavy-lidded stone eyes forever contemplating the broad 
flat floodplain of the Forth, the green-grassed Carse of Stirling. 

A little over thirty miles southwest of Stirling on the banks of the 
River Clyde stands the great seaport Glasgow, the "armory of Scot- 
tish industry." Its population of over a million souls makes this 
humming port Scotland's largest city. At Clydebank the immense 
swift steamships Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were built. 

Glasgow is a city of great antiquity and possesses a cathedral of 
absorbing interest. Glasgow University, beautifully situated in a 
sweeping park on Gilmorehill, contains a library of magnitude. The 
rare early volumes are richly bound in deerhide. Glasgow Art Gal- 
lery is repository for a famous collection of pictures, represented 
among them the old masters, Rembrandt, Giorgione, and Titian, 

338 



and tremendously scaled scenes from remote Highland life in the 
hills by Sir Edwin Landseer. 

From the northern shores of Firth of Forth I entered the fertile 
county of Fife, of which perhaps the most famous town is St. An- 
drews. To spend a holiday here is the dream of every enthusiastic 
golfer. Not only is this windy upland the headquarters of the Royal 
and Ancient, foremost golf club of the world, but the seat of the 
oldest university in Scotland. 

Overlooking the harbor supporting Kinghorn and Burntisland 
is Rossend Castle in which Queen Mary was staying "in seclusion" 
in 1563, when Chastelard, the ill-starred French poet, so unguard- 
edly in love with Mary, was found concealed in her bedroom, a 
second lapse. For this offense he was led, still hysterically shouting 
his love for the Queen, to the block. 

A short distance from here is the Abbey of Dunfermline lying 
wrapt in memories guarding the tombs of Scottish kings. "Royal" 
Dunfermline was the residence of Robert Bruce and the Abbey was 
his burial place. 

The date when the Abbey was built is lost in the mists of Scottish 
antiquity. A wealth of carved stone sculpture is to be seen within its 
precincts. Possessing some of the oldest ecclesiastical statuary in 
Scotland, it includes figures of Robert Bruce as a falconer, and Mal- 
colm Canmore, the "truculent, disheveled" king who in the eleventh 
century "wakened" his subjects to pride of race, yet was in appear- 
ance so nearly barbarian himself that he dressed in the skins of 
mountain bears and wore a kind of helmet fashioned from the skull 
of an African lion, complete with wiry mane. From whence he 
obtained this curio no one has recorded. 

Less than fifteen miles from Dunfermline Loch Leven lies remote 
and silent. I noticed that scarcely a ripple stirred the clear indigo 
water, reflecting densely wooded hills and the dark ivied tower of 
the castle from which Mary Stuart made her abortive escape. Wild 
roses hide the ruins of the once powerful Abbey of St. Serf, adding 
luminous rose reflections to the eerie picture. 

Long accorded the title "Proud Perth/ 1 this city, the county seat 
of Perthshire, was once the capital of Scotland under its former name, 
St. Johnstoun. It is beautifully situated, being backed by the Mon- 
crieffe and Kinnoull hills. 

Scone Palace is two miles north of Perth at Old Scone, a craggy 
village of granite houses like monoliths, the eighth-century capital 

339 



of Pictavia. The present palace, a resounding architectural gesture 
in Scottish Renaissance, set upon a commanding eminence, was the 
site of an ancient abbey destroyed "by witches/* according to the 
people of Perth, who actually razed it themselves in anger against the 
burden of crushing taxation imposed by the Augustinian Abbots. 
Scone was seat of the kings of Scotland from 1157 unt il 1488. Here 
once was kept the famous Stone of Scone, also called the Stone of 
Destiny or Coronation Stone on which the kings sat while being 
crowned. In 1296 it was removed to London by Edward I. Today, 
after being returned following a mysterious abduction, it is "stashed 
awa'," according to Scottish nationalists, under the coronation chair 
in Westminster Abbey, a closely guarded bone of contention. The 
Scottish people are adamant that this is their "Lodestone" and that 
it must be restored to rest in perpetuity in its proper place. 

I left Perth for Angus, setting my course by a roundabout way that 
would take me through Blairgowrie and Rattray, along the dramatic 
glens and uplands of the Carse of Gowerie to prim old Kirkbuddo, 
and finally to Blair Atholl. It was market day in the glen-locked 
village of Kirkbuddo. I saw shawls in so many different arrangements 
of tartan plaids, I thought it great wonder there are sufficient divi- 
sions of color and cross stripes to give differentiation to the garments 
of so many ancient Highland clans. 

The historic fortress of Atholl, seat of the Dukes of Atholl, is at 
Blair Atholl, which lies at the junction of the River Garry with the 
Tilt. After being remodeled into a great Georgian mansion in 1747 
it regained its castellated appearance when the exterior underwent 
alteration for the second time to "restore its greatness as a Scottish 
seat," meaning to that of the castle that had first been built, a massive 
pile of turrets and battlements dating from 1269. 

At first glimpse of Blair Castle's stepped gables, bartizans, white- 
harled walls thrusting against Scottish firs like a retinue of white 
armored knights, their spears couched for the charge, the visitor 
may assume that he is to see another Scottish fortress or more massive 
Scottish baronial pile. It is, in fact, both. But on either assumption he 
is left totally unprepared for the superb series of Georgian rooms 
which comprise the greater part of the interior, opening one into the 
other in the Italian manner, of which the only external hint is the 
square-paned sash windows pierced in the thick walls. The feature 
of the castle is the picture staircase, a high well, carved and paneled 
in mountain ash. This staircase ascends into an arena ablaze with 

340 



color, a sort of perpetual trumpet blast calling attention to ducal 
pomp and circumstance. Full length portraits nearly cover the walls. 

The great hall or entrance crypt displays on walnut paneling a 
considered arrangement of arms, so skilfully designed that the great 
five-pointed stars are formed from old Highland broadswords and 
dirks, ablaze with amber cairngorms, painted bayonets, and targes 
or shields, so that the effect is of a vast mural painting rich with 
colors of the Atholl Highlanders. In the grandly proportioned dining 
room the accent is on white,, crimson, and gold. I am impressed by 
the spirited baroque plaster-work and rectangular panels of High- 
land scenes painted by Charles Steuart. Of its period, 1775, this 
elegantly imagined room is unusually delicate for Scotland. 

An excellent place to stop after a visit to Blair Castle is the Atholl 
Arms, the leading hotel at Blair Atholl or, indeed, the whole Killi- 
crankie Highland region. 

Retracing my steps to Rattray, I struck southeast for Dundee, chief 
town in Angus and third in size in Scotland. Situated on the Firth of 
Tay, everything industrial seems to be going forward at once. Ship- 
building yards cast bars of shadow across factories for the jelling of 
world-famed Dundee marmalade. Jute manufacture for every 
strength of rope employs seemingly half the population in town, and 
precision instruments for engineers are shipped in polished walnut- 
wood boxes to all parts of the world. 

Heading north, I visited Glamis Castle said by some to be the 
"clan hold" of Shakespeare's immortal Macbeth to whom the witches 
on the blasted heath shrieked prophetic greeting, "Hail, Thane of 
Cawdor, Thane of Glamis." Down the years a story persists that 
Macbeth, attaining Glamis, murdered Duncan in the vaulted King's 
Chamber. Glamis is rife with legend, much of it, I am told, apocryphal. 
The tale of the secret room wherein dwells perpetually the "monster 
of Glamis" (whether the same individual or the creature of succeed- 
ing generations is never divulged), credited with being a deformed 
giant, has so many variations, denials, and affirmations that it must 
be accepted or discredited as one sees fit, as are so many legends 
stemming from antiquity. Glamis in itself is a grandiloquent gesture 
in champagne-colored, smooth-dressed stone. Seen from a long avenue 
of approach up a gradient from the town of Forfar, the pile is 
mightily towered, turreted, pinnacled, and buttressed. The interiors 
are richly furnished, with red, gold, strong yellows, and silver-gilt 



galloon bandings on curtains, and damask coverings predominant, 
to liven white-washed stone barrel vaulted apartments. 

A treasure of Glamis, the famous beaker, "Lion of Glamis," is 
wrought in seventeenth-century silver gilt. In the shape of a rampant 
lion, it holds a pint, and must, on occasions of importance, be emptied 
to the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorn's health. 

The fireplace in the great plaster hall is unique. Decorated by 
English plasterers in 1620, the cornice, embellished with armorial 
bearings, is supported by twin figures. Two amusingly different 
versions of Adam and Eve, their hair elaborately dressed in braids, 
are presented just as they roamed naked in the Garden of Eden. To 
me the chief exterior motif at Glamis is the wrought-iron railing to 
the "walk" on the tower above the bronze statues startlingly larger 
than life of the four Stuart kings, James I, Charles I, Charles II, and 
James II. The finials are extraordinarily vital in design in the form 
of thistles alternating between Scottish rose and fleur-de-lis. An 
unusual feature is two miniature stone pavilions placed at either end 
of the "walk" with their gilded dome roofs surmounted by the 
proudly rampant lion of the Lyons. 

It was an old shepherd who best described Kincardineshire for 
me. "A wild, unruly glen-land," he called it on an afternoon when 
we met while inspecting dungeons under the grim battlements of 
Dunnottar Castle, still guardian of a thousand murderous memories, 
some of which I had read in old Scottish tales. 

I was more than a little agreeing with his sagacity when that eve- 
ning, during a storm of more than ordinary force, I was occupied 
with a dish of savory mussels, cooked with bacon and eggs coddled 
in cream. After dinner in the eating room of Hill of Cat Tavern 
facing the wind-angered sea at Stonehaven Old Port, I was shown 
a pack of playing cards of ancient vintage curious in design and with 
an intriguing history. Mary Queen of Scots had introduced into 
Scotland from France a card game called Comette in which the 
winning card was the nine of diamonds. This game eventually be- 
came the curse of Scotland, because wealth and lands were gambled 
away and many families were completely ruined. The card in my 
hand bore a gaudy device representing a simpering Mary Stuart in 
crown and shoulder-tartan as queen of diamonds. It came from a set 
of eighteenth-century cards in which each suit represented a country: 

342 



ts for England, clubs for Ireland, spades for Wales, and diamonds 
Scotland. 

Kincardine, with a long coastline, north of Angus, is a wild and 
sparsely populated land. I drove for mile upon mile through loneness 
where only a crofter's cottage half-hidden in the moors, from which 
a few ragged children would invariably dart out and call some unin- 
telligible greeting, relieved the vastness of silent moors and great, 
black-purple mountains. Sometimes a dark shadowed loch would 
blink at me as a ray of sunlight touched its face. Hill of Cat, Hill of 
Goat, Dog Hillock, Hill of Worry strange names to designate burial 
cairns of chieftains of Pictish days. I drove through wilder and more 
dramatic wastes, a land of distances and uninterrupted silence where 
even the magnificent golden eagles of the Highlands wheeled so 
high I could not hear the screams of the two bright-pinion monarchs 
fighting overhead. 




I came to Aberdeen from the roundabout way of Braemar, where 
each September the games are held known as Royal Braemar Gather- 
ing (of the clans) with giants in kilt "tossing the caber." The caber 
is a fir tree trunk of over twenty feet in length. This must be lifted 
by the competitor, balanced upright against his shoulder, and then 

343 



after a run, with a mighty heave, tossed for distance. The origin of 
these gatherings goes back a thousand years to a test held by King 
Malcolm Canmore at Kindrochit Castle, Braemar, when, to find his 
swiftest messenger, he set off his men on a mountain race and other 
feats requiring stamina, strength, and great heart. 

At Balmoral Castle a garden party was in progress. Queen Eliza- 
beth II and her children were personally dispensing ribbon-tied 
boxes of shortbread, the celebrated Scottish delicacy, to winners of 
prizes at the local flower show held in August each year at Balmoral. 
In the sunlight of a day when only the softest breeze blew from Dee- 
side the castle gleamed like ivory. Only one portion is ancient. The 
cornerstone of the tower and majority of buildings surrounding a 
courtyard was laid by Queen Victoria. 

Aberdeen has a saying that, like a Roman warrior standing astride 
two horses, she rides the ' 'Mouth of Dee and the mouth of Don/* 
Extensive quarrying and the polishing of the dressed granite have 
caused Aberdeen to be called the Granite City. Certainly her public 
buildings attest to her skill in polishing stone, for the walls of 
masonry in this city gleam as if highly lacquered. King's College and 
Marischal College are ancient seats of learning, the former founded 
in 1494, the latter in 1593. The Royal Scottish Library is particularly 
rich in books on Celtic literature. At all times a sense of festival 
seems to enwrap Aberdeen, for each morning there are broken out 
on the river winds the red and gold banners bearing the motto Bon 
Accord, originated by supporters of Robert Bruce in the Scottish 
Wars of Independence. Hotels and restaurants in Aberdeen are 
numerous and renowned. The Aberdeen Angus breed of beef, served 
as sirloin, baron of beef, or steak and kidney pudding, is prepared 
to a visitor's individual taste. At The Angus, a special gravy from the 
roast in which braised onions have been crushed compliments the 
beef. 

Continuing north, Elgin in Morayshire is as white and luminous 
as the marbles brought to London from Greece by the Scottish Earl 
of Elgin. Inverness, the county seat of Inverness-shire, is known to 
most of us since childhood because of its tweeds, woolen stockings, 
and that comfortable greatcoat, the Inverness. It it a proud city 
reveling in the title, "Capital of the Highlands." Its situation is an 
extraordinarily felicitous elevation at the mouth of Beauly Firth, a 
mile from the Caledonian Canal. Inverness is the scene of the great 
Highland Gathering some time each summer when its theaters, 

344 



museums, and art gallery become centers showing plays and pictures 
pertaining to Highland lore. The castle, though dating only from 
1834, is built on the supposed site of the fortress in which Macbeth 
killed Duncan, thus challenging Glamis' claim. 

Loch Ness, a touted "bottomless pool" of dingy water, is purported 
to harbor a monster descended from prehistoric times. Each year an 
excitable fisherman or some visitor "given to visions/* as I was told, 
claims to have spotted the creature which, by garbled descriptions, 
would seem to have as many physical variations as truth has dis- 
tortions. 

From Inverfarigaig I had walked over the heather-clad hills above 
Loch Ness to see the twelfth-century Castle Urquhart, its riven walls 
matted with ivy, now the haunt of ghosts and raucous sea birds. 
Passing through the village of Kilmorack I had watched the assem- 
bling of clans from the Northern Highlands, the annual competition 
of lads for supremacy in games and dancing the Scottish reel. When I 
left the village with the eerie drone of bagpipe music receding on the 
evening wind, I thought again, as I had done on market day at Kirk- 
buddo, on the diversity of color and pattern in clan tartans. Accord- 
ing to plan, a friend of mine, laird of the Clan Fraser, met me at 
The Loch Hotel for dinner. In the gloaming, sitting in front of the 
hotel over tageens of cognac known in this locality as Smuggler's 
Dream, I asked my friend to relate to me the history of clan tartans. 
"I will indeed/' he answered. "But mind that the history, romantic 
and interesting to many, is controversial regarding its true an- 
tiquity/' "What, exactly, is tartan?" I asked, then added, "I know it 
is a woven material generally of wool with stripes of different colors 
varying in breadth. But what was its purpose, as a means to identify?" 
My companion answered, "That yes. But actually, in our lives, it 
means so much more." 

References to tartan in early literature supply ample proof that 
it was worn to identify clan members by color and "setts" of stripes 
many centuries ago. According to the earliest documentation in the 
form of household accounts in royal archives, the court treasurer in 
1471 deducted for King James III and the Queen "monies for tartans 
for ceerymonie." It is improbable that the early tartans were as gaily 
colored or as tastefully arranged as those of later years. We learn 
from early Roman writers that Celtic tribes were noted for weaving 
woolen cloth "in bright weaves." The skill of the weavers and the 
availability of plants to supply vegetable dyes determined the "sett" 

345 



of a tartan. Old shepherds in their bothies remote in the hills, who 
seem to be reincarnated ancient bards, tell this tale with variations on 
the main theme. The Picts wrapped themselves in immense shawls of 
hand-woven "clotted" wool, coarse-knotted and loosely woven. The 
marauding Vikings girded their loins with long scarves woven from 
the wool of sheep found in the Highland pastures. A Viking chieftain 
would often paint spots or mystic symbols on his cloak so that his 
identity could be discerned by his followers at a great distance. 

About 836 Alpin, the last King of the Scots, was killed in battle. 
He was succeeded by his son Kenneth McAlpine whose entrance into 
the Scottish scene marked a new era in the history of Scotland. Ken- 
neth's capital was at Dunstaffnage, an ancient dungeon keep breasting 
the Firth of Lome in Argyll. McAlpine removed his seat to Scone 
where he was crowned in 843 on the Stone of Scone. It is here that 
old chronicles reveal that the warrior McAlpine, a man of gigantic 
stature "with a temper to match," not only dressed himself in flowing 
robes "of divers colours of stryped and plad," but put cloaks of the 
same description upon both men and women in his retinue. 

The story now advances in time. Many burial cairns of early 
Scottish chiefs have yielded fragments of heavy woolen cloth, or a 
curiously stiff linen not unlike hop sacking, on which a plaid effect 
in dark colors appears crudely daubed on a lighter colored ground. 
It is told that members of a particular clan, when widely scattered 
tending sheep or herding cattle in the hills, would employ their 
plaid as a signal by waving it from a staff or branch of tree to attract 
the attention of another watcher in the mists. Rob Roy MacGregor, 
the celebrated freebooter and hero of Sir Walter Scott's romance of 
high adventure, when he skulked in the craggy Highlands, his very 
name proscribed, his lands confiscated by his powerful enemies, the 
Campbells of Argyll, used to signal his loyal followers with his ver- 
milion and green striped plaid, urging them, by a sort of wig-wagging 
code, to bring him food and news of his family. The clans, too, carried 
standards, the Fairy Flag of the MacLeods of Skye and the Bratach 
Bran of the MacKays being existing examples. 

Tied to standard poles were bannerettes of the clan tartan. An 
inspiring sight the advance of a clan must have been, winding down 
the glens, the wind whipping the brilliant standards, the drifting 
mists momentarily concealing, then revealing the throng and perhaps 
overhead the "Signature of the Highlands skies," the golden eagles, 
skimming and screaming in protest at this disturbing of their soli- 

346 



tude. The older form of Highland dress was the breacan-feile or 
belted plaid, consisting of "a piece of tartan two yards in width, and 
four or six in length." The plaid was bound firmly about the loins 
with a wide leathern belt, often deftly ornamented with some per- 
sonal device in silver. The feile-beg or little kilt is now universally 
used as modern Highland garb. A silver pin fastens the apron a 
few inches above the lower edge of the kilt. A "pocket a-swing" 
or sporran, of leather or deerhide is worn over the kilt in front. 

Most clans have two tartans, one for dress and another, called the 
"hunting tartan," more subdued in color yet featuring their pattern. 
This is worn for sport and outdoor activities designed to make the 
wearer less conspicuous, to blend with fir and heather. Young boys 
are taught early in life to accustom their eyes to the mists so that 
from far off they may "give halloo" to whatever laird and his men 
are stalking the hills. A large number of Scottish tartans today are 
less than one hundred years old. Some may be dated to the eighteenth 
century, or to the sixteenth, while only a relatively small number 
stem from ancient date. 

While I was in Kmcardineshire, I went for a shoot at Crathes 
Castle, granted to the Burnett family by Robert Bruce in 1323. 
In the library I was fascinated by John Pettie's painting whose 
delineations of stalwart clansmen must hold the imagination of every 
Scottish schoolboy. "The Chief's Candlesticks" is painted in the 
softest colors, yet the brush strokes are vital and sweeping. This 
picture tells the story of a Highland chiefs visit to England when 
he was invited to a banquet in his honour. His host boasted of a 
beautiful candelabrum on the table and remarked that the chief 
could produce nothing so valuable in his Highland castle. "I can 
just, in duplicate," the Highland chief replied. A wager resulted, 
and when the Englishman later visited at Castle Tirrim, which stands 
on a desolate island in Loch Moidart, Inverness, he reminded the 
Chief of it. Immediately the Chief called for two of his tallest, 
brawniest clansmen, who stood on either side of the chiefs chair 
holding aloft lighted torches of pitch pine. Not only did the chief 
win the wager but for generations the living "candlesticks" attended 
their chief at every banquet held in the castle. 

North of Inverness lies the county of Ross and Cromarty, a land of 
windswept moors, where villages of ancient masonry resemble great 
fortifications, an effect created by the walls enclosing middins or 
yards, and tall tower-like chimneys which everywhere identify the 

347 



landscape. It was while staying at a hunting lodge on Loch Duich 
that I ate a monumental haggis served with all the traditional trim- 
mings, including a skirler to pipe it to table, his kilt of the red, 
black, and vivid green MacDonell of Glengarry tartan aswing, his 
pipe music the stirring Glengarry's March. The autumn moon, 
slanting through tall windows into the hall where dinner was served 
picked out, as highlights in a great bravura mural decoration, the 
old silver plate and claymores that hung upon the deerhide-covered 
walls. No national or regional dish I know of causes so much heated 
discussion pro and con as "Tha' braw Haggis." To any "outlander" 
there is no criterion by which he can compare any other with this 
purely Scottish dish. One likes haggis emphatically or one does not. 
The recipe calls for sheep's liver, fats, oatmeal, barley, various spices 
such as cloves and nutmeg, all packed into a sheep's bladder and 
steamed. It is believed to have been invented by Greek mariners, who 
prepared it in quantity and then served it cold. Greeks passed it on to 
the Romans, who brought it to Scotland 2,000 years ago during the 
invasion. To the Romans it was a ceremonial delicacy, and so re- 
mains in the Scottish cuisine to the present day. 

Scottish castles have a peculiar fascination for visitors, owing to 
their prolific variety of styles and the fact that whether inhabited, or 
partially or fully ruined, they harbor exciting romantic traditions. 
Such a castle is Eilean Donan, in Ross and Cromarty, with its lichen- 
gilded tower and rock-wall causeway rising from Loch Duich. An 
ancient stronghold of the Earls of Seaforth, this hoary pile, clad in 
the armor of immemorial quiet, dominates the rocky islet at the foot 
of the loch. 

Castle Sinclair, in Caithness, is built from living rock, rising far 
above the Atlantic rollers that burst in a roar like cannon fire on 
the striated "pillar" rocks that stand sentinel for miles along the 
coast of this county, northernmost and wildest in all Scotland. 
Sutherland, too, lying west of Caithness, is a starkly dramatic 
county, a land of rocks and moors, of secretive lochs and immense 
panoramas. Kinlochbervie and Sandwood, where from my hotel 
window I could see the "red flare for the damned" as the locals call 
the beam of the Cape Wrath Light, are noted Sutherland seaside 
resorts. 

At Strathcarron, in Ross and Cromarty, the wide "fishing country" 
area begins Loch Carron and Loch Maree, with its wonderfully 
unique coloring in surrounding moors and mountains like tartan 

348 



stripes of wide strata of clay red, blue, purple, and yellow. Loch 
Maree Hotel is a fisherman's hangout, notable for its several ways of 
preparing freshly caught trout and salmon. The Torridon Hills I 
have often painted when stopping at a tiny fishing pub, The Gair- 
loch, with its minute bedrooms under the eaves, from where I 
watched the moon rise over the Red Rocks of Gairloch, and could 
not sleep for beauty. 

I turned southward and headed to Loch Lomond for a special 
occasion. A festival was being held on one of the islands which 
spangle the water with vivid greenery. Bunting and bunches of purple 
thistles decorated the arbor where refreshments were served. Bright- 
colored lanterns helped to create a carnival air on the rowboats in 
attendance. Loch Lomond night or day is prodigal in the views 
obtained of mountains, the mysterious shadowy Vale of Leven, and 
the "green plumed islands" in Leven Loch that Dean Swift thought 
the loveliest sight in Scotland. On the summit of Ben Arthur, which 
overlooks part of this area, there is a curiously compelling formation 
of rock. A face sharply defined in profile against the sky is nearly a 
counterpart of ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertete wearing, in this 
massive replica, the same style of high, cylindrical headdress. 

I set out for Loch Awe in Argyll by way of Finnart on Loch Long. 
The great slopes of Ben Lomond and Ben Arthur were shadow- 
patterned in purple and green from stands of fir and dark shading 
to pale lilac-colored heather. The wild view extends up Loch Etive, 
"bathing pool for the feet of towering Ben Cruachan," to the distant 
mountains of Glencoe and its glen of tragic history. The Loch of Awe 
Hotel, perhaps the most luxuriously appointed hostelry in the High- 
lands of Scotland, occupies an enviable position at the eastern arm 
of the lake. From here I could see, partly in drifting mist, partly in 
vivid sunshine, Kilchurn Castle lonely on its island, its gaunt square 
keep a haunt of ancient memories. Here lies history panoplied. Colin 
Campbell of Breadalbane, Black Knight of Rhodes in the fourteenth 
century, is buried here with all his "gewgaws/ 1 The secluded village 
of Ford, the houses washed primrose yellow, seems a sort of golden 
carpet spread at the foot of Fincharn Castle, rising sheer from the 
loch in an atmosphere of forlorn and forgotten majesty. 

Near Dalmally I suggest one visit the most agreeable private hotel 
in the region, Ardbrecknish House, set on a high, natural ramp in 
thickets of rhododendrons variegated in color above the reaches of 
Loch Awe. Mrs. Jean Gairdner runs this old Scottish country house 

35 



with a charming and practiced hand. Anyone who wishes to make 
a headquarters near the Argyll lochs and coastline within easy reach 
of Inveraray or Oban with their route to the isles will find this house 
conveniently situated. The large dining room under the old tower 
is papered in yellow and silver stripes, and furnished with ancestral 
mahogany, the sideboards and tables laid with antique silver plate. 
In this house flowers are everywhere and the food is famous, through- 
out Scotland and beyond, for variety and excellence. 

The road to Inveraray is hilly and replete with panorama of the 
Argyll coast, a honeycomb of inlets, winding bays, and distant 
islands variously distinct in the summer haze. Inveraray is a "person- 
ally built" town erected as a whim after an eighteenth century Duke 
of Argyll had reveled in Italy. The Sea Wall abreast Loch Fyne 
sweeps in a gigantic curve, bordered by the pale-colored houses, the 
scene enhanced by Inveraray Castle, a four-square block, rearing four 
circular towers. It stands amid a park of oaks, spruce, and mountain 
ash, the sheep-cropped lawns massed in a wilderness tangle of crim- 
son, purple, and white rhododendron. 

On my way to Oban, the point of departure for the islands of 
Mull, lona, and Skye, I stopped at Dunstaffnage, the forbear of 
Scottish castledom. Its windows stare emptily out across the Sound 
of Mull and away to the Sea of the Hebrides where lie its foam- 
rimed, legendary islands. 

Oban, called "The Charing Cross of Scotland/' surely is an im- 
portant touring center. Set in a landlocked bay, it is surrounded by 
wooded hills giving widespread views over the lovely Firth of Lome 
and Mull, where the wild swans congregate in immense numbers in 
the reedy shallows. Oban is sheltered from the sea by the "haunted" 
Isle of Kerrera. The town has a wind-washed air, clean, bright, and 
captivating, the climate mild and sunny. The fine shops are renowned 
for silver jewelry set with amethyst and golden topaz from the Cairn- 
gorm Hills. At Dunollie Castle one may see medieval silver-work in- 
cluding the celebrated relic Brooch of Lorn, supposed to have been 
worn by Robert Bruce. 

Few resorts anywhere are better supplied with beautifully situated 
hotels and villas which cater to visitors. Oban is dominated by a 
curiously formed, unfinished monument overlooking the town, which 
many take for either a bull-ring or a coliseum. McCaig Tower, popu- 
larly known as "McCaig's Folly," lends individuality by the sweep 
of its circumference, the columned colonnade pierced by tall arches. 

35 1 



At sunset I walked along Pulpit Hill and looked across Kerrera to the 
Sound of Mull shimmering, molten gold, in the last sunlight, and 
set between the bold outline of the Mountains of Mull and the lonely, 
rose-red Hills of Morven. On the far horizon, beyond this glittering 
gateway, rose the Isle of Mull, of which lona at some remote period 
must have been a part. As one approaches it seems to be continuously 
veiled by spray dashed up in great breaking plumes by giant combers 
forever gnawing at the rock ledges. The scenery on Mull is incom- 
parably richer, varying from drama to gentleness, than that of lona, 
yet the two islands blend into a harmonious whole. 

The roads on Mull are kept in good condition, particularly the 
one beside Loch Scridain to Kinloch near its head. Stay the night at 
the Kinloch Hotel at Pennyghael and eat lobsters boiled in chicken 
stock and crisp oat cakes, and next morning traverse Glen More, the 
Great Glen, a wild, romantic moorland vale, piled indiscriminately 
with natural rock castles with not an occupied house throughout its 
length. Once across the watershed and there lie, like silver links in a 
medieval girdle, a chain of hill lochs famed for crystal clear water. 

Tobermory is a small, sedate village, at the north end of the island, 
the quay cast in shape of a sickle moon. The ancient port is celebrated 
in the minds of men, and intermittently in the news, because of the 
vessel of the Spanish Armada which lies buried deep in the sea oft 
its harbor loaded with "millions in gold bullion, doubloons big as 
the moon," I was told by a quayside oldster. The galleon defies re- 
peated attempts of the ducal family of Argyll to raise her to the 
surface. The name Tobermory is unusual. Tober is the Gaelic for 
a well. Muire is the Gaelic name for the Virgin Mary. In ancient 
spelling is was Tobermuire, the Well of the Virgin Mary. The waters 
of a deep well near the village are said to be medicinal "for cure of 
creaking joints/' 

From the deck of the small steamers that ply daily between Oban 
and lona, the first sight one has of lona is that of soft green and violet 
mountains over which seem perpetually to hover a canopy of white 
clouds very like the exuberant bursts of sun-touched clouds painted 
as a sort of additional halo behind the head of the Virgin Mary in 
baroque or rococo altar pieces. And this is eminently fitting, for the 
architecture of St. Mary's Cathedral triumphs as if a cross had been 
carved from rose quartz; in the small landscape of lona it is almost 
stark. The out-islanders as well as the islanders themselves know this 
cruciform church as "The Lamp That Lighted Pagan Europe." 

35* 



Since remotest days, sacrosanct men have bowed in worship before 
the simple stone altar of this chapel called Cathedral, and often 
strangers sought sanctuary on lona when the shadow of the sword 
lay upon all the lands. The existing abbey was founded in 1203 and 
is partly built from stones of the original hermitage chapel erected 
by St. Columba and his followers in 563. 

The Irish St. Columba was born in 521 at Gartan in County 
Donegal. He walked the roads of Ireland as a hermit preaching 
gentleness, until the day in his forty-second year when he made his 
way with twelve disciples across the sea and landed at lona, according 
to tradition, at Port-na-Churaich (Port of the Coracle) on Saturday, 
the Eve of Pentecost. Even today I felt the essence of St. Columba 
still lingered in the limpid air of lona. He was a remarkable man, 
compact of prince and priest, saint and statesman, man of Christ and 
friend of the people. 

lona is famous for its wells, many of which are the floor of caves. 
Well of the North Wind is a clamorous place of sable shadows. 
Martyr's Well has bronze water giving off a strange odor of decay. 
There is an ancient ivied stone nunnery, shut now, where the nuns 
raised flax and wove linen, seemingly almost as sheer as the mist that 
at early morning veils the landscape to the height of one's knees. 

I hired a fisherman's craft to sail me to Skye. As it tacked around 
a jut of lona, I had my first glimpse of the azure Cuillin Hills of 
Skye, so powerful in mass and undulant in line, but so ethereal in 
color that I scarcely knew whether I was seeing true, or if this was 
a mirage arranged by Fata Morgana. The ancient appellation, Isle 
of Mist, seemed most appropriate on this hot summer afternoon. 

Sun was blazing down on purple heather as I stepped off the boat, 
the warm air seemed drugged with the scent of honey and bog- 
myrtle. The dim, serrated crests of the Cuillins gleamed in astounding 
loveliness against the hot, blue sky, and below these swaths of every 
shade of blue, purple, gold, and rose heather, the bracken thickets 
seemed to race each other down to the foam-rent sea. 

The Clan MacLeod is the hereditary family of Skye. At Dunvegan 
Castle lives, in feudal style, Chieftainess Flora McLeod whose First 
Commandment is, "Thou shalt walk if thou wouldest keep well." 
She most graciously shows to visitors the treasures of the House of 
MacLeod. These are many and various. The Fairy Flag or Bratach 
Shi is foremost, for the fortunes of the family depend upon its sur- 
vival. Tradition says that a fairy wife of one of the chiefs threw it 

353 



over the shoulders of her husband as she left forever the land of 
mortals. She bestowed upon this banner the power of three times 
succoring the chief of his clan, after which an invisible being would 
carry off the magic flag. A family of Clan y Faitter acted as hereditary 
guardian of the banner and bore it in battle, holding in return free 
lands in Barcadale. Numerous times it performed the role of savior 
of the eldest son of the chief. Finally, as Pennant says, "the trophy 
was too tattered for Titania to think it worth sending for. 1 ' Now it is 
jealously guarded and shown with great flourish. The flag is of 
yellow silk with red "leopard" spots diapered upon its surface, a 
wraith of its former splendor, faded and threadbare. The Dunvegan 
Cup is of Irish origin carved from dark bog-oak, ''embroidered" in 
heavy silver filigree once incrusted with precious stones that have long 
since vanished. The walls of the more ancient part of Dunvegan Castle, 
particularly the Water Gate Tower, are extremely massive. In the 
cellars, which now replace the older arched kitchen, with its huge 
fireplace, the walls are eleven feet thick. 

North of Caithness, across Pentland Firth lie the Orkneys, islands 
whose very name smacks of high adventure, carnage, and romance. 
Fought over for centuries by Viking raiders, their tenure, including 
that of Irish migrants and adventuring Scots, Norsemennotably 
saintly Earl Magnus and brutal, deceitful Earl Haakon has been 
various in space of time, always bloody, full of sound and fury. 
"Never peace on the Orkneys" was an often heard phrase in Britain. 
The red sandstone and plum-brown granite headlands of the Orkney 
Islands, rising sheer from the sea, are huddled like a herd of power- 
ful leviathans, to the north of Scotland, sundered from the mainland 
by the dangerous tides of Pentland Firth. 

Kirkwall, a town on a circular bay, has been a Royal Burg of 
Scotland since the sixteenth century. A high set, noble place, its 
eight-hundred-year-old Cathedral of St. Magnus built of blood-red 
sandstone has no counterpart in the British Isles for monolithic 
strength of columns and massive groining in the nave. Earl Haakon's 
Palace is a total ruin; the great chimneys rise like minarets in 
Samarkand against the sky in the center of a gray, sea-swept village. 

Remote and lonely are the remains of the palace built by the 
sixteenth-century Stuart Earls of Orkney, the illegitimate relatives 
of Mary Queen of Scots. In what was once the Great Hall stands still 
intact to the last carved keystone the largest fireplace in Scotland, a 

354 



tremendous exploit in fashioning cavernous stone, in which the 
trunks of fir trees were stood upright to be burned. 

Scapa Flow, scene of the most celebrated "blockade" in history, is 
called hereabouts "the cemetery of rusted ships/* the reference apply- 
ing to ships of the German fleet which were scuttled here in 1919. 

At sunset or in moonlight, The Standing Stones at Stenness, gigan- 
tic survivals of a Druid sacrificial altar, reveal a patterned surface, 
but their significance baffles archeologists. The origin of the Ring of 
Brogar, a circle of unhewn sandstone monoliths, is attributed to 
sun worshipers, who used it as a temple. This ring of stone plinths 
stands stark on that bleak, wine-red moor to impress the civilized 
mind with vast notions of a somber, supernatural power. 

I went down from the seaport of Stromness to take a steamer for 
Ireland. On every hand blue lupins swayed in the wind, more lupins 
than I would have believed could possibly find room to seed. Lupin 
is the "Flower of Orkney" used as a device on the shield of the Stuart 
Earls. As my ship put out into the bay I saw the golden stone hills of 
Hoy, the island where Phoenician mariners once built a temple to 
Eolus, God of the Winds. 

Now I had come to the end of my journeying across England, over 
the witch-haunted mountains of Wales, into the Glens of Antrim in 
Northern Ireland, and across the length and breadth of moors, 
romantic lochs, the purple shadowed heather-swath'd mountains of 
Scotland. What a grand summer it had been. What a wealth of 
history I had evoked and set down on paper with pen and brush. I 
had, in a sense, woven into the arras the legends of the ages, starting 
back in a time when events of men and women were first recorded 
in the British Isles. Scotland slowly faded from my sight, in the light 
of evening, as England, Wales, and Ireland had done in turn from 
my sight yes, for the present, but never from my memory. 



355 




Aaron, Med, 246 
Aaron's House, 246 
Abbey Dove, 178 
Abbot's Bromley, 183 
Abbotsbury, 69 
Abbot's Courthouse, 46 
Aberconwy, 283 
Aberdeen, 343, 344 
Aberfoyle, 321 
Aberystwyth, 293 
Abingdon, 77 

Adam, Robert, 56, 69-70, 80, 81-82, 
152, 172, 230, 235-36, 255, 256, 333 
Adam, William, 324 
Aeneas, 53 
Agricola, xiv 
Aintree, 258 
Aire River, 247 
Albury House, 83 
Aldeburgh, 126 

Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, 240 
Alexander, Viscount, 309 
Alfred the Great, 74 
Algyth, Queen, 204 
Allen, Ralph, 57 
Allington, Lord, 69 
Alloway, 313 
Aln River, 265 
Alnwick, 266 
Alnwick Castle, 265-66 
Alpin, King o the Scots, 346 
Althorp House, 141 
Amanford, 299 
Ambleside, 261 
Anglesey, Isle, 286-89 
Anglo-Saxons, xv 
Anne, Queen, 207 



Anne of Austria, 301-02 
Anne of Bohemia, 130, 144 
Antrim, 304 
Appleford, 17 
Apsley House, 220-21 
Aquae Sulis, 54, 55 
Ardbreecknish House, 350-51 
Argyll Ludging, 337"3 8 
Armagh, 305 
Arniston House, 323 
Arundel, 85, 92 
116, Arundel Castle, 86 
Arun River, 92 
Ascot Race Course, 78 
Ashby Castle, 141 
Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 174 
Asparagus Island, 32 
Atcham, 179 
Athelstan, 31, 86, 269 
Attingham Park, 179 
Audley End, 116 
Avon River, 55, 56, 57 
Aylesbury, 156-57 
Ayr, 313 

Bakewell, 228, 232 
Ballymena, 303 
Balmoral Castle, 344 
Bamburg Castle, 264-65 
B amp ton, 10 
B anbury, 162 
Bangor, 289 

Barham, Richard Harris, 211 
Barnstable Fair, 10 
Barrington, Douglas, 202 
Bath, 53-57 
Battle Abbey, 85 

35 6 



Beauchamp, Guy, Earl of Warwick, 197 

Beauderk, Lord Sidney, 259 

Beaufort, Jane, 335 

Beaulieu Abbey, 72 

Beaulieu Forest, 72 

Beaumaris, 286 

Beaumaris Castle, 76, 286-88 

Becket, St. Thomas, 52-53, 101 

Bedfordshire, 152-54 

Belfast, 300-01 

Belleek, 307 

Belloc, Hilaire, 39 

Berkeley Castle, 188-89 

Berkshire, 77-79 

Berwick, Lord, 179 

Berwick-on -Tweed, 267, 318 

Berwickshire, 318 

Bess of Hardwick, 236 

Bethseda, 289-90 

Bethun, Baldwin de, 108 

Bexhill-on-the-Sea, 94 

Bibury, 192-92 

Birklands-by-Edwinstowe, 239 

Bishop Auckland, 264 

Bishop Lloyd's House, 274 

Bishop's Stortford, 154 

Black Prince's Castle, 4-5 

Bladud, 53-54 

Bladud, Prince, 58 

Blair Atholl, 340-41 

Blair Castle, 340-41 

Blairgowrie, 340 

Blandford, 70 

Blantyre, Lord, 320 

Bleator, 55 

Blenheim Palace, xviii, 207-08 

Bletchingley, 93 

Blickling Hall, 132 

Blundell, Thomas, 234 

Boadicea, Queen, 8-9, 114, 127, 244 

Bodenham, Cecelia, 64 

Bodey, Sir Marmaduke, 123 

Bodiam Castle, 86, 90 

Bodmin Moor, 25, 29 

Bohun, Eleanor de, 155 

Bohun, Margaret de, 14-15 

Bohun, Mary de, 115 

Bokc of the Duchesse, 103 

Boldini, 208 

Boleyn, Anne, 74, 97, 108, 214, 223 

Bolingbroke, Lord, 253 

Bolsover Castle, 234 

Bolten, Thomas, 211 

Bolton Abbey, 247 

Bolventor, 29 

Boscastle, 40 

Bosham, 90-91 



Boston, 136 

Bos worth Field, 142 

Bouchier, Thomas, 108 

Bournemouth, 71-72 

Bourton-on-the- Water, 194 

Bowdin, John, 292 

Bradford, 59 

Bradwell, 232 

Braemar, 343-44 

Brawne, Fanny, 217 

Brecknockshire, 299 

Bredon-upon-Avon, 197-99 

Brigantes, xiv 

Brighton, 93-94 

Brigs tock, 143 

Bristol, 189-90 

British Museum, 54 

Brixham, 8 

Broadway, 201-02 

Broadworthy, 18 

Bronte, Charlotte, 162 

Brooke, Lord, 185 

Broughton Place, 317 

Brown, Capability, 208 

Brown, James, 333 

Bruce, Sir William, 336 

Brude, King, xvi 

Buckinghamshire, 155-61 

Buckland Abbey, 11-12, 24 

Budleigh, 8 

Burgh Castle, 120 

Burghley House, 145-49, 166-67 

Burlington, Lord, 160 

Burlington House, 218 

Burney, Fanny, 92-93 

Burnham Beeches, 155-56 

Burns, Robert, 313 

Burpham, 86 

Burton Agnes Hall, 249 

Burton Pynsent, 45 

Buscot Park, 78 

Bushmills, 301 

Butler, Lady Eleanor, 277 

Butterwick, 246 

Buxton, 229-30 

Byron, Lord, 240, 277, 288 

Bytham, 140 

Caedmon, 250 
Caerleon, 299 
Caernarvon, 283, 284-85 
Caerphilly Castle, 300 
Caesar, Julius, 137, 153, 282 
Caithness, 348 
Caledon Castle, 309 
Calshot, 76 
Cambridge, 137 



357 



Cambridgeshire, 136-38 

Camelford, 37 

Campbell, Colin, 60, 350 

Canewdon, 115-16 

Canmore, Malcolm, 339, 344 

Cannington, 42 

Canterbury, 100-03 

Canterbury Tales, 56, 103 

Canute, King, 42, 90-91, 116 

Cardigan, 295 

Cardigan Bay, 290, 292, 295 

Cardiff, 299-300 

Carhampton, 41 

Carlisle, 262-63, 267 

Carmarthen, 298 

Carmarthenshire, 298 

Caroline of Brunswick, Queen, 84 

Carr, John, 255 

Carrickfergus Castle, xvii, 304-05, 306 

Carrisbrooke Castle, 76 

Carrog, 293 

Carroll, Lewis, 279 

Carstairs, Lady, 195 

Castlemaine, Lady, 56 

Castle Hall, 75 

Castlereagh, Lord, 307 

Caterham, 82 

Catherine, Queen, 64 

Catherine of Aragon, Queen, 149 

Cavell, Edith, 129 

Cavendish, William, 234 

Cecil, William, Lord Burghley, 145, 148 

Ceiriog River, 279 

Cenarth, 295 

Cerne Abbas, 69 

Chaddesley Corbett, 204 

Chambers, Sir William, 333 

Chandos, Hooper, 103 

Channon, Henry, 219 

Charlecote, 163 

Charlecote Park, 164-65 

Charlemagne, 153 

Charles I, 84, 209 

Charles II, 7, 43, 44, 46, 60, 79, 87, 137, 

172, 209, 214, 215, 234, 321 
Charmouth, 69 
Chatsworth, 231-32 
Chatsworth House, 227 
Chaucer, Alice, 212, 213 
Chaucer, Geoffrey, 9, 56, 103, 212, 218 
Cheddar, 49 
Cheddar Gorge, 49 
Cheltenham, 194-96 
Chepstow Castle, 186 
Cheriton Fitzpaine, 17 
Cheshire, 270-74 
Cheshunt, 154 



Chester, 262, 271-74 

Chesterfield, 228, 229 

Chesterton Mills, 164 

Chillingham Castle, 266 

Chippendale, Thomas, 65, 70, 255 

Chipping Campden, 193 

Chipping Norton, 205 

Chirk Castle, 277 

Chithurst, 85 

Chollerford, 262 

Churchill, Charles, 157 

Churchill, John, 207 

Church of St. John the Baptist, 84 

Church of St. Nicholas, 94 

Church of St. Peter Mancroft, 129 

Church Stretton, 178 

Cipriani, 173 

Cirencester, 190-92 

Clandon Park, 83 

Clark, Beau, 209 

Claydon House, 158-61 

Clifford, Rosamund de, 42, 141 

Cligga Head, 37 

Clinton, Geoffrey de, 166 

Clovelly, 18 

Clumber Park, 240 

Clyde River, 338 

Cobbold, Lady, 122 

Cobham, 82 

Cockermouth Hall, 263 

Cockington Court, 11 

Coke, Thomas, 132-33 

Colchester, 9, 114 

Coleridge, Samuel, 261, 262 

Colney Heath, 154 

Colwyn Bay, 279 

Colyton, 8 

Combe Martin, 41 

Compton, Richard, 163 

Compton Wynyates, 163 

Congleton, 270 

Conrad, Joseph, 295 

Constantine, Emperor, 253 

Constantine, King of Scots, 269 

Covent Garden Theatre, 221-22 

Conway, 280-83 

Conway Castle, 280-82 

Conway River, 279, 280, 282 

Coole Castle, 307 

Cooley, Thomas, 309 

Cooper's Hill, 187 

Corfe Castle, 69, 70-71 

Cornwall, Duchy of, 21-40 

Cotehele, 38 

Courson, Robert de, 235 

Courtenay, Hugh de, Earl of Devon, 14-15 

Court Farm, 201 



358 



Coventry, 172 
Cowdray, 85 
Cowes, 75-76 
Cox's Cave, 49 
Craigenputtock, 315 
Craigmillar Castle, 336-37 
Cranmer, Thomas, 108 
Crathes Castle, 347 
Crediton, 10 
Critchel House, 69-70 
Cromwell, Oliver, 202, 234 
Culbone, 43 

Culpeper, Thomas, 214 
Culzean Castle, 312 
Cumberland, 262-64 
Curry Rivel, 45 
Curzon, Sir Nathaniel, 235 
Gwm-hir Abbey, 298 

Dacre, William de, 269, 270 
Dalemain Hall, 269-70 
Dalmally, 350 
Dalmellington, 313 
Dalveen, 314 

Dalyngruge, Sir Edward, go 
Darner, Anne Seymour, 231 
Danvers, Humbolt le, 272 
Daraley, Lord, 256 
Darrell, Phoebe, 4 
Darrington, 253 
Dart Forests, 8 
Dartmoor, 19-20 
Dartmoor Forest, 19 
Dartmoor Plain, 8 
Dartmoor Pony Fair, 10 
Dartmouth, 5-6 
Dartmouth Castle, 6 
Dart River, 19 
Dashwood, Sir Francis, 157 
David, Pere, 153 
David I, King, 329 
David II, King, 320 
Davis, John, 79 
Dean Forest, 187 
Debenham, 126 
Dee River, 272 
Deganwy, 279 
De la Pole, William, 212 
De Laune, William, 107 
De Quincey, Thomas, 262 
Derby, 229, 235 
Derbyshire, 227-38 
Devereux, Penelope, 106, 107 
Devereux, Robert, 89 
De Vere House, 119, 120 
Devonport, 2 
Devonshire, 1-20 



Dickens, Charles, 225 

Dinas Bran Castle, 277 

Dinas Mawddwy, 292 

Ding-Dong Mine, 37 

Doone, Lorna, 43-44 

Dorking, 82, 83 

Dorset, 68-71 

Dorset, Lord, 109, 111 

Dover, 111-12 

Dover Castle, 111-12 

Down County, 307 

Drake, Sir Francis, i, 12, 24-25, 95 

Druids, 26, 62, 277, 355 

Drumburgh Castle, 268-69 

Dudley, Robert, 89, 166-67, 283 

Dudley Castle, 200 

Du Maurier, Daphne, 29 

Du Maurier, George, 217 

Dunbar, 322 

Dundas, Lord, 324 

Dundee, 341 

Dundrum, 307 

Dunfermline Abbey, 339 

Dungannon, 309 

Dunkery Beacon, 44 

Dunluce Castle, 301-02 

Dunnottar Castle, 342 

Dunragit, 310-11 

Dunstaffnage, 351 

Dunstan of Glastonbury, 47 

Dunster, 42 

Dunster Castle, 42 

Dunvegan Castle, 353, 354 

Durham, 263-64 

Durham Cathedral, 263-64 

Dwr, Owain Glyn, 293 

Eanulf, 198 

Eartham, 86 

Easby Abbey, xvii 

Eastbourne, 94 

East Grinstead, 93 

Eddystone Lighthouse, 3-4 

Edinburgh, 323-31, 332-34 

Edith, Queen, 55 

Edward I, 91, 103, 113, 130, 204, 222, 275, 

280-81, 284-85, 286, 287, 290 340 
Edward II, 188, 197, 285 
Edward III, 32, 214 
Edward IV, 171, 193 
Edward VI, 105 
Edward VII, 224 
Edward the Black Prince, 5, 21, 24, 101-02, 

246 

Edward the Confessor, 55 
Edward the Elder, King, 170 
Egbert, King, 64 



359 



Eilean Donan, 348, 349 

Eisenhower, Dwight D., 312-13 

Eleanor, Queen, 287 

Elgin, 344 

Eliot, Edward, 39 

Eliot, Sir John, 38, 40 

Elizabeth I, 1-2, 26, 43, 79, 80, 82-83, 89, 
96, 108, 121-22, 129, 131, 147' 1 5> 1 54"55 
167, 212, 214, 234, 263, 271, 283, 331 

Elizabeth II, 61, 214, 344 

Ely Cathedral, 136-37 

Enfield, 80 

English Spirit, The, 24 

Erasmus, 101, 103 

Essex, 112-17 

Ethelfleda, 170, 174, 272 

Ethelred, 272 

Eton, 79 

Eugenius, King of Strathclyde, 269 

Evelyn, John, 83, 211 

Evesham, 201 

Evershot, 69 

Ewelme, 212-13 

Exeter, 10, 12-16 

Exmoor Vale, 41 

Exmouth, 8 

Eyke, 120-21 

Eynsford, 104 



Fairbanks, Douglas, 220 

Falls, Cyril, 105 

Faringdon, 78 

Fauconberg House, 196 

Fawr Forest, 299 

Fendon, Geoffrey, 176-77 

Fenny Compton, 162 

Ferrers, Walkelyn de, 139 

Festinog, 292 

Figbury Rings, 61 

Filey, 250 

Fincharn Castle, 350 

FitzGilbert de Clare, Richard, 296 

Fitzherbert, Maria, 231-32 

Forde Abbey, 69 

Fortheringhay, 143 

Fortier, Vincent, 321 

Fox, Talbot, 61 

Foyle River, 309 

Framlingham, 123 

Francini brothers, 57 

Francis I, 64 

Frenchtown, 337 

Friston, 126 

Frobisher, Sir Martin, 17-18 

Frodsham, 270 

Froissart, Jean, 158 



Frome River, 52 
Fulbrook Castle, 163 

Gainsborough, Thomas, 19, no, 141 

Gairdner, Jean, 350 

Galashiels, 315 

Galloway, 315 

Galsworthy, John, 217 

Garrison, Sir Eustace, 60 

Gaveston, Piers, 189 

Geoffrey de Monmouth, xv 

George, Lloyd, 293 

George II, 84 

George III, 84 

George IV, 140 

George VI, 140 

Germaine, Lady Betty, 110 

Gibbons, Grinling, 147, 207 

Gilbert, Sir Humphrey, 17 

Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, xvii 

Glamis Castle, 341-42 

Glasgow, 338-39 

Glastonbury, 46-49 

Glastonbury Abbey, 47-48 

Globe Theatre, 217 

Gloucester, 196-97 

Gloucester Cathedral, 196-97 

Gloucestershire, 187-97 

Godiva, Lady, 172, 204 

Godolphin, Sir Francis, 26-27, 35 

Godstone, 82 

Godwin, Earl, 55 

Goldsmith, Oliver, 309 

Goodworth House, 86 

Gough's Cavern, 49 

Grange-over-Sands, 260 

Grantham, 246 

Grasmere, 261 

Gray, Thomas, 158 

Great Brington, 141 

Great Chalfield Hall, 59 

Great Grimsby, 246 

Great Orme, 279 

Great Yarmouth, 131-32 

Greenaway, Kate, 66 

Grenville, Sir Richard, 11 

Gresham, Sir Thomas, 80 

Gresley Plate, 227 

Gretna Green, 263 

Grevel, William, 201 

Greville, Mrs. Ronald, 83 

Grey, Lady Jane, 223 

Griffith, Llewelyn ap, 280 

Griffith, Sir Henry, 249 

Groton, 125 

Guildford, 82-83 

Guy of Warwick, 189 



360 



Gwyn, Nell, 113 
Gwynn, John, 199 

Haddington, 322 

Haddo House, 336 

Haddon Hall, 227, 233-34 

Hadleigh Castle, 114 

Hadrian, Emperor, xv, 265 

Hadrian's Wall, xv, 54, 263, 264, 265, 267, 

268 

Hagley Hall, xviii 
Hakon, Earl, 354 
Halnaker Mill, 84 
Hampshire, 71-76 
Hampton Court, 213-15 
Handlying Synne, 103 
Hardwick Hall, 236 
Harewood House, 255 
Harlech Castle, 290-92 
Harold, King, 111, 204 
Harold's Well, 112 
Harpur, Edward, 237-38 
Harpur, Sir Richard, 236, 237 
Harpur Hall, 236-37 
Harrogate, 254 
Harwich, 9 
Hastings, 92 
Hatchlands, 83 
Hatfield House, 154-55 
Hatton, Sir Jeffrey, 12 
Hatum Bathum, 55 
Haverfield, 191 
Haverfordwest, 295 
Haverhill, 116 

Hawis, Abbess of Wilton, 64 
Hedon, 251 

Helen, Duchess of Northumberland, 83 
Hellens, 177 
Henderskelf, 257 
Henrietta Maria, Queen, 84 
Henry, Earl of Pembroke, 65 
Henry, Prince of Wales, 89 
Henry I, 51, 166, 244 
Henry II, 42, 47-48, 64, 79, 141, 166, 229, 

250, 265 

Henry III, 79, 158, 166, 209, 222 
Henry V, 9, 69, 71, 74, 80, 115, 116, 131, 

132, 156, 265 
Henry VII, 64 
Henry VIII xvii, 11, 12, 14, 46, 64, 74, 

76, 80, 82, 97, 108, 112, 129, 133, 142, 

149, 163, 202, 211, 214, 215 
Henry of Blois, 47 
Henry the Lancastrian, Prince of Wales, 

165 

Heppelwhite, George, 70 
Herbert, Lord George, 66 

36 



Herbert, Sir Richard, 64 
Herbert, Sir William, 64 
Hereford, 177 
Herefordshire, 176-78 
Herlewin, 47 
Hertfordshire, 154-55 
Hever Castle, 97 
Heyer, Georgette, 64 
Heysham, 260 
Hide of Castlefern, 313-14 
Hilda, the White Abbess, 250 
Hill, Rowland, 172-73 
Hinchingbrooke House, 151 
Hobart, Sir Henry, 132 
Hoghton Castle, 259-60 
Holbein, Hans, 64, 87, no 
Holkham Hall, 132-33 
Holland, Henry, 93, 141 
Holme Lacey, 178 
Honiton, 9 

Hood, Robin, 238-39, 241, 248-49 
Hopetown House, 336 
Horse and Pony Fair, 18 
House in the Clouds, 126 
Hove, 94 

Howard, Catherine, 214, 215, 223 
Howard Castle, 257 
Hubberholme Church, 248 
Hudibras, Lud, 53 
Hugh of Avalon, 245 
Hungerford, Lucy, 68 
Hunter, Joseph, 238 
Huntingdon, 150-51 
Huntingdonshire, 149-52 
Hurst, 76 

Hussey, Christopher, 38, 159 
Hussey, Elisabeth C. C,, 184 

Ightham Moat, 99 

Igraine, Duchess of Cornwall, xvi 

Ine, King, 47 

Inveraray, 351 

Inveraray Castle, 351 

Inverfarigaig, 345 

lona, 352-53 

Iping, 85 

Ipswich, 121 

Ireland, 300-09 

Ironside, Edmund, 116 

Isabel of France, Queen, 73, 74, 188-89 

Islely, Alice, 77 

Isle of Wight, 75-76 

James, Duke of York, 318-19 
James I, 111, 137, 259> 335 
James III, 345 
James V, 335 



James of Scotland, Prince, 88 

Jeffries, Judge, 44 

John, King, 72, 85, 134, 166 

John, Prince, 202 

John I of France, King, 246 

John of Gaunt, 193, 201, 260 

Johnson, T., 56 

Jones, Inigo, 65, 133, 204 

Jonson, Ben, 112, 169 

Joseph of Arimathea, 47, 48 

Justus, Bishop of Rochester, 104 

Keats, John, 217, 300 

Kedleston Hall, 235-36 

Keigwin Manor, 30 

Kendal, 261 

Kenilworth Castle, 166-67 

Kensington Square, 216-17 

Kent, 96-112 

Kent, William, 65, 133 

Kent River, 261 

Kersey, 125 

Kettle Ness, 251 

Kettlewell, 247-48 

Kew, 83-84 

Keynsham, 58 

Kidwelly, 298 

Kilchurn Castle, 350 

Kilmorack, 345 

Kimbolton, 149 

Kincardine, 342-43 

Kindrochit Castle, 344 

King's Langley, 154 

King's Lynne, 133-36 

Kingston-upon-Thames, 82 

King's Weston, 189-90 

Kinloch, 352 

Kipling, Rudyard, 86, 149 

Kircudbrigh tshire, 313-15 

Kirk, Colonel, 44 

Kirkbuddo, 340 

Kirklees Park, 248-49 

Kirkwall, 354 

Kneller, Sir Godfrey, no, 141, 232 

Knole Manor, 107-11 

Knowsley Hall, 259 

Knox, John, 329 

Laguerre, 147, 208 
Lamb, Lady Caroline, 277 
Lammas Fair, 10 
Lamorna, 31 
Lancashire, 257-61 
Lancaster, 260 
Landseer, Sir Edwin, 339 
Land's End, 22, 25 
Langton, Stephen, 85 



362 



Langtree, 18 

Lanhydrock House, 30 

Lascelles, Edwin, 255 

Laugharne, 298 

Launceton, 40 

Launceston Castle, 24, 40 

Lawrence, Sir Thomas, 221 

Lawrence Weston, 189 

Laycock, 61 

Lay cock Abbey, 61 

Lay of the Last Minstrel, 25 

Leamington Spa, 172 

Leconfield, Lord, 87 

Legh, Sir Piers, 270 

Leicester, 174 

Leicester, Earl of, 121 

Leicestershire, 174-76 

Leighten, Ann, 68 

Lely, Sir Peter, no, 141, 232 

Lennoxlove, 320-21 

Leofric, Earl, 172, 204 

Leominster, 176-77 

Leoni, Giacomo, 83, 270 

Lersia, Queen, 53 

Lethington Castle, 320-21 

Levenham, 118-20 

Lexus, Junius, 186 

Leyden, Lucas van, 66 

Lightfoot, Peter, 50 

Lincoln, 243-46 

Lincolnshire, 241-46 

Lindisfarne Priory, xvii 

Linlithgow Palace, 334-36 

Liskeard Castle, 24 

Little Rother River, 84-85 

Little Wyrley House, 184 

Liverpool, 257-58 

Lizard Light, 31-32 

Llanberis, 278 

Llandudno, 279 

Llanfair, 289 

Llangollen, 277 

Llanstephen, 298 

Llanthony Priory, 185-86 

Llechryd, 295 

Loch Awe, 350 

Loch Duich, 348 

Loch Lomond, 350 

Loch Ness, 345 

London, 215-26 

Londonderry, 307 

Long Itchington, 163 

Longleat, 59, 60-61, 236 

Long Melford, 123 

Looe, 27 

Losinga, Bishop Herbert de, 133 

Lough of Neagh, 304 



Louis XIV, 3 

Lovell, Francis, 194 

Lovett, Anna Burr, 233 

Lower Brockhampton Hall, 177-78 

Lower Slaughter, 203 

Ludlow, Laurence de, 181, 182 

Ludlow Castle, 180-81 

Ludstone Hall, 181 

Lullingstone Castle, 104 

Luton Hoo, 152 

Luttrell Psalter, 136 

Lydiard Tregoze, 66-68 

Lydney, 187 

Lygon Arms, 202 

Lyme Park, 270 

Lyme Regis, 69 

Lyminge, Robert, 132 

Lynmouth, 41 

Lynn, 136 

Lyonnesse, 25-26 

Lyte, Sir Henry, 43, 45 

Lytes Gary, 43 

Lyveden New Build, 143-44 

Mablethorpe, 246 

Macclesfield, 270 

MacDonald, Flora, 314 

MacGregor, Rob Roy, 346 

Macha, Queen, 305 

Madoc, Llewelyn ap, 277 

Maitland, Sir Richard, 319 

Maltby, Sir Ralph, 11 

Malvern Priory, 200-01 

Manchester, 259 

Mannyng, Robert, 103 

Mantom, 140 

Mansfield, 240 

Manvers, Earl, 240 

Manx sheep, 164 

Marazion, 34 

Mark, King, 35 

Market Bosworth, 174 

Market Har borough, 174 

Marlestone, 141 

Marshall, Ben, 259 

Mary, Queen of Scots, 90, 143, 255, 263, 

3 2 9> 330-31' 335' 336-37* 339. 34^ 
Maryport, 263, 270 
Mathew, Abbot, 316 
Matulant, Sir Richard de, 318 
Maybole, 312-13 
McAlpine, Kenneth, 346 
McCaig Tower, 351 
McLeod, Flora, 353 
McNabb, Angus, 311 
Mead Hall, 30 
Melling, John, 217 



Melrose Abbey, 315-17 

Melton Mowbray, 176 

Mendip Hills, 52 

Merchant Tailors' Hall, London, 216 

Mere, 63 

Mereworth, 97-99 

Mereworth Castle, 96 

Merionethshire, 289 

Middlesex, 80-82 

Middleton Dale, 228 

Minchinhampton, 192 

Minehead, 41 

Minster Lovell, 194 

Mitchell, Sir John, 254 

Mohun, Reginald de, 42 

Mohun, William de, 42 

Molino, Vicolo, no 

Monkleigh, 18 

Monmouth, Duke of, 44 

Montacute, 43 

Montacute House, 42 

Moot Hall, 126 

Mop Fair, 10 

More, Thomas, 223 

Moreland, George, 187 

Moreton, William, 271 

Moreton-in-the-Marsh, 193 

Moreton Old Hall, 270-71 

Morris, Robert, 65 

Morte d' Arthur, 26 

Mount's Bay, 32 

Mount Stewart House, 307 

Mousehole, 30 

Muchelney, 45 

Muchelney Abbey, 44, 45 

Much Marcle, 177 

Much Wenlock, 180 

Mull, Isle, 352 

Murrell, Cunning, 114 

Musselburgh, 322 

Mylestone, Margaret, 319-20 

Mylne, Robert, 319 

Nadder River, 65 

Nailsea, 51 

Nash, John, 93, 179, 309 

Navarro, Mary Anderson, 201 

Nelson, Horatio, Lord, 72 

Nene River, 136 

Nero, Emperor, 229 

Nesta, Princess of Wales, 296 

Netley, 76 

Newark Castle, 240 

Newark-on-Trent, 240 

Newby Bridge, 261 

Newcastle Emlyn, 295 

Newcastle-on-Tyne, 265 



New Forest, 72-73 
New Grove House, 217 
Newlyn, 31 
Newmarket, 137 
Newport, 76, 113, 186 
Newstead Abbey, 240 
Newtownstewart, 309 
Nicholson, Lady, 98, 99 
Niewe Herballe, 43, 45 
Nightingale, Florence, 159, 160 
Nightingale, Frances Parthenope, 159 
Norfolk, 127-36 
Northamptonshire, 139-49 
Northern Caledonians, xv 
North Riding, 256-57 
Northumberland, 264-66 
Norton St. Philip, 44-45 
Norwich, 127-31 
Nostell Priory, 256 
Nottingham, 240-41 
Nottinghamshire, 227-29, 238-41 
Nunney, 51-52 

Oakham, 139-40 

Oakham Castle, 139-40 

Oare Church, 43-44 

Oare Post, 43 

Oban, 351 

Offa of Mercia, King, 198 

Oldbury, 188 

Old Husband Castle, 295 

Oliver, Isaac, 89 

Omagh, 309 

Orford, Lady, 154-55 

Orford Church, 122 

Orkneys, 354-55 

Orveton, Sir Guy de, 180-81 

Osterley Park, 80-81 

Oswald, King, 256 

Otford-Shoreham, 100 

Otterton, 8 

Ottery St. Mary, 10-11 

Owen, Daniel, xvi 

Oxford, 209-12 

Oxford Canal, 208 

Oxfordshire, 162, 205-15 

Paddock, 100 
Paignton-by-the-Sea, 5, 7 
Paine, James, 235, 256 
Pakenham, 126 
Pakenham, Lady Kitty, 220 
Palladio, Andrea, 60, 172, 270 
Palmer, Sir Thomas, 89 
Papplewick, 240 
Parham Park, 86, 88-90 
Parisi, xiv 



Parr, Ann, 64 

Parr, Catherine, 202, 203, 214, 261 

Parry, 281 

Pater, Walter, 209 

Patrington, 251 

Pearson, Clive, 89 

Peasenhall Old Church, 122-23 

Pelagius, 39 

Pembroke Castle, 296 

Pembroke River, 296 

Pembrokeshire, 296 

Pendragon, Arthur, xvi, 25, 26, 37-38, 47, 

48-49 

Pendragon, Uther, xvi 
Penhale, 37 
Penn, 158 
Penn, Joseph, 158 
Penn, Thomas, 158 
Penn, William, 158 
Pennyghael, 352 
Penshurst Place, 96, 104-07 
Pentland Hills, 323 
Penzance, 22, 32-34 
Pepys, Samuel, 61, 215 
Perranporth, 22-23 
Pershore Abbey, 200 
Perth, 339-40 
Perthshire, 321 
Peterborough Cathedral, 144 
Petersfield, 84 
Petronius, 229 
Pettie, John, 347 
Petworth, 87-88 
Pevensey Castle, 88 
Peveril Castle, 229 
Philip, Earl of Pembroke, 66 
Philip VI, 5 
Philip of Spain, 76 
Picts, xiii 

Piggot, Professor, 62 
Pilgrim Fathers, 4 
Pilgrim's Inn, 46 
Pitt, William, 45, 94, 208 
Pitt, William, the younger, 324 
Plas Newydd, 277, 288-89 
Pliny the Elder, 137, 282 
Plymouth, 2-5 
Poitiers, Diane de, 66 
Polesden Lacey, 83 
Polperro, 22 
Pomeroy, 309 

Ponsonby, Hon. Sarah, 277 
Pontefract Castle, 253 
Pontrilas, 178 
Pontypool, 186 
Poole, 71 
Porlock, 41-42 



364 



Portballintrae, 301 

Portchester Castle, 73-74 

Portcurno, 27 

Port Eliot, 38-40 

Porthcurnow, 22 

Porth Dinlleyn, 283-84 

Porthtowan, 22, 37 

Port-na-Spania, 302-03 

Portreath, 37 

Praed, William Mackworth, 16 

Prescot, 259 

Preston Mill, 318 

Princeton, 19 

Pulteney, Sir John, 104 

Purton, 66 

Pynsent, Sir William, 45 

Raby Castle, 264 

Radnorshire, 298 

Raglan Castle, 186 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 75, 150, 211 

Rattray, 340, 341 

Register House, 333 

Remigius, 245 

Restormel Castle, 24 

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 40, 57, 66, no, 

*99 

Rezzonico, Cardinal, 219 
Rhodes, Cecil, 211 
Riccio, David, 329 
Richard, Duke of Normandy, 35 
Richard, Earl of Cornwall, 24, 158 
Richard II, 127, 130, 144, 253, 272 
Richard III, 96, 140 
Richard of York, 142 
Rievaulx Abbey, xvii 
Rivers, Lord, 73 
Rizzio, 336 

Robartes, Lord of Truro, 30 
Robert of Locksley, 238, 239 
Robert of Mortain, 23-24, 88 
Robert the Bruce, xvii, 312, 339 
Robillet-La Tour, Vicomtesse de, 78 
Robinson, Sir Thomas, 160 
Rochester, 97, 103-04 
Rockingham Castle, 143 
Rogate, 85 

Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, 51 
Roman conquest, xiv 
Romney, George, no, 141 
Romsey, 73 
Rossend Castle, 339 
Rossetti, Gabriel, 217 
Rostrevor, 307 
Rother River, 90 
Rougemont Castle, 15-16 
Rowse, C. N., 24 



Roxburghshire, 318 

Royal Bothanical Gardens, 83 

Royal Grant Fairs, 8-9 

Royal Scottish Museum, 332-33 

Rufford Abbey, 241 

Rutlandshire, 139 

Rydal Water, 261 

Rye, 94-95 
Rye Dale, 253 
Rysbrack, 39 

Sackville, Sir Richard, in 
Sackville, Thomas, in 
Sackville-West, Victoria, 98, 99 
Saffron Walden, 113, 116 
St. Andrews, 339 
St. Augustine, 104 
St. Austell, 29 
St. Briavels, 187-88 
St. Clear, 22 
St. Columba, xvi, 353 
St. David's, 296-98 
St. Devereux, 178 
St. Erth, 22 
St. George's Hall, 136 
141, St. Germans, 21 

St. Germans River, 39 

St. Germanus d'Auxerre, 38-39 

St. Giles Cathedral Church, 327-28 

St. Giles Hospital, 129-30 

St. Helen's, 75 

St. la, 36 

St. Ives, 36-37 

St. John, Sir John, 67, 68 

St. Just, 27 

St. Keyne, 58 

St. Levan, Lord, 35 

St. Margaret's Fair, 9 

St. Martin's, 26 

St. Mary Magdalene's Church, 157 

St. Mary's, Scilly Islands, 26-27, 28 

St. Michael's Kirk, 336 

St. Michael's Mount, 32, 33, 34-36 

St. Nicholas* Church, 115-16 

St. Peter's-on-the-Wall, 114-15 

St. Saviour, 5 

St. Serf Abbey, 339 

St. Winnow, 22 

Salcomb Regis, 8 

Salisbury, 63 

Salisbury Cathedral, 63 

Salisbury Plain, 61 

Salterton, 8 

Sampford Brett, 52 

Sandsend, 250 

Sandwich, Lord, 151 

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, 207 

365 



Saundersfoot, 298 

Saxtead Green, 126 

Scapa Flow, 355 

Scarborough, 250-51 

Stilly Islands, 25, 26-27 

Scone Palace, 339-40 

Scotland, 310-31, 332-42 

Scott, Sir Giles Gilbert, 257 

Scott, Sir Walter, 25, 202, 230, 346 

Scout Hall, 253-54 

Seaford, 94 

Selkirkshire, 315 

Selwood, John, 46 

Sevenoaks Manor, 108 

Severie, Pierre, 206 

Severn River, 178, 199 

Seymour, Jane, 214 

Shakespeare, William, 80, 149, 162, 164-65, 

169, 290, 341 
Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, 165, 167- 

169 

Shaldon, 8 

Sharington, Sir William, 61 
Sharpenhoe, 152 
Sharpness, 188 
Sharsted Court, 107-08 
Sheen House, 80 
Sheffield, 255 
Sheffield Castle, 255 
Shelley, Percy B., 211 
Sheraton, Thomas, 70 
Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 203-04, 250, 

288 

Sherwood Forest, 238-40 
Shlpton-under-Wychwood, 205-06 
Shire horse, 150 
Shoreham-by-Sea, 88 
Shrewsbury, 179 
Shrewsbury, Lady, 146 
Shropshire, 178-82 
Siculus, Diodorus, 34 
Siddons, Sarah, 57, 123, 277 
Sidney, Sir Henry, 106 
Sidney, Sir Philip, 96, 105, 106-07, 24 1 
Sidney, Sir William, 105 
Sidmouth, 8 
Simonsbath, 44 
Sinclair Castle, 348 
Sissinghurst Castle, 97-99 
Skegness, 246 
Skillicorne, Captain, 196 
Skye, 353-54 
Slaughter Bridge, 37 
Slindon, 85 
Smarden, 99-100 
Smisby, 230-31 
Smith, Francis, 173 



Smythe, Lady Dorothy, 172 
Snowdonia, 279-80 
Snowhill, 202-03 
Somerleyton Hall, 121-22 
Somerset, 41-57 
Somerton, 43 
Somerton Castle, 246 
Sompting, 88 
Sonning, 78 
Sou they, Robert, 261 
Southsea, 76 
Southwell, 241 

Southwell, Sir Edward, 189-90 
Spear Hold, 44 
Speke Hall, 258-59 
Spencer, Edmund, 83, 282 
Spencer, Elizabeth, 66 
Spencer, Georgiana, Duchess of Devon- 
shire, 19, 141 
Spencer, Sir Thomas, 206 
Spalding, 136 

Spanish Armada, 1-2, 86, 95, 164, 303, 352 
Staffordshire, 183-86 
Staffordshire pottery, 184-85 
Staindorp, 264 
Staines, 79-80 
Staithes, 250 
Stanford-le-Hope, 112 
Stanley Palace, 274 
Slanton Court, 203 
Stanway House, 204 
Stapleford Park, 176 
Star Castle, 27 
Stedham, 85 
Stephen, King, 42 
Steuart, George, 179 
Stevenage, 154-55 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 327 
Stilton, 149 
Stirling, 337-38 
Stoke Poges, 158 
Stokesay Castle, 181-82 
Stonehaven Old Port, 342 
Stonehenge, 62-63 
Stoneleigh Abbey, 172-74 
Stony Stratford, 157 
Stow-on-the-Wold, 193-94 
Stranraer, 310 
Strata Florida Abbey, 295 
Stratfield Saye House, 73 
Stratford-on-Avon, 162, 165, 167-69 
Strathcarron, 348-50 
Streatley, 78 
Stromness, 355 

Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, xvi 
Stuart, Charles, xvii, 76 
Stuart, Frances, 321 



3 66 



Stuart, La Belle, 320-21 
Sudeley Castle, 203 
Suffield, Bishop, 129 
Suffolk, 118-27 
Suffolk Punch, 124-25 
Sulgrave Manor, 142 
Sunderland-on-the-Lune, 260-61 
Surrey, 82-84 
Sussex, 84-95 
Sutherland, 348 
Sutton-on-Sea, 246 
Swimbridge, 17 
Swincombe River, 20 
Syon House, 80, 81-82 

Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, 204 

Tamar River, 4, 21, 24, 38 

Tantallon Castle, 318 

Tarff River, 311 

Taunton, 44 

Tavistock Goosey Fair, 9 

Teifi River, 295 

Teignmouth, 8 

Telford, Thomas, 199 

Teme River, 180 

Temple Newsam, 255-56 

Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 26 

Tewkesbury Abbey, 165-66 

Thames River, 215 

Thatcham, 78 

Theale, 78 

Thirlestane Castle, 318-19 

Thomas, Sir Brumwell, 300 

Thomas of Bayeaux, 251 

Thoresby, 240 

Thornhill, 208 

Thornton Abbey, 241-43 

Thorpe, John, 43 

Thorpeness, 126 

Thurstin, Abbot, 47 

Thynne, Sir John, 60 

Tiepolo, 219 

Tijou, 149 

Tintagel, 37-38 

Tintagel Castle, xv 

Tin tern Abbey, 185, 300 

Tir-Eoghain, 309 

Tobermory, 352 

Tollis Hill, 319-20 

Tonbridge, 97 

Torquay, 6-8 

Totnes, 6-7 

Tower of London, 3*3-24 

Tregaron, 295 

Trematon Castle, 23-25 

Trent River, 240 

Tresham, Sir Thomas, 143-44 



367 



Trevose Head, 22 
Troilus and Criseyde, 103 
Tropnell, Thomas, 59 
Truro, 29-30 
Tudor, Jasper, 186 
Tudor, Mary, 76 
Tynemouth Priory, xvii 
Tyrone County, 309 

Ulster, 303-09 
Upper Slaughter, 203 
Uppingham, 140-41 
Urquhart Castle, 345 

Valerius, Caius, 282 

Vanbrugh, Sir John, 189, 190, 207, 257 

Vanderbilt, Consuelo, 208 

Van Dyck, Sir Anthony, 65, 87, no, 141, 

232, 258 
Velasquez, 232 
Verney, Sir Edmund, 159 
Verney, Sir Francis, 159 
Verney, Sir Harry, 159 
Verney, Sir John, 159 
Verney, Sir Ralph, 159 
Verney, Tom, 159 
Veronese, Paolo, 146 
Verrio, 148 

Victoria, Queen, 94, 140 
Villiers, Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland, 7, 

60-61 

Wales, 274-85, 286-300 

Walpole, Horace, 87, 132, 146, 231 

Walsgrave-on-Sowe, 172 

Walsingham, Frances, 107 

Walter the Geraldine, xvi 

Warbeck, Perkin, 44 

Warburton, Peter, 274 

Ward, Robert, 146 

Ware, 154 

Warwick, 171-72 

Warwick Castle, 79, 169-71 

Warwickshire, 162-74 

Washington, George, 142 

Washington, Laurence, 209 

Washington, Lawrence, 142 

Watermen's Hall, London, 215-16 

Watson, Henry, 228 

Wearyall Hill, 46, 47 

Week St. Mary, 25 

Welbeck Abbey, 241 

Wellington, Duke of, 73, 220, 277 

Wells, 49-51 

Wells Cathedral, 50-51 

Welsh Marshes, xvi 

Wembury, 5 



Wenham Grange, 126-27 

Wensleydale, 248 

Wentworth Woodhouse, 228 

Wernher, Sir Julius, 152 

West Burton, 248 

Westminster Abbey, 222-23 

Westmoreland, 261-62 

Weston Zoyland, 45 

West Shefford, 78 

Westward Ho, 17, 18 

West Wy combe Park, 157 

Weymouth, 69 

Wharfe River, 247 

Whistler, Rex, 288 

Whitby Abbey, 249-50 

Whitehead, Paul, 157 

Whitestone Hills, 13 

Whiting, Abbot, 46 

Widdecombe Moor, 18 

Wigtown, 312 

Wild Hill, 154 

William, Duke of Suffolk, 212 

William II, 262 

William III, 217 

William the Conqueror, 15, 24, 72, 79, 88, 

112, 170, 205, 235, 244, 245, 251, 253, 

260 

William of Poitiers, 111 
William of Wykeham, 74 
Wilmington, 88 
Wilson, Richard, 314 
Wilston House, 64-66 
Wilton, 63-66 
Wiltshire, 58-71 
Winchelsea, 91 
Winchester, 74-75 
Winchcombe, 203 
Windo, Tom, 187 
Windsor Castle, 79 
Winn, Sir Rowland, 256 
Winsford, 43 
Winstanley, Henry, 3-4 
Winthrop, John, 125 
Winton House, 336 
Wirksworth Church, 232 



Wisbech, 136, 138 

Wissenden, 140 

Witham River, 244 

Woburn Abbey, 152-54 

Wolfe, General James, 56 

Wolf Rock Lighthouse, 26 

Wolsey, Cardinal, 211 

Wolsey's Castle, 74 

Wolvey, 172 

Wood, John, the Elder, 57 

Woodham Ferres, 114 

Woodruff, Henry, 228 

Woodstock, 207 

Woolbeding, 85 

Woolpit, 126 

Worcester, 199-200 

Worcester Cathedral, 200 

Worcestershire, 197-204 

Wordsworth, William, 261 

Wrangle, 246 

Wren, Sir Christopher, 74, 171, 211, 217 

Wrightman, Jessie, 126 

Wyatt, Benjamin, 73, 220 

Wyatt, James, 69, 73, 86, 230, 288 

Wye River, 227 

Wyndham, Florence, 52 

Wynne, Robert, 283 

Xenophon, 234 

Yale, Elihu, 274 
Yale, Thomas, 274 
Yardy, Richard, 171 
Yarmouth, 76, 120 
Yarnton Manor, 206 
Yatton, 51 
Yelverton, 20 
Yetminster, 69 
York, 251-53 
Yorkshire, 247-57 
Ypres Tower, 94-95 
Ystradgynlais, 293 

Zucchero, 89 
Zucchi, 81 



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120 185