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VANISHING 
ENGLAND 

P-HDITCHFIELD 

AND 

FRED ROE 




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 





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The George Inn, Norton St. Philip, Somerset 



VANISHING 
ENGLAND 



THE BOOK 



BY 



P. H. DITCHFIELD 

M.A., F.S.A., F.R.S.L., F.R.HIST.S. 

THE ILLUSTRATIONS 

BY 

FRED ROE, R.T. 




Canopy over Doorway of Buckingham House, Portsmouth 



METHUEN & GO. LTD. 

36 ESSEX STREET W. C. 

LONDON 

Second Edition 



First Published . , October ijth, igio 
Second Edition . . ign 



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630 






PREFACE 
TO THE SECOND EDITION 

THE publication of a second edition of this book 
enables me to express ray most grateful thanks 
to many readers who have kindly written to me 
of their appreciation of the object of this work, the record- 
ing of ancient buildings, old customs and other relics of 
antiquity, and the rescuing from the oblivion with which 
they are threatened by the utilitarianism of our latter-day 
civilisation. I desire also to thank many others for the 
interest they have shown in the book, and the numerous 
reviewers who have encouraged both author and artist by 
their praise, and assisted by their wise counsel. Some 
have imagined that the book was intended to be compre- 
hensive, that every old building, bridge, hall, cottage, 
custom, etc. should have found a place in these pages. 
We need not remark that such a scheme would be far too 
vast for a volume of this size, and that a library of books 
and an army of artists and observers would not be too 
much for so comprehensive a survey. We can only record 
what we have seen and known. We have selected many 
examples in many shires. It would be well if readers in 
their own districts would complete the record, and prepare 
such a list of ancient buildings that would be of immense 
service to the Historical Monuments Commission when 
the time arrives for the survey to be made. The Com- 
mission will be successful in rescuing many valuable 
remains of historic and national interest, and our only 
regret is that its work was not begun a long time ago. 
Much valuable time has been lost. Many years must 



Vll 



72 



viii VANISHING ENGLAND 

elapse before it will have completed its labours. In the 
meantime we should be glad to welcome any additions or 
corrections of statements in this book. In the present 
edition several slips and errors have been amended, and 
it has been our effort to make this work a permanent record 
of " the things that remain and are ready to fall," and to 
increase the interest taken in them by the people of England. 

Perhaps I may be allowed to reply to one or two criti- 
cisms. One reviewer fondly imagines that "however 
useful the book might have been twenty years ago, it is 
no longer needed, as local authorities and individuals are 
fairly educated up to the necessity for preserving relics of 
the past." As a comment on this I may say that taking 
up an evening paper, just after reading the review, I 
noticed two acts of gross vandalism performed by town 
councils ; and if the reviewer ever reads the notes in the 
Antiquary, month by month, his confidence will be a 
little shaken. 

A generous reviewer, while sympathising with and 
sharing the views expressed in this book, believes that 
they, if carried to their logical conclusion, would undo all 
that has been done by civilisation to amend the state of 
humanity, and quotes my remarks about Vyrnwy and the 
Liverpool water supply. He says rightly, "to save the 
life of one slum child is far more important than would be 
the drowning of all the graves in Wales." There can 
be no question about that. All we contend for is the con- 
servation of the ancient features of England and of the 
English life of the past, where that is possible without 
detriment to present or future generations of mankind, to 
prevent wanton and foolish destruction, to reverence 
antiquity, and to preserve as much of the England that is 
vanishing as the requirements of the present and the 
future will permit. 

P. H. DITCHFIELD 

Barkham Rectory, Berks 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PACE 

I. Introduction . . . i 

II. The Disappearance of England . . 15 

III. Old Walled Towns . . . . 28 

IV. In Streets and Lanes . . . . 67 
V. Old Castles . . . . .111 

VI. Vanishing or Vanished Churches . . 133 

VII. Old Mansions ..... 166 

VIII. The Destruction of Prehistoric Remains . 203 

IX. Cathedral Cities and Abbey Towns . . 210 

X. Old Inns ..... 230 

XI. Old Municipal Buildings . . . 266 

XII. Old Crosses . . . . . 283 

XIII. Stocks and Whipping-Posts . . . 306 

XIV. Old Bridges. . . . . . 318 

XV. Old Hospitals and Almshouses . . . 333 

XVI. Vanishing Fairs . . ... 349 

XVII. The Disappearance of old Documents . . 364 

XVIII. Old Customs that are Vanishing . . 375 

XIX. The Vanishing of English Scenery . . 383 

XX. Conclusion . . . . . . 392 

Index ....... 399 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



The George Inn, Norton St. Philip, Somerset . . Frotitispiece 

Canopy over Doorway of Buckingham House, Portsmouth . Title page 

Rural Tenements, Capel, Surrey . . ... 4 

Detail of Seventeenth-century Table in Milton's Cottage, Chalfont 

St. Giles .... 

Seventeenth-century Trophy . 

Old Shop, formerly standing in Cliffe High Street, Lewes 
Paradise Square, Banbury 

Norden's Chart of the River Ore and Suffolk Coast 
Disused Mooring-post on bank of the Rother, Rye 
Old Houses built on the Town Wall, Rye 
Bootham Bar, York 
Half-timbered House with early Fifteenth-century Doorway, King's 

Lynn, Norfolk .... 
The " Bone Tower," Town Walls, Great Yarmouth 

Row No. S3, Great Yarmouth 

The Old Jetty, Gorleston 

Tudor House, Ipswich, near the Custom House . 

Three-gabled House, Fore Street, Ipswich 

" Melia's Passage," York 

Detail of Half-timbered House in High Street, Shrewsbu 
Tower on the Town Wall, Shrewsbury 

House that the Karl of Richmond stayed in before the Battle of 
Bosworth. Shrewsbury . 

Old Houses formerly standing in Spon Street, Coventry 

West Street, Rye .... 

Monogram and Inscription in the Mermaid Inn, Rye 

Inscription in the Mermaid Inn, Rye 

Relic of Lynn Siege in Hampton Court, King's Lynn 

Hampton Court, King's Lynn, Norfolk 

Mill Street, Warwick 

Tudor Tenements, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford (now demolished) 

Gothic Corner-post. The Half Moon Inn, Ipswich 

Timber-built House, Shrewsbury 

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VANISHING ENGLAND 



Missbrook Farm, Capel, Surrey . . . . 

Cottage at Capel, Surrey ..... 
Farm-house, Horsmonden, Kent . . . 

Seventeenth-century Cottages, Stow Langtoft, Suffolk 
The "Fish House," Littleport, Cambs. 

Sixteenth-century Cottage, formerly standing in Upper Deal, Kent 
Gable, Upper Deal, Kent ..... 
A Portsmouth " Row" . . ... 

Lich-gate, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks .... 
Fifteenth-century Handle on Church Door, Monk's Risborough, Buck 
Weather-boarded Houses, Crown Street, Portsmouth 
Inscription on Font, Parish Church, Burford, Oxon 
Detail of Fifteenth-century Barge-board, Burford, Oxon . 
The George Inn, Burford, Oxon . . . . 

Maldon, Essex. Sky-line of the High Street at twilight . 
St. Mary's Church, Maldon ..... 
Norman Clamp on door of Heybridge Church, Essex 
Tudor Fire-place. Now walled up in the passage of a shop in Banbury 
Cottages in Witney Street, Burford, Oxon 
Burgh Castle, Suffolk . . . . 

Caister Castle, Norfolk ..... 

Defaced Arms, Taunton Castle . . . . 

Knightly Basinet {temp. Henry V) in Norwich Castle 
Saxon Doorway in St. Lawrence's Church, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts 
St. George's Church, Great Yarmouth . . . . 

Carving on Rood-screen, Alcester Church, Warwick 
Fourteenth-century Coffer in Faversham Church, Kent 
Flanders Chest in East Dereham Church, Norfolk, temp. Henry VIII 
Reversed Rose carved on "Miserere" in Norwich Cathedral 
Oak Panelling. Wainscot of Fifteenth Century, with addition circa 
late Seventeenth Century, fitted on to it in angle of room in the 
Church House, Goudhurst, Kent . . . . . 

Section of Mouldings of Cornice on Panelling, the Church House, 

Goudhurst .... 

The Wardrobe House, the Close, Salisbury 
Chimney at Compton Wynyates 
Window-catch, Brockhall, Northants . 
Gothic Chimney, Norton St. Philip, Somerset 
The Moat, Crowhurst Place, Surrey 

Arms of the Gaynesfords in window, Crowhurst Place, S 
Cupboard Hinge, Crowhurst Place, Surrey 
Fixed Bench in the hall, Crowhurst Place, Surrey 
Gothic Door-head, Goudhurst, Kent . 



PAGE 

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. 168 


• 


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• 


176 


• 


■77 


■ 


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urrey . 


181 


. 


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• 


183 


. 


184 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Xlll 



Knightly Basinet [temp. Henry V) in Norwich Castle 
Hilt of Thirteenth-century Sword in Norwich Museum 
" Hand-and-a-half " Sword. Mr. Seymour Lucas, r.a. 
Seventeenth-century Boot, in the possession of Ernest Crofts, Esq., R.A 
Chapel de Fer at Ockwells, Berks . . . . 

Tudor Dresser Table, in the possession of Sir Alfred Dryden, Canon'; 

Ashby, Northants ..... 

Seventeenth-century Powder-horn, found in the wall of an old house 

at Glastonbury. Now in Glastonbury Museum 
Seventeenth-century Spy-glass in Taunton Museum 
Fourteenth-century Flagon. From an old Manor House in Norfolk 
Elizabethan Chest, in the possession of Sir Coleridge Grove, k.C.b 
Staircase Newel, Cromwell House, Highgate 
Piece of Wood Carved with Inscription. Found with a sword {temp 

Charles II) in an old house at Stoke-under-Ham, Somerset 
Seventeenth-century Water-clock, in Norwich Museum 
Sun-dial. The Manor House, Sutton Courtenay 
Half-timber Cottages, Waterside, Evesham 
Quarter Jacks over the Clock on exterior of north wall of Wells 

Cathedral ...... 

The Gate House, Bishop's Palace, Wells 

House in which Bishop Hooper was imprisoned, Westgate Street 

Gloucester . . . . . . 

The " Stone House," Rye, Sussex . . . . 

Fifteenth-century House, Market Place, Evesham 
Fifteenth-century House, Market Place, Evesham 
Fifteenth-century House in Cowl Street, Evesham 
Half-timber House, Alcester, Warwick 
Half-timber House at Alcester . . . . 

The Wheelwrights' Arms, Warwick . . . . 

Entrance to the Reindeer Inn, Banbury 

The Shoulder of Mutton Inn, King's Lynn 

A Quaint Gable, the Bell Inn, Stilton . . . 

The Bell Inn, Stilton ..... 

The " Briton's Arms," Norwich . . . . 

The Dolphin Inn, Heigham, Norwich . . . . 

Shield and Monogram on doorway of the Dolphin Inn, Heigham 
Staircase Newel at the Dolphin Inn . . . . 

The Falstaff Inn, Canterbury . . . . 

The Bear and Ragged Staff Inn, Tewkesbury . 
Fire-place in the George Inn, Norton St. Philip, Somerset 
The Green Dragon Inn, Wymondham, Norfolk 
The Star Inn, Alfriston, Sussex . . . 

Courtyard of the George Inn, Norton St. Philip, Somerset 



PAGE 
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XIV 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



The Dark Lantern Inn, Aylesbury, Bucks 

Spandril. The Marquis of Granby Inn, Colchester 

The Town Hall, Shrewsbury . 

The Greenland Fishery House, King's Lynn. An old Guild House o 

the time of James I 
The Market House, Wymondham, Norfolk 
Guild Mark and Date on doorway, Burford, Oxon 
Stretham Cross, Isle of Ely .... 
The Market Cross, Salisbury 
Under the Butter Cross, Witney, Oxon 
The Triangular Bridge, Crowland 

Huntingdon Bridge .... 

The Crane Bridge, Salisbury 

Watch House on the Bridge, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts 
Gateway of St. John's Hospital, Canterbury 
Inmate of the Trinity Bede House at Castle Rising, Norfolk 
The Hospital for Ancient Fishermen, Great Yarmouth 
Inscription on the Hospital, King's Lynn 

Ancient Inmates of the Fishermen's Hospital, Great Yarmouth 
Cottages at Evesham 
Stalls at Banbury Fair 
An Old English Fair 

An Ancient Maker of Nets in a Kentish Fair 
Outside the Lamb Inn, Burford 
Tail Piece .... 



263 
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3 6 3 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



CHAPTER I 
INTRODUCTION 

THIS book is intended not to raise fears but to 
record facts. We wish to describe with pen and 
pencil those features of England which are gradu- 
ally disappearing, and to preserve the memory of them. 
It may be said that we have begun our quest too late ; 
that so much has already vanished that it is hardly worth 
while to record what is left. Although much has gone, 
there is still, however, much remaining that is good, 
that reveals the artistic skill and taste of our forefathers, 
and recalls the wonders of old-time. It will be our en- 
deavour to tell of the old country houses that Time has 
spared, the cottages that grace the village green, the stern 
grey walls that still guard some few of our towns, the old 
moot halls and public buildings. We shall see the old- 
time farmers and rustics gathering together at fair and 
market, their games and sports and merry-makings, and 
whatever relics of old English life have been left for an 
artist and scribe of the twentieth century to record. 

Our age is an age of progress. Altiora pcto is its motto. 
The spirit of progress is in the air, and lures its votaries 
on to higher flights. Sometimes they discover that they 
have been following a mere will-o'-the-wisp, that leads 
them into bog and quagmire whence no escape is possible. 
The England of a century, or even of half a century ago, 



2 VANISHING ENGLAND 

has vanished, and we find ourselves in the midst of a 
busy, bustling world that knows no rest or peace. Inven- 
tions tread upon each other's heels in one long vast be- 
wildering procession. We look back at the peaceful reign 
of the pack-horse, the rumbling wagon, the advent of 
the merry coaching days, the "Lightning" and the 
"Quicksilver," the chaining of the rivers with locks and 
bars, the network of canals that spread over the whole 
country ; and then the first shriek of the railway engine 
startled the echoes of the countryside, a poor powerless 
thing that had to be pulled up the steep gradients by a 
chain attached to a big stationary engine at the summit. 
But it was the herald of the doom of the old-world 
England. Highways and coaching roads, canals and 
rivers, were abandoned and deserted. The old coachmen, 
once lords of the road, ended their days in the poorhouse, 
and steam, almighty steam, ruled everywhere. 

Now the wayside inns wake up again with the bellow 
of the motor-car, which like a hideous monster rushes 
through the old-world villages, startling and killing old 
slow-footed rustics and scampering children, dogs and 
hens, and clouds of dust strive in very mercy to hide the 
view of the terrible rushing demon. In a few years' time 
the air will be conquered, and aeroplanes, balloons, 
flying-machines and air-ships, will drop down upon us 
from the skies and add a new terror to life. 

Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range, 
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. 

Life is for ever changing, and doubtless everything is 
for the best in this best of possible worlds; but the anti- 
quary may be forgiven for mourning over the destruction 
of many of the picturesque features of bygone times and 
revelling in the recollections of the past. The half-educated 
and the progressive — I attach no political meaning to the 
term — -delight in their present environment, and care not 
to inquire too deeply into the origin of things ; the 
study of evolution and development is outside their sphere; 
but yet, as Dean Church once wisely said, "In our eager- 



INTRODUCTION 3 

ness for improvement it concerns us to be on our guard 
against the temptation of thinking that we can have the 
fruit or the flower, and yet destroy the root. ... It con- 
cerns us that we do not despise our birthright and cast 
away our heritage of gifts and of powers, which we may 
lose, but not recover." 

Every day witnesses the destruction of some old link with 
the past life of the people of England. A stone here, a 
buttress there — it matters not; these are of no consequence 
to the innovator or the iconoclast. If it may be our privi- 
lege to prevent any further spoliation of the heritage 
of Englishmen, if we can awaken any respect or reverence 
for the work of our forefathers, the labours of both artist 
and author will not have been in vain. Our heritage has 
been sadly diminished, but it has not yet altogether 
disappeared, and it is our object to try to record some 
of those objects of interest which are so fast perishing 
and vanishing from our view, in order that the remem- 
brance of all the treasures that our country possesses 
may not disappear with them. 

The beauty of our English scenery has in many parts 
of the country entirely vanished, never to return. Coal- 
pits, blast furnaces, factories, and railways have con- 
verted once smiling landscapes and pretty villages into an 
inferno of black smoke, hideous mounds of ashes, huge 
mills with lofty chimneys belching forth clouds of smoke 
that kills vegetation and covers the leaves of trees and 
plants with exhalations. I remember attending at Oxford 
a lecture delivered by the late Mr. Ruskin. He pro- 
duced a charming drawing by Turner of a beautiful old 
bridge spanning a clear stream, the banks of which were 
clad with trees and foliage. The sun shone brightly, and 
the sky was blue, with fleeting clouds. "This is what 
you are doing with your scenery," said the lecturer, as he 
took his palette and brushes ; he began to paint on the 
glass that covered the picture, and in a few minutes the 
scene was transformed. Instead of the beautiful bridge a 
hideous iron girder structure spanned the stream, which 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



was no longer pellucid and clear, but black as the Styx ; 
instead of the trees arose a monstrous mill with a tall 
chimney vomiting black smoke that spread in heavy 
clouds, hiding the sun and the blue sky. "That it what 
you are doing with your scenery," concluded Mr. Ruskin 
— a true picture of the penalty we pay for trade, progress, 










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Rural Tenements, Capel, Surrey 



and the pursuit of wealth. We are losing faith in the 
testimony of our poets and painters to the beauty of the 
English landscape which has inspired their art, and 
much of the charm of our scenery in many parts has 
vanished. We happily have some of it left still where 
factories are not, some interesting objects that artists love 
to paint. It is well that they should be recorded before 
they too pass away. 



INTRODUCTION 5 

Old houses of both peer and peasant and their contents 
are sooner or later doomed to destruction. Historic man- 
sions full of priceless treasures amassed by succeeding 
generations of old families fall a prey to relentless fire. 
Old panelled rooms and the ancient floor-timbers under- 
stand not the latest experiments in electric lighting, and 
yield themselves to the flames with scarce a struggle. 
Our forefathers were content with hangings to keep out 
the draughts and open fireplaces to keep them warm. 
They were a hardy race, and feared not a touch or breath 
of cold. Their degenerate sons must have an elaborate 
heating apparatus, which again distresses the old timbers 
of the house and fires their hearts of oak. Our forefathers, 
indeed, left behind them a terrible legacy of danger — 
that beam in the chimney, which has caused the destruc- 
tion of many country houses. Perhaps it was not so 
great a source of danger in the days of the old wood fires. 
It is deadly enough when huge coal fires burn in the 
grates. It is a dangerous, subtle thing. For days, or 
even for a week or two, it will smoulder and smoulder ; 
and then at last it will blaze up, and the old house with all 
its precious contents is wrecked. 

The power of the purse of American millionaires also 
tends greatly to the vanishing of much that is English — 
the treasures of English art, rare pictures and books, and 
even of houses. Some nobleman or gentleman, through 
the extravagance of himself or his ancestors, or on account 
of the pressure of death duties, finds himself impover- 
ished. Some of our great art dealers hear of his unhappy 
state, and knowing that he has some fine paintings— a 
Vandyck or a Romney — offer him twenty-five or thirty 
thousand pounds for a work of art. The temptation 
proves irresistible. The picture is sold, and soon finds 
its way into the gallery of a rich American, no one in 
England having the power or the good taste to purchase 
it. We spend our money in other ways. The following 
conversation was overheard at Christie's: "Here is a 
beautiful thing; you should buy it," said the speaker to 



6 VANISHING ENGLAND 

a newly fledged baronet. " I'm afraid I can't afford it," 
replied the baronet. "Not afford it?" replied his com- 
panion. "It will cost you infinitely less than a baronetcy 
and do you infinitely more credit." The new baronet 
seemed rather offended. At the great art sales rare folios 




Detail of Seventeenth-century Table in Milton's Cottage, 
Chalfont St. Giles 

of Shakespeare, pictures, Sevres, miniatures from English 
houses are put up for auction, and of course find their 
way to America. Sometimes our cousins from across the 
Atlantic fail to secure their treasures. They have striven 
very eagerly to buy Milton's cottage at Chalfont St. 
Giles, for transportation to America ; but this effort 
has happily been successfully resisted. The carved 



INTRODUCTION 7 

table in the cottage was much sought after, and was 
with difficulty retained against an offer of ,£150. An 
old window of fifteenth-century workmanship in an old 
house at Shrewsbury was nearly exploited by an enter- 
prising American for the sum of ,£250 ; and some 
years ago an application was received by the Home 
Secretary for permission to unearth the body of William 
Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, from its grave in the 
burial-ground of Jordans, near Chalfont St. Giles, and 
transport it to Philadelphia. This action was successfully 
opposed by the trustees of the burial-ground, but it was 
considered expedient to watch the ground for some time 
to guard against the possibility of any illicit attempts at 
removal. 

It was reported that an American purchaser had been 
more successful at Ipswich, where in 1907 a Tudor house 
and corner-post, it was said, had been secured by a London 
firm for shipment to America. We are glad to hear that 
this report was incorrect, that the purchaser was an English 
lord, who re-erected the house in his park. 

Wanton destruction is another cause of the disappear- 
ance of old mansions. Fashions change even in house- 
building. Many people prefer new lamps to old ones, 
though the old ones alone can summon genii and recall 
the glories of the past, the associations of centuries of 
family life, and the stories of ancestral prowess. Some- 
times fashion decrees the downfall of old houses. Such 
a fashion raged at the beginning of the last century, 
when every one wanted a brand-new house built after the 
Palladian style ; and the old weather-beaten pile that had 
sheltered the family for generations, and was of good 
old English design with nothing foreign or strange about 
it, was compelled to give place to a new-fangled dwell- 
ing-place which was neither beautiful nor comfortable. 
Indeed, a great wit once advised the builder of one 
of these mansions to hire a room on the other side of the 
road and spend his days looking at his Palladian house, 
but to be sure not to live there. 



8 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Many old houses have disappeared on account of the 
loyalty of their owners, who were unfortunate enough 
to reside within the regions harassed by the Civil War. 
This was especially the case in the county of Oxford. 
Still you may see avenues of venerable trees that lead 
to no house. The old mansion or manor-house has 
vanished. Many of them were put in a posture of defence. 
Earthworks and moats, if they did not exist before, were 
hastily constructed, and some of these houses were bravely 
defended by a competent and brave garrison, and were 
thorns in the sides of the Parliamentary army. Upon 
the triumph of the latter, revenge suffered not these nests 
of Malignants to live. Others were so battered and 
ruinous that they were only fit residences for owls and 
bats. Some loyal owners destroyed the remains of their 
homes lest they should afford shelter to the Parliamentary 
forces. David Walter set fire to his house at Godstow 
lest it should afford accommodation to the " Rebels." 
For the same reason Governor Legge burnt the new 
episcopal palace, which Bancroft had only finished ten 
years before at Cuddesdon. At the same time Thomas 
Gardiner burnt his manor-house in Cuddesdon village, 
and many other houses were so battered that they were 
left untenanted, and so fell to ruin. 1 Sir Bulstrode 
Whitelock describes how he slighted the works at Phillis 
Court, " causing the bulwarks and lines to be digged 
down, the grafts [i.e. moats] filled, the drawbridge to 
be pulled up, and all levelled. I sent away the great 
guns, the granadoes, fireworks, and ammunition, whereof 
there was good store in the fort. I procured pay for my 
soldiers, and many of them undertook the service in 
Ireland." This is doubtless typical of what went on 
in many other houses. The famous royal manor-house 
of Woodstock was left battered and deserted, and 
" haunted," as the readers of Woodstock will remember, 
by an ''adroit and humorous royalist named Joe 
Collins," who frightened the commissioners away by 

1 History of Oxfordshire, by J. Meade Falkner. 



INTRODUCTION 9 

his ghostly pranks. In 165 1 the old house was gutted 
and almost destroyed. The war wrought havoc with 
the old houses, as it did with the lives and other 
possessions of the conquered. 

But we are concerned with times less remote, with the 
vanishing of historic monuments, of noble specimens of 
architecture, and of the humble dwellings of the poor, the 




H'n ^fffu iliill il' i'l' 



Jil> 




Si-\ enteenth-century Troph) 



picturesque cottages by the wayside, which form such 
attractive features of the English landscape. We have 
only to look at the west end of St. Albans Abbey Church, 
which has been " Grimthorped " out of all recognition, 
or at the over-restored Lincoln's Inn Chapel, to see 
what evil can be done in the name of " Restoration," how 
money can be lavishly spent to a thoroughly bad 
purpose. 

Property in private hands has suffered no less than 



io VANISHING ENGLAND 

many of our public buildings, even when the owner is a 
lover of antiquity and does not wish to remove and to 
destroy the objects of interest on his estate. Estate agents 
are responsible for much destruction. Sir John Stirling 
Maxwell, Bart., f.s.a., a keen archaeologist, tells how an 
agent on his estate transformed a fine old grim sixteenth- 
century fortified dwelling, a very perfect specimen of its 
class, into a house for himself, entirely altering the char- 
acter of its appearance, adding a lofty oriel and spacious 
windows with a new door and staircase, while some of the 
old stones were made to adorn a rockery in the garden. 
When he was abroad the elaborately contrived entrance 
for the defence of a square fifteenth-century keep with 
four square towers at the corners, very curious and com- 
plete, were entirely obliterated by a zealous mason. In 
my own parish I awoke one day to find the old village 
pound entirely removed by order of an estate agent, and a 
very interesting stand near the village smithy for fastening 
oxen when they were shod disappeared one day, the 
village publican wanting the posts for his pig-sty. County 
councils sweep away old bridges because they are incon- 
veniently narrow and steep for the tourists' motors, and 
deans and chapters are not always to be relied upon in 
regard to their theories of restoration, and squire and 
parson work sad havoc on the fabrics of old churches 
when they are doing their best to repair them. Too often 
they have decided to entirely demolish the old building, the 
most characteristic feature of the English landscape, with 
its square grey tower or shapely spire, a tower that is, 
perhaps, loopholed and battlemented, and tells of turbulent 
times when it afforded a secure asylum and stronghold 
when hostile bands were roving the countryside. Within, 
piscina, ambrey, and rood-loft tell of the ritual of former 
days. Some monuments of knights and dames proclaim 
the achievements of some great local family. But all this 
weighs for nothing in the eyes of the renovating squire 
and parson. They must have a grand, new, modern 
church with much architectural pretension and fine decora- 



INTRODUCTION n 

tions which can never have the charm which attaches to 
the old building. It has no memories, this new structure. 
It has nothing to connect it with the historic past. Besides, 
they decree that it must not cost too much. The scheme 
of decoration is stereotyped, the construction mechanical. 
There is an entire absence of true feeling and of any real 
inspiration of devotional art. The design is conventional, 
the pattern uniform. The work is often scamped and 
hurried, very different from the old method of building. 
We note the contrast. The medieval builders were never 
in a hurry to finish their work. The old fanes took 
centuries to build ; each generation doing its share, 
chancel or nave, aisle or window, each trying to make the 
church as perfect as the art of man could achieve. We 
shall see how much of this sound and laborious work has 
vanished, a prey to restoration and ignorant renovation. 
We shall see the house-breaker at work in rural 
hamlet and in country town. Vanishing London we 
shall leave severely alone. Its story has been already 
told in a large and comely volume by my friend Mr. 
Philip Norman. Besides, is there anything that has not 
vanished, having been doomed to destruction by the 
march of progress, now that Crosby Hall has gone the 
way of life in the Great City? A few old halls of the City 
companies remain, but most of them have given way to 
modern palaces ; a few City churches, very few, that 
escaped the Great Fire, and every now and again we hear 
threatenings against the masterpieces of Wren, and 
another City church has followed in the wake of all the 
other London buildings on which the destroyer has laid 
his hand. The site is so valuable ; the modern world of 
business presses out the life of these fine old edifices. 
They have to make way for new-fangled erections built in 
the modern French style with sprawling gigantic figures 
with bare limbs hanging on the porticoes which seem to 
wonder how they ever got there, and however they were 
to keep themselves from falling. London is hopeless ! 
We can but delve its soil when opportunities occur in 



12 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



order to find traces of Roman or medieval life. Churches, 
inns, halls, mansions, palaces, exchanges have vanished, 
or are quickly vanishing, and we cast off the dust of 
London streets from our feet and seek more hopeful 
places. 

But even in the sleepy hollows of old England the pulse 




Old Shop, formerly standing' in Cliffe 
High Street, Lewes 



beats faster than of yore, and we shall only just be in time 
to rescue from oblivion and the house-breaker some of our 
heritage. Old city walls that have defied the attacks of 
time and of Cromwell's Ironsides are often in danger from 
the wiseacres who preside on borough corporations. 
Town halls picturesque and beautiful in their old age have 
to make way for the creations of the local architect. Old 
shops have to be pulled down in order to provide a site 



INTRODUCTION 13 

for a universal emporium or a motor garage. Nor are 
buildings the only things that are passing away. The 
extensive use of motor-cars and highway vandalism are de- 
stroying the peculiar beauty of the English roadside. The 
swift-speeding cars create clouds of white dust which settles 
upon the hedges and trees, covering them with it and ob- 
scuring the wayside flowers and hiding all their attractive- 
ness. Corn and grass are injured and destroyed by the 
dust clouds. The charm and poetry of the country walk 
are destroyed by motoring demons, and the wayside 
cottage-gardens, once the most attractive feature of the 
English landscape, are ruined. The elder England, too, 
is vanishing in the modes, habits, and manners of her 
people. Never was the truth of the old oft-quoted 
Latin proverb — Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in 
Mis — so pathetically emphatic as it is to-day. The 
people are changing in their habits and modes of 
thought. They no longer take pleasure in the simple 
joys of their forefathers. Hence in our chronicle 
of Vanishing England we shall have to refer to some 
of those strange customs which date back to pri- 
meval ages, but which the railways, excursion trains, 
and the schoolmaster in a few years will render 
obsolete. 

In recording the England that is vanishing the artist's 
pencil will play a more prominent part than the writer's 
pen. The graphic sketches that illustrate this book are 
far more valuable and helpful to the discernment of the 
things that remain than the most effective descriptions. 
We have tried together to gather up the fragments that 
remain that nothing be lost ; and though there may 
be much that we have not gathered, the examples herein 
given of some of the treasures that are left may be useful 
in creating a greater reverence for the work bequeathed 
to us by our forefathers, and in strengthening the 
hands of those who would preserve them. Happily 
we are still able to use the present participle, not the 
past. It is vanishing England, not vanished, of which 



J 4 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



we treat ; and if we can succeed in promoting an affection 
for the relics of antiquity that time has spared, our 
labours will not have been in vain or the object of this 
book unattained. 



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Paradise Square, Banbury 



CHAPTER II 
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ENGLAND 

UNDER this alarming heading, "The Disappear- 
ance of England," the Ganlois recently published 
an article by M. Guy Dorval on the erosion of 
the English coasts. The writer refers to the predictions of 
certain British men of science that England will one day 
disappear altogether beneath the waves, and imagines that 
we British folk are seized by a popular panic. Our neigh- 
bours are trembling for the fate of the entente cordiate, 
which would speedily vanish with vanishing England ; but 
they have been assured by some of their savants that the 
rate of erosion is only one kilometre in a thousand years, 
and that the danger of total extinction is somewhat 
remote. Professor Stanislas Meunier, however, declares 
that our " panic" is based on scientific facts. He tells us 
that the cliffs of Brighton are now one kilometre farther 
away from the French coast than in the days of Queen 
Elizabeth, and that those of Kent are six kilometres far- 
ther away than in the Roman period. He compares our 
island to a large piece of sugar in water, but we may rest 
assured that before we disappear beneath the waves the 
period which must elapse would be greater than the longest 
civilizations known in history. So we may hope to be 
able to sing " Rule Britannia " for many a long year. 

Coast erosion is, however, a serious problem, and has 
caused the destruction of many a fair town and noble forest 
that now lie beneath the seas, and the crumbling cliffs 
on our eastern shore threaten to destroy many a village 
church and smiling pasture. Fishermen tell you that 
when storms rage and the waves swell they have heard 

. i5 



16 VANISHING ENGLAND 

the bells chiming in the towers long covered by the seas, 
and nigh the picturesque village of Bosham we were told 
of a stretch of sea that was called the Park. This as late 
as the days of Henry VIII was a favourite royal hunting 
forest, wherein stags and fawns and does disported them- 
selves ; now fish are the only prey that can be slain 
therein. 

The Royal Commission on coast erosion relieves our 
minds somewhat by assuring us that although the sea 
gains upon the land in many places, the land gains upon 
the sea in others, and that the loss and gain are more or 
less balanced. As a matter of area this is true. Most of 
the land that has been rescued from the pitiless sea is below 
high-water mark, and is protected by artificial banks. 
This work of reclaiming land can, of course, only be ac- 
complished in sheltered places, for example, in the great 
flat bordering the Wash, which flat is formed by the deposit 
of the rivers of the Fenland, and the seaward face of this 
region is gradually being pushed forward by the careful 
processes of enclosure. You can see the various old sea 
walls which have been constructed from Roman times on- 
ward. Some accretions of land have occurred where the 
sea piles up masses of shingle, unless foolish people cart 
away the shingle in such quantities that the waves again 
assert themselves. Sometimes sand silts up as at South- 
port in Lancashire, where there is the second longest 
pier in England, a mile in length, from the end of which 
it is said that on a clear day with a powerful telescope you 
may perchance see the sea, that a distinguished traveller 
accustomed to the deserts of Sahara once found it, and that 
the name Southport is altogether a misnomer, as it is 
in the north and there is no port at all. 

But however much as an Englishman I might re- 
joice that the actual area of " our tight little island," which 
after all is not very tight, should not be diminishing, it 
would be a poor consolation to me, if I possessed land and 
houses on the coast of Norfolk which were fast slipping 
into the sea, to know that in the Fenland industrious far- 



DISAPPEARANCE OF ENGLAND 17 

mers were adding to their acres. And day by day, year 
by year, this destruction is going on, and the gradual 
melting away of land. The attack is not always persis- 
tent. It is intermittent. Sometimes the progress of the 
sea seems to be stayed, and then a violent storm arises and 
falling cliffs and submerged houses proclaim the sway of 
the relentless waves. We find that the greatest loss has 
occurred on the east and southern coasts of our island. 
Great damage has been wrought all along the Yorkshire 
sea-board from Bridlington to Kilnsea, and the following 
districts have been the greatest sufferers : between Cromer 
and Happisburgh, Norfolk; between Pakefield and South- 
wold, Suffolk ; Hampton and Heme Bay, and then St. 
Margaret's Bay, near Dover ; the coast of Sussex, east of 
Brighton, and the Isle of Wight ; the region of Bourne- 
mouth and Poole ; Lyme Bay, Dorset, and Bridgwater 
Bay, Somerset. 

All along the coast from Yarmouth to Eastbourne, with 
a few exceptional parts, we find that the sea is gaining on 
the land by leaps and bounds. It is a coast that is most 
favourably constructed for coast erosion. There are no 
hard or firm rocks, no cliffs high enough to give rise to a 
respectable landslip ; the soil is composed of loose sand 
and gravels, loams and clays, nothing to resist the assaults 
of atmospheric action from above or the sea below. At 
Covehithe, on the Suffolk coast, there has been the great- 
est loss of land. In 1887 sixty feet was claimed by the 
sea, and in ten years (1878-87) the loss was at the rate of 
over eighteen feet a year. In 1895 another heavy loss 
occurred between Southwold and Covehithe and a new 
cove formed. Easton Bavent has entirely disappeared, 
and so have the once prosperous villages of Covehithe, 
Burgh-next-Walton, and Newton-by-Corton, and the same 
fate seems to be awaiting Pakefield, Southwold, and other 
coast-lying towns. Easton Bavent once had such a 
flourishing fishery that it paid an annual rent of 31 10 
herrings ; and millions of herrings must have been caught 
by the fishermen of disappeared Dunwich, which we shall 
2 



18 VANISHING ENGLAND 

visit presently, as they paid annually "fish-fare" to the 
clergy of the town 15,377 herrings, besides 70,000 to the 
royal treasury. 

The summer visitors to the pleasant watering-place 
Felixstowe, named after St. Felix, who converted the 
East Anglians to Christianity and was their first bishop, 
that being the place where the monks of the priory of 
St. Felix in Walton held their annual fair, seldom reflect 
that the old Saxon burgh was carried away as long 
ago as 1 100 a.d. Hence Earl Bigot was compelled to 
retire inland and erect his famous castle at Walton. 
But the sea respected not the proud walls of the baron's 
stronghold ; the strong masonry that girt the keep 
lies beneath the waves ; a heap of stones, called by the 
rustics Stone Works, alone marks the site of this once 
powerful castle. Two centuries later the baron's marsh 
was destroyed by the sea, and eighty acres of land was 
lost, much to the regret of the monks, who were thus 
deprived of the rent and tithe corn. 

The old chroniclers record many dread visitations of the 
relentless foe. Thus in 1237 we read: "The sea burst 
with high tides and tempests of winds, marsh countries 
near the sea were flooded, herds and flocks perished, and 
no small number of men were lost and drowned. The sea 
rose continually for two days and one night." Again in 
1 25 1 : "On Christmas night there was a great thunder and 
lightning in Suffolk; the sea caused heavy floods." In 
much later times Defoe records: " Aldeburgh has two 
streets, each near a mile long, but its breadth, which was 
more considerable formerly, is not proportionable, and 
the sea has of late years swallowed up one whole street." 
It has still standing close to the shore its quaint pictur- 
esque town hall, erected in the fifteenth century. South- 
wold is now practically an island, bounded on the east by 
the sea, on the south-west by the Blyth River, on the 
north-west by Buss Creek. It is only joined to the main- 
land by a narrow neck of shingle that divides Buss Creek 
from the sea. I think that I should prefer to hold property 



dari- ixm 



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Ckurf xzr 




xn. 



'XSM CAvt- 



ZXZF CAarf 



Txzr 



CAasf-. 



TXT &a*t 



^S3CA^rt 



20 VANISHING ENGLAND 

in a more secure region. You invest your savings in 
stock, and dividends decrease and your capital grows 
smaller, but you usually have something left. But when 
your land and houses vanish entirely beneath the waves, 
the chapter is ended and you have no further remedy 
except to sue Father Neptune, who has rather a wide beat 
and may be difficult to find when he is wanted to be 
served with a summons. 

But the Suffolk coast does not show all loss. In the 
north much land has been gained in the region of Beccles, 
which was at one time close to the sea, and one of the 
finest spreads of shingle in England extends from Alde- 
burgh to Bawdry. This shingle has silted up many a 
Suffolk port, but it has proved a very effectual barrier 
against the inroads of the sea. Norden's map of the coast 
made in 1601 x shows this wonderful mass of shingle, which 
has greatly increased since Norden's day. It has been 
growing in a southerly direction, until the Aide River had 
until recently an estuary ten miles in length. But in 
1907 the sea asserted itself, and " burst through the stony 
barrier, making a passage for the exit of the river one mile 
further north, and leaving a vast stretch of shingle and 
two deserted river-channels as a protection to the Marshes 
of Hollesley from further inroads of the sea." 2 Formerly the 
River Aide flowed direct to the sea just south of the town 
of Aldeburgh. Perhaps some day it may be able to again 
force a passage near its ancient course or by Havergate 
Island. This alteration in the course of rivers is very 
remarkable, and may be observed at Christ Church, Hants. 

It is pathetic, to think of the historic churches, beautiful 
villages, and smiling pastures that have been swept away 
by the relentless sea. There are no less than twelve 
towns and villages in Yorkshire that have been thus 
buried, and five in Suffolk. Ravensburgh, in the former 

1 It is now in possession of Mr. Kenneth M. Clark, by whose permission 
the accompanying- plan, reproduced from the Memorials of Old Suffolk, was 
made. 

2 Memorials of Old Suffolk, edited by V. B. Redstone, p. 226. 



DISAPPEARANCE OF ENGLAND 21 

county, was once a flourishing seaport. Here landed 
Henry IV in 1399, and Edward IV in 1471. It returned 
two members to Parliament. An old picture of the place 
shows the church, a large cross, and houses ; but it has 
vanished with the neighbouring "villages of Redmare, 
Tharlethorp, Frismarch, and Potterfleet, and "left not a 
wrack behind." Leland mentions it in 1538, after which 
time its place in history and on the map knows it no 
more. The ancient church of Kilnsea lost half its fabric 
in 1826, and the rest followed in 1831. Alborough Church 
and the Castle of Grimston have entirely vanished. 
Mapleton Church was formerly two miles from the 
sea ; it is now on a cliff with the sea at its feet, 
awaiting the final attack of the all-devouring enemy. 
Nearly a century ago Owthorne Church and church- 
yard were overwhelmed, and the shore was strewn 
with ruins and shattered coffins. On the Tyneside the 
destruction has been remarkable and rapid. In the 
district of Saltworks there was a house built standing 
on the cliff, but it was never finished, and fell a 
prey to the waves. At Percy Square an inn and two 
cottages have been destroyed. The edge of the cliff in 
1827 was eighty feet seaward, and the banks of Percy 
Square receded a hundred and eighty feet between the 
years 1827 and 1892. Altogether four acres have disap- 
peared. An old Roman building, locally known as 
"Gingling Geordie's Hole," and large masses of the 
Castle Cliff fell into the sea in the 'eighties. The remains 
of the once flourishing town of Seaton, on the Durham 
coast, can be discovered amid the sands at low tide. The 
modern village has sunk inland, and cannot now 
boast of an ancient chapel dedicated to St. Thomas of 
Canterbury, which has been devoured by the waves. 

Skegness, on the Lincolnshire coast, was a large and 
important town ; it boasted of a castle with strong forti- 
fications and a church with a lofty spire ; it now lies deep 
beneath the devouring sea, which no guarding walls 
could conquer. Far out at sea, beneath the waves, lies 



22 VANISHING ENGLAND 

old Cromer Church, and when storms rage its bells are 
said to chime. The churchyard wherein was written the 
pathetic ballad "The Garden of Sleep" is gradually 
disappearing, and "the graves of the fair women that 
sleep by the cliffs by the sea " have been outraged, and 
their bodies scattered and devoured by the pitiless waves. 
One of the greatest prizes of the sea is the ancient city 
of Dunwich, which dates back to the Roman era. The 
Domesday Survey shows that it was then a considerable 
town having 236 burgesses. It was girt with strong 
walls ; it possessed an episcopal palace, the seat of the 
East Anglian bishopric ; it had (so Stow asserts) fifty-two 
churches, a monastery, brazen gates, a town hall, hos- 
pitals, and the dignity of possessing a mint. Stow tells 
of its departed glories, its royal and episcopal palaces, 
the sumptuous mansion of the mayor, its numerous 
churches and its windmills, its harbour crowded with ship- 
ping, which sent forth forty vessels for the king's service 
in the thirteenth century. Though Dunwich was an im- 
portant place, Stow's description of it is rather exag- 
gerated. It could never have had more than ten churches 
and monasteries. Its "brazen gates" are mythical, though 
it had its Lepers' Gate, South Gate, and others. It was 
once a thriving city of wealthy merchants and industrious 
fishermen. King John granted to it a charter. It suf- 
fered from the attacks of armed men as well as from the 
ravages of the sea. Earl Bigot and the revolting barons 
besieged it in the reign of Edward I. Its decay was 
gradual. In 1342, in the parish of St. Nicholas, out of 
three hundred houses only eighteen remained. Only 
seven out of a hundred houses were standing in the parish 
of St. Martin. St. Peter's parish was devastated and de- 
populated. It had a small round church, like that at 
Cambridge, called the Temple, once the property of the 
Knights Templars, richly endowed with costly gifts. This 
was a place of sanctuary, as were the other churches in 
the city. With the destruction of the houses came also 
the decay of the port which no ships could enter. Its 



DISAPPEARANCE OF ENGLAND 23 

rival, Southwold, attracted the vessels of strangers. The 
markets and fairs were deserted. Silence and ruin reigned 
over the doomed town, and the ruined church of All 
Saints is all that remains of its former glories, save what 
the storms sometimes toss along the beach for the study 
and edification of antiquaries. 

As we proceed down the coast we find that the sea 
is still gaining on the land. The old church at 
Walton-on-the-Naze was swept away, and is replaced by 
a new one. A flourishing town existed at Reculver, 
which dates back to the Romans. It was a prosperous 
place, and had a noble church, which in the sixteenth 
century was a mile from the sea. Steadily have the waves 
advanced, until a century ago the church fell into the sea, 
save two towers which have been preserved by means of 
elaborate sea-walls as a landmark for sailors. 

The fickle sea has deserted some towns and destroyed 
their prosperity ; it has receded all along the coast from 
Folkestone to the Sussex border, and left some of the 
famous Cinque Ports, some of which we shall visit again, 
Lymne, Romney, Hythe, Richborough, Stonor, Sand- 
wich, and Sarre high and dry, with little or no access to 
the sea. Winchelsea has had a strange career. The old 
town lies beneath the waves, but a new Winchelsea arose, 
once a flourishing port, but now deserted and forlorn 
with the sea a mile away. Rye, too, has been forsaken. 
It was once an island ; now the little Rother stream con- 
veys small vessels to the sea, which looks very far away. 

We cannot follow all the victories of the sea. We 
might examine the inroads made by the waves at Selsea. 
There stood the first cathedral of the district before Chi- 
chester was founded. The building is now beneath the 
sea, and since Saxon times half of the Selsea Bill has van- 
ished. The village of Selsea rested securely in the centre 
of the peninsula, but only half a mile now separates it 
from the sea. Some land has been gained near this pro- 
jecting headland by an industrious farmer. His farm 
surrounded a large cove with a narrow mouth through 



24 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



which the sea poured. If he could only dam up that 
entrance, he thought he could rescue the bed of the cove 
and add to his acres. He bought an old ship and sank 
it by the entrance and proceeded to drain. But a tire- 
some storm arose and drove the ship right across the 
cove, and the sea poured in again. By no means dis- 




Disused Mooring--Post on bank of the Rother, Rye 



couraged, he dammed up the entrance more effectually, 
got rid of the water, increased his farm by many acres, 
and the old ship makes an admirable cow-shed. 

The Isle of Wight in remote geological periods was 
part of the mainland. The Scilly Isles were once joined 
with Cornwall, and were not severed until the fourteenth 
century, when by a mighty storm and flood, 140 churches 
and villages were destroyed and overwhelmed, and 190 
square miles of land carried away. Much land has been 



DISAPPEARANCE OF ENGLAND 25 

lost in the Wirral district of Cheshire. Great forests 
have been overwhelmed, as the skulls and bones of deer 
and horse and fresh-water shell-fish have been frequently 
discovered at low tide. Fifty years ago a distance of 
half a mile separated Leasowe Castle from the sea ; now 
its walls are washed by the waves. The Pennystone, off 
the Lancashire coast by Blackpool, tells of a submerged 
village and manor, about which cluster romantic legends. 
Such is the sad record of the sea's destruction, for which 
the industrious reclamation of land, the compensations 
wrought by the accumulation of shingle and sand dunes 
and the silting of estuaries can scarcely compensate us. 
How does the sea work this? There are certain rock- 
boring animals, such as the Pholas, which help to decay 
the rocks. Each mollusc cuts a series of augur-holes 
from two to four inches deep, and so assists in destroying 
the bulwarks of England. Atmospheric action, the dis- 
integration of soft rocks by frost and by the attack of the 
sea below, all tend in the same direction. But the foolish 
action of man in removing shingle, the natural protection 
of our coasts, is also very mischievous. There is an in- 
stance of this in the Hall Sands and Bee Sands, Devon. 
A company a few years ago obtained authority to dredge 
both from the foreshore and sea-bed. The Commissioners 
of Woods and Forests and the Board of Trade granted 
this permission, the latter receiving a royalty of ^50 and 
the former £150. This occurred in 1896. Soon after- 
wards a heavy gale arose and caused an immense amount 
of damage, the result entirely of this dredging. The com- 
pany had to pay heavily, and the royalties were returned 
to them. This is only one instance out of many which 
might be quoted. We are an illogical nation, and our 
regulations and authorities are weirdly confused. It ap- 
pears that the foreshore is under the control of the Board 
of Trade, and then a narrow strip of land is ruled over by 
the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. Of course 
these bodies do not agree ; different policies are pursued 
by each, and the coast suffers. Large sums are some- 



26 VANISHING ENGLAND 

times spent in coast-defence works. At Spurn no less 
than £37,433 has been spent out of Parliamentary grants, 
besides £14,227 out of the Mercantile Marine Fund. 
Corporations or county authorities, finding their coasts 
being worn away, resolve to protect it. They obtain a 
grant in aid from Parliament, spend vast sums, and often 
find their work entirely thrown away, or proving itself 
most disastrous to their neighbours. If you protect one 
part of the coast you destroy another. Such is the rule of 
the sea. If you try to beat it back at one point it will 
revenge itself on another. If only you can cause shingle 
to accumulate before your threatened town or homestead, 
you know you can make the place safe and secure from 
the waves. But if you stop this flow of shingle you may 
protect your own homes, but you deprive your neigh- 
bours of this safeguard against the ravages of the sea. It 
was so at Deal. The good folks of Deal placed groynes 
in order to stop the flow of shingle and protect the town. 
They did their duty well ; they stopped the shingle and 
made a good bulwark against the sea. With what result? 
In a few years' time they caused the destruction of San- 
down, which had been deprived of its natural protection. 
Mr. W. Whitaker, f.r.s., who has walked along the 
whole coast from Norfolk to Cornwall, besides visiting 
other parts of our English shore, and whose contributions 
to the Report of the Royal Commission on Coast Erosion 
are so valuable, remembers when a boy the Castle of San- 
down, which dated from the time of Henry VIII. It was 
then in a sound condition and was inhabited. Now it is 
destroyed, and the batteries farther north have gone too. 
The same thing is going on at Dover. The Admiralty 
Pier causes the accumulation of shingle on its west side, 
and prevents it from following its natural course in a north- 
easterly direction. Hence the base of the cliffs on the 
other side of the pier and harbour is left bare and unpro- 
tected ; this aids erosion, and not unfrequently do we hear 
of the fall of the chalk cliffs. 

Isolated schemes for the prevention of coast erosion are 



DISAPPEARANCE OF ENGLAND 27 

of little avail. They can do no good, and only increase 
the waste and destruction of land in neighbouring shores. 
Stringent laws should be passed to prevent the taking 
away of shingle from protecting beaches, and to prohibit 
the ploughing of land near the edge of cliffs, which 
greatly assists atmospheric destructive action from above. 
The State has recently threatened the abandonment of the 
coastguard service. This would be a disastrous policy. 
Though the primary object of coastguards, the prevention 
of smuggling, has almost passed away, the old sailors 
who act as guardians of our coast-line render valuable 
services to the country. They are most useful in looking 
after the foreshore. They save many lives from wrecked 
vessels, and keep watch and ward to guard our shores, and 
give timely notice of the advance of a hostile fleet, or of 
that ever-present foe which, though it affords some pro- 
tection for our island home from armed invasion, does 
not fail to exact a heavy tithe from the land it guards, 
and has destroyed so many once flourishing towns and 
villages by its ceaseless attack. 



T 



CHAPTER III 

OLD WALLED TOWNS 

HE destruction of ancient buildings always causes 
grief and distress to those who love antiquity. It 
is much to be deplored, but in some cases is per- 
haps inevitable. Old-fashioned half-timbered shops with 
small diamond-paned windows are not the most convenient 
for the display of the elegant fashionable costumes effec- 
tively draped on modelled forms. Motor-cars cannot be 
displayed in antiquated old shops. Hence in modern up- 
to-date towns these old buildings are doomed, and have to 
give place to grand emporiums with large plate-glass win- 
dows and the refinements of luxurious display. We hope 
to visit presently some of the old towns and cities which 
happily retain their ancient beauties, where quaint houses 
with oversailing upper stories still exist, and with the 
artist's aid to describe many of their attractions. 

Although much of the destruction is, as 1 have said, in- 
evitable, a vast amount is simply the result of ignorance 
and wilful perversity. Ignorant persons get elected on 
town councils — worthy men doubtless, and able men of 
business, who can attend to and regulate the financial affairs 
of the town, look after its supply of gas and water, its drain- 
age and tramways ; but they are absolutely ignorant of its 
history, its associations, of architectural beauty, of anything 
that is not modern and utilitarian. Unhappily, into the 
care of such men as these is often confided the custody of 
historic buildings and priceless treasures, of ruined abbey 
and ancient walls, of objects consecrated by the lapse of 
centuries and by the associations of hundreds of years of 
corporate life ; and it is not surprising that in many cases 

28 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 29 

they betray their trust. They are not interested in such 
things. "Let bygones be bygones," they say. "We 
care not for old rubbish." Moreover, they frequently 
resent interference and instruction. Hence they destroy 
wholesale what should be preserved, and England is the 
poorer. 

Not long ago the Edwardian wall of Berwick-on-Tweed 
was threatened with demolition at the hands of those who 
ought to be its guardians — the Corporation of the town. 
An official from the Office of Works, when he saw the be- 
grimed, neglected appearance of the two fragments of this 
wall near the Bell Tower, with a stagnant pool in the 
fosse, bestrewed with broken pitchers and rubbish, re- 
ported that the Elizabethan walls of the town which were 
under the direction of the War Department were in ex- 
cellent condition, whereas the Edwardian masonry was 
utterly neglected. And why was this relic of the town's 
former greatness to be pulled down? Simply to clear the 
site for the erection of modern dwelling-houses. A very 
strong protest was made against this act of municipal 
barbarism by learned societies, the Society for the Pre- 
servation of Ancient Buildings, and others, and we hope 
that the hand of the destroyer has been stayed. 

Most of the principal towns in England were protected 
by walls, and the citizens regarded it as a duty to build 
them and keep them in repair. When we look at some of 
these fortifications, their strength, their height, their thick- 
ness, we are struck by the fact that they were very great 
achievements, and that they must have been raised with 
immense labour and gigantic cost. In turbulent and war- 
like times they were absolutely necessary. Look at some 
of these triumphs of medieval engineering skill, so strong, 
so massive, able to defy the attacks of lance and arrow, 
ram or catapult, and to withstand ages of neglect and the 
storms of a tempestuous clime. Towers and bastions 
stood at intervals against the wall at convenient distances, 
in order that bowmen stationed in them could shoot down 
any who attempted to scale the wall with ladders anywhere 



3° 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



within the distance between the towers. All along the 
wall there was a protected pathway for the defenders to 
stand, and machicolations through which boiling oil or 



*^> 




t*6*\ p V o^. 



Old Houses built on the Town Wall, Rye 



V 



lead, or heated sand could be poured on the heads of the 
attacking force. The gateways were carefully constructed, 
flanked by defending towers with a portcullis, and a 
guard-room overhead with holes in the vaulted roof of the 
gateway for pouring down inconvenient substances upon 
the heads of the besiegers. There were several gates, the 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 31 

usual number being four ; but Coventry had twelve, 
Canterbury six, and Newcastle-on-Tyne seven, besides 
posterns. 

Berwick-upon-Tweed, York, Chester, and Conway 
have maintained their walls in good condition. Berwick 
has three out of its four gates still standing. They are 
called Scotchgate, Shoregate, and Cowgate, and in the 
last two still remain the original massive wooden gates 
with their bolts and hinges. The remaining fourth gate, 
named Bridgate, has vanished. We have alluded to the 
neglect of the Edwardian wall and its threatened destruc- 
tion. Conway has a wall a mile and a quarter in length, 
with twenty-one semicircular towers along its course and 
three great gateways besides posterns. Edward I built 
this wall in order to subjugate the Welsh, and also the 
walls round Carnarvon, some of which survive, and Beau- 
maris. The name of his master-mason has been pre- 
served, one Henry le Elreton. The muniments of the 
Corporation of Alnwick prove that often great difficulties 
arose in the matter of wall-building. Its closeness to the 
Scottish border rendered a wall necessary. The town was 
frequently attacked and burnt. The inhabitants obtained 
a licence to build a wall in 1433, but they did not at once 
proceed with the work. In 1448 the Scots came and 
pillaged the town, and the poor burgesses were so robbed 
and despoiled that they could not afford to proceed with 
the wall and petitioned the King for aid. Then Letters 
Patent were issued for a collection to be made for the 
object, and at last, forty years after the licence was granted, 
Alnwick got its wall, and a very good wall it was— a mile in 
circumference, twenty feet in height and six in thickness ; 
"it had four gateways — Bondgate, Clayport, Pottergate, 
and Narrowgate. Only the first-named of these is standing. 
It is three stories in height. Over the central archway is 
a panel on which was carved the Brabant lion, now almost 
obliterated. On either side is a semi-octagonal tower. 
The masonry is composed of huge blocks to which time 
and weather have given dusky tints. On the front facing 



32 VANISHING ENGLAND 

the expected foes the openings are but little more than 
arrow-slits ; on that within, facing the town, are well- 
proportioned mullioned and transomed windows. The 
great ribbed archway is grooved for a portcullis, now re- 
moved, and a low doorway on either side gives entrance 
to the chambers in the towers. Pottergate was rebuilt in 
the eighteenth century and crowns a steep street ; only 
four corner-stones marked T indicate the site of Clayport. 
No trace of Narrowgate remains." 1 

As the destruction of many of our castles is due to the 
action of Cromwell and the Parliament, who caused them 
to be "slighted" partly out of revenge upon the loyal 
owners who had defended them, so several of our town- 
walls were thrown down by order of Charles II at the 
Restoration on account of the active assistance which the 
townspeople had given to the rebels. The heads of rebels 
were often placed on gateways. London Bridge, Lincoln, 
Newcastle, York, Berwick, Canterbury, Temple Bar, and 
other gates have often been adorned with these gruesome 
relics of barbarous punishments. 

How were these strong walls ever taken in the days 
before gunpowder was extensively used or cannon dis- 
charged their devastating shells ? Imagine you are present 
at a siege. You would see the attacking force advancing 
a huge wooden tower, covered with hides and placed on 
wheels, towards the walls. Inside this tower were ladders, 
and when the "sow" had been pushed towards the wall 
the soldiers rushed up these ladders and were able to fight 
on a level with the garrison. Perhaps they were repulsed, 
and then a shed-like structure would be advanced towards 
the wall, so as to enable the men to get close enough to 
dig a hole beneath the walls in order to bring them down. 
The besieged would not be inactive, but would cast heavy 
stones on the roof of the shed. Molten lead and burning 
flax were favourite means of defence to alarm and frighten 
away the enemy, who retaliated by casting heavy stones 
by means of a catapult into the town. 

1 The Builder, April 16, 1904. 




"V^ci "Y\ 



Bootham Bar, York 



34 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Amongst the fragments of walls still standing, those at 
Newcastle are very massive, sooty, and impressive. South- 
ampton has some grand walls left and a gateway, which 
show how strongly the town was fortified. The old 
Cinque Port, Sandwich, formerly a great and important 
town, lately decayed, but somewhat renovated by golf, 
has two gates left, and Rochester and Canterbury have 
some fragments of their walls standing. The repair of 
the walls of towns was sometimes undertaken by guilds. 
Generous benefactors, like Sir Richard Whittington, 
frequently contributed to the cost, and sometimes a tax 
called murage was levied for the purpose which was 
collected by officers named muragers. 

The city of York has lost many of its treasures, and the 
City Fathers seem to find it difficult to keep their hands 
off such relics of antiquity as are left to them. There are 
few cities in England more deeply marked with the im- 
press of the storied past than York — the long and 
moving story of its gates and walls, of the historical 
associations of the city through century after century 
of English history. About eighty years ago the Cor- 
poration destroyed the picturesque old barbicans of the 
Bootham, Micklegate, and Monk Bars, and only one, 
Walmgate, was suffered to retain this interesting feature. 
It is a wonder they spared those curious stone half-length 
figures of men, sculptured in a menacing attitude in the 
act of hurling large stones downwards, which vaunt 
themselves on the summit of Monk Bar — probably in- 
tended to deceive invaders — or that interesting stone 
platform only twenty-two inches wide, which was the only 
foothold available for the martial burghers who guarded 
the city wall at Tower Place. A year or two ago the 
City Fathers decided, in order to provide work for the 
unemployed, to interfere with the city moats by laying 
them out as flower-beds and by planting shrubs and 
making playgrounds of the banks. The protest of the 
Yorks Archaeological Society, we believe, stayed their 
hands. 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 35 

The same story can be told of far too many towns and 
cities. A few years ago several old houses were de- 
molished in the High Street of the city of Rochester 
to make room for electric tramways. Among these was 
the old White Hart Inn, built in 1396, the sign being 
a badge of Richard II, where Samuel Pepys stayed. He 
found that "the beds were corded, and we had no sheets 
to our beds, only linen to our mouths" (a narrow strip 
of linen to prevent the contact of the blanket with the 
face). With regard to the disappearance of old inns, we 
must wait until we arrive at another chapter. 

We will now visit some old towns where we hope to 
discover some buildings that are ancient and where all is 
not distressingly new, hideous, and commonplace. First 
we will travel to the old-world town of Lynn — "Lynn 
Regis, vulgarly called King's Lynn," as the royal charter 
of Henry VIII terms it. On the land side the town was 
defended by a fosse, and there are still considerable remains 
of the old wall, including the fine Gothic South Gates. 
In the days of its ancient glory it was known as Bishop's 
Lynn, the town being in the hands of the Bishop of Nor- 
wich. Bishop Herbert de Losinga built the church 
of St. Margaret at the beginning of the twelfth century, 
and gave it with many privileges to the monks of Norwich, 
who held a priory at Lynn ; and Bishop Turbus did a 
wonderfully good stroke of business, reclaimed a large 
tract of land about 11 50 a.d., and amassed wealth for his 
see from his markets, fairs, and mills. Another bishop, 
Bishop Grey, induced or compelled King John to grant a 
free charter to the town, but astutely managed to keep all 
the power in his own hands. Lynn was always a very 
religious place, and most of the orders — Benedictines, 
Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelite and Augustinian 
Friars, and the Sack Friars— were represented at Lynn, 
and there were numerous hospitals, a lazar-house, a 
college of secular canons, and other religious institutions, 
until they were all swept away by the greed of a rapacious 
king. There is not much left to-day of all these religious 



36 VANISHING ENGLAND 

foundations. The latest authority on the history of Lynn, 
Mr. H. J. Hillen, well says: "Time's unpitying plough- 
share has spared few vestiges of their achitectural gran- 
deur." A cemetery cross in the museum, the name 
" Paradise " that keeps up the remembrance of the cool, 
verdant cloister-garth, a brick arch upon the east bank 
of the Nar, and a similar gateway in "Austin" Street 
are all the relics that remain of the old monastic life, 
save the slender hexagonal "Old Tower," the graceful 
lantern of the convent of the grey-robed Franciscans. 
The above writer also points out the beautifully carved 
door in Queen Street, sole relic of the College of Secular 
Canons, from which the chisel of the ruthless iconoclast 
has chipped off the obnoxious Orate pro anima. 

The quiet, narrow, almost deserted streets of Lynn, its 
port and quays have another story to tell. They proclaim 
its former greatness as one of the chief ports in England 
and the centre of vast mercantile activity. A thirteenth- 
century historian, Friar William Newburg, described 
Lynn as "a noble city noted for its trade." It was the 
key of Norfolk. Through it flowed all the traffic to and 
from northern East Anglia, and from its harbour crowds 
of ships carried English produce, mainly wool, to the 
Netherlands, Norway, and the Rhine Provinces. Who 
would have thought that this decayed harbour ranked 
fourth among the ports of the kingdom? But its glories 
have departed. Decay set in. Its prosperity began to 
decline. 

Railways have been the- ruin of King's Lynn. The 
merchant princes who once abounded in the town 
exist here no longer. The last of the long race died 
quite recently. Some ancient ledgers still exist in the 
town, which exhibit for one firm alone a turnover of some- 
thing like a million and a half sterling per annum. 
Although possessed of a similarly splendid waterway, 
unlike Ipswich, the trade of the town seems to have quite 
decayed. Few signs of commerce are visible, except 
where the advent of branch stations of enterprising 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 



37 



"Cash" firms has resulted in the squaring up of odd 
projections and consequent overthrow of certain ancient 
buildings. There is one act of vandalism which the town 
has never ceased to regret and which should serve as 
a warning for the future. This is the demolition of the 









\v«-<A f^gc Half-timbered House with early Fifteenth-century 



V 



Doorway, King's Lynn, Norfolk 



house of Walter Coney, merchant, an unequalled speci- 
men of fifteenth-century domestic architecture, which 
formerly stood at the corner of the Saturday Market 
Place and High Street. So strongly was this edifice 
constructed that it was with the utmost difficulty that it 
was taken to pieces, in order to make room for the ugly 
range of white brick buildings which now stands upon its 



3 8 VANISHING ENGLAND 

site. But Lynn had an era of much prosperity during 
the rise of the Townshends, when the agricultural im- 
provements brought about by the second Viscount intro- 
duced much wealth to Norfolk. Such buildings as the 
Duke's Head Hotel belong to the second Viscount's 
time, and are indicative of the influx of visitors which 
the town enjoyed. In the present day this hotel, though 
still a good-sized establishment, occupies only half the 
building which it formerly did. An interesting oak 
staircase of fine proportions, though now much warped, 
may be seen here. 

In olden days the Hanseatic League had an office here. 
The Jews were plentiful and supplied capital — you can find 
their traces in the name of the "Jews' Lane Ward " — and 
then came the industrious Flemings, who brought with 
them the art of weaving cloth and peculiar modes of build- 
ing houses, so that Lynn looks almost like a little Dutch 
town. The old guild life of Lynn was strong and vigor- 
ous, from its Merchant Guild to the humbler craft guilds, 
of which we are told that there have been no less than 
seventy-five. Part of the old Guildhall, erected in 1421, 
with its chequered flint and stone gable still stands facing 
the market of St. Margaret with its Renaissance porch, 
and a bit of the guild hall of St. George the Martyr re- 
mains in King Street. The custom-house, which was 
originally built as an exchange for the Lynn merchants, 
is a notable building, and has a statue of Charles II 
placed in a niche. 

This was the earliest work of a local architect, Henry 
Bell, who is almost unknown. He was mayor of King's 
Lynn, and died in 1717, and his memory has been saved 
from oblivion by Mr. Beloe of that town, and is en- 
shrined in Mr. Blomfield's History of Renaissance Archi- 
tecture : — 

"This admirable little building originally consisted 
of an open loggia about 40 feet by 32 feet outside, with 
four columns down the centre, supporting the first floor, 
and an attic storey above. The walls are of Portland 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 39 

stone, with a Doric order to the ground storey supporting 
an Ionic order to the first floor. The cornice is of wood, 
and above this is a steep-pitched tile roof with dormers, 
surmounted by a balustrade inclosing a flat, from which 
rises a most picturesque wooden cupola. The details are 
extremely refined, and the technical knowledge and deli- 
cate sense of scale and proportion shown in this building 
are surprising in a designer who was under thirty, and is 
not known to have done any previous work." 1 

A building which the town should make an effort to 
preserve is the old " Greenland Fishery House," a tene- 
ment dating from the commencement of the seventeenth 
century. 

The Duke's Head Inn, erected in 1689, now spoilt by its 
coating of plaster, a house in Queen's Street, the old 
market cross, destroyed in 1831 and sold for old materials, 
and the altarpieces of the churches of St. Margaret and 
St. Nicholas, destroyed during "restoration," and North 
Runcton church, three miles from Lynn, are other works 
of this very able artist. 

Until the Reformation Lynn was known as Bishop's 
Lynn, and galled itself under the yoke of the Bishop of 
Norwich; but Henry freed the townsfolk from their bond- 
age and ordered the name to be changed to Lynn Regis. 
Whether the good people throve better under the control 
of the tyrant who crushed all their guilds and appro- 
priated the spoil than under the episcopal yoke may be 
doubtful ; but the change pleased them, and with satis- 
faction they placed the royal arms on their East Gate, 
which, after the manner of gates and walls, has been 
pulled down. If you doubt the former greatness of this 
old seaport you must examine its civic plate. It pos- 
sesses the oldest and most important and most beautiful 
specimen of municipal plate in England, a grand, massive 
silver-gilt cup of exquisite workmanship. It is called 
" King John's Cup," but it cannot be earlier than the 
reign of Edward III. In addition to this there is a superb 
sword of state of the time of Henry VIII, another cup, 
' History of Renaissance Architecture, by R. Blomfield. 



4 o VANISHING ENGLAND 

-four silver maces, and other treasures. Moreover, the town 
had a famous goldsmiths' company, and several speci- 
mens of their handicraft remain. The defences of the 
town were sorely tried in the Civil War, when for three 
weeks it sustained the attacks of the rebels. The town 
was forced to surrender, and the poor folk were obliged 
to pay ten shillings a head, besides a month's pay to the 
soldiers, in order to save their homes from plunder. 
Lynn has many memories. It sheltered King John when 
fleeing from the revolting barons, and kept his treasures 
until he took them away and left them in a still more 
secure place buried in the sands of the Wash. It wel- 
comed Queen Isabella during her retirement at Castle 
Rising, entertained Edward IV when he was hotly pur- 
sued by the Earl of Warwick, and has been worthy of its 
name as a loyal king's town. 

Another walled town on the Norfolk coast attracts the 
attention of all who love the relics of ancient times, Great 
Yarmouth, with its wonderful record of triumphant in- 
dustry and its associations with many great events in his- 
tory. Henry III, recognizing the important strategical 
position of the town in 1260, granted a charter to the 
townsfolk empowering them to fortify the place with a 
wall and a moat, but more than a century elapsed before 
the fortifications were completed. This was partly owing 
to the Black Death, which left few men in Yarmouth to 
carry on the work. The walls were built of cut flint and 
Caen stone, and extended from the north-east tower in 
St. Nicholas Churchyard, called King Henry's Tower, to 
Blackfriars Tower at the south end, and from the same 
King Henry's Tower to the north-west tower on the bank 
of the Bure. Only a few years ago a large portion of this, 
north of Ramp Row, now called Rampart Road, was 
taken down, much to the regret of many. And here I 
may mention a grand movement which might be with 
advantage imitated in every historic town. A small 
private company has been formed called the " Great 
Yarmouth Historical Buildings, Limited." Its object is 



42 VANISHING ENGLAND 

to acquire and preserve the relics of ancient Yarmouth. 
The founders deserve the highest praise for their public 
spirit and patriotism. How many cherished objects in 
Vanishing England might have been preserved if each 
town or county possessed such a valuable association ! 
This Yarmouth society owns the remains of the cloisters 
of Grey Friars and other remains of ancient buildings. 
It is only to be regretted that it was not formed earlier. 
There were nine gates in the walls of the town, but none 
of them are left, and of the sixteen towers which pro- 
tected the walls only a very few remain. 

These walls guard much that is important. The eccle- 
siastical buildings are very fine, including the largest 
parish church in England, founded by the same Herbert 
de Losinga whose good work we saw at King's Lynn. 
The church of St. Nicholas has had many vicissitudes, 
and is now one of the finest in the country. It was in 
medieval times the church of a Benedictine Priory ; a cell 
of the monastery at Norwich and the Priory Hall remains, 
and is now restored and used as a school. Royal guests 
have been entertained there, but part of the buildings 
were turned into cottages and the great hall into stables. 
As we have said, part of the Grey Friars Monastery re- 
mains, and also part of the house of the Augustine Friars. 
The Yarmouth rows are a great feature of the town. 
They are not like the Chester rows, but are long, narrow 
streets crossing the town from east to west, only six feet 
wide, and one row called Kitty-witches only measures at 
one end two feet three inches. It has been suggested that 
this plan of the town arose from the fishermen hanging 
out their nets to dry and leaving a narrow passage be- 
tween each other's nets, and that in course of time these 
narrow passages became defined and were permanently 
retained. In former days rich merchants and traders 
lived in the houses that line these rows, and had large 
gardens behind their dwellings ; and sometimes you can 
see relics of former greatness — a panelled room or a 
richly decorated ceiling. But the ancient glory of the 




/x --■• 



\ **r\ ""^ o c r ow Xo. S3, Great Yarmouth 



44 VANISHING ENGLAND 

rows is past, and the houses are occupied now by 
fishermen or labourers. These rows are so narrow that 
no ordinary vehicle could be driven along them. Hence 
there arose special Yarmouth carts about three and a half 
feet wide and twelve feet long with wheels underneath the 
body. Very brave and gallant have always been the 
fishermen of Yarmouth, not only in fighting the ele- 
ments, but in defeating the enemies of England. His- 
tory tells of many a sea-fight in which they did good 
service to their king and country. They gallantly 
helped to win the battle of Sluys, and sent forty-three 
ships and one thousand men to help with the siege of 
Calais in the time of Edward III. They captured and 
burned the town and harbour of Cherbourg in the time 
of Edward I, and performed many other acts of daring. 
One of the most interesting houses in the town is the 
Tolhouse, the centre of the civic life of Yarmouth. It is 
said to be six hundred years old, having been erected in 
the time of Henry III, though some of the windows are 
decorated, but may have been inserted later. Here the 
customs or tolls were collected, and the Corporation held 
its meetings. There is a curious open external staircase 
leading to the first floor, where the great hall is situated. 
Under the hall is a gaol, a wretched prison wherein the 
miserable captives were chained to a beam that ran down 
the centre. Nothing in the town bears stronger witness 
to the industry and perseverance of the Yarmouth men 
than the harbour. They have scoured the sea for a 
thousand years to fill their nets with its spoil, and made 
their trade of world-wide fame, but their port speaks 
louder in their praise. Again and again has the fickle 
sea played havoc with their harbour, silting it up with 
sand and deserting the town as if in revenge for the 
harvest they reap from her. They have had to cut out 
no less than seven harbours in the course of the town's 
existence, and royally have they triumphed over all 
difficulties and made Yarmouth a great and prosperous 
port. 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 



45 



Near Yarmouth is the little port of Gorleston with its 
old jetty-head, of which we give an illustration. It was 
once the rival of Yarmouth. The old magnificent church 
of the Augustine Friars stood in this village and had a 
lofty, square, embattled tower which was a landmark to 
sailors. But the church was unroofed and despoiled at the 
Reformation, and its remains were pulled down in 1760, 
only a small portion of the tower remaining, and this fell 
a victim to a violent storm at the beginning of the last 
century. The grand parish church was much plundered 




The Old Jetty, Gorleston 



at the Reformation, and left piteously bare by the de- 
spoilers. 

The town, now incorporated with Yarmouth, has a 
proud boast : — 

Gorleston was Gorleston ere Yarmouth begun, 
And will be Gorleston when Yarmouth is done. 

Another leading East Anglian port in former days was 
the county town of Suffolk, Ipswich. During the thir- 
teenth and fourteenth centuries ships from most of the 
countries of Western Europe disembarked their cargoes 
on its quays — wines from Spain, timber from Norway, 
cloth from Flanders, salt from France, and "mercerie" 
from Italy left its crowded wharves to be offered for sale in 



4 6 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



the narrow, busy streets of the borough. Stores of fish 
from Iceland, bales of wool, loads of untanned hides, as 
well as the varied agricultural produce of the district, were 
exposed twice in the week on the market stalls. 1 The 
learned editor of the Memorials of Old Suffolk, who knows 
the old town so well, tells us that the stalls of the 
numerous markets lay within a narrow limit of space near 
the principal churches of the town — St. Mary-le-Tower, 
St. Mildred, and St. Lawrence. The Tavern Street of 
to-day was the site of the flesh market or cowerye. A 



ss =£S3S. r 




Tudor House, Ipswich, near the Custom House 

narrow street leading thence to the Tower Church was the 
Poultry, and Cooks' Row, Butter Market, Cheese and 
Fish markets were in the vicinity. The manufacture of 
leather was the leading industry of old Ipswich, and there 
was a goodly company of skinners, barkers, and tanners 
employed in the trade. Tavern Street had, as its name 
implies, many taverns, and was called the Vintry, from the 
large number of opulent vintners who carried on their 
trade with London and Bordeaux. Many of these men 
were not merely peaceful merchants, but fought with 
Edward III in his wars with France and were knighted 

1 Cf. Memorials of Suffolk, edited by V. B. Redstone. 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 



47 



for their feats of arms. Ipswich once boasted of a castle 
which was destroyed in Stephen's reign. In Saxon times 
it was fortified by a ditch and a rampart which were de- 




Three-g'abled 1 louse, Fore Si reet, [pswich 

stroyed by the Danes, but the fortifications were renewed 
in the time of King John, when a wall was built round the 
town with four gates which took their names from the 
points of the compass. Portions of these remain to bear 



4 8 VANISHING ENGLAND 

witness to the importance of this ancient town. We give 
views of an old building near the custom-house in College 
Street and Fore Street, examples of the narrow, tortuous 
thoroughfares which modern improvements have notswep 
away. 

We cannot give accounts of all the old fortified towns 
in England and can only make selections. We have 
alluded to the ancient walls of York. Few cities can rival 
it in interest and architectural beauty, its relics of Roman 
times, its stately and magnificent cathedral, the beautiful 
ruins of St. Mary's Abbey, the numerous churches exhibit- 
ing all the grandeur of the various styles of Gothic architec- 
ture, the old merchants' hall, and the quaint old narrow 
streets with gabled houses and widely projecting storeys. 
And then there is the varied history of the place dating from 
far-off Roman times. Not the least interesting feature of 
York are its gates and walls. Some parts of the walls are 
Roman, that curious thirteen-sided building called the 
multangular tower forming part of it, and also the lower 
part of the wall leading from this tower to Bootham Bar, 
the upper part being of later origin. These walls have 
witnessed much fighting, and the cannons in the Civil 
War during the siege in 1644 battered down some por- 
tions of them and sorely tried their hearts. But they 
have been kept in good preservation and repaired at 
times, and the part on the west of the Ouse is especially 
well preserved. You can see some Norman and Early 
English work, but the bulk of it belongs to Edwardian 
times, when York played a great part in the history of 
England, and King Edward I made it his capital during 
the war with Scotland, and all the great nobles of Eng- 
land sojourned there. Edward II spent much time there, 
and the minster saw the marriage of his son. These 
walls were often sorely needed to check the inroads of 
the Scots. After Bannockburn fifteen thousand of these 
northern warriors advanced to the gates of York. The 
four gates of the city are very remarkable. Micklegate 
Bar consists of a square tower built over a circular arch of 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 



49 



Norman date with embattled turrets at the angles. On it 
the heads of traitors were formerly exposed. It bears on 
its front the arms of France as well as those of England. 







^...^■v. 



_ 






"Melia's Passage," York \ 



Bootham Bar is the main entrance from the north, and 
has a Norman arch with later additions and turrets with 
narrow slits for the discharge of arrows. It saw the burn- 
ing of the suburb of Bootham in 1265 and much blood- 
shed, when a mighty quarrel raged between the citizens 
4 



5 o VANISHING ENGLAND 

and the monks of the Abbey of St. Mary owing to the 
abuse of the privilege of sanctuary possessed by the 
monastery. Monk Bar has nothing to do with monks. 
Its former name was Goodramgate, and after the Restora- 
tion it was changed to Monk Bar in honour of General 
Monk. The present structure was probably built in the 
fourteenth century. Walmgate Bar, a strong, formidable 
structure, was built in the reign of Edward I, and as we 
have said, it is the only gate that retains its curious barbi- 
can, originally built in the time of Edward III and rebuilt 
in 1648. The inner front of the gate has been altered 
from its original form in order to secure more accom- 
modation within. The remains of the Clifford's Tower, 
which played an important part in the siege, tell of the 
destruction caused by the blowing up of the magazine in 
1683, an event which had more the appearance of design 
than accident. York abounds with quaint houses and 
narrow streets. We give an illustration of the curious 
Melia's Passage ; the origin of the name I am at a loss to 
conjecture. 

Chester is, we believe, the only city in England which 
has retained the entire circuit of its walls complete. Ac- 
cording to old unreliable legends, Marius, or Marcius, 
King of the British, grandson of Cymbeline, who began 
his reign a.d. 73, first surrounded Chester with a wall, a 
mysterious person who must be classed with Leon Gawr, or 
Vawr, a mighty strong giant who founded Chester, dig- 
ging caverns in the rocks for habitations, and with the 
story of King Leir, who first made human habitations in 
the future city. Possibly there was here a British camp. 
It was certainly a Roman city, and has preserved the form 
and plan which the Romans were accustomed to affect ; its 
four principal streets diverging at right angles from a 
common centre, and extending north, east, south, and 
west, and terminating in a gate, the other streets forming 
insulas as at Silchester. There is every reason to believe 
that the Romans surrounded the city with a wall. Its 
strength was often tried. Hither the Saxons came under 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 51 

Ethelfrith and pillaged the city, but left it to the Britons, 
who were not again dislodged until Egbert came in 828 
and recovered it. The Danish pirates came here and were 
besieged by Alfred, who slew all within its walls. These 
walls were standing but ruinous when the noble daughter 
of Alfred, Ethelfleda, restored them in 907. A volume 
would be needed to give a full account of Chester's varied 
history, and our main concern is with the treasures that 
remain. The circumference of the walls is nearly two 
miles, and there are four principal gates besides posterns 
— the North, East, Bridge-gate, and Water-gate. The 
North Gate was in the charge of the citizens ; the others 
were held by persons who had that office by serjeanty under 
the Earls of Chester, and were entitled to certain tolls, 
which, with the custody of the gates, were frequently pur- 
chased by the Corporation. The custody of the Bridge- 
gate belonged to the Raby family in the reign of Edward 
III. It had two round towers, on the westernmost of 
which was an octagonal water-tower. These were all 
taken down in 1710-81 and the gate rebuilt. The East 
Gate was given by Edward I to Henry Bradford, who was 
bound to find a crannoc and a bushel for measuring the 
salt that might be brought in. Needless to say, the old 
gate has vanished. It was of Roman architecture, and 
consisted of two arches formed by large stones. Between 
the tops of the arches, which were cased with Norman 
masonry, was the whole-length figure of a Roman 
soldier. This gate was a porta principalis, the termina- 
tion of the great Watling Street that led from Dover 
through London to Chester. It was destroyed in 1768, 
and the present gate erected by Earl Grosvenor. The 
custody of the Water-gate belonged to the Earls of Derby. 
It also was destroyed, and the present arch erected in 
1788. A new North Gate was built in 1809 by Robert, 
Earl Grosvenor. The principal postern-gates were Cale 
Yard Gate, made by the abbot and convent in the reign 
of Edward I as a passage to their kitchen garden ; New- 
gate, formerly Woollield or Wolf-gate, repaired in 1608, 



52 VANISHING ENGLAND 

also called Pepper-gate ; 1 and Ship-gate, or Hole-in-the- 
wall, which alone retains its Roman arch, and leads to 
a ferry across the Dee. 

The walls are strengthened by round towers so placed 
as not to be beyond bowshot of each other, in order 
that their arrows might reach the enemy who should 
attempt to scale the walls in the intervals. At the north- 
east corner is Newton's Tower, better known as the 
Phcenix from a sculptured figure, the ensign of one of 
the city guilds, appearing over its door. From this tower 
Charles I saw the battle of Rowton Heath and the defeat 
of his troops during the famous siege of Chester. This 
was one of the most prolonged and deadly in the whole 
history of the Civil War. It would take many pages 
to describe the varied fortunes of the gallant Chester 
men, who were at length constrained to feed on horses, 
dogs, and cats. There is much in the city to delight 
the antiquary and the artist — the famous rows, the three- 
gabled old timber mansion of the Stanleys with its 
massive staircase, oaken floors, and panelled walls, built 
in 1591, Bishop Lloyd's house in Water-gate with its 
timber front sculptured with Scripture subjects, and 
God's Providence House with its motto "God's Provi- 
dence is mine inheritance," the inhabitants of which 
are said to have escaped one of the terrible plagues 
that used to rage frequently in old Chester. 

Journeying southwards we come to Shrewsbury, another 
walled town, abounding with delightful half-timbered 
houses, less spoiled than any town we know. It was 
never a Roman town, though six miles away, at Urico- 
nium, the Romans had a flourishing city with a great 
basilica, baths, shops, and villas, and the usual acces- 
sories of luxury. Tradition says that its earliest Celtic 
name was Pengwern, where a British prince had his 

1 The Chester folk have a proverb, " When the daughter is stolen, shut 
Pepper-gate " — referring- to the well-known story of a daughter of a Mayor 
of Chester having made her escape with her lover through this gate, which 
he ordered to be closed, but too late to prevent the fugitives. 




« -R . 



Detail of Half-timbered House in 
High Street, Shrewsbury 



54 VANISHING ENGLAND 

palace ; but the town Scrobbesbyrig came into existence 
under Offa's rule in Mercia, and with the Normans came 
Roger de Montgomery, Shrewsbury's first Earl, and a 
castle and the stately abbey of SS. Peter and Paul. A 
little later the town took to itself walls, which were abun- 
dantly necessary on account of the constant inroads of 
the wild Welsh. 

For the barbican's massy and high, 

Bloudie Jacke ! 
And the oak-door is heavy and brown ; 
And with iron it's plated and machicolated, 
To pour boiling - oil and lead down ; 

How you'd frown 
Should a ladle-full fall on your crown ! 

The rock that it stands on is steep, 

Bloudie Jacke ! 
To gain it one's forced for to creep ; 
The Portcullis is strong, and the Drawbridge is long, 
And the water runs all round the Keep ; 

At a peep 
You can see that the moat's very deep ! 

So rhymed the author of the Ingoldsby Legends, when in 
his "Legend of Shropshire" he described the red stone 
fortress that towers over the loop of the Severn enclosing 
the picturesque old town of Shrewsbury. The castle, or 
rather its keep, for the outworks have disappeared, has 
been modernized past antiquarian value now. Memories 
of its importance as the key of the Northern Marches, 
and of the ancient custom of girding the knights of the 
shire with their swords by the sheriffs on the grass plot 
of its inner court, still remain. The town now stands on 
a peninsula girt by the Severn. On the high ground 
between the narrow neck stood the castle, and under its 
shelter most of the houses of the inhabitants. Around 
this was erected the first wall. The latest historian of 
Shrewsbury x tells us that it started from the gate of the 
castle, passed along the ridge at the back of Pride Hill, 
at the bottom of which it turned along the line of High 

1 The Rev. T. Auden, Shrewsbury (Methuen and Co.). 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 55 

Street, past St. Julian's Church which overhung it, to the 
top of Wyle Cop, when it followed the ridge back to the 
castle. Of the part extending from Pride Hill to Wyle 
Cop only scant traces exist at the back of more modern 
buildings. 

The town continued to grow and more extensive 
defences were needed, and in the time of Henry III, Mr. 
Auden states that this followed the old line at the back of 
Pride Hill, but as the ground began to slope downwards, 
another wall branched from it in the direction of Rous- 
hill and extended to the Welsh Bridge. This became 
the main defence, leaving the old wall as an inner ram- 
part. From the Welsh Bridge the new wall turned up 
Claremont Bank to where St. Chad's Church now stands, 
and where one of the original towers stood. Then it 
passed along Murivance, where the only existing tower 
is to be seen, and so along the still remaining portion of 
the wall to English Bridge, where it turned up the hill at 
the back of what is now Dogpole, and passing the Water- 
gate, again joined the fortifications of the castle. 1 The 
castle itself was reconstructed by Prince Edward, the son 
of Henry III, at the end of the thirteenth century, and is 
of the Edwardian type of concentric castle. The Norman 
keep was incorporated within a larger circle of tower and 
wall, forming an inner bailey ; besides this there was 
formerly an outer bailey, in which were various buildings, 
including the chapel of St. Nicholas. Only part of 
the buildings on one side of the inner bailey remains 
in its original form, but the massive character of 
the whole may be judged from the fragments now 
visible. 

These walls guarded a noble town full of churches and 
monasteries, merchants' houses, guild halls, and much 
else. We will glance at the beauties that remain : St. 
Mary's, containing specimens of every style of archi- 
tecture from Norman downward, with its curious foreign 
glass; St. Julian's, mainly rebuilt in 1 74S, though the 

1 Ibid, , p. 48. 










"■■■ S^nSg 



.A T\««- 



'■.-■•'■ ; 

Tower on the Town Wall, Shrewsbury 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 57 

old tower remains ; St. Alkmund's ; the Church of St. 
Chad ; St. Giles's Church ; and the nave and refectory 
pulpit of the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul. It is dis- 
tressing to see this interesting gem of fourteenth-century 
architecture amid the incongruous surroundings of a 
coalyard. You can find considerable remains of the 
domestic buildings of the Grey Friars' Monastery near 
the footbridge across the Severn, and also of the home of 
the Austin Friars in a builder's yard at the end of Baker 
Street. 

In many towns we find here and there an old half- 
timbered dwelling, but in Shrewsbury there is a sur- 
prising wealth of them— streets full of them, bearing 
such strange medieval names as "Mardel" or " Wyle Cop." 
Shrewsbury is second to no other town in England in 
the interest of its ancient domestic buildings. There is 
the gatehouse of the old Council House, bearing the date 
1620, with its high gable and carved barge-boards, its 
panelled front, the square spaces between the upright 
and horizontal timbers being ornamented with cut 
timber. The old buildings of the famous Shrewsbury 
School are now used as a Free Library and Museum 
and abound in interest. The house remains in which 
Prince Rupert stayed during his sojourn in 1644, 
then owned by "Master Jones the lawyer," at the west 
end of St. Mary's Church, with its fine old staircase. 
Whitehall, a fine mansion of red sandstone, was built by 
Richard Prince, a lawyer, in 1578-82, "to his great 
chardge with fame to hym and hys posterite for ever." 
The Old Market Hall in the Renaissance style, with its 
mixture of debased Gothic and classic details, is worthy of 
study. Even in Shrewsbury we have to record the work of 
the demon of destruction. The erection of the New Market 
Hall entailed the disappearance of several old picturesque 
houses. Bellstone House, erected in 1582, is incor- 
porated in the National Provincial Bank. The old 
mansion known as Vaughan's Place is swallowed up by 
the music-hall, though part of the ancient dwelling- 



58 VANISHING ENGLAND 

place remains. St. Peter's Abbey Church in the com- 
mencement of the nineteenth century had an extraordinary 
annexe of timber and plaster, probably used at one time 
as parsonage house, which, with several buttressed re- 
mains of the adjacent conventual buildings, have long 
ago been squared up and "improved" out of existence. 
Rowley's mansion, in Hill's Lane, built of brick in 1618 
by William Rowley, is now a warehouse. Butcher Row 
has some old houses with projecting storeys, including a 
fine specimen of a medieval shop. Some of the houses 
in Grope Lane lean together from opposite sides of the 
road, so that people in the highest storey can almost 
shake hands with their neighbours across the way. You 
can see the " Olde House" in which Mary Tudor is said 
to have stayed, and the mansion of the Owens, built in 
1592 as an inscription tells us, and that of the Irelands, 
with its range of bow-windows, four storeys high, and 
terminating in gables, erected about 1579. The half- 
timbered hall of the Drapers' Guild, some old houses in 
Frankwell, including the inn with the quaint sign — the 
String of Horses, the ancient hostels — the Lion, famous 
in the coaching age, the Ship, and the Raven — Bennett's 
Hall, which was the mint when Shrewsbury played its 
part in the Civil War, and last, but not least, the house 
in Wyle Cop, one of the finest in the town, where 
Henry Earl of Richmond stayed on his way to Bosworth 
field to win the English Crown. Such are some of the 
beauties of old Shrewsbury which happily have not yet 
vanished. 

Not far removed from Shrewsbury is Coventry, which 
at one time could boast of a city wall and a castle. In 
the reign of Richard II this wall was built, strengthened 
by towers. Leland, writing in the time of Henry VIII, 
states that the city was begun to be walled in when 
Edward II reigned, and that it had six gates, many fair 
towers, and streets well built with timber. Other writers 
speak of thirty-two towers and twelve gates. But few 
traces of these remain. The citizens of Coventry took an 




\ 



House thai the Earl of Richmond stayed in before the Battle 
of Bosworth, Shrewsbury 



60 VANISHING ENGLAND 

active part in the Civil War in favour of the Parliamen- 
tary army, and when Charles II came to the throne he 
ordered these defences to be demolished. The gates were 
left, but most of them have since been destroyed. 
Coventry is a city of fine old timber-framed fifteenth- 
century houses with gables and carved barge-boards and 
projecting storeys, though many of them are decayed 
and may not last many years. The city has had a 
fortunate immunity from serious fires. We give an illus- 
tration of one of the old Coventry streets called Spon 
Street, with its picturesque houses. These old streets are 
numerous, tortuous and irregular. One of the richest 
and most interesting examples of domestic architecture 
in England is St. Mary's Hall, erected in the time 
of Henry VI. Its origin is connected with ancient guilds 
of the city, and in it were stored their books and archives. 
The grotesquely carved roof, minstrels' gallery, armoury, 
state-chair, great painted window, and a fine specimen 
of fifteenth-century tapestry are interesting features of 
this famous hall, which furnishes a vivid idea of the 
manners and civic customs of the age when Coventry 
was the favourite resort of kings and princes. It has 
several fine churches, though the cathedral was levelled 
with the ground by that arch-destroyer Henry VIII. 
Coventry remains one of the most interesting towns in 
England. 

One other walled town we will single out for especial 
notice in this chapter — the quaint, picturesque, peaceful, 
placid town of Rye on the Sussex coast. It was once 
wooed by the sea, which surrounded the rocky island on 
which it stands, but the fickle sea has retired and left 
it lonely on its hill with a long stretch of marshland 
between it and the waves. This must have taken place 
about the fifteenth century. Our illustration of a disused 
mooring-post (p. 24) is a symbol of the departed greatness 
of the town as a naval station. The River Rother connects 
it with the sea, and the few barges and humble craft and 
a few small shipbuilding yards remind it of its palmy 



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62 VANISHING ENGLAND 

days when it was a member of the Cinque Ports, a rich 
and prosperous town that sent forth its ships to fight the 
naval battles of England and win honour for Rye and 
St. George. During the French wars English vessels 
often visited French ports and towns along the coast and 
burned and pillaged them. The French sailors retaliated 
with equal zest, and many of our southern towns have 
suffered from fire and sword during those adventurous 
days. 

Rye was strongly fortified by a wall with gates and 
towers and a fosse, but the defences suffered grievously 
from the attacks of the French, and the folk of Rye 
were obliged to send a moving petition to King Richard II, 
praying him "to have consideration of the poor town 
of Rye, inasmuch as it had been several times taken, and 
is unable further to repair the walls, wherefore the 
town is, on the sea-side, open to enemies." I am afraid 
that the King did not at once grant their petition, as two 
years later, in 1380, the French came again and set fire to 
the town. With the departure of the sea and the diminish- 
ing of the harbour, the population decreased and the 
prosperity of Rye declined. Refugees from France have 
on two notable occasions added to the number of its 
inhabitants. After the Massacre of St. Bartholomew 
seven hundred scared and frightened Protestants arrived 
at Rye and brought with them their industry, and later 
on, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, many 
Huguenots settled here and made it almost a French 
town. We need not record all the royal visits, the 
alarms of attack, the plagues, and other incidents that 
have diversified the life of Rye. We will glance at the 
relics that remain. The walls seem never to have re- 
covered from the attack of the French, but one gate 
is standing — the Landgate on the north-east of the town, 
built in 1360, and consisting of a broad arch flanked by 
two massive towers with chambers above for archers and 
defenders. Formerly there were two other gates, but 
these have vanished save only the sculptured arms of the 







* Tlc<u 



West Street, Rye 



64 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Cinque Ports that once adorned the Strand Gate. The 
Ypres tower is a memorial of the ancient strength of the 
town, and was originally built by William de Ypres, 
Earl of Kent, in the twelfth century, but has received 
later additions. It has a stern, gaunt appearance, and 
until recent times was used as a jail. The church 
possesses many points of unique interest. The builders 
began in the twelfth century to build the tower and 
transepts, which are Norman ; then they proceeded with 
the nave, which is Transitional ; and when they reached 
the choir, which is very large and fine, the style had 
merged into the Early English. Later windows were 
inserted in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The 
church has suffered with the town at the hands of the 
French invaders, who did much damage. The old clock, 
with its huge swinging pendulum, is curious. The 
church has a collection of old books, including some old 
Bibles, including a Vinegar and a Breeches Bible, and 
some stone cannon-balls, mementoes of the French in- 
vasion of 1448. 

Near the church is the Town Hall, which contains 
several relics of olden days. The list of mayors extends 
from the time of Edward I, and we notice the long con- 
tinuance of the office in families. Thus the Lambs held 
office from 1723 to 1832, and the Grebells from 1631 to 
1 741. A great tragedy happened in the churchyard. A 
man named Breedes had a grudge against one of the 
Lambs, and intended to kill him. He saw, as he 
thought, his victim walking along the dark path 
through the shrubs in the churchyard, attacked and 
murdered him. But he had made a mistake ; his 
victim was Mr. Grebell. The murderer was hanged 
and quartered. The Town Hall contains the an- 
cient pillory, which was described as a very handy 
affair, handcuffs, leg-irons, special constables' staves, 
which were always much needed for the usual riots 
on Gunpowder Plot Day, and the old primitive fire- 
engine dated 1745. The town has some remarkable 



OLD WALLED TOWNS 



65 



plate. There is the mayor's handbell with the in- 
scription : — 

O MATER DEI 

MEMENTO MEI. 

1566. 

PETRUS GHEINEUS 

ME FECIT. 

The maces of Queen Elizabeth with the date 1570 and 
bearing the fleur-de-lis and the Tudor rose are interest- 
ing, and the two silver maces presented by George III, 




Monogram and Inscription in the Mermaid Inn, Rye 

bearing the arms of Rye and weighing 962 oz., are said 
to be the finest in Europe. 

The chief charm of Rye is to walk along the narrow 
streets and lanes, and see the picturesque rows and 
groups of old fifteenth- and sixteenth-century houses 
with their tiled roofs and gables, weather-boarded or 
tile-hung after the manner of Sussex cottages, graceful 
bay-windows — altogether pleasing. Wherever one wan- 
ders one meets with these charming dwellings, espe- 
cially in West Street and Pump Street ; the oldest 
house in Rye being at the corner of the churchyard. 
The Mermaid Inn is delightful both outside and inside, 
with its low panelled rooms, immense fire-places and dog- 
5 



66 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



grates. We see the monogram and names and dates 
carved on the stone fire-places, 1643, 1646, the name 
Loffelholtz seeming to indicate some foreign refugee or 
settler. It is pleasant to find at least in one town in 
England so much that has been left unaltered and so 
little spoilt. 




Inscription in the Mermaid Inn, Rye 



CHAPTER IV 
IN STREETS AND LANES 

I HAVE said in another place that no country in the 
world can boast of possessing rural homes and 
villages which have half the charm and picturesque- 
ness of our English cottages and hamlets. 1 They have to 
be known in order that they may be loved. The hasty 
visitor may pass them by and miss half their attractive- 
ness. They have to be wooed in varying moods in order 
that they may display their charms — when the blossoms 
are bright in the village orchards, when the sun shines on 
the streams and pools and gleams on the glories of old 
thatch, when autumn has tinged the trees with golden 
tints, or when the hoar frost makes their bare branches 
beautiful again with new and glistening foliage. Not even 
in their summer garb do they look more beautiful. There 
is a sense of stability and a wondrous variety caused by 
the different nature of the materials used, the peculiar 
stone indigenous in various districts and the individuality 
stamped upon them by traditional modes of building. 

We have still a large number of examples of the humbler 
kind of ancient domestic architecture, but every year sees 
the destruction of several of these old buildings, which a 
little care and judicious restoration might have saved. 
Ruskin's words should be writ in bold, big letters at the 
head of the by-laws of every district council. 

11 Watch an old building with anxious care ; guard it as 
best you may, and at any cost, from any influence of 
dilapidation. Count its stones as you would the jewels of 
a crown. Set watchers about it, as if at the gate of a 

1 The Charm of the English Village (Batsford). 

67 



68 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



besieged city ; bind it together with iron when it loosens; 
stay it with timber when it declines. Do not care about the 
unsightliness of the aid — better a crutch than a lost limb ; 
and do this tenderly and reverently and continually, and 
many a generation will still be born and pass away beneath 
its shadow." 

If this sound advice had been universally taken many a 
beautiful old cottage would have been spared to us, and 
our eyes would not be offended by the wondrous creations 
of the estate agents and local builders, who have no other 




Relic of Lynn Siege in Hampton Court, King's Lynn 



ambition but to build cheaply. The contrast between the 
new and the old is indeed deplorable. The old cottage 
is a thing of beauty. Its odd, irregular form and various 
harmonious colouring, the effects of weather, time, and 
accident, environed with smiling verdure and sweet old- 
fashioned garden flowers, its thatched roof, high gabled 
front, inviting porch overgrown with creepers, and case- 
ment windows, all combine to form a fair and beautiful 
home. And then look at the modern cottage with its 
glaring brick walls, slate roof, ungainly stunted chimney, 
and note the difference. Usually these modern cottages 
are built in a row, each one exactly like its fellow, with 



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70 VANISHING ENGLAND 

door and window frames exactly alike, brought over ready- 
made from Norway or Sweden. The walls are thin, and 
the winds of winter blow through them piteously, and if 
a man and his wife should unfortunately "have words" 
(the pleasing country euphemism for a violent quarrel) all 
their neighbours can hear them. The scenery is utterly 
spoilt by these ugly eyesores. Villas at Hindhead seem 
to have broken out upon the once majestic hill like a red 
skin eruption. The jerry-built villa is invading our heaths 
and pine-woods ; every street in our towns is undergoing 
improvement; we are covering whole counties with houses. 
In Lancashire no sooner does one village end its mean 
streets than another begins. London is ever enlarging 
itself, extending its great maw over all the country round. 
The Rev. Canon Erskine Clarke, Vicar of Battersea, 
when he first came to reside near Clapham Junction, 
remembers the green fields and quiet lanes with trees on 
each side that are now built over. The street leading 
from the station lined with shops forty years ago had 
hedges and trees on each side. There were great houses 
situated in beautiful gardens and parks wherein resided 
some of the great City merchants, county families, the 
leaders in old days of the influential "Clapham sect." 
These gardens and parks have been covered with streets 
and rows of cottages and villas ; some of the great houses 
have been pulled down and others turned into schools or 
hospitals, valued only at the rent of the land on which 
they stand. All this is inevitable. You cannot stop all 
this any more than Mrs. Partington could stem the 
Atlantic tide with a housemaid's mop. But ere the flood 
has quite swallowed up all that remains of England's 
natural and architectural beauties, it may be useful to 
glance at some of the buildings that remain in town and 
country ere they have quite vanished. 

Beneath the shade of the lordly castle of Warwick, 
which has played such an important part in the history 
of England, the town of Warwick sprang into existence, 
seeking protection in lawless times from its strong walls 



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72 VANISHING ENGLAND 

and powerful garrison. Through its streets often rode 
in state the proud rulers of the castle with their men-at- 
arms — the Beauchamps, the Nevilles, including the great 
"King-maker," Richard Neville, the Dudleys, and the 
Grevilles. They contributed to the building of their 
noble castle, protected the town, and were borne to 
their last resting-place in the fine church, where their 
tombs remain. The town has many relics of its lords, 
and possesses many half-timbered graceful houses. Mill 
Street is one of the most picturesque groups of old-time 
dwellings, a picture that lingers in our minds long after 
we have left the town and fortress of the grim old Earls of 
Warwick. 

Oxford is a unique city. There is no place like it in 
the world. Scholars of Cambridge, of course, will tell 
me that I am wrong, and that the town on the Cam is a 
far superior place, and then point triumphantly to "the 
backs." Yes, they are very beautiful, but as a loyal son 
of Oxford I may be allowed to prefer that stately city 
with its towers and spires, its wealth of college buildings, 
its exquisite architecture unrivalled in the world. Nor is 
the new unworthy of the old. The buildings at Mag- 
dalen, at Brazenose, and even the New Schools harmo- 
nize not unseemly with the ancient structures. Happily 
Keble is far removed from the heart of the city, so that 
that somewhat unsatisfactory, unsuccessful pile of brick- 
work interferes not with its joy. In the streets and lanes 
of modern Oxford we can search for and discover many 
types of old-fashioned, humble specimens of domestic art, 
and we give as an illustration some houses which date 
back to Tudor times, but have, alas ! been recently de- 
molished. 

Many conjectures have been made as to the reason why 
our forefathers preferred to rear their houses with the 
upper storeys projecting out into the streets. We can 
understand that in towns where space was limited it 
would be an advantage to increase the size of the upper 
rooms, if one did not object to the lack of air in the 



IN STREETS AND LANES 



73 



narrow street and the absence of sunlight. But we find 
these same projecting storeys in the depth of the country, 
where there could have been no restriction as to the 
ground to be occupied by the house. Possibly the 




i udof i CTje.w\cr» 

fashion was first established of necessity in towns, and 
the traditional mode of building was continued in the 
country. Some say that by this means our ancestors 
tried to protect the lower part of the house, the founda- 
tions, from the influence of the weather; others with 



74 VANISHING ENGLAND 

some ingenuity suggest that these projecting storeys were 
intended to form a covered walk for passengers in the 
streets, and to protect them from the showers of slops 
which the careless housewife of Elizabethan times cast 
recklessly from the upstairs windows. Architects tell us 
that it was purely a matter of construction. Our fore- 
fathers used to place four strong corner-posts, framed 
from the trunks of oak trees, firmly sunk into the ground 
with their roots left on and placed upward, the roots 
curving outwards so as to form supports for the upper 
storeys. These curved parts, and often the posts also, 
were often elaborately carved and ornamented, as in the 
example which our artist gives us of a corner-post of a 
house in Ipswich. 

In The Charm of the English Village I have tried to 
describe the methods of the construction of these timber- 
framed houses, 1 and it is perhaps unnecessary for me to 
repeat what is there recorded. In fact, there were three 
types of these dwelling-places, to which have been given 
the names Post and Pan, Transom Framed, and Intertie 
Work. In judging of the age of a house it will be 
remembered that the nearer together the upright posts 
are placed the older the house is. The builders as time 
went on obtained greater confidence, set their posts 
wider apart, and held them together by transoms. 

Surrey is a county of good cottages and farm-houses, 
and these have had their chroniclers in Miss Gertrude 
Jekyll's delightful Old West Surrey and in the more 
technical work of Mr. Ralph Nevill, f.s.a. The numer- 
ous works on cottage and farm-house building published 
by Mr. Batsford illustrate the variety of styles that pre- 
vailed in different counties, and which are mainly 
attributable to the variety in the local materials in the 
counties. Thus in the Cotswolds, Northamptonshire, 
Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Westmorland, Somersetshire, 
and elsewhere there is good building-stone ; and there we 
find charming examples of stone-built cottages and farm- 

1 The CJiarm of the English Village, pp. 50-7. 



! ?? II - E»ffl/fi 1M! I fill 







-■ 



,.S i ..... 



II' M , . 

"ill fj % 

f J, 



o.«- 




Gothic Corner-post. Tlie Half Moon Inn, Ipswich 



7 6 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



houses, altogether satisfying. In several counties where 
there is little stone and large forests of timber we find 
the timber-framed dwelling flourishing in all its native 
beauty. In Surrey there are several materials for build- 




"Y^A' T\o 



Timber-built House, Shrewsbury 



ing, hence there is a charming diversity of domiciles. 
Even the same building sometimes shows walls of stone 
and brick, half-timber and plaster, half-timber and tile- 
hanging, half-timber with panels filled with red brick, 
and roofs of thatch or tiles, or stone slates which the 
Horsham quarries supplied. 



IN STREETS AND LANES 



77 



These Surrey cottages have changed with age. Origin- 
ally they were built with timber frames, the panels being 
filled in with wattle and daub, but the storms of many 
winters have had their effect upon the structure. Rain 
drove through the walls, especially when the ends of the 
wattle rotted a little, and draughts were strong enough to 
blow out the rushlights and to make the house very un- 
comfortable. Oak timbers often shrink. Hence the joints 
came apart, and being exposed to the weather became 
decayed. In consequence of this the buildings settled, 



-o 





and new methods had to be devised to make them weather- 
proof. The villages therefore adopted two or three 
means in order to attain this end. They plastered the 
whole surface of the walls on the outside, or they hung 
them with deal boarding or covered them with tiles. In 
Surrey tile-hung houses are more common than in any 
other part of the country. This use of weather-tiles is not 
very ancient, probably not earlier than 1750, and much of 
this work was done in that century or early in the nine- 
teenth. Many of these tile-hung houses are the old 
sixteenth-century timber-framed structures in a new shell. 
Weather-tiles are generally flatter and thinner than those 
used for roofing, and when bedded in mortar make a 
thoroughly weather-proof wall. Sometimes they are 
nailed to boarding, but the former plan makes the work 
more durable, though the courses are not so regular. 



78 VANISHING ENGLAND 

These tiles have various shapes, of which the commonest 
is semicircular, resembling a fish-scale. The same form 
with a small square shoulder is very generally used, but 
there is a great variety, and sometimes those with orna- 
mental ends are blended with plain ones. Age imparts a 
very beautiful colour to old tiles, and when covered with 
lichen they assume a charming appearance which artists 
love to depict. 

The mortar used in these old buildings is very strong 
and good. In order to strengthen the mortar used in 
Sussex and Surrey houses and elsewhere, the process of 
"galleting" or "garreting" was adopted. The brick- 
layers used to decorate the rather wide and uneven mortar 
joint with small pieces of black ironstone stuck into the 
mortar. Sussex was once famous for its ironwork, and 
ironstone is found in plenty near the surface of the ground 
in this district. "Galleting" dates back to Jacobean 
times, and is not to be found in sixteenth-century work. 

Sussex houses are usually whitewashed and have 
thatched roofs, except when Horsham slates or tiles are 
used. Thatch as a roofing material will soon have alto- 
gether vanished with other features of vanishing England. 
District councils in their by-laws usually insert regula- 
tions prohibiting thatch to be used for roofing. This is 
one of the mysteries of the legislation of district councils. 
Rules, suitable enough for towns, are applied to the country 
villages, where they are altogether unsuitable or unneces- 
sary. The danger of fire makes it inadvisable to have 
thatched roofs in towns, or even in some villages where 
the houses are close together, but that does not apply to 
isolated cottages in the country. The district councils 
do not compel the removal of thatch, but prohibit new 
cottages from being roofed with that material. There is, 
however, another cause for the disappearance of thatched 
roofs, which form such a beautiful feature in the English 
landscape. Since mowing-machines came into general 
use in the harvest fields the straw is so bruised that it is 
not fit for thatching, at least it is not so suitable as the 




m 

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ill; w N^i 



Is 



• -■ « » h 



7 



in 



wis fitt^fe= >|y-fi / 




l.jSzzx-. 







So VANISHING ENGLAND 

straw which was cut by the hand. Thatching, too, is 
almost a lost art in the country. Indeed ricks have to be 
covered with thatch, but "the work for this temporary 
purpose cannot compare with that of the old roof-thatcher, 
with his ' strood ' or ' frail ' to hold the loose straw, and 
his spars — split hazel rods pointed at each end — that with 
a dexterous twist in the middle make neat pegs for the 
fastening of the straw rope that he cleverly twists with a 
simple implement called a 'wimble.' The lowest course 
was finished with an ornamental bordering of rods with a 
diagonal criss-cross pattern between, all neatly pegged 
and held down by the spars." 1 

Horsham stone makes splendid roofing material. This 
stone easily flakes into plates like thick slates, and forms 
large grey flat slabs on which "the weather works like a 
great artist in harmonies of moss lichen and stain. No 
roofing so combines dignity and homeliness, and no 
roofing, except possibly thatch (which, however, is short- 
lived), so surely passes into the landscape."- It is to be 
regretted that this stone is no longer used for roofing — 
another feature of vanishing England. The stone is 
somewhat thick and heavy, and modern rafters are not 
adapted to bear their weight. If you want to have a roof 
of Horsham stone, you can only accomplish your purpose 
by pulling down an old cottage and carrying off the slabs. 
Perhaps the small Cotswold stone slabs are even more 
beautiful. Old Lancashire and Yorkshire cottages have 
heavy stone roofs which somewhat resemble those fashioned 
with Horsham slabs. 

The builders and masons of our country cottages were 
cunning men, and adapted their designs to their materials. 
You will have noticed that the pitch of the Horsham-slated 
roof is unusually flat. They observed that when the sides 
of the roof were deeply sloping, as in the case of thatched 
roofs, the heavy stone slates strained and dragged at 
the pegs and laths and fell and injured the roof. Hence 

1 Old West Surrey, by Gertrude Jekyll, p. 206. 

2 Highways and Byways in Sussex, by E. V. Lucas. 



IN STREETS AND LANES 



Si 



they determined to make the slope less steep. Unfor- 
tunately the rain did not then easily run off, and in order 
to prevent the water penetrating into the house they were 
obliged to adopt additional precautions. Therefore they 
cemented their roofs and stopped them with mortar. 

Very lovely are these South Country cottages, peaceful, 








->£> 






> I 1 - 



v.. -^ 




riff .^s*tW 




Cottage at Capel, Surrey 



*"R 



c <u 



picturesque, pleasant, with their graceful gables and jutting 
eaves, altogether delightful. Well sang a loyal Sussex 

' If I ever become a rich man, 

Or if over I grow t'> be old, 
I will build a house with deep thatch 1 

To shelter me from the cold ; 
And there shall the Sussex songs be sung 

And the story of Sussex told, 

1 I fear the poet's plans will never be passed by the rural dtsti II I council. 

6 



82 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



We give some good examples of Surrey cottages at the 
village of Capel in the neighbourhood of Dorking, a 
charming region for the study of cottage-building. There 
you can see some charming ingle-nooks in the interior of 
the dwellings, and some grand farm-houses. Attached to 
the ingle-nook is the oven, wherein bread is baked in the 




IIM 









T 



Farm-house, Horsmonden, Kent 



**<A ~^^o«_ 



old-fashioned way, and the chimneys are large and carried 
up above the floor of the first storey, so as to form space 
for curing bacon. 

Horsmonden, Kent, near Lamberhurst, is beautifully 
situated among well-wooded scenery, and the farm-house 
shown in the illustration is a good example of the pleasant 
dwellings to be found therein. 

East Anglia has no good building-stone, and brick and 
flint are the principal materials used in that region. The 



IN STREETS AND LANES 



83 



houses built of the dark, dull, thin old bricks, not of the 
great staring modern varieties, are very charming, espe- 
cially when they are seen against a background of 
wooded hills. We give an illustration of some cottages 
at Stow Langtoft, Suffolk. 




'- \ 



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f ; '-, 



Seventeenth-century Cottages, Stow Langtoft, Suffolk 

The old town of Banbury, celebrated for its cakes, its 
Cross, and its fine lady who rode on a white horse accom- 
panied by the sound of bells, has some excellent ' ' black and 
white" houses with pointed gables and enriched barge- 
boards pierced in every variety of patterns, their finials 
and pendants, and pargeted fronts, which give an air of 
picturesqueness contrasting strangely with the stiffness of 



84 VANISHING ENGLAND 

the modern brick buildings. In one of these is established 
the old Banbury Cake Shop. In the High Street there is a 
very perfect example of these Elizabethan houses, erected 
about the year 1600. It has a fine oak staircase, the newels 
beautifully carved and enriched with pierced finials and 
pendants. The market-place has two good specimens of 
the same date, one of which is probably the front of the 
Unicorn Inn, and had a fine pair of wooden gates bearing 
the date 1684, which I am glad to hear still remain 
there. The Reindeer Inn is one of the chief architectural 
attractions of the town. We see the dates 1624 and 1637 
inscribed on different parts of the building, but its chief 
glory is the Globe Room, with a large window, rich plaster 
ceiling, good panelling, elaborately decorated doorways 
and chimney-piece. The courtyard is a fine specimen of 
sixteenth-century architecture. A curious feature is the 
mounting-block near the large oriel window. It must 
have been designed not for mounting horses, unless these 
were of giant size, but for climbing to the top of coaches. 
The Globe Room is a typical example of Vanishing 
England, as it is reported that the whole building has 
been sold for transportation to America. We give an 
illustration of some old houses in Paradise Square, 
that does not belie its name. The houses all round 
the square are thatched, and the gardens in the centre 
are a blaze of colour, full of old-fashioned flowers. The 
King's Head Inn has a good courtyard. Banbury 
suffered from a disastrous fire in 1628 which destroyed a 
great part of the town, and called forth a vehement 
sermon from the Rev. William Whateley, of two hours' 
duration, on the depravity of the town, which merited 
such a severe judgment. In spite of the fire much old 
work survived, and we give an illustration of a Tudor fire- 
place which you cannot now discover, as it is walled up 
into the passage of an ironmonger's shop. 

The old ports and harbours are always attractive. The 
old fishermen mending their nets delight to tell their 
stories of their adventures, and retain their old customs 











r I 



rs, 



33 

a 



,1 rV'lt J 




86 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



and usages, which are profoundly interesting to the lovers 
of folk-lore. Their houses are often primitive and quaint. 
There is the curious Fish House at Littleport, Cambridge- 
shire, with part of it built of stone, having a gable and 
Tudor weather-moulding over the windows. The rest of 
the building was added at a later date. 

In Upper Deal there is an interesting house which 



***" 



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ir 






i i / 



! I J !- 



I ^% ' i mm mml\ 
Ay ^ 



o «- 



Sixteenth-century Cottage, formerly standing in Upper Deal, Kent 

shows Flemish influence in the construction of its pictur- 
esque gable and octagonal chimney, and contrasted with it 
an early sixteenth-century cottage much the worse for wear. 

We give a sketch of a Portsmouth row which resembles 
in narrowness those at Yarmouth, and in Crown Street 
there is a battered, three-gabled, weather-boarded house 
which has evidently seen better days. There is a fine 
canopy over the front door of Buckingham House, wherein 
George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, was assassinated 
by John Felton on August 23rd, 1628. 

The Vale of Aylesbury is one of the sweetest and most 
charmingly characteristic tracts of land in the whole of 



-iiij- 



. —^i 






T/ 








if 



P? - 



Mil) ^trW \a^- 



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liffTffii 



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88 VANISHING ENGLAND 

rural England, abounding with old houses. The whole 
countryside literally teems with picturesque evidences of 
the past life and history of England. Ancient landmarks 
and associations are so numerous that it is difficult to 
mention a few without seeming to ignore unfairly their 
equally interesting neighbours. Let us take the London 
road, which enters the shire from Middlesex and makes 
for Aylesbury, a meandering road with patches of scenery 
strongly suggestive of Birket Foster's landscapes. Down 
a turning at the foot of the lovely Chiltern Hills lies the 
secluded village of Chalfont St. Giles. Here Milton, the 
poet, sought refuge from plague-stricken London among 
a colony of his friends, and here remains, in a very 
perfect state, the cottage in which he lived and was visited 
by Andrew Marvel. It is said that his neighbour Elwood, 
one of the Quaker fraternity, suggested the idea of " Para- 
dise Regained," and that the draft of the latter poem 
was written upon a great oak table which may be seen in 
one of the low-pitched rooms on the ground floor. I 
fancy that Milton must have beautified and repaired the 
cottage at the period of his tenancy. The mantelpiece 
with its classic ogee moulding belongs certainly to his 
day, and some other minor details may also be noticed 
which support this inference. It is not difficult to imagine 
that one who was accustomed to metropolitan comforts 
would be dissatisfied with the open hearth common to 
country cottages of that poet's time, and have it enclosed 
in the manner in which we now see it. Outside the 
garden is brilliant with old-fashioned flowers, such as the 
poet loved. A stone scutcheon may be seen peeping 
through the shrubbery which covers the front of the 
cottage, but the arms which it displays are those of the 
Fleetwoods, one time owners of these tenements. Between 
the years 1709 and 1807 the house was used as an inn. 
Milton's cottage is one of our national treasures, which 
(though not actually belonging to the nation) has success- 
fully resisted purchase by our American cousins and 
transportation across the Atlantic. 







;hl 1 if: 




A Portsnioutii " Row" 



9 o 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



The entrance to the churchyard in Chalfont St. Giles is 
through a wonderfully picturesque turnstile or lich-gate 
under an ancient house in the High Street. The gate 
formerly closed itself mechanically by means of a pulley 
to which was attached a heavy weight. Unfortunately 




ml 



'." V^;'-*^'- ' 



jsm 






A T\cc 



Lich-gate, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks 



,vi.-.if2 



this weight was not boxed in — as in the somewhat similar 
example at Hayes, in Middlesex — and an accident which 
happened to some children resulted in its removal. 

A good many picturesque old houses remain in the 
village, among them being one called Stonewall Farm, a 
structure of the fifteenth century with an original billet- 
moulded porch and Gothic barge-boards. 

There is a certain similarity about the villages that dot 



IN STREETS AND LANES 



9i 



the Vale of Aylesbury. The old Market House is usually 
a feature of the High Street — where it has not been spoilt 
as at Wendover. Groups of picturesque timber cottages, 
thickest round the church, and shouldered here and there 
by their more respectable and severe Georgian brethren, 
are common to all, and vary but little in their general 
aspect and colouring. Memories and legends haunt every 
hamlet, the very names of which have an ancient sound 
carrying us vaguely back to former days. Prince's 
Risborough, once a manor of 
the Black Prince; Wendover, 
the birthplace of Rogerof Wen- 
dover, the medieval historian, 
and author of the Chronicle 
Flores Historiarum, or History 
of the World from the Creation \ 
to the year 12J5, in modern 
language a somewhat "large 
order"; Hampden, identified 
to all time with the patriot of 
that name ; and so on indefi- 
nitely. At Monk's Risborough, 
another hamletwith an ancient- 
sounding name, but possessing 
no special history, is a church 

of the Perpendicular period containing some features of 
exceptional interest, and internally one of the most charm- 
ingly picturesque of its kind. The carved tie-beams of 
the porch with their masks and tracery and the great 
stone stoup which appears in one corner have an un- 
restored appearance which is quite delightful in these 
days of over-restoration. The massive oak door has some 
curious iron fittings, and the interior of the church itself 
displays such treasures as a magnificent early Tudor roof 
and an elegant fifteenth-century chancel-screen, on the 
latter of which some remains of ancient painting exist. 1 
Thame, just across the Oxfordshire border, is another 

1 The rood-loft has unfortunately disappeared. 




Fifteenth-century Handle on 

Church Door, Monk's 

Risborough, Bucks 



92 VANISHING ENGLAND 

town of the greatest interest. The noble parish church 
here contains a number of fine brasses and tombs, includ- 
ing the recumbent effigies of John, Lord Williams of 
Thame and his wife, who flourished in the reign of Oueen 
Mary. The chancel-screen is of uncommon character, the 
base being richly decorated with linen panelling, while 
above rises an arcade in which Gothic form mingles freely 
with the grotesqueness of the Renaissance. The choir- 
stalls are also lavishly ornamented with the linen-fold 
decoration. 

The centre of Thame's broad High Street is narrowed 
by an island of houses, once termed Middle Row, and 
above the jumble of tiled roofs here rises like a watch- 
tower a most curious and interesting medieval house 
known as the "Bird Cage Inn." About this structure 
little is known ; it is, however, referred to in an old docu- 
ment as the "tenement called the Cage, demised to James 
Rosse by indenture for the term of ioo years, yielding 
therefor by the year 8s.," and appears to have been 
a farm-house. The document in question is a grant 
of Edward VI to Sir John William of the Chantry or 
Guild of St. Christopher in Thame, founded by Richard 
Quartemayne, Squier, who died in the year 1460. This 
house, though in some respects adapted during later 
years from its original plan, is structurally but little 
altered, and should be taken in hand and intelligently 
restored as an object of local attraction and interest. The 
choicest oaks of a small forest must have supplied its 
framework, which stands firm as the day when it was 
built. The fine corner-posts (now enclosed) should be 
exposed to view, and the mullioned windows which jut 
out over a narrow passage should be opened up. If this 
could be done — and not overdone— the "Bird Cage" 
would hardly be surpassed as a miniature specimen of 
medieval timber architecture in the county. A stone 
doorway of Gothic form and a kind of almery or safe 
exist in its cellars. 

A school was founded at Thame by John, Lord 



IN STREETS AND LANES 93 

Williams, whose recumbent effigy exists in the church, 
and amongst the students there during the second quarter 
of the seventeenth century was Anthony Wood, the 
Oxford antiquary. Thame about this time was the 
centre of military operations between the King's forces 
and the rebels, and was continually being beaten up by 
one side or the other. Wood, though but a boy at the 
time, has left on record in his narrative some vivid im- 
pressions of the conflicts which he personally witnessed, 
and which bring the disjointed times before us in a vision 
of strange and absolute reality. 

He tells of Colonel Blagge, the Governor of Walling- 
ford Castle, who was on a marauding expedition, being 
chased through the streets of Thame by Colonel Crafford, 
who commanded the Parliamentary garrison at Ayles- 
bury, and how one man fell from his horse, and the 
Colonel "held a pistol to him, but the trooper cried 
' Ouarter ! ' and the rebels came up and rifled him and 
took him and his horse away with them." On another 
occasion, just as a company of Roundhead soldiers were 
sitting down to dinner, a Cavalier force appeared " to 
beat up their quarters," and the Roundheads retired in a 
hurry, leaving "A. W. and the schoolboyes, sojourners 
in the house," to enjoy their venison pasties. 

He tells also of certain doings at the Nag's Head, a 
house that still exists — a very ancient hostelry, though 
not nearly so old a building as the Bird Cage Inn. The 
sign is no longer there, but some interesting features 
remain, among them the huge strap hinges on the outer 
door, fashioned at their extremities in the form of fleurs- 
de-lis. We should like to linger long at Thame and 
describe the wonders at Thame Park, with its remains ot 
a Cistercian abbey and the fine Tudor buildings of 
Robert King, last abbot and afterward the first Bishop 
of Oxford. The three fine oriel windows and stair-turret, 
the noble Gothic dining-hall and abbot's parlour panelled 
with oak in the style of the linen pattern, are some of the 
finest Tudor work in the country. The Prebendal house 



94 VANISHING ENGLAND 

and chapel built by Grossetete are also worthy of the 
closest attention. The chapel is an architectural gem of 
Early English design, and the rest of the house with its 
later Perpendicular windows is admirable. Not far away 
is the interesting village of Long Crendon, once a market- 
town, with its fine church and its many picturesque houses, 
including Staple Hall, near the church, with its noble 
hall, used for more than five centuries as a manorial 
court-house on behalf of various lords of the manor, 
including Queen Katherine, widow of Henry V. It 
has now fortunately passed into the care of the National 
Trust, and its future is secured for the benefit of the 
nation. The house is a beautiful half-timbered structure, 
and was in a terribly dilapidated condition. It is interest- 
ing both historically and architecturally, and is note- 
worthy as illustrating the continuity of English life, that 
the three owners from whom the Trust received the build- 
ing, Lady Kinloss, All Souls' College, and the Eccle- 
siastical Commissioners, are the successors in title of 
three daughters of an Earl of Pembroke in the thirteenth 
century. It is fortunate that the old house has fallen into 
such good hands. The village has a Tudor manor-house 
which has been restored. 

Another court-house, that at Udimore, in Sussex, near 
Rye, has, we believe, been saved by the Trust, though the 
owner has retained possession. It is a picturesque half- 
timbered building of two storeys with modern wings 
projecting at right angles at each end. The older por- 
tion is all that remains of a larger house which appears to 
have been built in the fifteenth century. The manor be- 
longed to the Crown, and it is said that both Edward I 
and Edward III visited it. The building was in a very 
dilapidated condition, and the owner intended to destroy 
it and replace it with modern cottages. We hope that 
this scheme has now been abandoned, and that the old 
house is safe for many years to come. 

At the other end of the county of Oxfordshire remote 
from Thame is the beautiful little town of Burford, the 







1 i I! / 




;.v 



■ - *j 



Weather-boarded Houses, Crown Street, 

Portsmouth 



-> ... I ■— • •• -. / 



96 VANISHING ENGLAND 

gem of the Cotswolds. No wonder that my friend 
"Sylvanus Urban," otherwise Canon Beeching, sings of 
its charm : — 

Oh fair is Moreton in the marsh 

And Stow on the wide wold, 
Yet fairer far is Burford town 

With its stone roofs grey and old ; 
And whether the sky be hot and high, 

Or rain fall thin and chill, 
The grey old town on the lonely down 

Is where I would be still. 

O broad and smooth the Avon flows 

By Stratford's many piers ; 
And Shakespeare lies by Avon's side 

These thrice a hundred years ; 
But I would be where Windrush sweet 

Laves Burford's lovely hill — 
The grey old town on the lonely down 

Is where I would be still. 

It is unlike any other place, this quaint old Burford, a 
right pleasing place when the sun is pouring its beams 
upon the fantastic creations of the builders of long ago, 
and when the moon is full there is no place in England 
which surpasses it in picturesqueness. It is very quiet 
and still now, but there was a time when Burford cloth, 
Burford wool, Burford stone, Burford malt, and Burford 
saddles were renowned throughout the land. Did not the 
townsfolk present two of its famous saddles to "Dutch 
William " when he came to Burford with the view of 
ingratiating himself into the affections of his subjects 
before an important general election? It has been the 
scene of battles. Not far off is Battle Edge, where the 
fierce kings of Wessex and Mercia fought in 720 a.d. on 
Midsummer Eve, in commemoration of which the good 
folks of Burford used to carry a dragon up and down the 
streets, the great dragon of Wessex. Perhaps the origin 
of this procession dates back to early pagan days before 
the battle was fought, but tradition connects it with the 
fight. Memories cluster thickly around one as you walk 
up the old street. It was the first place in England to 
receive the privilege of a Merchant Guild. The gaunt 
Earl of Warwick, the King-maker, owned the place, and 



IN STREETS AND LANES 



97 



appropriated to himself the credit of erecting the alms- 
houses, though Henry Bird gave the money. You can 
still see the Earl's signature at the foot of the document 
relating to this foundation — R. Warrewych — the only 
signature known save one at Belvoir. You can see the 
ruined Burford Priory. It is not the conventual build- 
ing wherein the monks lived in pre-Reformation days and 
served God in the grand old church that is Burford's chief 
glory. Edmund Harman, the royal barber-surgeon, re- 
ceived a grant of the Priory from Henry VIII for curing 
him from a severe illness. Then Sir Laurence Tanfield, 
Chief Baron of the Exchequer, owned it, who married a 
Burford lady, Elizabeth Cobbe. An aged correspondent 



-SWH0KF5EDU 



TV 



Inscription on Font, Parish Church, Burford, Oxon 



tells me that in the days of her youth there was standing a 
house called Cobb Hall, evidently the former residence of 
Lady Tanfield's family. He built a grand Elizabethan 
mansion on the site of the old Priory, and here was born 
Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland, who was slain in Newbury 
fight. That Civil War brought stirring times to Burford. 
You have heard of the fame of the Levellers, the dis- 
contented mutineers in Cromwell's army, the followers of 
John Lilburne, who for a brief space threatened the exist- 
ence of the Parliamentary regime. Cromwell dealt with 
them with an iron hand. He caught and surprised them 
at Burford and imprisoned them in the church, wherein 
carved roughly on the font with a dagger you can see this 
touching memorial of one of these poor men : — 

ANTHONY SEDLEY PRISNER 1 649. 

Three of the leaders were shot in the churchyard on the 

7 



9 8 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



following morning in view of the other prisoners, who 
were placed on the leaden roof of the church, and 
you can still see the bullet-holes in the old wall against 
which the unhappy men were placed. The following 




Detail of Fifteenth-century Barge-board, Burford, Oxon. 

entries in the books of the church tell the sad story 
tersely : — 

Burials. — " 1649 Three soldiers shot to death in Burford 

Churchyard May 17th." 
" Pd. to Daniel Muncke for cleansinge the Church when 

the Levellers were taken 3s. 4d." 

A walk through the streets of the old town is refreshing 
to an antiquary's eyes. The old stone buildings grey 
with age with tile roofs, the old Tolsey much restored, 
the merchants' guild mark over many of the ancient door- 



Ill ' " • ./ 1 







ioo VANISHING ENGLAND 

ways, the noble church with its eight chapels and fine 
tombs, the plate of the old corporation, now in the custody 
of its oldest surviving member (Burford has ceased to be 
an incorporated borough), are all full of interest. Van- 
dalism is not, however, quite lacking, even in Burford. 
One of the few Gothic chimneys remaining, a gem with a 
crocketed and pinnacled canopy, was taken down some 
thirty years ago, while the Priory is said to be in danger 
of being pulled down, though a later report speaks only 
of its restoration. In the coaching age the town was 
alive with traffic, and Burford races, established by the 
Merry Monarch, brought it much gaiety. At the George 
Inn, now degraded from its old estate and cut up into 
tenements, Charles I stayed. It was an inn for more than 
a century before his time, and was only converted from 
that purpose during the early years of the nineteenth 
century, when the proprietor of the Bull Inn bought it up 
and closed its doors to the public with a view to improving 
the prosperity of his own house. The restoration of the 
picturesque almshouses founded by Henry Bird in the time 
of the King-maker, a difficult piece of work, was well 
carried out in the decadent days of the "twenties," and 
happily they do not seem to have suffered much in the 
process. 

During our wanderings in the streets and lanes of rural 
England we must not fail to visit the county of Essex. It 
is one of the least picturesque of our counties, but it 
possesses much wealth of interesting antiquities in the 
timber houses at Colchester, Saffron Walden, the old town 
of Maldon, the inns at Chigwell and Brentwood, and the 
halls of Layer Marney and Horsham at Thaxted. Saffron 
Walden is one of those quaint agricultural towns whose 
local trade is a thing of the past. From the records which 
are left of it in the shape of prints and drawings, the 
town in the early part of the nineteenth century must 
have been a medieval wonder. It is useless now to rail 
against the crass ignorance and vandalism which has 
swept away so many irreplaceable specimens of bygone 



IN STREETS AND LANES 101 

architecture only to fill their sites with brick boxes, 
"likely indeed and all alike." 

Itineraries of the Georgian period when mentioning 
Saffron Walden describe the houses as being of "mean 
appearance," 1 which remark, taking into consideration the 
debased taste of the times, is significant. A perfect holo- 
caust followed, which extending through that shocking 
time known as the Churchwarden Period has not yet 
spent itself in the present day. Municipal improvements 
threaten to go further still, and in these commercial days, 
when combined capital under such appellations as the 
"Metropolitan Co-operative" or the "Universal Supply 
Stores" endeavours to increase its display behind plate- 
glass windows of immodest size, the life of old buildings 
seems painfully insecure'. 

A good number of fine early barge-boards still remain 
in Saffron Walden, and the timber houses which have 
been allowed to remain speak only too eloquently of the 
beauties which have vanished. One of these structures — 
a large timber building or collection of buildings, for the 
dates of erection are various — stands in Church Street, 
and was formerly the Sun Inn, a hostel of much import- 
ance in bygone times. This house of entertainment is 
said to have been in 1645 the quarters of the Parlia- 
mentary Generals Cromwell, Ireton, and Skippon. In 
1870, during the conversion of the Sun Inn into private 
residences, some glazed tiles were discovered bricked up 
in what had once been an open hearth. These tiles were 
collectively painted with a picture on each side of the 
hearth, and bore the inscription " W. E. 1730," while 
on one of them a bust of the Lord Protector was de- 
picted, thus showing the tradition to have been honoured 
during the second George's time. 2 Saffron Walden was 
the rendezvous of the Parliamentarian forces after the 

1 Excursions in Essex, published in iSiq, states : " The old market cross 
and gaol are taking down. The market cross has long been considered a 
nuisance." 

- These tiles have now found a place in the excellent local museum. 



102 VANISHING ENGLAND 

sacking of Leicester, having their encampment on Trip- 
low Heath. A remarkable incident may be mentioned in 
connexion with this fact. In 1826 a rustic, while plough- 
ing some land to the south of the town, turned up with 
his share the brass seal of Leicester Hospital, which seal 
had doubtless formed part of the loot acquired by the 
rebel army. 

The Sun Inn, or "House of the Giants," as it has 
sometimes been called, from the colossal figures which 
appear in the pargeting over its gateway, is a building 
which evidently grew with the needs of the town, and 
a study of its architectural features is curiously in- 
structive. 

The following extract from Pepys's Diary is interesting 
as referring to Saffron Walden : — 

" 1659, Feby. 27th. Up by four o'clock. Mr. Blayton 
and I took horse and straight to Saffron Walden, where at 
the White Hart we set up our horses and took the master 
to show us Audley End House, where the housekeeper 
showed us all the house, in which the stateliness of the 
ceilings, chimney-pieces, and form of the whole was ex- 
ceedingly worth seeing. He took us into the cellar, 
where we drank most admirable drink, a health to the 
King. Here I played on my flageolette, there being an 
excellent echo. He showed us excellent pictures ; two 
especially, those of the four Evangelists and Henry VIII. 
In our going my landlord carried us through a very old 
hospital or almshouse, where forty poor people were main- 
tained ; a very old foundation, and over the chimney-piece 
was an inscription in brass : ' Orato pro anima Thomae 
Bird,' &c. They brought me a draft of their drink in a 
brown bowl, tipt with silver, which I drank off, and at the 
bottom was a picture of the Virgin with the child in her 
arms done in silver. So we took leave. . . ." 

The inscription and the "brown bowl" (which is a 
mazer cup) still remain, but the picturesque front of the 
hospital, built in the reign of Edward VI, disappeared 
during the awful "improvements" which took place 
during the "fifties." A drawing of it survives in the 
local museum. 



IN STREETS AND LANES 



103 



Maldon, the capital of the Blackwater district, is to the 
eye of an artist a town for twilight effects. The pic- 
turesque skyline of its long, straggling street is accen- 
tuated in the early morning or afterglow, when much 
undesirable detail of modern times below the tiled roofs 
is blurred and lost. In broad daylight the quaintness of 
its suburbs towards the river reeks of the salt flavour 



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Maldon, Essex. Sky-line of the High Street at twilighi 

of W. W. Jacobs's stories. Formerly the town was rich 
with such massive timber buildings as still appear in the 
yard of the Blue Boar — an ancient hostelry which was 
evidently modernized externally in Pickwickian times. 
While exploring in the outhouses of this hostel Mr. Roe 
lighted on a venerable posting-coach of early nineteenth- 
century origin among some other decaying vehicles, a 
curiosity even more rare nowadays than the Gothic 
king-posts to be seen in the picturesque half-timbered 
billiard-room. 

The country around Maldon is dotted plentifully with 



104 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



evidences of past ages ; Layer Marney, with its famous 
towers ; D'Arcy Hall, noted for containing some of the 
finest linen panelling in England ; Beeleigh Abbey, and 
other old-world buildings. The sea-serpent may still be 
seen at Heybridge, on the Norman church-door, one of 




U lip 








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\° 



St. Mary's Church, Maldon 

the best of its kind, and exhibiting almost all its original 
ironwork, including the chimerical decorative clamp. 

The ancient house exhibited at the Franco-British 
Exhibition at Shepherd's Bush was a typical example 
of an Elizabethan dwelling. It was brought from Ipswich, 
where it was doomed to make room for the extension of 
Co-operative Stores, but so firmly was it built that, in spite 



IN STREETS AND LANES 105 

of its age of three hundred and fifty years, it defied for 
some time the attacks of the house-breakers. It was built 
in 1563, as the date carved on the solid lintel shows, but 
some parts of the structure may have been earlier. All 
the oak joists and rafters had been securely mortised into 
each other and fixed with stout wooden pins. So securely 
were these pins fixed, that after many vain attempts to 
knock them out, they had all to be bored out with augers. 
The mortises and tenons were found to be as sound and 
clean as on the day when they were fitted by the sixteenth- 
century carpenters. The foundations and the chimneys 
were built of brick. The house contained a large entrance- 
hall, a kitchen, a splendidly carved staircase, a living- 




Norman Clamp on door of* Iluybridge Church, Essex 

room, and two good bedrooms, on the upper floor. The 
whole house was a fine specimen of East Anglian half- 
timber work. The timbers that formed the framework 
were all straight, the diamond and curved patterns, familiar 
in western counties, signs of later construction, being 
altogether absent. One of the striking features of this, 
as of many other timber-framed houses, is the carved 
corner or angle post. It curves outwards as a support to 
the projecting first floor to the extent of nearly two feet, 
and the whole piece was hewn out of one massive oak 
log, the root, as was usual, having been placed upwards, 
and beautifully carved with Gothic floriations. The full 
overhang of the gables is four feet six inches. In later 
examples this distance between the gables and the wall 
was considerably reduced, until at last the barge-boards 
were flush with the wall. The joists of the first floor pro- 
ject from under a finely carved string-course, and the end 
of each joist has a carved finial. All the inside walls 
were panelled with oak, and the fire-place is of the typical 



io6 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



old English character, with seats for half a dozen people 
in the ingle-nook. The principal room had a fine Tudor 
door, and the frieze and some of the panels were enriched 




Tudor Fire-place. Now walled up in the passage of a shop 

in Banbury 

with an inlay of holly. When the house was demolished 
many of the choicest fittings which were missing from 
their places were found carefully stowed under the floor 
boards. Possibly a raid or a riot had alarmed the owners 



IN STREETS AND LANES 107 

in some distant period, and they hid their nicest things 
and then were slain, and no one knew of the secret 
hiding-place. 

The Rector of Haughton calls attention to a curious old 
house which certainly ought to be preserved if it has not 
yet quite vanished. 

" It is completely hidden from the public gaze. Right 
away in the fields, to be reached only by footpath, or by 
strangely circuitous lane, in the parish of Ranton, there 
stands a little old half-timbered house, known as the 
Vicarage Farm. Only a very practised eye would suspect 
the treasures that it contains. Entering through the 
original door, with quaint knocker intact, you are in the 
kitchen with a fine open fire-place, noble beam, and walls 
panelled with oak. But the principal treasure consists in 
what I have heard called 'The priest's room.' I should 
venture to put the date of the house at about 1500 — cer- 
tainly pre-Reformation. How did it come to be there? 
and what purpose did it serve? I have only been able to 
find one note which can throw any possible light on the 
matter. Gough says that a certain Rose (Dunston?) 
brought land at Ranton to her husband John Doiley ; 
and he goes on : 'This man had the consent of William, 
the Prior of Ranton, to erect a chapel at Ranton.' The 
little church at Ranton has stood there from the thirteenth 
century, as the architecture of the west end and south- 
west doorway plainly testify. The church and cell (or 
whatever you may call it) must clearly have been an off- 
shoot from the Priory. But the room : for this is what is 
principally worth seeing. The beam is richly moulded, 
and so is the panelling throughout. It has a very well 
carved course of panelling all round the top, and this is 
surmounted by an elaborate cornice. The stone mantel- 
piece is remarkably fine and of unusual character. But 
the most striking feature of the room is a square-headed 
arched recess, or niche, with pierced spandrels. What 
was its use? It is about the right height for a seat, and 
what may have been the seat is there unaltered. Or was 
it a niche containing a Calvary, or some figure? I con- 
fess I know nothing. Is this a unique example? I cannot 
remember any other. But possibly there may be others, 
equally hidden away, comparison with which might un- 
fold its secret. In this room, and in other parts of the 



108 VANISHING ENGLAND 

house, much of the old ironwork of hinges and door- 
fasteners remains, and is simply excellent. The old oak 
sliding shutters are still there, and two more fine stone 
mantelpieces ; on one hearth the original encaustic tiles 
with patterns, chiefly a Maltese cross, and the oak cill sur- 
rounding them, are in situ. I confess I tremble for the 
safety of this priceless relic. The house is in a somewhat 
dilapidated condition ; and I know that one attempt was 
made to buy the panelling and take it away. Surely 
such a monument of the past should be in some way 
guarded by the nation." 

The beauty of English cottage-building, its directness, 
simplicity, variety, and above all its inevitable quality, 
the intimate way in which the buildings ally themselves 
with the soil and blend with the ever-varied and exquisite 
landscape, the delicate harmonies, almost musical in their 
nature, that grow from their gentle relationship with their 
surroundings, the modulation from man's handiwork to 
God's enveloping world that lies in the quiet gardening 
that binds one to the other without discord or dissonance 
— all these things are wonderfully attractive to those who 
have eyes to see and hearts to understand. The English 
cottages have an importance in the story of the develop- 
ment of architecture far greater than that which concerns 
their mere beauty and picturesqueness. As we follow the 
history of Gothic art we find that for the most part the in- 
stinctive art in relation to church architecture came to an 
end in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, but the 
right impulse did not cease. House-building went on, 
though there was no church-building, and we admire 
greatly some of those grand mansions which were reared 
in the time of Elizabeth and the early Stuarts ; but art was 
declining, a crumbling taste causing disintegration of 
the sense of real beauty and refinement of detail. A 
creeping paralysis set in later, and the end came swiftly 
when the dark days of the eighteenth century blotted out 
even the memory of a great past. And yet during all 
this time the people, the poor and middle classes, the 
yeomen and farmers, were ever building, building, 



1 j;> 




no VANISHING ENGLAND 

quietly and simply, untroubled by any thoughts of style, 
of Gothic art or Renaissance ; hence the cottages and 
dwellings of the humblest type maintained in all their 
integrity the real principles that made medieval architec- 
ture great. Frank, simple, and direct, built for use and 
not for the establishment of architectural theories, they 
have transmitted their messages to the ages and have pre- 
served their beauties for the admiration of mankind and 
as models for all time. 






CHAPTER V 
OLD CASTLES 

CASTLES have played a prominent part in the 
making of England. Many towns owe their 
existence to the protecting guard of an old 
fortress. They grew up beneath its sheltering walls 
like children holding the gown of their good mother, 
though the castle often proved but a harsh and cruel 
stepmother, and exacted heavy tribute in return for 
partial security from pillage and rapine. Thus New- 
castle-upon-Tyne arose about the early fortress erected 
in 1080 by Robert Curthose to guard the passage of the 
river at the Pons Aelii. The poor little Saxon village of 
Monkchester was then its neighbour. But the castle 
occupying a fine strategic position soon attracted towns- 
folk, who built their houses 'neath its shadow. The town 
of Richmond owes its existence to the lordly castle which 
Alain Rufus, a cousin of the Duke of Brittany, erected 
on land granted to him by the Conqueror. An old 
rhyme tells how he 

Came out of Brittany 
With his wife Tiffany, 
And his maid Manfras, 
And his dog Hardigras. 

He built his walls of stone. We must not imagine, how- 
ever, that an early Norman castle was always a vast keep 
of stone. That came later. The Normans called their 
earliest strongholds motics, which consisted of a mound 
with stockades and a deep ditch and a bailey-court also 
defended by a ditch and stockades. Instead of the great 
stone keep of later days, ''foursquare to every wind 

11 1 



ii2 VANISHING ENGLAND 

that blew," there was a wooden tower for the shelter of 
the garrison. You can see in the Bayeux tapestry the 
followers of William the Conqueror in the act of erecting 
some such tower of defence. Such structures were some- 
what easily erected, and did not require a long period for 
their construction. Hence they were very useful for the 
holding of a conquered country. Sometimes advantage 
was taken of the works that the Romans had left. The 
Normans made use of the old stone walls built by the 
earliest conquerors of Britain. Thus we find at Pevensey 
a Norman fortress born within the ancient fortress reared 
by the Romans to protect that portion of the southern 
coast from the attacks of the northern pirates. Porchester 
Keep rose in the time of the first Henry at the north-west 
angle of the Roman fort. William I erected his castle at 
Colchester on the site of the Roman castrum. The old 
Roman wall of London was used by the Conqueror for 
the eastern defence of his Tower that he erected to keep 
in awe the citizens of the metropolis, and at Lincoln and 
Colchester the works of the first conquerors of Britain 
were eagerly utilized by him. 

One of the most important Roman castles in the 
country is Burgh Castle, in North Suffolk, with its grand 
and noble walls. The late Mr. G. E. Fox thus described 
the ruins : — 

"According to the plan on the Ordnance Survey map, 
the walls enclose a quadrangular area roughly 640 feet 
long by 413 wide, the walls being 9 feet thick with a 
foundation 12 feet in width. The angles of the station 
are rounded. The eastern wall is strengthened by 
four solid bastions, one standing against each of the 
rounded angles, the other two intermediate, and the 
north and south sides have one each, neither of them 
being in the centre of the side, but rather west of it. 
The quaggy ground between the camp and the stream 
would be an excellent defence against sudden attack." 

Burgh Castle, according to the late Canon Raven, was 
the Roman station Gariannonum of the Notitia Imperii. 
Its walls are built of flint-rubble concrete, and there are 







. J" ■ ■ 

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1 1 4 VANISHING ENGLAND 

lacing courses of tiles. There is no wall on the west, and 
Canon Raven used to contend that one existed there but 
has been destroyed. But this conjecture seems improb- 
able. That side was probably defended by the sea, 
which has considerably receded. Two gates remain, 
the principal one being the east gate, commanded by 
towers a hundred feet high ; while the north is a postern- 
gate about five feet wide. The Romans have not left 
many traces behind them. Some coins have been found, 
including a silver one of Gratian and some of Constan- 
tine. Here St. Furseus, an Irish missionary, is said to 
have settled with a colony of monks, having been favour- 
ably received by Sigebert, the ruler of the East Angles, 
in 633 a.d. Burgh Castle is one of the finest specimens 
of a Roman fort which our earliest conquerors have 
left us, and ranks with Reculver, Richborough, and 
Pevensey, those strong fortresses which were erected 
nearly two thousand years ago to guard the coasts 
against foreign foes. 

In early days, ere Norman and Saxon became a united 
people, the castle was the sign of the supremacy of the 
conquerors and the subjugation of the English. It kept 
watch and ward over tumultuous townsfolk and pre- 
vented any acts of rebellion and hostility to their new 
masters. Thus London's Tower arose to keep the tur- 
bulent citizens in awe as well as to protect them from 
foreign foes. Thus at Norwich the castle dominated the 
town, and required for its erection the destruction of over 
a hundred houses. At Lincoln the Conqueror destroyed 
166 houses in order to construct a strong motte at the 
south-west corner of the old castrum in order to over- 
awe the city. Sometimes castles were erected to protect 
the land from foreign foes. The fort at Colchester was 
intended to resist the Danes if ever their threatened 
invasion came, and Norwich Castle was erected quite 
as much to drive back the Scandinavian hosts as to 
keep in order the citizens. Newcastle and Carlisle were 
of strategic importance for driving back the Scots, and 



OLD CASTLES 115 

Lancaster Keep, traditionally said to have been reared 
by Roger de Poitou, but probably of later date, bore 
the brunt of many a marauding invasion. To check 
the incursions of the Welsh, who made frequent and 
powerful irruptions into Herefordshire, many castles 
were erected in Shropshire and Herefordshire, forming 
a chain of fortresses which are more numerous than 
in any other part of England. They are of every shape 
and size, from stately piles like Wigmore and Goodrich, 
to the smallest fortified farm, like Urishay Castle, a 
house half mansion, half fortress. Even the church 
towers of Herefordshire, with their walls seven or eight 
feet thick, such as that at Ewias Harold, look as if they 
were designed as strongholds in case of need. On the 
western and northern borders of England we find the 
largest number of fortresses, erected to restrain and 
keep back troublesome neighbours. 

The story of the English castles abounds in interest 
and romance. Most of them are ruins now, but fancy 
pictures them in the days of their splendour, the abodes 
of chivalry and knightly deeds, of "fair ladies and brave 
men," and each one can tell its story of siege and battle- 
cries, of strenuous attack and gallant defence, of promi- 
nent parts played in the drama of English history. To 
some of these we shall presently refer, but it would need 
a very large volume to record the whole story of our 
English fortresses. 

We have said that the earliest Norman castle was a 
motte fortified by a stockade, an earthwork protected with 
timber palings. That is the latest theory amongst anti- 
quaries, but there are not a few who maintain that the 
Normans, who proved themselves such admirable builders 
of the stoutest of stone churches, would not long content 
themselves with such poor fortresses. There were stone 
castles before the Normans, besides the old Roman walls 
at Pevensey, Colchester, London, and Lincoln. And there 
came from Normandy a monk named Gundulf in 1070 
who was a mighty builder. He was consecrated Bishop 



n6 VANISHING ENGLAND 

of Rochester and began to build his cathedral with 
wondrous architectural skill. He is credited with devis- 
ing a new style of military architecture, and found much 
favour with the Conqueror, who at the time especially 
needed strong walls to guard himself and his hungry 
followers. He was ordered by the King to build the first 
beginnings of the Tower of London. He probably de- 
signed the keep at Colchester and the castle of his 
cathedral town, and set the fashion of building these 
great ramparts of stone which were so serviceable in the 
subjugation and overawing of the English. The fashion 
grew, much to the displeasure of the conquered, who deemed 
them " homes of wrong and badges of bondage," hateful 
places filled with devils and evil men who robbed and 
spoiled them. And when they were ordered to set to 
work on castle-building their impotent wrath knew no 
bounds. It is difficult to ascertain how many were con- 
structed during the Conqueror's reign. Domesday tells 
of forty-nine. Another authority, Mr. Pearson, mentions 
ninety-nine, and Mrs. Armitage after a careful examination 
of documents contends for eighty-six. But there may 
have been many others. In Stephen's reign castles spread 
like an evil sore over the land. His traitorous subjects 
broke their allegiance to their king and preyed upon the 
country. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that " every 
rich man built his castles and defended them against him, 
and they filled the land full of castles. They greatly 
oppressed the wretched people by making them work at 
these castles, and when the castles were finished they 
filled them with devils and evil men. Then they took 
those whom they suspected to have any goods, by night 
and by day, seizing both men and women, and they put 
them in prison for their gold and silver, and tortured 
them with pains unspeakable, for never were any martyrs 
tormented as these were. They hung some up by their 
feet and smoked them with foul smoke ; some by their 
thumbs or by the head, and they hung burning things on 
their feet. They put a knotted string about their heads, 



OLD CASTLES 117 

and twisted it till it went into the brain. They put them into 
dungeons wherein were adders and snakes and toads, and 
thus wore them out. Some they put into a crucet-house, 
that is, into a chest that was short and narrow and not 
deep, and they put sharp stones in it, and crushed the 
man therein so that they broke all his limbs. There were 
hateful and grim things called Sachenteges in many of 
the castles, and which two or three men had enough to do 
to carry. The Sachentege was made thus : it was fastened 
to a beam, having a sharp iron to go round a man's 
throat and neck, so that he might noways sit, nor lie, nor 
sleep, but that he must bear all the iron. Many thousands 
they exhausted with hunger. I cannot, and I may not, 
tell of all the wounds and all the tortures that they in- 
flicted upon the wretched men of this land ; and this state 
of things lasted the nineteen years that Stephen was king, 
and ever grew worse and worse. They were continually 
levying an exaction from the towns, which they called 
Tenserie, 1 and when the miserable inhabitants had no 
more to give, then plundered they and burnt all the 
towns, so that well mightest thou walk a whole day's 
journey nor ever shouldest thou find a man seated in a 
town or its lands tilled." 

More than a thousand of these abodes of infamy are 
said to have been built. Possibly many of them were 
timber structures only. Countless small towns and 
villages boast of once possessing a fortress. The name 
Castle Street remains, though the actual site of the strong- 
hold has long vanished. Sometimes we find a mound 
which seems to proclaim its position, but memory is 
silent, and the people of England, if the story of the 
chronicler be true, have to be grateful to Henry II, who 
set himself to work to root up and destroy very many of 
these adulterine castles which were the abodes of tyranny 
and oppression. However, for the protection of his king- 
dom, he raised other strongholds, in the south the grand 
fortress of Dover, which still guards the straits ; in the 
1 A payment to the superior lord for protection. 



n8 VANISHING ENGLAND 

west, Berkeley Castle, for his friend Robert FitzHarding, 
ancestor of Lord Berkeley, which has remained in the 
same family until the present day ; in the north, Rich- 
mond, Scarborough, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne ; and in 
the east, Orford Keep. The same stern Norman keep 
remains, but you can see some changes in the architecture. 
The projection of the buttresses is increased, and there is 
some attempt at ornamentation. Orford Castle, which 
some guide-books and directories will insist on confusing 
with Oxford Castle and stating that it was built by 
Robert D'Oiley in 1072, was erected by Henry II to 
defend the country against the incursions of the Flemings 
and to safeguard Orford Haven. Caen stone was brought 
for the stone dressings to windows and doors, parapets 
and groins, but masses of septaria found on the shore 
and in the neighbouring marshes were utilized with such 
good effect that the walls have stood the attacks of be- 
siegers and weathered the storms of the east coast for 
more than seven centuries. It was built in a new fashion 
that was made in France, and to which our English eyes 
were unaccustomed, and is somewhat similar in plan to 
Conisborough Castle, in the valley of the Don. The plan 
is circular with three projecting towers, and the keep was 
protected by two circular ditches, one fifteen feet and the 
other thirty feet distant from its walls. Between the two 
ditches was a circular wall with parapet and battlements. 
The interior of the castle was divided into three floors ; 
the towers, exclusive of the turrets, had five, two of which 
were entresols, and were ninety-six feet high, the cen- 
tral keep being seventy feet. 1 The oven was at the top 
of the keep. The chapel is one of the most interesting 
chambers, with its original altar still in position, though 
much damaged, and also piscina, aumbrey, and ciborium. 
This castle nearly vanished with other features of vanish- 
ing England in the middle of the eighteenth century, 
Lord Hereford proposing to pull it down for the sake of 
the material ; but ' ' it being a necessary sea-mark, especially 

1 Cf. Memorials of Old Suffolk, p. 65. 



OLD CASTLES 119 

for ships coming from Holland, who by steering so as to 
make the castle cover or hide the church thereby avoid a 
dangerous sandbank called the Whiting, Government 
interfered and prevented the destruction of the building." 1 

In these keeps the thickness of the walls enabled them 
to contain chambers, stairs, and passages. At Guildford 
there is an oratory with rude carvings of sacred subjects, 
including a crucifixion. The first and second floors were 
usually vaulted, and the upper ones were of timber. Fire- 
places were built in most of the rooms, and some sort 
of domestic comfort was not altogether forgotten. In the 
earlier fortresses the walls of the keep enclosed an inner 
court, which had rooms built up to the great stone walls, 
the court afterwards being vaulted and floors erected. In 
order to protect the entrance there were heavy doors with 
a portcullis, and by degrees the outward defences were 
strengthened. There was an outer bailey or court sur- 
rounded by a strong wall, with a barbican guarding the 
entrance, consisting of a strong gate protected by two 
towers. In this lower or outer court are the stables, 
and the mound where the lord of the castle dispenses 
justice, and where criminals and traitors are executed. 
Another strong gateway flanked by towers protects the 
inner bailey, on the edge of which stands the keep, which 
frowns down upon us as we enter. An immense house- 
hold was supported in these castles. Not only were there 
men-at-arms, but also cooks, bakers, brewers, tailors, 
carpenters, smiths, masons, and all kinds of craftsmen ; 
and all this crowd of workers had to be provided with 
accommodation by the lord of the castle. Hence a build- 
ing in the form of a large hall was erected, sometimes 
of stone, usually of wood, in the lower or upper bailey, for 
these soldiers and artisans, where they slept and had their 
meals. 

Amongst other castles which arose during this late 
Norman and early English period of architecture we 
may mention Barnard Castle, a mighty stronghold, held 

1 Grose's - intiquiiies. 



120 VANISHING ENGLAND 

by the royal house of Balliol, the Prince Bishops of 
Durham, the Earls of Warwick, the Nevilles, and other 
powerful families. Sir Walter Scott immortalized the 
castle in Rokeby. Here is his description of the fortress : — 

High crowned he sits, in dawning- pale, 
The sovereign of the lovely vale. 
What prospects from the watch-tower high 
Gleam gradual on the warder's eye ? 
Far sweeping to the east he sees 
Down his deep woods the course of Tees, 
And tracks his wanderings by the steam 
Of summer vapours from the stream ; 
And ere he pace his destined hour 
By Brackenbury's dungeon tower, 
These silver mists shall melt away 
And dew the woods with glittering spray. 
Then in broad lustre shall be shown 
That mighty trench of living stone. 
And each huge trunk that from the side, 
Reclines him o'er the darksome tide, 
Where Tees, full many a fathom low, 
Wears with his rage no common foe ; 
Nor pebbly bank, nor sand-bed here, 
Nor clay-mound checks his fierce career, 
Condemned to mine a channelled way 
O'er solid sheets of marble grey. 

This lordly pile has seen the Balliols fighting with the 
Scots, of whom John Balliol became king, the fierce 
contests between the warlike prelates of Durham and 
Barnard's lord, the triumph of the former, who were 
deprived of their conquest by Edward I, and then its 
surrender in later times to the rebels of Queen Elizabeth. 
Another northern border castle is Norham, the posses- 
sion of the Bishop of Durham, built during this period. 
It was a mighty fortress, and witnessed the gorgeous 
scene of the arbitration between the rival claimants to the 
Scottish throne, the arbiter being King Edward I of 
England, who forgot not to assert his own fancied rights 
to the overlordship of the northern kingdom. It was, 
however, besieged by the Scots, and valiant deeds were 
wrought before its walls by Sir William Marmion and 
Sir Thomas Grey, but the Scots captured it in 1327 and 



OLD CASTLES 121 

again in 1 513. It is now but a battered ruin. Prudhoe, 
with its memories of border wars, and Castle Rising, 
redolent with the memories of the last years of the 
wicked widow of Edward II, belong to this age of castle- 
architecture, and also the older portions of Kenilworth. 

Pontefract Castle, the last fortress that held out for 
King Charles in the Civil War, and in consequence 
slighted and ruined, can tell of many dark deeds and 
strange events in English history. The De Lacys built 
it in the early part of the thirteenth century. Its area was 
seven acres. The wall of the castle court was high and 
flanked by seven towers ; a deep moat was cut on the 
western side, where was the barbican and drawbridge. 
It had terrible dungeons, one a room twenty-five feet 
square, without any entrance save a trap-door in the floor 
of a turret. The castle passed, in 1310, by marriage to 
Thomas Earl of Lancaster, who took part in the strife 
between Edward II and his nobles, was captured, and in 
his own hall condemned to death. The castle is always 
associated with the murder of Richard II, but contem- 
porary historians, Thomas of Walsingham and Gower 
the poet, assert that he starved himself to death ; others 
contend that his starvation was not voluntary; while there 
are not wanting those who say that he escaped to Scot- 
land, lived there many years, and died in peace in the 
castle of Stirling, an honoured guest of Robert III of 
Scotland, in 1419. I have not seen the entries, but I am 
told in the accounts of the Chamberlain of Scotland there 
are items for the maintenance of the Kinsr for eleven 

O 

years. But popular tales die hard, and doubtless you 
will hear the groans and see the ghost of the wronged 
Richard some moonlight night in the ruined keep of 
Pontefract. He has many companion ghosts — the Earl 
of Salisbury, Richard Duke of York, Anthony Wyde- 
ville, Earl Rivers and Grey his brother, and Sir Thomas 
Vaughan, whose feet trod the way to the block, that was 
worn hard by many victims. The dying days of the old 
castle made it illustrious. It was besieged three times, 



122 VANISHING ENGLAND 

taken and retaken, and saw amazing scenes of gallantry 
and bravery. It held out until after the death of the 
martyr king ; it heard the proclamation of Charles II, 
but at length was compelled to surrender, and "the 
strongest inland garrison in the kingdom," as Oliver 
Cromwell termed it, was slighted and made a ruin. Its 
sister fortress Knaresborough shared its fate. Lord 
Lytton, in Eugene Aram, wrote of it: — 

"You will be at a loss to recognise now the truth of 
old Leland's description of that once stout and gallant 
bulwark of the north, when 'he numbrid n or 12 Toures 
in the walles of the Castel, and one very fayre beside 
in the second area.' In that castle the four knightly 
murderers of the haughty Becket (the Wolsey of his age) 
remained for a whole year, defying the weak justice of 
the times. There, too, the unfortunate Richard II passed 
some portion of his bitter imprisonment. And there, after 
the battle of Marston Moor, waved the banner of the 
loyalists against the soldiers of Lilburn." 

An interesting story is told of the siege. A youth, 
whose father was in the garrison, each night went into 
the deep, dry moat, climbed up the glacis, and put pro- 
visions through a hole where his father stood ready to 
receive them. He was seen at length, fired on by the 
Parliamentary soldiers, and sentenced to be hanged in 
sight of the besieged as a warning to others. But a good 
lady obtained his respite, and after the conquest of the 
place was released. The castle then, once the residence 
of Piers Gaveston, of Henry III, and of John of Gaunt, 
was dismantled and destroyed. 

During the reign of Henry III great progress was 
made in the improvement and development of castle- 
building. The comfort and convenience of the dwellers 
in these fortresses were considered, and if not very 
luxurious places they were made more beautiful by art 
and more desirable as residences. During the reigns of 
the Edwards this progress continued, and a new type of 
castle was introduced. The stern, massive, and high- 
towering keep was abandoned, and the fortifications 



OLD CASTLES 123 

arranged in a concentric fashion. A fine hall with 
kitchens occupied the centre of the fortress ; a large 
number of chambers were added. The stronghold itself 
consisted of a large square or oblong like that at Don- 
nington, Berkshire, and the approach was carefully 
guarded by strong gateways, advanced works, walled 
galleries, and barbicans. Deep moats filled with water 
increased their strength and improved their beauty. 

We will give some examples of these Edwardian castles, 
of which Leeds Castle, Kent, is a fine specimen. It 
stands on three islands in a sheet of water about fifteen 
acres in extent, these islands being connected in former 
times by double drawbridges. It consists of two huge 
piles of buildings which with a strong gate-house and 
barbican form four distinct forts, capable of separate 
defence should any one or other fall into the hands of an 
enemy. Three causeways, each with its drawbridge, 
gate, and portcullis, lead to the smallest island or inner 
barbican, a fortified mill contributing to the defences. A 
stone bridge connects this island with the main island. 
There stands the Constable's Tower, and a stone wall 
surrounds the island and within is the modern mansion. 
The Maiden's Tower and the Water Tower defend the 
island on the south. A two-storeyed building on arches 
now connects the main island with the Tower of the 
Gloriette, which has a curious old bell with the Virgin and 
Child, St. George and the Dragon, and the Crucifixion 
depicted on it, and an ancient clock. The castle withstood 
a siege in the time of Edward II because Queen Isabella 
was refused admission. The King hung the Governor, 
Thomas de Colepepper, by the chain of the drawbridge. 
Henry IV retired here on account of the Plague in 
London, and his second wife, Joan of Navarre, was im- 
prisoned here. It was a favourite residence of the Court 
in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Here the wife 
of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, was tried for witch- 
craft. Dutch prisoners were confined here in 1666 and 
contrived to set fire to some of the buildings. It is the 



124 VANISHING ENGLAND 

home of the Wykeham Martin family, and is one of the 
most picturesque castles in the country. 

In the same neighbourhood is Allington Castle, which, 
I am informed, has been successfully restored, but only a 
small portion remains of the princely residence of the 
Wyatts, famous in the history of State and Letters. Sir 
Henry, the father of the poet, felt the power of the Hunch- 
back Richard, and was racked and imprisoned in Scot- 
land, and would have died in the Tower of London but 
for a cat. He rose to great honour under Henry VII, 
and here entertained the King in great style. At Alling- 
ton the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt was born, and spent his 
days in writing prose and verse, hunting and hawking, 
and occasionally dallying after Mistress Anne Boleyn at 
the neighbouring castle of Hever. He died here in 1542, 
and his son Sir Thomas led the insurrection against 
Queen Mary and sealed the fate of himself and his race. 

Hever Castle, to which allusion has been made, is an 
example of the transition between the old fortress and the 
more comfortable mansion of a country squire or mag- 
nate. Times were less dangerous, the country more peace- 
ful when Sir Geoffrey Boleyn transformed and rebuilt 
the castle built in the reign of Edward III by William de 
Hever, but the strong entrance-gate flanked by towers, 
embattled and machicolated, and defended by stout doors 
and three portcullises and the surrounding moat, shows 
that the need of defence had not quite passed away. The 
gates lead into a courtyard around which the hall, chapel, 
and domestic chambers are grouped. The long gallery 
Anne Boleyn so often traversed with impatience still 
seems to re-echo her steps, and her bedchamber, which 
used to contain some of the original furniture, has 
always a pathetic interest. The story of the courtship of 
Henry VIII with "the brown girl with a perthroat and 
an extra finger," as Margaret More described her, is well 
known. Herold home, which was much in decay, has passed 
into the possession of a wealthy American gentleman, and 
has been recently greatly restored and transformed. 



OLD CASTLES 125 

Sussex can boast of many a lordly castle, and in its 
day Bodiam must have been very magnificent. Even in 
its decay and ruin it is one of the most beautiful in Eng- 
land. It combined the palace of the feudal lord and the 
fortress of a knight. The founder, Sir John Dalyngrudge, 
was a gallant soldier in the wars of Edward III, and 
spent most of his best years in France, where he had 
doubtless learned the art of making his house comfort- 
able as well as secure. He acquired licence to fortify 
his castle in 1385 "for resistance against our enemies." 
There was need of strong walls, as the French often at 
that period ravaged the coast of Sussex, burning towns 
and manor-houses. Clark, the great authority on castles, 
says that " Bodiam is a complete and typical castle of the 
end of the fourteenth century, laid out entirely on a new 
site, and constructed after one design and at one period. 
It but seldom happens that a great fortress is wholly 
original, of one, and that a known, date, and so com- 
pletely free from alterations or additions." It is nearly 
square, with circular tower sixty-five feet high at the four 
corners, connected by embattled curtain-walls, in the 
centre of each of which square towers rise to an equal 
height with the circular. The gateway is a large structure 
composed of two flanking towers defended by numerous 
oiletts for arrows, embattled parapets, and deep machi- 
colations. Over the gateway are three shields bearing 
the arms of Bodiam, Dalyngrudge, and Wardieu. A 
huge portcullis still frowns down upon us, and two others 
opposed the way, while above are openings in the vault 
through which melted lead, heated sand, pitch, and other 
disagreeable things could be poured on the heads of the 
foe. In the courtyard on the south stands the great hall 
with its oriel, buttery, and kitchen, and amidst the ruins 
you can discern the chapel, sacristy, ladies' bower, pre- 
sence chamber. The castle stayed not long in the family 
of the builder, his son John probably perishing in the 
wars, and passed to Sir Thomas Lewknor, who opposed 
Richard III, and was therefore attainted of high treason 



i26 VANISHING ENGLAND 

and his castle besieged and taken. It was restored to 
him again by Henry VII, but the Lewknors never resided 
there again. Waller destroyed it after the capture of 
Arundel, and since that time it has been left a prey to the 
rains and frosts and storms, but manages to preserve much 
of its beauty, and to tell how noble knights lived in the 
days of chivalry. 

Caister Castle is one of the four principal castles in 
Norfolk. It is built of brick, and is one of the earliest 
edifices in England constructed of that material after its 
rediscovery as suitable for building purposes. It stands 
with its strong defences not far from the sea on the 
barren coast. It was built by Sir John Fastolfe, who 
fought with great distinction in the French wars of 
Henry V and Henry VI, and was the hero of the Battle 
of the Herrings in 1428, when he defeated the French and 
succeeded in convoying a load of herrings in triumph to 
the English camp before Orleans. It is supposed that he 
was the prototype of Shakespeare's Falstaff, but beyond 
the resemblance in the names there is little similarity in 
the exploits of the "two "heroes." Sir John Fastolfe, 
much to the chagrin of other friends and relatives, made 
John Paston his heir, who became a great and prosperous 
man, represented his county in Parliament, and was a 
favourite of Edward IV. Paston loved Caister, his "fair 
jewell " ; but misfortunes befell him. He had great 
losses, and was thrice confined in the Fleet Prison and 
then outlawed. Those were dangerous days, and friends 
often quarrelled. Hence during his troubles the Duke 
of Norfolk and Lord Scales tried to get possession of 
Caister, and after his death laid siege to it. The Pastons 
lacked not courage and determination, and defended it for 
a year, but were then forced to surrender. However, it 
was restored to them, but again forcibly taken from them. 
However, not by the sword but by negotiations and legal 
efforts, Sir John again gained his own, and an em- 
battled tower at the north-west corner, one hundred feet 
high, and the north and west walls remain to tell the 









3& 

















«> 



• 



128 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



story of this brave old Norfolk family, who by their 
Letters have done so much to guide us through the dark 
period to which they relate. 

We will journey to the West Country, a region of 




lyru^m ■Ht 'Pr — ^ 

M m\ i In 

•ir 1 ;. m 



Defaced Arras, Taunton Castle 

castles. The Saxons were obliged to erect their rude 
earthen strongholds to keep back the turbulent Welsh, 
and these were succeeded by Norman keeps. Monmouth- 
shire is famous for its castles. Out of the thousand 
erected in Norman times twenty-five were built in that 
county. There is Chepstow Castle with its Early Norman 
gateway spanned by a circular arch flanked by round 



OLD CASTLES 129 

towers. In the inner court there are gardens and ruins 
of a grand hall, and in the outer the remains of a chapel 
with evidences of beautifully groined vaulting, and also 
a winding staircase leading to the battlements. In the 
dungeon of the old keep at the south-east corner of the 
inner court Roger de Britolio, Earl of Hereford, was 
imprisoned for rebellion against the Conqueror, and in 
later times Henry Martin, the regicide, lingered as a 
prisoner for thirty years, employing his enforced leisure 
in writing a book in order to prove that it is not right 
for a man to be governed by one wife. Then there is 
Glosmont Castle, the fortified residence of the Earl of 
Lancaster; Skenfrith Castle, White Castle, the Album 
Castrum of the Latin records, the Landreilo of the 
Welsh, with its six towers, portcullis and drawbridge 
flanked by massive towers, barbican, and other outworks ; 
and Raglan Castle with its splendid gateway, its Eliza- 
bethan banqueting-hall ornamented with rich stone 
tracery, its bowling-green, garden terraces, and spacious 
courts — an ideal place for knightly tournaments. Raglan 
is associated with the gallant defence of the castle by the 
Marquis of Worcester in the Civil War. 

Another famous siege is connected with the old castle 
of Taunton. Taunton was a noted place in Saxon days, 
and the castle is the earliest English fortress by some two 
hundred years of which we have any written historical 
record. 1 The Anglo-Saxon chronicler states, under the 
date 722 a.d. : "This year Queen Ethelburge overthrew 
Taunton, which Ina had before built." The buildings 
tell their story. We see a Norman keep built to the 
westward of Ina's earthwork, probably by Henry de 
Blois, Bishop of Winchester, the warlike brother of 
King Stephen. The gatehouse with the curtain ending 
in drum towers, of which one only remains, was first built 
at the close of the thirteenth century under Edward I ; 
but it was restored with Perpendicular additions by 

1 Taunton and its Castle, by D. P. Alfbrd (Memorials of Old Somerset), 
p. 149. 

9 



130 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Bishop Thomas Langton, whose arms with the date 1495 
may be seen on the escutcheon above the arch. Probably 
Bishop Langton also built the great hall ; whilst Bishop 
Home, who is sometimes credited with this work, most 
likely only repaired the hall, but tacked on to it the 
southward structure on pilasters, which shows his arms 
with the date 1577. The hall of the castle was for a long 
period used as Assize Courts. The castle was purchased 
by the Taunton and Somerset Archaeological Society, 
and is now most appropriately a museum. Taunton has 
seen many strange sights. The town was owned by the 
Bishop of Winchester, and the castle had its constable, 
an office held by many great men. When Lord Daubeney 
of Barrington Court was constable in 1497 Taunton saw 
thousands of gaunt Cornishmen marching on to London 
to protest against the king's subsidy, and they aroused 
the sympathy of the kind-hearted Somerset folk, who fed 
them, and were afterwards fined for "aiding and com- 
forting " them. Again, crowds of Cornishmen here 
flocked to the standard of Perkin Warbeck. The 
gallant defence of Taunton by Robert Blake, aided by 
the townsfolk, against the whole force of the Royalists, 
is a matter of history, and also the rebellion of Monmouth, 
who made Taunton his head-quarters. This castle, like 
every other one in England, has much to tell us of the 
chief events in our national annals. 

In the principality of Wales we find many noted strong- 
holds — Conway, Harlech, and many others. Carnarvon 
Castle, the repair of which is being undertaken by Sir 
John Puleston, has no rival among our medieval for- 
tresses for the grandeur and extent of the ruins. It was 
commenced about 1283 by Edward I, but took forty years 
to complete. In 1295 a playful North Walian, named 
Madoc, who was an illegitimate son of Prince David, 
took the rising stronghold by surprise upon a fair day, 
massacred the entire garrison, and hanged the constable 
from his own half-finished walls. Sir John Puleston, 
the present constable, though he derives his patronymic 



OLD CASTLES 131 

from the "base, bloody, and brutal Saxon," is really a 
warmly patriotic Welshman, and is doing a good work 
in preserving the ruins of the fortress of which he is the 
titular governor. 

We should like to record the romantic stories that have 
woven themselves around each crumbling keep and bailey- 
court, to see them in the days of their glory when warders 
kept the gate and watching archers guarded the wall, and 
the lord and lady and their knights and esquires dined in 
the great hall, and knights practised feats of arms in the 
tilting-ground, and the banner of the lord waved over the 
battlements, and everything was ready for war or sport, 
hunting or hawking. But all the glories of most of the 
castles of England have vanished, and naught is to be 
seen but ruined walls and deserted halls. Some few have 
survived and become royal palaces or noblemen's man- 
sions. Such are Windsor, Warwick, Raby, Alnwick, 
and Arundel, but the fate of most of them is very similar. 
The old fortress aimed at being impregnable in the days 
of bows and arrows ; but the progress of guns and artillery 
somewhat changed the ideas with regard to their security. 
In the struggle between Yorkists and Lancastrians many 
a noble owner lost his castle and his head. Edward IV 
thinned down castle-ownership, and many a fine fortress 
was left to die. When the Spaniards threatened our 
shores those who possessed castles tried to adapt them for 
the use of artillery, and when the Civil War began many 
of them were strengthened and fortified and often made 
gallant defences against their enemies, such as Donning- 
ton, Colchester, Scarborough, and Pontefract. When the 
Civil War ended the last bugle sounded the signal for 
their destruction. Orders were issued for their destruc- 
tion, lest they should ever again be thorns in the sides of 
the Parliamentary army. Sometimes they were destroyed 
for revenge, or because of their materials, which were sold 
for the benefit of the Government or for the satisfaction of 
private greed. Lead was torn from the roofs of chapels 
and banqueting-halls. The massive walls were so strung 



132 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



that they resisted to the last and had to be demolished 
with the aid of gunpowder. They became convenient 
quarries for stone and furnished many a farm, cottage and 
manor-house with materials for their construction. Hence- 
forth the old castle became a ruin. In its silent marshy 
moat reeds and rushes grow, and ivy covers its walls, and 
trees have sprung up in the quiet and deserted courts. 
Picnic parties encamp on the green sward, and excursion- 
ists amuse themselves in strolling along the walls and 
wonder why they were built so thick, and imagine that the 
castle was always a ruin erected for the amusement of the 
cheap-tripper for jest and playground. Happily care is 
usually bestowed upon the relics that remain, and diligent 
antiquaries excavate and try to rear in imagination the 
stately buildings. Some have been fortunate enough to 
become museums, and some modernized and restored are 
private residences. The English castle recalls some of 
the most eventful scenes in English history, and its bones 
and skeleton should be treated with respect and venera- 
tion as an important feature of vanishing England. 




Knightly Bascinet {temp. Henry V) in Norwich Castle 



CHAPTER VI 
VANISHING OR VANISHED CHURCHES 

NO buildings have suffered more than our parish 
churches in the course of ages. Many have 
vanished entirely. A few stones or ruins mark 
the site of others, and iconoclasm has left such enduring 
marks on the fabric of many that remain that it is difficult 
to read their story and history. A volume, several 
volumes, would be needed to record all the vandalism that 
has been done to our ecclesiastical structures in the ages 
that have passed. We can only be thankful that some 
churches have survived to proclaim the glories of English 
architecture and the skill of our masons and artificers who 
wrought so well and worthily in olden days. 

In the chapter that relates to the erosion of our coasts we 
have mentioned many of the towns and villages which 
have been devoured by the sea with their churches. 
These now lie beneath the waves, and the bells in their 
towers are still said to ring when storms rage. We 
need not record again the submerged Ravenspur, Dun- 
wich, Kilnsea, and other unfortunate towns with their 
churches where now only mermaids can form the congre- 
gation. 

And as the fisherman strays 
When the clear cold eve's declining 1 , 
He sees the round tower of other days 
In the wave beneath him shining. 

In the depths of the country, far from the sea, we can 
find many deserted shrines, many churches that once 
echoed with the songs of praise of faithful worshippers, 
wherein were celebrated the divine mysteries, and organs 

i55 



i 3 4 VANISHING ENGLAND 

pealed forth celestial music, but now forsaken, desecrated, 
ruined, forgotten. 

The altar has vanished, the rood screen flown, 
Foundation and buttress are ivy-grown ; 
The arches are shattered, the roof has gone, 
The mullions are mouldering one by one ; 
Foxglove and cow-grass and waving weed 
Grow over the scrolls where you once could read 
Benedicite. 

Many of them have been used as quarries, and only a 
few stones remain to mark the spot where once stood 
a holy house of God. Before the Reformation the land 
must have teemed with churches. I know not the exact 
number of monastic houses once existing in England. 
There must have been at least a thousand, and each had 
its church. Each parish had a church. Besides these 
were the cathedrals, chantry chapels, chapels attached to 
the mansions, castles, and manor-houses of the lords and 
squires, to almshouses and hospitals, pilgrim churches by 
the roadside, where bands of pilgrims would halt and pay 
their devotions ere they passed along to the shrine of 
St. Thomas at Canterbury or to Our Lady at Walsingham. 
When chantries and guilds as well as monasteries were 
suppressed, their chapels were no longer used for divine 
service ; some of the monastic churches became cathe- 
drals or parish churches, but most of them were pillaged, 
desecrated, and destroyed. When pilgrimages were 
declared to be "fond things vainly invented," and the 
pilgrim bands ceased to travel along the pilgrim way, the 
wayside chapel fell into decay, or was turned into a barn 
or stable. 

It is all very sad and deplorable. But the roll of 
abandoned shrines is not complete. At the present day 
many old churches are vanishing. Some have been 
abandoned or pulled down because they were deemed too 
near to the squire's house, and a new church erected at 
a more respectful distance. "Restoration" has doomed 
many to destruction. Not long ago the new scheme for 
supplying Liverpool with water necessitated the converting 



VANISHING CHURCHES 135 

of a Welsh valley into a huge reservoir and the consequent 
destruction of churches and villages. A new scheme for 
supplying London with water has been mooted, and 
would entail the damming up of a river at the end of 
a valley and the overwhelming of several prosperous 
old villages and churches which have stood there for 
centuries. The destruction of churches in London on 
account of the value of their site and the migration of the 
population, westward and eastward, has been frequently 
deplored. With the exception of All Hallows, Barking; 
St. Andrew's Undershaft ; St. Catherine Cree ; St. Dun- 
stan's, Stepney; St. Giles', Cripplegate ; All Hallows, 
Staining; St. James's, Aldgate; St. Sepulchre's; St. Mary 
Woolnoth ; all the old City churches were destroyed by the 
Great Fire, and some of the above were damaged and 
repaired. " Destroyed by the Great Fire, rebuilt by 
Wren," is the story of most of the City churches of Lon- 
don. To him fell the task of rebuilding the fallen edifices. 
Well did he accomplish his task. He had no one to 
guide him ; no school of artists or craftsmen to help him 
in the detail of his buildings; no great principles of archi- 
tecture to direct him. But he triumphed over all obstacles 
and devised a style of his own that was well suitable for 
the requirements of the time and climate and for the form 
of worship of the English National Church. And how 
have we treated the buildings which his genius devised 
for us? Eighteen of his beautiful buildings have already 
been destroyed, and fourteen of these since the passing of 
the Union of City Benefices Act in i860 have succumbed. 
With the utmost difficulty vehement attacks on others 
have been warded off, and no one can tell how long they 
will remain. Here is a very sad and deplorable instance 
of the vanishing of English architectural treasures. While 
we deplore the destructive tendencies of our ancestors we 
have need to be ashamed of our own. 

We will glance at some of these deserted shrines on 
the sites where formerly they stood. The Rev. Gilbert 
Twenlow Royds, Rector of Haughton and Rural Dean 



1 36 VANISHING ENGLAND 

of Stafford, records three of these in his neighbourhood, 
and shall describe them in his own words : — 

" On the main road to Stafford, in a field at the top of 
Billington Hill, a little to the left of the road, there once 
stood a chapel. The field is still known as Chapel Hill ; 
but not a vestige of the building survives ; no doubt the 
foundations were grubbed up for ploughing purposes. 
In a State paper, describing 'The State of the Church 
in Staffs, in 1586,' we find the following entry : _ 'Bill- 
ington Chappell ; reader, a husbandman ; pension 16 
groats; no preacher.' This is under the heading of 
Bradeley, in which parish it stood. I have made a wide 
search for information as to the dates of the building and 
destruction of this chapel. Only one solitary note has 
come to my knowledge. In Mazzinghi's History of Castle 
Church he writes : ' Mention is made of Thomas Salt 
the son of Richard Salt and C(lem)ance his wife as 
Christened at Billington Chapel in 1600.' Local tradi- 
tion says that within the memory of the last generation 
stones were carted from this site to build the churchyard 
wall of Bradley Church. I have noticed several re-used 
stones ; but perhaps if that wall were to be more closely 
examined or pulled down, some further history might 
disclose itself. Knowing that some of the stones were 
said to be in a garden on the opposite side of the road, 
I asked permission to investigate. This was most kindly 
granted, and I was told that there was a stone ' with 
some writing on it' in a wall. No doubt we had the 
fragment of a gravestone ! and such it proved to be. 
With some difficulty we got the stone out of the wall ; 
and, being an expert in palaeography, I was able to 
decipher the inscription. It ran as follows: 'FURy. 
Died Feb. 28, 1864.' A skilled antiquary would prob- 
ably pronounce it to be the headstone of a favourite dog's 
grave ; and I am inclined to think that we have here 
a not unformidable rival of the celebrated 

B I L S T 

U M 

PS HI 

S.M. 

ARK 

of the Pickwick Papers. 

" Yet another vanished chapel, of which I have even less 
to tell you. On the right-hand side of the railway line 



VANISHING CHURCHES 137 

running towards Stafford, a little beyond Stallbrook 
Crossing, there is a field known as Chapel Field. But 
there is nothing but the name left. From ancient docu- 
ments I have learnt that a chapel once stood there, known 
as Derrington Chapel (I think in the thirteenth century), 
in Seighford parish, but served from Ranton Priory. In 
1847 m y father built a beautiful little church at Derring- 
ton, in the Geometrical Decorated style, but not on the 
Chapel Field. I cannot tell you what an immense source 
of satisfaction it would be to me if I could gather some 
further reliable information as to the history, style, and 
annihilation of these two vanished chapels. It is un- 
speakably sad to be forced to realize that in so many of 
our country parishes no records exist of things and events 
of surpassing interest in their histories. 

"I take you now to where there is something a little 
more tangible. There stand in the park of Creswell 
Hall, near Stafford, the ruins of a little thirteenth-cen- 
tury chapel. 1 will describe what is left. I may say that 
some twenty years ago I made certain excavations, which 
showed the ground plan to be still complete. So far as I 
remember, we found a chamfered plinth all round the 
nave, with a west doorway. The chancel and nave are 
of the same width, the chancel measuring about 21 ft. 
long and the nave c. 33 ft. The ground now again covers 
much of what we found. The remains above ground are 
those of the chancel only. Large portions of the east 
and north walls remain, and a small part of the south 
wall. The north wall is still c. 12 ft. high, and contains 
two narrow lancets, quite perfect. The east wall reaches 
c. 15 ft., and has a good base-mould. It contains the 
opening, without the head, of a three-light window, with 
simply moulded jambs, and the glass-line remaining, A 
string-course under the window runs round the angle 
buttresses, or rather did so run, for I think the north 
buttress has been rebuilt, and without the string. The 
south buttress is complete up to two weatherings, and 
has two strings round it. It is a picturesque and valu- 
able ruin, and well worth a visit. It is amusing to notice 
that Creswell now calls itself a rectory, and an open-air 
service is held annually within its walls. It was a pre- 
bend of S. Mary's, Stafford, and previously a Free 
Chapel, the advowson belonging to the Lord of tin- 
Manor ; and it was sometimes supplied with preachers 
from Ranton Priory. Of the story of its destruction I 



138 VANISHING ENGLAND 

can discover nothing. It is now carefully preserved and, 
I have heard it suggested that it might some day be 
rebuilt to meet the spiritual needs of its neighbour- 
hood. 

"We pass now to the most stately and beautiful object 
in this neighbourhood. I mean the tower of Ranton 
Priory Church. It is always known here as Ranton 
Abbey. But it has no right to the title. It was an off- 
shoot of Haughmond Abbey, near Shrewsbury, and 
was a Priory of Black Canons, founded temp. Henry II. 
The church has disappeared entirely, with the exception 
of a bit of the south-west walling of the nave and a 
Norman doorway in it. This may have connected the 
church with the domestic build ngs. In Gough's Col- 
lection in the Bodleian, dated 1731, there is a sketch of 
the church. What is shown there is a simple parallelo- 
gram, with the usual high walls, in Transition-Norman 
style, with flat pilaster buttresses, two strings running 
round the walls, the upper one forming the dripstones 
of lancet windows, a corbel-table supporting the eaves- 
course, and a north-east priest's door. But whatever the 
church may have been (and the sketch represents it as 
being of severe simplicity), some one built on to it a 
west tower of great magnificence. It is of early Per- 
pendicular date, practically uninjured, the pinnacles only 
being absent, though, happily, the stumps of these re- 
main. Its proportion appears to me to be absolutely 
perfect, and its detail so good that I think you would 
have to travel far to find its rival. There is a very 
interesting point to notice in the beautiful west doorway. 
It will be seen that the masonry of the lower parts of its 
jambs is quite different from that of the upper parts, and 
there can, I think, be no doubt that these lower stones 
have been re-used from a thirteenth-century doorway of 
some other part of the buildings. There is a tradition 
that the bells of Gnosall Church were taken from this 
tower. I can find no confirmation of this, and I cannot 
believe it. For the church at Gnosall is of earlier date 
and greater magnificence than that of Ranton Priory, 
and was, I imagine, quite capable of having bells of its 



own." 



It would be an advantage to archaeology if every one 
were such a careful and accurate observer of local anti- 
quarian remains as the Rural Dean of Stafford. Wherever 



VANISHING CHURCHES 139 

we go we find similar deserted and abandoned shrines. 
In Derbyshire alone there are over a hundred destroyed 
or disused churches, of which Dr. Cox, the leading 
authority on the subject, has published a list. Notting- 
hamshire abounds in instances of the same kind. As 
late as 1892 the church at Colston Bassett was deliberately 
turned into a ruin. There are only mounds and a few 
stones to show the site of the parish church of Thorpe- 
in-the-fields, which in the seventeenth century was 
actually used as a beer-shop. In the fields between 
Elston and East Stoke is a disused church with a south 
Norman doorway. The old parochial chapel of Aslacton 
was long desecrated, and used in comparatively recent 
days as a beer-shop. The remains of it have, happily, 
been reclaimed, and now serve as a mission-room. East 
Anglia, famous for its grand churches, has to mourn 
over many which have been lost, many that are left roof- 
less and ivy-clad, and some ruined indeed, though some 
fragment has been made secure enough for the holding 
of divine service. Whitling has a roofless church with 
a round Norman tower. The early Norman church of 
St. Mary at Kirby Bedon has been allowed to fall into 
decay, and for nearly two hundred years has been 
ruinous. St. Saviour's Church, Surlingham, was pulled 
down at the beginning of the eighteenth century on the 
ground that one church in the village was sufficient for 
its spiritual wants, and its materials served to mend 
roads. 

A strange reason has been given for the destruction of 
several of these East Anglian churches. In Norfolk 
there were many recusants, members of old Roman 
Catholic families, who refused in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries to obey the law requiring them to 
attend their parish church. But if their church were in 
ruins no service could be held, and therefore they could 
not be compelled to attend. Hence in many cases the 
churches were deliberately reduced to a ruinous state. 
Bowthorpe was one of these unfortunate churches which 



140 VANISHING ENGLAND 

met its fate in the days of Queen Elizabeth. It stands in 
a farm-yard, and the nave made an excellent barn and the 
steeple a dovecote. The lord of the manor was ordered 
to restore it at the beginning of the seventeenth century. 
This he did, and for a time it was used for divine service. 
Now it is deserted and roofless, and sleeps placidly girt 
by a surrounding wall, a lonely shrine. The church of 
St. Peter, Hungate, at Norwich, is of great historical 
interest and contains good architectural features, in- 
cluding a very fine roof. It was rebuilt in the fifteenth 
century by John Paston and Margaret, his wife, whose 
letters form part of that extraordinary series of medieval 
correspondence which throws so much light upon the 
social life of the period. The church has a rudely carved 
record of their work outside the north door. This un- 
happy church has fallen into disuse, and it has been 
proposed to follow the example of the London citizens 
to unite the benefice with another and to destroy the 
building. Thanks to the energy and zeal of His High- 
ness Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, delay in carrying 
out the work of destruction has been secured, and we 
trust that his efforts to save the building will be crowned 
with the success they deserve. 

Not far from Norwich are the churches of Keswick and 
Intwood. Before 1600 a.d. the latter was deserted and 
desecrated, being used for a sheep-fold, and the people 
attended service at Keswick. Then Intwood was re- 
stored to its sacred uses, and poor Keswick church was 
compelled to furnish materials for its repair. Keswick 
remained ruinous until a few years ago, when part of it 
was restored and used as a cemetery chapel. Ringstead 
has two ruined churches, St. Andrew's and St. Peter's. 
Only the tower of the latter remains. Roudham church 
two hundred years ago was a grand building, as its 
remains plainly testify. It had a thatched roof, which 
was fired by a careless thatcher, and has remained 
roofless to this day. Few are acquainted with the 
ancient hamlet of Liscombe, situated in a beautiful 



VANISHING CHURCHES 141 

Dorset valley. It now consists of only one or two 
houses, a little Norman church, and an old monastic 
barn. The little church is built of flint, stone, and large 
blocks of hard chalk, and consists of a chancel and nave 
divided by a Transition-Norman arch with massive 
rounded columns. There are Norman windows in the 
chancel, with some later work inserted. A fine niche, 
eight feet high, with a crocketed canopy, stood at the 
north-east corner of the chancel, but has disappeared. 
The windows of the nave and the west doorway have 
perished. It has been for a long time desecrated. The 
nave is used as a bakehouse. There is a large open 
grate, oven, and chimney in the centre, and the chancel 
is a storehouse for logs. The upper part of the building 
has been converted into an upper storey and divided into 
bedrooms, which have broken-down ceilings. The roof 
is of thatch. Modern windows and a door have been 
inserted. It is a deplorable instance of terrible dese- 
cration. 

The growth of ivy unchecked has caused many a ruin. 
The roof of the nave and south aisle of the venerable 
church of Chingford, Essex, fell a few years ago entirely 
owing to the destructive ivy which was allowed to work 
its relentless will on the beams, tiles, and rafters of this 
ancient structure. 

Besides those we have mentioned there are about sixty 
other ruined churches in Norfolk, and in Suffolk many 
others, including the magnificent ruins of Covehithe, 
Flixton, Hopton, which was destroyed only forty-four 
years ago through the burning of its thatched roof, and 
the Old Minster, South Elmham. 

Attempts have been made by the National Trust and 
the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to 
save Kirkstead Chapel, near Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. 
It is one of the very few surviving examples of the 
capella extra portas, which was a feature of every Cister- 
cian abbey, where women and other persons who were 
not allowed within the gates could hear Mass. The 



i 4 2 VANISHING ENGLAND 

abbey was founded in 1139, and the chapel, which is 
private property, is one of the finest examples of Early 
English architecture remaining in the country. It is in 
a very decaying condition. The owner has been ap- 
proached, and the officials of the above societies have 
tried to persuade him to repair it himself or to allow them 
to do so. But these negotiations have hitherto failed. It 
is very deplorable when the owners of historic buildings 
should act in this "dog-in-the-manger" fashion, and 
surely the time has come when the Government should 
have power to compulsorily acquire such historic monu- 
ments when their natural protectors prove themselves to 
be incapable or unwilling to preserve and save them from 
destruction. 

We turn from this sorry page of wilful neglect to one 
that records the grand achievement of modern antiquaries, 
the rescue and restoration of the beautiful specimen of 
Saxon architecture, the little chapel of St. Lawrence at 
Bradford-on-Avon. Until 1856 its existence was entirely 
unknown, and the credit of its discovery was due to the 
Rev. Canon Jones, Vicar of Bradford. At the Reforma- 
tion with the dissolution of the abbey at Shaftesbury it 
had passed into lay hands. The chancel was used as a 
cottage. Round its walls other cottages arose. Perhaps 
part of the building was at one time used as a charnel- 
house, as in an old deed it is called the Skull House. In 
17 15 the nave and porch were given to the vicar to be 
used as a school. But no one suspected the presence of 
this exquisite gem of Anglo-Saxon architecture, until 
Canon Jones when surveying the town from the height of 
a neighbouring hill recognized the peculiarity of the roof 
and thought that it might indicate the existence of a 
church. Thirty-seven years ago the Wiltshire antiquaries 
succeeded in purchasing the building. They cleared away 
the buildings, chimney-stacks, and outhouses that had 
grown up around it, and revealed the whole beauties of 
this lovely shrine. Archaeologists have fought many battles 
over it as to its date. Some contend that it is the identical 




Saxon Doorway in St. Lawrence's Church, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts 



i 4 4 VANISHING ENGLAND 

church which William of Malmesbury tells us St. Aldhelm 
built at Bradford-on-Avon about 700 a.d., others assert 
that it cannot be earlier than the tenth century. It 
was a monastic cell attached to the Abbey of Malmes- 
bury, but Ethelred II gave it to the Abbess of Shaftesbury 
in 1001 as a secure retreat for her nuns if Shaftesbury 
should be threatened by the ravaging Danes. We need 
not describe the building, as it is well known. Our artist 
has furnished us with an admirable illustration of it. Its 
great height, its characteristic narrow Saxon doorways, 
heavy plain imposts, the string-courses surrounding the 
building, the arcades of pilasters, the carved figures of 
angels are some of its most important features. It is 
cheering to find that amid so much that has vanished we 
have here at Bradford a complete Saxon church that 
differs very little from what it was when it was first 
erected. 

Other Saxon remains are not wanting. Wilfrid's Crypt 
at Hexham, that at Ripon, Brixworth Church, the church 
within the precincts of Dover Castle, the towers of Bar- 
nack, Barton-upon-Humber, Stow, Earl's Barton, Sompt- 
ing, Stanton Lacy show considerable evidences of Saxon 
work. Saxon windows with their peculiar baluster shafts 
can be seen at Bolam and Billingham, Durham; St. 
Andrew's, Bywell, Monkwearmouth, Ovington, Sompt- 
ing, St. Mary Junior, York, Hornby, Wickham (Berks), 
Waithe, Holton-le-Clay, Glentworth and Clee (Lincoln), 
Northleigh, Oxon, and St. Alban's Abbey. Saxon arches 
exist at Worth, Corhampton, Escomb, Deerhurst, St. 
Benet's, Cambridge, Brigstock, and Barnack. Triangular 
arches remain at Brigstock, Barnack, Deerhurst, Aston 
Tirrold, Berks. We have still some Saxon fonts at 
Potterne, Wilts ; Little Billing, Northants ; Edgmond 
and Bucknell, Shropshire; Penmon, Anglesey; and 
South Hayling, Hants. Even Saxon sundials exist at 
Winchester, Corhampton, Bishopstone, Escomb, Aid- 
borough, Edston, and Kirkdale. There is also one at 
Daglingworth, Gloucestershire. Some hours of the 



VANISHING CHURCHES 145 

Saxon's day in that village must have fled more swiftly 
than others, as all the radii are placed at the same angle. 
Even some mural paintings by Saxon artists exist at 
St. Mary's, Guildford; St. Martin's, Canterbury; and 
faint traces at Britford, Headbourne, Worthing, and St. 
Nicholas, Ipswich, and some painted consecration crosses 
are believed to belong to this period. 

Recent investigations have revealed much Saxon work 
in our churches, the existence of which had before been 
unsuspected. Many circumstances have combined to ob- 
literate it. The Danish wars had a disastrous effect on 
many churches reared in Saxon times. The Norman 
Conquest caused many of them to be replaced by more 
highly finished structures. But frequently, as we study 
the history written in the stonework of our churches, we 
find beneath coatings of stucco the actual walls built by 
Saxon builders, and an arch here, a column there, which 
link our own times with the distant past, when England 
was divided into eight kingdoms and when Danegelt was 
levied to buy off the marauding strangers. 

It is refreshing to find these specimens of early work 
in our churches. Since then what destruction has been 
wrought, what havoc done upon their fabric and furni- 
ture ! At the Reformation iconoclasm raged with un- 
pitying ferocity. Everybody from the King to the 
churchwardens, who sold church plate lest it should fall 
into the hands of the royal commissioners, seems to 
have been engaged in pillaging churches and monas- 
teries. The plunder of chantries and guilds followed. 
Fuller quaintly describes this as "the last dish of the 
course, and after cheese nothing is to be expected." But 
the coping-stone was placed on the vast fabric of spolia- 
tion by sending commissioners to visit all the cathedrals 
and parish churches, and seize the superfluous plate and 
ornaments for the King's use. Even quite small churches 
possessed many treasures which the piety of many 
generations had bestowed upon them. 

There is a little village in Berkshire called Boxford, 
10 



146 VANISHING ENGLAND 

quite a small place. Here is the list of church goods 
which the commissioners found there, and which had 
escaped previous ravages : — 

"One challice, a cross of copper & gilt, another cross 
of timber covered with brass, one cope of blue velvet 
embroidered with images of angles, one vestment of the 
same suit with an albe of Lockeram, 1 two vestments of 
Dornexe, 2 and three other very old, two old & coarse 
albes of Lockeram, two old copes of Dornexe, iiij altar 
cloths of linen cloth, two corporals with two cases where- 
of one is embroidered, two surplices, & one rochet, one 
bible & the paraphrases of Erasmus in English, seven 
banners of lockeram & one streamer all painted, three 
front cloths for altars whereof one of them is with panes 
of white damask & black satin, & the other two of old 
vestments, two towels of linen, iiij candlesticks of latten 3 
& two standertes 4 before the high altar of latten, a lent 
vail 5 before the high altar with panes blue and white, two 
candlesticks of latten and five branches, a peace, 6 three 
great bells with one saunce bell xx, one canopy of cloth, 
a covering of Dornixe for the Sepulchre, two cruets of 
pewter, a holy-water pot of latten, a linen cloth to draw 
before the rood. And all the said parcels safely to be 
kept & preserved, & all the same & every parcel thereof 
to be forthcoming at all times when it shall be of them 
[the churchwardens] required." 

This inventory of the goods of one small church enables 
us to judge of the wealth of our country churches before 
they were despoiled. Of private spoliators their name 
was legion. The arch-spoliator was Protector Somerset, 
the King's uncle, Edward Seymour, formerly Earl of 
Hertford and then created Duke of Somerset. He ruled 
England for three years after King Henry's death. He 
was a glaring and unblushing church-robber, setting an 
example which others were only too ready to follow. 
Canon Overton 7 tells how Somerset House remains as a 

1 A fine linen cloth made in Brittany (cf. Coriolanus, Act ii. sc. i). 

2 A rich sort of stuff interwoven with gold and silver, made at Tournay, 
which was formerly called Dorneck, in Flanders. 

- ; An alloy of copper and zinc. 4 Large standard candlesticks. 

5 The Lent cloth, hung before the altar during Lent. 6 A Pax. 

7 History of the Church in England, p. 401. 



VANISHING CHURCHES 147 

standing memorial of his rapacity. In order to provide 
materials for building it he pulled down the church of 
St. Mary-le-Strand and. three bishops' houses, and was 
proceeding also to pull down the historical church of St. 
Margaret, Westminster ; but public opinion was too 
strong against him, the parishioners rose and beat off his 
workmen, and he was forced to desist, and content himself 
with violating and plundering the precincts of St. Paul's. 
Moreover, the steeple and most of the church of St. John 
of Jerusalem, Smithfield, were mined and blown up with 
gunpowder that the materials might be utilized for the 
ducal mansion in the Strand. He turned Glastonbury, 
with all its associations dating from the earliest introduc- 
tion of Christianity into our island, into a worsted manu- 
factory, managed by French Protestants. Under his 
auspices the splendid college of St. Martin-le-Grand in 
London was converted into a tavern, and St. Stephen's 
Chapel, Westminster, served the scarcely less incon- 
gruous purpose of a Parliament House. All this he did, 
and when his well-earned fall came the Church fared no 
better under his successor, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, 
and afterwards Duke of Northumberland. 

Another wretch was Robert, Earl of Sussex, to whom 
the King gave the choir of Atleburgh, in Norfolk, because 
it belonged to a college. " Being of a covetous disposi- 
tion, he not only pulled down and spoiled the chancel, but 
also pulled up many fair marble gravestones of his ances- 
tors with monuments of brass upon them, and other fair 
good pavements, and carried them and laid them for his 
hall, kitchen, and larder-house." The church of St. 
Nicholas, Yarmouth, has many monumental stones, the 
brasses of which were in 1551 sent to London to be cast 
into weights and measures for the use of the town. The 
shops of the artists in brass in London were full of broken 
brass memorials torn from tombs. Hence arose the 
making of palimpsest brasses, the carvers using an old 
brass and on the reverse side cutting a memorial of a 
more recently deceased person. 



148 VANISHING ENGLAND 

After all this iconoclasm, spoliation, and robbery it is 
surprising that anything of value should have been left in 
our churches. But happily some treasures escaped, and 
the gifts of two or three generations added others. Thus 
I find from the will of a good gentleman, Mr. Edward 
Ball, that after the spoliation of Barkham Church he 
left the sum of five shillings for the providing of a proces- 
sional cross to be borne before the choir in that church, 
and I expect that he gave us our beautiful Elizabethan 
chalice of the date 1561. The Church had scarcely re- 
covered from its spoliation before another era of devasta- 
tion and robbery ensued. During the Cromwellian period 
much destruction was wrought by mad zealots of the 
Puritan faction. One of these men and his doings are men- 
tioned by Dr. Berwick in his Querela Cantabrigiensis : — 

" One who calls himself John [it should be William] 
Dowsing and by Virtue of a pretended Commission, goes 
about y e country like a Bedlam, breaking glasse windows, 
having battered and beaten downe all our painted glasses, 
not only in our Chappels, but (contrary to order) in our 
Publique Schools, Colledge Halls, Libraries, and Cham- 
bers, mistaking, perhaps, y e liberall Artes for Saints (which 
they intend in time to pull down too) and having (against 
an order) defaced and digged up y e floors of our Chap- 
pels, many of which had lien so for two or three hundred 
years together, not regarding y e dust of our founders and 
predecessors who likely were buried there ; compelled us 
by armed Souldiers to pay forty shillings a Colledge for 
not mending what he had spoyled and defaced, or forth 
with to goe to prison." 

We meet with the sad doings of this wretch Dowsing in 
various places in East Anglia. He left his hideous mark 
on many a fair church. Thus the churchwardens of 
Walberswick, in Suffolk, record in their accounts : — 

" 1644, April 8th, paid to Martin Dowson, that came 
with the troopers to our church, about the taking 
down of Images and Brasses off Stones o 6 o." 
1644 paid that day to others for taking up the brasses 
of grave stones before the officer Dowson came 



i 1 



o 1 o." 




St. George's Church, Great Yarmouth 



150 VANISHING ENGLAND 

The record of the ecclesiastical exploits of William 
Dowsing has been preserved by the wretch himself in a 
diary which he kept. It was published in 1786, and the 
volume provides much curious reading. With reference 
to the church of Toffe he says : — 

"Will: Disborugh Church Warden Richard Basly 
and John Newman Cunstable, 27 Superstitious pictures 
in glass and ten other in stone, three brass inscriptions, 
Pray for y e Soules, and a Cross to be taken of the Steeple 
(6s. 8d.) and there was divers Orate pro Animabus in 
ye windows, and on a Bell, Ora pro Anima Sanctas 
Catharinag." 

"•Trinity Parish, Cambridge, M. Frog, Churchwarden, 
December 25, we brake down 80 Popish pictures, and 
one of Christ and God y e Father above." 

"At Clare we brake down 1000 pictures superstitious." 

" Coc/iie, there were divers pictures in the Windows 
which we could not reach, neither would they help us to 
raise the ladders." 

" 1643, Jan y 1, Edwards parish, we digged up the steps, 
and brake down 40 pictures, and took off ten super- 
stitious inscriptions." 

It is terrible to read these records, and to imagine all the 
beautiful works of art that this ignorant wretch ruthlessly 
destroyed. To all the inscriptions on tombs containing 
the pious petition Orate pro anima — his ignorance is 
palpably displayed by his Orate pro animabus — he paid 
special attention. Well did Mr. Cole observe concerning 
the last entry in Dowsing's diary : — 

" From this last Entry we may clearly see to whom we 
are obliged for the dismantling of almost all the grave- 
stones that had brasses on them, both in town and 
country : a sacrilegious sanctified rascal that was afraid, 
or too proud, to call it St. Edward's Church, but not 
ashamed to rob the dead of their honours and the Church 
of its ornaments. — W. C." 

He tells also of the dreadful deeds that were being 
done at Lowestoft in 1644 : — 

"In the same year, also, on the 12th of June, there 
came one Jessop, with a commission from the Earl of 



VANISHING CHURCHES 151 

Manchester, to take away from gravestones all inscrip- 
tions on which he found Orate pro anima — a wretched 
Commissioner not able to read or find out that which his 
commission enjoyned him to remove — he took up in our 
Church so much brasse, as he sold to Mr. Josiah Wild 
for five shillings, which was afterwards (contrary to my 
knowledge) runn into the little bell that hangs in the 
Town-house. There were taken up in the Middle Ayl 
twelve pieces belonging to twelve generations of the 
Jettours." 

The same scenes were being enacted in many parts of 
England. Everywhere ignorant commissioners were ram- 
paging about the country imitating the ignorant ferocity 
of this Dowsing and Jessop. No wonder our churches 
were bare, pillaged, and ruinated. Moreover, the con- 
ception of art and the taste for architecture were dead or 
dying, and there was no one who could replace the 
beautiful objects which these wretches destroyed or 
repair the desolation they had caused. 

Another era of spoliation set in in more recent times, 
when the restorers came with vitiated taste and the worst 
ideals to reconstruct and renovate our churches which 
time, spoliation, and carelessness had left somewhat 
the worse for wear. The Oxford Movement taught men 
to bestow more care upon the houses of God in the 
land, to promote His honour by more reverent worship, 
and to restore the beauty of His sanctuary. A rector 
found his church in a dilapidated state and talked over 
the matter with the squire. Although the building was 
in a sorry condition, with a cracked ceiling, hideous 
galleries, and high pews like cattle-pens, it had a Norman 
doorway, some Early English carved work in the chancel, 
a good Perpendicular tower, and fine Decorated windows. 
These two well-meaning but ignorant men decided that a 
brand-new church would be a great improvement on this 
old tumble-down building. An architect was called in, 
or a local builder ; the plan of a new church was speedily 
drawn, and ere long the hammers and axes were let loose 
on the old church and every vestige of antiquity 



152 VANISHING ENGLAND 

destroyed. The old Norman font was turned out of the 
church, and either used as a cattle-trough or to hold a 
flower-pot in the rectory garden. Some of the beauti- 
fully carved stones made an excellent rockery in the 
squire's garden, and old woodwork, perchance a four- 
teenth-century rood-screen, encaustic tiles bearing the 
arms of the abbey with which in former days the church 
was connected, monuments and stained glass, are all 
carted away and destroyed, and the triumph of vandalism 
is complete. 

That is an oft-told tale which finds its counterpart in 
many towns and villages, the entire and absolute destruc- 
tion of the old church by ignorant vandals who work end- 
less mischief and know not what they do. There is the 
village of Little Wittenham, in our county of Berks, not 
far from Sinodun Hill, an ancient earthwork covered with 
trees, that forms so conspicuous an object to the travellers 
by the Great Western Railway from Didcot to Oxford. 
About forty years ago terrible things were done in the 
church of that village. The vicar was a Goth. There 
was a very beautiful chantry chapel on the south side of 
the choir, full of magnificent marble monuments to the 
memory of various members of the Dunce family. This 
family, once great and powerful, whose great house stood 
hard by on the north of the church — only the terraces of 
which remain — is now, it is believed, extinct. The vicar 
thought that he might be held responsible for the dilapi- 
dations of this old chantry ; so he pulled it down, and 
broke all the marble tombs with axes and hammers. You 
can see the shattered remains that still show signs of 
beauty in one of the adjoining barns. Some few were set 
up in the tower, the old font became a pig-trough, the 
body of the church was entirely renewed, and vandalism 
reigned supreme. In our county of Berks there were at 
the beginning of the last century 170 ancient parish 
churches. Of these, thirty have been pulled down and 
entirely rebuilt, six of them on entirely new sites ; one has 
been burnt down, one disused ; before 1890 one hundred 



VANISHING CHURCHES 153 

were restored, some of them most drastically, and several 
others have been restored since, but with greater respect 
to old work. 

A favourite method of "restoration" was adopted in 
many instances. A church had a Norman doorway and 
pillars in the nave ; sundry additions and alterations had 
been made in subsequent periods, and examples of Early 
English, Decorated, and Perpendicular styles of architec- 
ture were observable, with, perhaps, a Renaissance porch 
or other later feature. What did the early restorers do? 
They said, "This is a Norman church; all its details 
should be Norman too." So they proceeded to takeaway 
these later additions and imitate Norman work as much 
as they could by breaking down the Perpendicular or 
Decorated tracery in the windows and putting in large 
round-headed windows — their conception of Norman work, 
but far different from what any Norman builder would 
have contrived. Thus these good people entirely de- 
stroyed the history of the building, and caused to vanish 
much that was interesting and important. Such is the 
deplorable story of the "restoration" of many a parish 
church. 

An amusing book, entitled Hints to Some Church- 
wardens, with a few Illustrations Relative to the Repair 
and Improvement of Parish Churches, was published in 
1825. The author, with much satire, depicts the "very 
many splendid, curious, and convenient ideas which have 
emanated from those churchwardens who have attained 
perfection as planners and architects." He apologises for 
not giving the names of these superior men and the dates 
of the improvements they have achieved, but is sure that 
such works as theirs must immortalize them, not only in 
their parishes, but in their counties, and, he trusts, in 
the kingdom at large. The following are some of the 
"hints":— 

" How to affix a porch to an old church. 

" If the church is of stone, let the porch be of brick, 
the roof slated, and the entrance to it of the improved 



154 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Gothic called modern, being an arch formed by an acute 
angle. The porch should be placed so as to stop up 
what might be called a useless window ; and as it some- 
times happens that there is an ancient Saxon l entrance, 
let it be carefully bricked up, and perhaps plastered, so as 
to conceal as much as possible of the zigzag ornament 
used in buildings of this kind. Such improvements 
cannot fail to ensure celebrity to churchwardens of future 
ages. 

" How to add a vestry to an old church. 

"The building here proposed is to be of bright brick, 
with a slated roof and sash windows, with a small door on 
one side ; and it is, moreover, to be adorned with a most 
tasty and ornamental brick chimney, which terminates at 
the chancel end. The position of the building should be 
against two old Gothic windows ; which, having the ad- 
vantage of hiding them nearly altogether, when contrasted 
with the dull and uniform surface of an old stone church, 
has a lively and most imposing effect. 

" How to ornament the top or battlements of a tower 
belonging to an ancient church. 

' ' Place on each battlement, vases, candlesticks, and pine- 
apples alternately, and the effect will be striking. Vases 
have many votaries amongst those worthy members of 
society, the churchwardens. Candlesticks are of ancient 
origin, and represent, from the highest authority, the light 
of the churches : but as in most churches weathercocks 
are used, I would here recommend the admirers of novelty 
and improvement to adopt a pair of snuffers, which 
might also be considered as a useful emblem for rein- 
vigorating the lights from the candlesticks. The pine- 
apple ornament having in so many churches been 
judiciously substituted for Gothic, cannot fail to please. 
Some such ornament should also be placed at the top of 
the church, and at the chancel end. But as this publica- 
tion does not restrict any churchwarden of real taste, and 
as the ornaments here recommended are in a common way 
made of stone, if any would wish to distinguish his year 
of office, perhaps he would do it brilliantly by painting 
them all bright red. ..." 

Other valuable suggestions are made in this curious 
and amusing work, such as " how to repair Quartre-feuille 

1 Doubtless our author means Norman. 



VANISHING CHURCHES 155 

windows " by cutting out all the partitions and making 
them quite round ; "how to adapt a new church to an 
old tower with most taste and effect," the most attractive 
features being light iron partitions instead of stone mul- 
lions for the windows, with shutters painted yellow, bright 
brick walls and slate roof, and a door painted sky-blue. 
You can best ornament a chancel by placing colossal 
figures of Moses and Aaron supporting the altar, huge 
tables of the commandments, and clusters of grapes and 
pomegranates in festoons and clusters of monuments. 
Vases upon pillars, the commandments in sky-blue, 
clouds carved out of wood supporting angels, are some 
of the ideas recommended. Instead of a Norman font 
you can substitute one resembling a punch-bowl, 1 with 
the pedestal and legs of a round claw table ; and it would 
be well to rear a massive pulpit in the centre of the 
chancel arch, hung with crimson and gold lace, with gilt 
chandeliers, large sounding-board with a vase at the top. 
A stove is always necessary. It can be placed in the 
centre of the chancel, and the stove-pipe can be carried 
through the upper part of the east window, and then by 
an elbow conveyed to the crest of the roof over the window, 
the cross being taken down to make room for the chimney. 
Such are some of the recommendations of this ingenious 
writer, which are ably illustrated by effective drawings. 
They are not all imaginative. Many old churches tell the 
tragic story of their mutilation at the hands of a rector 
who has discovered Parker's Glossary, knows nothing 
about art, but " does know what he likes," advised by his 
wife who has visited some of the cathedrals, and by an 
architect who has been elaborately educated in the prin- 
ciples of Roman Renaissance, but who knows no more of 
Lombard, Byzantine, or Gothic art than he does of the 
dynasties of ancient Egypt. When a church has fallen 
into the hands of such renovators and been heavily " re- 
stored," if the ghost of one of its medieval builders came 

1 A china punchbowl was actually presented by Sir T. Drake to be used 
as a font at Woodbury, Devon. 



156 VANISHING ENGLAND 

to view his work he would scarcely recognize it. Well 
says Mr. Thomas Hardy : " To restore the great carcases 
of medievalism in the remote nooks of western England 
seems a not less incongruous act than to set about renovat- 
ing the adjoining crags themselves, "and well might he sigh 
over the destruction of the grand old tower of Endelstow 
Church and the erection of what the vicar called "a splendid 
tower, designed by a first-rate London man — in the newest 
style of Gothic art and full of Christian feeling." 

The novelist's remarks on "restoration" are most 
valuable : — 

" Entire destruction under the saving name has been 
effected on so gigantic a scale that the protection of 
structures, their being kept wind and weather-proof, 
counts as nothing in the balance. Its enormous magni- 
tude is realized by few who have not gone personally from 
parish to parish through a considerable district, and com- 
pared existing churches there with records, traditions, and 
memories of what they formerly were. The shifting of 
old windows and other details irregularly spaced, and 
spacing them at exact distances, has been one process. 
The deportation of the original chancel arch to an obscure 
nook and the insertion of a wider new one, to throw 
open the view of the choir, is a practice by no means 
extinct. Next in turn to the re-designing of old buildings 
and parts of them comes the devastation caused by letting 
restorations by contract, with a clause in the specification 
requesting the builder to give a price for ' old materials,' 
such as the lead of the roofs, to be replaced by tiles or 
slates, and the oak of the pews, pulpit, altar-rails, etc., to 
be replaced by deal. Apart from these irregularities it 
has been a principle that anything later than Henry VIII 
is anathema and to be cast out. At Wimborne Minster 
fine Jacobean canopies have been removed from Tudor 
stalls for the offence only of being Jacobean. At a hotel 
in Cornwall a tea-garden was, and probably is still, orna- 
mented with seats constructed of the carved oak from a 
neighbouring church — no doubt the restorer's perquisite. 

" Poor places which cannot afford to pay a clerk of the 
works suffer much in these ecclesiastical convulsions. In 
one case I visited, as a youth, the careful repair of an inter- 
esting Early English window had been specified, but it 
was gone. The contractor, who had met me on the spot, 



VANISHING CHURCHES 157 

replied genially to my gaze of concern : 'Well, now, I said 
to myself when I looked at the old thing, I won't stand 
upon a pound or two. I'll give 'em a new winder now 
I am about it, and make a good job of it, howsomever.' 
A caricature in new stone of the old window had taken its 
place. In the same church was an old oak rood-screen in 
the Perpendicular style with some gilding and colouring 
still remaining. Some repairs had been specified, but I be- 
held in its place a new screen of varnished deal. ' Well,' 
replied the builder, more genial than ever, ' please God, 
now I am about it, I'll do the thing well, cost what it 
will.' The old screen had been used up to boil the work- 
men's kettles, though ' a were not much at that.' " 

Such is the terrible report of this amazing iconoclasm. 

Some wiseacres, the vicar and churchwardens, once 
determined to pull down their old church and build a new 
one. So they met in solemn conclave and passed the 
following sagacious resolutions : — 

r. That a new church should be built. 

2. That the materials of the old church should be used 

in the construction of the new. 

3. That the old church should not be pulled down until 

the new one be built. 

How they contrived to combine the second and third 
resolutions history recordeth not. 

Even when the church was spared the "restorers" 
were guilty of strange enormities in the embellishment 
and decoration of the sacred building. Whitewash was 
vigorously applied to the walls and pews, carvings, 
pulpit, and font. If curious mural paintings adorned 
the walls, the hideous whitewash soon obliterated every 
trace and produced "those modest hues which the native 
appearance of the stone so pleasingly bestows." But 
whitewash has one redeeming virtue, it preserves and 
saves for future generations treasures which otherwise 
might have been destroyed. Happily all decoration of 
churches has not been carried out in the reckless fashion 
thus described by a friend of the writer. An old Cam- 
bridgeshire incumbent, who had done nothing to his 



158 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



church for many years, was bidden by the archdeacon to 
"brighten matters up a little." The whole of the wood- 
work wanted repainting and varnishing, a serious matter 
for a poor man. His wife, a very capable lady, took the 
matter in hand. She went to the local carpenter and 
wheelwright and bought up the whole of his stock of 
that particular paint with which farm carts and wagons 
are painted, coarse but serviceable, and of the brightest 
possible red, blue, green, and yellow hues. With her 
own hands she painted the whole of the interior — pulpit, 
pews, doors, etc., and probably the wooden altar, using 
the colours as her fancy dictated, or as the various colours 
held out. The effect was remarkable. A succeeding 




Carving on Rood-screen, Alcester Church, Warwick 

rector began at once the work of restoration, scraping off the 
paint and substituting oak varnish ; but when my friend 
took a morning service for him the work had not been 
completed, and he preached from a bright green pulpit. 

The contents of our parish churches, furniture and 
plate, are rapidly vanishing. England has ever been 
remarkable for the number and beauty of its rood-screens. 
At the Reformation the roods were destroyed and many 
screens with them, but many of the latter were retained, 
and although through neglect or wanton destruction they 
have ever since been disappearing, yet hundreds still 
exist. 1 Their number is, however, sadly decreased. In 
Cheshire "restoration" has removed nearly all examples, 
except Ashbury, Mobberley, Malpas, and a few others. 
The churches of Bunbury and Danbury have lost some 
good screen-work since i860. In Derbyshire screens 

1 English Church Furniture, by Dr. Cox and A. Harvey. 



VANISHING CHURCHES 159 

suffered severely in the nineteenth century, and the 
records of each county show the disappearance of many 
notable examples, though happily Devonshire, Somerset, 
and several other shires still possess some beautiful 
specimens of medieval woodwork. A large number of 
Jacobean pulpits with their curious carvings have 
vanished. A pious donor wishes to give a new pulpit 
to a church in memory of a relative, and the old pulpit 
is carted away to make room for its modern and often 
inferior substitute. Old stalls and misericordes, seats and 
benches with poppy-head terminations have often been 
made to vanish, and the pillaging of our churches at the 
Reformation and during the Commonwealth period and 
at the hands of the "restorers" has done much to de- 
prive our churches of their ancient furniture. 

Most churches had two or three chests or coffers for the 
storing of valuable ornaments and vestments. Each 
chantry had its chest or ark, as it was sometimes called, 
e.g. the collegiate church of St. Mary, Warwick, had in 
1464, "ij old irebound coofres," "j gret olde arke to put 
in vestments," " j olde arke at the autere ende, j old coofre 
irebonde having a long lok of the olde facion, and j lasse 
new coofre having iij loks called the tresory cofre and 
certain almaries." " In the inner house j new hie almarie 
with ij dores to kepe in the evidence of the Churche and j 
great old arke and certain olde Almaries, and in the house 
afore the Chapter house j old irebounde cofre having hie 
feet and rings of iron in the endes thereof to heve it bye." 

" It is almost exceptional to find any parish of five 
hundred inhabitants which does not possess a parish 
chest. The parish chest of the parish in which I am 
writing is now in the vestry of the church here. It has 
been used for generations as a coal box. It is exceptional 
to find anything so useful as wholesome fuel inside these 
parish chests; their contents have in the great majority 
of instances utterly perished, and the miserable destruction 
of those interesting parish records testifies to the almost 
universal neglect which they have suffered at the hands, 
not of the parsons, who as a rule have kept with remark- 



160 VANISHING ENGLAND 

able care the register books for which they have always 
been responsible, but of the churchwardens and overseers, 
who have let them perish without a thought of their value. 
"As a rule the old parish chests have fallen to pieces, 
or worse, and their contents have been used to light the 
church stove, except in those very few cases where the 
chests were furnished with two or more keys, each key 
being of different wards from the other, and each being 
handed over to a different functionary when the time of 
the parish meeting came round." 1 

When the ornaments and vestments were carted away 
from the church in the time of Edward VI, many of the 
church chests lost their use, and were sold or destroyed, 
the poorest only being kept for registers and documents. 
Very magnificent were some of these chests which have 
survived, such as that at Icklington, Suffolk, Church 
Brampton, Northants, Rugby, Westminster Abbey, and 
Chichester. The old chest at Heckfield may have been 
one of those ordered in the reign of King John for the 
collection of the alms of the faithful for the fifth crusade. 
The artist, Mr. Fred Roe, has written a valuable work on 
chests, to which those who desire to know about these 
interesting objects can refer. 

Another much diminishing store of treasure belonging 
to our churches is the church plate. Many churches 
possess some old plate — perhaps a pre-Reformation 
chalice. It is worn by age, and the clergyman, ignorant 
of its value, takes it to a jeweller to be repaired. He is 
told that it is old and thin and cannot easily be repaired, 
and is offered very kindly by the jeweller in return for 
this old chalice a brand-new one with a paten added. He 
is delighted, and the old chalice finds its way to Christie's, 
realizes a large sum, and goes into the collection of sortie 
millionaire. Not long ago the Council of the Society of 
Antiquaries issued a memorandum to the bishops and 
archdeacons of the Anglican Church calling attention to 
the increasing frequency of the sale of old or Obsolete 
church plate. This is of two kinds: (i) pieces of plate 

1 The Parish Councillor, an article by Dr. Jessop, September 20, 1895. 




II 



1 62 VANISHING ENGLAND 

or other articles of a domestic character not especially 
made, nor perhaps well fitted for the service of the 
Church ; (2) chalices, patens, flagons, or plate generally, 
made especially for ecclesiastical use, but now, for reasons 
of change of fashion or from the articles themselves being 
worn out, no longer desired to be used. A church pos- 
sibly is in need of funds for restoration, and an effort is 
naturally made to turn such articles into money. The 
officials decide to sell any objects the church may have of 
the first kind. Thus the property of the Church of 
England finds its way abroad, and is thus lost to the 
nation. With regard to the sacred vessels of the second 
class, it is undignified, if not a desecration, that vessels 
of such a sacred character should be subjected to a sale 
by auction and afterwards used as table ornaments by 
collectors to whom their religious significance makes no 
appeal. We are reminded of the profanity of Belshazzar's 
feast. 1 It would be far better to place such objects for 
safe custody and preservation in some local museum. 
Not long ago a church in Knightsbridge was removed 
and rebuilt on another site. It had a communion cup 
presented by Archbishop Laud. Some addition was 
required for the new church, and it was proposed to sell 
the chalice to help in defraying the cost of this addition. 
A London dealer offered 500 guineas for it ; happily it 
has not left the country, and is now in the Victoria and 
Albert Museum. This is only one instance out of many 
of the depletion of the Church of its treasures. It must 
not be forgotten that although the vicar and church- 
wardens are for the time being trustees of the church 
plate and furniture, yet the property really is vested in 
the parishioners. It ought not to be sold without a 
faculty, and the chancellors of dioceses ought to be ex- 
tremely careful ere they allow such sales to take place. 
The learned Chancellor of Exeter very wisely recently 

1 Canon F. E. Warren recently reported to the Suffolk Institute of 
Archaeology that while he was dining- at a friend's house he saw two 
chalices on the table. 



1 64 VANISHING ENGLAND 

refused to allow the rector of Churchstanton to sell a 
chalice of the date 1660 a.d., stating that it was painfully 
repugnant to the feelings of many Churchmen that it 
should be possible that a vessel dedicated to the most sacred 
service of the Church should figure upon the dinner-table 
of a collector. He quoted a case of a chalice which had dis- 
appeared from a church and been found afterwards with an 
inscription showing that it had been awarded as a prize at 
athletic sports. Such desecration is too deplorable for words 
suitable to describe it. If other chancellors took the same 
firm stand as Mr. Chadwyck-Healey, of Exeter, we should 
hear less of such alienation of ecclesiastical treasure. 

Another cause of mutilation and the vanishing of 
objects of interest and beauty is the iconoclasm of visitors, 
especially of American visitors, who love our English 
shrines so much that they like to chip off bits of statuary 
or wood-carving to preserve as mementoes of their visit. 
The fine monuments in our churches and cathedrals are 
especially convenient to them for prey. Not long ago 
the best portions of some fine carving were ruthlessly cut 
and hacked away by a party of American visitors. The 
verger explained that six of the party held him in conver- 
sation at one end of the building while the rest did their 
deadly and nefarious work at the other. One of the most 
beautiful monuments in the country, that of the tomb of 
Lady Maud FitzAlan at Chichester, has recently been cut 
and chipped by these unscrupulous visitors. It may be 
difficult to prevent them from damaging such works of 
art, but it is hoped that feelings of greater reverence may 
grow which would render such vandalism impossible. 
All civilized persons would be ashamed to mutilate the 
statues of Greece and Rome in our museums. Let them 
realize that these monuments in our cathedrals and 
churches are just as valuable, as they are the best of 
English art, and then no sacrilegious hand would dare to 
injure them or deface them by scratching names upon 
them or by carrying away broken chips as souvenirs. 

Playful boys in churchyards sometimes do much mis- 



VANISHING CHURCHES 165 

chief. In Shrivenham churchyard there is an ancient 
full-sized effigy, and two village urchins were recently 
seen amusing themselves by sliding the whole length of 
the figure. This must be a common practice of the boys 
of the village, as the effigy is worn almost to an inclined 
plane. A tradition exists that the figure represents a man 
who was building the tower and fell and was killed. Both 
tower and effigy are of the same period — Early English — 
and it is quite possible that the figure may be that of the 
founder of the tower, but its head-dress seems to show 
that it represents a lady. Whipping-posts and stocks are 
too light a punishment for such vandalism. 

The story of our vanished and vanishing churches, 
and of their vanished and vanishing contents, is indeed 
a sorry one. Many efforts are made in these days to 
educate the public taste, to instil into the minds of their 
custodians a due appreciation of their beauties and of the 
principles of English art and architecture, and to save 
and protect the treasures that remain. That these may be 
crowned with success is the earnest hope and endeavour of 
every right-minded Englishman. 




Reversed Rose carved on "Miserere" in 

Norwich Cathedral 



CHAPTER VII 
OLD MANSIONS 

ONE of the most deplorable features of vanishing 
England is the gradual disappearance of its grand 
old manor-houses and mansions. A vast num- 
ber still remain, we are thankful to say. We have still 
left to us Haddon and Wilton, Broughton, Penshurst, 
Hardwick, Welbeck, Bramshill, Longleat, and a host of 
others ; but every year sees a diminution in their number. 
The great enemy they have to contend with is fire, and 
modern conveniences and luxuries, electric lighting and 
the heating apparatus, have added considerably to their 
danger. The old floors and beams are unaccustomed to 
these insidious wires that have a habit of fusing ; hence 
we often read in the newspapers: "Disastrous Fire — 
Historic Mansion Entirely Destroyed." Too often 
not only is the house destroyed, but most of its valuable 
contents is devoured by the flames. Priceless pictures by 
Lely and Vandyck, miniatures of Cosway, old furniture 
of Chippendale and Sheraton, and the countless trea- 
sures which generations of cultured folk with ample 
wealth have accumulated, deeds, documents and old 
papers that throw valuable light on the manners and 
customs of our forefathers and on the history of the 
country, all disappear and can never be replaced. A 
great writer has likened an old house to a human heart 
with a life of its own, full of sad and sweet reminiscences. 
It is deplorably sad when the old mansion disappears 
in a night, and to find in the morning nothing but 
blackened walls — a grim ruin. 

Our forefathers were a hardy race, and did not require 

1 66 



OLD MANSIONS 167 

hot-water pipes and furnaces to keep them warm. More- 
over, they built their houses so surely and so well that 
they scarcely needed these modern appliances. They 
constructed them with a great square courtyard, so that 
the rooms on the inside of the quadrangle were protected 




Oak Panelling. Wainscot of Fifteenth Century, with addition 
circa late Seventeenth Century, fitted on to it in angle of 
room in the Church House, Goudhurst, Kent 



from the winds. They sang truly in those days, as in 
these : — 

Sin^ heigh ho for the wind and the rain, 
For the rain it raineth every day. 

So they sheltered themselves from the wind and rain by 
having a courtyard or by making an E or H shaped 
plan for their dwelling-place. Moreover, they made their 
walls very thick in order that the winds should not blow 
or the rain beat through them. Their rooms, too, were 
panelled or hung with tapestry — famous things for 
making a room warm and cosy. We have plaster 
walls covered with an elegant wall-paper which has 



1 68 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



always a cold surface, hence the air in the room, heated 
by the fire, is chilled when it comes into contact with the 
cold wall and creates draughts. But oak panelling or 
woollen tapestry soon becomes warm, and gives back 
its heat to the room, making it delightfully comfortable 
and cosy. 

One foolish thing our forefathers did, and that was to 
allow the great beams that help to support the upper 
floor to go through the chimney. How many houses 
have been burnt down owing to that fatal beam ! But 
our ancestors were content with a dog-grate and wood 





Section of* Mouldings of Cornice on Panelling-, 
the Church House, Goudhurst 



fires ; they could not foresee the advent of the modern 
range and the great coal fires, or perhaps they would 
have been more careful about that beam. 

Fire is, perhaps, the chief cause of the vanishing of old 
houses, but it is not the only cause. The craze for new 
fashions at the beginning of the last century doomed to 
death many a noble mansion. There seems to have been 
a positive mania for pulling down houses at that period. 
As I go over in my mind the existing great houses in this 
county, I find that by far the greater number of the old 
houses were wantonly destroyed about the years 1800-20, 
and new ones in the Italian or some other incongruous 
style erected in their place. Sometimes, as at Little 
Wittenham, you find the lone lorn terraces of the 
gardens of the house, but all else has disappeared. As 
Mr. Allan Fea says : " When an old landmark disappears, 










*" * i 



170 VANISHING ENGLAND 

who does not feel a pang of regret at parting with some- 
thing which linked us with the past? Seldom an old 
house is threatened with demolition but there is some 
protest, more perhaps from the old associations than from 
any particular architectural merit the building may have." 
We have many pangs of regret when we see such wanton 
destruction. The old house at Weston, where the 
Throckmortons resided when the poet Cowper lived at 
the lodge, and when leaving wrote on a window- 
shutter — 

Farewell, dear scenes, for ever closed to me ; 
Oh ! for what sorrows must I now exchange ye ! 

may be instanced as an example of a demolished mansion. 
Nothing is now left of it but the entrance-gates and a part 
of the stables. It was pulled down in 1827. It is 
described as a fine mansion, possessing secret chambers 
which were occupied by Roman Catholic priests when it 
was penal to say Mass. One of these chambers was found 
to contain, when the house was pulled down, a rough bed, 
candlestick, remains of food, and a breviary. A Roman 
Catholic school and presbytery now occupy its site. It is 
a melancholy sight to see the "Wilderness" behind the 
house, still adorned with busts and urns, and the graves 
of favourite dogs, which still bear the epitaphs written by 
Cowper on Sir John Throckmorton's pointer and Lady 
Throckmorton's pet spaniel. "Capability Brown" laid 
his rude, rough hand upon the grounds, but you can still 
see the " prosed alcove " mentioned by Cowper, a wooden 
summer-house, much injured 

By rural carvers, who with knives deface 
The panels, leaving - an obscure rude name. 

Sometimes, alas ! the old house has to vanish entirely 
through old age. It cannot maintain its struggle any 
longer. The rain pours through the roof and down the 
insides of the walls. ' And the family is as decayed as 
their mansion, and has no money wherewith to defray the 
cost of reparation. 



OLD MANSIONS 171 

Our artist, Mr. Fred Roe, in his search for the pictur- 
esque, had one sad and deplorable experience, which he 
shall describe in his own words : — 

"One of the most weird and, I may add, chilling ex- 
periences in connection with the decline of county families 
which it was my lot to experience, occurred a year or two 
ago in a remote corner of the eastern counties. I had 
received, through a friend, an invitation to visit an old 
mansion before the inmates (descendants of the owners in 
Elizabethan times) left and the contents were dispersed. 
On a comfortless January morning, while rain and sleet 
descended in torrents to the accompaniment of a biting 
wind, I detrained at a small out-of-the-way station in 
folk. A weather-beaten old man in a patched great- 
coat, with the oldest and shaggiest of ponies and the 
smallest of governess-traps, awaited my arrival. I, having 
wedged myself with the Jehu into this miniature vehicle, 
was driven through some miles of muddy ruts, until turn- 
ing through a belt of wooded land the broken outlines of 
an extensive dilapidated building broke into view. This 
was Hall. 

"I never in my life saw anything so weirdly picturesque 
and suggestive of the phrase ' In Chancery' as this semi- 
ruinous mansion. Of many dates and styles of architec- 
ture, from Henry VIII to George III, the whole seemed 
to breathe an atmosphere of neglect and decay. The 
waves of affluence and successive rise of various members 
of the family could be distinctly traced in the enlarge- 
ments and excrescences which contributed to the casual 
plan and irregular contour of the building. At one part 
an addition seemed to denote that the owner had acquired 
wealth about the time of the first James, and promptly 
directed it to the enlargement of his residence. In another 
a huge hall with classic brick frontage, dating from the 
commencement of the eighteenth century, spoke of an 
increase of affluence — probably due to agricultural pros- 
perity — followed by the dignity of a peerage. The latest 
alterations appear to have been made during the 
Strawberry Hill epoch, when most of the mullioned 
windows had been transformed to suit the prevailing 
taste. Some of the building — a little <»f it seemed 
habitable, but in the greater part the gables were 
tottering, the stucco frontage peeling and falling, and 
the windows broken and shuttered. In front of this 



i 7 2 VANISHING ENGLAND 

wreck of a building stretched the overgrown remains 
of what once had been a terrace, bounded by large 
stone globes, now moss-grown and half hidden under 
long grass. It was the very picture of desolation and 
proud poverty. 

"We drove up to what had once been the entrance to 
the servants' hall, for the principal doorway had long 
been disused, and descending from the trap I was con- 
ducted to a small panelled apartment, where some freshly 
cut logs did their best to give out a certain amount of 
heat. Of the hospitality meted out to me that day I can 
only hint with mournful appreciation. I was made 
welcome with all the resources which the family had 
available. But the place was a veritable vault, and cold 
and clamp as such. I think that this state of things had 
been endured so long and with such haughty silence by 
the inmates that it had passed into a sort of normal con- 
dition with them, and remained unnoticed except by new- 
comers. A few old domestics stuck by the family in its 
fallen fortunes, and of these one who had entered into 
their service some quarter of a century previous waited 
upon us at lunch with dignified ceremony. After lunch 
a tour of the house commenced. Into this I shall not 
enter into in detail ; many of the rooms were so bare that 
little could be said of them, but the Great Hall, an apart- 
ment modelled somewhat on the lines of the more palatial 
Rainham, needs the pen of the author of Lammermoor 
to describe. It was a very large and lofty room in the 
pseudo-classic style, with a fine cornice, and hung round 
with family portraits so bleached with damp and neglect 
that they presented but dim and ghostly presentments of 
their originals. I do not think a fire could have been lit 
in this ghostly gallery for many years, and some of the 
portraits literally sagged in their frames with accumula- 
tions of rubbish which had dropped behind the canvases. 
Many of the pictures were of no value except for their 
associations, but I saw at least one Lely, a family group, 
the principal figure in which was a young lady display- 
ing too little modesty and too much bosom. Another 
may have been a Vandyk, while one or two were early 
works representing gallants of Elizabeth's time in ruffs 
and feathered caps. The rest were for the most part but 
wooden ancestors displaying curled wigs, legs which 
lacked drawing, and high-heeled shoes. A few old 
cabinets remained, and a glorious suite of chairs of 



OLD MANSIONS 173 

Queen Anne's time — these, however, were perishing, like 
the rest — from want of proper care and firing. 

" The kitchens, a vast range of stone-flagged apart- 
ments, spoke of mighty hospitality in bygone times, 
containing fire-places fit to roast oxen at whole, huge 
spits and countless hooks, the last exhibiting but one 
dependent — the skin of the rabbit shot for lunch. The 
atmosphere was, if possible, a trifle more penetrating 
than that of the Great Hall, and the walls were discoloured 
with damp. 

" Upstairs, besides the bedrooms, was a little chapel 
with some remains of Gothic carving, and a few interest- 
ing pictures of the fifteenth century ; a cunningly con- 
trived priest-hole, and a long gallery lined with dusty 
books, whither my lord used to repair on rainy days. 
Many of the windows were darkened by creepers, and 
over one was a flap of half-detached plaster work which 
hung like a shroud. But, oh, the stained glass ! The 
eighteenth-century renovators had at least respected 
these, and quarterings and coats of arms from the 
fifteenth century downwards were to be seen by scores. 
What an opportunity for the genealogist with a history 
in view, but that opportunity I fear has passed for ever. 

The Hall estate was evidently mortgaged up to the 

hilt, and nothing intervened to prevent the dispersal of 
these treasures, which occurred some few months after 
my visit. Large though the building was, I learned that 
its size was once far greater, some two-thirds of the old 
building having been pulled down when the hall was 
constituted in its present form. Hard by on an adjoin- 
ing estate a millionaire manufacturer (who owned several 
motor-cars) had set up an establishment, but I gathered 
that his tastes were the reverse of antiquarian, and that 
no effort would be made to restore the old hall to its 
former glories and preserve such treasures as yet re- 
mained intact — a golden opportunity to many people of 
taste with leanings towards a country life. But time fled, 
and the ragged retainer was once more at the door, so I 

left Hall in a blinding storm of rain, and took my 

last look at its gaunt facade, carrying with me the seeds 
of a cold which prevented me from visiting the Eastern 
Counties for some time to come." 

Some historic houses of rare beauty have only just 
escaped destruction. Such an one is the ancestral house 



174 VANISHING ENGLAND 

of the Comptons, Compton Wynyates, a vision of colour 
and architectural beauty — 

A Tudor-chimneyed bulk 

Of mellow brickwork un an isle of bowers. 

Owing to his extravagance and the enormous expenses 
of a contested election in 1768, Spencer, the eighth Earl 
of Northampton, was reduced to cutting down the timber 
on the estate, selling his furniture at Castle Ashby and 
Compton, and spending the rest of his life in Switzerland. 
He actually ordered Compton Wynyates to be pulled 
down, as he could not afford to repair it ; happily the 
faithful steward of the estate, John Berrill, did not obey 
the order. He did his best to keep out the weather and 
to preserve the house, asserting that he was sure the 
family would return there some day. Most of the 
windows were bricked up in order to save the window- 
tax, and the glorious old building within whose walls 
kings and queens had been entertained remained bare 
and desolate for many years, excepting a small portion 
used as a farm-house. All honour to the old man's 
memory, the faithful servant, who thus saved his master's 
noble house from destruction, the pride of the Midlands. 
Its latest historian, Miss Alice Dryden, 1 thus describes 
its appearance : — 

"On approaching the building by the high road, the 
entrance front now bursts into view across a wide stretch 
of lawn, where formerly it was shielded by buildings 
forming an outer court. It is indeed a most glorious pile 
of exquisite colouring, built of small red bricks widely 
separated by mortar, with occasional chequers of blue 
bricks ; the mouldings and facings of yellow local stone, 
the woodwork of the two gables carved and black with 
age, the stone slates covered with lichens and mellowed 
by the hand of time ; the whole building has an in- 
describable charm. The architecture, too, is all irregular ; 
towers here and there, gables of different heights, any 
straight line embattled, few windows placed exactly over 
others, and the whole fitly surmounted by the elaborate 

1 Memorials of Old Warwickshire, edited by Miss Alice Dryden., 



OLD MANSIONS 175 

brick chimneys of different designs, some fluted, others 
zigzagged, others spiral, or combined spiral and fluted." 

An illustration is given of one of these chimneys which 
form such an attractive feature of the house. 

It is unnecessary to record the history of Compton 
Wynyates. The present owner, the Marquis of North- 
ampton, has written an admirable mono- 
graph on the annals of the house of his 
ancestors. Its builder was Sir William 
Compton, 1 who by his valour in arms 
and his courtly ways gained the favour 
of Henry VIII, and was promoted to 
high honour at the Court. Dugdale 
states that in 1520 he obtained licence 
to impark two thousand acres at Over- 
compton and Nethercompton, alias 
Compton Vyneyats, where he built a 
"fair mannour house," and where he 
was visited by the King, "for over 
the gateway are the arms of France and 
England, under a crown, supported by 
the greyhound and griffin, and sided 
by the rose and the crown, probably in Jo r ^ fEJj p^ 
memory of Henry VIII's visit here." 2 W&\ 
The Comptons ever basked in the smiles 
of royalty. Henry Compton, created i 
baron, was the favourite of Queen 
Elizabeth, and his son William sue- Chimney at Compton 

Wynyutcs 

ceeded in marrying the daughter of Sir 
John Spencer, richest of City merchants. All the world 
knows of his ingenious craft in carrying off the lady in 
a baker's basket, of his wife's disinheritance by the irate 
father, and of the subsequent reconciliation through the 

1 The present Marquis of Northampton in his book contends that the 
house was mainly built in the reign of Hem)' VII by Edmund Compton, 
Sir William's lather, and Ilia) Sir William only enlarged and added to the 
house. We have not space to record the arguments in favour of or against 
this view. 

2 The Progresses of James I, by Nichols. 





176 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



intervention of Queen Elizabeth at the baptism of the 
son of this marriage. The Comptons fought bravely for 
the King in the Civil War. Their house was captured by 
the enemy, and besieged by James Compton, Earl of 
Northampton, and the story of the fighting about the 
house abounds in interest, but cannot be related here. 
The building was much battered by the siege and by 
Cromwell's soldiers, who plundered the house, killed the 
deer in the park, defaced the monuments in the church, 
and wrought much mischief. Since the eighteenth- 
century disaster to the family it has been restored, and 




Window-catch, Brockhall, Northants 

remains to this day one of the most charming homes in 
England. 

"The greatest advantages men have by riches are to 
give, to build, to plant, and make pleasant scenes." So 
wrote Sir William Temple, diplomatist, philosopher, and 
true garden-lover. And many of the gentlemen of Eng- 
land seem to have been of the same mind, if we may 
judge from the number of delightful old country-houses 
set amid pleasant scenes that time and war and fire have 
spared to us. Macaulay draws a very unflattering picture 
of the old country squire, as of the parson. His untruths 
concerning the latter I have endeavoured to expose in 
another place. 1 The manor-houses themselves declare 

1 Old-time Parson, by P. H. Ditchfield, 1908. 



OLD MANSIONS 



177 



the historian's strictures to be unfounded. Is it possible 
that men so ignorant and crude could have built for 
themselves residences bearing evidence of such good 
taste, so full of grace and charm, and surrounded by such 
rare blendings of art and nature as are displayed so often 
in park and garden? And it is not, as a rule, in the 
greatest mansions, the vast piles erected by the great 
nobles of the Court, that we find such artistic qualities, 
but most often in the smaller 
manor-houses of knights and 
squires. Certainly many higher- 
cultured people of Macaulay's time 
and our own could learn a great 
deal from them of the art of 
making beautiful homes. 

Holinshed, the Chronicler, 
writing during the third quarter 
of the sixteenth century, makes 
some illuminating observations on 
the increasing preference shown 
in his time for stone and brick 
buildings in place of timber and 
plaster. He wrote : — 




Gothic Chimney, Norton 
St. Philip, Somerset 



"Theancientmanersand houses 
of our gentlemen are yet for the 
most part of strong timber. How 
beit such as be lately buylded are commonly either of bricke 
or harde stone, their rowmes large and stately, and houses 
of office farder distant fro their lodgings. Those of the 
nobilitie are likewise wrought with bricke and harde stone, 
as provision may best be made ; but so magnificent and 
stately, as the basest house of a barren doth often match 
with some honours of princes in olde tyme : so that if 
ever curious buylding did flourishe in Englande it is in 
these our dayes, wherein our worckemen excel and are in 
maner comparable in skill with old Vitruvius and Serle." 

He also adds the curious information that "there are 
olde men yet dwelling in the village where I remayn, 
which have noted three things to be marveylously altered 



178 VANISHING ENGLAND 

in Englande within their sound remembrance. One is, 
the multitude of chimnies lately erected, whereas, in their 
young dayes there were not above two or three, if so 
many, in most uplandish townes of the realme (the reli- 
gious houses and mannour places of their lordes alwayes 
excepted, and peradventure some great personages [par- 
sonages] ), but each one made his fire against a reredosse 
in the halle, where he dined and dressed his meate." 
This want of chimneys is noticeable in many pictures of, 
and previous to, the time of Henry VIII. A timber farm- 
house yet remains (or did until recently) near Folkestone, 
which shows no vestige of either chimney or hearth. 

Most of our great houses and manor-houses sprang up 
in the great Elizabethan building epoch, when the untold 
wealth of the monasteries which fell into the hands of the 
courtiers and favourites of the King, the plunder of gold- 
laden Spanish galleons, and the unprecedented prosperity 
in trade gave such an impulse to the erection of fine 
houses that the England of that period has been described 
as "one great stonemason's yard." The great noblemen 
and gentlemen of the Court were filled with the desire for 
extravagant display, and built such clumsy piles as Wolla- 
ton and Burghley House, importing French and German 
artisans to load them with bastard Italian Renaissance 
detail. Some of these vast structures are not very admir- 
able with their distorted gables, their chaotic proportions, 
and their crazy imitations of classic orders. But the typi- 
cal Elizabethan mansion, whose builder's means or good 
taste would not permit of such a profusion of these archi- 
tectural luxuries, is unequalled in its combination of state- 
liness with homeliness, in its expression of the manner of 
life of the class for which it was built. And in the humbler 
manors and farm-houses the latter idea is even more per- 
fectly expressed, for houses were affected by the new 
fashions in architecture generally in proportion to their 
size. 

Holinshed tells of the increased use of stone or brick 
in his age in the district wherein he lived. In other parts 




3C. 

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The Moat, Crowhurst Place, Surrey 



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180 VANISHING ENGLAND 

of England, where the forests supplied good timber, the 
builders stuck to their half-timbered houses and brought 
the "black and white" style to perfection. Plaster was 
extensively used in this and subsequent ages, and often 
the whole surface of the house was covered with rough- 
cast, such as the quaint old house called Broughton Hall, 
near Market Drayton. Avebury Manor, Wiltshire, is an 
attractive example of the plastered house. The irregular 
roof-line, the gables, and the white-barred windows, and 
the contrast of the white walls with the rich green of the 
vines and surrounding trees combine to make a picture of 
rare beauty. Part of the house is built of stone and part 
half-timber, but a coat of thin plaster covers the stone- 
work and makes it conform with the rest. To plaster over 
stone-work is a somewhat daring act, and is not archi- 
tecturally correct, but the appearance of the house is 
altogether pleasing. 

The Elizabethan and Jacobean builder increased the 
height of his house, sometimes causing it to have three 
storeys, besides rooms in attics beneath the gabled roof. 
He also loved windows. "Light, more light," was his 
continued cry. Hence there is often an excess of win- 
dows, and Lord Bacon complained that there was no 
comfortable place to be found in these houses, "in sum- 
mer by reason of the heat, or in winter by reason of the 
cold." It was a sore burden to many a house-owner when 
Charles II imposed the iniquitous window-tax, and so 
heavily did this fall upon the owners of some Elizabethan 
houses that the poorer ones were driven to the necessity 
of walling up some of the windows which their ancestors 
had provided with such prodigality. You will often see 
to this day bricked-up windows in many an old farm- 
house. Not every one was so cunning as the parish 
clerk of Bradford-on-Avon, Orpin, who took out the 
window-frames from his interesting little house near the 
church and inserted numerous small single-paned win- 
dows which escaped the tax. 

Surrey and Kent afford an unlimited field for the study 



OLD MANSIONS 181 

of the better sort of houses, mansions, and manor-houses. 
We have already alluded to Hever Castle and its 
memories of Anne Boleyn. Then there is the historic 
Penshurst, the home of the Sidneys, haunted by the 
shades of Sir Philip, " Sacharissa," the ill-fated Algernon, 
and his handsome brother. You see their portraits on 
the walls, the fine gallery, and the hall, which reveals the 
exact condition of an ancient noble's hall in former 
days. 

Not far away are the manors of Crittenden, Puttenden, 




Arms of the Gaynesfords in window, Crowhurst Place, Surrey 

and Crowhurst. This last is one of the most picturesque 
in Surrey, with its moat, across which there is a fine view 
of the house, its half-timber work, the straight uprights 
placed close together signifying early work, and the 
striking character of the interior. The Gaynesford family 
became lords of the manor of Crowhurst in 1337, and 
continued to hold it until 1700, a very long record. In 
1903 the Place was purchased by the Rev. — Gaynesford, 
of Hitchin, a descendant of the family of the former 
owners. This is a [rare instance of the repossession of a 
medieval residence by an ancient family after the lapse of 
two hundred years. It was built in the fifteenth century, 
and is a complete specimen of its age and style, having 



i8 2 VANISHING ENGLAND 

been unspoilt by later alterations and additions. The 
part nearer the moat is, however, a little later than the 
gables further back. The dining-room is the contracted 
remains of the great hall of Crowhurst Place, the upper 
part of which was converted into a series of bedrooms in 
the eighteenth century. We give an illustration of a very 
fine hinge to a cupboard door in one of the bedrooms, a 
good example of the blacksmith's skill. It is noticeable 
that the points of the linen-fold in the panelling of the 

door are undercut and project 
sharply. We see the open framed 
floor with moulded beams. Later 
on the fashion changed, and the 
builders preferred to have square- 
shaped beams. We notice the fine 
■c=^^ % ^) °ld panelling, the elaborate mould- 
^^jN^^^jv^ i n g s > an d the fixed bench running 
along one end of the chamber, of 
which we give an illustration. The 
design and workmanship of this 
fixture show it to belong to the 
period of Henry VI IL All the 

Cupboard Hinge, WOfk . q{ dmb save 

Crowhurst Place, Surrey ' 

the fire-place. The smith's art is 
shown in the fine candelabrum and in the knocker or 
ring-plate, perforated with Gothic design, still backed with 
its original morocco leather. It is worthy of a sanctuary, 
and doubtless many generations of Crowhurst squires 
have found a very dear sanctuary in this grand old 
English home. This ring-plate is in one of the original 
bedrooms. Immense labour was often bestowed upon the 
mouldings of beams in these fifteenth-century houses. 
There was a very fine moulded beam in a farm-house in 
my own parish, but a recent restoration has, alas ! 
covered it. We give some illustrations of the cornice 
mouldings of the Church House, Goudhurst, Kent, and 
of a fine Gothic door-head. 

It is impossible for us to traverse many shires in our 




OLD MANSIONS 



183 



search for old houses. But a word must be said for the 
priceless contents of many of our historic mansions and 
manors. These often vanish and are lost for ever. I 
have alluded to the thirst of American millionaires for 
these valuables, which causes so many of our treasures to 
cross the Atlantic and find their home in the palaces of 
Boston and Washington and elsewhere. Perhaps if our 
valuables must leave their old resting-places and go out 



t It I 




1 



Fixed Bench in the Hall, Crowhurst Place, Surrey 



T\c^ 



of the country, we should prefer them to go to America 
than to any other land. Our American cousins are our 
kindred ; they know how to appreciate the treasures of 
the land that, in spite of many changes, is to them their 
mother-country. No nation in the world prizes a high 
lineage and a family tree more than the Americans, and 
it is my privilege to receive many inquiries from 
across the Atlantic for missing links in the family pedi- 
gree, and the joy that a successful search yields compen- 
sates for all one's trouble. So if our treasures must go 
we should rather send them to America than to Germany. 



184 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



It is, however, distressing to see pictures taken from the 
place where they have hung for centuries and sent to 
Christie's, to see the dispersal of old libraries at Sother- 
by's, and the contents of a house, amassed by generations 
of cultured and wealthy folk, scattered to the four winds 
and bought up by the nouveaux riches. 

There still remain in many old houses collections of 
armour that bears the dints of many fights. Swords, 
helmets, shields, lances, and other weapons of warfare 
often are seen hanging on the walls of an ancestral hall. 
The buff coats of Cromwell's soldiers, tilting-helmets, 
guns and pistols of many periods are all there, together 
with man-traps— the cruel invention of a barbarous age. 




Gothic Door-head, Goudhurst, Kent 

The historic hall of Littlecote bears on its walls many 
suits worn during the Civil War by the Parliamentary 
troopers, and in countless other halls you can see speci- 
mens of armour. In churches also much armour has 
been stored. It was the custom to suspend over the tomb 
the principal arms of the departed warrior, which had 
previously been carried in the funeral procession. Shake- 
speare alludes to this custom when, in Hamlet, he makes 
Laertes say : — 

His means of death, his obscure burial — 

No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones, 

No noble rite, nor formal ostentation. 

You can see the armour of the Black Prince over his 
tomb at Canterbury, and at Westminster the shield of 
Henry V that probably did its duty at Agincourt. Several 
of our churches still retain the arms of the heroes who lie 
buried beneath them, but occasionally it is not the actual 



OLD MANSIONS 



i85 



armour but sham, counterfeit helmets and breastplates 
made for the funeral procession and hung over the 
monument. Much of this armour has been removed from 
churches and stored in museums. Norwich Museum has 
some good specimens, of which we give some illustra- 
tions. There is a knight's basinet which belongs to the 
time of Henry V (circa 141 5). We can compare this with 
the salads, which came into use shortly after this period, 





Knightly Basinel (temp. Henry V) 
in Norwich Castle 



Hilt of Thirteenth-century Sword 
in Norwich Museum 



an example of which may be seen at the Porte d'Hal, 
Brussels. We also show a thirteenth-century sword, 
which was dredged up at Thorpe, and believed to have 
been lost in 1277, when King Edward I made a military 
progress through Suffolk and Norfolk, and kept his 
Easter at Norwich. The blade is scimitar-shaped, is one- 
edged, and has a groove at the back. We may compare 
this with the sword of the time of Edward IV now in the 
possession of Mr. Seymour Lucas. The development of 
riding-boots is an interesting study. We show a drawing 
of one in the possession of Mr. Ernest Crofts, R.A., 
which was in use in the time of William III. 

An illustration is given of a chapel-de-fer which re- 



1 86 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



poses in the noble hall of Ockwells, Berkshire, much 
dented by use. It has evidently seen service. In the same 
hall is collected by the friends of the author, Sir Edward 
and Lady Barry, a vast store of armour and most interest- 
ing examples of ancient furniture worthy of the beautiful 
building in which they are placed. Ockwells Manor 
House is goodly to look upon, a perfect example of 
fifteenth-century residence with its noble hall and min- 





" Hand-and-a-half" Sword. 
Mr. Seymour Lucas, R.A. 



Seventeenth-century Boot, 

in the possession of Ernest 

Crofts, Esq., R.A. 



strels' gallery, its solar, kitchens, corridors, and gardens. 
Moreover, it is now owned by those who love and respect 
antiquity and its architectural beauties, and is in every 
respect an old English mansion well preserved and 
tenderly cared for. Yet at one time it was almost doomed 
to destruction. Not many years ago it was the property 
of a man who knew nothing of its importance. He 
threatened to pull it down or to turn the old house into 
a tannery. Our Berks Archaeological Society endea- 
voured to raise money for its purchase in order to pre- 
serve it. This action helped the owner to realise that the 



OLD MANSIONS 



187 



house was of some commercial value. Its destruction 
was stayed, and then, happily, it was purchased by the 
present owners, who have done so much to restore its 
original beauties. 

Ockwells was built by Sir John Norreys about the year 

1466. The chapel was not completed at his death in 

1467, and he left money in his will "to the full bilding 
and making uppe of the Chapell with the Chambres 
a J°y n g with'n my manoir of Okholt in the p'rish of Bray 
aforsaid not yet finisshed XL li." This chapel was burnt 
down in 1778. One of the most important features of the 




Chapel de Fer at Ockwells, Berks 

hall is the heraldic glass, commemorating eighteen 
worthies, which is of the same date as the house. The 
credit of identifying these worthies is due to Mr. Everard 
Green, Rouge Dragon, who in 1899 communicated the 
result of his researches to Viscount Dillon, President of 
the Society of Antiquaries. There are eighteen shields 
of arms. Two are royal and ensigned with royal crowns. 
Two are ensigned with mitres and fourteen with mantled 
helms, and of these fourteen, thirteen support a crest. 
Each achievement is placed in a separate light on an 
ornamental background composed of quarries and alter- 
nate diagonal stripes of white glass bordered with gold, 
on which the motto 

ffc jjtlj - f ull n - acrtte 

is inscribed in black-letter. This motto is assigned by 



1 88 VANISHING ENGLAND 

some to the family of Norreys and by others as that of 
the Royal Wardrobe. The quarries in each light have 
the same badge, namely, three golden distaffs, one in 
pale and two in saltire, banded with a golden and tasselled 
ribbon, which badge some again assign to the family of 
Norreys and others to the Royal Wardrobe. If, how- 
ever, the Norreys arms are correctly set forth in a com- 
partment of a door-head remaining in the north wall, and 
also in one of the windows — namely, argent a chevron 
between three ravens' heads erased sable, with a beaver 
for a dexter supporter — the second conjecture is doubtless 
correct. 

These shields represent the arms of Sir John Norreys, 
the builder of Ockwells Manor House, and of his sove- 
reign, patrons, and kinsfolk. It is a liber amicorum 
in glass, a not unpleasant way for light to come to us, as 
Mr. Everard Green pleasantly remarks. By means of 
heraldry Sir John Norreys recorded his friendships, 
thereby adding to the pleasures of memory as well as to 
the splendour of his great hall. His eye saw the shield, 
his memory supplied the story, and to him the lines of 
George Eliot, 

O memories, 
O Past that is, 

were made possible by heraldry. 

The names of his friends and patrons so recorded in 
glass by their arms are : Sir Henry Beauchamp, sixth 
Earl of Warwick ; Sir Edmund Beaufort, k.g. ; Margaret 
of Anjou, Queen of Henry VI, "the dauntless queen of 
tears, who headed councils, led armies, and ruled. both 
king and people " ; Sir John de la Pole, k.g. ; Henry VI ; 
Sir James Butler ; the Abbey of Abingdon ; Richard 
Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury from 1450 to 1481 ; Sir 
John Norreys himself; Sir John Wenlock, of Wenlock, 
Shropshire ; Sir William Lacon, of Stow, Kent, buried 
at Bray ; the arms and crest of a member of the Mortimer 
family ; Sir Richard Nanfan, of Birtsmorton Court, 
Worcestershire ; Sir John Norreys with his arms quar- 



OLD MANSIONS 189 

tered with those of Alice Merbury, of Yattendon, his first 
wife ; Sir John Langford, who married Sir John Norreys's 
granddaughter ; a member of the De la Beche family (?) ; 
John Purye, of Thatcham, Bray, and Cookham ; Richard 
Bulstrode, of Upton, Buckinghamshire, Keeper of the 
Great Wardrobe to Queen Margaret of Anjou, and after- 
wards Comptroller of the Household to Edward IV. 
These are the worthies whose arms are recorded in the 
windows of Ockwells. Nash gave a drawing of the house 
in his Mansions of England in the Olden Time, showing 
the interior of the hall, the porch and corridor, and the 
east front ; and from the hospitable door is issuing a 
crowd of gaily dressed people in Elizabethan costume, 
such as was doubtless often witnessed in days of yore. 
It is a happy and fortunate event that this noble house 
should in its old age have found such a loving master 
and mistress, in whose family we hope it may remain for 
many long years. 

Another grand old house has just been saved by the 
National Trust and the bounty of an anonymous benefac- 
tor. This is Barrington Court, and is one of the finest 
houses in Somerset. It is situated a few miles east of 
Ilminster, in the hundred of South Petherton. Its exact 
age is uncertain, but it seems probable that it was built 
by Henry, Lord Daubeney, created Earl of Bridgewater 
in 1539, whose ancestors had owned the place since early 
Plantagenet times. At any rate, it appears to date from 
about the middle of the sixteenth century, and it is a very 
perfect example of the domestic architecture of that period. 
From the Daubeneys it passed successively to the Duke; 
of Suffolk, the Crown, the Cliftons, the Phelips's, the 
Strodes ; and one of this last family entertained the Duke 
of Monmouth there during his tour in the west in 1680. 
The house, which is E-shaped, with central porch and 
wings at each end, is built of the beautiful Ham 1 1 ill 
stone which abounds in the district ; the colour of this 
stone greatly enhances the appearance of the house and 
adds to its venerable aspect. It has little ornamental 



i 9 o VANISHING ENGLAND 

detail, but what there is is very good, while the loftiness 
and general proportions of the building — its extent and 
solidity of masonry, and the taste and care with which 
every part has been designed and carried out, give it an 
air of dignity and importance. 

"The angle buttresses to the wings and the porch 
rising to twisted terminals are a feature surviving from 
mediaeval times, which disappeared entirely in the build- 
ings of Stuart times. These twisted terminals with 
cupola-like tops are also upon the gables, and with the 
chimneys, also twisted, give a most pleasing and attrac- 
tive character to the structure. We may go far, indeed, 
before we find another house of stone so lightly and 
gracefully adorned, and the detail of the mullioned 
windows with their arched heads, in every light, and 
their water-tables above, is admirable. The porch also 
has a fine Tudor arch, which might form the entrance to 
some college quadrangle, and there are rooms above and 
gables on either hand. The whole structure breathes the 
spirit of the Tudor age, before the classic spirit had exer- 
cised any marked influence upon our national architecture, 
while the details of the carving are almost as rich as is the 
moulded and sculptured work in the brick houses of East 
Anglia. The features in other parts of the exterior are 
all equally good, and we may certainly say of Barrington 
Court that it occupies a most notable place in the domestic 
architecture of England. It is also worthy of remark 
that such houses as this are far rarer than those of 
Jacobean times." 1 

But Barrington Court has fallen on evil days ; one half 
of the house only is now habitable, the rest having been 
completely gutted about eighty years ago. The great hall is 
used as a cider store, the wainscoting has been ruthlessly 
removed, and there have even been recent suggestions ol 
moving the whole structure across England and re-erect- 
ing it in a strange county. It has several times changed 
hands in recent years, and under these circumstances it is 
not surprising that but little has been done to ensure the 
preservation of what is indeed an architectural gem. But 
the walls are in excellent condition and the roofs fairly 

1 Country Life, September 17th, 1904. 



OLD MANSIONS 



191 



sound. The National Trust, like an angel of mercy, has 
spread its protecting wings over the building ; friends 
have been found to succour the Court in its old age ; and 
there is every reason to hope that its evil days are past, 
and that it may remain standing for many generations. 

The wealth of treasure to be found in many country 
houses is indeed enormous. In Holinshed's Chronicle of 
Englande, Scotlande and Irelande, published in 1577, 



wmmmmm mmmnmmmmaumuKmmmm 




Tudor Dresser Table, in the possession of Sir Alfred Dryden, 
Canon's Ashby, Northants 

there is a chapter on the "maner of buyldingand furniture 
of our Houses," wherein is recorded the costliness of the 
stores of plate and tapestry that were found in the dwell- 
ings of nobility and gentry and also in farm-houses, and 
even in the homes of "inferior artificers." Verily the 
spoils of the monasteries and churches must have been 
fairly evenly divided. These are his words : — 

"The furniture of our houses also exceedeth, and is 
growne in maner even to passing delicacie ; and herein I 
do not speake of the nobilitie and gentrie onely, but even 



192 VANISHING ENGLAND 

of the lowest sorte that have anything to take to. Certes 
in noble men's houses it is not rare to see abundance of 
array, riche hangings of tapestry, silver vessell, and so 
much other plate as may furnish sundrie cupbordes to 
the summe ofte times of a thousand or two thousand 
pounde at the leaste ; wherby the value of this and the 
reast of their stuffe doth grow to be inestimable. Like- 
wise in the houses of knightes, gentlemen, marchauntmen, 
and other wealthie citizens, it is not geson to beholde 
generallye their great provision of tapestrie Turkye 
worke, pewter, brasse, fine linen, and thereto costly cup- 
bords of plate woorth five or six hundred pounde, to be 
demed by estimation. But as herein all these sortes doe 
farre exceede their elders and predecessours, so in tyme 
past the costly furniture stayed there, whereas now it 
is descended yet lower, even unto the inferior artificiers 
and most fermers 1 who have learned to garnish also their 
cupbordes with plate, their beddes with tapestrie and silk 
hanginges, and their table with fine naperie whereby the 
wealth of our countrie doth infinitely appeare. . . ." 

Much of this wealth has, of course, been scattered. 
Time, poverty, war, the rise and fall of families, have 
caused the dispersion of these treasures. Sometimes you 
find valuable old prints or china in obscure and unlikely 
places. A friend of the writer, overtaken by a storm, 
sought shelter in a lone Welsh cottage. She admired 
and bought a rather curious jug. It turned out to be 
a somewhat rare and valuable ware, and a sketch of it 
has since been reproduced in the Connoisseur. I have 
myself discovered three Bartolozzi engravings in cottages 
in this parish. We give an illustration of a seventeenth- 
century powder-horn which was found at Glastonbury by 
Charles Griffin in 1833 in the wall of an old house which 
formerly stood where the Wilts and Dorset Bank is now 
erected. Mr. Griffin's account of its discovery is as 
follows : — 



< i 



When I was a boy about fifteen years of age I took a 
ladder up into the attic to see if there was anything hid in 
some holes that were just under the roof. . . . Pushing my 
hand in the wall ... I pulled out this carved horn, 

1 Farmers. 



OLD MANSIONS 



i93 



which then had a metal rim and cover — of silver, I think. 
A man gave me a shilling for it, and he sold it to Mr. 
Porch." 

It is stated that a coronet was engraved or stamped on 
the silver rim which has now disappeared. 

Monmouth's harassed army occupied Glastonbury on 










o <U 



Seventeenth-century Powder-horn., found in the wall of an old house at 

Glastonbury. Now in Glastonbury Museum 

the night of June 22, 1685, and it is extremely probable 
that the powder-horn was deposited in its hiding-place 
by some wavering follower who had decided to abandon 
the Duke's cause. There is another relic of Monmouth's 
rebellion, now in the Taunton Museum, a spy-glass, with 
the aid of which Mr. Sparke, from the tower of Chedzoy, 
discovered the King's troops marching down Sedgemoor 



i 9 4 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



on the day previous to the fight, and gave information 
thereof to the Duke, who was quartered at Bridgwater. 
It was preserved by the family for more than a century, 
and given by Miss Mary Sparke, the great-grand- 
daughter of the above William Sparke, in 1822 to a 
Mr. Stradling, who placed it in the museum. The spy- 
glass, which is of very primitive construction, is in four 
sections or tubes of bone covered with parchment. 
Relics of war and fighting are often stored in country 
houses. Thus at Swallowfield Park, the residence of 
Lady Russell, was found, when an old tree was grubbed 
up, some gold and silver coins of the reign of Charles I. 











Seventeenth-century Spy-glass in Taunton Museum 

It is probable that a Cavalier, when hard pressed, threw 
his purse into a hollow tree, intending, if he escaped, to 
return and rescue it. This, for some reason, he was 
unable to do, and his money remained in the tree until 
old age necessitated its removal. The late Sir George 
Russell, Bart., caused a box to be made of the wood 
of the tree, and in it he placed the coins, so that they 
should not be separated after their connexion of two 
centuries and a half. 

We give an illustration of a remarkable flagon of bell- 
metal for holding spiced wine, found in an old manor- 
house in Norfolk. It is of English make, and was manu- 
factured about the year 1350. It is embossed with the 
old Royal Arms of England crowned and repeated 
several times, and has an inscription in Gothic letters : — 

(God is grate ^c in tljis plarc. 

bitten. 
^>tan£> uttir 1 from tl;e fter 
Aito let onjust' 2 rome ncrc. 

1 Stand away. 2 One just. 




Fourteenth-century \- lagon 
Fro in an old Manor House in .Norfolk 



*%«4 "Rj 



0<U 



1 96 VANISHING ENGLAND 

This interesting flagon was bought from the Robinson 
Collection in 1879 by the nation, and is now in the 
Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Many old houses, happily, contain their stores of 
ancient furniture. Elizabethan bedsteads wherein, of 
course, the Virgin Queen reposed (she made so many 
royal progresses that it is no wonder she slept in so 
many places), expanding tables, Jacobean chairs and 
sideboards, and later on the beautiful productions of 
Chippendale, Sheraton, and Hipplethwaite. Some of 
the family chests are elaborate works of art. We give 
as an illustration a fine example of an Elizabethan chest. 
It is made of oak, inlaid with holly, dating from the last 
quarter of the sixteenth century. Its length is 5 ft. 2 in., 
its height 2 ft. n in. It is in the possession of Sir 
Coleridge Grove, k.c.b., of the manor-house, War- 
borough, in Oxfordshire. The staircases are often 
elaborately carved, which form a striking feature of many 
old houses. The old Aldermaston Court was burnt down, 
but fortunately the huge figures on the staircase were 
saved and appear again in the new Court, the residence 
of a distinguished antiquary, Mr. Charles Keyser, f.s.a. 
Hartwell House, in Buckinghamshire, once the resi- 
dence of the exiled French Court of Louis XVIII during 
the Revolution and the period of the ascendancy of 
Napoleon 1, has some curiously carved oaken figures 
adorning the staircase, representing Hercules, the Furies, 
and various knights in armour. We give an illustration 
of the staircase newel in Cromwell House, Highgate, 
with its quaint little figure of a man standing on a lofty 
pedestal. 

Sometimes one comes across strange curiosities in old 
houses, the odds and ends which Time has accumulated. 
On p. 201 is a representation of a water-clock or clep- 
sydra which was made at Norwich by an ingenious 
person named Parson in 1610. It is constructed on the 
same principle as the timepieces used by the Greeks and 
Romans. The brass tube was filled with water, which 



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i 9 8 VANISHING ENGLAND 

was allowed to run out slowly at the bottom. A cork 
floated at the top of the water in the tube, and as it 
descended the hour was indicated by the pointer on the 
dial above. This ingenious clock has now found its way 
into the museum in Norwich Castle. The interesting 
contents of old houses would require a volume for their 
complete enumeration. 

In looking at these ancient buildings, which time has 
spared us, we seem to catch a glimpse of the Lamp of 
Memory which shines forth in the illuminated pages 
of Ruskin. The men, our forefathers, who built these 
houses, built them to last, and not for their own genera- 
tion. It would have grieved them to think that their 
earthly abode, which had seen and seemed almost to 
sympathize in all their honour, their gladness or their 
suffering— that this, with all the record it bare of them, 
and of all material things that' they had loved and ruled 
over, and set the stamp of themselves upon — was to be 
swept away as soon as there was room made for them in 
the grave. They valued and prized the house that they 
had reared, or added to, or improved. Hence they loved 
to carve their names or their initials on the lintels of 
their doors or on the walls of their houses with the date. 
On the stone houses of the Cotswolds, in Derbyshire, 
Lancashire, Cumberland, wherever good building stone 
abounds, you can see these inscriptions, initials usually 
those of husband and wife, which preserved the memorial 
of their names as long as the house remained in the 
family. Alas ! too often the memorial conveys no mean- 
ing, and no one knows the names they represent. But 
it was a worthy feeling that prompted this building for 
futurity. There is a mystery about the inscription re- 
corded in the illustration " T.D. 1678." It was discovered, 
together with a sword {temp. Charles II), between the 
ceiline: and the floor when an old farm-house called 
Gundry's, at Stoke-under-Ham, was pulled down. The 
year was one of great political disturbance, being that 
in which the so-called "Popish Plot" was exploited by 




Staircase Newel 
Cromwell House, Highgate 



200 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



Titus Oates. Possibly "T.D." was fearful of being 
implicated, concealed this inscription, and effected his 
escape. 

Our forefathers must have been animated by the spirit 
which caused Mr. Ruskin to write: "When we build, 
let us think that we build for ever. Let it not be for 
present delight, nor for present use alone ; let it be such 
work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us 
think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come 
when those stones will be held sacred because our hands 
have touched them, and that men will say as they look 




i 

. t -- ; 3r:. 



Piece of Wood Carved with Inscription 
Found with a sword {temp. Charles II) in an old house at Stoke- 
under- Ham, Somerset 



upon the labour and wrought substance of them, ' See ! 
his our fathers did for us.' " 

Contrast these old houses with the modern suburban 
abominations, " those thin tottering foundationless shells 
of splintered wood and imitated stone," "those gloomy 
rows of formalised minuteness, alike without difference 
and without fellowship, as solitary as similar," as Ruskin 
calls them. These modern erections have no more rela- 
tion to their surroundings than would a Pullman-car or at 
newly painted piece of machinery. Age cannot improve 
the appearance of such things. But age only mellows 
and improves our ancient houses. Solidly built of good 
materials, the golden stain of time only adds to their 
beauties. The vines have clothed their walls and the 
green lawns about them have grown smoother and 
thicker, and the passing of the centuries has served but 
to tone them down and bring them into closer harmony 





Wal'tir • Clock 

or 

Pavior] . T|eriui'c^ , !vj.T).Cx . 
IKIi uiri ou . 3 w«X cr clotj, -, s 

5 CcUa- w«i CiU«A 



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K «I li. 



'» ■ 'Kc hour wcs 




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Seventeenth-century Water-clock, in Norwich Museum 



202 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



with nature. With their garden walls and hedges they 
almost seem to have grown in their places as did the 
great trees that stand near by. They have nothing of 
the uneasy look of the parvenu about them. They have 
an air of dignified repose ; the spirit of ancient peace 
seems to rest upon them and their beautiful sur- 
roundings. 



J 






111 



r-Xj 




Sun-dial 
The Manor House, Sutton Courtenay 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE DESTRUCTION OF PREHISTORIC 

REMAINS 

WE still find in various parts of the country traces 
of the prehistoric races who inhabited our 
island and left their footprints behind them, 
which startle us as much as ever the print of Friday's feet 
did the indomitable Robinson Crusoe. During the last 
fifty years we have been collecting the weapons and im- 
plements of early man, and have learnt that the history of 
Britain did not begin with the year B.C. 55, when Julius 
Caesar attempted his first conquest of our island. Our 
historical horizon has been pushed back very considerably, 
and every year adds new knowledge concerning the 
Palaeolithic and Neolithic races, and the first users of 
bronze and iron tools and weapons. We have learnt to 
prize what they have left, to recognize the immense 
archaeological value of these remains, and of their inestim- 
able prehistoric interest. It is therefore very deplorable 
to discover that so much has been destroyed, obliterated, 
and forgotten. 

We have still some left. Examples are still to be 
seen of megalithic structures, barrows, cromlechs, camps, 
earthen or walled castles, hut-circles, and other remains 
of the prehistoric inhabitants of these islands. We have 
many monoliths, called in Wales and Cornwall, as also 
in Brittany, menhirs, a name derived from the Celtic word 
maen or men, signifying a stone, and hir meaning tall. 
They are also called logan stones and " hoar " stones, hoar 
meaning a boundary, inasmuch as they were frequently 

203 



20 4 VANISHING ENGLAND 

used in later times to mark the boundary of an estate, 
parish, or manor. A vast number have been torn down 
and used as gateposts or for building purposes, and a 
recent observer in the West Country states that he has 
looked in vain for several where he knew that not long ago 
they existed. If in the Land's End district you climb the 
ascent of Bolleit, the Place of Blood, where Athelstan 
fought and slew the Britons, you can see "the Pipers," 
two great menhirs, twelve and sixteen feet high, and the 
Holed Stone, which is really an ancient cross, but you 
will be told that the cruel Druids used to tie their human 
victims for sacrifice to this stone, and you would shudder 
at the memory if you did not know that the Druids were 
very philosophical folk, and never did such dreadful 
deeds. 

Another kind of megalithic monument are the stone 
circles, only they are circles no longer, many stones 
having been carted away to mend walls. If you look at 
the ordnance map of Penzance you will find large 
numbers of these circles, but if you visit the spots where 
they are supposed to be, you will find that many have 
vanished. The " Merry Maidens," not far from the 
"Pipers," still remain— nineteen great stones, which 
fairy-lore perhaps supposes to have been once fair 
maidens who danced to the tune the pipers played ere 
a Celtic Medusa gazed at them and turned them into 
stone. Every one knows the story of the Rollright 
stones, a similar stone circle in Oxfordshire, which were 
once upon a time a king and his army, and were con- 
verted into stone by a witch who cast a fatal spell upon 
them by the words — 

Move no more ; stand fast, stone ; 
King- of England thou shalt none. 

The solitary stone is the ambitious monarch who was 
told by an oracle that if he could see Long Compton he 
would be king of England ; the circle is his army, and 
the five "Whispering Knights " are five of his chieftains, 



PREHISTORIC REMAINS 205 

who were hatching a plot against him when the magic 
spell was uttered. Local legends have sometimes helped 
to preserve these stones. The farmers around Rollright 
say that if these stones are removed from the spot they 
will never rest, but make mischief till they are restored. 
There is a well-known cromlech at Stanton Drew, in 
Somerset, and there are several in Scotland, the Channel 
Islands, and Brittany. Some sacrilegious persons trans- 
ported a cromlech from the Channel Islands, and set it 
up at Park Place, Henley-on-Thames. Such an act of 
antiquarian barbarism happily has few imitators. 

Stonehenge, with its well-wrought stones and gigantic 
trilitha, is one of the latest of the stone circles, and was 
doubtless made in the Iron Age, about two hundred years 
before the Christian era. Antiquarians have been very 
anxious about its safety. In 1900 one of the great upright 
stones fell, bringing down the cross-piece with it, and 
several learned societies have been invited by the owner, 
Sir Edmund Antrobus, to furnish recommendations as to 
the best means of preserving this unique memorial of an 
early race. We are glad to know that all that can be 
done will be done to keep Stonehenge safe for future 
generations. 

We need not record the existence of dolmens, or table- 
stones, the remains of burial mounds, which have been 
washed away by denudation, nor of what the French folk 
call altgnemenis, or lines of stones, which have suffered 
like other megalithic monuments. Barrows or tumuli are 
still plentiful, great mounds of earth raised to cover the 
prehistoric dead. But many have disappeared. Some 
have been worn down by ploughing, as on the Berkshire 
Downs. Others have been dug into for gravel. The 
making of golf-links has disturbed several, as at Sunning- 
dale, where several barrows were destroyed in order to 
make a good golf-course. Happily their contents were 
carefully guarded, and are preserved in the British 
Museum and in that of Reading. Earthworks and camps 
still guard the British ancient roads and trackways, and 



206 VANISHING ENGLAND 

you still admire their triple vallum and their cleverly 
protected entrance. Happily the Earthworks Committee 
of the Congress of Archaeological Societies watches over 
them, and strives to protect them from injury. Pit-dwell- 
ings and the so-called "ancient British villages" are in 
many instances sorely neglected, and are often buried 
beneath masses of destructive briers and ferns. We can 
still trace the course of several of the great tribal boun- 
daries of prehistoric times, the Grim's dykes that are seen 
in various parts of the country, gigantic earthworks that 
so surprised the Saxon invaders that they attributed them 
to the agency of the Devil or Grim. Here and there 
much has vanished, but stretches remain with a high bank 
twelve or fourteen feet high and a ditch ; the labour of 
making these earthen ramparts must have been immense 
in the days when the builders of them had only picks 
made out of stag's horns and such simple tools to work 
with. 

Along some of our hillsides are curious turf-cut monu- 
ments, which always attract our gaze and make us wonder 
who first cut out these figures on the face of the chalk 
hill. There is the great White Horse on the Berkshire 
Downs above Uffington, which we like to think was cut 
out by Alfred's men after his victory over the Danes on 
the Ashdown Hills. We are told, however, that that 
cannot be, and that it must have been made at least a 
thousand years before King Alfred's glorious reign. Some 
of these monuments are in danger of disappearing. They 
need scouring pretty constantly, as the weeds and grass 
will grow over the face of the bare chalk and tend to 
obliterate the figures. The Berkshire White Horse wanted 
grooming badly a short time ago, and the present writer 
was urged to approach the noble owner, the Earl of 
Craven, and urge the necessity of a scouring. The Earl, 
however, needed no reminder, and the White Horse is 
now thoroughly groomed, and looks as fit and active as 
ever. Other steeds on our hillsides have in modern 
times been so cut and altered in shape that their nearest 



PREHISTORIC REMAINS 207 

relations would not know them. Thus the White Horse 
at Westbury, in Wiltshire, is now a sturdy-looking little 
cob, quite up to date and altogether modern, very different 
from the old shape of the animal. 

The vanishing of prehistoric monuments is due to 
various causes. Avebury had at one time within a great 
rampart and a fosse, which is still forty feet deep, a large 
circle of rough unhewn stones, and within this two circles 
each containing a smaller concentric circle. Two avenues 
of stones led to the two entrances to the space surrounded 
by the fosse. It must have been a vast and imposing 
edifice, much more important than Stonehenge, and the 
area within this great circle exceeds twenty-eight acres, 
with a diameter of twelve hundred feet. But the spoilers 
have been at work, and "Farmer George" and other 
depredators have carted away so many of the stones, and 
done so much damage, that much imagination is needed 
to construct in the eye of the mind this wonder of the 
world. 

Every one who journeys from London to Oxford by 
the Great Western Railway knows the appearance of the 
famous Wittenham Clumps, a few miles from historic 
Wallingford. If you ascend the hill you will find it a 
paradise for antiquaries. The camp itself occupies a com- 
manding position overlooking the valley of the Thames, 
and has doubtless witnessed many tribal fights, and the 
great contest between the Celts and the Roman invaders. 
In the plain beneath is another remarkable earthwork. 
It was defended on three sides by the Thames, and a 
strong double rampart had been made across the cord of 
the bow formed by the river. There was also a trench 
which in case of danger could have been filled with water. 
But the spoiler has been at work here. In 1870 a farmer 
employed his men during a hard winter in digging down 
the west side of the rampart and flinging the earth into 
the fosse. The farmer intended to perform a charitable 
act, and charity is said to cover a multitude of sins; but 
his action was disastrous to antiquaries and has almost 



2o8 VANISHING ENGLAND 

destroyed a valuable prehistoric monument. There is a 
noted camp at Ashbury, erroneously called "Alfred's 
Castle," on an elevated part of Swinley Down, in Berk- 
shire, not far from Ashdown Park, the seat of the Earl of 
Craven. Lysons tells us that formerly there were traces 
of buildings here, and Aubrey says that in his time the 
earthworks were "almost quite defaced by digging for 
sarsden stones to build my Lord Craven's house in the 
park." Borough Hill Camp, in Boxford parish, near 
Newbury, has little left, so much of the earth having been 
removed at various times. Rabbits, too, are great destroy- 
ers, as they disturb the original surface of the ground and 
make it difficult for investigators to make out anything 
with certainty. 

Sometimes local tradition, which is wonderfully long- 
lived, helps the archasologist in his discoveries. An old 
man told an antiquary that a certain barrow in his parish 
was haunted by the ghost of a soldier who wore golden 
armour. The antiquary determined to investigate and 
dug into the barrow, and there found the body of a man 
with a gold or bronze breastplate. I am not sure whether 
the armour was gold or bronze. Now here is an amazing 
instance of folk-memory. The chieftain was buried 
probably in Anglo-Saxon times, or possibly earlier. 
During thirteen hundred years, at least, the memory of 
that burial has been handed down from father to son until 
the present day. It almost seems incredible. 

It seems something like sacrilege to disturb the resting- 
places of our prehistoric ancestors, and to dig into bar- 
rows and examine their contents. But much knowledge 
of the history and manners and customs of the early 
inhabitants of our island has been gained by these investi- 
gations. Year by year this knowledge grows owing to 
the patient labours of industrious antiquaries, and perhaps 
our predecessors would not mind very much the disturb- 
ing of their remains, if they reflected that we are getting 
to know them better by this means, and are almost on 
speaking terms with the makers of stone axes, celts and 



PREHISTORIC REMAINS 



209 



arrow-heads, and are great admirers of their skill and 
ingenuity. It is important that all these monuments o 
antiquity should be carefully preserved, that plans should 
be made of them, and systematic investigations under- 
taken by competent and skilled antiquaries. The old 
stone monuments and the later Celtic crosses should be 
rescued from serving such purposes as brook bridges, 
stone walls, stepping-stones, and gate-posts and reared 
again on their original sites. They are of national im- 
portance, and the nation should do this. 




Ml; 1 -,;! P 




Half-timber Cottages, Waterside, Evesham 



14 



CHAPTER IX 

CATHEDRAL CITIES AND ABBEY 

TOWNS 

THERE is always an air of quietude and restfulness 
about an ordinary cathedral city. Some of our 
cathedrals are set in busy places, in great centres 
of population, wherein the high towering minster looks 
down with a kind of pitying compassion upon the toiling 
folk and invites them to seek shelter and peace and the 
consolations of religion in her quiet courts. For ages 
she has watched over the city and seen generation after 
generation pass away. Kings and queens have come to 
lay their offerings on her altars, and have been borne 
there amid all the pomp of stately mourning to lie in the 
gorgeous tombs that grace her choir. She has seen it 
all — times of pillage and alarm, of robbery and spoliation, 
of change and disturbance, but she lives on, ever calling 
men with her quiet voice to look up in love and faith and 
prayer. 

But many of our cathedral cities are quite small places 
which owe their very life and existence to the stately 
church which pious hands have raised centuries ago. 
There age after age the prayer of faith, the anthems of 
praise, and the divine services have been offered. 

In the glow of a summer's evening its heavenly archi- 
tecture stands out, a mass of wondrous beauty, telling of 
the skill of the masons and craftsmen of olden days who 
put their hearts into their work and wrought so surely 
and so well. The greensward of the close, wherein the 
rooks caw and guard their nests, speaks of peace and joy 
that is not of earth. We walk through the fretted cloisters 

2IO 



CITIES AND ABBEY TOWNS 211 

that once echoed with the tread of sandalled monks and 
saw them illuminating and copying wonderful missals, 
antiphonaries, and other manuscripts which we prize so 
highly now. The deanery is close at hand, a venerable 
house of peace and learning ; and the canons' houses tell 
of centuries of devoted service to God's Church, wherein 
many a distinguished scholar, able preacher, and learned 
writer have lived and sent forth their burning message to 
the world, and now lie at peace in the quiet minster. 

The fabric of the cathedrals is often in danger of be- 
coming part and parcel of vanishing England. Every 
one has watched with anxiety the gallant efforts that have 
been made to save Winchester. The insecure foundations, 
based on timbers that had rotted, threatened to bring 
down that wondrous pile of masonry. And now Canter- 
bury is in danger. 

The Dean and Chapter of Canterbury having recently 
completed the reparation of the central tower of the 
cathedral, now find themselves confronted with responsi- 
bilities which require still heavier expenditure. It has 
recently been found that the upper parts of the two 
western towers are in a dangerous condition. All the 
pinnacles of these towers have had to be partially re- 
moved in order to avoid the risk of dangerous injury 
from falling stones, and a great part of the external work 
of the two towers is in a state of grievous decay. 

The Chapter were warned by the architect that they 
would incur an anxious responsibility if they did not at 
once adopt measures to obviate this danger. 

Further, the architect states that there are some fissures 
and shakes in the supporting piers of the central tower 
within the cathedral, and that some of the stonework 
shows signs of crushing. He further reports that there 
is urgent need of repair to the nave windows, the south 
transept roof, the Warriors' Chapel, and several other 
parts of the building. The nave pinnacles are reported 
by him to be in the last stage of decay, large portions 
falling frequently, or having to be removed. 



212 VANISHING ENGLAND 

In these modern days we run "tubes" and under- 
ground railways in close proximity to the foundations of 
historic buildings, and thereby endanger their safety. 
The grand cathedral of St. Paul, London, was threatened 
by a "tube," and only saved by vigorous protest from 
having its foundations jarred and shaken by rumbling 
trains in the bowels of the earth. Moreover, by sewers 
and drains the earth is made devoid of moisture, and 
therefore is liable to crack and crumble, and to disturb 
the foundations of ponderous buildings. St. Paul's still 
causes anxiety on this account, and requires all the care 
and vigilance of the skilful architect who guards it. 

The old Norman builders loved a central tower, which 
they built low and squat. Happily they built surely and 
well, firmly and solidly, as their successors loved to pile 
course upon course upon their Norman towers, to raise a 
massive superstructure, and often crown them with a 
lofty, graceful, but heavy spire. No wonder the early 
masonry has, at times, protested against this additional 
weight, and many mighty central towers and spires have 
fallen and brought ruin on the surrounding stonework. 
So it happened at Chichester and in several other noble 
churches. St. Alban's tower very nearly fell. There 
the ingenuity of destroyers and vandals at the Dissolution 
had dug a hole and removed the earth from under one of 
the piers, hoping that it would collapse. The old tower 
held on for three hundred years, and then the mighty 
mass began to give way, and Sir Gilbert Scott tells the 
story of its reparation in 1870, of the triumphs of tho 
skill of modern builders, and their bravery and resolution 
in saving the fall of that great tower. The greatest 
credit is due to all concerned in that hazardous and most 
difficult task. It had very nearly gone. The story of 
Peterborough, and of several others, shows that many of 
these vast fanes which have borne the storms and frosts 
of centuries are by no means too secure, and that the 
skill of wise architects and the wealth of the Englishmen 
of to-day are sorely needed to prevent them from vanish- 



CITIES AND ABBEY TOWNS 213 

ing. If they fell, new and modern work would scarcely 
compensate us for their loss. 

We will take Wells as a model of a cathedral city which 
entirely owes its origin to the noble church and palace 
built there in early times. The city is one of the most 
picturesque in England, situated in the most delightful 
country, and possessing the most perfect ecclesiastical 
buildings which can be conceived. Jocelyn de Wells, 
who lived at the beginning of the thirteenth century 
(1206-39), has for many years had the credit of building 
the main part of this beautiful house of God. It is hard 
to have one's beliefs and early traditions upset, but modern 
authorities, with much reason, tell us that we are all 
wrong, and that another Jocelyn — one Reginald Fitz-Joce- 
lyn ( 1 1 7 1 —9 1 ) — was the main builder of Wells Cathedral. 
Old documents recently discovered decide the question, 
and, moreover, the style of architecture is certainly 
earlier than the fully developed Early English of Jocelyn 
de Wells. The latter, and also Bishop Savaricus (1192- 
1205), carried out the work, but the whole design and 
a considerable part of the building are due to Bishop 
Reginald Fitz-Jocelyn. His successors, until the middle 
of the fifteenth century, went on perfecting the wondrous 
shrine, and in the time of Bishop Beckington Wells was 
in its full glory. The church, the outbuildings, the 
episcopal palace, the deanery, all combined to form a 
wonderful architectural triumph, a group of buildings 
which represented the highest achievement of English 
Gothic art. 

Since then many things have happened. The cathedral, 
like all other ecclesiastical buildings, has passed through 
three great periods of iconoclastic violence. It was shorn 
of some of its glory at the Reformation, when it was 
plundered of the treasures which the piety of many genera- 
tions had heaped together. Then the beautiful Lady 
Chapel in the cloisters was pulled down, and the infamous 
Duke of Somerset robbed it of its wealth and medi- 
tated further sacrilege. Amongst these desecrators and 



2i 4 VANISHING ENGLAND 

despoilers there was a mighty hunger for lead. " I would 
that they had found it scalding," exclaimed an old 
chaplain of Wells ; and to get hold of the lead that 
covered the roofs— a valuable commodity — Somerset and 
his kind did much mischief to many of our cathedrals and 
churches. An infamous archbishop of York, at this period, 
stripped his fine palace that stood on the north of York 
Minster, "for the sake of the lead that covered it," and 
shipped it off to London, where it was sold for £1000 ; 
but of this sum he was cheated by a noble duke, and 
therefore gained nothing by his infamy. During the 
Civil War it escaped fairly well, but some damage was 
done, the palace was despoiled; and at the Restoration 
of the Monarchy much repair was needed. Monmouth's 
rebels wrought havoc. They came to Wells in no amiable 
mood, defaced the statues on the west front, did much 
wanton mischief, and would have caroused about the 
altar had not Lord Grey stood before it with his sword 
drawn, and thus preserved it from the insults of the 
ruffians. Then came the evils of " restoration." A terri- 
ble renewing was begun in 1848, when the old stalls were 
destroyed and much damage done. Twenty years later 
better things were accomplished, save that the grandeur 
of the west front was belittled by a pipey restoration, 
when Irish limestone, with its harsh hue, was used to 
embellish it. 

A curiosity at Wells are the quarter jacks over the clock 
on the exterior north wall of the cathedral. Local tradi- 
tion has it that the clock with its accompanying figures 
was part of the spoil removed from Glastonbury Abbey. 
The ecclesiastical authorities at Wells assert in contradic- 
tion to this that the clock was the work of one Peter Light- 
foot, and was placed in the cathedral in the latter part of 
the fourteenth century. A minute is said to exist in the 
archives of repairs to the clock and figures in 1418. It is 
Mr. Roe's opinion that the defensive armour on the quarter 
jacks dates from the first half of the fifteenth century, the 
plain oviform breastplates and basinets, as well as the con- 




Quarter Jacks over the Clock on exterior of North Wall of Wells Cal 



ledral 



216 VANISHING ENGLAND 

tinuation of the tassets round the hips, being very charac- 
teristic features of this period. The halberds in the hands 
of the figures are evidently restorations of a later time. It 
may be mentioned that in 1907, when the quarter jacks were 
painted, it was discovered that though the figures them- 
selves were carved out of solid blocks of oak hard as iron, 
the arms were of elm bolted and braced thereon. Though 
such instances of combined materials are common enough 
among antiquities of medieval times, it may yet be sur- 
mised that the jar caused by incessant striking may in 
time have necessitated repairs to the upper limbs. The 
arms are immovable, as the figures turn on pivots to 
strike. 

An illustration is given of the palace at Wells, which 
is one of the finest examples of thirteenth-century houses 
existing in England. It was begun by Jocelyn. The 
great hall, now in ruins, was built by Bishop Burnell at 
the end of the thirteenth century, and was destroyed by 
Bishop Barlow in 1552. The chapel is Decorated. The 
gatehouse, with its drawbridge, moat, and fortifications, 
was constructed by Bishop Ralph, of Shrewsbury, who 
ruled from 1329 to 1363. The deanery was built by Dean 
Gunthorpe in 1475, who was chaplain to Edward IV. 
On the north is the beautiful vicar's close, which has 
forty-two houses, constructed mainly by Bishop Becking- 
ton (1443-64), with a common hall erected by Bishop 
Ralph in 1340 and a chapel by Budwith (1407-64), but 
altered a century later. You can see the old fireplace, 
the pulpit from which one of the brethren read aloud 
during meals, and an ancient painting representing 
Bishop Ralph making his grant to the kneeling figures, 
and some additional figures painted in the time of Queen 
Elizabeth. 

When we study the cathedrals of England and try to 
trace the causes which led to the destruction of so much 
that was beautiful, so much of English art that has 
vanished, we find that there were three great .eras of 
iconoclasm. First there were the changes wrought at 



2 i8 VANISHING ENGLAND 

the time of the Reformation, when a rapacious king and 
his greedy ministers set themselves to wring from the 
treasures of the Church as much gain and spoil as they 
were able. These men were guilty of the most daring 
acts of shameless sacrilege, the grossest robbery. With 
them nothing was sacred. Buildings consecrated to God, 
holy vessels used in His service, all the works of sacred 
art, the offerings of countless pious benefactors were 
deemed as mere profane things to be seized and polluted 
by their sacrilegious hands. The land was full of the 
most beautiful gems of architectural art, the monastic 
churches. We can tell something of their glories from 
those which were happily spared and converted into 
cathderals or parish churches. Ely, Peterborough the 
pride of the Fenlands, Chester, Gloucester, Bristol, West- 
minster, St. Albans, Beverley, and some others proclaim 
the grandeur of hundreds of other magnificent structures 
which have been shorn of their leaden roofs, used as 
quarries for building-stone, entirely removed and obliter- 
ated, or left as pitiable ruins which still look beautiful 
in their decay. Reading, Tintern, Glastonbury, Foun- 
tains, and a host of others all tell the same story of piti- 
less iconoclasm. And what became of the contents of 
these churches? The contents usually went with the 
fabric to the spoliators. The halls of country-houses 
were hung with altar-cloths ; tables and beds were quilted 
with copes ; knights and squires drank their claret out of 
chalices and watered their horses in marble coffins. From 
the accounts of the royal jewels it is evident that a great 
deal of Church plate was delivered to the king for his own 
use, besides which the sum of £30,360 derived from plate 
obtained by the spoilers was given to the proper hand of 
the king. 

The iconoclasts vented their rage in the destruction 
of stained glass and beautiful illuminated manuscripts, 
priceless tomes and costly treasures of exceeding rarity. 
Parish churches were plundered everywhere. Robbery 
was in the air, and clergy and churchwardens sold sacred 



CITIES AND ABBEY TOWNS 219 

vessels and appropriated the money for parochial purposes 
rather than they should be seized by the king. Com- 
missioners were sent to visit all the cathedral and parish 




House in which Bishop Hooper was imprisoned, 
Wcstgate Street, Gloucester 

churches and seize the superfluous ornaments for the 
king's use. Tithes, lands, farms, buildings belonging 
to the church all went the same way, until the hand of 
the iconoclast was stayed, as there was little left to steal 
or to be destroyed. The next era of iconoclastic zeal 



220 VANISHING ENGLAND 

was that of the Civil War and the Cromwellian period. 
At Rochester the soldiers profaned the cathedral by 
using it as a stable and a tippling place, while saw-pits 
were made in the sacred building and carpenters plied 
their trade. At Chichester the pikes of the Puritans and 
their wild savagery reduced the interior to a ruinous 
desolation. The usual scenes of mad iconoclasm were 
enacted — stained glass windows broken, altars thrown 
down, lead stripped from the roof, brasses and effigies 
defaced and broken. A creature named " Blue Dick" 
was the wild leader of this savage crew of spoliators who 
left little but the bare walls and a mass of broken frag- 
ments strewing the pavement. We need not record 
similar scenes which took place almost everywhere. 

The last and grievous rule of iconoclasm set in with the 
restorers, who worked their will upon the fabric of our 
cathedrals and churches and did so much to obliterate all 
the fragments of good architectural work which the Crom- 
wellian soldiers and the spoliators at the time of the 
Reformation had left. The memory of Wyatt and his 
imitators is not revered when we see the results of their 
work on our ecclesiastical fabrics, and we need not wonder 
that so much of English art has vanished. 

The cathedral of Bristol suffered from other causes. 
The darkest spot in the history of the city is the story of 
the Reform riots of 1831, sometimes called "the Bristol 
Revolution," when the dregs of the population pillaged 
and plundered, burnt the bishop's palace, and were guilty 
of the most atrocious vandalism. 

The city of Bath, once the rival of Wells — the contention 
between the monks of St. Peter and the canons of St. 
Andrews at Wells being hot and fierce — has many attrac- 
tions. Its minster, rebuilt by Bishop Oliver King of 
Wells (1495-1 503), and restored in the seventeenth century, 
and also in modern times, is not a very interesting building, 
though it lacks not some striking features, and certainly 
contains some fine tombs and monuments of the fashionable 
folk who flocked to Bath in the days of its splendour. The 




■ . ''..SferJJ 
! i , 'V 



\-..A "^ 



, : 



\ 



c«- 



Tlu- "Stone lliiusc," K\r, Sussex 



222 VANISHING ENGLAND 

city itself abounds in interest. It is a gem of Georgian 
art, with a complete homogeneous architectural character 
of its own which makes it singular and unique. It is full 
of memories of the great folks who thronged its streets, 
attended the Bath and Pump Room, and listened to 
sermons in the Octagon. It tells of the autocracy of Beau 
Nash, of Goldsmith, Sheridan, David Garrick, of the 
' ' First Gentleman of Europe, " and many others who made 
Bath famous. And now it is likely that this unique little 
city with its memories and its charming architectural 
features is to be mutilated for purely commercial reasons. 
Every one knows Bath Street with its colonnaded loggias 
on each side terminated with a crescent at each end, and 
leading to the Cross Bath in the centre of the eastern 
crescent. That the original founders of Bath Street re- 
garded it as an important architectural feature of the city 
is evident from the inscription in abbreviated Latin which 
was engraved on the first stone of the street when laid : — 

PRO 

VRBIS DIG : ET AMP : 

H/EC PON : cvrav : 

sc : 

DELEGATI 

a : i) : mdccxci. 

I I HORTON, PRAET : 
T : BALDWIN, ARCH1TECTO. 

which may be read to the effect that "for the dignity and 
enlargement (of the city) the delegates I. Horton, Mayor, 
and T. Baldwin, architect, laid this (stone) a. d. i 791." 

It is actually proposed by the new proprietors of the 
Grand Pump Hotel to entirely destroy the beauty of this 
street by removing the colonnaded loggia on one side of 
this street and constructing a new side to the hotel two or 
three storeys higher, and thus to change the whole char- 
acter of the street and practically destroy it. It is a sad 
pity, and we should have hoped that the city Council 
would have resisted very strongly the proposal that the 
proprietors of the hotel have made to their body. But we 



CITIES AND ABBEY TOWNS 223 

hear that the Council is lukewarm in its opposition to the 
scheme, and has indeed officially approved it. It is aston- 
ishing what city and borough councils will do, and this 
Bath Council has "the discredit of having, for purely 
commercial reasons, made the first move towards the 
destruction architecturally of the peculiar charm of their 
unique and beautiful city." 1 

Evesham is entirely a monastic town. It sprang up 
under the sheltering walls of the famous abbey — 

A pretty burgh and such as Fancy loves 
For bygone grandeurs. 

This abbey shared the fate of many others which we have 
mentioned. The Dean of Gloucester thus muses over the 
"Vanished Abbey" :— 

"The stranger who knows nothing of its story would 
surely smile if he were told that beneath the grass and 
daisies round him were hidden the vast foundation 
storeys of one of the mightiest of our proud mediaeval 
abbeys ; that on the spot where he was standing were 
once grouped a forest of tall columns bearing up lofty 
fretted roofs ; that all around once were altars all agleam 
with colour and with gold ; that besides the many altars 
were once grouped in that sacred spot chauntries and 
tombs, many of them marvels of grace and beauty, placed 
there in the memory of men great in the service of Church 
and State — of men whose names were household words in 
the England of our fathers ; that close to him were once 
stately cloisters, great monastic buildings, including re- 
fectories, dormitories, chapter-house, chapels, infirmary, 
granaries, kitchens— all the varied piles of buildings which 
used to make up the hive of a great monastery." 

It was commenced by Bishop Egwin, of Worcester, in 
702 A.D., but the era of its great prosperity set in after the 
battle of Evesham when Simon de Montford was slain, 
and his body buried in the monastic church. There 
was his shrine lo which was great pilgrimage, crowds 
flocking lo la)- their offerings there ; and riches poured 
into the treasury of the monks, who made great additions 

1 The Builder^ March 6, 1909. 



224 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



to their house, and reared noble buildings. Little is lef 
of its former grandeur. You can discover part of the 
piers of the great central tower, the cloister arch of 
Decorated work of great beauty erected in 1317, and the 

abbey fishponds. The bell 
tower is one of the glories 
of Evesham. It was built 
by the last abbot, Abbot 
Lichfield, and was not 
quite completed before the 
destruction of the great 
abbey church adjacent to 
it. It is a grand specimen 
of Perpendicular architec- 
ture. 

At the corner of the 
Market Place there is a 
picturesque old house with 
gable and carved barge- 
boards and timber-framed 
arch, and we see the old 
Norman gateway named 
Abbot Reginald's Gate- 
way, after the name of its 
builder, who also erected 
part of the wall enclosing 
the monastic buildings. 
A timber-framed structure 
now stretches across the 
arcade, but a recent resto- 




Fifteenth-century House, 
Market Place, Evesham 



ration has exposed the Norman columns which support the 
arch. The Church House, always an interesting building 
in old towns and villages, wherein church ales and semi- 
ecclesiastical functions took place, has been restored. 
Passing under the arch we see the two churches in one 
churchyard— All Saints and St. Laurence. The former 
has some Norman work at the inner door of the porch, 
but its main construction is Decorated and Perpendicular. 







'5 



226 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



Its most interesting feature is the Lichfield Chapel, erected 
by the last abbot, whose initials and the arms of the 
abbey appear on escutcheons on the roof. The fan- 
tracery roof is especially noticeable, and the good modern 
glass. The church of St. Laurence is entirely Perpen- 
dicular, and the chantry of Abbot Lichfield, with its fan- 
tracery vaulting, is a gem of English architecture. 




iF 3 



mm ;._ i 

Fifteenth-century House in Cowl Street, Evesham 



Amongst the remains of the abbey buildings may be 
seen the Almonry, the residence of the almoner, formerly 
used as a gaol. An interesting stone lantern of fifteenth- 
century work is preserved here. Another abbey gateway 
is near at hand, but little evidence remains of its former 
Gothic work. Part of the old wall built by Abbot 
William de Chyryton early in the fourteenth century 
remains. In the town there is a much-modernized town 
hall, and near it the old-fashioned Booth Hall, a half- 
timbered building, now used as shops and cottages, 
where formerly courts were held, including the court of 



228 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



pie-powder, the usual accompaniment of every fair. 
Bridge Street is one of the most attractive streets in 
the borough, with its quaint old house, and the famous 
inn, "The Crown." The old house in Cowl Street was 
formerly the White Hart Inn, which tells a curious 
Elizabethan story about "the Fool and the Ice," an 
incident supposed to be referred to by Shakespeare in 
Troilus and Cressida (Act iii. sc. 3): "The fool slides 
o'er the ice that you should break." The Queen Anne 



ZSizz. 




T\*«- 



Half-timber House at Alcester 



house in the High Street, with its wrought-iron railings 
and brackets, called Dresden House and Almswood, one 
of the oldest dwelling-houses in the town, are worthy of 
notice by the students of domestic architecture. 

There is much in the neighbourhood of Evesham which 
is worthy of note, many old-fashioned villages and 
country towns, manor-houses, churches, and inns which 
are refreshing to the eyes of those who have seen so much 
destruction, so much of the England that is vanishing. 
The old abbey tithe-barn at Littleton of the fourteenth 
century, Wickhamford Manor, the home of Penelope 
Washington, whose tomb is in the adjoining church, 



CITIES AND ABBEY TOWNS 229 

the picturesque village of Cropthorne, Winchcombe and 
its houses, Sudeley Castle, the timbered houses at Norton 
and Harvington, Broadway and Campden, abounding 
with beautiful houses, and the old town of Alcester, 
of which some views are given — all these contain many 
objects of antiquarian and artistic interest, and can easily 
be reached from Evesham. In that old town we have 
seen much to interest, and the historian will delight to 
fight over again the battle of Evesham and study the 
records of the siege of the town in the Civil War. 



CHAPTER X 

OLD INNS 

THE trend of popular legislation is in the direc- 
tion of the diminishing of the number of licensed 
premises and the destruction of inns. Very soon, 
we may suppose, the " Black Boy " and the " Red Lion " 
and hosts of other old signs will have vanished, and there 
will be a very large number of famous inns which have 
"retired from business." Already their number is con- 
siderable. In many towns through which in olden days 
the stage-coaches passed inns were almost as plentiful as 
blackberries ; they were needed then for the numerous 
passengers who journeyed along the great roads in the 
coaches ; they are not needed now when people rush past 
the places in express trains. Hence the order has gone 
forth that these superfluous houses shall cease to be 
licensed premises and must submit to the removal of their 
signs. Others have been so remodelled in order to pro- 
vide modern comforts and conveniences that scarce a 
trace of their old-fashioned appearance can be found. 
Modern temperance legislators imagine that if they can 
only reduce the number of inns they will reduce drunken- 
ness and make the English people a sober nation. This 
is not the place to discuss whether the destruction of 
inns tends to promote temperance. We may, perhaps, 
be permitted to doubt the truth of the legend, oft repeated 
on temperance platforms, of the working man, returning 
homewards from his toil, struggling past nineteen inns 
and succumbing to the syren charms of the twentieth. 
We may fear lest the gathering together of large numbers 
of men in a few public-houses may not increase rather 

230 



OLD INNS 231 

than diminish their thirst and the love of good fellowship 
which in some mysterious way is stimulated by the 
imbibing of many pots of beer. We may, perhaps, feel 
some misgiving with regard to the temperate habits of 
the people, if instead of well-conducted hostels, duly 
inspected by the police, the landlords of which are liable 
to prosecution for improper conduct, we see arising a 
host of ungoverned clubs, wherein no control is exercised 
over the manners of the members and adequate super- 
vision impossible. We cannot refuse to listen to the 
opinion of certain royal commissioners who, after much 
sifting of evidence, came to the conclusion that as far as 
the suppression of public-houses had gone, their diminu- 
tion had not lessened the convictions for drunkenness. 

But all this is beside our subject. We have only to 
record another feature of vanishing England, the gradual 
disappearance of many of its ancient and historic inns, 
and to describe some of the fortunate survivors. Many 
of them are very old, and cannot long contend against 
the fiery eloquence of the young temperance orator, the 
newly fledged justice of the peace, or the budding mem- 
ber of Parliament who tries to win votes by pulling 
things down. 

We have, however, still some of these old hostelries 
left ; medieval pilgrim inns redolent of the memories of 
the not very pious companies of men and women who 
wended their way to visit the shrines of St. Thomas of 
Canterbury or Our Lady at Walsingham ; historic inns 
wherein some of the great events in the annals of 
England have occurred ; inns associated with old 
romances or frequented by notorious highwaymen, or 
that recall the adventures of Mr. Pickwick and other 
heroes and villains of Dickensian tales. It is well that 
we should try to depict some of these before they alto- 
gether vanish. 



:-> 



There was nothing vulgar or disgraceful about an inn 
a century ago. From Elizabethan times to the early part 
of the nineteenth century they were frequented by most 



i%i VANISHING ENGLAND 

of the leading spirits of each generation. Archbishop 
Leighton, who died in 1684, often used to say to Bishop 
Burnet that "if he were to choose a place to die in it 
should be an inn ; it looked like a pilgrim's going home, 
to whom this world was all as an Inn, and who was weary 
of the noise and confusion of it." His desire was ful- 
filled. He died at the old Bell Inn in Warwick Lane, 
London, an old galleried hostel which was not demolished 
until 1865. L i s sa id tnat Dr - Johnson, when reposing at 
the Shakespeare's Head Inn, between Worcester and 
Lichfield, exclaimed: "No, sir, there is nothing which has 
yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness 
is provided as by a good tavern or inn." This oft-quoted 
saying the learned Doctor really uttered at the Chapel 
House Inn, near King's Norton ; its glory has departed ; 
it is now a simple country-house by the roadside. 
Shakespeare, who doubtless had many opportunities of 
testing the comforts of the famous inns at Southwark, 
makes Falstaff say : " Shall I not take mine ease at mine 
inn?"; and Shenstone is reported to havewritten the rhymes 
on a window of the old Red Lion at Henley-on Thames: — ■ 

Whoe'er has travelled life's dull road, 
Where'er his stages may have been, 

May sigh to think he still has found 
The warmest welcome at an inn. 

Fynes Morrison tells of the comforts of English inns 
even as early as the beginning of the seventeenth cen- 
tury. In 1617 he wrote : — 

" The world affords not such inns as England hath, for 
as soon as a passenger comes the servants run to him ; 
one takes his horse and walks him till he be cold, then 
rubs him and gives him meat ; but let the master look to 
this point. Another gives the traveller his private cham- 
ber and kindles his fire, the third pulls off his boots and 
makes them clean ; then the host or hostess visits him— 
if he will eat with the host — or at a common table it will 
be 4d. and 6d. If a gentleman has his own chamber, 
his ways are consulted, and he has music, too, if he 
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234 VANISHING ENGLAND 

The literature of England abounds in references to 
these ancient inns. If Dr. Johnson, Addison, and Gold- 
smith were alive now, we should find them chatting 
together at the Authors' Club, or the Savage, or the 
Athenaeum. There were no literary clubs in their days, 
and the public parlours of the Cock Tavern or the 
"Cheshire Cheese" were their clubs, wherein they were 
quite as happy, if not quite so luxuriously housed, as if 
they had been members of a modern social institution. 
Who has not sung in praise of inns? Longfellow, in his 
Hyperion, makes Flemming say : " He who has not been 
at a tavern knows not what a paradise it is. O holy 
tavern ! O miraculous tavern ! Holy, because no carking 
cares are there, nor weariness, nor pain ; and miraculous, 
because of the spits which of themselves turned round 
and round." They appealed strongly to Washington 
Irving, who, when recording his visit to the shrine of 
Shakespeare, says : " To a homeless man, who has no 
spot on this wide world which he can truly call his own, 
there is a momentary feeling of something like independ- 
ence and territorial consequence, when after a weary 
day's travel he kicks off his boots, thrusts his feet into 
slippers, and stretches himself before an inn fire. Let 
the world without go as it may ; let kingdoms rise or fall, 
so long as he has the wherewithal to pay his bill, he is, 
for the time being, the very monarch of all he surveys. 
. . . 'Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?' thought 
I, as I gave the fire a stir, lolled back in my elbow chair, 
and cast a complacent look about the little parlour of the 
Red Horse at Stratford-on-Avon." 

And again, on Christmas Eve Irving tells of his joyous 
long day's ride in a coach, and how he at length arrived 
at a village where he had determined to stay the night. 
As he drove into the great gateway of the inn (some of 
them were mighty narrow and required much skill on the 
part of the Jehu) he saw on one side the light of a rousing 
kitchen fire beaming through a window. He "entered 
and admired, for the hundredth time, that picture of con- 




7<rP^ 



Entrance to the Reindeer Inn, Banbury 



236 VANISHING ENGLAND 

venience, neatness, and broad honest enjoyment — the 
kitchen of an English inn." It was of spacious dimen- 
sions, hung round with copper and tin vessels highly 
polished, and decorated here and there with Christmas 
green. Hams, tongues, and flitches of bacon were sus- 
pended from the ceiling ; a smoke-jack made its ceaseless 
clanking beside the fire-place, and a clock ticked in one 
corner. A well-scoured deal table extended along one 
side of the kitchen, with a cold round of beef and other 
hearty viands upon it, over which two foaming tankards of 
ale seemed mounting guard. Travellers of inferior order 
were preparing to attack this stout repast, while others 
sat smoking and gossiping over their ale on two high- 
backed oaken settles beside the fire. Trim housemaids 
were hurrying backwards and forwards under the direc- 
tions of a fresh bustling landlady ; but still seizing an 
occasional moment to exchange a flippant word, and have 
a rallying laugh with the group round the fire. 

Such is the cheering picture of an old-fashioned inn in 
days of yore. No wonder that the writers should have 
thus lauded these inns ! Imagine yourself on the box-seat 
of an old coach travelling somewhat slowly through the 
night. It is cold and wet, and your fingers are frozen, 
and the rain drives pitilessly in your face ; and then, 
when you are nearly dead with misery, the coach stops at 
a well-known inn. A smiling host and buxom hostess 
greets you ; blazing fires thaw you back to life, and 
good cheer awaits your appetite. No wonder people 
loved an inn and wished to take their ease therein after 
the dangers and hardships of the day. Lord Beaconsfield, 
in his novel Tancred, vividly describes the busy scene at 
a country hostelry in the busy coaching days. The host, 
who is always "smiling," conveys the pleasing intelli- 
gence to the passengers : " ' The coach stops here half an 
hour, gentlemen : dinner quite ready.' 'Tis a delightful 
sound. And what a dinner! What a profusion of 
substantial delicacies ! What mighty and iris-tinted 
rounds of beef ! What vast and marble-veined ribs ! 



OLD INNS 



2 37 



What gelatinous veal pies ! What colossal hams ! 
These are evidently prize cheeses ! And how invigorat- 
ing is the perfume of those various and variegated pickles. 
Then the bustle emulating the plenty ; the ringing of 
bells, the clash of thoroughfare, the summoning of 







ft '• 






The Shoulder of Mutton Inn, King's Lynn 



ubiquitous waiters, and the all-pervading feeling of 
omnipotence from the guests, who order what they please 
to the landlord, who can produce and execute everything 
they can desire. 'Tis a wondrous sight ! " 

And then how picturesque these old inns are, with their 
swinging signs, the pump and horse-trough before the 
door, a towering elm or poplar overshadowing the inn, 
and round it and on each side of the entrance are 



238 VANISHING ENGLAND 

seats, with rustics sitting on them. The old house has 
picturesque gables and a tiled roof mellowed by age, with 
moss and lichen growing on it, and the windows are 
latticed. A porch protects the door, and over it and up 
the walls are growing old-fashioned climbing rose trees. 
Morland loved to paint the exteriors of inns quite as much 
as he did to frequent their interiors, and has left us many 
a wondrous drawing of their beauties. The interior is no 
less picturesque, with its open ingle-nook, its high-backed 
settles, its brick floor, its pots and pans, its pewter and 
brass utensils. Our artist has drawn for us many beauti- 
ful examples of old inns, which we shall visit presently 
and try to learn something of their old-world charm. He 
has only just been in time to sketch them, as they are fast 
disappearing. It is astonishing how many noted inns in 
London and the suburbs have vanished during the last 
twenty or thirty years. 

Let us glance at a few of the great Southwark inns. 
The old 4 ' Tabard," from which Chaucer's pilgrims 
started on their memorable journey, was destroyed by 
a great fire in 1676, rebuilt in the old fashion, and con- 
tinued until 1875, when it had to make way for a modern 
"old Tabard" and some hop merchant's offices. This 
and many other inns had galleries running round the 
yard, or at one end of it, and this yard was a busy place, 
frequented not only by travellers in coach or saddle, but 
by poor players and mountebanks, who set up their stage 
for the entertainment of spectators who hung over the 
galleries or from their rooms watched the performance. 
The model of an inn-yard was the first germ of theatrical 
architecture. The " White Hart" in Southwark retained 
its galleries on the north and east side of its yard until 
1889, though a modern tavern replaced the south and 
main portion of the building in 1865-6. This was a noted 
inn, bearing as its sign a badge of Richard II, derived 
from his mother Joan of Kent. Jack Cade stayed there 
while he was trying to capture London, and another 
"immortal" flits across the stage, Master Sam Weller 



OLD INNS 239 

of Pickwick fame. A galleried inn still remains at South- 
wark, a great coaching and carriers' hostel, the "George." 
It is but a fragment of its former greatness, and the 
present building was erected soon after the fire in 1676, 
and still retains its picturesqueness. 

The glory has passed from most of these London inns. 
Formerly their yards resounded with the strains of the 
merry post-horn, and carriers' carts were as plentiful as 
omnibuses now are. In the fine yard of the "Saracen's 
Head," Aldgate, you can picture the busy scene, though 
the building has ceased to be an inn, and if you wished 
to travel to Norwich there you would have found your 
coach ready for you. The old " Bell Savage," which 
derives its name from one Savage who kept the " Bell on 
the Hoop," and not from any beautiful girl "La Belle 
Sauvage," was a great coaching centre, and so were the 
"Swan with two Necks," Lad Lane, the "Spread Eagle" 
and "Cross Keys" in Gracechurch Street, the "White 
Horse," Fetter Lane, and the "Angel," behind St. 
Clements. As we do not propose to linger long in 
London, and prefer the country towns and villages where 
relics of old English life survive, we will hie to one of 
these noted hostelries, book our seats on a Phantom 
coach, and haste away from the great city which has 
dealt so mercilessly with its ancient buildings. It is the 
last few years which have wrought the mischief. Many 
of these old inns lingered on till the 'eighties. Since 
then their destruction has been rapid, and the huge 
caravanserais, the "Cecil," the " Ritz," the "Savoy," 
and the " Metropole," have supplanted the old Saracen's 
Heads, the Bulls, the Bells, and the Boars that satisfied 
the needs of our forefathers in a less luxurious age. 

Let us travel first along the old York road, or rather 
select our route, going by way of Ware, Tottenham, 
Edmonton, and Waltham Cross, Hatfield and Stevenage, 
or through Barnet, until we arrive at the Wheat Sheaf 
Inn on Alconbury Hill, past Little Stukeley, where the 
two roads conjoin and "the milestones are numbered 



2 4 o VANISHING ENGLAND 

agreeably to that admeasurement," viz. to that from 
Hicks' Hall through Barnet, as Paterson's Roads plainly 
informs us. Along this road you will find several of the 
best specimens of old coaching inns in England. The 
famous " George " at Huntingdon, the picturesque " Fox 
and Hounds" at Ware, the grand old inns at Stilton and 
Grantham are some of the best inns on English roads, 
and pleadingly invite a pleasant pilgrimage. We might 
follow in the wake of Dick Turpin, if his ride to York 
were not a myth. The real incident on which the story 
was founded occurred about the year 1676, long before 
Turpin was born. One Nicks robbed a gentleman on 
Gadshill at four o'clock in the morning, crossed the river 
with his bay mare as soon as he could get a ferry-boat at 
Gravesend, and then by Braintree, Huntingdon, and other 
places reached York that evening, went to the Bowling 
Green, pointedly asked the mayor the time, proved an 
alibi, and so escaped. This account was published as a 
broadside about the time of Turpin's execution, but it 
makes no allusion to him whatever. It required the 
romance of the nineteenth century to change Nicks to 
Turpin and the bay mare to Black Bess. But revenir 
a nos moutonSy or rather our inns. The old " Fox and 
Hounds" at Ware is beautiful with its swinging sign 
suspended by graceful and elaborate ironwork and its 
dormer windows. The "George" at Huntingdon pre- 
serves its gallery in the inn-yard, its projecting upper 
storey, its outdoor settle, and much else that is attractive. 
Another "George" greets us at Stamford, an ancient 
hostelry, where Charles I stayed during the Civil War 
when he was journeying from Newark to Huntingdon. 

And then we come to Grantham, famous for its old inns. 
Foremost among them is the " Angel," which dates back 
to medieval times. It has a fine stone front with two 
projecting bays, an archway with welcoming doors 
on either hand, and above the arch is a beautiful little 
oriel window, and carved heads and gargoyles jut out 
from the stonework. I think that this charming front 






OLD INNS 241 

was remodelled in Tudor times, and judging from 
the interior plaster-work I am of opinion that the 
bays were added in the time of Henry VII, the Tudor 
rose forming part of the decoration. The arch and 
gateway with the oriel are the oldest parts of the front, 
and on each side of the arch is a sculptured head, one 
representing Edward III and the other his queen, 
Philippa of Hainault. The house belonged in ancient 
times to the Knights Templars, where royal and other 
distinguished travellers were entertained. King John is 
said to have held his court here in 12 13, and the old inn 
witnessed the passage of the body of Eleanor, the beloved 
queen of Edward I, as it was borne to its last resting- 
place at Westminster. One of the twelve Eleanor crosses 
stood at Grantham on St. Peter's Hill, but it shared the 
fate of many other crosses and was destroyed by the 
troopers of Cromwell during the Civil War. The first 
floor of the "Angel" was occupied by one long room, 
wherein royal courts were held. It is now divided into 
three separate rooms. In this room Richard III con- 
demned to execution the Duke of Buckingham, and prob- 
ably here stayed Cromwell in the early days of his military 
career and wrote his letter concerning the first action 
that made him famous. We can imagine the silent 
troopers assembling in the market-place late in the 
evening, and then marching out twelve companies 
strong to wage an unequal contest against a large body 
of Royalists. The Grantham folk had much to say when 
the troopers rode back with forty-live prisoners besides 
divers horses and arms and colours. The "Angel" 
must have seen all this and sighed for peace. Grim 
troopers paced its corridors, and its stables were full of 
tired horses. One owner of the inn at the becrinninsr 
of the eighteenth century, though he kept a hostel, liked 
not intemperance. His name was Michael Solomon, and 
he left an annual charge of 40s. to be paid to the vicar 
of the parish for preaching a sermon in the parish church 
against the sin of drunkenness. The interior of this 
16 



242 VANISHING ENGLAND 

ancient hostelry has been modernized and fitted with the 
comforts which we modern folk are accustomed to expect. 
Across the way is the "Angel's" rival the " George," 
possibly identical with the hospitium called "Le George " 
presented with other property by Edward IV to his 
mother, the Duchess of York. It lacks the appearance 
of age which clothes the " Angel " with dignity, and was 
rebuilt with red brick in the Georgian era. The coaches 
often called there, and Charles Dickens stayed the night 
and describes it as one of the best inns in England. He 
tells of Squeers conducting his new pupils through 
Grantham to Dotheboys Hall, and how after leaving the 
inn the luckless travellers "wrapped themselves more 
closely in their coats and cloaks . . . and prepared with 
many half-suppressed moans again to encounter the pierc- 
ing blasts which swept across the open country." At 
the "Saracen's Head" in Westgate Isaac Newton used 
to stay, and there are many other inns, the majority of 
which rejoice in signs that are blue. We see a Blue 
Horse, a Blue Dog, a Blue Ram, Blue Lion, Blue 
Cow, Blue Sheep, and many other cerulean animals and 
objects, which proclaim the political colour of the great 
landowner. Grantham boasts of a unique inn-sign. 
Originally known as the "Bee-hive," a little public-house 
in Castlegate has earned the designation of the "Living 
Sign," on account of the hive of bees fixed in a tree that 
guards its portals. Upon the swinging sign the following 
lines are inscribed : — 

Stop, traveller, this wondrous sign explore, 
And say when thou hast viewed it o'er and o'er, 
Grantham, now two rarities are thine — 
A lofty steeple and a " Living- Sign." 

The connexion of the "George" with Charles Dickens 
reminds one of the numerous inns immortalized by the 
great novelist both in and out of London. The "Golden 
Cross" at Charing Cross, the "Bull" at Rochester, the 
"Belle Sauvage " (now demolished) near Ludgate Hill, 
the "Angel" at Bury St. Edmunds, the "Great White 



OLD INNS 



243 



Horse " at Ipswich, the " King's Head " at Chigwell (the 
original of the "Maypole" in Barnaby Rudge), the 
4 'Leather Bottle" at Cobham are only a few of those 
which he by his writings made famous. 

Leaving Grantham and its inns, we push along the 
great North Road to Stilton, famous for its cheese, where 
a choice of inns awaits us — the " Bell " and the " Angel," 
that glare at each other across the broad thoroughfare. 
In the palmy days of coaching the " Angel " had stabling 




A Quaint Gable. The Bell Inn, Stilton 



for three hundred horses, and it was kept by Mistress 
Worthington, at whose door the famous cheeses were 
sold and hence called Stilton, though they were made 
in distant farmsteads and villages. It is quite a modern- 
looking inn as compared with the "Bell." You can see a 
date inscribed on one of the gables, 1649, but this can 
only mean that the inn was restored then, as the style of 
architecture of "this dream in stone" shows that it must 
date back to early Tudor times. It has a noble swinging 
sign supported by beautifully designed ornamental iron- 
work, gables, bay-windows, a Tudor archway, tiled roof, 
and a picturesque courtyard, the silence and dilapidation 



244 VANISHING ENGLAND 

of which are strangely contrasted with the continuous 
bustle, life, and animation which must have existed there 
before the era of railways. 

Not far away is Southwell, where there is the historic 
inn the "Saracen's Head." Here Charles I stayed, and 
you can see the very room where he lodged on the left of 
the entrance-gate. Here it was on May 5th, 1646, that 
he gave himself up to the Scotch Commissioners, who 
wrote to the Parliament from Southwell "that it made 
them feel like men in a dream." The "Martyr-King" 
entered this inn as a sovereign ; he left it a prisoner 
under the guard of his Lothian escort. Here he slept his 
last night of liberty, and as he passed under the archway 
of the " Saracen's Head" he started on that fatal journey 
that terminated on the scaffold at Whitehall. You can 
see on the front of the inn over the gateway a stone 
lozenge with the royal arms engraved on it with the date 
1693, commemorating this royal melancholy visit. In 
later times Lord Byron was a frequent visitor. 

On the high, wind-swept road between Ashbourne and 
Buxton there is an inn which can defy the attacks of the 
reformers. It is called the Newhaven Inn and was built 
by a Duke of Devonshire for the accommodation of 
visitors to Buxton. King George IV was so pleased with 
it that he gave the Duke a perpetual licence, with which 
no Brewster Sessions can interfere. Near Buxton is the 
second highest inn in England, the "Cat and Fiddle," 
and "The Traveller's Rest" at Flash Bar, on the Leek 
road, ranks as third, the highest being the Tan Hill Inn, 
near Brough, on the Yorkshire moors. 

Norwich is a city remarkable for its old buildings and 
famous inns. A very ancient inn is the " Maid's Head" 
at Norwich, a famous hostelry which can vie in interest 
with any in the kingdom. Do we not see there the 
identical room in which good Queen Bess is said to have 
reposed on the occasion of her visit to the city in 1578? 
You cannot imagine a more delightful old chamber, with 
its massive beams, its wide fifteenth-century fire-place, 












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246 VANISHING ENGLAND 

and its quaint lattice, through which the moonbeams 
play upon antique furniture and strange, fantastic carv- 
ings. This oak-panelled room recalls memories of the 
Orfords, Walpoles, Howards, Wodehouses, and other 
distinguished guests whose names live in England's 
annals. The old inn was once known as the Murtel 
or Molde Fish, and some have tried to connect the 
change of name with the visit of Queen Elizabeth ; 
unfortunately for the conjecture, the inn was known as 
the Maid's Head long before the days of Queen Bess. 
It was built on the site of an old bishop's palace, and in 
the cellars may be seen some traces of Norman masonry. 
One of the most fruitful sources of information about 
social life in the fifteenth century are the Paston Letters. 
In one written by John Paston in 1472 to " Mestresse 
Margret Paston," he tells her of the arrival of a visitor, 
and continues: "I praye yow make hym goode cheer 
... it were best to sette hys horse at the Maydes Hedde, 
and I shall be content for ther expenses." During the 
Civil War this inn was the rendezvous of the Royalists, 
but alas ! one day Cromwell's soldiers made an attack on 
the " Maid's Head," and took for their prize the horses 
of Dame Paston stabled here. 

We must pass over the records of civic feasts and 
aldermanic junketings, which would fill a volume, and 
seek out the old "Briton's Arms," in the same city, a 
thatched building of venerable appearance with its pro- 
jecting upper storeys and lofty gable. It looks as if it 
may not long survive the march of progress. 

The parish of Heigham, now part of the city of Nor- 
wich, is noted as having been the residence of Bishop 
Hall, "the English Seneca," and author of the Medita- 
tions, on his ejection from the bishopric in 1647 till his 
death in 1656. l The house in which he resided, now 

1 It is erroneously styled Bishop Hall's Palace. An episcopal palace is 
the official residence of the bishop in his cathedral city. Not even a 
country seat of a bishop is correctly called a palace, much less the resi- 
dence of a bishop when ejected from his see. 




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Tlic "Briton's Arms," Norwich 



248 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



known as the Dolphin Inn, still stands, and is an 
interesting building with its picturesque bays and mul- 
lioned windows and ingeniously devised porch. It has 
actually been proposed to pull down, or improve out of 
existence, this magnificent old house. Its front is a 
perfect specimen of flint and stone sixteenth-century 
architecture. Over the main door appears an episcopal 
coat of arms with the date 1587, while higher on the 
front appears the date of a restoration (in two bays) :■ — 



N/iO 



A°DNI 




Just inside the doorway is a fine Gothic stoup into which 
bucolic rustics now knock the fag-ends of their pipes. 
The staircase newel is a fine piece of Gothic carving 
with an embattled moulding, a poppy-head and heraldic 
lion. Pillared fire-places and other tokens of departed 
greatness testify to the former beauty of this old dwelling- 
place. 

We will now start back to town by the coach which 
leaves the "Maid's Head "(or did leave in 1762) at half-past 
eleven in the forenoon, and hope to arrive in London on 
the following day, and thence hasten southward to 
Canterbury. Along this Dover road are some of the 
best inns in England: the "Bull" at Dartford, with its 
galleried courtyard, once a pilgrims' hostel ; the " Bull " 
and " Victoria" at Rochester, reminiscent of Pick-wick ; the 
modern "Crown" that supplants a venerable inn where 
Henry VIII first beheld Anne of Cleves ; the "White 
Hart " ; and the " George," where pilgrims stayed ; and so 
on to Canterbury, a city of memories, which happily 
retains many features of old English life that have not 
altogether vanished. Its grand cathedral, its churches, 
St. Augustine's College, its quaint streets, like Butchery 
Lane, with their houses bending forward in a friendly 
manner to almost meet each other, as well as its old inns, 
like the " Falstaff " in High Street, near West Gate, stand- 






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250 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



ing on the site of a pilgrims' inn, with its sign showing 
the valiant and portly knight, and supported by elaborate 
ironwork, its tiled roof and picturesque front, all com- 
bine to make Canterbury as charming a place of modern 
pilgrimage as it was attractive to the pilgrims of another 
sort who frequented its inns in days of yore. 






Shield and Monogram on doorway 
of the Dolphin Inn, Heig-ham 



Staircase Newel at the 
Dolphin Inn 

From Old Oak Furniture, by Fred Roe 



And now we will discard the cumbersome old coaches 
and even the "Flying Machines," and travel by another 
flying machine, an airship, landing where we will, 
wherever a pleasing inn attracts us. At Glastonbury is 
the famous "George," which has hardly changed its 
exterior since it was built by Abbot Selwood in 1475 
for the accommodation of middle-class pilgrims, those of 
high degree being entertained at the abbot's lodgings. 
At Gloucester we find ourselves in the midst of memories 
of Roman, Saxon, and monastic days. Here too are 
some famous inns, especially the quaint "New Inn," in 



OLD INNS 



2 5i 



Northgate Street, a somewhat peculiar sign for a hostelry 
built (so it is said) for the use of pilgrims frequenting the 
shrine of Edward II in the cathedral. It retains all its 
ancient medieval picturesqueness. Here the old gallery 
which surrounded most of our inn-yards remains. Carved 



<T€g 










The Falstaff Inn, Canterbury 

beams and door-posts made of chestnut are seen every- 
where, and at the corner of New Inn Lane is a very 
elaborate sculpture, the lower part of which represents 
the Virgin and Holy Child. Here, in Hare Lane, is also 
a similar inn, the Old Raven Tavern, which has suf- 
fered much in the course of ages. It was formerly built 
around a courtyard, but only one side of it is left. 



252 VANISHING ENGLAND 

There are many fine examples of old houses that are 
not inns in Gloucester, beautiful half-timbered black and 
white structures, such as Robert Raikes's house, the 
printer who has the credit of founding the first Sunday- 
school, the old Judges' House in Westgate Street, the 
old Deanery with its Norman room, once the Prior's 
Lodge of the Benedictine Abbey. Behind many a 
modern front there exist curious carvings and quaintly 
panelled rooms and elaborate ceilings. There is an 
interesting carved-panel room in the Tudor House, West- 
gate Street. The panels are of the linen-fold pattern, 
and at the head of each are various designs, such as 
the Tudor Rose and Pomegranate, the Lion of England, 
etc. The house originally known as the Old Blue Shop 
has some magnificent mantelpieces, and also St. Nicholas 
House can boast of a very elaborately carved example of 
Elizabethan sculpture. 

We journey thence to Tewkesbury and visit the grand 
silver-grey abbey that adorns the Severn banks. Here 
are some good inns of great antiquity. The " Wheat- 
sheaf" is perhaps the most attractive, with its curious 
gable and ancient lights, and even the interior is not 
much altered. Here too is the " Bell," under the 
shadow of the abbey tower. It is the original of 
Phineas Fletcher's house in the novel John Halifax, 
Gentleman. The "Bear and the Ragged Staff" is 
another half-timbered house with a straggling array of 
buildings and curious swinging signboard, the favourite 
haunt of the disciples of Izaak Walton, under the over- 
hanging eaves of which the Avon silently flows. 

The old " Seven Stars" at Manchester is said to be the 
most ancient in England, claiming a licence 563 years 
old. But it has many rivals, such as the "Fighting 
Cocks" at St. Albans, the "Dick Whittington" in 
Cloth Fair, St. Bartholomews, the "Running Horse" at 
Leatherhead, wherein John Skelton, the poet laureate of 
Henry VIII, sang the praises of its landlady, Eleanor 
Rumming, and several others. The "Seven Stars" has 



OLD INNS 



253 



many interesting features and historical associations. 
Here came Guy Fawkes and concealed himself in "Ye 
Guy Faux Chamber," as the legend over the door testifies. 
What strange stories could this old inn tell us ! It could 
tell us of the Flemish weavers who, driven from their own 
country by religious persecutions and the atrocities of 
Duke Alva, settled in Manchester in 1564, and drank 




The Bear and Ragged Staff Inn, Tewkesbury 

many a cup of sack at the "Seven Stars," rejoicing in 
their safety. It could tell us of the disputes between the 
clergy of the collegiate church and the citizens in 1574, 
when one of the preachers, a bachelor of divinity, on his 
way to the church was stabbed three times by the dagger 
of a Manchester man ; and of the execution of three 
popish priests, whose heads were afterwards exposed from 
the tower of the church. Then there is the story of the 
famous siege in 1642, when the King's forces tried to 



254 VANISHING ENGLAND 

take the town and were repulsed by the townsfolk, who 
were staunch Roundheads. "A great and furious skir- 
mish did ensue," and the "Seven Stars" was in the 
centre of the fighting. Sir Thomas Fairfax made Man- 
chester his head-quarters in 1643, and the walls of the 
" Seven Stars " echoed with the carousals of the Round- 
heads. When Fairfax marched from Manchester to 
relieve Nantwich, some dragoons had to leave hurriedly, 
and secreted their mess plate in the walls of the old inn, 
where it was discovered only a few years ago, and may 
now be seen in the parlour of this interesting hostel. In 
1745 it furnished accommodation for the soldiers of Prince 
Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, and was the head- 
quarters of the Manchester regiment. One of the rooms 
is called "Ye Vestry," on account of its connexion with 
the collegiate church. It is said that there was a secret 
passage between the inn and the church, and, according 
to the Court Leet Records, some of the clergy used to go 
to the "Seven Stars" in sermon-time in their surplices to 
refresh themselves. O temporal O mores! A horse- 
shoe at the foot of the stairs has a story to tell. During 
the war with France in 1805 the press-gang was billeted 
at the " Seven Stars." A young farmer's lad was leading 
a horse to be shod which had cast a shoe. The press- 
gang rushed out, seized the young man, and led him off 
to serve the king. Before leaving he nailed the shoe to a 
post on the stairs, saying, " Let this stay till I come from 
the wars to claim it." So it remains to this day un- 
claimed, a mute reminder of its owner's fate and of the 
manners of our forefathers. 

Another inn, the "Fighting Cocks" at St. Albans, 
formerly known as " Ye Old Round House," close to the 
River Ver, claims to be the oldest inhabited house in 
England. It probably formed part of the monastic 
buildings, but its antiquity as an inn is not, as far as 
I am aware, fully established. 

The antiquary must not forget the ancient inn at Bain- 
bridge, in Wensleydale, which has had its licence since 



OLD INNS 



255 



1445, and plays its little part in Drunken Bamabfs 
Journal. 

Many inns have played an important part in national 
events. There is the " Bull" at Coventry, where Henry 
VII stayed before the battle of Bosworth Field, where 
he won for himself the English crown. There Mary 




Fire-place in the George Inn, Norton St. Philip, Somerset 



Oueen of Scots was detained by order of Elizabeth. 
There the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot met to 
devise their scheme for blowing up the Houses of Parlia- 
ment. The George Inn at Norton St. Philip, Somerset, 
took part in the Monmouth rebellion. There the Duke 
stayed, and there was much excitement in the inn when 
he informed his officers that it was his intention to attack 
Bristol. Thence he marched with his rude levies to 



256 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Keynsham, and after a defeat and a vain visit to Bath he 
returned to the "George" and won a victory over 
Faversham's advanced guard. You can still see the 
Monmouth room in the inn with its fine fire-place. 

The Crown and Treaty Inn at Uxbridge reminds one 
of the meeting of the Commissioners of King and Parlia- 
ment, who vainly tried to arrange a peace in 1645 ; and 
at the "Bear," Hungerford, William of Orange received 
the Commissioners of James II, and set out thence on 
his march towards London and the English throne. 

The Dark Lantern Inn at Aylesbury, in a nest of poor 
houses, seems to tell by its unique sign of plots and 
conspiracies. 

Aylesbury is noted for its inns. The famous " White 
Hart" is no more. It has vanished entirely, having dis- 
appeared in 1863. It had been modernized, but could 
boast of a timber balcony round the courtyard, orna- 
mented with ancient wood carvings brought from Salden 
House, an old seat of the Fortescues, near Winslow. 
Part of the inn was built by the Earl of Rochester in 
1663, and many were the great feasts and civic banquets 
that took place within its hospitable doors. The " King's 
Head " dates from the middle of the fifteenth century and 
is a good specimen of the domestic architecture of the 
Tudor period. It formerly issued its own tokens. It 
was probably the hall of some guild or fraternity. In 
a large window are the arms of England and Anjou. 
The George Inn has some interesting paintings which 
were probably brought from Eythrope House on its 
demolition in 1810, and the " Bull's Head " has some fine 
beams and panelling. 

Some of the inns of Burford and Shrewsbury we have 
seen when we visited those old-world towns. Wymondham, 
once famous for its abbey, is noted for its ' 'Green Dragon, " 
a beautiful half-timbered house with projecting storeys, 
and in our wanderings we must not forget to see along 
the Brighton road the picturesque "Star" at Alfriston 
with its three oriel windows, one of the oldest in Sussex. 







17 



258 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



It was once a sanctuary within the jurisdiction of the 
Abbot of Battle for persons flying from justice. Hither 
came men-slayers, thieves, and rogues of every descrip- 
tion, and if they reached this inn-door they were safe. 
There is a record of a horse-thief named Birrel in the 
days of Henry VIII seeking refuge here for a crime com- 



^**» 







mitted at Lydd, in Kent. It was intended originally as 
a house for the refreshment of mendicant friars. The 
house is very quaint with its curious carvings, including 
a great red lion that guards the side, the figure-head 
of a wrecked Dutch vessel lost in Cuckmen Haven. 
Alfriston was noted as a great nest of smugglers, and the 
" Star " was often frequented by Stanton Collins and his 
gang, who struck terror into their neighbours, daringly 
carried on their trade, and drank deep at the inn when 



OLD INNS 259 

the kegs were safely housed. Only fourteen years ago 
the last of his gang died in Eastbourne Workhouse. 
Smuggling is a vanished profession nowadays, a feature 
of vanished England that no one would seek to revive. 
Who can tell whether it may not be as prevalent as ever 
it was, if tariff reform and the imposition of heavy taxes 
on imports become articles of our political creed? 

Many of the inns once famous in the annals of the road 
have now "retired from business" and have taken down 
their signs. The First and Last Inn, at Croscombe, 
Somerset, was once a noted coaching hostel, but since 
coaches ceased to run it was not wanted and has closed 
its doors to the public. Small towns like Hounslow, 
Wycombe, and Ashbourne were full of important inns 
which, being no longer required for the accommodation 
of travellers, have retired from work and converted them- 
selves into private houses. Small villages like Little 
Brickhill, which happened to be a stage, abounded with 
hostels which the ending of the coaching age made un- 
necessary. The Castle Inn at Marlborough, once one of 
the finest in England, is now part of a great public 
school. The house has a noted history. It was once 
a nobleman's mansion, being the home of Frances 
Countess of Hereford, the patron of Thomson, and then 
of the Duke of Northumberland, who leased it to Mr. 
Cotterell for the purpose of an inn. Crowds of dis- 
tinguished folk have thronged its rooms and corridors, 
including the great Lord Chatham, who was laid up here 
with an attack of gout for seven weeks in 1762 and made 
all the inn-servants wear his livery. Mr. Stanley Wey- 
man has made it the scene of one of his charming 
romances. It was not until 1843 that it took down its 
sign, and has since patiently listened to the conjugation 
of Greek and Latin verbs, to classic lore, and other 
studies which have made Marlborough College one of 
the great and successful public schools. Another great 
inn was the fine Georgian house near one of the entrances 
to Kedleston Park, built by Lord Scarsdale for visitors 



2 6o VANISHING ENGLAND 

to the medicinal waters in his park. But these waters 
have now ceased to cure the mildest invalid, and the inn 
is now a large farm-house with vast stables and barns. 

It seems as if something of the foundations of history 
were crumbling to read that the " Star and Garter" at Rich- 
mond is to be sold at auction. That is a melancholy fate 
for perhaps the most famous inn in the country — a place 
at which princes and statesmen have stayed, and to which 
Louis Philippe and his Queen resorted. The " Star and 
Garter " has figured in the romances of some of our greatest 
novelists. One comes across it in Meredith and Thacke- 
ray, and it finds its way into numerous memoirs, nearly 
always with some comment upon its unique beauty of 
situation, a beauty that was never more real than at this 
moment when the spring foliage is just beginning to 
peep. 

The motor and changing habits account for the evil 
days upon which the hostelry has fallen. Trains and 
trams have brought to the doors almost of the " Star and 
Garter " a public that has not the means to make use of its 
1 20 bedrooms. The richer patrons of other days flash 
past on their motors, making for those resorts higher 
up the river which are filling the place in the economy 
of the London Sunday and week-end which Richmond 
occupied in times when travelling was more difficult. 
These changes are inevitable. The " Ship " at Greenwich 
has gone, and Cabinet Ministers can no longer dine 
there. The convalescent home, which was the undoing 
of certain Poplar Guardians, is housed in an hotel as 
famous as the " Ship," in its days once the resort of Pitt 
and his bosom friends. Indeed, a pathetic history might 
be written of the famous hostelries of the past. 

Not far from Marlborough is Devizes, formerly a great 
coaching centre, and full of inns, of which the most 
noted is the " Bear," still a thriving hostel, once the home 
of the great artist Sir Thomas Lawrence, whose father 
was the landlord. 

It is impossible within one chapter to record all the old 




Courtyard of the George Inn, .Norton St. Philip, Somerset 



262 VANISHING ENGLAND 

inns of England, we have still a vast number left un- 
chronicled, but perhaps a sufficient number of examples 
has been given of this important feature of vanishing 
England. Some of these are old and crumbling, and 
may die of old age. Others will fall a prey to licensing 
committees. Some have been left high and dry, deserted 
by the stream of guests that flowed to them in the old 
coaching days. Motor-cars have resuscitated some and 
brought prosperity and life to the old guest-haunted 
chambers. We cannot dwell on the curious signs that 
greet us as we travel along the old highways, or strive to 
interpret their origin and meaning. We are rather fond 
in Berkshire of the "Five Alls," the interpretation of 
which is cryptic. The Five Alls are, if I remember 
right — 

"I rule all" [the king]. 

" I pray for all " [the bishop]. 

" I plead for all " [the barrister]. 

" I fight for all " [the soldier]. 

" I pay for all " [the farmer]. 

One of the most humorous inn signs is "The Man 
Loaded with Mischief," which is found about a mile from 
Cambridge, on the Madingley road. The original Mis- 
chief was designed by Hogarth for a public-house in 
Oxford Street. It is needless to say that the signboard, 
and even the name, have long ago disappeared from the 
busy London thoroughfare, but the quaint device must 
have been extensively copied by country sign-painters. 
There is a " Mischief" at Wallingford, and a "Load of 
Mischief" at Norwich, and another at Blewbury. The inn 
on the Madingley road exhibits the sign in its original 
form. Though the colours are much faded from exposure 
to the weather, traces of Hogarthian humour can be 
detected. A man is staggering under the weight of a 
woman, who is on his back. She is holding a glass of 
gin in her hand ; a chain and padlock are round the man's 
neck, labelled " Wedlock." On the right-hand side is the 







S8S*--"-~'- i»* 







264 VANISHING ENGLAND 

shop of " S. Gripe, Pawnbroker," and a carpenter is just 
going in to pledge his tools. 

The art of painting signboards is almost lost, and when 
they have to be renewed sorry attempts are made to 
imitate the old designs. Some celebrated artists have not 
thought it below their dignity to paint signboards. Some 
have done this to show their gratitude to their kindly host 
and hostess for favours received when they sojourned at 
inns during their sketching expeditions. The "George" 
at Wargrave has a sign painted by the distinguished 
painters Mr. George Leslie, r.a., and Mr. J. E. Hodgson, 
r.a., who, when staying at the inn, kindly painted the 
sign, which is hung carefully within doors that it may not 
be exposed to the mists and rains of the Thames valley. 
St. George is sallying forth to slay the dragon on the one 
side, and on the reverse he is refreshing himself with 
a tankard of ale after his labours. Not a few artists 
in the early stages of their career have paid their bills at 
inns by painting for the landlord. Morland was always 
in difficulties and adorned many a signboard, and the art 
of David Cox, Herring, and Sir William Beechey has 
been displayed in this homely fashion. David Cox's 
painting of the Royal Oak at Bettws-y-Coed was the 
subject of prolonged litigation, the sign being valued at 
£1000, the case being carried to the House of Lords, and 
there decided in favour of the freeholder. 

Sometimes strange notices appear in inns. The follow- 
ing rather remarkable one was seen by our artist at the 
" County Arms," Stone, near Aylesbury : — 

" A man is specially engaged to do all the cursing and 
swearing that is required in this establishment. A dog is 
also kept to do all the barking. Our prize-fighter and 
chucker-out has won seventy-five prize-fights and has 
never been beaten, and is a splendid shot with the 
revolver. An undertaker calls here for orders every 
morning." 

Motor-cars have somewhat revived the life of the old 
inns on the great coaching roads, but it is only the 



OLD INNS 



265 



larger and more important ones that have been aroused 
into a semblance of their old life. The cars disdain the 
smaller establishments, and run such long distances that 
only a few houses along the road derive much benefit from 
them. For many their days are numbered, and it may be 
useful to describe them before, like four-wheelers and 
hansom-cabs, they have quite vanished away. 




Spandril. The Marquis of Granby Inn, Colchester 



CHAPTER XI 
OLD MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS 

NO class of buildings has suffered more than 
the old town halls of our country boroughs. 
Many of these towns have become decayed 
and all their ancient glories have departed. They were 
once flourishing places in the palmy days of the cloth 
trade, and could boast of fairs and markets and a consider- 
able number of inhabitants and wealthy merchants ; but 
the tide of trade has flowed elsewhere. The invention 
of steam and complex machinery necessitating proximity 
to coal-fields has turned its course elsewhere, to the 
smoky regions of Yorkshire and Lancashire, and the 
old town has lost its prosperity and its power. Its charter 
has gone ; it can boast of no municipal corporation ; 
hence the town hall is scarcely needed save for some 
itinerant Thespians, an occasional public meeting, or as 
a storehouse of rubbish. It begins to fall into decay, 
and the decayed town is not rich enough, or public- 
spirited enough, to prop its weakened timbers. For the 
sake of the safety of the public it has to come down. 

On the other hand, an influx of prosperity often dooms 
the aged town hall to destruction. It vanishes before 
a wave of prosperity. The borough has enlarged its 
borders. It has become quite a great town and transacts 
much business. The old shops have given place to grand 
emporiums with large plate-glass windows, wherein are 
exhibited the most recent fashions of London and Paris, 
and motor-cars can be bought, and all is very brisk and 
up-to-date. The old town hall is now deemed a very 
poor and inadequate building. It is small, inconvenient, 

266 



OLD MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS 267 

and unsuited to the taste of the municipal councillors, 
whose ideas have expanded with their trade. The Mayor 
and Corporation meet, and decide to build a brand-new 
town hall replete with every luxury and convenience. 
The old must vanish. 

And yet, how picturesque these ancient council cham- 
bers are. They usually stand in the centre of the market- 
place, and have an undercroft, the upper storey resting 
on pillars. Beneath this shelter the market women dis- 
play their wares and fix their stalls on market days, and 
there you will perhaps see the fire-engine, at least the 
old primitive one which was in use before a grand steam 
fire-engine had been purchased and housed in a station 
of its own. The building has high pointed gables and 
mullioned windows, a tiled roof mellowed with age, and 
a finely wrought vane, which is a credit to the skill of 
the local blacksmith. It is a sad pity that this "thing of 
beauty " should have to be pulled down and be replaced 
by a modern building which is not always creditable to 
the architectural taste of the age. A law should be passed 
that no old town halls should be pulled down, and that 
all new ones should be erected on a different site. No 
more fitting place could be found for the storage of the 
antiquities of the town, the relics of its old municipal life, 
sketches of its old buildings that have vanished, and 
portraits of its worthies, than the ancient building which 
has for so long kept watch and ward over its destinies 
and been the scene of most of the chief events connected 
with its history. 

Happily several have been spared, and they speak to 
us of the old methods of municipal government; of the 
merchant guilds, composed of rich merchants and clothiers, 
who met therein to transact their common business. The 
guild hall was the centre of the trade of the town and of 
its social and commercial life. An amazing amount of 
business was transacted therein. If you study the records 
of any ancient borough you will discover that the pulse 
of life beat fast in the old guild hall. There the merchants 



268 VANISHING ENGLAND 

met to talk over their affairs and "drink their guild." 
There the Mayor came with the Recorder or " Stiward " to 
hold his courts and to issue all " processes as attache- 
mentes, summons, distresses, precepts, warantes, sub- 
sideas, recognissaunces, etc." The guild hall was like 
a living thing. It held property, had a treasury, received 
the payments of freemen, levied fines on "foreigners" 
who were " not of the guild," administered justice, settled 
quarrels between the brethren of the guild, made loans to 
merchants, heard the complaints of the aggrieved, held 
feasts, promoted loyalty to the sovereign, and insisted 
strongly on every burgess that he should do his best to 
promote the " comyn weele and prophite of ye saide 
gylde." It required loyalty and secrecy from the mem- 
bers of the common council assembled within its walls, 
and no one was allowed to disclose to the public its 
decisions and decrees. This guild hall was a living thing. 
Like the Brook it sang : — 

Men may come and men may go, 
But I flow on for ever." 

Mayor succeeded mayor, and burgess followed burgess, 
but the old guild hall lived on, the central mainspring of 
the borough's life. Therein were stored the archives of 
the town, the charters won, bargained for, and granted 
by kings and queens, which gave them privileges of 
trade, authority to hold fairs and markets, liberty to 
convey and sell their goods in other towns. Therein were 
preserved the civic plate, the maces that gave dignity to 
their proceedings, the cups bestowed by royal or noble 
personages or by the affluent members of the guild in 
token of their affection for their town and fellowship. 
Therein they assembled to don their robes to march in 
procession to the town church to hear Mass, or in later 
times a sermon, and then refreshed themselves with a 
feast at the charge of the hall. The portraits of the 
worthies of the town, of royal and distinguished patrons, 
adorned the walls, and the old guild hall preached daily 




Y**<A 



T^c 



The Town Hall, Shrewsbury 



270 VANISHING ENGLAND 

lessons to the townsfolk to uphold the dignity and pro- 
mote the welfare of the borough, and good feeling and 
the sense of brotherhood among themselves. 

We give an illustration of the town hall of Shrewsbury, 
a notable building and well worthy of study as a specimen 
of a municipal building erected at the close of the sixteenth 
century. The style is that of the Renaissance with the 
usual mixture of debased Gothic and classic details, but 
the general effect is imposing ; the arches and parapet are 
especially characteristic. An inscription over the arch at 
the north end records : — 

"The xv th day of June was this building begonne, 
William Jones and Thomas Charlton, Gent, then Bailiffes, 
and was erected and covered in their time, 1595." 

A full description of this building is given in Canon 
Auden's history of the town. He states that "under 
the clock is the statue of Richard Duke of York, father 
of Edward IV, which was removed from the old Welsh 
Bridge at its demolition in 1791. This is flanked by an 
inscription recording this fact on the one side, and on the 
other by the three leopards' heads which are the arms of 
the town. On the other end of the building is a sun-dial, 
and also a sculptured angel holding a shield on which are 
the arms of England and France. This was removed 
from the gate of the town, which stood at the foot of the 
castle, on its demolition in 1825. The principal entrance 
is on the west, and over this are the arms of Queen 
Elizabeth and the date 1596. It will be noticed that one 
of the supporters is not the unicorn, but the red dragon 
of Wales. The interior is now partly devoted to various 
municipal offices, and partly used as the Mayor's Court, 
the roof of which still retains its old character." It was 
formerly known as the Old Market Hall, but the business 
of the market has been transferred to the huge but 
tasteless building of brick erected at the top of Mardol in 
1869, the erection of which caused the destruction of 
several picturesque old houses which can ill be spared. 

Cirencester possesses a magnificent town hall, a stately 



OLD MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS 271 

Perpendicular building, which stands out well against the 
noble church tower of the same period. It has a gate- 
way flanked by buttresses and arcades on each side and 
two upper storeys with pierced battlements at the top 
which are adorned with richly floriated pinnacles. A 
great charm of the building are the three oriel windows 
extending from the top of the ground-floor division to the 
foot of the battlements. The surface of the wall of the 
facade is cut into panels, and niches for statues adorn 
the faces of the four buttresses. The whole forms a most 
elaborate piece of Perpendicular work of unusual char- 
acter. We understand that it needs repair and is in 
some danger. The aid of the Society for the Protection 
of Ancient Buildings has been called in, and their report 
has been sent to the civic authorities, who will, we hope, 
adopt their recommendations and deal kindly and tenderly 
with this most interesting structure. 

Another famous guild hall is in danger, that at Norwich. 
It has even been suggested that it should be pulled down 
and a new one erected, but happily this wild scheme has 
been abandoned. Old buildings like not new inven- 
tions, just as old people fear to cross the road lest they 
should be run over by a motor-car. Norwich Guildhall 
does not approve of electric tram-cars, which run close 
to its north side and cause its old bones to vibrate in 
a most uncomfortable fashion. You can perceive how 
much it objects to these horrid cars by feeling the vibra- 
tion of the walls when you are standing on the level of the 
street or on the parapet. You will not therefore be 
surprised to find ominous cracks in the old walls, and the 
roof is none too safe, the large span having tried severely 
the strength of the old oak beams. It is a very ancient 
building, the crypt under the east end, vaulted in brick- 
work, probably dating from the thirteenth century, while 
the main building was erected in the fifteenth century. 
The walls are well built, three feet in thickness, and con- 
structed of uncut flints ; the east end is enriched with 
diaper-work in chequers of stone and knapped flint. 



272 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Some new buildings have been added on the south side 
within the last century. There is a clock turret at the 
east end, erected in 1850 at the cost of the then Mayor. 
Evidently the roof was giving the citizens anxiety at that 
time, as the good donor presented the clock tower on 
condition that the roof of the council chamber should be 
repaired. This famous old building has witnessed many 
strange scenes, such as the burning of old dames who 
were supposed to be witches, the execution of criminals 
and conspirators, the savage conflicts of citizens and 
soldiers in days of rioting and unrest. These good 
citizens of Norwich used to add considerably to the 
excitement of the place by their turbulence and eager- 
ness for fighting. The crypt of the Town Hall is just old 
enough to have heard of the burning of the cathedral and 
monastery by the citizens in 1272, and to have seen the 
ringleaders executed. Often was there fighting in the 
city, and this same old building witnessed in 1549 a great 
riot, chiefly directed against the religious reforms and 
change of worship introduced by the first Prayer Book of 
Edward VI. It was rather amusing to see Parker, after- 
wards Archbishop of Canterbury, addressing the rioters 
from a platform, under which stood the spearmen of Kett, 
the leader of the riot, who took delight in pricking the 
feet of the orator with their spears as he poured forth his 
impassioned eloquence. In an important city like Nor- 
wich the guild hall has played an important part in the 
making of England, and is worthy in its old age of 
the tenderest and most reverent treatment, and even 
of the removal from its proximity of the objectionable 
electric tram-cars. 

As we are at Norwich it would be well to visit another old 
house, which though not a municipal building, is a unique 
specimen of the domestic architecture of a Norwich citizen 
in days when, as Dr. Jessop remarks, " there was no coal 
to burn in the grate, no gas to enlighten the darkness 
of the night, no potatoes to eat, no tea to drink, and when 
men believed that the sun moved round the earth once in 



OLD MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS 273 

365 days, and would have been ready to burn the culprit 
who should dare to maintain the contrary." It is called 
Strangers' Hall, a most interesting medieval mansion 
which had never ceased to be an inhabited house for at 
least 500 years, till it was purchased in 1899 by Mr. 
Leonard Bolingbroke, who rescued it from decay, and 
permits the public to inspect its beauties. The crypt and 
cellars, and possibly the kitchen and buttery, were portions 
of the original house owned in 1358 by Robert Herdegrey, 
Burgess in Parliament and Bailiff of the City, and the 
present hall, with its groined porch and oriel window, was 
erected later over the original fourteenth-century cellars. 
It was inhabited by a succession of merchants and chief 
men of Norwich, and at the beginning of the sixteenth 
century passed into the family of Sotherton. The mer- 
chant's mark of Nicholas Sotherton is painted on the roof 
of the hall. You can see this fine hall with its screen 
and gallery and beautifully-carved woodwork. The 
present Jacobean staircase and gallery, big oak window, 
and doorways leading into the garden are later additions 
made by Francis Cook, grocer of Norwich, who was 
mayor of the city in 1627. The house probably took its 
name from the family of Le Strange, who settled in Nor- 
wich in the sixteenth century. In 1610 the Sothertons 
conveyed the property to Sir le Strange Mordant, who 
sold it to the above-mentioned Francis Cook. Sir Joseph 
Paine came into possession just before the Restoration, 
and we see his initials, with those of his wife Emma, and 
the date 1659, ^ n the spandrels of the fire-places in some 
of the rooms. This beautiful memorial of the merchant 
princes of Norwich, like many other old houses, fell into 
decay. It is most pleasant to find that it has now fallen 
into such tender hands, that its old timbers have been 
saved and preserved by the generous care of its present 
owner, who has thus earned the gratitude of all who love 
antiquity. 

Sometimes buildings erected for quite different pur- 
poses have been used as guild halls. There was one at 
18 



274 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Reading, a guild hall near the holy brook in which the 
women washed their clothes, and made so much noise by 
"beating their battledores " (the usual style of washing 
in those days) that the mayor and his worthy brethren 
were often disturbed in their deliberations, so they peti- 
tioned the King to grant them the use of the deserted 
church of the Greyfriars' Monastery lately dissolved in 
the town. This request was granted, and in the place 
where the friars sang their services and preached, the 
mayor and burgesses " drank their guild " and held their 
banquets. When they got tired of that building they 
filched part of the old grammar school from the boys, 
making an upper storey, wherein they held their council 
meetings. The old church then was turned into a 
prison, but now happily it is a church again. At last 
the corporation had a town hall of their own, which 
they decorated with the initials s.p.q.r., Romanus and 
Readingensis conveniently beginning with the same 
letter. Now they have a grand new town hall, which 
provides every accommodation for this growing town. 

The Newbury town hall, a Georgian structure, has 
just been demolished. It was erected in 1740-1742, taking 
the place of an ancient and interesting guild hall built in 
161 1 in the centre of the market-place. The councillors 
were startled one day by the collapse of the ceiling of the 
hall, and when we last saw the chamber tons of heavy 
plaster were lying on the floor. The roof was unsound ; 
the adjoining street too narrow for the hundred motors 
that raced past the dangerous corners in twenty minutes 
on the day of the Newbury races ; so there was no help 
for the old building; its fate was sealed, and it was bound 
to come down. But the town possesses a very charming 
Cloth Hall, which tells of the palmy days of the Newbury 
cloth-makers, or clothiers, as they were called ; of Jack of 
Newbury, the famous John Winchcombe, or Smallwoode, 
whose story is told in Deloney's humorous old black- 
letter pamphlet, entitled The Most Pleasant and Delectable 
Historie of John Winchcombe, otherwise called Jacke of 







* — » l x * 



276 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Newberie, published in 1596. He is said to have fur- 
nished one hundred men fully equipped for the King's 
service at Flodden Field, and mightily pleased Queen 
Catherine, who gave him a " riche chain of gold," and 
wished that God would give the King many such clothiers. 
You can see part of the house of this worthy, who died in 
1519. Fuller stated in the seventeenth century that this 
brick and timber residence had been converted into six- 
teen clothiers' houses. It is now partly occupied by the 
Jack of Newbury Inn. A fifteenth-century gable with 
an oriel window and carved barge-board still remains, 
and you can see a massive stone chimney-piece in one of 
the original chambers where Jack used to sit and receive 
his friends. Some carvings also have been discovered in 
an old house showing what is thought to be a carved por- 
trait of the clothier. It bears the initials J. W., and 
another panel has a raised shield suspended by strap and 
buckle with a monogram I. S., presumably John Small- 
woode. He was married twice, and the portrait busts 
on each side are supposed to represent his two wives. 
Another carving represents the Blessed Trinity under the 
figure of a single head with three faces within a wreath of 
oak-leaves with floriated spandrels. 1 We should like to 
pursue the subject of these Newbury clothiers and see 
Thomas Dolman's house, which is so fine and large and 
cost so much money that his workpeople used to sing a 
doggerel ditty : — 

Lord have mercy upon us miserable sinners, 

Thomas Dolman has built a new house and turned away all his spinners. 

The old Cloth Hall which has led to this digression has 
been recently restored, and is now a museum. 

The ancient town of Wallingford, famous for its castle, 
had a guild hall with selds under it, the earliest mention 
of which dates back to the reign of Edward II, and 
occurs constantly as the place wherein the burghmotes 
were held. The present town hall was erected in 1670 — 

1 History of Newbury, by Walter Money, f.s.a. 






OLD MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS 277 

a picturesque building on stone pillars. This open space 
beneath the town hall was formerly used as a corn-market, 
and so continued until the present corn-exchange was 
erected half a century ago. The slated roof is gracefully 
curved, is crowned by a good vane, and a neat dormer 
window juts out on the side facing the market-place. 
Below this is a large Renaissance window opening on 
to a balcony whence orators can address the crowds 
assembled in the market-place at election times. The 
walls of the hall are hung with portraits of the worthies 
and benefactors of the town, including one of Archbishop 
Laud. A mayor's feast was, before the passing of the 
Municipal Corporations Act, a great occasion in most of 
our boroughs, the expenses of which were defrayed by 
the rates. The upper chamber in the Wallingford town 
hall was formerly a kitchen, with a huge fire-place, where 
mighty joints and fat capons were roasted for the banquet. 
Outside you can see a ring of light-coloured stones, 
called the bull-ring, where bulls, provided at the cost of 
the Corporation, were baited. Until 1840 our Berkshire 
town of Wokingham was famous for its annual bull- 
baiting on St. Thomas's Day. A good man, one George 
Staverton, was once gored by a bull ; so he vented his 
rage upon the whole bovine race, and left a charity for 
the providing of bulls to be baited on the festival of this 
saint, the meat afterwards to be given to the poor of 
the town. The meat is still distributed, but the bulls are 
no longer baited. Here at Wokingham there was a 
picturesque old town hall with an open undercroft, sup- 
ported on pillars ; but the townsfolk must needs pull it 
down and erect an unsightly brick building in its stead. 
It contains some interesting portraits of royal and dis- 
tinguished folk dating from the time of Charles I, but 
how the town became possessed of these paintings no 
man knoweth. 

Another of our Berkshire towns can boast of a fine 
town hall that has not been pulled down like so many of 
its fellows. It is not so old as some, but is in itself a 



278 VANISHING ENGLAND 

memorial of some vandalism, as it occupies the site of the 
old Market Cross, a thing of rare beauty, beautifully 
carved and erected in Mary's reign, but ruthlessly de- 
stroyed by Waller and his troopers during the Civil War 
period. Upon the ground on which it stood thirty- 
four years later — in 1677 — the Abingdon folk reared their 
fine town hall ; its style resembles that of Inigo Jones, 
and it has an open undercroft — a kindly shelter from the 
weather for market women. Tall and graceful it domi- 
nates the market-place, and it is crowned with a pretty 
cupola and a fine vane. You can find a still more in- 
teresting hall in the town, part of the old abbey, the 
gateway with its adjoining rooms, now used as the County 
Hall, and there you will see as fine a collection of plate 
and as choice an array of royal portraits as ever fell to the 
lot of a provincial county town. One of these is a Gains- 
borough. One of the reasons why Abingdon has such 
a good store of silver plate is that according to their 
charter the Corporation has to pay a small sum yearly to 
their High Stewards, and these gentlemen — the Bowyers 
of Radley and the Earls of Abingdon — have been accus- 
tomed to restore their fees to the town in the shape of 
a gift of plate. 

We might proceed to examine many other of these 
interesting buildings, but a volume would be needed for 
the purpose of recording them all. Too many of the 
ancient ones have disappeared and their places taken by 
modern, unsightly, though more convenient buildings. 
We may mention the salvage of the old market-house at 
Winster, in Derbyshire, which has been rescued by that 
admirable National Trust for Places of Historic Interest 
or Natural Beauty, which descends like an angel of mercy 
on many a threatened and abandoned building and pre- 
serves it for future generations. The Winster market- 
house is of great age ; the lower part is doubtless as old 
as the thirteenth century, and the upper part was added 
in the seventeenth. Winster was at one time an im- 
portant place ; its markets were famous, and this building 




The Market House, Wymondham, Norfolk 



28o VANISHING ENGLAND 

must for very many years have been the centre of the 
commercial life of a large district. But as the market 
has diminished in importance, the old market-house has 
fallen out of repair, and its condition has caused anxiety 
to antiquaries for some time past. Local help has been 
forthcoming under the auspices of the National Trust, 
in which it is now vested for future preservation. 

Though not a town hall, we may here record the saving 
of a very interesting old building, the Palace Gatehouse 
at Maidstone, the entire demolition of which was pro- 
posed. It is part of the old residence of the Archbishops 
of Canterbury, near the Perpendicular church of All 
Saints, on the banks of the Medway, whose house at 
Maidstone added dignity to the town and helped to make 
it the important place it was. The Palace was originally 
the residence of the Rector of Maidstone, but was given 
up in the thirteenth century to the Archbishop. The 
oldest part of the existing building is at the north end, 
where some fifteenth-century windows remain. Some of 
the rooms have good old panelling and open stone fire- 
places of the fifteenth-century date. But decay has fallen 
on the old building. Ivy is allowed to grow over it 
unchecked, its main stems clinging to the walls and 
disturbing the stones. Wet has begun to soak into the 
walls through the decayed stone sills. Happily the gate- 
house has been saved, and we doubt not that the en- 
lightened Town Council will do its best to preserve this 
interesting building from further decay. 

The finest Early Renaissance municipal building is the 
picturesque guild hall at Exeter, with its richly ornamented 
front projecting over the pavement and carried on arches. 
The market-house at Rothwell is a beautifully designed 
building erected by Sir Thomas Tresham in 1577. Being 
a Recusant, he was much persecuted for his religion, and 
never succeeded in finishing the work. We give an 
illustration of the quaint little market-house at Wymond- 
ham, with its open space beneath, and the upper storey 
supported by stout posts and brackets. It is entirely 



OLD MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS 281 

built of timber and plaster. Stout posts support the 
upper floor, beneath which is a covered market. The 
upper chamber is reached by a quaint rude wooden stair- 
case. Chipping Campden can boast of a handsome oblong 
market-house, built of stone, having five arches with three 
gables on the long sides, and two arches with gables over 
each on the short sides. There are mullioned windows 
under each gable. 

The city of Salisbury could at one time boast of several 
halls of the old guilds which flourished there. There 
was a charming island of old houses near the cattle- 





Guild Mark and Date on doorway, Burford, Oxon 



market, which have all disappeared. They were most 
picturesque and interesting buildings, and we regret to 
have to record that new half-timbered structures have 
been erected in their place with sham beams, and boards 
nailed on to the walls to represent beams, one of the 
monstrosities of modern architectural art. The old 
Joiners' Hall has happily been saved by the National 
Trust. It has a very attractive sixteenth-century facade, 
though the interior has been much altered. Until the 
early years of the nineteenth century it was the hall of 
the guild or company of the joiners of the city of New 
Sarum. 

Such are some of the old municipal buildings of Eng- 
land. There are many others which might have been 
mentioned. It is a sad pity that so many have disappeared 
and been replaced by modern and uninteresting structures. 



282 VANISHING ENGLAND 

If a new town hall be required in order to keep pace with 
the increasing dignity of an important borough, the Cor- 
poration can at least preserve their ancient municipal hall 
which has so long watched over the fortunes of the town 
and shared in its joys and sorrows, and seek a fresh site 
for their new home without destroying the old. 



A 



CHAPTER XII 
CROSSES 

CAREFUL study of the ordnance maps of 
certain counties of England reveals the extra- 
ordinary number of ancient crosses which are 
scattered over the length and breadth of the district. 
Local names often suggest the existence of an ancient 
cross, such as Blackrod, or Black-rood, Oakenrod, Crosby, 
Cross Hall, Cross Hillock. But if the student sally forth 
to seek this sacred symbol of the Christian faith, he will 
often be disappointed. The cross has vanished, and 
even the recollection of its existence has completely 
passed away. Happily not all have disappeared, and 
in our travels we shall be able to discover many of these 
interesting specimens of ancient art, but not a tithe of 
those that once existed are now to be discovered. 

Many causes have contributed to their disappearance. 
The Puritans waged insensate war against the cross. It 
was in their eyes an idol which must be destroyed. They 
regarded them as popish superstitions, and objected 
greatly to the custom of "carrying the corse towards the 
church all garnished with crosses, which they set down 
by the way at every cross, and there all of them devoutly 
on their knees make prayers for the dead." 1 Iconoclastic 
mobs tore down the sacred symbol in blind fury. In the 
summer of 1643 Parliament ordered that all crucifixes, 
crosses, images, and pictures should be obliterated or 
otherwise destroyed, and during the same year the two 
Houses passed a resolution for the destruction of all 

1 Report of the State of Lancashire in 1^90 (Chetham Society, Vol. 
XCVI.p. s). 

283 



284 VANISHING ENGLAND 

crosses throughout the kingdom. They ordered Sir 
Robert Harlow to superintend the levelling to the ground 
of St. Paul's Cross, Charing Cross, and that in Cheapside, 
and a contemporary print shows the populace busily 
engaged in tearing down the last. Ladders are placed 
against the structure, workmen are busy hammering the 
figures, and a strong rope is attached to the actual cross 
on the summit and eager hands are dragging it down. 
Similar scenes were enacted in many other towns, villages, 
and cities of England, and the wonder is that any crosses 
should have been left. But a vast number did remain 
in order to provide further opportunities for vandalism 
and wanton mischief, and probably quite as many have 
disappeared during the eighteenth and nineteenth cen- 
turies as those which were destroyed by Puritan icono- 
clasts. When trade and commerce developed, and villages 
grew into towns, and sleepy hollows became hives of 
industry, the old market-places became inconveniently 
small, and market crosses with their usually accompany- 
ing stocks and pillories were swept away as useless 
obstructions to traffic. 1 Thus complaints were made 
with regard to the market-place at Colne. There was 
no room for the coaches to turn. Idlers congregated on 
the steps of the cross and interfered with the business of 
the place. It was pronounced a nuisance, and in 1882 
was swept away. Manchester market cross existed until 
1816, when for the sake of utility and increased space it 
was removed. A stately Jacobean Proclamation cross 
remained at Salford until 1824. The Preston Cross, or 
rather obelisk, consisting of a clustered Gothic column, 
thirty-one feet high, standing on a lofty pedestal which 
rested on three steps, was taken down by an act of vandal- 
ism in 1853. The Covell Cross at Lancaster shared its 
fate, being destroyed in 1826 by the justices when they 
purchased the house now used as the judges' lodgings. 
A few years ago it was rebuilt as a memorial of the 
accession of King Edward VII. 

1 Ancient Crosses of Lancashire, by Henry Taylor. 



CROSSES 285 

Individuals too, as well as corporations, have taken 
a hand in the overthrow of crosses. There was a wretch 
named Wilkinson, vicar of Goosnargh, Lancashire, who 
delighted in their destruction. He was a zealous Pro- 
testant, and on account of his fame as a prophet of evil 
his deeds were not interfered with by his neighbours. 
He used to foretell the deaths of persons obnoxious to 
him, and unfortunately several of his prophecies were 
fulfilled, and he earned the dreaded character of a wizard. 
No one dared to prevent him, and with his own hands 
he pulled down several of these venerable monuments. 
Some drunken men in the early years of the nineteenth 
century pulled down the old market cross at Rochdale. 
There was a cross on the bowling-green at Whalley in 
the seventeenth century, the fall of which is described 
by a cavalier, William Blundell, in 1642. When some 
gentlemen came to use the bowling-green they found 
their game interfered with by the fallen cross. A strong, 
powerful man was induced to remove it. He reared it, 
and tried to take it away by wresting it from edge to 
edge, but his foot slipped ; down he fell, and the cross 
falling upon him crushed him to death. A neighbour 
immediately he heard the news was filled with apprehen- 
sion of a similar fate, and confessed that he and the 
deceased had thrown down the cross. It was considered 
a dangerous act to remove a cross, though the hope of 
discovering treasure beneath it often urged men to essay 
the task. A farmer once removed an old boundary stone, 
thinking it would make a good (i buttery stone." But 
the results were dire. Pots and pans, kettles and 
crockery placed upon it danced a clattering dance the 
livelong night, and spilled their contents, disturbed the 
farmer's rest, and worrited the family. The stone had 
to be conveyed back to its former resting-place, and the 
farm again was undisturbed by tumultuous spirits. Some 
of these crosses have been used for gate-posts. Vandals 
have sometimes wanted a sun-dial in their churchyards, 
and have ruthlessly knocked off the head and upper part 



286 VANISHING ENGLAND 

of the shaft of a cross, as they did at Halton, Lancashire, 
in order to provide a base for their dial. In these and 
countless other ways have these crosses suffered, and 
certainly, from the aesthetic and architectural point of 
view, we have to bewail the loss of many of the most 
lovely monuments of the piety and taste of our fore- 
fathers. 

We will now gather up the fragments of the ancient 
crosses of England ere these also vanish from our country. 
They served many purposes and were of divers kinds. 
There were preaching-crosses, on the steps of which the 
early missionary or Saxon priest stood when he pro- 
claimed the message of the gospel, ere churches were 
built for worship. These wandering clerics used to set up 
crosses in the villages, and beneath their shade preached, 
baptized, and said Mass. The pagan Saxons worshipped 
stone pillars ; so in order to wean them from their super- 
stition the Christian missionaries erected these stone 
crosses and carved upon them the figures of the Saviour 
and His Apostles, displaying before the eyes of their 
hearers the story of the Cross written in stone. The 
north of England has many examples of these crosses, 
some of which were fashioned by St. Wilfrid, Archbishop 
of York, in the eighth century. When he travelled 
about his diocese a large number of monks and workmen 
attended him, and amongst these were the cutters in 
stone, who made the crosses and erected them on the 
spots which Wilfrid consecrated to the worship of God. 
St. Paulinus and others did the same. Hence arose a 
large number of these Saxon works of art, which we pro- 
pose to examine and to try to discover the meaning of 
some of the strange sculptures found upon them. 

In spite of iconoclasm and vandalism there remains in 
England a vast number of pre-Norman crosses, and it 
will be possible to refer only to the most noted and 
curious examples. These belong chiefly to four main 
schools of art — the Celtic, Saxon, Roman, and Scandi- 
navian. These various streams of northern and classical 



288 VANISHING ENGLAND 

ideas met and were blended together, just as the wild 
sagas of the Vikings and the teaching of the gospel 
showed themselves together in sculptured representations 
and symbolized the victory of the Crucified One over the 
legends of heathendom. The age and period of these 
crosses, the greater influence of one or other of these 
schools have wrought differences; the beauty and delicacy 
of the carving is in most cases remarkable, and we stand 
amazed at the superabundance of the inventive faculty 
that could produce such wondrous work. A great char- 
acteristic of these early sculptures is the curious inter- 
lacing scroll-work, consisting of knotted and interlaced 
cords of divers patterns and designs. There is an 
immense variety in this carving of these early artists. 
Examples are shown of geometrical designs, of floriated 
ornament, of which the conventional vine pattern is the 
most frequent, and of rope-work and other interlacing 
ornament. We can find space to describe only a few of 
the most remarkable. 

The famous Bewcastle Cross stands in the most northern 
corner of the county of Cumberland. Only the shaft 
remains. In its complete condition it must have been at 
least twenty-one feet high. A runic inscription on the 
west side records that it was erected "in memory of 
Alchfrith lately king" of Northumbria. He was the son 
of Oswy, the friend and patron of St. Wilfrid, who loved 
art so much that he brought workmen from Italy to build 
churches and carve stone, and he decided in favour of 
the Roman party at the famous Synod of Whitby. On 
the south side the runes tell that the cross was erected in 
i 'the first year of Ecgfrith, King of this realm," who 
began to reign 670 a.d. On the west side are three 
panels containing deeply incised figures, the lowest one 
of which has on his wrist a hawk, an emblem of nobility; 
the other three sides are filled with interlacing, floriated, 
and geometrical ornament. Bishop Browne believes 
that these scrolls and interlacings had their origin in 
Lombardy and not in Ireland, that they were Italian 



CROSSES 289 

and not Celtic, and that the same sort of designs 
were used in the southern land early in the seventh 
century, whence they were brought by Wilfrid to this 
country. 

Another remarkable cross is that of Ruthwell, now 
sheltered from wind and weather in the Durham Cathedral 
Museum. It is very similar to that at Bewcastle, though 
probably not wrought by the same hands. In the panels 
are sculptures representing events in the life of our Lord. 
The lowest panel is too defaced for us to determine the 
subject ; on the second we see the flight into Egypt ; on 
the third figures of Paul, the first hermit, and Anthony, 
the first monk, are carved ; on the fourth is a representa- 
tion of our Lord treading under foot the heads of swine ; 
and on the highest there is the figure of St. John the 
Baptist with the lamb. On the reverse side are the 
Annunciation, the Salutation, and other scenes of gospel 
history, and the other sides are covered with floral 
and other decoration. In addition to the figures there 
are five stanzas of an Anglo-Saxon poem of singular 
beauty expressed in runes. It is the story of the Cruci- 
fixion told in touching words by the cross itself, which 
narrates its own sad tale from the time when it was a 
growing tree by the woodside until at length, after the 
body of the Lord had been taken down — 

The warriors left me there 
Standing' defiled with blood. 

On the head of the cross are inscribed the words 
" Caedmon made me" — Ccedmon the first of English 
poets who poured forth his songs in praise of Almighty 
God and told in Saxon poetry the story of the Creation 
and of the life of our Lord. 

Another famous cross is that at Gosforth, which is of 
a much later date and of a totally different character from 
those which we have described. The carvings show that 
it is not Anglian, but that it is connected with Viking 
thought and work. On it is inscribed the story of 

19 



2 go VANISHING ENGLAND 

one of the sagas, the wild legends of the Norsemen, 
preserved by their scalds or bards, and handed down from 
generation to generation as the precious traditions of their 
race. On the west side we see Heimdal, the brave watch- 
man of the gods, with his sword withstanding the powers 
of evil, and holding in his left hand the Gialla horn, 
the terrible blast of which shook the world. He is over- 
throwing Hel, the grim goddess of the shades of death, 
who is riding on the pale horse. Below we see Loki, the 
murderer of the holy Baldur, the blasphemer of the gods, 
bound by strong chains to the sharp edges of a rock, 
while as a punishment for his crimes a snake drops 
poison upon his face, making him yell with pain, and the 
earth quakes with his convulsive tremblings. His faithful 
wife Sigyn catches the poison in a cup, but when the 
vessel is full she is obliged to empty it, and then a drop 
falls on the forehead of Loki, the destroyer, and the earth 
shakes on account of his writhings. The continual con- 
flict between good and evil is wonderfully described in 
these old Norse legends. On the reverse side we see the 
triumph of Christianity, a representation of the Cruci- 
fixion, and beneath this the woman bruising the serpent's 
head. In the former sculptures the monster is shown 
with two heads ; here it has only one, and that is being 
destroyed. Christ is conquering the powers of evil on 
the cross. In another fragment at Gosforth we see Thor 
fishing for the Midgard worm, the offspring of Loki, 
a serpent cast into the sea which grows continually and 
threatens the world with destruction. A bull's head is 
the bait which Thor uses, but fearing for the safety of 
his boat, he has cut the fishing-line and released the 
monstrous worm ; giant whales sport in the sea which 
afford pastime to the mighty Thor. Such are some of 
the strange tales which these crosses tell. 

There is an old Viking legend inscribed on the cross 
at Leeds. Volund, who is the same mysterious person 
as our Wayland Smith, is seen carrying off a swan- 
maiden. At his feet are his hammer, anvil, bellows, and 



CROSSES 291 

pincers. The cross was broken to pieces in order to make 
way for the building of the old Leeds church hundreds of 
years ago, but the fragments have been pieced together, 
and we can see the swan-maiden carried above the head of 
Volund, her wings hanging down and held by two ropes 
that encircle her waist. The smith holds her by her back 
hair and by the tail of her dress. There were formerly 
several other crosses which have been broken up and used 
as building material. 

At Halton, Lancashire, there is a curious cross of 
inferior workmanship, but it records the curious min- 
gling of Pagan and Christian ideas and the triumph of 
the latter over the Viking deities. On one side we see 
emblems of the Four Evangelists and the figures of 
saints ; on the other are scenes from the Sigurd legend. 
Sigurd sits at the anvil with hammer and tongs and 
bellows, forging a sword. Above him is shown the 
magic blade completed, with hammer and tongs, while 
Fafni writhes in the knotted throes that everywhere 
signify his death. Sigurd is seen toasting Fafni's heart 
on a spit. He has placed the spit on a rest, and is turn- 
ing it with one hand, while flames ascend from the 
faggots beneath. He has burnt his finger and is put- 
ting it to his lips. Above are the interlacing boughs of 
a sacred tree, and sharp eyes may detect the talking pies 
that perch thereon, to which Sigurd is listening. On one 
side we see the noble horse Grani coming riderless 
home to tell the tale of Sigurd's death, and above is the 
pit with its crawling snakes that yawns for Gunnar and 
for all the wicked whose fate is to be turned into hell. 
On the south side are panels filled with a floriated design 
representing the vine and twisted knot-work rope orna- 
mentation. On the west is a tall Resurrection cross 
with figures on each side, and above a winged and seated 
figure with two others in a kneeling posture. Possibly 
these represent the two Marys kneeling before the angel 
seated on the stone of the holy sepulchre on the morning 
of the Resurrection of our Lord. 



292 VANISHING ENGLAND 

A curious cross has at last found safety after many 
vicissitudes in Hornby Church, Lancashire. It is one 
of the most beautiful fragments of Anglian work that 
has come down to modern times. One panel shows a 
representation of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. 
At the foot are shown the two fishes and the five loaves 
carved in bold relief. A conventional tree springs from 
the central loaf, and on each side is a nimbed figure. 
The carving is still so sharp and crisp that it is difficult 
to realize that more than a thousand years have elapsed 
since the sculptor finished his task. 

It would be a pleasant task to wander through all the 
English counties and note all pre-Norman crosses that 
remain in many a lonely churchyard ; but such a lengthy 
journey and careful study are too extended for our present 
purpose. Some of them were memorials of deceased 
persons ; others, as we have seen, were erected by the 
early missionaries ; but preaching crosses were erected 
and used in much later times ; and we will now examine 
some of the medieval examples which time has spared, 
and note the various uses to which they were adapted. 
The making of graves has often caused the undermining 
and premature fall of crosses and monuments; hence early 
examples of churchyard crosses have often passed away 
and medieval ones been erected in their place. Church- 
yard crosses were always placed at the south side of the 
church, and always faced the east. The carving and 
ornamentation naturally follow the style of architecture 
prevalent at the period of their erection. They had their 
uses for ceremonial and liturgical purposes, processions 
being made to them on Palm Sunday, and it is stated in 
Young's History of Whitby that "devotees creeped to- 
wards them and kissed them on Good Fridays, so that a 
cross was considered as a necessary appendage to every 
cemetery." Preaching crosses were also erected in dis- 
tant parts of large parishes in the days when churches 
were few, and sometimes market crosses were used for 
this purpose. 






CROSSES 293 

WAYSIDE OR WEEPING CROSSES 

Along the roads of England stood in ancient times 
many a roadside or weeping cross. Their purpose is 
well set forth in the work Dives et Pauper, printed at 
Westminster in 1496. Therein it is stated: "For this 
reason ben ye crosses by ye way, that when folk passynge 
see the crosses, they sholde thynke on Hym that deyed 
on the crosse, and worshyppe Hym above all things." 
Along the pilgrim ways doubtless there were many, and 
near villages and towns formerly they stood, but un- 
happily they made such convenient gate-posts when the 
head was knocked off. Fortunately several have been 
rescued and restored. It was a very general custom to 
erect these wayside crosses along the roads leading to an 
old parish church for the convenience of funerals. There 
were no hearses in those days ; hence the coffin had to be 
carried a long way, and the roads were bad, and bodies 
heavy, and the bearers were not sorry to find frequent 
resting-places, and the mourners' hearts were comforted 
by constant prayer as they passed along the long, sad 
road with their dear ones for the last time. These way- 
side crosses, or weeping crosses, were therefore of great 
practical utility. Many of the old churches in Lancashire 
were surrounded by a group of crosses, arranged in 
radiating lines along the converging roads, and at suit- 
able distances for rest. You will find such ranges of 
crosses in the parishes of Aughton, Ormskirk, and Burs- 
cough Priory, and at each a prayer for the soul of the 
departed was offered or the De profit 11 d is sung. Every 
one is familiar with the famous Eleanor crosses erected by 
King Edward I to mark the spots where the body of his 
beloved Queen rested when it was being borne on its last 
sad pilgrimage to Westminster Abbey. 

MARKET CROSSES 
Market crosses form an important section of our sub- 
ject, and are an interesting feature of the old market- 
places wherein they stand. Mr. Gomme contends that 



294 VANISHING ENGLAND 

they were the ancient meeting-places of the local assem- 
blies, and we know that for centuries in many towns they 
have been the rallying-points for the inhabitants. Here 
fairs were proclaimed, and are still in some old-fashioned 
places, beginning with the quaint formula "O yes, 
O yes, O yes ! " a strange corruption of the old Norman- 
French word oyez, meaning "Hear ye." I have printed 
in my book English Villages a very curious proclamation 
of a fair and market which was read a few years ago at 
Broughton-in-Furness by the steward of the lord of the 
manor from the steps of the old market cross. Very 
comely and attractive structures are many of these ancient 
crosses. They vary very much in different parts of 
the country and according to the period in which they 
were erected. The earliest are simple crosses with steps. 
Later on they had niches for sculptured figures, and then 
in the southern shires a kind of penthouse, usually 
octagonal in shape, enclosed the cross, in order to pro- 
vide shelter from the weather for the market-folk. In the 
north the hardy Yorkshiremen and Lancastrians recked 
not for rain and storms, and few covered-in crosses can be 
found. You will find some beautiful specimens of these 
at Malmesbury, Chichester, Somerton, Shepton Mallet, 
Cheddar, Axbridge, Nether Stowey, Dunster, South 
Petherton, Banwell, and other places. 

Salisbury market cross, of which we give an illustra- 
tion, is remarkable for its fine and elaborate Gothic 
architectural features, its numerous niches and foliated 
pinnacles. At one time a sun-dial and ball crowned the 
structure, but these have been replaced by a cross. It is 
usually called the Poultry Cross. Near it and in other 
parts of the city are quaint overhanging houses. Though 
the Guildhall has vanished, destroyed in the eighteenth 
century, the Joiners' Hall, the Tailors' Hall, the meeting- 
places of the old guilds, the Hall of John Halle, and the 
Old George are still standing with some of their features 
modified, but not sufficiently altered to deprive them of 
interest. 







^^Sf^H^ 









'.«£>• - 






red V~^o«_ 



296 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Sometimes you will find above a cross an overhead 
chamber, which was used for the storing of market 
appurtenances. The reeve of the lord of the manor, or 
if the town was owned by a monastery, or the market and 
fair had been granted to a religious house, the abbot's 
official sat in this covered place to receive dues from the 
merchants or stall-holders. 

There are no less than two hundred old crosses in 
Somerset, many of them fifteenth-century work. Saxon 
crosses exist at Rowberrow and Kelston ; a twelfth- 
century cross at Harptree ; Early English crosses at 
Chilton Trinity, Dunster, and Broomfield ; Decorated 
crosses at Williton, Wiveliscombe, Bishops-Lydeard, 
Chewton Mendip, and those at Sutton Bingham and 
Wraghall are fifteenth century. But not all these are 
market crosses. The south-west district of England is 
particularly rich in these relics of ancient piety, but many 
have been allowed to disappear. Glastonbury market 
cross, a fine Perpendicular structure with a roof, was 
taken down in 1808, and a new one with no surrounding 
arcade was erected in 1846. The old one bore the arms 
of Richard Bere, abbot of Glastonbury, who died in 
1524. The wall of an adjacent house has a piece of stone 
carving representing a man and a woman clasping hands, 
and tradition asserts that this formed part of the original 
cross. Together with the cross was an old conduit, which 
frequently accompanied the market cross. Cheddar 
Cross is surrounded by its battlemented arcade with 
grotesque gargoyles, a later erection, the shaft going 
through the roof. Taunton market cross was erected in 
1867 in place of a fifteenth-century structure destroyed 
in 1780. On its steps the Duke of Monmouth was pro- 
claimed king, and from the window of the Old Angel 
Inn Judge Jeffreys watched with pleasure the hanging 
of the deluded followers of the duke from the tie-beams 
of the Market Arcade. Dunster market cross is known 
as the Yarn Market, and was erected in 1600 by George 
Luttrell, sheriff of the county of Somerset. The town 



CROSSES 297 

was famous for its kersey cloths, sometimes called 
" Dunsters," which were sold under the shade of this 
structure. 

Wymondham, in the county of Norfolk, standing on 
the high road between Norwich and London, has a fine 
market cross erected in 161 7. A great fire raged here in 
161 5, when three hundred houses were destroyed, and 
probably the old cross vanished with them, and this one 
was erected to supply its place. 

The old cross at Wells, built by William Knight, 
bishop of Bath in 1542, was taken down in 1783. Leland 
states that it was "a right sumptuous Peace of worke." 
Over the vaulted roof was the Domus Civica or town hall. 
The tolls of the market were devoted to the support of 
the choristers of Wells Cathedral. Leland also records 
a market cross at Bruton which had six arches and a 
pillar in the middle "for market folkes to stande yn." 
It was built by the last abbot of Bruton in 1533, and was 
destroyed in 1790. Bridgwater Cross was removed in 
1820, and Milverton in 1850. Happily the inhabitants of 
some towns and villages were not so easily deprived 
of their ancient crosses, and the people of Croscombe, 
Somerset, deserve great credit for the spirited manner in 
which they opposed the demolition of their cross about 
thirty years ago. 

Witney Butter Cross, Oxon, the town whence blankets 
come, has a central pillar which stands on three 
steps, the superstructure being supported on thirteen 
circular pillars. An inscription on the lantern above 
records the following: — 

GULIEIMUS BLAKE 

Armiger de Coggs 

1683 

Restored i860 

1889 

1894 

It has a steep roof, gabled and stone-slated, which is 



298 VANISHING ENGLAND 

not improved by the pseudo-Gothic barge-boards, added 
during the restorations. 

Many historical events of great importance have taken 
place at these market crosses which have been so hardly 
used. Kings were always proclaimed here at their 
accession, and would-be kings have also shared that 
honour. Thus at Lancaster in 1715 the Pretender was 
proclaimed king as James III, and, as we have stated, 
the Duke of Monmouth was proclaimed king at Taunton 
and Bridgwater. Charles II received that honour at 
Lancaster market cross in 165 1, nine years before he 
ruled. Banns of marriage were published here in Crom- 
well's time, and these crosses have witnessed all the cruel 
punishments which were inflicted on delinquents in the 
" good old days." The last step of the cross was often 
well worn, as it was the seat of the culprits who sat in 
the stocks. Stocks, whipping-posts, and pillories, of 
which we shall have much to say, always stood nigh 
the cross, and as late as 1822 a poor wretch was tied 
to a cart-wheel at the Colne Cross, Lancashire, and 
whipped. 

Sometimes the cross is only a cross in name, and an 
obelisk has supplanted the Christian symbol. The change 
is deemed to be attributable to the ideas of some of the 
Reformers who desired to assert the supremacy of the 
Crown over the Church. Hence they placed an orb on 
the top of the obelisk surmounted by a small, plain Latin 
cross, and later on a large crown took the place of the 
orb and cross. At Grantham the Earl of Dysart erected 
an obelisk which has an inscription stating that it occu- 
pies the site of the Grantham Eleanor cross. This is 
a strange error, as this cross stood on an entirely different 
site on St. Peter's Hill and was destroyed by Cromwell's 
troopers. The obelisk replaced the old market cross, 
which was regarded with much affection and reverence 
by the inhabitants, who in 1779, when it was taken down 
by the lord of the manor, immediately obtained a manda- 
mus for its restoration. The Mayor and Corporation still 




UpAliitf- 



300 VANISHING ENGLAND 

proclaim the Lent Fair in quaint and archaic language at 
this poor substitute for the old cross. 

One of the uses of the market cross was to inculcate 
the sacredness of bargains. There is a curious stone 
erection in the market-place at Middleham, Yorkshire, 
which seems to have taken the place of the market cross 
and to have taught the same truth. It consists of a plat- 
form on which are two pillars ; one carries the effigy of 
some animal in a kneeling posture, resembling a sheep 
or a cow, the other supports an octagonal object tradition- 
ally supposed to represent a cheese. The farmers used 
to walk up the opposing flights of steps when concluding 
a bargain and shake hands over the sculptures. 1 

BOUNDARY CROSSES 

Crosses marked in medieval times the boundaries of 
ecclesiastical properties, which by this sacred symbol 
were thus protected from encroachment and spoliation. 
County boundaries were also marked by crosses and 
meare stones. The seven crosses of Oldham marked the 
estate owned by the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. 

CROSSES AT CROSS-ROADS AND HOLY 

WELLS 

Where roads meet and many travellers passed a cross 
was often erected. It was a wayside or weeping cross. 
There pilgrims knelt to implore divine aid for their 
journey and protection from outlaws and robbers, from 
accidents and sudden death. At holy wells the cross 
was set in order to remind the frequenters of the sacred- 
ness of the springs and to wean them from all super- 
stitious thoughts and pagan customs. Sir Walter Scott 
alludes to this connexion of the cross and well in 
Marmion, when he tells of "a little fountain cell " bearing 
the legend : — 

Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and pray 
For the kind soul of Sybil Grey, 
Who built this cross and well. 

1 Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, by Henry Taylor, F.S.A. 



CROSSES 301 

11 In the corner of a field on the Billington Hall Farm, 
just outside the parish of Haughton, there lies the base, 
with a portion of the shaft, of a fourteenth-century way- 
side cross. It stands within ten feet of an old disused 
lane leading from Billington to Bradley. Common re- 
port pronounced it to be an old font. Report states that 
it was said to be a stone dropped out of a cart as the 
stones from Billington Chapel were being conveyed 
to Bradley to be used in building its churchyard wall. 
A superstitious veneration has always attached to it. A 
former owner of the property wrote as follows: ' The late 
Mr. Jackson, who was a very superstitious man, once told 
me that a former tenant of the farm, whilst ploughing the 
field, pulled up the stone, and the same day his team of 
wagon-horses was all drowned. He then put it into the 
same place again, and all went on right ; and that he 
himself would not have it disturbed upon any account.' 
A similar legend is attached to another cross. Cross 
Llywydd, near Raglan, called The White Cross, which is 
still complete, and has evidently been whitewashed, was 
moved by a man from its base at some cross-roads to his 
garden. From that time he had no luck and all his 
animals died. He attributed this to his sacrilegious act 
and removed it to a piece of waste ground. The next 
owner afterwards enclosed the waste with the cross stand- 
ing in it. 

"The Haughton Cross is only a fragment — almost pre- 
cisely similar to a fragment at Butleigh, in Somerset, of 
early fourteenth-century date. The remaining part is 
clearly the top stone of the base, measuring 2 ft. ih in. 
square by 1 ft. 6 in. high, and the lowest portion of the 
shaft sunk into it, and measuring 1 ft. 1 in. square by 
10^ in. high. Careful excavation showed that the stone 
is probably still standing on its original site." 1 

"There is in the same parish, where there are four cross- 
roads, a place known as 'The White Cross.' Not a 
vestige of a stone remains. But on a slight mound at 
the crossing stands a venerable oak, now dying. In 
Monmouthshire oaks have often been so planted on the 
sites of crosses; and in some cases the bases of the 
crosses still remain. There are in that county about 
thirty sites of such crosses, and in seventeen some stones 
still exist ; and probably there are many more unknown 

1 A paper read before the Penkside Clerical Society, by G. T. Royds, 
Rector of Haughton and Rural Dean of Stafford. 



3 o2 VANISHING ENGLAND 

to the antiquary, but hidden away in corners of old paths, 
and in field-ways, and in ditches that used to serve as 
roads. A question of great interest arises. What were 
the origin and use of these wayside crosses? and why 
were so many of them, especially at cross-roads, known 
as 'The White Cross'? At Abergavenny a cross stood 
at cross-roads. There is a White Cross Street in London 
and one in Monmouth, where a cross stood. Were these 
planted by the White Cross Knights (the Knights of 
Malta, or of S. John of Jerusalem)? Or are they the 
work of the Carmelite, or White, Friars? There is good 
authority for the general idea that they were often used 
as preaching stations, or as praying stations, as is so 
frequently the case in Brittany. But did they at cross- 
roads in any way serve the purpose of the modern sign- 
post? They are certainly of very early origin. The author 
of Ecclesiastical Polity says that the erection of way- 
side crosses was a very ancient practice. Chrysostom 
says that they were common in his time. Eusebius says 
that their building was begun by Constantine the Great 
to eradicate paganism. Juvenal states that a shapeless 
post, with a marble head of Mercury on it, was erected at 
cross-roads to point out the way ; and Eusebius says that 
wherever Constantine found a statue of Bivialia (the 
Roman goddess who delivered from straying from the 
path), or of Mercurius Triceps (who served the same kind 
purpose for the Greeks), he pulled it down and had a 
cross placed upon the site. If, then, these cross-road 
crosses of later medieval times also had something to do 
with directions for the way, another source of the designa- 
tion ' White Cross ' is by no means to be laughed out of 
court, viz. that they were whitewashed, and thus more 
prominent objects by day, and especially by night. It is 
quite certain that many of them were whitewashed, for 
the remains of this may still be seen on them. And the 
use of whitewash or plaister was far more usual in 
England than is generally known. There is no doubt 
that the whole of the outside of the abbey church of 
St. Albans, and of White Castle, from top to base, were 
coated with whitewash." 1 

Whether they were whitened or not, or whether they 
served as guide-posts or stations for prayer, it is well 
that they should be carefully preserved and restored as 

1 Ibid. 



CROSSES 303 

memorials of the faith of our forefathers, and for the 
purpose of raising the heart of the modern pilgrim to 
Christ, the Saviour of men. 

SANCTUARY CROSSES 

When criminals sought refuge in ancient sanctuaries, 
such as Durham, Beverley, Ripon, Manchester, and other 
places which provided the privilege, having claimed 
sanctuary and been provided with a distinctive dress, 
they were allowed to wander within certain prescribed 
limits. At Beverley Minster the fugitive from justice 
could wander with no fear of capture to a distance extend- 
ing a mile from the church in all directions. Richly 
carved crosses marked the limit of the sanctuary. A 
peculiar reverence for the cross protected the fugitives 
from violence if they kept within the bounds. In Cheshire, 
in the wild region of Delamere Forest, there are several 
ancient crosses erected for the convenience of travellers; 
and under their shadows they were safe from robbery and 
violence at the hands of outlaws, who always respected 
the reverence attached to these symbols of Christianity. 

CROSSES AS GUIDE-POSTS 

In wild moorland and desolate hills travellers often lost 
their way. Hence crosses were set up to guide them 
along the trackless heaths. They were as useful as sign- 
posts, and conveyed an additional lesson. You will find 
such crosses in the desolate country on the borderland of 
Yorkshire and Lancashire. They were usually placed on 
the summit of hills. In Buckinghamshire there are two 
crosses cut in the turf on a spur of the Chilterns, White- 
leaf and Bledlow crosses, which were probably marks for 
the direction of travellers through the wild and dangerous 
woodlands, though popular tradition connects them with 
the memorials of ancient battles between the Saxons and 
Danes. 

From time out of mind crosses have been the rallying 
point for the discussion of urgent public affairs. It was 



3 o4 VANISHING ENGLAND 

so in London. Paul's Cross was the constant meeting- 
place of the citizens of London whenever they were 
excited by oppressive laws, the troublesome competition 
of "foreigners," or any attempt to interfere with their 
privileges and liberties. The meetings of the shire or 
hundred moots took place often at crosses, or other con- 
spicuous or well-known objects. Hundreds were named 
after them, such as the hundred of Faircross in Berkshire, 
of Singlecross in Sussex, Normancross in Huntingdon- 
shire, and Brothercross and Guiltcross, or Gyldecross, in 
Norfolk. 

Stories and legends have clustered around them. There 
is the famous Stump Cross in Cheshire, the subject of one 
of Nixon's prophecies. It is supposed to be sinking into 
the ground. When it reaches the level of the earth the 
end of the world will come. A romantic story is associated 
with Mab's Cross, in Wigan, Lancashire. Sir William 
Bradshaigh was a great warrior, and went crusading for 
ten years, leaving his beautiful wife, Mabel, alone at 
Haigh Hall. A dastard Welsh knight compelled her to 
marry him, telling her that her husband was dead, and 
treated her cruelly ; but Sir William came back to the hall 
disguised as a palmer. Mabel, seeing in him some resem- 
blance to her former husband, wept sore, and was beaten 
by the Welshman. Sir William made himself known to 
his tenants, and raising a troop, marched to the hall. 
The Welsh knight fled, but Sir William followed him 
and slew him at Newton, for which act he was outlawed a 
year and a day. The lady was enjoined by her confessor 
to do penance by going once a week, bare-footed and 
bare-legged, to a cross near Wigan, two miles from the 
hall, and it is called Mab's Cross to this day. You can 
see in Wigan Church the monument of Sir William and 
his lady, which tells this sad story, and also the cross — at 
least, all that remains of it— the steps, a pedestal, and 
part of the shaft— in Standisgate, "to witness if I lie." 
It is true that Sir William was born ten years after the 
last of the crusades had ended ; but what does that 



CROSSES 305 

matter? He was probably righting for his king, Ed- 
ward II, against the Scots, or he was languishing a 
prisoner in some dungeon. There was plenty of fighting 
in those days for those who loved it, and where was the 
Englishman then who did not love to fight for his king 
and country, or seek for martial glory in other lands, 
if an ungrateful country did not provide him with enough 
work for his good sword and ponderous lance ? 

Such are some of the stories that cluster round these 
crosses. It is a sad pity that so many should have been 
allowed to disappear. More have fallen owing to the indif- 
ference and apathy of the people of England in the eigh- 
teenth and nineteenth centuries than to the wanton and 
iconoclastic destruction of the Puritans. They are holy 
relics of primitive Christianity. On the lonely mountain- 
sides the tired traveller found in them a guide and friend, 
a director of his ways and an uplifter of his soul. In the 
busy market-place they reminded the trader of the sacred- 
ness of bargains and of the duty of honest dealing. Holy 
truths were proclaimed from their steps. They connected 
by a close and visible bond religious duties with daily 
life ; and not only as objects of antiquarian interest, but 
as memorials of the religious feelings, habits, and customs 
of our forefathers, are they worthy of careful preservation. 



20 



CHAPTER XIII 

STOCKS, WHIPPING-POSTS, AND OLD- 
TIME PUNISHMENTS 

NEAR the village cross almost invariably stood 
the parish stocks, instruments of rude justice, 
the use of which has only just passed away. 
The "oldest inhabitant" can remember well the old 
stocks standing in the village green and can tell of the 
men who suffered in them. Many of these instruments 
of torture still remain, silent witnesses of old-time ways. 
You can find them in multitudes of remote villages in all 
parts of the country, and vastly uncomfortable it must 
have been to have one's " feet set in the stocks." A well- 
known artist who delights in painting monks a few years 
ago placed the portly model who usually "sat" for him 
in the village stocks of Sulham, Berkshire, and painted 
a picture of the monk in disgrace. The model declared 
that he was never so uncomfortable in his life and his legs 
and back ached for weeks afterwards. To make the 
penalty more realistic the artist might have prevailed 
upon some village urchins to torment the sufferer by 
throwing stones, refuse, or garbage at him, some village 
maids to mock and jeer at him, and some mischievous 
men to distract his ears with inharmonious sounds. In 
an old print of two men in the stocks I have seen a mali- 
cious wretch scraping piercing noises out of a fiddle and 
the victims trying to drown the hideous sounds by putting 
their fingers into their ears. A few hours in the stocks 
was no light penalty. 

These stocks have a venerable history. They date 

^06 



STOCKS, WHIPPING-POSTS 307 

back to Saxon times and appear in drawings of that 
period. It is a pity that they should be destroyed ; but 
borough corporations decide that they interfere with the 
traffic of a utilitarian age and relegate them to a museum 
or doom them to be cut up as faggots. Country folk 
think nothing of antiquities, and a local estate agent or 
the village publican will make away with this relic of 
antiquity and give the "old rubbish" to Widow Smith 
for firing. Hence a large number have disappeared, 
and it is wonderful that so many have hitherto escaped. 
Let the eyes of squires and local antiquaries be ever 
on the watch lest those that remain are allowed to vanish. 
By ancient law 1 every town or village was bound to 
provide a pair of stocks. It was a sign of dignity, and if 
the village had this seat for malefactors, a constable, and 
a pound for stray cattle, it could not be mistaken for 
a mere hamlet. The stocks have left their mark on Eng- 
lish literature. Shakespeare frequently alludes to them. 
Falstaff, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, says that but 
for his ' ' admirable dexterity of wit the knave constable had 
set me i' the stocks, i' the common stocks." " What needs 
all that and a pair of stocks in the town," says Luce in the 
Comedy of Errors. ''Like silly beggars, who sitting in 
stocks refuge their shame," occurs in Richard II ; and in 
King Lear Cornwall exclaims — 

" Ketch forth the stocks ! 
You stubborn ancient knave.'' 

Who were the culprits who thus suffered? Falstaff 
states that he only just escaped the punishment of being 
set in the stocks for a witch. Witches usually received 
severer justice, but stocks were often used for keeping 
prisoners safe until they were tried and condemned, and 
possibly Shakespeare alludes in this passage only to the 
preliminaries of a harsher ordeal. Drunkards were the 
common defaulters who appeared in the stocks, and by an 
Act of 2 James I they were required to endure six hours' 

1 Act of Parliament, 1405. 



308 VANISHING ENGLAND 

incarceration with a fine of five shillings. Vagrants 
always received harsh treatment unless they had a licence, 
and the corporation records of Hungerford reveal the 
fact that they were always placed in the pillory and 
whipped. The stocks, pillory, and whipping-post were 
three different implements of punishment, but, as was 
the case at Wallingford, Berkshire, they were sometimes 
allied and combined. The stocks secured the feet, the 
pillory "held in durance vile" the head and the hands, 
while the whipping-post imprisoned the hands only by 
clamps on the sides of the post. In the constable's 
accounts of Hungerford we find such items as : — 

" Pd for cheeke and brace for the pillory 00,02,00 

Pd for mending the pillory . . 00,00,06 

Pd the Widow Tanner for iron geare for 

the whipping post . . . 00,03,06" 

Whipping was a very favourite pastime at this old 
Berkshire town ; this entry will suffice : — 

" Pd to John Savidge for his extra- 
ordinary paines this yeare and 
whipping of severall persons . 00,05,00" 

John Savidge was worthy of his name, but the good folks 
of Hungerford tempered mercy with justice and usually 
gave a monetary consolation to those who suffered from 
the lash. Thus we read : — 

" Gave a poore man that was whipped 
and sent from Tythinge to Tyth- 
inge .... 00,00,04" 

Women were whipped at Hungerford, as we find that 
the same John Savidge received 2d. for whipping Dorothy 
Millar. All this was according to law. The first Whip- 
ping Act was passed in 1530 when Henry VIII reigned, 
and according to this barbarous piece of legislation the 
victim was stripped naked and tied to a cart-tail, dragged 
through the streets of the town, and whipped "till his 
body was bloody." In Elizabeth's time the cart-tail went 



STOCKS, WHIPPING-POSTS 309 

out of fashion and a whipping-post was substituted, and 
only the upper part of the body was exposed. The tramp 
question was as troublesome in the seventeenth century as 
it is to-day. We confine them in workhouse-cells and 
make them break stones or pick oakum ; whipping was 
the solution adopted by our forefathers. We have seen 
John Savidge wielding his whip, which still exists among 
the curiosities at Hungerford. At Barnsley in 1632 
Edward Wood was paid iiijd. ''for whiping of three 
wanderers." Ten years earlier Richard White received 
only iid. for performing the like service for six wanderers. 
Mr. W. Andrews has collected a vast store of curious anec- 
dotes on the subject of whippings, recorded in his Bygone 
Punishments, to which the interested reader is referred. 
The story he tells of the brutality of Judge Jeffreys may 
be repeated. This infamous and inhuman judge sen- 
tenced a woman to be whipped, and said, " Hangman, I 
charge you to pay particular attention to this lady. 
Scourge her soundly, man ; scourge her till her blood 
runs down ! It is Christmas, a cold time for madam to 
strip. See that you warm her shoulders thoroughly." It 
was not until 1791 that the whipping of female vagrants 
was expressly forbidden by Act of Parliament. 

Stocks have been used in quite recent times. So late 
as 1872, at Newbury, one Mark Tuck, a devoted disciple of 
John Barleycorn, suffered this penalty for his misdeeds. 1 
He was a rag and bone dealer, and knew well the inside 
of Reading jail. Notes and Queries- contains an account 
of the proceedings, and states that he was "fixed in the 
stocks for drunkenness and disorderly conduct in the 
Parish Church on Monday evening." Twenty-six years 
had elapsed since the stocks were last used, and their re- 
appearance created no little sensation and amusement, 
several hundreds of persons being attracted to the spot 
where they were fixed. Tuck was seated on a stool, and 
his legs were secured in the stocks at a few minutes past 

1 Hislory oj Ilungerjord, by W. Money, p. 38. 
3 Nolcs and Queries, 4th series, X, p. 6. 



310 VANISHING ENGLAND 

one o'clock, and as the church clock, immediately facing 
him, chimed each quarter, he uttered expressions of 
thankfulness, and seemed anything but pleased at the 
laughter and derision of the crowd. Four hours having 
passed, Tuck was released, and by a little stratagem on 
the part of the police he escaped without being interfered 
with by the crowd. 

Sunday drinking during divine service provided in 
many places victims for the stocks. So late as half a cen- 
tury ago it was the custom for the churchwardens to go 
out of church during the morning service on Sundays 
and visit the public-houses to see if any persons were 
tippling there, and those found in flagrante delicto were 
immediately placed in the stocks. So arduous did the 
churchwardens find this duty that they felt obliged to 
regale themselves at the alehouses while they made their 
tour of inspection, and thus rendered themselves liable to 
the punishment which they inflicted on others. Mr. 
Rigbye, postmaster at Croston, Lancashire, who was 
seventy-three years of age in 1899, remembered these 
Sunday-morning searches, and had seen drunkards 
sitting in the stocks, which were fixed near the southern 
step of the village cross. Mr. Rigbye, when a boy, 
helped to pull down the stocks, which were then much 
dilapidated. A certain Richard Cottam, called " Cockle 
Dick," was the last man seen in them. 1 

The same morning perambulating of ale-houses was 
carried on at Skipton, the churchwardens being headed 
by the old beadle, an imposing personage, who wore a 
cocked hat and an official coat trimmed with gold, and 
carried in majestic style a trident staff, a terror to evil- 
doers, at least to those of tender years. 2 At Beverley the 
stocks still preserved in the minster were used as late as 
1853 ; Jim Brigham, guilty of Sunday tippling, and dis- 

1 Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, by H. Taylor, F.S.A., 

P- 37- 

2 History of Skipton, W. H. Dawson, quoted in Bygone Punishments, 

p. 199. 



STOCKS, WHIPPING-POSTS 311 

covered by the churchwardens in their rounds, was the 
last victim. Some sympathizer placed in his mouth a 
lighted pipe of tobacco, but the constable in charge 
hastily snatched it away. James Gambles, for gambling 
on Sunday, was confined in the Stanningley stocks, 
Yorkshire, for six hours in i860. The stocks and village 
well remain still at Standish, near the cross, and also the 
stone cheeks of those at Eccleston Green bearing the date 
1656. At Shore Cross, near Birkdale, the stocks remain, 
also the iron ones at Thornton, Lancashire, described in 
Mrs. Blundell's novel In a North Country Village; also 
at Formby they exist, though somewhat dilapidated. 

Whether by accident or design, the stocks frequently 
stand close to the principal inn in a village. As they 
were often used for the correction of the intemperate 
their presence was doubtless intended as a warning to 
the frequenters of the hostelry not to indulge too freely. 
Indeed, the sight of the stocks, pillory, and whipping- 
post must have been a useful deterrent to vice. An old 
writer states that he knew of the case of a young man 
who was about to annex a silver spoon, but on looking 
round and seeing the whipping-post he relinquished his 
design. The writer asserts that though it lay imme- 
diately in the high road to the gallows, it had stopped 
many an adventurous young man in his progress thither. 

The ancient Lancashire town of Poulton-in-the-Fylde 
has a fairly complete set of primitive punishment imple- 
ments. Close to the cross stand the stocks with massive 
ironwork, the criminals, as usual, having been accustomed 
to sit on the lowest step of the cross, and on the other 
side of the cross is the rogue's whipping-post, a stone 
pillar about eight feet high, on the sides of which are 
hooks to which the culprit was fastened. Between this 
and the cross stands another useful feature of a Lan- 
cashire market-place, the fish stones, an oblong raised 
slab for the display and sale of fish. 

In several places we find that movable stocks were in 
use, which could be brought out whenever occasion 



i2 VANISHING ENGLAND 



required. A set of these exists at Garstang, Lancashire. 
The quotation already given from King Lear, " Fetch 
forth the stocks," seems to imply that in Shakespeare's 
time they were movable. Beverley stocks were movable, 
and in A r otes and Queries we find an account of a mob 
at Shrewsbury dragging around the town in the 
stocks an incorrigible rogue one Samuel Tisdale in the 
year 1851. 

The Rochdale stocks remain, but they are now in the 
churchyard, having been removed from the place where 
the markets were formerly held at Church Stile. When 
these kind of objects have once disappeared it is rarely 
that they are ever restored. However, at West Derby 
this unusual event has occurred, and five years ago the 
restoration was made. It appears that in the village 
there was an ancient pound or pinfold which had de- 
generated into an unsightly dust-heap, and the old stocks 
had passed into private hands. The inhabitants resolved 
to turn the untidy corner into a garden, and the lady 
gave back the stocks to the village. An inscription 
records: "To commemorate the long and happy reign 
of Queen Victoria and the coronation of King Edward VII, 
the site of the ancient pound of the Dukes of Lancaster 
and other lords of the manor of West Derby was en- 
closed and planted, and the village stocks set therein. 
Easter, 1904." 

This inscription records another item of vanishing 
England. Before the Inclosure Acts at the beginning of 
the last century there were in all parts of the country 
large stretches of unfenced land, and cattle often strayed 
far from their homes and presumed to graze on the open 
common lands of other villages. Each village had its 
pound-keeper, who, when he saw these estrays, as the 
lawyers term the valuable animals that were found wander- 
ing in any manor or lordship, immediately drove them 
into the pound. If the owner claimed them, he had 
certain fees to pay to the pound-keeper and the cost of 
the keep. If they were not claimed they became the 



STOCKS, WHIPPING-POSTS 313 

property of the lord of the manor, but it was required 
that they should be proclaimed in the church and two 
market towns next adjoining the place where they were 
found, and a year and a day must have elapsed before 
they became the actual property of the lord. The posses- 
sion of a pound was a sign of dignity for the village. 
Now that commons have been enclosed and waste lands 
reclaimed, stray cattle no longer cause excitement in the 
village, the pound-keeper has gone, and too often the 
pound itself has disappeared. We had one in our village 
twenty years ago, but suddenly, before he could be re- 
monstrated with, an estate agent, not caring for the 
trouble and cost of keeping it in repair, cleared it away, 
and its place knows it no more. In very many other 
villages similar happenings have occurred. Sometimes 
the old pound has been utilized by road surveyors as 
a convenient place for storing gravel for mending roads, 
and its original purpose is forgotten. 

It would be a pleasant task to go through the towns 
and villages of England to discover and to describe 
traces of these primitive implements of torture, but such 
a record would require a volume instead of a single chap- 
ter. In Berkshire we have several left to us. There is a 
very complete set at Wallingford, pillory, stocks, and 
whipping-post, now stored in the museum belonging to 
Miss Hedges in the castle, but in western Berkshire they 
have nearly all disappeared. The last pair of stocks that 
I can remember stood at the entrance to the town of 
Wantage. They have only disappeared within the last 
few years. The whipping-post still exists at the old 
Town Hall at Faringdon, the staples being affixed 
to the side of the ancient 'Mock-up," known as the 
Black Hole. 

At Lymm, Cheshire, there are some good stocks by the 
cross in that village, and many others may be discovered 
by the wandering antiquary, though their existence is 
little known and usually escapes the attention of the 
writers on local antiquities. As relics of primitive 



314 VANISHING ENGLAND 

modes of administering justice, it is advisable that they 
should be preserved. 

Yet another implement of rude justice was the cucking 
or ducking stool, which exists in a few places. It was 
used principally for the purpose of correcting scolding 
women. Mr. Andrews, who knows all that can be known 
about old-time punishments, draws a distinction between 
the cucking and ducking stool, and states that the former 
originally was a chair of infamy where immoral women 
and scolds were condemned to sit with bare feet and head 
to endure the derision of the populace, and had no relation 
to any ducking in water. But it appears that later on 
the terms were synonymous, and several of these imple- 
ments remain. This machine for quieting intemperate 
scolds was quite simple. A plank with a chair at one 
end was attached by an axle to a post which was fixed on 
the bank of a river or pond, or on wheels, so that it could 
be run thither ; the culprit was tied to the chair, and the 
other end of the plank was alternately raised or lowered 
so as to cause the immersion of the scold in the chilly 
water. A very effectual punishment ! The form of the 
chair varies. The Leominster ducking-stool is still pre- 
served, and this implement was the latest in use, having 
been employed in 1809 f° r the ducking of Jenny Pipes, 
alias Jane Corran, a common scold, by order of the magis- 
trates, and also as late as 1817 ; but in this case the 
victim, one Sarah Leeke, was only wheeled round the 
town in the chair, and not ducked, as the water in 
the Kenwater stream was too shallow for the purpose. 
The cost of making the stool appears in many corpora- 
tion accounts. That at Hungerford must have been in 
pretty frequent use, as there are several entries for 
repairs in the constable's accounts. 1 Thus we find the 
item under the year 1669 : — 

" Pd for the Cucking stoole . . 01,10,00" 

1 The corporation of Hungerford is peculiar, the head official being- 
termed the constable, who corresponded with the mayor in less original 
boroughs. 



. 8s. 
. 3s. 


od. 
od. 
6d. 


ee 

. 4s. 


iod. 



STOCKS, WHIPPING-POSTS 315 

and in 1676 : — 

" Pdfor nailesandworkmanshipabout 

the stocks and cucking stoole . 00,07,00" 

At Kingston-upon-Thames in 1572 the accounts show 
the expenditure : — 

" The making of the cucking-stool 
Iron work for the same 
Timber for the same 
Three brasses for the same and three 
wheels 

£1 3s. 4d." 

We need not record similar items shown in the accounts 
of other boroughs. You will still find examples of this 
fearsome implement at Leicester in the museum, Wootton 
Bassett, the wheels of one in the church of St. Mary, 
Warwick ; two at Plymouth, one of which was used in 
1808 ; King's Lynn, Norfolk, in the museum ; Ipswich, 
Scarborough, Sandwich, Fordwich, and possibly some 
other places of which we have no record. 

We find in museums, but not in common use, another 
terrible implement for the curbing of the rebellious 
tongues of scolding women. It was called the branks or 
scold's bridle, and probably came to us from Scotland 
with the Solomon of the North, whither the idea of it had 
been conveyed through the intercourse of that region 
with France. It is a sort of iron cage or framework 
helmet, which was fastened on the head, having a flat 
tongue of iron that was placed on the tongue of the 
victim and effectually restrained her from using it. Some- 
times the iron tongue was embellished with spikes so as 
to make the movement of the human tongue impossible 
except with the greatest agony. Imagine the poor 
wretch with her head so encaged, her mouth cut and 
bleeding by this sharp iron tongue, none too gently 
fitted by her rough torturers, and then being dragged 
about the town amid the jeers of the populace, or chained 
to the pillory in the market-place, an object of ridicule 



3 i6 VANISHING ENGLAND 

and contempt. Happily this scene has vanished from 
vanishing England. Perhaps she was a loud-voiced 
termagant; perhaps merely the ill-used wife of a drunken 
wretch, who well deserved her scolding ; or the daring 
teller of home truths to some jack-in-office, who thus 
revenged himself. We have shrews and scolds still ; 
happily they are restrained in a less barbarous fashion. 
You may still see some fearsome branks in museums. 
Reading, Leeds, York, Walton-on-Thames, Congleton, 
Stockport, Macclesfield, Warrington, Morpeth, Ham- 
stall Ridware, in Staffordshire, Lichfield, Chesterfield 
(now in possession of the Walsham family), Leicester, Dod- 
dington Park, Lincolnshire (a very grotesque example), 
the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, 
Oswestry, Whitchurch, Market Drayton, are some of the 
places which still possess scolds' bridles. Perhaps it is 
wrong to infer from the fact that most of these are to be 
found in the counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire, and 
Shropshire, that the women of those shires were especially 
addicted to strong and abusive language. It may be 
only that antiquaries in those counties have been more 
industrious in unearthing and preserving these curious 
relics of a barbarous age. The latest recorded occasion 
of its use was at Congleton in 1824, when a woman 
named Ann Runcorn was condemned to endure the bridle 
for abusing and slandering the churchwardens when they 
made their tour of inspection of the alehouses during the 
Sunday-morning service. There are some excellent draw- 
ings of branks, and full descriptions of their use, in Mr. 
Andrews's Bygone Punishments. 

Another relic of old-time punishments most gruesome 
of all are the gibbet-irons wherein the bones of some 
wretched breaker of the laws hung and rattled as the 
irons creaked and groaned when stirred by the breeze. 
Pour V encouragement des autres, our wise forefathers 
enacted that the bodies of executed criminals should be 
hanged in chains. At least this was a common practice 
that dated from medieval times, though it was not 



STOCKS, WHIPPING-POSTS 317 

actually legalized until 1752. l This Act remained in force 
until 1834, an d during the interval thousands of bodies 
were gibbeted and left creaking in the wind at Hang- 
man's Corner or Gibbet Common, near the scene of 
some murder or outrage. It must have been ghostly and 
ghastly to walk along our country lanes and hear the 
dreadful noise, especially if the tradition were true 

That the wretch in his chains, each night took the pains, 
To come down from the gibbet — and walk. 

In order to act as a warning to others the bodies were 
kept up as long as possible, and for this purpose were 
saturated with tar. On one occasion the gibbet was fired 
and the tar helped the conflagration, and a rapid and 
effectual cremation ensued. In many museums gibbet- 
irons are preserved. 

Punishments in olden times were usually cruel. Did 
they act as deterrents to vice? Modern judges have found 
the use of the lash a cure for robbery from the person 
with violence. The sight of whipping-posts and stocks, 
we learn, has stayed young men from becoming topers 
and drunkards. A brank certainly in one recorded case 
cured a woman from coarse invective and abuse. But 
what effect had the sight of the infliction of cruel punish- 
ments upon those who took part in them or witnessed 
them? It could only have tended to make cruel natures 
more brutal. Barbarous punishments, public hangings, 
cruel sports such as bull-baiting, dog-fighting, bear-bait- 
ing, prize-fighting and the like could not fail to exercise a 
bad influence on the populace ; and where one was de- 
terred from vice, thousands were brutalized and their 
hearts and natures hardened, wherein vicious pleasures, 
crime, and lust found a congenial soil. But we can still 
see our stocks on the village greens, our branks, ducking- 
stools, and pillories in museums, and remind ourselves of 
the customs of former days which have not so very long 
ago passed away. 

1 Act of Parliament 25 George II. 



T 



CHAPTER XIV 

OLD BRIDGES 

HE passing away of the old bridges is a deplor- 
able feature of vanishing England. Since the 
introduction of those terrible traction-engines, 
monstrous machines that drag behind them a whole train 
of heavily laden trucks, few of these old structures that 
have survived centuries of ordinary use are safe from 
destruction. The immense weight of these road-trains 
are enough to break the back of any of the old-fashioned 
bridges. Constantly notices have to be set up stating : 
"This bridge is only sufficient to carry the ordinary 
traffic of the district, and traction-engines are not allowed 
to proceed over it." Then comes an outcry from the 
proprietors of locomotives demanding bridges suitable 
for their convenience. County councils and district 
councils are worried by their importunities, and soon the 
venerable structures are doomed, and an iron-girder 
bridge hideous in every particular replaces one of the 
most beautiful features of our village. 

When the Sonning bridges that span the Thames were 
threatened a few years ago, English artists, such as Mr. 
Leslie and Mr. Holman-Hunt, strove manfully for their 
defence. The latter wrote : — 

"The nation, without doubt, is in serious danger of 
losing faith in the testimony of our poets and painters 
to the exceptional beauty of the land which has inspired 
them. The poets, from Chaucer to the last of his true 
British successors, with one voice enlarge on the over- 
flowing sweetness of England, her hills and dales, her 
pastures with sweet flowers, and the loveliness of her 

318 



OLD BRIDGES 319 

silver streams. It is the cherishing of the wholesome 
enjoyments of daily life that has implanted in the sons of 
England love of home, goodness of nature, and sweet 
reasonableness, and has given strength to the thews and 
sinews of her children, enabling them to defend her land, 
her principles, and her prosperity. With regard to the 
three Sonning bridges, parts of them have been already 
rebuilt with iron fittings in recent years, and no dis- 
interested reasonable person can see why they could 
not be easily made sufficient to carry all existing traffic. 
If the bridges were to be widened in the service of some 
disproportionate vehicles it is obvious that the traffic such 
enlarged bridges are intended to carry would be put for- 
ward as an argument for demolishing the exquisite old 
bridge over the main river which is the glory of this 
exceptionally picturesque and well-ordered village ; and 
this is a matter of which even the most utilitarian would 
soon see the evil in the diminished attraction of the river 
not only to Englishmen, but to Colonials and Americans 
who have across the sea read widely of its beauty. 
Remonstrances must look ahead, and can only now be 
of avail in recognition of future further danger. We are 
called upon to plead the cause for the whole of the beauty- 
loving England, and of all river-loving people in par- 
ticular." 

Gallantly does the great painter express the views of 
artists, and such vandalism is as obnoxious to antiquaries 
as it is to artists and lovers of the picturesque. Many 
of these old bridges date from medieval times, and are 
relics of antiquity that can ill be spared. Brick is a 
material as nearly imperishable as any that man can build 
with. There is hardly any limit to the life of a brick or 
stone bridge, whereas an iron or steel bridge requires 
constant supervision. The oldest iron bridge in this 
country — at Coalbrookdale, in Shropshire — has failed 
after 123 years of life. It was worn out by old age, 
whereas the Roman bridge at Rimini, and the medieval 
ones at St. Ives, Bradford-on-Avon, and countless other 
places in this country and abroad, are in daily use and 
are likely to remain serviceable for many years to come, 
unless these ponderous trains break them down. 



3 2o VANISHING ENGLAND 

The interesting bridge which crosses the River Conway 
at Llanrwst was built in 1636 by Sir Richard Wynn, then 
the owner of Gwydir Castle, from the designs of Inigo 
Jones. Like many others, it is being injured by traction- 
trains carrying unlimited weights. Happily the Society 
for the Protection of Ancient Buildings heard the plaint 
of the old bridge that groaned under its heavy burdens 
and cried aloud for pity. The society listened to its 
pleading, and carried its petition to the Carmarthen 
County Council, with excellent results. This enlightened 
Council decided to protect the bridge and save it from 
further harm. 

The building of bridges was anciently regarded as 
a charitable and religious act, and guilds and brother- 
hoods existed for their maintenance and reparation. At 
Maidenhead there was a notable bridge, for the sustenance 
of which the Guild of St. Andrew and St. Mary Magdalene 
was established by Henry VI in 1452. An early bridge 
existed here in the thirteenth century, a grant having been 
made in 1298 for its repair. A bridge-master was one of 
the officials of the corporation, according to the charter 
granted to the town by James II. The old bridge was 
built of wood and supported by piles. No wonder that 
people were terrified at the thought of passing over such 
structures in dark nights and stormy weather. There 
was often a bridge-chapel, as on the old Caversham 
bridge, wherein they said their prayers, and perhaps 
made their wills, before they ventured to cross. 

Some towns owe their existence to the making of bridges. 
It was so at Maidenhead. It was quite a small place, 
a cluster of cottages, but Camden tells us that after the 
erection of the bridge the town began to have inns and to 
be so frequented as to outvie its " neighbouring mother, 
Bray, a much more ancient place," where the famous 
"Vicar" lived. The old bridge gave place in 1772 to 
a grand new one with very graceful arches, which was 
designed by Sir Roland Taylor. 

Abingdon, another of our Berkshire towns, has a famous 



OLD BRIDGES 321 

bridge that dates back to the fifteenth century, when it 
was erected by some good merchants of the town, John 
Brett and John Huchyns and Geoffrey Barbour, with the 
aid of Sir Peter Besils of Besselsleigh, who supplied the 
stone from his quarries. It is an extremely graceful 
structure, well worthy of the skill of the medieval builders. 
It is some hundreds of yards in length, spanning the 
Thames and meadows that are often flooded, the main 
stream being spanned by six arches. Henry V is credited 
with its construction, but he only graciously bestowed 
his royal licence. In fact these merchants built two 
bridges, one called Burford Bridge and the other across 
the ford at Culham. The name Burford has nothing to 
do with the beautiful old town which we have already 
visited, but is a corruption of Borough-ford, the town 
ford at Abingdon. Two poets have sung their praises, 
one in atrocious Latin and the other in quaint, old- 
fashioned English. The first poet made a bad shot at 
the name of the king, calling him Henry IV instead of 
Henry V, though it is a matter of little importance, as 
neither monarch had anything to do with founding the 
structure. The Latin poet sings, if we may call it 
singing : — 

Henricus Quartus quarto fundaverat anno 

Rex pontem Burford super undas atque Culham-ford. 

The English poet fixes the date of the bridge, 4 Henry V 
(1416) and thus tells its story : — 

King- Henry the fyft, in his fourthe yere 
He hath i-founde for his folke a brigc in Berkshire 
For cartis with cartage may goo and come clere, 
Thai manywynters afore were marred in the myre. 

Now is Culham hithe 1 i-eome to an ende 
And al the contre the better and no man the worse, 
Few folke there were coude thai way mend'-, 
But they waged a cold or payed of ther purse ; 
An it it were a beg-gar had breed in his bagge, 
He schulde be right soone i-bid to goo aboute ; 

1 Ferry. 

21 



322 VANISHING ENGLAND 

And if the pore penyless the hireward would have, 
A hood or a girdle and let him goo aboute. 
Culharn hithe hath caused many a curse 
I' blyssed be our helpers we have a better waye, 
Without any peny for cart and horse. 

Another blyssed besiness is brigges to make 

That there the pepul may not passe after great schowres, 

Dole it is to draw a dead body out of a lake 

That was fulled in a fount stoon and felow of owres. 

The poet was grateful for the mercies conveyed to him 
by the bridge. " Fulled in a fount stoon," of course, 
means " washed or baptized in a stone font." He 
reveals the misery and danger of passing through a 
ford "after great showers," and the sad deaths which 
befell adventurous passengers when the river was swollen 
by rains and the ford well-nigh impassable. No wonder 
the builders of bridges earned the gratitude of their 
fellows. Moreover, this Abingdon Bridge was free to 
all persons, rich and poor alike, and no toll or pontage 
was demanded from those who would cross it. 

Within the memory of man there was a beautiful old 
bridge between Reading and Caversham. It was built 
of brick, and had ten arches, some constructed of stone. 
About the time of the Restoration some of these were 
ruinous, and obstructed the passage by penning up the 
water above the bridge so that boats could not pass with- 
out the use of a winch, and in the time of James II the 
barge-masters of Oxford appealed to Courts of Exchequer, 
asserting that the charges of pontage exacted on all 
barges passing under the bridge were unlawful, claim- 
ing exemption from all tolls by reason of a charter 
granted to the citizens of Oxford by Richard II. They 
won their case. This bridge is mentioned in the Close 
Rolls of the early years of Edward I as a place where 
assizes were held. The bridge at Cromarsh and Grand- 
pont outside Oxford were frequently used for the same 
purpose. So narrow was it that two vehicles could not 
pass. For the safety of the foot passenger little angles 
were provided at intervals into which he could step in 



OLD BRIDGES 323 

order to avoid being run over by carts or coaches. The 
chapel on the bridge was a noted feature of the bridge. 
It was very ancient. In 1239 Engelard de Cyngny was 
ordered to let William, chaplain of the chapel of Cavers- 
ham, have an oak out of Windsor Forest with which to 
make shingles for the roofing of the chapel. Passengers 
made offerings in the chapel to the priest in charge of it 
for the repair of the bridge and the maintenance of the 
chapel and priest. It contained many relics of saints, 
which at the Dissolution were eagerly seized by Dr. 
London, the King's Commissioner. About the year 
1870 the old bridge was pulled down and the present 
hideous iron-girder erection substituted for it. It is 
extremely ugly, but is certainly more convenient than 
the old narrow bridge, which required passengers to 
retire into the angle to avoid the danger of being run 
over. 

These bridges can tell many tales of battle and blood- 
shed. There was a great skirmish on Caversham 
Bridge in the Civil War in a vain attempt on the part 
of the Royalists to relieve the siege of Reading. When 
Wallingford was threatened in the same period of the 
Great Rebellion, one part of the bridge was cut in order 
to prevent the enemy riding into the town. And you can 
still detect the part that was severed. There is a very 
interesting old bridge across the upper Thames be- 
tween Bampton and Faringdon. It is called Radcot 
Bridge ; probably built in the thirteenth century, with 
its three arches and a heavy buttress in the middle 
niched for a figure of the Virgin, and a cross formerly 
stood in the centre. A "cut" has diverted the course of 
the river to another channel, but the bridge remains, and 
on this bridge a sharp skirmish took place between 
Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Marquis of Dublin, and 
Duke of Ireland, a favourite of Richard II, upon whom 
the King delighted to bestow titles and honours. The 
rebellious lords met the favourite's forces at Radcot, 
where a fierce fight ensued. De Vere was taken in 



3 2 4 VANISHING ENGLAND 

the rear, and surrounded by the forces of the Duke 
of Gloucester and the Earl of Derby, and being hard 
pressed, he plunged into the icy river (it was on the 20th 
day of December, 1387) with his armour on, and swim- 
ming down-stream with difficulty saved his life. Of this 
exploit a poet sings : — 

Here Oxford's hero, famous for his boar, 
While clashing swords upon his target sound, 
And showers of arrows from his breast rebound, 
Prepared for worst of fates, undaunted stood, 
And urged his heart into the rapid flood. 
The waves in triumph bore him, and were proud 
To sink beneath their honourable load. 

Religious communities, monasteries and priories, often 
constructed bridges. There is a very curious one at 
Croyland, probably erected by one of the abbots of the 
famous abbey of Croyland or Crowland. This bridge is 
regarded as one of the greatest curiosities in the kingdom. 
It is triangular in shape, and has been supposed to be 
emblematical of the Trinity. The rivers Welland, Nene, 
and a drain called Catwater flow under it. The ascent is 
very steep, so that carriages go under it. The triangular 
bridge of Croyland is mentioned in a charter of King 
Edred about the year 941, but the present bridge is 
probably not earlier than the fourteenth century. How- 
ever, there is a rude statue said to be that of King 
Ethelbald, and may have been taken from the earlier 
structure and built into the present bridge. It is in a 
sitting posture at the end of the south-west wall of the 
bridge. The figure has a crown on the head, behind 
which are two wings, the arms bound together, round the 
shoulders a kind of mantle, in the left hand a sceptre and 
in the right a globe. The bridge consists of three piers, 
whence spring three pointed arches which unite their 
groins in the centre. Croyland is an instance of a 
decayed town, the tide of its prosperity having flowed 
elsewhere. Though nominally a market-town, it is only 
a village, with little more than the ruins of its former 
splendour remaining, when the great abbey attracted 






326 VANISHING ENGLAND 

to it crowds of the nobles and gentry of England, and 
employed vast numbers of labourers, masons, and crafts- 
men on the works of the abbey and in the supply of its 
needs. 

All over the country we find beautiful old bridges, 
though the opening years of the present century, with 
the increase of heavy traction-engines, have seen many 
disappear. At Coleshill, Warwickshire, there is a grace- 
ful old bridge leading to the town with its six arches and 
massive cutwaters. Kent is a county of bridges, 
picturesque medieval structures which have survived the 
lapse of time and the storms and floods of centuries. You 
can find several of these that span the Medway far from 
the busy railway lines and the great roads. There is a 
fine medieval fifteenth-century bridge at Yalding across 
the Beult, long, fairly level, with deeply embayed cut- 
waters of rough ragstone. Twyford Bridge belongs to 
the same period, and Lodingford Bridge, with its two 
arches and single-buttressed cutwater, is very picturesque. 
Teston Bridge across the Medway has five arches of care- 
fully wrought stonework and belongs to the fifteenth 
century, and East Farleigh is a fine example of the same 
period with four ribbed and pointed arches and four bold 
cutwaters of wrought stones, one of the best in the 
country. Aylesford Bridge is a very graceful structure, 
though it has been altered by the insertion of a wide span 
arch in the centre for the improvement of river navigation. 
Its existence has been long threatened, and the Society 
for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has done its 
utmost to save the bridge from destruction. Its efforts 
are at length crowned with success, and the Kent County 
Council has decided that there are not sufficient grounds 
to justify the demolition of the bridge and that it shall 
remain. The attack upon this venerable structure will 
probably be renewed some day, and its friends will watch 
over it carefully and be prepared to defend it again when 
the next onslaught is made. It is certainly one of the 
most beautiful bridges in Kent. Little known and 



OLD BRIDGES 



327 



seldom seen by the world, and unappreciated even by the 
antiquary or the motorist, these Medway bridges continue 
their placid existence and proclaim the enduring work of 
the English masons of nearly five centuries ago. 

Many of our bridges are of great antiquity. The 
Eashing bridges over the Wey near Godalming date 
from the time of King John and are of singular charm 
and beauty. Like many others they have been threatened, 
the Rural District Council having proposed to widen and 
strengthen them, and completely to alter their character 
and picturesqueness. Happily the bridges were private 
property, and by the action of the Old Guildford Society 













.a \\Q 




Huntingdon Bridge 



and the National Trust they have been placed under the 
guardianship of the Trust, and are now secure from 
molestation. 

We give an illustration of the Crane Bridge, Salisbury, 
a small Gothic bridge near the Church House, and seen 
in conjunction with that venerable building it forms a 
very beautiful object. Another illustration shows the 
huge bridge at Huntingdon spanning the Ouse with six 
arches. It is in good preservation, and has an arcade of 
Early Gothic arches, and over it the coaches used to run 
along the great North Road, the scene of the mythical 
ride of Dick Turpi n, and doubtless the youthful feet of 
Oliver Cromwell, who was born at Huntingdon, often 
traversed it. There is another line bridge at St. Neots 
with a watch-tower in the centre. 



328 VANISHING ENGLAND 

The little town of Bradford-on-Avon has managed to 
preserve almost more than any other place in England 
the old features which are fast vanishing elsewhere. 
We have already seen that most interesting untouched 
specimen of Saxon architecture the little Saxon church, 
which we should like to think is the actual church built 
by St. Aldhelm, but we are compelled to believe on the 
authority of experts that it is not earlier than the tenth 
century. In all probability a church was built by St. 
Aldhelm at Bradford, probably of wood, and was after- 
wards rebuilt in stone when the land had rest and the 
raids of the Danes had ceased, and King Canute ruled 
and encouraged the building of churches, and Bishops 
Dunstan and ^Ethelwold of Winchester were specially 
prominent in the work. Bradford, too, has its noble 
church, parts of which date back to Norman times ; its 
famous fourteenth-century barn at Barton Farm, which 
has a fifteenth-century porch and gatehouse ; many fine 
examples of the humbler specimens of domestic archi- 
tecture ; and the very interesting Kingston House of the 
seventeenth century, built by one of the rich clothiers of 
Bradford, when the little town (like Abingdon) " stondeth 
by clothing," and all the houses in the place were 
figuratively " built upon wool-packs." But we are think- 
ing of bridges, and Bradford has two, the earlier one 
being a little footbridge by the abbey grange, now called 
Barton Farm. Miss Alice Dryden tells the story of the 
town bridge in her Memorials of Old Wiltshire. It was 
originally only wide enough for a string of packhorses to 
pass along it. The ribbed portions of the southernmost 
arches and the piers for the chapel are early fourteenth 
century, the other arches were built later. Bradford be- 
came so prosperous, and the stream of traffic so much 
increased, and wains took the place of packhorses, that 
the narrow bridge was not sufficient for it ; so the good 
clothiers built in the time of James I a second bridge 
alongside the first. Orders were issued in 1617 and 1621 
for " the repair of the very fair bridge consisting of many 




- 



ll-ic Cravjt "pricing 



33© VANISHING ENGLAND 

goodly arches of freestone," which had fallen into decay. 
The cost of repairing it. was estimated at 200 marks. 
There is a building on the bridge corbelled out on a 
specially built pier of the bridge, the use of which is not 
at first sight evident. Some people call it the watch- 
house, and it has been used as a lock-up ; but Miss 
Dryden tells us that it was a chapel, similar to those 
which we have seen on many other medieval bridges. 
It belonged to the Hospital of St. Margaret, which stood 
at the southern end of the bridge, where the Great 
Western Railway crosses the road. This chapel retains 
little of its original work, and was rebuilt when the bridge 
was widened in the time of James I. Formerly there 
was a niche for a figure looking up the stream, but this 
has gone with much else during the drastic restoration. 
That a bridge-chapel existed here is proved by Aubrey, 
who mentions "the chapel for masse in the middest of 
the bridge " at Bradford. 

Sometimes bridges owe their origin to curious circum- 
stances. There was an old bridge at Olney, Bucking- 
hamshire, of which Cowper wrote when he sang : — 

That with its wearisome but needful length 
Bestrides the flood. 

The present bridge that spans the Ouse with three arches 
and a causeway has taken the place of the long bridge 
of Cowper's time. This long bridge was built in the 
days of Queen Anne by two squires, Sir Robert Throck- 
morton of Weston Underwood and William Lowndes of 
Astwood Manor. These two gentlemen were sometimes 
prevented from paying visits to one another by floods, as 
they lived on opposite sides of the Ouse. They accord- 
ingly built the long bridge in continuation of an older 
one, of which only a small portion remains at the north 
end. Sir Robert found the material and Mr. Lowndes 
the labour. This story reminds one of a certain road in 
Berks and Bucks, the milestones along which record the 
distance between Hatfield and Bath? Why Hatfield? It 

















v^ f r-j P 



\/\/nTch h|oui< 






332 VANISHING ENGLAND 

is not a place of great resort or an important centre of 
population. But when we gather that a certain Marquis 
of Salisbury was troubled with gout, and had frequently 
to resort to Bath for the "cure," and constructed the road 
for his special convenience at his own expense, we begin 
to understand the cause of the carving of Hatfield on the 
milestones. 

The study of the bridges of England seems to have 
been somewhat neglected by antiquaries. You will often 
find some good account of a town or village in guide- 
books or topographical works, but the story of the bridges 
is passed over in silence. Owing to the reasons we have 
already stated, old bridges are fast disappearing and are 
being substituted by the hideous erections of iron and 
steel. It is well that we should attempt to record those 
that are left, photograph them and paint them, ere the 
march of modern progress, evinced by the traction- 
engine and the motor-car, has quite removed and 
destroyed them. 



CHAPTER XV 
OLD HOSPITALS AND ALMSHOUSES 

THERE are in many towns and villages hospitals 
— not the large modern and usually unsightly 
buildings wherein the sick are cured, with wards 
all spick and span and up to date — but beautiful old 
buildings mellowed with age wherein men and women, 
on whom the snows of life have begun to fall thickly, 
may rest and recruit and take their ease before they start 
on the long, dark journey from which no traveller returns 
to tell to those he left behind how he fared. 

Almshouses we usually call them now, but our fore- 
fathers preferred to call them hospitals, God's hostels, 
"God huis," as the Germans call their beautiful house 
of pity at Liibeck, where the tired-out and money- 
less folk might find harbourage. The older hospitals 
were often called " bede-houses," because the inmates 
were bound to pray for their founder and benefactors. 
Some medieval hospitals, memorials of the charity of 
pre-Reformation Englishmen, remain, but many were 
suppressed during the age of spoliation ; and others have 
been so rebuilt and restored that there is little left of the 
early foundation. 

We may notice three classes of these foundations. 
First, there are the pre-Reformation bede-houses or 
hospitals ; the second group is composed of those which 
were built during the spacious days of Queen Elizabeth, 
James I, and Charles I. The Civil War put a stop to 
the foundation of almshouses. The principal landowners 
were impoverished by the war or despoiled by the Puri- 
tans, and could not build ; the charity of the latter was 

333 



334 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



devoted to other purposes. With the Restoration of the 
Church and the Monarchy another era of the building 
of almshouses set in, and to this period very many of our 
existing institutions belong. 

Of the earliest group we have several examples left. 
There is the noble hospital of St. Cross at Winchester, 




Gateway of St. John's Hospital, Canterbury 

founded in the days of anarchy during the contest between 
Stephen and Matilda for the English throne. Its hos- 
pitable door is still open. Bishop Henry of Blois was 
its founder, and he made provision for thirteen poor men 
to be housed, boarded, and clothed, and for a hundred 
others to have a meal every day. He placed the hospital 
under the care of the Master of the Knights Hospitallers. 
Fortunately it was never connected with a monastery. 



HOSPITALS AND ALMSHOUSES 335 

Hence it escaped pillage and destruction at the dissolu- 
tion of monastic houses. Bishop Henry was a great 
builder, and the church of the hospital is an interesting 
example of a structure of the Transition Norman period, 
when the round arch was giving way to the Early English 
pointed arch. To this foundation was added in 1443 by 
Cardinal Beaufort an extension called the "Almshouse 
of Noble Poverty," and it is believed that the present 
domestic buildings were erected by him. 1 The visitor 
can still obtain the dole of bread and ale at the gate 
of St. Cross. Winchester is well provided with old hos- 
pitals : St. John's was founded in 931 and refounded in 
1289; St. Mary Magdalen, by Bishop Toclyve in 1173-88 
for nine lepers ; and Christ's Hospital in 1607. 

We will visit some less magnificent foundations. Some 
are of a very simple type, resembling a church with nave 
and chancel. The nave part was a large hall divided by 
partitions on each side of an alley into little cells in which 
the bedesmen lived. Daily Mass was celebrated in the 
chancel, the chapel of hospital, whither the inmates 
resorted ; but the sick and infirm who could not leave 
their cells were able to join in the service. St. Mary's 
Hospital, at Chichester, is an excellent example, as it 
retains its wooden cells, which are still used by the 
inmates. It was formerly a nunnery, but in 1229 the 
nuns departed and the almswomen took their place. It is 
of wide span with low side-walls, and the roof is borne by 
wooden pillars. There are eight cells of two rooms each, 
and beyond the screen is a little chapel, which is still 
used by the hospitallers.'- 

Archbishop Chichele founded a fine hospital at Higham 
Ferrers in Northamptonshire, which saw his lowly birth, 
together with a school and college, about the year 1475. 
The building is still in existence and shows a good roof 

1 Mr. Nisbett gives a good account of the hospital in Memorials of Old 
Hampshire, and Mr. Champneys fully describes the buildings in the Archi- 
tectural Review, October, 1903, and April, 1904. 

2 The Treasury, November, 1907, an article on hospitals by Dr. 
I [ermitage I >ay. 



336 VANISHING ENGLAND 

and fine Perpendicular window, but the twelve bedesmen 
and the one sister, who was to be chosen for her plain- 
ness, no longer use the structure. 

Stamford can boast of a fine medieval hospital, the 
foundation of Thomas Browne in 1480 for the accommoda- 
tion of ten old men and two women. A new quadrangle 
has been built for the inmates, but you can still see the 
old edifice with its nave of two storeys, its fifteenth- 
century stained glass, and its chapel with its screen and 
stalls and altar. 

Stamford has another hospital which belongs to our 
second group. Owing to the destruction of monasteries, 
which had been great benefactors to the poor and centres 
of vast schemes of charity, there was sore need for 
almshouses and other schemes for the relief of the aged 
and destitute. The nouveaux riches, who had fattened on 
the spoils of the monasteries, sought to salve their con- 
sciences by providing for the wants of the poor, building 
grammar schools, and doing some good with their wealth. 
Hence many almshouses arose during this period. This 
Stamford home was founded by the great Lord Burghley 
in 1597. It is a picturesque group of buildings with 
tall chimneys, mullioned and dormer windows, on the 
bank of the Welland stream, and occupies the site of a 
much more ancient foundation. 

There is the college at Cobham, in Kent, the buildings 
forming a pleasant quadrangle south of the church. 
Flagged pathways cross the greensward of the court, and 
there is a fine hall wherein the inmates used to dine 
together. 

As we traverse the village streets we often meet with 
these grey piles of sixteenth-century almshouses, often 
low, one-storeyed buildings, picturesque and impressive, 
each house having a welcoming porch with a seat on each 
side and a small garden full of old-fashioned flowers. 
The roof is tiled, on which moss and lichen grow, and 
the chimney-stacks are tall and graceful. An inscription 
records the date and name of the generous founder with 



HOSPITALS AND ALMSHOUSES 337 

his arms and motto. Such a home of peace you will find 
at Quainton, in Buckinghamshire, founded, as an inscrip- 
tion records, "Anno Dom. 1687. These almshouses 
were then erected and endow'd by Richard Winwood, 
son and heir of Right Hon ble Sir Ralph Winwood, Bart., 
Principal Secretary of State to King James y e First." 
Within these walls dwell (according to the rules drawn 
up by Sir Ralph Verney in 1695) "three poor men — 
widowers, — to be called Brothers, and three poor women — 
widows, — to be called Sisters." Very strict were these 
rules for the government of the almshouses, as to errone- 
ous opinions in any principle of religion, the rector of 
Quainton being the judge, the visiting of alehouses, the 
good conduct of the inmates, who were to be u no 
whisperers, quarrelers, evil speakers or contentious." 

These houses at Quainton are very humble abodes ; 
other almshouses are large and beautiful buildings 
erected by some rich merchant, or great noble, or 
London City company, for a large scheme of charity. 
Such are the beautiful almshouses in the Kingsland 
Road, Shoreditch, founded in the early part of the eigh- 
teenth century under the terms of the will of Sir Robert 
Geffery. They stand in a garden about an acre in extent, 
a beautiful oasis in the surrounding desert of warehouses, 
reminding the passer-by of the piety and loyal patriotism 
of the great citizens of London, and affording a peaceful 
home for many aged folk. This noble building, of great 
architectural dignity, with the figure of the founder over 
the porch and its garden with fine trees, has only just 
escaped the hands of the destroyer and been numbered 
among the bygone treasures of vanished England. It 
was seriously proposed to pull down this peaceful home 
of poor people and sell the valuable site to the Peabody 
Donation Fund for the erection of working-class dwellings. 
The almshouses are governed by the Ironmongers' Com- 
pany, and this proposal was made ; but, happily, the 
friends of ancient buildings made their protest to the 
Charity Commissioners, who have refused their sanction 
22 



338 VANISHING ENGLAND 

to the sale, and the Geffery Almshouses will continue to 
exist, continue their useful mission, and remain the chief 
architectural ornament in a district that sorely needs 
" sweetness and light." 

City magnates who desired to build and endow hos- 
pitals for the aged nearly always showed their confidence 
in and affection for the Livery Companies to which they 
belonged by placing in their care these charitable founda- 
tions. Thus Sir Richard Whittington, of famous memory, 
bequeathed to the Mercers' Company all his houses and 
tenements in London, which were to be sold and the 
proceeds distributed in various charitable works. With 
this sum they founded a College of Priests, called 
Whittington College, which was suppressed at the 
Reformation, and the almshouses adjoining the old 
church of St. Michael Paternoster, for thirteen poor folk, 
of whom one should be principal or tutor. The Great 
Fire destroyed the buildings ; they were rebuilt on the 
same site, but in 1835 they were fallen into decay, and 
the company re-erected them at Islington, where you will 
find Whittington College, providing accommodation for 
twenty-eight poor women. Besides this the Mercers have 
charge of Lady Mico's Almshouses at Stepney, founded 
in 1692 and rebuilt in 1857, and the Trinity Hospital at 
Greenwich, founded in 1615 by Henry Howard, Earl of 
Northampton. This earl was of a very charitable dis- 
position, and founded other hospitals at Castle Rising in 
Norfolk and Clun in Shropshire. The Mercers continue 
to manage the property and have built a new hospital at 
Shottisham, besides making grants to the others created 
by the founder. It is often the custom of the companies 
to expend out of their private income far more than they 
receive from the funds of the charities which they ad- 
minister. 

The Grocers' Company have almshouses and a Free 
Grammar School at Oundle in Northamptonshire, founded 
by Sir William Laxton in 1556, upon which they have 
expended vast sums of money. The Drapers administer 



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340 VANISHING ENGLAND 

the Mile End Almshouses and school founded in 1728 by 
Francis Bancroft, Sir John Jolles's almshouses at Totten- 
ham, founded in 1618, and very many others. They have 
two hundred in the neighbourhood of London alone, and 
many others in different parts of the country. Near 
where I am writing is Lucas's Hospital at Wokingham, 
founded by Henry Lucas in 1663, which he placed in the 
charge of the company. It is a beautiful Carolian house 
with a central portion and two wings, graceful and pleas- 
ing in every detail. The chapel is situated in one wing 
and the master's house in the other, and there are sets of 
rooms for twelve poor men chosen from the parishes in 
the neighbourhood. The Fishmongers have the manage- 
ment of three important hospitals. At Bray, in Berkshire, 
famous for its notable vicar, there stands the ancient 
Jesus Hospital, founded in 1616 under the will of William 
Goddard, who directed that there should be built rooms 
with chimneys in the said hospital, fit and convenient 
for forty poor people to dwell and inhabit it, and that 
there should be one chapel or place convenient to serve 
Almighty God in for ever with public and divine prayers 
and other exercises of religion, and also one kitchen and 
bakehouse common to all the people of the said hospital. 
Jesus Hospital is a quadrangular building, containing 
forty almshouses surrounding a court which is divided 
into gardens, one of which is attached to each house. It 
has a pleasing entrance through a gabled brick porch 
which has over the Tudor-shaped doorway a statue of the 
founder and mullioned latticed windows. The old people 
live happy and contented lives, and find in the eventide of 
their existence a cheerful home in peaceful and beautiful 
surroundings. The Fishmongers also have almshouses 
at Harrietsham, in Kent, founded by Mark Quested, 
citizen and fishmonger of London, in 1642, which they 
rebuilt in 1772, and St. Peter's Hospital, Wandsworth, 
formerly called the Fishmongers' Almshouses. The 
Goldsmiths have a very palatial pile of almshouses at 
Acton Park, called Perryn's Almshouses, with a grand 



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342 VANISHING ENGLAND 

entrance portico, and most of the London companies pro- 
vide in this way homes for their decayed members, so 
that they may pass their closing years in peace and 
freedom from care. 

Fishermen, who pass their lives in storm and danger 
reaping the harvest of the sea, have not been forgotten 
by pious benefactors. One of the most picturesque 
buildings in Great Yarmouth is the Fishermen's Hos- 
pital, of which we give some illustrations. It was founded 
by the corporation of the town in 1702 for the reception 
of twenty old fishermen and their wives. It is a charm- 
ing house of rest, with its gables and dormer windows 
and its general air of peace and repose. The old men 
look very comfortable after battling for so many years 
with the storms of the North Sea. Charles II granted to 
the hospital an annuity of £160 for its support, which was 
paid out of the excise on beer, but when the duty was 
repealed the annuity naturally ceased. 

The old hospital at King's Lynn was destroyed during 
the siege, as this quaint inscription tells : — 

THIS HOSPITAL WAS 

BURNT DOWN AT LIN 

SEGE AND REBULT 

1649 NATH MAXEY 

MAYOR AND EDW 

ROBINSON ALDMAN 

TREASURER PRO TEM 

P.R.O. 

Norwich had several important hospitals. Outside the 
Magdalen gates stood the Magdalen Hospital, founded 
by Bishop Herbert, the first bishop. It was a house for 
lepers, and some portions of the Norman chapel still 
exist in a farm-building by the roadside. The far-famed 
St. Giles's Hospital in Bishopsgate Street is an ancient 
foundation, erected by Bishop Walter Sufrield in 1249 
for poor chaplains and other poor persons. It nearly 
vanished at the Reformation era, like so many other 
kindred institutions, but Henry VIII and Edward VI 
granted it a new charter. The poor clergy were, how- 



HOSPITALS AND ALMSHOUSES 343 

ever, left out in the cold, and the benefits were confined 
to secular folk. For the accommodation of its inmates 
the chancel of the church was divided by a floor into an 
upper and a lower storey, and this arrangement still exists, 
and you can still admire the picturesque ivy-clad tower, 
the wards with cosy ingle-nooks at either end and 
cubicles down the middle, the roof decorated with eagles, 
deemed to be the cognizance of Oueen Anne of Bohemia, 
wife of Richard II, the quaint little cloister, and above 
all, the excellent management of this grand institution, 



THIS HOSPITAL WAS 
BV1IW ©OWM AT LIN 

649 MATH! MAX E Y 
MAYORANB) EBWCI 
RPBI NS©N ALBJViAM 
TREA&VKER TROTlEjH ] 




PRO 




T.> 



Inscription on the Hospital, King's Lynn 

the "Old Man's Hospital," as it is called, which provides 
for the necessities of 150 old folk, whose wants are cared 
for by a master and twelve nurses. 

Let us travel far and visit another charming almshouse, 
Abbot's Hospital, at Guildford, which is an architectural 
gem and worthy of the closest inspection. It was founded 
by Archbishop Abbot in 1619, and is a noble building of 
mellowed brick with finely carved oak doors, graceful 
chimneys with their curious "crow-rests," noble stair- 
cases, interesting portraits, and rare books, amongst 
which is a Vinegar Bible. The chapel with its Flemish 
windows showing the story of Jacob and Esau, and oak 
carvings and almsbox dated 1619, is especially attractive. 



344 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Here the founder retired in sadness and sorrow after his 
unfortunate day's hunting in Bramshill Park, where he 
accidentally shot a keeper, an incident which gave occa- 
sion to his enemies to blaspheme and deride him. Here 
the Duke of Monmouth was confined on his way to 
London after the battle of Sedgemoor. The details of 
the building are worthy of attention, especially the 
ornamented doors and doorways, the elaborate latches, 
beautifully designed and furnished with a spring, and 
elegant casement-fasteners. Guildford must have had a 
school of great artists of these window-fasteners. Near 
the hospital there is a very interesting house, No. 25 
High Street, now a shop, but formerly the town clerk's 
residence and the lodgings of the judges of assize ; no 
better series in England of beautifully designed window- 
fasteners can be found than in this house, erected in 1683 ; 
it also has a fine staircase like that at Farnham Castle, 
and some good plaster ceilings resembling Inigo Jones's 
work and probably done by his workmen. 

The good town of Abingdon has a very celebrated 
hospital founded in 1446 by the Guild of the Holy Cross, 
a fraternity composed of "good men and true," wealthy 
merchants and others, which built the bridge, repaired 
roads, maintained a bridge priest and a rood priest, and 
held a great annual feast at which the brethren consumed 
as much as 6 calves, 16 lambs, 80 capons, 80 geese, and 
800 eggs. It was a very munificent and beneficent cor- 
poration, and erected these almshouses for thirteen poor 
men and the same number of poor women. That hospital 
founded so long ago still exists. It is a curious and 
ancient structure in one storey, and is denoted Christ's 
Hospital. One of our recent writers on Berkshire topo- 
graphy, whose historical accuracy is a little open to 
criticism, gives a good description of the building : — 

" It is a long range of chambers built of mellow brick 
and immemorial oak, having in their centre a small hall, 
darkly wainscoted, the very table in which makes a col- 
lector sinfully covetous. In front of the modest doors of 



HOSPITALS AND ALMSHOUSES 345 

the chambers inhabited by almsmen and almswomen runs 
a tiny cloister with oak pillars, so that the inmates may 
visit one another dryshod in any weather. Each door, 
too, bears a text from the Old or New Testament. A 
more typical relic of the old world, a more sequestered 
haven of rest, than this row of lowly buildings, looking 
up to the great church in front, and with its windows 
opening on to green turf bordered with flowers in 
the rear, it could not enter into the heart of man to 
imagine." 1 

We could spend endless time in visiting the old alms- 
houses in many parts of the country. There is the 
Ford's Hospital in Coventry, erected in 1529, an ex- 
tremely good specimen of late Gothic work, another 
example of which is found in St. John's Hospital at Rye. 
The Corsham Almshouses in Wiltshire, erected in 1663, 
are most picturesque without, and contain some splendid 
woodwork within, including a fine old reading-desk with 
carved seat in front. There is a large porch with an 
immense coat-of-arms over the door. In the region of 
the Cotswolds, where building-stone is plentiful, we find 
a noble set of almshouses at Chipping Campden in 
Gloucestershire, a gabled structure near the church with 
tall, graceful chimneys and mullioned windows, having a 
raised causeway in front protected by a low wall. 
Ewelme, in Oxfordshire, is a very attractive village with 
a row of cottages half a mile long, which have before 
their doors a sparkling stream dammed here and there 
into watercress beds. At the top of the street on a 
steep knoll stand church and school and almshouses of 
the mellowest fifteenth-century bricks, as beautiful and 
structurally sound as the pious founders left them. 
These founders were the unhappy William de la Pole, 
first Duke of Suffolk, and his good wife the Duchess 
Alice. The Duke inherited Ewelme through his wife 
Alice Chaucer, a kinswoman of the poet, and "for love 
of her and the commoditie of her landes fell much to 
dwell in Oxfordshire," and in 1430 40 was busy building 

1 Highways and Byways in Berkshire. 



346 VANISHING ENGLAND 

a manor-place of "brick and Tymbre and set within a 
fayre mote," a church, an almshouse, and a school. The 
manor-place, or "Palace," as it was called, has dis- 
appeared, but the almshouse and school remain, wit- 
nesses of the munificence of the founders. The poor 
Duke, favourite minister of Henry VI, was exiled by the 
Yorkist faction, and beheaded by the sailors on his way 
to banishment. Twenty-five years of widowhood fell to 
the bereaved duchess, who finished her husband's build- 
ings, called the almshouses "God's House," and then 
reposed beneath one of the finest monuments in England 
in the church hard by. The almshouses at Audley End, 
Essex, are amongst the most picturesque in the country. 
Such are some of these charming homes of rest that time 
has spared. 

The old people who dwell in them are often as pic- 
turesque as their habitations. Here you will find an old 
woman with her lace-pillow and bobbins, spectacles on 
nose, and white bonnet with strings, engaged in working 
out some intricate lace pattern. In others you will see 
the inmates clad in their ancient liveries. The dwellers 
in the Coningsby Hospital at Hereford, founded in 1614 
for old soldiers and aged servants, had a quaint livery 
consisting of "a fustian suit of ginger colour, of a 
soldier-like fashion, and seemly laced ; a cloak of red 
cloth lined with red baize and reaching to the knees, 
to be worn in walks and journeys, and a gown of red 
cloth, reaching to the ankle, lined also with baize, to be 
worn within the hospital." They are, therefore, known 
as Red Coats. The almsmen of Ely and Rochester have 
cloaks. The inmates of the Hospital of St. Cross wear 
as a badge a silver cross potent. At Bottesford they 
have blue coats and blue "beef-eater" hats, and a silver 
badge on the left arm bearing the arms of the Rutland 
family — a peacock in its pride, surmounted by a coronet 
and surrounded by a garter. 

It is not now the fashion to found almshouses. We 
build workhouses instead, vast ugly barracks wherein 



348 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



the poor people are governed by all the harsh rules of the 
Poor Law, where husband and wife are separated from 
each other, and "those whom God hath joined together 
are," by man and the Poor Law, " put asunder " ; where 
the industrious labourer is housed with the lazy and 
ne'er-do-weel. The old almshouses were better homes 
for the aged poor, homes of rest after the struggle for 
existence, and harbours of refuge for the tired and weary 
till they embark on their last voyage. 




Cottages at Evesham 



CHAPTER XVI 
VANISHING FAIRS 

THE "oldest inhabitants" of our villages can 
remember many changes in the social conditions 
of country life. They can remember the hard 
time of the Crimean war when bread was two shillings 
and eightpence a gallon, when food and work were both 
scarce, and starvation wages were doled out. They can 
remember the " machine riots," and tumultuous scenes at 
election times, and scores of interesting facts, if only you 
can get them to talk and tell you their recollections. The 
changed condition of education puzzles them. They can 
most of them read, and perhaps write a little, but they 
prefer to make their mark and get you to attest it with the 
formula, "the mark of J — N." Their schooling was soon 
over. When they were nine years of age they were 
ploughboys, and had a rough time with a cantankerous 
ploughman who often used to ply his whip on his lad or 
on his horses quite indiscriminately. They have seen 
many changes, and do not always "hold with" modern 
notions ; and one of the greatest changes they have seen 
is in the fairs. They are not what they were. Some, 
indeed, maintain some of their usefulness, but most of 
them have degenerated into a form of mild Saturnalia, 
if not into a scandal and a nuisance ; and for that reason 
have been suppressed. 

Formerly quite small villages had their fairs. If you 
look at an old almanac you will see a list of fair-days with 
the names of the villages which, when the appointed days 
come round, cannot now boast of the presence of a single 
stall or merry-go-round. The day of the fair was nearly 

349 



35° 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



always on or near the festival of the patron saint to whom 
the church of that village is dedicated. There is, of course, 
a reason for this. The word "fair" is derived from the 
Latin vJordferia, which means a festival, the parish feast 
day. On the festival of the patron saint of a village 
church crowds of neighbours from adjoining villages 
would flock to the place, the inhabitants of which used to 




mi *■ mdl 

Stalls at Banbury Fair 

keep open house, and entertain all their relations and 
friends who came from a distance. They used to make 
booths and tents with boughs of trees near the church, 
and celebrated the festival with much thanksgiving and 
prayer. By degrees they began to forget their prayers 
and remembered only the feasting; country people flocked 
from far and near; the pedlars and hawkers came to find 
a market for their wares. Their stalls began to multiply, 
and thus the germ of a fair was formed. 

In such primitive fairs the traders paid no toll or rent 
for their stalls, but by degrees the right of granting per- 



VANISHING FAIRS 351 

mission to hold a fair was vested in the King, who for 
various considerations bestowed this favour on nobles, 
merchant guilds, bishops, or monasteries. Great profits 
arose from these gatherings. The traders had to pay toll 
on all the goods which they brought to the fair, in addi- 
tion to the payment of stallage or rent for the ground on 
which they displayed their merchandise, and also a 
charge on all the goods they sold. Moreover, the 
trades-folk of the town were obliged to close their shops 
during the days of the fair, and to bring their goods to 
the fair, so that the toll-owner might gain good profit 
withal. 

We can imagine, or try to imagine, the roads and 
streets leading to the market-place thronged with traders 
and chapmen, the sellers of ribbons and cakes, minstrels 
and morris-dancers, smock-frocked peasants and sombre- 
clad monks and friars. Then a horn was sounded, and the 
lord of the manor, or the bishop's bailiff, or the mayor 
of the town proclaimed the fair ; and then the cries of the 
traders, the music of the minstrels, the jingling of the 
bells of the morris-dancers, filled the air and added 
animation to the spectacle. 

There is a curious old gateway, opposite the fair-ground 
at Smithfield, which has just recently narrowly escaped 
destruction, and very nearly became part of the vanished 
glories of England. Happily the donations of the public 
poured in so well that the building was saved. This 
Smithfield gateway dates back to the middle of the thir- 
teenth century, the entrance to the Priory of St. Bartholo- 
mew, founded by Rahere, the court jester of Henry I, 
a century earlier. Every one knows the story of the 
building of this Priory, and has followed its extraordinary 
vicissitudes, the destruction of its nave at the dissolution 
of monasteries, the establishment of a fringe factory 
in the Lady Chapel, and the splendid and continuous 
work of restoration which has been going on during the 
last forty years. We are thankful that this choir of 
St. Bartholomew's Church should have been preserved 



352 VANISHING ENGLAND 

for future generations as an example of the earliest and 
most important ecclesiastical buildings in London. But 
we are concerned now with this gateway, the beauty 
of which is partially concealed by the neighbouring shops 
and dwellings that surround it, as a poor and vulgar 
frame may disfigure some matchless gem of artistic paint- 
ing. Its old stones know more about fairs than do most 
things. It shall tell its own history. You can still 
admire the work of the Early English builders, the reced- 
ing orders with exquisite mouldings and dog-tooth 
ornament — the hall-mark of the early Gothic artists. It 
looks upon the Smithfield market, and how many strange 
scenes of London history has this gateway witnessed ! 
Under its arch possibly stood London's first chronicler, 
Fitzstephen, the monk, when he saw the famous horse 
fairs that took place in Smithfield every Friday, which 
he described so graphically. Thither flocked earls, 
barons, knights, and citizens to look on or buy. The 
monk admired the nags with their sleek and shining 
coats, smoothly ambling along, the young blood colts not 
yet accustomed to the bridle, the horses for burden, strong 
and stout-limbed, and the valuable chargers of elegant 
shape and noble height, with nimbly moving ears, erect 
necks, and plump haunches. He waxes eloquent over 
the races, the expert jockeys, the eager horses, the shout- 
ing crowds. " The riders, inspired with the love of praise 
and the hope of victory, clap spurs to their flying horses, 
lashing them with their whips, and inciting them by 
their shouts " ; so wrote the worthy monk Fitzstephen. 
He evidently loved a horse-race, but he need not have 
given us the startling information, "their chief aim is to 
prevent a competitor getting before them." That surely 
would be obvious even to a monk. He also examined the 
goods of the peasants, the implements of husbandry, 
swine with their long sides, cows with distended udders, 
Corpora magna bourn, lanigerumque pecus, mares fitted 
for the plough or cart, some with frolicsome colts running 
by their sides. A very animated scene, which must have 



VANISHING FAIRS 353 

delighted the young eyes of the stone arch in the days of 
its youth, as it did the heart of the monk. 

Still gayer scenes the old gate has witnessed. Smith- 
field was the principal spot in London for jousts, tourna- 
ments, and military exercises, and many a grand display 
of knightly arms has taken place before this priory gate. 
" In 1357 great and royal jousts were then holden in 
Smithfield ; there being present the Kings of England, 
France, and Scotland, with many other nobles and great 
estates of divers lands," writes Stow. Gay must have 
been the scene in the forty-eighth year of Edward III, 
when Dame Alice Perrers, the King's mistress, as Lady 
of the Sun, rode from the Tower of London to Smithfield 
accompanied by many lords and ladies, every lady 
leading a lord by his horse-bridle, and there began a 
great joust which endured seven days after. The lists 
were set in the great open space with tiers of seats around, 
a great central canopy for the Queen of Beauty, the royal 
party, and divers tents and pavilions for the contending 
knights and esquires. It was a grand spectacle, adorned 
with all the pomp and magnificence of medieval chivalry. 
Froissart describes with consummate detail the jousts in 
the fourteenth year of Richard II, before a grand com- 
pany, when sixty coursers gaily apparelled for the jousts 
issued from the Tower of London ridden by esquires of 
honour, and then sixty ladies of honour mounted on 
palfreys, each lady leading a knight with a chain of gold, 
with a great number of trumpets and other instruments 
of music with them. On arriving at Smithfield the ladies 
dismounted, the esquires led the coursers which the 
knights mounted, and after their helmets were set on 
their heads proclamation was made by the heralds, the 
jousts began, "to the great pleasure of the beholders." 
But it was not all pomp and pageantry. Many and 
deadly were the fights fought in front of the old gate, 
when men lost their lives or were borne from the field 
mortally wounded, or contended for honour and life 
against unjust accusers. That must have been a sorry 
23 



354 VANISHING ENGLAND 

scene in 1446, when a rascally servant, John David, accused 
his master, William Catur, of treason, and had to face 
the wager of battle in Smithfield. The master was well 
beloved, and inconsiderate friends plied him with wine 
so that he was not in a condition to fight, and was slain 
by his servant. But Stow reminds us that the prosperity 
of the wicked is frail. Not long after David was hanged 
at Tyburn for felony, and the chronicler concludes : " Let 
such false accusers note this for example, and look for 
no better end without speedy repentance." He omits to 
draw any moral from the intemperance of the master and 
the danger of drunkenness. 

But let this suffice for the jousts in Smithfield. The 
old gateway heard on one occasion strange noises in the 
church, Archbishop Boniface raging with oaths not to be 
recited, and sounds of strife and shrieks and angry cries. 
This foreigner, Archbishop of Canterbury, had dared to 
come with his armed retainers from Provence to hold 
a visitation of the priory. The canons received him with 
solemn pomp, but respectfully declined to be visited by 
him, as they had their own proper visitor, a learned man, 
the Bishop of London, and did not care for another 
inspector. Boniface lost his temper, struck the sub-prior, 
saying, " Indeed, doth it become you English traitors so to 
answer me? " He tore in pieces the rich cope of the sub- 
prior ; the canons rushed to their brother's rescue and 
knocked the Archbishop down ; but his men fell upon the 
canons and beat them and trod them under foot. The 
old gateway was shocked and grieved to see the reverend 
canons running beneath the arch bloody and miry, rent 
and torn, carrying their complaint to the Bishop and then 
to the King at Westminster. After which there was 
much contention, and the whole city rose and would have 
torn the Archbishop into small pieces, shouting, ''Where 
is this ruffian? that cruel smiter ! " and much else that 
must have frightened and astonished Master Boniface and 
made him wish that he had never set foot in England, 
but stayed quietly in peaceful Provence. 



VANISHING FAIRS 355 

But this gateway loved to look upon the great fair that 
took place on the Feast of St. Bartholomew. This was 
granted to Rahere the Prior and to the canons and con- 
tinued for seven centuries, until the abuses of modern 
days destroyed its character and ended its career. The 
scene of the actual fair was within the priory gates in the 
churchyard, and there during the three days of its con- 
tinuance stood the booths and standings of the clothiers 
and drapers of London and of all England, of pewterers, 
and leather-sellers, and without in the open space before 
the priory were tents and booths and a noisy crowd of 
traders, pleasure-seekers, friars, jesters, tumblers, and 
stilt-walkers. This open space was just outside the 
turreted north wall of the city, and was girt by tall elms, 
and near it was a sheet of water whereon the London boys 
loved to skate when the frost came. It was the city 
playground, and the city gallows were placed there before 
they were removed to Tyburn. This dread implement of 
punishment stood under the elms where Cow Lane now 
runs : and one fair day brave William Wallace was 
dragged there in chains at the tails of horses, bruised and 
bleeding, and foully done to death after the cruel fashion 
of the age. All this must have aged the heart of the old 
gateway, and especially the sad sight of the countless 
burials that took place in the year of the Plague, 1349, 
when fifty thousand were interred in the burial ground of 
the Carthusians, and few dared to attend the fair for fear 
of the pestilence. 

Other terrible things the gateway saw : the burning of 
heretics. Not infrequently did these fires of persecution 
rage. One of the first of these martyrs was John Bedley, 
a tailor, burnt in Smithfield in 1410. In Fox's Book of 
Martyrs you can see a woodcut of the burning of 
Anne Ascue and others, showing a view of the Priory 
and the crowd of spectators who watched the poor 
lady die. Not many days afterwards the fair -folk 
assembled, while the ground was still black with her 
ashes, and dogs danced and women tumbled and the 



356 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



devil jeered in the miracle play on the spot where 
martyrs died. 

We should need a volume to describe all the sights of 
this wondrous fair, the church crowded with worshippers, 
the halt and sick praying for healing, the churchyard full 
of traders, the sheriff proclaiming new laws, the young 
men bowling at ninepins, pedlars shouting their wares, 




An Old English Fair 

players performing the miracle play on a movable stage, 
bands of pipers, lowing oxen, neighing horses, and bleat- 
ing sheep. It was a merry sight that medieval Bartholo- 
mew Fair. 

We still have Cloth Fair, a street so named, with a 
remarkable group of timber houses with over-sailing 
storeys and picturesque gables. It is a very dark and 
narrow thoroughfare, and in spite of many changes it 
remains a veritable "bit" of old London, as it was in 
the seventeenth century. These houses have sprung up 






VANISHING FAIRS 357 

where in olden days the merchants' booths stood for the 
sale of cloth. It was one of the great annual markets of 
the nation, the chief cloth fair in England that had no 
rival. Hither came the officials of the Merchant Tailors' 
Company bearing a silver yard measure, to try the 
measures of the clothiers and drapers to see if they were 
correct. And so each year the great fair went on, and 
priors and canons lived and died and were buried in the 
church or beneath the grass of the churchyard. But at 
length the days of the Priory were numbered, and it 
changed masters. The old gateway wept to see the 
cowled Black Canons depart when Henry VIII dissolved 
the monastery ; its heart nearly broke when it heard the 
sounds of axes and hammers, crowbars and saws, at 
work on the fabric of the church pulling down the grand 
nave, and it scowled at the new owner, Sir Richard Rich, 
a prosperous political adventurer, who bought the whole 
estate for £1064 us. 3d., and made a good bargain. 

The monks, a colony of Black Friars, came in again 
with Queen Mary, but they were driven out again when 
Elizabeth reigned, and Lord Rich again resumed posses- 
sion of the estate, which passed to his heirs, the Earls of 
Warwick and Holland. Each Sunday, however, the old 
gate welcomed devout worshippers on their way to the 
church, the choir having been converted into the parish 
church of the district, and was not sorry to see in 
Charles's day a brick tower rising at the west end. 

In spite of the changes of ownership the fair went on 
increasing with the increase of the city. But the scene 
has changed. In the time of James I the last elm tree 
had gone, and rows of houses, fair and comely buildings, 
had sprung up. The old muddy plain had been drained 
and paved, and the traders and pleasure-seekers could no 
longer dread the wading through a sea of mud. We 
should like to follow the fair through the centuries, and 
see the sights and shows. The puppet shows were 
always attractive, and the wild beasts, the first animal 
ever exhibited being "a large and beautiful young camel 



358 VANISHING ENGLAND 

from Grand Cairo in Egypt. This creature is twenty- 
three years old, his head and neck like those of a deer." 
One Flockton during the last half of the eighteenth 
century was the prince of puppet showmen, and he called 
his puppets the Italian Fantoccini. He made his figures 
work in a most lifelike style. He was a conjurer too, 
and the inventor of a wonderful clock which showed nine 
hundred figures at work upon a variety of trades. 
"Punch and Judy" always attracted crowds, and we 
notice the handbills of Mr. Robinson, conjurer to the 
Queen, and of Mr. Lane, who sings : 

It will make you to laugh, it will drive away gloom, 
To see how the eggs will dance round the room ; 
And from another egg a bird there will fly, 
Which makes all the company all for to cry, etc. 

The booths for actors were a notable feature of the fair. 
We read of Fielding's booth at the George Inn, of the 
performance of the Beggar's Opera in 1728, of Penketh- 
man's theatrical booth when Wat Taylor and Jack 
Straw was acted, of the new opera called The 
Generous Free Mason or the Constant Lady, of Jeph- 
t/ia/i's Rash Vow, and countless other plays that saw 
the light at Bartholomew Fair. The audience included 
not only the usual frequenters of fairs, but even royal 
visitors, noblemen, and great ladies flocked to the booths 
for amusement, and during its continuance the play- 
houses of London were closed. 

I must not omit to mention the other attractions, the 
fireproof lady, Madam Giradelli, who put melted lead in 
her mouth, passed red-hot iron over her body, thrust her 
arm into fire, and washed her hands in boiling oil ; Mr. 
Simon Paap, the Dutch dwarf, twenty-eight inches high ; 
bear-dancing, the learned pig, the "beautiful spotted 
negro boy," peep-shows, Wombell's royal menagerie, the 
learned cats, and a female child with two perfect heads. 

But it is time to ring down the curtain. The last days 
of the fair were not edifying. Scenes of riot and debauch, 
of violence and lawlessness disgraced the assembly. Its 



VANISHING FAIRS 



359 



usefulness as a gathering for trade purposes had passed 
away. It became a nuisance and a disgrace to London. 
In older days the Lord Mayor used to ride in his grand 
coach to our old gateway, and there proclaim it with a 
great flourish of trumpets. In 1850 his worship walked 




- ^ ■ 

An Ancient Maker of Nets in a Kentisli Fair 

quietly to the accustomed place, and found that there was 
no fair to proclaim, and five years later the formality was 
entirely dispensed with, and silence reigned over the his- 
toric ground over which century after century the hearts of 
our forefathers throbbed with the outspoken joys of life. 
The old gateway, like many aged folk, has much on 
which to meditate in its advanced a^e. 



360 VANISHING ENGLAND 

Many other fairs have been suppressed in recent years, 
but some survive and thrive with even greater vigour 
than ever. Some are hiring fairs, where you may see 
young men with whipcord in their caps standing in front 
of inns ready to be hired by the farmers who come to 
seek labourers. Women and girls too come to be hired, 
but their number decreases every year. Such is the 
Abingdon fair, which no rustic in the adjoining villages 
ever thinks of missing. We believe that the Notting- 
ham Goose Fair, which is attended by very large crowds, 
is also a hiring fair. "Pleasure fairs" in several towns 
and cities show no sign of diminished popularity. The 
famous St. Giles's Fair at Oxford is attended by thousands, 
and excursion trains from London, Cardiff, Reading, and 
other large towns bring crowds to join in the humours of 
the gathering, the shows covering all the broad space 
between St. Giles's Church and George Street. Reading 
Michaelmas Pleasure Fair is always a great attraction. 
The fair-ground is filled from end to end with roundabouts 
driven by steam, which also plays a hideous organ that 
grinds out popular tunes, swings, stalls, shows, menage- 
ries, and all "the fun of the fair." You can see biographs, 
hear phonographs, and a penny-in-the-slot will introduce 
you to wonderful sights, and have your fortune told, or 
shy at coco-nuts or Aunt Sally, or witness displays of 
boxing, or have a photograph taken of yourself, or watch 
weird melodramas, and all for a penny or two. No won- 
der the fair is popular. 

There is no reverence paid in these modern gatherings to 
old-fashioned ways and ancient picturesque customs, but 
in some places these are still observed with punctilious 
exactness. The quaint custom of " proclaiming the fair " 
at Honiton, in Devonshire, is observed every year, the 
town having obtained the grant of a fair from the lord of 
the manor so long ago as 1257. The fair still retains 
some of the picturesque characteristics of bygone days. 
The town crier, dressed in old-world uniform, and carry- 
ing a pole decorated with gay flowers and surmounted by 



362 VANISHING ENGLAND 

a large gilt model of a gloved hand, publicly announces 
the opening of the fair as follows : " Oyez ! Oyez ! Oyez ! 
The fair's begun, the glove is up. No man can be arrested 
till the o-love is taken down." Hot coins are then thrown 
amongst the children. The pole and glove remain dis- 
played until the end of the fair. 

Nor have all the practical uses of fairs vanished. On 
the Berkshire downs is the little village of West Ilsley ; 
there from time immemorial great sheep fairs are held, 
and flocks are brought thither from districts far and wide. 
Every year herds of Welsh ponies congregate at Black- 
water, in Hampshire, driven thither by inveterate custom. 
Every year in an open field near Cambridge the once 
great Stourbridge fair is held, first granted by King 
John to the Hospital for Lepers, and formerly proclaimed 
with great state by the Vice-Chancellor of the University 
and the Mayor of Cambridge. This was one of the largest 
fairs in Europe. Merchants of all nations attended it. 
The booths were planted in a cornfield, and the circuit 
of the fair, which was like a well-governed city, was about 
three miles. All offences committed therein were tried, 
as at other fairs, before a special court of pie-poudre, the 
derivation of which word has been much disputed, and 
I shall not attempt to conjecture or to decide. The shops 
were built in rows, having each a name, such as Garlick 
Row, Booksellers' Row, or Cooks' Row ; there were the 
cheese fair, hop fair, wood fair ; every trade was repre- 
sented, and there were taverns, eating-houses, and in 
later years playhouses of various descriptions. As late 
as the eighteenth century it is said that one hundred 
thousand pounds' worth of woollen goods were sold in a 
week in one row alone. But the glories of Stourbridge 
fair have all departed, and it is only a ghost now of its 
former greatness. 

The Stow Green pleasure fair, in Lincolnshire, which 
has been held annually for upwards of eight hundred 
years, having been established in the reign of Henry III, 
has practically ceased to exist. Held on an isolated 



VANISHING FAIRS 



3£>3 



common two miles from Billingborough, it was formerly 
one of the largest fairs in England for merchandise, and 
originally lasted for three weeks. Now it is limited to 
two days, and when it opened last year there were but few 
attractions. 

Fairs have enriched our language with at least one 
word. There is a fair at Ely founded in connexion with 
the abbey built by St. Etheldreda, and at this fair a 
famous " fairing " was " St. Audrey's laces." St. Audrey, 
or Etheldreda, in the days of her youthful vanity was very 
fond of wearing necklaces and jewels. " St. Audrey's 
laces" became corrupted into "Tawdry laces"; hence the 
adjective has come to be applied to all cheap and showy 
pieces of female ornament. 

Trade now finds its way by means of other channels 
than fairs. Railways and telegrams have changed the 
old methods of conducting the commerce of the country. 
But, as we have said, many fairs have contrived to sur- 
vive, and unless they degenerate into a scandal and a 
nuisance it is well that they should be continued. Educa- 
tion and the increasing sobriety of the nation may deprive 
them of their more objectionable features, and it would be 
a pity to prevent the rustic from having some amusements 
which do not often fall to his lot, and to forbid him from 
enjoying once a year "all the fun of the fair." 




CHAPTER XVII 

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF OLD 
DOCUMENTS 

THE history of England is enshrined in its ancient 
documents. Some of it may be read in its stone 
walls and earthworks. The builders of our 
churches stamped its story on their stones, and by the 
shape of arch and design of window, by porch and door- 
way, tower and buttress you can read the history of the 
building and tell its age and the dates of its additions and 
alterations. Inscriptions, monuments, and brasses help to 
fill in the details ; but all would be in vain if we had no 
documentary evidence, no deeds and charters, registers and 
wills, to help us to build up the history of each town and 
monastery, castle and manor. Even after the most careful 
searches in the Record Office and the British Museum it 
is very difficult oftentimes to trace a manorial descent. 
You spend time and labour, eyesight and midnight oil in 
trying to discover missing links, and very often it is all in 
vain ; the chain remains broken, and you cannot piece it 
together. Some of us whose fate it is to have to try and 
solve some of these genealogical problems, and spend 
hours over a manorial descent, are inclined to envy other 
writers who fill their pages currente calamo and are igno- 
rant of the joys and disappointments of research work. 

In the making of the history of England patient re- 
search and the examination of documents are, of course, 
all-important. In the parish chest, in the municipal 
charters and records, in court rolls, in the muniment- 
rooms of guilds and city companies, of squire and noble, 

364 



DISAPPEARANCE OF DOCUMENTS 365 

in the Record Office, Pipe Rolls, Close Rolls, royal 
letters and papers, etc., the real history of the country is 
contained. Masses of Rolls and documents of all kinds 
have in these late years been arranged, printed, and in- 
dexed, enabling the historical student to avail himself of 
vast stores of information which were denied to the 
historian of an earlier age, or could only be acquired by 
the expenditure of immense toil. 

Nevertheless, we have to deplore the disappearance of 
large numbers of priceless manuscripts, the value of 
which was not recognized by their custodians. Owing 
to the ignorance and carelessness of these keepers of 
historic documents vast stores have been hopelessly lost 
or destroyed, and have vanished with much else of the 
England that is vanishing. We know of a Corporation 
— that of Abingdon, in Berkshire, the oldest town in the 
royal county and anciently its most important — which 
possessed an immense store of municipal archives. These 
manuscript books would throw light upon the history of 
the borough ; but in their wisdom the members of the Cor- 
poration decided that they should be sold for waste 
paper ! A few gentlemen were deputed to examine the 
papers in older to see if anything was worth preserving. 
They spent a few hours on the task, which would have 
required months for even a cursory inspection, and much 
expert knowledge, which these gentlemen did not possess, 
and reported that there was nothing in the documents 
of interest or importance, and the books and papers were 
sold to a dealer. Happily a private gentleman purchased 
the "waste paper," which remains in his hands, and was 
not destroyed : but this example only shows the in- 
security of much of the material upon which local and 
municipal history depends. 

Court rolls, valuable wills and deeds are often placed 
by noble owners and squires in the custody of their solici- 
tors. They repose in peace in safes or tin boxes with the 
name of the client printed on them. Recent legislation 
has made it possible to prove a title without reference 



366 VANISHING ENGLAND 

to all the old deeds. Hence the contents of these boxes 
are regarded only as old lumber and of no value. A 
change is made in the office. The old family solicitor 
dies, and the new man proceeds with the permission of 
his clients to burn all these musty papers, which are of 
immense value in tracing the history of a manor or of 
a family. Some years ago a leading family solicitor 
became bankrupt. His office was full of old family deeds 
and municipal archives. What happened? A fire was 
kindled in the garden, and for a whole fortnight it was 
fed with parchment deeds and rolls, many of them of 
immense value to the genealogist and the antiquary. It 
was all done very speedily, and no one had a chance to 
interfere. This is only one instance of what we fear has 
taken place in many offices, the speedy disappearance of 
documents which can never be replaced. 

From the contents of the parish chests, from church- 
wardens' account-books, we learn much concerning the 
economic history of the country, and the methods of the 
administration of local and parochial government. As 
a rule persons interested in such matters have to content 
themselves with the statements of the ecclesiastical law 
books on the subject of the repair of churches, the law of 
church rates, the duties of churchwardens, and the con- 
stitution and power of vestries. And yet there has always 
existed a variety of customs and practices which have 
stood for ages on their prescriptive usage with many 
complications and minute differentiations. These old 
account-books and minute-books of the churchwardens 
in town and country are a very large but a very perish- 
able and rapidly perishing treasury of information on 
matters the very remembrance of which is passing away. 
Yet little care is taken of these books. An old book is 
finished and filled up with entries ; a new book is begun. 
No one takes any care of the old book. It is too bulky 
for the little iron register safe. A farmer takes charge 
of it ; his children tear out pages on which to make their 
drawings ; it is torn, mutilated, and forgotten,, ajad the 



DISAPPEARANCE OF DOCUMENTS 367 

record perishes. All honour to those who have tran- 
scribed these documents with much labour and endless 
pains and printed them. They will have gained no 
money for their toil. The public do not show their 
gratitude to such laborious students by purchasing many 
copies, but the transcribers know that they have fitted 
another stone in the Temple of Knowledge, and enabled 
antiquaries, genealogists, economists, and historical in- 
quirers to find material for their pursuits. 

The churchwardens' accounts of St. Mary's, Thame, 
and some of the most interesting in the kingdom, are 
being printed in the Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Archceologi- 
cal Journal. The originals were nearly lost. Somehow 
they came into the possession of the Buckinghamshire 
Archaeological Society. The volume was lent to the late 
Rev. F. Lee, in whose library it remained and could not 
be recovered. At his death it was sold with his other 
books, and found its way to the Bodleian Library at 
Oxford. There it was transcribed by Mr. Patterson 
Ellis, and then went back to the Buckinghamshire Society 
after its many wanderings. It dates back to the fifteenth 
century, and records many curious items of pre-Reforma- 
tion manners and customs. 

From these churchwardens' accounts we learn how our 
forefathers raised money for the expenses of the church 
and of the parish. Provision for the poor, mending of 
roads, the improvement of agriculture by the killing of 
sparrows, all came within the province of the vestry, as 
well as the care of the church and churchyard. We learn 
about such things as "Gatherings" at Hocktide, May- 
day, All Hallow-day, Christmas, and Whitsuntide, the 
men stopping the women on one day and demanding 
money, while on the next day the women retaliated, and 
always gained more for the parish fund than those of the 
opposite sex : Church Ales, the Holy Loaf, Paschal 
Money, Watching the Sepulchre, the duties of clerks 
and clergymen, and much else, besides the general 
principles of local self-government, which the vestry- 



368 VANISHING ENGLAND 

men carried on until quite recent times. There are few 
books that provide greater information or more absorb- 
ing interest than these wonderful books of accounts. It is 
a sad pity that so many have vanished. 

The parish register books have suffered less than the 
churchwardens' accounts, but there has been terrible 
neglect and irreparable loss. Their custody has been 
frequently committed to ignorant parish clerks, who had 
no idea of their utility beyond their being occasionally 
the means of putting a shilling into their pockets for 
furnishing extracts. Sometimes they were in the care of 
an incumbent who was forgetful, careless, or negligent. 
Hence they were indifferently kept, and baptisms, burials, 
and marriages were not entered as they ought to have 
been. In one of my own register books an indignant 
parson writes in the year 1768: "There does not appear 
any one entry of a Baptism, Marriage, or Burial in the 
old Register for nine successive years, viz. from the year 
1732 till the year 1741, when this Register commences." 
The fact was that the old parchment book beginning 
a.d. 1553 was quite full and crowded with names, and the 
rector never troubled to provide himself with a new one. 
Fortunately this sad business took place long before our 
present septuagenarians were born, or there would be much 
confusion and uncertainty with regard to old-age pensions. 

The disastrous period of the Civil War and the Com- 
monwealth caused great confusion and many defects in 
the registers. Very often the rector was turned out of 
his parish ; the intruding minister, often an ignorant 
mechanic, cared naught for registers. Registrars were 
appointed in each parish who could scarcely sign their 
names, much less enter a baptism. Hence we find very 
frequent gaps in the books from 1643 to 1660. At Tar- 
porley, Cheshire, there is a break from 1643 to 1648, upon 
which a sorrowful vicar remarks : — 

"This Intermission hapned by reason of the great wars 
obliterating memorials, wasting fortunes, and slaughter- 
ing persons of all sorts." 



DISAPPEARANCE OF DOCUMENTS 369 

The Parliamentary soldiers amused themselves by tear- 
ing out the leaves in the registers for the years 1604 to 
the end of 1616 in the parish of Wimpole, Cambridge- 
shire. 

There is a curious note in the register of Tunstall, 
Kent. There seems to have been a superfluity of mem- 
bers of the family of Pottman in this parish, and the 
clergyman appears to have been tired of recording their 
names in his books, and thus resolves : — 

" 1557 Mary Pottman nat. & bapt. 15 Apr. 
Mary Pottman n. & b. 29 Jan. 
Mary Pottman sep. 22 Aug. 

1567 
From henceforw (l I omitt the Pottmans." 

Fire has played havoc with parish registers. The old 
register of Arborfield, Berkshire, was destroyed by a fire 
at the rectory. Those at Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, 
were burnt in a fire which consumed two-thirds of the 
town in 1676, and many others have shared the same 
fate. The Spaniards raided the coast of Cornwall in 
1595 and burnt the church at Paul, when the registers 
perished in the conflagration. 

Wanton destruction has caused the disappearance of 
many parish books. There was a parish clerk at Plungar 
in Leicestershire who combined his ecclesiastical duties 
with those of a grocer. He found the pages of the parish 
register very useful for wrapping up his groceries. The 
episcopal registry of Ely seems to have been plundered 
at some time of its treasures, as some one purchased 
a book entitled Registrum causarum Consistorii Eliensis 
de Tempore Domini Thome de Arundele Episcopi E/iensis, 
a large quarto, written on vellum, containing 162 double 
pages, which was purchased as waste paper at a grocer's 
shop at Cambridge together with forty or fifty old books 
belonging to the registry of Ely. The early registers at 
Christ Church, Hampshire, were destroyed by a curate's 
wife who had made kettle-holders of them, and would 
perhaps have consumed the whole parish archives in this 
24 



370 VANISHING ENGLAND 

homely fashion, had not the parish clerk, by a timely 
interference, rescued the remainder. One clergyman, 
being unable to transcribe certain entries which were 
required from his registers, cut them out and sent them 
by post; and an Essex clerk, not having ink and paper at 
hand for copying out an extract, calmly took out his 
pocket-knife and cut out two leaves, handing them to the 
applicant. Sixteen leaves of another old register were 
cut out by the clerk, who happened to be a tailor, in order 
to supply himself with measures. Tradesmen seem to 
have found these books very useful. The marriage 
register of Hanney, Berkshire, from 1754 to 1760 was 
lost, but later on discovered in a grocer's shop. 

Deplorable has been the fate of these old books, so 
valuable to the genealogist. Upon the records contained 
there the possession of much valuable property may 
depend. The father of the present writer was engaged 
in proving his title to an estate, and required certificates 
of all the births, deaths, and marriages that had occurred 
in the family during a hundred years. All was com- 
plete save the record of one marriage. He discovered 
that his ancestor had eloped with a young lady, and the 
couple had married in London at a City church. The 
name of the church where the wedding was said to have 
taken place was suggested to him, but he discovered 
that it had been pulled down. However, the old parish 
clerk was discovered, who had preserved the books ; the 
entry was found, and all went well and the title to the 
estate established. How many have failed to obtain 
their rights and just claims through the gross neglect of 
the keepers or custodians of parochial documents? 

An old register was kept in the drawer of an old table, 
together with rusty iron and endless rubbish, by a parish 
clerk who was a poor labouring man. Another was said 
to be so old and " out of date " and so difficult to read by 
the parson and his neighbours, that it had been tossed 
about the church and finally carried off by children and 
torn to pieces. The leaves of an old parchment register 






DISAPPEARANCE OF DOCUMENTS 371 

were discovered sewed together as a covering for the 
tester of a bedstead, and the daughters of a parish clerk, 
who were lace-makers, cut up the pages of a register for 
a supply of parchment to make patterns for their lace 
manufacture. Two Leicestershire registers were rescued, 
one from the shop of a bookseller, the other from the 
corner cupboard of a blacksmith, where it had lain perish- 
ing and unheard of more than thirty years. The follow- 
ing- extract from Notes and Oueries tells of the sad fate of 
other books : — 

"On visiting the village school of Colton it was dis- 
covered that the ' Psalters ' of the children were covered 
with the leaves of the Parish Register ; some of them 
were recovered, and replaced in the parish chest, but 
many were totally obliterated and cut away. This dis- 
covery led to further investigation, which brought to light 
a practice of the Parish Clerk and Schoolmaster of the 
day, who to certain ' goodies ' of the village, gave the 
parchment leaves for hutkins for their knitting pins." 

Still greater desecration has taken place. The registers 
of South Otterington, containing several entries of the 
great families of Talbot, Herbert, and Falconer, were 
kept in the cottage of the parish clerk, who used all those 
preceding the eighteenth century for waste paper, and 
devoted not a few to the utilitarian employment of singe- 
ing a goose. At Appledore the books were lost through 
having been kept in a public-house for the delectation of 
its frequenters. 

But many parsons have kept their registers with con- 
summate care. The name of the Rev. John Yate, rector 
of Rodmarton, Gloucestershire, in 1630, should be men- 
tioned as a worthy and careful custodian on account of 
his quaint directions for the preservation of his registers. 
He wrote in the volume : — 

" If you will have this Book last, bee sure to aire it att 
the fier or in the Sunne three or foure times a yeare — els 
it will grow dankish and rott, therefore look to it. It will 
not be amisse when you finde it dankish to wipe over the 



372 VANISHING ENGLAND 

leaves with a dry woollen cloth. This place is very much 
subject to dankishness, therefore I say looke to it." 

Sometimes the parsons adorned their books with their 
poetical effusions either in Latin or English. Here are two 
examples, the first from Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire ; 
the second from Ruyton, Salop : — 

Hie puer aetatem, his Vir sponsalia noscat. 
Hie decessorum funera quisque sciat. 

No Flatt'ry here, where to be born and die 
Of rich and poor is all the history. 
Enough, if virtue fill'd the space between, 
Prov'd, by the ends of being, to have been. 

Bishop Kennet urged his clergy to enter in their registers 
not only every christening, wedding, or burial, which 
entries have proved some of the best helps for the pre- 
serving of history, but also any notable events that may 
have occurred in the parish or neighbourhood, such 
as "storms and lightning, contagion and mortality, 
droughts, scarcity, plenty, longevity, robbery, murders, 
or the like casualties. If such memorable things were 
fairly entered, your parish registers would become 
chronicles of many strange occurrences that would not 
otherwise be known and would be of great use and 
service for posterity to know." 

The clergy have often acted upon this suggestion. In 
the registers of Cranbrook, Kent, we find a long account 
of the great plague that raged there in 1558, with certain 
moral reflections on the vice of " drunkeness which 
abounded here," on the base characters of the persons 
in whose houses the Plague began and ended, on the 
vehemence of the infection in " the Inns and Suckling 
houses of the town, places of much disorder," and tells 
how great dearth followed the Plague "with much wail- 
ing and sorrow," and how the judgment of God seemed 
but to harden the people in their sin. 

The Eastwell register contains copies of the Protesta- 
tion of 1642, the Vow and Covenant of 1643, and the 
Solemn League and Covenant of the same year, all 



DISAPPEARANCE OF DOCUMENTS 373 

signed by sundry parishioners, and of the death of the 
last of the Plantagenets, Richard by name, a bricklayer 
by trade, in 1550, whom Richard III acknowledged to be 
his son on the eve of the battle of Bosworth. At St. 
Oswalds, Durham, there is the record of the hanging 
and quartering in 1590 of "Duke, Hyll, Hogge and 
Holyday, iiij Semynaryes, Papysts, Tretors and Rebels 
for their horrible offences." "Burials, 1687 April 17th 
Georges Vilaus Lord dooke of bookingham," is the 
illiterate description of the Duke who was assassinated 
by Felton and buried at Helmsley. It is impossible to 
mention all the gleanings from parish registers ; each 
parish tells its tale, its trades, its belief in witchcraft, its 
burials of soldiers killed in war, its stories of persecution, 
riot, sudden deaths, amazing virtues, and terrible sins. 
The edicts of the laws of England, wise and foolish, are 
reflected in these pages, e.g. the enforced burial in 
woollen ; the relatives of those who desired to be buried 
in linen were obliged to pay fifty shillings to the informer 
and the same sum to the poor of the parish. The tax on 
marriages, births, and burials, levied by the Government 
on the estates of gentlemen in 1693, is also recorded in 
such entries as the following : — 

" 1700. Mr. Thomas Cullum buried 27 Dec. As 
the said Mr. Cullum was a gentleman, there is 24s. 
to be paid for his buriall." The practice of heart-burial is 
also frequently demonstrated in our books. Extraordinary 
superstitions and strong beliefs, the use of talismans, 
amulets, and charms, astrological observations, the black 
art, scandals, barbarous punishments, weird customs that 
prevailed at man's most important ceremonies, his 
baptism, marriage and burial, the binding of apprentice- 
ships, obsolete trades, such as that of the person who is 
styled " aquavity man" or the "saltpetre man," the 
mode of settling quarrels and disputes, duels, sports, 
games, brawls, the expenses of supplying a queen's 
household, local customs and observances — all these find 
a place in these amazing records. In short, there is 



374 VANISHING ENGLAND 

scarcely any feature of the social life of our forefathers 
which is not abundantly set forth in our parish registers. 
The loss of them would indeed be great and over- 
whelming. 

As we have said, many of them have been lost by fire 
and other casualties, by neglect and carelessness. The 
guarding of the safety of those that remain is an anxious 
problem. Many of us would regret to part with our 
registers and to allow them to leave the church or town 
or village wherein they have reposed so long. They are 
part of the story of the place, and when American ladies 
and gentlemen come to find traces of their ancestors they 
love to see these records in the village where their fore- 
fathers lived, and to carry away with them a photograph 
of the church, some ivy from the tower, some flowers 
from the rectory garden, to preserve in their western 
homes as memorials of the place whence their family 
came. It would not be the same thing if they were to be 
referred to a dusty office in a distant town. Some wise 
people say that all registers should be sent to London, to 
the Record Office or the British Museum. That would 
be an impossibility. The officials of those institutions 
would tremble at the thought, and the glut of valuable 
books would make reference a toil that few could under- 
take. The real solution of the difficulty is that county 
councils should provide accommodation for all deeds and 
documents, that all registers should be transcribed, that 
copies should be deposited in the county council de- 
pository, and that the originals should still remain in the 
parish chest where they have lain for three centuries and 
a half. 






CHAPTER XVIII 
OLD CUSTOMS THAT ARE VANISHING 

MANY writers have mourned over the decay of 
our ancient customs which the restlessness 
of modern life has effectually killed. New 
manners are ever pushing out the old, and the lover 
of antiquity may perhaps be pardoned if he prefers the 
more ancient modes. The death of the old social customs 
which added such diversity to the lives of our forefathers 
tends to render the countryman's life one continuous 
round of labour unrelieved by pleasant pastime, and if 
innocent pleasures are not indulged in, the tendency is to 
seek for gratification in amusements that are not innocent 
or wholesome. 

The causes of the decline and fall of many old customs 
are not far to seek. Agricultural depression has killed 
many. The deserted farmsteads no longer echo with the 
sounds of rural revelry ; the cheerful log-fires no longer 
glow in the farmer's kitchen ; the harvest-home song has 
died away ; and "largess" no longer rewards the mum- 
mers and the morris-dancers. Moreover, the labourer 
himself has changed ; he has lost his simplicity. His lot 
is far better than it was half a century ago, and he no 
longer takes pleasure in the simple joys that delighted 
his ancestors in days of yore. Railways and cheap 
excursions have made him despise the old games and 
pastimes which once pleased his unenlightened soul. 
The old labourer is dead, and his successor is a very 
''up-to-date" person, who reads the newspapers and has his 
ideas upon politics and social questions that would have 
startled his less cultivated sire. The modern system of 

375 



376 VANISHING ENGLAND 

elementary education also has much to do with the decay 
of old customs. 

Still we have some left. We can only here record a few 
that survive. Some years ago I wrote a volume on the 
subject, and searched diligently to find existing customs 
in the remote corners of old England. 1 My book proved 
useful to Sir Benjamin Stone, m.p., the expert photo- 
grapher of the House of Commons, who went about with 
his camera to many of the places indicated, and by his art 
produced permanent presentments of the scenes which 
I had tried to describe. He was only just in time, as 
doubtless many of these customs will soon pass away. 
It is, however, surprising to find how much has been left; 
how tenaciously the English race clings to that which 
habit and usage have established ; how deeply rooted they 
are in the affections of the people. It is really remarkable 
that at the present day, in spite of ages of education and 
social enlightenment, in spite of centuries of Christian 
teaching and practice, we have now amongst us many 
customs which owe their origin to pagan beliefs and 
the superstitions of our heathen forefathers, and have no 
other raison d'etre for their existence than the wild legends 
of Scandinavian mythology. 

We have still our Berkshire mummers at Christmas, 
who come to us disguised in strange garb and begin their 
quaint performance with the doggerel rhymes — 

I am King George, that noble champion bold, 

And with my trusty sword I won ten thousand pounds in gold ; 

'Tvvas I that fought the fiery dragon, and brought him to the slaughter, 

And by these means I won the King of Egypt's daughter. 2 

Other counties have their own versions. In Staffordshire 
they are known as the " Guisers," in Cornwall as the 
"Geese-dancers," in Sussex as the "Tipteerers." Carol- 
singers are still with us, but often instead of the old carols 
they sing very badly and irreverently modern hymns, 

1 Old English Customs Exlcuit at the Present Time (Methuen and Co.). 
- The book of words is printed in Old English Customs, by P. H. 
Ditchfield. 



CUSTOMS THAT ARE VANISHING 377 

though in Cambridgeshire you may still hear " God bless 
you, merry gentlemen," and the vessel-boxes (a corruption 
of wassail) are still carried round in Yorkshire. At 
Christmas Cornish folk eat giblet-pie, and Yorkshiremen 
enjoy furmenty ; and mistletoe and the kissing-bush are 
still hung in the hall ; and in some remote parts of Corn- 
wall children may be seen dancing round painted lighted 
candles placed in a box of sand. The devil's passing- 
bell tolls on Christmas Eve from the church tower at 
Dewsbury, and a muffled peal bewails the slaughter of 
the children on Holy Innocents' Day. The boar's head 
is still brought in triumph into the hall of Queen's College. 
Old women "go a-gooding " or mumping on St. Thomas's 
Day, and " hoodening " or horse-head mumming is 
practised at Walmer, and bull-hoodening prevails at 
Kingscote, in Gloucestershire. The ancient custom of 
" goodening " still obtains at Braughing, Herts. The 
Hertfordshire Mercury of December 28, 1907, states that 
on St. Thomas's Day (December 21) certain of the more 
sturdy widows of the village went round "goodening," 
and collected £4 14s. 6d., which was equally divided 
among the eighteen needy widows of the parish. In 1899 
the oldest dame who took part in the ceremony was aged 
ninety-three, while in 1904 a widow " goodened " for the 
thirtieth year in succession. In the Herts and Cambs 
Reporter for December 23, 1904, is an account of " Good- 
ing Day" at Gamlingay. It appears that in 1665 some 
almshouses for aged women (widows) were built there by 
Sir John Jacob, Knight. "On Wednesday last (St. 
Thomas's Day)," says this journal, " an interesting cere- 
mony was to be seen. The old women were gathered at 
the central doorway . . . preparatory to a pilgrimage to 
collect alms at the houses of the leading inhabitants. 
This old custom, which has been observed for nearly 
three hundred years, it is safe to say, will not fall into 
desuetude, for it usually results in each poor widow 
realising a gold coin." In the north of England first- 
footing on New Year's Eve is common, and a dark-corn- 



378 VANISHING ENGLAND 

plexioned person is esteemed as a herald of good fortune. 
Wassailing exists in Lancashire, and the apple-wassailing 
has not quite died out on Twelfth Night. Plough Mon- 
day is still observed in Cambridgeshire, and the " plough- 
bullocks " drag around the parishes their ploughs and 
perform a weird play. The Haxey hood is still thrown 
at that place in Lincolnshire on the Feast of the Epiphany, 
and valentines are not quite forgotten by rural lovers. 

Shrovetide is associated with pancakes. The pancake 
bell is still rung in many places, and for some occult 
reason it is the season for some wild football games in the 
streets and lanes of several towns and villages. At St. 
Ives on the Monday there is a grand hurling match, 
which resembles a Rugby football contest without the 
kicking of the ball, which is about the size of a cricket- 
ball, made of cork or light wood. At Ashbourne on 
Shrove-Tuesday thousands join in the game, the origin 
of which is lost in the mists of antiquity. As the old 
church clock strikes two a little speech is made, the 
National Anthem sung, and then some popular devotee 
of the game is hoisted on the shoulders of excited players 
and throws up the ball. "She's up," is the cry, and 
then the wild contest begins, which lasts often till night- 
fall. Several efforts have been made to stop the game, 
and even the judge of the Court of Queen's Bench had 
to decide whether it was legal to play the game in the 
streets. In spite of some opposition it still flourishes, 
and is likely to do so for many a long year. Sedgefield, 
Chester-le-Street, Alnwick, Dorking also have their 
famous football fights, which differ much from an ordinary 
league match. In the latter thousands look on while 
twenty-two men show their skill. In these old games all 
who wish take part in them, all are keen champions and 
know nothing of professionalism. 

" Ycleping," or, as it is now called, clipping churches, 
is another Shrovetide custom, when the children join 
hands round the church and walk round it. It has just 
been revived at Painswick, in the Cotswolds, where 



CUSTOMS THAT ARE VANISHING 379 

after being performed for many hundred years it was 
discontinued by the late vicar. On the patron saint's 
day (St. Mary's) the children join hands in a ring 
round the church and circle round the building sing- 
ing. It is the old Saxon custom of "ycleping," or 
naming the church on the anniversary of its original 
dedication. 

Simnels on Mothering Sunday still exist, reminding us 
of Herrick's lines : — 

I'll to thee a Simnel bring-, 
'Gainst thou goes a mothering ; 
So that when she blesseth thee 
Half the blessing thou'lt give me. 

Palm Sunday brings some curious customs. At 
Roundway Hill, and at Martinsall, near Marlborough, 
the people bear "palms," or branches of willow and 
hazel, and the boys play a curious game of knocking a 
ball with hockey-sticks up the hill ; and in Buckingham- 
shire it is called Fig Sunday, and also in Hertfordshire. 
Hertford, Kempton, Edlesborough, Dunstable are homes 
of the custom, nor is the practice of eating figs and fig- 
pies unknown in Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxford- 
shire, Wilts, and North Wales. Possibly the custom is 
connected with the withering of the barren fig-tree. 

Good Friday brings hot-cross-buns with the well-known 
rhyme. Skipping on that day at Brighton is, I expect, 
now extinct. Sussex boys play marbles, Guildford folk 
climb St. Martha's Hill, and poor widows pick up six- 
pences from a tomb in the churchyard of St. Bartholomew 
the Great, London, on the same Holy Day. 

Easter brings its Pace eggs, symbols of the Resurrec- 
tion, and Yorkshire children roll them against one 
another in fields and gardens. The Biddenham cakes are 
distributed, and the Hallaton hare-scramble and bottle- 
kicking provide a rough scramble and a curious festival 
for Easter Monday. On St. Mark's Day the ghosts of 
all who will die during the year in the villages of York- 
shire pass at midnight before the waiting people, and 



3 8o VANISHING ENGLAND 

Hock-tide brings its quaint diversions to the little Berk- 
shire town of Hungerford. 

The diversions of May Day are too numerous to be 
chronicled here, and I must refer the reader to my book 
for a full description of the sports that usher in the spring ; 
but we must not forget the remarkable Furry Dance at 
Helston on May 8th, and the beating of the bounds of 
many a township during Rogation Week. Our boys still 
wear oak-leaves on Royal Oak Day, and the Durham 
Cathedral choir sing anthems on the top of the tower in 
memory of the battle of Neville's Cross, fought so long 
ago as the year 1346. 

Club-feasts and morris-dancers delight the rustics at 
Whitsuntide, and the wakes are well kept up in the 
north of England, and rush-bearing at Ambleside, and 
hay-strewing customs in Leicestershire. The horn dance 
at Abbot Bromley is a remarkable survival. The fires 
on Midsummer Eve are still lighted in a few places in 
Wales, but are fast dying out. Ratby, in Leicestershire, 
is a home of old customs, and has an annual feast, when 
the toast of the immortal memory of John of Gaunt is 
drunk with due solemnity. Harvest customs were for- 
merly very numerous, but are fast dying out before the 
reaping-machines and agricultural depression. The 
"kern-baby" has been dead some years. 

Bonfire night and the commemoration of the discovery 
of Gunpowder Plot and the burning of " guys " are still 
kept up merrily, but few know the origin of the festivities 
or concern themselves about it. Soul cakes and souling 
still linger on in Cheshire, and cattering and clemmening 
on the feasts of St. Catherine and St. Clement are still 
observed in East Sussex. 

Very remarkable are the local customs which linger on 
in some of our towns and villages and are not confined to 
any special day in the year. Thus, at Abbots Ann, near 
Andover, the good people hang up effigies of arms and 
hands in memory of girls who died unmarried, and gloves 
and garlands of roses are sometimes hung for the same 



CUSTOMS THAT ARE VANISHING 381 

purpose. The Dunmow Flitch is a well-known matri- 
monial prize for happy couples who have never quarrelled 
during the first year of their wedded life ; while a Skim- 
merton expresses popular indignation against quarrelsome 
or licentious husbands and wives. 

Many folk-customs linger around wells and springs, 
the haunts of nymphs and sylvan deities who must be 
propitiated by votive offerings and are revengeful when 
neglected. Pins, nails, and rags are still offered, and the 
custom of " well-dressing," shorn of its pagan associa- 
tions and adapted tc Christian usage, exists in all its 
glory at Tissington, Youlgrave, Derby, and several other 
places. 

The three great events of human life — birth, marriage, 
and death— have naturally drawn around them some of 
the most curious beliefs. These are too numerous to be 
recorded here, and I must again refer the curious reader 
to my book on old-time customs. We should like to 
dwell upon the most remarkable of the customs that 
prevail in the City of London, in the halls of the Livery 
Companies, as well as in some of the ancient boroughs 
of England, but this record would require too large a 
space. Bell-ringing customs attract attention. The curfew- 
bell still rings in many towers ; the harvest-bell, the 
gleaning-bell, the pancake-bell, the "spur-peal," the 
eight-hours' bell, and sundry others send out their 
pleasing notice to the world. At Aldermaston land is 
let by means of a lighted candle. A pin is placed through 
the candle, and the last bid that is made before that pin 
drops out is the occupier of the land for a year. The 
Church Acre at Chedzoy is let in a similar manner, and 
also at Todworth, Warton, and other places. Wiping 
the shoes of those who visit a market for the first time is 
practised at Brixham, and after that little ceremony they 
have to "pay their footing." At St. Ives raffling for 
Bibles continues, according to the will of Dr. Wilde in 
1675, and in church twelve children cast dice for six 
Bibles. Court, Bar, and Parliament have each their 



382 VANISHING ENGLAND 

peculiar customs which it would be interesting to note, if 
space permitted ; and we should like to record the curious 
bequests, doles, and charities which display the eccentrici- 
ties of human nature and the strange tenures of land 
which have now fallen into disuse. 

It is to be hoped that those who are in a position to 
preserve any existing custom in their own neighbourhood 
will do their utmost to prevent its decay. Popular customs 
are a heritage which has been bequeathed to us from a 
remote past, and it is our duty to hand down that heritage 
to future generations of English folk. 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE VANISHING OF ENGLISH SCENERY 
AND NATURAL BEAUTY 

NOT the least distressing of the losses which we 
have to mourn is the damage that has been 
done to the beauty of our English landscapes 
and the destruction of many scenes of sylvan loveliness. 
The population of our large towns continues to increase 
owing to the insensate folly that causes the rural exodus. 
People imagine that the streets of towns are paved with 
gold, and forsake the green fields for a crowded slum, 
and after many vicissitudes and much hardship wish 
themselves back again in their once despised village 
home. I was lecturing to a crowd of East End 
Londoners at Toynbee Hall on village life in ancient 
and modern times, and showed them views of the old 
village street, the cottages, manor-houses, water-mills, 
and all the charms of rural England, and after the 
lecture I talked with many of the men who remembered 
their country homes which they had left in the days of 
their youth, and they all wished to go back there again, 
if only they could find work and had not lost the power 
of doing it. But the rural exodus continues. Towns 
increase rapidly, and cottages have to be found for these 
teeming multitudes. Many a rural glade and stretch of 
woodland have to be sacrificed, and soon streets are 
formed and rows of unsightly cottages spring up like 
magic, with walls terribly thin, that can scarcely stop the 
keenness of the wintry blasts, so thin that each neighbour 

383 



384 VANISHING ENGLAND 

can hear your conversation, and if a man has a few words 
with his wife all the inhabitants of the row can hear 
him. 

Garden cities have arisen as a remedy for this evil, 
carefully planned dwelling-places wherein some thought 
is given to beauty and picturesque surroundings, to plots 
for gardens, and to the comfort of the fortunate citizens. 
But some garden cities are garden only in name. 
Cheap villas surrounded by unsightly fields that have 
been spoilt and robbed of all beauty, with here and 
there unsightly heaps of rubbish and refuse, only delude 
themselves and other people by calling themselves garden 
cities. Too often there is no attempt at beauty. Cheap- 
ness and speedy construction are all that their makers 
strive for. 

These growing cities, ever increasing, ever enclosing 
fresh victims in their hideous maw, work other ills. They 
require much food, and they need water. Water must be 
found and conveyed to them. This has been no easy task 
for many corporations. For many years the city of 
Liverpool drew its supply from Rivington, a range 
of hills near Bolton-le-Moors, where there were lakes 
and where they could construct others. Little harm was 
done there ; but the city grew and the supply was in- 
sufficient. Other sources had to be found and tapped. 
They found one in Wales. Their eyes fell on the Lake 
Vyrnwy, and believed that they found what they sought. 
But that, too, could not supply the millions of gallons 
that Liverpool needed. They found that the whole vale 
of Llanwddyn must be embraced. A gigantic dam 
must be made at the lower end of the valley, and the 
whole vale converted into one great lake. But there 
were villages in the vale, rural homes and habitations, 
churches and chapels, and over five hundred people who 
lived therein and must be turned out. And now the 
whole valley is a lake. Homes and churches lie beneath 
the waves, and the graves of the "women that sleep," of 
the rude forefathers of the hamlet, of bairns and dear 






VANISHING OF ENGLISH SCENERY 385 

ones are overwhelmed by the pitiless waters. It is all 
very deplorable. 

And now it seems that the same thing must take place 
again : but this time it is an English valley that is con- 
cerned, and the people are the country folk of North 
Hampshire. There is a beautiful valley not far from 
Kingsclere and Newbury, surrounded by lovely hills 
covered with woodland. In this valley in a quiet little 
village appropriately called Woodlands, formed about 
half a century ago out of the large parish of Kingsclere, 
there is a little hamlet named Ashford Hill, the modern 
church of St. Paul, Woodlands, pretty cottages with 
pleasant gardens, a village inn, and a dissenting chapel. 
The churchyard is full of graves, and a cemetery has been 
lately added. This pretty valley with its homes and 
church and chapel is a doomed valley. In a few years 
time if a former resident returns home from Australia or 
America to his native village he will find his old cottage 
gone from the light of the sun and buried beneath the 
still waters of a huge lake. It is almost certain that such 
will be the case with this secluded rural scene. The eyes 
of Londoners have turned upon the doomed valley. 
They need water, and water must somehow be procured. 
The great city has no pity. The church and the village 
will have to be removed. It is all very sad. As a 
writer in a London paper says : " Under the best of con- 
ditions it is impossible to think of such an eviction with- 
out sympathy for the grief that it must surely cause to 
some. The younger residents may contemplate it cheer- 
fully enough ; but for the elder folk, who have spent lives 
of sunshine and shade, toil, sorrow, joy, in this peaceful 
vale, it must needs be that the removal will bring a regret 
not to be lightly uttered in words. The soul of man clings 
to the localities that he has known and loved ; perhaps, 
as in Wales, there will be some broken hearts when the 
water flows in upon the scenes where men and women 
have met and loved and wedded, where children have been 
born, where the beloved dead have been laid to rest." 

25 



386 VANISHING ENGLAND 

The old forests are not safe. The Act of 1851 caused 
the destruction of miles of beautiful landscape. Peacock, 
in his story of Giyll Grange, makes the announcement 
that the New Forest is now enclosed, and that he proposes 
never to visit it again. Twenty-five years of ruthless 
devastation followed the passing of that Act. The deer 
disappeared. Stretches of open beechwood and green 
lawns broken by thickets of ancient thorn and holly 
vanished under the official axe. Woods and lawns were 
cleared and replaced by miles and miles of rectangular fir 
plantations. The Act of 1876 with regard to forest land 
came late, but it, happily, saved some spots of sylvan 
beauty. Under the Act of 185 1 all that was ancient and 
delightful to the eye would have been levelled, or hidden 
in fir-wood. The later Act stopped this wholesale destruc- 
tion. We have still some lofty woods, still some scenery 
that shows how England looked when it was a land of blow- 
ing woodland. The New Forest is maimed and scarred, 
but what is left is precious and unique. It is primeval 
forest land, nearly all that remains in the country. Are 
these treasures safe? Under the Act of 1876 managers 
are told to consider beauty as well as profit, and to abstain 
from destroying ancient trees ; but much is left to the 
decision and to the judgment of officials, and they are not 
always to be depended on. 

After having been threatened with demolition for a 
number of years, the famous Winchmore Hill Woods are 
at last to be hewn down and the land is to be built upon. 
These woods, which it was Hood's and Charles Lamb's 
delight to stroll in, have become the property of a 
syndicate, which will issue a prospectus shortly, and many 
of the fine old oaks, beeches, and elms already bear the 
splash of white which marks them for the axe. The woods 
have been one of the greatest attractions in the neigh- 
bourhood, and public opinion is strongly against the 
demolition. 

One of the greatest services which the National Trust 
is doing for the country is the preserving of the natural 



VANISHING OF ENGLISH SCENERY 387 

beauties of our English scenery. It acquires, through 
the generosity of its supporters, special tracts of lovely 
country, and says to the speculative builder " Avaunt ! " 
It maintains the landscape for the benefit of the public. 
People can always go there and enjoy the scenery, and 
townsfolk can fill their lungs with fresh air, and children 
play on the greensward. These oases afford sanctuary to 
birds and beasts and butterflies, and are of immense value 
to botanists and entomologists. Several properties in the 
Lake District have come under the aegis of the Trust. 
Seven hundred and fifty acres around Ullswater have 
been purchased, including Gowbarrow Fell and Aira 
Force. By this, visitors to the English lakes can have 
unrestrained access over the heights of Gowbarrow Fell, 
through the glen of Aira and along a mile of Ullswater 
shore, and obtain some of the loveliest views in the 
district. It is possible to trespass in the region of the 
lakes. It is possible to wander over hills and through 
dales, but private owners do not like trespassers, and it 
is not pleasant to be turned back by some officious ser- 
vant. Moreover, it needs much impudence and daring 
to traverse without leave another man's land, though it 
be bare and barren as a northern hill. The Trust invites 
you to come, and you are at peace, and know that no man 
will stop you if you walk over its preserves. Moreover, it 
holds a delectable bit of country on Lake Derwentwater, 
known as the Brandlehow Park Estate. It extends for 
about a mile along the shore of the lake and reaches up 
the fell-side to the unenclosed common on Catbels. It is 
a lovely bit of woodland scenery. Below the lake glistens 
in the sunlight and far away the giant hills Blencatha, 
Skiddaw, and other heights rear their heads. It cost the 
Trust £7000, but no one would deem the money ill-spent. 
Almost the last remnant of the primeval fenland of East 
Anglia, called Wicken Fen, has been acquired by the 
Trust, and also Burwell Fen, the home of many rare 
insects and plants. Near London we see many bits of 
picturesque land that have been rescued, where the 



388 VANISHING ENGLAND 

teeming population of the great city can find rest and 
recreation. Thus at Hindhead, where it has been said 
villas seem to have broken out upon the once majestic hill 
like a red skin eruption, the Hindhead Preservation Com- 
mittee and the Trust have secured 750 acres of common 
land on the summit of the hill, including the Devil's 
Punch Bowl, a bright oasis amid the dreary desert of 
villas. Moreover, the Trust is waging a battle with the 
District Council of Hambledon in order to prevent the 
Hindhead Commons from being disfigured by digging 
for stone for mending roads, causing unsightliness and 
the sad disfiguring of the commons. May it succeed 
in its praiseworthy endeavour. At Toy's Hill, on a 
Kentish hillside, overlooking the Weald, some valuable 
land has been acquired, and part of Wandle Park, 
Wimbledon, containing the Merton Mill Pond and its 
banks, adjoining the Recreation Ground recently provided 
by the Wimbledon Corporation, is now in the possession 
of the Trust. It is intended for the quiet enjoyment of 
rustic scenery by the people who live in the densely 
populated area of mean streets of Merton and Morden, 
and not for the lovers of the more strenuous forms of 
recreation. Ide Hill and Crockham Hill, the properties 
of the Trust, can easily be reached by the dwellers in 
London streets. 

We may journey in several directions and find traces of 
the good work of the Trust. At Barmouth a beautiful 
cliff known as Dinas-o-lea, Llanlleiana Head, Anglesey, 
the fifteen acres of cliff land at Tintagel, called Barras 
Head, looking on to the magnificent pile of rocks on 
which stand the ruins of King Arthur's Castle, and the 
summit of Kymin, near Monmouth, whence you can see 
a charming view of the Wye Valley, are all owned and 
protected by the Trust. Every one knows the curious 
appearance of Sarsen stones, often called Grey Wethers 
from their likeness to a flock of sheep lying down amidst 
the long grass of a Berkshire or Wiltshire down. These 
stones are often useful for building purposes and for 



VANISHING OF ENGLISH SCENERY 389 

road-mending. There is a fine collection of these curious 
stones, which were used in prehistoric times for building 
Stonehenge, at Pickle Dean and Lockeridge Dean. 
These are adjacent to high roads and would soon have 
fallen a prey to the road surveyor or local builder. Hence 
the authorities of this Trust stepped in ; they secured for 
the nation these characteristic examples of a unique 
geological phenomenon, and preserved for all time a 
curious and picturesque feature of the country traversed 
by the old Bath Road. All that the Trust requires is 
"more force to its elbow," increased funds for the pre- 
servation of the natural beauty of our English scenery, 
and the increased appreciation on the part of the public 
and of the owners of unspoilt rural scenes to extend its 
good work throughout the counties of England. 

A curious feature of vanished or vanishing England is 
the decay of our canals, which here and there with their 
unused locks, broken towpaths, and stagnant waters 
covered with weeds form a pathetic and melancholy part 
of the landscape. If you look at the map of England 
you will see, besides the blue curvings that mark the 
rivers, other threads of blue that show the canals. Much 
was expected of them. They were built just before the 
railway era. The whole country was covered by a net- 
work of canals. Millions were spent upon their construc- 
tion. For a brief space they were prosperous. Some 
places, like our Berkshire Newbury, became the centres of 
considerable traffic and had little harbours filled with 
barges. Barge-building was a profitable industry. Fly- 
boats sped along the surface of the canals conveying 
passengers to towns or watering-places, and the company 
were very bright and enjoyed themselves. But all are 
dead highways now, strangled by steam and by the rail- 
ways. The promoters of canals opposed the railways 
with might and main, and tried to protect their properties. 
Hence the railways were obliged to buy them up, and 
then left them lone and neglected. The change was 
tragic. You can, even now, travel all over the country 



390 VANISHING ENGLAND 

by the means of these silent waterways. You start from 
London along the Regent's Canal, which joins the Grand 
Junction Canal, and this spreads forth northwards and 
joins other canals that ramify to the Wash, to Manchester 
and Liverpool and Leeds. You can go to every great 
town in England as far as York if you have patience and 
endless time. There are four thousand miles of canals in 
England. They were not well constructed ; we built 
them just as we do many other things, without any 
regular system, with no uniform depth or width or 
carrying capacity, or size of locks or height of bridges. 
Canals bearing barges of forty tons connect with those 
capable of bearing ninety tons. And now most of them 
are derelict, with dilapidated banks, foul bottoms, and 
shallow horse haulage. The bargemen have taken to 
other callings, but occasionally you may see a barge 
looking gay and bright drawn by an unconcerned 
horse on the towpath, with a man lazily smoking his 
pipe at the helm and his family of water gipsies, who 
pass an open-air, nomadic existence, tranquil, and en- 
tirely innocent of schooling. He is a survival of an 
almost vanished race which the railways have caused to 
disappear. 

Much destruction of beautiful scenery is, alas ! inevit- 
able. Trade and commerce, mills and factories, must 
work their wicked will on the landscapes of our country. 
Mr. Ruskin's experiment on the painting of Turner, 
quoted in our opening chapter, finds its realisation in 
many places. There was a time, I suppose, when the 
Mersey was a pure river that laved the banks carpeted 
with foliage and primroses on which the old Collegiate 
Church of Manchester reared its tower. It is now, and 
has been for years, an inky-black stream or drain running 
between stone walls, where it does not hide its foul 
waters for very shame beneath an arched culvert. There 
was a time when many a Yorkshire village basked in the 
sunlight. Now they are great overgrown towns usually 
enveloped in black smoke. The only day when you can 



VANISHING OF ENGLISH SCENERY 391 

see the few surviving beauties of a northern manufactur- 
ing town or village is Sunday, when the tall factory- 
chimneys cease to vomit their clouds of smoke which kills 
the trees, or covers the struggling leaves with black soot. 
We pay dearly for our commercial progress in this 
sacrifice of Nature's beauties. 



CHAPTER XX 
CONCLUSION 

WHATEVER method can be devised for the 
prevention of the vanishing of England's 
chief characteristics are worthy of considera- 
tion. First there must be the continued education of the 
English people in the appreciation of ancient buildings 
and other relics of antiquity. We must learn to love 
them, or we shall not care to preserve them. An ignorant 
squire or foolish landowner may destroy in a day some 
priceless object of antiquity which can never be replaced. 
Too often it is the agent who is to blame. Squires are 
very much in the hands of their agents, and leave much 
to them to decide and carry out. When consulted they 
do not take the trouble to inspect the threatened building, 
and merely confirm the suggestions of the agents. Estate 
agents, above all people, need education in order that the 
destruction of much that is precious may be averted. 

The Government has done well in appointing commis- 
sions for England, Scotland, and Wales to inquire into 
and report on the condition of ancient monuments, but 
we lag behind many other countries in the task of protect- 
ing and preserving the memorials of the past. 

In France national monuments of historic or artistic 
interest are scheduled under the direction of the Minister 
of Public Instruction and Fine Arts. In cases in which 
a monument is owned by a private individual, it usually 
may not be scheduled without the consent of the owner, 
but if his consent is withheld the State Minister is em- 
powered to purchase compulsorily. No monument so 
scheduled may be destroyed or subjected to works of 

392 



CONCLUSION 393 

restoration, repair, or alteration without the consent of 
the Minister, nor may new buildings be annexed to it 
without permission from the same quarter. Generally 
speaking, the Minister is advised by a commission of 
historical monuments, consisting of leading officials con- 
nected with fine arts, public buildings, and museums. 
Such a commission has existed since 1837, anc ^ very con- 
siderable sums of public money have been set apart to 
enable it to carry on its work. In 1879 a classification of 
some 2500 national monuments was made, and this classi- 
fication has been adopted in the present law. It includes 
megalithic remains, classical remains, and medieval, 
Renaissance, and modern buildings and ruins. 1 

We do not suggest that in England we should imitate 
the very drastic restorations to which some of the French 
abbeys and historic buildings are subjected. The author- 
ities have erred greatly in destroying so much original 
work and their restorations, as in the case of Mont St. 
Michel, have been practically a rebuilding. 

The Belgian people appear to have realized for a very 
long time the importance of preserving their historic and 
artistic treasures. By a royal decree of 1824 bodies in 
charge of church temporalities are reminded that they are 
managers merely, and while they are urged to undertake 
in good time the simple repairs that are needed for the 
preservation of the buildings in their charge, they are 
strictly forbidden to demolish any ecclesiastical building 
without authority from the Ministry which deals with the 
subject of the fine arts. By the same decree they are 
likewise forbidden to alienate works of art or historical 
monuments placed in churches. Nine years later, in 
1835, in view of the importance of assuring the preserva- 
tion of all national monuments remarkable for their 
antiquity, their association, or their artistic value, another 

1 A paper read by Mr. Nigel Bond, Secretary of the National Trust, at 
a meeting of the Dorset Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, to 
which paper the writer is indebted for the subsequent account of the pro- 
ceedings of foreign governments with regard to the preservation of their 
ancient monuments. 



394 VANISHING ENGLAND 

decree was issued constituting a Royal Commission for 
the purpose of advising as to the repairs required by such 
monuments. Nearly 200,000 francs are annually voted 
for expenditure for these purposes. The strict applica- 
tion of these precautionary measures has allowed a number 
of monuments of the highest interest in their relation to 
art and archaeology to be protected and defended, but 
it does not appear that the Government controls in any 
way those monuments which are in the hands of private 
persons. 1 

In Holland public money to the extent of five or six 
thousand pounds a year is spent on preserving and main- 
taining national monuments and buildings of antiquarian 
and architectural interest. In Germany steps are being 
taken which we might follow with advantage in this 
country, to control and limit the disfigurement of land- 
scapes by advertisement hoardings. 

A passage from the ministerial order of 1884 with 
reference to the restoration of churches may be justly 
quoted : — 

" If the restoration of a public building is to be com- 
pletely successful, it is absolutely essential that the person 
who directs it should combine with an enlightened aesthetic 
sense an artistic capacity in a high degree, and, more- 
over, be deeply imbued with feelings of veneration for all 
that has come down to us from ancient times. If a 
restoration is carried out without any real comprehension 
of the laws of architecture, the result can only be a pro- 
duction of common and dreary artificiality, recognizable 
perhaps as belonging to one of the architectural styles, 
but wanting the stamp of true art, and, therefore, in- 
capable of awakening the enthusiasm of the spectator." 

And again : — 

" In consequence of the removal or disfigurement of 
monuments which have been erected during the course of 
centuries — monuments which served, as it were, as docu- 
ments of the historical development of past periods of 
culture, which have, moreover, a double interest and 
value if left undisturbed on the spot where they were 

1 Ibid. 



CONCLUSION 395 

originally erected — the sympathy of congregations with 
the history of their church is diminished, and, a still 
more lamentable consequence, a number of objects of 
priceless artistic value destroyed or squandered, whereby 
the property of the church suffers a serious loss." 

How much richer might we be here in England if only 
our central authorities had in the past circulated these 
admirable doctrines ! 

Very wisely has the Danish Government prohibited the 
removal of stones from monuments of historic interest for 
utilitarian purposes, such as is causing the rapid disap- 
pearance of the remains on Dartmoor in this country ; 
and the Greeks have stringent regulations to ensure the 
preservation of antiquities, which are regarded as national 
property, and may on no account be damaged either by 
owner or lessee. It has actually been found necessary to 
forbid the construction of limekilns nearer than two miles 
from any ancient ruins, in order to remove the temptation 
for the filching of stones. In Italy there are stringent 
laws for the protection of historical and ancient monu- 
ments. Road-mending is a cause of much destruction of 
antiquarian objects in all countries, even in Italy, where 
the law has been invoked to protect ancient monuments 
from the highway authorities. 

We need not record the legal enactments of other 
Governments, so admirably summarized by Mr. Bond in 
his paper read before the Dorset Natural History and 
Antiquarian Field Club. We see what other countries 
much poorer than our own are doing to protect their 
national treasures, and though the English Government 
has been slow in realizing the importance of the ancient 
monuments of this country, we believe that it is inclined 
to move in the right direction, and to do its utmost to pre- 
serve those that have hitherto escaped the attacks of the 
iconoclasts, and the heedlessness and stupidity of the 
Gallios "who care for none of these things." 

When an old building is hopelessly dilapidated, what 
methods can be devised for its restoration and preserva- 



396 VANISHING ENGLAND 

tion? To pull it down and rebuild it is to destroy its 
historical associations and to make it practically a new 
structure. Happily science has recently discovered a 
new method for the preserving of these old buildings 
without destroying them, and this good angel is the 
grouting machine, the invention of Mr. James Great- 
head, which has been the means of preventing much of 
vanishing England. Grout, we understand, is a mixture 
of cement, sand, and water, and the process of grouting 
was probably not unknown to the Romans. But the 
grouting machine is a modern invention, and it has only 
been applied to ancient buildings during the last six or 
seven years. 1 It is unnecessary to describe its mechanism, 
but its admirable results may be summarized. Suppose 
an old building shows alarming cracks. By compressed 
air you blow out the old decayed mortar, and then damp- 
ing the masonry by the injection of water, you insert the 
nozzle of the machine and force the grout into the cracks 
and cavities, and soon the whole mass of decayed masonry 
is cemented together and is as sound as ever it was. 
This method has been successfully applied to Winchester 
Cathedral, the old walls of Chester, and to various 
churches and towers. It in no way destroys the charac- 
teristics and features of the building, the weatherworn 
surfaces of the old stones, their cracks and deformations, 
and even the moss and lichen which time has planted 
on them need not be disturbed. Pointing is of no avail 
to preserve a building, as it only enters an inch or two in 
depth. Underpinning is dangerous if the building be 
badly cracked, and may cause collapse. But if you shore 
the structure with timber, and then weld its stones to- 
gether by applying the grouting machine, you turn the 
whole mass of masonry into a monolith, and can then 
strengthen the foundations in any way that may be found 
necessary. The following story of the saving of an old 
church, as told by Mr. Fox, proclaims the merits of this 

1 A full account of this useful invention was g-iven in the Times Engineer- 
ing- Supplement, March 18th, 1908, by Mr. Francis Fox, M. Inst.C. E. 



CONCLUSION 397 

scientific invention better than any description can pos- 
sibly do : — 

"The ancient church of Corhampton, near Bishops 
Waltham, in Hampshire, is an instance. This Saxon 
church, 1300 years old, was in a sadly dilapidated condi- 
tion. In the west gable there were large cracks, one from 
the ridge to the ground, another nearer the side wall, both 
wide enough for a man's arm to enter ; whilst at the north- 
west angle the Saxon work threatened to fall bodily off. 
The mortar of the walls had perished through age, and 
the ivy had penetrated into the interior of the church in 
every direction. It would have been unsafe to attempt 
any examination of the foundations for fear of bringing 
down the whole fabric; consequently the grouting machine 
was applied all over the building. The grout escaped at 
every point, and it occupied the attention of the masons 
both inside and outside to stop it promptly by plastering 
clay on to the openings from which it was running. 

"After the operation had been completed and the clay 
was removed, the interior was found to be completely 
filled with cement set very hard ; and sufficient depth 
having been left for fixing the flint work outside and 
tiling inside, the result was that no trace of the crack was 
visible, and the walls were stronger and better than they 
had ever been before. Subsequent steps were then taken 
to examine and, where necessary, to underpin the walls, 
and the church is saved, as the vicar, the Rev. H. Chur- 
ton, said, 'all without moving one of the Saxon "long 
and short" stones.' " 

In our chapter on the delightful and picturesque old 
bridges that form such beautiful features of our English 
landscapes, we deplored the destruction now going on 
owing to the heavy traction-engines which some of them 
have to bear and the rush and vibration of motor-cars 
which cause the decay of the mortar and injure their 
stability. Many of these old bridges, once only wide 
enough for pack-horses to cross, then widened for the 
accommodation of coaches, beautiful and graceful in 
every way, across which Cavaliers rode to fight the 
Roundheads, and were alive with traffic in the old coach- 
ing days, have been pulled down and replaced by the 



398 VANISHING ENGLAND 

hideous iron-girder arrangements which now disfigure so 
many of our streams and rivers. In future, owing to this 
wonderful invention of the grouting machine, these old 
bridges can be saved and made strong enough to last 
another five hundred years. Mr. Fox tells us that an 
old Westmoreland bridge in a very bad condition has 
been so preserved, and that the celebrated " Auld Brig 
o' Ayr " has been saved from destruction by this means. 
A wider knowledge of the beneficial effects of this wonder- 
ful machine would be of invaluable service to the country, 
and prevent the passing away of much that in these pages 
we have mourned. By this means we may be able to 
preserve our old and decaying buildings for many cen- 
turies, and hand down to posterity what Ruskin called 
the great entail of beauty bequeathed to us. 

Vanishing England has a sad and melancholy sound. 
Nevertheless, the examples we have given of the historic 
buildings, and the beauties of our towns and villages, 
prove that all has not yet disappeared which appeals to 
the heart and intellect of the educated Englishman. And 
oftentimes the poor and unlearned appreciate the relics 
that remain with quite as much keenness as their richer 
neighbours. A world without beauty is a world without 
hope. To check vandalism, to stay the hand of the 
iconoclast and destroyer, to prevent the invasion and 
conquest of the beauties bequeathed to us by our fore- 
fathers by the reckless and ever-engrossing commercial 
and utilitarian spirit of the age, are some of the objects 
of our book, which may be useful in helping to preserve 
some of the links that connect our own times with the 
England of the past, and in increasing the appreciation 
of the treasures that remain by the Englishmen of 
to-day. 



INDEX 



Abbey towns, 210-29 
Abbot's Ann, 3S1 

— Hospital, Guildford, 343 
Abingdon, 278 

— bridge, 320 

— hospital, 344 

— archives of, 365 
Age, a progressive, 2 
Albans, St., Abbey, 212 

inn at, 254 

Aldeburgh, 18 

Aldermaston, 196, 3S1 

Alfriston, 256 

Allington Castle, 124 

Alnwick, 31 

Almshouses, 333-48 

Almsmen's liveries, 346 

American rapacity, 6-7, 164, 183 

Ancient Monuments Commission, 

392 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle on Castles, 

116 
Armour, 184 

Art treasures dispersed, 5 
Ashbury camp, 208 
Atleburgh, Norfolk, 147 
Avebury, stone circle at, 207 

— manor-house, 180 
Aylesbury, Vale of, 86, 91 

— inn at, 256 



Bainbridge, inn at, 254 

Banbury, 83 

Barkham, 148 

Barnard Castle, 1 19 

Barrington Court, 189 

Bartholomew's, St., Priory, 351-9 

Bath, city of, 220 

Beauty of English scenery vanishing, 

383-91 
Berkeley Castle, 118 
Berwick-on- Tweed, 29, 31 
Beverley, 303, 310 
Bewcastle Cross, 288 
Bledlow Crosses, 303 
Bodiam Castle, 1 25 
Bonfires of old deeds, 366 



Bosham, 16 
Bournemouth, 17 
Bowthorpe, 139 
Boxford, 145 

Bradford-on-Avon, 142, 32S 
Branks, 315 

Bray, Jesus Hospital at, 340 
Bridges, destruction of, 10 
— old, 318-32 
Bridgwater Bay, 17 
Bridlington, 17 
Bristol Cathedral, 220 
Burford, 94 

Burgh-next-Walton, 17 
Burgh Castle, 1 12 



Caister Castle, 126 

Canals, 389 

Canterbury Cathedral, 211 

— inns at, 248 
Capel, Surrey, 82 
Castles, old, 1 1 1-32 
Cathedral cities, 210-29 
Caversham bridge, 322 
Chalfont St. Giles, 88 
Charms of villages, 67 
Chester, 50 

Chests, church, 159 
Chests in houses, 196 
Chichester, 164 

— hospital at, 335 
Chingford, Essex, 141 
Chipping Campden, 345 
Chipping monuments, 164 
Church, a painted, 158 

— furniture, 158 

— plate, 160 

Churches, Vanishing or Vanished, 

133-65 
Churchwarden's account-books, 366 

Cinque Ports, 23 

Cirencester, 270 

Clipping churches, 37S 

Clock .It Wells, 214 

Cloth Fair, Smithfield, 356 

t !oasl erosion, 15 -27 
Coastguards, their uses, 27 



399 



4-oo 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



Cobham, 336 
Coleshill bridge, 326 
Colston Bassett, 139 
Commonwealth, spoliation during 

the, 148, 220 
Compton Wynyates, 174 
Conway, 31 

Corhampton church, 397 
Cornwall, prehistoric remains- in, 

204 
Corsham, 345 

Cottages, beauties of old, 68, 108 
Covehithe, 17 
Coventry, 58, 255, 345 
Cowper at Weston, 170 
Cranbrook registers, 372 
Crane bridge, Salisbury, 327 
Cromer, 17 
Crosses, 283-305 

— wayside, 293 

— market, 293 

— boundary, 300 

— at Cross-roads and Holy Wells, 

300 

— sanctuary, 303 

— as guide-posts, 303 
Crowhurst, 181 
Croyland bridge, 324 
Cucking stool, 314 

Curious entries in registers, 373 
Customs that are vanishing, 375-82 



Deal, 86 

Derby, West, stocks restored, 312 

Devizes, inn at, 260 

Dickens, C. , and inns, 242 

Disappearance of England, 15-27 

Documents, disappearance of old, 

3 6 4-74 
Dover Castle, 117 
Dowsing, W. , spoliator, 148 
Dunwich, 22 



Eashing bridge, 327 

Eastbourne, 17 

Easter customs, 379 

Easton Bavent, 17 

Edwardian castles, 123 

Elizabethan house, an, 104, 178 

Ely fair, 363 

— registry plundered, 369 

England, disappearance of, 15-27 

Essex, 100 

Estate agents, 10 

Evesham, 223 

Ewelme, 345 

Exeter town hall, 280 

Experience, a weird, 171 



Fairs, vanishing, 349-63 
Fastolfe, Sir John, 126 
Felixstowe, 18 
Fig Sunday, 379 
Fires in houses, 166 
Fishermen's Hospital, 342 
Fitzstephen on Smithfield Fair, 352 
Flagon, a remarkable, 194 
Football in streets, 378 
Forests destroyed, 386 
Foreign governments and monu- 
ments, 392-5 
Friday, Good, customs on, 379 
Furniture, old, 196 
— church, 158 



Galleting, 78 
Garden cities, 384 
Gates of Chester, 51 
Geffery Almshouses, 337 
Gibbet-irons, 316 
Glastonbury, 147, 250 

— powder-horn found at, 192 
Gloucester, 252 
Goodening custom, 377 
Gorleston, 45 

Gosforth Cross, 289 
Grantham, inns at, 240 

— crosses at, 298 
Greenwich, the "Ship" at, 260 
Grouting machine, 396 
Guildford, 343 

Guildhalls, 268 

Guildhall at Lynn, 38 

Gundulf, a builder of castles, 115 



Hall, Bishop, his palace, 246 

Halton Cross, 291 

Hampton, 17 

Happisburgh, 17 

Hardy, T. , on restoration, 156 

Hartwell House, 196 

Heckfield, 160 

Heme Bay, 17 

Hever Castle, 124 

Higham Ferrers, 335 

Hints to Churcfnvardens, 153 

Holinshed quoted, 177, 191 

Holman Hunt, Mr., on bridges, 318 

Honiton Fair, 360 

Hornby Cross, 292 

Horsham slates, 80 

Horsmonden, Kent, 82 

Hospitals, old, 333-48 

Houses, old, 104, 171 

— destroyed, 5 

— half-timber, 57, 74, 107 
Hungate, St. Peter, Norwich, 140 



INDEX 



401 



Hungerford, 30S, 314 
Huntingdon, inn at, 240 
— bridge at, 327 



Ilsley, West, sheep fair, 362 
Inns, signs of, 262 

— old, 230-65 

— retired from business, 259 

— at Banbury, 84 
Intvvood, Norfolk, 140 
Ipswich, 45 

Irving, Washington, on Inns, 234 
Ivy, evils of, 141 



Jessop, spoliator, 150 
Jousts at Smithfield, 353 



Kent bridges, 326 
Keswick, Norfolk, 140 
Kilnsea, 17, 21 
Kirby Bedon, 139 
Kirkstead, 141 



Leeds Cross, 290 

— Castle, 123 
Leominster, 314 
Levellers at Burford, 97 
Lichgate at Chalfont, 90 
Links with past severed, 3 
Liscombe, Dorset, 140 
Littleport, 86 

Llanrwst bridge, 320 
Llanwddyn vale destroyed, 384 
London, vanishing, 1 1 

— churches, 135 

— growth of, 70 

— Inns, 238 

— Livery Companies' Almshouses, 

338 

— Paul s Cross, 304 

— St. Bartholomew's Fair, 351-9 

— water supply threatens a village, 

385 
Lowestoft, 150 
Lynn Bay, 17 
Lynn Regis, 35, 342 



Mali's Cross, Wigan, 304 
Maidstone, 280 
Maidenhead bridge, 320 
Maldon, 103 
Manor-bouses, 177 
Mansions, old, ibu-202 
Marlborough, inn at, 259 
Martyrs burnt at Smithfield, 253 

26 



Megalithic remains, 203 
Memory, folk, instance of, 208 
Menhirs, 203, 204 
Merchant Guilds, 267 
Milton's Cottage, 88 
" Mischief, the Load of," 262 
Monmouthshire castles, 128 
Mothering Sunday, 379 
Mottes, Norman, m, 115 
Mumming at Christmas, 376 
Municipal buildings, old, 266-82 



National Trust for the Protection of 
Places of Historic Interest, 141, 
189, 278, 281, 386 

Newbury, stocks at, 309 

— town hall, 274 
Newcastle, 1 1 1 

— walls, 34 

New Forest partly destroyed, 386 
Newton-by-Corton, 17 
Norham Castle, 120 
Norton St. Philip, 255 
Nottingham Goose Fair, 360 
Norwich, 244, 271 

— hospitals at, 342 



Ockwells, Berks, 187 
Olney bridge, 330 
Orford Castle, 118 
Oundle, 338 
Oxford, 70 



St. Giles's Fair, 360 



Palimpsest brasses, 147 

Palm Sunday customs, 379 

Pakefield, 17 

Paston family, 126, 140, 246 

Penshurst, 1S1 

Pevensey Castle, 1 1 2 

Plaster, the use of, 180 

Plough Monday, 37S 

Pontefract Castle, 121 

Poole, 17 

Porchestcr Castle, 1 1 2 

Ports and harbours, 84 

Portsmouth, 86 

Poulton-in-the-Fylde, 31 1 

Pounds, 512 

Prehistoric remains, destruction 

203-9 
Preservation of registers, 374 
Progress, 2 
Punishments, old-time, 300-17 



Quainton, Bucks, 337 



of, 



4-02 



VANISHING ENGLAND 



Radcot bridge, 323 
Ranton, house at, 107 

— priory, 138 
Ravensburgh, 20, 21 
Reading, guild hall at, 274 

— Fair, 360 

Rebels' heads on gateways, 32 
Reculver, 23 

Reformation, iconoclasm at, 145, 218 
Register books, parish, 368 
Restoration, evils of, 9, 10, 151, 153, 

156, 220 
Richard II., murder of, 121 
Richmond, in, 260 
Ringstead, 140 
Rochester, 35, 248 
Rollright stones, 204 
Roman fortresses, 114 
Rood-screens removed, 158 
Roudham, 140 
Rows at Yarmouth, 42 

Portsmouth, 86 

Ruskin, 3, 67, 198, 200 
Ruthwell Cross, 289 
Rye, 60 



Saffron Walden, 100 

Salisbury, halls of guilds at, 28 1 

Sandwich, 34 

St. Albans Cathedral, 212 

inn at, 254 

St. Audrey's laces, 363 

St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield, 

35 '-9 
St. Margaret's Bay, 17 
Salisbury, halls of guilds at, 281, 

294 
Sandwich, 34 
Saxon churches, 144 
Scenery, vanishing of English, 3, 

383-91 
Scold's bridle, 315 

Sea-serpent at Heybridge, 104 

Selsea, 23 

"Seven Stars" at Manchester, 252 

Shingle, flow of, 26 

Shrewsbury, 52, 270 

Shrivenham, Berks, 165 

Shrovetide customs, 37S 

Signboards, 264 

Sieges of towns, 32 

Simnels, 379 

Skegness, 21 

Skipton, 310 

Smithfield Fair, 351-9 

Smuggling, 258 

Society for Protection of Ancient 

Buildings, 141, 320, 326 
Somerset, Duke of, spoliator, 146 



Somerset crosses, 296 

Sonning bridges, 318 

Southport, 16 

Southwell, inn at, 144 

Southwold, 17, 18 

Staircases, old, 196 

Staffordshire churches, 136 

Stamford, hospitals at, 336 

Stilton, inn at, 243 

Stocks, 306-17 

— in literature, 307 

Stonehenge, 205 

Storeys, projecting, 72 

Stourbridge Fair, 362 

Stow Green Fair, 362 

Strategic position of castles, 114 

Streets and lanes, in, 67-1 10 

Stump Cross, 304 

Suffolk coast, 20 

Surrey cottages, 76 

Sussex coast, 17 

Sussex, Robert, Earl of, spoliator, 

147 
Swallowfield Park, 194 



Tancred, description of an inn, 236 
Taunton Castle, 129 
Tewkesbury, inns at, 252 
Thame, 91, 367 
Thatch for roofing, 78 
Thorpe-in-the-Fields, 139 
Tile-hung cottages, 77 
Tournaments at Smithfield, 353 
Towns, old walled, 28-66 

— abbey, 210-29 

— decayed, 266 

— halls, 266-82 
Turpin's ride to York, 240 
Tyneside, coast erosion at, 21 



Udimore, Sussex, 94 
Uxbridge, inn at, 256 



Viking legends, 290, 291 



Walberswick, Suffolk, 148 

Walled towns, old, 28-66 

Walls, city, destroyed, 12 

Wallingford, 276, 313 

Warwick, 70, 159 

Wash, land gaining on sea, 16 

Water-clock, 196 

Well customs, 381 

Wells, cross at, 297 

Wells Cathedral, 213-16 

Welsh castles, 130 



INDEX 



403 



Weston house, 170 
Whippingf-posts, 306-17 
White Horse Hill, 206 
Whitewash, the era of, 157 
Whittenham Clumps, 207 
Whittenham, Little, 152 
Whitling church, 139 
Whitting-ton College, 338 
Winchester, St. Cross, 334 
Winchmore Hill Woods, destroyed, 

. 386 
Window tax, 180 
Winster, 278 



Witney Butter Cross, 297 
Wirral, Cheshire, 25 
Wokingham, 277 
— Lucas's Hospital at, 340 
Wood, Anthony, at Thame, 93 
Wymondham, 256, 297 



Yarmouth, 17, 40, 147, 342 
York, 48 
— walls of, 34 
Yorkshire coast, 17 
Ypres Tower, Rye, 64 



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Fiction 



25 



Part III. — A Selection of Works of Fiction 



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ONE OTHER. Fourth Edition. Cr. 

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THE COUNTESS TEKLA. 

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26 



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Fiction 



27 



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