Ancient Streets and Homesteads of England

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Ancient   Streets


Homesteads   of   England




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IT cannot with truth be said that monumental history is treated in our day with scanty regard. Never, perhaps, were such permanent and forcible memorials of the past as the Arch of Titus in Rome, the Pont du Gard in the south of France, and the Porta Nigra of Trèves, visited and gazed upon with warmer interest or a deeper sense of their value. We all feel the power that is exerted over us by the ruins of great Castles and great Abbeys. And in another way is this strong feeling of our times very widely manifested. I refer to the restoration of Cathedrals and Churches—not only in our own country now for many years—but, more recently, in France. This restorative work may not always have been conducted with faultless taste or perfect judgment, but (to say nothing of religious motives) it testifies to a high appreciation of the importance of history written in stone.

There is, however, what may be termed a minor monumental history, which has not by any means{vi} always received its due attention. Our country is full of historic scenes, where the past is visibly recorded, and where, a few years ago, it was more visibly recorded than at present. Old states of society, old modes of living, obsolete habits of the people, are commemorated in many a small building which attracts little notice from the ordinary passer by. The lives of eminent persons, public events of high significance, have left their mark in villages, and market towns, and wayside places, where these recollections ought to be cherished, and where, if possible, the hand of the destroyer ought to be arrested. It should be added that nearly all such scenes and such fragments are pleasing in their aspect and worthy of the artist’s pencil as well as of the historian’s pen.

Under the influence of mixed feelings, made up partly of delight in what remains of this kind, partly of sorrowful regret for what is lost, I cannot hesitate to recommend these drawings by Mr. Rimmer, which he has illustrated by a running commentary. I do not commit myself to all his conclusions, which embrace a great multiplicity of subjects connected with very various parts of our country. The plan of the book is, of necessity, somewhat desultory; but I think there is some advantage,{vii} as certainly there is no fatigue, in rambling with him irregularly from county to county, through towns and hamlets, and using his eyes as we travel. We cannot all literally see these places ourselves; and if we were to see them, we might easily, through the want of some guidance, fail to observe their true character and expressive meaning. It should be remembered, too, that large numbers of such historic and picturesque buildings as Mr. Rimmer here delineates have been destroyed, or are in danger now of destruction. It is something if drawings preserve for us in one sense what in another sense (and a very melancholy one) is irreparably lost. Such views, too, and such pages as these, may help us to set a higher value on that which survives. On the whole, it seems to me evident that this book is a very useful contribution to what I have termed minor monumental history.

I will exemplify what I mean, and what I understand Mr. Rimmer to mean, by one or two independent illustrations, that suggest themselves to my memory; and if, in some degree, I appear to differ from him as to the resources of this kind which are afforded by different parts of the country, this only shows that, with all his care and diligence, he has not exhausted his subject.{viii}

Two illustrations shall be taken from the northern counties: and the first shall be the town of Kendal, which our author dismisses as containing hardly any architectural reminiscences of the past. To this I somewhat demur. Kendal, indeed, has no ancient houses, but its ground-arrangement is very singular; and this must be very ancient. It consists almost entirely of one broad winding street a mile in length, from which narrow lanes, which are not properly streets, open to the right and left, each being entered by a very small passage. Such narrow passages could very easily have been defended, in case of forays from the Scottish border; and it might be conjectured that they were planned with this danger in view. This question, indeed, must be dismissed as a puzzle nearly as great as that which is connected with the origin of the Chester Rows. The point of historical interest, for the sake of which Kendal is here brought forward, is this,—that through this broad winding street, where the ground rises and falls very boldly, and where even now the houses are so varied in character that on days of light and shade they supply many good subjects for pictures, the troops of Charles Edward marched or straggled in 1745, both on the way to Derby and on their return.{ix} Through this circumstance, especially if we combine it with stories current in the neighbourhood concerning that time, this dull Westmorland street acquires a new and lively interest.

A second example is supplied by village after village in that wide-spread country of the dales which lies south-east of Kendal. Through Airedale and Ribblesdale, from Bradford to Lancaster, and northward to some considerable distance, there are a multitude of specimens of a curious kind of doorway, which I do not recollect to have seen elsewhere. These doorways generally consist of two curves, more or less regular, and more or less enriched with ornament, and with the initials of the families of some now forgotten dalesmen: the dates range from about 1630 to 1730: the earlier forms are simpler than those which follow; and after the later period they seem to cease suddenly. However this provincialism of rural architecture is to be explained, it is a social and artistic fact worthy of being observed and permanently recorded.

Turning now to the Midland Counties, I will again illustrate the subject by a couple of instances. Mr. Rimmer most accurately notes that the ancient Roman way of Watling Street passes along the north-eastern frontier of Warwickshire: but beyond{x} this he does not make much use of a county which is by no means poor in historical associations. One place which would have given him excellent materials for description and for drawing, and not far from that part of this county, where, to quote the old rhyme,

From Dover to Chestre goth Watlyn-Street,

is the village of Polesworth. My attention was especially called to its picturesque and suggestive aspect, because I happened to visit the place just when I was within reach of the opportunity of inspecting some of the manuscripts of that prince of archæologists, Sir William Dugdale. The historian of Warwickshire remarks that “for Antiquitie and venerable esteem,” the village of Polesworth “needs not to give Precedence to any in the Countie;” and indeed there is a charming impression of age and quiet dignity in its remains of old walls, its remains of old trees, its church, and its open common. Not far off, on an eminence commanding a delightful view, is Pooley Hall, the Lord of which “by Reason of the Floods at some time, especially in Winter, which hindered his Accesse to the Mother Church,” obtained a license from Pope Urban IV. to build a chapel within the precincts of his lordship.{xi} And here, in the garden of this modest hall, is a little chapel of comparatively late architecture, but doubtless built on the site of the old one; and here, full in view, on the level ground below, with the village beyond, is the river, evidently liable to floods. I give this scene merely as a specimen of the wealth that our English counties contain for the historian who is also an artist.

The other county of which I am thinking is Bedfordshire. Of course Mr. Rimmer does not fail to take notice of the town of Bedford, and its neighbouring village of Elstow, and their still visible associations with John Bunyan; but there still remain some things to be added to those which he has so well described. I fear it must be admitted that the prison, in which the author of the Pilgrim’s Progress spent those days and nights that have enriched the world, was not on the bridge over the Ouse, but in another part of Bedford. The jailor’s door, by a most curious accident, survives, built into the wall of a granary, and with quite enough of character to deserve an engraving on descriptive pages. As regards the village of Elstow, there is abundant material of this kind in the isolated church tower, containing the very bells in the ringing of which Bunyan rejoiced and afterwards{xii} trembled; in the curious building, undoubtedly contemporary, upon the green where he danced; and, above all, I must mention what appears till recently to have escaped attention. The “wicket-gate” of the Pilgrim’s Progress is commonly represented as a garden-gate or a turnpike-gate; but really the term denotes a small doorway, cut out of a large door; and concealed behind a tree at the west end of Elstow Church, is just such a small doorway in the broad wooden surface of the great door. Through this lowly opening Bunyan must often have passed when a boy; and if it were simply drawn and engraved, I believe we should have a correct picture of that which was before his imagination when he described the early steps of Christian’s pilgrimage.

It is natural to both Mr. Rimmer and myself, with such thoughts in our minds, that we should make much of the ancient and striking city where we happen to dwell. He begins with Chester: and I will end with some words concerning it by a recent American traveller. Those who come for the first time from the United States to Europe frequently hasten to Chester with a feeling of extraordinary interest, partly because it is the nearest cathedral city, partly because it is a walled city. This writer{xiii} is describing the walls. “Chester has everywhere,” he says, “a rugged outer parapet, and a broad hollow flagging, wide enough for two strollers abreast. Thus equipped, it wanders through its adventurous circuit; now sloping, now bending, now broadening into a terrace, now narrowing into an alley, now swelling into an arch, now dipping into steps, now passing some thorn-screened garden, and now reminding you that it was once a more serious matter than all this, by the occurrence of a rugged ivy-smothered tower. Every few steps as you go you see some little court or alley boring toward it through the close-pressed houses. It is full of that delightful element of the crooked, the accidental, the unforeseen, which to American eyes, accustomed to our eternal straight lines and right angles, is the striking feature of European street scenery. An American strolling in the Chester streets finds a perfect feast of crookedness—of those random corners, projections, and recesses, odd domestic interspaces charmingly saved or lost, those innumerable architectural surprises and caprices and fantasies, which offer such a delicious holiday to a vision nourished upon brown stone fronts.”

The pleasure which I feel in having anything to do with a book like this is very much increased by{xiv} the reflection that American readers are likely to take the warmest interest in the visible reminiscences of history, in which the country that they recognise as their mother-land still abounds.

J. S. H.

The Deanery, Chester,
October 6, 1876.

Image unavailable: PARRY’S ENTRY, CHESTER.



Remains of Street Architecture in England—Chester: Various Theories of the Rows—Reminiscences of Ancient Houses in Chester—Wirral—Congleton—Nantwich—Whittington1
Oswestry—Shrewsbury—Battle of Shrewsbury—Wenlock—County Towns as Centres of Exclusive Society—Italian Architecture—Bridgenorth—Hereford—Ross—Monmouth—Worcester—Gloucester: New Inn—Condition of Roads—Tewkesbury—Cornwall37
Exeter—Wells—Glastonbury, Legend of King Arthur interred here—Dorset—Sherborne—Weymouth 91
Cardinal Beaufort’s Tower—St. Cross—Winchester—Surrey—Salisbury—Canterbury—Rochester—Rye—East Grinstead—Middlesex{xvi}106
Hertford—St. Albans—Elizabethan Architecture and John Thorpe—Marlow—Stony Stratford—Colchester—Banbury—Tetsworth—Oxford—Norfolk and Suffolk—Norwich Prelates—Brick Architecture134
The Fen Counties, and their Picturesqueness—Ely—Cambridge—Huntingdon—Market Bosworth—Bedford—Advantages of Water Power—Lincoln—Gainsborough—Grantham—Stamford—Angel Inn, Grantham175
Nottingham—Robin Hood—Southwell—Newark—Nottingham—Warwickshire—Dugdale—Coventry—Derby—Stratford—Roman Roads—York—Ripon—Wakefield—Pontefract217
Beverley—Stone Crosses—Northumberland—Alnwick—Hexham—Newcastle—Durham—Kepier Hospital—Carlisle279
Moore Rental—Isle of Man—Beresford Hope’s Remarks—Expression in Architecture—Remarks by Godwin—Contract for building St. Mary’s Church, Chester—General Principles—Greek Architecture—Conclusion301



Wrexham Tower Frontispiece.
Parry’s Entry, Chester xiv
At the Cross, Chester 1
The Rows, Chester To face 4
Chester 5
Scene in a Chester Row 8
Court connecting Watergate and Northgate Rows 11
Old Lamb Row, Chester 13
Ancient Front, Chester 14
The Dark Row, Chester 16
Stanley House, Chester 17
Julius Cæsar’s Tower, Chester 19
Bridge Street, Chester 23
Whitefriars, Chester 24
Bidston Village 26
Congleton Inn 28
Nantwich 29
Green Man, Ellesmere, Oswestry 32
Whittington Village 33
Chester: Interior of old Room 36
Oswestry To face 37
Shrewsbury 39
Old Houses 40
Shrewsbury 41
On Battlefield Road, Shrewsbury{xviii} 42
Head Quarters of Henry VII. on his road to Bosworth Field 45
Eccleston 47
Lodge to Much Wenlock Abbey 50
Market Place, Wenlock 51
Wenlock 53
Shiffnal, Salop 54
Bridgenorth: House where Bishop Percy was born 62
Butcher’s Row, Hereford 64
Outhouse: Nell Gwynne’s Birthplace, Hereford 66
Market Place, Ross 68
Gate on Monmouth Bridge 69
Market Place, Monmouth 70
Friar Street, Worcester 72
Worcester 73
Worcester 74
Close in Worcester 76
New Inn, Gloucester 78
Gloucester 81
Tewkesbury To face 83
Black Bear, Tewkesbury 84
Tewkesbury To face 86
Old Market, Penzance 86
Crampton, near Shrewsbury 90
Goldsmith Street, Exeter 91
Old Houses, Exeter Close 93
Guildhall, Exeter 94
Wells Cathedral, from Bishop’s Garden To face 98
Glastonbury Tribunal{xix} 101
Sherborne, Dorset To face 104
Passage in Exeter Cathedral Close 105
Cardinal Beaufort’s Gate and Ancient Brewery, Winchester 106
Winchester Gate 108
Street in Close, Winchester 110
Guildford, Surrey 114
Salisbury: Cathedral Close 115
Salisbury Old Gateway, High Street 116
Salisbury To face 116
Old Houses, Salisbury 117
Salisbury, from Bridge 118
Salisbury Market 119
Canterbury To face 120
Falstaff Hotel, Canterbury 122
Rochester 126
Old Houses, Rye 128
East Grinstead 130
Pinner 132
Street in Canterbury 133
Ancient House near St. Albans 134
Picturesque Gable, Hertford 135
St. Alban’s Clock Tower 136
Aylesbury, Bucks 139
King’s Head Inn, Aylesbury 140
Gable in Ockwells, Berks 142
Banbury: Cromwell’s Parliament House 144
Old Gables, Banbury 146
Old Houses, Oxford{xx} 147
Magdalen College, Oxford To face 148
Grove Street, Oxford 149
Merton College Chapel, Oxford 151
Entrance Gate, Magdalen College 154
Oriel College, Oxford 155
Norwich Precinct Gate and Ferry To face 158
Abbot’s Bridge, Bury St. Edmunds 159
Brick Gable, Grammar School, Hull 166
Ancient Brickwork, Lincoln’s Inn 169
House where Wilberforce was born 172
Window in Old Farm-house near Salisbury 174
Market Place, Peterborough 175
Entrance to Close, Ely 177
Plough Inn, Ely 180
Road leading to Ely Close 181
Ancient Bridge, Huntingdon 185
Old George Inn, Huntingdon 186
Leicester Abbey To face 187
Lady Jane Grey’s House, Leicester 188
Gateway at Newgate Street, Leicester 190
Elstow, Bedford 192
Jews’ House, Lincoln 198
On the Witham, near Stone Bow 205
Church Street, Grantham 209
Grantham To face 209
House with Norman Door, Stamford 210
Gables, Stamford 211
George Hotel, Stamford 212
Market Place, Oakham{xxi} 215
Window, Gainsborough 216
Saracen’s Head, Southwell 217
Chimney at Southwell 222
Southwell, Notts 224
Market Square, Newark 226
Chimneys in Newark 228
Lord Leicester’s Hospital, Warwick 231
Porch with Bow-window under, outside Warwick Gates 233
Oblique Gables in Warwick 234
Coventry Gateway 235
Coventry, Warwick 236
Street in Coventry 238
Bablake’s Hospital, Coventry 239
Iron Gate, Derby 240
Samson Square, York 255
Street in York 257
Richmond, Yorkshire 263
Ripon, Yorkshire 267
Wakefield 269
Edward IV.’s Chapel, Wakefield Bridge 271
Old Buildings leading to Pontefract, Yorkshire 273
Doorway in Cottage, with Royal Arms, Pontefract 276
Lamp in Entrance to Close, Durham 278
Entrance Gate to Beverley, Yorkshire 279
Market Square, Beverley, Yorkshire 280
Hexham 290
Hexham 291
Black Gate, Newcastle{xxii} 292
Durham, from an old Homestead on the Wear To face 294
Durham, from Wear Bridge 297
Kepier Hospital Gateway, Durham 298
Road through Cathedral Close, Carlisle To face 298
Buttress, Carlisle 299
Old Houses, Hexham 300
Castle Square, Lancaster 301
Lord Winmaleigh’s House in Warrington 309
Old Row in Manchester 310
Old Market, Warrington 311
Higham Ferrars, Northants 316
Staircase in Author’s Residence, Chester 340


Image unavailable: AT THE CROSS, CHESTER.



THERE are not many Abbeys or Cathedrals which have not been fairly delineated, and it is a pleasure to add that in this respect few Parish Churches have been neglected. Indeed, if these possess any interest, they are almost sure to secure{2} a record of their form, and at least one antiquary to publish their history. Ancient mansions also have been lithographed by Habershon and Richardson, and very excellently by Nash. Happily, also, for this class of buildings, they generally belong to some family who take a pride in them, and may fairly be left to attend to their preservation.

It is not for such remains as any of the above that a plea is needed; they have powerful friends, and perhaps no enemies. But there is another class of architecture that is fast fading away, and that a class which has brightened many a landscape and figured cheerfully in many a tale. Ruskin, in his Oxford Lectures on Art, has said of the architecture of old streets in towns and cities that “it is passing away like a dream, without any serious attempt having been made to preserve it, or indeed even to delineate it.” Old blocks of buildings have yielded to the modern innovator in numberless cases where a little ingenuity and care would have adapted them to their new requirements; and, as Ruskin has eloquently said, “it is difficult to understand the contempt and envy with which future generations will look upon us who had such things and allowed them to perish.”

Since commencing these pages, not less than{3} three street scenes have been destroyed, which would otherwise now figure among our illustrations. One of them contained four houses that dated back to the reign of Richard III., and these houses have been destroyed, though in an admirable state of solidity, and replaced by others that, as far even as convenience is concerned, have little advantage, and for every other consideration are not to be named in comparison.

The wealth of England, however, in ancient remains of all kinds is still very great, and nothing illustrates this more strikingly than the fact that for all the changes and improvements that go on in ancient cities like Chester, Shrewsbury, or Salisbury, we still find the antique character left, even if several years have elapsed since our last visit.

The superior beauty of ancient street architecture has already arrested the attention of many landowners. Gabled cottages with tall chimneys, in a style superior to that which has been often called, not inappropriately, “Cockney Gothic,” are built, and the problem of making small cheap dwellings picturesque is gradually being solved, a problem that was well understood by our forefathers. This will be dwelt on at greater length in the last chapter of the book.{4}

Perhaps no more suitable starting-point than Chester could be found for our researches. It is tolerably well known to most Englishmen either by description or personal inspection. The distinguishing features of Chester are “The Rows” as they are called. These are long covered arcades of unknown origin and antiquity. In familiar language, they resemble such a space as would be formed by removing the storey over the ground floor of a row of buildings through the entire length of the street, and supporting the upper chambers with columns or piers at irregular distances. They differ entirely from those in Berne, or indeed anywhere else, in their form and purpose, and also from the covered passages outside the city, of which an example is here given. These, indeed, resemble similar structures at Berne, Totness, and other places.

Speaking of them, Colonel Egerton Leigh, one of the members of Parliament for Cheshire, has well remarked in a paper read before the Chester Archæological Society: “I really think it would improve the quaint look of the city if the projection of the second floor, supported on pillars (either of wood, brick, or stone) over the pavement, were, under certain necessary regulations and restrictions, encouraged on the Boughton, Hanbridge, and{5}

Image unavailable: THE ROWS, CHESTER.
Image unavailable: CHESTER.

Northgate approaches to Chester. There are several examples of this style remaining in the suburbs, and they are a curious and characteristic introduction to the Rows inside the city.” The illustration is taken from the Boughton approach to Chester. One peculiarity may be noticed: the nearest pier of the arcade is enlarged into a kind of buttress capacious enough to accommodate a barber with his stock in trade; and this is not the only example in the city, there are similar establishments in{6} Bridge Street, Watergate Street, Northgate Street, and in the piers of the arcades.

According to Webb, the Rows were built as a refuge to the citizens during any sudden attack of the Welsh, though the mode of building in the more northerly part of England would seem to have been better adapted for any such emergency. However, let Webb tell his own story: “And because these conflicts continued a long time, it was needful for them to build a space before the doors of their upper buildings, upon which they might stand in safety from the violence of their enemies’ horses, and withal defend their houses from spoyl, and stand with advantage to encounter their enemies when they made incursions.” Pennant, on the contrary, says: “These Rows appear to me to have been the same with the ancient vestibules, and to have been a form of building preserved from the time the city was possessed by the Romans. They were built before the doors, midway between the streets and houses, and were the places where dependents waited for the coming out of their patrons, and under which they might walk away the tedious minutes of expectation. Plautus, in the third act of his Mostella, describes both their station and use:—{7}

‘Viden vestibulum ante ædes et ambulacrum ejusmodi.’

The shops beneath the Rows were the cryptæ and apothecæ, magazines for the various necessaries of the owners of the houses.”

Other writers, such as Stukely, confirm the Roman origin of the Rows; but Lysons, certainly one of the most accomplished and patient antiquaries of England, dissents from the Roman theory. “Mr. Pennant thinks,” he says, “that he discerns in these Rows the form of the ancient vestibules attached to the houses of the Romans who once possessed the city. Many vestiges of their edifices have certainly been discovered in Chester, but there seems to be little resemblance between the Chester Rows and the vestibules of the Romans, whose houses were constructed only of one storey.” Hemingway, the historian of Chester, seems to differ very much from Lysons, and refers the Rows to the Roman period. “Nor am I aware,” he says, “of any historic data that can disprove an opinion I strongly entertain, that the excavations mentioned, by which our Rows as distinguished from the carriage-road are formed, are the work of Roman hands.”

The end of a Row in Bridge Street here given will easily illustrate the manner in which these singular passages are broken, and resumed after{8}

Image unavailable: SCENE IN A CHESTER ROW.

being intersected by a cross street. Hemingway in another passage says, “It hardly requires a word of argument to show that the pavements in Bridge Street, Watergate Street, and Eastgate Street were originally on a level with the houses standing in the Rows; for it is utterly impossible to conceive that the present sunken state of the streets, as contrasted with the elevated ground on either side,{9} could be the effect of natural causes. It is most obvious, therefore, that at some period or other the principal streets have been made to take their present form by dint of human art and labour; and it is not less evident that from the East, West, and South Gates to the Cross, and from the latter to nearly where the Exchange now stands, which is almost the highest part of the city, excavation has been employed. These conclusions, though they are incapable of proof from any existing testimony, seem necessarily to arise from a close observation of the subject, and I believe they have received the concurrence of all our historians and antiquaries. But some difference of opinion has existed as to the fact whether these excavations were made prior to the erection of the buildings above, or subsequent to them. This question, although involving no important point of history, is worthy of a slight notice, if it were for no other use than a curious speculation. Webb, in Kings Vale Royal, fixes the origin of the Rows at a much later period than the one I am of opinion they were entitled to, and he likewise leans to the hypothesis that they were a kind of afterwork, begun and completed when the buildings in the sunken line of the streets were already inhabited.”{10}

Much has been written on the origin of the Rows, and much learning has been expended on the subject, which is indeed of exceptional interest, but it is generally considered that only a little light has been thrown upon it. Of course, at the present time they are so varied in antiquity and form that it is difficult indeed to approach the subject.

The curious Row in Watergate Street here given is a very good example of the more ancient forms. This particular building is generally called Bishop Lloyd’s Palace, and the front of it to the street, as all visitors to Chester will recollect, is ornamented with grotesque wood carvings; but it must be evident that it only occupies the site of some more ancient building; indeed, the oldest of the Rows is evidently in the same position, and we must look for their origin in more remote forms. All theories that refer them to some particular date at which they were simultaneously constructed seem to have been abandoned, and chance-medley has probably had more to do with them than we at one time fancied. An American gentleman of great intelligence, who visited the city for the first time during the progress of this work, may possibly have conjectured something of the origin of the Rows by giving the original builders credit for sufficient{11}


sagacity in their work. “Chester,” he said, “is far beyond any city we possess in the New World in point of convenience. Country towns are run up there on a uniform plan, and in some of the streets in the cities of the far west are great blocks of pretentious warehouses and stores that look like{12} bankruptcy itself. A tradesman commencing business has but little option—he must either take one of these or else he is out of the world. And if he takes a place that is so much too large for him, he has to purchase more goods than he can pay for when the time for payment comes round. I speak,” he said, “of no imaginary evil, but one that actually exists, as I have found out to my cost; but here, in the Rows, are shops and stores of all sizes, so that a tradesman commencing business may suit himself with premises to his proper requirements, yet not be out of the business world.” He further added that their exceeding picturesqueness, the shelter they afforded from summer heats and winter storms were too obvious to even point out, and that such places in America would have the vast advantage of affording a dry footwalk over the snow, and protection from the rays of an almost tropical sun; so that for economy, beauty, and convenience, the Rows have the advantage over all other modes of building for ordinary city purposes. There is, perhaps, no great strain of imagination required to give the original builders of Chester credit for seeing some of the advantages of Rows for commercial purposes, and letting each building as it grew conform with its neighbour. Rows have been stopped and built up{13}

Image unavailable: OLD LAMB ROW, CHESTER.

even in the present century, and in Lower Bridge Street something nearly approaching one has lately been formed. Again, it is very evident that some of the Rows were not existing, at least in their present position, in the thirteenth century, and they must have been constructed since that time. Under all circumstances, the simplest way out of the difficulty would seem to be that the Rows were the result of some prevalent fashion of building, more adventitious than anything else. A Roman portico may have suggested some form that was preserved in rebuilding, or some few spirited proprietors may have commenced the system without any combined action.{14}

Image unavailable: ANCIENT FRONT, CHESTER.

Old Lamb Row, here shown, was a perfectly independent Row by itself, and clearly only copied from others. The house is said to have been the residence of Randal Holme, who has left us some valuable records of Chester, though it is clear that the woodwork was of more ancient date, and must have been adapted as the details on the recently uncovered front in the same street which forms the subject of another illustration. The date on this is 1664, but it is very obvious that the carving on the wood is much more ancient, and probably{15} the timbers were taken from some more antique structure. The happy way in which municipal laws were passed and carried, is illustrated by an incident in the career of Lamb Row, for in 1670 the corporation considered it a nuisance, and though no Act of Parliament seems to have been infringed by its erection, they said that the “nuisance erected by Randal Holme in his new building in Bridge Street be taken down, as it annoys his neighbours, and hinders their prospect from their houses.” No particular result would seem to have followed this resolution of the council. Mr. Holme allowed it to stand, though, as events proved, the city were right, for in 1821 it fell down, owing to its bad construction and some slight decay in the timbers. The name Lamb Row was derived from the sign of a lamb over a tavern, for which the building was let after Mr. Holme’s death. It is a curious illustration of the immunity of the times that the Corporation fined Mr. Holme £3: 6: 8 the following year for contempt against the mayor, in disregarding their minute; which fine does not seem to have met with a better fate than the original order.

In the house called Bishop Lloyd’s house are many splendid remains of ceilings and fireplaces.{16} It is let off to subtenants at a few shillings a month: but it is much to be feared that its lease of life is precarious in the face of modern improvement.

Image unavailable: THE DARK ROW, CHESTER.

The street which cuts through the Row in Bridge Street, and is part of a former illustration, is called Commonhall Street, and it formerly contained a very curious building, of uncertain origin, which afterwards was converted into almshouses. It was very massive and quaint, and it should have formed one of our illustrations, but unhappily, almost without notice to the citizens, it was demolished, to make room for an unsightly row of brick cottages, and, as far as I have been able to learn, no drawing of it is preserved.

In one place only is a Row closed from the light, as in the Dark Row here shown, and it forms a kind of tunnel, which emerges at either end into the open Row.{17}

The fine old residence called Stanley House is situated in the same street as Bishop Lloyd’s house, and is now let off into small cottages. It is historically interesting as being the place where the

Image unavailable: STANLEY HOUSE, CHESTER.

unfortunate Earl of Derby spent his last day before he was taken to be executed at Bolton, in 1657. “Mr. Bagaley, one of his gentlemen, attended him at his dying hour, and thus speaks of one Lieutenant Smith, a rude fellow, with his hat on:—He told my lord he came from Colonel Duckenfield, the governor, to tell his lordship he must be ready for his journey to Bolton. My lord replied, ‘When would have me to go.’ ‘To-morrow,{18} about six in the morning,’ said Smith. ‘Well,’ said my lord, ‘commend me to the governor, and tell him I shall be ready by that time.’ Then said Smith, ‘Doth your lordship know any friend or servant that would do the thing your lordship knows of? It would do well if you had a friend.’ My lord replied, ‘What do you mean—to cut off my head?’ Smith said, ‘Yes, my lord, if you could have a friend.’ My lord said, ‘Nay, sir, if those men that would have my head will not find one to cut it off, let it stand where it is!’ The carvings in the front of this house are extremely beautiful.

The next engraving shows the tower in Chester Castle called “Julius Cæsar’s Tower.” This castle has been much modernised, but was a grand specimen of a Norman residence even in Pennant’s time, writing at the close of the last century. “On the sides of the lower court stands the noble room called Hugh Lupus’ Hall. The length is nearly 99 feet, the breadth 45, the height very awful, and worthy the state apartment of a great baron. The roof supported by wood-work, in a bold style, carved, and placed on the sides, resting on stout brackets.” This building, now destroyed, probably retained its original dimensions. The character of the first{19}


Norman earl required a hall suited to the greatness of his hospitality, which was confined to no bounds. “He was,” says Ordericus, “not only liberal but profuse; he did not carry a family with him, but an army. He kept no account of receipts or disbursements. He was perpetually wasting his estates, and was much fonder of falconers and huntsmen than of cultivators of land and holy men; and by his gluttony he grew so excessively fat that he could hardly crawl about.” Adjoining the end of{20} this great hall is the court of exchequer, or the chancery of the county palatinate of Chester. The account here given is, we will hope, an exceptional one of the barons of the period.

The walls of Chester are entire, and a complete circuit of the city may be made on them without once leaving the footwalk on their summit. These are the only complete walls in England, though at one time all considerable towns were similarly surrounded. The semicircular building shown here is the lower part of a tower that was taken down, and similar towers yet remain on the walls in a state of great preservation.

Close by the tower here shown was an old hostelry called the “Blue Posts,” kept by Mrs. Mottershed in the year 1558. This was the year when Queen Mary reigned; and one Dr. Henry Cole, Dean of St. Paul’s, was charged by his royal mistress with a commission to the council in Ireland, which had for its object the persecution of Irish Protestants.

“In this house,” says Hemingway, “he was visited by the mayor, to whom, in the course of conversation, he related his errand, in confirmation of which he took from his cloak a leather box, exclaiming, in a tone of exultation, ‘Here is that{21} which will lash the heretics of Ireland.’ This annunciation was caught by the landlady, who had a brother in Dublin, and while the commissioner was escorting his worship (who that year was Sir Lawrence Smith) down stairs, the good woman, prompted by an affectionate regard for the safety of her brother, opened the box, took out the commission, and placed in lieu of it a pack of cards with the knave of clubs uppermost. This the doctor carefully packed up, without suspecting the transformation, nor was the deception discovered till his arrival in the presence of the lord deputy and privy council at the castle of Dublin. The surprise of the whole assembly on opening the box containing the supposed commission may be more easily imagined than described. The doctor was sent back immediately for a more satisfactory authority, but before he could return to Ireland, Queen Mary had breathed her last. The ingenuity and affectionate zeal of the landlady were rewarded by Elizabeth with a pension of forty pounds a year.”

The old front previously shown is in the same street where the “Blue Posts” stood, and is a fine example of a black-and-white gable. The carving on the woodwork is more ancient than the date that appears on the building, and has been cut and{22} adapted from some older house—not by any means an uncommon case, though the cause of considerable confusion to the antiquary if the adaptation has been a good one. This is the house that has been alluded to as being covered with plaster, and only brought to light during the progress of the present work. Indeed plans were prepared for a new building, but the firm of architects who were employed, as soon as they found that there was ancient work under the plaster, properly cancelled their plans, and adapted the old front to the requirements of the proprietor. The curious house in the same street, here shown, is probably among the most ancient wooden structures in Chester: there is nothing to indicate its exact age, but its general appearance would point to considerable antiquity; houses of this shape, however, were common from the beginning of the fifteenth to the seventeenth century.

Hemingway, speaking of Bridge Street, says, “Every gradation of architecture, from the rude clumsy wood hut to the open airy commodious hotel, is here displayed, and it is not perhaps the least worthy of observation to see the awkward confinement of low close rooms gradually yielding to the more healthful taste of modern building. The{23}

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original plan of the houses (if there was any plan at all) seems to have been in the cottage style, with the gable end of each to face the street. This mode of building certainly gives great extent of premises behind, but renders the inner rooms and staircase rather dark.” He adds what is true of other streets in the city beside Bridge Street, “The curious observer will discover in the street that the square brick fronts of some of the houses are nothing more than a wall carried up as high as the ridge of the roof,{24} thus having the appearance of a handsome modern house, while the interior retains most of its original formation.”

The next illustration is of a fine gabled house in Whitefriars: this is remarkably well proportioned, and has some very excellent work inside.

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The outside of the Row in Eastgate Street, behind which the “Dark Row,” previously alluded to, runs, has unfortunately been pulled down since this work was commenced, but the drawing at the{25} head of the chapter gives an accurate idea of the premises, and was made just before the building was demolished. It consisted of the three gables shown, and some back premises, and its strength was so great that some time was spent in its destruction.

The most westerly part of Cheshire is called Wirral, and it formerly was covered with forests, though now it is nearly destitute of any considerable woods. The land of which it is formed is rocky, and contains some good veins of building stone. In consequence of this there are a number of very substantial stone houses in most of the villages. Many of them are of good design, and well adapted to modern requirements; simple, indeed, as this style may seem, it is quite possible for the designer to find himself in confusion in carrying it out. The roofs and chimneys should be so contrived as to stand out clearly, and to show that the house has a roof and a chimney. The great danger of this style is that, if employed by inartistic hands, it is apt to become tame, or else to develope itself into some kind of Swiss cottage that hardly suits an English landscape.

The ancient house at Bidston village, here given, was at one time the residence of one of the{26} Derby family. The Earl, who was executed at Bolton, and whose tragic end has been alluded to, lived at Bidston Hall, now a picturesque and substantial farm-house.

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At Tranmere village, on the Cheshire side of the river Mersey, is an exterior well known to all Liverpool pedestrians. There are some curious panes of glass in it, with emblematic devices and legends on them, and the stonework is excellently true.

The greater part, however, of the Wirral houses have been sadly mutilated, owing to the proximity of that part of Cheshire to Liverpool.{27}

Congleton, in the eastern part of Cheshire, is a fine example of an old English country town that has been built at various times, but has always retained its antique character. It is situated in a lovely country, through which the river Dane quietly flows to the Weaver, and it is hemmed in on all sides with venerable family seats. The buildings tell their own tale in very permanent materials. There are red brick houses of a century and a half old, and joining these are gabled ones of greater age. The roofs are of different levels, and covered, according to the period of their erection, with slates or tiles or flags. Here and there a black and white house is left, and there are in some streets a few cottages built into the motley row; some of these are of great antiquity.

The old Inn at Congleton is a fine specimen of a black-and-white gabled hostelry. The great porch, with a room over, rests on two stone pillars, and the interior of the Inn quite corresponds in character with the exterior. This is just the kind of Inn so dear to novelists, and so seldom well described. Perhaps the country Inn in Barnaby Rudge is as well-drawn a picture of one of the old houses of accommodation as any; and if Dickens’ works are ever to be picturesquely illustrated, the{28} Lion Inn at Congleton might serve the artist for a model. All it wants to complete its ancient character is the signboard across the road.

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Cheshire abounds with material for such a work as this; and many old towns—Sandbach, Malpas, Nantwich, or Knutsford, for example—are well worthy of a visit. A curious old house at Nantwich is here given; the bow window consists of a heavy octagonal bow overhanging another of similar shape and smaller dimensions in a kind of telescope fashion. The noble octagonal church tower is rising above. Nantwich church is seen to great advantage from many parts of{29} the town, and is of Cathedral dimensions. It is remarkably beautiful in details, and is in a fine state of preservation.

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There are many houses in Nantwich with dates of the sixteenth century carved on them, and there is a curious history belonging to them. In 1583 a great fire swept away nearly the whole of Nantwich, and immediately after a collection was instituted to reimburse the inhabitants for their heavy losses.{30} The parish register says, “A most terrible and vehement fire, beginning at the water-lode, about six of the clocke by night, in a kitchen, by brewinge. The winde being very boisterouse increased the said fire, which more vehementlie burned, and consumed in the space of 15 hours, 600 bayes of buildings, and could not be stayed neither by labour nor pollice, which I thought good to commend unto posteritie, as a favourable interposition of the Almightie, in destroying the buildings and goods only, but sparing the lives of many people, which, considering the time, space, and perill, were in great jopardie.”

The term “600 bayes” is a suggestive expression, and it probably has a similar meaning to bay of modern times. This is generally understood to denote the space between the principals of a roof, the sections as it were into which the front to the street was cut. The building here illustrated would thus have five bays; but the expression seems to have been customary in Queen Elizabeth’s time to define the size of a house. The clown says in “Measure for Measure,” “If this law hold in Vienna ten years, I’ll rent the fairest house in it after threepence a bay.”

The collection was ordered by the Queen in{31} 1585, and perhaps partook rather of the character of a rate. The estimated damage was £30,000, an enormous sum in those days.

Ellesmere is situated in the northern extremity of Shropshire, nearly at its contact with Cheshire. It is on a fine sheet of water, from which it takes its name. The streets are remarkably picturesque. There are many substantial residences in it, which are finely shaded with forest trees and evergreens, and at one end of the town is a large ancient cruciform church overlooking the lake. The woods and lawns of Oakley Park stretch along the opposite shore, and it would be difficult to imagine a more delightful scene. Long low comfortable hotels with bow windows prevail in Ellesmere, and they have ample accommodation for coaches and post-horses, though now grass grows in many of the roomy quadrangles round which their stables are built, as most of their occupation is gone.

I noticed a pleasing device on the front of one of the houses which faced the south: a large grape vine grew at one end of the house, and it was bent horizontally after reaching a certain height across the whole front of the building; over it was an open verandah roofed with thick glass, which enabled the grapes to ripen, and formed a charming{32} summer shade; indeed, on the bleakest winter day, Ellesmere has a sunny cheerful look. The road from Ellesmere to Oswestry lies through a beautiful country, and is about eight miles long. The Green Man, so called from the sign of a forester in hunting green, is another example of an old-fashioned roadside Inn. The walls are panelled in oak, and the ancient benches and tables with carved legs still remain. The fireplace in the hall is 12 feet wide, and ornamented with a great store of antique pewter platters. Halston Park, a little farther along the Oswestry road, was the seat of the celebrated Captain Mytton, whose random exploits are the subject of a rather uncommon biography.



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Whittington village lies on the same road, and is about two miles from Oswestry. It is introduced here to illustrate the excellent effect of breadth in a landscape. A well-defined broad white gable stands out against the rest of the village and sets it off. Of course there is the advantage of fine trees behind it, but it stands back from the road, which is broader here, and affords them every chance of being seen. It is actually a fact, which few persons unacquainted with perspective would at first credit, that if the road continued at the same width, and if ordinary three-storied village houses were substituted, this beautiful scene would be completely closed out. We pass in English roads hundreds of pleasant prospects that we do not know of, as they are shut{34} out by the dreary brick buildings that characterise the present century.

A comparatively small object may do an immense amount of mischief. We may, for example, be admirably placed in a theatre for seeing and hearing everything. The building may be crowded, but we see over a low-sized individual in front the whole of the scenery and the performers, when a hat, only six inches high, and about as broad, appears, and then “our revels all are ended,” and the actors have “melted into air—into thin air.”

This kind of teaching is especially wanted now among architects. It is not too much to say of the majority of them, that if they were required to build a church in some distant county, they would consider it quite sufficient to have a plan of the churchyard and adjoining lanes sent to them, without their having the least idea of the surrounding buildings or trees, or the outline of the neighbouring hills. Infinite pains are taken with details, but though books which treat of these are excellent and numerous, one turns in vain for any architectural work to guide him to a knowledge of what is more important—picturesqueness. Ruskin’s works are not as yet studied by architects as they should be; indeed they{35} require a previous knowledge of, at any rate, the preliminary elements of art, which, to some extent, would limit their general acceptance in the profession. Still the number of his readers is increasing yearly among architects, much to the advantage of the country. Detail, however beautiful, and however necessary excellence in it may be, can no more improve a building that jars with its surroundings, than an elaborate label can cure a bottle of indifferent Rhenish wine.

There is a curious old book written by Sir Edward Moore to his son and heir, which shows how a landlord of the seventeenth century regarded the appearance of his street property. He was the principal lord of the manor of Liverpool, and at great length gives directions for the guidance of his heir. Speaking of one of the tenants, he says:—“This man should have built two dormer-windows, as the others did, but when he had got me fast, and he was loose, he would build none, but made the house like a barn, much to the disparagement of the street. If he have occasion to use you, deal not with him till he hath made two dormer windows.” Instances are unhappily the exception where such fastidious care is taken of the appearance of a street by the proprietor.{36}

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It may be mentioned incidentally that the gateway of Peveril’s castle is in Whittington village, which was also the birthplace of Sir Richard Whittington, three times Mayor of London.{37}

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OSWESTRY is an exceedingly interesting old town, and was at one time walled; portions of the wall still remain, and there are also a number of half-timbered and stone houses of very considerable antiquity.

One example only is given here; it is an old stone house which has been used for many generations as an Inn, and is said to have been originally built for that purpose. It is situated near the ancient parish church, adjoining the churchyard.

The road from Oswestry to Shrewsbury is through an interesting country, abounding with many pleasing relics of antiquity. It was along this road that the mighty, and as would now seem the prudent Glendower, marched with his levies to assist Hotspur at the battle of Shrewsbury, and an oak at Shelton is still preserved where his march terminated,{38} and which he ascended to witness the engagement. Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire, is generally visited by tourists to Wales, either at the commencement or the end of the journey. In some respects it is more striking than Chester, and at first sight it gives a more vivid picture of a fine old English town. Chester, it is true, has more hidden treasures concealed often under modern exteriors; indeed the oldest inhabitant is probably ignorant of all the ancient relics this city contains.

Shrewsbury is delightfully situated on a peninsula formed by a bend of the Severn, and occupies two gently rising hills. It was always an important stronghold in the civil wars, and its name continually occurs in the pages of English history. The old timbered house here shown dates back to the fifteenth century, and was probably the town residence of the Abbot of Lilleshall, who appears to have figured in the unhappily futile negotiations between Henry IV. and Hotspur, which preceded the battle of Shrewsbury.

Shakespeare vividly brings us back to the hot July day when, by forced marches, Henry reached Shrewsbury only a few hours before Hotspur. The king burned down the houses on the Hodnel road to prevent their being a refuge for the forces of{39}

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Hotspur, and all that now stand are built at a more recent date than the battle of Shrewsbury. The street here shown is among the most perfect examples of ancient English streets yet remaining; perhaps it is the most perfect. It takes a sudden turn at right angles in the middle, and joins a street running in a different direction, the High Street as it is called. The houses in this remarkable street{40} are high, and in excellent preservation, though most of the carved work of the interiors has been removed. The curious projecting gable here shown is an example of many other similar ones in the vicinity. For a considerable distance a person walking down the middle of the street can touch the houses on either side. We only notice such singular economy of room in walled cities and towns, for, as has before been remarked, the liberality of space in villages contributes greatly to their beauty. Each end of this street, which is called Double Butcher Row, is here given.

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The spire on the left of the picture is St. Mary’s, and that on the right is St. Alkmond’s. The latter church was originally built by a daughter of King Alfred’s. The carving on the exterior of the houses in this street is as perfect as it was when originally placed in its present position. The entrance from Pride Hill is surrounded by many quaint gabled tenements with carved beams and projecting wood-work.{41}

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Henry IV. reached Shrewsbury a few hours before Hotspur on the 19th of July 1403, and burned down the houses on the road as before said. This road was rebuilt shortly after, and many of the houses are still standing which date back to that period: a block of them is here shown. The Haughmond hills rise clearly and sharply above them, and are wooded up to the summits. When the sun rises red over them, and especially if this is accompanied with a noise of wind, it is a certain{42} sign of a stormy day. It is impossible not to remark the exceeding accuracy of Shakespeare in his intensely picturesque description of the battle of Shrewsbury.


Henry IV., speaking to his son Harry in the camp, says—

How bloodily the sun begins to peer
Above yon bosky[1] hill, the day looks pale
At his distemperature.
Prince Henry. The southern wind
Doth play the trumpet to his purposes;
And by the hollow whistling in the leaves
Foretells a tempest and a blustering day.

Another circumstance may be noticed here, though it hardly belongs to the present work, but it{43} illustrates the ready way in which Shakespeare took advantage of any incidents that met his eye. In the fruitless interview between Earl Worcester and the King, the former says—

Worcester. Hear me, my liege;
For mine own part I could be well content,
To entertain the lag end of my life
With quiet hours: for I do protest
I have not sought the day of this dislike.
King Henry. You have not sought it out, how comes it then?
Falstaff. Rebellion lay in his way, and he found it.
Prince Henry. Peace, chewet, peace.

It has been supposed by Pope and others, that this should read “peace, chevet, peace.” Chevet being the French for a pillow, and this they supposed alluded to Falstaff’s corpulence. But in an edition published by Longman and others in 1757 good reasons are given for adopting the reading chewet—the common green plover or lapwing. This bird, it is hardly necessary to say, has a habit, when its young are hatched, of suddenly appearing before any one, and uttering a sharp cry. The prince has only bantered Falstaff good-naturedly the moment he is summoned to join the king, and reproves his interruption in this way. It is not noticed in the edition referred to, but it is worthy of remark that the meadow lands leading from Shrewsbury to Battlefield literally swarm with these birds. It is not{44} improbable that the humour of Falstaff’s statement to Henry, “We rose both at an instant and fought a long hour by Shrewsbury clock,” may lie in the fact that the clock of St. Mary’s Church, the one alluded to, has only a single face, and that is turned to the town, having its back to the battlefield. This clock was erected shortly before Shakespeare wrote the play. The noble church of St. Mary contains a tomb of the Leybourne family, to whom the unfortunate Worcester was related. “Bear Worcester to the death, and Vernon too,” and they were both executed at the high cross immediately after the battle. Now the tomb (published in Architectural Drawing Studies by Dean Howson and myself) is about fifty years older, from its style than the battle, and in opening it some years ago a headless body was found over the original stone coffin, wrapped in leather, and apparently hastily interred, which in all probability was the unfortunate Earl’s.

The last house to be illustrated in Shrewsbury is the one at Wyle Cop, of which a sketch is given. There is nothing to indicate its exact date, but it must be of considerable antiquity, as the Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., slept here on his road to Bosworth field.

Shrewsbury is full of exceedingly interesting{45} remains, and in no town in England are they more scrupulously taken care of. It is almost a matter of regret that the scope of the present work forbids a more detailed account of the Shakespearean recollections of Shrewsbury battlefield, and the church which was erected in memory of the day. There is a fine old window with a representation of Henry IV. in armour, and his face has a singularly sad, majestic look. It was about 150 years old when Shakespeare saw it, and it is not impossible that it might have suggested the lines—

“Doff our easy robes of peace,
And crush our old limbs in ungentle steel.
This is not well, my lord, this is not well.”


And again, farther on—

“But if he will not yield,
Rebuke and dread correction wait on us,
And they shall do their office.”

Indeed to many persons an excursion to the battlefield of Shrewsbury, with a copy of “Henry IV.” in hand, possesses attractions that equal a visit to Waterloo. Prince Henry’s figure in the same window as the king’s is rather disappointing. He seems to be a tall youth, very fair, and somewhat juvenile in his countenance.

Much Wenlock is a charming country town in Shropshire, about twelve miles to the south-east of Shrewsbury; the road to it lies through smiling lanes, and past comfortable homesteads. It was with sincere pleasure that I saw in this part of the country old-fashioned farm-houses that had not kept pace with the requirements of the age, but which, instead of being pulled down and replaced by raw new ones, were tastefully enlarged, and all the creepers and ivy left standing. With a very little taste and ingenuity this may be done, indeed economically, and the exterior weather-stained walls may be preserved to the landscape and the country. Some of the great landowners in the northern and midland counties are seeing the advantage of this,{47}

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and not a few farm-houses have been altered so as to be pleasant objects to behold. Bitterley in Shropshire is a notable instance of this, as also is Aldford in Cheshire, and Eccleston in the same county. Eccleston and Aldford belong to the Duke of Westminster, and there is no doubt that their present owner is keenly alive to the charms of an English landscape. One instance of this transformation is here given—the school-house at Eccleston, which, to a passer-by, would be taken for an ancient house: the window with its evergreen is old, but the{48} gable over it and the chimneys are modern. Excellently well they harmonise with the surroundings, and fill a corner of the beautiful village. And here a word may be introduced about “shams,” as they are called in architecture, regarding which there is much misapprehension. The “sham,” pure and simple, is contemptible; such is a manufactured ruin of an abbey or castle, or woodwork painted to represent another material, and intended to convey a wrong impression to a spectator; but where black-and-white gables and walls fit in upon old work, and dark coloured stone chimneys of antique shape look like parts of the original structure, it is a happy circumstance. Indeed I should go much further in this direction, and say that if, as often happens, new stones have to be inserted in old carved façades, richly coloured by age, the effect is not pleasant when the contrast is great. In such cases it would be better to give the new stone a tint to tone it into harmony. The generation who put it into the building will have passed away before its patchy appearance will have gone; and why should they be condemned to look upon a harlequin front, when, by overcoming a little prejudice, it might be prevented? This prejudice, it is true, rose from a proper principle, and was a proper protest against the age{49} of shams and affectation. Hardly more than two generations ago art was at the lowest ebb, and the chances seemed strongly against its ever reviving. Everything was fantastic and false; a gentleman had his portrait taken as Apollo, and a lady as Ceres or Diana; while the veriest country yokels who could not read, no, nor their children after them, were alluded to with the utmost effrontery by the Georgian poets as Phyllises and Corydons playing on lutes to sheep, or occupying their working-hours in some other useful occupation, and spending their leisure moments in composing iambics to their damsels.

It is with positive shame we turn back to such recollections, and half our indignation against the churchwardens of the period, who destroyed so much beauty, vanishes when we consider they only did as their betters; indeed, rich as our island yet is in architectural remains, I believe that since the accession of George III. an almost equal amount to that which remains has been destroyed.

But to return to Wenlock from this somewhat lengthy digression, there are remains of a magnificent abbey there founded by the Black monks, and exhibiting several styles of architecture, especially the Early English; and there are mouldings and{50} details of great beauty, but in comparatively recent days, much of this building has been carted away and used up for repairs and outbuildings to farm-houses.


The charming remain here represented appears to have been an entrance to some part of the abbey buildings, which, according to Dugdale, enclosed a liberty of thirty acres; but the remains are numerous in all directions, and unfortunately we find too many of the carved stones built up in stables and styes, having been removed by the Corydons that formed the subjects of so many pastoral poems of the Georgian age.{51}

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The market-hall of Wenlock is the black-and-white covered space shown, and over it are the rooms connected with the business of the town and surrounding district. This market is in an excellent state of preservation, and is resorted to by the country people in great numbers weekly. Shropshire formerly abounded with these country market halls; but now their numbers are diminished considerably. An opportunity was afforded me when in Wenlock of seeing the demolition of a pair of{52} very ancient houses near the market. Some of the great chimney stacks were so exceedingly strong that they seemed almost to defy the picks of the workmen; the mortar, which was wanting neither in lime nor in quantity, had set so hard that the last chimney stack stood up alone, perfectly upright, after at least half of its base had been destroyed. The inhabitants told me that it was always considered to be one of the oldest buildings in Wenlock, but the exterior was entirely destroyed when I visited the town. The old house which is introduced as probably forming part of the abbey, seems to have been a kind of gatehouse to some part of the premises; it is apparently about 450 years old, and is in a perfect state of preservation. Some of the inhabitants appear to be very proud of it, and so we may fain hope that its days may be long in the land. The last sketch of Wenlock represents an old half-timbered house with a bold bow window; some of the lights have been plastered up, as is apparent from the sketch, but they could readily be opened. This house has recently been purchased, and is to come down. Perhaps it is as much to this circumstance as any other that it has found a place in these pages.{53}

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Shiffnal is another fine old town in Shropshire, situated on the London road. It fairly brings back the old coaching days to our memory. The inns have an unusually hospitable look, and the unoccupied stabling is enormous. The comfortable window seats, the bow windows, and great bar parlours have refreshed many a Tony Weller and his “insides.” It is a little singular that a veritable mail-coach carrying her Majesty’s mails does yet ply{54} in these parts; a stranger at Bridgenorth is perhaps astonished at seeing a coach and four galloping over the Severn bridge, and wakening the old gabled houses with its horn; and this is no amateur affair, but it has plied from time immemorial from that town to Wolverhampton. The railroad connection which lies through Shiffnal is very circuitous, and they say that time is saved in going by the mail-coach.

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There are more town residences in a complete state in Shropshire than in Cheshire, though in Chester a number are covered up with new fronts.{55} At one time indeed nearly all the great county families of Cheshire had residences in Chester. The Stanley Palace is still standing where the Earl of Derby was arrested and sent to execution at Bolton by the orders of Cromwell, and on each side of Watergate Street, where this palace is situated, are the remains of ancient city mansions. The tendency of families to migrate to the county town instead of London in the “season,” was partly owing to the difficulty of the roads (for nothing now in England can give an idea of the undertaking of a journey of 200 miles to London), and partly also to a singular law which forbade as far as possible any country gentleman who was not in parliament from residing in London. D’Israeli, in the Curiosities of Literature, mentions some remarkable features of the dread people entertained of an overgrown metropolis. “Proclamations warned and exhorted; but the very interference of a royal prohibition seemed to render the metropolis more charming;” though for all this, from Elizabeth to Charles II., proclamations continually issued against new erections.

James I. notices “those swarms of gentry, who, through the instigation of their wives, did neglect their country hospitality, and cumber the city, a{56} general nuisance to the kingdom.” He once said, “Gentlemen resident on their estates are like ships in port—their value and magnitude are felt and acknowledged; but when at a distance, as their size seemed insignificant, so their worth and importance were not duly estimated.” The England even of the present century is changed out of all possible knowledge; indeed those are yet living who can look back with a smile at the solemn county balls, which were almost as difficult of access, and as jealously guarded, as a court presentation of these days. The Grosvenors and Derbys even of a century ago fought keenly for the mayoralty of a country town.

Nor were good reasons wanting for eschewing London. Only two centuries ago a Sussex squire, Mr. Palmer, was fined in the sum of £1000 for residing in London rather than on his own estate in the country, and that even in face of the fact that his country mansion had been burned within the two years when his trial took place! We are told that this sentence struck terror into the London sojourners; and it was followed by a proclamation for them to leave the city with their “wives and families, and also widows.” And now we have no difficulty in understanding why there are so many{57} large mansions in small country towns. The habit of making the best of a hard lot influenced the gentry even long after it would have been safe to have followed Mr. Palmer’s example; and so we find up to the Hanoverian period large old-fashioned houses in some small country towns, that look, as Dickens says, as if they had lost their way in infancy, and grown to their present proportions.

Sir Richard Fanshaw wrote a curious poem on the subject of the proclamation for gentlemen to reside on their own estates, of which four verses may suffice as a sample:—

“Nor let the gentry grudge to go
Into those places whence they grew,
But think them blest they may do so.
Who would pursue
The smoky glories of the town
That may go till his native earth,
And by the shining fire sit down
On his own hearth.
. . . . . . . . . .
Believe me, ladies, you will find
In that sweet life more solid joys,
More true contentment to the mind
Than all town toys.
Nor Cupid there less blood doth spill,
But heads his shafts with chaster love;
Not feathered with a sparrow’s quill,
But with a dove.”

There are even of Queen Anne’s reign many{58} excellent specimens of town architecture in remote villages of Cheshire and Shropshire. Mr. Norman Shaw has brought this late classic architecture again into deserved repute, and quite a new work might be published of the details of them,—the well-considered mouldings, the wreaths, and chimney-pieces. Many of these houses were inhabited even in the present century by courtly—perhaps somewhat formal—gentlemen, and now they are turned into boarding-schools or village tenements. Railways, of course, have rapidly and completely changed the scene. The old moralist in Thackeray laments the change of times, when a man of quality used to enter London, or return to his country house, in a coach and pair, with outriders, and now his son “slinks” from the station in a brougham. In speaking of the change that came over the architecture of England in the Elizabethan age, when Italian forms superseded the indigenous ones, it is not for a moment meant that the change was for the better. There was an incessant craving for foreign importation, which was a subject of satire among the writers of those days.

Portia says, in the Merchant of Venice, when speaking of her English suitor, “I think he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France,{59} his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour everywhere.”

No, the change to Italian architecture was not for the better. It is true that picturesqueness was not stamped out of the genius of England, and so a number of the buildings that were put up until the reign of George the Second were shapely and often noble; indeed the classic style has a breadth about it, no doubt, that makes it safe for modern architects to deal with, especially in country houses. Of course the formal rows of windows, if the house is a very large one, are a serious matter to deal with, as far as the plan is concerned. A satirist of the French school complained that in the new Palace at Versailles a large window, under pompous architraves on the outside, had to light a footman’s closet and a back staircase, a partition inside making an awkward division between the two. Still a broad classic front surrounded by elms has a stately appearance; and perhaps in certain situations, like the margin of a Westmoreland lake, might seem peculiarly well adapted to the wants of the landscape. Too often a Gothic house among trees, if of recent erection, is a mass of confusion; the chimneys and gables do not stand out clearly from each other, and breadth is entirely lost; while the architect who{60} designed it might have safely trusted himself to an Italian façade. A thoroughly fine front, like Compton Wynyates, Hadden, or even Trevallyan Hall in the charming vale of Gresford—where every part tells, and stands out, and where, notwithstanding its many angles, breadth is preserved—is perfection in a British landscape. There are, of course, architects of the present day who can design such a building, but their name is not legion. Tudor architecture is admirably adapted for cities and towns, and much more easily handled in a street than among trees. By Tudor is here meant the English domestic style that prevailed in the sixteenth century, and this term is now commonly applied to the architecture of England after the fifteenth century. It is not a correct term in any sense of the word, but I have sought for another in vain that would be even remotely intelligible to a general reader.

Could old English architecture be revived in its purity and beauty, Italian importations could well be spared. But even before the destruction of monasteries it was on the wane, the careless indulgent life of the monks of later date is shown in all their works. The flat arched windows were devoid of any great design, and the workmanship was very bad. These were the days when grotesque{61} groups (giving them a mild adjective) flourished and were admired, thrusting out the angels and grave apostles of the preceding centuries, and slovenly work followed careless design. Often in a building of various dates the tall light shafts of the thirteenth century rise to vast heights, and are as straight and truly worked as they were when first cut, looking indeed like one tall stone of matchless workmanship, while the masonry of the sixteenth century, especially if late, has begun to show its joints and to gape. Such conclusions continually force themselves upon the architectural student who looks below the surface for a cause.

Bridgenorth is situated on the Severn, and is extraordinarily picturesque. The town is planted on a steep hill, and nearly every house in it is ancient. There is an old covered market where the country people congregate on Saturdays; it is in fact an enlargement of the “Market Cross” of bygone days. The lower part of this building is of brick, and the upper part is black and white; a new market has recently been built, but the country people always flock to the old one so long as there is standing room in it. Bishop Percy’s house, here shown, was formerly filled with excellent carved work, but now it is used as a smithy and blacksmith’s shop; the{62} front to the steep street is a fine specimen of black-and-white work, and it is pleasing to be able to add, it is highly prized by the inhabitants.


There are in Shropshire many other towns of interest and beauty. Ludlow, with its “Feathers” Inn, is well known. The “Feathers,” of course, is in allusion to the Prince of Wales, and the name is common in all of the Welsh border towns.{63}

There are also Cleobury Mortimer, Church Stretton, and Bishop’s Castle; but all these have been tolerably well represented, as far as their architecture is concerned, by examples already given. The domestic architecture of Hereford, Gloucester, and Worcester, differs considerably from that we have been considering, but it also contains many examples of beauty and value.

The city of Hereford is delightfully situated on the Wye, and though modern improvements have destroyed many old features, of which the recollections remain, there are a few specimens of antique architecture. The Wye Bridge and its ancient gatehouses were formerly among the most picturesque objects in the kingdom. Of the history of Hereford there is no necessity to speak at any length. It is generally now admitted that it has few claims to Roman origin; and, as Britton briefly says, “When civil dissensions unhappily divided the land, being a place of some importance, it was anxiously contended for by the opposing factions, and was often the scene of warfare. Gates, walls, bastion towers, etc., were therefore erected for its defence; and hostelries, chapels, and other edifices, were constructed for the accommodation of those who followed in the train of the successive occupants of{64} the castle, or who visited the shrines of St. Ethelbert and St. Thomas Cantelupe. Some of these still remain, but variously mutilated and defaced.”

Image unavailable: BUTCHER’S ROW, HEREFORD.

The house here shown was part of the old Butcher’s Row—in Britton’s time “a large and irregular cluster of wooden buildings,” placed nearly in the middle of the High Town. Formerly there were a number of connected houses in this Row,{65} but they have been taken down, and the one represented is the only one now left. “The window-frames, doors, stairs, and floors, are all made of thick, solid masses of timber, and seem destined to last for ages: over one of the doors is a shield charged with a boar’s head and three bulls’ heads, having two winged bulls for supporters, and another bull for a crest: thus caricaturing the imaginary dignity of heraldry. On other parts are emblems of the slaughter-house, such as axes, rings, and ropes.” The outline of this building is exceedingly picturesque, and it is evidently of the age of James I. Close to this stood the old Town Hall, chiefly built of timber, and resting on three rows of arches, nine in each. But about twenty years ago this interesting structure was pulled down. There were apartments in it for the fourteen city guilds. John Abel built this curious old relic in the reign of James I., and the same man, who was originally of humble parentage, built some powder and corn mills when the city was besieged by the Scotch army in 1645.

In “Pipe Lane” the small cottage used to stand where Nell Gwynn was born. It was only recently pulled down, and is described as a small four-roomed tenement, hardly beyond the requirements{66}


of the humblest farm labourer. Opposite this cottage the Blue Bell Inn stands, a hostelry now going to ruin; but an extremely picturesque outhouse opening on the Wye remains, and was standing in Nell Gwynn’s time; an illustration of this is given, and some parts of it are suggestive for modern designers. The cottage where Nell Gwynn was born might easily have been allowed to remain, as it really stood in no thoroughfare, and so the{67} birthplace of the founder of Chelsea Hospital might have been saved to the nation.

The pleasant town of Ross is situated on the left bank of the river Wye. The streets are narrow and very steep, and there are many remains of old half-timbered houses that give it very much the appearance of some Rhenish town. But Ross owes most of its celebrity to being the birthplace of John Kyrle, the celebrated “Man of Ross,” who benefited his native town and county out of a modest estate of £500 per annum, and has been immortalised by Pope and Coleridge.

The house he lived in is on the left of the market-place, and is divided into a chemist’s shop and a dwelling. “The floors and panellings of several chambers are of oak; a quaint opening leads to a narrow corridor, and into a small room, traditionally said to be the bedroom, where he endured his first and last (his only) illness, and where he died. It looks upon his garden. That garden is now divided like the house; one half of it has been strangely metamorphosed, the other half has been converted into a bowling-green; the surrounding walls of both, however, contain flourishing vine and pear trees.” The market-hall of Ross stands at the head of the principal street on a steep eminence,{68} and though it is much crumbled it is still in daily use. From Ross to Monmouth the distance, through a road of great beauty, is about sixteen miles, but it is twice this measurement by water. The celebrated Goodrich Court stands in this road, where Sir Samuel Meyrick collected his armoury, and in the area of the courtyard at Goodrich Castle Wordsworth met with the little girl who figures in his ballad of “We are Seven.”

Image unavailable: MARKET PLACE, ROSS.


Image unavailable: GATE ON MONMOUTH BRIDGE.

Monmouth is situated at the junction of the Monnow and Wye, and derives its name from the former river, as being at the mouth of the Monnow, and the bridge over the Monnow is remarkably picturesque. It belongs to the style that prevailed during the thirteenth century, and is extremely valuable as an example of the architecture of that period: it somewhat resembles some of the York{70} bars in detail, but probably was never a military work. It was only built for the collection of tolls on the traffic into the city, and corresponded with the gatehouses at Hereford bridge, now unfortunately destroyed.

Image unavailable: MARKET PLACE, MONMOUTH.

Monmouth was the birthplace of Henry V., and his statue adorns the front of the market-place, of which a sketch is given here, though of course this structure is of a more recent date than the reign of Henry. All round the market-place the celebrated{71} Monmouth caps were made that occasionally figure in old writings. Fluellen, in “Henry V.,” says: “If your Majesty is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps.”

Usk and Abergavenny are other ancient towns in Monmouth that have declined in importance during modern times, but they are very pleasant, and there are still remains of their former splendours in the streets.

Worcester is generally supposed to have been a link in the chain of military defences of the eastern bank of the Severn that extended from Uriconium to Gloucester, and as early as the year 680 it was surrounded by lofty walls, and was strongly fortified. The bishops were great territorial lords, and their authority extended from Warwickshire to Bristol. Henry II. and his queen were crowned in the cathedral, and King John was buried there. Indeed, few cities in England have been more connected with events in history.

The courtyard of a house in Friar Street is a good example of the street architecture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Friar Street is called from the house of Grey Friars that was formerly situated at the north end of the street, and{72}

Image unavailable: FRIAR STREET, WORCESTER.

is now completely destroyed. The houses in Friar Street afford an interesting series of the class of building that prevailed during the reigns of the Henrys and Elizabeth. The timber beams of which the houses are constructed are piled up with mortar or bricks, and whitewashed; while the overhanging storeys, the high-pitched gables, the lead lattices in the windows, and the rude grotesque{73} ornaments, present an almost unique picture of an English street.

Image unavailable: WORCESTER.

At the end of Friar Street is the Corn Market, where Charles II. was concealed after the battle of Worcester.

The gates of the city were open to him on his march from Scotland with the army he had raised there, and he made Worcester his head-quarters, in the house where Judge Berkeley was born. Of the{74}

Image unavailable: WORCESTER.

memorable battle of Worcester, which ended the prospects of the Stuart line for a time, a local historian says, on the 3d September, after a skirmish at Powick, the order was given by the king to attack Cromwell, then lying at Perry Wood, about a mile from the town. The contest commenced rather late in the day, and it was in favour of the Cavaliers, who compelled the Parliamentary troops to abandon some of their guns; but reinforcements arrived in great numbers from the other side of the{75} Severn to support the Republicans, and after maintaining a very unequal combat for a long time the king’s troops were obliged to retreat; a handful of troops defended Sidbury gate, whilst the king escaped from his pursuers. His Majesty, on entering Sidbury, was obliged to dismount, and creep under a waggon of hay which had been purposely upset across the street at that part to impede the ingress of his pursuers, and he entered the city on foot. A horse was immediately brought ready saddled, by a Mr. Badnall, who lived near Sidbury gate, and the king was thus enabled to hasten to his quarters, at a house in the corn market, from the back door of which he escaped with Lord Wilmot, just as Col. Cobbett reached the front in pursuit of him. Over this house, which, as before said, is still standing in the corn market, is the inscription, “Love God. (W.B. 1557. R.D.) Honour the King.”

The illustration of the entrance into the Cathedral Close represents the front of Edgar Tower looking towards the east. It is said to be uncertain if this building was designed by the castellans or ecclesiastics, as there is some doubt concerning the ownership of the site on which it stands; but appearances, which, in the architecture of the period, are a fair indication of such things, seem{76}

Image unavailable: CLOSE IN WORCESTER.

rather to point out the former as having been the original proprietors. Nor is there any record as to the actual date of the building, which has often been a subject of antiquarian doubt and speculation. It seems that in the year 1730 two old English letters, M and W, implying, as was supposed, the date of 1005, were discovered by some workman who was employed to repair the outside of the{77} building, but this cannot be relied on. All the architecture that now is left would point to the age of King John. “The general thickness of the walls,” says Britton, “and the double gateway it presents, show that it was intended to repel assailants, and to protect the interior area and its inhabitants from enemies.”

Other monarchs since Charles have visited Worcester; especially to be noted are James II. and George III. The latter presented his portrait to the Corporation, and the former attended the Cathedral on October 23, 1687, where it is recorded that he touched several persons for king’s evil, almost the last instance on record. His successor William III. did certainly yield to sundry entreaties to touch some sufferers, but he added, “God give you better health and more sense.”

When King James visited the city he attended mass at the old Catholic chapel, and was waited on by the mayor and Corporation; but these dignitaries objected to enter a Catholic place of worship, and left him to enter alone. A minute in the Corporate accounts seems to explain how the time was spent, for they adjourned to the “Green Dragon,” and spent the time in smoking and drinking till the service was over, loyally charging their bill to the city.{78}

Image unavailable: NEW INN, GLOUCESTER.

The next illustration is extremely interesting. It represents the “New Inn” at Gloucester, and its history is curious. Edward II. was murdered under circumstances of great cruelty at Berkeley Castle, and was interred in the Abbey Church of Gloucester, a shrine being raised by the monks over his remains. Lord Berkeley would, it is said, have willingly protected the weak king, but he fell sick; and Edward was given over one dark September night to the tender mercies of “two hell-hounds, that were capable of more villainous despite than{79} becomes either knights or the lewdest varlets in the world,” Thomas Gurney and William Ogle. The chronicler says that “screams and shrieks of anguish were heard even so far as the town, so that many being awakened therewith from their sleep, as they themselves confessed, prayed heartily to God to receive his soul, for they understood by those cries what the matter meant.”

The New Inn was originally designed to accommodate the pilgrims that the monks had been able to collect to the shrine. The view of the courtyard here given differs but little from its present appearance. It has been slightly modernised, but all the details remain to complete the present drawing, which differs indeed but little from John Britton’s, published in the early part of the present century. Most of the pilgrims brought some offering with them, and hence the pains that were taken for their accommodation. The hotel built at Glastonbury for a similar purpose still remains, and is the principal one there at the present day. The buildings of New Inn surrounded two square courts, and were ascended by rows of steps—as appears in the engraving—communicating with two rows of galleries, and these led to various apartments and dormitories. The present inn was built about the year 1450 in{80} Northgate Street by John Twining; and the usual tale about a subterraneous passage to the Cathedral is handed down, which indeed corresponds with the stories that are current of all religious houses. There is a commonly received tradition among country people in the neighbourhood of Chester that a tunnel, closed up at each end, exists between Chester Cathedral and Saighton Hall, a country-seat of the abbots of Chester; and if such a passage ever was constructed, it would compare rather favourably with Cenis tunnel.

This inn is enormously strong and massive, and covers a large area. It is said that half of it is built of timber, principally chestnut.

The luxury of these roomy hotels, after a journey that no market-cart in the most rural district in England would now tolerate, must have been great indeed. In the Grand Concern of England explained by a Lover of his Country, 1673, we read, “What advantage can it be to a man’s health to be called out of bed into these coaches an hour or two before day in the morning; to be hurried in them from place to place till one, two, or three hours within night, insomuch that, after sitting all day in the summer time stifling with heat and choked with dust, or in the winter time starving or freezing with{81}

Image unavailable: GLOUCESTER.

the cold, or choking with filthy fogs, they are often brought into their inns by torchlight, when it is too late to sit up and get a supper, and next morning they are forced into the coach so early that they cannot get breakfast? What addition is it to a man’s health or business to ride all day with strangers—oftentimes sick, ancient, diseased persons, or young children crying,—all whose humors he is obliged to put up with, and is often poisoned with{82} their nasty scents, and crippled with the crowd of boxes and bundles? Is it for a man’s health to be laid fast in the foul ways and forced to wade up to the knees in mire, afterwards sitting in the cold till teams of horses can be sent to pull the coach out? Is it for their health to travel in rotten coaches, and to have their tackle, or perch, or axle-tree, broken, and then to wait three or four hours (sometimes half a day), and afterwards to travel all night to make good their stage?”

The well-known scene from the Inn Yard, Rochester, in Henry IV. illustrates all this, as also the scarcity of clocks, and the necessity the inhabitants were under to use any means at hand for ascertaining the time of day or night. The discomfort the picture presents will remind any one of travelling in America where the train has to be met at night, or early in the morning, and is detained probably by snow or an accident. The disjointed conversation and weariness are wonderfully portrayed.

1st Carrier (with a lantern). Heigh ho! An’t be not four by the day, I’ll be hanged; Charles’s wain is over the new chimney, and yet our horse not packed. What, Ostler, etc.

The discontent and querulousness are well shown; the carrier says—{83}

Image unavailable: TEWKESBURY.

“I prythee, Tom, beat Cut’s saddle, put a few flocks in the point; the poor jade is wrung in the withers out of all cess.”

His companion, who joins them, says—

“This house is turned upside down since Robin Ostler died.”

and the first carrier, who seems all through to be of a more lively turn, adds,

“Poor fellow! never joyed since the price of oats rose; it was the death of him.”

The condition of the roads may be gathered from the fact, that though these men had not more than some thirty miles to travel, they did not expect to finish the journey till night. One of them had a “gammon of bacon and two razes of ginger to be delivered as far as Charing Cross,” and the other was carrying live turkeys to London, yet the carrier says, in answer to Gadshill, that he hopes to be in London “time enough to go to bed with a candle;” but there seems to have been little improvement even up to the end of last century, when a gentleman of landed property, journeying from Glastonbury to Sarum in his carriage, requested his footman to provide himself with a good axe to lop off any branches of trees that might obstruct the progress of his vehicle. Indeed nobody knows what benefactors to their race such men as Telford and Macadam have been.{84}

In 1703 the road from Petworth to London was so bad that the Duke of Somerset was obliged to rest a night on his way to London, though this distance was hardly fifty miles. And in March 1739 or 1740 Pennant, the author of the Journey through Wales, travelled by stage, and in the first day got with “much labour” from Chester to Whitchurch, twenty miles; and, after a “wondrous effort,” reached London before the commencement of the sixth night.

Image unavailable: BLACK BEAR, TEWKESBURY.


The Inn at Tewkesbury, here shown, differs from the last, as there is no quadrangle, and probably it was not originally designed for a hostelry, but it is drawn exactly as it now stands. The New Inn at Gloucester has, however, been very slightly modernised, very slightly indeed, and a guest in this well-kept establishment might readily condone any recent work. The view of Tewkesbury, here given, is from the riverside, and shows the monastic buildings converted into a mill.

There are not many streets or homesteads in Cornwall of the character this work is intended to illustrate.

Launceston is the old county town, and is delightfully situated on the banks of the Attery; but Bodmin is the place where assizes are now held, and here Perkin Warbeck marshalled his Cornish men prior to his march on Exeter. A curious story, that dates back to the sixteenth century, is told of the Mayor of Bodmin. He was directed by a king’s officer to have a gallows erected for a person who had been supposed to have some connection with a recent rebellion. As soon as it was ready the mayor was asked if it was strong enough to carry him, and replied, “Without doubt it is.” “Then up with you, Master Mayor,” he replied, “for it is meant for thee.”{86}

There are many traditions and ballads connected with this charming county; but few persons will forget the recent surprise they felt on learning that the celebrated Cornish ballad, “And shall Trelawney die?”—a ballad that Macaulay quotes as genuine—is the composition of a clergyman who died recently, and left a somewhat eccentric character behind him.

The old market-place and cross, Penzance, are now being considerably modernised, but the engraving here given faithfully represents it as it stood. The market-place resembles the Rows at Totness, or the half-developed Rows outside Chester, and the crooked chimney-stack is supposed (perhaps rightly too) to be a preventive to smoke.

Image unavailable: OLD MARKET, PENZANCE.


Image unavailable: TEWKESBURY.

Penzance is the most westerly town in England, and has given birth to Sir Humphrey Davy and Captain Pellew (Lord Exmouth). Liskeard, which returns a member to Parliament, is described correctly enough as a rather sleepy market-town; and, with the exception of St. Germans, which was once the cathedral city of Cornwall, there is little connected with our present subject in this county. This cannot, however, be said of Devonshire, which abounds with quaint old towns and pleasant homesteads. Here the artist goes for latticed cottage windows, gables, and trellissed porches covered with evergreens. The meadows are dotted with fine timber trees, and narrow shady lanes lie through rows of elms and beech trees, while nearly every variety of wild flower and fern adorn the hedges.

It is commonly said that Thackeray laid the scene of Pendennis’ early years in Devonshire. Clavering is supposed to be Ottery St. Mary’s, Exeter figures as Chatteris, and Baymouth of course is Exmouth. Certainly the description of the place where Costigan resided would seem to suit the Close of the ancient city. “The captain conducted his young friend to that quiet little street in Chatteris, which is called Prior’s Lane, which lies in the ecclesiastical quarter of the town, close by Dean’s Green and the canons’{88} houses, and is overlooked by the enormous towers of the cathedral; there the captain dwelt modestly in the first floor of a low gabled house, on the door of which was the brass-plate of “Creed, tailor and robemaker.”

His description of Clavering St. Mary is very beautiful; the river Brawl might be of course the “Otter,” if the generally received opinion that Devonshire is the scene of this delightful work is correct. “Looking at the little old town of Clavering St. Mary from the London Road, as it runs by the lodge at Fairoaks, and seeing the rapid and shiny Brawl winding down from the town, and skirting the woods of Clavering Park, and the ancient church tower and peaked roofs of the houses rising up among trees and old walls, behind which swells a fair background of sunshiny hills that stretch from Clavering westward towards the sea, the place looks so cheery and comfortable that many a traveller’s heart must have yearned toward it from the coach top, and he must have thought that it was in such a calm friendly nook he would like to shelter at the end of life’s struggle.”

His description later on in the work, of the inside of Clavering town, is marvellously graphic. “Clavering is rather prettier at a distance than it is{89} on a closer acquaintance. The town, so cheerful of aspect a few furlongs off, looks very blank and dreary. Except on market-days there is nobody in the streets. The clack of a pair of pattens rings through half the place, and you may hear the creaking of the rusty old ensign at the Clavering Arms without being disturbed by any other noise. There has not been a ball at the assembly rooms since the Clavering volunteers gave one to their colonel, old Sir Francis Clavering; the stables which once held a great part of that brilliant, but defunct regiment, are now cheerless and empty, except on Thursdays when the farmers put up there, and their tilted carts and gigs make a feeble show of liveliness in the place, or on petty sessions when the magistrates attend in what used to be the old cardroom. On the south side of the market rises up the church with its great gray towers, of which the sun illuminates the delicate carving, deepening the shadows of the huge buttresses, and gilding the glittering windows and flaming vanes.... The rectory is a stout broad-shouldered brick house of the reign of Anne. It communicates with the church and market by different gates, and stands at the opening of Yew Tree Lane,” etc. etc. These exquisite descriptions of old-fashioned English{90} country town scenes are introduced as being among the most vivid in our language, and also as referring, it is supposed, to the places under consideration.



Image unavailable: GOLDSMITH STREET, EXETER.



THE houses at the corner of Goldsmith Street, in Exeter, are about to be pulled down, and are introduced here more for their curiosity than their beauty; a chapel is quaintly mixed up with them,{92} and there is a sort of promenade on the top of the chemist’s shop.

Exeter has declined from its ancient trade of woollen manufacture, and glovemaking and agricultural implements form the chief industry of the inhabitants. Crediton, at a few miles farther up the county, used at one time to be the seat of the Episcopate, but Exeter has enjoyed that dignity since the reign of Edward the Confessor. It has played a conspicuous part at times in English history, having at one time been besieged by William the Conqueror; and when the magistrates stole out of the city to surrender it, the citizens closed their gates against their return, and took the defence into their own hands. The fortifications were destroyed by Fairfax in 1646; but part of the castle still remains, and it has been converted into a gentleman’s residence. Of this celebrated building we read in Richard III. when his quarrel with Buckingham is beginning—

“As I remember, Henry the Sixth
Did prophesy that Richmond should be King,
When Richmond was a little peevish boy.
. . . . . . . . . .
How chance the prophet could not at that time
Have told me, I being by, that I should kill him?
Richmond! when last I was at Exeter,
The mayor in courtesy show’d me the castle,{93}
And call’d it Rougemont: at which name I started,
Because a bard of Ireland told me once,
I should not live long after I saw Richmond.”
Image unavailable: OLD HOUSES, EXETER CLOSE.

Another old house opposite the cathedral in Exeter is given which stands in a very irregular row. This house is singular in form, and perhaps not a specimen which will be imitated to any great extent in the present day; still the bow windows over the shop which do not obstruct the walk, and the balcony over these, are very curious and convenient.{94}

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Formerly an old building stood in Waterbeare Street, which was said to be the Guildhall of Exeter, and it would be the mayor’s place of business when King Richard went to Exeter, but this was pulled down in 1803. The present Guildhall in High Street was built in 1593, though it is said that the internal parts date back to the fourteenth century.{95}

The South gate of Exeter was taken down in 1819, and one of the most picturesque entrances to any city lost for ever. Lysons has preserved a drawing of it in his Magna Britannia, page 198, that gives an excellent idea of its former grandeur; a low deep archway, flanked by vast circular towers, is encroached on upon all sides by picturesque gabled houses, each built without any regard to the style of its neighbour.

The Water gate also was taken down at nearly the same time, and this has also been preserved in a sketch in Lysons’ book. This gate was of astonishing beauty and lightness.

A sketch of Plymouth harbour has been preserved in a chart drawn by some engineer of the reign of Henry VIII., and still extant in the British Museum. The bird’s-eye view represents some four churches, with plenty of gabled houses, and the necessary number of lookers-on from men-of-war.

There are many other towns in Devonshire that contain subject matter for our work, such as Tiverton on the Exe, and Tavistock, so beautifully situated on the banks of the Tavy. Tavistock once gloried in a fine old Abbey, and much of the present town is built out of the spoils of this venerable pile,{96} of which some remains yet stand, and it was also the birthplace of Sir Francis Drake.

Clovelly is one of the most picturesque villages in England. The street resembles a winding staircase, each house representing a step.

“Long lines of cliff breaking have left a chasm,
And in this chasm are foam and yellow sands;
Beyond, red roofs about a narrow wharf
In cluster; then a mouldered church; and higher
A long street climbs to one tall-towered mill.
And high in heaven behind it a gray down
With Danish barrows; and a hazel wood,
By autumn nutters haunted, flourishes
Green in a cuplike hollow of the down.”

This description of the village in Enoch Arden has commonly been said to refer to Clovelly.

Often the towns and villages here receive their names from rivers, for Devonshire has the honour of a watershed of its own, of which Cranmere pool, high up in Dartmoor, is the centre; thus Axminster is named from having a minster on the Axe, and Axmouth from being the town situated at the mouth of that river. The Dart, of course, gives the name of Dartmouth, and the Exe, Exeter and Exmouth; and perhaps it is not commonly known that Mr. Speaker Addington derived his title from the river Sid, which runs past his property, and suggested{97} the name of Sydmouth to the original founder of the family.

It is perhaps hardly too much to say that Wells is the most picturesque city in England. The series of houses called Vicar’s Close is connected with the cathedral by a gallery, over an arched gateway across the street. “This gallery is approached on each side by a flight of steps, from which there is a very fine and unique entrance into the chapter-room. Unlike any other chapter-room in England, the floor of this is raised several feet above the level of the cathedral on a vaulted room. The design and construction of this chapter-house, with its connecting staircase and gallery, are entitled to the especial admiration of the architect;” so writes Britton, and he further adds, in admiration of the structure, “We see that the architects of the Middle Ages were unrestrained by precedent, and exercised their imagination and judgment in producing novelties.”

The “Vicar’s Close” is a long court of ancient houses built in the fourteenth century, and retaining many of their original features; at one end is a noble entrance gateway, and at the other the chapel and chaplain’s dwelling. All these have been engraved in Britton’s Cathedral Antiquities and Picturesque Antiquities of English Cities. Each house has a{98} tall graceful chimney rising through the eaves of the roof, and is provided with a small garden in front. These shafts have armorial bearings of the see—and of the executors of Bishop Beckington, who finished the “Close.” Their names were Swan and Sugar, and in the spirit of the age, a swan and a loaf of sugar have been sculptured. This singular scene has no rival in England, and nowhere can mediæval domestic architecture be so well studied. The combinations of chimneys and gables, buttresses and traceried windows, is really astonishing to any one who sees it for the first time.

Wells, according to Camden, was so called from its numerous springs, and now bright clear water runs through the various streets of the city, which take their rise from wells in the Bishop’s garden, these wells form a moat or lake of incomparable beauty. The engraving gives only a partial idea of the scene, as each step unfolds some new delight. There is an embattled wall with bastion towers, enclosing perhaps fifteen acres, which is surrounded by a broad moat, and on the north side the palace is approached by a bridge and baronial gatehouse. Ralph de Salopia was the builder of this wall, and a great benefactor to the see and palace. He it was who drew up statutes for the government of Vicar’s{99}


Close in 1347. Whatever this prelate undertook he would seem to have done with vigour, for, as he was partial to the chase in his leisure hours, he pursued it with such success, that during his prelacy he is said to have destroyed the game of the vast Mendip forest; but one of his predecessors, who bore an excellent name, Reginald Fitz Joceline, seems to have smoothed the way for the pursuit of hunting, as he obtained a charter from Richard I. entitling all bishops of Wells to keep dogs for hunting throughout the entire county of Somerset. He was much esteemed in his day, and relieved the citizens of Wells from some servile duties. This excellent man, when offered the dignity of archbishop, replied with emotion, that “so far was he from having any ambitious desire for that place, that it was a great grief unto him to be chosen, and he would be very glad if they would take some other in his room: howbeit,” says he, “if they must needs stand to their election, though with grief and sorrow I must and will accept the same.” His “nolo episcopari” was not put to any very severe test, however, for though he reluctantly permitted his nomination, he never enjoyed the dignity, for he was very soon after taken ill, put on a monk’s cowl, and died.{100}

The beneficence of this prelate in procuring the right to keep hunting dogs for all clergy is celebrated apparently in the monument of Ralph de Salopia, who has two dogs collared at his feet on the effigy in Wells Cathedral.

Little would all this advantage another bishop of later date whose name is intimately connected with the scene here given,—Bishop Ken. He was one of the “seven bishops” who was tried in James II.’s time, and in a summer-house from which this beautiful scene is taken, he wrote the Morning and Evening Hymns.

It is impossible to travel far in Glastonbury without being reminded of its once famous monastery. The buildings are either constructed from its spoils, or else are themselves parts of the original structure, and many walls and farm buildings in the neighbourhood owe their existence to materials quarried as it were from its vast stores. The durability of the stone is something marvellous: most of the enrichments on the chapel of St. Joseph, though they date back to the thirteenth century, are as perfect as when first chiselled, and retain all their original sharpness. The Tribunal here shown was intended for very different purposes than a suite of lawyer’s offices, to which use it is now adapted. It is fortunate that{101}

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it remains at all, as its destruction was decreed, but a gentleman in the neighbourhood, a son of the late Dean of Windsor, came forward and purchased it; he now represents the county in Parliament. The oriel window and deeply-recessed lights of the lower storey have a very venerable appearance. The tower is characteristic of the Somerset towers of the fifteenth century. A little lower down on the same{102} side of the street is the celebrated “George Inn,” built for the convenience of the Pilgrims, and this yet remains as an inn, and is the best in Glastonbury. A gatehouse with some fine work inside, forms another inn, not very far distant. The tradition of “Weary-all-Hill” is so familiar as hardly to need repeating here. It says that Joseph of Arimathea, toiling up the steep ascent, drove his thorn staff into the ground, and said to his followers, “Here let us rest.” This was regarded as an omen, and to it the monastery owed its origin. The thorn budded, and now flowers, it is commonly said, at winter. The grand Abbot’s kitchen is familiar to every one, and it is said to be owing to a boast of the last Abbot, when Henry VIII. threatened to burn down his buildings, that he would have a kitchen all the wood of Mendip Forest would not suffice to burn down. Here St. Patrick spent the latter part of his life, and here also, it is said, King Arthur was buried.

Giraldus Cambrensis says he was an eyewitness of his disinterment in the twelfth century, on the return of Henry II. from the Irish wars; and seven feet below the surface a large stone was discovered with the inscription “HIC JACET SEPULTUS INCLYTUS REX ARTHURIUS IN INSULA AVALONIA.” Nine feet below{103} this they found the remains of the King, and by his side those of his wife. The shin-bone of the King, says Giraldus, when placed side by side with that of a tall man, reached three fingers above his knee, and his skull was fearfully wounded. The remains of his wife were singularly perfect, but fell into dust on exposure to the atmosphere,—a statement that seems rather to confirm than otherwise the curious discovery, for some similar phenomena have occurred among much more ancient remains, as ancient indeed as the mysterious people of Etruria.

Edward I., it is said, had these remains subsequently exhumed. The skulls were deposited in the Treasury, to remain there, and the rest of the bones were returned to their resting-place, Edward placing an inscription over them, which recorded the circumstances.

Though Dorsetshire is rich in relics of the Roman and Celtic period, the towns generally have a somewhat modern appearance. Sherborne is finely situated in the northern part of the county, on the slope of a hill rising from the vale of Blackmoor, and was a place of importance even in the early Saxon times; indeed it was for three centuries the seat of a bishopric, which included the southwestern counties. The see was afterwards removed{104} to Old Sarum. Sherborne Castle was the seat of Sir Walter Raleigh, who received the estate from Queen Elizabeth.

The scene here given is a beautiful example of a quiet English market-place. There is a water conduit to supply the townspeople, and behind it is a covered area much resembling a market cross, and apparently built about the year 1500. On market-days, when there are groups of farmers and country people round the space in front of the “Sun Inn” the effect is very picturesque; the huge abbey rises over all, and forms a fine gray background, and, as will be seen, the rest of the picture is finely broken.

Weymouth is the largest town in Dorsetshire, and it has many interesting traditions connected with it. It was one of the principal harbours of the south when the Spanish Armada appeared on our shores, and Queen Elizabeth united it with Melcombe Regis, in order to end the constant lawsuits that were carried on between these two places to secure the rights of harbour. Lyme Regis, in Dorsetshire, has played no inconsiderable a part in English history. It contributed four ships to the Calais expedition of Edward III. In 1544 the French landed here, but were repulsed with great slaughter. A century later it held out for two months against a{105}

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Royalist army; and here the Duke of Monmouth landed in 1685 on his ill-starred expedition against James II. Many other towns in this county are full of historic interest.






CARDINAL BEAUFORT’S Tower was built in the early part of the fifteenth century, when he revived the foundation of St. Cross. To the left of the illustration is the brewery, formerly called the{107} Hundred Men’s Hall, because a hundred of the poorest inhabitants of Winchester were daily entertained to dinner here, and, as that repast was provided on a very bountiful scale, the guests were always permitted to carry provisions to their families. This tower and the buildings around it are noble examples of the domestic architecture of the fifteenth century. The dwellings of the brethren consist of a parlour, bedroom, scullery, and closet; they are beautiful examples of old cottage architecture, and are compactly planned. In this hospital the custom yet prevails of giving any wayfarer who may ask it a horn of ale and a dole of bread. The ale is brewed on the premises, and is said to be the same kind as that which was brewed here hundreds of years ago. The revenues of this building were till lately enormous, and much dissatisfaction is openly expressed at the way in which one high in office, recently appropriated the greater part of them. Nothing can exceed the beauty of St. Cross as it is approached from the Southampton road. This noble gateway is seen through great elms and walnut trees, and the long lines of quaint high chimneys, combining with the church and foliage, are astonishingly picturesque. The river Itchen sometimes is well in view along the road, and sometimes it is lost{108} in the trees. The hospital itself, with the brethren in their black gowns and silver crosses, gives, perhaps, a more vivid picture of ancient England, and that in its best features, than any other scene that is left us.

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Just a mile from this charming spot is the West Gate of Winchester. Formerly there were four gates, but three have been demolished. The one here shown is said (probably with accuracy) to have{109} been built by King John. It is unnecessary, however, to remark that later architecture has been introduced. There is a strong room on the ground-floor, called a cage, that was for the temporary confinement of disorderly persons, and till lately it was used for a similar purpose.

The beautiful “Cross” at Winchester is supposed by Britton to have been erected by Cardinal Beaufort. The cardinal is said to have spent much of his ill-gotten wealth in splendid architectural works. His wealth was prodigious, even for a high prelate of those days. In the fine scene which closes his career in “Henry VI.,” he says in his last moments—

“If thou be’st death, I’ll give thee England’s treasure,
Enough to purchase such another island,
So thou wilt let me live and feel no pain.”

The probability is that the great dramatist more nearly hit off the truth of the last hours and crimes of the great churchman than ordinary history has done.

The Cathedral Close at Winchester is extremely picturesque, and the little houses round it are of considerable antiquity. If the visitor enters the church from the west end, the scene is of almost unequalled grandeur. He looks through one continuous vista of pillars, arches, and roof, extending{110}


to the eastern extremity, where the eye finally rests on the great eastern window, that seems to dimly light up the choir. The size of this magnificent vista may best be understood if we consider that a journey from the west door to the east window and back is only some eighty yards short of a quarter of a mile. It is curious that Winchester is really cased in and hidden by a more recent style, in order to adapt it to the more modern styles of thought and practice; and I am indebted to Mr. Barry for bringing forward the following problem:—How is it that in the Georgian era the great rage was for{111} pulling down dwelling-houses, and, indeed, unhappily, other buildings of a secular character, cathedrals and parish churches were spared, especially as they were all generally classified under the term of Gothic, or barbarous? Gothic, it must always be remembered, is the term of reproach that Wren applied to all mediæval architecture, though it has now been converted into a word of praise. Vandalism was the parallel term in those days, and Goths and Vandals were always brought forward when any signal piece of art-spoliation had to be described:—

“The Goths and Vandals of our Isle,
Sworn foes to sense and law,
Have burnt to dust a nobler pile
Than Roman ever saw.”

These are the crowd that Cowper alludes to when describing the burning of Lord Mansfield’s library. The second term only now is ever used in reproach, the first being almost, as before remarked, a complimentary epithet. Happily it is so, or else the cathedrals would have fallen in the fashion of the period that made each new era in design paramount for the time. Nothing can have been less conservative than the way in which the monks of old regarded the works of their predecessors. In any English cathedral we see the masonry{112} of different eras, each with its own peculiarity, and there was not the slightest hesitation in pulling down the works of the previous century in order to replace them with those in fashion; indeed we often find exquisite carved work broken in pieces and used for rubble, when its very condition shows that the builders who so used it could have easily restored it—not “restored” in the modern sense of the word, but repaired it. To be so conservative as we are now of the works of our ancestors in an age that is pre-eminently one of progress, seems an anachronism, but it must be remembered that we should not now have possessed much in the way of cathedrals if it were not for the fact that after the Reformation, clergy fell almost into contempt for a long time. Macaulay’s History of England tells us how lightly they were esteemed; a chaplain to a family of rank and wealth was hardly held in greater honour than the head gamekeeper or huntsman; and the wealth of the bishops and dignitaries seems almost to have isolated rather than enabled them to mingle with their equals. Ecclesiastical buildings were therefore neglected, happily for the present generation, or else we should have had a dozen grand old Gothic piles replaced by the architecture of Queen Anne or the Georges. The tide of improvement{113} that swept away so many old English mansions passed by them.

Surrey is a very beautiful county, undulating and diversified. A great part of it is not more than 300 feet above the level of the sea, and Leith Hill, near Dorking, which is the highest part of it, is only about 900 feet in elevation. There are many old towns and villages in Surrey, and not a few are of great historical interest. Esher is the place where Cardinal Wolsey was ordered to retire to after his downfall. The gateway still remains of Esher Palace. It is a fine old tower, with turrets at the angles. Norfolk gives the—to him—congenial orders:—

“Hear the King’s pleasure, Cardinal; who commands you
To render up the great seal presently
Into our hands; and to confine yourself
To Esher-house—my lord of Winchester’s.”

The Town-hall of Guildford is a very characteristic building of the earliest period of classic revival. I saw a painting of it that dated back to the earlier part of last century, and the street seems hardly to have been altered since this picture was executed. The balcony is of course for addressing an audience at election times, and the clock stands quaintly out into the street, supported by thin ribbons of wrought{114}

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iron. Much of the character of this and other classic buildings of the period when the revival took place, came from Holland, and the stiff gardening was introduced from the Netherlands, though of course the Dutch element is more observable in places like Hull, that had more direct communication with the Low Countries. The revivals of{115} Wren and Inigo Jones proceed from an entirely different quarter, though of course they often combined with them.


The city of Salisbury, it has been well said by one of our best antiquarians, has its origin well defined, and in this respect differs from English cities generally. It has nothing Roman, Saxon, or{116}


even Norman in its origin, but is purely an English city, and it may be considered as unique. It has abundant provision for cleanliness, and is even without the remains of a baronial fortress. True it is that it was surrounded by walls, and a very fine gateway is shown here, but these walls were the boundaries of the precincts of the ecclesiastics. The{117}

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See of Salisbury was removed from Old Sarum in 1215 to its present site, in consequence of the “brawles and sadde blows,” as Holinshed states, between the clergy and the castellans, and then the splendid cathedral was commenced. King Henry III. granted the church a weekly market, and a fair of eight days’ continuance; and, according to{118} Dodsworth’s Salisbury, “the city was divided into spaces of seven perches each in length, and three in breadth,” and this accounts for the present symmetrical arrangement of the streets.

The view in the High Street, looking into the close, shows one of the entrance gatehouses. It is, of course, of later date than the Cathedral, but extremely fine, and characteristic of ancient English architecture. The view of Salisbury from the bridge includes the present workhouse—the building on the right. There is a fine old chapel here, and a curiously ornamented chimney-piece, and also an apartment Britton calls a “monks’ parlor.”

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Of Salisbury market little need be said. The engraver has reproduced the scene excellently well, and it will at all times be numbered among the most graceful stone structures, either ancient or modern, that adorn the kingdom.

Surrey, from its position, has often occupied a conspicuous place in English history, and it is hardly necessary to add that Runnymede, near Egham, where the great and peaceful revolution took place that is felt to the present day, is in Surrey.{120}

Canterbury is one of the most delightful cities in England for an antiquary. Not much remains of its military antiquities, but the ecclesiastical and domestic relics are numerous and imposing. St. Augustine’s monastery is worth a pilgrimage from any part of England, and notwithstanding all it has suffered from having been used as a brewery, it bears many grand traces of its ancient splendour.

Mercery Lane, which is here shown, is one of the ancient narrow streets of the city, and the engraver has given an excellent idea of its present appearance. The houses on each side are two storeys higher, and that would still further seem to contract its width; but the Cathedral, and the Christ Church gateway that shuts off the Cathedral precincts, and appears to span the street, are very well given.

This is the principal gateway to the close, and was built by Prior Goldstone in 1517. The octagonal sides were formerly surmounted by elegant turrets, but these have been taken down as low as the battlements. The arms of Becket are carved on one of the spandrels, and there is an inscription:—“HOC OPUS CONSTRUCTUM EST ANNO DOMINI MILESSIMO QUINGENTESSIMO DECIMO SEPTIMO.” The effect of the great cathedral towers in warm gray, and the{121}

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precinct archway seen through a long vista of dark street, is peculiarly grand.

There are not a few black-and-white gabled houses still standing in Canterbury, and now all antiquities are preserved with jealous care. The small houses shown at end of this chapter are characteristic of the humbler dwellings of the city, and show how low a room was sometimes considered to be sufficient. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth a British town stood here as far back as nine centuries before the Christian era; but the Romans early established a colony here, and changed the old British name to Durovernum. A view of a Roman gateway is still given in Gostling’s Walks, and another Roman gateway was taken down in 1790.

Falstaff Inn is an ancient hostelry of very considerable merit as to its present accommodation. The signboard projects to an extraordinary extent into the road, and is supported by elaborate wrought iron work.

The west gate, which is shown in the same engraving, is the only one of the six ancient barriers of Canterbury. Britton tells us that it was built by Archbishop Sudbury, who proposed to erect strong defences at each entrance to the city, and connect{122}


them all by walls, which should completely surround it. “The barbarous murder of that active and benevolent prelate by the insurgents under Wat Tyler on Tower Hill, June 14, 1381, put an end to this among many other appropriate and useful improvements planned for the advantage of his metropolitan city. The gatehouse he, however, completed,{123} and it is an interesting feature among the numerous antiquities of the place. It crosses the high road from London to Dover, and serves as a protection to the bridge over the western branch of the Stour, which at this place is only a small stream. It is embattled and machicolated, and the grooves still remain which directed the fall of the portcullis. The arch is of subsequent date, and forms part of the reparations effected by Archbishop Juxon after the disturbance occasioned by the puritanical Mayor at Christmas 1647. The centre is flanked by the very lofty and spacious round towers, the foundations of which are laid in the river Stour. They are divided into two storeys, and are pierced with loopholes having circular endings, similar to those observable in the remains of the fortifications near Dane-John-Hill, and are embattled.” This gatehouse, when Britton wrote his description, was used as the city prison both for criminals and debtors.

Canterbury is always associated with Chaucer’s wonderful work, the Canterbury Tales, and the accurate insight that this gives into the manners and customs of the time. The Tabard, afterwards the Talbot in Southwark, retained till comparatively recent times many of the features of the hostelry{124} that it had when Chaucer described it. The landlord was a man of great mark, and his social importance is rather startling to our present ideas. His guests were composed of all ranks of people, and after their dinner was over he proposed a journey to Canterbury at his own cost and charges, and that he should judge the best story that any of them could narrate on the road, being “wise and well ytaught” himself. Chaucer’s characters of the guests are wonderfully clever and lifelike, even at the present day; but it is rather curious to find him so outspoken against the monk and friar, and contrasting them with the “poure parson of a town,” and “the clerk of Oxenford.” The former seems to have suggested Goldsmith’s village parson, and indeed it is impossible to read Chaucer’s description without being reminded of almost parallel passages, though Goldsmith’s are of course so much sweeter.

“Fenced around with barbican and bastion on the one hand, and girded by high walls towards the river, the legal and baronial occupiers of Rochester Castle sat in safety,” says the historian, “whether dispensing the rude justice to trembling serfs, or quaffing the red wine among their knightly retainers.” The last repairs the castle received{125} were at the hands of the possessor in Edward VI.’s time. James I. granted it to Sir Anthony Welldone, and his descendant Walker Welldone, according to Grose, “sold the timbers of it to one Gimmit, and the stone stairs, and other squared and wrought stone of the windows and arches, to different masons in London; he would likewise have sold the whole materials of the castle to a paviour, but on an essay made on the east side, near the postern leading to Bully Hill, the effects of which are seen in a large chasm, the mortar was found so hard that the expense of separating these stones amounted to more than their value, by which this noble pile escaped a total demolition.” The streets of Rochester, though they contain many beautiful houses of ancient date, can boast of little, if anything at all, equal to the castle in antiquity. There is one very fine gabled residence, now used as a school, on the south side of the city. The gateway called the College Gate is here shown. It is built of oak, with clinker boarding, and is extremely picturesque. The street in which it stands leads up to the cathedral precincts. The ancient house architecture of Kent is very valuable for examples. In the neighbourhood of Broadstairs the chimneys, both of brick and stone, afford a great store of quaint{126} examples for this little understood branch of building. And all antiquarians are indebted to Kent as being the home of Camden, the greatest of antiquaries, who died at Camden Place in 1623, at the residence where the Emperor Napoleon III. expired exactly 250 years later.

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Two illustrations only are given in Sussex,{127} though it has many quaint old street scenes. Chichester is rather disappointing to those who see it for the first time, and know it by its old cross and cathedral. There still remain in the upper part of South Street some houses with overhanging cornices, that are attributed, and in all probability accurately so, to Sir Christopher Wren. The Cross has often been described and drawn, and is a thoroughly good example of street architecture. It is quite impossible to do more than hurry over this county. Winchelsea was added to the Cinque Ports before the reign of King John, and in the reign of Henry VI. it was the principal port of embarkation for the continent. The Land Gate, the Strand Gate, and the New Gate, three out of its old gateways, are still standing, though they are rather ruinous, and Winchelsea itself is in a state of decay, hardly being more now than a village.

Rye is about two miles to the north-east of Winchelsea, and is a very ancient town with grass-grown streets. They are nearly all narrow, steep, and very winding. Rye is one of the Cinque Ports, like Winchelsea, and as yet its harbour continues to be of some little consequence. The church clock, which is still in use, is said to be the most ancient in England. The gabled houses here shown are very{128} characteristic of the town, and much resemble those in Chester and Shrewsbury.

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It has been said that it is difficult to decide if this rather familiar style of building which still adorns so many of our older county towns is an adaptation of a still older form. “Owing to constant improvement,” says an author of a paper read before{129} the Liverpool Architectural Society, “it is impossible to determine exactly the various periods, because old timbers and productions in wood were used in the construction of new houses. For the same reason it is difficult to say whether examples were new in design or copies from earlier buildings. Such an instance we have in the ceiling of Neworth Castle, which is richly carved, and bears the character of the fourteenth century, although the structure was rebuilt almost entirely towards the close of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.” We have already remarked on the former part of this sentence, as illustrated in so many street fronts in Chester, and for the second part, there is no doubt that the ordinary street architecture of Queen Elizabeth’s time, where it had none of the peculiarities introduced by Thorpe into the country, was similar to that which existed for centuries before. It is quite possible that the house in Shrewsbury where Richmond lodged before the battle of Bosworth[2] was of some age then—indeed, there are reasons for supposing so; yet there is no characteristic in it that would distinguish it from a town house of Charles II.’s time, unless, of course, the latter had some enrichment. East Grinstead is seated on a hill near the{130} borders of Sussex. It contains many very interesting half-timbered houses, not dissimilar in character to the illustrations from Rye. The one we have shown is a characteristic stone house, with a fine massive chimney and mullioned windows.

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If some sort of a consecutive order is to be kept{131} in the counties, Middlesex would almost seem to follow Kent and Surrey, and London is yet full of quaint old relics like Staples Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Crosby Hall, the interesting streets at the north side of St. Paul’s. There is also much curious architecture in the buildings of the twelve great guilds, and in the squares and streets round Russell Square are many fine old remains of Queen Anne’s time. Many of these are turned into lodging-houses, or let off in flats to professional men; but one thing is certain, there is a wealth of old city architecture inside London houses that would surprise many an old inhabitant.

This is more valuable now since the revival, by Mr. Norman Shaw, of the Queen Anne architecture; not that it necessarily should supersede all other styles, or any other, but there are places where it might have its use, and form a valuable addition to the picturesque appearance of the landscape. But in coming to London after the streets and homesteads we have been considering, one feels almost like a country cousin that has arrived from the shires. Anything that can be said is so well known already by nearly all the residents. Every spot round London is classic ground. Hampstead, where the meetings of the famous Kit Kat Club{132}

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were held, and where Addison and Steele used often to be found, is only just outside the metropolis on the north-west; Edmonton, on the north-east, where the Bell Inn is standing, that is immortalised by Cowper in “John Gilpin”; Finchley, familiar to every one through Hogarth’s “March of the Guards” in 1745, on their way to suppress the Pretender; and hundreds of other similar spots,{133} would form not only an interesting but a large work of themselves. Excepting the brickwork, however, at Lincoln’s Inn[3] and “Pinner on the hill,” no illustrations of Middlesex have been attempted.

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HERTFORD county contains many noble mansions of historical note, though but few street scenes or homesteads that would quite fall within the scope of the present work. On the road between Abbots Langley and St. Albans is a pleasantly situated{135}

Image unavailable: PICTURESQUE GABLE,

house that says “old homestead” on the very face of it. Formerly it was a large farm-house, and it has more recently been altered internally to suit the convenience of a retired citizen. The chimneys and gables stand out with great boldness and effect. The capital town of Hertford is small, and though its records lead us back to great antiquity, even to the early days of Saxon rule, there is little of antiquity now to interest the traveller. It is, indeed, a well-built modern town, with good streets, numerous public buildings, and several churches. It was not without a little difficulty that the gable here represented was selected, though this is rather ingenious in its way. An octagonal window which rises from the ground stops under a projecting storey, and on the same line an oriel window is thrown out. This again stops at the eaves, over it is a gable with a double window. The proportions might possibly be somewhat improved, but there is much ingenuity in managing{136} the various stops and faces. These indeed might be applied on a much more important scale.

Image unavailable: ST. ALBANS’ CLOCK TOWER.

St. Albans is situated in this county, and is in the hundred of Cashio. The ancient name was Verulam, a name taken from the small river Ver, upon whose banks it is built. The Abbey of St. Albans rose in importance before any in the{137} kingdom, not excluding even Glastonbury, and from its walls the earliest printed books in England were issued. The curious clock tower here engraved stands at the junction of two streets, and is not, as might be supposed, some part of an old church, indeed it is said never to have had any other use than the one for which it is at present used.

The vicinity we are now in reminds us of the name of the man who probably invented the style of architecture which we call Elizabethan, that is the curiously broken classic style so peculiar to England, and now so popular. Thorpe designed Hatfield, Wollaton, Holland House, and many other well-known residences, and it is almost by an accident that his name has escaped oblivion. He left behind him a large volume of designs, which is now in the Soane museum. This volume was lent by the Earl of Warwick to Horace Walpole for his work on the Anecdotes of English Art, and Walpole writes of it—“By the favour of the Earl of Warwick I am enabled to bring to light a very capital artist, who designed or improved most of the principal and palatial edifices erected in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., even though his name was totally forgotten.” It is believed that his name{138} was not known to Wren, Vanbrugh, or Gibbs, and yet he was the author of a style that has been introduced into every county in England. This folio of designs was purchased by Soane. Among other plans is one of a house fantastically designed for himself, forming the letters I T joined by a corridor, and under is the eccentric couplet—

These two letters I and T,
Joined together as you see,
Make a dwelling-house for me.
John Thorpe.

But I remember seeing a notice of this able man and his eccentricity in an old book, where he wrote a rhyming epitaph upon himself. Some of his friends were asked by him in his last illness to compose one that should rhyme, and be very short, and he fairly eclipsed all their productions by his own, “Thorpe’s corpse.” This architect seems to have resided in Paris for some little time, and been employed in designing alterations for the Luxembourg, in the Faubourg St. Germain.

This volume in the Soane Museum contains a number of plans, some of which have been reproduced by Richardson and others.[4] The Tudor{139} sovereigns especially favoured Hertfordshire. The children of Henry VIII. lived at Hunsdon; and at Hatfield Palace, now the residence of the Marquis of Salisbury, resided Edward VI. and Elizabeth. Cardinal Wolsey had an estate at Cheshunt, near Waltham.

Image unavailable: AYLESBURY, BUCKS.

Aylesbury ought perhaps to be considered the county town of Buckingham, since the assizes are held there. The view here given is from one corner of the market square, and it just discloses some quaint old houses with remarkably steep gables{140}

Image unavailable: KING’S HEAD INN, AYLESBURY.

and high chimneys; the rest of the square is modern. The population of Aylesbury does not exceed some 7000, but it has played many important parts in English history. It was strongly fortified by the Britons, and resisted the attacks of the Saxons till Cuthwolf captured it in 571. William the Conqueror rewarded one of his followers with the estate, and 600 years after this it formed an important post of the Parliamentarian army. The old King’s Head, here shown, was at one time a{141} head-quarters for the troopers. Buckingham is not a very interesting town, but two of the bridges in it are extremely ancient. Catherine of Arragon took up her abode here in her restless life, after being separated from King Henry. The town was nearly burned to the ground in 1725, and that accounts for its comparatively modern and insignificant appearance.

The ancient town of Marlow is also situated in the southern part of this county, and the quiet rich beauty of the scenery round it is not surpassed in any part of England.

Stony Stratford was one of the resting-places of Queen Eleanor, and Edward I. erected a beautiful cross here, which unhappily has been destroyed. Here also Richard III., when Duke of Gloucester, seized the uncles of Edward V., and sent them with Sir Thomas Vaughan to Pontefract.

Colchester in Essex was formerly a walled town, and traces of the walls still remain. They are nearly eight feet in thickness. The manufacture of baize was introduced here in Queen Elizabeth’s time, and many Flemish names and faces are to be found among the inhabitants. Maldon, in this county, and Braintree, contain many old buildings. Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross are familiar to every{142} Londoner, and fortunate indeed we may consider ourselves that such splendid relics have been spared to our generation.

Image unavailable: GABLE IN OCKWELLS, BERKS.

The gable at Ockwells lights a fine old hall. The house was used for some time as a farm. This is the only illustration of Berkshire, for the county is so full of interest and beauty that it has been considered best to reserve it for a second series of the present work. It is impossible to do more than notice such places as Steventon, Abingdon with its thousand associations, Cumnor, and the many places of interest in the Vale of the White Horse. Bray is in the eastern part of the county, near Maidenhead, and is celebrated for its vicar, who changed his religion four times during the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth; and in reply to one of his parishioners who accused him of inconsistency, he said he adhered strictly to his principles, which were to live and die Vicar of Bray.{143}

“And this indeed I will maintain
Unto my dying day, sir,
Whatever King in England reign,
I’m to be Vicar of Bray, sir,”

as the ballad has it.[5]

In approaching such a county as Oxford, the difficulty is to deal with subjects that are not already too familiar. The city of Oxford has been described a hundred times, and Pugin and Le Keux have almost exhausted its picturesque colleges and halls in their woodcuts and steel engravings. Woodstock is one of the first places an Oxford student or his friends visit, and great as the attractions of its park or palace may be, there is little in it that comes within the scope of the present work.

Banbury, in the northern part of the county, is an admirable example of a fine old English town. Its noble church was, it is said, destroyed by an alderman who was also a builder, and who erected the present unsightly edifice in its place. The Castle of Banbury, which was built by the Bishop of Lincoln in the twelfth century, stood a long siege during the wars of Charles I., and the Parliamentarians ordered its demolition when they obtained possession of it. The bars, five in number, were standing until the{144} present century, but now they are destroyed. The names are peculiar, and differ considerably from those we commonly find applied to city gates: St. John’s Bar, Sugar Bar, North Bar, Cole Bar, and Bridge Gate. The old Banbury cross, familiar in nursery rhymes, has lately been destroyed.


The Roebuck Inn is an extremely fine piece of{145} architecture. The great window on the left lights a still finer room. Indeed this chamber, with which the low door communicates, is one of the most beautiful apartments of the early part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England. It is exceedingly rich in ornament, and all the ornaments are in excellent taste. It is now used as a club room, or for any large gathering that the inn—which is a very unassuming hostelry—may have to accommodate. The inn faces the street, and the beam on the upper part of the picture is the end of the passage leading to the courtyard in which this room is situated. The room was the council-chamber of Oliver Cromwell after the taking of Banbury Castle. The quaint gables that form the subject of the next illustration are very characteristic of the town. There seems to be no particular history connected with them, but they were not very new at the siege of Banbury. There is one rather singular house here with three even gables in the front, which project into the street to an enormous distance, and are enriched in parquetry. Three circular bow windows, also projecting into the street, are exactly under them, and stop on their soffits, but the gables project considerably beyond the bow windows.{146}

Image unavailable: OLD GABLES, BANBURY.

Entering Oxford from the railway we cross over a bridge, and under it is the picturesque scene here given. The houses are rather old, and not perhaps very desirable as residences, but the effect is very good indeed, and much resembles a view on the Witham in Lincoln, that will form the subject of another engraving.

Tetsworth, on the London and Oxford road, is a perfect specimen of an old English coaching town, but its glories have declined, of course, since the{147} days of railroads. Dorchester is an ancient village, and contains the cathedral church of St. Peter and St. Paul, full of venerable memorials, and the embankments called Dyke Hills were thrown up as old fortifications in the Roman times.

Image unavailable: OLD HOUSES, OXFORD.

But, of course, the chief interest of the county centres in the capital city. The great Oxford historian Anthony-a-Wood tells us that many of the students were “mere varlets, who pretended to be scholars, who lived under no discipline, neither had any tutors, but only for fashion sake would sometimes{148} thrust themselves into the schools of ordinary lectures; and when they went to perform any mischief, then they would be accounted scholars, that so they might free themselves from the jurisdiction of the burghers.” This was the benefit of clergy! The professors of learning there, Franciscan friars, were men of very high character, and free from any suspicion of worldly ambition; indeed Chaucer well describes them in the Oxford Clerk. “The hilly nature of the roads,” says the topographer, “leading to Oxford, makes the city present a magnificent appearance to the traveller as he approaches it, for stretched out before him lies a succession of spires, towers, domes, and public edifices, between which and the rivers extend a number of beautiful luxuriant meadows; nor is he disappointed upon his entrance into the city, for each street presents some building which compels him to stop and admire either its construction or its antiquity. Entering by the London road, and thus traversing Oxford from east to west, we pass Magdalen College with its tower of eight pinnacles, University College, Queen’s College, All Souls’ College, St. Mary’s Church, and All Saints’ Church, a picturesque series of colleges and churches interspersed with antique and modern houses. From{149}

Image unavailable: MAGDALEN COLLEGE, OXFORD.

the Abingdon branch of the London Road the entrance is not quite so effective, but the line of streets running from north to south contains St. Giles’ Church, etc.; the Martyrs’ Memorial, erected in memory of the burning of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, in Queen Mary’s reign. The quiet which characterises its streets, the constant sound of bells summoning to study or prayer, and the absence of heavy traffic, distinguish it from ordinary cities.”

Image unavailable: GROVE STREET, OXFORD.

But the college that is perhaps the most beloved by Englishmen is Magdalen, owing to its spirited{150} opposition to the attempts which James II. made to tyrannise over its authorities and rights. The tower of Merton Chapel, here given, is extremely well proportioned, and forms a pleasing object in High Street. The tower and transept seem to have more recent characteristics than the body of the chapel, which is Late Decorated, and not very happy. Speaking of the foundation of this college, a careful writer says: “No regular plan of the regime of Oxford can be found till the foundation of Merton College by Roger de Merton in 1247, but his statutes were gradually adopted with alterations by other succeeding colleges. These facts, on the whole, give us a kind of glimpse of the foundation of the present university. And comparatively rude and simple as the arrangements no doubt were, as compared with the elaborate system that now prevails, there is one startling fact in connection with this foundation or revival of University College—there were then 15,000 scholars at the university of Oxford. It is a common remark that this and the 30,000 students of the reign of Henry III. are mere exaggerations, but apparently the assertion is made on no better foundation than the fact that no such state of things prevails now. All Souls’ College, a little farther on, has a fine irregular{151}


front to the street, and is really an excellent example of street architecture. It is “the college of the Souls of all faithful people deceased of Oxford,” seeming, as has been said, to convey the idea of a spiritual cemetery. Jeremy Taylor, Bishop Heber, and Sir Christopher Wren were educated here. It appears that the idea so quaintly expressed was chiefly intended to praying for the good estate of Henry VI., Archbishop Chicheley, who was the{152} founder, and also for the souls of Henry V., the Duke of Clarence, and of all those dukes, earls, barons, knights, and esquires that had fallen in the war with France.” One of the finest libraries in England is to be found at All Souls; “it measures,” the authority quoted from says, “190 feet in length by 32½ in breadth, swelling out in the centre to above 50 feet, whilst the height, 40 feet, is sufficient to allow of a gallery that extends round three sides of the room.” The collection of books is among the finest even in Oxford.

Magdalen College is a noble piece of architecture from whatever side it is viewed. By the Oxford University Calendar it appears that it was founded in 1458 by William de Waynflete, who was successively head-master of Winchester and Eton Colleges, Provost of Eton, Bishop of Winchester, and at the same time Lord High Chancellor of England. He had once been master of Magdalen Hospital, near Winchester, and that, doubtless, suggested the name of his college at Oxford. The part of the quadrangle here shown certainly seems to be of a later date than the foundation of the college. As far as the style of design goes, it is a very impressive majestic piece of architecture, and as there are several singular anachronisms in the known date of{153} some of the buildings here, it is, of course, possible that it may be the original building. Waynflete was greatly attached to Henry VI., who, if the character that Shakespeare would seem to sketch of him is reliable, was himself a scholarlike painstaking man, as far as simple literary ability is concerned. The high character of Waynflete protected him in the days of Edward IV., notwithstanding his attachment to the cause of Henry VI.; he was buried in great pomp at Winchester in 1486, in a fine chantry chapel, that is kept in preservation by Magdalen College.

The entrance gateway, here shown, is a more characteristic scene of the period of Waynflete. The architecture is older in character, and the effect perhaps even better; indeed this is as fine a piece of architecture for a street corner as any now existing in England. The interest in Magdalen College is from its sturdy resistance to James II. when he decided, as Bishop Burnet quaintly tells us, to send a mandamus requiring the college authorities to choose one Farmer for their president, who had no other qualification except that he had changed his religion. “Mandamus letters,” the bishop with simple candour tells us, “had no legal authority in them, but all the great preferments in{154}


the church being at the King’s disposal, those who did pretend to favour were not apt to refuse his recommendation, lest that should be afterwards remembered to their prejudice. But now, since it was visible in what channel favour was likely to run, less regard was had to such a letter.” This candid thinker-aloud tells us that one Dr. Hough was in{155} every way a suitable man, and one of their body, so he was elected; but the breach between the King and Oxford led to the most important results.

Image unavailable: ORIEL COLLEGE, OXFORD.

Norfolk and Suffolk were the last counties visited for the purposes of this present work, and it is a matter of regret that they cannot occupy so much space as their extremely interesting remains demand. Norwich is certainly one of the most{156} interesting cities in England. Formerly the Duke of Norfolk used to reside here for a part of the year, in almost regal state, and many houses were built by the gentry who attended his court. This in a great measure accounts for the number of fine old mansions that remain in the city. The ecclesiastics of Norwich do not seem to have been so amiable as their brethren of Ely, and many were the disputes that occurred between them and the citizens. Sometimes a boundary and sometimes an outrage was the bone of contention, till on one occasion the monks killed several citizens who endeavoured to take possession of a piece of land which the monastery claimed. An inquest was held, and a verdict of wilful murder returned against the monks who had killed them. This seems to have been met promptly by a sentence of excommunication against every citizen in Norwich, but as it did not reduce them to a proper tone of submission, the ecclesiastical party betook to more carnal weapons, and secure in their walls they beguiled many an hour with archery practice at the expense of the citizens. The chroniclers tell us that the clerical party tired at last of this desultory warfare, and on the Sunday before St. Lawrence day (which would be in the beginning of August) “sallied out, and went in a{157} raging manner about the city,” killing and plundering. They concluded their Sunday’s labours by breaking open a tavern kept by one Hugh de Bromholm, drinking all the wine they could, and turning on the taps before leaving. Of course this led to further civil war, till the king interfered.

Every visitor to Norwich will remember the fine Erpingham gateway; it does not figure here because in a future work I propose to illustrate the gateways of England, with their history; but briefly speaking, it may be said to consist of a two-centred arch, curiously and profusely adorned with figures, niches, trees, birds, shields, and armorial bearings. Sir Thomas Erpingham appears to have favoured the cause of Wycliffe, and been condemned to prison by the clerical party, though they afterwards were induced to commute his sentence to a fine such as would enable them to build this gateway, and do some other ecclesiastical architecture in the neighbourhood. He was an old man in Henry V.’s time, but commanded the archers at the battle of Agincourt, and gave the signal for the first forward movement of the English, by throwing his truncheon high up in the air, and calling out, “Now strike!” But for his favour with Henry IV. he would probably have suffered worse than he did at{158} the hands of the Church party, for Spencer, the bishop of the diocese at that time, declared that he would make every Lollard hop headless, or else, in his energetic language, “fry a faggot.” Erpingham’s loyalty to Bolingbroke’s son is beautifully suggested in Shakespeare when he enters the tent where Henry is putting the best face on their apparently hopeless position to Bedford and Gloucester—“There is some soul of goodness in things evil,” etc.; and the king cheerily addresses the then aged knight,

“Good morrow, old Sir Thomas Erpingham;
A good soft pillow for that good white head,
Were better than a churlish turf of France.”

To which Erpingham replies characteristically,

“Not so, my liege; this lodging likes me better,
Since I may say—Now lie I like a king.”

Norwich cathedral groups in beautiful contrast to the various surroundings of the city. The view here given of it is from the Ferry and the precinct gate; but the Grammar School, the Castle, the Market School, and Guildhall, must be left; the view however of the Cathedral from the Bishop’s Bridge is very striking; it has been engraved in Britton’s Picturesque Antiquities of English Cities. Attleborough is an ancient place; Downham Market,{159}

Image unavailable: ABBOT’S BRIDGE, BURY ST. EDMUNDS.

and East Dereham, which also contains a market that dates back to Edward the Confessor, must be passed by till a future series of the present work. The picturesque bridge called the Abbot’s Bridge forms the subject of the next illustration; it is one of the many objects of beauty in Bury, and belonged to the Abbey at one time. Parliaments were held here by Henry III., Edward I., and Henry VI., and the shrine of St. Edmund was visited by Henry VII. and his queen, Elizabeth. Dickens speaks of this place as “the bright little town of Bury St. Edmund’s.” This structure, of which only a part is shown, well illustrates the way in which{160} mediæval architects understood how to design a bridge, and the same may be said of the one at Huntingdon. Barry, in an excellent lecture read before the Royal Academy, remarks that there is no reason why architecture should suffer from the abundance of means to compass an end that engineering has placed in its way: he might have gone further, and instanced the beautiful works of Telford or Payne or Rennie. Barry says that old London Bridge with its narrow pointed arches, and roadway encumbered with shops, had doubtless a very picturesque appearance, but even in these days of revived mediævalism he says they would hardly be copied. The old bridges, however, were remarkable for their bridge-like appearance; the piers were free from columns, and in a running stream they were exactly suited to resist the flow of water against them. The old bridge of Huntingdon might stand for many ages if not molested. The Abbot’s Bridge, here shown, is a very beautifully proportioned object, and the piercing of the buttresses gives it an appearance of lightness. Of course this would not have been done if any great resisting power were required against a sudden freshet.

No house is better known perhaps than Sparrowe’s House, Ipswich, in the old Butter-market{161}. Formerly this street contained many fine specimens of old domestic architecture, which have disappeared, but Sparrowe’s House is not only in perfect order, it is appreciated and cared for worthily. This ancient residence consists of four oriel windows, projecting considerably over the street, an enormous cornice extends over these again, and set back in the roof are four gabled windows. The Sparrowe family have occupied it for many generations, and although the ornamentations looked at singly are rather rude and barbaric, the whole effect is extremely fine. A house still older than this stood on the site till 1567, when the present mansion was built, and this is alluded to in Mr. Cobbold’s Freston Tower. The last member of the Sparrowe family who lived here was the town-clerk of Ipswich, and now the building is occupied by Mr. Haddock, one of the leading provincial booksellers in that part of England. Here there is good reason for believing that Charles II. was concealed after the battle of Worcester. In 1801 a curiously hidden loft was discovered, the entrance to which was concealed ingeniously in a panel. Brook Street, which runs at right angles to the street where Sparrowe’s House is situated, contains yet the remains of some old mansions, and in the work{162} Freston Tower there is an excellent description of the appearance of a street in Henry VIII.’s time. In a passage leading out of St. Nicholas Street, near St. Nicholas’ Church, there are some traces of the house where Cardinal Wolsey was born in 1471. In an admirable Guide to Ipswich, published by Mr. Vick of that town, it is said, “At the back there still exists a part of the premises in which the Cardinal’s father lived. That he was a butcher is open to doubt; the origin of the assertion being that he was a man of some property, amongst which was included the butchers’ shambles.” Farther down, the streets all bear historic names, such as Wolsey Street, Cardinal Street, etc. St. Peter’s Church stands near, and passing by it we enter College Street, which takes its name from the College the Cardinal built here. The gateway only remains, but it is a fine piece of architecture, built of brick, without stone enrichments, and it can be described with perfect accuracy. There are two turrets of octagonal shape on each side, and a bold Tudor gateway between them. This gateway is surmounted by a brick label-moulding, and over this is a coat-of-arms between two brick niches, and over the niches are eight quatrefoils. Fuller says that King Henry was offended because the Cardinal set{163} his armorial bearings above the King’s at the gatehouse, but this cannot refer to the gatehouse that is left, as the royal arms are the only ones there. This gateway resembles Hampton Court in character very closely, and probably was the work of the same designer. The College was founded in the twentieth year of Henry VIII., and dedicated to the Virgin. Three years after, the Cardinal fell into disgrace, and the College was razed to the ground. This is alluded to in the exquisite scene between Griffith and Queen Katherine—“Henry VIII.”

“And though he were unsatisfied in getting
(Which was a sin), yet in bestowing, Madam,
He was most princely: Ever witness for him
Those twins of learning, that he raised in you,
Ipswich and Oxford; one of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;
The other, though unfinished, yet so famous,
So excellent in art, and still so rising,
That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue.”

Before reverting to the subject of brick architecture, which Cardinal Wolsey managed so well, we may refer to a window from a farm-house near Salisbury, the dressings of which are stone, simply to show what can be made by a single form ingeniously managed. The whole design is constructed out of a single form of light, a rectangle with an end cut off diagonally, yet even a practised{164} draughtsman would be unlikely to succeed in reproducing the pattern after studying it, and closing the book for a short time. This is introduced merely to show what great variety can be made by combination of a single form; and if two, or at the most three, moulds of bricks are used, there is literally no limit to the designer’s materials.

“Bricks, and especially red bricks,” says Mr. Trollope, “are almost always mentioned with great disrespect in connection with architecture, so that when admirers of that noble science hear upon their travels of a town or church, or indeed of any building constructed of brick, they say to their drivers, ‘On, on, there is no pleasure or repose for our eyes there. Do not deposit us in a locality where one side of the way is glowering with a coarsely ruddy aspect at an equally ruddy opposite row of houses; or where a church of the same hue was built some eighty years ago, whose thin smooth walls and Venetian east window already droop across our imagination to the depression of the spirits.’ Bricks, however, as he justly proceeds to argue, are not only useful, but a building material for which a deep debt of gratitude is due. True it is they baffle the skill of an ordinary architect of modern times, but in the reign of Henry VIII. they were a favourite medium{165} for building. Witness Hampton Court for example, or Hurstmonceaux, or Charlton Hall in Kent. Sometimes brick houses are erected entirely of brick, and at other times they have stone dressings.

Holland House, built in 1607 by Sir Walter Cope, where many men of genius have congregated, and Hatfield House, the residence of the Cecils, for whom it was built in 1611, are more familiar examples still, though Sutton Place, near Guildford, is said to be the finest example in England, and is built of brick entirely without the aid of stone, and it shows what may be accomplished in this fine material. “Its doorway is surmounted by a panel of moulded bricks representing Cupids within enriched borders, and flanked by small octangular turrets, entirely covered with tuns in relief—the device of the builder, or with his initials. The walls are occasionally diversified with reticulated patterns in black bricks, and the string-courses and even mullions of the windows, also of brick, are ornamented with richly moulded patterns, in which the family tun has a conspicuous place. The whole façade, after having been much diversified by bay windows and boldly projecting features, is surmounted by an elaborately decorated parapet and slender octagonal pinnacles, etc.”{166}

Sutton Place has been beautifully illustrated in Nash’s Mansions in the Olden Time, and is a perfect storehouse of instruction for modern architects.

The grammar-school at Hull, now vacant and crumbling, is another excellent example of brickwork on a more moderate scale. The gable and chimney here shown are well broken up into light and shadow, and beautifully proportioned. The date of the foundation is 1486, and probably the portion illustrated is of nearly the same antiquity. The whole of this is brick unassisted by stone, and even the coping is ingeniously contrived by one brick overlapping another. The mullions and window-heads also are of brick not moulded, but the ordinary rectangular ones are contrived to answer all the purposes of the architect.

Image unavailable: BRICK GABLE, GRAMMAR

Mr. Trollope in his admirable paper points out that Babylon at a very early period practised brick-making, as did also Assyria and Egypt; whilst the{167} Romans, whose powers of adaptation are yet a wonder to us, became so enamoured of bricks for constructive purposes that they used wide bricks in arches and vaultings, on account of their utility in shaping, even where stone was plentiful. Indeed bricks have been used by our Saxon forefathers, as in the church of Brixworth and elsewhere; and in the twelfth century the preference seems almost to have been given to brickwork in many important European buildings. During the fourteenth century stone seems to have the preference over brick in England, though on the Continent many important buildings were built of the latter material.

The principles which, after comparing many examples of different dates, seemed to me the true ones, in order to successfully use bricks, are few and simple, and it is a great pleasure to find them in many respects identical with those Mr. Trollope has laid down in the excellent paper to which this chapter is so much indebted.[6]

Martel, in his Principles of Colouring, published by Winsor & Newton, says that in the present state of our knowledge it is difficult to offer a satisfactory{168} explanation of the cause of the peculiar colours of different substances—that is, why grass is green, or copper red, or silver white; and he adds that it is usual to account for them by saying that all bodies absorb certain colours and reflect others, the colour absorbed being always complementary to that reflected. Thus if a body is green it is said to absorb the red rays, and reflect blue and yellow, and so with others. He further says that if the eye sees red it is immediately called up to see another colour, namely green, which is the exact contrast; and states that if a red flower is placed on a sheet of white paper and suddenly withdrawn, a green image will faintly appear to the eye.

Now a broad red wall is one of the most dreary objects of modern civilisation, and, indeed, the side of a square, broken only by rectangular windows, as exhibited in London squares, has doubtless had a depressing and injurious effect on the duration of human life. Russell Square and Bedford Square are familiar instances of this; and how unfavourably they contrast with old Lincoln’s Inn buildings, in the same city, the engraving will show, yet the same architecture that prevails in Lincoln’s Inn would abundantly serve all the purposes of a London square of modern times. The corbelling out of the{169} chimney, and the way in which the octagon and gables blend together, is artistic to a passing degree, and well the designer knew the value of the material he had in hand. Probably it was erected in the latter part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.


Lincoln’s Inn was equal in importance, it is said, to the Temple, and had its annual revels. The Temple master of these was a “Lord of Misrule,” till{170} the better feeling of the members stopped all these saturnalia. “Assumed characters,” it is said, were so numerous that they required limitation in the edicts of the Benchers, and “Jack Straw” and his train were banished under pain of any one who assumed the character paying five pounds; and though Charles II. visited Lincoln’s Inn to see the revels, they were doomed to disappear.

To return to the subject of brick structures and the laws that should guide them, the principles of Martel ought not to be lost sight of, and well indeed Mr. Trollope seems to have felt them. A pedestal of stone, as he instances, even if flat, would not be an eyesore, because the ordinary colours of stone are not obtrusive, while a pedestal of red brick without proper relief would be simply intolerable. The colour of the material requires us to handle it with more thoughtfulness than stone. Who does not delight in the red coat of a trooper in one of the old Dutch pictures, or a red cow in one of Cuyp’s pieces?

A good architect must be a good artist too in dealing with this difficult material, and he has to handle his shadows with skill, and not only so, he must carry these into as many interstices as possible; he calls upon nature to aid him with gray shades by{171} bringing some features forward, and deeply recessing others, and by repeating octangular features as much as possible, so as to make the most out of the chances of shadow that are afforded to him. “Knowing further how ill a straight line of heavy red looks when forced into contrast with the transparent blue sky, or even with the fleecy gray clouds above, he multiplies his gables as far as he consistently can, and exhibits them where they will most be seen, raises up his chimney shafts in irregular groups, and delights to diversify them by a few turrets and pinnacles, etc., so as to give as much variety and lightness to his structures as possible.”

The house where Mr. William Wilberforce was born, in Hull, is a very curious specimen of brickwork, and differs in every respect from the examples we have been considering. It seems hardly to be indigenous, and, perhaps, belongs to a large class of brick houses that were imported from Flanders; indeed, the term “Flemish bond,” as applied to the peculiar style of brickwork that prevailed in England after the reign of William and Mary, sufficiently indicates a foreign origin, and now it is commonly used in specifications of buildings where it is required, as distinguished from English bond, and is thoroughly understood by modern workmen.{172}


Of course there is a limit to the scope in which bricks may be said to compete with stone for building purposes. The nature of the material prevents our having any great projections; they would require to be supported by iron bands and set in cement, and be entirely false construction, if not dangerous, and statuary or sculpture is of course out of the question in brick. But there is nothing to prevent deeply recessed openings in windows or doorways, and many patterns might be repeated, such as pateræ or cuspings. In all old brickwork there is no attempt to conceal the nature of the material, or make it appear to do more than it{173} actually does in the building. But brickwork is capable of being used in tracery in churches when geometrical work is required, and by splaying the bricks if necessary a very useful material indeed is revived.

I wish I could agree with Mr. Trollope’s admirable paper in his estimate of parti-coloured bricks; he has given some examples of these which are quite as good as anything of the kind, but there is always an unpleasant look about this mode of decoration. Bricks in contrasted colours cannot avoid a harlequin appearance; the variety of colours is always great, and the contrast too strong to be pleasant. The charming surroundings with which we may have seen this kind of decoration in foreign lands often may be the cause of our having a kindly feeling towards it, but even then we none of us, probably, have admired it at first. The real point to aim at in the contrast of colours is the natural light and shade that octagonal turrets and deep recesses can afford us. Hurstmonceaux, Tattershall Castle, Hampton Court, or Lincoln’s Inn, give us all this in perfection. Moulded bricks might be used also with great advantage in fireplaces in rooms; and at a fraction of the expense of the dreary chilly marble “mantel-pieces,” as they are called, a handsome{174} pleasing feature might be introduced. It would not be desirable perhaps to employ white mortar, for fear of giving an unfinished appearance, but mortar can be tinted in a hundred ways, and a chimney-piece of bricks, moulded and square, might be put up at a cost of £5 or £6, that should far exceed the peculiar ones that disfigure our town houses of modern days, at five times the cost.






THE Fen countries in Bedford, Cambridge, Lincoln, and Northampton, have a certain amount of picturesque beauty of their own that is well suited for an artist, and out of which an architect, with a proper feeling for his subject, may make anything.{176} There is a peculiar interest in the thought that all has been reclaimed by human labour from the wilderness. These counties do not present such insuperable difficulties for cultivation as Holland, because they are above the level of the sea, and do not require to be pumped dry like the Low Countries. The latter, indeed, would be flooded over if human energy were to cease in protecting them for one single year. The most curious feature in these vast dreary flats is the splendour of the ecclesiastical buildings that rise up above the horizons at great distances. Peterborough is hardly out of sight before the towers of Ely appear, vast and gray. The homesteads on these flats are generally good, for the farmers, to make amends for their solitude, can always procure plenty of good land at a comparatively low rental, and their dwellings have a picturesqueness of their own among stacks of turf and stunted orchards. After passing Chittisham, on the Ely road, all begins to mend—the land gently rises, hedgerows reappear, marsh willows give way to beech and elm, and the towers of Ely stand grandly out against the sky. The entrance to the close here shown is a wonderful example of picturesque beauty; as for architecture, in the modern sense of the term, it possesses none, but it simply owes its{177} pleasing appearance to the quaint combination of its parts, all of which are plain. There is nothing whatever to prevent its being adapted to an entrance for workshops or a builder’s yard, and so enlivening a dreary street. The only difficulty is in always being able to find the architect capable of designing anything so picturesque.

Image unavailable: ENTRANCE TO CLOSE, ELY.


The Rev. Mr. J. Petit raises the question of what constitutes picturesqueness in architecture. An artist, he says, will instinctively fall into the best method of treating his picture, and that, he says, is the way with the best architects; their task either comes naturally, or is so formed by study as to take its place, while at work, and the charm of their designs is that they do not seem to be weighing or adjusting every little bit of light or shade or projection. “An architect who thus forms his taste, and then follows it without too apparent reference to rule, produces works of far higher merit than one whose evident aim is either fantastic grouping on the one side, or conventional correctness on the other.”

This is, as Mr. Petit remarks, the real charm of mediæval work; and the reason why our own imitations of it, clever and careful as they may be, are seldom satisfactory. We cannot mediævalise our tastes, the nineteenth century forbids it. “Lords of Misrule” or “Jesters” would be intolerable in modern society, and even the revivals of religious rites and ceremonies can never be quite separated from a feeling of burlesque, perhaps almost among those who participate in them. So if we attempt mediæval architecture, though less difficulties are in{179} our way than other essays at revival, we must have our copy before our eyes—and our work looks like a copy too.

The same difficulties never lay in the way of a revival of the classic styles. In all countries where this was attempted, great men were found who could mould their works in harmony with their prototypes, and they display a genius far beyond the mere imitator. In fact, the modes of thought of the Romans of old were more in accordance with our own than were those of mediæval monks. Roman laws are yet the models of advanced European law, and Roman liberty is the father of our own liberty; and though the fantastic attempts that prevailed in the reign of the Georges, to imitate the externals of classic art and literature, when every illiterate rustic was a Phyllis or a Corydon, may have reduced the style to contempt, and cast, as has been said, a discredit upon all classical architecture, this cannot sully the creations of such men as Alberti, Michael Angelo, Wren, or Vanbrugh. In the item of picturesqueness, however, to which further reference will be made hereafter, our own mediæval architecture must bear the palm far away, and the abandon about it makes it exactly suit our old cities and towns.{180}

Image unavailable: PLOUGH INN, ELY.

The Plough Inn at Ely is a fine old specimen of an English roadside hostelry; it appears to date back to Henry VIII.’s time. The chimney is peculiarly bold and striking, and the composition might very well be adapted to any roadside building of the present day. The remaining drawing of Ely is a very noble group of architecture. The College Chapel occupies the foreground, beyond it is the Deanery, and above that the Cathedral Tower. The chapel is splendidly carved inside, and the{181} long irregular grammar school is a fine example of Tudor architecture. The chapel here shown appears to date back to the fourteenth century.

Image unavailable: ROAD LEADING TO ELY CLOSE.

Ely fair is a thing of the past, but it used to be a very picturesque memorial of St. Etheldreda, the saint to whom the city owed its importance in the first instance. It commenced at the latter part of October, on the day that was dedicated to the saint, and lasted several days. Many-coloured ribbons were{182} sold, and called St. Audrey’s ribbons, a corruption of the saint’s name, and their merit seems to have been that they had touched her shrine. When we consider how very isolated Ely was before drainage had improved the surrounding country, we can more readily understand how Hereward held it so long against William the Conqueror, and caused him so much loss. The monks of Ely were said to have been at all times noted for their kindness and hospitality. On one occasion when William had collected the principal gentry of the neighbourhood to accompany him on an expedition to Normandy, he quartered them in the monastery, and they soon became extremely friendly with the ecclesiastics, though they were there hardly as invited guests; but when the time for their departure came, the monks expressed the deepest regret at losing their friends, and accompanied them in solemn procession as far as Hadenham, a village about five miles distant.

No illustrations have been given of Cambridge, which is about fourteen miles to the south of Ely, as the author hopes to be able to produce at some future time a work of illustrations of that town. In some respects it is more picturesque even than Oxford: the quaint old courtyards and entries, and{183} the old-fashioned gabled houses, give it a peculiar charm. The University had a chancellor and masters many centuries before the charter of incorporation in 1231, but up to the close of the thirteenth century it contained no college buildings. St. Peter’s was the earliest, and that was built by the Bishop of Ely; and Downing, founded by Sir George Downing, the latest. The annual income of the colleges in all is about £185,000.

Near the town of Huntingdon is the beautiful Hinchinbrooke House. It was built by the Cromwell family, probably by Sir Henry Cromwell, the great-uncle of Oliver Cromwell, and Queen Elizabeth was entertained here by the “Golden Knight” as he was called. Oliver Cromwell’s house is still pointed out, and the church of All Saints contains the register of Cromwell’s birth. It is in Latin, and an exact translation would read, “Oliver, son of Robert Cromwell, gentleman, and Elizabeth, his wife, born on the 25th day of April, and baptized the 29th of the same month.” Hinchinbrooke House is a very noble specimen of baronial architecture, and it must often have been visited by Oliver Cromwell. There is a description of Cromwell in the Remains of Sir Philip Warwick that is not often quoted, and may be interesting{184} here. At the commencement of the Long Parliament, he says, “I came one morning into the house well clad, and perceived a gentleman speaking (whom I knew not) very ordinarily apparelled; for it was a plain cloth suit that seemed to have been made by a country tailor; his linen was plain and not very clean; and I remember a speck or two of blood upon his little band which was not much larger than his collar; his hat was without a hat-band; his stature was of good size; his sword stuck close to his side; his countenance swollen and reddish; his voice sharp and untunable; his eloquence full of fervour.” The house at the farther end of Huntingdon where Cromwell once lived is still pointed out, and the room where he was born is preserved, but the building itself has been much modernised, and ordinary sash-windows have been inserted.

Hinchinbrooke House used to be the residence of Sir Oliver Cromwell, the uncle of the great Protector, and it was sold to Sir Edward Montague, in whose family it has remained till the present day. There is one magnificent room in it built by Sir Oliver Cromwell to entertain James I. in, on his coming from Scotland to succeed to the English throne. Oliver Cromwell’s mother was Elizabeth{185} Stewart, and her brother left him a good estate, valued at £500 per annum, of course an ample sum in those days.

Part of the castle which Edward the elder built here in 917 is still to be seen; traces of the outworks are very visible. Before the Reformation, Huntingdon contained fifteen churches, but these are now reduced to two.

The poet Cowper lived for some time in this town, and his house is still called “Cowper House.”


The bridge here shown is six-arched, and connects Huntingdon with Godmanchester. It is extremely massive and picturesque. The old inn at{186} the farther side has a steep roof with a break in it, to give more head room to the upper floors, and that style is again being adopted in many parts of England.

Image unavailable: OLD GEORGE INN, HUNTINGDON.

The George Inn, of which the quadrangle is shown, is a brewery as well as a large hotel. The ancient part of it is here given, the more modern portions resemble any first-class hotel. Here we have the same arrangement as in other inns of the mediæval period—a gallery running round an open court, approached by an external staircase. I was unable to collect much information about this interesting hostelry; but, doubtless, the scene here{187}

Image unavailable: LEICESTER ABBEY.

given differs but little from what it did when Oliver Cromwell saw it. St. Neots is an extremely interesting old town with a very noble church, which contains a peal of eight bells, but it is often inundated by the rising of the Ouse.

Katherine of Arragon, after her divorce from Henry VIII., resided much in Huntingdonshire; sometimes at Kimbolton, now the seat of the Duke of Manchester, and sometimes at Buckden, on the west side of the Ouse, about five miles from St. Neots. This is a very interesting little country town, and the ancient palace of the bishops of Lincoln (for the Abbot of Ely granted the manor to the bishops of Lincoln) stands in the middle of the village. The mansion is beautifully built in brick, and had been erected about half a century before the divorce of Queen Katherine. Kimbolton is a small market town on the Kym, a tributary of the Ouse, and can of course boast of a fine old church. The second scene of the fourth act of “Henry VIII.,” already alluded to, is laid here, where Katherine hears from her attendants of the death of Wolsey at Leicester Abbey. Very little is left of Leicester Abbey; it certainly shows by the foundations that are left of it what a grand old building it must at one time have been, but the gardens and park are{188}


turned into a market-gardener’s premises. They are very comfortable, and the excellently worked stone that lies about indicates pretty well how carefully the Abbey had been built. Wolsey had reached Sheffield Park when he was struck down by a mortal sickness, and then “by slow and easy stages came to Leicester.” His last words to Lieutenant{189} Kingston much resemble his speech in Shakespeare, where the reverend Abbot

“With all his convent honourably received him,
To whom he gave these words—‘O father Abbot,
An old man broken with the storms of state
Is come to lay his weary bones among ye;
Give him a little earth for charity.’

The recorded speech to Kingston doubtless suggested this passage in Shakespeare. “I pray you,” he says, “have me commended most humbly to his majesty, and beseech him, on my behalf, to call to his gracious remembrance all things that have passed between us from the beginning, especially respecting Queen Katherine and himself, and then shall his conscience know whether I have offended him or not. He is a prince of most royal courage, and hath a princely heart, for rather than miss or want any part of his will he will endanger the one half of his kingdom. And, I do assure you, I have often kneeled before him in his privy chamber, sometimes for three hours together, to persuade him from his appetite, and could not prevail. And, Master Kingston, this I will say, had I but served God as diligently as I have served the king, he would not have given me over in my gray hairs. Howbeit, this is my just reward for my pains and{190} diligence, not regarding my service to God but only my duty to my prince.”


Market Bosworth is twelve miles west of the county town, and here the last great battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought. The scene of the battle was Redmoor plain, nearly two miles from the town. When the conflict took place, in 1485, it was a moor grown over with thistles and scutch grass. King Richard’s army encamped at Elmsthorpe{191} and Stapleton; they numbered some 16,000 men, and his officers made their head-quarters at Elmsthorpe church. Richmond’s were at Atherstone in Warwickshire. Here the seceders from Richard III.’s army met him, and joined their forces before the decisive battle. The whole tale is tremendously told in Shakespeare, and the well where Richard slaked his thirst during the battle is pointed out on a farm in the neighbourhood. This place is well worth a visit, and, singularly enough, the country people are tolerably versed in the details of the conflict, and are able to point out the localities with some probable accuracy. The house where Richmond stayed on his road to Bosworth has already been engraved in the account of Shrewsbury, and unhappily the “Blue Boar Inn” at Leicester, where his stone coffin was used for a drinking-trough for horses and cattle, has been pulled down; many persons are able to recollect it, and say it was picturesque, but I have not yet found a drawing of it.

Bedford is built on both sides of the Ouse. The principal street is about a mile in length, and it contains but little antiquity. The Ouse was crossed by an extremely picturesque bridge taken down in the present century; a gate-house at one end was{192}

Image unavailable: ELSTOW, BEDFORD.

the jail where Bunyan was imprisoned.[7] This jail was the first to excite the interest and compassion of Howard. Near Bedford is the picturesque village of Elstow, where Bunyan was born; the house is pointed out, though it has been refronted. Bunyan took the side of Cromwell in the civil wars, and his escape from death at the siege of Leicester is well known; we are indebted to his incarceration for what Macaulay declares to be incomparably the finest allegory in our language. There are several drawings of the jail preserved, and nothing could be more picturesque: there are projecting roofs and{193} overhanging storeys, and apparently a quaintly-tiled roof of different levels. A flat archway spanned the bridge, and there was a sundial over it. Such gatehouses were not at all uncommon, and they were often used afterwards for prisons.

The bridge over the Dee, leading from the Wrexham road to Chester at Handbridge, had two similar gatehouses, but, from drawings that have been preserved of them, they must have been immeasurably more picturesque: one of them was gabled, and covered with tiles similar to those that are common in Holland, and the other had a portcullis and bastions, and a fine tower four storeys high, in which was a large clock. Unfortunately, these were all demolished in 1782, and a new gate called Bridgegate, a rather unsightly structure, given to us instead.

In a drawing by Randal Holme, made about the middle of the seventeenth century, in which these gates are shown, are some curious water-mills. It is difficult to form any very definite idea of the way in which they are worked, or what their general appearance may have been, but the wheels seem to have stood out from the sides not dissimilarly to the paddles of a steamer, and probably could be lowered or heightened according to the level of the water.{194}

Ruskin has said that picturesque beauty cannot exist with any manufacturing district where coal is the propelling power. The requirements of such a condition effectually prevent it; but what would be the saving, not only to the picturesque character of the landscape, but the purses of millowners, if water power was more commonly taken advantage of! It has long been a crying reproach to the country that all round our coasts, and in our inland streams, water-power exists that would drive all the machines in the world without exhausting a tithe of its force, or even beginning to do so. This power also is ever at hand, a ready servant, wanting no fee, depending on no forced prices from colliers, and leaving the atmosphere it works in healthy and bright. In one mill alone I know of, a saving of £5000 per annum could be effected by using water-power, and yet this power is flowing by the doors of the establishment; but coal was used sixty years ago, and things have prospered, so why try to mend what is well? Not only would water be a great economiser in works where force is necessary, but it might be a great social reformer, and this is quite in concert with the opinions of scientific men who have given the subject their study. The acrid nature of an atmosphere among chimneys is depressing and exhausting, and{195} is often—too often—counteracted by a remedy which might be less imperative if water-power were used,—a remedy too, indeed, in which water does not play a very important part. The science of economy in water-power is increasing continually; indeed, it can by turbine wheels be used and re-used so often that a small stream might become a mighty engine, and the saving in coal be placed to the credit of the housekeeper. Every one knows this well, but there seems to be a general dislike to put the knowledge they possess into practice; and though it may be hardly in the scope of the present work to make the remark, there can be no doubt that the sudden and high rise in the price of coals has taught the value of economy in that article, much to the advantage of the exteriors and interiors of our streets and homesteads.

At the time of the Norman conquest Lincoln was one of the wealthiest and most populous cities in England. It has passed through many rulers, and its commanding situation has always marked it out for a place of importance. It was a city of the ancient Britons before the Roman period, and the Romans built a wall round it with posterns. One of these, Newport Gate, yet remains, and is a model of massive masonry. The stones are cut to a radius{196} to form the arch, and are extremely massive and strong. The arch appears to have been built without mortar, and was the portal of the celebrated Ermine Street, which is described in page 248. It is a very pleasant entrance to the city from the north. There are some good trees about it, and the Cathedral towers rise high above it, while several antique gables of neighbouring houses give it a very picturesque effect. Lindum was the name the Romans gave it, and some derive its present name (Lindum-colonia) from this. The Roman wall, of which there are many traces, was quadrangular.

In few cities in England can ancient street architecture be better studied than in Lincoln. There are not only traces of Roman work, with baths and many other remains, but the Normans have left their mark here also, as have many of the Kings of more recent date.

Nothing can exceed the beauty of Lincoln as it is approached from the south, and nearly every step unfolds some grand picture that differs from the last. There is a sort of harbour on the Witham, at the south end of the city, which is generally pretty well filled with picturesque barges, and the sails of these, red and white, reflected in the water, are at all times extremely pleasant to see. A small island{197} covered with willows is in this harbour, and the city rises grandly above it, crowned at the top by the full length of the cathedral. The only cathedral that can compare with Lincoln for situation is Durham. As we enter the city from this point we soon come to the Stone Bow, a very stately gateway crossing the street, and finely carved towards the south side. There seems to be some little uncertainty about the date and origin of this structure; some accounts assert that it was built in 1592. This is, however, obviously incorrect, and Britton attributes it to the reign of Henry VIII. With all respect, however, for such an authority, it would seem to be rather older than this. A French style of ornament often appeared in England in the reign of Henry VI., and something very similar to this may be noticed on the arch.

The view here given is after the archway has been passed some little distance, and the scene alters. The house on the left is the celebrated Jews’ house that has so often figured in song and fable. This is a fine specimen of a Norman town residence, the most perfect specimen in fact that we have left. It is built of stone, and not wood as many of the houses of that period were, and until lately there were numbers of immense beams in{198} the recesses of Lincoln streets hidden away in cellars and back premises that dated to the Norman period. Indeed some few parts of wooden fronts also that have been swept away by improvement.

Image unavailable: JEWS’ HOUSE, LINCOLN.

Winwall House is detached, and dates back to the same age as the Jews’ house. It is much less elaborately carved, but the two form the most complete picture that is left us of Norman domestic architecture. Winwall should have appeared in these pages, but Britton has engraved it well in his fifth volume of Architectural Antiquities, from a{199} sketch by the late G. Cattermole, and as this volume is not found in every library I venture to quote some extracts as illustrating the accommodation of a Norman mansion.

“Winwall House,” says Britton, “may be considered the most ancient and most perfect specimen of Norman domestic architecture in the kingdom. I visited it with the Rev. Mr. Forby, a well-informed antiquary, about ten years ago. It must suffice to remark that the walls, the buttresses, with cylindrical shafts at the angles, the form and situation of fire-hearth and chimney-piece, the moulding and angular columns, are all indicative of Norman design. The ground-floor is entered by a small doorway on the south side, and lighted by three windows,” etc. etc. Britton then mentions that a thick partition wall cuts off a chamber which some have supposed to be a chapel, though Britton doubts it; but the most suggestive part of this house is its size and importance, and, if this is borne in mind, many things we come across in history will be more readily understood. The total length of Winwall House is 35 feet, about the frontage of a small semi-detached villa, and its breadth 27 feet; from this walls of 3 feet in thickness must be deducted, and then we shall have some idea of its small size. Yet{200} William the Conqueror granted the manor of Wereham, of which this forms a part, to one of his followers, who sold it to the Earl of Clare, or from whom, at any rate, it passed to that family, and we find that the Earl of Clare in King John’s reign held a court here. There is little wonder that great baronial castles might take the place of such houses where there was so much insecurity, in the same way that a great landowner will sometimes absorb cottage holdings into a larger farm, to the mutual advantage of every one on his estate. Remembering the size of this manor-house, we can the more easily understand how it is that chroniclers state that, in order to clear the ground for Lincoln Castle, 166 mansions were destroyed, and furthermore, in order to give this castle the advantage of standing alone, 74 more were also demolished, yet this is on the authority of Domesday Book.

Lincoln Castle yet retains externally many of its ancient features, disfigured, probably, and dilapidated, but yet presenting the general appearance of a Norman fortress of the first class. “Its plan,” says Britton, “was accommodated to the area selected for its site, which comprehends the south-west quarter of the Roman city, consequently it approaches to a quadrangular figure, though not one of its sides is{201} strictly regular. There are two principal entrances, one opening to the town towards the east, the other to the fields on the west; and it is worthy of notice that neither of these gates is placed opposite to the middle of the area, nor do they stand in a line facing each other, but one is set near the southeastern corner of the castle, the other to the northwestern one. The mode of placing the gates was probably contrived for strength; or it might be connected with some internal divisions that cannot now be traced. The eastern gate is the one now made use of. Its original architecture is covered by a pointed arch and turrets, probably erected in the reign of Edward III.” The other gate to the castle has often been supposed by old antiquaries to be one of the Roman gates utilised for the purposes of the castle, but this can hardly be substantiated, as the portcullis grooves and other mediæval traces can be detected.

Nothing more clearly shows the absorbing nature of the feudal system than these old castles; they were in fact often, as one might say, villages in themselves; but we are left much in the dark as to the way in which they were supported. Tribute was exacted in the form of produce and labour, but money must have been very scarce, and probably{202} it is impossible to estimate the relative value of money now and in those days. The common estimates of ten to one or twenty to one break hopelessly down the moment they are tried by known criteria; indeed, there is not a little discrepancy between these two favourite estimates themselves, without going much further. Some of the commonest necessaries of life are even cheaper now than they were then, such as books, or cloth, or travelling, or elaborate iron work, where, at least, cast-iron may be said to stand in place of wrought; but, again, other things, especially labour, are probably so much dearer now, that all kinds of comparison are useless. The remuneration of a first class professional man would be often inadequately stated if pounds were put for pence, and labour differed astonishingly in every part of England. Even now, when we consider that in domestic servants’ wages we find a difference amounting to perhaps 100 per cent in various parts of England, what must that have been in those days?

If, as is stated, Gundulph, the bishop of Rochester, built the keep of Rochester Castle at a cost of sixty pounds—and if this is true, quite as remarkable things are on record—it is clearly hopeless to attempt to reconcile any known money value{203} of things with prices we are familiar with. Even if the amounts paid to great dignitaries were to be assessed according to any scale that has been named, they would be ridiculous, and yet that would seem to be the most natural and neutral test. If the Lord Chief-Justice of England were now offered in the way of fee for his annual labours ten or even twenty times the value of the sum that was paid to Chief-Justice Gascoigne in Henry IV.’s time, he would probably look quite as severely as that judge ever did on the Prince of Wales; so that, when we say the forfeited estates of a monastery, or the rent-roll of a nobleman, were say £500 a year, it is entirely beside the question to attempt to arrive at the value by any rough-and-ready method of multiplication. Perhaps most of this was paid in kind, and very little gold passed, and great allowance must be made for isolation. Of course, leaving railways on one side, we must remember what the state of roads was before the present century. Certainly, when ecclesiastical architecture was in its glory in England, a journey from Liverpool to London would have entailed as much manual labour as from London to Calcutta for each traveller, and this is very much within the mark. In many counties in England £10 in those days would represent £500 now, and{204} in some, of course, the difference would be much less striking. This is introduced here, because, unless such variations are kept in mind, we shall always be at fault in trying to arrive at any comparative estimate of the value of money, and be continually led astray in assessing the nominal rent-rolls of abbeys or manors.

Near the spot where the view of the Jews’ House is taken stands the conduit, a small pretty little building like a chapel, that in all probability was constructed out of the spoils of some ecclesiastical remain. Leland describes it as newly built when he saw it about the middle of the sixteenth century; and as the ornaments, such as the cuspings and other enrichments, belong to a period of some two centuries earlier, this is probably its history. Then as the convent of the Carmelites or White Friars stood on the opposite side of the street, the materials most probably came from there. Some of these conduits still remain in England, and are in use at the present day; and when we remember that only two centuries ago they formed the principal means of supplying water to the citizens, our march of improvement does indeed seem wonderful. The amount now considered necessary for the health and comfort of a city is at least twenty-five gallons per{205} diem for each person, and, even with rain water, we may judge how far short the mediæval supply must have been.

Image unavailable: ON THE WITHAM, NEAR STONE BOW.

As we ascend the hill the road becomes steeper, and we wind through the remains of the bishop’s palace, which are very grand, now broken into picturesque fragments and shrouded with ivy. The next scene is on the Witham as it runs through Lincoln, and wonderfully picturesque it is. The archway is of great antiquity. There is a strange resemblance to some of the Rotterdam scenes in this, the “vulgar Venice,” as Hood called it, hardly{206} with strict justice, even though there may be a vein of truth in the simile.

In Camden’s work, edited by Gough, it is stated that the original magnificence of Lincoln may be gathered from the circumstance that so many Norman doorways and other splendid architectural remains (he says Norman and Saxon) are to be found in Lincoln. Every street, he states, contains some, and he says that few private dwellings have not some trace of Norman architecture inside or outside. Certainly this statement is from Camden, but it passes without challenge in Gough’s edition, and Gough died in the year 1809, though then advanced in years.

There is a house in Lincoln called John of Gaunt’s Stables, but it is said that it ought more properly to be called his palace, and whether it was his or not seems by some persons to be disputed; one thing, however, is certain, it is an extremely valuable relic, and, though it is in a shocking state of neglect, the rooms may be easily traced. “Fronting the street we have a round archway that immediately arrests attention, a very fine one of the period. The upper storey is gone, that contained the chief apartments; the lower is only lighted by loopholes, as usual; we pass under the archway,{207} and in its sullen shade dungeon-like portals appear on each side. But the archway admits us to a quadrangle or square court, round the sides of which are hidden, as it were, the stables, a sort of long, low, vaulted, and pillared hall, and the various offices, all of a gloomy confined character, that belonged to such an establishment. It has been thought that the idea of such specimens of domestic architecture might be improved in our palaces, that of concealing all the miscellaneous rooms round enclosed courtyards, and placing the principal apartments connectedly on one grand storey over the ground-floor, and thus the custom, originally prompted by danger, might be made, with modification, to promote harmony and convenience.” The account just quoted says, “Another feature in the Norman residences was the movable staircase on the outside of the house.” This is even yet continued in some of the old farms in Cheshire. I have seen the labourers go to their loft to sleep, and the farmer remove the staircase regularly each night. Surely the necessity for such a precaution has long passed away, as now labourers may rest as securely in any part of England as if they were in barracks. This custom, however, I have repeatedly seen, certainly within the last twenty years.{208}

Another palace, said to be John of Gaunt’s, is still remaining at Gainsborough, in this county. It is used as a corn exchange, assembly rooms, mechanics’ institute, and part of it is a spacious smithy. There is a large amount of “post and petrel” work, as it is called, or oak and plaster, but there is also some magnificent brickwork, which of course in every way fulfils the requirements of design already spoken of for this material. The octagonal tower, of brick, is beautifully designed, and indeed the enormous buildings bristle over with nearly every kind of device to please. The window, which forms a tailpiece to this chapter, is a splendid piece of work, but evidently rather later than John of Gaunt. This quiet old country town, that is nothing but an agricultural mart now, has seen some stirring times. Sweyne, the King of Denmark, sailed up the Humber and Trent, and landed at Gainsborough, remaining in the neighbourhood for two years, and only being bribed with difficulty to go away; nor did the marauders remain more than one year absent. Alfred the Great was married here in 868; and in 1643 Cromwell routed the Royalists under the command of General Cavendish, the brother of the Duke of Newcastle.

Grantham is an important town on the Witham.{209}

Image unavailable: GRANTHAM.

The church is one of the most beautiful in England, and the spire rises to the height of 274 feet from the ground. The Grammar School, here engraved, was founded by Bishop Fox of Winchester in 1528, and within its walls Sir Isaac Newton was educated, nor does his career seem to have been very brilliant as a scholar, at any rate for the first part of his time there.

Image unavailable: CHURCH STREET, GRANTHAM.

Stamford is a town of great antiquity, and is situated on the Welland; its south side reaches over the border into Northampton. The name is said to be derived from “Stean-forde,” as the ford which crossed the Welland here was paved with stones.{210} Stamford was the meeting place of several parliaments in the fourteenth century, and there were no less than five monasteries there. Gables figure in great variety and shapeliness here, and afford many studies for an architect. The streets are irregular, but well paved and very clean, and the town reminds one generally of an old city on the Rhine; quaint fronts crowd each other down to the water’s edge, and the red-tiled roofs break through in pleasing variety. These are reflected in the river, and interspersed with trees and gardens.


The description of a ride into Stamford in Nicholas Nickleby is very graphic. The scene is supposed to be at night, when the snow was{211}

Image unavailable: GABLES, STAMFORD.

beginning to fall, in January, and right well Dickens has hit off the description of a snow-storm in those regions. “The night and the snow came on together, and dismal enough they were. There was no sound to be heard but the howling of the wind, for the noise of the wheels and the tread of the horses’ feet were rendered inaudible by the thick coating of snow which covered the earth, and was fast increasing every moment. The streets of Stamford were deserted as they passed through the town, and its old churches rose dark and frowning from the{212} whitened ground.” The George Inn, here given, is a good example of an excellent old hostelry, and the signboard across the street is very characteristic of some of the older inns. “Twenty miles farther on” Dickens says, “two of the front outside passengers, wisely availing themselves of their arrival at one of the best inns in England, turned in for the night at the George at Grantham.”

Image unavailable: GEORGE HOTEL, STAMFORD.


The Angel Hotel, here shown, is a fine piece of Tudor architecture, with bow windows, and an oriel over the doorway. It is situated at the head of the principal street, and overlooks the celebrated market cross.

The Romans, during their tenure of the island, constructed dykes, one of which in part remains at Wainfleet. The car-dyke, also a canal sixty feet wide and twenty miles long, reaching from near Bourn to the Sleaford Canal, and the Foss Dyke, extending from the Witham to the Trent, are the works of Roman hands.

Lincolnshire is celebrated for the number and grandeur of its ecclesiastical remains. Every one is familiar with the celebrated Croyland Bridge, built, it is said, long before the Conquest; this is triangular in form, and the arches meet at the centre, but the style of building points to a somewhat later date than tradition ascribes to it. Croyland is situated in one of the dreariest spots in England, and, excepting the bridge, has nothing of interest.

The Danes have left their mark in Lincolnshire, as the number of places ending in by—like Spilsby, Wragby, Grimsby—testify.

Boston was at one time second only to London{214} itself in commercial importance, and in the reign of Edward III. it was made a staple port for wool, tin, lead, and other commodities. A staple town, from which the word staple is derived, was a town fixed by authority and privilege, to which merchants of foreign countries brought their ventures—cloth or manufactures—and they were either sold or bartered away for English goods or produce. The celebrated church of Boston is dedicated to St. Botolph, and the name Boston is said to be a corruption of St. Botolph, a Saxon saint, who established a monastery here. The tower of Boston church is nearly 300 feet high, and can be seen at a great distance either by land or sea. From its blunt appearance it is familiarly called “Boston stump.”

Oakham is a quiet old country town, in the middle of an agricultural district, and it contains many highly respectable houses, inhabited by local gentry. The market-place is here shown, and the covered market is built of strong oak. There is another old oak market in the town, of very singular construction; it is octagonal, and is supported on strong oak uprights; the roof rises to a point, and is shingled strongly with oak. This second market-place, over which the great church spire rises, is extremely picturesque, and on market days it would{215} form a splendid subject for an artist’s brush. There is a singular custom at Oakham: every peer of the realm, on first passing through the town, has either to pay a fine, or else present the town with a shoe from his horse; the shoe is then nailed up on the castle gate, or in some conspicuous part of the building. Queen Elizabeth has left a memento of this nature behind her, as also have George IV. and her present Majesty. These shoes are often gilt and stamped with the name of the donor and his arms. The scene here given is taken from the windows of the Crown Hotel, and is very characteristic of the place.

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Uppingham is a clean neat market town, to which a railroad has not as yet penetrated. It consists principally of one long street, nearly at the middle of which is a large square used for markets. There is a fine old grammar school here, founded by the Rev. Robert Johnson, archdeacon of Leicester, in 1584; he also founded one at Oakham, and became rector of North Luffenham in this county, where he died and was buried in 1616. The property with which he endowed it has increased in value enormously, and the funds are very large. The celebrated Jeremy Taylor was rector of Uppingham.

Image unavailable: WINDOW, GAINSBOROUGH.


Image unavailable: SARACEN’S HEAD, SOUTHWELL.



NOTTINGHAM is well supplied with all materials necessary for building. The best of stone, lime, and wood are found here, and its early dwelling-places have in consequence been substantial and numerous. Mansfield, at the western extremity of{218} Sherwood Forest, is a fine old country town, and still bears many traces of its ancient importance, though it has been much modernised. Sherwood Forest is the most celebrated feature in Nottinghamshire, and one of the most romantic parts of England. It is estimated to have been some twenty-five miles in length, and nearly eight broad in the times of Robin Hood, who would thus have about two hundred square miles to roam about in and kill deer. This popular outlaw has found a warm advocate across the channel in the person of Mons. Thierry, who recognises in him a sort of embodyment of popular feeling that existed against the singular severity of the Norman forest laws. There were at one time, it is said, over sixty Royal forests in England, all protected by laws of great cruelty. The celebrated Greendale Oak in Welbeck Park was quite a venerable tree in Robin Hood’s time. There is a coach road now through its stem. The “Parliament Oak,” in Clipstone Park, is so called because tradition asserts that King Edward I. called a parliament beneath its boughs. “The ancient date,” says Mr. Major, “may be illustrated by the fact, that when some of these trees were cut down at the latter end of the last century, letters denoting the king’s reign in which they were thus marked, were{219} found stamped on them. One of these, eighteen inches beneath the surface of the tree, when it was felled in 1791, and more than a foot from the centre of the tree, bore the letters showing it had been marked in the reign of John (A.D. 1199); and allowing that it was a hundred years old when it was thus marked, it must have weathered seven centuries. This is probably the age of the oldest yet standing in the numerous parks, which still attest the dimensions of the good old forest of Sherwood.”

Though it would be rather straining the point to allude to them as the homesteads which it is the object of this work to delineate, a passing mention may be made of the caves with which this part of England abounded, and which made such safe retreats for outlaws in those days. Many of these are of natural formation, either owing to the porous yielding limestone being eroded by water, or to the rock commonly called “pudding-stone” being disintegrated. Some are artificial, as the one called “Robin Hood’s Stable,” which is, however, more like a chapel, and probably has served as one. Sherwood Forest has for generations been yielding to the axe and the plough, though a goodly number of the old trees yet{220} remain. The trunks, which are found bedded in the ground, induced a very intelligent writer to say that it had once before been levelled for cultivation, but this is probably not the case, for those who could fell a tree would know its value for domestic uses. Camden gives the clue to these relics. “It was anciently thick set with trees, whose entangled branches were so thickly twisted together that they hardly left room for a single person to pass,” and such a state of vegetation is soon fatal to the growth of large trees. Many American forests are similar to the Sherwood that Camden describes; the writer has not unfrequently heard the crash of some tall forest tree, whose roots were strangled and starved; indeed a traveller is often surprised, on entering some grand-looking wood, either in Canada or the States, to find it paved with huge trunks between which a more recent growth appeared. Such a place, with its caverns and its vast extent, might easily enable a freebooter and his bands to set authority at defiance, especially when his followers were desperate men, often flying from the mutilation or death they had subjected themselves to by breaking the forest laws; nor were the exploits of these bands confined to the limits of Sherwood. We find Robin Hood turning up in Derby and{221} Yorkshire: a bay there yet bears his name. As an instance of the way in which a forest may disappear, might be mentioned the celebrated Wirral Forest in Cheshire, occupying at one time the dreary promontory between the Dee and the Mersey. Now hardly a bush can be induced to grow here, but at one time it was so thickly wooded that there was an old saying

“From Birkenhead to Hilbere,
A squirrel may go from tree to tree.”

But Sherwood is not the only interesting part of Nottingham historically. The market town of Southwell, about fourteen miles from the county town, was the scene of the final surrender of Charles I. to the Parliamentary forces. This event occurred at the Saracen’s Head, a fine old-fashioned hostelry, built at various times: some parts of it appear to be of Henry IV.’s time, though they have been called more ancient. This is still the principal hotel in the town. Shilton, in his History of Southwell, says, “On the 26th March 1646, Montreville, the French King’s ambassador, arrived at this inn, where he lodged till Charles the First could make his escape from Oxford, which he did as the servant of, and with, Lord Ashburnham, and arrived at the inn on the 4th of May following; and Montreville{222} having occupied the above room, which was then divided into a dining-room and bed-room, gave it up to the King. The next day the King sent for the Scotch Commissioners (who occupied the palace) before dinner, and dined with them at this inn. Here he gave himself up to them, and in the afternoon went under an escort of their army to Kelham; both rooms are now thrown into one; the line of separation is easily discernible on the ceiling, and the whole of the walls are now covered with the identical wainscot extant at the time.”

Image unavailable: CHIMNEY AT SOUTHWELL.

The palace here alluded to was frequently the residence of the Archbishops of York, and is a splendid ruin. The architecture principally appears to be of the latter part of the fifteenth century, and the proportions and mouldings of the windows are remarkably graceful and rich. The chimney here given is a valuable example for modern imitation.{223}

Though the closing scene of Charles I.’s liberty took place at the Saracen’s Head, he was often a sojourner at the palace. The portion shown here is part of a homestead, which, with other remains of the palace, group exceedingly well in combination with the great minster. The beautiful minster, of which the tower is shown, is so called from the South Well, which was a place of pilgrimage in the middle ages. There were other wells near here, such as the Lady’s Well, which has been filled up in consequence of a clergyman being drowned in it one dark night, and St. Catherine’s Well, still famed for rheumatic cures.

The chimneys in Southwell Palace are very fine. Those shown in the next illustration are all of brick, and somewhat peculiar in construction. They are, in a sense, octagonal, but simply the angles are taken off, courses of bricks project at the top, and there is a slight battlement, which might either be made in moulded bricks or ordinary ones. These chimneys are very striking and happy in their effect, and might, without much expense, be reproduced. There is, indeed, much more scope in brick chimneys than in stone and terra-cotta. The latter always are open to exception, and are tame, while stone ones, which we see in perfection at such{224} places at Helmingham or Hinchinbrooke, are costly; but brick chimneys may be made of a hundred forms, and that with economy. Homestead and all as the palace is now, there is singular dignity in the remains. The windows are peculiarly rich in mouldings, and, though late in style, they are extremely beautiful.

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Southwell was the place that monarchs and nobles almost vied with each other in endeavouring to endow. All the land near it would seem to have lapsed to the ecclesiastical commissioners, showing its great possessions, and there were a great number of resident dignitaries who drew great emoluments long after their (at any time) nominal duties had ceased. Two singular discoveries of bodies were made at this palace—one in a cloth of silver tissue, with leather boots on, a wand by its side, and on the breast something like a silver cup, with an acorn or bunch of leaves at the top; and the other skeleton was found in the vault of the palace, here shown, in an upright position, with an axe-blade in a cleft of the skull.

Newark is situated on a branch of the Trent, and is famous in history for its castle, where John died after his army was swamped in the Wash and he had reached Swineshead Abbey with great difficulty. The scene here given is of a lane leading from the great market square to the close round St. Mary Magdalen’s Church, and is very characteristic of an old English town. The roof of the house seems very high to our modern ideas, and the seed-shop on the ground-floor is as singularly low. Between the house with the high roof and the{226}

Image unavailable: MARKET SQUARE, NEWARK.

gabled house on the left hand there is an alley that is hardly like any I remember to have seen in England before. The houses on each side have projecting storeys, and a projecting eaves to the roof, and so narrow is it that at one part it is quite closed overhead, and the rain-water from the higher house discharges itself, if the gutter is full, upon the tiles of its opposite neighbour. The church, which is seen through the opening, is said to be one of the{227} finest parish churches in England. There is a strange piece of street architecture on the road leading from the station to the town: among other detached houses is a fine specimen of Queen Anne’s reign, of fair size and highly enriched, that has been inhabited for generations by the same family; and behind it is a beautiful miniature park with every accessory, including even deer, yet in passing along the street nothing is seen of this.

Newark Castle is an extremely picturesque ruin, almost rising on one side out of the river, and on the other is the cattle-market. It seems to have departed in a measure from the old rule that made such places merely fortresses, for there are many windows of great beauty and justness of proportion, though most of them belong to a later date than the original construction. The castle, of course new work, gave the name to the town, and was built by the celebrated Bishop Alexander, who had a passion for castle-building, and does not seem to have endeavoured to check it in any degree. Perhaps it was one of the 1100 castles that are said to have been built in the reign of King Stephen, though the precise period of his reign cannot exactly be said to have been strictly adhered to in the estimate. Some of the work in this castle is as recent, according{228} to all appearances, as Henry VII., and there is a beautifully corbelled oriel adjoining a window of this period that dates to the early part of the fifteenth century. A stranger in Newark will hardly fail to be struck with the number of signs that still remain; they are used to distinguish shops, and are hung out in the same manner as public-house signs are in other places. In the civil wars Newark Castle held out very steadily against the Parliamentary armies, and twice successfully resisted Cromwell’s forces. Indeed it was only when Charles himself surrendered to the Scotch Commissioners, and told them to surrender to the adversaries, that the gallant defenders gave the castle up to destruction.

Image unavailable: CHIMNEYS IN NEWARK.


The town of Nottingham is about sixteen miles from Newark; between the two are no considerable towns or villages of interest. A Roman road goes nearly the whole distance, only branching off at Bingham, or rather the Roman road proceeds south, and that to Nottingham branches to the west: many armies have passed along it, on all possible causes, the last being Cromwell’s. In the revolution of 1688, the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Howe, and other noblemen, sounded the disposition of the people of Nottingham by mustering along the road with some 500 horse, and suddenly sounding to arms, saying that James II. was within four miles of the town; whereupon “the whole town was in alarm; multitudes who had horses mounted and accoutred themselves with such arms as they had, whilst others appeared in vast numbers on foot, some with firelocks, some with swords, some with other weapons, even pitchforks not excepted, and being told of the necessity of securing the passage of the Trent, they immediately withdrew all the boats that were then at hand to the north side of the river, and with them and some timber and barrels in the wharf, and all the frames of the market stalls, they raised a strong barricade.” Well pleased with this, Lord Howe and the Duke of{230} Devonshire communicated the subject to the prince, and at the old market cross, now pulled down, many people on the following Saturday proclaimed their danger, and enlisted a troop.

Warwickshire is justly noted for the number and richness of its mediæval remains. Warwick Castle and Kenilworth are objects of pilgrimage from all parts of England, and when the former was partially burned down in 1871, a national subscription was raised to restore it. It is one of the few castles still preserved in something of its original condition, and inhabited. The state-rooms were saved, but immense loss was sustained by the fire. Kenilworth must have been even a more magnificent seat in its time, and part of it would seem to date back to Henry I.’s reign. These are buildings, however, that have plenty of chroniclers, and are noticed in passing here to indicate, as it were, what a prospect the county affords of such more humble remains as were sure to accompany these baronial piles. There are many such in Warwick. The building here engraved is Leicester Hospital, founded by the lord of Kenilworth. It came into possession of the Dudleys in 1571, and Robert Dudley obtained an act of incorporation for it, and constituted it collegiate, converting it into an hospital for a master{231}


and twelve brethren. The master was to belong to the Established Church, and the brethren were to be retainers of the Earl of Leicester and his heirs. Especial preference was to be given to those who had been wounded in the wars. The act of incorporation also gives a list of towns and villages, and specifies that Queen’s soldiers from these, in rotation,{232} are to have the next presentations. There is a common kitchen, with cook and porter, etc., and each brother receives some £80 per annum besides the privileges of the house. He is obliged to wear a blue cloth gown, with the bear and ragged staff in silver. Hardly any more favourable specimen of street architecture could be found than this fine old pile. The chapel, which has been restored in nearly the old form, stretches over the pathway, and there is a promenade at the top of the flight of steps round it. The black-and-white gabled building that forms the hospital is peculiarly beautiful, and the carvings on it are very fine. There is a spacious open quadrangle round which the buildings run; and the galleries and covered stair are models of picturesqueness and beauty.

Passing through the arched gateway, we come to the fine old porch attached to the decayed hostelry, the “Malt Shovel.” It is extremely quaint, and the bow window in the projection is a very characteristic feature. Many are the relics in the town of Warwick itself that would suit the present work. One here given is a very curious instance of the way in which an acute-angled street may be made to contain rectangular rooms, on an upper storey. This is remarkably beautiful, and of almost puzzling{233}


simplicity. It can only be explained in some such a manner as this. Draw an acute angle—say something a little less than a right angle—and cut it into compartments; or, if preferred, an obtuse angle, and cut this into compartments also. Now the roadway may be so prescribed as to prevent right angles from being made on the basement, but the complementary angles are ingeniously made{234} out by allowing the joists to be of extra length and cutting the ends off when they come to the square. The effect is extremely picturesque, and I cannot remember seeing this peculiar piece of construction elsewhere. The villages of Warwickshire are generally remarkable for their picturesque beauty. Meriden, near Polesworth, is extremely fine, and from its churchyard are some very beautiful views.


Merivale Hall is the seat of the Dugdale family. Sir William Dugdale inherited the estates in 1624, and published his celebrated Monasticon between 1655 and 1673. Very little has been added to our knowledge of the subject since this marvellous{235} production. These pages are much indebted to it, and some charters that have been recorded by Sir William Dugdale would now be entirely out of reach, if not lost, but for his labours.

Image unavailable: COVENTRY GATEWAY.

Coventry is a very ancient city. A convent was built here by Earl Leofric and his Countess Godiva, a few years before the Norman conquest, and in it they both were buried. To quote a summary of the{236}

Image unavailable: COVENTRY, WARWICK.

city history from a careful writer: “Henry IV. held a parliament here called the unlearned, or Layman’s Parliament, from the forbidding in the writs of the return of lawyers, and from the stringent laws that were passed relative to the privileges of the Church. Henry V., when Prince of Wales, was committed to prison by the Mayor of Coventry for his disorderly conduct here on one occasion. Henry VI. and his{237} Queen, Margaret, were great benefactors to the city; and its inhabitants remained faithful to the cause of Lancaster during the dreadful period of the Wars of the Roses.” Henry VII. also came to this city directly from Bosworth field, and Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here. The spire of Coventry (St. Michael’s) is one of the most beautiful in England. The church is said by the historian of Coventry to be, next to Yarmouth, the largest in the kingdom; but if churches (not being cathedral) where parochial service is held are intended, neither one or the other is nearly the largest. The quaint irregular buildings in front form a beautiful composition with St. Michael’s spire; they are occupied as dwelling-houses.

“The parish churches, ancient hospitals, monastic buildings, and old timber houses of Coventry, are still numerous, and exhibit in their varied features, historical relations, and distinctive characters, abundant matter for the study of the architect and antiquary,” so says Britton in his excellent work on the Antiquities of English Cities. St. Mary’s Hall is engraved in Britton’s work, and here it is just seen on the left hand; a beautiful gable projects before it. This hall was commenced in 1394, and finished in 1414, on the site of an old hall; the{238}

Image unavailable: STREET IN COVENTRY.

buildings surround a courtyard, and are entered by an arched gateway from the street; and it is hardly possible in all the city architecture of England to find a more interesting and fine apartment than the great hall. It has been well described elsewhere. Bablake Hospital is another ancient corporation, and affords an admirable example of an old city building. It was founded in the latter part of{239} Henry VII.’s reign by the Mayor of Coventry. In the distance is the tower of St. John’s Church. The whole groups very beautifully, and is in a good state of preservation.


Of Ford’s Hospital, in the same city, John Carter, the painstaking archæologist, made the minutest drawings, and declared that such a splendid specimen{240} of domestic architecture “ought to be kept in a case.”

Image unavailable: IRON GATE, DERBY.

The ecclesiastical monuments of Derby are few, having rather more than shared the troubles of their brethren in 1536 and 1539; and, indeed, there are not many archæological remains of any kind in the county, always of course excepting Hadden. The title of the Earls of Derby is not derived from any part of this county as has been supposed, but from{241} the hundred of West Derby, near Liverpool. The Iron Gate was a very fine old street till lately, but it is somewhat changed since the drawing from which this engraving is taken was made. The Church of All Saints remains, however, in its entirety.

There is a curious angle-post in Derby, apparently of about Henry IV.’s time; it is very richly panelled, but the building it supports has been much modernised and changed.

Wirksworth is a market-town of considerable antiquity, and, to judge from many architectural decorations in the houses, it must have been of much greater importance at one time than it is at present. Rooms in some of the shops have fine ceilings of Elizabethan character, and there are several curious fire-places. At the Hope and Anchor Inn, quite an unpretending house of accommodation, there is a chimney-piece of great splendour. Two tall Ionic columns support each side, and their caps are inverted. Carved flames seem to issue out and reach the ceiling, which is rather high. These columns are about eight feet apart, and except a square opening for a fire-place all the space between them to the ceiling is covered with rich but barbaric carvings. Wirksworth is about{242} fourteen miles to the north-west of Derby. Wingfield Manor is three or four miles to the south of Matlock, and is a lovely ruin. Here Mary Queen of Scots was confined, and the Babbington conspiracy hatched, for which the head of the house of Tichborne lost his life. Bradshaw, the president of the council who tried and condemned Charles I., was a native of Derbyshire; and of the more peaceful residents it may suffice to say that Arkwright and Florence Nightingale were born in this county.

It is impossible to close our notice of Derbyshire without some little reference to Hadden Hall, the seat of the Duke of Rutland; but though it is of course on princely dimensions, there is much in it, very much, that would suit a humbler dwelling. The bow windows, for example, in the drawing-room and other rooms are large wide projections, and not a slight bulging out of a wall; and how greatly they always add to the pleasantry of a room where the sun can reach them at so many different angles, is a thing that goes without telling. Whatever the extra expense may be, it is slight as compared with the cheerful aspect they give to a room. It is almost impossible, indeed, to exaggerate the size to which bow windows may be reasonably extended with advantage. If they are too large for the{243} winter, if the exposed surface is apt to make them cold, nothing is easier than to shut them off with a baize curtain. A window seat runs round the one in the dining-room, and how much this adds to the pleasure of a room any one who has ever seen such a feature can tell. All these things can be arranged with absolute economy, or they would not be here alluded to. The private chapel at Hadden has been admirably lithographed by Nash in his Ancient Mansions, and however unsuitable it may be for an appendage to a modern house, it is a very fine example for a village church; parts of it are very ancient indeed.

If it would be allowable, under any circumstances, to strain the aims and purposes of the present work, it might almost be permitted to describe something of the ancient “home-keeping” of Hadden in Queen Elizabeth’s days. The last possessor of the line, in whose hands it had been so long, was Sir George Vernon, the last male heir of the Vernon family—“the King of the Peak” as he was familiarly called by his neighbours. The present appearance of the hall differs little from that which it presented when it was finished in Henry VIII.’s reign; of course the ancient parts of the chapel, which to all appearance are four{244} hundred years earlier than Henry VIII., remain as they were seen when Vernon altered it. The hospitality of Hadden was always proverbial, and when it changed hands, and came into the Duke of Rutland’s family, this was not neglected. The first Duke of Rutland is said to have employed nearly 150 servants in doing the rites of hospitality, and in Queen Anne’s time there were twelve days’ feasts at Christmas with accompanying revelry, the almost expiring life of the old days of the “Lord of Misrule.” Hadden, it is said, “like other magnificent abodes, seems to be cut out for appearance rather than comfort.” “The doors,” a chronicler states, “are very rudely contrived, except where picturesque effect is the object; few fit at all close, and their fastenings are nothing better than wooden bolts, clumsy bars, or iron hasps. To conceal these defects, and exclude draughts of air, tapestry was put up, which had to be lifted in order to pass in or out; and when it was necessary to hold back these hangings, there were great iron hooks fixed for the purpose. All the principal rooms, except the gallery, were hung with loose arras, and their doors were concealed behind.” This, however, says nothing for the broken beautiful style of building that prevailed in the Tudor age, and the hundred pleasant nooks{245} and corners that are characteristic of it;—nooks and corners too, that need not cost any extra amount of money, and always make a house cheerful and companionable. If the only objection to these houses is that the carpentry and joiners’ work is not free from exception, this may apply to any bad work; some of it is excellent, but some of it rather tends to remind me of a country carpenter, who came from Formby to Liverpool to a joiner’s establishment at the beginning of the present century, or the end of the last, and when he was asked if his door would fit, by the foreman, and if he could get a hair through the space between the door and the jamb, he declared that it was impossible, he knew how to fit a door better than that, and said it would be as much as any hare could do to put her foot through. Whatever there may be, however, of want of precision in some of the domestic carpentry—always remembering one thing, that we must make due allowance for shrinking, for the summer sun, and the winter cold, and also remembering that the masonry, at any rate, which was free from such exigencies, is perfect, and evidently put up by men to whom we now could teach very little indeed, in the plenitude of our knowledge—nothing in this supposed shortcoming{246} in carpentry can prevent our taking lessons in its general form and style. The chimneys and the doors of Hadden are well able to give us lessons of construction, even for modest dwellings.

Stratford-on-Avon is a remarkably bright-looking cheerful town, and is, of course, more visited than any other of its size in England. The population is not quite 4000. In the sixteenth century Stratford was an exceedingly beautiful town. The houses were mostly of wood, and each situated in its own garden. One of them still stands in High Street, and has a well-carved front, resembling one of the many that remain in Chester. Stratford derives its name from the ford over the Avon that was here, and which seems to have satisfied the primitive manners of the people till a wooden bridge was built; but this again was superseded by an excellent stone one. Of course the exterior of Shakespeare’s house, in Henley Street, is familiar to every one; it is an ordinary specimen of a house of about the early part of the sixteenth century. The one which Shakespeare himself built in New Place was pulled down in 1756, by the Rev. Francis Gastrell, who unhappily came into possession of the property. He first cut down the celebrated mulberry tree that the poet had planted,{247} and when the inhabitants of Stratford were astounded, he showed them that he could even eclipse that by pulling down the house that Shakespeare had himself designed. From Kenilworth to Evesham, in Worcester, the Avon is full of beauty and interest. There is the celebrated Guy’s Cliff, Hatton Rock, where the river is confined in its course and rapid, the splendid Warwick Castle, the Marl Cliffs of Bidford, and Charlcote Park, while the river itself is full of quiet English beauty. It glides through richly cultivated meadows, and past overhanging boughs from wooded banks; there are long lines of alders and willows, and here and there some quaint quiet homestead, that looks the very embodiment of peace. Warton well describes this part of the river:—

“The willows that o’erhang thy twilight edge,
Their boughs entangling with the embattled sedge,
Thy brink with watery foliage quaintly fringed,
Thy surface with reflected verdure tinged.”

Eight villages round Stratford have been characterised, in some well-known lines, by some old resident who had the talent for rhyme. It is remarkable how familiar these are to the country people, and how invariably they ascribe them to Shakespeare.{248}

“Piping Petworth, Dancing Marston,
Haunted Hillborough, Hungry Grafton,
Dudging Exhall, Papist Wicksford,
Beggarly Broom, and Drunken Bidford.”

Watling Street forms the north-eastern boundary of Warwickshire, separating it from Leicestershire for many miles, and perhaps a word may not be quite out of place here regarding this remarkable Roman Street. It is one of the four great roads with which the Romans intersected the country, and according to Mr. Hirsley, whom Camden quotes, most of our military ways were laid by Julius Agricola, who extended them as he pushed his conquests forward. The others are called Hermin Street, the Fosse, and Ikning Street. Watling Street crosses the kingdom thrice. It goes from Richborough through London (where it retains its name) towards Chester, then crossing again it goes to York, and once more it turns in a westerly direction and extends past Carlisle. Watling Street is the name also given to the road which goes through Wales into Anglesea; a causeway is yet visible going out into the sea towards that island. The three other itinera also have Watling Street for their base.

Hermin Street, or Ermine Street, is the great military road that reaches from London to Lincoln, and so to Wintringham, in a nearly straight line.{249} The Fosse proceeds from Bath to Lincoln, and, Dr. Stukeley thinks, to Seaton. “I am most at a loss,” he says, “about Icknild Street. Some think there were two Roman ways of this name, but I cannot say we are certain of either. It must have been some way that led either to or from the country of the Iceni, and that this is the reason of the name, possibly Icen Elde Street, or old street. It is therefore natural to suppose that Venta Icenorum must have stood on this way, and perhaps been the limit of it. The way, then, according to which the 9th iter is directed, should, I think, be best entitled to the name of any in the Itinerary. This I shall show to be the Roman road that came through Caister near Norwich, by Colchester or Malden, to London. The military road from London by Speen and Marlborough to Bath, or rather that by Silchester and Old Sarum to Dorchester, may be looked upon as the continuation of it. The military way which goes from Silchester to Old Sarum, and so to Dorchester and Pentridge (as Mr. Gale informs me), passes by Gussage St. Michael’s under the name of Ickling Dyke.”... Dr. Plot, however, who was a very learned man, and secretary to the Earl Marshall in the year 1687, argues for an Ickning Street, which passes through Derby and enters Stafford at Stretton{250} near Tretbury, leading by Burton-upon-Trent and Lichfield and Warwickshire, near Handsworth, where it appears near Birmingham.

The treasures that a few feet of soil cover in Roman art are untold; wheat has grown and cattle have grazed for centuries on many a Roman city or villa. The town of Wroxeter, near Shrewsbury, is lying under rich farming lands, totally hidden from human eye. A few hundred pounds was spent in trying to open up some part, and the wealth of Roman remains and Roman ingenuity and civilisation is astounding. I had occasion to go there while writing the present chapter, and probably few persons who have not visited our own Herculaneum would credit the wealth of Roman art that lies buried at our doors. A small space only has been opened up, and baths, villas, public buildings, and tessellated pavements met the astonished eyes of the explorers. A space of probably 300 acres is still covered up, and conceals we know not what. The history of this premature civilisation of the Romans is absolutely lost. On their leaving the island the great roads and bridges, which the sagacious policy of the rulers always supplied to the colonies, fell into disuse. No longer government property, they were pillaged or neglected, and the{251} towns and villas, quite unsuited to the natives of the island, were left to bats and moles. “Had travellers or maps existed at that early period,” says a very able writer, “they would have afforded us a picture of numerous isolated communities, whose continuous homesteads were surrounded with broad patches of rich corn and pasture, and whose arable and meadow land was fenced in by dark rings of forest, or heaths pastured in common by the herds and flocks of the small republic. No ‘wandering merchant bending beneath his load,’ no adventurous stranger smitten with the desire of roaming from land to land, brought his wares or his tidings to these remote villages.” But we must admit our total ignorance of the condition of England under Roman rule. It certainly was not military only, let the villas with tessellated pavements testify to that. The inhabitants were held no doubt under an iron hand. In some lead mine I once saw in Cardigan, the excavations came across Roman workings; these seem to have been chipped out little by little, and they reach to vast depths and to long levels. The Britons whom they employed must have spent their weary lives in a sort of tunnel, in which it was quite impossible even to kneel, far less to stand; yet some parts of Wales{252} are quite burrowed with these terrible holes. The writer already quoted says, “The historian is involved in inextricable perplexities. The few civil inscriptions we possess speak of Triumvirs, Quatruumvirs, and other municipal or fiscal magistrates. As the personal strength of the soldier degenerates, more care and labour are bestowed on material fortifications. Yet how or why did the Cyclopean walls of Chester or Leicester, or many other sturdy encampments, crumble away before tribes unprovided with the rudest artillery? Into what bottomless undiscernible gulf were precipitated the Roman municipia and their institutions? The oracles are dumb; and we know really more of the Britons whom Cæsar invaded and Agricola subdued, than of the Britons whom Honorius left exposed to the savages of the Grampians and to the adventurers from the Elbe and Baltic.” This is true indeed, and, though sufficient margin must be left for the way in which Roman remains were often regarded simply as quarries for materials by the monks, and also for the absolute difference in race, religion, and habits, between the Roman colonists and their British subjects, there is much that is wholly inexplicable. No doubt the classes, like the Cardigan miners, whose terrible lot has been alluded to, would{253} be apt to desire to wipe out every trace of their subordination. “Arise, ye Goths, and glut your ire!” was doubtless the rallying cry of a large number of Britons when the Romans so suddenly and thoroughly left the island. There seems to be a common error in turning up Roman remains, that we hear of from those who perhaps may be well excused for the supposition,—if a Roman hypocaust is found, it is at once dubbed a bath; but the way the Romans heated their rooms was similar to the way in which Turkish baths are now commonly warmed, except when, in milder weather, braziers were sufficient.

It has justly been observed by Mr. E. J. Willson that “no city in England contains so many interesting specimens of architectural antiquities as York. This observation may be especially applied to the remains of its ancient fortifications, a class of architecture of the greater value, since so very few examples are now left standing in England. Clifford’s tower and the four great gates, or bars, are admirable specimens of the castellated style; while the posterns, or lesser gates, with the towers, turrets, and embattled walls that surround the city, exhibit a delightful variety of curious and picturesque forms. The view of these ancient bulwarks{254} forcibly recalls the mind from present scenes to the contemplation of those stirring times when such safeguards were necessary; and whilst we feel grateful for the security and quiet enjoyed in our days, it is painful to see those monuments of the valour and skill of our ancestors sacrificed to petty considerations of economy or to some trifling improvement. Encircled by walls and towers, York could never be viewed without respect, as the very model of an ancient city.” The view of York from Samson Square is characteristic of the city. There are many of those narrow wynds that have been little altered since they were built, and the Cathedral always forms a conspicuous and delightful background. What would Mr. E. J. Willson, who wrote the above in 1827, have thought if he could have known that the fine old buildings on the lower side of Samson Square were to be destroyed to make room for a new covered market? They are safe yet; a majority of the council saved them for the present. There are some very noble wooden framed structures, one of which has been a royal residence, and this, with the others, it was proposed to sweep away for the market. I met a gentleman in the city, at the hotel, who explained the whole circumstances to me, and expressed his regret that{255}

Image unavailable: SAMSON SQUARE, YORK.

the narrow-minded prejudices of the majority—only a small one—prevented a great public improvement from being carried out! “What a site for a market!” the spirited burgess remarked,—“drainage all the way to the river, and nothing to do but sweep away some old lumbering property that has been standing in the way for a couple of hundred years or more.” It was rather pleasant to find some{256} one who owned to being so thorough a spoliator, though the remarks in reply were not complimentary. There is another drawing of York which occupies the next place, and represents the west end of the Minster, with a college on the right hand side. This is called St. William’s College. It is a very imposing old building, quadrangular in form, and the interior of the quadrangle is extremely impressive and grand, but now it is let off to cottage tenants. The noble pile was built by Henry VI. for the chantry priests to reside in. In one of the rooms Charles I. set up the royal printing presses in the year 1642. This was the time when York may be said to have been his sole metropolis. And opposite this interesting street is Goodramgate, where another college for the vicars choral was established. This also belonged to the Minster. Of course the grand Cathedral forms no part of the scope of this work; but we all of us know how splendidly it towers above the city, making itself conspicuous everywhere; and the tradition that one hears all round the precincts, that high in the windows the gorgeous glass is principally composed of precious stones, becomes half credible if we look to the clerestory on a bright summer’s day,—indeed I am well informed{257}

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that in many chapels on the Continent very thin slices of precious stones have been introduced in judicious places, and they form a bright spot for the eye to rest on. Goodramgate or Guthrum’s Gate, or Street, is called after Guthrum, the Danish leader who fought against King Alfred; and here is the Church of St. Crux, in the pavement near which stood until lately a market cross and tolbooth;{258} here also is an old doorway formerly leading to the Merchants’ Hall, the interior of which is extremely interesting. It contains two halls, one of which is hung round with some fine old portraits, and underneath there is a chapel. This hall was formerly an hospital, and was founded about the year 1373, and dissolved by Edward VI., along with many other religious houses, chapels, and chantries.

Walmgate Bar has been kept in good repair and order by the city corporation, and is even in a better state than when W. H. Bartlett made his drawing of it for Britton’s Picturesque Antiquities of English Cities. It is in the entrance from Beverly, Hull, Lincoln, etc., and is supposed to derive its name from a corruption of Watling Street, the great Roman road that has already been alluded to, and in all probability this supposition is correct.

Micklegate Bar forms the chief entrance to York from the London road; and has been more noticed than any of the other bars, from its advantageous position. The stone of the gate singularly shows its variety of date, and corresponds with the architectural features that adorn it. Drake, the historian of York, Britton tells us, regarded the stone-grit as a certain indication of Roman architecture,{259} and he went so far as to suppose that the semicircular arches were of Roman construction from their form; but this hardly stands the test of somewhat more modern criticism, though the Earl of Burlington and other distinguished antiquaries of the period fully held the same view; but Mr. J. Essex, in Archæologia, vol. iv., has quite refuted this, as has also Sir H. Englefield in his observations on the ancient buildings of York. Britton truly says that “no person who has studied the peculiarities of ancient architecture can fail to recognise the Norman style in these three arches. The upper part of the building may be pretty safely referred to the reign of Edward III., whose arms, old France and England quarterly, are sculptured on a large shield in the centre, between two shields bearing the arms of York City.” The outwork was sometimes called the Barbican or Turnpike, from its being guarded by a military engine of that particular name.

Bootham Bar, Britton says, was rebuilt after the dreadful vengeance that William the Conqueror inflicted on the city after its revolt in the year 1070. It crosses the old Roman road, and was much damaged in the wars of the Commonwealth.

Coney Street runs almost parallel to the River{260} Ouse, between Sampson Square and the water; and in many of the houses, such as the old George Hotel, are traces of former splendour; indeed at one time this street was the favourite quarter for the residences of the nobility and gentry. Too frequently Micklegate Bar was used for exhibiting the decapitated heads of partisans of different reigning houses, especially during the wars of the Roses. The heads of Richard Duke of York, the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Scrope, and Lords Devonshire and Wiltshire, with many others of similar rank, have been exposed on this bar after the senseless quarrels were over or lulled.

“Off with his head, and set it on York gates,
So York may overlook the town of York.”

is the unfeminine speech of Queen Margaret after stabbing the Duke of York. Nor does she seem to have felt much remorse, for afterwards, when the head must have been there for some time, she says, in entering York, to Henry—

“Welcome, my lord, to this brave town of York;
Yonder’s the head of that arch enemy;
Does not the object cheer your heart, my lord?”

and as if to show what a common sight such terrible spectacles were in those days, a poetic justice is{261} dealt out in the same play of Henry VI. on Clifford, where Warwick says—

“From off the gates of York fetch down the head,
Your father’s head, which Clifford placed there;
Instead whereof let this supply the room,
Measure for measure must be answered.”

The old prints of London bridge show these shocking accompaniments to ancient street scenes; and indeed to translate them into modern language, the photographs of the Greek brigands that were clustered in a group after murdering some estimable English gentlemen are only a reflex. These photographs, after whatever feeble justice could be done, are yet exposed in London.

Stonegate Street overlooks the Cathedral from the south side, and at every step there is some view that would gladden the eye of Prout or Cattermole. The south transept opens up at every turn, and forms some new combination with the surrounding quaint old houses. The colouring is extremely rich and beautiful, the various tints of ochre being freely used on the fronts of the buildings, and many quaint old windows and gables thrust themselves in front of their neighbours, as if in amicable rivalry which could be the most picturesque.

In speaking of the Ouse bridge, Britton says,{262} “The superior construction of bridges may justly be the boast of modern architecture. Those of the middle ages were generally built in a clumsy and unscientific manner, with huge piers and straight arches; the passage over them was usually narrow, and in towns they were generally covered by shops and houses built on their sides. Notwithstanding these inconveniences, the picturesque features of some of those old buildings make their destruction a matter of regret to the admirers of antiquity. The Ouse bridge at York was chiefly remarkable for the size of its central arch, which certainly was an extraordinary effort of art, its span exceeding that of any arch in England, until the erection of Blackfriars Bridge in London.[8] This arch was pointed, but approached nearly to a circular curve. It had been built in the reign of Elizabeth after a great flood had swept away part of the bridge with twelve of the houses standing on it,” and it had been recently taken down when Britton wrote. It must have been intensely picturesque. There was a chapel at one end with a lancet front; and under it were two pointed cavernous arches spanning the water;{263} while at the other side were tall houses like those in Rotterdam, with buttresses and mullioned windows.

Image unavailable: RICHMOND, YORKSHIRE.

The illustration here given of Richmond is from the Market Square, and it affords a characteristic idea of the singular scenes that sometimes meet us in outlying country towns. It has been asserted that a cannon fired down the streets of Richmond or Pontefract, at any time of the day, would not be likely to entail a coroner’s inquest. Camden gives a curious charter, by which the town of Richmond was conveyed away in the time of William the Conqueror: “I, William, King of England, do give, and grant to thee, my nephew, Alan, Earl of Bretagne,{264} and to thy heirs for ever, all the villages and lands which of late belonged to Earl Edwin in Yorkshire, with the knights’ fees, and other liberties and customs as freely and honourably (?) as the same Edwin held them. Dated from our siege before York.” Many streets yet retain their Norman names, and the vast castle, of which the keep remains in a state of high preservation, was now built. The keep is 99 feet in height, and the walls are 11 feet in thickness. The tower and chapel, here shown, and so strangely mixed up with houses and shops, formerly stood in the castle walls, and are the remains of the garrison church, which was built in the twelfth century and rebuilt in 1360. This church has had a singular history. The patronage of it was vested in the corporation at the time of the Reformation, and they seem to have used the building for purposes certainly different from those which its founders intended. Until the Town Hall was built in 1756, the north aisle was used for the town sessions; then it was a consistory court; and now it is added again to the church, excepting some small shops, which are, as it were, inserted into it. It is to be hoped that no dispute will ever arise about party walls or rights of any kind, for there would be rather some nice points of law{265} and evidence. Thus, in a curious way, some dwelling-houses are inserted between the nave and the tower; these belong partly to the church and partly to the corporation. The tower, however, belongs entirely to the corporation. The patronage formerly was possessed by Mr. Cooke, but Lord Zetland purchased it and presented it to the trustees of the Grammar School, so that now the whole block is fairly confused. The way in which Richmond was entailed on a follower of the Conqueror is a curious instance of the manner in which such grants were commonly made, and in the Registrum honoris de Richmond there is a most singular illumination of the investment. The lucky nephew is kneeling down, while the king is presenting him with a charter to which the great seal is attached; and thus villages and manors were given away in every direction by the stranger king. Domesday Book is the most extraordinary book perhaps that now exists; it gives an absolutely accurate description of England, excepting some few of the northern counties, and it is quoted at the present day as indisputable authority in the courts of justice. No other country possesses anything at all like it, and it strikingly exhibits the damage done by pillage and conquest.

The date of the survey is 1086, and it may be{266} seen by special permission. It is said that by the Conquest the rental of England diminished in twenty years to one-fourth of what it was under Edward the Confessor. Thierry has shown in his history how complete the spoliation of the kingdom was by the Norman conquerors. “The king’s name was placed at the head of the county, with a list of his domains and revenues; then followed the names of the chief and inferior proprietors, in the order of their military rank and their territorial wealth. The Saxons, who by special favour had been spared the spoliation, were found only in the lowest schedule; for the number of that race who still continued to be free proprietors, or tenants in chief to the king, as the conquerors called it, were such only for small domains. They were inscribed at the end of each chapter under the name of thanes of the king, or by some other designation of domestic service in the royal household. The rest of the names of an Anglo-Saxon form, that are scattered here and there through the roll, belong to farmers holding by a precarious title a few fractions, larger or smaller, of the domains of the Norman earls, barons, knights, sergeants, and bowmen.”

There is little of interest in Ripon besides the Cathedral. The houses have generally been{267}

Image unavailable: RIPON, YORKSHIRE.

modernised, and they do not seem to be more than about a century or a century and a half old. The dedication of Ripon Church was attended by Egfrid, king of Northumbria, who feasted the people for three days; and here it may be in place to allude to these dedications as bearing on some village customs that have died out happily in nearly every part of England—the rush-bearings, the wakes, and church ales. Gregory the Great bade St. Augustine not to destroy the pagan temples, but only the idols that{268} were in them, purifying the site and sprinkling it with holy water, etc.; and because the people were in the habit of assembling on certain days, and having their orgies and feasts to their gods, the crafty pontiff knew it would weaken his hold on them to bring such things to a sudden conclusion, and ordered that these bacchanalia were still to be continued, but kept on the saint’s day the church was dedicated to; and in the then condition of the people that would tend rather to attach them to the new religion. The Unicorn Inn in Ripon has some slight traces of antiquity, but it is more as a foreground to the west front of the Cathedral, than to any particular merits of its own, it owes its architectural value.

The fine old three-gabled house at Wakefield, here shown, was probably built about the same time as the battle of Wakefield; it is now divided into small shops, and the carved work has been much defaced and removed. There is nothing in it essentially different from any other black-and-white house that may be seen in Chester or elsewhere.

Sandal Castle, near Wakefield, figures in the third part of “Henry VI.,” and is now in ruins, and the Duke of York wished to remain here on the defensive against the army of 20,000 that Queen{269}

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Margaret had mustered under promise of plunder if her cause should be successful. The Duke’s forces mustered not more than a quarter of the number, but the Earl of Salisbury prevailed on him to advance to meet the Queen’s army. When the Yorkists advanced in good order they probably did not even guess at the superior forces they were pitted against, and as their leader was allowed to advance towards Wakefield he was cut off from Sandal, and was nearly the first to fall. His head, as we have seen, was put on York gates, and scenes of exceptional barbarity, even for the Wars of the{270} Roses, followed Margaret’s victory. The Duke of York’s son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was murdered with great cruelty after the battle, by Lord Clifford, at Wakefield bridge. He is made to say in “Henry VI.”

“No, if I digg’d up thy forefathers’ graves,
And hung their rotten coffins up in chains,
It could not slake mine ire, nor ease my heart.
The sight of any of the house of York
Is as a fury to torment my soul;
And till I root out their accursed line,
And leave not one alive, I live in hell.”

The chapel on Wakefield bridge, which was in a ruinous condition till the late Vicar of Wakefield restored it, was built by Edward IV., the brother of the young Rutland who was murdered by Clifford. He erected it on the spot where his brother was slain. The intercession of the young Rutland for his life is powerfully told in Shakespeare, and the gibes and jeers that Clifford gave way to when he stabbed him. Even Clifford’s own party could not excuse this act, for Rutland is always described as an extremely amiable gentle youth. Hall says that not a few of his party after the murder stigmatised Clifford as “no gentleman,” a censure that we cannot say errs on the side of severity when judged by our modern ideas. These wayside chapels, we are told,{271}


were the only places of public worship to which no burial-ground was attached. “They had no walled enclosure, and could never have been more alone than many are now on the highways to Walsingham. Those near Hillborough have been planted on the bleak brows of elevated ground near the roadside, and are without particular architectural distinction, etc. The interior, which could once afford rest to the weary and a pittance to the distressed, is now too desolate to be sought as a{272} refuge by cattle.” This chapel at Wakefield was at one time such a place, for it is supposed to have been originally built in the time of Edward II., and no doubt correctly so supposed, but it was transformed or almost rebuilt in the superb form we see it now, in the reign of Edward IV. In case this wonderful chapel may not be understood with sufficient clearness, it may be well to remark that it occupies a sort of large pier, an exaggerated kind of buttress to the bridge. The windows are certainly curious and beautiful: the singular part of them is that they contain a two-centred head in a square, the spandrels being pierced.

Pontefract is rather a disappointment to those who visit it for the first time, and who are expecting to see much of its ancient glories left. The house here shown is rather curious, and evidently of considerable antiquity. The outside stair and the slits in the wall are defensive, but sash windows have replaced mullions, and now it is a good substantial farm-house. The population of the town is said to be nearly 12,000, but they are nearly all cottagers, and apparently in rather humble circumstances. The rocky foundation on which the castle was built is now a valuable quarry of filtering stones, that are sent to all parts of the kingdom. The liquorice-grounds{273}


become a distinctive feature here, and the making of pomfret cakes forms quite an industry among the natives. Few if any castles in England have played so conspicuous a part in the history of the country. It was built by Ilbert de Lacy, a follower of the Conqueror. He received as his share of the plunder 150 manors in Yorkshire, ten in Nottingham, and four in Lincolnshire. The gentle baron took a fancy to Pontefract because he considered that it bore a resemblance to his old home in Normandy, and readily had it transferred from its original possessor to himself.{274} The area enclosed by the castle walls is said to have been about seven acres, and it was of course fortified with all engineering expedients then known. The dungeons are a remarkable feature here, not only on account of their stern forbidding appearance, but from the number and importance of the prisoners who have been confined in them. Pontefract Castle was the seat of the Earl of Lancaster in the reign of Edward II., when the country was torn to pieces by factions, and the Royalists and the house of Lancaster fought for predominance. In one of the battles the Earl of Lancaster was defeated and taken to his own castle, and there, without a hearing, and under circumstances of great barbarity, he was put to death. In the short reign also of Richard III. many great men were confined in these dungeons, and afterwards executed; Woodville, Gray, and Rivers among the rest. This castle held out longer than any other against the army of Cromwell; indeed was not taken till after Charles was executed. A singular tale is told of its final surrender and demolition. It would seem that when the Royalists were reduced to straits, General Lambert, who commanded the Parliamentarians, summoned them to surrender, and offered them honourable terms. The only ones he excepted from{275} these terms were six gentlemen who were obnoxious to Cromwell, and these he said it was desirable to have executed. The garrison, who were composed principally of Nottingham men, objected to this, and asked Lambert to agree to the following singular condition:—the castle was to be held for a week longer, and then surrendered; but if, in the interim, these six gentlemen could escape by fair means, they were to be permitted. Lambert said if he only had his own way he would let them all off free, and rejoice at it, but he was completely tied down by his instructions; however, he would take upon himself to agree to the week. Several skirmishes took place during this week, and four of the six besieged gentlemen effected their escape. It is not improbable that no very great diligence was employed in their capture. Still, however, two remained, Sir Hugh Cartwright and another, and they would not let any further trouble or loss be incurred on their behalf, so they found a chamber in the walls, and caused themselves to be loosely walled in with a month’s provisions in the room. They calculated that the castle would be retaken by the Royalists within the month. The garrison then surrendered, and Lambert reduced the castle to the ruinous condition in which it now is; and the tale that passed current was{276} that he just happened to pass the part where they were concealed, and they escaped and went abroad; at any rate one of them died at Antwerp some time after.

Image unavailable: DOORWAY IN COTTAGE, WITH

The doorway with the royal arms, which is correctly shown here, is in a cottage opposite the castle, and no doubt at one time was connected with the great establishment. It is evidently only part of a much more important building, and probably stood in the castle enclosures. It is hardly necessary to remark here that it was at Pontefract Castle that Richard II. met his death in the year 1400, when only thirty-five years of age. Nothing is known of the manner of his death. Some suppose that he was murdered or starved to death, as the two gentlemen in Cromwell’s time might have been but for timely accidents; and tradition says that Sir Piers Exton, with a select band of assassins, murdered him there, that a stout resistance was made, and some were killed besides the king.

The well-known scene in “Richard II.” favours{277} this view. The captive, in a long soliloquy in a dungeon that is yet pointed out as his prison, says—

“How these vain weak nails
May tear a passage through the flinty ribs
Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls,
And, for they cannot, die in their own pride.
Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
That they are not the first of fortune’s slaves,
Nor shall not be the last; like silly beggars
Who sitting in the stocks refuge their shame.”
Richard II. Act V. Scene 5.

Beverley is near Hull, and perhaps rather remote from the parts of the island that are most commonly traversed. It is a town, however, of great beauty and interest, and contains among other attractions two fine old churches. One, St. Mary’s, has been engraved in some recent works, and the minster has quite the proportions and style of a first-class cathedral. Britton remarks that it resembles Salisbury in plan and general style. The ancient family of Percy were great benefactors to the building; and the shrine, commonly called the Percy Shrine, built apparently in the fifteenth century, is very commonly regarded as the finest piece of workmanship that is left us from the mediæval ages. This family possessed two grand residences in the neighbourhood—Leconfield Manor and Wressel Castle.

The lamp with which this chapter is closed is a{278} good example of old wrought-iron work. It may have been constructed any time from the Edwardean period to the Stewart age; for, singularly enough, there are no features in this class of wrought-iron work that indicate any period in the same way as stone-work does. With close attention some slight character may be detected in a leaf, but generally such an index as this is quite wanting.






THE entrance gate to Beverley is a rather fine specimen of brick architecture, with mouldings and niches all in the same material. It fully carries out the principles of brickwork that have been the subject of a former chapter, and is a delightful entrance to a country town of first-class importance. The houses of Beverley are good, and it is resorted{280} to by many retired merchants and tradesmen who wish to pass what remains of life in quiet.


In the market place, which the engraver has given an excellent idea of, is a quaint cross of the Carolean period. This market place occupies some four acres, and is a perfect gem of picturesque town beauty. The cross must have been among the last that were built as market crosses. The history of these beautiful remains, that have done so much to enliven old towns and cities, may be told in{281} a few words. They were devoted to various uses. Sometimes they were preaching crosses, as the one at Iron Acton, where probably in very warm weather the vicar or incumbent would address the congregation in the open air, or, like the black friars in Hereford, where the pulpit cross seems to have stood in cloisters. Sometimes they were memorial crosses, like the three grand Eleanor crosses that are left us out of the original twelve; and it is satisfactory to be able to think that these beautiful memorials will again be copied very freely. The colonies even are beginning to erect some imitations of the Waltham cross,[9] and indeed its marvellous beauty speaks for itself. At one time there were certainly 5000 crosses in England, but they were so easily destroyed in Cromwell’s time, that very little trace of all this luxuriance of architecture is left. Some crosses may be buried only a foot under the soil, and noble examples lost to our sight; indeed it is by no means uncertain that we shall not be able to add at least one Eleanor cross to our list, if not two. The Chester Cross was buried for years, indeed centuries, before it was discovered in front of{282} St. Peter’s Church, only a few inches below the footwalk, apparently placed reverently by some careful hand; and since these pages have been commenced, and in some very recent alterations to Neston church in this neighbourhood, the remains of three fine stone crosses were exhumed. A cross filled many uses, as has been said, but it was always contrived to make it an object of beauty to the neighbourhood. The Charing Cross that has been recently erected opposite the new hotel is one of the most successful that has been put up in modern days, and much resembles the roadside one at Waltham. From these old crosses proclamations used to be read, and tolls collected from the market people. The modern drinking-fountain also is an adaptation of the idea that suggested some of the crosses, and several of the old conduits might be copied with great advantage. The one at Sherborne, which has been illustrated in these pages, would be an excellent model for a drinking-fountain, and one that has not yet been copied. The covered market cross at Beverley is one of the last that was built, and answered the same purposes as those of Salisbury or Malmesbury. These were merely covered spaces for country people to rest in, in the heat and the rain, and generally connected with some religious{283} house in the neighbourhood. They were usually octagonal and richly groined. That at Chichester is the most elaborate, though the more ancient one at Salisbury, engraved in page 119, is the most graceful and picturesque in the country. One thing strikes us in these crosses—the smallness of the accommodation for a public market; but then, as now, the market square was covered with awnings or tents. And one of the most picturesque sights in England is an old market square like the one at Hexham, or the one at Salisbury, with their booths, on a busy market-day. Sometimes a cross was built on an octagonal shaft surmounted with a crucifix, or a head with niches and small statues, and an octagonal covering was built up round it reaching to about half the height of the original shaft. This, as at Cheddar in Somerset, is sometimes of later date, and sometimes, as at Shepton-Mallet, in the same vicinity, built contemporaneously with the central column. In great numbers of villages we find flights of steps where a cross has once stood; but the eyesore being removed, the Puritans allowed the steps to remain. In Malpas these are of enormous dimensions, and when they were surmounted with a tall cross the effect in this picturesque little country town must have been most{284} striking. As a rule, our modern representations of crosses have not been very successful; they are wanting in lightness and ingenuity. One mode of decoration, however, that is thoroughly unsuited to our climate, we are not likely to see renewed, and that is the gilding of crosses. The magnificent cross at Coventry was regilded in the reign of James II., and is said to have used up 15,403 books of gold.

Beverley was at one time surrounded by lakes that were formed by the overflowing of the Humber, and its name is said to be derived from Beaver lake, as at one time these animals were very abundant in this part of Yorkshire. There is a grammar school here of great antiquity.

The towns of Scarborough and Whitby contain nothing at all that could illustrate the subject in hand; indeed, on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Whitby only contained thirty or forty houses.

In the adjoining county of Westmoreland there is not very much that comes within our range. The beauty of the county needs no telling here. The English lakes are hardly excelled in beauty anywhere in the world, but of course their requirements for modern travel have caused a modern growth{285} of architecture. The ruins of the castle where Catherine Parr was born are near Kendal, but the town itself contains nothing of interest architecturally.

Appleby, the county town, was at one time a place of importance, but it was twice burned down during the wars, and the present appearance is quite modern. Ambleside is a charming town almost entirely composed of modern detached cottages, each in its own garden.

The county of Northumberland suffered, like Dorset, severely, from incursions of the Danes, though in the former county they were suffered to settle after their overthrow by King Alfred; and Mr. G. Tate, in an interesting history of Alnwick, has given a curious list of Danish words that are still preserved in the dialect spoken about that town.

Indeed he shows that every word which is of strange origin has come from Scandinavia. This work of Mr. Tate’s was reviewed some ten years since, in the Builder, in a very interesting article, from which I do not hesitate to borrow.

The writer says that in general the people who visit Alnwick for the first time feel sadly disappointed. They look upon it as the ancient home{286} of the Percies, and almost expect to find men in mediæval costume, or at any rate they do think that the town should have the appearance of some newly fought field, and there should be some few pieces of armour lying about; and often the disappointment is expressed loudly at the first sight of the small quiet gray town lying in its green basin. Wordsworth and Pennant even make no secret of their chagrin, as they found their hopes all scattered; and Halleck, the American poet, is very much exercised at the appearance of the liveried menial who let him through the ancient halls of Hotspur and his wife, for the modest sum of “ten shillings and sixpence sterling.” Yet it seems that the inhabitants are all antiquaries, either from the associations with which they are surrounded or the force of old customs, and there is hardly a tradesman that does not possess some collection of local antiquities. Mr. Tate reinvests Alnwick, as it were, with some of its ancient glories. He says, “When several of our great towns were mere villages, Alnwick was a walled town and enjoyed a corporate existence; warlike barons, wielding power little less than regal, resided within its great castle, ruled their vassals, and hatched their plots against their sovereign, or devised schemes for public liberty. Malefactors were executed there,{287} and grisly and gory heads were exhibited over the gates; mitred abbots and cowled monks lived hard by, and dispensed a splendid hospitality within their abbeys. Old customs lingered long here; and there yet remains somewhat of the racy savour of olden times, in the tastes and associations of the inhabitants.”

The Percies were in possession of Alnwick at least 120 years before it was walled and fortified, and the wall that surrounded it does not seem to have differed very much from that of Chester. The Border warfare, or rather perhaps armed plunder, that one might almost have supposed was inherited from the Danish blood that flowed in the veins of the northern people, accounts for much of their architecture.

When Worcester says—

——“The fox
Who ne’er so tame, so cherished, and locked up,
Will have a wild trick of his ancestors,”

he might have been alluding to the neighbours by whom Hotspur was surrounded. It is computed that no less than 2000 men must have been employed in a complicated system of day and night watching to guard against the lawless raids of the Middle Ages. The day watches began their duty at{288} daylight, and blew a horn on the approach of the foe, and all men were bound on pain of death to follow the fray with hue and cry. Goods captured from the Scots were restored to the owner, and the capturer was rewarded. No man was permitted to speak to a Scotsman without leave from the warder, so great a terror did the inroads of the Northerners cause among the English.

Perhaps there may have been a reverse to this picture, and the hands of the Englishmen were not quite clean. The conduct of the stout Earl of Northumberland in Chevy Chase is not such as we can well excuse. He certainly had no pretence of right on his side to take three summer days of pleasure in the Scottish woods, and kill and bring back to Alnwick the chiefest harts in Douglas’s manor. This must always have struck even the most youthful admirer of the beautiful ballad. Then they were not satisfied with moderate, or indeed excellent sport. A hundred fallow deer did not appease the “stout Earl” and his friends, for they seem to have coolly prepared for further hunting. The chronicler simply says—

“And long before high noon they had
A hundred fat bucks slain;
Then, having dined, the drovers went
To rouse them up again.”


This ballad is evidently written in the interests of the English, and whoever may have been generally most to blame in the Border quarrels, it is clear that the English on the occasion of Chevy Chase had a good deal of wrong on their side.

The waits were suppressed in 1831 by the Corporation. They used to last from Martinmas to January, and Mr. Tate remembers the criers perambulating the town at night with a “Good morrow, masters all! half-past three on a frosty morning;” and once or twice a week altering their apostrophe to the name of a householder, “Good morrow, Mistress Turner! half-past two on a cloudy morning.” Singular as such customs may seem now, it is only a comparatively few years since constables used to perambulate the city at night time in Liverpool and other large towns, using almost similar language. Fortunately the establishment of new police has deprived them of the power of paying off some old grudge against any particular inhabitant who might be supposed to require information about the time of night and the state of the weather; and the watchman with his lantern has now become a thing of the past,—more so even than mail-coaches with their rumbles and horns, which, indeed, have not even yet{290} disappeared from some of the more remote parts of the island.

Image unavailable: HEXHAM.

Hexham is a very imposing-looking town, as it is approached from the railway. The Moot Hall and the Abbey Church occupy commanding features in the landscape. The Abbey Church was at one time a cathedral, dedicated to St. Andrew. Every building in Hexham that can boast of any antiquity bears testimony to the disturbed state of the old times. This is the case also with Haltwhistle, on the left bank of the Tyne, and other Northumbrian towns. Those who are in the habit of spending time in amateur gardening may be interested to{291} know that the gloves called “Hexham tans” are manufactured here, and sent into the country to be sold at exactly double the price they bring in Hexham. Formerly hats like the Monmouth caps were made here, but, as in Monmouth, all the factories are now closed. Hexham has produced two remarkable chroniclers—John of Hexham and Prior Richard.

Image unavailable: HEXHAM.


Image unavailable: BLACK GATE, NEWCASTLE.

The Black Gate at Newcastle-on-Tyne is a singular example of the architecture of the period we have been describing. Gloomy and forbidding it looks, as if really every man’s hand was against his neighbour, and his neighbour’s against him. It has been recently destroyed, but the engraving is taken from a photograph that was fortunately made before. Of course the windows are modern in comparison with the rest of the building. This gate was built{293} at an enormous cost in the reign of Henry III., and, as a recent chronicler has said, “it is apt to convey a gloomy impression of Norman character and times, in passing under the low and narrow arch. Louring and characteristic is the effect of its great depth, thirty-six feet, and suggestive of thoughts of the awful dungeons of the mighty barons, and the deeds of cruelty too often perpetrated in them.” The older fortifications were quite inadequate for the defence of Newcastle against the Scots, who seem to have ravaged it at will. Part of them remained until very recently behind the priory of Black Friars.

The history of the walls is very illustrative of the times. On one of the inroads of the Scots, after they had exhausted the old programme of plunder and fire, they carried off a wealthy citizen with them to Scotland, and held him for ransom. This was not long in coming, and on his return to his town he resolved to protect the city with walls in order to prevent similar accidents. In this he was assisted by the inhabitants and the King, and he was enabled to build a wall of twelve feet high and eight feet thick, strongly resembling, it is said, the walls of Avignon. This wall measured about a mile and three quarters in circuit, and was surrounded with a ditch{294} of more than twenty yards in breadth. There were said to be seven gates in these walls, and seventeen round towers, and effigies of men cut in stone to represent watchers. All these works were completed in the fourteenth century.

A description of Durham would hardly be complete without some reference to St. Cuthbert, to whom the See owes its origin. He was originally a cowherd, but believing that he had a calling for holy orders he left his sheep in the wilderness and soon obtained admission. His piety and austere life at once marked him out for high office, and he ultimately became Bishop of Lindisfarne. This office was no sinecure in his day, and it required all the efforts of the ecclesiastics and their see to preserve any of their property from the ravages of the Danish invasions, which seem to have occurred as often as it was supposed there was anything worth plundering, and they could collect sufficient men to plunder, with the necessary ships and arms.

Lindisfarne Island is the part most exposed to any incursions of the Danes, and the ecclesiastics finally grew tired of the wearisome and unequal contest and determined to remove to safer quarters; and after various wanderings, in which they carried with them the body of St. Cuthbert, they finally rested at{295}


Durham. The saint, who during many years retained his flesh and natural appearance, pointed out this spot, and the corpse seemed very angry when they attempted to pass it in quest of any other. This, of course, decided the question finally, and so Durham was originally founded. It would be impossible to find a more magnificent site for a building in England than that which Durham Cathedral occupies. The Wear sweeps round a bluff that is covered with noble trees, and above this rise the three vast towers of the cathedral, all of which are reflected in the still broad water below.

From the churchyard, also, of St. Oswald’s, the view, though striking, is very different. Here the great central tower is the prominent object, supported by the western ones rising in the rear; while another grand view of the building presents itself from Palace Green, a large open space on the north side of the cathedral.

Notwithstanding the enormous advantages that such a building must afford to the landscape of a city, the streets are not very picturesque, and there is an unpleasantly squalid look about nearly all parts of it. From the railway station or the banks of the Wear the views are incomparably grand; but, like Constantinople seen from the Bosphorus, the charm of{296} the city melts away on entering: and for so important a city the hotel accommodation is very inadequate.

Elver Bridge, when Britton published his Picturesque Antiquities of English Cities, must have been one of the most picturesque objects in the kingdom. It was formed of pointed arches finely ribbed underneath, and it supported a pile of gabled houses with tall chimneys and ancient balconies of unsurpassed beauty, and variety of form. The windows were deeply recessed and mullioned, and there were stacks of tall chimneys, square, octagonal, and divided into stages; indeed, if these buildings had been simply taken as examples of mediæval architecture, they would have been extremely valuable, but spreading over a fine roomy old bridge and reflected in the waters below, they formed a picture that was a loss to the nation when it was destroyed.

The view of Durham Castle here given, as the city is entered over the bridge, is very striking. It seems as if it must have been secure from the attacks of any enemy, with such contrivances of offence as were then known, and well suited for the residence of a line of bishops whose weapons of warfare were but too often carnal.

Kepier Hospital stands on the banks of the Wear, and is a delightful resort for the inhabitants of{297} Durham. The gateway here given is easily fixed as to date, from the arms on the keystones of the groining; they are those of two masters of the hospital from the years 1341 to 1345, and this date exactly corresponds with the style of architecture. The remains of the hospital itself are inside the gateway and of much later date. It is occupied as a country inn, and some of the rooms are filled with magnificent oak carvings.

Image unavailable: DURHAM, FROM WEAR BRIDGE.

Kepier Hospital was endowed with the large sum{298} of £186 per annum, which the bishops of Durham had given it out of the plenitude of their riches, and a list of the offices of the thirteen brethren will throw some light upon the singular requirements of the age. Six of these were to be chaplains; the seventh brother was to be dispenser and larderer; the eighth was keeper of the tannery; ninth the baker; tenth the miller; eleventh the gauger; twelfth the keeper of stock; and the thirteenth general proctor for all business of the hospital.


We notice in Carlisle, as in all these northern cities, the same indications of an age of turmoil. What few houses are left appear to have been built{299}

Image unavailable: BUTTRESS, CARLISLE.

to resist some sudden violence, and tell the bygone tale of insecurity. For nearly two centuries Carlisle lay in ruins from the ravages of the Danes, and it was only restored in the time of William Rufus. He planted a colony of Flemings there—their type of feature is still to be noticed among the inhabitants—and he encouraged an immigration of husbandmen from the south. The singular way in which a type of feature is preserved from generation to generation is certainly exhibited in Chester, in the Roman character of many of the features of the country people near the city. This has never been noticed, as far as I know, and it was only in looking over a collection of Roman coins that it occurred to me. These characteristics are especially to be noticed in the coins of Hadrian, or Claudius, or Agricola—a full neck, a Roman nose, and strongly marked features; indeed, nobody can go through the Chester market on a Saturday, and observe the various types of feature, without being{300} struck with these peculiarities in the Cheshire women.

The old houses at Hexham which are engraved at the end of the chapter, are extremely characteristic of the older northern towns, where cut stone is more in vogue than “post and petrel.”

Image unavailable: OLD HOUSES, HEXHAM.


Image unavailable: CASTLE SQUARE, LANCASTER.



THERE are some curious memoranda in a work called the “Moore Rental,” that will throw much light upon the way in which streets were built, and the license allowed to tenants. Sir Edward Moore owned a large property on the north side of Liverpool,{302} and this was sold to the Earl of Derby for the small sum of £12,000. The annual rental is many times that sum in the present day. The date of the “Rental” is 1667, and it is marked by singular candour and simplicity. Extracts only can be given. It is addressed to his son:

Old Hall Street.—Make your leases according to my new leases in Moore Street, without boons, otherwise they will not build. Be careful of the clause to grind at your mill, it is a great thing to your estate, and see your tenants observe it well.

“Take this notice from me, what you expect your tenants to do let them be well bound in their leases, otherwise riches and pride is so predominant over them in this town, together with a perfect antipathy they have against all gentlemen—much more your family, in regard you know your interest is always to curb them. I know this by experience, that they are the most perfidious knaves to their landlords in all England, therefore I charge you never to trust them.

Water Street.—Anne Young. She is dead, and her grandchild enjoys the house, whose father, by name Baly March, is a notorious knave, and her husband, one Rob Prenton, as bad, etc.

“Mrs. Baly Owen. She hath besides this house{303} two houses more, one in Chapel Street and the other in Moore Street. You must never expect anything to the value of a farthing from her, but what is for her own ends.

Castle Street.—Mr. William Bushell. Remember the west end of the back side belonging to this house in the Castle Street reaches to the Fenwick Street near the bridge, upon which Mr. Bushell is to build a good house of stone, answering to the length for height and other things, as doors, boarded floors, windows, and slates, sample to his own house near the post and chains, wherein now Captain Nixon doth dwell.

Pool Lane.—Buy if possible Baly Blundell’s, and the field betwixt it and the More Street. If you have it you might pull down your house Mr. Allcocke built me on the Castle Hill, and there have a brave coming of the street end out toward the castle, and you might pull down the west end of Thomas Norbury’s in the More Street, and so make a most convenient passage to More Street. This field is most convenient to you of any man in England, in regard of your land lying about as it doth.”

He further advises his son and heir to keep “Castle Street field” locked up, as it is only “a passage on sufferance;” and he says he was “at the{304} great charge of setting posts and ribbing them all over with iron, and fixing these two great iron chains, the which I usually on all occasions keep locked,” etc. The cause of this, he says, was that Captain Fazakerly of the Castle had many hundred loads of coals brought that way, and he was resolved to prevent his making it a highway; and he very candidly adds—“Have in mind likewise that these chains and posts usually upon Sundays and holidays, and rain weather; keeping them locked reserves the right in those streets solely and entire to you and your heirs, so that a hundred years hence, if you please, you may make gates, or what other use you please, as usually you do your own enclosed land, and to hinder all but whom you please from going thereaways. The reason I am so strict is two, the first that carts may not always break the streets to the great charge of my tenants, but those that carts, make them pay yearly towards paving them, as many places in England doth, nay this very town of Leverpole, by a late order, makes all country carts pay twopence a load towards paving the streets, and if they can make such an order of the king’s highway, I hope I may either make such carts who come thereaway pay, or make them go some other way.” Sir Edward then tells his heir that he must be very particular{305} in dealing with his streets in all transactions with the town of Liverpool. The thoroughfares are his, he says, yet he sadly remarks that all the streets but his are “paved out of the town’s box.” Perhaps Sir Edward was not quite so affable as he might have been, and hardly of such a conciliatory nature as even his own interests would have suggested. Little love seems to have been lost between him and the townspeople, and there is at least no uncertainty in the way he apprises his son of this circumstance. “I find, in whatsoever lies within the town’s liberty, they are a thousand times more strict than any gentleman; and forthwith a jury of hot fellows fines you daily and hourly, either for some encroachment, the streets being dirty or not paved, and a hundred odd simple things more than I can relate here. But keeping your own interest as before expressed, you need not fear their fines or amercements. There is no favour or civility to be had from a multitude. Let my sad experience forewarn you never to trust them, for if you do, I dare pawn my life they deceive you. Read Alderman Andow’s character, and some others I have set down, and then seriously consider it.”

The tenures on which property was built and held are curiously set forth in these strange directions. The term “setting” a house, which continually{306} occurs in the Moore rental, is quite in common use in the northern parts of England, where indeed it is more frequent than “letting” a house.

Much discussion must often have followed the amount of fine which a tenant had to pay when the three lives and twenty-one years his property was held on had expired, and on this point Sir Edward Moore is always lucid. Even where, as in few cases, he had a good word for the tenant, he never forgets the fine, as:—“William Gardiner, bailiff, a very honest man. He paid no rent, only built the house; it is a very good house. Let the old rent be raised to 40 shillings per annum, and the fine to £60.”

Again: “Thomas Wainwright, a very honest man. He paid no fine, only built his house. Let the old rent be raised to two pounds and fifty pounds fine at the least.”

In the case of John Pemberton, which is interesting as showing the terms on which property was often built along a street, Sir Edward is hardly in reason. It seems one John Pemberton had commenced the building of one side of a street, with a common but tacit understanding that all houses were to be carried up to the same height as his own, and as his house was at the upper end of More Street, the sagacious landlord saw at once that the houses{307} on the lower part of the street would be six storeys high, and when these fell out of lease, the amount of fine for renewal might fairly be left to him. Two storeys was all that Pemberton required, and he refused to build higher. But Sir Edward tells his own tale best. “John Pemberton, the apothecary, a base ill-contrived fellow. This man wronged this street five hundred pounds, for he being the first house on this side going up, all the rest of the street engaged to build uniform with him, so that had he built four stories, all the street had been so, and the houses toward the lower end of the street had been six stories high to have made them level with his of four stories, in regard of the fall of the ground. I used all the civil means possible to get him to build higher, and when I saw he would not, I sent Alderman Andow and the town-clerk, Mr. John Winstanley, to let him know that as we had always been friends, I desired the same continuance, and if he would not build it two stories higher, I would, all of my own cost and charge.” He seems, however, to have had at times some kind of slight fellow-feeling. Thus, in speaking of Mr. John Owen, bailiff, he says among other directions, that he is under rented, and he tells his son to see to it, that there must be a fine of £30. His consideration for{308} the family of Robert Johnson is something touching. As far as Mr. Johnson is concerned, he dismisses him with a character readily, and says he is “an arrant knave, one that grinds from my mill very often; trust him not, make him pay one pound a year rent, and ten pounds fine, for he is but a poor knave, and mercy must be had on his children; only, for being such a knave make him to slate his house, as all the street is besides himself.”

Sir Edward takes great pride in his well that he has dug in More Street, which he gravely tells his son brews as much ale out of four measures of malt as any other out of five measures, and there is no well like it for boiling pease and bearing soap.

“Mrs. Rose, now married to one Diggler, a glazier,” seems with her husband to have been very much in Sir Edward’s black books. They were “extreme unthankful to me, and abused me much behind my back, therefore never let him glaze for you, and if ever he have occasion to use you, deal with him accordingly.... I got him much custom, and she out of my own good will I paid six pounds for a gable end, when she had neither money nor credit to have built it, and ill words is all I got for my pains. But God reward them. Make them pay thirty shillings rent, and thirty pounds fine at least.{309} Hens, two.” And so he runs through the roll of his tenantry, till one is startled to find one Thomas Narbury, “a very honest man, and built a good house; and is so well pleased with his landlord that he intends to lay out £250 more under me in building.” Richard Bushell also, and his wife, are “very honest people; use them well. Make the old rent 40s. a year, and whereas it deserves a hundred pounds fine, bate them fifty pounds for their honesty to their landlord.” Of Robert Woodside also he says, “he is a good honest man, of a Scot;” but relapses at once into more accustomed phraseology when speaking of his wife, who is, he says, “as ungratefull a beast as is in England.” It would be interesting to hear the accounts the tenantry gave of their landlord, but such have not been preserved.


Bank Hall at Warrington, was built shortly after this summary was sent to Sir Edward’s heir. It is a fine example of the best Queen Anne’s style, and{310}

Image unavailable: OLD ROW IN MANCHESTER.

is now turned into public offices. The gardens and grounds are still intact, but smoky tall chimneys envelope them on every side, and it is probably in the transition state. Indeed, before very long a street will pass its noble entrance, and people will remember that “it once stood in its own grounds, and the street you are walking in was a geranium bed thirty years ago.” Murray in his guide-book speaks of Lancashire as a county abounding in ancient black-and-white houses, and places it at the head of all others. Cheshire, however, must have many more, and of course, as far as the towns are concerned, there can be no comparison in antique relics. There are in Lancashire now twelve boroughs, with mayors and corporations, and though Lancaster is rather picturesque, it may be fairly said that the character of these corporate towns is dreariness. We look in vain for some pleasant{311}

Image unavailable: OLD MARKET, WARRINGTON.

street scene. Chimneys and smoke are the characteristics of all. Round Manchester there used to be, and perhaps are yet, some few homesteads of interest, but the majority of them are swept away. Speke Hall, near Liverpool, is quite an exceptionally fine building, but though it was for long a farm-house, and cattle were in rooms that adorn Nash’s Mansions, it is now again made into a residence. There is an old black-and-white house at Kenyon, formerly the residence of the Lord Chief-Justice Kenyon, but now empty; and perhaps, excepting another at Newton{312} Junction, that must be familiar to all travellers between Manchester and Liverpool, there is nothing that can be regarded as very interesting.

The Isle of Man stands so near Lancashire that it is often called a part of it, though indeed it is under a rule different from the rest of England, and does not return a member to Parliament, which of course, gives it the privilege of ruling its own finances. It has a Parliament of its own, and on the 5th of July, the acts they have passed are publicly read out on Tynwald Hill, about three miles to the east of Peel.

Castleton is the seat of the governor of this singular island, and derives its name from an old fortress called Castle Rushen, which stands in the middle of the town, and is said, though with uncertain accuracy, to have been built by a Danish chief in the tenth century. Peel is a small seaport, and formerly was of much more importance than it now is. On a sort of small rocky island here is situated the celebrated Peel Castle that Scott has alluded to in his novel of “Peveril of the Peak,” a novel which has been of some little service in the present work, from the exceeding care and accuracy of its topographical detail.

In concluding the present series of sketches of our ancient cities and homesteads, one is met by the question—Is it not possible in future buildings to{313} adopt more of the old spirit, and relieve our streets from monotony? In reply to which it may readily be answered, that it is not only possible, but it would add greatly to the convenience and mercantile value of a street if such a course were adopted.

The dreary rows of square-headed windows at even distances in long brick walls govern the rooms inside, and imperatively domineer over the convenience of the arrangement. A French writer, speaking of the palace of Versailles, at the time it was built, and regretting that a style had been adopted which demanded this precisely even fenestration, said that it caused a footman’s pantry to be lit by a huge window which had perforce to correspond with a row in a drawing-room on the same front, and perhaps had to be cut in two by a partition, to let the other half do duty for another minor apartment.

On the ground of economy and fitness alone our humbler streets call aloud for improvement; and if it is said that England is now a nation of shopkeepers, it must be remembered that Venice was too, and that in the days of its greatest architectural grandeur.

Indeed, when she began to decay, her arts declined too. Mr. Beresford Hope, in some admirable remarks delivered at the Town Hall, Hanley,{314} said “he wished to show them that the world’s debt to art was one in which they all had a share. It was a joint-stock company, in which every man, woman, and child, had a share, which he or she might pay up with a perfect certainty of ample return. By art he meant the science of beauty in material things,—that art which was something for the artist and something for the people themselves—which stood in no need of being separated from the everyday wear and bustle of common life—which had to do with buying and selling, with marrying and giving in marriage, with lying down and getting up, with buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market, with all the wear and tear of everyday life,—instead of being something separate from this. Art is beauty, but it is also economy and appropriateness. Art is the faculty of being able with the greatest economy of material, of colour, and invention, to be able to produce the brightest effects.”

“In Kent,” he further on says, “there is a traditionary way of building chimneys, by a simple variation in the management of common bricks, but the effects produced are most picturesque; any common labourer could do it, but it is true art.” Mr. Hope then takes a row of houses in Birmingham, or Manchester, or Bradford. They were so{315} many houses put up—no outline or skyline,—“The same dread, dreary, uniform, colourless square block, the same square doors, brass knockers and door plates, the same sash windows, the same stone slab under the windows, the same chimneys, and when they went inside, the same rhubarb-coloured oilcloth on the passage, the same rooms with the same paper on the walls, and the same chimney-piece.” This is truly and well said. It is almost impossible to feel otherwise than weary and dull on the brightest summer’s day in Liverpool. Architectural dreariness is carried to the highest pitch of which it is capable in this town, though some parts of Birkenhead rival it. Now, as has been already remarked, Chester is not only a delightful city to walk in, a city which it is a pleasure to have any business to transact in, but its arrangement and the unstudied variety of its houses make it serviceable and economical. The shifting, broken skyline, and the gables of the houses projecting as it were in amicable rivalry into the street, are always pleasant and cheerful to behold. If it is asked whether such a style of building would seriously be recommended in a practical point of view, I would say again and again it should. The Chester architects have quite adopted the indigenous style, and, to do them justice,{316}


they have adapted it too. There is no lack of convenience in their recent erections. The buildings which have an exterior made to fit them are quite as likely to be convenient and serviceable as those which are made to fit a dreary square exterior; and as for utility and popular appreciation, a test is ready. Build one street in the square style Mr. Hope has so graphically described, and another in picturesque outline, and see which brings in the best return for the money, supposing of course all other things are equal, such as site and accommodation; the{317} pleasant architectural appearance and expression of the one street will always leave the other in the distance.

And this word “expression” is a very significant one, and a useful one too. The parts of a building may not be individually beautiful, and yet there may be a good “expression” in it. The details of Charles I.’s style are often grotesquely bad when viewed in piecemeal, and yet we recognise a good expression in the building of that period as we enter some old town. Early English foliage is extremely stiff, and taken by itself ludicrous, as far as any imitation of nature, which it is supposed to be intended to represent, is concerned; and yet who can be insensible to the general result? The capitals throw a fine shade on the turrets in the sunshine when there are angular shafts, and the tall slender columns (clustered perhaps), though they may have no feature that can be singled out as excellent, are very fine in general effect. Expression may therefore exist independently of detail, as beautiful detail may be lavished over a façade, and lost. To bring the comparison, as has been done, to the human countenance, a building may be

“Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null,
Dead perfection, no more;”


and yet another may be pleasant, and bright without such advantages as these. We have often seen, to continue the simile of a human countenance, a face that has nothing regular or perfect about it, yet the features seemed in harmony, and there was a pleasant expression. Of course nothing here can apply to the grotesque designs in bosses and gurgoyles that so often appear in our buildings after the thirteenth century; they are inexpressibly tedious and useless, and never under any circumstances have they the slightest relevance or interest. They may be sometimes of trifling local curiosity, as illustrating some scandal or abuse that was in vogue at the time of their cutting, but even at that they are very dreary and out of place. Of course any one who tries to imitate them now in an ecclesiastical building is quite out of court, and the only excuse he can plead is that he has not skill to design anything better.

Expression in buildings cannot always be carried out to the extent of showing from their external appearance what they are, though some indication is possible under any circumstances. A general fitness may be shown, and that is enough. There is a costly bank in Montreal, where in a moment of inspiration the architect has conceived the idea of{319} overturning cornucopias and allowing sovereigns of stone to appear as though they were falling into the street. If this is at all typical of the mode in which the business is conducted, a change of managers would be a rather palpable advantage to the shareholders. There is a bank at Altringham, built for Messrs. Cunliffe, Brooks, and Co., in the “post and petrel style” so common in Cheshire, and although there is no such demonstrative ornament about it as this, it is clearly a public building of some importance, and is certainly one of the best specimens of revival that have ever been produced in England.

Vitruvius specifies seven qualities on which the Greeks insisted—solidity, convenience, order, disposition, proportion, decorum, economy; but Barry is able to reduce these to three—permanence, convenience, and beauty, as he stated in a very interesting lecture to the Royal Academy; and it is not too much to say that the requirements of Vitruvius will be found to arrange themselves under these three heads.

Now, the typical architecture of the day, for example the Crystal Palace, can scarcely be called permanent. It may and probably will last for generations with very ordinary care, but “its root is ever in its grave.” Of course permanence is only{320} a part of architecture. Dock gates or granite entrances to warehouses may easily possess all that, and show it too, but yet be sadly deficient in other qualities necessary for successful architecture. In engineering buildings there must be a nice calculation of strength. The materials, such as iron rods, and nuts, and screws, are costly, and if increased beyond necessity do not add to the strength of the fabric. A light iron truss spanning fifty feet might be able to bear enormous weights, while an iron scantling containing four times the amount of metal would break from its own weight; but in stone buildings there is no such reserve. The engineer who constructs a roof or shed too strongly, or he whose building is wanting in strength, are both deficient in skill. Stone, however, needs no such caution. It may be used so as to possess, and appear to possess, a surplussage of strength, and yet not seem excessive, and the same may fairly be claimed for brick and oak. The ends of beams that show their massive proportions to the street, and support an overhanging storey of some black-and-white building, proclaim their strength and sufficiency, and cannot appear excessive or overdone, from the nature of their material, which is so plentiful. Convenience more particularly applies to the interior of a building, and{321} refers to the arrangement and size of the rooms. A properly proportioned room should neither be too low nor too high, though sometimes the latter is overlooked; especially in modern terrace houses, where a well-like appearance is given to a room of ordinary dimensions by too great height. Singularly enough, however, it is a fact that a well-contrived house may always be said to afford greater facilities for a good exterior than an ill-contrived one; the fitness inside shows itself in the exterior. And as to beauty, it is hard indeed if, when the building is successful in these two other requirements, the third does not follow. The same exterior may of course be ornamented in many ways, and may have either a Gothic or classic coat, or be left alone; but when once the necessary outline is secured decoration is simple. One great charm of old houses is that they do not conceal either their roofs or chimneys. Modern ones are apt to be shy of letting them appear, and contrive by parapets and other devices to hide them.

A staircase at the end of this chapter illustrates the comfortable easy landings and flights that characterise old house architecture, even when on an unpretending scale. The date is about 1600, and the comfort of ascent is far beyond any staircases{322} that we should expect to find in a moderately-sized house in the present day.

An architect of some eminence, in reading a paper on Gloucester Cathedral, said (a few years ago), “I raise my voice against what I consider cankers in modern architecture, where art is so far forgotten in the desire of the architect to obtain for his works a so-called individuality. This individuality is enticing to very young men, who are attracted by the eccentricities of old buildings, or the architect who imports them, for nearly all modern individuality arises from too strongly emphasising and repeating ad nauseam some odd bit picked up in foreign travel. It so happens that many architects have no faith in good sound building, they have no trust in the grandeur of stability, they have no love for simplicity, no appreciation for breadth of treatment: they go in for quaintness.” So far as this is intelligible, it means to say that a broad row of houses without individuality is preferable to one where the individual tastes and requirements of the owner are conspicuous. The same writer proceeds to object to the early capitals that distinguish the Gothic of the twelfth century when clustered round a column, and, as he says, “wrap it round a shaft nearly as big as an Irish round tower.” He objects{323} also to the “dog-tooth” and the undercut capitals that often appear in such profusion in France, and which he compares to “exaggerated sticks of rhubarb,” and warns his junior hearers against ornamenting spires with crockets like Salisbury, which he says in that building can only be called a “positive mania” on the part of the architect, and he proclaims loudly against the enrichments in Hereford and Gloucester. Regarding the latter, he says that a contemporaneous monk grumbled at the expense, and recorded his objections in some record that remains. Whether the monk who regretted the waste was the one that carried the bag or not seems not to be very clear; but in a word, the criticisms are quite unjust. And as for Salisbury, though some may consider that the spire is too thin, there can be no exception taken to its beautiful enrichments. The monk who is quoted with approval seems to have said that as much was spent in ornamenting the church as would have built another. Quite so; indeed the cost of any cathedral would build not one more but many, quite a colony of meeting-houses with 9-inch brick walls. “The basest beggars,” says Lear, “are in the poorest thing superfluous.” This paper is by a well-known architect, and was published some few years ago{324} in the Building News, or else it would not be noticed.

The question continually must recur, what means the designers of old used to secure such almost universally satisfactory effects. It is clear that in many instances they worked from drawings. These are in some cases extant, but they must also have had many opportunities of testing the effect of their work from various points of view, and altering and amending as they proceeded. Many a carefully studied design that looks perfect on paper is a sad disappointment when executed. The chimney that stood so boldly forward is choked in the perspective as we look up. Perhaps, indeed, it disappears entirely from the view, and the gables have a more apoplectic appearance than we had fondly hoped, and little by little the day-dreams of the architect vanish.

The designers of old seemed to be free from such vexations, for though it would be saying too much to pretend that they never made mistakes, or that all they did is excellent, we must freely admit that our productions are less satisfactory than theirs.

It is by no means, however, a very easy task to point out wherein the secret of the difference lies, nor to say why old builders almost universally were guided to forms of beauty. Long and energetically{325} the question was debated of whether some ancient code of rules that once regulated their operations has been lost,—recipes, as it were, to trust themselves to when they went to their work,—and indeed, some twenty years ago, a chapter in the Archæological Journal gave precise directions for the proportions of a pinnacle, found, as it was said, in some old monastic archives; but both sides were agreed that when worked out it was exceedingly shapeless and ugly. Every probability points in the other direction. The versatility of design, the adaptation to site, and the way in which a necessity of construction is often converted into a beauty, indicate individual taste and ingenuity. Again, there was no distinction between the office of architect and builder, as the following extract from an old agreement for building a chapel to St. Mary’s Church, Chester, illustrates:—“This indenture, made by twene William Troutbeck Esquire, on that p’tie, and Thomas Betes, mason, on that other p’tie, bares witnesse that the aforesaid Thomas has made covenant and granted to the said William that he shall make a chapell in the chirche yarde of Ste. Marie on the Hill, on the south side of the Chancell of the said Chirche there, that is to wete, the est ende, the south side,{326} and the west ende, contayning the lengthe of the chauncell there, and xviii. fete wide withinne the walls, and as high as hit nedes resonably to be: with v. faire and clenely wroght windows full of light, that is to say, one gable window at the est ende with iiij. lights, iij. windowes on the south side, ich one of iij. lights, and on the west ende in the best way to be deviset; and iiij. botras on the south side, with a grete arche in the west ende; and the chapelle to be battlet above like to the little closet withinne the Castell of Chester, with a corbyl table longyng thereto; and at ayther end iij. honest fynials. And the said William shall pay the said Thomas xxli. like as the worke goes forwarde, and also give him a gowne. And also the said William shall find fre-stone, lyme, sond, watr, windelasse, and stuff for to scaffold with, and such manere necessaries as the foresaid Thomas nedes; and the foresaid Thomas shall, by ov’sight of Maester John Asser, make the chapell and all things that longen thereto (masoncraft) honestly.”[10]

There is almost a touching simplicity and confidence about this contract. All about the walls, with reference to the height they were to be carried,{327} is that they must be as high as it “nedes resonably to be;” and the windows are not apparently to be encumbered with more tracery than the mason cares to give,—the “v.” of them were to be “faire and clenely wroght.” What a hopeless task an architect, or clerk of the works, as “Maester John Asser” seems to have been, would now have with such a specification in settling up a builder’s “extra account”! Yet it nowhere appears that the work was slighted. On the contrary, though this chapel is no more, there is abundant evidence that it was a noble piece of work. The contract is introduced here to show how completely the present state of things differs from that of the fifteenth century, when the chapel in question was built. Not that it would be possible or desirable in the nineteenth century to bring back such agreements; but it is evident from the specification that the artificers were a very superior set of men to those who now erect our buildings. The beautiful crockets and bosses that ornament ancient cathedrals were cut as the work proceeded by the mason whose place on the building they happened to fall to, and though they are now models of excellence, the great probability is they were cut without drawings to guide the workmen. One inestimable advantage{328} in the kind of contract quoted is that, when such men as it may be supposed Betes and Asser were, were concerned, the “resonableness” of the height of the chancel or the “fairness” of the tracery could be judged of as the building proceeded. The picturesqueness of the sky-line, or the relative proportions of any part to the surroundings could be determined while the building progressed. Nor does this require a great amount of natural talent. If beauty in architecture had been encouraged during the last two centuries, instead of being frowned down, we should still have the class of men who were competent. Of course, as before remarked, it would be impossible, in the present nature of things, to re-introduce such a style of contract as that quoted; but one thing we can do,—we can try to arrive at some of the principles of design that influenced the old workmen. There is no code of rules, and to try to design with their pencils will be to many architects of the present day as hopeless a task as to write with Shakespeare’s pen; but if, beyond all other considerations, whether for town or country, the grand principle of picturesqueness is kept in view, the end will be surely gained. By picturesqueness is meant the contrasting of various simple{329} forms in such a way as to be pleasing to the eye. It runs through all our intellectual life in every thing we do. A barrister may be ever so learned and industrious, and even in earnest, but if he lacks an appreciation of the picturesque he will fight at great odds with another who, with less application and perhaps a worse case, can arrange his facts—sometimes, alas! even his theories—in a pleasing form. This is well understood and successfully cultivated at the Bar, but in the Church it is sadly wanting, and so the most learned addresses from the pulpit are too often bald.

In another essay read by the architect whose paper was quoted from, an essay also which appeared in the Building News of the same year, that gentleman describes the picturesque as “anything which may be likened to a ‘pig with one ear’—an ancient similitude much admired by the scientific, and often used by them with great force and brilliancy. It is unfortunate, but none the less true, that a very large majority of those who follow after Gothic art, both as students and admirers, have somehow or other been led into the belief that the first principle, the essence of the soul of Gothic, is irregularity. These are the men who stick chimneys in odd corners where they are sure to smoke,{330} put dormers on roofs where they are not wanted, throw out large oriels to small bath-rooms, and corbel out balconies to housemaids’ closets.” This is a heavy calendar indeed against the “very large majority” of the profession, but I rejoice to think it is not just. Nearly every one now understands that picturesqueness has nothing to do with irregularity, i.e. irregularity for itself; and as for an architect who could throw out a large oriel to a small bath-room, unless the proprietor spent a long time there, and especially ordered it, his occupation would soon go. So far from having an impression that picturesqueness and irregularity are synonymous, most architects admit the necessity of repose in their works. Take the nave of a Gothic church, with its row of windows; nobody now would say that it gained by having each window different. In the best examples regularity of form is observed; it is in such feeble late works as Merton College Chapel that the reverse prevails. In great Gothic buildings, especially on the Continent, the whole mass seems one mountain of confusion, and it is only when we examine it minutely, and carry down each feature to its starting-point, that we find the order which prevails. Just as in a peal of bells from a church-tower, the first impression they are apt to convey is{331} that each ringer is pulling away promiscuously, the only condition being that they shall manage to pull only a single bell at a time; but they are, on the contrary, following a perfectly regular scale, contrived with profound order and symmetry.

Of course, unless an architect is also partly an artist he cannot be successful; no amount of learning can compensate for this. The two best expositors we ever had of Gothic architecture, Rickman and Britton, were indifferent architects. Perhaps they may be said to have known more than all who went before them or followed after; and both of them were endowed with a thorough love for their profession. There may be something to urge that they were not brought up to it, one being in a mercantile office in Liverpool, and the other a wine-bottler in London. Rickman had a number of opportunities of testing his architectural skill, but they are all dreary, and showed that his hand could not put into practice the principles of the architecture he understood and loved so well. Britton had fewer chances, and was even less successful with his few.

Perhaps it might be well to try to answer the question, “What would be the best way to improve the architecture of the most dreary of all classes of{332} buildings, the humbler houses of the middle classes, the houses that are let for about £40 or £50 per annum?” and the best way to answer it is to suppose a case in which the conditions would be the most favourable. Suppose, for example, there were to be a number of gentlemen who were each prepared to spend £800 in a row of houses for their own residences. Well, let them all agree upon an artistic architect, and let them each arrange their own plans to suit their own convenience. This would give the architect not only data, but ideas to work upon. Well, let him then take all these plans, and fit to them an elevation which shall be as broad and uniform as the convenience admits. There will still be plenty of variety, the various requirements of the builders will secure that, or enable the architect to employ it. The Vicar’s Close at Wells, or the collegiate buildings in Oxford or Ely, would afford any number of examples of what he required. In one of the excellent Manuals published for the use of amateur artists by Winsor and Newton, the author has divided his subject into Atmosphere, Keeping, Contrast, and Variety, which, if rightly understood, is only another way of expressing the requirements of Barry in the former part of this chapter. A quotation from this Manual, though it{333} relates to sketching in colour, may be as useful to an architect as to an artist. “First learn how to produce certain effects, and you will not then find it difficult to store them in your memory for use as you require them; you are learning nothing new in the art of painting—thousands have gone through this process before you; you are only seeking to chronicle your own experience. The scenes you commit to paper have, and will have, a peculiar charm for you, and perhaps to your friends if you represent them faithfully. They may be new scenes, but they are not seen under new effects. These have been already witnessed again and again; you yourself have seen the same effect produced in former pictures; but the charm lies in producing them yourself from nature. Aim then at facility in producing these effects in general, and you will easily apply and vary that knowledge as you require it. Aim at acquiring a kind of grammar of effect, just as in reading music, the habitué recognises a certain set of notes from their frequent recurrence, and which is even called by musical people a phrase, alluding to the similar recurrence of words in the composition of a sentence. It is knowledge that leads to decision, which is the secret of rapidity.”[11]

{334} Of course, with an architect rapidity is not necessary, it only pertains to a sketcher in water-colours, whose materials dry up rapidly. A hundred lessons in architecture may be gained every time that we walk along a pleasant lane, and the village with a cheerful row of cottages grown over with creepers, and showing tall chimneys, is full of suggestions in light and shade and composition. In all importations of foreign architecture—and it is not pretended that there should be none—the first thing to consider is its fitness for the climate and surroundings. Dol, Morlaix, and other towns in the north of France, contain many suggestions for city architecture. Our own cathedrals and great churches were meant to stand alone, and can only be seen at some distance; the churches on the Continent were often designed for the effect they would have in a crowded town; but here again, the old chronic error has to be met, that Gothic buildings suit country scenes the best, and Classic a town, whereas the only place where a classic building can be employed, except by a man of absolute genius, is in the country among heavy foliage.

There is nothing so bald or unsatisfactory as a Grecian building, such as has been erected in England since the so-called “revival” of Classic{335} architecture. The cold Doric façades, or Ionic as the case may be, give one a sensation of intense dreariness. The stuccoed front of a conventicle strictly copied from the Parthenon, or more probably from the Gate of the Agora, is a thing to wonder at; and too often we form our ideas of Grecian art from modern revivals. Surely we might have expected that the principal seat of classic learning in England might boast of a proper Greek building, if the Professor of Architecture to the Royal Academy, who had made Greek design the study of his life, were employed; but no one can contemplate the Taylor and Randolph Institution at Oxford without feeling humiliated at the idea that it was erected under such circumstances. The Acropolis at Athens is an abrupt hill with a flat surface of perhaps ten acres on the top. The Eastern aspect rises in a kind of bluff, and is crowned by the Parthenon and the Propylæa. The Parthenon was an oblong temple surrounded by forty-six vast marble columns. These seen from below give at once the idea of lightness and strength, and it exhibits in the most perfect form the “entasis” or swelling that a cylinder requires; this alone would show the true eye for form of the ancient Greek architect. The Erechtheum is a vast building on the{336} northern side of the Acropolis; and, according to Pausanias, the table-land of the Acropolis was absolutely crowded with works of art; indeed at the present time there are remains at every stride. Lamartine, in his Voyage en Orient, gives a vivid description of the impression the ruins of Athens made upon him, and concludes his rhapsody with reflections, of which the following is a translation:—“When again shall we find such a people and such an epoch? Nothing announces their coming. The Propylæa and the Temple of Erechtheus, or of the Caryatides, stand at the side of the Parthenon—masterpieces in themselves, but lost in the proximity of a grander masterpiece. The soul, overpowered by the sight of the latter, has no longer any power to admire the others—one must gaze and then depart!—lamenting not so much the devastation of this glorious handiwork of man, as the impossibility that man should ever equal its sublimity and harmony.” Chateaubriand eulogises Athens in a similar strain, and neither of them say one word too much perhaps; but let us fairly ask ourselves what we admire so in the classic architecture of Greece. I would say without hesitation that we fail to see the real excellence but too often. A Greek temple transported into England, yes the Parthenon itself, is{337} barbarous and hideous. We pass it by as we would Demosthenes on a doorstep inveighing against Philip, relieved to be out of the way. There is no mysterious beauty in a column six or eight diameters high—a ruler is often of the same proportions, and we do not become enthusiastic over it; yet, so much are we influenced by prejudice, that the rude colouring of the Greek temples which the Turks plastered over the buildings they occupied during the seventeenth century, is supposed to be correct taste. Even yet it is commonly, very commonly, believed, that the colouring belongs to the Greek period, and the plaints of even so great an authority as Stuart are touching. I was astonished to find in his preface to the careful volume on Athens, the following:—“Yet there is one circumstance of comparatively recent discovery, and still more recently ascertained to its full extent, which gives a strange contradiction to our cherished notions concerning the purity of Grecian taste, and its antipathy to all coarseness and exaggeration. It should seem that the Greeks painted their temples, not merely in chiaroscuro, or in subdued tints, for the purpose of giving relief to projections or expressiveness to ornamental details, but with glaring colours,—reds, blues, and yellows, with violent contrasts; the{338} columns one hue, and the entablature another. Nay,” he says, “there is shrewd suspicion that the sculptures were painted like the figure-head of a man-of-war, and that the pillars were striped, and unluckily the evidences of these incredibilities is most exasperatingly clear; the statements of the German architects employed by King Otho leave no doubt whatever,” etc. etc.; and I once saw a devout student of Greek art poring over one of those revived temples—the columns and entablature a bright coffee colour, and the triglyphs blue—trying to admire it; he humbly thought he must be wrong, and the Greeks must be right.’ Why, the Turks did all this during their possession. The colours here indicated would be about the Turkman’s idea of correct taste, savouring of the bazaar and booth. They trailed their cannon up the Propylæa, and broke down the carved work thereof with axes and hammers, and soon they set up their banners for tokens. Mnesthenes never coloured the Erechtheum, or Pausanias would have said so in the account of his ramble over it; and Phidias and Praxiteles may fairly be left alone—they never daubed the Parthenon with ochre. The architecture of the Acropolis, great as it is in its own merits, requires a Greek eye and Greek modes of thought to understand thoroughly and to{339} appreciate. Its great and grand idea is calm and dignified repose. It is the repose of the Sphynx or an Egyptian pyramid refined into beauty; and among the rocks of Attica, which are rugged and rough, a Gothic building, such as Strasbourg or Cologne, would be out of place; the crockets and pinnacles would be dwarfed by the igneous rocks that are about, and the Greek well knew how a calm flat surface would harmonise and contrast with the country round.

Modern discoveries by Michaelis regarding the statue of Minerva would show that it was of stupendous dimensions, and covered with ivory and gold; the light coming from above, and relieving it from the dark shades of the portico behind.

We have nothing now to compare this with, or anything indeed to enable us to form a comparison by. The effect must not only have been striking, but in the refraction of light in the latitude of Athens, conditions would exist that differ essentially from any we could reproduce here.

The architecture of England is essentially its own, it is capable of adaptation to every known requirement, and many more.

Leaving fortifications and cathedrals on one side as exceptional, there is often a great wealth of{340} beauty in the most unpretending domestic buildings, that would lighten up a street or landscape, and if imitated would prove attractive to a tenant.


Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh.


[1] Woody.

[2] See page 45.

[3] See page 169.

[4] Thorpe’s name is not mentioned in Britton’s list of old architects, though Vertue and Hylmer, who were almost contemporaneous, are found in it.

[5] The rectory stands on the banks of the Thames, and is a very noble residence.

[6] Paper read by the Rev. E. Trollope, F.S.A., before the Leicestershire Architectural and Archæological Society, and republished in the Building News, February 5, 1864.

[7] Lysons. Macaulay. Collins’ series.

[8] The Grosvenor Bridge in Chester, 200 feet in the clear, is the largest stone span in England, and it will probably remain so, as iron is so very much more economical for a constructive material where great spaces have to be spanned.

[9] The monument to Bishop Fulford, in Montreal Cathedral Yard, is, as nearly as the materials at hand admitted, such a copy, and it is a very excellent imitation of a Waltham Cross.

[10] After standing 230 years the chapel fell down through the stone disintegrating, but the church it was attached to still stands.

[11] Hints for Sketching in Water-Colour from Nature. Winsor and Newton.

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
singular pasages=> singular passages {pg 7}