A tour on the banks of the Thames: from London to Oxford, A & R Walton
THE following sheets were written for the Author's own amusement, without any reference to publication;
which circumstance, however, is not mentioned as any excuse for faults that may be apparent, or for omissions, perhaps too readily to be perceived;
but, on the contrary, in order that the Reader may be aware that the observations therein contained were not lightly or heedlessly thrown together;
for if it be true that self generally engrosses our chief care and solicitude, this will go far to prove,
that any thing done with a view to the gratification of self, will be executed as well as the abilities of the performer will admit.
This avowal is contrary to the one in general use when any work is submitted to the consideration of the public, but it is not the less true.
Neither has the Writer been induced by the solicitation of friends to alter his first resolution, or by them been tempted to give publicity to that which was originally meant for himself; but he has done it of his own mere act and motion and for the following reason; namely, That, though there are many very excellent works on the same subject, they are too bulky and expensive for general use, and are by these means rendered of no utility to those, who, incited by the descriptions therein contained to follow in the same track, and desirous of a guide to instruct them on their way, whom they may consult at all times and in all places, turn with grievous disappointment from the heavy tomes lying before them.
If, then, the present little volume should at all remedy this defect, or tend in the least degree to the instruction, pleasure, or amusement of the reader, all that the Author hopes to accomplish will be effected, and the work not written in vain.
A tour from London to Oxford
THERE are few subjects more frequently treated of than those of one's country; there are few subjects, in a natural point of view,
that are less understood.
Is it travel that will inform?
There are not many who will give themselves that trouble in their own land; but, satisfied that it possesses beauties (which by the bye they never saw) and can afford gratifications they never felt, fly to foreign shores in search of those amusements and pleasures which could more easily have been had, and as certainly as pleasantly, enjoyed at home.
But if any succeed in divesting themselves of the prejudices they may have entertained against wandering o'er their own green isle, they would hardly have had the hardihood to publish an account of such wanderings; for they would be looked upon as doing a very foolish thing, even if their own amusement, or the gratification of a little personal vanity were all that they had in view.
But if it were done to instruct, or in expectation of profit, they would be set down as madmen at once.
Nothing of the sort now goes down: even an Italian tour, once all the rage, is rapidly getting into disrepute, and people need not wonder if the two Americas were shortly to become the favoured spot, where English folly and dandyism were hereafter to hold full sway.
As for myself, I am an old-fashioned fellow, and "Love the green fields of my dear native land"; and to roam therein, or to follow the windings of some one of its many streams, inquiring into the history, and searching out the antiquities, of the towns upon its banks, in the pursuit of which much pleasure is afforded, not to mention the information gained.
With some such view the present tour was undertaken, in company with a friend, (for, according to the Italian proverb, "good company maketh the way seem shorter”,) who, by his excellent companionable qualities, would have made pleasant a walk in a desert, much more so one by the side of the Thames.
The distance from London to Oxford by water is about 115 miles, and along this great extent is presented every description of scenery the mind is capable of desiring, or the eye willing to behold.
It is a well-known fact, that almost every, if not all towns of note, are built on the sea-shore or by some river's side, water being essential, whether for utility or beauty, or both; therefore, on the banks of our rivers may be found all that is most rare in the antiquities of the country, as also the utmost elegance and luxury created and rendered necessary by the march of modern refinement.
It will be the object of this volume to take notice of these subjects in particular, and to point out all that came under the observation of the author, or which he, by diligent search, was enabled to find out; but it should be borne in mind, that he purposes to give an account of such places only as are actually on the banks of the river, or lying in the route of the pedestrian, for were he to depart from this resolution in one instance, it might be expected in another, which would swell the work to a greater extent than the author ever imagined or intended its reaching.
We will now commence our journey, having in our favour a fine autumnal morning — we quit London at least for a time with feelings untinged
with the slightest shadow of regret, and having made our way through its immensity of houses, streets, temples, and palaces,
we involuntarily turn once more to bid farewell to the smoking arena; after which, making the best of our way,
we soon begin to breathe a purer air, and gain an occasional view of that stream, henceforth, for a short period,
to be our familiar companion and guide.
Intending to cross Putney bridge, we arrived at Fulham, which stands on the north bank of the Thames, and gives name to a hamlet.
It is connected with Putney, its opposite neighbour, by a wooden bridge, to pass over which it is necessary to pay toll.
It is a pretty village, having several gentlemen's seats about it, and is large enough, had it been situated in the country
instead of being a suburb of London, to have gained for itself the name of a town.
It possesses some claims to antiquity, there having been formerly a palace here, in which Henry the Third occasionally resided, on the site of which the present house, called Fulham Palace, is supposed to have been erected.
This palace is a large brick building, moated round, with extensive botanical gardens, and has long been the summer residence of the Bishops of London; it is also known by the name of the Manor House, the manor of Fulham having belonged to the Bishops of London many years, even before the invasion of England by William the Norman.
Its church (in the yard of which are buried four bishops) is situated close to the river's side, and is of great antiquity, so much so, that the precise time of its erection is unknown; in this respect it is similar to Putney church, supposed to have been erected at the same period.
Tradition says they owe their origin to the piety of twin sisters: whether this be the fact is not certain; however, there they stand, and it is very likely the story is true.
They are both fine buildings, their architecture being of the Saxon order, having square embattled towers, with nave, chancel, and aisles.
It does not appear that Fulham was ever designated or known by any other name than that which it now bears, nor is it clear how it came by that.
There is an old story extant, which is here merely mentioned for the purpose of showing how soon very improbable stories gain credence where they happen to go uncontradicted, when, from their very absurdity, they would seem to carry that contradiction along with them; it is as follows:
"That the two sisters before-named, living on the opposite sides of the Thames, were in the habit of visiting each other, and for that purpose were ferried over by watermen; and in their giving directions to put in properly for shore, the one used to say, 'Full home, waterman', while the other would exclaim, 'Put nigh'; whence the two towns took their names of Fulham and Putney."
Should any one, impressed with the belief of the folly of such a derivation, doubt for a moment the existence of any such tradition, it so happens that the very neighbourhood affords another instance of a similar one; namely, in the two villages of Chelsea and Battersea, where, on account of the shallowness of the water at the former place, it was called "shallow sea", while the river being deeper higher up, was denominated "Better sea", afterwards corrupted into Chelsea and Battersea.
But the real origin of the name of Chelsea is from the bed of the river in that particular part, being of sand at that time, which lay in whole banks or shelves, containing a considerable number of shells, hence called shelf or shell-sea, which found an easy corruption into Chelsea; however, the former account being by far the more interesting to the common people, is in greater favour, and generally believed by them to be true.
Much, indeed most, of the land in this part is in culture for garden produce for the London markets, which are supplied every morning long before its inhabitants awake from their slumbers.
PUTNEY, formerly a mere village, and consisting only of one street, is now composed of many.
It may lay claim, as well as Fulham, to the title of being a pleasant and agreeable place; no doubt it was much more so ere London had so overgrown itself as to threaten with destruction, by its absorbing powers, its numerous, but far humbler neighbours.
Alas! where are the countless fields and romantic spots that used to intervene between itself and suburbs where merry childhood played?
Gone, I am afraid, to the tomb of the Capulets.
Its church outwardly is very similar to that of Fulham.
Mr. Lyons says it was erected as a chapel of ease to Wimbledon, but this rests on mere assertion without proof: it displays various kinds of architecture; while at the end of the south aisle is a pretty chapel, built by West, Bishop of Ely, who adorned it with his arms, and a beautiful Gothic roof.
It may be as well to observe, the inhabitants of both places are very proud of their churches, and consider it as a personal insult if any thing be said in their derogation.
In this village was born Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, the favourite and friend of Wolsey; he was afterwards the friend and confidential adviser of his master, Henry the Eighth.
It is almost needless to say that he was requited for the zeal and fidelity displayed in that monarch's service, in the form most usual to that savage, namely, by decapitation.
It is to the honour of Archbishop Cranmer, that when all friends had deserted this unfortunate nobleman, Cranmer wrote to the king in his behalf, saying, he firmly believed his majesty did not possess a more loyal subject in his dominions, but without avail.
Cromwell's father was a blacksmith in Putney, and Cromwell himself is only one of the many instances to show, that in this country an humble origin is no bar to the acquisition of wealth and the highest honours of the state.
The mind of man cannot for a moment suffer itself to dwell on some of the transactions that have occurred in past ages of our national history, without being filled with a just sense of indignation at the power and authority exercised by men, who, arrogating to themselves a title of Divine right to an office, to which they have been clearly called, in the first instance, by the voice of the people, or who, by their silence, have shown their consent to such elevation, so much above their fellows, when we read of the unwholesome and tyrannical use which they have made of the power so conferred.
If our indignation could give place to any other feeling at such a time, it would be to that of pity mingled with scorn and contempt for some of the visionaries of the present day, who, living in safety, and having protection for themselves, their families, and property, yet talk of "the glorious days of bluff King Hal", when, by the bye, they had protection for neither.
Putney could at one time boast of possessing a ferry, which is mentioned in Domesday-book; and it was at this point, after the battle of Brentford, during the civil wars, when Charles withdrew to Kingston, that the Earl of Essex crossed the river, by means of a bridge of boats, in pursuit.
Cromwell at one time had his head-quarters at Putney, when the general officers held their councils in the church, sitting round the communion table.
Putney bridge, which is of wood, was erected in the year 1729, at the cost of £23,975
TOW PATH & FERRIES
At this spot commences the towing-path, by which is afforded to the pedestrian an opportunity of pursuing the banks of this truly majestic
river as far as Leachlade, in Gloucestershire, where it ceases to be navigable.
Nor is this path liable to the objection of continuing on one side of the river the whole distance, as it changes by means of bridges, but more often by ferries, (which will be noticed in their proper places,) from one bank to the other, quite as often as the traveller could desire; thus offering that variety which is most pleasing, and for which it would have been censured, had it not afforded.
HAMMERSMITH SUSPENSION BRIDGE
The face of the country hereabout, and for several miles further, affords nothing better to the eye than an uninteresting flat;
in the mean time, the hamlet of HAMMERSMITH presents itself to our view, situated on the west side of the great western road,
and stretching down from thence to the river, over which a suspension bridge of iron has been erected, which has been,
and still continues to be, deservedly admired by all who have made it their business or their pleasure (and they are numerous)
to visit and inspect it.
It is of light construction, and beautiful in appearance, reflecting infinite credit alike on its original projector, and on the engineer under whose direction it was constructed, for the beauty of its execution; more especially as the work was completed considerably below the estimate and within the time stipulated — a thing of such rare occurrence, that when it does happen, its remembrance should not be lost for want of being mentioned.
Here formerly existed a nunnery (indeed it is not certain that it is yet abolished), which had its rise in the year 1669, when two females, having instituted a school for the education of ladies of the Roman Catholic persuasion, shortly afterwards adopted the observance of monastic rules: this circumstance gained for it the name by which it has been designated.
Several of its inmates took the veil, thus devoting themselves to voluntary seclusion.
Among the numerous seats which adorn this hamlet, formerly stood Brandenburgh House, the residence, for a short period, of the late Queen Caroline, consort of George the Fourth.
It was built in the time of Charles the First, and was, at one period, the property of Prince Rupert, who gave it to his mistress, one Margaret Hughes, an actress; it was subsequently purchased by the Margrave of Anspach for the sum of £8,500 who resided in this country until his decease, having given up his hereditary dominions in Germany to the king of Prussia, in consideration of being secured in the receipt of a large annual sum.
Shortly after the death of the queen it was pulled down and the materials sold.
The river from this hamlet sweeps rapidly off to the left, passing Chiswick, in Middlesex, formerly called Cheswick.
It is a long straggling village, with a church, whose tower, which is of stone, was erected so far back as the fifteenth century; the other parts are of more recent date, and of brick.
In the church-yard, lying close to the river's brink, are deposited the remains of Hogarth, the great painter and engraver, on whose mausoleum is inscribed an epitaph written by David Garrick, which, as it may possibly not have met the eyes of some of my readers, is here inserted for their perusal:
Farewell, great painter of mankind,
Who reach'd the noblest point of art;
Whose pictur'd morals charm the mind,
And, through the eye, correct the heart.
If genius fires thee, reader, stay —
If nature moves thee, drop a tear;
If neither touch thee, turn away,
For Hogarth's honour’d dust lies here.
He died on the 26th day of October, 1762, aged sixty-four years.
In this parish stands Chiswick House, a villa belonging to the Duke of Devonshire; it was formerly called Burlington House, and owes its origin to Richard Earl of Burlington, whose name will long be held in reverence by all admirers of the arts and sciences, of which he was a great encourager, both in respect to pecuniary assistance and personal influence.
The present structure was erected especially under his superintendence, from a model by Inigo Jones, from one of Palladio's chef-d'ouvres, and has since received every ornament that nature assisted by art could bestow.
Formerly it was a square of only 78 feet, but being found too small for the domestic arrangements of its noble owner, it received the addition of two wings.
On entering the grounds it is seen to great advantage between two rows of magnificent cedars of Lebanon.
The house is entered by ascending a double flight of steps, on each side of which are placed the statues of Palladio and Inigo Jones; and is embellished by a beautiful portico, supported by fluted columns of the Corinthian order, having a rich cornice, frieze, and architrave.
It possesses a beautiful saloon, of an octagonal form, terminating at the top in a dome.
The grounds, which slope beautifully down to the edge of the stream, are disposed in every variety of shape and form that the most exquisite taste could devise, presenting altogether a coup-d'oeil truly enchanting.
The river here assumes the form of a crescent, enclosing the village of Barnes, anciently called Berne, on three of its sides with water:
the parish is of great extent.
The church is of an ancient date, but not deserving of any particular mention with respect to its architecture or pictorial effect; it, however, possesses a singularity which must not be passed over, in a number of rose-trees that are seen in different parts of the church-yard, railed in against the buttresses.
This singularity is accounted for in the following manner: About 200 years ago, a person of the name of Rose left by his will a small plot of ground to trustees, directing them to plant and rail in certain rose-trees round the buttresses on the outside of the church; which has been done and kept up from that time to the present day.
At the east end of the church is an epitaph on a young female of the name of Barnard, nearly obliterated, which is here copied exactly as it appears on the stone:
Here lys that happy Maiden, who often said
that no man is happy, untill he is dead:
That the business of life is but playing the fool,
which hath not relation to saving the Soul.
For all the transactions that's under the sun,
is doing of nothing if that be not done,
all Wisdom and knowledge doth lye in this one.
Close to the water side is a fine row of houses, called Barnes Terrace, in one of which a tragedy of no common nature occurred,
which is related in a book entitled "A Morning's Walk from London to Kew", by Sir Richard Phillips.
The narrative, as there given, is extracted for the reader's information. —
"Here was acted the terrible tragedy of the Count and Countess d'Antraignes.
These famous intriguants, after traversing Europe to enlist the vain prejudices of kings, and the sycophant spirit of courtiers, against the unalterable principles of the rights of man, settled themselves in a small house near the upper end of this terrace.
Here their establishment consisted only of a single Italian footman and two maid servants.
One day in every week they went to London, in a hired coach, to confer with their partizans; and it was on the morning of one of these excursions that these unhappy persons were suddenly butchered by their Italian footman.
The coach stood at the door, and the Count and Countess had descended the stairs, when the servant, rushing from the parlour, fired a pistol at the Count; the ball of which struck but did not injure him.
It, however, so much surprised him as to throw him off his guard, when the wretch struck him with a stiletto between the shoulders.
The Count at first reeled on the step of the door, but instantly rushed up stairs, as is supposed, to get arms from his bed-chamber, which he reached, but only to fall dead on the floor.
In the meantime the Countess, who was two or three paces in advance, and had reached the carriage-door, not aware of the cause of the report of the pistol, and of the Count's precipitate retreat, asked the man, peevishly, why he did not open the door?
He advanced as if to do it, but instantly stabbed her in the breast to the hilt of his weapon: she shrieked, reeled a few yards, and fell dead beside the post which adjoins the house to the west, on the pavement near which her blood was lately visible.
The villain himself fled up stairs to the room where his master lay weltering in his blood, and then, with a razor, cut his own throat.
I saw the coachman, who told me that scarcely five minutes elapsed between the time when he heard them approach the carriage and beheld them corpses.
The several acts were begun and over in an instant.
At first he could not conceive what was passing ; and, though he leaped from the box to the aid of the dying lady, he had then no suspicion of the fate of the Count.
I took pains to ascertain the assassin's motive for committing such horrid deeds; but none can be traced beyond a feeling of revenge, excited by a supposed intention of his master to discard him, and send him out of the kingdom; a design which, it is said, he discovered by listening on the stairs to the conversation of the Count and Countess, while they were enjoying the water scene by moon-light, on the preceding evening, from their projecting windows."
The slight cause mentioned by Sir Richard Phillips, as having been the occasion of the commission of such an atrocious act as is here recorded, does not appear sufficient, nor was it believed to be so at the time; and conjecture was long busy, but in vain, in endeavouring to discover one.
Where nothing but conjecture is taken for a guide, it may well be doubted whether it will ever lead to any probable conclusion.
At Barn Elms lived Cowley the poet, until he went to reside at Chertsey, of whom we shall have occasion to speak when we notice that place.
It was also the spot where the Kit-Kat Club formerly held their meetings.
The room where those literary wonders of the last age used to meet is now, or was lately, used as a riding-school — "To what base uses may we come, Horatio!"
Leaving Barnes in the rear, (though not without a word in praise of mine host of the White Hart,
where the stranger will be sure of receiving good accommodation at reasonable charges, with civility into the bargain),
we pass Mortlake, Mortlack, or Mortlac, as it was at different times called, adjoining the parish of Barnes.
This is the place where first existed a manufactory for the weaving of tapestry hangings; which took its rise from some foreigners who, to avoid persecution, fled their country, and meeting with encouragement from Charles the First, settled here for the purpose of carrying on the business which had been familiar to them at home.
By this means a mutual benefit was conferred: the people of this country were enabled to get at home, and at a cheaper rate, that which before could only have been obtained abroad; and the stranger received that protection in a foreign land which had been denied him in his own.
The church, which is of very ancient date, having been built as early as the year 1348, has undergone so many repairs and beautifyings (so miscalled) as to leave some doubt whether any portion of the original edifice remains; resembling, in this respect, the Irishman's knife, which poor Patrick used to tell his friends had been in the family for a century, and was just the same as at first, barring three new handles and ten blades.
Among the many monuments that may here be seen, is one to the memory of Alderman Barber, who did himself the honour of erecting a monument to the poet Butler in Westminster Abbey.
The river now flows to the right, affording at intervals some view of the loveliness of Richmond, the Pagoda in Kew Gardens having been long seen towering in lonely majesty.
The Thames, which is always gay in fine weather, and may be seen within a certain distance of the metropolis proudly bearing on its bosom
the beauty and pride of the land, presents a more bustling and busy appearance on reaching Brentford, in old maps called Branford,
which is on the north bank, where wharfs, and the trade its inhabitants carry on with the metropolis, give it that business-like air
we have just been noticing.
Its name is taken from the Brent, a brook rising somewhere about Finchley, and here emptying itself into the Thames.
Here formerly existed a ford, which was so easily passed over, that when Edmund Ironside defeated the Danes, he and his army crossed the stream twice on the same day; it has long since been deepened to aid the purposes of navigation.
Here also Charles the First, after his victory gained at Edge Hill, beat two of the Parliament's best regiments, and took 500 prisoners.
Patrick Ruthen, Earl of Forth, for his services in that action, was created Earl of Brentford, but the title expired with him in 1651.
Brentford possesses a church and market-house, which were first erected in the time of Richard the First; in the latter place are elected the knights of the shire for the County of Middlesex, − When there is scarcely a hamlet or parish in the kingdom that does not possess some distinction peculiar to itself, it were hard indeed if the ancient town of Brentford had not some claim to motoriety; that something has not been wanting for many years past, for it has long been deemed, by unanimous consent, the dirtiest place in his Majesty's dominions; nor has the Thames, rolling its abundant waters along its side, been hitherto used to wash away the foul reproach.
[ 1st bridge 1759, 2nd bridge 1789, 3rd bridge 1903 ]
This place is connected with Kew, standing on the Surry side, by a beautiful bridge of stone, erected after a design furnished by a Mr. Payne;
it was built in 1789, consists of nine arches, and is a great embellishment to this part of the river: the former one was of wood.
Kew was a hamlet belonging to Kingston, till an Act of Parliament passed, uniting it to Petersham as one vicarage; this was in 1769.
It was at one time called Keye, and at another Kewe.
Lely, the portrait painter, resided here.
On Kew Green stands St. Anne's chapel, in which are deposited the remains of Gainsborough, the painter; they are covered with a plain white marble slab, best befitting the simplicity of his life.
Here also lie all that remains on earth of Meyer, another native genius, who possessed a high order of talent in the school of painting in which he practised and was most fitted to adorn.
There is an epitaph by Hayley, inscribed on the marble, which I ventured to transcribe:
Meyer! in thy works, the world will ever see
How great the loss of art in losing thee;
But love and sorrow find the words too weak
Nature's keen sufferings on thy death to speak:
Through all her duties what a heart was thine;
In thy cold dust what spirit used to shine.
Fancy, and truth, and gaiety, and zeal,
What most we love in life, and, losing, feel;
Age after age may not one artist yield
Equal to thee, in painting's ample field;
And ne'er shall sorrowing earth to heaven commend
A fonder parent, or a firmer friend.
' William Hayley, 1789.
The house known as Kew Palace, belonged to one of the secretaries of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George the Second;
it then became the property of Frederick, Prince of Wales, the father of George the Third.
That king almost pulled the original edifice to pieces, and began a new palace, which, however, was never properly finished; and after the expending of a very large sum, has since been taken down.
It is too often in this manner that ducks and drakes are made of the public money — great works are undertaken without due consideration, and therefore are never brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
It is, however, better away, as it only by its appearance (much of the prison kind) tended to throw a gloom over the surrounding gardens, for which Kew is now chiefly famed.
To pretend to give a proper description of them, would take up more space than the nature of this work will admit.
That called the Medical Garden is of very great extent, and comprises almost every plant known in the vocabulary of the Materia Medica.
Here are, in particular, some fine specimens of the cedar of Lebanon.
The flower garden is equally rich in novelty and beauty, and will well repay the trouble taken to inspect it.
There cannot be afforded a richer treat to the student of botany than these gardens will give; and it may here be as well to state, that they are open to the public in the summer months every Monday, thus affording the means of rational enjoyment to all classes, which they will do well not to neglect or abuse.
In the midst of these extensive grounds stands the Pagoda before mentioned, built of brick, in the Chinese fashion; it is of great height, consisting of ten stories, and is altogether a most remarkable building, and will amply repay the trouble of a long walk by the pleasure its inspection affords.
From the top is presented a most enchanting prospect of hill and dale, wood and Water.
From the foot of Kew bridge the Thames takes a sudden turn to the left, and is accompanied at its side, as far as Richmond, by a noble walk or terrace, from which is seen Richmond park and gardens, together with the beautiful foliage of its hill; and on the right, the noble mansion and beautiful domain of Sion, with Isleworth and Twickenham Park in the back ground, the river rolling between; the whole forming a scene of such varied rural beauty, splendour, and magnificence, that the eye aches from the effects of too much loveliness, and we are too happy to escape from the fatigue with which the presence of so much beauty has oppressed us, to neglect any opportunity of so doing; we will, therefore, here give some description of that seat of the noble family of the Percys, which has just been mentioned.
Sion House was one of the monasteries founded by Henry the Fifth for the nuns of the order of St. Bridget;
but, at the dissolution of religious houses, it was given to the Duke of Somerset, who pulled down the church
and erected the present building on its site.
In the time of the civil wars, it became the residence of the Dukes of York and Gloucester, and the Princess Elizabeth, the children of Charles the First, who were put by the Parliament under the care of the Earl of Northumberland, one of their partizans.
Though it has received numberless embellishments and alterations from the hands of its present munificent proprietor, the form of the building remains the same as it was in the time of his Grace of Somerset.
The principal entrance is through an arched gateway, surmounted by the family crest, having a lodge on each side, and which, as a whole, is of very beautiful proportions.
Through an open colonnade you have a view of the lawn, and so approach the house.
Here, amid large clumps of stately trees, and over a continuation of the serpentine river, which winds its devious course through the greater part of the grounds, the visitor is conducted into this princely mansion, and by a large flight of steps ascends into the great hall, which is a noble oblong room, ornamented with antique marble colossal statues, and particularly with a very perfect cast of the dying gladiator in bronze, which has the most happy effect from its position as you enter by the flight of marble steps into the vestibule.
This is a square apartment, finished in a very uncommon style; the floor is of scagliola, and the walls in fine relief, having gilt trophies.
But what distinguishes this room in particular, are twelve large columns and sixteen pilasters, of verde antique, containing a greater quantity of this scarce and precious marble than is now, perhaps, to be found in any one building remaining in the world: on the columns are twelve gilt statues.
This leads to the dining room, which is finished with a very chaste simplicity, and ornamented with beautiful marble statues, and paintings in chiaro obscuro after the antique.
At each end is a circular recess, separated by columns; and the ceiling is in stucco, gilt, the elegant simplicity of which forms a fine contrast to that of the drawing-room, which immediately succeeds.
The coved ceiling of this fine room is divided into small compartments, richly gilt, and exhibiting designs of the antique paintings which have been found in Europe, admirably executed by the best Italian artists.
The sides are hung with a very rich three-coloured silk damask, being the first of the kind ever executed in England.
The tables are two pieces of antique mosaic, found in Titus's baths, and purchased from the Abbé Furietti's collection at Rome.
The glasses are about 108 or 109 inches by 65, being two of the largest that then had ever been seen in England.
This conducts to the great gallery, which also serves for the library and museum, being about 133 feet long.
The book-cases are formed in recesses in the wall, and receive the books so as to make them part of the general finishing of the room.
The whole is after the most beautiful style of the antique, finished in a remarkably light and elegant manner, and gave the first instance of stucco work finished in England, after the finest remains of antiquity.
The ceiling is richly adorned with paintings and ornaments answerable to the beautiful taste that prevails in the other parts of this superb gallery.
Below the ceiling runs a series of large medallion paintings exhibiting the portraits of all the earls of Northumberland in succession, and other principal personages in the noble houses of Percy and Seymour, most of which (especially some of the most ancient) are taken from genuine originals.
At the west end of the room is a pair of folding doors into the garden, which uniformity required should represent a book-case, to answer the other end of the library.
Here, by a very happy thought, his grace has exhibited the titles of the lost Greek and Roman authors, so as to form a very pleasing deception, and to give at the same time a curious catalogue of the authores deperditi.
At each end of this gallery is a little pavilion or closet, finished in the most exquisite taste, as is also a beautiful closet in one of the square turrets rising above the roof, which commands a most enchanting prospect.
From the east end of the gallery is a suite of private apartments that are extremely convenient and elegant, and lead us back to the great hall by which we entered.
Of the disposition of the grounds, we can only say that they are beyond all praise, and to be properly appreciated, must be seen.
Isleworth adjoins the lawns of Sion, and was formerly known by the names of Gistleworth and Thistleworth, but corrupted to that which it now bears.
It could formerly boast of a palace, and a manufactory for making of brass; it now possesses neither.
The palace belonged to the King of the Romans, better known to the inhabitants of this country as Earl of Cornwall, and brother of our Henry the Third.
To gain the title of King of the Romans, he expended vast sums of money, in the hope of ultimately becoming Emperor of Germany (to which, indeed, that title was generally the stepping-stone); but the natives of those countries having obtained his money, knew too well what belonged to their own interests to elect a foreigner; and he would have done well to have contented himself with the solidities of an English earldom, instead of struggling for the shadows of foreign honours; for, it is almost needless to say, shadows were all he ever obtained.
His palace was burnt down in an insurrection of the Londoners.
But we have lingered long enough on this side the stream, and must once more cross into Surry, to describe fair Richmond,
which has long been acknowledged as one of the finest villages in his Majesty's dominions; nor is it famed for any single beauty in particular,
but for a combination of all those grand characteristics essential to a place claiming for itself the honour of pre-eminent loveliness.
Camden says it had the name of Shene, or Shining, from the splendour of its palace; and there are still existing the hamlets of Sheen hard by, in which was a priory, given, after its dissolution, by Henry the Eighth to the Duke of Somerset; it was restored during the short reign of Mary, but again dissolved by her sister Elizabeth.
It subsequently became the property of Sir William Temple, with whom resided Dean Swift, who has made the daughter of his benefactor familiar to us by the name of Stella, by which designation she was styled in their correspondence.
But to return after this digression: Richmond took its name from Henry the Seventh, who was earl of a tract of land called Richmondshire, in Yorkshire; and not from any land in Bretagne, (where he for some time resided,) as is erroneously supposed.
Edward the Third died here; as did also Anne, the wife of his grandson, Richard the Second.
To her has generally been ascribed the honour of teaching the English ladies their present mode of riding on horseback, which, before her time, used to be astride, in the same manner as the men.
It is rather singular that the ladies of this nation should have needed being taught delicacy, and that too by a Frenchwoman.
Tradition records that her husband took her death so much to heart as partially to destroy the palace in which they had resided; the truth most probably is, that he only deserted it; but be that as it may, it certainly was pulled down, and the one subsequently erected was built by the Duke of Ormond, but passed to the crown on his attainder.
It was destroyed by fire in the reign of Henry the Seventh, who rebuilt it with greater splendour than ever.
He died at this palace (as did also Queen Elizabeth); which event Camden, in his Britannica, pathetically laments, but seems to have consoled himself by the prospect of human felicity consequent on the accession of such a king as James the First; for he says, "He shone out upon us with his most august beams, and called us to the hope of enjoying him for ever."
This town would appear to have been much neglected after the decease of our princes of the House of Tudor, until the time of their late majesties,
Queens Caroline and Charlotte, consorts of George the Second and Third, who bestowed much attention in beautifying and embellishing it,
particularly the park (which was enclosed by Charles the First with a wall eleven miles in compass) and gardens,
which, under their management, rose to a pitch of grandeur and magnificence not easily to be attained.
The following description of them, as they existed in the time of Queen Caroline, may not be unwelcome to the reader:—
"Entering the gardens from Richmond Green was a dairy; a neat, but low brick building.
The inside walls were lined with stucco; the vessels for the milk being of the most beautiful china.
Passing on by a canal, through a grove of fine trees, a temple presented itself to the view, consisting of a circular dome, crowned with a ball, and supported by Tuscan columns; in the centre was an altar.
Returning by the dairy, there was a wood; a walk in which was terminated by the Queen's Pavilion, which contained a beautiful chimneypiece, after Palladio.
In another part was the Duke of Cumberland's house, with a lofty arched entrance, whose roof, which rose to a point, was terminated by a ball.
The next object was the summer-house on the terrace, with lofty windows.
This edifice contained two well-painted pictures, representing the siege of Vigo by the Duke of Ormond.
Through a labyrinth, was seen Merlin's Cave: while beyond this was a large oval of 500 feet diameter, called the Forest Oval, with a view of the Hermitage, backed by a large row of trees.
This building had three doors or gateways; and the middle part, which formed a considerable projection, supported a kind of ruinous angular pediment, composed of stones rudely laid together, and partly covered with moss and mural weeds.
The entrance was adorned with iron palisades finely gilt.
The interior apartment was of an octagonal form, with niches containing busts.
Long avenues of stately elms, crossing each other, formed large square intervals, employed as meadows and corn fields, or were covered with thickets, where hares, pheasants, and partridges found a shelter.
Such was the state of these gardens in Queen Caroline's time."
In the reign of George the Third, Queen Charlotte had them altered very materially, and perhaps beneficially; for Brown, under whose directions the alterations were planned, pulled down and did away with many things which art only made sacred — a thing of secondary importance in the laying out of extensive domains, nature being the first object worthy of consideration.
The town is about a mile and a half in extent, and stretches from the summit of the hill down its side into the vale beneath.
Henry the Fifth founded a Carthusian monastery near this place, and called it Bethlehem; as he also did one near Isleworth, which has been before mentioned, and which he called Sion.
Bishop Duppa, (who was tutor to the Prince of Wales, afterwards Charles the Second,) when in exile on account of the civil wars then raging in England, having vowed, if he ever returned, to build some alms-houses, did so when such period arrived, placing on the gate the following inscription: "I will pay the vows I made to God in my youth."
In the reign of James the First the courts of law were removed to this place, on account of the plague then raging in London; as also in the year 1625, from the same cause.
In the church, on the south side, among other inscriptions, is the following, placed under a figure in a kneeling attitude:
Thus youth and age and all things pass away;
Thy turn is now, as his was yesterday;
Tomorrow shall another take thy room,
The next day he a prey for worms become,
And o'er your dusty bones shall others tread,
As you now walk and trample on the dead,
'Till neither stone nor memory appear,
That ever you had birth or being here.
In this church are deposited the remains of the poet Thomson, to whose memory a monument has been erected in Westminster Abbey;
his genius and talent demanded that such a token of respect should be paid to him in the metropolitan abbey;
but it was not until the year 1792 that a similar token was erected over the spot where his bones are lying.
In that year Earl Buchan directed a monument to be placed over his remains, with the following inscription:
Father of Light and Life thou good supreme,
O teach me what is good! teach me thyself.
Save me from folly, vanity, and vice,
From every low pursuit, and feed my soul
With knowledge, conscious peace and virtue,
Pure, sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss.
During the progress of this work, death has also placed within these walls another eminent genius.
The author alludes to the late tragedian, Mr. Kean, who, to the lover of real unaffected nature, never played without convincing such that he was her true child; and it will not be advancing too much, if it be said, that, since the days of Garrick, no one has yet appeared with such perfect claims to pre-eminence in the profession in which he had engaged as poor Kean, who now (and deeply is it deplored by every sincere admirer of the legitimate drama) lies numbered with the dead.
There formerly existed a ferry at the spot where now there is a bridge, and a very neat and handsome structure it is, consisting of five arches; it was begun in the year 1775, and finally completed in that of 1777: the materials are of stone.
From the summit of Richmond Hill is gained one of the most enchanting views imaginable, and to which nothing but the pen of a poet would be able to do justice.
On whichsoever side the eye may turn, it rests on sublime, stirring, or peaceful objects.
From this spot eight counties may be viewed laying open to the eye of the beholder— certainly not the kingdoms of the earth, but most decidedly the glory of one.
Thomson, who was a true poet of nature, has well said, when writing on this subject,
Heavens, what a goodly prospect spreads around,
Of hills and dales, and lawns and spires,
And glittering towns and gilded streams, till all
The stretching landscape into smoke decays.
From this delightful spot variety is presented in all the witchery of winning ways: alike the mossy tower, the stately palace, the luxurious villa,
and the humble shed — all that art can raise or nature bestow is here beheld in the fullest perfection — the flowing river, the falling fountain,
the magnificent cedar, and the tender exotic — all that can give a charm to existence, that can make life pleasing to others
and grateful to ourselves.
Looking to the south, the eye, rapidly scanning the beauties of Kew, rests on the hills of Surry; thence surveys, in the east, the mighty metropolis; while, in fine contrast to the gloom occasioned by the smoke vomited forth from its million of chimmeys, are seen to the north the hanging woods and lovely hills of Hampstead and Highgate.
To the west, when "No clouds, no vapours intervene, But the gay, the open scene", the towers of Windsor Castle are clearly distinguishable, and, nearer still, the beauties of Hampton Court Palace, the ancient town of Kingston, the rural village of Teddington, the stately groves of Petersham, the magnificence of Ham, and the quiet loveliness of Twickenham, all lending their aid to give enchantment to the scene, and to assist in forming a picture, the longer it is seen the more it is desired; as though "increase of fancy did grow by that it fed on"
How applicable to the country around are the following words of Dyer:
Ever charming, ever new,
When will the landscape tire the view
The fountain's fall, the river's flow,
The woody valleys warm and low,
The pleasant seat, the ruined tower,
The naked rock, the shady bower,
The town and village, dome and farm —
Each give to each a double charm,
Like pearls upon an Ethiop's arm.
Now, even now my joys run high,
As on the mountain's turf I lie;
While the wanton zephyr sings,
And in the vale perfumes his wings;
While the waters murmur deep;
While the shepherds charm the sheep;
While the birds unbounded fly,
And with music fill the sky —
Now, even now my joys run high!
It is to be regretted, that while Grongar Hill has its poet, able to immortalize it in such lines as those above, Richmond,
with more claims to such an honour, has hitherto been left without such a distinction.
At the foot of this hill the tide, which flows from the sea above sixty miles up the Thames, takes its leave; its influence extending further up this stream, from its mouth, than in any other river in Europe.
There are some good lines from an old poet on this subject,which are as under:
Oft as the changing moon the ocean wide
Impels, our Thames receives the changing tide;
When in mid Heaven fair Cynthia glorious rides,
By her directed, onward rush the tides;
When, on the other side, she wears in wane,
The tides, attendant, hasten back again,
By force acquired, the exulting river swell’d,
Rolls on, and cries "to me all rivers yield",
Save the twin-brother floods of Elbe and Scheld.
With such true tides no river can be found
In all the realms that Europe's empire bound.
We will now take our leave of Richmond, of which we fear we have given but a very inadequate description, and once more wend our way alongside of the Thames, whose beautiful waters are not the least part of the fairy scene we leave in the rear;
not, however, without some notice being taken of Twickenham, lying on the north side, the soil of which is classic ground —
this favoured spot having been once the residence of Alexander Pope, whose name will be remembered as long
as the language in which he wrote has being.
The villa still exists, though not in the same form as in the poet's time, it having received the addition of two wings.
The grotto, once its chief ornament, is either destroyed altogether, or so altered from its former state as to convey no idea of the ingenuity and taste therein displayed by its projector.
The following extract from a letter addressed by Pope himself to Edward Blount, Esq., will convey a pleasing notion of the effect which it must have produced when seen in its highest perfection.
"Let no access of any distrust make you think of me differently in a cloudy day from what you do in the most sunshiny weather.
Let the young ladies be assured I make nothing new in my gardens without wishing to see the print of their fairy steps in every part of 'em.
I have put the last hand to my works of this kind, in happily finishing the subterraneous way and grotto: I there found a spring of the clearest water, which falls in a perpetual rill that echoes through the cavern day and night.
From the river Thames, you see through my arch, up a walk of the wilderness, to a kind of open temple, wholly composed of shells in the rustic manner; and from that distance under the temple you look down through a sloping arcade of trees, and see the sails on the river passing suddenly and vanishing, as through a perspective glass.
When you shut the doors of this grotto, it becomes on the instant, from a luminous room, a camera obscura; on the walls of which all the objects of the river, hills, woods, and boats, are forming a moving picture in their visible radiations: and when you have a mind to light it up, it affords you a very different scene; it is finished with shells interspersed with pieces of looking glass in angular forms; and in the ceiling is a star of the same material, at which, when a lamp (of an orbicular figure, of thin alabaster) is hung in the middle, a thousand pointed rays glitter and are reflected over the place.
There are connected to this grotto by a narrower passage, two porches, one towards the river of smooth stones, full of light and open; the other towards the garden shadowed with trees, rough with shells, flints, and iron-ore: the bottom is paved with simple pebble, as is also the adjoining walk up, the wilderness to the temple, in the natural taste, agreeing not ill with the little dripping murmur, and the aquatic idea of the whole place.
It wants nothing to complete it but a good statue with an inscription, like that beautiful antique one which you know I am so fond of.
Hujus Nympha loci, sacri custodia fontis
Dormio, dum blandae sentio murmur aquae.
Parce meum, quisquis tangis cava marmora somnum
Rumpere, seu bibas, sive lavere, tace.
Nymph of the grot, those sacred springs I keep,
And to the murmur of these waters sleep;
Ah, spare my slumbers, gently tread the cave!
And drink in silence, or in silence lave!
"You'll think I have been very poetical in this description, but it is pretty near the truth.
I wish you were here to bear testimony how little it owes to art, either the place itself, or the image I give of it."
Upon the possession of this grotto Pope undoubtedly plumed himself; and as it attracted much notice, and was in his time the theme of conversation around, and an object of general curiosity, it gratified that vanity from the possession of which he, like other men, was not exempt.
Dr. Johnson, who did not approve of any thing like an undue importance being attached to that which he considered as undeserving of it, in his life of the poet, has the following passage:
"Being under the necessity of making a subterraneous passage to a garden on the opposite side of the road, he adorned it with fossile bodies and dignified it with the title of a Grotto.
As some men try to be proud of their defects, he extracted an ornament from an inconvenience, and vanity produced a grotto where necessity enforced a passage."
Pope was buried in the parish church of Twickenham, to whose memory his friend Warburton erected a monument, and wrote an inscription.
Their intimacy had its origin in some critical notices that Warburton had written on the appearance of Pope's Essay on Man, in which he defended the poet, and by an ingenious course of argument attempted to prove that such essay was written according to true Christian principles and sound morality.
It was in allusion to this circumstance that George the Third, in a conversation which he had with Dr. Johnson, observed that Pope had made Warburton a bishop.
"True, Sire", exclaimed the Doctor, "but Warburton did more for Pope, he made him a Christian."
Among the many seats of the nobility and gentry hereabout, is that of Strawberry Hill, once the residence of the celebrated Earl of Orford, better known as Horace Walpole.
It was built in the year 1698, and at that time it was let out in lodgings.
The noted Colley Cibber once had an apartment in it.
Marble Hill is another beautiful villa, from a design furnished by one of the Earls of Pembroke.
It is at a convenient distance from the Thames, and takes its name from the colour of the soil on which it stands.
It is now the residence of the Marquis of Wellesley, formerly it was that of the Earl of Buckinghamshire.
Louis Philippe, the present King of the French, resided at Twickenham while in exile, and it is said that he still retains possession of the property on which he then lived.
Perhaps he desires to keep it as a dernier resort.
The church is a fine building, in the Doric order, and was raised in the last century by a subscription among the inhabitants.
The village is without uniformity, long and straggling, but is very attractive from its natural situation and the cleanliness and gentility reigning around.
There is a pretty little ait or isle standing opposite the back of the church, on which is a tavern and gardens: it is a place much resorted to by the Londoners on their high days and holidays.
On the south bank of the river is Ham House, erected in 1490, which is a fine specimen of the style of architecture prevailing at that period.
The country now possesses a different character, as regards its scenery, from that to which we have lately been accustomed; instead of magnificent gardens, enchanting villas, dense woods, and extensive shrubberies, we behold smiling corn fields and quiet cottages — the horizon being bounded to the left by a low range of hills sweeping on in the direction of Kingston, while to the right, instead of corn fields, are meadows, the view also being occasionally terminated by banks of oziers.
We now pass Teddington, or Tuddington, the name being a corruption of that of Tide-ending-town,
the tide formerly reaching as far as this place when there were fewer bridges over the Thames,
the erection of which has sensibly checked its advances, and Richmond has now become its utmost limit, even at spring tides:
here is presented the first lock which interrupts the free course of this noble stream.
The appearance of things is now somewhat altered: instead of the multitude of pleasure boats and skiffs heretofore seen, we behold only the punt of some brother of the angle, and occasionally a commercial barge; the scene being varied by the appearance of that noble bird the swan, sailing majestically along.
The pedestrian is not sorry for the exchange; he now feels himself truly in the country, and free from the contiguity of the metropolis, and the consequent escape from the intrusion of her sons.
Your true pedestrian dislikes interlopers; and, except the friend at his side, is a declared enemy to all who claim acquaintance on the score of living in the same place.
He leaves his regular habitation and wanders on through unknown tracts in search of different scenes from those to which he is generally accustomed, to find variety and perhaps solitude: in variety he meets with pleasure, while in solitude he indulges in meditations, from which he can, whenever he is so minded, again find relief by once more sallying forth into the wide field that nature opens before him.
In the midst of these musings, or some very similar, we find ourselves at Kingston, which is a large town in Surrey,
where once a year, in the spring, the Assizes for the county are held.
It is very well built, with a fine church and some good streets.
Its ancient name was Moreford, or Great Ford, from one having existed in the neighbourhood.
In the market-place eight of our Saxon kings were crowned; from which circumstance, it is believed the town takes its present name of Kingstown, or Kingston; some, however, are of opinion that it takes its name from a fortress belonging to, and also had been an ancient demesne of, the crown.
It certainly had its present name as early as the Heptarchy.
The pictures of these kings are preserved in the church, as also that of John, from whom this town had its first charter of incorporation: it is governed by bailiffs, high steward, recorder, town clerk, &c.
Here, according to the old writers, was held a great council of the nobles of the land, in which Egbert, the first king of all England presided, this was in 828.
Near to the town existed at one time a castle, belonging to the Earls of Gloucester, of which there are now no vestiges remaining.
It sent Members to Parliament in the times of Edward the Second and Third, but on the inhabitants petitioning to be relieved from that honour and burden, such privilege was taken away.
Queen Elizabeth founded a school here, and gave certain lands in trust for its support; in which school Gibbon, the historian, received the early part of his education.
The principal church is a fine, spacious, and imposing building.
Among the many monumental inscriptions adorning its walls is the following, on a brass plate in the western chancel, chiefly noticeable on account of its singularity:
|Children which the Lord gave to Edmund Stanton, D.D. late Minister of Kingston upon Thames, now President of Corpus Christi College, by Mary his wife, daughter of Richard Balthrop, servant to the late Queene Eliz.|
|Job i. 2.||Ten children in one grave! a dreadful sight,|
Seven Sons and Daughters 3, Job's number right.
|Eccl. xi. 10.||Childhood and youth are vain, death reigns o'er all|
|Rom. v. 14.||Even those who never sinned, like Adam fall.|
|Rom. v. 12.||But why over all, in the first man every one|
|1 Cor. xv. 2.||Sinned and fell, not he himself alone.|
|1 Tim. i. 1.||Our hopes in Christ, the second Adam, he|
|Matth. i. 21.||Who saved the elect from sin and misery.|
|Rom. ix. 10.||What's that to us, poor children? This our creed,|
|Gen. xvii. 7.||God is a God to the faithful and their seed.|
|1 Thess. iv. 14.||Sleep on, dear Children, never that you wake,|
|Rev. xx. 12.||Till Christ doth raise you and to glory take.|
The bridge which crosses to Hampton Wick is of a recent date, built of stone, and consists of five arches.
It is a handsome structure, and very different from the one formerly in use, which was of wood, and of very old standing.
In the time of Charles the First, it was the second bridge from the sea (the new one is now the eleventh), and consisted of 20 arches and 22 piers.
One Robert Hammond, a townsman of Kingston, endowed it with £40 per annum, for the purpose of releasing passengers from the payment of the toll which had been imposed for its maintenance.
In the neighbourhood of Kingston stands a house anciently belonging to that Neville Earl of Warwick who, to use the quaint language of Aubrey in his Antiquities of Surrey, "did pull down and set up kings": it is now the property of Earl Spencer.
Near it are certain springs, the water of which, by means of leaden pipes, is conveyed under roads, buildings, and even the river itself, into Hampton Park, a distance of more than three miles.
There are several other seats in the immediate vicinity of great beauty, particularly those called Canbury House and Coombe House, both of which are deserving attention.
We now cross the bridge, at the foot of which is Hampton Wick.
It holds forth to the antiquarian or lover of the picturesque, nothing deserving notice; yet at this moment we were glad to find ourselves within its walls, for being rather wearied with our long walk, under an early autumnal sun, we were right merry to find that mine host of the Lion, could furnish forth an excellent steak and a cup of home-brewed for our refreshment, of which having heartily partaken, we will once more resume our journey; but before taking leave of Hampton Wick, must say one thing that will be thought much in its favour by all honest anglers (of whom we hope we are a part), and it is this — that there is an abundance of fish in the river in this neighbourhood, which was fully proved to our entire satisfaction by the quantity taken by ourselves, for having thrown in our line we were recompensed by some very good sport.
Gudgeon and chub seemed to be most in plenty; of the latter we do not remember ever to have killed finer.
Quitting this little digression, if so it may be called, which has led us past the village of Thames Ditton, on the opposite shore,
we find ourselves at the side of Hampton Park, with the exception of which, there is no object peculiarly striking till we arrive at Hampton itself,
where stands the Palace of Hampton Court.
Its history is so well known, that it will be unnecessary at any length to dwell thereon.
It was built by Cardinal Wolsey, with such rare magnificence and splendour, as to raise so much envy and ill will, that, to screen himself from the effects of both, he made a present of it to Henry the Eighth, who, in return, allowed him the Palace at Richmond for a residence.
King Henry greatly improved upon the original design, and so altered it in its completion, that it was held in the highest estimation both by natives and foreigners, and became the favourite residence of some of our sovereigns, and, we must not forget to mention, the prison of one, Charles the First, who was ordered to remain here by the Parliament.
Of its former state some idea may be formed, when we are told that above 280 silken beds were set up in the palace for strangers only, and that the whole apartments glittered in gold and silver.
In an account given of it by a foreigner, in the time of Elizabeth, is the following:—
"The chief area is paved with stone, in the middle of which is a fountain, constantly throwing up water.
The chapel of the palace is of a most splendid description; while in the Queen's closet the windows are transparent, being of crystal.
Being afterwards led into two chambers, one of which was the presence chamber, we were astonished at the profusion of gold and silver, and silken tapestry every where observable.
Here is also a little chapel hung with tapestry, where the Queen performs her devotions.
In her bed-chamber the bed was covered with very costly coverlids, the tester of which was hung by Anne Boleyn, and presented by her to her husband Henry the Eighth."
Great part of the ancient structure was pulled down by order of William the Third, who, under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren, had other apartments added to suit his own personal views, and perhaps complaints.
Since his time it has not been used as the residence of royalty; and if any observation can be made while on the present subject, it is this — that it is much to be regretted and deplored, that a palace like the one at present treated of, possessing every advantage of situation and size, should be suffered to fall into decay, and experience that neglect which will end in its ruin — or, what is more scandalous still, to be parcelled out into apartments for noble paupers and their friends and relatives, more especially when it is an admitted fact, that we as a nation possess no place, (always excepting Windsor Castle), deserving the name of a National Palace; and if one twentieth part of the money which has been thrown away on Buckingham House, had been expended in improving and repairing this edifice, we should have beheld a very different thing from the toy-shop to be seen in St. James's Park.
In this palace are deposited the celebrated pictures, called the Cartoons, for the reception of which a gallery was expressly prepared.
They are paintings in water colours from scriptural subjects, by the hand of Raphael Urbin, and are of such value, that when Louis the Fourteenth offered the sum of 100,000 louis d'ors for them, it was refused.
They were brought into this country by William the Third, are six in number, and on the following subjects:
|1. Death of Ananias||Acts, v. 5.|
|2. Elymas the Sorcerer struck blind||Acts, xiii. 11.|
|3. The miraculous draught of fishes||St. Luke, v. 6 & 7.|
|4. The people sacrificing to Paul and Barnabas at Lystra||Acts, xiv. 13..|
|5. St Paul preaching at Athens||Acts, xvii. 22.|
|6. Charge to St. Peter||St. John, xxi. 15–17.|
The park and gardens are exceedingly beautiful, of which but little doubt will exist, when it is told that Brown,
the chief gardener to his late Majesty George the Third, being desired by that sovereign to make whatever improvements he deemed fit in them,
is said to have replied, after having properly viewed them, "that any alteration could only be made for the worse,
and that no improvement could be made in the disposition in which they were then laid out."
There has been a very handsome church lately erected in Hampton village.
It is built near the water side, from which it presents an agreeable picture.
The path now leads us once again into Surrey, by a wooden bridge, by which means Hampton and the little village of East Moulsey are connected.
From this side of the river is presented a very pretty view of the house formerly belonging to Garrick, as also of the gardens, in which there is a Grecian rotunda, with a small portico in the Ionic order, containing a very good statue of Shakespeare from the chisel of Roubiliac.
Here then was passed some portion of the life of that excellent actor and exemplary man, David Garrick, who was not only supremely great in the line of his profession, but also in the possession of all those qualities on which we are taught to place a high value, as tending to the happiness of others as well as to the increase of our own rational pleasures.
In him was centred not merely the love and a perfect knowledge of the drama, but also of the muses, with just claims to an occasional wreath himself.
The force of wit, the brilliancy of an engaging conversation without its sting—possessing every talent that could adorn life, or make it engaging to others — he was the counterpart of that character Shakespeare has so divinely sketched, when he says —
... a merrier man,
Within the limit of becoming mirth,
I never spent an hour's talk withal.
His eye begets occasion for his wit;
For every object that the one doth catch,
The other turns to a mirth moving jest,
Which his fair tongue (conceit's expositor)
Delivers in such apt and gracious words,
That aged ears play truant at his tales,
And younger hearings are quite ravished;
So sweet and voluble is his discourse.
At this point the river Mole, which has its rise from several springs in the southern part of Surrey,
falls into the Thames between East and West Moulsey, they both taking their names from it.
To the latter place there is a ferry from Hampton.
The Mole is said to take its name from its creeping appearance, and also from its working its way in some places underground, as at a place called White Hill, where it is suddenly lost, when, after having concealed itself for some distance, it once more emerges into light at Leatherhead bridge.
In its course it passes through the vale of Holmesdale, the inhabitants of which having formerly had the good fortune to thrash the Danes, made the following distich, of which their descendants boast unto this day:
The vale of Holmesdall
Never wonne, ne never shall.
From Hampton, the country on the Surrey side is nothing more than one continued and extensive plain for several miles,
which has no particular claims on our attention; while the view on the opposite shore, being, bounded by the village of Hampton,
holds forth no very inviting prospect to the eye, nor is there anything worthy of research;
we therefore turn to the river itself, now agreeably diversified
by the number of little green isles that exist between Garrick's villa and Sunbury.
The pedestrian is pleasantly engaged in beholding their luxuriant foliage and waving boughs, and the high state of cultivation in which they are.
Thus employed we arrive at Sunbury, differing widely from its neighbour, Hampton, it being a very fine and extensive village,
not to say a sumptuous one.
It consists of one long street of large and well-built houses, mostly inhabited by a very respectable class of gentry.
It is prettily situated on an elevated site, overlooking the meadows of Surrey, to and from which there is a ferry, with a lock and weir close at hand.
Though much may be advanced in favour of this village, little can be said for its inns or public houses; and we would advise the pedestrian (for we speak as we have found), if he should choose to be ferried over the Thames for the purpose of making a closer inspection of Sunbury, by no means to make any stay there: should he, however, contrary to the advice now given, determine to take his chance, he will meet with bad fare and high charges.
But pass we on towards Walton, whose bridge, backed by the woods of Oatlands, may occasionally be seen in fine contrast
to the rather denuded country through which for the last few miles we have been straying.
As a town or village, of Walton much need not be said ; but the fineness of the country around, the situation in which it is placed, together with the numerous seats that embellish the neighbourhood, give it many claims to our attention.
Most writers seem to agree that Walton takes its name from a vallum or rampire of earth with a trench running from St. George's Hill, situate in this parish.
There are also traces of a camp, and it appears not to be doubted that the Romans had a station of some consequence at this place.
Salmon, however, in his Surr. 66. 71. supposes it the Tamese of Ravennas, the ramparts and graff being bigger than Roman, and that a vicinal way led to it from Guildford.
There is an old story about Middlesex having at one time joined this town, some three hundred years ago; but on account of a dreadful inundation, the old current of the Thames was changed, a church swallowed up, and much other damage done.
There is, however, nothing like a conclusive authority for such an assertion, and at the best it rests but on a feeble foundation.
The church makes a good appearance, is large and spacious, with a fine square tower; it is built of flints and plaster, possesses a nave, chancel, and aisles, and is rich in decoration, monuments, and inscriptions, raised and written to perpetuate the memory of the dead.
Near the altar lie the remains of Lilly, the astrologer; he had a house in or near Walton, was an ingenious and talented man, though a firm believer in astrology, and has given us the history of his own life, which is still looked upon as a very interesting piece of biography.
In the north aisle is a very fine monument to the memory of Richard Wiscount Shannon: it consists of the marble figure of a man in armour, in his right hand he holds a truncheon, while his left reclines upon some colours, about him are various implements of war, and at his feet a female is seen embracing an urn.
There is a very long inscription, in which is related the principal transactions of his life; such as his having been engaged in the battles of the Boyne and Lander, storming of Vigo, &c. &c.
He died on the 20th of December, 1740, aged 65 years.
In the chancel, and also well deserving of the strictest attention, are a couple of brass plates, the first of which is engraved on both sides,
but being suspended on a nail is capable of being turned round, and can therefore be very readily seen.
On one side is the figure of a man with a hat on his head, booted and spurred, sitting on a stag, in the stag's throat there being a sword; on the reverse side he is still on the stag's back, one hand holding by its horns, and with the other he is in the act of stabbing the animal; here he is represented without his hat, but retaining the boots and spurs.
On the other plate is represented himself, his wife, and their children, five sons and six daughters.
Manning, in his history of Surrey, gives the following traditionary story to account for the above-mentioned plates.
He says —
"John Selwyn, the person represented on one in the praying posture, and on the others in the act of killing the stag, was, as appears by the inscription, under keeper of the park at Otelands, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; the bugle horn, the mark of his office, is apparent in both figures.
This man, according to the sexton, was famous for his strength, agility, and skill in horsemanship, specimens of all which he exbibited before the queen at a grand stag hunt in that park, where attending, as was his duty of office, he, in the heat of the chase, suddenly leaped from his horse upon the back of the stag, both running at that time with their utmost speed, and not only kept his seat gracefully, in spite of every effort of the affrighted beast, but drawing his sword, with it guided him towards the queen, and coming near her, he plunged it in his throat, so that the animal fell dead at her feet.
This was thought sufficiently wonderful to be chronicled on his monument, and he is accordingly there pourtrayed in the act of stabbing the stag.
An extraordinary circumstance occurs in the plate, which has given rise to various conjectures.
The representation of the story here related is engraved on both sides of the same plate; in one Selwyn appears with a hat on his head, and in the other he is bareheaded, but with spurs on, a circumstance wanted in the former; from this double representation some have thought he performed this feat more than once, others with more probability attribute it to the first engraving not having been approved of by the family, as deficient either in likeness or some other circumstance, wherefore a second might be done, and to save the expense of a fresh plate, was executed on the back of the former, which opinion receives some confirmation from the four holes seen at the corners of the plate, by which it was fastened down, so that only one side could be viewed."
There is also in the church a highly curious figure of a woman with an iron bridle on her tongue, the following lines being written underneath,
Chester to Walton gives this bridle
To curb Women's tongues when they talk too idle.
The building is of very ancient date, notice being taken of it in the reign of Edward the First, at which time the living was valued
at fourteen marks a year.
The Manor of Walton, in the time of William the First, was in possession of Edward of Salisbury; but came into the hands of the Crown in the reign of Henry the Fifth, and so continued until granted away by Charles the First to certain private individuals, in whose descendants it most probably remains to this day.
The first bridge over the Thames from this spot was of wood; the present one is of brick, with a stone parapet, and consists of four principal arches, with many subsidiary ones on account of the winter floods; it is, in fact, a double bridge, whose long line of arches creates a feeling of surprise and pleasure in the mind of any person beholding it for the first time.
Thus much for Walton, whose neighbourhood is enlivened and enriched by the vicinity of the noble house and grounds of
Oatlands, the lodge belonging to which is close to the foot of the bridge.
This was formerly a palace, of some note in the reign of Henry the Eighth, his daughter Elizabeth, and during the time of the Stuarts.
Henry, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Charles the First, was born and baptized here; he died shortly after the Restoration, in his 20th year, at Whitehall.
It came to the Crown by purchase, in Henry the Eighth's time, whose successors stocked the park with deer, which they took great delight in hunting.
During the time of the Commonwealth it suffered much, having been allowed to fall almost into ruin.
It is now chiefly remembered as having been the residence of the late Duke of York, who restored it in some degree to its ancient state of splendour.
Besides the exquisite walks, shrubberies, and woods, which extend to the town of Weybridge, there is also a magnificent sheet of water, scarcely to be distinguished from the noble stream that rolls its waves at its side.
This favoured spot is now the property of Hughes Ball, Esq., from his riches known by the name of Golden Ball, who married a noted Italian dancer, named Mercandotti.
From an eminence nearly opposite the small and almost hidden village of Handford
there is a very delightful retrospective view to be had of the Thames, which makes a sudden bend towards Walton,
and as suddenly returns upon itself, almost surrounding a large piece of land, and giving it the appearance of a stately island,
enriched with beautiful verdure and supporting numerous herds of cattle that feed upon its herbage,
thus imparting a pleasing character to the scene, while the quantity of wood to the right,
where the eye once more surveys the fair domain of Oatlands, over which hastily glancing, we gaze for an instant on Walton's picturesque bridge,
and finally rest on the quiet picture of still life displayed in the snug farm-houses and homesteads lying on the Middlesex bank.
Fain would we linger near such scenes as this, and drink in their loveliness;
THE RIVER WEY, WEYBRIDGE
but time warns us to depart, and we resume our journey,
passing to the right the before-mentioned village of Handford, whence the river meanders in all directions until it receives the Wey,
a small stream that rises in Hampshire, and entering Surrey at Farnham, proceeds on to Godalming, thence to Guildford,
and after passing Newark Abbey, whose side is washed by its waters, at last falls into the Thames at Weybridge, to which it gives name.
At this place is a very pretty villa, worthy of notice on account of its having once been the residence of the Countess of Dorchester, daughter of the celebrated Sir Charles Sedley, and mistress to James the Second.
When Sir Charles was asked why he took part in the Revolution of 1688, he is said to have answered, with rather a bitter smile, that "James having made his daughter a countess, he was bound in gratitude to assist in making the son-in-law of his benefactor a king."
In the parish of Walton, and at the distance of three quarters of a mile from Chertsey, is the place known as Coway Stakes,
and which has occupied so much of the time and attention of the learned in all ages, as to whether it was at this point that Julius Caesar
forded the river when in search of Cassivelaun, whose territories he was about to invade.
Camden is decisive in his opinion as to this being the spot, and gives the following account of the manner of the passing of the Romans.
"On the other side of the river was drawn up a large army of Britons, defended by large stakes; but the Romans entered with so much intrepidity that the Britons could not stand the shock, but abandoned the place and fled."
He further says, "I cannot be mistaken in this place, the river being scarce six feet deep hereabouts; and the place, now called from these stakes, Coway Stakes."
Gale, in his Archaeologia, i. p.188, supports the opinion of Camden; but Doctor Owen attempts to controvert it, and says that the Tamesis mentioned by Caesar was the Medway. Arch. ii. 159.
With respect to certain stakes which have at different periods been weighed or dredged up, some have been of opinion, that they only formed part of a fishing weir used by the Britons; but in the first place, it is not at all likely that stakes of such a description as those that have hitherto been discovered, should have been used for any such purpose, consisting as they do of a very thick and extremely hard piece of wood, so hard indeed as to be able to turn the edge of an axe, having an immense weight of lead at one end, which being sunk in the bed of the river, kept such stake firmly fixed in its place.
But another objection to these stakes ever having formed a fishing weir is contained in Manning's History of Surrey (and it is by far the more important one).
It is this — "that, supposing such stakes to have been used for the purposes of a weir, why have not similar ones been discovered in different parts of the river?"
Considerable importance may be attached to this observation; for in the earlier stages of our history, when Britain consisted chiefly of trackless woods, the arts of civilization little known, and the great body of the people no better than barbarians; at such a period the sports of hunting and fishing must of necessity have been general among them — they would have been employed in self-defence against starvation; and if such weirs as is supposed to have been here erected were found to have conduced to the utility or benefit of the community, instead of having only one solitary instance of such a work, they, on the contrary, if not numerous, would at least have been much more frequent.
If, therefore, it cannot be supposed that they were placed for any such purpose as that last adverted to, for what could they have been intended?
Clearly not to prevent the incursions of neighbouring tribes, of whom they had little dread; and whose quarrels, when they did happen, were of too sudden a nature to suffer the completion of such a work as Coway Stakes.
No: there is every evidence to prove that they were placed to put a stop to the advance of a dangerous and haughty foe, to a strange and hostile nation, whose mode of warfare and well disciplined ranks left no hopes of success to the forlorn and disheartened Britons, but in extraordinary efforts, whether of force or stratagem.
That this was one of the means tried by that dispirited people there can remain no reasonable doubt, confirmed as it is by the many remains of broken Roman weapons of war which have from time to time been dug up in the immediate vicinity, betokening the place of an engagement, of which Caesar speaks as having occurred immediately on his having succeeded in effecting his landing.
In a short time the tourist reaches Shepperton, a sweet retired spot, surrounded by farm-houses and orchards,
and possessing a beautiful little church of picturesque appearance.
This village is worthy of note, independently of its rural situation, on account of its contiguity to Coway Stakes, and being supposed to have been the place of the general engagement which ensued on Caesar's landing, between that warrior and Cassivelaun.
The learned of course have differed, (as they indeed generally do in any important point, whether of history, divinity, or other matter,) as to this having been the actual place where such conflict occurred; but this portion of the country formed part of Cassivelaun's territories, and Caesar himself informs us, that on his having succeeded in fording the river, he entered into and triumphed in a general engagement over Cassivelaun.
Adjoining the town there is a meadow, called the War Close, in which arms of all kinds have at different times been dug up; which circumstance confirms, in some measure, the opinions before given.
On the opposite bank, in Surrey, stands Chertsey, which is connected with Shepperton by means of a bridge:
formerly, the only means of communication was by a ferry.
The first bridge was of wood, and built by permission of Henry IV.; the present one is of Purbeck stone, consisting of five principal arches, and two subsidiaries for the floods.
The work was done by contract, and the contractor having completed the number of arches he had engaged for, and they not reaching the Surrey shore, that county was obliged, at a great expense, to supply the deficiency.
Chertsey, which is about three quarters of a mile above Coway Stakes, next claims our attention: it has been a market-town since the time of Edward the First, and was at one period celebrated for the possession of a magnificent mitred abbey, whose abbot was privileged to sit in Parliament.
It was founded by Erchenwald, bishop of London, in the year 664, and was once burnt in an incursion of the Danes, who killed the abbot and ninety of the monks; but king Edgar refounded and enriched it with many liberal endowments.
Although it was one of the most splendid religious houses in the kingdom, there are now little or no remains of it.
From the ruins a causeway has been erected, reaching hence to Egham, and thus protects the low lands from the winter floods; the streets also are heightened, to save them from inundation.
It was in Chertsey Abbey the remains of Henry the Sixth were deposited, after his having been barbarously murdered in the Tower, here they remained until Henry the Seventh thought proper to remove them to Westminster.
His successor, Henry the Eighth, had it in contemplation to have made a saint of him, and for that purpose applied to Pope Julius; but they differing as to the amount of money to be given as a consideration to the said pope for managing the business, these worthies disagreed, and the matter was carried no further.
The old church, which was pulled down in the year 1806, was built at the same time with the abbey.
Here lived Cowley, the poet; and here also he died.
The house in which he resided was known by the name of the Porch House, from a porch projecting into the street, which has since been removed.
This house was some time ago purchased by Mr. Clark, the late Chamberlain of London, who took especial care to preserve the apartments, known as those in which our poet chiefly resided, sacred from the violation and intrusion of the repairer and beautifier.
Cowley was a staunch supporter of the royal cause, and also a sufferer for the same; and like many others, when better days dawned, seems to have been neglected, or thought himself so, by those who had the power, and who ought to have rewarded and caressed him.
On his death he was honoured with a sumptuous funeral, perhaps as a compensation for the little notice taken of him in his lifetime; and now lies buried in Westminster Abbey.
Charles the Second, who had failed to recompense him while living, requited him on his decease in a way too often done by that thoughtless monarch, by saying, "there had not ever lived a better man than Mr. Cowley".
In Chertsey parish, but in the manor of Laleham, in Middlesex, lies a quantity of land, about one hundred and sixty acres in extent,
which goes by the name of Laleham Burr-way, the pasturage of which belongs exclusively to the owners of property within the said manor,
and may be let by them to any person they please.
It is one of those heavenly spots, few on the earth, and far, very far between, paying no taxes of any kind to either parish.
The right is divided into about three hundred parts, called Farrers, on which some are entitled to feed a horse, on others a cow and calf.
These lots are often sold totally distinct from the estate to which they originally belonged.
This tract of land has been enclosed, and was specially exempted in Chertsey Inclosure Act, which was passed in the year 1808.
In winter, when the water is high, the cows being collected together by a cow-herd, swim over to their pasture.
This piece of land is said to have been granted to the inhabitants of the manor of Laleham by the monks of Chertsey, in recompense for a timely supply of provisions furnished to them in a season of scarcity, the inhabitants of Chertsey having neglected or refused so to do, or at all to aid and assist them.
ST ANNE'S HILL
At the distance of about a mile from the town is St. Ann's Hill, on which formerly stood a chapel;
it is a highly romantic spot, free from the noise and bustle of the world, and also from its cares, pollutions, and its crimes.
From its summit is presented a commanding view into six different counties, laying open a scene of such a rural, picturesque, and happy character, that the mind is gradually solaced and softened by its influence into the indulgence of the most amiable feelings that the complicated nature of our system affords.
While in the enjoyment of such feelings, how sweetly sound (borne on the breeze) the village bells of Shepperton.
Had not all our best affections been awakened within us before, all our holiest associations, it wanted but the magic of these sounds, visiting us as they did in solitude and silence, to have sufficiently called them forth.
What emotions of the heart do they not conjure up! — what remembrance of things long past do they not recall! — all our childish enjoyments, all our school-boy days, all that we have ever loved and love, are brought together, thus forming a chaos as inexplicable as it is pleasing!
How often has it been our lot, cast on the grassy turf, to surrender ourselves up to the saddening, softening, happy, beloved recollections their melody calls forth! Oh! it is not too much to name that melody which acts so feelingly on the senses, making such deep inroad on the human frame, and leading us gently on to thoughts and acts in which it would be happy for us were we more frequently to indulge, and moulding our minds for the receiving of good impressions that lead us to moralize, and find
Books in the running brooks, sermons in stones,
And good in every thing.
Walking over a few fields towards Thorp, in order to avoid the necessity of again visiting Chertsey bridge, we arrive at a ferry that takes us to Laleham, to which, from Chertsey, the Thames runs almost in a straight line,
and, with the exception of an occasional gentle bend, so continues till it reaches the town of Staines,
so called, it is apprehended, from the stone put up at a short distance from the town,
to mark the extent of the jurisdiction of the city of London up the river, to which place the chief officers of that city,
once a year, make an expedition by water, for the purpose of catching the young swans, which is done by means of nets,
when, having put the city mark upon them, they once more give them their liberty: this is called swan-hopping.
Thus far the city lays claim to all swans having the mark upon them, and any person meddling therewith is guilty of felony.
The Romans undoubtedly were acquainted with this place; and Stukely gives it as his opinion, that they surrounded it with ditches; and he traces some appearance of a Roman road hence, in the direction of Turnham Green.
In its very early history Staines was not exempt from misfortunes, for in the year 999 the Danes, under the command of Unlaf, laid waste the whole country hereabout; and not satisfied with what they had already done, they once more paid it a visit in the year 1009, and did not leave it till their ships, wanting repair, warned them to depart.
This town, conjointly with Egham, on the other shore, has been truly unfortunate in its bridges, of which the first and best was of wood, erected in the reign of Edward the Third.
After undergoing many repairs, it becoming dangerous, a bridge of stone was begun to the east of the old one, in the year 1791, and was opened in 1796; but the piers having sunk in such a manner as to cause the centre arch to crack, it was obliged to be shut up in the following year, and was never afterwards used.
This structure cost nine thousand pounds.
In 1801, a contract was entered into for the erection of one of iron, for the sum of four thousand six hundred and twenty-nine pounds, which was opened in 1803, but gave way the same year, in consequence of some excavations having been made, as was alleged, on the Middlesex side.
Another iron bridge was now resolved upon, and was accordingly built, being supported by eight rows of strong wooden piles, but though that lasted longer than its three predecessors, yet it was considered unsafe in 1829, and a new one of stone was near completion when the author passed up the stream.
It has since been opened, and we heartily wish it may stand as long as its appearance would warrant us in believing it will.
Egham is of ancient date, and at one time belonged to the abbey at Chertsey; it does not carry on any trade, but is chiefly supported by travellers,
being one of the great thoroughfares to the West.
The church is of recent erection, the old one having been taken down in the year 1820.
Among many beautiful monuments that were formerly in the old church, but which have been removed into the new one, are two worthy of attention; one to the honour and memory of Sir John Denham, father of the poet of that name, and one of the judges of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, in the reign of Charles the First; the other being in memory of his two wives.
Upon the one, Sir John is figured as rising from the dead at the general resurrection; while upon the other, his first wife is represented as bearing a child in her arms, the second wife having her back turned towards her.
There are some alms houses in the town, for five old women, each house having an orchard attached to it.
Here is part of a noble causeway, which had its commencement at Chertsey, being kept up for a protection against the floods of winter, when the waters of the Thames, running high, would (were it not for this preventive) overstep its limits, and destroy the country around.
Egham has, for some years past, been enlivened by frequent horse races, which, it is to be hoped, may meet with such encouragement as will tend to their continuance, furnishing as they do a source of much innocent pleasure and amusement to the inhabitants in general.
Leaving Egham, we shortly pass, to the left, Rumney Mead, whose ancient name was Runimed.
This meadow has long been famed on account of its having been the spot where the great barons of England, who had assembled an army to ensure for themselves and others the observance of their several rights and privileges by King John, gained from that monarch his reluctant consent and signature to Magna Charta.
It is believed that the charter was actually signed and ratified on a little islet lying opposite this meadow, from which circumstance it derives its name of Magna Charta Island, and all the importance to be gained from such an event.
If it were our habit to moralize (which we confess it is not), here would have been abundant occasion for the indulgence of such a feeling; nevertheless, who can suffer his footsteps to stray over a place where has occurred one of the chief transactions in our history as a nation — where the great bulwarks of our liberty were first firmly established, and the foundations of British freedom first laid — without pausing for a moment to gaze on this spot with the mingled feelings of interest, veneration, and regard, awakened by such recollections.
How peaceful is the scene before us! how precious in its reminiscences and itself! The lowing herd now occupies the place where formerly stood the mail-clad warrior, and a solitary angler walks the banks where stamped the proud and mighty war-steed.
The isle itself, for a moment the seat of royalty, irresolution, and debasing fear, is now the abode of the hardy fisherman, or the retreat of the timid swan; but peace is around the habitation of the former, and the latter builds her nest in safety, and hatches her brood unscared by any thing more dangerous to her rest than the sighing wind, or the ripple of the waves of that stream over which she loves to glide.
Near to this island, and close to Ankerwyke House (formerly a benedictine nunnery, founded by Montfichets in the reign of Henry the Second),
the river Coln joins the Thames.
The Coln has its rise at Chesham, in Buckinghamshire, whence running through great part of Hertfordshire, it afterwards forms the boundary line of the counties of Middlesex and Buckinghamshire, visiting, in its course, the towns of Rickmansworth, Hertford, Uxbridge and Colnbrook, and flowing thence to where it loses its name in the chief of all our rivers.
The latter town all authorities agree in setting down as having been the Pontes of Antoninus; and Camden says,
"There is no place on the road from Gallena to London with which that name better suits; for here the Coln is divided into four channels, joined by as many bridges for the convenience of travellers, from which it plainly took its name."
At the place just mentioned there are many little islands, where the Danes (having retreated on suffering a defeat from Alfred) intrenched themselves; nor could he drive them hence, being obliged to raise the siege on account of a scarcity of provisions.
A little further on, at the edge of the county of Surrey, stands the ancient seat of the Denhams, known by the name of Cooper's Hill,
and which Sir John Denham has immortalized in a poem of that name.
From this spot is beheld an enchanting prospect over the greater part of Berkshire, of which the Castle of Windsor forms a prominent feature, and is seen towering over the meadows stretched at its foot in all the majesty of beauty, strength, and pride; the river also winding amidst all the varieties of the most beautiful landscape, its banks fringed with every description of foliage, and the hills, plains, and valleys, on either side, dotted with magnificent seats, exquisite cottages, meat farm houses, and the church spires of its villages, imparting to the whole that to which no description can do sufficient justice.
Below me woods unnumbered rise,
Beautiful in various dyes.
Descending from this eminence, the path leads us on towards Datchet, having on our way had occasion to notice several very pretty houses,
built in the cottage style, which skirt the margin of the river in several places between Egham and the above-mentioned village,
which lies in Buckinghamshire, and has a bridge over the Thames, built in the reign of Queen Anne; it is of brick, having a wooden parapet.
In the immediate neighbourhood is Ditton Park, a seat built by a secretary of James the First, and is well deserving the observation of the curious.
As we near Windsor there is little extent of prospect; yet what is to be seen is extremely beautiful: at every turn of the stream some fresh object starts into life, of the existence of which no previous idea could have been formed, nor its beauty properly felt, unless seen.
Wandering on, engaged in beholding a succession of pleasing objects, we approach the classic seat of Eton, and the ancient and noble palace of our monarchs.
To seek to do justice to either, would exceed our humble powers of description, and would fill volumes, were we to aim thereat.
Some idea may, however, be formed of the usefulness of the one, and the magnificence of the other, even from the short notice it will be but barely justice to take of these celebrated seats of learning and of power.
And, first, of Eton, which, with its buildings and play grounds, forms a pretty and interesting view, as seen from the Thames;
the scene being shut in on the other side by the town of Windsor, and the elevated site of its castle.
Eton is separated from Windsor by a bridge, and by the like means the College is separated from Eton village, which consists of one long street; of this school, the finest in all the British dominions, the following account may prove acceptable to the reader.
It was founded by Henry the Sixth, the date of such foundation being the 11th of October, 1440, the first stone having been laid on the 3d of July, 1441.
It was founded by the name of "The blessed Marie of Etone beside Wyndesore."
There is a charter dated at Wyndesore the twelfth of September, 1441; another at Shene in the same year, but of a different date, it being October the 21st; and a third on the 25th of March, 1442.
It is worth while to note the care and concern the unfortunate founder seems to have had in respect of it, as may be gathered from certain parts of his letters patent, from one of which we shall take the liberty of quoting.
"Laying aparte superfluity of too curious works of entayle and busy moulding, I will that both mi sayde colleges be edified of the most substantial and best abyding stuffe, of stone, ledd, glass, and iron, that may good be had and provided thereto; and that the walls of the sayde college of Eton of the outer court, and of the walls of the gardens about the precinte be made of herd stone of Kent."
Henry also granted arms to this college, which have remained unaltered unto this day, the field of the said arms being sable.
It would appear that this college had like to have been stifled in its very birth, in consequence of the aversion entertained against it by Edward the Fourth, on account of the dislike borne by him to the memory of its founder, and who succeeded in obtaining a bull from Pope Pius the Second for dissolving it, and uniting it to the college of Windsor; but owing to the intrepid behaviour of William of Westbury, the then provost, it was preserved, Edward having been persuaded to write for the dissolution of the union, as he had before done for the union itself.
This college was founded for the maintenance of a provost, vice-provost, and seven fellows, one of whom to be vice-provost, and to instruct seventy King's scholars, those being so called who are on the foundation, who, when fit, are elected to King's College, Cambridge, being then provided for by scholarships, fellowships, &c.
Beside these there are generally about two or three hundred other scholars here, it being one of the best public seminaries in the kingdom.
The collegiate edifice consists of two quadrangles, with a statue of its founder in bronze, given by Dr. Godolphin, one of its provosts.
The school yard is enclosed by the chapel, schools, dormitory, master's chambers, and the eastern line of buildings.
There is a tower in the centre, forming the principal entrance to the cloisters.
Then the lesser quadrangle consists of the cloisters where the fellows lodge, part of the provost's lodge, and the library, beneath which there is a flight of steps ascending to the hall.
In the centre tower of the first quadrangle, called Lupton's Tower, is a clock, which was put up in the year 1765.
The present upper school cost £2,286 9s. 14d. and was erected in the provostship of Dr. Cradock; it forms the western face of the larger quadrangle, and is supported on that side by an arcade, with double columns of the Doric order; the whole structure presenting an elevation worthy of its great designer, the celebrated Sir Christopher Wren.
The library and lobby are both used as school-rooms.
The lower school is in the building on the north side of this quadrangle.
The library is of great extent, and is a very valuable collection.
Among the many benefactors to it are the names of Provost Godolphin; Dr. Waddington, Bishop of Chester, (who was a fellow of this college, and gave a fine collection of books, to the value of £2,000 sterling); Mr. Mann, Master of the Charter House; and Richard Topham, Esq., Keeper of the Records in the Tower, whose executors presented to the college a very handsome collection of drawings, after the antique, which he had formed in Italy.
Indeed we cannot but lament the necessity for the conciseness of our remarks and observations on the places, towns, and villages of which we have attempted some feeble description; but having been rather limited for time, the observations upon them are more sparing than the subjects treated of deserve.
But to resume. In the time of Henry the Eighth, the annual value of the possessions of the college were £1,066 16s. 9½d., they are now supposed to yield £5,000
The ecclesiastical preferments in its gift are twenty-two vicarages and fourteen rectories.
The play-grounds, or fields for the scholars' recreation, are situated north of the cloisters, by the side of which flows the Thames.
They have other grounds for the playing of cricket and the indulgence of various sports.
They have here a triennial ceremony called the Montem, which takes place on the Tuesday in Whitsun week,
The boys proceed from Eton in procession (clothed respectively in the most fantastic dresses,) to Salt Hill,
a small eminence at the distance of two or three miles from their school.
At this place (called Salt Hill from the ceremony long since performed here) they dine, and it may be as well to observe that the place is celebrated for having some of the finest and most spacious inns in the kingdom.
In an excellent book which gives an account of Eton College, it says —
"A Latin prayere is afterwards read on the mount, and the procession returns in the same manner as it had set out."
The head boy of the King's scholars takes the lead, as captain, bearing in his hand a truncheon, having on it the motto "Pro More et Monte", which is likewise inscribed on the colours borne by another boy.
When at Salt Hill, some collect money from the visitors, who are in general very numerous, while others range the country in different directions for the same purpose as far as they please, provided they keep within the county of Buckingham, the custom not permitting them to collect salt out of that county.
The sum so gathered often exceeds £1,000 in amount; after defraying the necessary expenses, the remainder goes to the King's scholar who is captain of the school, as an outfit for college.
It would not be well to close this short and insufficient account of so noble a school, without adverting, in a sentence or two, to the numbers of eminent men who have here received the foundation of that learning and those talents which have so justly entitled them to become the admiration and wonder of mankind.
To select a few would be an injustice to the many; and to name them all would require volumes to enrol them: suffice it to say, that if religion and sound morality (so often inculcated in those who have been fortunate enough to have received an education here, the effects of which have been so well experienced by the world), can entitle it to the good wishes of every christian and lover of his country, it cannot fail to possess them; and while worth and true religion dwell in this favoured land, it cannot fail to prosper; but should these characteristics of Britain ever quit her shores, then, and not till then, we may say, farewell Eton.
Beside the college chapel, Eton possesses a chapel of ease, which was consecrated in the year 1769 or 1770; it also contains charity schools for a certain number of boys and girls; but this latter is no longer a distinction in any parish in Britain, the spirit of true charity having long since taught her children to provide for the poor and needy in time of trouble.
Separated from Eton only by the bridge before mentioned stands the town of Windsor, which has long been celebrated for its magnificent castle,
and for having been the seat of so many of our kings, as also their place of burial.
A description of the whole would much exceed the limits prescribed to the present volume; but to give such an one as will serve to convey some idea of its magnitude and extent will be our especial province.
But, first, of the town, which is very old: it stands on the side of a hill, and formerly belonged to the Abbot of Westminster, who exchanged it to William the Conqueror for other lands given in lieu thereof.
It was formerly called Wyndsore, such name having been given, as is conjectured from the nature of its winding shore.
It figured at an early period, there having been a famous pass here in the time of the Saxons.
It now consists of several fine streets, well paved and lighted, having a bridge of wood across the Thames, seemingly very old and dilapidated, and not making that fine appearance worthy of the town and stream which it crosses.
It first sent members to Parliament in the reign of Edward the First, and is governed by a mayor, aldermen, burgesses, recorder, town clerk, &c.; it possesses a fine guildhall, built of Purbeck stone, erected in the year 1686, at the expense of the corporation.
Windsor manor, besides other valuable lands, is corporation property; they also possess many immunities and privileges, the grants of successive monarchs.
Too much cannot be said in praise of its natural situation, being on an eminence rising out of the most fertile plains, watered by the most refreshing of streams, and possessing every advantage the most extravagant fancy could desire or conceive.
Windsor was protected by a castle before the Conquest; but our first William undoubtedly improved and enlarged it.
Henry the First, third son of the Conqueror, kept great state here.
It suffered much in the reign of John, the Barons having besieged, but did not succeed in taking it.
Edward the Third was born in it, from which circumstance he took the surname of Windsor; he very much enlarged the castle, and had a great partiality for it.
It owes him a debt of gratitude for first bringing it into notice; he built the palace chapel and the Keep tower.
Edward the Fourth rebuilt St. George's chapel.
Henry the Seventh and Queen Elizabeth also added to it considerably, and latterly not less than three millions sterling has been expended thereon.
Edward the Third very much enlarged the castle, and here it was that he instituted the Order of the Garter.
During some portion of his time the kings of France and Scotland were confined within its walls.
The magnificent terrace, which is one of the finest promenades in the world, was formed under the direction of Queen Elizabeth; but Charles the Second completed it, by carrying it round the east and south sides.
This terrace is 1,876 yards in length, and is so well drained as always to be fit for walking on, even after much rain.
Charles the Second added much to the former state of the castle, it having fallen into some decay during the commonwealth, when very little respect was paid to any thing savouring of royalty.
It seems to have been the peculiar delight of most of our sovereigns, and certainly it is one of the brightest gems the nation possesses.
It is calculated to be a mile in circumference, and seems to have reached this extent even as early as the reign of Edward the Third, who, for eleven years and upwards, employed workmen upon it without ceasing.
As it at present stands, it is divided into two courts; from their centre rises the round tower or Keep, which is a commanding object for many miles around; from the roof of which is beheld a scene of which it would be useless to attempt a description, for no pen could properly do justice to such a picture.
St. George's Chapel divides the lower court into two parts, the north side is occupied in apartments set out for the dean and canons.
On the south-west side reside the poor knights of Windsor.
The upper court is a regular square; on the north side are the royal apartments, St. George's Chapel and Hall.
In the area is a fine equestsian statue of Charles the Second.
There are two parks contiguous to the Castle, known as the Great and Little Parks; the former is about fourteen miles in compass,
the latter between three and four.
It would be needless to say they present every feature of the most perfect park scenery; for where so much attention has been bestowed on the seat of royalty, the grounds surrounding it are sure not to be neglected.
Windsor Forest is a large tract of land upwards of fifty miles in extent, and comprising within its bounds many beautiful seats belonging to the nobility and gentry, much too numerous to mention; the whole forming a fitting place for the residence and amusements of the sovereign of one of the first nations in the world.
Pope has some beautiful lines in his poem of Windsor Forest, which are very applicable; he says —
Here waving groves a chequered scene display,
And part admit, and part exclude the day;
As some coy nymph her lover's warm address,
Nor quite indulges, nor can quite repress.
There interspers'd in lawns and opening glades,
Thin trees arise that shun each other's shades.
Here in full light the russet plains extend:
There wrapt in clouds the bluish hills ascend.
E’en the wild heath displays her purple dyes,
And 'midst the desert fruitful fields arise,
That, crown'd with tufted trees and springing corn,
Like verdant isles, the sable waste adorn.
It was a beautiful moonlight night when we quitted Windsor on our way to Maidenhead, which is but a few miles further.
Nothing could exceed the appearance of the scenery around, radiant as it was in the beams, of the goddess of night; in truth, it dwells upon the memory as a fairy scene—so enchanting in reality, so lovely in review.
On the Buckinghamshire side is beheld fine meadows, that lie in all the subdued beauty the rays of Diana can confer, stretching far away, till they are screened from further curiosity by the lengthening shades of the luxuriant hedges that bound their course; on the other side were seen the fair woods of Windsor, silvered o'er by the glorious moonlight, whose image, reflected in the face of the shining waters, seemed redolent with joy, and dancing with gladness over the silent but ever-rolling waves; while in perspective, and towering over all, is beheld the monarch of the scene, "Standing, like a giant, proudly pre-eminent".
To what reflections does not such a picture give birth! What reminiscences does it not recall! Seated on a rising ground the whole is before us.
Looking towards Windsor, we have to our left the plains of Buckinghamshire; on our right the woody heights of Berkshire, the river rippling and foaming between, Windsor town and castle bounding the view.
Oh! as those distant turrets catch the eye, what indefinable sensations arise within the breast! What thoughts of former times break in upon the mind, which inadequately find vent in something like the following:
I gaz'd upon thy towers, and I thought
On all the ages that had pass'd away
Since thou wert first created, and as nought
Are many generations, and their clay
Is undistinguishable — thou hast seen
The mighty and the feeble in decay.
And though o'er thee have cent'ries pass'd, I ween
Thou hast not yet seen thy meridian day.
Thou stand'st a pile of grandeur, fit to tell
Thy nation's glory — and thou dost it well.
I could have wept when first those towers gray,
Hoar with the lapse of ages, met my sight;
All seemed so still, so silent, while the ray
Of the chaste moon shed forth her soft’ning light;
Flooding the whole with glory.
Where are they,
The myriads who have pass'd thy halls among,
Whose mighty deeds have hallow'd their decay,
And o'er their brows the wreath of laurel flung?
All, all have vanish'd; thou alone can'st tell
Thine and their nation's glory—and thou dost it well.
It is with reluctance that such scenes as these are left; but the little tower of Bray church withdraws us from their further contemplation.
Bray is famed for the versatile character of its vicar, who was a protestant in the reign of Henry the Eighth, a catholic in that of Mary, and once again a protestant when her sister Elizabeth wielded the sceptre.
On being reproached for his inconsistency, he is said to have answered, that he meant to be consistent in one thing, which was, to live and die vicar of Bray.
This little village lies in Berkshire, whose small gray church and white cottages present an agreeable feature of English landscape.
On the north wall of the chancel of the church are the two following epitaphs.
The first is underneath the figure of a man, whose hands rest on a skull, while near him stands his wife:
If what I was thou seekest to know,
These lynes my character will shew;
Those benefits that God me lent,
With thankes I tooke, and freely spent;
I scorned what plainess could not get,
And next to treason hated debt;
I loved not those who stirred up strife,
True to my friend, and to my wife;
The latter here by me I have,
We had one bed, and have one grave.
My honesty was such, that I
When death came, feared not to die.
On the other, underneath the figures of a man and his wife, who are both in a kneeling posture, is the following:
When Oxford gave thee two degrees in Art,
A love possessed thee, master of my heart.
Thy College Fellowship thou leftst for myne,
And nought but death could separate thee from thyne.
Thirty-five years we lived in wedlock's bands,
Conjoyned in our hearts as well as hands.
Death the bodies of best friends divides,
And in the earth's close womb their reliques hides;
Yet here they are not lost, but sowne, that they
May rise more glorious at the Judgment Day.
Near unto Bray there is a small island, known by the name of Monkey Island, said to have received such name
from the circumstance of two small pavilions or summer houses which were here erected being hung with tapestry,
having the figures of divers monkeys worked thereon.
This is a pretty spot, well adapted for the seclusion of those willing, for a few hours at least, to retire from the bustle of the world, and for which purpose the pavilions before-named seem to have been erected.
The Thames, which had flowed from Windsor to the above spot in a gentle bend, so continues until it reaches the town of Maidenhead, having passed several beautiful islets in its course, that being generally adorned with the richest foliage, add a charm and freshness to the scene, not more desired than agreeable.
Within a short distance of Maidenhead is beheld a fine view of its bridge, which is of stone, and consists of thirteen arches.
Its first bridge was of wood, and built in the year 1297.
The pier of the large arch of the present structure divides the two counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
The ancient name of this town was Ealington or Elyngton.
Stow says it took its present name from the circumstance of 11,000 virgins having here undergone martyrdom, with St. Usurla at their head; but Simondus, a very eminent Jesuit, tells a very different and much more probable story, and gives the following as a reasonable solution of its origin.
He says — "In some very ancient manuscript I fell in with the words Usurla and Undecemilla, which is the name of one virgin;" and further, "that the monks, through ignorance, changed it into Undecim mille, eleven thousand."
This town was of no account in former times, and is chiefly of note in the present as being a great thoroughfare to the north-western part of England.
Before the road was diverted from Cookham, (in which direction it formerly ran,) it was scarcely known; but that circumstance immediately gave it all the importance which is to be gained from becoming the constant resort of travellers.
It was formerly governed by a warden and burgesses, but it now has a mayor and corporation.
The town consists of one long street, running in a direct line from the bridge, which connects it with Buckinghamshire, with several smaller ones branching therefrom.
It possesses a court-house, gaol, and chapel, which last is peculiar to the corporation; the choice of its minister being in the inhabitants generally, such minister not being obliged to attend the Bishop's visitation.
There are several good inns in the town, and one at the foot of the bridge on the Buckinghamshire side, called the Orkney Arms, where travellers will find their charges more reasonable than the appearance of the house and the accommodation afforded might lead them to expect.
At this point the pathway again changes into Berkshire.
TAPLOW AND CLIVEDEN
Immediately on bidding farewell to the last-mentioned town, the scene assumes a new and romantic feature;
and it must be observed, that the two counties seem to have changed sides; for instead of the hills, valleys, and woods,
observable in Berkshire prior to our reaching Maidenhead, we have now in their stead extensive plains,
adorned here and there with clusters of beautiful whitewashed cottages, looking the more neat and pretty
from the clustering rose-trees in full bloom that generally adorn them.
On the contrary, Buckinghamshire, in lieu of its plains, presents rocky heights and falling fountains, with abundance of wood.
Leaving Maidenhead, we approach the beautiful seats of Cliefton and Taplow, both of which were formerly the property of the Earl of Inchiquin.
Cliefton House, or, as it was anciently called, Cliefden, was erected by Williers, Duke of Buckingham, in the reign of Charles the Second.
This house was sometime the residence of Frederick, Prince of Wales, the father of George the Third, and it was here that Thompson's play of Sophonisba was first performed.
The two houses above mentioned, though totally distinct as to the manner in which they are built, differing widely also as they do in all their arrangements, and in the laying out of the grounds, are yet perfect specimens of their kind; the former as a castellated mansion, fit only, by its extent and domestic arrangements, for the habitation of princes; while Taplow is a delightful scene of cottage simplicity and rural ease.
Instead of lordly terraces and wide and well-drained walks, is beheld serpentining ways through its numerous woods, and the murmur of rivulets and streams surprise and please the passer-by, while, by their presence is given that notion of retirement and rusticity, so often desired, but so seldom enjoyed, by the inhabitants of large towns.
Quitting this assemblage, alike of the romantic and sublime, we descend from its wooded heights and pleasing summits to gain once more the banks of our favourite stream.
The appearance of the little river Wick, here reminds us of Hedsor Lodge, the seat of Lord Boston, the grounds surrounding which are laid out in a very superior style, and form a fit accompaniment to the scenes of Clieften and Taplow.
It is built on an ascent, from whence is gained a beautiful prospect, if abundance of wood and water, diversified in every form that nature in her most wanton freaks could imagine, deserves that name.
The little stream just mentioned rises above West Wycombe, and after running but a few miles distance, alike loses its name and being in the absorbing waters of the Thames.
Let us now turn our attention to Cookham, a village very pleasantly seated on the river's side,
which, at this point assumes the shape of a horse shoe, and, after passing this village, turns suddenly to the right,
and so continues until it reaches the town of Marlow.
But to return.
Cookham is prettily situated in a very fertile plain; it is composed of several small streets, but has nothing in particular to distinguish it from the many quiet sequestered, and, let us hope, happy spots which characterise not only the banks of this noble river, but the face of the country generally.
In the church, on the south wall, beneath a monument of alabaster, is seen the figure of a man in armour, while near him stands the figure of his wife, as also those of his two sons and three daughters, the following lines being subscribed on the tomb:
To Christall Skies let fame resound the vertous praise aright,
Of Arthur Balham, here depicted in alabaster bright;
Of antient race he did descend, and thereto as you heare,
He took a wife, a worthy dame, Alice, the daughter deare
Of Sir John Browne, in Oxfordshire, a Knight of worthy fame,
Of whom six children did proceed, as herein this doth name.
John, the first, deceased is, Christopher next the heire,
Elizabeth and Columbree, Ursurla and Elumere.
Soe this dame Alice hath erect this work of costly stone,
For her sweet Arthur Balham's sake, though he be dead and gone.
Farewell renowned true Esquire, my husband and my friend,
I hope in heaven to meet with thee, when all things here have end.
There is a horse ferry from Cookham to the opposite shore.
Following the course of the stream, we pass a range of hills to the left, known as the Quarry Hills, whose appearance, covered as they are to the very summit, with foliage of every kind and description, is most imposing, adding a charm to the scene, at once unexpected and pleasing.
The paths of these woods, which we had not time to unravel, seem by no means strange to the lads and lasses of the neighbouring villages, many of whom we met in boats, merrily making their way for the woods, there to spend in harmless mirth a happy, and, we hope, a deserved holiday.
It was amusing to hear (after they had landed and made way into the deep recesses of these wooded heights) the echo of their voices, now calling for their companions, lost in the trackless maze, and then the loud peals of laughter, occasioned by their sudden and unexpected recognition.
Absorbed in beholding the magnificence of these hills, and our attention fixed by observing the happiness of its human inhabitants, the ground is insensibly passed over, and we arrive at a part of the river within a short distance of Great Marlow, studded over with numerous little aits, on which oziers are grown, whose wild luxuriance imparts an additional charm, which, to be properly felt, must be seen.
These aits form, in fact, a complete Archipelago, but on a very small scale.
The town of Great Marlow, at which we now arrive, derives its name from the soil in the neighbourhood, which is a kind of chalk or marl,
useful as manure: its ancient name was Marlaw.
It is a market town of some extent, consisting of one principal street, with several minor ones branching therefrom.
It sent members to Parliament from the year 1299, until that of 1308, when such privilege was taken away, nor was it restored until 1622.
This town formerly boasted possession of a brass and copper manufactory, at a place called the Temple Mills, though now gone to decay: at the present time its inhabitants are chiefly employed in the manufacturing of paper and the making of lace.
Like every other town in Britain, (to her credit be it said), Marlow is not without its charities, of which it possesses many too mumerous to mention.
Its church is a gothic structure, having a wooden spire.
Among the many monuments within its walls is one to the memory of Sir Miles Hobart, who was killed by the overturning of his coach, while in London for the purpose of attending his parliamentary duties, he being member for Marlow; this was in the year 1632, and the event, as it happened, is pourtrayed in basso relievo, and is well worthy a minute attention.
When the army of the Parliament, during the civil wars, occupied Marlow, some of the troops were quartered in the church; and it may also be as well to mention another circumstance as connected with that eventful period — namely, that when Charles the First passed through the town a prisoner, on his way to London, the bells were rung for joy; and there is an item in the parish books of five shillings paid to the ringers for that service: this was in the year 1647.
Marlow, till very lately, had communication with the opposite shore by means of a wooden bridge, erected by subscription; it had one of a similar kind as early as the reign of Edward the Third; a suspension bridge of iron was in progress at the time the author visited the place, which has since been finished and opened to the public.
It is a very handsome affair, and is highly ornamental as well as useful to the town from which it takes its name.
Leaving Marlow in our rear, and once again roaming "free as mountain air", a fine view is gained of Bisham Abbey, the seat of the Vansittarts.
It stands on the Berkshire side of the river, looking full to the town of Marlow, and on a general view has an imposing appearance.
Bisham manor was given by Robert de Ferrarii to the Knights Templars, who built a preceptory.
From them it passed to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, thence into the Hoby family, and afterwards into that of the Montacutes, who built a priory.
Queen Elizabeth often visited the house, and there is still shown an apartment which goes by her name.
The appearance of the abbey and the scenery around is peculiarly soft and pleasing; it stands in a lawn which slopes from the side of the Thames towards Bisham church on its right, whose square tower is not the least attractive part of the scene.
At its back are seen lofty woods, while in the front the lawn before-mentioned falls gently down to the river's brink; and on the opposite shore are fertile meadows and shady bowers, the scene being terminated by Marlow town and bridge, and the range of Chiltern hills.
It was in the year 1138 that William, Earl of Salisbury, founded the priory above-mentioned, of which Bisham church is the remains.
In it was buried that unfortunate youth Edward, Earl of Warwick, who was basely murdered on Tower Hill, in the reign of Henry the Seventh, who being at that time in negociation with the Court of Spain for a marriage between his son Arthur and Catherine of Spain, and that Court objecting that his title was not perfect while the unfortunate Edward remained alive, he was accordingly doomed to death, and in him perished the last heir male of the House of Plantagenet.
Passing onward we behold many beautiful seats, and among them that of Temple Hall, worthy of observation,
as well for the situation in which it is placed, as for the advantages it derives from art.
The appearance of things at this point is peculiarly interesting ; on whichsoever side the eye turns is beheld lovely groves, romantic cottages, green lawns, blissful bowers; while the water rolling gently on, softly murmuring as it flows, gives an agreeable finish to so excellent a picture.
The number, too, of ladies and gentlemen who are to be seen in their skiffs enjoying the gentle motion of their fairy vessels as they are slowly wafted over the silver wave, or engaged in their punts, "studious the finny creatures to deceive", all these tend to throw a charm over the scene more easily felt than described.
But Hurley is before us, a small village of Berkshire, either of Saxon or Danish origin.
It is mentioned in Domesday book as the property of Geoffrey Mandeville, doubtless a gift for the eminent services rendered by that Norman warrior to William, at Hastings.
This Geoffrey founded a monastery, which, in the reign of Elizabeth, was the seat of a private family, and known by the name of Lady Place.
It is famous on account of the secret meetings that were held in a vault under the mansion, which meetings had for their object the placing the Prince of Orange (afterwards William the Third) on the British throne.
It is believed that the principal papers used in that negociation were signed there; be this as it may, this vault has been esteemed an object of curiosity, and has been visited by high and distinguished personages: among others may be mentioned his late Majesty George the Third, and General Paoli, some time King of Corsica, and since a prisoner for debt in the King's Bench.
In his schedule he is said to have registered his Kingdom of Corsica for the benefit of his creditors.
At the end of this vault has been affixed by a former proprietor a brass plate, bearing the following inscription:
"Dust and ashes! Mortality and vicissitude to all!
Be it remembered that the Monastery of Lady Place (of which this vault was the burial cavern), was founded at the time of the great Norman revolution, by which revolution the whole state of England was changed,
Hi motus animorum, atque haec certamina tanta
Pulveris exiquijactu compressa quiescunt.
"Be it also remembered, that in this place, six hundred years afterwards, the revolution of 1688 was begun;
this house was then in the possession of Lord Lovelace, by whom private meetings of the nobility were assembled in this vault;
and, as it is said, that several consultations for calling in the Prince of Orange were likewise held in this recess,
on which account this vault was visited by that powerful Prince after he had ascended the throne.
It was visited by General Paoli in 1780, and by King George the Third and his Queen 14th of November, 1785."
The few remains of Medmenham Abbey now engage the tourists attention, seated on the margin of the stream on the opposite shore:
this monastery was founded in the year 1204, but never reached to such size or extent as to be of importance,
for at the dissolution its estimated annual value was under £3.
Its abbot was epistolar to the order of the garter.
It had not long been established before it was annexed to Bisham Abbey.
The abbey house is pleasantly situated, is in good repair, inhabited, and commands an extensive prospect of the meanderings of the Thames, which are, at this point, numerous and engaging.
On the same side of the Thames, a little above Medmenham, stands
Hambledon, in all its rustic simplicity and loveliness.
The manor of Hambledon formerly belonged to the Earls of Mercia; at the Conquest William bestowed it on his Queen; on her decease it reverted back to the crown: it is now the property of a private gentleman.
The manor house was built by an Earl of Sunderland, in the time of Elizabeth; and Charles the First halted here with Ashburnham, when a prisoner on his way to London.
Though but a village, Hambledon possesses a fine old church, the tower of which, is however, modern, having been built in 1721.
In one of its windows the resurrection is depicted in stained glass, as are also the figures of the Apostles in those of the chancel, while in others are the arms of the neighbouring family of the Claytons.
Among the different monuments to be seen within its walls is one deserving attention, belonging to the D'Oilli family, and erected in particular to the memory of Sir Cope D'Oilli, his wife, and their ten children, whose figures, in alabaster, as large as life, are seen around in various positions.
Under the figure of the knight are the following lines:
Ask not of me who's buried here?
Goe ask the Commons, ask the sheire;
Goe ask the church, they'll tell thee who,
As well as blubbered eyes can doe;
Goe ask the Heraulds, ask the poore,
Thine ears shall hear enough to ask no more.
Then, if thine eyes bedev this sacred urne,
Each drop a pearl will turne
To adorn his tomb, or if thou canst not vent,
Thou bringst more marble to his monument.
Under that of his wife, Martha, are these:
Would'st thou, reader, draw to life
The perfect copy of a wife,
Read on, and then redeem from shame
That lost, that honourable name;
This dust was once in spirit a Jael,
Rebecca in grace, in heart an Abigail:
In works a Dorcas, to the church a Hanna,
And to her spouse Susanna;
Prudently simple, providently wary,
To the world a Martha, and to heaven a Mary.
From Hambledon the river is seen flowing in many a winding form, till, by a sudden turn, it places before us the village of Fawley,
chiefly to be noticed as possessing the beautiful seat called Fawley Court, a romantic spot, situated on the extreme edge of Buckinghamshire,
having the village of Medmenham [He means Remenham!] on the opposite shore, and the town of Henley at the distance of two miles on its right.
This house is placed at a convenient distance from the Thames, to which lawns of the brightest verdure come sloping down, leaving to the admirer passing by a full view of the building and adjacent grounds.
It is said to have been erected from a design furnished by Sir Christopher Wren; but others are of opinion the credit of that design is due to Inigo Jones.
However this may be, it is a beautiful specimen of the arts.
The mansion is a square, having four perfect fronts, affording from every point views of no ordinary description.
On a little island, in the midst of the Thames, a former proprietor of Fawley Court has erected a Grecian temple,
where occasional banquets were given; he had also surrounded it with hanging trees and choice shrubs,
forming altogether a retreat in which poetry might well be content to dwell, and Calypso be delighted to remain.
It may be as well to mention that in the time of the conqueror, Fawley manor was in the possession of Walter Giffard, Earl of Buckinghamshire.
This little temple is beheld with peculiar effect from Henley bridge, which we are now approaching,
the river having more the appearance of a lake than of that it in reality is.
A short description of the view presented from the spot just mentioned we shall now attempt to pourtray.
Looking down the river, to the left is beheld part of Henley town, and the square tower of its ancient and venerable church; while further down, seated on a ridge of hills, and surrounded by comfortable farm houses, is seen the village of Fawley, and at its feet, in grandeur and in pride, stands Fawley Court.
Withdrawing the eye from this scene, and gazing down the stream, the view is terminated by the temple before described, which being in the centre of the water, at some distance from the place where we are now standing, gives to the river that lake-like appearance we have before alluded to, which illusion is farther confirmed by the hills rising in the distance, and closing in the view.
To the right, the prospect is bounded by wooded heights that stretch from this place on to Wargrave, (of which by-andbye), whose leafy tops waving in all the hues of an autumnal season, impart a charm and character to the scene both pleasing and impressive.
The town of Henley is reckoned to be the oldest in the county, yet it boasts not of many antiquities; it was known in the Saxon time by the name of Hanleganz.
At this point it is conjectured the Romans passed over when in pursuit of the Britons, and there is evidence of there having existed here a Roman road, and Roman coins have at different times been dug up.
Leland mentions a bridge of stone over the Thames.
In Camden's time it possessed one of wood, which has since given place to one of stone, with five elliptical arches; on the key stone of the centre arch is the head of Isis, while on the opposite side is that of Thame, both from the chisel of the Honourable Mrs. Damer.
This bridge is exceedingly well built, and is an ornament to the river over which it leads.
The town, as it now stands, comprises several fine streets, wide, well paved and lighted, and possessing that cleanliness which gives to every thing a double charm.
There is also in its neighbourhood, numerous beautiful walks and drives, making Henley altogether a deserved favourite with the numerous class of persons who find occasion to visit it, whether for business or pleasure.
It also possesses several good inns, and among others, that of the Angel, situated at the foot of the bridge on the town side.
The civility experienced by the author from its host and hostess deserves this mention of their house, and their reasonable charges and good accommodation ensure it.
Here may be had pleasure boats, as also a variety of punts for fishing parties, of which numbers are to be seen every evening on the river, adding, by their presence and picturesque appearance, an additional charm to the scenery around.
The pathway, which is now in Oxfordshire, leads us on our way towards Wargrave, through a splendid country, abounding in beautiful vegetation and luxuriant foliage.
But as we trace our winding way through the meads of Oxfordshire, we bid not farewell to the neighbourhood of Henley,
without noticing Park Place, once the seat of General Conway, now that of Peregrine Maitland, Esq.
This charming mansion is situate in Berkshire, about a mile above Henley Bridge, and is one of the most picturesque and pleasing on the whole line of the Thames; it is seated on a continuation of the ridge of hills before mentioned as extending to Wargrave.
The house, which is placed on a lofty eminence, surrounded by stately groves and trees, though a magnificent building, charms not so much as the grounds that surround it, which are laid out in all the variety the most lively fancy could imagine, or science, assisted by art, plan and pourtray.
At one moment we gaze on a beautiful plain, enlivened by a menagerie — at another, we find ourselves wandering in an extensive shrubbery, in which are seen the most splendid exotics and costly plants; in the midst we are surprised by an aviary, from whence issue the songs warbled forth from a thousand throats — now we stray in an extensive valley; while in the clefts of the swelling hills which enclose the same are to be seen rustic cottages and rural seats.
Gaining the summit of a lofty eminence, is beheld, seated in the middle of this commanding situation, a druid's temple, which was discovered on a hill near to the town of St. Helier, in the island of Jersey, of which island General Conway was at that time Governor, which temple was presented to him by the inhabitants as a token of their respect.
This wonderful curiosity the General had conveyed to England, and placed in the situation mentioned, the stones having been so marked when taken down as to be easily set up in their original positions.
They are forty in number, the whole being sixty-three feet in circumference, and in height seven feet; a full account may be found of it in the 8th Archaeologia.
Thus much for Park Place.
Nor does the scenery of Oxfordshire, though of an entirely different character, seem less charming to our view,
our course lying through fertile meadows, fringed at their extremity with the beautiful foliage of their hedge-trees;
in the front is seen a flour mill, the noise of whose everworking wheels, and the business-like air and manner of its few inhabitants,
add a charm to the scene, filled up by the appearance of many beautiful aits and gentle swans borne on the water's current.
Here also is seated the angler, cheerful from his sport, of which few have reason to complain about Henley, and adding a characteristic feature to the view, not the less pleasing, being expected.
Stretching through the plains of Oxfordshire, which are varied by the rising hills of the opposite county,
we arrive at Wargrave, on the Berkshire side of the Thames.
It is a small place, and worthy of no particular mention, unless it be the adventitious lustre which it gained from the peculiarities of the late eccentric Lord Barrymore, who had a seat here, and who built a theatre, that cost £6,000 in which were collected audiences consisting of the most noble inhabitants of the kingdom.
On his death it was pulled down, and the materials sold for less than the amount of wages paid to labourers who worked in its erection.
In the time of Edward the Confessor it was called Weregrave, probably from a ferry which it possessed and still possesses.
It was at one time a market town, but is now no more than a village.
In its church is a monument to that excellent man and christian, Day, the author of Sandford and Merton, and other useful books, which have for their object the excellent purpose of instilling into the minds of youth the best of all knowledge and true principles.
The hundred of Wargrave was in ancient times the property of the Crown, but afterwards belonged to the Bishops of Winchester.
In 1551, Poynet, Bishop of Winchester, surrendered it once again to the former possessors, and it was granted to Henry Nevill, Esq.; but on Queen Mary coming to the throne, this act of the bishop was declared void, and it was re-conveyed back again to the see of Winchester; but the accession of Elizabeth once more altered the state of things, and an Act of Parliament was psssed, confirming the original surrender of Poynet, and restoring again to Nevill the hundred in question, whose posterity long enjoyed, and may at this moment be enjoying the same.
Such, then, is Wargrave, which we gazed on without expectation, and quitted without regret; for where there is nothing to arouse the attention, indifference will generally exist.
After passing some short distance further, another bend of the river placed before our eyes Shiplake, an Oxfordshire village,
placed on a chalk hill, close to the side of the high road to Reading.
At this place terminates that ridge of hills, mentioned before in our account of Henley.
Shiplake is much smaller than Wargrave, but infinitely beyond it in its situation and prospects, of which it has very many, and that too of a superior description, which will well repay the little trouble the pedestrian may be at in leaving the direct line of his route in order to survey them.
Of the church little can be said, except in favour of its situation and appearance, which is pretty enough, being seated on the edge of a cliff, the tower being covered with ivy, from the summit of which may be seen the whole distance we have passed from Henley hither, and, taking in at a glance, all that is most lovely and rare in nature.
The like view is gained on looking up the river, where are beheld the many ozier aits which intersect the Thames, as also the plains of Sonning, Twyford, and even Bagshot.
At Twyford the Thames receives the Lodden, after having refreshed Hampshire and Berkshire with its waters.
From Shiplake our way leads us through a long extent of level country, and whether it happened that the day was dull or the country really uninteresting, true it is we thought it so, and, in consequence, hastened to reach some sequestered spot, where, for the remainder of the day, we might refresh ourselves with a comfortable dinner ineog.[?], and afterwards enjoy, along with our glass, some social chat, and the sweet ambrosia of a veritable Havanna, of which your true pedestrian always carries a store.
Fortunately we had not far to progress before, by means of a ferry, we changed counties and our path, and soon lighted on Sonning,
where, having given especial orders about dinner, and seen it actually in a state of forwardness,
we quickly turned our walking-sticks into fishing-rods, without the aid of magic, and took a stroll down to the river's brink,
to wile away in fishing, those tedious moments intervening between us and our repast.
It must be granted, that if the sport we experienced the short time we were engaged in angling be any criterion of what is in general to be found at Sonning, a lover of the angle would not be disappointed in his sport; we having taken, for amateurs, a reasonable quantity of fish, and being in a fair way to take many more, when "That tocsin of the soul, the dinner bell", called us away to a more substantial amusement.
Sonning is a pretty retired spot, and one of the many places uncontaminated with the knowledge and the vices ever gained from unrestrained communication with great cities.
It consists of but few houses, which are, however, well disposed.
In the midst of the village stands its church, which contains nothing worthy the observation of the curious, unless it be the figures of several men lying in complete armour.
This place was formerly of note, having, in conjunction with Wiltshire, been the seat of eight bishops, and that for upwards of 500 years, but it was afterwards translated to Salisbury: it also boasted possession of a monastery and park.
The manor of Sonning, if we mistake not, still belongs to the Bishops of Salisbury; and before the conquest they had a manor-house in the town.
The neighbourhood affords many pretty home scenes, the views of which always bring along with them that satisfaction and pride their appearance is sure to raise.
The snug farm houses, surrounded with their ricks of wheat, hay, &c., and the numerous breeds of poultry cackling about their door-ways, convey a notion of comfort and plenty, always agreeable to the feelings and appetite of an Englishman.
In the immediate vicinity of the town, the scenes both below and above bridge, though limited in extent, are most worthy of notice:
of the two, that below the bridge is superior, and the pedestrian, before entering the town, will do well to pause for a moment
to survey the quiet prospect and calm appearance this village presents.
Before him is the bridge of Sonning, to the left of which rises the village, in a little cluster of neat brickbuilt houses, while in the midst stands Sonning church, whose venerable tower adds an additional feature to the scene, the whole being improved by the appearance of some fine elm trees, the back ground being closed in therewith; while bearing more to the right, the view is terminated by an old stately mansion, formerly in the possession of a Lady Rich.
Above bridge, still taking in a view of the town under different circumstances, is seen a water mill; and on the Oxfordshire side of the river, the neat cluster of cottages stretching on in the direction of the Reading road, and known by the name of Sonning Eye.
We will now, with the advantage of a fine autumnal morning, stretch our legs on to Reading, our way being through two miles of as pleasant a country as could well be desired.
It is not the least advantage which the pedestrian enjoys over his fellows, that he beholds nature in all her variations, whether of season or of time; little are the indolent and supine aware how much they lose by the too much love they bear their pillow, otherwise they would enjoy a morning's walk more frequently than they do.
How lovely was the one before us: the sun rising amid small and vapoury clouds, turned by his glory into the appearance of beds of refined gold, but not yet sufficiently strong to disperse the dews of heaven, yet clinging, as loth to bid farewell to mother earth — (by the bye, these same mists are a sure presage of a fine day); and then the joyous aspect of nature, bursting from her sleep, the birds warbling in the trees or careering over their tops, the cattle lowing in the meadows, while the finny inhabitants of the waters are seen darting through the spray thrown up from some jetty, and falling back again into the watery bosom, like drops, bearing all the hues of the opal.
As Reading is approached from the Thames, its appearance would lead us to infer that it was one of our chief cities,
and not simply a market town.
Assuredly if size, number of inhabitants, or extent of trade, were to be any criterion by which a city could be known, Reading, long ere this, would so have been considered.
It is situated on the banks of the river Kennett, (a stream of Berkshire,) near its confluence with the Thames, over which river of Kennet are several bridges, both in the town and its neighbourhood.
Reading, which is the principal town of Berkshire, is of considerable size and importance, both as respects its trade, and the number and intelligence of its inhabitants.
It is a borough by prescription, and has sent two members to Parliament since the reign of Edward the First.
It was incorporated by Henry the Eighth, succeeding monarchs having confirmed and enlarged its original charter.
It is now governed by a mayor, twelve aldermen, twelve burgesses, recorder, steward, and several minor officers.
It is divided into three parishes; namely, St. Mary, St. Lawrence, and St. Giles.
Its streets are numerous, large, and well arranged, and, as before observed, taken as a whole, this town is of more importance than many of our principal cities.
At the commencement of the civil wars, it was garrisoned by the Parliament forces, but afterwards submitted to the King.
It is supposed to derive its name from from Rhea, a river, or from the fern found in the neighbourhood, called Redin; the Saxon name was Rheadyne.
In its early history, the usual quantity of castles, monasteries, and civil broils are allotted it; they, however, have happily given way to trade, peace, and plenty.
It anciently had a castle, of which not a vestige remains, and the learned even disagree as to its site.
All that we can distinctly trace, is, that it was possessed by the Danes in the year 871, and destroyed by Henry the Second for the shelter its walls had afforded his enemy, Stephen, during their wars for the crown.
The monastery which it once possessed was founded by Henry the First, on the site of a nunnery, erected by a Saxon queen, and was built with such splendour, and so munificently endowed, as to make it the admiration and envy of the surrounding country.
In the reign of King John, a great council was held within its walls, as was also another in that of Edward the First, and a Parliament was summoned here in the reign of Henry the Sixth.
Within the chapel of the monastery were deposited the remains of its founder, Henry the First; and likewise those of his queen.
Here also were interred Henry the Second, his eldest son; Constance, daughter of Edward Duke of York; and a son and daughter of Richard Earl of Cornwall.
At the dissolution of religious houses by Henry the Eighth, the annual amount of its revenues are stated by Speed to have been £2,116. 8s. 9d.
The only remains of this once proud edifice are a portion of the lady's chapel, the refectory, and the great gate, which latter is in tolerable preservation.
The manor of Reading formerly belonged to the crown; it is now the property of the corporation.
Among its numerous charities is a grammar school, which, according to Leland, had its origin in the following circumstance: —
"In 1445, one Thorne, abbot of the monastery, suppressed an alms-house for poor sisters, and employed its revenues to the use of the almoner.
But Henry the Seventh hearing of it, was offended, and ordered him to settle the house and lands on some charitable institution.
The abbot, therefore, made it a grammar school; and William Deane, an officer in the abbey, seconded him in that excellent design, and at the same time gave 200 marks towards the advancement of the foundation; an account of which is to be seen on his tomb in the abbey church.
However, the abbot dying in 1486, the settlement does not appear to have been completed, though it was begun; for at the dissolution, the master was allowed ten pounds per annum by the crown."
The following is its history to the present time.
In Elizabeth's reign, the corporation undertook to pay the master's salary, amounting to £41 9s. 7d. per annum, in exchange for certain lands given by Elizabeth; and by charter, bearing date the 23d of September, 1560, they were empowered to appoint the master.
In the reign of Charles the First, the master's salary was increased by the will of Archbishop Laud, (a native of Reading,) who left land at Bray, of the annual value of £20, for that purpose.
He also appointed three visitors; namely, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, the President of St. John's, and the Warden of All Souls College; and left a sum of money for their proper entertainment.
They visit the school every third year.
This school possesses two scholarships in St. John the Baptist's College, Oxford, founded by Sir Thomas White, in 1557.
The present school-house was built in 1790, by the then master, at his own expense.
The school was founded for the sons of inhabitants and others, and is therefore open to all who conform to its regulations.
No sooner does the traveller quit Reading but the village of Caversham, anciently called Causeiham, appears before him,
pleasantly situated amidst a range of small hills, of a fanciful and pleasing aspect,
the more gratifying as they repay the tourist for the flat country he has so lately traversed.
The church, which is near the river's brink, is, in some of its parts, of great antiquity, but it has received many additions since its first formation, put together, seemingly, without plan or design, nevertheless, as a whole, it is not an unpleasing structure; while, from the churchyard, which, by a little elevation, seems to form a natural terrace, several fine views are obtained; one in particular across the meadows to Reading, in which is displayed its churches, bridges, and principal buildings, forming an agreeable contrast with the bustle and turmoil of a great town which you have in view, to the serenity, peace, and quiet the beholder enjoys in reality.
Of Caversham bridge, which is built of wood and brick, little need be said, except that it is of singular construction, and quite out of the common way in which bridges are usually built, and is merely attractive on account of its novelty.
Near the village is situated Caversham Park, where Charles the First, when a prisoner under General Fairfax, was confined; and there it was his children were brought from Windsor, that he might see them, permission being had from the Parliament for that purpose.
Caversham Park formerly belonged to Lord Knowlys, who there entertained James the First and his queen.
This place was the scene of many adventures during the civil wars, in which sufficient blood was shed to make the chief actors in them of note.
In this place was formerly a cell, famous, in the eyes of the ignorant and superstitious, on account (according to Dugdale) of the angel with one wing, who here deposited the spear-head that pierced our Saviour on the cross. Dug i. 161.
This village gives the title of Viscount Caversham to Lord Cadogan.
Leland, speaking of this place, calls it Causaham.
At a short distance from hence, at a place known by the name of Catsgrove Hill, some time in the last century, was discovered a large stratum of oyster shells, on a bed of green sand, having a layer of bluish clay immediately above; among them were found many with both valves together; and although the moving separated them, it was clearly perceivable that they belonged to each other. Geo. ex. Phil. Trans. No. 261.
We now approach the pleasant Oxfordshire villages of Maple-Durham, and Hardwicke, through fields of waving corn and wood-crowned heights,
dressed in nature's gayest attire.
These villages invite attention by their retiring, yet not less engaging beauties.
At the former is a stately house, which, at one time was the property of a family named Blount, who were the intimates and friends of Pope, to one of whom, it will be in the recollection of the reader, our poet addresses a letter, wherein is given a description of his grotto at Twickenham, which letter we have before taken the liberty to insert.
In the front of this house is a noble avenue of elms, such as are rarely seen, extending to the distance of nearly a mile.
At Hardwick is a mansion named from the village in which it is situate, of goodly show, built within a short distance of the river.
It is in the form of a square, crowned by a central turret.
Some old writers conjecture that it was formerly a monastery, but of this there is no proof.
Near to the latter village is a goodly hostel, called Colin's End, where, while we partook of some excellent brown bread, butter, &c., washed down by a fine glass of ale, our loquacious host informed us we were on the spot so often visited by Charles the First, who, while detained a prisoner at Caversham, was allowed by his keepers to come here, where he diverted himself with a game at bowls, of which game he was passionately fond.
There is a picture hanging up in one of the rooms of an ancient personage, formerly the landlady, who attended Charles on such occasions.
On the Berkshire side, and opposite Hardwick, stands Purley.
In its immediate vicinity is Purley Hall, once the seat of Warren Hastings.
It was built by Hawes, the South Sea defaulter.
In the church is a monument to the memory of Anne, the wife of the Earl of Clarendon, or to quote the inscription thereon, "the wife of Edward Hyde, Chancellor and Author".
From hence, by an agreeable walk of a few miles, we pass on to Pangbourn, having a view, at one time, of smiling plains,
on the bosom of which numerous herds are seen grazing; suddenly the scene is diversified by swelling hills,
which shut out a more extended view, till a bend in the river allows further observation and more minute remark.
The village of Pangbourn, in Berkshire, stands at the foot of a small hill, which is beautifully wooded, and forms a fine back ground to the picture this little place presents, with its few houses and humble church.
The woods and groves surrounding it are full of romantic walks and drives.
From the hill just mentioned is caught a glimpse of Oxford, the view of which furnishes a fine source of reflection, and, to the lover of his country, affords much gratification and pride.
Pangbourn is stated in Domesday-book to have belonged to one Crispin.
The manor afterwards became the property of Reading Abbey, it then passed into the possession of the Duke of Somerset, some time protector, who was executed in the reign of Edward the Sixth; it then reverted to the Crown, from which it was regranted, and is now in the enjoyment of some private individual.
This village takes its name from the stream in the vicinity, formerly called a bourne.
From this place a bridge of wood, of comparatively modern date, crosses over to Whitchurch, in Oxfordshire,
GORING AND STREATLEY
from whence we pass on to the romantic villages of Goring and Streatley, the former being in Oxfordshire, and the latter in Berkshire.
These villages are charmingly situated amid hills, whose hanging woods and sloping lawns form a romantic and highly delightful picture.
The views are not extensive, the heights forming a kind of amphitheatre, in which these places are enclosed; we, of course, except what may be seen from their summits, whence a delightful prospect is presented, embracing the town of Reading and the whole of the adjacent country.
Goring formerly possessed a nunnery, founded by Henry the Second, which, at its dissolution, was granted by Henry the Eighth to his brotherin-law, Charles Duke of Suffolk.
Here is a spring, formerly in high repute for the excellency of its waters, and the cures said to have been effected by their use.
It has, however, fallen into disrepute.
The ancient road known as the Ikenild Street, crosses from Goring, by means of a bridge, into Streatly, through which it passes, and from this circumstance, that village derives its name from Stratum, a Roman road.
Ikenild Street, commences at Yarmouth in Norfolk, and after forming the eastern portion of the ancient kingdom of the Iceni, (whence it derives its name,) extends therefrom into many different parts of England.
Passing by South Stoke and Moulesford — the latter of which is in Berkshire, and belonged, in the reign of William the First, to Giraldus Fitz Walter, from whom is descended the present family of Carew, (its name is taken from a ford, which formerly existed here,)
we find ourselves near to the old and venerable town of Wallingford, whose bridge, of curious construction and extending arches,
being nineteen in number, is productive of considerable effect.
Having passed through extensive plains, which, from their high state of cultivation, would be deemed more beautiful, were it not for the scenes the traveller leaves behind — but which however, are not without interest and partial effect—the tourist will do well, if he at any time feels the want of a prospect before him sufficient to engage his attention, to look back and survey the swelling hills which before were the cause of so much delight.
Wallingford is a market town in Berkshire, of good extent and fine appearance, consisting of many streets of substantial houses.
Of its former wealth and importance some notion may be gathered from the circumstance of its having possessed twelve churches, which had dwindled down to three as early as the time of Richard the Second.
Its original decay is attributed to various causes: by some, a great plague, which troubled this town in the reign of Edward the Third, and carried off vast numbers of the inhabitants, is stated as the cause ; others ascribe it, and with more likelihood, to the diverting of the Gloucester road from this place to Abingdon.
Still it has increased of late in size and importance.
It was a borough in the reign of Edward the Third, and sent members to Parliament.
It was incorporated by James the First, and is now governed by a mayor, high steward, recorder, six aldermen, (who are justices of the peace within the borough,) town clerk, two bailiffs, and a chamberlain.
It possesses a town hall, where the sessions for the town are held; the assizes were also at one time occasionally holden at this place; but that practice has for some years been discontinued, and Reading and Abingdon alone enjoy that privilege.
Wallingford still retains the names of four parishes, but with only two parish churches, called St. Peter's and St. Leonard's; one is situated near the river's side, from which point it is well seen, as is also the town itself.
The spire of this church is of a singular character; it was built at the charge of that learned commentator on the laws of England, Sir William Blackstone, who lies buried in the chancel.
He represented this town in Parliament several times, and on his retirement from the bench became resident here.
The bridge, which is of stone, is of that ancient date as to preclude the discovery of the time of its erection.
Here is an endowed grammar school, founded by an Alderman of London, named Walter Bigg, who bestowed thereupon £10 per annum.
There is also Sir Thomas Bennett's charity of £20 per annum, paid by the company of Merchant Taylors.
Of the ancient history of Wallingford, and its importance, much is extant.
It is supposed to have been the chief town of the Attrebattii, a people who inhabited Berkshire.
It was formerly called Attrebatum, by Antoninus; while Ptolemy called it Gallena.
Camden supposes it to have been called Gallena from Guallhen, "The Old Fort", to which was affixed the word ford, one having existed here; hence the corruption to Wallingford.
The original name of any town can only be of consequence to the antiquary, or when it can afford solutions to some important questions, as connected with our ancient history or that of neighbouring states.
It has been asserted, that Wallingford was the Calleva of the Romans; which Gale, in his Antominus, denies, and fixes it at Henley, in Oxfordshire.
Be that as it may, it subsequently became the metropolis of one of the Saxon kingdoms.
Of its castle much has been written, and it is sufficiently proved to have been one of the most extensive buildings of the kind in the kingdom, being encompassed with walls a mile in extent, and a double wall and ditch that rendered it so strong as to gain it the reputation of being impregnable: certain it is, that Stephen besieged it several times, but always retired with loss.
It was under these walls that a convention was afterwards entered into between him and Prince Henry, to prevent the further effusion of blood, which gave to Stephen the Crown during his life, and afterwards settled it on Henry, who not long after became, on Stephen's death, his successor, the second of that name.
It is not clear who were the founders of this castle, but to the Romans is generally ascribed that honour.
It is mentioned in Domesday-book; and William the First marched here after having defeated Harold at Hastings, and received the submission of the English.
Brian Fitz Count, in right of his wife, possessed the castle, which held out against all the attacks of Stephen.
It afterwards came to the Crown, and was given by Henry the Third to his brother Richard, King of the Romans, whose son founded a collegiate church within its walls in 1281, which was abolished at the dissolution.
Leland says, at the time of its greatest splendour it contained within its walls five streets.
However great it may have been, of which there is no question, it is now difficult to trace its remains — so perishable are the mightiest works of man, yet how enduring as compared with himself, the most fragile of all.
Edward the Second bestowed Wallingford manor, as also the Duchy of Cornwall, successively, on his two favourites, Gaveston and Spencer.
John of Eltham, who was raised by his brother Edward the Third to the earldom of Cornwall, afterwards possessed it, which earldom having been changed into a dukedom, was conferred on Edward the Black Prince.
It was subsequently separated from the Duchy of Cornwall and annexed to the manor of Ewelme, in Oxfordshire, which was given by Henry the Eighth to Wolsey.
William the First here founded a monastery of black monks, and Richard of Wallingford, abbot of St. Albans, founded a convent of benedictines.
It also possessed an ancient hospital, dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
In the year 1644, Charles the First having been defeated at the second battle of Newbury, in which he lost three thousand men, took shelter in Wallingford, having left all his cannon, baggage, and camp equipage behind him, at Doddington Castle.
Near unto Wallingford is Brightwell, where was once a castle, of which there is now no remains;
also Sinodun Hill, of which Leland gives the following account: —
"This place is wonderfully diked about, and standeth on a hill, hanging over the Tamise.
It is yn circumference half a mile, and within it hath been some towne, or, as the common voice sayeth, a castelle, in the Britannes time, defaced by likelihood by the Danes.
At this time it beareth very plentifully, both barley and whete, and munismati Romanorum be there found in ploughing." Lel. It. ii. 13, 14., Cygn. Cant.
It is now called Sandon or Mother Dunche's Buttocks, from a family of that name some time resident here.
We will now pass over into Oxfordshire, nor pause till we arrive at the little village of Bensington, formerly known as Benslington,
and now, by contraction, called Benson.
The Roman Way cast up between Alcester and Wallingford crosses the Thames at this spot, to the west side of the church, called by the inhabitants Medler's Bank.
Camden, quoting Marianus, says this place was anciently a royal village.
In the time of the Saxons it formed the frontier town to the kingdom of Mercia, prior to which it was in the possession of the West Saxons; but Offa, king of the former country, deeming it impolitic to suffer a rival sovereign to possess territory on that side of the river, forcibly took possession of the place.
The rural village of Shillingford is in Benson parish, seated in a smiling country amid every luxuriance of vegetation which the bountiful hand of nature can bestow.
From hence is seen Dorchester church, whose ancient tower, rising in solemn grandeur, awakens the mind by its appearance to reflection,
giving birth to those reminiscences which a knowledge of its ancient history cannot but be well calculated to recall.
To Dorchester our way winds through fields of golden grain, diversified occssionally by chalky cliffs; while, on the opposite shore, the Berkshire hills stretch away till they are lost in the horizon.
Dorchester, formerly a city and the see of a bishop, is now little more than a village.
One cause of the loss of its importance is clearly to be attributed to the translation of its see from hence to Lincoln, which took place in the time of William the First, after a possession of five hundred years; another, and the chief reason is, the diverting the high road from London a different way.
The founder of the bishoprick was a Saxon, named Berinus, who flourished in the year 630.
This place once possessed five stately churches, of which but one is now remaining: this was the Cathedral.
It has a beautiful square tower, and is altogether an imposing and venerable structure.
In Willis's account of mitred abbeys will be found a fuller description of its ancient state than can here be given.
Dorchester is supoosed to have been a Saxon city of note, its ancient name having been Civitas Dorcinia.
It boasts of many antiquities, of which the following account is given by Gough, in his ed. of Camden's Brit. v. i., 307: —
"On the south side of the town are double intrenchments, called Dike Hills, extending as a string to the great bow of the river Thames, consisting of two banks running from one part of that river to another, about three quarters of a mile long, twenty yards asunder at bottom, and forty at the top, and a perpendicular height of about twenty feet.
The river which forms the bow might easily be made to communicate with the string, so as to fill the dyke with water, and sometimes does actually fill it.
A road crosses them near the west end, and having crossed the river, runs up the hill pointing to Sinodun Camp.
A skeleton, a mattock, and part of a cross, were once found at the east end of the south bank, and Roman coins were often found among the north ramparts, which are the most defaced.
A Roman road is said to lead to a ford below Shillingford, where piles and beams have been taken up, and where is now a handsome wooden bridge.
Another ford here is called Queenford."
Plot supposes these works to have been a Roman fortification, or some outwork of that on Sinodun Hill, a mile and a half off on the opposite side of the river, in Berkshire, which Leland calls Danish, and Hearne supposes the castle of Dorchester; others ascribe Dike Hills to the Mercians.
They may have been outworks to the station here.
At the end of them is a spot which Hearne supposes the site of a royal mansion.
It is called Conygere Court, a quarter of a mile from the east end of Dike.
On the north side, half a mile from the town, are some ditches, called All Ridge or All Ditch Banks.
Many Roman coins have at different periods been found in and near Dorchester; in particular at a place called Overy Field and Hempcroft, where, in 1731, was dug up a small altar, with the annexed inscription, remarkable for the mention of the Cancelli, which Mr. Ward supposes rails to enclose it as an altar for prayer only, and not for sacrifice, it having no focus.
It was carried to Little Wittenham, a mile from Dorchester, the seat of Sir G. Oxenden, who bought it for a guinea, and has since given it away.
It was found nearly in the centre of the Roman station.
I. O. M.
ET NIMB AVG
ARAM. CVM CANCELLIS.
i. e Jovi optimo maximo
& numinibus Augustus
Marcus Valerius Severus
In the chancel of the church, in 1750, a stone coffin was dug up, which contained a body, enclosed in gilt leather, with a pewter chalice;
also another coffin, which was filled with mould.
Here is a free grammar school, founded in 1652 by Sir John Fettiplace, Bart., who gave £20 per annum for a master to teach Latin, and also gave the remains of an old abbey for a school house.
The master's stipend has since been reduced to £10
A little below this town the Tame (which has its rise in Buckinghamshire, soon after which it enters Oxfordshire) after washing the town of Thame, to which it gives name, unites its waters with our nobler stream.
Passing by Burcot, in Oxfordshire, which is an hamlet to Dorchester, and which gives name to Burcot, an ancient seat of the Oxendon family, whose grounds, beautifully wooded, furnish a screen on the Oxfordshire side, for a considerable distance,
we arrive at Clifton, another village of this county, where is an ancient ferry: the boat passing continually to and fro enlivens the scene, which also receives an addition from Clifton church, near unto the river side, whose small and humble proportions harmonize well with the objects around, and presents to our view a pleasant home scene, shaded with the foliage of several stately trees.
At a short distance is Wittenham, in Berkshire, which offers in its approach some engaging scenery, rich in wood and water,
the whole receiving an additional beauty by the appearance of its church, seated on a gentle declivity, and surrounded by the most verdant lawns.
The points of view to be observed are still characteristic of the county we are in — alternate hill and dale; on the brow and sides of which, at this spot, are some fine specimens of the fir.
APPLEFORD, SUTTON COURTNEY
Wittenham and Appleford, in the same county, vary the view, and bring us on to Sutton Courtney, whose picturesque mill and lock add additional engagement to the general scene.
OLD CULHAM BRIDGE
[ This is the old bridge over the outflow of the Swift Ditch which bypasses Abingdon. Not to be confused with Sutton Bridge below Culham Lock. ]
Culham bridge, at the distance of a mile from Sutton, also a most picturesque object, and well deserving attention,
now presents itself before us.
This bridge was built by direction of Henry the Fifth, to aid the communication with the town of Abingdon, of which we have a fine view from this spot, whose wharfs, and the general bustle around, give sufficient notice of our approach once again to the busy haunts of men.
It should have been observed, that before reaching Culham bridge, the New Cut formed above Abingdon from the main stream, to aid the purposes of navigation (the Thames, in seasons of drought, not being of sufficient depth), once again joins the parent stream.
We will now enter Abingdon, and, divesting ourselves of river scenery and localities,
dwell for a short time on scenes of a far different character.
This town, though not the most important one in Berkshire, (Reading being far before it in all respects), is yet the shire town, and where the assizes are held conjointly with Reading.
It is of a good size, and pleasantly situated; in it are several fine streets, well built, which, branching from one common centre, (the market place), give an air of regularity and design not observable in places of far greater size and importance.
In the market place is a spacious structure, which serves the purposes of market house and town hall, it is supported by arches of a noble construction, and is a work reflecting infinite credit on those who designed and were employed in its erection.
It is a borough and corporation, consisting of a mayor, nine aldermen, and two bailiffs, &c., and derives much consideration from its trade in malt.
Its first charter of incorporation was from Queen Mary.
Abingdon formerly had five churches, of which two only are now remaining ; namely St Helen's and St. Nicholas.
In the former, underneath the tablet erected to the memory of a liberal benefactor to this town, are these lines —
Our Curtaine in this Lower Press
Lies folded up in Nature's Dress;
His dust perfumes his Urne,
and Hee This town with Liberalitie.
In that of St. Nicholas, on the south side wall, on the tomb in which are enclosed the bodies of a man and his wife, who both died on the same day, are these —
When once they lived on earth one bed did hold
Their bodies, which one minute turned to mould.
Being dead, one grave is trusted with that prize,
Untill the trump doth sound and all must rise.
Here death struck even, yet did not part this paire,
But by his stroke they more united were
And what left they behind, you plainly see,
One only daughter and their charity.
What though the first, by death's command did leave us,
The second we are sure will ne'er deceive us.
This church of St. Nicholas was erected by an abbot of that name between the years 1289 and 1307.
The Saxon name of Abingdon was Sheonepham afterwards Abbandaune or Abbey Town, doubtless from the famous abbey it possessed, founded by Hearne, a nephew of one of the West Saxon kings, who also built a palace here.
In an incursion of the Danes the abbey was destroyed, but rebuilt by Edred.
William the First was magnificently entertained at this place by one of its abbots during the Easter festival, and was so pleased with his treatment, as to intrust the education of his third son, Henry, (afterwards Henry the First,) to the care of its monks, who, for his various acquirements, was surnamed Beauclerk, the learned clerk.
On his accession to the throne he added many magnificent gifts to those which it had before so abundantly received.
Of this once splendid structure, whose revenues, when it was dissolved were of the annual value of nearly £2,000, nothing remains, except the gate house and a small tower.
In the market place existed a magnificent cross, erected by the holy brotherhood, but it was destroyed in the civil wars by the troops under Waller.
There is also given, in a very ancient history of Abingdon, an account "of a famous cross", found near the town, the nails of which, according to the superstitious belief of its author, "struck dead all who foreswore themselves upon it".
There is also mentioned, with much more likelihood of truth, an old fortress
"that stode in olden time in Andersey by South West of Abbandaune, in a meadow againe St. Helens, almost in the middle, between the old and new bottom of the Isis, part of it stode after the conquest, and there were kept the king's hawks and hounds."
Leland tells of the appearance of two camps nigh Abingdon, one of which was called Lerpen, the other Barrow; and there is a tradition of a great battle having been fought here between the Danes and Saxons, the trenches of which are still plainly to be seen.
Henry the Fifth, besides building Culham bridge, as before-mentioned, built another here, of three arches, over the Thames.
This was in 1416.
This town was garrisoned by King Charles at the commencement of the wars between him and the Parliament, which garrison left the place on the approach of the Earl of Essex and his army, and it was afterwards held by the Parliament until the close of the contest.
The river Ock, which washes one side of the town, joins the Thames between Abingdon and Culham.
This stream takes its rise in that extensive and far-famed vale of Berkshire, known as the vale of White Horse, a designation given it from the figure of a horse having been cut on the side of a chalk hill, and occupying about an acre of ground in extent.
It is generally supposed to have been the work of the Saxons, (whose device was a white horse,) and to have been executed in token of some great victory obtained by them over their enemies.
It may be seen at the distance of twelve miles, and is altogether one of the most curious relics of which this island can boast.
The inhabitants of the surrounding villages once a year meet for the purpose of weeding and keeping perfect its form and figure; this done, the rest of the day is spent in festivity and mirth.
At one extremity of the same vale are to be seen three stones, about four feet square, on the top of which is a fourth lying flat; these stones, form what is called by the villagers "Wayland Smith's Hole", on account of a tradition believed in a century or two back, of its being inhabited by an invisible smith, who was of much service to travellers unfortunate enough to lose their horses shoes, through the roughness of the way, by replacing them.
There is no account how these stones came to their present place.
Aubrey gives it as his opinion, that though they are now loose and confused, they were formerly here from design.
They are to be viewed with feelings of interest, independent of their antiquity, from the circumstance of Sir Walter Scott having deemed them of sufficient importance to form a feature in his deservedly admired novel of Kenilworth
Quitting any farther digression, we regain the Thames, and proceed towards Nuneham Courtnay,
which village derives all its importance from its contiguity to the magnificent seat of that name, belonging to the Earl of Harcourt.
We approach this splendid domain through a great variety of engaging scenery, passing in our way the commencement of the new cut beforementioned, which begins at the distance of about a mile above Abingdon, at which point a fine view is afforded of the woods of Nuneham; the house also, seated on the brow of an eminence, whose sides slope down to the Thames, beautiful in nature's dress, vieing with the emerald in its green.
This house, together with a church at its side, is seen embosomed in trees, except in front, of such stately growth as to claim our admiration at their noble appearance.
It is of stone, and was built about seventy years ago, and comprises within its walls every convenience, whether for the private gentleman or munificent noble.
To attempt a description of every part would be far too lengthy; we must, therefore, rest satisfied if we succeed in conveying a general idea of its magnificence, nor can we notice any particular portion, as that would be an injustice to the whole; suffice it to say, that all which wealth and talent of every kind could give is here seen, respect being had to the country in which it is situated, and the habits and feelings of the people among whom it is placed.
Of the garden-ground and shrubbery, which, however, are not extensive, it is sufficient to say that they were originally designed by that prince of all gardeners, Brown, and the plans which his fertile brain imagined are still persevered in and kept.
On the centre arch of a bower within the garden, is inscribed the following lines, written by Andrew Marvel: —
Society is all but rude
To this delicious solitude;
Where all the flowers and trees do close
To weave the garland of repose.
The park is of great extent, containing 1,200 acres, in which are some fine old trees, by their appearance seeming to demand our respect,
to which they are fully entitled, if age be deemed a sufficient qualification.
The grounds, however splendid, derive an additional interest from the possession of that rare specimen of antiquity, known as "Carfax".
This structure formerly embellished by its presence the High Street of Oxford, in the centre of which it stood, and also contributed at the same time to the health of the city by its supply of water, for which it was a conduit.
It being found in the way of some repairs or alterations necessary in the High Street, was the cause of its removal, on which occasion the University presented it to Simon Earl Harcourt, who placed it in a prominent situation in his grounds, with the annexed inscription: —
This building, called Carfax,
Erected for a conduit at Oxford,
By Otho Nicholson,
In the year of our Lord MDCX.
And taken down in the year MDCCLXXXVII.
To enlarge the High Street,
Was presented by the University
To George Simon, Earl Harcourt,
Who caused it to be placed here.
Among the many fine prospects afforded from hence is one of peculiar interest, looking toward Oxford, in which is taken in,
the entire of that interesting city, with all its churches, towers, domes, and spires;
the Thames seen in all its windings till it enters Christ Church meadows, the view being agreeably varied by the appearance of the buoyant skiff,
the patient angler, and the studious scholar, who, wandering by the river's brink, inhales health and increases knowledge at the same time.
The manor of Nuneham, at the general survey, belonged to Richard de Courcy, from whom it passed into the family of the Redvers; thence, by marriage, into that of Courtenay; and finally, by purchase, into that of the Earls of Harcourt.
On leaving Nuneham the river, by a bend to the left, brings to our view the village of Sandford, whose lock and mill,
together with Iffley church tower, rising in the back ground, affords a pretty home scene of an engaging character.
This village was once the seat of a priory, belonging to the Knights Templars, founded by Maud, consort of King Stephen.
The banks of the stream are here prettily fringed on either side with willows, which cast their lengthening shades upon the waters, imparting to the scene a sombre character, which calls forth reflections of a pleasing melancholy;
but these feelings are dispelled in a pleasant walk of a few minutes, to the romantic spot called Iffley, whose ancient church, placed on a hill,
exhibits its commanding and venerable tower to the utmost advantage.
This church is of Saxon origin and architecture.
On the water side is beheld a house of romantic appearance, once the place of abode of Dr. Nowell, of whom we read in Boswell's Life of Johnson, the two inseparables having paid him a visit at his villa, where they solaced themselves in quaffing port to the tune of old Tory toasts.
Let us now stroll on towards Oxford, at the extremity of whose meadows the Cherwell (which has flowed from Northamptonshire)
unites its silver waters with those of the Thames, and hence roll their majestic streams through the most pleasing scenes of England's realm.
From this spot the tower and college of Christ Church are visible and beautiful objects.
But we hasten on to enter that city, which has been in prospect for some miles, and which, to our eager curiosity seems
but to mock us with a near view of beholding its beauties, without actually enjoying the Same,
The City of Oxford is of that antiquity as to defy the research of the most diligent antiquarians,
who have vainly endeavoured to discover with certainty its original founder and name.
That some very probable conjectures have been and may be offered as to both, is not denied; but still it is conjecture only, and not proof.
It were, however, but justice to those learned men who have endeavoured to unravel the mystery, to say, that they having failed, there is little hope of others ever succeeding.
It is not, therefore, our intention for one moment to dwell on that part of the subject.
In its early history, it is more than probable, no settled name was given, other than the caprice of its various lords chose to bestow.
As to its antiquity, it is clearly traced to have been one of the earliest cities of the Britons, and it is but too plainly proved to have suffered, in common with other places, the ruin, devastations, and plunderings incident to a time of barbarism and civil commotions; nor was it long permitted to enjoy that peace promised by the entire possession of Britain by the Saxons, ere the invasion of enemies from abroad, and civil discords at home, lent their aid to accomplish a seemingly inevitable ruin.
Still it was a place of some consequence, having within its walls a monastery, where, in 1015, a conference was held between the Danes and King Ethelred, as also two councils, the first in the year 1022, the latter in 1036, both at the instance of Canute.
Harold, surnamed Harefoot, from his fleetness, was crowned at this place, and hither came William, flushed with his conquest at Hastings, to receive the submission, and take the oaths of fidelity to his throne from the Oxonians, but he came to be denied admittance.
This was not to be borne in quiet by one of William's disposition, who soon effected by force that which he could not attain by fairer means.
Having bestowed the greater portion of this city on his favourite Robert D'Oilli, that nobleman (it is supposed at William's instigation) built a castle on its western side, for the purpose of overawing the inhabitants.
This castle was of great extent and importance, and contained a church and convent, both founded by the same D'Oilli, who erected the former structure.
According to Camden, the castle was erected in the year 1071.
It was in this castle the Empress Maud took refuge, and was besieged by King Stephen; but the garrison bravely kept him at bay for three months, when, being reduced to extremity, the Empress contrived to escape, accompanied by three knights, beyond the castle wall, and crossing the Thames, at that time frozen over, made her way to Abingdon, whence proceeding to Wallingford, she there met her son, Prince Henry, (afterwards Henry the Second), and her brother, the Earl of Gloucester, coming with a great army to her relief.
Of this castle there still remains the square tower, and a portion of its walls may also be traced.
This city could also boast of a palace within its walls, in one of whose chambers Richard the First was born.
It was on his death the following epigram was written —
Chalus thy bowels has;
thy body sleeps At Fontevraud;
thy great heart Rouen keeps.
Thus torn in three, Richard, who when alive
Was more than one; his fame does scarce survive.
Among its other antiquities was an abbey, founded by one of Henry the First's chamberlains, also Carfax, mentioned in the account given of Nuneham,
This place was walled all round in the Confessor's time, of which some remains are still existing.
It was made the see of a bishop by Henry the Eighth, and is governed, according to charter from James the First, by a mayor, recorder, four aldermen, eight assistants, two bailiffs, and twenty-four common councilmen.
Richard the First conferred many privileges on the inhabitants, gave them the same liberties as London citizens, and made the mayor, butler, to attend his coronation.
It should, however, be observed, that the vice chancellor is the chief officer, not only over the University, but also over the city itself, before whom the mayor takes an oath to preserve the privileges of the University, and also, on a given day in February, the same officer, accompanied by sixty-two of the chief citizens, attend at St. Mary's church, and each pay one penny, in lieu of a great fine laid upon them in the reign of Edward the Third, for the slaughter of some of the students by the townspeople.
Here also have Parliaments been summoned, and many important conventions held during the time of the civil wars and others, and there are yet many remains of the fortifications thrown up during that eventful portion of our history.
Oxford possesses thirteen parish churches, exclusive of the cathedral, besides many noble buildings belonging to the University, of which more hereafter.
It is adorned with a capacious market place, courts of law, town and county gaols, infirmary, house of industry, and many others.
Its principal street is High Street, which is nearly half a mile in length, and eighty-five feet in breadth, and is adorned with some of the principal buildings of the place, having, within its limits four of the chief colleges; namely, Queen's, All Souls, University, and Magdalen, and the churches of St. Mary and All Saints; also Magdalen tower, and a fine stone bridge over the Cherwell.
This street has long been admired as the chief boast of the city, of which indeed it forms the most important part.
On the southern side is Fish Street, in which is displayed the magnificent front of the college of Christ Church, extending to the length of 280 feet, and is altogether a magnificent building.
In the same street are the courts of justice, and the town and county gaols.
In the northern portion of the city are many superior buildings, among others the churches of St. Giles and Magdalen, and the colleges of St. John and Baliol.
Of the churches, that of St. Mary, founded by Alfred, is the principal, and is appropriated to the use of the University.
The tower is a fine object seen at a distance, and gratifying to behold when nigh; it is in height 180 feet, and is curiously embellished and cut.
Its interior is well fitted for the purposes to which it is applied: at one end is the vice chancellor's throne, having seats for the subordinates placed around, according to their different degrees of rank, the whole having a most pleasing effect, especially upon those to whom the sight is a novelty.
All Saints is comparatively modern.
It was built by subscription, the old one having fallen down in 1699.
The spire is thought to be one of the most complete in the kingdom.
This building was erected entirely from a design furnished by Dr. Aldrick, then dean of Christ Church.
St. Peter's is the most ancient, having been built, according to Asser, as early as the year 816.
This church is exceedingly curious in its various parts, and will well repay the most minute inspection.
To give a proper account of the whole would fill a volume, and it is to be regretted that our limits are such as to preclude the attempt; it is for that reason a glance has merely been taken of the principal objects of attention, nothing like a description having been attempted even of them.
We will now proceed to take a brief notice of the University, from which this city derives its chief splendour and greatest importance, and which, to use the words of Camden, is, "the sun, the eye, and soul of England".
Of its first formation we have no clear date — the best proof of its antiquity; a St. Grimbald is supposed to be entitled to that honour; but of this we are certain, that when the faintest glimmerings of knowledge shone in this isle, Oxford was the spot whence such light emanated.
It is also certain, that without having any special favour conferred or encouragement held out, certain persons had settled themselves here prior to the time of Alfred, for the purpose of pursuing those paths of learning most congenial to their dispositions, and acquiring that knowledge which Bacon has so justly termed "power".
In Alfred's time it had acquired some consideration as a place of learning, there being several schools, in which the study of various branches of the sciences were prosecuted.
It is, indeed, supposed that Alfred himself was the founder of three schools, namely, of philosophy, grammar, and divinity.
Though successful in its commencement, yet had it nearly found an early grave, through domestic broils and civil divisions; but after the Conquest it seems rapidly to have risen in consequence, for in the time of Henry the Third, when it first received the style of an University, it is said to have consisted of 15,000 scholars, such as they were.
Once again it nearly made ship wreck of its fortunes, for in the reign of Edward the Third the scholars having divided into two factions, and a rupture ensuing, a separation took place, many of the students retiring to Stamford and elsewhere; but finally, all sores having been healed, those who had quitted the town once more returned, and as the country became settled, justice properly administered, and property protected and rendered secure, men had leisure to turn their thoughts to literary pursuits, and to found and endow colleges to supply that learning to others which they had been unable to obtain for themselves.
Finally, after having experienced a variety of vicissitudes, and many reverses of fortune, it has risen to a degree of splendour vainly to be sought elsewhere, and attained a pitch of grandeur which makes it not only an object of pride to the natives of this kingdom, but also of admiration to the whole world.
It now consists of twenty colleges and five halls.
The following is a list of the colleges, with the names of their founders, and the reign in which such foundation took place:—
|Baliol||Baliol, father to the Scottish king of that name||in the reign of Henry the Third.|
|Merton||Merton, Bishop of Rochester and Lord Chancellor||This college was removed from Maldon in Surrey — Edward the First|
|Oriel||Adam de Brome, Almoner to Edward the First||Edward the Second|
|Exeter||Walter Stapleton||Edward the Second|
|Queen's||Robert Eaglesfield, Chaplain to Philippa, Queen to Edward the Third||Edward the Third|
|New College||William of Wiccam, Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor||Edward the Third|
|Lincoln||Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln||Henry the Sixth|
|All Souls||Hugh Chichely, Archbishop of Canterbury||Henry the Sixth|
|Magdalen||Wainfleet, Bishop of Winchester||Henry the Sixth|
|Brazen Nose||Smith, Bishop of London||Henry the Seventh|
|Corpus Christi||Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester||Henry the Eighth|
|Christ Church||Cardinal Wolsey||Henry the Eighth|
|Trinity||Sir Thomas Pope||Mary|
|St. John Baptist||Sir Thomas White||Mary|
|Wadham||Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham||James the First|
|Pembroke||T. Tisdale and Dr. Richard Whitchurch||James the First|
|Worcester||Sir T. Coke, formerly Gloucester Hall|
The five halls are, Alban, Edmund, St. Mary, New Sun, and St. Mary Magdalen.
These halls are the remains of places, which, in former times, were appropriated to the use of the students, where they lived as in hotels, at their own charge and expense, and which they indeed now do in those that remain.
Each of the colleges above specified have ample revenues which support fellowships, scholarships, &c., and which serve to adorn and beautify the chapels, cloisters, libraries, quadrangles, groves, and gardens, by which they are respectively surrounded.
Among its various libraries, the most famous is the Bodleian, superior to any in England, (save the public one in the British Museum,) founded by Sir Thomas Bodley, to whose memory a monument was erected by Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset, Chancellor of the University.
Of the officers belonging to this seat of learning, the first is the chancellor, usually a nobleman, chosen for life; the next in rank is the vice chancellor, one always in orders, who can exercise the same power as the chancellor, and act in all things as he would or could — he has also the power of nominating four pro-vice chancellors from the heads of colleges, to officiate during his absence; two proctors, masters of arts, chosen yearly; a public orator; a keeper of the archives; a registrar, &c. &c. &c.
Thus much of Oxford, of which but a feeble description has been given; and thus much of a tour, which, though it occupied but a small portion of time, yet afforded much pleasure, and was attended with a good deal of instruction and useful information not always to be found in books.
It would not be unreasonable to suppose that the reader might here look for some observations, setting forth the advantages of pedestrianising before that of any other mode of travelling, and certainly a few pages might easily be filled with such observations, were it not for one single reason, which is this, that all which could be said in its favour might very well be summed up in a single sentence or two; as, for instance — the pedestrian has only his own amusement and gratification to seek, and his progress is not dependant upon chance; he has no carriage that may break down, or horse that may knock up; he is not retarded by the inconvenience of the one, or obliged to suit himself to the capacities and strength of the other, but may make his way or loiter on his path as seemeth him best; and his mind having no other care to engross his attention but that of the one object before him, he is thus enabled to derive from it a greater pleasure than he would if the contrary had been the case.
With respect to the present work, though it is merely printed for distribution among a small circle of the author's friends and acquaintance, yet he is anxious for them to believe that he has attempted to execute the task he had imposed upon himself in such a manner as might convince them that he was solicitous to secure their good opinion, and also, if it were possible, to gain their approbation: of one thing, however, he is certain, that however feeble may be the language employed, and loose the method of description, there will be at least some credit due to him for the zealous care which he has taken respecting the accuracy of the dates, and that no facts should be stated which the author by diligent search has not discovered to be based on a true and solid foundation.
Having said thus much, he most respectfully bids them farewell.
T. W. Hord, Printer, Museum Street, Bloomsbury.