[ WTSWG = 'Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide': http://thames.me.uk ]
Folly Bridge; WTSWG
Dominican Black Friars; WTSWG
Franciscans (The bends above Folly Bridge); WTSWG
Osney Lock (Osney Abbey); WTSWG
Rewley Abbey (Four Rivers); WTSWG
Fiddler's Island, Medley Weir & Footbridge; WTSWG
The Perch; WTSWG
Godstow Bridge (and The Trout Inn at Godstow); WTSWG
King's Weir (now of course King's Lock); WTSWG
The River Evenlode; WTSWG
'There is a hill beside the silver Thames' (by Robert Bridges); set at Ark's Weir in WTSWG
Eynsham Weir (Eynsham Lock, 1928); Eynsham Lock in WTSWG
Eynsham Bridge (officially Swinford Bridge); Eynsham Bridge in WTSWG
Pinkhill Lock; Pinkhill Lock in WTSWG
Bablock Hythe; Bablock Hythe in WTSWG
Northmoor Lock; Northmoor Lock in WTSWG
Newbridge; Newbridge in WTSWG
The River Windrush; Windrush in WTSWG
Shifford Village & Church; Shifford in WTSWG
Shifford Lock; (Duxford) Shifford Lock in WTSWG
Tenfoot Bridge; Tenfoot Bridge in WTSWG
Tadpole Bridge; Tadpole Bridge in WTSWG; Trout Inn at Tadpole
Rushey Lock; Rushey Lock in WTSWG
Old Man's Bridge; Old Mans Bridge in WTSWG
Radcot Lock; Radcot Lock in WTSWG
Radcot Bridge; Radcot [new] Bridge in WTSWG; Radcot [old] Bridge; Swan Inn at Radcot
Grafton Lock; Grafton Lock in WTSWG
Eaton Hastings; Eaton Hastings in WTSWG
Kelmscott; (The Plough Inn) Kelmscott in WTSWG
Eaton Hastings Footbridge; (site of old weir) Eaton Hastings Footbridge in WTSWG
Buscot; (lock & village) Buscot in WTSWG
St John's Bridge; St John's Bridge in WTSWG; Trout Inn @ St John's
St John's Lock; St John's Lock in WTSWG
Lechlade; (Halfpenny Bridge) Halfpenny Bridge in WTSWG
Inglesham Roundhouse; (Limit of Powered navigation) Roundhouse in WTSWG
Inglesham; (& Church) Inglesham & Church in WTSWG
Hannington Bridge; Hannington Bridge in WTSWG
Kempsford; Kempsford in WTSWG
Castle Eaton; Castle Eaton (The Red Lion) in WTSWG
Castle Eaton Bridge; Castle Eaton Bridge in WTSWG
Cricklade; Cricklade in WTSWG
Cricklade Bridge; Cricklade Bridge in WTSWG

The Stripling Thames
Fred. S. Thacker

[ The text is complete - but I have yet to add images and links. ]

Frontispiece "PHASELUS ILLE" At Shiplake

PHASELUS ILLE at Shiplake. Photograph by Fred S. Thacker

Frontispiece Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
[ "Phaselus ille" - "The boat" Catullus 4
The Author's double sculling Thames skiff with thwarts and thole pins ]

"Sequor Te per gramina . . . Campi, teper aquas . . volubiles,"

3 Dyers' Buildings, Holborn

It is a pleasure publicly to thank the many correspondents who have helped me in the preparation of this book. I would especially desire to name Mr. Charles J. Beadon, of Latton, in respect of information and the gift of many drawings; the Rev.G. E. C. Rodwell, M.A., vicar of Bampton; and Mr. Arnold Fairbairns and Mr. Henry Thacker for reading my proofs.
I also express my gratitude for the confidence of all who encouraged me, before publication, with their most generous support.
In a final chapter I have included some additional and corrective notes.
[ Which have been inserted at the appropriate points in this copy ]

Chapter 1: Introductory

"This little stream whose hamlets scarce have names,
This far-off, lonely mother of the Thames."

It is the cradle of the River of which I have set out to write; of the Thames in his remoter distances. And though of abiding love, the task is not of love alone. For among all the perennial harvests of books upon the subject there are so few that do not either ignore, or dismiss with too slight a notice, the peculiar charm and deep historical interest of the beginning of Thames.

And this attempt of mine to set down fully and lovingly, while yet there is time, the quiet fascination of his distant sedgy reaches will make its chief appeal to those who choose contentedly to rely upon their own natural powers to convey them from place to place. I write for no maker and breaker of records; for none who delights in engines of locomotion, whether on land or water.

If this ancient and still unspoiled countryside is to be wandered through fittingly you must traverse its roads upon your feet, and pull and steer your craft along its winding reaches with your own arms. You may hope for an occasional lift from a village cart; and where the reeds are not too high or the path not too decayed you may shoulder the line and tow. And who knows, for eyes that can see and for ears that can hear, from what fringe of willows or rushy island the shaggy god may not emerge to cut and fashion a reed and blow thereon with mad delight some "unheard, sweeter melody"? For neither is he dead. nor Syrinx; hereabouts they still inhabit as surely as anywhere in England.

The reeds that rustle in the breeze
Still whisper of the god's pursuit;
Slim Syrinx startled turns and flees,
Great Pan has shrilled his oaten flute!

Parts of four counties come within my plan: Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire: a tract something less than thirty miles from east to west in a direct line, and comprehending I think all the hamlets, villages and towns within three or four miles north and south of the River, and a few that lie at a little greater distance. The Thames makes a winding course of fifty-four miles between these limits; and although there be other regions in England even richer in history and beauty, they lack the prestige and the crowning embellishment he bestows. I have learned to love this countryside, to wish to revive for myself its ancient life, and to discover what share of the wide history of England it was immediately aware of. And I have therefore explored many libraries and gleaned some harvest from their discoloured folios and pamphlets; I have learned much through the courtesy of rectors and of lowlier men; and often a sentence or a mere word of my book has been the reward for a day's tramp or a long search through ancient volumes. "All inquiry into antiquity," says Emerson,"is the desire to do away this wild, savage, preposterous There or Then, and introduce in its place the Here and Now. " It has fascinated me thus to annihilate the centuries, and in my own person help to build these bridges, to reanimate places now desolate with the well filled towns or older earth dwellings that once were found in them and are no more. It is no solitude beside the broken village cross where living companies once assembled to hear a preacher or a messenger of great tidings; before some haggard monolith around which the earth trembles again with the tramp of the clans gathering for their worship of the sun; in uninhabited spots where once more is almost to be heard the hum of the earth dwellers who hunted their daily food with bows of sinew and arrow heads of flint; or footsore upon one of the old unswerving Ways to follow the onward marching eagles and ensigns of the Senate and People of Rome. So the past has lived again for me; and I have realised that "there is properly no history, only biography"; and that in myself, as in us all, primitive man and man of all the periods lives and moves and has his constant being.

There is hardly one of these small towns and smaller villages without some hold, slight or tense, upon articulate English history. To each a volume might be devoted, full of interest to those for whom nothing human is alien. And in passing I may say what a national loss it seems, that there is no such thing as a Public Record kept from year to year as a State duty in every parish of the country, easily accessible to the interested. Be this as it may: there is one great historical event which closely affected almost every community within the range of my book, from Osney to Cirencester: I mean the Suppression of the Monasteries, and its consequence that all these churches, and all the great vanished religious houses of which they were sometimes the chapels, which were built and maintained by the munificence of the adherents of the ancient Faith, were, by a process of judicial robbery unequalled in our annals, seized by Henry VIII at the welcome instigation of his minister Cromwell, their gold and silver filched, their lands sold without title or warrant, their carved stonework hopelessly mutilated, and the church buildings themselves, when preserved at all, used for a partially altered office foreign to the tenets of their founders. I know the worst, the hideous worst, that can justly be urged against the conduct of many of these houses; I know of the witness of the Statutes of Mortmain to their rapacity; I know, too, that not only active vice but a lamentable neglect of their sacred duties is a strong count in the indictment. But these evils were never the master reason for their suppression or a Henry VIII would not have stirred a little finger against them. The spoils were very scantly devoted to the advancement of religion and education, though voluble professions were made that this was the end in view; nor was any attempt made, whatever the difficulties, to restore the estates to the descendants of the men who had bequeathed them (under whatever priestly terrorism) in return for prayers for the repose of their souls; although, as Burnet well observes: "the grants were of the nature of covenants, given in consideration of the masses to be said. " So strong indeed was the inference that "the lands ought to revert to the heirs of the donors, that it was thought necessary to exclude them by a special proviso. " Greed of their revenues for quite other purposes was the ruling motive; and the robbery was advanced by gross deceit and evil faith. Two-fifths of the tithes alone, says the Victoria History of Oxfordshire, were lost to the Church by the Suppression. And an interesting sidelight upon subsequent history, rarely mentioned in the books, is that it was a generous picking of this monastic property falling to the Cromwell family which was ultimately to enable the Puritan Lord Protector to assist the war against Charles I so considerably from his private resources.

By no means do I claim to have written a guide book which shall indicate the smoothest way between this place and that. I had no such intention; and, moreover, the winding River is no economical base for the pedestrian. You are largely compelled to leave the waterside just where the roads elect to cross it; or occasionally by obscure paths from lockhouses and footbridges; and these are comparatively infrequent upon the remoter Thames. When I have found myself on foot I have visited the places of my pilgrimage just as the spirit of the road and my maps allured me; at different times and in divers directions; and never with much thought of saving either time or distance. Speaking generally, however, the various clusters of villages will be found to be grouped with some measure of convenience as regards access to them from the River banks. And I have followed the upstream, rather than the more usual downward, course; chiefly because my visits have always started from Oxford upwards. Oxford herself, Oxford of the spires, Oxford of the fritillaries, I do not attempt to describe, except that western suburb which stands upon Osney island, through its numerous watercourses an ancient protection of the city, and, while under the dominion of the abbey, an ancient thorn in the side of the University and of the townsfolk. A hurried and confusing glance at the outermost of her beauty might be secured within the limits of a day, and I planned at first to include some such hasty catalogue. But Oxford demands that a holiday, nay, a lifetime, be devoted entirely to her history. And she belongs, moreover, to the decorous and well frequented part of the River; and here I am all for the lonely and enchanted land beyond her boundaries.

THE FRITILLARY. From a water colour sketch by Charles J. Beadon.

The absurd old discussion about the name Isis I am almost ashamed to allude to. There is not a single title deed or folk tradition but employs the well loved name of Thames, and it only, in referring to the remoter stream. The deeds of Buscot manor, to mention an unhackneyed instance, speak of the estate as "bounded by the Thames. " If you are tracing your first footsteps by the Riverside hereabouts, do not enquire for the Isis of the country people you meet. They do not know any such stream; and they are the true, the undeniable authority.

Within this little tract of country that seems to hide and defend itself from intrusion, night time on the River has its own special memories of solitude and aloofness. As the twilight deepens you may discern, between trunks of sheltering willows, where:

Set south in the Vault of the night
The Belt and sidereal Sword
Flash forth in effulgence of light
The conquering Sign of the Lord.

Except on the warmest, stillest evenings one covers the boat by nine o'clock; and then perhaps a huge moth, often two, will emerge from some hiding place beneath the gear and sail about inviting the death it should get for it will make an irritating rattle against the tightened canvas all night if you spare it. A lad I sometimes take has become an adept at the sport. After lights are out sounds grow loud which in the day time pass unnoticed. A leaping fish will fall back into the water with a crack like a pistol; leaves drop with a hard and sudden rap; the night breeze sets the boat creeping to and fro a short length against the grass and rushes on the bank; a rat or so will scuff its claws along the top of the canvas and plop into the water off the end (I never saw one in the craft); a shower may swell from tiny needle taps to an almost deafening fusillade; there will be sudden foaming rushes through the water, perhaps of an otter after his prey; and creatures of the dark steal and rustle over the dry leaves and underwood ashore. I woke once above King's weir and lay listening to slow hoofs and slow heavy breathing close at hand, and peering under the canvas could just discern in the white dense mist of an August night a ghostly grey old horse moving about at pasture, and stopping now and then to stare uncannily at me. At Bablock Hithe I was entertained several mornings soon after dawn by a score of skittish young bullocks, whose youthful inquisitive nosings of my hamper and gear on the meadow side were very amusing. And I had a curious experience once at Eynsham. I had moored one night in a little stream six feet deep that runs out of the Thames and rejoins him lower down. There was a string of barges to pass down the River, and as the weir was flashed to float them over my current reversed itself, and we sank lower into the channel until we almost touched bottom. About ten o'clock they had done; and as the paddles were replaced in the weir the current resumed its ordinary direction, and my boat began to rise again with the rising water, and we had to sit with lighted candles and watch the vertical bank, as in a lock, lest the boat should catch and overturn. A bereaved cow will mourn the whole night through; and once a great company of ducks had a terrible scare from a rat, and talked about it until daylight. A fickle sleeper, I have had unwelcome opportunities of observation and have gracelessly felt irritated at times at my luckier and unconscious companions.

The dawn comes up by imperceptible degrees; the opalescent mists wreathe and fade under the ascending sun, and the birds begin to flutter softly to and fro, perching sometimes on the canvas for their morning song - it is pretty to watch their little pattering feet. The air is then fresher than in the coolest room; and close against you, level with your eyes,

The ancient River, singing as he goes
To join the ancient sea,

takes on a celestial hue of pearl, gliding whole upon his way. Not very far off the murmur of a weir swells and dies upon the morning breeze; sounds grow less as sight grows clearer; and it is well worth the most sleepless night to rise to such newness and freshness, to a background of Sinodun Clump or Wytham hill, or that lovely slope of buttercups above the lock at Shiplake.

The voyage upstream from Oxford can always be quite comfortably performed in any kind of pleasure craft till about two miles above Lechlade. From that point you may, in uncomfortable wet seasons, get to Cricklade at the very utmost; in average summers you will do no more than get a canoe to Kempsford while at the worst you may leave the boat at Lechlade and walk the remainder of the course through meadows and rare villages that have seen no serious change the last three hundred years.

And a wise word from Hilaire Belloc shall conclude this preface. "For a man to know the world he must not sleep now and again in the open or now and again for a freak in some dirty inn where there is bad cooking and bad wine; he must so sleep continually day after day. He must not have only an object before him in his journeys such as the visiting of a famous shrine he must also have an object all the way along, to note whatever he may pass; and he must so draw his itinerary that it shall be something out of the common that is, something exposing one always to discomfort and often to peril. There are few men who care to pay the price; and after all the effect of their hesitation is excellent, for they run off to vulgarise the New World and the Far East, and they leave England and Europe to the intimacy of those who love them best.

Chapter 2

Rivers were made for wise men to contemplate;
and fools to pass by without consideration.

Upstream of Oxford WTSWG

However often one may turn upstream under Folly Bridge, it is always with a sense of entering upon an undiscovered land that for many centuries has lain quite undisturbed. Once beyond the city boundaries there begins to stir within the heart the gladness of escape from civilisation and modernness, of the dawn of a world still to be explored however often visited. To the ordinary voyager from London, intent upon "doing the River" in the fewest possible days, Salters' raft is the ultimate limit and source of the Thames. He learns, if he learns anything, of mere slums above, of gasworks and railway bridges and easily concludes that Nuneham and Iffley are the last word the River has for him, and that beyond this raft he need not ascend.

Bacon's Study - Welcome's Folly - The Folly Bridge

Astride the north end of the Norman bridge once stood a tower known as Friar Bacon's Study, which tradition says the old astronomer used as an observatory of the stars. It was built, probably, at the end of the twelfth or early in the thirteenth century. Somewhere about 1650, having fallen very ruinous, it was leased to a citizen named Welcome, who repaired and heightened it. His neighbours, sceptical of its advantage to him, nicknamed his venture "Welcome's Folly," and the epithet stuck, ousting high-sounding Grand Pont and legitimate South Bridge; and thus we get the colloquial modern title.

Pepys came along and viewed it in 1668: "To Friar Bacon's Study: I up and saw it, and gave the man 1s. Bottle of sack for Landlord, 2s".

The tower was taken down in 1779, about half a century before the bridge upon which it stood. There is said to be a model of the old bridge in the Ashmolean but it could not be found the afternoon I went to see it. Yet they sell you little views in the shops, as it appeared from above; with two round side arches, and one pointed in the centre; and heavy angular piers like New Bridge. There is the Friar's Study plain to see; whether the sketch is authoritative I cannot tell.

Here is an excellent story about him out of Wood.
"Once upon a time several Scholars of Cambridge came to dispute with the Scholars of Oxford, the which Fryer Bacon hearing, fained himself a Thatcher, and when he was upon a house at Oxford Town's end, he, upon the approach of the Cantabrigians, came down to meet them, and drawing near to them, one of the Cantabrigians said to him:
Rustice quid quaeris?
Bacon the Thatcher answered:
Ut mecum versificeris.
Then quoth another of the Cambridge Scholars:
Versificator tu?
Bacon answered
Melius non Solis ab ortu.
Whereupon the Cantabrigians seeing that Oxford Thatchers were so good Versifiers, and being afraid of the Scholars themselves, returned to Cambridge re infecta.

Friar Roger Bacon was "of a genteel Family among the People of the County of Dorset, near Cirencester," curiously prints an old Church history. He was in orders in Oxford in 1233, and after a period of absence returned about 1250. Then followed various imprisonments, the lot of all men at all times who have been in advance of their age. He died in Oxford about 1294,"unheard, forgotten, buried," as he lamented long before his death. His most popular invention was the magnifying glass; but he was self-instructed in many things then quite wonderful, such as the laws of refraction, the nature of explosives, and the movements of the stars and of comets. There were of course many fabulous legends about him; one of which was that he had used certain magic in the construction of the Study, so that if any man cleverer than he passed beneath it, it would collapse and kill him. Hence the old ironic warning to freshmen:
"Do not walk too near the Friar's Tower."

The hollow bit of road between the Study and the old south gate of the city at the lower end of Christ Church was in Wood's time "meadow and pleshy ground"; and the bridge arches continued northwards over it. Many other arches also stretched south of the River over the marshy ground and streams of Thames; so that he reckoned altogether no less than forty to the complete bridge. On the southward end of the main part there stood in ancient times a little chapel of St. Nicholas, a hermitage; such another as once stood by New Bridge and many other bridges of importance. Its builders were the brethren of Abingdon, probably; it was in their country; "a pretty little stone building" where the hermits spent their lives in prayer and in ceaselessly digging their own graves and refilling them. Another and more respectable labour was the mending of highways and bridges, out of which grew the responsibility in later times of keeping Grand Pont in good repair, the solitary hermit then surviving meeting the cost from the tolls he was empowered to collect. The chapel went to ruin at the Suppression; a cottage remembered by Wood was built upon its site, called the Court of the Archdeacon of Berkshire.

Dominican Black Friars WTSWG

As you voyage upstream all the left bank, from Folly Bridge to Medley Weir, is stately in the imagination with the ghostly towers of departed monasticism. The Dominicans, first in place but second in time, possessed a settlement that descended to the left bank of the River immediately above the bridge, often flooded when Thames was high.
They came into Oxford in 1221; and their pioneers were presented with their first site in the Jewry, where the municipal buildings now stand at the south-eastern corner of Carfax.
This soon proving too cramped the brethren moved about forty years later to this island (as it was then, and still is, though not very obviously), which Henry III granted them; and there continued until the Suppression, leaving not much mark, I think, upon Oxford except place names, the Blackfriars Road and the Preachers' Pool, the wide water just as you approach the gasworks bridge, where the southwest corner of their holding lay.
They went the way of the rest, liked though they were by the people for their preaching. Henry VIII sold their land and buildings for about £12,000 of modern money; and it all finally passed into the hands of one William Freere of Oxford and Agnes his wife; "who, to make the best advantage they could, pulled down the church and most part of the house; and sold the stones, lead, glass, bells, etc., at cheap rates." Wood found in 1660 only "a peice of ground desolate and naked, and yeilding nothing not soe much as one stone to give testimony to the Dominicans of Oxford."

The neighbourhood is full now of little poor streets, along which stretches here and there a length of ancient wall. The narrow stream that constituted the northern and eastern limits of their island seems largely built over; you see nothing of it where it flows under St. Aldate's at Rose Place, though it visibly rejoins the Thames upon the left bank just below Folly Bridge.
Many notable people were buried in their church; they got a good grip upon the gentry! Piers de Gaveston, the favourite of Edward II, originally lay here, though his remains were soon transferred to the Dominican church at King's Langley, and there reburied by the king in great state; "the nobles not caring to be present." And local people who more intimately concern Thames-side history came hither to their long rest; of whom I will tell you later.

Fransciscans: WTSWG

The Franciscans were close neighbours to the Black Friars, but did not extend down to the modern navigation. Their story is in the old books; wherein you may read how that, upon the arrival of their two pioneers at Abingdon one dark and stormy night, the Benedictine brethren gave them a hearty welcome under the mistaken impression that they were wandering jesters; and spurned them just as heartily out of doors on finding that they were "professors of an apostolick life." The Dominicans on the other hand received them at Oxford "familiarly and lovingly," and lodged them well for "eight dayes space," till they found their own habitation.

The River is not long in giving a foretaste of its meandering. Old Thomas Fuller waxed mildly satirical over it, three hundred years ago.
"Rowing on the Thames," he says,"the waterman confirmed me in what formerly I had learnt from the maps; how that river, westward, runs so crooked, as likely to lose itself in a labyrinth of its own making. From Reading to London by land, thirty; by water a hundred miles. So wantonly that stream disporteth itself, as if as yet unresolved whether to advance to the sea or retreat to its fountain."
The good old man's figures are a thought eccentric it is to be wondered what language he would have used regarding it at Osney, at Pinkhill, and at Buscot.
The first few bends form a depressing scene of modern cottages and untidy naked banks, often beneath a pall of factory smoke; the very picture of desolation. After less than a quarter of a mile, however, of broken down sheds, of gasworks and woodyards, the meadows open out on the right bank, and there are willowed islands, outposts of the rural lovelinesses ahead. There follow two ugly iron bridges, the first of which belongs to the gasworks. Some day all our old stone bridges will be ruined by the demon motors, and in their place we shall get our deserts, troughs such as these.
Just past this first bridge you will see on the left bank a triangular grassy island, called in old maps George Island. The stream that enters the Thames on its eastern side is the ancient main navigation from Medley weir. The next land is Osney, an oval island very little less than a mile long, and about a third of a mile wide at its broadest part, containing both the railway stations of Oxford.

Osney Railway Bridge

The second bridge is that of the Great Western Railway, which running north cuts Osney lengthwise into two unequal parts.
Immediately beyond is a little cluster of interesting things. The Pot Stream re-enters on the right bank; one of several side streams into which the Thames divides above Oxford.
Just across the footbridge which spans its mouth is a monument to a lad of twenty-one, who lost his life on the fifteenth of June, 1869, after saving two lives here from drowning.

Oxford Castle

And looking back to the city there is a fine view of the grim old Castle frowning as vigilantly over the meadow levels as when Sir Robert d'Oilli erected it about 1073 to keep the troublesome citizens of Oxford in order under their new and terrifying masterful sovereign. "He raised with digging deep Trenches to make the River run round it, and made high Hills with lofty Towers and Walls thereon, to overlook the Town and Country adjacent; the Building of which [by sweated Jews cost but 20 Marks." The present tower, the only one left of several, served as the campanile to the church of St. George which d'Oilli founded within the walls. It has survived his bridge, but only to be rather shabbily enclosed within the precincts of the county gaol. This strong old soldier d'Oilli got into trouble with the monks over it. A wail went up from Abingdon:
"Amongst other evil deeds he took away a certain mead that lay outside the walls of Oxford with the King's consent, and made it over to the soldiers of the Castle for their use. This loss grieved the brethren of Abingdon more than any other evil." Yet he was buried amongst them in 1091 in that abbey whose quiet ruins I know nine miles southward; and his wife by his side. He is said in late life to have softened his ways in consequence of a dream, wherein he beheld himself in a royal palace, and a great queen upon her throne. By her stood two monks of Abingdon, who knelt before her as he approached, and cried out that it was he who usurped her possessions and diminished her glory. She commanded him to be thrust forth into a meadow, and being forced to sit some little boys brought damp grass and setting fire to it smoked him. Whereupon he and his wife agreed to make reparation; she comforting him with: "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. "
The tree-clad mound its neighbour is far older than the Castle. King Edward the Elder, son of Alfred, heaped it up in the opening of the tenth century as a link in a chain of fortification against the Danelagh.
Queen Maud, besieged in the Castle by King Stephen, escaped in the night over the ice and snow to Wallinglord with an escort of but two or three knights, passing on the way a bribed sentinel of the king. She seems to have been an expert at this sort of business, having once escaped from Winchester on horseback during a pretended trance, and from Devizes as a corpse in a coffin.

Osney Lock WTSWG

Osney old lock, says Mr. S. C. Hall, who with his wife (was it dux foemina facti? one wonders) wrote that charming old book of theirs about 1850, was extremely picturesque, and a great favourite with painters. Did they work it as threadbare as their successors did Iffley? Dilapidated it was even in his time. The present lock, however, nearly a mile from Folly Bridge, has something of the same pleasant surroundings, approached along a willowed bank and overhung with tall shady elms.

Osney Abbey (Augustinians)

Now behind the mill buildings that border the lock you will find a ruined arch and a window or two, the only material relics of the Augustinian monastery that once made the River approach to Osney so much statelier than now. It is the second. you reach, and the first in time, of three great religious establishments that bordered the modern navigation above Folly Bridge. Robert d'Oilli, son of Nigel the first Robert's brother,"a soft man, fonder of women than of fighting," founded the original Norman building in 1129 as a mere priory, here upon the southern half of Osney island. His wife, who had been Edith Forne and a favourite with Henry I, used to walk out pleasuring from the Castle along the meadows and the labyrinth of little watercourses even more numerous then than now; and remarked that in one place there was always a company of magpies who freely screamed and chattered at her and her gentlewomen. It grew upon her like a portent, and of Raduiph of St. Frideswide she sent and enquired the interpretation. The monk requested to be allowed to view the spectacle with his own eyes, and having done so, and taken a little time for consideration, explained,"wiliest pye of all," that the birds were souls in purgatory, and their chattering a petition that she would build a convent near their haunts and purchase their repose. "And is it so indeed? " said she; "now, de pardieux, if old Robin my husband will conceede to my request! " After some argument her husband granted her prayer, and Ralph became first prior. It rose to an abbey and was rebuilt and enlarged in 1247, so that its church ultimately came to contain twenty four altars. "This Society, and its Attendants and Servants, had within themselves a Tannery upon the River Eld, beyond the Mill Stream, for Leather and Parchment; a Brew house, Bake-house, and Slaughter house; divers tradesmen, as Bookbinders, Taylors, Luminours, Wax-Chandlers, with many other Professions. The Houses of these, like a little Town, were seated at the West End of the Abbey, on the other side of the old Water Gate, by the River Side, and formed a Parish, whose Inhabitants used to attend Divine Service, by leave of the Bishop of Lincoln, at St. Nicholas Church"; the original name of the present St. Thomas's; an undistinguished and gloomy church as I saw it once under a dull October sky. How strange and repulsive, entering with my heart full of the old centuries, looked that obese cherub on a tomb in the porch! The church was built, says Wood, in 1141, and dedicated to St. Nicholas,"when the Castle with Maude the Empresse therin was beseiged by King Stephen, and the parishioners of St. Georg [the church within the Castle] could not have free accesse to their parish church. " It seems a curious occasion for church building, during an adjacent siege, under flying arrows and stone missiles; and Wood has been attacked on the point. However, he justifies his statement by the "Oseney book"; and there seems only the obvious improbability against his date. It suffered a period of neglect and desertion after the siege; and was then re-opened by the abbey people, with the new dedication to St. Thomas (A Becket), for their servants and workpeople, so that these "might not trouble the conventuall church. "

[Fred, Additions and Corrections, added these next two paragraphs at the end of his book]

IT was in St. Thomas's, Osney, that Robert Burton, of the Anatomy of Melancholy, laboured from 1616 until his death in 1640; "with much ado," truly, for he held a second charge at Segrave in Leicestershire. He put out his book in 1621, and Henry Cripps, his publisher, made a fortune out of it, quite in the modern style. He lived "a silent, sedentary, solitary private life, mihi et musis," writing his book to chase away melancholy, but "did but improve it. " The truest relief he could get from black depression was when he strolled down to the "bridge-foot" at Oxford and heard the bargees swear; "at which he would set his hands to his sides and laugh most profusely. " He was buried in the north aisle of Christ Church Cathedral, beneath his own epitaph: Paucis notus, ignotus paucioribus, hic facet Democritus Junior, cui vitam dedit et mortem Melancholia.

Where close here was it, precisely, that the good thing happened to Canon Liddon of which Canon Henry Scott Holland tells? "His courtesy to the poor was always beautiful. It was sorely tried on one occasion when, walking in the Hinksey meadow, he found a stout lady prostrated in a ditch. On being tenderly raised and lifted to her feet, she pronounced the cause to be sunstroke, and proposed to go home. Liddon was all pity, and offered his arm, and they started. But on nearing Osney, it appeared that the lady was widely known. Cries of 'Hullo, Duchess' arose. Porters looked over the railway bridge and called: 'I say, Duchess! who have you got hold of now? ' The lady moved along in triumph, on the arm of the bending clergyman, wreathed in smiles; and still Liddon never faltered until they reached her door in St. Thomas's, escorted by an admiring crowd. Never had the good lady had such a day. "

Oseney Abbey was the seat, for some short indefinite time, of the bishopric of Dorchester, removed later to Lincoln; hence the "leave" from this city. And as regards this River Eld, it was Thames water, not a tributary; but whether it was the stream that flows under Bulstake Bridge on the Botley road about five hundred yards west of the Thames, watering West Osney Mead, according to the map made for a modern edition of Wood, or the present navigation, which you cannot help thinking from Wood's own text, I am not able to determine.

"Wee see whatsoever heart could wish these monks did enjoy; and expended much in finishing of pleasant walks by the river's side and invironing them with elm-trees and also orchards, and arbours that were divided with cunning meanders; as also fishponds, dove-houses and what not. Besides this, a pleasant retirement to Medley. "

[Fred adds this at the end of his book]

Hearne prints in his Collections, in MS. vet. de Officiis Osney.
FINITO Agnus Dci cnollentur Douce, Clement & Austin, & post missam per non magnum spaciuni pulsentur. -Et notandum, quod semper post magnam missam pulsetur *Hauctecter, ad completorium Gabriel ve1 Jon. Douce, Clement, Austin, Hautecter, Gabriel, Job, nomina campanarum Ofney. *Potius, Hautcieri. ]

The Bells of Osney

The original names of its bells, famous all over England and even to a Scots historian, were Haute-clere, Doucement (or Douce, Clement), Austyn, Marie, Gabriel, and John. In the course of additions, breakages, and recastings, they had become at the Suppression "Mary and Jesus, Meribus and Lucas, New Bell and Thomas, Conger and Godeston (or Goldston; or was it Godestow?).
Now Thomas, recast in 1680, became the present Great Tom of Christ Church - "Mighty Tom" in a little essay of Mr. Froude's - weighing over seventeen thousand pounds; one of the largest bells in England, additional metal having been added in recasting. You may hear him now, not altogether faultless to expert ears, and all the other Osney ring, in Christ Church precincts. He tolls nightly one hundred and one strokes for the closing of the college gates. When in his original campanile he bore the inscription:
In Thomae laude resono Bim Bom sine fraude;
a legend which Edgar Allan Poe freakishly commended as a motto to the extremer admirers of Carlyle. His removal in 1546 to St. Frideswide's cost twenty shillings, equal perhaps to as many sovereigns today: "Paid to Willouby of Einsham for carriage of the great bell to Frydeswide's, 26 Sep. 20s."

There is an English translation of about 1460 of the Register of the abbey; a record of its endowments and its many disputes with Rewley and the "minchons" of Godstow about tithe and with Oxford town about quit rents and boundaries. One curious glimpse I found in pencil upon the fly leaf of some old volume, how that "in May, 1222, Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, held a general council; at which Two wicked miscreants (one of which was Androgynus, an Hermaphrodite) were condemned for pretending to personate our Saviour Xt, and counterfeiting the wounds of his Body: who were executed at Adderbury some twenty miles distant soon after; and with them 2 Women who personated the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene."

It is a lovely tranquil haven, the millhead stream, looking far removed from the modern world of railways and stores that are actually so near. "Very quiet," I hazarded to the maid who led me round to the surviving stones. "Yes," said she,"but not too quiet. I like it so." And you will like it when you behold the little glassy reach of clear water, in which shine reflected the feathery arches of lofty overhanging willows. Usually the remains are correctly described as of Osney Abbey, yet not invariably. The occasional confusion with Rewley so close at hand arises, I think, from both abbeys having owned "locks" upon the ancient or the present navigation. Osney indeed grew to have four; great "neausances," the city complained; and Wood mentions the "lock " by "Rewley Garden. " But these "locks" were no more than stanches across the stream holding up the water which, when allowed to escape, flooded craft over the shallows below. "Pound locks," as the modern sort were at first called for distinction, were not invented until the fifteenth century in Italy, some say by Leonardo da Vinci in draining the plains of Lombardy; or possibly, as others say, a hundred years earlier in Holland. In monastic times Oxford suffered from no fewer than fourteen of these obstructions, and there were many consequent disputes, and stipulations in conveyances; and complaints too from the city about either flooded lands or drought. Thus: "dicunt quod: they alledged that the Preceptor of Cowley raised Gurgitem, a lock upon the Thames, by which the River overflowed the Meadows of their Lord the King at Oxon. " One of Osney's was probably on or near the site of the present lock - in its English register you may read how Bernard St. Walery gave "to the church of god and of Seynte marie of Osney and to the chanons ther servyng god, my goter or locke [gurgitem meum] by themse with the course of water the which rennyth to the myllis of the Same chanons "; and still runs babbling beneath a mill. The existence of these "locks" at both abbeys has given rise to instances of confusion about the identity of the remains by the modern lock; but they are Augustinian; Rewley came no further south than Botley Causeway, which I think constituted the boundary between north and south Osney.
You will notice that in this ancient record the River is called "Thames" and "themse"; never Isis.

The Dissolution of Osney Abbey

"Henry VIII gave it up to loot, and it was looted very thoroughly" onwards from November, 1539 though the campanile stood until 1644. Dr. Johnson viewed "with indignation" such remains as existed in his time; a phrase of meaning from his lips! And in mordant humour they have laid out a cemetery gay with flowers over the tomb of the ancient splendours, from which quiet outlook you will gather much the clearest comprehension of all this tiny theatre of ancient histories. As you stand amidst the grassy mounds the spires and domes of Oxford rise in the east, and in their foreground gleams silver grey the huge square ruin of the Castle, arrogant even in antiquity; whence Edith d' Oilli so often issued to hear the chattering of the pies along the track of Osney Lane. Westward is the little cluster of mill buildings with the modest chimney against the lock; and Rewley must have been quite clear to see in the northeast, just beyond the black railway sheds less than half a mile away. Southward the island narrows down to its extremity; the old ground left on a lower level than the raised terrace of the cemetery.

I felt interested to see for myself what modern development has made of the old route from the Castle to the Abbey: "The Footway or Passage led over Bookbinders' Bridge through the Hamel, a broad paved way. " Just against the old mill, the lower part of whose walls looks as ancient as its grim neighbour, Quaking or Quaken Bridge joins Fisher Row to the Castle. Across Fisher Row and a few steps along High Street St. Thomas's is another watercrossing, hardly worth calling a bridge, but it is Bookbinders' Bridge across the ancient navigation, around which clustered the dwellings of the binders who worked for the colleges. I found a Bookbinders' Court but whether it will stand much longer I know not, for Fisher Row with all its picturesque insanitation is under sentence of demolition. This little stream was the eastern boundary of the abbey property; and Fisher Row was known as Warham Bank. Just beyond is the Hamel (there were two or three thoroughfares of this queer name in old Oxford), a short broad way leading into Osney Lane, paved still, though perhaps not with the same stones as Wood saw. A cross stood in it in his time, or at least was remembered there. And so along Osney Lane, across the railway to the cemetery and the mill. The way is still bordered near the Castle with the ancient cottages; but westward with model dwellings and the immemorial meadows of the Thames

Just above Osney lock are the city electric works. A group of willows used to hang over the opposite bank, and it was evil passing if a barge or two wished to share the channel, as often happened. But I found the trees cut down, and the scene all the more bare and thirsty, in the spring of 1906. A little higher an iron bridge of one span crosses the narrow stream, leading eastward to the railway station and westward to Botley and so to Wytham. It was built in 1888, succeeding the original stone bridge of three arches built probably by the Osney monks. Just above, at Four Streams, up a little side water on the right bank, is the local bathing place, where the ferryman is often busy with his regulation load of a dozen small boys; and here, too, a bystream on the left bank leads to the little lock by which the Oxford and Coventry Canal enters the River.

Rewley Abbey (Cistercian) Four Rivers in WTSWG

Just as Osney Abbey obtained the southern half of the island from d'Oilli and part of the northern half from Roger d'lvry, so the remainder of the northern end was bestowed upon Rewley (or North Osney) Abbey by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. The name is corrupted from regalis locus, or its Norman French equivalent roy lieu, which it deserved by virtue of its lord being King of the Romans. He had no very great design in whatever foundation he intended to make - merely an establishment of secular priests to pray for his soul; but his son Edmund established a regular Cistercian monastery,"having most confidence in them," which was dedicated to St. Mary and inaugurated in December, 1281, the first monks being drawn from Thame. From Edmund it received (against ancient canon law, but in conformity with a growing practice) the manor of Yarnton, much to the disgust of Eynsham Abbey, who had hitherto held some mills at Cassington; and tenements at Great St. Thomas Apostle in London; amongst other endowments. This abbey bordered upon the old, not like Osney upon the present, navigation; a mere stone's-throw northeast from the L. N. W. R. station; and if you will go to the Hythe Bridge, and walk northwards along the curious narrow peninsula between the old stream and the canal, you will see on your left hand, just past some cottages, a length of the old wall, in which is still the fine doorway of Hall's cut. I was ferried over in a leaky punt, and saw the pigstye built for stability against the sturdy old rampart, and a gnarled wooden pinnacle that once crowned a summerhouse the monks had close by. This doorway, carved by the Cistercians who cultivated Gothic so splendidly, is more beautiful than that at Osney mill.
A well known feature were the twenty one elms in two rows between the outer and inner gates, representing the monks, and one by itself at the far end for the abbot. The abbey almost wholly disappeared about 1536: " Mr. Robert Parret, organist of Magdalen (one that enriched himself by the spoil of religious houses) seems to have bought the church of Ruly, for at its dissolution he sold much stone. "

Fiddler's island & Medley Weir site in WTSWG

And now the banks finally clear themselves from the dwellings, and become breezy and open. It is sweet here in June with buttercups and the flower of the grass, with yellow iris and great clumps of shapely, upstanding dock. Beyond the raised towpath Fiddler's Island Stream saunters leisurely down, forming the boundary of allotment gardens and of the northwestern skirts of the city. Two miles from Folly Bridge lies the broad cheery expanse of Medley weir, where you go over the rollers by the side of the waters that rarely do more than whisper as they fall. Above the weir, one afternoon in the young summer, the wide water was alive with yachts fluttering ready at the River's edge, or tacking against the clean fresh wind. For here is the Oxford sailing ground, sailing for mere pleasure being tabu below Folly Bridge, owing to its interference with other craft in those somewhat narrow waters. A black spaniel swam across the ripples that danced and sparkled in the June sunshine and never surely did a shoal of minnows more enjoy life than that radiant afternoon. In the tiny arch of water that fell its inch or two over the weir they darted and gambolled, leaping high into the air for very fun, apparently, and exhilaration. Hundreds of little lives there seemed, flashing silver grey and olive green in the whispering water, and thudding harmlessly against the wooden weir beam in their excitement; a veritable minnow ladder; and a joy to remember! Keats must have watched some similar sight:

Where swarms of minnows show their little heads,
Staying their wavy bodies 'gainst the streams.
To taste the luxury of sunny beams
Tempered with coolness. How they ever wrestle
With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle
Their silvery bellies on the pebbly sand.
If ye but scantily hold out the hand,
That very instant not one will remain;
But turn your eye, and they are there again.

Perhaps it was at this very spot; for he was at work in Oxford, on his Endymion, in 1817, and wrote in one of his wonderful letters "This Oxford I have no doubt is the finest City in the world-it is full of old Gothic buildings - Spires, towers, Quadrangles- Cloisters-Groves etc. and is surrounded with more clear streams than ever I saw together. I take a Walk by the side of one of them every Evening. For these last five or six days, we have had regularly a Boat on the Isis, and explored all the streams about, which are more in number than your eye-lashes. We sometimes skim into a Bed of rushes. "

Junction at Medley Weir

[ Medley Weir remained until 1937 ]

Below the weir the River divides into three streams, of which the westernmost is the modern navigation, the middle is Fiddler's Island Stream, and the eastern-most the old Saxon route, traversing the city by way of Fisher Row and the Hythe Bridge.

Medley manor house, close to the weir, was a farm, they say, before the Conquest, and once belonged to the Godstow nuns. They appear to have used it as an oratory, and also as a demure little pied-à-terre in their journeyings to Abingdon and elsewhere. Osney had it before Godstow; it was conveyed to the abbey by Oxford town in 1147 as a penalty, the citizens having hung some alleged innocent students during a riot. An old drawing in the Bodleian shews it with a fine River frontage and gateway. Hearne says that "one of the places where the nuns used to recreate themselves was Midley or Medley, a large house between Godstow and Oxford"; and that it was in no sense a religious house. Within were many delightful walks and gardens; and the nuns in the summer time frequently retired thither for mirth and pastime, with Fair Rosamund for their companion. George Wither, who was at Magdalen in 1603, mentions the spot in one of his lyrical moments; would he had more of them!

"In summer time to Medley,
My love and I would go
The boatmen there stood ready,
My love and I to row
For cream there would we call,
For cakes and pruins too;
But now, alas! sh' 'as left me,
Falero, lero, loo

As we walked home together
At midnight through the town,
To keep away the weather
O'er her I'd cast my gown.
No cold my love should feel,
Whate'er the heavens could do;
But now, alas! sh' 'as left me,
Falero, lero, loo!

And Dr. Plot is impressive about a thunderstorm on the tenth of May, 1666, which rather terrified Oxford, but was "mischievous only at Medley, a well-known House; two Scholars of Wadham College, alone in. a Boat, and newly thrust off shore to come homewards, being struck from the head of the Boat into the Water, the one of them stark Dead, and the other stuck fast in the Mud like a Post, with his Feet downward, and for the present so disturbed in his Senses, that he neither knew how he came out of the Boat, nor could remember either Thunder or Lightning that did effect it. "

Just above the weir a curved iron bridge carries the towpath to the right bank, and immediately a raised causeway leads westward across a daisied green to Binsey, surely one of the tiniest of communities. As you walk along the causeway Binsey Lane comes through a gate upon the green from Oxford, the old road to Eynsham, and continues through an opposite gate to lead under arches of elms to the solitary little church a short half-mile away. The Perch stands upon the green, behind a duck pond, with pleasant lawns at the back and an old English skittle ground, busy on Saturday afternoons. To drink tea in the cool shade of its willow bowers is not the least idyllic of summer idlenesses.

Along the lane to the church the meadows blaze in June with the mauve of clover and great oxeye daisies and the russet tips of the young sorrel. In the hedges is pink-edged may, and the banks of the little Pot Stream are gay with ragged robin. Tall elms cast their grateful shade around a cattle gate that crosses the secluded roadway; and the delicious elusive fragrance of a hidden bean patch wafts dreamily upon the sense.

You will no longer find at Binsey the primitive chapel built here in 730 by St. Frideswide. It was no doubt very similar to the well restored tiny church at Greenstead, by Ongar in Essex, of which Green's History has an excellent drawing-a characteristic Saxon erection of wood, hastily put up to receive the body of St. Edmund, king and martyr, during its progress to London.

GREENSTEAD CHURCH, Ongar, Essex, to shew style of Saxon log walls.
GREENSTEAD CHURCH, Ongar, Essex, to shew style of Saxon log walls. Photograph by Fred. S. Thacker

The walls were of split trees, the flat inside and the round rough bark without, fitted into crossbeams above and below. Binsey no longer knows anything of such an edifice; but a little old stone church stands on the same site, dating back to about 1132. It contains a font of that date, a late Norman south doorway, an old timbered roof, and one or two splayed lancet windows. The north wall is entirely unlighted. On the roof is a quaint belfry turret with two bells. The nuns' house that adjoined was pulled down only in the seventeenth century, they say: "A house, with arched Windows and arched Door, joining to the North Side of Binsay Chapel, was pulled down in July 1678 by the Widow Fifield, to sell and save Reparation. Shee pluckd it downe, as 'tis said, to prevent beggars lying ther. "

St. Margaret's well, just by the west end of the church, was miraculously opened through the prayers of St. Frideswide. In ancient times it had a stone covering, and a picture of either St. Margaret or St. Frideswide; all pulled down by Alderman Sayre of Oxford in 1639. It was then long lost, but afterwards rediscovered; and it is regrettable that the love and care which restored it and surrounded it with new sheltering masonry are not extended to preserve it from the unwholesome state in which it sometimes is; in dry seasons often the merest puddle, choked with stones and deplorable refuse. Its water worked miracles after the saint's death, and was sold, it is said, for a guinea a quart. Jurkiva and Rilda, blind sisters of Eynsham, journeyed hither and received their sight- two Norse raven names out of the black night! The silence enjoined at these sources by the Romans is best here; still it remains the fittest homage:


they wrote up in their perdurable tongue. The well used to be dressed with flowers in the old days when they cared for such things.
When the new masonry was erected an Oxford wit suggested as a motto:

When you open your pew-door,
This may comfort supply,
Should the sermon be dry.


You are warned against "trespassing" beyond the church; but the old road from Oxford to Eynsham formerly continued along here, long since closed. It passed through Seckworth; and the remains of the ancient bridge by which it crossed the County Stream are still to be seen in the clear water.

This Frideswide, who left so deep a mark upon the Oxford country, was born quite early in the eighth century, the daughter of Dida, a ruler of the city, and his wife Safrida. Displaying very early a taste for the religious life she persuaded her father to build her a convent, whither she retired. Drawn by the fame of her beauty one Algar, a prince of the Leicester country, sent his men to demand her in marriage, and if unsuccessful to abduct her. She refused his advances; and the messengers attempting violence were stricken blind. Algar then journeyed southward in person; but being warned of his approach and probable fury Frideswide "hurried to the Thames, taking two sisters with her, Katharine and Cicely, where they found a youth of heavenly look, clothed in dazzling white, who seated them in a boat, and in a short hour's space landed them ten miles down stream at Abingdon. " In a drawing in the little Life by Father Goldie, S. J. , the angelic waterman is shewn propelling the craft with one oar astern, sea fashion, so that the arrival so far in so short a period was no doubt a miraculous intervention. Nowadays the locks alone will cost you the time. The youth and the boat vanished together when the nuns had landed. Meanwhile Algar, raging in his disappointment against the townspeople, was himself blinded, but healed, as his men had been, by the forgiving prayers of the saint. This blinding left so deep an impression that until Henry III it is said no monarch dared to enter her church. Frideswide's presence at Abingdon being betrayed through a miracle she performed, she fled back up the River to Binsey, where her father had held an estate, and there she built the little chapel of which I have spoken. She died there in 740. They say she once went to Rome, and returning through the little village of Bomy, [In Addition and corrections Fred added: This name should perhaps be Borny; but the whole legend of the Saint's journey is very hazy indeed. ] "four leagues from St. Omer," left such a fame that the church there was dedicated to her under the name of Ste. Fréwisse, and the little local stream bears the same name to this day. But no-one in France will confirm me this legend, nor even reply to me about it. And instead of Abingdon some histories name Bensington and Bampton as the saint's refuge from Algar; though both these places are much further by River than the legendary ten miles of her voyage. Wood is very strong for the latter town; and, indeed, there is much to be said for its claim, as you will find.

Her bones were disturbed under strange circumstances during the reign of Elizabeth. The dead body of Peter Martyr's wife had been exhumed by Cardinal Pole, a habit then very popular, to answer for heresy. But as she had had no English no witness could be found to her opinions; and she was therefore reburied in a dungheap for the breach of her vow of chastity committed when from a nun she became the wife of the German divine. Elizabeth, to balance matters, commanded that her bones should be rescued and mingled with those of Frideswide. Happily indeed did our Saxon forefathers change the name of the place from Thorney (the title of a certain other island) to Binsey, Bene ea, the Island of Prayer, a region of deep meadows and wooded hills. And proud enough are the natives of their history, and of the traditions of Seacourt, or Seckworth, mentioned in ancient records from 968 downwards (as Sevacorde in Domesday), with its once sixty-five thousand inhabitants and other vanished glories. It sprang up entirely in consequence of the huge resort of pilgrims to St. Frideswide's chapel and holy well, and is said to have contained over a score of hostelries and eleven churches for their bodily and spiritual sustenance. Only when the saint's shrine and priory were removed about 1158 into Oxford to the site of the present cathedral, and to form part of its structure, did the town dwindle down and ultimately vanish away. Wood says the people of Botley and Binsey in his time declared it paid tithes to no parish, and that if in any at all it was in that of Windsor. And now little but the name and tradition remain; though everybody seems to have these upon the tip of his tongue; and farm labourers and innkeepers are equally anxious to bring them to the attentive notice of the wanderer. A mere tiny hamlet, and Seacourt dairy, on the road between Botley and Wytham, now alone remain to witness to the ancient populous town under Wytham Hill, that reminds you in its beauty of Cooper's Hill so far away, so similarly wooded, so similarly illumined and shadowed with gold and purple in the level evening sun.

The Perch at Binsey The Perch in WTSWG

"Excuse my ignorance," a visitor said one day to the jolly landlord and his wife at the Perch,"but what are the Binsey treacle mines? " And the roar of laughter that went up was Titanic. By no less a title does local humour christen the mud holes that winter rains and floods leave in the neighbouring roads and footpaths. They say, too, that the inhabitants of the little place, so idyllic in summer, will reply, if asked where they live: "At Binsey! where do you suppose? " when the sunny days are with them. But in winter the groan goes up at the same question "At Binsey, Lord help us! "

Port Meadow

The broad and open stretch of water, resembling a long and winding lake rather than a river, with Port Meadow on its left bank, is the Oxford sailing reach I have already mentioned. Port Meadow, or Port-man's Mead, is a grand, breezy expanse of grazing land, about 440 acres in extent, mentioned in 'Domesday, where every Oxford freeman has had right of pasturage for his cattle since the time of Edward the Confessor; a right which not all the vicissitudes of the centuries have been able for long to alienate, though I think the Godstow minchons got a hold upon it for some time, and impounded cattle they found straying there. Each commoner once paid, it is said, a nominal annual tribute of twopence for each of his animals found at grass upon the day of inspection; which day, it need not be said, was not previously indicated. This arrangement, however, no longer exists; all the freemen enjoy the right without fee or stint; a special sheriff being elected annually to administer and preserve it. In summer the Mead serves equestrians excellently for their riding; and in winter, being often largely under water, it forms a fine skating ground, when there is any ice.

At a spot a quarter of a mile above Medley weir is a once important crossing of the River known as Binsey ford; a few yards above the causeway across Binsey Green. Hearne says this was the old ford from which Oxford has its name; but several other spots claim the honour; one by Folly Bridge, one over the old navigation, and others. All these last have fallen into disuse, but the Binsey ford is still clear to see, with its hard gravel foothold. It was in active use, indeed, within living memory, for the horses at grass on Port Meadow used to become so wild that they had to be headed across this ford on to Binsey Green, where they could more easily be caught. "Where islands have formed on the meadow side there was formerly a foot or more of water," says Mr. Taunt but on account of the dredging "near half the broad stream in the summer is entirely dry; and Black Jack's, once a willowy island, is now part of the meadow. " The River is still very deep and dark at Black Jack's (" Black John's Pitt" in Wood), though once much deeper. To scare youngsters from bathing there a bogey tale was told them of an evil goblin who would leap upon them and keep them under water in his cave.

Ahead across the grassland rises the tall chimney of the University paper mill, where the India and other papers used at the University Press are manufactured. The buildings can be better seen some distance higher, at Godstow, where they form a striking contrast of warm ruddy colour against the green. A young native pointed them out to me one day, saying in a low and impressive voice: " They have the finest machinery for making paper in England "; and I wondered what the other mills would say. The village where it stands is named Wolvercote: "the quiet little hamlet of Woolvercot; the only living creatures visible being some white geese on the green," wrote William Black of it as he knew it. It was here, according to Holinshed, that King Memphric, who about a thousand years before Christ originally founded Oxford, calling it Caer Memphric, was seized and devoured by wolves in a solitary dingle; hence the name.

A bridge you can see from Port Meadow in the same direction is over one of the side streams already spoken of; two others of which are the Reach and the Dunge. The first of them to leave the River is the Wytham Stream, up above King's weir; and it also rejoins last of all, just below Sandford lock. Wood calls this bridge Toll Bridge, and says a yearly fair was held there.


Wolvercote village stands on a little rising ground above the River level; nearly all new red brick. If you come in from the Woodstock Road you get a fine profile view of Oxford from the railway bridge. The church of St. Peter, like St. Kenelm's at Minster Lovel, is wholly Perpendicular, with a low but massive tower. The chief thing in it is the tomb that Anthony A Wood describes: "a fair monument built almost brest high whereon lie the effigies carved in stone of a judge in his formalities, on each side a wife, all carved in stone and painted to the life. " The group was "miserably defaced" during the Civil War; and in place of four sons and four daughters there remain only three of each. It is a most curious and uncommon spectacle, these large figures that kneel at head and foot of the prostrate man and women; the pairs nearest you largest, while those behind decrease in size. They commemorate Sir John Walter and his wives and children. He died in 1630, the owner of the Godstow property; and Jesus College thought it an honour to be allowed to erect this monument.

You may see also the tub font, much older than the church it stands in; with a shallow diaper pattern cut upon it, possibly with an axe edge in the ancient way.

A fine road leads northwest from Wolvercote, with the Blenheim woods far ahead, and Wytham Hill looming parallel on the left hand, beyond the low white framework of King's weir. You may turn before long through hayfields into Yarnton, and see its church and manor house; always an uplifting joy to behold, and loveliest when flooded with the golden pomp of an evening sun in June.

Chapter III

Ancient River, changing never,
Symbol of eternity;
Gliding water, lapsing ever,
Mirror of inconstancy.

Godstow Lock & Godstow Nunnery Godstow Lock in WTSWG, Godstow Nunnery in WTSWG

GODSTOW lock lies almost full upon the River as you steer round a sharp bend northwards.
One of the alluring glimpses of Thames scenery is the vista of wood and meadow and stream up the wide Trout backwater.
They say you can avoid two tolls by voyaging therealong and coming out just above King's weir; but it is barely worth while, considering the terribly hard going.
And immediately beyond the lock there is much to linger and muse over; a scene of varied and romantic history.
A Benedictine nunnery was built here by Editha, the widow of Sir William Lamelyne, directed by a heavenly vision, and was consecrated in December, 1138, in the presence of King Stephen and his queen, and a brilliant assembly of knights and churchmen.
It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and became the school and ultimately the refuge and tomb, after her Woodstock romance, of Rosamund de Clifford, a daughter of Walter, of that ancient Welsh family. And now -

The wild-flower waves, in lonely bloom,
On Godstow's desolated wall:
There thin shades flit through twilight gloom,
And murmured accents feebly fall.
The aged hazel nurtures there
Its hollow fruit, so seeming fair,
And lightly throws its humble shade,
Where Rosamonda's form is laid.

So sang Thomas Love Peacock in his rambling, gem strewn poem, The Genius of the Thames, now scarce and almost forgotten; first published in 1810. I have the second edition of 1812, in its original grey-green boards, uncut, and materially differing, it is said, from the earlier version. Peacock must have known the Norman's bridge at Oxford. He knew, too, a palefaced youth named Shelley, and made him quit vegetables and eat mutton chops liberally sprinkled with cayenne pepper and drink porter from pewter pots, and harden his white hands tugging against these very currents. But Shelley and Peacock survive only in their books; Folly Bridge has been rebuilt; and the deceptive hazel no longer exists to delude anyone with her fair show of hollow nuts. (Mr. Taunt says that as a lad he often tested the nuts of this tree, and always found them hollow. They had no kernels because the tree was planted over Rosamund's grave, ) And these ruins also are minished and brought lower still; for a modern road has been made over the site of the church where Rosamund first lay, no stone of which is left amongst the ruins that survive. The ground enclosed by the walls has been converted to the homely uses of a poultry run and orchard; and there is but one little ivy clad gable left, that of the nuns' private chapel wherein Rosamund finally rested, in and out of which the summer swallows dart, to bear witness to all the ample roofs that once covered so much splendour and so much piety.

Godstow Nunnery
GODSTOW NUNNERY. Pencil drawing by Helen R. Lock.

"At the dissolution of the monasteries," says a local writer,"the landed gentry," and the very visitors themselves, says Hallam,"besought Henry VIII to spare Godstow, on the ground of its strictness of life and the education of their daughters"; though this does not quite accord with certain scandalous remarks attributed to the Oxford students in the Victoria History. "But it was in vain; the infamous commissioner, Doctor London, visited the priory to destroy it in November, 1538. The abbess of the time, Katherine Bulkley, by her influence at court got the demolition postponed for a whole year. " Her letter to Cromwell illuminates London's methods: "I trust to God, that I have never offendyd God's Laws, neither the King's, wherbie that this poore Monasterie ought to be suppressed. Dr. London, whiche was agaynst my Promotion, like my mortal Enemye, is sodenlie cummyed unto me, with a greate Rowte with him, and here doth threten me to suppress this House, spyte of my Tethe. And here tarieth and contynueth, to my great Coste and Charges. And notwithstand that Dr. London, like an untrew Man, hath informed your Lordship that I am a Spoiler and a Waster, your good Lordship shall know that I have not alienatyd one halporthe of Goods of this Monasterie, but have rather increased the same. " With much more natural protest: "he corrupted many nuns," they said. But in November, 1539, the king went into possession, and the nuns and their superior were all summarily ejected. The common preamble in the articles of these forced surrenders ran that: "upon full deliberation and of their own proper motion, for just and reasonable causes moving their consciences, they did freely give up their houses to the king. " There resided a fine sardonic humour in this Supreme Head of the Church upon Earth.

A monkish Grundy wrote up his screed, his Hic jacet, over Rosamund's little body. Read the stern old croak he carved upon the tomb.

Hic jacet in tumba Rosa mundi, non Rosamunda;
Non redolet, sed olet, quae redolere solet.

Which old Stow, antiquary and tailor, unctuously expands into:

The Rose of the World, but not the cleane Flowre,
Is now here graven, to whom Beauty was lent;
In this Grave full darke now is her Bowre
That by her Life was sweet and redolent.
But now that she is from this Life blent,
Though shee were sweete, now foully doth shee stinke,
A Mirrour goode for all Men that on her thinke.

Pardonable they, however, compared with Hugh Bishop of Lincoln, who in 1191, fourteen years after her death, had her bones cast out of the church lest religion should suffer. The same Stow translates the dramatic moment from an earlier chronicler. "Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, came to the abbey of nunnes called Godstow; and when he had entered the church to pray, he saw one tombe in the middle of the quire, covered with a pall of silke, and set about with lights of waxe; and demanded whose tombe it was, he was answered that it was the tombe of Rosamund, sometime leman of Henry the Second, who for love of her had done much good to the church. 'Then, ' quoth the bishop, 'take out of this place the Harlot, and bury her without the church, lest Christian religion should grow into contempt, and to the end that, through example of her, other women being made afraid may beware, and keep themselves from unlawful and advouterous conversation with men. '" And he was obeyed with shuddering, the iron man. There may have been much piety; there was certainly a suspicion of policy in the deed. Geoffrey, Rosamund's second son by Henry II, was Archbishop of York at the time, and particularly obnoxious to Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, vice-regent of England during the absence of Richard I; and Hugh was no doubt entirely conscious that this particular manifestation of zeal would be well received at court.

But afterwards the indomitable nuns collected her bones into a silken scented bag, and reburied them in honour where the one surviving gable stands, writing up on her tomb her name and praise, and evading Hugh of Lincoln; as they knew how, even bishops! He might have guessed they would; was it not one of his like wrote of their sex: "Fallere, flere, nere, Dedit Deus in muliere"?

Rosamund's death in 1177, in spite of the picturesque alternative of poisoned cup or dagger traditionally offered by Henry's jealous queen, was probably quite natural. The gypsies in Oxfordshire, even as late as 1870, told you how that Fair Rosamund was turned into a "holy briar," which bled if you plucked a twig. Requiescas in aeternum! "Let joy," sings old Tickell, her encomiast:

Let joy salute fair Rosamunda's shade,
And wreaths of myrtle crown the lovely maid
While now perhaps with Dido's ghost she roves,
And hears and tells the story of their loves,
Alike they mourn, alike they bless their fate;
Since Love, which made them wretched, made them great.

And as for the royal lover,"a man of a low stature and fat of body, of a fresh colour, and of good expression in his speech," you may read in the old chronicles that "after the death of this Rosamund he took privily the daughter of Lewis King of France (that should have been marryed to his son Richard Erle of Poytow) for his Leman. Whereupon followed great discord between the King of England and of France, but King Henry sayling over into Normandie, the King of France and hee, hadde talke together, and entred into amitie. "

"Les pauvres morts! . . . Certe, ils doivent trouver les vivants bien ingrates! "

Godstow Bridge Godstow Bridge in WTSWG

Godstow Bridge lies just above the ruins of the nunnery, spanning the navigation with two new brick arches, and the Trout backwater with two smaller arches of stone, the further of which is pointed and looks the most ancient of all. Backwards through the bridge you get as in a frame a miniature of Christ Church spire.

Leland, or his commentator, noted a stone on the bridge which is no longer there. The inscription he saw upon it seems to indicate that it may once have been the base of a cross:

Qui meat hac oret, signumque salutis adoret;
Utque sibi detur venia Rosamunda precetur.

Which would no little have scandalised Hugh of Lincoln. But if you read tibi in place of sibi, and mind your construe, you may evade the canonisation if you will.

The Trout Inn at Godstow

This Godstow Trout is a pleasant house, with its shady alleys, waterside bowers and rustic bridge. The original building was perhaps a guest house for visitors to the priory.


In the strawberry season all Oxford resorts to Wytham, whose name has been shortened down from the old spelling Wyghtham, meaning, perhaps, the village at the bend. It lies but three quarters of a mile from Godstow Bridge, and has an abbey, the seat for centuries of the Earls of Abingdon, originally erected under Henry VI, but now mainly Elizabethan. The Harcourts once held it, between the present lords and the de Wightham family, who died out under the first Edwards. Much of the stonework is said to have been brought from Godstow Priory; and Lysons says it was formerly moated. Lord Williams of Thame, the ancestor of the Earls of Abingdon who purchased the estate, was the principal co-adventurer with Sir Walter Raleigh in his Guiana expedition.

[In his additions and corrections Fred added: ]
There is a curious little story told about the passing of this estate from the possession of the Harcourts. Robert Harcourt, after the heavy failure of the Guiana venture, in which he also was involved, had to sell his properties; and having parted with Ellenhall in Staffordshire vowed that, if he had to sell anything further, he would let loose a pigeon and dispose of whatever lands the bird flew over. When released it circled above Wytham Hill, which thus passed from him. ]

Wytham Hill

On Wytham Hill, five hundred and thirty-nine feet high, are the mound remains of a castle built by Kinewulf, King of the West Saxons, in his long running fight with Offa, him who built the great dyke along the Welsh marches, and, say some, the ancient wall of Oxford. He was King of Mercia: "the vague Mercian land whence we get our weights, our measures, and the worst of our national accent. " Kinewujf had just lost a strong fort down at Bensington to Offa, in 777, before he built this one, whence also in 779 did Offa expel him, scaring away the nuns from Wytham at the same time, and destroying the nunnery; though some will have it that the nuns demolished the place themselves, the castle so disturbing their sense of propriety. This battle was probably fought in the meadow valley between the Wytham and Cumner hills, which the armies respectively occupied. There used to be a place-name Holderfield, the field of corpses; no doubt a reminder of this old baresark fight. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records a battle at Wytham earlier still, in 571, between the British and the West Saxons under Cuthwulf, the first outbreak of the latter after their great victory at Mount Badon in 520. This battle was, however, probably fought from the neighbouring Beacon Hill, on which signs of a British camp are very plain to see. This hill is said to have borne one of the beacons that signalled the approach of the Spanish Armada.

I will not omit an account of this Kinewulf's death in 784, because of the example it affords of the splendid devotion of comradeship that compelled these ancient men. Kinewulf had gone thinly attended to visit a lady at Merton (was it in Surrey? ), and his enemy Cyneheard, hearing of his coming, collected a band and broke into the lady's bower upon the king, who defended himself bravely, and seeing his chief enemy hurled himself upon him and wounded him, but was forthwith slain. The lady's cries meanwhile brought up Kinewuif's slender guard of thegns,"each running as fast as he could," to whom Cyneheard, having no quarrel with them, offered peace. But they would have no peace, nor follow a man who had killed their captain; and the fighting continued, but against such odds that all these thegns took death rather than fail in their loyalty, however unavailing. His murder occurred, by an ironic stroke, during the very year in which he had been in conclave, with Offa, upon the business of a papal legation "to renew the faith and the peace which St. Gregory had sent us by the Bishop Augustin. "

As you walk from Godstow Bridge Wytham nestles like a pretty quakeress under its green hill, alluring in saintly grey and russet red. At a cattle gate in the lane an ancient lunatic beggar woman droned her chant at every footfall: "My brudder was a-psalm singin' in der church; my brudder was a-" ... "Dea magna, dea Cybebe, dea domina Dindymei, Procul a mea tuos sit furor omnis, era, domo Alios age incitatos, alios age rabidos. ' Not that she is violent; the poor old creature looks even more ruinous than the priory itself.

A raised plank footway for flood time borders the lane across the meadows; and a little grey bridge spans the County Stream, which, rather than the main stream, here divides Berkshire from Oxfordshire, laving the feet of the Wytham flower gardens that lean down to its waters. This little stream seems at one time and another to have been almost by way of becoming the main channel. Turning over some old papers I came upon a report of a committee of the House of Commons, printed in 1793, wherein one Josiah Clowes "thinks the Navigation ought to have gone down the Witham Stream, but he can't speak with certainty, not having surveyed it himself. " Another Witness was of the same opinion; thought "it would have been much better, and less expensive, to have gone by the Witham Stream. "

Wytham Village and Church

The village itself is a miniature of gables and thatch, of ivied walls and curiously clipped yews. The church was originally built about 1480; if not, as some say, in the eleventh century. It was small, and had in 1801 a boarded roof; you may see a print, if you wish, in the Bodleian. The Lord Abingdon of 1811 almost entirely rebuilt it with material from Godstow Nunnery and Cumner Place. Close by the gate, in the lane, is a pointed archway brought from Godstow, and bearing the date 1372. And the entrance arch to the churchyard bears, in the stately Roman characters: JANVA VITAE VERBVM DOMINI. This is from Cumner; as also are the delightful old painted glass in the various windows (a piece in the north of the nave contains portraits of Edward II and his queen Isabella, placed there perhaps by pilgrims on their way to the monarch's shrine at Gloucester-" he who," says Fuller,"being no saint in his life became half a saint after his death"); the fine grotesque corbel of a piper towards the northwest corner; and the east and some of the smaller windows.

Under the matting by the chancel rail are two brasses of a man in armour and a woman; and on an adjacent stone is engraved:

Robert de Wightham marryed Juliana
daughter of Sir John Golaifre of Fyfield in this county
by whom he had issue Richard and seven daughters.
He / She } died in the yere { 1406 / 1408

This "John Golaifre" cannot be that John Golafre who founded the chantry in Fyfield church- he of the skeleton Death, of whom I will tell you later. He died in 1442; and this "daughter" thirty-four years earlier after bearing eight children. The pious founder was perhaps a grandson of her father, and nephew to herself. There is the human touch seldom far to seek under similar details. Alice Denton, a daughter of one of the eight children, and a relation of the Harcourts who succeeded the de Wighthams, set up these brasses and a circumscription; which Montague, Earl of Abingdon in 1735, seeing to have become much mutilated and hardly legible, and touched with her filial piety and affection, generously replaced with the present stone telling the whole story.

During a further search of the church floor I discovered what I had not seen mentioned elsewhere: a slab, partly covered with pews, to Edward Purcell, the "eldest son of Mr. Purcell of the Royal Chapel, and brother of Mr. Henry Purcell so much renowned for his skill in music. " He," after sundry good service,"was gradually advanced to the honour of lieutenant-colonel," was under Rooke at Gibraltar; and when "decayed with age and broken with misfortunes he retired to the house of the right honble. Montague earl of Abingdon and died June 20, 1717. Aged 64 years'; living thus to just twice the age of his more famous brother. One would like to know the history of the fine, broken gentleman; and what ground he had for relying upon the munificence of Lord Abingdon.

A tablet within the altar rails on the north wall has the finest bit of illiterate spelling I have seen on stone:


Chatting with a fine old yeoman,"born and bred in the place," quoth-a! I found he knew nothing of the Saxon castle. "But there's Godstow Bower below here, you know," said he; "and over at Cumner Hall Amy Robson used to be. " He dared say I had read all about her.

Under the blaze of a mid-September sun I climbed Wytham Hill to see the woods and find the "castle. " All the land lay drowsy in heat. I caught a side view along the front of Wytham Abbey; and then, looking back, beheld through foliage Oxford in the valley with all her towers and spires. Presently I was crossing a huge stretch of meadow, a quarter of a mile square, and surrounded with tall elms. And here were high mounds, running long and wide across the field; and I wondered if these were the castle of Kinewulf. They are not; they are probably, however, the remains of a quarry worked by Offa to build his "terrible fortress or castle not farre from the great ashe which is a land mark. " I entered the woods by what was once a well kept drive, now left wild; a circular woodland route of about six miles for the abbey family's pleasure-taking.

There stood the quaint toy milestones by which they measured their distance. And then I came out of the wood, and beneath me lay the illimitable west country, from Cumner sitting upon its hill amongst the trees round to Kidlington spire gleaming white northwards in the haze. In the foreground Eynsham Bridge spanned the Thames; as tiny as a baby's hand across a thread of water. Beyond were little curves and gleams of the Stripling; and with a secret thrill I discerned Pinkhill still islanded in immemorial verdure.

As I left the wood and set foot upon the open common there were other mounds and hollows, more abrupt and cramped than those in the meadow, yet commanding these great tracts of country; while those others give now no soldier's outlook at all, whatever they once afforded. Let experts decide if this was the castle I do not think there is much doubt about it. Conjecture, and the burst of westward landscape, summed up all Wytham Hill for me.

If you are curious you may read an old chapbook in the British Museum entitled The Berkshire Tragedy, or the Whittam Miller. The terrific woodcut on the front is worth the effort. Early in the eighteenth century one John Mauge, a miller, slew his sweetheart Annie Knite, and men printed and reprinted the sordid old story, as a warning to youth.


My tender Parents brought me up,
provided for me well,
And in the Town of Whittam then
Did place me in a Mill
By chance I met an Oxford lass,

and she yielded to John's blandishments; and not the only one, I gather. She and her mother besought him to marry her, but in vain; and then

About a month since Christmas last
(O cursed be that Day)
The Devil then did me perswade
To take her Life away.
I called her from her Sister's House
At eight a Clock at Night
Poor Creature, she did little dread
I bore her any Spight.
He does her to death; and
"Then Home unto my Mill I run,
But sorely was amaz'd;
My Man he thought I'd Mischief done,
And strangely on me gaz'd;

and his end was as you may behold in the woodcut, whose hideousness resembles that of the original as nearly as I could compass it.

Just above Godstow Bridge, on the right bank, stands the black boundary stone of Oxford city. Here is the outfall of the County Stream, dividing Oxfordshire from Berkshire. A little higher can be seen from the towpath the spire of Cassington church away in the northwest. And the wide emerald meadows on the left bank are not devoid of ancient interest. Following on Port Meadow, first Pixey Mead and then Oxey Mead border the River, divided by the stream that leaves the Thames opposite King's weir. The Yarnton farmers still draw lots as of old, every returning July and early on a Monday morning, for the various portions of mowing grass in these meads, the ballot balls being kept at Mead farm near Yarnton church. When the grass is short the pegs dividing the various lots become easily visible. The arrangement, however, does not appear to work altogether satisfactorily, as it often happens that one purchaser's plot is quite spoiled by the trampling of a neighbour's horse and waggon across it for another load further on. The names of these two meads are said to be derived from pigs'-hay and ox-hay; perhaps the respective first syllables may be correct.

Both banks of the Thames are Oxfordshire soil between Iffley lock and this black stone by the County Stream. So that it is not till now, if you have sculled up from Oxford, that you can land upon the earth of Berkshire. Berkshire intime, the splendid birthplace of splendid men from Alfred downwards, is lovingly written of by Miss Eleanor Hayden in her several delightful books, wherein are many tales and colloquies fragrant of the fine folk of Berkshire. Two women, for instance, one "church" and one "chapel," were bragging of the beauty of their respective services. One at last crowned her description by asserting that the night before she had been in heaven, listening to the discourse under which she sat. The other's face fell for a moment, but soon brightened again. "So you wur in heaven, wur you? " she repeated in great triumph. "All I can say, then, is that they didn't keep you ther' long; they soon turned 'ee out, simly! "

The lover of English will find in Miss Hayden's books, Turnpike Travellers, Travels Round our Village, and the rest, much picturesque native idiom which, though never employed with the success of the "kailyard" to cloke much second-rate writing, is far softer and homelier to Saxon ears than the northern dialect. An old woman exclaims about her grandchildren "There's George, that's one, yennit? An' pooer little Marier, that's two, yennit? Jane, that's three, yennit? an' a girt smartish bwoy, that's four, yennit? " There are bird-starvin', for "scaring" or "killing"; and being scrumped for air indoors. If a baby fail to squatch at baptism it is regarded as already marked for death and how many a poor old couple, in and out of Berkshire, can echo the remark of her decayed characters: "We dwunt live, we just lingers"!

A satisfactory account of the name of the county is not to be had. The tantalising Asser derives it from the British bearroc, box-trees, with which it abounded. Or it may be from beroke, stripped oak bark. Camden hazily suggests various ideas: it is Berrochescire in Domesday.

King's Weir King's Lock in WTSWG

[ King's Lock was built in 1928, 111 years after the first decision to build it. ]

King's weir lies in the northeastern bend of the top of the River's loop that sweeps so grandly between Northmoor and Abingdon. One speaks and reads of his windings, but when the land distance of five miles between these two places is compared with their twenty miles' separation by water, one is unshakeably convinced. The charming reach from King's weir lies east and west, after which the valley trends upstream southwest and south for nearly ten miles, to Northmoor and beyond.

Dr. Plot, who published his folio in 1677, wrote of the fishing in this stretch of River "In 1674 it gave so ample testimony of its great plenty that in the two days appointed for the fishing of Mr Mayor and the Bayliffe of the City it afforded betwixt Swithin's-Wear [probably Swinford] and Woolvercot Bridge (which I guess may be about three miles distant) fifteen hundred Jacks beside other fish. "

The stream a little higher, particularly near Eynsham, was within living memory choked with the notorious" American weed," which grows without roots upon the surface of the water, being extremely swift and prolific in its self-propagation; and which, within ten years of its first appearance in England, spread over all the waterways in the kingdom, so that small ponds and streams had their entire beds filled with it and their waters displaced. The weed was still in existence here in 1889.

The River Evenlode The River Evenlode in WTSWG

A mile and a half above King's weir the river Evenlode curves into the Thames on the left bank, the first above Oxford of all those romantic little twenty or thirty mile tributaries which one day it may be my fortune, as it would assuredly be my delight, thoroughly to explore. It runs a very tortuous course of about thirty miles from a Worcestershire village of its own name; and has, says Plot, nitrous waters like the Windrush. Half a mile along Thames beyond its mouth, on the same bank, a now disused canal called Cassington Cut enters at "Cassington lock. " The spot is marked in my memory by heaps of sun bleached reeds. This canal joins the Evenlode about three miles up the course of the latter.

Yarnton tower and Cassington spire alternately hide and reappear amongst the trees all along this reach, which right up to Eynsham is very sweet to the memory, bordering as it does the northern slopes of Wytham Hill.

"There is a hill beside the silver thames ..."

[ This poem by Robert Bridges is quoted in full at Ark's Weir site in WTSWG ]

As you float along it is borne upon the mind that of this scene, or of some other very similar, Robert Bridges wrote his delightful verses beginning:

There is a hill beside the silver Thames,
Shady with birch and beech and odorous pine
And brilliant underfoot with thousand gems
Steeply the thickets to his floods decline.
Straight trees in every place
Their thick tops interlace,
And pendant branches trail their foliage fine
Upon his watery face.

For the hill gradually closes in upon the River, composing a lovely scene of flowing water, of wooded hill and grassland. The stream demands its full share of attention here, flowing swift and clear along its gravel bed, where not so deep down you may see the darting fish and the undulating weed.

Eynsham Weir Eynsham Lock in WTSWG

[ Eynsham Lock was not built until 1928. ]

Suddenly the course bends and widens out, and here is the cause of the swift sweet water; here is the glad open weir of Eynsham, once called also Bolde's and Swithin's, the very sight of which "doeth good like a medicine. " Here all day is the music of caressing winds and tumbling waters; here swimmers plunge into the eddying pool-off the centre pier if you've the heart! Bracing the spot is, at more than two hundred feet above the sea; and all round the hill-born breath from off the Cotswolds refreshes hearts long "scrumped for air" within four walls.
When you have pulled over the rollers -

Eynsham (Swinford) Bridge Eynsham Bridge in WTSWG

- you come, round a sharp bend southwestwards, full upon the splendid bridge named of Eynsham, or officially of Swinford; one of the noblest and most impressive bridges on the whole River, seven and a half miles from Folly Bridge. The Earl of Abingdon of the time erected it in 1777; and his successor still maintains the tollhouse at its northern end. Ireland drily comments that the builder's "liberality and public spirit have, I am credibly informed, been amply repaid by the revenue derived from this undertaking. " He also mentions a building at one end of the bridge, intended, but never actually used, as an inn. Boydell says it was a "spacious and handsome mansion," against the Berkshire end of the bridge; and there you will still find it. It found a use as a posting house in the coaching days; and is now divided up into cottages, but still a handsome old building; constituting, with its clustering cots and barns, that "tithing of Cumner" called Swinford from which the bridge derives its official title. Whenever you come downstream, notice how delightfully the spire of Cassington frames itself in one of the arches.

Eynsham Village

About half a mile from the tollhouse lies prosperous looking Eynsham. Leland wrote it down Eignesham. Here will be seen many outposts of the grey stone gabled houses, so characteristic of all the Valley up to Cirencester and beyond; those houses that seem to have grown by nature where they stand rather than to have ever been built, so perfectly do they blend with their surroundings, bestowing beauty and receiving it in return. The records of this village are very ancient. The Saxon Witenagemot under Ethelred the Unready assembled here in 1008; presided over by Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury. "It came to pass at a certain time that, under an edict of King Ethelred, all the great men of the English were called together at a place called by its inhabitants Eanham. They reasoned and held discourse of many things concerning the recovery of the worship of the Catholic religion, and also for the amendment and furtherance of the state of the commonwealth."

Eynsham Abbbey

They met, probably, at the highly important and influential Benedictine abbey, founded here in 1005; some of the poor remains of which have been collected into the front garden of the vicarage, where by the courtesy of the vicar they can be viewed. They consist mainly of a flat ogee and other arches, and a few grotesque gargoyle heads. Other remains are scattered about in various refuges in the village. The site of the abbey was no doubt in the meadows that slope down to the River below the church; the forgotten Day's nursery gardens once covered the spot, and much tiled pavement and other relics were dug up during transplantations.
[In his additions and correction Fred added: These nurseries have been extinct as much perhaps as half a century. Day, it is said, sold cartloads of decorative tiles for road repairs. ]
I have seen an old sketch of the east window, between whose ruined mullions Beacon Hill is plain to see.
"Old Robin my husband," who founded Osney for his wife Edith, was brought to this abbey for burial. Reading through its history I came across one or two human touches; as when, during his visitation in November, 1284, the archbishop found that the daily personal allowance of the abbot was, amongst other things, four loaves and four gallons of beer! He seems forthwith to have instructed that this provision should be made to cover the appetite also of the monk who was the abbot's companion. At another visitation, in 1445, all was reported well, except that one of the monks had fled away with a nun of Godstow; but had repented and returned. The fate of the girl is not thought worth recounting.

The monastery was surrendered on December 4th, 1539, by its last abbot, Antony Kitchin, or Dunstan; he having subscribed over five years previously to the king's supremacy. He secured a pension of £133: 6: 8, perhaps equal to £2,500 now; which it is believed ceased upon his preferment to the see of Llandaff in 1545. Its probably dishonest demolition, says Mr. Belloc, is an excellent example of how these old structures disappeared. "As late as the eighteenth century the whole west front, the two high towers, the splendid west window and sculptured doorways, were still standing. A century and a half passed and the whole had disappeared, carted away to build walls and stables for the local squires, or sold by the local squires for rubble. "
There is nothing now to be seen of it in that peaceful, secluded spot; and I found it impossible to realise for myself the social conditions of the countryside when Abingdon, Osney, Rewley, Godstow, and the abbey here, besides many smaller establishments, all at one and the same time exercised their ecclesiastical dominion over these sixteen or seventeen miles of River country. Not wholly worse than now, I am convinced; though the incubus must have been terrible. Yet worse or better, that ancient state of things, the old forgotten disabilities and privileges imposed by the Church, the tithes charged direct home to every man, the penalties, the charities; these are to the modern temper almost entirely incomprehensible.

Eynsham Church

St. Leonard's church tower holds the landscape, gaunt and aloof, watching Beacon Hill across the River. Within it is quite handsome and spacious. There does not seem to be much work in it older than early Decorated, and it dates from perhaps the end of the thirteenth century. Some ancient carved benches are preserved in the southwest corner, well worth notice and in the chest is said to be a Vinegar Bible. The south door was originally, as usual in most mediaeval churches, the principal entrance; but modern requirements have caused the north door to be used here. This was often known as "the devil's door," being left open at baptisms for the exit of the evil spirit driven out of the christened child. The graves of the dead were usually crowded round the south door and its approach, to reap the fullest benefit of Aves and Paters from passers by. There was always a great prejudice against the north side of the churchyard it was not "in the sanctuary. "

There are three old brasses in the north aisle, one of 1584, one of 1617, and a third reads:

If any chance for to Inquere
What man he was lies buried here
His name Ingraven playne uppon this stone behould
Whose soule in heaven wee hope doth rest, though body sleepe in moulde
Michaell Martyne of Evsham Yeoman who
Deceased the first of Maye 1610
anno etatis sue 65

Eynsham Cross and Market

Opposite the church, in the market place long innocent of the market granted to the town under a charter of King Stephen, to be held, rather curiously,"on every Lord's day," stands the weathered shaft of a fine old cross, strengthened with iron rods, more fortunate than so many of its damaged and ruinous neighbours. It is stated, too, to be of thirteenth century work; a hundred years older than most of its like hereabouts. Some even name it of Stephen's time, set up when he granted the market; and others boldly date it back to the Saxon kings. Possibly the quaintest account of it was given by a villager to a party of tourists: that it was erected to mark the spot where Cromwell watered his horses! "Perhaps it will afford but little information to many of our readers," says Rudder of Cirencester,"yet it is pertinent to our subject, to observe, that our ancestors erected crosses in the most frequented parts of towns and villages, and at the crossing and junction of great roads, to put persons in mind of Christ's crucifixion, and to excite their devotion. The parliament's party demolished most of the crosses wherever they found them, which accounts for nothing remaining except the pedestals and a few of the pillars on which the crosses stood. "
These curious markets on Sundays, Good Fridays, and other Church festivals, forbidden by great Cnut and earlier kings, long continued numerous, under protest from pious people. Thatcham and Wallingford were other neighbouring instances. They were petitioned against under Henry VI in 1449, recalling that "an angel appeared to Henry II at Cardiff warning him to stop them. " Giraldus Cambrensis tells the whole of that story: how when the king was at Cardiff "a man of a fair complexion, with a round tonsure and meagre countenance, tall, and about forty years of age, habited in a white robe falling down to his naked feet and speaking in German," cried out upon him: "Christ and his holy Mother, John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter salute thee, and command thee strictly to prohibit throughout thy whole dominions every kind of buying or selling on Sundays; and unless thou shalt do so, before the expiration of one year there shall be done such things concerning what thou lovest best in this world that thy disquietude shall continue to thy life's end. " He disappeared; and they cou1d never find him again, though they searched the chapel and all the inns. And the prediction came true; Henry's sons all deserted to Louis of France. This disregarded appeal was entitled: "Petition Concerning Feyres and Marketts, presented A. D. 1449 27 Hen. VI," and begins: " Prayen mekely the devout Cornyns to considre ye abhomynable wrongys and vylanys don to our Lord God, and his holy Seyntis be cause of Feiris and Markettis hold custumabli, and synfully used in yore Roialme of Englond, uppon ye Assencion of our Lord, Corporis Christi day, Whitsonday, Trinite Sunday; also uppon the hie Fest of the assumption of our Lady. " The petitioners proceed to describe in detail the deplorable condition upon Sundays of the little towns where markets were so held. They do not appear to have died out completely until the reign of Elizabeth.

Eynsham Weir Keepers

Grandfather, father and son served the Conservancy at Eynsham weir; the grandfather from its establishment; then the father three and twenty years. After the father the son was given the position, but in 1906 he was missing, and I heard with regret that the civil lad had had to be put away into the county asylum at Moulsford, after an accident to his head; where his mother had already been for eleven years. The old man recited the rustic tragedy as a bare matter of fact, seeming scarcely to question or complain. "Miss un more 'n the missis" he remarked, in his slow emotionless voice. Next summer, however, the lad was about again, and I was glad to see him at work with his father before their house at the side of Eynsham Bridge.

Eynsham custom

A curious custom once obtained in the village. The inhabitants had the right, every Whit Monday, of cutting as much timber on the manor as they could carry into the abbey with their own hands. Then if they were successful in getting any out again, in spite of the abbey servants' resistance, they were at liberty to use it in repairing the church. The whole thing seems rather pointless, but I hand it on as I received it. "It seems a goodly kind of fraud," says Ireland,"to use the labours and exertions of a whole village in dragging a supply of fuel, the property of the public, into the abbey, only to make a scramble for the purpose of getting it out again. " The custom did not die out before the beginning of the eighteenth century; the inhabitants seem to have held their right of common-age at Lammas and Michaelmas by its observance.

Eynsham Castle

Robert of Gloucester, says Plot, has a record of an ancient castle at Eynsham. And in a document of the seventeenth century in the Lansdowne MSS. the wonder is related "of two spurious suns near the true one about three years since at Ensham. " They may have been those of November 19th, 1644, on the birthday of King Charles I; an omen of evil.

Eynsham Red Lion

The Red Lion displays a curious signboard: on one side a front view of the noble animal advancing upon you; on the reverse his retreating hindquarters. It is the latter aspect the church beholds; "Charlie Haynes" of Oxford, painter and decorator, set him up so in ribald humour some twenty or thirty years ago, as they relate.

Eynsham scenery

Lingering below the little town beneath a summer sunset my heart filled once again with almost intolerable pain in looking on these celestial hills and meadows through which Thames has elected to wander down to Oxford. Supremely desirable to behold; supremely impossible to describe. It is his infant spirit that quickens the scene and fills it with dream and fascination. And to feel at home beyond Oxford, to feel a master there, to feel possession and complete understanding, to gain the power to compare one scene there with another, to judge and justly appreciate even so tiny a handbreadth of England, is a success and an ambition not unworthy achievement.


The lane to Cassington dips down by hedgerows and cornfields parallel with the Wytham and Beacon hills. In about a mile you cross first the old canal of which I have already spoken, and then the sparkling Evenlode. Thereafter is a slight ascent and a straight quarter mile to Cassington spire, which holds the eyes as strongly as Eynsham, and more alluringly. Within the church you get back seven hundred and fifty years. It is a beautiful old Norman building; with later Decorated spire and windows, truly, but upon a substructure of the original work; somewhat reminiscent, as a whole, of the little hillside church of Newhaven in Sussex, though larger and proportionately less massive. It was built by Geoffrey de Clinton, baron of the exchequer to Henry I and Stephen; the man who also built Kenilworth Priory in 1120. His father, says the old chronicler Vitalis, was "of ignoble birth, lifted up, as it were, from the dust and exalted above earls and burghers. " The Clinton family still exists under its chief, the Duke of Newcastle. The Geoffrey of Stephen's reign may have been a son of Henry's baron. This chronicler Vitalis was a "careless, worldly vicar"; a most disreputable old cleric, if half the Victoria History of Berkshire says about him be true.

The whitewash has been painfully scraped from the splays of two north and south windows of the church to lay bare some old frescoes. There are a grand massive Norman font, and some quite beautifully carved clergy stalls of modern date. Here is an old brass of rather crabbed latinity; you may whet your teeth upon it.

Hic iacet elinguis, qi linguis pluribus olim
Vsus Hebraismi, publica lingua fuit
Graeca quid hic, qid Hebraea iuuat, qid lingua latia
Siqua alios iuuit, hunc ea sola iuuat
Vos ergo Thomae Neli quos lingua iuuabat
Elinguem lingua (quaeso) iuuate pia
Subscriplio ipsi'. Authoris
Hos egomet versus posui mihi sans, ut esset
Hinc praevisa mihi mortis imago meae

As I discuss more fully in writing later on of Cumner, the people of Cassington centuries ago claimed right of burial in Cumner churchyard. One explanation advanced is that they exercised it when their own burial ground was flooded; but surely it was not necessary, merely on this account, for the friends of the dead to travel so far, and across the swollen River. I think there must have been some additional reason perhaps that Cumner was their mother church.


Another mile and a half through lovely English lanes and you come to Yarnton, whose name descends through Erdington from the Saxon Eardunglun, dwelling town; the same word as Erdington, by Birmingham, which too in manorial records has been sometimes abbreviated to Yarnton. The Yarnton farmers, such few as care to pay the twopence per head, mark their sheep with E, rather than Y, from the ancient and not the modern name. The branding instrument is kept at Mead farm, with the old mowing ballot balls, for anyone to use who wishes. The manor belonged to Richard, King of the Romans, and was given to Rewley Abbey by his son Edmund about the year 1281, as I have said.

There is another beautiful church here, in quite a different style from Cassington. The tower is most desirable to behold, the courses so cunningly laid and the four horizontal divisions so becomingly proportioned. The widely splayed south windows of the chancel present the oldest work, dating probably from about 1100. There is some extremely quaint and delightfully interesting painted glass; gleaned from a hundred odd places and inserted here by a former benefactor of the parish, one Alderman Fletcher, who died in 1826 and lies buried here in a stone coffin dug up at Godstow and conjectured to have contained the bones of Rosamund; as he willed. Almost every window contains something charming or amusing; particularly noticeable are some curious birds on the north side of the nave, with sentences issuing from their beaks. One set of four has:

Make ye poor to pray wele
Be goot or ellis fay wele
And make god thy friend
At thy laft ende.

Others utter such phrases as "Who blameth this ale? " "Ye must pray for ye fox. " (I have tried in vain to discover the meaning of these two legends; at least of the latter, unless it be a jest at the expense of the monks. ) "Each of the old monasteries," says Mr. Belloc,"had the glass which we can no longer paint; the vivid, living and happy grotesque in sculpture which only the best of us can so much as understand. " And of all the grotesques in this River country there is surely nothing to equal those wonderful heads upon the church at Lechlade.

The Norman font of about 1100 in the Spencer chapel seems to me worth all the classicalities that may there be wondered at by those who admire them. It was disinterred from a neighbouring farmyard in quite modern times. In the same chapel are some very beautiful Perpendicular windows, of early design, but built only in late Stuart times; a credit to their maker.

In the churchyard is an Early English cross with figures of knights on the stem, similar to the one at Eynsham, to whose ancient abbey Yarnton was affiliated, so that in early times a monk was regularly sent thence to serve the spiritual needs of this village. Near the cross is a tombstone with veritable Etruscan faces upon it; and from beneath the wide and shady yew what a glimpse can be had of the beautiful manor house! Surely songs can be wrought in stone; and these stones sing aloud in beauty "to the spiritual ear. " Another view of it can be enjoyed from the field path leading to the station; and the best of all is from the station itself. The house was employed as a hospital during the Parliamentary wars, and is said to contain a haunted chamber-Sir Christopher's room; lighted only by holes in the coat-of-arms over the door. It was built by Sir William Spencer in 1612, the family having purchased the manor in 1580. His son Sir Thomas built the church tower, and also contributed to the erection of the south porch; and there still hang in the belfry six bells which he presented to the church, five of which bear the words: "Sir Thomas Spencer, knight and baronet, lord of the manor, gave me, 1620. "

Yarnton, besides being a delightful little village full of domestic Gothic, is a quarry of such relics of remote antiquity as elephants' teeth and tusks; preserved in the University Gallery at Oxford, the successor of the Ashmolean, the oldest museum in England, founded originally in Lambeth by one Tradescant. And it was through Yarnton, on the night of June 3rd, 1644, that Charles I made his successful dash to escape capture. Leaving Oxford at nine o'clock, he led his little army of 3, 000 horse and 2, 500 foot safely between the lines of Essex and Waller at Islip and Eynsham: "their tramp was heard in the manor house. " Crossing Port Meadow, they say, by a road that no longer exists, he was well away towards Worcester, out by Witney and Burford, long before the enemy heard of his escape; and engaging Waller he defeated him at Cropredy Bridge on the 29th of the same month.

I know what white, what purple fritillaries
The grassy harvest of the River fields
Above by Eynsham, down by Sandford, yields;
And what sedged brooks are Thames's tributaries.

Pinkhill Lock Pinkhill Lock in WTSWG

Two miles of winding water lie between Swinford Bridge and Pinkhill lock. Pinkhill it is, officially; but Pinkle to all the workaday world. This little lock mound is the happy isle of the River country; a haven of dreams; the inner gate of a far off land whose elusive charm quickens the memory more frequently and tenderly than all the more popular and obvious beauties of the middle River. The great Wytham and Beacon hills exclude for ever the whole outer world. Beyond them lies - Oxford ? even London, perhaps; all unlovely hustling and the crowds. But the loud and brawling voices never surmount those sheltering heights; and on their hitherward side the deep meadows, emerald green beneath the purple woods, are broken only by the willowed banks of the immemorial Stream. This scene of the sweet cunning earth is one to be cherished in the memory beyond the very gates of death.

And above all, the quintessential charm of Pinkhill is its arches of rainbows. Once for me a sudden shower trailed its filmy veil along these grassy levels, blowing up from the wet southwest. And the perfect bow was formed, so that the very blades of grass were transformed with the sevenfold glory; and above the bow shone its reflection hardly less refulgent. For others also there has been the vision; they too have watched from this River island the sudden epiphany of celestial colour. And therefore for them and for me it lives for ever arched in rainbows.

No wet salt wind from off the sea,
Foam laden, loud with life, blows here
No surges sound upon this lee,
No sea bird's cry wails on the ear.

But softly murmuring glides and gleams
The stately River strong and clear,
Deep loved beyond all other streams,
Beyond all other scenes how dear

The reeds that rustle in the breeze
Still whisper of the god's pursuit,
Slim Syrinx startled turns and flees,
Great Pan has shrilled his oaten flute

She flees too late, the god has seen
All hope is vain, save in the prayer
She breathes to heaven; and, lo! the Queen
Turns to a reed the flying fair.

Where lonely meadows fringe the shore,
Or where dim woods the bank ascend,
Will old sweet things shew one sight more
Are Pan and Syrinx at an end?

The listening ear at noontide heat
May it not hear his cleft hoof stamp
No laughter catch of Naiads sweet
In river grottoes cool and damp?

Between the dripping mossy walls
Of this old lock such thoughts arise
The trickling water gently falls,
The gates are closed, there meets the eyes

Of aught beyond no cheering gleam,
The River's course unseen, like Fate's;
To mimic grudging Time they seem,
These heavy, slowly parting gates.

In the cool of the evening I have watched the small boys and girl of the lock-keeper swim like eager little frogs across the lock. I once lent a hand with the pole which the careful father desired held above the youngest swimmer's head in case of need. The kiddie gradually leaned down upon the water from the steps; then worried along his nervous course like a pale batrachian - over to me and back again to the steps and sure footing.

And at this very lock the Chemist, the Anatomist and I slew a score and a half of wasps in one short tea time. The Anatomist's slow approach and sudden unerring pounce caused more laughter than the thing was worth; but my memories of Pinkhill are incomplete without him.
In the same old Report of 1793 one Robert Mylne complains bitterly of the bad state of the River for navigation "He could not find that any Thing had been done, except at Pinkill Weir, next above Enfham Bridge, where a Pound Lock has been conftructed, but is of no kind of Ufe in itfelf to the Navigation, on Account of the old Weir of Timber in the bed of the River being totally rotten and tumbled into the River, and feemingly deferted. "

Skinner's Weir

About a mile above is the site of the former Skinner's weir, now marked only by a footbridge on land and a deep pool and strong stream on the water. "The old weir," says Mr. Taunt,"was one of those picturesque places that artists love. It had been in possession of the Skinners from father to son for a long number of years. It was a little inn, and the last landlord, Joe Skinner, was one of the best hearted, quaintest fellows that ever lived. He was original in the highest degree, and it was a rich treat to spend an evening with him and listen to his curious remarks on some one who had been there, and, not understanding him, had rubbed old Joe the wrong way of the wool, getting perhaps a rough setting down. " The inn, and old Joe, and the weir have now all disappeared. There are many similar spots where unnecessary weirs have been abolished in quite recent years. Much picturesqueness and a not unwelcome spice of danger have thus been swept away; but nevertheless much gratitude is due to the Conservancy for their many good works on this remote part of the River. New locks have been built and channels cleared; and above all strict and welcome rules have been made and enforced against the destruction of wild birds and waterside flowers, as the late Mr. Cornish mentions so appreciatively in his Naturalist on the Thames. The results are apparent to even the dullest observer; the birds are nesting again in their ancient haunts, and behaving, indeed, not merely with less fear of man but even with a certain twinkle of impudence in their demeanour. I assert it gravely I encountered such a robin by Basildon and a Buscot whitethroat-very lively! "The fool with the gun" is getting repressed; and the very eggs in the nests and flowers on the banks are protected by the paternal Conservators.

Bablock Hythe Bablock Hythe in WTSWG

Sweet-named Bablock Hithe is eleven miles by water from Folly Bridge, but only four by road. Its rope ferry is the only one now remaining on the Thames of these once frequent worries. The line hangs at times a bare two feet or less above the water, and is heavy and rigid withal; so that unless you manage your approach carefully it will rap your head pretty shrewdly. Crede experto! The river here is broad and deep; and the whole two miles from Skinner's weir very charming. But it was not always such easy going, either for pleasure seekers or the barges. In the same Report one of the witnesses says that: "At or near Biblick Hythe he found a Quantity of Trees cut down for the purpofe of clearing the Bank for the Towing Path, which trees had been left lying on the Bank in a most confufed way. He believes all the necefsary Bridges for the Towing path acrofs Ditches, and the Mouth of Side Streams, are ftill left undone, and by that Means the Towing path is interrupted and deficient. " In this, as in more important matters, the struggles of our ancestors have smoothed many difficulties away. The spelling of the name, of which this is so curious a version, is Bablac in Camden and elsewhere.

Nathaniel Hawthorne speaks of having been here one fine September morning, probably about 1860, and found an old woman working the ferry. He "glanced at her unique cottage, with its circular settle round the kitchen fireplace. "

An elm-shaded lane winds westward from the Hithe to the hamlet of West End, a picturesque cluster of cots and grey barn buildings, whence, if you ever need it, a meadow track of three miles leads northwards to Eynsham, shorter than the five mile carriage road through Stanton Harcourt. Right through the hamlet, about a quarter of a mile beyond the last house, there lies on a little green against a gate the pedestal of a wayside cross. The socket into which the shaft fitted is quite empty. It is firmly embedded in the earth, wholly neglected and surrounded with untrodden grass, and I have not been able to learn anything about it; not even whether it is in its original site. Just beyond there is a pleasant little ascent, from the top of which you may look across to Stanton Harcourt embowered in trees, while behind and all around are fine stretches of the rich River country.

Stanton Harcourt

Stanton Harcourt is well said to be one of the ideal villages of the county of Oxfordshire. Its situation on a little plain, its sheltering trees, its wealth of architectural interest and poverty in shops all combine to make it rurally ideal. And then the name; one of those decorative double titles with which so many of the villages of the Valley are endowed! It has been explained, with a rather low humour, to have arisen from an exclamation alleged to have been addressed in battle to a former Harcourt: "Stand to 'un, Harcourt! " But (I hazard it on my own responsibility) may it not really refer to the three standing stones known as the Devil's Quoits? The Saxon Stan-tun, stone enclosure, seems to warrant the conjecture.

The manor was one of the large estates that fell to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, half brother of the Conqueror. St. Michael's is a handsome church, lately restored, with a good deal of the Norman still happily left in it. There is much also of the cold beauty of Early English; notably the east end with its very early triplet of lancet windows. But the door is kept locked; the good woman waits with well feigned patience while you endeavour to look round, and ordinarily you get no dream; the vision the Norman and the first Pointed builders can still compel is withheld. Yet one Sunday morning before service my eyes were opened, and the old days dawned upon me there.

[In his Additions and Corrections Fred added: The screen is of thirteenth century work, and retains its original hinges, lock and bolt. The painting is perhaps of the Blessed Virgin, or one of the portraits mentioned in Keyser's Mural Paintings. A monastery probably existed here, judging from the Monk's Kitchen and the fishponds. There was also possibly a royal palace; a small canopied tomb of Purbeck marble, bearing the royal arms, being thought to be a tomb of some royal child. Adeliza, queen of Henry I, gave part of her lands in Stanton Harcourt to Reading Abbey at its foundation; and afterwards the patronage and revenues of the church. It was wholly appropriated to that abbey in 1506; perhaps the conjectured monastery was a mere country residence of Reading's. Had the child's tomb any connection with the queen? ]

The rood screen is judged to be the oldest left in England; though there is one at Sharncott, far westward, not so well known to fame. The still sound wood is pierced in several places with the queerest irregular, amateurish patterns, attributed, the vicar told me, to Cromwell's soldiery, except the largest circle, which he thinks was officially cut to allow people, not permitted within the chancel, to view the celebration of the holy sacrament: a hagioscope, in short. At the extreme right is a dim old painting, of some prioress I imagine, done across a panel and a half of the screen. The rood stairway is plain to see, but is locked. These screens originally began to be erected, I think, because, the chancel being the parson's property and the nave the people's, parish meetings with or without the priest's consent or sympathy could be held in the nave, and no doubt a substantial partition was sometimes desirable; the older have much less open work about them than the modern. Starting with this utilitarian idea, their increase and elaboration followed as their capacity for ornament became evident. This same view of expediency accounts also, perhaps, for the priests' doors into the chancel, sometimes on the south side, sometimes on the north, now so frequently walled up. You will find ancient specimens at Amney Crucis and Somerford Keynes, and at other places in the River country.

Without the south wall Pope's epitaph on two young people killed by lightning is set up on a tablet:


Was it necessary by the size of the lettering to arouse quite such furious speculation? for the poor creatures were subjected after their death to much scandalous talk. Pope wrote in a letter that "a young man and woman were lately destroyed here by lightning; and the country people are hardly in charity with their minister for allowing them Christian burial. They cannot get it out of their heads but it was a judgment of God. " Just beneath this too protesting memorial the vicar has lately cleared the ivy from a sundial, the figures of which are just discernible scratched on the stone of the wall. The man who stripped off the ivy found the iron gnomon, but threw it irretrievably away in ignorance of its use. In the churchyard is an interesting stone which may be part of a cross.

There were formerly two separate entrances for women into this church, one for each transept. Their outer door on the north side can still be seen; the southern is quite obliterated. Internally the newly faced walls shew but little sign of these entrances, though on the north side the holy water stoup still remains. Hall, and Thorne in his Rambles, both write as though this ancient custom still existed in the middle of the nineteenth century.

You may view the Harcourt chapel through a locked grille, if you wish. It is of early Perpendicular work. Dame Margaret's is one of the very few existing effigies of women that display the Order of the Garter, Another is that of Alice Chaucer, Duchess of Suffolk, in Ewelme church, away beyond Wallingford; and a third was that of Lady Constance Grey de Ruthven, on her tomb once in St. Katharine's-by-the-Tower, now in its successor at Regent's Park. This last, however, was so disfigured long before its removal that the Order could no longer be recognised; and the arm that bore it is now "restored" into mere undistinguished masonry.

Stanton Harcourt Manor House

The remains of the old manor house stand in an adjoining garden; which you enter through a doorway in the churchyard wall. They date from about 1450. There is a square tower, fifty four feet high, which from the road from West End you may easily mistake for the church. Its ground floor was the private chapel of the Harcourt family. The next was the priest's living room, with his bedroom above. All three seemed very neglected and dirty when I saw them. The fourth and top room is wainscoted and better kept; and it was here that in 1718 Pope completed his translation of the fifth book of the Iliad. He was at Stanton Harcourt the greater part of two summers; Gay also was a visitor at the same time, and the only person, they say, who ever dared to intrude upon his brother poet. There would be a splendid view from the top were it not for the spreading elms that screen the landscape.

After the square primness of the tower you get a thrill on entering the magnificent old kitchen of the manor house, like a cave of the mountains where gnomes might fitly inhabit. It is finer than the Christ Church kitchen; and is said to be very similar to the abbot's kitchen at Glastonbury. It has no chimney; the fires were made against the walls, and the smoke escaped through a series of shutters in the sloping roof like huge Venetian blinds, which could be opened or closed according to the direction of the wind. This gave occasion for a somewhat laboured antiquarian jest of, I think, Dr. Plot's: that it might be called a kitchen within a chimney, or a kitchen without one. A very dark and narrow stairway in the wall leads on to the battlements, where however the landscape is again hidden by masses of foliage. Hawthorne speaks of a letter of Pope's as "playful and picturesque, with fine touches of humorous pathos, and dashing off the grim aspect of this kitchen, which he peoples with witches, engaging Satan himself as head cook, to stir the infernal cauldrons that seethe and bubble over the fires. " He also refers, with a rather scornful patronage, to the poet having used the old tower and peeping of summer mornings,"poor little shrimp that he was," through the embrasures of the battlement. The Harcourt family has not resided here since the death of Sir Philip Harcourt in 1688.

The old stocks are still standing on a strip of greensward opposite the school. And out southwest beyond the village are the Devil's Quoits, three monoliths of brown conglomerate which, says the legend, Apollyon tossed from Cumner height as a wager for the soul of a man. They are some distance apart, and you can never see more than two from any standpoint when the crops are standing. The nearest to the village is in a long narrow hayfield, and is about five feet high and wide, and eighteen inches thick. It was taken down, many years ago, and used for a roadside bridge, and shews on one face the groove where the traffic ran over it. So a merry-eyed, one-armed rustic out "birdstarvin" informed me. The second is perhaps a little larger, and stands about three hundred yards away southwest. The flat sides of these two face each other. Due south is the third and largest, eight feet by six by two, as nearly as I could judge from the edge of the oats that surrounded it. The plane of its flat side is parallel with the line between the other two; and my judgement is that it was a Druidic circle of about nine hundred yards in circumference; though local tradition pronounces the stones a monument set up to commemorate a battle long ago, possibly the one between British and Saxons at Bampton in 614 when Cwichelm of Mercia gained his great decisive victory. Why, however, should it have been erected so far from the scene of the fight? Dr. Plot suggested a Roman origin for the stones, as having perhaps been erected as trophies according to their custom at the extreme limit of one of their victories. It is interesting to notice that the word "devil" may quite probably be the British dubbalia, that is, Druidical stones, which if correct confirms my opinion of their origin. But I will base no argument upon the quagmire of Celtic philologies; one cannot forget Dean Swift's oat-stealer. There are other stones called by the same name southward near Hackpen, it is said. A barrow once stood near these Quoits, which however no longer existed even in Boydell's time, in 1794. The removal of it was begun by a tenant of the spot, but when the work was about half completed the whole village was alarmed by a violent storm of rain and hail and thunder, which so worked upon their rural superstitions that nothing more was then done. A few years later, however, they managed to remove the remainder without any further protest from the elements.


House in Northmoor
House in Northmoor. Formerly the Vicarage.
Photograph by Holbrook Jackson.

There is a rough scramble over fields and green cart tracks due south to the little tree-clad village of Northmoor, with its quiet plain church of St. Denis and beautiful little Tudor residence, once the vicarage, built by St. John's College, who still remain the patrons.

It is not so large and stately as Yarnton, but nevertheless a little poem built and preserved by poetic souls. How freshly the ferns contrast with the grey stone of the stable loft stairs from whose crevices they spring! And between the church and the old vicarage is a fine old timber dovecote whence descends all day a

voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.

These old-world dovecotes are not specially rare; the shires of Worcester and Hereford are said to possess about two hundred between them. But being often several centuries old they are fast disappearing through decay and demolition; and their owners would be well advised to care more lovingly for them as relics of our ancient, irrevocable English life. Large specimens are said to have contained as many as nine hundred nesting holes. Pigeons were a most important article of food in ancient times, when cattle were usually killed off at the approach of winter and salted down,

[In his Additions and Corrections Fred added: Mr. Horace Hutchinson, in the Westminster Gazette of March 27th, 1909, had some of his pleasant discourse upon this subject. "Sixteen years ago there was none but home-grown hay in the country, but not so very long ago, say two hundred years, none at all. This may not seem a very striking, important fact, but it has to be remembered that we, no less than the stock, are hay-eaters in the second instance. The lack of hay, therefore, and practically of any artificially stored food for cattle two hundred years ago meant that in the winter there were no cattle to be killed at all. The stock was killed down to the minimum necessary for its continued existence when the pasture began to fail in autumn. It was salted, and the salted meat was the provision for the winter. "]

and these birds became the only available fresh meat. Only lords of manors and parsons were allowed to erect dovecotes. An Act of Edward VI expressly forbade anyone under the rank of a lord of Parliament, and not having A100, to shoot with his arrows at a pigeon on a church. A third offence meant death. Dovecote burglary was also very severely punished. There were some quaint uses for which the birds were recommended. Amongst others: "Our physicians apply live pigeons cut in half to the soals of the feet in acute diseases to support and refresh the patient; for the vital spirits of the pigeon still remaining in the hot flesh insinuate themselves into the blood of the sick person, now dispirited and ready to stagnate, and enduing it with new life enable it to perform its solemn necessary circuit. " Even in 1668 Pepys could write: "Comes news from Kate Joyce that, if I would see her husband alive, I must come presently. So I to him, and find his breath rattled in the throate; and they did lay pigeons to his feete, and all despair of him. " It reminds one of similar usages reported by Darwin of the people round Santa Fe, who "kill and cut open two puppies and bind them on each side of a broken limb. Little hairless dogs are in great request to sleep at the feet of invalids.

On the dovecote turret you may observe how cunningly the old grey stone tiles are rounded into the angles between the gables. And another charming feature is the gradation of the tiles, the smallest at the comb of the roof, and increasing sizes lower down the slope. These two graceful touches are common throughout this countryside.

Dovecote Northmoor
DOVECOTE, Northmoor.
Photograph by Holbrook Jackson.

The church of St. Denis is of late Norman and Early English origin; a pillar of the chancel arch has a moulding with Norman decoration on the abacus. There are some Decorated windows of later insertion. Over the south chancel door is a large picture of Christ bearing the Cross, by an Iffley artist. A wooden belfry loft fills the west end, with a quaint inscription on its face:

Richard Lydall gave a new bell
And built this bell loft free
And then he said before he died
Let Ringers pray for me.

I wonder if this Lydall was any relation of the Rev. Robert Lydall, whose memorial stone is in Wytham church, and who died in 1742. The family seems once to have occupied the vicarage at Northmoor; and I know their memorial in St. Laurence's, Reading. Beneath this gallery is a primitive Norman font with what looks like a more recent floral carving upon it. On the north side of the chancel is a little jumbled collection of Early English tiles patched into the floor; some dim old wall painting, also, you will find in the north transept.

The churchyard has many beautiful yews and a cedar a hundred years old, some of which are being pitiably strangled with ivy. And there are some charming thatched and gabled cottages and flowery gardens on the road back to Bablock Hithe.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o'er me,
Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me
All I ask, the heaven above,
And the road below me.


IT is hot walking in August up the field road named Long Leys that leads in about two miles from Bablock Hithe to Cumner on the northern Berkshire ridge. But a stoat or a hare may dart across and please you with the thrill of the wild; and once at the top the eye can roam over a magnificent stretch of country: northwestward to the rainy Cotswolds, northward over Blenheim, northeast to little Cassington spire gleaming white in the sun against the purple shadows of the woods, and to Wytham Hill that closes in the full east.

What a different note the country has here, after Stanton Harcourt and Northmoor. There, rich valleys and the sure grey stone tinged with golden lichen here, breezy uplands and warm red brick or whitened walls. But some love one, and some the other, and so all are served.

God gives all men all earth to love,
But since man's heart is small,
Ordains for each one spot shall prove
Beloved over all.

Cumner enters history about 685, being then mentioned in a grant of land by King Ceadwalla of Wessex towards the foundation of the great abbey at Abingdon, in whose possession it remained until 1539. There was a church probably as far back as the eighth century; the ubiquitous legend of a sacking by the Danes meets you here also. Stephen passed over the heights in 1142; and in 1644 Sir William Waller with five hundred Parliamentary horse from Abingdon overran the church and did sundry small damage of a doubtless inevitable sort in such rough times. in 1748 was performed the last local certified public penance after such wise: "On Sunday during Morning Prayer a large white sheet from shoulders to ankles, white rod in hand, bare-legged, bare-footed, open-faced, in the middle aisle or passage of this same church that she may be well seen and heard. " No mention of the male offender: "the woman pays. "

But Cumner is chiefly notorious as the scene of the alleged murder of Amy Robsart, a story deplorably manipulated by Sir Walter Scott for his Kenilworth. Every known fact is against him, as either he knew or should have known. Sir Anthony Forster, his second villain, is credited with quite specific excellent qualities on his Purbeck marble tomb on the north wall of the church chancel; not erected, however, till thirty-eight years after his death. Then Cumner Place, originally built about 1350 as a country residence or perhaps a sort of convalescent home for the abbot of Abingdon and his monks, was not bought by Forster till 1561, the year after Amy's death and burial in St. Mary's, Oxford. The revels at Kenilworth, again, in honour of Queen Elizabeth, during which Scott presents us with the queen procuring the lady's death, were not held till many years after he dates them. Above all, there are displayed in the church fac-similes of letters from Lady Amy Dudley to her husband in absence, breathing the spirit of most veritable affection and comradeship between them. And I shall not too deeply sympathize with any who grieve over an old legend destroyed. As Andrew Lang says: "History is too rich in beauty and romance to miss borrowed pinchbeck gems and legendary trappings. "

A tiny monograph, Amy Robsart at Cumnor, by Philip Sidney, largely confirms this criticism. The present Bear & Ragged Staff, says the writer, was built late in the eighteenth century, some little distance from the old inn which stood opposite the churchyard, and which was dismantled owing to the noise made by its frequenters. "The famous staircase down which Amy Dudley is said to have fallen was a "short winding flight; and the luckless lady must have exercised some little ingenuity in twisting her body into an extraordinary position if she broke her neck down this corkscrew communication between two floors. " Mr. Sidney throws grave doubt upon Leycester's Commonwealth, the anonymous source whence Wood and Ashmole copied their accounts reflecting so seriously upon the earl. It is certainly an envenomed document of most vicious intention.

Hawthorne thought that if Forster ever came across Scott in the unseen world, he would scarcely think it worth while to complain of these misrepresentations. "If they really mattered, Providence would have placed our reputations more in our own power, and less in that of others, than we actually find them. " He appears to have been told that one of the churchyard walls, I suppose the western, was built with stones from Cumner Hall, pulled down in 1810. Possibly it was a wall of that house; and it now bounds a school playground covering the site of the romantic old place, of which there are no remains whatever except a pointed archway, built up, that led, it is thought, into the kitchen. This archway is in the churchyard wall; you may see it if you lean over.

As a contribution to Mores' contemplated history of Berkshire the vicar of the time reported in 1759: "The only remarkable ancient mansion house is that which stands on the west side of the churchyard, called in the old writings and to this day Cumner Place. It is in a ruinous condition, and one corner of it only is inhabited. Over the great gate, at the entrance of the court in the front of the house, is the following inscription


- the very stone, you will notice, which is now at the entrance of Wytham churchyard, though Forster's name and the date have disappeared. Just previous to Forster the holder had been Thomas Rowland de Pentecost, the last abbot of Abingdon, who received it, together with a large pension, as a reward for having, at the Dissolution, himself treacherously suggested the surrender of the abbey to Henry VIII; forestalling what Langland wished him: "the knock of a king and incurable the wound. "

Then comes a little passage in the Report which, to me at least, seems but thinly to conceal something of the stirring and the pathetic. The vicar goes on to state that there had been "a tradition that Cassington was in old times a chapel-of-ease to Cumner, and a part of the parish. Within three hundred years the people of Cassington used to claim a right of burying here; that they crossed the river with their dead at Somerford Mead (where it is said the plank stones are still to be seen by which they passed) and from thence came up through the riding in Cumner wood (which they claimed as their church way) and at a lane, near a house called Blind Pinnock's, began their psalm-singing; which lane is from hence called, to this day, Songers Lane. " Dim, heart-searching old history Think of it in the times of flood in winter, across the swollen, muddy River, up the riding in the deep snow, and the plain song chant startling the wintry gloom at the appointed spot as they neared the final resting place of their beloved dead! Dim, strange old history and what hundreds of such little glimpses of our old English life are buried away in our quiet libraries. Gunny's Lane, opposite the church gate, impassably muddy the November day when first I knew of it, must I think be this Songers' Lane. For up till about 1870 there was an old "tumble-down" still called Blind Pinnock's standing within it, a mile from the village. It had been an inn, probably used by these ancient pilgrims for their refreshment, and contained a window scratched full of names, which was shattered when the old place was demolished. Mr. Belloc tells me he knows of traces of the Singing Way through Lord Abingdon's park.

If Gunny's Lane be not Songers' Lane it leads at least in the right direction, due north down to the Eynsham Road-a rough cart track under shady elms at the side of a hayfield. Where Blind Pinnock's stood is now a substantial little farmhouse. Whether the way afterwards crossed the hard road and ascended straight over Wytham Wood and down to Sornerford, or skirted the hill to Swinford and so round by the ancient Riverside path, I know not. This Somerford Mead is a long meadow on the Berkshire bank, where the corner of the wood comes down and meets the River, which here is quite fordable. I heard of maps in Cumner church chest which might make the whole matter clear; some day I may get to see them. With such a burden the level route round by the bridge might seem preferable; and I heard from a woman on the road of a Songers' Copse between Swinford and the north end of Gunny's Lane. And as regards the Cassington holding, you may still see it in the southwest corner of Cumner churchyard a plot of turf unmarked with any memorial; wherein, although every other site is so overcrowded that fresh burial ground is being sought, they still refrain from interring the unentitled dead; so strong is the ancient right, persistent through very centuries of disuse and almost of oblivion.

One more little excerpt, and the ancient record shall go rest again. The ferryman at Eynsham had to pay an annual tithe of six shillings and eight pence to the incumbent of Cumner. It was "always brought to the vicar in the bason of water by the ferry-man (who attends him with a clean napkin); and after he has fished for his money and wiped his fingers, he is expected to distribute the water among the young people who come within his reach, as a token of remembrance to them of the custom. Likewise, in Rogation week, the vicar and parishioners go into the ferry and crossing over to the Oxfordshire side, they lay hold on the twigs or reeds on the bank, and conclude the ceremony with the gospel of the Ascension. By this act they would be understood to assert the whole breadth of the River to belong to the parish and manor of Cumner. " This custom has not long died out.

Hawthorne seems not to have noticed any other matters of interest in the church, not even the fine old spiral stairway of 1685 leading up to the belfry, but drove on to the modern Bear and Ragged Staff, where you still get good cider, but no tea on Sundays. Now, as in his time, you meet "no travellers, on foot or otherwise," along these lonely roads. Yet St. Michael's church is very rich in interest. It is most lovingly kept, and full of little careful notes of information and guidance, so that the pleasure of visiting it is greatly enhanced. It is chiefly of two periods of building; late Early English and late Decorated. The west door, and the excellent beasts upon the south door, hidden with roses in summer, shew most characteristic signs of lingering Norman influence. The tower is fairly massive, but not so splendid as, for example, the memorable tower of Westham, by Pevensey. Perhaps the most striking thing in it is a white statue of Queen Elizabeth,"in her habit as she lived."

STATUE OF QUEEN ELIZABETH, Cumner Church. Pencil drawingby Helen R. Lock.

It is said to have been sculptured for the Earl of Leicester and set up by him in the garden of Cumner Place as a compliment to his royal Mistress. It suffered subsequently much moving about and disfigurement, being ultimately recovered from an outhouse at Wytham Abbey, much mutilated. It was then restored and erected here in 1888, by the care and at the expense of the late vicar,"et ad unguem refecta. " It makes her a rather charming little figure of a woman of about five feet three inches in height; though considering her traditional shrewish aspect I could not dispel a wonder as to what portrait was copied in recarving the pleasant features of the statue. Yet perhaps they are authentic; they are just such features as, oval in the bloom of youth, might easily lengthen into the Penshurst portrait; and freeze ultimately into the grim imperious mask that glares ever upward from the tomb at Westminster.

There is a chained Bible of 1611 in a glass case; and on the south wall of the nave is a quaint rhymed inscription to a James Welsh and his wife Margery, reciting how they each bequeathed five pounds to the "poore of Comner. "

The fruite makes knowne the nature of the tree,
Good life the Christian, even so was hee.

[In his Additions and Corrections Fred added: There is a little building adjoining Cumner churchyard which has a curious history. It was for centuries the property of the churchwardens, who paid in most years between 1687 and 1813 a ground rent of eightpence upon it. The vicars during that period had their study in it; and it was under its roof that the indoor portions of the tithe customs were performed that I have mentioned; and where according to immemorial custom the vicars would entertain the tithepayers with annual bread and cheese and ale. At some time after 1813 it was used, till 1872, as a poorhouse. In 1877 the Earl of Abingdon, then Lord Norreys, under an impression that it was his property (a mistake shared by the vicar), converted it into lodgings for his brickworkers, and spent a considerable sum upon repairs and alterations. Seventeen years later the vicar seems to have discovered that the house was parish property; and setting on foot certain efforts to recover it, the building was restored to the parish, with the assistance of the Charity Commissioners, only as recently as 1907. It is now divided into two cottages, the tenants being workmen at the Chawley Brick Works, whose tall chimney you may see as you climb the long hill from Oxford. ]

The whole village is full of little homely beauties, and of Gothic touches in the dwellings. Specially, perhaps, should one be grateful for the surviving thatched roofs, still happily preserved from the rural authorities, for whom we all must now be hideously slated and tiled. Lewis mentions a mineral spring at Cumner, perhaps in the Long Leys; once much frequented, but disused, he says, writing about 1850. And what strange scene was it in the ancient days when Alfsi, king's bailiff in Sutton Courtenay, presumed to cut and cart wood from Abingdon property here in Cumner, and Abbot Athelhelm, the Normanised Saxon, pursued him until the terror stricken man took refuge in the Ock, up to the neck in water?


Appleton lies two and a half miles away southwestward along the height. It is a grand upland road thither, the great shoulders of the Berkshire Downs in sight the whole way along. The Thatched Tavern, red tiled now in spite of its name, but still picturesque enough, presents you with a very inviting first view of the little village; and is moreover much more hospitably inclined on Sundays than the good house at Cumner.

At the bend of the lane to the church there was a little home touch one hot August afternoon, of school children repeating their lesson aloud. Poor thirsty little souls! but they were soon out; it was breaking up day, I hope and believe. Just beyond is a large pond, that mirrors the trailing fringes of an adorable pollarded willow. Some fine old barn buildings form a background, concealing the manor house, which is very effectually hidden away all round except for a glimpse you get from the churchyard. It is a notable building, said to be the oldest manor house left in England, and dating back, much of it, to the late Norman. One would like to view it, but it is still a home, and not yet a public monument. It is said to contain, among other interesting features, a striking round-arched doorway with stiff-stalked foliage on the capitals. A moat surrounds it; dry, so far as one can see. Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet, held it in 1436.

Behind this manor house and the churchyard they shew you the Manor Farm, accredited by the villagers with an entirely fabulous age. More plausibly they assert that Oliver Cromwell once "lived" in it, and shew you an old iron-studded door in proof; yet even this is possibly fabulous.

The sixteenth century house "Tintynes," mentioned by Lysons and now called Tintene, is very interesting. It has been, within living memory, moated; and has a fine stack of chimneys. The Fettiplaces in the time of James I seem to have lived here in preference to Appleton manor house or to Bessilsleigh. There is another grange, still moated, just over the Osse (Osey) Ditch, two fields from Tintynes; also once occupied by the Fettiplaces; and close to the site, now marked by a single stone, of the ancient pre-Reformation church of Tubney.

This Appleton is another charming village, as they all are in the River country. The tiny church has a prim meeting-house appearance, with its whitened walls and pointed wooden belfry surmounting the slender tower. But it has a chime of ten bells, arresting to hear in the distance even if a little overpowering as you sit in the churchyard in the cool of the evening. When first I heard them from a mile away I asked in wonder what ring it was; their ecstatic peal so tempestuously surged and died upon the wind, as though from the moonlit spires of some forgotten city, unmarked on any map. A wonderful old one-eyed rustic, too, who knows where to spend a few pence comfortably, lingers about you amongst the graves. He has lived in the place "the last seventy year"; and is perhaps still spreading the report of a fictitious crime at Eynsham foisted upon him by my inventive companion. The church is of about the same age as St. Michael's at Cumner, but appears to have been restored recently. The north door is the chief entrance, here as there. Some poor-looking pillars divide the chancel from its aisle; a Norman tub font stands in the northwest corner; some square pews in the chancel aisle; and the Fettiplace monument of 1593 to the south of the altar is very noticeable with its Fui quod es: Eris quod sum. If you have a heart you will look tenderly upon the primitive wooden chandelier in the north aisle, the one with the wooden blocks for candlesticks. Upon one of the arches is an inscription: "We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this good gilt given by Sir R. Fettiplace" and the rest; reminding the needy recipients to be grateful for the fourteen loaves distributed by his bequest every fortnight, and the two annual coats.


A field path and downhill lane lead back to Bablock Hithe in about two miles and a half, overlooking leafy Oxfordshire and the silver riband of the Thames. Eaton hamlet sits on the hillside just at the dip, a mere cluster of cots and barns; the clean west wind leaps bracingly upon it clear out of the Cotswolds. It possesses an Eight Bells inn, a curious sign so far from the sea; a fellow to the one at distant Hannington.


The cots of tiny Bessilsleigh hide a mile or so southward behind Eaton, beyond Rookley Wood whose last decaying autumn splendours I once beheld beneath the brilliant sunshine of a November afternoon. It is a delightful little lane by which you go; and my first glimpse of the village was exquisite, where golden leaved elms and dark green firs overarched the road at the entrance, while beneath and beyond them shone a moss-clad roof of vivid softest green. There is little to see in the place but the characteristic beauty of thatch and gable: and the small, interesting church of St. Lawrence stands half a mile away upon the crest of the hill, overhung by the pines that grow upon its northern side. In the surrounding elms the cawing of rooks is rarely silent; that blessed sound of home. It is a building of very ancient foundation, dating they say from 1100, though much restored and altered during succeeding periods. The porch, largely of wood, was formed from the curve of an immense tree by unaided adze work; and the inner doorway is of Norman carving. The original door is still there; they tell you with pride that it is two hundred years older than the famous kitchen door of Christ Church.

The interior is full of old things, Early English tiling and red brick on the floor, a Jacobean font, old unpolished mould glass in the windows, old oak pews also possibly of pure adze work wickedly painted over even as the walls are wickedly limewashed. The red buck paves the narrow aisle between the villagers' seats; the tiling spreads broad where their betters pass, the squire s family to their huge square pew, the hall servants to theirs adjoining, and the rector's people and domestics across the aisle; behind whom a small seat is interestingly allotted to the Greyhound, the village inn. The whole ceiling is barrel vaulting, divided by the upper part of a rood screen. I suppose this style of vaulting dictated the narrowness and great comparative length of the building. The division of these long narrow churches into three distinct and equal portions is said to prove their probable re-erection upon extremely ancient foundations. On the west side of the screen is inscribed in large letters how that the church was "beautified and repaired in the year 1632 by the Honourable William Lenthall, Master of the Rolls and Speaker of the Parliament of England"; and again by a later Lenthall in 1788. It is pretty to see the choir seats and the organ upon a little elevated platform at the west end. Under the pulpit the clerk still sits on Sundays and intones his ancient function and before they whitewashed it the concave ceiling above the chancel was painted with" God the Father Son and Holy Ghost and the sun moon and stars all shining together in a bright blue sky. " You recite this in one breath; and may see similar stars in a similar sky at Shoreham in Kent; a church, by a curious coincidence, very similarly built before its enlargement. There seems to have been a priest's room in the roof, to which some external steps led up where the wide buttress now supports the northern wall.

I once had the fortune to be in the church when Squire Lenthall and his daughter were there about some decoration or other. I did not know who the stalwart old gentleman might be, with his greatcoat collar turned up and his commanding aspect. I hazarded that perhaps he was the rector. "Rector, rector? " said he; "my name's Lenthall! " Not such an one as his famous ancestor did he speak and look, to write up Vermis sum for his epitaph! Shewing me the tomb of the Speaker's son before the altar, a tablet to another child on the south chancel wall, and the family quarterings wherever the eye can rest, he said with a twinkle "You can see it was all built less for the glory of God than of Lenthall! "

Immediately west of the church the manor house stood till about 1880, when it was pulled down and a more modern one built further west by the Lenthall of the time. Two gateposts, said to be Inigo Jones's work while he was building Oriel, stand solitary where once the drive to the old mansion left the lane. But even this does not seem to have been very ancient; Lysons wrote about 1813 of a still older house, pulled down before his time, in which Holbein's famous picture of Sir Thomas More and his family, subsequently taken to Burford, was preserved.

[ Fred in his Additions and Corrections added: This picture was probably not Holbein's, but one very similar painted by Rowland Lockey in 1593. The original Holbein is now, and appears always to have been, in Basle museum. ]

It must have been this house, with its secret chamber, which the famous Speaker purchased of the Fettiplaces. At the end of 1644 it was fortified by King Charles's forces, who placed within it "a garrison of two or three hundred musqueteers" from Oxford only shortly afterwards to lose it to a party of the Parliamentary army from Abingdon.

The title of the village is from the names of two families by whom it was successively held the Leghs, one of whom, Thomas, was lord of the manor in 1316, and another high sheriff of Berkshire in 1431; and the Besils, who came out of " Province in Fraunce, Men of Activitye in Feates of Armes. " Leland's picturesque note runs: "At this Legh be very fayre Pastures and Woodes. The Place is all of stone, and stondith at the West End of the Paroche Church. Blessels were Lords also of Rodecote by Ferendune"; was this Radcot Grange, or a house upon its site? It was Sir Peter Besils who gave the stone for the building of the bridge at Abingdon and left certain houses as a fund for its repair; he gave the stone also for Culham Bridge. He bequeathed six hundred pounds to provide restitution to any man whom he or his ancestors might have wronged; and if there were found no man, it was to be used for the poor and the highways. He was buried in 1424 in the church of the Dominicans above Folly Bridge, of which I have written, having been a great benefactor to their house. His male line failing the manor went by marriage to the Fettiplaces in the sixteenth century; of whom William Lenthall purchased the lordship in 1630: "the weak tool of a rebellious Parliament, who at his death signed a Recantation and Abhorrence of his former errors," writes indignant Ashmole. In Hudibras Butler's Acts & Monuments he is made to say: "Gentlemen, can you think that I, that I your Speaker, your everlasting Speaker, who am resolved to live and die with you at A5 per diem, can live to maintain myself and family at that great rate I now live at; and support the grandeur that should attend the Speaker to so noble persons, with A13, 000 per annum, and not above A80, 000 in personal estate? " The Lenthalls came out of Herefordshire, where they are first heard of in the thirteenth century.

To Tubney

One keen, brilliant morning late in the autumn I left Appleton by the road that winds through Tubney Wood. There was thin ice upon the pond, and feathery white frost on the decaying bracken and turf at the road side. All the trees shone golden in the woods, overarched with a blue and cloudless sky. The keeper's cottage gleamed lonely outside the village, an exquisite little miniature in the clear light, with its creeper of golden green and high-pitched roof of velvety grey. Just here, on the right, a footpath through the woods, pleasant in the heat of summer, will shorten the way if you do not feel bound to the road.

Beyond the woods you come upon the new little church of Tubney, with its single bell that clangs so uneasily upon Sunday mornings. Of the old church there is, as I have said, but one stone left, in a field near the keeper's cottage at Appleton. Lysons wrote in 1813, long before the new church was built: "The rectory is a sinecure, in the gift of Magdalen College. Upon the induction of a rector the service is held in the open air. " A little further westward still stands that magnificent old torso, the "Tubney tree. " Its trunk looks all the thirty-six feet in circumference with which it is credited; but the main limbs are all shortened, necessarily perhaps but certainly grievously, and only the lesser branches remain whole. How many centuries has its stalwart bole, upright as any pine, stood on this little green where the Abingdon Road goes off? Some will have one hundred years to be the usual limit of the life of an elm; stand on the eastward side, five yards away, and say if you think this vast wall of wood is still so young; if, rather, it be not three times as old. A few happy old folk possibly survive who believe the witches dance around it at midnight certainly the Scholar Gipsy may have contemplated younger witcheries beneath its boughs; for

Maidens, who from the distant hamlets come
To dance around the Fyfield elm in May,
Oft through the darkening fields have seen thee roam,
Or cross a stile into the public way.

And even though old witches and young may have deserted it, the hunt at all events still meets at "Tubney tree".

Osey Ditch

The Osey Ditch, which crosses the road just outside Appleton (within which parish it rises), runs beneath it again fuller and stronger as you begin the little ascent into Fyfield. Its source is upon the southern slope of the Cumner ridge, and it therefore flows southwest into the Ock, two or three miles above Abingdon, rather than northwards into Thames. Of Fyfield I have much to say later.

Kingston Bagpuize

A mile southwest lies Kingston Bagpuize, deriving its name from Richard Bagpuize, a follower of the Conqueror. Its Italian church, built in 1799, seems the ugly duckling of this Gothic district. Not that the poor little building is particularly ugly, except by comparison. Two small quaint Byzantine windows peer out above the doorway with its straight lintel and classical columns, the whole surmounted with a circular turret. I could not get inside; it was sermon time; but I noticed the charming, secluded surroundings, and several tombstones in the churchyard more ancient than the church itself. It lies upon the western side of a tiny green encircled with trees, at the southern end of which some iron gates mark the drive into the park. The Fettiplaces once held here; where indeed in Berkshire did this old family not set its mark? The last heir male of the house, Sir George Fettiplace, died only in 1743; several subsequent owners of the estates seem to have adopted the ancient name.

The Hind's Head may be known by the carved stone sign over its door. The old inn, which stood close by, was a busy place in the coaching days, where they changed horses for another stage. A tollhouse which has been in active employment within living memory still stands at the adjoining bend of the road.

Like all little villages set upon great roads, Kingston Bagpuize suffers from tramps, who reproduce in petto the old days of the highwaymen. As I sat in the inn that brilliant November morning two men joined me from the Old Berkshire Hunt kennels close by; one a stiff young fellow with red cheeks and magnificent teeth, the other his senior, a big, jolly old boy with a red Punch nose, a missing tooth, and an ineffaceable smile. I remarked upon the number of loafers I had met that morning: "Yes," said the younger,"there were three of 'em here last week, three men and a woman. One come into the yard and asked me for a fag. I hadn't one, and said so. 'Give us the one you're smoking, ' said the fellow. I refused. 'Then you're a-. 'I'll give you -, ' said I, and hit him under the point of the jaw. " "Never let these chaps come at you too lively," he exhorted me; "lay 'em down again as soon as they're up! " and indeed he seemed to have taken his own advice. Then the jovial one chimed in, chuckling: "Werry edifyin' it all wur! I lobbed one of 'em out of this 'ere house myself. " He told how he was up behind a pear tree at the kennels one evening when a party of them came by. They saw a tramp sign of warning and said to each other: "No -use; look at the big "tomtit" up there! " "Yes," the old boy countered, and how ecstatically he smiled at the recollection! "and here's a cock-robin a-looking at yer, too! " Fine old cherub; may your like never die out of England! Yet they both had a good word to say of their opponents' pluck "come out of some boxing booth," they thought "and working, or bullying, their way home to London. "

There is a legend that Charles II hid in a barn here after Worcester battle, but in his own account dictated to Pepys there is no mention of it. [Fred in his Additions and Corrections added: John Blandy, by will in 1736, directed a school to be built, still known as Blandy's School, wherein sixteen boys were to be taught "the art of navigation and other rules in the mathematics," and to be clothed. Six years from its commencement three boys were to be selected and put to sea, yearly, for ever; with ten pounds to each to set him up for his career. Any of the boys returning home disabled by service were each to have for the residue of life one of the six apartments erected in the schoolhouse for the purpose, and eight pounds annually paid in monthly instalments. At an enquiry in 1874 it was ordained that the instruction was to be of the kind usual in a public elementary school. The old building was condemned in 1892, and a new one erected on land presented by the lord of the manor, at a cost of over eleven hundred pounds. It does not appear that navigation and mathematics were ever taught, or that any boys were ever put to sea; nor were the buildings for returning seamen ever completed or occupied. ] From Kingston Bagpuize you may get down to the Thames at New Bridge, two miles and a half northward; or if you prefer it there is a by-lane straight as a Roman Way that turns off southward at the west end of the village leading to Wantage Road Station built so curiously across its long, narrow pond. You cross the Ock, which ran full and turbid between its accustomed willows the morning I was there, to join the Thames at Abingdon in about six miles as the crow flies. Then a little tributary of the Ock flows beneath the road at Gallows Ham Bridge, and immediately after you will discern the low massive tower of West Hanney. I have not seen anywhere in this countryside so striking a collection of fine and beautifully kept slabs and brasses as in this handsome church. They have all been brought together into the chancel from other parts of the building; and in their wonderful preservation must prove a rich and absorbing spectacle for those who specialise on the subject. And there is much wealth of interest beside: the rood stairway still plain to see, though no loft now remains; the delightful narrow pointed chancel arch; the quintet of Early English windows at the west end; the ancient rood screen, recalling Stanton Harcourt, but with finely carved panels, one not cut deep enough for some modern schoolmaster, so he must needs gouge the design deeper and leave the lovely old wood bloomless and raw and rough; the carved wooden pulpit, whose door bearing a date about 1600 was ravished away as an encumbrance by the practical daughter of some recent vicar; the wide-splayed Norman windows and the north door of the same period; the south door is fine Early English with a beautiful hood of stone. There is a splendid ancient chiselled font, and some very old odd patches of stained glass in the windows. One of the tower buttresses has a little window cut through it, rather unusual I think. And the floor of the tower was indisputably once used as a chapel; there is the piscina in proof; the bellringers doubtless worked upon a staging above, though now upon the ground. A huge whitewashed ladder leads up into the tower, used instead of an earlier winding stair in the wall itself, now built up for stability. Towards the west end of the nave is affixed a memorial tablet remarkable for an almost incredible record of longevity. In lovely italic characters it is written up

This place lieth
The Body of
Edward Bowles
Who died Dec. ye 9th
1685 Aetatis 89
Elizabeth, his
Wife was buried
April ye 7th 1718
Aged 124 years

Beneath it I saw on a little shelf the remainder of some small white loaves left from the morning, to be distributed at the evening service to such as should apply for them; a legacy of one Mr. Belcher, who died about 1720, and left four shillings weekly for the purpose. One of the manors of the parish was purchased during the reign of King John by Adam Fettiplace, who seems to have been the first of the name to settle in Berkshire.

[Fred in his Additions and Corrections added: The first Fettiplace came to England with William the Conqueror, as his gentleman-usher. The family scarcely appears in articulate history at all, so far as I have been able to discover: a race of quiet country knights, improving their estates and intermarrying with their equals. Their original settlement in Berkshire seems to have been at Childrey, out of my purview, three or four miles southwest of West Hanney. Afterwards, perhaps about the middle of the sixteenth century, they went to reside at Swinbrook in Oxford-shire, about two miles west of Minster Lovel. One John, under Henry VI, married Beatrice the widow of the first Earl of Shrewsbury, who was daughter to the King of Portugal. Another John was raised to a baronetcy at the Restoration for his services to Charles I; the sole occasion upon which I find them really active in English annals. His son Edmund was one of a 1660 list of persons "fit and qualified to be made Knights of the Royal Oak"; an Order intended by Charles II as a reward to several of his followers. "But it was thought proper to lay it aside, lest it might create heats and animosities. " Wotton publishes the whole list in his Baronetage as a "curiosity acceptable to the publick. "]

There seems now to be something missing in any village where they have no monument. The chief manor once belonged to the alien priory of Newton Longville in Buckinghamshire, after whose suppression by Henry VI it went to New College.

And now through banks from strife remote
Thy crystal waters wind along,
Responsive to the wild bird's note,
Or lonely boatman's careless song.

Ark Weir (Noah's Ark) Harts Weir

ARK weir (Noah's Ark), known aforetime also as Hart's, once stood about half a mile above Bablock Hithe. It is described in Fearnside: "On one side is the sluice, through which the water having attained more body, rushes with considerable noise; another branch flows through the open weir, and a third forms a backwater."

Northmoor Lock Northmoor Lock in WTSWG

The River is now very beautiful for a mile before you reach Northmoor lock, particuIarly one little straight reach bordered with high, overarching trees, illustrated in Boydell. Along here if you have good fortune you may hear in the evening the bells of Appleton, and may recall de Quincey: "The music from a finely toned set of bells, when heard upon a winding river, in summer, under the farewell lights of setting suns, is the most pathetic in the world."

Ridge's Footbridge

Above the lock is Ridge's footbridge, over the site of another dismantled weir; Ridge's or Langley or Cock's. From the crown of this bridge, which lies at the exact point at which the River ascends northward for its long sweep round by Oxford and southward again to Abingdon, you may behold a true vision of the soul of remote Thames landscape. Across the Oxfordshire meadows lie the grey roofs and barns of tiny Moorton; and hence, if you choose, is the nearest way from the River to Fyfield; across Appleton Lower Common, desolate under a bleak August sky the day I was there, then over a little ridge and through the hamlet of Netherton. Once as I went, my thoughts busy with Froude's Henry the Eighth, what in the world should I observe but a lordly bull recumbent, with precisely six sleek cows peacefully ruminant around him.

Newbridge Newbridge in WTSWG

A long mile upstream from Ridge's lies grim old New Bridge, frowning down like a fortress upon your approach. It has six pointed arches of stone (seven, one told me locally, but I could never count them so), and a modern extension of several round arches for times of flood. There is a strong indication of a cross socket over one of the piers on the western parapet. It is new in name only, having been built about 1250 by the monks, it is said, of a former abbey here; and is popularly spoken of as the oldest surviving bridge over the Thames, though some object that it was called "new" in respect of Radcot Bridge, which would then be the most ancient. It lies fifteen miles from Oxford, and has an inn at each end, the Rose in Oxfordshire (the Old Rose Revived, says Taunt), and the Maybush in Berkshire.

Leland crossed here: what a pity that no publisher will venture upon a reasonably inexpensive edition of the old chronicler! His description holds good to this very day. "The Ground ther al about lyethe in low Medowes often ovarflowne by Rage of Reyne. Ther is a large Cawsye of stone at eche End of the Bridge. The Bridge it selfe hathe VI greate Arches of Stone. Then I passyd by a fayre Mylle a Forow lengthe of, and there semyd to come downe a Broke that joynithe with Isis about New Bridge. " The fayre mylle still stands musical a forow lengthe from the bridge; and Leland's rage of reyne has more than once stormed down upon me as I lay under my boat's canvas against the Maybush bank, peering out to watch the thunder wrack stalking across Berkshire on the wings of the strong Southwest.

The bridge was the scene of a skirmish on May 27th, 1644, in which Sir William Waller was repulsed,"retiring," says Taunt,"to Abingdon, where he revenged himself by destroying the beautiful market cross. " Lysons says there were two annual fairs here, on March 31 and September 28.

River Windrush The Windrush in WTSWG

Immediately against and above the bridge the River Windrush enters on the left bank. It once joined a few yards higher, and its heaped up débris in course of time formed an island at its mouth; so that a new cut had to be made for it. The gradual protrusion of this island into the bed of Thames no doubt caused his present curving approach to the bridge. This beautiful stream, thirty-six miles long, rises near Cutsdean in the Cotswolds, and flows through much romantic Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire scenery and many a little wayside village and larger town: Bourton-on-the-Water, Windrush, Burford, Witney, to name the chief alone. De Quincey wept in vast libraries at the contemplation of the hosts of volumes he could never hope to read. And I too brood over the silver tributaries, ancillas Tamesis, and the villages set like jewels upon their banks, whose charm and interest my lifetime will be too short fully to explore and describe. There are motor-cars, indeed; but Enery Straker would not allow any hanging over their bridges to watch the wavy fish and the swaying weeds; the clack of his gear would fret the soul in their ancient hallowed churches and acres of God; and nowise in his creed of hurry and smash is the talk with their old inhabitants and the dream of the ages that have drifted over their nested elms. They must be walked in, lingered and dreamed in, if they are to become part of one's own self; and

Eheu! fugaces, Postume, Postume,
Labuntur anni.

The Windrush might be navigated by canoe, they say, with portages here and there, up as far as Witney in brimming seasons. Its impregnation with nitrate of sulphur renders the Witney blankets so famous for their whiteness. It is pleasant to know that the Yorkshire mills are not driving its almost immemorial trade altogether away from the little Oxfordshire town; there was a new mill building in the summer of 1907; and as I print these words the town is fighting for the exclusive right to its own name I hope with ultimate success.


A pleasant road leads away from New Bridge southward into Berkshire; broad and firm enough and with just sufficient ascent to make you square your shoulders at it and march. At the top of the hill there are glimpses of an almost complete circle of splendid landscape. Fyfield lies a mile east at the cross roads, so hidden amongst its immemorial elms that you are within it before you are fully aware. The church of St. Nicholas is a handsome little structure mostly in the Decorated style of modern rebuilding, having most unhappily been burnt out in 1893. Some of the old walls, however, still remain. On the north side is the Golafre chantry founded in 1442, with a recumbent effigy of John Golafre, the founder, in plate armour; the first man ever called esquire, says Fuller. Beneath him lies a skeleton horrible Death, only the more grimly fascinating for its marvellous workmanship. There is a quite appreciable number of examples of these memorials known, one of which is that of the Duchess of Suffolk in Ewelme church. The common people of Lysons' day called it "Gulliver's tomb," and declared the top figure shewed the man in youth and vigour, and the lower one in his old age. The Golafre family settled here in the early part of the fourteenth century. The first Sir John was buried in Fyfield in 1363; Thomas, the next heir, in 1378, and a second Sir John, by whom the chantry was founded, in 1441; though some say Thomas was buried amongst the Dominicans by Folly Bridge. The latter Sir John was twice sheriff of Oxford, in 1399 and again in 1413; and helped, with Thomas Chaucer who is said to have designed it, to erect the lovely cross at Abingdon which stood for over two hundred years until Waller (as I said) destroyed it the third day after his repulse at New Bridge, in what looks like a fit of spite; he hired stonemasons to saw it down. This same Sir John was chosen by King Richard II to convey to chivalric Froissart the royal souvenir of a silver goblet filled with a hundred nobles. And now lies here, with the mocking Death beneath him. He, like his neighbour Sir Peter Besils, was actively interested in the building of the bridge at Abingdon. Both the effigy and the skeleton are much mutilated "the roof fell in on Gulliver" during the fire; so also is a mural tablet to George Dale, principal of St. Mary Hall, Oxford, from 1587 to 1591.

This chantry not only maintained its proper priest. but served also to support five poor men. In addition to housing each bedesman received eightpence a week in cash, equal to over six shillings in modern money, an annual suit of livery, and a quarter of coal. The yearly income was A20 1 5s. ; of which the priest received about a third. More than two thousand of these chantries were abolished at the Dissolution. Stow comments: "It was (sayeth mine author) a pitifull thing to heare the lamentation that the people in the country made for them; for there was great hospitalitie kept among them, and as it was thought more than ten thousand persons, masters and servants, had lost their livings by the putting downe of those houses at that time. " And in Aubrey's Collections you may read: "Before the Reformation there were no poors-rates, the charitable doles given at religious houses, and church-ale in every parish, did the business. In every parish there was a church-house. Here the housekeepers met and were merry, and gave their charity. The young people came there too, and had dancing, bowling, shooting at butts, etc. There were few or no almshouses before the time of King Henry the Eighth. In every church was a poor-man's box, and the like at great inns. "

Poorhouses were directed from the ninth century and earlier, under a canon called but not really Nicene, to be established in every cathedral city, not "for cowherds and swineherds, but for infirm and poor persons, and of the same lordship. " Indigent relatives of the clergy might honourably participate; but no present or harvest work was to be stipulated for in return. The ancient feud between the seculars and regulars sprang partly from the monks, as "Christ's poor," insinuating themselves into first a share, and then the entire possession, of these ecclesiastical charities. And not one single instance can be traced, says the Victoria History of Oxfordshire, of the dispensing of bread and money being continued as a charge upon the properties by those to whom they fell. All was seized with the monasteries and the estates; and the distress must have been terrible. So Blind Ignorance, in Percy, gazing upon a ruined abbey, chants in broad Somerset:

Chill tell thee what, good vellowe,
Before the vriers went hence,
A bushel! of the best wheate
Was zold vor vourteen pence
And vorty eggs a penny,
That were both good and newe
And this che zay my self have zeene,
And yet ich am no Jewe.

The original Decorated sedilia and handsome piscine may still be seen in the church, and in the windows is some quite admirable flowing tracery. An altar tomb upon the north wall, familiarly known as the "Gorgon tomb," opens a most romantic history. It has neither brasses nor inscription; you may see the grooves in the stone whence they have been torn; but it is the resting-place of Lady Katherine Gordon, the White Rose of Scotland, daughter of the second Earl of Huntley. She was given in marriage about 1496 by her cousin, James IV of Scotland, to Perkin Warbeck, in whose pretensions to the English throne the Scottish king at first strongly believed, and towards whom he seems to have acted with much nobility to the very end. After her husband's lack of courage, or of fortune, at Taunton, and subsequent surrender at Beaulieu, she herself was captured and "brought to the king, Henry VII, in an honourable manner, on account of her noble birth. " Having "addressed a few words of sympathy to her, called forth no less by her beauty and youth, than by her tears and affliction, he caused Perkin to repeat to her the confession he had already made"; a confession possibly invented, and extorted almost certainly, only under fear of death. After his execution in 1499 Lady Katherine was provided for by the gift of the manor of Fyfield, on condition that she should not leave England except with royal consent. She then married Sir Matthew Cradock of Cardiff, having obtained the king's permission to reside in Wales. When he died the inscription written up over his tomb in Swansea ran "Here lieth Sir Mathie Cradok and Mi Ladi Katerin his Wife. " She however eluded him; and is believed to have married twice more; first James Strangeways and then Christopher Ashton, the former probably, the latter certainly, of Fyfield. Strangeways comes before Cradock in some accounts, By her will in 1537 she desires her "bodie to be buried in the parishe church of Fifeld aforesaide in suche place as shal be thought necessarie and mete by the discretion of my husband."

The great further point of interest is that by her wedding with Warbeck she became, however dubiously, prospective queen of England. So also was an heiress of the Golafre family, reputedly buried here though I could not hear the certainty, the wife of that John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, whom Richard III before his defeat and death on Bosworth field had designated his successor. It is indeed an interesting hold upon history this Berkshire village possesses two queens manquées.

The only hitches in the Gordon story are that in the Additions and Corrections in Lysons' Berkshire a bald statement occurs that it was a sister of Lady Katherine who married Perkin Warbeck; and also that the lady does not mention Warbeck in her will, for a perhaps obvious reason, however; although she names the other three. The will reads, after the usual Latin invocation and the date: "I Lady Katherin Gordon, Wife of Xpofer Assheton of Fyfelde, sometyme Wife unto James Strangwis late of Fyfelde aforesaide deceased [and executrix of his will] And also late Wife unto my dere and welbelovyd husband Sir Mathew Cradock of Cardiff in Wales deceased [and executrix of his will also], bequethe my soule" etc. And it is curious to note that Sir Mathew, in his own will, refers to his wife as "Dame Katherine Cradocke otherwise Dame Kateryne Gordon. " However, as I say, she may for an obvious and very sufficient reason have suppressed all reference to her first husband: having married him as "Prince Richard of England" she would not acknowledge his private deceit and public imposture by styling him Perkin Warbeck; and to refer to him as Prince Richard of York would be high treason. Possibly it may have been in consequence of some doubt in their minds as to the lady's identity that the present descendants of the Gordon family refused, as I understand, to assist in the renovation of the tomb after the fire. John Ford, in his tragedy Perkin Warbeck, published in 1634 within a century of her death, depicts Lady Katherine as "the very embodiment of sweet and devoted womanhood," staunch and affectionate to her unfortunate husband to the last.

Cath. Oh, my loved lord can any scorn be yours
In which I have no interest? My life's dearest,
Forgive me I have stayed too long for tendering
Attendance on reproach yet bid me welcome ...
War. Report and thy deserts, thou best of creatures,
Might to eternity have stood a pattern
For every virtuous wife. . .
Cath. Be what these people term thee, I am certain
Thou art my husband, no divorce in Heaven
Has been sued out between us ...
Or we will love or let us die together.

The south porch is very original and attractive with its high graceful pinnacles at the sides and centre. Close by a sort of rockery has been made of an ancient font, in the bowl of which a shrub is growing. There is a built up Norman doorway on the north side.

On the west outer wall is an inscription, the first part of which seems worth reproducing.

Interr'd beneath this stone does lie
A Maid of pure simplicity,
Of comly Form, of manners mild,
In sense mature, in Love a child
The Softtness of the Female kind
Smil'd in her Looks, and Spake her mind.
O ever good and dute'ous Maid
Where is thy Art of pleasing fled?
Thy native Art, thy simple Skill,
Instructive now, delighting still!
Say, lovely SUSAN, gentle Maid!
Where are thy soft endearments fled?

The poet then degenerates into classicalities, with which you will very contentedly dispense.

A fine fourteenth century manor house stands near the churchyard, always in the style of Yarnton and Northmoor, but hardly perhaps their equal in beauty. It was originally the work of the first Sir John Golafre. The village is first heard of as Fifhide in 956 under King Edwy, being then granted to the great monastery at Abingdon, which eats up so many of us little places. It was Fyvehide in Domesday, that old record of sworn declarations made by juries in every hundred of the land. You must not fail to see the extremely well done signboard of the White Hart.

Hinton Waldris

Three miles west, and three hundred feet above the sea, lies Hinton Waldris, or Waldridge. You go thither by a level road with the great Berkshire Downs on your left, along whose crest runs the ancient British Ickleton Street. The lower road, however, is cooler in August, shaded with elms and bordered with wide tracts of sun-browned corn. What chiefly strikes you about Hinton, when you see it and know its recorded history, is its evident diminution from a much more important past. It must from its position always have commanded the ancient ford at Duxford, a mile beneath in the valley, to keep guard upon which no doubt the fortified mound whereon the manor house is now partly built was heaped together. This manor house stands within a moat, more than half of which is still in existence, partly filled with water. Between here and Cherbury Danish camp, too, a triple oval vallum about a couple of miles due south near Pusey Lodge farm, stands another little height called Windmill Hill. You may read an interesting note in Cox's Magna Britannia on the subject: how that in Hinton were "to be seen the walls of another Castle, now almost demolished. Almost in the middle, between these two Castles, stands a round hill, called Windmill Hill, formerly supposed to be a Watch Tower, whereon a Centinel stood to give the signal to the Garrison of Cherbury Castle, to prevent a surprise from that of Hinton. " There are other old earth fortifications, witnessing to the ancient strategic importance of the spot, mentioned in the Victoria History: "a small and little known rectangular camp, consisting of a fosse and internal valium, in a wood on low ground between the village and the Oxford-Faringdon road; and to the west of the village street traces of entrenchments. "

And there was some amount of commercial and civil consideration attached to the place. The Walerys held the manor; and from their name springs the second word in the title. In 1217 they exerted themselves to procure the establishment of a market under favour of Henry III which Lysons records has "from time immemorial" been disused. Whether the farmers grew to prefer Abingdon eastwards, or perhaps Faringdon westwards, I know not or whether the privilege was for some reason withdrawn, But I do know that the little village has always given me a heavy feeling of dulness and depression; though truly the weather has never failed to be overcast and wet when I have been there. Coming in from the east a row of bleak new cottages is the first thing you see, hideous with slated roofs and new yellow brick. Further within the village you get a charming rectory, and the tree-surrounded manor house close by. But St. Margaret's church is dilapidated without; and within, when by chance you find the rector at home and only thus secure the key, you find it primly restored, and quite uninteresting save for three or four tiny patches of old coloured glass. It is of Early English workmanship, and displays some plate tracery.

The rectory is surrounded with a quite lovely garden, from which the rector pointed out Harrowdown Hill, a little eminence whose northern slope leans down to the Thames above New Bridge, and by which Cromwell or his officers fought some skirmish in the Parliamentary wars.

In all the village there is no inn; this, and the rain! ...

These Walerys had their name from the French seaport St. Valéry, near Dieppe, whence "Duke William set sail for his English Expedition. " Just before the establishment of the Hinton market Maude St. Valery had been imprisoned in 1210 by King John in Corfe Castle with her son William, and there starved to death by royal order. Giraldus Cambrensis says of her: "A prudent and chaste woman; a woman placed with propriety at the head of her house; equally attentive to the economical disposal of her property within doors, as to the augmentation of it without. " Did she meet her fate in company with those more than twenty knights,"most noble and valorous in arms," whom the same king slew within the selfsame walls?


Longworth church almost adjoins the east end of Hinton village, and its houses straggle eastwards along the edge of the height for some considerable distance. The lonely boatman, however carelessly he sing, will warmly approve the excellent shops; a rarity in these parts. The church is a varied patchwork of architecture from Early English downwards. There is said to be Norman work, but I could only trace it, if at all, possibly in the font in the southwest corner. There are some rough stone steps at the west end leading up to the tower, a high one of which was strewn with moth wings when I was there, the prey of the great spider that ran hatefully from amongst them. There is a very old looking rood screen, but no visible stairway. Two very clear and ancient brasses face each other on the floor level of the chancel. That on the north side commemorates "Elynor Goodolphyn, Gentlewoman, who departed out of this wretched worlde" in 1566. Ashmole adds: "to whome wee befeech thee bleffed Trinity grant a joyfull Refurrection," but I do not recollect if these words are still there. Opposite is the other to a former priest, John Henele, who died in 1422. Each is surmounted with a portrait, the latter displaying the monastic tonsure. There is a mutilated piscina; and in the south aisle is a quaint damaged tablet:

Stay, passenger, and if thou art not stone,
Weepe with Urania, whose nimph is gone:
A nimph whom thou would sweare had ben ye same
Divine Urania, -but for her name,
And yet her name her nature well exprest,
That in Gods temple built her careful nest
Thither to fly, that she ye easyer may
Her yong ons teach, herselfe, (loe) leades y waye

Dr. John Fell, Bishop of Oxford, was baptized in this church in 1625, his father being rector of the parish. And Sir Harry Martin, a signatory of King Charles's death warrant, resided at the manor. He died in Chepstow Castle in 1680, under the Restoration, while undergoing a sentence of perpetual imprisonment, 'having squandered his fortune, this profligate man," comments royalist Lysons; adding that "Sir Henry Martin in 1641 bequeathed £3,000, owed him by the king, for the purpose of founding almshouses for five poor people at Longworth. It is scarcely necessary to add that the foundation never took effect. " There is a very disagreeable remark about him in the Harleian Miscellany in a lampoon upon the Rump Parliament's proceedings.

A tiny sundial dated 1621 is fixed over the south porch. The tower is very low, and not massive; and from the churchyard, where you will best beware of some efficient wasps' nests in the ground, you may enjoy a magnificent open view over Oxfordshire. The whole village and atmosphere is Miss Hayden's; just the setting for one of her characters, the old woman, perhaps, who had the "strutty little hen. " "It med be a chile by the way she trates 'un-talks to 'un she do, by the hour togither, fur all the worruld a-sif 'twur a Chrish'n. 'Tell 'ee what, ' remarked the old woman, happening by chance to overhear these observations. 'she be a deal better Chrish'n nor many what calls theirselves sich. You niver years she a-janglin' and a-jarlin', sneerin' at other folkses like some as I could name. She bides a-twhum an' does her dooty in that state o' life in which it ha' pleased God to call she, as the catanchissm sez. You niver sees she a-gossipin' at the carner, an' lettin out the fire as did ought to be cookin' her 'usban's dinner! "

Both Hinton and Longworth can be quite easily reached from the River by a charming little walk up on to the Ridge from Shifford lock, through the tiny hamlet of Duxford, The road is refreshingly bordered with greensward and overarching elms.


Standlake, properly Stanlake, a mile and a half into Oxfordshire from New Bridge, is a village where the strife of sects was idyllically hushed during the long thirty years' rectorship of the gentle and kindly Mr. Tuckwell. I witnessed his cordial relations with all his people when he led me round his old parish a few summers ago. The village has two or three wide and open streets, the main one fresh with turf and softened with the thatched roofs, of which one can never see enough. The Windrush sparkles through it, and there are, as at Longworth, several welcome shops. The graceful church of St. Giles lies at the extreme end of the village, invisible until you are close against it. It dates from about 1200. There is a built up Norman door in the north wall, and one or two windows of the same period,"restored "into lancets. For the rest it is of Early English and Decorated work, with a curious slender octagonal tower of about 1370, surmounted with a later small but well proportioned spire. It is a most exquisite little church, beautifully cared for, left open to the visitor, and a glory to those whose affection is lavished upon it; full of fine oak carving. notably an old cabinet in the southwest corner. A human touch, and an unusual one in English churches, is the large frame on the south wall containing memorial cards of deceased parishioners, "Church" and Nonconformist.

A curious old custom of the place was that the rector should every year read his Ascension Day Gospel over a barrel in a certain inn, It has not been observed for at least one hundred, possibly for two hundred, years. The inn was named The Checquers, and has long since been pulled down. The explanation probably is that it stood over the site of an old religious house called the Hermitage, whose altar stood on the spot where the Gospel had to be read. It appears to have stood "at the end of the towne next to Newbridge [perhaps close to the mill I being an old stone building and now," wrote Wood,"a common inn (called the Checquer) for travellers between Glocestershire and London. " The bridge having about 1462 fallen into decay, and much complaint arising thereupon from the neighbouring villages, the hermit Thomas Brigges (was he Thomas "of the bridge"? ) obtained a licence "to require the goodwill and favour of passengers "and of adjacent communities towards its repair; a very similar case to the hermit of Folly Bridge. Skelton seems to indicate that the actual consecrated building became the inn. He states that Lincoln College had property in the village, including a small but ancient stone building called the Hermitage; that it was subsequently used as a public-house; and that Dod, the tenant in Wood's time, paid the college three shillings and six-pence a year for it, under the style of the Hermitage at the Chequers inn. This is all that can now be told about it; only one old man among Mr. Tuckwell's parishioners remembered having seen the inn when he was a boy. Cox remarks with some acerbity, being a clergyman withal, that if mere use and wont were the only reason for continuing the custom at an inn "it would be more agreeable to the Parson's office to have it undone. "

Less than a mile from the church stands an old isolated moated residence known as Gaunt House, which has helped in the making of minor history. It has been associated sometimes with John of Gaunt, who died in 1399; the builder, however, was almost certainly one John Gaunt, whose brass, or that of his wife, was seen in the church by Anthony A Wood; perhaps somewhere about 1650. Orate pro anima Johanne Gaunt, nuper uxoris Johannis Gaunt, it read; quae obiit x die Martii A. D. MCCCCLXV. In the early part of the seventeenth century the house was purchased and largely rebuilt by Dr. Samuel Fell, Dean of Christ Church. During the war he garrisoned it for King Charles from 1643 to 1645, keeping a watch upon New Bridge the while. In June of the latter year Fairfax captured it for the Parliament after a two days' siege. Eight hundred men, horse, foot and artillery, had been sent against the lonely little house in the meadows, and on May 29th, beneath the pomp of the early summer, they began their bombardment. and continued it until June 1st, when the forces were set in array for taking it by storm. The governor, however, surrendered on terms of quarter with his garrison of fifty men. On the first summons he had returned a positive denial, adding, that he liked not "Windebank's law": Francis Windebank, who had just been shot under Oxford city wall by a royalist court-martiai for having too easily surrendered Bletchingham House to the Parliament. Dr. Fell, ardent royalist that he was, is said to have died of shock at Sunningwell vicarage, whither he had retired, on receiving the news of the death of the king.
After such a battering it was again necessarily repaired and partly rebuilt by its next owner, Dr. John Fell, son of Dr. Samuel, who also was Dean of Christ-church, and later, from 1676 to 1686, Bishop of Oxford. He was the subject of the well known lines, written by a pupil of his named Tom Brown, who had chosen to quarrel with him:

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
The reason why I cannot tell
But this alone I know full well
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

It is rather unfortunate that he is popularly remembered almost solely through this libel, for he seems to have been a man of fine and exemplary character. Among other works attributed to him are the erection of the Tom tower and the staircase in Christ Church.

In spite of all this rebuilding, however, some of the original fifteenth century walls are still distinguishable. When I saw it in 1907 the owner had quite recently removed all the relics of the siege, which seems regrettable from the public point of view; and all that was to be seen was a cannon ball half sunk in the ground to keep an outer door open. The kitchen, however, has a grand old open fireplace bearing the date 1669, that of the second reconstruction, probably; and a huge and noteworthy ancient bacon rack hangs from the ceiling in the same room. in the front door they shew you three loopholes made by its defenders during the fight; another door has a most quaint old wooden bolt; and a lion rampant still keeps guard over the front porch. The moat is wide and deep, fed with running water from the Windrush, and is full of waterlilies and placid fish. The isolation of the spot is very remarkable and romantic; it lies quite out of sight both from the village and the River.

Extensive traces of a British settlement were unearthed in 1857 in a field half a mile north of the church; a model of which was deposited in the Ashmolean. There is nothing now to be seen except in spring, when the growing corn displays a deeper green over the excavated part of the soil. The post office cottage possesses a photograph of the model. The only articles found were implements of conglomerate gravel, pieces of flint for knives, and fragments of rough earthen vessels. There were also some skeletons laid bare, one of which measured six feet seven inches in height. No metal of any sort was discovered, though carefully searched for.

A charming latticed rectory covered with a climbing plant stands across the road from the church, and the little Windrush runs down between them towards the Thames, a sparkling, musical boundary to the beautiful rectory grounds. From the west end of the churchyard a pleasant field path leads into the road back to New Bridge. The surrounding country is very flat, and when flooded, as often happens, presents the appearance of a vast lake, whence a hasty philologist might easily derive the name of the village. But the "d" is an interloper; the true ancestry is a British compound meaning "place of stones. " Mr. Tuckwell, in conducting me round, deplored the change from the older wildness of the neighbourhood, when all between the village and the River was unenclosed moorland, intersected with little water courses and full of wild birds and the scent of flowers. How eloquent he was about the peaceful spectacle of the cattle winding slowly up to be milked in the cool of the old summer evenings he remembered so well, and the voices of the maids

'Cusha! Cusha Cusha! ' calling,
'For the dews will soone be falling
Leave your meadow grasses mellow,
Mellow, mellow;
Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow;
Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Lightfoot;
Quit the stalks of parsley hollow,
Hollow, hollow;
Come uppe Jetty, rise and follow,
From the clovers lift your head
Come uppe Whitefoot, come uppe Lightfoot
Come uppe Jetty, rise and follow,
Jetty, to the milking shed. '

Standlake seems at one time to have possessed more churches than Wallingford; seventeen of them; though several affiliated hamlets were very probably included in both cases. I have seen somewhere a conjecture expressed that the Thames in prehistoric times flowed in a fairly direct line from here to Abingdon, a distance of only six miles in place of the twenty-four round by Oxford.


If you continue straight along the road from New Bridge instead of turning east into Standlake you will pass through the hamlet of Brighthampton, and will perhaps be amused by hearing how each of these places speaks of the other as an inconsiderable accident in its own existence: "the other end of Standlake," they assure you,"is called Brighthampton"; and the converse. There is a singular low red brick building at the turn, like a half finished asylum or block of cheap flats; the never completed work, they say, of the owner and a single bricklayer. What it is meant for no-one seems to know. Further along are some beautiful little houses and quite through the village are two curiously named trees: the "round tree, where the hounds meet," and the "smock farden" tree, of which strange title I could get no local explanation. I think it would now be written smoke farthing, and refers to an annual chimney tax due from every householder as an acknowledgement that his dwelling belonged to the manor. At Wool, in Dorsetshire, it was collected by the constable, who had to bring twenty pence into the lord's court, made up by himself if necessary. By some it is, I think wrongly, identified with peter pence,"sometyme due to the Anthecriste of Roome. " Minchinhampton, and Leverton in Lincolnshire, had a similar custom; which no doubt was once general. All along the village street loose gritty roads give off to left and right, straight as suburban terraces, made no doubt when the commons were enclosed. Pretty it was to see the nutbrown children running out to the ice cream cart that came in from Oxford behind a staid and piebald pony. Along he trotted, halting at the well known calls; and on ahead you could see little eager faces on the watch, popping indoors for their ha'pennies as the son of Rome approached. I saw this same cart in several places further west; it is evidently an enterprise of sorts.

Shifford Shifford in WTSWG

Shifford map
Map of thames at Shifford

For worship Brighthampton ignores Standlake and travels southwest to Shifford. A short way out thither a little white bridge crosses the same tiny brook I once saw beneath wan February sunlight flickering out of a misty hollow in Yelford. Thereafter a sharp turn south brings you into Shifford: Old Shifford as they love to have it. One must needs think, except for the Fens, that this is the flattest country in England; and yet just across the River is Harrowdown Hill; southwest the Clump rises high, and in the north I could see the familiar gradual lift of the and towards Yelford and Witney. These level distances hold for me far more mystery than the hills. From a height you may observe far and wide; discern by a slight change of position all that passes around and beneath. But on the levels you perceive so little ahead; a low hedge or a field of wheat conceals more than ten miles upon a height.

Shifford church looks as isolated from the landward approach as it does from the River. "Alfred's stone" stands now upon the south wall of the churchyard. Pathetic, bare little place; round which, set alone in the meadows, the rude North blustered the grey August day I last entered it. Even in this new building I remarked many ominous cracks; and I wondered whence the insecurity arose; whether from floods or the general shiftiness of the soil. A little later I will tell you more about it.

You may return to New Bridge if you wish through a large farm and across Standlake Common; and will notice the elevated footpaths; that lead, you will also notice, round, and not across, the fields. The motive in each case is obvious; the spectacle unusual.

Chapter VII
above Newbridge, Shifford

I have known men row, and use very hard labour, for diversion,
which, if they had been tied to,
they would have thought themselves very unhappy.

THE River as you ascend above New Bridge becomes suddenly narrow and winding, and is sometimes badly choked with weed.
I remember in the summer of 1906, when the Conservancy had been more than usually busy, that it was as difficult to force my craft through the floating clots of severed growth just here, as I imagine it must be through the famous Nile sudd.
You may have noticed, indeed, how considerably deeper and broader the Thames is immediately below the junction of the Windrush.
Undoubtedly the inflow of the little stream is a large cause of the remarkable difference; but I think also that the River bed must have received much more preparation for traffic below than above.
Just a mile higher is the site of an old weir, perhaps Limbre's or Daniel's, described by Fearnside as having been dangerous for small boats.
The stones are still visible on the left bank where the water widens to the pool.
The Great Brook, which leaves the River up at Rushey, rejoins about here by two inlets.
A mile and a half further Shifford church, of which I have just written, dedicated to Eunice, the mother of Timothy, stands on a little rising ground across on the left bank, as isolated as some great lonely east coast church.
As a place name Shifford is very ancient indeed.
An old chronicle poem, the Reliquae Antiqua, relates, in Dr. Giles's literal translation, how -

At Shifford sat thanes many,
Many bishops, and many book-learned,
Earls wise and knights awful.
There was earl Alfric, of the law so wise,
And eke Alfred, England's herd, England's darling;
In England he was king; them he began learn,
So him they might hear, how they their life should lead.

A characteristic word of laconic old Fuller about Alfred I cannot forbear: "He loved Religion more than Superstition, favoured learned men more than lasie Monks; which (perchance) was the cause that his memory is not loaden with Miracles, and he not Solemnly Sainted with other Saxon Kings who far less deserved it. " This Witenagemot was held in 885; possibly on a spot called Court Close, near the church; and "Alfred's stone" is supposed to be a relic of it. It has been claimed that Great Shefford in Berkshire was the place of meeting, but the burnt Cottonian MS. is said to have been clear for Oxfordshire.

Plot says that this was the "first Parliament held in the County, and doubtless in England. " The present church building dates only from 1863, and is Early English in style, with a small belfry tower. It stands upon the site of two earlier churches which had successively fallen within a period of one hundred years. Skelton says: "the greater part of the solitary old church, very ancient, fell in 1772. " There is a drawing of it in Giles's Bampton. Its successor, the second church, appears to have been completed in 1780.

Within the third and present building there is a far-reaching mural inscription, surviving, you will notice, from the original church:

Here under lyeth interred ye body of Mrs Susan Blithe
ye wife of Mr Adam Blithe Rector of Ogborne St. George, Wilts:
Her father Mr Andreas Sonibanke was an High german
Neere alyed to the Duke of Brunswick
her mother was of the antient familie of the Bradfords of Ludlow in Shropshire
this Gentle woman in her life time
made the folowinge Epitaph to be sett upon her Tombe
Christ birth life Death
And dolefull payne
In life and Death
To mee is Gaine
She departed this life Novemb: the 9th 1645
Aged 75 yeeres
and left issue onely one Daughter

The grassland between the church and the River is said to have been the burial ground.
I have walked across these meadows; they are certainly full of mounds and small irregularities.
Perhaps you will manage to get across the rhene into the church enclosure; I did not.
There was formerly a fine manor house in Shifford, pulled down, apparently, somewhere about 1825.
"These are the landmarks at Shifford", says a charter of 1005:
"first from the Thames to Chimney-lake: from the lake to the way: along the way to Cynlaf's stone: from the stone along the way to Kentwine's tree: from the tree along the way to the lake; along the lake again to Sumerford: and two weirs, one above the lake, the other beneath";
respectively, perhaps, Shifford upper weir, and the disused one above New Bridge, Daniel's as I conjecture.
Lake here means a brook; across in Wiltshire you will be directed to go along till you come to the "lake"; often a mere thread of running water, crossed, as Mr. Bradley says, perhaps by just a plank.
What is this recurring proper name Sumerford?
You get it in the Cassington-Cumner history, and again at Somerford Keynes.
Perhaps it means no more than a summer ford, and so would frequently appear though the derivation may be too natural and obvious to be scientific.


Chimney, or Chimley, a hamlet just west of Shifford, has but three houses, those of the farmer and his cowman and carter; four, however, if you make the usual inclusion of Shifford lockhouse.

[Fred, in his Additions and Corrections, adds: Chimney once had a chapel; taken down, says Skelton, in 1758. ]

Just below Shifford lock, on the left bank, there once stood and possibly still stands a heap of gravel upon which was one night enacted a scene at which one scarcely knows whether to shudder or to laugh. My friends lay in their canoe under the opposite bank across the narrow stream, desiring to sleep. But from eleven o'clock until one, beneath a brilliant moon, a herd of cows played Jack-in-the-castle up and down the mound, each in turn ascending and being hustled down by her companions, the whole herd meanwhile keeping up a most hideous bellowing. The spectacle must have been full of a sort of shuddering absurdity; some holiday prank of celestial, deathless, turreted Cybele.

Chapter VII - Duxford and Buckland

Shifford Lock Shifford Lock in WTSWG

Duxford, called Dudochesforde in Domesday, lies up the backwater at Shifford lock; and this same lock can present a picture of the bleakest misery in the cold rain and blustering wind of an unseasonable August. The Southwest always seems to rage down between the tall reeds that line the narrow course, as though the wind had a perpetual appointment here with the devil, as a 'bus driver once said to me about the south side of St. Paul's Churchyard. What a long chase I once had after an absurd panama, elusive, half-sunken, my craft almost unmanageable under the rioting gale. The backwater is a pretty, winding channel, 'much too thickly grown with reeds and waterlilies for anything but a light canoe to navigate. You may walk, however, by the old towpath along to the hamlet, and will be delighted with the wonderful profusion of the lilies. Their whiteness contrasted almost fiercely with the black water darkened by the thunder wrack that stalked the heavens one heavy August day I was there. In less than a mile you reach small quiet Duxford, where there was once a ferry over the backwater, formerly the main stream. But the craft, an aged woman told me, was swept away in the night during a great snowstorm years ago, and now you must walk to the lock to cross, unless you wade over. Before the lock cut was made you often had to take off shoes and stockings and shove over Duxford shallows.

Somewhere along the old navigation here, between the lock and the upper weir, was Samson's ford; and possibly Limbre's or Limbress was the original name of the upper weir. This ford may have been the one still traceable just before you reach the first houses as you walk up the towpath. Taunt seems to mark a second vanished weir, perhaps at the wide pool just below them. It is very difficult now to fix these old weir names to their true localities; they were names of keepers, I imagine; long since disappeared and their weirs with them. Here is a little map which may help you.

Cromwell crossed here on Monday, May 14th, 1649, in pursuit of the Levellers, whom he chased to Burford. They had tried to cross the Thames at New Bridge to escape into Oxfordshire, but found it too strongly held. They succeeded, however, at Duxford, and got to Burford,"very weary. " One of these fugitives, Miles Sindercomb_, was condemned with some of his associates to be shot when Cromwell captured them at Burford. He, however, managed to escape in the night, and lived to become the almost successful assassin of his captor on the night of January 8th, 1657.

[Fred, in his Additions and Corrections, corrects the spelling of the name and the month of the attempted assasination and adds: Carlyle devotes much space to the affair, and to the life story of this "earnest, fierce young fellow. "]

A quite old inhabitant, the same I think who told me of the destruction of the ferry, remembered nothing of the ruins of an ancient manor house I had heard of at Duxford. The mother church of the village is at Hinton Waldris, southward on the height.


If you elect you may visit Buckland from here in about two miles. Beyond a farm the little lane changes to a green ride, recalling the track from Eynsham to Bablock Hithe, or the one behind Clanfield church by which you go to Langford. It soon dwindles to a mere footpath, which led me to a large pond. Here I judged myself lost, but continued as nearly southwards as I could across a little moor and by another pond uphill to a stone lodge, and learned I was at Hinton, nearly three miles from my desire. Laugh when you yourself have threaded the maze. Thence I walked sadly by a little lane into the turnpike that leads by Buckland, choosing rather to suffer the affliction of an extra mile than to enjoy the pleasures of another short cut they spoke of, sardonically, at the lodge. It is a magnificent road, this turnpike, exhilarating to tramp; and as you reach the milestone that scans so cheerily:

Abingdon ten
Faringdon four
London sixty six

you get on the right hand a view of little Buckland, grey and russet like Wytham far away. It is a beautiful little place, as I say elsewhere, full of delightful stone houses and thatch. There is a lovely old stone tiled covering to a well, and a very pigstye that charms the eye. And after I had obtained my letters and drunk at the Lamb, and looked again over the church and noted those matters which at another time (of which I will tell you) had been veiled from me by the presence of an old fellow who had a missis, I turned north over the crest of the hill, whence you get so magnificent a sweep of River country, down into the valley to try and find from the Buckland end that elusive track into Duxford: "a triumph," as Dr. Johnson said of a second marriage,"of hope over experience. " I found a road, truly; but it led over Ten Footbridge and by the towpath to Shifford lock. And the path I had lost I never discovered; they had already consoled me in Buckland with the opinion that it had been closed.

Thames displays some exquisite willowed reaches above Shifford lock. Emerson has a pleasant little note on these "vivacious trees; so ancient, for they are almost the oldest of all. Among fossil remains, the willow appears with the ferns. They bend all day to every wind, out of shame for their unfruitfulness, says the Persian poet, every passenger may strike off a twig with his cane; every boy cuts them for a whistle; the cow, the rabbit, the insect, bite the sweet and tender bark; yet, in spite of accident and enemy, their gentle persistency lives when the oak is shattered by storm, and grows in the night and snow and cold.

Chapter VII

Tenfoot Bridge Tenfoot Bridge in WTSWG

At about twenty miles from Oxford stands the footbridge I have just mentioned, whose name Ten used mildly to puzzle me.
It is certainly more than ten feet both in height and in width, so I imagined that Ten must be a proper name, and not a numeral.
Later I found it called Thames Footbridge; of which Ten is evidently a corruption; and this seems to satisfy me.

You may get hence, as you have just read, in about a mile and a half by an easy path to Buckland, whose church gleams grey against the dark foliage on the Berkshire height.

Tadpole Bridge; The Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge in WTSWG; Tadpole Bridge

Two miles beyond Ten Footbridge is Tadpole Bridge, twenty-two miles from Oxford and half way thence to Cricklade, just as New Bridge is about half way to Lechlade.
There is a homely little inn here, the Trout.
I can recommend the cider they sell you, and my friends have praised the ale ("who blameth this ale?"); but I shall never call for claret cup again, however tired I may be of the local brews - not at Tadpole Bridge!

Kent's weir once stood across the River about a hundred yards below; formerly called also Tadpole weir, and possibly Rudge's.
Its foundations and the pool are still clear to see.

This spot was perhaps the northern end of one of those British tracks, of which seven in all are noted, which joined the fords of Thames with those of Kennet, a distance diminishing from twenty to fifteen miles as you go west.
This one ran perhaps by Stanford, Hackpen and Bockhampton to Membury, nearly three miles north of the Kennet, where there was a British castle, and whence it may have proceeded to Ramsbury.
Another, more westerly, went through Faringdon down to Membury also.
The two others above Oxford were: one from Duxford by Cherbury southward to Letcombe Castle, where it divided; one branch going due south to Kintbury and the other to Hungerford about three miles west; the second through Bessilsleigh, Frilford and Wantage also to Hungerford.
The last is the only one upon which a great continuous modern road seems to have been constructed; and the prehistoric existence of all is established along the coincident British place names, barrows, and fortifications.
You may read much about them in Lieut. Cooper King's History of Berkshire; it is a subject of most vivid interest.
My only criticism is: were the crossings over the Thames always fords?
At Radcot for example, the port of Faringdon, the Thames is not fordable: at Tadpole old weir it is shallow enough; Duxford we know had a ford from time immemorial; but any crossing near Bessilsleigh again, must, I think, have been through deep water.
Had the old British, as I think Mr. Belloc hints somewhere, more bridges than we are usually willing to allow them?

The hamlet of Tadpole consists of but two or three houses, half a mile into Berkshire.
No-one would tell me the origin of this curious name.

[Fred, in his Additions and Corrections, adds: Tadpole is perhaps Toadpool. ]

Rushey Lock Rushey Lock in WTSWG

Photograph lent by Mr. Tom Weal.

Within sight from the crown of the [Tadpole] bridge lies well loved Rushey lock, where Tom Weal serves the Conservancy: "it takes him in the knees," says he.
Big slow Tom is a character I remember with affection.
Many a talk I have had with him on his white-railed lock in the cool of the evening, watching Bampton spire piercing the lemon clearness above the trees; while Buckland woods darkened into ever deeper purple.
The extortions of some of the River inns, his son's trophies and adventures in South Africa, local drownings, his eeltraps, the winter floods, the former crazy lockhouse and weir, his own little commerce in rushes and produce: on these he will talk by the hour with many a bit of humour his impeded speech does nothing to diminish.
He was born at Perivale; and when the Brent flooded the churchyard and washed away the earth he used with other boys to p-p-poke the coffins with a stick and get the b-b-bones out!
He is only "the b-b-boy" to his capable wife and pretty daughter, who are usually busy in the summer with holiday visitors.

My boat lies cosily in a tiny bay in his weir stream beneath the willows; and it has always been with real regret and many a backward look that I have let her float downstream, around the bend and out of sight of this little haven of remoter Thames.
The lock is thickly embowered in trees, one a dainty symmetrical little chestnut; and its white fences, and old barn usually decorated with the head of a pike, cling closely in the memory.


You will get thence an enchanting two mile walk over to Buckland, Bocheland in Domesday, by meadows, a shady hillside copse, and a lane through lordly park-lands at the end. And what an exquisite little spot it is to arrive at! Buckland House lies upon the left, just before you reach the first cottages; and immediately after stands the modern Roman Catholic church, Early English in style, the old Romanist family of Throckmorton, friends of Cowper, having its seat here. What lovely, soul stealing melody floated out upon the cool evening air as once I passed? Close at hand is the beautiful English church, dating onward from the Norman builders. An old villager took me over: "Oh, yes! I know where Lunnon is," he chuckled. Nothing he'd like so well as to go to "Lunnon" that very minute! "But I've got a missis," he explained.

The piscina is remarkable for a fine miniature high relief carving of the Shepherds at Bethlehem gazing upon the Infant Christ. It is rather beautifully done, cracked across at some old date and joined again; but the Babe lies most curiously, like a fly upon a wall; and is too tiny compared with the Shepherds. Opposite, in the locked aumbry,"there's a man's heart," said the old fellow,"put there by will, with writings to shew whose it is": the heart of William Holcott, a lay preacher who recanted to escape persecution in the reign of Mary. "All doost by now, I reckun," said he. This Holcott, in making various bequests to Queen's College, Oxford, desired to be buried in the south aisle here; "but if I die far away, then my heart only to be brought thither and buried at Buckland. " He left sixpence weekly to the "bible clerk or some other poor scholar" in two colleges; "they two therefore to say daily at the master's table 'Let us give thanks to the Lorde our God for William Holcott; it is meet and right so to do. '"

It is a pleasure to see the good organ here. The north transept belongs to the Throckmortons. "Now that there's a mystery to me," said my guide. It appears to be the family burying place, Sir William Throckmorton being the patron of the living. The south transept is resplendent with mosaic and stained glass and most exquisitely carved woodwork; glorious and wonderful to behold. An old slab is fixed to the wall behind the pews, commemorating the Holcott family and others. A Robert I noticed, of 1521; and a John of 1558. Possibly the William of the withered heart succeeds, but I could not be sure; the pew back covers the lower part. Is it not perhaps evident that he died, after all,"far away"? The nave windows are deeply splayed Norman; and the door heads on both sides are of the same period. In the vestry is a very old polished record chest of steel.

Behind the altar screen are a knight's helmet, and a curious old broadside of 1787, of "Laws for the better Ordering of Society"; very rich. A day labourer or common soldier or seaman might profanely curse or swear for a shilling, loftier folk up to the degree of a gentleman for two shillings, and all in higher walks of society were mulcted in five shillings; in default the house of correction for ten days.

In each jamb of the massive old door on the south of the nave is a hole in the wall as though for a crossbeam; and the newer door opposite is fitted in the same way. In the north transept is a huge black upright slab with brasses of 1578 to John and Marye Yate; and beneath them little portrait brasses of their five sons and seven daughters. It is curious to see the blanks left for the date of Marye's demise, and never filled in: "deceassed the of 15. " Perhaps she eluded John her husband, as Lady Katherine did Sir Matthew.

Thomas, son of the poet Chaucer, once held here.

Beyond the north wall of the churchyard stand the Throckmorton stables and laundry, in older times the family mansion. A curious record was established in the village in the year 1811. Two sheep were shorn, the wool made into cloth, dyed, and the cloth fashioned into clothes and worn by Sir John Throckmorton thirteen hours and twenty minutes after the clipping was begun.

No beauty of landscape can be imagined of softer, gentler loveliness than the view over Oxfordshire as you emerge from the copse at the top of the meadows going back to Rushey in the unbroken peace of a summer evening. Once for me a heavy shower had just swept across the heavens; and as I lingered a sunset glory of gold and purple and green filled the rainwashed atmosphere. And I thought how far sweeter it was thoroughly to know and love one delicious English countryside than to wander confusedly over all the barren seas and mountains of the world.

Erret. et extremos alter scrutetur Iberos;
Plus habet hic vitae, pius habet ilie viae.


By another and more westerly path I have passed from Rushey through cornfields and lanes and the good "hard road" by the famous Clump, the Folly as they call it, down into Faringdon, Ferendone in Domesday, the same little town that Leland cast his antiquarian glance over four hundred years ago: "standing in a stony Ground in the Decline of an Hille. Sum caulle this toune Cheping-Farington; but there is other none or very smaul Market now at it. " The Clump is an uncommon looking group of pines; not compact like Sinodun and Chanctonbury, but loose and ragged, and appearing from the eastward distances like a giant ant-eater ranging the hills. From one edge of it you may view the upland majesty of Berkshire, and from the other the rich level beauty of Oxfordshire; and it is hard to say which arouses the deeper emotion.

Looking southward one cannot forget James Payn, and that passage in Gleams of Memory about his birth and boyhood under those swelling downs: "a marvellous expanse of springy turf, blown over by the most delicious airs. What took my boyish fancy most were the crosses cut on the turf where waggoners had been run over, or more frequently travellers 'smoored' in the snow. " And the hoop hunting! "All that was requisite was a high wind. We took our hoops to the top of the first hill and started them; then after a minute's law we followed, but never caught them save by misadventure. Their speed was incredible; down one hill and up another; surmounting hidden roads with deer-like leaps. I have known a hoop run five miles, and only stop because it reached the limit of the downs. " They were brewery hoops; and whenever the scent of a brewery wafted across him "I was for half a minute a boy again, capless, careless, with my foot on the turf and the wild west wind in my hair. " Not the least valiant son of Berkshire, he!

It is strange to see the grass growing thick under the pines of the Clump, but truly these are somewhat scattered, and stripped by the Southwest of even the tiniest twigs for fifty feet up, so that the herbage gets its chance. in the centre is a little group of beeches and around the whole a sandy promenade. Hence you may look down upon Faringdon and see what a fine emplacement the hill afforded for the cannon that destroyed the church steeple and south transept in bombarding the royalist mansion in a line just beyond. They say with much likelihood that a primaeval camp of war once stood here upon the hill.

I have seen Faringdon called, by some motorist or scorching cyclist,"a sleepy little place that only seems to waken into life on a market day"; the centre of the excitement being, I imagine, the triangular market-place with the queer old town hail at its apex. They sell you rare good cider at the Bell, which overlooks it; indeed

I often wonder what the vintners buy
One half so precious as the stuff they sell.

It was the waiter at the Bell, be it remembered, who in The Scouring of the White Horse won the great cheese race, and the prize for jumping in sacks. The market charter was obtained for the town by Beaulieu Abbey in 1218.

And talking about inns, I found in the British Museum a most engaging little duodecimo published in 1636 by John Taylor, containing amongst other matters a list of taverns in several of the home counties. He notices "at Farinton two," kept by "Simon Turner, and Margaret Handy. " Was this John Taylor the water poet? What a picturesque old liar he was! In his Last Voyage, published in 1641, he boasts of some fantastic feats of rowing performed upon the Thames and other chief rivers. Speaking of Cricklade and Cirencester he says: "It is easier to row sixtie miles by water on the River of Thames, then it is to passe betweene those two townes, for there are so many milles, fords and shallowes with stops, and other impediments that a whole daies hard labour" of himself and three others could barely manage it. I should imagine not I Or did he go up the Churn, not the Thames? For he proceeds to boast of having reached within a mile of Cirencester, where no Thames water ever ran.

Faringdon Church

All Saints church here also dates back to the Norman. See the north outer doorway, which must have been very handsome when still undefaced by gnawing Time. What would the Saxon have made of things, without the ascetic, psalm singing Norman; those "little, bullet headed men, vivacious, and splendidly brave," as Hilaire Belloc describes them? "We know," he says,"that they awoke all Europe; that they first provided settled financial systems and settled governments of land; and that everywhere, from the Grampians to Mesopotamia, they were like steel when other Christians were like wood or like lead. "

In the chancel are some very ancient brasses of the fifteenth century, similar to those at Longworth. The four sets of attached clustered columns forming the tower piers are most arresting for a beautiful grandeur. And surely not many churches possess more varied and tasteful specimens of the stiff-stalk foliage. There is lovely modern painted glass in the east wall of the south transept, and some fine old wrought ironwork on the south porch door. Beautifully executed, but false in taste and reason, is the tomb to Henry Purefoy. Ably as they are carved, what should these naked, healthy, potbellied infants know of death that they should weep for it? Sir Henry Unton's memorial is on the east wall of the Unton chapel, set up by his widow in 1606; he who twice went ambassador of Queen Elizabeth to the King of France and sent that truculent challenge to the Duke of Guise, upon some real or fancied affront to his royal Mistress. You may read the complete account in Fuller's Worthies: "In the moneth of March, anno 1592, being sensible of some injury offered by the Duke of Gwise to the honour of the Queen of England, he sent him this ensuing challenge"; which, here and there abbreviated, runs:

"Forasmuch as lately, in the lodging of my Lord Du Mayne, and in publick elsewhere, impudently, indiscreetly, and over boldly, you spoke badly of my Soyeraign: I say you have wickedly lyed, in speaking so basely of my Sovereign: and you shall do nothing else but lie, whensoever you shall dare to taxe her honour. Moreover that her sacred person ought not to be evil-spoken of by the tongue of such a perfidious Traytor to her Law and Country as you are. And hereupon I do defy you, and challenge your person to mine, be it either on horseback or on foot, I being issued of as great a race and noble house as yourself. So I will maintain the Lie I gave you. If you consent not to meet me hereupon I will hold you, and cause you to be generally held, for the arrantest Coward and most slanderous slave that lives in all France. I expect your answer. "

The loveable historian could not find what answer was returned, though the challenge is said to have been repeated twice. Henry "Umpton," as Fuller calls him, caught the "purple fever" in the French camp before La Fere, and died in 1596, much lamented by the French king, at the early age of forty. Fine young fire-eater of the great race and noble house! He got his knighthood for valour at Zutphen, if it be any credit to him to have been at that terrible massacre, when "scarcely chastity or life remained throughout the miserable city. " There is a curious picture of him in the National Portrait Gallery, made for his widow, they say; in the centre a portrait of the ruddy, fiery gentleman himself, with full face, brown eyes, and small soft brown beard; surrounded with various scenes of his life and death; his birth at "Wadlie"; Faringdon church with its spire; his doings at Oxford,"Whichwod, Venis, Paddua," and the rest. It was rescued only in 1847 from an old house called Box Farm, in Chelsea; its maker was perhaps one Nicholas Hilliard, styled an imitator of Holbein. His widow remarried; a gentleman of Cambridgeshire, I think.

[Fred, in his Additions and Corrections, added: Leicestershire, not Cambridgeshire.

There is another side of Sir Henry Unton's life, and some curious old reading withal, displayed in that part of his will of 1591 which regards a bequest of some thirty-three acres of land then and still called the Sands, now intersected by the Sands Road leading to Little Coxwell, unalluring in a wet November. This charity was to be continued "during the term of two thousand years"; a characteristic touch of knightly rashness; and was to be for the general benefit of the "Port of Faringdon. " At an inquisition in 1635 it was found that the income had been employed in repairing causeways, in buying a hearse cloth for the church, and sometimes in conveying prisoners to gaol, in "setting out of soldiers, and buying and repairing armour for the use of the port. " By decree following it was ordained that the trustees should carry out the various provisions of the bequest; it being adjudged, for instance, as regards the matter of roads, that six shillings and eightpence would suffice annually for their repair,"the said port being of but a small circuit. " The amended objective of the funds seemed to many of the townsfolk much too narrow and restricted; and in 1638 it was further ordered that whereas divers inhabitants of poor and weak estates were seriously overtaxed in various ways, among them "for the reparation of the port well and port sluices, for buckets and firehooks, and wages of marshals conveying of passengers and cripples," part of the income should be employed in easing their burdens. Other part was to "be lent out on good security to some young or hopeful tradesmen within the said port"; gratis, if the hopeful men were poor. In 1843 it was discovered among other things that the charity lands, instead of being over thirty-three acres, were actually ten less, through some unexplained shrinkage; and the annual income was about sixty pounds. The method of disposal was rearranged; and the charity is still in force and doing good, as the valiant gentleman desired; with but a little of the heroic "two thousand years" gone into the abyss.

I should like to help keep alive the memory of another curious little charity also; that of the Reverend William Lloyd, vicar of Faringdon, who by will in 1 629 bequeathed a sum of money for twelve pence worth of " masline bread" for the poor every Sunday,"while the world endured. " This charity, known as the pillar bread (perhaps because it was to be laid on the font), was lost to posterity for complex reasons about the year 1862.

Faringdon, like other inland towns, was called a port rather from porla than portus, the reference being more to its gates than to any idea of harbour; and so " within the port," or gate, came to include the whole town. The masline bread was made of wheat and rye; and was allowed by a statute of William IV to be sold as bread if marked with an M. ]

Behind the organ is a most curious gilt alabaster effigy of a kneeling woman in Elizabethan costume; the widow Dorothy herself; it formerly stood beneath Sir Henry's memorial. Here are several Pye monuments. And there are some stones without the church well worth notice. One near the southeast corner to a Richard Wells and his wife is remarkable for its beautiful Roman and Italic lettering, though the portly cherubs are hideous. Nor ought the mural tablet on the outer east wall to be forgotten, commemorating John Beckley, born in 1661. who died in 1731 steward to Henry Pye, Esquire: "Always preferring his Mafters Credit, and Intreft, to any private views or gain Of his Own. In Regard therefore to fuch just and Singular Behaviour and in perpetual Memory of fuch Honeft virtue the faid HENRY PYE hath Erected this Monument A. D. 1731. " Close adjoining is another tablet relating how Beckley, at the age of 59, had his right leg shot off by a cannon ball in a sea fight on the coast of Portugal; there is the very shot built into the wall over the inscription.

Opposite the church is the Salutation hotel; it is a curious consideration whether it may not have adopted its name from some adjacent Chapel of the Salutation of the Blessed Virgin, similar to the one commemorated at Coleshill. And somewhere in the churchyard, separate from the church itself, there formerly stood a chantry dedicated to the Holy Trinity, founded by one John Cheyney in 1478. It was "covered with lead"; whether the whole building, or only the roof, I am not aware.

This same Henry Pye, being then poet laureate, built the fine Faringdon House north of the church and otherwise lives in human memory only in Byron's line:

Better to err with Pope, than shine with Pye.

It succeeded an older mansion demolished in the seventeenth century and famous for its fifty-five days' siege in Charles's wars, of which I have just spoken. Sitting before the place the Puritan general sent his summons to the besieged to surrender:

To the Governor of the Garrison in Farringdon.

29th April, 1645.
I summon you to deliver into my hands the House wherein you are, and your Ammunition, with all things else there; together with your persons, to be disposed of as the Parliament shall appoint. Which if you refuse to do, you are to expect the utmost extremity of war. I rest, your servant,

Roger Burgess, however, the governor, was by no means overawed, and another and fiercer summons followed.

To the same; same date.

I understand by forty or fifty poor men whom you forced into your House, that you have many there whom you cannot arm, and who are not serviceable to you. If these men should perish by your means, it were great inhumanity surely. Honour and honesty require this, That though you be prodigal of your own lives, yet not to be so of theirs. If God give you into my hands, I will not spare a man of you, if you put me to a storm.

A fruitless attempt at storming ensued, after which Cromwell was compelled to retire; "leaving," says Carlyle," Burgess to crow over him"; a chance, surely, that few men ever had. Whitelocke says that in April, 1646, the king's forces burnt the greater part of the town, to prevent it affording shelter to the Parliamentary army.

Faringdon once contained a Saxon royal palace, where in 901 Alfred "laid down the pen and the sword"; and where his son Edward the Elder also died in 925. So I read; I think in Miss Hayden. But, alas! I have not found a single other authority who will say where Alfred died; though all mention his final burial at Winchester. As to Edward, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says" Fearndune in Mercia," and Faringdon was not certainly in Mercia. Pauli evades the question about Alfred's deathplace, and Hughes also; there seem to be no extant records whatever about the last four years of his life.

Like myself, Leland asked here for the "Castelle" erected in 1144 by Queen Maud's party, and soon afterwards destroyed by King Stephen with the aid of a "terrible and innumerable" army of Londoners. The Gesta Stephani reads how that" Philip, son of the Earl of Gloucester, the king's chief enemy, coming to the village which in the English tongue is called Ferendune, a delightful place, and abounding in fatness, erected a castle therein, with a rampart and other defences. Whereupon Stephen, his strength being vastly increased, marked out a camp around the castle at Ferendune, in order to raise the siege of the town. " And after a time the castle capitulated. It must have been of considerable strategical importance, covering the five or six roads that converge at Faringdon. But to Leland "they could telle naught of it"; nor could they me. King John in 1202, says Camden, or in 1203,"moved by divine infpiration granted the place wherein it was feated, with all its appurtenances, to the building of an Abbey for the Ciftercian Order. " Ashmole and his copyists say Stephen himself founded this abbey; but Stephen died in 1154. According to some ancient account books of the monastery Henry III, with his queen, Prince Edward, and the general Robert de Mortimer the queen's favourite, seems to have spent a night in the convent at the abbot's expense. The charges for the king were 100s. 6d. , for the queen 75s. , for the prince 50s. 6d. , and for de Mortimer only 4s. An entertaining anecdote.

Swine are bred far and wide in Berkshire; and the local strain is said to be one of the finest in existence.

Westward beyond the town stands Badbury Hill, four hundred and sixty-five feet high; and on the north side of the Highworth turnpike, within a few yards of it, is a circular camp of two hundred yards in diameter, with a ditch ten yards wide. Leland calls it "a great Diche, wher a Fortreffe, or rather a Camp of War, hath beene, as sum say, dikid by the Danes for a sure Campe. " It was nearly all levelled early in the nineteenth century, and very little is now to be seen. Badbury Hill has been said to be the Mount Badon of ancient British history. Years ago men continually found human bones in the peaty hollows southwards of it.

As at Cumner, so also in Faringdon they had a short way with frail women. Every tenant's daughter who strayed from virtue was compelled to forfeit forty pence, a considerable sum in early times, to the lord of the manor. This fine could be commuted by the girl's appearance in his court carrying a black sheep across her back and making confession: "Ecce porto pudorem posterioris mei" was the meticulous formula.

James Thorne was as severe upon the dulness of Faringdon as upon that of Cricklade. "But on the eighteenth of October it looks a little more cheerful. Gentle Rambler," says he,"did you ever see a hiring 'Statty'? If not, you cannot do better than visit one. It is really a very pretty sight to see the lads and maidens ranged along in their best dresses; the maids with a knot of ribbon in their waists, the lads with a piece of whipcord or some straw in their hats. "

Out of monuments, names, wordes, proverbs, traditions, private recordes, fragments of stones, passages of bookes, and the like, we doe save and recover somewhat from the deluge of time.


BY a labyrinthine track through meadows and cornfields you may reach Bampton in about two miles from little Rushey, its spire rather teasingly visible most of the way. Its old name of Bampton-in-the-Bush is its complete title still; and it must have deserved it well, if the present approach from the River and by the eastward roads be any test. It is only conjectured that any one of its present roads was constructed before the end of the eighteenth century, the townsfolk having previously made the best of their way by mere footpaths and cart tracks across the surrounding moors. There can be but little doubt that this immemorial absence of metalled roads to Bampton and its hamlets conduced very materially to preserve so long the archaic village life I will describe to you at Cote and Aston. Threading my way one morning from my boat to the town I was hailed by a countryman some way off, a strong, lame, black-bearded shepherd with a thick cudgel; and on approaching him he violently cursed me on account of some dog that had been chasing and worrying his sheep. It was some time before I could persuade him that I had no dog, and was quite innocent of any such offence. But there was a dog at the lock, a murderer of sleep, belonging to some campers; and it was this animal that had recently torn and terrified several sheep, and roused the shepherd's anger. These people it is, who let their dogs run wild, who break down fences for firewood, leave their camping places objectionable and untidy, disturb quiet villages with nightly rowdyism, pilfer orchards and gardens, and even milk the cows, who are the natural cause of the increasing number of notices against mooring and trespassing to be seen on the Thames. In passing riparian property good manners are surely as commendable as in the streets of a city; and what is inconsiderate and dishonest there is equally so upon the highway of the River.

Bampton girl
Photograph by the Reverend G.E.C.Rodwell, M.A.

The history of Bampton commences very far back indeed, in 614, when the Saxon princes Cynegils and Cwichelm, father and son I think, slew two thousand and forty six of the aboriginal "Welsh" near by, who had come raiding past Cirencester to an old settlement of theirs, perhaps, at Lew. Except for an ecclesiastical reference in 1046, mentioned below, I have discovered nothing further until the notice in Domesday, where "Bentune" is stated to be paying fifty shillings, perhaps worth a larger number of sovereigns now, for a market. Then comes the capture of Queen Maud's garrison by Stephen in 1142; and afterwards nothing very salient till Cromwell's small success three days before his rebuff at Faringdon. "My forlorn overtook the Royalists," he reported to the Committee of Both Kingdoms,"as they had gotten into enclosures not far from Bampton Bush. They killed some of my horses, mine killed and got some of them, but they recovered the town. " These old rambling streets heard the clatter and clank of them. "About eleven in the night I sent them a summons. They slighted it. In the night they strengthened themselves, and in the morning would not quit except upon honourable terms. The terms I offered were: to submit all to mercy. They refused with anger. After some time spent, all was yielded to mercy. "

A note of earlier history concerns the riots in 1398, when the general discontent against the government of Richard II was growing to a head. Bands of armed men met together in the streets of the little moor-girt town, chose captains and leaders, and on Palm Sunday paraded the whole countryside with fierce cries of: "Aryseth, aryseth all men and goth with us: whoso will not by God he shal be ded. " The sonorous old imperative seems to add an additional touch of terror to the wild, threatening cry; an echo of the remarkable Peasant Rising of seventeen years before.

[Fred, in his Additions and Corrections, added: "The ax was sharpe, the stokke was harde, In the XIII yere of kyng Richarde. " ]

Bampton, says Plot, once had a great commerce allied to the Witney trade in blankets: "Sheepskins," he wrote,"after dressed and stained, being here made into Wares, viz: Jackets, Breeches, Leather-linings, &c. , which they chiefly went into Berk-shire, Wiltshire, and Dorset -shire, no Town in England having a Trade like it in that sort of Ware. "

Here is a quaint old extract from the vestry books:

"Sep. 28, 1760: It is this day agreed, on account of the number of mad dogs lately appearing in this parish, and of the numbers that are suspected to have been bit, that every person that shall kill his dog and produce it dead before the overseer of the poor, shall receive of the said overseer for the same one shilling. "

And, as a prelude to what you may read a little later on about Brise Norton, learn here that the haunted house of the Wood family still stands on the north side of the churchyard, but so disfigured by modern improvements upon its ancient aspect that it remains unlet, Giles says, writing about 1850: "It is nearly two hundred years ago that the Wood family lived at Bampton, and yet the same ghosts, who disturbed their peace, have been suspected of having occasioned similar annoyance to respectable and credible persons still living. " The weeds grow long and rank in the front garden, and the spacious house has been newly fronted with large square windows; and looks like an ugly modern double fronted villa, with slated roof and neglected newness.

The poet John Philips, born here on the last day but one of 1676, was the son of one of the vicars of Bampton, the Reverend Stephen Philips, and is remembered as the author of that clever rollicking poem The Splendid Shilling.

Happy the man, who, void of cares and strife,
In silken or in leathern purse retains
A Splendid Shilling: he nor hears with pain
New oysters cried, nor sighs for cheerful ale,
But with his friends, when nightly mists arise,
To Juniper's Magpye, or Town-hall repairs.

The "Town-hall" is nothing municipal, merely another inn; both it and the Magpye were noted retreats in Oxford in 1700. Dr. Johnson, as you know, considered the poem Cider to be Philips's best work; "an imitation of Vergil's Georgics which need not shun the presence of the original"; harder reading, however, than the other poem. So it closes:

where'er the British spread
Triumphant banners, or their fame has reached
Diffusive, to the utmost bounds of this
Wide universe, Silurian Cider borne
Shall please all tastes, and triumph o'er the vine.

Philips's "sovereign pleasure in his schooldays," relates the Doctor,"was to sit, hour after hour, while his hair was being combed" by anybody whose services he could procure. And if the operator could reproduce in his movements the measure and lilt of verse his delight seems to have been a thousandfold enhanced. He died "of a slow consumption" on February 15th, 1708, at the age of thirty-two, and was buried in Hereford Cathedral; a monument being erected to his memory by Sir Simon Harcourt in Westminster Abbey also, on which they wrote him up: "Uni in hoc laudis genere Miltono secundus: primoq pene par"! He was a great smoker; it is said that into all his poems save Blenheim he has introduced some praise of tobacco.

Bampton Church

Bampton Church West Porch
WEST PORCH, Bampton Church.
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J.Bradon,
from a photograph lent by the Reverend G.E.C.Rodwell, M.A.

The crowning beauty of the little town is the lovely church and spire, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, perhaps anciently to St. Peter. The building was repaired and restored in 1870. The late Norman designers might still rejoice in their handsome south door and chancel arch; and very pleasing are the delicate cinquefoil inner frames to the windows, a touch of grace not uncommon in the Valley churches. The Decorated shews splendidly in the west porch, with its ornamented mouldings, and in the early west window. There are two very old brasses, of 1430 and 1500, both to priests; the former to Thomas Plymmyswode, and the other to Robert Holcott, possibly a relative of the Holcott whose heart is "all doost by now, I reckun," in Buckland chancel. And in the south transept is an epitaph too good to forget, set up over a recumbent effigy.

Heavne hathe my soule in happiest joye & blisse,
Earthe hathe my earthe whear bodie tombed is,
Poore have my store for ever to their use
Frendes have my name to keep without abuse
Heavn erthe pore frendes of me have all their parte
And this in lief was chefest joy of harte
Remember then whom heer ye see } Non hodie
And as I ame so thincke to be } quod heri

qui obiit 28 Novemb 1603

Dr. Plot quotes a record of 1046 when Leofric, the last bishop of Crediton and first of Exeter, and chaplain to Edward the Confessor, gave his "land at Bemtune" to his new cathedral. The church long continued intimately connected with that diocese, during which time the living was divided amongst three "portionist " vicars. It was worth about A140 (old value),"sometimes more," to each of them annually; but probably it was once commonly agreed among them that each in turn should take a whole year's emoluments. This peculiar triune arrangement held at least till 1847, if not later, but now no longer exists; though in Skelton's time, about 1823, the southern cathedral city still held the property. The Dean of Exeter had a summer residence at the Deanery, a lovely old house beyond the west wall of the churchyard; of the Elizabethan age, with subsequent additions.

An old sundial still silently records the hours, outside the south transept wall. And you will notice, in place of pinnacles, the thirteenth century statues of four of the apostles, or of four angels, one at each corner of the fine massive tower, facing the four half points of the compass; a quite unique embellishment in this countryside, I think. Perhaps they might have been more boldly fashioned. One, by the shape of the cross that covers him, may represent St. Andrew, if apostles they be. The Early English spire is surely the whole hallowed aspiration of the earth soaring heavenward in one aethereal figure of loveliness. Whether you behold it from the meadows by the River, or from the landward side as it pierces upwards through its embowering elms, it rises for ever a vision of nameless beauty; of beauty even to tears.

I remark upon the architecture of these little places with slender learning, yet always as "an expression of life," sublimer than its "expression of structural laws. " The profession is again insisting in these last days that there was no break between Romanesque and Gothic; that the distinction is meaningless; the change a natural evolution. Technically true; just as chemistry is alive to no difference between inert carbon and living diamond; and you may behold in the Temple Church intersecting round arches so used that the resulting pointed arch more strongly dominates the vision. "But to the plain man the difference is radical. You may puzzle him in regard to the hard and fast line, but full fledged Gothic when he gets to it, strenuous and eager, will appeal to him as an utterance of a different nature from the inert massiveness of the Romanesque column and arch. The difference is one which, in his eyes, has nothing to do with structural laws. He feels the two styles as the expression of opposite temperaments. The round arch, the mighty shaft, the ponderous passive vault of a Norman interior are an embodiment of calmness, of strength in repose. The elastic, sinewy ribs and giddy balanced canopies of Gothic vaulting are an embodiment of passionate energy or strength in action. " I will not obscure all this spiritual nature of architecture beneath any minute discussion of soffit and voussoir and truss; the passion of pomp or of tears resides in its manifestations for those who are dead to its science even as in music for men who never dissected the surging exultation or the twilight mood of any fugue of Bach.

On April 3rd, 1719, it was agreed with John Carter that, in consideration of clearing the church from sparrows and pigeons, he should receive from the churchwardens ten shillings at that present, and five shillings thereafter yearly, to be paid on Easter Tuesday. Provided that if subsequently there were just complaint of his neglect to destroy them, he should be content to receive nothing of this yearly stipend. An excellent principle!

The religious troubles that followed the Act of Uniformity left traces in the history of the remote little town. This English St. Bartholomew's Day led to the ejectment of nearly two thousand clergy from their livings; mostly Presbyterians, truly enough, who had been intruded into benefices under the Commonwealth. The figure significantly recalls the number of chantries dissolved at the Reformation; though the ejectments, indeed, are by some writers varied to a minimum of eight hundred. Calamy notes two at Bampton one of John Osborne, M. A. , of whom but little is told, and the other of Samuel Birch, M. A. , of St. Mary Hall and Corpus Christi; "a mighty promoter of the Restoration," and one of the three portionists. During the first part of the Civil War he held a commission in the Parliamentary army, but quitted it on finding what extremes were intended, and went to live at Oxford. "After I had not only utterly refused," says he,"all compliance with the wickedness of the army under Cromwell, opposing their most unrighteous and horrid practices about king and parliament, but had also given what assistance I could to the king when he came through Scotland, I was turned out of all ways of ordinary subsistence public or private. " Returning to Bampton he continued in his vicarage, in spite of opposition, until the Ejectment in 1662. Calamy prints his long appeal to Heaven in regard to his troubles. He retired to Shilton, a short distance northwest; and there is a touch of humour in his measuring the road between there and Bampton upon the proclamation of the Five Mile Act, and securely continuing his school and his preaching on discovering the distance to be three hundred yards to the good. He died in 1678 or 1679, declaring to his daughter upon his deathbed: "I bless God I took the parliament's part; I bless God I opposed Oliver Cromwell; I bless God with all my soul I did not conform. " "Thankfulness! thankfulness! " are his last recorded words; and after his death his grandson was told by one who had known him that he was "the best Christian, the best scholar, and the most gentleman-like master," the speaker ever knew.

Bampton School

A delightful little building is the Jacobean grammar school of 1635, at the corner of the lane that almost borders the south wall of the churchyard. The north gable is bright in the memory. The school has a deserted look about it; and yet I once saw books and a little cheap clock through the latticed windows. And I learned that after the scholars had dwindled down to two it was closed, so far as its original purpose was concerned, somewhere about 1880, and continued to be used only for evening classes and mothers' meetings. "It's' arnted," a little maiden declared, It was founded by Robert Veysey (or Voysey) of Chimney, who died in 1699 and was buried at Shifford, as a free grammar school, for the instruction of scholars in the Greek and Latin languages. He gave £300 towards its erection, and with others endowed it with three fields in Bampton parish which about 1818 were worth £50 l0s. annually. It was "for the free instruction of all the boys of the Parish, and it's several Hamlets of Weald, Lew, Haddon, Aston, Coat, Chimney, Yelford, Shifford, and Bright-Hampton. " At the last mentioned date it was being plaintively remarked of the trustees that "their exertions for the honour of the School seem much to be desired. " The recent master had been a Reverend Mr. Davis,"whose Salary was the rent of the endowment, together with a house and garden"; and it was complained that: "He had not been in the School to teach for the last ten or fifteen years, and consequently no boy had been taught the Classics during that period. " His deputy taught only "English, writing, and arithmetic. " The rustic parents themselves, however, did not value this useless classical instruction for their children, and sent them instead to the common school for more appropriate training. Hence its gradual decay. A larger school was built in 1871 a little further down the lane on land presented by the Earl of Shrewsbury, whose family obtained Ham Court after de Valence, and have held it more or less visibly ever since. One is grateful for the becoming grey stone and the Early English style of the new building.

I hinted when writing at Binsey about St. Frideswide that many people claim Bampton, rather than Abingdon or Bensington, as the saint's refuge from the furious love making of Prince Algar of Leicester a claim supported indeed by authorities dating from a twelfth century Cottonian MS. down to Dugdale and Wood. It is a little difficult for the Bampton claimants to surmount the obstacle of the traditional length, ten to twelve miles, of her journey; traversed, you will recollect, in a "short hour's space" by her angelic preserver with one oar; for Rushey, Bampton's port on the River, is no less than twenty-one miles by water from her starting-place, say by Medley weir; and even the longest of Dr. Plot's three sizes of Oxfordshire miles would not avail to reconcile the discrepancy. But even now these River miles are very uncertainly measured; many a nominal one around these bends has cost me a long half-hour's pulling; and quite possibly the old chroniclers would not have dreamt of reckoning by miles afloat, but have employed the land distance in their text. And in any case the speed is described as the effect of a miracle. So that Bampton's twelve mile distance from Medley by land is a strong recommendation in favour of the little town; and so is the Benlona named by the Cottonian MS. The woods, however, where she hid, and through which she wandered so painfully back to Oxford, might indicate, twelve centuries ago, any one of the three rival places. The saint seems to have condescended to a mere pigstye for shelter with her maidens; and the miracle which threatened to betray her identity was the restoration of a little girl's sight, perhaps with the water of the ancient well at Ham Court. In a window of the new chapel at Bampton church you may now see the commemorative figure of St. Frideswide, with the head of a pig appearing from behind her robe. Father Goldie's story of her visit to Rome is probably a mere late invention, fabricated only because it would have been the proper thing for her to do. The French reserve on the point is a singular instance of the gallantry of that admirable nation.

Westward over Three Bridges you will find this same Ham Court, where Aylmer de Valence,"the tall pale man," one of the deadly enemies of Edward II's favourite Piers Gaveston, had his residence; built by King John. His canopied tomb still stands in the chancel of Westminster Abbey; with the heads of its little figures all religiously knocked off; and his name is one of those outstanding titles of the feudal ages that, as Emerson says,"rattle on our ears like a flourish of trumpets. " He it was who checked the first rising of Robert the Bruce under Edward I. You may still see the original gateway, the dry moat, and some early Decorated windows, with an ornamented chimney stack surmounting the whole. Skelton shews a sketch of the remains as they survived in his time. Behind the house is a holy well ("lady" well the girls of the town correct you), left even more desolate than St. Margaret's well at Binsey; and over it hangs a decayed old tree trunk. It still contains water, but no flow is visible; the bulk is drawn off for irrigation purposes. It once possessed a wide reputation for healing the eyes; and in simpler ages a flowery pleasaunce led up to it. But it is never dressed now on its saint's day with the season's blossoms; the modern spirit derides such superstitions, when it soars so high as to notice them at all.

[Fred, in his Additions and Corrections, adds: A little west of Ham Court a lane up from Weald to Alvescot crosses the Clanfield road. At this spot, Cowlease Corner, they used of old time to bury suicides by torchlight; and many have been the adventures with malicious spirits related by midnight wanderers and strayed revellers; fancies begotten of the dreadful associations of the neighbourhood. ]

Bampton Curfew

I have heard the curfew ring in the little town, a custom they still maintain; and being beside a cheerful fire that February night I was glad enough that it rang no longer with authority. Being awake at three o'clock next morning I also heard the bells ring Home, sweet Home! twice through. The mechanism for various tunes, to be played every four hours, was installed after Christmas, 1907. There seems to have been much discussion as to whether there was ever any actual implement used for extinguishing fires at curfew. In the Every Day Book a drawing of one is given, something like a large Dutch oven made of copper and rivetted together; ten inches high, this one, sixteen inches wide, and nine inches deep.

Bampton must have been a place of very weighty consideration in old times. It gives its name to the hundred which contains such places as Burford and Witney, much more imposing now than itself. Aston and Brise Norton may have been its east and its north town respectively; and you will have read the long list of hamlets its classical school was intended to serve.

For the rest, various little streams hurry through the town beneath its bridges. One pretty rivulet you will cross as you come in from the River meadows. But neither it nor the others are the Charney Brook, which I have seen stated runs through Bampton; you will find it, if you wish, some distance southward.

[ Fred, in his Additions and Corrections, adds: In the little old-world town of Bampton-in-theBush, near Oxford, it has been an ancient custom for the children to make wild-flower garlands on Whit-Monday and go round the town with them. This year [1909] prizes were offered for the best garlands. ]

Morris dances and mumming still flourish as of old; and if ever you enter the place from the eastward distances you will notice a stone on the garden wall of the first house you reach whereon is inscribed

It is merely one of the bits of useful building material conveyed in heaps from the churchyard. I think if you look closely at country walls you will often discover similar things. I remember some at Appleton.

Lingering through the straggling little town, and through its sister communities on both sides of the River, you are constantly arrested by the persistence of the Gothic in domestic architecture, even to the very barns, which often turn upon you a trefoiled window, a Perpendicular dripstone, or a pointed doorway. "When Gothic was invented houses were Gothic as well as churches," says one. Nor is this only in the more ancient buildings, as Ruskin supposed; not in this unfrequented countryside, at least. New, ay, even unfinished houses ("housen" will often fall like a benediction upon your ear), even these hereabouts have touches of the same grace; and it imparts a unity and coherence to the scattered clusters of dwellings far from monotony. Not a classical reminder in the whole land, except here and there in the more modern mansions of the great; and at unhappy Kingston Bagpuize.

One of the most extraordinary sights amongst these churches are the early fifteenth century mural paintings that were found under the whitewash during the restoration of the little church at South Leigh in 1872. You may reach this village by walking either from Eynsham in about two miles; or in about a mile from its own station on the Oxford and Fairford line, if by any chance you hear of a train. The latter way is by charming undulating footpaths nearly the whole distance. The paintings successfully brought to light cover the whole outer wall of the chancel arch, and parts of the nave walls. The largest is a most curious spectacle; in its northern half the dead arise into glory from their graves, clean cut as when first hewn and in the other half the lost spirits may be seen hovering dreadfully over the flames of Tophet, where a great yellow Apollyon waits with outstretched rake to harvest them in. A nobler panel on the south wall illustrates the Weighing of Souls. The whole effect is extraordinary; terrifying and possibly edifying to the ignorant, not perhaps without some suspicion of the ludicrous to the educated.

A note of more human warmth is that John Wesley preached his first sermon here on Wednesday, October 16th, 1725, occupying the very pulpit now standing beneath these paintings. Sou' Lye the village is called in the vernacular; and so the great evangelist wrote it in his diary, when on a later occasion he preached here again: "Here it was I preached my first sermon six and forty years ago. One man was in my present audience who heard it. Most of the rest had gone to their long home. " The architecture of the little church is mostly of Early English with later developments. There is, however, an interesting relic of Norman work in a square-headed door with curiously carved tympanum.

Footpaths are notably frequent in this countryside, and by one and another you may walk most of the three miles to Witney and so escape the high roads and the motor nuisance thereupon. The spire of Witney church is the first sight that meets the eye as you climb to the top of the last pleasant hill. But before going on to the town its small suburb of Cogges allures you, and therein is set one of the most delightful and original little churches imaginable. The lovely bell turret with its conical top is a playful scrap of architecture I am always loth to lose sight of. The design of the building is mostly Early English, with one possibly late Norman pillar. The south door is certainly Norman. At the entrance to the churchyard from the lane stands a handsome modern lychgate, with an inscription stating that all the stone was brought thither ready hewn, so that there was "neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard" in its erection. The quotation truly is Scriptural; but the workmen employed by Solomon were Phoenician, and the method far more ancient than his day. In the churchyard is said to be a yew trained tunnelwise over a tomb, which I have not seen.

Cogges was the site of an alien Benedictine monastery founded in the twelfth century, the only remains of which are built into the vicarage kitchen. It belonged to the great abbey at Fécamp,"the putative fount of the Benedictine liqueur. " The manor house is said to be in part older than the church and the remains of the priory, and owes its "fine Early English work" to the de Greys of Yorkshire who bought it and became a great family hereabouts.


Witney Church
Witney Church,
The frontispiece of Dr Giles's History of Witney.
Photograph b the Artists Illustrators.

Turning towards Witney, celebrated with "Stand to 'un, Harcourt", humour for its four b's - beauty, blankets, bread and beer - you cross the Windrush by a little bridge. Rather sleepy and weedy the stream often is here, five miles from its mouth at New Bridge, though in the summer of 1907 it was running down fresh and full. Thames and I suppose his tributaries were flowing a foot or eighteen inches deeper than usual that year, and were all the fairer for it. The meadow island formed here by the divided Windrush has a special interest of its own. "It is called," says Wood,"Langdale Meede. A man from any part of the kingdom may put his horse therein and no man say nay to him. It is free for all comers. Whether this meade did belong formerly to the priory I cannot tell, but I suppose it was for strangers' horses that came a visiting or perhaps on pilgrimage." About the middle of the nineteenth century an endeavour was made to convert its annual value of about A30 to the maintenance of a school, but without success, no title being discoverable; an obstacle curious and interesting, but profoundly legal.

Now straight by a path between high walls you come full into the spacious High Street of Witney, nearly a mile long, closed in at one end by the fine church of St. Mary. Would that all noble churches and cathedrals had as worthy an approach! The bishops of Winchester had a rural palace here, and gratitude is due to them for so memorable a building. There is Norman work left in the north door and the walls of the nave. The spire is Early English, and seems more stately than Bampton's aerial loveliness. The grace and simplicity of the lancet windows at the east end arrest the eye before almost anything else within; they are a restoration by Mr. Street, a man one cannot sufficiently honour for his splendid modern Gothic. The fine flowing tracery in the north transept window, and the Perpendicular design in the west end, deserve a lingering regard; and there is an effect of noble spaciousness in the south transept, as large in itself as many a one of the smaller Valley churches. The proportions of the ogee arch in the northwest corner are singularly graceful.

It is singular to contemplate the police station almost invading the sacred precincts. Certainly, if any recalcitrant brother refuse to hear the Church, it is but a very short way with him elsewhither, in Witney.

A little touch of child life in the old town seems worth preserving:

This is the Witney Infant School,
Where we are taught the happy rule.
To love our God and parents kind,
And leave all useless things behind.
But we must come with faces clean,
Neat clothes, all whole, fit to be seen
And only a penny do we pay
Per week for learning every day.
Then let us all attend to time,
Be there before, or just at nine:
And in the afternoon so true
Be always in the School at two.
Now we will all attention pay
To all that our kind teachers say
And pray that God may bless our school,
Its friends, and every infant rule.

The town overflows with superabundant charities, they say. There is for instance an annual Christmas bequest of beef to the value of £128, and they never know how to dispose of it; and the same with other legacies. And no tradesman need expect to prosper here unless he be a Wesleyan; the South Leigh tradition lies heavy; and there are local Methodist magnates.

Witney manor was presented in 1040 to St. Swithin's church in Winchester by, or for, Alwyn, bishop of that city. He had been charged with ultra-episcopal tenderness towards Emma, mother of Edward the Confessor, and they were condemned to the ordeal of fire in company together; "walking barefoot over nine red-hot ploughshares". They survived successfully; and in gratitude for their preservation gave each nine manors to St. Swithin's. Their effusive thankfulness seemeth a little to reflect upon their innocence. The number of manors stood for the number of plough-shares successfully passed. Some accounts say that only Emma faced the ordeal and presented the property. Fuller has his usual inimitable comment: "Only I wonder that Aelfwine, equally suspected and equally innocent with Emma, should not offer himself to the like trial. But, perchance, the prudent prelate remembered that such barbarous customs, though kept up amongst the common people, were forbidden by the ancient Canons; and now Emma, who went upon this sad errand, did the business for them both, and cleared their credits. " The loveable historian!

In the centre of the town, just opposite the path by which you arrive from Cogges, stands the Butter Cross, an old structure of wood upon stone pillars presented to the townsfolk in the seventeenth century by a William Blake, whose monument is in the church, as an exchange for butter and eggs and similar produce. It has twice been restored. And they had a poet, too, not to lag behind Bampton. Richard Duke is mentioned in The Lives of the Poets as having been presented to the living here in 1710 by the Bishop of Winchester. He enjoyed it, however, only a few months, dying on February 10th, 1711. Swift wrote to Stella four days later: "Dr. Duke died suddenly two or three nights ago; he was one of the wits when we were children, but turned parson, and left it ... He had a fine living given him by the Bishop of Winchester about three months ago; he got his living suddenly, and he got his dying so too. " His poems were but slender in quantity, and consist largely of lively translations from the Latin poets, Ovid and the rest. Quite noticeable is an animus against marriage, of which the following is an epigrammatic example:

To a Roman Catholic upon Marriage.

Censure and pennances, excommunication,
Are bug-bear words to fright a bigot nation;
But 'tis the Church's more substantial curse
To damn us all for better and for worse:
Falsely your Church seven sacraments does frame;
Pennance and Matrimony are the same.

Many kings made temporary residence in Witney on account of the hunting in Wychwood Forest. Letters of King John's are in existence dated from the "palace of the bishop of Winchester" between 1207 and 1214. Edward IV and James I were also visitors. And John Taylor, in that List of Taverns, notes the Kings Armes, kept then by Tho. Brooke; still substantial near the Windrush bridge.

Calamy mentions no ejectments among the Witney clergy under the Act of Uniformity; but there retired hither, in consequence of the subsequent Five Mile Act, one Francis Hubbard, a Balliol Master of Arts. Here he "lived peaceably till the day of his death" at the early age of forty-nine, in 1676; except for a six months' imprisonment in the Bocardo for holding conventicles. He seems to have managed to get a house licensed for preaching under the Indulgence. Perhaps his privations shortened his life; for, as Richard Baxter wrote: "Many hundreds of them, with their wives and children, had neither house nor bread. Though they were as frugal as possible they could hardly live; a piece of flesh has not come to their tables in six weeks' time. One went to plow six days and preached on the Lord's day. Another was forced to cut tobacco for a livelihood"; and so forth, as with all men who have preferred conscience to physical comfort; whether Roman Catholics or silent Quakers.

The Windrush flows across the north end of the town under a bridge built only in 1822. Its predecessor was, they say, of very ancient structure.

Minster Lovell

Lovel Tomb
The Lovel Tomb, Minster Lovel Church
From a photograph supplied by the Reverend J Kinchin Smith. M.A.

Rather more than three miles westward from Witney, on the southern edge of Wychwood Forest, lies the little village of Minster Lovel, a place of a long and romantic history that reaches back to about 1100. Its very name allured me to it; most distant from the River, as I think it is, of all the places of which I tell you. The Burford road thither leaves Witney narrowly and almost unnoticeably between the houses opposite the Butter Cross, as so often main roads quit these little towns; for better defence, perhaps, against an attacking force. But it soon develops into a fine broad way, with a grand sweeping curve in it. At the top of the ascent beyond the cemetery a wide landscape opens out, the Windrush gleams through the valley below, and Leafield church gems the opposite hill. (At first you might think its tall spire an exception to the ancient rule upon which Mr. Belloc remarks, that high placed churches are always low and massive; and those low lying aspiring and erect. But observe! Leafield is a quite modern spire, built in defiance of the ancient instinct. So also is the bold tower of little Overton by Marlborough, newly built upon a hill. ) The great road rises ever westward until across in the south you see the bold line of the Berkshire Downs. Here does the west wind get its will of you; any wind, indeed, that is at large. Just beyond the dip, through a gateway on your right hand, you look down suddenly full upon the blank walls of the ruined Lovel castle in the little watered valley beneath the road: "the auncient Place of the Lovels harde by the Churche. Mastar Vinton of Wadeley by Faringlon hathe it of the Kynge in Ferme," says that poet John Leland. Though I believe he very probably wrote Unton; but the passage in his original MS. in the Bodleian is lost, and the printed books derive from Stow's transcript, which says Vinton. This Mastar Unton was probably the grandfather of the Sir Henry of that prancing challenge.

It is a quiet dreamy scene from the grey, three-arched bridge that spans the Windrush; along the sedgy river and the higher line of grey cots that leads the eye to the church tower; and behind you the water meadows and the flickering sighing willows by the dusty mill. St. Keneim's was built about 1440, entirely in the Perpendicular style, upon the site of an older church which since about 1100 had been the church both of the parish and of the alien priory of the Benedictines belonging to the abbey of Ivry, and which is remembered in the word Minster. It was suppressed in the reign of Edward IV, and the property bestowed upon Eton College, to which it still belongs. The present building was restored in 1868, when many old matters, including a dilapidated rood screen, were cleared away. It contains very pre-eminently a beautiful alabaster Lovel monument, though there seems to be some uncertainty which of the last three lords of that family it commemorates. Probably it was John, who died young about 1465. His father, the Lord William, was buried amongst the Grey Friars at Oxford. The family had been settled here since 1 107. Francis, Viscount Love! , the last of them, lives in the books in that distich by William Colyngbourne which, amongst other things, cost the poet his life:

The catte, the ratte, and Lovel our dogge,
Rulyth all England under a hogge.

The Cat was Catesby, hanged three days after that kingly fight at Bosworth Field, and the sixth in ascent from Robert Catesby of the Gunpowder Plot;
the Rat was Ratcliffe;
and the Hog was Richard III of the short reign so fiercely extinguished, pursued perhaps (and who shall say not? ) by the dying Bhrictric's curse upon his house.

Lovel fought in this battle for Richard; and after the catastrophe took sanctuary at St. John's, Colchester. Early in 1486 he escaped and raised that revolt in the north during which he nearly succeeded in capturing Henry VII at York. The rising being put down he took hiding in Lancashire and subsequently in Flanders. Then in May, 1487, in company with others he joined himself to the fortunes of Lambert Simnel; and was last seen crossing the Trent on horseback in flight after the defeat at Stokeon-Trent in the same year. Bacon in his Henry the Seventh says that after swimming his horse across "he could not recover the further side by reason of the steepness of the bank, and so was drowned in the river"; adding, however, that Lovel may have "lived long after in a cave or vault." The popular story indeed runs that he made his way home here, at dead of night and deeply disguised, and long lay concealed in a secret chamber of this ruin, known only to one faithful retainer; and by some accident was ultimately left to starve. "In 1708, during some alterations, a vault was discovered in which sat the skeleton of a man in a writing posture at a table. All crumbled to dust when air was admitted. "Was it the dust of unhappy Francis Lovel? Possibly not; some say he died in France; and the very same story is associated with Upton Lovel, south in Wiltshire; also his. A jury of inquisition post mortem, however, under Henry VIII, found that he died abroad: "Dicunt quod [blessed phrase!] idem Franciscus tempore attincturae praedictae fuit ultra mare, et ut ibidem. . . obiit, set quo die vel anno. . . jurati praedicti ignorant."

The romantic old legend of the mistletoe bough is sometimes attached to Minster Lovel; of the beautiful girl hiding in play in a great chest which fastened upon her so that she died long before she could be discovered. The old walls of the ruin are scrawled over with abominable names and initials; poor noble house, deplorable ignoble scribblers.

It is a narrow, queer little street, this of Minster Lovel, up and down hill; Great Minster eastward of the Windrush, Little Minster on the western bank recalling quite appreciably on a cloudy, dusty day some desolate hamlet of the Derbyshire hills. Yet the whole scene must compose beneath June sunshine a picture of fresh and varied loveliness.

The Chartists' Co-operative Land Company, subsequently entitled the National Land Company, was formed in 1846 by tall Feargus O'Connor (after two or three years of preliminary work, during which he "could talk of nothing else ") to buy land and let it to the subscribers by ballot. Rosy expectations of idyllic rural existence, never to be realised, were held out to the subscribing and participating mechanics and factory hands, who in their town bred life had acquired neither the technical training nor the habit of body necessary for an agricultural occupation. As much as one hundred and twelve thousand pounds, however, poured from them and their sympathisers into the Land Bank which O'Connor instituted; and in March, 1846, the first estate was bought, at Herringsgate in Hertfordshire. In the following October a second was obtained at Lowbands in Worcestershire; and then one here at Minster Lovel, and another at Snig's End in Gloucestershire, were added about June, 1847. Thirty pounds per acre was the price given for the land here. A manor called Dodford in Worcestershire was the fifth and last; unless some later negotiations, for the Mathon estate near Malvern, ever resulted in anything beyond the payment of the deposit money; though I think not. Eighty is the number usually mentioned of the houses erected upon the Minster Lovel estate, each of which possessed its allotment of two, three, or four acres, of the large Irish dimensions; with a proposed "furze fence, or something of that kind," between each holding. But I find eighty-five, and even eighty-nine, spoken of as ultimately having been ready for occupation; with "a very splendid schoolhouse. " in the "List of Allottees," however, only sixty-nine actual settlers are named, not counting transferees, of whom indeed, in a short six months, there came to be many. I think the whole of the two acre lots changed hands; though significantly only one or two of those of four acres and of three. The disillusioned immigrants had soon found it impossible to work the larger holdings by their own efforts; and new comers, profiting perhaps by their experience, would take over only the smallest.

The houses were built of "the sandstone which forms the subsoil of the country. The day-room of each cottage is in the centre, and neatly flagged; the bed-rooms, one on each side, are boarded, the whole are plastered throughout; have good grates, and the roof is well slated. . . they must have cost 100l. each. " A witness before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, upon which O'Connor sat, described under examination by O'Connor himself his visit to the leader's local dwelling. " I went with Mr. Allsop, I think, on the 1st of January [1848]; it was a very cold snowy day; the roads, I think, were about a foot deep in mud; we certainly did expect to see some conveyance of some sort to take us from the gate upon our arrival, we found no one but a shepherd and a dog, and a donkey-cart; in that donkey cart we deposited ourselves and luggage, and on our arrival we found Mr. O'Connor living in such a place as I could only compare to the barrack-room of the only officer I ever knew in the service who lived on his pay. "

No hostility appears to have been displayed by the landed proprietors; and it was stated in evidence that "the farmers wondered, and expressed astonishment at the good management and excellence of the crops. " But the bright hopes quickly died down; O'Connor's agricultural plans were ill judged, and overcropped the soil. A Mr. Revans, appointed to report "on the Operations of the New Land Company leading to the Imposition of Burthens upon the Poor Rates of those Parishes in which they acquire land" (an ominous instruction), said "A shepherd at Minster Lovell told me that he was well acquainted with the land which had been divided into the cottage farms, and that he felt satisfied no man could get a living off such land by his spade, though he had not to pay rent. " The commissioner "found most of the workers to be farm-labourers belonging to the district. I found that the cottagers were in-doors; I asked the reason from the men who were working for them; and was told that the 'poor creatures, ' for in that pitying tone the farming men invariably spoke of the occupants, could not stand before the cold wind. " You will perhaps not wonder over much, if ever you cross the height.

The whole evidence, even after more than half a century, is depressing reading; a tale of bright prospects quickly swamped under sordid failure. The result of the enquiry was that the scheme was found to be practically bankrupt in June, 1848, little over two years from its actual inauguration. O'Connor is said to have lost, rather than gained, by the experiment. He died in 1855 wholly, as he had lived partly, mad; and it is perhaps truly written that "the absolute failure of Chartism may be traced very largely to his position in the movement. " The very name of the local settlement, the odious "Charterville," is happily almost forgotten, except by the Ordnance maps.

A few of the descendants are said still to remain about the district, but the present occupants are market gardeners and ordinary labourers. The latter cultivate three or four acres in their own time "and so add enough, chiefly through pigs, to their labourers' wage to turn a sordid into a fairly comfortable poverty. It's grand; it's salvation! Minster Lovel is one of the very poorest parishes in Oxfordshire, yet there is very little want, and in the last six years only two have been sent to the Union; thanks to the three or four acres. "

And now behold an example in myself of those who wander sometimes with darkened eyes through our English villages. Ignorant of all these old unhappy bankrupt hopes I left Minster Lovel, after seeing all I first told you of, by the upland lane that leads southward from the Burford hard road by the side of the While Hart; and soon began to notice with much curiosity the small square grey bungalows that stood back from the lane at regular intervals on each side, in an apparently undivided huge orchard, varied with more open patches of small fruit. I noticed them, I say, but passed on over the upland tired and only ignorantly wondering. The August sun was sinking and it would be almost dark before I could reach my boat seven miles off at Rushey; between me and which lay that wide moorland beyond Bampton, doubtful, unpeopled, full of those shapes regarding which you cannot be secure in the thick dusk whether they are not crouching for the spring; and across which I must somehow work my way to the white rails of the little beloved lock. I passed them ignorantly by but now discover to you all their luckless history.

There, in the windless night-time,
The wanderer, marvelling why,
Halts on the bridge to hearken
How soft the poplars sigh ...

There, by the starlit fences,
The wanderer halts and hears
My soul that lingers sighing
About the glimmering weirs.

Brize Norton

Before I reached Bampton I went through Brise Norton, whose church you will sometimes find locked, as I did then; and judging from Hinton and Eisey you may conclude in your haste that there is nothing of interest inside. It was described in 1813 as having fallen into a state of lamentable neglect, especially "Lord Wenmans aisle"; the earthen floor and lower part of the walls being covered with green slime. But I came again, from Rushey through Bampton, one thunderous summer day filled with an unpleasant eddying wind, which threatened a storm that never came; and succeeded in seeing this ancient church of St. Britius, built between the Norman and Early English. A little conical bell turret rises half way along the nave roof, and the corbels on the tower shew some most curious heads. Within are strange rude sedilia, and a piscina with two openings which pleased me. Opposite, next the aumbry, is a beautiful window with round arches over its two lights and a palmer's shell in the tympanum above. The Norman font has a striking arcade of square pillars. Lord Wenman's aisle (if the north were his) still looks as if, with the little neglect that is happily absent, it might soon get its "green slime" again; for the floor looks damp and inclined to mildew. There is fine old timbering in the nave roof. The south door is square-headed Norman with a dice pattern in the tympanum. On the wall of the porch it was curious to notice a little of the green deposit, but dry, complained of a century ago.

Behind the altar is a fine old Crusader tomb of a knight in chain armour, the inscription upon which ran, so far as I could manage by squeezing to see in the dim light: "Hic iacet Iohes daubyngne qui obiit in vigilia sancti iacobi m: ccc quadragesimo sexto ano anime ppicietur deus. " Who will not applaud Dr. Johnson where he says that epitaphs should be expressed in no language but secular Latin?

If you are enquiring your way hither, ask for Bryce Norton. Cox relates that here" dwells a Family of the Woods, who have had several Times an unusual knocking before the Death of some of the Family"; and Dr. Plot devotes several pages of his folio to the story: how that the head of the family, late of Bampton, had been captain in the late wars for the king. "Some whereof before their Deaths have had signal Warning given them by a certain knocking, either at the Door without, or on the Table and Shelves within; the number of Stroaks and distance between them for the most part respecting the Circumstances of the Persons to Dye. " He then gives a number of instances of the visitation, of which I condense one. "The first knocking that was heard was about a year after the Restoration of the king, in the Afternoon a little before Night, at or upon the Door, it being then open, as it was apprehended by Mrs Elinor Wood, Mother to Captain Basil Wood, who only heard it, none being then by or about the House but her self; at which she was very much disturbed, thinking it boded some ill to her or hers; and within fourteen Nights after, she had news of the Death of her Son-in. Law, in London. " I had not the ensuing story when I was upon the subject at Bampton; but it seems that one of the victims there, being disturbed by nocturnal sounds from the garden, arose at midnight, assumed a thick cudgel and the offensive, and approaching a glimmering paleness that seemed to reveal the presence of his enemy "he raised on high his weapon, which fell with unerring might" upon a towering-sunflower.


About a mile and a half due south of Witney lies the little village of Ducklington,"Duckleton," with that great and admirable pond which God has bestowed upon the boys whose golden fortune it is to have been born upon its shores. "O terque quaterque beati quis contigit. . . ! " It is an alluring entrance to the place, recalling Bessilsleigh; and if you glance behind towards your left hand as you go in you will gain a last glimpse of Witney church, which I once saw uprising like a pale shaft of gold under February sunlight. The handsome and well cared for little church of St. Bartholomew stands on a green knoll above the road and overlooks the pond. It is of Early English architecture originally; and the north aisle is perhaps its chief area of interest. All around the cornice is an unbroken row of the ball flower ornament; and up near the roof, unceiled beneath its stone tiles and timbers, are two or three oblong niches, containing reliefs of the stable scene at Bethlehem and of the meeting of Elizabeth and the angel. There are two elaborately carved ogee canopies, which cover no apparent relics.

Just inside the north door is the entrance to a cell, the only one I have seen in this countryside. I moved away the board, and saw four or five worn stone steps, descending in so narrow and twisted a fashion that I could only squeeze down sideways. At the bottom it is but a little dungeon of a place, with a domed and vaulted roof, perhaps about eight feet square without several recesses that give off from it. It is now degraded to the use of a cellar for the fuel with which the church is warmed. There are two small openings upwards to the light, down which straggle long pale feelers of the plants of the upper world. It was used by the priest, they say, as a place of private devotion and retirement; the bolt holes seem an evidence that the door could have been fastened only from within.

In the centre aisle is a slab commemorating "Mr. Matthew Pryor," chipped and worn almost beyond legibility, though the date of his death, 1719, and his age, seventy-eight, are still clear. Whether it is in memory of the poet or not I could not at first discover he was certainly not buried here, but under the monument in Westminster Abbey, and in 1721 at the lower age of fifty-seven. The coincidences of the name, and almost of the year of death, coupled with the poet's frequent visits to Cockthorpe close by, were, however, a little interesting; and the books have an amusing air of would-an-they-dared identify the two. I learnt, however, that the family of Prior, of which members are found in the registers from 1623 to 1873, had certainly no connection with the poet. The man buried in the church was probably a farmer. The last of the name was interred in 1873; a labourer from Hardwick, where all the family appear to have lived.

In the roof of the nave are some alluring little dormer windows; and the church is lighted with candles in glass globes; two and one to each alternate row of seats. There is a plain, perhaps late Norman, font. The living is in the presentation of Magdalen College; from whose chapel some oak carving was rejected early in the nineteenth century and brought hither to decorate these pews.

Dr. Walter Bayley, born in 1529 and buried in New College in 1592, got himself appointed medicus ordinarius ad vilam to Queen Elizabeth on the first day of December, 1581. Three years earlier the lease of Standlake had been granted him by the queen. I do not find any trace of the man himself here; but Wood, writing a century later, says that "his posterity do live at this day at Ducklington. " They held a neighbouring estate called Bayley Park until quite early in the eighteenth century; the last burial among them having been in 1716. Another Walter, who died in 1695, was rector of the parish. The founder of the family, the medicus ordinarius, wrote slenderly, particularly upon the eye. His Brief Treatise of 1586 is but a tiny tract, the charm of whose graceful old types still lingers on its discoloured pages. It is emphatic upon the efficacy for the eyes of the little plant eyebright: "and most men may like to drink it, because this herbe doeth yeeld no ungratefull taste, but rather with a pleasant sapour doth commend the drinke. " The Doctor could witness that many by a simple composition of eyebright and fennel seeds continued in good estate. "In trueth once I met an old man in Shropshire called M. Hoorde, about the age of 84 yeres, who had at that time perfit sight, and did read smal letters very well without spectacles: he tolde me that about the age of 40. yeares, hee finding his sight to decay, he did use eiebright in ale for his drinke, and did also eate the pouder thereof in an egge three dayes in a weeke, being so taught of his father, who by the like order continued his sight to a verie long age. "

Behind the village, parallel with the southward road, the Windrush flows between bending willows. These had been newly pollarded one day when I was through, and the fresh cuts gleamed creamy white in the winter sunshine. Less than a mile from the village is Cockthorpe Park, whose mansion lies at the end of an avenue of beeches; a haze of purple brown, the promise of spring, over their grey green trunks when I saw them. The house, built in the reign of Queen Anne by Simon, the first Viscount Harcourt, who died in 1727, is plain and externally uninteresting with a balustrade upon the roof, and a dry moat. It was this Harcourt who set up the monument in Westminster Abbey to John Philips. He brought the Nuneham estate into the family by purchase, but Cockthorpe was his principal residence. Queen Anne gave him some carved oak for its dining-room, and subsequently visited him here. When the great seal was taken from him in September, 1714, upon the arrival of George I, he retired hither and amused himself with society and literature in the frequent company of Pope, Prior, Gay and Swift. "Trimming Harcourt" the latter called him, in one of their numerous quarrels. He was the son of that Philip Harcourt who died in 1688, and who, as I have said, was the last of the family to reside at Stanton Harcourt. Simon himself would possibly have resided there, but in his early manhood he clandestinely married the daughter of his father's chaplain (the first of his three ventures); and upon the discovery of the union the young couple went to reside at Chipping Norton. Sir Philip's widow subsequently let the old mansion fall into decay. This secret marriage was the only one from which the Viscount had any issue.

In Cockthorpe House is a painting of a group of Sir Thomas More's family, done in 1593 by Rowland Lockey. It appears to have been this picture, and not Holbein's, which however it very strongly resembled, that once belonged to the Burford Lenthalls. It was sold some time after 1829, and is now, as I say, in this mansion. Holbein's work, sent to Erasmus by More, is and always has been in the Basle museum.


Close by, within the park, stands the little church of Hardwick,"a hamlet of the parish of Ducklington." it was locked when I was there and I could not obtain the key, which was disappointing, as it still contains its chained books: the Imitatio Christi, the Whole Duty of Man, and the Companion to Fasts and Festivals; and a Norman font with intersecting round arches, apparently like that at Ducklington. The pointed arches thus formed probably inspired the Gothic designers, rather than the overarching branches of the forest avenues, so fond a theory of the poets and so give colour to the professional theory that there was no break between Romanesque and the Gothic.

The rector of Ducklington found, when he came to the parish in 1870, only one of the books in its place; the others, with broken bindings and broken chains, were in the parish chest. He procured their restoration to the shelf in the porch. Another matter he told me of was interesting: that the Cockthorpe estate once belonged to Sir Thomas More; whose family also held largely in Standlake. The mansion is actually in that parish. More died in 1535, and Cockthorpe passed to Sir David Williams, who lived from 1536 to 1613. It is said that there used to be a monument to him in Kingston Bagpuize church, recording that a part of his remains were buried there but it is "no longer to be found. " His monument, however, still exists in St. John's Priory church in Brecknock. It was his second wife, Dorothy, widow of John Latton of Kingston Bagpuize, who gave him, and so his descendants, their grip of this part of the country. He married her in 1597.

In the garden of the cottage without the park, where I vainly knocked to obtain the key, the first snowdrops were gleaming, and the gold-lichened roofs of Hardwick lay clustered beyond. A slight ascent brings into view in the south the great Berkshire Downs, with the line of the Ridge and Faringdon Clump in the nearer distance; over the round of a meadow the top of Bampton spire rises in the full west; and before you lie outspread all the wooded depths of the River valley.

Down at the foot of the hill you come suddenly upon a farm, two or three cottages, and a church: St. Swithin's of Yelford. Surely, although the church is small, the village must have dwindled from something much more important. The farm and two cottages are in the parish of Ducklington; the church and three cottages, one of which is the rectory cottage, constitute Yelford proper. The other two of these three cottages are formed out of the old manor house. The population in 1907 was thirteen; the rector of Ducklington is rector here also. The church is a bare little place of restored Perpendicular work, with a Tudor timbered roof, an old rood screen and heavy ancient door. A list of rectors from the thirteenth century downwards is displayed, shewing during its later course a Lydall in 1641, and presentations by the Lenthalls between 1662 and 1815. With such a grasp upon antiquity it cannot be but there has been some minor history; but all now is comparatively featureless, and seems the furthest possible removed from the world even of Bampton and Witney. A well established resident the other side of Bampton had hardly heard of its existence. Southward through it, along a little misty hollow, flickers a tiny stream to join the Thames at the edge of Standlake Common. And even beneath the pleasant sunshine of a mild February afternoon an air of melancholy seemed to diffuse itself about the place; ideal that it is of remote obscurity. Yet it looked as though in June it might be full of a peaceful loveliness. This whole neighbourhood must once have been densely populated by Anglo-Saxons. Their cemeteries have been found close here, as well as at neighbouring Cockthorpe and Cote and Standlake; indicative of undisturbed and enduring possession.


Beyond the village you turn south by a perfectly straight and stony track a full mile long over the cow common and then the sheep common of Aston: "Ahston" they call it. I have not a very high opinion of Oxfordshire roads, and eastward of Bampton they are at their worst. At the end of this track you reach the somewhat starved looking hamlet of Cote. Here is to be found, however, a point of interest unique, I think, in this stretch of country: a Nonconformist church with some romance of ancientness attached to it. "Cote Baptist chapel," says Dr. Giles in his local History of 1847,"is one of the most respectable establishments of Dissenters in the whole kingdom. " The congregation seems originally to have come from Longworth in Berkshire, three miles away in a direct line southeastward across the River, but four or perhaps more by the detour they probably had to make to cross at Duxford. They appear to have had a burial ground at Longworth, whose earliest entry was in 1647; but it reverted to the owner upon some neglect of the trustees. This meeting-house was first registered in September, 1703, the ground having been presented by John Williams of Aston. That John Williams who became a missionary to the Society Islands, and was subsequently martyred by the savages of Erromango in 1839, was perhaps a member of the same family. The building is plain and roomy, kept locked, with a gallery visible through the windows, a little manse at the side, and in front a pleasant, well kept burying-ground.

Cote House is said to be a fine example of Elizabethan architecture, with painted glass and sepulchral chapel. I have been near it often, yet always time or physical endurance failed me, so that I have never seen it.

Dr. Giles describes the archaic system of farming which once obtained in the twin villages of Cote and Aston. This was constituted, briefly, as follows; though it is no longer in existence, having possibly proved, as the Doctor strongly hints,"a fatal obstacle to the improvement the land was capable of. " The ground was divided into three portions the Common Field, for crops; the Common Meadow, for hay; and the Common Pasture, for grazing. But the landowners of the district were not in the same irresponsible position as elsewhere. Grant one of them a yard-land: at the most about thirty acres. Of this he would have about twenty acres arable in the common field; four or five in the common meadow; and finally the right of grazing eight cows or four horses upon the cow common, and sixteen sheep upon the sheep common. These latter the long straight track now crosses which leads down from Yelford. There were, when Giles wrote, about one hundred and fifty persons in the two villages holding common rights of all sorts. They possessed a regular constitution and government, consisting of the lord of the manor who was the king (it is the good Doctor's simile); four "grass-stewards" for a House of Lords; and a committee of sixteen called "the Sixteens" for a House of Commons.

The common field was clearly divided into permanent allotments; but the common meadow was shared out annually in a very complicated fashion, recalling Yarnton. When the lots were all drawn, each man went with a scythe and cut his mark or sign, like a savage totem, upon the portion that had fallen to him. This often lay in so narrow a strip that he had no elbow room for a full sweep, but had to hack and jerk at it. And he might, moreover, have to cut his total share from twenty different plots; though the holders appear as a matter of courtesy to have assisted each other by informal exchanges.

The records were to be kept in a book; "and put a clean sheet of brown paper between the fresh written leaves that they blott not. " In 1593 the commoners drew up a Note of their rules and constitution, by way of confirming the past and assuring the future from which I gather some interesting details. The date of the election was every Lady Day at three in the afternoon. There seems to have resided something beyond mere agricultural authority in these assemblies; they almost certainly represented the primitive folkmoot. Nine of the Sixteens constituted a quorum, and might "pinn ye rest of ye Sixteens"; but their orders were binding upon the inhabitants only if and when proclaimed from the village cross. A note from their law reads: " Cricklet Ham is yearely to pay for coming over Beareheads Bridge sixpence; the Gaily Acres in Bosinghay Mead, twelve pence. " Queer old names! do men know anything of them now? The bridge was surely over one of the network of minor streams, the deep wide rhenes, hereabouts; Great Brook, Charney Brook, or what not. The following were the signs by which the different plots were distinguished.

Plot symbols Aston
Plot Symbols at Aston

These were cut for sure remembrance each upon a small piece of dogwood, and at the proper times shaken up in a hat and picked out by a boy. They were used till 1853, when the lands were enclosed and the custom forgotten. They differ entirely from the marks upon the coloured balls at Yarnton; and are perhaps even more curious. But you may judge for yourself here are the latter: Gilbert, White, Harry, Boat, William, Freeman, Rothe, Walter Molly, Walter Jeoffrey, Perry, Green, Dunn, Boulton (or Booton). It would be interesting to know if other sets of signs, if others be known, varied so widely.

It is all ended at Aston now; yet how near, almost to actual contact, these men of only half a century ago were to primitive man. The system in every feature is just what the Aruntas, or some such unlettered tribe, might evolve. It was well known in India. No doubt there was lamentation over its decadence when the commons were enclosed. Just before, in 1850, one of the Williams family wrote: "The very name of the 'Happy-Garston' is forgotten; the 'merry-meetings' of the inhabitants have long been discontinued; the public breakfasts on roast beef and ale, as well as the distribution of bread and ale in Rogation week, exist only in the memory of the parishioners; and the herd's dull round of unintermitted labour is now rarely broken, unless it be by the allwise appointments of the Deity-the Sabbath or the grave. " Men have returned again and again to write of this archaic survival amongst these inaccessible River levels of Oxfordshire; this oval of little known English land bounded by the curving Fairford railway along its northern limit and by the curving narrow River upon the south. In 1657 the lord of the manor made a determined effort to usurp the villagers' ancient rights; and doubtless his failure, as Mr. Gomme said, helped to "preserve for us a type of archaic village organisation not to be matched elsewhere in manorial history. "

A little westward of Cote lies Aston, Bampton Aston; not a place for the shelterless to linger in under the gathering gloom of a winter alternoon. At the Red Lion I addressed myself for hospitality to the most melancholy mannered woman I ever met. Not even tea could I have; she had just cleared her own away. I had some cold lemonade and left her to her gloom. The church is quite modern; a Gothic building of 1839. I was glad to see it had achieved a steeple; a Mr. Monk, who died about 1845, bequeathed a sum of money to accumulate until it should suffice for the purpose.

I revisited Aston later from Rushey lock; and in the early summer morning, before the sun has sucked away all the brume of night, you get a new vision of these mystical wide spaces of the River commons, still so little enclosed except with the deep black rhenes. Leaving Tadpole Bridge you go by the Isle of Wight Brook across to the Aston road. They bestow quaint names about here. Tom Weal (whom God preserve! ) chuckled: "Yes! I expect someone dreamt it one g-night, and c-c-called it that next morning. " Winnie Weg's weir is another local name; she and the weir both gone; it stood upon one of these "brooks. " Who courted Winnie Weg when she was young? Going east along the road I saw how the land becomes more enclosed and cultivated. The walk by the brook is delightful; the generally shallow water five or six yards wide, dreaming along a sandy channel of several feet in depth against flood time, is overgrown with flowering plants. It is a scene whose fellow is not here about: a triple row of trees and hedge with the track along one avenue and the stream along the other. There are sizeable fish; and I put up several brace of wild duck and a pair of magpies. Near Aston I beheld what I had not seen for many years, sheep following their shepherd; and in a cornfield a lonely baby was crying softly in its little cart while the mother was "stooking" wheat across the furrows.

Of the cross at Aston, where the ancient farming announcements were made, only a much worn pediment remains, a bare foot above the ground. Perhaps some desperate soul wrecked the upper part when the old communal system disappeared. As you will hear at Langford, so also here they are very sceptical about the Small Holdings. A fine young fellow who walked a mile with me declared he would soon make a shift away. Magdalen College holds much land.

I may perhaps add that, although the survival of the ancient system at Cote and Aston is indeed unique, as Mr. Gomme declared, in respect of its so recent completeness, relics of it may still be observed in other places; at Westcot on the Evenlode for example, where the open meads are even now divided only by the primitive balks of turf, and where each man's shares were often by no means contiguous.

O River, softly stealing from the West,
The Southwest lashes up thy reaches fair;
Yet still of thee thy lover comes in quest,
'Neath scudding drift, along thy footpaths bare:
And hears the reeds a-whirring,
The little reeds averring
That Spring, sweet Spring is stirring,
For thee and me, O River from the West.

Old Nan's Weir

From Rushey it is a pleasant pull of three miles to Radcot lock. At the end of a mile, by the first white footbridge on the Berkshire shore, you pass the site of Old Nan's weir,"a small weir with merely a hut" wrote Fearnside about 1830.

Burroway Castle - Burroway Brook

A little further upstream on the Oxfordshire side, along a green ride between high hedges, stands a gate hung upon two stone pillars which according to Tom Weal are the sole relics of Burroway Castle.
He said they carry some carving or other, but all I could distinguish was an A upon one of them.
He is my only authority for this scrap of topography, though the name is genuine enough.
I already knew the Burroway Brook from some River map or other; it is an outfall leaving Thames on the left bank just below Old Man's Bridge.
You may best land, if you wish to see these stones, where a little old brown boundary pillar rises upon the left bank, marked W on the east side and E P on the west.
Of some Conservancy men "drudging" the River along here Weal bought for sixpence one of some skulls they had brought to the surface: "only the silly f-f-fool of a workman went and kicked it and b-b-broke it!"

Old Man's Bridge Old Man's Bridge in WTSWG

A mile above Old Nan's stands Old Man's (the "High") Bridge, where once was Old Man's or Harper's or Clark's weir.
Here on the Berkshire bank of old time stood an inn, in what was known as Clark's Garden, under the sign of The Spotted Cow; a scene of much gambling, cock fighting, and other shady proceedings; a "convenience snug" in truth, and remote enough for the purpose from the Faringdon and Bampton police.
The place disappeared within living memory, along with the queer characters who frequented it.
So did the Trout, which also stood by the bridge on the Oxfordshire bank.
This was perhaps the "Harpers' house".
In May every year the neighbouring farmers used to assemble at the Spotted Cow for a jollification called "breaking the [Thrupp] Common", informing the landlord at the same time how many beasts they proposed grazing, he having the oversight of them.
Both these inns stood against the High Bridge, like the two at New Bridge, but scarcely so reputably, one imagines.

Radcot Lock Radcot Lock in WTSWG

Half-a-mile upstream is Radcot weir, known also as Buck's or Beck's. Its lock garden is always a gay parterre of flowers in their season; the fine old keeper told me in 1906 with great satisfaction that he had taken the Conservancy prize for the prettiest show between Oxford and Lechlade; and he had it again in following summers.


If you cross the large meadow opposite Radcot lock, over Carswell marsh, a Domesday name, you will get into the lane to Littleworth, about a couple of miles away, a hot and dusty track in August. As you reach the lane Bampton spire rises behind you in the northeast; and ahead in the southwest looms the shadow of the Clump. For straightness this lane is a portent; assuming to itself in the distance where it takes the rise the similitude of a white streak upon a green wall. Now, why I cannot tell you; but I always feel it a solecism, something of a monstrosity, that a southward road should ascend, and when travelling north that you should ever go downhill.

The church is the first thing you see in Littleworth, but it is quite new; and Oriel seems lately to have rebuilt the whole of the village behind red iron railings; and I would not stop, but went straight through to the hard road and the Fox and Hounds set and snug and picturesque at the side of it beyond the uncomfortable red oxided houses. And as I sat over my ale an ancient man came in who remembered the Spotted Cow; he had had "many a drop there"; and spoke of an occasion, too, when some wild spirits got into the Harpers' house opposite and burnt it down. There was much more talk: of the imminent lamentable passing of the Buckland estates from the Throckmorton hands, held by them since 1690; of lame old Jordan once at Hart's weir, and what a fine hand he was with a rod, and his taking the inn at Great Coxwell; and of other local matters I forget.

Going hence once more into Faringdon I passed on my left hand Wadley House, where the Untons held; once the property of Stanley Abbey in Wiltshire; Elizabeth and James I both lodged here in their day. The family might trace its descent from the time of Edward IV. The famous Sir Henry was born perhaps in 1557, the second son of Sir Edward, who was married at Hatford, not far from Wadley, on April 29th, 1555, and who died in 1583. The eldest son, Edward,"was slain in the Portugall voyage in 1589. " The house lies across a lovely parklike meadow, and still preserves its ancient beauty. Its drive beneath shady elms is delightful to remember; but it brought me back with a shock to the insistent Here and Now to behold a clattering motor cycle turn along it. I stayed in the town more certainly to identify Sir Henry Unton's memorial, and wondered why they skied it so; and then went up the opposite hill to Little Coxwell. Where you step off the turnpike along the little pleasant lane turn and see what a fine complete view there is of Faringdon "standing in a stony Ground in the Decline of an Hille. " And from this height the lights of the little town below look warm and homelike on a dark night beneath the cold creeping stars and the pale glimpses of a crescent moon. Along the Swindon road the dark shadows might seem to shelter highwaymen; and it might be gibbeted bones that so dance and rattle in the wind amongst the wayside trees.

The Coxwells are proud of their gravel; the lane is bordered with a path of it; and a similar path is prepared for you across a meadow into Little Coxwell. At the end of it you surmount the crest of the hill, and there is the church of St. Mary, with what a noble view to the great Berkshire "mountains" in the south! It is a loveable little building, recalling Binsey I think; with a fine late Norman two bell turret crowned with a cross. Two curious built up lights of different sizes flank the east window; and the organ stands on a gallery at the west end; you go up to it by a stairway built in the wall. There is a very plain Norman font, and the chancel arch is very early and narrow, with square pillars slanting inwards. You may be interested in some wood carving upon the organ loft and choir stalls.

From here I went to see the Coles Pits. What I had read of in the Archaeologia as being in 1784 "half a mile west" of the village I found to be a good mile east; and the flies were nefarious! And the "field of fourteen acres" has become a thickly wooded mound very difficult to scramble through. You climb the steep ascent through brambles and nettles, and suddenly the ground drops again, and beneath you extends one of these cuplike hollows, like the lair of a huge ant-lion; the king pit and the rest. They were the habitations, or perhaps merely the hiding-holes, of ancient Britons. Lysons gives a description of them; but I think they must have been enlarged since his time; where he says feet I discerned yards. There are said to have been no less than two hundred and seventy-three separate pits.

Southward to the main line at Uffington runs a road well featured for summer beauty, though I know it only beneath the dreary driving rain of a November day. You climb over Furze Hill; where within a yard of ascending the road begins to descend again, so sharply defined is the narrow crest. A little further on is Fernham, with a small modern church, and the Woodman inn where they lit a fire to dry my clothes and found me hot food for mere pence; so often do the kind Berkshire folk do far more for you than you pay them for. May the day never come when under such a sky one has to rely upon the cold mercies of a coffee palace! At Fernham they have, or recently had, a curiously happy custom: that the village children should attend the church school on Sunday mornings, and the chapel school in the afternoons.

Just beyond I crossed, by a farm in a little hollow, the River Ock, gushing eastwards to the Thames at Abingdon, twelve miles distant as the crow flies.

Radcot Bridge Radcot [new] Bridge in WTSWG; Radcot [old] Bridge; Swan Inn at Radcot

One of Peacock's best invented passages is, I think:

But thou art sweet, my native stream!
Thy waves in liquid lustre play,
And glitter in the morning beam,
And chime to rest the closing day.
While the vast mountain's dizzy steep
The whirlwind's eddying rage assails,
The gentlest zephyrs softly sweep
The verdure of thy sheltered vales
While o'er the wild and whitening seas
The unbridled north triumphant roars,
Thy stream scarce ripples in the breeze,
That bends the willow on thy shores.

Idyllic indeed: but the poet might have written less caressingly had he spent the dark hours in my boat one wild August night as I lay by the Swan at Radcot, and wondered whether the Southwest would hurl some elms across me first, or break my mooring lines that strained and jerked so unceasingly at their knots. You get wild grey water, you get wind as iron that rings, here by Thames as truly as beside the sea.

Just against the Swan, almost a mile beyond the lock, Radcot Bridge crosses the River, which is here divided into two streams. You navigate under a single arch, an extension built in 1787 across the new cut, and so inconvenient to negotiate cleanly that many a steersman has here in mere seconds lost the sedulously acquired reputation of a lifetime. The old stream is not now used by ordinary traffic, though far better accommodated with an ancient bridge of three more or less pointed arches, over the central one of which a cross was once to be seen, on the eastern side. Only the socket is now left, with the old lead still in it. A Lechlade man told me that in quite recent memory babies were often baptized in this socket. The western parapet displays a flat central plinth, as though something had perhaps stood there also. The Victoria History says Radcot Bridge was probably built in 1200; and Cox in his Magna Britannia that it was "a good deal older than Richard II," who was born in 1366. He refers to the "great causeway said to be seen hereabouts, leading to Friar Bacon's study in Oxford, made by Robert d'Oiley in the time of William the Conqueror. " This causeway is elsewhere mentioned as being visible near Faringdon. The dates favour my own strong belief, that this is the oldest original bridge work left across the Thames, and that New Bridge was so entitled in respect of it.

It has had its stirring moments. Stephen crossed here, possibly with some fighting, in 1142; and its next appearance in written history is as the scene of a battle in 1387 between Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford and Duke of Ireland, favourite of Richard II, and the Earl of Derby, afterwards Henry IV, with the other lords allied against de Vere. The king's champion was defeated, and only escaped capture by swimming his horse across the narrow stream.

Thy copious waters hold their way
Tow'rds Radcote's arches, old and grey,
Where triumphed erst the rebel host,
When hapless Richard's hopes were lost
And Oxford sought, with humbled pride,
Existence from thy guardian tide.

Ashmole says that on this occasion the bridge was "broke down by the Earl of Derby"; and adds that it was in the parish of Langford (of Berkshire but in Oxfordshire) in his time. Stow is well worth reading in full for his dramatic account of the stern old fight. "The Duke of Ireland rode forth in stately and glorious array with the army of five thousand men, thinking none durst have encountered him. Nevertheless in the vigill of Saint Thomas the Apostle, when he came to Radcote bridge in Oxfordshire, which bridge if he could have passed, he had bin out of danger, sodainly he beheld the host of the Lordes tarrying his comming in the midst of the valley, with which sight his heart straight waies failed and he said, friends I must fly, for a greater puissance seemeth to be yonder, against you they have no quarrell, so that I being shifted away, ye shall escape well ynough. " But stout Thomas Moleneux, his captain,"prepared himself for the battle, and being wearied after fighting entered the River. Among other Sir Thomas Martimer knight exhorted him to com up, or else he would shoote him through in the river: if I do come up saith Thomas Moleneux, wilt thou save my life? I do make no such promise (saith hee) but eyther come up, or thou shalt straight die for it. To whom hee answered, suffer me to come up and let me fight eythey with thee or some other, and die like a man. As hee came up, the knight caught him by the helmet, and plucked it off his head, and straightwaies with his dagger struck him into the braines. " De Vere "dyed at Louvaine in great anguish of mind, and miserable penury, which young gentleman was apt to all offices of worthinesse, if in his childhoode hee had not wanted discipline. " Killed by a wild boar, say some.

In a lilting old poem of 1388, On the Times (of whose couplets beware, for their ironic humour and delight may sometimes beguile you unawares from serious matters), the fugitives are referred to under veiled names

Good Jake, qwere is thi Jon?
ubi gratia nunc requiescit?
Jake, now grace is gon,
ad regna remota recessit;
Jake nobil with hvm ys,
iter insimul arripuerunt;
Of bothe ys gret mys,
illos multi modo quaerunt.

Jake is de Vere, and Jake nobil is probably Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, his companion in exile; who has one of the rare surviving wooden effigies, and his wife another, in Wingfield church in Suffolk, under the date 1415.

Another account I came across in the Harleian Miscellany, originally printed in 1641 by one Thomas Fannant, Clerk, hardly reads like a description of the same event, but is worth reprinting, much condensed, as a curiosity. "The duke of Ireland, under the guidance of his grand captain the devil, marched towards London with his army. The appellants being suddenly advertised thereof, raised a power, and marched with long and wearisome marches into a field, near a village called Whitney, at a place called Lockford-Bridge;

[Fred, in his Additions and Corrections, adds: Perhaps meaning "Langford-Bridge," the name having been misunderstood by Fannant, and Radcot being in that parish. ]

in which field the duke of Ireland was with the army, having a river on the one side of them, and displaying the king's standard, contrary to the laws of the land. But when they saw the army of the appellants march down from the mountains like a hive of bees, and with such a violent fury, fear benumbed them, that when they should have given the assault they stood like a hive of bees, and a few being slain and some drowned in the river, gave an easy victory to the conquerors. The duke of Ireland himself, putting spurs to his horse, took the river and hardly escaped. " Thomas Fannant, Clerk, his choice of similes seems to have been no more extensive than his knowledge of the countryside.

There was another fight here during the Civil War, when Prince Rupert repulsed some Puritan horse who had arrived to help contain some king's men holding the bridge as an outpost of Faringdon House on the height two miles southward.

Cromwell himself fought a skirmish here in April, 1645, on his way from Bampton to Faringdon, taking Colonels Littleton and Vaughan prisoners. The signs of his entrenchments are said to be still traceable, though I have not seen them.

The River here is very deep, and said to abound with fish. Great elms cool and beautify the cots and meadows around the bridge, which runs practically north and south. All the stone for the inner walls of St. Paul's Cathedral was, they say, brought hither by road from the Lenthalls' Upton quarries at Burford, and here shipped on rafts for London. It is not many of its fellows that I would exchange with this little bridge of Radcot for its joy to the eye. Built wonderfully with strength for its destiny, the old makers fashioned it a miniature of beauty. Why the navigation was diverted from it I cannot think; the new stream winds as much as the old; perhaps it was by reason of the narrowness of its arches, though neither Abingdon nor New Bridge can boast of much more room. Seen from a short eastward distance, under morning sunlight, silver grey against the dark green foliage, it leaves its own intimate impression of pathetic charm that will not be forgotten.


By a charming lane into Oxfordshire you may come in a mile and a half from Radcot to the village of Clanfield. You pass Radcot Grange, an alluring Tudor house. What poet thought to cut that lovely oval window, with its Perpendicular dripstone, in one of the lofty gables? Possibly Cromwell's entrenchments, if they still survive, are to be seen in the meadows just here; there is a mead called "the garrison," bordering upon a side stream, which is perhaps the very spot. During the siege of the Grange in May, 1645, a grenade split a tower, and "made fearful work, sending it several ways, and at last, falling into the cellar, let out all their beer"!

A little way into Clanfield a curious circular erection arrests you, like nothing more than a Martello or an Irish round tower. It is, however, only a disused windmill stript of its sails. Next you see a venerable elm against the pathway, whose gnarled and bossy trunk must be full thirty feet round, but is not upright like the Fyfield tree. Beyond are some hideous red brick cottages: why will people rear such things amongst the grey Cotswold stone and the gold-lichened roofs, and label them Coronation Cottages, 1887? They jar hideously upon the sense; and the crimsons and yellows and blues of the little gardens are killed with the discord, bloom they never so bravely.

The parish at its creation in the thirteenth century was in the diocese of Lincoln; and the abbess of Helenstowe was in 1278 granted the care of it, and was to provide the priest. This Helenstowe was a nunnery founded about the year 690 by a lady named Cilia, sister of Mr. Belloc's mythical Cissa, on the spot where St. Helen's church at Abingdon now stands. It got transplanted later to Wytham; under circumstances somewhat obscure.

St. Stephen's church is imposing for so small a village. It is of Early English work, unless the south inner door, with traces of an old sundial in the tympanum, point to some surviving Norman strain. Inside it is quite handsome and beautifully kept. There is an unusually large hagioscope and a good Decorated east window. On the southeastern angle of the tower is a curious figure nearly life size, surmounted with a Decorated canopy; some old saint or other I guessed. The landlord of the Bell, at Langford, afterwards told me it represents St. Stephen, the patron saint. He holds in one hand the stones of his martyrdom, and in the other a missal, though ever since the Reformation they have called it a Bible. In the chancel are some interesting brasses newly mounted on oak; and on the west front is a tablet curiously reminiscent of Stanton Harcourt, inscribed to "James Joy and Robert Cross killed by lightning while at work side by side in the field Aug. 9, 1843."

There was once a priory here, with a moat fed by a diverted tributary of the Thames. It was a house of the Knights Hospitallers, with a garden, dovecote and crofts, where resided only the preceptor with two servants. I could not hear of any remains of it now existing; though perhaps it stood where the house called Friars' Court now is at the south end of the village; or it may have been the admirable High House in the village itself. A pleasant by-lane leads from the back of the church to Langford, if you choose to go that way; a mere track bordered with a little stream and greensward and thickets, parallel with the Clump and the Berkshire Ridge.

Great Coxwell

Tithe Barn Great Coxwell
The Tithe Barn, Great Coxell.
Photograp by Arnold Fairbairns.

Southward into Berkshire from Radcot Bridge a fine, well shaded road leads through Faringdon onward to Great Coxwell. I once chanced to follow it upon a market day, and fell into company with a lad who was driving into the town a handful of sheep and a cow with her white bull calf. After I had watched his strategy with these reluctant beasts for some time he broke out into a fine sarcasm. "They reckuns this a marnin' off for me, my pipple does! Bin on the road since three o'clock this marnin', and only come five mile! " Less than a mile an hour it worked out; and as he tried in the heat with one hand to prevent the cow from butting the sheep too violently from her calf, and with the other to keep the thirsty, harried flock heading the right way, I thought it would be an illuminating change of employment for those town folk who are fond of assuring their rural friends that they "don't know what work is. "

Once through Faringdon the road over the side of Badbury Hill becomes steep, and glaring in the summer heat; infested too on market days with motor dust and smell. So that one is glad to turn down the little lane that leads to Great Coxwell in its green hollow. "The king," says 'Domesday,"holds Cocheswelle in demesne. Harold held it. " Ashmole calls it Coxhulle. The famous tithe barn here is a gigantic old place, one hundred and forty-eight feet by forty, and thirty feet high in the centre, looking all its size from the knoll above, and also when you are standing before it; but curiously a little dwindled as you approach it in the lane. There are transepts and buttresses and Early English doorways to it, for all the world like a church; and it stands almost north and south. Built of stone, with mossy stone tiled roof, it was erected quite early in the thirteenth century by its original owners, Beaulieu Abbey south in Hampshire, as a storehouse for the tithes paid in by the neighbouring farmers. Not a nail was used in the joining of the roof timbers, all being pegged with wood. The ancient broadshouldered place was greatly admired by William Morris, who "always upheld it as one of the finest buildings in England, or in the world. " The Ely people used to say of their great tithe barn that it was the biggest in the country, save one; the exception being perhaps the old barn at Cholsey, it and Ely's both gone, whose measurements Lysons gives as fifty-one feet high, fifty-four broad, and actually three hundred and three in length. From some old papers in the Guildhall Library I find the Coxwell barn used to be known as King John's Stable. Quite possibly it was tenanted by the "Willm morys" who lies in the church.

Years ago I can remember," said the sturdy yeoman who shewed me the interior (and I never saw eyes brighter or browner than his),"they had everything cleared out, and the floor boarded, and stalls put up for a bazaar and dance. And didn't I joomp about; I reckun I did joost joomp about! " "The owls live up in the south gable, but you can't hardly ever see 'urn," he added, in his soft slow speech; and the owls in the south gable, as I peered up in the dim light, had all the effect upon me of the milestones on the Dover road. There is an interesting note on tithe in A Cotswold Village. "The vicar's man went into the cornfields and placed a bough in every tenth 'stook'; then the tithemen came with the parson's horses and took the stuff away to the barn. The tithe for every cock in the yard was three eggs; for every hen, two. Besides poultry, pigs and sheep the parson had a right to his share of the milk, and even of the cheeses that were made in his parish. " Is it not Miss Hayden who tells a story of a tenth baby being paid in to parson's keeping, and accepted?

Near the barn is an old farmhouse which the same family has inhabited, they say, for centuries. The church of St. Giles is at the other end of the village, standing on a bluff overlooking the Vale of White Horse. It is a plain little place, with its original oak door still in use; and preserves an ancient carved pulpit of wood, close to which are the old rood loft stairs, not boarded up. A man and his wife lie side by side under the midst of the nave; their undated brasses all that are left visible of them; Parker places them about 1500.

Here lieth Willm morys sutyme fermer of Cokyswelle
on whose soule Jhu have mercy. amen

Here lieth Johane the wyf of Willm morys
on whose soule Jhu have mercy, amen

That is all!

"When You and I behind the Veil are past,
Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last,
Which of our Coming and Departure heeds
As the Sea's self should heed a pebble-cast.

One or two of the antiquaries mention remains of a Cistercian monastery in the neighbourhood. This probably was the cell built by Beaulieu to superintend the tithe barn when King John granted them the manor in 1205. Lewis, writing seventy years ago, says "it is now a farmhouse"; perhaps the one against the tithe barn. There has been a continuous industry of quarrying "sponge gravel" at Great Coxwell the last two hundred years, which still exists. It is of a quality much used for garden paths, being of a bright colour and preserving a dry surface in the wettest weather.

You may get back to Radcot by various scrambly field and woodside paths and the Eaton Hastings bridle road, but it was with me, my only time of trying, a case of "the shortest way round the longest way home"; and the wise villagers do well to endeavour to dissuade you.

Grafton Lock; Grafton Lock in WTSWG

About three quarters of a mile above Radcot the upward course of the River makes a big bend from southwest to northeast, called Hell's Turn. Is this the true original of the village of Heighton, which Fearnside says borders the Thames hereabouts? Or did he mean Eaton(Hastings)? I know no other explanation; there is no village of the name he mentions. Nor could I discover the remains of a weir, perhaps Day's, which Taunt marks between the latter village and Grafton lock. Once through this lock, perhaps itself on the site of Day's weir, and a mile above Radcot Bridge, the River becomes very beautiful, particularly the Berkshire bank, with many charming little bends and willowed shores. The stream itself is deep and clear and strong, and here and there surprisingly broad.

Eaton Hastings, Eaton Hastings in WTSWG,

Upon such surroundings the little solitary church of Eaton Hastings looks down from its grassy hillock close beside the stream. Its name in Domesday is Etona. It was built when the Pointed was blending with the Norman, and is dedicated, being upon a knoll of sorts, to St. Michael and All Angels. Its east window is said to be by William Morris. It endured restoration in 1874, and contains nothing that leaps very suddenly to the eye, unless perhaps its ancient font with the enormously massive plinth, and an old carved pulpit very like the one at Great Coxwell. I call it solitary; for though there are one or two farm buildings near, what village there is lies a long mile away inland. Someone seems to have called Eaton Hastings "the capital of the Eaton district"; it is a greater compliment to the village, than to its dependencies. A capital should be more handsomely equipped, for example, than with a mere baking powder box in which to post one's letters. But that notwithstanding, it is a lovely walk I shall not forget, up the rising meadow road from the River, faced by the hanging Eaton woods, with Lechlade spire soaring skyward in the purple valley in the west.

At a bend in the River not far above here I came one summer afternoon upon a charming pastoral; a bevy of girls bathing in the cool gentle stream. They stood in water up to their white shoulders as I passed, I remembering Actaeon. . .

Hart's Weir [ since 1936 - Eaton Footbridge ]; Eaton Footbridge in WTSWG

The one real adventure of River life still survives at Hart's weir; and for many years may it flourish with its white rymers and paddles, and fresh tumbling water filling the air all day long with murmurous sound. It may be identical with the old Lower Farmer's weir, and folks still call it Eaton weir; well for distinction when Ark weir by Bablock Hithe was called Hart's, and another Hart's lock stood above Pangbourne. It lies twenty-eight miles from Folly Bridge, next the pleasant little Anchor inn; which, viewed from the meadows below under summer evening light, presents the softest imaginable grouping of mossy roof and feathery willow; breathing in the lemon clearness of sunset the same note of pathetic and secluded beauty as Pinkhill.

The weeping willow droops to lave
Its leafy tresses in the wave
The poplar and the towering pine
Their hospitable shade combine;
And, flying like the flying day,
The silent river rolls away.

Kindly lame old Jordan, as I have said, helped voyagers over the weir for twelve summers, but in 1906 he had retired and gone to Great Coxwell, and a younger man had his place, whom I once helped to chase some refractory ducks, Indian runners he called them, back home to the weir. Your lightened boat is pulled over with a rope, going upstream; and shoots through all aboard going down, guided by a pole from the bank, with an exhilarating swirl that sweeps you far away before you can get your sculls out. There has never been a fall deeper than about eighteen inches, when I have been there. Mr. Taunt amusingly relates how "one winter, when lying on my back in the boat to get through this weir, I scraped a fair amount of skin off my nose and face, through contact with the bridge whilst going under," the water at such times being of course very high, with scarcely any fall.

Kelmscott; Kelmscott in WTSWG

[ Fred call it "Kelmscot" - the modern version is "Kelmscott"]

The Manor House, Kelmscott
The Manor House, Kelmscott.
Photograph by Holbrook Jackson

Half a mile of meadows lies between Hart's weir and Oxfordshire Kelmscot,"a delightful and quaint little hamlet," it is true, but always a little ramshackle. William Morris took its name for his printing press; lived in its lovely manor house from 1871 till his death, and is buried under a pathetic long low canopy shaped stone in the southeast corner of its churchyard. All that it tells of him is his name and the years of his birth and departure. At least they might have bitten deeper into the stone.

Grave of William Morris
Grave of William Morris, Kelmscott Churchyard.
Photograph by Holbrook Jackson

What did he write, with a note characteristic of so much of his poetry, though so little of his strenuous life?

Death have we hated, knowing not what it meant;
Life have we loved, through green leaf and through sere,
Though still the less we knew of its intent:
The Earth and Heaven through countless year on year,
Slow changing were to us but curtains fair,
Hung round about a little room, where play
Weeping and laughter of man's little day.

A grey romantic old place is the manor house, but so surrounded with high walls that the wayfarer gets but the scantiest glimpses of it. Mr. Leslie has referred to it in his Letters to Marco: "I never saw an old house so lovingly and tenderly fitted up and cared for as this one; and the way in which the original beauties had been preserved was indeed a lesson to be remembered. The floors were beautifully clean, the old boards by no means disguised or disfigured with stains or varnish, and with right sort of mats and carpets where wanted. Morris took us up into the attics, where he delighted in descanting on the old woodwork displayed in the trussing and staying of the roof timbers. We paid a visit to the garden, and on one hedge, a clipped yew, was the form of a dragon which Morris had amused himself by gradually developing with the clipper. " I had the great privilege, in 1907, of being conducted over the house by Mrs. Morris herself, the theme of illustrious painters. Tall and erect, clad wholly in white, with soft and cream white hair, she led us with the gentlest courtesy through the rooms where the Socialist poet and craftsman lived and worked. We saw his faded chintzes and the tapestry of his own weaving; his one picture which, not satisfying him, convinced him that he had no message for the world that way; and we saw the wonderful old timbers and the white scoured floors in the attics of which Leslie wrote. The orchard with its gnarled, bent apple trees and ancient turf was as the poet left it eleven years before; and the clipped yews still retained the forms he gave them. The venerable, beautiful lady's ambition, indeed, had been to preserve everything, even the very species of flowers in the garden beds, as nearly as possible as he was accustomed to see them.

Mr. and Mrs. Morris were both very interested in the Morys brasses in Great Coxwell church, both names being identical with their own; and a rubbing hangs in one of the rooms. The house was first built about 1570, and had a new wing added as the Gothic was yielding to the classical revival, as you may see in the windows. Close by is a grand old barn; and a house in the village built only in 1906 bears a mural sculpture representing Morris gazing upon the orchard and gables of his house. The base of a cross still stands in its ancient place.

The church of St. George is most interesting, of transitional Norman work, with a greater interior spaciousness than appears likely from without. Some of the windows display the graceful cinquefoiled inner arches that are so charming at Bampton. The workmen in those times, so extolled of Morris, had a free scope in the details of decoration, and they have left some excellent and well varied stiff-stalk foliage on the nave capitals. The font is of the ancient tub pattern.

You may read in Skelton how that, at the consecration of the churchyard in 1429, people were invited to the ceremony by a public instrument signed by all the bishops then in England; and a forty days' indulgence was promised, either for attendance at the time, or for any subsequent due observance of the festival of St. George.

Penelope Goodenough lies beneath the south transept floor, with her two little children. Her brass is dated 1671, and is headed with a skull and crossbones for the mother, and a tiny set for each of the babes.

Here lies her husbands joy, her friends delight,
Her sexes glory overcast with night,
Pattern of motherly love, who loath to leave
Her infants, followd them ev'n to their grave.
But yet the grave her vertues cannot shrowd
They still shine bright like the sun through a cloud.
Think not, fraile brass life to her name to give,
Thou by Her memory must hope to live.

On the outer wall of the south porch are three faintly discernible sundials, evidently engraved one above another as the trees grew taller and shut out the sun. None of them is of the least use now, as the shade of the foliage covers them all.

If ever you come hither from Lechlade it is a two or three mile walk through winding lanes and meadow paths. You will cross the fresh glassy Lech at Lechlade mill; whose neighbour, a lovely old house, it will be a long delight to you to remember.


By willow wood and water-wheel
Speedily floats my touching keel;
By all retired and shady spots
Where prosper dim forget-me-nots.

THE hottest thing in Oxfordshire on an efficient August day is the three mile road from Kelmscot to Langford. It leads over what the maps deceptively call Grafton Common, now all enclosed and under cultivation; and in place of the breezes and gorse you expect the reality is the white and dusty looseness of an Oxfordshire by-lane and the sun with his will of you most of the way. And such a day upon such a road makes you wonder if the milestones still stand by the old Oxfordshire measurement. Dr. Plot says that before his time there had been three sorts of miles in the county,"the greater, lesser, and middle"; and that the middle had grown to be the "true Oxfordshire miles"; each of which, be assured, costs you nine and a quarter furlongs of walking.

Langford Church
Langford Church.
Pencil drawing by Helen R. Lock

Langford looks out cool and inviting from stately trees as you cross the railway bridge and see the tower of the church overtopping them, with its saddle-back roof, the stern, crouching ancestor of the spire. An interesting manuscript in the vestry is anxious to have the building an inheritance from the Saxon architects; but the tower is buttressed, there is no long and short work, nor any barrel pillars in the belfry windows. Early Norman must define its age, one thinks. Authorities appear to differ as to its true dedication, whether to St. Mary or St. Matthew. The weight of opinion, however, inclines to the latter, especially as the village feast falls on or near his festival on September 21st. St. Mary was, however, certainly a very favourite dedication amongst these churches. The south porch arrests the eye with its wonderful "Anglo-Saxon crucifix of the Winchester style" carved upon its front outer wall, of which Mr. Hutton writes so enthusiastically in By Thames and Cotswold.
[ In Additions and Corrections Fred adds: In a cave at Cratcliff Rocks in Derbyshire is a rock-hewn crucifix: the work of a hermit, they say. ]
Romsey has the only other equal example in England; the one at Sherborne Abbey in Dorsetshire seems not nearly so sublime, to judge from an engraving. There is a second carving of three figures on the side of the porch, little less remarkable. It is a marvellous spectacle, this sculpture hidden away upon the wall of a small obscure country church; a vision more exalting, more mystically beautiful, than any other work of man in all this part of the River country.

Carvings langford Church
The two Crucifixes and doorway, Langford Church.
Pen and ink drawings by Charles J.Beadon.

On the second storey of the south face of the tower the figures of two men are cut in low relief, dressed in kilts, supporting over their heads a flat semi-circular disc. The axis of the church is a considerable number of degrees north of true east, it is said; an example of an interesting subject: the erroneous orientation of so many sacred buildings. "Churches dedicated to saints whose festivals are near Midsummer and Christmas differed considerably in their orientation," says a recent writer; owing, of course, to the old architects having built by the sun, whose rise at these dates varies from E. N. E. to E. S. E. respectively. In some extreme instances the supposed "eastward position," the cause of so much acrimonious discussion, has been found to be actually due west! Some apologists, however, boldly assert that chancels were often intentionally deflected from true east, so as to face the point where the sun actually rises on the particular saint's day. Aubrey has a note: "When a church was to be built, they watched and prayed on the vigil of the dedication, and took the point of the horizon where the sun arose for the east, so that few stand true except those built between the two equinoxes."

The gentle punning epitaph of the Howse family is worth repeating:

Within this Little Howse Three howses Lye
John Howse, James Howse, the short lived twinns & I
Anne of John Howse once ye endeared wife
Who lost mine owne to give those babes their life.
We three though dead yet speak and put in mind
the Husband Father whome wee left behind
that we were howses only made of clay
and Called for could no Longer with Him stay
but were Layd Here to take our Rest and Ease
By death who taketh whome and where he please

At the entrance to the churchyard the lower part of an ancient cross is preserved. The village and parish were at least until 1847 an isolated appanage of Berkshire; a relic of the time, no doubt, when the manor was owned by some proprietor in that county, perhaps the abbey at Faringdon, who had influence enough to keep it under his own civil jurisdiction. I unearthed the ghost of an old trouble in the village nearly a hundred years ago, when the Reverend John William Peters felt compelled to resign his living and secede from the Church. He thereupon in 1834 wrote and printed a Letter to his parishioners, which the public were advised on the title page could be purchased at such and such address,"and of all other respectable booksellers in the kingdom. " Therein he confesses that for sixteen years he had been a blind leader of the blind; "engrossed by the pursuit of criminal pleasures", which turn out to be mere hunting, shooting, and fishing! He had discovered the Church of England to be unscriptural, and decides on many pages of now discoloured paper to abandon his charge. I wonder if the "General chapel" grew out of this rupture, mentioned as existing in 1847,"at which all sects were allowed to preach." Indeed, Nonconformist services began in a barn as early as 1840. Whether Mr. Peters remained to conduct them I have not discovered.

The fine, soldierly old landlord of the Bell lamented to me the slow but certain decay of these villages. "Our church," he exclaimed,"was never built for so tiny a place as we are now! " He attributed it to the dying state of agriculture, upon which all or most of these communities are entirely dependent. "Agriculture is out of fashion," said he; "and are these small holdings going to bring it back?"

Little Faringdon

Little Faringdon Mill
Little Faringdon Mill.
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J. Beadon.

A short two miles southwest from Langford lies charming Little Faringdon, the origin of whose name seems to be on this wise. King John gave his lands in the parish of Langford, which were situated at the spot now called Little Faringdon, to Beaulieu, while they were building their church at Faringdon. They immediately set their architect to work rearing one here on a similar plan, and probably through this connection between the two places the little village acquired its name, and also, with Langford and the whole surrounding district, its long affiliation to Berkshire.

Every house in the little place, large or small, old or newly building, is a picture or a promise of beauty. In the midst stands its tiny towerless church, restored in 1883, with a two bell turret at the west end, and a Decorated chancel arch whose supporting columns are undeniably out of the vertical. The chancel is lighted with two lancet openings; and most of the windows are widely splayed. like distant Yarnton it has some fascinating little patches of ancient painted glass; some let into the windows, some lying about loose in their leads. Two or three bear Dutch or German wording; one I copied as nearly as possible; the Norman arch over it, previously built up, was cleared at the restoration. The subject of the picture is the Baptism in the Jordan, and the inscription runs:

Inscription Little Farindon Church

Other pieces portray another Baptism in the Jordan, dated 1681; the Virgin and Child; and the Agony in the Garden. They are all the remains of glass removed from some much damaged windows in quite modern times to make room for a new light. Is the figure in the shield a variant of that ancient symbol the svastika, sacred to the god of fire? It has been found amongst the ruins of Troy; and it is on the oldest brass in England: a representation, say some, of the Islands of the Hesperides. I had an idea that these Teutonic fragments might be connected with the Fairford glass; perhaps an overflow from it. Unfortunately the dates do not fit; Tame's glass was all in place before 1500. The close neighbourhood, however, is interesting. There is also, amongst the glass, a curious shield of the royal arms surrounded with the Garter, which is probably the shield of Arthur, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VII. This stands against one of the north chancel windows. At the restoration the Norman font was restored to its place in the church, having for fifty years lain cast out and forgotten behind some sheds.

Until 1864 the parish was included in that of Langford. The lane westward shews even in winter possibilities of quiet summer beauty, bordered with trees that overhang an old grey wall. Further along, the road, bending southwards, crosses the Lech stream, beyond which is Lechlade and all Gloucestershire. Leaning over the little bridge you may contemplate an old mill, some lichened cottages, and a fall of white foaming water that adds its musical note of life to the scene the unforgettable close for me of a February tramp through this inexhaustible River country, whose heart no man will ever fully explore.

Buscot; Buscot Lock in WTSWG

Above Hart's weir the River scenery grows very beautiful again towards Buscot, Boroardescote in Domesday. There were formerly one or two weirs between Hart's and Buscot, but I could discover no remains of them except, conjecturally, their pools. You pass along here the site of an immense factory where spirit was once distilled from beet root; all dismantled now, the business not having proved remunerative. This lock usually has to be worked by the voyager himself, as only one man is allotted for St. John's and it, and he is commonly at St. John's. I have never seen him at Buscot, yet he says he goes there thrice a day. I wonder if this is the weir once called Farmer's.

Just beyond is Buscot church; now behind, now before you, round these bends. It has an elaborately carved lychgate with playful little Perpendicularities let in wherever they would go. Within the church is the most unsymmetrical chancel arch ever built, one would think, richly carved with Norman zigzag and other mouldings. But whether it were intended for a round or a pointed arch only the architect knew, and perhaps not even he. At the western end, however, is one of the most exquisitely proportioned Early English arches my eyes were ever delighted with. There is a memorial to Doctor Walter Hungerford, who died in 1681, a member of that great family of whom I will tell you much later on; a great grandson of that Sir Edmund who founded their Down Amney branch. It is a plain slate slab, inscribed

Here lyeth interr'd the body of Walter Hungerford
Dr of Divinity Decd the 10th of November ano Dom 1681

The font is old and bowlshaped. A Mr. Parry was deprived of his living here by Queen Mary, for being a married man and favouring the Protestant religion.

Quite recently, since I was last in the church, there has been presented a rather notable pulpit made from a credence of the early sixteenth century, containing three panels: the Adoration of the Three Kings, the Annunciation, and the Virgin and Child, painted by Mabuse, very delicate and beautiful. You will observe that Balthazar, being black, has yet white legs. This Mabuse was in reality Jan Gossaert, born in 1470, who took his professional name, after the manner of the divine Palestrina and other men, from the place of his birth, the Low Country town of Malbeuge on the Sambre, about five miles within the French border; upon whose fate under siege the whole fortune of the French Revolution at one moment depended. Its title he adopted, latinised into Malbodius, and so arrived at Mabuse and a dozen other forms employed in turn as the whim took him; though his masterpiece, the Adoration of the Magi, now or recently at Castle Howard, is signed with his natural name. He came very young into England, and seems to have been well received at court. "Plusieurs bàtards de la maison de Bourgogne ont été les protecteurs de Gossaert." One story about him records that while staying at a certain nobleman's house the Emperor Charles V was announced. Amongst other strenuous preparations in honour of the illustrious guest the host had all his household dressed in white silk damask. Gossaert, being in his not unusual state of "gousset dégarni," found some difficulty in providing himself with this expensive material; and it was expected that he would fall into some public disgrace. But when the time came for defiling before the imperial visitor all eyes were dazzled. "Jamais on ne vit damas pareil!". Yielding to some curiosity of the emperor's his host caused him to sit down by them, when the gorgeous costume was easily discerned to be of paper, upon which the artist had painted festoons of flowers. But he was a notable man, for all that: "un de ces esprits hardis et créateurs, qui, s'affranchissant du joug des traditions, se crént un genre à eux et font révolution dans leur art."

Buscot Waterwheeel

By the lock there is a grim black waterwheel always turning, turning; its murmur and aspect refreshing on a hot day. Loitering here summer evenings, amongst the dreamy orchards and the gliding streams of this remote northwest corner of Berkshire, one can almost overhear Miss Hayden's native lovers. They had been sitting silent for some time, and " 'John, ' quoth she, 'why doesn't 'ee say summat? ' John reflected. ''Cause I ha'n't got nothen to say, ' he replied. There was silence; and once more it was the woman who began. 'John, ' she enquired tenderly, 'why doesn't 'ee tell ma that thee loves ma?' 'Cause I've telled 'ee that afoor,' answered John. But the lady was tenacious of her privileges and not easily daunted. 'John,' she asked for the third time, 'why doesn't 'ee gimma a kiss?' The tardy wooer pondered long. 'I be gwine to presen'ly,' he said at length." And the historian fled.

Buscot is a small and scattered village, with one excellent little group of gables and dovecote in old red brick and gold brown roof; close under which one morning I asked a woman chopping wood for her fire where the inn was. Thorne had attracted me "the little inn has flowers and grapes growing all over it," he wrote in 1847. But she said it was "right down below"; and I left her and turned southward to Coleshill; it is ill gazing at inns when you do not intend to drink.

The shoulder of the hill I climbed out of Buscot is interesting as marking a temporary break in the northern Berkshire Ridge, that pleasant chain of little hills of which Cumner height and Harrowdown are more easterly points. You get fine wide prospects as you ascend Buscot Park eastwards, whose lake I have not seen, Highworth church and Lush Hill in the southwest, Lechlade spire behind you, and out of the west the River winding in.


You drop to the level again over the rise; and then by another and beautifully wooded hill, one of the steepest in this countryside, you go up into Coleshill. On the left before you begin the ascent they say three sides of a moat are visible, where the old Pleydell mansion once stood. Every house in Coleshill is a joy to look upon. The church of St. Faith is quite the fullest of strangeness, apart from its beauty, of all these River churches. There are the Coleshill House high-backed pews, which fill the south transept. Behind them on the wall is fixed a brass:

for the sowles
Thomas Pleydell
Isabella his Mother
Agnes his Wyfe
Rose his daughter
William his Father
and all crysten sowiles

On the east wall of the transept is an enormous brass containing an incredible amount of matter; amongst other things how that this transept, together with " two Gothick arches" near, forms the remains of the "Ancient Chappel of Thomas Pleydell founded by him about 1499 for the interment of his family." It contains one most magnificent little sentence:

Si in Eos, quos speramus nobis profuturos, non dubitamus officia confcrre;
Quales in eos esse debemus qui Iam profuerunt?

His body was to be buried "bytwyxt Agnes my Wyfe & Rose my Daughter in ye Northe syde of ye newe Chapell of ye Salutation of our blessed Ladye edyfyed by me." He died in 1527; and gave "yerely ten marks to an honest & well dysposed Prest to syng & pray for my Sowll," and for the souls of his beloved dead. Considering the times,"honest & well dysposed" seems a cautious and a pregnant stipulation.

The south entrance into the church is a handsome trefoil arch of stone, within which is an ancient wooden arch of the same shape, but taller; and the door itself is trefoil-headed. Over the porch, and looking down into the House pew, is a little gallery, to which a stairway leads from a door in the nave.

The church to which Thomas Pleydell added his Salutation chapel must have been much older than he. The pillars on which his transept arch rest have a round abacus, above which is carved on the capitals what looks interestingly like a primitive attempt at stiff-stalk foliage done with an axe edge, if such a production be not an anachronism; it is very irregular and shallow, and may date the original building back to before 1200.

The chancel arch does not rest upon pillars, but dies into the wall. Within the chancel are many Bouverie-Pleydell memorials, particularly a fine Decorated altar tomb on the north side; an unusual design for its date, the middle of the eighteenth century. Opposite is some most excellent sculpture, commemorating the "Honorable prudent & pious Sr. Henry Pratt, who by God's providence acquired ye eminence of sheriffe & alderman of London & dignity of knight and baronet. Hee lived 75 yeares & deceased ye 6 day of Aprill 1647, Pheenix Moriendo reviviscit. " He leans on his elbow upon a black marble slab; and upon a lower slab is the recumbent effigy of, I suppose, his wife. It is refreshing to observe the entire absence of convention in the sculpture of these figures, carved, you will notice, within a few years of the Straung monument at Somerford Keynes, of which I write later. The man's is a strong square head of the Cromwell type, the woman older looking and thin lipped; a face of character, hers also.

To accompany the strange mingling of Gothic and classical in the chancel, the east window is quatrefoil, beneath a round arch. It is filled with a Nativity in glass that pleased me, brought from Angers in 1787. The Babe lies in very much the same perilous attitude as amongst the Shepherds at Buckland.

Behind the organ is a large board whereon it is painted how that the Earl of Radnor in 1771,"in order to encourage, and better compensate a strictly regular Attention to parochial Duty in this Place," bequeathed a fee farm rent of £45-13-7d to the vicar of Coleshill for the time being who should not be absent from the parish above sixty days in any one year. In default the money went to the poor. This goes excellently well with a story I heard of a later earl; one of those noblemen who very fully exercise their privilege of subnormal attire. Crossing a field one day on his shaggy cob he came upon two of his men at work. One of them ran, perhaps too obsequiously, to open the gate for his employer. The earl passed through and then, calling the other who had continued at his work, put a half sovereign into his hand with the remark: "That's for minding your business."

Coleshill House was built about 1650 by Inigo Jones:

... when a lofty pile is raised
We never hear the workmen praised
Who bring the lime or place the stones;
But all admire Inigo Jones.

They pretend that in nine niches in the hail nine spectral cats take up their seats on the imminence of any evil awaiting the family. In the village a much battered cross stands on a little green opposite the churchyard gate.

But there is no inn here ...


... and if you want refreshment you may go to Highworth, as I did. Tramps, like armies, go much upon their bellies; or I should have followed the left bank of the Cole, which sparkles pleasantly below the village, and gone rough to Kempsford more quickly than through the little town upon the hill. In passing through Highworth I found nothing to add to what I write elsewhere except the recollection of the only piece of street rudeness I remember in the River country; perhaps it may be taken as a comment upon the notice you may read in the church. The town, and the road from Coleshill, were dotted with groups of London poor children on holiday, their sharp twang contrasting ill with the soft slow speech of Wiltshire. One strident group of girls was paddling in the Cole; and a dozen boys were doing their utmost to enrage a bull, flaunting a red handkerchief within a yard or two of his horns. They appeared, however, happily to remain beneath the level of his contempt.

Hannington Bridge [also see below]

Along an old rough track I dropped quickly down from Highworth to Hannington Bridge; and having hidden my wallet in a bank of nettles I went half a mile downstream to see the little that is left of Ham weir. On my left rose the heathy mound of Brazen Church Hill; whence this curious name is derived I have not yet succeeded in discovering. The River was terribly choked with weeds; and I think most upward craft got stopped here in the summer of 1908. I heard rumours of a thorough dredging and clearing intended soon between Lechlade and Cricklade; and hope it may come about. The remains of Blackford weir, three quarters of a mile above Hannington Bridge, are plain to see. You could easily ford there now, and in many other places about justifying this name, and Kempsford. And having examined into these matters I ended my day's work at the George close by, with some of the very kindest of the many kind people who keep these little inns. But of Kempsford and its history I will tell you later on.

You steer out straight through many a gate,
As down the Stream you fall;
God send you cleanly navigate
The last lone Lock of all.

Buscot Cheese wharf

Just where the road lies closest to the River above Buscot once stood the old storehouses, whither loads of cheese and corn were brought from upstream by small craft and shipped into larger barges for London and elsewhere. Along a few more willowed bends, and perhaps the Buscot windings are the worst on the whole River ...

St John's Lock; St John's Lock

... you come upon St. John's lock, just within thirty-two miles from Folly Bridge, the first of all the Thames locks, and the newest up to 1907. It was rebuilding in 1905 when I was through, and looks bare and prim, and as unlike the picturesque old shanty Hall shews in his book, standing on the other bank, as it was possible to design it. Yet how little else has changed, in the scenery or the houses, these hundreds of years; as indeed Mr. Belloc has noted in his Historic Thames. "There are dozens of reaches upon the Upper Thames where little is in sight save the willows, the meadows, and a village church tower, which present exactly the same aspect to-day as they did when that church was first built. You might put a man of the Fifteenth Century on to the water below St. John's Lock, and until he came to Buscot Lock he would hardly know that he had passed into a time other than his own. The same steeple of Lechlade would stand as a permanent landmark beyond the fields, and, a long way off, the same church of Eaton Hastings, which he had known, would shew above the trees. "

The River Lech

The little Lech or Leach brook (Leland calls it Northlech Water), coming down from Hampnett in the Cotswolds, joins the weir stream along the lower side of the Trout garden, dividing Oxfordshire from Gloucestershire. The commentator on Camden thinks this little stream gives its name to Lechlade, as being where "the Lech unlades itself" into the Thames.

St John's Bridge; Trout Inn @ St John's in WTSWG; St John's Bridge;

St. John's Bridge, here by the lock, is much older in foundation than the town or "ha'penny" bridge, dating originally from 1229 and succeeding, though perhaps not immediately, a British ford. It is said, I know not why, to have been of a singular form and of great strength, and formed part of the property of St. John's Priory which once adjoined. There is a sketch in Ireland's book shewing nothing curious except that the three pointed arches were not equidistant from each other. A "hospital" seems to have stood upon or near it against the priory; if indeed there was in fact ever anything more than the hospital, with just a Master and an infirm brother or two. The old bridge no longer exists, so far as regards its upper structure, having been rebuilt, if the books would only say so, somewhere about 1820. Leland has his usual vivid note: "At the very ende of S. John's-Bridge in ripa ulteriori on the right Hond I saw a Chapelle in a Medow, and greate Enclosures of stone Waulles. Heere was in hominum memoria a Priory of Blake Chanons" which I have just mentioned, and which was originally founded by Lady Isabel de Ferrers in 1245, and completed by Richard, Earl of Cornwall and King of the Romans. Being in 1473 fallen into great decay it was dissolved, and the revenues were applied to the support of three chantry priests in Lechlade parish church, and to other objects. No doubt the Trout inn had its old name of the St. John Baptist Head from the priory; which, with the manor, formed part of the dowry of Katherine of Aragon.

I stood here and gazed long around me one grey August morning, under the flying scud and fitful watery sunshine. Faringdon Clump lay clear and dark in the southeast, there was Buscot church pale against the deep green woods, the emerald River meadows lay all round half veiled in misty rain, and in the northwest Lechlade spire pierced the clean sweet air, with the town bridge low beneath it.

Lechlade; Lechlade, Halfpenny Bridge in WTSWG

Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide - Lechlade,

Halfpenny Bridge Lechlade
The Town or Ha'penny Bridge, Lechlade
Redrawn by Charles J. Beadon from a sketch by Miss K Adams.

Lechlade itself lies upon the left bank, half a mile above the lock; the only effective community that comes down close to the River all these long solitary miles up from Oxford. For what reason, unless to facilitate the ancient barge loading, should men have been willing to build this place so close upon the waterside, while Eynsham and Bampton and Faringdon, equal or greater in extent and importance, and almost every small village, lie so aloof that you can scarcely discern them from the River? And even considerations of trade seem but a makeshift and shallow explanation. Nor does the risk of floods appeal to me as a much stronger reason to affect so long a distance; for Osney at one end, and Lechlade at this, both lie at their mercy. And I think the Anglo-Saxon settlements approached much nearer than the modern villages. Perhaps the absence of important primaeval tracks marching close with the River is a true cause of the aloofness; the Faringdon-Oxford road, the only possible exception, never comes within about two miles of the waterside, and is usually much further removed; and runs moreover mostly upon the crest of the Berkshire Ridge. There is no parallel main road whatever upon the Oxfordshire side. Account for it as you may, there is the strange fact that along more than thirty miles of our largest river, in this close packed England, you nowhere get sight of more than half a dozen dwellings together in any one place.

It is a grey, bracing little town; "a praty old Village," says Leland,"and hath a pratie pyramis of Stone, at the West End of the Chirch. " It possesses a fine open market-place, whose not least beauty is the vicarage so thickly clad in green. The market was bestowed upon the town through the influence of Richard, Earl of Cornwall.

All the Lechlade landscape is dominated by the beautiful spire of Conrad Ney's late fourteenth century church of St. Lawrence. Specially beautiful is the pointed arch at the west end of the nave. A restoration was completed in 1882. It is the first of the Gloucestershire churches you reach going upstream; the first of all those religious houses of the county whose large number, said to be double and twice as wealthy as those of any other county in England, gave occasion to the old proverb: "As sure as God's in Gloucestershire. " The original dedication of the church, or of its predecessor, was possibly to St. Mary, like so many of the churches hereabouts. Edward IV's licence for the dissolution of St. John's Priory mentions "the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lechlade church. " It seems an interestingly similar case to Langford. There are some magnificent gargoyles, quite the best in all the River country above Oxford. You will find them principally on the north side and the west; on the south side, away from observation, there are none; perhaps the gods were not expected at the back. The chantry priests are said to have resided in those houses immediately outside the churchyard gates.

On the south wall of the chancel is an inscription to an old-world grande dame de par le monde:

Near this Place
Lie the Remains
of Mrs. Anne. Simons.
Whole Life compleated the true Character
of the Gentlewoman the Friend and the Christian
She was sincere in her Friendship
Affable & candid in her Conversation
Pious in her Devotion
Liberal & secret in her charity
Her Acquaintance have lost a Real Friend
The Poor a daily and constant Benefactress
She lived to a good old Age
And tho she declined gradually
Thro the weakness and Infirmity of Body
Yet she retained a chearfull temper
And vivacity of Spirits to the last
She is gone to Receive the Reward of her Virtue
And has left her Friends to imitate Her example
She died the 24th of September 1769
Aged 76.

Another object of interest is the old penance stone with spirally fluted sides against the north door, on which offenders once stood in a white shroud to expiate their sins against the Church. A very uncomfortable pedestal it must have been, barely spacious enough for two efficient human feet; unless, as at Cumner, they were usually the feet of lonely women. Or was it surmounted with a wider stone disc? In St. John's, Cirencester, there looks to be another example, so completed. The church possessed the privilege of sanctuary.

It was in this churchyard that Mary, Charles Clairmont, and Peacock stood with Shelley one lovely September twilight in 1815 when he was inspired with the unforgettable "summer evening meditation."

The wind has swept from the wide atmosphere
Each vapour that obscured the sunset's ray
And pallid Evening twines its beaming hair
In duskier braids around the languid eyes of Day:
Silence and Twilight, unbeloved of men,
Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen.

On the outskirts of the town stands an attractive old house called Butler's Court, whose name and records, says Mr. Hutton, date back to 1302, though perhaps only the foundations of the original dwelling now remain, It is well worth a little pilgrimage to see, though it is not another Yarnton, nor even another Northmoor. The Swan inn, in the town, is very charming to look upon; as, in another and later style, is the New Inn in the market-place.

There was a great trade in cheeses in old times from Lechlade and Cricklade, which were collected, as I have said, and loaded into the London barges down at the old storehouses at Buscot. One Ralph Alan Mould, of Newgate Street, cheesemonger, says in an old Report that "he receives great quantity of Cheefe from Leachlade by barges. " He goes on to complain of the rise in freights owing to new locks and increased wages. Truly one man's meat is another man's poison! He supposed "two thousand five hundred tons of cheese came down annually thence to London" in peace time; much more in times of war.

In an ancient map copied by Ireland there is marked a "projected canal" between here and Abingdon. He makes the curious statement that it was to be seen near Radcot Bridge, although the scheme had been successfully quashed in Parliament in 1784.

Long before Katherine of Aragon's tenure the manor was the property of "Siward, a baron," whose descent fabulously described by the old chroniclers. "The daughter and heiress of a great earl, of the royal blood of Denmark, walking in a wild forest, was ravished by a bear, and bore a son with ears like a bear. This son of a bear succeeded his mother in the earldom, and was father of Siward, who quits Denmark and arrives in England where he is kindly received by King Edward the Confessor"; and, dying,"arose out of his bed, and put on his armour, saying that it became not a valiant man to die like a beast; and so he gave up the ghost standing. " He had been with Hereward the Wake in his rebellion of 1071.


There is a cluster of charming Gloucestershire villages which can be very happily visited from Lechlade.

Southrop of the Danish suffix I tramped to first, where John Keble wrote most of his Christian Year, and of whose church he held the curacy while serving the Eastleach churches also. The combined population of the three parishes in 1815, when he first undertook them, was under a thousand, and the income one hundred pounds. It is a grey, compact little village, with an alluring atmosphere of snugness about it ("the air of this village is wholesome," says Rudder), and many an endearing touch of Gothic in its domestic architecture. St. Peter's church was of original Norman and Early English work, but has suffered many things at the hands of restorers. Miss E. Boyer Brown, in her little book upon these neighbouring churches, quotes that cynic who declared that the only hymn suitable for use at re-opening services was that one which contains the line:
"The powers of hell have done their worst. "

"Here was a church," says an old chronicle,"before the Conquest, endowed with eight yard-lands [each about twenty-five to thirty acres] from which Evesham Abbey received 11s. 6d. per annum peterpence".
If you are seeking herringbone masonry you will be rewarded here, for a great part of the walls consists of this style of work.

Herringbone masonry Southrop Church
Herringbone masonry Southrop Church.
Photograph by Arnold Fairbairns

A black marble slab on the south chancel wall, very roughly carved, tells of

Thomas Kebla: Sen. Gent: Decesed
the 9th day of August
Annodmi: 1670
Elizabetha: uxor Posuit

Font Southrop Church
The Font Southrop Church.
Photograph by Arnold Fairbairns

The font is interesting for its encircling sculptures of Paciencia, Modestia, Ecclesia, and the rest.
[In Additions and Corrections Fred adds: Each quality is represented on the Southrop font by a knight repelling the corresponding sin; thus Paciencia flogs Ira, Largitas Avaricia, and so on. ]
Elaborate font covers are rare to see in these little churches, but one remembers that they were once ordered to be kept locked against various superstitions, one curious form of which was the carrying away of the water after a baptism to a sick person, to drink or bathe his wounds withal!
There is said to be an underground passage from the manor house into the church; and you may still behold the lepers' window, through which these poor outcasts might behold the sacred offices; though some savants brand the idea as an historical absurdity.

"An old Gloucestershire farmer from Sutherup way" sings a fine old song in The Scouring of the White Horse. He was the best master in the neighbourhood, says the author of that enthusiastic book, and he and the parson kept up the wages all the winter, and never let a man go to "the house" who would work. So he begins:

Thaay stwuns, thaay stwuns, thaay stwuns,

After which highly provocative prelude he launches out upon these and other stanzas:

Thaay stwuns ez built Gaarge Ridler's oven,
Oh, they come vrum the Blakeney Quaar,
And Gaarge he wur a jolly owld man,
And his yead did graw above his yare.

Droo aal the world, owld Gaarge would bwoast,
Commend me to merry owld England mwoast;
While vools gwoes scamblin' vur and nigh,
We bides at whoam, my dog and I.

When I gwoes dead, as it may hap,
My grave shall be under the good yeal-tap;
Wi' vaulded earmes ther' wool I lie,
Cheek by jowl, my dog and I.

Mr. Gibbs, in his Cotswold Village, gives the key to the alleged political allusions beneath the words of this song.

Eastleach Turville & Martin

Eastleach Turville Church
Eastleach Turville Church.
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J. Beadon

It is a bracing tramp northwards over to the sister Eastleach villages, Turville and Martine, the former of which seems to be implied when the other is not specifically indicated. As you go there is much exhilarating scenery; Faringdon Clump and the Berkshire uplands behind you, and to left and right the wooded vales and the meadows of Oxfordshire. At the entrance to the villages a group of beeches soughs refreshingly in the breeze; not very common near the River, the beeches, I think; though Dr. Plot said they were the most plentiful of all trees in Oxfordshire. What a delicious scene these twin communities compose, with the Lech flashing and rippling down between them! The Turville church is dedicated to St. Andrew, and exhibits a blunt, thirteenth century saddleback roof quite in the manner of Langford.

[Fred corrects himself: It is Eastleach Martine, not Turville, that has the saddleback roof. ]

The village, Rudder conjectures, possibly takes its name from a family of Turbervilles settled here in the thirteenth century; but I find no other mention of them. A derivation pour rire is from its church tower: Towerville. John Keble was for eight years in charge of both churches, and passed from one to the other by the picturesque stone crossing still affectionately called by his name; an object the memory lingers lovingly with. This old church delightfully blends with its surroundings, and is moreover quite interesting, with a fine Norman south door in the tympanum of which is a bas-relief of, possibly, the Last Judgement. The east window is good lancet.

Icknield Street enters the parish upon the east from Oxfordshire. Rudder asserts that in Church Lane there was a mineral spring of a strongly cathartic character; and that the common well water would turn meat, when washed in it, as red as if it had been cured with saltpetre. But no one here seems to know anything about these matters now.

Watching the Lech from Keble's bridge the merry darting water reminds you of another and an older poet. What such brook was in Chaucer's mind when he wrote his fresh, crystal lines?

And wonder glad was I to se
That lusty place, and that ryvere;
And with that watir that ran so clere
My face I wysshe. Tho saugh I welle
The botme paved everydelle
With gravel, ful of stones shene.
The medewe softe, swote, and grene,
Beet right on the watir syde.

Eastleach Martine Church
Eastleach Martine Church.
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J. Beadon

Across the stream Eastleach Martine, called also Butherup, shews a smaller and if possible more fascinating church; dedicated to SS. Michael and Martin, and standing within a hundred yards from St. Andrew's; a very unusual and interesting circumstance. Its oldest remaining feature is the chancel arch of that century, unless the horseshoe arch in the nave be older. It was a foundation by Richard Fitzpons, a man of the Conqueror's, quite early in the twelfth century, presented by him to Malvern Priory. In the churchyard are the remains of a cross. It is pleasant to believe that John Keble chose this rectory garden in which to write his Evening Hymn. Charlotte Yonge tells of an old acquaintance here of his who, four and twenty years after his death, said to her: "Father and I do read the Christian Year every Sunday, and it do bring him out to us more than we knew even when he was alive. " On giving up his Oriel tutorship the poet continued here his tuition of three remarkable pupils: Hurrell Froude, Isaac Williams, and Robert Wilberforce. The people of this parish live, or recently lived, mostly in the adjacent hamlet of Fyfield.

At Cellar Hill (a mere slope), beneath the traffic of the road, a large stone vault once existed, called the Monk's Cellar. It was filled up in 1748, and a memorandum concerning it placed in the local records:
"October: This month also was buried a large, strong, stone-built vault under a hill in this parish called Cruel Hill; and this memorial of it is made to the intent posterity may not be imposed upon."
The spot is about one hundred and fifty yards across the Lech opposite Cote farm, which occupies the site of a former religious house belonging to Malvern Priory; the cellar may have afforded excellent cold storage for the brethren's wine. All these three villages, Southrop and the two Eastleaches, with Northleach higher along the Lech, form a group of four upon this little stream whose names seem somewhat to hang upon each other, Southrop being the southernmost of the cluster. The frequent occurrence of some form of the terminal -op in this neighbourhood seems to indicate some strong ancient settlement of the Danes.


Fairford Church
Fairford Church.
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J. Beadon

Four miles southwest lies Fairford, whose name might be attributed to its "fair ford" over the Come surely too obvious a derivation for the philologists the indignant Rudder must have it from the Saxon to mean "passage of the ford. " Its windows all the world must see. Do not miss, however, the quaint fingerpost on the right just before you enter the village if you are coming in from Eastleach. "Hatherop 2½ miles; 278 feet above sea-level", it says; quite unique among fingerposts, I think. When I first saw it, and found moreover that a native user of the roads had never noticed it, I felt as rich, as Mr. Belloc says, as silly men will who have unexpectedly gained much money. The thing is worth a smile before you turn to more serious matters. The Fairford glass is an extremely valuable collection, the most broadly splendid effect of all being the glorious west window. If only you were allowed to linger with it all for an hour or two at a time with one of the excellent little printed descriptions! Vain hope! There is an ancient incessant cicerone; and I have preferred to forget him and the glass and gaze upon the magnificent Perpendicular fashioning of the church itself. However! The windows include subjects from the whole Bible, including the Apocrypha, so arranged that the whole resembles a great illuminated book. There was much discussion about the middle of the nineteenth century as to whether the designs were not possibly by Albrecht Dûrer. Camden mentions them as the work of "Albert Durel, an eminent Italian master"; and amongst the Gloucestershire papers in the Bodleian is said to be an undated and unsigned manuscript containing a sentence: "Sir Anthony Vandyke came to see Fairford windows-and told me the drawing was the work of Albert Dûrer, the most famous, except Hans Holbein, of German painters. " Hearne, too, says that Vandyke "often declared to the king and others that many of the figures were so exquisitely well done that they could not be exceeded by the best pencil. " This origin of the paintings, however, is not accepted by the modern experts. I have seen them attributed to one Francesco Francia of Bologna, eminent for work of this kind.

[In Additions and Corrections Fred adds: In 'Oxford and the Cotswolds' the Fairford glass is attributed to Aeps, a Flemish painter of 1480-1528. The ape in the west window of the south aisle may be a rebus on his name; and the monogram on the sword of the executioner, AV, may represent A(eps) V(itrifex). ]

In the Academy exhibition of 1907 Mr. Cadogan Cowper had a very popular picture of The Devil and the Nuns, a copy of the lower half of the Last Judgement window.

John Tame, a rich Cotswold wool grower and "buyer of the cheap lands of ruined lords," rebuilt the church and inserted all this glass in the year 1493. Its solid beauty is perhaps a little overlooked by the visitors who come principally to see the windows. The base of the tower, and a column and arch in the southwest interior, are probably built-in remains of a structure older than Tame's. There is a fine Perpendicular oak screen, and some interesting traces of mural painting, particularly, perhaps, on the eastern wall of the nave. The whole church has been recently restored.

Deep into the heart pierces the prayer of the old founder addressed to those who look upon the tomb and effigy of his wife and himself.

For Jhus love pray for me
I may not pray now, pray ye:
With A pater noster and an ave
That my paynys relessyd may be.

A slightly differing version runs round the rim of the lid, which when I saw it explained for me the varying accounts I had read of the inscription. I have also seen the first line quoted: "For thus, Love, pray for me," as though addressed to his wife; and the mistake leaves its mark upon the memory: such another error as that Fitzgerald once refused to correct.

Leland reported Fairford as a "praty uplandisch Toune, and much of it longith with the Personage to Tewkesbyri-Abbay. " He adds that it "never florishid afore the Cumming of the Tames onto it. " It has two good ways and some quite beautiful houses, and through it runs crystal clear the little Colne. John Keble was born in Keble House in London Street, and his parents lie buried in the churchyard. Here in Fairford he often learnt his Latin grammar while throwing his ball against the garden wall and catching it again. It is a pretty story of his sister (and will illuminate the man himself also to you admirably): how that one day, sitting on the lawn, she espied upon the ground a fallen nest containing four unfledged nestlings. A friend picked it up, laid it on her knee, and went for the gardener to replace it. No sooner was the lady alone than the parent birds took heart of grace and brought their young ones food, alighting on her knee to feed them. At another time a wren was attracted by the pattern of small berries on her muslin gown, and pecked at them. Disappointed of its meal it then worked its way beneath the muslin, and attacked the tantalizing fruit from within. So quiet and gentle was she the birds had lost all fear of her.

There are prehistoric tumuli in the parish, the acquisitions from which are in the Ashmolean, and include some seven foot skeletons. It is a place of very ancient settlement; its earliest mention is in a record of land presented to the nunnery at Gloucester in 850, or 862, by Burgred, king of the Mercians. The Tames came into possession of the manor, says Camden, by purchase after the attainder of Nevil, Earl of Warwick. Just before the old chronicler's time there was a house on the north side of the church called Warwick Court, which John Tame pulled down to erect a newer house for himself. The manor was held before the Conquest by one Bhrictric, Earl of Gloucester, who refused to marry Maud, afterwards the queen of William I,"when she was a virgin. " The tale is told at length in the fourth volume of the Gloucestershire Notes and Queries. "Few stories can be so pathetically sad as the tale of this young Saxon nobleman. Sent an ambassador to the court of Earl Baldwin, the earl's daughter Maud was strongly attracted by the fairhaired young Saxon, and after many vain attempts to win his attachment becomingly she at last sent him a written message with an open avowal of love and the offer of her hand. Bhrictric however avoided her by returning to England, leaving her in deep mortification. Shortly after Duke William proposed, and was rejected; and after two years' wooing waylaid her one day in the streets of Bruges, seized her, rolled her in the dirt, spoiled her clothes, and still unsatisfied struck her repeatedly and rode off at full speed. Five years elapsed; and then hopeless of Bhrictric she accepted her Norman lover, and married him. In 1068 she came to England, the beloved and honoured wife of the Conqueror. Her love for her Saxon hero seems during the past fourteen years to have turned to deadly hate; and she took swift revenge. With the connivance of her husband Bhrictric was seized, his estates confiscated, he was hurried to Winchester, and 'privately buried. ' Such is the story of this young Earl of Gloucester. Whether he uttered a dying imprecation upon the usurper of his lands is not assuredly known, but certain it is that dark shadows of sorrow and sin have dogged the steps of most of the subsequent holders of his title. " Duke William's fury becomes intelligible when you remember that the lady had declared "she would never have a bastard for a husband! "

In the British Museum is another of those adorable tracts, a little quarto of eight discoloured pages, printed in 1660, whose title begins

Strange and True
A perfect Relation of the Wonderful and Miraculous Power of God shewed for injustice, at Fairford, betwixt Farrington and Scicester;
where an innumerable company of Froggs and Toads (on a sudden) over-spread the Ground, Orchards and Houses of the Lord of the Town, and a Justice near adjacent: and how they divided themselves into two distinct Bodies, and orderly made up to the House of the said Justice; some climing up the walls and into the Windows and Chambers; and afterwards how strangely and unexpectedly they vanisht away to the admiration of All.

It all arose out of the disturbance of some nonconformist services by "a company of Rude People". The victims appealed to the justice of the peace, who refused to assist them; indeed "rather spake hardly unto them by way of threatning, He being encouraged therto by the Lord of the Town. " Next day someone walking a little beyond Fairford discovered a multitude of frogs and toads. "They Marched in two companies, even as Soldiers March in Field, and come fast on towards the Town; and there (for certain) the one Party took their way to the said Justices house, and the other into the house of the said Lord of the Town. They also continued thus violently marching, till they had encompassed both the said houses, some of them attempting to go up stairs into the Chambers. " The unjust judge was so impressed "by reason of those Frogs and Toads" that he started out forthwith to grant the justice he had before denied, and "the said Frogs and Toads did perfectly separate themfelves in two several bodies, and made a perfect Lane or passage for the Justice. " And so peace being made, and the Rude People fitly punished,"the Frogs and Toads were departed, and vanished so suddenly and wonderfully as no man can tell how. "

The tract ends with an account of "the sudden and dreadful death of the Clerks Daughter of Brokington," also in Gloucestershire, who a week before Whitsunday in 1660 "gave a sudden great Scrick, and fell down dead before them All. " It is, alas! too far from my purpose to tell you more of this judgement, for such it was; she too had been reviling some gifted brethren," dissenters; and the peremptory hand of Heaven fell swift upon her.

Inglesham; Above Inglesham in WTSWG

Do not attempt to force the Thames above Inglesham, in dry seasons, with a heavy laden double sculler!
I tried it once, with the intrepidity of egregious inexperience; and after the third shallow contemplating a fourth I desisted, grateful enough to the god of the stream that after incredible efforts I managed successfully to force my craft back over the scours to Lechlade.
It is better at such times, and with such a craft on your hands, to tramp the rest of the journey.

Inglesham Round House [ Thames & Severn Canal ] ; Inglesham Round House (Limit of powered navigation) in WTSWG

Half a mile above Lechlade stands the Round House, two hundred and fifty feet above sea level. This Martello tower-like structure, with its poplar group reminiscent of Iffley, but much more ragged, marks the junction of the Thames, the Thames and Severn Canal, and the Colne. The Thames comes round from the southwest; and the canal is the midmost of the three, barred by lock gates. It was opened under very high auspices and with golden hopes in 1799, its bed of thirty miles having taken seven years to excavate. "The canal cutters," says Mr. Hutton,"must have been quite a colony in Lechlade; the registers for one year shew six deaths and four baptisms" amongst them. It has always, however, been more or less unsuccessful, usually more. The Great Western Railway bought it up in 1893 and forthwith closed it. A trust formed by Act of Parliament then reopened it in 1895, with an annual guarantee of six hundred pounds for thirty years from various county and district councils. But the constant repairs necessary from its long summit level in porous limestone have proved too expensive for its income, and it is still maintained at a heavy loss. The Colne, the third of the trio, rises near Shipton in Gloucestershire, and runs a course of about twenty-three miles.

Inglesham Church; Inglesham in WTSWG

Inglesham Church
Inglesham Church.
Pencil drawing by Helen R. Lock

Inglesham church is quite close above, on the right bank. William Morris was enthusiastic about it: "a lovely little building," he thought; "like Kelmscot for size and style, but handsomer and with more old things left in it. " It is a tiny place, only forty-nine feet by thirty-six, and sadly needs repair; though not "restoration"; looking as though it had never been touched since the end of the twelfth century, when it was built and given by John to his favourite abbey at Beaulieu.

An archaic bas-relief of the Blessed Virgin and Child is built into the outer south wall, with a Hand pointing downwards to Him, as in a fragment at Latton by Cricklade; the whole surmounted with MARIA. They say it was once in the priory chapel by St. John's Bridge. In the churchyard is a fine cross fifteen feet high, unusually perfect.

[ Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: There exists in the North Meadow in Inglesham a piece of land of about an acre, which between the twenty-fifth of March and the twelfth of August in every year reverts to the parish officers. The origin of this peculiar tenure is unknown, but the churchwardens have, from time immemorial, let the right to the grass between these dates. ]

A very little way upstream the River is often, as I have just said, impracticable for anything heavier than a canoe travelling very light and easy to float over the shallows, which are frequent and shew in places but an inch or two of water rippling over the white chalk pebbles for fifty yards together. And there are stretches of clotted reed that sullenly clog the whole width of the course for a quarter of a mile at a time. These scours recall what must often have been the state of the River even far lower in olden days. Dr. Plot wrote: "In dry times barges do sometimes lie aground three weeks or a month or more, as we have had sad experience in past summers. " "Flashing" was often resorted to as a relief to navigation. Stanches were placed above the shallows to dam the River, and when suddenly removed the barges were floated down by the sudden rush of water. These were the old "locks," or "whirlpools," of which I wrote at Osney.

The River Cole

The River Cole enters the Thames by its smaller outlet on the right bank two or three meadows above Inglesham; its larger mouth is a few yards above St. John's lock. About a quarter of a mile higher on the right bank is the boundary between Berkshire and Wiltshire. How solitary the waterside and all the surroundings are along here. Between Inglesham and Kempsford scarcely a farm to be seen, and never a village; for geological reasons, perhaps; the soil between being mostly clay and alluvial. Would this reason apply also to those long thirty miles of solitude below Lechlade?

Hannington Bridge; Hannington Bridge in WTSWG

Hannington Bridge, with its three arches and neighbouring picturesque farmhouse, lies in the midst of the slumberous River meadows, thirty-six miles from Oxford "a large wooden bridge," said Ireland but of more durable material now.
The River divides about half a mile above, at Blackford on the skirts of Kempsford, and reunites below this bridge.
Here is perhaps the richest pasturage in the land - "an ox," says the old adage, "if left to himself, would, of all England, choose to live in the north of Wiltshire".
Between the trees in the southwest you can see Highworth church, "the glory of the Wiltshire height".

Kempsford; Kempsford in WTSWG

But leave the waterside, and go by the field paths into Kempsford, whose stately fourteenth century tower of St. Mary the Virgin is the cynosure of all this neighbourhood. It is a moment to have lived for when you first apprehend its magnificence. And when you shall have learnt thoroughly to know this church, with Lechlade also that goes before it in my book, and St. Sampson's of Cricklade and St. John's of Cirencester that follow after; to know them I say and easily to associate them together in your memory, you will then discern that they present themselves and excel upon each other, as you ascend the River, in the order and similitude of a fugue, with a gradual and regular heaping up of power and architectural splendour. Lechlade may well be the clear, poignant melody upon which all is built; Kempsford the deep-toned answer; St. Sampson's upon its height is your stretto, your drawing together, your gathering of momentum and your preparation for the close; until you sweep at length, pleno organo, upon the large exultant glory of St. John's.

The doorway to the rood loft is still plain to see, and so is a relic of the time when long sermons were suffered: the hour glass against the pulpit. Though no doubt the old square pews, now swept away, contributed to redress matters. There are two fine Norman doorways, the north and the south; the south porch being in use as a vestry. This entrance formerly communicated with the Chaworth castle, the only surviving relic of which is the so-called gunner's room, or water gate if you prefer it, overlooking the River; which castle, says Ireland, was dismantled about 1786, the materials being used for the erection of Buscot House for Mr. Loveden, a great champion for the improvement of the upper navigation. They were sold for five hundred pounds, the value of the lead on the roofs.

The floor is of Early English tiling; and there is enough stained glass to be attractive and interesting without inducing a headache or confusion of memory; and you may look at it as often and as leisurely as you like; or not at all. In the vestry is a curious old painting, possibly of David and his psalter; perhaps it was not considered worth hanging in a clearer light. But there is something plainer to see, two old painted boards, one of which displays "the sweet old Jesuit prayer":


This south doorway of the bizarre Norman work is finer than the north; being protected from the weather it has had a better chance of preservation.

What religious fury or personal spite impelled the deplorable mutilation of two seated figures upon a tomb on the north chancel wall? the features are entirely chiselled away; was it for the love of God? One of them was no doubt the Blessed Virgin; the other may have been God the Father. Ireland says the arms of Alfred are to be seen amongst those emblazoned upon the angles of the tower ceiling; it seems arguable. The descriptions of these arms vary indeed very considerably. The curious red figure like a bird's claw has been called a gauntlet, the stump of an uprooted tree, and, what is probably the truth, the Plantagenet plantlet. The others are: the three chevronels of Clare, Earl of Gloucester; a cross flory for Edward the Confessor or King Alfred; and the three lions of the House of Lancaster.

You will look in vain for the stocks, which the books continue to tell you are still to be seen in the village. The local history dates from an important dim old battle of the year 802, fought on the very day of King Egbert's accession, when the settlement was known as Kynemeresford, explained by etymologists as "the ford of the chief river," or "ford of the great king. " Why not "ford of the cattle boundary"? This fight was between the Hwiccas and the men of Wiltshire. Ethelmund, ealdorman of the Hwiccas, says the old chronicle, rode horseback over the Thames at Kempsford, where he was met by ealdorman Woxtan with the men of Wiltshire, and a terrible conflict ensued, in which both chieftains were slain, but the men of Wiltshire obtained the victory.

This manor of Kempsford passed during the centuries through the hands of some interesting people. It was held from Harold the king by Osgod the Saxon. Was a later sheep stealer a descendant of his? On the twelfth of May, 1396, there was granted a "pardon to John Osgod the younger of Kynemeresford for stealing there on Thursday after the Assumption in the eighteenth year [of Richard II] six muttons, value 5s. , the goods of John Shepherde of the county of Somerset. " In Domesday one Ernulf de Hesding, a soldier of William's army of conquest, was seized of the manor; but conveyed it about 1085 to Sir Patrick Chaworth, named also de Cadurcis, who built a Norman castle probably on the site of a Saxon palace. A long descent followed of Patricks and Pains, until at last, in 1298, the sole heiress Maud married Henry, second Earl of Lancaster, grandson of Henry III. Her ghost still revisits these ancient haunts. The earl was succeeded by his son Henry, the first Duke of Lancaster, who was born probably in 1299 and died in 1361. John of Gaunt married his younger daughter Blanche; and no doubt Henry and they frequently passed from the castle into the south door of the church. The duke has no sons attributed to him in the books; but you will find a horse shoe nailed up over the north door, which immemorial tradition asserts was cast by his horse when he was riding away overwhelmed by the death from drowning of his "only son" here at Kempsford. Men picked up the shoe and fixed it where I myself have beheld it; a little fresh for its age. The drowned boy would have been brother-in-law to John of Gaunt. After the tragedy Henry could not bear even the possession of the manor; and ganted it in 1355 to the church of St. Mary in Leicester Castle. It reverted to the Crown at the Dissolution.

About 1550 Edward VI bestowed the property upon Sir John Thynne, probably through the influence of the Protector, the Duke of Somerset; Sir John being his secretary and the manager, during the protectorate, of his great estates. In the course of this business he brought some odium upon himself and the duke. In one suit it was written: "Mr. Thynne has shewn himself dishonest and covetous. The covetous disposition of this man may do his Grace hurt: nothing his Grace requires so much to take heed of as that man's proceedings. " However, Sir John was content twice to go to the Tower for his patron; he remained a firm Protestant during the adverse reign of Mary, from whose Privy Council he and others received a letter "for the staye of theymselfs in their awne cowntrey untyll they shall understande farther of the Quenes pleasure "; he had distinguished himself greatly in the Scottish expedition of 1544; and one must needs think of him as a man of great shrewdness and ability; of much courage and of unswerving devotion. He built the older portion of Longleat; and was brother-in-law to Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange.

About 1750 the castle, rebuilt by the Thynnes, and the estates, went by purchase to Gabriel Hanger, first Lord Coleraine, of whom and whose family I have a great deal to tell you later. The village cross was removed in bad taste by a former vicar from the west end of the parish to the new burial ground. Under it they found a mortar. And they say the great meadow across the River opposite the church was of old time the archery practising ground of the village. In some maps it is marked The Butts. There is a human touch of 1792 in Ireland. "Within this pleasant retreat, the vicarage, we found, not the vicar, but his locum tenens, an humble Welch curate, with a wife and two children, existing on twenty five pounds a year, and honestly confessing he had, on this side the grave, no wish beyond the addition of ten pounds to this salary. " This writer also mentions "several weirs" between here and Lechlade, confirming Taunt, if he need it. No wonder the old reports and collections of evidence are full of bitter complaints against these instruments of extortion set up at their own pleasure by the riparian lords.

Fearnside's Thames, published quite early in the nineteenth century, shews a rather fine old windmill standing close to the River bank.

Some of these things I received from the books. Now the late vicar was a Radical, a man of Cobbett's (whose relatives live in the place); and a conversation with him made this matter entirely modern, and that again full of the ineffable terror that dwells behind immeasureable antiquity. The "gunner's room " or "water gate" he ridicules; it was patched together from old materials by a predecessor only during last century. The adjacent wall, however, under which the River flows, he thinks is original Norman work for some four feet above the water. On the other hand the horse shoe is no relic of Henry of Lancaster; did not his horse cast a shoe at Leicester also at the very same moment? It is a symbol of nature worship; the curious may behold another carved in the stone of Oaksey church. The Butts, and the "pillar" of the maps, on the lawn within the wall, are, he asserts, terms invented by the pleasant young gentlemen of the Ordnance Survey, who roam about bestowing fancy names upon unchristened objects. Yet I think the old alternative field name of Bowstead seems rather to confirm the pleasant young gentlemen. The "pillar" is a mere capital from the ruins of the banqueting hall of the Plantagenets. And finally, he can only believe that the windmill was an effort of Fearnside's fancy.

He shewed me in the register the record of the burial in January, 1814, of "Lord Coleraine, aged 70. " The top of the tomb can with some difficulty be seen in the floor behind the organ. In his will Lord Coleraine had desired to lie above ground; they were an eccentric family, as you shall learn later; and above ground he accordingly long remained in a huge sarcophagus. But ultimately, being sadly in the way, his remains reached their present position. You will observe the letter of the contract has been strictly carried out; the lid of the urn is distinctly above the ground. Now the vicar, with S. C. Hall, was anxious to identify this Coleraine with Colonel George Hanger of Driffield; but it will not do. Contemporary records are clear that it was George's elder brother William who died in 1814, and that George did not die till nine [Fred corrects to ten] years later, at the age of seventy three. Driffield must retain whatever prestige resides in the ownership of the colonel's remains.

Hall says that until 1800 the road went to the ford across the lovely vicarage garden. Was this the little lane which, leaving the Cirencester-Fairford road where it crosses the tip of the eastern horn of Wiltshire, runs southeast across the county boundary into Gloucestershire and down to Kempsford, and winds round the church to the River? You will see it in the little map I print in discussing later on the interesting northern limit of Wiltshire.

Castle Eaton; Castle Eaton (The Red Lion) in WTSWG

By a swingbridge over the canal and a walk of a mile or so along Thames' side you cross the River into Castle Eaton; Ayton, they call it
About half way the River becomes a county boundary for the first time in its course, except for about half a mile, higher up, in the neighbourhood of Hailstone Hill above Cricklade; an office it never again loses.
During a freezing shower from the east, "which glazed the very plumage of the birds with ice", nineteen rooks were taken up alive in Castle Eaton meadow on the nineteenth of January, 1809.
Here Leland noted "Eiton Castelle, wher great Ruines of a Building in Wyleshire, as in ulteriori ripa remayne yet ... Eiton the Lord Zouche's Castelle."
Nothing now exists of these ruins, but they were of Lord Zouche's castle, a fortress which gave the village the first word of its present name.
De la Zouche is a Norman title which looms huge and vague out of the mists of centuries; but I find nothing salient about the family, and this little village is not mentioned in such records of their possessions as I have searched.
You know, however, the Leicestershire town which incorporates their name in its own.
I hear of another old title for the village: Eaton Maizey.
The Maizeys are said to have held in the twelfth century; their name survives at Meysey Hampton.
Probably the lowering battlements and heavy sullen name of de La Zouche crushed their memory out of existence.
One Eva is said to have been the last of them, and to have been buried at Meysey Hampton.

Castle Eaton Bridge; Castle Eaton Bridge in WTSWG

A very new and very hideous trough of a bridge spans the water here at Castle Eaton.
Who was it said that whenever a new bridge is built across the Thames it is sure to be of iron, and red, and hideous?
Who would not weep for Sonning?
though since Sonning matters have improved a little; the railway bridge at Shiplake and the rebuilt one at Nuneham are a quite harmonious green.
Perhaps the shaft of ridicule pierced even the aes triplex of a railway company.
Would that little Castle Eaton had not been too early to share in the improvement; a village with a past much more important than its present aspect indicates.

Local Bellcotes

Some bellcotes
Some Bellcotes:
1. Amney St Mary; 2. Preston Cirencester; 3. Sharncott;
6. Castle Eaton; 5. Inglesham; 4. Amney Crucis;
7. The Leigh; 8. Harnhill.
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J. Beadon

Castle Eaton Church

The church of St. Mary overlooks the River as closely as Eaton Hastings; and if Kempsford be splendid, surely the thirteenth century sanctus bellcote here is delightful. These saints' bells were "always rung out when the priest came to that part of the service: Sancte, Sancte, Domine Deus Sabaoth; purposely that they who could not come to church might understand what a solemn office the congregation were at that instant engaged in and be moved to lift up their hearts to Him that made them." The original bell is still here and in use, found in the west tower and replaced in quite modern times; a circumstance perhaps almost unique in England. There is a mutilated cross at the entrance of the churchyard path and how the grand expanse of the high-pitched nave roof holds the eye all along the River meadows! There are some Early English arches with a curious zigzag border upon them; you may see the same pattern upon a Norman arch in St. Mary's, Cricklade. Do not miss the fine hagioscope, nor the quite handsome Early English piscina. You will find here, as so commonly, a Norman south door; and in the nave are some wooden columns, and a very unusual fluted wooden pillar surmounted with a shield bearing a coat-of-arms. It is dated 1704, and is a rather fine piece of work, having formerly helped to support the gallery at the west end of the church. Rescued from neglect, like the sanctus bell, it now stands where you may see it; a memorial perhaps of the family of Tracy-Goddard. The beautiful old font with a flowing Greek pattern is also notable; it is altogether a handsome little church of great interest.

Castle Eaton Red Lion

The Red Lion inn stands, they say, upon part of the site of the Zouche castle. They used to throw a wooden bridge across from the rectory meadow to the Bowstead on the village feast day, so that folk might disport themselves and return in comfort. The custom was discontinued about 1894, and the ancient feast itself is dying out.

There is a tradition that a savage trail crossed the ford at Castle Eaton; a branch from the Way the Romans paved between Spinae and Cirencester. This branch passed here, and went through Marston Meysey and Poulton on to Cirencester; "guarded probably by the earthworks at Poulton and Ranbury. " But the story sounds a little vague. Ireland mentions an old mill at Castle Eaton; perhaps the one that Taunt marks the site of about half a mile above the church. Not a single stone or other trace could I find. Mr. Taunt says of this reach: "in the past the stream murmured through a rush-covered bed, the rushes often so high as to hide the boat to its very mast pole, and right across the river as close as a well grown field of standing corn."

Along Marston Meadow, and about half a mile above the site of the mill, a little stream runs in from Marston Meysey; and at a further half mile you will find the backwater on the left bank called by the curious name of Cow Neck. It may possibly be the ancient bed of the Thames; but the junction is now filled in, or at least earthed and grown over, and you may walk across on fairly firm ground; so that from the water you would probably miss it altogether. It is written of as very deep, and a favourite resort of fishermen. A Cricklade man, discontented with the tame methods and slow results of ordinary angling, once managed, it is said, to bore a series of holes in the bank below the surface of the water, in which the fish loved to conceal themselves, whereupon he would secure them by diving and scooping them out with his hands. It would not be advisable, I think, to attempt much diving now; I remember only the clear dark central opening among the thick reeds and the lilies.

Water Eaton

Leaving Cow Neck you go almost due south for a mile and a half. All along, though the water is generally very shallow, a mere thread sometimes between miniature sandbanks, the channel is quite wide and the banks high. At the bend where you turn west again stands the new Water Eaton House, on the right bank, just below an iron footbridge.

[In Additions and Corrections Fred adds: This old manor house at Water Eaton had a tradition attaching to it that it was a "house of mercy" connected with Oxford. There are remains of fish-ponds adjacent, you can trace the dry bed of the stream that fed them; and carved stone was found in it at demolition. It looks interestingly as though Godstow actually had perhaps a cell upon their property here. ]

Of the ruins some of the books speak of I could see no sign from across the River except an isolated pillar carrying a ball of stone. Close here stood Water Eaton church, whose site cowsheds now occupy. An old man of Latton is remembered who in his youth saw the gravestones lying about in heaps.

[ Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: Big slabs and broken fragments of carved stone still remain upon the ground in this pathetic spot. ]

I learnt of this destruction only upon my last visit and it explained part of the misdirection I had suffered previously going to Hannington from Cricklade, of which I still have to tell you.

Just above Water Eaton the Ray comes in upon the right bank: a muddy brook. And higher Thames indeed diminishes, dwindling gradually from a little river to a streamlet both in width and depth, but brighter than below the junction of the Ray.


The northern bank now ascends the mound of Eisey, whence you may look down upon the eager darting water and muse, perhaps, as once I did.

Why so headlong, tiny stream,
Under wistful willows wending;
Why so swift to grasp the dream,
Mad to learn the story's ending?

Surely here is sweeter life.
Here within the tender meadows;
Rest is here, beyond is strife;
Here is light, beyond are shadows.

Here against some rigid stem
Scarce thy first small fight thou winnest;
For what sterner diadem
Is the battle thou beginnest?

Round thy cradle little hills
On each side lean down rejoicing;
All day long the murmuring rills
Secrets of thy vale are voicing.

Little needest thou to run
Where the restless sea is heaving;
With these islets share the sun;
Why thine innocence be leaving?

Yet no moment would he stay,
Ever onward rippling, racing;
So I sped him on his way,
In the dusk my steps retracing.

"Tiptoe upon a little hill," on the slender River's left bank, stands the chapel of St. Mary at Eisey; as small and lonely as distant lonely Shifford.

[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: ... the correct, name for Eisey mound is Gasson's Chapel Hill. Under the chancel is said to be buried a Georgian font, belonging to the old church. ]

As once I reached the top of the little ascent I beheld through the treetops in the full east the dark mass of Faringdon Clump; and though I had sculled and tramped them I still wondered what mystery the wooded valleys between might hide, watered by the hidden Thames. Eisey church is of painfully new Norman work, certainly superimposed upon an ancient Norman foundation. Its rounded apse is the only one I remember in all this part of the country, ancient or modern. No doubt this feature disappeared through the fashion that arose in the twelfth century of extending churches eastwards. Of the scene from its little mound Mr. Haselhust had a fine sketch in his show of water colours a few years ago; one indeed captivating to the eye as it lingers down the grassy slope to the tremulous thread of water spanned with a rustic footbridge, and across to the great tower of Cricklade looking over so proudly to its little sister of Eisey. Whose church I originally found locked; but gained admission at a later visit, and found the modern Norman maintained within. I beheld with regret the cracks in the chancel arch, another point of sympathy with the Oxfordshire church. The building dates back, I believe, less than half a century, though I found a tombstone of 1824. The old church is described as barnlike. It is now a chapel to Latton church; but has its own register from 1571. A Walter Jones was vicar during the Commonwealth, his first entry being in 1647; he was buried in 1666. It contains entries, usual in the eighteenth century, of people buried in woollen shrouds. This custom arose out of an enactment of Charles II, first heard of in 1666, but having to be re-enacted in 1678 "in respect that there was not a sufficient remedy thereby given for offences against the said law. " It laid down that no corpse should be buried in any stuff or thing other than what was made of sheep's wool only; nor might the coffin be lined with anything but wool; under a penalty of five pounds. The Act was to be read "presently after divine service" on the first Sunday after the feast of St. Bartholomew for seven years; and remained in force till 1815, contributing no little to the growth of the wool trade.

In 1694 4s. 3d. was collected at Eisey for "ye relief of French Protestants"; and in 1699 17s. 6d. "towards ye relief of ye voridois"; perhaps the Vaudois, then reinstating themselves in their native valleys.

One of the old parish clerks here must have been an amusing character. On one occasion the vicar forgot he was due to celebrate a marriage. The couple arrived, and the old gentleman went to fetch the absentee from two or three miles away; and fearing that the couple would not wait to get married he managed to lock them into the church during his lengthy absence. At another time during service the vicar was reading steadily on, expecting the clerk to get up and hand round the offertory bag, which for some time he failed to do. At last he suddenly jumped up with a loud "I clean forgot 'n"; which apology he repeated at each several pew. And once he could not "find the place," Roman figures being the obstacle. The vicar waited patiently; when all at once he called out: "I've got he. " "Alas! he is no longer in the tiny village, the demand for cottages for younger and more active labourers being too great; but he is still flourishing in the neighbourhood. " The hamlet is but a handful of cots and farms, standing rather upon the Severn Canal than the River. It is, indeed, under a blue and rain washed sky and fleecy clouds, no unpleasant a walk hither from Kempsford along the path by the canal. The ford to it across the Thames from the south is against the rustic bridge by the church, well known to hunting men.

You see nothing now-a-days of what Leland noted: "Nunne-Eiton" which "longgid to Godstow"; and which stood where "Amney goith into Isis a Mile beneath 'Dounamney. " The "mile" should be at least two miles and a half. This was a small property belonging, as Leland said, to Godstow, and is mentioned under several names in the English Register of about 1450 of that house: Water-eaton, West-eton, Nuns-eton, and Eton-mynchons. No doubt it stood at Water Eaton, and not at Eisey as some will have it.

It was not a nunnery, at first, at all events, but a manor held by the "Holi minchons of Godestow. " Reginald, son of Roger, Earl of Hereford, granted it about 1142 "to god & to our ladi, & to seint John baptiste & to the holi minchons," to hold "well & worshipfulli, freli & quietli" for the good of his own soul and the souls of his ancestors. The charter is re-stated later: Reginald and his wife Emmeline "willid to be knowe that both thei & his too sonis, Reinolde & hameline, & also his too dowhters anneis & Iulian," gave it for the "remedi of their sinnis. " And no man was to let or hinder the gift, or vex the minchons to make them weary of it (evidently you could tease them), but they were to enjoy it in peace,"in woode & in plaine, in medes & pasturs, in waters & millis & in pondis, in weiis and pathis," and in all the other picturesque manner of it. A dispute afterwards arose, as early as 1195, between the abbey of Cirencester and Godstow, as to the relation of the Eaton chapel to Eisey, the mother church, of which Cirencester owned the rectory; and Pope Celestine III decreed that Eaton was to be subject to Eisey as a chapel-of-ease, that the great tithes were to go to Eisey and the lesser to Godstow, and that Eaton was to have its own churchyard.

I did not, to my regret, notice the junction of Amney Stream with Thames; in the maps, the very maps that still shew Water Eaton church, it is marked as ending at the canal, and I foolishly did not consider that its waters could not flow into that, but must merge somewhere into Thames. Two or three meadows above Eisey Bridge the Dance Brook enters upon the southern bank, little deserving its title here, whatever be the case higher up its course. It gives its name to the Dance Common just outside Cricklade. Now a farm blocks the way, but if you persevere round you will arrive at a rustic bridge called Hatchett's, on the outskirts of Cricklade, where baptisms have been performed within living memory. Rose Cottage adjoins it, well known to men who navigate through to Cricklade; above which Taunt marks an old weir site; perhaps the ruinous old house on the right bank was the weirkeeper's; it stands at the head of the pool. And then the walk is barred by "nimble footed Churn "; and I went to my night's rest back across Hatchett's Bridge and into Cricklade.

Cricklade; Cricklade in WTSWG

Tower and turret crown your height,
Thames plays babbling at your feet,
Ghosts of Druids glide by night
Up and down your stony street.

Light men laugh and hurry past,
Sentry of the Roman Way;
Shall you live to laugh the last,
Wise old Cricklade? you, or they?

CRICKLADE, as I have said, is the farthest limit of the voyage of the Thames, even if you manage to tug and carry and swear through so far. And who has measured the ultimate antiquity of this little town, the British Cerriglad, the stony country or ford, one of the chiefest jewels of the Stripling Thames? What British wanderers first settled here to plant their orchards and journey southward at the sacred times of Belteine to Avebury or Stonehenge, having first extinguished their hearth fires under awful penalties till the Druid high priest should allow their rekindling from his altar flames? "Good Lord, how spaciously might a learned pen walk in this argument! " The Druids burnt their sacred books when their colleges and sky roofed temples were desecrated by the new religion from the East, and we cannot answer. But within historical times we believe that St. Augustine looked upon its ancient roofs, that the great Alfred forded here about 878 during his wars with Guthrum; and that the Danes under Cnut sacked the town and cruelly harried the land around in 1016. "This year came King Cnut with a marine force of one hundred and sixty ships, and ealdorman Edric with him over the Thames at Cricklade," and so up into Warwickshire, burning and harrying "as their way is. " Does the Chronicle mean, or does it not, that they sailed up the River? Look at the banks and the channel, respectively deep and wide enough even now; and remember that they sailed up the Lea, to their lasting regret; and then consider the point. The town was unsuccessfully besieged later, in 1147, by Henry of Anjou, afterwards Henry II, in the course of some feeble attack of his upon the sovereignty of Stephen. In his time also did William de Dovre attack the town "villum," says the Gesta Stephani,"in loco delicioso"; and having reduced the country far and wide on both sides of the Thames, began most ferociously to rage against the king.

Cricklade Bridge; Cricklade Bridge in WTSWG

The present bridge is a level crossing of a single arch at the north end of the town, built in 1852, forty four miles from Folly Bridge. But it does not carry the Irmin Way across the Thames; the Way at some old time got obliterated at the bend north of the bridge, and a road was deflected from it due south through the town. You leave the direct southeast line of the old trail at this bend, and only pick it up again by taking the turn opposite the hospitable Vale Hotel, and striking it eastwards of the town at Calcutt. The bridge marks the beginning of the jurisdiction of the Thames Conservancy, which extends to Teddington weir.

[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: There is no doubt, as I discovered only quite lately, that there existed in Cricklade, not only the well known priory, but also, as a distinct and appreciably distant building, a Hospital of St. John. The little map will display their respective positions. The present much altered house by the town bridge is part of the priory, probably the chapel; the building still adjoining, once used as a Baptist chapel, was perhaps the refectory. Its succession of priors is traceable from 1322 down to its suppression in 1535. Of the hospital there is nothing surviving but a length or two of ruinous wall, if even that; and an echo of its existence in the neighbouring Spital lane. Without attaching undue importance to the native tradition of an underground passage between the two houses, the legend at least corroborates their separate identities; though they doubtless were only two departments of one institution. The erection by the bridge is now subdivided into several dwellings, like the old house at Swinford. The hospital was re-established in 1412, the rector having to be presented for institution to the Bishop of Salisbury, and to promise him obedience. It was pulled down only about 1905 or 1906, to make room for the new police station, having fallen into much decrepitude, some of it partly burnt and the rest crowded with the poorest of Cricklade's poor. The precinct was entered from High Street through an ordinary street door, opening into a right of way through to Horse Fair Lane. On each side of the passage were in recent times three of the ancient little houses of the foundation; perhaps there were more originally. Each apparently had but two rooms, one above the other. "The Porch," near by, a similar scene which you enter through a similar door, still remains a wonderful relic of mediaeval Cricklade. There seems indeed to have been quite a series of these little lanes of houses giving off from the High Street through these commonplace street doors. How many times I have been in Cricklade and not seen, nor even been told of, these matters of which I now so meagrely write.

Was this bridge chapel originally only another hermitage, like those at Folly Bridge and New Bridge, developing into a priory which for the love of God should erect this hospital on the nearest available site "for broken down clergy and poor wayfarers"? Others may tell you I know not. But one thing I am assured of: that beneath the surface of this "dull" Cricklade still endures the imperishable warmth of the life of half-forgotten men, who in their day rode upon the newest wave of advancing time, as confident of being the ultimate miracle of creation as we little busy moderns are, and with equal right. Beneath what English village, if you will but search, will you not find a network of clues radiating back to all lives that were, and out to all the ends of the earth? And so you are impelled to a true view of human existence not as of myriads of separate lives, but of Life one and indivisible as the all pervading and eternal aether. ]

The remains of an old priory house stand close against it, incorporated into a large modern residence. It was probably only a Hospital of St. John, such another as at the old bridge at Lechlade, and was founded early in the reign of Henry III. Richard II bestowed the custody of it upon one Thomas Yokflete for life. A tall built-up pointed arch gives upon the road, in which two later windows have been pierced, one above the other. I do not suppose the priory originally stood so close to the road; Mr. Belloc, indeed, confirming what I have just said, recalls that Irmin Street once crossed the Thames half a mile below the present bridge, which circumstance would have removed it further from the priory than it now lies.

The River Churn

The Churn enters Thames about fifty yards below the bridge upon the left bank. And this is to start a long subject; for if it be allowed to replace sentiment and ancient custom with logic and scientific fact, this stream of the Churn should in barren justice be recognised as the real fount and origin of the Thames. And the poor shrunken rivulet now bearing that august name should enjoy it no longer. The Churn rises from two distinct well heads; one, the best known, being at Seven Springs, about three miles southwards out of Cheltenham; and the other, on a greater altitude, at Ullen Farm. The two brooks unite at Cubberley, and on the best evidence form thenceforth one continuous stream to the junction with the Thames and thence onward to the Nore. Now, Seven Springs is ten miles further from the Straits than Thames Head, and lies higher above sea level; and scientifically, therefore, there is no doubt that the Churn and its sources should be regarded as the real beginnings of Thames. Though others say the Windrush is the longest of all, and some the Ray; there is no end to it. But ancient tradition and sentiment continue to cherish Trewsbury Mead as his true fount and origin.

Cricklade Churches

St Sampsons Cricklade
St Sampson's Cricklade
Pencil drawing by Helen R. Lock

Cricklade has two beautiful churches: St. Sampson's crowning the hill with its splendid tower of about 1550, St. Mary's bejewelling the valley down by the Thames bridge. St. Sampson's was built in the time of the first Pointed builders, and displays fine later Perpendicular work. There are some curious and interesting carvings both inside and outside the tower; the four aces, shears and sickles, the Peveril's pepper garb and the Warwick bear and ragged staff; the latter over the south arch of the tower. The remains of a cross stand in the churchyard; and built into the north porch is some tenth century sculpture; perhaps an evidence of the existence of a church here from that date. At the restoration of the church in 1864 many old things were got rid of, as at Minster Lovel. One, they say, was a fine screen; and another was the original sanctus bell, long left lying about, and ultimately given by a workman to a stranger, and deposited by him in Devizes museum, as they relate. The beautiful flying buttress outside the Hungerford chapel was added by one of that family in 1569; perhaps Sir John, who died fourteen years later. Seen so frequently peering over the trees from the surrounding country, I have not been able to resist a thought that St. Sampson's looks out over the adjacent parishes a suspicion like fine old Sir Roger de Coverley, who would stand up in the middle of the sermon to count the congregation, and learn if any of his tenants were absent.

St. Mary's in the valley complements the grandeur of St. Sampson's with delicacy and charm, and adds the prestige of Norman work. I wonder where Mr. Hutton gets his conjecture that it was once dedicated to St. Nicholas, patron of the thievish tribe. The barbaresque Norman mouldings are rich on the chancel arch, surviving from about 1150. An unusual sight is the dark band of carved wood around the nave walls. There is a beautiful little chantry chapel, now turned to the use of an organ chamber; still a well of music.

[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: St. Mary's possesses a fine black letter Bible, possibly of the second edition of the Authorised Version. ]

The porch is green with ivy; and the cross in the churchyard is in much better preservation than that by St. Sampson's. One of the two stood originally in the street of the town, but some said this, and some that; and I could never properly learn which it was until I read in Lewis that it was the St. Sampson cross, which they removed into the churchyard from the street when the old town hail by which it stood was taken down. This old "town house" stood in the centre of the street upon ten pillars. An inscription upon its southeast side bore the date of its erection: 1569; the date, you will notice, of the flying buttress. Robert Jenner, member of Parliament for Cricklade, was one of those still inclined towards the milder course with Charles I when it was debated to bring him to justice as the "chief delinquent" towards the close of the Civil War; and with his colleague Ashe, member for Westbury, got a reprimand from Cromwell for his tenderness. Jenner represented the town in the Long Parliament also; he built the almshouses here; and also planted, at Marston Meysey manor house, one of the earliest mulberry trees in the country; only cut down within living memory.

Cricklade, by James Thorne in his Rambles by Rivers, was set down as "dull to look at, dull to live in, and no less dull to talk about. " To the unseeing eye, indeed, and to the mind that only sensationalism can rouse, most of these little towns and villages are mere essential dulness. But to eyes alert for human interest, to minds that seek to connect that which is with that which was, to hearts that can be stirred by an aerial spire or a four square tower, and filled to overflowing with the beauty of the wooded hills, of the twilight hue of running water, of a willowed curve of the River or purple distances beheld from some upland bluff, to these there is nothing dull in the tiniest hamlet of the River valley.

Of this poor somnolent Cricklade a recent writer says: "There is no doubt but that it was the site of the first university ever established in England; and it is claimed that to this foundation Oxford herself owes her collegiate existence"; as Ireland, indeed, wrote, saying: "A Greek school was anciently founded here, or rather restored, by the learned archbishop of Canterbury, Theodorus, and afterwards translated to Oxford. "

(By way of digression may I add that Ireland thought the town remarkable only "for a very large parish church; for the mode by which they convey their dead for interment, which is by fastening the coffin in the front of a postchaise; and for the provision which, while they had the power, they were accustomed to make for the living; by a more high-priced, than constitutional, estimate of their borough franchises"? )

[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: This hint of Ireland's refers to a somewhat serious state of affairs. On May 17th, 1782, a bill received the royal assent, reciting that "there was the most notorious bribery and corruption at the last election of burgesses for the borough of Cricklade, and that such bribery and corruption is likely to continue unless some means are taken to prevent the same. " The franchise was therefore extended to five neighbouring hundreds. But the evil, however diluted, only increased the more; for charges and petitions relating thereto continued to be made; in 1785 for example, when one hundred and thirty-six votes were objected to, in respect of fraudulent leases, or none at all, and for other reasons; and the "conduct of the returning officer was partial and illegal, whereby a colourable majority was obtained" for the successful candidates. As late as 1807 "Viscount Andover was a candidate for Cricklade, and had a majority of one hundred and twenty legal votes, but the returning officer, who is always the creature of the lord of the manor, admitted the fictitious voters to be polled, and determined the election against him. "]

I do not think there is ground for all the ridicule poured upon the tradition of the ancient seat of learning here. Theodorus certainly planted many in the south of England; and why not in Cricklade?

More! From documentary evidence it is discovered that because its people once succoured a queen in distress, a native of Cricklade may exhibit for sale without fee or licence in the streets of any city of England and Wales any such goods as are proper for merchandise. A royal charter is said to exist to this effect; and there is an amusing story of how it was turned to good use to stop an undesirable fair in the town (was it at the old "veâst"? ) by certain of the inhabitants combining to fill the site the fair usually occupied with stalls of their own produce.

Cricklade once contained a royal hunting box also, of which Charles II was the last monarch to make use. It is now a farmhouse, known as Abingdon Court; and said to contain what is traditionally known as a royal bedstead, interestingly connected with the queen in distress, which the same recent writer describes. His theme generally is the greater reliability to be placed upon the apparently unsought, spontaneous folklore of "the plain ignorant stupid agricultural labourer" and "the equally ignorant village tinker and mechanic" (not even the least of these adjectives is mine), than upon what you get from educated people, who sometimes dwell for a lifetime among fascinating traditions and never hear, or at least never notice, a word of them. "The smart up-to-date destructive critic" (I quote again) "often talks more nonsense than the ignorant local storytellers in the old Anglo-Saxon villages, where they still keep the 'yeast' by old reckoning, a fortnight behind the date given in the modern almanacs"; as indeed Jefferies noted. Prosecuting this idea he relates how, through a field labourer of Cricklade speaking of the water of a certain Lertoll Spring as being good for the healing of the eyes, the spring at Oak Barn, a couple of miles north of Cricklade, was identified as the one with whose water St. Augustine, a year before his death, cured the eyes of a blind man after his conference "at the oak" with the neighbouring British bishops. (Though truth compels me to add that some think Augustine's oak was against the Aust passage over the Severn and there are other claimants. ) The oak is no longer here; an ancient tree was felled about 1825, much against the then Lord St. Germans' wish; the farm buildings are all quite modern; but Oak Barn still exists; and the spring though covered in still supplies the adjacent cottagers, by one of whom I was told that its water retains its ancient medicinal reputation. In old days they sent even from Oxford to fetch it. The roots of the old felled tree have recently been identified in the stack yard. Verily, grant the dull aspect of this little Cricklade; but " dull to talk about"? Scarcely that!

Stow's description of Augustine's conference with the British ecclesiastics, which you may read in black letter in the British Museum, is worth condensing. Under the year 603 he relates: "About this time (saith Bede) Austine called together the Bishoppes and Doctors of the greatest province and neerest to him, which were the Brytaines, to commune with them, in a place which to this day [c. 1561] is called Augustine's Oak, being in the borders of the Viccians and West Saxons. But they rather preferred their own traditions before all other churches which throughout the world, agreed with Austine in Christ. Whereupon Austine fell to prayer, and also restored a blinde man to sight (saith Bede), which the Britains could not do," and so temporarily yielded to the great missionary. But only for a time. The ancient British Church, founded not from Rome but through Gaul from Ephesus, stubbornly preferred its own methods; and there is a pretty touch of related history at Burford in 682, when Aldhelm was commanded to endeavour to coerce the self-opinionated native clergy into conforming with the Roman observance of Easter. The bishops called together to the Oak to meet Augustine were seven in number: Hereford, Worcester, Bangor, Llandaff, St. Asaph, Llanbadarn, and Glamorgan.

There is an old monkish ghost story that when Robert, Bishop of Hereford, was in Cricklade on his way to London the spirit of Wulstan, the great Anglo-Saxon churchman, probably that one who was Bishop of Worcester, and who was then at the point of death, appeared to him and warned him that he too would shortly die.

Robert Canutus,"Robert of Cricklade," was a native here. He was prior of the Anglo Saxon monastery of St. Frideswide when it was granted to the Norman monks about 1158 by Adrian IV; and after super-intending the rebuilding of the church he became canon of Oxford. He is chiefly known by The Garland; a collection of extracts from Pliny, which he dedicated to Henry II.

At each end of the town is a Russian cannon, mounted upon its carriage; relics of the Crimean War. Two were granted, as the place returned two members to Parliament. The inhabitants are happy in having to pay easy rates for lighting and road repairs. The Waylands Estate, with an average annual income of about two hundred and fifty pounds, supplies most of the funds necessary for these purposes. They were used to rebuild the town bridge over Thames. This estate largely arises from a bequest of Walter, Lord Hungerford, in 1449 for an annual mass for the good of his soul, to be said in the Hungerford, or Our Lady, chapel of St. Sampson's. It was diverted in 1566 by order of the Lord Chancellor towards the maintenance and lighting of the roads. The property from which the funds are derived is situated in several parts of Cricklade and at Chelworth, and consists of orchards, closes, and cottages. The income is now paid over to the rural district and the county councils, in reduction of rates, except for an annual sum of fifty pounds for lighting, which is expended direct by the trustees. You will welcome this account as a rare instance of the honest use of these diverted chantry moneys.

Another interesting little charity was that devised in the tenth year of his reign by Charles I. The Forest of Braden then being in course of disafforestation, the king appointed that one hundred acres of its area were to go to the poor of Cricklade and Chelworth for ever. This Hundred Acres charity, as it is called, after several changes of method in disposal, is still in existence, in two hundred and thirty-five allotments held by sixty-two tenants, who pay a nominal rent. They hold until they give up or are removed by the trustees. The allotments are on the whole well kept, but not in every case. Small prizes for best results are provided annually by the charity. One more I will mention: another Hungerford charity, left by Sir Anthony and Dame Jane his wife in 1642, to provide annually fourteen "upper coats or garments of cloth," on the left sleeves of which were to be "set in red cloth the letters A. H. I. ! The clothes are still given away every Christmastide, but the marking with the initials has been discontinued.

Like the defunct school at Bampton, the free school provided for in 1651 by Robert Jenner (of whom I wrote a few pages back) was destined "only for the teaching of Latin scholars, and none other. " "His desire was that Maister Durham, who liveth with Mr. Hippesly, of Staunton, should be the first schoolmaster. " The school still stands, a substantial house next the churchyard, with a stone over the porch inscribed: "This school was erected and 20l. yearly settled on the master by the bounty of Robert Jenner, esq. A. D. 1652. " It was long used as a poorhouse, until about 1840; and then restored to its proper use; though they jonahed the Latin.

William Cobbett was in the town in 1821, and wrote in his Rural Rides with his usual savage indignation about what he saw, Writing at Cirencester one November day he says: "I slept at a dairy farmhouse at Hannington" the previous night. "I passed through that villainous hole Cricklade about 2 hours ago, and certainly a more rascally looking place I never set my eyes on. The labourers look very poor; dwellings little better than pigbeds, and their food not nearly equal to that of a pig. This Wiltshire is a horrible county. " Five years later he was back again, and hearing of the Thames he "rode through it, it not being above four or five yards wide, and not deeper than the knees of my horse. " Was it at the Eisey ford? He was in a better temper with Cricklade this time; though "while the poor creatures that raise the abundant wheat and barley and cheese and mutton and beef are living on potatoes, an accursed Canal comes kindly through the parish to convey all the good food to the tax-eaters in the Wen"; his genial and favourite epithet for London.

If some ancient coins have been rightly deciphered there was a moneyer in Cricklade in the time of Edward the Confessor.

And Leland was here: "Loke here wher Braden Water cumming out of Wileshir dooth go ynto Isis. " Did he mean the River Ray; the most considerable stream from the neighbourhood of the ancient Forest of Braden? It is a curious speculation why Leland should have said so little about Cricklade. His solitary note is: "Crekelade is in the farther Ripe of Isis, and stondeth in Wileshire. "

The Nonconformists of the little town perpetuate the ancient veâst about the twelfth of August with a great camp meeting and tea; though not now, as formerly, in the large north meadow: "Nar' Mead," as the old generation called it. At the proper, original observances of this festival there were wrestling and racing and backsword encounters, and fights in earnest for personal grudges were often adjourned, they say, so that they might be enjoyed without suspicion under cover of the holiday. No doubt there was a certain not altogether laudable character about it all; and the Nonconformists, imitating the ancient Christians, seized upon the occasion and gradually turned it to their own more sober uses. They should however at least share the credit with the Reverend F. Dyson, long the vicar of St. Sampson's, from about 1850 onwards, a fine specimen of the old hunting parson of bygone days, and much beloved by all who knew him. He seems to have instituted donkey races and other innocent amusements on the Monday as an inducement to his parishioners to abstain from the Sunday veast.

Bear Inn Cricklade
Bear Inn Cricklade
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J. Beadon

The old gabled Bear inn in the main street up till about thirty years ago had a completer sign displayed, the Bear and Ragged Staff: the Warwick touch. The adjacent manors of Calcutt and of Little Chelworth came into the Neville family in 1549, a century after the great earl's time.

Water Eaton

A mile and more out upon the Swindon road from Cricklade lies the hamlet of Water Eaton. Going thither you cross the Dance Brook, of which I have already spoken, running northward to join the Thames half a mile away. Turn as you cross and see the abiding view you get of little Cricklade, red roofed under the mighty tower that shepherds it all! Nine o'clock in the morning is not a bad light to see it under.

You next come upon a long stone bridge of seven arches, which I took to be what they speak of in the town as Seven Bridges, once called Langebrygge, though I could count only five arches; it is not very easy to discover exactly. They cross the Ray, curiously claimed by some, as I said, as the true parent stream of the River, and which has but another northward mile to go before it, too, merges within the Thames. It was flowing full and turbid with summer rains, when first I saw it.

Just here do the maps shew Water Eaton, and a church (although the church was destroyed, as I heard later and have told you, perhaps as much as two centuries ago), and a road leading clear and direct due west in about three miles to Hannington. Here indeed is Water Eaton; but the haymakers, still at work in a late season, naturally knew of no church, and could speak of no road to Hannington except by an exasperating loop due north through Castle Eaton. They, and farmers in pony carts, and the buxom women in the scattered cottages, all insisted that through Castle Eaton was the only road. I hope others find the more direct way; that it exists I am convinced,

So by Castle Eaton I tramped to Hannington, and for much time the only joy to a mind jaundiced by misdirection was a tablet I beheld fixed upon a cottage: "In grateful memory of the preservation of this and adjoining properties from the threatened cattle plague in 1866. " Was the tablet, or the revenue producing tenements upon which it hangs, the token of the grateful memory? I forgot to revile the maps and the haymakers; and morbidly chewed over the problem until my glance fell once more upon the bellcote at Castle Eaton across the tiny hidden River still stood glorious Kempsford, great sentinel over the illimitable meadows; and ahead in the southeast Highworth sat near heaven upon its hill.


Out of Castle Eaton you climb Lush Hill (or Lushill: "Lus'le"), as lovely though not so extensive a wooded height as Wytham. The road leads across an open breezy common to its ascent, refreshing after the hedgerows. Upon the hill you get sight of delightful landscapes, especially eastwards where Faringdon Clump closes in a little wooded valley. Lechlade spire gleams in the northeast across the trees and the verdured levels; and as I gazed thither I knew the secret River was still threading his unseen course between the reeds and the meadows of St. John's.

And then comes upland Hannington lying amongst its pines and elms and chestnuts, with flowery gardens and inviting inn The Jolly Tar, an arresting sign for so far inland, like the Eight Bells at skyey Eaton. It is a village of enticing little up-and-down slopes and windings of the road.

The church lies away from the houses along a lovely avenue. It has a good Decorated tower and a round-headed north doorway, built up, with Early English mouldings; the south porch shews true late Norman, a plain outer door, and a charmingly carved inner door surmounted with a wooden rood. Most of the windows are Perpendicular insertions, and very interesting is the internal buttress work, necessitated through miscalculation of the thrust of the tower. There is a quantity of stained glass, not, I think, of a very attractive character. The chancel still preserves a little piscina, and the wall by the pulpit shews the blocked stairway to the rood loft. The rector told me that an old local mason asserts the stairs to be in excellent preservation; and he is anxious to open and exhibit them, if only money enough were forthcoming. Lying opposite the pulpit is a broken effigy, of a woman, apparently; a former rector amused his soul, being himself something of a mason withal, by picking out the features for the benefit of posterity. It is not known whom the image (thus repointed, shall I say? ) represents.

On the wall at the west end of the nave is a rather noble monument to a Thomas Pile who died in 171 2, and to Elizabeth his daughter who died in 1714. "Amabiles et decori in vita sua, in Morte quoque non sunt divisi," wrote up the husband who was left to lament them both. "When such friends part, 't is the survivor dies. "

Narcissus Marsh, who gave Swift his prebendal stall in St. Patrick's, was born here in 1638, and died in 1713 Primate of Ireland. His father migrated hither from Kent. He went schooling in Highworth, and records with pride that he was "never flogged. " As an undergraduate he "kept an entire fast every week, from Thursday, six o'clock at night, until Saturday, eleven at noon, for which God's name be praised. " He complained that his Dublin students "were both rude and ignorant, and I was quickly wearied of three hundred and forty young men and boys in this lewd, debauched town. " A charming, memorable little place to have visited, this village and its church along the avenue.


The lane dwindles to a footpath after you have gone through a farm, and so continues until you are practically within Highworth. From the top of the hill by the cemetery you get a glorious circle of landscape, including perhaps one of the finest views to be had of the Berkshire Downs: "the mountains" as the folk hereabouts call them.

It is a compact little town, this Highworth, with peeps of blue distances at the ends of its short wide streets. For it indeed sits upon the height, as its name indicates; lying however just sufficiently over the eastern brow to escape the full oppression of the Southwest, the elemental tyrant of these parts. The handsome church, of original Perpendicular architecture, stands in the midst of the town. It is dedicated to St. Michael; most of whose churches are placed upon high ground, they say. What is the old legend of Apollyon waging war upon the archangel, each on the top of a mountain? It was too drastically restored some fifty years ago. In the Warneford chapel are several rather naA?ve epitaphs, of which one recounts how a deceased lady of the family entered heaven in such a year of her age "in sparklings of glory. " Some clumsy but fascinating old chairs with tilt-up seats, leaning against the south chancel wall, are perhaps the quaintest sight in this spacious airy church. They are probably miserere seats of the fifteenth century. In the chapel, too, hangs a cannon ball, and in the vestry is a helmet, both relics of two battles of Cromwell's wars; you may see the earthworks just before you reach the cemetery as you come in from Hannington. The history of this contact of war with Highworth, perhaps the only occasion when it becomes articulate in modern annals, occurred when a detachment of Parliamentary troops were marching to Taunton, and on June 27th, 1645, found themselves resisted here by Major Hen, the governor of the Royalist garrison. He had fortified the church, but "took down his bloody colours, sounded a parley," and surrendered, after a short resistance, to Fairfax, who was on his westward expedition after Naseby fight. "Had good booty in the church," wrote enthusiastic Sprigge; "took seventy prisoners and eighty arms. " During the following month an obscurer but bloodier skirmish seems to have taken place, on the scene of which the earth long afterwards yielded large numbers of skeletons.

One has to wonder, regretfully, if the Highworth folk are extraordinarily irreverent, seeing so many notices hung up in the church against disturbing the devotions of the congregation. Perhaps they are overlooking the churchyard is another notice against "throwing of stones" by children. They tell me all churches once had these notices; did Highworth singularly deserve their perpetuation? At the west end of the church is a small window in commemoration of Albert, Prince Consort; and over the south door is a semicircular stone carved with David killing the lion; a Norman tympanum, placed in its present position in 1904. Outside this porch is a very decayed triple niche and canopy, which looks as though when new it was a very handsome piece of carving. And in the shops they sell you the picture of Simon Iles, a shepherd, otherwise known as the Highworth Dwarf, forty-eight inches high, a sturdy little stump of a man.

"Got to Highworth again," wrote Cobbett in 1826,"after a ride of about twenty-four miles, and that too without breaking my fast. " He was very proud of his senile vigour. He got "detained by rain and company he liked very much" for six days before he rode away to Malmesbury. Reading Aubrey one wonders less at Cobbett's abuse of Wiltshire. "Here at Highworth," he wrote,"the poore people gather the cowshorne in the meadows and mix it with hay and strawe and clap it against the walles for Ollit they say 'tis good Ollit, i. e. , fuell: they call it compas, they mean, I suppose, compost. "

Batson's charity was some land left in Inglesham, about 1697, by one Thomas Batson, a London merchant, to apprentice one boy annually, of at least fifteen years of age, born of poor parents in Highworth, or in its suburbs of Eastrop and Westrop; or in default to clothe twelve men and women,"of the ancientest and most unable to provide for themselves, with a gown made of a good strong grey cloth, with one pair of shoes and one pair of stockings, and one shirt or shift," the cost not to exceed twenty-five shillings each person. The trustees were "to deliver the gowns and other clothes to the respective dwellings of the said persons to prevent clamour and confusion. " The apprenticing has not been observed since at least 1833, but otherwise the charity is still alive.

Another is that of William Lee, who in 1634 left land near Witney partly to provide Christmas fare for the poor, partly for a Christmas sermon in Highworth church, the fee for which was to be six shillings and eightpence, or ten shillings if possible; and as to the remainder, he bestowed it upon "a drinking" for the feoffees. A warm hearted and indulgent old benefactor, this. The gift to a preacher has not been made for a great number of years, nor do the trustees now assemble for the "drinking. "

There are some charming nooks and little street vistas in this tiny hill town. And surely few English railway stations have a more romantic outlook than this of Highworth, whither the trains come throbbing up the height from Swindon.

Ashton Keynes, Somerford Keynes, Pool Keynes

Then follow you, wherever hie
The travelling mountains of the sky;
Or let the streams in civil mode
Direct your choice upon a road,

For one or all, or high or low,
Will lead you where you wish to go;
And one and all go night and day
Over the hills and far away.

THE road from Cricklade to Malmesbury, part of which you follow going to Ashton Keynes, appeared a few years ago, when I first knew it, most happily neglected by motors; and was, and indeed still remains, all the more refreshingly green and dustless. Once out of the town you cross the deplorable North Wiltshire Canal, close by the railway station. There is now no traffic whatever upon it, and Swindon and other places suffer from its disreputable appearance, and would be glad to see it filled up. Its bridges and locks are in constant disrepair; the three hundred pounds or so it still receives in annual income, from rents of reservoirs principally, all going in wages and rates. Attempts have been made by various syndicates to resuscitate it during the last few years, but without success; and it is now maintained chiefly through the influence of the riparian landowners, who find it serves them admirably for watering their cattle.

You soon begin the long ascent up Windmill Hill, with ever widening views through the trees of great purple landscapes; Lechlade and Cirencester, the imminent Cotswolds, and the hills out beyond Tetbury westwards in Gloucestershire. At the top of the ascent in a field on the left is the flat mound for an absent windmill; whether the mill was never there, or has been removed, I do not know. After you have climbed this hill and got well down the other slope a lane upon the right hand leads to Waterhay Bridge, a white level crossing, iron railed now, but with clear evidence of having once been fenced with wood.

Coming from Cricklade one hot summer afternoon, just before I reached this bridge I found the only scent of gypsies I ever picked up in this countryside; though there must be much small history of their migrations and encampments between Oxford and Cirencester could it only be found, in print or otherwise. Yet truly they are said to avoid running water; and again the roads (which are their home) so usually cross, and so rarely accompany, this remoter course of Thames. Even this one scent I think was false. I had been walking beside a police cyclist, when with a sudden exclamation he rode ahead to a caravan that appeared to be settling down on a green, and moved it on. As I passed I could discern none of the oval faces, the delicate strong features, the eyes of the hard unblinking stare, that characterize these strange people. They seemed but mumping gorgios, I thought; who could not pukker mande drey Romanes, even had I myself been competent to take an easy part in such a conversation.

Waterhay Bridge

Beneath Waterhay Bridge the tiny River battles its way through reeds and cress; a spot of green and mossy freshness. When you first arrive there you may be rather startled by Mr. Hall's assertion that a regular barge traffic formerly existed to this very spot. It sounds incredible; yet when you look again at the high banks that would contain more feet of water than in some years are inches, it looks quite possible.

Leigh old Church
Leigh old Church now partly demolished.
From a negative by Mr Griffiths, Cirencester.

Up between the farms and cottages that constitute the hamlet of Waterhay a path leads through a meadow or two to what is often spoken of as the "ruined church" at Leigh ["the Lye", like Sou' Lye; this seems the traditional pronunciation in the River country]. It stands isolated enough, indeed, behind its concealing elms, but looks by no means ruinous; having been restored and being apparently in occasional use. It is a tiny place, only the chancel of the original church, lighted at one end and one side. It seems of early Decorated workmanship; and has no tower, only a tiny bell turret at the west end. "It was disestablished some years ago", says Mr. J. Ashby Sterry in his Tale of the Thames, in 1895 actually; "and no one seems to know the reason why". The reason was because the old building had become so sadly dilapidated that about 1892 it was decided to restore or rebuild. And at that point entered a personal element: six stiles, so trying to old parishioners, and occasional floods trying to old and young alike, made the alternative of finding a dryer and more accessible site a welcome one, and so a new church was built in another part of the parish, which I had not heard of up to the time of my last visit, and so have never seen. But I hear that with most punctilious care the stones of the old nave were numbered and used in the new; and that a splendid timber roof, built in the old place during the Gothic revival under Archbishop Laud, was with equal devotion re-erected within its successor. There was a little weatherboard tower to the old building; and its nave walls were entirely without buttresses. The font last in use was only of the eighteenth century I hear the ancient one has lately been recovered from the conventional depository, a neighbouring farmyard, and restored to its fitting position.

Ashton keynes

Ashton Keynes
In Ashton keynes
Pencil drawing by Helen R. Lock

A little above here the Swill Brook flows into the Thames; and then you reach Ashton Keynes itself, with its church at the far extremity of the village dating from Norman times and dedicated to Holy Cross. I had always been most unfortunate in my attempts to get inside, but succeeded one day after a rather tiresome hunt for the key through this maze of a place. The tower had been gleaming very pale against the dark foliage as I came in from Kemble that Southwest-ridden day; a day overmastered by that wind of which the verse is written "Soft, terrible with thunder". It has a beautiful spacious interior, with a fine Norman chancel arch. An inscription on the north chancel wall seemed worth repeating:

Here Lyeth the bodys of Henry Hawkins Esqr
the Grandfather, and Henry Hawkins ye Grand
child both Dyed the 27th Day of Aprill 1658
and lyes Interred both together under
this Gravesone
Reade here yee Mortalls all your owne lifes date
How quickly Age and youth does terminate,
The Grandsire & Grand-sone hence both of them
Past in one day to theire Hierusalem.

It is an interesting reflection that whatever eccentricities or indubitable errors you may find in English spelling upon gravestones, you very rarely find any in Latin.

I was glad to see the two-manual organ here; they are not too common in these little secluded churches. There is some old glass in a south nave window; and the font is interesting and apparently Early English.

The village has several parallel streets, joined at the ends only. Do I exaggerate? But it always seems so far round from any one of these ways to the next. There are four more or less mutilated crosses; the books mostly say three; perhaps they miss the one in the churchyard whose base and plinth alone remain. The dedication of the church to Holy Cross may be the cause of this unusual number. But its host of little bridges is the peculiar, the perennial delight of Ashton Keynes. One is tempted to herald abroad that it possesses as many in its tiny area as span all the rest of Thames. The wide and generous road leads you up one side of the village, at its left runs the stream, over which lean these little crossings to the quiet grey houses and flowery gardens and lawns beyond.

Cobbett was through here in 1826: "To a certainty it has been a large market town; and such numerous lanes crossing and cutting the land into such little bits that it must have been a large town. A very curious place. "

The old charitable funds arising from lands or other property bequeathed many centuries ago, of which I suppose every parish in England possesses at least one instance, display in their fascinating vitality a very agreeable evidence of the stubborn honesty of humankind. Yet there are occasional disappearances, due sometimes no doubt to actual misappropriation, often to a gradual lapse into oblivion. Here at Ashton Keynes, for example, there were awarded to the overseers of the poor in 1778 two parcels of land, whose ancient boundaries are described (one was in the Home Ground, and one in the Hurst); but which cannot now be even identified, and of which nothing is known as to why they ceased to be the property of the parish.

A mile and a half across the fields lies Somerford Keynes, with a graceful Early English church considerably restored. The most charming sight in it, I think, is the tomb of Robert Straung. Has his epitaph a pun in the tail of it?

Dormientem hic habes Robertum Straung Filium Unigenitum et Posthumum Roberti Straung de Somerford Keynes in agro Wilts armigeri et Janae uxoris, fihiae Anthoni Hungerford de Black Bourton in agro Oxon Militis, Qui e quinis sororibus tres habuit Superstites, Quae concurrentibus maritis Fragile hoc erexerunt Monumentum in fratris sui memoriam, qui e vivis decessit
14 die Junij Anno Dom 1654
Etatis sue 23

Non jacet hic Straung, attamen hic jacet ille Robertus Qui modo Straung fuerat, Straung abit, ille manet.

After his death the property was divided up amongst his three surviving sisters; and it is still held by descendants of that one of them who married a Mr. Foyle. A sweet-faced young gentleman Master Straung must have been, judging from his reclining effigy.

The old world sliding latch to the church door affords its own peculiar little pleasure; and in the rudest shaped niche on the nave wall is preserved a fragment of archaic sculpture. Along beyond the west end of the churchyard stands a most lovely old house. The meadows through which you pass on by the Riverside are said to be famous for the Grass of Parnassus wildflower. "Its waxy petals and delicate pink centre," writes an enthusiastic local botanist,"make it a fit flower to adorn the white dress of a Grecian maiden. In imagination one sees the meadows around the poetic spring of Castalia visited by the fair ones of old Greece to gather these sweet classic blossoms. "

Pool Keynes

Pool Keynes Church Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Pool Keynes Church
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J Beadon.

Pool Keynes is a tiny community about a mile away across the Thames beyond Somerford old mill. This mill is a farm now; but there are still both the mill-head and the natural streams to be discerned. The church is dwarfed beside its neighbour the grey gaunt Parsonage farm. There is a good deal of round arch and wide splaying about the windows, and the chancel arch is round; but there has been so much neat, vague "restoration" and scraping that one hesitates to pronounce anything Norman. The most interesting thing in it is perhaps the old Perpendicular carved wooden pulpit; or is it the line quoted from Young by a wife bereft of her husband? "When such friends part, 't is the survivor dies. "

Yet look in the extreme southwest corner of the nave, behind the font, and you will find a queer old high relief built into the wall: five kneeling girls in Elizabethan coifs, with three more heads peeping over their shoulders; worth all the ruinous wet of an unseasonable August morning to come and behold. Directly across the nave a sculptured coat-of-arms has also been built into the wall.

At the cross roads in the village is an old cross base, upon which in 1887 a modern pillar was erected to commemorate the jubilee year of Queen Victoria's reign.


About a mile and a half due north lies Ewen, a charming little cluster of cots and farmhouses, with a level bridge over the tiny stream that whispers through, cradled in forget-me-nots. Peacock knew it:

Sweet is thy course, and clear, and still,
By Ewan's old neglected mill:
Green shores thy narrow streams confine,
Where blooms the modest eglantine;
And hawthorn boughs o'ershadowing spread
To canopy thy infant bed.

But very little beyond this, except in such wet summers as 1907, the desolating and depressing spectacle ensues of a river bed six feet deep in many places, with no connected stream running through it. All you get in arid seasons is an infrequent pool of still and not always sweet water. One's first emotion is almost to tears; the second one of absurd anger at that inhuman engine sucking away the streams of the springs that should send a pleasant rivulet coursing herealong! So I felt in the exceptional drought of 1906; but they say the bed had not been quite so waterless for eighteen summers previously.


Kemble is a well kept little village a mile west across the River. It stands on the slope of a hill above the right bank, the first community on the Thames, which is known to local and indulgent affection as "the brook. " It lies "in a delicate Campania," says Aubrey,"a mile from Cirencester": a curious slip of the genial old observer. But Kemble, under the deed of gift of a pious lady to the present lord of the manor, has no inn. I imagine these landowners who prevent such accommodation for travellers anticipate thereby some special grace from heaven; but meanwhile they seem to be interfering overmuch with the freedom and comfort of those who, tired sometimes to exhaustion, depend upon finding such establishments in English villages. There is indeed the Coffee Tavern, where you seem to be able to get everything material except ale; but why should the absence of ale cause such a deplorable deficiency in homelikeness, in geniality and allurement?

All Saints church dates from about 1200 or a little later. Its nave was almost entirely rebuilt, partly from original materials, in 1877, owing to bad foundations. Its spire, set up about 1450, surmounts the tops of the surrounding trees, looking perhaps almost too tall and graceful, in its height of one hundred and twenty feet, for the tower from which it springs. It was struck by lightning and much damaged in July, 1834. Within, one of the transept windows contains some curious dark-coloured old glass; and a painted board, with skull and crossbones at each corner, interested me.

of Beata and Edward the deare
wife and Son of Mr Richard Pitt, both
interred within these walls, shee
the 26th day of AprilI 1650, hee
the 29th day of March, 1656
who { Conflicted } in ye Church { militant }
who { were buried } in ye Church { materiall }
who { Do reigne } in ye Church { triumphant }
She died i'th noone, he in the morne of Age
Yet vertue (though not yeres) fil'd their lives page
Posuit maritus maestissimus
paterque plorans.

The remarkably handsome and lofty south porch was built perhaps by William de Colerne, Abbot of Malmesbury, about 1280, the church being the property of that abbey. It has a Norman inner door, over which is built into the wall a stone engraved with an ancient rood. The wide shallow buttresses of the tower seem to indicate lingering Norman influence. The great shady yew on the west of the tower is possibly older than the church itself. It is eighteen feet six inches in girth six feet above the ground, and another slender tree has uncannily grown up inside the hollow bole. Hall states that the north side of the church is called Ewen aisle, commemorating a former chapel at that place, demolished when this church was erected; the materials were perhaps used for the aisle. The list of priests includes Willus de Maidenhaith in 1327; and quaintly named Thomas Twysaday in 1554.

Kemble is first mentioned in a grant of land in 682; and appears in Domesday as Chemele, which indeed is the local pronunciation of the name. Cook's book of the Thames gives the width of the water at Kemble as twelve yards, in the beginning of the nineteenth century. A Saxon village was uncovered in 1856 at the foot of the hill where the railway arch crosses the Thames. The bodies all lay east and west, scarcely six inches below the surface. Who taught Samoa the same observance? A grove near the church is believed to have been the scene of ancient Druid sacrifices.

Chapter XIV - Thames Head

Thames Head

Where Kemble's wood-embosomed spire
Adorns the solitary glade, ...
Thy bounteous urn, light murmuring, flings
the treasures of its infant springs, ...
With flag-flowers fringed and whispering reeds,
Along the many-colored meads.

So Peacock describes the native appearance of Thames as he knew it. But the lines sometimes sound the merest mockery now, as one walks in dry seasons the hard bed of the little River, tangled with brambles and paved here and there with death-dry boulders, polluted too with empty tins and broken sherds and surmounted with minatory notices against trespassers; so that you will cry out at the sight more sharply than that urbane poet Odi profanum vugus, et arceo.

Even in wet summers there is no water within a quarter of a mile east of the Severn Canal pumping station the motive power of which seems at first to have been the wind; in Ireland's old book of 1792 there is a drawing shewing it with sails just like a windmill. The watercress beds that lie at this distance have been observed for at least a century and a half. Arrived at the engine house you will find, within a rough fence on the hitherward side of the embankment, the old Hoar Stone, a small lichened monolith of about two and a half feet high, with three steps cut upon its narrow edge at some modern time to fit it for the debased purpose of a horse block. Hall says it is mentioned in a grant of land by King Aethelstan in 931; it is perhaps the oldest work of man's hands upon the banks of the Thames. Its use as a horse block existed before the Akeman Street was bordered by the present walls which now separate the stone from the roadway, which, no doubt, it once more closely adjoined. It still lies, you notice, by the border line of two counties, as in Roman times it stood on the linea finitima of two territoria. Possibly it once marked a place of sepulchre, as many of these old stones did.

You may now climb up on to the canal towpath, and, leaving Wiltshire for Gloucestershire as you pass beneath the arch that carries Akeman Street over the canal, walk northwards for nearly half a mile until you pass the stone which records the seventeenth canal mile from Inglesham, and arrive within about fifty yards of two cottages that lie across the water. Get over the wall and down the embankment, and after a little search you will find the old ivy-clad ash, with T H carved upon its trunk about a yard from the ground, leaning over the slightly hollowed earth where once rose Thames and all his history. There was formerly a quite efficient well,"enclosed," says Boydell, writing in 1794 and giving a drawing of it,"within a circular wall of stone raised eight feet from the surface of the meadow. " There is neither wall nor well now; and I do not think you will ever find any water in summertime; Ireland says there never was in his day, and Rudder also: in winter, or better still a late, wet spring, you may be more fortunate. Even Leland in the sixteenth century wrote "Wher as the very Hed of Ifis ys in a great Somer Drought apperith very litle or no Water, yet is the Stream fervid with many Ofsprings resorting to one Botom. " There is a second dry source some little way along the narrow meadow by which you may return to Akeman Street; and the third, the only one at all constant, is at the watercress beds of which I have spoken.

The hill across the canal is called Trewsbury Castle, a former Roman encampment, now all dug up and built upon. Many of their coins and weapons have been disinterred; there seems to have been another Roman post of observation close by.

This is that Trewsbury Mead, in the parish of Coates in Gloucestershire, in which you will at last find this empty little source three hundred and seventy six feet nearer heaven than where Thames is again lost, where his soul is forever set free, within the sea.

Now of some of these places I will briefly write again, for though I had at length reached the source of the River, it had been, west of Cricklade, chiefly by the roads, as you may have noticed. And in order quite intimately to view the first miles of Thames I left that same Cricklade one cloudy August morning by the left bank to walk upstream. I noticed again what always seems so striking the inconsiderable brook it is that runs under the town bridge. "Is that the Thames? " has been the amused question from many lips, It manifests just there no likelihood of greatness although in the meadows above you may often discern the unmistakeable promise of a River that by Thanet shall merge into the infinite sea.

I passed West Mill, an ancient building bought up by the Conservancy for disuse. In the meadow in which it stands, still called the "rustling ground," an old nurse yet alive, the granddaughter of a former miller at this very mill, remembers hearing as a child the shouts of the wrestlers and the noise of the backsword play. She recollects, too, being taken into the Vale Hotel in Cricklade (where they have often been good to me), three quarters of a century ago, and held up at one of the windows to see the morris dancers, and in her old wise ears there still echoes the jingling of the little bells they wore upon their leggings. Another meadow near at hand is called the "Stank. " Is it the one you cross to reach the mill? No one could tell me the meaning of this curious name. Here is still a head of water sufficiently important; but it runs away by a side sluice and none goes now to drive the stones. Parallel for a little, and then divergent, crawls that North Wilts Canal of which I write elsewhere. On the right hand I saw the chimney of Latton mill of Domesday.

Canal crossing Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker

Passing a few meadows I arrived where this same canal crosses the Thames, its embankment sloping right down to the River's level like the bank at the end of a lake; so that here, for a few yards, Thames is entirely lost to sight. Perhaps if you cannot picture anything so curious the little drawing may help you. In times of exceptional lowness of water the heads of the three or four culvert arches through which he flows become visible. Here there is no immediate crossing. Climbing up, therefore, on to the canal path, and turning northward, I prayed for a bridge or a lock; and in about a quarter of a mile a lock was vouchsafed me. Little hayricks stood upon it by the lock-house; its timbers were in ruins; and beyond, where the channel widens to a pool, the water was covered with a drab green scum, in which an enormous punt lay rotting. Such is the doom the railway imposes upon this ill fated waterway, which otherwise might afford a livelihood and cheap transit to a multitude of people.

Now this length of canal along which I so walked is interesting in that, for a quarter of a mile or so, it marks, or very closely marches with, the western boundary of the more westerly of those two spurs of Wiltshire that strike upwards into Gloucester-shire. When as a child I used to play with those puzzle maps, whereof each irregularly shaped piece represented a county, I well remember that at the top of Wiltshire there were a pair of projections that, in every set I became acquainted with, got most annoyingly broken off and lost. Now these two wedges have a peculiar historic interest; for they doubtless represent (and symbolize, if you will think of it) the ancient effort of the great Wessex kingdom, through its Wilsaetae tribe, to get or to retain a firm grip, at this northwestern corner of their territory, upon both banks of the Thames where it was of least use, being narrow and shallow, as a protection against hostilities. Just here they were very vulnerably exposed to the Hwiccas. That great dim battle at Kempsford was an instance of this local danger, occurring as it did in the first year, 802, of the reign of their new king, great Egbert. The Hwiccas were the immediate aggressors, but they acted as the subjects of Mercia their overlord; and war with Mercia seems to have been as inevitable an inheritance for Wessex as once with France for England.

And it was not only the Thames they desired to retain. You will notice upon the map that the western projection, bluntheaded, and reaching not so far north as the other, encloses with an appreciable strip of country upon either side some three miles of Irmin Street lying beyond the natural Thames delimitation of northern Wiltshire. The eastern wedge, too, tapers to a sharp point just north of another great road that runs east from Cirencester through Fairford to Reading and London; and so gave the Wilsaetae access to this track also within their own territory.

Both the west and the east boundary of the western projection is running water; the former a tributary of the Churn, then the Churn itself, and finally a tiny brook closely adjacent to the canal; and the latter the Amney Stream. Only the west side of the eastern spur is so protected; the other side, towards Kempsford, is an artificial boundary. But I think the whole gap between the two peninsulas, increasing in width from two to four miles as you go north, must itself also have been at one time reckoned as Wessex territory, and not merely the present mile of it north of Thames; for Poulton, which lies well beyond the level of the two horns, was within modern times an isolated appanage of Wiltshire, as you will hear. No doubt Wessex held as far north as the earthwork of Ranbury by Poulton.

Latton is the only village in the western peninsula and Marston Meysey the only one in the eastern; I will tell you later about both these places.

Returning to the point opposite where I climbed the aqueduct (ackerdock, they call it) I dropped down once more to the left bank of Thames. I believe the little brook you have almost immediately to cross in order to follow the River is the actual county boundary. After crossing the next obstruction, the Junction Railway, not without much dodging of ditches, I found the plank bridge against which Taunt notes a former weir. I could see no surviving indication; was it just a little higher where Thames runs musical over some miniature boulders that thwart his current, emulating, the little wanton, some torrent of the hills? How lonely it is all around here; nothing but the birds and the cattle and the fish, and the wide meadows guarded by accustomed elms.

Now where Hailstone Hill leans down to the water I found a more substantial bridge, still of wood but on stone piers, which a track crosses leading northwest to South Cerney and southeast to Cricklade. Is the curious name of this hill a mere reduplication (al, or ail, Celtic for stone); recalling some ancient Druid monolith once erect upon its height? Ahead lies Bournlake, whose name undeniably redoubles the meaning "brook," marked with a group of farm buildings and a solid bridge of two arches, one of stone and the other of brick. Here, says Taunt, was another weir.

At Leigh are two more bridges; one three-arched of stone, one of wood. The village is on the right bank; a group of gable and silver grey roof amongst the trees. Henceforward, until you reach Waterhay Bridge in about half a mile, there is nothing but solitude and the gentle stream rippling over its gravel bed beneath occasional overhanging boughs.

Above Waterhay the River divides for a little, perhaps for half a mile; and I went by the northern channel which is crossed first by an ancient plank bridge at Ragman's Lane, and then by another at Oaklake (another "lake"), to reach which I had to go round by the road, for wire netting and thick high hedges coming close to the water made the River bank impassable. And I had a great desire to arrive at this bridge, for upon its western side comes in the first of all "Thames's tributaries," the Swill Brook. Would that on so parched an August day the name had been more apt! But they have widened the River bed to twenty feet or more, no doubt against the winter floods, and there was no flow, but all was lifeless and scummy. I tell you what I saw; go you some flooded April and behold it fresh and living.

Here is that Ashton Keynes of which I have written much elsewhere. But it does not always live at the height of its opportunities; in the stream I beheld vile barrels and battered pails. What unalloyed delight might breathe from this little place of the lovely name were nature but enhanced with care and reverence. They have lost the spirit of the BIBE LAVA TACE.

Just where the upward path leaves the village on the right bank once stood an ancient mill, which an aged cobbler sitting by at work told me he remembered, but which was long ago pulled down. I came next to a level three-arched bridge, over which a lane passes whereby you may go northward to Cirencester or southward to Minety; and beyond is a lovely house whose garden slopes down to the left bank. In front of it in 1908 the stream was almost dry. I entered a shady grove, which would have been a delightful scene with any depth of water across its fifteen foot channel, recalling perhaps the road by the Isle of Wight Brook. A little level bridge crosses it, laid upon thin upright slabs of unhewn stone, like Keble's bridge at Eastleach.

A friendly fox terrier joined me as I left Ashton Keynes, and accompanied me several miles. I think we recollected each other from previous years. They find water enough for several outfalls above the grove, which perhaps explains the dryness below. Herealong I saw a little stone bridge under repair; the ancient masons themselves looked equally in need of restoration. By a plank bridge but little higher I returned to the left bank, and the terrier plashed after me through the limpid brook. So we went by a lane along the Riverside to Somerford lower mill. I passed through the farmyard and found a fine head of water above the disused mill. Presently at the stone bridge that carries the lane between Somerford Keynes and Oaksey, over which I shall tell you how I once leaned beneath Easter sunshine, I found myself stopped again at the end of a meadow, and while considering saw a grey bird swimming uncannily under water. Getting into the lane I struck Thames again across a large field, and went along to Kemble mill, an old and lonely place that now turns to farming like its neighbours; whither the River comes down from the north. Thereafter was a little nameless house, perhaps also once a mill; and then Somerford upper mill, silent and ruinous, though the adjoining farm looks prosperous. Many other mills appear on the maps: Skilling's, Washbourne, Pool Keynes, and the rest; but they are only names now, and the three or four I have mentioned are all that still remain of the many that once stood above Ashton Keynes. The wheels, if left at all, are "only good for a bit of chaff or root cutting" now and then.

Above Somerford upper mill was another little bridge; and after a meadow or two the waterside became very swampy, and the jungle of reeds and tall grasses too thick and impenetrable. And it grew worse instead of better; but I won round and into Ewen. Now of the scene from Ewen to the source I have written on other pages, complaining of the nefarious Severn Canal; and I ended my journey here, leaving the amiable terrier in charge of a farmer; to be restored to his owner, I heard, next morning.

River Churn

Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide - Seven Springs,

Oh when the wind is in the west,
The reeds of Thames shrill faint and clear,
And fill my blood with wild unrest
To wander where I hold most dear. . .

To cross again by Bablock Hithe,
At Rushey watch the rising moon,
To tramp again those highways blithe:
That day can never come too soon.

St Johns Cirencester Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker

St Johns Cirencester
Pencil drawing by Helen R Lock

By hard smooth Akeman Street I have tramped the three miles northeastward from Thames Head into Cirencester, the capital of the Cotswolds, a considerable town before the Roman occupation; city, it ought to be called, recollecting its walls and St. John the Baptist church. "Cirencester, commonly called Ciceter," says old William Smith's MS. History of England in the Sloan Library,"standeth uppon the river Churn, which is the principallest head that the Thamise hath, and springeth in Coteswold out of Cobberly poole, six miles est from Glocester. It is eight miles directly west from Lechlade, and was in tymes past a goodly cittie before Glocester was builded. " Shakespeare too called it Ciceter; and the discussion is eternal and quite a. little acrimonious concerning the correct clipping or abbreviation by which its name should be pronounced. You will notice that no one favours speaking~ it full out. Mr. Hutton is wholly and scornfully for Shakespeare's way; yet not uneducated people call it Cicester, and the countryside burrs out Zizzeter now and then. But the milestones and the townsfolk say "Ciren," toute court; and I wish to uphold this native and popular designation as no mere colloquial abbreviation of the full modern title, but the natural descendant of Corinium, the Roman form of the original British Caer coryn before the Saxon. suffix -ceastre had been dreamt of. I consider it a happy instance of the preservation amongst plain country folk of an original appellation rejected in more pretentious quarters. Lysons mentions a couplet which he saw scratched upon a window of the ancient Ram inn, by some commercial traveller, perhaps, bemused. with the eternal discussion.

Tell me, Mistress; tell me, Mister
When was she the Sirens' sister?

It runs trippingly in one's head; a smiling evasion of partisans. This Ram, I may say here, was pulled down only within living memory; it stood, I think, near Black Jack Street, behind the Crown.

[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: The Ram inn was in Castle Street, next to Messrs. Viners' the confectioners. It may have extended backwards almost, or quite, to Black Jack Street. ]

Cirencester is the meeting-point of four of the primaeval Ways of England. Akeman Street (Oakman's, or Forester's, Way) I have trodden coming in from Bath and the southwest; the Iknield Way also, which runs hence eastwards to Oxford; Irmin Street arrives through from Gloucester and the northwest to lead to Swindon southeastwards; and the Fosse Way runs northwest connecting Exeter with Lincoln. "I wonder," exclaims Hilaire Belloc,"that more men do not set out to follow, let us say, the Fosse Way. It runs right across England from the southwest to the northeast in a line direct yet sinuous, characters which are the very essence of a savage trail. Up the same line went the clans marching when they were called northward to the host; and up this went slow creaking waggons with the lead of the Mendips or the tin of Cornwall or the gold of Wales. "

The scene of much dim battling between the British tribes, Cirencester lay seventy miles beyond the approach of Julius Caesar at the first Roman invasion. A century later, however, it became one of the principal and perhaps the earliest of their stations. It is stated, a little vaguely, to have witnessed the crowning of Constantine as king. Was this the great Constantine of the Hoc signo vinces? Gibbon says he received the purple at York in 306. Looking about for one of the lesser Constantines to suit the case I find it may have been that private soldier whom, simply for the omen of his name, the unruly legions quartered here forced in 407 to assume the sceptre of these islands and of the Western Empire generally, having assassinated his two immediate predecessors. He went some way, but was soon crushed into the abyss. Yet even this conjecture may justly be resisted. In Camden's Remains you will read: "At Silchester, in Hampshire, Constantinus, a military man of some reputation, in hope of his lucky name, and that he would prove another Constantinus Magnus, to the good of the people, was by the Britain Army proclaimed Emperor against Honorius. " It is an interesting riddle.

Towards the end of the next century, in 577, when Wessex invaded the Severn valley, the town was reduced by Ceaulin, becoming the spoil of the West Saxons who under him had gained the battle of Deorham, about twenty-five miles to the southwest; "where," says Green,"Britain as a nation passed away. " In 628, fourteen years after their battle at Bampton, Cynegils and Cwichelm fought with Penda of Mercia at Cirencester, and afterwards entered into a treaty here with him. Cnut held a great council here at Easter in 1020, and another in 1030, at which, says Holinshed, the title of Baron first came into use. But I am forgetting the most enchanting morsel. In the first volume of the Gloucestershire Notes and Queries you may read, on the authority of Polydorus, how that ' Gormund, an African prince, laid siege to Cirencester, which, long before the Saxons came into England, was a famous town to withstand an army. For no less than seven weary years he kept his weary forces before the town and then set all his soldiers to catch sparrows, had combustibles fixed to their tails and set alight, and then let them go. They flew straight under the eaves, which were quickly ablaze, and Gormund succeeded in storming the town; in memory whereof it was afterwards called the City of Sparrows. " This is indeed a delicious story; sour Cox remarks that "the account seems fabulous. " Gormund was no African, but a Dane; and his capture of the town has been dated in 879, immediately after his defeat of Alfred at Ethandune; though the " seven years " of the siege is probably mythical; "poets," says Rudder, are not always good historians. "

The castle, which probably stood at the end of Castle Street against the Corinium museum, was perhaps originally erected by Edward the Elder against the Danes, about the same time as the mound at Oxford. It met the fate of many of its like during Stephen's wars; having been garrisoned for Maud. The king sacked and burnt it, with much of the town, in 1142. "Civitatem Cirencestriae improvise devenit, castellumque, custodibus furtive dispersis, evacuatum reperiens, ignitus depascendum commisit. " So runs the Gesta Stephani.

A little earlier, in 1117, an abbey had been constituted here by Henry I, perpetuating and elavating a college of prebendaries of older date than the Conquest, of which the great Reinbald, chancellor of Edward the Confessor, was dean. All Reinbald's manors were bestowed upon the new abbey, and they were many. Its canons first obtained a lease of the town manor from Henry II quite early in his reign, and quite early under Richard I a charter in perpetuity. The Crusader was ready to sell anything for his wars. "Omnia," says Benedict of Peterborough,"erant ei venalia, scilicet, Potestates, Dominationes, Comitatus, et cetera hiis similia. " And a hungry swarm came about him, among others Carlyle's hero Abbot Samson. So for one hundred pounds, as men then reckoned money, Abbot Richard purchased the town and manor of Cirencester, with Minety and other appurtenances and inaugurated those long centuries of monastic dominion over life and limb, labour and goods, over the growing spirit of commerce and of municipal enterprise, over taxation, and over all the dispensation of justice that could be secured, which grew to be much. They were strange old days, when every large landowner, abbots and others, possessed his own pit and gallows for manorial offenders; and smaller men borrowed the accommodation at need. This right of executing justice carried the other not inappreciable right of flemensfrith, seizure of the felon's chattels, and so was keenly watched and very promptly asserted, by abbots and others.

I do not think the municipal struggle here against the abbey ever rose to so epic a height as for instance at Reading; it seems to have remained rather a succession of detached squabbles about inheritances, the legality of private mills; a tale of much petty judicial trickery upon the part of the persistent, omnipotent,"immortal" monastery. The townsfolk were indeed "utterly beaten at last. " Their final success seems to have been when, in 1400, they appealed to Henry IV, on the plea of some effective assistance rendered to him under difficulties, to free them from the power of the abbot.

[ Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: Cirencester's service to Henry IV was: "Thomas Holland, Duke of Surrey, the Earl of Salisbury, and other noblemen, retreating there, and lodging in an inn, the bailiff of the town and townsmen assaulted the house, slew them, and sent their heads to London. For this service Henry granted the inhabitants all the goods of these noblemen and their adherents except money, plate and jewels. He also granted to the men four does in the season, six bucks to the women, and one hogshead of wine from Bristol. " All this in addition to the incorporation. ]

Finding himself able, after inquisition, to reward their loyalty, the king erected the town into a corporation, with a mayor and two constables and other privileges; though the abbot was still sufficiently powerful to get the new borough much reduced from its proper extent as delimited by the ancient Roman walls. But about 1413 they rioted against Abbot Lekhampton, and four years subsequently Abbot Best succeeded in having the charter annulled, so that in 1477 the town was referred to as being non-corporate. The resistance here had not that slow, watchful, inexpugnable pertinacity so marked and so admirable in the history of Reading; there was here no such great and quenchiess passion for expansion and high commerce,"muttering to be unbound," as there; and perhaps in consequence you will read here of no such terrific carnival of savage exultation when the secular enemy was at length deposed, when the surrender of the abbey, delayed till December 19th, 1539, was at length complete, and Blake, the last abbot, went down to small quiet Driffield with his pension of two hundred pounds, to an obscure retreat and an almost forgotten tomb.

There are a few remains of the abbey still left upon the north side of the church. It enjoyed the privilege of coining.

King John was a frequent visitor at Cirencester and in the Parliamentary wars the town was stormed in February 1643 by Prince Rupert, and recaptured by Essex during the autumn of the same year. You get a vivid account in de Foe's Cavalier. "About this time the prince being at Oxford, I gave him intelligence of a party of the enemy who lived a little at large, too much for good soldiers, about Cirencester"; and he marched thereupon through the deep mire of the terrible Oxfordshire roads, three thousand horse and dragoons under him, reaching Cirencester at early dawn. They met with the slightest resistance: but read the whole thing in the author himself; his battles live like Carlyle's. Read, too, of the return surprise put upon Rupert, who lay, I think, at the King's Head, for de Foe speaks of a back lane to the inn which helped the prince's defence; and you may still see theirs for a drink. Perhaps to Cirencester belongs the responsibility of having set the torch to those long troubles, so far as Gloucestershire was concerned, in its attack upon Lord Chandos during his attempted execution of the Commission of Array.

When Essex reached the town to redeem its capture by Rupert he found two regiments of the king's horse, newly entered into the service. "In one of their standards, the invention was the effigies of the Parliament house, with two traitors' heads fixed on two poles on the top thereof; the inscription was this: Sicut extra, sic intus. " After Worcester, in October, 1680, Prince Charles lay a night at the Ram inn, of which I have spoken, disguised as a footman: "The next night we lay at Cirencester," he dictated as Charles II to Samuel Pepys. And in 1688 Lord Lovelace, marching to the support of William of Orange, was defeated and captured hereabouts by the adherents of James II. This was the first bloodshed of the Revolution. Lovelace had ridden unmolested from his seat at Hurley as far as this, where he was captured by the militia. But the populace soon released him, and he entered Oxford in triumph on his way home.

Alexander Pope had a seat of his own designing, a little rustic summerhouse of stone, at the junction of the Seven Ways in Lord Bathurst's beautiful park. The Broad Walk, leading to Sapperton five miles away where the Severn Canal has its two mile tunnel, is very reminiscent of the Long Walk at Windsor, the roofs of Cecily Hill overtopped by the grand tower of the church closing in the view just as the royal castle does. But here all is richer and softer and lovelier.

This is little better than barren cataloguing; but what would you? A full history of Cirencester occupies a volume much larger than this little book. So it can only be mere indications that I set down and I think it worth while, as the town is something remote, and not a place the British holiday folk very busily frequents. To make an end, then: know that John Keble here became engaged to Charlotte Clarke, the sister of his brother's wife; that the chief local industry is carpet weaving; and that the functions of a sixteenth century grammar school, still standing, were removed to another building in 1881. It was founded about 1508 by Thomas Ruthal, Bishop of Durham, a native of the town. His endowment of seven pounds per annum was in later years and after much trouble rescued from Henry VIII, champion of education, and preserved to its proper use. Remains of the Roman circumvallation are still to be seen in the east end of the town, and the "querns" are still traceable, being the British cairns, heaps of stones for burial places, which the Romans also probably used for the same purpose. There is the bull ring, the ancient amphitheatre; and if you are interested in the Roman antiquities, the fine mosaic with its adorable beasts, the jewels, the drinking cups and weapons and coins, you may see them displayed in the Corinium museum.

The poet Young stood unsuccessfully for Parliament here in March, 1721. He had been sent by the Duke of Wharton to oppose the candidate set up by Lord Bathurst. Things looked very bright for the poet, and Lord Bathurst in alarm invited him to dinner and had a report spread abroad that Young had effected a compromise with his rival. The poet's party was inappeasable, and broke violently into his bedroom in the dead of night headed by a particularly truculent cooper, who so savagely menaced the supposed renegade with his adze that " I was obliged," wrote the poor man," to kneel in my shirt and use all the rhetoric I was master of, to save my life. Oh, that cooper! "This," commented Lord Bathurst,"furnished the unfortunate poet with a new 'night thought' for the remainder of his life. " Was it not this Young who once installed a new sundial with the motto Eheu fugaces and the rest, and then with some humour pointed out to his friends the aptness of the legend, the whole thing having been stolen the very first night?

The Churn and the Severn Canal both flow through the town. There was once a bridge at the foot of Cecily Hill over a little branch stream known as the Gunstoole River (in danger of being corrupted into "Council" Brook! ), and here was established the ducking or "gonging" stool for punishment by immersion of brewers of bad ale (women were anciently brewers), scolds, and loose women. "The woman was placed in the chair with her arms drawn downwards; a bar was placed across her back and in front of her elbows; another bar held her upright and there were cords to tie her securely in. The executioners then took hold of the chair which was at the other end of the beam from the stool, and ducked her on the see-saw principle. " The practice is said to have commenced in the fifteenth century, and lasted, at Leominster they say, as late as 1809. The little stream still flows along, but is now largely covered in, and no trace of the old penal institution remains. Perhaps Cirencester happily decided it was no longer necessary. It was, however, for very long a perversion of justice, in the popular mind, for those in authority to punish by fine instead of by pillory or ducking stool. Fines, indeed, to the stricter moralists, have always appeared a questionable form of expiation. "So late as 1745," says the Reverend E. A. Fuller,"Lord Bathurst was presented at the Cirencester court leet for not maintaining these means of punishment, and nominally amerced one hundred and twenty pounds. "

No brawling wives, nor furious wenches,
No fire so hot but water quenches.

This Cecily Hill of pleasant memories was originally called Inchthrope Street, a Danish survival meaning perhaps " entrance to the town," it having been the end of the ancient main road hither from Stroud. It got its present name from a little chapel of St. Cecilia, mentioned by Leland in 1542 as one of three parish churches: "S. Cecilia chirch is clene doun. It was of late but a chapelle. " The second of the trio was St. Laurence's, of which Leland said it "yet stondith, but as no Paroch Chirch"; the third is St. John's.

If you have tramped up the old Way from Thames Head you will have seen on a hillside to the left about half-way to the town the fine buildings of the Royal Agricultural College, whose chapel tower stands out prominent in the landscape. It was founded in 1845, and the Prince Consort held the first five shares, which I believe are still owned by royalty.

And having spoken of these things so meagrely let me now tell you of the magnificent church of St. John the Baptist, worthy to be a cathedral. Leland reiterated long ago: "There hath bene 3. Paroche Churches, ... now but one. . . in al Cirencestre: but that is very fair"; adding that the body of the church was all new work, to which Ruthal, Bishop of Durham (who founded the school), promised much,"but preventid with Deth gave nothing. " It still stands here, a glorious memento for the most part of the Perpendicular craftsmen, though there is a tiny trace of the Norman left: a small doorway, originally external, leading into the west end of the north chancel aisle. It is a church of stately distances, in the heart of which the golden rood hangs resplendent. Saved somehow from destruction in the Commonwealth wars, during which the church twice served as a prison in the fights I have spoken of, is a delicate painted stone pulpit of early Perpendicular design.

[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: Sir Gilbert Scott destroyed a Jacobean screen during the restoration he carried out in Cirencester church. ]

In the north chancel aisle is a queer little coloured statuette, of some old benefactor I imagine, unnamed, but holding in his hand a book upon which is inscribed the text about the blessedness of him who remembers the poor. The curious little image stands close against a ruinous old piscina. In the northeast corner of the nave is a cabinet containing some black letter and other old volumes; and close by a curious rhyming inscription is set upon the wall.

In lent by will a Sermon he devised
and yerely precher with a noble prised.
Seven nobles he did geve ye poore for to defend
and 80li to XVI men did lend
In Cisester Burford Abington & Tetburie
Ever to be to them a stocke yerely
Phillip Marner who died in the yere 1587

The heart of Sentia or Senchia, wife of Richard, King of the Romans, was buried in this church. This Richard having had much connection with Oxford in the thirteenth century it was once amusingly assumed, by some hasty chronicler careless of his dates, that judging from his title Oxford must have been well known as a university city to Rome in the days of her pride! As a matter of fact he acquired it," by purchase" say some, in 1257. He was the second son of King John, born in 1208 or 1209. Sentia, Sanchia of Provence, whom he married in 1244, a sister of Queen Eleanor, was the second of his three wives. In the struggle between his brother Henry III and the nobles Richard finally sided with the king against de Montfort, having at first acted the part of peacemaker; and was captured at the battle of Lewes and imprisoned till the battle of Evesham in the following year. He died in 1271, broken hearted they say at the death of his eldest son Henry, who was murdered by the de Montforts and immortalised by Dante. In the fashion of the times he bequeathed his heart to lie by the side of his third wife amongst the Friars Minors at Oxford; his own abbey of Rewley not being yet commenced; and was himself buried at another abbey of his founding, Hailes in Gloucestershire, close to the spring of Windrush. It was to him that his royal brother once mortgaged all the Jews in England as security for a debt. His earldom of Cornwall was elevated to a duchy in 1337, in favour of Edward the Black Prince. A lampoon made upon him soon after the battle of Lewes in 1264 gives him no good character. Part of one mocking stanza runs:

Richard of Alemaigne, whil that he wes kyng,
He spende aI is tresour opon swyvyng; ...
Let him habbe, ase he brewe, bale to dryng,
Richard, thah thou be ever trichard, trichen shalt thou never more.

There are some little villages belonging to the head waters of Thames which can be visited in a day's walk from Cirencester. Concerning Poulton, four miles out eastwards on the Fairford road beyond the Amneys, and about the same distance northwest from Cow Neck, the nearest point of the River, there is but little to say. In 1825 it was described as being an isolated parish of Wiltshire; the county boundaries around here were a long while settling themselves. The village has all the grey slaty look of a bleak Derbyshire hamlet "its houses the same colour as its roads," as someone says. The little towerless church built only in 1873, with a turret for three bells, is quite tidily new and uninteresting. The old church is described as having been "of pure fourteenth century work"; and elsewhere as "small and rather mean, and far away from the village. " It had a curious belfry tower. The only things in the place, indeed, that interested me were the two pillars of cast horseshoes, about seven feet six inches high, which a whimsical blacksmith has erected at the gateway of his forge. I believe the builder of these curious columns is the author of the following composition; I like the sturdy preference of the old tried ways hammered out by the racy, rugged lines of it.

The Smith has been a mighty man,
but, oh! the blessed motor
They say has come to do the work
called general agriculture;
They say the motor's come to stop -
at least it's the boast of their bosses -
One thing we know, if they stop or go,
they cannot shoe the "hosses"!

Then ring the anvil, brother Smiths,
in the light of the glowing fire;
Ring it loud as you shape the mould
to the feet of the noble sire!
And you, young Smiths, the anvil ring,
ring it from brick to centre.
Ring it anew, as you shape the shoe
to the feet of the sprightly hunter!

The technical teacher is with us to stay,
and is here with a grand intention;
And glad he will be to instruct you and see
that your work is worthy of mention:
I have sounded the anvil myself sixty years;
still I keep sounding and think on
That if I should live till the time that is giv'n,
I shall sure get a moderate pension.

A Gilbertine priory in honour of the Blessed Virgin was erected here in 1347; affiliated to Sempringham in Lincolnshire. Leland "notid a litle beyond Pulton Village Pulton Priorie, wher was a Prior and 2. or 3. Blake Chanons with him. " This priory was built by Sir T. Seymour in 1347, the latest of the fifteen Gilbertine houses erected after the death of the founder of that order. At the Suppression it surrendered on the same date as the brethren at Marlborough, January 16, 1539. These Gilbertines were "the only order of purely English origin and province. " Their founder was St. Gilbert of Sempringham,"son of a Lincolnshire Norman knight and a Saxon mother. " He lived long; from 1083 to 1189 and founded his first house at his native place in 1135.

They say Poulton was once a sort of city of refuge for highwaymen. With the interesting consequence that at the present time "the descendants of these people in the little village are a bright, intelligent race, very different from the ordinary moonrakers, or Gloucestershire peasantry. "

St Marys Meysey Hampton Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
St Marys Meysey Hampton
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J Beadon

Not more than a mile away nearer Fairford the church of Meysey Hampton, three miles from Cow Neck as the crow flies, stands above the hard road on the crown of a little hill. It is quite lovely internally there are some fine lancet windows, and the four Decorated arches that support the central tower are plain but handsomely shaped. There is a fine canopy and unblazoned shield over an empty tomb on one side of the altar, facing them. and fine Decorated sedilia and piscina The east window has some good tracery; and there is quite a wealth of the ball flower ornament as at South Cerney. Very curious is what I thought to be an old lock in the chancel, embedded in an ancient block of wood just as it was cut, I imagined, out of some original massive door. But they tell me it is the door of an aumbry, which if you open you find the stone inside cut exactly to the shape of a chalice. The church has been recently restored; there was one here, says Fosbrooke, before the Conquest. "Its west window is peculiarly interesting, and very possibly one of the earliest examples of plate tracery extant, in an unrestored state. "

There is an interesting mural tablet in the south transept:

Stay, mortall, stay: and looke uppon
The language of A speakeing stone
Nor wonder is' t, that hee should give
Speech to A stone who [bid] men live
When nature bid them dye: 't is hee
By whome I live; not hee by mee.
This said, I may againe be dumbe
I've fpoke enough to tell whose Tombe
This is & thou mayest greeveing knowe,
That none but VAULX can lye belowe.

This is that Doctor James Vaulx whom James I refused to allow to "practice" upon him.
[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: The full story about Vaulx is that James, hearing of his great reputation, summoned him to court to make him his physician. But on asking him how he had acquired his skill, whether from reading or from observation and practice, and being answered, By practice, his Majesty exclaimed: "Then by my soul thou hast killed mony a mon; thou shalt never practise upon me"; and so dismissed him. I should perhaps. apologise for the misspelt, quoted "practice"; the first hint I had of the story was, however, printed so. ]

The word "bid" in the fourth line has been partly chiselled out and the blank cemented over, but no doubt is what was originally engraved. The iconoclast dashed it out perhaps during an attack of what Mr. Gladstone called "incontrollable conscience" provoked by some seeming profanity in the sentiment. The memorial includes his two wives and children; the second wife having been a Miss Jenner, a descendant of the Robert Jenner of whom I have written.

There is another tablet close by that has been used twice, a true palimpsest; you can trace parts of both inscriptions. And as you leave the church you will catch glimpses of a lovely Elizabethan vicarage on the right of the road.

Two miles of enchanting lanes, all undulations and leafy windings, lead to Marston Meysey, a mile north of Cow Neck. (Merestone = boundary stone, Meysey. ) As you look southwest in approaching the village there is the St. Sampson tower still tallying his subject communities. It is very tiny, this village of the captivating double name; and so many have one hereabouts. The church is entirely modern, built only in 1875; and while there is much stained glass it does not seem at all admirable, particularly the east window. The rustic gate opposite the south door is the oldest thing about it. There is not even a belfry turret upon this little modern building. " Marston," writes one," is closely connected with Meysey Hampton. The Marston people used to go to Meysey Hampton on Easter Sunday afternoon and partake of a dole. The men had a pint, or perhaps two, of beer, the women half the quantity, and the children some cake. It looks as though the little place was long just a hamlet; even its previous church, they say, was built only in the seventeenth century. " As I have said, Robert Jenner reprimanded by Cromwell once lived here and his descendants after him; and possibly on the strength of the name the great Dr. Jenner has been associated with the place and family, but there seems to be no foundation in fact for the legend.

Down Amney Church Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Down Amney Church
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J Beadon

Down Amney, rather more than two miles westward and over two miles northwest of Cow Neck, is a pleasant scattered village of open roads and rose-hung cottages. The church is removed fully half a mile; one might superficially suppose for the convenience of the exquisite Gothic mansion its neighbour, belonging to Lord St. Germans, than for that of the villagers. The county boundary between Gloucestershire and Wiltshire runs across the kitchen of the house. Externally the church favours Kemble, though the tower and spire are better proportioned to each other.

Down Amney Church interior Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Down Amney Church interior
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J Beadon

Within it is wonderful, quite wonderful to behold and dream in. There is the rood staircase and the screen, and there on high the rood loft delicately carved in beautiful wood, crowned with a crucifix and the two Marys.

[Fred in Additions and Corrections, adds: Not the two Marys, but St. Mary and St. John. Delightfully Fred explains his mistake: Mistaken observation in a dim light; and "sheer ignorance, Madam! "]

The glass is bad, though its effect is pleasing in the semi-obscurity. The medallions are said to be from Siena Cathedral. The triple lancet windows at the east end are delightful in themselves, and their fascination is intensified by the tender colours of the glass, which glow so softly in the mystic half-light of the chancel. The church is a relic of Templar architecture, and a knight in chain armour with palmer's shells on his shield lies in the south transept Sir Nicholas de Villers, who held the manor in 1287, and from whom the Villiers, Dukes of Buckingham, descended. Beyond him a woman rests beneath a canopy, similar to that at Meysey Hampton. From this transept a hagioscope looks through upon the altar. There is some fine wood carving; the old work, including the "SIR ANTHONY HUNGERFORD" of the carved screen across the north transept, is from the minstrels' gallery in the old banqueting hall of the House, now divided up, I hear, into smaller apartments.

There is a fine old chest to be seen marked T K G W 1630 C W; and a splendid Bible on the reading desk, printed by that artist John Baskerville in 1763. It is very interesting to behold a quantity of the sculpture left unfinished on the Early English capitals; the spectacle brings home to you what you read in the books, how that often the capitals were carved long after the pillars were set up. Towards the west end is an inscription to Sir John Hungerford, who died in 1634, set up to his memory, and as a Memento Mori for himself, by his son Sir Anthony Hungerford, who married Elizabeth Lucy, daughter to a certain Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlcote. Is there a touch of Shakespeare history here?

"Let us now praise famous men. . . Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms. . . That have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported". Hear some of the chief things in the history of those men of this "great race and noble house "of Hungerford who in the direct line preceded Sir Anthony; in order that they may keep company in your mind with those other magnificent English families of whom I have written something heretofore: the Fettiplaces, the Besils, the Untons and the rest.

Down Amney House Gatehouse Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Gatehouse, Down Amney House
Negative lent by Miss Beadon

The earliest known of their name is Everard de Hungerford, who was alive in 1160 and afterwards there lived a Walter, who married into the Heytesbury estates (the Hungerford way) late in the thirteenth century, and thus virtually founded the family. They emerge into more articulate history with another Walter, who sat in three Parliaments between 1331 and 1336; and splendour first began to dawn upon them in Sir Thomas, the next heir, who also entered the House of Commons, and became the first Speaker expressly so styled, though Peter de Ia Mare had preceded him in the post without the title. Sir Thomas "avait les paroles pur les communes d'Angleterre en cet parliament. " It was he who purchased the Down Amney manor and estates in 1374. Dying in 1398 his son, Sir Walter, Lord Hungerford, followed him; a strong Lancastrian in the Wars of the Roses; Speaker, he too, in the Parliament of 1414, the last he sat in. He took a high part in the French wars under Henry V; and it is said that he, and not the Earl of Westmoreland, really uttered the famous wish for ten thousand of the idlers at home in England, in Shakespeare's Henry the Fifth. This Sir Walter died in 1449, leaving a son of the same name. They kept terribly to a certain few names, Walters and Anthonys; they even at times, it is said, bestowed the same name upon brothers of one roof tree. This Walter in 1425, during his father's lifetime, had got himself taken prisoner of war by the French and had to be ransomed at a cost of three thousand marks. In the BibliothAque Municipale of Tours in France they still preserve a missal of the fifteenth century, splendidly bound and jewelled, which was quite probably deposited as a portion of the ransom. It was long in the possession of the de Bueil family.

The Hungerford Sickles Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
The Hungerford Sickles from a buttress in Down Amney House

[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: The missal is one "a l'usage [perhaps of Sarum] de l'eglise d'Angleterre," and is numbered 185 in the said library. "It is of the first half of the fifteenth century, and its connection with the Hungerford family is attested by three notes; one on folio eight reading: Idibus octobris, Obitus domini Walteri Hungerford, militis, qui apud Provynce, XVmo die octobris anno Domini MA CCCCmo XXXIIA littera dominicalis E. " The de Beuils possessed it from 1458 to 1574; . births and deaths and other matters relating to them being inscribed on margins and fly leaves. No mention is made of how the book changed hands. It is well written, some red initials, some illuminated; but is not exceptional in form. " Further information ... contradicts the conjecture that it was part of Walter Hungerford's ransom in 1425; I hear from Tours that one of the entries states the missal was given by him to his grandson Robert in the vigil of St. James in 1449. This throws the reason for its presence at Tours back into uncertainty. ]

Part of Down Amney House Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Part of Down Amney House
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J Beadon

The Down Amney line flows, however, not through him, but through Lord Walter's second son Edmund, upon whom his father settled this property. He was knighted after that battle of Verneuil in 1424 at which the English are said to have advanced "lentement et sagement en bel arroi sans se trop Achauffer. " He was the first to reside here; and is the immediate ancestor of all the Hungerfords of Down Amney, of Windrush, and of Black Bourton. After his death I do not discover any notable brilliance, political or military, in the family records. A Thomas succeeded Edmund; and there followed an Anthony, who died in 1559; a John, who died in 1583; and then the Sir John and the Sir Anthony of the monument I have mentioned in the church. There is no doubt about the connection with Shakespeare history; it was the park of Sir Anthony's father-in-law the poet robbed; 'and this same father-in-law upon whom the poet is alleged to have written a bitter ballad, lost in the abyss. By this marriage Sir Anthony had an only daughter; he remarried without issue. This daughter Bridget married Edmund Dunch of Wittenham, and so the Down Amney line ends, with whatever sadness you are capable of. The other branches lingered on till the middle of the eighteenth century; and the family seems ultimately to have died out under circumstances very similar to the Hanger ruin, of which I have still to speak. Stet nominis umbra. After the succession of the Dunches the Down Amney estates were purchased by James Craggs, Secretary of State to George I, whose daughter Harriet married Richard Eliot, of Port Eliot. His son Edward, created Baron Eliot of St. Germans in 1784, assumed the additional surname of Craggs in 1789. He died in 1804, and was succeeded by his son John the second baron, created Earl of St. Germans in 1815. It was from this family that Hungerford Market and Bridge in London took their name. I hoped to be able to connect the Anthony of the interesting little episode in Carlyle's Cromwell with the Down Amney line, but he seems to have been of the Farleigh branch; I will not discover his exact relationship to this one. A tomb in the chancel is supposed to be that of John Massingham, first vicar of Down Amney, about 1250. He was one of the brethren of the order of St. John of Jerusalem. There is a village cross, the column and head being, I think, of restored work. Lately I learned its curious and entirely modern history, but will not tell it here. Down Amney, like Kemble and Hinton Waidris, has no inn.


If you continue through the park past the church you will come in about a mile to Latton, a pleasant little village in the midst of orchards sitting astride the Irmin Way a mile or two northwest of Cricklade. It borders upon the Severn Canal rather than the Thames, possessing indeed a lock upon the former which lies but a little way from the stony town. I do not think I know another village that so closely embowers itself in clumps of lofty trees; a soothing place if you have come hither from sun smitten Cricklade.

Latton Cross Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Latton Cross
By Charles J Beadon

Against the Way stands the headless village cross, with its tapering octagonal shaft. A mediaeval cottage close by is traditionally "a Roman Catholic preaching house". It stands just on the Abbot of Cirencester's side of the Mere, a curious footpath of which I will tell you; and just across Gosditch is a field still called Abbot's Croft. As you enter the churchyard you may see the bowl of an old thirteenth century font in which shrubs are growing; believed with some probability to have belonged to the ancient church at Water Eaton. You will remember the broken font put to the like use at distant Fyfield.

Latton Church 1842 before restoration Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Latton Church before restoration
Redrawn by Charles J Beadon
from a sketch in 1842 by the late Mrs W Trevelyan.

The church of St. John the Baptist is quite arresting, though Aubrey could find nothing here "proper for the observation of an antiquary". Some of the arches are singularly wide. The seats are fashioned out of the beautiful old faded oak that once formed the high pews; and on the tower floor stands a little oak stool bearing the inscription: RR WT 16 96
The glass is intolerable. In the vestry is a curious tablet; and in passing I may say that a modern architect "restored" and cruelly mutilated this building and others about here; and in so doing threw away, as his evil habit was, all these little white marble memorials as rubbish; though happily they were remembered and rescued. This one reads: Juxta Parentes Hic requiescit MARIA DUNN, Edvardi uxor Pia, Placens, Pudica, Proba: Puerperio taman infelix, Et in Sui Damnum faecunda Morti cessit 5to 9bris A D 1743.
One of the secular priests, I suppose of the fourteenth century, was de more continually bickering with his regulars at Cirencester, and avenged himself by having a fresco painted on the wall of the church depicting a wolf preaching to the flock in a friar's robe, while the true shepherd, the vicar himself, stood near to protect them. This fresco existed until the restoration, some forty years ago, when like so much else of intense interest it was lamentably, and in this case intentionally, destroyed as more rubbish, to the grief of those who love the church. Curiously, one of the corbels on the south wall of the nave represents a wolf's head in a cowl.
The back pew of the north transept is by immemorial tradition reserved for Down Amney House. On a window ledge opposite the south door stands a small block of rudely carved stone; a Saxon symbolical representation of the Trinity: a Lamb, a Hand pointing downwards to Him, and a seated figure of God the Father; reminding one of little, far off Inglesham. The timbered roof is dated back to 1400.

Latton Church Porch Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Latton Church Porch
By Charles J Beadon

The registers go back to April, 1576: "the 14th Daye of April John Ware, the sonne of Thomas Ware was baptized Ano Domi 1576"; Mr. Randall Ashton being "Vicker. " A field in Latton is still called Ware's Close; and the last squire of the name, who died a century ago, was seen in the village street at the time of his death within doors. Up to 1653 the usual Latin phrase Anno Domini is used in recording dates in the register; then up to 1660 English; and Latin is revived at the Restoration.
Latton and Eisey (Latone and Aisi in Domesday) were held by two thegns as two manors under Edward the Confessor, probably from Reinbald, and were subsequently united by Earl Harold.
Leland calls the place Latinelud; a rival to Lechlade for the possession of the Latin college that coexisted with the Greek school at Cricklade an equal myth so far as any evidence for it can be drawn from the mere name. The North Wilts here enters the Severn Canal; falling fifty-nine feet by twelve locks, they say, on its way from Swindon. It crosses the Ray, the Thames, passes through a hundred yard tunnel by Cricklade, and then crosses the Churn by Latton lock. And all, now-a-days, to grow weeds in picturesque stagnation.

A little pathway in the village called the Mere, running parallel with the Gosditch and not wide enough for wheeled traffic, is of curious interest in that by immemorial custom nothing but a coffin is allowed to be borne along it. It is thought to have been an old church path along the boundary of the Abbot of Cirencester's land; maintained dry and paved at the church's expense in case floods and mud should make Gosditch lane (by which you come from the cross and which in living memory was lined with a wide ditch or pond) impassable for churchgoers. Two mills are mentioned here in Domesday; one still stands, as I have said, on the Churn near the canal bridge, grey and stubborn; the other has been pulled down and only the old millhouse remains.
And it is quite within living memory that a hare started by the hounds ran a little way until being bitten she changed into Barbara Hannah Peopals sitting on a bank combing her withered locks; the neighbours had long suspected her for a witch. She retained the mark of the hounds' teeth until her death. She got fixed in a hole in a barn on the Mere when the dogs pursued her, the very barn whose likeness is before you.

Barn on the Mere, Latton Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Barn on the Mere, Latton
By Charles J Beadon

Its old thatched roof has been removed since Barbara Hannah's day, and replaced with zinc. She seems to have been quite a character in the village, though, like other celebrities, many anecdotes are fathered upon her perhaps without due authority. Tales were muttered abroad of her turning milk sour, and of riding horses at night, found trembling and sweating in the morning by the carter. At last he caught her red-handed, whereupon she evaporated into a wisp of hay on the stable floor.
Many coins and tokens have from time to time been dug up in Latton. One batch came to light under strange circumstances. About fifty years ago a cottager noticed a strange dog occasionally sniffing at a stone in his dwelling. At last out of curiosity he raised the slab, and found a heap of coins beneath it; after which the phantom dog never returned. There is another village tale of a poor fellow who had fallen into a rapid consumption. He took some of "them things as you finds under sto-ans" as pills, and recovered, but "died o' summat else dree months arter". It would not be surprising if the pills turned out to have been live woodlice. Odd local expressions are, to a child:
"Don't yer get a-'oondermenting with that there", meaning, don't meddle;
"'t is so burrow", that is, cosy,
"'t is a nice hedge, it burrows the garden",
"in the burrow", on the sheltered side;
"I keeps some in ambush", in reserve.
"You don't hear a man say a lo-ad of hay now, but a lode."

In A True Relation of The Diurnall Marchings "of the Red and Blew Regiments of the Trained Bands of the City of London," written, I imagine from the style, by one of the troopers, there is a short allusion to Latton. "Saturday, September 16 [1643]: We advanced from Ciceter five miles to a village called Letton; where were ten cart load of cavaliers, who were sick and lame, and brought thither to be quartred, who when they heard we were marching to this place, they then found their leggs and run away"; a little barrack room joke apparently, connected with the recapture of Cirencester by Essex that autumn.

The English Register of Godstow Priory contains an account of a little dispute at Latton in 1307, illuminating those old days, when the priory was presented at the Wiltshire assizes for having stopped "a course of water in temyse [not Isis, you will notice, ] I-callid Morheued within the liberteis" of Queen Margaret,"florem Francorum," consort of Edward I; to the annoyance of the queen "& of all the cuntre & cetera. " Godstow denied the charge; and proved that there were of old time "certain stones placed at the Mereheued, with iron and lead joined together to the ease and profit of the people. " I cannot hear of any spot likelier to fit in with this old record than one just West of the iron Horse Bridge at Water Eaton House, Where to this very day great stones remain in Thames; concerning Which an old man only ten years dead is remembered to have said that there were once many more; which were removed within his memory upon a timber carriage and used for the foundation stones of an addition to Down Amney House. The smallest of them weighed half a ton. If the water were unduly dammed here it would overflow into Latton territory west of Eisey Hill, the nearest outlet on the north bank. The queen's lands were probably just there, west of the Warlick Ditch, an ancient watercourse on the north bank almost opposite the Dance Brook, dividing Latton and Eisey. The spot would be peculiarly liable to floods. What Mor- or Mereheved means I have not certainly discovered; possibly Mere-head: the head or end of some parish or agricultural boundary running down to the Riverside at this stone crossing. Or even more probably, and still regarding the v as an intruder, the word may be a reduplication Moor, and the Teutonic heide, for heath; a waste and marshy River common like those wide spaces by little white-railed Rushey lock.
Irmin Street probably crossed the River between Amney Stream and Eisey Bridge.
[Fred, in Additions and Corrections, adds: Irmin Street probably crossed a little west of the confluence of the Amney Stream. ]
The bit of the Street in the neighbourhood of Latton was in old times a great place for highwaymen. One of these heroes, flying from pursuit, was thrown from his horse at Cricklade Wharf, and striking his head against the stonework of the bridge over the Churn was instantly killed. Other local history of the sort still lives; notably that once, up the bed of the Churn and in behind the old millhouse, there escaped that. redoubtable character: "him as rode Black Bess. "

"The winds that played, now brisk, now slack,
Against the stream, were driving back
The running waves, and made them seem
To show an upward-flowing stream
As man, while hope beguiles him, thinks
His life is rising while it sinks.

ONE windy April Eastertide, warmed but slightly with fitful sunshine, I tramped northwest from Kemble to view the land that lies around and just beyond the spring of Thames. The first primroses were sweet in the hedgerows that divide his wooded valley. You go through the railway station which so uniquely encloses a garden, (a bar would often be more welcome, ) and by a two mile avenue like a Dutch picture along to Tarlton. Soon you cross the Akeman Street, running right and left as straight as the Romans left it, from whose crest you may note at your ease in what a hollow among little gradual hills the fountain of Thames is cradled. There is the pumphouse of which I have written; and all around are the wooded slopes the ancient British knew. And there fell upon me that day a curious impression of shock and of strangeness in spying thus upon the threadlike puny stream, after having within an hour or two viewed from the train his stateliness at Mapledurham and at Basildon.

Speaking of the River in these terms reminds me again of those lines of Sir John Denham's which I have hitherto successfully excluded from my book you have seen them already too often; I mean those which contain the couplet

Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
Strong without rage; without o'erflowing full.

But if you are interested enough to look through your Prior you will find this curious parallel:

Serene, yet strong; majestic, yet sedate
Swift without violence, without terror great

A rather tolerable imitation; but of course Denham has first right, having died in 1669 when Prior was but five years old. There seems indeed at that day to have been quite a craze for spinning variations upon the original poem; much to Swift's annoyance, apparently, for he somewhere makes Apollo exclaim:

Nor let my votaries show their skill
In aping lines from Cooper's Hill
For know I cannot bear to hear
The mimicry of 'deep but clear. '

After crossing Akeman Street the road continues more or less as an avenue all the way to Tarlton, a compact handful of cots sitting upon a hill looking over to Kemble spire and the Berkshire Downs in the southeast, and in the northeast to the square strong tower of Coates. As you enter the village look to the right hand across the valley and notice the curious effect of the cleft in Oakley Woods where a green ride, a "light", descends. There is another like it on Wytham Hill, as you scull down from Eynsham. But Tarlton is a bleak spot in an April northeaster, with little to see, apparently, save the desirable grey stone gables and cosy thatch. I heard later that at the remote end of the village, along a private approach to one of the farms, there is a chapel with late Norman architecture once held by Salisbury cathedral, which still possesses a Tarlton stall.

Tarlton Chapel Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Tarlton Chapel
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J Beadon

This chapel had fallen to the uses of a barn and lumber store, and was reconsecrated quite recently through the efforts of the rector of Coates. Now this opens a little history which was somewhat difficult to elucidate. Many chroniclers mention a chapel held by the Abbess of Romsey at Coates. But it was not at Coates as now understood. In 1712 Atkyns wrote of Tarlton: "The abbess of Rumsey had the advowson of a chapel, and was possessed of lands in this place 36 Hen. VI'; and in other passages: "Here is a well-built chapel, with handsome seats and pulpit; but all divine service is omitted," "Tithes in Torlton, with a chapel lately belonging to the Benedictine nunnery founded by King Edgar, 907, at Rumsey in Hampshire were granted to Giles Pool 34 Hen. VIII. " In 1779 it was still in existence, but as a barn. Now Domesday says: "Cirecestre hd habuit Elmar HUNLAFESED. " This Hunlafesed, or Hullased, or Hunlacy, was one of the three manors which composed the parish of Coates, and which are all mentioned in Domesday though Coates itself is not. This was the Romsey holding, and it must have been in that part of Coates now known as Tarlton, for in Tarlton is the chapel still, known at one time to have been a barn, and with a permanent tradition of absentee ownership. I dwell upon this, because the copyists constantly reiterate that the chapel is in Coates; and a certain beautiful modern history of Romsey Abbey asserts the abbey's claim upon the very parish church of Coates, presumably through this confusion between the modern and the ancient places.

Turning northeastward to Coates on its opposite hill the white road takes a shrewd dip down to the Severn Canal. Here you will come upon another Round House, like that at Inglesham but without the poplars, standing against a narrowing of the canal that looks like a dismantled lock.

Where the road crosses you can see along a pretty wooded stretch of water the opening of the Sapperton tunnel. Tunnel House, a man at Somerford Keynes told me who had been through the tunnel, was built for the accommodation of the bargemen and their mules and horses. The underground passage, he said, opens in places to a height of about fifty feet, like some cavern of the Peak; and at one spot a spring of water gushes out of the rock on to the course, and you have to shove to one side to avoid being drenched.

I dropped down to the canal towpath and went along to see if there were any water at Thames Head in April; taking with me a bottle to collect some if I found any, as men will preserve the water of the Jordan. But all was as dry as in summer: only the little waterless hollow, with white violets and early cowslips growing by it; and overhead the cawing of the rooks.


Coates Church Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Coates Church
Pen and ink drawing by Helen R Lock

Unless you prefer the rough towpath back to the road you can get hence by a farm track into Coates. You will not often see so tall and handsome a house thatched as that which faces you as you cross the stone stile into the hard road. The name of the village is no doubt from the British coed, a wood. The Bishop of Bayeux held it from the Conqueror. John Wyatt, or Wiat, built the tower of St. Matthew's church in the fourteenth century,"25 yards high"; and seems to have rebuilt the chancel also. His name occurs under a "void niche" on the western face of the tower, in a Latin inscription beseeching prayers for the souls of himself, his brother Richard, and their parents. Lysons shews a queer old lipped bowl font; and the curious may see in Relton's Sketches a fine drawing of the building as it appeared about 1840. Of the manor house at the west end of the church only a small part was left in 1768, so that it must have been restored and enlarged since then. It is of undoubted monastic origin; and there is a legend of a subterranean passage into the church, all trace of which has been lost. The original building consisted only of the present north aisle. There is an arcade of remarkably wide arches dividing it from the south aisle; and a cinquefoiled piscina in its chancel. Its roof timbers seem much older than the others in the building.
A rector of bygone times, Tyndale by name, caused a large rose to be carved in stone over the front door of the parsonage near by, to warn his visitors that they were sub rosa, and not to go about tale-bearing.

Southward from Kemble the road to Oaksey also has much of the character of an avenue, where the stonecrop grows wild on the wayside stones. Just after a new red brick cottage, an eyesore in the landscape like those at Clanfield, you cross the railway, beyond which in a dingle lie the cots of Kemble Wick, their smoke blue and dreamy against the brown April woods that Eastertide. And I never saw a lane so thick with primroses. Here you will rejoice in the spectacle of a picturesque stone barn with external steps ascending its grey wall. And in the centre of the hamlet is a sign of the formerly dubious character of the boundaries of these two counties; a little wooden post bearing on one face "Gloshire" and upon the other Wiltshire. Nowadays the place is miles within Wiltshire, but I have a fairly modern map shewing the dividing line through Kemble Wick. Doubtless the souvenir of bygone things pleases the folk who thinly inhabit around; and indeed it is pleasant to see.

Just before the ascent into Oaksey you cross the Flagham Brook running southeast to join the Thames where Skillings mill once stood above Ashton Keynes. Not that it was running just here when I saw it, but stagnant and dusty in a dry and windy spring. I thought the first view of Oaksey quite striking as I climbed to the level of its hilltop. Due north behind me Kemble spire pierced white above the trees; eastward lay displayed the wooded River valley; and in the nearer distance Pool Keynes gleamed tawny yellow beneath the pallid sunlight.

In Oaksey village, once like Fairford held by unhappy Bhrictric, Earl of Gloucester, you will see a fine gabled house, the post office, with unusually high pitched roof. "Oaksey, ' alias Woxy, ' "says Aubrey; explaining that wuxi means a wattled sheepcote. The church, in spite of its crouching lowliness, is altogether handsome. The tower is proportionately massive, though in height only a matter of perhaps twelve feet loftier than the comb of the nave. It is not long since that it was execrably plastered completely over, but the good stone is now left plain to see, picked out with black mortar. The disused south door has a little sundial upon it, and both it and the west door are plain round-headed. The north porch shews a rather fine foliated ogee arch, and is yellow washed within, including a niche over the inner doorway with a defaced Virgin and Child. I was never here but once, and was unable, to my regret, to get inside. They say the great bell bears the words Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum rniserere nobis, with a crowned head separating each word. Is Aubrey's miesrere merely a misprint, or the fact? Henry IV is amongst the kings' heads; he held here largely. On the outer north wall is a specimen of nature worship sculpture.

Somerford keynes

Saxon Doorway Somerford keynes Church Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Saxon Doorway Somerford keynes Church
Pencil drawing by Helen R Lock

Going eastward to Somerford Keynes, Kanes they call it, you pass a notably clean little pond, beyond which the lesser blue periwinkle blooms wild on the roadside bank. All these Keynes villages took their name from a Sir John Keynes, who held in the time of Richard II. He possessed many other manors, very frequently bearing his name. His son John died a minor about 1376, and left a little sister Wentiliana of twelve years old as next heir. She, poor child, died in the same year, perhaps as well in those days of hideous pursuit of landed orphan girls. The manor was granted in 1380 to Hugh de Segrave, steward to Richard II; who dying about 1386 it passed in 1387 to Edmund, Duke of York,"with the wardships, marriages, and other profits of the manor. " The italics, as the newspapers say, are mine.

The road crosses the railway, beyond which is so called Oaksey Moor, still rushy and characteristic although entirely enclosed. Therealong you will again cross by a little white bridge the Flagham Brook, here swift and sparkling enough nearly two miles further on its way. And now the ground grew sacred again for me with my mind ever upon Thames as I walked, and his spirit intensified in the air I breathed, for in less than a mile he flows under the twin arches of Somerford Bridge. Two long-tailed tits preceded me, with short curving flights and flirting of their tails, until I came where Thames dimpled and swirled beneath a franker burst of Easter sunshine, eddying down to Somerford lower mill.

If you are coming this road into Somerford Keynes, of which indeed I have written twice before, you will find a little way in a wonderful group of stone barn and loft stairs and dovecote, which time has cast together. At the inn of the place the host is a man who knows his countryside and can talk well about it and its interests. He has some charming watercolours of his church and of Oaksey village, and a sepia of neighbouring Rodmarton where I have never been all done by his own kin: he does a little that way himself. He knows the Grass of Parnassus wildflower, but has never seen it in bloom. He lamented occasional difficulties with bibulous customers; they do not take kindly the forcible retrenchment of their liquor. "Goodnight, you old rattlesnake! " was not an extreme of their abuse.

Round at the "back," the unhonoured north side of the church, is a Saxon doorway, relic of the first building on the spot. it has a narrow stilted or oval-headed arch, over which is some carving of ropework pattern; and is thought to be possibly of ninth century work. Opposite the south door Hall saw a gigantic mural painting of St. Christopher and the Infant Christ. This was most unhappily destroyed when the church was restored, in spite of an intention to preserve it. The workmen carefully boarded it up in front, but not overhead; and when the roof was removed the rain entirely ruined it. These pictures of the saint were not uncommon; to the intent of "a representation of the duties of a true Christian. "

Sharncott Church Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Sharncott Church
Pen and ink drawing drawing by Charles J Beadon

Sharncott, a mile away, was the cause of a passage of furious rhetoric from Cobbett. It all arose out of the Act of 1818, commanding the clergy to render an account of their livings, the details to include the seating capacity of the churches. The incumbent here seems to have made a return which Cobbett angrily characterises as impudent; and in the year 1826 he went over to inspect. The return had stated that the population of the village amounted to eight and that "the church could contain eight worshippers. " He found the church had eleven pews made to contain eighty-two people; and as these pews only occupied about one third of the floor space he furiously roars out that more than two hundred could be accommodated; and the parson said "can contain eight! " You can hear the old yeoman's shouts as you read. The place is indeed small; a fellow to misty Yelford away beyond Bampton. There are only five houses; three farms and two labourers' cottages. Until quite recently it was a parish, ecclesiastical and civil, but is now annexed to Somerford. A notable place for charity, said the innkeeper there; fourteen pounds a year for the poor, and only these two labourers to get it; now-a-days in the form of orders on the shops for goods. Another bequest is of two fields out on the Cerney road, which the beneficiaries are sometimes too indolent, I heard, to cultivate efficiently.

All Saints South Cerney Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
All Saints South Cerney
By Charles J Beadon

All Saints church is an interesting little place, dating from about 1120, unbuttressed, except for one ancient morsel, with an elaborate and handsome turret for two bells, only one of which is in position. There is a wonderfully narrow and massive pointed chancel arch, framing a most ancient black carved door screen; an old tub font; and some traces of sculpture on the sides of the west window. The timbered roof is very old. It is curious to notice of what odd-cum-short bits of stone this church, and those at Oaksey and South Cerney, were all built. The south porch has a round inner doorway, over which in 1716 one W. E. set his mark; and this Sunday afternoon two hundred years later full voices and childish were still confessing their sins, as perhaps he did, before the face of Almighty God. The generations of men fall like the forest leaves to the ground and are buried in and forgotten; yet one of them in passing may make a scratch on a stone, and it shall survive you two centuries. Little childish voices upon the afternoon breeze: "poor little people! "

Onwards to South Cerney the road crosses a nameless fresh brookiet that joins the Thames at Hailstone Hill by Cricklade. Then you pass Tudmoor Cottage, a lonely, firmbuilt house that looks out from all four sides across the open levels. And here that Easter Day, late in April, a great snowstorm fell upon me out of the black heaven, and I made what haste I could by the winding road into South Cerney. A large straggling village, this, with a splendid church dedicated to All Saints. The north and south doors are both late Norman, and on the south front of the grand Norman tower is a fine old sundial. The fourteenth century spire was taken down in a panic in 1857, the tower having been struck by lightning and partially displaced; and in spite of appeals for help towards a new one the old stonework is still lying under the north wall of the churchyard.

On the outer south wall of the chancel is a narrow built up ogee doorway for the priest's use, surmounted with a pointed arch with much ball flower ornament. I wonder if these ogee arches were built by the Crusaders as souvenirs of the minarets they remembered in the East, as someone suggested to me. The chancel arch is pointed, with zigzag ornaments like the arch at Castle Eaton; a curious medley rather common in the beginning of Gothic. The east and west windows are both good Decorated, with plentiful ball flower. The Sunday I was there they had hoisted the Union Jack upon the tower for the first time, and it was straining wildly in the black Northeast. Down from the staff a huge new copper band descended to earth; they are touchy here on the subject of lightning. Against the southwest corner of the church is a curious sepulchral slab, upon which a male and a female figure are cut in high relief as far as the waist, where they die into the flat stone. It covers the manor house vault, which the last burial in 1900 filled up. The whole southern side of the churchyard is dark and romantic with the shadows of ancient yews; and here would be a fine tragical outlook for those men witches who on St. Mark's Eve in ancient times (or was it St. John's? ) would watch fasting from church porches, as from magic circles, to view the spirits of those who should die during the ensuing year come rapping upon the church door in the order of their death. Such wizards became a terror to their neighbours; for if one of them were in any way spited he would, by significant hints and grimaces, shadow forth the speedy decease of someone dear to the offender.

South Cerney has its own mumming play, interesting as a relic of the primitive pastoral sacrificial celebrations of the revival of life in spring, but scarcely as literature. It is still acted on Christmas Eve, usually in the hall or kitchen of the house visited. It has for its characters the Tanner of Nottingham, Robin Hood, Little John, the Doctor, Farmer Jack, Tinker Tom, Father Christmas, Beelzebub, and the Fool; the two last probably borrowed from the Devil and the Vice of the morality plays. The Tanner and Little John very early commence a fight, in which the former is wounded; whereupon the Doctor enters and proclaims himself "a noble Doctor stout and good. " "Bring me," he proceeds,"an old woman nine years dead, ninety-nine years buried, a hundred years laid in her grave; if she'll rise up and crack one of my golden pills I'll be bound in a bond of fifty pound her life shall be saved. So don't believe me any longer, ladies and gentlemen; I can cure this man if he's not quite dead.

I have travelled through England, Scotland, and France
Rise up, bold Tanner, and let's have a dance.

I slept at the inn under whose walls Churn dismisses an overflow to whisper all night over a little weir. An old man and his daughter keep the house; he is asthmatic in winter, but his lips part upon firm white teeth, and his ruddy, snow-fringed face can take on the sweetest of smiles that brought to my mind, I know not why:

A sunset touch,
A fancy from a flower bell, some one's death,
A chorus ending from Euripides.

He has lived here for forty years; and before that came twice a week through the village with a butcher's cart. So he knows much; but had never heard of the Juncare festival, when they used to strew fresh cut rushes upon the floor of the church upon St. John the Baptist's day, to commemorate the Preaching in the Wilderness; and I think the custom must have been discontinued a long time. He had served good old Canon Gibbs, who told me much at Coates, where he has been, they say, for sixty years. And his charge for hospitality I would not leave without almost doubling, so inadequate did it seem, even then.

Stephen the king, in his Cirencester wars, destroyed a petty fort at "Cerney" in 1139; but whether it was here, or at North Cerney eight or nine miles north, or another place altogether, I do not know. "Castellum de Cernei "are the words of the Gesta Stephani. Probably it was neither of these places, but one considerably south in Wiltshire, between Trowbridge and Malmesbury.

I wanted to start next morning by the curiously named Ram Alley, that leads away enticingly by the side of Churn; but the old man boggled at the suggestion, and talked of a "proper road. " And it is well, I learned at Great Coxwell and elsewhere, not to forsake the villagers' advice. Half a mile out, then, you pass under that curious, patient line the Midland & South Western Junction Railway: "Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow" which by gentle processes connects Birmingham with Southampton. I have used it several times, invariably at the expense of much waiting; indeed I got into talk once with a man going south who being nearly two hours late congratulated me going north upon my delay of less than an hour.

Canal Bridge, Cerney Wick Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Canal Bridge, Cerney Wick
By Charles J Beadon

Turning east you cross the Severn Canal, and may see a little way off the three black locks at Cerney Wharf, climbing up the hill close behind each other. Men were just setting out dredging as I went by; perhaps the Easter holiday seemed an auspicious moment for a new start; though the old man at Cerney was very sceptical about the use of the canal at all. For which I loved him.
You get a good backward view of the church and village from the bridge; and from the top of the ascent up from the canal level there must be a fine prospect south and east, but it was all dim and gloomy for me in the iron wind. Of all the hilltop holdings you know think if there be one bleaker and more fortified against the elements than this cot up here, with its narrow window slits in thick walls and very garden fences formed of slabs of native stone. Now Irmin Street crosses the lane northwest and southeast; firm and straight after what centuries of use.

I came next into Driffield,"a parish seven miles in compass," says Cox. They tell you the first syllable of the name is the British dwr, i. e. , water; bestowed on account of the liquid nature of the place. In the winter, says Rudder, an infinite number of small springs break out, and infallibly destroy the crops of corn, if not carried off by proper drains. He grows enthusiastic about the agricultural operation called "drowning the meadows"; and declares that if his description be not clear, it is worth the while of anyone interested to journey five hundred miles to inspect the process for himself. You may still see it in operation, I am told; though some call it "drawing" now. The savage Tosti once held the manor, brother to King Harold. You know the story of his pickling some of his brother's servants at Hereford, against a royal visit.

As I entered the little place there seemed a square stone dovecote on the right, and on the left three stolid horses trudged slowly round and round driving a chaff-cutter with a crisp and merry sound. The church lies quite through the village, and has had a long and various history. Reinbald the prelate of Cirencester held it before the Survey; and no doubt the first building here was Saxon; by which we mean how much more than pre-Conquest Norman? This edifice continued through the succeeding Gothic periods until 1750, when by Gabriel Hanger, created first Baron Coleraine in 1762, it was perverted into the fashionable Italian mode. Finally in 1863 the rector Thomas Maurice and his friends felt they could no longer tolerate this style in a Gothic land, and restored it to its ancient character. The tower is attenuated, and its widened top appears from a distance like a water-tank; but such as it is its restorers did well to renounce the example of Kingstone Bagpuize. They had but one window from which to restore it, left under the plaster of the classical building. An archaic sculpture is built into the south porch. There is a beautifully proportioned yew at the entrance of the churchyard, which is bounded towards the south by a high wall with most massive buttresses. Fosbroke, writing in 1807, has a note: "The marriage psalm, on the first Sunday of the couple's appearance at church, still remains"; a little matter capable of perhaps the simplest explanation, Nothing now survives of it.

St Marys Driffield Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
St Mary's Driffield
By Charles J Beadon

The church within is full of Hanger and Coleraine monuments of the late seventeenth century. Of the Hanger family it is written how that one John Aungier, going abroad as a Turkey merchant, acquired a plentiful fortune, and purchased the estate and seat of Driffield in the county of Gloucester, perhaps about 1625; he was buried here in 1654. He had a son George, whose heir was also a George, knighted by William III "for his steady attachment to religion and the law. " This second George married an Ann Beal of Farningham in Kent; and Gabriel, whom I have just mentioned, was the issue of the marriage. He died at Bray in 1773, but was brought, like his son afterwards, westward to Driffield for burial. I copied one of the epitaphs:

this place lieth the Body of
General George Hanger
Lord Coleraine
He lived and died a firm Believer
in one God and in one only
He was
also a Practical Christian
as far as his frail nature did
allow him so to be

This struck me as nearer truth than epitaphs usually travel. And there was a home touch for me upon the tablet of Dame Ann Hanger of Farningham; a village where I spent, in its secluded days, much of my boyhood time. Some of my own people lie buried there. Beneath the wording of this plain dealing epitaph lies an entertaining history. George Hanger was the salt, the "character," of this solid county family. He was the third and youngest son of Gabriel, and was born in 1751, just after the new Italian church had got itself completed. In the beginning of that curious medley, the Life and Adventures put together for him by William Combe (a Thames historian, by-the-bye, and a man much of Hanger's kidney; perhaps his fellow prisoner in the King's Bench prison), he writes of his father as "one of those respectable, independant old English characters in the House of Commons called County Gentlemen. " In this part of the book he mentions no names of places or persons; but it was at his father's seat at Bray, near Windsor,"in the best bed in the stateroom, according to ancient custom," that he first saw the light. "I am inclined to believe," he adds,"from the length of my nose that at my birth the midwife committed some indignity to my person. " He went through the American War of Independence, and uttered that remarkably definite prophecy which you may read in his book: that before long North and South would be fighting as vigorously against each other as they then were against England. His affairs subsequently became terribly involved, and he got into the King's Bench prison for nearly a year, in 1798-9. After his release, failing to get another command in the army, he started business as a coal merchant. Sunt mihi deliciae, suni mihi divitiae; Carbones! he exclaims in the end of his book, published a year later.

His brother William, third Baron Coleraine, died in 1814 and was buried at Kempsford, as I have said. The title fell to George; but either from contempt, or lack of suitable means, or both, he refused to accept it, and was always vexed if addressed by it. He had got into the Prince Regent's set, being always a handsome man (though fond of disguising it beneath eccentric clothes) and much sought after in fashionable society for his whimsical humour. He became indeed a boon companion of the Regent; "but as the Prince advanced in life the eccentric manners of the colonel became somewhat too free and coarse for the royal taste"! He died in a convulsive fit at his house at Regent's Park in 1824, aged 73; and the barony became extinct. The Gentleman's Magazine well quoted that they could "have better spared a better man. " He published several books, but none I imagine so entertaining as the Life, which frequently digresses into unconventional subjects, but always heartily and openly, and not in an "unsavoury" manner, as someone writes. In the later part he refers in more detail to his birth and descent. "All I know of the genealogy of my ancestors (of which I am not in the smallest degree vain, it being a matter of total indifference to me what they were, and from whom or what they sprung, ) I will now relate. " And he proceeds to print a queer farrago, quite out of correspondence with the facts, so that I can only think he knew as little as he affected to care about the matter. He even breaks into doggerel:

Three pretty boys did Gabriel get,
The youngest George by name, Sir
A funny dog, not favoured much
By fortune or by fame, Sir.

Of the elevation of his father Gabriel to the peerage he says that, the last of an earlier succession of Lords Coleraine having died without issue or heir, Gabriel, though utterly unrelated except by marriage, claimed the title "with just as much right as the clerk or sexton of the parish. After the same manner as Jupiter overcame the beautiful DanaA, did he prove his undoubted right. " He insinuates that a lady of high rank, well in favour at the court of George III, benefited very considerably by one of the glistering showers. He also relates an anecdote his parents used to tell: how that "the very gentleman (I forget his name)," probably Sir John Prettyman,"who sold the estate of Dryffield in Gloucestershire, which is now in the possession of our family, to my grandfather, came to the very door of that house, formerly his own, and asked alms. " "Grandfather" is a little carelessness of George's. A self-reliant, hard drinking, original, humorous, valiant soldier of fortune, I picture him; perhaps not without some right, with whatever limitations, to the "Practical Christian" of his monument. Within a month or two after his death the Driffield estate was sold, the house demolished and much fine timber cut down, to pay the family debts: a dark ending to their reign of two hundred years. The older villagers still experience his presence. "He has never rested," they tell you; and returns so that many have seen him. "On dark nights his coach and four rush in full career across the sloping meadows from Driffield to the park and along the avenue of Harnhill. "And I would not disbelieve it on some Southwest-ridden night beneath the glimpses of the moon as the clouds fly overhead. Within what leaping shadow of their flight might the old roysterer not career past. They tell of underground vaults within the great wall against Driffield churchyard, fitted and furnished, wherein he used to "carry on. " The village policeman had a grandfather whose very self had fallen through into one of them, and scrambled out again in terror of the dark. But none the wiser; he never again could find the hole.

A man of very different character, Robert Nelson, the author of the Companion to Festivals & Fasts, was a relative by marriage of the Hangers, and once lived here amongst them. He was born in London in 1656; his father, like John Aungier, being "a considerable Turkey merchant," and his mother, who was a Delicia Roberts, the daughter of another. His father dying the year after Robert's birth, his mother settled down at Driffield near her sister Anne, wife of probably the first George Hanger. Nelson died in 1715 in Kensington; and was the first to be buried in the then just completed cemetery in Lamb's Conduit Fields. He is said himself to have selected this place for his interment; with the result that a prejudice that had existed against being buried there was thus overcome; such, they say, was the strength of his example and influence. This old burying ground is not easy to hear of, but I discovered it at last under the name of St. George's Gardens, now used as a children's playground, hidden away off the Gray's Inn Road just north of the Foundling Hospital. The tomb meets your eye immediately you enter the enclosure; a square block of stone surmounted with the usual urn and issuing flames, and engraved on all four sides; whereupon you may read

H S. E.
Qui. . .
Dum Christianum Sacrificium rite celebrabitur
Apud Sanctae Coenae Participes
NELSONI vigebit memoria

and the rest, in that unfailing tongue.
Nelson was a staunch Jacobite, and would not assent even in show to the State prayers. Whenever these approached he would rise from his knees in church and take out and use his snuff box; so deserving the current satire

To join in one part, and take snuff at the rest,
Is basely dissembling with God at the best.

"Excellent Mr. Nelson," Johnson called him; and thought that his Festivals had the greatest sale of any book ever published in England; declaring also that Richardson's Sir Charles Grandison was founded upon him.

But the one thing at Driffield which I expected and greatly desired to see I could not certainly discover: the tomb of John Blake, that last abbot of Cirencester of whom I wrote not far back, who in I 539 surrendered his charge to HenryVIII and retired to the abbot's country residence here, with a comfortable pension of two hundred pounds, equal to four thousand pounds nowadays, and is said with all likelihood to have found burial also here. This residence was within the great wall, its grounds also enclosed therein being still known as the abbot's garden. The demesne sloped down across the still terraced meadow eastward of the church to the "abbot's well. " With the wreckage of this residence, and with material from the "Saxon" church, the Coleraines built themselves their fine house upon the same site. Blake's resting place, I learned afterwards, is marked, as indeed I had guessed, by the huge rough uninscribed slab let into the centre of the chancel pavement. This long lay under a rubbish heap, and bears unmistakeable signs of having had brasses torn out of it. Leland has a little note about the prelate's old life; a life perhaps of energy and service to his generation. "Mr. Blake the last Abbate buildid 2. Fulling Milles at Cirencestre that cost a 700. Markes of Mony. They be wonderfully necessary, bycause the Toun standithe all by Clothing. "

St Michaels Harnhill Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
St Michael's Harnhill
By Charles J Beadon

The road dips pleasantly down out of Driffield as you turn northwest to Harnhill by the side of a little tributary of the Amney Stream. At the entrance to this village there is a miniature Big Tree of California, through the opening in whose trunk you might certainly drive a sizeable wheelbarrow. A lovely path leads uphill to the church, bordered with ivied walls and overhanging trees. It is an innocent and mossy little building you arrive at, left with its ancient character unspoiled and the tiny spire some old chronicler noted in 1768; though even as I write it is under repair. I hear of many small discoveries an ancient ceiling of the eleventh century under the present one, bearing remains of painting as fresh as when executed; and other mural paintings under the limewash. There is a world of interest in the south porch; a graceful sundial on its outer wall and over its inner door an ancient relief of St. Michael, the patron saint, attacking Apollyon the enemy; called by some a Saxon carving: a notable piece of work. This inner doorway is a splendid specimen of square-headed Norman design. The pointed outer door is one of the narrowest I ever saw to a porch. Within there are fine old square pews, the wood only varnished, and not painted and grained as at Bessilsleigh. But these are to go, to make room for more worshippers. There are ancient black beams and much primitive plainness; and in the east window several odd pieces of old painted glass dug out of the ground when the foundations of the present vicarage were being laid. The little place has passed by various names: Harehille and Harnhull and the rest. The Tames of Fairford once held it, subsequently to the Hornhills from whom it is said to have taken its name early n the fourteenth century. In 1768 the annual births and deaths were registered as two each; and I should scarcely suppose the number is very greatly increased even now.

Dovecote Harnhill Manor House Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Dovecote Harnhill Manor House
By Charles J Beadon

Northeastward past Harnhill Park I saw eight bullocks in two teams ploughing the brown earth of the uplands. Then the road descended between hedges to the level of the Amney Stream, as wide here as Thames at Somerford Keynes.

Amney St Peters Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Amney St Peter's
By Charles J Beadon

Amney St. Peter, or Eastington for distinction, climbs along a little lane that leaves the London road, and its motors, at the side of a pond. Over a house that faces you as you go up is a wooden sundial of 1703; and in its garden a summerhouse of white wood and glass. The church conceals itself just beyond; and here indeed is a mystery and a wonder a little place that awes and silences you like Rahere's church in London. Once there was just the south nave, whose west end is full of potent massive Norman square, axe-hewn capitals and round plainness. Behind the ornamented Early English chancel arch are the rood loft and steps and there is a piscina left in the nave where I think the former tiny chancel may have been. No doubt there has [] been an extension eastwards; and a north nave has been added, in whose wall a splayed Norman window is delightful to remember containing a fine stained glass of St. Alban. What is he doing here? In the modern vestibule you may see the original Norman outer arch. The tiny tower ends in a point above the window slits: a wonderful little place, uplifting to see. It was held by Gloucester before the Reformation; not, like its sister church, by the Abbot of Cirencester.

"Across two fields" is Amney St. Mary; whose alternative name Easterbrook is still in use. Its church lies right away southward across the London road in the meadows by Amney side, and is kept locked for fear of tramps. But the exterior alone is worth a visit. At the east end are four enormous elms, two of them mere fire scarred, hollow boles. On the north wall is a strange bit of old sculpture of animals quite in the Norman taste, surmounting what may have been such another square-headed Norman doorway as at Harnhill. This kind of subject, inspired by the mediaeval Bestiaries, was much affected on the Norman tympana in place of the older Biblical allusions. In earlier centuries the symbolism was almost entirely Scriptural, but other designs gradually crept into use from the sixth century, under increasing protest from the sterner dignitaries of the Church. As, however, the moralised Bestiaries increased in number, and associated the characters and habits of animals more and more clearly with Christian qualities, the custom became almost ineradicable.

Norman Beasts at Amney St Mary Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Norman Beasts at Amney St Mary

The monsters carved here at Amney St. Mary appear to be a griffin and a lion, with two other doubtful heads probably human-headed serpents with coiled up bodies; vigilant; encompassing the negligent. Now in Romilly Allen's Early Christian Symbolism you may read the interpretation of the matter.
"The Bestiary says that the lion has three natures:
one: when pursued by the hunters he effaces with his tail all traces of the marks of his feet, symbolising the hidden manner in which Christ makes His influence felt so that the ignorant cannot find Him;
two: the lion sleeps with his eyes open, as when Christ was buried His body slept but His Godhead was awake;
three: when a lioness brings forth a cub it is dead, and in this state she guards it until upon the third day the father comes and brings it to life by breathing in its face, typifying the Resurrection of Christ after three days.
As to the griffin, it is a bird living in the deserts of India, and so strong that it can fly away with a live cow in its beak to feed its young, thus signifying the Devil who carries off the soul of the wicked man to the deserts of Hell."
Sir Thomas Browne speaks more flatteringly of this fabulous creature. "The conceit of the griffin, properly taken, being but a symbolical fancy, in so intolerable a shape including allowable morality. So doth it well make out the properties of a guardian, or any person entrusted; the ears implying attention - the wings, celerity of execution - the lion-like shape, courage and audacity - the hooked bill, reservance and tenacity. It is also an emblem of valour and magnanimity; and so is appliable unto princes, presidents, generals, and all heroic commanders."
I think this church cannot be much less ancient than its little sister of St. Peter, but it has no tower. Reinbald held here also: a strong and considerable man.

Amney  Crucis Church Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Amney Crucis Church
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J Beadon

Due westward the great road runs to Amney Crucis, where the Amney Stream turns a mill. I had a meal at the Mitre, whose hostess laid the knives at a whimsical and uniform angle that pleased me. It is a charming village on a gentle slope above the road and amongst the trees stands the handsome cruciform church of Holy Cross, held once by Tewkesbury. Here you may see the rood loft relics again, the entrance closed with a brown carved door. In the north transept stands the tomb of George Lloyd, who was buried in 1584, and of Anne his wife. It touches the heart closely to see the kneeling sculptures of his three boys and seven girls; the girls the very pattern of those who look over each other's shoulders at Pool Keynes. His most interesting achievement, beyond his family, seems to have been the recovery, by petition to Queen Elizabeth, of part of its endowment for the grammar school of Cirencester. There is some very fine old glass; a Norman font of 1125; and still there remains the original door and its ironwork that was hung, they say, about 1380. The five bells were gifts at different dates between the fifteenth and the late eighteenth century. On an early one is written:

Protege pura pia
Quos convoco Virgo Maria

Interesting are the pillars that carry the handsome chancel arch. In the churchyard is a complete cross of about 1400, concerning which there is a booklet in the British Museum. The head was found amongst some rubbish in the rood stairway and replaced only about the middle of the nineteenth century; forming a most interesting example of the spectacle all these crosses once afforded. The criticism has been made that another length of stone should have been added to the shaft before the head was replaced.

Cross, Amney  Crucis Churchyard Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Cross, Amney Crucis Churchyard
Pen and ink drawing by Charles J Beadon

Now here are the poor relics of what must once have been a more wonderful collection of mural paintings than even those you remember at South Leigh, though by the grace of God and its own reverence the Oxfordshire village can now cast out its shoe over Amney Crucis in regard to such matters. Of the number of paintings here, and their subjects, there is no complete record; and of those that remain upon the walls you will find most, faded and almost undecipherable, in the north transept. The whole seem to have been more or less visible until 1871, when, incredible as it may seem, they were first uncovered and then again plastered over, It is said that copies of them were taken at that time, but being laid aside by a former vicar in his coachhouse they decayed, and finally were burnt. The one that most fascinates me, and the legend at whose heart I have been unable to discover, is "Les Trois Rois Morts et Les Trois Rois Vifs. " There resides a recessional effect, a vague and noble stateliness, in those little words. At least twenty-five examples of the subject are known to have existed in England. Over the chancel arch stood a painting of the Doom, as at South Leigh; and there was an Erasmus on his wheel, a copy of which, the only one saved from the coachhouse, you may see framed in the vestry. Another was of Thomas A Becket, beheaded in paint by order or approval of Henry VIII, as they relate, on account of the saint's devotion to the Pope of Rome. You may still behold a faded Dance of Death, wherein the Skeleton converses with Kings and Queens and Men about the final surrender. An Ecclesiastic points to Death, proclaiming:

Ye men ye bee
This that ye see:

while over the head of the Skeleton is written:

Alive be ye
To that ye be.

And the last I will mention is that of St. Christopher, once, like its fellow at Somerford Keynes, opposite the south door, and, also like the other, destroyed apparently during restoration. This, as I have written, was a favourite subject; they say there is an example extant at little neighbouring Baunton.

Priests door, Amney Crucis Church Stripling Thames 1909, Fred Thacker
Priests door, Amney Crucis Church
By Charles J Beadon

You will see round the built up north door for the priest some Saxon herringbone masonry. This door was discovered under the ivy only in very recent years. Some think it would be a pleasant thing to reopen all these ancient entrances, now so often built up. Others again say not: "We do not want, surely, to destroy the work of the later centuries that closed them because, possibly, the church was enlarged, or some winter night the churchwarden found the draught too searching. " On the right hand of the outer doorway of the porch there is scratched a little priest's dial. And the niche in the porch was once used, they say, as a cupboard for a charity of loaves. Many Pleydells, who held after the Lloyds, have memorials here; and of the last of them, Robert Pleydell, who died in 1719, it is inscribed, had he married: Quam Beata fuisset Uxor! Progenies quam Proba! And turning thence I went by the great road full circle round once more to Corinium of the Romans.

Chapter XVII - Valedictory

Deeds all done and songs all sung,
While others chant in sun and rain,
'Heel and toe from dawn to dusk,
Round the world and home again. '

THIS is the little span of English land threaded by the beginning of Thames of which I set out to tell you. That insatiable tyranny of places, upon which Shelley cries out in one of his letters, complaining that though you think you have departed you still inhabit and frequent them, pursues me thence implacably; as any beloved scene pursues a man, whether it be a village deep in Sussex, a headland of the coast, or the onward sweep of some princely Way of London. For often out of its limits there return to me visions of some secret bend of crystal streaming water, green floored with undulating weed; visions of some tiny church set amid inconsolable loneliness; visions of the silver gleam winding through the wooded purple valley. These are the villages, the roads and their sudden ancient bridges, this the immemorial landscape through which Thames flows down to his strength at Oxford. These histories that I have related serve sufficiently to assure me that there is much of the curious, much of the noble, still hidden from me; but my book must determine.

And now there remains but the vacuity of farewell; not that emptiness alone which always belongs to the abandonment of beautiful scenes, but one deepened by the sadness characteristic of all these sunlit meadows and rippling courses of remoter Thames. Over them broods all day long the very spirit of solitude, of aloofness from the dust and heat and the busy blood of fretful modern life. You will most keenly experience this influence if ever you float downstream on the twilight running water around the bends to Pinkhill, gazing meanwhile upon that Hill of Wytham flooded with the last golden glories of the setting sun. Elder men of an elder Faith built these churches and will return to build no more; nor do their descendants rebuild or greatly need to, with such masterfulness and communal devotion was the ancient work achieved. Departed husbandmen named these fields each one distinctively; and often the names remain, but without instant association with living men and other names survive, altered and not now understood: of rutted grass-lined tracks; of weedy watercourses only less old than the River itself, and seemingly negligible until some chance beam of history illuminates them with romance; of mowing plots and abolished weirs whose grey and mossy stones still buttress the crumbling River bank. Others may tell you of the flowers, the birds, the fish, the immemorial shells that fill the Riverside with other beauty and other interest. It has been largely sufficient for me to pursue the work and the ambition, achieved and now so often decaying, of bygone English life in this tiny breadth of English land; this little region so aloof, so haunted with imperishable memories of pathetic beauty and of secret, unmolested peace.


[ Copied by John Eade, 2007.
Fred added 'Additions and Corrections' which have been inserted in the appropriate places. ]