Back to top
a singular character named William Patch, who describes himself as having, after an ineffectual struggle, sunk into the grave in consequence of sympathies that have not been found, at any period of history, to have greatly thinned the human race. The efforts he made are given in the following couplet:
“She first departed, He for a little try’d
“To live without her, lik’d it not, and dy’d.”
Samuel Ireland (1744?–1800) seems to have spent the final decade of his life cranking out one Picturesque Tour after another. After France and Brabant (1790) he returned to England to give us the rivers Thames (1792), Medway (1793)—both on this site—and now the Avon (1795).
Ordinarily, “upper” or “lower” when referring to a river means the upstream and downstream parts: in the Thames book, Volume I is the upper Thames while Volume II is the lower. But England boasts a multitude of different Avons that all have to be distinguished from each other somehow. The present book is concerned with “the” Avon, as in Stratford Upon. It is north of the second-best-known Avon—which the author promises to describe in a future work, though he never got around to it—so it is identified as the Upper Avon. Like the Medway, it is not much of a river by global standards: perhaps seventy miles or so from source to mouth.
And now the good news: This time around, the author seems to have had better luck getting to see the various fine houses he describes.
For general background about Samuel Ireland, see the introduction to his earlier Picturesque Views on the River Thames.
But now that we are on the Avon, it is time to say a little more about Samuel’s son, Shakespeare forger William-Henry Ireland (1775–1835), who accompanied his father on the 1793 expedition down the Avon. He is the subject of the 2010 book The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare, which teeters between highly speculative biography and very well-researched fiction.
Short version: Young William-Henry’s experiments started in late 1794, when he impressed his father with a series of forged documents, up to and including the handwritten “original” of King Lear. In the course of 1795 this led to an entire play, the previously unknown Vortigern. Staged in April 1796, it was . . . not an unmixed success. By the end of the year, William-Henry had admitted to the forgery. And then, adding insult to injury, neither the scholars nor his father would ever concede that he was capable of the work. (Postscript: For the remaining 40 years of his life, William-Henry Ireland supported himself as a hack writer using assorted pseudonyms—along with no less than three accounts of his forgery career, published under his own name.)
As in the author’s previous book, the Frontispiece is the only plate to carry an engraver credit, again Apostool. The artist is identified as “Burney”, which may or may not mean Edward Francis Burney (Fanny’s cousin), whose contributions to the Royal Academy include a few mythical or Biblical scenes. As usual, all other illustrations were drawn and engraved by Ireland himself
The scans I used were missing all but one full-page plate, a misfortune that is all too common in academic libraries. Whether coincidentally or by design, the List of Prints was similarly absent. Instead I resorted to a physical copy of the book. (It isn’t especially expensive if you don’t care about condition—which in any case will be shot to hell by the time the book has been through my low-budget scanner.) Fortunately the Plates, though handsome, were not so pretty that the bookseller took the opposite route: tear out all the pictures, sell them individually, and use the remaining pages for fishwrap.
The Map was originally printed after the List of Prints, immediately before the main text. I have moved it a little closer to the front.
There is little-to-no relationship between the titles given in the List of Prints and the captions of the plates themselves—and equally little between either of those two, and the spelling of names in the body text.
This ebook is based on the 1795 edition—so far as I know, the only one there was—using scans at the Internet Archive made primarily from a copy at Tufts University. A few missing pages were filled in with scans from a copy at Oxford University.
As noted above, the Map and all but one full-page plate were missing, and were supplied from a physical copy of the book. This was informative, as the book turns out to be a little bigger than I had thought from seeing only the scans. The page size, 9×5¾, corresponds to paper size “Medium” in Savage, bound in octavo half-sheets.
As in the author’s previous book, the word “remain” is sometimes singular. In fact it seems to have been a count word: “Leicester boasts two curious remains”.
Typographical errors are marked with and are listed again at the end of each chapter. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.
THE UPPER, OR WARWICKSHIRE
UPPER, or WARWICKSHIRE
from its source at naseby to its junction with the
SEVERN AT TEWKESBURY:
THE PUBLIC BUILDINGS,
OTHER WORKS OF ART IN ITS VICINITY.
BY SAMUEL IRELAND,
Author of “A Picturesque Tour through Holland, Brabant, and Part of France;” and of
“Picturesque Views on the Rivers Thames, Medway,” &c.
PUBLISHED BY R. FAULDER, NEW BOND STREET;
AND T. EGERTON, WHITEHALL.
[Caption] from its source at NAESBY, to its junction with the SEVERN
spelling “NAESBY” unchanged
[The author, or his printer, loses little time embarking on misspelled captions.]
THE very flattering approbation I received from your Lordship in the course of the present undertaking, has been no small incitement to my labours, and has induced me to pursue with confidence and alacrity, a work, in which the good vi opinion of persons of true taste has ever been my first aim, and its attainment the completion of my wishes.
The exalted rank your Lordship justly holds in society, and the conspicuous, venerable, and dignified mansion you so truly enjoy on the bank of that Avon, which forms so leading a feature in its embellishments, would naturally suggest a wish to find in such a place protection and patronage: yet these circumstances, flattering as they are, were not the principal inducement to affix your name to this work.vii
The knowledge and taste you have displayed, both in the works of your own pencil, as well as the selection of those of the first masters in the different schools of painting, give you a superior claim in appretiating the merits of others: and more especially of a work like this, in which the contemplation of the beautiful scenery of our country, and an invariable attention to every production in the fine arts, with which it is enriched, form the principal and leading features. Presuming, therefore, in some degree, upon your Lordship’s approbation of this volume, I venture to lay it before the Public, viii and to subscribe myself, with all due respect,
Your Lordship’s very obliged
and obedient Servant,
May 7, 1795.
THE Upper or Warwickshire Avon, though not equally famed for the nature and extent of its commerce, as for the many beautiful and elegant scenes displayed on its banks, yet deservedly holds a pre-eminent rank amongst the lesser rivers, that so abundantly fertilize our luxuriant island. Had the vicinity of our Avon in its gentle and meandering course exhibited less of the picturesque, or of the magnificent fragments of antiquity, than it can in so many instances justly boast, yet still, the honour it derives from having produced our immortal x Shakspeare, “so divine in reason! and in faculties so infinite, the paragon of the world!” would alone have been sufficient to induce the author to have aspired at being its historian.
If in the pages of this volume he may be thought in the smallest degree to have elucidated any circumstance of Shakspeare’s life, or any passage in the noble effusions of his more than human mind, his utmost pride and wish is fully gratified; and the author can truly affirm, that long since he had committed this expression of his feelings to paper, he has had the singular felicity of obtaining a treasure, which had not rewarded the researches of those who have been most assiduous and active in tracing the sources of our earliest literature. xi To this pursuit he has not himself been indifferent; yet neither to the present moment had his own enquiries been completely successful: He may say,
“Quod optanti Divûm promittere nemo
“Auderet, volvenda dies en attulit ultro.”
It is enough to add that he has the means, and it is his intention, so soon as opportunity shall serve, to lay before the public a variety of authentic and important documents respecting the private and public life of this wonderful man: one of his most affecting and admired Tragedies, written with his own hand, and differing in various particulars of much curiosity and interest from any edition of that work now extant; and at a future day to present a xii picture of that mind, which no one has yet ever presumed to copy, an entire Drama! yet unknown to the world, in his own hand-writing. This general information on a subject that, it is presumed, cannot but prove acceptable to every reader of taste and refinement, the author feels it a duty here to disclose, as it is nearly connected with the intention of the present undertaking—a History of that river on whose banks nature has in a happy and propitious hour teemed forth her proudest work.
To explore this gentle river, together with the various others so greatly conducive to the health and fertility of our island; to delineate their many picturesque beauties, and to become (however unworthily) their historian, had very early been xiii the favourite object, and has for several years been the avowed purpose, of the author of this work: in this aim he has so far succeeded as to have received the approbation of a liberal public, testified in the course of this pursuit by a rapid demand of his publications. The idea of becoming their historian, which originated with the author, and which he conceived with a view to his amusement alone, has proved, in its progress, a source of the most rational pleasure and improvement.
The mind, thus occupied, receives its gratifications without alloy, while new images and unthought of views of things present and impress themselves, and fatigue is lost in the double satisfaction arising from the xiv enjoyment of the scene before him, and the reflections that are suggested by it.
The drawings for this work were all made by the author in the summer months of 1792 and 1793; in these he professes to give real portraits, without sacrificing truth to effect, or striving to give to nature those fanciful, adscititious ornaments, which so often load and encumber her, and which so rarely grace, or sit easy upon her natural shape. In that light may be considered the many elegant essays, with which the refined ear of the public has of late been so much fascinated on the subject of the picturesque and beautiful: these, how high soever their claim to merit, whatever superiority may be discovered in the style and taste of their xv composition, may yet be considered as little more than efforts of imagination, and works of ingenious speculation. Nature still holds her original forms, the grand, and majestic! the smooth, and the placid! and these all wisely contrasted by her hand, generally produce in effect, that happy assemblage of parts, which rarely fails to act upon the mind, like the judicious combination of light and shade, in a well composed picture. To exhibit this scenery of nature as it presented itself, the writer has considered as his primary duty; conceiving that the pencil and pen of the historian should not on any occasion be otherwise employed, than in the delineation of truth, and should rather humbly follow the great outline she has marked, than loftily prescribe the path in which she ought to have trod.xvi
The writer thinks it necessary to inform the public, that the scenery of the river Wye, so peculiarly adapted to the pencil from its diversified luxuriancy, will be the next subject laid before them, and will be followed by the History and Picturesque Scenery of the Lower, or Bath Avon.
He may say, “Quod optanti Divûm promittere nemo
[Or, if you particularly want it to scan, “Turne, quod optanti” et cetera.]
an entire Drama! yet unknown to the world, in his own hand-writing
[That would be the celebrated forgery Vortigern.]
and will be followed by the History and Picturesque Scenery of the Lower, or Bath Avon
[The author died in 1800, before he got to the Lower Avon.]
|Source of Avon,||1|
|Bridge, formerly the Tripontium of the Romans,||49|
|Warwick Town, &c.||129|
|Entrance to Warwick Castle,||131|
|Warwick Castle from the Bridge,||140|
|Portrait of Sir Thomas Lucy,||165|
|xviii Stratford Bridge, &c.||181|
|Kitchen of Shakspeare’s House,||189|
|New Place, &c.||197|
|House at Shottery,||206|
|Portrait of John Combe, Esq.||215|
|Abbey Arch, with a View of Bengworth Church, &c.||254|
|Strensham Church, &c.||273|
|Mythe Bridge, Tewkesbury,||282|
THE river Avon derives its source from a spring called Avon Well, in the village of Naseby, or, as it is written in Domesday book, Navesberie, in the county of Northampton. Avon, Even, or Sevon, is a name common to rivers whose course is easy and gentle. The Avon Well is in the north-west quarter of the village, at a small distance from the market cross which stands before the church, in the midst of an area 2 of about an acre, as described in the annexed view. Naseby is remarkable for the excellence and number of its springs; not less than six having their rise in this village. The waters, falling from the neighbouring hills, are carefully received in many places, and form so many reservoirs for the constant supply of cattle in the township. The lower spring, in Naseby, called Warrin’s Well, is said to have a flavour so peculiarly grateful, and even an effluvia so inviting, that cattle are with difficulty made to pass it without stopping to drink; and, when they have tasted it, they are more eager after it than any other water in the neighbourhood.
Morton, in his Natural History of this county, says, “It is a blue water, indicating a coal mine not far distant, because the like waters are observed where the coal delves are.”3
Naseby Field gives rise to the river Nine, or Nen, at a spring called Chapel Well; which, passing Northampton, becomes navigable from thence to Wellingborough, Peterborough, &c. and falls into the sea at Lynn. The river Ise, or Isebrook, likewise rises from many springs in the northeast quarter of this field, from whence it winds its course to Kelmarsh, &c. and joins the river Nine, near Wellingborough.
This field produces another spring, called St. Dennis’s Well, about a mile west of Naseby. It is remarkable for the coldness of its water in the summer months; and was formerly used as a bath by invalids in various chronic complaints, with considerable efficacy. It is now overgrown with weeds and sedges, and is no longer resorted to.
The village of Naseby stands nearly in the centre of this memorable field, which is 4 supposed to be the highest ground in England; for the rivers Nine, and Avon, which take their rise in this field, discharge themselves into the sea, the former at Lynn, on the eastern, the latter, by the Severn, below Bristol, on the western side of the island. It is likewise said to lie in, or very near the centre of the kingdom; which conjecture is corroborated by its name, which is derived from the Saxon word Nare, or Nave, signifying a centre.
The village is pleasantly situated, and, from various points, commands several very extensive and picturesque views, in which are included near forty parish churches, which circumscribe this immense space of Naseby field. The prospects within the limits of the village wear a different aspect: indigent cottagers, and clay, or earth-built huts, are the whole it presents, and these, in number and wretchedness, are hardly to be 5 equalled. Naseby church is a structure of an ancient date; but at what period it was built, or who was its founder, history affords no record. The form of the tower is very singular, and strikes the stranger, at first view, as having been left unfinished, being only the half of a pyramid; but, on a close investigation, it does not appear that the architect intended it to have been carried higher; and indeed he hardly could have so done, as there does not appear a sufficient degree of massiveness or strength in the lower parts to support a complete spire of stone.
Some years ago, Mr. Ashby, lord of the manor, caused some additions, at a considerable expence, to be made to this tower; at the top of which is placed a large copper ball, which was brought from Boulogne, by Sir Gyles Allington, in the reign of king Henry the eighth, an. Dom. 1544. Its original 6 station in this island, was the cupola of Sir Gyles’s house, which he built at Horseheath, in Cambridgeshire. At the demolition of this mansion, it was sold with the rest of the materials, and purchased by Mr. Ashby, as old copper. In a house in the village of Naseby, built by Mr. Ashby, I was shewn a large oak table, at which, tradition says, a party of the king’s life guards were sitting down to supper, the night before the battle of Naseby, where they were surprised, and taken prisoners by Ireton, the parliament general. This tradition is corroborated by the Anglia Rediviva, published in 1647, by Joshua Sprigge, chaplain to general Fairfax, in which we find the following passage: “Tidings were brought to the general, of the good services done by colonel Ireton, in falling into the enemy’s quarters, which they had newly taken up in Naseby town, where he took many prisoners, life &c. &c.7
Probably these life guards were those of the Prince Rupert, not the King’s, as it does not appear that he ever was in the town of Naseby. From Naseby the river Avon winds its mazy course in a westerly direction through Naseby field towards Sulby Abbey, a distance of about three miles. This extensive plain, rendered famous for its many productions of rivers and salubrious springs, is not less so from the importance of the battle there fought on the 14th of July 1645, between the Parliament Army and that of Charles the First; whose fate was decided by that memorable event. Naseby field is near twenty miles in circumference, and in point of situation is most excellently disposed for a field of battle. The spot occupied by the armies was north-west of the town, and is easily distinguished by the many hollows in which the dead were buried. The word of the day, on the side of the parliament, was, “God our strength;” on that of the king, 8 “God and queen Mary.” The particulars of this engagement are too well known to need a recital; and although its consequences were such as to produce a total overthrow of the political system of our government, yet the effusion of blood was so little proportioned to that which has been spilt in the shock of modern civil conflicts, as to render it, comparatively, only a skirmish. Fifteen hundred are said to have been about the number slain on that day; when, as a mere prelude to conquest, in a neighbouring country, we find more than as many thousands killed in a morning. We are well informed that, in the civil commotions that at present agitate that nation, “it has already cost the lives of near two hundred and twenty thousand men, to stop the progress of the war in La Vendee, a very inconsiderable district in that country.”
The graves that were dug in Naseby field, 9 for the burial of the dead (an office performed by the neighbouring country people), are still visible. Several of these, from being sunk in hollows much below the general surface, we opened in the presence of the Rev. Mr. Mastyn, vicar of Naseby; they contained many human bones, as well as those of horses, and appear to have been about five or six feet deep; the soil within is of a black and unctuous quality, evidently enriched with human sacrifices.
Many strange stories are told of the mode of burying the dead at that period, and of the credulity of the ignorant with respect to their ghosts and supposed appearance afterwards.
The following anecdote, as applicable to the uncertain events of human life, and the hair-breadth ’scapes of battle, I received upon the spot, from the Rev. Mr. 10 Mastyn, and give it to the reader in his own words. “The late Dr. Hill, rector of Thorpe Malson, in Northamptonshire, brother to Serjeant Hill, informed me, that he had a relation, a Mr. Mansell, who fought in the battle of Naseby field, that he was wounded in the breast, and left for dead; and, being stripped to be buried, a young woman, daughter to an apothecary, happening to be upon the field, and finding his hand to be very soft, exclaimed, This certainly was a gentleman! She farther observed, that she felt a pulse, and consequently that he was not quite dead. She put off her under petticoat, and, wrapping him in it, had him conveyed to a neighbouring village, where he recovered, and lived some years after. He kept the young woman as a companion or house-keeper till the time of his death, when he left her a handsome annuity.”11
I cannot quit this subject without adverting to the chimerical conjecture of Oliver Cromwell’s having been buried in Naseby field: “Bankes, in the account of his life, says, that Barkstead, lieutenant of the tower, and a great confidant of Cromwell’s, did, amongst other such confidants, in the time of his illness, desire to know where he would be buried? To which the protector answered. Where he had obtained the greatest victory and glory, and as nigh the spot as could be guessed, where the heat of action was, viz. in com. Northamptonshire, at midnight. Soon after his death, the body being embalmed and wrapped in a leaden coffin, was in a hearse conveyed to the said field, Mr. Barkstead, the son, then about fifteen years old, attending, by order of his father, close to the hearse. Being come to the field, they found, in the midst of it, a grave dug about nine feet deep, with 12 the green sod carefully laid on one side, and the mould on the other; in which the coffin being put, the grave was instantly filled up, and the green sod laid exactly flat upon it, care being taken that the surplus mould should be clean removed. Soon after, the like care was taken that the ground should be ploughed up, and it was sowed successively with corn. Other material circumstances,” says the same author, “the said Mr. Barkstead, who now frequents Richards’s coffee house, within Temple Bar, relates relative to this burial.” Notwithstanding this testimony of Mr. Barkstead, there is no reason to suppose it is founded in truth. I took much pains to get some information relative to this occurrence; but could only learn, that tradition had pointed out a spot where he was said to have been buried; and that a curious friend of mine, in consequence of it, had dug there, and had discovered a human 13 skeleton: but that on a close investigation, it was found not to be the Protector, but that of a person who had been hung for a robbery near the spot, within the last: century.
From Naseby the Avon winds its course, in a western direction, through part of this extensive field, towards the small remains of Sulby abbey, founded about the year 1155, by W. De Wideville, or Wevill, as a convent of the Premonstratensian order. At the time of its foundation, it was called Welford abbey. At the dissolution, the clear yearly income of this abbey appears to have been £258. 8s. 5d. In the 12th of Elizabeth, the monastery, with other demesnes, were granted to Christopher Hatton, Esq. in exchange for Holdenbey manor, which, on the death of the said Christopher, devolved to the crown. It is now a respectable farm house, and has only a few fragments 14 of old stone walls, decorated with heads of monks, &c. here and there scattered about, to indicate what was its original destination.
Like most other religious devotees, these pious appear to have taken good care that their house should not want any of the comforts of wood and water; soft shade to cool the fervor of their devotion; and delicate fish to enable them to support the rigours of ecclesiastical abstinence.15
Naseby, or, as it is written in Domesday book, Navesberie
[Or, as it is written in both the Map and its caption, Naesby.]
this memorable field, which is supposed to be the highest ground in England
[The elevation of Naseby is less than 200m, so this does not seem awfully likely.]
where he took many prisoners, life guards,” &c. &c.
close quote missing
[By this late in the century, close-quotes could be expected at the end of a multi-line quotation. Perhaps he got distracted by the “&c. &c.” and couldn’t decide where to end it.]
a curious friend of mine, in consequence of it, had dug there
[Is this the point at which the earlier sense of “curious”, something akin to “careful”, gives way to its modern sense of “inquisitive”?]
the monastery, with other demesnes, were granted to Christopher Hatton, Esq.
[A fictionalized Kit Hatton is the central figure in “The House-Warming”, one of the later Ingoldsby Legends.]
these pious recluse appear to have taken good care
text unchanged: expected recluses
FROM Sulby abbey our gentle Avon, in a circuitous course, winds its way towards the village of Welford, a distance of near two miles westward. The approach to this pleasant village from the river, yields rather an agreeable landscape; an ancient stone bridge, part of the village, and the venerable tower of the church, modestly rising above the neighbouring objects, combine happily, and give that sort of view, which, being simple in itself, seldom fails to constitute elegance. The church is of very high antiquity, and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. At the end of each aide is a chantery chapel, and a few ancient monuments. This church, with nine carucates of land in Sulby (viz. as much land as may be tilled in a year with one plough), were given to the convent of 16 Sulby by Richard de Wideville, with the consent of his superior, lord Roger de Moubray, and confirmed to it by Richard the first, and Edward the second in the ninth year of his reign. Crossing the church yard, the eye is caught by an inscription of rather a whimsical nature: it is the composition of a singular character named William Patch, who describes himself as having, after an ineffectual struggle, sunk into the grave in consequence of sympathies that have not been found, at any period of history, to have greatly thinned the human race. The efforts he made are given in the following couplet:
“She first departed, He for a little try’d
“To live without her, lik’d it not, and dy’d.”
Welford yields little, besides its pleasing situation, to attract the stranger, or to gratify the curious enquirer. I shall therefore digress a few miles beyond the present subject of investigation toward the ancient town of 17 Leicester; and flatter myself, that the motive which induced me to stray so far from the banks of the Avon, will be found to carry with it my apology to the reader.
Feeling it, as I do, an interesting duty as well as a grateful employment, to trace any thing that bears relation to the works of that immortal bard, the native of Avon’s banks, I cannot forego even the slight opportunity that now offers.
The town of Leicester boasts two curious remains which must be admitted to have reference to his works: the house and bed in which Richard the third slept the night before the battle of Bosworth, or rather Sutton, field. The house, of which the adjoining sketch is a faithful representation, is known by the appellation of the Blue Boar Inn, a name probably derived from the crest of Richard, which was that of a boar. In 18 allusion to this crest, the lord Hastings says to Catesby,
“Stanley did dream the boar did rase our helms,
“But I did scorn it, and disdain to fly.”
The house is still in good preservation, and the room in which the king slept, is so spacious as to cover the whole premises; it is situated on the first floor, agreeable to a style of building at that time very common in most of our ancient inns.
Shakspeare, in introducing Richard in the tent scene, has, beyond a doubt, heightened the interesting part of the tragedy, by using a poetical licence, though he has deviated from the first historical authority, from whom that inference, which is confirmed by the traditional account it obtains in the town, seems to arise. This historian. Speed, speaking of his being at Nottingham at the time the news was brought of the earl of Richmond’s advance to Litchfield, says, “Hee (the king) marchelled his followers; and like a valiant captaine and politicke leader, set forward his battailes, five and five in a rank. In the midst of his troops he bestowed his carriages, and himself mounted upon a white courser invironed with his guard, followed by his footman and the wing of his horsemen, ranged on every side with a frowning countenance, but yet in great pompee, entered the town of Leicester after the sun 20 was set; being full of indignation and swelling in anger, which somewhat he asswaged with threat of revenge.”
The bedstead, from which the above sketch is made, is now in the possession of Mr. Alderman Drake, who purchased it for about forty shillings of one of the servants 21 of the forementioned Inn about twenty years ago. It is of oak, and richly carved with Gothic ornaments suitable to the taste of the time, but at what period it was made, is not clearly ascertained: though a date I am informed appeared on one of the feet, when it was last taken down, but no person had the curiosity to notice it. When purchased by Mr. Drake, much of the old gilding appeared about the ornaments. Some particulars of this bedstead I also understand are preserved in the records of the corporation.
The following brief account, is the traditional history as received on the spot; viz. That Richard, when travelling, always carried among his baggage this bedstead, which, having a false bottom, enabled him with secresy to convey his treasure unsuspected, and that he slept in it in that house the night before the battle. After the battle of Bosworth field, the bed remained in the house 22 undisturbed till the reign of James the first, when the then owner of it, a Mr. Clarke, or his wife, by some accident discovered a very considerable treasure therein concealed. The fact remained unknown till after the death of the husband; when, as it is proverbially said of a woman, “that she cannot keep a secret,” it by some means or other transpired; and whether the maid servant, by any indiscreet confidence, was made a repository of this secret, or by any accident or observation was led to the discovery, we are told that she, with the assistance of others, murdered the mistress, and plundered the house, and were for this crime all hanged at Leicester. At that period the bedstead was purchased by one of the servants of the Inn in which it stood till about the year 1770, when it was purchased by Mr. Drake, as before related.
The spot whereon the battle of Bosworth field was fought, now presents little more 23 than an extensive range of modern enclosures. Few traces of that memorable action which, by uniting the white rose and the red, finally terminated the unnatural contest, that for so many years had made
“——Poor England weep in streams of blood!”
From tradition we learn, that Richard’s army was encamped upon a hill, with the village of Sutton in his rear, and the wood covering his left flank; while Richmond’s army was on the opposite hill, a spot well chosen for his smaller body of troops, with an extensive wood to his right, and the marsh in his front. Norfolk says,
“My lord, the enemy is past the marsh.”
Near the scene of action is a Well, which still retains the name of King Richard’s Well, there was formerly a flight of steps leading down to it; it is now overgrown with rushes, and running to waste. About 24 a mile distant, is a field called King’s Field, on which Richmond is said to have harrangued his soldiers; and near to Stoke Golding, is Crown Hill, probably the spot on which Henry was crowned, and below are Halloo Meadows, which probably derived the name from the shouts of applause bestowed by his army.
We regret that the scenery in the vicinity of this celebrated spot, yields no object that is appropriate to the pencil, or that can in any degree tend to illustrate the page of our inspired bard, who, in his lofty description of that day, says,
“The king enacts more wonders than a man,
“Daring, and opposite to every danger.”
And here, adverting to our Shakspeare, I flatter myself that I may be permitted to express the high gratification I felt in the course of this excursion at Althorp, the seat of Earl Spencer, where I was honoured, by 25 lady Lucan, with a view of her elaborate and splendid illustrations of his work. They consist of portraits in miniature, of buildings, and other objects that are handed down as genuine, and illustrate or refer to some part of his compositions. These are finished with a degree of taste, correctness of design, and brilliancy of execution, far exceeding any work of genius of this kind that has ever fallen within my observation. These elegant labours do not profess to extend beyond his historical compositions, and to such only of them as relate to the history of our own country. It will, when completed, form twenty large and splendid volumes in folio, which are intended to grace the magnificent library of her son-in-law, the noble owner of this stately mansion.
Of Althorp, its superb collection of pictures, or of the superior taste displayed in its other internal decorations, it would be 26 endless to attempt to enter into a minute detail; let it suffice to say, it is the favourite residence of Earl Spencer and his accomplished Countess.
We shall now return to Welford, and resume the theme of our pursuit, the Avon, which, taking a westerly course, bends its way through a fertile and pleasant country towards Stanford, a distance of about four miles, having the villages of North and South Kilworth full in view; whose spires, occasionally breaking upon the eye, give additional beauty to the scenery. The Avon enters the grounds of Stanford Hall beneath a spacious brick bridge of one arch, and, though but a narrow stream, is yet so artfully managed, as, in its course through the park, to give the idea of a navigable river. Another bridge is thrown over it within the grounds, adjoining to which it forms a beautiful cascade; and, quitting the park, crosses the 27 high road in the village, and re-assumes its narrow and humble course. Stanford Hall, the seat of the very ancient family of the Caves, stands in a low situation on the southern borders of the county of Leicester. The village of Stanford, on the opposite side of the river, is in Northamptonshire.
The house is spacious, but wants those pictorial decorations that would render it an object of attention to the traveller of taste. On the death of the late Sir Thomas Cave, about three years since, many pictures were removed to the house of the Rev. Sir Charles Cave, of Theddingworth, in Leicestershire. There is, amongst these, a curious family portrait, some account of which may perhaps prove not unacceptable to the antiquary, and probably not uninteresting to the man of gallantry, who may be gratified in knowing the colour of the garters of our virgin Queen. I am favoured by Sir Charles Cave with the following description: “The portrait is that 28 of Sir Ambrose Cave, knt. who was high sheriff for the counties of Leicester, and Warwick, 2d Edward the sixth, 4th and 5th Philip and Mary, and 5th Elizabeth, and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, and one of the privy council to queen Elizabeth, in great esteem with the queen, and a most intimate friend of the great lord treasurer Burghley. Round his arm is tied a yellow garter. The circumstances which gave rise to a distinction so particular, are as follows: In the course of his attendance at court, on a ball night, the queen, while she was dancing, happened to drop her garter; which Sir Ambrose perceiving, immediately presented to her; and upon her refusing to acknowledge it, very gallantly tied it upon his left arm; declaring he would wear it for his mistress’s sake as long as he lived. How long he persevered in his resolution, I know not, but this is the account I have always heard given of it.”29
Sir Ambrose died April 2, 1568, and was buried at Stanford, where a monument is erected to his memory, which is much admired for its symmetry. In the church are likewise several other well executed monuments of the Cave family, and a considerable quantity of ancient stained glass, amongst which will be found a curious portrait of the founder of the church.
This church is decorated with a handsome organ, that formerly belonged to the banquetting room at Whitehall, which, by order of Cromwell, was taken down and sold. It was intended to be placed in the chapel of Magdalen college, Oxford, but being too small, was purchased by the Cave family for this church.
Stanford Hall, as well as the grounds about it, require some external aid, something from the hand of taste to render them 30 more picturesque objects, in a situation so flat and naked, even a few groups of trees, judiciously disposed, would add to the scenery. At present, its greatest ornament is the beautiful sheet of water that is formed by our Avon, and which runs at a very proper distance from the mansion, to make the scenery more complete by the additions here suggested.
About a mile below Stanford is Swinford lordship, of which manor the heirs of the Cave family are owners. This village has nothing to attract the notice of the curious, but a tomb, erected in the churchyard, for a singular character, the Rev. Mr. Staresmore, of Catthorp, who died Jan. 1st, 1746. It was a custom with this whimsical being, at the latter end of every year, to tie a bull-dog to every apple-tree in his orchard, for the purpose of terrifying robbers. The inventory of his effects, at his death, I 31 shall present to the reader as a curiosity, from Mr. Nichols’s account of him. They consist of “30 gowns and cassocks; 53 dogs; 100 pair of breeches; 100 pair of boots; 400 pair of shoes; 10 wigs, and almost always wore his own hair; 80 waggons and carts; 80 ploughs, and used none; 50 saddles, and furniture for the menage; 30 wheelbarrows; walking sticks so many, that a toyman in Leicester Fields, bid his executors eight pounds for them; 60 horses and mares; 200 pick-axes; 200 spades and shovels; 75 ladders; 240 razors. He had £700. a year, and £1000. in money, which (he dying intestate) fell to a ticket porter in London. He kept one servant of each sex whom he locked up every night. His last employment in an evening was to go round his premises, let loose his dogs, and fire his gun. He lost his life as follows: Going one morning to let out 32 his servants, the dogs fawned upon him suddenly, and threw him into a pond, where he was found breast high; the servants heard him call for assistance, but, being locked up, could not lend him any. His proverbial penury and wretchedness, drew upon him the contempt and ridicule of the inhabitants even of that humble village, who thought themselves disgraced by his meanness and avarice.”
Without much diversity of scenery, the Avon winds its course through a pleasant pasture country, till it passes the small village of Lilburn. This neighbourhood is famous for the remains of an extensive Roman camp, which is as little impaired as can well be imagined, during the lapse of so many ages. The appearance of this encampment, close to the bank of our Avon, is highly beautiful; no excavation, no tree, no weed, deforms the surface; the whole of 33 which is clothed with a most luxuriant and verdant turf. This splendid camp was indisputably the Roman station mentioned by Antoninus, in his Journey from London to Lincoln, under the denomination of Tripontium. The circular Tumulus, called by different writers, the Prætorium, Augurale, or Augustale, is sixty-nine feet in height; having its base formed by a rampart, or vallum, washed on the north side by the river Avon.
This elevated spot, which commands a view of the whole encampment, was allotted to the General, the superior officers, and young men of rank who served as volunteers. On the eastern side of the prætorium, and adjoining to it, is the upper camp; the north side of which is, in like manner, washed by the river Avon. The northern vallum of the Prætorium, with that of the upper camp, form one line two hundred and 34 seventy-six feet in length. The inner vallum, or agger, of the upper camp, is only twenty-eight feet in height, being defended by the river. In this upper camp were the tents of the Tribunes, Prefects of the allies, and of the more honourable of the common soldiery, the Evocati, the Ablecti, and the Extraordinarii. To the south of this camp and the Prætorium, is situated the lower camp, being separated from the two former by a fosse, of which the two slopes, and the bottom, taken together, measure eighty-four feet. This space between the two camps was termed principia.
In it the tribunes administered justice; punishments were inflicted; payments were made; and the images of their gods, their altars, and the military standards were deposited. This part of a Roman encampment, seems, therefore, of all others, the 35 most likely to reward the search of the curious antiquary.
The lower camp is much larger than the upper; its southernmost outward vallum is 258 feet in length, and the height of the inner vallum or agger is 51 feet, being the side opposite to that defended by the Avon. In this camp were stationed the rank and file, under the names of Triarii, Principes, and Hastati. The whole length of the encampment measures, on the western side, 336 feet, and on the eastern, 390. Eastward adjoining the lower camp, traces of the Procestriæ are plainly discoverable. Antoninus places this camp 12 miles (plus minus) from Isaunavatia (Wedon) and nine from Vennones, (Cleybrook); and this was where the Romans placed it, and where it still remains; although Camden has removed it to Towcester, Horsley, to Buckby, and Dr. Henry to Rugby. Dr. Horsley, in his map 36 of Britain, gives the Roman public roads and omits the names of the lesser towns situate by the sides of the roads; he therefore sets down Bugby, instead of the village of Buckby (which is between Daventry and Northampton) and Dr. Henry, consulting all the maps of England he could meet with, could not find any such town as Buckby, whose situation and name so nearly corresponded with that of Bugby, as Rugby; and therefore thought he had happily corrected an erratum in Horsley’s map by substituting Rugby for Bugby. The identity of the spot receives further confirmation from the circumstance of Antoninus’s having omitted the mention of it in his journies from York, through Lincoln, to London; and from Vallum (the rampart of Severus between England and Scotland) ad Portum Ritupis (Sandwich) because, had the Tripontium, like the other stations, been situated immediately upon the military way, it would like 37 them of necessity have been passed through by Antoninus, and consequently set down in his list; but, lying at some little distance, being rather more than half a mile out of his road, it was passed by, and therefore omitted. Thus the situation contributes to justify the omission, and the omission assists in verifying the situation.
This correct description of the encampment will I flatter myself be a means of removing those doubts and differences of opinion, that have existed among the learned for ages past.
About a mile distant from Tripontium, on the right, stands Coton House, a spacious mansion of stone erected by Abraham Grimes, Esq. It is situated on an eminence and commands an extensive prospect over a part of Northamptonshire, including the conspicuous range of hills, extending from 38 Daventry to Warwickshire. Near the site of this house, formerly stood an ancient edifice, the property of Sir William Dixwell, Bart. ancestor to its present possessor.
About five miles distant from this spot is Ledger’s Ashby, the seat of —— Ashley, Esq. and formerly that of Robert Catesby, Esq. the principal actor in that celebrated conspiracy formed in the 2d year of James I. in 1604, and known by the name of the Gunpowder-Treason plot.
This venerable mansion is in a perfect habitable state, although it seems to have received little addition, or alteration within the last two hundred years. It does not appear by any historical or traditional account, that at any time Catesby received the conspirators within this mansion, but from the general understanding of the neighbourhood, they met in a large apartment over the gate 39 at the entrance to the house. Here Catesby frequently held interviews with Piercy a descendant of the Northumberland family, and who appears to have been the first person to whom he imparted his intention. The inside of the room of which the following is a sketch, is spacious, and fitted up suitable to the taste of those times.
It is lined with old oak pannels, and has a large gothic bow window at one end of it, in which remain two or three pieces of ancient stained glass. A large stone chimney 40 piece is likewise standing that accords with the style of building at or a short time before that period, and remains like the rest of the chamber with no apparent alteration since the beginning of the last century.
A sketch of the outside of this room and the gateway beneath it, I have likewise considered as not unworthy a place in this work.
Not having seen prints of either of these objects before, the novelty of them may with some readers plead an apology for their introduction; but to the antiquary it is presumed they will require none.
Catesby appears to have been a man of great respectability and property in his county, and of no mean talents. He certainly stood so high in the minds of the parties to whom he communicated his horrid designs, that they with a full confidence embraced, and became participators in his direful projects. In the spring, and summer of 1604, this plot appears to have been first divulged by Catesby, and in all probability in this very apartment. About that period, we learn from Hume’s History of England, that “they hired a house in Piercy’s name, adjoining to that in which the Parliament was to assemble, and that towards the end of that year they began their operations.” For the nature and discovery of 42 this extraordinary plot, which is marked with a degree of bigotry to religious tenets, from whatever source derived, that is without a parallel in the annals of mankind, I refer the reader to the elegant and sagacious author beforementioned.
Within the parish of Ashby-Ledgers, stands Ashby-lodge, the property of George Arnold, Esq.—The house, which was an old family seat, has received very considerable additions and improvements. The inducement however for introducing it in this place, is not only its having been made the repository of a valuable collection of pictures, but the taste which has been displayed in improving the face of the country, together with a magnificent lake which is equalled by few in this island.
Passing this lake by a pleasant and well imagined road, we are led to admire a richly varied and extensive scenery, comprising a 43 fertile and verdant champaign country, terminated by a range of hills, that gradually recede from the eye, and melt in the ethereal distance:—and the rocky scenery, immediately through which the road is formed, powerfully arrests our attention by its wild and rugged parts, which constitute a noble fore-ground to the surrounding landscape.
Returning to our Avon, we shall accompany its banks to the village of Catthorpe, about a mile below Lillburn, a village although with little but its retired situation to render it worthy of attention, cannot yet be left unnoticed in these historical remarks on our gentle river. Indeed, after having suffered a single page of this volume to be occupied by the memorials of such a wretch as Staresmore, I could as little justify it to myself, as to the public, were I here to pass over in silence the elegant 44 and accomplished John Dyer. He was born in 1700, received his education at Westminster School, under Dr. Friend, and was intended by his father to be bred up in the pursuit of his own profession that of the law: but a predilection for the fine arts led him from those phlegmatic and severer studies, to the more attracting ones of drawing and painting, in the which he is said to have made considerable progress as a pupil under Jonathan Richardson, and during his travels in this country; though he attained still greater perfection in the course of his excursions through Italy. Of his works however as an artist we know but little, he appears to have quitted that profession for one more congenial to his feelings. He was delicate in his frame of body, and was by the narrowness of his fortune and the difficulties he encountered in the support of a numerous family compelled to go into orders; and, during some part of the time in which 45 Staresmore vegetated in this place, discharged there the duties of his new profession, having accepted the scanty provision of the rectory of this small and obscure parish. Under the pressure of the same difficulties, he was afterwards unhappily induced by an ampler benefice to remove into Lincolnshire; when his feeble constitution soon yielded to the moist atmosphere and damps of that country. By his poem on the ruins of Rome, to those who are conversant with the higher species of poetry, the sublimity of his genius is well known; while by the softer beauties of his Gronger-hill, the elegance of his mind has become familiar to all, who, with any knowledge of the English language, have the least relish for poetry. In this work the Connoisseur will acknowledge, that he can trace the original bent and direction of his mind; and that it carries with it the most pregnant evidence of its being the production of a painter, as 46 well as that of a poet. I do not hesitate to lay before my readers the following poetical epistle of his to a friend in town, as it is not to be met with in the common editions of his works, and as it exhibits at once a faithful portraiture of the gentle virtues of its amiable author, and a very striking specimen of that imitative harmony, with which his works abound more than of any of our poets.
Have my friends in the town, in the busy, gay, town,
Forgot such a man as John Dyer?
Or heedless despise they, or pity the Clown,
Whose bosom no pageantries fire?
No matter, no matter—Content in the shades—
(Contented? Why every thing charms me)
“Fall in tunes all adown the green steep, ye Cascades,”
Till hence rigid virtue alarms me.
Till outrage arise, or till misery needs
The swift, the intrepid avenger;
Till sacred Religion or Liberty bleeds:—
Then mine be the deed and the danger.47
Alas! what a folly, that wealth and domain
We keep up in sin and in sorrow!
Immense is the toil, yet the labour how vain!
Is not life to be over to-morrow?
Then glide on my moments, the few that I have,
Smooth, shaded and quiet, and even;
While gently my body descends to the grave,
And my Spirit arises to Heaven!
the Blue Boar Inn, a name probably derived from the crest of Richard
[One version holds that Richard’s crest was a white boar. After Bosworth Field, every house bearing this sign hastened to paint the boar some other color, often blue.]
Few traces of that memorable action
[In the excitement of inserting a suitable quotation, the author forgot the verb.]
On the death of the late Sir Thomas Cave . . . many pictures were removed to the house of the Rev. Sir Charles Cave
[Sir Thomas died at 25 and was succeeded by his brother Charles—who presumably hadn’t expected to inherit, or he wouldn’t have bothered to take up a profession. But why didn’t Charles move into Stanford Hall?]
the queen, while she was dancing, happened to drop her garter
[If this story sounds familiar, it is because it is cribbed from the origin myth of the Order of the Garter. (Looking this up in September 2022 led to speculation about just how many royalty-related websites will now require a near-global replace of “Queen” with “King”, accompanied by manual adjustment of pronouns.)]
the seat of —— Ashley, Esq.
[Did our author not know Mr. Ashley’s first name, or did he have some reason for suppressing it? Either way, Mr. Ashley must have been near the end of his life; assorted sources ranging from 1805 to 1816 list the owner of Ledger’s Ashby as “Mrs. Ashley”. (And one from 1828 refers to “the late Mrs. Ashley”.)]
a degree of bigotry to religious tenets
[It probably goes without saying that “bigot” and related words can only be used of religions other than the Church of England.]
about a mile below Lillburn
[In the ten pages or so since its previous mention, Lilburn village has acquired an additional ell.]
A LITTLE below Catthorp, we reach Dow-bridge, formerly the Tripontium of the Romans. This bridge was built about twenty years since by order of the Commissioners of the Turnpike-road leading from Lutterworth to Banbury. It consists of five arches, which are formed of brick and stone Coignes. The scene, though simple, aided by a group of cattle then passing, had sufficient attraction, in the meridian of a summer sun, to induce us to attempt a sketch of it, as a picturesque view.
A large stone, taken from the old bridge, is preserved and placed on the centre arch, on the sides in letters almost obliterated, appear the words, Warwickshire, 50 Leicestershire, and ; this being the point where these three counties unite. In the place where this bridge is erected, there stood two small ones, the larger was designed for carriages; the lesser, which was evidently Roman, probably for horse and foot passengers, as it had only a very low parapet, not exceeding six inches in height. These bridges were not passable in times of flood, which, from the smallness of the bed of the river and the level of the valley, are here very frequent. Hence, it is not unreasonable to conjecture, that when the Romans had a station here, they must have had a third bridge, for the purpose of securing to themselves a ready communication with the adjoining country and encampment. And this idea seems to be strongly supported by the name of Tripontium, given to their encampment at Lillburn, of which we treated in the last Section.51
About one mile below this bridge, the village of Clifton appears, on the South of the Avon, on a small eminence: this place derives its name from its situation, Clive signifying, in the Saxon language, not only a rocky place, but any shelving ground. On the opposite bank, about the same distance, stands the hamlet of , on the borders of Leicestershire; a modern brick bridge of one arch is here thrown across the Avon, which takes its name from this hamlet. A little below the bridge is an that conveys the water of the Oxford canal across the river Avon, and the valley through which it passes. At the of Brownsover, our Avon is joined by the river Swift, which rises near Knaptoft, in Leicestershire, and taking Lutterworth in its course, enters Warwickshire at Bensford bridge, over which was carried the Roman road, called the Watling-street. The Swift cannot be passed over without adverting to 52 the remarkable circumstance of its having received the ashes of the famous reformer John Wickliff, who died Rector of Lutterworth, in 1384. He was struck with a paralysis while preaching at his parish church, and as his parishioners were conveying him from thence in a chair to his Rectory-house, expired in his way thither.
The chair yet exists, it is made of oak, 53 and, for the gratification of the curious, a sketch of it is here annexed.
The body of the pulpit likewise remains, but the sounding-board which had been beaten down many years ago, when the roof of the church fell in, was removed 54 into an obscure part of that edifice, and, although but little damaged, has been suffered to lie unnoticed, and a new one has been injudiciously erected in its stead. Of that fragment, I have likewise added a representation, in which I have aimed at restoring it to the situation, in which it stood as a powerful instrument in aiding the fervid devotion of this primitive and venerable pastor. I cannot dismiss this subject, interesting as it is made by the relation it bears to the lives and sufferings of those undaunted and disinterested servants of their God, to whom posterity is indebted for the purity of the Christian faith, without adverting to the peculiar rancour of the Romish Zealots of that day, who proverbially vindictive as they may have been thought, seem on this occasion to have been inflamed with a more than ordinary and antichristian spirit, and, to have carried their resentments beyond the grave. For in 55 1415, thirty-one years after he had lain quietly interred, they dug up his body, burnt the bones, and threw the ashes into the river, at the bridge, in the lower part of the town. This acrimonious zeal of their leader, Dr. Fox, then Bishop of Lincoln, appears to have far exceeded the orders of the pious fathers his employers, in the council of Constance, who only envying his repose in consecrated ground, directed no more than that his remains
“Procul ab ecclesiæ sepulturâ jactari.”
On the south side of the Avon, nearly opposite to the village of Brownsover, is the town of Rugby, which stands on an easy ascent about half a mile from the river. This town is written in Domesday-book, Rocheberie, and in later times Rokeby. In the Dictionnaire Celtique, the name is said to be of Celtic origin, and derived from Ruc 56 a river, and Bye a town, which agrees with its situation.
Dugdale says, “here was a little castle at Rokeby, which stood about a furlong from the church northwards; as it is to be seen by the banks of earth, and part of the moat yet remaining.” He is of opinion, that it was built in the time of King Stephen, and demolished by command of King Henry II. The site, whereon the castle stood, is strongly marked by the form and elevation of the earth and the fosse yet remaining that surround it.
These vestiges of antiquity terminate the enclosures adjoining the house of the Rev. Dr. Clare, by whose attention they are preserved in such a verdant and cultivated state, as to render them no small addition to his prospect. The tower of the church is said to have been built with part 57 of the stone taken from the ruin of the castle; it is the largest structure I remember to have seen, that stands without buttresses. A principal support to this town is its free-school, which was founded in the ninth year of Elizabeth, by Lawrence Sheriff, a grocer of London; who also endowed four alms-houses in this place. The present head master, Dr. James, by his great assiduity, temper, and learning, happily supports this noble institution; and which has been raised by his character and unremitting labours to the consequence and estimation, which it at present holds—and here although contrary to the opinion of Dr. Henry, that no Roman ways or relics are in this place to be found, yet may Rugby boast of superior excellencies,—the language of that nation in all its Augustan purity. The extensive liberality of the founder, may possibly create a wish in the reader to know something of his history: He was a native of , 58 the village we have just passed on the bank of our Avon. He was of very low origin, but, making his way to London, by application and frugality in his business of a grocer, became one of the wealthiest citizens of his day. His consequence at that time cannot be more fully shewn, than by a curious passage in Fox’s Book of Martyrs; which although of some length, yet as it in a strong degree exhibits the rancorous quality and character of the times and wretched policy of our rulers, may not be unacceptable to our readers at the present hour, in which the conduct of state affairs is regulated by principles of much greater liberality.
“Soon after the stir of Wiat, and the troubles that happened to Queen Mary for that cause, it fortuned one Robert Farrer, a haberdasher of London, dwelling near unto Newgate-market, in a certain morning 59 to be at the Rose Tavern (from whence he was seldom absent), and falling to his common drink, as he was ever accustomed, and having in his company three other companions like to himself, it chanced the same time one Lawrence Sheriff, grocer, dwelling also not far from thence, to come into the said tavern, and finding there the said Farrer, (to whom of long time he had borne good will) sate down in the seat to drink with him, and Farrer having in his full cups, and not having consideration who were present, began to talk at large, and namely against the lady Elizabeth, and said that Jill hath bin one of the chief doers of this rebellion of Wiatt, and before all be done, she and all the hereticks her partakers, shall well understand of it. Some of them hope that she shall have the crown, but she and they (I trust) that so hope, shall hop headless, or be fried with faggots before she come to it. The aforesaid Lawrence 60 sheriff, grocer, being then servant unto the lady Elizabeth, and sworn unto her Grace, could no longer forbear his old acquaintance, and neighbour Farrer in speaking so unreverantly of his mistress, but said unto him: Farrer I have loved thee as a neighbour, and have had a good opinion of thee, but hearing of thee that I now hear, I defie thee, and tell thee I am her Graces sworn servant, and she is a princess, and the daughter of a noble King, and it evil becometh thee to call her a Jill, and for thy so saying, I say thou art a Knave, and I will complain upon thee. Do thy worst said Farrer: for that I said, I will say again, and so Sheriff came from his company.
“Shortly after, the said Sheriff, taking an honest neighbour with him, went before the commissioners to complain; the which commissioners sate then at Bonner’s the bishop of London’s house, beside 61 Paul’s, and there were present, Bonner then being the chief commissioner, the Lord Mordaunt, Sir John Baker, Dr. Darbyshire, Chancellor to the Bishop, Dr. Story, Dr. Harpsfield, and others.
“The aforesaid Sheriff coming before them, declared the manner of the said Robert Farrer’s talk against the lady Elizabeth, Bonner answered, peradventure you took him worse than he meant.
“Yea my Lord said Dr. Story, if you knew the man as I do, you would say there is not a better Catholick, nor an honester man in the city of London.
“Well said Sheriff, my Lord, she is my gracious lady and mistress, and is not to be suffered that such a varlet as he is should call so honourable a princess by the name of a Jill: and I saw yesterday in the court, that my Lord Cardinal Pool, 62 meeting her in the chamber of presence, kneeled down on his knees and kissed her hand; and I saw also, that King Philip meeting her, made her much obeysance, and that his knee touched the ground; and then, me thinketh, it were too much to suffer such a varlet as this is to call her a Jill, and to wish them to hop headless that shall wish her Grace to enjoy the possession of the crown, when God shall send it unto her, as in the right of her inheritance. Yea? stay there, quoth Bonner, when God sendeth it unto her, let her enjoy it. But truly (said he) the man that spake the words that you have reported, meant nothing against the lady Elizabeth your mistress, and no more do we: but he, like an honest and zealous man, feared the alteration of Religion, which every good man ought to fear: and therefore (said Bonner) good man go your ways home, and report well of us toward your mistress, and we will send for Farrer and 63 rebuke him for his rash and undiscrete words, and, we trust, he will not do the like again: and thus Sheriff came away, and Farrer had a flap with a Fox tail.”
I cannot quit the neighbourhood of Rugby, without communicating some information I here received, on the subject of water freezing first at the bottom of rivers. I am induced to offer this in support of a remark I formerly made on the same subject, with respect to the river Thames (vol 1. p. 35.) in the vicinity of Lechlade, in Gloucestershire. This part of our river is not navigable: the course of it is interrupted by a number of mills, and the millers have consequently the best means of becoming acquainted with this phenomenon, and the more so, as these frosts seldom happen there more than once during a winter; and though I have met with an opinion to this effect generally circulating in this 64 neighbourhood, I yet altogether found my account of this singular process of nature in her works, upon the authority of a person, who has occupied the mill near Rugby for almost forty years. He says that the icy particles do not in every frost arise from the bottom of the river, but only in one particular kind of frost, which the miller denominates, the Anchor-Frost. The freezing commences at the bottom of the flood-gates, which he first becomes sensible of by the passage of the water being stopped at that point, and is plainly perceived at the flood-gates in its progress from the bottom to the top, to fill up and successively close the cracks that appear in the surface. They attempt to draw the sluices, but in vain: and with no better success endeavor with long poles to break the ice; these poles when drawn out of the river, are incrusted with light, hollow, and honeycombed ice: After these frosts the river always overflows its banks. Other masses of ice in various 65 parts, rise to the surface, and are brought down by the stream. The upper part of the water is not frozen, and by the time the sun has been four hours above the horizon, the whole is dissolved, and the mill no longer impeded in its operation. It may not be improper to add, that the same kind of frost has been observed in America, and is called by the same peculiar name, (viz.) Anchor Frost.
The accuracy of the above relation, as well as the popular opinion of a similar report in other places, I cannot be mistaken in, but its causes and principles I must leave to the discussion of those, who are better skilled in the great study of natural philosophy.66
Do not ask why the opening pages of this Section are infested with comma splices. I left them all as printed.
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable—consulted because it happens to be on my shelf—says that “Jill” is a generic term for a “lass or sweetheart”. This doesn’t get us much further, but perhaps we should imagine an Australian referring to the late Queen as a sheila.
five arches, which are formed of brick and stone Coignes
[Three years ago, in Picturesque Views on the River Thames, he spelled it “coins”.]
the words, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, and Northamptonshire;
text has Northampton-/tonshire at line break
about the same distance, stands the hamlet of Newton
o in “Newton” invisible
A little below the bridge is an aqueduct
text has aquæduct
[The word appears twice in the author’s Thames, with the expected spelling.]
At the village of Brownsover
text has vil-/age at line break
the peculiar rancour of the Romish Zealots of that day
[Which is to say, the entire Christian church.]
directed no more than that his remains “Procul ab ecclesiæ sepulturâ jactari”
[The choice of verb jactari (be thrown) suggests that the “pious fathers” did have fairly strong opinions on the matter.]
He was a native of Brownsover
text has Brown’s-/over at page break
QUITTING Rugby we pass a handsome modern bridge of three circular arches constructed of stone, thrown across the Avon at about half a mile distant from the town. The river from hence winds gently through a fertile and expanded valley, till we reach the village of Newbold; which from its eminent situation commands a beautiful and extensive prospect on every side. The canal, that appears in the annexed view, is conducted through a subterraneous passage beneath part of the church-yard of Newbold, and from this point highly encreases the beauty of the surrounding scene, which includes an extended view of the meandering course of our gentle Avon through a verdant space of fertile valleys. The spire of the church in the distance of 68 the landscape belongs to the village of Bilton, which may well be considered as classical ground, having been the residence of Mr. Addison, a name that will ever be held in esteem by the admirer of sound criticism, chaste humour, and a correct and attic style of composition. Veneration for the character of this eminent man leads me to view the situation of his retreat, which stands about a mile distant from the bank of the Avon.
The preceding view is a faithful representation 69 of the exterior of this house, which though it cannot be truly denominated picturesque, may yet have a claim to attention, as it remains precisely in the state it was at the decease of its former possessor; nor has the interior suffered much change in its form, or decoration. The furniture and pictures hold their places with an apparent sacred attention to his memory: among the latter, are three of himself, at different periods of his life, in each of which is strongly marked with the pencil, the ease of the gentleman, and open and ingenuous character of the friend to humanity. Two good portraits are likewise hanging, near his own, of his friend Mr. Secretary Craggs. Some others, of Van Dyck, Van Somers, Lilly, &c. that were purchased by Mr. Addison, are to be found in other apartments sufficient to evince that his taste was not confined to writing alone. In the grounds a long walk of beautiful 70 Spanish chesnuts and oaks running in a strait line, still hold their primitive appearance; here he was accustomed to pass the hours in that musing, and in those reflections, from which the public have gathered so rich a fruit, it retains the name of Addison’s walk: This form of a strait line, is that to which in his earliest youth, he seems to have been attached, as part of the walks in Magdalen College, which are fashioned upon this model, still pass there under his name.
The Spanish oaks in these grounds are said to have been the first that were planted in this country; the acorns were given to him by his friend Craggs, who brought them from Spain.
In a kind of hermitage in this walk, I found the following verses,71
“Sequestered from the world, oh! let me dwell,
“With contemplation in this lonely cell
“By mortal eye unseen, I will explore
“The various works of Nature’s bounteous store,
“Revisit oft each flower whose blossom fair
“With fragrant sweets perfumes the ambient air
“Pry into every shrub, and mark its way
“From birth to growth, from growth to sure decay:
“Or else with humble thoughts my eyes I’ll bend,
“And view the near resemblance of my end
“Then think of death, and of eternal days
“Learn how to die, my Maker how to praise:
“All ways despise, that draw my mind from this,
“Then strive to gain an endless age of bliss.”
I do not know that these lines were Mr. Addison’s, but there is something in their moral turn, as well as their versification, that renders them not unworthy a recital. This estate was purchased by Mr. Addison in the year 1711, of the younger son of Sir William Boughton, for the sum of ten thousand pounds; in the purchase he was assisted by his brother Mr. Gulstone Addison, Governor of Fort St. George, at Madrass, in 72 which station he succeeded Governor Pitt, distinguished by the appellation of Diamond Pitt.
At the decease of Mr. Addison in 1719, this estate came to his widow the Countess of Warwick, from whom it devolved on their daughter, the present Mrs. Addison, whom I had the honour of seeing, at this visit, with no small degree of respect and veneration. This lady was born about a twelvemonth before the death of her father, who as some vague reports in the country say, left a large trunk of manuscripts, with a strict injunction that they should not be opened till her decease; if this be true, the polite and learned, may at a future day expect what may yet further magnify the revered name of Addison.
To the westward of Bilton, the Avon directs its course towards Little Lawford, 73 which stands in the parish of Newbold upon Avon.
Approaching the grounds where Lawford-hall, the seat of the Boughton’s, formerly stood, we pass the spot on which Dugdale says “there was antiently a capital messuage, and divers cottages, belonging to the monks of Pipewell Abbey.” Nothing remains of these buildings at present, but a large corn-mill on the bank of the river which is directly opposite to the site of ground on which Lawford-hall stood till within these five years, when it was taken down by the late Sir Edward Boughton, Bart. from whom the manor and site was purchased by John Caldecot, Esq. of Rugby, its present possessor. No part is standing of this ancient seat but its stabling, which is now applied to the purposes of a farm-house.74
For the gratification of the curious, the annexed sketch of Lawford-hall is here given, as it appeared a short time before it was taken down.
The fate of the late Sir Theodosius Boughton, by the horrid machinations of Captain Donellan, who married his sister, are too recent in the memory of every one to need a repetition.
In Lawford-hall, I am told, a room was preserved as the bed-chamber of an ancestor 75 of the family, who, in the time of Elizabeth having lost an arm, went afterwards by the appellation of one-handed Boughton. After his death, the room was reported to be haunted, and as such, many attempts were made to sleep in it, but in vain; and such is the credulity of the lower people, that it was with difficulty any labourer could be prevailed on to assist in pulling it down: the ghost of this one-handed gentleman I was told, by persons on the spot, had been frequently seen by their fathers, riding across the neighbouring grounds in a coach and six, and with the same air of confidence, I was informed, that within the present century, his perturbed spirit had been laid by a numerous body of the clergy, who conjured it into a phial, and threw it into a marle pit opposite the house. Nor does the family seem to have been exempt from a similar superstition and belief in ghosts, for it is told of the late Sir Theodosius’s 76 father, that, being visited by his neighbour, the late Sir Francis Skipwith, and walking together near the marle pit, Sir Francis observed that he thought there must be many fish in that pond, and that he should be glad to try it; to which Sir Theodosius gravely replied; no, that I cannot consent to, for the spirit of my ancestor, the one handed Boughton, lies there.
About half a mile below this spot, on the bank of the Avon, stands the once celebrated Newnham Bath; famed for the cure of scorbutic and other disorders. It is said to have had great efficacy in closing and healing green wounds. The water is considered as a weak chalybeate. It has a milky taste, and issues from a mineral spring about a mile distant, from whence, passing a lime pit, it receives its chief salubrious quality. This well is still much frequented, and would probably be much more so, were the roads kept 77 in a passable state. The country around it is beautiful, and capable of infinite improvement. On the south-side of the river, as we approach Newnham Regis, the village of Church Lawford, on an easy eminence, forms a very picturesque object. The manor, on the attainder of the Duke of Buckingham in the 13th of Henry the Eighth, came to the crown, and was afterwards granted, by licence of Queen Elizabeth, to Thomas Leigh, Alderman of London, of whom we shall have occasion to say more in the course of this undertaking. The lordship is the property of the Duke of Buccleugh in right of his dutchess: He is likewise proprietor of the ancient village of Newnham Regis. About a mile below this place, at a small distance from the bank of the Avon, the town as its name imparts, appears by legal proceedings in the thirteenth of Edward the First to have been in the possession of the King. The body of the venerable chapel of 78 this place is now by order of its proprietor taking down, but the tower, I am informed, is to remain: the chapel has been long in disuse. In pulling down this edifice, the pavement giving way, not far from the surface a perfect skeleton, supposed to have been that of the founder, was discovered, and not far from it a seal. The altar of this church was decorated with some good paintings in fresco, well preserved, which seem to bear the character and style of painting of the time of James I. designs are made from subjects in the New Testament, and in their manner are not unlike those of Reubens, but have more the air of the Italian school. I have preserved a fragment of this work as a specimen. The same love of the arts that induced me carefully to preserve this fragment, impels me to deviate a little from the course of the river to the seat of the ancient family of the Fieldings, Earls of Denbigh, at Newnham Padox, so called from the small park 79 adjoining; and to distinguish it from the Newnham we have just quitted. The present noble earl has selected, with much taste, some exceeding good pictures of the old masters, which added to the collection of family portraits by Van Dyck, pictures by Rembrandt, and other eminent artists, render this mansion well worthy the notice of the connoisseur.
Amongst other reliques of antiquity, I was shewn by his lordship the dagger with which Felton stabbed the Duke of Buckingham: of this dagger I have annexed a sketch, and with it the account given me by his lordship, 80 which is as follows:—This dagger was brought from Southwich, the house of Sir Daniel Norton, within five miles of Portsmouth, where the court then, in 1628, was held, and at which place the murder was committed. The person, who brought it, was one Firebrace, valet de chambre to the Duke, and who was the ancestor of the late Sir Cordel Firebrace, Baronet: it was brought to the Lady Susannah Villers, sister to the duke, who was then married to Sir William Fielding, afterwards the first Earl of Denbigh, and ancestor to the present earl. The length of the dagger is eight inches, the blades near four and a half, the breadth of it near the handle, which is of ivory, one inch and a half: the inner sides of the blades and handle, are flat, and move on two small pivots, which give firmness to the gripe when the blades are opened. There can be no doubt but that this traditional account has been handed down from generation to generation, 81 in this very antient and illustrious family, but as the instrument with which this bloody act was perpetrated, is very differently described by so very respectable authors as Lord Clarendon, Sir Simon D’Ewes, and Dr. Wotton (none of whom appear to have had any communication with each other, and one of whom asserts that it was bought of a cutler, on Tower-hill, for ten-pence) from this contradictory testimony the public must be left to draw their own conclusions.
From Newnham Regis the river Avon, with little diversity of scenery, runs nearly in a strait direction, till we reach Bretford bridge, a distance of about two miles. This antient stone structure is in the Gothic style, and consists of five arches. The bridge, though a conspicuous object on our river, is yet unaccompanied by any such feature in landscape as can give it a claim to the appellation of picturesque or beautiful. In this place there 82 was formerly a small cell for nuns, founded by the son of Geffery Clinton, who erected the Castle and Priory of Kenilworth, but the first votress not liking the situation, she passed away the lands to the canons of the last mentioned place.83
Mr. Addison, a name that will ever be held in esteem
[That would be Joseph Addison (1672–1719), aka Spectator Guy. Bilton Hall is still standing; it was converted into flats after the war.]
to pass the hours in that musing, and in those reflections
[I am entranced by the OCR’s decision to read the last word as “reflexions”. Usually it doesn’t care much for the “ct” ligature.]
“Sequestered from the world, oh! let me dwell
[I suspect the printer missed a few line-end punctuation marks.]
his widow the Countess of Warwick
[That is, she was the Dowager Countess—widow of the sixth Earl, mother of the seventh—before she married her son’s tutor, Addison.]
The designs are made from subjects in the New Testament
text has the designs
COMBE Abbey, the venerable residence of Lord Craven, is about two miles north of the Avon from Bretford Bridge. So stately a pile of building, though not immediately on the bank of the river, may yet be considered as one of its great ornaments.
The small scale on which the annexed view is made, though it does not admit of a very minute or detailed representation, will yet, from its fidelity, give a general idea of the place.
This Abbey was founded in the reign of King Stephen, by Richard de Camvill, a man of great piety, and a warm friend to the Cistercian monks, a religious order then newly transplanted into England. For the maintenance 84 of this institution, the founder gave unto Gilbert, abbot of the monastery of our blessed Lady of Waverly, in Surry, his lordship of Smite, which he and his heirs held of the King, by the service of a knight’s fee. The abbey derives its name of Combe, or Cumbe, from the Saxon, and in that language signified a hollow, or a valley: Cwmm likewise, in the British, implies Vallis, or Convallis; and the word Cumbe is to this day used as a provincial name, in the north of England, for a hollow vessel of wood in which it is usual to steep barley, or malt.
From Dugdale it appears, that the monastery of Waverly, in Surry, was the first institution of this order in our country; and in support of this idea, he introduces the following quaint lines of our old poet, Robert of Gloucester:
“Houses of religion, as I seide or I wene,
“Kynge Henry lovede moche as hit was wel sene,85
“For the ordre of Gray Monkes thorwg then men brougt
“Furst here into Englonde, and peraventer men him bisougt
“As in the abby of Waverle that hit furst become,
“As in the eigte and twenty yeer of his Kyngdome.”
This order was originally established under the auspices of the Duke of Burgundy, in 1098, at a place called Cistieux, from whence it derives its name.
It may not be thought uninteresting, perhaps, if we advert to the history and usages of this austere class of monks, who, by the rules of their order, were not permitted to wear either leather, linen, or fine woollen cloth; nor, except on a journey, to put on breeches, and these, on their return, they were compelled to deliver up cleanly washed. Thus we find that the Sans Culottes of a neighbouring country are not the first of that order; and though their armies under that denomination have increased so wonderfully 86 in number, as to astonish all Europe, yet it appears that the sans-culotted Cistercians multiplied in a proportion nearly similar: for this order, which with us originally consisted of only twenty-one monks, did, within fifty-five years, increase so rapidly as to produce scarcely less than five hundred abbies, and, no doubt, according to the habit of the order, in equal ratio “Monks, and friars, white, black, or grey, with all their trumpery.” The alarming accession to this increase of church militants, occasioned a general chapter of the abbots and bishops to be convened, in which it was ordained, that no further endowments of that order should be permitted.
Some part of the original Cistercian foundation of Combe Abbey may be still remaining; but, venerable as the older parts of the building appear, they are yet, I presume, of a more modern date. This edifice 87 has of late years been preserved with the utmost care and attention; and the principal front and cloysters, by the taste and judgment of the architect in conducing the repairs, still retain their ancient and Gothic style.
The internal part of the cloysters, indeed, have undergone some very material changes from their original destination; for, instead of crucifixes, holy water, and saints bowing under their own, or the iniquities of their worshippers, we now find their places supplied by the horns of animals of every denomination, from the days of Nimrod to the present.—Within this venerable building are many noble and spacious apartments, decorated with pictures of so superior a class as to render them worthy the attention of the connoisseur; while others, of a more curious kind, will be found not less attractive to the antiquary.88
The western front of this building is from a design of Inigo Jones, and is not unworthy his name. From the apartments in this aspect, the views are beautiful; and in one of them, which includes the antient city of Coventry, the elegant spire of its principal church forms a very striking feature: the easy winding of a spacious sheet of water, upwards of two miles in length, that runs at a proper distance from the front of the abbey, highly enriches the scenery of the very extensive park in which this antient mansion stands. Returning towards the Avon, we pass the village of Brinklow, where formerly stood an antient castle belonging to the Mowbrays, of which there are scarcely any vestiges. The famous John Rous, the antiquary mentioned in a former section, was descended from an antient family of that name, who were natives of this town. The remains of a Roman encampment at Brinklow, are yet existing, and in a more perfect 89 state than might be supposed from the lapse of so many ages: they stand upon the Roman fosse way; and the eminent situation of the Prætorium commands a very beautiful view of Warwick, Coventry, and the surrounding country. This encampment is about one mile above Bretford Bridge; from which place the river, in an easy and narrow channel, pursues its course towards Wolston, a distance of about two miles. The scenery on the approach to this place is peculiarly attractive: in the fore ground is an antient stone bridge, with a gentle fall of water issuing through one of its arches; while the venerable tower of the church, rising in a due distance, is happily relieved by the diversified scenery in the grounds of Gen. Scott, through which the gentle Avon winds its easy and serpentine course.
Opposite to Wolston, on the southern 90 bank of the river, is another remain of a Roman encampment, many parts of which still appear in great perfection. Here was antiently a castle, of which there are now but few fragments. In the reign of Henry I. it is recorded that military service was performed here, and that it was denominated Brandon, or Brandune castle. We find, in the reign of Henry III. a special grant to Nicholas de Verdon, empowering him to erect a gallows at Bretford, being one, as it should seem, in the number of royal privileges appertaining to his castle of Brandon. Delegations of authority, in these times happily beyond, and ought never to have been annexed to military command.
About a mile below Wolston is Brandon mill, employed in making a coarse brown paper for the use of hot-pressers: it stands on a branch of the Avon, about a quarter of a 91 mile from the main stream. Ricton church, a small distance from the Avon, is situated on an eminence, and commands a very extensive and diversified prospect. A bridge is built across the river in this vicinity, and takes its name from the village, over which the high road leads from London to Coventry: from the latter place it is distant about six miles.
Two miles and a half from hence, we pass the pleasant village of Bubnell, or, as it was antiently written, Bubenhalle. Below this place is a handsome stone bridge, which bears the name of Broken Bridge; but its perfect state of repair would rather lead to a conjecture that its proper appellation should have been Brooks Bridge. The Avon from hence enters Stonely park, where a handsome stone bridge of four arches, thrown across it, is called Cloud Bridge, and separates Bubnell from the village of Starton. The 92 name of this bridge is from Clude, which, in the Saxon language, signifies a rocky situation. In this neighbourhood there was antiently a hermitage, and a chapel, at which, says Dugdale, Edmund the hermit served, for whose maintenance certain parcels of land lying in Starton, were given by William, surnamed Hasteler, brother to one Simon, cook to King Henry I. Edmund was buried in the chapel here, but his shrine was not able to protect it from being burnt and pillaged by thieves. After this sacrilege, the honest prior of Kenelworth entered upon the lands, and appropriated the whole of them to the use of that monastery. Thus the ruin which was effected by one set of Marauders, was fully accomplished by one of those who, though not in professed habits of rapine and plunder, have too often been found little better than wolves in sheeps’ cloathing.—This same worthy prior, we find, was presented by the hundred, in the twenty-sixth 93 year of Edward III. for not keeping the antient bridge of Clude in repair, as his predecessors had done time out of mind; but the goodly priest, having proved that “no certain person was obliged to repair it, in regard it had been built by the hermit as abovesaid, and moreover that there being another bridge near at hand, there was no necessity to keep up this, he was acquitted.”
In the midst of Stonely park, about a mile from Cloud bridge, is another stone structure, built across the Avon, consisting of three arches, erected in 1674. Not far from hence our stream receives the aid of the river Sow, which rises in Staffordshire, and passing the neighbouring village of Stonely, beneath a spacious bridge, enters these beautiful grounds, where, by art, it is spread into a considerable breadth of water. Stonely derives its name from the quality of the soil 94 on which it stands, which is of a rocky nature. In this neighbourhood William the Conqueror had feeding for two thousand hogs. The singular customs appertaining to this manor, are specified by Dugdale, to whom I refer the curious reader. The additional breadth which this stream, by its skilful management, has obtained, gives it, at its first approach to the abbey, the appearance of a spacious navigable river.
Stonely abbey was founded in 1154, the first year of Henry the Second, as a monastery for monks of the Cistercian order. Three sides of the quadrangle of this venerable abbey are yet standing; the fourth was taken down on erecting the present mansion, which was built from the design of Mr. Smith, of Warwick, in the beginning of the present century. The Grand Façade is a regular and handsome piece of architecture, of the Corinthian order; but it has, by some 95 strange fatality that I am sorry to say attends many of our capital buildings, been totally misplaced. It stands not where the grand front should be, but as a side front, or rather the gavel end, by which means the river passes some of the out offices, and inferior parts of the mansion. The apartments within the new building are spacious, and those of the antient abbey that remain are used as bed chambers and out offices. The groien’d arches beneath the abbey are in perfect repair, and make as excellent wine cellars now, as they ever did in the time of the good fathers, their former possessors; of whose charity, whatever may have been said, we are happy in according with the general voice, that they are every way exceeded by the munificent lady its present owner; who, without the austerities or obligations of a religious order, fulfils all its duties, and more than equals all its virtues.
The only part of the antient building, that appears in the annexed view, is the gate house, which, Dugdale says, was built by the sixteenth abbot, who died in 1349. On the front there is yet remaining a large escutcheon of stone, whereon three lions passant gardant are cut, with a lion passant gardant upon a helme, set on the corner of the shield, according to the fashion of that time wherein he lived. This badge he fixed here in memory of King Henry the Second, the founder of this abbey. The annexed sketch will give a general idea of this venerable fragment of antiquity, which is still in perfect good condition. The following is a compendious account of the history of this abbey, and is thus given by Dugdale, “at the time when the monastery was founded.
“There were, in the manour of Stonely, sixty-eight villains, besides two priests; also four bondmen, or servants, whereof 97 each held one mess, and one quartrone of land, by the services of making the gallows, and hanging of thieves; every one of which bondmen was to wear a red clout between his shoulders, upon his upper garment.” After speaking of several of the abbots of the monastery, Dugdale comments upon the conduct of one Thomas de Pipe, the then abbot, in the thirty-eighth of Edward the Third, with a merited degree of asperity. This spiritual superior, to the great injury of those for whom he was entrusted, granted estates to divers persons for lives, without reserving any rent whatsoever: and the sums for which these grants were made, are alledged to have been for the support of his concubine, Isabella Beashall, from whose intercourse with the holy father, there had, as report says, proceeded images of his Maker, more in number than there were monks in the monastery. He farther remarks, that he was a man of notable parts in other respects, and deserved very well of the house.98
By the survey taken in the twenty-sixth year of Henry the Eighth, the revenue of this abbey was certified to be one hundred and fifty-one pounds, three shillings, and a penny. It was suppressed in the following year by act of parliament, at which time the monks were for the most part disposed of to other religious houses that then remained undissolved; and Thomas Tutbury, the then abbot, had a pension of twenty-three pounds per annum assigned to him during his life. Upon the dissolution it was granted, in the thirtieth year of Henry the Eighth, to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and afterwards through several hands passed to Sir Thomas Leigh, Knight, alderman of London, in whose family it has continued ever since. The present possessor is the honorable Mrs. Leigh, sister to the late owner, Lord Leigh.
The situation of this abbey is truly beautiful; the Avon, winding before the house 99 at a proper distance, supplies the corn and fulling mills, whose distant sound, aided by the rushing waters falling from the stream, contribute in no small degree to render a complete landscape delicious to a reflecting and contemplative mind.
From this charming spot, the river Avon, gliding through the park, winds its easy course amidst the adjoining fertile meadows for a space of about a mile, till it reaches Chesford bridge, at which place we shall take leave of its bank, to meditate on the noble ruins of the once magnificent Kenelworth castle.100
The abbey derives its name of Combe, or Cumbe
[Or Coombe, if you are engraving the Plate caption.]
The famous John Rous, the antiquary mentioned in a former section
[For “a former”, read “the following”, since the only other mention of John Rous is on page 125 in Section VI.]
THE superb ruins of Kenelworth castle are about two miles from the bank of our Avon, and there are not to be found in this kingdom many such specimens of antient splendor and magnificence. This castle was built in 1120, by Geoffrey de Clinton, a Norman, who was Lord Chamberlain, and Treasurer to King Henry the First. From the many points in which this stupendous pile may be viewed, and viewed to advantage, I have selected the annexed sketch, as comprising the most extensive assemblage of objects capable of giving a general idea of its consequence. It presents an internal view of the north front, including the great gate house, built by Lord Leicester; through the center of which the grand entrance was formerly made, under a spacious 102 arch that is now walled in. This building contains two large rooms on the ground floor, one of which is wainscotted with oak, taken from that part of the castle called Leicester’s buildings. In this apartment is a spacious chimney piece of alabaster, with the armorial bearings, motto, and crest of the family, fancifully displayed in no indifferent style of sculpture. The great central building in the view is what is called Cæsar’s Tower, which, though the most antient, is by much the strongest and most perfect part of these venerable ruins. Three sides of the walls yet remain nearly entire; the fourth was destroyed in the time of the civil wars, a period, the principles and energies of which contributed, in no small degree, towards bringing to a juster level the cloud-capt ambition of these towering palaces, and their loftier inhabitants. The walls of this tower are in many parts sixteen feet thick. The building to the left is 103 called Leicester buildings, which, though the most modern erection, is yet approaching nearest to decay. This may in some measure arise from the brown and perishable stone of which it is constructed, but principally from the depredations that have been made on it, for the sake of the materials, which have either been applied in raising new buildings, or in repairing the roads in the neighbourhood.
Extensive and magnificent as these ruins appear to be, and interesting as they certainly are, to the curious observer, they yet fail in fixing determinately the eye of the artist, which is constantly wandering, and knows not where to rest, but fancies a thousand beautiful combinations for a picture, that, when attempted to be put on paper, are found to want something necessary towards producing a true picturesque effect. The main objects are too much scattered 104 and broken to form one general mass or combination that may strike, and the whole pile wants due elevation to give it pictorial expression. The country around is likewise flat and uninteresting; yet, with all its disadvantages, the mind is so captivated by the surrounding features of the landscape, that it knows not how to quit this fascinating scene. Under this impulse, I made several other attempts to sketch these noble remains in various points of view; but they all fell so short of the general idea I entertained of the place, that I desisted, and was determined to rest on the one prefixed to this section.
The view which comprises Cæsar’s tower and Leicester buildings, cannot, by the curious traveller, be passed unnoticed; the latter is overgrown with shrubs and ivy, in a form peculiarly diversified, and presents an object highly picturesque 105 and romantic. The splendid remain of the grand banquetting hall in Leicester buildings, is eighty-six feet in length, and forty-five in width. Beneath one of the windows, in the outer part of this building, is affixed a flat stone, on which appears the date 1571. This hall constituted the principal part, in point of magnificence, of this once stately mansion. The venerable Gothic groined arches, and beautiful antique fragments, the lofty and once stately windows, now fallen to decay, cannot but yield a melancholy sensation to the contemplative mind, suggesting the slow but sure decay of human greatness, and the futility of every object on which the pride of man seems to depend.
In this temper of mind let us turn our thoughts to the once flourishing state of this ruin, in the baronial reign of our Elizabeth. At that period we find it recorded, in a letter 106 written by one Langham, an attendant of the court and who was present at the entertainment given at Kenelworth castle by the Earl of Leicester to the Queen, during her summer’s progress in 1579. In the quaint style of the times, it runs thus: “Who that considerz untoo the stately seat of Kenelwoorth castl, the rare beauty of bilding that his honor hath avaunced; all of the hard quarry stone: every room so spacioous, so well belighted, and so hye roofed within: so seemly too sight by due proportion without: a day time on every side so glittering by glasses; a nights, by continuall brightnesse of candel, fyre, and torch-light, transparent thro’ lyghtsom wyndoz, az it wear the Egiptian Pharos relucent unto all the Alexandrian coast: or els (too talke merily with my mery freend), thus radiaunt, az thoogh Phœbus for hiz eaz woold rest him in the castle, and not every night so to travel 107 dooun untoo the Antipodes. Heertoo so fully furnisht of rich apparell and utensilez apted in all pointes to the best.”
Her Majesty’s introduction to the castle has something so truly whimsical in it, that I cannot pass it unnoticed. “Her Majestie benignly accepting, passed foorth untoo the next gate of the brayz, which for the length, largenes, and use (as well it may so serve), they call now the tylt-yard, whear a porter, tall person, big of lim, and stearn of coountinance, wrapt also all in sylke, with a club and keiz of quantitee according, had a rough speech full of passions in meeter aptly made to the purpose: whearby (as her Highnes was cum within his warde) hee burst out in a great pang of impatiens to see such uncooth trudging too and fro, such riding in and out, with such dyn and noiz of talk within the charge of his offis: whearof hee 108 never saw the like, nor had any warning afore, ne yet coold make too himself any cauze of the matter; at last upon better vieu and avisement, az hee preast too cum neerar, confessing anon that he found himself pearced at the prezens of a personage so evidently expressing an heroical soveraintee overall the whole estates, and by degreez thear besyde, callm’d his stoniz, proclaims open gates and free passage to all, yeelds up his club, his keyz, his office and all, and on his knees humbly prayz pardon of hiz ignorauns and impaceens: which Her Highness graciouslie graunting, he cauz’d hie trumpetoourz that stood upon the wall of the gate thear, too soound up a tune of welcum.”
From this grand hall the north passage leads to the garden, or, as it was antiently called, the Plaisance. This spot, containing an acre, or more, and joined to the park by a 109 bridge, is thus described by the same writer: “The left arm of the pool, northward, has my Lord adorned with a beautiful bracelet of a fair timbred bridge, fourteen feet wide, and six hundred feet long, railed on both sides, and strongly planted, with a spacious terrace extending along the castle wall ten feet high, and twelve broad.” Of this garden no traces are remaining. A capacious lake formerly surrounded the southern, western, and part of the northern walls of the castle: it is now nearly dried up, and in a state little suited to the representation of those splendid pageantries which the same old author tells us were exhibited by her favourite Leicester to Elizabeth. “The lady of the lake (famous in King Arthurz book), with too nymphes waiting her Highness comming: from the midst of the pool, whear, upon a moovabl island, brightt blazing with torches, she floting to land, met her Majestie with 110 a well penned meeter and matter after this sort, (viz.) First of the anncientee of the castle, who had been ownerz of the same e’en till this day, most alweys in the hands of the Earle of Leycester; hoow shee had kept this lake sinz King Arthurz days; and now understanding of her Highness hither cumming, thought it both office and duetie, in humble wize to discover her and her estate; offering up the same, her lake and poowr therein, with promise of repayre unto the coourt. It pleazed her Highness too thank this lady, and too add withall, we had thought indeed the lake had been oourz, and doo you call it yourz now? Well, we will herein commun more with yoo hereafter.”
“This pageant was cloz’d up with a harmony of hautboiz, shalmz, cornets, and such oother looud muzik, that held 111 on while her Majestie pleasauntly so passed from thence toward the castl gate; whereunto from the baze coourt over a dry valley cast into a good foorm, waz thear framed a fayr bridge of a twenty foot wide, and a seaventy foot long, graveld for treading, railed on either part with seaven posts on a side, that stood a twelve foot a sunder, thickned betweene with well proportioned pillars turn’d.”
At this strange and whimsical entertainment, yet perhaps the most sumptuous that ever was offered by a subject to his sovereign, we find a Captain Cox appears to have been no inconsiderable actor; he is described, by Langham, as an “od man, by profession a mason, and that right skilfull and with great oversight in matters of storie.” His library of romantic and humorous books is there mentioned, and is of such a length as almost to disturb the peace, at least to set an 112 itching the fingers of our black letter collectors, “Then,” says our author, “he could talk az much in an afternoon without book az any inholder betwixt Brainford and Bagshot, what degree soever he be. Besides thiz, in the field a good marshall at musters; of very great credite and trust in the toun here; for he haz been chozen aleconner many a year, when his betterz have stond by; and ever quitted himself with such estimation, az yet too tast of a cup of nippitate; hiz judgment will be taken above the rest in the parish, be hiz noze near so read.
“Captain Cox cam marching on so valiantly before, cleen trust and gartered above the knee, all fresh in a velvet cap (Master Golding a lent it him); floorishing with hiz ton swoord; and another fens master with him: thus in the forward making room for the rest. After 113 them, proudly prickt on formost the Danish launce Knights on hosbak, and then the English:” after which tilting ensues, in which the Danes had twice the better, but in the end are victorious.
We have said thus much of Captain Cox, as he appears to have been a person of such notoriety in the time of Ben Johnson, as to render him a fit subject for his pen fifty years afterwards; for in his Masque of Owls, at Kenelworth, presented by the ghost of our hero mounted on his hobby horse, he says,
This captain Cox, by St. Mary,
Was at Bullen with King Hary;
And (if some do not vary)
Had a goodly library,
By which he was discerned
To be one of the learned
To entertain the Queen here
When last she was seen here.114
And for the town of Coventry
To act for her sovereignty.
And for his sake the play
Was call’d for the second day.
Adjoining to the church of Kenelworth stood the monastery, founded about the same period with that of the castle, and by the same Geoffrey de Clinton, from whom it had large endowments and privileges: they were no less than a tenth part of all the eatables that were brought into the castle; a right to fish in his pool at Kenelworth with boats and nets one day in every week; together with all his lamb skins throughout every his manours, as well those as should be killed to eat, as of others that might die casually.
Of this priory little remains but a fragment of the wall, which is sufficient to denote its former extent. Part of the chapel, and a venerable ruin of the old priory gateway, 115 called, I know not why, Tantarra, is annexed in the following sketch.
Of this Gothic entrance there remains sufficient yet to give pleasure to the eye of the antiquary, and to recommend it to general notice. Within the last two months, in digging in this vicinity, some valuable fragments of the foundation have been discovered, 116 and, apparently, part of an aisle, or probably a cloister, appertaining to the abbey; the ornaments of the pillars, with their bases and capitals, appear to have been in a good style of Gothic architecture, and are scattered round the ground that has been dug up; but this discovery does not appear to have been taken up with that avidity which might be expected to attend a learned and curious pursuit, but seems rather to have been the effect of accident, and is not likely to be pursued to the extent which such vestiges of antiquity would have well warranted.
We shall now quit these venerable walls and returning to Chesford bridge, resume the subject of the Avon. This bridge is an antient stone structure of two circular arches. Though at the distance of eight miles from Combe abbey, it was formerly kept in repair by the abbot of that religious house, and is still preserved from dilapidation by Lord 117 Craven, the present owner of the abbey. From hence the river gently winds its course towards Blakesdown mill, a distance of about a mile. Adjoining to the miller’s sequestered retreat, which is overgrown with vines and ivy, is a handsome bridge; through part of which the restrained water from the adjoining stream falls in a gentle cascade into the Avon. This beautiful scene, heightened by the lengthening shadows, reflected on the bosom of our river by a glowing evening sun, presents one of the most simply elegant forms of landscape that has occurred in pursuing the various windings of its banks,
“And soothes with many a pensive pleasure mild.”
From the reflections that would naturally suggest themselves to a contemplative mind in a retreat so calm and tranquil as to give the image of genuine and truly philosophical 118 happiness, one might be led to ask why man should with such eager and restless ambition busy himself so often in the smoke and bustle of populous cities, and lose his independence and too often his peace in the pursuit of a phantom which almost eludes his grasp—little thinking that with the accumulation of wealth he must create imaginary wants, under which perhaps that wealth melts away as certainly as under the more ready inlet of inordinate passion happiness is sacrificed.
The valleys through which the Avon pursues its meandering course after passing this charming scene, increase in richness, and verdure, and the country on the other side is beautifully screened by the luxuriancy of the neighbouring hills, on one of which the village and church of Hill-Wootton agreeably meets the eye, and gives additional 119 lustre to the scenery. Approaching Guy’s Cliff the admirer of elegant nature cannot avoid being struck with the happy combination of objects that present themselves. From the annexed sketch the reader will best form his judgment of the merit of the selection.
This charming spot is the property and residence of Mr. Greatheed whose superior taste, and classic mind, is happily formed for the enjoyment of this elegant retreat of which Leland says in his Itinerary, made in the time of Henry the Eighth, that it is a house of pleasure, a place meet for the Muses,
“Nec non solitudo et quies Musis amicissima.”
Guy’s Cliff is situated on the western bank of the river Avon. Dugdale says “it was made choice of by that pious man 120 St. Dubritius (who in the Britons time had his episcopal seat at Warwick,) for a place of devotion, where he built an oratory, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen; unto which, long after, in the Saxon dayes, did a devout hermite repair; who, finding the natural rock so proper for his cell, and the pleasant grove, wherewith it is backed yielding entertainment fit for solitude, seated himself here. Which advantages invited also the famous Guy, (sometimes Earl of Warwick) after his noble atchievements, having weaned himself from the deceitful pleasures of this world, to retire hither; where receiving ghostly comfort from that heremite, he abode till his death. The story of his dwelling on this spot is thus described in the antient Ballade in the legend of Sir Guy.”121
“At length to Warwick I did come,
“Like Pilgrim poor, and was not known;
“And then I lived a Hermite life
“A mile and more out of the Towne.
“Where with my hands I hewed a house
“Out of a craggy rocke of stone;
“And lived like a Palmer poore
“Within that Cave myself alone:
“And daily came to beg my bread
“Of Philis at my Castle gate;
“Not known unto my loving wife,
“Who daily mourned for her mate.
“Till at the last I fell sore sicke,
“Yea sick so sore that I must die:
“I sent to her a ringe of golde,
“By which she knew me presentlye.
“Then she repairing to the Cave
“Before that I gave up the Ghost;
“Herself clos’d up my dying Eyes:
“My Philis fair whom I lov’d most.122
“Then dreadful Death did me arrest,
“To bring my corpes unto the grave;
“And like a Palmer dyed I,
“Whereby I sought my life to save.
“My body that endured this toyle,
“Though now it be consumed to mould;
“My statue faire engraven in stone,
“In Warwick still you may behold.”
The statue, here alluded to as being in Warwick, now stands at the south end of the chapel in Guy’s cliff, which was built by order of the before mentioned Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who by his will ordained “that the old chapel should be new built, the cost of which, with the consecration of the two altars, as appears by his executors from the twenty-eighth to the thirty-seventh of Henry the Sixth, was one hundred and eighty-four pounds and five pence.” This chapel is in perfect repair, but is not now used as a place of worship.123
We cannot pass this antient statue without giving some description of it: it is about eight feet high, and is very much mutilated. The annexed sketch will give some idea of its present appearance, which is very different to that in Hollar’s print, introduced in Dugdale, where it seems to be in a perfect state.
The outside of the venerable chapel, together 124 with part of the adjoining cliff, I have likewise thought fit to give in the following sketch. The higher aperture in the cliff opens to a cave, said to have been the oratory of the famous Guy, and before it was the favourite walk of his lady, the fair Phillis, alluded to in the ballad before mentioned. She was the daughter of a Saxon Earl, Rohand, in the days of King Alfred; whose name was Felicia.
This place was the residence of another 125 hermit, one Thomas de Lewes, In the eighth of Edward the Third; and, after him, of one John Burry, in the tenth of Henry the Fourth, who had one hundred shillings per annum to pray for the good estate of Richard Beauchamp, then Earl of Warwick.
We must not omit to mention a celebrated inhabitant of this cliff, John Rous, the famous antiquary, who, after quitting the university, became a chantry priest in the chapel of this place, where he compiled his Chron. de Regibus, so often quoted by Dugdale, who, in his History of Warwickshire, has given a portrait of him by Hollar. He was buried in the church of St. Mary, Warwick.
In this cliff is formed, by a range of excavations, good stabling for horses, cellars, and out offices for the dwelling house, which are perfectly dry and wholesome. The 126 cave within this cliff that appears in the view prefixed to this section, produces a remarkable fine spring of water, which bears the name of Guy’s spring. This spring rises through a small aperture in the solid rock; a part of which, containing two circular basons about eighteen inches diameter, is left standing in the middle of the grotto, being two feet in height from the level of the floor, and totally covered with a most beautifully verdant moss, about two inches in depth, and so thickly set as to vie in softness with the richest carpet.—The following lines are peculiarly appropriate:
Intus aquæ dulces vivoque sedilia saxo,
The story of Guy, Earl of Warwick, is too generally known to bear repetition; Dugdale’s relation seems to give it a degree of credibility, but we are inclined to think with Camden, that, besides its being fraught 127 with much absurdity, and that the days of chivalry, and their heroes, are now on the decline, the story is too much obscured by fable and romance to obtain the least degree of credit.
Dugdale says that King Henry the Fifth, being at Warwick, visited this place; but whether from respect to the famous Guy, or to view “the rareness of the situation,” does not appear; and that he determined to have founded a chantry of two priests, had he not been prevented by death; this purpose was however accomplished by Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, in the first year of Henry the Sixth.
The Avon, winding round this romantic cliff, washes the foot of a large rock about a mile below it, adjoining to which a very extensive mill is recently erected for the purposes of grinding corn, and spinning cotton; 128 it is called, from the adjacent quarry, Rock Mill. Here our Avon receives the aid of the river Leam, which rises near Braunston, in Northamptonshire. This river gives the name of Lemington to a village about two miles from the Avon; where, very near the bank of the Leam, rises a spring of water, of so saline a quality as, in Dugdale’s time, to have been used for salting provision. A little below this is Emscote bridge, a very antient structure, and of great extent, which is rendered necessary from the immense swell of water in the adjoining meadows during the winter season.129
a spacious chimney piece of alabaster
[A chimney piece of what? The National Park Service says, ominously, that alabaster is both more fragile and much harder to clean than marble.]
In the quaint style of the times, it runs thus
[Here and elsewhere, I am not absolutely certain our author’s transcription of early texts is accurate.]
Nec non solitudo et quies Musis amicissima
[The reason it cannot be made to scan is that, in spite of Ireland’s formatting, Leland’s Latin was written as prose.]
a celebrated inhabitant of this cliff, John Rous
[Previously mentioned in Section V.]
The cave within this cliff that appears in the view prefixed to this section
[Or rather, the view just a few pages back, in the middle of this section. Not that it matters much; in spite of the caption, I don’t see anything remotely resembling a cliff.]
ABOUT half a mile below Emscote bridge the eye is gratified with an extensive view of Warwick town, the venerable castle, and the new bridge recently built by the Earl of Warwick. Our Avon, gently winding through the extensive meadows before us, passes under this simple and elegant arch, through the highly ornamented grounds of its noble owner. This spacious bridge consists but of one arch formed of the segment of a circle, the diameter of which is 105 feet; its breadth 36 feet: the immense quantity of stone, used for building this bridge, was brought from the quarry at Rock Mill, mentioned in the close of the last section: It was constructed by William a mason of Warwick who is recently dead but whose name deserves to be recorded 130 in this page not only as an artist but in the superior character of an honest and respectable man. The high road over it leads to Banbury, Daventry, &c. and is more commodious, and considerably nearer than the old one. This erection was made at a very great expence and solely at the charge of the noble Earl, who has applied it to the public use in lieu of the old one that crosses the river close to the foundation of his castle. This antient Gothic bridge is greatly in decay, and extremely narrow considered as a public road, yet, as a picturesque object united with the castle, must be acceptable to the eye of the connoisseur. From the acknowledged taste and munificence of its owner there is little reason to doubt but that it will long be preserved, not only as a public accommodation, but as a noble addition to the scenery of this venerable and stupendous castle.131
This immense pile of building, considered in every point of view, affords matter of astonishment to the curious, and to render ample justice to its sublimity would require a volume of designs. A work of this nature, with a copious history of its origin, would be highly gratifying to the antiquary, and could not fail to be esteemed an accession to the arts even in the present æra of their refinement in this country. I shall in the present undertaking select two of the most prominent and striking features of this vast and stately building and such as were best adapted to the size of this volume and calculated to convey to the reader the clearest idea of this immense mass which, at the first coup d’œuil appears to be more than a mere work of art.
The annexed view is taken from the grand entrance, which lies in a north-east direction. By an easy ascent, through a 132 spacious area of verdant lawns and shrubbery, we are led to contemplate this assemblage of embattled turrets, and aspiring towers. That on the right, is denominated Guy’s, the other on the left Cæsar’s Tower: the immense foundation of the latter appears behind the easy slope that rises to the grand gateway. This entrance stands on an arch thrown across the fosse over which was formerly a drawbridge. The foundation of this vast pile is raised on a prodigious rock, rising perpendicularly on the bank of our Avon, and the superstructure seems to be so connected with its base, that it appears rather to have grown out of it, than to have been artificially produced. The rock is known to run seventy feet below the surface of the earth, and, from appearances, there is reason to conjecture that it may penetrate still much deeper. The groined arches, excavated from this rock beneath the main building, are all, with great care and labor, 133 cased with stone and are used as domestic offices to the castle. At what precise period this building was begun to be erected, historians seem not clearly to ascertain. Dugdale is doubtful whether to attribute its origin to Cymbeline, King of Britain, or to the Romans who had a strong hold or fortress at this place.
Warwick was a Roman station on the fosse way, about fifteen miles from the station at Brinklow noticed before. The high artificial mount of earth is the Prætorium, and is visible from that at Brinklow, which is likewise visible from the Specula at Tripontium, a circumstance that, no doubt but the. Romans availed themselves of when they kept our ancestors in subjection. Warwick, it is well known, was called by them Præsidium.
In nine hundred and fifteen, Dugdale says, 134 the renowned lady Ethelstede, daughter to king Alfred, certainly caused the dungeon to be made, which was a strong tower or platform upon a large and high mount of earth, artificially raised, the substance whereof is yet to be seen. The view of this tower in Dugdale, is delineated by Hollar, as standing at the west end of the castle: at that time castles in this country were not very numerous, of which William the Conqueror was so well aware, that he “neglected not to raise store of such forts throughout the realm:” in the number of these, this at Warwick was not the least, and it appears that four houses, then belonging to the monks of Coventry, were appropriated to the enlargement of it, and one Turchill de Warwick employed by the King to superintend the work; William however would not trust him with the custody thereof, but committed it to Henry de Newburgh, whom he advanced to the earldom 135 of Warwick. This castle, towards the latter end of the reign of king Stephen, was delivered up by Gundred, the then countess of Warwick, to Henry duke of Normandy, afterwards Henry the Second, on his arrival in this country. It was then committed to Hugh de Nevill, and, in the eighteenth of king John, unto Henry the then Earl of Warwick; at which period its consequence stood so high in the estimation of the king, that, by his precept to the archbishop of York, he requires good security of Margery, sister and heir to Thomas the then earl, that she should not take to husband any person in whom the king could not repose trust as in himself.
The history of Guy’s Tower, that appears in the preceding view, Dugdale gives in the following words. “The great tower at the north-east corner called Guy’s tower the walls whereof are ten feet thick 136 was built by Thomas Earl of Warwick; about the 17th of Richard the Second, on whose banishment the custody of it was granted to John de Clinton, and in a short time after to Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent.” In the reign of Henry the Fourth it reverted to its former possessor, the Earl of Warwick, nor does it appear, from that time till the reign of Edward the Fourth, to have been out of the hands of the succeeding Earls of that family. On the death of George Duke of Clarence, it was seized by the King, during the minority of his son Edward Plantagenet, and from this time continued in the hands of the crown, till the first of Edward the Sixth, when John Dudley was advanced to the Earldom of Warwick: on his attainder, in the first of Mary, it escheated to the crown, till restored by Elizabeth to one of his sons Ambrose and his heirs, whom she likewise created Earl of Warwick; he dying without issue, it 137 came again to the crown, and was, by King James in the second year of his reign, granted in fee to Sir Fulk Greville Knight, afterwards created a Baron in the eighteenth year of this reign, by the title of Lord Brooke, Baron Brooke, of Beauchamp-court, in the county of Warwick: at this period the castle was in a very ruinous state, and the strongest parts of it were used as a common goal. This Lord Brooke says Dugdale, “bestowed more than 20,000l. cost in repairing and adorning it, and made it a place, not only of great strength, but extraordinary delight, with most pleasant gardens, walls, and thickets, such as this part of England can hardly parallel; so that now it is the most princely seat that is within these midland parts of this realm.”
Speed, after mentioning the extraordinary expence bestowed in repairs upon the 138 castle by this learned and great man, pays him an unreserved tribute of gratitude for his kind patronage in rescuing him from the mechanical employment to which he had been originally destined. “His merit to me-ward I do acknowlege in setting this hand free from the daily employments of a manual trade, and giving it full liberty thus to express the inclination of my mind, himself being the procurer of my estate.” To enumerate the high and amiable qualities of this great man, who gloried in having been the friend of Sir Philip Sydney, would be foreign to this work; we shall content ourselves with having had the honor of introducing a name that must ever be held dear to this country, and of observing that its lustre is not diminished by descent. The grand area, or inner court of the castle, has an air of solemn magnificence, that is superior to any thing of the kind I have yet seen: The many additions that 139 have been made by the present Earl are so analogous to its original design as to render it an honor to the taste of its owner. The interior apartments are uniformly splendid, and so judiciously suited to domestic uses, as to erase from the mind of a stranger, every idea of its ever having been a castle of defence; and leave him wholly in admiration of the beauty, and magnificence of a place, once celebrated only for its strength. The collection of pictures, particularly the works of Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyck, are highly deserving the attention of the connoisseur; they were all purchased by the present Earl, whose superior knowledge of the fine arts is not less evinced by works of his own pencil than by this judicious selection. The various scenes that present themselves from the different apartments of the castle are noble and extensive; the Avon beneath, rendered by art a capacious river, winds its course through a rich and highly cultivated 140 park for a space of near two miles, when it happily breaks upon the eye, in different points of view, emulous as it were to enrich this luxuriant scene.
We shall now quit the internal part of the castle, and, to give a more full idea of its situation, attempt a general view of its grand south and west fronts, as they appear from the new bridge before mentioned. Here the extent of this noble building is viewed in its utmost perfection. The judicious alterations that have been, and are still making to the windows, in the southern front, by giving them a Gothic form, adds much to their picturesque appearance; and Guy’s stately tower, although its immense rocky base is lost to the eye in that point of view, is yet an object highly worthy of admiration. This view, taken altogether, though on a small scale, will yet, I flatter myself, give a faithful picture of this principal 141 ornament of our Avon, on whose delightful banks we shall for a short time suspend our comments, to make some cursory observations on the antient town of Warwick, which stands on a rocky eminence, and in a dry and fertile soil. Dugdale says, “it was the chiefest town of these parts, and whereof the whole county upon the first division of these realms into shires took its name, so may it justly glory in its situation beyond any other.” This town contains many objects that render it worthy notice, the first of these is, pre-eminently, the Lady’s Chapel, in the church of Saint Mary; which is one of the most beautiful specimens of the rich Gothic style I remember to have seen. We are sorry to add, that in a recent repair made to this once venerable building, so much attention has been paid to its former gilding, and gaudy decorations, that it now glares so much on the eye as to produce 142 a disgusting effect. We are not however without a hope that it may one day be restored to its primitive simplicity and elegance.
In this chapel are some splendid monuments, particularly one in the centre, of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick; who lies on a tomb of marble. The figure is of brass, double gilt, and is surrounded by many images in the same metal. On a monument erected in this chapel, to the memory of a lady Leicester, who died on the morning of a Christmas day in 1634, are some lines which from the singularity of their style may not be thought unworthy transcribing. This lady’s qualities according to Master Gervas Clifton the Poet’s account, were really wonderful, she not only cast cannon, but multiplied the heavenly host, in courtly phrase we can say no less, that glitter around the throne, and 143 was at once a belle, an amazon, and a saint!
“She, that did supply the Warrs
“With thunder, and the Court with stars,
“Thought it safest to retire
“From all care, and vain desire.
“And because she took delight
“Christ’s poor members to invite,
“She fully now requites her love,
“And sent his Angels from above
“That did to Heaven her soul convey
“To solemnize his own Birth-day.”
The collegiate church of St. Mary, which was rebuilt by Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, in 1394, was destroyed by a dreadful conflagration in 1694, and no part left standing but the beautiful chapel of our lady before mentioned. In the year 1704, this church was rebuilt from a design of Sir Christopher Wren, which design we are sorry to say is in many parts very inferior to the general excellence of that great architect. To 144 censure any work of so distinguished an artist, may appear arrogant: his strong partiality for the Grecian and Roman style of design, in preference to the Gothic, is evident in all his works; and how judiciously soever he may in this point have decided, in the present undertaking he has most absurdly, and I doubt not but that the public opinion will accord with mine, blended together the inferior and discarded ornaments of each without either sense or meaning. This jumble is no where more palpable than in the forms of the windows, where a double row of cumbrous circular, or Saxon arches, are terminated above by such grotesque and barbarous forms, as to baffle all conjecture as to what order or country they could belong. In other parts of this large building will be found many inconsistencies, which we are the more surprised at, as he had before him the elegant chapel above alluded to, and which he could not but be aware must remain as a part 145 of this vast edifice. Within this church a very judicious alteration, that of removing the organ from the centre of the building to the west end, is now carrying into execution. The custom of placing the organ in the former situation, so universally prevalent, is matter of astonishment to those who are capable of feeling the full effect of beautiful symmetry in the works of architecture: by this barbarism in taste, the sublime interest, we take in the
“Long drawn aisle and fretted vault”
of our Gothic cathedrals is in a great degree destroyed; and the most striking and impressive works of human invention obscured by a range of gilded pipes, that can only be entitled to a secondary consideration.
In foreign churches this instrument, how respectable soever, holds only its due and subordinate station, and is usually placed between 146 the pillars at the side of the grand aisle.
As an architect of considerable taste and skill, Warwick has to boast the name of Hiorne, a native of this place. The gate at the east end of the town is from his design, as well as the new gaol and church at the lower part of it. They have each a claim to their respective merits, and those considerable, although placed in the vicinity of two of the grandest works in the kingdom, the castle and the chapel of our lady in the church of St. Mary before mentioned.
Quitting this handsome town, we shall return to the bank of our Avon, which, in its course through the richly diversified grounds belonging to Warwick castle, acquires in some places a breadth of not less than two hundred feet, and no where less than one hundred. Its depth is full twelve 147 feet, having an excellent sound and gravelly bed, which it retains for the distance of upwards of two miles and a half in and below the park. Passing down the river, the spacious green-house, recently built by the present Earl, and designed by William Eboral before mentioned, stands on a rising lawn, and agreeably meets the eye at a proper distance from its margin. Within this building is placed a vase of exquisite workmanship, in white marble, brought by his Lordship from Tivoli. This inestimable specimen of Grecian sculpture was discovered some years since near Adrian’s villa there; it is in a high state of preservation, and in its design and execution, beautiful beyond conception. Three different engravings of it will be found in Piranese’s views,
With the beautiful curve of the river the eye is highly gratified, nor less so with the luxuriant plantations arising in each direction, 148 under the auspices and taste of their noble owner, who, fully aware that elegance in landscape is not to be produced without space, has unremittingly embraced every occasion that offered towards completing this bold enterprize. The various productions of the fir, larch, and other trees, that have been raised in these grounds within these few years, give ample proof of the richness and excellence of the soil, nor should the cedar of Lebanon be forgotten as the produce of these grounds, which has yielded some thousands within the last twelve or fourteen years.
Towards the middle of the park, by turning a high road into another direction, the Earl has caused to be made a spacious lake of water, from ten to twenty feet deep, from a small stream which issues at Chesterton, in this county, about six miles distant. This water is between three and four hundred feet wide, 149 and extends about a mile in length; it is capable of being continued near two miles farther within this spacious park.
Passing the keeper’s lodge, which stands on a considerable eminence on the bank of the river, a new interest is created in the mind of the discerning traveller, by a retrospective view of the castle; which, at the close of day, losing the nice discrimination of its minuter parts, melts into one grand and general mass of light and shade: nor is the scenery, looking down the river, less gratifying. Here the Ilmington hills, which bound our view with the intervening villages, aided by the winding of the Avon in the fore ground, form altogether a richly variegated landscape.
We cannot quit this park without noticing another handsome stone bridge of one arch, ten feet wide, thrown across the Avon, 150 which being left unfinished by the late Earl, was completed about seventeen years since by the present. At the extremity of the park on the southern bank of the river, we pass the village of Barford, where a new bridge is now erecting, to supply the place of the old one, which by length of time had fallen to decay. We find nothing here worthy notice; but, as Camden has thought proper to advert to a story of rather a singular nature respecting this place, we shall here transcribe it. He says, “that in 1647, one Samuel Fairfax was born at this place, who, at twelve years old, dwelt under the same roof, and eat at the same table with his father and mother, grandfather and grandmother, great grandfather and great grandmother; who all lived very happily together: and none of the three generations of either sex had been twice married.” Neither the longevity, nor domestic happiness of this extraordinary family, could avert the ill fortune 151 that pursued the last male branch of it to Warwick gaol a few years since; where he lingered and died for a debt contracted by a shopkeeper in his village, for whom he was surety. A little below Barford, the Avon receives the tributary aid of a rapid though small stream, called the Sherbourne, which passes, in its course, a pleasant village so called, from whence we presume it derives its name. Here, through a fine and fertile champaign country, our river directs its course by Wasperton to Fulbroke.
On a considerable eminence called Castle Hill, formerly stood Fulbroke castle, said to have been built by John, Duke of Bedford, third son to Henry the Fourth, regent of France. This castle was taken down in the reign of Henry the Eighth, by Sir William Compton, Knt. who had then the custody of the park. After it was pulled down, the materials were conveyed to Compton Wyniate, 152 from which Sir William erected the edifice now standing.
On this spot formerly stood the seat of the Earls of Northampton.
About two years since, some vestiges of the foundation of Fulbroke castle were accidentally discovered by a boy in raking the ground, which was then sown with oats. These were a brick vault with stone steps, nearly filled up with earth, and some fragments of Gothic stone windows. It does not appear that the castle was ever finished.
The adjoining park, which had been antiently in the possession of Sir Francis Englefield, was, in the time of our immortal Shakspeare, in that of the Lucys, who had been long settled in the neighbouring village of Charlecot. It was in this park our bard is said to have been, in a youthful frolic, engaged 153 in stealing deer, and thereby to have drawn upon himself a prosecution from the then owner, Sir Thomas Lucy.
If this story is founded in truth, as well as that the Knight’s rigorous conduct subsequent to this supposed outrage really proved the cause of our Shakspeare’s quitting this his native retirement to visit the capital, it will afford us the means of contemplating, at least in one instance, with some degree of complacency, even the imperious dominion of our feudal superiors, the tyranny of magistracy, and the harshest enforcement of the remnants of our forest laws; since in their consequences they unquestionably called into action the energies of that sublime genius, and of those rare and matchless endowments which had otherwise perhaps been lost in the shade of retirement, and have
“Wasted their sweetness on the desart air.”
Within this park is now standing, on a spot called Daisy Hill, a farm house, which was antiently the keeper’s lodge. To this lodge it is reported our Shakspeare was conveyed, and there confined at the time of the charge, which is supposed to have been brought against him. This supposition, how slight soever the foundation of it may be, I yet thought sufficient to give an interest to the spot in which it is presumed to have passed, and under that idea I have subjoined a sketch of the present building.
The deep and lofty woods, the lawns and walks of this park, scenes that, in tempers less apt, naturally prompt and invite to musings and heavenly contemplation, were doubtless the haunts of his early youth; and to his rambles in these coverts and recesses it is more than probable that we are indebted for those exquisitely passionate reflexions upon the sufferings and fate of that noble and beautiful animal, the Deer. In tracing the progress of its strugglings, and miseries, down to its mortal catastrophe under the savage and deliberate butchery of the huntsman, how unquestionable soever the warrant which puts the life of animals in the disposal of man, humanity is by this powerful appeal made to recoil at the abuse, and shudder at least at the mode in which the warrant is carried into execution against a fellow creature.
Suggested in the spot of which we are speaking, the following lines, which the most 156 fastidious would hardly think out of place any where, will, we trust, be thought fit accompaniments to this scene. Entitled, as they are, to a regard in adamant, and living, as they ought,
“In the heart’s core, aye, in the heart of hearts,”
their immortality can in no degree depend on the frail memorial of these humble pages. We pay no more than a passing tribute of respect.
Duke. Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
“And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools,
“Being native burghers of this desart city,
“Should in their own confines, with forked heads
“Have their round haunches gor’d.
“1st Lord. Indeed, my lord,
“The melancholy Jaques grieves at that,
“And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp
“Than doth your brother that hath banish’d you:
“To-day my Lord of Amiens, and myself
“Did steal behind him, as he lay along
“Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out157
“Upon the brook that brawls along this wood;
“To the which place a poor sequester’d stag,
“That from the hunter’s aim had ta’en a hurt,
“Did come to languish; and, indeed, my lord,
“The wretched animal heav’d forth such groans,
“That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
“Almost to bursting; and the big round tears
“Cours’d one another down his innocent nose
“In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool,
“Much mark’d of the melancholy Jaques,
“Stood on th’ extremest verge of the swift brook,
“Augmenting it with tears.”
William Eboral a mason of Warwick
text has Ebroal
[Not an especially famous mason, but I did find one citation for the correct spelling.]
The collection of pictures . . . are highly deserving the attention of the connoisseur
[A number of Warwick paintings were auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2014. It’s hard to pin down the details, so let’s stipulate that the castle needed a new roof.]
a design of Sir Christopher Wren . . . very inferior to the general excellence of that great architect
[That would be because it is not, in fact, by Wren. He did submit a design, but the People In Charge went with Sir William Wilson (1641–1710) instead. Going by Ireland’s description of the work, there is a good reason I had never heard of Wilson. Although he did manage to get knighted, this—if wikipedia can be believed—had more to do with the efforts of a rich widow whom he subsequently married.]
designed by William Eboral before mentioned
[At the beginning of the section, where it was (mis)spelled “Ebroal”.]
a spacious lake of water
[As opposed to . . . a lake of fire?]
“Wasted their sweetness on the desart air.”
[Alongside “The paths of glory lead but to the grave”, one of the most widely quoted lines from Gray’s Elegy: “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen / And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”]
Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
[This had better be from As You Like It. (Search, search.) Yes, it is. Act II, Scene 1.]
QUITTING Fulbroke and Hampton wood, on the western bank of the Avon, we pass the pleasant village formerly denominated Bishop’s Hampton, now Hampton Lucy. It derives this name from the antient family of the Lucy’s at Charlecot on the opposite side of the Avon, which near this place receives the aid of Thelesford brook. The venerable mansion, as given in the annexed view, is neither so picturesque nor perfect in its Gothic parts, as the grand front on the opposite side, it is, yet, selected as comprizing a view of the river; an advantage that could not be obtained in any other point of observation. This house was built by Sir Thomas Lucy, Knight, in the first year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. It is of brick, with stone coins, and still makes a venerable appearance, although it has, in 160 many parts, particularly in the forms of the windows, been modernized. The grand front at the entrance is nearly in its original state; and the great outer-gate, the inner part of which is seen in the annexed view, is a handsome specimen of the Gothic style used at the period of its erection. As I do not remember to have seen any view of this mansion, the sketch it is presumed, will not be unacceptable to the reader. The Lucy family boasts a very antient and noble descent, but perhaps have not, by any of their high connections or military achievements, acquired more celebrity than from the reputation of having prosecuted our divine bard Shakspeare, for stealing deer out of the park at Fulbroke, as mentioned at the close of the last section. The story, although well known, is yet so materially connected with the present undertaking, that I may be permitted to give it, as recorded on the authority of Mr. Rowe; 161 who, in his account of the life of our Bard, says, “Shakspeare, by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, had fallen into ill company; and amongst them, some, that had made a frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged him, more than once in robbing a park belonging to Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecot, near Stratford. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought somewhat too severely; and in order to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad upon him. And though this, probably the first essay of his poetry, be lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter, that it redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire for some time, and shelter himself in London.” The loss of the ballad, here alluded to, we cannot sufficiently regret: we have however in the Merry Wives of Windsor, under the 162 character of Justice Shallow, strong marks of the bard’s resentment, and from what cause soever it sprung, a degree of acrimony beyond the mere ridicule and contempt, which the vanity and ignorance of a booby Justice might be supposed to provoke. The temper with which he wrote will be best seen in his own words on the occasion. Justice Shallow, in his speech to Sir Hugh Evans, alluding to Falstaff, who is represented as having stolen the deer, says, “I will make a Star chamber matter of it: If he were twenty Sir John Falstaff’s, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow, Esq.
“Slender. In the county of Gloster, Justice of Peace and coram.
“Shallow. Ay, cousin Slender, and Cust-alorum.
“Slender. Ay, and ratolorum too; and a gentleman born master parson; who writes himself armigero; in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, armigero.
“Shallow. Ay, that I do; and have done any time these three hundred years.163
“Slen. All his successors, gone before him, have done’t; and all his ancestors, that come after him, may; they may give the dozen white luces in their coat.
“Shallow. It is an old coat.
“Evans. The dozen white louses do become an old coat well; it agrees well, passant: It is a familiar beast to man, and signifies love.
“Shallow. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.
“Slender. I may quarter, Coz.
“Shallow. You may, by marrying.
“Evans. It is marring indeed if he quarter it.
“Shallow. Not a whit.
“Evans. Yes, py’r-lady; if he has a quarter of your coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in my simple conjectures: but that is all one: If Sir John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, I am of the Church, and will be glad to do my benevolence, to make atonements, and compromises between you.”
The three hundred years, mentioned by Shallow, evidently refer to the antiquity of the Lucy family, whose pedigree is deduced by Dugdale, from the reign of Richard the First, a period of about four hundred years before the play was written; but the family did 164 not take the name of Lucy, till the 34th of Henry the Third, which corresponds nearly with the period above stated. The arms of the family are clearly pointed at, when Slender speaks of the dozen white Luces in their coat. The armorial bearings are three Luces hauriant, between nine cross croslets, on a field Or. Lucius is a Latin name, though of no good authority, for the fish called Jack or Pike, with which species of fish the Avon abounds near this spot, and they are commonly called Luces. In the kitchen of this mansion is a portrait of a pike, caught in this river in the year 1640, which weighed forty pounds.
In the church at Charlecot are several handsome monuments of the Lucy family; the earliest of which is that of Sir Thomas Lucy, who built the family mansion, and was the supposed prosecutor of our Bard; as I do not remember to have seen a portrait of him, I have here annexed 165 an etching of the head, as taken from the monumental effigies, and which will convey some idea of the man, as far as the likeness may be supposed correct, which, from the masterly style of its execution, may very reasonably be inferred. He died on the 18th of August, 1600. No portrait of him remains in the mansion house, nor can I learn that there is any extant. It is somewhat singular that on this monument there should not be found any memorial of the Knight himself, even so slight as to give the year in which he died, or the age which he had then attained; though there appears a strong testimonial to the excellent character of his lady, who lies by his side, and who died at the age of sixty-three, written and signed by himself. Whether it is not modish at present for husbands to speak in such exalted terms of their wives, or whatever may be the character of modern wedlock, the pleasure we receive in recording the virtues and excellencies of the 166 sex, particularly in a married state, is a sufficient inducement to make the following extract. The Knight, after many other honorable testimonies, concludes with this eulogium: “When all is spoken that can be said, a woman so furnished and garnished with vertue as not to be bettered, and hardly to be equalled by any. As she lived most vertuously, so she dyed most godly. Set down by him that best did know what hath been written to be true,
At Charlecot the Avon receives the aid of a small river called the Heile, that rises in Northamptonshire, and in its course passes near Kyneton, Compton, and through Welsburn, in this neighbourhood. About a mile lower, on the south, it likewise receives a small stream called Littleham brook, where the parish of Alverstone begins; a place, 167 the air of which is considered as being so pure and salubrious, that it was called by the late learned Dr. Perry, The Montpelier of England. From hence the river winding its pleasant course, affords a beautiful and extensive view of the Feldon of Warwickshire, called the Vale of Red Horse. This rich and fertile scenery is interspersed with extensive woods, rising out of a verdant champaign country, and its vast amphitheatre is bounded by a range of azure hills, forming a beautiful and undulating line; amongst these, Edge hills proudly distinguish themselves at a distance of about twelve miles.
We cannot pass these memorable hills although at such a distance without adverting to the famous battle fought there between the King and Parliament army in 1642. The King left Shrewsbury with about 10,000 men directing his course towards the capital under a full determination to give battle to 168 the Parliament army as soon as possible, Essex who had received his instructions two days after the Royalists had quitted Shrewsbury, left Worcester, and strange and incredible as it may appear, the two armies had marched ten days in utter ignorance of each other’s motions or situation, and were within six miles of meeting ere either of the generals was acquainted with the approach of his adversary. The day was far advanced when the King determined on the attack, in which the degree of success he obtained, seems to have been principally owing to the conduct of Sir Faithful Fortescue, who, having been obliged to serve in the parliament army, soon after the engagement took place, ordered his troop to discharge their pistols in the ground and then put himself under the command of Prince Rupert. After a heavy conflict and various success the fortune of the day does not seem to have been decided, nor can it be said, 169 that victory declared herself absolutely for either party in the shock of battle, as the two armies faced each other for a considerable time, without having confidence to renew the onset. The best title, which the Royalists have to the claim which they make of the victory is derived from a fact that is unquestionable; that Essex, the Parliament General left the field of battle in possession of the royal army. The King did not attempt to harrass the retreating army, but soon after retired into quarters.
There were 5000 men left dead on the field, of whom there appears to have been an equal number slain on both sides.
Amongst those who in that most calamitous and melancholy contest with a true spirit of heroism shed their blood in support of the principles they reciprocally held sacred, 170 it would be injustice not to draw into more general notice one, who, ranging himself under the royal standard, in that memorable day made himself eminently conspicuous.
This gentleman was a Dr. Lake, a civilian, the ancestor of the present Sir James Lake, Bart. and the person from whose merits and whose sufferings that family derives its hereditary honours. From a love of his sovereign, and a full conviction of the justice of his cause, the Doctor, laying aside the gown, took up the sword and followed his royal master to the battle of Edge hill. In this engagement he received sixteen wounds and having lost his right hand, he placed his horse’s bridle between his teeth and boldly held out the combat, fighting with his sword in his left hand till the armies parted. The friendly and affectionate part taken by the amiable, though ill-advised, and unfortunate monarch, in the concerns of this loyal subject 171 and very gallant adherent, is of so very marked and curious, as well as interesting a nature, that I here transcribe the history of it, by favour of Sir James Lake, from the original manuscript in the Doctor’s own hand writing, which has never before been made public.
“After I had made my escape from my imprisonment at Mr. Bent’s, at Corsby, where I was kept seven weeks after the battell at Edghill, I went to Bangor, in Carnarvonshire, in Christmas, 1642. Thence I writ to Dr. Steward, the Clerk of the Closett at Oxford, certifieing him in what condition I was, and of the hurts I received at Edghill, and hee sent back to me to send him up the certificate thereof under the chirurgion’s hand, which afterwards I did, under the hands of Mr. John Angel, the physitian, and Mr. Edward Lufman, the chirurgion, both of Leicester, 172 who were emploied upon my cure. The next yeare, about a fortnight after Michaelmas, I went out of Wales towards Oxford, where I came about the 20th of October, 1643.
“Dr. Steward wished me not to come into the King’s presence till the 23d day of that month, the anniversary day of Edghill, which hee said the King intended to keep solemnly, with publique thanksgiving for the victory on that day. And that day, a little before dinner, in the presence chamber at Christchurch, I kist his Majestie’s hand, Dr. Steward being with mee; who said to his Majestie, as I was goeing to kiss his hands, Sir, this day twelvemonths the Doctor was in another case (Dr. Steward having formerly, as he told me, shewed his Majestie that certificate of my hurts received at Edghill). His Majestie looking upon me, said, It is true you 173 lost a great deall of blood for mee that daie, and I shall not forgett it, but you shall bee remembered for it, both by way of armory, and otherwise. Then looking upon Dr. Steward, and others standing by, said, For a lawyer, a professed lawyer, to throw off his gown and fight so heartily for mee, I must needs think very well of it.
“I humbly thanked his Majestie for his gracious acceptance of my poore endeavours to serve him, and praised God for preserving mee for further service to his Majestie, to the best of my power, according to my bounden duties; and, Doctor (said the King, bending his head a little towards me), I have reason to believe it, and so went into the privie chamber. About two months after, his Majestie sent mee to Worcester, then garrisoned by Sir Gilbert Gerrard, the King’s governor there, to whom his Majestie writt; which 174 letter thou hast, signifying to him the losse of my estate in England, and Ireland, by the rebellion, and sixteen wounds I received at the battel at Edghill. With this letter, about the beginning of Christmas, I went down to Worcester, and taking my leave of Dr. Steward, hee (whether his Majestie had, when he signed that letter, or at other time, spoken him hereof, I know not, but probably he had), asked mee whether I had drawn up that note, touching an addition in armorie, which the King said he would give mee, when I kiss’d his hands on the anniversary day of Edghill. I told him I had done nothing therein; he bad mee advise with some herald thereupon, and draw up a note to that purpose for the King to signe, and to leave it with him.
“I did hereupon advise with Sir Wm. Le Neve, but did not acquaint him with 175 the King’s words touching armorie; and after I had talked with him, I drew up such a note for his Majestie’s signature, mentioning onely that coat of augmentation (without any mention of one of the lions of England), and the crest. This note I left with Dr. Steward; and, the next somer, his Majestie coming to Worcester, and Dr. Steward with him, Dr. Steward gave me this docquett, signed by his Majestie, and attested by the Doctor, touching the baronetshipp, and arms. Of which addition of one of the lions of England in the coat of augmentation, and besides to have the nomination of a Baronett, and to be a Baronett myself, being altogether beyond my expectation, I asked the Doctor the reason thereof; hee told mee, that presently upon my goeing from Oxford to Worcester, hee shewed his Majestie that note for the coat of augmentation, which I left with him. His 176 Majestie read it, and said, I deserved more; and should have more; I should have one of his own lions too, and I should have the making of a Baronett, and that I should bee a Baronett myself; and his Majestie himself, with his own hand, interlined some words in that note touching the bearing of that lion, and for the nomination of a Baronett, and the creation of mee to bee a Baronet, and bad the Doctor bring it to him, written more at large; whereupon the Doctor, within a daie or two after, brought it written, as it is here, to his Majestie, which hee signed, and said to him, Doctor, you shall bee Secretary for this business; sett your hand to it, and witness my signature; and tell Dr. Lake, that hee may keep this a while by him, and not take out the patent, till I shall better provide for him. And the same day, at Worcester, as before, when Dr. Steward had told mee this, which was at the Lord Bishopp’s palace, 177 at Worcester, I went with him into the presence, and there kissed his Majestie’s hand, who said to me, thus, the Doctor there (looking at Dr. Steward), I suppose has told you my minde. I said, Yes, Sir; and most humbly thanked his Majestie for his exceeding favours to me; then his Majestie beeing, it seemed, in hast upon business, went out of the Psence, and as hee was going, lookt back towards mee, and beckoned to me, and I made my address to him, who said thus to mee, Doctor, if you will, you may keep that a while by you (meaning that aforesaid docquet), and not take out the patent, till I shall better provide for you, which I hope I shall doe ere long; and so he went away, and I kept this by mee, as thou seest.”
Below Alvestone, to the south of the Avon, Welcombe hills, and lodge, the seat of George Lloyd, Esq. are seen in the most 178 favourable point of view. These hills have been antiently the scene of warm contests between the Britons and Saxons. The vast entrenchments, known by the name of Dingles, which were made by the latter, are yet evident. These Dingles, or Dells, are formed from large excavations made in the earth, sometimes forty or fifty feet deep: they were deemed a sufficient defence against the force of any warlike engines then in use, and from their pointed forms, may not improperly be called Double Angles.
Welcombe hills are apparently the work of art, and probably were thrown up by the soldiers, after their battles, in memory, as well as for cover, of entombing their slain.
Among the people, Camden observes, that every surviving soldier, after a battle, was forced to bring his proportion of 179 earth towards raising a monument for his comrades slain on the spot.
Welcombe belonged to the Combe family, till the beginning of the present century, since which period, having passed through several hands, it was purchased by John Lloyd, Esq. father of the present possessor.
From hence the Avon, in a winding direction, conducts us to Stratford bridge, on the southern extremity of which stands the antient manor house of the parish of Alvestone.180
Though the deer-poaching story has never been irrefutably disproven, current readings tend toward On balance, probably not. Among other inconvenient facts, there was no deer park at Charlecote until the early 17th century, when Will (b. 1564) was long past his deer-stealing years.
the dozen white Luces in their coat. The armorial bearings are three Luces hauriant, between nine cross croslets, on a field Or.
[White (argent) luces on a field or (gold or yellow) is something of a no-no. Unless you are the Vatican, you’re not supposed to put a metal on a metal. Looking it up, I find that the field is not in fact or but gules (red).]
his Majestie beeing, it seemed, in hast upon business, went out of the Psence
[Printed with a line over “sence”:
It seems as if the line should instead be over the P (only), so it expands to “presence”.]
Among the Northen people, Camden observes
[I don’t find the word “Northe(r)n”—as opposed to “northern” in a strict geographical sense—anywhere else in the Picturesque Views, so there’s no telling whether the spelling is intentional.]
THE approach to Stratford upon Avon presents to our view a venerable stone bridge of fourteen Gothic arches. It is walled on each side, and at the western extremity of it has an extensive causey. On the centre of this bridge is a stone pillar, at the top of which are cut the arms of the city of London, and below these are the armorial bearings of the Clopton family. The following lines are inscribed under the arms:
Sir Hugh Clopton, Knight,
Lord Mayor of London, built this bridge
At his own proper expence;
In the reign of King Henry the Seventh.
Sir Hugh was likewise Sheriff of London in the reign of Richard the Third.182
The river Avon was made navigable from Tewkesbury to this place in 1637, by a Mr. Sands. The town of Stratford is by Dugdale traced into so high and remote antiquity as three hundred years before the Norman conquest, at which time it belonged to the bishopric of Worcester.
In the seventh year of the reign of Richard the First, this town obtained a weekly market, by means of John de Constanciis, then Bishop of Worcester. Richard likewise bestowed on the burgesses of this town the inheritance of their burgages, paying yearly for each of them to himself and his successors twelve pence for all services at the four great feasts of the year, and that they should be free of toll for ever, according to the custom of Bristol.
In the sixteenth year of King John, they obtained a charter for an annual fair, which 183 was to commence on the eve of the holy Trinity, in honour of which mystery the church of Stratford had been dedicated. Fairs were antiently held on Sundays, a custom frequently inveighed against by the clergy of those times, as productive of great immorality; but their admonitions seem to have had little effect till towards the latter end of the reign of Henry the Sixth, when all merchandize, except the produce of the harvest that was exhibited for sale on Sundays or holidays, was forfeited to the lord of the liberty or franchise. The keeping of wakes was also, under antient usages, an annual festival, held on the Saint’s day to whose memory the church was dedicated, and thence called the feast of dedication. The depraved uses made of these wakes are well described in an old legend of St. John the Baptist; the substance of which Dugdale says he found englished in an old manuscript as follows (black letter): “And ye shall understand and 184 know how the Evyns were furst found in old time.
“In the beginning of holi chirche with candellys brennyng and wold Wake, and coome with light toward night to the chirche in their devocions; and after they fell to lecherie and songs, daunses, harping, piping, and also to glotony and sinne, and so tourned the holinesse to cursydnes: wherefore holy faders ordeined the pepull to leve that Waking, and to fast the Evyn. But hit is called Vigilia, that is Waking in English, and it is called the Evyn they were wont to come to chirche.”
To whatever consequences they may lead—to whatever licence our present wakes may give birth, it affords some degree of satisfaction to the serious and reflecting mind, that the abuse is no longer practised under the cloak and sanction of religion.185
The entrance to the town of Stratford across the meadow partakes neither of the beautiful or picturesque; the buildings are mean, and the adjoining scenery flat and uninteresting: but looking to the left, the eye is gratified with a pleasing view of the venerable church of Stratford rising on the margin of our gentle Avon. In the chancel are enshrined the sacred remains of our immortal bard, who in this town, as is well known, first drew breath, first received his truly inspired gift,
“The pomp and prodigality of heaven;”
and unless it must be allowed that a partial view has sometimes been opened to Milton, had to him alone that mysterious veil withdrawn by nature, who has since
“Curtain’d close such scenes from every future view.”
Though not with equal genius, we tread this fairy scene with equal reverence, and with as true devotion, as was breathed by the late Mr. Thomas Warton, in the following elegant and well imagined lines;
“Whom on the winding Avon’s willow’d banks
“Fair fancy found, and bore the smiling babe
“To a close cavern: (still the shepherds shew
“The sacred place, whence with religious awe
“They hear, returning from the field at eve,
“Strange whisp’ring of sweet music through the air.)
“Here, as with honey gather’d from the rock,
“She fed the little prattler, and with songs
“Oft sooth’d his wond’ring ears, with deep delight
“On her soft lap he sat, and caught the sounds.”
Upon entering the town of Stratford, a feeling, I trust, something more elevated than that of mere curiosity, naturally directs the steps of every admirer of our divine Poet towards that spot which gave birth to the most extraordinary genius this or any other 187 country has ever produced: of whom Ben Jonson, a rival wit and a contemporary, nobly says.
“Triumph, my Britain! thou hast one to shew,
“To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
“He was not of an age, but for all time;
“And all the Muses still were in their prime,
“When like Apollo he came forth to warm
“Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm.
“Nature herself was proud of his designs,
“And joy’d to wear the dressing of his lines.”
As it is avowedly the intention of this work to give pictorial representations of objects that may in any degree illustrate either the history or biography of our country, it must be with peculiar pleasure that we lay before the public the representation of any thing that is nearly connected with the life and history of our matchless Bard. As such we shall conduct them to the humble cottage in 188 which he first drew breath, on the 23d of April, 1564.
The annexed sketch of it was made in October, 1792.
Part of these premises, which belonged to Shakspeare, are still occupied by a descendant of Joan Harte, sister to our Poet, who 189 pursues the humble occupation of a butcher. His father, Thomas Harte, died about a year ago, at the age of sixty-seven. He informed me, that, when a boy, he well remembered having, with other boys, dressed themselves as Scaramouches (such was his phrase) in the wearing apparel of our Shakspeare.
The kitchen of this house has an appearance sufficiently interesting to command a place in this work, abstracted from its claim to notice as a relative to the Bard. It is a subject very similar to those that so frequently employed the rare talents of Ostade, and therefore cannot be deemed unworthy the pencil of an inferior artist. In the corner of the chimney stood an old oak chair, which had for a number of years received nearly as many adorers as the celebrated shrine of the Lady of Loretto. This relic was purchased in July, 1790, by the Princess Czartoryska, who made a Journey to this place, in order to obtain 190 intelligence relative to Shakspeare; and being told he had often sat in this chair, she placed herself in it, and expressed an ardent wish to become a purchaser; but being informed that it was not to be sold at any price, she left a handsome gratuity to old Mrs. Harte, and left the place with apparent regret. About four months after, the anxiety of the Princess could no longer be withheld, and her secretary was dispatched express, as the fit agent, to purchase this treasure at any rate; the sum of twenty guineas was the price fixed on, and the secretary, and chair, with a proper certificate of its authenticity on stamped paper, set off in a chaise for London.
Part of the premises adjoining is, and has been many years, occupied as a public house, known by the sign of the Swan and Maidenhead. Our Bard, it appears by the Register of Stratford, was the eldest son of 191 John Shakspeare, a considerable dealer in wool. Were his origin questionable, the above evidence, and corresponding tradition receives a degree of confirmation from a pane of glass, taken out of one of the windows of this house, about thirty years ago, by Mr. Peyton, who then kept the White Lion inn adjoining.
On this glass is painted the arms of the merchants of the wool staple; and I 192 have little doubt, from the style of its execution, but that it was painted at or before the time of John Shakspeare, the father. The pane of glass is about six inches in diameter, and very perfect. The preceding sketch is a faithful representation of the original in the possession of Mr. Peyton of Stratford, son of the before mentioned gentleman.
In a lower room of the public house, which is part of the premises wherein Shakspeare was born, is a curious antient ornament over the chimney, relieved in plaister, which, from the date 1606 that was originally marked on it, was probably put up at the time, and possibly by the poet himself: although a rude attempt at historic representation, I have yet thought it worth copying, as it has, I believe, passed unnoticed by the multitude of visitors that have been on this spot, or at least has never been made 193 public: and to me it was enough that it held a conspicuous place in the dwelling house of one who is himself the ornament and pride of the island he inhabited. In 1759, it was repaired and painted in a variety of colours by the old Mr. Thomas Harte before mentioned, who assured me the motto then round it had been in the old black letter, and dated 1606. The motto runs thus:
“ coms with sword and spear,
“And David with a sling;
“Although Golith rage and sweare,
“Down David doth him bring.”
These premises appear, by some long timbers still remaining across the building, to have included two houses adjoining; indeed it does not seem possible that there could have been sufficient space in one of these cottages to have reared a family of ten children, the number that John Shakspeare the father is said to have had, nor would it have been suited to a person of his situation in life, who, we are told by the register and public writings relative to the town of Stratford, was of a family of good figure and fashion there, and therein mentioned as gentlemen. It likewise appears that he had been a corporation officer and bailiff of Stratford, and that he enjoyed some hereditary lands and tenements, the reward of his great grandfather’s faithful and approved service to King Henry the Seventh. In the year 1599, John Shakspeare, in honour of his son, took out an extract of his family arms from the herald’s office. Still, how 195 respectable soever the family may have been, there remains little doubt but that these humble premises were in their occupation. As a corroborating proof of this fact, if any is necessary, I shall give the substance of a family settlement in my possession, dated August 14th, thirty-third of Elizabeth, 1591, which describes the house of John Shakspeare as situated in Henley Street. It is to this effect; “That George Badger, senior, of Stratford upon Avon, conveys to John and William Courte, yeomen, and their heirs, in trust, &c. a messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, in Stratford upon Avon, in a certain streete called Henley Streete, between the house of Robert Johnson on the one part, and the house of John Shakspeare on the other; and also two selions (i.e. ridges, or ground between furrows) of land lying between the land of Thomas Combe, Gent. on the one hand, and Thomas Raynolde, Gent. on the other.” 196 It is regularly executed, and livery of seisin on the 29th of the same month and year indorsed.
The Thomas Combe above mentioned was most probably the brother of the celebrated John. Thomas was buried, according to the Stratford register, January 22d, 1609-10. The land adjoining, occupied by him, came, I presume, at his death, to his brother John, and was most likely that spot called Shakspeare’s Close, bequeathed by him to his brother George, by his will dated 1614.
Our Shakspeare, we have every reason to believe, was educated at the free grammar-school which stands over the Guildhall at Stratford, and is introduced in the annexed view. Its external appearance, except that it has been whited and painted, remains nearly in its antient form. Within it is a 197 large unfurnished chamber, probably at that time the school room. The old chapel adjoining, erected in Henry the VII.’s reign, by Sir Hugh Clopton, who built Stratford bridge, likewise remains in its primitive state. To make, therefore, the representation of the contemporary scene, so far as it has reference to our Bard, entire, I have taken the liberty of giving a view of the house as it stood at the time he resided there, which he did from the period of his quitting London till his death. The view is copied from an old drawing of one Robert Treswell’s, made in 1599, by order of Sir George Carew, afterwards Baron Carew, of Clopton, and Earl of Totness. It was found in Clopton house in 1786, and was in the possession of the late Mrs. Patriche, who was the last of the antient family of the Cloptons. The drawing, I am informed, is since lost or destroyed. The site on which the house stood is now a garden, in the possession of Thomas 198 Hunt, Esq. A wall is standing next the street, which ascertains the exact width and situation of the front of the house. By the appearance of the drawing, the house was of brick, with stone coins. It was built by Sir Hugh Clopton, a younger brother of the antient family of that name, who built the bridge at the entrance of the town. He particularly bequeaths it, by will, to his nephew, by the appellation of his Great House in Stratford. It had been alienated from the family of the Cloptons for more than a century when Shakspeare purchased it; and this was, in all probability, about four or five years before his death, according to the opinion of Theobald and Rowe. When Shakspeare had made a purchase of these premises, he thoroughly repaired them, and gave them the name of New Place. Soon afterwards, in 1614, two years before his death, the greater part of the town of Stratford was destroyed by fire, but 199 this house fortunately escaped the conflagration.
On the death of Shakspeare, in 1616, this house continued in the possession of his wife, who died in 1623, and then became the property of his favourite daughter, Susannah, the wife of John Hall, a physician of some eminence in the county. He died in 1635, and she in 1649, at the age of sixty-six: it was, therefore, during the time in which she was the owner of New Place, that Henrietta Maria, Queen to Charles the First, kept her court here for three weeks. This event took place in 1643, the year in which the first serious, though indecisive appeal to arms was by her ill-fated husband made at Edge Hill in this county. The Queen entered Stratford upon Avon in triumph, about the 22d of June, at the head of three thousand foot, and fifteen hundred horse, with a considerable train of artillery. She accompanied 200 these troops from Newark, which place they left on the 16th of June. The Queen was met at Stratford by Prince Rupert, who had also with him a large body of troops. From Stratford the Queen proceeded to the plain of Keinton, under Edge Hill, to meet the King, and from thence, after the battle, they went to Oxford, at which place it is said their
“Coming was rather to a triumph than a war.”
After the death of Mrs. Hall in 1649, I am informed the premises were occupied by their daughter Elizabeth, who was first married to Thomas Nash, Esq. and afterwards to Sir John Bernard of Abbington. After the death of Lady Bernard, it was sold under her will to her cousin, Edward Nash, from whom it devolved, in 1678, to Reginald Foster, Esq. afterward Sir Reginald Foster. Of this gentleman it was re-purchased by 201 the Clopton family, who soon after pulled down the house, and built another on the spot. The new one was occupied by a Sir Hugh Clopton, a barrister at law, who was knighted by King George the First. In the year 1742, this gentleman entertained Mr. Garrick, Mr. Macklin, and Mr. Delane, under Shakspeare’s Mulberry Tree, then standing in the garden. The truth of the tradition that this tree was planted by our Bard, seems to admit of little doubt. In support of the fact, it appears that, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, this species of fruit tree being very scarce in England, King James the First ordered a considerable number of young ones to be imported from France, and to be planted in different parts of the country, in order to increase the quantity of silk worms, and to aid the manufactory of silks. This celebrated Mulberry Tree was cut down about fifty years ago, by one Gastrell, who then 202 possessed the premises, and who committed this sacrilegious act merely to avoid the trouble of answering the earnest importunities of the frequent traveller, whose zeal might prompt him to hope that he might meet inspiration under its shade, and who could with confidence tell the proudest admirers of the most rapturous strains that ever echoed in the enchanted groves of the highly cultivated regions of Greece and Rome,
“Ne quis sit lucus, quo se plus jactet Apollo.”
By the same irreverend hand was the house pulled down, about the year 1752, and for no other or better reason than a difference with the magistrates because they had assessed his house at Stratford, in which he resided only a part of the year, proportionably with all others in the borough: as the only means of defeating the effect of a determination every 203 way reasonable and just, in a selfish and unfeeling spleen he rased the building to the ground.
The antient building opposite to New Place as described in the annexed plate, is a public house, known by the sign of the Falcon, and is evidently in the same state it was, in Shakspeare’s time. It is built of upright oak timbers with plaister, and has all those Gothic ornaments that denote it of still more antient date than the period above alluded to. The sign, in all probability, was first set up as a compliment to Shakspeare, whose crest of cognisance, according to the instrument in the College of Heralds, was a Falcon with his wings displayed, standing on a wreath of his colours supporting a spear armed headed or steeled silver. Julius Shaw was the name of the person who then kept the house, and who was a subscribing witness to our Poet’s will. 204 Shaw was by trade a carpenter and undertaker, and is supposed, with some degree of probability, the person who buried him. Shakspeare is said to have passed much time in this house, and to have had a strong partiality for the landlord, as well as for his liquor.
Upon the demolition of New Place above mentioned, all the furniture and papers were removed to the antient mansion of the Clopton family, about one mile distant from Stratford. Amongst those papers I have long imagined that it was very possible some manuscripts of our Shakspeare might have been conveyed. Prompted by a faint hope of this sort, as well as by curiosity, I last summer visited this spot, but without the desired success. Of this venerable house, with the church of Stratford in the distance, I have annexed a faithful sketch. It presents 205 an irregular front, built in the time of Henry the Seventh, the grand aspect has been modernized, and is in so indifferent a style as to be unworthy notice.
In Clopton house are a few antient pictures and curious old furniture; amongst the latter is a bed, given to Sir Hugh Clopton, who built the mansion, by Henry the Seventh, and in which he is said to have frequently slept. The furniture of this bed is of fine cloth of a darkish brown, with a rich fringe of silk about six inches deep. This remain of antiquity is in good preservation, and is annexed to the estate as an heir loom. The garret, or attic story of this house, was formerly used as a chapel, and on its walls yet remain several scriptural inscriptions in black letter, and paintings on religious subjects, that appear as antient as the house. Amongst other hieroglyphic figures, 206 is a large fish rudely designed, with a hand at a distance dragging it forward with a string. As a specimen of the poetry written on the walls, take the following:
“Whether you rise yearlye or goe to bed late,
“Remember Christ Jesus that died for your sake.”
From this place I shall conduct the reader to the village of Shottery, about a mile from Stratford, from whence, as report says, our Bard, at about the age of seventeen, took to himself a wife aged twenty-four, named Anna Hatheraway, or Hathaway. The cottage in which she is said to have lived with her parents is yet standing, and although I have doubts as to the truth of the relation, I have yet given a faithful representation of it in the annexed view. It is still occupied by the descendants of her family, who are poor and numerous. To this same humble cottage I was referred 207 when pursuing the same inquiry, by the late Mr. Harte, of Stratford, before mentioned. He told me there was an old oak chair, that had always in his remembrance been called Shakspeare’s courting chair, with a purse 208 that had been likewise his, and handed down from him to his grand-daughter Lady Barnard, and from her through the Hathaway family to those of the present day. From the best information I was able to collect at the time, I was induced to consider this account as authentic, and from a wish to obtain the smallest trifle appertaining to our Shakspeare, I became a purchaser of these relics. Of the chair I have here given a sketch: it is of a date sufficiently antient to justify the credibility of its history; and as to farther proof, it must rest on the traditional opinion and the character of this poor family. The purse is about four inches square, and is curiously wrought with small black and white bugles and beads; the tassels are of the same materials. The bed and other furniture in the room where the chair stood, have the appearance of so high antiquity, as to leave no doubt but that they might all have been the furniture of 209 this house long before the time of Shakspeare.
The proprietor of this furniture, an old woman upwards of seventy, had slept in the bed from her childhood, and was always told it had been there ever since the house was built. Her absolute refusal to part with this bed at any price was one of the circumstances which led to a persuasion that I had not listened with too easy credulity to the tale she told me respecting the articles I had purchased. By the same person I was informed, that at the time of the Jubilee, the late George Garrick obtained from her a small inkstand, and a pair of fringed gloves, said to have been worn by Shakspeare.
Returning to Stratford we shall contemplate the venerable pile that received the remains of our immortal Poet,210
“Whose sacred dust yon high arch’d aisles inclose,
“Where the tall windows rise in stately rows
“Above th’ embowering shade.”
Part of this respectable Gothic structure is said to have been built soon after the Conquest. The chantery was founded by John de Stratford, Bishop of Winchester, in the fifth of Edward the Third. The church was made collegiate by Henry the Sixth, under the name of the collegiate church of Stratford upon Avon. Its revenue was valued, at the Dissolution, at one hundred and twenty-nine pounds a year. On the north side of the chancel of this church is affixed the monument of Shakspeare, the view of which is faithfully represented in the annexed sketch. The figure of the bard, in stone, is beneath a circular arch: he holds a pen in his right hand, and his left is resting on a scroll of paper which lies on a cushion before him. This bust, though rudely 211 sculptured, is yet, I have little doubt, a resemblance of the man. Some likeness may certainly be traced between this and the print prefixed to the first folio copy; and for the authenticity of this point, we have Ben Jonson’s testimony.
In the countenance of the late Mr. Thomas Harte, the descendant of Shakspeare’s sister before mentioned, I always perceived a strong similitude to the markings of this figure. The monument has lately undergone a very judicious alteration, that of restoring it to its natural stone colour, and removing the various daubings by which it was defaced in attempting to give to the figure the representation of nature. Beneath the figure is the following distich:
“Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
“Terra tegit, populus mœret, Olympus habet.”
To this Latin inscription are added the following verses:212
“Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast?
“Read, if thou canst, whom envious death hath plac’d
“Within this monument; Shakspeare, with whom
“Quick nature dy’d, whose name doth deck the tomb
“Far more than cost; since all that he hath writ,
“Leaves living art but page to serve his wit.”
Over the grave, at the foot of this effigies, is placed a flat stone with another epitaph engraved, in the following uncouth manner, in small and capital letters:
“Good Frend for Iesus SAKE forbeare
“To diGG T-E Dust EncloAsed HERe
“Blese be T-E Man YT spares T-Es Stones
“And curst be He YT moves my Bones.”
The Gothic door-way adjoining to this grave, and which appears in the print, opens to the charnel house, which contains the greatest assemblage of human bones I ever saw. This solemn scene was peculiarly calculated to make a forcible impression upon 213 such a mind as that of Shakspeare’s, and may probably have given birth to that striking exclamation, at which, however just the image, and beautiful the composition, humanity almost recoils, and the soul thrills with horror.
“Chain me with roaring bears;
“Or shut me nightly in a Charnel house,
“O’er cover’d quite with dead mens rattling bones,
“With reaky shanks, and yellow chapless sculls,
“Things that to hear them told have made me tremble.”
On a grave-stone adjoining to Shakspeare’s was formerly, according to Dugdale, the following inscription on Susannah, his favourite daughter, who married Dr. Hall. From the character given of her in her epitaph, she seems to have inherited no inconsiderable portion of her father’s talent. It is penned with much quaintness, and is a curious, and at the same time by no means a contemptible 214 specimen of the character of the writings, and of the genius of the times. In nothing did the age of James improve upon Elizabeth: on the contrary, under him learning degenerated into pedantry, and simplicity fell a sacrifice to puerile conceit.
“Witty above her sexe, but that’s not all,
“Wise to salvation was good Mistris Hall,
“Something of Shakspeare was in that, but this
“Wholy of him with whom she’s now in blisse,
“Then passenger ha’st ne’er a teare,
“To weep with her that wept with all;
“That wept yet set herselfe to chere
“Them up with comforts cordiall.
“Her love shall live her mercy spread,
“When thou ha’st ne’re a teare to shed.”
Several other relatives of Shakspeare’s are interred in this vault; and very near his monument is that of John Combe, Esq. an intimate acquaintance of our Bard. A well sculptured figure in alabaster of this gentleman, 215 in a cumbent position, is placed beneath an arch over his grave; from which, as I do not remember to have seen a print I have made the annexed sketch. The inscription on his monument runs thus:
“Here lyeth interred the body of John Combe, Esq. who departing this life the tenth day of July, A.D. 1614, bequeathed by his last will and testament to pious charitable uses these summes ensuing, annually to be paid for ever, viz. xxs. for two sermons to be preach’t in this church, vi. il, iiis, ivd, to buy ten gownes for ten poore people within the borough of Stratford; and one hundred pounds to be lent to xx. poore tradesmen of the same borough from three years to three years, changing the parties every third year at the rate of 50s. per annum; the which increase he appointed to be distributed towards 216 the reliefe of the almes-poor there. More he gave to the poore of Stratford xxl.
“Virtus post funera vivit.”
For the erection of this monument, he directs in his will that “a convenient tomb of the value of threescore pounds shall be by my executors within one year set over me.” This gentleman is said to have been famed for his wealth and usury, and from a well known story, told by Mr. Rowe, one is led to believe that Shakspeare, at the request of his friend John Combe, made the following extempore lines on him by way of epitaph:
“Ten in the hundred lies here ingrav’d,
“’Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not sav’d;
“If any man ask, who lies in this tomb,
“Oh! oh! quoth the devil, ’tis my John-a-Combe.”
We shall quote some other fustian lines on a similar subject, imputed to our Bard, and perhaps on still more slender authority, on one Tom a Combe, alias Thin-beard, brother to John, the gentleman before alluded to.
“Thin in beard, and thick in purse;
“Never man beloved worse;
“He went to the grave with many a curse:
“The devil and he had both one nurse.”
The lines on John Combe are said to have been written after Shakspeare’s retirement to Stratford, which must have been, according to Mr. Rowe, within one year of John’s death: he died, at an advanced age, in 1614.
We find from the will of John Combe, that he “bequeathed unto Master William Shakespeare five pounds.” The witty lines 218 written for his epitaph, were so bitter and pointed, that they would hardly have been by any one communicated to the object of their satire. King James is said to have expressed an anxious wish that he might survive the author of a satirical epitaph upon his minister Salisbury; and it seems not at all improbable that John, whose advanced years would not admit the hope of surviving Shakspeare, and who must know how far he was himself open to attack, might discreetly endeavour to conciliate him, by yielding a very small part of that, which he could not carry with him, as a peace offering, to secure the quiet and repose of his grave.
As it is our professed intention to remark on works of art in the present undertaking, we cannot pass the Town Hall without noticing the portrait of our late Roscius, David Garrick, who is there exhibited at full 219 length, in a picture copied from an original of the late ingenious Mr. Gainsborough. This picture exhibits a tolerably good likeness; yet as it could have no claim to a reception in this place, except from the faithful and eloquent manner in which he whom it represents reflected the various scenes of nature and workings of passion drawn by the pen of our mighty master of the drama, he ought not in our opinion to have been painted in the fashionable dress of the day. Being admitted as a public character, and a very distinguished one he certainly was; he ought to have had an habit appropriate. The blue coat and long skirted scarlet waistcoat, belaced with gold, gives rather the idea of a half-pay naval officer, than that of the idol of the public—of a genius, the magic of whose powers held throughout his life the passions of a nation under their controul—whose smile enlivened, and whose frown appalled and petrified. The portrait of Shakspeare, 220 at the other end of the hall, is by the late Benjamin Wilson, and was painted in 1769. The attitude of the figure is well conceived, but wants sufficient animation in the colouring to produce effect; the face in particular is so much under shadow, that, if the features as truly indicate the powers, as they are said to do the passions, of the mind, the countenance is so far clouded as by no means to give the idea of that fire and spirit which one must suppose would be visibly emanating from the soul of its divine original. Without any model upon which to rest, it is perhaps imposing a heavy task upon the imagination to body forth the form of excellence; and though the picture has in many respects much merit, we cannot resist the temptation of applying our great author’s own words, as they accord so much with our own feelings on this occasion:221
“If any such be here
“That love this painting wherein you see me smear’d,
“Let him express his disposition.”
I cannot quit Stratford without adverting to the celebrated Jubilee held here in honour of Shakspeare, in September, 1769, under the conduct of the late Mr. Garrick. The annexed view of the grand Amphitheatre was presented to me by a friend, who was on the spot at the celebration of this classic . The procession of the characters in Shakspeare has been since added nearly as they were intended to have appeared, had the weather permitted. As I do not remember to have seen a correct view of this scene in print, it may not prove unpleasant to the admirers of our Bard.
The Amphitheatre was an elegant octagon structure, erected at a small distance from the bank of the Avon, in the meadow 222 adjoining to Stratford bridge, as described in the view at the opening of this section. It was, in point of size, not quite so large as Ranelagh, supported by a colonade of the Corinthian order, about ten feet distant from the sides of the building. In the centre was, suspended from the roof, a large chandelier, consisting of eight hundred lights. The building was handsomely decorated with paintings appropriated to the occasion, and between the pillars were crimson curtains elegantly disposed. This festivity was intended to be complete in three days. On the first, the company attended at the church, where the oratorio of Judith was performed under the conduct of Dr. Arne, its composer; after which the procession, with a band of music, led on by Mr. Garrick, proceeded to the hall, where the company dined and closed the evening with a masquerade ball. On the second day the grand procession of the principal characters in Shakspeare’s plays was omitted, from the 223 excessive rain, little short of a deluge, that poured down all the morning. The sketch annexed is therefore to be considered rather as what was intended, than what was really exhibited.—It is not our design to go into a more particular description of the history of this Jubilee, nor to speak to the merits of the performance, the subject is yet too recent in the minds of many who were present. We shall therefore only hint at the pictorial representations exhibited on that occasion.
Fronting the building, on the bank of the Avon, were three well executed allegorical paintings, after the designs of the late Sir Joshua Reynolds. In the centre, Time was leading Shakspeare to Immortality, and on each side a figure of Tragedy, and Comedy: behind these figures were placed a great number of lamps, which produced, from their transparency, a beautiful effect. In the five 224 windows of the Town Hall were likewise transparent paintings, on silk, of Lear, Falstaff, Pistol, Caliban, and the Genius of Shakspeare, who is seizing on a figure that holds Pegasus, and who is in the attitude of exclaiming,
“Oh! for a Muse of fire!”
Nor was the humble dwelling, where our Swan of Avon first drew breath, left undecorated on this occasion: a transparent painting was hung before the windows of the room in which he was born, representing the Sun breaking through a Cloud. His bust in the church was decorated with festoons of laurel, bays, &c. and at one end of the grave-stone some pious hand had placed a garland of flowers, evergreens, &c.
Such was the enthusiasm of the visitors at this voluntary national tribute of homage 225 to our Immortal Bard; and such will ever be the extatic veneration with which every inhabitant of the globe to whom the English language is known, must contemplate this divine genius,
“Who (taught by none) did first impart
“To Fletcher wit, to labouring Jonson art:
“He, monarch-like, gave those his subjects law,
“And is that nature which they paint and draw.
“Fletcher reach’d that, which on his heights did grow,
“Whilst Jonson crept, and gather’d all below.
“This did his love, and this his mirth digest:
“One imitates him most, the other best.
“If they have since outwrit all other men,
“’Tis with the drops that fell from Shakspeare’s pen.”
at the western extremity of it has an extensive causey
[The Oxford English Dictionary assures me this is an attested alternative to “causeway”.]
all merchandize, except the produce of the harvest that was exhibited for sale on Sundays or holidays, was forfeited to the lord of the liberty
[A fine example of what a difference a comma makes. I’m tolerably sure this is intended to mean “all merchandize—except the produce of the harvest—that was exhibited for sale on Sundays or holidays”.]
“In the beginning of holi chirche with candellys brennyng and wold Wake . . . . it is called the Evyn they were wont to come to chirche
[It reads like gibberish because Ireland was in too great a hurry. Dugdale really said
“In the beginning of holi chirche, it was so that the pepull cam to the chirche with candellys brennyng and wold Wake”
and, a bit later,
“it is called the Evyn, for at Evyn they were wont to come to chirche”.]
Golith coms with sword and spear
[Printed as shown, though it would scan better if it said “Goliath” (three syllables) both times.]
By the same irreverend hand was the house pulled down, about the year 1752
[The story is mentioned in Chapter I of Richard Le Gallienne’s Travels in England (1900), implying that it was then well known. The desecration probably happened in 1759. Ireland’s “about 1752” is definitely off by several years, since Gastrell didn’t buy the house until 1753.]
a public house, known by the sign of the Falcon
[The sign on the other side of the street from “Shakspere’s House, New Place, Chapel, & Grammar School” can, if you squint, be read as a falcon. Or, at least, a bird of some kind, though definitely not with “wings displayed”.]
a spear armed headed or steeled silver
[I think he means or, gold, but then why does he say “silver” instead of argent?]
The church was made collegiate by Henry the Sixth
[A collegiate church is one that has an endowed chapter of canons, as opposed to an individual parish priest.]
Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem
[To get it to scan you have to make the first syllable of “Socratem” short, as if his name were Σοκρατης rather than Σωκρατης.]
Good Frend for Iesus SAKE forbeare
vi. il, iiis, ivd, to buy ten gownes for ten poore people
[I see the three shillings and fourpence, but how many pounds is that?]
one hundred pounds to be lent to xx. poore tradesmen . . . at the rate of 50s. per annum
[I make it 50 percent interest (100/20 = 5 pounds or 100 shillings per poor tradesman), which certainly explains the following page’s “famed for his wealth and usury”. Or does it mean 50s. on the entire sum, for a much more moderate 2½ percent?]
the celebration of this classic féte
ABOUT a mile below Stratford, near Luddington, is the confluence of the river Stour with our Avon. From hence, on the south, we pass Milcot, antiently the seat of the Grevils. Of this mansion, except part of a moat which surrounds a farm house now standing on the site, scarce any traces remain. Below this is the village of Weston, in Gloucestershire, in whose church are interred many of the Grevil family. This place, together with the adjoining village of Welford, now belongs to the Duke of Dorset. The lock, adjacent mill, and contiguous scenery, afford no unpleasing landscape.
From hence, toward Bidford, about six miles, the Avon runs nearly in a direct line, without any material object to engage attention, 228 till we reach Hillborough. Within this village stands a very antient house, on a pleasing ascent from the bank of the Avon, known by the appellation of Haunted Hillborough. It is now a farm house, and why it bears the epithet of haunted, we cannot learn; but as we shall shortly have occasion to refer to it, it is here mentioned. A little below this place is Bidford grange, a very antient house, formerly belonging to the monastery of Evesham, from whence it passed into the antient family of the Skipwiths, and is now the property of Lady Skipwith.
The country round about this charming spot, the mill house, and spacious water fall adjoining, on the bank of the Avon, form a scene truly picturesque, and of which the preceding view is a faithful representation.
This neighbourhood, so contiguous to Stratford, and so inviting in itself, was much 229 frequented by Shakspeare; and this spot may not improbably have laid the scene as well as exhibited the picture of those rustic manners, a copy of which forms the simple pastoral trio between Autolycus, Mopsa, and Dorcas, in the Winter’s Tale, when Mopsa says,
“Or thou go’st to the grange, or mill,
“Dorcas. If to either thou dost ill,
“Aut. Neither. D. What, Neither? A. Neither.
“Dor. Thou hast sworn my love to be;
“Mop. Thou hast sworn it more to me:
“Then whither go’st? say whither?”
Bidford was formerly a market town, but the market is now in disuse. It was antiently a demesne of the crown, possessed by King Edward the Confessor, and retained by William the Conqueror. Bidford has little at present attached to its history worth observation; the only circumstance that now gives it notoriety, is its excellent ale, and the equally notorious thirsty clay of its inhabitants. It is said there were antiently two societies of village yeomanry in this 230 place, who frequently met under the appellation of Bidford Topers. It was a custom with these heroes to challenge any of their neighbours, famed for the love of good ale, to a drunken combat: among others the people of Stratford were called out to a trial of strength, and in the number of their champions, as the traditional story runs, our Shakspeare, who forswore all thin potations, and addicted himself to ale as lustily as Falstaff to his sack, is said to have entered the lists. In confirmation of this tradition we find an epigram written by Sir Aston Cockayn, and published in his poems in 1658, p. 124: it runs thus;
“Shakspeare, your Wincot ale hath much renown’d,
“That fox’d a beggar so (by chance was found
“Sleeping) that there needed not many a word
“To make him to believe he was a lord:
“But you affirm (and in it seems most eager)
“’T will make a lord as drunk as any beggar.231
“Bid Norton brew such ale as Shakspeare fancies
“Did put Kit Sly into such lordly trances:
“And let us meet there (for a fit of gladness)
“And drink ourselves merry in sober sadness.”
When the Stratford lads went over to Bidford, they found the topers were gone to Evesham fair; but were told, if they wished to try their strength with the sippers, they were ready for the contest. This being acceded to, our Bard and his companions were staggered at the first onset, when they thought it adviseable to sound a retreat while the means of retreating were practicable; and then had scarce marched half a mile, before they were all forced to lay down more than their arms, and encamp in a very disorderly and unmilitary form, under no better covering than a large crab tree; and there they rested till morning.
This tree is yet standing by the side of the road. If, as it has been observed by the 232 late Mr. T. Warton, “The meanest hovel to which Shakespeare has an allusion interests curiosity, and acquires an importance,” surely the tree that has spread its shade over him, and sheltered him from the dews of the night, has a claim to our attention.
In the morning when the company awakened our Bard, the story says they intreated 233 him to return to Bidford and renew the charge; but this he declined, and looking round upon the adjoining villages, exclaimed, “No! I have had enough; I have drank with
“Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston,
“Haunted Hungry Grafton,
“Dudging Exhall, Papist Wicksford,
“Beggarly Broom, and Drunken Bidford.”
Of the truth of this story I have very little doubt: it is certain that the Crab Tree is known all round the country by the name of Shakspeare’s Crab; and that the villages to which the allusion is made, all bear the epithets here given them: the people of Pebworth are still famed for their skill on the pipe and tabor: Hillborough is now called Haunted Hillborough; and Grafton is notorious for the poverty of its soil.
On the south side of the Avon, opposite to Bidford, lies the pleasant village of Barton, 234 which is a hamlet belonging to the parish of Bidford. From the similarity of the name, and the consideration that no such place as Burton Heath has been by any enquiry of mine discovered in this neighbourhood, I am led to conceive that Barton Heath, which lies in this county, and is about eighteen miles from Stratford, must have been the spot to which Shakspeare refers in the first act of the Taming of the Shrew, where Sly says “Am not I Christopher Sly, old Sly’s son of Burton Heath? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if she know me not. If she say I am not fourteen pence on the score for sheer ale, score me up for the lying’st knave in Christendom.” I am not only fortified in this conjecture, but emboldened to make another, by the further consideration, that on Barton Heath there is a house yet standing formerly a public house, called Woncott or Onecott. Nothing is more common than to vary the mode of spelling the names of towns and of families in different 235 periods. The above were doubtless places with which Shakspeare was very familiar. It is worth hazarding a conjecture to have even the chance of tracing him in any one of his haunts. Right or wrong in that, which we have hazarded (and in this age what has not conjectural criticism dared?) we have at least the satisfaction of knowing, that no arbitrary departure from precedent and the only existing authorities could disturb the sense, or even tend to falsify the character of the writings of this great master. But substitutions of another sort do not only afford a shelter to ignorance and indolence; they rob the age of the testimony it gives of itself, they pollute the sources from which only the scholar can draw his materials to deduce the history of his native tongue, and deprive posterity of the means of ascertaining the characteristic features of the style of our great authors. Such must be the consequences of the wretched systems of some modern critics of at least no small pretensions; and such 236 and no less are the sacrifices, they expect to be made to their petty studies and frivolous acquirements.
About a mile below Bidford, on the southern bank of the Avon, stands the village of Cleve, or Cliff, otherwise Cliff Priors. This place derives its name from a range of cliffs in its vicinity; and near to this spot we enter Worcestershire.
Beneath these cliffs the Avon winds beautifully in a very spacious but shallow course: its bed is rocky, but perfectly level, and not more than four feet deep. Cleve mill, and lock, form a very picturesque scene; but the elevated rocky back ground renders the whole too confined to become a fit subject for the pencil.
Winding round the cliff, the church of Salford breaks pleasingly on the view: here the Avon is joined by the river Arrewe, or 237 Arrow, probably so called from the swiftness of its current. This river derives its source from the Licky Hill, near Bromsgrove, in Worcestershire, and, passing the town of Alcester, gives the name of Arrow to a village in its neighbourhood, near which the Marquis of Yarmouth has a handsome seat called Ragley. “Salford,” says Dugdale, “had its name originally from a salt spring that hath been there, as the inhabitants doo observe, from the accesse of pigeons to the place where it was, which is now choaked up.” At this place was formerly a seat belonging to Sir Simon Clark, Bart. a name that should not be forgotten in this country, as it is to him we owe much of that information handed down to us by Dugdale. Of a descendant of this gentleman we give the following anecdote as we received it:—About seventy years ago, a Sir Simon Clark, being a very young man, agreed with his comrades to commit a robbery, and actually did so. It was no Godshill adventure: the 238 booty they met with amounted only to a few shillings, with which they immediately went to a public house, and being there apprehended, confessed the fact without reserve. They were all convicted, and Sir Simon was condemned to be transported; and being sent to one of the West India islands, remained there many years, and till his death, having, in the interval of that event and the period at which he regained his liberty, acquired a very considerable fortune.
About two miles below Salford is Harvington Lock, and Weir, which has been repaired with some of the fragments, and it is said, even the statues from Evesham abbey. However, at the time they were inshrined this application might have been considered, though it would then have been a profane and sacrilegious abuse, we know that a Saint, who has been long thrown from his niche, and a King, as Mr. Burke says and knows, so soon as he is “hurled from his 239 throne,” command no very great degree of respect: when they can bestow blessings and pensions, no doubt they will be in better odour, whether the character of the age is that of chivalry or the most opposite. And, weighing in our minds the miserable uncertainty and strange vicissitudes of every thing sublunary, what is there of mortal origin so high and so sacred, that may not in afflux of time be converted to the basest uses? as our Shakspeare, speaking of Julius Cæsar, and he could have named no greater character, warns us;
“That earth, which kept the world in awe,
“May stop a hole t’expel the winter’s flaw.”
The scenery near Harvington is bounded on the south by a range of hills, which derive their name from the adjacent village of Littleton. Behind this village the Breedon hills form a beautiful undulating line, which, receding in due gradation, happily unites 240 itself with the aerial distance. Below Harvington is the village of Offenham, which takes its name from Offa, King of the East Angles, who, with Kenred, King of the Mercians, gave to the abbey of Evesham seven Mansæ in this place. These sovereigns died monks at Rome. The remains of an extensive wall and battlements appear, from the bank of the Avon, to have formed the boundary of this place.
Offenham was formerly the favourite retirement of the Abbots of Evesham; but of the nature of their luxuries at this place, we find no vestiges. After the Dissolution it came to Sir Edward Hoby, in the twenty-third of Elizabeth, and then to the Hazelwoods. The college of Christchurch, Oxford, now presents to the curacy.
A little below this village, it is said, there was antiently a bridge; the spot retains the name, but no traces of it appear. 241 A little below this place, a small brook, called the Fork, empties itself into the Avon. This stream rises upon one of the Cotswold hills, called Weston; and passing through Honeybourne and Bradfordston, finishes its course at this place. At the extremity of this reach of the river, Bengworth church, Dumbleton hills, &c. form a beautiful diversity of objects, considered as the back ground for a picture.
Nearly on a line with what is called Offenham bridge, to the north of the village, stands a large rude stone, almost overgrown with ivy: its base is an oblong one foot nine inches by one foot two, rather diminishing towards the top; it has no traces of inscription or ornament, nor is there any marking of a chissel: it yet appears to have been placed there for some particular purpose; it stands between two hills, at about one hundred yards distant from the bank of the river, 242 and on the north-west side of the field whereon the famous battle of Evesham was fought between the Barons and the King’s forces in the reign of Henry the Third.
About a mile before we reach Evesham, the Avon receives the waters from Willersey, Broadway, and the adjacent hills, which running by Wickhamford, unite below Badsey, and under the name of Pludor Brook, falls into our river.243
Here, as so often, the printer and the engraver parted ways. Both Plates are captioned “Bitford”, while the text and the map spell it “Bidford”.
two societies of village yeomanry in this place, who frequently met under the appellation of Bidford Topers
[A quarter-century later, Washington Irving paraphrased this passage in a long footnote to the Stratford-on-Avon chapter of The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon.]
Haunted Hillbro’, Hungry Grafton,
comma after Hillbro’ missing
THE approach to Evesham presents an assemblage of objects happily combined for pictorial representation, although the most venerable remains of this antient place are concealed in the general view. The fertile vale of Evesham, besides its contiguity to our river, holds out so many invitations, and is a spot so peculiarly eligible to every class and description of men, who make it the study and business of their lives to bask in sunshine, indolence and plenty, that it is no wonder we should find hoods and cowls swarming and battening in this delicious and fruitful vale. Previous to the foundation of the abbey, Evesham was admired for its solitude. Upon this principle, no doubt, and that he 244 might there undisturbed hold commerce with the skies, Egwin, the third Bishop of Worcester, applied to Ethelward, King of Mercia, for a grant of some wood lands in the neighbourhood, and obtained them. Monkish writers tell us the name of this place was derived from one Eoves, a swineherd to the Bishop, who, looking after a sow, which had strayed among the thickets, met the Virgin Mary in company with two other beautiful Virgins, each holding a pretty book and chaunting hymns. The report of this vision coming to the ears of the Bishop, zeal more than curiosity led him to the spot; when, as he began his orisons, he was indulged with the beatific vision, and was thereby encouraged to fulfil a vow he had formerly made to erect a church. For this pious purpose he obtained a grant from Kenred, King of Mercia, and Offa, son to the King of the East Angles, of sixty-seven 245 manses of land, situated on the banks of the Avon. The King, the Prince and the Bishop soon after made a journey to the Pope Constantine, from whom they found no difficulty in obtaining a letter to summon to the spot where the beautiful virgins had so miraculously appeared, the Bishops, Sovereigns, and Nobles, from all parts of England, and declare before them, that Egwin had authority from the apostolic see, for founding there a monastery of Benedictines. Established with so much ceremony, and on this pious fraud the Abbey rapidly increased in wealth. The imagination of its holy founder, with some one or other of these delicious images that had hovered round him as he knelt in the field, caused the good Egwin to grow restless in any other place, to resign his see, and to become the first Abbot of his own foundation. Through his powerful and active patronage, we find it in the year 714 endowed with no less than twenty-two towns.246
Other accounts say, that the founder went to Rome, on account of the sins of his youth; that his legs were chained and fastened with an horse-lock, the key of which he had thrown into the sea; declaring that he would not be released till God by a miracle had declared the forgiveness of his sins; this story proceeds to state, that as he was returning to the English shore, a fish jumped into the boat, and that in its belly was found the key: others say he bought the fish at Rome, which, as it is making a fish a missionary, is no small improvement of the miracle. In confirmation of this wonderful story, the arms of the abbey are, according to Bishop Tanner’s plate of Abbatial Seals, a horse-lock, or chain, which forms a chevron between three mitres. Another seal alludes to the adventure of the swineherd Eoves, who is represented in its centre surrounded by his herd. We shall here quit the absurd history of this once extensive 247 foundation, and refer to its venerable ruins; which, dismissing from our minds that indignation which is so apt to rise at the many juggles and deceptions originally employed in too many of these establishments, cannot fail in their present state to interest the lover of antiquity, who may perhaps concur with the moralist in thinking, that these things produce a much better effect in decay and ruins, than in their pristine and most flourishing condition. In passing to these remains, the town of Evesham rises by an easy ascent from the bank of the Avon; which forms the peninsula on which it is situated. The town is healthy, and its soil celebrated for its fertility. The vale of Evesham, which takes its name from the town, Camden observes “is from its fruitfulness styled the granary of these parts; so liberal is the soil in affording the best corn in great abundance.”248
This place is famed in history for the battle fought between the Barons and the royal forces in the reign of Henry the Third, in which the former, under the command of the Earl of Leicester, who married the King’s sister, took prisoner the King, and his brother Richard, King of the Romans, and their two sons. The fatal cause of the battle, was the harsh reply received by the Barons from the King on their presenting petitions for the redress of their grievances; and this induced them to shake off their allegiance.
After the victory, the principal leaders having quarrelled among themselves, an army was formed under the command of Prince Edward, who made his escape from Hereford castle, and invested Evesham in August, 1265. He surrounded the Earl of Leicester’s army, and forced him to battle in a large field about a mile to the north of the town. In this battle the Earl placed the captive King in the 249 front, in a suit of armour resembling his own: in which situation he was wounded in the shoulder, and would have been killed, had he not found means in time to discover himself to the soldiers. Leicester placed his barber on the abbey tower, as a spy, who, as soon as he saw the great strength of the Prince’s army, cried out in despair, “Lord have mercy on our souls, for our bodies are theirs.”—This battle terminated in the death of the Earl, and his eldest son Henry: the father fought on foot after his horse was killed, and was cut to pieces. The defeat of the Barons was immediately followed with the loss of the prime of the nobility, one hundred and sixty knights, many gentlemen, and about four thousand soldiers.
The bodies of the Earl and his son were buried in the abbey church before the altar, and the King is said to have assisted at their funeral.250
Evesham was taken in May, 1644, by Massey, and in July, Charles the First refreshed his soldiers here, and sent from hence proposals for peace to the Parliament at Westminster. In 1697, Evesham gave the title of Baron to Sir John Somers, Lord Chancellor of England, who was esteemed one of the ablest statesmen of his time.
Quitting Evesham a little below the bridge, the venerable remains of its once extensive and magnificent abbey, with the churches of All Saints and St. Laurence, present themselves in a very beautiful and picturesque point of view. The churches, although they appear connected in the annexed drawing, are separate and distinct buildings. The Abbot’s tower is said by Leland to have been built by Clement Litchfield, the last Abbot but one; and in his Itinerary he quaintly remarks, that “He made a right sumptuous and high square 251 towre of stone in the cemetary of Evesham. This towre had a great bell in it, and a goodly clocke, and was a gate house to one piece of the abbey.” The great bell is supposed to have been taken down at the Restoration; when the young men of the town joined together in the expence of melting down the bells of the two parish churches, and having that new set coined which are still hanging in the great tower. This venerable structure is one hundred and seventeen feet in height from its base, which is about twenty-two feet square, to the crown of the fanes. It is in a very chaste and elegant style of design: and its ornaments are simple, and perfectly beautiful. In all probability it was finished but a very short time before the Reformation, as it exhibits an admirable specimen of the improved taste of building at that period. It has suffered no dilapidation either from the hand of time, or the 252 more frantic one of religious or political zeal.
On the west front of this tower, above the dial, are two curious figures in wood, representing men in armour. Their original employ was to strike the hour; but they are now, from the ravage of time, become so stiff in their joints as to be no longer able to perform their functions. The figures appear to be the work of the middle of the last century. The date was originally inscribed, but is now obliterated.
From the top of this noble tower, the admirer of extensive views will be amply gratified with the beautiful scenery of the rich and fertile vale of Evesham, and the surrounding country.
The site of the abbey, which stood to the 253 left of the tower, is still distinctly marked by the ruins of its extensive walls; within which there are standing the beautiful remains of a chapel worthy the peculiar attention of the antiquary: its roofless walls, and broken windows, its mouldering arches, and beautiful appendage the clustering ivy, all leave a melancholy impression upon the mind, so far as it contemplates the instability of human labours and human institutions, at the same time that it is far from being overwhelmed with regret, when it reflects on the interested policy and unnatural restrictions of priestcraft, and of the church of Rome, once exhibited by its votaries within these walls. The site of the abbey is now occupied by Mr. Philips; at the extremity of whose garden, at the distance of about one hundred and fifty yards, facing the river, stands a venerable gateway, once the principal entrance to the abbey. The arch from the ground to the key stone is about seventeen feet high, but 254 much of the effect of its height is lost by the falling in of rubbish from the adjoining ruins. The mouldings leave two ranges of niches, in which are sculptured in different compartments many figures of saints and monks, most of whom have lost their heads, in conformity perhaps to principles, in which, in stone and wood work at least, we seem here to have set the fashion to a neighbouring country. The draperies of some of them however display strong marks of excellence in their original design. The annexed view of this Gothic remain will give some idea of its present mutilated state, and of the charming village of Bengworth on the opposite side of the Avon, that was antiently among the many possessions of this wealthy abbey. Between the gate and the river were formerly their fish ponds; from whence they derived the means of using that singular species of ecclesiastical self-denial and fasting which at once satisfied the conscience and the appetite. 255 From the end of the bridge, on the Evesham side, the remains of a wall are still visible, that formerly extended itself across the peninsula, and separated the fish ponds, gardens, and vineyard from the town. The extent and well chosen situation of these conveniencies indicate at once good taste in those spiritual directors, as well as a provident attention to those things that are necessary to our well being in this transitory state.
These charming grounds are watered by the gentle Avon, whose course brings us to the village of Hampton, about a mile below Evesham. This small village is beautifully situated on an eminence, embosomed within a rich thicket of oaks, and commands an extensive prospect of the luxuriant vale of Evesham. Here the Avon receives the aid of a small brook called the Vincell, that has its rise in the vicinity of Sudely Castle, in Gloucestershire, and, coming down by 256 Winchcomb, and Todington, the seat of Lord Tracy, enters this county at Sedgbarow. The remain of the garden wall, antiently belonging to the abbey, extends a considerable distance along the margin of the river; and at the termination of this wall, a fine sloping bank verges upon the river for near a mile, exhibiting a rich display of fruit trees, planted with great regularity, and which seem to vie with the luxuriant vines of France and Italy. Every part of this charming vale is so abundantly fertile in fruit and garden productions of every kind as to supply the greater part of the neighbourhood. The sudden windings of the Avon, both here and below, render the distance twice as great by water as by land. Here also it increases very much in width, and its depth is fourteen or fifteen feet at least; and yet so inconsiderable is the traffic upon it, that not more than two barges go up in the course of a week to Evesham, and frequently not more than one 257 in a fortnight so high as Stratford. The great reduction of commerce on this river has been occasioned in no small degree by the Coventry and other canals in its vicinage.
The country, as we pass down, is finely screened by the Fladbury hills below, which, with Chatbury mill, and lock, and the surrounding scenery, combine so rich a landscape, that nature seems not to require the assistance of art, in the language of modern refinement, either to correct her coarse expression by removing a hill or docking a tree, or to supply her careless and tasteless omissions for the purpose of rendering her more completely picturesque.
Approaching Fladbury, we pass a handsome house on an eminence, the seat of the Perrots, and a few years since of George Perrot, Esq. late one of the Barons of the Exchequer, who purchased this manor, together 258 with the navigation of the river Avon, at this place.
Having in a former section observed that this river was made navigable in 1635 by a Mr. William Sandys, we feel it a duty again to mention so great a friend to our river, more especially as he was at the time a resident, and bailiff, in the parish of Fladbury. Dr. Nash, in his Worcestershire, page 447, quotes from an account of the water works of Mr. William Sandys, of Fladbury, “That he erected Wears in the quietest streams. Nor did he intend to finish his work at Stratford, but had thoughts to extend the same to Warwick; but what hindered his accomplishing his design, I know not; and for the expence he hath hereupon bestowed, it cannot be reckoned less than twenty thousand pounds.” From the same account it appears that “as soon as he had finished his work to Stratford 259 (and, as I have heard, spent all his fortune), he immediately delivered up all to the Parliament to do what more they thought fit therein.”
The country about Fladbury is remarked for its fertility; a quality which the women in the neighbourhood are said to possess in a degree and at a period of life scarce elsewhere known, it being no uncommon circumstance, as I am informed, for women to bear children when advanced to near the age of sixty. Fladbury church contains some monuments worthy attention, particularly those of the antient and once eminent family of the Throckmortons. Its situation is well disposed for the picturesque, but is too much incumbered with trees tortured in the true Dutch style, to be worthy the pencil. The adjoining parsonage house may likewise be truly said to260
“O’ertop the house of God.”
This, in a single instance, reverses the remark made by the incomparable Butler, however true it may be in other respects, “that churchmen overlook all other people as haughtily as the churches and steeples do private houses.”
The village of Cropthorn, about a mile below, presents a scene more noble and interesting; the varying and capricious hand of fashion in gardening has not interfered, and nature remains in that primitive state of simplicity that constitutes at once the sublime and beautiful in English landscape. In the church of Cropthorn are two antient monuments of the Dineley family, who held considerable possessions in this vicinity for several centuries, and flourished in this country with great repute till the beginning of the present; when, on the death of Sir Edward 261 Dineley, his daughter and heir, Eleanor, married Edward Goodyere, of Burghope, in Herefordshire, who, in 1707, was created a Baronet. This gentleman was succeeded by his eldest son Sir John Dineley Goodyere, who was the last of the family that enjoyed this estate. He was so much at variance with his younger brother, Samuel Dineley Goodyere (Captain of the Ruby man of war), as to threaten to disinherit him in favour of his sister’s son John Foote, of Truro, in Cornwall, Esq. This so irritated his brother, the Captain, that he took the desperate resolution of murdering the Baronet, and perpetrated it on the 17th of January, 1741. The circumstance is thus related by Dr. Nash, in his Worcestershire, p. 272; “A friend at Bristol, who knew their mortal antipathy, had invited them both to dinner, in hopes of reconciling them, and they parted in seeming friendship; but 262 the Captain placed some of his crew in the street near College Green, with orders to seize his brother, and assisted in hurrying him by violence to his ship, under pretence that he was disordered in his senses, where, when they arrived, he caused him to be strangled in the cabin by White and Mahony, two ruffians of his crew, himself standing centinel at the door while the horrid deed was perpetrating. It is sufficient to say that the murder was immediately discovered, and the Captain and his two accomplices being tried at Bristol March 26th following, were found guilty, and there executed, April 15th. The Captain had behaved bravely in his profession on several occasions; was at the taking of St. Sebastian, Ferrol, and St. Antonio, at which latter place he burnt three men of war, the magazine, and stores.” The heir to the estate was John 263 Foote, Esq. nephew to Sir John, and elder brother to the late Samuel Foote, Esq. our celebrated comedian.
Below Cropthorn, at the village of Piddle, and near the bridge, the Avon receives the waters that come down from Breedon hill and from Elmely castle. After passing the extensive meadows of Fladbury, they unite with several brooks from the north, and empty themselves into our river at this spot.
From these accessions our Avon acquires a considerable breadth, and aided by a richly diversified scenery, comprising a distant view of Pershore, yields to the eye, in passing down the stream, a most beautiful and luxuriant landscape.264
The fatal cause of the battle, was the harsh reply received by the Barons from the King on their presenting petitions for the redress of their grievances
[Since Henry III was barely nine years old when he inherited the throne, he would have been too young to remember how it turned out when his father, John, similarly displeased the barons.]
The heir to the estate was John Foote, Esq.
[I.e. the self-same “sister’s son John Foote, of Truro, in Cornwall, Esq.” that Sir John had meant to leave his property to all along. So Samuel Goodyere murdered his brother for nothing.]
PERSHORE, once famed for its abbey and extensive church possessions, is now not less so for the beauty of its situation and fertility of its soil. It stands on the northern bank of our Avon, from which it derives its principal advantage; and, together with great improvements in its adjoining roads, has, within the last few years increased greatly in population. Its name, Camden tells us, is derived from a Saxon word, which signifies a Pear Tree. The pear tree is certainly to be found here in great abundance; but we much doubt the fact of its name originating from that tree, as that fruit was not produced in England till about the middle of the sixteenth century, at which period both cherries and grapes were likewise introduced.266
On the reduction of the Papal power in this country, Pershore appears to have lost its former consequence. The abbey of Pershore, according to William of Malmsbury, bears date as early as 604: after which period, having received various orders of religious persons and having been several times destroyed by fire, it at length fell into the hands of a more powerful body, the Monks of Westminster. In the last fire in 1287 it is said, that the register of the estates, with the customs and charters of the abbey, was destroyed; and that Walter, the then Prior, and others being examined touching their privileges, some demands of a very curious nature were brought forward—claims that would even startle the conscience of the most rapacious modern ecclesiastic. Among others this was insisted upon by the Prior, that the principal legacy, bequeathed by every deceased person within their parishes, ought to be carried before the corpse to the church of Pershore, 267 and there valued by the Sacrist and Chaplain of the place to which the deceased belonged; and that one half of the valuation should remain with the Sacrist, and the other be given to the chaplain. This pious custom requires no other comment than that, when it first obtained, it must have originated in fraud, and so long as it continued, was a barefaced robbery.
Of this once extensive abbey, the site of which contained about two acres, we find very small remains, no more than the tower, the southern part of the cross, and one of its chapels. At the Dissolution, it was valued, according to Speed, at six hundred and sixty-six pounds thirteen shillings.
In the 11th of the reign of Henry the Third, he granted to the Abbot and Monks of this place a fair to be held, on the feast of St. Edburgh of Pershore, in the church-yard of Holy Cross. St. Edburgh was the eighth 268 daughter of King Edward the Elder, who reigned in 901. This pious lady, we are told, was from her infancy much inclined to godly books and good works; and that her father, as a test, and to prove her zeal genuine, frequently placed before her fine clothes and rich jewels on the one hand, and on the other the New Testament and other devout tracts: and that such was her constancy, that she uniformly rejected the finery, and made choice of the implements of devotion. In return for her indifference to the pomps and vanities of this world, it is added, she was placed in a monastery at Winchester; where we only know that she died and was buried. Few of the Misses of the present day would have made such a choice, and still fewer would have approved the mode of rewarding it; they dwell with little satisfaction upon the idea of “single blessedness;” but cannot at all apprehend the notion of being spouses of the Lord.269
We have before observed in the course of this work, that fairs were originally held to solemnize the feast of the dedication of churches, and that they were then kept within the churches; but in the above reign, on account of the irregularities practised on those occasions, a special mandate was issued to forbid their being there kept: and the fair at this place was appointed to be held in the church-yard. These irregularities are strongly pointed at in a black letter book published in 1493, in a dialogue between Dives and Pauper. It runs thus:
“Dives. What sayest thou of them that hold markets and feyers in holy church and sanctuary?
“Pauper. Both the buyer and the seller and the men of holy church; that maintain them, or suffer them, when they might let it, been accursed. They make Goddes 270 house a den of thieves; for commonly in such feyres and markets, wheresoever it be holden, there be many thieves, mychers, and cut purses.
“Dives. And I dread me, that full often by such feyres Goddes house is made a tavern of gluttons, and a bordel of lychors; for the merchant and chapman keep their wives and lemans both night and day; and what if the prelates and curates of the place take money of the chapmen for the place that they stand in by covenant?”
This last is a sarcastic query; but as the glebe of holy church in these days is never suffered to pass into lay hands without a consideration made, why in this case should an agistment tithe be thought unreasonable? To be sure, if they took no tithe in kind, under the circumstances of a commerce so 271 promiscuous, in which many a holy father might chance to pick up a new toy, there must at least have been laid in a rich harvest of sins against the day of confession: on which occasion we will charitably hope, that forgiveness of a first lapse was never purchased by a confirmation in evil.
In the abbey church are some antient monuments; and amongst them is preserved the inscription of Abbot Newton, or Newnton, who built the south cross aisle. It is given in a rebus, in which the name is inserted above a tun; thus mixing hieroglyphic with their description—a mode of conveying their meaning by no means unusual in those times.
In the vicinity of Pershore, the Avon has a greater depth and breadth of water than we have yet witnessed; and the general landscape, as we approach the foot of Bredon 272 hill, combines likewise a highly improved scene of vegetation. The view is rendered still more pleasing by an extensive woody scenery that presents itself on a rising bank of the river.
Passing the village of Cumberton, Malvern hills, in a grey sombre tint, form a pleasing back ground to a rich thicket of oaks, that borders the southern bank of the river. This scenery receives no small pictorial aid from the adjoining lock and mill; that take their name from the village of Nafford, which is bounded on the west by Eckington. Here a handsome bridge of six irregular arches is thrown across the Avon, it is built of that reddish stone so generally produced in this country. The road over this bridge leads from Pershore to Tewksbury.
A little below this spot the Avon receives 273 a further accession from a small stream called Dufford, or, as it was antiently written, Depeford brook. In this neighbourhood is found a weak brine, that has been frequently worked, but never to much advantage.
At a sudden bend of the river, Strensham church appears on a considerable eminence. This building, on a nearer approach, affords, with the surrounding objects and the beautiful mill beneath on the bank of the Avon, a scene which equally invites the pencil of the artist, and the pen of the observant traveller. This village has, besides its peculiarly pleasing situation, a yet stronger claim to notice from having produced that extraordinary and, in his line, unrivalled genius, Samuel Butler, author of Hudibras. He was born in 1612, and on the eighth day of February following was baptised in the parish church of Strensham. The font at which he was 274 baptised is yet standing; it is of stone, and the style of its workmanship leaves no room to doubt that it is of a date more antient than the birth of our unrivalled wit. It appears that the father of Butler was churchwarden of this place the year before our author was born, and that he occupied a considerable farm of about three hundred pounds a year, which he rented of Sir William Russel, then Lord of the manor of Strensham, besides a small tenement and lands, his own property, of the annual value at that time of eight pounds. In these premises, which are now divided into three tenements, our author is said to have been born; and they still retain the appellation of Butler’s tenements. Although some doubts have arisen respecting this fact, I am yet inclined to give credit to it; and am strengthened in this persuasion by the concurrence of the Reverend Dr. Nash of Bevereye, near Worcester; who is the present Lord of the manor, and, together 275 with the other Russel estates, owner of these premises.
In the preceding wood cut I have preserved a faithful sketch of the humble retreat of this very original genius. Nor should the high and original character of his wit be considered as the only great and distinguishing feature of Butler’s muse: his profound and various learning, and his inexhaustible treasure of universal knowledge appear to lay equal claim to our applause and admiration. 276 Dennis, in the following lines inscribed on his monument in Westminster abbey, has most happily given a true idea of the character of the genius of this very superior man:
“He was a whole species of poets in one;
“Admirable in a manner
“In which no one else has been tolerable:
“A manner which begun and ended in him,
“In which he knew no guide,
“And has found no followers.”
With the lands possessed by Dr. Nash, formerly in the hands of Butler’s family, he holds, if not a treasure of inestimable value, a work of very great curiosity and interest—the common place book of our author.
I was gratified by the Doctor with a sight of this repository, in which is lodged a series of those passages in contemporary writers, the force of which impressed them upon the understanding, or the brilliancy of which 277 struck the warm and vivid imagination of our masculine wit; and I have no doubt but that a correct copy of it, given to the public, would prove highly interesting to the philosophic and reflecting mind, that delights to follow genius in its retirement, and compare the nature of its private studies and pursuits with the character of its known and avowed labours and occupations, and to know the turn of thought that would recommend itself to an intellect of so much vigour, and a wit so truly original. It would probably also be acceptable to the antiquary, and assuredly to the less solemn trifler, the collector of the curiosities of literature.
The extreme indigence in which Butler notoriously died, would of itself have been a reproach to the literary character of the age: but without derogating from the high estimation to which he is entitled, we cannot forget that either their envy or their selfish 278 dissipation suffered “one greater” to descend to the grave almost a beggar. Whatever excuse might be at hand for the neglect of Milton in this quarter, it must remain an eternal stigma upon the character of aristocracy, that so uniform, so resolute, and active a supporter of supremacies should have died a sans culottes. As to the Monarch, it was not possible that any thing could add to his exceeding infamy. His unhappy fate is lamented by the ingenious Mr. Samuel Wesley of Tiverton, in the following epigrammatic epitaph, written in consequence of a bust having been erected in honour of his memory:
“When Butler, needy wretch, was yet alive,
“No generous patron would a dinner give.
“See him now lifeless and reduced to dust
“Presented with a monumental bust.
“The poet’s fate is here in emblem shewn;
“He ask’d for bread and he receiv’d a stone.”
Within the church of Strensham are some well executed monuments of the Russel family, who flourished in this place upwards of four hundred years. A Sir William Russel of Strensham during the civil wars suffered greatly from his adherence to the royal cause, and expended large sums in the King’s service; and yet, after the Restoration took place, and the order of the royal oak was about to be instituted, his estate was valued at eight thousand pounds a year.
Quitting Strensham we pass Bredon, the name of which has been observed to signify a place at the root of a hill, from the word Braidd, extremity, and Don, a hill.
The rectory house is pleasantly situated on a rising eminence on the bank of the river, and seems to cover much more ground than the house of God; the porch and west end of which are in the Saxon style of architecture. The rectory is one 280 of the most valuable in the diocese of Worcester.
We cannot quit this village without mentioning the name of Dr. Prideaux, formerly Bishop of Worcester; who, upon the sequestration of his bishopric during the civil wars, retired hither on a stipend of only four shillings and sixpence per week. This reverse of fortune he bore with much chearfulness, although obliged to sell his books and furniture to procure subsistence. One day being asked by a neighbour as he passed through the village with something under his gown, What he had got there? He replied he was become an ostrich, and forced to live upon iron; shewing some old iron which he was going to sell at the blacksmiths to enable himself to purchase a dinner.
Below Bredon, at Twinings Fleet, which is about three miles before you reach Tewksbury, the tower of that church and the surrounding 281 objects form a very pleasing distance; but it being near the close of the day when we saw it, the whole appeared too misty and indistinct for the pencil and size of this work. Twinings Fleet takes its name from the parish of Twining, which is situate on a point of land north-west of the Avon, and is between that and the Severn.
Near the village is the remain of a considerable encampment, said to be Roman; of which I shall treat more at large in the History of the Severn, as from its contiguity it more properly belongs to that river.
Before we reach Tewksbury, our Avon receives considerable aid from the river Carrant, which rises in Beckford, and is a boundary between the counties of Worcester and Gloucester.
Approaching Mythe bridge, the antient 282 tower of the abbey church of Tewksbury, and other objects, pleasingly combine in the general landscape of this venerable place; and we cannot select, towards the conclusion of this work, a more proper object than a representation of that spot,
“Where Avon’s friendly streams with Severn join,
“And Tewksbury’s walls, renown’d for trophies, shine.”
Mythe bridge was built in 1632; and this structure constitutes a part of what is called the long bridge. Previous to the period of building this bridge, the old one measured above seven hundred yards in length. A bridge of this extent became necessary from the frequent floods that happen in the long level of this country. The greatest ever remembered took place in 1770: it was occasioned by a very heavy fall of snow, succeeded by rain that continued for three days; during which time large boats with twelve or fourteen 283 people passed and repassed the town to supply the inhabitants with necessaries. The next year the tide flowed in Avon five inches perpendicular, a circumstance never before on record. Mythe bridge derives its name from a hamlet belonging to Tewksbury, called the Mythe, a word of Greek derivation, which signifies a military station. For this purpose it is happily formed by nature, being difficult of access in every part, and receiving additional security from the confluence of the Severn and Avon in the valley beneath.
The summit of the hill, or Tumulus at this beautiful place, formerly bore the name of the Mythe Toot; but since it received a royal visit in the year 1788, it has changed its name to Royal Hill.
Tewksbury, although it may properly be considered as appertaining to our present 284 pursuit, being on the bank of what is called the Old Avon, is yet an object, we conceive, better suited to the more extensive and impetuous Severn, than to the gentle and soft flowing Avon. We shall therefore suspend any remark on that respectable and antient town till the History of the river Severn is laid before the public. In the interim we beg to submit, with all due respect, as some return for our want of ability to render justice to the beauties of the present subject, the fidelity and attention with which the views were made, and the earnest and unremitted diligence used in procuring the information contained in this volume.
such was her constancy, that she uniformly rejected the finery, and made choice of the implements of devotion
[Silly girl. She could have taken the finery, sold it, and used the money for charitable works. How many Testaments does one person need?]
that maintain them, or suffer them, when they might let it
[The rare archaic sense of “let”, as in “without let or hindrance”.]
[Illustration] Eckington Bridge, Worcestershire.
[By some oversight, the person who swiped all the other Plates missed this one. Hah!]
of which I shall treat more at large in the History of the Severn
[Often promised, never written.]
the Mythe, a word of Greek derivation, which signifies a military station
[Where does he get this stuff? The Survey of English Place Names says it’s from the word mýðe, meaning a river confluence. Bosworth-Toller, meanwhile, says the word means the mouth of a stream. Close enough.]
The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.