The manor formerly belonged to the Archbishops of Canterbury, who had here a stately palace; part of it is still remaining, and serves as an excellent barn.
For an introduction to Samuel Ireland—now best known as the father of noted Shakespeare forger William-Henry Ireland—see his first English river, Picturesque Views on the River Thames (1792). The present book came out the very next year, in 1793; it will be followed later in the decade by the rivers Avon and Wye.
Like the River Thames, the River Medway features engravings based on the author’s own drawings . . . at least when he was able to get close enough. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him to write ahead, asking for permission to visit and sketch the various sites he describes. The consequences of this oversight—in the form of metaphorical doors slammed in his face, metaphorical dogs set on him—crop up in several chapters.
Also like the Thames, the Frontispiece is the only plate to carry a full artist-and-engraver credit. The engraver is again Cornelis Apostool (1762–1844), who trained in Amsterdam but lived in England from 1786 to 1796. The British Museum says telegraphically:
From 1807 settled in Amsterdam becoming first director of the Royal Museum there in 1808. In charge of returning looted Napoleonic art in 1815 with CH Hodges and C Josi.
For that, it was probably worth returning to the Netherlands.
. . . literally. The author’s previous book followed the Thames from its source in the west to its mouth in the east, with two maps running generally left to right. The present book starts where the Medway enters the Thames, and follows it upstream. But, just to make sure readers unfamiliar with the region are thoroughly disoriented, the map is drawn with north at the bottom, south at the top, making it look as if the Medway runs through Essex rather than Kent. Or, if you want to be scrupulously accurate, Kent and a sliver of Sussex. But no more than that. By global standards the Medway is absurdly small: just 70 miles (110 km) long.
Language: Our author is undecided between “remain”, singular, and “remains”, plural, as in “The remain of the castle”. You can tell it isn’t a typo, because he uses singular verbs. And, in a precursor of Conversate Is Not A Word, he consistently has “ruinated” where today we would say “ruined”. At various times he will spell “Philipot” with one ell or two, and “pre-eminence” with and without the hyphen—winding up with a final occurrence at line-break, leaving the transcriber little option but to toss a coin.
This ebook is based on the 1793 edition—so far as I know, the only edition there was. Typographical errors are marked with and are listed again at the end of each chapter.
&c. &c. &c.
VICINITY OF ITS SOURCE IN SUSSEX:
THE PUBLIC BUILDINGS and other WORKS OF ART
in its neighbourhood.
Author of “A Picturesque Tour through Holland, Brabant, and Part of France,”
And of “Picturesque Views on the River Thames.”
PUBLISHED BY T. AND J. EGERTON, WHITEHALL.
“It fortun’d then, a solemn Feast was there
“To all the Sea-Gods and their fruitfull ,
“In honour of the Spousalls which then were
“Betwixt the Medway and the Thames agreed.
“Long had the Thames (as we in records reed)
“Before that day her wooed to his bed;
“But the proud Nymph would for no meed,
“Nor no entreatie to his Love be led;
“’Till now at last relenting She to him was wed.”
AS a testimony of that deference which I owe to a Patroness of the Fine Arts, and the respect and veneration due to that more exalted character of the Friend to Humanity; permit me to inscribe to your Ladyship this attempt to delineate the Picturesque Scenery of the River Medway; a river, which, though it spreads abundant fertility around the valleys through which it flows, is yet rivalled by those blessings so liberally dispensed by your beneficent hand. I am,
With all due Respect,
Very obliged and
March 1, 1793.
“From royal tower’d Thame to Medway smooth.”
THIS volume of Picturesque Scenery on the River Medway may not improperly be considered, as a continuation of a former work on the subject of the Thames.
The confluence of these rivers naturally led the author into a wish to explore the beauties of this more gentle, yet in some respects equally important, River.
The views, selected in the course of this work, form the natural and artificial scenery viii of this rich and fertile county; and are represented with that fidelity, which the author flatters himself will entitle him to the patronage of a discerning public.
Where he has been conscious that the same subject had been delineated by others, he has endeavoured so to vary the point of view, as to render the objects materially different; and, in some instances, has been induced to hope he may have made a more favourable selection.
The original design of the annexed frontispiece is from the skilful hand of his late ingenious friend, John Mortimer. It applied so happily to the fine poetical imagery of our bard Spenser on the supposed marriage of the THAMES and MEDWAY, as to leave the ix Author almost in doubt; whether, when the sketch was made, the Painter had not an eye to the Poet. This idea receives additional support from a knowledge that Spenser was the favourite poet of the artist, and that he had several times thrown out hints of his intention to make designs from the most striking passages in Spenser’s works.
The flattering approbation bestowed on the Author’s former work, the “Picturesque Beauties of the River Thames,” induced him to pursue the present inquiry: and he presumes the idea of delineating the river scenery of this country, in faithful portraits, may be said to have originated from himself; as no work avowedly with this intention had been announced, previous to the publication of his proposals.x
The river Severn, in point of consequence, is the next object of investigation: but the Drawings and Plates of the Warwickshire Avon being in such a state of forwardness, as to enable the Author to publish them in the course of the present year, he is induced to give the preference to this lesser River, which yet, as having given birth to our immortal Shakespear, is entitled to early attention. This work will be comprized in one volume.
The Drawings and part of the Plates of the Severn being finished, that work will follow as early as possible; to which the Somersetshire Avon will at a future period be a proper appendage.xi
|Minster Abbey, &c.||11|
|Rochester from Frendsbury Hill||53|
|Temple Farm, Stroud||71|
|Lord Darnley’s Mausoleum in Cobham Park||77|
|Remains of Halling House||83|
|Lady Aylesfords, called the Friars||100|
|East Farley Church and Bridge||133|
|Brandtbridge, Aylesford lathe||153|
Page 67, for Joseph Brooke, Esq. read John Longley, Esq. the present
I Mortimer. Invt. C. Apostool. Sculpt.
[This is the only plate that names the artist and engraver. The Preface has more to say about the author’s “late ingenious friend, John Mortimer”.]
“To all the Sea-Gods and their fruitfull seede,
text has eede
But the proud Nymph would for no worldly meed,
text has wordly
to delineate the Picturesque Scenery of the River Medway
[Two consecutive left-hand (verso) pages are numbered viii. The second one is followed by ix, so we can retroactively call the first one vi.]
the Author’s former work, the “Picturesque Beauties of the River Thames”
[Picturesque Views on the River Thames only came out last year. Has he already forgotten its title?]
The river Severn, in point of consequence, is the next object of investigation
[What on earth happened to this book? He says several times that it is in the press. But instead, the subsequent Picturesque Views will be of the rivers Avon and Wye—both tributaries of the Severn.]
to which the Somersetshire Avon will at a future period be a proper appendage
[This, too, seems to have fallen by the wayside.]
The Erratum is included for completeness. The correction has been made in the text.
“Kent, in the Commentaries Cæsar writ,
“Is term’d the civil’st place of all this isle;
“Sweet is the country, beauteous, full of riches,
“The people liberal, valiant, active, worthy.”
OF the several rivers which lend their aid in fertilizing this celebrated county, the present subject of enquiry, The Medway, is deservedly in the first rank. This river, though in extent and consequence inferior to the Thames, has yet its peculiar beauties; 2 and, in some respects, in point of romantic scenery, justly claims a preeminence. Its reaches are short and sudden; and the beautiful meandering of its course affords that perpetual diversity of objects which cannot fail to attract and yield gratification to the admirers of rural scenery.
The following lines of Sir Richard Blackmore, though no very popular writer, not unpoetically, but certainly with the truth of nature, describe the irregular course of this river:
“Whose wanton tide in wreathing volumes flows,
“Still forming reedy islands as it goes;
“And, in meanders, to the neighbouring plain,
“The liquid serpent draws its silver train.”
The Medway, originally denominated Vaga by the ancient Britons, from the Saxons received the additional syllable of Med, signifying Mid, or Middle, to denote its course 3 through the centre of the kingdom of Kent: and hence its compound appellation Med-vaga, or Medwage, which is now modernized into Medway. The entrance to this river from the Thames is at the westernmost point of the isle of Shepey, by a narrow branch of the sea, called the Swale.
I call this a branch of the sea, because at the eastern point of this island, the Swale, in an extensive frith, communicates itself with the ocean. And as through each of these channels our river Medway pours its waters into the great flood, I have thought it my duty, as a part of the subject, to notice such striking picturesque objects, as the eye commands from the banks, washed by the waters of this river.
The Swale was formerly accounted part of the river Thames, and was the usual passage 4 for shipping between London and the north Foreland.
Ancient historians frequently style Sandwich, in the Saxon tongue Lundenwic; which signifies the Thames mouth, and Leland says the town of Milton stands “on an arm of the Tamise;” and that “Queenborough is entering into the mayne Tamys.”
The entrance to our river, however it may properly be denominated, is well defended by the extensive battery and fort at Sheerness, erected on a peninsula of the north-west point of the isle of Shepey. The site on which this fort was built, in the reign of Charles I. was only a swamp, or morass; but this entrance being an avenue both to the river Thames and our great naval arsenal at Chatham, it was thought of such importance to the maritime interests of this 5 country, as to be afterwards drained and made capable of receiving a small fort of twelve guns, which, at the period of the restoration, was erected and thought sufficient for its defence. But in the war which broke out soon after with the Dutch, a power that contested with us the empire of the sea and whose ports lay very near our coasts, this fort was, in the public opinion, deemed insufficient for security: early therefore in the year 1669, Charles II. made a journey hither, in the depth of winter, accompanied by Sir Martin Beckman, his chief engineer, and other officers; and at this time a more extensive plan of defence was determined upon; but the tardiness of execution, which too often rendered the plans of this motley monarch abortive, had a fatal effect in the present instance; for the Dutch, on the 10th of July, in the same year, having made their memorable attempt on this beggarly fort, and on the royal navy, which at that time was in 6 no better state of defence, they razed all the works to the ground, and then landed their troops, &c.; after which, with little resistance, they sailed up the river; and, having considerably damaged our shipping, returned unmolested to Sheerness, where they took on board the men they had left, and sailed away in triumph for the coasts of Essex and Suffolk.
In so wretched a state was the defence of this country at that period; its capital exposed, and the very existence of its marine endangered in a war provoked by its abandoned monarch, for the purpose of gratifying the ambition, or rather religion of France, and supplying his own licentious and expensive pleasures. And, though we must lament the baneful influence of prerogative and monarchical power over a people neither less wise or less brave than their descendants, it would be hardly just to say of them that this took place altogether 7 because they were either too much relaxed in principle, or too much seduced by royal example; but, having experienced the insincerity and fraud of fanatical pretensions, and in some respects the more alluring mischiefs of pseudo patriotism, they did not make either so resolute a stand against the flood of licentiousness that poured in upon them, or watched the acts of authority with so necessary a jealousy as had at any other hour become them to do, and which so much distinguished and entitled them to our eternal gratitude in the succeeding reign.
Soon after these depredations the alarm of the nation became so great as to render it necessary that even a monarchy so highly upheld should give immediate security to this place; a regular plan of fortification was therefore begun, to which many additions have been made. Since the above period, a royal dock has likewise been constructed 8 here for the building of small ships of war, yachts, &c. but intended chiefly for the repair of such as had met with any sudden accident. The yard is under the inspection of the commissioner of the navy residing at Chatham; from which place the principal supply of water for the use of this garrison, was formerly received; but that expence has within a few years been much reduced by the construction of a deep well, within half a mile of the town. This well is worked by horizontal wheels that will raise, with a smart breeze of wind, two tons of water within the hour; a supply thought sufficient for the wants of the place, and such as has made only one vessel necessary for bringing water to Sheerness, and even that is now considered rather as a job than matter of necessity.
The old ships of war stationed here are termed Water Breakers, from their breaking 9 the violence of the tides. The hulks are occupied by sixty or seventy families, and chimnies of brick are raised from the lower gun-deck, which give them the whimsical appearance of a floating-town.10
THE isle of Shepey, with which the course of our river and subject have thus connected us, was called by the Saxons Sceapige, or Ovinia, that is, the Island of Sheep, from the number of sheep continually feeding on it: it is about thirteen miles in length, and near six at its greatest breadth. The cliffs are about six miles in length, the highest of which is above the village of Minster, where they are not less than thirty yards in perpendicular height; they consist of clay, and, being constantly washed at their bases by the tides, are continually falling upon the shore; and a whole acre is said at once to have fallen upon the beach below, leaving the corn entire on the surface, which, in that situation, has grown to maturity, and been reaped with small loss to the owner.12
The most fertile, as well as the pleasantest part of this island, is in the neighbourhood of Minster, which is elevated in its situation, rich in verdure, and fruitful in corn. The many noble and extensive views from this spot, particularly towards the channel to the north-east, and of the Nore to the westward, with the agreeable rides in its vicinity, would render it no unpleasant retreat for the summer months.
The parish of Minster takes its name from Minstre, which, in the Saxon language, signifies a monastery, or religious house. The annexed view is taken from the small remains of a building of that kind, reported to have its origin as early as 673, from Sexburga, its foundress, one of the daughters of Annas, King of East Anglia, widow of Ercombert, King of Kent, and mother of King Egbert. From her son and sovereign, she obtained lands, in this parish, to endow a monastery 13 for seventy-seven nuns, of which she became herself the first abbess. This monastery suffered considerably from the Danish invasions, and was at length nearly destroyed by them, in which state it remained till the year 1130, when it was re-edified and supplied with benedictine nuns, by William Corboil, Archbishop of Canterbury, and dedicated to St. Mary and St. Sexburga. At the dissolution, the annual revenue of this monastery, with all its possessions, amounted to no more than one hundred and twenty-nine pounds seven shillings and ten-pence; it contained only ten nuns, besides their prioress, Alicia Crane, to whom the King granted a pension of fourteen pounds, during her life. The manor of Minster, with the site of the monastery, was soon after granted to Sir Thomas Cheiney, from whom it descended to his son Henry, afterwards created Lord Cheiney, of Tuddington, in the county of Bedford. In consequence of his profuse manner of living, it 14 was at length alienated, and, falling into the hands of Queen Elizabeth, she granted it to Sir Thomas Hoby, of Bisham, in the county of Berks. All that remains of this extensive monastery, is supposed, by Wever, to have been only its gateway. This remain of the abbey is connected with the church by a long wall, which, however necessary for the security of this spot, as a repository of the dead, shuts out from the living visitor such an extensive view of the ocean, as would otherwise give a splendid idea of the naval and commercial character of our nation. I have, in the annexed view, given a portrait of the place, in which the wall is omitted. The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary and St. Sexburga, is a small, but venerable structure, in which are several monuments deserving attention, particularly that of Sir Thomas Cheiney, who obtained the original grant of this manor. Here was also, and that not long since, to be found in this 15 church, a curious memorial of a sculpture of very ancient times; it was, itself, of unknown date, but was inlaid in the manner of our early funeral inscriptions, and ran as follows:
“Hic jacent Rogerus Norwood et Bona, uxor ejus,
“Sepulti ante conquestum.”
The plate, whether of brass, or of any more precious metal, is not now to be found; it is said that it has recently been removed for better security, and it is also said by a clergyman. One would hope, for the credit of these public repositories of the dead, and for the honour of the church, in whose hands they are lodged as a sacred trust, and for the use of historic evidence, which the antiquarian might expect in such places at least to find unviolated, that this rapine must have been committed at some earlier and more licentious period. The church generally holds fast what it gets, and yet, with all its tenacity, 16 instances have been known in which it has committed depredations upon itself.
The monument of Sir Robert De Shurland, who, with many other gentlemen of Kent, was created a Knight Banneret by Edward I. for his gallant behaviour at the siege of Carlaverock, in Scotland, is worthy notice. The monument is in a decayed state, and the figures much defaced; I have here preserved a slight sketch of its outline.
The Knight is represented beneath a gothic arch cross-legged, with a shield on his left arm, in an attitude much like that of a Knight Templar, an armed page at his feet, and on his right side the head of a horse emerging out of the sea. Of this Knight and the horse’s head many ridiculous tales have been propagated, to which the vane on the tower of the church in the figure of a horse’s head (whence the appellation of Horse Church) has added not a little embarrassment. This story, very current among the common people, however contemptible in itself, I shall yet repeat, as a specimen of the credulity of the past, as well as the present, day: it will be found in Harris’s History of Kent, p. 108, in the following words. “Sir Robert Shurland having, upon some disgust at a priest, buried him alive, swam on his horse two miles through the sea to the King, who was then 18 on shipboard near this island, and, having obtained his pardon, swam back again to the shore, where, being told his horse had performed this by magic art, he cut off his head. About a twelvemonth after which, riding a hunting near the same place, the horse he was then upon stumbled and threw him upon the scull of his former horse, by which he was so much bruised, that it caused his death; in memory of which, the figure of a horse’s head was placed by him on his tomb.”
The horse’s head may have been probably placed there to express his affection for a favourite horse which had been the means of saving his life, by swimming with him across the Swale; or, as Phillipot observes, it may possibly allude to a grant of wreck of the sea bestowed on him by Edward I. in the tenth year of his reign; 19 which privilege is always esteemed to reach as far into the water as, upon the lowest ebb, a man can, upon a horse, ride in and touch any thing with the point of his lance.
This curious relation is thrown into a kind of doggerel metre, by the late Mr. Forrest, of York Buildings, in his account of a tour made to this place by Hogarth, himself, and others.
About four miles east of Minster, and within the manor of Shurland, stands the mansion many years since occupied by the Cheineys, but anciently by the Shurlands beforementioned: the house was built by Sir Thomas Cheiney, in the reign of Elizabeth, with the materials which he brought from Chilham Castle, formerly the residence of that family. Shurland house is spacious, and has an air of solemn grandeur; but in the late repair it underwent, having lost its 20 embattlements, gothic windows, and other ancient decorations, it is rendered no longer worthy attention as a specimen of antiquity. It was in the hands of the crown till the second year of James I. by whom it was granted to Philip Herbert, younger brother to William, Earl of Pembroke, in whose family it still remains. The whole of this manor claims an exemption from the payment of tythes at this time.
From hence, by a pleasant and good road, we come to Queenborough, at the south-west point of the isle of Shepey. This town and castle are reported to have been built from a model or design of William of Wyckham, surveyor of the works to Edward III. The castle was erected, says Camden, to quote the King’s own words, “as being pleasant in situation, the terror of his enemies, and the comfort of his subjects.” The borough, with 21 the right of representation in parliament, was added by him in honour of Philippa of Hainault, his queen, thence called Queenborough.
Of this castle, as no traces are remaining, I have subjoined a sketch of it from a scarce print by Hollar, said to be the only genuine view extant, that has been engraved.
The parliament, after the death of Charles I. in 1650, ordered a survey of it to be made, when its value was estimated 22 at one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two pounds twelve shillings. It was soon after sold to a Mr. John Wilkinson, by whom the whole of it was taken down, and the materials removed. The moat that surrounded it is still visible. In its center is a well forty fathom deep, which remained a long time choaked up; but in 1723 it was opened by order of the commissioners of the navy, and has proved of great utility to this place, as well as to the inhabitants of Sheerness.
The town, notwithstanding the celebrity of its architect has, from the transitory condition of all sublunary things, no traces of its original form; the castle we have likewise remarked is no more; but in this once famed place, so royally recommended, that comfortable refreshment should be wanting, may well afford matter of surprize to the traveller.23
So near the sea we neither found oysters though in season, nor even mutton, from the abundance of which this island is said to have received its denomination of Shepey. Having no luxuries of the table to detain us, we rambled, as travellers are apt to do, into the church-yard, and were enabled at least to feed the imagination with a whimsical allusion to the different stages of our “strange eventful history,” which we never remember to have met with in any other author, grave or ludicrous:
“Our life is nothing but a winter’s day,
“Some only break their fast, and so away;
“Others stay dinner, and depart full fed,
“The deepest age but sups, and goes to bed.
“He’s most in debt that lingers out the day,
“Who dies by times, has less and less to pay.”
Quitting Queenborough, and crossing the Swale, we now enter the Medway, a 24 river, which, by the depth of its channel and softness of its bed, is rendered not only the best, but, perhaps, the only perfectly secure harbour for large ships in the kingdom.
The first object worthy of notice, in going up this river is Stangate creek, which is on the south side of it, and about three miles from its entrance. Here hospitals or lazarettos are built on the hulks of two forty-four gun ships, which, from their being roofed and tiled, have a singular and amphibious kind of appearance. On board these vessels a regular quarantine is established for all ships, coming from the Levant and other suspected places, to prevent the infection of the plague, or other contagious disorders which may be brought into the kingdom.
A little above Stangate, at Colemouth, 25 is a creek on the opposite side of the river, which separates the isle of Grain from the hundred of Hoo: this water is denominated the Stray, and empties itself into the Thames at what is called North Yenlet. I am informed it has been thought expedient to dam up this water of Yenlet, in order to avoid the increase of smuggling. Whatever advantages may have been gained on that score, the navigation has certainly been much impeded by the necessity of going round the island. On the border of this creek, in the isle of Grain, a considerable salt work has been erected.
Passing up the Medway, the Kentish hills afford a pleasing view; yet the distant objects, though highly enriched with verdure and village scenery, are too much expanded and unconnected for the pencil. The marshy lands on either side the river 26 yield but little foreground for a landscape, which, to be perfect, requires some prominent feature to attract and compose the eye.
Turning a point of land, towards the village of Hoo, the landscape greatly improves, and the scenery is more happily diversified by the hills of Brompton, the church of Gillingham, Chatham, and the range of buildings in the dock-yard that surround it.
I cannot pass the hundred of Hoo without adverting to its characteristical circumstances and soil, as recorded by Hollingshed, who was a man of Kent, and who observes, that in his time it was nearly an island, and that
“He that rideth in the hundred of Hoo,
“Besides pilfering seamen, shall find dirt enow.”
It is still notorious for its aguish air; which is said to have removed many a yeoman’s 27 wife, who was not a native of the spot, and to have enabled him again to seek another by the operation of the same causes, soon again to meet the same fate.
The hundred of Hoo lies in a bend, between the Medway and Thames, in form resembling a ham, which, in the Saxon, is hoh or ho; and thence probably the origin of the name of this place.28
a whimsical allusion to the different stages of our “strange eventful history”
[The context makes it sound as if Our Author found the lines carved on a gravestone. The original author is Francis Quarles (1592–1644): Book III, Epigram 69, “On the Life of Man”, in his Divine Fancies: Digested Into Epigrammes, Meditations, and Observations. (Don’t be fooled by sites that claim the lines are from Quarles’ “The Shortness of Life”. Unrelated poem, different words.)
Others were quick to steal the idea and even expand on it. Take the 1681 work A Soveraign Antidote against the fear of death: or, A cordial for a dying Christian by Edward Bury, which includes “A Poem, wherein is set forth the Vanity, Frailty and Brevity of Mans Life; as also the Certainty of Death, with the Benefit of it to Believers”. The poem goes on at enormous length; in part:
The world much like an Inne serves for a day,
Some only break their fast, and so away:
Some dine, some sup, and some are richly treated,
But those that eat most Meals are most indebted.
If any suffer hardship, ’tis the best:
The worse the man, the better is the Guest:
Some feast, some drink, some game, some drab and whore,
But when they come to pay, their reck’ning’s more.
Even Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac for Monday X December 1744 (Old Style) has an eight-line version, in which Quarles’ six lines are preceded by:
This World’s an Inn, all Travellers are we;
And this World’s Goods th’ Accommodations be. ]
WE are here induced to digress from the bank of the Medway to contemplate the stately remains of Cowling castle, which is about three miles distant.
This noble ruin stands about the centre of the hundred of Hoo, and, from its situation, was intended as a defence both for the river Thames and Medway, being placed nearly at equal distances from each. It was a strong fortress built by John, Lord Cobham, who obtained a license for its erection in the twenty-fourth year of Richard II. The strength of this castle, by tradition, was such, as to have given some umbrage to the court, to obviate which, the following lines, engraved on a brass plate, with the arms appendant, were affixed 30 to the eastern tower of the grand entrance.
“Knoweth that beth and shall be
“That I am made in help of the contre;
“In knowing of whiche thing
“This is chartre, and witnessing.”
The letters, in a character similar to the above, are still perfectly legible; their situation is marked in the annexed view.
I do not remember to have any where seen a more noble or perfect entrance to an ancient castle than Cowling here exhibits: the round towers with which it is flanked, and their machicolations, are almost unimpaired; the other parts, though much decayed, are yet rendered by the ivy, with which they are overgrown, and the variegated shrubberies that appear in tufts around them, beautifully picturesque in their ruinated state, but rather too complicated to 31 afford a subject for landscape on so contracted a scale as the present undertaking. Great part of the moat which surrounded this venerable building originally was supplied from the Thames, but is now nearly choaked up.
This castle was once the chief residence of the intrepid Sir John Oldcastle, whose courage was equalled but by his piety and goodness of heart; qualities that were fully evinced by his warm espousal of the doctrine of Wickliff, against the bigotry and tyranny of the church of Rome.
Sir Thomas Wyat, in the year 1553, in his insurrection against Queen Mary, made an unsuccessful attempt on this castle, which he intended as a place of refuge against the forces in pursuit of him. Kilburn says, “the gate was broke open with his ordinance;” but the undaunted resolution of Lord Cobham, in its defence, obliged him to raise the siege.32
A very comfortable farm house is now standing within these desolated walls, where industry and useful labour are promoted, and more beneficial effects derived to the state, than ever arose from the splendor and warlike pride of any feudal barony.
Returning towards the Medway, the village of Gillingham, about three miles below Chatham, claims, from its elevated situation, particular attention. On the score of antiquity it likewise merits notice. Here six hundred Norman gentlemen, who came over in the retinue of the Princes Alfred and Edward, sons of King Ethelred, are reported to have been murdered by Earl Goodwin.
These young Princes were invited, after the death of King Canutus, by the English nobility to join with them, in order to obtain their father’s throne, against the aspiring 33 and insidious designs of the formidable Earl of Kent.
The manor formerly belonged to the Archbishops of Canterbury, who had here a stately palace; part of it is still remaining, and serves as an excellent barn.
At the west end of the church, over the porch, once stood, or sat, the idolized image of the miraculous lady of Gillingham. The niche still remains; but the good lady, with her train of idolaters, and her trade of miracles, thank heaven, no longer flourish on this coast!
Within the church are several ancient monuments of warriors and statesmen of the Beaufitz family; the records of whose military prowess and politics are now, from time and neglect, scarcely understood.34
From the church yard the view is beautiful and extensive, comprising a rich and fertile country, with the winding Medway beneath, and in the distance a noble expansive view of the ocean, bearing its stately burthens
“This way sailing,
“With all their brav’ry on, and tackle trim;
“Sails fill’d, and streamers waving,
“Courted by all the winds that hold them play.”
Descending from the village, we pass the remains of Gillingham fort, a place never capable of much defence, but now totally in ruin. And here I cannot refrain from dwelling with pride and pleasure upon the glorious scene before me, which renders such defence nearly useless. The scene to which I allude comprizes about forty men of war now lying in ordinary in this river, a sight that must animate the breast of every Englishman, to retain that dominion 35 which their fathers left them in possession of, and to convince them, while they hold it, of the absurdity of fortifying by land, when these wooden walls, as they are emphatically termed, can be so readily called forth on any sudden attack of the enemy.
“Jupiter é ligno dat fasta Minervæ,
“Quæ tibi sola tuis’que ferant invicta salutem.”
From hence Upnor castle, considered as a pleasing object of the picturesque kind, on the banks of the river, claims our warmest commendation; but, as a place of national defence, I fear has never answered any purpose whatever; yet it must be allowed to have its merits as a place of snug security for a governor, storekeeper, clerk of the cheque, &c. &c. The governor has the command of all the forts on the river except Sheerness.
This castle was erected by queen Elizabeth, in the third year of her reign. It is 36 built principally of stone, and is in the form of a parallelogram: the longest side is towards the river, which, by the remains of some stone walls, seems to have formed a salient angle, like a modern ravelin, which is now covered by high pallisadoes, and a crane for shipping powder, of which, within this castle, there is a considerable magazine for the use of the navy.
Such was the shamefully neglected state of this castle that there were only four guns fit for use, mounted within it, at the time the Dutch made their bold attempt up this river in the reign of Charles II. At present it has no platform, nor yet one gun mounted, which, for the author of this work, was probably a fortunate circumstance, as he had fixed his station very near it while making the annexed sketch of the castle.
Other mischiefs, however, seemed to await him, for, while he was peaceably situated 37 beneath the stern of a man of war, to keep under the wind, he was visited by a person from on board, who claimed the privilege of taking him before the Commissioner in Chatham yard, to answer for his rash attempt on this noble place of defence.
Having satisfied Commissioner Proby that he had no insidious design against the navy, or the welfare of his country, he was suffered to depart in peace; and that he might not again be taken into custody for similar offences, the Commissioner politely furnished him with a passport, of which the following is a copy:
To the officers of his Majesty’s
ships in ordinary.
“Samuel Ireland, Esq. of Norfolk Street, London, may be allowed to amuse himself by taking views.
August 25th, 1791.
A little below Upnor castle, beneath Cockham wood, is affixed a stone denoting the boundary of the city’s jurisdiction upon the river. Its ancient date is 1204, and on it is inscribed, “God preserve the city of London.” The present stone was erected in 1771, in the mayoralty of Brass Crosby, Esq.
From hence, on a retrospective view down the Medway, the easy bend of the river, with the luxuriant scenery of its woody banks, and receding distant hills, make a beautiful combination of objects in picturesque landscape.
obtained a license for its erection in the twenty-fourth year of Richard II.
[An impressive achievement, considering that Richard was deposed after reigning just twenty-two years.]
but rather too complicated to afford a subject for landscape
[“You’ll have to take my word for it that the scenery is pretty, because I can’t be bothered to make a picture of it.”]
part of it is still remaining, and serves as an excellent barn
[Frances Stackhouse Acton’s Castles and Old Mansions of Shropshire is filled with similar “how are the mighty fallen” descriptions.]
Jupiter é ligno dat mænia fasta Minervæ
spelling unchanged: error for mœnia
[The acute accent on é is also unexpected; most printers would use a grave è.]
in the form of a parallelogram: the longest side
[Crystal ball says it was a trapezoid—which by definition has a longest side—and not a parallelogram—which doesn’t.]
WE now approach Chatham, whose royal dock yard, fortifications, and repository for naval stores and ordnance, at once fill the mind with the most pleasing sensations of the happy security, and prudent defence of our country.
If early in the 17th century Camden could say of this place that the Medway here “affords a dock to the best appointed fleet that ever the sun saw, ready for action upon all occasions,” what would he have said of the present increase of buildings, and superior mode of conducting our invincible navy, at once a proof of our excellent policy and national skill.
The store house and wharf, usually called 40 the Old Dock, which is situated on a slip of land below the chalk cliff, between the church and the river, was the original dockyard till King James, in 1622, finding it too small for the growing service of the navy removed it to the present spot.
Charles I. greatly improved his father’s plan, enlarged the site of the yard, and made new docks for floating ships in with the tide. Charles II. likewise often talked of making farther improvements, and visited this place with that intention; but having viewed the Royal Sovereign, and passed a few joyous hours in the neighbourhood, thought no more of the navy or dock, till Admiral De Ruyter, about seven years after, reminded him of his neglected duty, and their defenceless state. He dispatched his Vice-admiral, Van Ghent, with seventeen sail of his lightest ships, and eight fire ships up the Medway; and, a strong easterly wind and spring tide having carried 41 them with resistless force, the chain laid across the river was presently broken, and the large Dutch prizes we had taken in that war were burnt, together with one of our own first rates, the Royal Oak. This calamity was likewise attended with the destruction of the Royal London, the Great James, and the capture of the hull of the Royal Charles. After which Van Ghent returned triumphant, and rejoined Admiral De Ruyter in the Nore, with only the loss of two ships, which ran on shore, and were burnt, by his own people.
The present naval dock ranges along the eastern bank of the river for near a mile in length; the improvements and additional buildings it has received within a few years are astonishing. The sail loft, in which the sails are made, is 209 feet in length, and the largest store house 660. The spacious apartments and work rooms convey a grand idea of their contents; and the regular mode in 42 which every branch of business is here conducted, for the public service, must be highly to every well-wisher of his country. In such precise order is each article here arranged as, on any emergency, to be drawn forth with so little confusion, that a first rate man of war has often been equipped for sea in a few weeks. I am informed that in time of war the persons employed in and about this yard exceed three thousand.
The royal wharf, in which the guns belonging to the shipping in the river are deposited, the huge pyramids of cannon balls, and vast range of storehouses, in which are deposited every species of hostile weapons, one would suppose need only to be shewn to the enemy, to intimidate them from an attack.
The noble fund established under the appellation of The Chest at Chatham, was instituted in 1588, under the direction of Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins; when 43 every man voluntarily assigned a portion of his pay to the succour of his wounded fellow. The institution was sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth and has continued ever since.
The name of this place is thought to be derived from the Saxon words cyte, a cottage, and ham, a village; i. e. the village of cottages.
In the time of Edward the Confessor, it was in the possession of Goodwin, Earl of Kent, from whom it descended to his elder son Harold, afterwards King of England; and upon his defeat at the battle of Hastings to William the Conqueror, who gave it to his half brother Odo, Bishop of Baieux, created Earl of Kent. On his disgrace, it came to the family of De Crevequer, and was the Caput Baroniæ, or principal manor of their barony: and, according to Philipot, 44 they were frequently styled Domini De Cetham. In our time it has given the title of Earl to a late able and deservedly popular Minister.
This place has ever been considered as a Roman station; and in its vicinity many vestiges have, within a few years, been discovered to prove the assertion; such as graves, broken urns, lachrymatories, beads, Roman coins, &c.
On breaking up the ground about ten years since near Upberry farm, which is on a line with Chatham church, a strong foundation of a building was discovered very near the surface of the earth, which contained several apartments floored with sand. The inner side of the walls were painted in fresco, with red, blue, and green spots.
The Roman road has evidently passed 45 from Chatham hill, in a straight direction towards St. Margaret’s church, Rochester. The tumuli and other sepulchral remains prove this vicinity to have been a common burial place in the time of the Romans.
At Horsted, near the town, Horsa, brother to Hengist, is reported to have been slain by Cartigern, and buried on this spot, but no traces of a monument are to be found of that celebrated Saxon warrior.
The village of Brompton is happily situated for the purposes to which it is applied; its wholesome air, and easy ascent from Chatham, rendering every accommodation for the use of the mariners and soldiery that occupy the barracks so judiciously erected there. The view from hence is rich and extensive; it comprizes the river Thames in the distance, a fertile and varied 46 combination of objects composed of hills and dales, oatlands and hop-grounds, together with the meandring of the Medway beneath. Descending from this eminence, by a sudden bend of the river, we pass the chalky cliffs of Frindsbury, which, with the village church on its summit, form no unpleasing landscape. In digging within this cliff there has been recently discovered at a distance of fifteen or sixteen feet from the surface, a leaden coffin in the ancient circular form, with a cross on one side, and a number of figures indented thereon in the form of large cockle shells. The coffin was broken to pieces in digging it out; but within it was found a small vessel about seven inches high, evidently formed of Roman earth, and containing about a pint; it is now in my possession. How this coffin came thus enclosed in the centre of a mass of chalk cliff, and at such a great distance 47 from the surface, is matter of astonishment, and more than I can any way explain.
The village of Frindsbury is situated on an eminence which commands an extensive and noble prospect of the Medway, Rochester bridge, castle, and town, with the hills of Kent, giving a rich and beautiful distance.
Frindsbury is of great antiquity. Its manor, and appendages, with other possessions, were surrendered into the King’s hands at the dissolution of the priory of Rochester, in the thirty-second year of Henry VIII. who next year settled it on the new founded Dean and Chapter of Rochester, with whom this inheritance now continues.
A singular custom used to be annually observed on May-day by the boys of Frindsbury, 48 and the neighbouring town of Stroud; they met on Rochester bridge, where a skirmish ensued between them. This combat probably derived its origin from a drubbing received by the Monks of Rochester, in the reign of Edward I. These Monks, on occasion of a long drought, set out on a procession to Frindsbury to pray for rain; but the day proving windy they apprehended their lights would be blown out, their banners tossed about, and their order much discomposed; they therefore requested of the master of Stroud hospital leave to pass through the orchard of his house, which he granted without the permission of his brethren, who, when they heard what the master had done, instantly hired a company of ribalds, armed with clubs and bats, who waylaid the poor Monks in the orchard, and gave them a severe beating. The Monks desisted from proceeding that way, but soon 49 after found out a pious mode of revenge, by obliging the men of Frindsbury, with due humility, to come yearly on Whit-Monday, with their clubs, in procession, to Rochester, as a penance for their crimes. Hence probably came the by-word of Frindsbury clubs, and the custom before alluded to.
Within the church is a curious inscription, which we hope is not to be considered either as a proof of the piety of its inhabitants, or of their love to the poor: It runs thus, “A list of sundry pious persons, who, loving this place, have left the following benefactions to the poor.” There is not a single name of a benefactor upon the stone; but at the bottom is written, to certify this lack of charity,
“Witness our hands,
“Willm Gibbons, Vicar.”
Within this parish, to the south of the London road, is an once famous pond, anciently called St. Thomas’s watering place: It was used by the pilgrims, who, travelling to Canterbury to make their offering at Becket’s Shrine, possibly might honour this place of refreshment with the Saint’s name.
Another place, bearing the same appellation is still to be found at the end of Kent street road, near London. It is at present used for watering horses, but not pilgrims. It is probably to this spot that Chaucer alludes in his prologue to one of his Canterbury Tales.
“A morrow when the day gan to spring
“Up rose our host, and was our alder cocke,
“And gadird us togedirs on a flocke;
“And forth we ridden, a little more than paas,
“Unto the watering of Saint Thomas;
“And then our host began his horse arrest.”
In the town of Stroud little occurs worth recording. It formerly bore the appellation of Stroud Temple, from the manor having been granted by Henry II. to the Knights Templars, whose mansion stood in the southern part of this parish, near the banks of the Medway, and of which I shall speak farther in the next section.
Stroud is principally supported by the oyster fishery, which is conducted by a company called Free Dredgers. Seven years apprenticeship entitles to the freedom of this company; and all persons catching oysters, who are not members, are subject to a penalty, and are termed cable hangers. The company frequently buy brood or spat from other parts, which they lay in this river, where they soon arrive at maturity. Holland, Westphalia, and other countries are from hence supplied with great quantities of oysters.52
Admiral De Ruyter, about seven years after, reminded him of his neglected duty
[This happened in the first part of June 1667, making it sound as if Charles II made grandiose promises immediately upon his restoration, and then never thought about it again. There is, of course, more to it. The incident is summed up as “The Royal Navy’s Darkest Day”.]
highly gratifying to every well-wisher of his country
text has gratifing
i. e. the village of cottages
[As opposed to what—the village of mansions? of barns? of A-frame ski lodges? The “cyte” (cottage) etymology doesn’t seem to be much in favor in the present century, though there is disagreement about what the first syllable of “Chatham” does mean. Maybe a forest, maybe a valley, maybe some other geographical feature.]
“A list of sundry pious persons, who, loving this place, have left the following benefactions to the poor.” There is not a single name of a benefactor upon the stone
[Ethel Merman’s autobiography includes a chapter called “My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine”. It is the only chapter with a title. To make up for it, the chapter contains no other text.]
WE now approach the venerable city of Rochester, which, in point of antiquity, is inferior to few in the kingdom, having been founded as early as the year 43, when Plautus came into Britain. Justus, one of the missionaries who came over with Augustine to convert the Saxons, was his first bishop. On the declension of the Roman empire it obtained the name of Ruibis, to which the Saxons added Chester, which signifies a city or castle, since which it appears from a foundation charter of the cathedral, that, in modern latinity, it has received the appellation of Roffa. It was formerly considered rather as a castle than a city, and is emphatically called by the venerable Bede the Kentishmen’s54
The ancient gothic bridge of Rochester is the first object that presents itself in that line of critical observation which we have proposed in this work. It is built of stone, and consists of eleven pointed arches, supported by substantial piers, which are, on each side, well secured by angular sterlings. In length it is 566 feet, but in breadth only 14, a space so confined and narrow as to render the passage, more than incommodious, from the great traffic carrying on here. In the construction of this bridge, unquestionably our ancestors acted wisely in making strength their first object, as the body of water that falls through the arches flows with a torrent and rapidity equal to any thing that I remember to have noticed.
From the best authority, this bridge appears to have been compleated about the fifteenth year of Richard II. and principally by the aid of Sir Robert Knollis, who, from 55 an obscure origin, had, by his military exploits in the reign of Edward III. raised himself to such eminence and distinction, as enabled him to return laden with the spoils of France. This gallant Knight having, at the gates of Paris, displayed the banner of his victorious sovereign, upon his return home, with the concurrence of Sir John De Cobham De Kent, petitioned that certain lands which had formerly been contributory to the repair of this structure, might be appropriated to these uses, and that two wardens should be appointed to superintend the application and receive the profits, and that they might be permitted to purchase further to the yearly value of five hundred marks.
In this petition was set down very accurately in feet, inches, and quarters of inches, the proportion of the repairs belonging to each division, according to the ancient regulation of the lands contributory; 56 for which proportion they are still liable to be called upon, if the rents of the fee-simple estates belonging to the body corporate of the bridge should prove insufficient. It underwent considerable repairs in the succeeding reigns; but in that of Henry VII. received the most essential, for, in his fifth year, during the primary of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, this delight of heaven did not hesitate to publish a remission of sins for forty days to all such persons who would contribute any thing towards the repair of this very useful, if not pious work. It would have been creditable to the Roman Catholic faith if the pecuniary advantages arising from absolution had never been worse applied! To these repentant sinners it is that the bridge owes part of its coping and iron railing. It was completed by the bounty of one John Warner, a Monk of Rochester, in the succeeding reign.57
The former bridge was of wood, the first mention of which is in the reign of Henry III. though it is highly probable that some structure of this kind existed at a much earlier period; for Ernulfus, Bishop of Rochester, in that reign, who collected the records contained in the Textus Roffensis, inserts there several ancient regulations for the repairs of Rochester bridge; which old bridge was situated lower down on the river, and on a line with the principal streets of Stroud and Rochester.
It is now supposed to be seven hundred years since the building of Rochester castle, which Lambard conjectures was the work of William the Conqueror. Other writers say it was only repaired by him after the damage it had sustained by the Danes, and that he garrisoned it with five hundred soldiers. It is certainly well situated to guard the important pass over the 58 Medway; and from the defence it has frequently made during the conflicts between the Barons and the Kings of England, may justly be considered as having been a place of considerable strength. The castle is nearly quadrangular, including a space of about three hundred feet. Its walls appear to have been seven feet thick, and twenty feet higher than the present level of the ground.
This castle was, in the time of William the Conqueror, in the custody of his bastard brother Odo, Bishop of Baieux, a turbulent prelate, who, after the death of his sovereign, raised an insurrection in the county of Kent; where he destroyed and pillaged many places; and removed his plunder from thence to Pevensey castle, in Sussex; where, from famine, he was obliged to surrender himself, after a six weeks siege, to William Rufus. Among other conditions he bound himself to deliver up Rochester castle to the 59 King; but, using his accustomed fraud and dissimulation, in many articles of this treaty, the King found it necessary to invest the castle of Rochester, which, by a vigorous attack, he soon compelled to surrender; and the treacherous Bishop was committed prisoner to Tunbridge castle. In this siege the castle of Rochester received considerable damage, and the means by which this damage was soon afterwards repaired were afforded by a singular circumstance, which is thus recorded in story. The King, irritated by the conduct of Gundulph, the Bishop, whom he had good reason to suppose false to his interest at the late dispute, refused to ratify a grant of the manor of Hedenham, in the county of Bucks, to the church of Rochester, unless he had one hundred pounds for so doing; this being opposed both by Gundulph and the Metropolitan, Henry, Earl of Warwick, and Robert Fitzhaman interfered, and proposed, as 60 mediators, that, instead of paying that sum, the Bishop should build for the King a “tower of stone” at his own expence, within the castle of Rochester. This was at first strenuously resisted, lest the repair and maintenance of this building should likewise fall on them. At length, being freed from this apprehension, Gundulph agreed to expend sixty pounds in erecting the square tower, now known by the name of Gundulph’s Tower. From the smallness of the sum, and the short time the prelate lived, there is great reason to believe that the building was not completed by him.
This quadrangular tower stands at the south-east corner of the castle, and constitutes the principal part now remaining; with its embattlements it is one hundred and twelve feet in height, having at each angle another small tower twelve feet square. In the third floor of this building, in which 61 were the apartments of state, we find a superior display of skill in the architect. The four grand arches which separate the rooms, still retain some curious fragments of gothic ornaments; and throughout the whole building there is evidently an appearance of convenience and strength, that cannot fail to excite admiration, and fix the attention of every judicious observer.
This tower is so conspicuous an object as to be discernible at a distance of twenty miles; and from its summit we command a grand and extensive prospect of the river Medway, comprizing views both above and below the bridge, even to its conflux with the Thames.
Divers lands in this and other counties are held of this castle, the tenures of which are perfect castle guard; for every tenant who does not duly discharge his proper 62 rent, suit, and services, is liable to have it doubled on the return of every tide of the Medway, during the time it remains unpaid, according to the ancient custom of this manor. On St. Andrew’s day, old style, the ceremony of hanging out a banner at the house of the receiver of the rents is still preserved.
The remains of this venerable pile afford an ample subject for the contemplative mind, viewing its present ruinated state, and considering it as having been, within seven hundred years, the pride of so many contending powers; and to have witnessed so many generations, under whose controul it has been supported, all of whom are now swept away; and of whose greatness and achievements tradition affords such slender and indefinite record that we are left to seek the hero’s fame
——“In the dropping ruins of his amphitheatre.”
The venerable gothic cathedral of Rochester was rebuilt in 1077, by the same Gundulph, who was the thirtieth Bishop of this see. The grand western entrance to this building is truly a curious fragment of gothic sculpture. devices of figures, animals, and flowers, though unconnected as a history, are yet striking instances of the minute application and industry of our ancestors: It has no doubt lost much of its original magnificence; yet on the pillars are still remaining two carved statues representing the patrons of the architect, Henry I. and his Queen Matilda, who, according to the following epitaph of Matthew Prior, on that Empress, was buried in this cathedral.
“Ortu magna, viro major, sed maxima partu,
“Hic jacet Henrici filia, sponsa, parens.”
There appears on the entrance to the choir a heaviness in the pillars, and too great a prevalence 64 of the Saxon style of architecture: The different periods in which this building was erected are easily traced by the distinctions of the Saxon and Gothic style, in which the beautiful symmetry of the latter is highly conspicuous. The arch of the chapter house is richly ornamented with devices, and is a beautiful specimen of antiquity; it has not suffered so much by time as many other similar works of more modern date.
The ornamental parts of this cathedral are well preserved in a series of engravings recently made; and the judicious repairs and improvements now carrying on in this church, for the purpose of removing the thick coats of plaster, which covered the pillars, &c. will happily restore them to their native beauty. They are formed of Petworth marble.
Much praise is due to the Dean and Chapter 65 of this cathedral, who have, with such laudable respect and taste, evinced their zeal for the preservation of the gothic beauties of this venerable structure.
The good sense of the present day is likewise shewn in the new regulations which have taken place in the collegiate body: they have enabled the Chapter to make a valuable addition to their library, by calling upon every member, dean, and prebendary, at the time of his admission, to apply a sum of money in the purchase of books, instead of wasting it in a costly entertainment.
In this library is the well-known and curious manuscript, called the Textus Roffensis, a work chiefly compiled in the twelfth century. This valuable work was lost for a considerable time, during the troubles in the last century, and was very near being 66 irrecoverably so in the present, having been borrowed by Doctor Harris, for the use of his intended history of this county. It was forwarded to London in a vessel which was overset in its passage, and the book lay for several hours under water, by which accident it received considerable damage.
The see of Rochester has had ninety Prelates, of whom the remains of twenty-three are deposited in this cathedral. Four of their monuments still exist; one of them is that of Gundulph, who was interred here in 1107. His tomb adjoins the communion-table.
At a small distance, south of the castle, is Bully, or Boley, hill, an eminence, in all probability raised by the Danes about the ninth century, when they laid siege to this city. There are several handsome houses built on this spot, particularly that of Mrs. 67 Gordon, on the summit of the hill, which commands a delightful view of the Medway, Rochester bridge, Chatham dock, &c.
A little to the west of this hill, nearer to the river, is the residence of recorder of this city, a house erected on the site of an ancient seat formerly belonging to Mr. Watts, who represented this city in parliament in the fifth year of Elizabeth, and had the honour of entertaining her Majesty on her return from an excursion round the counties of Sussex and Kent, in 1573. At her departure, her host making an apology for his house, as being too small and humble for the reception of a royal guest, the Queen, looking round, expressed her full approbation of the place and manner in which she had been received, by the Latin word SATIS, since which time the house has borne that appellation.68
It is to this worthy representative that the city owes many of its benefactions, particularly one, which is no less singular than conspicuous. In the principal street of the town, a stone inscription proclaims in broad characters, “that any six poor travellers, not rogues or proctors, may here receive gratis, for one night, lodging, entertainment, and four-pence each.”
How proctors and rogues became coupled in this good man’s interdiction, we are not satisfactorily informed; but it has been whispered that Mr. Watts being in a bad state of health, and having employed one of that civil profession to make his will, he therein placed himself in too advantageous a point of view, and being of opinion that “charity begins at home,” perverted his employer’s benevolent intention, and gave to himself that which was dedicated to God and to pious uses.69
Upon the detection of this fraud, the testator appears to have been earnest to transmit to posterity, in the style and description of his charity, the character and profession of the miscreant, who had in this manner attempted to abuse his trust.
The sum bequeathed for the annual support of this charity in 1579, amounted to thirty-six pounds, which estate now produces a nett yearly income of five hundred.70
to which the Saxons added Chester, which signifies a city or castle
[That makes it sound as if the author thinks “chester” is an Anglo-Saxon word. It’s really the Latin element -caster after going through Anglo-Saxon phonetic changes.]
called by the venerable Bede the Kentishmen’s castle.
In the dropping ruins of his amphitheatre
[Abraham Cowley (1618–1667), “Life and Fame”, end of second stanza.]
It’s devices of figures, animals, and flowers
Henrici filia, sponsa, parens
[Matilda was the daughter of one Henry (a Holy Roman Emperor, I think, but don’t quote me), wife of another, and mother of a third, England’s Henry II. The epitaph is an elegiac couplet.]
John Longley, Esq. the present recorder of this city
corrected by author from Joseph Brooke, Esq. recorder
[Did Joseph Brooke die immediately before the book went to print, or did the author get his notes mixed up?]
FROM Temple Farm, on the western bank of the Medway, the majestic ruins of Rochester castle, its venerable bridge, and cathedral, appear combined in a very advantageous point of view. The white and mouldering cliff on which the castle stands is beautifully broken by the verdant clumps of trees that here and there diversify the chalky margin of a stream which, here losing its impetuosity, may be truly denominated a ‘Gentle river.’
The house, which appears in the annexed view, bears the appellation of Temple 72 Farm, and is within the parish of Stroud. The manor on which this farm-house stands derives its name of Temple Manor from having been possessed by the monks and brethren of the militia of the temple of Solomon, called the Knights Templars, who had a noble mansion on this spot in the reign of Henry II. This gift was confirmed to them by King John, and likewise by Henry III. but in the reign of Edward II. these unfortunate Knights Templars, under the pretence of their leading a vicious course of life, were seized and imprisoned, and their land and goods confiscated; but as it is well known that they had amassed much wealth and furniture not usually to be met with in the coffers of the dissipated and profligate, there is too much reason to suppose, that if it was for any sin, it must have been for that of avarice that they were thus visited by the hand of rapine. Be this 73 as it may, in the sixth year of that reign, anno 1312, the order was dissolved. Pope Clement V. granted the whole of their lands and goods to another religious order, called the Knights Hospitallers. Those lands, although confirmed to them by the King, were yet, at least the greater portion of them, dealt out to his friends and favourites amongst the laity. This abuse induced the succeeding Pope John to thunder out his bulls, curses, and excommunications, in no gentle degree against Earls, Barons, Knights, and such other Laymen as became possessed of them; and in the next year the Sovereign relenting, they were devoted to their former pious uses, and became again the sole property of the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem. From these Knights the King (Edward the Second) by some means or other obtained a grant of the fee-simple of their lands, in the eighteenth year of his reign; and in consequence directed the Sheriff of 74 Kent to take the same into his hands, and account for them in the Exchequer.
Edward III. gave this manor to Mary, Countess of Pembroke, who bestowed it on the Abbess and Sisters Minories of St. Clare, of Deni Abbey, in Cambridgeshire, in whose possession it remained till the dissolution; since which, having passed through many hands, it is now the property of Mr. Whitaker. Only a small part of the mansion remains, which is converted into a farm house, where one large room, up stairs, which overlooks the river, appears to be of the time of Elizabeth, and has since that period undergone little alteration. Beneath this building is a spacious vault of stone and chalk, in which the Knights Templars occasionally assembled; and, though of very ancient date, is yet in a perfect state of preservation. Its walls are of a great thickness, and the groined arches, as expressed in the annexed outline, 75 have suffered little from the depredations of time.
On the opposite bank of the Medway the church of St. Margaret, which is in the parish of Rochester, its ivy-mantled tower, and picturesque situation, equally claim the notice of the antiquary and the admirer of beautiful landscape.
One of our Saxon Kings is reported to have been buried in this church; and 76 against the east wall, in the south chancel, is a curious ancient bust of a man in robes, with a coronet on his head. In the reign of Charles II. according to Harris’s History of Kent, a coronet, set round with precious stones, was dug up in this churchyard. At Cockstone, on the western bank of the river, recently stood an ancient family seat, belonging to Lord Romney, of which little except the garden walls is now remaining. No wonder it has been deserted; its situation is so near the river, and the very limited space between the building and the rising ground behind it, seems to have pointed it out as not having originally been a very eligible spot for the purposes of a comfortable dwelling: on its site is erected a considerable lime-kiln.
North of Cockstone we approach the noble park of Cobham, amidst whose shady and venerable oaks appears, from the bank 77 of the river, the newly-erected mausoleum of Lord Darnley. This expensive stone edifice is from a design of the ingenious Mr. Wyatt, and is in the Doric order; its parts and ornaments are judiciously placed, and cannot fail to attract the attention as well as command the admiration of every observer of taste. But from this applause we must except the pyramidical finish at top, which is both ponderous and unmeaning; and, with all deference to the skill of its architect, would have had a more pleasing, and certainly a more classical effect, had it been finished with a circular dome: I am informed that this angular top is to be removed. The upper part of this building is intended as a family chapel; its decorations are simple, and well suited to the solemn purposes of prayer: beneath it is the burial vault, in which are recesses intended to receive the last remains of human greatness; for which awful ceremony every part is judiciously 78 adapted, and its sequestered situation renders it a scene where (if such a wish had ever existed, but in the flight of poetry)
“Kings for such a tomb would wish to die.”
This celebrated mausoleum is reported to have cost ten thousand pounds.
The noble family mansion, within this park, derived its name of Cobham Hall from its former possessors, the eminent family of Cobham, who, from historical accounts as early as King John, have in every department filled the highest posts of trust and honour with superior lustre to themselves, and credit to their country. In the first year of James I. Henry Lord Cobham, with his brother George, Sir Walter Raleigh and others, having been accused of conspiring to kill the King, were brought to trial at Winchester; they were attainted, and judgment of death was passed on 79 them; George was beheaded; and though the sentence was not executed on Lord Cobham, his estate was forfeited to the Crown. He survived his disgrace many years, and died without issue, January 1619, in a state of poverty bordering upon wretchedness.
The manor, with Cobham Hall, came thus by attainder to the Crown, from whence it was granted to Lodowick Stuart, Duke of Lenox, kinsman to James I. from whose family, by intermarriages, it devolved to its present noble possessor, the Earl of Darnley.
The center of this stately building is the work of Inigo Jones; the staircase is spacious, and the music-gallery is richly adorned with ornaments well conceived for grandeur of effect, and is, on the whole, worthy the taste of its architect. The wings are of more ancient date, but have been new cased with 80 brick, and rendered uniform with the other part of the building.
In a large room the arms of Elizabeth still remain, and near them an inscription, which relates to her having been entertained in this mansion. Cobham Hall, with the outhouses, is reported to have cost sixty thousand pounds. The park is large, but not so extensive as formerly; it is famed for its stately timber trees, particularly its oaks, some of which are upwards of twenty feet in circumference; and by their venerable appearance justify the poet’s opinion.
“The monarch oak,
“Three centuries he grows, and three he stays
“Supreme in state, and in three more decays.”
In the grove in this park is a remarkable chesnut-tree, called the Four Sisters, from its dividing itself into four large arms; it is thirty-two feet in circumference. The venison 81 of this park is, from the quality of the herbage on which it is fed, esteemed to be superior in flavour to that of almost any other in the country.
In Cobham church are several well sculptured monuments of the Cobham family, some of them in a superior style of execution.82
[Illustration] Temple Farm Strood
[Throughout the book, including the List of Illustrations, it is spelled “Stroud”. The author’s earlier Picturesque Views on the Thames was similarly plagued by engraved captions choosing to go their own way when it came to orthography.]
the militia of the temple of Solomon, called the Knights Templars
[At time of preparation, I am reading Foucault’s Pendulum, which has A Great Deal to say about the Templars.]
I am informed that this angular top is to be removed
[Hasn’t happened yet; in fact current photographs suggest that the pyramid is even pointier than in the engraving. Although Ireland doesn’t say so—he may not have known—the mausoleum was never properly consecrated, and therefore nobody is actually entombed there.]
the poet’s opinion
[Dryden, Palæmon and Arcite. It would probably be unkind to suggest that our author cribbed the passage from Elegant Extracts. In any case the nine-hundred-year lifespan (300 + 300 + 300) is probably an exaggeration. A few sources say “up to 1000 years” but most are content with three or four hundred.]
PASSING the ancient village of Woldham, which lies on the eastern bank of the Medway, little variation of scenery occurs, till we approach the extensive ruins of Halling-house, formerly one of the four splendid residences of the Bishops of Rochester. In the reign of Edward II. Hamo de Heth, the then Bishop, and who was consecrated at Avignon, in 1319, expended considerable sums in repairs and additions, on this once spacious building, by erecting a hall and chapel, the remains of which are only to be traced by fragments of ruinated walls.
This simple edifice and these humble roofs, dedicated only to God and Religion, yet 84 remain. The loftier domes and marble towers, in which hierarchy, the invention of man, lifted its mitred front, have mouldered away.
A stone figure, we are told, about two feet high, of Hamo, the Bishop, in his episcopal robes, once stood in a recess over the principal entrance to the house. This statue was blown down about the year 1720, but was preserved by Dr. Thorpe, of Rochester, and presented by him to Dr. Atterbury, then Bishop of that See. The manor of Halling was given to the See of Rochester, by Egbert, King of Kent; the deed is said to have been witnessed by one Hetbert, who is also styled, King of Kent; hence it appears, that this part of the realm gave a royal title to more than one personage, an opinion that is fortified by another authority, a gift made by Offa, King of the Mercians, to Erdulph, Bishop 85 of Rochester, in which the same Hetbert is mentioned with Sigaered, who is styled “Rex Dimidiæ partis Provinciæ Cantuariorum.”
A circumstance occurs in the history of Halling-house, that confirms the idea of the early introduction and culture of the vine in this kingdom; for, when King Edward II. was at Bokinfold, in this county, in the nineteenth year of his reign, in his way towards France, it appears that the same Hamo, our sumptuous Bishop, who was also confessor to the King, sent him thither a present of his drinks, and withal both wine and grapes of his own growth from his vineyard, at Halling. This likewise countenances the opinion, that the word Vinæ, mentioned in Doomsday Book (contrary to the sentiment of some writers) meant something more than the mere plantation of apples and pears; and it may reasonably be supposed that, from its contiguity to France, 86 the attempt to naturalize this seducing and delicious stranger, would first be made in this county; and as far as respects the delicacy of its constitution, a kindlier aspect, and a more favourable disposition of the ground, better sheltered from the east and north, could hardly be imagined for the purpose of making the experiment.
Halling derived its name from its healthy situation, and signifies, in the Saxon tongue, a wholesome low place, or meadow, according to the ingenious perambulator, Lambard, who lived a considerable time in this house, and who emphatically says, “At this place of the Bishop in Halling, I am drawing on the last scene of my life, where God hath given me liberorum quadrigam, all the fruite that ever I had.”
From this extensive remain of antiquity various windings of the river afford a continual 87 diversity of scenery, which though not grand, yet, in a peculiar degree, partakes of the simple and beautiful; rich meadows, with gently rising hills and village spires, happily interspersed, forming the general character of the landscape.
Passing Snodeland, the lowly situation of Burham church, which is nearly on the opposite Bank of the Medway, produces a beautiful effect; the high chalk and gravelly bank, which form the margin of the river, give a good foreground to the landscape; while, in the distance, a fine screen of hills running nearly parallel with the river terminates the scene.
The vicinity of Burham is famed for its abundant pits of potters’ clay. At New Hythe the river scenery conveys to the mind more the idea of a stream running through a garden, than that of a navigable 88 river, by which so considerable an extent of country is so highly benefited; the borders are beautifully shaded with young oaks and other trees; whilst its meandering course and contracted space add much to the simplicity and serenity of the scene. I shall hence take leave to digress a little and conduct my reader to the remains of Malling abbey, which, from its contiguity to a rivulet that falls into the Medway, may properly be considered as relative to the present pursuit.
The venerable remains of this abbey, in the annexed sketch, are taken in so different a point of view from all others that have come to my knowledge, that I flatter myself it will, in its place, be as acceptable as any yet presented to the public.
The similarity in the style of architecture between this front and that of Rochester 89 cathedral, evidently points out the time of its erection, and strongly confirms the truth of the historical account of its foundation. From every circumstance it is more than probable that Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, by whom it was founded, was likewise its architect: the intersecting arches, zig-zag ornaments, and other decorations similar to those of Rochester, give additional force to the opinion.
The Abbey was founded in 1090, in the fourth year of the reign of William Rufus, as a benedictine nunnery, and dedicated to the honour of the Virgin Mary. Gundulph, the founder, unwilling to trust a female to preside over this abbey during his life, continued himself its governor, and, when nearly at the point of death, empowered one Alicia to take upon herself the character of Abbess after his decease; but even to her he refused delivering either the pastoral staff, gloves, 90 or ring, till she had promised canonical obedience to the See of Rochester, and had taken an oath not to admit either Abbess or Nun into the house without the consent and privity of his successor.
There is something singular in the mode in which the original charter of the lands of this manor was granted in 945, by Edmund, King of Mercia, and the Angles, and Burkie, Bishop of Rochester. This charter, after having been signed by the King, the Archbishops, and Bishops, is then signed by Ælfgifu, the King’s concubine, who there describes herself “Ego Ælfgifu concubina Regis affui:” after this follow the names of the Dukes, &c. &c.
The solemn manner in which this lady’s name is inserted as a witness with the first personages in the kingdom, and that to a religious grant, proves that concubinage at 91 that time was not held in disgrace, however inferior to marriage: this custom most likely originated from the laws of the Romans, which not suffering a man to marry a woman greatly his inferior in birth and condition, yet permitted him to keep her as a concubine; not that this relation stands merely upon heathen authority; for, in later times, Popes have allowed concubines: and the Council of Toledo have humanely given a man permission to keep one woman without excommunication, in case she should serve him as a wife. This relaxation of the austerity in religious manners, inclines one to think, that, in announcing their indulgencies, these holy fathers and synods were not unmindful of themselves, and affords an additional proof of the truth of that adage which us,
“A fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind.”
At the dissolution, this abbey was surrendered 92 into the king’s hands by Margaret Vernon, its abbess, and the convent in 1538, at which time it was valued, according to Dugdale, at two hundred and eighteen pounds four shillings and two pence halfpenny clear income: at that period it came to Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, then to Sir Henry Brooke, &c.; and, about the time of the Restoration, to the family of the Honeywoods, whose descendant, Mr. Frazer Honeywood, banker of London, has, within a few years, almost rebuilt the abbey-house as a family residence, in the gothic style, leaving however many of the ancient buildings and offices standing: part of the house appears in the annexed view.
By some vestiges still remaining, we find that the abbey consisted of two quadrangles, with cloisters, and a spacious hall. Here are to be found extensive gardens, a beautiful rivulet of excellent clear water; and in the 93 neighbouring meadows, rich in soil, the remains of their fish-ponds, with every circumstance to render religious retirement palatable;
“For what Jesuit priest e’er took in hand
“To plant a church in barren land.”
The remain of Leyborne Castle, in this vicinage, though now merely a farm-house, and greatly in decay, is yet an object worthy of the pencil; and, even from its present appearance, painfully recalls to the mind its wasted honours and lost importance. All that exists of this castle, is the stone work of the chief entrance, with a great part of the circular towers on each side, and a few fragments of arches and walls: the traces of the ditch which surrounded it, are also still visible.
Over the gate appears to have been a machicolation, or contrivance, from whence stones, boiling water, or melted lead, might be poured down on the heads of the besiegers. 94 The castle seems, by the fragments of its walls still remaining, to have been a place of considerable extent.
Leyborne is called in ancient records Lilleborne, or Lytlan-borne, probably from the little brook or bourn which runs through this parish: Lytlan signifies, in old English, LITTLE.
On the disgrace of Odo, Bishop of Baieux, half-brother to William the Conqueror, Leyborne came into the hands of the Crown; after which, in the reign of Richard I., it was in the possession of Sir Roger de Leyborne, who, about that time, erected this castellated mansion. His son, William de Leyborne, had here the honor of entertaining Edward I. At length, in the time of Edward III. this castle, after having passed through the hands of several noble owners, was, with its appurtenances, granted by charter for the endowment 95 of a newly-founded Cistercian abbey, called St. Mary Graces, near the Tower of London; in which tenure it remained till the dissolution, from whence it has, after many changes, come into the possession of its present owner, Henry Hawley, Esq. of the Grange, in this parish.
Hence, returning to the river, we pass Mill-hall, a pleasant and retired village, whose inhabitants seem to derive their principal happiness, from undisturbed repose and those sources of industry, which are constantly supplied, upon the banks of this beautiful and navigable current. Near this rural scene, on the margin of the river, the eye is gratified with a view of the richest produce of this fruitful country, the flowery HOP,
“Which in the malt’s
“Fermenting tuns infused, to mellow age
“Preserves the potent draught.”
The beautiful and picturesque appearance 96 of this scenery, at the present period, renders it matter of astonishment that it has received so little attention from the pencil of the artist. The of the hop is peculiarly elegant in its form; and the curled tendrils wreathing round its lofty supporters, add greatly to the beauty of this luxuriant plant; the growth of which is not unhappily described by Phillips in his popular poem on Cyder;
“Lo! on auxiliary poles, the hops
“Ascending spiral, rang’d in meet array!
“Transporting prospect! These, as modern use
“Ordains, infus’d, an auburn drink compose,
“Wholesome, of deathless fame.”
This epithet of WHOLESOME, applied by our poet to a plant which has so long and so universally been infused in that which is the natural, and was once the favourite beverage of our countrymen, does not of itself seem to carry enough of compliment, unless we suppose it introduced by him for the purpose of adding the weight of his authority in opposition 97 to an opinion, which, in one period of our history, seems to have obtained considerable footing—that it was of a pernicious or poisonous quality; and that this was so, we find among other authorities, that, in 1428, the Parliament hops, as a wicked weed: it was introduced into England, in 1524, from the Netherlands; and two years preceding, encouragement by act of Parliament was given to the cultivation of it, by exempting lands employed for these purposes from penalties. The produce to the revenue, in modern times, from the increased trade in this article amounted, in the year 1791, to ninety thousand and fifty-nine pounds one shilling and ten pence.
The sketch annexed, though not avowedly a portrait of the place, will give some idea of the happy scenery which presents itself at the hour of noon. The cheerful countenance of the hop-gatherer, just quitting 98 his labour, the younger dancing round the loaded poles; and the more aged spreading his humble repast on the scattered leaves, while each in his turn
“Crowns high the goblet, and with cheerful draught
“Enjoys the present hour, adjourns the future thought.”
The tythe on this plant, which has so long been matter of discontent among the planters, it is reported, is like to be adjusted by a composition of twelve shillings an acre, instead of being paid in kind, which composition will probably yield more than the sum arising from the present mode of collecting.
the early introduction and culture of the vine in this kingdom
[It didn’t last, although in recent decades there has been a minor resurgence in English viniculture.]
the founder, unwilling to trust a female to preside over this abbey
[Silly man. In double monasteries, the overall head was more often than not the abbess, probably for practical reasons. Upper-class women—the ones most likely to end up as Abbess—would have had much more experience running a large household than the average man.]
Ælfgifu, the King’s concubine
[That would be “Aelfgifu of Shaftesbury”, so called to distinguish her from the numerous other Aelfgifus running around at the time. Witnessing charters seems to have been in the job description for women with this name; it was by no means as “singular” as our author suggests.]
the laws of the Romans, which not suffering a man to marry a woman greatly his inferior in birth and condition
[As memorialized in Goodbye Mr. Chips:
Whenever his Roman History forms came to deal with the Lex Canuleia, the law that permitted patricians to marry plebeians, Chips used to add: “So that, you see, if Miss Plebs wanted Mr. Patrician to marry her, and he said he couldn’t, she probably replied: ‘Oh yes, you can, you liar!’” ]
the truth of that adage which tells us
text has tell us
The leasing of the hop is peculiarly elegant in its form
text unchanged: error for leafing?
[In the long-ſ era, swapping ſ and f was as common as mixing up n and u. But, for aught I know to the contrary, “leasing hops” might be a once-familiar term of art.]
the Parliament petitioned against hops
text has Parliament petitioneda gainst
ON our approach to Aylesford, at an easy bend of the river, the eye is suddenly attracted with the beautiful seat of the Countess of Aylesford, called The Friars.
The situation of this venerable mansion, which is close to the banks of the Medway, comprizes, in one point of view, the most perfect landscape I have yet met with on this river. In this view is included the ancient church of Aylesford, at a distance of about half a mile, part of the village is happily revealed from behind a verdant intervening slope, and the gothic bridge beneath is, in part, so happily concealed by the hand of nature, as to appear the design of art.100
The Priory, or Friars, was founded in the 25th year of Henry III. in 1240, by Radulphus Frisburne, under the patronage of Richard, Lord Grey, of Codnor, for Friars Carmelites, a religious order not before known in this country. This Lord, having been in the wars in Palestine, visited Mount Carmel, and noticing the austere mode of living among the hermits there, he determined on establishing, at his return, an order on the same rigid plan in Aylesford wood.
In 1245, the monasteries of this order having considerably increased, a general chapter was held here, in which one John Stock, who is reputed to have lived in a hollow tree, was chosen superior general of the societies.
At the dissolution, the Priory of the White Friars, at Aylesford, was given to Sir Thomas 101 Wyatt, and from him devolved to his son, who forfeited it to the Crown, by his rebellion against Queen Mary. Her successor, Elizabeth, gave it to Mr. Sidley, to whose brother, Sir William Sidley, this town is indebted for its bridge; which he built in 1607, together with an hospital. After various alienations this Priory came, at length, into the family of its present noble possessor, whose open hand has, in the feelings of the industrious poor, as much exceeded the dole indiscriminately distributed at the gates of the Priory, as her gentle virtues are in the eye of heaven more acceptable than the pious austerities of its former inhabitants.
Some parts of the Priory still remain, and these are most conspicuous in the kitchen and out-offices.
In the church were interred many of the family of Lord Grey, of Codnor, the Colepeppers, 102 &c.: the monuments of the latter are well preserved.
About a mile to the north, eastward of Aylesford, on an eminence, stands the rude and inexplicable monument of antiquity, called Kit’s Coity-House: it is, with other buildings of the same class, in this country, generally allowed to be a sepulchral monument; and that this pile was erected as a testimony of respect to the memory of Catigern, brother to the King of Britain: he was slain in single combat with Horsa, the Saxon, in 455, who likewise fell in this sharp conflict: Horsa was buried at a place about four miles distant, denominated Horstead; (probably from the name of the hero,) where a number of large stones mark the place of that memorable rencounter.
Kit’s Coity-House consists of four large stones of the pebble kind; the biggest of which is eight feet high, and is conjectured 103 to weigh about eight tons and a half. Neither of them appears to have any mark of the chisel.
About sixty or seventy yards from these stones, I am informed, there formerly lay another of nearly the same size, which may possibly have originally enclosed the eastern part of the fabric that is now open. This stone was buried in the earth a few years since, for the convenience of agriculture, by 104 Mr. Bentham, the present possessor of this land. My late ingenious friend, Grose, in his “Antiquities,” conjectures that the name of Kit, or Cat, may be an abridgment of Catigern; and that in Cornwall, where there are many of those monuments, the stones are called Coits; therefore Kit’s Coity-House may express Catigern’s house, built with Coits.
From Aylesford, the scenery on the Medway affords little variety, till we approach Allington Castle,
which is about two miles distant from Maidstone. This venerable ruin, though within a few yards of the river, is by the range of trees on its bank, nearly excluded from the view. As a picturesque object upon our stream this is a circumstance much to be regretted; and, indeed, its general situation is so circumscribed, as to render it difficult to select a favourable point: I flatter myself however the sketch will be thought to give the most comprehensive idea of this once famous place of defence. This Castle is reported to have been built soon after the Conquest by Earl Warren on the site of one formerly erected by the Saxons. In the time of Henry VII. it became the property of Sir Henry Wyatt, his favourite, and Privy Counsellor, who having been long a prisoner in the Tower, during the reign of Richard III., is said to have been wonderfully preserved, and fed there by a cat; for which reason he is reported to have been painted with that animal 106 in his arms; of this portrait I know nothing: His son Thomas was born in this castle, of whose rare talents every admirer of polite literature in this country, it may be presumed, is acquainted. He is called by Anthony Wood “The Delight of the Muses, and of Mankind;” and Leland, in his poem on his death, entitles him “Incomparabilis.” An invidious, but happy sarcasm of this great man dropt in the willing ear of the succeeding Monarch, Henry VIII., is thought to have been instrumental in promoting the Reformation. He observed “It was a hard thing a man could not repent without the Pope’s leave.”
After the unfortunate death of this accomplished gentleman, the castle and manor became forfeited to the Crown; after which, having passed through many hands, it was, in the year 1720, disposed of by Sir Jacob Astley, its then owner, to Sir Robert Marsham, 107 Baronet, whose son, Lord Romney, is its present possessor.
The remains of this ancient castle are now used as a farm-house; they are of considerable extent, and many of its external parts are in a tolerable good state of preservation. The moat, or ditch, that surrounded it still exists.108
the rude and inexplicable monument of antiquity, called Kit’s Coity-House
[Today spelled “Coty House”. The structure is five or six thousand years old, making it unlikely to have had anything to do with Catigern, who died in AD 455. It is currently surrounded by a rather ferocious-looking iron fence, suggesting a history of misbehavior by visitors.]
he is reported to have been painted with that animal in his arms
[If you would settle for a cat sitting on a table by his side, there exists an 18th-century version. It looks as if it was based on Holbein’s portrait, now in the Louvre, which includes neither hide nor hair of a cat.]
The remains of this ancient castle are now used as a farm-house
[See elsewhere about Castles and Old Mansions of Shropshire.]
ON the approach to Maidstone the river scenery is pleasingly diversified, by a long range of spreading trees on the bank of the Medway; which, with its venerable stone bridge, and the country contiguous, produce rather an interesting landscape. I have yet given a preference to the view above the bridge, from whence the annexed drawing was taken, as comprizing a more extensive selection of objects, and consequently better adapted to characterize the general view of this ancient town.
The church is situated upon an agreeable eminence, on the eastern bank of the Medway, and is a good specimen of gothic architecture. Its embattlements, and time-worn 110 tower, leave little room to regret the loss of the steeple, which is reported to have originally stood here, and which is said to have been destroyed by lightning.
The church was built anno 1396, in the reign of Richard II., by Archbishop William de Courtney, who granted a licence for the purpose of making it collegiate: within the church is a monument, and some lines on the founder; though it does not appear in Camden, Godwin, &c. that he was interred here. Weever however seems to think that he was buried under his monument in the chancel. Be this as it may, the mode of erecting cenotaphs has been continued down, and is of frequent use in the present day.
Nearly adjoining to the church are the remains of the palace, formerly the occasional residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury. It is now the vicarage house, and, 111 in point of situation and prospect, superior to any other part of the town.
The view commands the river, with its lock and waterfall; and the rich verdure of the adjoining country contributes to render it a complete landscape. Near the lock, and in the neighbourhood, the stream abounds with carp, tench, and gudgeons.
A handsome gothic stone gateway, and other fragments of antiquity, are still remaining, being part of St. Mary, and All Saints college, which was likewise founded by Archbishop Courtney.
The parish church formerly belonged to this college, and, in consequence, all the tythes, both great and small, were appropriate; and the vicar’s income depended on occasional masses, oblations, mortuaries, &c.; which, in all probability, afforded, in the zenith 112 of priestcraft, a tolerable good harvest. The Metropolitans had anciently a castellated mansion in the centre of the town, which was began by Archbishop Ufford, and finished by Simon Islip, his successor: no traces of it are now remaining. The same Prelate likewise erected the bridge in this town, which has since, in the reign of James I., undergone a thorough repair: the expence of which was defrayed by an assessment on the inhabitants. Not far from the bridge a chapel, or refectory, with part of the cloysters of a religious fraternity, called Corpus Christi, are still remaining.
The centrical situation of this town renders it highly eligible for the purposes of provincial meetings, and public business. It is an ancient borough by prescription. Here the courts of justice are held, and the Knights of the shire are elected. It is situated in a delightful vale, happily screened by surrounding hills; and is justly famed for the 113 dryness of its soil and its excellent water. The river Len, as it is called, runs through this town, and empties itself here into the Medway; of which, in fact, the Len is one of its branches: it rises at Ewell, adjoining to Bigon Heath, in the western part of the parish of Lenham, which doubtless derived its name from the river.
In the church of Lenham is an inscription, which, though foreign to the present inquiry, may yet be thought, from the singular circumstance it records, not unworthy a place in this work. The lines are on the tomb of Robert Thompson, Esq. who was grand child to Mary Honeywood, wife of Robert Honeywood, of Charing, who had, at her decease, no less than three hundred and sixty-seven children lawfully descended from her, sixteen of her own body; one hundred and fourteen grand children; two hundred and twenty eight in the third generation; and nine 114 in the fourth. We are told that the body of this pious and prolific lady lieth in this church; but that her cenotaph may be seen at Mark’s Hall, in Essex, where she died; and that her renown liveth with her posterity.
The stream before-mentioned from Lenham, with several others, amply supply the town of Maidstone with water, by means of several conduits; the principal of which is a lofty stone building, in an octagonal form, in the centre of the High Street, and which has, at the top of it, what is called the Fish Bell, from its being rung when any fish is brought to market, an article with which this place is amply supplied. Trout, perch, carp, and lampreys, are the species for which it is most celebrated.
The principal street in Maidstone is spacious, and, from its easy ascent, is kept continually clean and dry; at the upper part 115 of it, a handsome building of stone and brick has been erected within a few years, for the purposes of a court-hall: the market-cross, as a remain of antiquity, is worthy notice; it was some years since removed on rollers, without being taken to pieces, from the upper part of the High Street to the situation in which it now stands.
A manufacture of linen-thread is carried on here, which owes its origin to the persecutions of the Duke D’Alva; when the Walloons, in the reign of Elizabeth, took refuge in this country. The operation of spinning flax for the thread still retains the name of Dutch work; but this is now of no very great extent or importance.
The principal trade here is derived from the navigation of our river; by which channel the various productions of this county, 116 its timber from the Wealds and other parts, paper from the neighbouring mills, grain and flour, hops and fruit, are, through this place, circulated to the capital as well as foreign markets.
The abundant fertility of the country around in corn fields, hop and filbert grounds, orchards of apple, cherry, and other fruit trees, not only so far enrich the scenery as to delight the eye of the English traveller, but have induced some foreign writers to denominate it “The Hungaria of Great Britain.”
In the country about Maidstone, now almost covered with hops, this plant is said to have been first cultivated, and that to a very great extent, about the period of the Reformation; when its flourishing state is said to have given birth, though not in strict 117 conformity to chronological history, to the following old English rhymes,
“Hops, reformation, baize, and beer
“Came into England all in a year.”
Scenes, such as we have described hold out invitations not to be resisted by the wealthy and the great. The hills and vallies around, covered with villas and mansion houses, confirm the truth of the representation given.
Lord Romney’s ancient seat, called the Mote, about a mile to the east of the town, though not in its external appearance a stately mansion, has yet within it many elegant and stately apartments; in park scenery, the hand of nature, with little assistance from art, has been evidently lavish.
The house and grounds of Mr. Whatman, called Vinters, are boldly situated on such an eminence, as to command a fine and distant 118 prospect, and are yet so happily sheltered by the contiguous woody scenery as to want no protection in the severest season: to this gentleman the country is much indebted for his great improvements in the art of paper-making, which he has unquestionably carried to a higher degree of perfection and excellence than was before known in this or any other kingdom, and may truly be said to have given additional smoothness to verse, and a new face to the literature of this country.
In the neighbourhood of Vinters is the celebrated Pinnenden Heath, which has been a place of considerable note ever since the Conquest.
In Doomsday book mention is made that “when the inhabitants of Kent were summoned to meet AD SCIRAM, that is, in public assembly, at the Shyre-gemot, or Sheriff’s tourn, for the trial of certain customs therein 119 mentioned, they should go for that purpose as far as Pinnedenna, but no farther.”
In 1076, the eleventh of William the Conqueror, a famous assembly was held at this place, at which were present many Earls, Barons, Bishops, &c. who were assembled from every county, as well French as English: among them was Agelric, Bishop of Chester, esteemed so well versed in the laws of the realm, that, notwithstanding his age and infirmities, his presence was so necessary as to induce the King to give an order for his being brought hither in a waggon, “in una quadriga.” The cause of this meeting was to decide on the conduct of Odo, the avaricious Bishop of Baieux, and Earl of Kent, the Conqueror’s half-brother, who was charged with having defrauded the See of Canterbury of manors, lands, and liberties. The trial lasted three days; and the charge was so clearly proved, as to enable 120 the Archbishop to recover from his false brother, and father of the church, several of his ancient possessions, and to ascertain other matters that were in dispute between the church and king.
On the north side of this heath is a county-house, where the Sheriff continues to hold his county-court monthly, and where he takes the poll for Knights of the shire, till it is adjourned to Maidstone.
Mary Honeywood . . . who had, at her decease, no less than three hundred and sixty-seven children lawfully descended from her
[As you might imagine, genealogy sites love Mary Honeywood, sometimes spelled “Honywood”. The prodigious number of living descendants is partly explained by the fact that she lived to be 93.]
Boxley Abbey is situated a little to the eastward of Pinnenden Heath, and was formerly part of the vast possessions of the pious Bishop of Baieux. The remains of this once famous abbey, as given in the annexed sketch, is a faithful view of its present state. The great range of wall still remaining demonstrates the wealth and extent of the endowments of this place; and the granary of the monks, which is nearly co-extensive, affords no less equivocal evidence—that, though they might not be quite so laborious as the ant, they were at least equally provident. It was founded as early as 1146, by William De Ipre, Earl of Kent, who afterwards became a monk at Laon, in Flanders. 122 This religious house was an establishment for white monks, of the Cistertian order, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Edward I. granted to the Abbot of Boxley many privileges and immunities, such as free warren in Kent, Surry, &c. He was likewise in that reign twice summoned to parliament. Our senate, at a succeeding period, we find either to have been greatly overstocked with these dignitaries, there being no less within its walls at that time than sixty-four abbots, and thirty-six priors, or, if their property gave them place there, our common wealth was most grievously overrun by a race of lazy and impoverishing caterpillars. In this latter sentiment I am confirmed by a modern author, whom no one will suspect of being adverse to any species or order of mitred dignity. In his life of Sir Thomas Pope, he states the attempt of Queen Mary “to restore the monasteries to 123 be a measure which tended only to bring back national poverty, with national superstition; for it is certain, that Henry’s distribution of the monastic revenues into private hands, although dictated by selfish and sordid motives, founded the present greatness of England.” Yet, in his political rhapsodies, a modern Quixote and Ignatius, of chivalry and monkery, upon this subject says, “When ancient opinions and rules of life are taken away, the loss cannot possibly be estimated.” Experience seems already to have pronounced and decided upon the two opposite views of this question, not only, on the one hand, by the flourishing state of this island, since the distribution of the monastic revenues, but, on the other, by the national poverty and distress of a neighbouring country, so aggravated by retaining their ancient institutions and “prejudices,” as to have, in part, been the occasion of impelling them to so desperate a 124 remedy, as the convulsion and overthrow of their empire.
Edward II. resided some time in Boxley Abbey, during which residence he granted a royal charter to the citizens of London, by which they were first empowered to elect a mayor from their own body, and at their own pleasure. The abbey was formerly much famed for a wooden figure, called the Rood of Grace, the work of a needy carpenter, with which the priests for a long time deluded their credulous and silly followers, till the knavery being detected, the idol was defaced: “and even the abbey and town,” says Lambard, “ to the just judgment of God, hastened to utter decay and beggary.”
The clear yearly revenue of this abbey, at the dissolution, amounted, according to Speed, to two hundred and eighteen pounds nine shillings.
From hence I shall conduct the reader to that noble and extensive edifice, Leeds Castle, which is situated about three miles south-east of Maidstone. A little river, commonly called the Len, which rises at Ewell, and directs its course by Runham, Farborne, and to this castle, unites its stream in the neighbourhood with our Medway.
Leeds Castle was anciently part of those possessions lavishly bestowed by William the Conqueror on his brother, Odo, Bishop of Baieux, (so frequently mentioned in this work) on whose disgrace it was granted by the King to the eminent family of Crevequer, called, in ancient charters, DeCrevequer and De Crepito Corde: from the family of Crevequer it was given by Edward II. to Bartholomew, Baron of Badilsmer, who treacherously fortified it against his Sovereign and benefactor; and, in the latter end of the year 1321, thought fit to give a peremptory 126 refusal to Isabel, the Queen, who solicited a night’s lodging in this castle.
It seems, according to Leland, that this request of the Queen was of a political nature, and that she was sent there by the King merely to afford a pretext under which he might effect the ruin of its owner. Be the motive as it might, the Baron’s refusal so enraged this Monarch, that he gave orders to besiege the castle, and compelled it, though not till after much resistance and bloodshed, to surrender, and to subject himself to this dilemma— That if he refused her admittance he should be punished for disrespect and inhospitality, and that if he admitted her, he should be overpowered, and his castle be taken possession of by her numerous retinue. After the surrender he is said, by one author, to have ordered this bold and treacherous Baron to be hung up at the gates. Leland says, he was taken prisoner the year following at 127 Burrowbridge, and beheaded at Canterbury; but it is agreed, by all writers, that his wife, son, and daughters were sent prisoners to the Tower of London.
The immense strength of this place induced our Monarchs, at all times, to look upon it with an eye of jealousy; and though it was frequently granted to several great families in this county, it has as often, by attainder or escheat, come again into the hands of the Crown.
In the reign of Edward III. this fortress being greatly in decay, that able Monarch appointed “William of Wyckham chief warden and surveyor of his castle of Ledes.” The acknowledged skill and experience of that great prelate in architectural affairs, are abundant proof of the great consideration in which this place was then held by its Royal master.128
This castle, which during the reign of Richard II. frequently received him and his Royal state, as appears from the date of several public instruments, was afterwards converted into the prison of this unfortunate Monarch. He was sent here by order of Henry IV., under whom it again became a Royal residence, he having retired here on account of a dreadful plague, which then raged in London, and carried off upwards of thirty thousand persons. After his death, Joan, of Navarre, his second Queen, having been accused of conspiring against the life of his son, Henry V., was committed a prisoner to this place, where she remained till removed to the castle of Pevensey in Sussex.
Archbishop Chichley, in the 18th of Henry VI., presided in this castle at the trial of Eleanor, Dutchess of Gloucester, on a charge of sorcery and witchcraft. This unfortunate woman was afterwards indicted 129 for high treason, and confessing part of the matter alleged, was sentenced to a penance for three several days in London, and was afterwards committed to perpetual imprisonment in the Isle of Man. In this castle Sir Thomas Bourchier, Knight, with others of the principal gentry in Kent, sat to receive the oaths of allegiance to Richard III. from the inhabitants of this county. In the reign of Henry VIII. it received a considerable repair from Henry Guildford, who was appointed by that Monarch its Constable. The fee-simple of the castle and manor remained with the Crown till Edward VI., who granted them, with their appurtenances, to Sir Anthony St. Leger. From his family, after several alienations, it came to that of the Colepeppers, a descendant of whom, Sir John, was created a Peer by Charles I. in 1644, for his strong attachment to the cause of that Monarch. From the marriage of his descendant, Catherine, with Thomas Lord Fairfax of 130 Cameron, in Scotland, this castle, &c. descended to its present possessor.
The external appearance of this building is noble, and the extensive range of it seems to have been preserved with a very laudable care and attention. It is surrounded by a considerable body of water, which, in all probability, gave rise to the title this castle frequently obtained in old writings of La Mote. So venerable a mansion, so long the favourite seat of such an ancient and illustrious family, could not fail of carrying with it an interest in the mind of the most incurious and accidental visitors. If this be so—to one led, with the pleasing expectation of innocently gratifying himself, and perhaps affording no irrational amusement to others, by the display of the beauties of art and nature, with which this quarter of our island is enriched, it became of course a considerable object: but all access was barred; 131 no approaches were suffered: and though it must be acknowledged, that these rigorous injunctions are dealt out with perfect equality, and that the neighbour is no less interdicted than the stranger, yet, I trust, we may not be too harshly censured, if, in the moment of disappointment, we could not avoid minuting down the contrast, which an anecdote recorded of an aged Lady Fairfax, in the time of the celebrated Dean of St. Patrick, of cynical memory, presents between the habits of the present owner and the more courteous manners of his predecessor. The old Lady hearing that Swift was walking round the castle, and imagining he would be gratified with an interior view of it, politely sent him an invitation for that purpose, to which we are told the churl, with as little of point as of civility, brutally replied, “tell your Lady I came here to see old walls, not old women.”132
a neighbouring country . . . so desperate a remedy, as the convulsion and overthrow of their empire
[If the French revolution was impelled by excessive wealth in the hands of the Church, how does our author explain the English revolution, which happened more than a century after the dissolution of the monasteries?]
according to the just judgment of God
text has acording
directs its course by Runham, Farborne, and Harriestsham to this castle
spelling unchanged: expected Harrietsham
Odo, Bishop of Baieux, (so frequently mentioned in this work)
[Took the words right out of my mouth. Or fingers, at least, as I was on the very point of typing a snarky comment. I count eight occurrences of the phrase “Bishop of Baieux”—five of them specifying “Odo”—in this fairly short book.]
FROM Maidstone the course of the river, though it narrows considerably above the Lock, is yet beautiful, and retains a depth of water of from near twelve to fourteen feet. About a mile above the town, at the pleasant village of Tovil, on an eminence, commanding an extensive and beautiful view, the Anabaptists have chosen a spot in a rocky and romantic situation, as a burial place for their fraternity. Its elevation and distance from the river, seem to indicate, that, however fond they may have been of emerging in water, when living, they are determined to keep at a distance from that element in the stage beyond this life. In this vicinity the banks of the Medway continue highly ornamented with young oaks, and
“Verdant shrubs dissimilarly gay;”
while the country around wears an appearance equal to that of a garden in its highest state of cultivation.
At East Farley, which is about four miles from Maidstone, the eye is attracted by a beautiful combination of objects; an ancient gothic bridge, in parts, overgrown with ivy; the adjoining lock and village church, on an eminence, happily intersected by verdant trees and the luxuriant hop; while beneath
“The silver Medway glides, and on her breast
“Reflects the varied landscape.”
Two miles above this retired scene, on a sudden bend of the river, an elegant view presents itself, composed of the most simple objects in nature, a sandy bank on one side of the river, and on the other a rich thicket of trees, affording under the evening sun a beautiful and shady retreat; across the stream a small wooden bridge, over which 135 the “lowing herd” are passing to their homes; and the lofty village spire of Barming, richly whitening in the distance. The wooden bridge a little below the ancient ford, is denominated Amherst’s Bridge, from a neighbouring gentleman who raised it, and has selected a beautiful spot for his residence, which stands at a proper distance from the water, and commands a delicious view of its winding course, and likewise of the surrounding country.
About a mile above the bridge we approach the pleasant village, whose church contributed so much to embellish our last view: it is situated on a gentle eminence upon the northern bank of the Medway, and, though ancient, is yet preserved with so much care and attention, as, from its perfect neatness, to strike the observer, at a small distance, as a modern building. The poet’s idea of
“The decent church, that tops the neighbouring hill,”
is here fully verified. And Nature has been no less bountiful to this place in other and more essential particulars; its soil produces a great quantity of what is called Kentish Rag Stone, which affords a peculiar nourishment to the root of the hop, and the land is consequently very productive in the growth of that useful plant.
Barming Heath is famed for its botanical productions, particularly the common camomile, and the great Nullein, or high taper, which is remarked to grow here to a much larger size than is ordinarily produced.
The rectory of Barming is now in the possession of the Rev. Mr. F. Noble, author of the Life of the Protector, Cromwell.
I cannot here refrain from paying a passing tribute to the memory of an elegant, but unfortunate, Child of the Muse, whose 137 fairy feet have not often been known to print the valleys of this district, since the groves of Penshurst resounded with the melody of Sydney.
At Shipbourne, a small village in this neighbourhood, about the year 1726, was born Christopher Smart, an author, who, besides being endeared to his countrymen by his Georgic on their favourite plant, and known and admired by all as a man of cultivated genius and poetical talent, and whose essay, upon a subject as high and dignified as can be well proposed, “The immensity of the Supreme Being,” is, in simplicity and the true sublime, hardly second to any thing that our most elevated bards have produced. So energetic is his piety, and so commanding his eloquence, that though they place in a humiliating view the sublimest efforts of that art which we wish to celebrate, and have ever looked up to with a species of enthusiasm, 138 yet no lover of the beauties of Nature and Poetry can, I trust, refuse to be carried along with him, when he exclaims
———— “What are the tow’rs,
“The work of lab’ring man and clumsy art,
“Seen with the ring-dove’s nest—on that tall beech
“Her pensile house the feather’d artist builds;—
“The rocking winds molest her not; for see,
“With such due poize the wond’rous fabrick’s hung,
“That, like the compass in the bark, it keeps
“True to itself and stedfast ev’n in storms;
“Thou ideot that asserts, there is no God,
“View and be dumb for ever ————
“Go bid Vitruvius or Palladio build
“The bee his mansion, or the ant her cave—
“Go call Corregio, or let Titian come
“To paint the hawthorn’s bloom, or teach the cherry
“To blush with just vermilion—hence away—
“Hence, ye prophane! for God himself is here.”
To the west of Barming, on a noble ascent from the Medway, stands Teston House, the mansion of Mrs. Bouverie; the extensive and diversified scenery which surrounds it, and the beautiful meandring stream beneath, highly enriched by its elegant stone bridge, 139 afford an enchanting combination of objects. The house is ancient, but has recently received such liberal improvements and additions, as to give it the air of a new edifice; these, though they have their advantages over the Gothic in point of utility, do not, in my opinion, aid the picturesque beauty of the scenery. The varied and intersected parts and ornaments of the ancient style appear to me, at all times, more grateful to the eye than the square front, and as regularly disposed square windows of a modern erection. The house in the annexed view being at a great distance, and in part concealed, will, in some degree, apologize for its being introduced here as a picturesque object. This seat was formerly called Berham, or Barham Court, an appellation derived from the family of that name, who were originally denominated Fitz Urse. Randal Fitz Urse, of this family, was one of the four Knights belonging to Henry II’s household, who undertook 140 the murder of Thomas Becket, in the cathedral of Canterbury, anno 1170. Of this flock was the famous Nicholas Barham, Serjeant at Law in the reign of Elizabeth, from whose family this manor descended to the Botelers: it afterwards, on a division of the property, came by devise to the present owner, Mrs. Bouverie, who is related to the Earl of Radnor.
The bridge across the Medway, in the valley beneath, is of stone, and consists of seven arches, the three principal of which may properly be denominated Cycloidal, the others Gothic; the bridge, though lofty, is yet often impassable, from the sudden overflowing of the river, which here frequently rises eighteen feet above its usual surface in the course of twenty-four hours, and as suddenly falls again to its natural level. The road over this bridge leads from Sevenoak to Cocks heath and Yalding. Dr. Plot remarks 141 that he had discovered part of a Roman way that passed over the Medway in this neighbourhood, and seemed to point its course towards Lenham.
The meadows that adjoin the river in this vicinity are remarked for their extraordinary produce of the Tanacetum, or Garden Tansey.
About a mile and a half above Teston we pass Watringbury, called, in The Textus Roffensis, Wotringaberia; a name probably derived from its low and watery situation. This manor was anciently in the possession of the Bishop of Baieux, but, after various alienations, is now the property of Sir Thomas Stiles, Baronet, to whose family a handsome pyramidical monument is erected in the church-yard. In the window of the church is some curious stained glass representing Edward III. and his Queen. The 142 story of the decollation of Saint John the Baptist in the south window, was originally not ill told, but has suffered much, particularly from a heavy storm of hail that fell some years ago.
A very ancient custom, which was formerly observed in a part of this parish, called Pizein Well, may possibly, by the curious, not be thought unworthy of relation:—It was electing a deputy to a machine called The Dumb Borsholder of Chart, which claimed an authority over fifteen houses in the precinct of Pizein Well; every householder of which was formerly obliged to pay the keeper, or deputy, one penny yearly. This officer is made of wood, and is about three feet long, with an iron ring at the top, and four others at the sides: to the bottom is affixed an iron spike, four inches and a half long, to fasten it in the ground, the better to enable it to 143 perform its office, which is that of breaking open doors, a ceremony formerly performed without the warrant of a justice of the peace, on a mere suspicion of goods having been unlawfully obtained or concealed within this precinct of Pizein Well.
The annexed sketch of this wooden image may not be unacceptable to the curious: the original is now in the possession of the family of Thomas Clampard, who was its last deputy, and who is by trade a blacksmith. The deputy was anciently elected at the court-leet, who held up this instrument when called for by a handkerchief, or cord, passed through the iron ring, fixed at the top, and thus 144 became answerable for it as its keeper. This ancient custom has been discontinued for some years.
A few miles westward is Mereworth-house: it is watered by a small stream that empties itself into our gentle river, and has also, from the beauty of its situation, ample claim to our attention. This mansion recently devolved, with the title of Lord Despencer, to Sir Francis Dashwood, from the late Earl of Westmoreland, who erected this structure after a design of Palladio, whose name stands so deservedly pre-eminent in the list of architects. It was compleated under the direction of Colin Campbell, who, in most of his undertakings, seems to have displayed taste and good sense in selecting from the best masters. The main part of this building stands on a square, extending eighty-eight feet: each front has a handsome portico of the Ionic order: the grand façade a very noble flight of steps.145
The building is crowned with a semicircular dome of timber, covered with lead, within which is another of stucco, that forms the ceiling of the salon, and is thirty-six feet in diameter. Beneath the two domes are twenty-four funnels that convey the smoak to the lantern above, which is finished with copper. This for chimneys certainly preserves the building more entire, and gives a superior air of grandeur to the design. Detached from this edifice are erected two spacious wings, at proper distances; one of which is used as a stable, the other as a kitchen. Offices detached from the house have certainly their convenience; and however ornamental they may in some cases be deemed, will yet at the villa, where still on Sundays must be had
“Two puddings smoaking on the board,”
not very readily be adopted as an improvement 146 by the citizen, who, in the article of TASTE, may be easily conceived to differ with the architect.
The tout ensemble of this edifice, in taste and design, is not unworthy the name of Palladio, who had previously carried this idea into execution in a villa built in the neighbourhood of Venice, for a noble ecclesiastic Paolo Almerico.
The country around Mereworth is as rich in scenery as in its soil productive.
—— “Here the meads,
“Enrich’d by Flora’s hand, with pride,
“Expose their spotted verdure. Nor is here
“Pomona absent—she, ’midst the hoary leaves,
“Swells the vermilion cherry; and on each tree
“Suspends the pippen’s palatable gold.”
The decent church, that tops the neighbouring hill
[Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, though the word is properly “topped”. Samuel Ireland was not the only person who liked to quote the line.]
This mansion recently devolved, with the title of Lord Lé Despencer
[Then again, it may just be a flyspeck.]
the grand façade is by a very noble flight of steps
[I have trouble picturing a façade immediately adjacent to (“by”) a flight of stairs. There must be a missing word: graced by? adorned by? defined, approached, marred? The possibilities are endless.]
This substitute for chimneys certainly preserves the building
text has substitue
Here the meads
[Christopher Smart, “The Hop-Garden”, described a few pages back as a “Georgic on his countrymen’s favourite plant”. Our author may have been quoting from memory; the passage generally reads something like
here the meads,
Enrich’d by Flora’s dædal hand, with pride
Expose their spotted verdure. Nor are you,
Pomona! absent; you ’midst hoary leaves,
Swell the vermilion cherry; and on yon trees
Suspend the pippin’s palatable gold.
This helps a bit, though it’s still hard to get the second-to-last line to scan. The word Ireland spells “dœdal” is properly “dædal” or simply “dedal”. It goes back to the same root as the name Daedalus.]
NETTLESTED, or as it is written in Doomsday-book, Nedestede, is situated on the eastern bank of the Medway. The grand entrance to the ancient place-house of Nettlested, as it appears in the annexed view, is yet standing; and the uncouth mixture of the Gothic and Grecian therein discernible, denotes it to have been erected about the beginning of the seventeenth century, a period famed for its absurdity and tasteless ornaments in building. The date, 1587, appears on a stone portal on the west front of the remain of this building, which I presume to have been the æra of its repair, as other parts of the building carry with them much greater antiquity. It appears that a house of considerable consequence was standing on this spot as early as the reign of Edward III. 148 when Thomas de Pimpe, the then owner of the manor, paid an aid for the lands in Nettlested, on conferring upon Edward the Black Prince, the honor of Knighthood, in the twentieth year of the reign of his father. William de Pimpe, the son, kept his shrievalty here three times, in the reign of Edward III. It afterwards, in the reign of Henry VII. came, by marriage, into the family of Sir John Scott, of Scott’s Hall; in which it remained till the beginning of the present century, when it was alienated to Sir Philip Boteler of Teston, Baronet, by whose will it passed into the possession of Mrs. Bouverie, of Teston House, mentioned in the last section.
The mansion appears to have been spacious and magnificent for the period in which it was built. It is overrun with weeds and shrubs, and bears with it every mark of that vicissitude and ruin, the inevitable lot of all 149 the transitory labors of the hand of man, which however magnificent, and though supported by pillars of marble,
“Shall yet decay e’en as the moth’s frail cell,
“Or sheds of reeds, which summer’s heat repell.”
The remain of this building is now only used as an oast, or kiln, for drying hops. This is done by spreading them on a hair cloth, about twelve feet square, beneath which, at a distance of about eight feet, is a thick plate of iron, regularly heated from below by a spacious stove.
The hops lie in this state generally about twelve hours, before they are sufficiently dried, and the quantity of coals or coke consumed in this operation is about a hundred bushels.
The hops thus dried are put into bags, 150 and pressed down by a man, who continues treading on them for that purpose. This operation in one of the Gothic apartments of this venerable building, had rather a whimsical effect; and seemed so strongly contrasted with its original uses, as to induce me to give a sketch of what then presented itself.
The floor of this ancient room of state, deeply covered with hops, and in the midst of it a rustic, half buried in a sack, treading 151 them down, in a kind of perpetual motion, as if bit by a tarantula, or troubled with St. Vitus’s dance.
At a small distance from Nettlested, on the opposite bank of the river, stands the seat of Sir John Shaw, a retired and not ill-chosen situation. About a mile above this mansion, we pass a large kiln for the purpose of burning pit-coal into coke; an operation performed by laying the coal under earth, and when set on fire quenching the cinders. The same mode is used in making charcoal from wood. To form the coke, a chaldron of coals requires about eighteen hours burning.
We now approach the ancient bridge of Twyford, which is built of stone, and has more of utility than ornament in its construction. The arches are Gothic, with 152 strong angular buttresses raised against the piers, and are carried to the upper part of the side-walls.
The adjoining village of Twyford, from which the bridge derives its name, was written, in the book of Doomsday, Tuiferde, an appellation that it obtained from the two Fords which formerly existed over the two streams of the Medway, which branch off from this place.
From the bridge, a small stream of the Medway runs to Yalding, about a mile distance, but is not navigable. At Yalding bridge it is joined by the Hunton river, which derives its sources from various springs at Great Chart, Ulcomb, East Sutton, and Cranbrook, in this county.
From Twyford bridge, the river bears its course eastward, through a fertile country, 153 whose meadows are famed for producing the largest, and best breed of cattle, in this county. The first picturesque object that presents itself deserving notice is Brantbridge, in the parish of East Peckham.
The retired and romantic situation of this spot is so peculiarly striking, as to render it impossible for the eye of observation to pass it unnoticed. It is one of those simple and interesting scenes, from the study of which the Dutch and Flemish artists, as well as the judicious of our own country, have established a lasting fame. Nor is this spot the only one in this vicinity to be admired for its picturesque beauties; the various meanderings and recesses of the river affording perpetual scenes of that simplicity in nature, which produces the elegant in landscape.
The many rivulets which cross the adjoining meadows in aid of our river, their 154 small wooden bridges, and the various objects perpetually passing them, present that moveable scenery, which is in landscape, of all others, and particularly in rural views, the most enlivening and acceptable.
At Hartlake bridge we approach what is called a Flowing Bolt; an ingenious contrivance to pen up the water to a certain degree, so that it may, in a dry season, at proper times, be let out to water the neighbouring meadows. The groves of young oaks, elms, and other trees, planted along the borders of this river, contribute in no small degree to the beauty of the scenery, which is considerably heightened by the rich gardens of hops that are frequently intervening.
Within about two miles of Tunbridge the Medway branches out into several small streams, five of which unite at the town; 155 and having each its stone bridge, this circumstance, in all probability, gave it the name of Town of Bridges, or Tunbridge. To this place, since the year 1740, the river Medway was rendered navigable from Maidstone; in the course of which distance there is no tide, and but little current. It has the locks to aid its navigation, which is conducted by what is called the Tunbridge Company: all merchandize, except stone, pays four-pence per ton per mile. Camden says a statute passed in the sixteenth year of Charles II. for making this river navigable in Kent and Sussex; but it does not seem to have been enforced with much effect, as it is now, in dry seasons, frequently not navigable.
The principal stone bridge over the river at Tunbridge was begun in August 1775, when the first stone was laid on the foundation of the old one, and finished about the 156 Easter following, at a county expence of eleven hundred pounds: the former bridge was likewise of stone, but so much decayed as to be in a state of danger. The present structure is from a design of Mr. Mylne: it is neat and substantial, calculated more for utility than ornament.
The venerable ruins of the castle, with its extended walls, and ivy-mantled towers, appear above the bridge in a very picturesque form.
This castle was built soon after the Conquest by Richard De Clare, who received a grant of the manor from his relation, the Bishop of Baieux, half-brother to the Conqueror. This insatiable prelate, it is said, obtained this manor, with twenty-two others, from the See of Canterbury, in a way that did no great credit to his reputation: the church however got the better of the priest, 157 and recovered the other twenty-two manors out of his clutches, but he was permitted by Lanfranc, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, at the instance of the King, to retain this his favourite residence. In return for the castle, it appears that Richard De Clare gave an equivalent in land, and his castle at Brionne in Normandy.
The tenure of this manor was again disputed by that haughty priest Thomas Becket, and continued many years in suit, till, in the reign of Henry III. a composition took place between the See of Canterbury and the Clares, then Earls of Gloucester; to whom it was relinquished, on condition that they should be chief butlers and high stewards at the instalment of the Archbishops; they on the other hand granting to the Archbishops the wardship of their children, and possibly the care of their wives.158
This manor, castle, &c. came to the Crown by the attainder of the Duke of Buckingham, in the reign of Henry VIII. thence to Lord Hunsdon, in the time of Elizabeth, and in the reign of William III. the town of Tunbridge gave the title of Viscount to the ancestor of the present Earl of Rochford, William Henry of Nassau, nearly related to his Sovereign.
This famous castle, once the favoured seat of the first Peers and most exalted minds, affords at present little more than a subject for reflection on the vicissitudes of earthly greatness: its keep, which still remains, is overgrown with ivy, and its extensive fragments of stone walls, which, by their immense thickness, seem calculated to have once withstood the utmost exertions of an enemy, are now with as much caution preserved to bar the entrance of a curious and inquisitive traveller; and it will not be much a matter 159 of wonder, if, in this fortifying age, heavy cannon should soon be placed on its walls, to ensure the security of its present possessor, who, I am informed, has given a general order to prevent any person from seeing the interior of this venerable place.
Domestic privacy is unquestionably sacred, nor ought it to be invaded; but in the commerce of the world some sacrifices have ever been made to public opinion and public curiosity; and at stated periods and prescribed seasons, at the intervals of a week, a fortnight, or a month, the curtesy of the highest ranks of this kingdom has thrown open their gardens and palaces to the eye of the stranger and traveller.
Beneath the walls of these ancient ruins, the sloping grounds that beautifully incline towards the river, still indicate the situation of the once famous vineyard, reported to 160 have flourished here, and which is adduced as a proof of the early cultivation of the grape in this county. The Medway, though narrow, is navigable for small boats from hence about a mile, where a small streamlet bends its course towards Hillden green, and loses itself near Shipbourn, while the principal channel pursues its way towards Penshurst; to which place I presume it might with ease he made navigable, should the proprietors, who are impowered to complete the navigation as far as Forest row in Sussex, think it an object of sufficient importance.
About two miles from Tunbridge, although at some distance from the river, I cannot omit to mention a Gothic mansion called Great Bounds, probably so named from its being the extreme boundary of the lowy, or liberty of Tunbridge. This house was anciently in the possession of Lord Berkley, the proprietor of Tunbridge castle, till, in 161 the beginning of the reign of James I. it was conveyed to Sir Thomas Smythe, whose descendant married the famous Lady Dorothy Sydney, the Sacharissa of Waller. The very extensive and richly diversified prospect which this place commands, peculiarly merits the attention of the stranger. Among other objects, the most conspicuous within our view, is Somerhill, the residence of William Woodgate, Esq. This venerable mansion was built by the Earl of St. Albans, in the reign of Charles I.
The grand state apartment is noble and spacious, and retains its original form, as well as much of its gilding and other decorations: but many of the out-offices yet remaining give strong marks of much more ancient date, which must have been the case, as this spot was once the residence of Sir Francis Walsingham. From this eminent Statesman 162 it devolved to his daughter Frances: a lady, the splendor of whose matrimonial connections, if we take into our consideration the rank and distinguished eminence of the persons chosen, has hardly been equalled in the history of female life. Her first choice was the renowned Sir Philip Sydney, then the unfortunate Earl of Essex, and lastly Richard de Burgh, Marquis of Clanrickard and Earl of St. Albans, who built this seat. The heir of this extraordinary lady was Margaret Viscountess Purbeck. This distinguished mansion affords us also another lesson of the instability of every thing human.
In Walker’s History of Independance, he says “Somerhill, a pleasant seat, worth one thousand pounds a year, belonging to the Earl of St. Albans, is given by the junto to their bloodhound Bradshaw: so he hath warned the Countesse of Leicester (who 163 formerly had it in possession to raise a debt of three thousand pounds, pretended due to her from the said Earle; which she hath already raised fourfold) to quit the possession against our Lord-day next.”164
Thomas de Pimpe, the then owner of the manor
[The Oxford English Dictionary’s earliest citation for “pimp” is from 1607, a good few centuries after Thomas’s time.]
[Illustration] Twyford-bridge Aylesford lathe.
[The List of Prints simply says “Twyford”. Did the engraver get two captions mixed up?]
Penshurst Place, if we alone take into our consideration the celebrity of its former possessor, the gallant and all-accomplished Sir Philip Sydney, could not properly have been passed unnoticed; but it has in itself, as a spacious and venerable remain of antiquity, a still higher claim to our attention. It is to be regretted, that the size of this undertaking is rather too confined to admit of an illustration of all the parts of this noble and extensive building. We have yet attempted to give some idea of the scenery, by obtaining the best point of view for comprizing the whole, in which the church of Penshurst, with its venerable tower and Gothic spires breaking through the intervening thicket of trees, is included.166
The neighbouring village of Penshurst, or as it is sometimes written in ancient records, Pencestre, derives its name from the old British word PEN, the summit, or top of any place, and HYRST, a wood.
From the name of this place Waller, with more gallantry than truth, took occasion to ascribe to his Sacharissa, Lady Dorothy Sydney, who resided here, the power of changing the wildness and luxuriance of the natural beauties of nature, into the regularity of a garden, and that
“Her presence had such more than human grace,
“That it could civilize the rudest place,
“And beauty too, and order could impart,
“When Nature ne’er intended it, nor Art.”
Penshurst Place was, in the time of Edward I., in the possession of Sir Stephen De Peneshurste, who was made Constable of Dover Castle, and Warden of the Cinque Ports 167 by Henry III.; after which it was conveyed to John De Pulteney, who, in the reign of Edward II. had license to embattle his mansion-house of Penshurst; and, in the reign of Edward III. he was so highly favoured as to receive from that Prince the honour of Knighthood. In the same reign he was four times elected to the high office of Lord Mayor of the city of London. From this family it came by marriage to Sir John Devereux, who, in the succeeding reign of Richard II. had also a license to embattle and fortify this mansion. After passing through several hands it was at length forfeited to the Crown, in the fourth year of Edward VI. by the attainder of Sir Ralph Vane. The estate was then given by that young Prince, in 1553, to Sir William Sydney, who enjoyed it but a few months: from him it devolved to his infant son, Sir Henry, who, from his childhood, was bred at Court, and was the playmate and bed-fellow of Prince Edward. 168 The young Monarch afterwards made him Gentleman of the Privy Chamber; and is said to have taken so much delight in his company, as to have rarely permitted his absence. The young Prince expired in his arms at Greenwich soon after; at which period Sir Henry retired to Penshurst, there to indulge his grief; and by thus withdrawing himself escaped the fury of the times, and most probably the fatal consequences that attended his father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland, in the succeeding reign of the bigotted Mary. This fact is adverted to in the inscription over the gate-way at the grand entrance.
This ancient mansion has been formerly a place of considerable strength, as appears from its immense walls and high embattled towers. The principal entrance to the great quadrangle, which is of hewn stone, is nearly in its original Gothic state of design, 169 and impresses the mind very forcibly with the gloomy and reserved pomp of our brave ancestors. The hall is spacious and lofty, and the fragments of ancient armour, here exhibited strongly, recall to memory
“The ancient errant Knights,
“Who won their ladies hearts in fights,
“And cut whole Giants into fritters,
“To put them into amorous twitters.”
We see here the Knights of Chivalry in ancient times making impression upon their ladies’ hearts in battle, and hacking and hewing their way into their affections: and if such strange things as these could avail in love, can we wonder that the modern champion of this sublime profession should endeavour to mix arms with eloquence; and, for the purpose of impressing his audience, should be found flourishing his dagger in aid of the flights of his oratory.170
The apartments of this famous mansion have been much modernized within a few years by the late owner, William Perry, Esq. who became possessed of this estate by marriage with the Honourable Elizabeth Sydney, niece to the late Earl of Leicester.
Among other pictures in this mansion two particularly merit attention; the one of Sir Philip, the other of his sister, the Countess of Pembroke—A family resemblance may easily be discovered. The countenance of the latter highly justifies the poet’s warmest eulogium. And in the features of the former may be traced the elegant and placid mind of the accomplished gentleman.
In contemplating this venerable and extensive pile, the mind naturally reverts to that period in which it received its greatest ornament, by giving birth to Sir Philip Sydney in 1554. Ben Johnson poetically observes, 171 that on this occasion “All the Muses met:” and other writers assert, that in him was born the “darling of his time, and of his country.” We may likewise add, on the authority of Sir Fulke Grevil, if the testimony of a father may be relied on, that in this child, at a very tender age, he had noticed such strong marks of genius and character, that he pronounced him to be “lumen familiæ,” the light of his family.
No apology seems necessary for this partiality of the parent towards the child, since all Europe with one consent seem to have pronounced him the compleatest gentleman of his time: every accomplishment sat easy upon him; he was wise and learned in the schools; gallant in the field; and, as a courtier, as free from the pedantry of the one, as from the boisterous manners of the other. He obtained various posts of honour from his Sovereign: he was deemed worthy 172 to be put in nomination for the Crown of Poland; an honour, which probably might have been conferred, had not the Queen refused to further his promotion, lest, as she expressed herself, she should “lose the jewel of her time.”
These extraordinary distinctions at home and abroad, the correctness of his morals, and the heroism and humanity which he displayed in the closing act of his life, place him as a scholar, a statesman, a soldier, and a man, in as elevated a point of view as human nature has ever been known to attain.
High as this extraordinary character seems to have ranked in the eyes of all Europe, and universally as his works were at that time read; and though it was in the opinion of Lord Brook, a distinguished poet of his day, thought an honor to have it inscribed 173 upon his tomb, “The friend of Sir Philip Sydney,” yet a modern noble author not only estimates the extraordinary qualifications of this great man, by a standard very different from that which was used by the best judging of his own age; but has also by an impotent attack endeavoured to traduce his heroism: he asserts, that “no man seems to him so astonishing an object of temporary admiration;” and proceeds to ask, “when we enquire what prodigious merits excited such admiration, what do we find?” “Great valour.” But it was “an age of heroes.”
To a plain man it should seem to be more easy to acquire a reputation for valour in the age of effeminacy, than in that of heroism; and, he who was feared by the soldiers of Alva, can never be robbed of his laurels in any age, or by any reasoning. It would hardly be better founded to say, that no royal 174 or noble author of the present day can be possessed of distinguished merit, because the press does not at this period teem with the literary labours of Princes and of Peers.
Of the qualities of his mind, and his literary productions, he observes, “in full of all other talents we have a tedious, lamentable, pedantic, pastoral romance, which the patience of a young virgin in love cannot now wade through.”
Notwithstanding there may be some truth in this remark, yet with due respect to the discernment of his contemporaries, both wits and scholars; and adverting to the degree of refinement which our language had at that time attained, even the “Arcadia,” did not merit so indiscriminate a censure.
Whatever may be the case now, we 175 find from an author of the times, quoted by the late Mr. Warton, in the last volume of his “History of Poetry,” that the gravest monitions were thought necessary to restrain the young women of that age from reading it more than enough.—The advice given is, “Let the ladies learne plaine workes of all kinde, so they take heed of too open seaming: and instead of reading Sir Philip Sydney’s Arcadia, let them reade the Groundes of good Huswifery.”
And, I shall add, merely from the singularity of the circumstance, for it would be otherwise idle to accumulate proofs of the notorious popularity of this work—that the celebrated but unfortunate Lord Essex, upon his return from Portugal, in 1596, was addressed in a poem, called “An Egloge Gratulatorie, entituled to the Right Honourable and renowned Shepherd of Albions Arcadie, Robert Earl of Essex:” 176 and even so late as the middle of the next century, Dr. Heylin, an author, who is called the learned ornament of our nation, writes thus of Sir Philip Sydney: “I cannot make too honourable a mention of him, and of his Arcadia, a book which, besides its excellent language, rare contrivance, and delectable stories, hath in it all the strains of poesie; comprehendeth the whole art of speaking; and to those who can discern, and will observe, affordeth notable rules of demeanour, both private and public.” We find him also thus described by a wit, in an elegant couplet, though marked with the characteristical quaintness of the times:
“’Twould make one think (so sweet of love he sings)
“His pens were quills pluck’d off from Cupid’s wings.”
We shall close our testimonies on the merits of this high and unblemished character, by opposing to the noble author we have quoted, the authority of a copy of royal 177 verses in the language of that noble author himself, “under the respectable name of James I.”
“When Venus saw the noble Sydney dying,
“She thought it her beloved Mars had been;
“And with the thought thereat she fell a crying,
“And cast away her rings and carknets clean.
“He that in death a Goddess mockt and grieved,
“What had he done (trow you) if he had lived!”
It is impossible to reflect on the conduct of our English Virgil, Sydney, to the poor and neglected Spencer, without allowing that he had a soul for the muse, and a
“Hand Open as day for melting charity.”
The peculiar circumstances attending the patronage of our bard, may, perhaps, though well known, yet not be thought unworthy recital.
To Sydney then Spencer introduced himself 178 with no other recommendation than the merit of a fragment of his own work, the “Picture of Despair” in his “Legend of Holiness;” and so true and determined was that great man’s judgment, that, without waiting for the opinion of the world, with whose testimony he has since been abundantly sanctioned, declared himself at once his admirer; and, in a transport of pleasure, as it is said, ordered him fifty pounds a piece, for several stanzas, with this excessive compliment: “Make haste! lest I should be obliged to give you my whole estate.”
The following stanzas of Fletcher, in his Purple Island, are so elegantly turned, so feelingly delineate the neglected talents, as well as fate, of the Bard, and, by so happy a contrast, exalt the character of his noble patron, that I have introduced them in this place without preface or apology.179
“Witnesse our Colin*; whom though all the graces,
“And all the muses nurst; whose well-taught song
“Parnassus self, and Glorian† embraces,
“And all the learn’d, and all the shepherds throng;
“Yet all his hopes were crost, all suits deni’d;
“Discourag’d, scorn’d, his writings vilifi’d;
“Poorly (poor man) he liv’d; poorly (poor man) he di’d.
“And had not that great Hart‡, (whose honour’d head
“Ah lies full low) piti’d thy wofull plight;
“There hadst thou lien unwept, unburied,
“Unblest, nor grac’t with any common rite:
“Yet shalt thou live, when thy great foe§ shall sink
“Beneath his mountain tombe, whose fame shall stink;
“And time his blacker name shall blurre with blackest ink.
“O let th’ Iambick Muse revenge that wrong,
“Which cannot slumber in thy sheets of lead;
“Let thy abused honour crie as long
“As there be quills to write, or eyes to reade:
“On his rank name let thine own votes be turn’d;
“Oh may that man that hath the Muses scorn’d,
“Alive, nor dead, be ever of a Muse
At the birth of Sir Philip an oak was planted in the park, on the spot now called 180 Bears Oak. This oak is celebrated by Waller in the following lines;
“Go, boy, and carve this passion on the bark
“Of yonder tree, which stands the sacred mark
“Of noble Sydney’s birth; when such benign,
“Such more than mortal-making stars did shine;
“That there they cannot but for ever prove
“The monument, and pledge of humble love.”
Whether the tree now shewn (of which the annexed sketch is a portrait) be the identical one here alluded to or no, I cannot 181 ascertain, but, from its venerable appearance, it may be possible. It measures twenty-two feet in circumference; and within the hollow of its spacious trunk is affixed a seat capable of receiving several persons. This noble tree stands near a fine piece of water called Lancup Well.
This park and neighbourhood is celebrated for the large growth of its trees, one of which was cut down about eight years since, and produced eight hundred and forty feet of timber, weighing twenty-one tons.
Near Well Place, in the park, there is a fine spring called Kidder’s Well, which has been found, on analizing it, to be a stronger chalybeate than those of Tunbridge. The spring rises into a stone bason, which was erected by an Earl of Leicester many years ago. In the neighbourhood of Penshurst there 182 are many other springs, which are likewise found to partake more or less of the chalybeate quality; it is worthy of remark, that the vicinity is famed for its veins of iron.
In a deep hole in the river Medway, called Tapner’s Hole, near the lower end of this park, a strong ebullition appears on the surface of the water, from a spring which rises beneath. The park consists of four hundred and twenty acres, but has not, in my judgment, such advantages of prospect or situation as are to be found in other parts of this fertile county. Under this impression, and from the decayed and neglected state of the building, it is with regret I contemplate the probability of a total decay of this mansion of Heroes. Should that event take place, and no stone remain to indicate its former greatness, yet shall imagination fondly trace the spot where Sydney first drew breath, that 183 Sydney, whose name can never be forgotten while elegance of manners and true greatness of mind shall be thought to dignify human nature.
I cannot quit Penshurst without mentioning an additional honour it has received in giving birth to the renowned Sydney, whose zeal and integrity in the cause of patriotism, and deep skill in the science of government, must ever render him dear to the lover of his country. In an academical prize poem ample justice has been done to his merits by the elegant pen of a dignitary of the church, and one of its present ornaments:
“Unconquer’d Patriot! form’d by ancient lore,
“The love of ancient freedom to restore;
“Who nobly acted what he boldly thought,
“And seal’d by death the lesson that he
The stream of the Medway passing the extremity of the gardens at Penshurst winds 184 its narrow course towards Hever, about a mile westward of Chidingstone, through which place the river Eden passes, and near which it joins the Medway.
in the reign of Edward III. he was so highly favoured as to receive from that Prince the honour of Knighthood. . . . four times elected to the high office of Lord Mayor of the city of London
[A few generations later, the knighthood would have been nothing special. Starting around the year 1400, Lords Mayor of London were routinely knighted after finishing their year’s term.]
his infant son, Sir Henry
[This is a bit misleading, since hereditary knighthood—aka the baronetage—wouldn’t be invented until the following century. Henry was knighted as a young man, thanks to his friendship with by-then-king Edward.]
the modern champion of this sublime profession
[I’ve got a nasty suspicion Ireland’s original readers would have known exactly who he was talking about. Me, I’ve got no idea.]
the Honourable Elizabeth Sydney, niece to the late Earl of Leicester
[You don’t get to be The Honourable by being someone’s niece. The courtesy title properly belonged to her father, Thomas Sidney, a younger son of the fourth Earl of Leicester—as it happened, the only one of the Earl’s four sons who didn’t succeed him. The last surviving brother, the seventh Earl, died childless—or, at least, without a legitimate son—in 1743.
Seven is, coincidentally, the number of separate times this particular Earldom has been created: first in 1107, most recently in 1837. By Ireland’s time, it had already been passed along to a new family, though it barely lasted one generation. Bucking the odds, the 1837 creation is now on its eighth Earl.]
a modern noble author
[Horace Walpole, in A Catalogue of the Royal and Noble Authors of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Although he wrote under his everyday name, he qualifies as “noble” because he was Earl of Orford. The full passage:
No man seems to me so astonishing an object of temporary admiration as the celebrated friend of the lord Brooke, the famous Sir Philip Sidney. The learned of Europe dedicated their works to him; the republic of Poland thought him at least worthy to be in the nomination for their crown. All the muses of England wept his death. When we, at this distance of time, inquire what prodigious merits excited such admiration, what do we find? Great valour.—But it was an age of heroes.—In full of all other talents, we have a tedious, lamentable, pedantic, pastoral romance, which the patience of a young virgin in love cannot now wade through; and some absurd attempts to fetter English verse in Roman chains; a proof that this applauded author understood little of the genius of his own language. The few of his letters extant are poor matters; one to a steward of his father, an instance of unwarrantable violence. By far the best presumption of his abilities (to us who can judge only by what we see) is a pamphlet published amongst the Sidney papers, being an answer to the famous libel called “Leicester’s Commonwealth.” It defends his uncle with great spirit. What had been said in derogation to their blood seems to have touched sir Philip most. He died with the rashness of a volunteer, having lived to write with the sang-froid and prolixity of mademoiselle Scuderi.
That final sentence, comparing Sidney to “mademoiselle Scuderi”, is pretty blistering; see The Female Quixote.]
[Footnote] 2 Elizabeth.
[Do not ask what he means by “2”. She was known as “Gloriana” throughout her reign, not only in its second year.]
“Alive, nor dead, be ever of a Muse adorn’d!”
close quote missing
the renowned Algernoon Sydney
“And seal’d by death the lesson that he taught!”
close quote missing
THE remain of the ancient castle of Hever, here presented, is nearly perfect in its exterior form. It was constructed in the reign of Edward III. by William De Hever, who had license to embattle it, as was customary, at that period: from that family it came by marriage to the Cobhams of this county, from whom it derived the compound name of Hever Cobham. It was by one of that family sold to Sir Geoffry Bulleyne, Knight, grandfather to Lady Ann Bulleyne, the ill-fated Queen of Henry VIII. Her father, Sir Thomas, was advanced by this Monarch to the title of Viscount Rochford, and afterwards, in the 21st year of his reign, to that of Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond. This nobleman completely repaired, 186 and made many additions to, the castle. His daughter, Ann Bulleyne, resided here at the time Henry paid his court to her, and the apartment in which she slept, still retains her name. Several letters of the amorous tyrant are now existing, which are addressed to her at this place.
After the death of her father, the King seized on this castle, with its demesnes, in right of his late wife, the Earl’s daughter. They remained in his hands till the thirty-second year of his reign, when he granted them, in 1541, to another of his wives, the Lady Ann of Cleves; whose fate, though short of death, was little less unfortunate. After her repudiation, this castle became her residence; and she held it on the hard terms of not being suffered to quit the realm without the King’s consent, or that of his successors. Here she remained, 187 during her life, for a lingering period of about twelve years: she died in the fourth year of the reign of Philip and Mary, at which time this castle reverted to the Crown. It was afterwards given by Queen Mary to Sir Edward Waldegrave; whose family, in the year 1715, conveyed it to Sir William Humphreys, Baronet, then Lord Mayor of London; and, in the year 1745, it was purchased by Timothy Waldo, Esq. in whose family it now remains.
The neighbouring village of Hever has little to recommend it to notice. It was anciently part of the extensive patrimony of Sir Stephen De Penchester, or Penshurst. In the church is an altar tomb of black marble, erected to the memory of the Earl of Wiltshire, father to Ann Bulleyne, on which is his effigy in brass, dressed in the robes of the Garter. This neighbourhood is famed for its fertile production of oak 188 trees, which grow to an uncommon large size.
The river Eden, deemed one of the principal streams that fall into the Medway, passes Hever in its course from Eden Bridge. It derives its source from several springs in the vicinity of Crowhurst, in the County of Surry.
Returning to Penshurst, another stream falls into the Medway, flowing from Cowdon, an obscure village in this county, near which it divides itself into several small channels towards Starborough castle, in Surry, from whence it is supplied by various copious springs.
As this part of the river affords no object particularly attractive, I shall pursue its eastern direction towards Tunbridge Wells, in which course it branches forth from the vicinity of Chafford, where formerly stood a 189 seat of Sir George Rivers, Baronet, now the property of Sir Peter Rivers Gay.
The Medway then passes the village of Ashurst, or the Wood of Ashes, once famed for the superstition of its inhabitants, whose credulity was so great, as to believe in the growth of the nails and hair, and even of the body, of a wooden crucifix, which was occasionally shewn to them by their wily priest, who, whatever might be thought of the increase of the figure, himself probably grew sleek and fat, upon this addition to his benefice.
Between this village and Groombridge the Medway again takes several directions towards Ashdown and Waterdown Forests, in Sussex, where it is supplied by various springs.
Groombridge is about three miles from Tunbridge Wells, and is within the parish 190 of Speldhurst; it has formerly been a place of much note, and was anciently called Gromenebregge, a name probably derived front that of a noble Saxon, who is reputed to have been its original proprietor, and from whom it came to the family of the Cobhams and the Clintons: they sold it to the renowned Knight, Sir Richard Waller, who accompanied Henry V. into France, and there highly distinguished himself in the field of Agincourt. In that famous battle he is said to have found the Duke of Orleans amidst the slain, with small signs of life remaining, when, by the King’s order, he was committed to the care and custody of this Knight, who conducted him prisoner to Groom bridge. At this mansion he was kept in honourable confinement twenty-five years. On paying four hundred thousand crowns for his ransom he obtained his release; and so highly was he satisfied with the liberal treatment of his generous host, that he rebuilt 191 his mansion, and repaired the parish church, over the porch of which his arms are still to be seen. As a further mark of his approbation, and perpetual memorial of his merits, he assigned to Sir Richard, and his heirs for ever, the escutcheon of France, suspended on a walnut-tree, with this motto, “Hi fructus virtutis.”
Between Groombridge Place and the Wells, the immense craggy rocks and deep vallies, with the lofty cliffs and narrow gloomy chasms that lead through them, yield a more noble species of scenery than has yet presented itself in this pursuit. Some of these eminences are more than seventy feet in height, and strike the beholder from the vallies beneath, with a peculiar degree of pleasure and astonishment. This romantic and retired scenery is within two miles of the Wells, and is a retreat much frequented by the company who resort thither; the annexed 192 sketch, from a scene in the high road, will faintly convey an idea of a place on which various conjectures and opinions have been formed. From the wonderful and singular appearance of nature, and the varied and irregular disposition of these rocky prominencies, little doubt remains of their being the effect of some violent convulsion of the earth.
The general face of the neighbouring country corroborates the idea; but at what period this may have happened, philosophy is not able to trace, nor history to reveal. In the forest of this neighbourhood is a limpid spring of very delicious water, known by the appellation of Adam’s Well; the virtues of which seem to be of still more ancient date than the adjacent wells at Tunbridge. It is only within a few years that this place has been accessible by carriages, and it has ever been with difficulty reached even by persons 193 on foot, who were obliged to scramble over hedge, bramble, and brier to attain it.
The well was purchased by the late Mr. Pinchbeck within the last thirty years, through the persuasion of a Yorkshire attorney and others, whose horses had been materially benefited by the use of the waters. If the poem, from which the following lines are extracted, be true, this Well may fairly rival the waters of Lethe, for here all chronic and other complaints, not to except the pangs arising from the tender passion, may be removed, and every human ill
“Yields to its balmy power;
“Disabled limbs, inflamed eyes,
“And bosoms full of plaintive sighs,
“Are soften’d ev’ry hour.”
The river Medway, in its course toward Speldhurst, works several mills, and at the village it acquires sufficient strength to supply 194 a considerable iron foundery, called Barden Furnace, where cannon of the largest dimensions have formerly been made; and in the neighbourhood a great quantity of iron ore has been dug up.
The efficacy of the medicinal waters at Tunbridge Wells are so well known as to render a minute history of them unnecessary. The virtues of these waters are reported to have been accidentally discovered in the beginning of the reign of James I. by Dudley Lord North, while he resided in this neighbourhood. The springs then opened were seven in number, which were soon afterwards resorted to by multitudes of the middling and lower class of people, who received great benefit from them: these springs, being on the borders of Lord Abergavenny’s estates, it became his interest to give them every advantage in his power; he therefore cleared them of all incumbrances, ordered wells to be sunk, a 195 pavement to be laid round them, and the whole to be inclosed with wooden rails. In the year 1630 Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles I. was advised to visit this place for the recovery of her health; and tents were erected for her reception upon Bishop’s Down Common, as at that time, no house stood on this desart part of the county. She is said to have one day walked from the well into the borders of Sussex, where, growing weary, she sat down on a bank for repose, after which she ordered a stone to be placed there in remembrance of her excursion; and some adulatory lines were added thereto by one of her attendants. Of the stone, or inscription, no trace is to be found; but the spot has served as a resting place to many a weary traveller since her time, as an ale-house has been erected thereon, in the road to Frant, and is known by the sign of the Black Dog.196
Tunbridge Wells, in the reign of Charles II., was much patronized by his Queen and the Royal Family, and under such dissipated influence it became as much the seat of gaiety and fashion, as the resort of disease and infirmity. About this period every improvement and accommodation took place; and it has since continued, particularly with persons of the first fashion, to hold the highest rank amongst our places of public resort.
The air of this vicinity is deemed peculiarly salubrious; and its rides, in point of prospect, are delightful; but the depth of sand in the high roads renders them, at the season when the wells are most frequented, extremely unpleasant.
The various mounts, Ephraim, Sion, &c. have each their claim to notice; the appellation of the latter has been given within the 197 last century by an honest publican, of the name of Jordan, who built the first house on this spot.
The produce of the surrounding country is fertile in the growth of the holly, sycamore, yew and other trees, from which an ingenious manufactory of useful and elegant inlaid works, has been established. Among other luxuries for which Tunbridge Wells is famed, the delicious wheat-ear, or English ortolan, should not be forgotten. These birds, during the summer season, are found in great abundance on the South Downs, where, to catch them, the shepherds make little holes about a foot long and six inches broad, in which they place snares of horsehair; the birds, being fearful of rain, run into these holes for shelter, on the approach of every cloud, and are caught in great numbers.198
After the death of [Ann Bulleyne’s] father, the King seized on this castle, with its demesnes, in right of his late wife, the Earl’s daughter.
[A fine definition of chutzpah, to be sure.]
If the poem, from which the following lines are extracted, be true
[He seems to have cribbed from the 1786 Tunbridge Wells Guide, where it is headed “Extempore on Adam’s Well, July 24, 1775”:
As Adam, who began the world,
When mortals were from chaos hurl’d,
Stands first in antient story;
So Adam’s Well, which bears his name,
For water stands the first in fame
To cure the leprous and the lame,
And bears away the glory.
Scorbutic sores, rheumatic pain,
Of which poor mortals so complain,
Yield to its balmy power:
Disabled limbs, inflamed eyes,
And bosoms full of plaintive sighs,
Are soften’d every hour. ]
The various mounts, Ephraim, Sion, &c.
[Using a fairly generous definition of “mount”, since the highest peak in Kent barely tops 1000 ft (300 m).]
FROM Tunbridge Wells our river Medway, in a very narrow stream, winds spiral course towards the elegant remains of Bayham Abbey; I call them elegant; a phrase that may by some be deemed an improper epithet; but if ever the word could be applied to ruinated scenery, it certainly is here admissible. The clustered Gothic pillars, the broken pointed arches and richly sculptured ornaments, all mouldering into decay and tufted here and there with the shaggy moss and creeping ivy, render it an assemblage of objects equally beautiful in the eye of the painter, and the contemplation of the moralist. Lo!
“Passion sleeps while mouldering ruins speak;
“Methinks I hear some furrow’d Monk relate,
“What frenzy urg’d to Bayham’s still retreat;200
“With vain regret, in pensive mood declare
“I fought at Agincourt, my trade was war;
“But quitting honor, and ambition’s road,
“Sought an asylum in this house of God.”
This venerable and extensive ruin was formerly an Abbey of Premonstratensian or White Canons, an order founded about the year 1120, at Premonstre, in France, from whence it derives its appellation. Their habit was a white cassock, with a rochet over it, and a long white cloak. This religious order was introduced into England as early as the reign of King Stephen. The priory was originally established in the neighbourhood of Maidstone; but the Monks pretending not to like the air of that place, or thinking that they might have address to procure a better, shewed a dissatisfaction in the enjoyment of this spot.
The influence of a Monk’s rhetoric over the softer sex, has become almost proverbial: 201 in this case they applied that talent so dexterously, as to prevail on the daughter of their founder, Ralph De Dene, who bore the appellation of Ela De Sackville, to remove them to Bayham, or, as it was then called, (in the reign of Richard I.) Begeham Abbey. By this lady, and other pious patrons, this Abbey was largely endowed, and, probably, from these liberal benefactions, became one of the first that Cardinal Wolsey laid his clutches on, to enable him to prosecute the plan of founding his Colleges of Ipswich and Oxford. Amidst these charming ruins, Mr. Pratt, their owner, has built a good house, and somewhat in the Gothic style, that it may assimilate with the taste of the adjoining ruins. This gentleman is nephew to Earl Camden, a name distinguished in the annals of this country, and deeply impressed in the breast of every Englishman who admires the fabric of our excellent constitution.202
Having followed the course of our river Medway through its various meandrings to this much admired spot, its stream from hence may be deemed so insignificant as to render any further pursuit of it unnecessary.
I cannot, however, take leave of the banks of this River, fertile and beautiful as I have found it in every part, without paying an equal tribute of respect and admiration to that high character by which the men of Kent have been so renowned above those of every other part of our much-envied island. The united testimonies of the great, the brave and the learned, may be truly adduced in support of this position. Time has done away the suspicion of flattery on their part, and truth, by the consent of ages, has stamped an indelible authority on their names. Cæsar highly commended their humanity. Lambarde himself, a venerable authority, in his perambulations, 203 bears honorable record of their fame, and adds the weight of a name of much higher antiquity, that of Gervasius, to prove “That the foreward in all battells belongeth to them (by a certain preeminence) in right of their manhoode. It is agreed by all men, that there were never any bondsmen (or villaines, as the law calleth them) in Kent.” These personal immunities were doubtless the rewards of personal courage; and there seems as little doubt that the men of Kent had an unquestionable title to these distinctions; as our poet Drayton, in his Poly Olbion, which includes the history of every other county in the realm, has emphatically recited them.
“Of all the English shires be those surnam’d the Free,
“And foremost ever plac’d when they shall reckon’d be.”
The assertion of Lambarde is confirmed by Camden. He quotes from the polycration 204 of John of Salisbury the following sentence:—“As a reward of that signal courage which our Kent, with great might and steadiness, shewed against the Danes, they do to this day lay claim to the honour of the first ranks, and the first charge in all engagements.” And he farther quotes Malmesbury, who says in their praise, “The country people and the citizens in KENT, retain the spirit of that ancient nobility, above the rest of the English; being more ready to afford respect and kind entertainment to others, and less inclinable to revenge injuries.”
The same idea of the military prowess of the men of Kent, and their foremost claims to the post of honor, and danger, which has been supported by such numerous, and respectable testimonies, amongst the earliest authors of our national history, seems to have been adopted by an elegant writer of the present 205 century; and extended as far as rhetorical figures, and the licence of poetical language, can carry it. He first states the popular, and most probably fabulous, tradition, that this island once formed a part of the Continent, and was, by some convulsion of the earth or irruption of the ocean, dissevered or divided from the coast of France; and then, in those struggles between two nations, whom nature herself, by the position of their respective territories, has for ever constituted rivals for the commerce of the world and dominion of the seas, does not hesitate, in the name of the genius of his country, to foretell, that by the arm of the inhabitants of Kent, the power of France shall be broken:—thus, in the vigour of its exertions, making this single county represent the whole island: and in the same spirit he concludes, that the produce almost of this county alone, shall have a decided superiority over the 206 boasted produce of the whole nation of France.
Now on fair Dover’s topmost cliff I’ll stand,
And look with scorn and triumph on proud France.
Of yore an isthmus, jutting from this coast,
Join’d the Britannic to the Gallic shore;
But Neptune on a day, with fury fir’d,
Rear’d his tremendous trident, smote the earth,
And broke th’ unnatural union at a blow.——
“’Twixt you and you, my servants and my sons,
“Be there (he cried) eternal discord.—France
“Shall bow the neck to Cantium’s peerless offspring,
“And as the oak reigns lordly o’er the shrub,
“So shall the hop have homage from the vine.”
our river Medway, in a very narrow stream, winds its spiral course
text has winds it spiral
belongeth to them (by a certain preeminence)
[Or, if you prefer, pre-eminence. Earlier in the book we had one of each at mid-line; this one comes at a line break.]
“Passion sleeps while mouldering ruins speak
[Like the previous chapter’s poem, this too is lifted from the Tunbridge Wells Guide. It is part of a longer poem, “On Bayham Abbey”.]
the popular, and most probably fabulous, tradition, that this island once formed a part of the Continent
[Maybe, maybe not. But definitely not within human memory.]
Now on fair Dover’s topmost cliff I’ll stand
[Christopher Smart again, “The Hop-Garden”.]
In the Press, and speedily will be published,
One Volume Royal Octavo:
In the Course of the present Year,
Two Volumes of the same Size.
WORKS WILL BE ILLUSTRATED
VIEWS ENGRAVED IN AQUA TINTA,
The River Severn seems to have fallen by the wayside; we’ll have to make do with the Wye. Watch This Space.
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.