Infomotions, Inc.Wanderings in Wessex An Exploration of the Southern Realm from Itchen to Otter / Holmes, Edric, 1873-



Author: Holmes, Edric, 1873-
Title: Wanderings in Wessex An Exploration of the Southern Realm from Itchen to Otter
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
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Title: Wanderings in Wessex
       An Exploration of the Southern Realm from Itchen to Otter

Author: Edric Holmes

Release Date: March 2, 2004 [EBook #11410]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

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[Illustration: WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL.]


WANDERINGS IN WESSEX

AN EXPLORATION OF THE SOUTHERN REALM
FROM ITCHEN TO OTTER


BY EDRIC HOLMES

Author of "Seaward Sussex," etc.



With 12 full-page drawings by

M.M. VIGERS

and over one hundred illustrations in the text by the author.

Map and Plans



  Dear hills do lift their heads aloft
  From whence sweet springes doe flow
  Whose moistvr good both firtil make
  The valleis covchte belowe
  Dear goodly orchards planted are
  In frvite which doo abovnde
  Thine ey wolde make thy hart rejoice
  To see so pleasant grovnde

  (_Anon. 16th Century_)



NOTE

The obvious limitations imposed by the size of this volume upon its
contents, and the brief character of the reference to localities that
require separate treatment to do them justice, would call for an
apology if it were not made clear that the object of the book is but
to introduce the would-be traveller in one of the fairest quarters of
England to some of its glories, both of natural beauty and of those
due to the skill and labour of man.

The grateful thanks of the author are due to those of his predecessors
on the high roads and in the by-ways of Wessex who, in time past,
have chronicled their researches into the history and lore of the
country-side. In one way only can he claim an equality with them--in
a deep and undying affection for this beautiful and gracious province
of the Motherland.



CONTENTS


CHAP.

     INTRODUCTION

   I WINCHESTER AND CENTRAL HAMPSHIRE

  II SOUTHAMPTON WATER AND THE NEW FOREST

 III POOLE, WIMBORNE AND THE ISLE OF PURBECK

  IV DORCHESTER AND ITS SURROUNDINGS

   V WEYMOUTH AND PORTLAND

  VI WEST DORSET

 VII EAST DEVON

VIII THE SOMERSET, DEVON AND DORSET BORDERLAND

  IX SALISBURY AND THE RIVERS

   X STONEHENGE AND THE PLAIN

  XI THE BERKSHIRE BORDER AND NORTH HAMPSHIRE



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


FULL PAGE DRAWINGS

Winchester Cathedral _Frontispiece_
St. Cross
Bargate, Southampton
Corfe Castle
Cerne Abbey Gatehouse
Weymouth Harbour
The Charmouth Road
Ottery Church
Sherborne
Salisbury Cathedral
Stonehenge
Marlborough


PEN AND INK SKETCHES IN THE TEXT

The Dorset Coast--Mupe Bay
Font, Winchester Cathedral
Plan, Winchester Cathedral
Steps from North Transept, Winchester
Gateway, Winchester Close
Winchester College
Statue of Alfred
City Cross, Winchester
West Gate, Winchester
The Church, St. Cross
Romsey Abbey
The Arcades, Southampton
Netley Ruins
On the Hamble
Gate House, Titchfield
The Knightwood Oak in Winter
Lymington Church
Norman Turret, Christchurch
Sand and Pines. Bournemouth
Poole
Wimborne Minster
Julian's Bridge, Wimborne
Cranborne Manor
St. Martin's, Wareham
The Frome at Wareham
Plan of Corfe Castle
Corfe Village
St. Aldhelm's
Old Swanage
Tilly Whim
The Ballard Cliffs
Arish Mel
Lulworth Cove from above Stair Hole
Durdle Door
Puddletown
Dorchester
Napper's Mite
Maiden Castle
Wyke Regis
Old Weymouth
Portland
On the way to Church Ope
Bow and Arrow Castle
Portesham
St. Catherine's Chapel
Beaminster
Eggardon Hill
Bridport
Puncknoll
Chideock
Charmouth
Lyme from the Charmouth Footpath
Lyme Bay
Axmouth from the Railway
Seaton Hole
Beer
The Way to the Sea, Beer
Branscombe Church
Sidmouth
Axminster
Ford Abbey
Tower, Ilminster
Yeovil Church
Montacute
Batcombe
Sherborne Castle
Bruton Bow
Marnhull
Blandford
Milton Abbey
Gold Hill, Shaftesbury
Wardour Castle
Wilton House, Holbein Front
Bemerton Church
Old Sarum
Salisbury Market Place
High Street Gate
Plan of Salisbury Cathedral
Gate, South Choir Aisle
The Poultry Cross, Salisbury
Longford Castle
Downton Cross
Ludgershall Church
Gatehouse, Amesbury Abbey
Amesbury Church
Plan of Stonehenge (restored)
Stonehenge Detail
Enford
Boyton Manor
Longleat
Frome Church
Westbury White Horse
Porch House, Potterne
St. John's, Devizes
Bishop's Cannings
Silbury Hill
Devil's Den
Garden Front, Marlborough College
Cloth Hall, Newbury
Wolverton
The Inkpen Country
Whitchurch
Holy Ghost Chapel, Basingstoke
Basing
Corhampton
Map of Wessex



ARCHITECTURAL TERMS

_The following brief notes will assist the traveller who is not an
expert in arriving at the approximate date of ecclesiastical
buildings._

SAXON 600-1066. Simple and heavy structure. Very small wall openings.
Narrow bands of stone in exterior walls.

NORMAN 1066-1150. Round arches. Heavy round or square pillars. Cushion
capitals. Elaborate recessed doorways. Zig-zag ornament.

TRANSITION 1150-1200. Round arched windows combined with pointed
structural arch. Round pillars sometimes with slender columns
attached. Foliage ornament on capitals.

EARLY ENGLISH 1200-1280 (including Geometrical) Pointed arches.
Pillars with detached shafts. Moulded or carved capitals. Narrow and
high pointed windows. Later period--Geometrical trefoil and circular
tracery in windows.

DECORATED 1280-1380. High and graceful arches. Deep moulding to
pillars. Convex moulding to capitals with natural foliage. "Ball
flowers" ornament. Elaborate and flamboyant window tracery.

PERPENDICULAR 1380-1550. Arches lower and flattened. Clustered
pillars. Windows and doors square-headed with perpendicular lines.
Grotesque ornament. (The last fifty years of the sixteenth century
were characterized by a debased Gothic style with Italian details in
the churches and a beauty and magnificence in domestic architecture
which has never since been surpassed.)

JACOBEAN and GEORGIAN 1600-1800 are adaptations of the classical
style. The "Gothic Revival" dates from 1835.



INTRODUCTION


The kingdom of Wessex; the realm of the great Alfred; that state of
the Heptarchy which more than any other gave the impress of its
character to the England to be, is to-day the most interesting, and
perhaps the most beautiful, of the pre-conquest divisions of the
country.

As a geographical term Wessex is capable of several interpretations
and some misunderstandings. Early Wessex was a comparatively small
portion of Alfred's political state, but by the end of the ninth
century, through the genius of the West Saxon chiefs, crowned by
Alfred's statesmanship, the kingdom included the greater portion of
southern England and such alien districts as Essex, Kent, and the
distinct territory of the South Saxons.

The boundaries of Wessex in Alfred's younger days and before this
expansion took place followed approximately those of the modern
counties of Hants, Berks, Wilts and Dorset, with overlappings into
Somerset and East Devon.

The true nucleus of this principality, which might, without great call
upon the imagination, be called the nucleus of the future Britain, is
that wide and fertile valley that extends from the shores of the
Solent to Winchester and was colonized by two kindred races. Those
invaders known to us as the Jutes took possession of Vectis--the Isle
of Wight--and of the coast of the adjacent mainland. The second band,
of West Saxons, penetrated into the heart of modern Hampshire and
presently claimed the allegiance of their forerunners.

That seems to have been given, to a large extent in an amicable and
friendly spirit, to the mutual advantage of the allied races.

It would appear that these settlers--Jutes and Saxons--were either
more civilized than their contemporaries, or had a better idea of
human rights than had their cousins who invaded the country between
Regnum and Anderida to such purpose "that not one Briton remained." Or
it may be that the majority of the inhabitants of south central
Britain, left derelict by their Roman guardians, showed little
opposition. It is difficult for a brave and warlike race to massacre
in cold blood a people who make no resistance and are therefore not
adversaries but simply chattels to be used or ignored as policy, or
need, dictates. In 520 at Badbury Hill, however, a good fight seems to
have been made by a party of Britons led, according to legend, by the
great Arthur in person. The victory was with the defenders and had the
effect of holding up Cerdic's conquest for a short time. Again some
sort of resistance would seem to have been made before those
mysterious sanctuaries around Avebury and Stonehenge fell to the
Saxon. It is possible that the old holy places of a half-forgotten
faith were again resorted to during the distracting years which
followed the withdrawal of the Roman peace that, during its later
period, had been combined with Christianity. Whatever the cause, it is
certain that something prevented an immediate Saxon advance across the
remote country which eventually became Wiltshire and Dorset. But the
end came with the fall of the great strongholds around Durnovaria
(Dorchester) which took place soon after the Saxon victory at Deorham
in 577, twenty-five years after Old Sarum had capitulated, thus
cutting off from their brothers of the west and north those of the
British who still remained in possession of the coast country between
the inland waters and savage heathlands of East Dorset and the still
wilder country of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Cornwall.

So, by the end of the sixth century, the Kingdom of Wessex was made
more or less an entity, and the dark-haired, dark-eyed race who once
held the country were in the position of a conquered and vassal
people; for the times and the manners of those times well used by
their conquerors, especially in the country of the Dorsaetas, where at
the worst they were treated as useful slaves, and at the best the
masters were but rustic imitators of their forerunners, the Romans. To
the most careless observer a good proportion of the country people of
Dorset are unusually swarthy and "Welsh" in appearance, though of the
handsomer of the two or three distinct races that go to make up that
mixed nation, which has among its divergent types some of the most
primitive, both in a physical and mental sense, in Europe.

In the ninth century the Kingdom of Wessex had assumed a compact
shape, its boundaries well defined and capable of being well defended.
The valley of the Thames between Staines and Cricklade became the
northern frontier; westwards Malmesbury, Chippenham and Bath fell
within its sphere, and Bristol was a border city. To the east of
Staines the overlordship of Wessex extended across the river and
reached within twenty miles of the Ouse at Bedford. These districts
were the remnants of the united state of the first King of the
English--Egbert, whose realm embraced not only the midland and
semi-pagan Mercia, but who claimed the fealty of East Anglia and
Northumbria and for a few years made the Firth of Forth the north
coast of England. To the south-west the country that Alfred was called
upon to govern reached to the valley of the Plym, and so "West Wales"
or Cornwall became the last retreat of those Britons who refused to
bow to the Saxon.

It will be seen how difficult a matter it is to define the district
this book has to describe, so the southern boundary of the true Wessex
must be taken as the coast line from the Meon river on the east side
of Southampton Water to the mouth of Otter in Devon. On the north, the
great wall of chalk that cuts off the south country from the Vale of
Isis and the Midlands and that has its bastions facing north from
Inkpen Beacon to Hackpen Hill in the Marlborough Downs. East and west
of these summits an arbitrary line drawn southwards to the coast
encloses with more or less exactitude the older Wessex.

Outside the limits here set down but still within Alfred's Kingdom is
a land wonderful in its wealth of history, gracious in its English
comeliness, the fair valleys and gentle swelling hills of South-west
Devon, wildly beautiful Dartmoor and the coloured splendour of Exmoor,
the patrician walls of Bath, and the high romance of ancient Bristol.
Under the Mendip is that gem of medieval art at Wells, one of the
loveliest buildings in Europe, and the unmatched road into the heart
of the hills that runs between the most stupendous cliffs in South
Britain. Not far away is Avalon, or Glastonbury if you will, the
mysteries of which are still being mysteriously unfathomed. From the
chalk uplands of our northern boundary we may look to the distant vale
in whose heart is the dream city of domes and spires--Oxford, and
trace the trench of England's greatest river until it is lost in the
many miles of woodland that surge up to the walls of Windsor. East and
south is that beautiful and still lonely country that lies between the
oldest Wessex and the sister, and ultimate vassal, kingdom of Sussex;
the country of the Meonwaras, a region of heather hills and quiet pine
combes that stretch down to the Solent Sea and the maritime heart of
England--Portsmouth.

Across the narrow bar of silver sea is an epitome of Wessex in
miniature, Vectis, where everything of nature described in these
following chapters may be found, a Lilliputian realm that contains not
only Wessex but morsels of East Anglia and fragments of Mercia and
Northumbria, combined with the lovely villages and pleasant towns that
only Wight can show.

All this storied beauty is without the scope of this book but within
the greater Wessex that came to the King who is the really
representative hero of his countrymen. The genius of the West Saxon
became for a time, and to a certain extent through force of
circumstance, a jealous and rather narrow insularity, without wide
views and generous ideals, but to this people may be ascribed some of
the higher traits that go to redeem our race. That their original
rough virtues were polished and refined by their beautiful environment
in the land that became their heritage few can doubt. That their
gradual absorption and amalgamation with the other races who fought
them for the possession of this "dear, dear land" has resulted in the
evolution of a people with a great and wonderful destiny is manifest
to the world, and is a factor in the future of mankind at which we can
but dimly guess.

[Illustration: THE DORSET COAST--MUPE BAY.]

The scenery of Inner Wessex is as varied as the materials that go to
make it up, from the bare rolling chalk downs of Salisbury Plain to
the abrupt and imposing hills around the Vale of Blackmore. To most
who travel in search of the picturesque and the beautiful, the Dorset
coast and the country immediately in the rear, will make the greatest
appeal. The line of undulating cliffs, often towering in bold,
impressive shapes, that commences almost as soon as Dorset is entered
and continues without a dull mile to the eastern extremity of
Weymouth, is to some minds the finest stretch of England's shore
outside Cornwall, a county that depends entirely on its coast line for
its claim to beauty. To some eyes, indeed, the exquisite and varied
colouring of the Dorset cliffs is more satisfying than that of the
dour and dark rocks of Tintagel and the Land's End. And if Wessex
cannot boast the sustained grandeur of the stern face that England
turns to the Atlantic waves, the romantic arch of Durdle Door, the
majestic hill-cliff that rises above the green cleft of Arish Mel, and
the sombre precipices of St. Aldhelm's, with the smiling loveliness of
the Wessex lanes and hamlets behind them, will be sufficient
recompense.

Hampshire has been given the character of having the least interesting
shore of all the southern counties. This is a matter of individual
taste. The surf that beats on the sands from Bournemouth to
Southampton Water washes the very edge of the "Great Wood." Again, the
long pebble wall of the Chesil Bank and the barrier "fleets" of middle
Wessex are a real sanctuary of the wild. This is almost the longest
stretch in England without bathing machine or bungalow. Remote and
little visited also is the exquisite sea country that begins at the
strange little settlement of Bridport Quay and ends in Devonshire. To
the writer's mind there is nothing more lovely in seaward England than
the scenery around Golden Cap, that glorious hill that rises near
little old "Chiddick," and no sea town to equal Lyme, standing at the
gate of Devon and incomparably more interesting and unspoilt than any
Devon coast town.

But the traveller in search of something besides the picturesque will
not be contented until he has explored the wonderful region that
enshrines the most unique of human works in Britain, belonging to
remotely different ages and widely dissimilar in aspect and
purpose--Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. No one can claim to know
Wessex until some hours of quiet have been spent within the walls of
the ancient capital, and no one can know England until the spirit of
the English countryside, the secluded and primary village of the
byways with its mothering church, rich with the best of the past, has
been studied, known and loved. This is the essential England for which
the yeoman of England, whose memorials will be seen in almost every
Wessex hamlet, have given their lives.

[Illustration: ST. CROSS.]




CHAPTER I

WINCHESTER AND CENTRAL HAMPSHIRE


The foundations of the ancient capital of England were probably laid
when the waves of Celtic conquest that had submerged the Neolithic men
stilled to tranquillity. The earliest records left to us are many
generations later and they are obscure and doubtful, but according to
Vigilantius, an early historian whose lost writings have been quoted
by those who followed him, a great Christian church was re-erected
here in A.D. 164 by Lucius, King of the Belgae, on the site of a
building destroyed during a temporary revival of paganism. The Roman
masters of Lucius called his capital, rebuilt under their tuition,
"Venta Belgarum." The British name--Caer Gwent--belonged to the
original settlement. The size and boundaries of both are uncertain.
Remains of the Celtic age are practically non-existent beneath
Winchester, though the surrounding hills are plentifully strewn with
them, and if Roman antiquities occasionally turn up when the
foundations of new buildings are being prepared, any plan of the Roman
town is pure conjecture. The true historic interest of Winchester, and
historically it is without doubt the most interesting city in England,
dates from the time of those West Saxon chiefs who gave it the
important standing which was eventually to make it the metropolis of
the English.

The early history of Winteceaster is the history of Wessex, and when
Cerdic decided to make it the capital of his new kingdom, about 520,
it was probably the only commercial centre in the state, with
Southampton as its natural port and allied town. As the peaceful
development of Wessex went on, so the population and trade of the
capital grew until in a little over a hundred years, when Birinus came
from over seas bearing the cross of the faith that was soon to spread
with great rapidity over the whole of southern England, he found here
a flourishing though pagan town. After the conversion of King Cynegils
the first Wessex bishopric was founded at Dorchester near the banks of
the Thames, but by 674 this was removed to the capital where there had
been built a small church dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, probably on
the site now occupied by the cathedral and originally by the church of
Lucius and its predecessor.

The great structure we see to-day is remarkable in many ways. It is
the longest Gothic building in the world, and is only exceeded by St.
Peter's in Rome. In spite of the disappointment the stranger
invariably experiences at his first sight of the squat tower and
straight line of wall, its majestic interior, and the indefinable
feeling that this is still a temple and not a mere museum, will soon
give rise to a sense of reverent appreciation that makes one linger
long after the usual round of "sights" has been accomplished. The war
memorial, dignified and austere, that was placed outside the west
front in the autumn of 1921, is a most effective foil to the
singularly unimposing pile of stone and glass behind it. But, however
it may lack the elegance of the usual west "screen," this end of
Winchester Cathedral has the great merit of being architecturally
true.

[Illustration: FONT, WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL.]

Of the first Saxon building nothing remains. In this Egbert was
crowned King of the English in 827. It was strongly fortified by St.
Swithun, who was bishop for ten years from 852. At his urgent request
he was buried in the churchyard instead of within the cathedral walls.
Another generation wishing to honour the saint commenced the removal
of the relics. On the day set aside for this--St. Swithun's day--a
violent storm of rain came on and continued for forty days, thus
giving rise to the old and well known superstition of the forty days
of rain following St. Swithun's should that day be wet.

Under Bishop Swithun's direction the clergy and servants of the
cathedral successfully resisted an attack by the Danes when the
remainder of the city was destroyed. Soon after this, in the midst of
the Danish terror, Alfred became king and here he founded two
additional religious houses, St. Mary's Abbey, the Benedictine
"Nunnaminster;" and Newminster on the north side of the cathedral. Of
this latter St. Grimald was abbot. Nearly a hundred years later, in
Edgar's reign, the cathedral itself became a monastery, with Bishop
Athelwold as first abbot. He rebuilt the cathedral, dedicating it to
St. Swithun; it had been originally dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul.
Within this fabric Canute and his wife were buried; that earlier
Conqueror of the English having made Winchester his imperial capital.
A few years later, on Easter Day, the coronation of St. Edward took
place with great pomp. Soon after the advent of William I, who made
Winchester a joint metropolis with London and was crowned in both, the
building of the great Norman church by Bishop Walkelyn was begun; the
consecration taking place on St. Swithun's day 1093. Of this structure
the crypt and transepts remain practically untouched. The nave, though
Norman at its heart, has been altered in a most interesting way to
Perpendicular without scrapping the earlier work. Walkelyn's tower
fell in and ruined the choir in 1107, legend says as a protest against
the body of Rufus being placed beneath it. The present low tower
immediately took its place. Bishop de Lucy was responsible for
rebuilding the Early English choir about 1200. The famous Bishop
Wykeham completed the work of his predecessor, Edyngton, in rebuilding
the west front, and he it was who beautified the nave. The great east
window dates from about 1510; the lady chapel being rather earlier in
date.

[Illustration: PLAN, WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL.]

The extreme length of the cathedral is 556 feet; the breadth of the
transepts being 217 feet, and as the nave is entered the majestic
proportions of the great church will be at once appreciated.
Particular notice should be taken of the black font brought from
Tournai; it has the story of St. Nicholas carved upon it. The
situation of this and the tombs and other details will be quickly
identified by reference to the plan. On the south side is the chantry
of Bishop Wykeham, now fitted up as a chapel. Farther east is a
modern effigy, much admired, of Bishop Harold Browne, who died in
1891. A very beautiful iron grille that once protected the shrine of
St. Swithun now covers a door on the north side of the nave. Certain
of the piers in the nave were repaired in 1826-7 and the "restorer,"
one Garbett, inserted _iron_ engaged columns on the face of that
one nearest to Bishop Edyngton's chantry, it is said for the sake
of economy and strength! Some of the stained glass in the nave,
according to Mr. Le Coutier, dates from the time of Bishop Edyngton,
and that representing Richard II is a work contemporary with Bishop
Wykeham. This part of the building has been the scene of many
progresses--magnificent and sad--from the coronation processions of
the early kings and the slow march of their funerals to that of the
wedding of Mary I, when the queen blazed with jewels "to such an
extent that the eye was blinded as it looked upon her." But the most
unforgettable of all was on that dreadful day when the troops of
Waller marched up the nave, some mounted and all in war array, to
despoil the tombs of bishop and knight of their emblems of piety and
honour and to destroy anything beautiful that could be reached with
pike or sword.

On the right of the choir steps is Bishop Edyngton's chantry and on
the left the grave of the last Prior, Kingsmill, who afterwards became
first Dean. In the centre of the choir stands the reputed tomb of
William Rufus. This part of the building forms a mortuary chapel for
several of the early English Kings, including Canute. Their remains,
with those of several bishops, rest in the oak chests that lie on the
top of the choir screen. They were deposited here by Bishop Fox in
1534. This prelate was responsible for the beautiful east window; a
perfect specimen of old stained glass. The fine pulpit dates from
1520. In the choir, the scene of Edward Confessor's coronation in
1043, Mary I and Philip of Spain were married. The fine carvings of
the stalls date from 1296 and their canopies from 1390. They are among
the earliest specimens of their kind in Europe.

[Illustration: STEPS FROM NORTH TRANSEPT, WINCHESTER.]

The magnificent reredos was erected by Cardinal Beaufort; it is, of
course, restored. "The wretches who worked their evil will with this
beautiful relic of piety had actually chiselled the ornament down to a
plane surface and filled the concavities with plaster." It bore at one
time the golden diadem of Canute; behind it stood the splendid silver
shrine of St. Swithun, decorated with "the cross of emeralds, the
cross called Hierusalem" and who shall say what other gifts of piety
and devotion, all to become the spoils of that arch-iconoclast--Thomas
Cromwell.

Bishop Fox's chantry was built during his lifetime. It is on the south
side of the reredos, Gardiner's being on the north. Behind the reredos
are the chantries of Bishop Waynflete and of the great Cardinal
Beaufort. The latter claims attention for its graceful beauty and the
peculiarities of character shown in the face of the effigy within. He
is termed by Dean Kitchin, who draws attention to the "money-loving"
nose, the "Rothschild of his day." Beaufort was the representative of
England among the judges that condemned St. Joan of Arc to the flames
and, at the time of writing, a memorial to the Maid is in course of
preparation, to be set up near the Cardinal's tomb; an appropriate act
of contrition and reparation. Beyond the space at the back of the
reredos is the Early English Lady Chapel with an interesting series of
wall paintings depicting the story of our Lady. Here is the chair used
by Mary I at her wedding. Although it is unusual to praise anything
modern, the beautiful stained glass in this part of the cathedral,
forming a complete design, must be admired by the most confirmed
"antiquary."

It is in the transepts that the earlier architecture can be seen at
its best. This is nearly all pure Norman work, as is that of the
crypt. It has been suggested that the latter antedates the Conquest so
far as the base of the walls is concerned. Here is an ancient well
which may have served the defenders during the Danish siege.

On the wall of the north transept is a large painted figure of St
Christopher. The chapel of the Holy Sepulchre (about 1350) stands
between the transept and the choir. In the south transept Izaak Walton
rests beneath a black marble slab in Prior Silkstede's chantry.

The epitaph, written by Bishop Ken, may be quoted:

  ALAS! HEE'S GONE BEFORE
  GONE, TO RETURNE NOE MORE;
  OUR PANTING HEARTS ASPIRE
  AFTER THEIR AGED SIRE,
  WHOSE WELL-SPENT LIFE DID LAST
  FULL NINETY YEARS AND PAST.
  BUT NOW HE HATH BEGUN
  THAT WHICH WILL NERE BE DONE:
  CROWN'D WITH ETERNAL BLISSE,
  WE WISH OUR SOULS WITH HIS.

Near by is an old oak seat used by the monks between the services, and
a modern effigy of Bishop Wilberforce which strikes a Victorian note
in its general effect. The cathedral treasury was once the repository
of Domesday Book, also known as The Book of Winton.

Just before the Great War commenced, the costly operation of
underpinning the cathedral was brought to a successful conclusion.
Much alarm had been felt after the architect's report was made public.
There is little doubt that a more or less general collapse of the
structure would have occurred had this very necessary operation been
long deferred. Large sums were spent in the closing years of the
nineteenth century in the repair of the roof and walls. A tablet
recording the particulars is placed at the west end of the nave.

On leaving the cathedral some time may be spent in exploring the
interesting precincts and in endeavouring to reconstruct the medieval
aspect of this part of the city. The narrow "Slype," or public right
of way between the south transept and the site of the ancient
chapter-house, was probably made to replace a passage through the
interior, an intolerable nuisance at all times, but especially during
service hours. The old circuit wall of the monastery is still
standing, and the entrance to the deanery should be seen; this dates
from about 1220. The cloisters were destroyed for some unknown reason
in 1570. The ruins of Wolvesley Castle erected by Bishop de Blois
about 1150 are close to the cathedral on the south-east. It was the
residence of the Bishops, and part of the buildings formed an angle of
the city defences. The name Wolves _ey_ or _island_ is said to be a
survival from early Saxon days when the tributary Welsh here made an
offering of wolves' heads to their masters.

[Illustration: GATEWAY, WINCHESTER CLOSE.]

There are some very scanty and doubtful remains of the New Minster on
the north of the cathedral. This was pulled down at the dissolution of
the monasteries. Nunnaminster was also swept away during this woeful
time.

The College of St. Elizabeth stood near St. Mary's. Founded by Bishop
John de Pontissara in 1301 it was dedicated to St. Elizabeth of
Hungary. After the Dissolution it was sold to the Warden of St. Mary's
for three hundred and sixty pounds, subject to the condition that the
church should become a grammar school for seventy-five students, or
that it should be pulled down. This fate befell the building, which
had three altars and a total length of 120 feet as was shown in the
dry summer of 1842 when the outline of the walls was distinct in the
grass of the meadows on the south-east of Winchester College.

[Illustration: WINCHESTER COLLEGE.]

Winton is now as famous for St. Mary's College as for the cathedral
itself, and though not the earliest foundation of all the great
schools, it can claim to having taught Eton the rules of good
pedagogy. Henry VI came here to ask advice and obtain experience for
his new college on the banks of the Thames. The school was founded by
Wykeham in 1387 for "seventy poor scholars, clerks, to live college
wise and study grammar," and its roll contains a goodly proportion of
England's great men. Here students were taught rather more than is
stated above, and "Manners Makyth Man" became the watchword of the
foundation.

It was appropriate that the first of the great schools should be
established in the city of the warrior-student Alfred, the first of
that semi-barbarian race of monarchs to turn to the higher things of
the mind, and without losing the leadership of the nation and the love
of his people in so doing. On the contrary, he gained his niche in the
world's history as much for this virtue as for the heroic side of his
character. The King's palace stood not far from the river bank and
probably the college buildings cover part of the site. Like most Saxon
domestic structures, it was of wood, and no visible traces remain,
though the recent interesting discoveries at Old Windsor lead one to
wonder what may lie hidden beneath the turf here.

[Illustration: STATUE OF ALFRED.]

The Hero-King was buried, first in the cathedral, and then in the
Newminster. After the destruction of this building by fire, his
remains were removed to Hyde Abbey on the north of the city. This met
the fate of most other monasteries at the Dissolution, and the site of
the final interment and, according to some accounts, the actual
sarcophagus itself, were desecrated by eighteenth-century vandals in
order to build a lock-up!

The bronze figure of Alfred, standing with sword held aloft as a
cross, on its colossal block of granite at the bottom of High Street,
is an inspired work by Hamo Thornycroft. It was erected in 1901 to
commemorate the millenary of the king's death and is the most
successful statue in the kingdom, imposing in its noble simplicity.

High Street is still quaint and old fashioned, though it has few
really ancient houses. "God-Begot House" is Tudor and the old "Pent
House" over its stumpy Tuscan pillars is very picturesque. Taking the
town as a whole it can hold its own in interest with the only other
English medieval city worthy of comparison--Chester. The visitor must
have a fund of intelligent imagination and a blind eye for
incongruities and then his peregrinations will be a remembered
pleasure. The beautiful gardens belonging to the houses around the
close and the black and white front of Cheyney Court will be
recollected when more imposing scenes have faded.

The "George Hotel," though it but modestly claims to be "old
established," is said by some authorities to stand on the site of an
hostelry called the "Moon" that was very ancient in the days of
Richard II. The new title was given about the time of Agincourt when
the battle cry--"St. George "--had made the saint popular.

The City Cross is graceful and elegant fifteenth-century work, much
restored of course, and in a quaint angle of some old houses that
rather detract from its effectiveness. The exact site of the inhuman
execution of Mrs. Alicia Lisle in September, 1685, is unknown, but it
was probably in the wider part of the High Street. This gentle old
lady, nearly eighty years of age, had given shelter to two men in all
innocence of their connexion with Sedgemoor, but the infamous Jeffreys
ordered her to be burnt; a sentence commuted by James II to beheading.

The City walls were almost intact down to 1760. Now we have but the
fine West Gate and the King's Gate, over which is St. Swithun's
church. The churches of Winchester are little more than half their
former number. St. Maurice has a Norman doorway and St. Michael a
Saxon sundial. St. John Baptist and St. Peter, Cheesehill, are of the
most general interest. The former has a screen and pulpit over four
hundred years old; transitional arches; and an Easter sepulchre. The
latter is a square church mostly in Perpendicular style but with some
later additions more curious than beautiful. Visitors to St.
Lawrence's should read the inscription to Martha Grace (1680). St.
Bartholomew's, close to the site of Hyde Abbey, shows some Norman
work. In 1652 the Corporation petitioned Parliament to reduce the
several city parishes into two, deeming a couple of ministers, one for
each church, sufficient for the spiritual requirements of the city. In
connexion with this a tract was issued describing the ghastly
condition of the churches, one, St. Mary Kalendar being a garbage den
for butcher's offal, another, St. Swithun's, Kingsgate, was let by the
corporation as a tenement and had a pigsty within it!

[Illustration: CITY CROSS, WINCHESTER.]

The ancient castle and residence of the Kings of England is now
represented only by the Great Hall, dating from the early part of the
thirteenth century. It is used for county business and is a good
specimen of the domestic architecture of the time. The great interest
of the hall is the reputed Round Table of King Arthur, placed at its
west end. Experts have decided that it cannot be older than 1200. The
painted names upon it are those of Arthur's Knights. These were
executed in the reign of Henry VIII and replaced earlier inscriptions.
The Hospital of St. John Baptist is in Basket Lane. Established by
John Deverniche, one of the city fathers, in 1275 for the succour of
aged wayfarers, it was suppressed at the Reformation, but reverted to
its original purpose in 1829, and is thus one of the oldest living
foundations of its kind in the kingdom.

Charles II desired to revive the royal glories of Winton and
commissioned the erection of a palace which was unfinished when he
died. After being used as a barracks, the fine building was
practically destroyed in 1894 by a disastrous fire. This element was
almost as great an enemy of old Winchester as the reformers
themselves. On one occasion the town was fired by a defender, Savaric
de Mauleon, on the approach of a French army under Louis the Dauphin.
When the other, and junior, capital was receiving its cleansing by
fire in 1666, Winchester was being more than decimated by the plague,
which was as direful here as anywhere else.

The city is 1,025 years old as a corporate town. Its staple business
in medieval times was the sale of wool or its manufacture into cloth.
Standing midway between two great tracts of sheep country, it was the
natural mart for this important trade and therefore prospered and
became rich. St. Giles' Fair, once famous and of great importance to
cattle and sheep farmers, finally expired about the middle of the last
century. In its prime it was of such a nature that the jurisdiction of
the Mayor and the City Courts was in abeyance for sixteen days from
the twelfth of September. It was held on St. Giles' Hill just without
the town. The fair was under the patronage of the Bishop, who
appointed a "Justice of the Court of Pavilion" during the period of
the fair.

[Illustration: WEST GATE, WINCHESTER.]

The chief excursion that every one takes, and that every one should
take, from Winchester is to St. Cross. The beautiful old Norman church
and its equally beautiful surrounding buildings almost rival
Winchester Close itself in their interest and charm. A short walk
southwards through the suburb of Sharkford leads direct in a little
over a mile to this goal of the archaeologist. A slightly longer but
pleasanter route goes by the banks of the Itchen.

St. Cross is the oldest charity, still living its ancient life, that
remains to us. Its charter is dated 1151, but it was founded nearly
twenty years earlier by Bishop Henry de Blois. The document set forth
that thirteen "poor men, so reduced in strength as to be unable to
raise themselves without the assistance of another" should be lodged,
clothed and entertained, and that one hundred other poor men of good
conduct should dine here daily. The munificent charity of the founder
was soon abused and the funds had the common habit of disappearing
into the capacious pockets of absentee masters. William of Wykeham and
his immediate successor, Beaufort, caused reforms in the
administration and added to the foundation, the latter instituting an
almshouse of "Noble Poverty," which was partly carried out by Bishop
Waynflete in 1486. The brethren of this newer foundation wear a red
gown; those of the old, a black gown bearing a silver cross. Even
within living memory scandals connected with the administration were
perpetuated; an Earl of Guildford taking over L1,000 annually during a
period of fifty years for the nominal mastership. This peer was a
nephew of Bishop Brownlow North. It was in 1855 that the Hospital was
put on its present footing and the charity of the hundred diners
finally became the maintenance of fifty poor people of good character
in the vicinity.

To the average tourist the chief interest seems to be the dole of
bread and beer which must be given to whoever claims it until the two
loaves and two gallons of liquor are exhausted. The well-clothed
stranger who has the temerity to ask for it must not be surprised at
the homoeopathic quantity which is handed to him. I am informed that
the genuine wayfarer receives a more substantial dole.

The beautiful church of the Holy Cross measures 125 feet in length,
and 115 feet across at the transepts. The choir is a fine example of
Transitional Norman with a square east end. The ancient high altar is
of Purbeck marble. The Early English nave and the Decorated west front
show the centuries through which the church grew. It is said that it
was originally thatched, the lead roof being placed by Bishop Edyngton
in 1340. A fine screen which now divides the chancel from the north
aisle came from St. Faith's church, as did the old Norman font. The
fine old woodwork and ancient tiles (some having upon them the words
"Have Mynde.") are noteworthy. The chancel contains the magnificent
brass of John de Campeden who was Wykeham's Master of the Hospital and
who was responsible for raising the church and domestic buildings from
a ruinous state to one of comeliness and good order. The mid-Victorian
restorations, though fairly successful, included a detestable colour
scheme which goes far to spoil the general effect of the interior and
should be removed, as was done after much agitation, some years ago in
St. Paul's Cathedral. It is a great pity that any attempt should be
made to imitate this seemingly lost art. Far better to leave the walls
of our churches to the colouring that time gives than to wash or paint
them with the tints that seem to be inevitably either gaudy or dismal.

The buildings inhabited by the brothers form two quadrangles. The
outer court has the "Hundred Men's Hall" on the east side, the gateway
tower and the porter's lodge being on the south. From this runs an
ambulatory and overhead gallery to the church. The hall porch bears
the arms of Cardinal Beaufort over the centre and inside are various
relics of his time, such as candlesticks, pewter dishes, black leather
jacks, etc., and in the centre of the hall is the old hearth. The
actual dwellings of the brethren are in the inner court on the west
and part of the north side. The buildings erected by Beaufort have
disappeared; they were on the south of the church.

No description can give any adequate idea of the beautiful grouping of
these old grey walls, which must have been the inspiration of one who
was artist as well as architect. In June and through the summer months
the beautiful garden and its fish pond belonging to the master's house
is a sight not easily forgotten.

[Illustration: THE CHURCH, ST. CROSS.]

Winchester does not make a particularly good picture from any of its
surrounding hills. Its crown--the cathedral--lacks that inspiring
vision of soaring, pointing spire that causes the wayfarer leaving
Salisbury to turn so many times for a last glimpse of its splendour
against the setting sun. Its square and sturdy tower lacks the grace
of those western lanterns whose pinnacles are reflected in the waters
of Severn and Wye. But the town, with the long leaden roof of the
cathedral among its guardian elms, makes a pleasant and very English
picture as we ascend the long road to St. Catherine's Hill, which
rises directly east of St. Cross. This hill may be the true origin of
Winchester as a settlement. It is an ideal spot for a stronghold,
either for those whom the Romans displaced or for the Conquerors
themselves. Its great entrenchments look down directly upon the river
flowing in its several meandering channels beneath. On the other side
of the hill from the river valley the Roman highway comes in a great
curve from its straight run off Deacon Hill to distant Porchester,
though by far the greater portion of that course has been lost. The
bold clump of trees on the summit, so characteristic of the chalk
hills, is visible for miles and takes the place of towers and spires
to the returning Wykehamist, eager for his first glimpse of Winton.
Paths may be taken to the southward across Twyford Down that
eventually lead into the Southampton highways, by which a return can
be made to the city.

Among the more interesting near-by villages, that will repay the
traveller for the walk thither, are the "Worthy's":--Headbourne,
King's, Abbot's and Martyr's. To reach the church at Headbourne Worthy
from the road one crosses a running stream by a footbridge. The little
building is Saxon in part and won the enthusiastic regard of Bishop
Wilberforce. It is exceedingly quaint and, although restored, unspoilt
in appearance. Over the porch was once a hermit's cell. The clipped
and much maltreated stone Rood at the west door is Saxon work and the
most interesting item in the church.

A little further away is King's Worthy, with an uninteresting and
rebuilt Perpendicular church in a pretty spot on the banks of the
Itchen. At the far end of the village the Roman road to Basingstoke
leaves the way taken by the pilgrims from Winchester to Canterbury at
Worthy Park, and the straggling houses on its sides soon become the
hamlet of Abbot's Worthy, a name reminiscent of the time when the
countryside was parcelled out among the great religious houses. This
village was once in the possession of Hyde Abbey and afterwards became
the property of that Lord Capel who defended Colchester for the King
during the Civil War. Martyr's Worthy, a mile farther, has a Norman
arch to the doorway of its church, but is otherwise unremarkable.
"Martyr," by the way, is a misspelt abbreviation for "Mortimer."
Itchen Abbas, the goal of this short journey, is not five miles from
the centre of Winchester and is a great resort of fishermen. Here
Charles Kingsley came to stay at the "Plough" and, I am told, wrote a
good part of _Water Babies_ between spells upon the trout stream
near-by. Possibly these charming chapters were planned while the
author watched the placid waters before him.

The main road winds on to pleasant Alresford, where Mary Russell
Mitford was born. The principal attraction of the town is a large
lake, made by Bishop de Lucy in the twelfth century as an aid to the
navigation of the Itchen. Not so far as this, and in the same
direction, is Titchborne, quiet and remote among its trees with an old
church that boasts a Saxon chancel and with memories of the
Titchbornes, whose separate aisle and secret altar for the celebration
of mass indicate their devotion to the old faith. But our return route
passes Abbas church and crosses the river to Easton, a rambling and
pleasant river-village full of mellow half-timbered houses and with a
church that boasts a Norman apse and fine chancel arch. There is a
unique monument in this church to the widow of William Barton, Bishop
in turn of St. Asaph, St. David's, Bath and Wells, and Chichester,
whose five daughters _married five bishops_! The walk across the
meadows to Winnal and the city is one of the best near Winchester, but
is hardly pleasant after wet weather. The hilly road, about three
miles long, direct from Martyr's Worthy, affords pretty glimpses of
the Itchen valley and the low Worthy Downs beyond. Just before the
last descent toward Winnal there is a fairly good view of Winchester
itself.

The straight, dusty and rather wearisome Roman road to Southampton
runs up to a spur of Compton Down, a once lonely hill but now
unsightly with the red-brick and plate glass of suburban Winchester.
Near the conspicuous roadside cross--a memorial to fallen
heroes--there is a distant view of the city, veiled in blue smoke, to
the rear. Compton church, in the combe beyond, has made good its place
in history by recording its ancient past in the porch of the building
erected in 1905. The old church is actually one of the aisles of the
new, and here may be seen an ancient wall painting and two piscina. A
little over a mile to the south-east is picturesque Twyford on the
wooded banks of the Itchen. Here Pope went to school for a time, and
in the chapel of Bambridge House close by Mrs. Fitzherbert was married
to the future George IV.

Twyford Church was believed by Dean Kitchen to be built on the site of
a Stone circle. Two large "Sarsens" or megaliths lie by the side of
the building, and a magnificent yew stands in the churchyard. Shawford
Downs, that rise above the river and village, are scored with
"lynchets" or ancient cultivation terraces and there is no doubt that
the neighbourhood has been the home of successive races from a most
remote age.

The high-road continues over hill and down dale to Otterbourne, with
its memories of a celebrated Victorian writer, Miss Charlotte M.
Yonge. The Rood in the rebuilt church was erected to her memory nearly
twenty years ago. The tall granite cross in the pretty churchyard
commemorates the incumbency of Keble, the author of the _Christian
Year_, who was also vicar of Hursley, three miles away to the
north-west, where a beautiful church was erected through his efforts
on the site of an eighteenth-century building, and, it is said, paid
for by royalties on his famous book. At Hursley Park Richard Cromwell
resided during the Protectorate of his father. He is buried with his
wife and children in Hursley church.

[Illustration: ROMSEY ABBEY.]

A road runs westwards from near the summit of Otterbourne Hill through
the beautiful woods of Hiltingbury and Knapp Hill to the valley of the
Test at Romsey. There are a couple of inns and a few scattered houses,
but no village on the lonely seven miles until the parallel valley is
reached.

Romsey Abbey dates from the reign of Edward the Elder, and his
daughter, St. Alfreda, was first Abbess. Another child of a
king--Mary, daughter of Stephen--became Abbess in 1160, and her uncle,
Henry de Blois of Winchester, built the greater part of the present
church about 1125, the western portion of the nave following between
1175 and 1220. The building is 263 feet long and 131 feet broad across
the transepts. The interior is an interesting study in Norman
architecture and the change to Early English is nowhere seen to better
advantage. Portions of the foundations of the Saxon church were laid
bare during repairs to the floor in 1900. A section is shown beneath a
trap door near the pulpit.

A peculiar arrangement of the eastern ends of the choir aisles is
noteworthy. They are square as seen from the exterior, but prove to be
apsidal on entering. At the end of the south choir aisle, forming a
reredos to the side altar, an ancient Saxon Rood will be seen; the
Figure is sculptured in an archaic Byzantine style. The Jacobean altar
in the north choir aisle was once in the chancel and had above it
those old-fashioned wooden panels of the Lord's Prayer and Ten
Commandments that may still be met with occasionally. When these were
removed an ancient painted reredos was found behind them. It is now
placed in the north choir aisle. The subject is the Resurrection and
the painting is dated at about 1380. In a glass case is the Romsey
Psalter which, after many vicissitudes, has become once more the
property of the Abbey.

In 1625, for some unknown reason, the two upper stages of the tower
were pulled down and the present wooden belfry erected. Outside the
"nuns door" is a very fine eleventh-century Rood that owes its
preservation to the fact that for many years it was covered by a
tradesman's shed!

Nothing remains of the conventual buildings but a few scanty patches
of masonry. The history of the Abbey was not a very edifying one and,
although every effort was made to save the house at the Dissolution,
chiefly by the exhibition of the imposing royal charters of foundation
and re-endowment, the many scandals recorded gave the despoilers an
additional, and possibly welcome, excuse for their work.

A great amount of careful and reverent restoration was carried out
some years ago by the late Mr. Berthon, a former vicar; but he will
probably be remembered by posterity as the inventor of the portable
boat that bears his name and which is still made, or was till
recently, in the town. Romsey (usually called _Rumsey_) is not a good
place in which to stay and, apart from the Abbey, is quite
uninteresting. In the centre of the town is a statue of Lord
Palmerston, who lived at Broadlands, a beautifully situated mansion a
short distance away to the south.

A pleasant journey by road or rail can be taken up the valley of the
Test between the low chalk hills of Western Hampshire to Stockbridge
(or even farther north to Whitchurch or Andover, but these districts
must be left until later). At Mottisfont, four miles from Romsey, was
once a priory of Augustinians. Remnants of the buildings are
incorporated with the present mansion. In the church perhaps the most
interesting item, by reason of the alien touch in this remote corner
of Hampshire, is an heraldic stone of the Meinertzhazen family brought
here from St. Michael's, Bremen, at the end of the nineteenth century.
The square font of Purbeck marble is of the same date as the Norman
arch in the chancel. Just to the south of the village a branch line of
railway follows a remote western valley to its head and then drops to
the Avon valley and Salisbury. To the east is another lonely stretch
of country through which the ridge of Pitt Down runs to the actual
suburbs of Winchester. At the western end of this ridge, and about
three miles up the Test from Mottisfont, are the villages of
Horsebridge and King's Somborne on the southern confines of what was
once John of Gaunt's deer park. The present bridge is higher up the
stream, but the railway-station is on the actual site of the ancient
road between Winchester and Old Sarum and the "horse bridge" was then
lower down stream and almost immediately due west of the station.
Somborne gets its prefix from the fact that an old mansion usually
called "King John's Palace" formerly stood here, it may be that it
belonged to John of Gaunt. Certain mounds and small sections of wall
are pointed out as the remains of this house; they will be found to
the south-west of the church; a much restored, but still interesting,
thirteenth-century building. The font, of Purbeck marble, is very
fine; of interest also are the late Jacobean chancel rails and certain
crosses and monograms on the north doorway.

A road runs for six miles north-westwards up into the chalk hills by
the side of the Wallop brook to the euphoniously named villages of
Nether, Middle, and Over Wallop. The first and last have interesting
churches, but the excursion, if taken, should be as an introduction to
perhaps the most remote and unspoilt region of the chalk country.
Although the Wallop valley is fairly well populated, the older people
are as unsophisticated as any in southern England. The scenery is
quietly pleasant, the hills away to the southwest exceeding, here and
there, the 500 feet contour line. One of them, near the head of the
valley, is named "Isle of Wight Hill." It is only upon the clearest of
days that the distant Island is seen over the shoulder of the
neighbouring Horseshoe Hill and across the long glittering expanse of
Southampton Water.

Proceeding up the fertile valley of the Test, Stockbridge is reached
in another three miles. This sleepy old country town and one-time
parliamentary borough occasionally wakes up when sheep fairs and other
rural gatherings take place in its spacious High Street, but on other
days it is the very ideal of a somnolent agricultural centre; it is,
therefore, a pleasant headquarters from which to explore the
north-western part of the county. The long line of picturesque roofs
and broken house-fronts, in all the mellow tints that age alone can
give, makes as goodly a picture as any in Hampshire. On the right-hand
side, going down the street, is the Grosvenor Inn with its projecting
porch. Next door is the old Market House and across the way stands the
turreted Town Hall.

Alone in a quiet graveyard at the upper end of the town is the chancel
of old St. Peter's church, now used as the chapel of the burying
ground. Most of the removable items were taken to the new church
erected in High Street in 1863, including certain fine windows and the
Norman font of Purbeck marble. In a neglected corner of the old
churchyard is the tombstone of John Bucket, one-time landlord of the
"King's Head" in Stockbridge. It bears the following oft-quoted
epitaph:

  And is, alas! poor Bucket gone?
  Farewell, convivial honest John.
  Oft at the well, by fatal stroke
  Buckets like pitchers must be broke.
  In this same motley shifting scene,
  How various have thy fortunes been.
  Now lifting high, now sinking low,
  To-day the brim would overflow.
  Thy bounty then would all supply
  To fill, and drink, and leave thee dry,
  To-morrow sunk as in a well,
  Content unseen with Truth to dwell.
  But high or low, or wet or dry,
  No rotten stave could malice spy.
  Then rise, immortal Bucket, rise
  And claim thy station in the skies;
  'Twixt Amphora and Pisces shine:
  Still guarding Stockbridge with thy sign.

The main street crosses the Test by two old stone bridges and from
these, glancing up and down the street, one has a charming view of the
surrounding hills which fill the vista at each end. The road out of
the town to the east runs over the shoulder of Stockbridge Down on
which is a fine prehistoric entrenchment called Woolbury Ring. Thence
to Winchester is a long undulating stretch of rough and flinty track
with but few cottages and no villages on the way until tiny Wyke,
close to the city, is reached. One welcome roadside inn, the "Rack and
Manger," stands at the cross roads about half way, and occasional
ancient milestones tell us we are on the way to "Winton."

Our itinerary through west-central Hampshire has not included that
little known fragment of the county that lies to the west of Romsey
and is a district of commons and woods, part of the great forest-land
that we shall hurriedly explore in the next chapter. The chief
interest here, apart from the natural attractions of the secluded
countryside, is a simple grave in the churchyard of East Wellow, a
small by-way hamlet about four miles from Romsey. Here is the last
resting place of Florence Nightingale who lies beside her father and
mother. The supreme honour of burial at Westminster, offered by the
Dean and Chapter, was refused by her relatives in compliance with her
own wish. So East Wellow should be a pilgrim's shrine to the rank and
file of that weaponless army whose badge is the Red Cross.

[Illustration: BARGATE, SOUTHAMPTON.]




CHAPTER II

SOUTHAMPTON WATER AND THE NEW FOREST


Bitterne is now a suburb of Southampton on the opposite side of the
Itchen, but it may claim to be the original town from which the Saxon
settlement arose. It is the site of the Roman Clausentium, an
important station between Porchester and Winchester, and when the
Saxons came up the water and landed upon the peninsula between the two
rivers they probably found a populous town on the older site. This
conjecture would account for the name given to the new colony--_Southhame
tune_--ultimately borne by the county-town and the origin of the shire
name. It is as the natural outlet for the trade of Winchester and Wessex,
standing at the head of one of the finest waterways in Europe, that
Southampton became the present thriving and important town.

To-day its commercial prestige, if not on a par with Liverpool, Hull
or Cardiff, is sufficiently great for the town to rank as a county
borough. The magnificent docks are capable of taking the largest
liners, and as the port of embarkation for South Africa its
consequence will increase still more as that great country develops.
On the banks of the Itchen many important industries have been
established during the last quarter of a century and, as a result of
this and the inevitable disorder of a great port, Southampton's
environs have suffered. But more than any other town in England of the
same size, have the powers that give yea or nay to such questions
conserved the relics of the past with which Southampton is so richly
endowed. The most famous of these is the Bargate (originally "Barred"
Gate), once the principal, or Winchester, entrance to the town. It
dates from about 1350, though its base is probably far older. The
upper portion, forming the Guildhall, bears on the south or town side
a quaint statue of George III in a toga, that replaced one of Queen
Anne in stiff corsets and voluminous gown. The various armorial
bearings displayed are those of noble families who have been connected
with the town in the past. Within the upper chamber are two ancient
paintings said to represent the legendary Sir Bevis, whose sword is
preserved at Arundel, and his squire Ascupart. Sections of the town
wall may be found in several places, but the most considerable portion
is on the north side of the Westgate, where, until the middle of the
last century, when Westernshore Road was made, high tides washed the
foot of the wall. The arcading of this portion is much admired, and
deservedly so. So far as the writer is aware, no other town in England
has medieval defences of quite this character remaining. The
picturesque Bridewell Gate is at the end of Winkle Street and not far
away is all that remains of "God's House" or the Hospital of St.
Julian, "improved" out of its ancient beauty. The chapel was given to
the Huguenot refugees by Queen Elizabeth; a portion of the original
chancel still exists and within the Anglican service continues to be
said in French. The house known as "King John's House," close to the
walls near St. Michael's Square, dates from the twelfth century and is
therefore one of the oldest in England. Another old building in Porter
Lane called "Canute's House" is declared by archaeologists to be of
the twelfth century, but Hamptonians, with some degree of probability,
claim that the lower walls are certainly Saxon, so that the
traditional name may be right after all. In that part of the town
nearest to the docks are several stone cellars of great age upon which
later dwellings have been erected, in some cases two buildings have
appeared on the same sturdy base. A particularly fine crypt is in
Simnel Street, with a window at its east end. At the corner of Bugle
Street is the "Woolhouse," said to belong to the fourteenth century;
very noticeable are the heavy buttresses that support this fine old
house on its west side. Another old dwelling in St. Michael's Square
may have been built in the fifteenth century. Tradition has it that
this was for a time the residence of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

[Illustration: THE ARCADES, SOUTHAMPTON.]

The reference to Canute's House brings to mind the tradition, stoutly
upheld by Hamptonians, that it was at "Canute's Point" at the mouth of
the Itchen, and not at Bosham or Lymington, that the king gave his
servile courtiers the historic rebuke chronicled by Camden. By him,
quoting Huntingdon, we are told that "causing his chair to be placed
on the shore as the tide was coming in, the king said to the latter,
'Thou art my subject, and the ground I sit on is mine, nor can any
resist me with impunity. I command, thee, therefore, not to come up on
my ground nor wet the soles of the feet of thy master.' But the sea,
immediately coming up, wetted his feet, and he, springing back, said,
'Let all the inhabitants of the earth know how weak and frivolous is
the power of princes; none deserves the name of king, but He whose
will heaven, earth, and sea obey by an eternal decree.' Nor would he
ever afterwards wear his crown, but placed it on the head of the
crucifix." There is little doubt that Southampton was one of the
principal royal residences during the reign of the great Northman, and
nearly a hundred years before, in Athelstan's days, it was of
sufficient importance to warrant the setting up of two mints.

The only medieval church remaining to Southampton is St. Michael's,
which has a lofty eighteenth-century spire on a low Norman tower. Here
is another of those black sculptured Tournai fonts one of which has
been noticed in Winchester. The interior must have presented a curious
appearance in the early years of Queen Victoria. During her
predecessor's reign the incumbent placed the pulpit and reading-desk
at the west end and reversed all the seats so that the congregation
sat with their backs to the altar. The purpose of this is beyond
conjecture. St. Mary's, designed by Street, was erected on the site of
the old town church in 1879 as a memorial to Bishop Wilberforce. All
Saints' in High Street is a classic building standing on the ground
occupied by a very ancient church. Isaac Watts was deacon of Above Bar
Chapel, noteworthy for the fact that the immortal hymn "Oh God, our
help in ages past" was first sung within its walls from manuscript
copies supplied to the congregation by the young poet. Among other
famous men who were natives of Southampton may be mentioned Dibdin and
Millais.

As might be expected from its geographical position and the many
centuries it has been a gate to central England, Southampton has had a
chequered and eventful history. Before the days of those supposedly
impregnable forts in Spithead which bar to all inimical visitors a
passage up the Water, the town was not immune from attack from the sea
and in 1338 an allied French, Genoese and Spanish fleet sailed up the
estuary and attacked the town to such good purpose that the burgesses
were forced to fly and from a safe distance saw their homes burned to
the ground. Another assault was made by the French in 1432, but
profiting by bitter experience, the citizens had by now constructed
such defences and armed them so well that this attack was an
ignominious failure.

The port was the scene of several great expeditions overseas before it
gave its quota to that greatest of all crusades in 1914. It saw the
start of Richard Lion-Heart's transports, filled with the chivalry of
England, on their way to challenge the power of Islam. The town
records show that 800 hogs were supplied by the citizens for feeding
the army _en route_. Perhaps the most famous of the sailings was that
of the twenty-one ships that carried the English army to the victory
of Crecy. Again seventy years later there was another great sallying
forth to the field of Agincourt, nearly frustrated by the machinations
of Richard, Earl of Cambridge. This scion of the Plantagenets and his
fellow conspirators were beheaded and afterwards buried, as recorded
on a tablet there, in the chapel of God's House. From Southampton the
_Mayflower_ and _Speedwell_ sailed in 1620: the latter being discarded
at Plymouth.

The modern aspect of Southampton's streets is that of the bustle and
activity of a midland town, and the narrow pavements of Below and
Above Bar have that metropolitan air which a crowd of well-dressed
people intent on business or pleasure gives to the better class
provincial city. It would seem that the inevitable accompaniment of
such prosperity is the meanness of poorly-built and squalidly-kept
suburbs. When the superb situation of Southampton is considered one
can but hope that some day, in the new England that we are told is on
the way, a great transformation will take place on the shores of
Itchen and Test.

The excursion that every visitor should take is down the Water to
Cowes. Few steamer trips in the south are as pleasant and interesting.
In consequence of the double tides with which Southampton is favoured,
the chance of having a long stretch of ill looking and worse smelling
mud flats in the foreground of the view is almost negligible. Unless a
very thorough knowledge of the shore is desired, the view from the
deck will give the stranger an adequate idea of the surrounding
country. The passing show of shipping, of all sorts, sizes and
nationalities, is not the least interesting item of the passage. The
writer's most vivid recollection of Southampton Water in the early
summer of 1918 is not of the beautiful shores shimmering in the June
sun, but of an extraordinary line of "dazzle ships" in the centre of
the waterway, moored bow to stern in a long perspective, or it would
be more correct to say, want of perspective, the brain and the eye
being so much at variance that the ends of the line could scarcely be
believed to consist of ships at all.

[Illustration: NETLEY RUINS.]

The ruins of Netley Abbey can best be seen by taking the pleasant
shore road from Woolston and Weston Grove. The distance is a little
over two miles from the Itchen ferry. The so-called Netley Castle was
once the gate-house of the Abbey, converted into a fort when Henry
VIII devised the elaborate scheme of coast defence that has dotted the
southern seaboard with a more scattered (and more picturesque) series
of Martello towers.

The ruins of the Cistercian Church which once graced this shore and
raised above the trees its lighthouse tower, a seamark by day and a
beacon by night, are among the loveliest in Wessex. Though perhaps
these relics of a former splendour, when they consist of more than a
few bits of broken masonry, should rather be said to be heartrending
in their reminder of what we have lost.

Not so beautiful is the great pile, a mile to the south, built during
the Crimean war for the invalid warriors and named after their Queen.
A short distance away is another great building, or series of
structures, erected during the Great War, to further our claim to the
empire of the air.

[Illustration: ON THE HAMBLE.]

The Hamble river is the only considerable stream before the barrier
spit of Calshot Castle is reached. This comes down from historic
Bishop's Waltham with its considerable remains of the "palace" of the
earlier Bishop of Winchester. After passing Botley, an ancient market
town, the river widens into an estuary haven altogether out of
proportion to the stream behind it, and at Bursledon, where it is
crossed by the Portsmouth highway, it becomes really beautiful: the
curving banks are in places embowered in trees that descend to the
water's edge. When the tide is full the scene would hold its own with
many more favoured by the guide books. The fields around are devoted
to the culture of the strawberry for the London market, and the crops
are said to be finer than those of the better-known Kentish districts.

Two finds from the stream bed are in Botley market hall, a portion of
a Danish war vessel and an almost entire prehistoric canoe.

[Illustration: GATE HOUSE, TITCHFIELD.]

A name better known to the majority of our readers will be that of the
Meon, a further reference to which district will be found in the
concluding chapter. The waters of this longer stream rise on a western
outlier of Butser Hill and, draining a remote and beautiful district
served by the Meon Valley Railway, reach Titchfield Haven over three
miles below the Hamble. Titchfield, two miles as the crow flies from
the sea (for we are now on the open waters of the Solent), is a
pleasant old town with an interesting church and the gatehouse remnant
of a once famous abbey of Premonstratensians. Part of the tower and
nave of the church are Saxon, and the remainder is in a whole range of
styles. A chapel on the south was once the property of the abbey and
is called the Abbot's Chapel, this has a fine tomb of the first and
second Earls and first Countess of Southampton. Perhaps of more
interest to some visitors will be the flag hung near the opening to
the chancel. This was the first to fly over Pretoria after the British
occupation.

The western shore of Southampton Water may be accepted as the eastern
boundary of the New Forest, as the straight north and south valley of
the Salisbury Avon is its western barrier. From the sea at
Christ-church Bay to the Blackwater valley west of Romsey is about
twenty miles and all this great district partakes more or less of the
character of the country seen from the Bournemouth express after it
leaves Lyndhurst Road. To attempt to describe in detail this unique
corner of England would be beyond the possibilities of this book or
its author, and only the barest outline will be attempted.

One authority claims 95,000 acres as the extent of the Forest. The
present writer would increase this estimate considerably. About
two-thirds of the more central portion are crown lands, and as will be
seen by the most superficial view (from the afore-mentioned express
train for instance) much of the central woodland is interspersed with
farms and arable land and a large extent of open heath, as are those
outlying fringes in the Avon valley and elsewhere. It is unaccountable
that the word "forest" should have so altered in meaning during the
course of centuries that its earlier significance has almost become
lost. The word is associated in every one's mind with the density of
tropical foliage or the dark grandeur of northern fir woods. Forest as
a topographical suffix denotes a wild uncultivated tract of hilly or
common land, more often than not quite bare of trees. The great
expanse of Radnor Forest is well known to the writer and not even a
thorn bush comes to the mind in picturing its miles of fern-clad
billowy uplands.

The "New" Forest was first so called by the Conqueror. He brought
within its bounds certain tracts that had been preserved by his
predecessors, but that he "burnt and razed whole villages, and
converted a smiling countryside into a wild place devoted to the
king's pleasure" is extremely improbable, unless we may credit William
with an altruistic care for the sport of his great-grandchildren at
the expense of whatever little popularity he may have had in his own
time. Undoubtedly the folk of this part of Hampshire felt aggrieved at
losing their rights over a great stretch of wild common where the more
democratic Saxon kings had taken their pleasure without interfering
with the privileges of the churl. That certain small settlements were
at some time abandoned is attested by names such as Bochampton,
Tachbury, Church Walk, etc., and it is said that Rufus established
certain dispossessed peasantry in far-off portions of his kingdom. The
Conqueror's immediate successors made cruel and arbitrary laws, in
connexion with the preservation of the deer, that were much mitigated
by the Forest Charter of 1217 which provided that death should no
longer be the penalty for killing the King's deer, but merely a fine,
or imprisonment in default.

The wild life of the Forest is much the same as that of the remoter
parts of rural England, apart from the ponies and the deer. Of the
latter only a few still roam the glades. An Act was passed in 1851 for
their removal, when the number was reduced from nearly 4,000 to about
250 of two kinds--fallow deer and red deer. Latterly roe deer have
appeared, adventurers from Milton Abbey park. The New Forest pony was
a distinct breed and the writer has been told that it was the
descendant of a small native horse, but its characteristics have been
lost through scientific crossing with alien breeds. A legend used to
be current in the Forest that the ponies were descended from those
landed from the wrecked ships of the Spanish Armada, but there is a
limit to what we may believe of this wonderful fleet. Most villages
along the south coast having rather more than the usual proportion of
dark-haired folk have been claimed as asylums for the castaway sailors
and soldiers of Spain by enthusiastic amateur anthropologists.

Before breaking-in, the Forest pony is a wild and often vicious little
beast--more so, perhaps, than its cousins of Wales and Dartmoor--and a
"drive," when the little horses are corralled, is an exciting and
interesting affair, human wits being pitted against equine, not always
to the advantage of the former.

Small companies of rough-coated donkeys may occasionally be seen, in
an apparently wild state, roaming about the more open parts of the
Forest. Some years ago the breeding of mules for export was a
recognized local concern, but this seems to have fallen into
desuetude.

Badgers and otters are common, as is the ubiquitous squirrel. The
badger, however, is seldom seen by the chance visitor by reason of its
nocturnal habits, but it is said to be more numerous than in any
similar wild tract in the south. The smaller wild mammals, carnivorous
and herbivorous, and a truly representative family of birds, including
one or two rare visitors, have here a perfect sanctuary. The forest is
obviously a happy hunting ground for the lepidopterist and botanist.
The latter will find many of the rarer British orchids in the central
"dingles" and on the more remote western borders. During the Great War
a large number of trees were felled and the usually silent woods
re-echoed with the noises of a Canadian lumber camp. About this time
great flocks of migratory jays from central Europe were noticed in the
eastern parts of the Forest. For the pedestrian who toils over the
Forest roads in the height of summer there is one form of wild life in
evidence that claims his whole attention, and that is the virulent and
audacious forest fly. Only the strongest "shag" and gloved hands can
keep this horrible creature at bay.

The observant stranger will notice a large proportion of small, dark
folk among the inhabitants of the Forest. It is a fascinating matter
for conjecture that these may be remnants of the Iberians that once
held south Britain or even, perhaps, of a still older people left
stranded by the successive races that have swept westwards by way of
the uplands to the north.

The western shore of Southampton Water has little of interest to
detain the visitor. The small town of Hythe, almost opposite Netley
Abbey, has nothing ancient about it, though it is a picturesque and
pleasant little place. Fawley, nearly opposite the opening of the
Hamble, has a fine late Norman church with much Early English
addition. Calshot Castle is another of those forts of Henry VIII
already mentioned, and once round the corner of this spit we are in
the Solent at Stanswood Bay. A few miles farther and the beautiful
estuary of the Beaulieu river runs into the recesses of the Forest.
Small steamers sometimes bring holiday-makers from Southampton to the
port of Beaulieu, called Bucklershard, where, over a hundred years
ago, there was an attempt to make a new seaport. It is difficult to
believe that this quiet creek was, during the second half of the
eighteenth century, the birthplace of many "wooden walls of old
England." Here among other famous ships was launched the _Agamemnon_,
commanded by Nelson at the siege of Celvi, where he lost his right
eye. An unfortunate disagreement between the shipbuilders and the
Admiralty, in which the former were so ill advised as to seek the help
of the law, led to the abandonment of the yards. At St. Leonards,
nearer the mouth of the estuary, is the ruin of a chapel belonging to
the Cistercians of Beaulieu and also portions of their great barn,
said to be the largest in England (209 feet by 70 feet). The great
Abbey church, nearly four miles off, was entirely swept away during
the Demolition. It was here that the wife of the King Maker took
refuge after the death of her husband at the battle of Barnet. A few
days before, on the actual day of the fight, arrived Margaret of Anjou
with reinforcements for Henry VI. Some years later, after his repulse
at Exeter, Perkin Warbeck sought sanctuary, the right of which had
been granted to the monastery by Pope Innocent IV. The monks'
refectory is now the parish church and a very fine and interesting one
it makes. Considerable portions of the domestic buildings remain.
Palace House, the residence of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, was once the
gatehouse of the abbey.

A return must now be made to Southampton, and the Christchurch road
taken through Totton to Lyndhurst. The station for the latter town is
over two miles away on the Southampton road, where the railway makes a
wide detour to Beaulieu Road and Brockenhurst. The absurd title given
to Lyndhurst by local guide-books, "Capital of the New Forest," is
uncalled for. Certainly it is nearly the centre of the district and is
within convenient distance of some of the most beautiful woodlands,
but nothing could be a greater contrast to the surroundings than this
new-looking brick excrescence. It has one fine old Jacobean
building--the "King's House," where the Forest Courts are held. The
Verderers, of whom there are six, are elected by open ballot. They
must be landowners residing in or near the Forest and may sit in
judgment upon any offence against Forest laws. These Verderers Courts
have been held since Norman days and the old French terms "pannage,"
"turbary" and so on, are still used. Further, the old name for the
court, "Swain Mote," indicates a Saxon origin for this seat of
greenwood justice.

[Illustration: THE KNIGHTWOOD OAK IN WINTER.]

The spire of Lyndhurst church can be seen for miles wherever high
ground and a break in the woods render this possible. It surmounts a
mid-Victorian erection of variegated bricks in about the worst
possible taste for its situation. The one redeeming feature is a wall
painting of the Ten Virgins by Lord Leighton.

A little over two miles away, and on the road to the Rufus Stone, is
Minstead church, which will make a different appeal to the
understanding stranger. This is (or was lately) a charming survival
from the days of our grandfathers with a three-decker, old room-like
pews, and double galleries. Malwood Lodge, close by, is a seat of the
Harcourt family, and not far away, about a mile and a half from
Minstead church, is the spot where William Rufus was killed by that
mysterious arrow which by accident or design, relieved England of a
tyrannical and wicked king. The "Rufus Stone," as the iron memorial is
called, with its terse and non-committal inscription was placed here
by a former Lord de la Warr. The body was conveyed to Winchester in
the cart of a charcoal-burner named Purkiss, and descendants of this
man, still following his occupation, were living within bow-shot of
the memorial one hundred years ago. The family "enjoyed for centuries
the right to the taking of all such wood as they could gather _by hook
or by crook_, dead branches, and what could be broken, but not cut by
the axe." It is said that the train of accidents that befell the
Conqueror's family in the Forest was considered by Hampshire folk to
be a just retribution for his iniquity in "making" it. His grandson
Henry, his second son Richard, and lastly his third son Rufus, all met
a violent death within its glades.

A short distance westwards we reach the "Compton Arms Hotel" and
Stoney Cross, from which an alternate route through beautiful
Boldrewood can be taken back to Lyndhurst or a long and lonely but
good road followed all the way to Ringwood, nine miles away on the
Avon. The traveller who would explore the recesses of the forest
remote from the beaten track should make his way north and west from
Stoney Cross through the sandy heaths of Eyeworth Walk and the
mysterious depths of Sloden with its dark yews of great and unknown
age. Not far from Stoney Cross on the way to Fritham, are a number of
prehistoric graves clustered closely together, and an interesting
relic of the Roman occupation exists at Sloden where there are mounds
of burnt earth, charcoal, and broken pottery. The locality has long
been known as "Crock Hill" and is evidently the site of an earthenware
factory. The road going south and west by Broomy Walk leads to
Fordingbridge on the Avon. Here is a beautiful and interesting old
church, a typically pleasant Hampshire town, and a quiet but
delightful stretch of the river.

The straight high road, that runs south from Lyndhurst through the
thick woodlands of Irons Hill Walk and the giant oaks of Whitley Wood,
reaches Brockenhurst in four miles. This small town, to the writer's
mind, is pleasanter and less sophisticated than Lyndhurst, though
boarding-houses are as much in evidence and the railway station is
close to the main street. The church stands on a low hill among the
trees of the actual forest. Here was recently to be seen, and possibly
is still, a quaintly ugly survival in the squire's pew, placed as a
sort of royal box at the entrance to the chancel. The building is of
various dates and contains a Norman font of Purbeck marble. The
enormous yew of great age will at once be noticed in the churchyard.

The main road continues over Whitley Ridge to Lymington nearly five
miles from Brockenhurst, passing, about half-way on the left, Boldre,
with an old Norman church among the thickly-set trees on the hill above
Lymington River. The village and inn are at the bottom of the valley
near a bridge that carries the Beaulieu road up to the great bare
expanse of Beaulieu Heath.

After passing the branch railway, and about half a mile short of
Lymington, is a fine circular prehistoric entrenchment called Buckland
Rings. The road now drops to the one-time parliamentary borough and
ancient port of Lymington, now only known to the majority as the point
of departure by the "short sea route" to the Isle of Wight, and those
who make the passage when the tide is out do not usually regret the
shortness of their stay on this particular bit of coast. But their
self-congratulation is wasted, Lymington itself is a very pleasant and
clean town, even if its shore is a dreary stretch of salt marsh, grey
and depressing on the sunniest day. There are some fine old houses in
the picturesque High Street, though none of them remember the day in
1154 when Henry II landed on the way to his coronation. The much
restored church will be best appreciated for the picture it makes from
the other end of High Street.

Though a fashionable resort in those days when any seaside town was a
possible future Brighton, Lymington is never likely to become crowded
with visitors again, but artists find many good studies on the river
and in the town and even on the "soppy" flats themselves, and there are
salt baths at high tide for those unconventional holiday-makers who
favour the place.

To resume the main route through the forest from Lyndhurst the western
road must be taken. It presently turns sharply towards the south and
penetrates the fastnesses of the woods lining the Highland Water. Here
we find the celebrated Knightwood Oak and the grand beeches of Mark
Ash, nearly two miles away in the depths to the right, but worth the
trouble of finding. In less than six miles from Lyndhurst the traveller
reaches the cross-roads at Wilverley Post on the top of Markway Hill,
and in another long mile Holmsley station on the Brokenhurst-Ringwood
railway. Then follows an undulating and lonely stretch of four and a
half miles of mingled wood and common and occasional cultivated land to
the scattered hamlet of Hinton Admiral, that boasts a station on the
South Western main line to Bournemouth. There is now but an
uninteresting three miles to the outskirts of Christchurch.

[Illustration: LYMINGTON CHURCH.]

The one-time Saxon port of Twyneham and present borough of Christchurch
(the change of name, like several others in the country, was due to the
over-whelming power of the ecclesiastical as opposed to on the secular)
has a similarity to Southampton in its situation on a peninsula between
two rivers before they form a joint estuary to the sea. But, alas,
although the waterways of the Avon and Stour are considerable,
Christchurch Harbour long ago silted up and the long tongue of land
that runs eastward across the mouth effectually bars ingress to
anything in the nature of a trading vessel.

The town, though pleasant enough in itself, has but one real
attraction for the visitor and, judging by the crowds of
holiday-makers brought in every day by motor, tram and train from the
huge pleasure town on the west, the study of ecclesiastical
architecture must be gaining favour with the British public. Or is it
that the uncompromising modernity of Bournemouth, without even the
recollection of a Hanoverian princess to give it antiquity, drives its
visitors in such swarms to the one-time Priory, and now longest parish
church in England.

The old Saxon minster, after passing through many vicissitudes
(including a particularly humiliating one at the hands of William
Rufus, whose creature, Flambard, made slaves of its clergy and ran the
church as a miracle show!), became in the middle of the twelfth
century an Augustinian priory and the choir of the new building was
finished just before 1300. At the crossing of nave and transepts the
usual low and heavy Norman tower had been built with the usual
result--it collapsed and brought some of the choir down with it. This
was again rebuilt during the fifteenth century, which period also saw
the rise of the western tower that graces every distant view of the
town. The transepts have beneath them Norman crypts, though the
structure immediately above is of varying date, with a good deal of
original work remaining, including an apsidal chapel. The Lady Chapel
was built in the fifteenth century; over it is a room known as "St.
Michael's Loft." This served for years as Christchurch grammar school.

[Illustration: NORMAN TURRET, CHRISTCHURCH.]

Every one will admire the beautiful rood screen, well and carefully
restored in the middle of the last century, and the unusual reredos
which represents the Tree of Jesse and the Adoration of the Wise Men.
On the left of the altar is the Salisbury chantry and in front a stone
slab to Baldwin de Redvers (1216). There are several fine tombs in
other parts of the church including that of the last Prior, who has a
chapel to himself at the end of the south choir aisle. The fine
monument to Shelley at the west end of the church is as much admired
for its beauty as it is criticized for its "unfitness for a position
in a Christian church" (Murray). The female figure supporting
Shelley's body represents his wife. Mr. Cox in his _Little Guide to
Hampshire_ draws attention to the fact that the conception is "an
obvious parody of a Pieta, or the Virgin supporting the Dead Christ"
and therefore in the worst possible taste. The poet had no personal
connexion with Christchurch. His son lived for some years at Boscombe
Manor.

The custodian shows, when requested, a visitors' book where, on one and
the same page are the signatures of William II and Louis Raemaekers!

Comparatively few old buildings remain in the vicinity of the great
church and the visitor will not need to make an exhaustive exploration
of its environs, but before leaving Christchurch the fine collection
of local birds brought together and mounted by a resident of the town
should not be missed.

Embryo watering places, the conception of the "real estate" fraternity
whom Bournemouth has set by the ears, line the low shore of
Christchurch Bay between Hengistbury Head and Hurst Castle. First
comes Highcliffe, this has perhaps the most developed "front," then
Barton, nearly two miles from New Milton station, and lastly
Milford-on-Sea, the most interesting of them all, but suffering in
popularity by reason of the long road, over four miles, that connects
it with the nearest stations, Lymington or New Milton; possibly its
regular habitues look upon this as a blessing in disguise. Milford is
well placed for charming views of the Island: it has good firm sands
and a golf links. An interesting church stands back from the sea on
the Everton road. The thirteenth-century tower will at once strike the
observer as out of the ordinary; the Norman aisles of the church were
carried westwards at the time the tower was built and made to open
into it through low arches. The early tracery of the windows should be
noticed. The addition of transepts and the enlargement of the chancel
about 1250 made the church an exceptionally large structure for the
originally small village.

Southbourne, one and a half miles south-west of Christchurch, will
soon become a mere outer suburb of Bournemouth. It almost touches
Boscombe, that eastern extension of the great town that has sprung
into being within the last fifty years. Southbourne is said to be
bracing; it is certainly a great contrast to the bustle and glitter of
its great neighbour. There is a kind of snobbishness that strikes to
decry any large or popular resort, seemingly because it _is_ large and
popular, but surely there must be some virtue in these huge watering
places that attract so many year after year, and if Southbourne
pleases only Tom, and Bournemouth Dick and Harry _and_ their friends,
well, good health to them! That their favourite town does not start
off a new chapter may offend the latter, but they will perhaps admit
that although it is on the west side of the Avon the town among the
pines forms, with its sandy chines and the trees that gave it its
first claim to popular favour, an extension and outlier of the great
series of heath and woodland that has just been traversed and that it
makes a fitting geographical termination to south-western Hants.

Though the pines themselves have not been planted much longer than a
hundred years, they now appear as the only relics of a lonely and
rather bare tract of uncultivable desert. Local historians claim that
the beginnings of Bournemouth were made in 1810, but it would appear
that only two or three houses existed by the lonely wastes of sand in
the first few years of the Victorian era. One of these was an adjunct
to a decoy pond for wild fowl. The parish itself was not formed until
1894, and although fashionable streets and fine churches and a
super-excellent "Winter-garden" had been erected when the writer first
saw the town, not much more than twenty years ago, the front was
extremely "raw" and the only shelter during a shower was a large tent
on the sands that, on one never-to-be-forgotten occasion, collapsed
during a squall upon the crowd of lightly-clad holiday-makers
beneath. But this is a very dim and distant past for Bournemouth, the
"Sandbourne" of the Wessex novels. The town is now as well conducted
as any on the English coast. It is large enough and has a sufficient
permanent population to justify its inclusion in the ranks of the
county boroughs. It is becoming almost as popular as Ventnor with
those who suffer from weak lungs, though it can be very cold here in
January.

[Illustration: SAND AND PINES, BOURNEMOUTH.]

Bournemouth will be found a convenient centre, or rather starting
point, for the exploration of the beautiful Wessex coast. From the
pier large and comfortable steamers make the passage to Swanage,
Weymouth, Lyme and further afield. Another advantage which these large
towns have for the ordinary tourist is that he may generally count
upon getting some sort of roof to cover him when in the smaller coast
resorts lodgings are not merely at a premium but simply unobtainable
at any price.

[Illustration: CORFE CASTLE.]




CHAPTER III

POOLE, WIMBORNE AND THE ISLE OF PURBECK


The South of England generally is wanting in that particular scenic
charm that consists of broad stretches of inland water backed by high
country. The first sight of Poole harbour with the long range of the
Purbeck Hills in the distance will come as a delightful revelation to
those who are new to this district. The harbour is almost land-locked
and the sea is not in visual evidence away from the extremely narrow
entrance between Bournemouth and Studland. A fine excursion for good
pedestrians can be made by following the sandy shore until the ferry
across the opening is reached and then continuing to Studland and over
Ballard Down to Swanage.

Poole town is a busy place of small extent but containing for its size
a large population. The enormous development of industry in the
surrounding districts during the Great War must have brought the
number of folks in and around Poole to nearly 100,000, thus making it
the most populous corner of Dorset. This figure may not be maintained,
but a good proportion of the work concerned with the waste of
armaments has been transformed into the commerce of peace. One cause
for the modern prosperity of this old town is its position as regards
the converging railways from the west and north as well as from London
and Weymouth.

[Illustration: POOLE.]

Poole, like a good many other places with as much or as little cause,
has been claimed as a Roman station. There seems to be no direct
evidence for this. The first actual records of the town are dated
1248, when William de Longespee gave it its first charter. This Norman
held the manor of Canford, and Poole church was originally a chapel of
ease for that parish. The present building only dates from 1820 and
for the period is a presentable enough copy of the Perpendicular
style. Poole was a republican town in the Civil War and sent its
levies to help to reduce Corfe Castle. The revenge of the other side
came when, at the Restoration, all the town defences were destroyed,
though the king was not too unforgetful to refuse the hospitality of
the citizens during the Great Plague.

The only remarkable relics in Poole are the Wool House or "Town
Cellar" and an old postern dating from about 1460. The Town Hall, with
its double flight of winding steps and quaint high porch was built in
1761. Within, as a commemoration of the visit recorded above, is a
presentment of the monarch who must have had "a way with him," since
his subjects' memories apparently became as short as his own.

But Poole's most stirring times were in the days when Harry Page,
licensed buccaneer and pirate, made individual war on Spain to such
good purpose that the natives of Poole were astounded one morning to
see upwards of one hundred foreign vessels dotted about the waters of
the harbour, prizes taken by the redoubtable "Arripay," as his
captives termed him. Nothing flying the Spanish flag in the Channel
seemed to escape him, until matters at last became so humiliating that
the might of both countries was brought to bear on Poole, and the town
underwent a severe chastisement, in which Page's brother was killed.
This spirit of warlike enterprise descended to the great grandchildren
of these Elizabethans, for in Poole church is a monument to one
Joliffe, captain of the hoy _Sea Adventurer_, who, in the days of
Dutch William, drove ashore and captured a French privateer. In the
following year another bold seaman, William Thompson, with but one man
and a cabin-boy to help him, took a Cherbourg privateer and its crew
of sixteen. Both these heroes received a gold chain and medal from the
King. Another generation, and the town was fighting its own masters
over the question of "free imports." In spite of the usually accepted
fact that smuggling can only prosper in secret, Poole became a sort of
headquarters for all that considerable trade that found in the nooks
and crannies of the Dorset coast safe warehouses and a natural
cellarage. So bold did the fraternity become that in 1747, when a
large cargo of tea had been seized by the crown authorities and placed
for safe keeping in the Customs House, the free traders overpowered
all resistance and triumphantly retrieved their booty, or shall we
say, their property? and took it surrounded by a well-armed escort to
various receivers in the remoter parts of the wild country north-west
of Wimborne. The leaders of this attack were afterwards found to be
members of a famous Sussex band and the incident led to tragedy. An
informer named Chater, of Fordingbridge, and an excise officer--William
Calley--were on their way to lay an information, when they were seized
by a number of smugglers and cruelly done to death. For this six men
suffered the full penalty and three others were hanged for the work
done at Poole.

The waters of Poole Harbour are salt as the sea outside though fed by
the rivers Frome and Puddle, and so of course its best aspect is when
the tide is full. The erratic ebb and flow is more pronounced here
than at Southampton and there are longer periods of high than low
water. Brownsea Island, that occupies the centre of this inland sea,
with its wooded banks of dark greenery makes an effective foil to the
sparkling waters and long mauve line of the Purbeck Hills. There is
always deep water at the eastern extremity of the island, to which
boats can be taken. Here are Branksea (or Brownsea) Castle, an
enlarged and improved edition of one of Henry's coast forts, and a few
cottages. Other small islands, populated by waterfowl, lie between
Brownsea and the Purbeck shore, where on a small peninsula is the
pretty little hamlet of Arne, remote, forgotten and very seldom
visited by tourist or stranger, but commanding the most exquisite
views of the harbour and surrounding country. It is possible that in
the near future the amenities of Poole Harbour may disappear or at
least change their quiet aspect of to-day, for at the time of writing
a scheme is afoot to deepen the channels and render the harbour
capable of taking the largest ships within its sheltered anchorage.

Six miles north of Poole, in the valley of the Stour where that river
is joined by the Allen or Wim, stands Wimborne Minster surrounded by
the pleasant old town that bears the full name of its only title to
renown. This is another claimant for a Roman send-off to its history,
and with better grounds than Poole, though here again authorities
differ, some maintaining that Badbury Rings, the scene of the great
defeat of the West Saxons by the British, was the original
Vindogladia. A Roman pavement has been discovered within the area
covered by the Minster Church; whether this is a remnant of a
considerable station or only of a solitary villa is unknown.

[Illustration: WIMBORNE MINSTER.]

The beautiful Minster, one of the "sights" of Bournemouth, and,
although farther afield, almost as popular as Christchurch, was
founded at an early date in the history of Wessex, but the actual year
is unknown. It must have been very early in the eighth century that
the two sisters of King Ine, Cuthberga and Cwenburh, joined in forming
a sisterhood here. Both were buried in the original building and
eventually became enrolled in that long list of Saxon Saints whose
names have such a quaintly archaic sound and whose lives must have
been a matter of high romance, considering the experiences through
which they lived. St. Boniface asked for the help of the Wimborne
sisterhood to carry on his missionary labours among the benighted
tribes of Germany, and several establishments in the marshes and
woodlands along the shore of the Baltic Sea were the daughter houses
of this mid-Wessex abbey. The Saxon church was probably destroyed
during the Danish terror, but rebuilding commenced again before the
Conquest and the church became a college of secular canons.

As will be seen by a first glance at the central tower, Norman
workmanship is in evidence in the exterior. The pinnacles and
battlements that give the upper part such a curious and incongruous
appearance were added in 1608. Previous to this it had a spire that
was erected in the late thirteenth century, but in 1600, while a
service was being conducted, "a sudden mist ariseing, all the spire
steeple, being of very great height was strangely cast down; the
stones battered all the lead and brake much timber of the roofe of the
church, yet without anie hurt to the people." The other tower at the
western end was a 1450 addition, about which time several alterations
were made, including a new clerestory. The soft and beautiful tints in
the old stone are not the least charming feature of the exterior.
Before entering the church the "Jack," a figure in eighteenth-century
dress that strikes the hours on a bell, should be noticed. The medley
of architecture will be seen directly one enters by the north porch.
The arches of the nave are of three distinct types; those at the west
end being Decorated, the three in the middle late Transitional, and
that nearest the tower an earlier example of this style. The choir is
a mixture of late Norman and Early English. The altar is placed
unusually high and this adds much to the dignity of the church. The
east window is of great interest to archaeologists. Conjectured to
have been constructed about 1210-20 when the apsidal east end was
pulled down, it forms one of the earliest instances of "plate"
tracery. Some old Italian glass has been inserted in it. On the south
side of the chancel will be seen the fine tomb of John Beaufort, Duke
of Somerset, grandfather of Henry VII and grandson of John of Gaunt.
Above the tomb is suspended an old helmet weighing over 14 lbs. This
was found during some restorations, buried in the nave. It is supposed
to have belonged to the Duke. Beyond this are the canopied sedilia and
piscina. On the north side is a slab of Purbeck marble which may have
replaced the original memorial of King Ethelred, who was buried in the
older church. The tomb on this side of the chancel is that of
Gertrude, Marchioness of Exeter, and wife of the Marquis beheaded by
Henry VIII. The oak benches that extend across the front of the
sanctuary were placed here when the church was in Presbyterian
keeping. They are usually covered with white wrappings, which, to the
casual visitor, have the appearance of decorators' dust-cloths, but
are really "houseling linen." The relics that once made the Minster
famous and a place of pilgrimage for the credulous were many and
various. Reputed fragments of our Lord's manger, robe and cross; some
of the hairs of His beard, and a thorn from His crown; a bottle
containing the blood of St. Thomas a Becket, and St. Agatha's
thighbone.

The fine old chest with its six different locks, one for each trustee,
in the St. George's or north choir aisle, will be remarked. This is
the receptacle for the deeds of Collett's Charity at Corfe Castle.
Beside another very ancient chest (possibly used for "relics"), is an
effigy of an unknown knight, conjectured to be a Fitz Piers, also a
monument to Sir Edmund Uvedale. In the south, or Trinity, aisle is the
Etricke tomb; here lies a recorder of Poole, the same who committed to
prison, after his capture on one of the wild heaths near Ringwood,
that one-time hope of protestant England, the unfortunate Duke of
Monmouth. This Anthony Etricke was buried half in and half out of the
church in pursuance of a curious whim that he should lie neither in
the open nor under the church roof. He caused the date of his death to
be carved upon the side of the sarcophagus but, as may be seen, the
date had to be advanced twelve years when he did demise. There is a
finely vaulted crypt under the altar and over the fourteenth century
vestry is an interesting library where the books were once chained to
the shelves. It was instituted in the seventeenth century for the use
of the laity of Wimborne as well as for the minster clergy and may
thus claim to be one of the very earliest libraries in existence. It
contains, among other curiosities, a copy of Raleigh's _History of the
World_ with a hole burnt through its leaves, through the carelessness
of Matthew Prior, who was a resident of Wimborne. On the wall of the
western tower is a brass to this worthy.

The town has the usual pleasant and comfortable air of an English
agricultural centre, with few really old buildings, however, and a sad
amount of mean and jerry-built streets in the newer part near the
station that does not give the stranger a favourable first impression
if he comes by rail. There are some picturesque alleys and "backs"
around the Minster and the walks in the rural environs of Wimborne and
up the valley of the Stour are most charming. On the north-west of the
town is St. Margaret's Hospital, with a restored chapel that still
retains some ancient portions. This was originally a leper's hospital
and the foundation dates from about 1210.

[Illustration: JULIAN'S BRIDGE, WIMBORNE.]

A long mile east of Wimborne station is Canford Magna, the mother
parish of a large district. The small church still retains a goodly
portion of the original Norman structure. The fine modern stained
glass is worthy of notice, but the recent additions are in poor taste
and too florid a style. Near by is Canford Manor, an imposing pile
belonging to Lord Wimborne and once the home of the Earls of
Salisbury. The greater part of the present house was designed by Sir
Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament. The
remainder dates from the early part of the nineteenth century, except
"John O'Gaunt's Kitchen"--the only portion left of the ancient
manor-house. Canford village is of the model variety, each house
bearing the "seal" of the lord of the manor.

From quite near Wimborne station delightful walks may be taken across
the park, which, under certain reasonable restrictions, is open to the
public. To the south stretches the wide expanse of Canford Heath,
which once upon a time extended to the sea at Canford Cliffs, now a
fashionable part of Bournemouth. Eastwards, crossed by the Ringwood
road, is another series of heaths, sparsely inhabited and known by the
various names of Hampreston, Parley Common, St. Leonard's Common and
Holt Heath. There are few parts of Southern England where is so much
idle land, apart from the New Forest, as in eastern Dorset. These
moors are beautiful for rambling and camping, but heartbreaking to any
one with the mind of a Cobbett!

The direct Salisbury road climbs for ten miles gradually upwards, and
passing Hinton Parva church on the right, and, about a mile farther,
the site of a British village close to the road on the left, takes a
lonely and rather dull course until it reaches the small hamlet of
Knowlton, where there are the remains of a church built inside a round
earthwork which has its walls _outside_ the ditch, thus indicating, in
all probability, a use religious rather than military and an unbroken
tradition into Christian times. The way continues in a north-easterly
direction until it winds past the conspicuous tumulus, said to be a
temple or place of justice, on the summit of Castle Hill, just short
of the one-time important, but now much decayed market town of
Cranborne. The church here is an imposing and beautiful Early English
erection, with some remains of an earlier Norman building. A priory of
Benedictines was founded at Cranborne in Saxon times by Aylward, but
nothing of this still earlier building can now be traced. The fine
embattled tower dates from that era of fine towers--the Perpendicular.
The west window is a memorial to the celebrated Dean of St.
Paul's--Stillingfleet, a member of a family who once lived in one of
the old cottages here. The ancient pulpit will be noticed; this bears
the initials of an abbot of Tewkesbury, who died in 1421. Some wall
paintings were discovered under a coat of distemper about twenty years
ago, and there is a fine monument with recumbent figures to Sir Edward
Hooper.

[Illustration: CRANBORNE MANOR.]

The little "Crane bourne" that comes down from the lonely chalk
uplands between Cranborne Chase and Pentridge Hill gives its name to
the town, which in turn gives a title to the Cecils. The manor is said
to have as long a history as that of the church, but the present
building dates mainly from about 1520. The Jacobean west wing was
built by the first Cecil to take possession. The early Stuart kings
were frequent visitors, and Charles I stayed in the house just before
the fight at Newbury in 1644. At Rushay Farm, near the lonely hamlet
of Pentridge, William Barnes, the Dorset poet, was born, and a
forefather of Robert Browning was once footman and butler to the Banks
family who lived at Woodyates. A tablet in Pentridge church
commemorates his death in 1746, but, needless to say, it has only been
erected since his great descendant became famous. A memorial to the
poet has also been placed in the church inscribed with a line from
_Pippa Passes_: "All service ranks the same with God."

Cranborne Chase, a lonely district of wooded hills that we shall
approach again in our travels, is partly in Dorset and partly in
Wilts. It is a remnant of the great deer forest that, originally in
the possession of various feudal lords, became Crown property in the
reign of the fourth Edward and remained in royal hands until the time
of James I. During that long period, and for many years afterwards, it
was a region where the scanty population, innocent as well as
lawbreaker, lived in constant fear of the barbarous laws governing the
chase. Mutilation, the dungeon or heavy fine, according to the rank of
the offender, was the punishment for taking the deer. Ferocity often
breeds ferocity, and the inhabitants of the forest were for long a
dour and difficult race. The locality seemed destined to raise
gentlemen of the road, and in the seventeenth century and during the
next, the dim recesses of the woods were utilized for storing the vast
quantities of goods landed free of duty at Poole and elsewhere.
Wiltshire people say that the original "Moonrakers" were Wiltshire
folk of Cranborne Chase, and the story goes that a party of horsemen
crossing a stream saw some yokels drawing their rakes through the
water which reflected the harvest moon. On being questioned they
confessed that they were trying to rake "that cheese out of the
river:" with a shout of laughter at the simplicity of the rustics the
travellers proceeded on their way. The humour of the joke lies in the
fact that the "moonrakers" were smugglers retrieving kegs of rum and
brandy and that the horsemen were excise officials. But the folk-lore
origin of "Moonraker" is said by the Rev. J.E. Field to belong to a
very early period, probably before the day of the Saxon and to be
contemporaneous with the "Cuckoo Penners" of Somerset, who captured a
young cuckoo and built a high hedge round it; there they fed it until
its wings had grown, when it quietly flew away, much to the astonished
chagrin of the yokels. This is a widespread legend and belongs to
other parts of England besides Somerset.

The road from Wimborne to Blandford, four miles from the former town,
passes on the right an imposing hill crowned with fir trees. This is
the famous Badbury Rings. Here the conquering West Saxon met his most
serious set-back and almost his only real defeat. The camp is
undoubtedly prehistoric and was not a permanent settlement, but rather
a military post of great strength for use in time of war. The ramparts
consist of three rings of "wall" with a ditch to each, the outer being
a mile round. The hill is noteworthy for its extensive views, reaching
in clear weather to the Isle of Wight. The Purbeck Hills appear far
away over the beautiful park of Kingston Lacy, the seat of the Bankes,
an old county family. The house contains a fine collection of pictures
not usually shown to the public.

The road it is proposed to follow leaves this demesne to the left and
in two miles reaches Sturminster Marshall on the banks of the Stour.
The old church with its pinnacled tower was restored so carefully that
its ancient character has to a large extent been retained. The church
was originally Norman, but several additions of varying dates have
been made to it. As the church is entered, two fifteenth-century
coffin lids will be noticed in the porch. Within is a brass to a
former vicar (1581) and a slab to Lady Arundel of Nevice. The memorial
to King Alfred was presented to the church a few years ago by R.C.
Jackson, the antiquary, to commemorate the supposed connexion of this
Stour Minster with the great king.

Passing Bailey Gate, which is the station for Sturminster, the Poole
road is reached in a few minutes; turning left and following this for
a mile, the pedestrian may take a rough track uphill to the right that
leads to Lytchett Matravers, an out-of-the-way village with a
Perpendicular church and an unpretending inn. Two miles to the
south-east on the Poole-Wareham road is Lytchett Minster, remarkable
for the extraordinary sign of its inn, the "St. Peter's Finger." This
has been explained by Sir Bertram Windle as a corruption of St. Peter
ad Vincula. The inn unconsciously perpetuates the name of an old
system of land tenure, Lammas-day (in the Roman calendar St. Peter ad
Vincula) being one of the days on which service was done as a
condition of holding the land. The pictured sign itself, however, is
very literal in its rendering of the name. One of the finest views
obtainable of Poole and its surroundings is from Lytchett Beacon, and
in the opposite direction, the tower in Charborough Park is a
conspicuous landmark.

The direct road from Lytchett Matravers goes by Sleeping Green (we are
approaching the land of queer names) and reaches Wareham in five miles
after passing over the lonely Holton Heath, an outlier of the Great
Heath of Dorset, that wide stretch of moorland that Mr. Hardy has made
world-famous under the general appellation of "Egdon Heath."

Wareham, pleasant and ancient, is, after the capital, the most
interesting inland town in Dorset. Its position between the rivers
Frome and Puddle, that unite just before reaching Poole Harbour, was
of value as a strategical point and from very early times, possibly
prehistoric, the town was strongly fortified by its famous "walls" or
earth embankments that enclose to-day a much greater area than the
town itself.

Roman antiquities have been found of such a character as to prove its
importance at that period. It was one of the towns where Athelstan's
coins were made. It was accounted a first-class port by Canute and
proved a place of contention between Alfred and the Danes. At one time
eight churches stood within the walls and a castle erected by the
Conqueror overawed the inhabitants until the tussle between John and
the Barons led to its destruction. The churches that remain are three
in number, and two are of much interest. St. Martin's, on a high bank
at the northern entrance to the town, is a restored Saxon building,
the traditional resting place, until his body was removed to
Tewkesbury, of Beohtric, King of Wessex, in 800. The characteristic
work of this period may be seen in the chancel arch and windows and in
the "long and short" work at the north-east angle of the church.

Our Lady St. Mary's is the large and handsome church on the banks of
the Frome, here crossed by an old stone bridge that carries the Corfe
road across the river. The first church on this site is supposed to
have occupied the space now covered by St. Edward's Chapel. Here
Edward the Martyr was brought after his murder at Corfe Castle, the
body being afterwards transferred to Shaftesbury with great pomp and
splendour. The temporary coffin of the king may be seen near the font.
It is of massive stone with a place carved out for the head. The nave
and chancel have been much altered and partially rebuilt. Over St.
Edward's chapel, which dates from the thirteenth century, and is
supposed to be built on the site of the Saxon chapel, are the remains
of another chapel with a window looking into the church. The most
interesting part of the building is the Chapel of St. Thomas a Becket
on the south side of the east end. This forms a receptacle for various
curiosities, including several brasses, a stone cresset, a Roman lamp
and a stone bearing a Scandinavian inscription, besides the piscina
and sedilia that belong to the structure itself. The chapel would
appear to have been made in the buttressed wall of the church. On the
north side of the chancel is an effigy of Sir Henry d'Estoke and on
the south a figure of Sir William of that ilk. The embossed alms dish
and old earthenware plate for the communion should be noticed. An
historian of Dorset--John Hutchings, once rector here--has a monument
to his memory. The figures in relief upon the leaden font represent
the Apostles. Antiquaries are also interested in some ancient stones
built into the old Norman doorway near the pulpit. The ancient
sculpture of the Crucifixion was once outside over the north porch.
The inscription is said to be: "Catug consecravit Deo," but it is
almost impossible to make anything of it at a cursory examination.

[Illustration: ST. MARTIN'S, WAREHAM.]

Holy Trinity Church was for a long time in a state of ruin, but it has
now been repaired and is used as a mission room. All the other old
churches of Wareham have been swept away by fire or decay and with one
or two exceptions their very sites are lost.

Wareham is built on the usual regular plan of a Roman town, though it
is not certain that the thoroughfares follow the actual lines of the
original Roman streets. Evidences of this period are too vague and
uncertain to make any pronouncement. The streets to-day have the
mellow cleanly look of the country town unspoilt by any taint of
modern industrialism, but of actual antiquity there is none. This is
due to the great fire that raged in 1762 and to all intents and
purposes wiped the town out. During the Great War the narrow pavements
were thronged with khaki. A great military encampment extended
westwards along the north side of the Dorchester road for a
considerable distance, and, judging from present appearances, part of
this wooden suburb of Wareham appears of a permanent character.

The road over the old and picturesque Frome bridge passes at once into
the so-called Isle of Purbeck and gradually rises toward the hills
that cut across the "island." The views ahead, which include the
striking conical peak called "Creech Barrow," are of increasing
beauty, and when we approach the break between the long range of
Knowle Hill and Branscombe Hill, the strikingly fine picture of Corfe
Castle filling the gap makes an unforgettable scene. Just before
reaching the hillock upon which the castle stands, and three and a
half miles from Wareham, a road turns left, crossing the railway, and
winds by the northern face of Nine Barrows Down to Studland.

[Illustration: THE FROME AT WAREHAM.]

The original name for Corfe was Corvesgate, or the cutting in the
hills. This is its usual alias in the Wessex novels. The position was
so obviously suited for a sentry post that it was probably entrenched
in prehistoric times. Two small streams, the Byle brook and the
Steeple brook, run northwards on each side of the mount, uniting just
below it to form the Corve River. At first sight the mound appears to
be artificial, so velvety smooth and regular are its green sides in
contrast with the pile of ruin on its crown.

King Edgar is credited with the first fortified building; this was
used as a hunting lodge by his second wife Elfrida, who perpetrated
the cruel murder of her stepson Edward while he was drinking a cup of
wine at her door. The horse he was riding, no doubt spurred
involuntarily by the dying king, galloped away, dragging the body
along the ground, until it stopped from exhaustion. The dead monarch
was, as already related, buried at Wareham, but the real ruler of
England, Archbishop Dunstan, had it exhumed and reburied with much
solemn pomp at Shaftesbury Abbey.

During the Conqueror's reign, that great era of castle building, the
keep was first erected; by the reign of Stephen it was so strong that
he failed to take it from Baldwin de Redvers, who held it for Matilda.
John kept the crown jewels here, good evidence of its solidity, also a
few Frenchmen of high rank, of whom twenty-two were starved to death,
or so tradition says. The Princess Eleanor, captive for forty years,
was imprisoned here for a great part of that time by the same "Good
King John" who, as a punishment for prophesying the king's downfall,
had bold Peter, the hermit of Pontefract, incarcerated in the deepest
dungeon and subsequently hanged.

During the de Montfort rebellion the castle was held against the king.
Edward was kept here for a time by Isabella before his murder at
Berkley. The castle then passed through several hands until the time
of Elizabeth, when it was sold to Sir Christopher Hatton. During this
long period, the fabric was added to and improved until little of the
Norman structure remained. All the new buildings seem to have been
constructed with but one purpose, that of making an impregnable
fortress. The widow of Sir Christopher sold the castle to
Attorney-General Sir John Banks, ancestor of the Bankes of Kingston
Lacy, in whose occupation, or rather in that of his wife, it was to
have its invincibility put to the test. Sir John was with the king's
forces at York in 1643 when the army of the Parliament gathered upon
the Knowle and East hills. During six weeks repeated attacks were made
by the forces of Sir Walter Earle, but without success, and eventually
the siege was raised. In 1646 treachery succeeded where honest warfare
failed. Colonel Pitman, an officer of the royal garrison, admitted a
number of Roundheads, who obtained possession of the King's and
Queen's towers. The remainder of the building became untenable by the
poorly armed defenders, who had parted with their ordnance long before
as a matter of policy.

[Illustration: PLAN OF CORFE CASTLE.]

Months were spent by the victorious Parliamentary forces in mining the
foundations and in the systematic destruction of the magnificent
defences. As we see it to-day, the actual masonry is practically in
the condition left by the explosions, so massive is the material and
so indestructible the mortar.

The sketch which accompanies these brief notes will make the plan of
the castle clear, but no description can give any adequate notion of
the strange havoc wrought by the gunpowder. It speaks well for the
good workmanship of the builders when one remembers that these leaning
towers, that appear to be in immediate danger of collapse, have been
in the same condition for nearly three centuries. The western tower
has been carried down the hill nine feet from its original position,
but is still erect and unshattered. Part of the curtain wall was
completely reversed by the force of the explosive and now shows its
inner face. Whoever superintended the work of demolition must have
been one of the chagrined and disappointed attackers who was human
enough to vent his feelings, at much expense and great risk of life
and limb, on the stubborn old walls.

[Illustration: CORFE VILLAGE.]

Corfe, small town or large village, is picturesque and pleasant enough
in itself without the added interest of the castle and the beauty of
the surrounding country. The church is dedicated to the martyred
Edward. It was rebuilt in 1860, excepting the fourteenth century
tower, with its quaint gargoyles, and the Norman south porch. From the
tower, shot made from the organ pipes of the church was hurled at the
castle during the siege. The clock was constructed while Elizabeth was
queen and curfew is still rung daily from October to March at 8 p.m.
Within the church may be seen the old altar frontal used prior to the
Reformation, and the fifteenth-century font. Of much interest are the
quotations from the churchwardens' accounts that are preserved in the
church room.

The old market cross is gone. On its stump there was erected in 1897 a
new Latin cross to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria.
"Dackhams," the Elizabethan manor standing back from the Swanage road,
and now called Morton House, is a fine specimen of Tudor building. The
architecture of Corfe, as in most of the inland villages of the
"island," is most pleasing; a distinctive note being the pillared
porch with a room above.

Corfe Castle retained a mayor and eight "barons" until 1883. The last
to hold office (a Bankes) was also Lord High Admiral of Purbeck, a
picturesque title over three hundred years old. It will come as a
surprise to most readers to hear that Corfe was admitted to rank as a
Cinque Port. The town returned the usual two members in pre-reform
days.

A pleasant route out of Corfe is to take a path between cottages on
the left of the lane leading to West Orchard, and, crossing several
meadows, to pass over the breezy Corfe common to the Kingston road.
This gives the traveller a series of beautiful views and an especially
fine retrospect of Corfe Castle. In a short two miles Kingston,
climbing up its steep hill, is reached. The church, a landmark for
many miles, was built by Lord Eldon in 1880. It was designed by Street
in Early English. With its severe and lofty tower the exterior has a
coldly conventional aspect not altogether pleasing. Inside, the large
amount of Purbeck marble employed gives a touch of colour which, to a
certain extent, relieves the austerity. Not far away is the older
church built in Perpendicular style by Lord Chancellor Eldon. The seat
of the Eldon family is at Encombe, a lovely cup-shaped hollow opening
to the sea about a mile and a half away, and not far from the lonely
Chapman's (or perhaps Shipman's) Pool, a deep and sheltered cove on
the west of St. Aldhelm's Head. A path can be taken that crosses the
fields until the open common, which extends to the edge of the great
headland, is reached. On the summit, 450 feet above the waves, is a
little Norman chapel dedicated to the first Bishop of Sherborne, whose
name the headland bears and _not_ that of St. Alban, as erroneously
given in so many school geographies and in some tourist maps. This
chantry served a double purpose, prayers being said by the priest
within and a beacon lit upon the roof without, for the succour and
guidance of sailors. A cross now takes the place of the ancient beacon
bucket. It is said that the chapel was instituted by a sorrowing
father who saw his daughter and her husband drowned in the terrible
race off the headland in or about the year 1140. It was restored by
the same Earl of Eldon who built the Kingston church, and is looked
after by the neighbouring coast-guard. The interior is lit by one
solitary window in the thick wall and in the centre is a single
massive column. Some authorities have questioned its original use as a
place of prayer, but tradition, and a good deal of direct evidence,
point to the ecclesiastical nature of the building.

[Illustration: ST. ALDHELM'S.]

The tale of wreck and disaster off this wild coast reached such a
dreadful total that in 1881 after much agitation a light was erected
on Anvil Point and declared open by Joseph Chamberlain, then President
of the Board of Trade. Between the two heads, which are about four
miles apart, is the famous "Dancing Ledge," a sloping beach of solid
rock upon which the surf plays at high tide with a curious effect,
possibly suggesting the quaint name. This section of cliff, like the
whole of the Dorset coast, is of great interest to the geologist and
the veriest amateur must feel some curiosity on the subject when it is
apparent to him that the beautiful scenery of this shore is caused
mainly by its being the meeting place of so many differing strata. The
Kimmeridge clay will be noticed at once by its sombre colour, almost
quite black when wet, and in times of scarcity actually used as fuel.
This clay rings Chapman's Pool and extends westwards to Kimmeridge
Bay. St. Aldhelm's Head is built up of differing kinds of limestone,
the fine bastions of the top being composed of the famous Portland
stone itself, the finest of all the limestones from a commercial point
of view.

To walk from St. Aldhelm's along the cliff to Anvil Point and so into
Swanage is possible but fatiguing, and perhaps not worth the labour
involved. Winspit Quarry and Seacombe Cliff would be passed on the
way; between the two are some old guns marking the spot where the East
Indiaman _Halsewell_ went down in a fearful storm in January, 1786.
This tragedy was immortalized by Charles Dickens in "The Long Voyage."
Out of 250 souls only eighty-two were saved by men employed at Winspit
Quarry. Some of the passengers are buried in the level plot between
the two cliffs.

Worth Matravers, a mile and a half from the Head and four from
Swanage, is a village at the end of a by-way that leaves the Kingston
road near Gallows Gore(!) cottages, a mile west of Langton Matravers.
The name of both these villages connects them with an old Norman
family once of much importance in south-east Dorset. It is said that
one of them was the tool of Queen Isabella and the actual murderer of
Edward.

Worth is famous for its fine early Norman church, also restored by the
Earl of Eldon. The tower, of three stories, the nave, south door and
chancel arch, all belong to this period. The chancel itself is Early
English. The carved grotesques under the eaves of the roof are worthy
of notice. Not the least remarkable thing about Worth is the tombstone
of Benjamin Jesty, who is claimed thereon to be the first person to
inoculate for smallpox (1774). Langton Matravers need not keep the
stranger; its church was rebuilt nearly fifty years ago and the
village is unpicturesque.

We now approach Swanage, a delightful little town, well known and much
appreciated by those of the minority who prefer a restful and modest
resort to the glitter and crowds of Bournemouth. That it will never
attain the dimensions of its great neighbour to the north is fairly
certain. Swanage is in a comparatively inaccessible position. Barely
eight miles from Bournemouth as the crow flies, it is twenty-four
miles by rail and about the same by road. So that during the five
years of war, when the steamer service was suspended, Swanage had no
day trippers and the quietness of the town was accentuated, and the
camp on the southern slopes of Ballard Down did not interfere to any
great extent with this somnolence. But now the steamers pant across to
Swanage pier again and unload the curious crowd who make straight for
the Great Globe and Tilly Whim and pause to "rest and admire" as they
breast the steep slopes of Durlston.

[Illustration: OLD SWANAGE.]

The tutelary genius of Swanage is of stone and the two high priests of
the idol were Mowlein and Burt. Some undeserved fun has been poked at
the shade of the junior partner, who conceived the enormous open-air
kindergarten that has been formed out of the wild cliff at Durlston.
For the writer's part, while venturing to deplore certain
incongruities such as the startling inscription that faces the visitor
as he turns to survey the Tilly Whim cavern from the platform of rock
outside, a feeling of respect for the wholehearted enthusiasm and
industry of the remarkable man who was responsible for these marvels
is predominant. Every guide to Swanage enumerates in exhaustive detail
the objects which make the town a sort of "marine store" of stony odds
and ends. The best of these cast-offs is the entrance to the Town
Hall, once in Cheapside as the Wren frontage to Mercer's Hall. The
"gothic" tower at Peveril Point at one time graced the southern
approach to London Bridge as a Wellington memorial. The clock at the
Town Hall is said to be from a "scrapped" city church and the gilt
vane on the turret of Purbeck House on the other side of the way is
from Billingsgate. Not the least surprising of these relics are the
lamp-and-corner-posts bearing the names of familiar London parishes.

When Swanage was Danish Swanic (it was called Swanwick in the early
nineteenth century) it witnessed the defeat of its colonizers in a sea
fight with Alfred. The irresponsible partners commemorated this by
erecting a stone column surmounted by four _cannon balls_. A queer way
of perpetuating a pre-conquest naval victory, but possibly the
projectiles were less in the way here than at Millbank. Not far away,
attached to the wall of the Moslem Institute, is a coloured geological
map of the district, another effort at the higher education of "the
man on the beach." It is certainly a good idea, and may lead many to a
further study of a fascinating science, for nowhere may the practical
study of scenery be made to greater advantage than near Swanage.


Perhaps the most graceful curve of coast line in Dorset is Swanage
Bay, and to see it at its best one should stroll across the rising
ground of Peveril Point. To the right are the dark cliffs of Purbeck
marble that encircle Durlston Bay; to the left across the half-moon
stretch of water is the white chalk of Ballard Point guarded by "Old
Harry's daughter," the column of detached chalk in front. At one time
this was one of a family, but "Old Harry" and his "wife" have sunk
beneath the waves and the sole remaining member of the family may
disappear during the next great storm. Beyond, indistinct and remote
during fine weather but startlingly near when the glass is falling,
are the cliffs of Alum Bay in the Isle of Wight, and the guardian
"Needles."

The picturesque High Street should be followed past the Town Hall with
its alien Carolean front, and the long wall of Purbeck House that is
said to be made up from the "sweepings" of the Albert Memorial at
Kensington. Down a lane at the side of the civic building is the old
"Lock Up," with an inscription as quaint as it is direct, for it tells
us that it was erected "for the prevention of Wickedness and Vice by
the Friends of Religion and Good Order." Farther up High Street is a
cottage, creeper-clad and picturesque, where Wesley stayed while
preaching to the quarrymen. The best part of this stroll is towards
the end, where a space opens out on the right to St. Mary's Church and
the mill pond which is surrounded by as extraordinary a jumble of
queer old roofs and gables as may be seen in Dorset. The church has
been rebuilt and much altered and enlarged, but the tower is as old as
it looks and has seen several churches come and go beneath it. There
is no door lower than the second story and it must have been reached
by a ladder. It was undoubtedly built for, and used as, a fortress in
case of need.

Although there is little of beauty in the quarries that honeycomb the
hills to the west of Swanage, the industry that is carried on is of
much interest as a surviving guild or medieval trades union. One of
the laws of the "company," unbroken from immemorial time, is that no
work may be given to any but a freeman or his son who, after seven
years' apprenticeship, becomes a senior worker upon presenting to the
warden a fee of 6_s_. 8_d_., a loaf of bread and a bottle of beer. The
guild meet every Shrove Tuesday at Corfe to transact the formal
business of the year. Each quarryman and his partner, or partners,
hold the little independent working allotted to them apart from the
remainder of the quarry. This obviously prevents blasting and each
block of stone is cut out by manual labour.

[Illustration: TILLY WHIM.]

Purbeck marble is famous all over southern England, and many historic
buildings, from the Temple church in London to Salisbury and Exeter
Cathedrals, are enriched by the beautifully polished columns of this
dark-coloured limestone. The caves at Durlston, with their intriguing
name, are simply abandoned quarries, although all sorts of fanciful
legends have grown up about them. To any one familiar with the plan of
the working of a quarry, the sloping tunnel that gives access to the
cave will prove the origin to be artificial. Nevertheless, Tilly Whim
is romantic enough to please the most fastidious of the steamer
contingent and the scene from the platform of rock in front of the old
workings is as wild and natural as could well be imagined. As for the
open-air schoolroom above on Durlston Head a description is hardly
necessary. That the pedagogic master mason was not without the saving
grace of a sense of humour is proved by the once plain block of stone
provided for those who would perpetuate their own greatness, now
literally covered with names and initials. The staring red and white
"castle" that crowns the cliff is a restaurant built to accommodate
the day visitor, but if the evidence of discarded pastry bags and
ginger-beer bottles that at times litter and disfigure the cliff and
caves is to be regarded, the castle is not as well patronized as it
should be. This unseemliness is kept under by what appears to be a
daily clean up, though the writer has never met the public benefactor
who makes all tidy in the early morning hours before the steamers have
discharged their crowds. Possibly this is the same individual who
keeps the tangle of blackberry and tamarisk pruned down so that while
resting with "Sir Walter Scott" or "Shakespeare" we may duly admire
the view across Swanage Bay.

No one should omit the glorious walk northwards across the fine
expanse of Ballard Down to Studland. The coast road round the bay is
taken to a path bearing to the right in the pleasant suburb of New
Swanage. At the time of writing this leads through the before-mentioned,
partly derelict, military camp and, after passing on the right the old
Tudor farmhouse called Whitecliff, emerges on the open Down. The
rearward views gain in beauty with every step, and when the summit is
reached at the fence gate and the stone seat that seems to have
strayed from Durlston, a magnificent and unforgettable view is
obtained of Poole Harbour and the great heathland that stretches away
to the New Forest. Every intricacy of the harbour can be seen as on a
map, and its almost landlocked character is strikingly apparent as the
eye follows the bright yellow arc of sand to the cliffs of Bournemouth.
That town has most of its more glaring modernities decently hidden,
and the pier and a few spires and chimneys seem to blend into the
all-pervading golden brown of the Hampshire coast. In the near
foreground Studland looks very alluring in its bowery foliage, but
before descending the hillside the long and almost level Down should
be followed to the right past the shooting range, provided the absence
of a warning red flag gives permission. By a slight detour to the
right as the ground slopes toward that extension of Ballard Down
called Handfast Point, fearsome peeps may be had of the waves raging
round Old Harry's daughter and the submerged ruins of her parents.
Care must be taken here in misty weather, the cliffs are sheer, and
unexpected gaps occur where nothing could save the unwary explorer in
the event of an unlucky slip. Little is gained by following the cliff
top all the way to the extreme edge of the Point, and a return may be
made from hereabouts or a short cut made to the path leading to
Studland.

[Illustration: THE BALLARD CLIFFS.]

Studland was until quite lately one of the most unspoilt of English
villages. An unfortunate outbreak of red brick has slightly detracted
from its former quiet beauty, but it is still a charming little place
and claims as heretofore to be the "prettiest village in England," a
claim as impossible of acceptance as some other of the challenges made
by seaside towns. But it is unfair to class Studland with the usual
run of such resorts; perhaps its best claims upon us are negative
ones. It has no railway station, no pier, no bandstand, no parade, in
fact the old village turns its back upon the sea in an unmistakable
manner.

The foundations and lower parts of the walls of the church are
probably Saxon. The building as we see it is primitive Norman without
later additions or any very apparent attempts at restoration, though a
good deal of legitimate repairing has been carried out during the last
few years. The solemn and venerable churchyard yews lend an added air
of great age to the building. Close to the church door is the
tombstone of one Sergeant Lawrence, whose epitaph is a stirring record
of military service combined with a dash of real romance, though
probably the sergeant's whole life did not have as much of the essence
of dreadful war as one twelve months in the career of a present-day
city clerk.

A long mile west, on the northern slopes of Studland Heath, is the
famous Agglestone "that the Devil while sulking in the Isle of Wight
threw at the builders of Corfe Castle" or, according to another
account, from Portland. Probably the confusion arose through the
original reporter using the term "the Island." Natives would know that
the definite article could only refer to their own locality! The stone
is an effect of denudation and is similar to other isolated sandstone
rocks scattered about the south of England, e.g., the "Toad" Rock at
Tunbridge Wells and "Great upon Little" near West Heathly in Sussex. A
short distance away is a smaller mass called the "Puckstone." The
derivation of the larger rock is probably Haligstane--Holy Stone. So
difficult is it to contemplate the ages through which gradual
weathering would bring these stones to their present shape that
scientists, as recently as the middle of the last century, were at
variance as to their natural or artificial origin.

A by-road, a little over five miles long, runs under the face of Nine
Barrows Down and Brenscombe Hill to Corfe. It is a picturesque route
and has some good views, but a much finer way, and but little longer,
is along the top of the Downs themselves culminating at Challow Hill
in a sudden sight of Corfe, backed by the imposing Knowle Hill. This
walk is even surpassed by that along the hills westwards from Corfe.
In this direction a similar by-road also runs under the long line of
the Purbeck Hills, here so called, but on the south side of the range
through Church Knowle which has an old cruciform church pulled about
by "restorers" as far back as the early eighteenth century and several
times since. The village is pleasant in itself and beautifully
situated. A short distance farther is an ancient manor house dating
from the fourteenth century. Its name--Barneston--is said to
perpetuate a Saxon landholder, Berne, so that the foundations of the
house are far older than this period. Over three miles from Corfe is
the small church hamlet of Steeple; here a road bears upward to the
right, and if the hill top has not been followed all the way from
Corfe it should certainly be gained at this point. Not far away and
nearer Church Knowle is Creech Barrow, a cone-shaped hill commanding a
most extensive and beautiful view, especially north-westwards over the
heathy flats of the Frome valley to the distant Dorset-Somerset
borderlands. The narrow Purbeck range now makes obliquely for the
coast, where it ends more than six miles from Corfe in the magnificent
bluff of Flowers' Barrow, or Ring's Hill, above Worbarrow Bay. This is
without doubt the finest portion of the Dorset coast, not only for the
striking outline of the cliffs and hills themselves but for the
beautiful colouring of the strata and the contrasting emerald of the
dells that break down to the purple-blue of the water. Neither drawing
nor photograph can give any idea of this exquisite blend of the stern
and the beautiful.

[Illustration: ARISH MEL.]

Eastwards, Gad Cliff guards the remote little village of Tyneham from
the sea; certain portions of this precipice seem in imminent danger of
falling into the water, so much do they overhang the beach. At
Kimmeridge Bay the cliff takes the sombre hue seen near Chapman's Pool
and the beach and water are discoloured by the broken shale that has
fallen from the low cliff. It is thought that a sort of jet jewellery
was made here in Roman times; quantities of perforated discs have been
found about the bay--termed "coal money" by the fishermen. The greasy
nature of this curious form of clay is remarkable. Naphtha has been
obtained from it and various commercial enterprises have been started
at Kimmeridge in connexion with the local product but all seem to have
failed miserably because of the unendurable smell that emanates when
combustion takes place.

The "Tout" forms the eastern extremity of Worbarrow Bay; this boldly
placed and precipitous little hill forms a sort of miniature Gibraltar
and is one of the outstanding features of this bewilderingly intricate
shore. On the farther or western side of the bay is the exquisite
Arish Mel Gap,[1] that, taking all points into consideration,
particularly that of colouring, is probably the finest scene of its
kind on the English coast. Picturesquely placed at the head of the
miniature valley is Lulworth Castle, grey and stern, and making an
ideal finish to the unforgettable picture. A spring in the recesses of
the dell sends a small and sparkling stream down to the gap, the sides
of which in spring and early summer are a blaze of white and gold,
challenging the cliffs in their display of colour. A path climbs
gradually by an old wind-torn wood up the landward side of Bindon
Hill, with gorgeous rearward views across the fields of Monastery Farm
to the northern escarpment of the Purbeck Hills. The path very soon
reaches the top of Bindon that seems to drop directly to Mupe Bay and
its jagged surf-covered rocks. In two miles from Arish Mel the path
ends directly above the delectable Lulworth Cove, and of all ways of
reaching that unique and lovely little place this is the most
charming. Care must be taken on the steep side of Bindon. Several
accidents have taken place here. One of them is perpetuated by an
inscription on a board placed upon the hillside. The path must be
followed until it drops into the road leading to the landward village.

[1] Correctly--_Arish Mel_. "Gap" and "Mel" are synonyms in Dorset.

[Illustration: LULWORTH COVE FROM ABOVE STAIR HOLE.]

Lulworth bids fair, or ill, to become a "resort" apart from the
descents from Bournemouth or Weymouth, which are only of a few hours'
duration. Before the Great War there was an extension of West Lulworth
round the foot of Bindon Hill, but the railway at Wool is still a good
five miles away and the great majority of seaside visitors seem to
fight shy of any place that has not a station on the beach.

Lulworth has been described and photographed so many times that a
description seems needless. It would want an inspired pen to do any
portion of this coast full justice. Suffice it to say that the cove is
almost circular, 500 yards across, and that the entrance is so narrow
as to make it almost invisible from the open sea. The contortions of
the cliff face within the cove would alone render the place famous.

More often sketched than Lulworth; perhaps because it is easier to
draw, is Durdle Door or Barn Door, the romantic natural arch that juts
out at the end of Barndoor Cove. The outline has all the appearance of
stage scenery of the goblin cavern sort. So lofty is the opening that
a sailing boat can pass through with ease. Behind it is the soaring
Swyre Head, 670 feet high, and the third of that name in Dorset.
Between this point and Nelson Fort on the west of Lulworth Cove is
Stair Hole, a gloomy roofless cavern into which the tide pours with a
terrifying sound, especially when a strong sou-wester is blowing.

[Illustration: DURDLE DOOR.]

East Lulworth is a charming old village, three miles from the cove and
two from West Lulworth. Close to it is the castle that completes the
picture at Arish Mel. The church, much altered and rebuilt, is
Perpendicular, and in it are interesting memorials of the Welds to
whom the castle has belonged since 1641. This family are members of
the Roman church, and a fine chapel for adherents of that communion
was built in the park at the end of the eighteenth century. It is said
to be the first erected in England since the Reformation. The ex-king
Charles X of France sought and found sanctuary at Lulworth Castle in
August, 1830, as Duke of Milan. He was accompanied by his heir, the
Duke of Angouleme, and the Duke of Bordeaux.

[Illustrtion: CERNE ABBEY GATEHOUSE.]




CHAPTER IV

DORCHESTER AND ITS SURROUNDINGS


The railway from Wareham to Dorchester runs through the heart of that
great wild tract that under the general name of Egdon Heath forms a
picturesque and often gloomy background to many of Mr. Hardy's
romances. These heath-lands are a marked characteristic of the scenery
of this part of the county. Repellent at first, their dark beauty,
more often than not, will capture the interest and perhaps awe of the
stranger. Much more than a mere relic of the great forest that
stretched for many miles west of Southampton Water and that in its
stubborn wildness bade fair to break up the Saxon advance, the heaths
of Dorset extend over a quarter of the area of the county.

Wool is five miles from Wareham and is the station for Bindon Abbey,
half a mile to the east. The pleasant site of the abbey buildings on
the banks of the Frome is now a resort of holiday-makers, adventurers
from Bournemouth and Swanage, who may have al-fresco teas through the
goodwill of the gatekeeper, though it would appear that they must
bring all but the cups and hot water with them. The outline of the
walls and a few interesting relics may be seen, but there is nothing
apart from the natural surroundings to detain us. The old red brick
Manor House, close to the station, and in plain view from the train,
was a residence of the Turbervilles, immortalized by Hardy. Of much
interest also is the old Tudor bridge that here crosses the Frome.

[Illustration: PUDDLETOWN.]

At Wool the rail parts company with the Dorchester turnpike and soon
after leaves the valley of the Frome, traversing a sparsely populated
district served by one small station in the ten miles to Dorchester,
at Moreton. Here a road runs northwards in four miles to the "Puddles"
of which there are several dotted about the valley of that quaintly
named river. Puddletown, the Weatherbury of the Wessex woods, is the
largest and has an interesting church, practically unrestored. The
Athelhampton chapel here contains ancient effigies of the Martin
family, the oldest dating from 1250. The curiously shaped Norman font,
like nothing else but a giant tumbler, will be admired for its fine
vine and trellis ornament. The old oak gallery that dates from the
early seventeenth century has happily been untouched. Athelhampton
Manor occupies the site of an ancient palace of King Athelstan. Though
certain portions of the present buildings are said to date from the
time of Edward III the greater part is Tudor and very beautiful.
Affpuddle, the nearest of the villages to Moreton Station, has a
perpendicular church with a fine pinnacled tower. The chief object of
interest within is the Renaissance pulpit with curious carvings of the
Evangelists in sixteenth-century dress. Scattered about the
heath-lands in this neighbourhood are a number of "swallow holes" with
various quaint names such as "Culpepper's Dish" and "Hell Pit." At one
time supposed to be prehistoric dwellings, they are undoubtedly of
natural formation.

Bere Regis, rather farther away to the north-east, is the Roman
Ibernium. This was a royal residence in Saxon days and a hunting lodge
of that King John of many houses; very scanty remains of the buildings
are pointed out in a meadow near the town. Part of the manor came to
the Turbervilles, or d'Urbervilles, of Mr. Hardy's romance. The
church, restored in 1875 by Street, is a fine building, mostly
Perpendicular with some Norman remains. Particularly noteworthy is the
grand old roof of the nave with its gorgeously coloured and gilt
figures, also the ancient pews and Transitional font. There are
canopied tombs of the Turbervilles in a chapel and some modern stained
glass in which the family arms figure. Bere Regis is the "Kingsbere"
of Thomas Hardy, and Woodbury Hill, close by, is the scene of
Greenhill Fair in _Far from the Madding Crowd_. Here, in the oval camp
on the summit, a sheep fair has been held since before written records
commence. These fairs, several of which take place in similar
situations in Wessex, are of great antiquity. Some are held in the
vicinity of certain "blue" stones, mysterious megaliths of unknown
age.

It is doubtful if any town in England has so many remains of the
remote past in its vicinity as Dorchester. Probably the Roman
settlement of Durnovaria was a parvenu town to the Celts, whose
closely adjacent Dwrinwyr was also an upstart in comparison with the
fortified stronghold two miles away to the south; the "place by the
black water" being an initial attempt to establish a trading centre by
a people rather timidly learning from their Phoenician visitors. The
great citadel at Maiden Castle belonged to a still earlier time, when
men lived in a way which rendered trade a very superfluous thing.

Modern Dorchester is a delightful, one might almost say a lovable,
town, so bright and cheery are its streets, so countrified its air.
But it is probably true that nearly every one is disappointed with it
at their first visit. Historical towns are written of, and written up,
until the stranger's mind pictures a sort of Nuremburg. Dorchester is
a placid Georgian agricultural centre. In fact there is very little
that antedates the seventeenth century and yet, for all that, it is
one of the most interesting towns in the south. Its loss of the
antique is due to more than one disastrous fire that swept nearly
everything away. It is when the foundations of a new house are being
dug that the past of Dorchester comes to light and another addition is
made to the rich store in the museum. Describing "Casterbridge" Hardy
says: "It is impossible to dig more than a foot or two deep about the
town fields or gardens without coming upon some tall soldier or other
of the Empire who had lain there in his silent unobtrusive rest for a
space of fifteen hundred years." It is needless to say that
"Casterbridge" and the town here briefly described are identical. To
the limits laid down by the Roman, Dorchester has kept true through
the ages, and until quite lately the town terminated with a pleasant
abruptness at the famous "Walks" that mark the positions of the Roman
Walls. The so-called Roman road, the "Via Iceniana," Roman only in the
improvement and straightening of a far older track, passed through the
town. This was once the highway between that mysterious and wonderful
district in Wiltshire, of which Stonehenge is the most outstanding
monument, and the largest prehistoric stronghold in England--the Mai
dun--"the strong hill," south of Dorchester.

The South Western station is close to another fine relic of the past,
though this cannot claim to have any Celtic or pre-Celtic foundation.
The great circle of Maumbury Rings was the original stadium or
coliseum of the Roman town; the tiers of seats when filled are
estimated to have held over twelve thousand spectators. The gaps at
each end are the obvious ways for entering and leaving the arena. In
digging the foundations of the brewery near by, a subway was found
leading toward the circus, which may have been used by the wild beasts
and their keepers in passing from and to their quarters. Maumbury was
the scene of a dreadful execution in 1705, when one Mary Channing was
first strangled and then burnt for the murder of her husband by
poison, though she loudly declared her innocence to the last. On this
occasion ten thousand persons are said to have lined the banks. It is
difficult at first to appreciate the size of the Rings. If two or more
persons are together it is a good plan to leave one alone in the
centre while the others climb to the summit of the bank. By this means
a true idea of the vast size of the enclosure may be gained.

[Illustration: DORCHESTER.]

The "Walks" are the pleasantest feature of modern Dorchester and run
completely round three sides of the town, the fourth being bounded by
the "dark waters" of the Frome. They are lined with fine trees planted
about two hundred years ago; the West Walk, with its section of Roman
Wall, is perhaps the best, though the South Walk with its gnarled old
trees is much admired. They all give the town an uncommon aspect, and
there is nothing quite like them elsewhere in England. The contrast on
turning eastwards from the quiet West Walk into bustling High West
Street is striking and bears out the claim that Dorchester still keeps
more or less within its ancient bounds, for turning in the other
direction we are soon in a different and "suburban" atmosphere. High
West Street is lined with pleasant eighteenth century houses, the
residences or offices of professional men intermixed with some
first-class shops. Once these houses were the mansions of county
families who "came to town" for a season when London was for several
reasons impracticable. The chief buildings are congregated round the
town centre; here is the Perpendicular St. Peter's church, a building
saved during the great fire in 1613 when nearly everything else of
antiquity perished. Outside is the statue of William Barnes, the
Dorset poet, whose writings in his native dialect are only now gaining
a popularity no more than their due. The bronze figure represents the
poet in his old fashioned country clergyman's dress, knee-breeches and
buckled shoes, a satchel on his back and a sturdy staff in his hand.
Underneath the simple inscription are these quaint and touching lines
from one of his poems ("Culver Dell and the Squire"):

  "Zoo now I hope his kindly feaece
  Is gone to vind a better pleaece;
  But still wi' v'ok a-left behind
  He'll always be a-kept in mind."

The speech of the older Dorset folk is the ancient speech of Wessex.
It is not an illiterate corruption but a true dialect with its own
grammatical rules. But alas! fifty years of the council school and its
immediate predecessor has done more to destroy this ancient form of
English than ten centuries of intercourse between the Anglo-Celtic
races.[2]

[2] A good example of the Dorset dialect is contained in the message
sent to the King by the Society of Dorset Men at their annual banquet
in London.

    "TO HIS MAJESTY KING JARGE

    Sire--Dree hunderd loyal men vrom Darset, voregather'd at th'
    Connaught Rooms, Kingsway, on this their Yearly Veaest Day, be
    mindvul o' yer Grashus Majesty, an' wi' vull hearts do zend ee
    the dootivul an' loyal affecshuns o' th' Society o' Darset Men
    in Lon'on. In starm or zunsheen thee ca'st allus rely on our
    vull-heart'd zympathy an' suppwort. Zoo wi'out any mwore ham-chammy
    we ageen raise our cyder cups to ee, wi' th' pious pray'r on our
    lips that Heaven ull prosper ee, an' we assure ee that Darset Men
    ull ever sheen as oone o' th' bright jools in yer Crown. I d' bide,
    az avoretime, an' vor all time, Thy Vaithful Sarvint,

    SHAFTESBURY (President o' Darset Men in Lon'on)."

In the porch of the church lies the "Patriarch of Dorchester," John
White, Rector of Holy Trinity, who died in 1648 and who seems to have
kept the town pretty well under his own control. A Puritan, he
incurred the hatred of Prince Rupert's followers, who plundered his
house and carried away his papers and books. He escaped to London and
was for a time Rector of Lambeth, afterwards returning to Dorchester.
He raised money for the equipment of emigrants from Dorchester to
Massachusetts and thus became one of the founders of New England.
Inside the church the Hardy tablet to the left of the door is in
memory of the ancestor of both that Admiral Hardy who was the friend
of Nelson and the great novelist whose writings have been the means of
making "Dear Do'set" known to all the world. The monument of Lord
Holles is remarkable for a comic cherub who is engaged in wiping his
tears away with a wisp of garment; the naivete of the idea is amusing
in more ways than one. Another curious monument, badly placed for
inspection, is that of Sir John Williams. The so-called "crusaders"
effigies are thought to be of a later date than the last crusade; no
inscriptions remain, so that they cannot be identified. The curfew
that still rings from St. Peter's tower is an elaborate business.
Besides telling the day of the month by so many strokes after the ten
minutes curfew is rung, a bell is tolled at six o'clock on summer
mornings and an hour later in the winter. Also at one o'clock midday
to release the workers of the town for dinner.

Holy Trinity Church was destroyed in the great fire. Another
conflagration in 1824 removed its successor. The present building only
dates from 1875 and is a fairly good Victorian copy of Early English.
All Saints' was rebuilt in 1845. It retains the canopied altar tomb of
Matthew Chubb (1625) under the tower. The organ here was presented by
the people of Dorchester, Massachusetts, for the founding of which
town John White, the rector of Holy Trinity, was mainly responsible.

[Illustration: NAPPER'S MITE.]

The County Museum, close to St. Peter's Church, should on no account
be missed. Here is stored a most interesting collection of British and
Roman antiquities found in and around Dorchester, and also of fossils
from the Dorset coast and elsewhere, together with many out-of-the-way
curiosities. "Napper's Mite" is the name given to the old almshouse in
South 1615 with money left for the Robert Napper. It has a queer open
gallery or stone verandah along the street front. Next door to it is
the Grammar School, which owes its inception to the Thomas Hardy who
is commemorated in St. Peter's, and whose benefactions to the town
were many and great. Of equal interest, perhaps, is a house on the
other side of the street that was once a school kept by William
Barnes, surely the most serene and kindly schoolmaster that ever
taught unruly youth. Barnes, in addition to his other literary work,
was secretary of the Dorset Museum, but his incumbency at Whitcombe
and the small addition to his income obtained in other ways did not
amount altogether to a "living" and he was forced to take up schooling
to make both ends meet. The poems were never a financial success,
though they always received a chorus of praise and appreciation and
led many literary lions to meet the author. After years full of sordid
cares Barnes was granted a civil list pension and the rectory of Came.
Here, in the midst of the peasantry he loved so well, this gentle
spirit passed away in 1886.

The lodging occupied by Judge Jeffreys during the Monmouth Rebellion
trials or "Bloody Assize" (1685), when seventy-four were sentenced to
death on Gallows Hill of dreadful memory, and 175 to transportation to
carry westward with them the bitter seeds that bore glorious fruit a
century later, was in a house still standing nearly opposite the
museum. This almost brings the list of historical buildings in
Dorchester to a close. The County Hall, Town Hall and Corn Exchange,
all unpretentious and quietly dignified, represent both shire and
town. The few buildings left by the seventeenth-century fire seem to
have included a highly picturesque group near the old Pump (now marked
by an obelisk) and at the commencement of High East Street, where a
dwelling-house went right across the highway. This was pulled down by
a corporation filled with zeal for the public convenience. The
improvement, regrettable on the score of picturesqueness, has given us
the noble view down the London road. The other great highways that
approach the town from the west and south do so through fine avenues
of trees which give a distinctive note to the environs of Dorchester.

Fordington is usually described as a suburb of Dorchester; this is not
strictly correct. It had always been a dependent village and was not
simply an extension of the town. Its church is a fine one, with tall
battlemented tower and a goodly amount of Norman work. A quaint old
carving over the Norman south door is of much interest. It represents
St. George as taking part in the battle of Antioch in 1098. Some of
the Saracens are being mercilessly dispatched while others are
pleading for quarter. The stone pulpit bears the date 1592 and the
initials E.R. The late Bishop of Durham, Dr. Moule, was born at
Fordington Vicarage.

Stainsford, about a mile from the Frome bridge, is the original of the
scene in _Under the Greenwood Tree_. Several members of the Hardy
family lie in the churchyard here, and the novelist was born at Higher
Bockhampton, not far away. The carving of St. Michael on the face of
the church tower should be noticed. Within the building are memorials
of the Pitt family.

Above the short tunnel through which the Great Western line runs to
the north, and about half a mile along the Bradford Peverell road, is
Poundbury Camp. "Pummery" is an oblong entrenchment enclosing about
twenty acres, variously ascribed to Celts, Romans and Danes, but
almost certainly Celtic, with Roman improvements and developments.
There is a fine view of the surroundings of Dorchester from the bank.
It is only by the most strenuous exertions that the railway engineers
were prevented from burrowing right through the camp. The cutting of
this line brought to light many relics of the past, a great number of
which are in the Dorchester Museum.

[Illustration: MAIDEN CASTLE.]

On the south-west side of the town, two miles away near the Weymouth
road, is the greatest of these prehistoric entrenchments; Mai-dun or
"Maiden Castle" is the largest British earthwork in existence. It is
best reached by a footpath continuation of a by-way that leaves the
Weymouth road on the right, soon after it crosses the Great Western
Railway. The highest point of the hill that has been converted into
this huge fort is 432 feet; the apex being on the east. The marvellous
defences, which follow the lines of the hill, are two miles round and
the whole space occupies about 120 acres. From east to west the camp
is 3,000 feet long and about half that measurement in breadth. On the
south side there are no less than five lines of ditch and wall. On the
north the steepness of the hill only allows of three. Over the
entrance to the west ten ramparts overlap and double so that attackers
were in a perfect maze of walls and enfiladed so effectually that it
is difficult to imagine any storming party being successful. On the
east the opening, without being quite so elaborate owing to the
steepness of the hill, is equally well defended. The steep walls on
the north are no less than sixty feet deep and to storm them would be
a sheer impossibility. What makes this splendid monument so
interesting is the assertion made by nearly all authorities on the
subject that these enormous works must have been excavated without
spade or tool other than the puny implement called a "celt." Probably
wall and ditch were elaborated and improved by the Romans, and while
in their occupation the name of the hill became Dunium. Blocks of
stone from Purbeck, used at certain points of the defence, were no
doubt additions during this period.

A pleasant journey may be taken through the Winterbourne villages that
are strung along the line of that rivulet, which, as its name
proclaims, flows only in the winter months. It is on the south side of
Maiden Castle. The first village with the name of the river as a
prefix is Came, two miles from Dorchester. Here Barnes was rector for
the last twenty-five years of his life. His grave is in the quiet
churchyard quite close to the diminutive tower. Within the church is a
fine carved screen and several effigies. Proceeding westwards we come
to Herringstone where there is an old house once the seat of the
Herrings and, since early Jacobean days, of the Williams family. Then
comes Monkton, close to Maiden Castle. The church is Norman, much
restored. St. Martin follows; a picturesque hamlet with a fine church,
the last in the west of England to dispense with clarionet, flute and
bass-viol in the village choir. On sign-posts as well as colloquially
this hamlet is known as "Martinstown." Steepleton boasts a stone
spire, rare for Dorset, and a curious and very ancient figure of an
angel on the outside wall declared by most authorities to be Saxon.
The last of the villages is Winterbourne Abbas, seven miles from
Winterbourne Came. The whole of the low hillsides around the hamlets
of the bourne are covered with barrows, some of which have been
explored with good results, though indiscriminate ravishing of these
old graves is to be deplored.

Another short excursion from Dorchester is up the valley of the Cerne.
About a mile and a half from St. Peter's Church, proceeding by North
Street, is Charminster, a pretty little place in itself and well
situated in the opening valley of the sparkling Cerne. Here is a
church with a noble Perpendicular tower, built by Sir Thomas Trenchard
about 1510. The knight's monogram is to be seen on the tower. Within
the partly Norman church are several monuments of the family, which
lived at Wolfeton House, a fine Tudor mansion on the site of a still
older building. Its embattled towers, beautiful windows and ivy-clad
walls make up an ideal picture of a "stately home of England."
Wolfeton was the scene of the reception in 1506 of Philip of Austria
and Joanna of Spain, who were driven into Weymouth by a storm. (The
incident is referred to in the next chapter.) This occurrence may be
said to have founded the fortunes of the ducal house of Bedford. Young
John Russell, of Bridport, a relative of the Trenchards, happened to
be a good linguist, which the host was not. He was sent for, and so
well impressed the royal couple that they took him with them to
Windsor. Henry VII was quite as much interested, and young Russell's
fortune was made. He stayed with the court until the next reign, and
at the Dissolution got Woburn Abbey, a property still in the hands of
his great family.

Continuing up the Cerne valley, Godmanstone, a village of picturesque
gables and colourful roofs, is about four and a half miles from
Dorchester. Here the valley narrows between Cowden Hill and Crete
Hill. The Perpendicular church has been restored, and is of little
interest. Nether Cerne, a mile further along and two miles short of
Cerne Abbas, also calls for little comment, but "Abbas" (or, according
to Hardy, "Abbots Cernel") is of much historic interest.

Cerne Abbey was founded in 987 by Aethelmar, Earl of Devon and
Cornwall. Legend has it that the monastery originated in the days of
St. Augustine, but of this there is no proof, though it is certain
that a religious house nourished here for nearly a century before the
Benedictine abbey was established. The first Abbot Aelfric was famous
for his learning, and his Homilies in Latin and English are of much
value to students of Anglo-Saxon. Canute was the first despoiler of
Cerne, though he made good his plunderings tenfold when peace, on his
terms, came to Wessex. Queen Margaret sought sanctuary here in 1471
with her son, the heir to the English throne. At the Abbey, or on the
way thither from Weymouth, the courageous Queen learned of the defeat
of the Lancastrian army at Barnet. From Cerne she went to lead a force
against the Yorkists at Tewkesbury. There she was defeated, her son
brutally murdered and all hope lost for the cause of her imprisoned
husband, the feeble and half-witted Henry VI.

A most beautiful relic of the Abbey is the Gatehouse, a fine stone
building that has weathered to the most exquisite tint. The grand
oriel window and panelled and groined entrance are justly admired. The
remaining ruins, however, are almost negligible. The Perpendicular
church is remarkable for its splendid tower, on which is a niche and
canopy enshrining an old statue of the Virgin and Child. Within is a
good stone screen and a fine oaken pulpit dating from 1640. Cerne town
seems never to have recovered its importance after the loss of the
Abbey. For its size, it is the sleepiest place in Dorset and its
streets are literally grass grown. The surroundings are beautiful in a
quiet way, and the town and neighbourhood generally provide an ideal
spot for a rest cure. North-east of the town is a chalk bluff called
Giant's Hill, with the figure of the famous "Cerne Giant," 180 feet in
height, cut on its side. "Vulgar tradition makes this figure
commemorate the destruction of a giant, who, having feasted on some
sheep in Blackmore and laid himself down to sleep, was pinioned down
like another Gulliver, and killed by the enraged peasants on the spot,
who immediately traced his dimensions for the information of
posterity" (Criswick). An encampment on the top of the hill and the
figure itself are probably the work of early Celts. The "Giant" is
reminiscent of the "Long Man of Wilmington" on the South Downs near
Eastbourne. An interesting experiment in the communal life was started
in 1913 near the town. After struggling along for five years it
finally "petered out" in 1918, helped to its death, no doubt, by the
exigencies of the last year of war.

A return may be made by way of Maiden Newton, about six miles
south-west of Cerne, passing through Sydling St. Nicholas, where there
is a Perpendicular church noted for its fine tower with elaborate
gargoyles. The old Norman font and north porch are also noteworthy.
Close to the church is an ancient Manor-house with a fine tithe barn.
This belonged in 1590 to the famous Elizabethan, Sir Francis
Walsingham. Maiden Newton is a junction on the Great Western with a
branch line to Bridport.

The beautiful churchyard is the best thing about Maiden Newton. The
village had seen, prior to the late war, a good deal of rebuilding;
relative unattractiveness is the consequence. This seems to be the
almost inevitable result of the establishment of a railway junction.
The church stands on the site of a Wrest Saxon building, and is partly
Norman with much Perpendicular work. Cattistock, a long mile north, is
unspoilt and pretty both in itself and its situation. It has a fine
church, much rebuilt and gaudily decorated, with a tower containing no
less than thirty-five bells and a clock face so enormous that it
occupies a goodly portion of the wall.

If the railway is not taken one may return by the eight miles of high
road that follows the Frome through Vanchurch and Frampton to
Charminster and Dorchester. The first named village though pleasant
enough, calls for little comment, but Frampton (or Frome town) is not
only picturesquely placed between the soft hills that drop to the
wooded banks of the river, but has also other claims to notice. The
church, though it has been cruelly pulled about, has an interesting
old stone pulpit with carvings of monks bearing vessels. A number of
memorials may be seen of the Brownes, once a renowned local family,
and of their successors and connexions, among whom were certain of the
Sheridan family, of which the famous Richard Brinsley Sheridan was a
member. Near Frampton in the closing years of the eighteenth century a
Roman pavement was discovered, bearing in its mosaic indications of
Christian designs and forms.

The straight and tree-lined Roman road that runs west from Dorchester
is, except for fast motor traffic and a few farm waggons bringing
produce to the great emporium of Dorset, usually deserted, for it has
no villages of importance on the fourteen miles to Bridport.
Winterbourne Abbas is more than four miles away and Kingston Russell,
exactly half-way to Bridport, is the only other village on the road.
This was once the home of the Russells who became Dukes of Bedford.
Here was born Sir T.M. Hardy and here died J.L. Motley, author of the
_History of the Dutch Republic_. The poor remnants of the old manor
house are to be seen in the farm near the hamlet.

[Illustration: WEYMOUTH HARBOUR.]




CHAPTER V

WEYMOUTH AND PORTLAND


The fashionable Weymouth of to-day is the Melcombe Regis of the past,
and quite a proportion of visitors to Melcombe never go into the real
Weymouth at all. The tarry, fishy and beery (in a manufacturing sense
only) old town is on the south side of the harbour bridge and has
little in common with the busy and popular watering place on the north
and east. Once separate boroughs, the towns are now under one
government, and Melcombe Regis has dropped its name almost entirely in
favour of that of the older partner.

How many towns on the coast claim their particular semicircle of bay
to be "the English Naples"? Douglas, Sandown and even Swanage have at
some time or other, through their local guides, plumed themselves on
the supposed resemblance. It is as inapplicable to these as it is to
Weymouth, though the latter seems to insist upon it more than the
rest. Apart from the bay, which is one of the most beautiful on the
coast, boarding-house Weymouth is more like Bloomsbury than anywhere
else on earth, and a very pleasant, mellow, comfortable old
Bloomsbury, reminiscent of good solid comfortable times, even if they
were rather dowdy and dull. Not that Weymouth is dull. In the far-off
days of half-day excursions from London at a fare that now would only
take them as far as Windsor, the crowds of holiday-makers were wont to
make the front almost too lively. But away from such times there are
few towns of the size that make such a pleasant impression upon the
chance tourist, who can spend some days here with profit if he will
but make it the headquarters for short explorations into the
surrounding country and along the coast east and west, but especially
east.

The first mention of Weymouth in West Saxon times is in a charter of
King Ethelred, still existing, that makes a grant of land "in Weymouth
or Wyke Regis" to Atsere, one of the King's councillors. Edward
Confessor gave the manor to Winchester, and afterwards it became the
property of Eleanor, the consort of Edward I. The large village slowly
grew into a small town and port.

[Illustration: WYKE REGIS.]

Wool became its staple trade, and in 1347 the port was rich enough to
find twenty ships for the fleet besieging Calais. At this time
Melcombe Regis began to assume as much importance as its neighbour
across the harbour. The only communication between the two was then a
ferry boat worked hand over hand by a rope. Henry VIII built Sandsfoot
Castle for the protection of the ports, and while Elizabeth was Queen
the harbour was bridged and the jealousy between the towns brought to
an end by an Act passed to consolidate their interests. Soon after
this the inhabitants had the satisfaction of seeing the great galleon
of a Spanish admiral brought in as a prize of war, the towns having
furnished six large ships toward the fleet that met the Armada.

During the reign of the seventh Henry a violent storm obliged Philip
of Castile and his consort Joanna to claim, much against their will,
the hospitality of the town. The Spanish sovereigns, who were not on
the best terms with England, were very ill, and dry land on any terms
was, to them, the only desirable thing. They were met on landing by
Sir Thomas Trenchard of Wolveton with a hastily summoned force of
militia. King Philip was informed that he would not be allowed to
return to his ship until Henry had seen him, and in due course the
Earl of Arundel arrived to conduct the unwilling visitors to the
presence of the king. As we saw while at Charminster, this incident
led to the founding of a great ducal family.

It is to George III that Weymouth owes its successful career as a
watering place, although a beginning had been made over twenty years
before the King's visit by a native of Bath named Ralph Allen, who
actually forsook that "shrine of Hygeia," to come to Melcombe, where
"to the great wonder of his friends he immersed his bare person in the
open sea." Allen seems to have been familiar with the Duke of Gloucester,
whom he induced to accompany him. So pleased was the Duke with Melcombe,
that he decided to build a house on the front--Gloucester Lodge, now
the hotel of that name--and here to the huge delight of the inhabitants,
George, his Queen and three daughters came in 1789. An amusing account
of the royal visit is given by Fanny Burney. The King was so pleased
with the place that he stayed eleven weeks, and by his unaffected
buorgeois manner and approachableness quickly gained the enthusiastic
loyalty of his Dorset subjects. Miss Burney's most entertaining
reminiscence of the visit is the oft-repeated account of the King's
first dip in the sea. Immediately the royal person "became immersed
beneath the waves" a band, concealed in a bathing machine struck up
"God save Great George our King." Weymouth is in possession of a
keepsake of these stirring times in the statue of His Hanoverian
Majesty that graces(?) the centre of the Esplanade. It is to be hoped
that the town will never be inveigled into scrapping this memorial,
which for quaintness and unconscious humour is almost unsurpassed. A
subject of derisive merriment to the tripper and of shuddering aversion
for those with any aesthetic sense, it is nevertheless an interesting
link with another age and is not very much worse than some other
specimens of the memorial type of a more recent date. It has lately
received a coat of paint of an intense black and the cross-headed wand
that the monarch holds is tipped with gold. The contrast with the
enormous expanse of white base, out of all proportion to the little
black figure of the King, is strangely startling.

Not much can be said for St. Mary's, an eighteenth-century church in
St. Mary's Street which carries the Bloomsbury-by-Sea idea to excess.
The church has a tablet, the epitaph upon which seems quite unique in
the contradictory character it gives to the deceased:

  UNDETH LIES YE BODY OF
  CHRISR. BROOKS ESQ. OF JAMAICA
  WHO DEPARD. THIS LIFE 4 SEPR. 1769
  AGED 38 YEARS, ONE OF YE WORST OF MEN
  FRIEND TO YE DISTRESD.
  TRULY AFFECTD & KIND HUSBAND
  TENDER PART. & A SINCR. FRIEND

The artist was unfortunate in his choice of abbreviations and
strangers are sometimes sorely puzzled; some, indeed, never guess that
"worst" has any connexion with "worthiest." The altar piece, difficult
to see on a dull day, was painted by Sir James Thornhill, a former
representative of the borough in Parliament. Sir Christopher Wren was
also for a time member for Weymouth, and portraits of both, together
with the Duke of Wellington and George III, adorn the Guildhall, a
good building at the west end of St. Mary's Street. The twin towns
were unique in their choice of members; in addition to the great
architect and famous painter, a poet--Richard Glover, author of
_Leonidas_--of no mean repute in his own day, was chosen and the
_original_ Winston Churchill, father of the great Duke of Marlborough,
also sat for Weymouth.

[Illustration: OLD WEYMOUTH.]

Within the Guildhall is to be seen a chest from the captured Armada
galleon and an old chair from Melcombe Friary, of which some poor
remnants existed in Maiden Street almost within living memory. On the
other side of the harbour is Holy Trinity Church, built in 1836. This
has another fine altar painting of the Crucifixion, thought by some
authorities to be by Vandyck.

Certain portions of old Weymouth are very picturesque, with steep
streets and comfortable old bow-windowed lodging-houses patronized
almost exclusively by the better class of seafarer; merchant captains,
pilots and the like. A few of the lanes at the upper end of the
harbour may be termed "slums" by the more fastidious, but it is only
to their outward appearance that the word is applicable. Some of these
cottages are of great age and a number have been allowed to fall to
ruin. In Melcombe Regis at the corner of Edmund and Maiden Streets may
be seen, still embedded in the wall high above the pavement, a cannon
ball shot at the unfortunate town during the Civil War, in which
unhappy period much damage was done, the contending parties
successively occupying the wretched port to the great discomfort of
the burgesses.

Radipole Lake is the name given to the large sheet of water at the
back of Melcombe, formed by the mouth of the Wey before it becomes
Weymouth Harbour. The name is actually "Reedy Pool," so that "lake" is
a tautology reminding one of a similar blunder, often made by folks
who should know better, in speaking of "Lake" Winder_mere_. Radipole
is spoilt by an ugly railway bridge and some sidings belonging to the
joint railways that lie along the eastern bank for some distance. The
water is enlivened by a large colony of swans and also in the summer
by boating parties, who prefer the quietude of the pool to the
possible discomforts of the bay. But the bay is the reason for holiday
Weymouth, not only for the beauty of its wide sweep and the remarkable
colouring of the water, but for the firm sands with occasional patches
of shingle that lie between shore and sea from the harbour mouth
almost to Redcliff Point.

The chief excursion from Weymouth is to Portland, and of course every
one must take it, but there are other and finer ways out of the town,
most of which show the "island" at its best--as an imposing mass of
rock in the middle distance.

[Illustration: PORTLAND.]

A ferry plies between the steamer quay, just beyond Alexandra Gardens
and the Nothe, the headland extremity of the peninsula upon which old
Weymouth is built. This is one of the best points from which to view
the bay. Portland is also well seen "lying on the sea like a great
crouching anumal" (Hardy). The commanding parts of the Nothe are
heavily fortified and the permanent barracks are always occupied by a
strong force. On the south are Portland Roads, usually interesting for
the number of warships congregated there. There are exceedingly
powerful defences at the ends of the breakwaters and the openings can
be protected from under-water attack by enormous booms. The first wall
took twenty-three years to build by convict labour and it explains the
origin of the prison at Portland, which was not established as some
think, because of the difficulty of escape, but solely for the
convenience of "free labour." It is said that the amount of stone used
in the oldest of the breakwaters was five million tons.

If the road is taken into Portland the village of Rodwell, at which
there is a station, is at the parting of the ways, that to the left
leading to the shore at Sandsfoot Castle, one of Henry's block houses
that played a part in the Civil War. It is not a particularly
picturesque ruin, though its purchase by the Weymouth corporation will
prevent any more of the wanton damage it has suffered in the past. The
other route goes direct to Wyke Regis, upon the hill above East Fleet
and the Chesil Bank. Wyke is the mother church of Weymouth and is a
fine Perpendicular structure in a magnificent position. Its list of
rectors starts in 1302, so that the church must be on the site of an
earlier building. The churchyard is the resting place of a large
number of shipwrecked sailors who have met their death in the dread
"Deadman's Bay," as this end of the great West Bay is termed.

The road into Portland is across a bridge built in 1839, the first to
connect the island-peninsula with the mainland. Then follows a long
two miles of monotony along the eastern end of Chesil Beach, and the
most ardent pedestrian will prefer to take to the railway at least as
far as Portland station if not to the terminus at Easton. The lonely
stretch of West Bay, in sharp contrast to the animation of the Roads,
cannot be seen unless the high bank of shingle on the right is
ascended. Portland Castle is on the nearest point of the island to the
mainland. This also was built by Henry VIII and is in good repair and
inhabited by one of the officers of the garrison.

The road ascends to Fortune's Well, as uninteresting a "capital" as
could well be imagined and for the sheer ugliness of its buildings and
church probably unsurpassed. Its only claim to notice is the
extraordinary way in which its houses are built on the hillside, one
row of doorsteps and diminutive gardens being on a level with the next
row of roofs, so steep is the lie of the land. Above the village is
the great Verne Fort occupying fifty acres on the highest point of the
island and commanding all the approaches to the Roads.

[Illustration: ON THE WAY TO CHURCH OPE.]

The route now bears right and soon reaches a high and desolate plateau
littered with the debris of many years quarrying. The only saving
grace in the scenery is the magnificent rearward view along the vast
and slightly curving Chesil Bank which stretches away to Abbotsbury
and the highlands of the beautiful West Dorset coast. The prison is
still farther ahead to the left. There would be fewer visitors to
Portland were it not for a morbid desire to see the convicts. Parties
are often made up to arrive in time to watch the men as they leave the
quarries in the late afternoon. Soldiers and warders mount guard along
the walls and the depressing sight should be shunned as much for one's
own sake as for that of the prisoners. Good taste, however, is a
virtue that usually has to give way before curiosity.

The road now descends to Easton, a place of remarkably wide streets
and a number of well-built churches, not all of the Establishment,
however. The solid old houses, consisting entirely of the local stone,
are not uninteresting and are in keeping with the dour and bleak
scenery of the island. The mistake of importing alien red bricks of a
most aggressive hue has not been made here. Those that flame from the
hill slope above Portland station only succeed in emphasizing the
general bleakness of their surroundings. At Easton clock tower a
street called "Straits" turns left and east and presently a broad road
leads downhill to the right to the gates of Pennsylvania Castle,
built, it is said, at the suggestion of George III by John Penn,
Governor of Portland, and a descendant of the great Penn in whose
honour it was named. A narrow passage by the castle wall brings us to
Rufus, or "Bow and Arrow" Castle, to which the third name of "Red
King's Castle" has been given by Hardy in _The Well Beloved_. Its
picturesque ivy-clad shell is perched on a crag at the head of Church
Hope Cove, really "Church Ope" or opening. In the grounds of
Pennsylvania Castle, shown on application, are the ruins of an ancient
church, destroyed by a landslip. The disaster brought to light the
foundations of a far older building. Near the ruins is a gravestone
with the following mysterious epitaph:

  "IN LIFE I WROATH IN STONE;
  NOW LIFE IS GONE, I KNOW
  I SHALL BE RAISED
  BY A STONE AND B
  SUCH A STONE AS GIVETH
  LIVING BREATH AND SAVETH
  THE RIGHTEOUS FROM THE
  SECOND DEATH."

Gravestones of the twelfth century, thought to be the oldest
headstones in England, were brought to light in excavations consequent
on the landslip.

The Cove will possibly be considered the only pleasant place in
Portland. It is well wooded, of perfect outline, and with a miniature
beach where shingle, rocks and greenery mingle in picturesque
confusion and a remarkably crystalline sea laves the milk-white stones
and gravel. Cave Hole, near by, is a fine sight in rough weather.

[Illustration: BOW AND ARROW CASTLE.]

The road continues to the small hamlet of Southwell and paths lead
onward amid rather tame surroundings to the flattened headland known
to the world as Portland Bill, but to all Portlanders as the "Beal."
This headland is crowned by a lighthouse which has replaced two older
and discarded buildings. In wild weather the scene at the Beal is
magnificent, in spite of the low altitude of the cliff. Pulpit Rock is
the quite appropriate name given to the curiously shaped block of
limestone which stands close to the water. The "Shambles" lightship,
about three miles from the Beal, warns the mariner off the long and
dangerous sandbank known by that ominous name on which so many good
ships have perished. Around the bank, in February, 1653, the Dutch and
English fleets under van Tromp and Blake, circled and fought for three
days until the Hollanders had lost eleven ships of war and thirty
merchantmen.

To return on foot to Portland station or the mainland, the best way is
to keep along the edge of the western cliffs for the sake of the grand
forward views. The tall tower in the centre of the island in sight
from the higher parts of the roads is Reforne, the chief parish
church, built in 1706. Near the prison is St. Peter's Church crowned
by a dome and built by convict labour. The fine mosaics in the chancel
were worked by a female convict. As a rule the domestic architecture
is as dour as the huge rock upon which the cottages are built, though
a few of the older dwellings are picturesque with their heavy stone
roofs clothed in gold and green moss, but as the quarries have grown
in size and importance most of them have been swept away. As
uncompromising as their island are the Baleares--the Slingers--who
kept invaders, Roman, Saxon and Dane, for long at a respectful
distance with the ammunition that lay close at their feet. Underground
habitations of the British period were found about forty years ago and
ancient trackways of prehistoric time were to be seen in those days
when the island was merely a great sheep-walk and before gunpowder and
chisel obliterated them. The Romans named the island Vindilis. Many
traces of their occupation have been found, including several
sarcophagi.

Insular customs and prejudices among the islanders are various and
strange. Intermarrying until quite lately was the rule, and it must be
annoying to eugenists to find that the natives are such a hardy and
vigorous race. The "Kimberlin," as all foreigners from the mainland
are called, is still looked upon with a certain amount of suspicion,
and oftener than not advances are met with a surliness that must be
understood and so forgiven. Heredity is stronger in remote and insular
districts than in those where the channels of communication are free,
but the long story of brave and self-sacrificing endeavour to save
life on their inhospitable shores more than counterbalances any lack
of manners in this ancient race, which is probably very nearly
identical with that of the old men who lived in the rock chambers
under Verne. That stain on the honour of so many dwellers on the
coast--a strange and unaccountable throwback--the crime of wrecking,
has never been charged against the Portlander.

One of the most fearful storms ever recorded on this shore was that of
November, 1824, when Weymouth esplanade was practically destroyed, and
cutters and fishing boats were tossed into the main streets, one of 95
tons being washed right over the Chesil Bank. On Portland Beach in
November, 1795, several transports, with troops for the West Indies on
board, were stranded, and two hundred and thirty-four men drowned.

Dissent is strong in the island as the several squarely plain
meeting-houses testify. The constant repetition of three names on the
stones in the burying grounds--Attwooll, Pearce and Stone--will bring
home to the stranger the insularity of the "Isle of Slingers."

The royal manor of Portland antedates the Conquest. It then included
Wyke, Weymouth and Melcombe. It is semi-independent of Dorset, being
governed by a Reeve, who is appointed by male and female crown tenants
from among themselves. The "Reeve-Staff" is an archaic method of
recording the payments of rates, and is similar to the old Exchequer
tallies, to the burning of the many years' stores of which, and
consequent conflagration, we owe our present Houses of Parliament. The
Reeve Court is still held at the old "George Inn" in Reforne. Among
the old customs to be mentioned is that of the "Church-gift," in which
the parties to a sale of property meet in the church and in the
presence of two witnesses hand over deeds and purchase money. The
transaction is then as complete as it is legal.

Inigo Jones first discovered the virtues of Portland stone and built
Whitehall with it. Sir Christopher Wren was so struck with its good
qualities that he decided to use it for the new St. Paul's and many of
the city churches and public buildings. It is now the most widely used
building stone in this country, and though it lacks the beautiful
colouring of West of England sandstone, to "Bath" stone and the rest
it is immeasurably superior in wearing qualities. Apart from the crown
quarries, where convict labour is employed, the stone is worked by a
kind of guild, very similar to that in operation near Swanage; the
employment being handed down from father to son.

To make a brief exploration of the country east of Weymouth the road
should be taken that keeps close to the shore until the coastguard
station at Furzy Cliff is reached. Here a path, much broken in places,
ascends the cliff, and continues to Osmington Mills, the usual goal of
the summer visitor in this direction. Not far away is the great fort
on Upton Cliff, built to command the Eastern approaches to Portland
Roads. Holworth Cliff was, in the twenties of the last century, the
scene of a curious outbreak of fire. The inflammable nature of the
strata caused the miniature Vesuvius to smoulder for a long time, with
dire effect upon the atmosphere for many miles around. It is possible
for the pedestrian to proceed to the beautiful coast that culminates
in the lovely region about Lulworth Cove. About eight miles from
Weymouth the path reaches one of the several Swyre Heads in Dorset.
This commands wide views over a remote and seemingly deserted
countryside. From this point one may penetrate inland by bridle-ways,
in two miles, to the village of Chaldon Herring, situated in a
pleasant combe to the North of Chaldon Down. The church is remarkable
for the new fittings, all designed by and for the most part the work
of, a former incumbent. The Saxon font and Norman chancel arch are
also of much interest.

The highroad from Wareham to Dorchester makes a wide loop southwards
from the railway at Wool and approaches Chaldon a mile away to the
north. Between the village and the turnpike is a ridge upon which are
the remarkable tumuli called "The Five Maries." From this spot is
another wide and beautiful view embracing the greater part of Dorset,
and in its absence of habitations emphasizing the loneliness of the
central portion of the county. The highroad may now be taken by
Overmoigne to Warmwell Cross on the return to Weymouth, but a better
way, covering about nine miles in all, is, for those who can sustain
the fatigue of "give and take" roads with rather indifferent surface,
to take the hill top to near Poxwell. This is a delightful village
with a very beautiful Manor House dating from 1654. The situation of
this house, backed by the smooth Down, is exquisite, and the building
reminds one of many fine old houses that stand just below the
escarpment of the Sussex Downs. On the hill beyond the village is a
small prehistoric circle of fifteen stones within a miniature wall and
ditch; from this point there is a good marine view toward Weymouth and
Portland. The direct road to these places now passes through
Osmington, rapidly becoming suburban, although three miles from the
town centre. The rebuilt church is of little interest, but its
immediate surroundings are very pleasant. In the churchyard is a small
portion of the wall of the old Manor House. An inscription on the
church wall should be noticed, it runs thus:

  MANS LIFE.
  MAN IS A GLAS. LIFE IS
  A WATER THATS WEAKLY
  WALLED ABOUT: SINNE BRING
  ES DEATH: DEATH BREAKES
  THE GLAS: SO RUNNES
  THE WATER OUT
  FINIS.

Beyond the village, a startling apparition breaks upon the view to the
right. This is the hero of Weymouth on his white Hanoverian horse.
"Although the length is 280 feet and its heighth 323 feet, yet the
likeness of the King is well preserved and the symmetry of the horse
is complete." The fact that the horse is galloping away from Weymouth
has often been remarked; this was a blunder on the part of "Mr. Wood,
bookseller, who carried the great work to a successful conclusion."

Sutton Poyntz, in a charming situation between spurs of the hills, has
been spoilt by the erection of the Weymouth Waterworks. This is the
"Overcombe" of Hardy's _Trumpet Major_. Chalbury Camp, to the west of
the village, is a prehistoric hill fort with traces of pit-dwellings
within the entrenchment. To the south-east of the camp, on a spur of
the hill and in the direction of Preston, is a remarkable and
extensive British cemetery, from which numbers of cinerary urns and
other relics have been excavated. It is to be hoped that this sort of
curiosity has now exhausted itself and that these resting places of
dead and gone chieftains will be allowed to remain unmolested in the
peaceful solitudes which their mourners chose for them.

Preston is a little over two miles from Weymouth. There are still a
number of old thatched cottages here and a Perpendicular church with a
Norman door. The visitor will notice the ancient font; also a
hagioscope and holy water stoup. At the foot of the village is an old
one-arched bridge over the brook that comes down from Sutton Poyntz.
It is said to be of Norman date and was even supposed at one time to
be Roman. Not far from the church is a Roman villa with a fine
pavement, unearthed in 1842. Breston is supposed to be on or near the
site of Clavinium.

The monotonous line of the Chesil Beach that has been seen from
Portland is, in its extreme length, from Chesil Bay under Fortune's
Well to near Burton Bradstock, where it may be said to end, more than
eighteen miles long and the greatest stretch of pebbles in Europe,
ranging from large and irregular lumps at Portland to small polished
stones at the western extremity. It is said that a local seafarer
landing on the beach in a fog can tell his whereabouts to a nicety by
handling the shingle. For about half the distance, that is to
Abbotsbury, the Fleet makes a brackish ditch on the landward side.
Behind this barrier is a country of low hills and quite
out-of-the-world hamlets seldom visited or visiting. Chickerell, the
nearest of them to Weymouth, has a manufactory of stoneware and a
golf-course, so that it is not so quiet and remote as Fleet, Langton
Herring and the rest, which depend almost entirely on the harvest of
the sea for a livelihood.

The first place of any importance west of Weymouth is Abbotsbury. The
best method of getting there is by the branch railway from Upwey
Junction, which for some occult reason is at Broadwey, leaving Upwey
itself a mile away to the north. Here is the "Wishing Well" beloved of
the younger members of the char-a-banc fraternity who come in crowds
from Weymouth to drink part of a glass of very ordinary water and
throw the remainder, at the instance of the well keeper, over the left
shoulder. As far as the writer is aware there is no particular history
attached to this spring. The arch and seats have been erected for the
benefit of the visitor. But there are less harmless ways of spending a
summer afternoon, and for those who have no "wish" to make, a visit to
the sixteenth-century church will be appreciated. Here is some ancient
woodwork, a pulpit dating from the early seventeenth century, and
three carved figures of the apostles in quaint medieval costumes.

Nottington, a mile to the south of Broadwey, was once a spa, first
resorted to as far back as the reign of George I. The well house,
visited by the third George, is now a residence and the pleasant
surroundings are made picturesque by an old water mill.

The railway penetrates a lonely stretch of country with one wayside
"halt" on the way to Portesham (indifferently "Porsham" or "Posam").
This is a convenient station from which to visit the Blackdown
district. The large village was the birthplace of Admiral Hardy, whose
ugly monument upon the hill does not improve the landscape. The Norman
and Early English church has a fine tower with a bell turret. A good
Jacobean pulpit and panelled ceiling are among the details of the
interior. The brook that runs down the street gives a pleasant
individuality to a village otherwise uninteresting.

[Illustration: PORTESHAM.]

Blackdown is 789 feet above the sea, and the Hardy column, 70 feet
high, is a conspicuous landmark over a wide circumference. This hill
and its outliers are a museum of stone circles and dolmens, the best
known of which is the "Helstone," or Stone of the Dead. On Ridge Hill,
north of Abbotsbury, are the five large stones, almost lost in a
tangle of nettles and undergrowth, called the "Grey Mare and her
Colts."

Abbotsbury is famous for its Abbey, St. Catherine's Chantry, and the
Swannery. The latter is probably the most attractive of the sights to
the majority of visitors, and it is certainly worth seeing.
Application must be made, during the afternoon as a rule, to the
keeper. On a board near the gate is a record of the great sea flood
during the storm of 1824, when the country around was inundated to a
depth of 22 feet. Besides the sight of the long lines of white swans
on the Fleet, there is an interesting decoy for trapping wild duck,
the procedure being explained by the courteous attendant. The history
of the Swannery takes us back to Elizabeth's days, when one John
Strangeways was in possession not only of the swans but of the abbey
and much else besides. It is still in the possession of his
descendant, Lord Ilchester, to whom the new Abbotsbury Castle belongs.
This was destroyed by fire about nine years ago and has since been
rebuilt. The original "Castle" is a small prehistoric entrenchment
west of St. Catherine's Chapel. The grounds of Lord Ilchester's
mansion are very fine, the sub-tropical garden being of especial
interest, and contains many rare plants and trees. Admission is
granted at certain times, and advantage should, if possible, be taken
of the permission.

The sixteenth-century church with its sturdy embattled tower is
interesting. In the doorway will be noticed the lid of a sarcophagus
that has the presentment of an abbot carved upon it, but nothing to
show who the one-time occupant was. Some old stained glass still
remains in the windows and an archaic carving of the Trinity may be
seen upon the wall of the tower. It is conjectured that this was
removed from the abbey at the time of the Dissolution.

A skirmish took place within the church during the Civil War and marks
are pointed out in the Jacobean woodwork of the pulpit as those of
bullets fired during the fight. Doubts have been thrown upon this, and
the damage placed to the account of amateur decorators at the time of
harvest festivals! The writer prefers the more romantic explanation,
but is open to correction. The sounding board over the pulpit is
contemporary with the base and is a fine piece of work.

Close to the churchyard is Abbey Farm. Portions of the buildings
include remains of the once famous Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter,
founded about 1040 by Orc, a one-time steward of Canute and afterwards
in the service of Edward the Confessor. At the Dissolution the abbey
came into the possession of an ancestor of the Strangeways who owned
the Swannery when that first became known to history. The abbey, like
many others, is said to have been built on the site of an older
religious house, dating from very ancient days. There is a gatehouse,
with an arch of later date, remaining, besides the fragmentary
portions in the farmhouse. Many houses in Abbotsbury have pieces of
ecclesiastical stonework or carving built into their heavy walls, and
arched windows seem to have been transplanted bodily from the
dismantled abbey to the dwellings in the village.

By far the most notable building in Abbotsbury is the
fifteenth-century Monastic Barn, a fine structure 276 feet long. Its
plan is as perfect as its simple but imposing architecture; the
ecclesiastical appearance is heightened by the lancet windows between
the heavy buttresses and the slight transeptal extensions that give
the structure the form of a cross. The abbey fish pond, fed by the
stream that runs through Portesham street, till remains below the
tithe barn, and though its farmyard surroundings are very different to
those it had when the brethren gathered around the banks on Thursdays
of old, it is still, with its island centre of old trees, a
picturesque finish to the scene.

St. Catherine's Chapel on the hill above the sea is an erection in a
situation similar to that of the far older building on St. Aldhelm's
Head. Its appearance, however, is quite different, and it is
Perpendicular in style. The turret at the north-west corner, the two
porches and clerestory, are very evidently of another age to the heavy
Norman of St. Aldhelm's, though St. Catherine is solidly built and has
weathered many a fierce storm without suffering any apparent damage.
The walls are nearly four feet thick and the buttresses are sturdy in
proportion. The fine stone roof is greatly admired and is a wonderful
piece of work. The turret was probably used as a beacon, and the
chapel seems to be identical in everything but style with St.
Aldhelm's. On the east side of the south door are three curious
depressions in the stonework said to be "wishing holes," one for the
knee and the higher ones for the hands.

[Illustration: ST. CATHERINE'S CHAPEL.]

The views of the Dorset seaboard during the climb to this exposed
eminence are as fine as one would imagine. The contrast between the
hilly country to the west and the long sweep of the Chesil Beach
backed by the "fleets" is very striking. From our vantage point the
stretch of coast immediately to the west is shown to be quite bare of
hamlet or settlement of any kind beyond a few isolated houses.
Puncknoll, which we shall reach in the next chapter, is the nearest
village, fully four miles from St. Catherine's and nearly half that
distance from the sea.

Winding lanes, solitary also of human kind and delightful to wander in
for the sake of their treasures of flower and insect life, meander
across White Hill and its sister ridge. One of them passes within a
short distance of the "Grey Mare" and her children and, farther on,
another group of mysterious stones. This way would take us to Little
Bredy, a village which, of no interest in itself, has been made a
scene of much beauty by the artificial widening of the little Bride
just below its source as it passes through the grounds of Bridehead.
The last resting places of our Neolithic ancestors are scattered in
great numbers about the heights that enfold the narrow cleft of the
infant stream.

[Illustration: THE CHARMOUTH ROAD.]




CHAPTER VI

WEST DORSET


The branch line of the Great Western from Maiden Newton makes a wide
detour northwards to reach Bridport, passing through a very charming
and unspoilt countryside where old "Do'set" ways still hold out
against that drab uniformity that seems to be creeping over rustic
England. In this out-of-the-way region are small old stone-built
villages lying forgotten between the folds of the hills and rejoicing
in names that makes one want to visit them if only for the sake of
their quaint nomenclature.

The first station is laconically called Toller. It serves the two
villages Toller Fratrum and Toller Porcorum. The Toller of the
Brothers is charmingly situated on the side of a low hill. It once
belonged to the Knights of St. John, whence its name. The Early
English church has an old font sculptured with the heads of what may
be saints, a possible relic of Saxon times; some antiquaries have
declared the work to be British of the later days of the Roman
occupation. In the church wall is a curious tablet representing Mary
Magdalene wiping our Lord's feet. The manor house was built by Sir
James Fulford, the great opponent of the Puritans. It is a delightful
house in an equally delightful situation and the beautiful tints of
the old walls will be admired as well as the admirable setting of the
mansion.

Toller of the Pigs may only mean the place where hogs were kept in
herds. The village is of little interest and has not the fine site of
the other. In the church is a font that is supposed to have once
served as a Roman altar.

Over the hills to the south-east is the little village of Wynford
Eagle, so called from the fact that it once belonged to that powerful
Norman family, the de Aquila, who held Pevensey Castle in Sussex after
the Conquest. The church is an exceedingly poor erection of 1842, but
preserves a Norman tympanum from the former building. The carving
represents two griffins or wyverns facing each other in an attitude of
defiance. Wynford Manor House is a beautiful building of the early
seventeenth century. Under the stone eagle that surmounts the centre
gable is the date 1630. This was the home of the great Thomas
Sydenham, the founder of modern medicine. He was wounded while serving
in the army of the Parliament at the battle of Worcester and, probably
in consequence of the ill success that followed the bungling treatment
he received, determined to practise himself and adopt rational methods
for the treatment of disease and injury. He died in London in 1689,
aged 65, and lies in the churchyard of St. James', Piccadilly.

Three miles or more to the north of Toller are the villages of Wraxall
and Rampisham (pronounced "Ramsom"). The former has near it two
interesting old houses--the Elizabethan manor of Wraxall and an old
farmhouse that was a manor in the reign of King John, though the
present building was not erected until 1620. Rampisham is in a lovely
situation at the bottom of a wooded and watered dingle. Here is
another picturesque old mansion and an interesting stone cross in the
churchyard with a platform for open-air preaching. The base of the
cross is carved with representations of the martyrdoms of St. Stephen,
St. Edmund and St. Thomas a Becket, though they are so worn that one
must accept the identification on trust. Another carving is of St.
Peter and the cock, with figures of monks, knights and fools. Within
the church are some brasses worthy of inspection.

Hidden away among the hills of Western Dorset is Beaminster, a little
town so placed that it may be visited from several different railway
stations without much to choose in mileage or roads; possibly
Crewkerne on the main line of the South Western Railway is that most
used. It is about six miles from Toller, Bridport and Crewkerne, and
therefore as quiet as one would expect it to be. But "Bemmister" is
not by any means a dead town and is, for all its want of direct
railway transport, of some importance as the centre of a rich dairy
country. The situation at the bottom of a wooded amphitheatre is
delightful:--

  "Sweet Be'mi'ster that bist abound
  By green and woody hills all round,
  Wi' hedges reachen up between
  A thousan' vields o' zummer green
  Where clems lofty heads do show
  Their sheades vor hay-meakers below
  An' wild hedge-flowers do charm the souls
  O' maidens in their evenin' strolls."

  (Barnes.)

The Perpendicular church has a remarkably handsome tower of
yellow-brown stone with sculptured figures showing the chief events in
the life of our Lord. Part of the interior is Early English. Monuments
of the Strodes, a great local family, will be noticed, and also some
good stained glass. The church, and the old "Mort House" attached to
it, were fortunately spared in the several disasters by fire that, as
in Dorchester, have removed almost everything ancient. The present
smart and modern appearance of the main street is the consequence of
the last conflagration in 1781, though this was not so serious as two
others in the seventeenth century. The first of these started during
the fighting between the forces of King and Parliament.

[Illustration: BEAMINSTER.]

Charles II stayed at the "George" in his groom's disguise during the
flight after Worcester. This inn was rebuilt during the last century.
About a quarter of a mile out of the town to the south-west is the
Tudor Manor of the Strodes, standing in Parnham Park. Certain portions
of the house are older than the sixteenth century, and a window bears
the name and date "John Strode 1449." Mapperton House is another fine
old mansion. It stands two miles to the southeast in a secluded dingle
lined with closely-growing trees and the beautiful colour of the early
sixteenth-century stone building is a delightful contrast to the
greenery around. The finely designed entrance gateway is surmounted by
two eagles in the act of rising from the posts. The old house forms
two sides of a picturesque quadrangle, Mapperton church being on the
third.

Three miles north-westwards of Beaminster is Broadwindsor, amidst
scenery pleasant enough from the farmers' point of view, for these are
"fat lands," but more tame than that seen between Toller and the
former town. Not far away, however, are the finely-shaped summits of
Pilsdon Pen and Lewsdon Hill, nearly of the same height and remarkable
alike from certain aspects. "Pilsdon Pen," says an old writer, "is no
less than 909 feet above the sea, and therefore 91 feet short of being
a mountain!" Who gave the 1,000 feet contour line that arbitrary
nomenclature is unknown. Usually in Britain double that height is
taken as the limit, but it is perhaps more fair to allow each
countryside its own standard. Pilsdon is much more imposing than some
of the "lumps" that are double its altitude on the table-land of
central Wales, where the bed of the Upper Wye is not many feet below
the height of the "Pen." That, by the way, is a Celtic suffix; it
would be interesting to know if the word has continued in constant use
since British times.

The chief claim to fame on the part of Broadwindsor is that the famous
Thomas Fuller, witty writer and wise divine, was its royalist parson
and that he preached from the old Jacobean pulpit in the parish
church. This building has been well restored by the son of a former
vicar. The usual Perpendicular tower surmounts a medley of Norman and
Early English in the body of the church.

But this is a long way from the Tollers, and the road must now be
taken by Mapperton, back to the train that provokingly burrows through
cuttings, with an occasional flying glimpse of lovely wooded dell and
tree-crowned hill, on the way to Powerstock or, according to
Dorset--"_Poor_ stock."

The well-restored church here is interesting. There is a very early
Norman arch in the chancel with beautifully sculptured pillars and
capitals. Upon the hill top above the village is the site of
Powerstock Castle that was built within the ramparts of an ancient
earthwork by King Athelstan. A short distance to the south-east is
Eggardon Hill (820 feet) with a great series of entrenchments upon its
summit which deserve to rank with those of Maiden Castle and Old
Sarum. The fortifications have a strong resemblance, on a smaller
scale, to the first-named stronghold.

[Illustration: EGGARDON HILL.]

Our present goal--Bridport--is one of those pleasant old English
towns, cheerful and bright, and to outward seeming entirely
prosperous, which make the average Londoner who has to earn his living
long for the chance to try his fortune there. For the traveller on his
first visit a great surprise is in store; with a name such as this one
pictures in advance a place of quays on a sluggish river, fairly wide
and very muddy, opening to the sea, with the conventional loungers,
tarry and fishy scents and a fringe of lodging houses. But nothing
could be farther from the truth. Here is no evidence of the sea at
all, and although West Bay, the real "quay" of Bridport, is less than
two miles from the High Street, the town seems to be surrounded by
hills and to be solely concerned with the neighbouring farmers and
their interests. The only direct relation with marine affairs is the
important manufacture of fishing nets and "lines" for which Bridport
has been noted for many years. To say "he was stabbed with a Bridport
Dagger" was a polite way of breaking the news that your acquaintance
had been hung! Leland was quite deceived by this old joke, probably
ancient in his time--the sixteenth century, and refers to the dagger
industry in perfect good faith. The arms of the town are three
spinning hooks behind a castle; this proves that the industry is no
modern one and until lately hemp was one of the staple products of the
country immediately around.

Ten pounds only were spent on the defences during the Civil War and
the inhabitants seem to have made as half-hearted an attempt in
opposing the Royalist besiegers as in the preliminaries of warfare.
Charles II arrived here in his flight towards Sussex and rested at the
George Inn, but the identity of this hostelry seems in doubt. There is
a "George" at West Bay that claims the honour of sheltering Charles.
The one in High Street has been pulled down save a small portion
incorporated in a chemist's shop. When leaving, the party of fugitive
Royalists turned northwards down Lee Lane, their pursuers continuing
along the Dorchester road. A memorial stone by the wayside records the
escape of the King, who was in his groom's dress with Mrs. Coningsby
riding pillion behind.

[Illustration: BRIDPORT.]

A skirmish in which the Duke of Monmouth's officers, with the
exception of Colonel Wade, emerged with but small credit to themselves
took place on the morning of June 14, 1685. After marching through the
night from Lyme the unfortunate yokels who made up the Duke's "army"
displayed much coolness and bravery in the fight recorded on a
memorial in the church to "Edward Coker Gent, second son of Robert
Coker of Mapowder, Slayne at the Bull Inn at Bridpurt, June the 14th
An. Do. 1685, by one Venner, who was a Officer under the late Duke of
Monmouth in that Rebellion."

Bridport is first known to history in the year preceding the Conquest
when it had a priory (St. Leonard's) and a mint. These have entirely
disappeared and almost all the medieval structures except the
church--a good Perpendicular building with Early English transepts.
The only monument of interest, except that of Edward Coker, is a
cross-legged effigy of one of the de Chideocks in the north transept.
The handsome pulpit and reredos are modern. An old house in South
Street called "Dungeness" was contemporary with the Priory, and near
by is a fine old Tudor house, once the Castle Inn, but now used as a
club.

The picturesque Town Hall with its clock turret is the best known
feature of Bridport and lends quite a distinctive air to the broad
High Street which has the vista of its west end filled by the
cone-shaped Colmers Hill. South Street leads to West Bay, at the mouth
of the diminutive Bride or Brit. The little town of late, mainly
through the exertions of the Great Western Railway, has made an
attempt to transform itself into a watering place. The coast is
attractive and possibly at some future date the railway and the local
landowner will have their way, but at present West Bay is in a state
of transition. Many who knew the primitive aspect of the tiny port
before the paved front and its shelters came to keep company with the
hideous row of lodging houses that stand parallel with the Bride, will
deplore the change, or hope for the time when that change will be
complete and nothing is left to remind them of the lost
picturesqueness of Bridport Quay.

Burton Cliff is the name of the odd rounded hill on the east that has
been cut neatly in half by the slow wearing of the waves. On the other
side of it is Burton Bradstock, nearly two miles from West Bay
station. This place is unremarkable in itself but must be mentioned
for its beautiful and picturesque situation. It has been found by the
holiday-maker, and houses of the red brick villa type are likely to
increase in number unless the local builder can be prevailed upon to
use local material. The restored cruciform church, Perpendicular in
style, has a modern addition in its clock, a relic of the old building
of Christ's Hospital in the City of London.

[Illustration: PUNCKNOLL.]

Away to the north beyond the small village of Skipton Gorge, is
Skipton Beacon, a hill with a striking and imposing outline. Equally
fine, though on a much smaller scale, is Puncknoll, away to the east
of Swyre. The hill or knoll is usually called Puncknoll Knob by the
country people and, very absurdly, Puncknoll Knoll by some of the
guide books. It commands a perfectly gorgeous view of the sea and
shore as far as Abbotsbury and over West Bay to the hills around Lyme.
The village that takes its name from the hill is behind it to the
north. In the small church is an old Norman font covered with carvings
of interlaced ropes and heads; also some memorials of a local family,
the Napiers, one of which is a refreshing change in regard to its
inscription, which runs:

  READER, WHEN THOU HAST DONE ALL THAT THOU
  CANST, THOU ART BUT AN UNPROFITABLE SERVANT.
  THEREFORE THIS MARBLE AFFORDS NO ROOM FOR
  FULSOME FLATTERY OR VAINE PRAISE.

  SR. R.N. (Robert Napier).

Behind the church is a beautiful old manor house, and the village has
some delightful examples of the unspoilt and typical thatched stone
cottage of Dorset.

A lane to the north leads down to the valley of the Bride and the
direct road back to West Bay. A mile to the east is Litton Cheyney
and, a mile farther, Long Bredy up among the hills where the Bride
rises. Turning west from the lane end, the road descends the valley
toward the sea amid beautiful surroundings, and reaches Burton
Bradstock in a short three miles.

Bradpole village is a mile north of Bridport Town station. The rebuilt
church is hardly worth the short journey, but mention must be made of
the monument in the churchyard wall to W.E. Forster, who was born in a
cottage not far away. Another tablet commemorates the flight of
Charles II through the village. Loders, a mile farther, and Uploders,
a continuation on the other side of the Dorchester railway, are worth
a visit. The former was once the seat of a Benedictine priory founded
in the reign of Henry I. The church has a hagioscope and a square
Norman font. A doorway and window of this period in the chancel were
uncovered during restorations. The winding stairway to the chamber
over the porch will be noticed and a representation of the Crucifixion
on the lower stage of the tower.

The road from Bridport to Lyme Regis has been described as the best
and the worst in the south of England. For the occupant of a touring
car the way is a succession of changing views as charming as they are
varied. For a loaded horse the eight and a half miles of switchback
must be a long-drawn-out agony in which the descent of the last hill
into Lyme is worse than the terrible pull to its summit. The writer
knows this road only from the point of view--and pace--of the
pedestrian, and he knows of few more lovely or more tiring. Fanny
Burney described the drive as "the most beautiful to which my
wandering feet have sent me; diversified with all that can compose
luxuriant scenery, and with just as much approach to the sublime as is
in the province of unterrific beauty." The long ascent of "Chiddick"
Hill commences soon after leaving the mill pool just outside Bridport.
To the right, a turning leads to Symondsbury, where there is an old
cruciform church with a central tower and, in the chancel, the tomb of
Bishop Gulston, uncle of Addison. Away to the left and near the sea is
Eype in a delightful combe that ends in the sea at Eype Mouth. On Eype
Down is an ancient earthwork of much interest to archaeologists. It
was from this hill that Powell, the aeronaut, was blown out to sea in
a balloon nearly forty years ago.

[Illustration: CHIDEOCK.]

After a long wind round the side of Chideock Hill the high road
descends towards the village of that name. A stile on the left gives
access to a footpath to the "Seatown" of Chideock. The pedestrian
should enter the meadow to rest and admire the perfect view down the
V-shaped combe to the sea. Away to the left Thurncombe Beacon lifts
its dark summit. The answering height to the right is lordly Golden
Cap. Its well-named crown is more than 600 feet above the waves that
dash against Wear Cliffs below.

Chideock is a clean pleasant street of houses most of whose occupants
let lodgings or cater for the passing traveller in one way or another.
The Perpendicular church was restored in a rather drastic manner about
forty years ago; this brought to light a crude wall painting. At the
east end of the south aisle will be seen a black marble effigy of a
knight in plate armour. This is Sir John Arundell, an ancestor of the
Lords Arundell of Wardour in Wiltshire. The de Chideocks were the
original owners of the countryside and in a field beyond the church to
the north-east is the moat which once surrounded their castle,
dismantled soon after the close of the Civil War as a punishment for
the annoyance it caused the army of the Parliament in interfering with
the communications of Lyme. It changed hands several times during the
war, but while held by the Royalists it seriously compromised their
opponents on the west.

The Manor House is a seat of the Welds, a Roman Catholic family. In
the grounds of the manor is a very ornate church belonging to that
communion and a cemetery that has an interesting chapel, the walls of
which are covered with paintings.

The scenery is now becoming Devonian in character, of the softly
pleasant aspect of the south, lines of hill occasionally rising into
picturesque hummocky outline; wide troughed valleys richly timbered,
with mellow old farmhouses here and there about their slopes,
connected by deep narrow flowery lanes extraordinarily erratic in
direction, or want of it. The cider country is still far off, however;
for Dorset, though the soil and climate are well suited to it, has not
yet looked upon the culture of the apple as an important item in
farming, and orchards of any sort are few and small in size.

The Lyme road climbs up from Chideock round the steep face of Langdon
Hill and reaches its summit level, over 400 feet, about a mile out of
the village. In front, to the right, is Hardown Hill and to the left,
Chardown. Out of sight for the present, but soon to come into view
again, is Golden Cap which may be reached by one of the roundabout
lanes going seawards, with a short stiff climb at the last. The view
from the summit is as glorious as it is wide. In clear weather the
extremities of the great bay--Portland Bill and Start Point--can be
seen, and most of the beautiful coast between them. Passing between
Hardown and Chardown the road drops to Morecombelake, an
uninteresting village in a charming situation. The lane to the right
goes down to Whitchurch Canonicorum in Marshwood Vale. Here is the
interesting church of St. Wita (or St. Candida), Virgin and Martyr.
The chancel, part of the nave and south door are Transitional, about
1175, the transepts being built about twenty-five and the tower two
hundred years later. The chief interest in the church is the so-called
shrine of St. Candida opened twenty years ago during repairs to the
church wall. Within a stone coffin was found a leaden casket
containing a number of bones declared to be those of a small sized
female. Upon one side of the box was the following inscription:

  Hic . Reqesct . Relique . sce . Wite

The bones were placed in a new reliquary and again deposited within
the restored shrine. The three openings in the front were made to
receive the offerings of the faithful and pilgrims from afar. There
are several monuments here to the De Mandevilles; John Wadham,
Recorder of Lyme (1584); Sir John Geoffry of Catherstone (1611) and
others. The terrific name of this small village simply indicates that
the canons of Salisbury and Wells claimed the parish tithes. Across
the valley from Whitchurch rise the outstanding eminences--"Coney"
(Conic or King's) Castle and Lambert's Castle, the latter crowned with
a fine clump of trees. The name of the valley seems to have deceived
some old writers into thinking it a region of chills and agues and of
cold sour soil. It has always been famous for its oaks, but perhaps it
may claim a greater fame as a minor Wordsworth country, for on the
north side of the vale is Racedown Farm, the home of the poet for
about two years. Dorothy Wordsworth said it was "the place dearest to
my recollections" and "the first home I had." Perhaps the most
striking view in this part of Dorset is that one from the Axminster
road at the point on Raymond's Hill called Red Cross. At dusk, when
the intervening fields and woods are shrouded in gloom, Golden Cap
takes on a startling shape against the evening sky. The huge truncated
cone and the separate bays on either side--mostly differing entirely
in colour--make the centre of as fine a prospect as any in the south.
This road, Roman for the most part, has the rare feature of a tunnel,
cut to make the steep ascent to Hunter's Lodge Inn practicable for
modern traffic.

[Illustration: CHARMOUTH.]

The Marshwood Vale ends at Charmouth, to which the road from
Morecombelake now descends round the northern slopes of Stonebarrow;
on the far side of this hill is the derelict parish of Stanton St.
Gabriel, with a ruined church and two or three cottages in a superb
situation under the shadow of Golden Cap. Charmouth is one long street
running up the hill on the Lyme side of the Char. It is one of those
pleasantly drowsy places that even the advent of the public motor from
Bridport fails to excite. That its restfulness is appreciated is
evidenced by the number of houses that let apartments. The distance
from the railway at Lyme and Bridport will effectually bar any
"development." Jane Austen's description still holds good:--"Its high
grounds and extensive sweeps of country, and, still more, its sweet
retired bay, backed by dark cliffs where fragments of low rock among
the sands make it the happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide;
for sitting in unwearied contemplation." (_Persuasion._)

The picturesque old George Inn on the right-hand side of the street is
sometimes pointed out as the lodging occupied by Charles II, but this
was at the "Queen's Arms" nearly opposite; it is now a Congregational
Manse. "Everything was in readiness for the departure at midnight, but
Captain Limbry, master of the ship, came ashore just after dark for
his luggage. Questioned by his wife he foolishly admitted that he was
concerned with the safety of a dark gentleman from Worcester. Without
more ado the good woman pushed him into his bedroom and turned the key
upon him." Charles and his friends waited in vain at the inn, the
"dark gentleman" as insouciant as ever, the rest of the party greatly
perturbed. Urgently advised by Ellesdon (organizer of the escape) to
wait no longer, the party took to the Bridport road, and so in the
early morning the fugitives rode up and down the hills these pages
have just traversed, in an endeavour to find sanctuary in a ship, the
only inviolable one, that they were not to gain until far distant
Brighthelmstone was reached.

[Illustration: LYME FROM THE CHARMOUTH FOOTPATH.]

Charmouth Church is as ugly as one would expect of an erection of the
last year of the Sailor King. Within are preserved some of the
monuments from the old building. It is said that a Roman station was
established somewhere on this hill, and that after fierce fighting in
the bay the Danes captured and held the Char valley for some years. It
is possible that many of the country people have a strain of the wild
northern blood in their veins. Close to the church and the Coach and
Horses Hotel, the unpretentious but comfortable hostelry on the left
of the street, a lane leads to the coastguard station and beach.

The shore can be followed to Lyme, but only at low water. By far the
best way is to keep to the high road, passing through the cutting made
in the hill for the better passage of the coaches, and named by the
more proper "Windy Gap," and by the rest "The Devil's Bellows." In a
storm the wayfarer is likely to be blown back to Charmouth. At the top
of the hill a path turns leftwards to the open cliff and affords the
traveller the most exquisite views of Lyme, the bay and the
surrounding hills. This path eventually rejoins the main road near the
cemetery. Within is a fine Celtic cross erected to commemorate those
who perished in the _Formidable_ in 1915.

It is only during the last twenty years that Lyme has found itself as
a popular resort. It must have been a tragic business to the select
few, that opening of the light railway from Axminster in 1903. Before
that time enthusiasts, among them Whistler and several other famous
artists, braved the six miles of rough road from the nearest station
to reach the picturesque old town on the Buddle, and possibly formed
some sort of league to keep their "find" dark. Happily the place is
still unspoilt and the hand of Jerry has not descended. The visitor
who arrives by the South Western after a delightful trip, all too
short, on the miniature Alpine line that burrows through hillsides and
swerves across valleys, over the last by a highly spectacular viaduct,
is agreeably surprised to find himself at a terminus while apparently
still in the wilds. If the little motor train went down to the seaside
it could never pant back again. But the eye is unoffended in the long
walk down the steep road to the shore, and in these days when the
canons of good taste seem to have some weight with property owners and
builders it is probable that the growth of Lyme will be effected with
circumspection. As it is, the snug little town is almost unaltered,
except for a slight and necessary clearance at the river mouth, from
the days when Louisa Musgrove lived at Captain Harville's house. Every
one who stays at Lyme must buy or borrow a copy of _Persuasion_. It is
wonderful how an old-fashioned tale such as this novel of Jane Austen
will delight and interest the most blase of readers when he or she can
identify the scenes depicted in its pages, and how the early Victorian
atmosphere of the book will seem to descend on the quaint streets that
have altered so little since it was written.

Lyme seems to have started life in the salt boiling line, and to
distinguish it from Uplyme was called Netherlyme-supra-mare. The first
patrons of the industry were the monks of Sherborne Abbey. This was in
the days of Cynwulf of Wessex. Five hundred years later it became
"Regis," a haven and chartered borough under Edward I, and from this
far-off time dates the unique stone pier called the "Cobb," restored
many times since. The town suffered much from French attacks and
revenged itself by sending ships to harry the commerce of the then
arch-enemy. The Cobb had been allowed to fall into such a state of
disrepair in the reign of Elizabeth that that irate lady refused to
renew the borough charter until the townsfolk made good the damage.
This was done and Lyme soon redoubled its importance in the eyes of
the Government, so much so that on the outbreak of the Civil War it
was looked upon as an almost indispensable possession both by
Royalists and Parliamentarians. Its vigorous resistance to the King is
one of the outstanding incidents of the war; Blake, afterwards
Admiral, conducting the marine defence. The beseiged were successful
after two months of the most desperate fighting, and the women of Lyme
proved Amazonian in the help they gave their menfolk. In 1672 the
Dutch gave the English fleet a trouncing within sight of the town.

The most famous event connected with the Cobb was the landing of
Monmouth thereon in June, 1685. The ill-starred prince knelt on the
stones and thanked God "for having preserved the friends of liberty
and pure religion from the perils of the sea." Not many days passed
before some enthusiasts from Lyme who had followed the gallant lad
were brought back to the Cobb and hanged there in sight of their
neighbours. John Tutchin, author of the _Observator_, was sentenced by
Jeffreys to be whipped through Lyme and every other town in the
county, to be imprisoned seven years, and pay a fine of one hundred
marks. He petitioned to be hanged, and was pardoned. But these poor
men were avenged three years later when William of Orange landed a
number of his troops on the same spot. A few days afterwards that
narrow, dull, conscientious, well-intentioned and wholly religious
Roman Catholic, James II, fled from his throne and country.

During early Hanoverian days Lyme seems to have languished.
Privateering; the trade with France and Spain; the industries of the
town, weaving and lace making; all dwindled to vanishing point. Half
the houses became ruinous, and the population had decreased to an
alarming extent when that saviour of half the old coastwise towns of
England--the valetudinarian--came upon the scene about 1770, and by
the commencement of the Victorian era Lyme had embarked upon a time of
modest but steady prosperity which still continues. Its fine air and
superb situation would, if the town were fifty miles nearer London,
result in "developments" that would soon ruin its character.

[Illustration: LYME BAY.]

Lyme church is Perpendicular, though the tower is far older, the
vestry room being part of the ancient church. Of much interest is the
tapestry on the west wall representing the marriage of Henry VII. On
the front of the gallery (1611) and on the Jacobean pulpit (1613) are
inscriptions setting forth the names of their donors and the dates.
The rood-screen is modern but the old double lectern is interesting;
chained to it is a "Breeches" Bible and Erasmus' "Paraphrase." One of
the stained-glass windows is a memorial to that celebrated daughter of
Lyme--Mary Anning, who with the enthusiasm of a greybeard hammered and
chipped at the cliffs around in a most ungirlish style, but to such
good purpose that she unearthed the Ichthyosaurus that now astonishes
the visitor to the Natural History Museum in Kensington.

In Pound Street is an auxiliary church that in 1884 was converted out
of a stable into the present beautiful and uncommon little building.
Of particular merit are the fine tapestries and the altarpiece of
Venetian mosaics. In Church Street stands an old house once belonging
to the Tuckers, merchants and benefactors of the town. It is now named
Tudor House and is really of that date, although its exterior hardly
looks its age. The Assembly Rooms at the end of Broad Street mark the
time when Lyme was starting upon a career of fashion. In the new Town
Hall erected on the old site to commemorate the first Victorian
Jubilee is an ancient door from the men's prison, and a grating from
the women's quarters, let into the wall; in the Old Market stands an
ancient fire engine and the stocks, removed here from the church. Near
by is the "Old Fossil Shop" devoted to the sale of fossils and fish,
as quaint a combination of trades as one could imagine. The old houses
around the Buddle are of dark and mysterious aspect. This part of the
town has always had a romantic air, here and there slightly flavoured
with squalor, though of late, especially about the course of the
river, improvements have effected a change. Curious customs of great
antiquity such as the Saxon Court Leet and the Court of Hustings, a
copy of a London civic institution dating from the first charter of
the town, have continued to present times.

The other famous girl of Lyme, besides Mary Anning, was Jane Austen,
who lived with her parents at Bay Cottage, the white house near the
harbour. Here it is supposed that _Persuasion_ was written. Captain
Coram, the bluff seaman and tender-hearted philanthropist who spent
his small fortune on the Foundling Hospital, and. Sir George Somers,
who colonized the Bermudas, were both local worthies. The latter died
in the West Indies, but his body was brought home to Dorset and buried
at Whitchurch Canonicorum.

The beautiful coast west of the Cobb is described in the next chapter,
but mention must be made of the Landslip Walk. Several falls of the
cliff, here resting on a precarious foundation of sand and blue has
clay, have from time to time occurred and have produced this wide
tract of broken and tumbled ground, only to be equalled in its
picturesque confusion by the better known Undercliff in the Isle of
Wight. The greatest "slip" took place in 1839 on Christmas Day and the
country people were awakened during the night by loud and continuous
noises like the rumble of distant artillery. It was found the next
morning that a chasm nearly a mile long and about 400 feet wide had
been formed parallel with the shore. This subsidence continued for a
couple of days and took with it, without loss of life, several
cottages. The wildly erratic disorder has been covered with a lovely
profusion of flowers and plants in the sheltered valleys and ravines
of this miniature Switzerland, and the whole undercliff as far as
Rousdon and beyond is a wonderland of beauty.

Uplyme, three-quarters of a mile beyond the station, is in Devon. This
may have been one of the pleas put forward a few years ago when
strenuous efforts were made to get Lyme Regis transferred to the
western county. The pretty village is about a mile and a half from
Lyme Esplanade on the Axminster road. The church has been judiciously
restored, but there is nothing of great interest to be seen apart from
the old yew tree in the churchyard. Not far away is a beautiful old
manor house called the "Court Hall"; it is now a farm house. The fine
porch and queer old chimneys make a picture worth turning aside to
see.

[Illustration: OTTERY CHURCH.]




CHAPTER VII

EAST DEVON


To go from one Dorset or East Devon coast town to another by rail
involves an amount of thought and a consultation of time-tables that
would not be required for a journey from London to Aberystwyth, and
unless the traveller hits on a particularly lucky set of connexions he
will find that he can walk from one town to the other in less time
than by taking the train. From Lyme to Seaton by the Landslip is
barely seven miles; by rail it is fifteen, involving two changes. From
Seaton to Sidmouth is nine miles by road and twenty-four by rail, with
two changes and a possible third. Each of these sections can be
comfortably tramped by the average good walker in a morning or
afternoon with plenty of time for "side issues" and rambling about the
towns themselves in the evening. One word of warning to those who
adopt this method of seeing their own land, the only effective way in
the writer's opinion. Do not be deceived into thinking that a mile on
the map is a mile on the road. In this country of hills and valleys
the distance can be added to considerably by these "folds in the
tablecloth." A contour map in colours such as Bartholomew's "half
inch" is a great help in this matter.

From Lyme the walk westwards by the cliff is, of course, the most
beautiful way. Our present route, by the high road, passes between
Rousdon, _the_ great house of the neighbourhood, and Combpyne, where
there is a station, the only one between Lyme and Axminster. This is a
pleasant place, lost between hills, and quite out of sight from the
railway. It has a church, built about 1250, with a gabled tower and
with a hagioscope in the chancel. The communion plate dates from
before the Reformation and is said to have been in constant use for
more than four hundred years. In the thirteenth century a convent
stood here; part of the buildings are now a farmhouse, but the
villagers still point out the "Nuns' Walk" close by. A series of
lonely and delightful lanes, difficult to follow without a good map
(directions given by a rustic require a super-brain to remember their
intricate details), lead down to the high road just short of the
bridge over the Axe. Here a turn to the right leads to picturesque old
Axmouth. The houses climb up a narrow combe down which tumbles a
bright stream from the side of Hawksdown, the hill which rises to the
north-east and is crowned by an ancient encampment. The church was
originally Norman, but only the north door and south aisle remain of
this period. In the chancel, which is in the Decorated style, is the
effigy of a priest within a recess, and in a chantry chapel a monument
to Lady Erle of Bindon. The curious wall paintings were discovered
during the restoration of the church some years ago. An old standard
measure for corn called the "Lord's Measure" is kept in a recess in
the churchyard wall. Turning to the left from the church are some
ancient cottages. On one of the chimneys will be seen the date 1570
and a motto: "God giveth all." Not far away is the entrance to
Stedcombe, a house designed by Inigo Jones, which replaced an older
building destroyed in the Civil War. Bindon, the home of Sir Walter
Erle, a famous officer of the Parliamentary army, is about a mile from
the village in the direction of the Landslip. It is a fine
sixteenth-century mansion, now a farmhouse, a chapel attached to which
is more than a hundred years older than the original building.

[Illustration: AXMOUTH FROM THE RAILWAY.]

A road by the east bank of the Axe leads in a mile to Seaton, which is
at the actual Axe mouth. This is a town almost without a history,
although it still makes the not-proven assertion that it is the site
of Moridunum. Some years ago the townsmen, with the idea that the
label is the principal thing, stuck the word along the Esplanade wall
in letters of black flint. Although the claim is not an impossible
one, the probabilities point to the junction of the two great roads,
the Fosse Way and the Icknield Way, near Honiton, as being the actual
site of the Roman station. The remains of a villa of this period,
together with various relics, pottery and coins, were found sometime
ago at a place called Hannaditches just outside the town, so that the
ubiquitous Latins were at any rate here.

Seaton is quite a different town to Lyme; it has practically no
ancient buildings and the few old cob cottages that made up the
original village have entirely disappeared. A "restoration" of the
church in 1866 destroyed most of the old features, including a
beautiful screen. The main fabric belongs to the Decorated period with
some Perpendicular additions and very scanty remains of the original
Early English building. The hagioscope in the chancel appears as a
window in the outer wall. The Perpendicular tower replaces an older
erection on the south side, of which the base alone remains. A flat
gravestone in the churchyard has the following curious inscription:--

  JOHN STARRE

  Starre on Hie
  Where should a Starre be
  But on Hie?
  Tho underneath
  He now doth lie
  Sleepinge in Dust
  Yet shall he rise
  More glorious than
  The Starres in skies

  1633

The main streets of the town are pleasant enough, though most of the
houses are small and of the usual lodging-house type. Seaton depends
for its deserved popularity upon its open position, in which it
differs from most Devon and Dorset resorts; its bracing air, due to
the wide expanse of the Axe valley, and above all to the beautiful
surrounding country. Treasure hunts along the beach for garnets and
beryls are among the excitements of a fortnight in Seaton.

The unimposing way in which the Axe enters the sea will be remarked at
once. It is supposed that the Danes made use of the river mouth as a
harbour for their pirate ships and it was without doubt a port of some
importance in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. For the siege
of Calais it provided two ships. But Leland (temp. Henry VIII) remarks
that the silting up of the Axe had made the harbour useless for all
but "small fisschar boates." The river now has great difficulty in
getting to the sea at all through the high bank of shingle.

A good deal of Honiton lace is made both here and at Beer, though this
East Devon industry is slowly dwindling in the several localities in
which it was once an important commercial item.

[Illustration: SEATON HOLE.]

The environs of Seaton are beautiful and interesting. The most popular
excursion is to the Landslip at Dowlands. The nature of the scenery is
so strange and bizarre, as well as beautiful, that it would impress
the most stolid and sophisticated as something quite out of the
common. North of the town are the villages of Colyford and Colyton;
visitors are usually content to view these from the train, but they
are worthy of closer inspection. The first-named is now a small
village two miles from the sea. It is on the high road from Lyme Regis
to Exeter and was once an important borough with a charter dating from
the reign of Edward I. Colyton, a mile farther, is a queer old place
with narrow, crooked streets. Its Perpendicular church is of much
interest, and seems to have been designed by an architect with
original ideas who, however, has not been preeminently successful in
its details. The square battlemented tower with its octagonal lantern
above is poorly executed, but otherwise the uncommon conception
arrests attention and is worthy of praise: The parvise chamber over
the porch, like many others, was for a long period the town school.
The nave, rebuilt about the middle of the eighteenth century, is of no
interest, but the Perpendicular arches between the chancel and aisles
are very elaborate and fine. The Pole chapel is formed out of the
eastern end of the south aisle and separated from the other portions
by a stone screen of elaborate and beautiful workmanship. Within are
the ornate figures of Sir John Pole and his wife. On the other side of
the chancel is the Jacobean mausoleum of the Yonges, a great local
family during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The
Gothic tomb with the recumbent figure of a girl upon it is known
locally as "Little Chokebone." Margaret Courtenay, daughter of an Earl
of Devon, was said to have been suffocated by a fish-bone, but the
tradition has been doubted. From the armorial bearings above the tomb
it would appear that the figure represents one of the daughters, or
possibly the wife, of the sixth Earl of Devon. An interesting
inscription in the south transept perpetuates the name of John
Wilkins, who was minister from 1647 to 1660 when, as a Nonconformist,
he was deprived of the living.

The vicarage was originally built in 1529 by Canon Brerewood, who
erected the stone screen of the Pole chapel. It has been altered and
partly rebuilt, but the porch retains the original inscription placed
there by the Canon--" _Meditatio totum; Peditatio totum_."

Colcombe Castle, half a mile from the town, is now Colcombe Farm. It
was once the seat of the Courtenays and the headquarters of Prince
Maurice during the Civil War. In 1680 the Duke of Monmouth stayed
either here or at the Great House near by, now a farm, but once
occupied by the Yonges. An old stone arch in a field above the castle
covers a spring of clear cold water.

Seaton Hole, the western extremity of Seaton Bay, lies under White
Head, which is not white but brownish grey. Up the steps from the
beach, a path leads from the "Hole" for a mile of steep up and down
walking and then the explorer reaches Beer, famous for its "free
trade" and its memories of a prince of smugglers--Jack Rattenbury;
the 'Arrypay of Seaton Bay. His adventures, though not on the grand
scale of the hero of Poole, were exciting enough, from his capture by
the French, while ship's-boy on a local coaster, to his attempted
arrest by a posse of soldiers in a Beer inn, where his escape was
effected by the women of the village raising the cry "A wreck! a
wreck!" and diverting his captors' attention. Rattenbury died in 1833
after receiving the princely sum of one shilling per week pension
during the last years of his life from Lord Rolle. During this period
he dictated his memoirs for publication in Sidmouth, to an editor who
unconsciously gave the book a delicious touch of humour by putting
into the mouth of this son of a Devon shoemaker the grandiloquent
phrases of an early Victorian divine.

[Illustration: BEER.]

The picturesque and unspoilt little beach and the village street
leading down to the sea are in great contrast to the new houses built
on the hill behind, and the fine new church erected at the instance of
the Lord of the Manor, one of the Rolle family. This replaced an
ancient chapel dedicated to St. Michael, from which two old memorial
tablets were transferred; one is to "Edward Good, late an Industrious
fisherman," who left twenty pounds in trust for the poor of Beer and
Seaton in 1804, and the other to "John, the fifth sonn of William
Starr of Bere, Gent., and Dorothy his wife, which died in the plague
was here bvried 1646." The dwelling of this Starr family was the Tudor
house at the end of the main street which bears on it the design of a
star, the rebus of the one-time owners.

A firm tradition is current among the fishermen, most of whom gain a
livelihood in the summer by boat hire, that their forefathers were
Spaniards shipwrecked in the Cove just after Beer had been depopulated
by the plague, and that they settled in the empty houses,
intermarrying with the maids of Devon left in the village. The story
is certainly made convincing by the remarkably dark and foreign
appearance of the villagers, especially in the case of the older men.

The famous quarries, from which the stone for Exeter Cathedral was
taken, are about a mile from the village. The subterranean quarries
are not now worked. They were used by the Romans and possibly before.
The passages extend for a long distance under the hill and are said to
communicate with the shore. They were no doubt of great value to the
smugglers. It is extremely dangerous to attempt the penetration of the
mysterious passages and caves without a competent guide and a
dependable light. Holes of unknown depth filled with water are met
with in the passages and a fatal accident is possible in any unwary
exploration.

Bovey House is about a mile to the north. It is chiefly remarkable for
a well about 180 feet deep which has a square chamber, 30 feet down,
undoubtedly built as a hiding place. Another secret chamber in one of
the chimneys is traditionally said to have hidden Charles II, but it
has been proved that he did not pass this way.

[Illustration: THE WAY TO THE SEA, BEER.]

Beer Head is the last outpost of the chalk and is a dazzling contrast
to the prevailing reddish yellow of the Devonian coast. On the other
side of the airy common that crowns the head, and that is known as
South Down, is the delightful village of Branscombe (usually
pronounced "Brahnscoom") built in the three valleys that unite at
Branscombe mouth, the opening to the sea under the shadow of Bury
Camp. The fine cruciform church is mainly Norman but with Early
English and still later additions. It is supposed that the base of the
tower is of Saxon workmanship. A monument (1581) in the transept is to
Joan Tregarthen, her two husbands and nineteen children. One of the
sons of her second marriage was the founder of Wadham College, Oxford.
In the churchyard is a rough pillar usually described as a coffin-lid.
It is probably a "Sarsen," indicating that the church site was used
for worship in prehistoric times or at least that it was a place of
sepulture. There are two headstones of very early date--1579 (?) and
1580, and the tomb of Joseph Braddick (1673) bears the following
curious epitaph:

  "STRONG AND IN LABOUR
  SUDDENLY HE REELS
  DEATH CAME BEHIND HIM
  AND STRUCK UP HIS HEELS.

  SUCH SUDDEN STROKES
  SURVIVING MORTALS BID YE
  STAND ON YOUR WATCH
  AND BE ALLSO READY."

There are several other curious records here that will repay perusal
by their quaintness and unconscious pathos. One is rather ferocious:

  "STAY, PASSENGER, AWHILE AND READ
  YOUR DOOM I AM
  YOU MUST BEE DEAD."

The dedication and the name of the village are in some doubt.
Authorities make claim for St. Brendan as the patron, hence
Branscombe. A chapel was built at Seaton in honour of this traveller
saint.

[Illustration: BRANSCOMBE CHURCH.]

The coast at Branscombe is wildly beautiful, and an interesting ramble
may be taken at low tide among the masses of rock that form a sort of
undercliff; the miniature valleys between are carpeted with rare and
beautiful flowers. It is not practicable to continue by the shore
except at the expenditure of much exertion. The road to Sidmouth
should be taken by way of the few houses that constitute Weston, and
then by the highly placed Dunscombe Farm and the picturesque ruin near
it. These winding lanes lead eventually to the lonely little church
hamlet of Salcombe Regis--"King Athelstan's salt-works in the Combe."
This is one of those sweetly-pretty lost villages by the sea which one
hesitates to mention lest a speculator should investigate with the
idea of an elaborate "simple life" hostel in his mind. But Salcombe is
too difficult of approach, even for faddists, although only a nominal
two miles separates it from the South Western terminus on the other
side of the hill. The church dates from 1150, though aisles were added
a hundred years later and the tower in 1450.

We now approach the borders of the older Wessex, the limit for which
for want of definite evidence to the contrary the writer has had to
fix arbitrarily at the mouth of the Otter. The last of the coast towns
in this region is one of the best centres in south-east Devon for a
detailed exploration of the countryside. That is, the best if a coast
town must be chosen. To the writer's mind a better plan is to make a
break from this established usage and get quarters in one of the quiet
old places about eight or ten miles inland, such as Ottery or
Axminster. But Sidmouth is an exceedingly pleasant spot, in which one
need never feel dull or bored, and in which the vulgarities one
associates with the "popular" watering place are entirely absent. The
bright and clean appearance of the stuccoed houses, nearly always
painted white, contrasting with the red of the cliffs and the green
foliage with which the town is embowered, is very effective and even
beautiful. The houses are grouped in a compact and cosy way between
the two hills, although of late years a number of new and, at close
quarters, staring red brick efforts at modernity have been made on the
hillsides. But these are decently covered, in any general view of the
town, in the wealth of trees that climb the lower slopes.

[Illustration: SIDMOUTH.]

Certain quarters of Sidmouth have an air of antique and solid
gentility that is a heritage from those days when it was a select and
fashionable resort before the terraces of Torquay were built on the
lines of its parent--Bath. After Lyme it was the first of the western
coast towns to bid for the custom of the habitues of such inland
resorts as Tunbridge Wells, Cheltenham and the like. The
Victorian-Gothic building known as Royal Glen, originally Woolbrook
Cottage, was for several years the home of the Duke and Duchess of
Kent and the infant Princess Victoria. The Duke died here in 1820 and
Queen Victoria caused a window to be placed to his memory in the
rebuilt parish church.

The town is mentioned in Thackeray's _Pendennis_, and was the home of
the immortal Mrs. Partington, an old acquaintance of Sidney Smith; she
is supposed to have lived in one of the cob cottages that used to be
on the front. Like the Lords with Reform, so was Mrs. Partington with
the Atlantic Ocean, which she tried to keep out of her front door with
a mop. "She was excellent at slop or puddle, but should never have
meddled with a tempest." If she was an actual character the good
dame's house probably stood where now the fine esplanade runs its
straight course between Peak Hill and the Alma Bridge over the Sid. At
the bridge the shingle bank baulks the stream from a clear course into
the sea and usually forces it into an ignominious and green scummed
pool that slowly filters through the stony wall. From the bridge a
path ascends to the Flagstaff, where there is perhaps a better view
than that from the much higher Peak Hill on the west. Torbay, Start
Point, and the south Devon coast are in full but distant view across
the bay, but Teignmouth and Dawlish hide behind the promontory called
Black Head.

The direct Honiton road goes up the valley of the Sid through pleasant
Sidford, which has a fine old farmhouse called Manstone and a number
of picturesque cottages, and through Sidbury, beneath the encampment
called Sidbury Castle. The Early Norman church at Sidbury is
interesting. Alterations at various dates have given the building
thirteenth-century transepts and a roof and aisles dating from two
hundred years later. The fine Norman tower was entirely rebuilt about
forty years ago when the two figures of SS. Peter and Giles were found
and placed on the new west face. A Saxon crypt was discovered under
the chancel when that portion was restored and a trap door gives
access to this chamber from the floor. The church porch has a room
over it known to the villagers as the "Powder Room." It is thought
that this formed a sort of magazine for the troops quartered in the
neighbourhood during the Napoleonic wars.

The "Sid Bury" is the tree-clad hill on the west. Upon its crown is an
encampment with a ditch, its bottom 45 feet from the summit of the
wall. The view, except down the Sid valley to the sea, is restricted,
but in every direction it is beautiful.

About half a mile north of the village is a fine old mansion called
Sand, belonging to the Huish family and erected in the closing years
of the sixteenth century. It is now a farmhouse, but practically
unaltered from its ancient state.

The coast from Sidmouth to the mouth of the Otter bends
south-westwards in a long sweep and encloses within the peninsula thus
formed the small and uninteresting village of Otterton that has on the
other side of the river a station on the line running from Ottery St.
Mary through Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth. The fine Peak Hill has its
western slopes running down to the Otter valley just north of Bicton
Park, where is a magnificent arboretum. The line from Sidmouth climbs
round the northern slopes of the hill and drops into the valley at
Tipton St. John's. The train then follows the waterside as closely as
may be to Ottery St. Mary. This beautifully placed town is as
delightful and convenient to stay in as any in Devon.

Ottery's proud boast is that it has the grandest church, apart from
the great fane at Exeter, in the county. It is said that it owes its
plan and general appearance to the inspiration of the Cathedral, and
there is a striking resemblance on a small scale to that beautiful and
original building. Not that St. Mary's is a small church; for the size
of the town which it dominates it is vast. Erected during the period
when national ecclesiastical art was at its most majestic and
imposing, the Early English style of the greater portion of the
structure is given diversity by certain Decorated additions. The
beautiful stone reredos is at present empty of figures. Behind the
altar the Lady Chapel, which has a stone screen, contains an old
minstrels' gallery. The carving here, and the vaulting throughout the
church, but especially in the chapel on the north side, is deservedly
famous. During the time of Bishop Grandisson, about 1340, the church
was made collegiate. In 1850 a so-called restoration by Butterfield
did much damage, and some of the woodwork then introduced could well
be "scrapped" and the church again restored to something of its
previous simple dignity. The painting of the nave and chancel roofs
has a peculiarly "cheap" and tawdry effect.

Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have lived in the town for a time, and
during the Civil War it was for a month the head-quarters of Fairfax,
who turned the church tower into a temporary fortress. Samuel Taylor
Coleridge was a native of Ottery and the son of one of its vicars. The
poet was only nine when his father died in 1781. He was then placed in
the Bluecoat school and there met his lifelong friend, Charles Lamb.
The theological studies that at first seemed to be his natural bent
were no doubt a consequence of his early environment. Near the church
is a house now occupied by Lord Coleridge. Thackeray spent his school
holidays at Larkbeare, the house of his stepfather, Major Carmichael
Smith, and afterwards used Ottery ("Clavering St. Mary") as the scene
of part of _Pendennis_.

The steep, narrow streets around the church have lost many of their
picturesque old buildings, though a few of the smaller houses remain
in the side turnings. The pleasant aspect of the town is greatly
increased by the beauty of the river and of its banks both above and
below the bridge. The stream is a great favourite with anglers, and
Otter trout have a great reputation.

The great high road from Exeter to London passes a short distance
north of Ottery and follows the river valley on its way to the old
town under the shadow of Dumpdon Hill. Honiton is of world-wide fame
in connexion with the beautiful lace that is still made in the
vicinity. The long and broad High Street is practically all there is
of the town, except for a few shops and smaller houses on the way to
the railway station. Save on market day Honiton sleeps the hours away,
or seems to do so; possibly there is an amount of business done behind
doors, and in a quiet way, to account for the comfortable appearance
of the burgesses (for this is a municipal borough). By reason of its
sheltered position from any breeze that may be blowing aloft and its
open arms to the sun, the town has, on an ordinary summer's day, the
hottest High Street in England; that fact may partly account for its
air of somnolence.

The Perpendicular cruciform church suffered greatly from fire some
years ago, though happily the tower escaped. A beautiful old screen
and several other interesting details were entirely destroyed. The
black marble tomb of Thomas Marwood commemorates a fortunate physician
who cured the Earl of Essex of an illness and was rewarded by Queen
Elizabeth with a house and lands near the town. On the Exeter road is
St. Margaret's Hospital, endowed by Thomas Chard, Abbot of Ford
(1520), for nine old people. It was originally a lazar-house founded
about 1350. The chapel was built by its later benefactor.

A curious custom is kept in Honiton Fair week, usually held the third
week in July. On the first day of the Fair a crier goes about the
streets with a white glove on a long wand crying:

  "O yes the Fair is begun
  And no man dare be arrested
  Until the Fair is done."

It is said that this strange privilege is still respected.

The high road to Axminster climbs up the long ascent of Honiton Hill
(there is an easier way over the fields to the summit for
pedestrians), and with beautiful views on the left keeps to the high
lands almost all the way until the drop into the valley of the Yarty.

Axminster is on a low hill surronded by the softer scenery of typical
Devon. The by-ways near the town are narrow flowery lanes such as are
naturally suggested to one's mind whenever the West Country is
mentioned. Axminster has given its name to an industry that has not
been carried on in the town for over eighty years, though "Axminster"
carpets are still famous for their durability and their fine designs.
The whole period during which the manufacture was carried on in the
town did not cover a century. The carpets were made on hand-looms and
the house, now a hospital, that was used as the factory is opposite
the churchyard.

The church is said to have pre-Norman work beneath the tower. The
building as it stands is mostly Perpendicular, but with certain
Decorated details in the chancel and a Norman door. The sculptured
parapet of the north aisle is interesting. On it are the arms of many
ancient families of the county. The two effigies in the chancel are
supposed to represent Gervase de Prestaller, once vicar here, and Lady
Alice de Mohun. In the churchyard is a tombstone with two crutches;
this is the grave of the father of Frank Buckland, the famous
naturalist, who was born here in 1784.

[Illustration: AXMINSTER.]

The town suffered greatly during the Civil War. It was taken by the
Royalists and used as a head-quarters during the investment of Lyme
Regis. It was the resting-place of William "The Deliverer" on his way
from Lyme northwards. He is said to have stayed at the "Dolphin" while
it was the private residence of the Yonges.

Close to the Axe and to the main line of the railway are the scanty
ruins of Newenham Abbey, once of great renown. Founded in 1245 by the
de Mohuns, it met with the usual fate at the Great Dispersal. A mile
farther, on the Musbury road, is Ashe Farm, which once belonged to the
Drake family. A daughter of the house married one Winstone Churchill,
and here in 1650 was born John, afterwards to become the great Duke of
Marlborough. These Drakes were claimed by Sir Francis as his
relatives, but they rather fiercely repudiated the claim, and this
obscure county family took proceedings against the great Seaman for
using their crest--a red dragon. Gloriana, however, retaliated by
giving her bold Sir Francis an entirely new device showing the dragon
cutting a most undignified caper on the bows of his ship. The effigies
of three of these Drakes, with their wives in humble attitudes beside
them, are to be seen in Musbury church, another mile farther on.

Somewhere in this fertile and beautiful valley, between Axminster and
Colyton, was waged the great battle of Brunanburgh between the men of
Wessex led by Athelstan and the Ethelings, and Anlaf the Dane, an
alien Irish King, who captained the Picts and Scots. Five Kings (of
sorts), seven Earls, and the Bishop of Sherborne were killed, but the
victory was with the defenders. Athelstan founded a college to
commemorate the battle and its result, and caused masses to be said in
Axminster church for ever (!) for the repose of the souls of those of
his friends who fell.

The London road from Honiton runs a beautiful and lonely course of
fourteen miles up hill and down dale to Chard in Somersetshire,
passing, about half way, the wayside village of Stockland. The hills
that here divide the valleys of the Otter and the Yarty are crossed by
the high road and involve several steep "pitches" up and down which
the motorist must perforce go at a pace that enables him for once to
view the landscape o'er and not merely the perspective of hedge in
front of him. The remote little village of Up-Ottery is away to the
left on the infant stream surrounded by the southern bastions of the
Blackdowns. Here is the fine modern seat of Viscount Sidmouth. Beacon
Hill (843 feet), to the north of the village, commands a celebrated
view, as wide as it is lovely.

[Illustration: SHERBORNE.]




CHAPTER VIII

THE SOMERSET, DEVON AND DORSET BORDERLAND


Chard is a place which satisfies the aesthetic sense at first sight and
does not pall after close and long acquaintance. The great highway
from Honiton to Yeovil becomes, as it passes through the last town in
South Somerset, a spacious and dignified High Street with two or three
beautiful old houses, among a large number of other picturesque
dwellings which would sustain the reputation of Chard even without
their aid. First is the one-time Court House of the Manor, opposite
the Town Hall. Part of the building is called Waterloo House. It was
built during the last quarter of the sixteenth century. A very
beautiful and spacious room with two mullioned windows and a fine
moulded ceiling graces the interior. This apartment is panelled with
the most delightful carvings of scenes from the Old Testament, and
with birds, animals and heraldic designs above the noble fireplace.
The back of this house is even more charming than the front and the
visitor should pass through the porch and passage-way for the sake of
a glimpse at its old gables and mellow walls. The Choughs Inn at the
west end of the town, not far from the church, is another fine example
of late medieval architecture. Here also one should not be content
with a mere passing glance. The interior is well worth inspection, as
the old woodwork and queer guest rooms of the ancient hostelry have
been jealously preserved. The present Town School was erected in 1671,
but a pipe bears the date 1583, indicating an earlier building on the
site.

The early fifteenth-century church is cruciform if we regard the high
porches as transepts. The whole building, including the tower, is very
low in proportion to its length. The fine gargoyles will be noticed
before entering; equally elaborate is the roof of the chancel, but
perhaps the most striking item is the magnificent tomb of William
Brewer (1641) in the north transept.

As at Honiton, the mile of High Street is undeniably a true section of
the Fosse Way, though at each end the modern road departs from the old
way and shirks the hills. The geographical position of the street is
interesting in that it stands on a "great divide." During rain the
gutters take the water in two directions, to the English Channel and
the Severn Sea. There is no clear evidence of the existence of a Roman
station hereabouts, though it is more than probable that such was the
case. The name of the town proves it to have been a Saxon settlement.
Bishop Joscelyn of Wells made its fortune by his endowments and the
gift of a borough charter. Chard bore its part in the Civil War and
Charles I was obliged to stay here for a week, in his retreat from the
west country, awaiting the commissariat that Somerset had failed to
provide. "Hangcross Tree," a great oak, stood within living memory in
the lower town on the way to the South Western station. This was the
gibbet upon which twelve natives of Chard, followers of Monmouth, paid
the penalty for their rebellion.

[Illustration: FORD ABBEY.]

The excursion _par excellence_ is to Ford Abbey, situated about four
miles away on the banks of the Axe. (Prospective visitors who wish to
see more than the exterior must make preliminary inquiries.) The
situation is beautiful, as was usually the case with those chosen by
the Cistercians. Unlike most of the great abbeys despoiled by the
iconoclasts of the Dispersal, Ford fell into the hands of successive
families who have added to and embellished the great pile without
entirely doing away with its ancient character. A good deal of
alteration was carried out by Inigo Jones who destroyed some of the
older work and inserted certain incongruities more interesting than
pleasing. The imposing appearance of the south front amply atones for
any disappointment the visitor may experience at his first sight of
the buildings from the Chard road. Over the entrance tower is the
inscription:

  ANO' D'NI MILLESIMO QUINQUESIMO VIC'MO OCTA'O
  A D'NO FACTUM EST THOMA CHARD ABB.

The beautiful cloisters are much admired and the magnificent porch is
one of the finest entrances in England. In the "state" apartments the
grandeur of the ceiling in the Banqueting Hall is almost unique. The
great Staircase was designed by Inigo Jones; this leads to the Grand
Saloon in which are five Raphael tapestries, the finest in England;
unsurpassed for the beauty of their colouring. The original cartoons
are in South Kensington Museum. The visitor is conducted through the
Monks' Dormitory to the Transitional Chapel, the resting place of
Adeliza, Viscountess of Devon, who founded the Abbey for some homeless
monks, wayfarers from Waverley in Surrey, who had unsuccessfully
colonized at distant Brightley and were tramping home. This was in
1140. In 1148 the church was completed. The carved screen is
elaborately beautiful and there are several interesting memorials of
the families who have held this splendid pile of buildings, now the
property of the Ropers. The traveller by the Exeter express has a
charming glimpse of the picturesque "back" of the abbey, should he
make his journey in the winter. In summer the jealous greenery hides
all but a stone or two of the battlements.

Chard is surrounded by a number of small and secluded villages. Most
of them are delightfully situated on the sides of wooded heights or
between the encircling arms of the hills. The most charming is perhaps
Cricket St. Thomas on the south of the Crewkerne road. On the other
side of this highway, on the headwaters of the River Isle, is another
beautifully situated hamlet called Dowlish Wake, after the ancient
Somerset family of that name who flourished here in the fourteenth
century. A short distance north is Ilminster, an ancient market town
with a beautiful Perpendicular church crowned with a poem in stone
that is of surpassing loveliness even in this county of lovely towers.
White Staunton, four miles away to the west towards the Blackdown
country, has a church remarkable for the number of interesting details
it contains, though the fabric itself is rather commonplace. Its
treasures include a very early Norman font, curious pewter communion
vessels, a squint having an almost unique axis, some ancient bench
ends and medieval tiles in the chancel. St. Agnes' Well, a spring near
the church, is said to be tepid, and to have healing qualities. Near
by is an old manor house dating from the fifteenth century. In its
grounds are the foundations of a Roman Villa discovered about forty
years ago.

[Illustration: TOWER, ILMINSTER.]

Proceeding along the London road over Windwhistle and St. Rayne's
Hills, and with delightful views by the way, Crewkerne is reached in
eight miles from Chard. This is a pleasant little market town of no
great interest apart from its noble fifteenth-century cruciform church
which has an uncommonly fine west front, with empty niches, alas! but
beautiful nevertheless. The porch is another interesting feature of
its exterior. Here are quaint figures of musicians playing upon
various instruments. At the end of the south transept is a small
chamber, the actual purpose of which is unknown; it may well have been
the cell of an anchorite.

The first impression on entering the church is one of light and
airiness, due to the size and number of the windows, of which that at
the west end is the finest. The wooden groining of the tower is
curious, and the base of the walls show the existence of a former
building that lacked the present aisles. The ancient font belongs to
the older structure. A figure of St. George, that was once outside and
over the west window where the dragon is still _in situ_, two old
chests, and a number of brasses complete the list of interesting
objects within. To the north of the church are the old buildings of
the grammar school, now removed to a site outside the town to the
east.

About two miles to the north is the curious old church of Merriott,
built during several periods. The extraordinary carving over the
vestry door called the "fighting cocks" is in the eyes of the
villagers its chief merit! There are also some interesting gargoyles
and a very ancient crucifix. A mile farther is the pleasant village of
Hinton St. George. The fine village cross, though much mutilated,
still retains enough of its former splendour to make us regret the
many we have lost. The old thatched house known as the "Priory" is a
delightful building. Hinton House is the home of the Pouletts, a
famous family who came originally from the North Somerset sea-lands.
Part of the house dates from the reign of Henry VIII. The family came
into prominence about that time, for a member named Amyas was knighted
after the fight at Newark. He became more famous still perhaps for his
collision with Wolsey when the latter was a young man, for he had the
misfortune to put the future great prelate in the stocks! The family
became pronounced Protestants and one of the grandsons of Amyas was
gaoler of Mary Queen of Scots. These beruffed and torpedoe-bearded
Elizabethans are in Hinton Church, a fine and dignified building that,
like many other Somerset churches, is more imposing outside than
within.

South Petherton is about three miles north. Here is another fine
church with an uncommon octagonal tower placed upon a squat and square
base. Of more interest is the beautiful house, known as "King' Ine's
Palace," which dates from the fifteenth century. It may have been
erected on the site of one of that Saxon monarch's many houses. There
are one or two ancient buildings in this village as also at Martock,
another delightful hamlet still farther north. But we are being
tempted outside our arbitrary boundary and must return to the Yeovil
road that wanders up hill and down again into the charming vales of
the Somerset borderland by way of East Chinnock and West Coker. In the
latter large and rambling village is a church of note for the unique
horn glazing of the small windows in its turret. The Decorated
building has a squat tower out of all proportion to its size. The
manor dates from the fourteenth century and belongs to the Earl of
Devon.

There is an alluring sound about the name of Yeovil; a name suggestive
of ancient stone-walled houses with roofs clothed in russet moss with,
perhaps, a hoary ruined keep on a guardian mound and a clear swift
moorland stream flowing between encircling hills. But the reality is
very different. Many years ago, when two great railways took the town
into their sphere of influence, factories and streets began to appear
as if by magic and just before the Great War a fresh impetus was given
to Yeovil by the development and extension of certain well-known local
firms. In fact the present appearance of the town is that of an
industrial centre of the smaller and pleasanter sort, but with the
inevitable accompaniment of mean houses and uninviting suburbs. The
main streets of the newer parts are spacious and clean, but are
reminiscent of an ordinary London suburb.

The great glory of Yeovil is its church, the interior of which is one
of the most impressive in Somerset. Its lofty and graceful arches and
wonderful windows belong to a period when the Perpendicular style was
at its best and purest. The crypt beneath the chancel is of much
interest. The single central pillar supports a fine groined roof. The
church has few interesting details, but the magnificent lectern with
its undecipherable inscription and a couple of brasses will be
noticed. There are but few old houses in the centre of the town.

[Ilustration: YEOVIL CHURCH.]

The usual excuse of disastrous fires is offered, and one did occur in
1449 when 117 houses were destroyed, but more probably ruthlessness on
the part of eighteenth-century owners is responsible for this dearth.
In Middle Street is the George Inn, an old half-timbered house, and,
opposite, the still older "Castle," said to have been a chantry house.
The Woborne Almshouses were founded about 1476, but no portion of the
early buildings remain.

One of the most delightful views in South Somerset is that from
Summerhouse Hill, about half a mile away; another, magnificent in its
extent, can be had from the Mudford road that runs in a north-easterly
direction. The great central plain is spread before one with distant
Glastonbury Tor on the horizon. The environs of Yeovil are delightful.
One of the best short excursions is to East Coker, the birthplace of
William Dampier, two miles to the south. The church and Court are
beautifully placed above the old village and a picturesque group of
almshouses line the upward way to them.

Five miles north of Yeovil on the Fosse Way, where a branch road
leaves the ancient Bath-Exeter highway for Dorchester, stands the old
Roman town of Ilchester, or Ivelchester. An unimportant one at that,
for the Romans made but little attempt to build in the wild and remote
country that was to be the home of an obscure Saxon tribe--the
Somersetas. Ilchester to-day is strangely uninteresting and we have to
depend entirely upon the imagination for even a plan of the Roman
town, of which no vestiges remain. Possibly these disappeared during
the Civil War when the town was fortified. The church has an octagonal
tower with the rare feature that its sides are the same form from base
to parapet. The older portions of the building are Early English, but
it has suffered from a good deal of pulling about. This is the only
one remaining of the five churches of which Ilchester could once
boast. A much maltreated market cross stands in the main street with a
sundial stuck on the summit of its shaft. Otherwise there is little to
detain the stranger. Roger Bacon, philosopher and scientist, was a
native of the town or immediate neighbourhood. At Tintinhull, two
miles to the south-west, are some fine old houses, ancient stocks, and
an Early English church of much interest. The church's tower is on the
north side, an unusual position. Bench-ends, brasses and ancient tiles
are among the objects likely to interest the visitor of antiquarian
tastes. Montacute, still farther south and on the road from South
Petherton to Yeovil, should be visited if possible. Here is a
beautiful Elizabethan house, the seat of the Phelipses. Its east front
is decorated with an imposing row of heroic statues; its west front is
almost as magnificent. Taken altogether it is perhaps the grandest
Tudor house in the county. The interior well bears out the sumptuous
appearance of the great pile from the outside. A great gallery, one
hundred and eighty feet long, extends through the whole length of the
building, and the hall is equally grand.

[Illustration: MONTACUTE.]

This great house replaces a one-time Cluniac monastery founded in
1102, though in 1407 the establishment abandoned the foreign rule of
Cluny and became an ordinary English Priory. All that is left of the
ancient buildings is a beautiful gateway with turrets and oriels
dating from the fifteenth century. St. Michael's Hill, or "Mons
Acutus," is remarkably like Glastonbury in outline, and is the scene
of a wonderful legend. Here was found the sacred Rood that was
eventually taken in the days of Canute to distant Waltham in Essex,
where afterwards there arose the great Abbey of the Holy Cross.

Montacute Church is a building that has seen much legitimate
"tinkering," not of the restorer's brand but of the sort that delights
the antiquary. The earliest work is very early Norman. This is seen in
the chancel arch and then we come down through the various stages of
architectural history--Early English transepts, a Decorated window on
the south side and, what is almost inevitable for Somerset, the
Perpendicular nave. The tower is also "Somerset," and very dignified
and beautiful.

From the hill of Hamdon near by we obtain one of those exquisite
prospects of this English countryside that few can look upon unmoved.
The beautiful hills of Somerset and Dorset, fading into the gentlest
tones of soft purple and blue, ring the horizon on every side.
Alfred's tower, built to commemorate the victory over the Danes, is
far away on the Wiltshire border, but appears startlingly close for
some rare moments when winter rain is near. Away to the west are the
distant Quantocks and the hills of "dear Dorset," fold after fold, in
the south. Close under the steep northern face of Hamdon is Stoke,
with a quaint, and delightful inn known as the "Fleur de Lis," and a
beautiful old church with a Norman tympanum, an elaborate chancel arch
of the same date, and many other gracious and interesting details. If
the direct road is taken from Montacute to Yeovil we pass through
Preston Pucknell with its small and over-restored Decorated church. Of
more interest is the fine tithe-barn close by, and a beautiful old
medieval house with delightful porch and elaborate chimney.

Three miles north-east of Yeovil is the interesting church and manor
house at Trent. In the latter the fugitive Charles II was hidden, and
his hiding-place can still be seen. The stone spire of the church is a
rare feature hereabouts and within will be found many interesting
items, including the finely carved screen and bench ends, some bearing
the words "Ave Maria"; the pulpit carved with scenes from the life of
Christ and the chantry chapel and tombs, one of Sir Roger Wyke,
_temp_. Edward III. The very beautiful churchyard contains an old
chantry house built in the reign of Henry VI and the shaft and steps
of an ancient cross.

About four miles south-east of Yeovil is the village of Yetminster,
with a station on the Weymouth line of the Great Western Railway. To
reach it we may pass through the village of Bradford Abbas, where the
abbots of Sherborne once had a residence. The moated house still
exists as Wyke Farm. A short distance away is a tithe-barn of noble
proportions. The church has one of the finest towers in Dorset (for
here we are again across the border). The west front is remarkable for
its canopied niches. Within is a stone screen and beautifully panelled
roof. Yetminster churchyard is worth the climb thither for the sake of
the lovely view without the added attraction of the beautiful
Perpendicular church, restored about thirty years ago. Within will be
noticed some ancient wooden benches with the Tudor badge at their
ends, spared by the restorer, who has here done his work carefully and
well. On the chancel arch may be seen the gaps left in the stonework
where the old wooden screen once stood, also the stone brackets for
the rood-beam. The ancient colouring, mellowed and softened by long
time, still remains on the beams of the roof. The fine west window
will be noticed and also other windows, small and curiously placed.
The church has a north door, possibly a "Devil's Door," through which
the exorcised spirit passed at the baptismal service. About two miles
south-east of Yetminster is the small village of Leigh, with a
sixteenth-century church and the remains of two ancient crosses. In
the vicinity is a remarkable "maze" or prehistoric "Troy Town."

The Weymouth Railway could be taken from Yeovil to Evershot, nine
miles to the south, among the beautiful hills and valleys of what may
be described, for want of a better name, as the Melbury Downs. The
ridges of these North Dorset highlands are traversed to a large extent
by good roads from which most delightful views may be had, delightful
not only for their great extent but for the exquisite near peeps at
the remote and lost villages and hamlets that sleep in their deep
combes. The western extremity of this particular group of hills is
Cheddington, about three miles from Beaminster, where is, perhaps, the
most extensive view in Dorset. Evershot village is a mile and a half
to the west of the station and within a few minutes' walk of St.
John's Spring, the source of the Frome. The rebuilt church contains an
interesting brass to William Grey (1524), rector, and depicts him in
pre-reformation vestments holding the sacred elements in his raised
hands. A road leads north through the lovely glades of Melbury Park,
Lord Ilchester's seat, to Melbury Sampford. Melbury House is of three
main periods--fifteenth century in the older and hidden portions,
sixteenth century as regards the main building erected by Sir Giles
Strangeways, and late seventeenth century when the Corinthian pillars
were added to the east front. The beautiful sheets of water--feeders
of the Yeo (for we have crossed the "divide") lend an added grace to a
park rich with groves of magnificent trees. One of them, called "Billy
Wilkins," is a famous oak, thirty-seven feet in girth. Sampford church
is a cruciform Decorated building with some interesting monuments to
the Strangeways, the family of Lord Ilchester. The late peer was the
donor of the beautiful modern reredos, and the decoration of the
chancel is due to him. Melbury Bubb stands a mile or more to the east
under the shadow of the imposing Bubb Down. Its diminutive church has
been much restored and has little of interest, except some ancient
glass that has been left in the windows. A glorious walk could be
taken eastwards by lonely little Batcombe with its marvellous legends
of "Conjuring Minterne," whose grave is in the churchyard. Thence the
solitary hill-way goes by the mysterious stone called "Cross in Hand"
along the tops of the hills past High Stoy (860 feet), an outstanding
bastion, Ridge Hill and Buckland Newton.

[Illustration: BATCOMBE.]

The short five miles of road from Yeovil to Sherborne passes over the
curiously named Babylon Hill. A proposal was made at an Academy dinner
a short time ago to label the small towns and villages of Britain with
artistic signs giving the name of the place and denoting pictorially
or otherwise its leading characteristic. The idea is a good one,
though it is capable of being carried to extreme lengths and abused.
In wandering over the English countryside one is often at a loss, even
with a good map in the pocket, to know the name of the hamlet or
village one is entering. It is insulting to the villager and
humiliating to oneself to ask "What place is this?" The well-known
black and yellow signs of the Automobile Association label such
villages as stand on a high road. But the obscure by-way hamlet,
perhaps of more interest, is quite incognito. However, Babylon Hill is
clearly marked on the map if not on the roadside, and we proceed
through a pleasant country quite unlike the district we have just
traversed and partaking more of the character of Leicester and the
"Loamshire" of the novelist than of Somerset. The beautiful Abbey
Church of Sherborne, the town of the "Scir bourn" or Yeo, is not well
seen from the approach on the west, for we are on the wrong side of
the long slope on which it is built. The town itself is attractive and
pleasant, and has several old and beautiful houses to delight the
traveller, but every other interest is dwarfed by its magnificent
Abbey. Originally founded as the Cathedral of the see of Sherborne in
705, it had as its first bishop the great and learned Aldhelm. At this
time the then city was the capital of the new western extension of
Wessex and an important and strategic stronghold in the long and
bitter struggle with the Danes. The earlier bishops were not only
priests but soldiers, and seem to have acquitted themselves well as
leaders in battle and generals in council in the many engagements that
took place between the Channel and the Severn. More than one fell
fighting and one, Bishop Ealhstan, totally defeated the invaders and
did much to keep Wessex for the English. A successor of
his--Asser--reverted to the tradition of learning established by the
first of the Saxon prelates; he was the contemporary of Alfred, and to
him we owe a great deal of our knowledge of the King. During this
period the trade and industry of the city (it had an important
manufactory of cloth) had grown steadily with its rise as a military
and ecclesiastical centre, but when the see was removed to Old Sarum
in 1075, Sherborne received a blow from which it never recovered.

In some respects there is a similarity between the Abbey of Sherborne
and the Cathedral at Winchester. In certain portions of each building
the same extraordinary transformation has taken place in the same
interesting way. The original heavy Norman piers of the nave have been
pared and carved into the soaring lines and panel work of the
Perpendicular period. This alteration was carried out here by Abbot
Ramsam about the year 1500. In the north transept is the organ, a fine
and famous instrument. The ceiling of the south transept was presented
by the last Earl of Bristol and is composed of black Irish oak. The
Earl's monument with his effigy and that of his two wives, stands
beneath. There will be noticed on the south wall a memorial to two
children, the offspring of Lord Digby; the lines of the epitaph were
written by Pope. The window above is a modern work by Pugin. On the
east of this transept is the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre. The font is
singular if, as is stated, it was formerly ornamented with brass
plates. They are said to have been fixed within the quatrefoils on
five sides, the remaining three being plain.

The magnificent choir shows the essential beauty of Perpendicular--the
aspiring line--at its very best. The vaulting seems to carry the
upward flow, as it were, of the stonework to the roof centre without
any loss of the soaring effect. The beautiful windows are all modern
but they are entirely in keeping with the old work. The stalls are
original fifteenth-century carving and the miserere seats and canopies
above should be particularly noticed. The reredos contains two modern
designs in alto-relievo. A peculiar russet tint in the stonework near
the roof is said to have been occasioned by a fire which took place
during one of the many quarrels between the monastery and the town,
due mostly to a difference of opinion as to the ownership of the nave.
An arrow with a fiery tail, shot by one of the clergy of the town
church, lodged in the temporary thatched roof of the new choir and
caused the fire which did much damage, even melting the bells in the
tower.

Behind the high altar, let into the floor of the old processional
path, is a brass thus inscribed:

  NEAR THIS SPOT WERE INTERRED
  THE MORTAL REMAINS OF
  ETHELBALD AND ETHELBERT HIS BROTHER
  EACH OF WHOM IN TURN SUCCEEDED TO THE
  THRONE OF ETHELWOULF THIER FATHER KING OF THE
  WEST SAXONS AND WERE SUCCEEDED IN THE KINGDOM
  BY THIER YOUNGEST BROTHER ALFRED THE GREAT.

In the beautiful Wickham Chapel is the monument to Sir John Horsey,
the temporary owner of the Abbey at the Dissolution. He at once sold
the church to the town for one hundred marks, the equivalent then of
about seventy pounds. St. Katharine's, sometimes called the Leweston
Chapel, contains the Renaissance tomb of John Leweston and his wife.
Bishop Roger's Chapel is on the north of the choir. This is Early
English so far as the walls actually belonging to the chapel are
concerned. It contains the battered effigy of Abbot Clement (1163) and
some others unknown.

Perhaps the most interesting item in the great church is the doorway
on the north side of the west wall, which is said to be an actual
portion of the ancient Saxon cathedral of St. Aldhelm. The extension
of the Abbey westwards of this wall was known as Alhalowes and was the
town church until the break-up of the monastery rendered it
superfluous. It had a tower of its own in which the secular priests
caused a bell to be rung during the devotions of the monks, to the
great annoyance of the latter. The Chapel of Our Lady of Bow and the
portion of the Lady Chapel itself that escaped demolition at the
Dissolution was at that time separated from the Abbey and made part of
the adjoining school buildings. The great tower is one hundred feet in
height and holds a peal of eight bells with two extra--the sanctus and
the fire-bell. The latter is inscribed:

  LORD, QUENCH THIS FURIOUS FLAME
  ARISE, RUN. HELP. PUT OUT THE SAME.

The tenor bell was given by Cardinal Wolsey, once rector of Limington,
eight miles away in Somersetshire, and recast in 1670. Around the rim
runs the following:

  BY WOOLSEY'S GIFT, I MEASURE TIME FOR ALL,
  TO MIRTH, TO GRIEF, TO CHURCH, I SERVE TO CALL.

The school referred to above is believed to date back to the year 705,
that of the foundation of the Cathedral. Those portions of the
monastery buildings that had fallen into private ownership were handed
over to the school authorities in the middle of the last century. They
comprise the Abbot's Hall, Guest Hall, Kitchen and Abbot's apartments.
The Abbey Conduit at the end of Chepe Street dates back to 1360. It is
a charming survival with groined stone roof and open arcade around,
and it gives a very picturesque and special character to this end of
the street.

The Hospital of SS. John Baptist and John Evangelist was founded on
the site of a much older establishment by Henry VI in 1437. The modern
buildings were erected in 1866. The Chapel, Governor's Room, and some
of the ancient dormitories remain. A fine screen divides the chapel
from the ante-chapel and some beautiful and ancient glass still exists
in the south window. A tryptych, depicting the miracles, that once
stood in the chapel, may be seen in the Governor's Room.

[Illustration: SHERBORNE CASTLE.]

During the Civil War Sherborne decided for the king, and consequently
the old castle, which stood beyond the suburb of Castleton, was
dismantled, and its ruins used for building the present castle, the
home of the Digbys. The original building was erected by Roger of Caen
and had seen some history from the time of its siege in 1139 by King
Stephen. It became for a short period the home of Sir Walter Raleigh.
In the fine park the infant Yeo is dammed and broadened into a
graceful sheet of water. Here also is the eminence known as Jerusalem
Hill and the seat where Raleigh is said to have sat smoking to be
discovered by a scared retainer, who threw a pot of ale over his
master, thinking him on fire. Pope was for a time the guest of one of
his patrons--Lord Digby; and the Prince of Orange stayed here on his
progress from Devon to London. The Gate-house of the old Castle is a
picturesque ruin, Norman in style with inserted Perpendicular windows.

Sherborne is a pleasant and healthy town with many quaint nooks other
than the immediate precincts of the Abbey. Although perhaps not as
central as Yeovil for the exploration of the more interesting villages
of South Somerset, it is a good place in which to stay for a few days
or even longer. Perhaps the most lasting impression made by the town
will be that of hush and silence; not that it is stagnant or utterly
decayed, but even the main streets are saturated with the grave air of
a cathedral close, a fitting atmosphere for a place which retired from
active city life over eight hundred years ago.

An interesting excursion may be made to Cadbury Castle, five miles
north of Sherborne. A round of about fifteen miles, to include the
villages of Marston Magna, West and Queen's Camel, Sparkford (with a
station on the Great Western) North and South Cadbury, Sutton Montis
and Sandford Orcas, would take the explorer through a delightful
countryside dotted with beautiful old houses--some of them fallen from
high estate to the status of comfortable and roomy farmhouse, but
usually with a fabric well cared for--and quaint and ancient churches.
Of these North Cadbury, Marston and Sandford claim the most attention.
The first is a large and dignified Perpendicular building with finely
carved tabernacles in the chancel and several interesting features,
including a curious brass to Lady Magdalen Hastings. Close by is a
beautiful old manor house. Marston is much older than the generality
of Somerset churches and has the scanty remnants of "herring-bone"
work in the outside wall of the chancel. At Sandford is a delightful
manor house with the loveliest of terraces and gardens and an old
gate-house with an upper chamber. The interesting church contains a
curious tablet depicting a knight in white armour and two ladies, one
holding a skull. This is Sir William Knoyl and his two wives, the one
with the skull being his first. The goal of the journey, Cadbury
Castle, is, according to strong local tradition, no less a spot than
Camelot, the palace and castle of the king of romance and hero of the
British--Arthur. It will be remembered that to Camelot came the sword
Excalibur "that was as the light of many candles." In the moonlight,
the twelve knights, led by their prince, ride round the hill on horses
shod with silver and then away through the trees to Glastonbury. As
they disappear, the thin notes of a silver trumpet came back on the
midnight air. Some are of opinion that the hill is hollow, and that
Arthur and his company sleep within, awaiting the day of impending
doom for Britain. Then they will break the chains of slumber and come
to her aid. Some say that of late the Prince and his followers _did_
come forth. Every intelligent native for miles round knows that the
hill is indeed hollow, for this can be proved by calling to your
companion through the opening of Arthur's Well high on the eastern
face of the hill while he stands at St. Anne's Well away on the other
side. Another legend has it that the hill is not full of men but of
gold, the treasure house of the fairies, but this is a belief that
will only appeal to grosser minds.

The marvellous earthworks that crown the hill were undoubtedly
prehistoric in their origin and, like the walls of Maiden Castle, they
have been faced at a later date with stone. There are four lines of
wall and ditch, and they enclose an area of nearly twenty acres. Old
Leland becomes enraptured at the sight: "Good God! what vast ditches!
what high ramparts! what precipices are here!" It will be seen at a
glance how well adapted this eminence was for defence. There is
nothing to the north but the great expanse of the Somerset plain
broken by the isolated Glastonbury Tor. In the wide and beautiful view
from the earthworks the Mendip range runs away toward the Severn Sea
on the right; to the left front are the broken summits of the
Quantocks and to the extreme left the beautiful hills of the
Somerset-Dorset borderland.

The Shaftesbury road passes through pleasant country, with no
particular features but with occasional good views, to Milborne Port,
not quite three miles to the east. A few new buildings on the
outskirts of the little town have failed to rob it of its medieval
air. It can actually boast of a Norman guildhall, or at least the
building has a doorway of that period, which is near enough. The poor
battered and despoiled remains of a market cross stand in the centre
of the street. This mere village once sent two members to Westminster,
and its former importance as a market town and county centre is shown
by its magnificent and ancient church. Although the nave has been
rebuilt and the chancel is not the most perfect form of Perpendicular,
the centre of the church will repay scrutiny, for it is of peculiarly
solid and majestic appearance. It is even thought by some authorities
to be Saxon. The Norman details to be noticed include the fine south
door, the arches of the transepts and the windows in the south arm.
The old font and the piscina in the wall of the nave, as well as other
piscina in the chancel, are noteworthy.

The Shaftesbury road goes by the parklands and early
eighteenth-century mansion of Venn, the seat of the Medlicotts, and
then bears south-east towards the village of Caundle Purse. There are
several Caundles in this part of Dorset, but "Purse" is the only one
of much interest. It lies just off the road to the right, under the
wooded Henover Hill. Its sixteenth-century manor house bears the name
of "King John's House," as do several others over the length and
breadth of England. It is probable that a hunting lodge used by the
Angevin kings once stood hereabouts, as this countryside was in their
time the great forest of the White Hart. The church is small and
over-restored, but it contains a few interesting brasses.

The main road soon forks, the right-hand branch winding over a
two-mile stretch of tableland and then dropping to Stalbridge. The
main route goes directly over Henstridge Down and descends the hill to
the large village of Henstridge on a main cross-country road and with
a station on the Somerset and Dorset Railway, making it a convenient
point from which to take two interesting side excursions--northwards
to the hill-country beyond Wincanton and south to the upper valley of
the Stour. The old Virginia Inn at the cross roads claims to be the
actual scene of the "quenching" of Sir Walter Raleigh. Henstridge
church is much restored, or rather, rebuilt, but still contains the
fine canopied altar tomb of William Carent and his wife.

Proceeding northwards first we may take the road by Templecombe that
was once a preceptory of the Knights Templars and now has a station on
the main line of the South Western Railway, to Wincanton, a small
market town on the Cale ("Wyndcaleton") at the head of the Vale of
Blackmore. Though of high antiquity it does not seem to have had much
place in history, apart from its relation to Sherborne in the Civil
War, when it became a base for operations against the Royalist
garrison there. An old house in South Street is pointed out as the
lodging of the Prince of Orange on his journey towards London. A sharp
fight took place between his followers and a small body of Stuart
cavalry, resulting in the utter rout of the latter. A poor and
uninteresting old church has been altered out of all likeness to the
original (much to the advantage of the building) and there is very
little of antiquity in the town.

The station next to Wincanton is Cole, within easy reach of the old
towns of Castle Cary and Bruton. A public conveyance meets the trains
for the latter, a little over a mile away. The situation of Bruton, in
the picturesque valley of the Brue between Creech and Redlynch Hills,
is extremely pleasant. A goodly number of ancient houses survive and
the church, at one time a minster, is of much beauty and interest. Its
west tower is of great splendour and its nave of the stateliest
Perpendicular. The contrast of the chancel to the rest of the building
is more peculiar than pleasing. At the Dissolution the monks' choir
seems to have been allowed to fall into ruin, and the present
restoration was made in 1743 in a debased classic style. Effigies of
Sir Maurice Berkeley, Constable of the Tower (1585), and his wives are
in a recess. He became the owner of the abbey after the Dissolution. A
portion of a medieval cope is shown in the nave and two chained books
(Erasmus and Jewel). The ancient tomb at the west door is that of
Gilbert, first Abbot after the status of the Priory was raised (1510).
The small north tower, an uncommon feature, is a relic of the older
portion of the Priory, originally founded by William de Mohun in 1142.
All that remains of the conventual buildings are a columbarium or
stone dove-cote on a hillock just outside the town and the Abbey
Court-house on the south side of High Street. On the front will be
seen the arms of de Mohun and the initials of Prior Henton.

[Illustration: BRUTON BOW.]

Close by Bruton Bow, an extremely picturesque medieval bridge over the
Brue, is the school founded by Fitz-James, Bishop of London. It was
suppressed with the abbey and refounded by Edward VI. The Sexey
Hospital was established by a native of Bruton who was penniless when
he left the town and rose to be Auditor of the Household to Queen
Elizabeth and James I. The beautiful Hall-chapel is panelled in black
oak, and the buildings make a quaint and pleasing picture.

Castle Cary, nearly three miles west of Cole station, does not fulfil
the expectations raised by its name. Until 1890 the very site of the
castle had been lost. The lines of the keep are now marked by a row of
pillars in a meadow at the foot of Lodge Hill. A fortress of the
Lovells, it was attacked and taken by Stephen. Soon afterwards it
seems to have been dismantled or destroyed. The church is well placed
on an eminence but has been practically rebuilt and is of little
interest.

Ditcheat and Evercreech, respectively two and five miles to the north,
are beautiful and interesting places. The latter has a church with one
of the most glorious towers in Somerset, but here again we are leaving
our arbitrary boundary and wandering too far afield. The road from
Cary to Wincanton runs through Bratton Seymour and keeps to the summit
of a ridge of low hills, commanding here and there lovely views,
especially near "Jack White's Gibbett" at the cross roads above
Bratton. The Bruton-Wincanton road is even more interesting, as it
passes within a short distance of Stavordale Priory. The church, which
is still intact, and also a good portion of the conventual buildings,
are exquisitely situated under the great hill of Penselwood, part of
the line of hills that runs from above Bourton almost to Longleat and
that forms the high boundary of Somerset and Wiltshire. The ridge is
crowned by a number of entrenchments, and prehistoric remains are
frequent. Ballands Castle and Blacklough Castle are succeeded by Jack
Straw's Castle close to "Alfred's Tower" on Kingsettle Hill. This
tower was built by a Mr. Hoare in 1766 and commemorates the historic
spot where in 879 the cross was raised against the pagan Dane.

  ALFRED THE GREAT A.D. 879
  ON THIS SUMMIT ERECTED HIS STANDARD AGAINST DANISH INVADERS
  TO HIM WE OWE THE ORIGIN OF JURIES AND THE CREATION OF A NAVAL FORCE
  ALFRED, THE LIGHT OF THE BENIGHTED AGE
  WAS A PHILOSOPHER AND A CHRISTIAN
  THE FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE
  AND THE FOUNDER OF
  THE ENGLISH MONARCHY AND LIBERTIES.

The eye ranges over a magnificent expanse of western England. If the
tower is ascended one may stand just a thousand feet above the sea.
The door is usually locked, but the key may be obtained from a lodge
near by, down the slope to the east. This walk can with profit be
extended to Long Knoll (945 feet) over two miles north-east; beyond is
Maiden Bradley, an interesting village not far from the confines of
Longleat, the famous and palatial seat of the Marquis of Bath; but
this country must be left for another chapter.

After this long divergence a return must be made to Henstridge, where
a walk of less than two miles takes one over the Dorset border to
Stalbridge, a sleepy old town that is not troubled by the fact that it
has a station on the Somerset and Dorset Railway and that fast
expresses from the north roar down the Blackmore Vale to Bournemouth
and the sea. The church will not detain the visitor, for it was
rebuilt in 1878. The old cross on four steps in the centre of High
Street, with its rough carvings, is of more interest. It dates from
about 1350. Above the town on a hillside is the mansion at one time
inhabited by Sir James Thornhill, and not far away an obelisk erected
by the painter in honour of his patron George II, which used to be
known as "Thornhill Spire."

The Blandford high-road makes a wide loop to the south-west by
Lydlynch. A shorter route following the line of the railway takes us
in less than five miles to Sturminster Newton, where the Blackmore
Vale ends and the Stour flows in a narrow trough between low hills.

[Illustration: MARNHULL.]

Sturminster is a small and ancient town on the eastern bank of the
Stour. "Newton" is on the west side of the river and looks as old as
its neighbour. The two are connected by a medieval bridge of six
arches. Sturminster Church was almost entirely rebuilt, except for the
tower, nearly a hundred years ago. Newton Castle was once a stronghold
of the Kings of Wessex. A few scanty remnants of the fortress can
still be seen close to the road and river. A road to the north passes
by Hinton St. Mary, with a rebuilt church high up on a breezy hill,
and reaches Marnhull, the "Marlott" of Thomas Hardy. The Early English
church has some remains of an early Norman building and some later
insertions. The tower is a landmark for many miles around. A careful
restoration some years ago brought to light several interesting
details that had been hidden for some two hundred years or more;
including a stairs to the rood-loft, a squint, and the piscina. The
alabaster effigies on a cenotaph are believed to represent Lord Bindon
and his wives (about 1450). The following remarkable epitaph on a
former clerk is said to have been written by his rector:

  HERE UNDER THIS STONE
  LIE RUTH AND OLD JOHN
  WHO SMOKED ALL HIS LIFE
  AND SO DID HIS WIFE:
  AND NOW THERES NO DOUBT
  BUT THEIR PIPES ARE BOTH OUT
  BE IT SAID WITHOUT JOKE
  THAT LIFE IS BUT SMOKE;
  THOUGH YOU LIVE TO FORESCORE
  TIS A WHIFF AND NO MORE.

A short distance to the north, through the hamlet of Flanders, is the
fine sixteenth-century mansion called Nash Court.

An alternative road to the Blandford highway follows the river and
rail through Shillingstone, an interesting village that had a year or
two since (and may still have) a maypole; a beautiful village cross;
and a much restored Norman and Early English church containing a
pulpit presented by a Londoner who sought sanctuary from the great
plague. The road then goes by Broad Oak and over Sturminster Common to
Okeford Fitzpaine, Banbury Hill Camp being passed on the right about
half way. Okeford has a church interesting to the antiquary. It has a
Decorated west window that is said to have been turned inside out.
Part of the ancient screen and rood-loft still remain, together with a
piscina in the chancel. It is said that the upper part of the pulpit
was at one time used as a font. The old font, restored, for many years
formed part of the wall of the churchyard. The road continues up the
long tongue of Okeford Hill with wide retrospective views. At the
summit a by-way turns to the right along the ridge, which gradually
increases in height until it reaches its summit three miles away at
Bulbarrow Hill (902 feet) just above Rawlsbury Camp. The magnificent
view up Blackmore Vale and northwestwards toward Yeovil is worth the
journey to see. Rawlsbury is a prehistoric circular entrenchment with
a double wall and ditch. Stoke Wake village is just below and
Mappowder is about two miles away by the fields, but much farther by
road. This last is an old-world hamlet eight miles from a railway,
where curfew is still rung in the winter. In the church is an
interesting miniature effigy that probably marks the shrine of a
crusader's heart.

Continuing over Okeford Hill the road presently drops to Turnworth
House at the head of a long narrow valley leading down to a string of
"Winterborne" villages (or more correctly--Winter_bourne_). The
situation of the mansion and village is very beautiful and very
lonely. Few seem to wish to brave the long ascent of the hill and one
can pass from Okeford to Turnworth many times without meeting a
solitary wayfarer. Turnworth Church is Early English, rebuilt on the
exact lines of the old fabric and retaining the ancient tower.

The first of the Winterbournes--Strickland, lies a long mile beyond
Hedgend Farm, where we turn sharp to the left and traverse a very
lonely road, sometimes between close woods and rarely in sight of
human habitation until the drop to the Stour brings us to Blandford
Forum, a pleasant, bright and clean town built within a wide loop of
the river that here begins to assume the dignity of a navigable
stream, crawling lazily among the water meadows, with back-waters and
cuts that bring to mind certain sections of the Upper Thames. The two
fine thoroughfares--Salisbury and East Streets--which meet in the wide
market place are lined with buildings, dating from 1732 or later, for
in 1731 a great fire, the last of a series, destroyed almost the whole
of the town and its suburbs. The old town pump, now a drinking
fountain, records that it was "humbly erected ... in grateful
Acknowledgement of the Divine Mercy, That has since raised this Town,
Like the Phoenix from its Ashes, to its present flourishing and
beautiful State." Several lives were lost in this disaster and the
great church of SS. Peter and Paul perished with everything that
previous fires had spared. The present erection is well enough as a
specimen of the Classic Renaissance, but need not detain us. At one
time Blandford was a town of various industries, from lace making to
glass painting, but it is now purely an agricultural centre.

[Illustration: BLANDFORD.]

Blandford St. Mary is the suburb on the west side of the Stour. The
Perpendicular church has a tower and chancel belonging to a much
earlier period. A former rector was an ancestor of the great Pitt, and
one of the family--"Governor" Pitt, is buried in the north aisle. The
family lived at Down House on the hills to the westward. A more
ancient family, the d'Amories, lived at Damory Court near the town.
The famous Damory's Oak is no more. Its hollow trunk served as shelter
for a whole family who were rendered homeless by the great fire. An
old barn not far from the Court is said to have been a chapel
dedicated to St. Leonard; it still retains its ecclesiastical doors
and windows.

[Illustration: MILTON ABBEY.]

The seven miles of undulating and dusty road westwards from Blandford,
that we have partly traversed from Winterbourne Strickland, leads to
Milton Abbas, a charming village surrounded by verdured hills and deep
leafy combes. Here is the famous Abbey founded by King Athelstan for
Benedictines. The monks' refectory, all that remains of the conventual
buildings, indicates the former splendour of the establishment. The
abbey church, built in the twelfth century, was destroyed during a
thunderstorm after standing for about two hundred years; the present
building is therefore a study in Decorated and Perpendicular styles.
It is, after Sherborne and Wimborne, the finest church in Dorset. The
pinnacled tower is much admired, but the shortness of the building
detracts from its effectiveness. It is not certain that the church
ever had a nave, though the omission seems improbable. The interior is
usually shown on Thursdays, when the grounds of the modern "Abbey" are
open to the public. Within the church the fifteenth-century reredos,
the sedilia and stalls, and the pre-Reformation tabernacle for
reserving the consecrated elements (a very rare feature) should be
noticed. Two ancient paintings of unknown age, probably dating from
the early fifteenth century, and several tombs, complete the list of
interesting items. The ancient market town that once surrounded the
Abbey was swept away when the mansion was erected in 1780, so that the
present village is of the "model" variety and was built by the first
Earl of Dorchester soon after his purchase of the property over one
hundred and fifty years ago. Church, almshouses and inn, all date from
the same period. Time has softened the formality of the plan, and
Milton is now a pleasant old-world place enough, somnolent and rarely
visited by the stray tourist, but well worthy of his attention. The
church contains a Purbeck marble font from the abbey, but otherwise is
as uninteresting as one might expect from its appearance. Milton was
originally Middletown from its position in the centre of Dorset.

Three miles down stream from Blandford, near Spettisbury, is the
earthwork called Crawford Castle. An ancient bridge of nine arches
here crosses the Stour to Tarrant Crawford, where was once the Abbey
of a Cistercian nunnery. Scanty traces of the buildings remain in the
vicinity of the early English church. This village is the first of a
long series of "Tarrants" that run up into the remote highlands of
Cranborne Chase. Buzbury Rings is the name of another prehistoric
entrenchment north of the village; it is on the route of an ancient
trackway which runs in a direction that would seem to link Maiden
Castle, near Dorchester, with the distant mysteries of Salisbury
Plain.

For the traveller who has the time to explore the Tarrant villages a
delightful journey is in store. Although there is nothing among them
of surpassing interest, the twelve or fifteen-mile ramble would be a
further revelation of the unspoilt character and quiet beauty of this
corner of Dorset. Pimperne village, on the Blandford-Salisbury road,
where there is a ruined cross on the village green and a rebuilt
church still retaining its old Norman door, is on the direct way to
Tarrant Hinton, just over four miles from Blandford. Here a lane turns
right and left following the Tarrant-brook that gives its name to the
seven hamlets upon its banks. Hinton Church is beautifully placed on
the left of this by-way which, on its way to Tarrant Gunville,
presently passes Eastbury Park, a mile to the north. Only a fragment
of the once famous house is left. The original building was a
magnificent erection comparable with Blenheim, and built by the same
architect--Vanburgh--for George Dodington, one time Lord of the
Admiralty. The property came to his descendant, the son of a Weymouth
apothecary named Bubb, who had married into the family. George Budd
Dodington became a _persona grata_ at court, lent money to Frederick
Prince of Wales, and finished, at a cost of L140,000, the building his
grandfather had commenced. This wealthy commoner, after a career at
Eastbury as a patron of the arts, was created Lord Melcombe possibly
for his services to the son of George II. At his death the property
passed to Earl Temple who was unable to afford the upkeep and
eventually the greater portion of this "folly" was demolished. The
lane that turns south from the Salisbury high-road goes through
Tarrants Launceston--Monckton--Rawston--Rushton and Keynston and
finishes at Tarrant Crawford that we have just seen is in the valley
of the Stour.

Two roads run northwards to Shaftesbury from Blandford. One, the hill
way, leaves the Salisbury road half a mile from the town and, passing
another earthwork on Pimperne Down, makes for the lonely and beautiful
wooded highlands of Cranborne Chase, with but one village--Melbury
Abbas--in the long ten miles of rough and hilly road. The other, and
main, highway keeps to the river valley as far as Stourpaine, and then
bears round the base of Hod Hill, where there is a genuine Roman camp
inside an older trench. Large quantities of pottery and coins
belonging to the Roman period have been found here and are stored in
various collections. The way is now picturesquely beautiful as it goes
by Steepleton Iwerne, that has a little church lost behind the only
house in the hamlet, and Iwerne Courtenay. The last-named village is
off the main road to the left, but a by-path can be taken which leads
through it. The poorly designed Perpendicular church (with a Decorated
tower) was erected, or rather rebuilt, as late as 1641. The building
is famous as the prison for those guerilla fighters of the Civil War
called "Clubmen," who consisted mostly of better class farmers and
yeomanry. They had assembled on Hambledon Hill, the great entrenched
eminence to the west of the village, and seem to have been officered
by the country clergy. At least they appear to have greatly chagrined
Cromwell, although he spoke of them in a very disparaging way, and
deprecated their fighting qualities. Iwerne Minster, the next village
on the road, possesses a very fine cruciform church of dates varying
from Norman to Perpendicular, though the main structure is in the
later style. The stone spire is rare for Dorset. Iwerne Minster House
is a modern mansion in a very beautiful park and is the residence of
one of the Ismays of steamship fame. Sutton Waldron has a modern
church, but Fontmell Magna, two miles from Iwerne Minster, will
profitably detain the traveller. Here is an actual village maypole,
restored of course, and a beautiful Perpendicular church, also
restored, but unspoilt. The lofty tower forms an exquisite picture
with the mellow roofs of the village, the masses of foliage, and the
surrounding hills. The fine east window is modern and was presented by
Lord Wolverton, a one-time Liberal Whip, who was a predecessor of the
Ismays at Iwerne Minster House. The west window is to his memory.
Compton Abbas, a mile farther, has a rebuilt church. The charm of the
situation, between Elbury Hill and Fontmell Down, will be appreciated
as the traveller climbs up the slope beyond the village toward Melbury
Down (863 feet), another fine view-point. As the road descends to the
head waters of the Stour, glimpses of the old town on St. John's Hill
are occasionally obtained on the left front and, after another stiff
climb, we join the Salisbury road half a mile short of High Street.

Shaftesbury is not only Shaston to Mr. Hardy, but to the natives also,
and, as will be seen presently, it had at least two other names in the
distant past. It is one of the most romantically placed inland towns
in England and would bear comparison with Bridgenorth, were it not
that the absence of a broad river flowing round the base of the hill
entirely alters the character of the situation. According to Geoffrey
of Monmouth it was founded by Hudibras, son of the builder of
Caerleon, and was called Mount Paladur (Palladour). It was without
doubt a Roman town, as the foundations of Roman buildings were
discovered while excavations were being made in High Street about
twenty years ago. Alfred rebuilt the town and founded St. Mary's
Abbey, with his daughter Aethelgiva as first abbess. The removal of
the body of the martyred Edward hither from Wareham, after his murder
at Corfe Castle, gave Shaftesbury a wide renown and caused thousands
of pilgrims to flock to the miracle-working shrine. For a time it was
known as Eadwardstow and the Abbess was a lady of as much secular
importance as a Baron. The magnificent Abbey Church was as imposing as
any we have left to us, but not a vestige remains except the
fragmentary wall on Gold's Hill and the foundations quite recently
uncovered and surveyed. One of the most interesting discoveries is
that of a twisted column in the floor of the crypt that is thought to
be part of the martyr's shrine.

[Illustration: GOLD HILL, SHAFTESBURY.]

Shaftesbury once had twelve churches, but one only of the old
structures remain. This is a fine Perpendicular building of simple
plan, chancel and nave being one. The tower is noble in its fine
proportions and the north side of the nave aisle is beautifully
ornamented and embattled. Holy Trinity and St. James' are practically
new churches, although rebuilt on the ground plans of the original
structures. On the west side of the first-named is a walk called "The
Park" that would make the fortune of any inland health resort, so
magnificent is the view and so glorious the air. The hill on which the
town is built rises abruptly from the valley in a steep escarpment, so
that the upper end of High Street is 700 feet above the sea. There is
therefore only one practicable entrance, by way of the Salisbury road.
Of actual ancient buildings there are few, although at one time there
was some imposing medieval architecture in this "city set on a hill,"
if we may believe the old writers. It once boasted a castle besides
the Hostel of St. John Baptist and its many churches. It may have been
in this castle that Canute died in 1035.

The station for Shaftesbury is Semley, just over the Wilts border, but
it is proposed to take the longer journey to Gillingham, nearly four
miles north-west, which is the next station on the South Western main
line. This was once the centre of a great Royal "Chase," disforested
by Charles I. It was also the historic scene of the Parliament called
to elect Edward Confessor to the throne, and at "Slaughter Gate," just
outside the town, Edmund Ironside saved Wessex for the Saxons by
defeating Canute in 1016. The foundations of "King's Court Palace,"
between Ham Common and the railway, show the site of the hunting lodge
of Henry III and the Plantagenet kings. Gillingham church was spoilt
by a drastic early nineteenth-century restoration. The chancel belongs
to the Decorated period. There are several interesting tombs and a
memorial of a former vicar over the arch of the tower. He was
dispossessed as a "malignant" during the Commonwealth, but returned at
the Restoration.

Gillingham cannot show many old houses and it has the appearance of a
busy and flourishing manufacturing town of the smaller sort without
any of the sordid accompaniments of such places. Its commercial
activities--pottery and tile-making, breweries and flour mills, linen
and silk manufacture, are mostly modern and have been fostered by the
exceptional railway facilities. In its Grammar school, founded in 1526
by John Grice, it still has a first-rate educational establishment
with the added value of a notable past, for here was educated
Clarendon, the historian of the Great Rebellion, and several other
famous men.

[Illustration: SALISBURY CATHEDRAL.]




CHAPTER IX

SALISBURY AND THE RIVERS


There are three obvious ways of approaching Salisbury from Shaftesbury
and the west: by railway from Semley; by the main road, part of the
great trunk highway from London to Exeter via Yeovil; and by a kind of
loop road that leaves this at Whitesand Cross and follows the valley
of the Ebble between the lonely hills of Cranborne Chase and the long
line of chalk downs that have their escarpment to the north,
overlooking the Exeter road. These are all good ways, but there is
even a fourth, only practicable for good walkers, that keeps to the
top of the Downs until the Salisbury Race Course above Netherhampton
is reached. This is a splendid route, with magnificent views to the
left and north, and some to be lingered over in the opposite
direction, and the finest of all when the slender needle of Salisbury
spire pierces the blue ahead.

Three miles out of Shaftesbury a road leaves the main route on the
left for Donhead St. Mary; another by-way from this village joins the
highway farther on and adds but a mile or so to the journey. The
church, high up on its hill, is an interesting structure, mainly
Norman and Early English with some sixteenth-century additions. The
round font belongs to the older style. A memorial to one Antonio
Guillemot should be noticed. He was a refugee Carthusian, who came
here with some brother monks during the French Terror. They found
sanctuary at a farm-house placed at their disposal by Lord Arundell of
Wardour, and now called the "Priory," because of its associations. Not
far from the village is Castle Rings, an encampment from which there
is a grand view of the Wilts and Somerset borderland. In one of the
chalky combes just below the hill is an old Quaker burial ground, as
remote and lonely as the more famous Jordans ground was before the
American visitor began to make that a place of pilgrimage. Donhead St.
Andrew, a mile from St. Mary's, is in an entirely different situation
to the latter, the Perpendicular church being at the bottom of a deep
hollow. Both villages are very charming.

The main route continues amid surroundings of much beauty, with the
well-named White Sheet Hill to the right and the wooded and hummocky
outline of Ansty Hill to the left, until the turning for the latter
makes a good excuse for leaving the high road once more. Ansty
village, seven miles from Shaftesbury, is unremarkable in itself, but
has close by it one of the most picturesque and historic ruins in
Wiltshire. The demolition of Wardour Castle came about in this wise.
At the outbreak of the Civil War the owner, Sir Thomas Arundell, was
away from home with the army around the King. Lady Arundell decided to
defend the Castle with the small force at her disposal, barely fifty
men all told, but helped and sustained by the women servants, who kept
the garrison fed and supplied with ammunition. This handful of
defenders held at bay for five days a well-armed force of 1,300 men
commanded by Sir Edward Hungerford, and made good terms for itself
before marching out. These, however, were not faithfully kept by the
Roundheads who, in occupying the Castle, were commanded by Edmund
Ludlow. Sir Thomas (or Lord Arundell, his title had not then received
formal recognition) died of wounds received in one of the western
battles just after the capitulation and his son in turn laid siege to
his own home. The resistance was as stubborn as his mother's had been,
the force within the Castle being many times as great. All hope of
dislodging the Roundheads being lost, the New Lord of Wardour resolved
to blow up the walls with mines, placed beneath them under cover of
darkness. This was done to such good purpose that the garrison, or all
that was left of it, was forced at once to surrender.

[Illustration: WARDOUR CASTLE.]

The castle and estates had been acquired from the Grevilles by the
Arundells, an old Cornish family, in the early sixteenth century. The
Arundells were convinced Catholics, and the first of the family to own
Wardour was beheaded in 1552 "as a rebel and traitor" or rather, "as
his conscience was of more value to him than his head." As we see the
building to day it forms a fine example of fifteenth-century
architecture, despite its dismantled state. The walls are fairly
perfect and the eastern entrance with its two towers, approached by a
stately terrace, is most imposing. The gateway is surmounted by an
inscription referring to the two Arundells of the Great Rebellion;
above is a niche containing a bust of Christ and the words "SUB NOMINE
TUO STET GENUS ET DOMUS." The entrance to the stairs, an arch in the
Classic Renaissance style, is a picturesque and much-admired corner of
the ruin.

Not much can be said for the aspect of the new Castle, a building
erected in the eighteenth century. It is a museum of art and contains
many treasures by Rembrandt, Holbein, Velasquez, Vandyke and other
great masters and, most interesting of all, a portrait of Lady Blanche
Arundell, the defender of the Castle. She was a granddaughter of
Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, and so came of an heroic and kingly
line. Another famous relic is a wooden chalice made from the
Glastonbury Thorn, and the splendid (so-called) Westminster chasuble
is preserved in the chapel.

On the high road Swallowcliffe; Sutton Mandeville, with a partly
Norman church; Fovant, nearly opposite Chislebury Camp and with
another (restored) Norman church; and Compton Chamberlaine are passed,
all being a short distance off the road to the left, before it drops
for the last time into the valley of the Nadder. Near the last village
is Compton Park, the home of that Colonel Penruddocke who, in 1655,
led a small body of horsemen into Salisbury and proclaimed Charles II,
at the same time seizing the machinery of law and government. But the
"rising" was not popular; the Colonel got no assistance from the
townspeople and the affair led to his death upon the scaffold.

The most profitable way of approaching Salisbury is to continue
northwards from Ansty by a lane that eventually descends to Tisbury
on the headwaters of the Nadder. This small town has a station on the
South Western main line and a large cruciform church, situated at the
foot of the steep hill on which the town is built. Its present nave is
Early English, but an earlier Transitional building once stood on the
site. The tower is more curious than beautiful and the quaint top
story may be contemporary with the chancel, an addition of the early
seventeenth century. The latter has an elaborately ornamented ceiling
and is the resting place of Lady Blanche Arundell and also of Sir
Thomas, first Lord Wardour, who distinguished himself as a late
crusader in 1595 at the battle of Gran in Hungary, when he captured a
Turkish standard. His helmet is fixed to the wall above his tomb.
Place House, once a grange of Shaftesbury Abbey, at the end of the
village, is an early Tudor manor. The fine gate-house and the
tithe-barn at the side of the entrance court are good specimens of the
domestic architecture of the period. The buildings form a picturesque
group and the all too brief glimpse of them from the railway has
probably caused many travellers thereon to break their journey.

A short two miles to the north of Tisbury, in a lovely district of
wooded hills, is Fonthill Giffard. The church, erected in the Early
English style in 1866, will not detain the visitor, though one might
well be disposed to linger in the charming village. The great "lion"
of this district was the famous and extraordinary Fonthill Abbey, an
amazing erection in sham Gothic, built by Wyatt, that "infamous
dispoiler, misnamed architect" to the order of the eccentric author of
_Vathek_--William Beckford, heir of a wealthy London merchant who was
twice Lord Mayor and died a millionaire. Contemporary prints are
occasionally met with in curiosity shops that bring vividly before us
this specimen of the "Gothic madness" of our great grandfathers. An
enormous octagonal tower arises from the centre of the strange pile of
buildings, which is in the form of a cross with arms of equal length.
Pinnacle and gargoyles, moulding and ornaments, all clashing and at
war with each other, are stuck on anywhere and everywhere; the
nightmare dream of a medievalist. If this was the fruit of Beckford's
brain nothing more need be said. If that of Wyatt's, we can but be
thankful that he did not live long enough to have the commission for
building the present Palace of Westminster. A pile that as it is, is
only too reminiscent of the florid imaginings of the Gothic revival.

The expensive eccenticities of Beckford--he was a collector of
everything costly--brought about the sale of Fonthill and a retirement
to Bath. Not long after the new owner, a millionaire named Farquhar,
had entered into possession, the central tower fell and ruined most of
the "gingerbread" beneath. Perhaps the best thing Wyatt ever did was
his architectural work in the foundations of this sham "abbey."

The present Fonthill House has a small portion of Wyatt's building
incorporated with it. Half a mile away is the new Fonthill Abbey
(so-called). It was erected by the Marquis of Westminster in 1859 and
is in the Scottish Baronial style. The situation, overlooking a sheet
of water formed out of one of the feeders of the Nadder, is beautiful
in the extreme. To the north-west is Beckford's Tower--one of the many
he built (he is buried under one of them at Bath)--from which there is
a glorious view of the hills, woods and waters of this fair country
side. Hindon, about two miles north-west of Fonthill Giffard, is a
small town fallen from the ancient state that it held when it refused
Disraeli the honour of representing it in Parliament. Its pleasant
situation in the midst of the wooded hills that surround it on all
sides, the quiet old houses and dreamy main street beneath the shady
trees that were planted in honour of the marriage of Edward VII, make
its only claim on the notice of the passing tourist. Not far from
Hindon and about three miles from Fonthill Giffard is East Knoyle, the
birthplace of Sir Christopher Wren in 1632. He was a son of its
rector.

From Tisbury a road goes eastwards down the valley of the Nadder
through the small hamlet of Chicksgrove to Teffont Evias, or Ewyas,
the name of the former lords of the manor. This village is most
delightfully situated on high ground above the Nadder. The
sixteenth-century manor house, the rectory and the beautiful church,
are all of much interest. The church was built in the fifteenth
century and has a fine western tower and spire. The Ley Chapel
contains a number of monuments to that family, and the mosaics
representing the Angelic Choir over the east window strike an uncommon
note for a country church. Beyond Teffont Magna, where there is a very
small and ancient church, are the famous quarries which supplied some
of the stone for Salisbury Cathedral and were almost certainly worked
by the Romans. They are now roomy caverns, that, like Tilly Whim at
Swanage, have every appearance of being natural.

Continuing towards Salisbury, the first village passed through is
Dinton, the birthplace of Clarendon, historian of the Civil War. Then
comes Baverstock, with a restored Decorated church, and lastly, before
reaching Wilton, Barford St. Martin. Here is an Early English
cruciform church with one or two interesting features, including an
ancient effigy near the altar, in what appears to be a winding sheet.
The road through these villages, or rather tapping them--the first two
are slightly off the main route to the left--keeps to the north side
of the Nadder valley, at first under the wooded escarpment of the
Middle Hills where are the prehistoric remains of Hanging Langford
Camp, Churchend Ring and Bilbury Ring: and then under the great
expanse of Grovely Wood, which clothes the lonely hills dividing the
valleys of Wylye and Nadder, covered with evidences of an age so far
away that the Roman road from Old Sarum, traversing the summit of the
hills, is a work of yesterday by comparison.

Wilton is an exceedingly interesting place if one considers its
history. It took its name from the Wylye and gave it to the shire. It
was the ancient capital of the Wilsaetas and antedated Old Sarum as
the seat of their bishop. It only just missed being the first town of
the county when Bishop Poore preferred an entirely fresh site for his
new Cathedral after shaking the tainted dust of Old Sarum from off his
feet.

The position of the town, on the tongue of land between the two rivers
just above their meeting place, is ideal as a stronghold and an
imposing position in other ways, but the Wilton of to-day is small and
rather mean in its streets and houses and without any important
remains of its ancient past. Its history begins with the battle of
Ellandune between Mercia and Wessex, in which the victor--Egbert of
the West Saxon line--made good his claim to be overlord of England. It
was here that the greater West Saxon, Alfred, defeated the Danish
invaders, and here again Sweyn turned the tables and burnt and slew in
true pirate fashion. A house of Benedictine nuns was founded in Wilton
at an early date and was enlarged and re-endowed by Alfred. St. Edyth,
one of the nuns, was a daughter of King Eadgar and Wulftrude, who had
been a nun herself. When the Queen died Wulftrude refused to become
the King's consort, and eventually became Abbess of Wilton. The site
of the Abbey is now occupied by Wilton House.

[Illustration: WILTON HOUSE. HOLBEIN FRONT.]

According to Leland "the chaunging of this (Icknield) way was the
total course of the ruine of Old Sarisbyri and Wiltoun, for afore
Wiltoun had twelve paroche churches or more, and was the hedde town of
Wilshire." This refers to the new bridge built at Harnham to divert
the route to the south-west through the new city. Still, the collapse
was not utter and the position of the town was enough to save it from
total ruin. Cloth making and the wool trade generally persisted for
many years, and the making of carpets ("Wilton Pile") has persisted to
the present day, despite competition and some anxious years for the
manufacturers.

Of the few unimportant relics of the past may be mentioned the old
Town Cross that stands against the churchyard wall, and the chapel of
St. John in Ditchampton, part of a hospital founded in 1189 by Bishop
Hurbert of Sarum. St. Giles' Hospital, originally for lepers, was
founded by Adeliza, consort of Henry I, and rebuilt in 1624. Wilton
church is as unusual as it is imposing. It was built by Lord Herbert
of Lea while still the Hon. Sidney Herbert. Though the style seems out
of keeping with an ordinary English countryside there is something
about the high banks of foliage surrounding the town that gives the
Italian campanile an almost natural air. The church is in the
Lombardic style and the grand flight of steps, the triple porches and
beautiful cloisters connecting the tower with the main building, are
exceedingly fine. No less imposing is the ornate and costly interior.
In its wealth of marbles and mosaics it is almost without parallel in
England. The two handsome tombs of alabaster in the chancel are those
of Lord Herbert of Lea and his mother. Not the least interesting
feature of this unique church is the fine stained glass in the windows
of the apse, dating from the thirteenth century.

Wilton House stands in a beautiful park that comes almost up to the
doors of the town. The waters of the Nadder as they flow through the
glades have been broadened into a long lake-like expanse spanned by a
very beautiful Palladian bridge. This is the home of the Earls of
Pembroke and Montgomery. Their ancestors were an ancient Welsh family
and great friends of their compatriots, the Tudor sovereigns. Here, as
constant and welcome guests, came Ben Jonson, Edmund Spencer and
Philip Massinger, who was a son of one of the Earl's servants. Here
_As You Like It_ is said to have been played before James I, with
Shakespeare himself as one of the company. Gloriana was a visitor in
1573 and attempted to flirt with Sir Philip Sidney, brother-in-law of
the host, presenting him with one of her auburn locks. Here Sir Philip
wrote a good part of the _Arcadia_. It will be seen that Wilton was a
home for all who had the divine fire within them. Gentle George
Herbert, a relative and esteemed friend, could often come from near-by
Bemerton, and Izaak Walton, who was here collecting material for the
"Life" of his hero, no doubt spent some happy days in contemplation of
the clear waters of the Nadder. Charles I was another visitor, and by
him certain suggestions are said to have been made for some of the
alterations and additions of the seventeenth century. The original
building which followed the dismantled Abbey was designed by Holbein,
but this has almost disappeared except for the central portion over
the gateway. Wyatt was allowed to stick some of his sham Gothic
enormities over the older work about the time he was designing
Fonthill, but an era of better taste soon got rid of these and the
present fronts are Italian in style and very lordly and imposing. The
great hall contains the Vandyck portraits for which Wilton is
preeminently famous, but there are other great masters, including
Rubens, Titian and del Sarto to be seen by those interested, besides a
collection of armour hardly to be surpassed in the country. These
treasures are shown at certain times.

[Illustration: BEMERTON CHURCH.]

Although a pleasant and retired little place, Bemerton would not be of
much interest were it not for its associations with the "singer of
surpassing sweetness," the author of _The Temple_. George Herbert
became rector here in 1630 and died two years later, aged 42. He lies
within the altar rails of the church and the tablet above is simply
inscribed G.H., 1633. The lines on the Parsonage wall and written by
the parson-poet were originally above the chimney inside. They run
thus:--

  "If thou chance for to find
  A new house to thy mind,
  And built without any cost,
  Be good to the poor
  As God gives thee store
  And then thy labour's not lost."

In the garden that slopes down to the river there was quite recently,
and may be still, an old and gnarled medlar planted by Herbert. The
well-known painting "George Herbert at Bemerton" by W. Dyce, R.A., in
the Guildhall Art Gallery, gives an excellent picture of the calm
grace of the surroundings and of the heavenly spire of the Cathedral
soaring up into the skies a mile away. The fine new memorial church at
Bemerton is used for the regular Sunday services and Herbert's little
old church for worship on weekdays. It is pleasant to think that the
bells which sound so sweetly across the meadows, as we take the
footpath way to Salisbury, are those that were rung by Herbert when he
first entered his church.

The City of Salisbury, or officially, New Sarum, is a regularly built,
spacious and clean county capital that would be of interest and
attraction if there were no glorious cathedral to grace and adorn it.
As a matter of fact, cathedral towns away from the immediate precincts
suffer from the overshadowing character of the great churches, that
take most of the honour and glory to themselves. This is, of course
but right, and the discerning traveller will keep the even balance
between the human interest of court and alley and market place and the
awed reverence that must be felt by the most materialistic of us when
we come within the immediate influence of these solemn sanctuaries, of
which Salisbury is the most perfect in the land.

[Illustration: OLD SARUM.]

It is impossible to give the merest outline of the history of
Salisbury without first referring to that of Old Sarum, or
Sorbiodunum, two miles to the north. The huge mound on the edge of the
Plain was doubtless a prehistoric fortress, though of a much simpler
form than the three-terraced enclosure of twenty-seven acres that we
see there to-day. In Roman times the importance of this advanced
outpost of chalk, commanding the approach to the lower valley of the
Avon, would be appreciated. But it would appear from recent
investigations that little was done to elaborate the defences.
Nevertheless Sorbiodunum was an important Roman town and stood on the
junction of two great thoroughfares--the Icknield Way and the Port
Way. The recent excavations, interfered with to a large extent by the
late war, have been so disappointing in the lack of Roman relics that
a suggestion has been made by Sir W.H. St. John Hope that the true
site of the Roman town may have been at Stratford, just below the
mound to the north-west. It is possible that further excavations will
settle the question.

After the Saxon invasion, Sarobyrig, as it was then called, probably
assumed its present outline so far as the foundation of the walls are
concerned. That a mint of Canute (who according to one tradition, died
here and not at Shaftesbury) and again of Edward Confessor was set up,
and that the town became the seat of the Bishop of Sherborne, was a
proof of its established importance. The smaller central mound of the
citadel itself would appear to have been a work of the Normans, who
divided the space occupied within the outer defences into two parts;
that on the east belonging to the military works, and the western half
pertaining to the Bishop and having within it the original Salisbury
Cathedral. Here was instituted by Bishop Osmund the new English ritual
or "use of Sarum," and here commenced those endless squabbles between
clergy and soldiers that at last resulted in the men of peace leaving
the fortress city.

  ("Quid Domini Domus in Castro, nisi foederis arca
  In Tempho Baalim? Carcer uterque locus,
  Est ibi defectus aquae, sed copia cretae,
  Saevit ibi ventus, sed philomela silet.")

The commission to inquire into the proposed change was appointed by the
Pope in 1217, and from this year begins the rapid decay of Old Sarum.
The Cathedral was dismantled and much of the material was used in the
new structure in the plain. That the original was a noble building
existing records and ultimate discoveries amply prove. The ground plan
was well seen in the dry summer of 1834, when measurements were taken
and the total length found to be 270 feet. The first church was
seriously damaged by a thunderbolt five days after its consecration,
and the original plan was much elaborated in the rebuilding--

  "So gret lytnynge was the vyfte yer, so that al to nogt
  The rof of the chyrch of Salesbury it broute,
  Ryght evene vyfte day that he yhalwed was."
                             (Robert of Gloucester.)

Of the castle not so much is known. Leland says in 1540:--"Ther was a
right fair and strong castella within _Old-Saresbyri_ longing to the
Erles of Saresbyri especially the Longerpees. I read that one
Gualterus was the first Erle after the conquest of it. Much ruinus
building of this castelle yet ther remayneth. The dich that environed
the old town was a very deepe and strong Thynge," and again
"_Osmunde_, erle of _Dorchestre_, and after Bishop of Saresbyri,
erected his Cathedrale church ther in the west part of the town; and
also his palace; whereof now no token is but only a chapel of Our Lady
yet standing and mainteynid.... Ther was a paroch of the Holy Rode
beside in _Old-Saresbyri_ and another over the est gate Whereof some
tokens remayne. I do not perceyve that there are any mo gates in
Old-Saresbyri than 2; one by est and another by west. Without eche of
these gates was a fair suburbe. On the est suburbe was a paroche
church of S. John; and ther yet is a chapel standing. The river is a
good quarter of a myle from Old-Saresbyri and more, where it is nerest
on to it, and that is at Stratford village south from it. Ther hath
bene houses in tyme of mind inhabited in the est suburbe of
Old-Saresbyri; but now there is not one house neither within
Old-Saresbyri nor without it inhabited."

It will be seen that in comparison with other English towns Salisbury
is not old. Like several others its foundations were entirely
ecclesiastical, for as soon as the builders of the new Cathedral
started upon their work the civil population of Old Sarum migrated to
the water meadows with as little delay as possible, and the Bishop's
architects planned for them a town with regular streets and square
blocks of dwellings all much of a size, a characteristic that will
strike the most unobservant traveller and which differentiates this
from most other English towns in a marked degree.

[Illustration: SALISBURY MARKET PLACE.]

From whichever side Salisbury has been entered; by either of the great
roads; or by the railway that, from the east, makes a long tour of the
north side of the town in kindly purpose, it would seem, to give the
passer-by a good view--there rises before him the glorious spire that,
whatever the boast of uniformity of style or perfection of design,
really gives the exterior of the building its unique beauty and
without which it would be cold and dull. To the Cathedral then, as its
spire is calling so insistently, the stranger must inevitably make his
way before troubling about anything else in the town. Our approach
happens to coincide with that of the traveller who arrives by rail,
and down Fisherton Street, an unusually winding thoroughfare for
Salisbury, over the Avon bridge and through the High Street Gate we
enter the most beautiful of those abodes of beauty--the English
cathedral closes. The guide books advise the tourist to make the first
approach by way of St. Anne's Gate, when the gradual unfolding of the
north front of the building makes a perfect introduction to the
Cathedral, but so does that of the sudden view of the whole, with the
tower and spire as an exquisite centre, as we leave the row of
well-ordered houses, mixed with a few quiet shops, that line the
approach from High Street to the north-west angle of the Close. A
pleasing presentment of Edward VII now looks down this old by-street
from the High Street Gate and is Salisbury's tribute to that lover of
peace. The Close is bordered by beautiful old houses, some quite noble
in their proportions, but likely to be overlooked by all but the most
leisured visitor. It is so difficult to look at anything but the tower
and spire, and it is best to forget that another tower, a campanile,
similar to that at Chichester, once stood on this greensward, to be
wantonly destroyed by James Wyatt. This is said to have been
garrisoned by the Parliamentary army during the Civil War. The
Deanery, opposite the west door, is a quaintly charming building and
the gabled King's House is said to date from the fourteenth century.
No incongruous note ever seems to mar the serenity of the great green
square. The passers-by all apparently fit their environment;
schoolgirls in their teens, fresh faced and happy; clergy of the
Chapter, true type of the modern intellectual priest; an occasional
workman employed about the Cathedral, upon whom its impress has
visibly descended; quaint imps in Elizabethan ruffles playing a
seemingly sedate game upon the lawn while their companions are singing
in the choir; the ordinary sightseers who, apart from bank holidays,
always seem to arrive at the same times and in the same twos and
threes, and put on, as do the inevitable butchers' and bakers' youths,
a cloak of decorous quiet when they enter the guardian gateways.

[Illustration: HIGH STREET GATE.]

The Cathedral was commenced in 1220 by Bishop Poore and took about
forty years to build, but this period did not include the erection of
the tower and spire which were later additions. The fine and generally
admired west front is, from an architect's point of view, the only
part of the exterior that is not admirable. It is in actual fact,
fraudulent, just as the whole of the upper wall of St. Paul's
Cathedral is an artistic untruth. The west wall of Salisbury is a
screen without professing to be one. The porches are very small in
relation to the great flattish expanse of masonry above them; the
dullness of this was much relieved by the series of statues placed in
the empty niches about the middle of the last century. The original
medieval figures almost all disappeared through the zeal of the
Puritans.

Even the most careless glance down the long outline of the walls,
artistically broken by the two transepts, but never losing the regular
continuity of design, will show the observer that this perfect Early
English building was an inspiration of one brain and that the many
hands that worked for that brain carried out their tasks as a
religious rite. The glory of the tower as we see it was not part of
the original plan, though that undoubtedly included some such crown
and consummation of the noble work beneath. But although the tower and
spire are of a later period--the Decorated, they blend so
harmoniously with the earlier building that all might have arisen in
one twelve months instead of being labours spread over one hundred
years. The rash courage which raised this great pyramid of stone, four
hundred and four feet above the sward, on the slender columns and
walls that have actually bowed under the great weight they uphold, has
often been commented upon. It has been said that the tower would have
fallen long ago had it not been for the original scaffolding that
remains within to tie and strengthen it. In the eighteenth century a
leaden casket was discovered by some workmen high in the spire,
containing a relic of our Lady, to whom the Cathedral is dedicated. In
the summer of 1921 the steeplejacks employed to test the lightning
conductor found that the iron cramps had rusted to such an extent as
to split the stonework. A band of iron within the base of the spire in
process of rusting is said to have raised the great mass of stone
fully half an inch. The iron is now being replaced by gun-metal.

The great church is entered by the north porch, and the immediate
effect of august beauty is not at first tempered by the impression of
coldness that gradually makes itself felt as we compare, from memory,
the interior with that of Winchester or even some of the less
important churches we have visited. But this is perhaps only a
temporary fault, and when the windows of the nave are rejewelled with
the glorious colours that shone from them before the Reformation, the
cold austerity of this part of the great church will largely
disappear. The extreme _orderliness_ of the architectural conception,
the numberless columns and arches ranged in stately rows, vanishing in
almost unbroken perspective, make Salisbury unique among English
cathedral interiors. An old rhyme gives the building as many pillars,
windows, and doors as there are hours, days, and months in the year.

In addition to his other questionable traits, James Wyatt must have
had something of the Prussian drill-sergeant in his nature. Under his
"restoration" scheme the tombs of bishops and knights that once gave a
picturesque confusion to the spaces of the nave were marshalled into
precise and regular order in two long lines between the columns on
each side. For congregational purposes this was and is an advantage,
but Wyatt actually lost one of his subjects in the drilling process
and so confused the remainder that the historical sequence is lost.

[Illustration: PLAN OF SALISBURY CATHEDRAL.]

It is not proposed to describe these tombs in detail. A glance at the
sketch plan on the preceding page will make the position of each quite
clear. Especially notice should be given to (10) William Longespee,
1st Earl of Salisbury; (14) Robert, Lord Hungerford; (13) Lord Charles
Stourton, who was hanged in Salisbury Market Place with a silken
halter for instigating the murder of two men named Hartgill, father
and son. A wire noose representing the rope used to hang above the
tomb. (3) The reputed tomb of a "Boy Bishop," but possibly this is
really a bishop's "heart shrine." Salisbury seems to have been in an
especial sense the home of the singular custom of electing a small lad
as bishop during the festival of Christmas. According to Canon
Fletcher in his pleasant little book on the subject lately published,
no less than twenty-one names are known of Boy Bishops who played the
part in this cathedral. Several modern memorials of much interest upon
the walls of the nave explain themselves. One, to the left of the
north porch as we enter, is to Edward Wyndham Tempest, youthful poet
and "happy warrior" who was killed in the late war. Another will
remind us that Richard Jefferies, although buried at Broadwater in
Sussex, was the son of a North Wilts yeoman and a native of the shire.

The arches at the western transepts will be found to differ from those
of the nave; they were inserted to support the weight of the tower by
Bishop Wayte in 1415 and are similar to those at Canterbury and Wells.
A brass plate was placed in the pavement during the eighteenth century
to mark the inclination of the tower, 22-1/2 inches to the south-west.
It is said that the deflection has not altered appreciably for nearly
two hundred years. The exactness of the correspondence of the
architecture in the transepts to that of the nave almost comes as a
surprise by reason of its rarity to those who are acquainted with
other English cathedrals, and brings before one very vividly the
homogeneity of the design. A number of interesting monuments, several
of them modern, occupy the two arms of the transepts. The choir
roof-painting, sadly marred by Wyatt, has been restored to something
of its former beauty, but it would seem that time alone can give the
right tone to mural decoration in churches, for there is now an effect
of harshness, especially farther east in the so-called Lady Chapel,
that is not at all pleasing. The screen of brass leading to the choir,
the greater part of the stalls, and the high altar and reredos, are
seen to be modern. The altar occupies its old position and was
restored as a memorial to Bishop Beauchamp (1482). The Bishop's
chantry was destroyed by Wyatt, who had shifted the altar to the
extreme end of the Lady Chapel, if we may use the name usually given
to the eastern extension of the Cathedral, but as the dedication of
the whole building is to the Virgin, that part may have been called
originally the Jesus, or Trinity Chapel. On the north side of the
choir is the late Gothic chantry of Bishop Audley and opposite is that
of the Hungerfords, the upper part of iron-work. On the north side of
the altar is the effigy of Bishop Poore, founder of the Cathedral; the
modern one under a canopy is that of one of his late successors,
Bishop Hamilton.

[Illustration: GATE, SOUTH CHOIR AISLE.]

The choir transepts are now reached. That on the north side, with its
inverted arch, contains, among others, the tomb of Bishop Jewel (died
1571) who despoiled the nave windows of their colour. He was the first
post-Reformation Bishop of Salisbury. Just within the entrance is the
interesting brass of Bishop Wyville, builder of the spire. It records
the recovery, through trial by combat, of Sherborne Castle for the
church. The slab of the Saint-Bishop Osmund's tomb (1099), one of
those wantonly interfered with by Wyatt and a relic of the Cathedral
of Old Sarum, has been brought from the nave to its present position
near the end of the north choir aisle and not far from its former
magnificent shrine. The chief beauty of the Lady Chapel consists in
the slender shafts of Purbeck marble that support the roof. The
tryptych altarpiece is modern, also the east window in memory of Dean
Lear. Opinion will be divided as to the merit of the roof decoration,
but time will lend its aid in the colour scheme. In this connexion may
be mentioned the means taken here as elsewhere to remove the curious
"bloom," that comes in the course of a generation or two, upon the
Purbeck marble columns. They are oiled!

Attention is again called to the sketch plan for the tombs hereabouts,
and in the south choir aisle, where especial notice should be taken of
the canopied tomb of Bishop Giles de Bridport. The muniment room,
reached from the south-east transept, contains a contemporary copy of
Magna Carta, besides many other interesting manuscripts and treasures.
The Cathedral Library is above the cloisters. Its collection of
manuscripts is magnificent, some dating as far back as the ninth
century. The windows in the cloisters are of very fine design, and
some fragments of old glass in the upper portions show that they were
once glazed. The original shafts of Purbeck marble had so decayed by
the middle of the last century that it was decided to replace them
with a more durable stone. Very beautiful is the octagonal chapter
house, entered from the east walk. The bas-reliefs below the windows
and above the seats for the clergy are of great interest. The
sculptures in the arch of the doorway should also be particularly
noticed. From a door in the cloisters there is a charming view of the
Bishop's Palace and the beautiful gardens that surround it.

An enjoyable stroll can be taken southwards to the Harnham Gate and
the banks of the Avon, and a return made by the old Hospital of St.
Nicholas, founded in 1227 by a Countess of Salisbury, and then by
Exeter Street to St. Ann's Gate at the east side of the close.
Fielding, whose grandfather was a canon of the Cathedral, is said to
have lived in a house on the south side of the gate. Dickens was
acquainted with Salisbury, but not until after he had made it the
scene of Tom Pinch's remarkable characterization--"a very desperate
sort of place; an exceedingly wild and dissipated city." It must not
be forgotten that Salisbury is the "Melchester" of the Wessex Novels
and that Trollope made the city the original of "Barchester."

[Illustration: THE POULTRY CROSS, SALISBURY.]

Continuing northwards, a wide turning on the left is termed The
"Canal." This takes us back to that time when the citizens' chief
concern was probably that of drainage, not of the domestic sort--that
did not worry them--but the draining of the water-meadows upon which
they had built their homes. About thirty years ago an elaborate scheme
for the relief of the city from this natural dampness was successfully
carried out. In this wide and usually bustling street the first house
on the right is the Council Chamber, and on the other side of the way
is the fine hall of John Halle, now a business house. The interior
should be seen for the sake of the carved oak screen at the farther
end of the banqueting room and the great stone fireplace. The
beautiful ceiling is also much admired. This was the home of a rich
wool merchant of the town, who built it about 1470. Although it has
passed through many hands and has seen many vicissitudes it has always
been known by his name. A turn to the right at the end of this street
will bring the explorer to the old Poultry Cross. The square pillar
surmounted by sundial and ball which for years supplanted the original
finial has in turn been replaced by a new canopy and cross. The
original erection has been variously ascribed to two individuals,
Lawrence de St. Martin and John de Montacute Earl of Salisbury, in
each case for the same reason, namely, as a penance for "having
carried home the Sacrament bread and eaten it for his supper," for
which he was "condemned to set up a cross in Salisbury market place
and come every Saturday of his life in shirt and breeches and there
confess his fault publickly." Not far away is the church of St. Thomas
of Canterbury, the only really interesting ecclesiastical building in
the city apart from the Cathedral. It is a very beautiful specimen of
Perpendicular and replaced a thirteenth-century church founded by
Bishop Bingham. The painting of the Last Judgment over the chancel
arch was covered with whitewash at the Reformation and the Tudor arms
were placed in front of it. About forty years ago this disfigurement
to the church was removed and the picture brought once more into the
light of day. The old font would seem to have originally belonged to
another church, as its style antedates the foundation (1220) of St.
Thomas' church. A few fragments of old stained glass remain in the
east window and in that of the Godmanstone aisle, in which aisle is an
altar tomb of one of the members of that family. Of the other churches
St. Martin's, in the south-eastern part of the city not far from the
Southampton road, is the oldest, and has an Early English chancel. St.
Edmund's, originally collegiate, was founded in 1268; it has been
almost entirely rebuilt. The Church House, near Crane Bridge, is a
Perpendicular structure, once the private house of a leading citizen
and cloth merchant named Webb. Other fine old houses are the Joiners'
Hall in St. Anne's Street and Tailors' Hall off Milford Street. The
George Inn in High Street has been restored, but its interior is very
much the same as in the early seventeenth century and part of the
structure must be nearly three hundred years older. It will be
remembered that Pepys stayed here and records that he slept in a silk
bed, had "a very good diet," but was "mad" at the exorbitant charges.
He was much impressed with the "Minster" and gave the "guide to the
Stones" (Stonehenge) two shillings. In 1623 a pronouncement was made
that all theatrical companies should give their plays at the "George."
Cromwell stayed at the inn in 1645. Salisbury seems to have been
fairly indifferent to the cut of her master's coat; Royalist and
Republican were equally welcome if they came in peace. Only one fight
is worth mentioning during the whole course of the Civil War--in which
the city was held by each party in turn--and that was the tussle in
the Close, along High Street, and in the Market Place, when Ludlow,
with only a few horsemen, held his own against overwhelming odds. The
"Catherine Wheel" long boasted a legend of a meeting of Royalists
during the Commonwealth, at which, the toast of the King having been
drunk, one of the company then proposed the health of the Devil, who
promptly appeared and amid much smoke and blue fire flew away with his
proposer out of the window. This story rather hints at a republican
spirit on the part of the townspeople. That was certainly manifested
when Colonel Penruddocke led his "forlorn hope" into the city and,
long before, when the Jack Cade rebellion gained a great number of
adherents in Salisbury.

The city had a number of these fine old inns, famous centuries before
the great days of the Exeter road. Nearly all have disappeared, but
the "White Hart" in John Street is little altered and the "Haunch of
Venison" is said to be the oldest house in the city.

In our peregrinations of the streets we have passed two statues
neither of great merit but each perpetuating the memory of men of more
than local fame. The bronze figure in front of the Council House is
that of Lord Herbert of Lea, better known perhaps as Sydney Herbert,
Minister during the Crimean War. The other is a very different manner
of man--Henry Fawcett. The memorial of the blind Postmaster-General
and great political economist stands in Queen Street, close to his
birthplace. The Blackmore and Salisbury Museums are in St. Anne's
Street. Both are most interesting; the first named has an important
collection of Palaeolithic and Neolithic remains.

The history of Salisbury, happily for the citizens, has not been very
stirring, apart from the few incidents already briefly mentioned.
Executions in the Market Place seem to have had an unenviable
notoriety. The most dramatic of these was the beheading of the Duke of
Buckingham in 1484. A headless skeleton dug up in 1835 during
alterations to the "Saracen's Head," formerly the "Blue Boar," was
popularly supposed to be his, though records appear to show that his
corpse was in fact taken to the Greyfriars' Monastery in London. In
Queen Mary's time there was a burning of heretics in the space devoted
to violent death, a space which afterwards saw many others as
needlessly cruel. One is extraordinary in its details. A prisoner
sentenced to the lock-up lost control of himself--possibly he was
innocent--and threw a stone at the judge. He was at once sentenced to
death and removed to the Market Place, his right hand being cut off
before he was hanged. As lately as 1835 two men here suffered the
extreme penalty for arson. To the hanging of Lord Stourton, a just and
well-merited punishment, reference has already been made. But perhaps
the most vindictive execution of all was that of a boy of fifteen in
1632 when Charles I was in the town. The lad was hanged, drawn and
quartered for saying he would buy a pistol to kill the King.

Royal visits have been many. Henry III probably came here when he
granted the charter of New Sarum. When Henry VI visited the city the
inhabitants were ordered to wear red gowns, possibly a piece of sharp
practice on the part of the city fathers, who were nearly all
clothiers or cloth-merchants. Richard III was here at the time of
Buckingham's execution, and Elizabeth under happier circumstances, in
1574, when she was presented by the Corporation with a slight
honorarium of twenty pounds and a gold cup, but James I, who was here
several times on his way to the stag hunting in Cranborne Chase only
obtained a silver cup. Unlike his predecessor, however, he possessed a
consort and the royal pair were presented with twenty pounds each.
James' unfortunate son held here one of those unsuccessful councils of
war that seemed always to turn events in favour of the enemy. The
second Charles came twice in a hurry. The first time was after the
battle of Worcester on his flight to the coast, and again he came for
sanctuary with his whole court when the plague was ravaging the
capital. He was almost the only traveller from London or the east that
the authorities would allow, during that dreadful time, within the
city boundaries; even natives returning home were obliged to stay
outside in quarantine for three months. James II lodged at the
Bishop's Palace on his way to intercept the Prince of Orange, and
here, a month later, William III stayed in his turn while the previous
guest fled the country. It is said that on the day James arrived in
Salisbury an ornamental crown on the facade of the Council House fell
down.

[Illustration: LONGFORD CASTLE.]

Several delightful excursions can be taken in each direction from
Salisbury. Southwards one may proceed along the Avon valley by the
Fordingbridge road to Britford, passing East Harnham, where the fine
modern church is a memorial to Dean Lear. Britford church is of the
greatest interest to archaeologists, for within it are three arches
which have been claimed variously as Saxon and Roman work. The
remainder of the building is of the Decorated period. An altar tomb
was at one time supposed to contain the body of the executed Duke of
Buckingham. Longford Castle, the seat of the Earl of Radnor, is just
over a mile to the south. The magnificent park extends along the banks
of the Avon in scenery of much quiet beauty. The castle, although much
altered, dates from 1590, and contains a famous collection of
paintings and is especially rich in Holbein's works. Perhaps the most
celebrated of the many treasures housed at Longford is the "Imperial
Steel Chair," once the property of the emperor Rudulf II. It is one of
the most elaborate specimens of metal work in England. Rather more
than a mile west of Longford is the Early English church at Odstock.
It has a fine west tower and several points of interest. The pulpit
dated 1580 bears the following couplet:

  "God bless and save our Royal Queen
  The lyke on Earth was never seen."

The churchyard contains the grave of one Joseph Scamp, executed for a
crime to which he pleaded guilty; but really committed by his
son-in-law.

The route is now by a lane that follows the course of the river
through Charlton, with Clearbury Camp a mile away to the right, and on
to Downton where we cross the bridge to the large and interesting
cruciform church built at many different periods. The Transitional
nave becomes Early English at the east end and the transepts are made
up of Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular work. The chancel is
entirely of the last-named style and very fine in its proportions and
details. The Norman font of Purbeck marble should also be noticed. The
village was one of the old-time "rotten" boroughs and returned two
members to Parliament. Southey was once elected but declined the
honour. Downton was evidently of some importance in still earlier
days, for on the outskirts of the village, in private grounds, is an
earthwork used in Saxon times as a folk-mote, or open-air local
parliament. It is probable that this was originally a British fort,
for about a mile away is the ancient ford over the Avon where a great
battle was fought in the days of the West Saxon invasion and in which
the attackers were held. Thirty-seven years elapsed before any further
advance was made into Wiltshire. Downton is also one of the places of
which that curious myth story "The Pent Cuckoo" is told.

The road to the south can be followed down the river to Fordingbridge
(_see_ Chapter II), but it is proposed to return by the east bank of
the river past Burford Park and Trafalgar, the renamed Standlynch
Manor, bestowed on Earl Nelson in 1814, to the neighbourhood of
Alderbury, over three miles out of Salisbury on the Southampton road.
The scenery of this part of the Christchurch Avon is very pleasant in
a quiet way, the wide views towards the chalk hills on each side and
the distant spire of the Cathedral, visible from every point of
vantage, make the walk especially enjoyable. Alderbury is said to be
the original village of the "Blue Dragon" of Mrs. Lupin and Mark
Tapley, immortalized by Charles Dickens, though some claim Amesbury to
be the original of this scene. It is difficult to say that any
particular village could be in the novelist's mind if, as seems
probable, he had not seen Wiltshire when _Martin Chuzzlewit_ was
written. St. Mary's Grange, on the Salisbury road, is suggested as the
original of Mr. Pecksniff's residence. Alderbury House was built from
the demolished campanile of Salisbury Cathedral.

To obtain a really good idea of the hill country, apart from that of
the Plain, a walk should be taken, by those who are impervious to
fatigue, to Broad Chalke, about seven miles from East Harnham, or even
farther to Berwick St. John, more than six miles higher up the stream.
The river Ebble itself, if river it can be called, is rarely in
evidence, but the valley it drains is beautiful and, though it
contains quite a string of villages, is so remote as to be seldom
visited by anyone not on business bent. The vale seems to end
naturally at Coombe Bisset, though the river flows on through
Honnington and Odstock for four miles farther before it reaches the
Avon. The church, set picturesquely on its hill at Coombe, is an old
Transitional Norman building with some later additions. The village in
the hollow below appeals to one as a happy place in which to end one's
days. So also appears Stratford Tony, farther up the vale, where, as
its name suggests, the Roman road from Old Sarum to Blandford once cut
across the valley in the usual Roman manner. Bishopstone, the next
village, has a very fine cruciform church, most interesting in its
general details. The patron of the living was the Bishop of
Winchester; thus the village gets its name. It is possible that some
of the bishops took special interest in the building and that would
account for its elaboration. The style is Decorated passing into
Perpendicular in the nave. The chancel and transepts are peculiarly
fine and the vaulting of the first-named will be much admired, as also
the beautiful windows. The south door of the chancel with its handsome
porch and groined roof; the vaulted chamber, or so-called cloister,
outside the south transept, the use of which is unknown; the recessed
tomb in the north transept and the grand arch on the same side of the
church; all call for especial notice.

The right-hand road at Stoke Farthing leads direct to Broad Chalke, or
a longer by-way on the other side of the stream takes us to the same
goal by way of Bury Orchard, a village as delectable as its name.
Chalke likewise boasts of a fine church, also cruciform and dating, so
far as the chancel and north transept are concerned, from the
thirteenth century. In that transept the old wooden roof still
remains. The nave is Perpendicular, solid and plain; the roof quite
modern, though the corbels that supported the old one, carved with
representations of angels singing and playing, were not disturbed. The
sedilia in the chancel and the aumbry in the north transept should be
seen. The lych-gate was erected to the memory of Rowland Williams of
_Essays and Reviews_ fame. John Aubrey, antiquary and nature lover,
who was a native of Easton Pierce in North Wilts, was a resident here
for a long time, and a modern literary association is found in the
fact that the Old Rectory has been the home of Mr. Maurice Hewlett for
some years.

The hills now begin to close in upon the road and another valley
penetrates into the highlands which form the northern portion of
Cranborne Chase. In this vale, in a lovely hollow between the rounded
hills, is the small village of Bower Chalke. Westwards, up the main
valley, we pass through Fifield Bavant, where the church is one of the
many that claim to be the smallest in England. Ebbesborne Wake, the
next hamlet, lies cramped in a narrow gully between Barrow Hill and
Prescombe Down. The restored church is not of great interest, but an
unnamed tomb within bears these very pertinent lines:

  AS THOU DOST LYVE, O READER DERE,
  SO DYD I ONCE WHICH NOW LYE HEARE;
  AND AS I AM SO SHALT THOU BE
  FOR ALL IS FRAYLE AS THOU MAYST SEE.

Alvedeston, the last village actually in the valley, lies under a spur
of Middle Down from which there is a magnificent view of the "far
flung field of gold and purple--regal England." Alvedeston church is
an old cruciform building containing the tomb of a knight in full
armour. This is one of the Gawen family. The Gawens were for many
years lords of Norrington, a beautiful old house near by. Aubrey
suggests that they were descended from that Gawain of the Round Table
who fought Lancelot and was killed. The last village, Berwick St.
John, is high upon the hills and close to Winklebury Camp. Its Early
English church, as is usual in this district, has transepts. The
Perpendicular tower, though rather squat, is of fine design and the
interior has several interesting monuments and effigies, including
effigies of Sir John Hussey and Sir Robert Lucie clad in mail. A
pleasant custom obtains here of ringing a bell every night during the
winter to guide home the wanderer upon the lonely hills. This was
provided for in the will of a former rector--John Gane (1735). From
Berwick the hill walk to Salisbury, spoken of in the earlier part of
this chapter, should be taken.

[Illustration: DOWNTON CROSS.]

Another valley worth exploring is that of the Bourne, north-east of
Salisbury, down which the main railway line from London passes for its
last few miles before reaching the city. The Bourne is crossed by the
London road nearly two miles from the centre of the town. About half a
mile up stream is the ford where the old way crossed the river to
Sarum. The London road rises to the right and traverses the lonely
chalk uplands to the Winterslow Hut, lately known as the "Pheasant," a
reversion to its old name. Here lodged Hazlitt, essayist and recluse,
for a period of nine years, and here several of his best known
dissertations were penned, including the appropriate "On Living to
One's Self." Charles Lamb, accompanied by his sister, visited him
here. We, however, do not propose to travel by the great London
highway, but to turn to the left just across St. Thomas' Bridge, and
soon after passing the railway we cross the old Roman road where it
appears as a narrow track making direct for the truncated cone of Old
Sarum away to the west across the valley. Figsbury Rings is the name
of the camp-crowned summit to the east of our road. The first three
villages are all "Winterbournes "--Earls, Dauntsey and Gunner. The
first two have rebuilt churches, but the third--Gunner--has a
Transitional building of some interest. The name is a corruption of
Gunnora, spouse of one of the Delameres who were lords hereabouts in
the early thirteenth century. Farther on, Porton will not detain us
very long, but Idmiston has a church that is a fine example of the
style so well called Decorated. The tower, indeed, is Norman, but the
clustered columns of the nave with their carved capitals and bases are
beautiful specimens of fourteenth-century architecture. The Early
English chancel has a triple east window and side lancets. The
two-storied porch is late Decorated or early Perpendicular. A tomb of
Giles Rowbach and tablets to the Bowie family are of interest. One of
the Bowles, a vicar of the church, was a notable Spanish scholar and
made a translation of _Don Quixote_. Boscombe Rectory was once
occupied by "the judicious" Hooker and the first part of the
_Ecclesiastical Polity_ was written here. Another theologian--Nicholas
Fuller--famous in his day, held the living of the next village--Allington.
At Newton Tony, over eight miles from Salisbury, the pleasant scenery
of the Bourne may be said to end. Beyond, we reach an outlying part of
the Plain that is seen to better advantage from other directions.
Newton Tony has a station on the branch line to Amesbury and Bulford
Camp. Wilbury House, on the road to Cholderton, was erected in the
Italian style in the early seventeenth century by the Bensons, a noted
family in those days, one of whose members is commemorated by a brass
in the church. The house was the home of the late Mr. T. Gibson Bowles,
formerly the member for King's Lynn.

[Illustration: LUDGERSHALL CHURCH.]

The valley goes on to Cholderton, Shipton Bellinger and Tidworth,
where are situated the head-quarters of the Southern Military Command.
The Collingbournes--Ducis and Kingston--are much farther on, right at
the head of the valley, and eighteen miles from Salisbury. If the
explorer has penetrated as far as Tidworth a train can be taken three
miles across the Down to Ludgershall, a very ancient place near the
Hampshire border. It would seem to have been of some importance in
earlier days. "The castell stoode in a parke now clene doun. There is
of late times a pratie lodge made by the ruines of it and longgethe to
the king" (Leland). To this castle came the Empress Maud and not far
away the seal of her champion, Milo of Hereford, was found some years
since. All that is left to show that Leland's "clene doun" was a
slight exaggeration is a portion of the wall of the keep built into a
farm at the farther end of the little town. The twelfth-century church
is interesting. Here may be seen the effigy of Sir Richard Brydges,
the first owner of the Manor House (or "pratie lodge") which succeeded
the castle. The picturesque appearance of the main street is enhanced
by the old Market Cross which bears carved representations of the
Crucifixion and other scenes from the New Testament.

[Illustration: STONEHENGE.]




CHAPTER X

STONEHENGE AND THE PLAIN


The direct route from Salisbury to Amesbury is (or was) the loneliest
seven miles of highway in Wiltshire. No villages are passed and but
one or two houses; thus the road, even with the amenities of Amesbury
at the other end is, under normal conditions, an ideal introduction to
the Plain. The parenthesis of doubt refers to that extraordinary and,
let us hope, ephemeral transformation which has overtaken the great
tract of chalk upland encircling Bulford Camp. The fungus growth of
huts which, during the earlier years of the Great War, gradually crept
farther and farther from the pre-war nucleus and sent sporadic growths
afield into unsuspected places, will undoubtedly vanish as time
passes, just as the unnaturally busy traffic of the road will also
disappear. Some of the gaunt incongruities visible from near
Stonehenge have, happily, already vanished and in this brief
description they will be, as far as is possible, ignored. Certain it
is that those readers who have had the misfortune to be connected with
them by force of "iron circumstance" will not wish for reminders of
their miseries.

Old Sarum is on the left of, and close to, the road. It can be most
conveniently visited from this side. At present the most interesting
part of the great mound is the actual fosse and vallum. The interior,
while excavations are in progress, is too much a chaotic rubbish heap
to be very inviting. But again this is merely a passing phase and soon
the daisy-starred turf will once more mantle the grave of a dead city.
The valley road turns off to the left a short distance past the
railway and goes to Stratford-sub-castle, just under the shadow of the
great mound to the west. This forms a pleasant enough introduction to
the scenery and villages of the Upper Avon. The Manor House at
Stratford is associated with the Pitt family, for the estate came by
purchase to the celebrated Governor Pitt, the one-time owner of the
diamond named after him. His descendant, the Earl of Chatham, was
member for Old Sarum when it was the most celebrated, and execrated,
of all the "rotten boroughs." For many years the elections took place
under a tree in a meadow below the hill. This tree was destroyed in a
blizzard during the winter of 1896. The Early English and
Perpendicular church is quaint and picturesque. On its tower will be
seen an inscription to Thomas Pitt and within, an ancient hour-glass
stand. The old Parsonage has the inscription over the entrance:--

  PARVA SED APTA DOMINO

  1675

The road now crosses the Avon bridge at a point where the western road
from Old Sarum once forded the river, and follows the valley to the
three Woodfords, Lower, Middle, and Upper. Just past the middle
village, in a loop of the Avon, is Heale House, now rebuilt. In the
old mansion Charles took refuge during his flight after Worcester. The
secret room in which he hid was preserved in the reconstruction. Lake,
a beautiful old Tudor House, lately burned, but now restored, stands
near the river bank south of Wilsford, through which village we pass
to reach West Amesbury, eight miles from Salisbury. The fine modern
mansion not far from Wilsford is the seat of Lord Glenconner.

[Illustration: GATE-HOUSE, AMESBURY ABBEY.]

Another route which keeps on the east bank of the Avon through a
sometimes rough by-way, starts from the Salisbury side of the Avon
bridge, close to Old Sarum, and passes through the hamlets of Little
Durnford, Salterton and Netton to Durnford, where there is a fine
church, partly Norman, with an imposing chancel arch and north and
south doors of this period. The remainder of the building is mainly
Early English. Some old stained glass in the Perpendicular windows of
the nave should be noticed and also the chained copy of Bishop Jewel's
_Apologie or Answer in Defense of the Churche of Englande_, dated
1571, in the chancel. The pulpit dates from the early seventeenth
century and is a well-designed piece of woodwork with carving of that
period. A brass to Edward Young and his family, two recessed tombs in
the south wall, a few scraps of wall painting, and the fine Norman
font with interlaced arches and sculptured pillars, are some of the
other interesting items in this old church. Ogbury Camp rises above
the village to the east; a lane to the north of it leads in rather
more than three miles to Amesbury.

In the mist of legend and tradition that surrounds the towns and
hamlets of the Plain the origin of Amesbury is lost. The name is
supposed to be derived from Ambres-burh--the town of Aurelius
Ambrosius--a native British king with a latinized name who reigned
about the year 550. In the _Morte d'Arthur_ "Almesbury" is the
monastery to which Guinevere came for sanctuary, and romantic
tradition asserts that Sir Lancelot took the body of the dead Queen
thence to Glastonbury. We are on firmer ground when we come to the
time of the tenth-century house of Benedictine nuns dispersed by Henry
II for "that they did by their scandalous and irreligious behaviour
bring ill fame to Holy Church." It had been founded by a royal
criminal, that stony-hearted Elfrida of Corfe, who murdered her
stepson while he was a guest at her door. But very soon there was a
new house for women and men--a branch of a noted monastery at
Fontevrault in Anjou--of great splendour and prestige in which the
women took the lead. To this Priory came many royal and noble ladies,
including Eleanor of Brittany, granddaughter of Henry II and Eleanor
of England, widow of Henry III. The Priory met the same fate as most
others at the Dissolution and its actual site is uncertain. Protector
Somerset obtained possession of the property and afterwards a house
was built by Inigo Jones, most of which has disappeared in subsequent
additions and alterations. While the Queensberry family were in
possession the poet Gay was a guest here and wrote, in a sham cave or
grotto still existing on the river bank, the _Beggar's Opera_, that
satire on certain aspects of eighteenth-century life which, strangely
enough, became lately popular after a long period of comparative
oblivion.

Amesbury Church once belonged to the Priory. Its appearance from the
outside gives the impression that it is unrestored. This is not the
case, however, for the drastic restoration and partial rebuilding has
taken place at various times. The architecture is Norman and Early
English with Decorated windows in the chancel. The double two-storied
chamber at the side of the north transept consists of a priest's room
with a chapel below. The grounds of the Priory at the back of the
church are very lovely, the river forming the boundary on one side.
Amesbury town is pleasant and even picturesque, and the Avon in its
immediate neighbourhood may be described as beautiful. It is the
nearest place to Stonehenge in which accommodation may be had and is
also a good centre for the exploration of the Plain. The western road
runs in the direction of Stonehenge. On the crown of the hill to the
right, just before reaching West Amesbury, the so-called "Vespasian's
Camp" is seen. This is undoubtedly a prehistoric earthwork.

[Illustration: AMESBURY CHURCH.]

The description of Salisbury Plain in the _Ingoldsby Legends_ is
hardly accurate now:--

  "Not a shrub nor a tree,
  Not a bush can we see,
  No hedges, no ditches, no gates, no styles,
  Much less a house or a cottage for miles."

The usual accompaniment of the chalk--small "tufts" of foliage, that
become spinneys when close at hand, dot the surface of the great
plateau. Green, becoming yellow in the middle distance and toward the
horizon french-grey, are the prevailing hues of the Plain, but at
times when huge masses of cloud cast changing shadows on the short
sward beneath, the colours are kaleidoscopic in their bewildering
change. This immense table-land, from which all the chalk hills of
England take their eastward way, covers over three-fifths of Wiltshire
if we include that northern section usually called the Marlborough
Downs.

We now approach the mysterious Stones that have caused more conjecture
and wonder than any work of man in these islands or in Europe and of
which more would-be descriptive rubbish has been written in a
highfalutin strain than of any other memorial of the past. Such
phrases as "majestic temple of our far-off ancestors," "stupendous
conception of a dead civilization" and the like, can only bring about
a feeling of profound disappointment when Stonehenge is actually seen.
To all who experience such disappointment the writer would strongly
urge a second or third pilgrimage. Come to the Stones on a gloomy day
in late October or early March when the surface of the great expanse
of the Plain reflects, as water would, the leaden lowering skies. Then
perhaps the tragic mystery of the place will fire the imagination as
no other scene the wide world over could. Stonehenge is unique
whichever way one looks at it. In its age, its uncouth savage
strength, and its secretiveness. That it will hold that secret to the
end of time, notwithstanding the clever and plausible guesses of
archaeologist and astronomer, is almost beyond any doubt, and it is
well that it should be so.

The appearance of Stonehenge has been likened to a herd of elephant
browsing on the Plain. The simile is good and is particularly
applicable to its aspect from the Amesbury road--the least imposing of
the approaches. The straight white highway, and the fact that the
Stones are a little below the observer, detract very much from the
impressiveness of the scene. The usual accompaniments of a visit, a
noisy and chattering crowd of motorists, eager to rush round the
enclosure quickly, to purchase a packet of postcards and be off; the
hut for the sale of the cards, and the absurdly incongruous, but
(alas!) necessary, policeman, go far to spoil the visit for the more
reverent traveller. But if he will go a little way to the south and
watch the gaunt shapes against the sky for a time and thus realize
their utter remoteness from that stream of evanescent mortality
beneath, the unknown ages that they have stood here upon the lonely
waste, the dynasties, nay, the very races, that have come and
conquered and gone, and the almost certainty that the broad metalled
highway which passes close to them will in turn disappear and give
place, while they still stand, to the turf of the great green expanse
around; then the awe that surrounds Stonehenge will be felt and
understood.

The early aspect of Stonehenge was far more elaborate than as we see
it to-day, and the avenues that led to the inner circles and the
smaller and outer rings have to a large extent disappeared. The stones
are enclosed in a circular earthwork 300 feet across. The outer circle
of trilithons, 100 feet in diameter, is composed of monoliths of
sandstone originally four feet apart and thirty in number. Inside this
circle is another of rough unhewn stones of varying shapes and sizes.
Within this again, forming a kind of "holy place," are two
ellipses--the outer of trilithons five in number and the inner of blue
stones of the same geological formation as the rough stones of the
outer circle. Of these there were originally nineteen.

[Illustration: PLAN OF STONEHENGE (RESTORED).]

Near the centre is the so-called "altar stone," over fifteen feet
long; in a line with this, through the opening of the ellipse, is the
"Friar's Heel," a monolith standing outside the circles. The larger
stones or "sarsens" are natural to the Marlborough Downs, but the
unhewn or "blue" stones are mysterious. They are composed of a kind of
igneous rock not found anywhere near Wiltshire. A suggestion by
Professor Judd is that they are ice-borne boulders accidentally
deposited on the Plain during the southward drift of the great ice
cap. One of the sarsen stones is stained with copper oxide, and this
fact has been taken to point to Stonehenge being erected somewhere in
the Bronze Age--that is, not longer ago than 2000 B.C. Excavations
about twenty years ago brought to light a number of stone tools,
fragments of pottery, coins and bones. Belonging to a long period of
time, the finds were inconclusive. It is quite possible that the ring
of rough blue stones were erected by a primitive race of stone men and
that a continuous tradition of sanctity clung to the spot until, in
the time of those heirs and successors of theirs who used bronze
weapons and were acquainted with the rudiments of engineering, the
imposing temple that we call Stonehenge came into being.

It will be well at this point to make brief reference to the
interpretation placed on Stonehenge by various writers. Henry of
Huntingdon (1150) calls it Stanhenges, and terms it the second wonder
of England, but professes entire ignorance of its purpose and marvels
at the method of its construction. Geoffrey of Monmouth (1150)
ascribes its origin to the magic of Merlin who, at the instance of
Aurelius Ambrosius, directed the invasion of Ireland under Uther
Pendragon to obtain possession of the standing stones called the
"Giants' Dance at Killaraus." Victory being with the invaders, the
stones were taken and transported across the seas with the greatest
ease with Merlin's help, and placed on Salisbury Plain as a memorial
to the dead of Britain fallen in battle. Giraldus Cambrensis, Robert
of Gloucester and Leland all give a similar explanation. About 1550,
in Speed's _History of Britain_ and Stow's _Annals_, Merlin and the
invasion of Ireland are dropped and sole credit given to Ambrosius for
the erection. Thomas Fuller (1645) ridicules tradition and consider
the stones to be artificial and probably made of sand (!) on the spot.
Inigo Jones about the same time attributes the erection to the Romans.
His master, James I, having taken a philosophic interest in the
Stones, had desired him to make some pronouncement upon them. This
monarch's grandson, in his flight, is said to have stopped and essayed
to count the stones, with the usual result on the second trial. Pepys
a short time after went "single to Stonehenge, over the Plain and some
great hills even to fright us. Come thither and find them as
prodigious as any tales I ever heard of them, and worth going this
journey to see, God knows what their use was! they are hard to tell
but may yet be told."

About the middle of the eighteenth century the Druid temple legend
began to gain ground and many great men gave support to their
interpretation; it is not yet an exploded idea. Stukely, the
archaeological writer, gives a definite date--460 B.C.--as that of
their erection, and Dr. Johnson, writing to Mrs. Thrale, says:--"It
is, in my opinion, to be referred to the earliest habitations of the
island as a druidical monument of, at least, two thousand years,
probably the most ancient work of man upon the island." In the last
part of this sentence the great doctor either forgets, or shows his
ignorance of, the antiquities at Avebury. Sir Richard Hoare, at the
close of the century, is equally convinced that this explanation is
the right one. Other theories current about this time were--that it
was a monument to four hundred British princes slain by Hengist (472);
the grave of Queen Boadicea; or a Phoenician temple; even a Danish
origin was ascribed to Stonehenge. Perhaps the most curious fact
connected with the literary history of Stonehenge is that it is not
mentioned in the Roman itineraries or by Bede or any other Saxon
writer.

In 1824 the following interesting article by H. Wansey appeared in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_.

  "In my early days I frequently visited Stonehenge to make
  observations at sunrise as well as by starlight. I noticed that the
  lower edge of the impost of the outer circle forms a level
  horizontal line in the heavens, equi-distant from the earth, to the
  person standing near the centre of the building, about 15 degrees
  above the horizon on all sides.

  "Stonehenge stands on rather sloping ground; the uprights of the
  outer circle are nearly a foot taller on the lower ground or
  western side than they are on the eastern, purposely to keep the
  horizontal level of the impost, which marks great design and skill.
  The thirty uprights of the outer circle are not found exactly of
  equal distances, but the imposts (so correctly true on their under
  bed) are each of them about 7 cubits in length, making 210 cubits
  the whole circle.

  "If a person stands before the highest leaning-stone, between it
  and the altar stone looking eastward, he will see the pyramidal
  stone called the Friar's Heel, coinciding with the top of
  Durrington Hill, marking nearly the place where the sun rises on
  the longest day. This was the observation of a Mr. Warltire, who
  delivered lectures on Stonehenge at Salisbury (1777), and who had
  drawn a meridian line on one of the stones. Mr. Warltire asserted
  that the stone of the trilithons and of the outer circle are the
  stone of the country, and that he had found the place from whence
  they were taken, about fourteen miles from the spot northward,
  somewhere near Urchfont.

  "If the person so standing turns to his left hand, he will find a
  groove in one of the 6-foot pillars from top to bottom, which (in
  the lapse of so many ages, and swelled by the alternate heat and
  moisture of two thousand years, has lost its shape) might have
  contained in it a scale of degrees for measuring; and the stone
  called the altar[3] would have answered to draw those diagrams on,
  and this scale of degrees was well placed for use in such a case,
  for one turning himself to the left, and his right hand holding a
  compass, could apply it most conveniently. With all this apparatus
  the motions of the heavenly bodies might have been accurately
  marked and eclipses calculated, a knowledge of which, Caesar says,
  they possessed in his time.

  "Wood and Dr. Stukeley both make the inner oval to consist of
  nineteen stones, answering to the ancient Metonic Cycle of nineteen
  years, at the end of which the sun and the moon are in the same
  relative situation as at the beginning, when indeed the same
  almanack will do again.

  "In my younger days I have visited Stonehenge by starlight, and
  found, on applying my sight from the top of the 6-foot pillars of
  the inner oval and looking at the high trilithons, I could mark the
  places of the planets and the stars in the heavens, so as to
  measure distances by the corners and angles of them....

  "It is very remarkable that no barrow or tumulus exists on the east
  side, where the sun (the great object of ancient worship) first
  appears."

[3] "Dr. Smith says that he has tried a bit of this stone, and found
that it would not stand fire. It is, therefore, very improbable that
it should have been used for burnt sacrifices."

The theory put forward in this article has in late years been upheld
by no less an authority than Sir Norman Lockyer, who thinks that the
practice of visiting Stonehenge on the longest day of the year--a
pilgrimage that goes back before the beginnings of recorded history,
essayed by a country people not addicted to wasting a fine summer
morning without some very strong tradition to prompt them--goes far to
bear out the theory that Stonehenge was a solar temple. If this is so,
the mysterious people who erected it were civilized enough to have a
good working knowledge of the movement of the heavenly bodies, and
probably combined that knowledge with a not unreasonable worship and
ritual. Sir Norman Lockyer's calculations give the date of the
erection as about 1680 B.C.

Lord Avebury considers that it is part of a great scheme for honouring
the famous dead, and many modern writers have adopted the same view.
That the Plain near by is a great cemetery is beyond doubt, but then
so are more or less all the chalk hills of Britain.

There is more than one explanation of the probable method of the
construction of the trilithons. A writer in the _Wiltshire
Archaeological Magazine_ (W. Long) puts forward the theory that an
artificial mound was made in which holes were dug to receive the
upright pillars. When these were in position the recumbent block could
easily be placed across the two and, all the trilithons being
complete, the earth could be dug away, leaving the stones standing.
Professor Gowland, however, does not favour this view in the light of
his recent discoveries and is inclined to credit the builders with a
greater knowledge of simple engineering.

[Illustration: STONEHENGE DETAIL.]

In 1918 Stonehenge, which hitherto had formed part of the Amesbury
Abbey estate of Sir Cosmo Gordon Antrobus, was sold to Sir C.H. Chubb,
who immediately presented it to the nation. The work of restoration is
being carried out by the Office of Works, and the Society of
Antiquaries are, at their own expense, sifting every cubic inch of
ground under those stones that are being re-erected--to the dismay of
many of that body--in beds of concrete! Much apprehension has been
felt by archaeologists that this renovation will have deplorable
results, but it is promised that nothing is to be done in the way of
replacement which cannot be authenticated. At the time of writing the
work is still in progress and all is chaos. When the hideous iron
fence is replaced by the proposed ha-ha, or sunk fence, and new sward
grows about the old stones the general effect will be greatly
improved. The excavators have re-discovered certain depressions shown
in Aubrey's Map (1666) and which had long since disappeared to outward
view. There is little doubt that they held stones more or less in a
circle with the "Slaughter Stone." It is conjectured that, as in the
case of the inner blue stones, this outer ring was constructed before
the more imposing trilithons were erected, perhaps at a period long
anterior. Each of the holes already explored contain calcined human
bones.

Stonehenge Down; Wilsford Down to the south; Stoke Down westwards,
and, in fact, the whole of the great Plain is a maze of earthworks,
ditches, tumuli and relics of a past at which we can only guess. Here,
if anywhere in Britain, is haunted ground and perhaps the silence of
earlier writers may be explained by the existence of a kind of "taboo"
that prevented reference to the mysteries of the Plain.

The exploration of the upper Avon may be extended from Amesbury to
Durrington (one mile from Bulford station), where is an old church
containing fine carved oak fittings worth inspection. Across the
stream is Milston, where Addison was born and his father was rector.
Higher up the river is pretty Figheldean with its old thatched
cottages embowered among the huge trees that line the banks of the
stream, and with a fine Early English church. The monuments in the
Decorated chancel are to some of the Poores, once a notable family.
The church also contains certain unknown effigies. These were
discovered at some distance from the church, probably having been
thrown away during some earlier "restoration!"

[Illustration: ENFORD.]

Netheravon is famous for its Cavalry School. Of its Norman and Early
English church Sydney Smith was once a curate, to his great
discomfort. The tower here is very old and some have called it Saxon.
The student of _Rural Rides_ will remember that here Cobbett saw an
"acre of hares!" Fittleton is another unspoilt little village, and
Enford, or Avonford, the next, has a fine church unavoidably much
restored after having been struck by lightning early in the nineteenth
century; the Norman piers remain. All these villages gain in interest
and charm to the pedestrian by being just off the high road that keeps
to the west bank of the river. Upavon, however, is on a loop of this
highway and sees more traffic. Here is a church with a Transitional
chancel; it is said that the contemporary nave was of wood. The fine
tower and present nave belong to the thirteenth century. The Norman
font with its archaic carving and the fifteenth-century crucifix over
the west door should be noticed. Upavon was the home of a kindred
spirit to Cobbett, for here was born the once famous "Orator Hunt,"
farmer and demagogue--rare combination! He was chairman of the meeting
in Manchester that had "Peterloo" as its sequel. Near Upavon, but down
stream, is the small and ancient manor house of Chisenbury, until
lately the property of the Groves, one of whose ancestors suffered
death for his participation in the rising of Colonel Penruddock during
the Commonwealth.

At Rushall the narrow valley of the Avon, guarded by the opposing
camps of Casterley and Chisenbury, is left for the transverse vale of
Pewsey, on the farther side of which are the Marlborough Downs. A
number of chalk streams drain the vale and go to make up the
head-waters of the Avon; in fact two streams, both bearing the old
British name for river, meet hereabouts; the one rising about two
miles from Savernake station and the other about the same distance
from Devizes. Along the northern slope of this vale the canal made to
join the Kennet and Thames with yet another, the Bristol Avon, runs
its lonely course. Five miles west of Rushall is the divide between
the waters of the English Channel and the Severn Sea, and the Bristol
Avon receives the stream that rises but a mile from its namesake of
Christchurch Bay. High in one of the combes at this end of the valley
is the small village of All Cannings, said to have been of much
importance in the dark ages as a Saxon centre. All it has to show the
visitor now is a cruciform church with Norman and Early English
fragments and a good Perpendicular tower.

The villages of Pewsey Vale are many and charming. All are well served
by the "short-cut" line of the Great Western, over which the Devon and
Cornwall expresses now run. Across the vale, in an opposite direction
to the iron way, runs the Ridgeway, a road probably in use when
Stonehenge was not, and Silbury Hill, that mystery of the Marlborough
Downs, was yet to be. On the western side of this old road are the
villages of Patney and Chirton. At the latter is a very beautiful
Transitional church. Near Beechingstoke, close to the Ridgeway, is a
famous British village, the entrenchment containing about thirty
acres. The old road comes down from the northern highlands between
Milk Hill (964 feet) and Knap Hill, the two bluffs that rear their
great bulk across the vale. Here beneath the "White Horse," a modern
one cut at the beginning of the nineteenth century, are the old
churches of Alton Priors and Alton Berners, the latter partly Saxon.

The road north-east from Rushall runs through Manningford Bruce. The
church here is possibly Saxon; it has a semi-circular apse. On the
north wall of the chancel is a tablet to Mary Nicholas with arms
bearing the royal canton. This was her reward for helping Charles in
his flight after the battle of Worcester. Manningford Abbots once
belonged to the Abbot of Hyde. The rebuilt church is only of interest
in possessing a very fine pre-Reformation chalice. Two miles farther
is Pewsey, a pleasant town surrounded by the chalk hills. From those
to the eastward Cobbett, when he beheld the vale stretched out before
him, broke into one of those simple but graphic descriptive touches
that help to make the _Rural Rides_ immortal, "A most beautiful sight
it was! Villages, hamlets, large farms, towers, steeples, fields,
meadows, orchards and very fine timber trees. The shape of the thing
was this: on each side downs, very lofty and steep in some places, and
sloping miles back in other places, but on each side out of the valley
are downs. From the edge of the downs begin capital arable fields,
generally of very great dimensions and in some places running a mile
or two back into little cross valleys formed by hills of downs. After
the corn-fields come meadows on each side, down to the brook or river.
The farmhouses, mansions, villages and hamlets are generally situated
in that part of the arable land that comes nearest to the meadows.
Great as my expectations had been, they were more than fulfilled. I
delight in this sort of country..... I sat upon my horse, and I looked
over Milton and Easton and Pewsey for half an hour, though I had not
breakfasted."

Pewsey Church has a Transitional nave and Early English chancel; the
oblong tower being Perpendicular. The carved reredos was designed and
worked by Canon Pleydell-Bouverie, who also made the communion rails
from some timbers of the _San Josef_, a ship taken by Nelson at the
battle of Cape St. Vincent. The roof of the organ chamber and vestry
are of much interest; they are part of the refectory roof of Ivychurch
Priory.

The country to the north of the little old town is very beautiful. The
precipitous wall of the Marlborough Downs, with several lovely and
little-known villages at its foot, is a remarkable feature of the
landscape. The high road to Marlborough, that climbs the hills for
three fatiguing miles, passes through the small village of Oare, where
there is a modern red-brick church. Not far away to the west are the
hamlets of West and East Towel, lost in the lonely by ways beneath the
hills. Above them in a fold of the Downs is Huish, dropped down amidst
memorials of a long vanished past. Dewponds, earthworks and "hut
circles" cover the hills in all directions. At Martinsell, the
camp-crowned hill to the east of the high road, until recent days a
festival was held, the beginnings of which may have been in Neolithic
times. On Palm Sunday young men and maidens would ascend the hill
carrying boughs of hazel. They would, no doubt, have been scandalized
if told that the ceremony had anything but a Christian significance.
The prospect of the Vale from this hill-side, or from the high road
itself, is not easily forgotten, and the beech-woods and parklands of
Rainscombe, that fill the broad but sheltered hollow below, make a
lovely foreground to the view.

We must now return to the lower end of the Vale of Wylye which has
been noticed at Wilton, where the river, road and rail come down a
narrow defile from Heytsbury and Warminster. This valley has on the
north and east the familiar aspect of Salisbury Plain. On the south
and west are those wooded hills that are seen also from the
neighbourhood of Fonthill, and though both sides of the valley are
made of the same material--the current chalk of Wiltshire--they are
very unlike in their superficial scenery. The Wylye is perhaps the
most beautiful of Wiltshire rivers, and although it has an important
cross-country railway running close to it for the greater part of its
length, the villages and hamlets upon the banks are peculiarly calm,
secluded and unspoilt.

The high road from Salisbury to Warminster turns northwards at
Fugglestone past the two Wilton stations, without entering that town
and, passing through Chilhampton and South Newton, reaches the hamlet
of Stoford, which has an old inn close to the river bank. A short half
mile westwards is the picturesque old village of Great Wishford, said
to be derived from "welsh-ford," where the church has been so much
restored that it is practically a new one. The chancel with its fine
triple lancet window is Early English. The altar tomb of Sir Thomas
Bonham has his effigy in a pilgrim's robe which is said to commemorate
that knight's seven years' sojourn in Palestine. An incredible
tradition, current among the country people, says that Lady Bonham
gave birth to seven children at one time, and that the sieve, in which
they were all brought to the church to be christened, hung in the old
nave for many years. The fine tomb in the chancel is that of Sir
Richard Grobham (1629). His helmet and banner are suspended upon the
opposite wall; an old chest in the south aisle is said to have been
saved from a Spanish ship by this knight.

The main road continues up the valley to Stapleford, where is a fine
cruciform church with Norman arches on the south of the nave and with
a door of this period on the same side. The fine sedilia and piscina
in the fourteenth-century chancel should be noticed, and also the
well-proportioned porch that has within it a coffin slab bearing an
incised cross. Here the valley of the Winterbourne comes down from the
heart of the Plain at Orcheston through Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick
St. James; a lonely and thinly populated string of hamlets seldom
visited by the ordinary tourist, but of much charm to those who
appreciate the more unsophisticated type of English village that,
alas! is becoming more rare every day. Both Berwick and Stoke have
interesting old churches.

Continuing up the Wylye we reach Steeple Langford, situated in the
most beautiful part of the valley. Here is a Decorated church with
good details and a remarkable tomb-slab bearing an incised figure of
an unknown huntsman, also a fine altar tomb of the Mompessons. The
rector here in the days of the Parliament was ejected in the depth of
winter with his wife and eleven children, suffering great hardship
before succour reached them. Little Langford is across the stream in
an exquisite situation. Deeply embowered among the trees is the small
cruciform church with an interesting Norman door, showing in the
tympanum, a bishop, said to represent St. Aldhelm, in the act of
benediction. We may keep to the road that closely follows the railway
on the south side of the stream to Wylye, a quiet little place half
way up the vale. Here is a Perpendicular church with a pinnacled tower
and an Early English east end. The Jacobean pulpit stood in the old
church at Wilton and was brought here when that was rebuilt. A famous
pre-Reformation chalice is preserved among the church plate, and the
village is proud of its bells. One bears the words "Ave Maria";
another not so old is inscribed "1587 Give thanks to God." Across the
stream the hamlet of Deptford stands on the main road, which goes by
Fisherton de la Mere to Codford St. Mary. Here another quiet valley
opens up into the Plain and leads to the remote villages of Chitterne
St. Mary and All Saints, among many relics of the prehistoric
past--"British" villages and circles, tumuli and ditches. Codford St.
Mary Church, though partly rebuilt, is still of interest and has a
Transitional Norman chancel arch and fine Norman font. The Jacobean
pulpit and Tudor altar tomb of Sir Richard Mompesson should be
noticed. The altar is said to have been made from the woodwork of a
derelict pulpit from St. Mary's, Oxford. Cobbett was enthusiastic
about the well-being of the country and its farmers hereabouts, and
was especially delighted with the rich picture that this part of the
Wylye makes from the Down above. Codford is the village taken by
Trollope for the scene of _The Vicar of Bulhampton_.

Codford St. Peter, where there is a railway station, has a
much-restored church, practically rebuilt. The ancient sculptured
stonework in the chancel, discovered during the rebuilding, is said to
be Saxon. The font with its curious Norman carvings is noteworthy. On
the other side of the vale are three interesting villages, beautifully
placed--Stockton, Sherrington and Boyton. Stockton Church is
Transitional with an Early English chancel. Its screen was erected by
the former Bishop of Worcester, Dr. Yeatman-Biggs, in memory of his
wife and brother. The wall separating nave and chancel is uncommon in
its solidity, the small opening being more in the nature of a doorway
than of a chancel arch. Two squints made it possible for the people to
see the movements of the minister at the altar. In the north aisle is
the canopied tomb of John Topp (1640) and on the other side of the
church, that of Jerome Poticary. Both these worthies were wealthy
clothiers, and the first-named built the beautiful manor house which
we may still see near by. The old panelling and moulded ceilings of
this mansion are very fine specimens of seventeenth-century
workmanship. Jerome Poticary also built himself a fair dwelling that
is now a farmhouse. The picturesque Topp almshouses and pleasant old
cottages together with the charm of the natural surroundings make this
village a delightful one. Sherrington once had a castle owned by the
Giffards, but all that is now to be seen is the green mound where once
it stood, close to the little old church. Boyton church is a fine
example of the Decorated style. It has some older Early English
portions. The windows in the Lambert chapel are much admired. Here are
also two altar tombs; that with a figure in chain armour,
cross-legged, represents the crusading Sir Alexander Giffard. An
interesting discovery was made of a headless skeleton under the
chancel floor, supposed to have been the remains of a Giffard who lost
his head for rebellion in the reign of Edward II. Boyton Manor, a
beautiful old house, is not far away. It was built in the early
seventeenth century and was for a time the residence of Queen
Victoria's youngest son.

[Illustration: BOYTON MANOR.]

Upton Lovell, about a mile from Codford St. Peter, has a church, the
nave of which was built in the seventeenth century. The chancel
belongs to the original Transitional building. An altar tomb with an
effigy in armour is supposed to be that of a Lovell of Castle Cary.
The manor was held by this family and from them the village takes its
name. An unhappy story is told of one of the family, a participant in
the Lambert Simnel rebellion, who managed to find sanctuary here, and,
perhaps through his retainers being in ignorance of his whereabouts,
was starved to death in the secret chamber in which he had hidden
himself. His skeleton was discovered long afterwards seated at a table
with books and papers in front of it. Knook is the next village, a
mile below Heytesbury. Here is a church that, in spite of ruthless
restoration, has retained its Norman chancel and a south door with a
fine tympanum. Also the old manor house has still much of its former
dignity in spite of its change of station. Away to the north, on one
of the rounded summits of Salisbury Plain, is Knook Castle, a
prehistoric camp that was utilized by the Romans and possibly by the
Saxons after their invasion of the west.

Heytesbury or Hegtredesbyri, seventeen miles from Salisbury, has a
station half-way between the old town and Tytherington on the south,
and is an ancient place that had seen its best days before the dawn of
the nineteenth century. It was another of the "rotten" boroughs and
fell into a period of stagnation from which the railway seems to have
lately rescued it. Many new roads and houses have sprung up without,
however, spoiling the appearance of this pleasant little place. The
church, dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, is chiefly Early English with
Transitional work in the chancel and Perpendicular in the nave. In the
north transept is the Hungerford chantry, to whose founder is due the
chantry seen in Salisbury Cathedral. The south transept contains a
tablet in memory of William Cunnington (1810), to whose researches the
antiquaries of Wiltshire owe a great deal of their information. This
church was made collegiate by Bishop Joscelyn in the twelfth century.
Heytesbury Hospital was founded by Lord Treasurer Hungerford, whose
badge, two sickles, may be seen over the entrance. In the beautiful
park are some magnificent beeches and a group of cedars below the
fir-clad Copley Hill which is crowned by a prehistoric camp.

At Tytherington there is another church, very small and old and once a
prebend of Heytesbury. In the early days of the last century service
was only performed here four times a year, and a legend was once
related to the writer of a dog that had been accidentally shut up in
this church at one service and found alive and released at the next,
ten weeks later! A mile farther is Sutton Veny, where there are two
churches, a fine new one, and an old ruined building of which the
chancel is kept in repair as a mortuary chapel. The manor house is
picturesque and rambling, as is the village itself, straggling along
the road to Warminster. At the upper end of the street a cross road on
the right leads to Morton Bavant and to the main route on the north
side of the stream. The partly rebuilt church is of little interest,
excepting perhaps the arch of chalk that supports the fourteenth-century
tower, but the village deserves the adjective "sweet." The stream,
although now of small size, and the surrounding hills that rise close
by into Scratchbury Camp, make a lovely setting for the mellow old
cottages and bright gardens that one may hope are as good to live in as
they are to look at. Close by the village certain Roman pavements were
found in 1786, but the site is now uncertain and the mosaics have been
lost. At the cross roads just referred to, the left-hand road climbs
the hill to the Deverills--Longridge, Hill, Buxton, Monkton and
Kingston, pleasant hamlets all, of which the first has the most to
show. Here is a fine church partly built of chalk and containing the
tomb of the Sir John Thynne who made Longleat. The old almshouses were
founded by his descendant, Sir James, in 1665. In Hill Deverill Church
is a monumental record of the Ludlows. To this family General Ludlow,
of the Army of the Parliament, belonged. Beyond the last of the
Deverills is Maiden Bradley, alone with its guardian hills, which ring
it round with summits well over 800 feet above the sea. Long Knoll is
the monarch of this miniature range and well repays the explorer who
climbs to its summit with a most delightful view. In Maiden Bradley
Church is the tomb of Sir Edward Seymour, Speaker of the House in the
reign of Charles II, and a fine Norman font of Purbeck marble.

Resuming the route northwards from Sutton Veny, Bishopstrow is soon
reached. Above the village to the north is the great rounded hill
called Battlesbury Camp, crowned with the usual entrenchments and
surrounded by the curious "lynchets" or remains of ancient terrace
cultivation. Bishopstrow Church dates from 1757, when it replaced a
building with Saxon foundations and east end. The main road is now
taken on the north bank of the stream and in two miles, or twenty-one
_direct_ from Salisbury, we arrive at the old town called, no one
knows why, Warminster. It may be that the Were, the small stream or
brook running into Wylye gives the first syllable, but that St. Deny's
Church was ever a minster there is no evidence, though it is
occasionally so called by the townspeople. Now quite uninteresting,
the church was rebuilt some thirty years or more ago. In High Street,
close to the Town Hall, is the chantry of St. Lawrence, still keeping
its old tower but otherwise rebuilt. For its age and situation
Warminster retains little that is ancient, but it is a pleasant and
very healthy town, 400 feet above the sea. Here, in the early
nineteenth century, two eminent Victorians--Dr. Arnold and Dean
Stanley--received their first education at the old Grammar School.
St. Boniface College, established in 1860, is a famous house of
training for missionaries. Warminster has "no villainous gingerbread
houses running up and no nasty shabby-genteel people; no women
trapesing about with showy gowns and dirty necks, no Jew-looking
fellows with dandy coats, dirty shirts and half heels to their shoes.
A really nice and good town" (Cobbett).

The great show-place and excursion from Warminster is Longleat. To
reach the great house and famous grounds we take the western road
which reaches the confines of the park in a little over four miles and
passes under the imposing mass of Cley Hill, an isolated eminence of
about 900 feet, on the summit of which a curious "ceremony" used to
take place, as at Martinsell, on Palm Sunday. The boys and young men
from neighbouring villages would ascend the hill to play a game with
sticks and balls. Not one could say why, but that it was "always
done." Undoubtedly this was an unconscious reminiscence of a pagan
spring festival.

Longleat is indeed a "stately home of England" and one of the most
famous of those larger mansions that are more in the nature of
permanent museums for the benefit of the public than of homes for
their fortunate possessors. In normal times the galleries are open on
two or three days in the week, according to the seasons, and holiday
crowds come long distances to see the magnificent house and its still
more splendid surroundings, perhaps more than to inspect the art
treasures which form the nominal attraction. Still these are very fine
and should, if possible, be seen.

[Illustration: LONGLEAT.]

The origin of "Long Leat"--the long shallow stream of pond and
lakelets artificially widened and dammed--was, like that of so many
other great houses, a monastic one. An Augustinian Priory stood here
before the Dissolution, but when the Great Dispersal took place it had
already decayed and no great tragedy occurred. Protector Somerset had
a young man attached to his retinue, and in his confidence, named Sir
John Thynne who, when his master lost his head, very adroitly kept his
own, afterwards marrying the heiress of a great London merchant--Sir
Thomas Gresham. This enabled the husband to add greatly to the small
property he had already purchased, which included the old priory
buildings, and the altered state of his fortunes prompted him to erect
a stately residence on the old site. His first efforts were destroyed
by a disastrous fire, but in 1578 the stately house was finished and,
as far as the exterior is concerned, was practically as we see it
to-day. The interior was entirely remodelled at the beginning of the
nineteenth century by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville. James Thynne--"Tom of
Ten Thousand "--was the Lord of Longleat in 1682. He was engaged to
the beautiful sixteen-year-old widow of Lord Ogle, when she had the
misfortune to attract the attention of Count Konigsmark, a Polish
adventurer, whose hired assassins waylaid and shot Thynne in Pall
Mall. The Count escaped punishment, but his instruments were hanged
upon the scene of the crime. The property then passed to a cousin who
became the first Viscount Weymouth. The third Viscount was made
Marquis of Bath when he was the host of George III in 1789. A famous
guest of the first Viscount was Bishop Ken, who stayed at Longleat for
many years as an honoured visitor.

Amongst the treasures on the walls of the corridors and saloons are
several Holbeins, portraits of contemporaries of his, including Henry
VIII. There are also a number by Sir Peter Lely, one being of Bishop
Ken and another of his friend and host; several interesting paintings
of celebrated men of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and some
good representative examples of great artists from Raphael to Watts.
The grand staircase and state drawing-room are of admirable
proportions and form part of the work of Wyatville. In the
drawing-room is treasured a cabinet of coral and a writing tablet
which belonged to Talleyrand. The great hall, which contains a
collection of armour and ancient implements of war of much importance
and value, has a fine wooden roof and minstrels' gallery. Among the
stags' horns that decorate the walls will be seen two mighty
headpieces that once belonged to Irish elks and were discovered in a
peat bog. The chimney-piece here belongs to the period before
Wyatville began his transformation of the interior.

Not least of the attractions of Longleat are its surroundings. The
park is sixteen miles round, and a large portion of this great space
is taken up by garden and pleasaunce, as distinct from the deer park
itself. The approach from Warminster and the north is by a wooded
ascent with Cley Beacon to the right and past "Heaven's Gate," a
favourite view-point with Bishop Ken, who, it is said, composed the
morning hymn associated with his name while contemplating the
inspiring scene before him. Almost as fine is the approach from the
south through the arched gateway on the Horningsham road. This route
passes through groves of magnificent timber and by the string of
delightful ponds that give the place its name.

The road that hugs the Plain on its western side goes almost directly
north from Warminster and, passing Upton Scudamore, reaches Westbury
in less than four miles. The history of this old town is closely bound
up with that of the kings of Wessex and at Westbury Leigh is a site
called the "Palace Garden," encircled by a moat said to have once been
the residence of these monarchs. The Westbury White Horse is supposed
to have been cut as a memorial of the great victory of Alfred over the
Danes in 890 (or 877). In the later Middle Ages, this town, like many
others in the west, was a centre of the cloth trade, and, later, iron
foundries were a feature of the place.

The handsome cruciform church, in the midst of its fine chestnut
trees, is of much interest. Originally Norman, the greater part of the
present building is early Perpendicular. The dingified central tower
and the spaciousness of the interior will be admired. On the south of
the chancel is the Willoughby Chapel, on the north, that of the
Maudits. The south transept contains a monument of Sir James Ley,
created Earl of Marlborough by Charles I. The chained book, a copy of
Erasmus' _Paraphrase_, and also the fine, though modern, stained glass
in the east and west windows is worthy of notice.

A new suburb has grown up on the western side between the original
town and the railway junction nearly a mile away and the immediate
surroundings of the station, as we enter it from the south, are
reminiscent of a northern industrial town. Smoke and clangour, and
odours not often met with in Wiltshire, are very insistent. Not so
many years ago Westbury was in a backwater, if that term may be
applied to railways, but now that it is on the new main route to Devon
and Cornwall the industrial aspect of the town may increase greatly
during the next few years.

Frome, six miles away over the border in Somersetshire and on this
same new way to the west, has shaken off its ancient air of bucolic
peace and now prints books and weaves cloth and does a little in the
manufacture of art metal work. The town, nevertheless, is very
pleasant despite its strenuous endeavour to make money in a way
Mercian rather than West Saxon. Its broad market place and steep and
picturesque streets leading thereto, especially that one named
"Cheap," and the rural throng that congregates on market and fair days
is distinctly that of Wessex. Frome Church is more beautiful within
than without. It is approached, however, by a picturesque and steep
ascent of steps, on the left-hand wall of which are sculptures of the
Stations of the Cross. The church is extraordinary for the number of
its side chapels and its amazing mixture of styles, but the interior
has an air of much dignity and even beauty, which was greatly added to
by a restoration which took place during the fifties of the last
century. Perhaps the most interesting item about the church is the tomb
of Bishop Ken, who was brought here from Longleat "at sunrising." His
body lies just without the east window and the grave is thus described
by Lord Houghton:--

  A basket-work where bars are bent,
  Iron in place of osier;
  And shapes above that represent
  A mitre and a crosier.

[Illustration: FROME CHURCH.]

Again we have been tempted too far afield and must return to the
eastern road out of Westbury that follows the Great Western Railway to
Bratton, not far from Edington station. Above to the right, on one of
the western bastions of the Plain, is the White Horse just mentioned.
It is of great size--180 feet long and 107 in height. It was
"restored" many years ago and the ancient grotesque outline altered by
vandals who should have known better. Above the figure is the great
entrenched camp called Bratton Castle, containing within its walls 23
acres. Bratton Church is built in a peculiar situation against the
side of the Down. The fine cruciform structure, with a handsome four
storied central tower, dates from about 1420 and occupies the site of
an older building, probably Norman. The brass to Seeton Bromwich
(1607) should be noticed. We now proceed by the northern foot of the
hills to Edington, where is one of the most beautiful churches in
Wiltshire, exceeding in its proportions and dignity some of our
smaller cathedrals. It was originally the church of a monastery of
Augustinians founded in 1352 by William of Edyngton, Bishop of
Winchester. A tragedy took place here in 1450 during the Cade
rebellion, when the Bishop of Salisbury (Ayscough) was seized by the
rioters while he was celebrating mass, taken to the summit of the
Downs and there stoned to death. A chapel was afterwards built on the
spot, but the exact site is uncertain. The Bishop's fault was that,
being constantly with the Court, his diocese was neglected and his
flock suffered.

The church was both conventual and parochial; the nave, as usual in
such cases, being the people's portion. The chancel, both in
proportions and detail, is a very fine example of the Decorated style.
In the south transept is a beautiful altar tomb with a richly carved
canopy; the occupant is unknown. So is the resting-place of Bishop
Ayscough. Another fine monument is that in the nave to Sir Ralph
Cheney (1401). The beautiful and original fourteenth-century glass
should be noticed and also the Jacobean pulpit. Of the conventual
buildings nothing remains, but a few fragments of the succeeding
mansion of the Pauletts are now incorporated in a neighbouring
farmhouse. A magnificent yew in the churchyard probably antedates the
present church, and may have been contemporary with an earlier parish
church of which all record has been lost.

[Illustration: WESTBURY WHITE HORSE.]

The road goes onward through the charming villages nestling under the
northern bastions of the Plain that is still on the right hand as it
was at Heytesbury. We are now on the opposite side with lonely Imber
four miles away over the hills, the only settlement between the former
town and Edington. "If one would forsake the world let him go to
Imber," says a modern writer, and an old couplet runs "Imber on the
Down, four miles from any town." After passing Coulston and Erlestoke
(a gem among beautiful hamlets), from rising ground near by, may be
obtained truly glorious views of the west country toward Bath and
Bristol and the distant Severn Sea. A lane now turns left to
Cheverell, where is a fine old mansion with an interesting courthouse
and cells for prisoners, and an Early English church with a
Perpendicular tower. Within the church is a tablet to Sir James
Stonehouse, of interest to those who have explored the Plain, for this
was the "Mr. Johnson" of Hannah More's _Shepherd of Salisbury Plain_
and the cottage in which the shepherd--David Saunders--lived is still
shown in the village.

We now approach a parting of the ways. The Salisbury-Devizes road
crosses that we have been travelling, which runs west and east from
Frome to Andover. Southwards toward Salisbury is the pleasant little
town of West Lavington. Here is a famous college for farmers known as
the Dauntsey School. It was endowed in 1895, partly from certain
moneys left by Alderman Dauntsey who flourished in the fifteenth
century. The Dauntsey almshouses were also an institution associated
with this benevolent merchant. The church is an interesting building
of various dates, from Norman to Perpendicular. The Dauntsey chapel
was erected on the south side in the early fifteenth century for the
family of that name; another, called the Beckett chapel, stands to the
south of the chancel. A fine altar tomb, one of two in the south
transept, bears a recumbent effigy of Henry Danvers. Among other
objects of interest is the memorial of Captain Henry Penruddocke, shot
by soldiers of the Parliament, while asleep in one of the houses of
the village. The road through West Lavington leads to the heart of the
Plain at Tilshead, passing at its highest point St. John a Gore Cross,
where a chantry chapel once stood, a shrine where travellers might
make their orisons before braving the terrors of the great waste.
Tilshead met with a curious misfortune in 1841, according to the
inscription on one of the cottages. A great flood, caused by a very
sudden thaw which liberated some miles of snow-water on the higher
portions of the Plain, tore down the narrow (and usually waterless)
valley and caused great destruction in the tiny village; the old
Norman church being the only building that was quite undamaged. Market
Lavington is farther east on the Pewsey road. It was once of some
importance and is one of those decayed towns that almost justify
Cobbett's claim that the population in the valleys around the Plain
was very much greater in olden days. The church here has a fine
Perpendicular tower, and is partly of this style and partly Decorated.
Within will be observed a squint, an ancient credence table in the
chancel, and a stoup in the vestry.

[Illustration: PORCH HOUSE, POTTERNE.]

Our road now runs northward past Lavington station to Potterne, three
miles from the Lavington cross roads and eleven from Westbury. This is
one of the most attractive villages in Wiltshire; remarkable for its
half-timbered houses of the fifteenth century, especially that known
as "Porch House," purchased and restored by the late George Richmond.
This is supposed to be identical with the old Pack Horse Inn that once
stood in the village. Potterne Church is a fine example of Early
English, and the natural dignity of the building is enhanced by its
domination of the village around it. It is said to have been built by
the same Bishop Poore who erected Salisbury Cathedral, and is the only
church on the present site. An earlier building was once in the old
churchyard. The Perpendicular tower will be admired for its
proportions and detail. When restorations were in progress in 1872 the
archaic tub-shaped font, now standing at the end of the church, was
discovered under the present font. Around the rim are inscribed the
words of the ancient baptismal office:--SICUT. GERVUS. DESIDERAT. AD.
FONTES AQUARUM. ITA. DISIDERAT. ANIMA. MEA. AD. TE. DS. AMEN. (Psalm
xlii. 1). There are several interesting brasses and memorials in the
church and outside on the north side will be seen an old dole table
for the distribution of alms.

Two miles of pleasant undulating road now bring us to Devizes upon its
hill beyond the railway. The town kept, until about a hundred years
ago, its old style "The Devizes"--Ad Divisas,[4] the place where the
boundaries of three manors met. This is the generally accepted
explanation of the name, though there is still room for conjecture.
Remains, considerable in the aggregate, of the Roman period have been
discovered in the town and immediate neighbourhood. It is quite
possible that a Roman origin of the town itself may be looked for; but
it is as a feudal stronghold hold that Devizes began to make its
history and as a humble dependency of that stronghold the modern town
took its beginning. The castle was built by Bishop Roger in the early
years of Henry I, and its chief function seems to have been that of a
prison. Robert, the eldest son of the Conqueror, was shut up in it.
Soon afterwards, its builder, having taken the side of Maud in her
quarrel with Stephen, was imprisoned in a beast house belonging to the
castle, when the king, in one of his smaller successes, took
possession. Another notable prisoner was Hubert de Burgh, who escaped
and flew to St. John's Church for sanctuary; his gaolers recaptured
him at the altar, but soon afterwards gave him liberty on being
threatened with the wrath of the Church. During the reign of Edward
III the nephews of the French king were kept here as hostages. Its
last appearance in history was during the Civil War, when the keep was
defended by Sir Edward Lloyd for the King, but according to Leland it
must by that time have fallen into evil state, for, in 1536, he
writes: "It is now in ruine and parte of the front of the towres of
the gate of the kepe and the chapell in it were caried full
unprofitably, onto the buyldynge of Master Baintons place at Bromeham
full four miles of," and after Cromwell had "slighted" it, the
remnants, goodly enough even then, were used as a free quarry by
anyone desiring to build. The mound and ditch that surrounded the
outer walls and a few fragments of the masonry of a dungeon is all
that can be seen to-day, but the mound is crowned by a modern and
rather imposing castellated building.

[4] An ancient countryman may occasionally be met with who will direct
the pedestrian to "the 'Vize."

The Castle church was St. John's, though of course the fortress had
its own chapel within the walls. Originally a Norman building, St.
John's was much altered during the fifteenth century, when the present
nave was erected and the Tudor chapels of the chancel were added. The
tower is one of the finest and most dignified that we have in the
older style. The ceiling of the south chapel, added to the church by
Lord St. Amand, is a beautiful example of the woodwork of the early
Tudor period, as is that of the present vestry and one-time chapel on
the north side. An extension of the nave took place in 1865, when the
old west front was much altered.

[Illustration: ST. JOHN'S, DEVIZES.]

St. Mary's, the town church, has a Norman chancel and Perpendicular
nave and tower. On the beautiful old roof of the nave is a record of
the actual date and the builder's name:--

  ORATE PRO AIA WILLI SMYTH QUI ISTA ECCLIAM FIERI FECIT,
  QUI OBIIT PRIMO DIE MENSIS JUNII ANNO DNE MILLO CCCCXXXVI.

A fine statue of the Virgin will be noticed in the eastern gable of
the nave. The Transitional south porch has a not unpleasing upper
story dating from 1612.

The streets between the two churches have some good old houses in
them, and the first traversed is called the "Brittox," said to be
derived from "Bretesque," the name for the outer defences of the
castle. The broad market place is one of the most spacious in the
kingdom, and a very interesting sight on market days. Here one may see
the shepherd of Salisbury Plain, or rather, of the Marlborough Downs,
in typical costume--long weather-stained cloak and round black felt,
almost brimless, hat, described by Lady Tennant as having a bunch of
flowers stuck in the brim, but this the writer had never the fortune
to see until the summer of 1921 when the shepherd was also wearing his
own old cavalry breeches and puttees! In the centre of the throng
rises the mock Gothic pinnacled market cross, presented to Devizes in
1814 by Henry Addington, afterwards Viscount Sidmouth, who succeeded
Pitt as Premier. There is a remarkable inscription upon one side of
the pedestal which, for the benefit of those unable personally to
peruse it, a portion is here appended:--

  On Thursday the 25th of January 1753
  Ruth Pierce of Pottern, in this County agreed with
  Three other women to buy a Sack of Wheat in the Market
  Each paying her due proportion toward the same.
  One of these women, in collecting
  The Several Quotas of Money discovered a Deficiency,
  And demanded of Ruth Pierce the sum which was wanting
  To make good the amount: Ruth Pierce protested
  That she had paid her share and said "She wished
  That she might drop down dead if she had not."
  She rashly repeated this awful wish, when, to the
  Consternation and Terror of the surrounding Multitude
  She instantly fell down and expired, having the Money
  Concealed in her hand.

The "Bear" is a spacious inn made out of two fine old houses, and is
famous as the hostelry where the father of Sir Thomas Lawrence was at
one time landlord. He was a man of literary tastes and public-spirited
withal, for he is said to have erected posts upon the lonely hills
hereabouts to guide wayfarers to civilization. Those who have seen
Salisbury Plain in its winter aspect will appreciate what this meant
at the end of the eighteenth century, when cultivation, and the
consequent fence, was not in existence thereon, and to be lost on the
Downs in the snow was a serious adventure. The account of the Lawrence
family in Fanny Burney's Diary is of much interest and throws an
intimate light on certain aspects of English provincial life at that
time.

Besides a large number of pleasant and dignified houses of the
eighteenth century, Devizes has a few older ones, principally in the
alleys at the back of St. John Street; and some fine public buildings
that would not disgrace a town of more consequence. Foremost among
these is the Corn Exchange, close to the "Bear." On its front will be
noticed a statue of the goddess of agriculture. The edifice over which
she presides is of imposing size and shows how great an amount of
business must have been transacted here in the past. The Town Hall
contains several objects of interest which are shown to the visitor,
including a fine set of old corporation plate. The ancient hall of the
wool merchants' Guild is near the castle. Its purpose has long
forsaken the old walls, but under the care of the present occupiers
the well-being of the building is assured. The museum is well worth
seeing. Here is the famous "Marlborough Bucket," said to be of
Armorican origin. It was discovered near Marlborough by Sir R.C.
Hoare, and its contents proved it to be a cinerary urn of a date
probably not much anterior to the Roman occupation of Britain. The
geological collections--stones and fossils; and some interesting
models of Avebury and Stonehenge, and particularly the Stourhead
antiquities--British and prehistoric--should on no account be missed.

An old diary of royal progresses gives the following account of a
foreign visit in 1786:--

  "On September 25 the Archduke and Duchess of Austria with their
  suite arrived in town from Bath. On the road, as they came through
  the Devizes, they met with a singular occurrence, which afforded
  them some entertainment. A custom has prevailed in that place, of
  which the following story is the foundation: A poor weaver passing
  through the place without money and friends, being overtaken by
  hunger and in the utmost necessity, applied for charity to a baker,
  who kindly gave him a penny loaf. The weaver made his way to
  Coventry, where, after many years' industry, he amassed a fortune,
  and by his will, in remembrance of the seasonable charity of
  the Devizes, he bequeathed a sum in trust, for the purpose of
  distributing on the anniversary of the day when he was so relieved
  a halfpenny loaf to every person in the town, gentle and simple,
  and to every traveller that should pass through the town on that
  day a penny loaf. The will is faithfully adminstered, and the Duke
  of Austria and his suite passing through the town on the day of
  the Coventry loaf, on their way from Bath to London, a loaf was
  presented to each of them, of which the Duke and Duchess were most
  cheerfully pleased to accept, and the custom struck the Archduke so
  forcibly as a curious anecdote in his travels that he minuted down
  the circumstance, and the high personages seemed to take delight in
  breakfasting on the loaf thus given as the testimony of gratitude
  for a favour seasonably conferred."

[Illustration: BISHOP'S CANNINGS.]

St. James' Church, with its fine Perpendicular tower, will be passed
if the main road is taken toward Avebury. A better way for the
traveller on foot is to go by the beautiful avenue called Quakers'
Walk to Roundway Down and Oliver's Camp, the last named being actually
an ancient encampment, given its present name because the battle for
Devizes in the Civil War took place close by. The fight was not a
Parliamentary success and Waller was forced to retire before the
King's men under Lord Wilmot. The Down was in consequence renamed
"Runaway" by the jubilant Cavaliers. Below the face of the hill to the
south-west is the picturesque village of Rowde, famous for its quaint
old inn. If the Roundway route is chosen a descent should be made to
Bishop's Cannings lying snugly under the steep side of Tan Hill. Here
is a magnificent church of much interest and beauty. The cruciform
building is in the main Transitional and Early English. The dignified
central tower has a spire of stone. The corbels supporting the roof
are carved with representations of Kings and Abbots. The interior is
impressive in its splendid proportions and graceful details, and of
especial beauty are the Perpendicular arches inserted in the nave. The
fine triple lancets of the chancel, transepts and west end also call
for notice. To the east of the south transept is the former chapel of
Our Lady of the Bower. This has been the Ernle chantry since 1563. It
contains monuments of this family and an ancient helmet bearing their
crest hangs on the wall. The south transept has a piscina and in the
north transept is a curious old carved chair, said to have been used
by the guardian of a shrine, but whose or what shrine is unknown. The
two-storied building on the north-east of the chancel, consisting of a
sacristry and priest's room, is the oldest part of the church. James I
was entertained in the village during one of his progresses by the
vicar who, with the help of his parishioners, rendered some of his own
compositions for the edification of the King.

The Avebury road now ascends the sparsely inhabited chalk hills, part
of the range known under the general designation of the Marlborough
Downs. To the left, on the northern slopes of Roundway Down, have been
erected a number of gaunt and lofty wireless masts, visible for a
great distance. They may be said to stand in a cemetery, so numerous
are the round barrows scattered about the surrounding hills. After
passing a reservoir on the left the road reaches the lonely
"Shepherd's Shore," nearly 600 feet up. Just past this point the
mysterious Wansdyke is crossed. Hereabouts the Dyke runs in a fairly
straight line east and west, where this direction keeps to the summit
of the hills. It is well seen from our road as it descends on the
right from Horton Down. To the east it eventually becomes lost in the
fastnesses of Savernake Forest. Westwards it is, for some distance,
identical with the Roman road to Bath. The "Wodensdyke" appears to
have been made to protect south-western England from foes coming out
of the midlands, but whether it was the work of Brito-Roman or West
Saxon is unknown. Our way now drops past three conspicuous barrows on
the left, with the Lansdown Column showing up on the summit of
Cherhill Down beyond. This was erected to commemorate the birth of
Edward VII. Presently, in the other direction, to the right front,
appears the dark mass of Silbury Hill, perhaps another monument to a
great monarch, but of an age too distant for conjecture.

Seven miles from Devizes we reach the Bath road at Beckhampton, first
crossing the track of the old Roman Bath-Silchester way about
three-quarters of a mile before it joins the modern road. We are now
in the valley of the Kennet, which here turns east after an infant
course under the long line of Hackpen Hill and through the
out-of-the-way villages of Winterbourne Basset, Monkton and Berwick
Basset. The "winter bourne" is actually the baby Kennet, that in dry
summers hardly makes an appearance. Berwick has a family connexion
with Wooton, over the hills and far away to the north-west. Hackpen is
almost the final effort of the chalk in this direction. At its
northern end it rises to 884 feet, an isolated section being crowned
by Barbury Camp, ringed by its beech trees, from which there is a
grand view north and west. From this point the general trend of the
chalk escarpment is north-east to the Lambourn Downs, between Lambourn
and Wantage. Along the brow of this long ridge wanders that
fascinating old track indifferently termed Ridgeway and Icknield Way,
which only leaves the highlands to cross the Thames at Streatley. But
we are off our own track now and must return to Avebury, or Abury as
the natives have it. The village is a mile from Beckhampton, and a
short distance up the by-road the first glimpse of our goal may be had
on the left in the two "Long Stones" just visible across a field. A
little farther one gets the best distant view of Silbury Hill--one
which shows its artificial character and true shape to great
advantage. The sombre tone of the turf that clothes it is remarkable;
when seen against the pale sweep of the Downs behind, its sides do not
appear to _reflect_ light at all.

[Illustration: SILBURY HILL.]

"As a cathedral is to a parish church," Aubrey's comparison of Avebury
with Stonehenge is difficult to understand upon merely a casual visit.
To grasp the unique character of this, the oldest prehistoric monument
in Europe, and perhaps in the world, we must take for granted the
investigations and discoveries of antiquaries and archaeologists
during the last 250 years, and if the comparison between their
conjectural but approximately correct plans and the present aspect of
this mysterious relic of the Stone Age is disappointing and
perplexing, we can only be thankful that the work of Farmer Green and
Tom Robinson, the two despoilers mentioned by the earliest
investigators, has been prevented in their descendants, and that
though the circles are incapable of restoration, the few stones that
remain will be preserved for all time.

Avebury is undoubtedly older than Stonehenge and must belong to the
true Neolithic period, whether the former does or not. Of the original
six hundred and fifty megaliths eighteen are standing and about the
same number are buried. Some are nearly 17 feet high, and the rampart
that encloses the Temple is no less than 4,500 feet round and from 10
to 20 feet in height, though it is computed that from the bottom of
the ditch to the wall must have originally been nearly 50 feet. The
modern village, built of some of the missing stones, is partly within
the circular earthwork. This rampart is the only part of the great
work which can be readily comprehended by the visitor. A circle of one
hundred stones is said by the archaeologist Stukely to have stood
around the edge of the enclosure, forty-four still standing in his
time (1720). The same writer asserts that within the great circle were
two other separate rings consisting of thirty stones, and each
containing an inner circle of twelve stones. The northern of these
rings had three large stones in the middle; the southern, one enormous
stone 27 feet high and nearly 9 feet round. One, or possibly two,
avenues of stones led south-east and south-west; that going in the
direction of West Kennet may still be traced and fifteen stones
remain, but the other is conjectural, if it existed at all. The two
megaliths seen from the Beckhampton road may be a remnant of it. The
purpose of all this intricate and elaborate work is a puzzling problem
and, like the mystery of Stonehenge, will probably remain a secret to
the end. The literature of Avebury, not quite so copious as that of
the stones of the Plain, is also more diffident in its guessing.
Avebury has given a title to the most modest and thorough of its
students, and his writings on this and the other prehistoric monuments
of Wiltshire, a county that must have been a holy land some thousands
of years ago, should be studied by all who have any concern in the
long-buried past of their country.

Avebury Church, just without the rampart, was originally a Saxon
building, its aisles being Norman additions. The chancel was rebuilt
in 1879, but certain old features are preserved. The fine tower is
Perpendicular. The font may be Saxon, though the ornamentation is of a
later date. Avebury Manor House, beyond the churchyard, is a beautiful
old sixteenth-century dwelling; it marks the site of a twelfth-century
monastery.

About one mile south of Avebury rises the extraordinary mound called
Silbury Hill, as wonderful in its way as either of the two great stone
circles of Wiltshire and perhaps part of one plan with them. It is
said to be the largest artificial hill in Europe and bears comparison,
as far as the labour involved in its erection is concerned, with the
Pyramids. The mound is 1,660 feet round at the base and covers over
five acres. It is now just 130 feet high, but when made it is probable
that the top was more acute and consequently higher. A circle of
sarsens once surrounded the base, but these have almost all
disappeared. Pepys repeats an old tradition that a King Seall was
buried upon the hill; but it is extraordinary that Avebury and Silbury
were less known to our forefathers than Stonehenge, and the first
mention of these two places, as being of antiquarian or historic
interest, is in the seventeenth century. Excavations during recent
years have done little or nothing to clear up the mystery of Silbury.
The fact that the Roman road (which leaves the Bath road just west of
Silbury) here deviates slightly from its usual straightness is
significant and proves that the mound was in existence when the road
was made. The villagers around used to ascend the hill on Palm Sunday
to eat "fig cakes" and drink sugar and water. It has been suggested
that this ceremony had some connexion with the gospel story of the
barren fig tree, but it is much more probable that the tradition has a
very early origin. As a matter of fact the cakes were mostly made with
raisins which are called figs by natives of Wessex.

[Illustration: DEVIL'S DEN.]

To the south-east of Silbury is the "Long Barrow," one of the most
famous in England. This tumulus is over 330 feet long and about 60
feet wide. When the stone chamber was opened some years ago, four
skeletons were found within. Vestiges of a small stone circle remain
on the South of the Bath road, between it and the Kennet, and almost
on the track of the Ridgeway. If the Way is followed northwards towards
the slopes of Overton Hill we reach the "quarry" where most of the
megalithic monuments of Wiltshire originated. These extraordinary
stones, thickly scattered over the southern slopes of the Marlborough
Downs, are generally known as the "Grey Wethers," or "Sarsens." At one
time supposed to have been brought to their present position by
glacial action, they are now said to be, and undoubtedly are, the
result of denudation. They are composed of a hard grey sandstone which
once covered the chalk; the softer portions wearing away left the
tough core lying in isolated masses upon the hills. Not far away in
Clatford Bottom is the "Devil's Den," a cromlech upon the remains of a
long barrow; the upper slab measures nine feet by eight. The Downs
above Fyfield form a magnificent galloping and training ground for the
racing stables near by. Our road, the Bath highway, now follows the
Kennet into Marlborough, six miles from Avebury.

[Illustration: MARLBOROUGH.]




CHAPTER XI

THE BERKSHIRE BORDER AND NORTH HAMPSHIRE


Marlborough is in Wiltshire, but it will be legitimate to start a
slight exploration of the middle course of the Kennet from the old
Forest town. Here the clear chalk stream, fresh from the highlands of
the Marlborough Downs, runs as a clear and inviting little river at
the foot of the High Street gardens. For Marlborough is a flowery and
umbrageous town in its "backs," however dull it may appear to the
traveller by the railway, from which dis-vantage point most English
towns look their very worst.

Although the river was never wide enough to bring credit or renown to
Marlborough, the borough had another channel of profit and good
business in its position on the Bath Road. The part that great highway
played in the two hundred years which ended soon after Queen Victoria
commenced her long reign seems likely to have a renewal in these days
of revived road travel. Ominous days are these for the iron ways that,
for almost a century, have half ruined the old road towns of England,
but at the same time left them in such a state of suspended animation
that they are mostly delightful and unspoilt reminders of another age.

The fine and spacious High Street that once echoed with the horns of a
dozen coaches in the course of an afternoon now hums with the
machinery of half a hundred motors in an hour, and if they do not all
stop, some do, and leave the worthy burgesses a greater amount of
wealth and a cleaner roadway than their more picturesque predecessors.

The municipality is very ancient and still retains some quaint
customs. Not that, however, of the medieval fee for admission to the
corporation consisting of two greyhounds, two white capons, and a
white bull! The last item must have given the aspirant for civic
honour much wearisome searching of farmyards before he found the
acceptable colour. Like so many of the old towns through which we have
wandered, Marlborough has suffered from fire; one in the middle of the
seventeenth century was of particular fury, for, with the exception of
the beautiful old gabled houses on the higher side of the sloping main
street, the town was then practically destroyed. "Two hundred and
fifty dwellings and Saint Mary's church are gone, and over three
hundred families forced to crave the hospitality of the neighbouring
farmers and gentry, or wander about the fields vainly looking for
shelter. Every barn and beast-house filled to overflowing."

The tradesmen of High Street say that theirs is the widest street in
England. This may be so. It is undoubtedly one of the most pleasant
and picturesque, and "the great houses supported on pillars," to which
Pepys refers in his Diary, still remain on the north side.

Marlborough had not actually a Roman beginning. The station known as
Cunetio was nearly three miles away to the east. But the castle hill
antedates this period considerably and is supposed to be an artificial
mound of unknown antiquity, perhaps made by the men who reared Silbury
Hill. It is said that within lie the bones of Merlin. Quite possibly
this idea arose from the resemblance of the ancient form of
Marlborough--"Merlebergh" to the name of the half legendary sorcerer.
The real origin of the town-name is supposed to be the West Saxon
"Maer-leah" or cattle boundary. Here was erected in the earlier years
of the Conqueror's reign a castle that was strengthened and rebuilt in
succeeding generations until, somewhere about the rise of the Tudor
power, it was allowed to fall into decay. It was probably in the
Castle Chapel of St. Nicholas that King John was married to Isabella
of Gloucester in 1180, and in the church at Preshute, the parish
church of the Castle, is an enormous font of black marble brought from
this chapel. A tradition has it that King John was baptized in it. The
only real fighting recorded as taking place around the Castle, while
it was in existence, was during the time of Fitz Gilbert, who held it
for the Empress Maud. Of more importance was the sallying forth,
during the Civil War, of the Royalists, who had fortified a mansion
which had arisen from the Castle ruins, against the republican town,
capturing and partly burning it. The soldiers displayed great
savagery, fifty-three houses being destroyed. The garrison of "the
most notoriously disaffected town in Wiltshire" was the first taken in
the War. The Castle was also famous as the place of meeting for the
Parliament of Henry III which passed the "Statutes of Marlborough,"
the Charter for which Simon de Montfort had risked and suffered so
much.

Of more living interest are the ancient and beautiful buildings of
Marlborough School, instituted in 1843 by a number of public-spirited
men, headed by a priest of the Church of England--Charles Plater. The
school is the scene of Stanley Weyman's _The Castle Inn_, for it was
formerly that historic hostel, one of the finest and most famous in
England, before the disappearance of the road traveller caused the
collapse of the old-fashioned posting-houses. Before the year 1740 it
had been a mansion, originally built by Lord Seymour during the reign
of Charles II. It afterwards passed through several hands, and, while
in the possession of Lady Hertford, saw the entertainment of some of
the literary lions of the day, including Thomson of _The Seasons_ and
Isaac Watts. In 1767, when it had become the largest inn in England,
it was the headquarters of Lord Chatham who, while on the road,
developed an attack of gout and, shutting himself up in his room,
remained there some weeks. "Everybody who travelled that road was
amazed by the number of his attendants. Footmen and grooms, dressed in
his family livery, filled the whole inn and swarmed in the streets of
the little town. The truth was that the invalid had insisted that
during his stay all the waiters and stable boys of the 'Castle' should
wear his livery." The fine school chapel was added in 1882 and several
extensive and necessary additions have been made to the original
buildings. Among famous headmasters may be mentioned Dean Bradley and
Dean Farrar.

[Illustration: GARDEN FRONT, MARLBOROUGH COLLEGE.]

King Edward the VI Grammar School is at the far end of the town. The
old buildings were pulled down in 1905. In this school Dr.
Sacheverell, who was born in Marlborough, received his education. The
present St. Mary's Church practically dates from the great fire of
1653, and is a very poor specimen of debased Perpendicular. The
chancel was added in 1874. A Norman doorway at the west end should be
noticed. The tower of the church shows traces of the Royalist attack
on the town in 1642. St. Peter's Church, not far from the College, is
Perpendicular, and from its high and finely designed tower, curfew
still rings each night through the year. Within, the groined roof and
beautiful design of the windows are worthy of notice.

Beautiful in the extreme is the walk through Savernake Forest which,
if it is not to be compared with the New Forest either in size or
wildness, does in one particular surpass the latter, namely in its
magnificent vistas and beech avenues. The central walk between
Marlborough and Savernake is unsurpassed in England and probably in
Europe. It leads to Tottenham House, situated at the eastern extremity
and belonging to the Marquis of Ailesbury. This mansion stands on the
site of an old house of the Seymours, to whom the Forest passed from
the Plantagenet Kings (it was a jointure of Queen Eleanor). By marriage
the estates afterwards went to the Bruces, who still hold them.

Herds of deer roam the open glades, and wild life is abundant and
varied. In some parts of the Forest the thickets and dense undergrowth
are reminiscent of the district between the Rufus Stone and
Fording-bridge in the greater Forest, but the highest beauty of
Savernake lies in the avenues of oak and beech which extend for miles
and meet about midway between Durley and Marlborough. Here are no fir
plantations to strike an alien note. Rugged and ancient trees that
were saplings in Stuart times or before and the dense young growth of
to-day are all natural to the soil. The column that stands on high
ground, a little over a mile from Savernake station, commemorates,
among other events, the temporary recovery of George III from his
mental illness.

Great Bedwyn was once a Parliamentary borough and, in more remote
times still, a town of importance. It has a station on the
Reading-Taunton Railway and can be reached by circuitous roads from
Savernake Forest. Although nominally still a market town, it is really
but a large village. It is mentioned in the Saxon records as the scene
of a battle between the men of Wessex and those of Mercia in the great
struggle for domination in 675. The cruciform church is a fine
structure, mostly built of flint and dating from Transitional times.
The chancel is Early English and the transepts Decorated, but the nave
is of the older style with fine ornamentation. In the chancel will be
noticed the effigy of Sir John Seymour (1536), the father of Protector
Somerset. A brass commemorates another John Seymour, brother of the
Protector. There is also a monument to a daughter of Robert Devereux,
Earl of Essex. In the south transept is an effigy, cross legged, of
Sir Adam de Stokke (1312) and a plain slab with an incised cross of
another of his family. The church has a quantity of stained glass of
much beauty. An ancient Market Hall once stood in the centre of the
spacious main street; while it stood the villagers were reminded of
the vanished glories of Bedwyn. The road proceeds past Chisbury Hill,
a prehistoric camp on the Wansdyke. Within the earthwork is a barn
that was once the Decorated church of St. Martin. Mr. A.H. Allcroft
thinks that the original building was erected shortly after the drawn
battle between Wessex and Mercia that took place on the Downs
hereabouts in 675. Froxfield is reached just short of the Berkshire
border and the way accompanies the railway and canal through Little
Bedwyn, where is a stone-spired church dating from the early
thirteenth century. Froxfield Church is outside the village on a hill.
It is a small and ancient Norman building, quaint and picturesque. The
old Somerset Hospital here was founded in 1686 by Sarah Duchess of
Somerset for thirty widows of the clergy and others; about half that
number are now maintained in the beautiful old buildings, grouped
round a quadrangle high above the road.

At Hungerford, the first town in Berkshire, over nine miles _direct_
from Marlborough, we return to the Kennet. The townsmen are proud of
the fact that their liberties were given them by John of Gaunt, who
held the Royal Manor, which afterwards became the property of the
town, and as proof of the charter they still show the stranger a
famous horn presented to the burgesses by the great Duke of Lancaster.
A fierce battle is said to have raged on the banks of the Kennet
between West Saxons and Danes, where now anglers whip the stream for
the fat trout that this part of Kennet breeds. The historic _Bear Inn_
was the lodging of William of Orange on the night of December 6, 1688,
when he received the messengers of James II. Hungerford Church is now
of small interest. It has been rebuilt within recent times and
contains little from the old building. A cross-legged effigy is
supposed to represent Sir Robert de Hungerford (1340).

In coming from Marlborough to Hungerford the valley of the Kennet has
been left to the north, but only for the purpose of noting the
beauties that lie around Savernake Forest and the course of the Avon
Canal. The Kennet in its upper course is equally beautiful and, if
possible, an additional journey should be made through the picturesque
village of Axford, passing on the way Mildenhall, the one-time
Cunetio. The site of the Roman station is now marked by Folly Farm.
The most attractive place on this part of the river is Ramsbury, six
miles from Marlborough and five from Hungerford. That this little town
was evidently of great antiquity is proved by the important place it
held in the tenth century, when it was a "stool" of the Bishop of
Wiltshire. Originally the name of the town was Hrafensbyrig or
Ravensbury. The Early English church contains a number of interesting
relics of the supposed cathedral discovered in the restoration of the
existing building. They consist of sculptured stones of fine design
and well preserved. In the Darell Chapel is an altar tomb and others
to various members of this once famous family. A canopied tomb of
William de St. John stands in the chancel. Other interesting items are
the finely sculptured font and stoups at the north and south doors.
Ramsbury Park has been passed on the way here from Marlborough. In it
is the manor house, a seventeenth-century building, containing a
famous collection of armour. The Kennet is at its best as it flows
through the park.

On the Hungerford side of Ramsbury, and to the south of the Kennet, is
the famous Littlecote Manor, a magnificent and unexcelled
sixteenth-century house. Built by the Darells it passed to the
Pophams, one of whom was a leader of the Parliamentarians. A gruesome
and probably true story is told of the last of the Darells--"Wild
Dayrell." A midwife deposed that she had been fetched blindfold to
attend a lady at dead of night. When her offices were over, a
wild-looking man seized the infant and hurled it in a blazing fire.
Afterwards apprehended, Darell by some trick managed to defeat
justice.

A beautiful side excursion can be taken soon after leaving Ramsbury to
Aldbourne, three miles from the Hungerford road. This small town,
which boasts a fine church of much dignity and interest, is situated
at the end of the lonely expanse of Aldbourne Chase. From the heights
above views may be had of the distant Cotswold and Malvern Hills.
Chilton Foliat, picturesquely placed on the river bank, is the only
village passed on the way to Hungerford. Its church contains a number
of monuments to the Popham family and a cross-legged effigy of an
unknown person.

Kintbury is three miles from Hungerford on the road which follows the
canal and railway toward Newbury. The interesting and partly Norman
church was pulled about in a shameful manner in the middle of the last
century. Another restoration about forty years ago repaired the
mischief as far as was possible. The Norman doorways remain much in
their original condition, also the chancel arch and the two squints.
Kintbury is a pleasant and typical Berkshire village, little altered
by the railway, which seems to have spared these old towns and
villages in the Kennet valley in a remarkable way, possibly because
"desirable villadom" has taken itself entirely to the banks of the
Thames away to the north.

The road may be now taken northwards over the Kennet Bridge in two
miles to Avington, which is only about two miles from Hungerford
direct and just off the main Newbury road. The church here should on
no account be missed. It is a perfect gem of pure Norman architecture,
the only portion of later date being the Tudor south porch and arch
near the font; the priest's door; vestry arch and window, and a low
side window. It will be noticed that the chancel arch is broken at the
top. The font has grotesque sculpture upon it, the subjects being
doubtful. The early carvings and arabesques in the church are of great
interest and will repay careful scrutiny. Avington is one of the
smallest of hamlets, but wonderfully pretty in its setting of green on
the river-bank. The picturesque rectory is close to the church.

The Newbury road runs about half a mile north of the river past Stock
Cross and Benham Park to Speen, generally supposed to be identical
with Spinae, the Roman station at the junction of the roads from Bath
and Cirencester to Silchester. Not far from the rebuilt church is an
ancient well over which has been erected in recent years a Gothic
arch. One mile farther, eight from Hungerford, and we are in Newbury,
perhaps the "new burb" in comparison with the older settlement of
Speen. A castle built in 1140 was in existence but a few years. It was
destroyed by King Stephen after being held for the Empress Maud during
a three months' siege. Newbury took part in the Wars of the Roses and
stood for the House of York. When the Lancastrians entered the town in
1460 the partisans of York were put to the sword. Every one has heard
of "Jack of Newbury." He was a rich cloth merchant named John
Smallwood who lived in North-Brook Street at a time when the town was
famed for its woollen trade. His patriotism led him to gather one
hundred and fifty of the youth of Newbury and, himself marching at
their head, took part with his men in the battle of Flodden. His house
still stands, although greatly altered to outward appearance; in its
old rooms Henry VIII was received as a guest and proffered to the
worthy clothier a knighthood in recognition of his services to the
state, an honour which Smallwood sturdily refused.

During the Marian persecutions the Master of Reading School--Julian
Palmer, with others, was burnt at the stake. But the stirring events
of the Civil War eclipse the earlier historical interest. Two
important battles were fought in the near vicinity of the town. The
first took place on September 20, 1643. The Londoners, under Essex,
were returning to the capital after raising the siege of Gloucester,
and had taken the longer, and southern, route as being the most open
and practicable. News of the approach reached the King at Oxford and
it was decided to stop them and give battle. Essex had led his men out
of Hungerford the day before and in the evening he found his way
barred by the Royalist cavalry at Newbury Wash. The Parliamentary
forces bivouacked on Crockham Heath and next morning opened the
attack. They were fortunate enough to be able to seize the high ground
commanding the Kintbury road before the King's men awoke to the
importance of the position. The Life Guards under Biron charged up the
hill with great valour, but failed to shift the stubborn townsmen, and
brave and gentle Falkland was killed in the melee. On the Highclere
road, about a mile out of Newbury, stands the monument to this noble
and pathetic figure, whose heart seems to have been broken by the
wretched times in which he lived.

On the other side of the field Prince Rupert, after repeated attempts
to cut a way through the London infantry, met with as little success
as the Guards, and the vanguard of the Parliamentary Army had forced
its way steadily along the London road, so that, when night fell,
after a day of heroic fighting on both sides, the King decided to
retire into Newbury, and the way into London was open to the
Republicans.

The second battle took place after a year had passed, on October 27,
1644. The King's cause had been victorious in the west, and his army
had afterwards successfully relieved Donnington Castle. The Royal
forces were in a strong position to the north of Newbury, between Shaw
House and the Kennet, with Donnington in the centre of the defences.
The Army of the Parliament, under the joint command of Essex and
Manchester, and numbering among the sub-commandants Cromwell and the
redoubtable Waller, made a concerted attack from front and rear. In
this fight the honours may be said to have lain with the King as, with
the exception of the artillery, the Royal losses were small and a
successful retreat during the night quite defeated the object of the
Republican attack, which was to smash, once and for all, the army
opposed to them.

Beautiful old Shaw House, one of the finest in Berkshire, still shows
traces of the fight in the earthworks that partly encircle it. The
mansion was built by another celebrated clothier of Newbury, one
Thomas Dolman, whose namesake and descendant was knighted at the
Restoration.

Newbury Church was rebuilt by "Jack of Newbury," and the date of its
completion (1532) may be seen on a corbel. This was after Smallwood's
death, the work being finished by his son. The clothier's brass (1519)
may be seen among others. The appointments of the church are fine and
imposing; the Jacobean pulpit, dated 1607, should be noticed, also the
history of the church, in the form of an illuminated chart, on the
west wall. The hero of the town was married in the chapel of the old
Hospital of St. Bartholomew which was turned into a school in the
reign of Edward VI. Some of the school buildings are of a later date
than this. The most picturesque old house in the town, which really
contains few that are ancient, is Newbury Museum, once the Cloth Hall.
There is a pleasing glimpse of the Kennet from the short high bridge
in the main street and a still pleasanter view of the bridge itself
from the river path below.

[Illustration: CLOTH HALL, NEWBURY.]

A charming excursion can be taken to Lambourne, up in the heart of the
chalk hills to the north-west. This was one of King Alfred's towns,
and until the coming of the light railway one of the most unknown and
remote in the kingdom. Railway and road follow the course of the
Lambourne, a delightful river, clear and cold from the chalk and never
seeming to run dry, as do other streams of a like nature in
exceptionally hot summers. Another railroad goes directly north from
Newbury and forms the main route between Oxford and Winchester. This
also penetrates the heart of the Berkshire uplands and taps a district
inexhaustible in charm and interest, in the centre of which is
Wantage, famous as the birthplace of Alfred. But this country has been
fully described by Mr. Ditchfield in "Byeways in Berkshire."

The Bath road in a little over three miles from Newbury reaches
Thatcham, once, by all accounts, a large and prosperous market town,
but this was in the days of the Angevin kings. The great market square
probably dates from their time and the battered remains of the old
market cross may have replaced a still more ancient one. The fine
church has a Norman door and Transitional arcading, but a very
thorough "restoration" has obliterated most of the ancient features.
The Danvers and Fuller tombs should be seen, also an interesting brass
to Thomas Loundye. The fabric of a chantry chapel at the other end of
the village dates from 1334, but it was much altered in externals in
the early eighteenth century, when it was turned into a school.

The Bath-London road that we have travelled from Marlborough now
approaches the most beautiful stretches of the Kennet, lined with fine
parklands on the gentle northern slopes of the valley. The high hedges
and fences are in places very jealous of the beauties they encircle,
but there are charming glimpses here and there of this pleasant
countryside. Woolhampton, with a modern church of no particular
interest, is passed four miles from Thatcham, and two miles farther
comes Aldermaston Station, where we leave the great highway and turn
south to Aldermaston Wharf on the Kennet Canal. This is a most
pleasant spot, and to enhance the charm of the surroundings a large
sheet of ornamental water has been formed, close to, and fed by, the
channel. Aldermaston village is nearly two miles to the south-west and
well-placed among the wooded hills that march with the Hampshire
border. The aspect of the village is as unspoilt as any in the old
Berkshire by-ways. At the southern end of the street are the gates of
Aldermaston Park; a picturesque expanse of broken ground with several
fine avenues, and populated by herds of deer. The old Jacobean mansion
was burnt down in 1843, although a few of the ancient features were
saved and incorporated in the new house. Close to the park is the
church, the foundations of which are Norman, as are also the very fine
and uncommon west door and two blocked-up doors in the chancel and
nave. In the chapel on the south side is the tomb of Sir George
Forster and his lady (1526) with their twenty attendant children. The
knight's feet rest against his favourite hound and a lap dog is
pulling at the lady's dress. There are also brasses to some other
members of the Forster family which owned the manor during Elizabethan
days. The pulpit and sounding board belong to this period. The lancet
windows of the chancel date this portion of the church as about 1270.
There are some ancient frescoes, faint and dim by contrast with the
modern scheme of decoration; they represent St. Christopher carrying
our Lord, and, below, a mermaid and fish.

Silchester is about four miles to the south-east by winding ways that
lead over the hills of the Hampshire border. The traveller who comes
prepared to find the actual ruins of the Roman Calleva spread before
him will be grievously disappointed. The economic necessities of to-day
have rendered the surrender of the site to the agriculturist as
necessary as it is appropriate. The sandy soil of North Hants is a
better protection to these remnants of a former civilization than all
the tarpaulins or sheds that would otherwise have to be used. Minute
and accurate plans of the foundations, that include those of a small
Christian Basilica, were made in sections, as they were uncovered, over
a period extending from 1864 to 1910. For a detailed study of the
surveys, and of the many antiquities capable of removal, those
interested must visit the Reading Museum. It has been found that the
walls of Calleva followed the irregular outline of a former British
stronghold, and instead of the usual square plan the outline of the
city was seven-sided. The remnants of the flint walls are nearly one
and three-quarter miles round and contain within their circumference
about 100 acres. Within the east gate is an old farmhouse and the
interesting parish church of Silchester, dating mostly from the
thirteenth century.

The beautiful fir woods that are such a feature of the surrounding
landscape make rambles in any direction most delightful. By-ways may be
taken eastwards to the Stratfields--Mortimer, Saye and Turgis. The
second is well known as the residence of the great Duke of Wellington
and his successors, who hold it by presenting a flag to the King on the
anniversary of Waterloo.

About three miles south of Silchester is an interesting church at
Bramley. It is more than probable that the ruins of the former place
were used by the builders of this church. The older portions, the north
side of the nave and the font, are Norman. Part of the chancel is Early
English and the tower, built of brick, just antedates the Civil War.
The ugly Brocas chapel on the south side was erected in the opening
years of the nineteenth century. It contains a "monstrous fine"
sculpture of one of the family and bears on the roof their gilded
Moor's head crest as a vane. The most interesting detail in the church
is a series of wall paintings, including one of the martyrdom of St.
Thomas a Becket. The west gallery was added in the early eighteenth
century and is a handsome erection. Not far away is the fine old Manor
House, now divided into tenements, but still a gracious and dignified
"black-and-white" building.

A by-way going westwards through "Little London" eventually leads to a
number of interesting villages, among them Pamber and Monk Sherborne,
which form one parish. The church used by Pamber is a remnant of the
old Priory church founded by Henry I, and consists of the ancient choir
and tower dating from the end of the twelfth century. Within are a few
relics of this period, including several old coffin slabs, a font and a
wooden cross-legged effigy belonging to the thirteenth century. Monk
Sherborne Church has a Norman door and chancel arch and also a piscina
of this period. The remainder of the much-restored fabric is mainly
Early English.

For our present goal--Kingsclere--the way is circuitous, but extremely
pleasant. (In fine weather it is possible to take a short cut by field
paths for the greater part of the distance.) After crossing the almost
obliterated Port Way, as the road from Silchester to Old Sarum is
called, and nearly eight miles of cross country rambling from Bramley,
a main highway is reached at Wolverton, where the church is reputed to
be a work of Sir Christopher Wren. This is unlikely, but the design of
the tower is familiar to anyone acquainted with London City and dates,
with the remainder of the fabric, from 1717. The red-brick walls
relieved by white stone are a little startling at first in such an
out-of-the-way village, but their effect is not unpleasing, and when
the church is entered its fine proportions will be admired by anyone
not slavishly bound to the worship of "Gothic." The powers that once
ruled here evidently thought otherwise, for several attempts have
obviously been made to do away with some of the classic details. The
fine contemporary woodwork of the chancel and other irreplacable
details were destroyed or seriously damaged by a destructive fire about
twelve years ago.

[Illustration: WOLVERTON.]

In another two miles Kingsclere is reached. This is a very ancient
town and was under the Saxon Kings, as its name proclaims, a royal
manor. Its "papers" go back to the eighth century. After the
Conqueror's day it passed into the hands of the church, and Rouen
Canons were its overlords. When they became aliens in political fact,
the manor passed to William de Melton. King John had one of his
hunting lodges at Freeman tie on the south of the town. No history has
been made at Kingsclere since Charles passed the night of October 21,
1644, here, on his way to Newbury, but there is an air of "far-off
things and battles long ago" about the quiet little town and its grey
and solemn Norman church. The stern square church tower is a fine
example of early twelfth-century work, majestic in its simplicity, but
apart from this the exterior appears to have been scraped clean of
ancient details by a drastic restoration. Within, the spacious and
fine proportions of the building atone for a great deal that has been
lost by the mistaken zeal of Victorian renovators. The font, pulpit
and Norman north door are of especial interest; of less ancient
details, the Jacobean pulpit and the great chandelier, dated 1713,
call for notice.

The Downs to the south of Kingsclere are of much beauty and
comparatively unknown to the tourist. Although of no great height and
unremarkable in outline, the splendour of the colouring, especially
after August is past, of the woods that cover the sides of the
undulating billows of chalk is unforgettable. The Port Way, ignoring
all hills and dales in its uncompromising straightness, occasionally
shows itself as a rough track along the open side of a spinney, or as
a well-marked score in the escarpment of a Down, but never as a modern
highway east of Andover. The road winding and up and down westwards
from Kingsclere is a pleasant enough adaptation of a possible British
trackway, and brings us in a short four miles to Burghclere, where
there is a station on the Great Western Railway between Newbury and
Winchester. At Sydmonton, half a mile short of the railway, a grassy
lane leads up to Ladle Hill (768 feet), the bold bastion of chalk to
to the south. Here we may obtain a fine view of the characteristic
scenery of northern Hampshire. The curving undulations of the chalk
have many a hut circle and tumulus to tell of the fierce life that
once peopled these solitary wastes. Then the valleys were shunned as
inimical to human kind. Now the depths of almost every wrinkle and
fold has some habitation, and many a small hamlet lies out of sight
among the trees, unguessed at from the hill-road above. Away to the
south is Great Litchfield Down--literally the "Dead-field"; perhaps
the scene of a great battle, but more probably the cemetery of a
forgotten race. The still higher Beacon Hill (853 feet) appears close
at hand, as does Sidown, on the other side of Burghclere, where is
perhaps an even finer view. The old church down by the railway station
was "polished up" in a very painstaking way about fifty years ago, but
still retains a Norman nave which seems to have resisted the
sandpapering process. Highclere Park and Castle form a show-place of
the first rank; the park being beyond all praise. The slopes of the
Downs and some of their summits are within this beautiful domain of
the Earls of Carnarvon. Ear away from the Castle the park is entirely
natural and unconfined, but around the house--for an actual "castle"
is non-existent--magnificent avenues of rhododendrons make a perfect
blaze of colour in the early summer. The "Jacobean" pile high on the
hillside is so only in name, for it was built by the architect of Big
Ben. Once a favourite residence of the Bishops of Winchester, the
Castle passed to the Crown in the sixteenth century and then, after
purchase by Sir Robert Sawyer, to the Herberts by intermarriage with
the last-named knight's family. Highclere Church is a new building
designed by Sir Gilbert Scott and stands just outside the park. It
replaces an erection of the late seventeenth century which used to
stand within a stone's throw of the castle upon the site of another
building of great antiquity.


It is possible to make a way past the woods of Sidown and by the Three
Legged Cross Inn to Ashmansworth, where a few years ago a number of
wall paintings, one an unique depictment of Pentecost, were discovered
on the walls of the little old church that are supposed to have Roman
materials built into them. From here we may continue more or less
along the summits of the chalk uplands until the famous Inkpen, or
Ingpen, Beacon is reached, in an isolated corner of north-western
Berkshire. But alas! the former glory, on the map, of the Beacon has
departed. Until quite recently it was thought that this, the highest
section of the chalk in England, exceeded that mystic 1,000 feet that
gives such a glamour to the mere hill and makes of it a local
"mountain." An added slur was cast upon Inkpen in the handing to the
neighbouring Walbury Hill Camp of an additional five feet by these
interfering Ordnance surveyors. The new maps now read--Walbury Camp
959 feet; Inkpen, 954. But the loss of 18 yards or so does not seem to
have altered the glorious view from the flat-topped Down or to have
made its air less sparkling. The grand wooded vista down the Kennet
valley toward Newbury is a sharp contrast to the bare uplands north
and south. Walbury Camp, a fine prehistoric entrenchment, is distinct
from Walbury Hill, slightly lower, on which is Combe Gallows, a relic
of the past kept in constant repair by a neighbouring farmer as a
condition of his land tenure. Inkpen village is more than a mile away
to the north. Here is a church once old but now smartened up to such
an extent that its ancient character is not apparent. The building,
however, has not lost by the change. The modern appointments are both
beautiful and costly.

[Illustration: THE INKPEN COUNTRY.]

At the back of the Beacon is the lonely little village of Combe, sunk
deep in a hollow of the hills that rise all around it. It has a small
Early English church of little interest, but the village is worth a
long detour to see because of its unique position. Here was once a
cell of the Abbey of Bec in Normandy. A stony hill-road goes out of
the settlement southwards, between the huge bulk of Oat Hill (936
feet) and Sheepless Down, back into Hampshire. The road eventually
leads to Linkenholt, another hamlet lost in the wilderness of chalk,
and then by Upton to the Andover highway at Hurstbourne Tarrant on one
of the headwaters of the Test. The map name is rarely used by the
natives, who term the place "Up Husband"; it was officially spelt "Up
Hursborn" as lately as 1830. It is a village in a delightful situation
and delightful in itself, though of late years the architecture of the
"general stores" has replaced some of the old timber-framed houses on
the main street. But the George and Dragon, even if it shows no
timbers on its long front, wears an old-fashioned air of prosperity
that belongs to the coaching past. Tarrant Church, like so many others
hereabouts, has been sadly "well restored," but still retains a
Transitional south door and some rather remarkable wall paintings.

The Andover road rises through Dole's Wood and passes over the hill to
Knight's Enham and Andover. The last-named busy little town of to-day
owes much of its prosperity to the fact that it is an important
meeting place of railways connecting three great trunk lines. To
outward view Andover is utterly commonplace; everything ancient has
been ruthlessly improved away, and that curse of the railway town, an
appendix of mean red-brick villas, mars the approach from the west. It
has a past, however, which goes back to such remote times that its
beginnings are lost in those "mists of antiquity" which shroud so much
of the country described in our preceding chapter. The "dover" in the
town-name is probably the pre-Celtic root which meets the traveller
when he arrives at Dover and greets him again in unsuspected places
from the "dor" in Dorchester and the Falls of Lodore to the "der" in
Derwent and smoky Darwen. All have the same meaning--_water_; and
"an," strangely enough, is a later and Celtic word for the same
element, the equally ubiquitous "afon." So that Andover should be a
place of many waters, which it is not. A small stream--the
Anton--flows almost unnoticed through the town, though its name seems
to have been given occasionally to the whole of the longer Test that
it meets a few miles to the south.

Written records of Andover before Wessex became a kingdom do not
exist. But scraps of tessellated pavement in the vicinity show that it
was a locality well known to the Romans, and the Port Way, that great
thoroughfare of the Empire, passed within half a mile of the modern
railway junction. In 994, Olaus, King of Norway, is said to have been
baptized here, his sponsor being Ethelred the Unready. The town
received its charter from King John and took part in the disagreement
between Stephen and Matilda, when it had the misfortune to be burnt.
It saw two of the Stuarts when the evil days for each were reaching
their culmination. Charles I stayed here on his way to the last battle
of Newbury, and James II slept at Priory House while retiring from
Salisbury to London just before the arrival of William of Orange. The
town returned two members to Parliament before the Reform Act, and
afterwards one until 1885. Half legendary are some of the tales of the
hustings at Andover in those days of "free and open" voting, and the
old "George" seems to have been a centre of the excitement on election
days, where most of the guineas changed hands and where most free
drinks were handed to the incorruptibles. It was here during the
candidature of Sir Francis Delaval that his attorney had occasion to
send him the following bill--

  "To being thrown out of the window of the George Inn, Andover; to
  my leg being broken; to surgeon's bill, and loss of time and business;
  all in the service of Sir Francis Delaval
                                       L500."

This rough treatment was in consequence of the poor lawyer having, at
his patron's instigation, invited the officers of a regiment quartered
in the town, and the mayor and corporation, to a dinner at the
"George," _each in the other's name_. At this same inn Cobbett, in one
of his _Rural Rides_, had an adventure with mine host and pushed his
opinions down the throat of the assembled company in his usual manner.
This inn, and the "Angel," were great places in the posting days, when
the Exeter Road was one of the most important arteries in England.
They are among the pleasant survivals of eighteenth-century Andover,
for there is nothing that appears on the surface older than that
period, except the Norman door of the churchyard--all that is left of
the fine building pulled down in 1840 to make way for the present
imitation Early English church--and a piece of wall on the north side,
a remnant of a cell belonging to the Benedictine Abbey of Saumur.
About three miles west of Andover is Weyhill, a village celebrated for
its fair and immortalized in _The Mayor of Casterbridge_. It at one
time claimed to be the largest in England, but in these changed days
its rural importance has diminished. The fair takes place in October
and now covers four consecutive days instead of the original six. The
first day is Sheep Fair followed by "Mop" (hiring), Pleasure, and Hop
Fairs with horses every day and several side-shows such as "Cheese
Fair" and the like. It has been thought possible that Weyhill is
referred to in _The Vision of Piers Plowman_--"At Wy and at Wynchestre
I went to the Fair."

We now propose to turn eastwards for the last time and to follow the
main London road along the northern boundary of Harewood Forest
through Hurstbourne Priors ("Down Husband") and then past the wide
expanse of Hurstbourne Park, in which stands the seat of the Earl of
Portsmouth and which clothes the northern slopes of the Test valley
for more than a mile with its beautiful woods and glades. Its eastern
boundary is close to Whitchurch, seven miles from Andover. Whitchurch
was another famous posting centre and, like Andover, a rotten borough.
Here an important cross-country route from Oxford to Winchester tapped
the Exeter road and here the modern ways of the Great Western and
South Western cross each other at right angles. At the famous "White
Hart" Newman wrote the opening part of the _Lyra Apostolica_ while
awaiting the Exeter coach in December, 1832. The great tower of All
Hallows still stands, but little besides of the old building. While
the restoration was in progress a Saxon headstone was brought to
light. It bears a presentment of our Lord's head with the following
inscription:--

  HIC CORPUS FRIDBURGAE REQUIESCAT
  IN PACE SEPULTUM

[Illustration: WHITCHURCH.]

The old chapel of Freefolk, little more than a mile out of the town,
dates from 1265 and came into existence because the winter floods on
the infant Test prevented the good folk of the vicinity getting into
Whitchurch. The famous Laverstock Mill, where the paper for Bank of
England notes has been made for two hundred years, is not far away by
the side of the high road. The owners of the Mill, and of Laverstock
Park, are a naturalized Huguenot family named de Portal, whose
ancestors came to England and settled in Southampton during the
persecution of the Protestants that followed the revocation of the
Edict of Nantes. When Cobbett rode by the Mill he made the following
unprophetic utterance:--"We passed the mill where the Mother-Bank
paper is made! Thank God! this mill is likely soon to want employment.
Hard by is a pretty park and house belonging to 'Squire' Portal, the
_paper-maker_. The country people, who seldom want for sarcastic
shrewdness, call it 'Rag Hall!'"

Nearly four miles from Whitchurch comes Overton, once a market but now
a quiet village that shows signs of activity (apart from the ceaseless
procession of motor traffic) only on one day in the year, July 18,
when a great sheep fair takes place. For Overton is a centre of the
great sheep-down country of north Hampshire. The church is
unremarkable except that the nave has Norman pillars with arches of a
later date above them. The fine old manor house near the railway
station is called Quidhampton.

After passing Ashe we reach Deane, where a road to the right leads in
a mile and a half to Steventon, at the rectory of which village Jane
Austen was born in 1775, her father holding the incumbency for many
years. As we rejoin the main road Church Oakley lies to the right at
the source of the Test. Here stands a church built about 1525 by
Archbishop Warham, whose ancestors lived at Malshanger, nearly two
miles away to the north. After passing Worting, ten miles from
Whitchurch and two from Basingstoke, that we are nearing a large town
becomes apparent, and soon the gaunt and curious clock tower of
Basingstoke Town Hall comes into view, a land-mark for many miles.

[Illustration: HOLY GHOST CHAPEL, BASINGSTOKE.]

The "Stoke Bare-hills" of Thomas Hardy has changed the tenor of its
way several times in history. It started by sending members to
Parliament three hundred years before it became a borough in the reign
of the first Stuart, when it was already famous as a manufactory of
silks and woollens. A time of inanition followed until the great
period of road travel set in, when it became the most important centre
between London and Salisbury. Then with the iron way came another
phase that at one time threatened to bring the town into line with
Swindon, Crewe and other railway "wens"; but except for some miles of
small red-brick villas, packed close together on the bleak wolds that
surround the town, it has not greatly suffered and is still
essentially agricultural. Quite lately a new industry has grown up
here, the manufacture of farming implements.

Close to the railway station are the ruins of the chapel of the Holy
Ghost, founded by Bishop Fox in 1525. They stand in the ancient
cemetery which dates from the time of the Papal Interdict (1208) when,
in consequence of King John's quarrel with the Pope, burial in
churchyards was suspended. Basingstoke Church was built in the early
sixteenth century and contains some of the old glass from the Holy
Ghost Chapel.

The most interesting place in the vicinity of Basingstoke is Old
Basing, two miles to the east, and ever memorable as the scene of the
defence of Basing House. This magnificent mansion had been built by
William Paulet, first Marquis of Winchester, on the site of the
original Norman castle of Basing. When the Civil War broke out, the
fifth Marquis, John Paulet, decided to defend the house for the King,
and gathering his friends and retainers about him, amply provisioning
his cellars and "writing 'Aimez Loyalte' on every pane of his windows
with the diamond of his ring," he calmly awaited the Roundheads, who
were soon in possession of Basingstoke. Two hundred and fifty Royalist
soldiers had already joined the garrison when the actual siege began
in July, 1643. The attackers under Waller numbered seven thousand, but
by December, after great losses, they were forced to withdraw. The
following spring another determined effort was made to starve out the
garrison, but the arrival of Colonel Gage with reinforcements from
Oxford put fresh heart into the "nest of hornets," and the news that
their fortress had been renamed "Basting House" by their admiring
friends stiffened their resolve. During the next few months, however,
religious differences within led to a weakening of the heroic defence
and to the beginning of the end, and after two thousand lives had
already been lost, Basing House fell to the redoubtable Cromwell in
person on October 14, 1645, about one hundred of the defenders being
killed in the final assault and some three hundred prisoners taken.

Of this historic site there remain but a few walls and the Gate-house.
The area covered by the entrenchments was about fourteen acres and the
garden must have been a place of beauty before the litter of the siege
marred the trim walks and parterres. The country people were bidden
help themselves when the victors departed with their prisoners, and
the work of ruin was quickly complete.

[Illustration: BASING.]

Basing church, which was used in the attack on the House, is of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and contains many memorials of the
Paulet family. Its outside is much more striking and handsome than its
interior, which has a rather empty and featureless appearance. Not far
from Basing is the great entrenchment of Winklebury Castle, over 3,000
feet round. From the edge of its commanding vallum Cromwell took the
observations for his successful assault on Basing House.

Sherborne St. John, two miles north of Basingstoke, has an old church,
with an ugly tower built in 1833. The Brocas brasses and the fine
Jacobean pulpit are interesting. The Vyne, a celebrated mansion, is
one mile farther along our road. The greater part of the building is
four hundred years old, though certain additions and alterations are
due to Inigo Jones. Its beautiful chapel has some old French glass,
inserted in the windows in 1544, and other details of much interest.

Between the hills to the south, nearly four miles from Basingstoke, is
the small village of Herriard and the neighbouring park named after
it. Its Transitional church has been much rebuilt, but still contains
several items of interest, including a fine chancel arch and some old
stained glass. North-east of the park is the old and partly Saxon
church of Tunworth, about four miles direct from Basingstoke. The
Herriard road continues in a little over six miles to Alton, a
pleasant and out-of-the-way old town, but with little left of its
former picturesque streets. Alton is famous for its ale made from the
hops grown in the immediate neighbourhood. The church has a door
covered with bullet marks, a legacy from the Civil War, when the
troops of the Parliament under Waller attacked the Royalists, who had
fled to the church for sanctuary. A good deal of Norman work is
visible in the base of the tower. The Jacobean pulpit and misericords
in the choir call for remark and also the interesting "memoriall" on a
pillar of the nave to the "Renowned Martialist "--Richard Boles--who
defended the church during the attack referred to above.

From Alton the Meon Valley Railway follows the high road to distant
Fareham on the shores of Portsmouth Harbour, and penetrates a lonely
countryside, perhaps the least-known portion of Hampshire. For the
first ten miles the railway and road traverse the uplands that are a
continuation of the Sussex Downs and part of the great chalk range of
southern England. In one of the nooks of this tableland, two miles
from the station at Tisted and four from Petersfield, is Selborne,
made for ever famous by Gilbert White, who lived at The Wakes, the
picturesque rambling old house opposite the church. At West Meon the
actual valley from which the railway takes its name is entered. The
infant stream, here a mere trickle under the hedgerows, comes down
from East Meon, three miles away, where there is a cruciform church
containing a black Tournai font, and an old stone pulpit dating from
the fifteenth century. Close by is a manor house, once the property of
the Bishops of Winchester. Warnford, a mile below West Meon, has a
church of great interest. It is a Norman building on the site of the
first sanctuary erected for the converted Meonwaras by Wilfred of
York. Several noteworthy features may be seen, including a Saxon
sundial from the original church. At Corhampton two miles further
south, a Saxon church still remains, though it has lost its early
apsidal chancel.

[Illustration: CORHAMPTON.]

The building has apparently been erected on a mound, possibly
prehistoric. Droxford station is within a four-mile walk of Hambledon
where, in 1774, modern cricket was first played. Droxford Church is
another fine old building that, with those just enumerated, lends an
added interest to this delightful valley, the scenic charm of which
would alone be sufficient recompense for the trouble involved in
exploring it. Customs and beliefs are more primitive and the forms of
speech more archaic than in the region beyond the New Forest, and the
natives have a goodly amount of the old Jutish blood in their veins,
possibly more than their relatives of the Isle of Wight. The swelling
hills of that delectable land fill the vista as we descend between
Soberton and Wickham, where the valley divides the main portion of the
ancient Forest of Bere from the scattered woodlands of Waltham Chase
and, at the last-named village, widens into the lowlands that stretch
between Tichfield and Fareham and the busy activities of Portsmouth.

We now near the end of our brief exploration of Wessex and, returning
to Basingstoke, take the last sixteen miles of our course over the
great road, straight and lonely of houses, that runs across the hills
to Winchester. The Romans built up the solid foundations of the
greater part of this highway which passes through no villages, though
it has several within a short distance of its straight hedges and
interminable telegraph posts. Near the _Sun Inn_, high on the chalk
hills five miles from Basingstoke, a lane turns left to Dummer, worth
visiting for the sake of the old unrestored church dating mostly from
the early thirteenth century. The old beams and the large
sixteenth-century gallery have escaped "improvement." The oak pulpit
is said to date from the early fifteenth century. The most striking
feature of the interior is a canopy over the chancel arch, a relic of
the rood that once stood beneath it. Several interesting brasses of
the At Moores, and a squint at the back of a recess, or image niche,
should be noticed. George Whitfield's first ministry was in this
church. Close by is the ancient manor house, partly of the fourteenth
century, and on the Basingstoke side of the village is Kempshott Park,
a "hunting lodge" of George IV. The bare rolling Downs reach a height
of over 650 feet east of Dummer, in the neighbourhood of Farleigh
Wallop and Nutley. On the other side of the Winchester highway North
Waltham has a rebuilt church in "Norman" style. Steventon, the
birthplace of Jane Austen, already mentioned, is but a short distance
farther. East Stratton is another out-of-the-way village off the high
road to the left and just beyond Stratton House, a seat of the Earl of
Northbrook. A magnificent avenue of beech trees leads to Micheldever
village, and also, in the opposite direction to the station, to that
point on the South Western Railway where the traveller to Southampton
notes that the exhausted pant of the engine has changed to an easy
glide as the train passes the summit tunnel and rolls down to
Winchester. The dim recesses of Micheldever wood extend to the east of
the Roman road on its undulating but perfectly straight course until
it drops to Headbourne Worthy.

As we descend the last few miles the ancient capital of Wessex and of
England is seen ahead lying in the lap of its enfolding hills. The
blunt and stern outline of the grey cathedral is softened by the misty
veil, shot with mingled gold and pearl, that rests softly over the
valley and that obliterates everything mean and unworthy in the scene
before us. Just as the memories of great and famous days that cling
round the old towns of Wessex--threads of faith and chivalry, valour
and high endeavour--make an opalescent robe to hide for a moment the
futilities of the present.

[Illustration: MAP OF WESSEX.]




INDEX

Abbotsbury
Abbot's Worthy
Addison
Aelfric
Aethelmar
Affpuddle
Agglestone
Agincourt
Aldbourne
Alderbury
Aldermaston
Alfred
Alfred's Tower
All Cannings
Allen, Ralph
Allen River
Allington
Alton
Alton Berners
Alton Priors
Alvedeston
Amesbury
Amesbury, West
Andover
Anne Boleyn
Anning, Mary
Ansty Hill
Anton
Anvil Point
Arish Mel
Arne
Arnold, Dr.
Arthur
Arundell of Wardour
Ashe
Ashmansworth
Asser
Athelhampton
Athelstan
Athelwold
Aubrey, John
Aurelius Ambrosius
Austen, Jane
Avebury
Avebury, Lord
Avington
Avon (Bristol)
Avon (Southern)
Axe, River
Axford
Axminster
Axmouth
Aylward
Ayscough, Bp.

Babylon Hill
Bacon, Roger
Badbury Hill
Bailey Gate
Baleares, The
Ballands Castle
Ballard Down
Banbury Hill
Bankes, Sir John
Barbury Camp
Barford St. Martin
Barn Door
Barnes, Wm.
Barneston
Barrow Hill
Barton-on-Sea
Barton, Wm.
Basing
Basingstoke
Batcombe
Battlesbury Camp
Baverstock
Beacon Hill
Beaminster
Beaufort, Cardinal
Beaufort, John
Beaulieu River
Beckford, Wm.
Beckhampton
Beechingstoke
Beer
Beer Head
Bemerton
Beohtric
Benham Park
Bere Regis
Berthon, Mr.
Berwick Basset
Berwick, St. James
Berwick, St. John
Bicton Park
Bilbury Ring
Bindon
Bindon Abbey
Bindon Hill
Birinus
Bishop's Cannings
Bishopstone
Bishopstrow
Blackdown
Blackdowns, The
Blacklough Castle
Blackmore Vale
Blake, Admiral
Blandford
Boldre
Boldrewood
Boscombe
Botley
Bourne Valley
Bournemouth
Bovey House
Bower Chalke
Bowles Family
Boyton
Bradford Abbas
Bradpole
Bramley
Branscombe
Branscombe Hill
Bratton
Bratton Castle
Bratton Seymour
Bridehead
Bride River
Bridport
Broad Chalke
Broadwey
Broadwindsor
Brockenhurst
Browne, Bp. Harold
Browning, Robert
Brownsea Island
Bruton
Bubb Down
Bucket, John
Buckingham, Duke of
Buckland Rings
Bucklershard
Budleigh Salterton
Bulbarrow Hill
Burford Park
Burghclere
Burlesdon
Burney, Fanny
Burton Bradstock
Butser Hill
Buzbury Rings

Cadbury, North and South
Cadbury Castle
Caer Gwent
Calleva
Calshot Castle
Camel, Queen's and West
Camelot
Campeden, John de
Canford
Canute
Casterley
Castle Cary
Castle Hill
Cattistock
Caundle Purse
Cerne, The
Cerne Abbas
Chalbury Camp
Chaldon Herring
Challow Hill
Chapman's Pool
Chard
Chard, Thos.
Chardown
Charles I
Charles II
Charles X of France
Charlton
Charminster
Charmouth
Chater
Chatham, Lord
Cheddington
Cherhill Down
Chesil Bank
Cheverell
Chickerell
Chilton Foliat
Chideock
Chilhampton
Chirton
Chisbury Hill
Chisenbury
Chislebury Camp
Chitterne
Cholderton
Christchurch
Churchend Ring
Church Hope Cove
Church Oakley
Churchill, Winston
Church Hill
Civil War
Clarendon
Clatford Bottom
Clausentium
Clearbury Camp
Cley Hill
Cobbett (_Rural Rides_)
Codford, St. Mary
Codford, St. Peter
Colcombe
Cole
Coleridge, S.T.
Collingbourne Ducis
Collingbourne Kingston
Colyford
Colyton
Combe
Combe Gallows
Combpyne
Compton
Compton Abbas
Compton Chamberlaine
Coney Castle
Coombe Bisset
Copley Hill
Coram, Capt.
Corfe Castle
Corhampton
Coulston
Cowden Hill
Cowes
Cranborne
Cranborne Chase
Crawford Castle
Crecy
Creech Barrow
Creech Hill
Crete Hill
Crewkerne
Cricket, St. Thomas
Cromwell, Oliver
Cromwell, Richard
Cunetio
Cuthberga
Cwenburh
Cynegils

Damory Court
Dampier, Wm.
Danes, The
Dauntsey School, etc.
Deadman's Bay
Deane
De Aquila
De Blois, Bp.
De Burgh, Hubert
De Campeden, John
De Chideock
De Lacy, Bp.
Delaval, Sir Francis
De Longespee, Wm.
De Mauleon, Savaric
De Montacute, John
Deorham
Deptford
Deverill Villages
Deverniche
"Devil's Den"
Devizes
Dickens, Chas.
Dinton
Ditcheat
Dodington, G. Bubb
Donhead St. Andrew
Donhead St. Mary
Dorchester
Dorchester (Oxon)
Dorset Dialect
Dorset Heaths
Dowlands
Dowlish Wake
Downton
Drake, Sir Francis
Droxford
Dummer
Dumpdon Hill
Dunium
Dunstan, Archbp.
Durdle Door
Durleston
Durnford
Durnovaria
Durrington

Ealhstan, Bp.
Earle, Sir Walter
East Chinnock
East Coker
East Knoyle
East Meon
Easton
East Stratton
East Wellow
Ebbesborne Wake
Ebble Valley
Edgar
Edington
Edmund, Ironside
Edward Confessor
Edward the Martyr
Edyngton, Bp.
Egbert
"Egdon Heath"
Eggardon Hill
Eldon, Lord
Eleanor, Princess
Eleanor, Queen
Elfrida
Elizabeth, Queen
Ellandune, Battle of
Encombe
Enford
Erlestoke
Ethelred
Etricke, Anthony
Evercreech
Evershot
Eype

Falkland
Farleigh Wallop
Fawcett, Henry
Fawley
Fielding
Fifield Bavant
Figheldean
Figsbury Rings
Five Maries
Fisherton Delamere
Fittleton
Flambard
Flanders
Flowers Barrow
Fonthill Abbey
Fonthill Giffard
Fontmell Magna
Ford Abbey
Fordingbridge
Fordington
Forster, W.E.
Fortunes Well
Fosse Way
Fovant
Fox, Bp.
Frampton
Freefolk
Freemantle
Frome
Frome, River
Froxfield
Fugglestone
Fuller, Thos.
Furzy Cliff
Fyfield

Gad Cliff
Gay
Geoffrey of Monmouth
George III
Glastonbury
Gloucester, Duke of
Glover, Richard
Godmanstone
Golden Cap
Great Bedwyn
Great Wishford
Gresham, Sir Thomas
"Grey Mare"
Grovely Wood

Hackpen Hill,
Hamble River
Hambledon
Hambledon Hill
Hamdon
Handfast Point
Hanging Langford Camp
Hardown
Hardy, Admiral
Hardy, Thomas
Harewood Forest
Harnham
Hawksdown
Hazlitt, Wm
Headbourne Worthy
Heale House
Helstone
Hengistbury Head
Henover Hill
Henry II
Henry III
Henry VI
Henry VII
Henry VIII
Henry of Huntingdon
Henstridge
Henstridge Down
Herbert, George
Herriard
Heytesbury
Highclere
Highcliffe
High Stoy
Hiltingbury
Hindon
Hinton Admiral
Hinton Parva
Hinton St. George
Hinton St. Mary
Hod Hill
Holmsley
Holton Heath
Holworth Cliff
Honiton
Honnington
Horsebridge
Horsey, Sir John
Horton Down
Hubert, Bp.
Huish
Hungerford
Hungerford, Sir Edward
Hunter's Lodge
Hursley
Hurstbourne Priors
Hurstbourne Tarrant
Hurst Castle
Hythe

Ibernium
Icknield Way
Idmiston
Ilchester
Ilminster
Imber
Inkpen Beacon
Isle of Wight
Isle, River
Itchen, River
Itchen Abbas
Iwerne Courtenay
Iwerne Minster

Jack Straw's Castle
James I
James II
Jefferies, Richard
Jeffreys, Judge
Jesty, Benj.
Jewel, Bp.
John
John of Gaunt
Johnson, Dr.
Joliffe, Capt.
Jones, Inigo
Jonson, Ben
Joscelyn, Bp.
Jutes

Keble, John
Kempshott Park
Ken, Bp.
Kennet, River
Kimmeridge Bay
Kingsclere
Kingsettle Hill
Kingsley, Chas.
Kingsmill, Prior
King's Somborne
Kingston
Kingston, Lacy
Kingston, Russell
King's Worthy
Kintbury
Knapp Hill
Knights' Enham
Knightwood Oak
Knook
Knowle Hill
Knowlton
Konigsmark, Count

Ladle Hill
Lake
Lamb, Chas.
Lambert's Castle
Lambourne
Lambourne Downs
Langdon Hill
Langton Herring
Langton Matravers
Lawrence, Sir Thos.
Lea, Lord Herbert of
Leigh
Leland
Lewsdon Hill
Linkenholt
Littlecote Manor
Lisle, Mrs. Alicia
Litchfield Down
Little Bedwyn
Little Bredy
Little Durnford
Little Langford
Little London
Litton Cheyney
Lockyer, Sir Norman
Loders
Long Barrow, The
Long Bredy
Longford Castle
Longleat
Long Knoll
Louis the Dauphin
Lovells, The
Lucius
Ludgershall
Ludlow, Edmund
Lulworth Castle
Lulworth Cove
Lulworth East
Lulworth West
Lydlynch
Lyme Regis
Lymington
Lyndhurst
Lytchett Beacon
Lytchett Matravers
Lytchett Minster

Maiden Bradley
Maiden Castle
Maiden Newton
Malwood
Manningford Abbots
Manningford Bruce
Mapperton
Mappowder
Margaret of Anjou
Mark Ash
Market Lavington
Markway Hill
Marlborough
Marlborough Downs
Marnhull
Marshwood Vale
Marston Magna
Martinsell
Martyr's Worthy
Marwood, Thos.
Mary I
Massinger
Maud, Empress
Maumbury Rings
Melbury Abbas
Melbury Bubb
Melbury Downs
Melbury Sampford
Melcombe Regis
Meon
Merlin
Merriot
Middle Down
Middle Wallop
Milborne Port
Mildenhall
Milford-on-Sea
Milk Hill
Milton Abbas
Milton Abbey
Minstead
Mitcheldever
Mitford, Mary Russell
Monk Sherborne
Monmouth, Duke of
Montacute
Montfort
Morecombelake
Moreton
Morton Bavant
Motley, J.L.
Mottisfont
Moule, Bp.
Mowlem and Burt
Mupe Bay

Nadder Valley
Nash Court
Nelson
Netheravon
Nether Cerne
Netherhampton
Nether Wallop
Netley Abbey
Netley Castle
Netton
Newbury
Newenham Abbey
New Forest
Newman, Cardinal
New Milton
Newton Tony
Nightingale, Florence
Nine Barrows Down
Norrington
North, Bp. Brownlow
North Waltham
Nottington

Oakford Fitzpaine
Oare
Oat Hill
Odstock
Ogbury Camp
Olaus of Norway
Old Sarum
"Orator Hunt"
Orc
Orcheston
Osmington Mills
Osmund, Bp.
Otter River
Otterbourne
Otterton
Ottery St. Mary
Overton
Overton Hill
Over Wallop

Page, Harry
Palmer, Julian
Palmerston
Pamber
Parnham Park
Patney
Paulet, John
Pennsylvania Castle
Penruddocke, Col.
Penselwood
Pentridge Hill
Pepys, Samuel
Perkin Warbeck
Peter of Pontefract
Peveril Point
Pewsey
Pewsey, Vale of
Philip of Castile
Pilgrim Fathers
Pilsdon Pen
Pimperne Down
Pitman, Col.
Pitt Down
Pitt Family
Place House, Tisbury
Poole
Preston Harbour
Poore, Bp.
Pope
Portal Family
Potterne
Port Way
Porton
Poticary, Jerome
Pouletts, The
Poundbury Camp
Powerstock
Poxwell
Prescombe Down
Preston
Preston Pucknell
Prior, Matthew
Puckstone
Puddle River
Puddletown
Puncknoll
Purbeck Hills
Purbeck Marble

Quidhampton

Radipole
Rainscombe
Raleigh, Sir Walter
Rampisham
Ramsbury
Rattenbury
Raymond's Hill
Red Cross
Redlynch Hill
Reforne
Richard, I
Richard, III
Richard, Earl of Cambridge
Ridgeway
Ring's Hill
Ringwood
Robert of Gloucester
Rodwell
Roger, Bp.
Romsey
Roundway Down
Rousdon
Rowde
Rufus Castle
Rupert, Prince
Rushall
Russell, John

Sacheverell, Dr.
Saint Aldhelm
Saint Aldhelm's Head
Saint Alfreda
Saint Boniface
Saint Candida
Saint Catherine's Chapel
Saint Catherine's Hill
Saint Cross
Saint Edyth
Saint Elizabeth's College
Saint Grimald
Saint John a Gore's Cross
Saint Leonards
Saint Mary's College
Saint Swithun
Salcombe Regis
Salisbury
Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Plain
Salterton
Sandford Orcas
Sandsfoot Castle
"Sarum, Use of,"
Savernake Forest
Scratchbury Camp
Seacombe Cliff
Seaton
Selborne
Semley
Shaftesbury
Shakespeare
Sharkford
Shaw House
Sheepless Down
Shelley
Shepherd's Shore
Sherborne
Sherborne St. John
Sheridan
Sherrington
Shillingstone
Shipton Bellinger
Sidbury
Sidford
Sidmouth
Sidney, Sir Philip
Sidown
Silbury Hill
Silchester
Skipton Beacon
Skipton Gorge
Sleeping Green
Sloden
Smallwood, John
Smith, Sidney
Soberton
Solent
Somers, Sir Geo.
Southampton
Southampton Water
Southbourne
South Newton
South Petherton
Southwell
Spanish Armada
Speen
Spencer
Stainsford
Stair Hole
Stalbridge
Stanley, Dean
Stanswood Bay
Stanton, St. Gabriel
Stapleford
Stavordale Priory
Stedcombe
Steeple Langford
Steepleton Iwerne
Stephen
Steventon
Stillingfleet, Dean
Stockbridge
Stock Cross
Stockton
Stoke
Stoke Farthing
Stoke Wake
Stonehenge
Stonehouse, Sir Jas.
Stoney Cross
Stour, River
Stourpaine
Stourton, Lord Charles
Strangeways, John
Stratfields, The
Stratford
Stratford, Tony
Studland
Sturminster Marshall
Sturminster Newton
Sutton Mandeville
Sutton Poyntz
Sutton Veny
Sutton Waldron
Swallowcliffe
Swanage
Sweyn
Swyre Head
Sydenham, Thomas
Sydling St. Nicholas
Sydmonton
Symondsbury

Tan Hill
Tarrant Villages
Teffont Evias
Teffont Magna
Templecombe
Test River
Thackeray
Thatcham
Thompson, Wm.
Thornhill, Sir James
Three Legged Cross
Thynne, Sir John
Tidworth
Tilly Whim
Tilshead
Tintinhull
Tisbury
Titchborne
Titchfield
Toller Fratrum
Toller Porcorum
Topp, John
Tottenham House
Totton
Towel, E. and W.
Trafalgar
Trenchard, Sir Thos.
Trent
Trollope
Tunworth
Turberville Family
Turnworth House
Tutchin, John
Twyford
Twyneham
Tyneham
Tytherington

Upavon
Uploders
Uplyme
Up Ottery
Upton
Upton Cliff
Upton Lovell
Upton Scudamore
Upwey

Vanchurch
Venn
Venta Belgarum
Verne
Vespasian's Camp
Victoria
Vigilantius
Vindilis
Vindogladia
Vyne, The

Wade, Col.
Walbury Hill Camp
Walkelyn, Bp.
Waller, Genl.
Wallop's, The
Walsingham
Waltham Chase
Walton, Izaak
Wansdyke
Wantage
Wardour Castle
Wareham
Warham, Archbp.
Warminster
Warnford
Watts, Isaac
Waynflete, Bp.
Wayte, Bp.
Wellington, Duke of
Wesley, John
Wessex, Boundaries of
West Bay
Westbury
West Coker
West Kennet
West Lavington
West Meon
Weston
Weston Grove
West Saxons
Weyhill
Weymouth
Whistler
Whitchurch
Whitchurch Canonicorum
White, Gilbert
White Hart Forest
White Horse, (Westbury)
White, John
Whitesand Cross
White Sheet Hill
White Staunton
Whitfield, George
Wickham
Wilberforce, Bp.
Wilbury House
William I
William II
William III
Wilsford
Wilsford Down
Wilton
Wilton House
Wimborne Minster
Wincanton
Winchester
Winchester Cathedral
Winchester College
Windwhistle Hill
Windy Gap
Winklebury Camp
Winklebury Castle
Winnal
Winspit Quarry
Winterbourne Stoke
Winterbourne Villages (Blandford)
Winterbourne Villages (Dorchester)
Winterbourne Villages (Kennet)
Winterbourne Villages (Salisbury)
Winterslow Hut
Wolfeton House
Wolsey, Cardinal
Wolverton
Wolvesley Castle
Woodbury Hill
Woodford
Wool
Woolbury Ring
Woolston
Worbarrow Bay
Wordsworth
Worth Matravers
Worting
Wraxall
Wren, Sir Christopher
Wyatt, James
Wyatville, Sir J.
Wyke
Wyke Regis
Wykeham, Bp.
Wylye
Wylye River
Wynford Eagle

Yeovil
Yetminster





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