Vanishing England
by P. H. Ditchfield
1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


The Book



The Illustrations by FRED ROE, R.I.

Methuen & Co. Ltd. 36 Essex Street W.C. London


























The George Inn, Norton St. Philip, Somerset (Frontispiece)

Canopy over Doorway of Buckingham House, Portsmouth (Title page)

Rural Tenements, Capel, Surrey

Detail of Seventeenth-century Table in Milton's Cottage, Chalfont St. Giles

Seventeenth-century Trophy

Old Shop, formerly standing in Cliffe High Street, Lewes

Paradise Square, Banbury

Norden's Chart of the River Ore and Suffolk Coast

Disused Mooring-post on bank of the Rother, Rye

Old Houses built on the Town Wall, Rye

Bootham Bar, York

Half-timbered House with early Fifteenth-century Doorway, King's Lynn, Norfolk

The "Bone Tower," Town Walls, Great Yarmouth

Row No. 83, Great Yarmouth

The Old Jetty, Gorleston

Tudor House, Ipswich, near the Custom House

Three-gabled House, Fore Street, Ipswich

"Melia's Passage," York

Detail of Half-timbered House in High Street, Shrewsbury

Tower on the Town Wall, Shrewsbury

House that the Earl of Richmond stayed in before the Battle of Bosworth. Shrewsbury

Old Houses formerly standing in Spon Street, Coventry

West Street, Rye

Monogram and Inscription in the Mermaid Inn, Rye

Inscription in the Mermaid Inn, Rye

Relic of Lynn Siege in Hampton Court, King's Lynn

Hampton Court, King's Lynn, Norfolk

Mill Street, Warwick

Tudor Tenements, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford (now demolished)

Gothic Corner-post. The Half Moon Inn, Ipswich

Timber-built House, Shrewsbury

Missbrook Farm, Capel, Surrey

Cottage at Capel, Surrey

Farm-house, Horsmonden, Kent

Seventeenth-century Cottages, Stow Langtoft, Suffolk

The "Fish House," Littleport, Cambs.

Sixteenth-century Cottage, formerly standing in Upper Deal, Kent

Gable, Upper Deal, Kent

A Portsmouth "Row"

Lich-gate, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks

Fifteenth-century Handle on Church Door, Monk's Risborough, Bucks

Weather-boarded Houses, Crown Street, Portsmouth

Inscription on Font, Parish Church, Burford, Oxon

Detail of Fifteenth-century Barge-board, Burford, Oxon

The George Inn, Burford, Oxon

Maldon, Essex. Sky-line of the High Street at twilight

St. Mary's Church, Maldon

Norman Clamp on door of Heybridge Church, Essex

Tudor Fire-place. Now walled up in the passage of a shop in Banbury

Cottages in Witney Street, Burford, Oxon

Burgh Castle, Suffolk

Caister Castle, Norfolk

Defaced Arms, Taunton Castle

Knightly Basinet (temp. Henry V) in Norwich Castle

Saxon Doorway in St. Lawrence's Church, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts.

St. George's Church, Great Yarmouth

Carving on Rood-screen, Alcester Church, Warwick

Fourteenth-century Coffer in Faversham Church, Kent

Flanders Chest in East Dereham Church, Norfolk, temp. Henry VIII

Reversed Rose carved on "Miserere" in Norwich Cathedral

Oak Panelling. Wainscot of Fifteenth Century, with addition circa late Seventeenth Century, fitted on to it in angle of room in the Church House, Goudhurst, Kent

Section of Mouldings of Cornice on Panelling, the Church House, Goudhurst

The Wardrobe House, the Close, Salisbury

Chimney at Compton Wynyates

Window-catch, Brockhall, Northants

Gothic Chimney, Norton St. Philip, Somerset

The Moat, Crowhurst Place, Surrey

Arms of the Gaynesfords in window, Crowhurst Place, Surrey

Cupboard Hinge, Crowhurst Place, Surrey

Fixed Bench in the hall, Crowhurst Place, Surrey

Gothic Door-head, Goudhurst, Kent

Knightly Basinet (temp. Henry V) in Norwich Castle

Hilt of Thirteenth-century Sword in Norwich Museum

"Hand-and-a-half" Sword. Mr. Seymour Lucas, R.A.

Seventeenth-century Boot, in the possession of Ernest Crofts, Esq., R.A.

Chapel de Fer at Ockwells, Berks

Tudor Dresser Table, in the possession of Sir Alfred Dryden, Canon's Ashby, Northants

Seventeenth-century Powder-horn, found in the wall of an old house at Glastonbury. Now in Glastonbury Museum

Seventeenth-century Spy-glass in Taunton Museum

Fourteenth-century Flagon. From an old Manor House in Norfolk

Elizabethan Chest, in the possession of Sir Coleridge Grove, K.C.B.

Staircase Newel, Cromwell House, Highgate

Piece of Wood Carved with Inscription. Found with a sword (temp. Charles II) in an old house at Stoke-under-Ham, Somerset

Seventeenth-century Water-clock, in Norwich Museum

Sun-dial. The Manor House, Sutton Courtenay

Half-timber Cottages, Waterside, Evesham

Quarter Jacks over the Clock on exterior of north wall of Wells Cathedral

The Gate House, Bishop's Palace, Well

House in which Bishop Hooper was imprisoned, Westgate Street, Gloucester

The "Stone House," Rye, Sussex

Fifteenth-century House, Market Place, Evesham

Fifteenth-century House, Market Place, Evesham

Fifteenth-century House in Cowl Street, Evesham

Half-timber House, Alcester, Warwick

Half-timber House at Alcester

The Wheelwrights' Arms, Warwick

Entrance to the Reindeer Inn, Banbury

The Shoulder of Mutton Inn, King's Lynn

A Quaint Gable, the Bell Inn, Stilton

The Bell Inn, Stilton

The "Briton's Arms," Norwich

The Dolphin Inn, Heigham, Norwich

Shield and Monogram on doorway of the Dolphin Inn, Heigham

Staircase Newel at the Dolphin Inn

The Falstaff Inn, Canterbury

The Bear and Ragged Staff Inn, Tewkesbury

Fire-place in the George Inn, Norton St. Philip, Somerset

The Green Dragon Inn, Wymondham, Norfolk

The Star Inn, Alfriston, Sussex

Courtyard of the George Inn, Norton St. Philip, Somerset

The Dark Lantern Inn, Aylesbury, Bucks

Spandril. The Marquis of Granby Inn, Colchester

The Town Hall, Shrewsbury

The Greenland Fishery House, King's Lynn. An old Guild House of the time of James I

The Market House, Wymondham, Norfolk

Guild Mark and Date on doorway, Burford, Oxon

Stretham Cross, Isle of Ely

The Market Cross, Salisbury

Under the Butter Cross, Witney, Oxon

The Triangular Bridge, Crowland

Huntingdon Bridge

The Crane Bridge, Salisbury

Watch House on the Bridge, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts

Gateway of St. John's Hospital, Canterbury

Inmate of the Trinity Bede House at Castle Rising, Norfolk

The Hospital for Ancient Fishermen, Great Yarmouth

Inscription on the Hospital, King's Lynn

Ancient Inmates of the Fishermen's Hospital, Great Yarmouth

Cottages at Evesham

Stalls at Banbury Fair

An Old English Fair

An Ancient Maker of Nets in a Kentish Fair

Outside the Lamb Inn, Burford

Tail Piece



This book is intended not to raise fears but to record facts. We wish to describe with pen and pencil those features of England which are gradually disappearing, and to preserve the memory of them. It may be said that we have begun our quest too late; that so much has already vanished that it is hardly worth while to record what is left. Although much has gone, there is still, however, much remaining that is good, that reveals the artistic skill and taste of our forefathers, and recalls the wonders of old-time. It will be our endeavour to tell of the old country houses that Time has spared, the cottages that grace the village green, the stern grey walls that still guard some few of our towns, the old moot halls and public buildings. We shall see the old-time farmers and rustics gathering together at fair and market, their games and sports and merry-makings, and whatever relics of old English life have been left for an artist and scribe of the twentieth century to record.

Our age is an age of progress. Altiora peto is its motto. The spirit of progress is in the air, and lures its votaries on to higher flights. Sometimes they discover that they have been following a mere will-o'-the-wisp, that leads them into bog and quagmire whence no escape is possible. The England of a century, or even of half a century ago, has vanished, and we find ourselves in the midst of a busy, bustling world that knows no rest or peace. Inventions tread upon each other's heels in one long vast bewildering procession. We look back at the peaceful reign of the pack-horse, the rumbling wagon, the advent of the merry coaching days, the "Lightning" and the "Quicksilver," the chaining of the rivers with locks and bars, the network of canals that spread over the whole country; and then the first shriek of the railway engine startled the echoes of the countryside, a poor powerless thing that had to be pulled up the steep gradients by a chain attached to a big stationary engine at the summit. But it was the herald of the doom of the old-world England. Highways and coaching roads, canals and rivers, were abandoned and deserted. The old coachmen, once lords of the road, ended their days in the poorhouse, and steam, almighty steam, ruled everywhere.

Now the wayside inns wake up again with the bellow of the motor-car, which like a hideous monster rushes through the old-world villages, startling and killing old slow-footed rustics and scampering children, dogs and hens, and clouds of dust strive in very mercy to hide the view of the terrible rushing demon. In a few years' time the air will be conquered, and aeroplanes, balloons, flying-machines and air-ships, will drop down upon us from the skies and add a new terror to life.

Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range, Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.

Life is for ever changing, and doubtless everything is for the best in this best of possible worlds; but the antiquary may be forgiven for mourning over the destruction of many of the picturesque features of bygone times and revelling in the recollections of the past. The half-educated and the progressive—I attach no political meaning to the term—delight in their present environment, and care not to inquire too deeply into the origin of things; the study of evolution and development is outside their sphere; but yet, as Dean Church once wisely said, "In our eagerness for improvement it concerns us to be on our guard against the temptation of thinking that we can have the fruit or the flower, and yet destroy the root.... It concerns us that we do not despise our birthright and cast away our heritage of gifts and of powers, which we may lose, but not recover."

Every day witnesses the destruction of some old link with the past life of the people of England. A stone here, a buttress there—it matters not; these are of no consequence to the innovator or the iconoclast. If it may be our privilege to prevent any further spoliation of the heritage of Englishmen, if we can awaken any respect or reverence for the work of our forefathers, the labours of both artist and author will not have been in vain. Our heritage has been sadly diminished, but it has not yet altogether disappeared, and it is our object to try to record some of those objects of interest which are so fast perishing and vanishing from our view, in order that the remembrance of all the treasures that our country possesses may not disappear with them.

The beauty of our English scenery has in many parts of the country entirely vanished, never to return. Coal-pits, blasting furnaces, factories, and railways have converted once smiling landscapes and pretty villages into an inferno of black smoke, hideous mounds of ashes, huge mills with lofty chimneys belching forth clouds of smoke that kills vegetation and covers the leaves of trees and plants with exhalations. I remember attending at Oxford a lecture delivered by the late Mr. Ruskin. He produced a charming drawing by Turner of a beautiful old bridge spanning a clear stream, the banks of which were clad with trees and foliage. The sun shone brightly, and the sky was blue, with fleeting clouds. "This is what you are doing with your scenery," said the lecturer, as he took his palette and brushes; he began to paint on the glass that covered the picture, and in a few minutes the scene was transformed. Instead of the beautiful bridge a hideous iron girder structure spanned the stream, which was no longer pellucid and clear, but black as the Styx; instead of the trees arose a monstrous mill with a tall chimney vomiting black smoke that spread in heavy clouds, hiding the sun and the blue sky. "That is* what you are doing with your scenery," concluded Mr. Ruskin—a true picture of the penalty we pay for trade, progress, and the pursuit of wealth. We are losing faith in the testimony of our poets and painters to the beauty of the English landscape which has inspired their art, and much of the charm of our scenery in many parts has vanished. We happily have some of it left still where factories are not, some interesting objects that artists love to paint. It is well that they should be recorded before they too pass away.

*Transcriber's Note: Original "it".

Old houses of both peer and peasant and their contents are sooner or later doomed to destruction. Historic mansions full of priceless treasures amassed by succeeding generations of old families fall a prey to relentless fire. Old panelled rooms and the ancient floor-timbers understand not the latest experiments in electric lighting, and yield themselves to the flames with scarce a struggle. Our forefathers were content with hangings to keep out the draughts and open fireplaces to keep them warm. They were a hardy race, and feared not a touch or breath of cold. Their degenerate sons must have an elaborate heating apparatus, which again distresses the old timbers of the house and fires their hearts of oak. Our forefathers, indeed, left behind them a terrible legacy of danger—that beam in the chimney, which has caused the destruction of many country houses. Perhaps it was not so great a source of danger in the days of the old wood fires. It is deadly enough when huge coal fires burn in the grates. It is a dangerous, subtle thing. For days, or even for a week or two, it will smoulder and smoulder; and then at last it will blaze up, and the old house with all its precious contents is wrecked.

The power of the purse of American millionaires also tends greatly to the vanishing of much that is English—the treasures of English art, rare pictures and books, and even of houses. Some nobleman or gentleman, through the extravagance of himself or his ancestors, or on account of the pressure of death duties, finds himself impoverished. Some of our great art dealers hear of his unhappy state, and knowing that he has some fine paintings—a Vandyke or a Romney—offer him twenty-five or thirty thousand pounds for a work of art. The temptation proves irresistible. The picture is sold, and soon finds its way into the gallery of a rich American, no one in England having the power or the good taste to purchase it. We spend our money in other ways. The following conversation was overheard at Christie's: "Here is a beautiful thing; you should buy it," said the speaker to a newly fledged baronet. "I'm afraid I can't afford it," replied the baronet. "Not afford it?" replied his companion. "It will cost you infinitely less than a baronetcy and do you infinitely more credit." The new baronet seemed rather offended. At the great art sales rare folios of Shakespeare, pictures, Sevres, miniatures from English houses are put up for auction, and of course find their way to America. Sometimes our cousins from across the Atlantic fail to secure their treasures. They have striven very eagerly to buy Milton's cottage at Chalfont St. Giles, for transportation to America; but this effort has happily been successfully resisted. The carved table in the cottage was much sought after, and was with difficulty retained against an offer of L150. An old window of fifteenth-century workmanship in an old house at Shrewsbury was nearly exploited by an enterprising American for the sum of L250; and some years ago an application was received by the Home Secretary for permission to unearth the body of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, from its grave in the burial-ground of Jordans, near Chalfont St. Giles, and transport it to Philadelphia. This action was successfully opposed by the trustees of the burial-ground, but it was considered expedient to watch the ground for some time to guard against the possibility of any illicit attempts at removal.

It was reported that an American purchaser had been more successful at Ipswich, where in 1907 a Tudor house and corner-post, it was said, had been secured by a London firm for shipment to America. We are glad to hear that this report was incorrect, that the purchaser was an English lord, who re-erected the house in his park.

Wanton destruction is another cause of the disappearance of old mansions. Fashions change even in house-building. Many people prefer new lamps to old ones, though the old ones alone can summon genii and recall the glories of the past, the associations of centuries of family life, and the stories of ancestral prowess. Sometimes fashion decrees the downfall of old houses. Such a fashion raged at the beginning of the last century, when every one wanted a brand-new house built after the Palladian style; and the old weather-beaten pile that had sheltered the family for generations, and was of good old English design with nothing foreign or strange about it, was compelled to give place to a new-fangled dwelling-place which was neither beautiful nor comfortable. Indeed, a great wit once advised the builder of one of these mansions to hire a room on the other side of the road and spend his days looking at his Palladian house, but to be sure not to live there.

Many old houses have disappeared on account of the loyalty of their owners, who were unfortunate enough to reside within the regions harassed by the Civil War. This was especially the case in the county of Oxford. Still you may see avenues of venerable trees that lead to no house. The old mansion or manor-house has vanished. Many of them were put in a posture of defence. Earthworks and moats, if they did not exist before, were hastily constructed, and some of these houses were bravely defended by a competent and brave garrison, and were thorns in the sides of the Parliamentary army. Upon the triumph of the latter, revenge suffered not these nests of Malignants to live. Others were so battered and ruinous that they were only fit residences for owls and bats. Some loyal owners destroyed the remains of their homes lest they should afford shelter to the Parliamentary forces. David Walter set fire to his house at Godstow lest it should afford accommodation to the "Rebels." For the same reason Governor Legge burnt the new episcopal palace, which Bancroft had only finished ten years before at Cuddesdon. At the same time Thomas Gardiner burnt his manor-house in Cuddesdon village, and many other houses were so battered that they were left untenanted, and so fell to ruin.[1] Sir Bulstrode Whitelock describes how he slighted the works at Phillis Court, "causing the bulwarks and lines to be digged down, the grafts [i.e. moats] filled, the drawbridge to be pulled up, and all levelled. I sent away the great guns, the granadoes, fireworks, and ammunition, whereof there was good store in the fort. I procured pay for my soldiers, and many of them undertook the service in Ireland." This is doubtless typical of what went on in many other houses. The famous royal manor-house of Woodstock was left battered and deserted, and "haunted," as the readers of Woodstock will remember, by an "adroit and humorous royalist named Joe Collins," who frightened the commissioners away by his ghostly pranks. In 1651 the old house was gutted and almost destroyed. The war wrought havoc with the old houses, as it did with the lives and other possessions of the conquered.

[1] History of Oxfordshire, by J. Meade Falkner.

But we are concerned with times less remote, with the vanishing of historic monuments, of noble specimens of architecture, and of the humble dwellings of the poor, the picturesque cottages by the wayside, which form such attractive features of the English landscape. We have only to look at the west end of St. Albans Abbey Church, which has been "Grimthorped" out of all recognition, or at the over-restored Lincoln's Inn Chapel, to see what evil can be done in the name of "Restoration," how money can be lavishly spent to a thoroughly bad purpose.

Property in private hands has suffered no less than many of our public buildings, even when the owner is a lover of antiquity and does not wish to remove and to destroy the objects of interest on his estate. Estate agents are responsible for much destruction. Sir John Stirling Maxwell, Bart., F.S.A., a keen archaeologist, tells how an agent on his estate transformed a fine old grim sixteenth-century fortified dwelling, a very perfect specimen of its class, into a house for himself, entirely altering the character of its appearance, adding a lofty oriel and spacious windows with a new door and staircase, while some of the old stones were made to adorn a rockery in the garden. When he was abroad the elaborately contrived entrance for the defence of a square fifteenth-century keep with four square towers at the corners, very curious and complete, were entirely obliterated by a zealous mason. In my own parish I awoke one day to find the old village pound entirely removed by order of an estate agent, and a very interesting stand near the village smithy for fastening oxen when they were shod disappeared one day, the village publican wanting the posts for his pig-sty. County councils sweep away old bridges because they are inconveniently narrow and steep for the tourists' motors, and deans and chapters are not always to be relied upon in regard to their theories of restoration, and squire and parson work sad havoc on the fabrics of old churches when they are doing their best to repair them. Too often they have decided to entirely demolish the old building, the most characteristic feature of the English landscape, with its square grey tower or shapely spire, a tower that is, perhaps, loopholed and battlemented, and tells of turbulent times when it afforded a secure asylum and stronghold when hostile bands were roving the countryside. Within, piscina, ambrey, and rood-loft tell of the ritual of former days. Some monuments of knights and dames proclaim the achievements of some great local family. But all this weighs for nothing in the eyes of the renovating squire and parson. They must have a grand, new, modern church with much architectural pretension and fine decorations which can never have the charm which attaches to the old building. It has no memories, this new structure. It has nothing to connect it with the historic past. Besides, they decree that it must not cost too much. The scheme of decoration is stereotyped, the construction mechanical. There is an entire absence of true feeling and of any real inspiration of devotional art. The design is conventional, the pattern uniform. The work is often scamped and hurried, very different from the old method of building. We note the contrast. The medieval builders were never in a hurry to finish their work. The old fanes took centuries to build; each generation doing its share, chancel or nave, aisle or window, each trying to make the church as perfect as the art of man could achieve. We shall see how much of this sound and laborious work has vanished, a prey to restoration and ignorant renovation. We shall see the house-breaker at work in rural hamlet and in country town. Vanishing London we shall leave severely alone. Its story has been already told in a large and comely volume by my friend Mr. Philip Norman. Besides, is there anything that has not vanished, having been doomed to destruction by the march of progress, now that Crosby Hall has gone the way of life in the Great City? A few old halls of the City companies remain, but most of them have given way to modern palaces; a few City churches, very few, that escaped the Great Fire, and every now and again we hear threatenings against the masterpieces of Wren, and another City church has followed in the wake of all the other London buildings on which the destroyer has laid his hand. The site is so valuable; the modern world of business presses out the life of these fine old edifices. They have to make way for new-fangled erections built in the modern French style with sprawling gigantic figures with bare limbs hanging on the porticoes which seem to wonder how they ever got there, and however they were to keep themselves from falling. London is hopeless! We can but delve its soil when opportunities occur in order to find traces of Roman or medieval life. Churches, inns, halls, mansions, palaces, exchanges have vanished, or are quickly vanishing, and we cast off the dust of London streets from our feet and seek more hopeful places.

But even in the sleepy hollows of old England the pulse beats faster than of yore, and we shall only just be in time to rescue from oblivion and the house-breaker some of our heritage. Old city walls that have defied the attacks of time and of Cromwell's Ironsides are often in danger from the wiseacres who preside on borough corporations. Town halls picturesque and beautiful in their old age have to make way for the creations of the local architect. Old shops have to be pulled down in order to provide a site for a universal emporium or a motor garage. Nor are buildings the only things that are passing away. The extensive use of motor-cars and highway vandalism are destroying the peculiar beauty of the English roadside. The swift-speeding cars create clouds of white dust which settles upon the hedges and trees, covering them with it and obscuring the wayside flowers and hiding all their attractiveness. Corn and grass are injured and destroyed by the dust clouds. The charm and poetry of the country walk are destroyed by motoring demons, and the wayside cottage-gardens, once the most attractive feature of the English landscape, are ruined. The elder England, too, is vanishing in the modes, habits, and manners of her people. Never was the truth of the old oft-quoted Latin proverb—Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis—so pathetically emphatic as it is to-day. The people are changing in their habits and modes of thought. They no longer take pleasure in the simple joys of their forefathers. Hence in our chronicle of Vanishing England we shall have to refer to some of those strange customs which date back to primeval ages, but which the railways, excursion trains, and the schoolmaster in a few years will render obsolete.

In recording the England that is vanishing the artist's pencil will play a more prominent part than the writer's pen. The graphic sketches that illustrate this book are far more valuable and helpful to the discernment of the things that remain than the most effective descriptions. We have tried together to gather up the fragments that remain that nothing be lost; and though there may be much that we have not gathered, the examples herein given of some of the treasures that are left may be useful in creating a greater reverence for the work bequeathed to us by our forefathers, and in strengthening the hands of those who would preserve them. Happily we are still able to use the present participle, not the past. It is vanishing England, not vanished, of which we treat; and if we can succeed in promoting an affection for the relics of antiquity that time has spared, our labours will not have been in vain or the object of this book unattained.



Under this alarming heading, "The Disappearance of England," the Gaulois recently published an article by M. Guy Dorval on the erosion of the English coasts. The writer refers to the predictions of certain British men of science that England will one day disappear altogether beneath the waves, and imagines that we British folk are seized by a popular panic. Our neighbours are trembling for the fate of the entente cordiale, which would speedily vanish with vanishing England; but they have been assured by some of their savants that the rate of erosion is only one kilometre in a thousand years, and that the danger of total extinction is somewhat remote. Professor Stanislas Meunier, however, declares that our "panic" is based on scientific facts. He tells us that the cliffs of Brighton are now one kilometre farther away from the French coast than in the days of Queen Elizabeth, and that those of Kent are six kilometres farther away than in the Roman period. He compares our island to a large piece of sugar in water, but we may rest assured that before we disappear beneath the waves the period which must elapse would be greater than the longest civilizations known in history. So we may hope to be able to sing "Rule Britannia" for many a long year.

Coast erosion is, however, a serious problem, and has caused the destruction of many a fair town and noble forest that now lie beneath the seas, and the crumbling cliffs on our eastern shore threaten to destroy many a village church and smiling pasture. Fishermen tell you that when storms rage and the waves swell they have heard the bells chiming in the towers long covered by the seas, and nigh the picturesque village of Bosham we were told of a stretch of sea that was called the Park. This as late as the days of Henry VIII was a favourite royal hunting forest, wherein stags and fawns and does disported themselves; now fish are the only prey that can be slain therein.

The Royal Commission on coast erosion relieves our minds somewhat by assuring us that although the sea gains upon the land in many places, the land gains upon the sea in others, and that the loss and gain are more or less balanced. As a matter of area this is true. Most of the land that has been rescued from the pitiless sea is below high-water mark, and is protected by artificial banks. This work of reclaiming land can, of course, only be accomplished in sheltered places, for example, in the great flat bordering the Wash, which flat is formed by the deposit of the rivers of the Fenland, and the seaward face of this region is gradually being pushed forward by the careful processes of enclosure. You can see the various old sea walls which have been constructed from Roman times onward. Some accretions of land have occurred where the sea piles up masses of shingle, unless foolish people cart away the shingle in such quantities that the waves again assert themselves. Sometimes sand silts up as at Southport in Lancashire, where there is the second longest pier in England, a mile in length, from the end of which it is said that on a clear day with a powerful telescope you may perchance see the sea, that a distinguished traveller accustomed to the deserts of Sahara once found it, and that the name Southport is altogether a misnomer, as it is in the north and there is no port at all.

But however much as an Englishman I might rejoice that the actual area of "our tight little island," which after all is not very tight, should not be diminishing, it would be a poor consolation to me, if I possessed land and houses on the coast of Norfolk which were fast slipping into the sea, to know that in the Fenland industrious farmers were adding to their acres. And day by day, year by year, this destruction is going on, and the gradual melting away of land. The attack is not always persistent. It is intermittent. Sometimes the progress of the sea seems to be stayed, and then a violent storm arises and falling cliffs and submerged houses proclaim the sway of the relentless waves. We find that the greatest loss has occurred on the east and southern coasts of our island. Great damage has been wrought all along the Yorkshire sea-board from Bridlington to Kilnsea, and the following districts have been the greatest sufferers: between Cromer and Happisburgh, Norfolk; between Pakefield and Southwold, Suffolk; Hampton and Herne Bay, and then St. Margaret's Bay, near Dover; the coast of Sussex, east of Brighton, and the Isle of Wight; the region of Bournemouth and Poole; Lyme Bay, Dorset, and Bridgwater Bay, Somerset.

All along the coast from Yarmouth to Eastbourne, with a few exceptional parts, we find that the sea is gaining on the land by leaps and bounds. It is a coast that is most favourably constructed for coast erosion. There are no hard or firm rocks, no cliffs high enough to give rise to a respectable landslip; the soil is composed of loose sand and gravels, loams and clays, nothing to resist the assaults of atmospheric action from above or the sea below. At Covehithe, on the Suffolk coast, there has been the greatest loss of land. In 1887 sixty feet was claimed by the sea, and in ten years (1878-87) the loss was at the rate of over eighteen feet a year. In 1895 another heavy loss occurred between Southwold and Covehithe and a new cove formed. Easton Bavent has entirely disappeared, and so have the once prosperous villages of Covehithe, Burgh-next-Walton, and Newton-by-Corton, and the same fate seems to be awaiting Pakefield, Southwold, and other coast-lying towns. Easton Bavent once had such a flourishing fishery that it paid an annual rent of 3110 herrings; and millions of herrings must have been caught by the fishermen of disappeared Dunwich, which we shall visit presently, as they paid annually "fish-fare" to the clergy of the town 15,377 herrings, besides 70,000 to the royal treasury.

The summer visitors to the pleasant watering-place Felixstowe, named after St. Felix, who converted the East Anglians to Christianity and was their first bishop, that being the place where the monks of the priory of St. Felix in Walton held their annual fair, seldom reflect that the old Saxon burgh was carried away as long ago as 1100 A.D. Hence Earl Bigot was compelled to retire inland and erect his famous castle at Walton. But the sea respected not the proud walls of the baron's stronghold; the strong masonry that girt the keep lies beneath the waves; a heap of stones, called by the rustics Stone Works, alone marks the site of this once powerful castle. Two centuries later the baron's marsh was destroyed by the sea, and eighty acres of land was lost, much to the regret of the monks, who were thus deprived of the rent and tithe corn.

The old chroniclers record many dread visitations of the relentless foe. Thus in 1237 we read: "The sea burst with high tides and tempests of winds, marsh countries near the sea were flooded, herds and flocks perished, and no small number of men were lost and drowned. The sea rose continually for two days and one night." Again in 1251: "On Christmas night there was a great thunder and lightning in Suffolk; the sea caused heavy floods." In much later times Defoe records: "Aldeburgh has two streets, each near a mile long, but its breadth, which was more considerable formerly, is not proportionable, and the sea has of late years swallowed up one whole street." It has still standing close to the shore its quaint picturesque town hall, erected in the fifteenth century. Southwold is now practically an island, bounded on the east by the sea, on the south-west by the Blyth River, on the north-west by Buss Creek. It is only joined to the mainland by a narrow neck of shingle that divides Buss Creek from the sea. I think that I should prefer to hold property in a more secure region. You invest your savings in stock, and dividends decrease and your capital grows smaller, but you usually have something left. But when your land and houses vanish entirely beneath the waves, the chapter is ended and you have no further remedy except to sue Father Neptune, who has rather a wide beat and may be difficult to find when he is wanted to be served with a summons.

But the Suffolk coast does not show all loss. In the north much land has been gained in the region of Beccles, which was at one time close to the sea, and one of the finest spreads of shingle in England extends from Aideburgh to Bawdry. This shingle has silted up many a Suffolk port, but it has proved a very effectual barrier against the inroads of the sea. Norden's map of the coast made in 1601[2] shows this wonderful mass of shingle, which has greatly increased since Norden's day. It has been growing in a southerly direction, until the Aide River had until recently an estuary ten miles in length. But in 1907 the sea asserted itself, and "burst through the stony barrier, making a passage for the exit of the river one mile further north, and leaving a vast stretch of shingle and two deserted river-channels as a protection to the Marshes of Hollesley from further inroads of the sea."[3] Formerly the River Alde flowed direct to the sea just south of the town of Aldeburgh. Perhaps some day it may be able to again force a passage near its ancient course or by Havergate Island. This alteration in the course of rivers is very remarkable, and may be observed at Christ Church, Hants.

[2] It is now in possession of Mr. Kenneth M. Clark, by whose permission the accompanying plan, reproduced from the Memorials of Old Suffolk, was made.

[3] Memorials of Old Suffolk, edited by V.B. Redstone, p. 226.

It is pathetic to think of the historic churches, beautiful villages, and smiling pastures that have been swept away by the relentless sea. There are no less than twelve towns and villages in Yorkshire that have been thus buried, and five in Suffolk. Ravensburgh, in the former county, was once a flourishing seaport. Here landed Henry IV in 1399, and Edward IV in 1471. It returned two members to Parliament. An old picture of the place shows the church, a large cross, and houses; but it has vanished with the neighbouring villages of Redmare, Tharlethorp, Frismarch, and Potterfleet, and "left not a wrack behind." Leland mentions it in 1538, after which time its place in history and on the map knows it no more. The ancient church of Kilnsea lost half its fabric in 1826, and the rest followed in 1831. Alborough Church and the Castle of Grimston have entirely vanished. Mapleton Church was formerly two miles from the sea; it is now on a cliff with the sea at its feet, awaiting the final attack of the all-devouring enemy. Nearly a century ago Owthorne Church and churchyard were overwhelmed, and the shore was strewn with ruins and shattered coffins. On the Tyneside the destruction has been remarkable and rapid. In the district of Saltworks there was a house built standing on the cliff, but it was never finished, and fell a prey to the waves. At Percy Square an inn and two cottages have been destroyed. The edge of the cliff in 1827 was eighty feet seaward, and the banks of Percy Square receded a hundred and eighty feet between the years 1827 and 1892. Altogether four acres have disappeared. An old Roman building, locally known as "Gingling Geordie's Hole," and large masses of the Castle Cliff fell into the sea in the 'eighties. The remains of the once flourishing town of Seaton, on the Durham coast, can be discovered amid the sands at low tide. The modern village has sunk inland, and cannot now boast of an ancient chapel dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury, which has been devoured by the waves.

Skegness, on the Lincolnshire coast, was a large and important town; it boasted of a castle with strong fortifications and a church with a lofty spire; it now lies deep beneath the devouring sea, which no guarding walls could conquer. Far out at sea, beneath the waves, lies old Cromer Church, and when storms rage its bells are said to chime. The churchyard wherein was written the pathetic ballad "The Garden of Sleep" is gradually disappearing, and "the graves of the fair women that sleep by the cliffs by the sea" have been outraged, and their bodies scattered and devoured by the pitiless waves.

One of the greatest prizes of the sea is the ancient city of Dunwich, which dates back to the Roman era. The Domesday Survey shows that it was then a considerable town having 236 burgesses. It was girt with strong walls; it possessed an episcopal palace, the seat of the East Anglian bishopric; it had (so Stow asserts) fifty-two churches, a monastery, brazen gates, a town hall, hospitals, and the dignity of possessing a mint. Stow tells of its departed glories, its royal and episcopal palaces, the sumptuous mansion of the mayor, its numerous churches and its windmills, its harbour crowded with shipping, which sent forth forty vessels for the king's service in the thirteenth century. Though Dunwich was an important place, Stow's description of it is rather exaggerated. It could never have had more than ten churches and monasteries. Its "brazen gates" are mythical, though it had its Lepers' Gate, South Gate, and others. It was once a thriving city of wealthy merchants and industrious fishermen. King John granted to it a charter. It suffered from the attacks of armed men as well as from the ravages of the sea. Earl Bigot and the revolting barons besieged it in the reign of Edward I. Its decay was gradual. In 1342, in the parish of St. Nicholas, out of three hundred houses only eighteen remained. Only seven out of a hundred houses were standing in the parish of St. Martin. St. Peter's parish was devastated and depopulated. It had a small round church, like that at Cambridge, called the Temple, once the property of the Knights Templars, richly endowed with costly gifts. This was a place of sanctuary, as were the other churches in the city. With the destruction of the houses came also the decay of the port which no ships could enter. Its rival, Southwold, attracted the vessels of strangers. The markets and fairs were deserted. Silence and ruin reigned over the doomed town, and the ruined church of All Saints is all that remains of its former glories, save what the storms sometimes toss along the beach for the study and edification of antiquaries.

As we proceed down the coast we find that the sea is still gaining on the land. The old church at Walton-on-the-Naze was swept away, and is replaced by a new one. A flourishing town existed at Reculver, which dates back to the Romans. It was a prosperous place, and had a noble church, which in the sixteenth century was a mile from the sea. Steadily have the waves advanced, until a century ago the church fell into the sea, save two towers which have been preserved by means of elaborate sea-walls as a landmark for sailors.

The fickle sea has deserted some towns and destroyed their prosperity; it has receded all along the coast from Folkestone to the Sussex border, and left some of the famous Cinque Ports, some of which we shall visit again, Lymne, Romney, Hythe, Richborough, Stonor, Sandwich, and Sarre high and dry, with little or no access to the sea. Winchelsea has had a strange career. The old town lies beneath the waves, but a new Winchelsea arose, once a flourishing port, but now deserted and forlorn with the sea a mile away. Rye, too, has been forsaken. It was once an island; now the little Rother stream conveys small vessels to the sea, which looks very far away.

We cannot follow all the victories of the sea. We might examine the inroads made by the waves at Selsea. There stood the first cathedral of the district before Chichester was founded. The building is now beneath the sea, and since Saxon times half of the Selsea Bill has vanished. The village of Selsea rested securely in the centre of the peninsula, but only half a mile now separates it from the sea. Some land has been gained near this projecting headland by an industrious farmer. His farm surrounded a large cove with a narrow mouth through which the sea poured. If he could only dam up that entrance, he thought he could rescue the bed of the cove and add to his acres. He bought an old ship and sank it by the entrance and proceeded to drain. But a tiresome storm arose and drove the ship right across the cove, and the sea poured in again. By no means discouraged, he dammed up the entrance more effectually, got rid of the water, increased his farm by many acres, and the old ship makes an admirable cow-shed.

The Isle of Wight in remote geological periods was part of the mainland. The Scilly Isles were once joined with Cornwall, and were not severed until the fourteenth century, when by a mighty storm and flood, 140 churches and villages were destroyed and overwhelmed, and 190 square miles of land carried away. Much land has been lost in the Wirral district of Cheshire. Great forests have been overwhelmed, as the skulls and bones of deer and horse and fresh-water shell-fish have been frequently discovered at low tide. Fifty years ago a distance of half a mile separated Leasowes Castle from the sea; now its walls are washed by the waves. The Pennystone, off the Lancashire coast by Blackpool, tells of a submerged village and manor, about which cluster romantic legends.

Such is the sad record of the sea's destruction, for which the industrious reclamation of land, the compensations wrought by the accumulation of shingle and sand dunes and the silting of estuaries can scarcely compensate us. How does the sea work this? There are certain rock-boring animals, such as the Pholas, which help to decay the rocks. Each mollusc cuts a series of augur-holes from two to four inches deep, and so assists in destroying the bulwarks of England. Atmospheric action, the disintegration of soft rocks by frost and by the attack of the sea below, all tend in the same direction. But the foolish action of man in removing shingle, the natural protection of our coasts, is also very mischievous. There is an instance of this in the Hall Sands and Bee Sands, Devon. A company a few years ago obtained authority to dredge both from the foreshore and sea-bed. The Commissioners of Woods and Forests and the Board of Trade granted this permission, the latter receiving a royalty of L50 and the former L150. This occurred in 1896. Soon afterwards a heavy gale arose and caused an immense amount of damage, the result entirely of this dredging. The company had to pay heavily, and the royalties were returned to them. This is only one instance out of many which might be quoted. We are an illogical nation, and our regulations and authorities are weirdly confused. It appears that the foreshore is under the control of the Board of Trade, and then a narrow strip of land is ruled over by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. Of course these bodies do not agree; different policies are pursued by each, and the coast suffers. Large sums are sometimes spent in coast-defence works. At Spurn no less than L37,433 has been spent out of Parliamentary grants, besides L14,227 out of the Mercantile Marine Fund. Corporations or county authorities, finding their coasts being worn away, resolve to protect it. They obtain a grant in aid from Parliament, spend vast sums, and often find their work entirely thrown away, or proving itself most disastrous to their neighbours. If you protect one part of the coast you destroy another. Such is the rule of the sea. If you try to beat it back at one point it will revenge itself on another. If only you can cause shingle to accumulate before your threatened town or homestead, you know you can make the place safe and secure from the waves. But if you stop this flow of shingle you may protect your own homes, but you deprive your neighbours of this safeguard against the ravages of the sea. It was so at Deal. The good folks of Deal placed groynes in order to stop the flow of shingle and protect the town. They did their duty well; they stopped the shingle and made a good bulwark against the sea. With what result? In a few years' time they caused the destruction of Sandown, which had been deprived of its natural protection. Mr. W. Whitaker, F.R.S., who has walked along the whole coast from Norfolk to Cornwall, besides visiting other parts of our English shore, and whose contributions to the Report of the Royal Commission on Coast Erosion are so valuable, remembers when a boy the Castle of Sandown, which dated from the time of Henry VIII. It was then in a sound condition and was inhabited. Now it is destroyed, and the batteries farther north have gone too. The same thing is going on at Dover. The Admiralty Pier causes the accumulation of shingle on its west side, and prevents it from following its natural course in a north-easterly direction. Hence the base of the cliffs on the other side of the pier and harbour is left bare and unprotected; this aids erosion, and not unfrequently do we hear of the fall of the chalk cliffs.

Isolated schemes for the prevention of coast erosion are of little avail. They can do no good, and only increase the waste and destruction of land in neighbouring shores. Stringent laws should be passed to prevent the taking away of shingle from protecting beaches, and to prohibit the ploughing of land near the edge of cliffs, which greatly assists atmospheric destructive action from above. The State has recently threatened the abandonment of the coastguard service. This would be a disastrous policy. Though the primary object of coastguards, the prevention of smuggling, has almost passed away, the old sailors who act as guardians of our coast-line render valuable services to the country. They are most useful in looking after the foreshore. They save many lives from wrecked vessels, and keep watch and ward to guard our shores, and give timely notice of the advance of a hostile fleet, or of that ever-present foe which, though it affords some protection for our island home from armed invasion, does not fail to exact a heavy tithe from the land it guards, and has destroyed so many once flourishing towns and villages by its ceaseless attack.



The destruction of ancient buildings always causes grief and distress to those who love antiquity. It is much to be deplored, but in some cases is perhaps inevitable. Old-fashioned half-timbered shops with small diamond-paned windows are not the most convenient for the display of the elegant fashionable costumes effectively draped on modelled forms. Motor-cars cannot be displayed in antiquated old shops. Hence in modern up-to-date towns these old buildings are doomed, and have to give place to grand emporiums with large plate-glass windows and the refinements of luxurious display. We hope to visit presently some of the old towns and cities which happily retain their ancient beauties, where quaint houses with oversailing upper stories still exist, and with the artist's aid to describe many of their attractions.

Although much of the destruction is, as I have said, inevitable, a vast amount is simply the result of ignorance and wilful perversity. Ignorant persons get elected on town councils—worthy men doubtless, and able men of business, who can attend to and regulate the financial affairs of the town, look after its supply of gas and water, its drainage and tramways; but they are absolutely ignorant of its history, its associations, of architectural beauty, of anything that is not modern and utilitarian. Unhappily, into the care of such men as these is often confided the custody of historic buildings and priceless treasures, of ruined abbey and ancient walls, of objects consecrated by the lapse of centuries and by the associations of hundreds of years of corporate life; and it is not surprising that in many cases they betray their trust. They are not interested in such things. "Let bygones be bygones," they say. "We care not for old rubbish." Moreover, they frequently resent interference and instruction. Hence they destroy wholesale what should be preserved, and England is the poorer.

Not long ago the Edwardian wall of Berwick-on-Tweed was threatened with demolition at the hands of those who ought to be its guardians—the Corporation of the town. An official from the Office of Works, when he saw the begrimed, neglected appearance of the two fragments of this wall near the Bell Tower, with a stagnant pool in the fosse, bestrewed with broken pitchers and rubbish, reported that the Elizabethan walls of the town which were under the direction of the War Department were in excellent condition, whereas the Edwardian masonry was utterly neglected. And why was this relic of the town's former greatness to be pulled down? Simply to clear the site for the erection of modern dwelling-houses. A very strong protest was made against this act of municipal barbarism by learned societies, the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings, and others, and we hope that the hand of the destroyer has been stayed.

Most of the principal towns in England were protected by walls, and the citizens regarded it as a duty to build them and keep them in repair. When we look at some of these fortifications, their strength, their height, their thickness, we are struck by the fact that they were very great achievements, and that they must have been raised with immense labour and gigantic cost. In turbulent and warlike times they were absolutely necessary. Look at some of these triumphs of medieval engineering skill, so strong, so massive, able to defy the attacks of lance and arrow, ram or catapult, and to withstand ages of neglect and the storms of a tempestuous clime. Towers and bastions stood at intervals against the wall at convenient distances, in order that bowmen stationed in them could shoot down any who attempted to scale the wall with ladders anywhere within the distance between the towers. All along the wall there was a protected pathway for the defenders to stand, and machicolations through which boiling oil or lead, or heated sand could be poured on the heads of the attacking force. The gateways were carefully constructed, flanked by defending towers with a portcullis, and a guard-room overhead with holes in the vaulted roof of the gateway for pouring down inconvenient substances upon the heads of the besiegers. There were several gates, the usual number being four; but Coventry had twelve, Canterbury six, and Newcastle-on-Tyne seven, besides posterns.

Berwick-upon-Tweed, York, Chester, and Conway have maintained their walls in good condition. Berwick has three out of its four gates still standing. They are called Scotchgate, Shoregate, and Cowgate, and in the last two still remain the original massive wooden gates with their bolts and hinges. The remaining fourth gate, named Bridgate, has vanished. We have alluded to the neglect of the Edwardian wall and its threatened destruction. Conway has a wall a mile and a quarter in length, with twenty-one semicircular towers along its course and three great gateways besides posterns. Edward I built this wall in order to subjugate the Welsh, and also the walls round Carnarvon, some of which survive, and Beaumaris. The name of his master-mason has been preserved, one Henry le Elreton. The muniments of the Corporation of Alnwick prove that often great difficulties arose in the matter of wall-building. Its closeness to the Scottish border rendered a wall necessary. The town was frequently attacked and burnt. The inhabitants obtained a licence to build a wall in 1433, but they did not at once proceed with the work. In 1448 the Scots came and pillaged the town, and the poor burgesses were so robbed and despoiled that they could not afford to proceed with the wall and petitioned the King for aid. Then Letters Patent were issued for a collection to be made for the object, and at last, forty years after the licence was granted, Alnwick got its wall, and a very good wall it was—a mile in circumference, twenty feet in height and six in thickness; "it had four gateways—Bondgate, Clayport, Pottergate, and Narrowgate. Only the first-named of these is standing. It is three stories in height. Over the central archway is a panel on which was carved the Brabant lion, now almost obliterated. On either side is a semi-octagonal tower. The masonry is composed of huge blocks to which time and weather have given dusky tints. On the front facing the expected foes the openings are but little more than arrow-slits; on that within, facing the town, are well-proportioned mullioned and transomed windows. The great ribbed archway is grooved for a portcullis, now removed, and a low doorway on either side gives entrance to the chambers in the towers. Pottergate was rebuilt in the eighteenth century and crowns a steep street; only four corner-stones marked T indicate the site of Clayport. No trace of Narrowgate remains."[4]

As the destruction of many of our castles is due to the action of Cromwell and the Parliament, who caused them to be "slighted" partly out of revenge upon the loyal owners who had defended them, so several of our town-walls were thrown down by order of Charles II at the Restoration on account of the active assistance which the townspeople had given to the rebels. The heads of rebels were often placed on gateways. London Bridge, Lincoln, Newcastle, York, Berwick, Canterbury, Temple Bar, and other gates have often been adorned with these gruesome relics of barbarous punishments.

How were these strong walls ever taken in the days before gunpowder was extensively used or cannon discharged their devastating shells? Imagine you are present at a siege. You would see the attacking force advancing a huge wooden tower, covered with hides and placed on wheels, towards the walls. Inside this tower were ladders, and when the "sow" had been pushed towards the wall the soldiers rushed up these ladders and were able to fight on a level with the garrison. Perhaps they were repulsed, and then a shed-like structure would be advanced towards the wall, so as to enable the men to get close enough to dig a hole beneath the walls in order to bring them down. The besieged would not be inactive, but would cast heavy stones on the roof of the shed. Molten lead and burning flax were favourite means of defence to alarm and frighten away the enemy, who retaliated by casting heavy stones by means of a catapult into the town.

[4] The Builder, April 16, 1904.

Amongst the fragments of walls still standing, those at Newcastle are very massive, sooty, and impressive. Southampton has some grand walls left and a gateway, which show how strongly the town was fortified. The old Cinque Port, Sandwich, formerly a great and important town, lately decayed, but somewhat renovated by golf, has two gates left, and Rochester and Canterbury have some fragments of their walls standing. The repair of the walls of towns was sometimes undertaken by guilds. Generous benefactors, like Sir Richard Whittington, frequently contributed to the cost, and sometimes a tax called murage was levied for the purpose which was collected by officers named muragers.

The city of York has lost many of its treasures, and the City Fathers seem to find it difficult to keep their hands off such relics of antiquity as are left to them. There are few cities in England more deeply marked with the impress of the storied past than York—the long and moving story of its gates and walls, of the historical associations of the city through century after century of English history. About eighty years ago the Corporation destroyed the picturesque old barbicans of the Bootham, Micklegate, and Monk Bars, and only one, Walmgate, was suffered to retain this interesting feature. It is a wonder they spared those curious stone half-length figures of men, sculptured in a menacing attitude in the act of hurling large stones downwards, which vaunt themselves on the summit of Monk Bar—probably intended to deceive invaders—or that interesting stone platform only twenty-two inches wide, which was the only foothold available for the martial burghers who guarded the city wall at Tower Place. A year or two ago the City Fathers decided, in order to provide work for the unemployed, to interfere with the city moats by laying them out as flower-beds and by planting shrubs and making playgrounds of the banks. The protest of the Yorks Archaeological Society, we believe, stayed their hands.

The same story can be told of far too many towns and cities. A few years ago several old houses were demolished in the High Street of the city of Rochester to make room for electric tramways. Among these was the old White Hart Inn, built in 1396, the sign being a badge of Richard II, where Samuel Pepys stayed. He found that "the beds were corded, and we had no sheets to our beds, only linen to our mouths" (a narrow strip of linen to prevent the contact of the blanket with the face). With regard to the disappearance of old inns, we must wait until we arrive at another chapter.

We will now visit some old towns where we hope to discover some buildings that are ancient and where all is not distressingly new, hideous, and commonplace. First we will travel to the old-world town of Lynn—"Lynn Regis, vulgarly called King's Lynn," as the royal charter of Henry VIII terms it. On the land side the town was defended by a fosse, and there are still considerable remains of the old wall, including the fine Gothic South Gates. In the days of its ancient glory it was known as Bishop's Lynn, the town being in the hands of the Bishop of Norwich. Bishop Herbert de Losinga built the church of St. Margaret at the beginning of the twelfth century, and gave it with many privileges to the monks of Norwich, who held a priory at Lynn; and Bishop Turbus did a wonderfully good stroke of business, reclaimed a large tract of land about 1150 A.D., and amassed wealth for his see from his markets, fairs, and mills. Another bishop, Bishop Grey, induced or compelled King John to grant a free charter to the town, but astutely managed to keep all the power in his own hands. Lynn was always a very religious place, and most of the orders—Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelite and Augustinian Friars, and the Sack Friars—were represented at Lynn, and there were numerous hospitals, a lazar-house, a college of secular canons, and other religious institutions, until they were all swept away by the greed of a rapacious king. There is not much left to-day of all these religious foundations. The latest authority on the history of Lynn, Mr. H.J. Hillen, well says: "Time's unpitying plough-share has spared few vestiges of their architectural* grandeur." A cemetery cross in the museum, the name "Paradise" that keeps up the remembrance of the cool, verdant cloister-garth, a brick arch upon the east bank of the Nar, and a similar gateway in "Austin" Street are all the relics that remain of the old monastic life, save the slender hexagonal "Old Tower," the graceful lantern of the convent of the grey-robed Franciscans. The above writer also points out the beautifully carved door in Queen Street, sole relic of the College of Secular Canons, from which the chisel of the ruthless iconoclast has chipped off the obnoxious Orate pro anima.

*Transcriber's Note: Original "achitectural"

The quiet, narrow, almost deserted streets of Lynn, its port and quays have another story to tell. They proclaim its former greatness as one of the chief ports in England and the centre of vast mercantile activity. A thirteenth-century historian, Friar William Newburg, described Lynn as "a noble city noted for its trade." It was the key of Norfolk. Through it flowed all the traffic to and from northern East Anglia, and from its harbour crowds of ships carried English produce, mainly wool, to the Netherlands, Norway, and the Rhine Provinces. Who would have thought that this decayed harbour ranked fourth among the ports of the kingdom? But its glories have departed. Decay set in. Its prosperity began to decline.

Railways have been the ruin of King's Lynn. The merchant princes who once abounded in the town exist here no longer. The last of the long race died quite recently. Some ancient ledgers still exist in the town, which exhibit for one firm alone a turnover of something like a million and a half sterling per annum. Although possessed of a similarly splendid waterway, unlike Ipswich, the trade of the town seems to have quite decayed. Few signs of commerce are visible, except where the advent of branch stations of enterprising "Cash" firms has resulted in the squaring up of odd projections and consequent overthrow of certain ancient buildings. There is one act of vandalism which the town has never ceased to regret and which should serve as a warning for the future. This is the demolition of the house of Walter Coney, merchant, an unequalled specimen of fifteenth-century domestic architecture, which formerly stood at the corner of the Saturday Market Place and High Street. So strongly was this edifice constructed that it was with the utmost difficulty that it was taken to pieces, in order to make room for the ugly range of white brick buildings which now stands upon its site. But Lynn had an era of much prosperity during the rise of the Townshends, when the agricultural improvements brought about by the second Viscount introduced much wealth to Norfolk. Such buildings as the Duke's Head Hotel belong to the second Viscount's time, and are indicative of the influx of visitors which the town enjoyed. In the present day this hotel, though still a good-sized establishment, occupies only half the building which it formerly did. An interesting oak staircase of fine proportions, though now much warped, may be seen here.

In olden days the Hanseatic League had an office here. The Jews were plentiful and supplied capital—you can find their traces in the name of the "Jews' Lane Ward"—and then came the industrious Flemings, who brought with them the art of weaving cloth and peculiar modes of building houses, so that Lynn looks almost like a little Dutch town. The old guild life of Lynn was strong and vigorous, from its Merchant Guild to the humbler craft guilds, of which we are told that there have been no less than seventy-five. Part of the old Guildhall, erected in 1421, with its chequered flint and stone gable still stands facing the market of St. Margaret with its Renaissance porch, and a bit of the guild hall of St. George the Martyr remains in King Street. The custom-house, which was originally built as an exchange for the Lynn merchants, is a notable building, and has a statue of Charles II placed in a niche.

This was the earliest work of a local architect, Henry Bell, who is almost unknown. He was mayor of King's Lynn, and died in 1717, and his memory has been saved from oblivion by Mr. Beloe of that town, and is enshrined in Mr. Blomfield's History of Renaissance Architecture:—

"This admirable little building originally consisted of an open loggia about 40 feet by 32 feet outside, with four columns down the centre, supporting the first floor, and an attic storey above. The walls are of Portland stone, with a Doric order to the ground storey supporting an Ionic order to the first floor. The cornice is of wood, and above this is a steep-pitched tile roof with dormers, surmounted by a balustrade inclosing a flat, from which rises a most picturesque wooden cupola. The details are extremely refined, and the technical knowledge and delicate sense of scale and proportion shown in this building are surprising in a designer who was under thirty, and is not known to have done any previous work."[5]

[5] History of Renaissance Architecture, by R. Blomfield.

A building which the town should make an effort to preserve is the old "Greenland Fishery House," a tenement dating from the commencement of the seventeenth century.

The Duke's Head Inn, erected in 1689, now spoilt by its coating of plaster, a house in Queen's Street, the old market cross, destroyed in 1831 and sold for old materials, and the altarpieces of the churches of St. Margaret and St. Nicholas, destroyed during "restoration," and North Runcton church, three miles from Lynn, are other works of this very able artist.

Until the Reformation Lynn was known as Bishop's Lynn, and galled itself under the yoke of the Bishop of Norwich; but Henry freed the townsfolk from their bondage and ordered the name to be changed to Lynn Regis. Whether the good people throve better under the control of the tyrant who crushed all their guilds and appropriated the spoil than under the episcopal yoke may be doubtful; but the change pleased them, and with satisfaction they placed the royal arms on their East Gate, which, after the manner of gates and walls, has been pulled down. If you doubt the former greatness of this old seaport you must examine its civic plate. It possesses the oldest and most important and most beautiful specimen of municipal plate in England, a grand, massive silver-gilt cup of exquisite workmanship. It is called "King John's Cup," but it cannot be earlier than the reign of Edward III. In addition to this there is a superb sword of state of the time of Henry VIII, another cup, four silver maces, and other treasures. Moreover, the town had a famous goldsmiths' company, and several specimens of their handicraft remain. The defences of the town were sorely tried in the Civil War, when for three weeks it sustained the attacks of the rebels. The town was forced to surrender, and the poor folk were obliged to pay ten shillings a head, besides a month's pay to the soldiers, in order to save their homes from plunder. Lynn has many memories. It sheltered King John when fleeing from the revolting barons, and kept his treasures until he took them away and left them in a still more secure place buried in the sands of the Wash. It welcomed Queen Isabella during her retirement at Castle Rising, entertained Edward IV when he was hotly pursued by the Earl of Warwick, and has been worthy of its name as a loyal king's town.

Another walled town on the Norfolk coast attracts the attention of all who love the relics of ancient times, Great Yarmouth, with its wonderful record of triumphant industry and its associations with many great events in history. Henry III, recognizing the important strategical position of the town in 1260, granted a charter to the townsfolk empowering them to fortify the place with a wall and a moat, but more than a century elapsed before the fortifications were completed. This was partly owing to the Black Death, which left few men in Yarmouth to carry on the work. The walls were built of cut flint and Caen stone, and extended from the north-east tower in St. Nicholas Churchyard, called King Henry's Tower, to Blackfriars Tower at the south end, and from the same King Henry's Tower to the north-west tower on the bank of the Bure. Only a few years ago a large portion of this, north of Ramp Row, now called Rampart Road, was taken down, much to the regret of many. And here I may mention a grand movement which might be with advantage imitated in every historic town. A small private company has been formed called the "Great Yarmouth Historical Buildings, Limited." Its object is to acquire and preserve the relics of ancient Yarmouth. The founders deserve the highest praise for their public spirit and patriotism. How many cherished objects in Vanishing England might have been preserved if each town or county possessed such a valuable association! This Yarmouth society owns the remains of the cloisters of Grey Friars and other remains of ancient buildings. It is only to be regretted that it was not formed earlier. There were nine gates in the walls of the town, but none of them are left, and of the sixteen towers which protected the walls only a very few remain.

These walls guard much that is important. The ecclesiastical buildings are very fine, including the largest parish church in England, founded by the same Herbert de Losinga whose good work we saw at King's Lynn. The church of St. Nicholas has had many vicissitudes, and is now one of the finest in the country. It was in medieval times the church of a Benedictine Priory; a cell of the monastery at Norwich and the Priory Hall remains, and is now restored and used as a school. Royal guests have been entertained there, but part of the buildings were turned into cottages and the great hall into stables. As we have said, part of the Grey Friars Monastery remains, and also part of the house of the Augustine Friars. The Yarmouth rows are a great feature of the town. They are not like the Chester rows, but are long, narrow streets crossing the town from east to west, only six feet wide, and one row called Kitty-witches only measures at one end two feet three inches. It has been suggested that this plan of the town arose from the fishermen hanging out their nets to dry and leaving a narrow passage between each other's nets, and that in course of time these narrow passages became defined and were permanently retained. In former days rich merchants and traders lived in the houses that line these rows, and had large gardens behind their dwellings; and sometimes you can see relics of former greatness—a panelled room or a richly decorated ceiling. But the ancient glory of the rows is past, and the houses are occupied now by fishermen or labourers. These rows are so narrow that no ordinary vehicle could be driven along them. Hence there arose special Yarmouth carts about three and a half feet wide and twelve feet long with wheels underneath the body. Very brave and gallant have always been the fishermen of Yarmouth, not only in fighting the elements, but in defeating the enemies of England. History tells of many a sea-fight in which they did good service to their king and country. They gallantly helped to win the battle of Sluys, and sent forty-three ships and one thousand men to help with the siege of Calais in the time of Edward III. They captured and burned the town and harbour of Cherbourg in the time of Edward I, and performed many other acts of daring.

One of the most interesting houses in the town is the Tolhouse, the centre of the civic life of Yarmouth. It is said to be six hundred years old, having been erected in the time of Henry III, though some of the windows are decorated, but may have been inserted later. Here the customs or tolls were collected, and the Corporation held its meetings. There is a curious open external staircase leading to the first floor, where the great hall is situated. Under the hall is a gaol, a wretched prison wherein the miserable captives were chained to a beam that ran down the centre. Nothing in the town bears stronger witness to the industry and perseverance of the Yarmouth men than the harbour. They have scoured the sea for a thousand years to fill their nets with its spoil, and made their trade of world-wide fame, but their port speaks louder in their praise. Again and again has the fickle sea played havoc with their harbour, silting it up with sand and deserting the town as if in revenge for the harvest they reap from her. They have had to cut out no less than seven harbours in the course of the town's existence, and royally have they triumphed over all difficulties and made Yarmouth a great and prosperous port.

Near Yarmouth is the little port of Gorleston with its old jetty-head, of which we give an illustration. It was once the rival of Yarmouth. The old magnificent church of the Augustine Friars stood in this village and had a lofty, square, embattled tower which was a landmark to sailors. But the church was unroofed and despoiled at the Reformation, and its remains were pulled down in 1760, only a small portion of the tower remaining, and this fell a victim to a violent storm at the beginning of the last century. The grand parish church was much plundered at the Reformation, and left piteously bare by the despoilers.

The town, now incorporated with Yarmouth, has a proud boast:—

Gorleston was Gorleston ere Yarmouth begun, And will be Gorleston when Yarmouth is done.

Another leading East Anglian port in former days was the county town of Suffolk, Ipswich. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries ships from most of the countries of Western Europe disembarked their cargoes on its quays—wines from Spain, timber from Norway, cloth from Flanders, salt from France, and "mercerie" from Italy left its crowded wharves to be offered for sale in the narrow, busy streets of the borough. Stores of fish from Iceland, bales of wool, loads of untanned hides, as well as the varied agricultural produce of the district, were exposed twice in the week on the market stalls.[6] The learned editor of the Memorials of Old Suffolk, who knows the old town so well, tells us that the stalls of the numerous markets lay within a narrow limit of space near the principal churches of the town—St. Mary-le-Tower, St. Mildred, and St. Lawrence. The Tavern Street of to-day was the site of the flesh market or cowerye. A narrow street leading thence to the Tower Church was the Poultry, and Cooks' Row, Butter Market, Cheese and Fish markets were in the vicinity. The manufacture of leather was the leading industry of old Ipswich, and there was a goodly company of skinners, barkers, and tanners employed in the trade. Tavern Street had, as its name implies, many taverns, and was called the Vintry, from the large number of opulent vintners who carried on their trade with London and Bordeaux. Many of these men were not merely peaceful merchants, but fought with Edward III in his wars with France and were knighted for their feats of arms. Ipswich once boasted of a castle which was destroyed in Stephen's reign. In Saxon times it was fortified by a ditch and a rampart which were destroyed by the Danes, but the fortifications were renewed in the time of King John, when a wall was built round the town with four gates which took their names from the points of the compass. Portions of these remain to bear witness to the importance of this ancient town. We give views of an old building near the custom-house in College Street and Fore Street, examples of the narrow, tortuous thoroughfares which modern improvements have not swept away.

[6] Cf. Memorials of Suffolk, edited by V.B. Redstone.

We cannot give accounts of all the old fortified towns in England and can only make selections. We have alluded to the ancient walls of York. Few cities can rival it in interest and architectural beauty, its relics of Roman times, its stately and magnificent cathedral, the beautiful ruins of St. Mary's Abbey, the numerous churches exhibiting all the grandeur of the various styles of Gothic architecture, the old merchants' hall, and the quaint old narrow streets with gabled houses and widely projecting storeys. And then there is the varied history of the place dating from far-off Roman times. Not the least interesting feature of York are its gates and walls. Some parts of the walls are Roman, that curious thirteen-sided building called the multangular tower forming part of it, and also the lower part of the wall leading from this tower to Bootham Bar, the upper part being of later origin. These walls have witnessed much fighting, and the cannons in the Civil War during the siege in 1644 battered down some portions of them and sorely tried their hearts. But they have been kept in good preservation and repaired at times, and the part on the west of the Ouse is especially well preserved. You can see some Norman and Early English work, but the bulk of it belongs to Edwardian times, when York played a great part in the history of England, and King Edward I made it his capital during the war with Scotland, and all the great nobles of England sojourned there. Edward II spent much time there, and the minster saw the marriage of his son. These walls were often sorely needed to check the inroads of the Scots. After Bannockburn fifteen thousand of these northern warriors advanced to the gates of York. The four gates of the city are very remarkable. Micklegate Bar consists of a square tower built over a circular arch of Norman date with embattled turrets at the angles. On it the heads of traitors were formerly exposed. It bears on its front the arms of France as well as those of England.

Bootham Bar is the main entrance from the north, and has a Norman arch with later additions and turrets with narrow slits for the discharge of arrows. It saw the burning of the suburb of Bootham in 1265 and much bloodshed, when a mighty quarrel raged between the citizens and the monks of the Abbey of St. Mary owing to the abuse of the privilege of sanctuary possessed by the monastery. Monk Bar has nothing to do with monks. Its former name was Goodramgate, and after the Restoration it was changed to Monk Bar in honour of General Monk. The present structure was probably built in the fourteenth century. Walmgate Bar, a strong, formidable structure, was built in the reign of Edward I, and as we have said, it is the only gate that retains its curious barbican, originally built in the time of Edward III and rebuilt in 1648. The inner front of the gate has been altered from its original form in order to secure more accommodation within. The remains of the Clifford's Tower, which played an important part in the siege, tell of the destruction caused by the blowing up of the magazine in 1683, an event which had more the appearance of design than accident. York abounds with quaint houses and narrow streets. We give an illustration of the curious Melia's Passage; the origin of the name I am at a loss to conjecture.

Chester is, we believe, the only city in England which has retained the entire circuit of its walls complete. According to old unreliable legends, Marius, or Marcius, King of the British, grandson of Cymbeline, who began his reign A.D. 73, first surrounded Chester with a wall, a mysterious person who must be classed with Leon Gawr, or Vawr, a mighty strong giant who founded Chester, digging caverns in the rocks for habitations, and with the story of King Leir, who first made human habitations in the future city. Possibly there was here a British camp. It was certainly a Roman city, and has preserved the form and plan which the Romans were accustomed to affect; its four principal streets diverging at right angles from a common centre, and extending north, east, south, and west, and terminating in a gate, the other streets forming insulae as at Silchester. There is every reason to believe that the Romans surrounded the city with a wall. Its strength was often tried. Hither the Saxons came under Ethelfrith and pillaged the city, but left it to the Britons, who were not again dislodged until Egbert came in 828 and recovered it. The Danish pirates came here and were besieged by Alfred, who slew all within its walls. These walls were standing but ruinous when the noble daughter of Alfred, Ethelfleda, restored them in 907. A volume would be needed to give a full account of Chester's varied history, and our main concern is with the treasures that remain. The circumference of the walls is nearly two miles, and there are four principal gates besides posterns—the North, East, Bridge-gate, and Water-gate. The North Gate was in the charge of the citizens; the others were held by persons who had that office by serjeanty under the Earls of Chester, and were entitled to certain tolls, which, with the custody of the gates, were frequently purchased by the Corporation. The custody of the Bridge-gate belonged to the Raby family in the reign of Edward III. It had two round towers, on the westernmost of which was an octagonal water-tower. These were all taken down in 1710-81 and the gate rebuilt. The East Gate was given by Edward I to Henry Bradford, who was bound to find a crannoc and a bushel for measuring the salt that might be brought in. Needless to say, the old gate has vanished. It was of Roman architecture, and consisted of two arches formed by large stones. Between the tops of the arches, which were cased with Norman masonry, was the whole-length figure of a Roman soldier. This gate was a porta principalis, the termination of the great Watling Street that led from Dover through London to Chester. It was destroyed in 1768, and the present gate erected by Earl Grosvenor. The custody of the Water-gate belonged to the Earls of Derby. It also was destroyed, and the present arch erected in 1788. A new North Gate was built in 1809 by Robert, Earl Grosvenor. The principal postern-gates were Cale Yard Gate, made by the abbot and convent in the reign of Edward I as a passage to their kitchen garden; New-gate, formerly Woolfield or Wolf-gate, repaired in 1608, also called Pepper-gate;[7] and Ship-gate, or Hole-in-the-wall, which alone retains its Roman arch, and leads to a ferry across the Dee.

[7] The Chester folk have a proverb, "When the daughter is stolen, shut Pepper-gate"—referring to the well-known story of a daughter of a Mayor of Chester having made her escape with her lover through this gate, which he ordered to be closed, but too late to prevent the fugitives.

The walls are strengthened by round towers so placed as not to be beyond bowshot of each other, in order that their arrows might reach the enemy who should attempt to scale the walls in the intervals. At the north-east corner is Newton's Tower, better known as the Phoenix from a sculptured figure, the ensign of one of the city guilds, appearing over its door. From this tower Charles I saw the battle of Rowton Heath and the defeat of his troops during the famous siege of Chester. This was one of the most prolonged and deadly in the whole history of the Civil War. It would take many pages to describe the varied fortunes of the gallant Chester men, who were at length constrained to feed on horses, dogs, and cats. There is much in the city to delight the antiquary and the artist—the famous rows, the three-gabled old timber mansion of the Stanleys with its massive staircase, oaken floors, and panelled walls, built in 1591, Bishop Lloyd's house in Water-gate with its timber front sculptured with Scripture subjects, and God's Providence House with its motto "God's Providence is mine inheritance," the inhabitants of which are said to have escaped one of the terrible plagues that used to rage frequently in old Chester.

Journeying southwards we come to Shrewsbury, another walled town, abounding with delightful half-timbered houses, less spoiled than any town we know. It was never a Roman town, though six miles away, at Uriconium, the Romans had a flourishing city with a great basilica, baths, shops, and villas, and the usual accessories of luxury. Tradition says that its earliest Celtic name was Pengwern, where a British prince had his palace; but the town Scrobbesbyrig came into existence under Offa's rule in Mercia, and with the Normans came Roger de Montgomery, Shrewsbury's first Earl, and a castle and the stately abbey of SS. Peter and Paul. A little later the town took to itself walls, which were abundantly necessary on account of the constant inroads of the wild Welsh.

For the barbican's massy and high, Bloudie Jacke! And the oak-door is heavy and brown; And with iron it's plated and machicolated, To pour boiling oil and lead down; How you'd frown Should a ladle-full fall on your crown!

The rock that it stands on is steep, Bloudie Jacke! To gain it one's forced for to creep; The Portcullis is strong, and the Drawbridge is long, And the water runs all round the Keep; At a peep You can see that the moat's very deep!

So rhymed the author of the Ingoldsby Legends, when in his "Legend of Shropshire" he described the red stone fortress that towers over the loop of the Severn enclosing the picturesque old town of Shrewsbury. The castle, or rather its keep, for the outworks have disappeared, has been modernized past antiquarian value now. Memories of its importance as the key of the Northern Marches, and of the ancient custom of girding the knights of the shire with their swords by the sheriffs on the grass plot of its inner court, still remain. The town now stands on a peninsula girt by the Severn. On the high ground between the narrow neck stood the castle, and under its shelter most of the houses of the inhabitants. Around this was erected the first wall. The latest historian of Shrewsbury[8] tells us that it started from the gate of the castle, passed along the ridge at the back of Pride Hill, at the bottom of which it turned along the line of High Street, past St. Julian's Church which overhung it, to the top of Wyle Cop, when it followed the ridge back to the castle. Of the part extending from Pride Hill to Wyle Cop only scant traces exist at the back of more modern buildings.

[8] The Rev. T. Auden, Shrewsbury (Methuen and Co.).

The town continued to grow and more extensive defences were needed, and in the time of Henry III, Mr. Auden states that this followed the old line at the back of Pride Hill, but as the ground began to slope downwards, another wall branched from it in the direction of Roushill and extended to the Welsh Bridge. This became the main defence, leaving the old wall as an inner rampart. From the Welsh Bridge the new wall turned up Claremont Bank to where St. Chad's Church now stands, and where one of the original towers stood. Then it passed along Murivance, where the only existing tower is to be seen, and so along the still remaining portion of the wall to English Bridge, where it turned up the hill at the back of what is now Dogpole, and passing the Watergate, again joined the fortifications of the castle.[9] The castle itself was reconstructed by Prince Edward, the son of Henry III, at the end of the thirteenth century, and is of the Edwardian type of concentric castle. The Norman keep was incorporated within a larger circle of tower and wall, forming an inner bailey; besides this there was formerly an outer bailey, in which were various buildings, including the chapel of St. Nicholas. Only part of the buildings on one side of the inner bailey remains in its original form, but the massive character of the whole may be judged from the fragments now visible.

[9] Ibid., p. 48.

These walls guarded a noble town full of churches and monasteries, merchants' houses, guild halls, and much else. We will glance at the beauties that remain: St. Mary's, containing specimens of every style of architecture from Norman downward, with its curious foreign glass; St. Julian's, mainly rebuilt in 1748, though the old tower remains; St. Alkmund's; the Church of St. Chad; St. Giles's Church; and the nave and refectory pulpit of the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul. It is distressing to see this interesting gem of fourteenth-century architecture amid the incongruous surroundings of a coalyard. You can find considerable remains of the domestic buildings of the Grey Friars' Monastery near the footbridge across the Severn, and also of the home of the Austin Friars in a builder's yard at the end of Baker Street.

In many towns we find here and there an old half-timbered dwelling, but in Shrewsbury there is a surprising wealth of them—streets full of them, bearing such strange medieval names as "Mardel" or "Wyle Cop." Shrewsbury is second to no other town in England in the interest of its ancient domestic buildings. There is the gatehouse of the old Council House, bearing the date 1620, with its high gable and carved barge-boards, its panelled front, the square spaces between the upright and horizontal timbers being ornamented with cut timber. The old buildings of the famous Shrewsbury School are now used as a Free Library and Museum and abound in interest. The house remains in which Prince Rupert stayed during his sojourn in 1644, then owned by "Master Jones the lawyer," at the west end of St. Mary's Church, with its fine old staircase. Whitehall, a fine mansion of red sandstone, was built by Richard Prince, a lawyer, in 1578-82, "to his great chardge with fame to hym and hys posterite for ever." The Old Market Hall in the Renaissance style, with its mixture of debased Gothic and classic details, is worthy of study. Even in Shrewsbury we have to record the work of the demon of destruction. The erection of the New Market Hall entailed the disappearance of several old picturesque houses. Bellstone House, erected in 1582, is incorporated in the National Provincial Bank. The old mansion known as Vaughan's Place is swallowed up by the music-hall, though part of the ancient dwelling-place remains. St. Peter's Abbey Church in the commencement of the nineteenth century had an extraordinary annexe of timber and plaster, probably used at one time as parsonage house, which, with several buttressed remains of the adjacent conventual buildings, have long ago been squared up and "improved" out of existence. Rowley's mansion, in Hill's Lane, built of brick in 1618 by William Rowley, is now a warehouse. Butcher Row has some old houses with projecting storeys, including a fine specimen of a medieval shop. Some of the houses in Grope Lane lean together from opposite sides of the road, so that people in the highest storey can almost shake hands with their neighbours across the way. You can see the "Olde House" in which Mary Tudor is said to have stayed, and the mansion of the Owens, built in 1592 as an inscription tells us, and that of the Irelands, with its range of bow-windows, four storeys high, and terminating in gables, erected about 1579. The half-timbered hall of the Drapers' Guild, some old houses in Frankwell, including the inn with the quaint sign—the String of Horses, the ancient hostels—the Lion, famous in the coaching age, the Ship, and the Raven—Bennett's Hall, which was the mint when Shrewsbury played its part in the Civil War, and last, but not least, the house in Wyle Cop, one of the finest in the town, where Henry Earl of Richmond stayed on his way to Bosworth field to win the English Crown. Such are some of the beauties of old Shrewsbury which happily have not yet vanished.

Not far removed from Shrewsbury is Coventry, which at one time could boast of a city wall and a castle. In the reign of Richard II this wall was built, strengthened by towers. Leland, writing in the time of Henry VIII, states that the city was begun to be walled in when Edward II reigned, and that it had six gates, many fair towers, and streets well built with timber. Other writers speak of thirty-two towers and twelve gates. But few traces of these remain. The citizens of Coventry took an active part in the Civil War in favour of the Parliamentary army, and when Charles II came to the throne he ordered these defences to be demolished. The gates were left, but most of them have since been destroyed. Coventry is a city of fine old timber-framed fifteenth-century houses with gables and carved barge-boards and projecting storeys, though many of them are decayed and may not last many years. The city has had a fortunate immunity from serious fires. We give an illustration of one of the old Coventry streets called Spon Street, with its picturesque houses. These old streets are numerous, tortuous and irregular. One of the richest and most interesting examples of domestic architecture in England is St. Mary's Hall, erected in the time of Henry VI. Its origin is connected with ancient guilds of the city, and in it were stored their books and archives. The grotesquely carved roof, minstrels' gallery, armoury, state-chair, great painted window, and a fine specimen of fifteenth-century tapestry are interesting features of this famous hall, which furnishes a vivid idea of the manners and civic customs of the age when Coventry was the favourite resort of kings and princes. It has several fine churches, though the cathedral was levelled with the ground by that arch-destroyer Henry VIII. Coventry remains one of the most interesting towns in England.

One other walled town we will single out for especial notice in this chapter—the quaint, picturesque, peaceful, placid town of Rye on the Sussex coast. It was once wooed by the sea, which surrounded the rocky island on which it stands, but the fickle sea has retired and left it lonely on its hill with a long stretch of marshland between it and the waves. This must have taken place about the fifteenth century. Our illustration of a disused mooring-post (p. 24) is a symbol of the departed greatness of the town as a naval station. The River Rother connects it with the sea, and the few barges and humble craft and a few small shipbuilding yards remind it of its palmy days when it was a member of the Cinque Ports, a rich and prosperous town that sent forth its ships to fight the naval battles of England and win honour for Rye and St. George. During the French wars English vessels often visited French ports and towns along the coast and burned and pillaged them. The French sailors retaliated with equal zest, and many of our southern towns have suffered from fire and sword during those adventurous days.

Rye was strongly fortified by a wall with gates and towers and a fosse, but the defences suffered grievously from the attacks of the French, and the folk of Rye were obliged to send a moving petition to King Richard II, praying him "to have consideration of the poor town of Rye, inasmuch as it had been several times taken, and is unable further to repair the walls, wherefore the town is, on the sea-side, open to enemies." I am afraid that the King did not at once grant their petition, as two years later, in 1380, the French came again and set fire to the town. With the departure of the sea and the diminishing of the harbour, the population decreased and the prosperity of Rye declined. Refugees from France have on two notable occasions added to the number of its inhabitants. After the Massacre of St. Bartholomew seven hundred scared and frightened Protestants arrived at Rye and brought with them their industry, and later on, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, many Huguenots settled here and made it almost a French town. We need not record all the royal visits, the alarms of attack, the plagues, and other incidents that have diversified the life of Rye. We will glance at the relics that remain. The walls seem never to have recovered from the attack of the French, but one gate is standing—the Landgate on the north-east of the town, built in 1360, and consisting of a broad arch flanked by two massive towers with chambers above for archers and defenders. Formerly there were two other gates, but these have vanished save only the sculptured arms of the Cinque Ports that once adorned the Strand Gate. The Ypres tower is a memorial of the ancient strength of the town, and was originally built by William de Ypres, Earl of Kent, in the twelfth century, but has received later additions. It has a stern, gaunt appearance, and until recent times was used as a jail. The church possesses many points of unique interest. The builders began in the twelfth century to build the tower and transepts, which are Norman; then they proceeded with the nave, which is Transitional; and when they reached the choir, which is very large and fine, the style had merged into the Early English. Later windows were inserted in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The church has suffered with the town at the hands of the French invaders, who did much damage. The old clock, with its huge swinging pendulum, is curious. The church has a collection of old books, including some old Bibles, including a Vinegar and a Breeches Bible, and some stone cannon-balls, mementoes of the French invasion of 1448.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse