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Title: In Unfamiliar England

Author: Thos. D. Murphy

Release date: June 20, 2013 [eBook #42990]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Greg Bergquist, Paul clark and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Transcriber's Note:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including inconsistent hyphenation. Some changes have been made. They are listed at the end of the text.

Illustrations and maps have been moved.

Larger versions of the maps may be seen by clicking on the names of the countires in the captions.


Painted especially for the author by Daniel Sherrin.

Copyright, 1910
By L. C. Page & Company

All rights reserved

First Impression, January, 1910




It may seem that there is little excuse for a new book on English travel, since works covering the beaten path in the British Isles fairly teem from the press. But as a record of pilgrimages to the unfamiliar shrines and to the odd corners all over the United Kingdom this book may have its value. My reference to the tourist-frequented spots has been only incidental, and I think I can claim to have found much of interest not elsewhere described. And this I put forth as my chief excuse for adding one more to the already long list of British travel books.

But in my illustrations I have another, and perhaps to many a better, excuse for my venture on such well-trodden ground. I believe that few books of travel have come from the press that can justly claim a higher rank in this particular. The sixteen color plates reproduce the work of some of the most noted contemporary artists, and the duogravures are the most perfect English photographs—no country on earth surpasses England in photography—perfectly reproduced.

I trust that these features may give a real value to the book and make it acceptable to the large and increasing number of those readers and travelers abroad who are interested in the Motherland.

T. D. M.


  INDEX 391








Original Painting by Daniel Sherrin.

[Pg 1]

In Unfamiliar England


When Washington Irving made his first journey to England, he declared the three or four weeks on the ocean to be the best possible preparation for a visit to the mother country. The voyage, said he, was as a blank page in one’s existence, and the mind, by its utter severance from the busy world, was best fitted to receive impressions of a new and strange environment. And it was no doubt so in the slow ocean voyages of olden time; but today it is more as if one stayed within his palatial hotel for a few days, at no time losing touch with the civilized world. Every day of our passage the engines of our ocean greyhound reeled off distances—five or six hundred nautical miles—that Irving’s vessel would have required nearly a week to cover, and daily the condensed news of the world was flashed to us through the “viewless air.” Of all our modern miracles, certainly none would have been more difficult to predict than this—how like a sheer impossibility it would have seemed! Indeed, to such an extent has[Pg 2] modern science thrown its safeguards around the voyager that “those in peril on the sea” are rather less so than those on land, and the ocean liners make trips month after month and year after year without the loss of a single life. And with the disappearance of its mystery and terror, the sea has lost much of its romance. No longer does the bold buccaneer lie in wait for the treasure-laden galleons of Spain and the Netherlands; no longer may the picturesque pirate sail the seas unhindered in his quest for ill-gotten gold. Indeed, when one thinks of the capital and equipment a modern pirate on the high seas would require, there is no wonder that the good old trade is obsolete.

But the sea is still as beautiful in its thousand moods of clouds and sunshine, of storm and calm, as it ever was ere its distances were annihilated and its romance dispelled. Our voyage was nearly perfect; the water was smooth and the days mild and clear. From sunrise to sunset the great ship plowed her way through a sea of pale emerald flecked with frosted silver, and at night she swept along beneath a starlit sky. So favorable was her progress that early on the sixth day she paused in Plymouth harbor.

If in Washington Irving’s day the long sea voyage was the best preparation for enjoying the beauties of England, it is hardly so now. Be that as it[Pg 3] may, there is possibly nothing that could make one more keenly appreciate the joys of motoring than the run from Plymouth to London by the Great Western’s “train de luxe.” The grime and smoke that envelop everything about the train, the crash and shriek of the wheels, the trembling and groaning of the frail carriages hurled onward at a terrific speed, to say nothing of the never-to-be-forgotten service—does it deserve such a term—of the dining-car, will all seem like a nightmare when one glides along beneath the silvery English skies, through the untainted country air, and pauses for an excellent, cleanly served luncheon at some well-ordered wayside inn.

London itself is so vast, and so crowded are its environs with places that may well engage the attention of the tourist, that it would be hard to guess how much time one might devote with pleasure and profit to the teeming circle within twenty-five miles of Charing Cross. Many of the most charming spots about the metropolis have had scant mention in the literature of travel, and even now many of the ancient and picturesque villages are in process of metamorphosis. The steady encroachments of the great city have already transformed more than one retired hamlet into a suburban residence town, and historic landmarks have suffered not a little. The advent of the railroad, always hailed with joy[Pg 4] from a mere material standpoint, is often death to the atmosphere that attracts the painter and the poet. A run to Chorley Wood to visit the studio of a well-known English artist, one of whose pictures graces this book, brought to our minds with peculiar force the condition of things just outlined.

Chorley Wood but recently was one of the quaintest and most unspoiled of the Hertfordshire villages. Here stands the old King farmhouse where in 1672 William Penn married Gulilema Springett, whose graces and perfections have been so dwelt upon by the chroniclers. And there are other old and interesting structures, but crowding them closely and elbowing them out of existence are the more modern villas of Londoners whom the railroad has brought within easy reach of this pleasant spot. Not all of the newer houses were constructed with the consummate taste of that of our artist friend, whose studio-residence seemed entirely at home among the quaint old houses of the town. As usual with English houses, the garden side was most attractive, and a wide veranda—not a common thing in England—fronted on the well-kept lawn. From this there was a splendid view of the distant Hertfordshire landscape, which on this particular June day was glorious with such variations of green as can be seen only in England, broken here and there by the intense yellow of the gorse and fading[Pg 5] away into a blue haze that half hid the forest-covered hills in the distance. I could not help suggesting that this view itself would make a delightful picture, but the artist, who is noted for his fondness for low tones, demurred—the gorse was too harsh and jarring. So, after all, Dame Nature isn’t much of a colorist! She mingles the intensest greens and blues and dashes them with the fiercest of yellows!

It is not strange that Hertfordshire is favored by the artists, especially those whose success has been such as to enable them to maintain country homes. I had the pleasure of calling on another successful young painter in the adjacent village of Harpenden and on inquiring for his studio we were given the unique direction to “follow the road along the common until you come to a new house that looks like an old one.” And the description was apt, indeed, for we did not see elsewhere the half-timber frame-work with herring-bone masonry, the studded oak doors with monstrous, straggling wrought-iron hinges, the open beams, wide carved mantels, the mullioned windows with diamond panes set in iron casements—all reproduced with the perfect spirit of the Elizabethan builder.

Near by is Rickmansworth, an ancient and yet unspoiled town where Penn lived for five years after his marriage with “Guli,” as she was called. These years were largely occupied in writing theo[Pg 6]logical works and in public religious disputations. In fact, no name is more identified with Hertfordshire than Penn’s, its only rival being that of Francis Bacon. In later years Penn removed to Sussex, where he had inherited an estate, but his final resting-place is at Jordans, Hertfordshire.

We left Chorley Wood through meandering byways, and threading our way among the Burnham beeches, soon came into the main Oxford road. It would be difficult, indeed, to describe the sylvan loveliness of the country through which we passed. The great trees overarched the narrow winding lanes, which were bordered with tall ferns in places, and often a clear rivulet ran alongside. The somber yew, the stately oak and the graceful birches were interspersed here with a bit of lawn and there with a tangle of flowering shrubs. Out of this we came into the main road, broad and white, and teeming with vehicles—the first hint that London with its ceaseless turmoil is only twenty miles away.

Farther on the road toward the city we came to Uxbridge, another town where the new is crowding the old. Fortunately, the famous Treaty Inn has escaped. Here the emissaries of Charles I. met the representatives of Parliament in a vain effort to compromise the dispute that had plunged the nation into civil war. The room where the commissioners met, with its paneling reaching to the ceiling and its[Pg 7] wealth of antique carving, is little changed, though it has been divided by a partition into a writing- and a dining-room. The excellent luncheon served was one of the surprises often met in these dilapidated and often unprepossessing old hostelries. In the time of the Parliamentary unpleasantness, this hotel was known as the “Crown,” and among its relics is an immense crown of solid oak weighing two or three hundred pounds, which was engaging the attention of an English party, one of whom ironically asked if this were the identical crown worn by Charles at the council. “Indeed it was,” replied another humorist in the party, “and thus originated the expression, ‘Uneasy lies the head which wears a crown.’”

Near Uxbridge, but lying a quarter of a mile off the main road, is the village of Denham. Here we came one fine Sunday afternoon, following the recommendation of an English friend. The village has no historic attraction and no famous man’s name has ever been associated with it. Neither has it mention in the books. Yet Denham is a delight—a sequestered little place nestling under a group of towering trees just far enough from the highroad to miss the dust and noise. The ancient half-timbered houses which border the street are redolent with the spirit of old-time England. The fine unrestored old church stands at the head of the street and the[Pg 8] churchyard about it shows evidence of painstaking care. What a delight, it seemed to us, it would be to live in Denham—at least in English June time. One would have rural quiet, even somnolence, and might lie for hours on the turf under the great trees, meditating and looking at the sky; and if he should weary of so secluded and eventless a life, London, with all its mystery and charm, is less than an hour away—London, the most fascinating city in the world, despite its preponderance of bad weather and its world-famed fogs.

Charles Lamb delighted in Hertfordshire and spent much of his time at the Four Swans Inn at Waltham, a quaint old building just opposite Waltham Cross. We made several pilgrimages here; nor did the abbey grow less interesting upon repeated visits. From here it is only a little distance to St. Albans, a city proud of its great cathedral, whose hoary tower dominates the town. Quite different from the ordinary caretaker was the young clergyman, whose refined, classic face bespoke his intelligence and who showed us every detail of the great church, dwelling upon its many ancient and often unique features. Nor did he omit to call our attention to an epitaph of a very frank citizen of St. Albans, who, after sleeping three hundred years under the marble slab in the nave, still complains of his unhappy fate:

[Pg 9]

“Great was my grief—I could not rest;
God called me hence—He thought it best.
Unhappy marriage was my fate—
I did repent when ’twas too late.”

St. Albans is rich in antiquities. Indeed, you can still trace fragments of the Roman wall which surrounded the place when Albanus met his fate, and down near the river at the foot of cathedral hill is another “oldest house” in England. It is a quaint round structure, built, they say, more than a thousand years ago as a fishing-lodge for the monks, for it stands hard by a lakelike dam in the river. But today it has degenerated into a public house, and the broad-shouldered, black-bearded Irishman who kept the bar was well posted on St. Albans’ antiquities. He showed us the little house and garden and pointed out the Roman earthworks. Nor did he seem in the least disappointed that our patronage was limited to a few post card pictures, and, strange to say, he declined a gratuity. We returned to the George Inn, which enjoyed great prosperity in the coaching days, being on the main road to Holyhead. For four hundred years it had cheered the passing guest and its excellent dinner belied its generally dilapidated appearance. Its proprietors were just removing to the new and pretentious Red Lion over the way, but we did not learn whether this meant the final abandonment of the George.

[Pg 10]

It was with some difficulty that we located Rye House, which we supposed to be within Broxborne, but which really lies on a byroad two or three miles away. Though in a more or less secluded location, it is apparently the goal of innumerable pilgrims on gala days in the summer, especially Sundays. On the day of our arrival, the grounds were quite deserted and an appropriate quietude hovered over the old manor. Alas, though, we found it shorn of much of its picturesqueness, for it had fallen into the clutches of a large brewer, who was using it as an adjunct to dispose of his product—in fact, the mansion and its beautiful grounds have become little else than a summer beer garden.

Rye House figures in history as the seat of a plot, which contemporaries describe as “horrid,” to kill King Charles II. as he returned from a race meeting in Newmarket in 1683. Unfortunately, perhaps, the plot failed, owing to the king’s return a week earlier than expected, and there was no telephone to advise the Rye House assassins of the change of plan. A penny guide-book gives what purports to be the history of the crime, though I fear most of the romantic features are mythical. It relates how Ruth, the daughter of Rumsey, who devised the plot, listened at the door and learned the plan of the conspirators. Between her father and the king this devoted maiden never hesitated a min[Pg 11]ute, but hustled her lover away to Newmarket to warn Charles of his impending danger. After great difficulty the youth gained an audience with the king, and it is recorded that Charles only laughed at his story. Here, at least, is a touch of probability—Charles laughed at everything. Finding himself discredited, the lover became desperate; in his loyal zeal “he secretly set fire to the house in which the king resided in two or three places.” Our chronicler, having thus unceremoniously ousted his royal majesty from his comfortable quarters, has him proceed “in disguise” to London, stopping at Rye House, where he confronted and confounded his enemies and bestowed “substantial marks of his favor” upon Ruth Rumsey and her lover. What these substantial marks were our chronicler declareth not—better left to the imagination, anyway, for it would be far more in keeping with the character of Charles to say that he promised substantial marks of his favor and forgot all about it.

So much for Rye House legend. The facts are that the conspirators were apprehended and executed, and quite in accordance with his usual practices, the king made the circumstance an excuse for the removal of numerous of his enemies among the nobility who had nothing whatever to do with the plot. However, Rye House is quiet enough today and its only plots are the innocuous ones hatched[Pg 12] over pots of beer in the minds of the trippers who throng it on Sundays and holidays.

The conspirators did not meet at the inn itself, but in the castellated manor house just across the byroad. Of this only a fragment remains, but fortunately this fragment contains the “conspirators’ room,” as might be expected. The enterprising brewer has put this in good repair and has placed on view a number of relics of greater or less degree of merit. Among these is a pair of stupendous jack-boots, which our voluble guide assured us were the “hidentical boots what Holiver Cromwell wore” during a battle in which, as usual, he worsted the Royalists; but the placard above the relics was more modest in its claims, for it only stated that the boots were found on the battlefield. However, if the redoubtable “Holiver” wore these boots or anything like unto them when he met the enemy, one phase of his career may be accounted for—why he never ran away. Among the other curiosities with a real interest is the “Great Bed of Ware,” so famous in its day that Shakespeare immortalized it in his “Twelfth Night.” It is certainly a marvelous creation, some sixteen feet square, with enormous carved posts supporting an imposing canopy. Our guide asserted that in its early days no fewer than twenty-four men had slept in it at one time, and recited, in painful detail, the history of the bed. We[Pg 13] inconsiderately interrupted him in the midst of his declamation and he had to start all over again, to his manifest annoyance. Even then he failed to finish, for the shadows were lengthening, and terminating his flow of eloquence with a shilling or two, we were soon speeding swiftly over the beautiful Chigwell road to London.

[Pg 14]


Despite the fascination that London always has and the fact that one could scarcely exhaust her attractions in years, it was with impatience that we endured the delay imposed by business matters and preparations for a period of two months or more on the road. We were impatient, surely, or we should hardly have left our hotel at six o’clock in the evening, in the face of a driving rain. Ordinarily, two or three hours would have brought us to Cambridge, only fifty miles away; but we could not depend on this with the caution necessary on the slippery streets in getting out of London.

Once clear of the city there was little to hamper us on the fine Cambridge road and we counted on easily reaching the university town before lamplighting. The rain had nearly ceased, but the downpour had been tremendous, and in three successive valleys we forded floods, each one deeper than the preceding. Almost before we knew it—for in the gas lamps’ glare the rain-soaked road looked little different from the yellow water—we were axle-deep in a fourth torrent and were deluged with a dirty[Pg 15] spray from the engine fly-wheel. Manifestly we were not to reach Cambridge that night and we reluctantly turned about to seek shelter somewhere else.

It was only a little way to the village of Buntingford, where we found clean though very unpretentious and not altogether comfortable accommodations at the George, a rambling old relic of coaching days. Our late dinner was fair and our rooms good-sized and neat, though dimly lit with tallow candles; but the ancient feather beds, our greatest terror in the smaller and a few of the larger towns, caused a well-nigh sleepless night. Morning revealed a little straggling gray-stone and slate village, unchanged to all appearances from the days of the coach-and-four. Our inn was a weather-beaten structure, and its facilities for dispensing liquor appeared by odds greater than its accommodation for non-bibulous travelers. Still, it was clean and homelike, in spots at least, and our hostess, who personally looked after our needs, was all kindness and sympathetic attention. Altogether, we had little complaint to lodge against the George, though greatly different from the really admirable University Arms at Cambridge, where we had planned to stop. We were early on the road, from which nearly all trace of the floods of the previous evening had vanished, and before long we were threading the familiar streets of Cam[Pg 16]bridge, where everything appeared to be in a bustle of preparation—at least so far as such a state of affairs could be in a staid English town—for the closing of the University year on the following week.

There is no finer road in England than that leading from Cambridge to Newmarket. It is nearly level, and having been newly surfaced with yellow gravel, it stretches before us like a long golden ribbon in the sunshine. It leads through wide meadow-lands and at times runs straight away as an arrow’s flight—truly a tempting highway for the light-footed motor car.

Beyond Newmarket the road to Bury St. Edmunds is quite as fine, and no doubt this splendid highway is largely responsible for the intense antipathy to the motor car in the former town. However, one would hardly expect Newmarket to be wildly enthusiastic over the horseless carriage, for this ancient burg contests with Epsom for the position of chief horse-racing town in England—a proud distinction it had held for some centuries before the motor snorted through its streets. Another cause for the grief of the townsmen was the complaint of owners of high-bred horses that the motors jarred upon the nerves of the spirited animals to their great detriment, and naturally enough the citizens sympathized with their patron saint, the horse, against his petrol-driven rival. And thus it was that[Pg 17] when we entered Newmarket we were met by the Motor Union scout, who cautioned us to observe rigidly the ten-mile limit or we would more than likely share the fate of a half dozen of our brethren the day before—a journey to police headquarters. Two months afterwards, when we again passed through the town, the war was still on, and it was some months later that I read in the daily papers that after great bitterness on both sides a truce had finally been reached.

Despite its unfriendliness toward our ilk, we must admit that Newmarket is quite a modern-looking town, clean and attractive, with many fine buildings and excellent hotels. It lies in the midst of wide meadow-lands, much used for horseback sports such as polo and racing. Royal visits, so dear to the average Britisher, are a frequent event, and here it is that the King, usually in some new style of hat or cut of trousers, appears, to set the world of fashion agog.

Well clear of Newmarket and its birds of prey, the most glorious of roads brought us quickly into the fine old town of Bury St. Edmunds—and none other in East Anglia has been celebrated by greater pens; for Charles Dickens and Thomas Carlyle sojourned at Bury and left us vigorous records of their impressions. The former set them down in the story of the trials and wanderings of Mr. Pick[Pg 18]wick, and that honest old gentleman’s comment on the town and its famous Angel Inn was altogether commendatory. It was later—in 1878—when Carlyle visited Bury, and the description he gave it then is quite applicable today. He saw “a prosperous, brisk town looking out right pleasantly from the hill-slope toward the rising sun, and on the eastern edge still runs, long, black and massive, a maze of monastic ruins.” The “Angel” we found still deserving of the encomiums bestowed by Mr. Pickwick, a delightfully clean and quiet old inn fronting directly on the abbey gardens and presided over by a suave and very accommodating landlord. We were given spacious and well-lighted quarters—we may dwell on “well-lighted,” since we could hardly apply this description, so far as artificial light is concerned, to more than two or three of the hundreds of hotels we visited.

The most impressive feature of the abbey ruin is the massive square tower of the gateway, which stands intact, its ancient state almost undiminished. The abbey has a long history, for Edmund, King of East Anglia, was slain near at hand by the Danes in 870—legend says because he refused to abjure Christianity, and it was this that won his canonization as St. Edmund. To the time of the Dissolution the abbey was by far the greatest in East Anglia, and its ruins, though fragmentary, are quite suf[Pg 19]ficient to indicate its once vast extent. Near by stand the churches of St. James and St. Mary’s, both rather ill-proportioned for lack of towers—a deficiency due, it is said, to the old-time abbots’ fear that if these churches should be thus ornamented they would overshadow the abbey church, now entirely vanished. Good authorities state that St. Mary’s has the finest open roof in England. It is supported on slender columns and covers a well-proportioned nave. In the church is the tomb of Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. and wife first of Louis XII. of France and afterwards of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.

There is not much of historic interest in Bury aside from its abbey and churches. One may occupy a pleasant hour or two in walking about the town, which, despite its antiquity, has a prosperous and up-to-date appearance. Twice in the course of our rambles we visited it and on both occasions our route led to Ipswich, though over different roads—first due south through Lavenham and Hadleigh and later by the way of Stowmarket. The former route is mainly through the retired Suffolk byways, not in the best condition, but bordered by charming country. Nowhere did we see a more delightful brick-and-timber house than the old manor at Brent Eleigh, though it has degenerated into a mere farm tenement rather better cared for than usual. What a[Pg 20] world of quaint and ancient beauty there is in its many red-tiled gables surmounted by great clustered chimneys, its double mullioned windows and its black-oak and red-brick walls, splashed here and there with clinging masses of ivy. Our illustration only half tells the story, for it does not give the color or the most picturesque view of the house. We also came across Bildeston, a little out-of-the-way hamlet lost in the hills, which has many old houses not as yet fallen into the clutches of the restorer. This is also true of Hadleigh, a little farther on the road, which is rich in seventeenth century houses with fronts of ornamental plaster and carved oaken beams. Among the very oddest of these is the guildhall, standing quite apart in a graveyard thickly set with weather-worn headstones.


We reached Ipswich after a half day of slow progress, for signboards were often missing and the winding lanes bordered by high hedges made cautious driving imperative. Later we followed the road by Stowmarket, a much easier though less interesting route. Stowmarket, aside from its old-world streets and its huge church with an odd wooden spire, had nothing to detain us, for one would hardly care to linger at the gun-cotton factory, which is the most distinctive feature of the village.

Little provision was made by the burghers who centuries ago platted the streets of Ipswich, for the[Pg 21] coming of the motor or electric tram, and it was with difficulty that our car was able to thread its way through the narrow, crowded main street. It goes without saying that the objective of the pilgrim on entering the city will be the Great White Horse, the scene of some of Mr. Pickwick’s most noted adventures, nor are we deterred by any recollection of his decidedly unpleasant experiences with the inn people. Like many of the incidents in his writings, it was the personal experience of Dickens that called forth the rather uncomplimentary remarks set down against the ancient hostelry; but the very fact that Charles Dickens had stopped there and written—no matter what—of the Great White Horse—is that not enough? And we could not forget if we wished that an exact replica of the Great White Horse was exhibited at the Chicago Fair as typical of the old-time English inn, for the fact is blazoned forth by a large placard in the hall. We were offered the spacious room, with its imposing, tall-posted beds, traditionally occupied by Mr. Pickwick. The Great White Horse, like many other institutions that felt the scourge of the caustic pen of Dickens, has changed; no better ordered, more comfortable and attentive hostelry did we find elsewhere, and we felt that it had outlived the bad reputation the great author gave it, even as America lived down the bitter scourging[Pg 22] of the “American Notes,” beneath which our fellow-countrymen writhed at the time. And perhaps we still think of the “Notes” and “Martin Chuzzlewit” with a twinge of bitterness, forgetting that the ridicule which Dickens indulged in concerning America was hardly comparable to the sharp castigations he administered to his own countrymen. His work was productive of good in both countries, and most of the evils he so scathingly rebuked no longer exist.

Ipswich, though a city of some seventy thousand people and of considerable activity, is by no means shorn of its old-time interest and picturesqueness. There are many crooked old-world streets where the soft, time-mellowed tones of the gray walls and antique gables are diversified by carved beams, plaster fronts and diamond-paned windows, each of which has its box of brightly colored flowers. The most notable of the old houses and one of the noblest specimens of Tudor architecture in the Kingdom is “Ye Ancient House,” with its odd dormer windows and richly decorated plaster front, situated near the Butter Market. The interior, now occupied by a bookshop and public library, is as unique and pleasing as the outside. There are paneled rooms, odd passages and corners, and a very quaint though rude chapel directly beneath the heavy arched timber roof. Of course such a striking old house must[Pg 23] have its legend of royalty, and tradition has it that Charles II. was hidden in the chapel when seeking passage to France after the battle of Worcester.

But the charm of Ipswich may serve no longer as an excuse to linger. We bid regretful farewell to the Great White Horse and are soon following the King’s highway to the northward. It was a lowering day, with frequent dashes of rain and glints of sun breaking from a sky as blue as one may see in our own prairie states in June time. The road is winding and hilly for East Anglia, which is so generally level, but it passes through a fine country with many retired, old-world villages. Lowestoft we find another of the numerous seaside resorts that dot the southeastern coast. It has figured little in history and doubtless the most notable event in its career was its prompt surrender to Colonel Cromwell in 1642.

It was gray and chilly when we entered Great Yarmouth, where we found a leaden-colored ocean thundering on the finest beach in the Kingdom. Yarmouth is popular as a resort town, though more widely known for its fisheries. Its characteristic feature is its “rows,” a series of very narrow alleys, mostly bordered with shops and opening into the main street, forming, as Dickens puts it, “one vast gridiron of which the bars are represented by the rows.” And one will notice that Dickens is much in evidence in East Anglia. Who can ever forget[Pg 24] the freshness of the description of Yarmouth in “David Copperfield”? The hotels, as might be expected, are many, and some of them excellent; nowhere did we have better service than at the Victoria, though cheapness is not one of its attractions.

Historic ruins, as a rule, are now carefully maintained in England and often made a feature of parks and pleasure grounds. But there are exceptions, where the onslaughts of decay are not withstood and where, unhindered, green ruin creeps steadily on. Such we found Caister Castle, four miles to the north of Yarmouth. We were attracted by its imposing appearance at some distance from the main road, and the byway into which we turned led into an ill-kept farmyard. Here stands the impressive ruin, with the stagnant waters of its old-time moat still surrounding the towering keep and shattered walls. It was quite deserted, apparently serving the neighboring farmer as a hen-roost. We learned little of its history, but the mystery, due to our very ignorance, together with the sad abandon of Caister Castle, makes it appeal to our imagination more strongly than many a well-cared-for ruin whose story has become commonplace.

A broad, level road leads to Norwich and we ran through the flat fen country, dotted here and there with the Norfolk Broads. These pretty inland lakes lay dull and motionless under a leaden sky, but[Pg 25] we could imagine them very picturesque on bright days, rippling in the sun and gleaming with white sails. The hour was late, but our flight was a rapid one, soon bringing us to the East Anglian metropolis, where we forthwith sought the Maid’s Head Hotel.

On the following morning we set out to explore the northern coast of Norfolk and our route led us through many byways and over much bad road. The day was clear and cool and the fine level country was in the full glory of June verdure. Everything seemed to indicate that the East Anglian farmer is contented and prosperous in the small way that prosperity comes to the common people of England. The countryside had a well-groomed appearance and the houses were better than the average. We proceeded almost due north to Mundesley, a mean, bleak little coast town with a single crooked street, its straggling cottages contrasting sharply with the palatial hotel in the midst of lawns and gardens on the hill overlooking the sea.

Eastward from Mundesley we ran directly along the ocean, which is visible most of the time; the road is stony and steep in places—altogether the worst we had yet traversed. The coast country is decidedly different from the fertile and pleasant fields of the interior. It is bleak and drab-colored; there are vast stretches of sand dunes bordered with stony hills whose dull colorings are relieved by patches of[Pg 26] yellow gorse and groups of stunted trees. The villages are in keeping with the country. The houses are of gray stone and broken flints and roofed with slate or dull-red tiles; the lines are square and harsh and there are no touches of ornament. Even the numerous churches partake of these characteristics; they are huge in bulk, with little or no attempt at artistic effect, often crowning some hilltop and looking as if they had defied the wild sea winds for ages. One we especially noted, standing quite apart on a hill overlooking the ocean—a vast weather-worn church with a square-topped tower in front and a queer little minaret to the rear—altogether an imposing and unusual structure. It completely dominates the poverty-stricken country and the mean little villages, the nearest of which is a half-mile away.

The principal resource of the towns of the north Norfolk coast is resort hotels and boarding-houses. We saw them without number at Mundesley, Hunstanton, Cromer, Well-Next-the-Sea, and at solitary points along the road. The fine beach in many places, the rough but picturesque country and the unusual quiet of the surroundings no doubt prove attractive to many seeking rest. At Wells-Next-the-Sea we were glad indeed to forsake the wretched coast road for the broad white highway that leads by the way of Fakenham to Norwich.

A few miles out of Norwich on the Newmar[Pg 27]ket road is Wymondham, noted for its odd timber cross and its ancient priory church with octagonal towers, which give it, from a distance, a rather unchurchlike appearance. The extent of the ruins still remaining is sufficient evidence that at one time Wymondham Priory was of no little importance. Most remarkable is the open roof, the oaken timbers of which were removed at the Dissolution, and after being stored away for ages, were again put in place at the recent restoration. The caretaker showed us about with the pride so common to his calling; but he heaved a sigh as he pointed out many costly features of restoration, such as the great screen, the massive bronze chandeliers and many elaborate carvings and furnishings.

“Ah, sir,” he said, “these were all donated by the late vicar; he carried out and paid for a large part of the restoration—but he’s gone now!”

“Dead?” we sympathetically asked.

“No, indeed! It was all the fault of his landlady, who became displeased with him somehow and gave him notice.”

“Trouble about the rent?” we suggested.

“Not a bit of it,” was the indignant reply. [Pg 28]“The rent was nothing to him. He is the youngest brother of the Duke of W——, and is very wealthy, with a large following. There is only one house to let in the parish that could accommodate him at all; and so he had to leave; yes, he had to leave, for one day he says to me, ‘Did you ever hear of a minister getting the sack?’ And he told me how badly his landlady had treated him and that he had to go. It was a sad day for Wymondham, sir. He had spent ten times his salary on the church and there were many other things he was about to do.”

“How much is the salary?” we asked.

“Six hundred pounds. It is a large parish, covering thirty-five square miles.”

We gave the old man his expected fee and thought it strange to learn of a minister who had restored a great church from his private fortune and then had to give up his charge because there was only one available house to accommodate him and he couldn’t have that. Surely the captious landlady must be execrated by the good members of the Priory Church of Wymondham.


It may seem a far cry from Wymondham, with its ecclesiastical traditions, to Thetford, the birthplace of that arch-heretic, Thomas Paine; yet it is only a few miles over the finest of roads. The village still preserves its old-world atmosphere and the house where Paine was born still stands, and is frequented, we learned, by many pilgrims. The old Bell Inn, the oddest of hostelries, looked cozy and restful, though we did not seek its hospitality. We hastened onward, leaving the Newmarket high[Pg 29]way for Mildenhall, a quiet, unprogressive little village with an interesting manor house. This we did not see after all, for it chanced that it was closed during preparations for an open-air Shakespearean play in the park that afternoon. We paused in the market square and were accosted by a friendly disposed native who thought us at a loss for the road. We thanked him and asked him what there might be of interest in Mildenhall. He scratched his head reflectively and finally said:

“Nothin, sir! Hi ’ave lived in Mildenhall for forty years and never saw anything of hinterest.”

Discouraging, indeed! but we dissented, for there is much in the little town to please one in whom familiarity has not bred contempt. The huge, rambling Bell Inn seemed wonderfully attractive, though quite out of proportion to the village at present. Facing the inn is the church, remarkable for its Early English windows and fine open hammer-beam, carved-oak roof, supported from corbels of angel figures with extended wings. Quite as unusual is the hexagonal market cross, built of heavy oak timbers, gracefully carved, which support the leaden roof. Besides these ancient landmarks, there is much else pleasing in Mildenhall. The thatched cottages, brilliant flower gardens and narrow streets, all combine to make it a snug, charming place where one might quite forget the workaday world without.

[Pg 30]

Later in our wanderings we made another incursion into East Anglia, and retraced our route over many of its fine highways. We paused at Colchester and sought out some of the odd corners we missed before. On leaving the old city we wandered from the London road into quiet byways in search of Layer Marney, of whose stupendous ruined towers we had read years ago. After no end of inquiry, we came in sight of these, only to learn that the ruin had been incorporated into a modern mansion by a London gentleman and was no longer accessible to visitors. Still, we were able to come quite close and found work still in progress—a number of men laying out formal gardens about the house. The interest centers in the gate towers built four hundred years ago by Lord Marney, who planned to erect a mansion to correspond with his exalted station. But his unfinished work stands as a monument to his blighted hopes, for he died before his task was well begun and his only son followed him a year later. The structure is strikingly original in style; the entrance flanked by great octagonal towers eight stories high, with two immense windows—a network of stone mullions—just above the gateway. It was one of the earliest buildings since Roman times to be constructed of brick, and most unusual are the terra cotta moldings, which have a classic touch, due to Italian workmen brought to England by Lord Marney.


[Pg 31]

The little church near by, of earlier date than the towers, is also built of brick and has so far escaped the ravages of the restorer. It has three black marble tombs of old-time Marneys and one of these must be older than the church, for it bears the mail-clad effigy of a crusader who died in 1414. The interior has scarcely been altered in the four hundred years of its existence; and we hardly saw another to match it in genuine spirit of the olden time. The roof of the nave had been repaired out of sheer necessity, but the dark, sagging beams of the chapel had never been molested. Over the door a black letter inscription, with initial and decorations in still brilliant red, is devoted to a scathing denunciation of “ye riche,” so fierce as to seem almost modern. Perhaps the Marneys viewed it with the more complacency from the fact that their worldly possessions hardly accorded with their high station. One of the oddest features of the interior is the carved oaken effigies of four little monkeys perched on tall posts at either end of the family pews, and an ape is shown on the Marney arms. All because, tradition declares, a pet monkey snatched a prehistoric Marney while an infant from a burning mansion and lost its life to save the child.

[Pg 32]


It was not easy to get rooms at the University Arms, even though we had applied the week before. It was the close of the university year, for which event, the manageress assured us, many people had engaged rooms a full year in advance. We were late applicants, to be sure. However, we had the advantage of a previous acquaintance—a thing that counts for much in the English hotel—and, since nowhere else would do, we were soon comfortably established at the University Arms.

A stop of a day or two gives us the opportunity of seeing much of the gala life of the town, including the hotly contested boat races on the Cam. There are many events not directly connected with the university, among them the cart-horse parade, which includes hundreds of gaily decked work-horses, splendid fellows, and it is doubtful if any American town of twice the size of Cambridge could make anything like such a showing, all points of equine excellence considered. One sees very few poor-looking horses in England, anyway—outside of[Pg 33] London. But what have we to do with horses? We are again on the road at the earliest opportunity, following the splendid highway to Huntingdon. The countryside through which we pass is crowded with memories of the Great Protector, but we shall give it no place in this chronicle of unfamiliar England.

The old Bell Inn at Stilton, on the Great North Road fourteen miles above Huntingdon, will arrest the attention of any one who has learned to discriminate. It is a relic of the time when this road was one of the busiest in all England—the coaching traffic between London, York and Edinburgh plying over it. The inn fronts directly on the street—a long, rambling building, with many gables, stone-mullioned windows and huge, square, clustered chimneys. It is built of sandstone, weatherworn to a soft, yellowish brown, and once rich in mouldings and carvings which are now barely discernible. Now only about half of the house is occupied and the stables have fallen in ruin. The village of Stilton is one of the sleepiest and most rural type. What a contrast the good old days must have presented when six and thirty coaches-and-four pulled up daily at the Bell and its hostlers led nearly one hundred horses to its capacious stables!

We saw much of rural England in threading our way from Stilton through a maze of narrow by[Pg 34]roads to Oundle, which caught our eye as one of the quaintest of the old-world inland villages. Many are the pleasant vistas down its streets, each with its array of buildings in soft-gray and red tones, the sagging roofs surmounted by odd gables and huge chimneys. But most interesting are the old inns, the Turk’s Head and the Talbot. The first is an imposing Jacobean structure with many gables and deep-set stone-mullioned windows. The Talbot is quite as fine in exterior, and though we could not remain as guests, the landlord apparently took pleasure in showing us about, manifesting a genuine pride in his establishment, which was further evidenced by its well-kept appearance. Even the court was flower-bordered and there was a flourishing greenhouse. Inside there are rooms with much antique paneling and solid oaken beams which support the ceilings. But most notable are the relics of Fotheringhay Castle incorporated into the Talbot. The winding black-oak staircase is the one which Mary descended on the mournful morning of her execution, and among the mullioned casement windows are doubtless some through which the fair captive often gazed during the long, weary days of her imprisonment.


There are few places in the average village where the tourist can gain local information so easily as at a picture postcard shop. The keeper is sure[Pg 35] to call your attention to everything of interest and is equally sure to be well posted on the history and traditions of the locality. Such a shop we found at Oundle, and the pictures of Deane House and Church and Kirby Hall soon engaged our attention. “Do not miss them,” said the genial shopkeeper, and he gave us accurate directions as to the roads—not easy to follow from the confusing streets of Oundle into another tangle of byways.

Deane House, the fine Tudor residence of the Earls of Cardigan, is a few miles to the northwest. It is not shown to visitors, but its battlemented towers, odd turrets and heavily buttressed walls are plainly visible from the road. Near it stands Deane Church, whose fine open-timbered roof is supported by slender oaken columns—quite unusual, indeed. There is a beautiful sixteenth century tomb, its details almost perfect, with the effigies of the first earl and his two wives placed impartially on either side. But nowhere else did we see an altar-tomb so chaste and artistic as that erected to the late earl, who died in 1868. It is wrought in purest alabaster, and beside the figure of the earl, represented as a tall, handsome man in full military dress, is the effigy of his widow, not interred with her husband as yet, but living at the age of eighty-four. Evidently the lady desires that future ages shall remember her at her best, for the effigy represents a transcendently[Pg 36] beautiful young woman of about twenty, lying calmly in sleep, her head resting on a gracefully rounded arm and her face turned toward her mate. Every detail is delicately and correctly done and the whole work is redolent of beauty and sentiment. Will it ever see such cataclysms as swept over its companion tomb? May no iconoclastic vandal ever shatter those slenderly wrought hands or carve his churlish name on the stately figure of the earl—and yet how often such desecrations have occurred in England in the not very distant past!

“There are absolutely no restrictions on visitors at Kirby Hall,” we were informed at Oundle, and it might have been added that no effort is made to direct one thither. We passed unwittingly and were compelled to turn about to find the common-looking farm gate that opened through the hedgerow into the rough, stone-strewn bit of road leading to the dismantled palace. So uninviting was the neglected lane that two or three English motorists who arrived about the same time left their cars and walked the mile or so to the Hall. It was not our wont to be so cautious, and we drove directly to the stately though crumbling gateway. As we rounded a group of trees and caught a full view of the splendid facade of Kirby Hall, we could not repress an exclamation of surprise. Beautiful and imposing, indeed, despite long years of neglect and decay, is this mag[Pg 37]nificent Tudor mansion! It is built of white stone, its long walls pierced by a multitude of graceful windows and surmounted by great grouped chimneys and richly carved and pinnacled gables. Passing the imposing entrance, we found ourselves in a wide, grass-grown court, which the mansion surrounds in quadrangular form. The architecture of the court is graceful in the extreme—fluted and carved marble pilasters running the full height between the windows, which have a distinctly classic touch on the entrance side. On the three remaining sides there are great clustered windows, no less than twenty in one of the groups, separated by slender stone mullions. Most of the glass has disappeared or clings to the casements in shattered fragments, though in a small, still-inhabited corner the windows are entire. We wander at will through the once splendid apartments, now in pitiable decay and ruin. In the banqueting hall—a vast apartment with high open-beamed roof and minstrel gallery—a washerwoman is heating her water-pots, and piles of wool are stored in the Hall of State. But from the far greater number of the rooms the roof has wholly or partially disappeared and the rooks scold each other in the chimneys or caw hungrily among the sagging rafters. The room once used for the library is less ruinous and its two immense circular bay windows overlook a beautiful stretch of country. But,[Pg 38] altogether, the house is more of a ruin than we anticipated at first glance. Restoration would be expensive and difficult. The walls in many places lean far from the vertical and are intersected by cracks and rents. Columns and pilasters are broken and sprung and in many windows the mullions are gone or twisted awry. The staircases are gone and the halls and passageways piled deep with debris. Yet such is the charm of the place that only recently an American negotiated with its owner, the Earl of Winchelsea, with a view to purchase and restoration, but through inability to clear the title, the deal was never consummated. Kirby Hall has been in the possession of the Winchelsea family ever since it was built by Elizabeth’s favorite, Sir Christopher Hatton, after plans by the master architects, John Thorpe and Inigo Jones. Reverses compelled its gradual abandonment, though it was inhabited by the owner as late as 1830. But we did not inquire closely into the history of Kirby Hall, nor do we care to do so. We prefer to think of it as more or less a mystery—an enchanted palace whose weird beauty is not destroyed but only rendered pathetic by the decay and desolation that has fallen upon it as it stands alone in the wide stretches of forest-dotted meadowland.

It was near the end of a strenuous day when we cast a regretful glance at the great chimneys and[Pg 39] graceful pinnacles silhouetted against the evening sky—but there are no accommodations for travelers at Kirby Hall. No place near at hand appealed to us. Coventry and its comfortable King’s Head Hotel was not out of reach and attracted us as it did more than once in our journeyings. The fifty miles we covered easily before lamplighting time.


Although we had visited Coventry before—and, as it chanced, re-visited it many times later—we did not find our interest in the charming old city lessen, and it occurs to us more than ever as the best center for Warwickshire. Kenilworth is only five miles, Warwick twice as far, and Stratford eight miles farther. At Coventry one may be thoroughly comfortable, which can hardly be said of the inns at Warwick or Stratford. Americans always seek the Red Horse at the latter place because of its associations with Irving; but there is little more than the room our gentle traveler occupied, the chair he sat in and the “scepter” wherewith he was wont to stir up a cheerful fire in his grate, to induce one to return. But in Coventry, at the ancient though much re-modeled King’s Head, one strikes the happy medium of English hotels. It has the homelikeness and freedom of the smaller country inns without their discomforts, and it does not force upon one the painful formalities of the resort hotels, with their terrible English table d’hote dinners. So when we were[Pg 40] established at the King’s Head, in spacious rooms, with plenty of tables and chairs—articles uncommon enough to merit special mention—there was always a temptation to linger.

Of the many thousands of Americans who throng to Stratford every year, perhaps only a small number are aware that the ancestral homes of the Washingtons are only a few miles away. Still smaller is the number who make a pilgrimage to Sulgrave or to Brington, ten miles farther, though the memories and traditions of these places are so closely connected with the ancestors of the Father of His Country. True, his stately home by the Potomac is not neglected by his countrymen, but every American should be deeply interested in the English forefathers of the man who more than any other freed them from the “rule of kings.”

Laurence, the ancestor of George Washington, is buried in this church. From Original Painting by Daniel Sherrin.

We thought it a favorable omen to see the gray sky which had drenched Coventry since dawn break into fleecy clouds as we started over the Banbury road for Sulgrave. The hedges and trees skirting the road were washed clean of their coating of dust and the whole countryside gleamed like an emerald in the yellow flood of the afternoon sunshine. Our car seemed to catch the spirit of delight that pervaded everything and sprang away airily and noiselessly over the fine highway. Fifteen miles to the south we turned into a narrow byway leading to[Pg 41] Wormleighton, in whose ancient church there are records chronicling the marriage of Robert Washington in 1565 and the birth of his son George in 1608, antedating his famous namesake in America by more than a century. It would even now be hard to follow on the map this maze of byroads which we threaded, winding between the hawthorne hedges or gliding beneath the over-arching branches of ancient elms; passing snug farmhouses and cottages brilliant with rose vines and creepers and fairly embowered in old-fashioned flowers; and leading through villages the very embodiment of quiet and repose. And Sulgrave, the cradle of the Washingtons, seemed the sleepiest and loneliest of them all—a gray, straggling hamlet with only here and there a dash of color from flower-beds or ivied walls, looking much as it must have looked when the last Washington was Lord of the Manor, more than three hundred years ago. It rather lacks the neat, trim appearance of the average Midland village. Its streets are grass-grown and strewn with stones. Many of the cottages are surrounded by tumble-down stone walls, and the small church with huge embattled tower, the product of a recent restoration, crowns the hill in a wide, uncared-for graveyard.

A little to one side of the village they pointed out the “Washington House,” and we followed a stony path leading into the farmyard, where the good[Pg 42] man was just stabling his horses. A typical country woman—of the tenant class—warmly welcomed us at Sulgrave Manor. Clearly they are glad to see Americans here; visitors are not the tolerated intruders that they are in so many historic places. We learned that we should even be welcome to a clean, neatly furnished room had we desired to pass the night beneath the roof. We were shown every nook and corner of the curious old house—not an extensive or imposing one, but three hundred years ago domestic accommodations were not elaborate even in the homes of the nobility, and while the Washingtons ranked high among the gentry, they did not possess a title. The house has not been greatly altered, in outward appearance, at least, and is kept in scant repair by the owner, a Devonshire gentleman; fortunately, the thick stone wall and heavy oaken beams yield but slowly to time’s ravages. The most imposing feature is the solid black-oak staircase with its curiously twisted banisters. The interior has been altered from the original plan—just how much it is difficult to ascertain. Nothing, however, impresses the American visitor so much as the Washington coat-of-arms, executed in plaster on one of the gables by the ancient owner. This had suffered much from the weather, but has lately been protected by a glass covering. The outer walls were originally covered with plaster, but this has fallen away in[Pg 43] many places, showing the rough stone underneath; and elsewhere masses of ivy half hide the small, square-paned windows. Very faithful in detail and sentiment is Mr. Sherrin’s picture, painted at my request—the artist gaining his inspiration by a week under the old roof while employed in his task. The picture shows the old house much as we saw it, standing against a rich sunset sky, its harsh outlines softened by a little distance. The picture of the village and church was done by the artist at the same time, though for effect the church is shown rather as it appeared before it was restored. We followed the rough cobblestone walk to the church door, but could not gain admittance until the caretaker was found, for Sulgrave Church has been kept strictly under lock and key ever since one of the Washington brasses was stolen—by an American, of course—a few years ago. It is a small, rough, lichen-covered building, much restored, even to the stolen brass tablet to the memory of the first Laurence Washington. The engraving of this, on another page, shows how certainly the Washington coat-of-arms must have suggested the motif for the American flag and the great seal of the United States. The church is very ancient and there is in the choir a small “Lepers’ Door,” unique as one of three or four in England. Here in olden time the[Pg 44] lepers might approach for alms or to hear the sermon, but dared not enter the church.


It is not the purpose of this book of random wanderings to deal much with sober history, but the story of Sulgrave’s connection with the Washingtons is not common and a short sketch may not be amiss. In the reign of Henry VIII., Laurence Washington was Mayor of Northampton and a gentleman of consequence. Sulgrave was among the confiscated church lands that the King was offering at bargain prices, and Washington purchased it for three hundred pounds. A tradition that these alienated church lands would bring evil fortune to the owner does not seem to have deterred him, though when his grandson, another Laurence Washington, was forced by adverse circumstances to sell the estate, the old superstition might seem to have been verified. This grandson, with a large family, removed about 1606—the exact date is doubtful—to Little Brington, some ten miles to the northeast of Sulgrave, where he was given a house, it is thought, by the Earl of Spencer, to which noble family the Washingtons were related by marriage. The Laurence Washington who is buried in Great Brington Church was the great-great-grandfather of the “first American.”

Later in our wanderings we visited the Bringtons, which lie only a short distance from Northamp[Pg 45]ton and may be reached by excellent roads running through some of the most beautiful Midland country. We paused in the midst of a heavy shower near the village cross under the gigantic elm that stands in front of Great Brington Church, to which we gained admission with but little delay. The Brington villages are on the estate of the Spencers, one of the wealthiest and most ancient families of the English nobility, and the church is an imposing one, kept in perfect repair. The chief Washington memorials are the brasses—the inscription and coat-of-arms—over the grave of Laurence Washington of Sulgrave and Brington, and these have been sunk deep in the stone slab and are guarded by lock and key. In the chapel are some of the most elaborate memorials we saw—altar tombs bearing the sculptured effigies and ancient arms and armor of the Spencers; and yet how all this splendid state, all the wealth of carving, arms and effigies, shrink into insignificance beside the august name on the plain slab in the aisle, and how all the trappings of heraldry and the chronicles of all the line of Spencers fade into nothingness over against that tiny sunken tablet with its stars and bars!

Half a mile from Great Brington is Little Brington, where we saw the Washington house referred to previously, with only a few touches, mullioned windows and carvings, to distinguish it from the cot[Pg 46]tages of the village tenantry. There is a world of pathos in the inscription cut in the stone tablet above the doorway, “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord,” which may refer to the loss of Sulgrave and the death of a young son shortly after the Washingtons reached Brington. Inside, the house, transformed into a laborer’s cottage, has been altered out of all semblance to its former self.

But the rain was still coming down in torrents from the leaden skies and hiding the beauties of the Bringtons. It took another visit on a perfect August day to fix the impression which we still retain of the romantic beauty of the little towns, and it is only by such a comparison that one can judge how much we lost on account of the many days of dark, foggy weather that prevail during the summer in Britain. Under the more pleasant conditions we could but feel that, aside from the memories of the Washingtons which hover over the Bringtons, these delightful Midland villages might well engage the admiration of the wayfarer. One may well pause in his flight through the hawthorne-bordered byways to view the prospect that greets the eye from Great Brington churchyard. The church occupies slightly rising ground, from which in almost every direction one may behold stretches of some of the most charming rural country in England; and the church itself,[Pg 47] with the old village cross beneath the monster elm tree, is not the least picturesque feature of the landscape. The village which fronts it, clean, cozy and comfortable-looking, its gray walls dashed with ivy and relieved by the rich color of rose vines and old-time flowers, is as lovely and peaceful a hamlet as one will find, even in England. Not less pleasing is the surrounding country—“pastoral” describes it—with its long reaches of meadowland, broken by hedgerows and lordly trees. To the right is Althorpe House, the stately home of the Spencers, with its vast, well-kept park, where the huge old oaks shimmer in the hazy midsummer afternoon. Amidst all this quiet and beauty one forgets the dark problems that threaten England and thinks only of her ineffable charm. Little Brington is not less attractive than its neighbor—the thatched structure above the well in the village green and the two hoary firs overshadowing it forming a picture as quaint as pleasing. We leave the lovely villages regretfully, and winding out of the maze of byroads, take the highway that leads toward the ancient city of Northampton, whose chief distinction should be that a Washington was once its Lord Mayor.


[Pg 48]


Despite our numerous visits to Coventry, each one had some new delight in store; some bit of curious antiquity that had previously escaped us was sure to turn up, and once in the heart of the old-world town, one easily forgets the modern manufacturing city that has grown up around it. In the immediate vicinity of the famous three spires there clusters much to detain one and which may well make Coventry the shrine of a far greater number of pilgrims than it now is. If we enter the grand old church of St. Michael’s, whose slender spire rises three hundred feet into the blue heavens—for the heavens are blue and cloudless after the rain of yesterday—we shall be confronted by the noblest interior of any parish church in England. Its unhampered expanse and lightness of design intensify its splendid proportions. The fine lancet windows gleam like clustered jewels, for modern glass of unusually good taste is intermingled with much dating from Tudor times, which, fortunately, escaped the wrath of the fanatics. The old caretaker tells us that the church is “soon to be a cathedral,” and if so, it will wear its distinction fitly indeed.

[Pg 49]

Near by the church is the guildhall, deservedly known as one of the finest bits of medieval England now extant. One may not undertake to catalog its glories, but its contents, as well as its architecture, will interest even the layman. In its muniment room is a collection of eleven thousand books and manuscripts of great value, and many rare old paintings grace the walls of the banqueting hall, which has an unrivaled open-timber roof. In the oriel window at the head of the stairs, in the softened light of the antique glass, stands Coventry’s patron saint, Lady Godiva, her shrinking figure beautifully wrought in white marble. Old arms and armor are scattered about the halls and the whole atmosphere of the place is that of three hundred years ago.

To be sure, Elizabeth visited the guildhall. That rare royal traveler did not neglect the opportunity for entertainment and display offered her by her loyal subjects of Coventry. Nor is the tradition of a certain exchange of compliment between the men of the old town and their royal mistress without a touch of realism in its portrayal of the sharp sting of Elizabeth’s wit, not infrequently felt by those who, knowing her vanity, undertook to flatter her too grossly. For it is recorded that the citizens of Coventry greeted her majesty in an address done into doggerel in this wise:

[Pg 50]

“Wee men of Coventree
Are very glad to see
Yr gracious majestie!
Good Lord, how fair ye bee!”

To which she instantly responded:

“Our gracious majesty
Is very glad to see
Ye men of Coventree.
Good Lord, what fools ye bee!”

But we may not linger in Coventry, and after a hasty glance at the almshouses—whose brick-and-timber front, with richly carved black-oak beams, rivals Leicester’s Hospital at Warwick—we are again on the King’s highway. And it is a highway fit for a king, this broad sweeping road that leads from Coventry through Kenilworth and Warwick to Stratford-upon-Avon. There are few more picturesque runs in Britain and few that take one past so many spots of literary and historic interest. Only the fact that we have been over this route several times before offers excuse for covering the twenty miles in less than an hour. As we flit along we catch glimpses of the fragments of Kenilworth, of Guy’s Cliff, of the old mill; and cautiously thread our way through the cramped streets of Warwick, which we leave, not without admiring glances at the Castle, the splendid tower of St. Mary’s Church, and the fine facade of Leicester’s Hospital. Passing the con[Pg 51]fines of the ancient gate, we soon come into the open road, smooth and gently undulating, and a few minutes lands us in Shakespeare’s Stratford.

It would be hard to follow in sequence our wanderings from Stratford to Cheltenham, mainly through country lanes often hidden between tall hedges and leading over steep, rough hills, as we sought quaint and historic bits of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Just beyond Shipston-on-Stour we paused before a Jacobean manor house, a slight opening in the high hedge permitting a glimpse of the gray gables and mullioned windows from the road. A farmer’s wife, who saw us stop, called to us and offered to conduct us through the quaint sixteenth century building, Little Woolford Manor, as it is known. The hall, with open-timber roof, paneled walls and minstrel gallery, lighted by tall windows still rich with ancient glass, is an apartment to delight any lover of the old-time domicile. This has been adapted to a schoolroom and the remainder of the house divided into farm tenements. It is full of odd corners and weird passageways and very appropriately has its ghost, a certain “White Ladye,” who walks the scene of her earthly misfortunes at midnight. None of the occupants had ever seen her or knew anything of the tradition, but no one could dispute the good taste of a ghost who should choose Little Woolford Manor as a residence. Nor could[Pg 52] such a fine old house properly be without its legend of Charles the Wanderer, and our guide showed us a small secret chamber behind an oven where with a few retainers it is said the king hid and was nearly roasted by a rousing fire built in the grate by the pursuing Cromwellians.

There are other traditions and relics of the royal fugitive in the vicinity, for we passed Little Compton Manor, plainly visible from the road, which was once the home of Bishop Juxon, the bosom friend of King Charles. Here for many years was preserved the block upon which the King’s head was severed, and also his favorite chair; but these disappeared shortly after the Bishop’s death.

A few miles farther, just off the upland road from Little Compton to Moreton-in-the-Marsh, one may see the Rollright Stones, a druidical circle; and tradition declares that these stones were once Danish invaders who were thus metamorphosed for some presumptuous act.

Descending a long and dangerously steep hill sloping from the upland, we came into Chipping Campden, and, possibly excepting Broadway, it has hardly an equal in a section famous for picturesque towns and villages. A wide street between a long array of gray gables with many time-worn carvings, odd signs and frequent sun-dials, leads from one end of the town, marked by a huge oak, to the other,[Pg 53] where a giant chestnut stands sentinel. Here again the almshouses attract attention. They are built of soft-toned brown stone and the walls are surmounted by pointed gables and clustered chimneys. Near by rises the graceful church tower, overshadowing a building whose vast proportions seem to ill accord with the decayed little town about it. But we learn that it was built when Chipping Campden was the greatest wool market in the country, and a brass tablet of 1401 commemorates one of the ancient benefactors of the church as the “flower of all wool merchants in England.” We found inside some of the most perfect brasses that we had seen, but a general restoration had quite robbed the church of its greatest charm. The large pillared cross in the wool market and the massive proportions of the courthouse, with its heavily buttressed walls, testify mutely of the time when Chipping Campden was a place of much greater importance than it is today.

Broadway is already famous. Its “discovery” is attributed to Americans, and several American artists of note—among them Mr. F. D. Millet, who occupies the ancient manor house of the Abbot of Pershore—have been included in the foreign contingent. Its name is derived from the broad London and Worcester road which passes in a long sweeping curve between rows of fine Tudor and Jacobean houses with many fanciful gables and massive stone[Pg 54] chimneys. In the coaching days Broadway was of great importance and then were built the fine inns and business houses. A period of decadence followed, during which it gradually sank into a neglected country village, from which oblivion the old-world charm of its very decay finally rescued it. It shows quite markedly the influx of outsiders and the trail of the tourist; in this regard it is inferior to the as yet undiscovered and unspoiled town of Chipping Campden. But while there is a touch of newness in the outskirts and while the antique buildings show traces of returning prosperity, there is still much in Broadway to please the eye and delight the artistic sense. Few indeed of the old-time inns have the charm of the Lygon Arms, where we paused for our afternoon tea. (Afternoon tea—so far have the customs of the land of our sojourn corrupted us!) It is a many-gabled building of soft sandstone, rich with browns verging into reds and dashed here and there with masses of ivy which half hide the deep-set stone-mullioned windows. To the rear its glass-roofed garage with cement floor and modern accessories tells plainly of one source of returning prosperity. Everywhere about the inn is cleanliness, and the charm of the antique is combined with modern comfort. The interior is quite as unspoiled as the outside, and nothing could be more redolent of old-time England than the im[Pg 55]mense fireplace in the ingle nook of the hall. Here, too, linger legends of King Charles, and there is one great paneled room with huge fireplace and Tudor furniture that claims the honor of association with the sterner name of Cromwell. Perhaps the least pleasing feature of our pilgrimage was the necessity that often forced us to hasten by places like the Lygon Arms—but one could scarce exhaust Britain’s attractions in a lifetime should he pause as long and as often as he might wish.


Evesham we passed in the rain and gathering twilight. We reached Tewkesbury at nightfall, but its inns did not strike our fancy, and we hastened to Cheltenham, leaving the fine old towns for a later visit. At the Victoria in Cheltenham we found things much more to our liking.

We followed a main road almost due south from Cheltenham through Painswick, Stroud and Nailsworth, gray old towns lying deep in the hills. At Painswick is a fine Perpendicular church, so much restored as to present a rather new appearance. The churchyard has a wonderful array of carefully clipped yew trees, perhaps a hundred in all, though no one, says local tradition, can count them twice the same—a peculiarity also ascribed to the monoliths at Stonehenge. Close to the church walls are the ancient stocks, in this case forged from heavy iron bars and presenting an air of staunch security[Pg 56] that must have struck terror to the hearts of old-time culprits; and the rough stone slab upon which the offenders were seated still remains in place.

Stroud is a larger and better-appearing town, whose ten thousand inhabitants depend mainly upon the manufacture of English broadcloths. The whole section, in fact, was once the center of cloth manufacture, but the advent of the steam engine and more modern methods superseded the watermills. All about are half-ruined factory buildings, some of them once of vast extent, with shattered windows and sagging roofs. Here and there one has survived in a small way or has been adapted to some other industry. In the neighborhood are many country houses, once the residences of wealthy cloth-makers, but now either deserted or turned into farm tenements.

The country is hilly and wooded, and we had few points of vantage that afforded views more picturesque and far-reaching than from some of the upland roads overlooking these Gloucestershire landscapes. The road sweeps around the hills, rising at times far above the valleys, affording a panorama of the Avon gleaming through the dense green foliage that half conceals it. The vale presents the most charming characteristics of rural England. One sees the irregular patchwork of the little fields, the great parks with their sunny meadowlands and groups of an[Pg 57]cient trees, the villages lying in the valleys or clinging to the hillsides, and the gray church towers that lend a touch of majesty and solemn sentiment to almost every glimpse of Britain.

We missed the main road from Bath to Wells, wandering through a maze of unmarked byroads, and were able to proceed only by frequent inquiry. We did not regain the highway until just entering the town and had been a comparatively long time in going a short distance. After a few minutes’ pause to admire the marvelous west front of the cathedral, with its endless array of crumbling prophets, saints and kings, weatherworn to a soft-gray blur, we were away on the highroad leading across the wold to Cheddar, famed for its stupendous cliffs, its caverns—and its cheese. The caverns and cliffs are there, but little cheese now comes from Cheddar, even though it bears the name. As we ascended the exceedingly steep and winding road we were astonished—overwhelmed. We had not expected to find natural scenery upon such an amazing scale in the heart of England—gray pinnacled cliffs rising, almost sheer, five hundred feet into the sky. Not often may British scenery be styled imposing, but the towering cliffs of Cheddar surely merit such description. In the midst of the gorge between the great cliffs there are two prehistoric caverns extending far into the earth. We entered one of them, now a[Pg 58] mere passageway, now a spacious cavern whose domelike roof glistens with translucent stalactites. Here we pass a still, mirrorlike pool, and there a deep fissure from which comes the gurgle of a subterranean river. Altogether, there is much that is interesting and impressive. Perhaps it all seems a little gaudy and unnatural because of the advertising methods and specious claims of the owner and alleged discoverer, but none the less a visit is worth while. The museum of relics found in the cavern contains a remarkable prehistoric skull, with low, thick frontal bone and heavy square jaw, but its queerest feature is little spurlike projections of the temporal bone just above the ear. It is estimated by archaeologists that the possessor of this curious skull had lived at least forty thousand years ago and mayhap had made his dwelling-place in the Cheddar Caves. We were assured that an offer from the British Museum of five thousand pounds for the relic had been refused.

The sun was low when we left Cheddar, and Taunton seemed the nearest place where we might be sure of good accommodations. We soon reached Axbridge, a gray little market town, so ancient that a hunting-lodge built by King John still stands on the market square. Near Bridgewater, a few miles farther, is the Isle of Athelney—once an island in a marsh, perhaps—where King Alfred made his last[Pg 59] desperate stand against the Danish invaders, defeating them and finally expelling them from Britain. Not less in interest, though perhaps less important in its issues, was the Battle of Sedgemoor, fought here in 1685, when the Duke of Monmouth was disastrously defeated by the Royal Army—the last battle worthy of the name to be waged on English soil.

But we were to learn more of Monmouth at Taunton and to have again impressed upon us how easy it is in Britain for one to hasten through places of the deepest historic interest quite unaware of their tragic story. We had passed through Taunton before, seeing little but a staid old country town with a church tower of unmatched gracefulness and dignified proportions; but Taunton’s tragic part in the parliamentary wars and her fatal connection with “King Monmouth” never occurred to us, if, indeed, we knew of it at all. Taunton was strongly for the Parliament, but it was a storm center and was taken and retaken until the iron hand of Fairfax crushed the Royalists before its walls. Its record stood against it when the King “came into his own again.” Its walls were leveled to the ground, its charter taken away and many of its citizens thrown into prison. Discontent and hatred of the Stuarts were so rampant that any movement against their rule was welcomed by the Taunton Whigs, though it is hard to see any consistency in the unreasoning[Pg 60] support they gave to the Duke of Monmouth—the son of Charles II. and one of his many mistresses—in his pretensions to the throne occupied by James II. Monmouth entered Taunton amidst the wildest acclamations, and it was from the market square of the rebellious town that he issued his proclamation assuming the title of King. He was followed by an ill-organized and poorly equipped army of seven thousand men, who were defeated by four thousand Royal Troops. Then followed a reign of terror in Taunton. The commander of the King’s forces hanged, without pretense of trial, many of his prisoners, using the sign of the old White Hart Inn as a gallows. Then came the Bloody Assizes, held by Jeffreys of infamous memory, in the great hall of the castle. After trials no more than travesties of brutal jests and savage cruelty, more than three hundred Somersetshire men were sentenced, according to the terrible customs of the time, to be “hanged, drawn and quartered,” and a thousand were doomed to transportation. Here the active history of Taunton may be said to have ended.

But Taunton has little to remind us of these dark and bloody times as we glide through her fine old streets and draw up in front of the London Hotel, where the host himself in evening dress welcomes us at the door. Every attention is given us and The London certainly deserves its official ap[Pg 61]pointment by the Royal Automobile Club as well as the double distinction accorded it by the infallible Baedeker. It is one of the charming old-fashioned inns, such as perhaps inspired the poet Shenstone with the sentiment expressed in his well-known quatrain:

“Whoe’er has traveled life’s dull round,
Whate’er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think that he has found
His warmest welcome at an inn.”

Modern Taunton is a city of some twenty thousand people, and being the county town, with some manufactories, it enjoys a quiet prosperity. Of its ancient landmarks, the castle, dating from the eleventh century, is the most notable and has appropriately been turned into a museum. Here one may enter the hall where Jeffreys held his court. Though two centuries or more have elapsed, the “horror of blood” seems still to linger in the gloomy apartment. The market-place retains its old-time characteristics, and though the house occupied by Jeffreys has disappeared, the White Hart Inn still stands. But the glory of Taunton is St. Mary’s Church, one of the most graceful examples of the Perpendicular period in England. The splendid tower seems almost frail in its airy lightness—and perhaps it is, for it is a recent restoration, or rather[Pg 62] replacement, of the older one, which had become insecure.

Sherborne Abbey we had missed in our former wanderings, though once very near it, and we felt that we must make amends though it cost us a detour of sixty miles. And yet, what hardship is it to go out of one’s way in Britain? Indeed, can one ever go out of his way in rural England? Scarcely, from the point of view of such nomads as ourselves.

The great tower of Curry Rivell Church dominates in such a lordly manner the village straggling up the hill toward it that we were tempted to look inside, and a mild curiosity was aroused, from which we have never yet been able to rid ourselves. For, chained to one of the iron railings of a sixteenth century tomb, is a queer little iron-bound oaken cabinet. It is scarcely more than a foot in length, the wood is worm-eaten and the massive lock and heavy hinges are red with rust. What mystery does it contain and why did it escape the church-looters of Puritan times? The church is rich in antique carvings, among them a delicately wrought screen and fine fifteenth century bench ends. The tomb to which the coffer is chained is a very unusual one. It bears on its altar the effigies of two mail-clad warriors, while at either side kneel figures of their wives over two tiny cribs with several gnomelike children tucked in each. Overhead, borne by four pillars,[Pg 63] is a domed canopy upon which are painted four sprawling cherubs. All very quaint and strange and illustrative of the queer mortuary ideas of the medieval period.

We followed the winding, hilly and often indifferent road that leads through Somerton, Ilchester and Yeovil to Sherborne, and while our lunch was preparing at the slow-moving Antelope—there is little in a name, in this instance—we wandered down old-world streets to the abbey, the goal of all pilgrims to Sherborne. It seemed odd to find the old town crowded with rural visitors all agape at a fantastic circus parade that was winding along the crooked streets, but Sherborne is fond of parades and pageants, for we were assured that the historical pageant now the rage in the older towns of England was originated in Sherborne. The town itself is a charming place—I borrow the words of an enthusiastic admirer whose picture may be better than I can paint:

[Pg 64]

“It is a bright town, prim and old-fashioned, and unsullied by the aggressive villas and red brick terraces of the modern suburb. Although a small place, it is yet of much dignity. Here are timber-faced dwellings, where the upper story overhangs the lower, and where the roof breaks out into irrelevant gables; houses with the stone-mullioned casements of Tudor days or the round bow window of the Georgian period; houses with gateways under them leading into courtyards; humble buildings fashioned out of stone filched from a church; cottages with the arched doorways of a convent or with buttresses worthy of a chapel; pieces of old wall and other miscellaneous fragments which the town with its love for the past has never had the heart to cast aside. Over the grey roofs can be seen the trees upon the hilltop, while over many a crumbling wall comes the fragrance of garden or orchard.”

But as we rounded a corner and came upon a full view of the abbey church, we felt that it had rightly been styled the “glory of Sherborne.” Perhaps its low tower gives an impression of incompleteness and lack of proportion—but it seemed to accentuate the mighty proportions of the church itself and it was with a feeling almost verging upon awe that we entered the majestic portals. And we learned it as we know only few historic churches in England, for the gem of all vergers is at Sherborne. To him his work is a labor of love, not the usual perfunctory performance in hope of a fee. He had made discoveries of importance himself in whiling away his time in the abbey and had located and uncovered an ancient effigy that had been inconsiderately built into the walls in earlier days. He told us of the checkered history of the abbey, of the wars of the monks and citizens, as a result of which the[Pg 65] church suffered from a great fire, the marks of which still remain in the red stains on the soft yellow stone, of the Dissolution and the cavalier manner in which Henry the Wrecker bestowed the abbey on one of his friends, who in turn sold it to the parish for two hundred and fifty pounds—all of which would be too long to record in detail in this crowded chronicle. But the interior of Sherborne Abbey—where is there another like it? Not in all England; probably not in the world. It lacks the “dim religious light” that pervades, like a soft-toned mist, most of the great church buildings; the windows flood the yellow stone with many-colored beams and lighten the splendors of the golden fan vault with its rich bosses and heraldic devices until every detail comes out clearly to the beholder below.

But we are lingering too long at the abbey; we were to return to the Antelope in half an hour, and thrice that period has elapsed. We hie back to our inn and do not complain of our cold repast. “It is ten minutes’ walk to the castle,” said our host. Then why take the car? A ten minutes’ walk will give us a little of the exercise we need. We start under the sweltering sun—it is a hot day, even as we reckon it—and follow the crooked streets. Here is a high wall—it must be the castle. No, the castle is farther on; and we repeat the wearisome experience until half an hour has elapsed and we[Pg 66] are only at the entrance gate of the park. We are almost exhausted, for our long tramp on the “abbey stones” did not especially invigorate us, but we will go on after having come so far.

It was hardly worth while—Cromwell had left very little of Sherborne Castle. It seemed melancholy, indeed, that the riddled gateway and the straggling pieces of wall should be all that remains of such a lordly building. We were interested to know that it had been granted to Sir Walter Raleigh “forever” in 1597—but only six years later the knightly founder of Virginia was indicted for treason and fell a victim to the cowardly malice of King James, and Sherborne Castle reverted to the crown. It was less than half a century later that Fairfax received its surrender in the name of the Parliament, and when the gunpowder mines were fired the active days of the fortress were at an end.

We retrace our steps to the Antelope, thinking mournfully of the car, which would have made such short and easy work of our weary trip, and we heave a sigh of relief when once more, having donned our “seven-league boots,” we hear the soft purr of the motor and enjoy the rush of the cool, sweet air—after our “ten minutes’ walk.”

It grows late and Exeter is far away, but we are sure of comfort at the Rougemont and we give the car rein. How she sweeps over the sunset hills[Pg 67] and glides along the cool valleys, pausing cautiously to pass some rose-embowered village, now gathering speed again for another rush over the fine road! She is ahead of schedule at Honiton, and one of our party remembers that the Honiton lace is famous. It is an expensive bit of recollection, but all things go in a motor tour. After a half-hour’s pause, we are away again, and before long catch sight of the huge bulk of Exeter Cathedral looming above the old city against the twilight sky.

[Pg 68]


“Through the heart of Dartmoor forest” may bring up many fascinating, even weird associations, but on our map we regarded the thin red line of our road rather dubiously. It runs almost straight from Exeter to Prince Town—the prison town of the moor—and on either side for many miles lies a waste country, apparently quite devoid of villages and even of roads. The road as shown on the map is thickly studded with arrow heads, denoting dangerous hills, and the description in the road-book is far from alluring. But we were not to be deterred from exploring Dartmoor, as we had been on a previous occasion, though indeed we found the first few miles between Exeter and Moreton Hampstead trying and almost terrifying in places. The hills offered little impediment to our motor, but for all that one has a rather eery feeling when clinging to a precipitous incline. If something should let loose! But nothing did.

Moreton Hampstead is a bleak, lonely little town set well into the western edge of the moor and surrounded by rugged tors on every hand. It is not[Pg 69] without a bit of antiquity, for it has a sixteenth century building, called the Arcade, whose Moorish touches are decidedly picturesque. It is like a bit of Spain in the hills of Dartmoor and seems strangely out of place. Only three miles from Moreton Hampstead, lying in a secluded valley, is Chagford, famous for its quaint old inn and wild surroundings.

Once out of Moreton Hampstead and away on the yellow highway that bisects the moor, we found ourselves in a country as barren as any we had seen in England. The road, though winding and steep, is generally visible for some distance ahead, and we found little hindrance to a swift, steady flight that carried us over the long hills far more quickly than we anticipated. The day, which had begun in mist and rain, became lighter and a rapidly clearing sky gave us the opportunity of seeing the wild beauty of the moor at its best. Despite its loneliness and cheerlessness, there was a wonderful play of color: the reds and browns of the broken granite, the purple blaze of the heather, the vivid yellow of the gorse and the metallic green of the whortle, all intensified by golden sunshine, have marvelously transformed the somber tone of the moorland of scarce an hour before. But where is the “forest”? Only stunted trees appear here and there, or a fringe of woods along the clear streams; we learn that “forest” once meant a waste, uncultivated tract of[Pg 70] land, and in later days has been applied to woodlands alone. We run for miles with no human habitation in sight save an occasional cottage in a small, barren field surrounded by stone walls. We come upon a large, attractive-looking inn unexpectedly—though it ought not to be unexpected to find an inn anywhere in England—the Two Bridges, situated near the head waters of the Dart, here no more than a brawling streamlet. We leave the car by the roadside and enter the homelike hall, where an array of fishing-tackle makes clear the excuse for this pleasant hotel in the moor. The day has been chilly and, strange to say, a fire flickers in the grate. We are just in time for luncheon and a goodly number of guests respond to the vigorous beating of the gong—that almost universal abomination of the provincial English hotel. It appears that the quiet and seclusion of Dartmoor is not without its attractions to many people. We ourselves leave the pleasant inn with regret; we should have liked a day’s rest in the cozy ingle-nook.

A view of the old town of Totnes from the upland road. Original Painting by George Bowman, 1908 Royal Academy.

The walls and battlements of Prince Town Prison soon loom in sight. This was established in 1800 as a military prison for French soldiers, and a few Americans were confined here in 1812. It then fell into disuse until 1850, but for the half-century since it has served its present purpose as a penal[Pg 71] institution and has been greatly added to from time to time.

An English writer says: “Dartmoor is so huge that one must be born and spend a lifetime near it to really know it, and the visitor can merely endeavour to see typical examples of its granite tors, its peaty streams, its great stretches of boulder-strewn heather, and its isolated villages.” Evidently he must mean that it is huge in its mysteries and its moods, for it is really only fourteen by twenty-two miles—perhaps half as large as the average county in the United States.

At Tavistock we are well beyond the confines of the moor and follow a fine road to Launceston, where we glance at the huge circular keep of the castle and look longingly at the White Hart, which recalls only pleasant memories. But we are bound for an enchanted land and, like many a gallant knight of yore, we would hasten past “many-towered Camelot” to the castle of the blameless king. The declining sun, toward which we rapidly course, seems to flash across the Cornish hills the roselight of the old Arthurian romance, and the stately measures of the “Idyls of the King” come unbidden to our minds. But we soon have something less romantic to think of, for in attempting a short cut to Tintagel without going to Camelford, we run into a series of the crookedest, roughest lanes we found in[Pg 72] all England. These appear to have been quite abandoned; in places mere ravines with myriads of sharp loose stones and many long steep hills. But we push on and almost ere we are aware, find ourselves in Tintagel village, which with its long rows of boarding-houses hardly accords with one’s preconceived romantic notions. Then we catch a glimpse of the ocean out beyond the headland, upon which is perched a huge, square-towered building—King Arthur’s Castle Hotel, they tell us—and thither we hasten. This hotel, only recently completed, is built on a most liberal scale, though it can hardly accommodate many guests at a time. The public rooms are most elaborately furnished and of enormous size. The great round table in the reading room is a replica of the original at Shrewsbury, at which, declares tradition, King Arthur sat with his fifty knights. The guest rooms are on an equally generous scale and so arranged that every one fronts on the sea. The rates are not low by any means, yet it is hard to conceive how such a hotel can be a paying investment.

After we reached the hotel, the long twilight still gave time to contemplate the weird beauty of the surroundings and to explore the ruins of the castle so famed in song and story. We scrambled down the high headland, upon which the hotel stands, to the level of the blue inlet of the sea, depicted in[Pg 73] such a masterly manner in the painting by Mr. Moran, the towering cliffs crowned by the fragmentary ruins looming far above us. A path cut in the edge of the cliff leads to a precarious-looking foot-bridge across the chasm and a still narrower and steeper path hugs the face of the precipice on the opposite side until a heavy oaken door is reached. This door, to which the old caretaker in the cottage below had given me the key, opens into the supposed site of King Arthur’s castle. Only a few scattered bits of masonry remain and these are probably of a later time than that of the early Briton.

From Original Painting by Thos. Moran, N. A.

The spot is lonely and quite barren save a few patches of greensward upon which were peacefully grazing a flock of sheep—one finds them everywhere in Britain. I was quite alone—there were no other visitors at that late hour and my companions had given up the dizzy ascent before it was fairly begun—and I strove to reconstruct in imagination the castle as it stood in the days of the blameless king. How the wild old stories crowded upon me in that lonely twilight hour! Here, legend declares—and I care not if it be dim indeed and questioned by the wiseacres—was once the court of the wise and faultless Arthur, who gathered to himself the flower of knighthood of Christendom and was invincible to all attacks from without, but whose dominion crumbled away before the faithlessness and[Pg 74] dishonor of his own followers. Here, perchance, the faithless Guinevere pined and sighed for her forsworn lover and gazed on the sea, calm and radiant as it is even now, or saw it lash itself into unspeakable fury upon the frowning bastions of the coast. But, alas! how dim and uncertain is all that is left, and how the tales vary save that they all center in the king! Little remains in local tradition of all the vanished splendors of those ancient days save that the king did not die; that in the form of a chough he haunts the scenes of his glory and his downfall, and that he will come again—

But I am quite forgetting the flight of time, and with a lingering look at the storied spot, I slowly descend. Then I climb to the more extensive ruin on the landward side, much shattered but grim and massive in decay. There must have been a connection between the castles on either side of the great ravine, though it is hardly apparent how this could have been. Perhaps the gap has widened much in the long course of time. It is dusk when we return to the hotel and sit long on the open terrace fronting the sea, contemplating the beauty of the scene.

Never have I beheld a more glorious sunset than that which lightened the wild Cornish coast and ocean on that particular evening. A dark band of cloud lay low along the western horizon, with a clear, opalescent sky above, and below a thin strip[Pg 75] of lucent gold with silvery clouds floating in it like fairy ships. Suddenly the sun dropped from behind the cloud, which had obscured his full splendor, into the resplendent zone beneath, flooding the sea, into which he slowly sank, with a marvelous though evanescent glory. Then followed all the indescribable color changes and combinations, which varied momentarily until they faded into the dusky hues of a moonlit night. It marked the close of a perfect day—clear and cool, with sky of untainted blue and ocean as still and glassy as a quiet inland lake.

Not less inspiring was the scene that greeted us through our open lattices in the morning—a sea steely blue in the distance, rippling into bars of frosted silver near the shore, while the stern outlines of the headlands were softened by a clinging blue haze. We lingered on the legend-haunted ground until nearly noon and it was with keen regret that we glided away from the pleasant hostelry back to the village and past the old church on the headland, whose bells tolled without mortal hands on the far-off day when the body of King Arthur was borne away to sepulture in Glastonbury Abbey.

A fine upland road led us nearly due north from Camelford through long stretches of moorland—or country almost as sterile as the moors—diversified with great patches of gorse and scattered groups of stunted trees. We encountered scarcely a village[Pg 76] for a distance of twenty-five miles, for we did not turn aside for Bude or for Stratton, just opposite on each side of the road. The latter is said to be one of the most unspoiled and genuinely ancient of the smaller Cornish villages. At times we were within a mile or two of the ocean and caught fugitive glimpses of blue expanses of quiet sea. Then the road sweeps farther inland and the country improves in appearance, though it is still Cornwall and Devon and far different from the sleek, prosperous beauty of the Midlands.

From Original Painting by A. J. Warne-Browne.

“The most exquisite town in England,” writes an enthusiast of Clovelly, but Clovelly’s very quaintness has made it so widely known that it hardly has a place in a chronicle that seeks rather the untrodden ways. It is not possible for a motor or any other vehicle to descend the steep, stone-paved streets, and about a quarter of a mile above the town we left the car in an exceedingly prosperous-looking stable-yard filled to overflowing with motors, carriages and chars-a-bancs.

Clovelly well deserves its reputation for the picturesque qualities that have transformed it from an unpretentious fishing village, lost among the clifflike hills, into a thronged tourist resort. Fortunately, as yet there has been no attempt to modernize; no stucco-and-timber hotel detracts from the antique flavor; the people who come to Clovelly do not as[Pg 77] a rule stay long. Large excursion steamers, usually crowded, ply from Ilfracombe, and coaches and chars-a-bancs from Hartland and Barnstaple bring troops of visitors. Coaching parties come from Tintagel (round trip eighty miles) and one is sure to find Clovelly crowded in season, especially if the day is fine. And so we found it, literally thronged, a huge excursion steamer lying at anchor in the harbor. There was a little disarray and confusion at the pleasant New Inn—new in name only—evidently due to more patronage than could easily be taken care of. As we waited for luncheon we looked about at the collection of antique brass, copper, china and pottery that almost covered the walls and crowded the mantelpieces and odd corners about the inn. We were told that the landlady is a famous collector and that many of the pieces are rare and valuable. A more amusing if not less interesting feature of the house is the sentiment expressed in halting doggerel, emblazoned in large red letters on the walls and ceiling of the dining-room. It is good only from the standpoint of exceeding badness, and its general tenor is to flatter Americans, who no doubt constitute a large proportion of the guests.

The old, time-worn churches of England are past numbering and they came to have an almost weird fascination for us. The tombs, ranging from the artistic to the ghastly or grotesque, the old stones[Pg 78] with their often queer or even ridiculous epitaphs, the sculptures, the bosses, the frescoes, the stained windows, the gargoyles and the oftentimes strange history or still stranger legends connected with nearly every one—but why prolong the list of curious attractions of these ancient fanes, often quite peculiar in each case? Just before we entered Barnstaple we turned into a byroad, and dropping down a hill of appalling steepness and length, came to Tawstock Church, famed as the finest country church in Devon—the “Westminster of the West Country,” some enthusiast has styled it. Though hardly deserving such a dignified characterization as this, Tawstock Church is well worth a visit. Besides some remarkable tombs and fine Elizabethan pews, it has a peculiar gallery curiously wrought in vine and leaf pattern from black oak, and now used by the bell-ringers to reach the tower. Tawstock Mansion, near by, appears rather modern—a large building shining in a fresh coat of yellow paint that gave it much the appearance of a summer hotel. The house and church are located in a deep wooded valley and the towers of the ancient gateway lend a touch of much-needed antiquity to the scene.


Barnstaple, like Bideford, while a very old town, has few old-time relics now left. It has become a manufacturing town, its chief product being Barum ware, an inexpensive grade of pottery. The[Pg 79] Golden Lion Inn, once a residence of the Earl of Bath, is famed as a place of solid comfort, and still retains much of the gorgeous decorations done by its former occupant. The poet Shelley had an odd association with Barnstaple. When living at Lynton, after his marriage with Harriet Westbrook, he came to Barnstaple and spent some time in bringing out a pamphlet scurrilously attacking the chief justice who had sentenced to prison the publisher of the works of Thomas Paine. One of the poet’s associates, who distributed the pamphlets, was sentenced to six months in jail, and Shelley narrowly escaped by hastily leaving the town.

The road from Bideford through Barnstaple and Ilfracombe is rather uninteresting, save the last few miles, which pass through wooded hills and along deep verdant valleys. Ilfracombe is a resort town, pure and simple, and we found few hotels on a grander scale than the Ilfracombe, standing in beautiful grounds facing the sea, which murmured almost directly beneath our open windows. It was a beautiful evening; the tide was just receding from the jutting rocks scattered along the coast, whereon the sea, even in its mildest moods, chafes into foam; and one can easily imagine a most awe-inspiring scene when the angry ocean, driven by a westerly wind, assails these bold, angular rocks. After having visited every resort town of note in England, our[Pg 80] recollection is that of all, Ilfracombe is the most strikingly situated; nor do any of them command views of a coast line more rugged and picturesque.

The rain was falling heavily when we came to Dunster on the following day and the abbey church was gloomy indeed. And what can be gloomier than an old church on a gray day, when the rain pours from the low-hung clouds and sweeps in fitful gusts against the mossy gravestones and crumbling, ivy-clad walls? A scene that renders one solemn and thoughtful on almost any occasion becomes positively depressing under such conditions. And though we recall Dunster Church with associations not unpleasing in perspective, the surroundings were not altogether pleasing at the time. We found the caretaker, a bent old woman, in the church, but she informed us that there were really two churches and that she had jurisdiction over only one of them. However, she conducted us about the dimly lighted building, gloomy indeed from the lowering skies without, and our recollection of her story of the quarrel that resulted in the partition of the church has faded quite away. But we do remember the rood screen which has fourteen separate openings, no two wrought in the same pattern and altogether as marvelous a piece of black-oak carving as we saw in England.

[Pg 81]

Aside from the abbey church, there are other things of interest in Dunster, especially the market cross and the castle. The latter overlooks the town from a neighboring hill and is one of the lordliest fortresses in the West Country. The town lies in one of the loveliest vales in Somersetshire and is famed for its beautiful surroundings. This section of Somerset and Devon is rich in literary associations; at Nether Stowey we pass the square, uncomfortable-looking house, close to the roadside, where Coleridge lived for three years, beginning in 1797. Indeed, it was in the autumn of that year that he made the excursion with Wordsworth and Dorothy, during which the plan of the “Ancient Mariner” was conceived. A few months before, while in a lonely farmhouse between Porlock and Lynton, he had the dream which he started to record in “Kubla Khan.” This poem he had composed in his dream, but while writing it down on awakening, a “person from Porlock” interrupted, and when the poet essayed to write, not only the words but the images of the vision had faded away, and the fragment of “Kubla Khan” remains like a shattered gem. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came a little later to Alfoxden House, standing in a pleasant park in the parish of Halford, and here the literary association between Coleridge and Wordsworth became intimate and the little volume of “Lyrical Ballads” was published[Pg 82] jointly by them in 1798. Southey, while storm-stayed by “an unwelcome summer rain” at the Ship Inn in Porlock, wrote a sonnet in praise of the hills and glens. Hazlitt and Charles Lamb at times joined their friends here for pedestrian excursions among the hills. Nor can we forget Blackmore, whose “Lorna Doone” turned the eyes of the English-speaking world toward the Exmoor wastes. Shelley’s escapade at Barnstaple we have already mentioned and the cottage he occupied at Lynton still stands. No doubt much of the weird beauty that pervades his work entered his soul amidst the glorious surroundings—the sea, the hills and the vales—of the West Country.

From Original Painting by A. J. Warne-Browne.

A pause at Cleeve Abbey near at hand gave us perhaps a better idea of the life of monastic days than any other we visited—and we saw all the greater abbeys of Britain. In the majority of cases the abbey proper had been destroyed, but the church escaped, often through purchase by the citizens. At Cleeve the reverse has happened; the church has totally disappeared, but the abbey buildings are nearly intact. As a well-informed writer puts it:

[Pg 83]

“The whole life of the society can be lived over again with but little demands on the imagination. We can see the dormitories in which they slept, the refectory where they fed, the abbot’s particular parlour and the room for accounts, the kitchen, and even the archway through which their bodies went out to the grave. The church suffered from despoilers more than any other part of the abbey, and great is the loss to architecture. Otherwise we get a community of the Middle Ages preserved in all its essential surroundings, the refectory being in particular a grand fifteenth-century hall.” The ceiling of this great apartment is of the hammer-beam pattern, the beams richly carved, and, springing from oaken corbels, figures of angels with expanded wings.

It brings one near indeed to the spirit of monastic days—this gray old ruin, through which sweep the wind and rain and where under foot the grass grows lush and green as it grows only in England—the spirit which the Latin legend over the gatehouse so vividly expresses, quaintly rendered thus:

“Gate Open be
To honest folk as free.”

And the gray-whiskered custodian, so rheumatic and feeble that his daughter, a husky peasant woman, guides visitors about the abbey, warmed up to us as we were about to leave and opened his heart about the ruin in which he dwelt and which he seemed to love. He told us its story in the broad West Country dialect and pointed out to us many things of curious interest that we otherwise should have overlooked.

[Pg 84]

The sky is clearing; the low sun flashes along the hill-crests and floods the Somerset landscape with ethereal beauty, which we drink in as we skim swiftly along the smooth, wet road. We catch a final gleam of the ocean at Weston-super-Mare and pass a long row of imposing hotels. Then we are away for Bristol, the Queen City of the West Country.

[Pg 85]


There are few English castles where the spirit of medievalism lingers as at Berkeley and few that have darker deeds recorded in their long annals of crime. It has had a strange fascination for me ever since I read its story in my boyhood days, and the verse of the poet Gray had given the castle a weird association in my mind:

“Mark the year and mark the night
When Severn shall echo with affright;
When shrieks of death through Berkeley’s roofs shall ring,
Shrieks of an agonizing king.”

It was therefore a keen disappointment to learn on arriving in the quiet Gloucestershire town that it was not a day when the castle was open to visitors. However, we do not regret this so much in retrospect. The castle, grim, many-towered, ivy-clad, the very embodiment of the days of chivalry, still lingers in memory, with nothing to disenchant its mystery and romance. The old keeper at the imposing entrance was evidently sincere in his regret that the rule might not be suspended for our bene[Pg 86]fit—for indeed we had found such regulations not as the laws of the Medes and Persians, but there was no such good fortune here. “But do not fail,” said he, “to view the castle from the meadows, for no finer sight will you find in England.”

If there be finer views of other English castles—a mere matter of opinion, after all—there can hardly be a better viewpoint than the Berkeley Meadows. It is a wide expanse of lawnlike meadowland lying alongside the castle, which stretches out its battlemented and turreted length against a background of majestic trees; from these rises the square church-tower in stern outline against the bluest of English June skies. The scene indeed savors more of enchantment than reality, and the environment seems fitting to the historic pile where a king was done to death and which Shakespeare mentions more than once. The present owner is the twenty-seventh in direct descent from Robert Fitzhardinge, to whom the manor was originally granted and who built a large part of the present castle in the tenth century.

The view from the castle keep is described by one who has written much of its legends and history: [Pg 87]“Northwards and southwards the broad Vale of Berkeley, rich with verdure of pasture and woodland, runs on into the far distance. To the east and southeast are the Cotswolds, rising abruptly here and there into bold, bare masses whose sides are clothed with beech woods, and anon retiring into lovely valleys which seem to invite the eye to range their recesses. On the west flows the broad estuary of the Severn, studded with many a white sail; beyond it are the dark wooded hills of the Forest of Dean, veiled by the smoke of its iron-works and collieries. Under the walls of the castle, on the north and west sides, the little town seems to nestle, as though seeking shelter and protection from the grim old fortress, which was probably its origin and has been its stay and support through so many generations.”


Berkeley has another claim to distinction aside from its castle, for here is the cottage where lived Jenner, whose discovery of vaccination placed under control the scourge that devastated Europe until quite recent times. The famous physician is buried in the churchyard. The church is of imposing dimensions, with stained glass better than the average and elaborate tombs of the Lords of Berkeley Castle. The bell tower is detached, standing some distance from the main structure.

The highway from Bristol to Gloucester is one of the finest in the Kingdom, and we soon resumed our flight over it after the short detour to Berkeley. At the Bell Hotel in Gloucester we found mild excitement prevailing among the guests and servants, some of the latter standing about in brilliant liveries[Pg 88] and powdered wigs. The manageress explained that the high sheriff and county judge were about to leave the hotel and that the gaudy attire we beheld disguised only the porter and head waiter, who had been fitted out in this manner to give due state to the occasion. During the delay in the departure of the distinguished guests we had the services of one of the gorgeous gentlemen at our luncheon. Finally the dignitaries descended the stair, the bedecked servants bowed them solemnly into a carriage, and the porter in all his glory rode away beside the driver. I dwell on this incident, trifling in itself, to illustrate the different status of such officials in England as compared with our own country. In America a dozen county judges and sheriffs might be at a hotel in a city the size of Gloucester without attracting much attention. In some respects the English way is preferable, since it invests the representatives of the law with a dignity quite lacking in the States. And in this connection we might notice that county judges in England receive salaries from three to five times as great as are paid to corresponding officials on our side, thus commanding a high average of legal talent for the bench.

The half-dozen miles between Gloucester and Tewkesbury are quickly done and we halt in front of a wide green, studded with gigantic trees, amidst which rises the huge bulk of a church almost as im[Pg 89]posing as the cathedral that has barely faded from our view. But it lacks the gracefulness and perfect proportion of the Gloucester church and perhaps its most striking exterior feature is the arch over the western windows, so high and majestic as to remind one of Peterborough. The interior is mainly ponderous Norman—rows of heavy pillars flanking the long nave and supporting massive rounded arches. The windows, however, are the lighter and more graceful creations of the Decorated Period, though the glass is mostly modern. Among the tombs is that of Prince Edward, son of Henry VI., who was cruelly slain in the battle of Tewkesbury, so fatal to the Lancastrian cause. Here, too, lies the “false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,” of Shakespeare; and Somerset, executed by his captors after the battle. The abbey was marked for destruction by Henry VIII., who was deterred from his purpose by a public subscription. Tewkesbury is rather decadent, and has many houses in brick and timber as yet quite unspoiled by modern improvement. It is pleasantly situated on the banks of the classic Avon near its junction with the Severn, and the many-arched stone bridge over the former river is unusually picturesque. Half a mile farther a second bridge crosses the Severn, which lies in broad, still reaches dotted with small craft of every description.

Over these bridges we hastened away toward[Pg 90] Hereford, following a level though sinuous road. The old-world quaintness of Ledbury attracted our attention. Its rectangular timber market cross, supported on a colonnade of wooden pillars, is unusual indeed. And nowhere else did we find finer specimens of Elizabethan half-timbered houses, though some of them were rather tawdry in recent applications of black and white paint. Such houses have become quite the rage and some owners have gone so far as to paint black stripes on common brick to represent the timbers. However, no such travesty as this is necessary in Ledbury—the town is overflowing with the genuine article—genuine though disfigured in some cases by the bad taste of the man with the paint pot. Church Lane, leading from the main street up a gentle slope to the church, is bordered with splendid examples of Elizabethan houses, quite unaltered since they left the builders’ hands. At the end of the lane one sees a graceful spire standing apart from the church, which is quite unique in design. It has four sharply pitched roofs running parallel, with odd little minarets between them. The interior has the newness of recent restoration and shows traces of different styles, from Norman to Perpendicular. Ledbury has an institute which commemorates its association with Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who passed her girlhood near the town.

[Pg 91]

At Hereford we sought the cathedral, having missed the interior during a former visit. A small, bare-headed boy in a red sweater saw us pause before the close and marked us as his legitimate prey. “I’ll take you into the Bishop’s Palace,” he said in such a matter-of-fact way that it disarmed our suspicions and we followed the youngster meekly enough, for with all our doing of cathedrals we had caught only glimpses of bishops’ palaces, usually embowered in gardens and apparently quite inaccessible. We had no opportunity to question our small guide as he rapidly led us through the palace grounds, but when he unhesitatingly rang at the door, we insisted on an explanation and learned that the bishop and his family were in London. During their absence the palace was thrown open to the public and our small friend was doubtless improving the opportunity to put cathedral visitors under obligations to himself.

We were admitted and wandered about at will. It is a rambling old house and indicates that a bishop occupies about the same plane in his domestic appointments as a prosperous member of the nobility, among whom, in fact, he takes a high rank. The house was sumptuously furnished and had several great rooms with high decorated ceilings and windows that looked out on the pleasant grounds, bright with flowers and shrubbery. The study[Pg 92] pleased us most, with its high bookshelves about the walls and tall mullioned bow windows which open almost directly on the Wye. It was easy to see why the English bishops nearly all complain that their salaries, though apparently large, are hardly adequate to the state they are expected to maintain; and why, as in the case of an American ambassador, a private fortune is often necessary to enable the recipient of such an honor to pay the legitimate expenses. Our picture will show, perhaps better than any description, the beauty of the river front of the palace, with the fine trees and cathedral tower in the background. We had only a moment to look about the cathedral, since the closing hour was nearly at hand. However, we missed little, for Hereford Cathedral has few historic associations and recent restoration gives it an almost new appearance. It is built of red sandstone, which gives the interior a rather warm tone, accentuated by highly-colored modern windows.


A pause for the night at Ludlow, where we arrived after a run of an hour or two through the rich pasture lands along the Welsh Border, gave us an opportunity of renewing our pleasant associations with that fine old town. But as we were to visit Ludlow thrice before the close of our pilgrimage, I shall leave our impressions and discoveries for later consideration.

[Pg 93]

The road from Ludlow to Bridgnorth is—or rather was—not a first-class one. Road conditions in Britain change so rapidly since the advent of the motor that one can scarcely speak of them in the present tense. As we found it, poorly surfaced, narrow and winding, it was not to be compared with the highway along the border. Bridgnorth is an ancient market town, famous for its cattle fair, which has been held yearly since 1226. The service at the Crown Inn, where we stopped for luncheon, was excellent, and the moderate charge proved Bridgnorth off the beaten tourist track, a special rate not yet being established for the infrequent motorists. It was market day and the town was crowded with country people. The ample market square was filled with booths, and goods of every description were offered for sale. A socialist orator—a common nuisance in England—was haranguing the people, who crowded the streets so closely that we could get through only with difficulty. That motors are not so common in Bridgnorth was apparent, and a crowd collected about the car in the hotel stableyard. The general expression was hostile, and many instances were related where “one of the things” had worked disaster with skittish horses.

We made our escape without entering into the discussion and dropped down the almost precipi[Pg 94]tous hill to the Severn bridge. The road is a charming one, with wooded hills rising sharply on one hand and the broad Severn lying far beneath on the other. At Shifnal a policeman, in response to our inquiry, directed us to the byway leading to the village of Tong, some three miles distant. Here, according to one well qualified to judge, is the “most interesting example of early Perpendicular architecture in Shropshire—a section famous for interesting churches.” But it is better known through its association with Little Nell in “Old Curiosity Shop,” and Dickens’ description shows that the appearance of the church before its restoration was quite different from today:

“The church was old and grey, with ivy clinging to the walls and round the porch. It was a very quiet place, as such a place should be, save for the cawing of the rooks, who had built their nests among the branches of some tall trees. It was a very aged, ghostly place. The church had been built many hundreds of years ago and once had a convent or monastery attached; for arches in ruins, remains of oriel windows, and fragments of blackened walls were yet standing.” It is still old and gray, but no longer ghostly and ruinous. It was far from lonely, for a crowd of trippers was being shown about by the caretaker when we arrived.

The tombs of Tong Church, with their effigies[Pg 95] and brasses, are remarkably perfect, and one of them must be very ancient, for it bears the figure of a crusader in chain mail. The images escaped destruction, it is said, because of the friendship of Cromwell for the Stanleys, who were adherents of the Parliament. In the church are buried several of the Vernons, whom the madcap Dorothy gave to eternal fame, for they had little else to rescue them from the oblivion that overwhelmed such a host of unremembered squires and knights. Dorothy’s sister, Margaret, is buried with her husband, Sir Edward Stanley, who came into possession of Tong Castle through his wife. The church also has a remarkable library of black-letter books, some of them almost as old as the church itself, and a stupendous bell, weighing two tons, hangs in its tower.


The village well accords with the church—a quiet place half hidden by trees and shrubbery, while the ivy and blooming vines give a touch of color to the gray walls. The tiny gardens are brilliant with old-fashioned flowers and the air is laden with their sweetness. Amidst such surroundings are scattered the pleasant old timbered cottages, with thatched roofs and diamond-paned lattice windows. The original castle has disappeared and has been replaced by a large Georgian house—a Moorish-looking mansion with domed roofs and pinnacles, yet rather picturesque, despite the fact that it out[Pg 96]rages good architectural taste. It is in ill accord with the unspoiled little village; for altogether, Tong, with its church and associations, is one of the most delightful nooks and thoroughly typical of rural England at its best.

There are other associations in the neighborhood of Tong that may attract anyone especially interested in curious bits of English history, for near at hand is Boscobel House and its Royal Oak. In my youthful days, I read in one of the old-fashioned Sunday school books—many of which were then imported from England and were written by orthodox royalists—the story of the miraculous escape of His Gracious Majesty Charles II. from the wicked rebels who sought to lay violent hands on the “Lord’s Anointed.” I looked on the honest country people of Boscobel as direct instruments of Providence in preserving the sacred life of the king, and fairly held my breath with fear and excitement when I read that the Puritan troopers rode beneath the very tree in which the monarch was concealed. Even when sadly disenchanted by the knowledge that if ever rascal escaped his due it was when Charles Stuart dodged his pursuers, the romance of the old story lingered and I always had a desire to see Boscobel House and the Royal Oak.


After leaving Tong we were only a few minutes in the shady lanes until we drew up in front[Pg 97] of the ancient manor and found it a shrine for the English tripper, though the name of no American had been registered in its visitors’ book. The house is quite unaltered and of itself would be worth a visit as an unusually good specimen of early English domestic architecture, for it dates from 1540. The walls are stuccoed between heavy oaken posts at the corners and beams at the line of the floors. The huge chimney, mullioned windows and other touches indicate that it was a gentleman’s residence. Inside there are several fine rooms, with much oak carving and paneling, though in the dining-room, rather the best of all, the oak has been painted. There are a good many portraits and relics of the king, more or less authentic, which are shown with a proper degree of reverence. In the attic floor is the entrance to a small secret chamber reputed as one of the hiding-places of the king, though no doubt originally planned for a “priest hole,” as the Puritans called such places of concealment.

The farm-wife who cared for the house, and who was glad to see visitors, had come to reverence the king as the saint that the old chronicles picture him and had a full stock of the traditions of the place. She pointed out the identical tree which sheltered his Sacred Majesty, though the prosaic and unimpressionable Baedeker declares that it vanished long ago—which we ventured to hint, only[Pg 98] to be met with proper scorn. To impress us with the goodness and generosity of the king, she related that the pension he settled on his preservers and their heirs forever is still paid to the descendants of the Penderels by an assessment on the parish—characteristic indeed of Charles, who always rewarded services if he could do so at the expense of some one else. We purchased a quaint book at the house—a facsimile reprint of an account of the events at Boscobel, published after the Restoration and dedicated to the king. As a curious example of the depraved lickspittle attitude of his flatterers toward the person of the monarch—a spirit not altogether extinct today, for that matter—I give a few sentences from the author’s dedication:

[Pg 99]

“I humbly beg your Majesties pardon, being conscious to myself of my utter incapacity to express, either your unparallel’d valour in the day of contending, or (which is a vertue far less usual for Kings) your strong and even mind in the time of your sufferings. From which sublime endowments of Your Most Heroick Majesty I derive these comforts to my self, That whoever undertakes to reach at your perfections, must fall short as well as I, though not so much. And now, on my bended knees, let me joyfully congratulate his restored Majesty, and humbly offer him this short and hearty wish, O KING, LIVE FOR EVER.”

Bidding Boscobel Manor farewell, we pause for a hasty glance at the scant ruin of White Ladies, an old-time nunnery standing quite apart in a field near by; then we retrace our way to the main road leading through Tong to Newmarket and Market Drayton. The latter town should be of considerable interest to an Englishman, since here was the home of Robert Clive, who, according to a well-known historian, “will ever be remembered as the man who laid deeply the foundations of our Indian Empire and who at a time of national despondency restored the tarnished honor of British arms.” Aside from this, there is little to interest the wayfarer save several fine Elizabethan houses and a mighty church that quite overshadows the town and country.

We are soon away for Shrewsbury, the ever charming county town of Shropshire, fleeting over as fine a road as ever tempted the winged wheels of a motor car. It is nearly deserted, straight, broad and level, and it is quite too late to fear the minions of the law—but this is not a record of miles per hour. Suffice it to say that very shortly we stop at the sign of the Raven in Old Salop.

One could never grow weary of the old town, and we saw another phase in its life and activity on a Saturday evening. The whole population seemed to have turned loose, and the brilliantly lighted main street was quite metropolitan. The quaint old[Pg 100] fronts had a rather odd and out-of-place look in the glare of the electric light; the narrow, dimly lit side streets were more in accord with the spirit of the place. The shops were crowded and on the whole seemed surprisingly up to date and well stocked for a town of thirty thousand.

The Sunday following was as quiet as the evening before had been animated, and was as perfect as an English June day can be. In the afternoon we were off for a run, with scarcely any definite point in view, though a jaunt of an hour or two brought us in front of Lichfield Cathedral just as the afternoon service was beginning. We joined the rather diminutive body of worshippers who occupied but a small part of the great church. We were perhaps quite as intent on the interior—a very epic in warm red sandstone—as upon the dreary chant of the litany. A thorough restoration has been made recently and an air of newness prevails, but no one interested in cathedral architecture will miss Lichfield—in some respects the most harmonious and best proportioned of them all. We have seen the town before, but not the large square house before which we pause, for a moment, and which bears a bronze tablet to the memory of its one-time occupant, Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin.

Our route to Shrewsbury was over one of the[Pg 101] Roman Watling streets, straight as an arrow’s flight much of the way and often bordered by giant trees. Never did the English countryside appear more charming in all our wanderings through it. There was a continual succession of green fields, vast parks, clear streams and wooded hills, with an occasional retired village—for on our return we avoided Wolverhampton with its rough streets and trams—to lend variety to the rural beauty through which we passed until we again skirted the Severn and re-entered the town.

[Pg 102]


We leave Shrewsbury by the Welsh bridge for a week among the rugged hills and valleys of Southern Wales, a country rich in relics of antiquity and romantic associations. We sweep along the fine highway to Welshpool and from thence, a little farther, to Montgomery, a decayed, out-of-the-way town in the hills. A fragment of its castle is perched high on the precipitous hill commanding the town and looking far over the vale of the serpentine Severn. The Severn, like the Wye, is the most sinuous of rivers, and there are few more inspiring prospects than its long shining folds winding through the verdant valley as seen from the castle walls. Montgomery, quiet and unheroic as it is today, has a stirring past. It took its name from Roger de Montgomerie, “Second in command in the army of his kinsman, William of Normandy,” though the grim, almost inaccessible castle antedated his possession of the town. Fierce indeed was the strife between the Normans and the wild Welsh tribes, and the fair vale of the Severn was the scene of many a bloody conflict. The castle, though with varying[Pg 103] owners and fortunes, continued a stronghold to the day of its surrender to the soldiers of the Commonwealth; after which nothing remained but blackened walls—another added to the long list of feudal fortresses “destroyed by Cromwell.”

The road southward from Newtown leads through as wild a tract of country as we saw in Britain. Not the Scotch Highlands or the hills at the headwaters of the Welsh Wye equal it in loneliness and seeming remoteness. But it is more picturesque than the localities just named, for the hills are mostly wooded, and the shallow, sparkling river which we followed—though usually far above it—runs through a narrow valley diversified in spots with trees and bits of meadow land. For eight miles out of Newtown we encountered a continually rising grade, which brought us to a narrow upland road running along the hillsides, which drop in almost precipitous slopes to the river far below. The road twists along the edge of the hills, at times in almost circular curves, and too close to the sharp declivity at its side for one’s ease of mind. At Llandrindod Wells we had passed the wildest part of the road and we noted with surprise the handsome houses and palatial hotels of a town we had scarcely heard of before, but which has recently become the queen of Welsh inland resorts. The declining sun shot his rays along the purple hilltops that encircle the[Pg 104] place and the shadows were already long in the pine-clad valleys. It was growing late, but after a hurried consultation we decided against the pretentious hotels of Llandrindod Wells.

We dashed across the arched stone bridge over the Wye at Builth Wells and brought sharply up in front of the Lion Hotel, which, standing squarely across the way, seemed to bar farther progress, and we had little choice but to stop for the night. The Lion’s accommodations are not elaborate by any means, but it was quite too late to go farther. Though Builth has mineral wells and a “pump house,” a mile from the town, there is nothing of the resort hotel about the Lion; on the contrary, it is the plainest of old-country inns, apparently a haven for fishermen rather than health seekers. Its walls were covered with the antique hand-colored prints so characteristic of English inns; its mantels were loaded with queer pieces of bric-a-brac; tallow candles lighted the bedrooms. The electric push-button had not superseded the tasseled rope by the bedside, with which one jangles a bell hung on a coiled spring in the hallway. But it is spacious and has an air of old-world comfort about it—little modern except its motor garage.

After all, we were fortunate in our pause at Builth, for we beheld the most glorious of sunsets on the long reaches of the Wye as it enters the[Pg 105] town from the west. The river dances down the valley in a series of broad, shallow rapids, resting itself here and there in a quiet lakelike pool. The sunset hues were subdued rather than brilliant; pink and salmon tints were reflected in the stream as we stood on the bridge and looked up the quiet valley, and these faded into hazy amethyst as the twilight advanced. It was a scene of quiet, pastoral beauty amidst surroundings that do not lack for legend and antiquity, and altogether left a pleasing recollection of an unattractive Welsh town which in itself has little of the picturesque.

We were away early in the morning following the Wye Valley road, with its vistas of hill and river, as far as Llyswen, where we crossed the hills to Brecon. Our stop here was short, as our route was to bring us again to this interesting old town in a few days. We did not often find a more delightful road than that down the Usk Valley to Crickhowell, Abergavenny and Caerleon. Its excellent surface and long sweeping grades might be a temptation to speed, but it is quite neutralized by the constant beauty of the scenery and interest of the country. On either hand are the low Welsh mountains, wooded to the very crest, and at times far below we caught the gleam of the river—though so shrunken as to scarcely deserve the name—leaping and flashing over its stone-strewn bed. Here[Pg 106] and there a quiet village nestled unobtrusively by the roadside; at Crickhowell we found a larger but somnolent town whose huge church is crowded with memorials of the old Welsh warriors. Even larger and more impressive is the great Priory Church at Abergavenny, whose square battlemented tower one might think had been built to withstand the sieges of the devil, even as the Welsh castles were made almost impregnable against the attack of man. No quainter town did we pass than Usk; it must have been much the same when the Conqueror sent his legions to overawe the Welsh tribes, save that its castle, then no doubt a lordly fortress, is now a decayed ivy-mantled ruin. Its greater importance in years gone by is attested by its mighty priory church, ill in keeping with the hamlet that clusters about it today. According to tradition, two kings of England were born in Usk—Richard III. and Edward IV.—and Roman remains indicate an important station on the spot almost at the dawn of the Christian Era.

But what shall one say of Caerleon, farther down the valley, now practically a suburb of Newport, where dim legends still linger to the effect that it was once King Arthur’s capital and that here was the castle

[Pg 107]

“From whose high towers they say
Men saw the goodly hills of Somerset,
And white sails flying o’er a yellow sea.”

A prosaic historian, however, declares that in all likelihood the King Arthur legend sprang from Roman ruins which some hundreds of years ago existed in Caerleon in great magnificence. At any rate, modern Caerleon has no trace of the regal capital of the early king—a bald, unattractive town close upon the Usk, now broadened into a considerable stream, dull with the taint from the manufactories on its banks.

At Newport we are entering a different order of things, brought about by the great industrial development in South Wales due to the coal and iron mines and large shipping interests. In the last century the population of the town has grown from one to seventy thousand. The old order is indeed dead here. There is no effort to attract the tourist, and the castle, almost the sole relic of antiquity, is crumbling into unhindered ruin as it sits far above the drear expanse of mud left by the receding tide. We hasten through the town—we may see a hundred such at home—and seek from a friendly policeman the road to Caerphilly, a village off in the hills which we know has no new-world counterpart.

For ten miles from Newport we wend our way over a dusty, ill-kept byroad with sharp turns and[Pg 108] steep grades, and before we come to the village we see from some distance the broken towers and battlements of Caerphilly Castle. We pass through the gateway in the straggling walls and the scene of desolation and massive ruin that lies before us is hardly paralleled in impressiveness among British castles, unless it be by Corfe in Dorset. A great round tower, perhaps fifty feet in diameter, with walls ten feet thick, split as by a thunder stroke, greets our eyes. Half of it is still standing, though leaning many feet from the vertical, and the other half lies in mighty fragments of masonry at its base. There had been four such towers, but only one is comparatively entire. The walls, though much shattered in places, still serve to give an idea of the vast extent of the ancient castle. The huge banqueting hall has been roofed and recalls in a rather pathetic way the rude magnificence of its feudal state.


But words quite fail to describe Caerphilly—such a maze of grim walls and towers, such a network of ruinous apartments, piled deep with debris, overawe and confuse one. Only the antiquarian may painfully decipher the plan of the castle and in imagination reconstruct it as it was when it stood a bulwark between warring nations. But to the ordinary beholder it will remain a mystery set in the midst of the barren hills, and he will hardly care to resolve the impressive pile into its original parts. It[Pg 109] will seem an entity to him—it is hard to think it otherwise than it appears today. Its romance is deepened by the obscurity of its history—for the story of Caerphilly has many blanks and breaks. There is no record of when it was first begun and there is doubt as to when it was finally destroyed. Some say the ruin is the work of Cromwell, and it surely seems worthy of that master of the art of wrecking castles; others declare that it was abandoned at the time of the Commonwealth, having been destroyed by Shakespeare’s “Wild irregular Glendower,” in his endless conflicts with the English.

But after all, does it not savor even more of romance that mystery enshrouds the past of the stupendous structure whose scanty remnants encircle us? Why call upon prosaic history to dispel the charm that emanates from the gray ruin, half hidden by its mantle of ivy and dashed here and there with the purple valerian and yellow wall-flower? Such would be folly indeed as we sit on the soft green turf of the court and contemplate the fantastic outlines in the glow of the sunset; when all is silence save for the angry brawls of the rooks, which have entered into full possession—reincarnations, perhaps, of the erstwhile contentious owners.

But the spell of Caerphilly dissolves and a different world surrounds us as we enter the broad[Pg 110] modern streets of Cardiff and pause before the American-looking Park Hotel. Cardiff as a village antedates the Conquest, but as a metropolis of two hundred thousand, it is quite recent. One hundred years ago it had a population of a thousand; in 1837, of ten thousand; and it is easy to see that the traces of antiquity in such a city must be few. Its future was assured when the first Marquis of Bute hazarded his entire fortune in the construction of the extensive docks from which shipments of coal and iron are now made. It was a lucky throw of the die for the nobleman, for today his grandson owns the greater part of Cardiff and is one of the wealthiest men in the Kingdom.

Cardiff Castle—forever associated with the dark fate of Prince Robert—has been replaced by a Moorish palace—or rather, an incongruous mixture in which the Moorish predominates. It is easy to gain admittance to this imposing palace, where art has been entirely unhampered by cost, and if garishness and incongruity sometimes prevail, interest is nevertheless continual. There is a fragment of the keep of the old castle in the grounds and Duke Robert’s dungeon is incorporated into the new structure—a dark, vaultlike cavity in the walls where for thirty years the unfortunate prince, the direct heir to the throne of the Conqueror, was kept a close prisoner by his brother Henry. Legend[Pg 111] has it that his eyes were put out because of an attempt to escape and that he died in the dungeon at the age of eighty years.


Cardiff’s municipal buildings are a delight; white stone palaces standing in ample grounds with wide pleasant approaches—altogether models of what civic structures ought to be. Immense and busy as it is, there is little in Cardiff to detain one on such a pilgrimage as ours, and we were away before noon on the Swansea road.

Llandaff is but three miles from Cardiff, and we reached it by a short detour. Its cathedral, recently restored, is probably the most interesting of Welsh churches excepting St. David’s. The site has been occupied by a church ever since the year 600, though the present structure dates from early Norman times. It fell into complete ruin after the time of the Commonwealth. One chronicler declares that “Cromwell’s men turned the nave into an ale house, penned calves in the choir and fed pigs at the font,” though they must have been rather unorthodox Puritans to countenance the ale house. No attempt was made to preserve the fine church from decay until about two hundred years later, and so deplorable was its condition that the task of restoration seemed a well-nigh impossible one. Still, after much difficulty, the work was happily carried out, and the twin towers—one a slender spire and its com[Pg 112]panion square-topped with Gothic finials—present a very unusual though not unpleasant effect. Inside there is a mixture of Norman and early English styles, and some beautiful Decorated work. There are three paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti that arrest attention at once—done in that artist’s best style long ere he was known to fame. The windows, though modern, are of unusual excellence, having been designed by Burne-Jones and other notable artists. Near by are the ruins of the bishop’s palace, whose fortresslike walls tell of a time when the churchman and the warrior went hand in hand. Its destruction some six hundred years ago is attributed to Owen Glendwr, whose record for castle-smashing in Wales is second only to that of Cromwell. The village of Llandaff is still rural and pretty; it is quite clear of the skirts of Cardiff, being separated from the city by the River Taff. The old stone cross still stands in front of the palace and there is now little to remind one of the big modern city near at hand, which may one day absorb its ancient but diminutive neighbor.

The Swansea road looks well enough on the map, but our recollections of it are far from pleasing. Dusty and rough, and crowded with traffic and tram lines in many places, it wends through a cheerless and often uninteresting country. It passes frequent mining towns straggling along for con[Pg 113]siderable distances and there were many drunken men reeling on the streets. It was market day at Cowbridge and the village was filled with countrymen, many of whom treated our right to the road with supreme indifference. One fellow in a broad-brimmed slouch hat that made him look like an American cowboy, and who was carrying a black bottle that might hold a gallon, saluted us with owl-like gravity and brought the car to a sharp stop by standing directly in our way.

While getting rid of our would-be acquaintance, we cast about to find a place for luncheon and soon lighted on the sign of the Bear, the sole inn, according to Baedeker. It was some distance to the next town and we decided to patronize the Bear, though its outer appearance filled us with misgivings. But if its outward aspect inspired doubt, words fail in speaking of the inside. The handbook of the Royal Automobile Club in setting forth the delights of a tour in America pays its compliments to our rural Bonifaces in this wise: “The hotel accommodation in country districts is often very poor and dirty,” all of which may be painfully true. But in competition for distinction in these particulars, the Bear would certainly not be distanced by any American rival. Perhaps the confusion and disarray was partly due to the market-day rush, but the grime and dirt that prevailed[Pg 114] everywhere seemed as ancient as the ramshackle old house itself. The dining-room was a large apartment with many long tables of boards laid on trestles—an arrangement, no doubt, to accommodate the patronage of market day—and the remnants of the dinner were still heaped upon them in dire confusion. A glance at the meal placed before us and at the dirty hands of the waiting-girl was enough—we left the provender untouched and summarily departed from the table. With difficulty we got the attention of the barmaid, who also acted as cashier, settled our score, and sallied forth dinnerless upon the King’s highway.

Threading our way carefully through the streets of Neath, several miles farther on, with little thought save to get away from the bad road and unpleasant surroundings, we caught a glimpse, down a side street, of an ivy-clad ruin of great extent. We followed the rough rubbish-covered lane that leads directly to the entrance gate of Neath Abbey, as it proved to be. There was no caretaker in charge, but two or three workmen were engaged in cleaning away the debris, which was several feet deep in many of the roofless apartments. Everything indicated that once the abbey had stood in the pleasantest of valleys on the bank of a clear, placid little river; but the coaling industry, which flings its pall over everything in Southern[Pg 115] Wales, had played sad havoc with the sylvan retreat of the old Cistercian monks. Heaps of rubbish dotted the uncared-for green about the place. Coal trains rattled on the railroad near at hand. The spot where the abbey now stands so forlornly is the heart of the suburban slums of Neath, and so isolated and forgotten is it that few pilgrims come to view its melancholy beauty. For it is beautiful—does not our picture tell the story?—the mouldering walls hung with masses of ivy, the fine doorways, the great groups of mullioned windows and the high chimneys, green to the very tops, all combine to charm the beholder despite the unlovely surroundings. The workmen told us that the abbey belonged to Lord Somebody—we have quite forgotten—and that he was going to clean up the premises and make necessary repairs. The craze now so prevalent in Britain for preserving every ancient ruin had extended even to Neath Abbey and perchance its titled owner will beautify the surroundings and the fine ruin may yet become a shrine for pilgrims—that the motor-car will bring.


Swansea—Swansy, they call it—had always brought to my mind, I hardly know why, the idea of a seaside resort town; but never was preconceived notion more erroneous. If there is a blacker, uglier, more odoriferous town of the size in the Kingdom, I do not recollect where it is. Here[Pg 116] are the greatest copper smelting works in the world and from these come the pungent, stifling odors that so unpleasantly pervade the city. Here, too, is the great steel plant of the Siemens Company and many allied industries. And yet there was a time when Swansea had at least the promise of a resort town before it, when the poet Landor declared that “Italy has a fine climate but that of Swansea is better; that it is the only spot in Britain where one may have warmth without wet.” Then it had six hundred people, but now its population exceeds one hundred thousand. We had no desire to linger and rapidly climbed the long steep hill that leads to the highland road to Carmarthen. We soon left behind us the smoke and grime of the collieries and smelting-works, and the road over which we rapidly coursed took us through a rather pretty rural section, though the hills are numerous and steep.

It was late when we came into Carmarthen, a bare, drab-colored town, but withal rather more prosperous-looking than the average small town of South Wales. The thirty-two miles to Haverfordwest swept by too rapidly to permit us to see the country other than as a fleeting panorama. Just as the twilight faded into dark we came sharply into Haverfordwest and with grave misgivings halted at the Castle Hotel. Here we must stop, willy[Pg 117] nilly, for there was nothing that promised better in many miles. But to apply the cautious Yorkshireman’s expression to the Castle Hotel, “It might be worse,” and we were willing to let the uncomfortable feather-beds and the dingy candle-lit rooms overlooking the stable yard, be atoned for by the excellent dinner that our landlady prepared at so late an hour.

We did not linger at Haverfordwest on the following morning, though perhaps the castle and the priory church might well have detained us. The castle, which crowns the terribly steep hill to which the town seems to cling somewhat precariously, has been reduced to a county jail—or gaol, as the English have it—and thus robbed of much of its romance. Still, it is an impressive old fortress, dominating the town with its huge bulk, and it has figured much in the annals of Pembrokeshire.

Haverfordwest has a history antedating the Conquest. It was undoubtedly a stopping-place for the troops of pilgrims who in early days journeyed to the sacred shrine of St. David’s, the Ultima Thule of Southern Wales, sixteen miles to the west, following a tortuous road over many steep and barren hills. The railroad ends at Haverfordwest and no doubt the facilities for reaching St. David’s a thousand years ago were quite as good as today, the daily mail cart and coach twice a week in season[Pg 118] being the only regular means of transportation. No wonder in days when strenuous journeys to distant shrines were believed to be especially meritorious, two trips to St. David’s were allowed to confer the spiritual benefit of a single pilgrimage to Rome itself.

And we ourselves are pilgrims to St. David’s shrine—not by the slow horseback cavalcade of old days, or the more modern coach, but by motor car. Our forty-horse engine makes quick work of the precipitous hill out of Haverfordwest and carries us without lagging over the dozen long steep hills on the road to the ancient town. Shortly before reaching St. David’s the road drops down to the ocean side, but the sea is hidden by a long ridge of stones and pebbles piled high by the inrushing waters. The tide was far out and we saw no finer beach on the Welsh coast than the one that lay before us as we stood on the stony drift. A great expanse of yellow—almost literally golden—sand ran down to a pale green sea, which lapped it in silvery sunlit ripples, so quiet and peaceful was the day. But one could not but think of the scope afforded for the wild play of the ocean on stormy days—how the scene must be beyond all description

“When the great winds shoreward blow,
And the salt tides seaward flow;
Where the wild white horses play,
Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.”

[Pg 119]

We left the car near the ancient stone cross in the deserted market place of St. David’s and sought the cathedral, which is strangely situated in a deep dell, the top of the Norman tower being only a little above the level of the market place. The cathedral has been recently restored, more perhaps on account of its historic past than any present need for it, but the bishop’s palace, once one of the most elaborate and extensive in the Kingdom, stands in picturesque decay, beyond any hope of rehabilitation. As to the old-time importance of St. David’s as contrasted with its present isolation, the words of an enthusiastic English writer may perhaps serve better than my own:

[Pg 120]

“Centuries ago St. David’s bishop had seven palaces for his pleasure; now he does not dwell in his own city. Of old the offerings at St. David’s shrine were divided every Saturday among the priests by the dishful, to save time in counting the coins; now a few pounds weekly is accounted a good collection total. Ancient kings came hither in state to confess their sins; in this travelling age only the enterprising tourist comes to the city at all. Eight or nine roads converged upon the little place on its headland of about three miles square, but the majority are now no better than humble weather-worn lanes. The Atlantic winds sweep across the depression by the Alan brook in which St. David’s Cathedral, the extensive ruins of the bishop’s palace, and the many other fragments of St. David’s glorious prime nestle among trees, with the humble cottages of the city itself surrounding them as if they loved them. Even the dilapidation here is so graceful that one would hardly wish it altered into the trim and rather smug completeness of many an English cathedral with its close.”

The cathedral is extremely interesting and made doubly so by an intelligent verger whom we located with considerable difficulty. Pilgrims to St. David’s were apparently too infrequent to justify the good man’s remaining constantly on duty as in larger places, and a placard forbidding fees, may have dampened his zeal in looking for visitors. But we found him at last in his garden, and he did his part well; nothing curious or important in the history of the cathedral was forgotten by him. The leaning Norman pillars, the open roof of Irish oak, the gorgeous ceiling with its blood-red and gold decorations, and many relics discovered during the restoration, were pointed out and properly descanted upon. But one might write volumes of a shrine which kings once underwent many hardships to visit, among them Harold the Saxon and his conqueror, William of Normandy. Nothing but a visit can do it justice, and with the advent of the motor car, old St. David’s will again be the shrine of an increas[Pg 121]ing number of pilgrims, though their mission and personel be widely different from the wayfarers of early days.


There is only one road out of the lonely little town besides that which brought us thither and we were soon upon the stony and uncomfortable highway to Cardigan. Here we found roadmaking in primitive stages; the broken stone had been loosely scattered along the way waiting for the heavy-wheeled carts of the farmers to serve the purpose of the steam roller. The country is pitifully barren and the little hovels—always gleaming with whitewash—were later called to mind by those in Ireland. There are no great parks with fine mansions to relieve the monotony of the scene. Only fugitive glimpses of the ocean from the upland road occasionally lend a touch of variety. At Fishguard, a mean little town with a future before it—for it is now the Welsh terminus of the Great Western Railway’s route to Ireland—we paused in the crowded market square and a courteous policeman approached us, divining that we needed directions.

“The road to Cardigan? Straight ahead down the hill.”

“It looks pretty steep,” we suggested.

[Pg 122]

“Yes, but nothing to the one you must go up out of the town. Just like the roofs of those houses there, and the road rough and crooked. Yes, this is all there is of Fishguard; pretty quiet place except on market days.”

We thanked the officer and cautiously descended the hill before us. We then climbed much the steepest and most dangerous hill we found in all the twelve thousand or more miles covered by our wanderings. To our dismay, a grocer’s cart across the narrow road compelled us to stop midway on the precipitous ascent, but the motor proved equal to the task and we soon looked back down the frightful declivity with a sigh of relief. We were told later of a traveling showman who had been over all the main roads of the Island with a traction engine and who declared this the worst hill he knew of.

Newport—quite different from the Eastern Welsh Newport—and Cardigan are quaint, old-world villages, though now decayed and shrunken. I will not write of them, though the history of each is lost in the mists of antiquity and the former possesses an imposing though ruinous castle. The road between them is hilly, but the hills are well wooded and the prospects often magnificent and far-reaching. We found it much the same after leaving Cardigan, though the country is distinctly better and more pleasing than the extreme south. The farm houses appear more prosperous, and well-cared-for gardens surround them. Nowhere did we[Pg 123] find the people kinder or more courteous. An instance occurred at Carmarthen, where we stopped to consult our maps. The owner of a near-by jewelry shop came out and accosted us. Did we want information about the roads? He had lived in Carmarthen many years and was familiar with all the roads about the town. To Llandovery? We had come too far; the road north of the river is the best and one of the prettiest in Wales. It would be worth our while to go back a mile and take this road.

Thanking him, we retraced our way through the long main street of the town and were soon away over one of the most perfect and beautiful of Welsh highways. It runs in straight broad stretches between rows of fine trees, past comfortable-looking farm houses, and through cozy little hamlets nestling amid trees and shrubbery, and seems constantly to increase in charm until it takes one into Llandovery, twenty-five miles from Carmarthen and the center of one of the most picturesque sections of Wales.

Lying among wooded hills in a valley where two clear little rivers join their waters, Llandovery—the church among the waters—is a village of surpassing loveliness. The touch of antiquity so necessary to complete the charm is in the merest fragment of its castle, a mouldering bit of wall on[Pg 124] a mound overlooking the rivers—dismantled “by Cromwell’s orders.” Delightful as the town is, its surroundings are even more romantic. The highest peaks of South Wales, the Beacon and the Black Mountains, overlook it and in the recesses of these rugged hills are many resorts for the fisherman and summer excursionist. From the summits are vast panoramas of wooded hills and verdant valleys. The view is so far-reaching that on a clear day one may see the ocean to the south; or, far distant in the opposite direction, the snow-crowned mountains of Northern Wales.

The road from Llandovery to Brecon is as fine as that to Carmarthen, though it is more sinuous and hilly. But it is perfectly surfaced and climbs the hills in such long sweeping curves and easy uniform grades that the steepest scarcely checks the flight of our car as it hastens at a thirty-five mile gait to Brecon. It is growing late—we might well wish for more time to admire the views from the hillside road. The valleys are shrouded in the purple haze of twilight and the sky is rich with sunset coloring. It has been a strenuous day for us—one of our longest runs over much bad road. We note with satisfaction the promise of a first-class hotel at Brecon, though we find it crowded almost to our exclusion. But we are so weary that we vigorously protest and a little shifting—with some[Pg 125] complaint from the shifted parties—makes room for us. We are told in awe-stricken whispers that the congestion is partly due to the fact that Her Grace the Duchess of B—— (wife of one of the richest peers in England) has arrived at the hotel with her retinue, traveling in two motor cars. She was pointed out to us in the morning as she walked along the promenade in very short skirts, accompanied by her poodle. We heard of this duke often in our journeyings, one old caretaker in a place owned by the nobleman assuring us that his income was no less than a guinea a minute! The duke owns many blocks of buildings in some of the busiest sections of London. The land occupied by them came into possession of the family through the marriage of the great-grandfather of the present holder of the title with the daughter of a dairy farmer who owned much of the quarter where London real estate is now of fabulous value—thus showing that some of the English aristocracy rose to wealth by means quite as plebeian as some of those across the water. Nowadays the penniless duke would have crossed the Atlantic to recoup his fortune, instead of turning to a rich dairyman’s daughter in his own country.

But in indulging in this more or less interesting gossip, I am forgetting Brecon and the Castle Hotel, rightly named in this instance, for the hotel owns[Pg 126] the old castle; it stands in the private grounds which lie between the hotel and the river and are beautified with flowers and shrubbery. Brecon boasts of great antiquity and it was here that Sir John Price made overtures to Henry VIII. which resulted in the union of England and Wales. The priory church is one of the largest and most important in Wales and is interesting in architecture as well as historical association. We saw the plain old house where the ever-charming Mrs. Siddons was born—a distinction of which Brecon is justly proud. And Brecon is not without its legend of Charles the Wanderer, who passed a day or two at the priory during one of his hurried marches in Wales, and the letter he wrote here is the first record we have of his despair of the success of the royal cause.

My chapter is already too long—but what else might be expected of an effort to crowd into a few pages the record of sights and impressions that might well fill a volume?

[Pg 127]


Early next day we were in Hereford, for it is but forty miles from Brecon by the Wye Valley road. It had been just one week since we had passed through the town preparatory to our tour of South Wales—a rather wearisome journey of well upon a thousand miles over some of the worst of Welsh roads. It was not strange, then, that we gladly seized the opportunity for a short rest in Hereford. There is something fascinating about the fine old cathedral town. It appeals to one as a place of repose and quiet, though this may be apparent rather than real, for we found the Green Dragon filled to the point of turning away would-be guests. The town stands sedately in the midst of the broad, level meadows which surround it on every side, and through its very center meanders the Wye, the queenliest of British rivers, as though loath to leave the confines of such a pleasant place. It is a modern city, despite its ancient history, for its old-time landmarks have largely disappeared and its crowded lanes have been superseded by broad streets. Even the cathedral has a distressingly new appearance,[Pg 128] due to the recent restoration, and a public park occupies the site of the vanished castle. But for all that, one likes Hereford. Its newness is not the cheap veneer so frequently evident in the resort towns; it is solid and genuine throughout and there are enough antique corners to redeem it from monotony. To sum up our impressions, Hereford is a place one would gladly visit again—and again.

Jotted down on our map adjacent to the Tewkesbury road were blue crosses, indicating several seldom-visited nooks and corners we had learned of in our reading and which we determined to explore. No recollection of our wanderings comes back to us rosier with romance or more freighted with the spirit of rural England than that of our meanderings through the leafy byways of Worcestershire in search of Birtsmorton, Ripple, Stanton and Strensham. One will look long at the map before he finds them and a deal of inquiry was necessary before we reached Birtsmorton and its strange moated manor, Moreton Court. No better idea could be given of the somnolence and utter retirement of the little hamlet than the words of a local writer:

[Pg 129]

“Birtsmorton is remarkable for the almost total absence of the usual signs of trade and industry; even agriculture is prosecuted within such limits as consist with leaving an ample portion of its surface in the good feudal condition of extended sheep walks and open downs. Such Birtsmorton has ever been, such it still is—but, thanks to projected railroads, such we trust it will not always be.”

The projected railroad has not yet arrived and the lover of quietude and of the truly rural will hope that it will still be long delayed. No quainter old place did we find in our long quest for the quaint than Moreton Court. Fancy a huge, rambling house, a mixture of brick and half-timber, with a great gateway over which the ancient port-cullis still shows its teeth, surrounded closely on all sides by the waters of a very broad moat and connected with the outer world by a drawbridge. Once inside the court, for you gain admission easily, you pause to look at the strange assortment of gables, huge chimneys and mullioned windows, all indicative of ancient state. Not less interesting is the interior; one finds a staircase of solid black oak with a queer, twisted newelpost, dark corridors leading to massive oaken doors, chambers with ceilings intersected by heavy beams, and a state apartment of surpassing beauty. This is a spacious room, paneled to the ceiling with finely wrought dark oak, its mullioned oriel windows overhanging the moat, which on this side widens to a lake. A marvelous chimney-piece with the arms of the ancient owners attracts atten[Pg 130]tion and the scutcheons of a dozen forgotten noblemen are ranged as a frieze around the walls.

We will not seek to learn the history of the old house, but some of its legends have a strange fascination. It is surely appropriate that Moreton Court should have its ghost—the “lily maid” who on winter nights kneels over the grave of her murdered lover in the adjoining churchyard. Her stern father had driven her from his home because of her constancy to her yeoman lover, whom he caused to be hung on the false charge of stealing a cow. The next morning the cruel sire found his daughter dead at his door, covered with the winter snow. But there is another grim old legend far better authenticated, which had its origin in a sad incident occurring at Moreton Court two or three centuries ago, and a sermon is still annually preached in the church against dueling. A pair of lovers were plighting their troth in the manor gardens when an unsuccessful rival of the happy youth chanced upon them and a quarrel ensued which led to a duel fatal to both of the combatants. The heart-broken maiden ended her days in sorrow at Moreton Court and left by will a fund to provide for this annual sermon. Another weird story they tell of the great Wolsey, in his youth chaplain to the lords of Moreton Court. A recalcitrant priest from Little Malvern Priory was condemned to crawl on all fours[Pg 131] from his cell to the summit of Ragged-Stone Hill and in his rage cursed all upon whom the shadow of the hill should afterwards fall. Wolsey was one day reading in the manor grounds when to his horror he found that the fatal shadow of the hill-crest enveloped him.

But today, for all its history and legend, Moreton Court has degenerated into an ill-kept tenement farmhouse and the banquet hall with its richly moulded plaster roof is used as a storehouse for cheese. The stagnant waters of the moat and the uncleanly dairy yard directly in front of the house accord ill with its old-time state and with our modern notions of sanitation. The church near at hand is older and quite as unique as the manor; little restoration has interfered with its antique charm. Its bench ends still show the Tudor Rose and are undoubtedly those originally placed in the church. A “sanctuary ring” in the door and an odd circular alms-chest are very unusual and the altar tombs and screens are worthy of notice. In the church are buried the ancient lords of Moreton Court, who sleep their long sleep while church and manor degenerate into plebeian hands and gradually fall into ruin.

We found it practically impossible at the close of the day to trace on the map the maze of byways we threaded before reaching Worcester, and now[Pg 132] our wanderings come back only as a general impression. We crossed the Severn at Tewkesbury but did not enter the town. A departure from the Worcester road into a narrow lane led us in a mile or two into Ripple, one of the quaintest and coziest of hamlets. Only a few thatched cottages clustered about the stone market cross of immemorial days—cottages overshadowed by no less immemorial elms, mantled with ivy and dashed with the color of rose vines. Near the cross, relics of days when there were rogues in Ripple—surely there are none now—are the oaken stocks and weather-beaten whipping-post. What a quiet, dreamy, secluded place it seems. It is hard indeed to imagine that within a circle of fifty miles is a country teeming with cities. If the village has any history we did not learn it—no great man is connected with Ripple as Tennyson with Somersby, though Ripple is not unlike Somersby. Ripple is worth a day’s journey just for itself. Only one lane leads to the village, but we left it over a wide common, passing many gates to regain the main road.


We left this again in a few miles for Strensham, a village not unlike Ripple, though larger. Its church, our “object of interest,” is situated in the fields a mile from the town. No open road leads to it, only a rough stone-strewn path through the fields. They told us, though, that we might take[Pg 133] the car to the church, and we passed through several gates before we paused in the green meadow in front of the old structure. There was no one in charge; the doors were locked and it looked as if our pains in coming were all for nothing. A man who was trimming the hedge pointed out the rectory and a little effort brought forth the rector himself, who seemed much pleased that pilgrims should be interested enough to come to his church.

Surely Strensham Church is one of the quaintest of the smaller English churches. The restorer’s hand has not as yet marred its oddity—though sorely needed, the rector said, to arrest too evident decay. The floor is of uneven flagstones, interspersed here and there with remnants of the original tiling. The high-backed oaken pews have been in place for centuries, but, alas, have been covered by a coat of yellow “grained” paint.

“I had a man come from London to give me the cost of removing the paint,” said the rector, “but he said it would be sixty pounds—quite out of the question when money is so much needed to prevent actual decay.”

The rood loft, bearing a dozen painted panels of saints—as old, perhaps, as the church, yet with colors rich and strong, is very remarkable. Each face has a characteristic expression, in most cases rather quaintly distorted, and each saint has some dis[Pg 134]tinguishing mark, as St. Anthony with his pig. There are several unusually fine brasses, but the best of these had been torn from its original grave before the altar a hundred years ago by an ambitious squire who desired to occupy this place of honor himself.

“But like the man in the scriptures who sought the head of the table only to be humiliated, the usurper is likely to be removed,” said the rector, “and the fourteenth century brass replaced over the grave.”

The little church seems lonely and poverty-stricken, but the rectory near at hand is a large, comfortable house surrounded by well-kept gardens. Strensham village has a decided advantage over its lowly neighbor, Ripple, for it is known to fame as the birthplace of Samuel Butler, the author of “Hudibras.”

A charming road leads through Upton-on-Severn to Malvern Wells and Great Malvern, but we had no leisure to contemplate its beauties; a car was bent on passing us—to which we were much averse, for the road was very dusty. We had only a glimpse of the Malverns, with their endless array of hotels, lodging-houses and other resort-town characteristics. The two towns are practically continuous and lie beneath the Malvern Hills, whose slopes, diversified with stone-walled fields, groves and farm villages, stretch away to the blue haze that nearly[Pg 135] always envelops the summits. Yet Malvern is not without a touch of antiquity—no doubt the Romans had a station here and the splendid priory church rivals some of the cathedrals in size and dignity. Only scanty ruins remain of the domestic portions of the abbey, which, with the great beautifully carved Gothic gateway, constitute all that is left of the old order besides the church. A delightful feature of the towns is the Common—when we saw it, fine stretches of greensward with many noble trees. The Common was at one time a royal domain, and Charles I. in his stresses for money undertook to sell the land to raise funds, but such rioting ensued in Malvern that a compromise was effected by surrendering two-thirds of the Chase, as the Common was then called, to the people. Though the forests have been greatly thinned by the ax, there still remains enough of sylvan beauty to give to Malvern Common an indescribable charm, and so intersected is it with sinuous roads that it was with difficulty we started aright for Worcester.

On our way to the cathedral city we passed the battlefield where the momentous encounter took place between the forces of Cromwell and the Royalists under Prince Charles—or, as his followers claimed, King Charles II. through his Scotch coronation—which resulted in such disaster to the royal[Pg 136] arms. Cromwell called it his “crowning mercy,” and indeed it ended all organized efforts against the Commonwealth while the Protector lived. Charles fled to Boscobel, as already related, and after many adventures reached France to remain until peacefully recalled after Oliver’s death.

Worcester is one of the fine old towns that tempt one to linger, no matter how often he may come. Modern improvements have swept away many of the relics of extreme antiquity; yet the Romans were certainly here, and before them the early Britons had a fortified town on the site. The streets are now lined with attractive shops and here is extensive manufacturing—few indeed are the wayfarers who escape paying tribute to “Royal Worcester” before they leave. Not a little of the charm of the town is due to the Severn, lying broad, bright and still in its very heart. We pause for tea—again the mild dissipation of the Englishman attracts us—at the Star Hotel, and as we depart from the city look lingeringly at the majestic yet graceful outlines of the cathedral towers against the evening sky.

From the Original Painting by B. W. Leader, R. A.

Coventry is but forty miles away. The King’s Head comes to our minds, though ever so faintly, as something like home, and we may reach it by the grace of the long twilight. And what a flight it is—through the most delightful section of rural[Pg 137] England, tinged with the golden glows and purple shades of a perfect summer evening. We sweep over the broad road to Droitwich, and as soon as we can solve the mystery of its tortuous streets, we enter the excellent though rather narrow and winding highway that leads through Alcester to Shakespeare’s Stratford.

It had evidently been a gala day in the old town, for the streets were thronged with people, mostly from the surrounding country, though no doubt there was a goodly number of our fellow-countrymen in the crowd, since it was now the height of the Stratford season. Under the circumstances, the “eight-mile” limit notice posted on the roads entering the town was quite superfluous; we could scarcely have violated it—so it seemed, at least—had it been only a mile an hour. Once away on the surpassing road to Coventry, the fifteen miles occupied scarce half an hour, despite the checks at Warwick and Kenilworth. Coventry was thronged with the happy “Week-End” holiday crowd, through which we slowly made our way to the King’s Head, where we were now well known and received as warm a welcome as one may find at an inn.

Sunday, by odds the best day for getting about London or the larger cities, is not so satisfactory for touring in the rural sections. The roads are[Pg 138] thronged with pedestrians, including many women and children. Not a few of the women pushed perambulators and often showed a strange perversity in crossing to the farther side of the road in front of the car. Besides, a number of the places one may desire to visit are closed on Sundays, though the tendency is constantly towards more liberality in this particular. Yet there was nothing agreeable in lounging about a hotel, and Sunday—afternoons, at least—usually found us on the road. It was very quiet in Nuneaton, the rather ugly town which George Eliot made famous as “Milby.” The farmhouse where the authoress was born and the old manor, her home for many years, were not accessible. The throngs of Sunday wayfarers made progress slow, but we reached Tamworth for late luncheon at the excellent Castle Hotel and learned that the castle—the tower of Scott’s “Marmion,” would be open during the afternoon.

Tamworth Castle is now the property of the town corporation and the grounds have been converted into a public park, which, judging from the crowds that filled it on the fine afternoon, must be well appreciated. The castle is situated on a high, apparently artificial mound. It has been put in tolerable repair and is used as a museum. So well preserved is it that one may gain a good idea of the domestic life of a feudal nobleman of the fourteenth[Pg 139] century—a life comfortless and rude, judged by our present standards. There is much paneling and elaborate wood-carving on the walls and mantels of many of the rooms, and one may be quite lost in the devious passageways that lead to odd nooks and quaint, irregular apartments. The view from the keep tower, with its massive over-hanging battlements, was indeed a lovely one. The day was perfectly clear, permitting a far-reaching outlook over the valley of the Tame, a fertile country of meadow lands and yellowing harvest fields, while westward in the distance the spires of Lichfield pierced the silvery sky.

There is, perchance, something a little incongruous in a restored and well-cared-for old-time castle such as Tamworth. It can never appeal to the imagination as does the shattered, neglected ruin crumbling away beneath its mantle of ivy and flaunting its banners of purple and yellow wall-flowers. But after all, the Tamworth idea is the right one and insures the preservation of many historic buildings which otherwise might gradually fall into complete decay. And yet one almost shudders to think of Ludlow or Raglan under such conditions.

We hastened over the broad road to Lichfield, and passing through its irregular streets, with which we are now fairly familiar, followed the river to Colwich, where we paused to admire the splendid[Pg 140] Decorated church which overshadows the quiet village. But few prettier and more truly rural byroads did we find anywhere than the one running northward from Colwich to Uttoxeter. On either side were flower-spangled hedge-rows, or in places long ranks of over-arching trees. Though the road was excellent, the trim neatness so characteristic of England was quite wanting. The tangle of wild flowers, vines and shrubbery was faintly suggestive of country roadsides in some of our Western states.

Midway we came into full view of a lonely ruined castle standing on the crest of a gently rising hill, and surrounded by a lawnlike meadow running down to the road. The ragged towers and crumbling walls stood gray and forbidding against a background of giant trees, and these were sharply outlined against the bluest of English skies. We learn later that it is Chartley Castle, which stands in a tract of ancient forest and heath land, upon which roams a herd of wild white cattle similar to those of Chillingham. Over Chartley broods the somber memory of its one-time owner, the Earl of Ferrars, who in a fit of anger murdered a steward and was hanged two centuries ago for the crime at Tyburn. It was his whim to be dressed in his wedding garments and hanged with a silken cord. He was stoic to the last and would say no more than he expressed in the misanthropic lines:

[Pg 141]

“In doubt I lived, in doubt I die,
Yet stand prepared the vast abyss to try,
And undismayed expect eternity.”

A grim old tale that fits well with the lonely fortress, standing in unguarded ruin in the mysterious forest about it.


But the day was waning and we hastened on to Uttoxeter, a town to which Nathaniel Hawthorne made a pilgrimage nearly half a century ago, attracted by the fact that it is the birthplace of Dr. Samuel Johnson. He regretted that there was no memorial of the great author in his native town, but this has since been supplied. An ugly fountain has been erected on the traditional spot where Johnson did penance, as he described in a letter to Miss Seward on his return from Uttoxeter:

[Pg 142]

“Fifty years ago, madam, on the day, I committed a breach of filial piety which has ever since lain heavy on my mind, and has not till this day been expiated. My father ... had long been in the habit of attending Uttoxeter market and opening a stall of his books during that day. Confined to his bed by indisposition, he requested me, this time fifty years, to visit the market in his place. But, madam, my pride prevented me from doing my duty and I gave my father a refusal. To do away the sin of disobedience, this day I went in a post-chaise to Uttoxeter, and going into the market at the time of high business, uncovered my head and stood with it bare an hour before the stall which my father formerly used, exposed to the sneers of the standers-by and the inclemency of the weather.”

The open road to Derby is broad, straight, smooth and level—what a combination of excellences for the motorist!—and the car skims joyously along. There are many fine estates on either hand with wide forest-dotted parks and imposing gateways. Derby is a large, rather unattractive town and we do not care to linger. Mansfield appeals more strongly to us, for Mansfield is the center of the Byron country. The road is not a pleasing one, passing through towns crowded with workingmen’s cottages and climbing steep, stony hills. At dusk we come into Mansfield and find it a larger town than we had fancied—a rather modern city built around an ancient center, in the very heart of which stands the old many-gabled Swan Inn.

[Pg 143]


The exterior of the Swan Inn, its weather-beaten gables crowded between rather shabby-looking buildings on either side, is not wholly prepossessing. We hesitate to enter the courtyard, though it is quite late, until a policeman assures us there is nothing better in the town—or in the country about, for that matter. Had we needed further assurance, we might have glanced at our trusty Baedeker to find the Swan honored with special mention as “an excellent, long-established house with winding oak stairs three hundred years old.” Once inside our misgivings vanish instantly amidst the air of cleanliness, solid comfort and pleasant antiquity that prevails. We have a large room, almost oppressive in its wealth of mahogany, and, dimly lighted by candles in ancient candlesticks, it seems pervaded with an air of ghostly mystery. There are tall-posted, canopied beds of marvelous state, mysterious oaken chests heavily carved, antique chairs, quaint old settees, and many curious things wrought in brass and copper.

Altogether, few other of the country inns had[Pg 144] quite the charm of the Swan, and very agreeable did we find the ladies who managed it. We told them of our previous futile attempts to see Newstead Abbey and they were certain that the coveted privilege would be secured for us on the following day—it had never been refused to guests of the Swan at the request of the manageress. She would write at once and would doubtless have an answer in the morning. It need hardly be said that we were glad to stay another day at the Swan and in the meanwhile visit some of the curious and delightful spots in which Derbyshire abounds. No section of England is more famed than the “Peak District,” with Haddon Hall, Chatsworth, Bakewell Church, Buxton and Dovedale; and though almost unknown to tourists, the great moorlands which stretch away to the north we found none the less interesting.

Chesterfield Church is famous for its distorted spire, strangely twisted and leaning several degrees from the vertical. Some say it was due to a whim of the designer, but local legend prefers to ascribe it to the malice of His Satanic Majesty, who chose such queer ways of venting his spite on the churches of olden time. If he indeed twisted Chesterfield’s spire, it was at least a far more obvious evidence of his ill will toward churches than the scratch of his claw still shown on the bell of St. Mary’s at Shrewsbury. But the troublesome antiquarians,[Pg 145] who have such a way of discrediting the painstaking and very satisfactory work of the legend-makers, would have us believe that the oaken timbers of the spire warped while seasoning under their coverings of lead. Be that as it may, Chesterfield Church is worthy a few minutes’ pause on account of its remarkable tombs and unusual screen mysteriously carved with emblems of the crucifixion. Less imposing is Trinity Church, though the white marble tablet on its walls with the simple inscription, “George Stephenson, died August 12, 1848, aged 68 years,” will have a fascination for the wayfarer from the remotest part of the earth, wherever the steam railroad has penetrated. The great inventor spent his declining years in retirement on a farm about a mile from Chesterfield, and his house still stands, partly hidden from the road by ancient trees.


We had no desire to visit Chatsworth House a second time, though we followed the much frequented road through the park. No section of rural England, possibly excepting the Stratford-upon-Avon country is more favored by tourists; motors, carriages and chars-a-bancs were everywhere in evidence and stirred up clouds of limestone dust, which whitened the trees and hedges and filled the sky with a silvery haze. The number of English visitors is greater than at Stratford, and the more[Pg 146] intelligent Englishman who has not visited Chatsworth is rather the exception. A thousand visitors a day is not uncommon; yet Chatsworth House is thrown open free to all every week day—surely an example of princely generosity on the part of the Duke of Devonshire.

Few who visit Chatsworth will omit Haddon Hall, and while a single visit to the modern palace may suffice, a hundred to Haddon, it seemed to us, would leave one still unsatisfied. Who could ever weary of the indescribable beauty of the ancient house or cease to delight in its atmosphere of romantic story? Nowhere in England is there another place that speaks so eloquently of the past or which brings so near to our prosaic present day the life, manners and environment of the English nobleman of three or four centuries ago. No sight in England is more enchanting than the straggling walls and widely scattered towers of Haddon, standing in gray outline against the green of its sheltering hill—the point of view chosen by the painter of our picture. Yet, with all its battlements and watch-towers, Haddon was never a fortified castle—a circumstance to which we owe its perfect preservation. The wars of the Roses and the Commonwealth left it scathless; it was an actual residence until 1730, since which time every care has been exercised to maintain it in repair. We will not rehearse the well-[Pg 147]known legends of the place, nor will we give ear for an instant to the insinuation that the romance of the fair Dorothy was fabricated less than a hundred years ago. What tinge of romance will be left to this prosaic world if these busybody iconoclasts are given heed? They cannot deny that Dorothy married John Manners, Duke of Rutland, anyway, for it was through this union that Haddon Hall passed to its present owners.

From the Original Water Color by C. F. Allbon.

After a long, loving look at her ancestral home, we turn away and follow the dusty road to Bakewell, where we stand before her tomb in the fine old church. Here in effigy she kneels facing her husband and below are the indescribably quaint figures of her four children. The caretaker, who is loudly lecturing a group of trippers, catches a glimpse of us as we enter and his practical eye differentiates instantly the American tourist. He hastens to us and begs us to wait a little—the party is large—he will soon give us his personal attention. The trippers are hurried along and dismissed with scant ceremony and we are shown about in detail that encroaches upon our time. Still, there are many things of genuine interest and antiquity in Bakewell Church and the dissertations of our guide concerning them is worth the half crown we bestow upon him.

Outside, we pause to contemplate the grand old structure. Its massive walls terminate in cas[Pg 148]tellated battlements and its splendid spire, a miniature of Salisbury, in slender yet graceful proportions, rises to a height of two hundred feet. All around is the spacious churchyard, thickly set with monumental stones, and upon one of these we noted the quaintest of the many quaint old English epitaphs we read. Happy indeed the parish clerk immortalized in the following couplets:

“The vocal Powers let us mark
Of Philip our late Parish Clerk
In Church none ever heard a Layman
With clearer Voice say Amen!
Who now with Hallelujas Sound
Like Him can make the Roofs rebound.
The Choir lament his Choral tones
The Town—so soon Here lie his bones
Sleep undisturbed within thy peaceful shrine,
Till Angels wake thee with such notes as thine.”

From Bakewell we followed one of the many Wyes to Buxton—a road scarcely equalled for beauty in the Peak District. What a contrast its wayside trees and flowers and pleasant farm cottages presented to the stony moorland road we pursued northward from Buxton! We lingered at the latter place only enough to note the salient features of the popular watering-place of the Peak. It is situated in a verdant valley, but the moorland hills,[Pg 149] bleak and barren, nearly surround it. Only three miles distant is Dovedale, famed as the loveliest and most picturesque of the many English “Dales.”

I have no words cheerless enough to tell our impressions of the great Midland Moor, through whose very heart our way led to the northward. A stony road through a gray, stony country with a stone hovel here and there, tells something of the story. We pass bleak little towns, climb many steep, winding hills, speed swiftly along the uplands, leaving a long trail of white dust-clouds in our wake—until we are surprised by Glossop, a good-sized city in the midst of the moor. It has large papermills, substantially built of stone, an industry made possible by the pure waters of the moor. The streets are paved with rough cobble-stones and the town has altogether a cheerless, unattractive look, but interesting as quite a new phase of England. In all our journeyings throughout the Kingdom we found no section more utterly bleak and dreary than that through which we passed from Buxton to Glossop. We could but imagine what aspect a country that so impressed us on a fine day in June time must present in the dull, gray English winter. How the unimpeded winds must sweep the brown moorlands! How their icy blasts must search out every crevice in the lone cottages and penetrate the cheerless-looking hovels in the villages! A small[Pg 150] native of whom we asked his recollection of winter shook his head sadly and said, “Awfully cold”; and a local proverb referring to the section has it that “Kinderscout is the cowdest place aout.”

The Sheffield road follows the hills, which towered high above us at times or again dropped almost sheer away below to a black, tumbling stream. In one place, beneath an almost mountainous hill, we had an adventure which startled us more than any other occurrence of our tour. From the summit of a hill hundreds of feet above us, some miscreant loosened a huge boulder, which plunged down the declivity seemingly straight at us, but by good fortune missed our car by a few yards. The perpetrator of the atrocity immediately disappeared and there was no chance of tracing him. Happily, we had no similar outrage to record of all our twelve thousand miles in Britain, and we pass the act as that of a criminal or lunatic. This road was built about the beginning of the nineteenth century and a competent authority expresses doubt if there is a finer, better-engineered road in England than that between Glossop and Ashopton, a village about half way to Sheffield, and adds, “or one where houses are so rare—or the sight of an inn rouses such pleasureable anticipation,” though one of these, “The Snake,” must have other attractions than its name. It is indeed a fine road, though by no means[Pg 151] unmatched by many others—the Manchester road to the northwest fully equals it, and following as it does the series of fine reservoirs lying in the valleys, is superior in scenery.

We took a short cut through Sheffield, the city of knives, razors and silver plate, caught a second glimpse of Chesterfield’s reeling spire, and swept over the hills into Mansfield just as the long twilight was fading into night.

The next morning our hostess of The Swan placed in our hands the much-sought-for pass to Newstead Abbey, and to while the time until the hour set for admittance, we went by the way of Hucknall, to visit Byron’s grave in the church whose square-topped tower dominates the town. Recent restoration gives an air of newness, for Hucknall Church, when Byron’s remains were laid before its altar, was little better than a ruin. The old man working over the graves in the churchyard knew full well our mission and leaving his task accosted us in unmistakable Irish brogue. He led us directly to the poet’s tomb, and it was with deep feeling not unmixed with awe that we advanced toward the high altar of Hucknall Church and stood silent and uncovered before the grave of Byron. On the wall over the tomb were graven two of those passages whose lofty sentiments glitter like gems—though betimes in inharmonious setting—throughout the[Pg 152] poet’s writings, which breathe the high hopes he felt in his better moments. Well may the tablet over his last resting-place bear the inspired lines:

“If that high world, which lies beyond
Our own, surviving Love endears;
If there the cherish’d heart be fond,
The eye the same, except in tears—
How welcome those untrodden spheres!
How sweet this very hour to die!
To soar from earth and find all fears
Lost in thy light—Eternity!”
“It must be so; ’tis not for self
That we so tremble on the brink;
And, striving to o’erleap the gulf,
Yet cling to Being’s severing link.
Oh! in that future let us think
To hold each heart the heart that shares;
With them the immortal waters drink,
And soul in soul grow deathless theirs!”

The second quotation is from “Childe Harold,” more positive in its tone, though less scintillating in its verbiage. In the wall near by, the gift of a Scotch admirer, is a marble profile medallion of the poet’s face, with Shelley’s characterization, “The Pilgrim of Eternity.” In the adjoining vestry the walls are covered with the graven words of many of the greatest men of the century—tributes to the[Pg 153] genius of Byron. Verily the church at Hucknall has become as a mausoleum to one denied burial in the nation’s Valhalla, and who was, in truth, almost grudged sepulture in his native soil by a large number of the Englishmen of his day. And there came to us a faint conception of the intense bitterness of the times—when the body of England’s greatest genius, dead in a forlorn but glorious cause, was brought to his native land to be greeted with a storm of hatred and a fierce protest against interment in Westminster Abbey. With little ceremony he was laid away in the church of Hucknall and pilgrims now come daily to that otherwise uninteresting and rather ugly town to do honor to the memory of Byron—certainly one of the brightest and most fascinating, if not the greatest, of English poets.

For me there was none other of the historic places which we visited more deeply tinged by its romantic associations or possessing a greater fascination than Newstead Abbey. Perhaps this feeling was intensified by our previous unsuccessful attempts to gain admission and by the recollection of the passion of my boyhood days for the verse of Byron—though indeed I have hardly read him latterly. But we were to visit Newstead at last. If we found a little difficulty—possibly the result of our ignorance—in getting permission, we could not complain of the opportunities afforded us as visitors.

[Pg 154]

From the Mansfield road we entered the gateway and drove through the stretches of forest and meadow in the great park, halting the car at the very doorway of the ancient place. We paused to view the fine facade, with its square battlemented tower at one end and the ruins of the abbey church at the other. There is little left of this latter save the east wall, once pierced by three great windows, two of which have at some time been filled in. We were conducted by the rather aristocratic housekeeper to every part of the house save the private apartments of the family, and there was no effort to hurry us along—so often the fate of the tourist in such cases.

One who is accustomed to think of Newstead Abbey as it lives, lonely and half ruinous, in the verse of Byron, who had such an intense affection for the home of his ancestors; or even one who reads Washington Irving’s interesting account of his visit to the place when owned by Col. Wildman a few years later, is hardly prepared for the modern palace into which the abbey has been transformed. The paneled halls, with their rich furnishings and rare curios from all parts of the world, and the trim, beautifully kept gardens that greet one everywhere from the windows, have little in common with the Newstead of which Byron wrote in [Pg 155]“Hours of Idleness:”

“Through thy battlements, Newstead, the hollow winds whistle,
Thou, the hall of my fathers, art gone to decay;
In thy once smiling garden, the hemlock and thistle
Have choked up the rose which once bloomed in the way.”

Still, much is unaltered and there are many relics to bring memories of the one-time noble, though unfortunate, owner, whose recklessness quite as much as his necessities compelled the sale of his ancestral estate.


Of greatest interest are the apartments which Byron himself occupied, a suite of three medium-sized rooms, which have been religiously kept through all the years just as the poet left them. The simple blue and white toilet set was his own, the bed the one he slept in, and many other articles and furnishings vividly recall the noble occupant who never returned after the sale of the abbey. Probably no one has occupied the rooms since Washington Irving slept there during the visit we have referred to and was roused in the middle of the night by a ghostly footfall in the hall—but found only Boatswain II. outside the door.

In the hall the marks of the pistol shots of the young lord and his wild companions have not been[Pg 156] effaced from the walls and in the gallery there is a collection of many mementos of the poet. Perhaps the most interesting is a section of the tree upon which he carved his name and that of his sister, Augusta—cut down because it was decaying. The gallery is largely filled with portraits of the present family, but our interest centers in the famous portrait by Phillips, in which the refined features and dignified though slightly melancholy air has invested the poet’s face with a spirituality which it probably did not possess in so great a degree.

From the house we were ushered into the gardens and were shown every nook and corner of these by the gardener in charge. They were elaborate indeed; rich with the color and perfume of the flowers which bloom so profusely in England; and there were many rare plants and shrubs. We were interested in Boatswain’s grave, with its elaborate monument and inscription in which pathos verges on the ridiculous, yet highly consistent with the misanthropic moods so often affected by Byron. In contrast with the trim neatness of the flower beds and shrubbery is the fragment of the abbey church, through which the wind whistles as it did in the poet’s day, and which has weathered the sun and rain of more than three hundred years since the heavy hand of the eighth Henry smote it into ruins. And it carries us back four hundred years farther[Pg 157] to another Henry, who built the abbey to expiate his crime of instigating the murder of Thomas a’Becket.

The history of Newstead told in brief by Irving need not occupy space in this hasty chronicle. It was with reluctance that we departed after our two hours’ sojourn. It often comes back in memory with all the color and glory of a perfect June day—the majestic hall, the abbey ruin, the gardens with their riot of coloring, the shining lake, the woodland and the meadows—an enchanted world which we left behind us as we hastened away over the road to Mansfield, where we had late luncheon at the Swan.

One will not leave the vicinity of Mansfield without a visit to Hardwick Hall and Bolsover Castle, famous for their connection with Elizabeth Spencer, “Bess of Hardwick.” Architecturally, both are disappointing; Hardwick, bald, harsh and square, like a modern concrete factory, and Bolsover, an incongruous pile cut up into small, ill-arranged apartments, by far the finest part of it in complete ruin. Hardwick is still a residence of the Duke of Devonshire and had just passed on the death of Spencer Cavendish to his nephew, who was refurnishing the house preparatory to making it his home. A bare, unhomelike place it seemed, with its great staring windows, its uneven concrete[Pg 158] floors, and its high ceilings of decorated plaster, broken and discolored in many places. Its chief historical interest centers in the fact that it was one of the many prison-houses of Mary Stuart; but her imprisonment here was far from rigorous—in fact, so considerate was the Earl of Shrewsbury of his royal ward that it roused the jealousy of his amiable spouse, the energetic Bess. Concerning this incident Miss Strickland—a rather biased historian, we must fear—takes the countess to task in vigorous style, declaring that—

“His proud and cruel wife, whose temper could not be restrained by any power on earth or in heaven, soon became jealous of the lovely and fascinating prisoner, and led her husband, a noble of exemplary gravity and a grandsire, a terrible life!”

However, as in nearly every case of the kind, there appears to have been another side to it, and in any event, there were many who took the part of the jealous wife, including, as might be expected, Queen Elizabeth herself.

The countess, besides Hardwick Hall, built the former house at Chatsworth, which has since been torn down. Bolsover was completed by her son; it is now unoccupied but maintained in good repair. It is worth a visit rather for the fine view from its towers—for it occupies a most magnificent site on a high promontory overlooking the wide vale[Pg 159] of the river—than for any interest the castle itself possesses.

The sun had sunk low when we came down from the castle walls and started for York, sixty miles away. At Worksop we were clear of the byways and the open road, invitingly smooth and level and almost free from traffic, stretched out before us. This chronicle is no record of miles per hour, and the motor enters into it only as a means to an end; yet there is no harm in saying that we had few swifter, evener flights through a more charming country than that which fleeted past us between Worksop and York. We soon caught sight of Doncaster’s dominating church tower, a fit mate for many of the cathedrals, but in our haste out of the town we missed the North Road and were soon noting the milestones to Tadcaster, famous for little else than its ales. The North Road is a trifle better in surface and a little more direct, but we had traversed it before and did not regret the opportunity of seeing a different country. The minster towers soon loomed dim in the purple light and we felt a sense of almost homelike restfulness when we were established at the Station Hotel—to our notion one of the two or three most comfortable in England.

[Pg 160]


The Minster of St. John of Beverley is easily the finest single example of Perpendicular architecture in England; in beauty and majesty of design, in proportion and in general effect—from almost any viewpoint—there is no more pleasing church in the Kingdom. We come in sight of its graceful twin towers while yet afar from the town, after a thirty-mile run from York through some of the most prosperous farming country in the shire. As we come nearer, the mass of red tiles, from which rises the noble bulk of the minster, resolves itself into the houses of the old town, whose ancient heart has lost none of its charm in the little city which has more recently grown up around it.

As we emerge from a narrow street bordered with mean little houses, the great church suddenly bursts on our view and we pause to admire its vast yet perfect proportions, its rich carvings, and the multitude of graceful pinnacles. We enter, but the caretaker receives us with little enthusiasm, though at our request he shows us about in a rather reserved manner. A card on the wall explains mat[Pg 161]ters: “Positively no fees to attendants.” Our experience has been that such a notice means cash in advance if you are to have the attention you want and which you really need if you are to see and appreciate such a church. We proceed, therefore, to get on a proper footing with our guide, and begin forthwith to learn the history, the architecture, the curiosities and the gossip of Beverley Minster. And the last is not the least interesting, for here, as at Wymondham, was a rector who with the modest salary of four hundred pounds a year had spent many thousands of his own money in restoration and repair of the minster. He had restored the intricate screen and replaced some of the images which had been broken up, yet so cleverly was the toning and coloring done that the newer work could not be distinguished from the old.

The St. John from whom the minster took its name was Archbishop of York and founded a church on the present site in the sixth century. He died in 731 and, tradition says, is buried in the minster. But Beverley’s most distinguishing historic fact is that it was one of the three “sanctuaries of refuge” in England. Here, by the strange edict of the early church, any criminal who could evade his pursuers might take refuge in the precincts of Beverley Minster and for thirty days be entitled to the protection and hospitality of the monks, after[Pg 162] which he was given a passport to sail from the nearest port to some foreign land. We saw the rude stone chair of “refuge” to which no doubt many a gasping scoundrel clung, safe, for the time, from justice by virtue of his ability to outrun his pursuers. One incident is recorded of a “Tailour of York” who had cruelly murdered his wife but who escaped punishment by taking refuge in Beverley. The only penalty inflicted was to brand the criminal on the thumb with a hot iron and to watch him closely until he sailed for France. However, all this was better than being hanged, the penalty freely administered by the civil authorities in those days, and as a consequence Beverley always had a large number of “undesirable citizens” within her borders.

There is much else of interest in the minster, though we may not linger over its attractions save to mention the Percy tomb, reputed the finest in Europe—and indeed, its rare marbles and delicate sculptures must represent a princely fortune. Nor could we have more than a passing glimpse of St. Mary’s Church, second only to the minster in importance, for Beverley is the only town in England of anywhere near its size that has the distinction of possessing two churches of really the first magnitude.

Following the road from Beverley to the coast[Pg 163] by Great Driffield and Bridlington, we had a glimpse near the latter place of the high cliff of Flamborough Head, from which the startled Yorkshiremen of a century or more ago saw the “pirate,” John Paul Jones, win his ever memorable victory over the Serapis. It is not a subject even to this day which the natives can discuss with entire equanimity.

The road closely follows the coast to Scarborough, the queen of Yorkshire watering-places. We caught frequent glimpses of the ocean, which, once out of the shadows of the towering cliffs, stretched away until its deep—almost metallic—blue faded against the silvery horizon. We soon found ourselves on the handsome main street of the new town, which brought us to the waterfront at the foot of castle hill. An old man approached us, seeing our hesitation, and informed us that the new road around the promontory, one of the finest drives in England, was open—not officially open, to be sure, and it would not be until some of the “Nobs” came and the ceremonies of a formal dedication were performed. The road had been cut in the almost sheer side of the cliff, a broad driveway overlooking the varied scenery of coast and ocean—the latter now as mild and softly shimmering as a quiet inland lake. One could only imagine, on such a day, how the sea must rage and thunder against[Pg 164] the promontory in wild weather, and we learned that storms interfered much with the building of the road, one of them causing damage estimated at fifty thousand pounds. But Scarborough persevered and the splendid driveway had just been completed. Later we had the satisfaction of learning from the newspapers that the Princess of Wales had visited Scarborough for the express purpose of formally dedicating the road with all the ceremony so dear to the English.

Scarborough is unique in its combination of the old and the modern; but few of its rivals can boast of a castle with a history reaching back to the wars with the Danish invaders. Brighton and Eastbourne, sometimes ranked with Scarborough, are quite recent and lack the distinction that comes of centuries. Scarborough Castle, perched on its mighty rock, still presents a formidable appearance and impresses one with the tremendous strength its situation and heavy walls gave it before gunpowder brought such things to naught. From the keep tower a far-reaching prospect lies beneath us; a panorama of the sea chafing on the broken coast, and to the landward are the barren moors that encircle the town. There is not much of the fortress left, but the fragments are carefully guarded from decay and in places have been somewhat restored. There is a museum near the entrance to the keep,[Pg 165] with a miscellaneous collection of relics, more or less gruesome, unearthed about the town and castle.

Few indeed are the places which bring back more delightful memories or a greater longing to return than Whitby—old, straggling, storm-beaten Whitby—climbing up its steep hill crowned by one of the most unique churches and stateliest abbey ruins in all Britain. The road which takes us from Scarborough to its ancient rival is a wild one, wandering around the black, heather-splotched hills with trying grades which make careful driving necessary. To the right the ocean still shimmers in the setting sun and in nooks on the coast we catch glimpses of fishing villages—among them Robin Hood’s Bay, called by some the most picturesque of the smaller fishing-towns in England. Long before we come into Whitby we catch sight of the skeleton of the abbey on the headland, standing almost weirdly against the evening sky. We descend a long, winding hill and find ourselves threading our way through crooked, narrow streets thronged with people who get out of the way only when they have to. Passing between rows of old houses crowding closely on either hand, we cross the bridge over the inlet and ascend the sharp hill where the hotels face the town and abbey on the opposite cliff. Thither we wend our way after dinner, just as the daylight begins to fade, and passing through the devious[Pg 166] streets thronged with fisher folk and dirty youngsters, we ascend the ninety-nine broad stone steps by which one reaches the headland.

The ruin is deserted and we find ourselves sole possessors of Whitby Abbey at an hour when the twilight softens the outlines and touches with gray and purple hues the old town at our feet and the rough moorland hills in the background, while the wide expanse of ocean glows mysteriously from the reflection of the dim-lit skies. The ruin rises abruptly from the soft greensward upon which the cows are contentedly grazing, and near at hand, gleaming darkly in the fading light, lies the fish pool, which lends much to the picturesqueness of the surroundings. The great church has fallen into complete ruin; decay is riot everywhere. Only half a century ago the central tower crashed to the earth, carrying many arches and pillars with it, and huge fragments of masonry still lie scattered about as if fallen from some thunder-riven cliff.

Whitby Abbey is rich in legend, and at such an hour we will trouble ourselves little about sober fact—let mystery wrap the ruin even as the mantle of gathering darkness; for us it shall be only the “High Whitby’s cloistered pile” of romance. We pass outside the abbey confines and pause before St. Mary’s Church, a long squat building with low tower, as bald and plain as the abbey is pretentious[Pg 167] and ornate. It was built as a rival to the abbey church in a very early day when there were bickerings between the townspeople and the monks of Whitby. In the churchyard, thick with mouldering memorials, has lately been raised a Saxon cross, inscribed to the memory of Caedmon, Father of English Letters, who “fell asleep hard by A. D. 680.”


As we return to our hotel, we are attracted into one of the old-town shops by a display of old brass and silver, and the genial proprietor at once establishes a basis of community, for has he not been in the States and has he not a brother there now? We pick up an antique lantern with dingy horn doors and green with verdigris and try the stale joke, “Made in Birmingham,” which once or twice has brought a storm of indignant protest on our heads. But it does not so excite our Yorkshire friend.

“Yes,” he said, “I had a dozen copies made of a very rare piece that came into my hands. And that accounts for the price—genuine antiques are so rare and so sought for that the original would cost you many times the copy—and after all, you would be no better off when you had it.”

We cannot resist such confidence and add further to our burden of oddities such as one gathers, willy nilly, in a tour of the nooks and corns. Whitby shops are full of jet ornaments—brooches, beads,[Pg 168] bracelets, and a thousand and one fanciful things—for jet is mined near the town,—a smooth lustrous substance whose name has come to signify the final degree of blackness.

On the following day we again wander about the old-world streets of the town, which we find ourselves loath to leave. The morning’s catch is just in at the fish-market and the finny tribes of all degrees are sorted on the pavement and sold to the townspeople. The fishing industry of Whitby is now on a small scale only; in former days it constituted a source of some wealth. The ballad writer celebrating Robin Hood’s visit to Whitby gives this very good reason:

“The fishermen more money have
Than any merchants two or three.”

And thus the sturdy highwayman found it easy to replenish his exchequer from the fat purses of Whitby folk. It may be, though, that the isolated situation of the town between the wild moors and the sea, and its good harbor for small vessels, made the occupation of smuggling especially profitable, and the wealth of the old-time citizens of Whitby may have been augmented by this practice.

From Original Painting by R. E. Morrison, Royal Cambrian Academy, 1908.

Our route out of the town led through the Cleveland Hills, the roughest and loneliest of the Yorkshire moors. We climbed many steep, rugged hills and dropped down sharp, dangerous slopes;[Pg 169] one will hardly find elsewhere in England a country scored more deeply by narrow valleys. There is little of life on the twenty-five miles of road to Guisborough, where one comes out of the moor into the wide valley of the Tees. Guisborough is a bleak little town whose beautiful surroundings have been marred by the mines. Of its ancient priory, there remains only the magnificent eastern wall, pierced nearly to the top by tall lancet windows from which the stone tracery has long since vanished. It stands in a wide meadow, half hidden by giant trees. As we glided along the highroad we caught glimpses of the wall, rising from a stretch of velvety lawn, but there was not enough of the ruin to make a nearer inspection worth while.

From Guisborough our road ran through a level, fertile farming country. We missed Middlesbrough, a manufacturing city of one hundred thousand, whose array of factory chimneys loomed up thickly across the fields, and soon came into Stockton-on-Tees, about half the size of its neighbor. It lies directly on the river, here a black, turbid stream, sullied by the factories that crowd its banks. We hesitated entering the Black Lion—it had an uncanny look that made us distrust even the infallible Baedeker. No one except the busy barmaids was to be seen. A few glances about the place confirmed our suspicions and we [Pg 170]“silently stole away.”

What a contrast to the Black Lion we found in its next-door neighbor, the Vane Arms, a fine type of the hospitable old-time English inn. Its massive, richly carved furniture would delight the heart of the connoisseur and is the pride of the stately landlady, who sat at the head of the table and treated us as though we were guests in more than the perfunctory hotel parlance. In the desert of daily hotel life one does not easily forget such an oasis as the Vane Arms. It is the only thing I can think of that might make one wish to linger in Stockton-on-Tees.

The road to Darlington is excellent, though sinuous, and we found in that bustling city little evidence of the antiquity vouched for by its twelfth century church. It is now a railway center and has been since the first passenger train in England ran over the Darlington & Stockton Railway in 1825. In going to Barnard Castle we proceeded by the way of Staindrop, though the direct road by the Tees is the best. But the route we chose passes Raby Castle, which burst on our view shortly before we reached Staindrop,—a huge gray pile, half fortress, half palace, with many square battlemented towers and crenelated turrets, all combining to fulfill the very ideal of the magnificence of feudal days.

Permission to visit the castle was easily gained from the estate agent at Staindrop. It would be[Pg 171] hard to imagine anything more imposing than Raby Castle as we saw it on that perfect July day, its vast bulk massed against the green background of the wooded hills, and in front of it a fine lawn, with many giant elms, stretching down to the road; but does not our picture tell more than any words? We noted that few of the great private parks which we had visited were so beautifully kept or had so much to please and attract; the great trees, the lawnlike sward, the little blue lakes, the herds of tawny deer—all combined to form a setting fit for one of the proudest and best preserved of the ancient homes of England.

The castle dates from the thirteenth century. By fortunate chance it escaped the ravages of war, and having been continuously occupied—indeed, there is a legend that its hearth-fire has never died out in five hundred years—it is one of the most perfect examples of its type in England. The exterior has not been greatly altered, but inside it has been much modernized and transformed into a palatial and richly furnished residence. In the library is a collection of costly books; the gallery has many rare portraits and pictures; and scattered about the different apartments are many valuable objects of art, among these the famous marble, “The Greek Slave,” by Powers, the American sculptor.

Least altered of all is the medieval kitchen,[Pg 172] which occupies the base of a large tower and is one of the most interesting features of the castle. Its immense size serves to impress upon one the proportions of feudal hospitality—that the lord of the castle must look above everything else to the good cheer of his guests. But there is a touch of modernism here, too, in the iron ranges which have superseded the great fireplace—perhaps thirty feet in width—of former times.


Raby cannot greatly boast of historic events, yet it is interesting to know that it was once the home of the younger Sir Henry Vane, who was governor of the colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1636. It was built by the Nevilles in 1370, but passed to other hands two hundred years later, when that family took part in the Catholic uprising in the north. But after all, Raby is far more interesting as a survival of the “days of roselight and romance” than would be the story of the tenure of this or that forgotten lord or earl.

Barnard Castle takes its name from the ancient fortress whose scanty ruin still looms over the town. It stands on a cliff which drops from the castle wall almost sheer to the shallow Tees beneath. One thinks first of Dickens’ association with the town and naturally enough hastens to the King’s Head, where the novelist’s room is still shown.[Pg 173] Master Humphrey’s clock, which adorned a building just opposite the hotel, has disappeared—purchased by an American, a native told us with a shade of indignation in his voice—but the town itself is little different from the one Dickens knew. He gained here much material for “Nicholas Nickleby,” though at Bowes, high on the moor to the westward, is supposed to have been the original of Dotheboys Hall.

The King’s Head we found a comfortable, well-managed, old-time inn, an excellent headquarters for excursions to the many interesting points of the vicinity. We reached here early in the afternoon, affording us time for a fifteen-mile jaunt up the Tees Valley to the High Force—they call a waterfall the “force” in Yorkshire—the largest cataract in England, we were told. It is situated in a lovely dell, and while the flood of white water pouring over the jagged cliff into the brown boiling lake below is pretty and striking, it has nothing awe inspiring or majestic about it. True, at the time, the Tees was at lowest ebb; a long drouth had reduced it to a fourth its normal volume and of course we did not see the High Force at its best. Every spot of interest in the Kingdom has its inn and it was in the farmyard of the High Force Hotel that we left the car. On returning from the falls, a deflated[Pg 174] tire prolonged our stay, encouraging acquaintance with the hotel people. The landlord, who out of the hotel season was apparently a farmer, became friendly and communicative, especially desiring us to deliver a message to his son, whom he seemed to think we might easily locate in America. Then he led us into the hotel, where a framed page from his visitors’ book showed that the Princess Ena—now Queen Victoria of Spain—and members of her suite had been guests at the High Force Hotel. The two great events in the old man’s life seemed to be the success that he considered his son was making in the States and the royal visit to his inn. I do not know which gave him the greater satisfaction.

We returned to Barnard Castle following the road north of the Tees—we had come to Middleton on the south side of the river—and we had an almost continual view of the winding stream and its pleasantly diversified valley. It was a peaceful rural landscape, glimmering in the twilight—the silver thread of the river running through it—that greeted our view during our swift flight along the upland road.

It was the end of a rather trying day and it seemed hardly possible that we had sojourned in Old Whitby only the night before—so different was[Pg 175] the scene and so varied our experiences; still, the distance in miles is not great. The restful quiet of the King’s Head and its well-served dinner were indeed a welcome close to the wanderings of the day.

[Pg 176]


During a tour such as ours one becomes impressed that a large proportion of Britain is in barren moorlands or broken hills suitable only for sheep grazing—an impression made all the stronger by the diminutive size of the country. We in America can better afford our vast tracts of waste land; we have fertile river valleys from which dozens of Englands might be carved; but it seems almost melancholy that at least a third of the Kingdom, no greater in size than an average American state, should be almost as irreclaimable as the Sahara. One does not so much note this waste in railway travel, for the steam roads usually follow the valleys and lowlands, always green and prosperous, and naturally seek out the more populous centers. But the wagon road climbed steep hills and wended its way into many retired sections where the steam engine cannot profitably go, and the motor car has opened to tourists a hitherto almost unexplored country.

We were early away for Lakeland, and for miles and miles we traversed a rather inferior road through the moors and fells. Four or five miles out[Pg 177] of Barnard Castle we passed through Bowes, a typical Yorkshire moorland town stretching some distance along the highroad. Though otherwise uninteresting enough, Bowes has one distinction of which it is far from proud, for here Charles Dickens found the school which served as the prototype of Dotheboys Hall in “Nicholas Nickleby.” The building, altered into a tenement house and its evil reputation disguised under the more pleasing name of “The Villa,” still stands at the western end of the town. In Dickens’ day it was known as Shaw’s School, and it seems that it deserved far less than many others of its class the overwhelming odium cast upon it in “Nicholas Nickleby”; and it is said that there still are people in Bowes who chafe at the injustice done their old-time townsman. But even if the Bowes school suffered some injustice, the purpose of Dickens was accomplished none the less in the reformation of the terrible juvenile workhouses which masqueraded as “schools.”

The moorland road carries us onward to Brough, a shabby, desolate town deep in the hills, with scarcely a touch of color to lighten its gray monotone. But this decayed village has its traditions; it was once famous through all England for its annual horse fair. They tell us that the fair is still held in Brough, though its fame has long since declined and it is now of only local interest.

[Pg 178]

At Appleby we enter the vale of the Eden, and bounding the western horizon we catch the first glimpse of the blue hills in whose deep depressions lie the English lakes. Appleby has a comfortable hotel, where we pause for lunch, and the appearance of the town is better and more prosperous than those we have recently passed. The square tower of the castle rises from an adjacent height and the church presents the remarkable spectacle of a hair dresser’s rooms occupying a portion of the ancient cloisters which open on the market place.

There is no finer highway in the north of England than the Carlisle road through Penrith. It pursues nearly if not quite the course of the old Roman road following the lowlands along the river—a broad white way which leads through a pleasant succession of fields and villages. We pass many ancient landmarks—on the left Brougham Castle, a red sandstone ruin splashed with ivy and creepers, and farther on to the right, Eden Hall, made famous by the ballad of Uhland.

Penrith is a busy town of ten thousand or more, seemingly improved since our visit of four years before, when it had no electric light plant. It is the starting-point for most Lake District excursions, whether by rail or coach. The railway follows the wagon road quite closely to Keswick and[Pg 179] from thence one must have some other conveyance than rail to explore the region. And is it not well enough, for what impression worth while could one gain of Lakeland from a railway car?

From Keswick we turn southward over the hills, from whose summits the landscape—every hill and vale redolent with music and memories of the “Lakers”—stretches away beneath us, the lakes set in the valleys like great flashing gems. How familiar the odd names have been made by the poets of Lakeland! Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Borrowdale, Langdale Pikes and Fells, Rydal, Grasmere, and a hundred others—all call to mind the stanzas of Southey, Coleridge, and Wordsworth.

Our road sweeps up and down the hills along the sinuous shores of Thirlmere, certainly one of the most picturesque of the bright sisterhood of English lakes, but which now serves the very practical purpose of a source of water-supply for the city of Manchester, which acquired it by purchase. This transaction has aroused the indignation of a modern lake poet who falls little short of the best traditions of his illustrious predecessors and he makes vigorous protest against the cities whose “million-throated thirst” menaces the “sacred meres” of Lakeland. But the Manchester ownership—prosaic as it may be—has not detracted from the beauty of Thirlmere[Pg 180] and many nuisances that once encumbered its shores have been abated.

But the human interest of the lakes centers around Grasmere and Rydal Water. Perchance Rydal and Grasmere and Dove Cottage are out of place in a chronicle of unfamiliar England, and yet who could write of the Lake District with no reference to the very attractions that have made it most famous? It is late as we pass the quaint old church “with bald bare tower” and pause at the cottage just off the highroad, where Wordsworth passed so many years in humble state that verged closely on poverty, as one would count it now. There is little of the picturesque in the gray-stone slate-roofed cottage, though the diamond-paned windows and the rose vines climbing to the eaves somewhat relieve the monotony of the square walls and the rude stone fence just in front. Like Shakespeare’s house, it is now the property of an association which insures its preservation in memory of the poet. It has been restored as nearly as possible to the same condition as during the occupancy of the Wordsworths, and the collection of books and other relics pertaining to them is being constantly increased.

It is easy for us to enter into the daily life of the poet as we pass through the small and rather rudely furnished rooms; and one must indeed be totally lacking in poetic instinct if he cannot feel[Pg 181] at least a touch of sympathy with the pleasant surroundings so often the theme of the great laureate of the simple life. We sit in the rustic seat which Wordsworth was wont to occupy and can look over the gray roof of the cottage to the long succession of hills stretching away until their blue outlines are silhouetted against the sunset sky—verily an inspiration even to the most matter-of-fact intellect. We know that much of Wordsworth’s best work was composed in the little garden to the rear of the cottage—a bit of earth that he loved with an intensity that has found more than one expression in his written words. And it was of the very seat upon which we sit that he wrote:

“Beneath these fruit tree boughs that shed
Their snow-white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring’s unclouded weather,
In this sequestered nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard seat!
And birds and flowers once more to greet
My last year’s friends together.”

But to know more of the simple, happy life at Dove Cottage, one may read from the letter written by Dorothy in 1800:

[Pg 182]

“We are daily more delighted with Grasmere and its neighborhood. Our walks are perpetually varied, and we are more fond of the mountains as our acquaintance with them increases. We have a boat upon the lake, and a small orchard and smaller garden, which, as it is the work of our own hands, we regard with pride and partiality. Our cottage is quite large enough for us, though very small; and we have made it neat and comfortable within doors; and it looks very nice on the outside; for though the roses and honeysuckles which we have planted against it are only of this year’s growth, yet it is covered all over with green leaves and scarlet flowers; for we have trained scarlet beans upon threads, which are not only exceedingly beautiful but very useful, as their produce is immense. We have made a lodging-room of the parlor below stairs, which has a stone floor, therefore we have covered it all over with matting. We sit in a room above stairs, and we have one lodging-room with two single beds, a sort of lumber-room, and a small low unceiled room, which I have papered with newspapers, and in which we have put a small bed.”

But come! We may not stop at Dove Cottage for the night; it would now offer but sorry cheer, and Windermere seems the most available place to tarry. We pass close to the water’s edge along Grasmere, and Rydal brings up new associations of the poet—here on the “Mount” overlooking the tiny lake is the house where Wordsworth lived in his later and more prosperous years, still the home[Pg 183] of his granddaughter, we are told. But the tripper is not welcome and the envious tangle of trees and shrubbery denies to the wayfarer even a glimpse of the house.

The beautiful situation of the Lowwood Hotel attracts our attention as we follow the margin of the lake, but we pass on in our swift race for Windermere. Coming thither we inquire of a policeman in the market place for the best hotel. He is diplomatic enough to disclaim fitness to judge, but adds confidentially, “You’ll make no mistake if you go to the Hold Hengland; that’s where the quality goes.” We thank him—praise Heaven that is all one is expected to do, or in fact, may do for a policeman in Britain!—but when we view the Old England we are seized with regret that we passed Lowwood with its magnificent frontage on the lake. It is nothing to retrace the half dozen miles to the most pretentious hotel in the Lake District, though probably far from the most comfortable, and certainly anything but the place for travelers of an economical turn. What motorist could forget or forgive the charge of half a crown for simple garage—two and one-half times the standard price in England! Still, the view of the lake from Lowwood as the evening falls compensates for many shortcomings. The twilight has transformed the limpid waters into a sheet of dull silver, touched with faint[Pg 184] rose hues from the last glow of the sun. The hills beyond stand in dark blue outline against a pale opalescent sky and the dim gray towers of Wray Castle rear their massive bulk in the foreground. There is no more enchanting view from the shores of Windermere Lake and we saw it under the most favorable conditions.

A sharp change has come over the scene when we resume our journey in the morning. A light rain is falling and the mist hovering over the lake half hides the distant hills. Gray tones predominate everywhere, contrasting cheerlessly with the brilliance of the preceding day. But such a day may be looked for as the rule rather than the exception, for the rainfall of the Lake District is much the heaviest in England. We pass Ambleside at the head of the lake, and follow the steep, ill-kept road, slippery from the rain, to Coniston, a very quiet village, nestling at the foot of the great hills at the head of Coniston Water. In the churchyard here John Ruskin was laid to rest—a Celtic cross marks the spot—and a museum in the town contains many of his sketches and manuscripts. The road southward closely follows Coniston Water, though with many slight but sharp undulations, winding through a dense growth of young trees. We pass directly under Brantwood, the plain old house where Ruskin lived, and catch glimpses of the oriel window of[Pg 185] leaded glass in which he was wont to sit at his work. The house is situated on a wooded hillside and commands a fine view of the lake. The road from Brantwood to the end of the lake is so narrow, so tortuous and so obscured by the trees that extreme caution is necessary. It is still early and the way is quite clear; we experience no trouble, yet we are glad indeed to get into the main road to Dalton and Ulverston.

Furness Abbey, once neglected and rather inaccessible, has more recently become one of the best known and most easily reached of the historic spots of northern England. Among the multifarious activities of the late Duke of Devonshire, was the building of the railroad that leads to Barrow-in-Furness and the development of that town into an important port of sixty thousand inhabitants. A few miles north of the town are the extensive ruins of Furness Abbey, a Cistercian foundation of the twelfth century, situated in a narrow valley underneath overshadowing hills from which the red sandstone used in the building was taken. The keen business sense of the duke recognized in this splendid ruin a decided factor to assist in his plan of development. The grounds surrounding the abbey were converted into a handsome park, a station was opened on the railroad just opposite, and a large hotel was built near by.

[Pg 186]

Furness Abbey, however, carefully groomed and in charge of voluble guides posted in the minutest detail of architecture and history, can hardly impress one as it did when, a lonely and crumbling ruin, it was the goal of only the infrequent visitor. Its story is a long one but of interest only to the specialist or antiquarian. To the layman the tales of the different abbeys seem wonderfully alike: founded in religious zeal, a period of penury, then of prosperity, and finally one of great power and affluence. Then came the quarrel of Henry VIII. with Rome and through the activity of the king’s agents the abbeys were plundered and partially destroyed. The direct damage inflicted by the looters was usually limited to tearing the lead from the roofs, smashing the windows, and defacing the tombs. Then followed the long ages of neglect and the decay consequent upon the rains of summer and the storms of winter. But more than all other causes that contributed to the ruin and sometimes complete effacement of the magnificent abbey buildings, was the vandalism that converted them into stone walls and hovels—every one became the neighborhood quarry and in many instances we owe the fragments that remain to the solidity that made tearing down a difficult task.

Furness Abbey is well worth a visit. While only fragments of its walls remain, excavations have[Pg 187] been made with such care and intelligence that one has the whole groundwork of the great establishment before him and may gain from it an excellent idea of monastic life. With the sole exception of Fountains, it is probably the most extensive monastic ruin in Britain, and while it lacks much of the beauty and impressiveness of its Yorkshire rival, it serves to give one a better insight into the daily life of the ancient occupants. Judged by our standard, it must have been a rigorous, cheerless life, though it probably contrasted more favorably with conditions of its own time. There is today a growing belief that, on the average, the life of the monks was not so easy nor so corrupt as apologists for the ruthless despoilation of the abbeys would have us think.

I have consumed in these vagaries the space that I should have devoted to the description of the abbey; but descriptions are easy to be had and the best of them will fall short of the interest and beauty that awaits the visitor to the charming Lancashire ruin. One may well stay a day at the hotel, than which there are few in England more comfortable, more beautifully located, or better in appointment.

We have covered three thousand miles in our wanderings and a certain weariness possesses us. We feel that a rest of a day or two will not come[Pg 188] amiss, and no place within reach appeals to us as old York. To our notion the resort towns with their ostentatious hotels—Harrogate and Ilkley are nearer—cannot compare with the cathedral city and its Station Hotel as a place where one may be at ease. The Station, with its unpretentious and prosaic name, is the property of the railway company, a great rambling building of yellow brick, unhampered by limitations of space and so arranged that every guest-room has light and air from the outside. There are spacious and finely kept grounds in front and at some distance to the rear is the station, but not close enough to disturb the quiet of the hotel.

But York is full two days’ journey at our rate of traveling; there is much to see on the way and our route will be anything but a direct one. We leave Furness Abbey in the early afternoon and the skies, which had cleared as we reached Coniston, are lowering again. The road by which we came carries us to Ulverston, and from thence we soon come to Lake Side, at the lower end of Windermere. The fine road to the north closely skirts the lake, but the trees stand so thickly that we catch only occasional glimpses of the water. A light summer shower is falling, and the fleeting sun and shadow over the mirrorlike surface, mottled with patches of gleaming blue and almost inky blackness, gives us another of the endless phases of the[Pg 189] beauty of Lakeland. For seven or eight miles we keep close to the shore, through Bowness to Windermere, two quiet little towns largely given over to hotels and lodging-houses. The great vogue of the Lake District as a resort is comparatively recent, and as a consequence one finds in these towns a mingling of the ancient and modern. Windermere, which grew out of the little village of Birthswaite, is especially accessible, being reached in about an hour by train from Manchester.

Kendal, the county town of Westmoreland, is only seven or eight miles from Windermere. Once a manufacturing center of importance, famous for its woolens and “Kendal Green,” it has been gradually transformed into a quiet, unprogressive market town. The King’s Arms Hotel is one of the most typical and interesting of the old-time buildings. It abounds in narrow hallways, odd corners, beamed ceilings and paneled rooms, all behind a very common and unpretentious exterior. We have noted many narrow alleys leading into the main street and some of these still have heavy gates at the entrance. We are told that Kendal suffered from frequent incursions of the Scots during the almost endless years of border strife, and these alleys afforded quick refuge for the citizens of the town. The gates were closed and the marauders thus confined to the main street, where they became easy targets for the men[Pg 190] behind the barriers. But no such exciting incident breaks the sleepy quiet of Kendal today, though the scene before us is not without animation. It is market day and the streets are thronged with farmers from the prosperous valley in which the town is situated. Cattle, sheep and produce seem to be the chief topics of conversation so far as we can gather from snatches of the broad North Country dialect of the men about the town.

Our stay at Kendal is a short one—we are soon away for the

“Yorkshire Dales,
Among the rocks and winding scars,
Where deep and low the hamlets lie
Beneath their little patch of sky
And little lot of stars.”

So Wordsworth describes the narrow green valleys running between the long ridges of moorland hills and opening into the wide fertile plain in the center of which stands the city of York.

We drop southward for some little distance and then turn to the east, through the very heart of the hills. Just before we come to Settle, our attention is attracted by a group of people looking curiously into a stone trough by the wayside. There are expressions of disappointment—“It’s not working today.” We are told that this is Settle’s ebbing[Pg 191] and flowing well, famous over all Yorkshire and concerning which a learned antiquary has written a book. But the well is out of commission today—the long drouth has affected the spring until for the second time in the last twenty-five years the phenomenon has ceased. Ordinarily there is a regular ebb and flow of the waters at intervals of from five to fifteen minutes. It is known that this strange spring has been in existence for hundreds of years, but the phenomenon has never been satisfactorily explained.

A little farther we find a striking instance of how a bad name will linger long after its original significance has vanished; for Hellifield was once Hell-in-the-Field, because of its reputation for wickedness. But surely this straggling little village hardly looks its formidable cognomen today. A few miles on the Skipton road brings us in view of a strangely incongruous spectacle; on one of the rough hills an oriental temple stands with huge dome and slender minarets sharply outlined against the evening sky—a sight that almost savors of enchantment in such surroundings. But it is real enough, for an eccentric Londoner who embraced Buddhism some years ago, spent a fortune in erecting this temple on the bare northern hills.

Skipton is near the head of Airedale, but we see here no sign of the multitudinous factories that[Pg 192] taint the skies and sully the waters farther down the Aire, which, if one were to follow it for twenty-five miles, would take him through the heart of Leeds. But Skipton is only a market town—fairly prosperous, for the narrow vale which surrounds it is famed as one of the richest pastoral bits of Yorkshire. The fading light accentuates the gray monotone of the old houses, and gives a further touch of cheerlessness to the somewhat bleak aspect of the place. The large market square is paved with cobblestones and around it in promiscuous array stand public and business buildings, among them two hotels, large but rather unprepossessing structures. A hurried glance at the interior of each confirms our first impressions and we bid Skipton a hasty farewell. We pass under the high walls of the old castle to reach the Ilkley road. The grim gateway is flanked by two huge embattled round towers and the walls are pierced by small mullioned windows. Skipton Castle was once the stronghold of the Cliffords, and some say the birthplace of Fair Rosamond, rather than the almost vanished castle on the Welsh Wye, which also claims the distinction—if indeed it be such. It is wonderfully well preserved—few other Yorkshire castles can vie with it in this particular—and stands today as sullen and proud as it must have seemed when the wars of the Roses swept over the land.

A narrow upland road bordered by stone fences[Pg 193] and leading through bleak hills carries us over the moorland ridge that lies between Airedale and Wharfdale, and on entering the latter, the comfortable-looking Devonshire Arms stands squarely across our way. We find it a quiet, pleasant place, seemingly half inn and half home for the family of the genial landlord. It is situated near the entrance to the grounds of Bolton Abbey and its pretty gardens to the rear slope down to the rippling Wharfe. The inn is the property of the Duke of Devonshire, to whom the abbey grounds belong, and as he was averse to Sunday visitors at the abbey, the hotel is licensed as a “six-day house.” No one may be taken in and no meal served to anyone not already a guest, on Sunday. When we left the hotel we did not expect to return, and by paying our bill practically gave up our status as guests of the Devonshire Arms. But it chanced that we were back in time for lunch and a serious discussion took place between our landlord and his assistants as to whether we might be accommodated or not. It was finally decided to stretch a point in our favor and to assume that we had not severed our relations when we left in the morning.

A desire possesses us to see something of the most retired portions of the Yorkshire moors and from Skipton we start due north over the hills. We pass Rylstone, the tiny village given to fame by[Pg 194] Wordsworth in his ballad, “The White Doe of Rylstone,” and re-enter Wharfdale at Grassington. The unbroken moors stretch northward on either side of the river—a country quite devoid of roads excepting the indifferent ones on each side of the Wharfe—to the village of Kettlewell. We follow the right-hand road, narrow, steep and winding, and altogether a severe test for a motor. Fortunately it is quite clear, for in many places vehicles could scarcely pass each other. Nothing could be harsher and bleaker than the country, even as we saw it in the prime of summer time, and the little towns seem almost a part of the country itself. It would be hard to imagine that there was ever a time when Grassington, Coniston or Kettlewell did not nestle, angular and weather-beaten, at the foot of the eternal hills, and they are as bare and as devoid of the picturesque touches of the village of southern England as the hills they lie beneath. They seem to have little excuse for existence and it is not clear to a casual visitor how the lonely moors that encircle them can afford sustenance to their inhabitants. Lead-mining once employed many people, though at present most of the mines are exhausted. Kettlewell is in the very center of the moor; no railroad comes within many miles of the town. It lies along a narrow valley—a mere cleft in the hills—that opens into Wharfdale, which itself becomes very[Pg 195] narrow here. It is a center for those who would explore the mysteries of the surrounding moors or who desire to hunt or fish in almost primal solitude. That there are many such visitors is attested by the rather good-looking inns at Kettlewell, and altogether, the village seems less forlorn than the others we have just passed. The place is not as quiet as one would expect from its retired location; coaches are discharging their loads of trippers and evidently do a thriving business.

One might find it very interesting to continue northward to Askrigg, another old and quaint moorland town, and from this to visit Wensleydale—which we do later—but our present plans do not contemplate this. The road is a very indifferent one, though probably not much worse than that over which we came. Returning from Kettlewell we take the opposite side of the Wharfe, passing at first close to the river and then beneath gray and red cliffs that ominously overhang the road. From the hill-crests at times we have wide panoramas of the dale, with the silver ribbon of the Wharfe stealing through it. The road takes us back to the village of Grassington; from thence we follow a road whose steep hills and sharp turns engage the closest attention of the driver until we reach the Devonshire Arms, as before related.

A short cut across Rumbles Moor brings us[Pg 196] to the road to Keighley, the last link in the chain of manufacturing towns stretching up the Aire from Leeds and which we must pass to reach Haworth, a name that suggests to anyone conversant with English letters the gifted but unfortunate Bronte family. Haworth has no doubt been influenced in population and activity by its busy neighbor, Keighley, but the “four tough scrambling miles” that Charles Dickens found on his visit a third of a century ago still lie between. The whole distance is a continual climb, terminating at the top of the hill, to which the old town seems to cling rather precariously. Indeed, there were few more forbidding ascents that confronted us than this terribly steep, rough street—so steep that the paving stones have been set on edge to enable the horses to climb it. It is bordered with old-world buildings, gray and weather-beaten, and forms a fit avenue to the church that dominates the town from the hill and whose massive square tower looks far over the desolate moorlands beyond it. We visited hundreds of ancient churches in England and the surroundings of many were somber and even depressing, but surely none approached Haworth churchyard in the deep, all-pervading gloom that hovered over the blackened and thickly clustered gravestones and dimmed the very sunlight that struggled through the trees which encircle the place. The hilltop is given up[Pg 197] to the churchyard and there seems to be scarcely room for another grave, so thickly stand the mouldering memorials, which mostly antedate the time of the Brontes. Out beyond, to the westward, lie the wild black and purple moors, sweeping away even higher than the church itself and ending in a long wave of hills rippling darkly against the horizon.

When “Jane Eyre,” published in 1847, astonished the literary world, few indeed would have guessed that the humble authoress lived in this lonely village, then by far lonelier and more remote than it is today; and it is still a wonder how one with such surroundings and of such limited experience was able to fathom life so deeply. But one need not be at a loss to account for the strain of melancholy that runs through the writings of the gifted sisters. The isolated, dreary village, the church and rectory, then almost ruinous, the desolate moor lands and the family tragedy—the only son dying an irreclaimable drunkard—might furnish a background of gloom even for Wuthering Heights. The sisters rest in early graves, Charlotte, the eldest, dying last, in 1855, at the age of thirty-nine. All, together with the father and unhappy brother, are buried in Haworth churchyard save Anne, who lies in St. Mary’s at Scarborough.


Haworth has shared the growth in population that has filled Airedale with manufacturing towns[Pg 198] and is now a place of some eight thousand people. It delights to honor the memory of its distinguished daughters, and the local Bronte Club has established a museum containing many interesting relics, manuscripts, and rare editions.

Retracing our route to Wharfdale, we follow the fine road through Ilkley and Otley into the broad green lowlands which surround Old York. There is no more beautiful country in England than that through which we course swiftly along. We catch continual vistas of the Wharfe, no longer a brawling moorland stream, but sleeping in broad, silvery reaches in the midst of the luxuriant meadows. We leave the river road for Harrogate, pause a few moments to renew our acquaintance with quaint old Knaresborough, and from thence we glide over twenty miles of perfect road into York.

[Pg 199]


We have spacious quarters at the Station Hotel, our lattice windows opening upon a stone balcony beyond which we can see the fountain, flowers and shrubbery of the gardens, and farther away, against the purple sky, the massive yet graceful towers of the minster. How different the Station Hotel is from the average railway hotel in America can be appreciated only by one who has enjoyed the hospitality of the one and endured the necessity of staying at the other. We feel as nearly at home as one possibly may at a hotel, and the spirit of Shakespeare’s worthy who proposes to take his ease at his inn comes upon us. We look forward with satisfaction to a short pause in the pleasant old northern capital, whose splendid church and importance in ecclesiastical antiquity are rivalled only by Canterbury.

The two chief cathedral cities of England have many points of similarity, though in population and importance York easily leads. And yet, neither has ever been thoroughly modernized; the spirit and relics of ancient days confront one every[Pg 200]where and the great churches, while dissimilar, contest for supremacy among English cathedrals. While Canterbury has the greater historic interest and the tombs of many famous warriors and churchmen, York Minster can boast of perhaps the finest windows in the world. But why should I compare or contrast these delightful towns? When one is in Canterbury there is no place like Canterbury, and when in York, why York is without a rival. And after all, neither has much claim to place in this chronicle, which is not to tell of the familiar shrines.

As might be expected, the vicinity of York abounds in magnificent country seats and historic mansions, many of which are open to the public on specified days. Of these, few are statelier than Castle Howard, the seat of the Earls of Carlisle, about fifteen miles to the northwest. It can boast of little historic interest, for it was built less than two hundred years ago, after the turmoil of internal warfare had ceased in England. It is therefore not a castle in the accepted sense, but a stately private residence designed by Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim. Though its architectural faults have been enlarged upon by critics, none can gainsay the impressiveness of the building, and Ferguson, in his “History of Modern Architecture,” declares that it [Pg 201]“would be difficult to point out a more imposing country home possessed by any nobleman in England than this palace of the Howards.” With its central dome and purely classic facade, pierced by monotonous rows of tall windows, it presents the aspect of a public building—reminding us of some of the state capitols in America—rather than a private home. Though it serves as the home of the owner a considerable part of the time, it is really a great museum, rich in paintings and other works of art which have been accumulated by the family, which has always been a wealthy one.


The surroundings of the palace are in keeping with its vast size and architectural importance. It is situated in a large park and stands on slightly rising grounds overlooking a panorama of lawnlike meadows, diversified with fine trees and shimmering lakes. Near at hand are the somewhat formal gardens, ornamented with monuments and statuary. As a show place it is in much favor with the people of England and few of the great houses are more accessible to everyone. Though we did not arrive at the regular hour for visitors, we had little difficulty in gaining admission and were shown about as though we had been welcome guests rather than the nuisances which I fear ordinary tourists are often regarded in such places. The formality of securing tickets is not required and no admission fee is charged.

While the interior of the palace is disappoint[Pg 202]ing—huge, cold, unhomelike rooms—its contents are of greatest interest. Among the pictures there are examples of English and foreign masters—Gainsborough, Lely, Van Dyke, Reynolds, and many more—and there are treasures among the rare books, bronzes and sculptures which have been collected through many generations. The present earl is himself a man of literary and artistic tastes, and numerous paintings, done by himself, hang in the galleries.

From the large low windows an enchanting view presented itself. Stretches of beautiful park, dotted with ancient trees, through which gleamed the placid waters of the lake—now like dull silver, for the sky had become overcast—sloped away from the front, while to the rear lay the gardens with all the bloom of English summer time. Out just beyond these is a many-pillared circular structure, like a classic temple, the burial-place of the Howards for many generations. Verily the surroundings almost savor of enchantment, and form, with the great mansion itself, a background of splendor and romance for the ancient family. And the very freedom with which such places are thrown open to people of all degrees does much to entrench the feudal system in England.

But we have lingered long enough at Castle Howard; the sky is lowering and gray sheets of rain are sweeping through the trees. We hasten[Pg 203] to the trusty car and are soon ensconced beneath its rainproof coverings. It is gloomy and cheerless enough, but it would have seemed far more so could we have foreseen that for the next ten days the weather would be little better. One loses much under such conditions. The roads as a rule are not affected and with a reliable motor one may keep going quite as well as on sunshiny days; but the beauty of the landscapes will often be shut out, and a succession of dull, chilly days has a decidedly depressing effect on one’s spirits.

The direct route across the moor to Thirsk is impassable—the heavy rain has made it a trail of deep mud, and we dare not attempt its precipitous “bank” under such conditions. A detour of many miles by way of Easingwold is necessary, but once on the North Road there is ample opportunity to make up for delay. Country constables will hardly be abroad in the driving rain and the motor purrs quite as contentedly and drives the car quite as swiftly as in the sunniest weather.

We splash through the streets of Thirsk with a glance at its church tower, the one redeeming feature of the town. The rain soon ceases, but a gray mist half hides the outlines of the Cleveland Hills on our right and hangs heavily over the fertile valley to our left. It is of little consequence, for there are few stretches of main road in England[Pg 204] that have less to detain the wayfarer than the forty-eight miles from York to Stockton-on-Tees. Yarm is a sleepy town overshadowed by its majestic church tower, which again impresses us how the church alone often relieves the squalidness and gives a touch of sentiment to many an uninteresting English village. At Yarm we enter the broad vale of the Tees and again traverse the wide, unattractive street of Stockton. Twenty miles farther Durham’s stately towers loom in dim outline against the gray sky; we cautiously wend our way through the crooked streets of the cathedral town and plunge into the fog that hangs heavily over the Newcastle road.

We come into Newcastle about lamplighting time, weary and somewhat bedraggled from our long flight over the rain-soaked roads. And Newcastle-on-Tyne, at the close of a rainy day, is about the last place to cheer one’s drooping spirits. The lamps glimmer dimly through the fog as we splash along the bumpy streets to the Station Hotel—and few hostelries were more genuinely welcome during all our long wanderings. Nor is Newcastle less dingy and unattractive on the following morning—the rain is still falling and black clouds of sooty smoke hang over the place. London is bad enough under such conditions, but the Tyne city is worse and our first anxiety is to get on the open road again, although[Pg 205] it chanced we were doomed to disappointment for much of the day.

Amidst all the evidences of modern industry—the coal-mining and ship-building that have made Newcastle famous—there still linger many relics of the ancient order, memorials of the day when all was rural and quiet along the Tyne. In the very midst of the factories and shipyards at Jarrow, a suburb a few miles down the river, still stands the abbey church where some thirteen hundred years ago the Venerable Bede wrote those chronicles which form the basis of ancient English history. Thither we resolved to go and found the way with no small difficulty to the bald, half-ruined structure on the bank of a small stream whose waters reeked with chemicals from a neighboring factory. Though much restored, the walls and tower of the church are the same that sheltered the monastic brotherhood in the time of Bede, about the seventh century. The present monastic ruins, however, are of Norman origin, the older Saxon foundation having quite disappeared. Several relics of Bede are preserved in the church, among them the rude, uncomfortable chair he is said to have used. Altogether, this shrine of the Father of English History is full of interest and when musing within its precincts one will not fail to recall the story of Bede’s death. For tradition has it that [Pg 206]“He was translating St. John’s Gospel into English when he was attacked by a sudden illness and felt he was dying. He kept on with his task, however, and continued dictating to his scribe, bidding him write quickly. When he was told that the book was finished, he said, ‘You speak truth, all is finished now,’ and after singing ‘Glory to God,’ he quietly passed away.”

The Tyne valley road to Carlisle on the south side of the river by the way of Hexham looks very well on the map, but the run would be a wearisome one under favorable conditions; in the face of a continual rain it is even more of a task, and no one motoring for pleasure should take this route. It is rough and hilly and runs through a succession of mining and manufacturing towns. The road follows the edge of the moorland hills to the southward, and in many places the hillsides afford wide views over the Tyne valley, but the gray rain obscured the prospect for us and only an occasional lull gave some hint of the broad vale and the purple Northumbrian Hills beyond.

Hexham is beautifully situated a mile or two below the juncture of the northern and southern branches of the Tyne, lying in a nook of the wooded hills, while the broad river sweeps past beneath. The low square tower of its abbey church looms up over the town from the commanding hill. It is one of the most important in the North Country, rivaling[Pg 207] the cathedrals in proportions, and has only recently been restored.

Here we crossed to the northern side of the river to reach the most stupendous relic of the Roman occupation of Britain—the wall which Hadrian built as a protection against the incursions of the wild northern tribes. This wall was seventy miles in length—from Tynemouth to the Solway—of an average thickness of eight feet and probably not less than eighteen feet in height. It surmounted the chain of hills overlooking the valley between Newcastle and Carlisle and was well supplied with military defenses in the shape of forts and battlemented towers. We closely followed the line of the wall from Chollerford to Greenhead, a distance of about fifteen miles. In places it is still wonderfully perfect, being built of hewn stone, well fitted and carefully laid, as it must have been to stand the storms of eighteen hundred years; but most of the distance the course of the wall is now marked only by an earthen ridge.

We had seen many relics of the Roman rule in England at Bath, at York, and also the remarkable remains of Uriconium near Shrewsbury, but nothing so impressed us with the completeness of the Roman occupation as this great wall of Hadrian. And it also testifies mutely to the great difficulty the Roman legions must have experienced in controlling the light-armed bandits from across the border, in[Pg 208] a day when the means of communication were so few and so slow. This situation continued until several hundred years later, the country along the Tyne, the narrow neck of land connecting England and Scotland, being the scene of constant turmoil and bloody strife. The wild tribes of the northern hills would sweep down into the valley, leaving a strip of burned and plundered country, and before soldiers could be gotten into the field the marauders would retreat to their native fastnesses. One might not telephone to Carlisle that the Campbells or McGregors were raiding the country, and troops could not be hurried by railroad to the scene of trouble. Before the horseback messenger could reach the authorities, the marauders would have disappeared. This condition of things the Romans sought to overcome by building the great wall and one can hardly doubt that they chose the best means at their command; but the history of those times is hazy at best and we can learn little of what was really accomplished by this stupendous undertaking.


The road through the rough Northumbrian hills is as lonely and desolate as any one will find in England. So much has it fallen into disuse that the grass and heather have almost obliterated it in places, and it appeared that little had been done to maintain it for years. The cheerless day accentuated the dreariness of the rough countryside; the rain had[Pg 209] increased to a downpour and had blown in upon us in spite of our coverings. The road was clear, fairly level and straight away; despite its rough surface we splashed onward at a swift pace through the pools and rivulets that submerged it in places.

Naworth Castle, also an estate of the Earl of Carlisle, the owner of Castle Howard, is just off the road before entering Brampton, eight or nine miles out of Carlisle. It is thrown open with the same freedom that prevails at the great Yorkshire house, but though the greater part of Naworth is far older, it has less to interest the casual visitor. Situated as it is in the very center of the scenes of border turmoil, it has a stirring history dating back to 1300, when it was built by Lord Dacre, ancestor of the Howards. The story of his elopement with the heiress who owned the estate and who was betrothed to a boy of seven, and of the subsequent pardon of the lovers by the King Edward, forms a romantic background for the stern-looking old place; but we will not recount the many legends that gathered about the castle during the long period of border warfare. Escaping almost unscathed during the castle-smashing time of Cromwell, Naworth suffered severely from fire in 1844, but the interior has since been remodeled into a fairly comfortable modern dwelling. Here again the artistic and literary[Pg 210] tastes of the owner are evident in the valuable library and the fine gallery of paintings.


Continuing our way through Naworth Park, we drop down the narrow and fearfully steep lane to the vale of the Irthing and cross over the old high-arched bridge to Lanercost Priory. The rain is still falling and no doubt the custodian has given up hope of visitors on such a day, for he cannot be found; but we discover the gardener, who secures the keys from the neighboring rectory and proves himself a capable guide. The abbey church has been restored by the Carlisles and is used by the parish as a place of worship. All about are the red sandstone ruins of a once great monastery. We wander among the mossy grave-stones and crumbling tombs,

“The ‘Miserere’ in the moss,
The ‘Mercy Jesu’ in the rain,”

calling up thoughts of a forgotten order of things. In the roofless chapel we pause before an altar-tomb, its sandstone bosses water-soaked and crumbling in the rain—it is the oldest in the abbey and covers the grave of Lord Roland de Vaux of Triermaine, an ancestor of the Dacres. The name seems familiar and the lines,

“Murmuring over the name again,
Lord Roland de Vaux of Triermaine,”

[Pg 211]

come unbidden to my mind. Ah, yes! it is in the weird music of “Christabel” that the name of the long-dead baron is interwoven, and perhaps his “castle good” was the predecessor of Naworth. There are other elaborate tombs of the Dacres and Howards, and there is a world of pathos in Sir Edward Boehm’s terra cotta effigy of little Elizabeth, daughter of the present earl, who died in 1883. It is the figure of an infant child asleep, with one little rounded arm thrown above the head and the other folded gracefully on the breast, while a quiet smile plays over the dimpled face—

But come—it is late, and Lanercost Priory would be gloomy enough on such a day without the infant figure. We retrace our way through the ivy-mantled portal and hasten through the park to the Carlisle road, which shortly brings us to the border city, and grateful indeed is the old-fashioned hospitality of the County Hotel, one of the most pleasant among the famous inns of the North Country.

[Pg 212]


Gretna Green is a disappointingly modern-looking hamlet, and has little to accord with the romantic associations that its name always brings up. In olden days it gained fame as a place where marriages were accomplished with an ease and celerity that is rivalled in our time only by the dissolution of the tie in some of our own courts. Hither the eloping couples hastened from England, to be united with scarcely other ceremony than mutual promises—witnesses were not required—and a worthy blacksmith did a thriving business merely by acting as clerk to record the marriages. The ceremony was legally valid in Scotland and therefore had to be recognized in England, according to mutual agreement of the nations to recognize each other’s institutions. But today Gretna Green’s ancient source of fame and revenue has vanished; no Young Lochinvars flee wildly across the Solway to its refuge; it is just a prosaic Scotch village, whose greatest excitement is occasioned by the motor cars that sweep through on the fine Edinburgh road.

Quite different is the fame of Ecclefechan, a[Pg 213] few miles farther—a mean-looking village closely skirting the road for a half-mile. Typically Scotch in its bleakness and angularity, it seems fittingly indeed the birthplace of the strange genius who was, in some respects, the most remarkable man of letters of the last century. Thomas Carlyle was born here in 1795 and sleeps his last sleep, alone, in the village kirkyard, for Jane Welsh is not buried by his side. As we came into the town, we paused directly opposite the whitewashed cottage where the sage was born and which is still kept sacred to his memory. The old woman caretaker welcomed us in broadest Scotch and showed us about with unalloyed pride and satisfaction. Here are gathered mementoes and relics of Carlyle—books, manuscripts and pictures; the memorial presented him in 1875, bearing the signature of almost every noted literary contemporary; the wreath sent by Emperor William in 1895 to be laid on the grave; and other things of more or less curious significance. The cottage itself is a typical home of the Scotch villager, the tiny rooms supplied with huge fireplaces and the quaint old-time kitchen still in daily use by the caretaker. The house was built by Carlyle’s father, a stonemason by trade, to whose “solid honest work” the distinguished son was wont proudly to refer on divers occasions. The motor car is awakening Ecclefechan to the fact that it is the birthplace of a[Pg 214] man famous the world over, for they told us that many visitors now came like ourselves.

There are no finer stretches of road in Scotland than the broad, beautifully engineered highway from Carlisle to Lanark, winding among the hills with grades so gentle as to be almost imperceptible. The rain, which followed us since we left Carlisle, has ceased and many panoramas of hill and valley lie before us. Oftentimes the low-hung clouds partially obscure the view, but aside from this the scene stretches away clear and sharp to the gray belt of the horizon. We are passing through the hills of Tintock Moor, which Burns has sung as

“Yon wild mossy mountains so lofty and wide
That nurse in their bosom the youth of the Clyde.”

They may have seemed “lofty and wide” to the poet who never left his native soil, but they are only low green hills. The river here is little more than a brawling brook, leaping through the stony vale.

Before we came into Edinburgh we paused at Rosslyn Chapel, perhaps, after Melrose, Abottsford and Ayr, the most frequented shrine in all Scotland. Conveyances of all kinds ply continuously from Edinburgh during the season, and though the day was not especially favorable, we found a throng at the chap[Pg 215]el. The chapel is admittedly the most elaborate Gothic building in Britain. The intricacy and minuteness of detail are simply marvelous and compel the admiration of even those who condemn the ornamentation as overdone and wearisome when studied closely; still, Sir Gilbert Scott designated Rosslyn as “a poem in stone,” and Wordsworth was so impressed that he wrote one of his finest sonnets in praise of it.

One must of course hear the oft-told story of the master workman who, puzzled over the intricate drawings of one of the carved pillars, went to Rome to consult the architect of the Vatican; but while he was away his apprentice solved the problem and when the builder returned the finished column greeted his eyes. He was so enraged at the success of the apprentice in overcoming the difficulty that he struck the poor youth dead at the foot of the pillar and was hanged for the crime. Anyway, the pillar is there and it is not at all unlikely that the master workman was hanged—a very common incident in those days.

Nor will the guide forget to remind you that in the vault beneath your feet the barons of Rosslyn for the past six hundred years have been buried, each one sheathed in full armor. And there is a tradition that on the night before the death of a lord of Rosslyn the chapel seems to be enveloped in[Pg 216] flames, a superstition upon which Scott founded his ballad of “Rosabelle.”

“Seemed all on fire that chapel proud
Where Rosslyn’s chiefs uncoffined lie,
Each baron for a sable shroud
Sheathed in his iron panoply.”

The castle near at hand is as severely plain and rude as the chapel is ornate—a bare, gloomy place that tells in itself volumes of the hard, comfortless life of the “good old days.” The apartments of the lord of the castle would be counted a sorry prison-house now—one that would bring forth a protest from the Howard Society—and what shall one say of the quarters for the serving-men and soldiers, or of the dungeon itself, where the unfortunate captives were confined? Nothing, for our powers of expression are inadequate; language itself is inadequate. Thank God, the order of things is changed!

Edinburgh, with its wealth of historic and literary associations, its famous castle and storied palaces, its classic architecture and its fine shops, will always appeal to the wayfarer, I care not how often he may come; but it is too widely known to engage this chronicle of more unfamiliar Britain.

The excellent North British Hotel, where, wonder of wonders in Britain, you may, if fortunate[Pg 217] enough, secure a heated bathroom en suite, might well tempt us to a longer stay; but we must be on, and the next afternoon finds us on the road to Queensferry. Here our motor, with two or three others, is loaded on a ferryboat which carries us across the Firth of Forth. We pass directly under the bridge, and in no other way can one get a really adequate idea of this marvelous structure, which, despite all the recent achievements of bridge-building, still holds its place as the most remarkable feat of engineering in its class.

About Loch Leven and the ruin that rears its low, square tower from the clustered foliage of its tiny islet, there will always hover an atmosphere of romance. And why should it not be thus, since the authentic feats that history records have in them more of romance than many of the wild tales of the imagination? But more than this: the halo which the genius of Scott has thrown over the spot and the song and story that have been builded on the captivity and escape of the fair prisoner of Loch Leven, continue to make the placid lake a shrine for many pilgrims.

We entered Kinross, the quiet village on the western shore of the lake, and followed the road to the boathouse, where an English motor party had just paused. Word had to be sent to the village for boatmen and I fell into conversation with[Pg 218] the Englishman who was waiting like ourselves. He had come to Loch Leven on quite a different mission from ours—old castles and legends were so commonplace to him that he hardly seemed to understand why anyone should trouble himself about them. He had come to fish and assured us that Loch Leven trout were surpassed in excellence only by those in an Irish lake where he had fished the week before. He was sending his car away and expected to pass the night in pursuing the gentle art of Ike Walton. We were told that more people came to the lake to fish than to visit the castle. The fishing rights are owned by a local club and are jealously guarded. The minimum license fee for trout, of seven shillings sixpence, with an additional charge per hour, makes the sport a somewhat expensive luxury.

But our boatmen had come and we put off for the castle. The lake averages very shallow, and it was necessary to go considerably out of the direct route, even in the light row-boat, to avoid the shoals. The bottom in many places was covered with a rank sedge, which our boatman declared fatal to fishing. It had gotten in the lake a few years ago—had come from America in some mysterious manner—and nothing could be done to check its rapid spread. While he bewailed the ravages of this interloper—from the land of the interlopers—our boat[Pg 219] grated on the pebbly shore of the island. The castle, rude and ruinous indeed, is quite small and the only part intact is the low, square tower of the keep. In this is Queen Mary’s chamber, and one may look down from the window from which she made her escape; the water then came up to the wall, though it is now several yards away. One need not rehearse the story of the queen’s imprisonment at Loch Leven by the ambitious Douglas and her romantic escape through connivance with her captor’s son, George Douglas, who succumbed to her charms as did nearly every one who came into her company. And who can wonder that the actual presence of the fair queen—whose name still enchants us after three hundred years—should prove so irresistible to those who met her face to face? Is it strange that one whose memory can cast such a glamour over the cheerless old pile that has brought us hither, should have so strongly influenced her associates?

But after all, the view from the castle tower would be worth the journey thither. All about the placid water lies gleaming like a mirror beneath the threatening sky; here we see a flock of water-fowl, so tame that they scarcely heed the fishing-boats; there a pair of stately swans, many of which are on the lake; off yonder is the old town with its spire sharp against the horizon; and near at hand, the en[Pg 220]circling hills and the low green meadows, a delightful setting for the flashing gem of the lake—all combine to make a scene that would be inspiring even if the name of Mary Stuart had never been associated with Loch Leven. As we drift away from the island, the words of a minor poet come to us, strangely sweet and appropriate:

“No warden’s fire shall e’er again
Illume Loch Leven’s bosom fair;
No clarion shrill of armed men
The breeze across the lake shall bear;
But while remains a stone of thine
It shall be linked to royal fame—
For here the Rose of Stuart’s line
Hath left the fragrance of her name!”

The Loch Leven anglers have made two or three well-appointed hotels possible in Kinross, and Green’s, where we stopped for tea, seemed ideal for its quiet retirement and old-fashioned comfort.

St. Andrews, by the sea, has a combination of attractions, of which the famous golf links will occur to many people on first thought. There is no town in Scotland more popular as a seaside resort and the numerous hotels are crowded in season. But the real merits of St. Andrews are the ones least known to the world at large—its antiquity, the ruins of its once stately cathedral, its grim though[Pg 221] much shattered castle, and its university, the oldest in Scotland—one and all, if better known, would bring many tourists who do not care for golf links and resort hotels.

Hither we came from Kinross by the way of Cupar, of which we know nothing save the old Scotch saw of a headstrong man, “He that will to Cupar maun to Cupar,” but why anyone should be so determined to go to Cupar is not clear. It is a mean-looking town with cobblestone pavement so rough that it tried every rivet in our car, and nothing could be drearier than the rows of gray slate-roofed houses standing dejectedly in the rain.

We were early risers, according to their reckoning at the Marine Hotel, and went for a walk over the golf links after breakfast. I was once a devotee of the royal game and was able to appreciate why the links by the sea are counted the finest in the world. Stretching along a sandy beach over which the tide advances and recedes incessantly, the links have unlimited sweep over the lawnlike lowlands, with just enough obstacles, mostly natural, to make a game of highest skill possible. The lowering sky of the preceding day had cleared and the keen wind swept in over the northern sea. We would have been glad to linger, if possible, but there was much to see in the old town which, in the words of[Pg 222] Thomas Carlyle, “has the essence of all the antiquity in Scotland in good clean condition.”

Directly on the ocean stands the scanty but still imposing ruin of the cathedral, which in its prime was one of the most magnificent churches in the Kingdom. Its burnished roof once shone far out at sea and a wilderness of turrets and pinnacles rose round the central tower, long since vanished. The church was for some centuries the center of ecclesiastical life in Scotland. Its dedication took place in 1318, “as a trophy and memorial of Bannockburn,” in the august presence of King Robert the Bruce. And yet it was only two hundred and forty years later that fanaticism sounded the doom of the splendid church; when the Presbyterian Council gave orders that the “monuments of idolatry” be pulled down. John Knox writes in his journal that the work went forward “with expedition,” and for many years the marvelous Gothic pile served the people of St. Andrews as a quarry.

The original outlines of the cathedral are clearly indicated on the smoothly mown greensward and give an adequate idea of its vast extent. The square tower of St. Regulus’ Chapel is the only portion intact, and this we ascend by the dark, time-worn stairs inside. From the top there is a fine view of the town, a broad sweep of glittering sea and a far-reaching prospect to the landward. The town lies[Pg 223] immediately beneath, spread out like a map, and from every direction the white country roads wander in to join the maze of crooked streets. Only a hundred yards away, on the very verge of the sea, is the castle, and we go thither when we descend. And we are rather glad to descend, for the wind blows so strongly that the tower trembles despite all its solidity—and one cannot help thinking of the Campanile at Venice.

It seems rather incongruous that the massive, martial-looking castle should originally have been the palace of the Bishop of St. Andrews, but it was in an age when the church and the military went hand in hand. It was not strange, perhaps, in Scotland, where the greater part of the murderous wars among the people sprang out of religious disputes, that the home of a church dignitary should be a stronghold, and the traditions of St. Andrews Castle tell more of violence and bloodshed than the annals of many a secular fortress.

It is a strange comment on the ferocity of the old-time churchmen that one of the most fiendish relics of “man’s inhumanity to man” is to be found in this martial bishop’s palace. Like all gruesome things, it is the center of interest, and the rheumatic old custodian had learned the attraction of the horrible for average human nature, for he greeted us with [Pg 224]“Ye’ll be wantin’ to see the bottle dungeon first.” He led us into the dark shadows of the “sea tower,” as John Knox designated it, and placing a lighted candle on a staff, dropped it into a circular opening four or five feet in diameter. Looking down, we could see a bottle-shaped cavity hewn out of the solid rock, and extending below the level of the sea. Into this the captives were lowered, and with no light and little air were left to a dreadful death, their moans drowned by the thunder of the waves overhead. Or perhaps a more merciful fate might be meted to some of them—even though it were death at the stake—for we know that George Wishart, whom Cardinal Beaton burned before the castle, had first been imprisoned in the dungeon. One almost breathes a sigh of relief to know that shortly afterwards the Presbyterians stormed the fortress and slew the inhuman cardinal, whose body was thrown into the dungeon after having been exposed from the castle walls. John Knox was one of the party that slew Beaton, and he wrote a gloating account of the incident.

But enough of these horrors, which the old custodian drones over in broad Scotch dialect. Let us go out upon the pleasant greensward of the courtyard, where there is little to remind us of the terrible deeds that have transpired within the gloomy walls. The seaward walls have nearly disappeared, for the stone was used in work on the harbor by a[Pg 225] generation that little dreamed of the value posterity would set on such historic monuments.

Following the coast road from St. Andrews to Kirkcaldy, we were seldom out of sight of the sea, and passed through several little fishertowns centuries old and quite looking their years. Largo is the birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, whose experiences on a desert island gave DeFoe the idea of “Robinson Crusoe.” The house where he was born still stands and a stone figure of Crusoe is set just in front in a niche in the wall. In all of these coast towns an old-world quiet seemed to reign save in the “long town” of Kirkcaldy, through whose dirty streets, thronged with filthy children, we carefully picked our way. Here we turned inland, passing a succession of towns whose rubbish-covered streets were full of drunken miners—it was Saturday afternoon—who stumbled unconcernedly in front of the car; and not a few drunken women joined in the yells which often greeted us. The road was very bumpy and it is a far from pleasant or interesting route until the neighborhood of Dunfermline is reached.

Dunfermline should be a household word in America, for here is the modest slate-roofed cottage where our great dispenser of free libraries was born and which he purchased some years ago. He is a sort of fairy godfather to Dunfermline and has[Pg 226] showered on the town more wealth than the canny burghers know what to do with. We had a letter of introduction to one of the linen manufacturers—linen-making is the great industry of Dunfermline—and he insisted upon showing us about the town. He pointed out some of the benefactions of Mr. Carnegie, who, besides the regulation free library, gave a large sum toward the restoration of the abbey church and to establish a public park. Still more, he has set aside a sum of no less than half a million sterling, the income from which is to be spent under the direction of a board of trustees in promoting “the higher welfare, physical, intellectual and moral, of the inhabitants.” So great are his benefactions that Dunfermline has been afforded the opportunity of becoming a model town in every respect, though the experiment is still in its infancy.

The abbey church is one of the most interesting in Scotland and is the shrine of all patriotic Scots, for here is buried King Robert the Bruce, whose name is cut in huge letters in the balustrade surrounding the tower. The nave of the church has been restored and is now used as a place of worship, and there remains enough of the ruined monastery to give the needed touch of the picturesque.

On leaving the town we were somewhat at a loss for the road, and asked a respectable-looking[Pg 227] gray-whiskered gentleman if he could direct us to Alloa.

“Oh,” said he, “there are twa roads to Alloa—do you wish the upper or the lower road?”

We expressed our indifference; we only wanted the best.

“I’m no saying which is the best,” he said cautiously.

“But which would you take yourself?” we insisted.

“Since you must be sae particular, I’d say that I should tak the lower road.”

“Let it be the lower road, then,”—but he held up his hand at the first click of the starting lever.

“Since you have decided to tak the lower road, I might say that I live a few miles out on this, and seeing there’s an empty seat, perhaps ye’ll be willing to give me a ride.” It was now clear why he had been so non-communicative. He did not wish to unduly influence us for his own advantage; but after it was all decided on our own motion, he felt free to avail himself of the opportunity to be relieved of a tiresome walk. A few miles out he pointed to a neat residence—his home—and our canny Scotsman left us.

The next day we were in Edinburgh, after passing the night at Stirling. It had rained fitfully[Pg 228] during our tour in Fife and a gray mantle still hung over “Auld Reekie,”—though perhaps the name is less appropriate than when Scott first used it. The Fifeshire roads averaged bad—rough and stony and often quite slippery from the rain. We were glad to pass the day in our comfortable rooms at the North British watching the rain-soaked city from our windows. But it was no better on the following day and we were soon on the North Berwick road in the same discouraging drizzle. Nothing could be more depressing under such conditions than the succession of wretched suburban towns through which we passed for some distance out of Edinburgh. The streets, despite the rain, were full of dirty children and bedraggled women, and we were glad to come into the open road along the sea. It is a road that must afford magnificent views in fine weather, but for us it wended along a wind-swept, chocolate-colored ocean that was quickly lost in the driving rain. There are numerous seaside resorts between Portobello and North Berwick, though the latter is the more popular and is supplied with palatial hotels.

It was just beyond here that we caught sight of the object of our pilgrimage along the Firth—the old Douglas castle of Tantallon, which, mirrored in Scott’s heroic lines, excited and dazzled our youthful imagination. It stands drearily on a bleak[Pg 229] headland and was half hidden in the gray gusts of rain when

“Close before us showed
His towers, Tantallon vast.”

But its vastness has diminished since the day of which Scott wrote, for much of the castle has disappeared and the sea wall which ran along the edge of the rock has crumbled away. Still, the first impression one gets of the shapeless ruin as he crosses the waterless moat and rings the bell for admission is one of majesty, despite the decay riot everywhere. We waited long, almost despairing of gaining entrance, when the keeper appeared at the gate. He was not expecting visitors on such a stormy day and had been drowsing over old papers in his little booth inside.


There is not much to remind one of the fiery parting between Douglas and Marmion so vividly described by Scott. But a mere shell of the castle remains; the draw-bridge of the ringing lines is gone, and the inner walls from which the retainers might have watched the fierce encounter have long since crumbled away. The courtyard where the doughty warriors engaged in their altercation is covered with grasses and starred with wild flowers. About all that remains as it was in the day of Douglas is the dungeon hewn from the solid rock beneath the[Pg 230] walls. We wandered about the roofless, dripping ruins as the old keeper told us the story of the castle and pointed out the spots that have been identified with the song of Scott. Here stood the battlements from which the disconsolate Clare contemplated the desolate ocean—here was the chapel where Wilton was armed by old Archibald—

But the rain has ceased and blue rifts are coming in the sky. As we look oceanward, a mountainlike bulk rises dimly out of the dull waters. “Bass Rock,” says our guide, “and a peety it is that the sea is too rough for the boots today.” A weird island it is, less than a mile in circumference, rising to the stupendous height of four hundred feet, though it little looks it from Tantallon—our guess was less than a quarter as great. In old days the rock was quite inaccessible; it was early fortified and in later times was made a prison. Here was confined a group of the persecuted Covenanters, who lay in the damp, dark dungeons, “envying the freedom of the birds”—the gulls and wild geese that wheel almost in clouds about the rock. Dreadful times these—but to appreciate the real horror of such a fate one would have to stand on Bass Rock when the storm walks abroad and the wild German Ocean wraps the rock in the white mist of the angry waves. The rock serves little purpose now save as a site for a lighthouse, built a few years ago, and as a resort[Pg 231] for curious tourists, who can visit it when the weather allows landing to be made.

Turning southward through the Lammermuir Hills, we find at the little village of East Linton a surprise in the Black Lion, another of those homelike and wonderfully comfortable Scotch inns which offer genuine cheer to the wayfarer. Here a fire dances in the grate and our luncheon is one that the more pretentious hotels do not equal. We resume our flight under leaden skies through the low gray mists that sweep the hilltops. Haddington is famed for its abbey church, very old and vast in bulk. Jane Welsh Carlyle is buried in its choir—for she chose to lie beside her father in her long sleep.

The moorland road to Melrose is finely engineered, following the hills in long sweeping lines with few steep grades or sharp curves. In places it is marked by rows of posts so that it may be followed when covered by the snows. Melrose Abbey, familiar from former visits, claims only a passing glance, as we hasten on to its old-time rival at Jedburgh, which is now somewhat off the beaten path and few know of the real interest of the town or the extent and magnificence of its abbey ruin, whose massive tower and high walls, pierced by three tiers of graceful windows, dominate any distant view of the place.

We brought the car up sharply on the steep[Pg 232] hillside in front of the abbey and an old woman in a nearby cottage called to us to “gang right in—ye’ll find the keeper in the gardens.” And we did—surprised him at work with his flowers—a hale old man of seventy with bushy hair and beard, silver white, and a hearty Scotch accent that wins you at once. He dropped his garden tools and came forward with a quick, elastic step, greeting us as if we had been expected friends. When he espied the lady member of our party, he began to cut roses until he had made up quite a bouquet, which he gallantly presented her. Then he began a panegyric on Jedburgh and the abbey, assuring us that a stay of several days would be necessary to get even an idea of the ruins and the historic spots of the vicinity. His face visibly fell when we told him we must be off in an hour.

“Ah,” said he, “sic haste, sic haste to get back to England! Ye should bide longer in old Scotia and learn her history and her people. I grant ye England is a great nation, but the Scotch is the greater of the two.”

Then his enthusiasm got the better of him, and forgetting the abbey he began to point out the beauties of the valley of the Jed, over which we had a far-reaching view, and to recite snatches of the poetry of Burns appropriate to the scene. I had thought that I knew a little of the beauty and spirit[Pg 233] of Burns, but it all seemed to take on new meaning from the lips of the quaint old Scotsman. It was worth a journey to Jedburgh, and a long one, to hear him recite it. Then he began to point out the things of interest about the abbey, and so many they seemed to him that he had difficulty in choosing which he should enlarge upon during our short stay. He showed us the Norman doorway, the most elaborate in the Kingdom, so remarkable that the Marquis of Lothian, the owner of the abbey, has caused an exact duplicate to be made in the wall near by to preserve the wonderful detail nearly obliterated in the original. He led us among the great pillars, still intact, springing up into the mighty arches of the nave, and pointed out the gracefulness of the numerous windows with slender stone mullions. There are many notable tombs, among them one with a marble effigy of the late Marquis of Lothian, a really superb work of art, by George Frederick Watts. Nor did he forget the odd gravestones in the churchyard with epitaphs in quaint and halting verse, telling of the virtues of the long-forgotten dead, of one of whom it was declared:

“Here Lyes a Christian Bold and True,
[Pg 234] An antipode to Babel’s Creu,
A Friend to Truth, to Vice a Terrour;
A Lamp of Zeal opposing Errour.
Who fought the Battels of the Lamb,
Of Victory now Bears the Palm.”

And there is another stone with a threat as grim as that of the Bard of Avon, for the epitaph expresses the wish that

“Whoever Removes this Stone
Or causes it to be
May he die the last of
All his Friends.”

The stone lies flat, above the grave, and our guide declared,

“I had an unco hard time to get a photo of it for my book, for I did na fancy moving it, to be sure.”

“Your book? And have you written a book?” He was off in a moment and with almost boyish enthusiasm brought forth a neat volume, “Poetry and Prose of Walter Laidlaw, F. S. A.,” and we found on later perusal that it has not a little of true poetic fire, of which an example or two may not be amiss. It is not strange that one so full of patriotism and admiration for his native Scotland should deprecate the tendency of her people to emigrate to foreign lands, and he expostulates as follows:

[Pg 235]

“What ails the folk? they’ve a’ gane gyte!
They rush across the sea,
In hope to gather gear galore,
’Way in some far countree.
“But let them gang where’er they may,
There’s no’ a spot on earth
Like ancient Caledonia yet,
The land that ga’e them birth.
“They ha’e nae grand auld Abbeys there,
Or battered castles hoary,
Or heather hills, or gow’ny glens,
That teem wi’ sang and story.
“Nae doot they’ve bigger rivers there,
An’ broad an’ shinin’ lakes;
I wadna leave oor classic streams
Or burnies, for their sake.
“The lonely cot, the bracken brae,
The bonnie milk-white thorn;
The bent frae where the lav’rock springs
To hail the dawn o’ morn.
“The thrashy syke, the broomy knowe,
The gnarled auld aik tree,
Gi’e joys that riches canna buy
In lands ayont the sea.”

But not all of his fellow-countrymen feel so about it, and numbers of them all over the world are[Pg 236] “gathering gear” year after year with proverbial thriftiness, though they seldom lose their love for old Caledonia, or forget—to quote Mr. Laidlaw again:

“the thatched cot with ivy clad,
The hame o’ boyhood’s happy days.
“Content were we with but-and-ben
A divot shiel, a broom-thatched byre;
We got our eldin frae the glen,
In winter kept a roosin’ fire.
“There my kind mother sang sae cheery
While she was spinnin’ on the wheel;
The winter nights we ne’er did weary,
We liked her sangs and cracks sae weel.
“When faither us’d oor shoon to mend,
Auld Border tales he wad relate;
Or read ben in the other end
The grave ‘Night Thoughts’ or ‘Fourfold State.’”

Besides the poems, the book contains several addresses and essays which show the bent of Mr. Laidlaw’s mind, among them, “Robert Burns,” “Dr. John Leyden,” and “The Songs of Scotland.”

Besides his literary achievements, we learned that Mr. Laidlaw is a Fellow of the Scotch Antiquarian Society and a recognized authority on the antiquities of Jedburgh and vicinity. We left him[Pg 237] with regret, and hope that some day our wanderings may enable us to renew his acquaintance.

We followed the Teviot road to Kelso, a few miles away, where the substantial and comfortable appearance of the Cross Keys induced us to stop for the night—after an investigation by which we assured ourselves that conditions within accorded with outward appearances, a practice to which we had become more and more partial.

Kelso is situated at the junction of the Teviot and the Tweed, and is surrounded by an exceedingly picturesque country. A fine view is afforded from the stone-arched bridge over the Tweed—westward the Eildon Hills, beloved of Scott, are visible in the blue distance, and, nearer at hand, the moorish facade of Floors Castle, against a mass of somber woods. The river is greatly broadened here and the meeting of its waters with the Teviot is celebrated in song and story. Of Kelso Abbey little remains save the shattered central tower and a few straggling walls. It was one of the smaller ecclesiastical establishments of Scotland founded by David I. in 1130 and was burned by the English during the invasion of 1545.

Closely following the beautiful Tweed road, which for the greater part of the distance to Coldstream keeps in full view of the river, we re-cross the border quite early on the following morning.

[Pg 238]


Flodden Field lies adjacent to the road which we pursued southward from the Tweed, but there is little now to indicate the location of the historic battlefield. Song and story have done much to immortalize a conflict whose results were not especially important or far-reaching—the world knows of it chiefly through the vivid lines of “Marmion.” It is not worth while to follow our hasty flight to the south; we are again bound for the Yorkshire moors and the distance we must cover ere night will not admit of loitering.

At Chillingham Castle we see the herd of native wild cattle made famous by Landseer’s picture. The keeper led us into the park within a hundred yards of a group of animals, which have become so tame that they took no notice of our presence. The cattle are white, with long curving horns and black muzzles, and the purity of the stock is carefully maintained. The herd is believed to be a direct descendant of the wild ox of Europe, the progenitor of our domestic cattle, and its preservation is quite analogous to the few remaining buffaloes in Amer[Pg 239]ica. The animals retain many peculiarities of their wild state; one of the most remarkable of these is the habit which the young calves have of dropping suddenly to the ground when surprised. The bulls are often dangerous and it is related that King Edward, when Prince of Wales, killed one of the animals, arresting with a well-aimed shot its savage charge toward him. Evidently the present prince did not care to repeat his father’s experience, for he had been at Chillingham a few days before and declined the opportunity offered him by the Earl of Tankerville of slaying the king of the herd.

“’E said ’e ’adn’t time,” explained the keeper with an air of disgust that showed he looked on the prince’s excuse as a mere subterfuge.

On a former occasion we had failed to gain admittance to Alnwick Castle, owing to a visit of the king the previous day. We were more successful this time and were conducted through the portions usually shown to visitors, chiefly the remaining parts of the old fortress—the “castle good” that in early days “threatened Scotland’s wastes.” The home of the warlike Percys for many generations, few castles in England have figured more in ballad and story and few have been the center of more stirring scenes. But the old castle is almost lost in the palace of today, upon which the late Duke of Northumberland is said to have expended the[Pg 240] enormous sum of three hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling. The walls at present enclose an area of five acres and it would be hard to imagine more pleasing vistas of forest and meadowland than those which greet one from the battlements. The great park is worthy of the castle, and taken altogether there is perhaps no finer feudal estate in England.

From Alnwick to Newcastle and from Newcastle to Darlington the road is familiar; only an occasional town or village interferes with our flight to the southward. Newcastle, with its bad approaches and crowded, slippery streets, causes the greatest loss of time, but we make it up on the broad, level stretch of the Great North Road to Darlington. At Richmond we leave the lowlands and strike directly across the rough moorland road to Leyburn in Wensleydale.

Here in the remote Yorkshire hills is one of the most romantic bits of England and within a comparatively small space is much of historic interest. Shall we go to Bolton Castle, which we see off yonder, grim and almost forbidding in the falling twilight? Its jagged towers and broken battlements are outlined darkly against the distant hills; indeed, in the dim light it seems almost a part of the hills themselves. We follow the rough narrow road that dwindles almost to a footpath as it approaches the[Pg 241] village. Our car splashes through a rapid, unbridged little river, climbs the steep bank, creeps through tangled thickets, until it emerges into the main street of Castle Bolton, if a wide grass-grown road with a few lichen-covered cottages on either side may be dignified with the name. At the end of the street, towering over the slate-roofed hovels about it, is the castle, its walls in fairly good repair and three of its four original towers still standing. The fourth crumbled and collapsed from the battering Cromwell gave it—for even this remote fortress in the moors did not escape the vengeance of the Protector.


Bolton Castle, nevertheless, is better preserved than the majority of those which have been abandoned to ruin; the great entrance hall, some of the stairways, the room of state and many chambers are still intact. One may climb the winding stairs and from the towers look down upon the mass of ruined grandeur—sagging and broken roofs, vacant doorways and windows and towers whose floors have fallen away—the melancholy work of time and weather, for these have chiefly affected the castle since it was dismantled by its captors. One is relieved to turn from such a scene to the narrow green valley through which the river runs and out beyond it to the wide prospect of brown hills with gray villages and solitary cottages.

The history of Bolton Castle is long and varied[Pg 242]—too long to tell in detail. It was built in the twelfth century by Richard, the first Lord Scrope, founder of the family, which figured so largely in the fierce struggles of the northern border. From that time to the death of the last representative of the family in 1630, Bolton Castle was almost continually the center of stirring scenes. The Archbishop of York in 1405 was a Scrope, and he preached a fiery sermon denouncing the reigning King Henry as an usurper. The bold churchman lost his head for his temerity, but his execution sowed the seed of the long and terrible wars of the Roses. Nor will the reader of “Marmion” forget Scott’s reference to “Lord Scrope of Bolton, stern and stout,” who with “all Wensleydale did wend” to join the English at Flodden Field. The closing scene came like the closing scene of many an English castle, when Col. Scrope, the last owner, was compelled to surrender to the forces of Parliament and the castle was dismantled. Since then it has stood stern and lonely in the Yorkshire hills, and nearly three centuries of decay have added to the ruin wrought by the captors.

But there is a roselight of romance that enwraps the shattered towers of Bolton, for does not the moorland ruin call up a thousand memories of Mary Stuart, yet in the flower of her youth, ere long years of imprisonment had stolen the color from her[Pg 243] face and touched it with the shade of melancholy that seldom left it? Here was her first prison; she came as an unwilling guest after her ill-advised visit to Carlisle in 1568, and remained a charge of Lord Scrope for nearly two years. The room she occupied is large and gloomy, with but one small window looking westward over the hills—the same window, legend declares, by which she escaped from the castle, only to be shortly recaptured by Lord Scrope’s retainers. Her captivity at Bolton, while less rigorous than in later years, was none the less a captivity, and while she was allowed to go hawking, she was always under close surveillance. Very likely she did try to escape, for in such an escapade the unhappy queen never lacked for accomplices, even among her gaolers. But fate was ever unkind to Mary Stuart, and though many times her fortune seemed evenly balanced, some lack of judgment on part of herself or her followers thwarted the plans for regaining her liberty. They tell that in leaving Bolton in this attempt, her friends followed the river road to Leyburn when a dash over the moors to the north might have insured success. It all seems very real to one who stands in the gloomy apartment at twilight and looks from the window down the steep narrow road leading to the valley—no doubt the one Mary followed in her effort to get out of her[Pg 244] arch-enemy’s clutches, which ended in such heart-breaking failure.

But it is waxing late and we will descend the same hill and follow the same road to Leyburn. Leyburn is gray and bleak in the falling night, with a wide bare market place paved with rough cobblestones, shorn, alas, a few decades ago, of its fine old market cross and town hall—in a spirit of “improvement!” The prospect for good cheer is far from flattering, but we must stop in Leyburn perforce. The Bolton Arms seems to promise the best, but it is full and the Golden Lion offers the only alternative. It is a typical second-class village inn, not overly clean. It appears more of an alehouse than hotel, for a crowd of villagers and farmers is tippling at the bar.

Directly across the river from Leyburn is Middleham, the old-time capital of Wensleydale and one of the quaintest and least modernized towns it was our good fortune to see. The drab-colored buildings straggle up the hill upon whose crest sits Middleham Castle, grim, vast and wholly ruinous. And after wandering through the maze of shattered walls and tottering towers, it seemed to us that here was the very ideal of ruined castles. We had seen many of them, but none more awe-inspiring, none more suggestive of the power of the cataclysm which left such fortresses, seemingly impregnable as the[Pg 245] hills themselves, in shapeless wreck and ruin. Here and there the ivy and wall flower mantled the nakedness of the mouldering stone, and a stout sapling of several years’ growth had fastened its roots in the deep mould high on one of the towers. Truly, Cromwell did his work well at Middleham. Such a stronghold could be dealt with only by gunpowder mines, which were responsible for the cracked and sundered walls and the shapeless masses of stone and mortar which have never been cleared away.


There are memories connected with Middleham Castle as grim as the ruin itself; for with them is intertwined the name of Richard of Gloucester, the hunchback whose crimes, wrought into the imperishable lines of Shakespeare, have horrified the world. When he came here the castle was owned by the Nevilles, and here he married Anne, the daughter of the house, and thus became possessed of the estate. Here his only son, for whom he committed his unspeakable crimes, was born and here his ambitions were blasted by the boy’s early death.

But it is no task of mine to tell the story of Richard III.—only to recall his associations with Middleham. And we noted on one of the two ancient town crosses the rudely carved figure of a boar, the emblem of this ruthless king. Altogether, Middleham is very unique—old-world describes it better than any other term, perhaps. There is scarcely a[Pg 246] jarring note of any kind; the only thing approaching mediocrity and seemingly much out of place, is the Victoria Jubilee Fountain. And the customs of the town still have a savor of medievalism—bulls were baited within the memory of living men.

The thought that first occurs, when one learns that Jervaulx Priory is not far from Middleham, is of Prior Aylmer and “Ivanhoe”—showing how the creations of the Wizard of the North often take precedence in one’s mind over actual history—nay, rather have supplanted historical knowledge altogether, for we know nothing of the history of Jervaulx and will not take the pains to learn. It is enough to wander through its grounds, now kept with all possible care and neatness—every moss-grown stone replaced as nearly as possible in its original position and every detail of the abbey marked with exactness on the sward—and to know that the old story of monastic poverty, pomp and downfall has been repeated here. It is near the roadside and though private property, one may easily gain access by application at the keeper’s cottage. The ruins are scanty indeed—little more than mere outlines of the abbey church and monastery and a few isolated columns and fragments of wall is to be seen—but the landscape gardener has come to the rescue and out of the scattered fragments has wrought an harmonious and pleasing effect. The situation[Pg 247] is one of surpassing loveliness, just at the foot of the hills on the river Ure, which rushes between almost precipitous banks, over which its tributaries fall in glittering cascades. The soft summer air is murmurous with their music and the song of birds. There is no one but ourselves on the ground; no guide is with us to drone over prosaic history and to point out nave and transept—and this and that. As we wander almost dreamily about, we come very near to the spirit of monastic days. It is easy to imagine the old-time state of the abbey under Prior Aylmer, “when the good fathers of Jervaulx drank sweet wines and lived on the fat of the land.” Even in that halcyon time it is doubtful if the surroundings were half so lovely as today.

But we have mused long enough at Jervaulx—“Jervo,” as the railway company officially declares it; “Jarvey,” as the natives perversely term it. The day is still young and an uninterrupted run over the winding moorland road brings us to Ripon before noon. The low square-topped towers of the cathedral break on our view as we descend the hill to the Ure, upon whose banks Ripon sits.

Ripon Cathedral is well-nigh forgotten by pilgrims who would see the great Yorkshire churches—so far is it surpassed by York Minster and Beverley. But after all, it is an imposing church and of great antiquity, for a monastery was established on the[Pg 248] present site in the seventh century and St. Wilfred, the famous Archbishop of York, built the minster. Of this ancient building the crypt still remains, and to see it we followed the verger down a steep, narrow flight of stairs into a series of dungeonlike apartments beneath the forward end of the nave.

Perhaps the most curious relic is St. Wilfred’s Needle, a small window in the thick wall of the crypt, and various merits have been attributed to anyone who could pass through it. In old days this was proof of innocence against any charge of crime; but just now the young woman who can perform the somewhat acrobatic feat will be married within a year—rather a discrimination against the more buxom maidens.

About four hundred years after the founding of the Saxon monastery, the present church was built; but it was not until 1836 that it was elevated to the rank of a cathedral. Like York Minster, Ripon is singularly devoid of tombs of famous men, though there are many fine monuments and brasses to the noble families of the vicinity. The architecture is strangely mixed, owing to the many alterations that have been made from time to time. The exterior must have been far more imposing before the removal of the wooden spires which rose above the towers. Ripon is a quiet, old-world market town, progressive in its way, but having little re[Pg 249]source other than the rich agricultural country around it. There are many quaint streets and odd corners that attract the lover of such things. A queer relic of the olden days that arouses the curiosity of the visitor is the blowing of a horn at nine in the evening before the town cross by the constable. The sojourner will not be at a loss for comfortable entertainment, since the Unicorn Hotel fulfills the best traditions of English inns.

To come within hailing distance of York means that we cannot remain away from that charming old city; and the early afternoon finds us passing Bootham Bar. The rest of the day we give to a detailed study of the minster—our fourth visit, nor are we weary of York Minster yet.

Pontefract—the Pomfret of olden time—lies about twenty miles southwest of York. Its very name takes us back to Roman times—Pontem Fractem, the place of the broken bridge. It is a town that figured much in early English history and its grim old castle may hold the mystery of the death of King Richard II. We came here under lowering skies, and passing the partly ruined church, climbed the steep hill where the castle—or rather the scanty remnant of it—still stands. Verily, “ruin greenly dwells” about the old fortress of Pontefract; the walls were laden heavily with ivy, the greensward covered the floor of the keep, and the[Pg 250] courtyard has been converted into a public garden. There is so little left that it would require a vivid imagination to reconstruct the strong and lordly fortress, which endured no fewer than three sieges during the civil war. The first resulted disastrously to the Parliamentary forces and the second was successful only after a long period and very heavy losses, and even then the garrison was given the honors of the war; yet after all this strenuous work, the castle was again lost to the Royalists through a trifling bit of strategy.

The commander became so negligent through a false sense of security that a handful of adventurers gained admission to the castle, and driving out the few soldiers who happened to be inside—most of the garrison was quartered in the town—possessed themselves of the fortress. A third siege was thus made necessary and such was the strength of the castle that nearly a year elapsed before it finally fell—holding out for some time after Charles was beheaded. Even then, favorable terms were again granted to the defenders, though Col. Morris, who devised the successful capture, and five others, were specifically excepted from the amnesty. Much to the disgust of the captors, Morris escaped for the time, though a little later he was taken and hanged at York. Thus ended the active history of Pontefract Castle, but it was considered dangerous to the[Pg 251] Commonwealth and was almost completely razed, the walls being mined with gunpowder.


Pontefract was undoubtedly the prison to which the Duke of Lancaster consigned King Richard II.,

“That disastrous king on whom
Fate, like a tempest, early fell,
And the dark secret of whose doom
The keep of Pomfret kept full well.”

And yet it is not certain that Richard perished while a prisoner in the castle. A tradition exists that he escaped and lived many years an humble peasant. Pontefract was a very storm center in the wars of the Roses, for almost within sight of its towers was fought the battle of Towton Moor, the bloodiest conflict that ever took place on English soil.

But it would take a volume to record the vicissitudes that have befallen the mouldering ruin at our feet. The rain is falling more heavily; let us on to Wakefield, whose spire we might easily see were it not for the gray veil which hides the landscape. For Wakefield spire is the loftiest in Yorkshire—a slender, pointed shaft rising to a height of two hundred and forty-seven feet over a much altered church that was elevated to the rank of cathedral in 1888. As it now stands, the interior is chiefly Perpendicular, though there are many touches[Pg 252] of the Decorated and Early English styles. It is characterized by grace and lightness, giving an altogether pleasing effect. The windows exhibit as fine modern glass as we saw in the Kingdom, and go far to prove that the disrepute into which modern glass has fallen is largely due to lack of artistic taste and a desire for cheapness. Such windows as those at Wakefield are far from a reproach on the art of the stained-glass maker. So much has the church been restored and added to that it gives as a whole an impression of newness that seems strange in an English cathedral—for there has been no cathedral built in England since St. Paul’s, more than two hundred years ago.

When we come to Barnsley, a few miles to the south, the rain, which has gradually increased, is falling in torrents, and we resolve to take respite from the cold and damp for our belated luncheon. We seek out the King’s Head, for an English friend has told us that twenty-five years ago this hotel was famous for the best mutton chop in England. Traditions never die in Britain, and we doubt not the King’s Head still retains its proud distinction. It does not, however, present an especially attractive appearance; it is rather dingy and time-worn, but any place might seem a little dreary on such a day. Yes, the King’s Head still serves the Barnsley chop, and we will have it, though we must wait a half[Pg 253] hour for it. And the recollection of the luncheon comes like a gleam of sunshine into a dark, rainy day, and effaces all memory of the first unfavorable impression of the King’s Head.

A Barnsley chop defies all description; its mighty dimensions might be given, its juicy tenderness might be descanted upon; all the language at the epicure’s command might be called into action, and yet, after all, only he who has actually eaten a Barnsley chop would have an adequate idea of its savory excellence. O, yes! They imitate it at other hotels, both in and out of Barnsley, so said the manageress, but after all, the King’s Head alone can prepare the original and only Barnsley chop; it alone has devised the peculiar process whereby the truly wonderful result is obtained. Verily, after eating it we sallied forth into the driving rain feeling something of the spirit of the ancient Roman who declared, “Fate cannot harm me—I have dined today.”

Three or four miles out of Barnsley on a byway off the Doncaster road is the village of Darfield, whose church illustrates the interest one may so often find in out-of-the-way spots in England. Thither we drove through the heavy rain, and as we stopped in front of the church at the end of the village street, a few of the natives who happened to be abroad paused under dripping umbrellas to stare at us. I[Pg 254] do not wonder at their astonishment, for from their point of view persons motoring in search of old churches on such a day might well have their sanity questioned.

The ceiling is painted blue, with stars and feathery clouds—clearly a representation of the heavens—and it seemed an age since we had seen them, too. There are many elaborate carvings; the massive Jacobean cover over the baptismal font, the fine black-oak bench-ends of the seventeenth century, and a splendid coffer in the vestry, are all treasures worthy of notice. A Bible with heavy wooden covers is chained to a solid oaken stand—suggestive of the days when a man’s piety might lead him to steal the rare copies of the Scripture. A beautifully wrought though scarred and dilapidated alabaster tomb has recumbent figures of a knight and his lady in costumes of the time of Richard II., and another tomb bears some very quaint devices, among them an owl with a crown upon its head.

It is our third visit to Doncaster, and the giant church tower has become a familiar object. Its very stateliness is exaggerated by the dead level of the town and today it rises dim and vast against the leaden, rain-swept sky, but though it is easily the most conspicuous object in the town, the fine old church does not constitute Doncaster’s chief claim to fame. Here is the horse-racing center of York[Pg 255]shire, and on its “Leger Day” it is probably the liveliest town in England. The car shops of the Great Northern Railway keep it quietly busy for the rest of the year. But as the racing center of a horse-loving shire, it would be strange if it had not acquired during the ages a reputation for conviviality. That it had such a reputation a century or more ago is evidenced by the example of its mayor, set forth by a ballad-maker of the period:

“The Doncaster mayor he sits in his chair,
His mills they merrily go;
His nose doth shine with drinking wine,
And the gout is in his great toe.”

We pass on to the southward and pause in the main street of the quiet village of Scrooby, just on the Yorkshire border, where good authorities insist the idea of American colonization was first conceived. Here Elder Brewster, one of the chief founders of the Plymouth Colony, was born in 1567, and here he passed his boyhood days. The manor-house where he lived and where he met Rev. John Robinson and William Bradford is no longer standing; but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the plan of leaving England for the new world may have been consummated here by these earnest men, who held themselves persecuted for righteousness[Pg 256]’ sake. After varied fortunes they sailed on the Mayflower in 1620.

We are now leaving old Yorkshire with its waste moorlands, its wide, fertile valleys, its narrow, picturesque dales, its quaint old towns and modern cities, its castles and abbeys, and, more than all, its associations of the past which reach out even to the shores of our native land, and we leave it with the keenest regret. It has fallen to us as it has to few to traverse the highways and byways of every section of the great county, and I can but be sensible as to how feebly my pages reflect the things that charmed us. If an American and a stranger is so impressed, how must the native Englishman feel when wandering among these memorials of the past? I cannot close my chapter more fitly than to quote the words of one who in poetic phrase has written much of Yorkshire and its history:

“But any man will spend a month in wandering round Yorkshire, with ears awake to all the great voices of the past, and eyes open to the beauty which is so peculiarly English, he will find the patriotic passion roused again, real and living; and thenceforth the rivers and the glaciers of other lands will be to him no more than the parks and palaces of other men compared with the white gateway and the low veranda which speaks to him of home.”

[Pg 257]


Our run from Nottingham to Oxford was uneventful, for we roved rather at random for the day through the delightful Midland country. At Nottingham one will find the Victoria is quite up to the standard of station-hotel excellence in England and the rates refreshingly low. The city itself will not detain one long, for the great wave of modern progress that has inundated it has swept away most of its ancient landmarks. The old castle, once the key to the Northlands, has been superseded by a palatial structure which now serves as museum and art gallery. Unless one would see factories, machine shops and lace-making works, there will be little to keep him in Nottingham.

We follow the well-surfaced road to the southeast, and though steep in places, its hills afford splendid views of the landscape. The rain interferes much with the prospect, but in the lulls we catch glimpses of long reaches of meadowland dotted with solitary trees, rich with the emerald greenness that follows summer rain in England.

Melton Mowbray has a proud distinction, for[Pg 258] does not the infallible Baedeker accord it the honor of being the “hunting capital of the Midlands?” And the assertion that it is famous for its pork pies very appropriately follows, a matter of cause and effect, perhaps, for the horde of hungry huntsmen who congregate in the town would hardly be satisfied with anything less substantial than an English pork pie. Melton Mowbray has a competitor in Market Harborough, some twenty miles farther, where we stopped for luncheon at a pleasant wayside inn. Each of these towns has a population of about seven thousand, chiefly dependent upon the hunting industry—if I may use such a term—and certain it is that fox hunting is about the only vocation toward which many of the Midland squires are at all industriously inclined. One is simply astounded at the hold the sport has in England and the amount of time and money devoted to it; a leading authority estimates that not less than nine million pounds is spent yearly by the hunters. In a summer tour one sees comparatively little of it, but in the autumn and winter these towns doubtless exhibit great activity, and their streets, crowded with red-coated huntsmen and packs of yelping dogs, must be decidedly picturesque.

From Market Harborough a straight, narrow road carried us swiftly southward toward Northampton and we passed through the Bringtons, of whose[Pg 259] memories of the Washingtons I have written in an earlier chapter. The rain, which had been falling fitfully during the day, ceased and the sun came out with a brilliancy that completely transformed the landscape. All about us was the dense green of the trees and meadowlands, bejeweled with sparkling raindrops and dashed with the gold of the ripening grain, stretching away until lost in the purple mist of the distance. Even the roadside pools glowed crimson and gold, and altogether the scene was one of transcendent beauty and freshness. It was exhilarating indeed as our open car swept over the fine Oxford road, passing through the ancient towns of Towcester, Buckingham and Bicester. There is no more beautiful or fertile country in the Island than that around Oxford, and it was a welcome change to see it basking in the sunshine after our dull days on the Yorkshire moors.

One never wearies of Oxford, and the Randolph Hotel is worth a run of many miles to reach at nightfall. Aristocratic, spacious and quiet, with an indefinable atmosphere of the great universities about it, it appeals to both the bodily and aesthetic senses of the wayfarer—but Oxford, with all its interest and charm, has no place in this chronicle, and we leave it, however loath, in the early morning. We hasten over the Berkshire Hills through Abingdon[Pg 260] into Wiltshire, where there is much to engage our attention.

Swindon, the first town we encounter after passing the border, is an up-to-date city of fifty thousand people and the newness everywhere apparent, the asphalt pavement and the numerous tram lines impress one with its similarity to live American towns. We learn that it is practically a creation of the Great Western Railway, whose shops give employment to a large proportion of the population. Clearly, there is nothing for us in Swindon and we hasten on to Chippenham, which has the traditions which Swindon so wofully lacks. It is a staid old town of six thousand and was important in Saxon times, having frequent mention in the chronicles of Alfred’s wars with the Danes. Strange indeed the mutations of time—strange it seems that the now decadent and negligible Denmark once sent her “fair-haired despots of the sea” into this remote section of the present mistress of the seas. The town is full of odd old houses and it is the center of one of the most interesting spots in England, as I hope to be able to show. But its hotel would hardly invite a long sojourn; we stop for luncheon at the Angel, and are placed at a large table with several rather red-faced gentlemen who discuss horses and hunting dogs as vigorously as a lively onslaught on the host’s vintage and good cheer permits.

[Pg 261]

Lacock is only four miles away and they tell us that we should see the abbey; but they do not tell us that the village itself is worth a day’s journey and that the abbey is only secondary. They do not tell us this, because no one about Lacock knows it. The utter unconsciousness and genuineness of the village is not its least charm. Lacock never dreams of being a show place or tourist resort; but despite its unconsciousness, anyone who has seen England as we have seen it will know that Lacock is not easily matched for its wealth of old stone and timber houses and its quaint, genuine antiquity. It is perhaps a trifle severe and its picturesqueness is of a melancholy and somber kind—thatched roofs are few, ivy-clad walls and flower gardens are wanting; there is little color save an occasional red roof to relieve the all-pervading gray monotone. Its timbered houses are not the imitations one sees so often, even in England, or the modernized old buildings shining in black and white paint, but the genuine article, with weathered oak timbers and lichen-covered brick. There are many projecting upper stories and sharp gables with casement windows of diamond panes set in rusty iron frames. The Lacock of today is truly a voice from the past. It must have been practically the same two or three hundred years ago. Its houses, its streets, its church and its very atmosphere carry one back to the England of Shakespeare.

[Pg 262]

Such a village seems a fitting introduction to the abbey at whose gates it sits; and the abbey itself, gray and ancient like the village, is one of the most perfect monastic buildings in England. Nowhere else did we see what seemed to us a more appropriate home for romance than this great rambling pile of towered and gabled buildings, with a hundred odd nooks and corners, each of which might well have a story of its own. It is opened freely to visitors by its owner, Mr. Talbot, himself an antiquarian of note, who is glad to share his unbounded delight in the old place with anyone who may care to come. We were shown in detail the parts of the abbey that have a special historic and architectural interest. It is guarded carefully and the atmosphere of antiquity jealously preserved. Even the stone steps of the main entrance are grass-grown and moss-covered—“and he wont let us clean them up,” said our guide.

Inside there are many fine apartments and notable relics. The arched cloisters, the chapter house, the refectory and other haunts of the nuns, are in quite the original state. The immense stone fishtank from a solid block sixteen feet long and the great bronze cauldron show that good cheer was quite as acceptable to the nuns as to their brethren. But the exterior of the abbey and the beautiful grounds surrounding it impressed us most. All[Pg 263] about were splendid trees and plots of shrubbery, and the Bristol Avon flows through the park. We heard what we thought the rush of its waters, but our guide told us that it was the quaking aspens which fringe the river banks, keeping up their age-long sigh that their species had supplied the wood for the cross. No day is so still that you do not hear them in summer time. We passed around the building to note from different viewpoints its quaint outlines and its great rambling facades with crowded, queerly assorted gables, battlemented towers and turrets, and mysterious corners, all combining to make it the very ideal of the abbey of romance. How easy, when contemplating it in the dim twilight or by the light of a full moon, for the imagination to re-people it with its old-time habitants; and surely, if the ghosts of the gray nuns ever return to their earthly haunts, Lacock Abbey must have such visitants.


But enough of these vagaries—one might yield himself up to them for days in such surroundings. I will not mar them with sober history, in any event, though Lacock has quite enough of that. The guide-book which you may get at the abbey lodge for two-pence tells its story and I have tried to tell only what we saw and felt.

At the postcard shop, where we buy a few pictures and souvenirs of Lacock, the young woman[Pg 264] tells us of other Wiltshire nooks that we should see. Do we know of Sloperton Cottage, of Bromham Church, of Corsham, of Yatton Keynell and Castle Combe? These are only a few, in fact, but they are the ones that strike our fancy most and we thank our informant, who follows us to point out the roads. And never had we more need of such assistance, for our search for Sloperton Cottage involves us in a maze of unmarked byways that wind between tall hedges and overarching trees.

And what of Sloperton Cottage? Are you, dear reader, so ignorant as we were, not to know that Tom Moore, the darling poet of Erin, lived in Sloperton Cottage with his beloved Bessie for a third of a century and that both are buried at Bromham Church near at hand? One had surely thought to find his grave in the “ould sod” rather than in the very heart of rural England; but so it is; and after much inquiry we enter the lonely lane that leads to Sloperton Cottage and pause before the long low building, heavily mantled with ivy and roses, though almost hidden from the road by the tall hedge in front. We had been told that it is the private home of two ladies, sisters of the owner, and we have no thought of intruding in such a case—but a neat maid appears at the gateway as we look, no doubt rather longingly, at the house.

[Pg 265]

“Miss ——,” said she, “would be pleased to have you come in and see the cottage.”

Here is unexpected good fortune, and coming voluntarily to us, we feel free to accept the invitation. We see the cottage and gardens, which are much the same as when occupied by the poet, though some of the furniture has been replaced. The garden to the rear, sweet with old-fashioned flowers, we are told was a favorite resort of the author of “Lalla Rookh” and that he composed much of his verse here, lying on his back and gazing at the sky through over-arching branches. The cottage is quite unpretentious and the whole place is so cozy and secluded as to be an ideal retreat for the muses, and as an English writer has observed:

“It would be an unfeeling person who could stand today before this leafy cottage, so snugly tucked away by a shady Wiltshire lane, without some stirring of the pulse, if only for the sake of the melodies. If they are not great, they are the most felicitous and feeling English verse, taken as a whole, ever set to music, and are certainly world-famous and probably immortal. No one would wish to submit “Dear Harp of My Country” or “Oft in the Stilly Night” to the cold light of poetic criticism. But when the conscientious expert has finished with “Lalla Rookh” and the “Loves of the Angels” and consigned them to oblivion, he goes into another[Pg 266] chamber, so to speak, and relaxes into unrestrained praise of the melodies.”

Moore must have written much of the “melodies” at Sloperton Cottage, but before he came here his fame had been made by his oriental poems, whose music and glitter caused them to be greatly over-estimated at the time. As we take our leave and thank the ladies for the courtesy, we are told that the cottage is to let and that we may so inform any of our friends. We do so herewith and can add our unqualified personal indorsement of Sloperton Cottage.

Bromham Church, one of the most graceful of the country churches we have seen, is near at hand. It stands against a background of fine trees with a hedge-surmounted stone wall in front. It is mainly in the Perpendicular style and a slender spire rises from its square battlemented tower. The stained windows are very large, each with many tall upright stone mullions; one is a memorial to the poet and another to his wife, whose memory still lingers as one of the best-loved women of the countryside. She survived the poet, who died in 1852, by fourteen years. They lie buried just outside the north wall of the church. The grave is marked by a tall Celtic cross, only recently erected, and the occasion was observed by a gathering of distinguished Irishmen in honor of the memory of their poet. On the[Pg 267] pedestal of the cross is graven a verse which truly gives Moore’s best claim to remembrance:

“Dear Harp of my Country, in darkness I found thee,
The cold chain of silence had hung o’er thee long;
When proudly, my own Island Harp, I unbound thee,
And gave all thy chords to light, freedom and song.”

And indeed it is the harp of his country that is now heard, and not his labored oriental poems.


It is a very quiet, retired country lane that we followed to Corsham, famous for the stately seat of Lord Metheun. Corsham Court is an Elizabethan mansion of vast extent which has many noted pictures in its galleries, among them “Charles I. on Horseback,” which is counted the masterpiece of Van Dyck. Near the park entrance is the almshouse, with its timeworn gables of yellow stone against the dull red of the tile roofing. Just inside is the chapel, always present in early English buildings, a fine Jacobean room with a double-deck pulpit and a gallery behind an intricately carved oaken screen. One finds these almshouses in many of the older English towns. They were founded some centuries ago by charitably inclined persons who left legacies for the purpose, and are maintained[Pg 268] for a limited number of old people—women at Corsham—who are admitted under certain carefully specified conditions. Each inmate has a small, fairly comfortable room and usually a little garden plot. We saw such houses at Coventry, Campden and Corsham—all substantially built and unique in their architecture. St. Cross at Winchester and Leicester’s Hospital at Warwick are similar institutions. There is always a long waiting-list of applicants for the charity.

At the queer little village of Yatton Keynell, as odd and uncouth as its name, we found another of the melancholy instances so common in England of the degeneration of a fine manor into a slovenly farm tenement. We drove into the ill-kept farmyard and picked our way carefully through the debris to the front entrance, a solid oaken door under a curious little porch. The house is a good example of the substantial mansion of the old-time English squire, and though still quite extensive, is of only half its original size. It has a solid oak staircase and many touches of its old-time beauty remain. While it has no history or tradition, it is worthy a visit from anyone interested in English domestic architecture and in a rather melancholy phase of social conditions.

A combe, in west of England parlance, is a deep, ravinelike valley. Such a description certainly[Pg 269] fits the site of Castle Combe, surely one of the loveliest villages in Wiltshire, or all of England, for that matter. We carefully descended a steep, narrow road winding through the trees that cover the sharply rising hillsides, and paused before the queer old market cross of the little town. Nowhere did we find a more perfect and secluded gem of rural England. The market cross, whose quadrangular roof of tile, with a tall slender shaft rising from the center, is supported on four heavy stone pillars, looks as if it had scarce been touched in the four hundred years during which it has weathered sun and rain. Near by is the solid little church with pinnacled and embattled tower, still more ancient. Along shady lanes leading from the market place are cozy thatched cottages, bright with climbing roses and ivy, and others of gray stone seem quite as bleak as the cross itself. Nothing could be more picturesque than the gateway to the adjoining park—the thatched roof of the lodgekeeper’s house sagging from the weight of several centuries. On either side of the village rise the steep, heavily wooded hills and from the foot of the glen comes up the murmur of the stream. Verily, there is an unknown England—the guide-books have nothing of Castle Combe, and unless the wayfarer comes upon it like ourselves, he will miss one of the most charming bits of old-world life in the Kingdom. And it is all uncon[Pg 270]scious of its charm; excepting an occasional incursion of English trippers, visitors are few.


The road out of the valley runs along the wooded glen, by the swift stream just below, until a sharp rise brings us to the up-lands, where we enter the main Bath road. And we are glad that the close of our day’s wanderings finds us so close to Bath, for we may be sure of comfort at the Empire—though we may expect to pay for it—and we have stopped here often enough to form the acquaintance so helpful to one in the average English hotel. Bath is in Somerset, but the next morning we recross the border and resume our pilgrimage in Wiltshire.

How lightly the rarest antiquities were valued in England until yesterday is shown by the remarkable history of the Saxon chapel at Bradford-on-Avon. This tiny church, believed to be the oldest in England, was completely lost among the surrounding buildings; as the discoverer, Rev. Laurence Jones, says: [Pg 271]“Hemmed in on every side by buildings of one kind or another, on the north by a large shed employed for the purposes of the neighbouring woolen manufactory; on the south by a coach-house and stables which hid the south side of the chancel, and by a modern house built against the same side of the nave; on the east by what was formerly, as Leland tells us, ‘a very fair house of the building of one Horton, a rich clothier,’ the western gable of which was within a very few feet of it, and hid it completely from the general view—the design and nature of the building entirely escaped the notice of the archaeologist.”

About 1865 Rev. Jones, then Vicar of Bradford, was led to his investigations by the accidental discovery of stone figures, evidently rude Saxon carvings, during some repairs to the school-room. From this beginning the building was gradually disentangled from the surrounding structures; excavations were made and many old carvings unearthed, and in short the chapel began to assume its present shape. The history of the church is of course very obscure, though Rev. Jones with great ingenuity and research shows that there is good reason to believe that it was founded by St. Aldhelm, who died in 709. If this be true, the chapel is twelve hundred years old and contests in antiquity with St. Augustine’s of Canterbury.

Architecturally, the little church is the plainest possible—it comprises a tiny entrance porch, nave and chancel. The most remarkable feature of the nave is its great height as compared with its other dimensions, being the same as its length, or about twenty-five feet. The doors are very narrow, barely wide enough for one person at a time, and windows mere slits through which the sunlight struggled rather[Pg 272] weakly with the gloom of the interior. The chapel is a regularly constituted Church of England and services are held in it once a year. With all its crudeness, it serves as one of the milestones of the progress of a new order of things in Britain, and a space of only three centuries separates this poor little structure from the cathedrals!

The youth who acted as guide led us into his cottage near at hand when we asked for picture cards of the chapel. His eyes brightened noticeably when he learned we were from America. “Ah,” said he, “I am going there next spring; my brother is already there and doing well. Do you know that more than a hundred people have gone from Bradford to America in the past year? And more are going. There is no chance for a common man in England.” No chance for a common man in England!—How often we heard words to that effect during our pilgrimage.

Bradford has another unique relic in the “tithe barn” built in 1300, a long low structure with enormously thick, heavily buttressed walls and ponderous roof—solid oaken timbers overlaid with stone slabs. Its capacious dimensions speak eloquently of the tribute the monks were able to levy in the good old days, for here the people who could not contribute money brought their offerings in kind and the holy fathers were apparently well prepared to[Pg 273] receive and care for anything of value. Today it serves as a cow-barn for a nearby farmer.

We leave Bradford-on-Avon for Marlborough over a fine though rather undulating road. We pause at Devizes to read the astonishing inscription on the town cross:

“The mayor and corporation of Devizes avail themselves of the stability of this building to transmit to future times the record of an awful event which occurred in this market place in the year 1753, hoping that such record may serve as a salutary warning against the danger of impiously invoking Divine vengeance or calling on the holy name of God to conceal the devices of falsehood and fraud. On Thursday, the 17th of January 1753, Ruth Pierce of Pottern in this county agreed with three other women to buy a sack of wheat in the market, each paying her due proportion towards the same. One of these women collecting the several quotas of money, discovered a deficiency and demanded of Ruth Pierce what was wanting to make good the amount. Ruth Pierce protested that she had paid her share and said she wished she might drop down dead if she had not. She rashly repeated this awful wish, when, to the consternation and terror of the surrounding multitude, she instantly fell down and expired, having the money concealed in her hand.”

Surely the citizens of Devizes, with such a[Pg 274] warning staring them in the face every day, must be exemplary disciples of George Washington—and what a discouraging place the town would be for the headquarters of an American trust!

The town gets its name from having been a division camp back in Roman days. It figured much in the civil war, its castle, of which no traces now remain, holding out for the king until taken by Cromwell in person. There are in the town two of the finest churches in Wiltshire, second only to Salisbury Cathedral. Nor is it to be forgotten that the parents of Sir Thomas Lawrence were at one time keepers of the Bear Inn at Devizes, and the son acquired his first fame by sketching the guests and reciting poetry to them. He lived here until eighteen years of age, when he entered the Royal Academy at London.

It was a surprise to find at Avebury, a lonely village a few miles farther on, relics of a pre-historic stone circle that completely dwarf the giants of Stonehenge. This great circle was about three-quarters of a mile in circumference and three hundred years ago was nearly perfect. The mighty relics were destroyed by the unsentimental vandals of the neighborhood, and it is said that most of the cottages in the village were built from these stones. Some of them were buried to clear the land of them! Barely a dozen remain of more than six hundred mono[Pg 275]liths that stood in the circle as late as the reign of Elizabeth; and the destruction ceased only fifty years ago. The stones are ruder and less symmetrical than those of Stonehenge, but their individual bulk averages greater—mighty fragments of rock weighing from fifty to sixty tons each. The Avebury circle is supposed to have been a temple of prehistoric sun worshipers, but its crudity indicates that it is far older than Stonehenge.

A short run across the downs soon brought us to Marlborough, a name more familiar as that of a dukedom than of a town. But the Duke of Marlborough lives at Blenheim, forty miles away, and has no connection with the Wiltshire town. Its vicissitudes were those of almost any of the older English towns, though it had the rare distinction of having its castle destroyed before the time of Cromwell. It has little of great antiquity, since a fire two hundred and fifty years ago totally wiped out the town that then existed. In the coaching days, it was an important point on the London and Bath road; and perhaps the motor car may bring back something of its old-time prosperity. The Ailesbury Arms, where we stopped for our belated lunch, appeared to be a most excellent hotel and is the only one I recollect which had a colored man in uniform at the door.

Immediately adjoining Marlborough is Saver[Pg 276]nake Forest, on the estate of the Marquis of Ailesbury, which is said to be the only forest of any extent possessed by a subject. This park is sixteen miles in circumference, and its chief glory is a straight four-mile drive between rows of enormous beeches. This splendid avenue is not “closed to motors” (the inscription that greeted us at the entrance of so many private parks), and our car carried us soberly enough through the sylvan scene, which is diversified with many grassy glades. There are several famous trees, one of which, the King’s Oak, is twenty-four feet in circumference. Savernake is pleasant and impressive in summer time, but its real beauty must be most apparent in autumn, when, as an English writer describes it, “it is a blaze of crimson and yellow—the long shadows and golden sunlight giving the scene a painted, almost too brilliant effect.”

It is growing late and we must not loiter longer by the way if we are to reach Bournemouth for the night. We sweep across the great open Salisbury Plain past Stonehenge and down the sweet vale of the Avon until the majestic spire of Salisbury pierces the sky. Then southward through Ringwood to Christchurch, where we catch a glimpse of the scant fragments of the castle and the abbey church, with its melancholy memorial to Shelley. A few minutes more on the fine ocean road brings us into Bournemouth.

[Pg 277]


Of the hundreds of hotels whose hospitality we enjoyed—or endured—in Britain, no other was so barbarously gorgeous as the Royal Bath at Bournemouth. The furnishings were rich, though verging to some extent on the gaudy, and the whole place had an air of oriental splendor about it made the more realistic by “fairy grottoes” and gilded pagodas on the grounds. It is a rather low building of great extent, with wide, thickly carpeted halls in which bronze and plaster statuettes and suits of old plate armor are displayed. At the head of the stairs a tablet enumerates a few of the patrons of quality—an imposing list indeed—which we may partly transcribe here. The large gilt letters solemnly assure us that [Pg 278]“This Hotel has been patronised by H. R. H. the PRINCE OF WALES, H. R. H. the DUCHESS OF ALBANY, and other Members of the ROYAL FAMILY: H. I. H. the EMPRESS EUGENIE, H. M. the KING OF THE BELGIANS, H. R. H. CROWN PRINCE OF SWEDEN and NORWAY, H. R. H. the CROWN PRINCESS OF DENMARK, H. R. H. PRINCE ALBRECHT OF PRUSSIA, Regent of Brunswick; the Leading Statesmen, and the most Eminent and Distinguished Personages visiting Bournemouth.” Verily a list of notables that might well overawe a common American citizen.

But after all, the pretensions of the Royal Bath are not altogether unwarranted, for its foundation, in 1838, marked the beginning of Bournemouth itself. It is since then that this handsome watering-place—it has no superior in the Kingdom—has come into existence. In few other modern resort towns has the original idea been so well carried out. The pine trees planted by the early promoters now form a grove through which runs the magnificent promenade along the sea. The citizens are mainly of the wealthier class and there are many fine private residences. There are, of course, the usual adjuncts of the watering-place, such as the amusement pier, promenades, public gardens and palatial hotels. The climate, which is as salubrious as that of Torquay, brings to the town many people seeking health. Bournemouth, of course, has little of history or tradition. In the churchyard surrounding its imposing modern church is buried Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her parents, William and Mary Godwin.

I have not intended to intimate that the Royal Bath, with all its splendor, is anything but comfort[Pg 279]able and first-class. Our tall casement windows opened directly on the sea, and the high ceilings of our room were decorated with plaster bosses and stencilled festoons of roses. The view at sunset over the terrace, down the sandy beach and sweeping over the sail-flecked waters, was at once restful and inspiring. The crowd thronging the promenades was in a gay, careless mood; children played in the sand in unrestrained joy, while the many colored lights on the pier and the lanterns of the boats gave a touch of brilliancy to the scene. It all seemed to strangely contrast with the spirit of the England we were most familiar with, for Bournemouth belongs to another day and generation than the England of our pilgrimage.

The Isle of Purbeck is no island at all—even as the “Isles,” Athelney and Avilion, in no wise fulfill the geographical requirements of islands. It is a small peninsula of Southern Dorset, and at its very center stands one of the most remarkable of the English castles. Thither we go, following the coast from Bournemouth through the somber little town of Wareham; from thence southward over heather-mottled hills, and ere long we catch sight of the gigantic mound upon which are the straggling fragments of Corfe Castle. Before the castle gate stands Corfe village, a group of plain cottages, seemingly as ancient as the ruin overlooking them. All are[Pg 280] mellowed by the touch of time; there is naught to mar the harmony of the dull silver grays and moss greens of the cottages, the solid old church or of the ruins which tower in sharp outline against a pale, blue sky.

The entrance to the castle court is well above the roofs of the cottages and is severed from the village by a deep fosse crossed by a high-arched stone bridge. The gate is flanked by two huge round towers, but from the inside one sees the castle proper, perched on the summit of the mound, its very foundation stones high above the gate towers. Standing among the stupendous ruins we realize the amazing strength the castle possessed, both in construction and position. Huge fragments of walls and towers rise above us like thunder-riven cliffs, their bald outlines softened in places by the clinging ivy. Here and there masses of fallen masonry are lying about like boulders, so solidly does the mass cling together. So ruinous are the walls that it is difficult to identify the different apartments, and even the antiquarians have trouble in restoring the original plan of the castle. The keep itself, generally intact, is shattered, one fragment, almost the entire height of the structure, standing curiously like a huge chimney. Clearly enough, an explosive was the agent of destruction here—Corfe Castle was[Pg 281] razed with gunpowder by express order of Cromwell’s Parliament.


From the wall on the highest point of the mound, one has a wide prospect. It was a clear lucent day and when we climbed a broken tower the whole peninsula of Purbeck spread beneath us like a map. It is now bleak and sterile, spotted with gorse and heather and broken in places with chalk cliffs. Yet when the castle was built the region was covered with a stately forest, of which no trace now remains. Far to the north we see the Wareham road winding away like a serpent, while a stony trail cuts squarely across the moor to the west. When we prepare to take our leave, we ask the custodian concerning the road to Lulworth, and he points out the uninviting byway through the fields. We had planned to return to Wareham, but this route, he assures us, is shorter and “very good,”—strange ideas of good roads had the old man if he could so describe the ten miles through the moors to Lulworth, quite as bad as any of equal distance we found in ten thousand miles.

But before we go shall we ask the story of Corfe? The tales of the abbeys and castles are much alike and their end nearly always the same—dismantled by Henry, destroyed by Cromwell. Still, Corfe is very old; its records go back to Saxon times. How weird it is to think that in front of the[Pg 282] towers that grimly guard the entrance King Edward the Martyr was stabbed by order of his stepmother, Elfrida, as he paused to quaff a goblet of wine. It happened more than a thousand years ago, and from that time until Cromwell’s gunpowder sent walls and towers tottering to destruction, the sequestered castle was the scene of intermittent turmoil and bloodshed. Sir Christopher Hatton built the more modern portions during the reign of Elizabeth, but Corfe brought him only trouble. In 1633 it passed from the possession of his descendant to Sir John Bankes, a loyal supporter of King Charles, and while he was active in court and field, his energetic wife held the castle against all comers. One siege she repulsed and the surrender in 1646 was brought about only by treachery. Brave Lady Bankes! The story of her gallant defense will not be forgotten while a single fragment of the old fortress remains on its bleak, wind-swept hill.

But they have told us that Lulworth and its cove are worth seeing and we are soon away over the moorland road. A strenuous ten miles it is, rough, stony, steep, with numerous gates to open and close between the fields, and in places the road is so overgrown with grass and heather as to be hardly discernible. But from the uplands which it traverses one may see the ocean on the left and to the right a long array of rolling hills and winding[Pg 283] valleys, all in the purple glow of full-blown heather, with here and there a lonely cottage or group of trees. We begin a long descent, following the edge of the hill toward the sea, and a sharp turn leads down a short steep grade into Lulworth.

The village some years ago had merely a few thatched cottages nestling beneath the high hills to the landward, but of late Lulworth has assumed airs as a trippers’ resort in the summertime, and the red-tiled villas rather spoil its old-world effect. Lulworth would be of no more note than other villages scattered along the south coast were it not for its peculiar cove, an almost circular, basinlike depression a few hundred yards in diameter; the sea enters it through a narrow opening in the cliffs. We were able to take the car down to the very margin of the water. An angular, red-whiskered fisherman approached us and in broad South Country speech offered to row us across the cove. We acquiesced in deference to his story of slack times and hard luck. The water of the cove has a depth of sixty feet near the center and in old days offered shelter to smugglers’ smacks. From the high cliffs on the opposite side we had a magnificent view of the rough coast line, a medley of gray, green and white, stretching along the foam-flecked sea.

We soon regain the main road and pass Lulworth Castle but a little way from the village—a[Pg 284] massive, rectangular structure with circular, crenelated towers at each corner. It is not of great antiquity, having been built during the reign of Elizabeth, who is reputed to have visited it, and King James came here to escape the plague in London.

Our route carries us back to Wareham, a sleepy, shrunken town with little to suggest its strenuous history. Indeed, one writer declares that no town in England has undergone more calamities in the shape of sieges and conflagrations from the early wars with the Danes down to the capture of the place by Cromwell’s forces. It is pleasantly situated on a strip of meadowland between two small rivers, and today has about two thousand people. Its wall, built more than a thousand years ago, may still be traced throughout its entire course and proves Wareham once of much greater extent than at present.

Wimborne Minster takes its name from the church whose square towers with odd minaretlike pinnacles loom over the town as we approach it from the south. And rightly should the name of the minster predominate, for it is the redeeming feature of the commonplace Dorset town. But it is quite enough—few English churches have a greater store of curious relics. The chained library of about two hundred and fifty huge volumes, each held to its shelf by a heavy, rusty chain, is unique;[Pg 285] but as one reads the ponderous titles of the books he wonders that such precaution should have been deemed necessary. Still, there were no “six best sellers” in the day when this library was established, and even heavy theological treatises in Latin and Greek may have been in demand.

Not less curious is the orrery clock, five hundred years old, which illustrates the astronomical ideas of its time in compelling the sun to make a circuit of the dial every day, while the moon occupies a month. The sense of humor that mixes itself with the solemnity of so many English churches finds expression here in an odd, gnomelike automaton on the western tower that goes through strange contortions every quarter hour. One cannot but wonder just what is in the huge chest—unopened for centuries—hewn from a single log and fastened with great bunglesome locks; but most likely it contains records and documents pertaining to the church. But all these marvels are nothing to those which Wimborne Minster once possessed but which have disappeared; a piece of the true cross and one of the manger in which the Lord was born; some of the earth from the Bethlehem stable and a few hairs from Christ’s head; a thigh bone of St. Agatha; a few of St. Philip’s teeth; a joint of St. Cecelia; the hair shirt of St. Thomas a’ Becket and a small phial of his blood. Verily Wimborne Minster was[Pg 286] well supplied with the stock in trade of the early church.

But the minster has associations of a less mythical nature. In the chancel is the grave of Aethelred, King of the West Saxons, brother of Alfred the Great, who was slain in 871. A fine brass is set in the slab over the grave, but this is doubtless of more recent date. There are tombs of several crusaders, though the effigies have been sadly mutilated. But the most curious tomb is a gilded coffin set in a niche in the wall, a little below the level of the floor. On the coffin is the date 1693, which the occupant at one time fixed as the date for his demise, but this did not occur until ten years later. He expressed a wish to be buried “neither under the ground nor above it; neither in the church nor out of it” and left an annuity of five pounds to keep his coffin touched up yearly—all of which was faithfully carried out, for thus did the church once lend itself to clownish eccentricity.

Wimborne Minster delights in its relics, its traditions, and its medieval customs. The verger told us of one of the latter that is perhaps founded on more of common sense than many of the old-time practices, and which, with that continuity of custom that confronts one everywhere in England, still prevails. The vestrymen pass through the church at times during the services and prod the sleeping[Pg 287] brethren with long black rods—not a bad idea, after all, though one that could hardly be inaugurated without precedent.

So much of our glimpse of Wimborne Minster; it is late and we are bound for Southampton, forty or more miles away as we propose to go. The road to Ringwood and from thence to Lymington leads through an open, heathlike country—stretches of rank-growing ferns interspersed with the vivid purple of the heather. A little beyond Ringwood we enter New Forest, though in this section little of the forest—as one thinks of the word now—is to be seen. There are occasional groups of trees, but the prevailing feature of the landscape is the fern-clad heath. A cheerless road it is, but open, finely surfaced and nearly level, with nothing to hinder the mad rush of our motor.

At Lymington we hail a citizen and inquire in our best French accent for the road to Beaulieu. He studies awhile and shakes his head. Then we seek a never-failing source of information—a garage man—but to our astonishment he is puzzled.

“Boloo, Boloo; never heard of it.”

“What, the old abbey? It can’t be far from here.”

“O, you mean Bewley, to be sure—eight miles straight away; you can’t miss it.”

We hasten on over the moors and through a[Pg 288] stretch of woodland into a wooded valley, where we come to a village more pleasing than any we have yet seen in Dorset—a village of thatched cottages and flower gardens fitting well into the charming surroundings. The river, held in leash by a weir, lies in broad, silvery reaches, fringed with willows, and groups of pond lilies dot its surface. Beaulieu, aside from its abbey, might be a shrine for the motorist, for here is the estate of Lord Montague, an enthusiast for the wind-shod steed, who has exchanged his ancestral stables for motors, and, to cap it all, is owner and editor of “The Car.”

There is not much left of the abbey. Henry VIII., with characteristic thrift, floated the stone down the river to build Hurst Castle. The refectory, now restored and used as a parish church, is the most perfect remnant of the once magnificent establishment, whose church almost equalled the huge dimensions of Winchester Cathedral. The late lord did much to restore the ruins, which are now surrounded by lawns and shrubbery. The monks of Beaulieu had wide fame for good cheer—they kept great vineyards and their wines were counted the best in England. The vineyards throve long after the Dissolution, but the last vine, several hundred years old, disappeared about two centuries ago. Just across the river there is a substantial, comfort[Pg 289]able hotel belonging to Lord Montague, which is much frequented by fishermen.


An hour’s run over level but winding roads brought us to the Great Western Hotel in Southampton. It was a needless trip, after all, for the Isle of Wight is best reached from Lymington, whither we returned in the morning.

At Lymington the motor was loaded into a tiny boat, nearly filling it from stem to stern, and towed by the little channel steamer across the Solent to Yarmouth. The captain, who commands a crew of four men, invited us into the pilot house and gave us his field glasses, entertaining us with a tale of hard luck, long hours, small pay and still smaller appreciation of his service on part of the railway company, which owns the steamers. He was a typical English salt, bluff and bronzed, with a dialect that was refreshing to hear. We did not forget him, either, and found him anxiously looking for us next day when we were ready to return to the mainland.

Here we are on the sunniest, calmest of summer days in the isle whose greatest charm for us is, perhaps, in the fact that Tennyson spent most of his active life here and did much of his best work in his island home. But this is far from the only attraction of the romantic island, so small that a circuit of sixty-five miles takes one over the coast roads. The eastern and half the northern coast is dotted with in[Pg 290]creasingly popular resort towns, of which Cowes, of yachting fame, is the best known, and thither we direct our course.

It is open day at Osborne House and the short excursion by steamer from Southampton appeals to English people as few other holiday trips. And it is not strange when one reflects that no other place was in such a strict sense the home of Queen Victoria as Osborne House, or has so many memories of her life. The rather ineffective Italian villa was designed and built by herself and the Prince Consort and here were passed the happy years of the early married life of the royal couple. It was the queen’s private property and descended to King Edward, who presented it to the nation. As it stands now, it may be said to be a memorial to the queen. Here are the family portraits and the marvelous presents given to Victoria on the occasions of her golden and diamond jubilees; some were from other rulers, but the most wonderful came from Indian potentates and the colonies. These defy all description. The queen died here in 1901, and altogether Osborne House is full of the deepest significance to the average British subject. The crowds that thronged the palace grounds on the day of our visit, we were told, were quite representative of the open days of the summer season.

Newport, the capital and metropolis of the is[Pg 291]land, is a modern-looking town, whose greatest interest is Carisbrooke Castle, the stronghold of the ancient governors. It stands on an eminence overlooking the town and charming indeed was the prospect that greeted us from the walls on that shimmering summer afternoon. The town, with its red-brick, slate-roofed buildings, lay just below us; about it were the tiny fields, with the green meadowlands, the ripening grain, great trees and snug cottages. One may walk on the battlements—in part modern replacements—entirely around the castle walls, and thus view the ruin from every angle.

Carisbrooke’s chief memory is of Charles I., who came here as a guest only to be detained as a prisoner. The room he occupied has disappeared, but the window in its outer wall, through which he twice essayed to escape, may yet be seen. It was during his captivity here that he first lost hope; his hair turned gray and his trim, jaunty cavalier air forsook him. Finally, on the last night of November, 1648, he was seized by two companies of Roundhead horse and carried to Yarmouth and from thence to Windsor Castle. This was the beginning of the end. After the King’s execution, the Princess Elizabeth and the young duke of Gloucester were sent here by order of Parliament. The princess soon died and is buried in Newport Church, where a marble effigy marks the tomb. Aside from[Pg 292] the melancholy history of King Charles, the annals of Carisbrooke have few events of importance. Its decay and resulting ruin were due to ages of neglect.

Beginning at Ryde, four miles north of Newport, we followed the coast, passing a succession of resort towns. Ryde is situated on a hillside sloping toward the sea, and its water front with drives and gardens, is one of the most charming we know of. The road from Ryde to Ventnor is crooked, narrow, and highly dangerous in places. At times it runs through closely bordering forests; again along the edge of an almost precipitous incline; then it climbs a long, terribly steep hill, but is never more than a few hundred yards from the coast.

The Royal Hotel at Ventnor comes up to its pretensions but poorly. We were surprised to find the last three parties registered in the visitors’ book coming from France, Germany and Sweden respectively, while our own added a fourth foreign registry in succession. The number of foreign guests at this hotel seemed to indicate that Ventnor is more popular with continental people than the average English resort town, for as a rule we found very few European guests. Ventnor is situated on a precipitous hill-slope, quite sheltered from the north and east. The houses run up the hill in terraces and the ledge of rock along the beach is[Pg 293] barely wide enough for the promenade. The climate is mild and few spots in England are more favored by invalids. It was this that brought poor John Keats in 1817, and he composed “Lamia” during his stay. Here was a favorite resort of Tennyson before he settled in Freshwater, and Longfellow’s visit in 1868 is commemorated by an inscription which he composed for the fountain near the hotel in Shanklin, the old town nearly contiguous to Ventnor. Shanklin contains many bits of the picturesque old-time island—touches of antiquity quite wanting in Ventnor.

The following day was one to be remembered; a day as near perfection as one may have in England—the sky pale blue, cloudless and serene, toning to lucent gray near the horizon, and the air fresh and invigorating. Our road closely followed the coast with an almost continual view of the sea. The ocean lay darkly under the rocks, rippled over stretches of silvery beach, or glittered under the long headlands, whose white chalk cliffs were almost dazzling in the sunlight. There were flower-embowered cottages along the road, but no villages for many miles. We gave two hours to the twenty miles to Freshwater and enjoyed the beauty to our hearts’ content—but no! to do that one must linger until darkness shuts out the view.

Freshwater became famous through its associ[Pg 294]ation with Tennyson, and the poet by coming here destroyed to a certain extent the very retirement and quiet that he sought, for the tourists followed him, much to his disgust. Yet he used to go about in a great slouching hat and military cloak that advertised his presence to everyone—an inconsistency that even his little grandchild is said to have noticed, and that she queried in her childish innocence, “If you don’t like people to look at you, Grandpa, why do you wear that queer hat and cloak?” But in any event, the trippers, though often snubbed for their pains, flocked to Freshwater. They still come to the old home of the poet, and the present Lord Tennyson is said to welcome them even less than did his father.

We stopped at a post card shop just opposite the rear entrance to Farringford—a rustic gate opening into a narrow roadway between tall trees—and they told us that the ban on visitors was absolute. But one might see the house from the road. The unprecedented snow of the preceding winter had almost destroyed the tree so beloved of the poet—the

“giant Ilex, keeping leaf
When frosts are keen and days are brief,”

which hid the front of the house. Besides, the owner was now at Aldworth and the gardener might not be so averse to visitors—but we ignore the hint and content ourselves with a visit to Freshwater Church. Lady Tennyson is buried in the churchyard, her[Pg 295] grave marked by a white marble cross. Inside there are tablets inscribed to the poet and his wife, who were regular attendants at the church, and a marble statue to the memory of Lionel, the son who died on shipboard in the Red Sea when returning from India. The village of Freshwater is full of picturesque cottages, and there are many more pretentious modern villas which indicate that the blight of a popular watering place threatens it. High on the hill, over the town and sea, towers the Tennyson memorial, a great Celtic cross, forty feet in height, reared by the poet’s admirers in England and America.


There is little to see at Yarmouth, where we wait an hour or more for the boat. In the church is buried Admiral Holmes, the man who took the village of New Amsterdam from the Dutch and called it New York, and a marble statue, representing the great seaman standing by a cannon, commemorates this and other achievements. An English writer tells this curious story of the monument:

[Pg 296]

“Even a poor judge of such things can see at a glance that this is no ordinary piece of work. It is said that the unfinished statue was intended to represent Louis XIV. and was being conveyed by the sculptor in a French ship to Paris in order that the artist might model the head from the living subject. Holmes captured the vessel and conceived the brilliant idea of compelling the artist to complete the work with his (the admiral’s) likeness instead of that of le Grand Monarque. The old fellow seems to wear a grim smile as he thinks of the joke, but as the head is undoubtedly of inferior workmanship to the body, the artist may have felt that he had his revenge.”

The admiral was a native of Yarmouth and a part of his mansion is incorporated into the Pier Hotel. It still retains the old staircase and much antique paneling; and a tablet on the wall recites that Charles II. was a guest here in 1671 on a visit to Holmes.

We were soon aboard the little steamer, and despite marine rules and regulations, on the bridge with our friend the captain. We noticed that he was going far out of the usual course, directly toward the wreck of the Gladiator. For the warship Gladiator lay on her side a few furlongs off the coast west of Yarmouth, whither she had staggered and fallen when mortally wounded in a collision with the American liner, St. Paul, a few months before. Salvage crews were working to raise her and we naturally expressed interest in the sight. Our ancient mariner heard it and as he steered toward the wreck muttered something about getting “out of the way of the current,” but added, “They may think I did it to give you a good view of the Gladiator!”—and we are still wondering if that was the reason[Pg 297] for his detour. Far down the Solent he pointed out the Needles, Swinburne’s “loose-linked rivets of rock,” and he told us of the wild storms and shifting bars that confound the navigators in this locality. Ere long he had to attend closely to business, for the channel to Lymington is narrow and tortuous, being navigable only at high tide. A large coaling steamer partly obstructed our way and called forth a series of marine objurgations from our friend, but he quickly swung to the pier and the motor soon scrambled out of her little craft up the steep bank to terra firma.

We find that our jaunt in the Isle of Wight has covered only seventy miles and occupied just a day; still, thanks to our trusty car, we have seen about all the points of interest that the average tourist would care to see and which it would have required several days to visit in the ordinary manner of travel.


[Pg 298]


One will find Lyndhurst in New Forest a pleasant place for a day’s rest after returning from the Isle of Wight to the mainland. Especially is this so if it be early in the summer before the more crowded season comes on. The town will be fairly quiet then and the Crown Inn has an air of solid comfort that almost takes it out of the class of resort hotels. Its spacious gardens to the rear afford a sylvan retreat that is an agreeable variation from an almost continual life on the open road. Lyndhurst, it is true, is no longer the retired village of half a century ago, when Leighton and Millais came here to get away from busy London and to pursue their sketching without interruption. The rather ugly red brick church just over the way from the Crown evidences Lyndhurst’s modernity, though its distressing newness may be momentarily forgotten in contemplation of Leighton’s great altar piece, illustrating the story of the ten virgins.

One may care little about William Rufus, who was so fond of hunting in New Forest and who, while engaged in his favorite pastime, was killed by[Pg 299] a forester’s arrow; yet a pilgrimage to the spot where he is said to have fallen is worth while—not merely to see the iron casting which encases the old stone, but to view one of the prettiest glades in the forest. We came early in the day, which is the time to come to avoid the crowds of trippers who flock here in season, and we had undivided possession of the scene of sylvan beauty. A shaded byway leads to the main road, which soon brings us to Romsey.

There is little to detain the wayfarer in Romsey aside from the abbey church, whose high roof reaches almost to the top of its central tower—in fact, the noble bulk of the church rises over the town, completely dwarfing the low buildings that crowd closely around it. One can but admire its great size and perfect proportions, and though there may be incongruous details, these will hardly be noticed by the layman.

The interior is almost pure Norman—massive pillars supporting the great rounded arches. The height and size of the columns give the church an impressiveness that is hardly surpassed by any other in the Kingdom, and after Durham, it easily ranks as the finest example of Norman architecture extant. It dates mainly from the twelfth century, and a Saxon church previously occupied the site, slight remains of this being incorporated into the present building. The most remarkable Saxon relic is a[Pg 300] life-size image of Christ upon the cross, of a type not found later than the eleventh century.

There is often a gruesome side to the old English church—a bit of human skin flayed from a living church robber is shown at Gloucester, frightful effigies representing decayed corpses at Canterbury and Sherborne, and at Romsey a broad plait of human hair, found in recent restoration work. It was in a leaden casket and even the bones had mouldered to dust, but the soft brown hair was almost unaltered, and it is thought to have adorned the head of some Roman maiden, for the casket showed traces of Roman work. The old caretaker has reserved this weird little relic for the last of his wonders—we leave the abbey and pass out into the sunshine of the perfect summer day. We shall not soon forget Romsey Abbey Church and we cast more than one backward glance as its giant bulk recedes in the distance.


Surely Twyford, a few miles south of Winchester, has quite outlived any claim to its one-time title of “Queen of Hampshire villages.” It has paid the price of its popularity; modern brick buildings crowd upon its creeper-clad cottages or have superseded them altogether. Its church has been restored to the point of newness, and its yew tree, locally reputed to be the largest in England, is easily surpassed by the one at Selborne. Still, Twyford is[Pg 301] not without an especial interest to American visitors. Here stands the Elizabethan mansion where Benjamin Franklin penned his autobiography while a guest of the vicar of St. Asaphs. The rambling old house with a fine stretch of lawn in front of it may be plainly seen from the road.

No matter how frequently the wanderer may pause in Winchester, the attraction of the ancient capital can never be outworn. One might spend a day among the college buildings, whose rough flint walls and slate roofs, sagging but little beneath the weight of years, stand much the same as when the builder finished them six hundred years ago. Nor should St. Cross and its quaint brotherhood, one of those strange medieval charities, be forgotten. A great quadrangle of buildings and an elaborate church, all for “thirteen poor men decayed and past their strength,” seems a great means for a small achievement. Much has fallen into disuse, but the church is still in good condition and in many respects a remarkable piece of architecture. But after all, Winchester’s greatest charm is not in her college or her cathedral, but in her old-world streets and odd corners. Nor should one forget the shops in which antiques of merit in furniture, books and other articles may be found.

A broad easy road leads from Winchester through Alton to Jane Austen’s Chawton, from[Pg 302] whence a secluded byway brings us to Selborne, a nook that every tourist knows. But Selborne, nestling beneath its hills, its thatched cottages and weather-worn buildings stretching along a wide grass-grown street, has no hint of the resort town. There are other villages in the Hampshire and Surrey hills that may match it, but none of them had a Gilbert White to give it immortality.

The street was quite deserted on the drowsy summer afternoon when we checked our car under the great tree beneath which the village worthys congregate in Selborne. A shopkeeper pointed out the Wakes, once White’s vicarage, which a modern owner has extended into a large rambling house, probably bearing little resemblance to the modest home of the curate of Selborne. Still, it incorporates his cottage, though red brick and tile have displaced the half-timber gables and thatched roof. But his church is not much altered and the giant yew, the largest we saw in England, is still standing, hale and green. Its circumference measured twenty-three feet in White’s time, and he declared that its years must be at least coeval with Christianity. Its girth at present exceeds twenty-five feet. One cannot stand beneath it without being impressed with its hoary antiquity, and the great events that crowd the procession of years which have passed over the old tree quite overwhelm one.

[Pg 303]

Indeed, it must have stood here when the Romans ruled in Britain; it was sturdy and green when the Conqueror came a thousand summers past, and it looks today as if it well might weather the storms of a third millennium. Such historic trees have almost a human personality; and, fortunately, they are carefully guarded by an enlightened public sentiment in England.

The day is a quiet one in Selborne; we have the yew tree and church all to ourselves. We wander about the churchyard and with difficulty locate the unpretentious headstone with the almost illegible initials, “G. W.”—a simple memorial, indeed—though inside the church there is an appropriate tablet to the memory of the well beloved naturalist. One can easily see how he could lead in Selborne the simple studious life reflected in his works. Verily, we need a revival of his plain common sense today when the fiction of the nature-faker bids fair to supersede the facts of natural history.

From Selborne it is but a step across the border into the downs of Sussex—“Green Sussex, fading into blue,” as the poet so aptly puts it. The low sun strikes along the rough hills as we enter Midhurst, nestling in a nook in the downs and reached by rather difficult roads. It is a quiet town with an air of thorough self-contentment; a town of weather-beaten houses with over-hanging timbered[Pg 304] gables, sagging tile roofs and diamond-paned casements; one long wide street sweeps through it with narrow crooked lanes branching to either side—an unspoiled old-country town, as yet quite undiscovered by the globe-trotters.

And yet Midhurst is not without historic importance, having been a place of considerable size at the time of the Conquest. The site of its strong castle which once stood on the banks of the pretty little river, Rother, is now marked only by a grass-covered mound; but it was once the home of a powerful Norman family, the Bohuns, who in 1547 entertained King Edward VI. in great splendor. Nor is Midhurst wanting in associations with famous men, for Sir Charles Lyell, the great geologist, and Richard Cobden, the “Father of English Free Trade,” received their early education in the ancient grammar school which may yet be seen.

But the romance of Midhurst is in Cowdray Park, the estate which adjoins the town. What a pity it is that the mansion and the story did not seize the fancy of Walter Scott—who alone could have done it justice. We entered the park and drove through an avenue of giant chestnuts directly to the shattered palace. And what a glorious ruin it is, with its immense stone-mullioned windows, its great grouped chimneys, and sculptured mantels and bosses that cling to the wall here and there. Though[Pg 305] roofless, the walls are almost entire, and over them the ivy flings its dark mantle and falls in heavy masses from the broken battlements. One does not care to analyze the ruin into its component parts—what did we care for hall and chapel and chamber? It is the impression that came to us as we wandered through it in the fading light that lingers with us now. What a memory it is of darkened halls, of great empty windows, through which the light falls mellow and ghostly, and of weird traditions which the old crone who keeps the key constantly droned in our ears.


The curse of Cowdray has made more than one listener shudder and turn pale and even those who listen as we do in benevolent scepticism can only say, “Strange—strange!” For the lands of Cowdray were rent from the monkish owners by the ruthless Henry and were given into the possession of the first viscount of Montague, who built the splendid palace, one of the costliest and most imposing in the Kingdom. It was in no sense a fortified castle, but a great baronial residence, standing on low-lying grounds with no attempt at strength of position. In some respects the palace recalls Kirby Hall, though here ruin is more complete.

When the last monkish habitant departed from the lands of Cowdray, he left his curse upon them: that the line of the Montagues should per[Pg 306]ish by fire and water. It was long in being fulfilled, but in 1793 the palace was destroyed by fire and the last Montague was drowned in a foolhardy attempt to swim across the Rhine above the Falls of Schoffhausen. He must have perished without knowing the fate of his ancestral home. With the palace were burned many works of art and antiquities of inestimable value, among the latter the roll of Battle Abbey and the coronation robes and sword of William the Conqueror. The estate descended to the sister of Lord Montague, who, dreading the curse, is said to have guarded her two sons with the greatest care, even filling the fish ponds near her home and keeping the youths jealously away from sea and river. Yet one day they escaped from the care of their attendants and were both drowned in the sea at Bognor. The broken-hearted mother sold Cowdray to the Earl of Egremont, who had no issue to inherit it. But the curse seems to cling to it still—after our visit a wealthy London contractor purchased the estate and began a thorough repair of the modern house (not the ruined palace), but while the work was in progress the mansion caught fire and was burned to the ground.

Darkness overtakes us as we sweep along the hills toward Worthing, where we arrive by lamplight. Morning reveals a quiet and somewhat secluded watering-town, patronized by people who[Pg 307] seek to get away from the ceremony and expense of such places as Brighton and Bournemouth. Its hotels are unpretentious, comfortable and accommodating—qualities not so common to resort inns as to go without notice. But Worthing is modern; there is little to detain one on such a pilgrimage as our own. We follow the broad white road which climbs steadily northward from the sea to the distant hills and winds among them to the dreary hamlet of Washington. The name, so familiar to us, bears no reference to the distinguished family. It is of old Saxon derivation—Wasa-inga-tun (town of the sons of Wasa).

From the Original Painting by Daniel Sherrin.

Near at hand is Warminghurst, once the Sussex home of William Penn, who bought the great house in 1676. One of his children died here and is buried in Coolham churchyard close by. Penn was wont to attend services at the meeting house not far away, which was built of timbers taken from one of his ships. It goes locally by the strange designation of “The Blue Idol”—just why, no one seemed to know—and we wandered long in unmarked byroads ere we found it. It is a mile and a half from Coolham, and one follows for a mile a narrow lane branching from the Billingshurst road.

The simple old caretaker lives in a modern addition to the chapel and tills the plot of ground in connection with it. The chapel is a low brick-and-[Pg 308]timber building whose interior is the plainest imaginable; a half dozen high-backed benches, a platform pulpit without a stand, and a few books made up its furnishings. As at Jordans, the women sat during worship in a gallery which could be cut off by a sliding partition in case of interruption by persecutors. The old law forbade the assembling of women in the Quaker meetings, but from the gallery they could participate in the services, yet could instantly be shut out of the room if the king’s officers should arrive. Outside, the chapel is surrounded by greensward and tall trees, and the old man was mowing the grass in the tiny burying-ground. Services are still held at intervals, as they have been for the past two centuries or more. Probably the spot was chosen on account of its very retirement, since when the chapel was built it was a criminal offense for the Quakers to assemble in any place of worship. The chapel is unaltered and seems quite as remote and lonely as it must have been in Penn’s time; and the spirit of that old day comes very near as one stands in the tiny room where the founder of the great American Commonwealth was wont to worship according to his conscience, coming hither from Warminghurst in his heavy ox-wagon.


We now begin an uninterrupted run to the east through Mid-Sussex over an unsurpassed road[Pg 309] to Cuckfield, Hayward’s Heath, and Uckfield. We continue on the London and Eastbourne road to Hailsham, from whence a digression of three or four miles brings us to the ruins of Herstmonceux Castle. Though styled a castle, it was really a great castellated country mansion, never intended as a defensive fortress. It reminds one in a certain way of Cowdray, though it lacks much of the beauty and grace of the Midhurst palace, and its conversion by its owner into a picnic ground also does much to detract.

The story of its destruction is peculiar. It was deliberately dismantled and partially torn down in 1777 by its owner, who used the materials in erecting a smaller house, now called Herstmonceux Place, which would be less expensive to maintain. It is interesting to know that Wyatt, the architect who dealt so barbarously with Salisbury and Hereford Cathedrals, was the advisor of this wanton destruction. The last descendant of the original owner died in 1662, and since then the estate has changed hands many times. It is now one of the most popular tripper resorts in Sussex and during the summer months the daily visitors number hundreds.

It is not our wont to trouble ourselves much with the sober history of such places, but there is one melancholy incident of the early days of the palace which has weird interest for the wanderer[Pg 310] who stands amidst the shattered grandeur, and which we may best relate in the words of an English historian:

“Lord Dacre, of Herstmonceux, a young nobleman of high spirit and promise, not more than twenty-four years old, was tempted by his own folly, or that of his friends, to join a party to kill deer in the park of an unpopular neighbor. The excitement of lawless adventure was probably the chief or only inducement for the expedition; but the party were seen by the foresters; a fray ensued, in which one of the latter was mortally wounded and died two days after.

“Had Lord Dacre been an ordinary offender he would have been disposed of summarily. Both he and his friends happened to be general favorites. The Privy Council hesitated long before they resolved on a prosecution and at last it is likely they were assisted by a resolution from the King.

“‘I found all the Lords at the Star Chamber,’ Sir William Paget wrote to Wriothesley, ‘assembled for a conference touching Lord Dacre’s case. They had with them present the Chief Justice with others of the King’s learned council, and albeit I was excluded, yet they spoke so loud, some of them, that I might hear them notwithstanding two doors shut between us. Among the rest that could not agree to wilful murder, the Lord Cobham, as I took[Pg 311] him by his voice, was very vehement and stiff.’ They adjourned at last to the King’s Bench. The Lord Chancellor was appointed High Steward and the prisoner was brought up to the bar. He pleaded ‘not guilty,’ he said that he intended no harm, he was very sorry for the death of the forester, but it had been caused in an accidental struggle; and ‘surely,’ said Paget, who was president, ‘it was a pitiful sight to see a young man brought by his own folly into so miserable a state.’ The lords, therefore, as it seems they had determined among themselves, persuaded him to withdraw his plea and submit to the King’s clemency. He consented; and they repaired immediately to the Court to intercede for his pardon. Eight persons in all were implicated—Lord Dacre and seven companions. The young nobleman was the chief object of commiseration; but the King remained true to his principles of equal justice; the frequency of crimes of violence had required extraordinary measures of repression; and if a poor man was to be sent to the gallows for an act into which he might be tempted by poverty, thoughtlessness could not be admitted as an adequate excuse because the offender was a peer. Four out of the eight were pardoned. For Lord Dacre there was to the last an uncertainty. He was brought to the scaffold, when an order arrived to stay the execution, probably to give time for a last appeal to[Pg 312] Henry. But if it was so the King was inexorable. Five hours later the sheriff was again directed to do his duty; and the full penalty was paid.”

Leaving the ruined mansion we drop down to the seashore, passing Bexhill on the way to Hastings, which is now a modern city of sixty-five thousand people, its red-brick, tile-roofed houses rising in terraces overlooking the sea. Once it was an important seaport, but here the sea has advanced and wiped out the harbor, and it is now chiefly known as a watering-place. A few miles from the town was fought the Battle of Hastings, which stamped the name so deeply on English history and marked the overthrow of the Saxon dynasty. On a precipitous hill looking far over town and sea stands the scanty ruin of its castle, whose story is much clouded, though legend declares it was built by the Conqueror.

Far greater is the attraction of the unspoiled old towns of Winchelsea and Rye, a few miles farther on the coast road. A former visit gives them a familiar look, but we stop an hour in Rye. The receding sea robbed these towns of their importance hundreds of years ago, and their daily life is now quite undisturbed by modern progress. Each occupies a commanding hill separated by a few miles of low-lying land. A local writer makes the truest appeal for Rye when he declares that it gives us[Pg 313] today a presentment of a town of centuries earlier. “Rye,” he says, “is southern and opulent in coloring. There is here mellowness, a gracious beauty; one has the feeling that every house and garden is the pride and love of its owner, and indeed this impression is a true one, for it is the characteristic of Rye to inspire the loving admiration of its inhabitants, whether native-born or drawn thither in later life.”

Rye has a magnificent church, the largest in Sussex, which overshadows the town from the very crest of the hill. A very unusual church it is, with a low cone-pointed tower and triple roofs lying alongside each other. At the end of the nave are three immense stone-mullioned windows, very effective and imposing, though the glass is modern. Queen Elizabeth presented to the church the remarkable old tower clock which has marked time steadily for more than three hundred years. The pendulum swings low inside, describing a wide arc only a little above the preacher’s head.

From Original Water Color by Theresa Thorp, A. R. M. S.

Rye itself is quite as interesting as its church, a place of crooked lanes and odd buildings, among which the hospital pictured in such a realistic manner by our artist is one of the most notable. It is a splendid combination of stucco and timber, with red tiled gables and diamond-paned lattice windows. Much else there is in Rye to tempt one to linger, but the sun is setting and we are off on the fine level[Pg 314] road to Folkestone. For the latter half of the distance we run along the very edge of the ocean—as we saw it, fifteen miles of shimmering twilight water. Those who are attracted by the gruesome will pause at the old church in Hythe to see the strange collection of human remains, thousands of skulls and bones, that are ranged on shelves or piled in heaps on the floor in the crypt. Whence these ghastly relics came, antiquarians dispute; but local tradition has it that a great battle was fought near Hythe, between the Britons and Danes, and these bones are the remains of the slain. Be that as it may, one does not care to linger—a mere glance at such a charnel house is quite sufficient.

Folkestone may well contest with Brighton, Bournemouth and Portsmouth for first honors among English watering-places. We have seen nearly all of them and we should be inclined, in some particulars, to give the honors to Folkestone; but let those who enjoy such places be the judges. Anyway, there are few statelier hotels in England than those on the east cliff and few that occupy a more magnificent site. At the Grand they are more willing to permit you to take ease than at most English hotels of its class. You are not required under penalty to be on hand for dinner at a certain hour, announced usually by a strident gong, and to make the pretense of swallowing an almost uneatable table d[Pg 315]’hote concoction pushed along by a vigilant waiter bent on making all possible speed. This hotel and many others stand on the east cliff several hundred feet above the sea, but one may reach the shore by a lift, or if inclined to exercise, by a steep winding pathway. On moderately clear days, the white line of the French coast may be seen from the hotel.

Very like to Folkstone is Dover, but seven miles farther up the coast, and thither we proceed over a steep road closely following the sea. Dover was chief of the cinque ports of olden days and its small bay still affords shelter for shipping, including ocean-going steamers. But the first thing that catches the pilgrim’s eye when he comes into Dover is the splendidly preserved, or rather restored, castle, which stands in sullen inaccessibility on the clifflike hill overlooking the city. We make the stiff climb up to the castle gateway, only to be halted by the guard with the information that we are an hour early. We have had such experiences before and we suggest that no possible harm can be done by admitting us at once.

“I really cawn’t do it, sir,” said the guard. “Some of the guards got careless in letting people in before hours and the Colonel says he will court-martial the next one who does it.”

Of course this silences our importunity and we engage our soldier friend in conversation. Why[Pg 316] did he enter the army?—Because a common man has no chance in England; he was going to the dogs and the army seemed the best opportunity open to him. He had enlisted three years ago and it had made a man of him, to use his own words. He rather looked it, too—a husky young fellow with a fairly good face.

The castle is strongly fortified and garrisoned by a regiment of soldiers. The interior of the court is largely occupied by barrack buildings, and of the ancient castle the keep is the most important portion left. It was built to withstand the ages, for its walls are twenty-three feet in thickness and it rises to a height of nearly one hundred feet. Within it is a well three hundred feet deep, supposed to have been sunk by the Saxon king, Harold. The primitive chapel dates from Norman times. There are also remains of the foundation of the lighthouse that occupied the commanding height, long

“ere the tanner’s daughter’s son
From Harold’s hand his realm had won.”

Dover has other antiquities, among them a church so old that its origin has been quite forgotten. Roman brick was used in its construction, probably by Saxon builders. Over against the town gleams the white chalk of Shakespeare’s Cliff, so called because of the reference in King Lear. Queen Eliz[Pg 317]abeth visited Dover and vented her wit for rhyming on its mayor, who, standing on a stool, began,

“Welcome, gracious Queen,”

only to get for his pains,

“O gracious fool,
Get off that stool.”

The eastern Kentish coast, lying nearest to the continent, once had many towns of importance that have since dwindled and decayed. Among these is Sandwich, once second of the cinque ports; but the coast line receded until it is now two miles away. The town contains some of the richest bits of medieval architecture in England. The wall which once surrounded it may still be traced and one of the original gateways is intact. We drove through the narrow crooked lanes that serve as streets in Sandwich, and could scarce believe the population no more than three thousand. The low lichen-covered buildings, with leaning walls and sagging, dull-red tiles, straggle over enough space for a city of three or four times the size. There is no touch of newness anywhere; no note of inharmonious color jars with the silver grays, grayish greens and brownish reds that prevail on every hand; no black and white paint destroys the beauty of the brick and timber fronts and gables. Most of the houses have but one story and the streets run with delightful disregard[Pg 318] of straight lines and bid defiance to points of the compass. The two churches with splendid open-beamed oak roofs are well in keeping with the spirit of the surrounding twelfth and thirteenth century structures. They stand a mute evidence of the one-time greatness and prosperity of Sandwich. One of the old houses is pointed out as the stopping-place of Queen Elizabeth when she was touring the Kentish coast.

From Sandwich we skim along smooth, level roads to Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate, the last of the long chain of resort towns of the southeastern coast stretching from Land’s End to the Thames River. What an array of them there is: Penzance, Torquay, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Brighton, Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings, Folkestone, Dover, Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Margate, and a host of lesser lights. We have seen them nearly all and many more such places on the northern and western coasts, as well as a number of inland resorts. It is therefore a phase of England with which we have become fairly familiar, and the old towns and isolated ruins seem only the more charming and time-mellowed by contrast with the crowded and sometimes gaudy modern resorts. Margate, situated just at the mouth of the Thames on low-lying grounds, is one of the most pretentious of all.

A few miles out of Margate we turn from the[Pg 319] main Canterbury road into a byway from which we enter the lanes through the fields and farmyards. The country is level and intersected everywhere by sluggish drains; but the wheatfields, nearly ready for the harvest, are as fine as we have seen in England. From afar we catch sight of the twin towers of the ruined church at Reculver, the object of our meanderings in the fen-land lanes. We halt in the tiny hamlet beneath the shadow of the grim sentinels on the sea-washed headland. The old caretaker hastens to meet us and is eager to relate the story of the ruin. Aside from the towers there is nothing but fragments of the walls; he points out clearly where portions of a Roman temple were incorporated into the Saxon church, and also the Saxon work that the Normans used. One hundred years ago, this remarkable church was nearly intact; but the rapid encroachment of the sea upon the brittle rock on which the structure stands convinced a short-sighted vicar that it would soon be undermined by the waves. It was therefore torn down, with the exception of the towers, and the stone used for a small church farther inland. The sea is now held in check by stone and timber riprap and though it gnaws at the very foot of the ruin, there seems little chance that it will farther advance. Besides the church there are the remains of a great Roman castrum, or fort, at Reculver: a strong wall, several[Pg 320] feet high in places, once enclosed a space of considerable extent, though a large part has been inundated by the sea.

One will never weary of Canterbury; come as often as he may he will always feel a thrill of pleasure as the great cathedral towers break on his vision. And indeed there is nothing of the kind in all Britain finer than these same towers. We reach the town later than we planned and hasten to the cathedral, but the guide, wearied with troops of holiday visitors during the day, tells us we are too late. We find means, however, to extend our time and to enlist his willing services; and thus we come to see every detail of the magnificent church as we could hardly have done earlier in the day. It has no place in this chronicle, this

“mother minster vast
That guards Augustine’s rugged throne,”

about which volumes have been written and with whose history and traditions the guide-books fairly teem. We have visited it before during a Sunday-morning service, but its vast dim aisles, its great crypts, its storied shrines and tombs, and the ivy-clad ruin of its old monastery, all make a strangely different impression when viewed in the deepening shadows of the departing day.

After sunset we wander about the old streets,[Pg 321] where even the more modern buildings conform to the all-pervading air of antiquity. It is the close of the Saturday holiday and the main street is packed with a cheerful crowd of people of all degrees. Shop-keepers improve the opportunity to sell their wares and a lively trade is carried on at the open booths along the walks. One butcher is especially active in booming business, having a fellow in front of his place, a “barker,” we would style him in the States, who bellows in a voice like a foghorn, “Lovely meat! the same that the king and nobility heats—lovely meat.” Surely a recommendation that would shake the resolution of a confirmed vegetarian.

But we soon weary of the glare and noise of the crowded street. We wander into the crooked lanes that lead to the nooks and corners about the cathedral. We catch the towers from different viewpoints; as they stand, boldly outlined against an opalescent sky flecked with red-toned clouds, they form a fit study for the artist—and one of which the artist has often availed himself. The college court is full of shadows; how easy it would be to imagine a cowled figure stealing along in the dusk and passing from sight in the Norman entrance yonder—than which there is no choicer bit of medieval architecture in the Kingdom.

We have the whole of the following day to[Pg 322] reach London; and what a superb day it is, the very essence of the beauty of English midsummer! We have been over the Rochester and Maidstone road before, so we take the narrow and hilly but marvelously picturesque highway that drops some fourteen miles straight southward. The country through which it passes is distinctly rural, with here and there a grove or a farmhouse. A little to one side is Petham, a quiet hamlet under gigantic trees, with a half-timbered inn seemingly out of all proportion to the possible needs of the place. The main road running from Hythe, near the coast, through Ashford to Tunbridge Wells, a distance of about fifty miles, is one of the finest in the Kingdom. It runs in broad, sweeping curves through a gently undulating country, and the grades are seldom enough to check the motor’s flight. It had lately been re-surfaced and much of the way oiled or asphalted, quite eliminating dust. We pass much charming country, wooded hills, stretches of meadowland, fields of yellowing grains, and many sleepy villages, all shimmering in the lucent air of a perfect summer day. The sky is as blue as one ever sees it in England, and a few silvery-white clouds drift lazily across it. It is what the natives call a very warm day, but it seems only balmy to us.

From Original Painting by Alfred Elias.

Bethesden, Biddenden and Lamberhurst all attract our attention. The second has a very quaint[Pg 323] old inn on the market square, with a queer little ivy-covered tower; but Lamberhurst hardly merits the extravagant praise given it by William Cobbett in his “Rural Rides”—“one of the most beautiful villages that man ever set eyes upon.” Still, it may have altered somewhat since his time; there are few red-brick villas among the older cottages. It is, none the less, a pleasant place, rich with verdure and bright with flowers, and picturesquely situated on a gently rising hill. Coming on this road, one gets the best conception of the really magnificent situation of Tunbridge Wells, and cannot wonder that it has gained such popularity. The main part of the town lies in a depression in the undulating downs, its villas, houses and streets all set down on a liberal scale with plenty of room for trees, in whose luxuriant foliage the place is half hidden. All around stretches the wavelike succession of the hills, diversified with forest and bright with heather and gorse. Thackeray was very fond of Tunbridge Wells and his enthusiastic words in “Round About Papers” breathe much of the spirit of the place:

[Pg 324]

“I stroll over the common and survey the beautiful purple hills around, twinkling with a thousand bright villas which have sprung up over this charming ground since first I saw it. What an admirable scene of peace and plenty! What a delicious air breathes over the heath, blows the cloud-shadows across it, and murmurs through the full-clad trees! Can the world show a land fairer, richer, more cheerful?”

We pause at the excellent though rather unpretentious Grand Hotel for our late luncheon; and as a final adieu to the pleasant town, drive through its commons with their strange wind-worn stones, before setting out Londonward. We pass on into Sussex as far as Grinstead and there strike the direct London road through Epsom, where we have a glimpse of the famous racing downs. The quiet, staid-looking old town gives no hint of the furor that possesses it on Derby days. A few miles farther we enter the outskirts of London.

[Pg 325]


We are off for the Emerald Isle. There was much of interest in the three days between London and Dublin, but I will not follow our journey here; in a later chapter I will endeavor to gather some of the scattered threads. We reach Ludlow the first night, one hundred and forty-eight miles in six hours—very speedy going for us—but a day from Ludlow to Barmouth and another to Holyhead is more in keeping with our usual leisurely progress.

One can never truly feel the plaintive sweetness of Lady Dufferin’s song until with his own eyes he beholds the melancholy beauty of the “Sweet Bay of Dublin.” We enter its gates in the opalescent light of a perfect morning. The purple mists hanging over the headlands are glowing with the first rays of the sun and the pale emerald waters flash into burnished gold as the low beams strike along their surface.

The voyage has been an easy one; our tickets were purchased, our cabin reserved, and provision made for the transport of the motor, all in a few minutes at the office of the Royal Automobile Club[Pg 326] in London, and the genial touring-secretary, Mr. Maroney, has supplied us with necessary maps and information. We have not long to wait at the pier; a swinging crane picks up the car from the boat and carefully deposits it on the pavement. A railway employee is at hand with a supply of petrol and we are soon ready for the road. The night voyage has been a comfortable one; we were able to go aboard at nine o’clock and take possession of our cabin, quite as large and well-appointed as those of the best ocean-going steamers, and breakfast was served on the ship. Altogether, nothing is easier than a trip to Ireland with a motor car if one only goes about it rightly.

An unknown land lies before us. Much has been written of Ireland—books of travel, history, and fiction—and poets have sung her beauties and sorrows; we have read much of the Island, but nothing that has given us more than a hint of what we are about to see. To know Ireland, one must take a pilgrim’s staff, as it were; he must study her ruins and ancient monuments, see her cities and her towns, her half-deserted villages, her wretched hovels and her lonely places, and above all, must meet and know her people; then, after all, he can only say to others, “If you wish to know the reality, go and do likewise.”

Dublin is a handsomely built modern city of[Pg 327] three hundred thousand inhabitants and has an air of general prosperity. It has much of interest, but it does not rightly belong in this chronicle. The low hum of our motor calls us to the open road, the green fields, and the unfrequented villages. We are soon away on the Carlow road with Cork as our objective.

The road out of Dublin is distressingly rough as compared with English highways, though it improves before we reach Naas. Our first impressions are distinctly melancholy; a “deserted village”—a row of stone cottages, roofless, windowless, and with crumbling or fallen walls—speaks of Ireland’s sorrows more plainly than any words. And such sad reminders are not uncommon; wholly or partly ruined villages greet us every little while on the way.

Naas, the first town of any size, is dirty and unattractive, but its historic importance ill accords with its present meanness. Its traditions are not antedated by any town in the Island; it was once the capital of the Leinster kings—half-clad savages, no doubt, but kings none the less. Cromwell thought it important enough to visit, and incidentally wiped its strong castle out of existence. Rory O’More a century later burned it to the ground, destroying some eight hundred houses—it has not so many now. Adjoining the town is the ruin of Jigginstown House, an unfinished palace begun on a vast scale by the[Pg 328] Earl of Strafford, who expected to entertain Charles I. here; but Charles failed to arrive and the Earl had other matters—among them the loss of his head—to engage his attention.

The road to the south of Naas lies in broad, straight stretches and the surface is better, but we found it almost deserted. This impressed us not a little. We ran many miles, meeting no one; there were few houses—only wide reaches of meadowland with but few trees—and altogether the country seemed quite uninhabited.

Carlow, scarce thirty miles from Naas, is rather above the average, though it has the bare appearance characteristic of the Irish town. We had been rather dreading the country-town hotels and here we had our first experience. The Club House—why so called we did not learn—is a building not unsightly inside, but on entering it is with difficulty we could find anyone to minister to our wants. Finally an untidy old man with bushy whiskers appeared and officiated as porter, chambermaid, and waiter. He was slow in performing his duties, but the luncheon was better than we had hoped for. He took our money when we left, but whether he was boots or proprietor, we never learned.

Cromwell and Rory O’More paid their compliments to Carlow in the same emphatic manner as at Naas. There remains but little of the castle[Pg 329] excepting the huge round towers that flanked the entrance. Just out of the town is the largest of Ireland’s cromlechs, a mighty rock weighing one hundred tons, supported on massive upright granite blocks.

Kilkenny is twenty miles farther south. Its castle, the home of the Duke of Ormonde, is perhaps the most notable private residence in Ireland. It is of ancient origin, but its present state is due to modern restoration; no longer is it a fortress, but a castellated mansion of great extent. It is situated on rising ground lying directly on the river. The front facade, flanked by two great circular towers, heavily mantled with ivy, presents a highly-imposing appearance. The most notable feature of the interior is the art gallery, which is declared to be one of the most important in the Kingdom.


Kilkenny Cathedral is of great antiquity, having been begun early in the eleventh century. Close to it stands one of the round towers so characteristic of early Irish architecture. The town has a population of about ten thousand, and though apparently prosperous, there was everywhere evident the untidiness that was more or less typical of the southern Irish towns.

Clonmel, however, easily ranked first in neatness and general up-to-date appearance among the towns we passed on our run to Cork. Here we[Pg 330] came late in the evening, for we had missed our road and gone some miles out of the way. After leaving the vicinity of Dublin, signboards were not to be seen and it was easy to go astray. Houses were not frequent and often the natives could hardly give directions to the nearest town. Before we knew it we were entering Carrick-on-Suir, which we took for Clonmel. Something aroused our suspicions and we hailed a red-faced priest driving in a cart. The good father was much befuddled and his honest efforts afforded us little enlightenment, but we finally learned to our chagrin that Clonmel was about twenty miles to the west.

Night was falling rapidly and the car leaped onward over a narrow, grass-grown byroad, passing here and there a farm cottage from which the inmates rushed in open-mouthed surprise. We soon came into the main road and reached the town just at dark. The hotel proved quite comfortable, though distinctly Irish in many particulars; but perhaps our judgment as to what constitutes comfort in an inn was somewhat modified by the day’s experiences; we were hardly so critical as we should have been across the channel.

We had come to Clonmel solely to pass the night, since it was the only place where we might count on fair accommodations. We had gone somewhat out of our way, for we must turn northward[Pg 331] for Cashel, whose cathedral is perhaps the most remarkable ruin in the Kingdom. It is nearly twenty miles from Clonmel, and the road is surprisingly good.

We soon came in sight of the mighty rock which legend—ever busy in Ireland—declares was torn from the distant hills by the enraged devil and flung far out into the plain of Tipperary. When the fiend performed this wonderful feat, it perhaps did not occur to him that he was supplying a site for a church; but had he exercised moderate foresight he would have known that no such opportunity would be neglected by the cathedral builders. And so it chanced that more than a thousand years ago the fortified church that rears its vast granite bulk upon the rock was begun. It grew by various accretions until it stood complete in the twelfth century. It has passed through fire and siege, but the massy walls are still as solid as the granite on which they stand. The roadway winds up the side of the rock and we are able to drive to the very entrance. A group of youngsters is awaiting us, and one unspeakably dirty and ragged little fellow volunteers to “watch the car.”

The custodian greets us at the gate, a keen old fellow, well posted in the history and tradition of his native land and speaking with little trace of brogue. He learns that we are from America; his[Pg 332] brother is over there and doing well, as he reckons it, in that Eldorado of every Irishman forced to remain at home.

“O, yes! it is a great country, and how closely the old sod is bound to it; there is no house that you will pass in all your journeys that has not someone there. It has been the one hope of my life to go to America, but it has slipped away from me. I am too old now and must die and be buried in Cashel.”

He said this with a look of sadness, which suddenly forsook his face as he noted our interest in the ruin. It was the joy of his life to tell the story of its every nook and corner.

We found a strange mixture of art and crudity; the square, unadorned lines of the walls and towers would not lead one to expect the exquisite artistic touches that are seen here and there. The great structure once served the purpose of a royal residence as well as a cathedral. The date of the stone-roofed chapel is placed at 1127; that of the perfect round tower is unknown, though doubtless much earlier. The active history of the cathedral-fortress closed with its surrender to the forces of Cromwell, which was followed by the massacre of the garrison and dismantling of the buildings.


Our guide urges us to ascend the tower—it is the day of all days to see the golden vale of Tip[Pg 333]perary from such a viewpoint—and indeed the prospect proves an enchanting one. It is a perfect day and the emerald-green valley lies shimmering under the expanse of pale-blue sky. In the far distance on every hand are the purple outlines of the hills—they call them mountains in Ireland—and stretching away toward them the pleasant fields intersected by sinuous threads of country roads. The landscape is cut up into little patches by the stone fences and gleams with tiny whitewashed cottages. Flashing streams course through the valley and herds of cattle graze upon the luxuriant grasses. It is a scene of perfect peace, and though the lot of the people may be one of poverty, it is doubtless one of contentment. Right at the foot of the ruin-crowned rock lies the wretched little town, and on leaving the cathedral we stop in the market place. A busy scene greets our eyes; it is market day and the people of the surrounding country are thronging the streets. The market place is full of donkey carts and our car seems in strange company. Old crones with shawls thrown over their heads, barefooted and brown as Indians, are selling gooseberries and cabbages. There appears to be little else in the market and business is far from brisk. There are many husky farmers from the country and bright-looking young maidens that seem of a different race from the old[Pg 334] market women. We see and hear much to interest us during our hour’s stop in Cashel.

To one other Tipperary shrine we must make a pilgrimage—Holy Cross Abbey, which is only a few miles away. We see its low square tower just above the trees as we approach the town which bears the same name as the abbey, and we find the caretaker living in wretchedly dirty quarters in a part of the ruin. A genuine surprise awaits the visitor to Holy Cross Abbey. Like Cashel, its outlines give no hint of the superb and even delicate touches of art one will find about the ruin. Nothing of the kind could be more perfect than the east window, in which the stone tracery and slender mullions are quite intact, and there are other windows, doors and arches of artistic design and execution. The abbey stands on the banks of the Suir, and it is just across the shallow river that one gets the finest viewpoint. It took its name from the tradition that it once possessed a portion of the true cross which had been given it by Queen Eleanor of England, one of whose six sons was buried here. And thus it chances that a brother of Richard the Lion-Hearted sleeps amid the mouldering fragments of Holy Cross. The footprints of history cross and recross one another in these ancient shrines, and how often they bring remote sections of the Kingdom to common ground!


[Pg 335]

Leaving Cashel on the main highway to Cork, we begin to verify the stories we have heard of the dreadful condition of much of the Irish roads. We have so far found them stony, rough and ill-kept in places, but on the whole fair to one who has had much experience with very bad roads. But we now come into a broad stone road that has been neglected for years, and words are quite inadequate to characterize it. It is a series of bumps and depressions over which the car bounces and jumps along, seemingly testing every bolt and rivet to the utmost. Any speed except one so slow as to be out of the question results in the most distressful jolting, to which there is not a moment’s respite. A fine gray dust covers the road to a depth of two or three inches and rolls away from the wheels in dense clouds. There is considerable traffic and for several miles along one section are military barracks; the soldiers are maneuvering on the road with cavalry and artillery. Some of the horses go wild at the car and it is only by great effort that the soldiers bring them under control. But the dust they kick up! It hangs over the road like a fog and makes the sky seem a dull gray. It settles thickly over the car, almost stifling its occupants, for it is really warm. On we go—bounce, bump, half blinded and nearly choked. Why did we ever come to Erin, anyway?—we could have gotten this experience at less cost nearer[Pg 336] home. There are few towns on the road; Caher, Mitchelstown and Fermoy, all bald and untidy, are the only places of any size. We pass through the “mountains” for a considerable distance, but the wretched road and blinding dust distracts attention from the country, which in places is rather pretty. Our route is well away from the railroad and we see much of retired rural sections which would not be easily accessible by other means of travel. The infrequent cottages are mean and dirty, but those we saw later were so much worse that the recollection of the first is nearly effaced.

Never did a hotel seem more inviting to us than did the Imperial at Cork. The car and everything about it is a dirty gray; one tire is flat, and has been—we don’t know how long. But we are fortunate in our hotel and our troubles are soon forgotten. Our room is an immense high-ceilinged apartment with massive furniture and a vast deal of bric-a-brac, including a plaster bust of Washington. There are plenty of settees and easy chairs—things uncommon enough in hotels to merit special mention. We have an excellent dinner served just to suit, and the experiences of the day soon begin to appear in a different light than they did when we were undergoing them. We are soon in the ample[Pg 337] tall-posted beds, clean and unspeakably comfortable, and our sleep is too deep to even dream of Irish roads and motor cars.

[Pg 338]


Cork is the gateway by which a large number of visitors enter Ireland, and is pretty sure to be on the route of anyone making a tour of the Island. It manifestly has no place in this record, nor has Blarney Castle, the most famous ruin in the world—among Americans, at least. And yet, who could write of an Irish tour and make no reference to Blarney. We may be pardoned for a hasty glance at our visit to the castle on the day after our arrival at Cork.

The head porter at the Imperial, clad in his faultless moss-green uniform, the stateliest and clearly the most important man in the hotel, marshals his assistants and they strap our luggage to the car—he does no work himself, nor would anyone be so presumptuous as to expect it of a man of such mighty presence. We recognize the fact that his fee must be in proportion to his dignity, and he receives it much as his forefathers, the ancient Irish kings, exacted tribute from their vassals. He is not content to have us take the direct route to Blarney, only five or six miles, but tells us of a longer but more pic[Pg 339]turesque route and gives us a rather confusing lot of directions, which we have some little difficulty in following. Suffice it to say that after a deal of inquiry and much wandering through steep stony lanes—an aggregate of more than fifteen miles out of our way—we catch sight of the square-topped tower of Blarney and hear the shouts and laughter of a train-load of excursionists who are just arriving.

Though annoying at the time, we now have no regret for the many miles we went astray; we saw much of rural life along these lonely little lanes. We passed tiny huts as wretched as any we saw in Ireland, which is to say they were wretched beyond description; but in them were cheery, good-natured people whose efforts to tell us the way to Blarney only got us farther from it.

Blarney Castle to some extent deserves the encomiums that have been so lavishly heaped upon it. It is the one place in Ireland that every tourist is expected to see; and its fame is probably due more to its mythical Blarney stone than to its historical importance. As we saw it on a perfect summer day, the great square tower with overhanging battlements rising out of the dense emerald foliage and darkly outlined against the bluest of Irish skies, it seemed to breathe the very spirit of chivalry, but a rude, barbarous chivalry, for all that. From the tower, which we ascended by ruinous and difficult[Pg 340] stairs, the view was magnificent, though the groves, famous in song and story, have been largely felled. And after all, Blarney seems rather “blase” on close acquaintance, with its throngs of trippers and souvenir hawkers at every turn. Even the Blarney stone is a sham, a new one having been placed in a rebuilt portion of the wall knocked down by Cromwell’s cannon; the original is said to be quite inaccessible.

During the afternoon we follow the valley of the Lee over a road that averages fairly good and that seldom takes us out of sight of the river. In many places it ascends the rugged hills and affords a far-reaching prospect over the valley. At Macroom, the only town of any size, the road branches; one may cross the hills and reach Killarney in only twenty miles or may follow the coast along Kenmare River and Dingle Bay, a total of about one hundred and twenty miles. While we pause in the village street, a respectable-looking citizen, divining the cause of our hesitation, approaches us. He urges us to take the coast route, for there is nothing finer in Ireland. We can heartily second his enthusiastic claims, but would go farther—there is nothing finer in the world.

The Eccles Hotel is a rambling old house, situated at the head of Bantry Bay on Glengariff Harbor. It stands beneath the sharply rising hill[Pg 341] and only the highway lies between it and the water’s edge; the outlook from its veranda is not surpassed by any we saw in the Kingdom, not even by the enchanting harbor of Oban or the glorious surroundings of Tintagel. True, we saw it at its best, just as the sun was setting and transforming the blue waters into a sheet of burnished gold. As far as the eye can reach the long inlet lies between bare granite headlands, interspersed here and there with verdant banks, while the bright waters were dotted with wooded islets. The sun sank beneath the horizon, purple shadows gathered in the distance, and the harbor gleamed mirrorlike in the twilight. An old coast-defense castle, standing on a headland near the entrance, lent the needed touch of human interest to the scene. Well might Thackeray exclaim, “Were such a bay lying upon English shores it would be a world’s wonder. Perhaps if it were on the Mediterranean or Baltic, English travellers would flock to it by the hundreds. Why not come and see it in Ireland?” Indeed, more are coming to see it today; the hotel was crowded almost to our exclusion and we had to take what was left. The motor is bringing many, for it is more than ten miles from Bantry, the nearest railway station, and is not easily accessible to travelers whose time is somewhat limited.

Our route from Glengariff leads directly over[Pg 342] the hills to Kenmare. The ascent is steep in places and a long tunnel pierces the crest of the hill. We see much weather-beaten country, stretches of purple granite boulders devoid of vegetation and bleak beyond description. From the summit of the hills we glide down a winding and stony road into Kenmare, passing with considerable difficulty many coaches loaded with trippers, for this is a favorite coaching route.

Someone has said that Ireland is like an ugly picture set in a beautiful frame. We may dissent from the view that the interior is ugly; we have seen much charming country, though on the whole not the equal of England or Scotland. The vast peat bogs are dreary, the meadowlands monotonous, the villages, if interesting, far from beautiful, and the detached cottages often positively painful in their filth and squalor. But the frame of the picture—the glorious coast line—surely, mile for mile, its equal may hardly be found on the globe. One will behold every mood of sea and shore and sky; beauty and grandeur combined and every range of coloring, from the lucent gold of the sunset and the deep blue stillness of the summer noonday to the gray monotone of the storm-swept granite waste.

Out of Kenmare, we follow the wide estuary of the river, leaving it only when the road sweeps a few miles inland to the village of Sneem. And we[Pg 343] behold this Sneem in astonishment; we have seen nothing so primitive and poverty-stricken since we landed in Ireland, nor do we see anything later that may match it in apparent wretchedness. Two or three long rows of low thatched-covered cottages—the thatch green with weeds—of one or two rooms each, with sagging doors and tiny windows, make up the village. The interior of the huts is the plainest imaginable; earthen floors, rough stone walls and open roof under the rotting thatch. The cottages surround a weed-grown common where the domestic animals roam at will. A native approaches us, a man of fair intelligence, who talks freely of the wretched condition of the people. All who were able to get away have gone to America; only the old, the desperately poor, and the incompetent remain, and what can one expect under such conditions? Many eke out their existence on the money that comes from over the sea. There is no use trying to improve the situation; if anyone has any ambition, there is no chance for him in Ireland, and the speaker illustrates with concrete instances. No doubt Sneem is typical of many retired villages. It is twenty-five miles to the nearest railroad, and to see this phase of Ireland the motor is indispensible.

The road soon takes us again to the estuary of the Kenmare, following it to the extreme western point of Kerry, with views of river and ocean on[Pg 344] one hand and the stern granite hills on the other. Cahersiveen is the terminus of the railway and famous in Ireland as the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell. A memorial chapel of gray granite overshadows everything else in the village, which, mean and dirty as it is, looks live and prosperous to one coming from Sneem. Just out of the town is the ivy-covered ruin of Carhan House, where O’Connell was born.

I would that the language were mine to even faintly portray the transcendent beauty of Dingle Bay, along which we course most of the afternoon. The day is serenely perfect and the sky is clear save for a few fleecy clouds that drift lazily along the horizon. Our road climbs the hills fronting on the bay—in places the water lies almost sheer beneath us—and the panorama that lies before us is like a fairyland. Of the deepest liquid blue imaginable, the still water stretches out to the hills beyond the bay, which fade away, range after range, into the dun and purple haze of the distance; in places their tops are swept by low-hung clouds of dazzling whiteness—an effect of light and color indescribably glorious. We have seen the Scotch, Swiss and Italian lakes, and, second to none of them, our own Lake George, but among them all there is no match for this splendid ocean inlet on such a day as this. And truly, the day is the secret of the beauty; the[Pg 345] color and the distant hills vanish in the gray mists that so often envelop the Irish coast.

It is a jar to one’s sensibilities to pass from such lofty and inspiring scenes into Killorglin, the shabbiest, filthiest, most utterly devil-may-care village we see in the Island. It does not show the almost picturesque poverty of Sneem, but for sheer neglect and utter lack of anything in the nature of civic pride, we must give Killorglin the supremacy among numerous competitors for the honor—or rather, dishonor. The market square is covered with masses of loose stone intermingled with filth; the odors are what might be expected from the general condition of the town. There is little temptation to linger here, and we make hasty inquiries for the Killarney road. It proves dreadfully rough and stony, a broad and apparently once excellent highway, but now quite neglected. There is nothing to detain us on the way and we soon turn into the grounds of the Victoria Hotel just before we reach Killarney.

The Victoria, fronting on the lake, is most pretentious, but there are many little signs of the laxity and untidiness that is seen everywhere in Ireland. We wait long for a porter to remove the luggage from the car, and finally begin the task ourselves, when the porter appears and takes our chaffing good-naturedly. An old lame crow—he has been a hanger-on at the Victoria for fifteen years, the porter says,[Pg 346] and comes regularly to the kitchen yard for food—clings to a chimney pot and pours out his harsh guttural jargon.

“Swearing at us, isn’t he?” we remark.

“Not at all,” answers the ready-witted son of Erin. “That’s just his way of expressin’ his pleasure at your arrival.”

The Royal Victoria boasts of even a more astonishing array of distinguished and royal guests than the Royal Bath at Bournemouth—both have surely earned the prefix to their names. In the drawing-rooms were posted letters and autographs of royalty from King Edward (as Prince of Wales) down to ordinary lords and ladies; and there were also letters from other guests of distinction, including well-known Americans. All of which only partially atoned for the rather slack service which we found in many particulars. Still, the Royal Victoria suffered from no lack of patronage; we had telegraphed the day before and yet with difficulty were able to secure satisfactory accommodations.

From Original Water Color by Alexander Williams, R. I.

I will not write of Killarney’s “Lakes and Fells,” pre-eminently the tourist center of Ireland. The drive to Muckross Abbey and along the shores of the lake is one of surpassing beauty, though the road is narrow and crooked. Much of the drive is through the private grounds of Lord Ardilaun, the[Pg 347] poetical title which has been accorded to Mr. Guinness, whose “stout” has given him a wider and more substantial fame than he can ever hope for from a mere title of nobility. However, the famous product is responsible for the title, since the wealthy brewer was elevated to the peerage ostensibly on account of his immense benefactions to the city of Dublin. His Killarney house—one of several he owns in Ireland—a modern mansion in the Elizabethan style, may be plainly seen from the road. And one can hardly wonder that Lord Ardilaun has thriven greatly and built up what is freely advertised as the largest brewery in the world, when he has such an unlimited market for his product right at home—for Ireland is cursed with drink perhaps beyond any country on earth. Fortunately there is now a marked tendency toward improvement and the Catholic church is exerting a strong influence against the drink evil.

But these reflections are not altogether germane to the transcendent lake whose bright waters shimmer through the trees or ripple gently on some open beach as we course along them. Out beyond lie the mountains against the pale sapphire sky of a perfect summer morning, and the lake makes a glorious mirror for its wooded islands and encircling hills. We pass the “meeting of the waters,” crossing a rustic bridge over the narrow strait. Altogether, there is[Pg 348] a succession of delightful scenery, which the motor car affords the ideal means of seeing.

But I am poorly carrying out my resolution not to write of Killarney, though surely the theme tempts one to linger; there is much I have not even hinted at; Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey alone might occupy many pages were I competent to fill them. But we will leave them all, though we must pause a moment in the town itself, surely a paradise for lovers of Irish laces and for seekers after trinkets and souvenirs galore. It is rather cleaner and more substantial than the average small Irish town, yet Killarney and its environs have all the earmarks of a tourist-thronged resort and in this particular, at least, are disappointing. While there is much of beauty and interest, we cannot help a feeling as we leave the town behind us that some of the encomiums may have been a little over-enthusiastic.

But Killarney rapidly recedes as we hasten toward Tralee through a country whose bleak hill-ranges alternate with still drearier peat bogs, often of great extent. Everywhere one sees piles of cut and dried peat, the almost universal fuel in Ireland. Its use is evidenced by the thin blue smoke curling from the rude chimneys and by the pungent odor as it falls to the earth under the lowering sky. For the sky has become overcast and gray. We have had—very unusual, too, they tell us—several days[Pg 349] of perfect weather; the rule is almost daily showers in Ireland during the summer.

We find Tralee a large, lively town; it is market day and the narrow main street is fairly blocked with donkey-carts, driven by screaming old women, and the heavier, more unwieldy carts of the farmers. The old women often go into a panic at the sight of the motor, and grasp the donkeys by the bridle as though these sleepy little brutes might be expected to exhibit all the fire of a skittish horse; but never one of them even lifts his lazy ears as the motor hums under his nose. It is different with some of the horses, which become unmanageable and swing the heavy carts around in spite of all the drivers can do. And woe to the motorist who should try conclusions with one of these carts that may be suddenly thrown across his way. The wreck of the car would be almost certain and I doubt if the cart would suffer at all. These vehicles are primitive in the extreme; two massive wheels, an oaken beam axle and two shafts made of heavy timbers, is about all there is to one of them. It is with such vehicles that Tralee swarms and our progress to the market square is slow indeed. In the midst of the market place stands a monument surmounted by the figure of a peasant soldier, the inscriptions commemorating the Irish patriots of ’98, ’03, ’48 and ’67, and declaring the [Pg 350]“undying allegiance of the Irish people to republican principles.” The hotel where we stop for luncheon is a large limestone building, just opposite the monument. It is fairly clean and the service cannot be complained of; Irish hotels have averaged better than we had been led to expect.

From Tralee we take a rough, neglected road to Tarbert-on-Shannon, running through a desolate hill country—the Stacks Mountains, as they appear to Irish eyes—almost devoid of trees, with mean and often unspeakably filthy huts at long intervals. Most of these huts have but two small rooms; in one the domestic animals—the horse, donkey or cow, with a pig or two squealing under foot—and in the other the family. One is quite as clean and comfortable as the other. The muck-heap is squarely in front of the door; it would be too much trouble to put it to the rear, and it is probably cleared away once or twice a year. But withal, the people are probably happier than the nobles in their castles; a merry, laughing, quick-witted folk who greet us with good-natured shouts of welcome—there is no prejudice against the motor here. The cheeriness of the people contrasts with the bleak and depressing country itself, today wrapped in a gray mist that half obscures the view.

As we passed through one of the bogs, an incident occurred that added to the gloom of the day, and the poverty of the country still leaves a somber[Pg 351] impression on our minds. It was a peasant funeral procession, forty or fifty of the rude carts such as we have described wending their way along the wretched road. The plain pine coffin, fastened with knotted hempen ropes, was borne on a cart similar to the others, and yet the deceased was evidently a person of importance, indicated by the large following and several priests in the center of the procession. As we came up they motioned us to pass, and our car crept by as stealthily as possible, though not without disturbing some of the horses. All treated it with good-natured solemnity and many saluted us as we passed. Farther along the road we saw many people at the cottages in readiness to join the procession when it reached them. The incident could not but impress us with the poverty and really primitive character of the Irish peasants of the inland hills—people and a country quite unknown to those who follow the ordinary routes of travel.

Listowel is twenty miles from Tralee, a dilapidated hamlet surrounding a great gloomy-looking church, and above it the shattered towers of the ever-present castle peeping out of a mass of ivy. Ten miles farther over a rough road and we enter Tarbert on a fine wooded headland overlooking the lordly Shannon—truly worthy of such title here—a sweeping river two or three miles in width. For twenty miles or more our road closely follows the[Pg 352] southern shore of the broad estuary, and we realize keenly how much of color and distance one loses when the gray rain obscures the landscape. The estuary of the Shannon might well vie with Dingle Bay under conditions similar to those of the preceding day, but we see only a leaden sheet of water fading away in the fitful showers or lying sullenly under the dim outlines of the coast of County Clare.

At Glin we pass beneath the ancient stronghold of the “Knight of Glin,” which recalls the splendor of a feudal potentate who in Queen Elizabeth’s time was lord of an estate of six hundred thousand acres, and whose personal train included five hundred gentlemen. So much glory and an Irish tendency to take a hand in the frequent broils in the west, brought the English Lord President of Ireland with a strong besieging force. The defense was desperate in the extreme. The young son of the lord of the castle was captured by the besiegers and placed in a post of great danger in hope of checking the fire of the garrison; but the ruse had no effect on the furious Irishmen in the fortress. When at last a breach had been made by a heavy cannonade and the fall of the castle became inevitable, the few remaining defenders, uttering the ancient warcry of their house, flung themselves from the shattered battlements into the river. After a lapse of more than three hundred years, one may still see the marks of the cannon-shot[Pg 353] upon the heavy walls. And this weird story of the defense of Glin Castle is typical of tales that may be told of hundreds of the mouldering ruins of Ireland.

At Foynes the river broadens still more; “the spacious Shenan, spreading like a sea,” was how it impressed Edmund Spenser, who has left in his poems many traces of his Irish wanderings. But we see little of it in the increasing drizzle that envelops it. Our road turns farther inland to Askeaton, a bedraggled collection of little huts, beneath the lordly ruin of Desmond Castle. There is little else to engage us on our way to Limerick, though we pass through the Vale of Adare, of which the bard has so musically sung:

“O sweet Adare, O lovely vale,
O safe retreat of sylvan splendor;
Nor summer sun nor morning gale
E’er hailed a scene so sweetly tender.”

But it is not so sweetly tender on a dark drizzly evening, and we rush on through the rain to the shelter of an old-time hostelry in Limerick.

Cruise’s Royal is a large plain building perhaps a century or two old and quite unpretentious and comfortable. Limerick is not frequented by tourists and little special provision has been made to entertain them. It is a city of nearly fifty thous[Pg 354]and people and has large business interests in different lines. But Limerick has a past, despite its modern activity. Its castle, standing directly on the Shannon, was built by King John in 1205, and the seven original circular towers are still intact. The cathedral of St. Mary’s is even older than the castle, and though restored, many touches of antiquity still remain. The Roman Catholic cathedral of St. John’s is one of the finest modern churches in Ireland, its splendid spire rising to a height of three hundred feet. Its magnificence ill accords with the wretched hovels that crowd around it; for the Irish Catholic seems to take far more pride in his church than in his own home. There is a large percentage of English among the inhabitants of Limerick, which is no doubt a factor in its business progressiveness. The shops which we visited would compare favorably with those of a city of the same size almost anywhere. One of the staple products is Limerick lace and it is sold here at prices so low, compared with the tourist towns, as to quite astonish one.

But the chief glory of Limerick is its broad river, so vast and so cleansed by the sea tide as to show little trace of pollution, even in the city limits. It is spanned by two fine bridges, that nearest the castle replacing one built by King John. At the west end of this bridge is the famous [Pg 355]“Stone of the Violated Treaty,” mounted on a properly inscribed pedestal. The treaty with William and Mary was signed on this stone, but the English Parliament repudiated the agreement, and hence the name.

In leaving Limerick, we closely followed the Shannon, and a magnificent stream it is, lying in wide, lakelike stretches and rippling gently in the fresh sea breeze. The valley here is quite level and covered with emerald verdure to the very banks, between which the river flashes in gemlike brilliancy. It would be a joy to follow the Shannon and the loughs, in which it rests itself at frequent intervals, to its very source, every mile rich in historic interest and storied ruins; but we may go no farther than Killaloe, at the southern end of Lough Derg, about fifteen miles from Limerick. Here is a venerable cathedral church, built about 1150, upon the site of a still older church founded in the sixth century. And it is to this latter time that most authorities refer the stone-roofed chapel or oratory standing near the cathedral. Legend has it that this was built by St. Flannan, who founded the original cathedral; and certain it is that its antiquity is very great. One experiences strange sensations as he stands in this rude, unfurnished little structure. It forcefully brings to him the fact that Christianity and learning are older in Ireland than in England and Scotland; that[Pg 356] this chapel was probably built before St. Augustine landed in Kent; that it was from Ireland that Christian missionaries sailed to teach the savage Britons and marauding Picts.

We cross the river over a high-arched bridge, near which is an attractive new hotel, for tourists and fishermen are learning of the beauties of the Shannon and Lough Derg. We soon reach Nenagh on the Dublin road, and the graceful church spire at once attracts our attention. We can scarce forbear an exclamation of surprise as we come into full view of the splendid structure, just from the builder’s hand. It is truly a poem in gray stone, as fine an example of gothic architecture as we have seen in the Kingdom—proof that the spirit of the old cathedral builders lingers still, at least in Ireland. A young man approaches us as we stand in the churchyard and informs us that the church has just been completed at a cost of fifty thousand pounds. We should have guessed much more, but labor and stone are cheap in Ireland; such a structure could hardly have been erected in America for less than half a million dollars.

“And where did all the money come from?” for Nenagh shows little evidence of wealth.

“O, they have been long in raising it and much of it came from America.”


[Pg 357]

The church inside is hardly in keeping with the exterior, but this will no doubt be remedied in time. At the door is a table covered with pamphlets, with a notice requesting the visitor to place a penny in the box for each copy taken. We noted the titles of several: “Health and Cleanliness in Irish Homes,” “Temperance Catechism, Showing the Evils of Drink,” “Ireland, the Teacher of England and Scotland,” “The Evils of Emigration,” (in which no very glowing picture of the prospects of the emigrant in America is shown), and many others on Irish history and Catholic heroes. Nearly all of the dozen booklets which we select are really excellent and show that the Catholic Church in Ireland is awakening to the necessities of modern conditions.

From the church our guide led us to the castle near at hand and secured the key. There is little left save the stupendous keep, a circular tower about one hundred feet high and perhaps sixty feet in diameter. The walls at the bottom have the amazing thickness of eighteen feet and one would reckon this mighty tower as well-nigh impregnable.

“Destroyed by Cromwell,” said our guide, “who burned the castle and razed it to the ground.”

Just as we are about to leave a very recently acquired distinction of Nenagh occurs to our guide—the town is the home of the grandfather of Hayes, the American runner who won the Marathon race[Pg 358] at London. The old man keeps a baker shop down the street and the hero is here even now—a twofold hero, indeed, as an Irishman by descent and as a winner over the English contestants. We pause at the little shop, but the hero is out and we have to be content with a few purchases. We find some difficulty in getting out of the town, but after much inquiry a policeman starts us on the Dublin road.

And here I might speak a word of the Irish policeman. As in England, he is everywhere and always ready with information; no matter how dirty and squalid the surroundings, he is neat, in a faultless moss-green uniform emblazoned with the gold harp of Erin. He is always conscious of his dignity as the representative of law and order, and one can easily imagine that his presence must have a calming effect on the proverbial Irish tendency for a row. He is indeed a worthy part of the unequaled police system of the United Kingdom.

The road which we now followed runs through the very heart of the Island, a distance of one hundred miles from Nenagh to Dublin. It is in the main a broad, well-surfaced highway with even grades and slight curves. It passes through a much better and more prosperous-looking country than the extreme southern portion of the Island. The farm cottages are better and apparently cleanlier, but the towns show little improvement. Nearly all of them[Pg 359] are poor and mean-looking, with aged, weather-beaten buildings and many tumble-down houses. They are a good distance apart; Roscrea, Mountrath, Maryborough, Kildare and Naas are the larger places on the road. Only two call for especial mention—one for its dilapidation and filthiness and the other for rather the opposite qualities. The first distinction we may freely accord to Maryborough, the county town of Queens County, with a population of about three thousand. Perhaps we saw it at its worst, for it was the weekly market day. The market place was blocked with live stock, and it was with difficulty that we forced the car through the seething mass. The streets were covered with loose stones, straw and filth, and on the sidewalks, little pens were fenced off and filled with calves and hogs. The farmers circulated among the animals and regarded us rather sullenly for Irishmen. Our luncheon hour was past and we looked dubiously toward the Maryborough hotel. A native, divining our situation, cast a disgusted glance at the wretched surroundings and said, “You had better go on to Kildare; you will find it much better.”

We thank him and the car spurns the dirt of Maryborough under her wheels as she springs forward on the twenty miles of fine road to Kildare. We find this town small and rather poor, but far cleanlier than its neighbor. It has an ancient cathe[Pg 360]dral church and one of the most notable of the round towers, one hundred and five feet high, though somewhat spoiled by a modern battlemented effect in place of the usual conical top. But the joy of Kildare is its hotel, a new, bright-looking brick structure, delightfully pleasant and homelike inside. There is a piano in the parlor and fresh flowers on the mantelpiece. Our tea is soon ready in the dining-room, as cleanly and well ordered as the best across the Channel, and the neat waiter girls serve us promptly. Of course there is a secret somewhere to all this wonder, and we fathom it when we learn that the railroad owns the hotel. May the railroads build more hotels in Ireland!

At Newbridge, a few miles farther, are extensive barracks, a city of red brick, where a large body of Irish troops is quartered. Military life appeals to a great number of Irishmen and some of the crack British regiments are recruited in the Island. The Irishman may justly be proud of his reputation as a fighting man and he never wearies of telling you of the nativity of the Duke of Wellington and of Lord Roberts, the present chief of the British army. A fine racing course also lies between Newbridge and Kildare, and races famous throughout the country are held here annually.

Our Irish pilgrimage is at an end; we leave Dublin on the following day, not without reluctance[Pg 361] and regret. This Ireland is very old and very interesting, and it is with a feeling of distinct sadness that we watch her lessening shores. We find ourselves secretly hoping to come again some day with out trusty companion of the winged wheels, to spend a whole summer among the hills and dales, the rivers and loughs of the “Ould Countree.”

[Pg 362]


Holyhead is an inconsequential town whose chief end is to serve as a port of departure for Ireland. Were it not for this useful purpose, few tourists would ever see it—or the Isle of Anglesea, for that matter. Aside from some fine coast scenery and the castle, now very ruinous, built by Edward I. at Beaumaris, Anglesea offers little in the way of attractions. The island is rather barren, with here and there a mean-looking village with a long, unpronounceable Welsh name. The main road from the great suspension bridge over the Menai Strait to Holyhead is excellent, but nearly all others in the island are so bad as to discourage motorists.

The Station Hotel at Holyhead is owned by the Northwestern Railway, and would be creditable to a city of one hundred thousand. It affords every comfort to its guests, and the railway people have made special provisions for the motor car, among these one of the best-equipped garages that I saw anywhere. The motor is becoming a serious rival to the railway in Britain, the heavy reduction[Pg 363] in first-class passenger travel being attributed to the popularity of the horseless carriage; but the situation has been accepted by the companies which own hotels and they have generally provided first-class accommodation for cars belonging to their guests.

In a previous chapter I referred to our run from London to Holyhead, reaching Ludlow the first night. I am going to have my say about Ludlow in another chapter; for five visits on different occasions to the delightful old border town should perhaps entitle me, though a stranger to its people, to record my impressions of it somewhat in detail.

Bishop’s Castle marked our entrance into the hill country of Northern Wales. It is a lonely town following a steep, roughly-paved main street, at the top of which we stop for luncheon at an old-fashioned but very pleasant country inn. From Bishop’s Castle to Barmouth by the way of Welshpool, Llanfair, Dinas Mawddwy and Dolgelley, we pass through the very heart of North Wales and see many phases of its beauty, though generally in the wilder and sterner moods. The hills are often steep, but from their crests we have far-reaching views over the wooded vales and green hill ranges. In places we wind through tangled forests or run along the banks of swift little rivers. At Dinas Mawddwy we enter the Welsh mountains, the most imposing hills in Britain. The tiny village nestling beside its rip[Pg 364]pling river seems lost in the mighty hills that overhang it on every side, rugged and almost precipitous, yet velvety green to their very summits. We begin our climb out of the valley over the Bwlch Ooeddrws Pass—the name is even more alarming than the heavy grade shown in the road book—and for three miles we climb steadily up the mighty hill alongside an incline that drops sharply to the roaring stream far below. From the summit a grand prospect greets our eyes: the wild, broken, intensely green Welsh hills stretching away range after range until they fade in the purple shadows of the distance, and yet higher above us looms the crest of Cader Idris, on which still linger flecks of snow. After a short pause to contemplate the beauty of the scene, we plunge down the descent, steep, sinuous and rough, to Dolgelley, lying at the foot of the hill, a retired little town with a long history; for here the Welsh hero, Owen Glendwr, held his parliaments and made a rallying point for his adherents in North Wales. Today its old-time, gray-stone, slate-roofed houses are hemmed in by more modern villas such as one now finds in most of the beauty spots of northern Wales.

The ten miles of road to Barmouth follows the estuary of the river with only moderate grades until it reaches the town, when it plunges down the long hill to the seashore. Barmouth, or, as the[Pg 365] Welsh style it, Abermaw, is a quiet watering-place lying along a narrow beach at the foot of the hills that rise almost sheer behind the town. The coast line of the wide rock-bound harbor is wild and broken, and the view over the estuary at sunset is an enchanting one. The hotels are rather small and the beginning of the crowded season is just at hand. Should one wish to remain for a time in Barmouth to explore some of the grandest scenery in Wales, he would be more at ease in May or June.

As we leave the town an obliging garage man hails us and warns us to beware of Llanaber, two or three miles to the north; a trap for motorists has been set there, and as if to convince us that wealth and station will not protect us, he adds in a rather awe-stricken manner that Her Grace the Duchess of W——, wife of the richest nobleman in the Kingdom, was stopped last week and fined ten pounds. We feel that a contribution to the exchequer of Llanaber would hardly come so easy from us as from the wealthy duchess, and we pass through the wretched little hamlet at a most respectful pace. The rain has begun to fall heavily and has apparently dampened the ardor of the Welsh constables, for we see nothing of them. The road continues many miles between the mountain slope and the low green marshes stretching seaward, but the driving rain obscures the view. At only one point does the ocean[Pg 366] lash the rocks directly beneath us; elsewhere along the coast the road is separated from the sea by marshes and stretches of sandy beach, varying from a few hundred feet to two miles in width.

Suddenly the gray bulk of Harlech Castle, standing on its commanding eminence, four square to all the winds of heaven, looms up grim and vast in the gusty rain. It is the last of the great feudal castles of Britain that we are to see on our pilgrimage—save some of those we have seen before—and it marks a fitting close to the long list that we have visited—nearly every one of importance in the Island.

Harlech is one of the seven great castles built by Edward I. in his effort to subdue Wales. It contests with Carnarvon and Conway for first place among the Welsh ruins and is easily one of the half dozen most remarkable castellated fortresses in the Kingdom. It is perched on a mighty rock which drops almost sheer to the wide, sandy marsh along the sea, and just below it on the landward side is the village that gives the castle its name. Inside the great quadrangle, we find the trim neatness that characterizes the ruins belonging to the crown. We ascend the stairway leading to the battlements and follow the path around the walls and towers. A thousand pities that the rain shuts out the view, for surely there are few such panoramas of sea and mountain in Britain as one may get from the walls[Pg 367] of Harlech. Shall we let one more fortunate than we, having seen the prospect on a cloudless day, tell its beauty in poetic phrase?

“It is a scene of unparalleled beauty, whichever way one turns; whether to the sea, out beyond the sandy beach at the foot of Castle Rock, running far away, a sheet of intensest blue, until it meets the pale sapphire of the sky; or whether toward the mountains of the north, Snowdon, the snow-crowned king of them all, rising in matchless majesty above his satellites; or to the landward where the tiny village nestles at the foot of craglike hills; or to the westward where the great promontory of Lleyn stretches away, throwing here and there into the sky its isolated peaks, so full of savage sternness tempered with weird beauty.”

Verily, these misty days in Britain often hide visions of beauty from one’s eager eyes. We will ask little of the story of Harlech, but it is a stirring one. It saw strenuous times as a stronghold of Owen Glendwr, who captured it in 1404 and held it against the forces of Henry IV., who re-took the castle four years later, driving the Welsh prince into the mountains. Here came Margaret, the queen of the Sixth Henry, during the war of the Roses, and the castle yielded, only after a long siege, to the onslaught of the adherents of the House of York. Indeed, Har[Pg 368]lech was the last fortress in England to hold out for the Lancastrian cause. But far more memorable than the siege are the wild swinging cadences of the “March of the Men of Harlech,” to which the conflict gave birth. During the civil war, the castle was the last in Wales to hold out for King Charles, and its story closes with its surrender to the army of the Commonwealth in 1647.

The rain ceases shortly after we leave Harlech, and the air becomes clear, though the sky is still overcast. It is fortunate, for we see some of the wildest and most impressive of Welsh scenery. Great clifflike hills, splashed with red shale and purple heather or clad in the somber green of the pines, rise abruptly from the roadside. At Beddgelert the beauty culminates in one of the finest scenes in Wales. The valley, a plot of woods and meadows, is surrounded on every hand by the giant hills, whose sides glow with red and purple rock which crops out among the scattered pines that climb to the very crests. Two clear, dashing mountain streams join their waters to form the river Glaslyn, which winds through a mighty gorge to the sea; and alongside the river runs the perfect road over which we have just been coursing. The Royal Goat, right by the roadside, invites us to pause for our late luncheon; a charming old-fashioned inn, odd as its name, but homelike and hospitable. At Beddgelert the beauty begins to fade[Pg 369] and one sees only commonplace country and barren hills until he reaches Carnarvon.

From Original Painting by Daniel Sherrin.

Returning from Holyhead, we followed the fine coast road from Bangor to Conway, where we paused to renew our acquaintance with one of the most charming towns in the Kingdom. In many respects it is unique, for nowhere will one find more perfect relics of feudal time, or feel more thoroughly its spirit than at Conway. The little city still lies snugly behind its ancient wall, whose one and twenty watch towers stand grimly as of old, though shorn of their defenders in these piping times of peace. And the castle, from many viewpoints the most picturesque of them all, looks marvelously perfect from a little distance—so perfect that one could hardly wonder to see a flash of armor from the stately battlements. Yet with all its antiquity, Conway, inside its walls, is clean and neat and has an air of quiet prosperity. So widely known are its charms that perhaps it should have no place in this record; and yet it is probable that the great majority of American visitors in England never see Conway—which assumption is my excuse for a few words of appreciation.

If there were no castle or wall, there would be ample warrant for coming to see one of the most charming Elizabethan mansions in the Island. Plas Mawr—the Great House—indeed deserves its name; a huge building of many gables, odd corners[Pg 370] and stone-mullioned, diamond-paned windows. Inside there are great paneled rooms with richly bossed plaster ceilings, wide fireplaces with mantelpieces emblazoned with the arms of the ancient owners, and many narrow winding passageways leading—you never quite learn whither. Very appropriate is the ghostly legend of the house, and even more fitting the better substantiated story of the visit of Queen Elizabeth—that splendid royal traveler who might well be our patron saint. Stately is the great chamber, the sitting-room of the Queen’s suite, with its paneled walls, its highly ornate ceiling, its great group of no less than a dozen windows; and the fireplace, six feet or more across, where a great log might be thrown to glow, a solid core of heat—fit indeed for the evening musings of the royal guest.

A thorough round of Plas Mawr will serve to give one an appetite for luncheon at the Castle Hotel—at least this was the result in our particular case. But one would not really need much of an appetite to be tempted by the luncheon set forth at the Castle Hotel, one of the cleanest, brightest and best-ordered of the many inns at which we stopped in our wanderings.

In a jaunt up the Conway River, one will see much pleasing scenery of hill, valley and river, and will come at Bettws-y-Coed into the Holyhead road, which splendid highway we follow through[Pg 371] Llangollen and Oswestry to Shrewsbury. This route abounds in interest; Chirk is famous for its castle and there is an ivy-covered ruin at Whittington, but we do not pause in our swift flight for any of them. The sky has cleared and delightful vistas greet our eyes as we hasten through “the sweet vale of Llangollen.” We come into Shrewsbury almost ere we know it, and a half hour later catch sight of the great church tower of Ludlow town.


A longing for a farewell glimpse of Warwickshire comes upon us as we leave Ludlow on the afternoon of the following day; and what pleasanter memory could we choose for the closing days of our long pilgrimage in England than a flight through the charming country that lies at her very heart? True, we will pass over roads that we have traversed before, but could one ever weary of Stratford and Warwick and Coventry, and of the quiet Midlands that lie about them?

We pause for one last look at the cathedral at Worcester, its great tower of warm red stone standing sharp against the cloudless sky; it is altogether one of the most perfect in proportion and design of all the churches in the Island. Then we hasten through the summer landscape—its prevailing green dashed with the pale gold of the yellowing harvests—to Droitwich and through Alcester, with its dull-red brick and black-oak beams, into the now[Pg 372] familiar streets of Stratford-on-Avon. We pause at the busy souvenir store of which two years before the white-haired mayor was proprietor; but he has since retired, his successor tells us. As one of the notables of the town, he points out Miss Corelli, the novelist, who has made her home in Stratford and waxed rich through much advertising, which sometimes assumed forms highly distasteful to her fellow-townsmen. For it chanced that one Andrew Carnegie would present a handsome library building to Stratford should the town provide a suitable site, but for some reason Miss Corelli objected, and by engaging the plan in some of the endless legal quibbles possible in England, she defeated it. The mayor was vexed beyond measure and when the attorney for Miss Corelli interrogated him,

“Did you not say that you would give a thousand pounds to get Miss Corelli out of Stratford?”

“I have never said so,” replied his honor, “but though a thousand pounds does not grow on a gooseberry bush for me, I really believe I would.”

This retort so irritated the authoress that she brought an action for libel and was awarded a farthing damages. But this bit of gossip hardly accords with the spirit of Stratford at the coming of twilight, when the low sun flashes on the still bosom of the immemorial Avon and pierces the gloom beneath the great trees that cluster around the church.

[Pg 373]

We come here again from Coventry on the following day to join the worshipers in the fane where sleeps the Master of English Letters. It is a perfect day and the large light-toned windows lend an air almost of cheerfulness to the graceful interior of Stratford Church, and the great organ fills it with noble melody. With such surroundings, perhaps we miss much of the sermon—at least we can recall nothing of it in the lapse of time—but the memories that come back to us now are of the mingled feelings of reverence and inspiration that dominated us during the hour we lingered.

As we leave the church—our car has stood by the roadside the while—an intelligent little fellow approaches us, urging his services as guide, and he looks so longingly at the car that we take him in. In all our wanderings about Stratford, and hardly a highroad or byway has escaped us, we have missed the old cottage where Mary Arden is said to have lived. Is said to have lived—alas, that hypothetical “said” that flings its blight over so many of our sacred shrines. But what matters it, after all? What mattered it to the pious votary of olden time that the relics of his revered saint, so fraught with comfort and healing to him, turned out to be the bones of a goat? There shall be no question for us on this perfect day of English summer that the low gray walls and sagging dull-red tile roof of the[Pg 374] cottage before us once sheltered the mother of Shakespeare. It stands behind a low stone wall, in the village of Wilmcote, two or three miles from Stratford, a blaze of old-fashioned flowers in front of it and creepers and rose vines clamber over its gray walls. It is only a farmhouse tenement now, but with the old buildings grouped about it and its dovecot, it makes a picture well suited to the glamour that legend throws about the place. Our small guide eagerly points it out and proposes to seek admittance for us; but we desire no such disenchantment as this would likely bring. We ask him to point the way to Shottery, for we wish a final glimpse of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, whose authenticity is only a shade better attested than that of the home of Mary Arden.

The road from Stratford to Banbury is winding and steep in places, and Sun-Rising Hill is known over the Kingdom as the most formidable in the Midland Country; the road climbs it in sweeping curves and the increasing grade brings the motor to “low” ere we reach the top. But the prospect which greets one from its summit makes the climb worth while, a panorama of green and gold fading into the purple haze of distance. The Red Lion at Banbury appeals to us and we rest awhile in the courtyard after luncheon. Along the walls directly in front of us, a blaze of purple bloom, stretches the[Pg 375] “largest wisteria in England,” one hundred and eighty feet in length, its stem like a good-sized tree. It has been thus with so many of the old-time inns; each has had some peculiar charm. But surely no architect ever planned the Red Lion Inn; it is a rambling building that seems to have grown up with the years. No straight line curbs its walls; none of its floors maintain the same level; it is a maze of strangely assorted apartments, narrow, winding hallways and odd nooks and corners.

The road we follow to Daventry is a retired one, very narrow and almost lost in places between high hedges and over-arching trees. It leads through quaint villages, snug and cozy among the hills, seemingly little disturbed by the workaday world beyond. What a change it is to come into the Holyhead road at Daventry, the splendid highway that charms one more and more every time he passes over it; and did ever anyone see it more golden and glorious than we as we hasten toward Coventry in the face of the setting sun? The giant elms and yews and pines that border the road stand sharply against the wide bar of lucent gold that sweeps around the horizon, flecked here and there with purple and silver clouds. Soon the three slender spires of the old city loom out of the purple mists that hover over it and stand in clear outline against the sunset sky, a scene of calm and inspiring beauty. As we come[Pg 376] nearer the shadows resolve themselves into the houses of the charming old town, in the heart of which we come to our pleasant inn.

There is little more to be told; our second long pilgrimage through the sunlit fields and rain-swept wolds of Britain and Ireland draws near its close. We take our final leave of Coventry with keen regret and soon come into the Northamptonshire Hills. We see the Bringtons again, far more delightful under cloudless skies than in the gray summer shower that wrapped the little hamlets during our former visit.

Beyond Northampton, a memory of Ben Franklin brings us to Ecton, apparently the sleepiest of Midland villages. We follow the straggling line of thatched cottages to the church, where gray stones with almost illegible inscriptions mark the graves of Eleanor and Thomas Franklin, uncle and aunt of one who, in some respects, was our greatest American. The Franklin manor house is gone and Benjamin himself had little to do with Ecton save as a visitor to his ancestral home. He relates that in searching the parish records he learned that he was the youngest son of the youngest son for no less than five generations—verily, genius has little respect for the law of primo-geniture so sacred in England. His grandfather, also a Benjamin, left Ecton for London, where he engaged in the dyer’s[Pg 377] trade and varied the drudgery of his calling by writing much poetry of doubtful merit. His youngest son, Josias, emigrated to America in 1682, and the rest is American history, too well known to need recording here. Ecton, somnolent and remote, seems little conscious today of the achievements of the mighty son of her Franklin squires of a few centuries ago.

At Bedford, the brightest and most progressive-looking of English towns, we enter the old home of Howard, who civilized the prisons of the world and whose memory is kept green by the excellent work of the Howard societies of our own and other countries. Near at hand is the Bunyan memorial chapel, with many relics of the author of “Pilgrim’s Progress.” And one is mildly astonished to see the collection of the works of this famous preacher and to note how “Pilgrim’s Progress” outshone and survived a flood of mediocre, if not stupid, theological writings which he poured forth. We hasten onward through Cambridge, and night finds us at the Angel in Bury St. Edmunds. Of our last day’s wanderings I have already told in my chapter on East Anglia.

Travel-stained but unwearied, the tried and trusty companion of our pilgrimage stands before our London hotel. It is hard to think of her—is the pronoun right?—as a thing of iron and steel;[Pg 378] she has won a personality to us; but, metaphor aside, what a splendid means to a splendid end the motor has become! In two summers we have seen more of Britain than one might find it practicable to see in years under old conditions, and we have seen the most delightful, though unfamiliar, side. I trust that some small measure of our appreciation has been reflected in these pages, though I well recognize that neither the words nor the power to use them are mine by which there might be conveyed a truly adequate idea of such a pilgrimage.

[Pg 379]


I am going to write a chapter, though it be a short one, on Ludlow Town, which, among the hundreds of places rich in historic association and redolent of romance that we visited in our wanderings, still continues pre-eminent in our memories. We took occasion to pause here four or five times for the night, and each succeeding sojourn only served to heighten our appreciation of the delightful old town and its traditions. One will not tire of the Feathers Inn—surely one of the most charming of the very old hostelries and noted as one of the best preserved brick-and-timber houses in the Kingdom. True, copious applications of black and white paint gives it a somewhat glaring appearance, but the beauty of the sixteenth century facade with its jutting gables, carved beams and antique windows, will appeal to the most casual beholder. The interior is old-fashioned, but comfortable withal, and an air of quiet pervades the place. It is not without a touch of modernity, for between our first and last visit gas lights superseded candles. On one occasion, when the Feathers was full, we went to the[Pg 380] Angel and will not soon forget the portly Boniface who welcomed us: a mighty man indeed, who might well be the prince of inn-keepers and who would tip the scale at not less than twenty-five stone—for thus they reckon ones weight in England.

Nothing could be more delightful on the evening of a fine summer day than to wander about the town and to view the church tower and castle walls from different angles. Our favorite walk was over the castle bridge and along the river, whose waters beyond the weir lay broad and still, reflecting the gray towers far above. One will find few more romantic sights than the rugged bulk of Ludlow Castle, standing on its clifflike eminence in sharp outline against the evening sky. Just beneath rise the ranks of stately lime trees bordering the pleasant walk cut in the hill slope, which falls sharply to a narrow bank along the river. One may complete the circuit by following the path between the trees and making a rather steep descent to the road along the bank.

The river above the weir is radiant with the reflected glories of the skies; and the rush of the falling water alone breaks on the evening stillness. We linger long; the crimson fades from the heavens and river, but a new, almost ethereal beauty possesses the scene under the dominance of a full summer moon. The walls and towers lose their traces of[Pg 381] decay in the softened light, and one might easily imagine Ludlow Castle, proud and threatening, as it stood in the good old times. Did we catch a glint of armor on yonder grim old tower, or a gleam of rushlight through its ruinous windows? But our reverie vanishes as the notes of “Home Sweet Home” come to us, clear and sweet from the church tower chime.


I wish I might write the fuller story of the castle, but its eight hundred years were too eventful for the limits of my book. A few scattered incidents of its romance are all that I may essay—and one can but keenly regret that Walter Scott did not throw the enchantment of his story over Ludlow rather than the less deserving Kenilworth.

The castle was built soon after the Conquest, and its warlike history begins with a siege by King Stephen, who wrested it from its founders, the Mortimers, and presented it to his favorite, the doughty warrior, Joce de Dinan. He greatly enlarged and improved it, but was sorely troubled by Hugh Mortimer, the erstwhile lord of the castle, who soon made open war upon its new possessor. Joce was no match for his adversary in men and wealth, but managed to capture Mortimer by strategy and imprisoned him in the tower which still bears his name. His captivity was not of long dur[Pg 382]ation, since Joce allowed him to purchase his freedom at the cost of a large part of his wealth.

After this, according to the old chronicles, began the bloody strife between de Dinan and the DeLacys over a portion of an estate in the valley of the Teme. Finally, after many fierce conflicts, the two feudal lords met face to face under the walls of Ludlow and engaged in deadly combat. The redoubtable Joce had just worsted his opponent when three of the latter’s followers appeared on the scene, and finding the lord of Ludlow already wounded and quite exhausted, his defeat and even death at the hands of his enemies seemed imminent. From the castle towers his lady and fair daughters, Sybil and Hawyse, who had watched the fray with sinking hearts, now rent the air with their cries of despair, but the castle was deserted by the men-at-arms, and only Fulke Fitzwarrene, a youth of seventeen, who was considered too young and inexperienced for bearing arms, remained. He was of noble birth, lord of the manor of Whittington in Salop—and did we not see the ivy-clad ruin of his castle?—and he had been placed in the family of de Dinan to be trained in the noble art of warfare, the only one considered fit for a gentleman of those days. When he responded to the cries of the distressed ladies, the fair Hawyse, whose beauty had already wrought[Pg 383] havoc with the heart of the bashful Fulke, turned upon him with all the fury she could summon:

“Coward, what doest thou loitering here when my father, who gives thee shelter and protection, is being done to death in yonder valley?”

Stung by the maiden’s words, Fulke paused not for reply. He snatched a rusty helmet and battleaxe from the great hall and, no war steeds being in the castle, flung himself on a lumbering draught horse and galloped away to his patron’s rescue. Shall we tell of his doughty deeds in the quaint language and style of the old chronicler?

[Pg 384]

“Fulke had a foul helmet which covered his shoulders and at the first onset he smote Godard de Braose, who had seized his lord, with his axe and cut his backbone in two parts, and remounted his lord. Fulke then turned towards Sir Andrew de Reese and smote him on his helmet of white steel that he split it down to the teeth. Sir Arnold de Lys saw well that he could in no manner escape, for he was sorely wounded and surrendered to Sir Joce. The Lacy defended himself, but he was soon taken. Now is Sir Walter de Lacy taken and Sir Arnold de Lys and they are led over the river towards the castle of Dinan. Then spoke Sir Joce, ‘Friend burgher, you are very strong and valiant; and if it had not been for you I should have been dead before this, I am much bound to you and shall be always. You shall live with me and I will never fail you.’ Then the lad answered and said, ‘Sir, I am no burgher, do you not know me, I am Fulke, your foster child.’ ‘Fair son,’ said he, ‘blessed be the time that I ever nourished you, for a man will never lose his labor that he does for a brave man.’”

Surely such a gallant feat could have but one proper outcome and the bold Sir Fulke was soon married to the fair Hawyse in the beautiful circular chapel just built by her father and which stands almost intact to charm the beholder today. And the Right Reverend Bishop of Hereford came with his splendid retinue to perform the ceremony. It is a pity indeed that one may not close the pretty tale here in the happy fashion of the modern novel, but the wild way of the Welsh Border interferes.

Walter de Lacy and Arnold de Lys have escaped from Ludlow Castle. So great is the courtesy of their captor that he will not taste food until his guests have dined. But one day when their meal is ready, they cannot be found. A fair traitress in the castle, Maid Marion of the Heath, who has become infatuated with Arnold, has connived at their escape, though no one knows of this at the time.

After the marriage, Joce and Fulke leave for a visit in Berkshire, entrusting the castle to thirty knights and seventy soldiers. But Maid Marion is ill; she remains behind, only to notify Arnold de[Pg 385] Lys that he will find a silken cord from one of the castle windows and that she will draw up a ladder for him to enter her chamber. He hastens to comply and brings at his back an hundred men-at-arms, who slay the sleeping knights and soldiers of the garrison in their beds. And Marion, when she learns of the tragedy the next morning, snatches her recreant lover’s sword, thrusts him through the body and in her disappointment and despair hurls herself from the window upon the cruel rocks far beneath.

When Joce and Fulke heard the astounding news, they hastened back to Ludlow and with a force of seven thousand men besieged DeLacy, who was strongly entrenched in the castle. Joce pressed the siege with great vigor, burning the great gate and making a breach in the outer walls; and DeLacy, as a last resort, called upon the Welsh chieftains for assistance. These outlawed gentry were never known to let the opportunity for a fight go begging, and responded with twenty thousand men, forcing Joce to appeal to King Henry. The king, who was especially friendly to Joce, sent peremptory orders to DeLacy to evacuate the castle forthwith, which he did.


But we will follow the traditions of the castle no farther. The incident related shows its wealth of romantic associations. Its sober history is no less full of interesting vicissitudes. It figured largely in[Pg 386] the wars of the Roses; it was for many years the home of Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII., and his early death placed the irrepressible Henry VIII. on the throne. For nearly two hundred years the castle was the seat of the Lord President of the Marches, and Ludlow was in a certain sense the capital of the border counties. In Elizabeth’s time Sir Henry Sidney of Penshurst, father of the more famous Sir Philip, was Lord President, serving for twenty-seven years; yet he suffered from the neglect that the queen so often showed to her most faithful subjects, and near the close of his life he pathetically writes:

“The Queen will not be moved to reward me. I have not now so much ground as will feed one mutton. My lady is gone with smallpox which she got by continually nursing her Majesty in that sickness. I am now fifty-four years of age, toothless and trembling, five thousand pounds in debt and thirty thousand pounds worse than at the death of my dear King and master, Edward VI.”

Sixty years later the Parliamentary cannon planted on Whitcliff, just opposite, brought the active history of Ludlow Castle to an end. In 1651 it was finally dismantled; the lead and timbers were stripped from the roof, the mantels and furnishings were sold and the fine old structure given over to unhindered decay for nearly two hundred years.

From Original Water Color by W. Egginton. Royal Cambrian Academy, 1908.

[Pg 387]

The fortunes of Ludlow have been closely intertwined with those of the castle. Since the fall of the fortress, little has happened to disturb the serenity and quietude of the town. It is prosperous today in a quiet way as a country market, and though it has many visitors, it has in no sense, as yet, become a tourist resort. One will find many fine buildings, odd nooks and corners, and very quaint streets, all quite devoid of any taint of modernity. The town is deservedly proud of its parish church—as fine, perhaps, as any in England. It occupies the opposite end of the high rock on which the castle sits and, after the castle, is easily the glory of Ludlow. It is built of red sandstone, time-stained to a dull brown, touched in places with silver gray; the shape is cruciform and the splendid square tower with its pinnacled corners forms a landmark for many miles from the surrounding country. It was originally built about 1200, on the site of an earlier church, though of course the present almost perfect structure is the result of thorough restoration. The windows are unusually good, though modern, and the tower was rebuilt and fitted with the fine mechanical peal of bells that ring six times daily with a different refrain for each day of the week. The tombs and monuments are numerous, but mostly those of old-time border dignitaries.

We found much pleasure in wandering about[Pg 388] the town on the morning of our last visit. The commodious market-house was filled with farmers and their wives from the country, who offered their products for sale, and as we mingled with them we heard nothing spoken but English. Down toward the castle a curiosity shop attracted our attention; a brick and timber house which was crammed to the very garret with antique arms, armor, jewelry, china, glass, ivory, furniture, brass—but we might not enumerate its contents in pages. Nor was this all, for at a short distance an old Norman chapel had been leased by the proprietor and it, too, was filled to overflowing with ancient things of all degrees, from a spoon or cup to a massive carved-oak bed worth two hundred pounds.

The shop keeper, a benevolent-looking, gray-bearded old gentleman, is an authority on antiques and shows us many curios of astonishing value. But his daughter is more shrewd at business. No effort is made to sell us anything—only to interest us—and the apparent honesty of the shop people spoils many a deal. I am desirous of some souvenir of Ludlow, something distinctly suggestive of the place; an old sword, or pistol or what not, that might possibly—I ask no more than possibly—have been used in the frays that once raged round the castle. There are ancient swords and pistols galore; but they are French rapiers or Scotch claymores, and though I[Pg 389] eagerly seek for a mere suggestion that one of them might possibly have come from Ludlow, I am told that it could hardly be; such treasures have been picked up long ago and should one be found it would command a large price. It is a disappointment, but it gives us confidence in the purchases we finally make—so many, in fact, that our ready cash is quite exhausted; but such a trifling matter is of no consequence—we are perfectly welcome to take the goods and send the money when we reach London.

“We have done considerable business with Americans,” says the young woman. “Were you ever at Mount Vernon?—of course you have been. We supplied the antiques used in furnishing Washington’s kitchen there. One of the ladies of the committee happened to visit Ludlow and gave us the order.”

Before we finally leave the old town which has charmed us so much, we cannot forbear a last look at the castle, whose gray walls are flaunted by the noonday sun. We enter the wide grass-grown court; it is quite deserted and we make a farewell round of the lordly though ruinous apartments. It is the day of all days for a view from the battlements of the keep, over which flies the red and white banner of St. George. We climb the shattered and somewhat precarious stairs and behold the pleasant vale[Pg 390] of the Teme, lying far beneath, every feature clear and distinct in the lucent, untainted summer day. The verdant valley, with its silvery river, its fine parks, its mansions, farmhouses, towns and villages, and the far blue outlines of the Welsh hills, make a scene quite too enchanting for any words of mine to describe. The town just outside the castle walls lies slumberously below the church tower, upon which the great clock points to the hour of twelve; the bells peal forth the melody that finds a response always and in every heart,—doubly so in that of the exiled wanderer—“Home Sweet Home,” and which never seemed to us so strong in its appeal, for we are to sail within the week.

[Pg 391]


Map of England and Wales


Red Lines Show Approximate Routes; Light-Faced Black Lines, Routes Covered in Author’s Previous Book, “British Highways and Byways From a Motor Car”


Aberystwyth17 E
Alcester18 M
Alnwick 3 M
Ambleside 7 J
Arundel25 Q
Askrigg 8 L
Avebury21 M


Bakewell13 M
Bamborough 2 M
Banbury19 O
Bangor13 G
Barmouth16 H
Barnard Castle 7 M
Barnsley12 N
Barnstaple23 G
Bath22 K
Battle Abbey24 T
Bawtry12 P
Beaulieu24 O
Beddgelert14 G
Bedford18 R
Belvoir Castle15 P
Berkeley20 L
Berwick 1 M
Bettws-y-Coed14 H
Beverly10 Q
Bexhill25 T
Billingshurst24 R
Birtsmorton18 L
Bishop’s Castle17 J
Bodiam23 T
Bolton Abbey10 L
Bolton Castle 8 L
Boston14 R
Bottesford14 Q
Bournemouth24 M
Bowes 7 L
Bradford-on-Avon23 L
Brampton 5 K
Brecon19 I
Bridgnorth16 K
Bridlington 9 R
Brighton24 S
Brington17 P
Bristol21 K
Brixham27 H
Broadway19 M
Brough 7 L
Broxborne19 S
Buckingham19 O
Buildwas16 L
Builth18 H
Burnham Thorpe14 U
Bury St. Edmunds18 U
Buxton13 M
Bylands Abbey 8 N


Caerleon20 K
Caerphilly21 H
Caister Castle15 X
Cambridge18 S
Camelford25 E
Canterbury22 V
Cardiff22 I
Cardigan18 E
Carlisle 5 J
Carmarthen19 F
Carnarvon13 G
Cerne Abbas24 K
Cerrig-y-Druidion14 I
Chagford26 G
Chalfont St. Giles21 P
Chawton23 P
Cheddar23 K
Chelmsford20 T
Cheltenham19 M
Chepstow21 I
Chester13 I
Chesterfield13 N
Chichester24 Q
Chigwell20 T
Chippenham21 M
Chipping Ongar20 T
Chirk16 J
Chorley Wood20 Q
Clovelly24 F
Colchester19 T
Coniston 8 I
Conway13 H
Corfe26 M
Coventry17 M
Cowbridge22 H
Cowes25 O
Coxwold 8 O
Cromer14 W
Crowland16 R


Darfield11 O
Darlington 7 N
Dartmouth27 H
Derby14 M
Dereham16 U
Devizes22 M
Dinas Mawddwy16 H
Dolgelly15 G
Doncaster11 P
Dorchester25 L
Dover23 W
Downe22 S
Drayton14 L
Dukeries13 N
Dunster23 H
Durham 6 M


Eastbourne25 T
Edgeware20 P
Ely17 S
Epsom22 R
Eversley22 P
Evesham18 M
Exeter25 G


Farnham23 Q
Fishguard19 D
Folkestone24 V
Fotheringhay16 R
Fountains Abbey 9 M
Freshwater26 M
Furness Abbey 9 I


Gad’s Hill22 S
Glastonbury23 K
Glossop12 M
Gloucester20 L
Grasmere 7 I
Grantham15 Q
Greenstead Church20 S
Guildford22 R
Guisborough 7 O


Hampton Court22 R
Harborough15 Q
Harlech15 G
Harrogate10 M
Harrow21 Q
Haselmere23 Q
Hastings24 U
Haverfordwest20 D
Haverhill19 T
Haworth10 L
Hay19 I
Helmsley 8 P
Hereford19 K
Hexham 4 M
Holyhead12 D
Honiton24 H
Howard Castle 9 P
Hucknall11 M
Huntingdon14 Q
Hythe24 V


Ilfracombe22 G
Ilkley10 M
Ipswich18 V


Jarrow 5 N
Jordans21 P


Kendal 8 K
Kenilworth17 M
Keston22 R
Keswick 6 J
Kettlewell 9 L
King’s Lynn15 T
Kirby Hall17 Q
Knaresborough10 O
Knutsford13 L


Lacock22 L
Lamberhurst23 S
Lancaster 9 K
Lanercost Priory 5 L
Launceston26 E
Leamington18 O
Ledbury15 K
Leeds10 N
Leicester16 P
Lewes24 R
Leyburn 8 M
Llangollen15 J
London21 R
Ludlow17 J
Llandaff22 H
Llandovery19 G
Lincoln13 Q
Lichfield16 L
Liverpool12 J
Lulworth26 L
Lymington25 O
Lutterworth17 P
Lyndhurst24 M


Maidstone22 U
Malmsbury21 K
Malvern18 K
Manchester12 L
Mansfield13 O
Marazion28 B
Margate21 W
Marlborough21 N
Marney19 V
Midhurst24 O
Middleham 9 L
Mildenhall17 T
Monmouth20 J
Monken Hadley20 R
Montgomery16 J
Moreton Hampstead25 G
Much Wenlock17 L
Mundesley14 X


Neath21 H
Nether Stowey23 I
Netley24 O
Newark14 P
Newcastle 5 M
Newcastle-under-Lyme14 K
Newlyn28 A
Newmarket17 U
Newport21 V
Newport20 O
Newstead Abbey14 O
Newtown17 I
Northampton18 P
Nottingham14 N
Norwich16 W


Olney19 Q
Oswestry15 I
Oundle17 R
Oxford20 N


Penn’s Chapel24 R
Penrith 6 K
Penshurst23 T
Penzance28 B
Pevensey24 S
Peterborough16 R
Plymouth27 F
Pontefract11 O
Prince Town26 G


Raby Castle 7 M
Raglan20 I
Reading22 O
Reculver22 V
Retford13 P
Richmond 8 M
Rievaulx Abbey 9 M
Ripon 9 M
Ripple19 L
Rochester22 T
Romsey23 M
Ross19 K
Rowton Moor13 K
Ryde26 P
Rye24 U


Salisbury23 L
St. Albans20 R
St. David’s19 B
St. Ives27 B
St. Ives17 S
Sandringham Palace15 U
Scarborough 8 R
Scrooby12 O
Shottermill24 P
Shrewsbury16 J
Skipton10 L
Somersby13 R
Southampton24 M
Southwell14 O
Stilton17 R
Stockton 6 O
Settle 9 L
Seven Oaks22 T
Selborne23 O
Sheffield12 N
Sherborne24 L
Stoke Poges21 Q
Stokesay Manor17 K
Stratford-on-Avon18 N
Sulgrave18 P
Swansea20 G


Tadcaster10 O
Tamworth16 N
Taunton23 J
Tavistock26 F
Tewkesbury19 M
Thetford17 U
Tintagel25 D
Tintern20 J
Tong16 L
Torquay26 H
Truro27 C
Tunbridge Wells23 T


Usk20 I
Uttoxeter15 M
Uxbridge21 Q


Ventnor26 P


Wakefield11 N
Walsingham15 V
Waltham20 S
Wantage21 N
Wareham25 L
Warrington11 K
Warwick18 M
Wellington24 I
Wells23 J
Wells-next-the-Sea14 V
Westerham24 R
Weston-Super-Mare22 J
Whitby 7 P
Whittington14 J
Wimborne24 L
Winchelsea24 T
Winchester23 O
Windermere 8 J
Windsor21 P
Wokingham22 P
Woodstock20 N
Worcester18 L
Worthing25 R
Wroxeter16 K
Wymondham17 V


Yarmouth16 X
Yarmouth25 N
Yeovil24 K
York10 O

Maps of Scotland and Ireland

Transcriber's notes:

The following is a list of changes made to the original. The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

from the fact that their wordly possessions
from the fact that their worldly possessions

some ten miles to the northeast of Sulgrave.
some ten miles to the northeast of Sulgrave,

etherial beauty, which we drink in as we skim
ethereal beauty, which we drink in as we skim

their absence the palace was thown open to the
their absence the palace was thrown open to the

the Crown Inn, where we stopped for luncheon
the Crown Inn, where we stopped for luncheon,

colleries and smelting-works, and the road over
collieries and smelting-works, and the road over

We thanked the officer and cautiously decended
We thanked the officer and cautiously descended

neccessary to complete the charm is in the merest
necessary to complete the charm is in the merest

many point of similarity, though in population and
many points of similarity, though in population and

Gainsborough, Lely, VanDyke, Reynolds, and many
Gainsborough, Lely, Van Dyke, Reynolds, and many

enough, secure a heated bathroom en suit, might
enough, secure a heated bathroom en suite, might

rough that it tried every rivit in our car, and nothing
rough that it tried every rivet in our car, and nothing

Pontefact was a very storm center in the wars of
Pontefract was a very storm center in the wars of

No chance for a comman man in England!—How
No chance for a common man in England!—How

'not guilty,: he said that he intended no harm, he
'not guilty,' he said that he intended no harm, he

bcause the offender was a peer. Four out of
because the offender was a peer. Four out of