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English Villages by P. H. Ditchfield

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Show you the road to Paradise above."

Here is another to the memory of a once famous Yorkshire actor, buried
at Beverley:--

"In memory of Samuel Butler, a poor player that struts and frets his
hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. Obt. June 15th, 1812,
Aet. 62."

Here is a strange one from Awliscombe, Devon:--

"Here lie the remains of James Pady, brickmaker, late of this parish,
in hopes that his clay will be remoulded in a workmanlike manner, far
superior to his former perishable materials.

"Keep death and judgment always in your eye,
Or else the devil off with you will fly,
And in his kiln with brimstone ever fry;
If you neglect the narrow road to seek,
Christ will reject you like a half-burnt brick."

Those interested in the brave mortals who go down to the sea in ships
will like to read the following verses which appear on the tomb of
William Harrison, mariner, buried in Hessle Road Cemetery, Hull:--

"Long time I ploughed the ocean wide,
A life of toil I spent;
But now in harbour safe arrived
From care and discontent.

"My anchor's cast, my sails are furled,
And now I am at rest;
Of all the ports throughout the world,
Sailors, this is the best."

The following original epitaph in a neighbouring churchyard compares very
favourably with the flattering and fulsome inscriptions prevalent at the
beginning of the nineteenth century, written in what has been called
"lapidary style ":--

"He was----
But words are wanting to say what;
Say what is just and kind,
And he was that."

[8] At Sedgeford the Infant is portrayed with three heads, illustrating
the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.



Bell customs and village life--Antiquity of bells--Christening of
bells--"Ancients"--Inscriptions--Dedications--Inscriptions of
praise--Leonine verses--Curious inscriptions--Historical events
recorded--Uses of bells--Passing bell--Pancake bell--Curfew--Guiding
bells--Names of benefactors--Great bells--Sanctus bell--Sacring
bell--Frequent ringing of bell--Change-ringing--Care of bells.

Bells play an important part in village life, and there are few more
interesting branches of the study of village antiquities than bell-lore.
Ringing customs throw much light upon the manners and doings of our
ancestors. Bells rang to commemorate the great events in history, news
of which was conveyed to the quiet village; they sounded forth the joys
and sorrows of the parishioners in their generations, pealed merrily at
their weddings, and mourned for them at their funerals. As the bell
"Roland" of Ghent seemed endowed with a human voice, and was silenced
for ever by Charles V. lest it should again rouse the citizens to arms,
so these bells in our village steeples seem to speak with living tongues
and tell the story of our village life.

Bells have great antiquity. Odoceus, Bishop of Llandaff, in 550 A.D.,
is said to have taken the bells away from his cathedral during a time
of excommunication. Bede mentions them in the seventh century. In 680
Benedict, Abbot of Wearmouth, imported some from Italy, and in the tenth
century St. Dunstan hung many. Ireland probably had bells in the time
of St. Patrick, who died in 493, and a bell that bears his name is
preserved at Belfast. The earliest Saxon bells were not cast, but were
made of plates of iron riveted together, and were probably used as

Bells were usually christened. Those of Crowland Abbey were named Pega,
Bega, Tatwin, Turketyl, Betelin, Bartholomew, and Guthlac. A fire in
1091 destroyed this peal. Those of the priory of Little Dunmow, Essex,
according to an old chartulary, were new cast and baptised in 1501.

"Prima in honore Sancti Michaelis Archangeli."
"Secunda in honore Sancti Johannis Evangelisti."
"Tertia in honore S. Johannis Baptisti."
"Quarta in honore Assumptionis beatae Mariae."
"Quinta in honore Sanctae Trinitatis et omnium sanctorum."

The tenor bell at Welford, Berks, has the inscription, "Missi de celis
habeo nomen Gabrielis 1596."

Bells dating from before the year 1600 are called "ancients," and it is
a very pleasant discovery to find one of these in our church tower; and
still more so if it be a pre-Reformation bell. Unfortunately a large
number of "ancients" have been recast, owing chiefly to the craze for
change-ringing which flourished in England between 1750 and 1830. The
oldest bell in this country is said to be St. Chad's, Claughton, which
bears the date 1296. Pre-Reformation bells are very seldom dated.

Mediaeval bells have many curious inscriptions on them, which record the
name of the donor, the bell-founder, together with heraldic and other
devices. The inscriptions are often written in the first person, the
bell being supposed to utter the sentiment, as it sends forth its sound.
A study of the inscriptions on bells is full of interest. The earliest
are simple dedications of the bell to our Lord, or to some saint. The
principal inscriptions of this class are: "Jesus," "Jesus Nazarenus Rex
Judeorum," "Sit nomen IHC benedictum," "Sum Rosa Pulsata Mundi Maria
Vocata," "Sum Virgo Sancta Maria." The invocation, "Ora pro nobis," very
frequently is inscribed on bells, followed by the name of some saint,
and almost every saint in the Calendar is duly honoured in some bell

Bells were always rung on joyful occasions; hence inscriptions
expressing thankfulness and praise were appropriate. Consequently we
find such words as "Laus et Gloria Deo," "Laus Deo Gratia
Benefactoribus," "Alleluja," "Praise God," and other similar
inscriptions of praise.

Some old bells have Latin hexameter verses inscribed on them, composed
by monks, which are called Leonine verses, from one Leoninus, a monk of
Marseilles, who lived in the early part of the twelfth century. A few
examples of these will suffice:--

"Est michi collatum ihc illud nomen amaetum."
"Protege Virgo pia quos convoco Sancta Maria."
"Voce mea viva depello cunta nocina."

This refers to the belief that the ringing of bells drives away all
demons and tempests, storms and thunders, and all other hurtful things.
One bell proudly asserts:--

"Me melior vere non est campana sub ere."

Inscriptions in English are often quaint and curious. Here is one from

"My treble voice
Makes hearts rejoice."

Another self-complacent bell asserts--

"If you have a judicious ear,
You'll own my voice is sweet and clear."

Loyal inscriptions are often found, such as--

"For Church and King
We always ring."

"I was made in hope to ring
At the crownacion of our King."

"Ye people all that hear me ring
Be faithful to your God and King."

A bell that has been recast sometimes praises the merits of its new
founder at the expense of its first maker, as at Badgworth,

"Badgworth ringers they are mad,
Because Rigbe made me bad;
But Abel Rudhall you may see
Hath made me better than Rigbe."

Sometimes all the bells which compose a peal tell their various uses.
Thus at Bakewell we find some verses on each bell:--

1. "When I begin our merry Din
This Band I lead from discord free;
And for the fame of human name,
May every Leader copy Me."

2. "Mankind, like us, too oft are found
Possess'd of nought but empty sound."

3. "When of departed Hours we toll the knell,
Instruction take and spend the future well."

4. "When men in Hymen's Bands unite,
Our merry peals produce delight;
But when Death goes his dreary Rounds,
We send forth sad and solemn sounds."

5. "Thro' grandsires and Tripples with pleasure men range,
Till Death calls the Bob and brings on the Last Change."

6. "When Vict'ry crowns the Public Weal
With Glee we give the merry Peal."

7. "Would men like us join and agree
They'd live in tuneful Harmony."

8. "Possess'd of deep sonorous Tone
This Belfry King sits on his throne;
And when the merry Bells go round,
Adds to and mellows ev'ry Sound;
So in a just and well pois'd State,
Where all Degrees possess due Weight,
One greater Pow'r one greater Tone
Is ceded to improve their own."

A Rutland bell has the following beautiful inscription:--

"Non clamor sed amor cantat in aure Dei."
("Not noise but love sings in the ear of God.")

Historical events are sometimes recorded, as at Ashover, Derbyshire,
where a recasted bell states:--

"This old bell rung the downfall of Buonaparte and broke, April 1814."

The uses of bells are often shown by their inscriptions. People were
aroused by their sound each morning in many places, as at St. Ives,
where a bell is inscribed--

"Arise and go about your business."

The villagers were summoned to extinguish fires by ringing of bells.
Thus Sherborne, Dorset, has a bell inscribed--

"Lord, quench this furious flame:
Arise, run, help put out the same."

Bell-ringing customs are very numerous.[9] The passing bell has many
variants. In some places three times three strokes are sounded for a
man, three times two for a woman, and three times one for a child. Out
of the first-named of these practices probably arose the phrase, "Nine
tailors make a man," which is usually explained as more properly
signifying "nine tellers make a man." Then we have a pancake bell,
which formerly summoned people to confession, and not to eat pancakes;
a gleaning bell, an eight hours' bell rung at 4 a.m., noon, and 8 p.m.
The curfew bell survives in many places, which, as everyone knows, was
in use long before William the Conqueror issued his edict. Peals are
rung on "Oak Apple Day," and on Guy Fawkes' Day, "loud enough to call
up poor Guy." Church bells played a useful part in guiding the people
homewards on dark winter evenings in the days when lands were
uninclosed and forests and wild moors abounded, and charitable folk,
like Richard Palmer, of Wokingham, left bequests to pay the sexton for
his labour in ringing at suitable times when the sound of the bells
might be of service to belated travellers. Names of benefactors often
find a permanent memorial on the bells which they gave; as at Binstead,
Hants, where a bell has the inscription--

"Doctor Nicholas gave five pound
To help cast this peal tuneable and sound."

And another bell in the same tower records the name of our famous
Berkshire bell-founders, the Knight family. The inscription runs:--

"Samuel Knight made this ring
In Binstead steeple for to ding."


The story of our great bells, of "Great Toms," "Big Bens," "Great
Peters," need not be told here. They wake the echoes of our great
cities, and are not heard among the hills and dales of rural England.
Outside the church at the apex of the gable over the chancel arch there
is sometimes a small bell-cote, wherein the sanctus or saunce bell once
hung. This was rung during the service of High Mass when the _Ter
Sanctus_ was sung, in order that those who were engaged at their work
might know when the canon of the Mass was about to begin, in order that
they might kneel at the sound and pray to God. At Bosham Harbour the
fishermen used to so join in the service of the sanctuary, and it is
said that when George Herbert's sanctus bell sounded for prayers, the
ploughmen stopped from their work for a few moments and prayed. The
sanctus bell differed from the sacring bell, which was a hand-bell rung
inside the church at the elevation of the Host.

Old churchwardens' accounts record the very frequent ringing of bells.
In addition to the Great Festivals, Corpus Christi Day, Church feasts
and ales, the occasions of royal visits, of episcopal visitations,
victories, and many other great events, were always celebrated by the
ringing of the church bells. In fact by the fondness of English folk
for sounding their bells this country earned the title in the Middle
Ages of "the ringing island." Peal-ringing was indeed peculiar to
England. It was not until the seventeenth century that change-ringing
became general, and our old bells suffered much at the hands of the
followers of the new fashion.

In recent years the study of our church bells has made great progress,
and many volumes have been written upon the bells of various counties.
Too long have our bells been left to the bats and birds, and the belfry
is often the only portion of a church which is left uncared for. We are
learning better now, and the bells which have sounded forth the joys
and sorrows of our villagers for so many generations are receiving the
attention they deserve.

[9] A collection of these will be found in my book on _Old English
Customs Extant at the Present Time_.



Local government--Changes in the condition of villeins and labourers--
Famine and pestilence--Effects of the Great Plague--Spirit of
independence--Picture of village life--Church house--Church ales--
Pilgrimages--Markets--Old English fair--Wars--Hastings--Hereward
the Wake--Great Civil War--Restoration--Beacons.

Let us try to imagine the ordinary life and appearance of a mediaeval
English village in the "piping times of peace." Of course, no two
villages are quite alike; each has many distinguishing features; but
a strong family likeness is observable. In the Middle Ages a village
was much more independent than it is now. Then there were no Acts of
Parliament to control its affairs, and it regulated its own conduct
much to its own satisfaction, without any outside interference. Of
course, sometimes things were managed badly; but the village knew
it had only itself to blame, and therefore could not grumble at the
Government, or the fickleness of members of Parliament, or the
unreasonable conduct of Local Government Boards. Was not the lord
of the manor quite capable of trying all criminals? and did not the
rector and the vestry settle everything to the satisfaction of everyone,
without any "foreigners" asking questions, or interfering?

The position of the villeins and _cottiers_ has changed considerably
since the days of William the Norman. The former were now free tenants,
who paid rent for their land to the lord of the manor, and were not
bound to work for him, while the latter worked for wages like our
modern agricultural labourer. There was thus in the twelfth century a
gradual approximation to modern conditions on many estates; the home
farm was worked by hired labourers who received wages; while the
villeins had bought themselves off from the obligation of doing
customary work by paying a quit-rent.

We should like to know something of the way in which our ancestors
farmed their land, and fortunately several bailiffs have left us
their account books very carefully kept, and one Walter de Henley
in 1250 wrote a book on the _Art of Husbandry_, which gives us much
information. The rent of land was about sixpence per acre. They
ploughed three times a year, in autumn, April, and at midsummer, and
used oxen for their plough-teams. Women helped their husbands in
ploughing and harvest work. An old writer describes the farmer's wife
"walking by him with a long goad, in a cutted cote cutted full high."
Pigs and poultry were numerous on a mediaeval farm, but sheep were the
source of the farmer's wealth. Large flocks of divers breeds roamed the
hills and vales of rural England, and their rich fleeces were sent to
Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent for the manufacture of cloth by the Flemish
weavers. After the Black Death, a great plague which ravaged the
country in 1348, the labourers were fewer in number, and their wages
higher; hence the farmers paid increased attention to their sheep,
which yielded rich profits, and required few labourers to look after

Prior to the advent of this grim visitor, the Great Plague, the
prosperity of our villages had greatly increased. The people were
better fed and better clothed than any of their neighbours on the
Continent. Moreover they were free men, and enjoyed their freedom.
There was much happiness in our English villages in those days, and
"Merry England" was not a misnomer. There were, however, two causes of
suffering which for a time produced untold wretchedness--two unwelcome
visitors who came very frequently and were much dreaded--famine and
pestilence. There is necessarily a sameness in the records of these

The chief famine years were 1315 and 1316, but there is hardly any
period of five years from the death of Edward I. to the coming of
Henry of Richmond without these ghastly records of the sufferings of
the people. Disease not only arrested the growth of the population,
but reduced it considerably. It was mostly of a typhoid nature. The
undrained soil, the shallow stagnant waters which lay upon the surface
of the ground, the narrow and unhealthy homes, the filthy and neglected
streets of the towns, the excessive use of salted provisions and
absence of vegetables, predisposed the people to typhoid diseases, and
left them little chance of recovery when stricken down with pestilence.

The Great Plague arrived in England in 1348 from the shores of Italy,
whither it had been wafted from the East. It was probably carried to
the port of Bristol by travelling merchants, whence it spread with
alarming rapidity over the whole land. Whole villages were depopulated,
and about one-third of the people of England perished. It is difficult
for us to imagine the sorrow and universal suffering which the plague
caused. Its effects were, however, beneficial to the villagers who
survived. Naturally labourers became very scarce and were much sought
after. Wages rose enormously. The tenants and rustics discovered that
they were people of importance. Manor lords found it too expensive to
farm their lands, and were eager to hand them over to their tenants,
many of whom became much richer and more independent than formerly. The
spirit of independence pervaded all classes. There came to our village
many wandering friars, followers of Wiklif, who preached discontent to
the labouring rustics, told them that the gentry had no right to lord
it over them, that they were as good as their masters, who ought not to
live in fine houses in luxury supported by their toil and the sweat of
their brows. And when oppressive taxes were levied, the rustics
revolted, and gained much for which they strove. The golden age of the
English labourer set in, when food was cheap, wages high, and labour
abundant. A fat pig could be bought for fourpence, and three pounds of
beef for a penny; and in spite of occasional visits of the plague, the
villager's lot was by no means unhappy.

Here is a picture of village life in those days. The village church
stood in the centre of the hamlet, with a carefully made fence around
it, in order that no swine or foul beast might desecrate the graves.
Surrounded by the churchyard, with its yew tree and lich-gate, the
church was very similar to the old building wherein the villagers still
worship. All the houses had thatched roofs, and chief among the other
dwellings stood the lord's hall. Near the church was a curious building
called the church house, which has almost entirely passed away, except
in the records of old churchwardens' accounts. It was a large building,
in which could be stored wool, lime, timber, sand, etc., and was often
let to pedlars, or wandering merchants, to deposit their goods during
the fair.

In this building there was a long low room with a large fireplace and
hearth, around which a dozen or more could sit in comfort, except when
the wind blew the smoke down the wide, open chimney; but our ancestors
were accustomed to smoky chimneys, and did not mind them. In the centre
of the room was a large oak table. This was the scene of some very
festive gatherings. Aubrey thus describes the church house:--

"In every parish was a church house, to which belonged spits, crocks,
and other utensils for dressing provisions. Here the housekeepers met.
The young people were there too, and had dancing, bowling, shooting at
butts, etc., the ancients [_i.e._ old folks] sitting gravely by, and
looking on."

The churchwardens bought, and received presents of, a large quantity of
malt, which they brewed into beer and sold to the company. Hence these
feasts were called "church ales," and were held on the feast of the
dedication of the church, the proceeds being devoted to the maintenance
of the poor. Sometimes they were held at Whitsuntide also, sometimes
four times a year, and sometimes as often as money was wanted or a
feast desired. An arbour of boughs was erected in the churchyard on
these occasions called Robin Hood's Bower, where the maidens collected
money for the "ales," and "all went merry as a marriage bell"--rather
too merry sometimes, for the ale was strong and the villagers liked it,
and the ballad-singer was so merry, and the company so hearty--and was
it not all for a good cause, the support of the poor? The character of
these festivals deteriorated so much, until at last "church ales" were
prohibited altogether, on account of the excess to which they gave

[Illustration: AN ANCIENT VILLAGE]

There was a large amount of gaiety in the old villages in those days.
Men were not in so great a hurry to grow rich as they are now. The
Church authorised many holidays in the course of the year; and what
with May Day festivities, Plough Mondays, Hocktide and Shrovetide
sports, harvest suppers, fairs, and "ales," the villagers had plenty of
amusement, and their lives certainly could not be described as dull.
Sometimes the village would be enlivened by the presence of a company
of pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury, or
to Holywell, blessed by St. Winifred, in order to be cured of some
disease. Although these pilgrims were deemed to be engaged on a
religious duty, they certainly were not generally very serious or sad.
Chaucer describes a very joyous pilgrimage in his _Canterbury Tales_,
how the company met at the Tabard Inn, in Southwark, including the
knight and the abbot, the prioress and the shipman, the squire and the
merchant, the ploughman and sompnour (or summoner, "of whose visage
children were sore afeard"), and rode forth gaily in the spring

"The holy blissful martyr for to seek,
That them hath holpen when that they were sick."

Pilgrim crosses are numerous all over England, where the pilgrims
halted for their devotions by the way, and sometimes we find churches
planted on the roadside far from human habitations, with no
parishioners near them; and some people wonder why they were so built.
These were pilgrim churches, built for the convenience of the
travellers as they wended their way to Canterbury. The villages through
which they passed must have been much enlivened by the presence of
these not very austere companies.

The ordinary lives of the farmers were diversified by the visits
to the weekly markets held in the neighbouring town, where they took
their fat capons, eggs, butter, and cheese. Here is a curious relic
of olden times, an ancient market proclamation, which breathes the
spirit of former days, and which was read a few years ago at
Broughton-in-Furness, by the steward of the lord of the manor, from
the steps of the old market cross. These are the words:--

"O yes, O yes, O yes![10] The lord of the manor of Broughton and of
this fair and market strictly chargeth and commandeth on Her Majesty's
behalf, that all manners of persons repairing to this fair and market
do keep Her Majesty's peace, upon pain of five pounds to be forfeited
to Her Majesty, and their bodies to be imprisoned during the lord's
pleasure. Also that no manner of person within this fair and market do
bear any bill, battle-axe, or other prohibited weapons, but such as be
appointed by the lord's officers to keep this fair or market, upon pain
of forfeiture of all such weapons and further imprisonment. Also, that
no manner of person do pick any quarrel, matter, or cause for any old
grudge or malice to make any perturbation or trouble, upon pain of five
pounds, to be forfeited to the lord, and their bodies to be imprisoned.
Also, that none buy or sell in corners, back sides, or hidden places,
but in open fair or market, upon pain of forfeiture of all such goods
and merchandise so bought and sold, and their bodies to imprisonment.
Also, that no manner of persons shall sell any goods with unlawful mete
or measures, yards or weights, but such as be lawful and keep the true
assize, upon pain of forfeiture of all such goods and further
imprisonment. Lastly, if any manner of persons do here find themselves
grieved, or have any injuries or wrong committed or done against them,
let them repair to the lord or his officers, and there they shall be
heard according to right, equity, and justice. God save the Queen and
the lord of the manor!"

And besides the weekly markets there were the great annual fairs, which
lasted many days, and were frequented by all classes of the population.
These fairs were absolutely necessary for the trade of the country in
the days when few people travelled far from their own homesteads, and
even the towns with their small number of inhabitants did not afford a
sufficient market for the farmer's and trader's stock.

The greatest of all English fairs was held in the little village of
Stourbridge, near Cambridge, now almost absorbed by the University
town. Hither flocked merchants and traders from all parts of Europe.
Flemish merchants brought their fine linen and cloths from the great
commercial cities of Belgium. Genoese and Venetian traders came with
their stores of Eastern goods. Spaniards and Frenchmen brought their
wines, and the merchants of the Hanse towns of Germany sold furs and
flax, ornaments and spices, while in return for all these treasures our
English farmers brought the rich fleeces of their sheep, their corn,
horses, and cattle. The booths were planted in a cornfield, and the
circuit of the fair, which was like a well-governed city, was over
three miles. The shops were built in streets or rows, some named after
the various nations that congregated there, and others after the kind
of goods offered for sale. There were Garlick Row, Bookseller's Row,
Cook Row; there were a cheese fair, a hop fair, a wool fair, and every
trade was represented, together with taverns, eating-houses, and in
later years playhouses of various descriptions. In the eighteenth
century one hundred thousand pounds' worth of woollen manufactures was
sold in a week in one row alone. A thousand pack-horses were used to
convey the goods of the Lancashire merchants to this famous fair. Now
railways have supplanted the pack-horses; fairs have had their day; the
trade of the country can now be carried on without them; and their
relics with their shows and shooting-galleries and steam roundabouts
have become a nuisance.

The peaceful life of the villagers was sometimes disturbed by the
sounds and sights of conflict. The exciting tales of war are connected
with the history of many an English village, and many "little
Wilhelmines" and labouring "grandsires" have discovered "something
large and round," traces of these ancient conflicts and "famous

"For often when they go to plough
The ploughshare turns them out,
'And many thousand men,' quoth he,
'Were slain in that great victory.'"

Many a lance and sword, and gilt spur, beautifully enamelled, which
once decked the heel of a noble knight, have been found in our fields,
and remind us of those battles which were fought so long ago.

"The knights are dust,
Their good swords rust,
Their souls are with the saints, we trust."

Sometimes the spectres of armed knights and warriors are supposed to
haunt these scenes of ancient slaughter, and popular superstition has
handed down the memory of the battles which were fought so long ago. It
tells us of the mythical records of the fights of King Arthur and his
Knights of the Round Table by the banks of the River Douglas, which ran
with blood for three days, so terrible was the slaughter. It tells us
how stubbornly the Britons resisted the Roman armies, so that on one
occasion not one Briton was left to tell the tale of their defeat.

When we visit the site of some battle with the history book in our hand,
it is possible to imagine the lonely hillside peopled again with the
dense ranks of English archers, or hear the clanging of the armour as
the men-at-arms charged for "St. George and merry England"; and the air
will be full again of the battle-cries, of the groans of the wounded and
the shouts of the victors.

Visit the scene of the battle of Hastings. Here on the high ground,
flanked by a wood, stood the brave English, under the leadership of
Harold, with his banner, woven with gold and jewels, shining
conspicuously in the morning sunlight. Here they stood in the form of
a wedge; there they turned the Normans, and put them to flight. Then
the Normans rallied, pretended to fly, decoyed the brave English from
their position, and by stratagem succeeded in defeating them at last.
Or go to the Madingley Windmill, near Cambridge, and see the fifteen
miles of rich drained cornfields which intervene between "Ely's stately
fane" and the spot on which you are standing. Here read Kingsley's
well-known story of _Hereward; or, The Last of the English_, and instead
of the rich cornfields you will see that black abyss of mud and bottomless
slime into which sank the flower of Norman chivalry as they tried to
cross that treacherous bog to conquer the gallant Hereward and to
plunder the monastery of Ely, the last stronghold of the English. On
they came, thousands upon thousands, rushing along the floating bridge
which they had formed, until at last it gave way beneath the weight, and
the black slime swallowed up the miserable wretches.

Or let us take our stand on the Round Tower, near the summit of the Edge
Hill, and see the site of the first battle between the troops of Charles
I. and the soldiers of the Parliament. The whole of that green lane was
lined with troops. In a cottage which stood at our feet the king
breakfasted before the battle; from that mound he surveyed the forces of
the enemy. Just as the bells in yonder church had ceased to ring for
service on Sunday afternoon the cannon began to roar, and the fight
commenced. There Prince Rupert charged with headlong fury, carrying all
before him. And so we can follow the fortunes of the fight until the
brave Cavaliers retired to rest--

"And thousands had sunk on the ground overpowered
The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die."

The memory of many a fight is recorded in the names of the fields,
places, and hills on which the battle raged. Lichfield (_i.e._ the
field of the dead), Battlefield, Battle, Battleflats, Standard Hill,
Slaughterford, and many others, all tell the tale of war and slaughter.

In some parts of the country, especially in Oxfordshire, there are fine
avenues of trees, which appear to lead to a large house; but when you
have walked to the end of the trees there is nothing to be seen. These
avenues tell the tale of war, of the destruction of the manor-house of
some old Royalist who fought for his king when the "Roundheads" and
Cromwell's "Ironsides" were more than a match for the gallant Cavaliers.
His house was destroyed, he and his sons killed, unless they were
fortunate enough to escape to France and wait the merry time "when the
king should enjoy his own again." How many of our uplands and gentle
vales have been stained with blood, and seen the terrible horrors of
war, of which we in these favoured days know nothing from our own
experience! We read about the sad battles and sieges which have taken
place in other countries, but can hardly imagine the time when hostile
soldiers were riding through our village lanes, and the noise of the
cannon was booming in the distance, as on that famous Sunday morning in
October, 1642, when Richard Baxter was disturbed in his preaching at
Alcester by that strange sound, and knew that the terrible conflict had
begun between the king and Parliament. Our English villages suffered
very much. All farming was stopped, manor-houses destroyed, some of the
best blood in England spilt, and many a home made desolate. Indeed, in
some parts of the country the people had literally no bread to eat, and
no clothing to cover their nakedness; and Cromwell ordered collections
to be made in London for the relief of the distressed people in
Lancashire. Then the old clergyman was driven from his flock, and some
commissioner appointed who wrote in the register-books of the parish the
names of the children who were born, but did not record their baptism as
the clergyman did. And then some black-gowned Puritan, with his hair cut
short, came and took possession of the living, and preached very long
sermons about Cromwell "girding his sword upon his thigh," and about
blinded Papists, and about Mahershalal-hash-baz, who made haste to
divide the spoil.

But in the glorious year 1660 everyone began to throw up his cap and
welcome right royally the king from over the water; and the long-faced
Puritan disappeared, and the writing in the register-books changed into
that of a scholarly hand; and many of our churches were enriched by
thankofferings of plate and other gifts, because the good people of
England rejoiced exceedingly that their loved Church and her services
were restored to them; and "the king at last enjoyed his own again." The
memory of the adventures of King Charles II., when he was endeavouring
to escape from England after the last crushing defeat of the royal
troops at Worcester, called by Cromwell "the crowning mercy," still
lingers in many of the country villages through which the unfortunate
monarch passed. The king and a few faithful followers avoided the towns,
passed the ford of the Salwarp at Hemford Mill, and proceeded by Chester
Lane to Broadwaters and Kinfare Heath. Presently they reached Brewood
Forest, where there stood two old hunting-lodges, built by the Giffards
in troublous times as hiding-places for proscribed Papists. They were
called White Ladies and Boscobel, and were inhabited by staunch
Royalists named Penderel; so the king knew he would be safe there. He
was disguised as a forester with leathern jerkin and trunk hose, his
long hair cropped, and his hands blackened. All day he lay concealed in
a coppice, and in the evening, under the name of Will Jackson, he supped
with the Penderels, and then tried to cross the Severn, but all the
fords and bridges were guarded. The next day he and Colonel Carlos
remained concealed in a large oak near Boscobel, and the memory of Royal
Oak day is still preserved. He had other narrow escapes, and was saved
by Mistress Jane Lane, the beautiful daughter of Colonel Lane. A pass
had been obtained for her and her groom to go to Abbot's Leigh, near
Bristol. The plan was arranged that the king should act as groom; so
Charles mounted his horse, and Mistress Lane sat behind him on a
pillion, and together they rode through Warwickshire to Bristol. The
king was nearly captured at Long Marston, for some troopers of Cromwell
suspected the party, and came to examine the house where they rested.
The cook, however, set Charles to wind up the jack, and because he was
awkward struck him with the basting-ladle just as the soldiers entered
the kitchen. Their suspicions were thus removed; and in this old house
the remains of the jack are still preserved. The poor king was
disappointed of his ship; the skipper unfortunately told his wife that
he was going to take the king to France, and she was angry, and locked
him up in his room, so that he could not fulfil his engagement. At last
Lord Wilmot procured a ship for the fugitive king, who set sail joyfully
from Shoreham, near Brighton, and reached Paris in safety. There must
have been great excitement in the villages of England when the troopers
were scouring the country in all directions, and the unfortunate king
was known to be wandering about disguised as a servant.

If there are any hills or high ground in your neighbourhood commanding
an extensive view of the country, it is probable that in olden days a
beacon was placed there, so that the country might be aroused in case of
an invasion, and frequently we find that the tower of a church was used
as a beacon, and occasionally the iron brazier remains, as at Little
Budworth, Cheshire. When the Spaniards determined to invade England in
the reign of "Good Queen Bess," and sent the Invincible Armada,
consisting of an enormous number of ships and men and guns, bonfires
were placed on every hill; and when a gallant merchant vessel brought
the news that the Spaniards were coming, the bonfires were lighted, and
everyone prepared to resist their attack. Macaulay has told us in very
stirring verse of how the news spread, as each fire was lighted,

"From Eddystone to Berwick bounds, from Lynn to Milford Bay";

how Beachy Head caught the signal from St. Michael's Mount, and sent it
swiftly over the country from tower to hill-top,

"Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt's embattled pile,
And the red glare of Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle."

Again, within the memory of the old inhabitants of your village, the
hill beacons were brought into use when Napoleon I. threatened to invade
England; and on January 31, 1803, by some mistake, the fire on Hume
Castle, in Berwickshire, was lighted; other beacons responded, and ere
morning dawned thousands were marching ankle-deep through the dense mud
of the winter roads to their appointed stations. The mistake was not
without its uses, as Napoleon saw that England was ready, and did not
venture to attack our shores. A similar accident took place in the reign
of Henry VIII. There was a conspiracy against the king by the Roman
Catholics, who did not like their monasteries being destroyed, called
"The Pilgrimage of Grace." Beacons were erected on the heights of
Pendel, in Lancashire, and on the various hills of Yorkshire and
Derbyshire; but the beacon on Pendel was fired before the conspirators
were quite ready for action, and their plot came to nothing.

Once again in the history of our country were these beacon fires
lighted; but it was not to announce the approach of an enemy, but to
reflect the gladness of the nation which for so many years had enjoyed
the reign of so good a ruler as Queen Victoria, who has now passed away
from us, and whom the whole nation mourns. And as we witnessed the
sudden blaze of the beacons we thought, perhaps, of other occasions when
they were used, and were thankful that rejoicings and thanksgivings were
the cause, and not invasions or conspiracies.

[10] This is a corruption of the old Norman-French word _oyez_,
"hear ye."



Decay of old sports--Twelfth Night--Shrovetide--Mothering Sunday--
Hocktide--May Day--Miracle plays--St. John's Day--Rush-bearing--Beating
the bounds--Archery--Quintain--Football--Christmas games--Stocks--

It is the custom of some writers to represent the lot of an English
villager in past ages as having been particularly hard and disagreeable;
to enlarge upon the scanty wages which he received; and to compare his
position unfavourably with that of the agricultural labourer of the
present day. I have already pointed out that the small wages which he
received are no test of his poverty, because he received so much more in
lieu of wages; and certainly he had far more opportunities of enjoyment
and recreation than the present generation has. Now we have scarcely any
village games or sports, except when some energetic rector or curate
starts a cricket club. Old social customs, which added such diversity to
the lives of the rustics two centuries ago, have died out. The village
green, the source of so much innocent happiness, is no more; and a
recent writer has observed that the ordinary existence of agricultural
labourers is so dull that in East Anglia they have almost forgotten how
to laugh!

We will now try to realise how our village forefathers used to enjoy
themselves, how they used to spend their holidays, and to picture to
ourselves the scenes of happy social intercourse which once took place
in our own hamlet. Every season of the year had its holiday customs and
quaint manner of observance, some of them confined to particular
counties, but many of them universally observed.

On the eve of Twelfth Night, January 5th, we see the good farmer and his
labourers in Devonshire joining hands round his apple trees, and

"Here's to thee, old apple tree!
Hence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst blow!
And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
Hats full! caps full!
Bushel, bushel, sacks full,
And my pockets full too! Huzza!"

A hearty supper followed, and with laughter, songs, and good wishes to
the farmer and his wife, the company passed a very joyous evening. In
Herefordshire, Yorkshire, and other parts of England similar customs


Then followed Twelfth Night, which was celebrated by great rejoicings
and merry-makings, a game called the choosing of kings and queens being
played, and Twelfth Night cakes consumed in plenty. The next Monday was
called Plough Monday, when the labourers used to draw a plough round
the parish and receive presents of money, favouring the spectators with
sword-dancing and mumming, preparatory to beginning to plough after the
Christmas holidays. The men were decked out with gay ribbons, and were
accompanied by morris-dancers. The Christmas holidays lasted these
twelve days, and during them it was customary for the gentlemen to
feast the farmers, and for the farmers to feast their labourers. Then
came the Shrovetide festivities, on Shrove Tuesday, when pancakes,
football, and cock-fighting, and a still more barbarous custom of
throwing sticks at hens, were generally in vogue. On Mid-Lent Sunday,
commonly called "Mothering Sunday," it was the pleasing custom for
servants and apprentices to carry cakes or furmity as presents to their
mother, and to receive from her a cake with her blessing. This was
called "going a-mothering." The old poet Herrick alludes to the custom
in Gloucestershire in these words:--

"I'll to thee a simnell bring,
'Gainst thou go'st a-mothering;
So that when she blesseth thee,
Half that blessing thou'lt give me."

Then came the diversions of Hocktide, on the second Monday and Tuesday
after Easter, when the men and women intercepted the public on alternate
days with ropes, and boldly exacted money for pious purposes. There was
a Hocktide play, which was acted before Queen Elizabeth, and caused her
much amusement. She gave the players two bucks and five marks of money,
which delighted them exceedingly.

Very shortly afterwards the great rural festival of our forefathers
took place, the glad May Day, when, in the early dawn, the lads and
lassies left their towns and villages, and going into the woods to the
sound of music, gathered the may or blossomed branches of the tree,
and bound them with wreaths of flowers. At sunrise they returned, and
decorated the lattices and doors with the sweet-smelling spoil of
their joyous journey, and spent the rest of the day in sports and
pastimes, and dancing round the Maypole. The setting-up of the
May-pole was a very joyous ceremony. A long string of oxen, gaily
decked with flowers, drew to the village green the time-honoured pole,
decked with streamers, flowers, and flags, where it was raised amidst
laughter and shouts; and the Queen of the May was enthroned in an
arbour and all danced round; and the morris-dancers, Robin Hood, Friar
Tuck, and Maid Marian performed wonderful antics as they led the
revels. Targets were set up at the other end of the green, and archery
formed an important part of the day's pleasures. The preachers at the
time of the Reformation thought the people made an idol of the
Maypole, and condemned the innocent amusements, which were revived
again when Charles II. came to the throne. After May Day our villagers
had not long to wait until the Whitsuntide holiday came round--

"A day of jubilee,
An ancient holiday;
When, lo! the rural revels are begun,
And gaily echoing to the laughing sky,
On the smooth-shaven green,
Resounds the voice of mirth."

I have already given a description of these Whitsuntide rejoicings in
a preceding chapter.

Then there were the miracle plays, or "mysteries," as they were called,
in June, on Corpus Christi Day, which were performed before the
Reformation, principally in the neighbourhood of large monasteries;
Coventry, Chester, London, York being specially renowned for these
performances. The subjects were taken from Holy Scripture, or from
the lives of saints, and were intended to teach the people religious
knowledge, but the scenes were disfigured by many absurdities and
grotesque perversions. Their history is a curious one, too long to
enter upon in this chapter; but often in the open fields, at the bottom
of natural amphitheatres, were these plays performed, very similar in
construction to the famous passion play performed by the peasants, at
Ober Ammergau, in Bavaria, the last surviving specimen of the ancient
religious drama.

Then there were the bonfires to be lighted on St. John's Day upon the
hillsides, and the dance of the young people around them, the more
venturesome youths leaping through the flames, all carrying home the
firebrands and forming a glad procession. Afterwards followed the busy
harvest-time, when everyone was too hard at work, and too tired at the
end of the day's labours, to think of holiday-making; but at length
came the harvest home, when the last sheaf was gathered in, and the
harvest supper was a very joyous occasion. With light hearts, smiling
faces, and cheerful shouts, the harvest labourers and their wives and
children, carrying green boughs, a sheaf of wheat, and rude flags,
formed a glad procession to the farmer's house, where they found the
fuelled chimney blazing wide, and "the strong table groaning beneath
the smoking sirloin." The feast over, they retired to some near
hillock, and made the welkin ring with their shouts, "Holla, holla,
holla, largess!"--largess being the presents of money and good things
which the farmer had bestowed. Such was the harvest home in the good
old days, a joy and delight to both old and young. Shorn of much of its
merriment and quaint customs, it still lingers on; but modern habits
and notions have deprived it of much of its old spirit and

The floors of the old churches were formerly unpaved and unbearded,
simply made of clay, and were covered over with rushes. Once a year
there was a great ceremony, called "rush-bearing." Rushes were cut in
the neighbouring marsh, and made up into long bundles, decked with
ribands and flowers. Then a procession was formed, everyone bearing a
bundle of rushes, or placing them in the rush-cart beautifully adorned;
and with music, drums, and ringing of bells, they marched to the church
and strewed the floor with their honoured burdens. Long after the
rushes ceased to be used in church the ceremony was continued, and I
have myself witnessed a rush-bearing procession such as I have
described. A village feast, followed by dancing round the May-pole,
generally formed the conclusion to the day's festivities.

"Beating the bounds" of the parish was another annual ceremony, which
often took place on Ascension Day and is still in use at Oxford.
Boundaries of property were not so clearly defined in those days as
they are now; and hedgerows, walls, and railings were scarce. The
bounds of the parish were often marked by trees, called "gospel trees,"
because the clergyman used to read the gospel for the day under their
shade. The people carried a processional cross and willow wands, and
boys were generally flogged at the boundaries, or ducked in the river,
if that constituted a boundary, in order to impress upon their memories
where the bounds were. The village feast afterwards made some amends to
them for their harsh treatment.

The village sports were a great source of enjoyment, and were frequently
indulged in. The time-honoured archery developed the skill of our
English bowmen, and won for them many a battle before the days of
gunpowder and cannons. Then there was the very ancient game of the
quintain, which consisted of an upright post with a cross-post turning
upon a pin. At one end of the latter was a broad board, at the other a
heavy sand-bag. The play, which required skill and dexterity, was to
ride against the broad end with a lance, and pass by before the sandbag,
swinging round, could strike the player to the ground. This was a common
sport at wedding festivities. There were also the games of singlestick,
cudgelling, and wrestling, which had many votaries, and the famous game
of quarter-staff, so general in Berkshire, and so graphically described
in _The Scouring of the White Horse_, by Mr. Hughes. An old parishioner
of mine was the reputed champion of this game, which has now almost died
out. Football is an ancient sport, and the manner formerly in vogue most
nearly resembles the game authorised by the Rugby rules. The football
was thrown down in the churchyard, and the object was to carry it
perhaps two or three miles, every inch of ground being keenly contested.
"Touch-downs" were then unknown, but it is evident from old records that
"scrimmages" and "hacking" were much in vogue. Sack-racing, grinning
through horse-collars, running after pigs with greased tails, were some
of the lighter forms of amusement which pleased the villagers.

Then in the winter evenings there were "carols" to be practised for
Christmas, and each village boasted of its own musicians, who played
violins, flutes, clarionets, and other instruments in church, before
the days of harmoniums and organs. Their music might not be of a very
first-rate order, but they delighted in it, took an interest in it; and
how pleased they were to take part in the service, and to play over
their favourite hymn tunes, with a great many twirls and variations, to
their children during the winter evenings! Christmas brought its
accustomed merry-makings. In the north every farmer gave two feasts,
one called "t' ould foaks' neet," and the other "t' young foaks' neet."
Here is Sir Walter Scott's description of an ancient Christmas:--

"And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll'd
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all its hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night:
On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the Mass was sung;
That only night in all the year
Saw the staled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn'd her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dressed with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then open wide the baron's hall,
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doft'd his pride.
The heir with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of 'post and pair.'
All hailed with uncontrolled delight
The general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

"The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table's oaken face
Scrubb'd till it shone, the day of grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving man;
Then the grim boar's head frowned on high
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb'd ranger tell
How, when, and where the monster fell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar;
While round the merry wassail bowl,
Garnished with ribbons, blithe did trowl.
Then the huge sirloin reek'd: hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor fail'd old Scotland to produce
At such high time her savoury goose.
Then came the merry maskers in,
And carols roared with blithesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in this mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supply the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visor made;
But, oh! what masquers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale;
'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale.
A Christmas gambol oft would cheer
A poor man's heart through half the year."

Such was the manner of keeping Christmas in olden times; and if "the
mightiest ale" was sometimes too mighty, and although the intemperance
of our forefathers was a vice much to be deplored, at any rate their
hearty manner of keeping this annual feast was effectual in promoting
"goodwill amongst men," and in cheering the hearts of the poor.

In this chapter I have attempted to show the varied amusements and
recreations in which our village ancestors took part. On the old village
green, which in too many of our villages has been inclosed and become a
thing of the past, many of these sports and pastimes once took place.
There stood the village stocks, in which the refractory paid the penalty
of their misdeeds; and sometimes, too, a pillory was added, which held
fast the head, arms, and legs of the culprit, while the villagers, rude
vindicators of the law, threw stones, rotten eggs, and other missiles at
the unhappy victim. At the edge of the pond you might have seen a long
plank which turned on a swivel, with a chair at the end overhanging the
water. This was called a "cucking-stool," and was used to duck scolds or
brawlers. The culprit was placed in the chair, and the other end of the
plank was raised several times, so that the ardour of the culprit was
effectually cooled by frequent immersions. These were rough methods of
administering justice, but often very effectual in checking vice.

The social customs which formerly existed in each village, the sports
and pastimes associated with the village green, the May Day festivals,
and the Christmas carollings were of great value, inasmuch as they
tended to infuse some poetical feeling into the minds of the people,
softened the rudeness of rustic manners, and gave the villagers simple
pleasures which lightened their labours. They prevented them from
growing hard, grasping, and discontented with their lot. They promoted
good feeling between the farmers and their labourers. The customs of
the town were a poor exchange for the ancient country manners and
amusements; and it was a sad day for our country when the villagers
lost their simplicity and the power of appreciating the primitive
pleasures of rural England.




Monastic inns--Village inns--Highwaymen--Inn signs--Famous inns--

In almost every village in England there is an inn. Before the
Reformation there were very few of these hostelries, as travellers
were always accommodated at the monasteries, each of which, as we have
seen, had a hospitium, or guest-house, where their wants were attended
to by special officers appointed for the purpose, and where they could
remain for several days. But the destruction of the monasteries
produced many changes in the condition of the country; it introduced
the necessity of a poor law, for the poor were always relieved by the
monasteries; it required the erection of schools and places for
education, as all the education of the country had been carried on in
these monastic buildings; and when the old guesthouses ceased to
exist, travellers, merchants, and pedlars required some place in which
to lodge when they moved about the country, and inns became plentiful
as time went on. Hence in almost every village in England there is an
inn, which is generally a landmark; and if you wish to direct a
stranger to some place where he desires to go, you doubtless tell him
to turn to the right by "The Bull," or to keep straight on until he
comes to "The Magpie." Indeed, a friend of mine, who is a strong
teetotaler, asserts that the only good use inns have is to help people
to find their road. But old inns have a great history. In former days
they used to be meeting-places of plotters and conspirators. All the
distinguished people in the country used to pass through the villages
and towns on the great roads through the country, and when the horses
were being changed they used to partake of the good fare which the
landlord provided. Those were busy times for the old inns, when there
was stabling for fifty or sixty horses, and the coaches used to rattle
through the village to the inn door long before the iron horses began
to drag their freight of passengers along the iron roads, and the
scream of the engines took the place of the cheerful notes of the

Sometimes a gentleman would ride to an inn door on a beautiful,
fleet-looking steed, and receive a hearty welcome from the landlord;
but the pistols in his belt looked ominous, and presently some
soldiers would steal noiselessly into the inn where the gentleman was
refreshing himself, and there would be heard the sounds of vigorous
fighting; and often, in some wonderful way, Claude Duval or the noted
Dick would fight his way out, whistle to his steed, jump into the
saddle, and ride away before his less nimble pursuers had recovered
from their astonishment. Very many exciting scenes have taken place in
our old inns, but in these days railways have changed all things; and
in many streets where the coaches used to rattle along, and the place
was alive with merry sounds, the moss now grows, and all is silence
and desolation. We should certainly think it inconvenient to take
three days to travel from London to Bath, and it would not be pleasant
to have a visit from Dick Turpin on the way, and to have all one's
valuables appropriated by that notorious highwayman; but in these days
of worry and busy bustling it would be refreshing to catch a glimpse
of those quiet times when people were not so much in a hurry, and to
hear the sound of the posthorn once more instead of the whistle of the

The quaint-looking pictures and curious names which attract our notice
as we pass an inn door have some queer stories to tell. We notice a very
curious collection of animals sometimes, and a strange assortment of
things; and the reason why our ancestors put some of these curious
things together is somewhat difficult for us to find out. In olden days,
other houses of tradesmen besides inns had signs. Grocers, tailors,
candlestick-makers, all had signs; but most of these have disappeared,
except one belonging to a certain sweep of my acquaintance, whose house
is adorned with the figure of a man coming out of a globe, with the
motto, "Help me through the world." Over their doors barbers still have
their poles, which represented once the fact that the barber was
prepared to bandage up wounded arms and legs, and to perform the office
of blood-letting; the stripes on the pole were intended to represent the
bandages, and the barber was the surgeon of the town. We do not seem to
have so much blood to spare as our forefathers, as the barber always
bled his customers once or twice a year, especially in the springtime,
the operation being considered very beneficial.

One reason for the curious mixture of animals and other things which we
see on signboards is that an apprentice, when he had finished his time
and begun to set up for himself, adopted some sign, and then joined with
it the sign of his old master. This will account for such curiosities as
"The Lamb and Dolphin," "The Goose and Gridiron," "The Fox and Seven
Stars," combinations of things for which it would otherwise be difficult
to account. Another reason is that signs were taken from the armorial
bearings, or crests, of some popular character, or of some great family
in the neighbourhood. For example, I may mention "The Bear with the
Ragged Staff," which was the crest of Richard Nevil, Earl of Warwick,
commonly called "The Kingmaker," who was slain in the battle of Barnet,
1471 A.D. "The Blue Boar" was one of the badges of the House of York.
"The Bull" is a very common sign, because it was a very common crest,
and we have them in all colours--black, red, white; lions also rage in
blue, white, and red attire. Sometimes we meet with "The Cross Keys,"
the keeper of which was probably an old servant or tenant of an abbey or
monastery, and chose his sign from that of the monastery with which he
was connected. Frequently, in olden times, a cross was erected at the
meeting of two or three roads, or where the pilgrims to Canterbury used
to pass; afterwards an inn was built near it, and was, in many cases,
called the Cross Inn.

One very common cause of curious signs is the way in which the original
word has been corrupted by ignorant people frequently repeating words
which they did not understand, and thus changing their whole meaning.
You may have seen an inn described as "The Swan with Two Necks"--a very
rare bird indeed. But it was never intended to disfigure the bird by
giving it two necks; the original sign was "The Swan with Two _Nicks_"
and nicks were the marks which were cut on a swan's bill to distinguish
it from other swans, so that it might be known to whom the bird
belonged. But _nicks_ became _necks_ in course of conversation, until at
last a fabulous creature with two beautifully curved necks appeared on
the signboard. This same cause will account for the two strange signs,
"Bull and Gate" and "Bull and Mouth." The original signs were "Boulogne
Gate" and "Boulogne Mouth," _i.e._ the gate and harbour of the town of
Boulogne, in France, which was captured by the English under King Henry
VIII. in the year 1544. The English were very pleased to hear of the
defeat of the French, and of the taking of that important town, and
several inns were named in honour of the event; but the French
"Boulogne" was too much for our good English mouths to speak, so it
became "Bull and."

Another name which puzzled our forefathers was "_La Belle Sauvage_"
("the Beautiful Savage"), which was named after a noted savage beauty
who was the rage at Paris. Others assert that the name of the landlady
was Isabella Savage, shortened into Bella Savage. However, in course of
time the name was altered into "Bell and Savage," and a picture
representing this odd combination stood over the door. In the same way
the original sign, "Whip and Nag," between which there is often a very
close connection, became "Whip and Egg"; and the reason why these two
articles should be placed together is not so evident. So also there does
not seem any reason for an inn to be called "Bag o' Nails"; but when we
are told that the original word was "Bacchanals," _i.e._ followers of
Bacchus, the old god of wine, we can understand how the corruption, "Bag
o' Nails," arose. Before the days of licensing, when everyone could sell
liquor who chose without obtaining any licence from the magistrates, it
was the custom to put a bush over the doorway, in order to inform the
passers-by that liquor could be purchased there. This is the origin of
the saying, "Good wine needs no bush."


"The Catherine Wheel" tells us the sad story of St. Catherine, who was
born at Alexandria, and for converting fifty heathen philosophers to
Christianity was sentenced by the Emperor Maxentius to death on a wheel,
devised by most ingenious cruelty, armed with knives, saws, and nails.
It is recorded that she was rescued from this fate, but was afterwards
beheaded (305 A.D.). It is curious that this instrument of torture and
the story of St. Catherine's heroism should be recorded on a signboard.
But it may have been brought before the public by a certain miracle
play, founded on the life of St. Catherine, which used to be performed
on festival days. However, the Catherine wheel appears frequently on the
coats-of-arms of several families, and it may be that the sign was taken
from these.

"The George," also, is a very popular sign; and the "St. George of
merry England" is the patron saint of this country, and the battle-cry
of her knights and yeomen of ancient days. Who does not remember that
stirring scene on St. George's Mount during the Crusades, described in
Sir Walter Scott's _Talisman_, when King Richard tore down the Austrian
banner, which the Austrian monarch had dared to erect beside the Royal
Standard of England? St George is generally represented as slaying
a dragon. He was a soldier who served gallantly under the Emperor
Diocletian, and commanded a legion of soldiers; he was a Christian,
and by the dragon whom he slew is meant the devil, red with the blood
of the Christians. So popular a personage as St. George, whose name
inspired our ancestors with courage, and was often borne by them into
the heart of the foe, would soon be recorded in paintings and become a
general sign. "The Goat" is a common sign, and is taken from the crest
of the Duke of Bedford; but "The Goat and Compasses" has puzzled many
people as to its origin. It appears to be a corruption of a pious
expression, "God encompasseth us"; and this shows how strangely words
may be twisted and converted by ignorant and careless usage.

There are some very noted inns where great events have taken place,
amongst which I may mention the Bull Inn at Coventry. Here Henry VII.
was entertained the night before the battle of Bosworth Field, when
he won for himself the English crown. Here Mary Queen of Scots was
detained by order of Elizabeth. Here the conspirators of the Gunpowder
Plot met to devise their scheme for blowing up the Houses of
Parliament. And when the citizens refused to open their gates to
Charles I. and his soldiers, no doubt there were great disputings
amongst the frequenters of "The Bull" as to what would be the result
of their disloyal refusal.

Some of the inns in remote country places did not enjoy a very enviable
reputation, and were little better than man-traps, where the
unfortunate traveller was robbed and murdered. At Blewbury, in
Berkshire, there was an inn, the landlord of which was suspected of
murdering his guests with great secrecy and mystery, and no one could
tell what he did with the bodies of the victims he was supposed to have
murdered. A few years ago an old tree in the neighbourhood of the inn
was blown down, and on digging up the roots a skeleton was found among
them. People wondered how it could have been placed there, but at last
a very old inhabitant told the story of the mysterious disappearance of
the bodies of the late landlord's guests, and the mystery was at length
accounted for. Whenever he slew a man he planted a tree, placing the
body of the murdered victim beneath it. The constables never thought of
looking there; and probably under every tree which he planted (and
there were several), when their roots are dug up, the bones of his
numerous victims will be discovered.

Another story is connected with the old "Hind's Head" at Bracknell,
which was another of these mantraps, where many travellers slept to
rise no more. One winter's night a stout-hearted farmer stayed there,
and joined several jovial companions round the kitchen fire. They ate
and drank merrily, and at last the serving-maid showed the traveller
to his chamber. She told him that he was surrounded by robbers and
murderers, showed him a trap-door at the side of the bed, on which if
he stepped he would tumble headlong into a deep well. She directed him
to tie the bed into a bundle, put it on the trap-door, and escape by
the window. He did so; down went the bundle, instead of the farmer,
into the well, and he managed to effect his escape. Rousing the
neighbourhood he captured the villains, who were all executed, and the
bones of many of their victims were found in the well. Happily such
inns were rare.

To describe the conditions of the old inns for which England was
famous, of the good fare which awaited the travellers by the coach, of
the spacious corridors, of the comfortable beds hung with silk and
smelling of lavender; to tell of all the great folk who entered their
doors--kings, queens, poets, generals, highwaymen, statesmen, grooms,
conspirators, coachmen--all this would require much space to relate.
When railways came in, their ancient glory departed; the old stables
are destroyed; grass grows in the courtyard; and the object of their
existence has almost ceased to be.



Belief in witches--Survival of water ordeal--Witches turned into hares--
Cruelties practised on witches--Bishop Jewel on the "evil eye"--
Fairies--Berkshire popular superstitions--Field-names--Homes of famous
men--Washington Irving's description of an English village--Rural

There is yet another class of subjects connected with old village life,
of absorbing interest and importance. I refer to the old superstitions
and folklore which still linger on in the recollections of the "oldest
inhabitant," and which ought to be at once treasured up, lest they
should be altogether lost. The generation of those who believed firmly
in the power of the "evil eye" of the witch, and who feared to disturb
the revels of the fairies on their rings and mounds, is only just
passing away. An old gipsy has told me some strange stories of the
superstitions of former days. He has told me of the witch at Farnham
who made the cows wild and prevented them from giving milk; of another
witch who lived at Henley-on-Thames, and who when thrown into the river
"floated like a cork." Here we have a survival of the old Saxon method
of trying culprits by the water ordeal, often used in examining
witches. This particular witch could turn herself into a hare, so my
venerable gipsy friend, aged one hundred and six years, informed me,
and the dogs hunted her. He told me of the Tadley witch, who "wished"
several people, and greatly injured them. It seems to have been a
common practice of the old witches to turn themselves into hares, in
order to vex the squires, justices, and country parsons, who were fond
of hunting, as the old dames could elude the speed of the swiftest
dogs. An old writer states "that never hunters nor their dogs may be
bewitched, they cleave an oaken branch, and both they and their dogs
pass over it." Mary Dore, a witch of Beaulieu, Hampshire, used to turn
herself into a hare in order to escape detection when caught in the act
of wood-stealing, to which she was somewhat addicted.

Old women were rather harshly used in the days when people believed in
the power of witches. If any farmer's cattle died, it was immediately
concluded that the animals were bewitched; and some wretched old woman
was singled out, and summarily tried and burnt. If anyone fell ill,
some "witch" had evidently a waxen image of the sufferer, and stuck
needles into it; and such was the power of the witch that, wherever the
person was, he felt the stab of the cruel needle. Hence the witch had
to be found and burnt. If the corn crops failed, was not witchcraft the
cause? for had not old Mother Maggs been heard to threaten Farmer
Giles, and had not her black cat been seen running over his fields?
Even good Bishop Jewel did not disbelieve in the power of the evil eye.
In preaching before Queen Elizabeth he said: "It may please Your Grace
to understand that witches and sorcerers are marvellously increased
within Your Grace's realm. Your Grace's subjects pine away even unto
the death, their colour fadeth, their flesh rotteth, their speech is
benumbed, their senses are bereft. I pray God they never practise
further than on the subject." To so great an extent did faith in the
witches' fatal power prevail. Our forefathers used to believe in the
existence of other, and more pleasant little companions than the old
toothless witches--the bright little fairies who, on account of the
neglect which they have received from the present generation of
Englishmen, have, so it is reported, left our shores in disgust, never
to return. The previous inhabitants of our villages did not so treat
them; and did not the fairies always bring them luck? They nailed the
horseshoe to the stable door to keep out the witches, lest the old
beldams should ride their steeds by night to the witches' revels; but
no one wished to exclude the fairies. Did not the dairymaids find the
butter ready churned, and the cows milked by these kind assistants? Was
there not an old lady in Yorkshire who knew all about the fairies, had
often heard them making butter, and had seen the butter smeared all
over the gate by a little green man with a queer cap who had been seen
slipping under a culvert? Canon Atkinson told us of this lady who knew
all these strange things, and of the Hart Hall "Hob" who worked so hard
with his flail, and of many other curious folk who frequented the
Yorkshire moors in olden days. The last witch had just died before he
went to Danby, but he found the whole atmosphere of the folklore
firmament so surcharged with the being and work of the witch, that he
seemed able to trace her presence and her activity in almost every nook
and corner of the neighbourhood.

The wells all over England were haunted by fairies, and is it not
confidently asserted that "the good people" (as the fairies are called)
live in wilds and forests, and shun great cities because of the
wickedness which exists therein? Have they never appeared to the lonely
traveller, clothed in green, with long hair floating over their
shoulders, and with faces more blooming than the blush of a summer
morning? Then there were the fairy rings formed by the dancing of their
merry feet.

"Some say the screech-owl, at each midnight hour,
Awakes the fairies in yon ancient tower.
Their nightly dancing ring I always dread,
Nor let my sheep within that circle tread;
When round and round all night, in moonlight fair,
They dance to some strange music in the air."

Then there were brownies; and knockers, who worked in mines, and showed
rich veins of silver; and elves--all of whom were included in old
village superstitions, and many were the tales told of the good deeds
they did, and the luck they brought. Nor must we forget the story of
the invisible smith who inhabited Wayland Smith's Cave, in Berkshire.
Whenever a farmer tied up his horse in the cave, and left the money on
a particular stone, on his return he found his horse shod by the kind
efforts of the invisible smith. There is also the old Berkshire story
of the old witch who lived in a cave by the roadside, and who, by the
power of her "evil eye," could stop the strongest team of horses, so
that, however much the carters lashed and swore at them, the animals
would not budge an inch until she permitted them to go. Here are a few
of the common superstitions current in Berkshire. If a corpse be kept
over a Sunday another death will occur before the week is out; should a
big bumble-bee enter the window, a guest may be expected; and when the
woodpecker, commonly called the yaffle, laughs, they say the rain is
coming. When the thick mist lies in the valley, the people say it is
the White Lady, a belief closely akin to the Dame Blanche, who is said
in Normandy to haunt streams. If one row of freshly sown seeds or
potatoes does not come up, it foretells a death in the family. If a
girl mends her clothes on her back, she risks having a drunken husband.
A screech-owl is unlucky, and so also is it if a bird fly against the

A woman came to the rectory a few years ago for a drop of sacramental
wine, which she wanted for an infant who had "the graspings." This
complaint I discovered to be a craving for something, accompanied by
restlessness; and it was supposed that a drop of sacramental wine would
cure an infant so troubled. If the mother before the child was born
craved for drink, this craving was communicated to the child, and could
only be remedied by a drop of wine used in Holy Communion. This
superstition, which I have met with elsewhere, probably is a relic of
pre-Reformation days, and of sacramental Reservation.

A tramp was passing through a Hampshire village a short time ago, and
calling at a house, begged for a glass of water. The woman who lived
there said that she was sorry she could not give him water to drink, as
there was a child in the house unbaptised, and therefore it would be
unlucky. The origin of this superstition it is difficult to trace.

These are some of the legends and superstitions which linger amongst
us. Every neighbourhood has its stories, its legends, and romantic
histories. It is a sad pity that these should pass away without any
record being made. Many curious customs and ceremonies relating to
christenings, marriages, and burials linger in remote hamlets; and
charms, curious remedies, and other relics of the quaint superstitions
of our forefathers, are full of interest to the lover of our English

As we walk in the fields, or study the old map of the parish, the names
of the fields invite our attention. These are full of interest, and
often tell us about matters which would be entirely forgotten. Some
names tell us of the great forests which used to exist all over the
country, when kings and noblemen, outlaws and poachers, used to hunt
the deer and the wild boars in many a successful run. These forests
were large tracts of country in its natural state, partly wood, partly
heather and grass, which were owned by the king, and were especially
brought under the harsh forest laws of the Norman sovereigns.

Some of our field-names remind us of the existence of these old forests
where corn now grows, and also of swamps and islands where everything
now is dry and far removed from water. Sometimes they tell us of the
old common lands which used to be farmed by the villeins and borderers,
and of the strange way in which they used to manage their farming. Each
man used to keep one or more oxen for the village plough until they
made up the team into eight; then they ploughed the land in strips of
an acre or half-acre each, divided by a bit of unploughed turf called
a balk. Each strip was a furlong, _i.e._ a "furrow long," _i.e._ the
length of the drive of a plough before it is turned. This was forty
rods, or poles, and four of these furrows made up the acre. These
pieces of land were called "shots," and there were "headlands," or
common field-ways, to each shot; and "gored acres," which were corners
of the fields which could not be cut up into strips, and odds and ends
of unused land, which were called "No Man's Land," or "Jack's Land." It
is curious, too, that all the strips belonging to one man did not lie
together, but were scattered all over the common land, which must have
been a very inconvenient arrangement for farming purposes. There were
also in each village community a blacksmith, whose duty it was to keep
in repair the ironwork of the village ploughs, a carpenter for the
woodwork, and a pound-keeper, or punder, who looked after the stray
cattle. Many of the "balks" still remain on the hillsides where these
old common lands existed, and the names of the fields bear witness to
the prevalence of this old field system.

They tell us, too, of the way in which attempts were made to force the
growth of particular crops, and in many parishes you will find a "flax
piece," which reminds us of a foolish Act of Henry VIII. ordering the
cultivation of that plant. Metals, too, which have long ago been
worked out, and trades which no longer exist, have left their traces
behind in the names of our lanes and fields. Also they speak of the
early days when the wolf or the bear might be seen in our woods or
fields, or of the beaver which loved the quietude of our streams, of
the eagle which carried off the lambs undisturbed by sound of the
keeper's gun. Sometimes he was disturbed in his thefts by the flight
of a good strong English arrow, which came from a sturdy English bow
drawn by a good strong English arm. The English archers were famous
everywhere, and many a battle has been won by their valour and their
skill. A law was passed in the reign of Edward IV. that every
Englishman should have a bow of his own height, and that butts for the
practice of archery should be set up in every village; and every man
was obliged to shoot up and down on every feast-day, or be fined one
halfpenny. Consequently, in some villages we find a field called "The
Butts," where this old practice took place.[11]

Many villages are associated with the lives of distinguished
men--authors, soldiers, and statesmen. Perhaps your village may have
bred other poets besides "the mute inglorious Milton" of Gray's
_Elegy_. Not far from where I am writing was Pope's early home, the
village of Binfield, which he calls--

"My paternal home,
A little house, with trees arow,
And, like its master, very low."

On the other side lies the village of Three Mile Cross, where Miss
Mitford lived and wrote "Our Village"; and Arborfield, called in her
book Arborleigh, about which she tells some pleasant stories, is the
adjoining parish. Sometimes, as I ride down a grassy lane, a favourite
haunt of the distinguished authoress, I seem to see her seated on a
fallen tree weaving her pretty romances, while her favourite dog, which
she often describes, plays and barks around her. A few miles in another
direction lies Eversley, the loved abode of Charles Kingsley, about
whom many stories linger in the countryside. To visit the uncomfortable
brick-paved study where he wrote, the garden where he used to pace and
think out his great thoughts, is delightfully refreshing and
invigorating to a jaded writer.

[Illustration: OLD COTTAGES]

These are only instances of places which have become interesting on
account of the famous men who once lived in them; and England has many
heroes of the sword and pen whose lives each Englishman should study;
and when you visit their dwelling-places you will recall their
achievements, and perhaps endeavour to imitate their examples. Here is
an instance of how little the villagers know of the distinguished men
who once lived amongst them. The great Duke of Wellington did not live
a very long time ago, and yet some friends of mine who were staying at
Strathfieldsaye, near the Iron Duke's house, and made inquiries amongst
the villagers about their recollections of the hero of Waterloo, could
obtain no information. At last one venerable rustic vouchsafed the
extraordinary intelligence, "I believe as 'ow 'e were very good at
war"! What a thing it is to be famous!

Much more remains to be said upon the various subjects which this
history of our village suggests. But the day is closing, and our walk
through its sequestered lanes and our thoughts about the various scenes
which yonder venerable oaks have witnessed, must cease. But enough has
been said to show what a wealth of interest lies beneath the calm
exterior of ordinary village life. An American truly observes that
everything in the rural life of England is associated with ideas of
order, of quiet, sober, well-established principles, of hoary usage,
and reverent custom--the growth of ages of regular and peaceful
existence. The impression which the appearance of an English village
left on his mind is beautifully described in the following passage:--

"The old church of remote architecture with its low, massive portal,
its gothic tower, its windows rich with tracery and painted glass,
its scrupulous preservation, its stately monuments of warriors and
worthies of olden times, ancestors of the present lords of the soil;
its tombstones, recording successive generations of sturdy yeomanry,
whose progeny still plough the same fields, and kneel at the same
altar; the parsonage, a quaint, irregular pile, partly antiquated,
but repaired and altered in the tastes of various eyes and occupants;
the stile and footpath leading from the churchyard, across pleasant
fields, and along shady hedgerows, according to an immemorial
right-of-way; the neighbouring village, with its venerable cottages,
its public green sheltered by trees, under which the forefathers of
the present race have sported; the antique family mansion, standing
apart in some little rural domain, but looking down with a protecting
air on the surrounding scene. All these common features of English
landscape evince a calm and settled security, and hereditary
transmission of homebred virtues and local attachments, that speak
deeply and touchingly for the moral character of the nation."

One of the most distressing features of modern village life is the
continual decrease of its population. All our young men flock to the
towns, attracted by the greater excitement which town life offers, as
compared with the more homely pleasures of the country. The rural
exodus is an alarming and very real danger to the welfare of social
England. Agricultural machinery has greatly diminished the number of
labourers required on a farm. Agricultural depression and the decreased
value of land have caused many old country families to close their old
manor-houses, as they cannot afford to live on their estates.

Let us hope that those whose happy lot it is to live in the quiet
hamlets of our native land, afar from the noise and din of busy towns,
will learn to love more deeply their village homes, and interest
themselves in their surroundings. To those who read the history of
their native place, each house and field, each stone and tree, will
tell its story, and recount the wonders it has witnessed. And as the
stories of wars and fights, of superstition and of crime, fall on our
ears, we shall be thankful that our lot is cast in more peaceful days,
when no persecutions, religious or political, disturb the tranquillity
of our village life. And when we read of the piety and simplicity of
our forefathers, their veneration of their church, their love of home,
their innocent joys and social customs, we should strive to imitate
their virtues which have materially helped to make England a great and
powerful nation. It is hoped that these chapters upon the old life of
our country, and the manners and customs of our forefathers, may induce
many of my readers to read and study history more deeply, may serve to
create an interest in the relics that remain to us of the past, and to
preserve the fleeting traditions that Time doth consecrate.

[11] In many cases the name "Butts" refers to the fact of the land,
under the common-field system, _abutting_ on meadows or roads, _e.g._
"Butt-close," in the parish of St. Mary Bourne.



To anyone who sets himself the task of writing a history of his village,
the following notes may be useful. With regard to the etymology of the
name, concerning which absurd errors are made in most guide books and
old county histories, it would be well to consult Canon Taylor's _Words
and Places_, being careful to study the earliest form of the word in
_Domesday_ and old documents. Bede's _History_, the _Anglo-Saxon
Chronicles_, and other old English chronicles, published by Bohn, may
contain some allusions to the parish and neighbourhood, and also
Kemble's _Saxons in England_. The _Domesday Book_ is, of course, a mine
of wealth. The Public Record Office contains many documents which will
be of great service--the _Testa de Neville_ (Edward II.), _Marshall
Rolls, Nonarum Inquisitiones, Pipe Rolls, Patent Rolls, Close Rolls,
Hundred Rolls, Inquisitiones post-mortem_, and the _Feet of Fines_. The
_Manor Court Rolls_, if they still exist, in the custody of the lord of
the manor, should also be consulted. The journals of local antiquarian
societies and county histories will of course be examined. The history
of the families connected with the parish must be traced. The British
Museum and the College of Arms contain fine collections of _Heralds'
Visitations_, and Burke's _Landed Gentry_ and Dugdale's _Baronage_
are the chief sources of information. Old _wills_ will yield much
information, many of which are in course of publication by the Index
Society, and county archaeolgical journals; and Somerset House and many
diocesan registries contain the original documents. The Historical
Manuscripts Commission has published many volumes of borough records
which are of great service, and the lives of any great men connected
with the parish may be studied in the _Dictionary of National
Biography_. As we have already pointed out, the parish chest contains
valuable sources of information upon the history of the village, and
its contents should be carefully examined.

The registers of the diocese contain many documents relating to the
ecclesiastical history of the parish, and from them we can obtain a
list of the rectors or vicars. If the church was connected with any
monastery, Dugdale's _Monasticon_ will furnish some information. The
Public Record Office contains the documents _Taxatio Ecclesiastica P.
Nicholai IV._ and _Valor Ecclesiasticus_, which give an account of the
value of the first-fruits and tenths, and also some volumes on the sale
of chantries, and the inventories of church goods. The name of the saint
to whom the church is dedicated must not always be accepted, in spite of
years of usage, and should be confirmed by reference to some early will
of a chief person of the village buried in the church, which usually
gives the name of the patron saint. The story of the church writ in
stone should be traced by the various styles of architecture, with the
help of Rickman's _Gothic Architecture_ or Parker's _Glossary of Gothic
Architecture_. If there has ever been a monastery in the parish,
Dugdale's _Monasticon_ should be consulted; and if there are any remains
of a castle, Clark's _Mediaeval Military Architecture in England_ will
be useful. Prehistoric remains, such as barrows, earthworks, pit
dwellings, and caves should be described; also any Roman roads and
villas; the flora and fauna of the neighbourhood, geology, folklore,
and dialect.

The following books are recommended:--

Evans' _Ancient Stone Implements of Great Britain_.
Evans' _ Ancient Bronze Implements_.
Boyd Dawkins' _Cave Hunting_.
Boyd Dawkins' _Early Man in Britain_.
Greenwell's _British Barrows_.
Fergusson's _Rude Stone Monuments_.
Cox's _How to Write the History of a Parish_.
Wright's _Essays on Archaeological Subjects_.
Parker's _Mediaeval Domestic Architecture_.
Sims' _Manual for the Topographer and Genealogist_.
Burn's _History of Parish Registers_.
Seebohm's _English Village Community_.
Toulmin Smith's _English Gilds_.
Haine's _Manual of Monumental Brasses_.
Bloxam's _Principles of Gothic Architecture_.
Tanner's _Notitia Monastica_.
Cutts' _Middle Ages_.
Lee's _Glossary of Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Terms_.


Akeman Street, 60
Aldhelm, church-builder, 103
Alfriston clergy-house, 180
_Alignements_, 46
Allington rectory, 180
Almshouses, 181
Altars, 191
Amphitheatre, Roman, 67
Anchoresses, 183
Anchor-hold, 183
Anglo-Saxon villages, 74-89
Archery, 277, 298
Architecture, English, 102-24
Arresting a dead body, 227
Arrow-heads, 20
_Art of Husbandry_, 255
Astrology, belief in, 222
Aumbry, 192
Avebury cromlech, 46


Ball-flower moulding, 118
Barkham in _Domesday_, 128
Barnack Church, 106
Barrows or tumuli, 23-3
" long and round, 25
" near churchyards, 23
" Saxon, 90-3
" their contents, 24, 29
Basilica, Roman, 66
Beacons, 268
Beating the bounds, 276
Bede, 75
Bell-ringing customs, 250
Bells, 245-53
" christening of, 246
" inscription on, 247-50
Benedict Biscop, 103
Benedictine monks, 161
Bewcastle cross, 98
Bishops, treating of, 229
Black Death, 255
Blood-letting, 167-9
Blowing Stone, 52
_Bordarii_, 131
Border castles, 140
Brachycephalic race, 21
Brasses, monumental, 212-18
Bridal cup, 207
Brief Book, 226
Brighthampton, pit dwellings at, 33
British Church, 93
" oppida, 34
" roads, 60, 61
" saints and martyrs, 94
Bronze Age, 21, 40
Budworth hermitage, 182
Burial urns, 29, 30
" urns in woollen, 220


Caesar's camps, 50
Camps, 50-52
Carthusian monks, 162
Castles, 135-53
Cave men, 16
Celts, 21, 34, 37, 56
Cemeteries, Saxon, 92
Censers, 205
Chancels, 190
Charles II., adventures of, 267
Chaucer's satire on monks, 160
Chepstow Castle, 140
Chest, parish, 218-29
Chivalry, 143, 148
Chrismatory, 206
Christmas in olden time, 278
Chun Castle, 51
Church ales, 258
Church bells, 245-53
" house, 258
" plate, 200-8
" yard, 243
Churches, parish, 184 99
Churchwardens' account books, 223-6
Cistercian monks, 114, 161
Civil War, effects of, 153, 220, 265
Cloister of monastery, 163
Cluny, monks of, 161
Consecration crosses, 239
Conversion of Saxons, 94, 95
Crannogs, 38
Cremation, 28, 29, 92
Cromlechs, 46-9
Crosses, Saxon, 95-101
Cross-legged effigies, 211
Cucking-stool, 280


Decay of old sports, 271
Decorated architecture, 117
Desecration of monasteries, 159
Devil's Highway, 61
Dog-tooth ornament, 116
Dog-whipper, 228
Dolichocephalic race, 19
Dolmen, 49, 50
_Domesday Book_, 125-34
Donnington Castle, 152
Druids, 48, 50


Early English architecture, 115-17
Earthworks, 50-6
Easter sepulchre, 193
Edge Hill, battle of, 264
Edwardian castles, 140
Emblems on brasses, 217
Enstone, menhir at, 45
Eslithic man, 14
Epitaphs, curious, 243
Ermyn Street, 60
"Evil eye," 291-3


Fairford windows, 232
Fairies, 56, 293
Fairs, 261
Feudalism, 141
Field-names, 296-8
Flint implements, discovery of, 11
Flint implements, 15, 20
Fonts, 186
Food in barrows, 24, 25
Football, 277
Force-pump, Roman, 68
Frescoes, 234
Friars, preaching, 161
Future life, belief in, shown by barrows, 24


Gambassi, glass-painter, 232
_Geburs_, 82
Gentleman, accomplishments of a, 149
Geological changes, 11-13
Glaciers in Britain, 12
Glass, stained, 230-3
Glastonbury, pit dwellings at, 37, 41, 42
Green, village, 8, 280
Grims-dike, 54, 55
Grosmont Castle, 141
Guizot on castles, 141


Hagioscopes, 194
Hall marks, 208
Harvest homes, 275
Hastings, battle of, 264
Heart burial, 222
Hedsor, pile dwellings at, 37, 38
_Hereivard the Wake_, 264
Hermits, 181
Hexham church, 104
" crosses, 99
Highwaymen, 283
Hocktide sports, 225, 273
Homes of famous men, 298
Hospitium of monastery, 169
House, evolution of country, 172-7
Hundreds, origin of, 87
Hurstbourne, Hants, pit dwellings at, 34


Ice Age, 12, 13
Iknield Street, 60
Ilkley cross, 99
Inigo Jones, 176
Inns, 7, 282-90
Inventories, 201
Iron Age, 21
" work in churches, 233
_Itinerary_ of Antoninus, 59


Jervais, glass-painter, 232
Johnson, Dr., on monasteries, 159


Keep of Norman castle, 137
Kelvedon rectory, 179
Kenilworth Castle, 151
King's evil, 228
Knaresborough hermitage, 182
Knighthood, admission to, 145


Laindon reclusorium, 183
Lammas lands, 79
Lecterns, 191
Legends, 44, 55, 263
"Lepers' windows," 195
Lich-gate, 242
Local Government, 254
Low side windows, 195


Manor-house, 172-7
Manors, 79, 133
Man-traps, 289
Markets, 260
May Day, 225, 273
Mediaeval village, 254-70
Menhir, 45
"Merry England," 256
Milestones, Roman, 61
Miracle plays, 274
_Misereres_, 191
Monasteries, Saxon, 102
" 154-71
" charity of, 159
Monastic day, 166, 167
" inns, 282
Monks, benefits conferred by, 155
" corruption of, 160
Monstrances, 206
Monumental effigies, 209-12
Mothering Sunday, 273
Mouldings, Decorated, 118, 120
" Early English, 116
" Norman, 112
" Perpendicular, 123
Mural paintings, 234-41


Neolithic man, 15, 18, 20, 37
Norman architecture, 109-15
" castles, 135-53
" place-names, 132
" villages, 125-34
Normans, coming of, 125


Ockwells manor-house, 173
Ogee arch, 118
Organised condition of society among prehistoric races, 31
Ornaments, Saxon, 91
_Osculatorium_, 192
Oxford, poor scholar of, 229


Pageants, 149-52
Paleolithic man, 14
Palimpsests, 213
Parish chest, 218-29
" registers, 218-23
Paschall money, 225
Pastimes, 271-81
Pavements, Roman, 71, 72
Pax, 192, 206
Perpendicular architecture, 120
Pews, 187
_Piers Ploughman_, 165, 174, 181
Pile dwellings, 37-43
Pilgrimages, 259
Piscina, 192
Pit dwellings, 33-7
Place-names, 76, 101
Plague, 255-7
Plate, church, 200-8
" " in bishop's coffin, 202
Ploughman's lament, 84
Plough Monday, 272
Porch, 185
"Pot-boilers," 36
Pre-Reformation plate, 202-5
Pulpits, 188
Pytheas of Marseilles, 10
Pyx, 191, 206


Quintain, 277


Raglan Castle, 141
Reading Abbey, 171
Reading-pews, 197
Reclusorium, 183
" at Rettenden, 183
Rectories, 177-81
Registers, parish, 218-23
Religion of Saxons, 93
"Restoration," 199
Rollright Stones, 46, 47
Roman relics, 57-73
" rig, 54
" roads, 58-62
" villas, 70-3
Rood-loft, 188
Royal arms in churches, 190
Rural exodus, 300
Rush-bearing, 276
Ruthwell cross, 97
Ryknield Street, 60


Sacring bell, 252
St. Christopher, 238
Salisbury Cathedral, 115
Saltways, 61
Sanctus bell, 252
Saxon architecture, 106-9
" house, 172

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