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Wanderings in Wessex by Edric Holmes

Part 4 out of 6

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

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

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

[Illustration: WARDOUR CASTLE.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

[Illustration: BEMERTON CHURCH.]

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: OLD SARUM.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

[Illustration: HIGH STREET GATE.]

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

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

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

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


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

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

[Illustration: GATE, SOUTH CHOIR AISLE.]

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: LONGFORD CASTLE.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

[Illustration: DOWNTON CROSS.]

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


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

[Illustration: STONEHENGE.]



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

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



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


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

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

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

[Illustration: AMESBURY CHURCH.]

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: STONEHENGE DETAIL.]

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

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

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

[Illustration: ENFORD.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: BOYTON MANOR.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: LONGLEAT.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: FROME CHURCH.]

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

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


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

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

[Illustration: PORCH HOUSE, POTTERNE.]

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

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

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

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

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