Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

A HILLY ROAD.

121

line, strangely overlooked the fact that lambs are not shorn, though sheep are!

As

But enough and to spare of epitaphs; let us remount the phaeton and proceed on our way, for we have far to travel and much to see before we reach our night's destination at Woodbridge. we drove on the country became more open and hilly (for Suffolk at any rate), but the hilly road had the merit of affording us extensive views now and again as we reached the higher ground. Passing a picturesque old battered windmill that had evidently seen better days, at the bottom of a rather steep descent we came upon a large red-brick farmstead with fine barns and other outbuildings gathered around; this large house, from its public situation close by the roadside, appeared to us as though it must have been formerly a prosperous coaching hostelry, and only converted into a farmhouse when its services in the former capacity were no longer required. Fortunately the old place has lost but little if any of its picturesqueness by the change; the ancient stabling has, without much alteration, made capital barns and the like, and doubtless the onetime roomy and comfortable old inn has been converted into an equally comfortable and commodious farmhouse; and doubtless also, were there only travellers on the road to entertain again, it could without much trouble be reconverted into an hostelry.

Driving on we soon came in sight of Ipswich. We entered the town by its busy side, past a confusion of railways, gasworks, tall factory-like chimneys, and rows of modern cottages, all these being half

hidden and blended by haze and smoke. What a deal of ugliness is the outcome of man's seeking for light and locomotion in these days! Entering the town we asked our way to the historic hostel of the White Horse, for here it was that Mr. Pickwick met with a romantic adventure with a middle-aged lady in yellow curl-papers.' There can be no mistake as to this being the actual inn, for to quote from 'Pickwick': In the main street of Ipswich, on the left-hand side of the way, a short distance after you have passed through the open space fronting the Town Hall, stands an inn known far and wide by the appellation of the White Horse, rendered the more conspicuous by a stone statue of some rampagious animal with flowing mane and tail . . . which is elevated above the principal door.' As is the case with all old towns that have not fallen into utter decay, ancient Ipswich, as far as its buildings are concerned, is growing younger every day, and the famous White Horse has not escaped the improving mania. This formerly picturesque hostel, dating back to the early part of the sixteenth century, has been in later years refronted with white brick in the simple unadorned style of a plain wall pierced by a square doorway and sundry square holes for windows; the old carved stone 'rampagious animal,' however, is still 'elevated above the principal door.' Fortunately it is only the outside that has suffered ; internally the house is much as it was in the old coaching days, a rambling building of many passages and staircases; the courtyard (as is the comfortable fashion of the excellent inns of the eastern counties)

[ocr errors]

OLD IPSWICH INNS.

123

is glass-covered, with a fountain playing and ferns around, and many joints of meat hanging, that speak well for the traveller's cheer who wisely selects to stay at the sign of the White Horse.

Of the many renowned inns of the coaching age that once existed in Ipswich, the majority are no more, and, according to a local authority, the disappearance of these ancient hostelries has given rise to the following doggerel lines :—

The White Horse shall kick the Bear
And make the Griffin fly,

Shall turn the Bell upside down,
And drink the Three Tuns dry.

The White Horse was the main posting inn from which the mail-coaches were all advertised to start, according to the notices of the time, God and weather permitting.' Modern railway directors do not trouble to make this reservation.

There are several most interesting old houses of the sixteenth century still existing in Ipswich, but above all others undoubtedly the best preserved and most noteworthy is the one in what is termed the Butter Market, known by the title of the 'Sparrowe's House,' from the name of the family who once owned it. This is truly a grand old house, quaint, ornate, and beautiful, three qualities difficult to combine and rarely to be found in modern architecture; an ancient building it is that would attract attention and compel admiration even were it in old-world Nuremberg, but being merely in a provincial town in England, it is little regarded or known-it possesses ` not the inestimable advantage of being foreign.

This delightful old house adds a wonderful charm to the street in which it stands. It is dignified, homely though stately; the windows are both prominent and graceful features in the building, not merely glazed voids. We seem to have lost the art of making such a thing as a window beautiful; plateglass has sadly mastered the modern architect. The carved ornamentation on the front of this rare old building is rich without being overdone, the details of the decoration are manifestly ation are manifestly thought out, not details taken from stock office patterns and done by contract at so much a square yard, and there is a sufficiency of plain space to give effect to the decorative designs.

The house is quaintly original; delightfully unlike any other house, it clearly asserts its individuality, it is graceful in mass as seen from a distance, the ornamentation is added to necessary construction, a building first of all obviously designed to be lived in, then rationally decorated. Though the effect of the whole is exceedingly rich, there is nothing extravagant about it, yet nothing mean or trivial, and herein lies its especial charm. Would that modern architects could do the like! but what can one expect in an age that is mechanical rather than artistic, when anyone who chooses can dub himself an architect, and can practise as such if he can find clients? And has not a past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the late Ashbel Welch, a man of rare judgment and remarkable executive ability,' laid it down as an axiom, That is the best engineering or building, not which

[ocr errors]

AN OAK-PANELLED CHAMBER.

125

makes the most splendid, or even the most perfect work, but that which makes a work that answers the purpose at the least cost.' Beauty for the sake of beauty seems to be a thing unthought of now; the value of art in raising our ideas and making our lives more lovely is lightly esteemed in a century that is above all scientific.

This old home of the Sparrowes has now been converted into a bookseller's shop, but fortunately without spoiling its characteristic features more than necessary in the conversion, and a most delightful shop it makes. We entered to purchase a few trifles that we did not require, in order to get a glance at its interior, and the proprietor, seeing the great interest that we took in the place, most kindly showed us over it. First we inspected a very fine large room upstairs having a richly moulded ceiling ; this is now used as a library, and a beautiful room it is it seemed to us an ideal library. Then the owner took us to see the truly magnificent diningroom; panelled this all with ancient oak, having a rich dark hue that comes only of age, the panelling divided with fluted pillars supporting enriched capitals and having a carved frieze above. The chief feature of this delightful and restful apartment is the grandly carved chimneypiece, likewise of oak ; this bears the date of 1603, and has the initials. 'W. S.' for William Sparrowe, whose family crest, a unicorn, has a place amongst the wealth of ornament; the horn of the unicorn is of silver, and is quaintly effective.

In the oldest part of Ipswich, near to the river,

« AnkstesnisTęsti »