Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

the old stone mullion and leaden lattice windows have been replaced by the more modern sash contrivances, which are sadly out of keeping with the building. At the first sight there appeared to be something wanting that an ancient building should possess, and it was some time before we could make out what this want was, namely, the strange absence of ivy or any green creeper upon its time-stained walls.

A grand specimen of Tudor brickwork is Seckford Hall, its long front being broken by six gables. As we wandered down the weed-grown road that led to the stone carved doorway, a farm-labourer chanced to be passing, and of him we asked if it were possible to get a glance at the interior of the house. He appeared astonished at our request, which proved to us that tourists are little known in these parts. He replied, 'I doan't knoaw, I'm sure ; perhaps the missus 'ud let you have a look, but there ain't much worth seeing ; 'tis a rare tumbledown old place.' A small coin changed ownership, upon which the man said that he would go in and ask the ‘missus hisself ;' thereupon he disappeared for a time, leaving us standing without. We did not have, however, to wait long, for the shepherd (if we did not mistake his calling) reappeared at the front doorway, closed now against intruders by a simple gate, smiling his best smile and saying that “the missus told I as how I moight show you the hall. So we entered. A fine hall it is, with oak wainscoting around and minstrel's gallery above, supported by carved oak pillars, the hall and gallery being lighted by great

AN OLD-TIME INTERIOR.

135

windows; the whole apparently remaining just as it was three centuries ago, unaltered and uncared for since, a picture of desolation, the woodwork fast going to decay, the very pillars worm-eaten and seemingly hardly able now to support the gallery above. But for all it is a grand interior; age and decay have not robbed it of its fine proportions. Were I ever to be in the happy position of having to build a stately country home for myself, nothing would delight me more than to faithfully copy this pleasing example of ancient architecture. There is no flimsy construction here; all is, or was, solid and substantial. The ancient architect built beauty into his houses; he relied upon form and graceful proportions for his effect rather than upon the superficial decoration of papering and painting, and so his buildings remain impressive and beautiful even in decay. Over a side entrance we noticed quite an elaborate coat of arms moulded in iron and let into the stonework above; the stone has weathered, but the iron still retains its ancient sharpness. Why this has not rusted I cannot say.

In the church at Woodbridge, on our return, we saw a very fine alabaster and coloured monument to the Seckford family, who would seem to have been important personages in their day, one Thomas Seckford having been Master of the Court of Requests in the reign of Elizabeth. This monument appears to have been restored at some recent period, which may account for its comparatively perfect state and the freshness of its colouring.

CHAPTER VIII.

Rural Pictures - The Beauty of Age in Buildings--Wickham Market

-A Curious Bell— Provincialisms and Folk-lore-Country Characters-A Decayed Coaching Inn—A Windmill Land-Saxmundham-A Picturesque Village - Poetical Business Effusions—The Trials of a Farmer's Life-Bramfield-An Interesting Church and Curious Tower—A fine Sculptured Monument-An Old Fresco-A Quaint Epitaph--Ancient Armour.

LEAVING Woodbridge, we soon found ourselves once more driving along the pleasant country roads, with the fresh green meadows and the red tilled fields on either side of us. The inhabitants of small towns have certainly the advantage that they can readily get away into the real country, and there are few things more enjoyable than a leisurely ramble on a summer evening down an English tree-bordered and bird-haunted lane, or a quiet stroll along a rural footpath that takes one in a familiar friendly way right into the heart of the land, close by cottage homes and picturesque farmsteads, leading through many fields to unexpected, out-of-the-way beauty spots.

The weather still favoured us. We had a bright, sunny, breezy day, in which to continue our journey; the sky overhead was a glorious deep blue, chequered only by the lightest of summer clouds. A wild warm wind was blowing from the west,

ENGLISH WEATHER

137

balmy yet bracing, stirring and rustling the leaves and causing a rippling movement over the grassy fields and many-tinted woods. All nature seemed in a joyous mood; high above us the lark was singing, a speck of song in a world of light and brightness, and in the tangled hedgerows the birds were twittering companionably. The air was clear, fragrant too with the scent of blossoms of wild flowers and of new-mown hay, the sweet odour of the honeysuckle being especially noticeable and welcome; and the sun shone softly down on all the spreading landscape. He must have a sad heart indeed who could not be glad upon such a day.

An American writer has given it as his opinion that it takes a good many bad days in England to breed a fair one, but when that fair one does come, he owns that it is worth the price paid for it. I can only remark that we had a perfect day without any previous bad ones, since our start, to make compensation for, and I make bold to say that such days are by no means so rare as some writers would make us believe, and in this matter I think that I ought to write with some authority, having for years past now taken my summer holiday in some portion of my own country, driving here and there by road, and for the enjoyment of such a journey much of course depends upon the weather. Yet for all the American's often quoted opinion that I have given, I can honestly say, that though of necessity we have experienced a variety of weathers, yet on the whole our memories are of sunny days or days of gentle gloom. Seldom have we been detained

inn-bound for a whole day, though in the course of our travels we have tempted Providence by driving amongst the mountain lands of Wales and Cumberland and over the wild and windy moors of Devon and Cornwall, regions which bear an unenviable notoriety for moisture, and where it is supposed to be always raining-except when it is snowing.

Now and again, as we drove along, we caught a glimpse of the winding Deben, gleaming like a streak of silver through the green and wooded landscape. On our way we passed by one or two rural roadside inns, with moss-grown roofs and lichen-laden walls, nothing much to boast of architecturally, but pleasing to the eye notwithstanding because of their simple homeliness and time-toned surroundings. Many a picturesque cottage, too, we passed, with tiny gardens. One now comes up before me, an ancient thatched abode, with uneven roof and long low lattice windows. In the little garden the cotter's sunburnt children were romping about as happy as kings, or happier, and were they the children of a millionaire they could not be more; their miniature territory was to them a kingdom. How robust in health they seemed, and how gladsome sounded their merry silvery laughter and their childish prattling! I pity the man who cannot sympathise with such minor elements of human interest of the road. A cottage it was that might have walked out of some old picture, such a cottage as Patrick Nasmyth loved to paint, a bit of wayside poetry.

How age beautifies buildings in the country, tints their walls with many changeful hues, makes

« AnkstesnisTęsti »