Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

AN INSPIRITING DAY.

21

(whose labour is, surely, the very poetry of toil), to the open country where the birds are singing in the hedges and the woods right merrily, and where all Nature seems in a joyous mood. Even the momentary glance we had in passing of that forsaken and mournful churchyard made us feel still more, by the cheerful contrast, the gladsomeness and brightness of that summer day, the enlivening effect of the golden sunshine and the inspiriting greeting of the bracing breezes that met us as we drove along.

A pleasant stretch of level country, with nothing particular of note on the way, took us through Dunton to East Horndon, which latter village possesses a very interesting church with nothing melancholy about it. This church contains a chapel, with monuments to the Tyrell family, whose crest, a Boar's Head, is still represented on the sign of the village inn; in the chapel are preserved an ancient tilting helmet with crest, an old sword, and a pair of gauntlets. On the floor is an incised. memorial slab bearing the date of 1422, said to be the finest known. It is to Alice Lady Tyrell, and gives her figure at full length and almost life size, with the peculiar head-dress of the period, her body being draped with a loose robe. This fine slab also contains representations of her ten children, each one bearing a scroll with his or her separate name thereon. But perhaps even more interesting than all is an altar-tomb beneath which, tradition states, is buried the head of the unfortunate Queen Anne Boleyn, and, as an old body sagely remarked to me, 'there is no record of her head being buried else

A very

where, so the tradition must be true.'
simple and ready way it seemed to me of proving
facts and making history. I may state here that
there was hardly a church that we visited during
our drive but was fraught with interest for us.
Strange and even ghastly relics that somehow
escaped the ruthless hands of the Puritans (though,
to do him justice, from what we could gather the
notorious William Dowsing during his visitation in
these parts did his utmost to utterly destroy all
superstitious pictures, relics, crucifixes, and the like);
many curious brasses we also discovered, sundry
quaint epitaphs, strange and puzzling inscriptions,
singular frescoes, odd conceits in carved wood and
stone, besides numerous other things that would
gladden the heart of any antiquary; but as all these
will be described in detail hereafter, there is no
need to say more of them at present. I would only
add that were this eastern portion of England really
'as flat as a pancake,' and as entirely devoid of scenic
attractions as many people wrongly imagine it to
be, still even then the journey we took would have
been well worth the taking, if only to see the rare
old churches, to say nothing of the grand old manor
houses, stately half-timbered homes, ruined castles,
picturesque old coaching inns, the ancient country
towns full of irregular rows of gabled buildings, so
delightfully unlike the uniform streets of commercial
cities, and other tokens of man's past presence and
handiwork.

The next place that we came to was Herongate, a primitive village like most others in these parts

ANCIENT CUSTOMS.
CUSTOM

23

primitive, but fairly claiming to be picturesque as well, with its spreading green and small sheet of water, beside which stands the rural hostel. An artist might find more than one picture at this spot. We noticed here, what we have now and again, though not very frequently, observed in various other parts of the country, the name of the village plainly painted on the Post Office. This information, being no news for the inhabitants, must of course be for the benefit of travellers by road, and as these now are few and far between, we presume that the name of the place being thus shown is a relic of the past coaching-days not yet (in these parts, where changes come slowly and ancient customs linger still) improved away.

If Herongate is picturesque in itself, it is blest with two of the ugliest places of worship, I think, that we have ever come upon. I make this statement after due deliberation, for in course of our many drives through different portions of England (covering altogether some thousands of miles) we have certainly come across not a few unique specimens of ungainly structures; but these, I verily believe, excel them all for perfected ugliness, for it almost seems as if there could be a perfection of ugliness as well as a perfection of beauty.

The first of the two edifices in question was a small square brick structure, the design of which was surely taken from a box, with holes cut in for windows and a top just to keep the rain out-simplicity itself, but without any added charm of picturesqueness. We learnt from a notice-board that this was the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Peculiar People's Chapel, and a very peculiar people we thought they must be, to make no attempt (even if unsuccessful) in any way to beautify or adorn the paltry and painfully plain edifice that manifestly they deem good enough for the God they worship. Its plainness would almost suffice to have disgusted a Puritan, had it been erected in his day. Yet in saying all this, I must not forget that even in wealthy and luxurious London but too frequently it is merely 'the outside of the platter' that is beautified, for is it not a fact that very many of the sacred edifices that have been erected there of late years have those portions of them that do not face the street, and are therefore not seen by the multitude, as plainly and cheaply built as possible? Outside show, a pitiful veneer on a house devoted to the worship of the all-seeing God :—

The front he makes of stone, as fine as any abbey,

And then to cheat his Lord, he makes the back part shabby. The other edifice was the church of Herongate, finely situated on rising ground, a short distance from the village, and, though the assertion may appear an anomaly, this actually had a kind of fascination for us on account of its very brazen ugliness. The massive tower of brick is in no style of architecture whatever, as far as I am aware. From an inscription upon it we learnt that it was built in the year of grace, if not of taste, MDCCXXXIV. This precious structure, as far as our experience went, was 'the exception that proves the rule' as to the antiquarian and archæological interest of the country churches of this portion of England. But what could

FREAKS IN BUILDING.

25

one expect of an eighteenth-century church? As seen from a short way off, we really thought that this pile of bricks was the engine-house belonging to some waterworks, and ugly even for that!

Who was the architect of this strange erection, I wonder, and what manner of man was he? It struck us forcibly that he had striven in this tower to be original, anxious above all things to show his own cleverness, disregardful of the time-tried work of others, possibly it may be that in his pride he conceived the idea of inventing a new style of architecture altogether. A man who would design a church thus must surely be very vain or very stupid, or both.

People who build should bear in mind how great is their responsibility, for even one such eyesore in bricks and mortar as this, visible for miles around, spoils the landscape to a greater or less extent. It asserts itself and attracts the eye whether it will or no; there is no escape from it. I write feelingly in the matter, for I know more than one pretty peep of country whose sylvan loveliness, so charming and restful to the town-tired eye, has to me been for ever destroyed by the unsightly structures raised therein; freaks in bricks and mortar these, caprices in building to laugh at, were it not a matter to grieve about, this ruthless spoiling of scenery. How sadly these prosaic structures contrast with the poems in buildings that our ancestors loved to raise, in a benighted age, when men had their houses fashioned to suit their individual tastes, not as now run up by contract in whole streets, rows, and terraces, as like

« AnkstesnisTęsti »