Puslapio vaizdai


(now built up) is enriched with fine carving, deeply cut, and as sharp to-day as though it had only just been chiselled. It is weather-stained truly, but that is all, and proves how careful the builders of old were as to the stone they used. This tower was raised, the rector (who has studied to good purpose the past history of his fine church) being still our authority, in the year 1370, so that it has seen five long centuries pass over it, and seems for all its age as strong and perfect as when first erected. Those men of the past knew how to build. The spandrels on either side of the doorway contain the arms of the then Earl of Suffolk, founder of the church. The left-hand spandrel shows the wild man of the woods,' a hairy savage with club in hand, the other spandrel has a dragon carved upon it. We were about to bid our entertainer good day and to thank him for the great kindness that he had shown us, strangers that we were; but he would have us go into his house, saying that he had a great curiosity to show us there, and we, nothing loth, followed him. The curiosity proved to be a very old case of thick leather, black now with age; this was literally covered and adorned with various coats of arms in relief; on the top was a crest representing a griffin, finely executed. The case was intended to hold the chalice. Were it possible it would have been interesting to trace its history, but in this our host could not help us. As we were leaving the rector said, 'You should on no account miss paying a visit to Sall church; it is only a few miles away, and is to antiquaries the most interesting church in Norfolk.'



We thought that it could hardly be more so than that of Cawston, but determined not to disregard his advice, so getting our map out we steered our course in the direction of that place.

At a point where two roads diverged we pulled up, not being certain which of these to take; our map showed only one, and there was of course no friendly sign-post at hand to help us. Presently a shepherd came along the road; of him we inquired the way to Sall. Sall, Sall,' he repeated to himself; then aloud to us, 'I never heard on such a place in these parts, and I've lived hereabouts all my life.' This was puzzling; the village was marked plainly enough on our maps, only the road thither was not as clear as we could wish, and yet this shepherd was a native, and knew it not, although it could not be more than a few miles away now. As we were meditating to ourselves what we should do, we chanced to glance round and in the near distance noticed the tower of a fine church peeping out of some trees. That surely, we thought, must be the church we are seeking, so we asked the name of the place. That there be Saul,' was the reply. Then it suddenly occurred to us that places are not always pronounced as they are spelt, and that Sall was called Saul. So thanking the shepherd for his information, we drove on along the road that he pointed out to us as leading to Saul.' A few miles of pleasant and wooded country brought us to the primitive village, and as we drove by the church in search of the clerk, we saw what a grand pile it was, though looking sadly out of repair. Here again



was another truly magnificent church, with only a few poor cottages gathered around. We were directed to where the clerk lived, but he happened to be away at work in the fields. However, his wife was at home and volunteered to go with us to the church. On our way thither we learnt from her that her husband was a farm labourer as well as the parish clerk, and earned the magnificent sum of seven shillings a week. You see, sir, he's a old man and cannot do much work, but it's hard getting a livin' these times; he only gets 1s. 3d. a week for bein' clerk, and that's not much. I does a little washing and charing, but this is a poor place now. The farmers have no money; no one about has.' We glanced at her; her face had a sad, anxious, desponding look, but she was very tidily dressed, the cottage in which she lived was clean, and there were a few flowers in the tiny garden. Then she told us that they had to pay 4/. 7s. a year for their little cottage, and 'it be hard work to live and find the money. If now we only had a bit of a garden that we could grow a few vegetables in, it would be a great help.' It does seem strange, this almost universal reluctance of landlords to let a small plot of ground with their cottages, especially when farms go a-begging, and considering that the rent willingly given for a little bit of garden land is at least fourfold as much as it is worth any other way. way. Such a trifling concession would benefit the cotter, would make him contented, and it seems to me could hurt nobody. A bit of garden that he could cultivate at odd times would prove a real blessing to many a

[ocr errors]



poor cotter, besides possibly keeping him away from the public-house; for, having nothing to do after work, and his home being not usually over-attractive, he generally gravitates thither.

Reaching the grand old church, we entered it by a finely carved stone porch; there were rows of shields containing various coats of arms above the doorway, and upon the spandrels were representations of winged angels swinging censers, their bodies feathered all over; and very materialistic spirits they looked, but we supposed that such was the idea of an angel that presented itself to the ancient carver, and so he realised his imagining. It is worthy of note how much better the medieval craftsman rendered demons than saints; he was full of fanciful conceits and loved to express them. By a curious mingling of man and animal he produced wonderful grinning, hideous devils; here his cunning hand had full liberty, and he delighted in it, but to make an angel he knew no better than to give a woman wings and a body covered with feathers. He could lower man, but he could not raise him.

Entering the church, the first thing that struck us was the exceedingly desolate and neglected look of the interior; all the sadder this, for its decaying glories told what a splendid edifice it must have been when in the full beauty of its prime. The truly superb carved, gilded, and painted roof (very similar to that of Cawston) seemed to us to be in a state of complete decay, and fast going the way of all uncaredfor things; the colours were faded and portions of the carvings gone. There were remains of frescoes


on the walls. These must have been very fine in their day, but fading now fast away; damp and age had wrought sad havoc with them. The vast interior seemed strangely empty; the few worm-eaten seats gathered in the centre of the church, and filling only a small portion of it, made the impression of desolation complete; the rest of the structure was vacant, uneven flooring. Birds were flying about within the sacred structure. They come through holes in the windows,' the woman said; 'they do dirty the place terribly.' There were several very ancient and interesting brasses on the floor, but these were so damaged and dirtied that we could not make much of them. It was a melancholy sight, that once grand church going to decay thus. Of the brasses, we noticed one with the date MCCCXL; another (with the figure gone) of 1484. But the best preserved and most curious of these was a small one, representing a man half nude, and almost a skeleton, the lower portion of his body being wrapped in a shroud. There was a long inscription beneath, in quaint lettering. We should have much liked to gather its purport, but all that we could make out of this was the first and last line, and even the name we could not decipher beyond the initial character, which we judged to be B. The two lines we did trace out are as follows:

Here lieth Iohn B . . . . under this marbel ston
Whose sole our Lorde him have mercy upon.

The date of this, if we read it aright, is 1453.
Sall church must be of exceeding interest to the

« AnkstesnisTęsti »