Puslapio vaizdai
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A CONFUSION OF NAMES.

371

are aware of the existence of this ancient church? Yet it is well within twenty-five miles of London, readily reached by road or rail. A spare afternoon, or, better still, a whole day, might be very pleasantly and profitably spent by taking a pilgrimage to this unique and picturesque church, over eight eventful centuries old. Though repaired from time to time, there is every reason to believe that this is the very original structure erected as a temporary resting-place, or shrine, for the body of St. Edmund, King of the East Angles, which body was deposited here on its translation from London to Bury St. Edmunds, in the year 1013, if antiquaries are correct in their date. Once you

have the footpath pointed out to you at Ongar, you cannot go astray ; this leads

you

direct across pleasant meadows to Greenstead. I may, perhaps, here just mention that there is another Greenstead near Colchester. Not being aware, at the time, of the fact, when telling a friend of this church we merely said that we had come upon it in Essex, and he, anxious to see it after hearing our description, took a long journey to the wrong place. The names of places being thus exactly the same often causes annoying mistakes, especially when they are situated in the same county. There is a pretty little village at the foot of the South Downs in Sussex called Berwick, and I am told that letters and parcels intended for that village often go astray to the more famous Berwick on the Tweed ; in the same way, sometimes, letters and telegrams addressed to the Post Office at Charing (a little country town in Kent), are delivered at the Post

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Office at Charing Cross, in the big city on the banks of the Thames, and once I heard of a letter addressed to Boston, and intended for that town in Lincolnshire, getting amongst the American mails and going all the long journey over the Atlantic to Boston in the United States; eventually, however, this letter found its way back to its rightful destination in England.

However, to return to ourselves. A quarter of an hour's stroll across the fields in question brought us in sight of Greenstead church, its wooden spire peeping out of surrounding foliage just as the footpath came to an end. Wandering into the churchyard, we found, as we feared, that the door was locked, so we glanced around to see if there were anyone about who could direct us to where the clerk lived, but there was not a soul in sight-somehow there never is in the country when you want to ask your way anywhere. It would be a great convenience for tourists if the name of the clerk and his residence were marked in the church porch. We observed that this was done in one place, and the fact saved us considerable trouble. Of all forms of hunting, clerk-hunting is the least enjoyable. Like the proverbial policeman, the clerk is seldom to be found when wanted, and, strangely enough, our experience has been that the more interesting the church the more difficult is it to obtain the keys.

There was nothing to be done but to wander along the lane, trusting to luck that we were going in the right direction. As good fortune had it, we did after a while meet a countryman tramping along, when the following edifying conversation took place :

AN EDIFYING CONVERSATION.

373

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'Do you know where the clerk of the church lives?

* Ess, I do; leastways I ought to, having lived about these parts man and boy . . . and so on, for ever so long, which was tedious, and not to the point.

Would you kindly show us the way to the house in which he lives ?'

• You're going straight away from it; you see you oughter have gone the other way.'

This was provoking, and not much more satisfactory. It is almost as difficult to get a direct answer to a simple question from a countryman as it is from a lawyer.

* Then could you kindly tell us which way we should go to get to the clerk's house from here?'

Well, 'taint exactly easy to tell ; you've got to go down one road and up another, and maybe you wouldn't know the cottage when you saw it. It's out of my way, you see, but I'll tell you what I'll do : I doan't mind agoing a bit out of my road to show you for a sixpence. This was business-like and a good deal to the point, and we concluded, to save time, that we would pay the 'fee.' Our guide included more for the 'fee' than we bargained for ; as he trudged slowly along he would relate to us a longwinded and intensely uninteresting history all about himself and his fayther who lived in these parts afore I, and brought up a family of eight children, and eddicated 'em all, and he were only a farm hand.' We were not sorry when we came to the clerk's cottage and got rid of our guide, who suggested

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that, if we would give him a threepence 'extry,' he would drink our very good healths. I am sorry to say that we were weak enough to give the 'extry' threepence.

Knocking at the cottage door, to our dismay we learnt that the clerk had just gone out.

• I'm not quite sure where he is gone to,' said his good wife-at least we presumed the woman to be such—but I think it most likely that you'll find him at the church. He has not been gone five minutes.' This was provoking, but we had become accustomed to this sort of thing; there was manifestly nothing for it but to tramp back to the church, which we did accordingly.

Fortunately, we eventually ran the clerk to ground in the churchyard, and a very civil, intelligent clerk he proved to be. He even expressed his regret at the trouble we had had in finding him ; doubtless he also had his fee in view and had learnt that as a rule civility adds thereto. To our remarks as to the general difficulty we experienced when travelling across country in finding the clerks of the various churches we wished to inspect, he pertinently replied that it was not always possible for him to be at home, or to be aware when strangers might be coming to see the church. So much for the clerk's point of view, and after all there is a good deal in it. A clerk, as he said, might wait at home a whole day long and nobody come for him ; and, besides, he had other duties to perform than acting as showman to a church. Truly, but if country rectors could only see their way to allowing their churches to be left open during week

TIPS TO CLERKS.

375

exter

days, much trouble and time would be saved to
tourists desiring to see them ; but, again, this arrange-
ment would hardly suit the clerk's views, who would
certainly lose considerably in fees thereby, all of
which goes to prove how impossible it is in this
imperfect world to arrange matters to please every-
body.

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