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silhouetted against the sky. It will be remembered (I say this, though I was not aware of the fact till an antiquarian friend mentioned it to me) that the white hart, with a golden collar and chain, once a very favourite and still a frequent inn sign, was the badge of Richard II., which badge was worn by all his courtiers and adherents. It was adopted from his mother, whose cognizance was a white hind.
Besides our comfortable unpretentious hostel, in the main street of Witham is another picturesque, five-gabled, two-storied old inn, built ever so many years ago—the very roadway, we noticed, has been raised since it was first erected one of those oldtime inns that, alas! are, everywhere throughout the land, being gradually improved away to make room for the more ambitious and less comfortable modern hotel.
I got my sketch-book out and made a careful drawing of this bit of ancient architecture, taking
stand on the opposite side of the way (close to a butcher's shop, if I remember aright). As a fair sample of the kindness and consideration that I met with everywhere and from all those whom I came across on the journey, I may mention that the butcher, seeing me standing there, courteously brought out a chair and offered it to me.
It was a thoughtful act of civility on his part, that proved him, though a butcher, to be as well a gentleman ; moreover he did not peer over my shoulder to see what I was doing, and make remarks as to my sketching, as people often do, nor deem such action rude. Whilst I was at work another inhabitant
AN OLD TUDOR MANSION.
of the place, a chemist, came up, who said that he dabbled a little in photography and that if I would care for it he would be most pleased to give me a photograph of the place that he had taken. I thanked him for his kindness and promised to call at his shop for the picture; this was another thoughtful little attention from a perfect stranger.
On calling the next morning for the photograph we had a long chat with the chemist, who learning that we were on a driving tour told us of the very interesting old Tudor embattled mansion of Faulkbourne Hall, two miles off, which he had photographed. We determined at once to profit by the unexpected information, and see the ancient hall, the more especially as he said that it was supposed to be the finest specimen of a Tudor brick inhabited house in the country. We did not rely wholly upon his descriptions, for the photographs of the place that he showed us plainly proved what a picturesque and grand specimen of building it was.
I may, perhaps, here remark that much that was best worth seeing on our outing was brought to our notice in some such wholly unexpected manner. Indeed, this visit to the chemist at Witham suggested to us the idea that there would be nothing lost upon arriving at a country town by our going at once to the local photographer, ostensibly with the purpose of purchasing views, but in reality to learn if there was anything of interest near at hand of which we were unaware. Generally we found if there were any noteworthy ruins, curious old house, remarkable scenery, or anything out of the common way, it was sure to be photographed and the photograph for sale ; and as the lens is without prejudice, and has not the power of inventing pretty scenery, picturesque places, or romantic ruins, we were able to judge fairly well by the likenesses of the various spots whether they would repay a visit or not.
It is not always wise to place implicit faith in the mere verbal descriptions of places given by country people. Their ideas of the importance or interest of local sights vary considerably; their enthusiasm often lends wings to their imagination, and they consequently lead one to expect far too much. But a photograph has no such powers of poetic romancing; it is essentially truthful. Misled once by a glowingly worded description of an old country house, 'the most curious place as ever I comed across, sir. They do tell as how it were built five hundred
and how it be haunted_-'and so on for nearly half an hour ; enticed by the long-winded recital, I innocently went out of my way some seven long hilly miles over a detestable road to find a halfruined farmhouse, neither curious nor yet picturesque. Truly the building was ancient enough, but it was old without being beautiful, and when I inquired of the unsophisticated rustic owner if there were a ghost there, he replied that ‘he had never been asked for such an article before; they didn't keep any and'—hesitatingly-grow any, but perhaps I might get one at th' squire's—he got most everything. It is only fair to state that this simple son of the soil was a Welshman, and might possibly have failed to perfectly understand my unadulterated
A CURIOUS CUSTOM.
English, or he might have thought I was trying to make fun of him and that he would pay me back in my own coin with interest added.
Respecting Witham, we learnt of a curious custom that still prevails there. According to the • Essex Directory,' which useful work we found in the sitting-room of our inn, “ All property within this manor is subject to a fine of one year's value upon the death of the owner or a transfer of the property, to be paid by the successor or purchaser. If, however, the person taking the property were born within the manor, or be already a tenant of it, no such fine is payable. This custom is peculiar, and there are but few instances in which it prevails.'
An Ancient Hall—Fine Cedars-A terra incognita--Country Lanes
and By-ways—A quaint little Church and its History—Puzzling Inscriptions—Curious Names_Tiptree Heath—A Tradition of Dick Turpin-Layer Marney Tower-A Grand Building—A Sixteenth-century Mansion-Friends on the Road--A Notable Structure-A Fine Prospect of River, Land, and Sea.
A very pleasant walk through a picturesque pastoral country of green meadows, sparkling streams, and leafy woods, that made the two miles seem like one, took us to Faulkbourne Hall. We found the old mansion (which we reached by a shady avenue through a well-timbered park) to be all that our informant said it was and more. This romantic home of the olden days, whose ivy-covered, timestained walls are eloquent of the past, is a picture rather than a place, with its many towers, turrets, gables, mullioned windows, and clustering stacks of chimneys. What a beautiful poem is to commonplace prose, so is Faulkbourne to an ordinary building. It is a house to be seen, not described ; for its ancient charm, its old-world picturesqueness, and, above all, the sense of a past presence that seems to brood incumbent over its aged walls, are not to be given in prosaic print. The curious tower gateway here is said to have been erected by the Earl of Gloucester in the reign of King Stephen (1135),