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therefore lost nearly all of its ancient wildness and rough beauty ; wayward Nature has been tamed, hedged in, made more profitable but less pleasing in a picturesque sense.
In the days before railways this sparselyinhabited district was the favourite ground of numerous highwaymen, Dick Turpin, of schoolboy fame, amongst the number. It is recorded of this renowned knight of the road that upon one occasion he overtook a gentleman travelling alone along one of the sequestered highways here. Dick Turpin bade the traveller good-day and asked permission to join him for company and as a better protection against robbers. (Oh, Mr. Turpin !) To this apparently innocent request the stranger readily consented, for he confessed that he too had some fear as to the safety of travelling all alone. It would seem that upon this occasion, contrary to his general habit, Turpin's object was not so much robbery as to learn if by chance the stranger were able to inform him whether the reports spread about were true, that a troop of dragoons had been ordered to scour the country after him. Whether Master Turpin gained the desired information or not I cannot say, but tradition has it that the two strangers as they rode along became quite confidential to each other; Turpin indeed by his artless manner had so won over his companion that he (the said companion) confided to Dick the precautions that he had taken against being robbed on the way. • You see,' said he innocently, I have had the heels of my boots hollowed out and carry my gold coin tightly packed
there. It is perfectly safe ; no one would ever dream of looking in such an unlikely place for it. Capital idea-eh!' Excellent,' replied Turpin, who immediately proceeded to improve the occasion, and, to the utter astonishment and chagrin of his fellow traveller, quietly drew forth his pistol and presented it with a bow and a demand that the money so carefully hidden in the heels of the boots should be handed over to him. The highwayman is all very well in a romance, but in reality he was a most undesirable being; his life was in his hands; if he was caught there was the gibbet for him, and if a traveller resisted being robbed the inducement to settle him at once was great, for the highwayman was no worse off. This is the reverse of the medal of the good old times,' when it is on record that a shipwrecked traveller, after landing in safety on an unknown shore, upon discovering a gibbet with a man hanging in chains therefrom, rejoiced at the sight, for then he knew that he had been cast away in a civilised country!
The country opened out as we proceeded, and at last we caught a sight of the ancient tower of Layer Marney Hall. Our map failed us here, but after many windings and twistings, and getting more than once lost in the narrow lanes, we did manage to reach the old mansion. The first near glance at this delighted us, for it was manifest that we had come upon a magnificent and little known specimen of architecture of the bygone days when men built for themselves grand habitations,—the lordly few of the land, that is.
A GRAND GATEWAY.
Layer Marney Hall-ór tower gateway, I should more correctly say, for it would appear that the Hall in its entirety was never completed—is an excellent and most noteworthy example, as far as it goes, of an English nobleman's mansion of the period. It was built about the year 1506, when the feudal stronghold and the moated manor house were gradually giving way to the more peaceful and desirable domestic habitation, when security was less needed and comfort therefore could be better considered ; a building capable of being defended upon an emergency, sufficiently strong to resist a sudden attack, but for all more of a stately home than a fortified place.
The general idea of this grand sixteenth-century gateway, of about eighty feet in height, with its flanking towers of eight stories, will be better realised from the illustration of it that I have given than from pages of printed description. It is interesting to note that, though the general outlines of a feudal fortified gateway and approach are retained, loopholes have given place to small windows, and in the wall space between the flanking towers are even large windows looking outwards ; in the castle proper these always looked inwards towards the courtyard, the external walls were only pierced by narrow slits for the defending archers. Here we find the builder gradually freeing himself from past forms, and accommodating himself to the growing needs of the times; Layer Marney tower is a chapter of our history in bricks and mortar, as plain to him who can read it as any printed page.