Puslapio vaizdai

actual existence. On a former journey I came upon and was shown asome what similar old house in like manner made fictionally historic, a veritable romance in bricks and mortar. The old servant who did duty as a guide I found fully believed in the reality of the story and in the personality of the imaginary characters, nor would any words of mine unconvince him. Such is the magic power of the pen, turning fiction into fact and causing the creations of the brain to move, walk, and have their being, causing even, as in the case of Sir Walter Scott, remote spots to be visited by crowds of tourists to behold the scenes where imaginary heroes acted their part, heroes as real to many as those who actually lived and fought and died! Why, I have even had pointed out to me the very spot where the huntsman's horse fell, as described in the Lady of the Lake'!

[ocr errors]

Continuing on our way we passed through a pleasantly undulating country with peeps ever and again of distant blue hills; a country it was that reminded us much of Berkshire. Certainly had we been suddenly set down thereabouts without being told what part of England it was, we should never have guessed that we were in a portion of Essex.

Margaretting was the next village we came to, and again we were tempted to make a short stop to sketch the effective bit of iron-work that supports the sign-board of the Bull Inn. The church here is well worth a visit; it contains an early and very fine 'Jesse' window, and has two picturesque old wooden open porches, but the most interesting feature of the



ancient structure is its remarkable tower. This is constructed entirely of massive beams of oak, black and brown with age. The great timbers are curiously and ingeniously arranged to ensure strength and mutual support. Near to the south door is a unique brass; the figures are unfortunately mutilated and the inscription gone. It represents a knight in armour, with his wife, sons, and daughters, as was the fashion of memorials of the time, but what is especially remarkable about this brass is that the faces of the effigies are given in profile. I know of no other instance in which a profile is shown on a brass instead of the full face, and I believe that there is no other record of such a departure from the general custom that then obtained.

This old turnpike and coaching road along which we were travelling is studded with villages and thoroughfare towns; every few miles we came upon a smaller or larger collection of houses, and so, shortly after leaving Margaretting we found ourselves at Widford. The inn signs of Essex are frequently of interest, and here once more our attention was arrested by the curious old sign-board of the village public-house. This has on one side of it a pictorial representation of bluff King Hal, on the other a woman without a head, intended we were informed for the unfortunate Queen Anne Boleyn. It would be interesting to learn the origin and true history of this quaint sign.


We come across a Character-Origin of the Names of Places-Guidebooks at fault-The 'Good Woman'-An old half-timbered Hostelrie-Roadside England-The Love of the Country-BorehamA Fine Altar-tomb-The Ancient Craftsman and the Modern Workman-An Old English Farmstead-The Farm of the Future -Cottage Gardens-Witham-At the Sign of the White HartThe Kindness of Country People-How to discover Objects of Interest-A Fruitless Expedition-'Ghosts not kept here.'

Ar Chelmsford, the next town on our road, we elected to stay the night at the sign of the Saracen's Head. In the coffee-room of the inn there we made friends with another traveller, who from his conversation was evidently an antiquary, and truly he looked his part, dressed as he was like a gentleman of the old school, fifty years at least behind time in regard to the fashion of his clothes; evidently purposely so, for the quality was good although the cut seemed quaint to our unfamiliar eyes. Manifestly we had come upon an original character, no mere stage make-believe, and we rejoiced in the fact, for in these days of slavish uniformity, a genuine character is a great relief to the wearisome monotony of multitudes.

We always make it a point when on a journey, as far as may lie in our power, to make friends with those people chance may throw in our path.




an interesting conversation and much odd out-ofthe-way information as to local legends, family histories, folk-lore, curious customs, and I know not what else besides, have we picked up by so doing. We found that even a plough-boy could tell us something that we did not know before, as to the habits of birds, the names of the less common wild flowers and plants, and other matters pertaining to the life of the hedges and fields, which were as familiar to him as they were fresh to us: the country lad is not of those who

Love not the flower they pluck and know it not,
And all their botany is but Latin names.

But I am digressing; to return to our antiquarian friend, we had a long and entertaining chat with him that evening about many things. During the course of the conversation he informed us that the road we had travelled from Brentwood was not only the old coaching highway to Colchester, but that it followed also the exact line of the ancient Roman street thither. Then we had a long discussion as to the origin of the names of the places we had passed through. It is always interesting to trace back the derivation of the names of country towns and villages, for frequently they have a real reason for their appellation, even sometimes helping to explain history or to hand down the exact spot where certain events took place, as for instance Slaughter Bridge in Cornwall where King Arthur fell mortally wounded. Thus the sleepy little town of Ingatestone, where we rested as we came along, is derived from Ing, a meadow, at-ye-stone; a Roman

mile stone having stood in a field at this spot. In like manner Margaretting, is from Margaret and Ing, that is St. Margaret's meadow, the ancient church there being dedicated to that saint. Widford, at which spot the road crosses the river Wid, manifestly explains itself, at least so I should have imagined; but for all that, one of the precious guidebooks I took with me deliberately states that it comes from the Wide ford over the river Can,' not by any means a single or the worst instance of inaccuracy I have discovered in these curious compilations, only unfortunately their mistakes as to facts are not always so readily to be discovered, for in this case we did not even come upon the Can at Widford. Some of the errors of omission and commission of the guide-book writers are both astonishing and amusing, as we shall see hereafter.

Though I believe there can be but little doubt that we were right as to the derivation of Widford, it is not wise to jump too readily at a conclusion in such matters, even when such seems self-evident. For upon a former journey, seeing an old map with the very ancient and little town of Alfriston in Sussex spelt thereon Aldfriston, and knowing that there was a short way off a younger though still very ancient village of Friston, we at once inferred. that Alfriston was name evolved from AldFriston, or Old Friston, the prefix we presumed being added to distinguish the place from the other Friston, and we should certainly have deemed our conclusion to be correct, had we not afterwards by mere chance, upon looking over some musty works

« AnkstesnisTęsti »