In the Perpendicular work of the western towers everything is in graceful proportion, and nothing from the ground to the top of the turrets, jars with the wonderful dignity of their perfect lines.
A few years before the Norman Conquest a central tower and a presbytery were added to the existing building by Archbishop Cynesige. The 'Frenchman's' influence was probably sufficiently felt at that time to give this work the stamp of Norman ideas, and would have shown a marked advance on the Romanesque style of the Saxon age, in which the other portions of the buildings were put up. After that time we are in the dark as to what happened until the year 1188, when a disaster took place of which there is a record:
'In the year from the incarnation of Our Lord 1188, this church was burnt, in the month of September, the night after the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle, and in the year 1197, the sixth of the ides of March, there was an inquisition made for the relics of the blessed John in this place, and these bones were found in the east part of his sepulchre, and reposited; and dust mixed with mortar was found likewise, and re-interred.'
This is a translation of the Latin inscription on a leaden plate discovered in 1664, when a square stone vault in the church was opened and found to be the grave of the canonized John of Beverley. The picture history gives us of this remarkable man, although to a great extent hazy with superstitious legend, yet shows him to have been one of the greatest and noblest of the ecclesiastics who controlled the Early Church in England. He founded the monastery at Beverley about the year 700, on what appears to have been an isolated spot surrounded by forest and swamp, and after holding the See of York for some twelve years, he retired here for the rest of his life. When he died, in 721, his memory became more and more sacred, and his powers of intercession were constantly invoked. The splendid shrine provided for his relics in 1037 was encrusted with jewels and shone with the precious metals employed. Like the tomb of William the Conqueror at Caen, it disappeared long ago. After the collapse of the central tower to its very foundations came the vast Early English reconstruction of everything except the nave, which was possibly of pre-Conquest date, and survived until the present Decorated successor took its place. Much discussion has centred round certain semicircular arches at the back of the triforium, whose ornament is unmistakably Norman, suggesting that the early nave was merely remodelled in the later period. The last great addition to the structure was the beautiful Perpendicular north porch and the west end—the glory of Beverley. The interior of the transepts and chancel is extremely interesting, but entirely lacking in that perfection of form characterizing York.
A magnificent range of stalls crowned with elaborate tabernacle work of the sixteenth century adorns the choir, and under each of the sixty-eight seats are carved misereres, making a larger collection than any other in the country. The subjects range from a horrible representation of the devil with a second face in the middle of his body to humorous pictures of a cat playing a fiddle, and a scold on her way to the ducking-stool in a wheel-barrow, gripping with one hand the ear of the man who is wheeling her.
In the north-east corner of the choir, built across the opening to the lesser transept on that side, is the tomb of Lady Eleanor FitzAllen, wife of Henry, first Lord Percy of Alnwick. It is considered to be, without a rival, the most beautiful tomb in this country. The canopy is composed of sumptuously carved stone, and while it is literally encrusted with ornament, it is designed in such a masterly fashion that the general effect, whether seen at a distance or close at hand, is always magnificent. The broad lines of the canopy consist of a steep gable with an ogee arch within, cusped so as to form a base at its apex for an elaborate piece of statuary. This is repeated on both sides of the monument. On the side towards the altar, the large bearded figure represents the Deity, with angels standing on each side of the throne, holding across His knees a sheet. From this rises a small undraped figure representing Lady Eleanor, whose uplifted hands are held in one of those of her Maker, who is shown in the act of benediction with two fingers on her head.
In the north aisle of the chancel there is a very unusual double staircase. It is recessed in the wall, and the arcading that runs along the aisle beneath the windows is inclined upwards and down again at a slight angle, similar to the rise of the steps which are behind the marble columns. This was the old way to the chapter-house, destroyed at the Dissolution, and is an extremely fine example of an Early English stairway. Near the Percy chapel stands the ancient stone chair of sanctuary, or frith-stool. It has been broken and repaired with iron clamps, and the inscription upon it, recorded by Spelman, has gone. The privileges of sanctuary were limited by Henry VIII, and abolished in the reign of James I; but before the Dissolution malefactors of all sorts and conditions, from esquires and gentlewomen down to chapmen and minstrels, frequently came in undignified haste to claim the security of St. John of Beverley. Here is a case quoted from the register by Mr. Charles Hiatt in his admirable account of the Minster:
'John Spret, Gentilman, memorandum that John Spret, of Barton upon Umber, in the counte of Lyncoln, gentilman, com to Beverlay, the first day of October the vii yer of the reen of Keing Herry vii and asked the lybertes of Saint John of Beverlay, for the dethe of John Welton, husbondman, of the same town, and knawleg [acknowledge] hymselff to be at the kyllyng of the saym John with a dagarth, the xv day of August.'
On entering the city we passed St. Mary's, a beautiful Perpendicular church which is not eclipsed even by the major attractions of the Minster. At the west end there is a splendid Perpendicular window flanked by octagonal buttresses of a slightly earlier date, which are run up to a considerable height above the roof of the nave, the upper portions being made light and graceful, with an opening on each face, and a pierced parapet. The tower rises above the crossing, and is crowned by sixteen pinnacles.
In its general appearance the large south porch is Perpendicular, like the greater part of the church, but the inner portion of its arch is Norman, and the outer is Early English. One of the pillars of the nave is ornamented just below the capital with five quaint little minstrels carved in stone. Each is supported by a bold bracket, and each is painted. The musical instruments are all much battered, but it can be seen that the centre figure, who is dressed as an alderman, had a harp, and the others a pipe, a lute, a drum, and a violin. From Saxon times there had existed in Beverley a guild of minstrels, a prosperous fraternity bound by regulations, which Poulson gives at length in his monumental work on Beverley. The minstrels played at aldermen's feasts, at weddings, on market-days, and on all occasions when there was excuse for music.
ALONG THE HUMBER
'Away with me in post to Ravenspurgh; But if you faint, as fearing to do so, Stay and be secret, and myself will go.' Richard II, Act II, Scene 1.
The atrophied corner of Yorkshire that embraces the lowest reaches of the Humber is terminated by a mere raised causeway leading to the wider patch of ground dominated by Spurn Head lighthouse. This long ridge of sand and shingle is all that remains of a very considerable and populous area possessing towns and villages as recently as the middle of the fourteenth century.
Far back in the Middle Ages the Humber was a busy waterway for shipping, where merchant vessels were constantly coming and going, bearing away the wool of Holderness and bringing in foreign goods, which the Humber towns were eager to buy. This traffic soon demonstrated the need of some light on the point of land where the estuary joined the sea, and in 1428 Henry VI granted a toll on all vessels entering the Humber in aid of the first lighthouse put up about that time by a benevolent hermit.
No doubt the site of this early structure has long ago been submerged. The same fate came upon the two lights erected on Kilnsea Common by Justinian Angell, a London merchant, who received a patent from Charles II to 'continue, renew, and maintain' two lights at Spurn Point.
In 1766 the famous John Smeaton was called upon to put up two lighthouses, one 90 feet and the other 50 feet high. There was no hurry in completing the work, for the foundations of the high light were not completed until six years later. The sea repeatedly destroyed the low light, owing to the waves reaching it at high tide. Poulson mentions the loss of three structures between 1776 and 1816. The fourth was taken down after a brief life of fourteen years, the sea having laid the foundations bare. As late as the beginning of last century the illumination was produced by 'a naked coal fire, unprotected from the wind,' and its power was consequently most uncertain.
Smeaton's high tower is now only represented by its foundations and the circular wall surrounding them, which acts as a convenient shelter from wind and sand for the low houses of the men who are stationed there for the lifeboat and other purposes.
The present lighthouse is 30 feet higher than Smeaton's, and is fitted with the modern system of dioptric refractors, giving a light of 519,000 candle-power, which is greater than any other on the east coast of England. The need for a second structure has been obviated by placing the low lights half-way down the existing tower. Every twenty seconds the upper light flashes for one and a half seconds, being seen in clear weather at a distance of seventeen nautical miles.
In the Middle Ages great fortunes were made on the shores on the Humber. Sir William de la Pole was a merchant of remarkable enterprise, and the most notable of those who traded at Ravenserodd. It was probably owing to his great wealth that his son was made a knight-banneret, and his grandson became Earl of Suffolk. Another of the De la Poles was the first Mayor of Hull, and seems to have been no less opulent than his brother, who lent large sums of money to Edward III, and was in consequence appointed Chief Baron of the Exchequer and also presented with the Lordship of Holderness.
The story of Ravenser, and the later town of Ravenserodd, is told in a number of early records, and from them we can see clearly what happened in this corner of Yorkshire. Owing to a natural confusion from the many different spellings of the two places, the fate of the prosperous port of Ravenserodd has been lost in a haze of misconception. And this might have continued if Mr. J. R. Boyle had not gone exhaustively into the matter, bringing together all the references to the Ravensers which have been discovered.
There seems little doubt that the first place called Ravenser was a Danish settlement just within the Spurn Point, the name being a compound of the raven of the Danish standard, and eyr or ore, meaning a narrow strip of land between two waters. In an early Icelandic saga the sailing of the defeated remnant of Harold Hardrada's army from Ravenser, after the defeat of the Norwegians at Stamford Bridge, is mentioned in the lines:
'The King the swift ships with the flood Set out, with the autumn approaching, And sailed from the port, called Hrafnseyrr (the raven tongue of land).'
From this event of 1066 Ravenser must have remained a hamlet of small consequence, for it is not heard of again for nearly two centuries, and then only in connexion with the new Ravenser which had grown on a spit of land gradually thrown up by the tide within the spoon-shaped ridge of Spurn Head. On this new ground a vessel was wrecked some time in the early part of the thirteenth century, and a certain man—the earliest recorded Peggotty—converted it into a house, and even made it a tavern, where he sold food and drink to mariners. Then three or four houses were built near the adapted hull, and following this a small port was created, its development being fostered by William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarl, the lord of the manor, with such success that, by the year 1274, the place had grown to be of some importance, and a serious trade rival to Grimsby on the Lincolnshire coast. To distinguish the two Ravensers the new place, which was almost on an island, being only connected with the mainland by a bank composed of large yellow boulders and sand, was called Ravenser Odd, and in the Chronicles of Meaux Abbey and other records the name is generally written Ravenserodd. The original place was about a mile away, and no longer on the shore, and it is distinguished from the prosperous port as Ald Ravenser. Owing, however, to its insignificance in comparison to Ravenserodd, the busy port, it is often merely referred to as Ravenser, spelt with many variations.
The extraordinarily rapid rise of Ravenserodd seems to have been due to a remarkable keenness for business on the part of its citizens, amounting, in the opinion of the Grimsby traders, to sharp practice. For, being just within Spurn Head, the men of Ravenserodd would go out to incoming vessels bound for Grimsby, and induce them to sell their cargoes in Ravenserodd by all sorts of specious arguments, misquoting the prices paid in the rival town. If their arguments failed, they would force the ships to enter their harbour and trade with them, whether they liked it or not. All this came out in the hearing of an action brought by the town of Grimsby against Ravenserodd. Although the plaintiffs seem to have made a very good case, the decision of the Court was given in favour of the defendants, as it had not been shown that any of their proceedings had broken the King's peace.
The story of the disaster, which appears to have happened between 1340 and 1350, is told by the monkish compiler of the Chronicles of Meaux. Translated from the original Latin the account is headed:
'Concerning the consumption of the town of Ravensere Odd and concerning the effort towards the diminution of the tax of the church of Esyngton.
'But in those days, the whole town of Ravensere Odd.. was totally annihilated by the floods of the Humber and the inundations of the great sea ... and when that town of Ravensere Odd, in which we had half an acre of land built upon, and also the chapel of that town, pertaining to the said church of Esyngton, were exposed to demolition during the few preceding years, those floods and inundations of the sea, within a year before the destruction of that town, increasing in their accustomed way without limit fifteen fold, announcing the swallowing up of the said town, and sometimes exceeding beyond measure the height of the town, and surrounding it like a wall on every side, threatened the final destruction of that town. And so, with this terrible vision of waters seen on every side, the enclosed persons, with the reliques, crosses, and other ecclesiastical ornaments, which remained secretly in their possession and accompanied by the viaticum of the body of Christ in the hands of the priest, flocking together, mournfully imploring grace, warded off at that time their destruction. And afterwards, daily removing thence with their possession, they left that town totally without defence, to be shortly swallowed up, which, with a short intervening period of time by those merciless tempestuous floods, was irreparably destroyed.'
The traders and inhabitants generally moved to Kingston-upon-Hull and other towns, as the sea forced them to seek safer quarters.
When Henry of Lancaster landed with his retinue in 1399 within Spurn Head, the whole scene was one of complete desolation, and the only incident recorded is his meeting with a hermit named Matthew Danthorp, who was at the time building a chapel.
The very beautiful spire of Patrington church guides us easily along a winding lane from Easington until the whole building shows over the meadows.
We seem to have stumbled upon a cathedral standing all alone in this diminishing land, scarcely more than two miles from the Humber and less than four from the sea. No one quarrels with the title 'The Queen of Holderness,' nor with the far greater claim that Patrington is the most beautiful village church in England. With the exception of the east window, which is Perpendicular, nearly the whole structure was built in the Decorated period; and in its perfect proportion, its wealth of detail and marvellous dignity, it is a joy to the eye within and without. The plan is cruciform, and there are aisles to the transepts as well as the nave, giving a wealth of pillars to the interior. Above the tower rises a tall stone spire, enriched, at a third of its height, with what might be compared to an earl's coronet, the spikes being represented by crocketed pinnacles—the terminals of the supporting pillars. The interior is seen at its loveliest on those afternoons when that rich yellow light Mr. W. Dean Howells so aptly compares with the colour of the daffodil is flooding the nave and aisles, and glowing on the clustered columns.
In the eastern aisles of each arm of the transept there were three chantry chapels, whose piscinae remain. The central chapel in the south transept is a most interesting and beautiful object, having a recess for the altar, with three richly ornamented niches above. In the groined roof above, the central boss is formed into a hollow pendant of considerable interest. On the three sides are carvings representing the Annunciation, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. John the Baptist, and on the under side is a Tudor rose. Sir Henry Dryden, in the Archaeological Journal, states that this pendant was used for a lamp to light the altar below, but he points out, at the same time, that the sacrist would have required a ladder to reach it. An alternative suggestion made by others is that this niche contained a relic where it would have been safe even if visible.
Patrington village is of fair size, with a wide street; and although lacking any individual houses calling for comment, it is a pleasant place, with the prevailing warm reds of roofs and walls to be found in all the Holderness towns.
On our way to Hedon, where the 'King of Holderness' awaits us, we pass Winestead Church, where Andrew Marvell was baptized in 1621, and where we may see the memorials of a fine old family—the Hildyards of Winestead, who came there in the reign of Henry VI.
The stately tower of Hedon's church is conspicuous from far away; and when we reach the village we are much impressed by its solemn beauty, and by the atmosphere of vanished greatness clinging to the place that was decayed even in Leland's days, when Henry VIII, still reigned. No doubt the silting up of the harbour and creeks brought down Hedon from her high place, so that the retreat of the sea in this place was scarcely less disastrous to the town's prosperity than its advance had been at Ravenserodd; and possibly the waters of the Humber, glutted with their rapacity close to Spurn Head, deposited much of the disintegrated town in the waterway of the other.
The nave of the church is Decorated, and has beautiful windows of that period. The transept is Early English, and so also is the chancel, with a fine Perpendicular east window filled with glass of the same subtle colours we saw at Patrington.
In approaching nearer to Hull, we soon find ourselves in the outer zone of its penumbra of smoke, with fields on each side of the road waiting for works and tall shafts, which will spread the unpleasant gloom of the city still further into the smiling country. The sun becomes copper-coloured, and the pure, transparent light natural to Holderness loses its vigour. Tall and slender chimneys emitting lazy coils of blackness stand in pairs or in groups, with others beyond, indistinct behind a veil of steam and smoke, and at their feet grovels a confusion of buildings sending forth jets and mushrooms of steam at a thousand points. Hemmed in by this industrial belt and compact masses of cellular brickwork, where labour skilled and unskilled sleeps and rears its offspring, is the nucleus of the Royal borough of Kingston-upon-Hull, founded by Edward I at the close of the thirteenth century.
It would scarcely have been possible that any survivals of the Edwardian port could have been retained in the astonishing commercial development the city has witnessed, particularly in the last century; and Hull has only one old street which can lay claim to even the smallest suggestion of picturesqueness. The renaissance of English architecture is beginning to make itself felt in the chief streets, where some good buildings are taking the places of ugly fronts; and there are one or two more ambitious schemes of improvement bringing dignity into the city; but that, with the exception of two churches, is practically all.
When we see the old prints of the city surrounded by its wall defended with towers, and realize the numbers of curious buildings that filled the winding streets—the windmills, the churches and monasteries—we understand that the old Hull has gone almost as completely as Ravenserodd. It was in Hull that Michael, a son of Sir William de la Pole of Ravenserodd, its first Mayor, founded a monastery for thirteen Carthusian monks, and also built himself, in 1379, a stately house in Lowgate opposite St. Mary's Church. Nothing remains of this great brick mansion, which was described as a palace, and lodged Henry VIII during his visit in 1540. Even St. Mary's Church has been so largely rebuilt and restored that its interest is much diminished.
The great Perpendicular Church of Holy Trinity in the market-place is, therefore, the one real link between the modern city and the little town founded in the thirteenth century. It is a cruciform building and has a fine central tower, and is remarkable in having transepts and chancel built externally of brick as long ago as the Decorated Period. The De la Pole mansion, of similar date, was also constructed with brick—no doubt from the brickyard outside the North Gate owned by the founder of the family fortunes. The pillars and capitals of the arcades of both the nave and chancel are thin and unsatisfying to the eye, and the interior as a whole, although spacious, does not convey any pleasing sensations. The slenderness of the columns was necessary, it appears, owing to the soft and insecure ground, which necessitated a pile foundation and as light a weight above as could be devised.
William Wilberforce, the liberator of slaves, was born in 1759 in a large house still standing in High Street, and a tall Doric column surmounted by a statue perpetuates his memory, in the busiest corner of the city. The old red-brick Grammar School bears the date 1583, and is a pleasant relief from the dun-coloured monotony of the greater part of the city.
In going westward we come, at the village of North Cave, to the southern horn of the crescent of the Wolds. All the way to Howden they show as a level-topped ridge to the north, and the lofty tower of the church stands out boldly for many miles before we reach the town. The cobbled streets at the east end of the church possess a few antique houses coloured with warm ochre, and it is over and between these that we have the first close view of the ruined chancel. The east window has lost most of its tracery, and has the appearance of a great archway; its date, together with the whole of the chancel, is late Decorated, but the exquisite little chapterhouse is later still, and may be better described as early Perpendicular. It is octagonal in plan, and has in each side a window with an ogee arch above. The stones employed are remarkably large. The richly moulded arcading inside, consisting of ogee arches, has been exposed to the weather for so long, owing to the loss of the vaulting above, that the lovely detail is fast disappearing.
About four miles from Howden, near the banks of the Derwent, stand the ruins of Wressle Castle. In every direction the country is spread out green and flat, and, except for the towers and spires of the churches, it is practically featureless. To the north the horizon is brought closer by the rounded outlines of the wolds; everywhere else you seem to be looking into infinity, as in the Fen Country.
The castle that stands in the midst of this belt of level country is the only one in the East Riding, and although now a mere fragment of the former building, it still retains a melancholy dignity. Since a fire in 1796 the place has been left an empty shell, the two great towers and the walls that join them being left without floors or roofs.
Wressle was one of the two castles in Yorkshire belonging to the Percys, and at the time of the Civil War still retained its feudal grandeur unimpaired. Its strength was, however, considered by the Parliament to be a danger to the peace, despite the fact that the Earl of Northumberland, its owner, was not on the Royalist side, and an order was issued in 1648 commanding that it should be destroyed. Pontefract Castle had been suddenly seized for the King in June during that year, and had held out so persistently that any fortified building, even if owned by a supporter, was looked upon as a possible source of danger to the Parliamentary Government. An order was therefore sent to Lord Northumberland's officers at Wressle commanding them to pull down all but the south side of the castle. That this was done with great thoroughness, despite the most strenuous efforts made by the Earl to save his ancient seat, may be seen to-day in the fact that, of the four sides of the square, three have totally disappeared, except for slight indications in the uneven grass.
The saddest part of the story concerns the portion of the buildings spared by the Cromwellians. This, we are told, remained until a century ago nearly in the same state as in the year 1512, when Henry Percy, the fifth Earl, commenced the compilation of his wonderful Household Book. The Great Chamber, or Dining Room, the Drawing Chamber, the Chapel, and other apartments, still retained their richly-carved ceilings, and the sides of the rooms were ornamented with a 'great profusion of ancient sculpture, finely executed in wood, exhibiting the bearings, crests, badges, and devises, of the Percy family, in a great variety of forms, set off with all the advantages of painting, gilding and imagery.'
There was a moat on three sides, a square tower at each corner, and a fifth containing the gateway presumably on the eastward face. In one of the corner towers was the buttery, pantry, 'pastery,' larder, and kitchen; in the south-easterly one was the chapel; and in the two-storied building and the other tower of the south side were the chief apartments, where my lord Percy dined, entertained, and ordered his great household with a vast care and minuteness of detail. We would probably have never known how elaborate were the arrangements for the conduct and duties of every one, from my lord's eldest son down to his lowest servant, had not the Household Book of the fifth Earl of Northumberland been, by great good fortune, preserved intact. By reading this extraordinary compilation it is possible to build up a complete picture of the daily life at Wressle Castle in the year 1512 and later.
From this account we know that the bare stone walls of the apartments were hung with tapestries, and that these, together with the beds and bedding, all the kitchen pots and pans, cloths, and odds and ends, the altar hangings, surplices, and apparatus of the chapel—in fact, every one's bed, tools, and clothing—were removed in seventeen carts each time my lord went from one of his castles to another. The following is one of the items, the spelling being typical of the whole book:
'ITEM.—Yt is Ordynyd at every Remevall that the Deyn Subdean Prestes Gentilmen and Children of my Lordes Chapell with the Yoman and Grome of the Vestry shall have apontid theime ii Cariadges at every Remevall Viz. One for ther Beddes Viz. For vi Prests iii beddes after ii to a Bedde For x Gentillmen of the Chapell v Beddes after ii to a Bedde And for vi Children ii Beddes after iii to a Bedde And a Bedde for the Yoman and Grom o' th Vestry In al xi Beddes for the furst Cariage. And the ii'de Cariage for ther Aparells and all outher ther Stuff and to have no mo Cariage allowed them but onely the said ii Cariages allowid theime.'
We have seen the astonishingly tall spire of Hemingbrough Church from the battlements of Wressle Castle, and when we have given a last look at the grey walls and the windows, filled with their enormously heavy tracery, we betake ourselves along a pleasant lane that brings us at length to the river. The soaring spire is 120 feet in height, or twice that of the tower, and this hugeness is perhaps out of proportion with the rest of the building; yet I do not think for a moment that this great spire could have been different without robbing the church of its striking and pleasing individuality. There are Transitional Norman arches at the east end of the nave, but most of the work is Decorated or Perpendicular. The windows of the latter period in the south transept are singularly happy in the wonderful amount of light they allow to flood through their pale yellow glass. The oak bench-ends in the nave, which are carved with many devices, and the carefully repaired stalls in the choir, are Perpendicular, and no doubt belong to the period when the church was a collegiate foundation of Durham.
THE DERWENT AND THE HOWARDIAN HILLS
Malton is the only town on the Derwent, and it is made up of three separate places—Old Malton, a picturesque village; New Malton, a pleasant and oldfashioned town; and Norton, a curiously extensive suburb. The last has a Norman font in its modern church, and there its attractions begin and end. New Malton has a fortunate position on a slope well above the lush grass by the river, and in this way arranges the backs of its houses with unconscious charm. The two churches, although both containing Norman pillars and arches, have been so extensively rebuilt that their antiquarian interest is slight.
On account of its undoubted signs of Roman occupation in the form of two rectangular camps, and its situation at the meeting-place of some three or four Roman roads, New Malton has been with great probability identified with the Delgovitia of the Antonine Itinerary.
Old Malton is a cheerful and well-kept village, with antique cottages here and there, roofed with mossy thatch. It makes a pretty picture as you come along the level road from Pickering, with a group of trees on the left and the tower of the Priory Church appearing sedately above the humble roofs. A Gilbertine monastery was founded here about the middle of the twelfth century, during the lifetime of St. Gilbert of Sempringham in Lincolnshire, who during the last year of his long life sent a letter to the Canons of Malton, addressing them as 'My dear sons.' Little remains of Malton Priory with the exception of the church, built at the very beginning of the Early English period. Of the two western towers, the southern one only survives, and both aisles, two bays of the nave, and everything else to the east has gone. The abbreviated nave now serves as a parish church.
Between Malton and the Vale of York there lies that stretch of hilly country we saw from the edge of the Wolds, for some time past known as the Howardian Hills, from Castle Howard which stands in their midst. The many interests that this singularly remote neighbourhood contains can be realized by making such a peregrination as we made through the Wolds.
There is no need to avoid the main road south of Malton. It has a park-like appearance, with its large trees and well-kept grass on each side, and the glimpses of the wooded valley of the Derwent on the left are most beautiful. On the right we look across the nearer grasslands into the great park of Castle Howard, and catch glimpses between the distant masses of trees of Lord Carlisle's stately home. The old castle of the Howards having been burnt down, Vanbrugh, the greatest architect of early Georgian times, designed the enormous building now standing. In 1772 Horace Walpole compressed the glories of the place into a few sentences. '... I can say with exact truth,' he writes to George Selwyn,' that I never was so agreeably astonished in my days as with the first vision of the whole place. I had heard of Vanburgh, and how Sir Thomas Robinson and he stood spitting and swearing at one another; nay, I had heard of glorious woods, and Lord Strafford alone had told me that I should see one of the finest places in Yorkshire; but nobody ... had informed me that should at one view see a palace, a town, a fortified city; temples on high places, woods worthy of being each metropolis of the Druids, vales connected to hills by other woods, the noblest lawn in the world fenced by half the horizon, and a mausoleum that would tempt one to be buried alive; in short, I have seen gigantic places before, but never a sublime one.'
The style is that of the Corinthian renaissance, and Walpole's description applies as much to-day as when he wrote. The pictures include some of the masterpieces of Reynolds, Lely, Vandyck, Rubens, Tintoretto, Canaletto, Giovanni Bellini Domenichino and Annibale Caracci.
Two or three miles to the south, the road finds itself close to the deep valley of the Derwent. A short turning embowered with tall trees whose dense foliage only allows a soft green light to filter through, goes steeply down to the river. We cross the deep and placid river by a stone bridge, and come to the Priory gateway. It is a stately ruin partially mantled with ivy, and it preserves in a most remarkable fashion the detail of its outward face.
The mossy steps of the cross just outside the gateway are, according to a tradition in one of the Cottonian manuscripts, associated with the event which led to the founding of the Abbey by Walter Espec, lord of Helmsley. He had, we are told, an only son, also named Walter, who was fond of riding with exceeding swiftness.
One day when galloping at a great pace his horse stumbled near a small stone, and young Espec was brought violently to the ground, breaking his neck and leaving his father childless. The grief-stricken parent is said to have found consolation in the founding of three abbeys, one of them being at Kirkham, where the fatal accident took place.
Of the church and conventual buildings only a few fragments remain to tell us that this secluded spot by the Derwent must have possessed one of the most stately monasteries in Yorkshire. One tall lancet is all that has been left of the church; and of the other buildings a few walls, a beautiful Decorated lavatory, and a Norman doorway alone survive.
Stamford Bridge, which is reached by no direct road from Kirkham Abbey, is so historically fascinating that we must leave the hills for a time to see the site of that momentous battle between Harold, the English King, and the Norwegian army, under Harold Hardrada and Harold's brother Tostig. The English host made their sudden attack from the right bank of the river, and the Northmen on that side, being partially armed, were driven back across a narrow wooden bridge. One Northman, it appears, played the part of Horatius in keeping the English at bay for a time. When he fell, the Norwegians had formed up their shield-wall on the left bank of the river, no doubt on the rising ground just above the village. That the final and decisive phase of the battle took place there Freeman has no doubt.
Stamford Bridge being, as already mentioned, the most probable site of the Roman Derventio, it was natural that some village should have grown up at such an important crossing of the river.
An unfrequented road through a belt of picturesque woodland goes from Stamford Bridge past Sand Hutton to the highway from York to Malton. If we take the branch-road to Flaxton, we soon see, over the distant trees, the lofty towers of Sheriff Hutton Castle, and before long reach a silent village standing near the imposing ruin. The great rectangular space, enclosed by huge corner-towers and half-destroyed curtain walls, is now utilized as the stackyard of a farm, and the effect as we approach by a footpath is most remarkable. It seems scarcely possible that this is the castle Leland described with so much enthusiasm. 'I saw no House in the North so like a Princely Logginges,' he says, and also describes 'the stately Staire up to the Haul' as being very magnificent.
We come to the north-west tower, and look beyond its ragged outline to the distant country lying to the west, grass and arable land with trees appearing to grow so closely together at a short distance, that we have no difficulty in realizing that this was the ancient Forest of Galtres, which reached from Sheriff Hutton and Easingwold to the very gates of York.
In the complete loneliness of the ruins, with the silence only intensified by the sounds of fluttering wings in the tops of the towers, we in imagination sweep away the haystacks and reinstate the former grandeur of the fortress in the days of Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmorland. It was he who rebuilt the Norman castle of Bertram de Bulmer, Sheriff of Yorkshire, on a grander scale. Upon the death of Warwick, the Kingmaker, in 1471, Edward IV gave the castle and manor of Sheriff Hutton to his brother Richard, afterwards Richard III, and it was he who kept Edward IV's eldest child Elizabeth a prisoner within these massive walls. The unfortunate Edward, Earl of Warwick, the eldest son of George, Duke of Clarence, when only eight years old, was also incarcerated here for about three years. Richard III, the usurper, when he lost his only son, had thought of making this boy his heir, but the unfortunate child was passed over in favour of John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, and remained in close confinement at Sheriff Hutton until August, 1485, when the Battle of Bosworth placed Henry VII on the throne. Sir Robert Willoughby soon afterwards arrived at the castle, and took the little Earl to London. Princess Elizabeth was also sent for at the same time, but whether both the Royal prisoners travelled together does not appear to be recorded. The terrible pathos of this simultaneous removal from the castle lay in the fact that Edward was to play the part of Pharaoh's chief baker, and Elizabeth that of the chief butler; for, after fourteen years in the Tower of London, the Earl of Warwick was beheaded, while the King, after five months, raised up Elizabeth to be his Queen. Even in those callous times the fate of the Prince was considered cruel, for it was pointed out after his execution, that, as he had been kept in imprisonment since he was eight years old, and had no knowledge or experience of the world, he could hardly have been accused of any malicious purpose. So cut off from all the common sights of everyday life was the miserable boy that it was said 'that he could not discern a goose from a capon.'
Portions of the Augustinian Priory are built into the house called Newburgh Priory, and these include the walls of the kitchen and some curious carvings showing on the exterior. William of Newburgh, the historian, whose writings end abruptly in 1198—probably the year of his death—was a canon of the Priory, and spent practically his whole life there. In his preface he denounced the inaccuracies and fictions of the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth. At the Dissolution Newburgh was given by Henry VIII to Anthony Belasyse, the punning motto of whose family was Bonne et belle assez. One of his descendants was created Lord Fauconberg by Charles I, and the peerage became extinct in 1815, on the death of the seventh to bear the title. The last owner—Sir George Wombwell, Bart.—inherited the property from his grandmother, who was a daughter of the last Lord Fauconberg. Sir George was one of the three surviving officers who took part in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava on October 25, 1854.
The late Duke of Cambridge paid several visits to Newburgh, occupying what is generally called 'the Duke's Room.' Rear-Admiral Lord Adolphus Fitz-Clarence, whose father was George IV, died in 1856 in the bed still kept in this room. In a glass case, at the end of a long gallery crowded with interest, are kept the uniform and accoutrements Sir George wore at Balaclava.
The second Lord Fauconberg, who was raised from Viscount to the rank of Earl in 1689, was warmly attached to the Parliamentary side in the Civil War, and took as his second wife Cromwell's third daughter, Mary. This close connexion with the Protector explains the inscription upon a vault immediately over one of the entrances to the Priory. On a small metal plate is written:
'In this vault are Cromwell's bones, brought here, it is believed, by his daughter Mary, Countess of Fauconberg, at the Restoration, when his remains were disinterred from Westminster Abbey.'
The letters 'R.I.P.' below are only just visible, an attempt having been made to erase them. No one seems to have succeeded in finally clearing up the mystery of the last resting-place of Cromwell's remains. The body was exhumed from its tomb in Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster, and hung on the gallows at Tyburn on January 30, 1661—the twelfth anniversary of the execution of Charles I—and the head was placed upon a pole raised above St. Stephen's Hall, and had a separate history, which is known. Lord Fauconberg is said to have become a Royalist at the Restoration, and if this were true, he would perhaps have been able to secure the decapitated remains of his father-in-law, after their burial at the foot of the gallows at Tyburn. It has often been stated that a sword, bridle, and other articles belonging to Cromwell are preserved at Newburgh Priory, but this has been conclusively shown to be a mistake, the objects having been traced to one of the Belasyses.
Coxwold has that air of neatness and well-preserved antiquity which is so often to be found in England where the ancient owners of the land still spend a large proportion of their time in the great house of the village. There is a very wide street, with picturesque old houses on each side, which rises gently towards the church. A great tree with twisted branches—whether oak or elm, I cannot remember—stands at the top of the street opposite the churchyard, and adds much charm to the village. The inn has recently lost its thatch, but is still a quaint little house with the typical Yorkshire gable, finished with a stone ball. On the great sign fixed to the wall are the arms and motto of the Fauconbergs, and the interior is full of old-fashioned comfort and cleanliness. Nearly opposite stand the almshouses, dated 1662.
The church is chiefly Perpendicular, with a rather unusual octagonal tower. In the eighteenth century the chancel was rebuilt, but the Fauconberg monuments in it were replaced. Sir William Belasyse, who received the Newburgh property from his uncle, the first owner, died in 1603, and his fine Jacobean tomb, painted in red, black and gold, shows him with a beard and ruff. His portrait hangs in one of the drawing-rooms of the Priory. The later monuments, adorned with great carved figures, are all interesting. They encroach so much on the space in the narrow chancel that a most curious method for lengthening the communion-rail has been resorted to—that of bringing forward from the centre a long narrow space enclosed with the rails. From the pulpit Laurence Sterne preached when he was incumbent here for the last eight years of his life. He came to Coxwold in 1760, and took up his abode in the charming old house he quaintly called 'Shandy Hall.' It is on the opposite side of the road to the church, and has a stone roof and one of those enormous chimneys so often to be found in the older farmsteads of the north of England. Sterne's study was the very small room on the right-hand side of the entrance doorway; it now contains nothing associated with him, and there is more pleasure in viewing the outside of the house than is gained by obtaining permission to enter.
During his last year at Coxwold, when his rollicking, boisterous spirits were much subdued, Sterne completed his 'Sentimental Journey.' He also relished more than before the country delights of the village, describing it in one of his letters as 'a land of plenty.' Every day he drove out in his chaise, drawn by two long-tailed horses, until one day his postilion met with an accident from one his master's pistols, which went off in his hand. 'He instantly fell on his knees,' wrote Sterne, 'and said "Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name"—at which, like a good Christian, he stopped, not remembering any more of it.'
The beautiful Hambleton Hills begin to rise up steeply about two miles north of Coxwold, and there we come upon the ruins of Byland Abbey. Their chief feature is the west end of the church, with its one turret pointing a finger to the heavens, and the lower portion of a huge circular window, without any sign of tracery. This fine example of Early English work is illustrated here. The whole building appears to be the original structure built soon after 1177, for it shows everywhere the transition from Norman to Early English which was taking place at the close of the twelfth century. The founders were twelve monks and an abbot, named Gerald, who left Furness Abbey in 1134, and after some vicissitudes came to the notice of Gundred, the mother of Roger de Mowbray, either by recommendation or by accident. One account pictures the holy men on their way to Archbishop Thurstan at York, with all their belongings in one wagon drawn by eight oxen, and describes how they chanced to meet Gundreda's steward as they journeyed near Thirsk. Through Gundreda the monks went to Hode, and after four years received land at Old Byland, where they wished to build an abbey. This position was found to be too close to Rievaulx, whose bells could be too plainly heard, so that five years later the restless community obtained a fresh grant of land from De Mowbray, at a place called Stocking, where they remained until they came to Byland.
Recent excavation and preservation operations carried out by H.M. Office of Works have added many lost features to the ruins including the exposure of the whole of the floor level of the church hitherto buried under grassy mounds. Almost any of the roads to the east go through surprisingly attractive scenery. There are heathery commons, roads embowered with great spreading trees, or running along open hill-sides, and frequently lovely views of the Hambletons and more distant moors in the north.
In scenery of this character stands Gilling Castle, the seat of the Fairfaxes for some three centuries. It possesses one of the most beautiful Elizabethan dining-rooms to be found in this country. The walls are panelled to a considerable height, the remaining space being filled with paintings of decorative trees, one for each wapentake of Yorkshire. Each tree is covered with the coats of arms of the great families of that time in the wapentake. The brilliant colours against the dark green of the trees form a most suitable relief to the uniform brown of the panelling. In addition to the charm of the room itself, the view from the windows into a deep hollow clothed with dense foliage, with a distant glimpse of country beyond, is unlike anything I have seen elsewhere.
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE CITY OF YORK
Thoroughly to master the story of the city of York is to know practically the whole of English history. Its importance from the earliest times has made York the centre of all the chief events that have take place in the North of England; and right up to the time of the Civil War the great happenings of the country always affected York, and brought the northern capital into the vortex of affairs. And yet, despite the prominent part the city has played in ecclesiastical, military, and civil affairs through so many centuries of strife, it has contrived to retain a medieval character in many ways unequalled by any town in the kingdom. This is due, in a large measure, to the fortunate fact that York is well outside the area of coal and iron, and has never become a manufacturing centre, the few factories it now possesses being unable to rob the city of its romance and charm.
There could scarcely be a better approach to such a city than that furnished by the railway-station. Immediately outside the building, we are confronted with a sloping grassy bank, crowned with a battlemented wall, and we discover that only through its bars and posterns can we enter the city, and feast our eyes on the relics of the Middle Ages within. It is no dummy wall put up to please visitors, for right down to the siege of 1644, when the Parliamentary army battered Walmgate Bar with their artillery, it has withstood many assaults and investments. Repairs and restorations have been carried out at various times during the last century, and additional arches have been inserted by the bars and where openings have been made necessary, luckily without robbing the walls of their picturesqueness or interest. The bright, creamy colour of the stonework is a pleasant reminder of the purity of York's atmosphere, for should the smoke of the city ever increase to the extent of even the smaller manufacturing towns, the beauty and glamour of every view would gradually disappear.
Of the Roman legionary base called Eboracum there still remain parts of the wall and the lower portion of a thirteen-sided angle bastion while embedded in the medieval earthen ramparts there is a great deal of Roman walling.
The four chief gateways and the one or two posterns and towers have each a particular fascination, and when we begin to taste the joys of York, we cannot decide whether the Minster, the gateways, the narrow streets full of overhanging houses, or the churches, all of which we know from prints and pictures, call us most. In our uncertainty we reach a wide arch across the roadway, and on the inner side find a flight of stone steps leading to the top of the wall. We climb them, and find spread out before us our first notable view of the city. The battlemented stone parapet of the wall stops at a tower standing on the bank of the river, and on the further side rises another, while above the old houses, closely packed together beyond Lendal Bridge, appear the stately towers of the Minster.
On the plan of keeping the best wine until the last, we turn our backs to the Minster and go along the wall, trying to imagine the scene when open country came right up to encircling fortifications, and within were to be found only the picturesque houses of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, many of them new in those days, and yet so admirably designed as to be beautiful without the additional charm of age. Then, suddenly, we find no need to imagine any longer, having reached the splendid twelfth-century structure of Micklegate Bar. Its bold turrets are pierced with arrow-slits, and above the battlements are three stone figures. The archway is a survival of the Norman city. In gazing at this imposing gateway, which confronted all who approached York from the south, we seem to hear the clanking sound of the portcullis as it is raised and lowered to allow the entry of some Plantagenet sovereign and his armed retinue, and, remembering that above this gate were fixed the dripping heads of Richard, Duke of York, after his defeat at Wakefield; the Earl of Devon, after Towton, and a long list of others of noble birth, we realize that in those times of pageantry, when the most perfect artistry appeared in costume, in architecture, and in ornament of every description, there was a blood-thirstiness that makes us shiver.
The wall stops short at Skeldergate Bridge, where we cross the river and come to the castle. There is a frowning gateway that boasts no antiquity, and the courtyard within is surrounded by the eighteenth-century assize courts, a military prison, and the governor's house. Hemmed in by these buildings and a massive wall is the artificial mound surmounted by the tottering castle keep. It is called Clifford's Tower because Francis Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, restored the ruined wall in 1642. The Royal Arms and those of the Cliffords can still be seen above the doorway, but the structure as a whole dates from the twelfth century, and in 1190 was the scene of a horrible tragedy, when the people of York determined to massacre the Jews. Those merchants who escaped from their houses with their families and were not killed in the streets fled to the castle, but finding that they were unable to defend the place, they burnt the buildings and destroyed themselves. A few exceptions consented to become Christians, but were afterwards killed by the infuriated townspeople.
On the opposite side of the Foss, a stream that joins the Ouse just outside the city, the walls recommence at the Fishergate Postern, a picturesque tower with a tiled roof. After this the line of fortifications turns to the north, and Walmgate Bar shows its battlemented turrets and its barbican, the only one which has survived. The gateway itself, on the outside, is very similar in design to Micklegate and Monk Bars, and was built in the thirteenth century; inside, however, the stonework is hidden behind a quaint Elizabethan timber front supported on two pillars. This gate, as already mentioned, was much battered during the siege of 1644, which lasted six weeks. It was soon after the Royalists' defeat at Marston Moor that York capitulated, and fortunately Sir Thomas Fairfax gave the city excellent terms, and saved it from being plundered. Through him, too, the Minster suffered very little damage from the Parliamentary artillery, and the only disaster of the siege was the spoiling of the Marygate Tower, near St. Mary's Abbey, many of the records it contained being destroyed. Numbers were saved through the rewards Fairfax offered to any soldier who rescued a document from the rubbish, and as the transcribing of all the records had just been completed by one Dodsworth, to whom Fairfax had paid a salary for some years, the loss was reduced to a minimum.
Walmgate leads straight to the bridge over the Foss, and just beyond we come to fine old Merchants' Hall, established in 1373 by John de Rowcliffe. The panelled rooms and the chapel, built early in the fifteenth century, and many interesting details, are beautiful survivals of the days when the trade guilds of the city flourished. On the left, a few yards further on, at the corner of the Pavement, is the interesting little church of All Saints, whose octagonal lantern was illuminated at night as a guiding light to travellers on their way to York. The north door has a sanctuary knocker.
The narrowest and most antique of the old streets of York are close to All Saints' Church, and the first we enter is the Shambles, where butchers' shops with slaughter-houses behind still line both sides of the way. On the left, as we go towards the Minster, one of the shops has a depressed ogee arch of oak, and great curved brackets across the passage leading to the back. All the houses are timber-framed, and either plastered and coloured with warm ochre wash, or have the spaces between the oak filled with dark red brick. In the Little Shambles, too, there are many curious details in the high gables, pargeting and oriel windows. Petergate is a charming old street, though not quite so rich in antique houses as Stonegate, illustrated here. A large number of shops in Stonegate sell 'antiques,' and, as the pleasure of buying an old pair of silver candlesticks is greatly enhanced by the knowledge that the purchase will be associated with the old-world streets of York, there is every reason for believing that these quaint houses are in no danger. In walking through these streets we are very little disturbed by traffic, and the atmosphere of centuries long dead seems to surround us. We constantly get peeps of the great central tower of the Minster or the Early English south transept, and there are so many charming glimpses down passages and along narrow streets that it is hard to realize that we are not in some town in Normandy such as Lisieux or Falaise, and yet those towns have no walls, and Falaise, has only one gateway, and Lisieux none. It is surely justifiable to ask, in Kingsley's words, 'Why go gallivanting with the nations round' until you have at least seen what England can show at York and Chester? Skirting the west end of the Minster, and having a close view of its two towers built in late Perpendicular times, which are not so beautiful as those at Beverley, we come to what is in many ways the most romantic of all the medieval survivals of York. There is an open space faced by Bootham Bar, the chief gateway towards the north; behind are the weathered red roofs of many antique houses, and beyond them rises the stately mass of the Minster. The barbican was removed in 1831, and the interior has been much restored, without, however, destroying its fascination. We can still see the portcullis and look out of the narrow windows through which the watchmen have gazed in early times at approaching travellers. It was at this gateway that armed guides could be obtained to protect those who were journeying northwards through the Forest of Galtres, where wolves were to be feared in the Middle Ages.
Facing Bootham Bar is a modern public building judiciously screened by trees, and adjoining it to the south stands the beautiful old house where, before the Dissolution, the abbots of St. Mary's Abbey lived in stately fashion.
When Henry VIII paid his one visit to York it was after the Pilgrimage of Grace led by Robert Aske, who was hanged on one of the gates. The citizens who had welcomed the rebels pleaded pardon, which was granted three years afterwards; but Henry appointed a council, with the Duke of Norfolk as its president, which was held in the Abbots' house, and resulted in the Mayor and Corporation losing most of their powers. The beautiful fragments of St. Mary's Abbey are close to the river, and the site is now included in the museum grounds. In the museum building itself there is a wonderfully fine collection of Roman coffins, dug up when the new railway-station was being built. One inscription is particularly interesting in showing that the Romans set up altars in their palaces, thus explaining the reason for the Jews refusing to enter the praetorium at Jerusalem when Christ was made prisoner, because it was the Feast of the Passover.
We can see the restored front of the Guildhall overlooking the river from Lendal Bridge, which adjoins the gates of the Abbey grounds, but to reach the entrance we must go along the street called Lendal and turn into a narrow passage. The hall was put up in 1446, and is therefore in the Perpendicular style. A row of tall oak pillars on each side support the roof and form two aisles. The windows are filled with excellent modern stained glass representing several incidents in the history of the city, from the election of Constantine to be Roman Emperor, which took place at York in A.D. 306, down to the great dinner to the Prince Consort, held in the hall in 1850.
The Church of St. Michael Spurriergate, built at the same period as the Guildhall, is curiously similar in its interior, having only a nave and aisles. The stone pillars are so slight that they are scarcely of much greater diameter than the wooden ones in the civic structure, and some of them are perilously out of plumb. There is much old glass in the windows.
St. Margaret's Church has a splendid Norman doorway carved with the signs of the zodiac; St. Mary's Castlegate is an Early English or Transitional building transformed and patched in Perpendicular times; St. Mary's Bishophill Junior has a most interesting tower, containing Roman materials, and the list could be prolonged for many pages if there were space.
We finally come back to the Minster, and entering by the south transept door, realize at once in the dim immensity of the interior that we have reached the crowning splendour of York. The great organ is filling the lofty spaces with solemn music, carrying the mind far beyond petty things.
Edwin's wooden chapel, put up in 627 for his baptism into the Christian Church nearly thirteen centuries ago, and almost immediately replaced by a stone structure, has gone, except for some possible fragments in the crypt. Vanished, too, is the building that was standing when, in 1069, the Danes sacked and plundered York, leaving the Minster and city in ruins, so that the great church as we see it belongs almost entirely to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the towers being still later.
THE MANUFACTURING DISTRICT
It is not easy to understand how a massive structure such as that of Selby Abbey can catch fire and become a burnt-out shell, and yet this actually happened not many years ago.
It was before midnight on October 19, 1906, that the flames were first seen bursting from the Latham Chapel, where the organ was placed. The Selby fire brigade with their small engine were confronted with a task entirely beyond their powers, and though the men worked heroically, they were quite unable to prevent the fire from spreading to the roofs of the chancel and nave, and consuming all that was inflammable within the tower. By about three in the morning fire-engines from Leeds and York had arrived, and with a copious supply of water from the river, it was hoped that the double roof of the nave might have been saved, but the fire had obtained too fierce a hold, and by 4.30 a correspondent telegraphed:
'The flames are through the west-end roof. The whole building will now be destroyed from end to end. The flames are pouring out of the roof, and the lead of the roof is running down in molten streams. The scene is magnificent but pathetic, and the whole of the noble building is now doomed. The whole of the inside is a fiery furnace. The seating is in flames, and the firemen are in considerable danger if they stay any longer, as the false roof is now burned through.
'The false roof is falling in, and the flames are ascending 30 feet above the building. Dense clouds of smoke are pouring out.'
When the fire was vanquished, it had practically completed its work of destruction. Besides reducing to charred logs and ashes all the timber in the great building, the heat had been so intense that glass windows had been destroyed, tracery demolished, carved finials and capitals reduced to powder, and even the massive piers by the north transept, where the furnace of flame reached its maximum intensity, became so calcined and cracked that they were left in a highly dangerous condition.
Fortunately the splendid Norman nave was not badly damaged, and after a new roof had been built, it was easily made ready for holding services. The two bays nearest to the transept are early Norman, and on the south side the massive circular column is covered with a plain grooved diaper-work, almost exactly the same as may be seen at Durham Cathedral. All the rest of the nave is Transitional Norman except the Early English clerestory, and is a wonderful study in the progress from early Norman to Early English.
On the floor on the south side of the nave by one of the piers is a slab to the memory of a maker of gravestones, worded in this quaint fashion:
'Here Lyes ye Body of poor Frank Raw Parish Clark and Gravestone Cutter And ys is writt to let yw know: Wht Frank for Othrs us'd to do Is now for Frank done by Another. Buried March ye 31, 1706.'
A stone on the floor of the retro-choir to John Johnson, master and mariner, dated 1737, is crowded with nautical metaphor.
'Tho' Boreas with his Blustring blasts Has tos't me to and fro, Yet by the handy work of God I'm here Inclos'd below And in this Silent Bay I lie With many of our Fleet Untill the Day that I Set Sail My Admiral Christ to meet.'
The great Perpendicular east window was considered by Pugin to be one of the most beautiful of its type in England, and the risk it ran of being entirely destroyed during the fire was very great. The design of the glass illustrates the ancestry of Christ from Jesse, and a considerable portion of it is original.
Although Selby Abbey suffered severely in the conflagration, yet its greatest association with history, the Norman nave, is still intact. At the eastern end of the nave we can still look upon the ponderous arches of the Benedictine Abbey Church, founded by William the Conqueror in 1069 as a mark of his gratitude for the success of his arms in the north of England, even as Battle Abbey was founded in the south.
Going to the west as far as Pontefract, we come to the actual borders of the coal-mine and factory-bestrewn country. Although the history of Pontefract is so detailed and so rich, it has long ago been robbed of nearly every building associated with the great events of its past, and its present appearance is intensely disappointing. The town stands on a hill, and has a wide and cheerful market-place possessing an eighteenth-century 'cross' on big open arches. It is a plain, classic structure, 'erected by Mrs. Elisabeth Dupier Relict of Solomon Dupier, Gent, in a cheerful and generous Compliance with his benevolent Intention Anno Dom' 1734.'
The castle stood at the northern end of the town on a rocky eminence just suited for the purposes of an early fortress, but of the stately towers and curtain walls which have successively been reared above the scarps, practically nothing besides foundations remains. The base of the great round tower, prominent in all the prints of the castle in the time of its greatest glory, fragments of the lower parts of other towers and some dungeons or magazines are practically the only features of the historic site that the imagination finds to feed upon. A long flight of steps leads into the underground chambers, on whose walls are carved the names of various prisoners taken during the siege of 1648. Below the castle, on the east side, is the old church of All Saints with its ruined nave, eloquent of the destruction wrought by the Parliamentary cannon in the successive sieges, and to the north stands New Hall, the stately Tudor mansion of Lord George Talbot, now reduced to the melancholy wreck depicted in these pages. The girdle of fortifications constructed by the besiegers round the castle included New Hall, in case it might have been reached by a sally of the Royalists, whose cannon-balls, we know, carried as far, from the discovery of one embedded in the masonry. Coats of arms of the Talbots can still be seen on carved stones on the front walls over the entrance. The date, 1591, is believed to be later than the time of the erection of the house, which, in the form of its parapets and other details, suggests the style of Henry VIII's reign.
Although we can describe in a very few words the historic survivals of Pontefract, to deal even cursorily with the story of the vanished castle and modernized town is a great undertaking, so numerous are the great personages and famous events of English history connected with its owners, its prisoners, and its sieges.
The name Pontefract has suggested such an obvious derivation that, from the early topographers up to the present time, efforts have been made to discover the broken bridge giving rise to the new name, which replaced the Saxon Kyrkebi. No one has yet succeeded in this quest, and the absence of any river at Pontefract makes the search peculiarly hopeless. At Castleford, a few miles north-west of Pontefract, where the Roman Ermine Street crossed the confluence of the Aire and the Calder, it is definitely known that there was only a ford. The present name does not make any appearance until several years after the Norman Conquest, though Ilbert de Lacy received the great fief, afterwards to become the Honour of Pontefract, in 1067, the year after the Battle of Hastings. Ilbert built the first stone castle on the rock, and either to him or his immediate successors may be attributed the Norman walls and chapel, whose foundations still exist on the north and east sides of the castle yard.
The De Lacys held Pontefract until 1193, when Robert died without issue, the castle and lands passing by marriage to Richard Fitz-Eustace; and the male line again became extinct in 1310, when Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, married Alice, the heiress of Henry de Lacy. Henry's great-grandfather was the Roger de Lacy, Justiciar and Constable of Chester, who is famous for his heroic defence of Chateau Gaillard, in Normandy, for nearly a year, when John weakly allowed Philip Augustus to continue the siege, making only one feeble attempt at relief. Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who was a cousin of Edward II, was more or less in continual opposition to the king, on account of his determination to rid the Court of the royal favourites, and it was with Lancaster's full consent that Piers Gaveston was beheaded at Blacklow Hill, near Warwick, in 1312. For this Edward never forgave his cousin, and when, during the fighting which followed the recall of the Despensers, Lancaster was obliged to surrender after the Battle of Boroughbridge, Edward had his revenge. The Earl was brought to his own castle at Pontefract, where the King lay, and there accused of rebellion, of coming to the Parliaments with armed men, and of being in league with the Scots. Without even being allowed a hearing he was condemned to death as a traitor, and the next day, June 19, 1322, mounted on a sorry nag without a bridle, he was led to a hill outside the town, and executed with his face towards Scotland.
In the last year of the same century Richard II died in imprisonment in the castle, not long after the Parliament had decided that the deposed King should be permanently immured in an out-of-the-way place. Hardyng's Chronicle records the journeying from one castle to another in the lines:
'The Kyng the[n] sent Kyng Richard to Ledis, There to be kepte surely in previtee, Fro the[n]s after to Pykeryng we[n]t he nedes, And to Knauesburgh after led was he, But to Pountfrete last where he did die.'
Archbishop Scrope affirmed that Richard died of starvation, while Shakespeare makes Sir Piers of Exton his murderer.
During the Pilgrimage of Grace the castle was besieged, and given up to the rebels by Lord Darcy and the Archbishop of York. In the following century came the three sieges of the Civil War. The first two followed after the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, and Fairfax joined the Parliamentary forces on Christmas Day of that year, remaining through most of January. On March 1 Sir Marmaduke Langdale relieved the Royalist garrison, and Colonel Lambert fell back, fighting stubbornly and losing some 300 men. The garrison then had an interval of just three weeks to reprovision the castle, then the second siege began, and lasted until July 19, when the courageous defenders surrendered, the besieging force having lost 469 men killed to 99 of those within the castle. Of these two sieges, often looked upon as one, there exists a unique diary kept by Nathan Drake, a 'gentleman volunteer' of the garrison, and from its wonderfully graphic details it is possible to realize the condition of the defence, their sufferings, their hopes, and their losses, almost more completely than of any other siege before recent times.
In the third and last investment of 1648-49 Cromwell himself summoned the garrison, and remained a month with the Parliamentary forces, without seeing any immediate prospect of the surrender of the castle. When the Royalists had been reduced to a mere handful, Colonel Morris, their commander, agreed to terms of capitulation on March 24, 1649. The dismantling of the stately pile by order of Parliament followed as a matter of course, and now we have practically nothing but seventeenth-century prints to remind us of the embattled towers which for so many months defied Cromwell and his generals.
Liquorice is still grown at Pontefract, although the industry has languished on account of Spanish rivalry, and the town still produces those curious little discs of soft liquorice, approximating to the size of a shilling, known as 'Pontefract cakes.'
The ruins of the great Cistercian Abbey of Kirkstall, founded in the twelfth century by Henry de Lacy, still stand in a remarkable state of completeness, about three miles from Leeds. With the exception of Fountains, the remains are more perfect than any in Yorkshire. Nearly the whole of the church is Transitional Norman, and the roofless nave is in a wonderfully fine state of preservation. The chapter-house and refectory, as well as smaller rooms, are fairly complete, and the situation by the Aire on a sunny day is still attractive; yet owing to the smoke-laden atmosphere, and the inevitable indications of the countless visitors from the city, the ruins have lost much of their interest, unless viewed solely from a detached architectural standpoint. We do not feel much inclination to linger in this neighbourhood, and continue our way westwards towards the great rounded hills, where, not far from Keighley, we come to the grey village of Haworth.
More than half a century has gone since Charlotte Bronte passed away in that melancholy house, the 'parsonage' of the village. In that period the church she knew has been rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, her home has been enlarged, a branch line from Keighley has given Haworth a railway-station, and factories have multiplied in the valley, destroying its charm. These changes sound far greater than they really are, for in many ways Haworth and its surroundings are just what they were in the days when the members of that ill-fated household were still united under the grey roof of the 'parsonage,' as it is invariably called by Mrs. Gaskell.
We climb up the steep road from the station at the bottom of the deep valley, and come to the foot of the village street, which, even though it turns sharply to the north in order to make as gradual an ascent as possible, is astonishingly steep. At the top stands an inn, the 'Black Bull,' where the downward path of the unhappy Branwell Bronte began, owing to the frequent occasions when 'Patrick,' as he was familiarly called, was sent for by the landlord to talk to his more important patrons.
The churchyard is, to a large extent, closely paved with tombstones dating back to the seventeenth century, laid flat, and on to this dismal piece of ground the chief windows of the Brontes' house looked, as they continue to do to-day. It is exceedingly strange that such an unfortunate arrangement of the buildings on this breezy hill-top should have given a gloomy outlook to the parsonage. If the house had only been placed a little higher up the hill, and been built to face the south, it is conceivable that the Brontes would have enjoyed better health and a less melancholy and tragic outlook on life. An account of a visit to Haworth Parsonage by a neighbour, when Charlotte and her father were the only survivors of the family, gives a clear impression of how the house appeared to those who lived brighter lives:
'Miss Bronte put me so in mind of her own "Jane Eyre." She looked smaller than ever, and moved about so quietly and noiselessly, just like a little bird, as Rochester called her, barring that all birds are joyous, and that joy can never have entered that house since it was first built, and yet, perhaps, when that old man married, and took home his bride, and children's voices and feet were heard about the house, even that desolate crowded graveyard and biting blast could not quench cheerfulness and hope.'
Very soon after the family came to Haworth Mrs. Bronte died, when the eldest girl, Maria, was only six years old; and far from there having been any childish laughter about the house, we are told that the children were unusually solemn from their infancy. In their earliest walks, the five little girls with their one brother—all of them under seven years—directed their steps towards the wild moors above their home rather than into the village. Over a century has passed, and practically no change has come to the moorland side of the house, so that we can imagine the precocious toddling children going hand-in-hand over the grass-lands towards the moors beyond, as though we had travelled back over the intervening years.
The purple moors so beloved by the Brontes stretch away to the Calder Valley, and beyond that depression in great sweeping outlines to the Peak of Derbyshire, where they exceed 2,000 feet in height. Within easy reach of this grand country is Sheffield, perhaps the blackest and ugliest city in England. At night, however, the great iron and steel works become wildly fantastic. The tops of the many chimneys emit crimson flames, and glowing shafts of light with a nucleus of dazzling brilliance show between the inky forms of buildings. Ceaseless activity reigns in these industrial infernos, with three shifts of men working during each twenty-four hours; and from the innumerable works come every form of manufactured steel and iron goods, from a pair of scissors or a plated teaspoon to steel rails and armour plate.