Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

Towcester to Redborn

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FROM hence I descended to the great road: the country hilly and clayey. The quarries are of a coarse grit stone, often filled with shells, but of too shattery a nature to be used, except in ordinary buildings. A few miles farther is an eminence, called Forster's Booth, so named from a booth erected here by one Forster, a poor countryman. It grew at length into a scattered street, of several houses and carriers inns, through which runs the Watling-street road in a direct line to Toucester, four miles distant.

THIS is a pretty considerable town, seated on a plain, on a small stream called the Tove, from which the name is derived; Toucester, or the castle on the Tove. The great tumulus on the east side of the town, points out the site of the speculum or watch-tower. The Roman coins found in digging about, prove it to have been an appendage to a Roman station, whose name has never reached us. The Saxons took advantage of this little fortress, and added the foss which surrounded it. From them it received its present title of the Bury, or Borough, to which has been since added the double tautology of Berry Mounthill .

THE Saxons called the town Tofeceastre. In the time of Edward the Elder it was almost ruined by the ravages of the Danes; but in 921 the king determined to restore it, and for that purpose detached part of his forces; who, soon after their arrival, were attacked by the Danes resident in Northampton and Leicester ;1 but, assisted by the townsmen, they repelled the barbarians; and Edward, in order to prevent future insults, fortified the whole place with a stone wall.2 But time hath destroyed every vestige of it.

THIS manor, after various changes, became the property of the famous Sir Richard Empson, one of the instruments of the avarice and oppression of Henry VII; who, in 1509, lost his head, with Edmund Dudley, on Tower-hill; perhaps more deservedly than legally. Empson was the son of a sieve-maker in this town: by his great abilities, in the profession of the law, he was promoted to the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster; but by his unbounded submission to the will of his rapacious master, fell a victim, in the next reign, to the demands of an enraged nation. At present, the manor belongs to the Earl of Pomfret, who derives it from his ancestor Richard Fermore, a merchant of Calais, and a younger brother of the antient house of the Fermors, of Oxfordshire.

THERE was a church here at the Conquest, which was given by the Conqueror to the abbey of St. Wandragasile, in Normandy. In the present, is nothing remarkable, excepting the tomb of William Sponne, archdeacon of Norfolk, and rector of this parish in the reign of Henry VI. who founded here a college and chantry for two priests to say mass for his soul, and the souls of his friends. At the dissolution, it was worth £ .19. 6s. 8d. a year.3 He was also a great benefactor to the town, and his charities are still felt here, governed by feoffees, consisting of fifteen of the principal inhabitants.

HIS figure is represented recumbent, dressed in a red gown, which reaches round his feet, with ermine hood and sleeves. Beneath is another representation of him after death, with a sunk nose and emaciated body, and all the changes wrought by that fell monster on the human frame.

THE town is supported by the great concourse of passengers, and by a manufacture of lace, and a small one of stockings. The first was imported from Flanders, and is carried on with much success in this place, and with still more in the neighboring county of Buckingham, .

I TOOK a walk about a mile east of the town, to see Easton-Neston, the seat of the Earl of Pomfret. The wings were built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682; the centre by Hawkesmore, about twenty years after, who is said to have departed greatly from the original design, It has nine windows in front, and is enriched with pilasters. The inside has been long since despoiled of its curious portraits and valuable statues: the latter having been presented to the university of Oxford, by the late Countess of Pomfret, grandaughter to the lord chancellor Jeffries.

THIS manor was purchased by the same Richard Fermor, in 1530 , from Thomas, son of Sir Richard Empson. The antient house stood below the church, in a park inclosed by Sir Richard, by licence from Henry VII, at the time it came into the possession of Mr. Fermor. He lived here with boundless hospitality, till the year 1540, when, for sending 8d. and a couple of shirts, to one Nicholas Thane, his confessor, then in prison at Buckingham for denying the king's supremacy, he incurred the tyrant's displeasure. He fell under a praemunire, and, in his old-age, being stripped of all he had, was forced to live with the parson of Wapenham (whom he had presented), and with whom he lived for several years, an example of consummate piety and resignation.4

THE recovery of part of his fortune was owing to a singular accident. During his prosperous days he kept, as was usual in those times with people of rank, a fool or jester: his was the noted Wil. Sommers, who, for his drollery, was promoted to the same office under Henry VIII. I have a very scarce print of this illustrious personage, by Delaram, with all the insignia of his place about him. Wil. with a gratitude not frequent at courts, remembered his old master; and in the latter days of Henry, when his constitution was weakened by infirmities, took occasion, by some well-timed speech, to awaken the king's conscience; who, touched with a compunction rarely known to him, ordered restitution;5 but died before it could be effected. His pious successor, Edward VI. restored to him this manor, that of Toucester, and some others of his estates, and added many grants, by way of compensation for the injury done him; but all fell short of the great losses he had sustained from the cruel father. He returned to his house, which he enjoyed only two years, dying in January 1552-3. He seemed to have a presage of his end; for on the day of his death he had invited a number of his friends and neighbors, took his leave of them, retired to his closet, and was found dead in an attitude of devotion.6 His tomb, with his figure in brass, and that of his wife, are still to be seen in the adjacent church.

THERE are, besides, several other family monuments. Sir John Fermor (son of Richard) and Maud his wife, are represented kneeling at a desk, beneath an arch: she is dressed in a great ruff and lappets. He, perhaps out of respect to his father's sufferings in the cause of the see of Rome, received the honor of Knight of the Bath at the coronation of queen Mary. He died in 1571.

HIS son Sir George lies in alabaster, recumbent and armed, with peaked beard and small whiskers.His wife, Mary daughter of Thomas Curzon, of Addington, Bucks, lies by him, dressed in a gown, tied neatly with ribands from top to bottom, a quilled ruff, and great tete a caleche. Beneath are represented, kneeling, their seven sons and. eight daughters. Above all, is a vast quantity of ornaments, arms, &c. &c. This gentleman might, like Sir Fulk Grevil, have boasted of being the friend of Sir Philip Sydney, having contracted an intimacy with him in the wars in the Netherlands, where he served all his youth, under William prince of Orange, and walked at the funeral of the celebrated English hero. He also improved himself by foreign travel; lived at home with vast splendor and hospitality; and, on June 11, 1603, his house had the honour of being the place of meeting between James I. and his queen, on her journey from Scotland, to receive her new crown. Here they dined, amd were entertained, with all their trains, in a princely manner.7 He quitted this life in 1612.

SIR Hatton Fermor, who with nine other gentlemen were knighted at the above interview, is also buried here. He died of the consequences of a broken leg, in 1620. He and his lady are very elegant figures, placed standing; he armed; in great boots, flapping down; vast whiskers; peaked beard; and, what was not in use at the time of his death, a cravat. It seems the monument was not erected till 1662, when his widow Anna, daughter of Sir William Cockain, lord mayor of London, gave this proof of her affection. She is dressed in a loose gown, and with long flowing tresses: her hand is on an hour-glass; his on a scroll: between, is a bust of a man in long hair: above, are three most awkward figures of kneeling women. I must not quit the lady, without saying she suffered, with exemplary patience, a long imprisonment and great confiscations, on account of the loyalty of her family; which were rewarded with a peerage in the person of her son Sir William Fermor.

FROM hence I continued my journey southward, and much of the way near the borders of Whittlewood, or Whittlebury Forest, which still continues wooded for several miles in length, and of different extents in breadth, in a most deep and clayey country. Much of the timber is cut in rotation, but in parts towards the edge of Buckinghamshire, are considerable quantities of good oak. This forest remained in the crown till the year 1685; when Henry Fitz-roy, first duke of Grafton, was appointed hereditary ranger. The present duke hath an elegant house, called Wakefield Lodge, 8 originally built by Mr. Claypole, son-in-law to Oliver Cromwell, and ranger of the forest. This was one of the five tracts, called walks; viz, Wakefield, Shelbrook, Hazelbury, Shrob, and Hanger. Fourteen townships are allowed the right of common in the open coppices and ridings, from the principle of justice, that some reparation might be made to them for the damages sustained by the deer. In this great tract are two lawns, i. e. spots inclosed with pales, for pasture for the deer: one is Wakefield Lawn, the other Shelbrook Lawn, which are secluded from the forest cattle.

THAT fierce animal the wild cat, is still met with in this forest. In the reign of Richard I. the abbot and convent of Peterborough had a charter for hunting in this place the hare, the fox, and the wild cat; which was confirmed to them, in 1253, by Henry III.9 By these charters, it appears the wild cat should be added to the beasts of forest, or of venerie; which the book of St. Albans, and old Sir Tristram, in his worthie Treatise of Hunting, confined to the hart, the hynde, the hare, the boare, and the wolfe: the hart and hind being separated, because the season of hunting them was different; yet they remain in species still the same. Beasts of the chace (which was an inferior sort of forest) were the buck, the doe, the fox, the martin, and the roe.10

THE fondness that seized the regular clergy for the pleasures of the chace, did not appear till after the Conquest. The Saxon clergy were expressly forbidden the amusement. King Edgar directs the priest "to be neither a hunter nor hawker, nor yet a tippler; but to keep close to his books, as becomes a man of his order."11

THE canon law still preserved its severity, and forbad to spiritual persons the amusement of the chace. This probably was rather designed to check what might, by the excess, estrange them from their sacred function. The common law, from a principle of good sense and humanity, permitted the recreation, because nothing could contribute more effectually to the performance of their duty than good health, resulting from fit exercise; as nothing could disqualify them so greatly as the disorders arising from a sedentary life. This indulgence probably soon ended in abuse. In the twelfth century, we find Abelard unhappy in presiding over a monastery of huntsmen. Chaucer, as I have before quoted, flings a fine ridicule on the sporting monk. Finally, the chace became so necessary an appendage to the ecclesiastical state, that every see had a number of parks: that of Norwich, thirteen; and the sixth mortuary which the king clamed on the death of a prelate, was his kennel of hounds.

PASS by Potters Pery, a village which takes its name from the manufacture of coarse ware, such as flower-pots, &c. which has been long carried on here. The clay is yellowish, pure, and firm; yet the pots made with it are very brittle, unless glazed; when they endure the weather as well as any.

THE post-road is still continued the whole way on or near the Watling-street. Near Potters Pery I quitted it, through the curiosity of visiting Passenham, about a mile or two distant, on the banks of the Ouze, near this village. Edward the Elder encamped here to cover his workmen, who were employed in building the walls of Toucester, 12 from being interrupted by the Danes. A square entrenchment is supposed to have been cast up by him, and garrisoned for that purpose.

THE church is small, and without ailes; dedicated to Guthlaius, the saint of the fens. It was rebuilt in 1626, at the sole expence of Sir Robert Banastre. This gentleman was lord of the manor; he died in 1649, aged about eighty. His figure is a half-length, with a book in his hand, placed against the wall. His epitaph informs us, that he was born at Wem, in Shropshire; that he was bred at court, and served three princes; that he had three wives, and by the last an only daughter, who conveyed the estate, by marriage with William lord Maynard, into that family ; a younger branch of which possesses it, as I apprehend, at present.

I REGAINED the great road, and passed through the hamlet of Old Stratford, seated on rich meadows, watered by the Ouze, which rises in this county; not remote from Brackly. This place is reasonably supposed to have been the Lactodorum, or Lactorodum, of the Itinerary, as the distance suits extremely well, and Roman coins have been found in the neighboring fields. Antiquaries derive it from Llech dwr, and Llech ryd: one signifying the stone on the water; the other, the stone of the ford:13 a name bestowed on it by the Britons, probably because the bank of the river was marked by a military stone on this great military way. I here cross the river into


which, with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, formed the country of the Catticuchlani. The present name is, according to Mr. Camden, taken from the quantity of beeches found in parts of it; a word derived from the Saxon bucken. Two arguments serve to confirm the assertion of Caesar, that this tree was not found in Britain at the time of his invasion: one is, that the woods of it are merely local, and confined to a very few of our southern counties: the other is, that the Britons had no name for it, but what they derived from the Latin fagus; for they stiled it, as we do still, Ffawydden, and Pren ffawydd .

ON crossing the Ouze I entered Stoney Stratford, a town built on each side of the Watling-street. It suffered greatly by fire on May the 19th, 1742, which almost destroyed the whole place; but it was soon restored by the vigour of English charity. One church (that of St. Giles) has never been rebuilt; the body of the other (St. Magdalene's) is restored in a very handsome manner, by Mr. Irons, architect in Warwick, and, I suppose, enlarged sufficiently to supply the want of the other. St. Giles's had been a chantry, valued at £ .20. 2s. 6d. a year; and was at the time of its ruin a curacy: St. Magdalene's was a chapel belonging to Wolverton, but is now in the presentation of the parishioners.

MY journey was continued along the Street road to the 47th stone, where, tempted by the fame of certain monuments in Blecheley church, I digressed about a mile and a quarter to the right. I found there a very fine alabaster tomb of Richard Lord Grey of Wilton, restored by the celebrated antiquarian Brown Willis, Esquire, who added an inscription, and in the front the arms. From the former we find, that besides Richard, his son Reginald, who died February 22, 1493; and his great grandson Edmund, who died in Water-hall on May 6th, 1611; were interred here.

THIS Richard Lord Grey, by will, dated at Blecheley, August 12, 1442, bequeaths his body to be buried in the church of the B. V. Mary of Blecheley; and directs his executors to find a priest, for four years, to perform divine service in the said church for his soul; and that they make a tomb of alabaster or marble, according to his state and degree. He bequeaths to the lady Margaret his wife, his manor of Burry-hall, in Essex, for life. The residue of his lands and goods he gives to his executors, to dispose of for the health of his soul; viz. the lady Margaret Grey, Robert Darcy, Esquire, John Habethal, Esquire, Roger Eton Clerc, rector of Blecheley, and William Barker .14

THE tomb is of alabaster: his figure is armed, his hair cropt, his face without a beard; round his neck is a collar of SS, and round the lower part of his armour is another collar of jewels, in the midst of which is a small shield with the cross of St. George; for he was made Knight of the Garter by Richard II. On the fingers of his left hand are not fewer than six rings.

NOTWITHSTANDING it may be thought tedious to many, yet I cannot forbear describing two monuments, full of the fashionable emblem, pun, and quibble of the times. The first is in memory of Thomas SPARKE, S. Sce . Theol. Dr. celeber. huius eccle. rector vigilantissimus ., as inscribed round the oval that contains this figure. A little altar with sparkling flames is placed near his name. The monument is a small but extremely neat one of brass, set in a white marble frame: on the top is the crest, a demi talbat rampant, studded with torteauxes, and sparks of fire issuing from his mouth: on the brass is finely engraven an altar-tomb, on the table of which is an urn, with sparks issuing from the mouth; and on the belly is written

Non extincta, sepulta licet; Scintilla favilla est.

ON the left side of the urn stands Death, in form of a skeleton, holding a spade, on the flat part of which, going to cover the mouth of the urn, is wrote Mons tegit,; and an angel in the heavens sounding a trumpet, from the end of which issues these words, Reteget nuntius iste tuba; and on a scroll, in the same hand, is written, Ista caduca rosa est: just above wltich, in the other hand of theangel, is a fresh-blown rose, inscribed Sed renovata tamen; about the angel's head, and in the clouds, are several stars: and quite at top is written, Qui multos ad justitiam adducunt, ut stellae semper splendebunt.

FAME, with her usual attributes of ears, eyes, and tongues, blowing a trumpet, stands on the other side of the urn. On each side of her are two scrolls: on one is,

Vindex fama libros fatali tollit ab urna;

on the other,

Sic Scintilla micat quern tegit atra cinis.

Fame holds in one hand a book, near the mouth of the urn, on which is written Funeral Sermons. On other books, scattered about, are inscribed, A Persuasive to Conformity; A confortable Treatise for a troubled Conscience; Motives to Qu. Elizabeth for her Successor; A Treatise of Catechising; A Confutation of J. Albin; and out of the mouth of the trumpet, The high way to Heaven. These were the works of the Doctor, who was a most famous controversialist, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. He is engraven in front of the tomb, a half-length, in gown, cassock, scarf, scull-cap, ruff, and square beard. On each side of him is a shield: on one is Scutum fidei: on the other, Arma nostra sunt spiritualia. On one side of the figure are three clergymen in their habits, kneeling, with a church by each; and beyond them two women in high-crowned hats. These five were his children, whom he admonishes, Filioli cavete vobis ab idolis; and above their heads are these lines:

Bis geniti, retinete, fidem zelumque paternum:
    Hoeredes vestri sic decet esse patris;
Sic decet, O mea tunc quam molliter ossa cubabunt
    Si licet in natis sic superesse meis:
Scintillam Scintilla meam si vestra sequetur
    Orba sua flamma mors erit ara Dei.

On the other side of his picture are represented his parishioners, with these verses:

2 Cor. iii. 5.
            Ut sacra in populo signatur epistola Pauli
                Sic mea in hoc sancto lucet imago grege.
            Corporis in tabula datur imperfecta; sed ilia
                Cordibus in vestris viva figura mei est.
            Viva mei, dixi, Christi at sit vera figura;
                Sat mihi si populus vera figura Dei.

THE Doctor died in 1616; his wife the year before. Luckily, her name was Rose; which afforded fresh matter of allusions.

Sixty-eight years a fragrant ROSE she lasted:
No vile reproach her virtues ever blasted.
Her autumn past, expects a glorious spring,
A second better life, more flourishing.

THE other is in memory of Mrs. Faith Taylor, wife of Mr. Edward Taylor, minister of the parish, with many pretty sportings on the word Faith, but the dulness of this species of epitaph has so wearied me, as I fear it has the reader, that I dare not venture on the transcript of what was probably much admired at the period of its composition.

FROM hence I got into the great road at Fenny Stratford, so called from its situation. The chapel, which is in the parish of Blecheley, was re-built, and endowed at the expence of Mr. Brown Willis and his friends. His residence was near the church of Blecheley; but, having a great predilection for the works of his own hands, he intrusted to the Reverend William Cole, then rector of the parish, the following inscription; which Mr. Cole was requested to cause to be inscribed on a white marble stone fineered with black, to be laid over him in this chapel.

Hie situs est
Brown Willis, antiquarius
Cujus Cl. Avi aeternae memoriae
Tho. Willis, archiatri totius Europae celeberrimi,
Defuncti die Sancti Martini, A. D. 1675
Haec capella exiguum monumentum est.
Obiit Feb. 5 die, Anno Domini 1760.
AEtatis suae 78.

O Christe Soter et Judex,
Huic peccatorum primo
Miserecors et propitius esto.

On the cieling are the arms of all benefactors of ten pounds and upwards. The chapel had been originally a chantry.15 The new building was dedicated to St. Martin, out of respect to his grandfather, who happened to die on that day. The same great physician first made a settlement in this parish, by the purchase of the manor of Blecheley, and that of Fenny Stratford, from the last George Villiers Duke of Buckingham.

FROM hence I kept a gentle ascent to Little Brickhill, seated on the steep of a long range of sand-hills, divided by pleasant woody dingles, which extend for a considerable way, and form a lofty frontier at this end of the county. Very soon after my passage over them, I entered the county of


and proceeded as far as Dunstable on the Watling-street, which goes directly to this town. In the beginning it crosses a most undulated descent. On the left are the woods and park of Battlesdon, a seat of Mrs. Page .16 In the bottom go through Hockley in the Hole; a long range of houses, mostly inns, built on each side of the road. The English rage of novelty is strongly tempted by one sagacious publican, who informs us on his sign, of news-papers being to be seen at his house every day in the week.

AT this place, whose proper name is Occleie, or Hockcliff, was an hospital, with a master and several brethren, dedicated to St. John the Baptist .17 In 1283 here was a feudal quarrel, between the people of the priory of Dunstaple and those of William de Muntcheny, a potent baron, in which one John the Smith was killed on the side of the priory, and Thomas Mustard, a fierce knave, on the other.18 In old times, such contests were very frequent, and very fatal: men were always formed into parties, and ready to pursue the most bloody measures on the most trivial occasions.

TWO miles farther, I reached the foot of Chalk-hill, formerly of a tremendous steepness, and the terror of country passengers; at present formed into an easy ascent. This is the first specimen the traveller meets with of the great chalky stratum which intersects the kingdom. A line drawn from Dorchester, in the county of Dorset, to the county of Norfolk, would include all the chalky beds of the kingdom; for none are found in any quantity to the west of that line. This earth was in great estimation, and an article of commerce in the time of the Romans. The workers in it had their goddess Nehelennia, who presided over it. To her we find this votive altar:

Ob merces rite conservatas
M. Secundus Silvanus
Negotor Cretarius

AFTER ascending the hill, I turned about half a mile out of the road, to visit Maiden's Bower, a very large Danish camp, of a circular form, surrounded with a great rampart and a ditch on its side: it lies on a plain, with a portion verging towards a brow, hanging over a valley. Its history is unknown; yet it merits a visit, as the camps of the Danes are not very common in our kingdom.

AFTER a mile's descent, enter Dunstable, a long town, built on each side of the Watling-street, and intersected in the middle by the Icknield-street. This town was the Magiovinum, or Magioventum, of the Itinerary; and probably had four portae, answerable to the great roads. The Icknield-street issues out on the north side of the church. Antiquarians derive the name, very properly, from Maes Gwyn, or the white field, from the color of the chalky soil. Roman money has been found about the place, which the country people call madning money; this, as Dr. Stukeley observes, can have no reference to Maiden's Bower, which belonged to another people: but on a hill, called Castle-hill, about half a mile west of it, is a Roman camp; within which, near one end, is a large mount, very hollow in the top; and near the outside of one of the ramparts is a deep hole, probably the place of the draw-well. The whole stands on a steep promontory, projecting westward.

THE place was certainly occupied by the Saxons, after the departure of the Romans. We can indeed only argue from the present name, Dun-Staple, the mart near the hill. We cannot allow the monkish legend, that it was called Dun's Stable, or the stable of a robber of that name. It probably was a waste at the time of the Conquest, as many places were, and might become a harbour of thieves, by reason of the woods with which the country was over-run. This determined Henry I. to colonize the spot; for that purpose, he encouraged people by proclamation to settle there, and, in order to destroy the shelter which the forest gave to robbers, directed the woods to be grubbed up. He also built a royal palace, called Kingsbury, 19 which stood near the church, and whose site is now occupied by a farm-house. Here he kept his Christmas in 1123, with his whole court, and received at the same time the embassy from the Earl of Anjou .20 He made the town a borough, bestowed on it a fair and a market, and various other privileges; particularly, that the inhabitants should not be liable to be called before the itinerant justices, but that their causes should be determined by the justices of the king, and a jury of twelve of the burgesses.21 He kept the town seventeen years in his own hands, and then bestowed it, with all its privileges (reserving only his royal residence) on the priory, which he founded here some time after the year 1131, for black canons, in honor of St. Peter. At the time of the dissolution, here were a prior and twelve canons, whose revenues, according to Dugdale, were £ .344. 13s. 3d. a year: to Speed, £ 402. 14s. 7d.

THE last prior was Gervase Markham, who, with his canons, subscribed to the king's supremacy in 1534; and on the dissolution, had a pension of sixty pounds a year for life. His reward was the greater, as his convent was the residence of the commissioners for carrying on the divorce between Henry VIII. and Catharine of Arragon; in which he took an active part.22 The unfortunate princess at that time resided at Ampthill, in this neighborhood.

THE church, and an arch in the wall adjoining, are the only remains of the priory. The front of the church is singular, having a gallery divided by carved gothic arches; a great door with a round arch richly carved with scrolls and ovals, including human figures; and the capitals of the pillars cut into grotesque forms. The lesser door is gothic, richly ornamented with nail heads. Between both doors is a row of false arches interlaced; the columns consist of very singular greater and lesser joints, placed alternate, not unlike one species of the fossils called entrochi .

THE steeple is attached to one side of the front, and has two rows of niches, now deprived of their statues. Formerly another tower corresponded with this: both fell down in 1221, and destroyed the prior's hall and part of the church.23 The body was rebuilt in 1273, by the parishioners; but one Henry Chedde went to the greatest expence.24 The inside of the church is supported by six round arches, all plain except one: the windows above are also round at the top. Either the supposed date of the rebuilding is wrong, or the Saxon or round-arched mode must have continued later than is generally allowed.

THE church was originally in form of a cross, with a tower in the center. Two of the vast pillars which supported it are still to be seen at the east end.

ABOVE the altar is a large and handsome painting of the Last Supper by Sir James Thornhill; which, with the plate and rich pulpit-cloth, were the gift of two widows, of the name of Cart and Ashton .

I OMITTED in its place a visit made to the priory by Henry III. and his family; when the monks presented the king with a gilt cup, and the queen with another, and gave his son Edward and daughter Margaret a gold clasp apiece. In return, the royal visitants bestowed on the church eight pieces of silk; and the king gave C shillings for making of a thuribule and a pix. 25

I MET with some antient tombs, dated between the years 1400 and 1500; but none of dignity sufficient to be particularised. Sir Kenelm Digby's famous pedigree-book has preserved one, in memory of William Mulso and his wife.26 Both are dressed in their gowns, with their hands in the attitude of prayer. At his feet is a group of eleven sons; at her's, another of seven daughters. The attributes of the four evangelists are placed at the corners. Between their feet were these lines:

Hic William Mulso sibi quam sociavit et Alice
Marmore sub duro conclusit sors generalis:
Ter tres, bis quinos hic natos fertur habere
Per sponsos binos, Deus hiis clemens miserere.

This gentleman was of Thingdon, in the county of Northampton. The name of the lady, Alice Marmore, the same that Fuller, by a singular misconception of the epitaph, reports to have had "nineteen children at five births, viz. three several times three children at a birth, and five at a birth, two other times."27

BESIDES the religious house, was one of friars preachers, who settled here about 1259. It was valued at only 41. 18s. 4d; and at the dissolution its site was granted to Sir William Herbert. These brethren, as the Chronicle says, came sorely against the will of the monks, per summam industriam et seductionem; but by their interest with the king, queen, and courtiers, got leave to stay here.28

It seems the inhabitants of the priory did not like such insinuating interlopers as Chaucer describes this order to have been, who were sure to win all the penitent males and females.

Full swetely herde he confession,
And pleasant was his absolution.

HERE was a house or hospital for lepers. Whether it was the same with that marked at the post-house, a mile west of the town in the new map, I cannot determine.

THE schools here were probably considerable; for I find the quarrels between the scholars and the townsmen important enough to be mentioned in the Chronicle.

THIS town is now supported chiefly by the great passage of travellers. A small neat manufacture of straw-hats, and baskets, and toys, maintains many of the poor. In old time the breweries raised many of the inhabitants to great wealth. We are told by Holinshed of one William Murlie, an eminent brewer in this town, who sallied out in the time of Henry V. to join the foolish insurrection of the Lollards, near London, followed by two led horses with gilt trappings. He also took with him a pair of gilt spurs, ready to wear on his receiving from Lord Cobham the honour of knighthood,29 but had the hard luck to be taken, and hung, with them about his neck.

ABOUT four miles from Dunstable I passed by Market Cell, at present a gentleman's seat; formerly a nunnery of Benedictines, dedicated to the Holy Trinity of the Wood. Legend ascribes its origin to Roger, a monk of Saint Alban, who, on his return from Jerusalem, led here an eremetical life; and, taking under his care Christiana, a rich virgin of Huntingdon, inspired her with the same contempt of the world. She succeeded to his cell, resisted many temptations, was visited by many divine visions, and many miracles were wrought in her favour.30 She was patronized by Geoffry, elected abbot of St. Albans in 1119, who built and endowed a house and constituted Christiana first abbess. The site of some adjoining lands were the gift of the dean and chapter of St. Paul ,31 the rest of the pious work resulted solely from the abbot, who twice rebuilt the same, after it had suffered by fire:32 but Matthew Paris complains, that all this was done at the expence of the convent of St. Albans, and even without its consent, to the great injury of the church. In the time of Henry VIII. Humphry Bouchere, 33 "base sunne to the late Berners, did much cost in translating of the priory into a maner place;" i. e. converting it into a mansion for himself, but left it unfinished. It probably was granted to him; but it afterwards was bestowed by Edward VI. on George Ferrers. At the dissolution it was valued by Dugdale at £ 114 16s. 1d. a year; by Speed at £ 143 8s. 3d. 34

IT appears that these religious were grievously oppressed by a neighboring knight; of whom they complained in certain lines too ludicrous to be inserted.35 Whether they got any redress does not appear.

AFTER passing through the village of Market-Street, built on each side of the Watling-street road, I entered the county of


and near the twenty eighth mile stone leave on the right Flamsted where stood a small priory of Benedictine nuns, founded in the time of King Stephen, by Roger de Tonei. The manor had been granted by the Conqueror to Ralph de Tonei. His predecessor was a Saxon knight called Thurnoth, who in the true spiritof the times, engaged with thirteen soldiers, Waldef, and Thurman, to protect all passengers, from the thieves and wild beasts which then infested the road, and in time of war, to protect the church of St. Albans with all their might. Leoftan, abbot of that convent in the time of the Confessor, facilitated the undertaking, by cutting down the great woods on the side of the Watling-street which gave shelter to robbers. He bestowed on Thurnoth this manor: who, in return, presented Leofftan with five ounces of gold and a fair palfrey. Thurnoth at the Conquest resisted the power of the Norman invader; who bestowed it on de Tonei and directed that the same services should be strictly performed to the abbey.36

ABOUT three miles further, go through Redburn, a small town, built like Market Street on each side of the antient road. At this place were discovered the bones of Saint Amphibalus, the noble Briton, who lodging at the house of St. Alban at Verulam, proved the means of his conversion. In the Diocletian persecution he was diligently sought after; but St. Alban generously determined not to give up his guest, promoted his escape by putting on his preceptor's cloak, and suffering himself to be seized by the soldiers in his stead.37 Amphibalus for a time evaded their fury, but was at length seized, and underwent a most cruel death,38 on the spot on which his pious convert was martyred. The Christians stole the body and gave it a private interment at this place. In 1178, the reliques were removed to St. Albans, enshrined near those of his fellow-sufferer, and a prior and three monks, with 20s. a year, were appointed guardians of the sacred deposit. I am sorry to find, that, after all, the very existence of this saint is doubted; for there are some who believe that the saint was no more than an amphibalus, a long cloak, which St. Alban, before he went to execution, threw about him; which being at length personified, was canonized, and received into the Kalendar.39

A CELL consisting of a prior and a few Benedictines from St. Albans, was placed here. It was dedicated to St. Amphibalus and his companions, and was inhabited before 1195. After the dissolution, it was, with the manor, granted to John Cork. 40

THE present great road, a little beyond this place, quits the Watling-street, which runs direct on the right to Verulam. The former can boast of no great extent of view, but is bounded by beautiful risings varied with woods, and inclosures dressed with a garden-like elegance. The common soil is almost covered with flints: the stratum beneath is chalk, which is used for a manure. Pliny describes this British earth under the title Creta argentaria, and adds petitur ex alto, in centenos pedes, actis plerunque puteis, ore angustatis intus, ut in metallis spatiante vena. Hac maxime Britannia utitur .41 This very method is used in the county at present. The farmer sinks a pit, and (in the terms of a miner) drives out on all sides, leaving a sufficient roof, and draws up the chalk in buckets, through a narrow mouth. Pliny informs us, in his remarks on the British marls, that they will last eighty years, and that there is not an example of any person being obliged to marl his land twice in his life.42 An experienced farmer, whom I met with in Hertfordshire, assured me, that he had about thirty years before made use of this manure on a field of his, and that, should he live to the period mentioned by the Roman naturalist, he thought he should not have occasion for a repetition.

THIS bottom is watered by the small stream of the Verlume, Ver, or Mure; which rises at Rowbeach, beyond Market-street; flows by Flamsted, Redburn, and St. Albans ; and loses itself and name in the Coln, a little N. E. of Colney-street.

1 Sax. Chr. 107.

2 Ibid. 108.

3 Tanner, 388.

4 Bridges, 290.

5 Collins's Peerage, v. 50.

6 Collins's Peerage, v. 50.

7 Collins, 52.

8 Designed by W. Kent.

9 Morton, 443.

10 Manwood's Forest Laws, 39.

11 Leges Saxon. 86.

12 Saxon Chron. 108.

13 See Gale, 60, and Burton, 144.

14 His will, dated Aug. 12, 1442. Mr. Cole's MSS.

15 Ecton, 217.

16 Now of Sir Gregory Page, Bart. ED.

17 Tanner, 8.

18 Chron. Dunstaple, ii. 483.

19 Stow, 136. Dugdale Monast. ii. 132.

20 Sax. Chr. 224. Madox Antiq. Exch. i. 12.

21 Dugdale Mon. ii. 133.

22 Willis's Abbies, ii. 2.

23 Chron. de Dunstaple, i. 126.

24 The same, 417.

25 Chron. de Dunstaple, i. 277.

26 The same, 598.

27 British Worthies, p. 119.

28 Chr. Dunst. i. 341.

29 Hollinshed p. 544.

30 Dugdale Monast. i. 350 &c. &c.

31 Ibid. ii. 872.

32 Matthew Paris, 1013.

33 Leland Itin. i. 116.

34 Tanner, 4.

35 See Weever, 585.

36 Chauncy 432, who by mistake calls this de Tonei Roger; but in page 565 gives him his right name.

37 Bede de Br. Eccl. 539.

38 Weever's Fun. Mon. 585.

39 Usher de Br. Eccl. 539.

40 Tanner, 185.

41 Lib. xvii. c. 8.

42 The same.

Thomas Pennant, The Journey from Chester to London (London: Wilkie and Robinson, 1811)

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