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The ancient town of Whitby, in Yorkshire, owes its origin to the Abbey founded by Oswy, king of Northumberland, in 657, to discharge a vow he had made, that if God would grant him a victory over the pagan king of Mercia, he would found a monastery, and devote his daughter Elfleda, then scarcely a year old, to a life of celibacy within its walls. The building ■was appropriated to monks and nuns of the Benedictine order. Lady Hilda, the first abbess, was renowned for her sanctity, and various miracles have been attributed to her. Among other traditions, it is related that those curious fossils, the ammonites, which abound in this district, and which bear a strong resemblance to a coiled-up serpent, but without the head, were originally living snakes, which infested the precincts of the Abbey, but by the prayers of the holy Abbess were driven over the cliff into the sea, their heads being broken off by the fall. Another tradition is that sea-fowl, flying over a certain tract of land in the neighbourhood, had not power to proceed further, but fell to the ground, drawn down by some attractive quality communicated to the soil through the influence of Lady Hilda's prayers. Sir Walter Scott, in his poem of Marmion, introduces a party of Whitby nuns, relating their tales in a fireside conversation with the sisterhood of Lindisfarne—
They told me how, in their convent cell,
And how, of thousand snakes, each one
When holy Hilda prayed;
The Abbey was destroyed by the Danes, but rebuilt after the Conquest. In the reign of Henry the Eighth, it shared the fate of other monastic institutions of England. The ruins of its magnificent church still remain, but their beauty was much impaired, about three years ago, by the fall of the great tower, which was one hundred and four feet high. This venerable ruin stands upon a high cliff, on the east side of the town, and commands an extensive and beautiful prospect; including the town, the river Esk, the adjacent country, and the German Ocean.
Whitby is situated on the steep banks of the Esk, and is, in consequence, irregularly built. It was, at the time of the Dissolution, only a fishing village, but the erection of alum-manufactories in the vicinity, and, afterwards, the introduction of ship-building and the whale-fishery, caused a great influx of inhabitants. At the last census the population amounted to 10,429.
The manufacture of alum was brought into this
country in 1595, by Sir Thomas Chaloner, who erected the first alum-work near Guisborough, twentyone miles from Whitby. It had been, for several ages before, a monopoly in the hands of the court of Rome, but Sir Thomas, having, during his travels in Italy, discovered that the mineral from which it was made, was the same as one which abounded on his own estate, engaged a number of the pope's workmen to accompany him to England. It is said that, to avoid the discovery of his purpose, he was obliged to convey them on ship-board concealed in large casks. The country adjacent to Whitby, throughout an extent of nearly thirty miles along the coast, and from eight to twelve in breadth within land, is an almost uninterrupted alum rock, lying at different depths.
The ship-builders of Whitby, have long been noted for building excellent vessels, and during the last war, this trade was carried on to a great extent. It is now, however, in a very depressed state. About two hundred and sixty vessels, admeasuring 42,000 tons, belong to the port.
The northern whale-fishery was begun here eighty years ago. It has fluctuated greatly, ai far as twenty vessels having occasionally been engaged in it: at present there are only two. Mr. William Scoresby, father of the Rev. Wm. Scoresby, of Exeter, sailed from this port, from time to time, during a great number of years, and was, perhaps, the most successful whale-fisher ever known; having brought home, in twenty-eight voyages, five hundred and forty whales. The Rev. Wm. Scoresby himself, before he entered his present profession, commanded a vessel in the same trade j and his well-known work on the Arctic Regions, was the result of observations made during several voyages to these seas.
The Harbour of Whitby is very much protected by several substantial stone piers, which have, within the last few years, been greatly improved, particularly the principal pier, on which a handsome lighthouse, eighty feet high, in the form of a Grecian Doric column, was built in 1831, within the short space of eleven weeks, under the superintendence of the present ingenious engineer of the piers. This pier is about six hundred yards long, and forms a beautiful marine promenade.
The cliffs on the coast are generally very lofty and abrupt, and as the sea is continually encroaching on the land, large masses of rock frequently fall, and sometimes occasion fatal accidents'.
These cliffs, especially the beds of alum shale, abound in a great variety of fossil remains. Besides the different species of ammonite, and various other petrified shell-fish, some animals of the crocodile kind have been discovered. One of the most perfect specimens of these is preserved in the Museum of the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society, which contains an extensive collection of the natural curiosities of the district. A large quantity of jet, likewise, is dug out of the rocks. It is found in compressed masses of from half an inch, to two inches thick. The manufacture of it into beads, rings, snuff-boxes, and other fancy ornaments, which was begun here nearly thirty years ago, has now become an important branch of business, about one hundred and fifty persons being employed in it.
A singular service is annually performed here by the owners or tenants of certain lands in the neighbourhood. On the morning of Ascension Eve, they
* A singularly melancholy occurrence of this kind happened, nearly twenty-five years ago, about ten miles north of Whitby, w mist two girls, sisters, were sitting on the beach, a stone, which, by
i considerable distance along the shore.
erect, in a particular t<u» or the harbour, a small hedge or fence, of stake and tether (that is, slender upright posts driven into the ground, and secured by hazels intertwined horizontally, after the manner of wicker-work). The bailiff to the lord of the manor attends, and a man with a horn calls, " out on you! out on you !" whilst the hedge is setting. The origin of this custom has been ascribed in an ancient legend, which has been often reprinted at Whitby, to the murder of an old hermit at Eskdaleside, about five miles from the town, in the reign of Henry the Second. But the authenticity of this legend has been disputed, and the custom is believed rather to have arisen from the ancient practice of the tenants of the Abbey lands, meeting annually to repair the fence of a store-yard belonging to the convent, which adjoined the river. The legend itself, with some particulars relative to the Abbey, may be found in the notes to Marmion, in which poem the story is thus introduced, in the conversation previously quoted.
Then Whitby's nuns exulting told.
How to their house three barons bold
While horns blow out a note of shame,
And monks cry " Fie upon your name!
In wrath for loss of sylvan game.
"This on ascension-day, each year,
While labouring on our harbour-pier,
Must Herbert, Bruce, and Percy hear Can/o 11
THE PARISH MINISTER.
Tin. iti: is a charm in the week-day services of a parish minister, which has not been duly estimated either by philanthropists or patriots. He, in the first instance, meets with general, and I had almost said universal, welcome from the families—at least from those in the humbler classes of society. His official and recognised character furnishes him with a ready passport to every habitation; and he will soon find that a visit to the house of a parishioner is the surest way of finding an access to his heart. Evni the hardiest and most hopeless in vice cannot altogether withstand this influence; and at times, in their own domestic history, there are opportunities, whether by sickness, or disaster, or death, which afford a mighty advantage to the Christian kindness that is brought to bear upon them. It is thus that nature and Providence may be said to act as the handmaids of Christianity, by the frequent openings which they afford to its officiating ministers; and of which, if he do avail himself, he is sure to obtain a vast moral ascendancy over the people. Even his courtesies on the way-side are not thrown away upon them; and little do they know of humanity, who would undervalue the most passing smiles and salutations which reciprocate between a clergyman and his people, whether as the symptoms or as the efficients of a cordiality the best fitted to soften the asperities of our nature, and so to cement and harmonize the jarring elements of a commonwealth. And his weekday attentions, and their Sabbath attendance, go hand in hand. A house-going minister wins for himself a church-going people. The bland and benignant influences of his friendly converse, of his private and particular affection, are enlisted on the side of their piety; nor can we imagine a position of greater effectiveness than his, whence to bear on the
hearts and habits of a surrounding population.
It is an unaccountable boldness to reason against Him, who hath given us our reason, and to undermine Hit authority by those very powers, which were designed to promote His glory.
ANCIENT CASTLES-.; <
As we intend to furnish accounts and engravings of various ancient Castles, a short memoir relating to English Castles in general, and to the manner in which they were built, may tend to give additional interest to the particular accounts.
Few castles, it is supposed, which are met with in our country, are of older date than the Conquest, (1066); for, although some such structures existed in the periods of the Saxons, the Romans, and possibly even the early Britons, they had by that time, 'wing to neglect or invasion, been reduced to such a '-ate of decay, as to be but of little use for the purposes of defence. "In those days" (that is, of the Saxons), says Dugdale, "were very few such defensible places, as we now call Castles; so that, though the English were a bold and warlike people, yet, for want of the like strong-holds, they were much the less able to resist their enemies."
As soon as William the First had established his authority, he lost no time in building castles throughout England, and in repairing and enlarging such as he found here; for this, he had two reasons, —to guard against foreign invasions, and to protect his Norman followers, to whom he had allotted estates, from the resentment of the former possessors.
The number of castles increased, as the feudal law, which William had introduced from France, gathered strength. The castles became the heads of baronies; each castle was a manor, and its governor the lord of that manor. The great Norman barons who held their lands from the crown had their vassals, many of them English, under them; and to tyrannize with impunity, it was necessary that they should fortify themselves by means of stone walls. In the troublesome reigns which succeeded, the barons and leaders of parties resorted still more frequently to this practice, and the number of castles, towards the end of Stephen's reign, amounted to eleven hundred and fifteen!
The lords of castles had, in process of time assumed such a dangerous degree of power, not only oppressing and despoiling their weaker neighbours, but exercising even royal privileges, that Henry the Second stipulated for the destruction of many of the castles, and prevented the erection of others, except by the King's special license. Royal castles, for the defence of the country, were, however, erected, when judged necessary, at the public expense. These, as well as such as fell to the crown by forfeiture, were usually placed in the custody of some trusty persons who were called governors, or constables. They were also occasionally confided to the care of the sheriff of the county, who used-them as prisons, i
But although a view of the generality of these rugged fortresses, destined chiefly for the purposes of war or defence, suggests to the imagination, dungeons, chains, and a painful assemblage of horrors, yet some of them were often the scenes of magnificence and hospitality, ,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold
or where, in the days of chivalry, the wandering knight, or distressed princess, found honourable reception; the holy palmer repose for his wearied limbs; and the poor and helpless their daily bread.
The materials of which castles were built, varied according to the places of their erection; but the manner of building seems to have been pretty uniform. The outsides of the walls generally consisted of stones nearest at hand; the insides were filled up with fragments of stone, or sometimes, chalk, and a
large supply of fluid mortar. When the Normans found the remains of an ancient building on a site which suited them, they often added their own work, thus leaving a mixed piece of architecture of Norman and Saxon parts, with, not unfrequently, a quantity of Roman bricks.
The general shape and plan 'of a castle, depended on the form of the ground occupied: the favourite situation was, for the sake of security, an eminence, or the bank of a river. The names and uses of the different parts remain to be described, for a better illustration of which we have given the annexed engraving.
The first outwork of an ancient castle was the barbican, (a word supposed to be of Arabic origin). This was a watch-tower, for the purpose of noticing any approach from a distance, and was usually advanced beyond the ditch, at the edge of which it joined the draw-bridge. The next work was the castle-ditch or moat, which was wet or dry according to the circumstances of the place: the former being preferred. When it was dry, there were sometimes underground passages, through which the cavalry could sally. Over the moat, by means of the drawbridge, you passed to the ballium or bat/ley, a space. immediately within the outer wall. This latter was called the wall of the ballium, and was generally flanked with towers, and had an embattled parapet. The entrance into the ballium, was by a strong gate between two towers, secured by a portcullis, or falling door, armed with iron spikes like a harrow, which could be let fall at pleasure. Over the gate were rooms for the porter of the castle; the towers served for soldiers on guard. When there was a double line of walls, as in the annexed cut, the spaces next each wall, were called the outer and inner ballia. Within the ballium were the lodgings and barracks for the garrison and workmen, wells, chapels, and sometimes even a monastery: large mounts were often thrown up in this place to' command the neighbouring country.
On a height, and generally in the centre, stood the keep, or donjon, sometimes called the tower. This waslhe citadel or last retreat of the garrison, and was often surrounded by a ditch with a drawbridge &c, similar to those at the outworks, and with additional walls and towers. In large castles, it wai usually a high square tower, of four or five stories, having turrets at each corner; in these turrets were the staircases, and frequently, as in Dover and Rochester castles, a well. The walls of the keep were always of great thickness, which has enabled them to withstand the attacks of time and weather; the keep, or donjon, being the only part now surviving of many an ancient castle. Here were gloomy cells, appropriated as the governor's state-rooms; the inmates, for the sake of additional strength, denying themselves the luxury of windows. Small openings in the wall served the double purpose of admitting a little light, and enabling those within to discharge their arrows at the enemy. The following account of the siege of Bedford castle, by Henry the Third, given in Camden's Britannia, is interesting, as containing a summary of the principal portions of the building.
"The castle was taken by four assaults: in the first was taken the barbican; in the second, the outer bail (ballium); at the third attack, the wall by the old tower was thrown down by the miners, where, with great danger, they possessed themselves of the inner bail through a chink; at the fourth assault, the miners set fire to the tower, so that the smoke burst out, and the tower itself was cloven to that degree, as to show visibly some broad chinks; whereupon the enemy surrendered."
Castles, in process of time, soon became of little use as fortresses: the change in the art of wo r arought about by the invention of gunpowder, the more settled state of the nation, Scotland becoming part of the dominions of the King of England, the influence of our navy, and the abolition of the feudal system, all tended to diminish the importance of these ancient safeguards; and, with the progress of civilization and national improvement, we trace the gradual change in the construction of castles; till, by the admission of light and air, and some degree of ornament, the harsh and gloomy features of the massive Norman pile became softened down into the refined and comfortable aspect of the castellated house of the time of Henry the Eighth and Elizabeth.
In the reign of Charles the First, however, shortly before the civil war, and probably with the prospect of the awful events which followed in view, a commission was appointed to inquire into the state of the ancient castles. Many of these, during the subsequent troubles, were garrisoned and defended. Not a few were afterwards destroyed by order of the Parliament, and others were left to the ravages of time and weather. Some of these monuments of
former grandeur have been torn down for the sake of the materials, or for the purpose of building on the same site. The demolition of an ancient structure, when it can be spared, must ever be a subject of regret. The venerable ruins of castles, for instance, are not only historically curious, but, to the reflecting mind, they suggest a pleasing comparison of the present times with those when such prisonlike dwellings were erected, or again brought into use, when this country was harassed by the worst form of war; when the son was armed against the father, and brother slaughtered brother; when the lives, honour, and property of the people were subject to the violence and caprice of foreign barons and when it could not be said, as in a proper sense it is now not only said, but felt, that an Englishman's house is his Castle.
Having alluded to the attack and defence of these fortified places, we subjoin engravings of two of the principal machines employed on such occasions One is a Moveable Tower, in which the besiegers approached the walls. It moved upon four small wheels, and consisted of different stories, on each of which archers were placed, who annoyed the soldiers on the ramparts, while the men below worked the battering-ram against the walls.
The next is a representation of a terrible engine, called the Catapulta, which, by a sudden jerk, slung large stones and arrows with amazing force. In those dreadful times, there was also a machine in use, by which not only mill-stones but the carcases of dead horses, and even, sometimes, living men, were hurled among the enemy's ranks
THE MOVEABLE TOWER.
The village of Upchurch, in the county of Kent, is situated on an eminence commanding an extensive view of the river Medway, and the surrounding country.
As far as eye can strain, roll the proud waters of the Thames, which, uniting with the Medway at the Nore, are lost in the German Ocean.
It is impossible to forget the beautiful description of this river given by Sir John Denham :— Thames, the most loved of all the ocean's sons By his old sire, to his embraces runs; Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea, Like nywtal life to meet eternity. Tho' with those streams he no resemblance hold, Whose foam is amber, and whose gravel gold, His genuine and less guilty wealth t' explore— Search not his bottom, but survey his shore. No unexpected inundations spoil, The mower's hopes, nor mock the plowm in's toil; But, godlike, his unwearied bounty flows, First loves to do, then loves the good he does. Nor are his blessings to his banks confin'd, But free and common as the sea and wind; When he to boast, or to dispense his stores, Full of the tribute of his grateful shores. Visits the world, and in his flying towers, Brings home to us, and makes both Indies ours. O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream, My great example, as it is my theme! Tho deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull; Strong without rage; without overflowing, full.
The high road from Dover to London passes about two miles distant. Although the village itself can claim but little interest, the church, and a creek which bounds the parish on the south-west, in which some antiquities have recently been discovered, may excite the curiosity of the antiquary.
The church of Upchurch, of which a sketch is given, is remarkable for the odd construction of its tower, having, as it were, a double roof, the upper one octangular; this, no doubt, was intended to make it a more conspicuous object to vessels navigating the Medway. The length of the church, internally, not including the belfry, is 96 feet, and its width 54. It consists of three aisles, which run the whole length of the building, and contains much more room than is occupied by the present decreased number of inhabitants, the population of the parish amounting only to about 400.
The pavement of the Southeast Chancel, which is used as a Sunday-school, is composed of small square tiles, of various patterns; in some instances, several tiles form but one pattern, the circles crossing from one tile to another. They are rapidly becoming obliterated, by the traffic of the children;
but, however the lover of antiquity may regret that these curious remains were not removed to a less frequented spot, the lover of religion will not lament their destruction, when he reflects, that the footsteps of children, assembled in the House of their Maker, to read his holy word, and lisp his praise, and not the hand of violence, as history records has too often been the case, have effaced their impressions.
On the south side of the altar remain three stone seats, divided by arms, which in the Catholic times were occupied by the priests not engaged in the service. The pillars in the great chancel have clusters of small ones surrounding them, similar to those in Canterbury Cathedral, surmounted with capitals of wrought tracery. Under the North-east chancel is a charnel house, containing the mouldering remains of former generations. There is a tradition that a battle took place with the Danes in the neighbourhood of the river, and that the remains of the slaughtered were deposited here, when the Crypt was built; the sexton, probably, in the execution of his office, may have increased their number. The ceiling is ornamented with ribs of freestone.
The visiter of this unfrequented spot may draw a useful lesson from the fragments of mortality with which he is surrounded; and, if of a contemplative mind, will perceive the vanity of those little distinctions which set us here in opposition to each other. The vain-glorious may learn, that pride will not preserve their ashes from mingling, some time or other, with those of their ignoble brethren; for the curse, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," is equally the inheritance of all. The humble-minded Christian will derive, from the same source, comfort and good hope, being certified that one day they shall revive again, and be united to their kindred spirit, and he will answer in the affirmative, this question, "Son of man, can these bones live?"
Hasted, in his History of Kent, remarks, "that the noxious vapours arising from the marshes, subject the inhabitants to continued intcrmittents, and shorten their lives at a very early period." Agues are certainly prevalent at particular seasons, but he concluded too hastily, in saying that the inhabitants are generally short-lived. At the present time, living witnesses would confute his observation. But since the days of that writer, the surface of the country is very much improved; trees have been felled, and woods grubbed up, whereby a freer current of air has been admitted. A great part of the flint required for the repairs of the streets of the metropolis, is obtained from this parish.
The annexed engravings represent some of the jars and vessels recently discovered at Upchxirch, at low water, imbedded three feet in the blue clay. Several pieces have been found fused together, which evidently show that here was a pottery, and not a place of sepulture. This circumstance, no doubt, hastened the ingress of the waters.
4NCIINT VESSELS FOUND AT VFCHVRCH.