Obrázky stránek

places. Altogether, this gatehouse affords a very good idea of the stronghold of a baronial mansion.

ment, and very handsomely fitted up. The room is large and lofty; and is provided with a music-gallery, withdrawing-room, and the other appurtenances of an old hall. The walls are covered with carved oak panels; the roof is also panelled. The fire-place has some good carving of the arms of the Boleyns and their alliances, supported by well-designed figures of angels: on one of the shields the arms of Henry VIII. are empanelled. This hall seems to have been remodelled after the castle became the property of the Boleyns. A few years back it was carefully repaired and refitted, and is now the most completely-furnished room in the whole edifice. When it was 'restored' what remained of the old Boleyn furniture was collected and placed here, and contributes not a little to the general effect. The chairs and sofas are not only of antique form, but retain their original covering of that needle-work for which the English ladies of Anne Boleyn's day were so famous. There is a feebly supported tradition that some of these covers are of Anne's own embroidery. At one time the furniture of Hever must have been of rare value, but the costlier articles were scattered by the auctioneer. Some of the curious fire-dogs, with other relics, are now at Knole. We must not quit the hall without mentioning that there are several portraits on the walls. One is pointed out as the family portrait of Anne Boleyn, and it is added that it was painted shortly before her execution. To us it seems to bear little resemblance to the authentic portraits of her: we do not believe it is even a copy of her portrait-we need hardly add, that it is not an original. The other portraits are worthless as pictures —but they help the general effect of the room.

On emerging from the gateway we find ourselves in a stately quadrangular court-yard, surrounded by buildings, evidently not all of equal antiquity, but yet having all somewhat of an antique aspect. The whole is in good repair, but not in its ancient state. The fronts were once fancifully painted; but no trace of painting is now visible. We cross the court-yard (which in passing, we notice, retains the old red-brick pavement) and enter the gateway directly opposite to that we have just quitted. On the left is the dining-hall: this is a room fit for the ordinary refectory of a noble family before ancient hospitality was given up. Not so stately as the older hall we have recently come from, it is yet a goodly room; and while the master of the house with his family and his guests have places apart, there is ample room for the numerous domestics, and also for the humble dependent or stranger who may be a casual participant at the plenteous board. The room is large, and of proportionate height: the ceiling is rather elaborately ornamented. On one side is a huge fire-place. The long tables may have served when the Earl of Wiltshire was lord of Hever Castle.. But the ancient hangings are gone; no banners float over head; neither arms, nor helmets, nor broad antlers hang upon the walls. As the old castle is degraded into a farm-house, so the old hall is made to serve as the farm-house kitchen. Yet there is some good even in this use of it a bright fire is ever burning in the huge fireplace, and its cheerful blaze lights up the old walls in a way that contrasts quite gratefully in comparison with the ungénial chill that pervades the ancient halls which We might be led to repeople the old hall with its are kept merely for show in so many a lordly dwelling. early tenants; to fancy the Hevers or the Boleyns sit- Passing through the hall, we proceed up what is ting here in their dignity, at a court-baron, or as sheriffs called the Grand Staircase,' to the Long Gallery, or of Kent, or presiding at the banquet, or listening to ball-room. This is a noticeable apartment: it is very some goodly interlude and merry: or place the bluff long, but narrow, and the ceiling is low. The sides are monarch in the chair of state to receive the homage of of panelled oak; the ceiling is also divided into panels. the surrounding 'squires :-but our guide spoils the The floor is of oak, rather too rudely put together, we fancy, if we venture to utter it aloud, by the assurance should fancy, to be pleasant to ladies'' twinkling feet." that the old dining-room was on the other side of the On one side, at equal distances apart, are three recesses: court-yard; and that as for the king, he always saw one of them is a large bay window, the middle one is company up in the long gallery. We cannot say nay for the fire. Altogether the room will probably remind to this, and so we will pass on, only intimating that the visitor of the Long Gallery at Haddon, to which it this hall was probably the state dining-room of the bears a very marked resemblance. The three recesses Hevers, as the other may have been the ordinary one there, however, are all bay windows. of the Boleyns. This hall is reached by a winding stair- at Hever is in its present state evidently of the Tudor case in one of the towers: the visitor may, if he pleases, period. It was doubtless the construction of a Boleyn, ascend by it to the battlements on the summit of the-perhaps of Anne's father. In her day it was at any tower, but owing to the lowness of the site there is rate in its greatest splendour; and, filled with such a little prospect; he must not, however, descend the company as sometimes were assembled in it, must have stairs without stepping into some one of the little presented a striking spectacle. We might be sure, if chambers in order to see the way in which they were tradition were silent respecting it, that Anne's lovercontrived for the annoyance of an enemy. The loop- the great master of revels-would have holes he will observe were well-adapted for discharging arrows through. The guard-rooms are also worth looking into; and on returning to the gateway, it will be well just to notice the portcullises, and some other of the original fittings which yet remain in their proper

The long gallery

[ocr errors]

"A noble and a fair assembly Some night to meet here-he could do no less, Out of the great respect he bore to beautyand entreat An hour of revels with them."

[graphic][merged small][subsumed]

And we can easily fancy how the little maiden's heart would flutter when the king "took her out" to lead the brawls.

Tradition has fixed chiefly on the bay window for the scene of its tales of Anne and her lover. Here, it relates, she sat and watched, when she anticipated his coming. A lattice is shown, from which she used to wave her handkerchief what time her royal admirer sounded his bugle when he had reached the summit of the hill, some half-mile off, where first the towers of Hever become visible from the road; or when sorrowing over his departure she caught the last glimpse of his portly form. It hardly needs tradition to tell that here was the fond pair's favourite seat; the seat in a sunny bay is, we know,

"For whispering lovers made."

In this bay-window, too, we are assured, was placed Henry's chair of state when the neighbouring gentry were admitted to a levée. At the end of the room a trap-door is pointed out, which opens into the dungeon'-a gloomy chamber which, you are told, was intended for a hiding-place in time of trouble. As if to counterbalance the bit of sentiment in which she had indulged at the bay-window, Tradition repeats another story of rather a grim character. When the king, she tells, was smitten by the charms of Jane Seymour, he

became perplexed how best to rid himself of poor Anne Boleyn. To have two divorced wives living, was rather beyond what he liked to venture on. To cut off the head of one had not yet suggested itself to him. He determined to try whether starvation would not answer his purpose. Anne was sent down to Hever and consigned to the dungeon. When her keeper thought time enough had elapsed, he opened the door and brought out her body. She appeared to be dead, but after a brief space, she revived, and his heart failed him. Instead of replacing her in the cell he carried her to London; and then the king took a more legal course.

They don't repeat this legend at Hever now. Visitors are grown critical, and guides taciturn.

Another room will be shown the stranger :-Anne Boleyn's bed-room. It is worth seeing it is but scantily furnished, but what furniture it has is ancient. The bed is affirmed to be the veritable one she slept in. It is an antique-looking one, with heavy yellow hangings. The chairs and tables, and a strong carved oak chest, are said to have belonged to the Boleyns. Write your name in the visitor's book,-and let us away.

There is nothing to attract the visitor in the village of Hever, which is, in fact, merely a gathering on a hillside of a few very sad-looking cottages; but he should remember that by every old baronial hall, as by every

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][subsumed]

old abbey, the neighbouring church is almost sure to deserve inspection. The keys can always be easily attained, and he should spend a quarter of an hour in looking over it. Hever Church is but a humble one, yet some few features that will repay the search for them, and a few monuments of the lords of Hever, will be found there. The altar tomb, to the memory of Anne's father, the Earl of Wiltshire, has upon the top of it a brass, representing the earl in the full costume of a knight of the garter, which is a very superior example of the incised work of the sixteenth century.

In front of the little village inn hangs a dismal portraiture of King Harry's head. Why he should be chosen to 'predominate' over a hostel here is rather hard to guess. Was it made to swing here from admiration or abhorrence?—or, as we heard suggested, as a warning to the wives of Hever?


We are now to visit a place of more pleasing associations, and in every sense of greater interest. Penshurst is one of the most cherished spots all over our land:

"For Sidney here was born;

Sidney, than whom no greater, braver man,
His own delightful genius ever feigned,
Illustrating the vales of Arcady

With courteous courage and with loyal loves."(Southey.) Other associations it has of rare worth, but Sidney's is the ruling memory. His name recurs to the recollection whenever Penshurst is spoken of; and when we visit the place, everything there serves to deepen the impression. It is Sidney's Penshurst.

Very difficult would it be to select a more pleasant spot for a day's holiday. The railway carries you within a couple of miles of the house and village; the rooms occupy an hour or two in the best manner; the park is full of beauty, and not devoid of special attractions; and there are charming walks about the surrounding country. You may find enough to occupy without satiety or weariness, the longest summer's day; and after a day spent as delightfully as profitably, you can return by the evening train speedily, and without fatigue. Penshurst is only three or four miles distant from Hever, and they may both be easily examined on the same day.

Come with us now and spend a day at Penshurst. Tempting are the lanes we pass through, and more tempting the peeps we get from them. But we linger not till we arrive at a somewhat elevated spot, from which we see stretched before us the long front of the mansion, and the divided stream of the Medway lying just below it. We enter the park by an avenue of noble elms, and behold the mansion just before us. (Cut, No. 2.) As we look more closely at it, we notice that its several parts are plainly of very different ages and architectural character. The older portions, which we see at the sides, are broken into not unpleasing irregularity: the

chief front, with its central entrance-tower and corresponding wings, is more recent though still old; in appearance it is stately from its extent, but very formal. We remember what Ben Jonson says of it, and are satisfied:

"Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show
Of touch or marble; nor can boast a row
Of polish'd pillars, or a roof of gold:
Thou hast no lanthern whereof tales are told;
Or stair or courts; but stand'st an ancient pile,
And, these grudg'd at, art reverenced the while.
Thou joy'st in better marks, of soil, of air,
Of wood, of water; therein thou art fair."

The early owners of Penshurst would supply an entertaining history. Not here, however, can it be told. It must be enough to say that shortly after the Conquest it belonged to a family named Pencestre. Great men dwelt here before the Sidneys. The Duke of Bedford, who was regent during the long minority of Henry VI., one of the bravest and best men of his age; and his brother, the "good duke Humphrey" of Shakspere, and rendered illustrious by his patronage of literature and its followers, both resided at Penshurst. How it came into the possession of the Sidney family is told by the inscription we read over the gateway of the entrance-tower: "The most religious and renowned Prince, Edward the Sixth, King of England, France, and Ireland, gave this House of Pencester, with its manors, lands, and appurtenances thereunto belonging unto his trusty and well-beloved servant, Sir William Sydney, Knight Banneret, serving him from the time of his birth unto his coronation in the offices of chamberlain and steward of his household. In commemoration of which most worthy and famous king, Sir Henry Sydney, Knight of the most noble order of the Garter, Lord President of the Council established in the Marches of Wales, son and heir of the aforenamed Sir William, caused this Tower to be builded, and that most excellent prince's arms to be erected, Anno Domini, 1585."

Penshurst has long ceased to be the property of a Sidney. The direct line became extinct on the decease of the last Earl of Leicester, who bore that name. Upon his death, arose protracted and expensive litigation among the several branches of the family. It was at length settled by a compromise, but a good part of the estate was consumed in the strife. The daughter of the person to whose share Penshurst fell, a lady named Parry, carried it by marriage to one of the Shelleys of Sussex, who assumed the name of Sidney. Sir John Sidney (the uncle of the poet Shelley) laid claim to the barony of L'isle, which had formerly been held with the earldom of Leicester by the Sidneys: but the House of Lords decided against his claim. His son, the present owner of Penshurst, however, had the title of De Lisle conferred upon him on his marriage with the daughter of William IV. The earldom is altogether lost to the family, having been, as will be recollected, conferred some few years since, on Mr. Coke, of Norfolk.

It is yet too early to enter the mansion. We will

« PředchozíPokračovat »