Obrázky stránek
[ocr errors]

reader to some of the villages around Exeter: several | dwelling indulge their taste in erecting. These two of them are worth wandering to. The pretty village of hills, Salcombe and Peak, continue their range of proHeavitree, about a mile east of Exeter, was the birth- tection to the town, one on the east and the other on place of “Judicious Hooker.” Alphington, on the the west, till Harpford and Beacon hills, on the one south, has a fine church in a picturesque situation, and side, and Penhill on the other, take up its defence on is moreover a noticeable place in itself. But e must the north-west and north. Sidmouth by these hills is proceed on our main journey. We have named a few sheltered from every quarter, except the south, which things, the remainder must go unnamed :

is open to the sea, and may be considered as completely

protected from all cold winds; for those from the south “ These are the chief; to number o'er the rest, And stand, like Adam, naming every beast,

are seldom or never cold or piercing in Devonshire. Were weary work;"

Snow,' says Dr. Mogridge, in his descriptive sketch

of this place is seldom witnessed ; and in very severe as sweetly singeth Master John Dryden in his 'Hind

seasons, when the surrounding hills are deeply covered, and Panther. We will on.

not a vestige-not a flake will remain in this warm and
secluded vale.'

The little town lying thus snugly embayed, with the

lofty hills rising behind and on either side of it, looks, Secure the box-seat of the Sidmouth stage, and you from the beach, as pretty and pleasant a dwelling-place will have a right pleasant afternoon trot over the bills as the visitor can desire for a short month or two. We to Sidmouth. There is a delightful alternation of

can very well imagine that it had a more picturesque, scenery along the road, and you travel at a pace that though a ruder appearance, when none of the smart allows

to have a fair


at some such magnificent houses that front the sea and are scattered about the views as you will not wish to hurry away from. You hill sides, had been erected ; and instead of the regular will also pass through three or four pretty and very line of the long sea-wall, there was a rugged bank of countrified little villages. And “though last not least" sand and shingle, and the place itself was only known in our esteem, the delightful sea breezes that you will

as “one of the specialest fisher towns of the shire." meet in riding over the hills will so refresh and invi- When the fashion began to prevail of resorting annually gorate the inner man, that you will arrive at the to the sea-side, Sidmouth was one of the earliest places journey's end in primest order to do most excellent to perceive the advantage of preparing a comfortable justice to the good fare of mine host of the ‘York,' the resting-place for these birds of passage. The little * Marine,' or the ‘ London'-or wherever else you may town has, with transient fluctuations, gone on in a choose to stay at. This is a main charm of stage-coach steady course of prosperity, and is now a very complete travelling : it is a grand thing (as they would say in place for its size. It hås good houses of different the north) to be able to do the 194 miles between grades; good inns, baths, libraries ; subscription, bilLondon and Exeter in four hours and a half; and no liard, and assembly-rooms ; very respectable shops ; one who has travelled by that best of all express-trains and the streets are well-paved, and lighted with gas. was ever heard to complain of the journey. But for the sea-wall, erected at a heavy cost a few years back, real enjoyment, this two hours' ride over the fifteen forms an excellent and very pleasant promenade. Inmiles of hilly road, by the good old stage, is worth a deed, all the recent alterations and improvements in dozen of it--that is, of course, supposing there be fair the town have been made with a view to increase the weather to enjoy it in.

comfort and enjoyment of the visitors : and it would The situation of Sidmouth is very well described in seem with success. Sidmouth has a late summer • The Route-book of Devon,' in a passage we quote season ; and perhaps this is its best season, as it is for the sake of recommending the book to all who undeniably its pleasantest. But it is also a good deal travel in that county : the notices generally are brief, resorted to in the winter; and it is one of the most clear, and accurate, -qualities most valuable in such a agreeable little winter watering-places along this coast. work:

The town is well-sheltered, the site cheerful, the air “The beach of Sidmouth is situated nearly in the balmy and genial, and there are most enjoyable walks, centre of one of those hollows or curves, of which there both for the robust and the invalid; while, as we have are many formed within the vast bay of Devon and seen, provision has been made for home and in-door Dorset, extending from the Isle of Portland, on the delectation : a very necessary provision, certainly, in east, to Start Point, on the west. At each end of the this moist climate, curve, east and west, rise two immense hills, about The buildings in Sidmouth are not of any architec500 feet high, running north and south, forming a deep tural importance or interest. The old church is but valley between. Along the bottom of this valley lies of very ordinary description; and for the new one the town, with a considerable part of its front presented there is not much more to be said. Several of the towards the sea. On the slopes, or sides of the valley, private houses are rather pretty; and one of them, a extending a mile or two inland, are the suburbs, studded large thatched cottage-ornée, “a cottage of gentility," with villas, cottages ornées, and every description of is one of the chief lions of Sidmouth. Attached to it marine residence, with which builders of this kind of are extensive and well-filled conservatories, an aviary,

[graphic][merged small]

and a collection of animals; and it contains in its ample rooms a vast variety of all those numerous costly articles which fall under the general designation of articles of vertû. The proper name of the house is 'Knowle Cottage ;' but it is popularly known, at least in Sidmouth, as 'The Little Fonthill.' Permission to see it is readily granted; and "the rooms are thrown open to the public every Monday during the months of August and September."

Sidmouth, we have said, has beautiful walks. The beach will, probably, for a while content the visitor : the cliffs curve round in an easy sweep, and form a picturesque little bay, closed at each extremity by lofty headlands. On a bright calm day, when the sea lies tranquilly at rest, gladdening and glittering in the sunshine, the little bay is a very picture of gentleness and beauty; but when there is rough weather abroad, and dark clouds hang heavily upon the hill tops, the waves roll in with a broad majestic sweep that seems to give quite a new and grander character to the scene; and the bold and broken cliffs themselves appear to assume a wilder and more rugged aspect. The cliffs along this part of the coast are of red marl and sandstone; and as the sea beats strongly against them, they are worn into deep hollows, and in many instances portions become quite separated from the parent cliff. One of these detached masses, of considerable size, stands out at some distance in the sea, at the western extremity of this bay. Chit Rock (Cut, No. 3), as it is called, is one of the notabilities of Sidmouth.

beyond the narrow limits of Sidmouth beach; and in almost every direction he will find rambles of a nature to tempt and to repay his curiosity. Along the summits of the cliffs he will obtain glorious views over the wide ocean, and not a few pleasant inland prospects. The hills farther away from the sea command views of vast extent and surpassing beauty; and along the valleys and gentle slopes there are simple pastoral scenes, and green shady lanes, and quiet field-paths, with here and there a solitary cottage, or a little social gathering of cottages, such as it does the heart good to look


Nor must it be supposed that these pleasant strolls are not to be enjoyed in the winter season; as the winter visitant will find, if he venture abroad-and happily most do so venture, though they limit their ramblings far more than they ought. The trees, which impart so much beauty and life to the landscape, are leafless and silent; the streamlets are swollen and turbid; the voices of the innumerable birds that in summer send their glad music from every spray, are mute: but the fields and hill-sides are still verdant; the banks and hedges have yet a pleasant show of flowers and herbage; mosses and lichens of gem-like richness cover the trunks and branches of the trees, the thatches, and the palings; evergreen shrubs and trees are frequent; and no Devonshire lane, or cove, or dell, is without a pretty numerous colony of birds of one kind or another: while withal the air is often deliciously balmy, genial, and serene. Indeed a stroll along the

But the visitor will soon wish to extend his walks lanes around Sidmouth-and the remark is more or less

applicable to all the towns and villages along this coast to which our winter visitants repair-has, on a fine winter's day, a charm entirely its own; and often the more grateful from its unexpected vernal cheerfulness. And this vernal character happily here lasts throughout the winter. Frosts are seldom severe, and almost always transient; snow hardly ever falls in the valleys, and never lies long on the ground.

"Lovely Devonia ! where shall man,
Pursuing Spring around the globe, refresh
His eye with scenes more beauteous than adorn
Thy fields of matchless verdure?"

"This is all very pretty, Mr. Writer; but the drizzle-what about the drizzle?"—Yes, good reader, to be sure there is the drizzle; one can't escape from that; but, let us accost yonder countryman, who is resting on his long-handled spade there, and whose form and features show that he has been exposed to Devonshire weather for many a year, and see what he will say about it.

“More rain !”—“ E'es, zur—a little dirzzell!"

"And does it always drizzle in this part of the country?"" Whoy no: i'dreeans zumtimes."

"Well, does it always rain when it doesn't drizzle?" "They do zay, I believe, that i'dreeans here if i'dreeans anywhere; and, for zartin, we've a girt deal of it; but it be vine enough between whiles."

There, good reader, you have the truth of the matter: there is rain here, and there is drizzle; but there are delicious intervals, and fortunate is he who is able and willing to avail himself of them :

"How soft the breeze

That from the warm south comes! how sweet to feel
The gale Favonian, too, that o'er the cheek
Breathes health and life!"

Carrington Banks of the Tamar.'

But we must wander, this fine winter morning, down one of the lanes-or rather, slightly notice two or three things that are noteworthy in them. The lanes of Devonshire are usually exceedingly good examples of English country lanes; and those in this neighbourhood are among the choicest in the county. The continual undulation of surface brings into view a neverfailing variety of distant scenery, which blends in the most pleasing manner with the peculiarly picturesque features of the lanes themselves; now showing between the distant elms merely a few upland meadows, where Devon's "matchless verdure" gleams under the glancing sunbeam with a brilliant emerald hue, such as is only seen elsewhere on a few of the brightest days of spring; and close beside lies another field of bare red earth, with a labourer or two busily at work upon it: presently there opens a wide and cheerful valley, winding far away among receding hills: here, a few groups of cottages are seen along the margin of the streamlet, and on the slopes houses of more ambitious character are pretty plentifully besprinkled; and again some new turn brings in the sparkling sea to add a new charm and more powerful interest to the picture. It must be

confessed, however, that Devonshire farmers and roadmakers do their best to conceal as much of all this as possible. They are people of most anti-picturesque propensities: the road-makers seem to rejoice in 'deep cuttings,'-the farmers take especial delight in high banks: so that, between the two, the poor pedestrian fares often but sadly. Wherever they can contrive to shut out a wide prospect, or a sunny peep, or a picturesque nook, these good people are sure to do it: they won't let you see more of their country than they can help. There appears to be an unaccountable perversity in this matter. You ascend some piece of upland lane, that promises to bring you to an opening between the hills, whence you may have a rich prospect, when, on reaching the spot, you find the road sunk,-or a mud-bank, some six or eight feet high, with a tall hedge on the top of such impenetrable closeness as to bid defiance even to a hedger. Yet there is some compensation in these banks for the most part they are covered, although it be winter, with a luxuriant crop of graceful ferns, of ivy, and of periwinkles, and an innumerable variety of light green herbage; while primroses are not scarce even at Christmas, and there is sure to be an early and plenteous supply of violets. The soil in this part of Devonshire is of a deep and rather bright red, and the delicate ferns, and the grass and leaves, and flowers, form with it a singularly vivid contrast. Hardly a bit of old broken bank is there in one of these lanes that does not form a little picture. However, it is the numerous and varied close picturesque nooks, where human interest mingles with the natural and rustic features, that are the chief charm of these lanes. The rural occupations and those who are employed in them; the road-side houses, and the country carts and country folk who are seen about them; the humble cottages that lie just out of the lane, and the goodwife and children who are in constant motion about the open doors, are a never-failing source of interest and pleasure. Nothing is there more picturesque, in its way, than an old Devonshire cob cottage, with its huge overhanging thatch, and all its various accompaniments, animate and inanimate! We should attempt to sketch one, had it not already been done infinitely better than we could do it; and as it only could be done by an observant resident, who, with frequent and leisurely opportunity joined the requisite skill to copy its most characteristic features. "A Devonshire cottage," says Mrs. Bray, in her 'Tamar and Tavy,' "if not too modern, is the sweetest object that the poet, the artist, or the lover of the romantic could desire to see. The walls, generally of stone, are gray, and if not whitewashed (which they too often are), abound with lichen, stone-crop, or moss. Many of these dwellings are ancient, principally of the Tudor age, with the square-headed mullioned and labelled windows. The roof is always of thatch; and no cottage but has its ivy, its jessamine, or its rose, mantling its sides and creeping on its top. A bird-cage at the door is often the delight of the children; and the little garden, besides its complement of hollyhocks, &c.,

has a bed or two of flowers before the house, of the most brilliant colours. A bee-hive, and the elderthat most useful of all domestic trees--are seen near the entrance; and more than once have I stopped to observe the eagerness and the delight with which the children amuse themselves in chasing a butterfly from flower to flower."

The cottage here described belongs to the other end of the county, but it is equally true of those in this part, with this difference, that instead of being constructed of stone they are here mostly built of cob; and consequently, a cottage of the Tudor age is here a rarity. Of course the reader knows what cob'Devonshire cob'-is? If not, we must tell him that it is merely the common clay, or marl, mixed with straw, &c., which is trodden for a long time by horses, till it forms a very tenacious material, and is the ordinary material used for buildings of inexpensive character where stone is not abundant. Like the stone cottages, these are generally whitewashed, and invariably thatched-perhaps we ought to say were, for some few of recent date are slated. The common boundary walls are constructed of cob, as well as the walls of houses, and the stranger is often a little surprised to see a deep and neatly made pent-house thatch surmounting such a wall. When well thatched, a well made cob boundary-wall will hardly need repairing once in a generation: and a good cob wall, whether of house or yard, will last a century.

We intended to lead the reader to three or four of the pleasant spots in the neighbourhood of Sidmouth; along the lanes to the pretty village of Sidford, to Sidbury castle, and on to Penhill; to the top of Salcombe Hill, where is a magnificent prospect, extending, it is said, over from thirty to forty miles of a rich and fertile and very beautiful country, and seaward far as the eye can reach; to one or two of the quiet out-of-theway corners, where the little Sid, the river (or, as old Risdon calls it, riveret), to which Sidmouth owes its name, with the hollow along which it hurries, " singing its quiet tune," makes pleasant miniature pictures :by the way, there is an exceedingly pretty peep up the Sid vale from the beach: we intended to visit these and one or two other places, but we must leave them and pursue our journey. Some Miss Mitford of this coast should explore the less-known localities, and give us a volume of country sketches after the fashion of that lady's 'Village.'

straggling village of poor-looking, whitewashed, thatched cob cottages, with a farm-house or two, a couple of inns, and a few shops. Through the middle of the street runs a little feeder of the Otter, a rattling brook, which adds a good deal to the picturesqueness of the place. On one side is a green, with trees around it. The church stands on a hill at the end of the village. All the houses are rude, unadorned, and old-fashioned; and if it were not for two or three shops that look rather modern, the stranger might fancy he had fallen upon a little secluded country town that had not changed for a century.

Otterton was at one time a village of some small local importance. John Lackland founded a priory here, su' ject to the monastery of St. Michael, in Normandy. There were to be four monks who were to celebrate the regular religious services; and also to distribute bread weekly among the poor, to the amount of sixteen shillings a tolerable sum in those days. In succeeding ages the monastery received additional benefactions, and the superior had enlarged rights. Lysons, quoting from the Ledger Book of the priory in Chapple's Collections,' says that, "The prior of Otterton had the right of pre-emption of fish in all his ports, and the choice of the best fish,"-a very useful privilege against fast days; the next right is of more questionable value "The prior claimed also every porpoise caught in the fisheries, giving twelve pence and a loaf of white bread to every sailor, and twice as much to the master; also the half of all dolphins,"-choosing no doubt the head and shoulders when only one was caught. At the suppression of alien monasteries, the priory was transferred to Sion Abbey; at the general spoliation it was re-transferred, part to the royal pocket, and part to some worthy layman. The priory stood on the hill by the church, on the site now occupied by the Mansion House a building worth examining. The church. itself, too, is a noteworthy one. It is a large irregular and very ancient pile, with the tower at the east end. In the churchyard is a grove of yew-trees. The church stands on a steep cliff, and with the old house by its side and the trees about it, and the broad river washing the base of the hill, looks from the opposite bank unusually striking. The Otter is here a good-sized stream, and the scenery along it is very picturesque. The banks are bluff and bold, rising from the river in bare red cliffs, making with the neighbouring roundtopped hills numerous pretty pictures.

On the other side of the river is the village of Budleigh, only noticeable on account of its containing Hayes, the birth-place of Sir Walter Raleigh. Hayes was at the time held on lease by Raleigh's father; the proprietor of it being "one Duke." Raleigh cherished to middle age a strong attachment to his birth-place, and made an effort to purchase it about the time he was rapidly rising in the favour of his sovereign. A letter (dated July 26th, 1584), is printed in his works, which he addressed to Duke, expressing his desire to possess the house-" because, for the natural disposition he had to it, having been born in that house, he


The onward road lies along the summit of the cliffs, past Chit Rock. From High Peak there are good sea views; and from Peak Hill others of surprising extent and wondrous beauty, over the Haldon Hills as well as seaward. The road must be followed a little inland to Otterton, which lies two or three miles from the sea; and where is the last bridge over the Otter. The way is extremely pleasant, but we need not stay to describe it. Otterton itself is a noticeable place: it is a long


would rather seat himself there than anywhere else.” one of the chief ports on this coast; and to have conBut his application was refused, Duke, it is affirmed, tributed ten ships and one hundred and ninety-three saying, " he did not choose to have so great a man for seamen as its proportion of the fleet which Edward III. so near a neighbour." The Dukes for generations despatched, in 1347, against Calais. On the other kept the letter pasted on a board, as a “ kind of hand, it does not now maintain the high position it once curiosity.” The house (of course not in its original held among the watering-places of Devonshire : it is condition) is now a farm-house.

no longer the first. It may not have decreased in By the mouth of the Otter is the hamlet of Bud- popularity or attraction, but it has not increased. It leigh Salterton; which within these few years has has almost stood still while Torquay has rapidly grown into some repute as a quiet retired watering advanced : and to Torquay it must now yield the placema sort of country appendix to Exmouth : and precedence. where were only two or three mud hovels belonging to The Old Town was built along the foot of the hill the fishermen, is now a thriving and smart little town, and by the river side. The sea at this time covered having its three or four streets of shops and lodging- nearly the whole of the ground on which the northhouses; its baths and libraries ; its hotel, and even western part of the town is now built, and washed the • commercial inn;' and often a goodly number of base of the cliffs on the left-hand side of the present genteel visitants. The streamlet that runs through the turnpike-road from Exeter.” The New Town- that main street, with the plain wooden bridges that cross which is chiefly inhabited by visitants-is on the hillit, cause the place yet to retain something of its old side and summit. Exmouth is not in itself a parish : rusticity. The cliffs along the sea here, and still more but lies chiefly within the parish of Littleham. " The by Otter Point, on the other side of the Otter, are very manor of Littleham and Exmouth,” says the 'Route lofty and very precipitous. The scenery about the Book of Devon,' has been since the Dissolution in shore we need hardly say is such as often exercises the the family of the Rolles; and the late Lord Rolle and pencils of the visitants. Ladram Bay is particularly his present surviving relict have been great and celebrated, and in the summer season is one of the generous patrons to this town. The fine and capacious most attractive spots in this vicinity. The rocks are church, built in 1824, and the market-house in 1830; there worn into the wildest shapes, and there are the plantations and walks under the Beacon; the seacaverns that are an object to ramble after : a sail to wall just completed ; in short nearly all the public Ladram Bay is a favourite summer diversion.

improvements carried out within these few years, with From Budleigh Salterton there is a foot-path along the exception of those executed by the late Mr. R. the top of the cliffs and by by-ways to Exmouth, Webber, have been at their suggestion and expense." passing over Knoll Hill and through the quiet out-of- Exmouth is well furnished with the various means the-way village of Littleham; this is a pleasant way, and appliances that contribute to the requirements and but there is one which, though a good deal further, is pleasures of sea-side visitants. It has a good bathingmore exhilarating to the stout pedestrian, round by the place on the beach, and baths in addition ; libraries, headland of Orcomb; or there is the ordinary road by assembly and subscription-rooms; hotels and lodgingWithecomb—from which some pleasant detours may be houses of all sizes and with every aspect; public made, among others to the little ruined sanctuary of walks ; good shops, and a good market; a church and St. John's in the Wilderness.

several chapels. None of the buildings are such as to Exmouth is so called from its position by the mouth command much attention as works of art, but they are of the Exe. Leland styles it “a fisher townlet a little convenient and serviceable. The sea-wall is an imwithin the haven mouth.” And a “ fisher townlet” | portant and a substantial work. It is some 1,800 it remained for a very long while afterwards. “ In feet long; and in addition to its primary purpose, it truth,” says Polwhele, writing towards the close of forms an excellent promenade and drive. The walks last century, "it was no other than an inconsiderable in and immediately around the town are of a superior fishing-town, till one of the judges of the circuit, in a character. Several within the town 'afford noble provery infirm state of health, went thither to bathe, and spects. That in front of Louisa Terrace commands a received great benefit from the place. This happened view that is in very few towns equalled either for about a century ago, which brought Exmouth into extent or beauty. Nearly the same may be said of repute, first with the people of Exeter, and gradually Trefusis Terrace, and some other terraces of equally with the whole county--I might add, indeed, the whole pleasant site, and unpleasant name. The Beacon Hill island; since Exmouth is not only the oldest, but, in is very judiciously laid out as a public ground, with general, the best frequented watering-place in Devon- beds of flowers, evergreens, and ornamental shrubs. shire."

About the walks are placed rustic seats, and occasionThat judge was evidently a good judge; and it was ally arbours. The views from different parts of Beacon a fortunate thing for Exmouth to be tried by him. The Hill are remarkably good, and altogether it is a very townsmen ought in gratitude to erect his statue in the agreeable spot and admirably suited for the purpose to choicest part of the town.

which it has been applied. Exmouth was not, however, always a mere fisher From the town there stretches a long sand-bank far townlet. In the reign of John it is said to have been into the river. A little lower down the stream another

« PředchozíPokračovat »