Most Peaceful Places in England

1. Cornwall 

Sitting at the top of the list is Cornwall, one of the most beautiful places in the country, rural and coastal settings a plenty and a friendly atmosphere. Cornwall forms a peninsula with wild moorlands and many sandy beaches. The south coast of Cornwall is dubbed the Cornish riviera due to the climate and picturesque landscapes. Cornwall has a host of picturesque villages and seaside resorts

2. Standish 

A small yet humble town in the borough of Wigan has made it onto our list due to the small population, low pollution and lack of traffic jams. The village has a population of less than 14,000 people making it a perfect place to settle.

3.The Lake District 

One of the most beautiful places in the UK, it was always going to make it onto the list. A favourite for nationals and tourists the lake district is a region of Cumbria in the northwest of England. With a low pollution level and beautiful market towns such as Keswick, Kendal, Ambleside and Derwentwater. The lake district is a wonderful place to visit and live.

4. Wales

Wales made it on to the list due to the low levels of pollution and traffic free roads (mostly). Wales is a well known part of southwest Great Britain. With rugged coastlines and famous mountains located there. The celtic culture and welsh language is a draw for tourism.

5. Scottish Highlands

Home to famous loch Ness and many other famous attractions  the Scottish Highland is a wonderful place to move to and relax, benefit from rural locations and lower house prices you can pick up a lot of real estate for a lower cost.

As you can tell the most relaxing places to live in the UK appear to be more rural locations, this goes to show that city life really does have an impact on our health and ability to de-stress. Not everyone will be able to move to the locations or may not even want to but a short visit to a rural location is proven to reduce stress and help relax. If you live in a busy area it can be a great way to relax with a rural weekend away.

Originally Published Here

Project IONA-Bedfordshire Cultural Attractions

Bedford Butterfly Park

A global Conservation Park with Tropical Butterfly House, Bugs Room, Nature Trails, Adventure Playground, Tea Room, Gift Shop and much more. Wander amongst beautiful butterflies and exotic blooms in our tropical house. See weird and wonderful creepy–crawlies in the bugs house. Outside, stop to feed the pygmy goats and rabbits before exploring our nature reserve. Other attractions include a tea room, gift shop, adventure playground and children’s activity barn

Bedford Castle

Bedford Castle is little more than an unrecognizable mound today, situated behind Bedford Museum in Castle Street. The castle was first built as a motte in the 11th century, and later a shell keep was added, to be followed by a round tower with curtain walls. The castle acted as an important administrative centre, and several Sherrifs of Buckinghamshire – yes, Bucks, not Beds – used it as their official seat.

Thurleigh Farm Centre

A working farm and children’s activity centre. See, feed and handle the farm animals. Also on site: indoor and outdoor play areas, mini quad bikes, pedal carts. Pony and tractor rides at peak times. Woodland walk with tree houses for children to play in. Tea room and Scarecrow Snack Shack.


Those who know the Birmingham of the present time will probably be interested in reading some account of its early days, when it presented much the same appearance as in the engraving we give opposite.

In the year 585 the Saxon Cridda, a military adventurer who founded the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia, gave the Manor of Birmingham to one of his lieutenants named Ulwine, from which the modern name Allen is derived.

The Conquest, however, deprived. the Ulwines or Allens of their property, which they were compelled to resign to the Norman Baron, Fitz Ausculph; to whom, henceforward, they became vassals; holding the lands that had been their own inheritance for nearly five hundred years under feudal tenure; yet residing on the estate. Can we not imagine what the Saxons mast have felt at being thus robbed and degraded by the Conqueror, and can we not sympathise with the efforts made by Hereward le Wake, and by Morcar and Edwin, the brother-earls of Mercia, to free their native land from these Norman plunderers?.

The Fitz Ausculphs were lords of Birmingham for more than four hundred years, and were dispossessed by a most infamous crime, related in Dugdale’s “Antiquities of Warwickshire.”

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, an ambitious and rapacious man – the father of Queen Elizabeth’s Leicester – had fixed a covetous eye on the pretty town and its lovely Warwickshire surroundings, and asked Edward de Birmingham, its lord, to dispose of it to him. Happy would it have been for him had he consented to sell it! But De Birmingham loved his fair inheritance, and declined to part with it. The remainder of the story is like a romance. The Duke, resolved to have it, devised a villainous stratagem. He hired a gang of bravoes, who were ordered to commit a highway robbery on one of their own companions, at a moment when De Birmingham should be near the spot. The highwaymen watched for a favourable opportunity, and at length one evening in a lonely road near Birmingham, they saw Edward de Birmingham coming. Their play was immediately begun; two of the villains attacked their companion, who pretended to be a lonely traveller, and De Birmingham, like an honest and brave Englishman, hastened to the rescue. It must have been to his great amazement that as the apparent robbers retreated, two other men issued from an ambush, and on the accusation of the soi disant traveller arrested him – De Birmingham – for highway robbery. He was taken to prison, tried for the alleged crime, and condemned to death. Then it was suggested to him that if he would give Birmingham to the Duke of Northumberland (who was at that time all powerful with the dying Edward VI.) the duke would use his influence with the king to obtain his pardon.

De Birmingham preferred poverty to a felon’s death; he made over the town to his enemy, and retired to obscurity with his wife, with only 40 a year for their subsistence.

The wicked duke did not long enjoy his ill gotten manor. He succeeded in making the dying king leave his crown by will to Lady Jane Grey, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk, and therefore cousin to Edward VI. He married her to his son, Lord Guildford Dudley, a month before the poor young Edward expired, and on his death forced his charming and reluctant daughter-in-law into the place of Henry VIII.’s daughter Mary. This act of treason brought her innocent head to the block; for, as we all know, his crime failed, and he also paid for it by dying on the scaffold, regretted by no one.

Birmingham, by his death for treason, fell to the Crown, and a survey was taken of it before the duke was dead.

The manor passed by favour of Queen Mary to the Marrow family, no restitution being made to the dispossessed owner. The Marrows sold it at the beginning of the last century.

The residence of the Lords of Birmingham was a moated and castellated manorhouse, the site of which is now occupied by a cattle market It was situated at the southern extremity of the town, below St. Martin’s Church.

In 1538, Leland thus describes Birmingham:

“The beauty of Birmingham, a good market town in the extreme parts of Warwickshire, is one good street going up along, almost from the left ripe (shore) of the brook up a meane (small) hill by the length of a quarter of a mile. I saw but one parish church in the town. There be many smiths in the town that used to make knives and all manner of cutting tools, and many lorimers that make bitts, and a great many naylors, so that a great part of the town is maintained by smiths, who have their iron and coal out of Staffordshire.”

A hundred years passed, and Birmingham was little changed; for progress was slow in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

In 1640 (the date of the engraving) the men of Birmingham were following the lead of Hampden, and refusing resolutely to pay the illegal tax called Ship-money. They were employed by the Parliament in making the swords and other arms required by the army.

After the Restoration, the luxurious tastes of Charles II.’s court, and the growing refinement of the people, induced the energetic and industrious townsmen to devise and make new and costly metal articles, for which there grew a great demand.

The Revolution of 1688 was most fortunate for Birmingham

At one of his levees William III. expressed regret that it was so difficult and expensive to get arms for the troops from Holland. Sir Richard Newdigate, a member for Warwickshire, replied that His Majesty need not go further than Warwickshire for them, since his Birmingham constituents were quite equal to making them. William instantly despatched Sir Richard to the town with a large order, and it was so well executed that he never again sent to Holland for arms; nor has any sovereign or minister found it a necessity to do so from want of skill in his people. William III., who introduced shoe buckles into England, was also, by means of this fashion, a benefactor to the town; for no less than 5,000 Birmingham workmen were employed for many years annually in making them.

The discovery of the steam engine brought still more work and wealth to the Warwickshire town. It has made guns, cast-iron and plated articles, toys (Burke called Birmingham the “toy-shop of Europe”) glassblowing and steel pens. Great, indeed, is the wealth of the modern town, which presents a very different, if less picturesque, appearance than when its owner was so cruelly wronged by the potent and wicked noble of the Tudor days. It has many streets and fine buildings; and we must especially mention the Town Hall, built between the years 1832 and 1850. It is in the form of a Greek Temple; its columns stand upon an arcade basement, twenty three feet high, and themselves measure thirty-six feet in height without the capitals. The interior contains a fine hall, richly decorated, and capable of containing more than 3,000 persons.

Birmingham and its immediate district are remarkable for the attention paid by them to the education of the poorer classes of society As an instance of this we may mention that the Adult School Movement is, perhaps, more largely developed there than in other parts of the kingdom.

“At the time of the survey made on the death of the Duke of Northumberland, the houses of Birmingham were few and scattered From St. Martin’s Church the houses then extended only along Edgbaston Street. Down Digbeth there were scarcely any beyond the bridge. St. John’s Chapel, Deritend, was then surrounded by trees, and a little further on an enclosure (marked on the survey as the Great Buckstalls and Little Buckstalls, and the Birchhills Pastures) is now the site of Birchall Street. The site of Deritend Pool is marked ‘Lake Meadows’ and ‘Oak Meadows,’ and here were rows of trees.”

The solitary church that Leland saw in 1538 was, we see, still standing at the time of the survey. It dated probably from the thirteenth century, and may have been the successor of an earlier building on the same site. It exists no longer, but on its site a new and elegant church – another St. Martin’s – replaces it; and contains its old and interesting monuments of the Birmingham family. That of Sir William de Birmingham dates from Edward I.’s time, and there is another that is to the memory of John de Birmingham, who built the two western towers of York Cathedral at the beginning of the fifteenth century, at his own expense.

“The grounds of the Priory of St. Thomas are well marked in the survey, and had many large trees in them; the land is now bounded by Bull Street, Dale End, Stafford Street and Steelhouse Lanes. Nearer Dale End stood the priory.

“The topmost house in Bull at the time of the survey was the Bull Inn, opposite the Free Chapel. At the bottom of Bull Street was a large well, lined with wrought stones; this was exposed to view and filled up when the Lamb House was taken down. It was in the nook at the bottom of Crooked Lane, and close behind the old Lamb House, that the well was placed. The outline of Crooked Lane and its divergence to the right into the Cherry Orchard, and what was Little Cherry Street, shows that Crooked Lane existed three centuries and a half ago, and the Lamb House was probably much older.” 1

Some account of this old house and its inmates may not be uninteresting. It was pulled down in 1886; and scarcely had they removed some of the rough stucco of the front when the ornamented and massive beams and timbers of an ancient and fine half-timbered house were found. It had been plastered over, though its overhanging projections and stuccoed front gave it always an air of antiquity. Many of the old windows had been bricked up inside, and the massive frame-work had been terribly injured by hacking to fix the plaster.

One of the small bricked-up windows upstairs had an old-fashioned lead light with diamond-shaped panes, such as were in use when glass was thick, greenish, and not equal in quality even to the bottle glass of the present day.

“The house was a fine example of the fifteenth or sixteenth century mode of building with half timber and brick. At the back of it might be seen a rather angular nook in Crooked Lane, as it was then called Lamb’s Yard, rather wider than the rest; here was the public well we have just mentioned, which was then uncovered and filled in. Further up the lane, and adjoining Suffield’s warehouse, was the watch house, a small building to which the watchmen, or old ‘Charlies’ of that time, conducted any disturber of the night as prisoners.

“A certain Sarah Stevenson possessed the Lamb House in 1176, when it was demised to her by Thomas Walker. She resided here for more than twenty-five years, and was married to a Mr. Francis Skidmore.

“There is a tradition in the family of the Scudamores, or Skidmores, as the name is variously written, that this Francis Skidmore was a Herefordshire baronet of that name, who left his home and his estates about the time, and that it was he who married Sarah Stevenson, the successor to Thomas Walker in the Lamb House estate.” 2

This singular conduct of Mr. or Sir Francis Skidmore might have been caused, it is suggested, by his desire to be with the leaders and enthusiastic followers of John Wesley’s awakening Methodism, and this is highly probable if we reflect on the enthusiastic zeal existing amidst his followers. It was quite possible at that period that a man of wealth and position may have been willing to lay aside his hereditary property and rank, and join the humble but earnest followers of a spiritual religion.

Miss Sarah Stevenson was also a religious enthusiast, and they both attended Cherry Street Meeting; thus he learned to love her for her goodness and sincerity, and we can well believe that the ancient house was then a very happy home. They had two sons, of whom some laughable anecdotes are told in “Birmingham Places and Faces,” but we have not room to relate them here. A grandson of Mr. or Sir Francis Skidmore is, we hear, still living. He is the celebrated ecclesiastical and secular art metal worker of Coventry and Birmingham; a Mr. Tonks, of Birmingham, is also a descendant of the Skidmores by a daughter.

It is amusing to learn that some of the Birmingham people objected in 1708 to lighting the streets, urging “that the necessity for lamps did not appear, from the experience of the town having hitherto subsisted without lamps, and that perhaps fewer robberies and accidents had happened to its inhabitants than in any other town for its size and number of people, which might perhaps be in part ascribed to the want of lamps!”

The objectors, however, formed the minority of the sagacious townsmen, and in 1769 fifty commissioners were appointed with powers for lighting and cleansing the town, etc., etc.

The perfection to which the arts have attained in Birmingham is proved by the extreme beauty of the famous Elkington shields. The subjects of one – that perhaps is the finer of the two to which we allude – are taken from Milton’s “Paradise Lost;” the other repeats finely the scenes in the “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

Bury St. Edmunds – A Suffolk Legend

A charming Victorian portrait of this Suffolk market and cathedral town and its legendary saint from the 1891 book “Picturesque England. Its Landmarks and Historic Haunts”.

The Danes in the ninth century were the most frightful enemies that England had ever known. Strong, brave, ruthless, as cruel as they were valiant, sparing neither woman nor babe, these heathens carried the Raven banner all along the south and eastern shores of our island. In 870 their attacks were even more than ordinarily ferocious, and it is no marvel that in the liturgy of the Church ran the mournful petition, “From the fury of the Danes, Good Lord, deliver us;” for they had laid in ruins the Abbeys of Croyland, Medhamsted (Peterborough), Marney, Ramsey, and Ely, and ravaged the land with sword and fire. Their strategy was to occupy all the best stations on the coast, and then to post their forces across the island. They now attacked East Anglia. The East Anglians had at the time a king famed for his piety and integrity, a brave warrior also, who defended his people with great resolution. But overpowered by the myriads of red-haired warriors who came against him, Edmund was defeated and made captive. The battle was fought near Hoxne, in Suffolk, on the banks of the Waveney, near Eye.

“Being hotly pursued by his foes,” says Sir Francis Palgrave in his charming Anglo Saxon History, “the king fled to Hoxney and attempted to conceal himself by crouching beneath a bridge, now called Goldbridge. The glitter of his golden spurs discovered him to a newly married couple, who were returning home by moonlight, and they betrayed him to the Danes. Edmund, as he was dragged from his hiding-place, pronounced a malediction upon all who should afterwards pass this bridge on their way to be married, and so much regard is paid to this tradition by the folks of Hoxne, that now (1831), or at least within the last twenty years, no bride or bridegroom would venture along the forbidden path.”

An account of Edmund’s death was given by his swordbearer, who lived to a great age, and was never weary of repeating the sad story to the courtiers of Athelstane. The Danes fettered and manacled the brave king, and treated him with every species of cruelty and insult. They, at last, offered him his life if he would deny Christ, and worship their gods; he firmly refused. He was cruelly scourged; then tied to a tree and shot at with arrows as at a mark; but this English St. Sebastian remained resolute in his faith, praying to Christ amidst all his sufferings, until, weary of cruelty, Inguair and Ubba struck off his head with an axe and threw it into the thicket.

Edmund was justly canonized as saint and martyr, and his name is still retained in the Church Calendar.

The ancient service contains the following legend:-

As soon after the martyrdom as possible, a party of his friends ventured into the wood to seek for his remains. They were searching everywhere all through the wood, when one cried in half-mocking despair, “Where art thou, comrade?” the ordinary cry of the woodman. To their amazement they heard an answer, “Here – here – here.” They then constantly repeated the cry, and were always answered, till, following the sound, they came to where Edmund’s head lay between the fore paws of a great grey wolf, – a greedy, hungry beast, – but who dared not touch the head he held, but guarded it against wild beasts. “Then were they astonished at the wolf’s guardianship.” The animal let them take the head from him, and followed them as they bore it towards the town, as if he were tame, while they went, thanking God for all His wonders. When they reached the town the wolf left them and went back to his woods.

The remains were removed to a town originally called Badrichesworth, and there they were buried, the place, henceforward, taking the name of Bury St Edmunds.

Canute, as if in atonement for the crime of his countrymen, founded here a monastery to St. Edmund, one of the most sumptuous then in England; a few fragments of it only remain; but the name of “Edmund” is a household name in Norfolk and Suffolk, attesting, perhaps, at first the reverential memory in which they hold St. Edmund.

Past and present: Lancaster

An interesting Victorian observation of the northern English city of Lancaster during the 1830s which first appeared in issue No. 225 – The Penny Magazine – Oct. 17, 1835.

LANCASTER, the county town of Lancashire, is situated on the western coast of England, upon the southern bank of the river Lune, at the distance of eight miles from the sea. It is distant 239 miles north-west from London by the road, but the direct distance does not exceed 206 miles. Lancaster is a very old town. There are doubts as to the name by which it was known to the Romans, by whom it is supposed to have been built; but there is no question that it formed the station of a Roman legion. It seems indeed to have been considered a station of considerable importance, not only as a check upon the natives of the north, but also as a point of defence against the Irish, who, in the decline of the Roman power, subjected that part of the country to great annoyance and distress by their piracies and marauding incursions.

Domestic, sepulchral, religious, and other Roman antiquities have been often found in and near Lancaster. The termination ceastre or caster would alone indicate that the Romans had a fortress here, it being a corruption of the Latin castrum, applied by the Saxons to places which they found fortified.

The name Lun-ceastre, corrupted to Lancaster, therefore signifies a fortress on the river Lune. The history of all towns with important castles is intimately connected with that of the castle. In such cases the castle is usually the parent of the town, which for a long time depends upon it and shares in all its good and evil, until the town acquires maturity and strength, and comes to have resources independent of the castle, which is destroyed by violence, or gradually perishes through age and neglect, or else is preserved for purposes very different from its original destination. This is illustrated in the history of Lancaster.

It seems that, when the Romans left the island, the Picts and Scots, exasperated by the repulse and resistance which they had always experienced at this place, attacked the town and demolished the fortifications. The excellent and commanding situation of the spot early attracted the notice of the Saxons, who, soon after their arrival, appear to have restored some of the dwellings, and to have rebuilt at least some parts of the castle. We know little of the history of Lancaster under the Saxons, but that it was considered the most important place of the district is evinced by its being constituted in the seventh century the chief and designating town in the county. It probably owed this distinction to the castle; for, as a town, it could not have acquired much importance under the Saxons, or if so, the Danes, in their incursions, must have destroyed all traces of it; for when the Domesday Survey was taken, soon after the Conquest, “Lon-castre” and “Chercha-Loncastre” are registered as two vills among the twenty-two which composed the manor of Halton, belonging to the crown. Lancaster, however, had the good fortune to attract the notice of Roger de Poitou, a neighbouring proprietor, as offering a more eligible site for a baronial castle than his own domain afforded; and he obtained a grant of the property from the crown. As early as 1094 we find this person making a grant to the abbey of St. Martin de Sees, in Normandy, of the church of St. Mary, then newly erected by him.

The Castle appears to have been built about the same time, the foundations of the old structure, and some other parts that could be made available, being probably retained. At a subsequent period the castle received some improvements from the Earl of Morton and Lancaster, afterwards King John, who, subsequently to his accession to the crown, gave audience here to the French ambassadors, and received the homage of Alexander, King of Scotland. But the castle, and therefore the town, owed its chief importance to Edward III., and his son John of Gaunt. When John was created Duke of Lancaster, his dukedom was made a county palatine, and the duke was endowed with powers and privileges which rendered the palatine a petty kingdom, of which the town of Lancaster became the capital. It appears that in consequence of this the castle was considerably enlarged, and that a household was established here suitable to the dignity of the proprietor and the customs of the times. It is easy to perceive how these circumstances would operate in increasing the population and prosperity of the town; and how the town must have been dependent in those times on its connexion with the castle. Its loyalty, however, to the House of Lancaster exposed the town to so much calamity during the war of the Roses, that it is said to have been nearly depopulated.

Its subsequent revival was not rapid. Even in Camden’s time the town was chiefly occupied by husbandmen; but on the confirmation of the town-charter, with the addition of new privileges by Charles II., Lancaster again began to revive; and it afterwards went on progressively augmenting its commerce, its local trade, and its buildings. The first incorporation of the town by charter was in the reign of Richard I.; and the charter has been confirmed and modified by several subsequent monarchs.

The town is very advantageously situated upon a gentle ascent, the summit of which is crowned with the castle and the church, so that the whole, in a general view, has a commanding appearance. The river Lune makes nearly an acute angle on the north side of the town, whence several regular streets proceed to the south, leaving these two principal public buildings somewhat detached. A handsome stone bridge, with five elliptical arches, which was built at an expense of 12,000l., connects the town with the township of Skerton on the other side of the river. The streets in Lancaster are commonly narrow, though there are some of considerable width; but the houses are generally good, with a due proportion of superior mansions in the town and of elegant villas in the pleasant environs. The houses are generally bilt with freestone, which is found in the neighbourhood, and are covered with slate. Considerable improvements in the general appearance of the place have been made within the last fifty years. It is altogether a superior town for its size, possessing some advantages which are not always found in towns of still greater population. There is a theatre, assembly-rooms, convenient public baths, a book-society, a mechanics’ institute, and a well-supported society for the promotion of the fine arts.

At present, as in former times, the castle forms the crowning glory of Lancaster. The commanding situation and massive character of this spacious castle must have rendered it in former times not only a formidable fortress, but an object of great grandeur in the local scenery; and even now, although, in adapting it to its present uses as a prison and court-house, it has been necessary to sacrifice much of its ancient aspect and character, it has still a most imposing appearance. The extensive additions and alterations have been, so far as practicable, adapted to the original style, with much good taste and judgment; so that the whole now forms not only the grandest and most complete county-jail in England, but is still entitled to be considered as one of the finest castellated structures in the empire. The importance and extensive scale of the additions which have been made may in some degree be estimated by the cost, which has amounted to not less than 140,000l.

The encircling walls embrace an area of 380 feet from east to west by 350 feet from north to south, which space comprehends an extensive court with smaller courts, and several towers of different form and dates of erection. The finest of these towers is the gateway-tower, which forms the chief entrance. It consists of two large semi-octangular projections or towers, connected by a curtain and the gates. The whole of the summit has a bold, overhanging battlement, and each of the projecting towers is surmounted by two small turrets or watch-towers. This gateway is 66 feet high, and is commonly, and with good reason, attributed to John of Gaunt. This gateway conducts to the great court, which is enclosed with embattled walls and strengthened with towers. Nearly facing the entrance, at the opposite side of the court, is the large square tower (70 feet diameter) which formed the keep or citadel of the ancient castle, and is supposed by some antiquaries to be of Saxon architecture; but the upper part was rebuilt in 1585, at the time of the threatened invasion of the Spanish Armada, when all the forts and castles in the kingdom underwent a thorough repair. The difference between this and the more ancient building is still very perceptible. The height of this tower is 78 fee, and it is surmounted by a turret (commonly called “John of Gaunt’s Chair”) which is 10 feet higher, and from which views of great extent and diversity are commanded. The walls of this keep are of amazing thickness and strength, and the apartments are of very grand dimensions: one of them, “about 63 feet long, having only four plain walls, and making nearly the proportion of a double cube,” is particularly referred to by Mr. Duppa, in his ‘Life of Michael Angelo,’ as calculated to produce a great effect by simplicity of form and grandeur of dimensions. The three other old towers are respectively known as the Dungeon Tower, the Well Tower, and Adrian’s Tower, though the latter is more popularly known as John of Gaunt’s Oven. All these are commonly attributed to the Romans; but, although some antiquaries are disposed to allow that the lower part of the last may have been Roman, it is doubtful whether the other two were even Saxon, and we see no necessity for giving them an earlier date than the buildings by Roger de Poitou. “Adrian’s Tower” is circular, and it is used as a repository for rolls, records, and other documents relating to the official business of the county.

A minute description of the new buildings, forming the court-houses and prisons, would carry us beyond our present intention. It may suffice to state that the pile of buildings containing the shire-hall, courts, and grand-jury room, form, in a ground plan, an irregular semicircle to the north of the great court. The shire-hall itself is a beautiful apartment, consisting of a semi-polygonal area, with an aisle going round it, and has a groined roof supported by six quadruple clustered columns. The seats of the judges are in the chord of the arc under elegant pinnacled canopies. The doors, windows, panels, seat, &c.;, are all finished in a style corresponding to the enriched ecclesiastical buildings of the fourteenth century.

The external or eastern wall of the keep, being prolonged to upwards of 200 feet, forms the chord of another semicircular arrangement of buildings for felons, whose apartments extend around the arc, while the area is divided into four courts which unite at the turnkey’s lodge, which commands a view of the whole. Since these apartments have been erected fetters have not been used, except for refractory prisoners, as there is no danger of escape; the walls, inside and without, and the floors and roofs, being all finished with hewn stone. The apartments for crown prisoners, for debtors, and for females, form distinct piles of building on different sides of the great central court; and besides these great divisions, more minute classification is effected throughout. The jail contains seventeen divisions for this purpose. There are seventy-three work-rooms, thirty-two day-rooms, and twelve airing-yards. The great central area, which contains about 2800 square yards, is allowed for the exclusive use of the debtors, where they can enjoy the air and take exercise. The prisoners are variously employed, and a considerable part of their earnings is paid to them, part in weekly portions during their detention, and the rest on their discharge. Such of them as have learned no trade are taught something there which may enable them to earn an honest living, if so inclined, when again thrown upon the world.

Lancaster contains one parish-church and two chapels in connexion with the establishment. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is on the same eminence with the castle, and is contiguous to it on the east. It was originally, as we have seen, founded by Roger de Poitou, who gave it with some lands to the Benedictine Abbey of St. Martin de Sagio, or Sees, in Normandy. A prior and five monks came over and took possession, forming a religious, or monastery, subordinate to the above abbey. On the suppression of alien priories it was annexed to the abbey of Sion in Middlesex, and so remained until the general dissolution in the reign of Henry VIII. In those times the church was one of those which enjoyed the mischievous privilege of sanctuary. The existing church is a large Gothic structure, consisting of a nave, two side aisles, and a handsome tower at the west end. It has few remains of antiquity, except some fine specimens of screen-work and carvings in oak. The church accommodates 3500 persons, and the living forms a vicarage, with the net income of 1709l. per annum. Most of the various denominations of dissenters have chapels in the town.

The manufactures of Lancaster are not considerable, and consist chiefly in the making of mahogany furniture, cordage, and sail-cloth, with the spinning of cotton and worsted yarn, and the manufacture of cotton goods, for which several factories have been established within these few years.

Ships of considerable burden were formerly built here; but now only boats. The channel of the Lune being much impeded by accumulations of sand, vessels of considerable burden cannot come up to the town, but discharge their cargoes at the dock which was formed, in 1787, at Glasson, about five miles below Lancaster, from whence the goods are carried up to the quay of the town in lighters. The quay is not accessible to vessels exceeding 200 or 250 tons burden. This, co-operating with the want of extensive canal communications and the absorbing predominance of Liverpool, at one time operated badly on the trade of Lancaster. The Boundary Commissioners say, “The appearance and condition of the town of Lancaster is that of a decaying town: the whole of its West India trade has left it, and what remains of the other branches seems to afford but a scanty employment for a few sloops. At the same time that everything else appears to languish about the place, the public buildings exhibit no appearance of dilapidation.” This was in 1832; things have since improved, for the Municipal Report, in 1835, says:–“In general the town may be stated to be in a very thriving condition. It was formerly an important port for the West India trade, but its prosperity declined as it was abandoned for Liverpool.

Latterly, however, the port has been much used for the American, Russian, and coasting trades. A few years back there were numerous large warehouses unemployed; at present such can scarcely be found.” The borough of Lancaster contained 2038 houses in 1831, when the population amounted to 12,613, of whom 7142 were females. In 1821 the population was 10,144. The increase is attributed to the establishment of cotton-factories.

The Lancaster canal opens a communication between this place and the mining districts, and supplies the neighbourhood with coal and other necessaries. About one mile north-east of the town is a grand aqueduct bridge, which conveys this canal over the river Lune. This great work was executed by Mr. John Rennie, the engineer, who acquired great reputation by it. At the spot where it has been built, the soft muddy bottom of the river rendered it necessary to lay a foundation at the depth of 20 feet below the surface of the water. This consists of a flooring of timber, supported by piles 30 feet long. This foundation alone is said to have cost 15,000l., and the whole was not completed for less than 48,000l., although the stone was obtained in the neighbourhood.

The bridge consists of five circular arches, springing from rusticated piers with Gothic ends. Each arch is 90 feet span, and rises 39 feet above the surface of the water. The total height from the surface of the river to that of the canal is 51 feet; and barges of sixty tons pass over it.

Past and present: Mansions Of Glasgow:-Jordanhill

This splendid description of the mansion house of Jordanhill appeared in the “The old country houses of the old Glasgow gentry
John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell, published in 1878″. This was an encyclopedia detailing the scores of magnificent houses in the Glasgow area, some of which are extant, others survive only in the streetnames and colloquialisms of local residents.

Jordanhill situated in the parish of Renfrew, and county of the same name, and is about four miles west of Glasgow.

About the year 1546 Lawrence Crawford of Kilbirnie founded a chaplainry at Drumry, and endowed it with the five pound lands of Jordanhill. This chapel stood near Garscadden, in Dumbartonshire, and seems to have been in existence before 1475. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Thomas, the sixth son of this Lawrence Crawford, was a celebrated soldier of his time, – among his other exploits, his most famous was the taking in 1571 of the Castle of Dumbarton, which was then considered impregnable. He acquired Jordanhill in 1562 from Bartholomew Montgomerie, the chaplain of Drumry, and probably the original house was built by him, and on the site of the present one.

He was Provost of Glasgow in 1577, and Crawford informs us that about the same time he built the bridge over the Kelvin at Partick, on which were carved his arms, and this inscription, –

He that by labour does any honestie,
The labour goes, the honour bides with thee;
He that by treason does onie vice also,
The shame remains, the pleasure soon agoes.

From him descended Lawrence Crawford, who was living in 1710, and who repaired the old house. It was then “beautified with pleasant orchards and gardens, and likewise well planted.”

In 1750 Jordanhill was sold to Alexander Houstoun, merchant in Glasgow, (1) of the family of Calderhaugh, in Midlothian. His son, Andrew Houstoun, about 1782, built upon the site of the old house, what now forms a great part of the present mansion.

Jordanhill was bought from the Houstouns in 1800, by Archibald Smith, West India merchant in Glasgow, and Dean of Guild in 1799. He was a younger son of James Smith of Craigend, Stirlingshire. (2) Shortly after his purchase he added considerably to the house, and greatly improved its appearance. He married Isobel Euing, and died in 1821, leaving with other issue (3) James, his successor. His widow died in 1855, aged 101.

James Smith of Jordanhill, F.R.S., &c.;, was well known as an antiquary, and man of letters and science. He published several valuable works on Geology and Biblical Criticism – his most important contribution to the latter being the well known work on the “Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul.” He had great taste for architecture, and furnished plans for many of his friends’ houses, and the Parish Church of Govan was built from his designs. He was also, for long, the father of yachting on the Clyde, having had a yacht from very early in life to the day of his death.

In 1824 he made considerable additions to the house, and made it both externally and internally what it now is. He died in January 1867.

By his marriage with Mary, daughter of Alexander Wilson, and grand-daughter of Dr. Alexander Wilson, Professor of Astronomy in the University of Glasgow, he had, with other issue, (4) Archibald, who succeeded to Jordanhill.

This gentleman, who was an M.A. of Cambridge, a Fellow of the Royal Society and an LL.D. of Glasgow University, &c.;, was a celebrated mathematician and barrister at law. (5) He married in 1853 Susan Emma, daughter of Vice-Chancellor Sir James Parker, and died in 1872, leaving issue James Parker, now of Jordanhill, born 1854, and six sons, of whom five survive, and two daughters.

(1) Alexander Houstoun was the founder of the great firm of Alexander Houstoun & Co., the partners in which, at the end of last century were, William Macdowall of Garthland, Andrew Houstoun of Jordanhill, Robert Houstoun Rae, and James Macdowall. Alexander Houstoun was one of the original partners of the “Ship,” the first Glasgow bank, which was established in 1750.

(2) See Craigend.

(3) Archibald Smith’s wife, Isobel Euing, was the daughter of Bailie William Euing. Her brother, William Euing, was the father of the late William Euing of the Royal Exchange, a citizen well known for his philanthropy and for literary and artistic tastes. His magnificent library, collected by himself with great care and judgment, was rich in early printed books and editions of the English Bible, and unique as regards works on music. At his death in 1874 he left his general library and Bibles to the University of Glasgow, and his valuable collection of works on music to Anderson’s College.

Archibald Smith and Isobel Euing’s family were James, who succeeded to Jordanhill, and died in 1867, aged eighty-five years; Isabella, who married John M’Call of Ibroxhill (which see) and died in 1871, aged eighty-seven years; William of Carbeth Guthrie (which see), who died in 1871 in his eighty-fourth year; and Archibald, formerly a West India proprietor and merchant in Glasgow, now in his eighty-third year. He resides at Artarman, Row. By his wife, Eliza M’Call, daughter of Thomas M’Call of Craighead (which see), he has an only son Thomas, who holds a high appointment in the Indian Civil Service, and two surviving daughters, Elizabeth Maria Lydia, who married in 1865 Captain William Henry Edye, R.N., and Emily Anne, unmarried. Martha Denroche, Isabella, and Archibald John M’Call died young.

(4) The only surviving members of James Smith’s family are Isabella, who married Henry Gore Booth, and has issue; and Sabina Douglas Clavering, who married the Rev. Robert Paisley, D.D., of St. Ninians; Christina Laura, who married Walter Buchanan, late M.P. for Glasgow, died, leaving a daughter; Louisa, who married William Hamilton of Minard, died, leaving a son and a daughter, and Jane Charlotte, died unmarried in 1864. Mary Joanna Guthrie, Mary, and Alexander died young.

(5) Archibald Smith, M.A., F.R.S., LL.D., &c.;, Barrister at Law, was born in 1813. In 1836 he took his degree as Senior Wrangler and First Smith’s Prizeman. He was a very famous mathematician, and in a notice of him published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society” shortly after his death, he is spoken of as one of the most learned of those able men, who, about forty years ago, “inaugurated a most fruitful revival of mathematics in England.” Subsequently, and while engaged as a Chancery Barrister in large practice, he turned his attention to the problem of ship’s magnetism, and in conjunction with Captain Evans, F.R.S., produced the “Admiralty Compass Manual,” a most learned and invaluable work, which is not only the handbook of the British Navy on this subject, but has also been adopted by the United States Navy Department, and after being translated into their various languages, is now in use in the Russian, German, French, and Portuguese navies. His labours of love in these and kindred abstruse subjects were towards the end of his life gratefully acknowledged by the British Admiralty, who requested his acceptance of a grant of £2000 “as a mark of recognition of the great and successful labours” which he had “bestowed on several branches of scientific inquiry of deep importance to Her Majesty’s Navy.” The Emperor of Russia also in 1866 gave him a gold compass, set in diamonds, and emblazoned with the Imperial Arms.

In 1864 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the representation of the Universities of Glasgow and St. Andrews. There is little doubt that his exhausting mental labours proved too severe for his naturally fine constitution, and he died in 1872 at the comparatively early age of fifty-nine years.

Past and present:Mansions Of Glasgow-Plantation

This description of the mansion house of Plantation appeared in the “The old country houses of the old Glasgow gentry by John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell, published in 1878”. This was an encyclopedia detailing the scores of magnificent houses in the Glasgow area; some of which are extant while others survive only in the streetnames and colloquialisms of local residents. Nothing remains of the house, with much of the estate now buried under the M8 and M77 motorways and an huge industrial estate. This article serves as a reminder of Glasgow’s links with the West Indies in particular and as Second City of the Empire.

The lands now called “Plantation,” are situated about one mile west from Tradeston, near the toll bar where the roads diverge, leading to Govan, and to Paisley. They extend to about eighty acres, and are intersected by the two roads referred to. They are bounded on the north by the Clyde, on the south by the Paisley Canal, on the east by Park House, and on the west by Bellahouston and Haughhead. They are made up of three old properties – Craigiehall, Miln Park, and Sleads and Knolls.

In 1783 this property was purchased by John Robertson, merchant in Glasgow. There was then a small dwelling house upon it. Mr. Robertson was a well known citizen. He and his brothers were proprietors of several sugar and cotton plantations in the West Indies, and this induced him to change the name of the property from Craigiehall to that of “Plantation.” Mr. Robertson was also many years cashier of “The Glasgow Arms Bank,” originally composed of about thirty of the principal merchants in Glasgow, which began in 1750, and ceased in 1793. Mr. Robertson and his brothers were likewise partners in the lucrative business of “The Smithfield Company,” for the manufacture of various articles of iron, such as nails, axes, spades, hoes, shovels, &c.; This old company began in 1734, and was conducted by descendants of former partners down till within the last forty years. They had slitting rolling and grinding mills on the Kelvin, near the Point-house, and the present “Slit Mill” there derives its name from this old iron-work. They had also a cluster of houses at the “Point-house” mouth of the Kelvin, and established the ferry there across the Clyde. The warehouse was in a large edifice at the Broomielaw, a short way west from the Jamaica Street bridge. Robertson Street was carried through part of the property of these brothers Robertson, and is named after them.

In 1793 the property was sold to John Mair. He it was who, by lavish expense, made Plantation the beautiful residence it used to be. He enlarged and embellished the mansion, added wings and offices, built great walls and gates, and formed gardens and grounds not surpassed in their day in this quarter. Mr. Mair’s history was a curious one. He was born in Paisley, and bred a mason. When working some height up Paisley steeple, he missed his footing, and was only saved by clutching a projecting stone. He managed to hold on by this till mattresses were hurried out to break his fall. But he had had enough of the mason trade. He left it and Paisley, and coming in to Glasgow, became a prosperous manufacturer here and in London, under the firm, which still goes on, of John Mair & Co. He had the stone that had stood him in such good stead brought to Plantation, and fixed in his grounds, and sacredly guarded. Beside it, in a sunny corner, he had an alcove built on the wall along the Govan Road : below was a seat : and here it was said he used to sit in thought. The top of the alcove, flanked by pinnacles, rose above the wall, and was a conspicuous object to the few passers by. The rumour ran in Govan parish that it surmounted the grave Mr. Mair was to lie in. But he lies in what was then the quiet country kirk-yard of Govan, with shady elms round it, and the clear river below. He died in 1824.

In 1829 Plantation was bought by William MacLean, dyer and manufacturer in Glasgow, and Deacon-Convener of that year. Mr. MacLean was afterwards Councillor and Bailie, and returning to the Council, after a long interval, served his native city again for several years, and only retired in 1864 when he was 81 years old. He died in 1867.

Since his death, the property which already, in his time, had been cut through by the railway to the south, and sliced away by the Clyde Trust to the north, has been entirely laid out for feuing, and in great part built over. And soon there will be little trace of its past history except in the names of some of the Streets, Mair and MacLean, Craigiehall and Plantation.

The house lot still belongs to Mr. MacLean’s eldest son, William. The mansion house is standing, but one of the wings is gone, and the rest must soon follow. The alcove and seat, and the “Mair remembrance-stone” have been carefully removed and rebuilt by another of Mr. MacLean’s sons on his property of Craigiehall, a few miles to the west of Plantation.

Past and present:Mansions Of Glasgow in Shawfield

What a brilliant story this makes! Magistrates and the Provost of Glasgow being arrested by the government militia for inciting a riot! Could only happen in Glasgow which to this day remains a bastion of genuine socialism, not willing to support the quasi-Thatcherite economic globalist agenda of “new labour”. OK end of politics lecture!

Shawfield stadium was, until the 1990s, the home of Clyde FC, who now play in a purpose-built stadium 15 miles away in Cumbernauld. There is still a greyhound racing track on the site of the former grand house and the track remains a popular venue in Scotland for this questionable spectator sport.

Shawfield is situated on the banks of the Clyde, in the parish of Rutherglen and county of Lanark.

In 1611 Sir Claud Hamilton, second son of Lord Claud Hamilton, who was Commendator of the Abbey of Paisley, and from whom descends the ducal family of Abercorn, had with Janet Hamilton, his spouse, a charter of the lands of Shawfield and others. About the middle of the same century his grandson, Sir James Hamilton, of Manor-Elieston, was in difficulties, and was obliged to sell Shawfield and remove to Ireland.

After being possessed for a short time by different families, Shawfield was acquired in 1707 by Daniel Campbell. (1)

Daniel Campbell of Shawfield is a name well known in Glasgow history. He had made a large fortune, and was, besides Shawfield, proprietor of the valuable estate of Woodhall, in the same county. Moreover, in 1711 he built for his town residence a very handsome edifice in Glasgow, which was known by the name of the “Shawfield Mansion,” and which became famous in connection with the “Shawfield Riots” of 1725.

These riots arose from the imposition of a malt tax upon Scotland, which was an extremely unpopular measure, and gave rise to the most vehement opposition in all the large towns, Glasgow in particular. Daniel Campbell was at that time M.P. for the Glasgow district of Burghs, he had voted in favour of this tax, and was in consequence viewed with great disfavour. On the day the tax was to come into operation a mob took possession of the city, prevented the officers of excise from collecting the duty, and proceeding to the Shawfield Mansion completely demolished the interior of it and destroyed all its contents. After some days of further rioting order was restored, but not until the military and the mob had come into collision and many lives lost. The Provost and Magistrates were arrested and taken prisoners to Edinburgh, by order of Lord Advocate Forbes, on the ground of having favoured and encouraged the mob, and, by doing so, having been the cause of the death of several of their fellow-citizens, of endangering His Majesty’s troops, and of causing the destruction of Shawfield house.

Mr. Campbell, by order of Parliament, received, from the city of Glasgow, about £9,000 as compensation for the damages and expenses caused by this riot. He soon afterwards purchased the island of Islay, and this money received from Glasgow formed a large part of the price paid for it.

On the death of Daniel Campbell his son John Campbell succeeded. He married in 1735 the Lady Henrietta Cunningham, daughter of William, twelfth Earl of Glencairn, and had three sons, of whom Daniel and John died unmarried and Walter succeeded.

Walter Campbell married first, in 1768, Eleanora, daughter of Robert Kerr of Newfield, and had, with other issue, (2) John, who married, in 1796, the Lady Charlotte Campbell, daughter of John, fifth Duke of Argyle, and had, with other issue, Walter Frederick Campbell, who succeeded his grandfather.

Walter Frederick Campbell of Islay was a very well-known man. He was member of Parliament for Argyleshire from 1820 until 1841, and lived in princely style in London and at Islay, but ultimately his fortune was so much impaired that he was obliged to sell all his estates. His son, John Francis Campbell, who is the representative of the Campbells of Shawfield, is a Barrister-at-Law and Groom of the Privy Chamber. (3)

Shawfield was sold by Walter Campbell in 1788, and after being in several hands is now the property of John White, and on part of the estate are placed the great chemical works of his firm, John & James White.

(1) “He was the son of John Campbell, an eminent Notary in Glasgow, whose office was in the then fashionable locality, rejoicing in the euphonious appellation of the Goosedubs.” (“Glasgow Past and Present.”)

(2) Walter Campbell’s family, by his first wife, were, (I.) John, who carried on the line; (II.) Robert of Skipness, who was the father of Colonel Walter Campbell, late of Skipness, author of several interesting works, and for many years in command of the Pensioners in Glasgow; (III.) Walter; (IV.) Colin. By his second wife Mary, daughter of William Nisbet of Dirleton, he had a son who died unmarried, and two daughters, of whom the eldest, Hamilton, married the late Lord Belhaven, and the younger, Mary, married James, fifth Lord Ruthven, whom she survived.

(3) His youngest daughter Castalia Rosalind is the second wife of Earl Granville, the popular leader of the Liberal party in the House of Lords.

Past and present:Victorian London

An almost unrecognisable picture of the capital city from the 1891 book “Picturesque England: Its Landmarks and Historic Haunts”. Much has changed since Victorian times when London was probably the most important city in the world and the centre of Empire.

The wonderful city that is the heart of the world’s thought and trade, and from which issue the power and the might of England, has less claim to be called picturesque than many another far less important capital. It is perhaps of too great extent to easily convey the idea of beauty; yet few who gaze upon London from its own imperial river will refuse to acknowledge that it possesses a certain charm and majesty peculiar to itself.

It was certainly more picturesque, in the ordinary sense of the word, in the old days when London Bridge had a street on it, and the town was full of quaint gabled houses such as Hollar has drawn for us. But it still possesses its ancient and picturesque Tower, its grand old Abbey, its fine Houses of Parliament; and from many parts of the river it will still afford subjects for the artist.

Stand for a few moments in early morning on Charing Cross Bridge, and look eastward, and you will see a noble river decked in the “many twinkling” smiles of summer sunshine; the pathway of busy men still, though no longer, as it once was, the bearer of royal or civic pageants. Before you is the finest of the London bridges, through the arches of which is caught a glimpse of the Temple and of the frontage of the City of London School, while in the distance is Blackfriars Bridge.

Above the centre of the bridge rises the majestic dome of St. Paul’s, and nearer to us the grey walls of Somerset House appear through the foliage of the Embankment gardens.

Perhaps a greater idea of the grandeur and wealth of the city may be gained by steaming up the Thames to Charing Cross, past the great docks that receive the shipping of the world.

They are of vast extent. St. Katharine’s, the first built, or rather constructed, occupy the site of the old St. Katharine’s Hospital, that was transferred to the Regent’s Park. These docks cost 2,000,000 to build. They cover 24 acres, nearly half of which are water. The London Docks, united to the St. Katharine in 1863, contain 90 acres, a third being water, and cost 4,000,000 of money to construct. Here are great warehouses of tobacco, rented by the Crown, immense wine vaults, covering acres of ground; the mixing house, which has a vat in it that will hold over 23,000 gallons; the wool, spices, tea, drugs, sugar, and other warehouses, innumerable and worthy of the great city that is the centre of the world’s trade.

From the docks we reach the Tower, which from the Thames is very picturesque, for we have here a view of the Traitor’s Gate, the Bloody Tower, where the little princes were murdered, and of a rather confused assemblage of walls and towers encircling the great keep, or White Tower, which rises proudly above them. We proceed up the river, and reach the Custom House Facade, facing the river. Immense sums are levied here yearly. Both this building and the docks are evidences of the enormous wealth of London. After passing Billingsgate Fish Market, we reach London Bridge.

Old London Bridge was picturesque in Elizabeth’s reign, and previously, with a gate-house at each end, a beautiful Gothic chapel in the middle, and stately houses on each side, with flat roofs having gardens and bowers on them. The Nonsuch House, richly carved and gilt, and prepared in Holland, stood near the drawbridge. In 1666 these houses were burnt down in the Great Fire, but they were rebuilt a few years after. In 1757 they were altogether removed; and in 1832 a new bridge replaced this memorable old one. Formerly, passing under the arches was called “Shooting London Bridge,” and was not a little dangerous, as the arches were very narrow, and the stream, thus impeded, rushed strongly through them. Now the passage is easy under the fine bridge of five semi-elliptical arches, two of 130 feet, two of 140 feet, and the centre arch 152 feet 6 inches span. The roadway is 52 feet wide.

Old London Bridge was associated with many events in the history of England. Here De Montfort repulsed the royal troops during the Barons’ War; here our great Henry V. crossed in triumph after Agincourt; and here, all too soon afterwards, his dead body was borne across in solemn pomp. In 1450 Jack Cade seized London Bridge; in 1554 it was the scene of Wyat’s rebellion.

Not many years ago the dynamitards endeavoured to blow up the present bridge; but in this instance, we believe, the engineer “was hoist with his own petard,” and the unhappy man perished in the act of committing a crime that might have destroyed hundreds.

The next picturesque scene is that presented by the Temple and Temple Gardens, the Water-gate of York House, on the Embankment Cleopatra’s Needle, the gardens open to the people, and Charing Cross station itself, of the view from which we have already spoken; while during the whole passage up the stream we have seen the glorious dome of St. Paul’s towering over the city.

Joanna Baillie has left us a very graphic description of London as seen inland from the heights of Hampstead Heath, and we think our readers will be glad to read her picture of London seen from a height slightly above it. It is thus she describes it:
“It is a goodly sight through the clear air,
From Hampstead’s heathy height to see at once
England’s vast capitol in fair expanse
Towers, belfries, lengthened streets, and structures fair.
St. Paul’s high dome, amidst the vassal bands
Of neighboring spires a regal chieftain stands,
And over fields of ridgy roofs appear,
With distance softly tinted, side by side,
In kindred grace, like twain of sisters dear,
The towers of Westminster, her abbey’s pride;
While far beyond the hills of Surrey shine
Through thin soft haze, and show their wavy line,
Viewed thus a goodly sight! but when surveyed
Through denser air, when moistened winds prevail,
In her grand panoply of smoke arrayed,
While clouds aloft in heavy volumes sail,
She is sublime. She seems a curtained gloom,
Connecting heaven and earth – a threatening sign of doom.
With more than natural height, reared to the sky
‘Tis then St. Paul’s arrests the wandering eye;
The lower parts in swathing mist concealed,
The higher through some half-spent shower revealed,
So far from earth removed, that well, I trow,
Did not its form man’s artful structure show,
It might some lofty Alpine height be deemed.
The eagle’s haunt, with cave and crevice seamed.
Stretched wide on either hand, a rugged screen
In lurid darkness, nearer streets are seen
Like shoreward billows of a troubled main
Arrested in their rage. Through drizzly rain
Cataracts of tawny sheen pour from the skies,
Of furnace smoke black curling columns rise,
And many-tinted vapours slowly pass
O’er the wide draping of that pictured mass,
So shows by day this grand imperial town,
And when o’er a I the night’s black stole is thrown,
The distant traveller doth with wonder mark
Her luminous canopy athwart the dark,
Cast up, from myriads of lamps that shine
Along her streets in many a starry line;
He wondering looks from his yet distant road,
And thinks the northern streamers are abroad.
‘What hollow sound is that? Approaching near,
The roar of many wheels breaks on his ear;
It is the flood of human life in motion!
It is the voice of a tempestuous ocean.
With sad but pleasing awe his soul is filled,
Scarce heaves his breast and all within is stilled,
As many thoughts and feelings cross his mind,-
Thoughts mingled, melancholy, undefined, –
Of restless, reckless man; and years gone by,
And time fast wending to eternity.”

Wordsworth has admirably described another phase of London, that all will recognize. He writes,-
“Before me flow,
Thou endless stream of men and moving things;
Thy everyday appearance, as it strikes-
With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe-
On strangers of all ages; the quick dance
Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening din;
The comers and the goers, face to face,
Face after face; the string of dazzling wares,
Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names,
And all the tradesman’s honours overhead.”

But in describing London we must not omit her Houses of Parliament. They are not of any great antiquity, dating from about 1840 to 1857; the previous building having been burnt down. But the assembling of the members of both if Houses dates from the reign of Henry III, and was owing to De Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and the Barons’ struggle for the people’s freedom. But when first elected, these citizens and burgesses were of an unimportant character, scarcely daring to raise their eyes to the nobles and prelates. “To grant money,” says Mr. Hallam, “was the main object of their meeting; and if the exigencies of the administration could have been relieved without subsidies, the citizens and burgesses might still have sat at home and obeyed the laws which a council of nobles and prelates enacted for their government. But it is a difficult question whether the king and the peers designed to make room for them, as it were, in legislation, and whether the purse drew after it immediately, or only by degrees, those indispensable rights of consenting to laws which they now possess.”

Their business, however, appears to have been to petition for redress of grievances, as well as provide money for the government.

There were not at first two houses; the Commons probably sat at one end of the hall at Westminster, and the Lords at the other, but they never intermingled their votes. The usual reason for calling a parliament was to raise money by taxation. But they soon had separate houses.

In the eleventh year of Edward I the Commons sat at Acton Burnell, and the Upper House at Shrewsbury.

The laws made by the early Parliaments are remarkable, especially those of Edward I. He has, in fact, with good reason been called the English Justinian.

But it is not of these laws, or of the struggles of the members at different times, that we are to speak now, but rather of the Houses themselves.

Westminster Hall was the first locality of parliament when held in London, and until separate houses were built for it.

In James the First’s time the famous Gunpowder Plot had nearly reduced the House to ashes, with those who were in it. Happily the nation was spared this crime, by the betrayal of the plot to Lord Monteagle.

But more than two centuries after, a fire broke out in the House of Commons, and both the Houses of Parliament were destroyed. We were shown once a pretty sketch of Guy Faux’s cellar, made at the time when access was easy through the ruins. The present noble building was commenced in 1840, and completed 1852.

There has been a Parliament that sat only one day; its business was the deposition of Richard II., for the power of Parliaments had then grown very great: they deposed one king, they went to war with another – it was not the Parliament that murdered him; they restored the monarchy; they elected William and Mary to fill the throne vacant by the flight of James Il.; they altered the succession and re-arranged it again for Henry VIII.; and twice they have changed the religion of the land. Much indeed was done in the old Houses; much has been done in the new.

The splendid building now in London, the work of Sir Charles Barry, has been threatened with destruction within the last six years by the dynamitards; in fact, the interior of the House of Commons received much injury from an explosion.

The House of Commons is 70 feet long and 45 broad. It is 45 feet in height, and is a noble chamber, though barely large enough to accommodate the present number of members The Speaker’s chair takes the place in this chamber that the throne does in the House of Lords. Over this is the visitors’ gallery. There are also galleries for reporters and for the public, and a ladies’ gallery, which holds only 38 or 39 persons. The Star Chamber Court occupies the site of the old Star Chamber. The upper waiting hall contains a number of frescoes from British poets: Griselda, from Chaucer; Lear and his daughters, from Shakspeare, etc. etc. A statue of Richard Coeur de Lion, by Marochetti, stands in Palace Yard; and in Parliament Square are statues of Canning, Peel, Palmerston, Derby, and Beaconsfield. On the 19th of April, the date of the great Tory leader’s death, his statue is richly decked with primroses, his favourite flower; frequently the pedestal is nearly buried under the sweet heaps of the woodland blossom.

The House of Lords is a very fine chamber, rich in carved work, colour, and gilding; it is 97 feet long, 45 feet broad, and 45 feet high. Here is the throne on a dais, and on a less elevated one a chair for the Prince of Wales, and the personage next in honour. In front of the throne is the Woolsack, covered with crimson cloth, on which the Lord Chancellor sits. The peers’ seats are also covered with crimson. Frescoes decorate the walls, and the twelve painted glass windows are at night lighted from the outside.

The exterior of the Houses is very fine They cover eight acres of ground, and have four fronts: the one facing the river is 940 feet long. The building contains eleven open courts, five hundred rooms, the official residences, the state apartments, and the Houses of Lords and Commons.

The style of building is Gothic, and the stone is very finely carved; the Houses are very picturesque, the work on them somewhat resembling that on the fine Town Halls of the Netherlands. The clock tower, or campanile, is 320 feet high and 40 feet square. It contains a great bell called Big Ben. There was a bell called Great Tom of Westminster, in the old Houses, till it was removed to St. Paul’s in 1699. A strange story is told of this bell. A soldier named John Hatfield, in the reign of William and Mary, was tried by courtmartial for being asleep on his post upon the Terrace of Windsor Castle. He pleaded “not guilty,” declaring that he was awake, and had heard Great Tom strike thirteen instead of twelve at midnight. His statement was thought absurd; it was said that he could not have heard the bell at that distance, and that it could not have struck thirteen. However, several persons living in the neighbourhood of Great Tom, came forward and swore that they had heard it strike thirteen at twelve o’clock that night; so the sentinel was acquitted. The present clock is not subject to such vagaries, but keeps time admirably.

The Victoria Tower is 75 feet square and 340 high, and it has a very fine entrance to the House of Lords, an archway 65 feet high. The royal entrance is by this tower, and leads to the Norman porch, where are the statues of the Norman sovereigns, then to the Robing Room. The Victoria gallery is decorated with frescoes, and has a gilded ceiling and stained glass windows, and paintings by Maclise, etc., etc. The Queen passes through this gallery to the House of Lords when she opens Parliament.

Westminster Hall is the vestibule of the House of Commons. It was built by William Rufus, was raised in height by Richard II., whose cognizance, a White Hart, is to be seen on the stone mouldings. The Hall is a very fine building 290 feet long, 68 feet wide, and 92 feet high. It is full of historical memories. In it the coronnation feasts were always given; and the High Courts of Justice were held in it for seven centuries and a hall Here Sir William Wallace, the champion of Scotland (basely betrayed to the English), was tried and most unjustly condemned to death. Here were tried and condemned the Protector Somerset, Sir Thomas More, Lord Stratford, and Charles I.; and as the whirligig of time brings its revenges, upon the south gable were afterwards set the heads of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw.

The Hall is now being repaired and restored.

The Courts of Law were transferred, in 1883, to the Royal Courts of Justice, erected by Mr. Street on the north side of the Strand.

London is a town of great antiquity. It was a British city, and was then named Caer-Ludd, or the City of Lud; we still retain the name in Ludgate.

The Romans called it Londinium, from which London is derived. Tacitus spoke of it as frequented by a great many merchants, and having many ships entering its port. The Romans built the old city walls, and fixed the gates, and made Watling Street, a great highway running from London to the north.

London’s instincts of civilization appear to have been always strong, so that it became very early friendly to the Romans, who had many zealous partisans both in London and in St. Albans; or, as the towns were then called, in Londinium and Verulamium. In consequence, when the more savage Britons revolted, under Boadicea London and Verulamium were attacked with fury by her followers as strongholds of Roman power, and 70,000 of their inhabitants were slain or massacred. But it was not till the Norman times that London gained great importance; since that period, however, every passing century has added to its riches and extent.

Our great city is full of historical memories, and much of it is “haunted ground,” bearing names that are associated with some of the chief events in our history and in our literature.

In the Tower nearly all the greatest and best of England’s nobles suffered during the ages of tyranny, when the Plantagenets and Tudors ruled the land.

In the Temple were gathered the fatal White and Red roses that deluged England with blood.

In Whitehall and St James’s Palace kings and queens suffered: a king died on the block at the former, the unhappy Queen Anne lived at the latter with a tyrannical favourite. From St. James’ also issued and still issue all the declarations of war or peace that have chiefly made our history.

In the Strand dwelt several of Elizabeth’s nobles; and in London Shakspeare wrote and acted, Milton lived, Addison and Steele wrote, and Dr. Johnson and Lamb. perambulated Fleet Street, and preferred it to the lovely spots that make picturesque England.

In all ages of our history London has taken a foremost place in wealth, literature and patriotism.

Village Signs Art

Uniquely English and more common in East Anglia than elsewhere, village signs are not to be confused with the signs which mark the borders of a settlement along the main roads entering the settlement. Village signs are often found in the geographical or community centre of the settlement often besides a church, on a communal green or near a community hall. They are often richly decorated and evocative of the village’s distinct history, trades and industry or in some cases legends or myths.

Shimpling, from Old English (OE) spelled as Simplinga in 1089 Domesday Book meaning the settlement (ingas) of Scimpel’s people.

The village sign shows the parish church of St. George together with a depiction of the now ruined smock windmill.

Stanningfield in west Suffolk is just off the A143 Bury St.Edmunds to Sudbury road.

Its name is thought to derive from “stony ground”.

The sign shows the parish church St.Nicolas (French spelling).

Lower left depicts a scene from the uncovering of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Local landowners the Rookwoods were Catholics and Ambrose Rookwood was the eldest son of Robert Rookwood by his second wife Dorothea. He was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot and was hanged on the morning of 31 January 1606, Old Palace Yard, Westminster in London.

Lower right shows coat of arms of the Rookwood family.