been brasses of bishops and others, but the brasses have nearly all been removed ; one, however, remains perfect--the effigy of Abbot Bewforeste in his robes and with his insignia ; on the end of the adjoining stall-desk his name and crozier are also carved. In the south aisle is placed the statue of a bishop, which was dug up a few years since from under the floor. There are also two stone coffins, one of which was found before Camden's time, the other much more recently

There is also preserved here a Saxon or Norman font, considered by Gough and Stukeley to be the oldest in England; but that may fairly be questioned. The bowl of it is of cast lead, and of large size, its internal diameter being one foot ten inches and a half; outside, two feet two inches ; depth inside,

one foot. It was intended for baptizing the child · by immersion, as is still done in it at the pleasure of the parents. Around the outside of it are eleven figures seated under semicircular arches, and each holding a book. By some they are supposed to represent the apostles (Judas being omitted); by others, to relate to the adventures of St. Birinus. The pedestal is of stone, and much more modern, though probably it is as old as the fifteenth century.

The church, as has been said, belonged to the priory. On the dissolution of the religious establishments, the body of the church appears to have been retained for parochial use, but Richard Beauforest, whom Leland calls 6 a great rich man dwelling in the town of Dorchester,” purchased the chancel, which had been condemned, for the sum of 1401., and at his death bequeathed it, and all that he had bought which belonged to it, to the parish, and also 20s. for its reparation. During the Civil War it greatly suffered, and much damage was done to the sculpture about it by the Commonwealth soldiers. Far greater, however, has been the injury it has since undergone. Windows have been stopped up; arches filled with plaster ; carvings hewn down to make way for wooden wainscoting; roofs covered up or removed ; and the whole inside has been daubed over times innumerable with coarse coats of whitewash-to say nothing of the infiction of tall pews, or sundry coats of paint on the wooden carvedwork. A better feeling is abroad now, and an effort is being made thoroughly to repair and restore this noble old pile. The Oxford Architectural Society have zealously set about the undertaking. They have had the church carefully surveyed, and estimate that the whole may be accomplished for 40001.-a sum that certainly appears scarcely adequate for such a restoration as they contemplate. Meanwhile, they have raised funds sufficient to restore the chancel; and they earnestly appeal to all interested in the preservation of our ecclesiastical architecture to aid them in completing their task. · I have dwelt much longer on this and one or two other old churches than I intended, and have gone into details beyond the limits I proposed-we shall not, however, meet with any more that will detain us. And now, at parting with the subject, let me say a few words on these churches and church restorations. I at once acknowledge that I am desirous to induce the rambler who has not been used to heed these village churches, to pay some attention to them, and to interest him in their preservation, or, if needful, restoration. He who neglects them, neglects some of the most interesting and often instructive objects in his journey. Our old churches are among the noblest relics we possess of the piety and the skill of our ancestors. Many of them are, both in the general design and in the de. tails, of exquisite beauty, while others are of the highest grandeur. That these glorious monuments of our forefathers' genius should be preserved, and, where they have been injured by time, or ignorant or foolish men, that they should be as far as possible restored in all essential particulars to their original state, is what I think every Englishman ought to desire. It has, indeed, been strangely said that those who are desiring to “ restore churches” are seeking thereby “ to restore popery." A strange thing if true, and the method they adopt an unlikely one! If there be such, their number is assuredly very small. I have no sympathy with those who would restore mere trivialities, mere archaisms; and I think it a manifest wrong to reproduce in a Protestant church what is essentially unconnected with Protestant worship :-and it must be confessed that there are some restorers who display a nervous anxiety for these things. This is not the ancient spirit. The men who originally constructed these glorious edifices would have been the last to insert what only belonged to a state of things that had passed away. The objects in question had a real use when the churches were raised; but they were destroyed by the Reformers, as adverse to Protestantism, and they ought not to be reintroduced-especially as mere ornaments-in a Protestant church. Where they remain, they ought not, of course, to be destroyed, as they are harmless now; but to reintroduce them where they are not, if there be no end which they are to subom serve, is more puerility; and if there be an end, and it is one which the Church does not sanction, it is something far worse.

The four or five miles between Dorchester and Wallingford have nothing to call for particular notice; but on arriving at Shillingford bridge it would be well to diverge two or three miles to the left to Ewelme, for the sake of its unusually rich store of antiquities. The church is a remarkably fine one of the fifteenth century, and contains soine monuments of more than common celebrity-one of them being that of the Duchess of Suffolk mentioned in the notice of Stanton-Harcourt; while another, of Sir Thomas Chaucer, is remarkable for its heraldic quarterings. There are also some architectural remains in the parish ; and the situation and the neighbourhood are pleasing.

Wallingford is a very neat, respectable, priin-looking country-town of nearly eight thousand souls ; it has clean streets, some good houses, capital inns: also a well-attended market, and—unfortunately for its morality—the privilege of sending one member to the Imperial Parliament. The town can boast both of its antiquity and ancient importance. It is believed to have been the Roman town of Tamesis, and is known to have been a considerable place in Saxon times. It was destroyed by the Danes in A.D. 1006. In the castle of Wallingford, which then belonged to a Saxon, named Wigod, William I., before proceeding to London after the battle of Hastings, received the homage of Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, and several other of the principal spiritual and temporal lords. The daughter of Wigod married Robert D'Oyley, a

Norman baron, who built himself a castle at Wallingford, but whether on the site of the old one is not known. D’Oyley's castle was of prodigious strength; and during the long struggle between Stephen and Matilda, being held for the empressqueen by its owner Brien Fitz-Count, who had succeeded to it by marriage with the daughter of D’Oyley, was several times besieged by the king in person, but without success. It was to Wallingford Castle that Matilda fled on her escape from Oxford Castle over the snow: and it was at Wallingford that the treaty was entered into by which this miserable contest was terminated. When Henry, in 1153, came from the Continent to continue the quarrel from which his mother had retired, his army and that of Stephen met at Wallingford. The armies encamped on opposite sides of the river, and lay watching each other for two days and nights, being prevented from an engagement by the sudden swelling of the water. During this space the nobles on each side sought to bring about an accommodation ; and the Earl of Arundel at length ventured to say publicly that “ it was not reasonable to prolong the calamities of a whole nation, on account of the ambition of two princes.” The two princes were induced by the general feel. ing to enter into a conference across a narrow part of the river, at which they agreed to a truce with a view to the settlement of a peace. The peace, as is well known, was afterwards concluded at a solemn council of the kingdom held at Winchester, when it was determined that Stephen should retain the crown during his life, and that Henry should be adopted by him as his successor.

The castle endured many sieges in succeeding

« 上一页继续 »