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his widow. Fox was buried, it will be remembered, in Westminster Abbey..
The ancient importance of the town was mainly owing to the noble abbey, which was originally founded in 666, by Frithwalde, governor or subregulus of the province of Surrey, under Wulfhere, King of Mercia ; and by him appropriated to the Benedictines. In the ninth century the abbey was destroyed by the Danes, who murdered the abbot, Beocca, and all the monks, ninety in number. The monastery probably revived in some measure, but it was not till the following century that it was fully restored, when Edgar (in 964) rebuilt the edifice and refounded the monastery, in conjunction with the Father of Monks, Ethelwold, who ejected the monks already there, and supplied their place with others willing to submit to a stricter rule. This building does not appear to have had a very lengthened existence, for in the Saxon Chronicle it is recorded, under A.D. 10106 This year men began to work at the new monastery of Chertsey.” The monastery continued on the whole to prosper until the dissolution. The abbot wore the mitre, was a baron, owing military service to the king, and had privileges as wide as was customary with lord abbots; the estates of the monastery were extensive, and the abbey buildings were large and of considerable magnificence. At the dissolution, the clear revenue was £659. 15s. 8fd., the gross revenue being nearly a hundred pounds more.
The abbey stood in the meadows north of the town, between it and the river. The site was granted in the 6th of Edward VI. to Sir William Fitzwilliam. The buildings were speedily de
molished. Aubrey said that scarce anything remained of them in his day except the outer walls; “the streets of Chertsey,” he adds, are all raised by the ruins of the abbey.” He also notices the “ fair house, built out of the ruins, and now in the occupation of Sir Nicholas Carew, Master of the Buckhounds.” Some seventy years afterwards, Stukeley * describes a visit he made to “the abbey, or rather the site of the abbey ; for so total a dissolution,” he says, “ I scarcely ever saw; so inveterate a rage against even the least appearance of it, as if they meant to defeat even the inherent sanctity of the ground. Of that noble and splendid pile, which took up four acres of ground, and looked like a town, nothing remains; scarcely a tittle of the outward wall of the precinctus. ... The mount and all the terraces of the pleasure-garden on the back-front of the house, (built on the site and out of the walls of the abbey,) are entirely made up of the sacred rudera and rubbish of continual devastations. Human bones, of the abbots, monks, and great personages, who were buried in great numbers in the church and cloisters, which lay on the south side of the church, were spread thick all over the garden, which takes up the whole church and cloisters ; so that one may pick up handfuls of bits of bones at a time everywhere among the garden-stuff.* Foundations of the religious
* Letter to Dr. Ducarel, Oct. 1752, published in Gent.' Mag.' March, 1797.
ť Stukeley should have noticed how this garden-stuff flourished. "Bones make excellent manure, and the practice here might have supplied a serviceable hint to future purchasers of churches or burial-grounds. In our days another use has been found for human bones. We learn from Dr. Mantell's pleasant little • Day's Ramble in Lewes,' that in
buildings have been dug up, carved stones, slender pillars of Sussex marble, monumental stones, effigies, crosses, inscriptions, everywhere, even beyond the terraces of the pleasure-garden. The domains of the abbey extended all along upon the side of the river for a long way, being a very fine meadow. They made a cut at the upper end of it, which taking in the water of the river, when it approaches the abbey gains a fall sufficient for a water-mill for the use of the abbey and of the town. Here is a very large orchard ; with many and long canals or fish-ponds, which, together with the great moat around the abbey, and deriving its waters from the river, were well stocked with fish.”
Of the little there was left when Stukeley visited the place, nearly all is gone now. The abbey house is pulled down; the mounds and terraces have been levelled; the moat is filled up. A fragment of wall, and a rude gateway forming part of a farm-house, with some pavement, are all that remain. The cut still bears the name of the Abbey River, and yet works a mill. Henry VI. was interred in Chertsey Abbey. The day after his death, his corpse was removed with some pomp from the Tower to the church of Saint Paul, where it lay in state for a day, and the next day, as the old excavating within the precincts of the old priory there, for the purpose of carrying the railway through it, a vast quantity of human bones were found, which were supposed to have belonged to the soldiers slain in the famous battle of Lewes. Thirteen waggon-loads of these bones were removed, and-employed in constructing the railway embankment. Now, had the Directors known, or recollected, their other use, they would probably have found a more profitable investment of them.
chronicler relates, “ without priest or clerk, torch or taper, singing or saying, it was conveyed to the monastery of Chertsey.” By the monks it was received with more respect, and buried with due solemnity. A few years later it was carried to Windsor, where it finally rested.
Chertsey, perhaps, owes its chief fame to having been for awhile the dwelling-place of Abraham Cowley. And his abode here has been rendered more than usually notorious from its having served as a standing illustration, in terrorem, of the fallacy of anticipating happiness in a withdrawal from the “ busy hum of men” into the seclusion of the country. We may therefore spend a little time, not quite unprofitably, in looking at the circumstances connected with his residence here, and endeavouring to ascertain whether the inference is fairly drawn, that his retirement should be regarded as a warning.
Cast upon a time of unexampled change and excitement, Cowley had spent all the years of early manhood and the better part of middle-age in cities, engaged in the business and the intrigues of courts, and the stirring occupations of public life. All the while he had constantly declared his preference for the country, and his strong desire to retire to it, and spend the remainder of his days in its peaceful employments, and in the studious and meditative habits its leisure would afford. But he was in the predicament described by a poet, two or three centuries before his time
“ Albeit he was a philosopher,
He had but little gold in coffer;"
and he lingered on, vainly waiting for some of
those courtly rewards he had been led to expect would be the recompense of his adherence to the Royal cause in its adversity, and his labours in its behalf. At length, with a heart sick of hope deferred, he resolved to indulge the desire he had long cherished, to use his own words, by “withdrawing himself from all the tumult and business of the world ; and consecrating the little rest of his time to those studies to which Nature had so motherly inclined him, and from which Fortune, like a step-mother, had so long detained him.”
He first took a house at Barnes Elms, where he was “ soon afflicted with a dangerous and lingering fever ;" for, according to Sprat, “ out of haste to be gone away from the noise and tumult of the city, he had not prepared so healthful a situation in the country as he might have done if he had made a more leisurable choice.” On his partial recovery he removed to Chertsey (in 1665, being in his 47th year), having " obtained, by the interest of the Earl of St. Alban's and the Duke of Buckingham, such a lease of the queen's lands there as afforded him an ample income.”
“ By the lovers of virtue and of wit,” says Dr. Johnson (in his Life of Cowley), “it will be solicitously asked, if he now was happy. Let them peruse one of his letters accidentally preserved by Peck, which I recommend to the considerution of all that may hereafter pant for solitude :"To DR. THOMAS SPRAT.
Chertsey, May 21, 1665. • The first night that I came hither I caught so great a cold, with a deflexion of rheum, as made me keep my chamber ten days. And two after, I had