The Project Gutenberg eBook, Rambles in an Old City, by S. S. Madders

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Title: Rambles in an Old City
       comprising antiquarian, historical, biographical and political associations

Author: S. S. Madders

Release Date: September 14, 2010  [eBook #33724]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1853 Thomas Cautley Newby edition by David Price, email

Norwich street scene

Rambles in an Old City;




By S. S. Madders.


Thomas Cautley Newby,
30, welbeck street, cavendish square.


p. iiiPREFACE.

It has been very aptly remarked by a recent writer, that “to send forth a work without a preface, is like thrusting a friend into the society of a room full of strangers, without the benefit of an introduction;” a custom that no fashion can redeem from the charge of incivility.  A book, however insignificant, grows beneath the author’s pen, to occupy a place in his regard, not unworthy the title of friendship; and as that sacred bond of social union is not dependent upon individual perfection, so the companion of many a solitary hour is not to be cast out upon the “wide, wide world,” without one word to secure it at least a gentle reception, be its faults as manifold and manifest as they may, even to the most partial eye.

p. ivThe design of this little book of “Rambles,” has been to concentrate into the form of a light and amusing volume, some few of the many subjects of interest suggested by the leading features of an “Old City.”  It makes no pretensions to any profound learning or deep research.  It is little more than a compilation of facts, interwoven with the history of one of the oldest cathedral and manufacturing cities of our country; but inasmuch as the general features are common to most other ancient cities, and many of the subjects are national and universal in their character, the outlines are by no means strictly local in their application or interest.

Whether the design has been carried out, in a way at all worthy of the hale old city of Norwich, that has served as “the text of the discourse,” remains to be proved; but the attempt to contribute to the light literature of the day a few simple gleanings of fact, as gathered by a stranger, during a ten years’ residence in a “strange land,” will, it is to be hoped, secure a lenient judgment for the inexperience that has attempted the task.

p. vThe sources of information from which the historical parts of the work have been derived, are such as are open to every ordinary student; its light character has precluded the introduction of notes of reference, but it would amount to downright robbery to refrain from acknowledging the copious extracts that have been made from the valuable papers of the Norfolk Archæological Society.

For the kind assistance of the few individuals from whom information has been sought, many thanks are due; and it is but just to state, that all deficiences of matter or details, that may probably be felt by many, more familiar than the writer herself with the persons, places, and things, that make the sum and substance of her work, are referable alone to the difficulty she has experienced in selecting suitable materials to carry out her design, from the abundance placed at her disposal; a tithe of which might have converted her “rambles” into a heavy, weary “march,” along which few might have had patience to accompany her.

To these few observations must be subjoined an p. viexpression of earnest and heartfelt thanks to the many liberal-minded individuals who have extended encouragement to this feeble effort of a perfect stranger.  That some portion or other of the contents of her little volume may be found worthy their acceptance, is the fervent desire of

The Authoress.

      January 1, 1853.






the cathedral



the castle



the market-place



the guildhall









conventual remains and biographical sketches


p. viiiERRATA. [0]

Page 7, line 15, for “these,” read “those.”

„ 8, line 10, for “querus,” read “querns.”

„ 37, line 16, for “veriest,” read “various.”

„ 59, lines 24 and 26, for “Hoptin,” read “Hopkin.”

„ 64, line 8, for “spirit—powers,” read “spirit-powers.”


Who that has ever looked upon the strange conglomerations of architecture that line the thoroughfares of an ancient city, bearing trace of a touch from the hand of every age, from centuries far remote,—or watched the busy scenes of modern every-day life, surrounded by solemnly majestic, or quaintly grim old witnesses of our nation’s’ infancy,—but has felt the Poetry of History that lies treasured up in the chronicles of an “Old City?”

We may not all be archæologists, we may many of us feel little sympathy with the love of accumulating time-worn, moth-eaten relics of ages passed away, still less may we desire to see the resuscitation of dead forms, customs or laws, which we believe to p. 2have been advances upon prior existing institutions, living their term of natural life in the season appointed for them, and yielding in their turn to progressions more suited to the growing wants of a growing people; but there are few minds wholly indifferent to the associations of time and place, or that are not conscious of some reverence for the links connecting the present with the past, to be found in the many noble and stupendous works of ancient art, yet lingering amongst us, massive evidences of lofty thoughts and grand conceptions, which found expression in the works of men’s hands, when few other modes existed of embodying the imaginations of the mind.

It is not now my purpose to draw comparisons between the appeals thus made through the outward senses to the spirituality of our nature, and the varied other and more subtle means employed in later days, to awaken our feelings of veneration and devotion, but it may be observed in passing, that amid the floods of change that have swept across our country’s history, it is scarcely possible but that some good should have been lost among the débris of decayed and shattered institutions.  We have now to take a sweeping glance at the general outline of the place that has been chosen as the nucleus from which to spin our web, of light and perhaps fanciful associations.  A desultory ramble through the streets p. 3and bye-ways of an old city, that owns six-and-thirty parish churches, the ghosts of about twenty more defunct, the remains of four large friaries and a nunnery, some twenty or thirty temples of worship flourishing under the divers names and forms of “dissent,” two Roman branches of the Catholic Church, a Jewish synagogue, a hospital, museum, libraries, and institutions of every possible name, and “refuges” for blind, lame, halt, deaf, “incurable,” and diseased in mind, body, or estate; that is sprinkled with factories, bounded by crumbling ruins of old rampart walls, and studded with broken and mutilated bastion towers,—brings into view a series of objects so heterogeneous in order and character, that to arrange the ideas suggested by them to the mind or memory, is a task of no slight difficulty.

The great “lions” of interest to one, may rank the very lowest in the scale of another’s imagination or fancy.  The philosopher, the poet, the philanthropist, the antiquarian, the utilitarian, the man of the world, and the man of the day, each may choose his separate path, and each find for himself food for busy thought and active investigation.

The archæologist may indulge his love of interpreting the chiselled finger-writing of centuries gone by, upon many a richly decorated page of sculpture, and, hand in hand with the historian and divine, may trace out the pathway of art and religion, through p. 4the multiform records of genius, devotional enthusiasm, taste, and beneficence, chronicled in writings of stone, by its ecclesiastical remains; he may gratify himself to his heart’s content with “vis-à-vis” encounters with grim old faces, grinning from ponderous old doorways, or watching as sentinels over dark and obscure passages, leading to depths impenetrable to outward vision, and find elaborately carved spandrils and canopies, gracing the entrances of abodes where poverty and labour have long since found shelter in the cast-off habitations of ancient wealth and aristocracy.

He may venture to explore cavernous cellars with groined roofings and piers that register their age; may make his way through moth-corrupted storehouses of dust and lumber; to revel in the grandeur of some old “hall,” boasting itself a relic of the domestic architecture of the days of the last Henry, and there lose himself in admiration of old mullioned windows, tie-beams, and antique staircases; may ferret out old cabinets and quaint old buffets hard by, that once, perchance, found lodging in the “Stranger’s Hall,” as it is wont, though erringly, to be designated; he may wander thence through bye lanes and streets, stretching forth their upper stories as if to meet their opposite neighbours half way with the embrace of friendship; over the plain, memorable as the scene of slaughter in famous Kett’s rebellion, p. 5to the “World’s End;” and see amid the tottering ruins of half demolished pauper tenements, the richly carved king-posts and beams of the banquet chamber of the famous knight, Sir Thomas Erpingham, whose martial fame and religious “heresy” have found a more lasting monument than the perishable frame-work of his mansion-house, in the magnificent gateway known by his name, and raised in commemoration of his sin of Lollardism.  He may accompany the philanthropist in his visit to the “Old Man’s Hospital,” and mourn over the misappropriation of the nave and chancel of fine old St. Helen’s, where lies buried Kirkpatrick, a patriarch of the tribe of antiquaries; he may visit the grammar school that has sent forth scholars, divines, warriors, and lawyers; a Keye, a Clarke, an Earle, [5] a Nelson, and a Rajah Brooke, to spread its fame in the wide world.  He may see in it a record of the days when grammar was forbidden to be taught elsewhere; he may peep through the oriels that look in upon the charnel-house of the ancient dead beneath; may feast his eyes upon the beauties of the Erpingham, and strange composite details of the Ethelbert gateways; explore the mysteries of the Donjon, or Cow Tower; and following the windings of the river past the low archway of the picturesque little ferry, find himself at length stumbling upon some fragment p. 6of the old “Wall.”  Thence he may trace the ancient frontier line of the Old City, and the sites of its venerable gateways, that were, but are not; the flintwork of the old rampart, now clinging to the precipitous sides of “Butter Hills,” with an old tower at the summit, mounted, sentinel-like, to keep watch over the ruins of the Carrow Abbey, and the alder cars, that gave it its name in the valley below; now, following a broken course, here and there left in solitude for wild creepers and the rare indigenous carnation to take root upon; now bursting through incrustations of modern bricks and mortar, and showing a bastion tower, with its orifices ornamented by spread-eagle emblems of the stone-mason’s craft in the precincts below; here, forming the back of slaughter-houses, or the foundations of some miserable workshop, fashioned from the rubble of its sides; thence wandering on through purlieus of wretchedness and filth that might shake the nerves of any more vulnerable bodies than “paving commissioners” or “boards of health;” its arched recesses, once so carefully defined, its elevated walks, so studiously preserved for recreation as well as for defence, all now rendered an indefinite disfigured mass, with accretions of modern growth, that bear the stamp upon every feature of their parentage, poverty and decay.  He may visit barns and cottages with remnants of windows and doorways, that make it p. 7easy to believe they once had been the shrine of a St. Mary Magdalen; may trace out for himself, among hovels and cellars, and reeking court-yards, grey patches of festering ruin, last lingering evidences of the age of conventual grandeur; here, in the priory yard of a parish, that might be said to shelter the offscum of poverty’s heavings up, he shall find a little ecclesiastical remnant of monastic architecture, converted into a modern meeting-house; the nursery walls that cradled the genius of a Bale, the carmelite monk, and great chronicler of his age, now echoing the doctrines of the “Reformed Religion,” as taught by the Anabaptist preacher.  In another district, but still skirting on the river-side, where those old monks ever loved to pitch their dwelling-places, down in a dreary little nook, shut out from noisy thoroughfares, and bearing about it all the hushed stillness that beseems the place, he may seek the ghostly companionship of the old “friar of orders grey” in the lanes and walks that once bounded the flourishing territory of the rich “mendicant” followers of holy St. Francis, or “friars minors,” as they were wont to call themselves.  Not far distant, the whereabouts of the old Austin Friars may invite attention; and the locale of the “Carrow Nunnery,” or ladies’ seminary of the mediæval times, claim a passing enquiry, and note of admiration for the beauty of its site.

p. 8Sacred spots, consecrated by the holy waters of loving humanity and gentle charity, in ages gone by, as the refuge of the diseased leper and homeless poor, shall be pointed to as the mustard-seed from whence have sprung those glorious monuments of our land, the hospitals for the sick of these later generations.

Nor would he rest content without a glimpse of the Museum and its relics of the dead, its hieroglyphical urns and querns, spurs, fibulæ, and celts, its pyxes and beads, its lamps and coins, that lead imagination back to pay domiciliary visits to the wooden huts, earthen fortifications, and sepulchral hearths of our Icenic, Roman, or Saxon forefathers, while gaping Egyptian mummies stand by, peering from their wizened-up eye-balls at the industrious student of the “gallery of antiquities,” looking wonder at the preference displayed for them, over the more brilliant attractions offered to the lover of natural history, and ornithology in particular, among the collections below.

Nor shall the antiquarian be alone in his enjoyment.  The botanist shall delight to enrich his herbarium from the same hedgerows, fir-woods, cornfields and rivulets, that have yielded flowers, mosses, hepatica, and algæ to the researches of a Smith, a Hooker, and a Lindley, the children of science nurtured on its soil.  The lover of music shall find p. 9fresh beauties in the harmonies of its organs, quires, and choruses, from the halo of associations cast around them by the memories of a Crotch, the remembrance of the Gresham professorship, filled from the musical ranks of the city, and may be, in time to come from a new lustre added by another name, that has begun to be sounded forth by the trumpet of fame in the musical world.

The scholar and literary man shall acknowledge the interest claimed by the nursery in which has been reared a Bale, a Clarke, a Parker, a Taylor, a Gurney, an Opie, and a Borrow, and we may add, a Barwell and a Geldart, whose fruit and flowers, scattered on the way-side of the roads of learning, have made many a rough path smooth to young and tender feet.

The philanthropist shall dwell upon the early lessons of Christian love and humanity breathed into the heart of a Fry from its prison-houses, and the silent teachings of the quiet meeting-house, where the brethren and sisters, in simple garb of sober gray, are wont to assemble, and where yet may still be seen the adopted sister Opie, resting in the autumn of her days in the calm seclusion of the body of Friends, after a life spent in scattering abroad in the world, germs of simple truth, pure morality, and heart-religion, the fruits of the genius which has been her gift from God.  He shall visit Earlham p. 10Hall, the birthplace of that great “sister of charity,” Elizabeth Fry, and her brother, the philanthropist, Joseph John Gurney, and beneath its avenues of chestnut, by the quiet waters of its little lake, and the banks of bright anemones, that lay spread like a rich carpet, in the early spring time, along its garden borders, inhale sweet odours, and drink in refreshing draughts of pure unsullied poetry, fresh from the fount of nature, and fragrant with the love that breathes through all her teachings, the first child of the Great Parent of good.

Hence he may trace his way back through the village hamlet, that gave a home in his last years to the weary-hearted Hall, yielding a refuge and a grave to the head bowed beneath the weight of a sorrow-burthened mitre; and with hearts yet vibrating to the mournful cadences of woe, that swept from his harp strings, forth upon the world from its saddened solitudes, they may pass on to the garden of the Bishop’s Palace, and the monuments yet lingering there; ivy-clad ruins, meet emblems of harsh realities, over which the hand of time has thrown the sheltering mantle of forgiveness.  And among the many chords touched by the hand of memory here, where the shades of harsh bigotry and persecuting zeal vanish in the gentle and softened light of Christian charity, breathed forth by the spirits of later days, whose heart does not respond p. 11to the refined poetry of the Charlotte Elizabeth, who has given such sweet paintings of this familiar scene of her girlhood’s years?  Who can forget the song of the Swedish Nightingale, as it thrilled through the evening air upon the listening ears of the ravished, though untutored multitude? happy associations of the enjoyments of working world life, and lay minstrels of God’s creation, to be blended with the grander, but scarce more solemn, memories of the great heads among the labourers in the harvest field of souls.  Nor shall the poet forget to take a glimpse of the quiet home, not far distant hence, of Sayer, the poet, philanthropist, philosopher, and antiquarian, whose memory is still green in the hearts of many of the great and good still living, and the remembrance of whose friendship is esteemed by them among their choicest treasures.

The historian has a yet wider field for labour, and a busier work to do, to connect into one chain the links that lie scattered far and wide, among deserted thoroughfares, decaying mansion houses, desecrated churches, and monastic ruins; to gather up the broken fragments of political records, enshrined in many a mouldering parchment, crumbling stone, or withered tree; and to weave into a whole the threads of tradition and legendary lore, unravelled from the mystic fables of antiquity.  It is his, to trace the identities of King Gurgunt and the Danish Lothbroc; p. 12to establish the founder of the castle, and commemorate the achievements of its feudal lords; upon him the duty of sifting evidence, and searching out causes, of tracing the famous “Kett’s rebellion,” to the deep-seated sense of wrong in the hearts of the people, that found expression in the vague predictions and mystical prophecies of the Merlin of the district.

It is for him to unfold the little germs of after-history, that he treasured up in the kernels of such documents as he order addressed to the county sheriff, to commit to prison those who refused to attend the services of the established church; to trace the growth of the spirit among the people, that opened the city gates to the army of the “Parliament,” fortified its castle against royalist soldiers, and turned its market-place into a place of execution for fellow-citizens, who dared to espouse the cause of their king; to rescue from oblivion the gems that were buried beneath the blows of the zealous puritan’s demolishing hammer; to read in the nailed horseshoes, that surmount the doorways of hundreds of its cottages, as a talisman against witchcraft, the legacy of superstition bequeathed to their descendants by these earnest “abolitionists;” to mark the rise and progress of the unfranchised masses in this age of enlightened liberalism, and the deepening and mellowed tone of the “voice of the people,” as it rises from the p. 13chastened and self-disciplined homes of the educated and thriving artisans.  Upon him too, it devolves, to mark the age and the man—to see the monuments of the great-hearted and liberal-minded of the days gone by, in the hospitals, charities, and endowments, their munificence has showered down, from the heights of prosperity, upon the depths of poverty—to trace the progress of the philanthropist of later times, in his house to house visits, and read statistics of his labours in the renovated homes and gladdened hearts of thousands, thus lifted out from the swamps of misery and crime, by the single hand of Christian benevolence, stretched forth in sympathy; to mark the efforts of legislation to remove causes that evil results may cease, to note the patriotism of honest hearts, that would seek to level, if at all, by lifting up the poor to that standard of moral and physical comfort, beneath which the manhood of human nature has neither liberty nor room to grow; and finally, it is his to cast into the treasury of his nation’s history his gleanings among the bye-ways of a single city, no mean or despicable bundle of facts, with which to enrich its stores.

But we must tarry no longer to generalize with archæologist, poet or historian; we have many storehouses to visit, where associations of religion, poetry, and art, lie garnered up in rich abundance.

the cathedral.

The Cathedral.—Forms.—Symbols.—Early history of the Christian church.—Growth of superstition.—Influence of Paganism.—Government.—Growth of the Papacy.—Monasticism.—St. Macarius.—Benedict.—St. Augustine.—Hildebrand.—Celibacy of the clergy.—Herbert of Losinga, founder of Norwich Cathedral.—Crusades, their influence on Civilization.—Historical memoranda.—Bishop Nix.—Bilney.—Bishop Hall.—Ancient religious festivals.—Easter.—Whitsuntide.—Good Friday.—“Creeping to the Cross.”—Paschal taper.—Legend of St. William.—Holy-rood Day.—Carvings.—Origin of grotesque sculptures.—Old Painting: mode of executing it.—Speculatory.—Cloisters.—Anecdote.—Epitaph.—List of Bishops.—Funeral of Bishop Stanley.

“What is a city?”  “A city contains a cathedral, or Bishop’s see.”

Such being the definition given us in one of those valuable literary productions that we were wont in olden time to call Pinnock’s ninepennies, and which have since been followed by dozens upon dozens of series upon series, written by a host of good souls that have followed in his wake, devoting p. 15themselves to the task of retailing homeopathic doses of concentrated geography, biography, philosophy, astronomy, geology, and all the other phies, nies, onomies, and ologies, that ever perplexed or enlightened the brains of the rising generation; we adopt the term, in memory of those so-called happy days of childhood, when its vague mysticism suggested to our country born and school-bred pates a wide field of speculation for fancy to wander in; a Cathedral and a Bishop’s see being to us, in their unexplained nomenclature, figures of speech as hieroglyphical as any inscription that ever puzzled a Belzoni or a Caviglia to decipher.

We have grown, however, to know something of the meaning of these terms; and having lived to see a few specimens of real cathedrals and live bishops, we are now quite ready to acknowledge the priority of their claims upon our notice when rambling among the lions of an old city.

We say old, but where is the cathedral not old? save and except a few just springing into existence, evidences we would hope of a reaction in the devotional tendencies of our nature, rising up once more through the confused assemblage of churches and chapels, and meeting houses, reared in honour of man’s intellect, sectarian isms; human deity in fact, with its standard freedom of thought, under which the myriad diverse forms of hero worshippers p. 16have rallied themselves, each with their own atom of the broken statue of truth, that they may vainly strive of their own power to re-unite again into a perfect and harmonious whole.  Setting aside, however, these later efforts to regain something of the lofty conceptions that can alone enter into the mind of a worshipper of God, not man, we have to deal with the monuments of a past age yet left among us, witnessing to the early life in the church, though not unmingled with symptoms of disease, and marks of the progress of decay,—marks which are indeed fearfully manifest in the relics existing in our country, that bear almost equal traces of corruption and spiritual growth, each struggling, as it were, for victory.  Is there any one who can walk through the lofty nave of a cathedral, and not feel lifted up to something? may be he knows not what; but the spirit of worship, of adoration, is breathed on him as it were from the structure around him.  And should it not be so? does not the blue vault of heaven, with its unfathomed ocean of suns and worlds, each moving in its own orbit, obeying one common law of order and perfect harmony, call up our reverence for the God of Nature? and has it ever been forbidden that the heart and understanding should be appealed to through the medium of the outward senses, for the worship of the God of Revelation?  Is the eye to be closed, the mouth dumb, the ear deaf, to all save p. 17the intellectual teachings of a fellow man?  Is music the gift of heaven, colour born in heaven’s light, incense the fragrance of the garden, planted by God’s hand, form the clothing of soul and spirit, to be banished from the temple dedicated to the service of that living God, who created the music of the bird, the waterfall, and the thunder, who painted the rainbow in the window of heaven, who scented the earth with sweet flowers, and herbs and “spicy groves,” who gave to each tree, each leaf, each bird and flower, each fibre, sinew, and muscle of the human frame, each crystal, and each gem of earth, each shell of the ocean’s depths, each moss and weed that creeps around the base of hidden rocks, even to the noisome fungus and worm that owes its birth alike to death and to decay a material body, full of beauty and adaptation in all its parts; revealing thus to man, that all thought, all life, all spirit, must dwell within an outer covering of form.  True, the spirit and life may depart, the garment may cover rottenness and decay, the symbol may be a dead letter, in the absence of the truth it should shadow forth, the candle at the altar, be meaningless from the dimness of the light of the spirit, that it should represent as ever living and present in the church; the eagle of the reading-desk be a graven image, without place in God’s temple, when the soaring voice of prophecy, rising above earth, and fed from p. 18the living fire burning on heaven’s altar, that it should symbolize, has ceased to be heard.  Incense may be a mystic mockery, when the prayers of the children of God have ceased to ascend in unison as a sweet smelling savour to the throne of their Father; the swelling chant be monotonous jargon, when the beauty and harmony of one common voice of praise, thanksgiving, and prayer, is not felt; the vestment be a mere display of weak and empty vanity, when purity, activity, authority and love, have ceased to be the realities expressed in the alb, the stole, the crimson and purple, the gold and silver; the screen, a senseless mass of carving, the long unbenched and empty nave, so much waste stone and mortar, to those who see not in it the vast Gentile court, where the voice of preaching and invitation was sent forth to sinners to enter the temple and join in the worship of praise and prayer of the church within.

Why are all these too often as cold and empty outlines of a nothing to our senses? is it not that their life is gone?  But should we therefore cast away the fragments that remain? should we not rather desire that the spirit may breathe upon the dry bones, that they may live again, and form a new and living temple for the most High to dwell in; the outer edifice of wood and stone, being the model or statue of that spiritual church, of which every pillar, every window, every beam, and curtain, p. 19should be formed of living members, with Christ for the foundation and chief corner stone, to be built up and fashioned by the hand of God; every sand or ash of truth that lies scattered over the surface of the earthy being cemented together by bonds of love and charity, to form the masonry of the one great Catholic Church.

Such thoughts may be misunderstood, and bring down upon us, in these days of Papal Aggression, anathemas from many a zealous reformationist, or member of the heterogeneous Protestant Alliance, nay, perhaps every shade of Protestant dissenter, evangelical churchman, and Puseyite, may shake his head at us in pity, and wonder what we mean; we would say to the last, beware of the shadow without the substance, the symbol without the truth, the emblem without the reality; and of the others we would ask forbearance.  Popery does not necessarily lurk beneath the advocacy of forms.

With such formidable prejudices as we may possibly have raised by these suggestive hints, dare we hope to find companions in our visit to the venerable pile of building, whose spire still rears itself from the valley, where some eight hundred years ago, the foundations were laid of one of those huge monastic institutions, combining secular with spiritual power, once so common, and plentifully scattered over our country, and even then grown into strange jumbling p. 20masses of error and truth, beauty and deformity? the sole trace of whose grandeur is now to be found in the church and cloister of a Protestant cathedral, and the palace of a Protestant bishop.

We must not, however, lose sight of the fact, that this edifice, in common with most others, among which we have to seek the past history of the church either at home or abroad, did not spring into existence until almost every truth possessed by the early Christians was so hidden by cumbrous masses of superstition, the growth of centuries of darkness, that it is difficult, nay, almost impossible, to trace any harmony of purpose in their outline or filling up; hence the inconsistencies that have sprung from the efforts to revive the ornaments and usages of a period when, the life having departed from them in a great measure, their meaning had been lost, and their practice perverted; hence, too, the folly often displayed by zealous ecclesiastical symbolists, in regarding every monkey, dog, mermaid, or imp that the carvers of wood and stone fashioned from their own barbarous conceits, or copied from the illuminations that some old monk’s overheated brain had devised for embellishment to some fanciful legend, as embodied ideas, to be interpreted into moral lessons or spiritual sermons.

Before, however, we enter into the detail of the remnants left us for examination, we may take a p. 21glance over the page of the early history of the church, and trace a little of the origin of those errors which had grown around simple truths, converting them from beautiful realities into monstrous absurdities.

A moment’s reflection may suffice to enable us to believe that the church, as planted by its first head and master, was a seed to be watered and nurtured by the apostles, prophets, and ministers appointed to the work, and intended to have an outward growth of form, as well as inward growth of spirituality.  During the early period of its existence, while suffering from the persecution of the Roman emperors, it was impossible that the church could develop itself freely; consequently, we are not surprised to find that “upper chambers,” and afterwards the tombs and sepulchres of their “brethren in the faith,” perhaps, too, of their risen Lord, were the places of meeting of its members.  Nor is it difficult to trace from this origin the later superstitious worship at the shrines of the saints.

As early, however, as the peaceful interval under Valerian and Diocletian, when there was rest from persecution, houses were built and exclusively devoted to worship; they were called houses of prayer, and houses of the congregation.  And the idea that the Christian church should only be a nobler copy of the Jewish temple was then clearly recognized, p. 22the outline being as nearly as possible preserved, and the inner part of the church, where the table of the Lord’s Supper stood, ever having been inaccessible to the common people; an idea that has in a certain sort of way survived all the reformations, dissolutions, and dissensions of sixteen hundred years; for do we not even yet see the minister and deacons of the most ultra-dissenting meeting-houses appropriating to themselves the table pew?  There has always seemed something incongruous in the idea, that the minute instructions which God himself thought it worthy to deliver unto Moses in the mount, for the construction of a “tabernacle for the congregation,” and to contain the ark of the covenant, which also formed a model for the gorgeous temple of Solomon, should be doomed to entire annihilation at any period of the world’s history.

As Jewish sacrifices, laws, and covenants, were types, pictures, of the embodiments to be found in the Christian dispensation, when the anti-type had appeared, surely it is possible that the tabernacle too was a type of a real building of living stones, then to be formed and fitly framed together, and which might have its outward symbol in the edifices of worship in all ages.  We may not pause to dwell upon this idea, further than it was recognized by the early Christians, of which clear proof exists.

For the nearest approach to a perfect development p. 23of it, we must look to a later date, when Christianity was first adopted by Constantine, and just prior to its alliance with the state; and although, from the lack of authority in church government, errors had already crept in, and mingled with many of the practices, we believe the modern copyist might find a far more pure and perfect model there, than in the meaningless observances and ornaments of the middle ages.

Churches had then grown large and magnificent; they were divided into three parts, the porch, the nave, and the sanctuary.  In the nave stood the pulpit—preaching at that time being considered the invitation, or preparation for the church, whose duty was worship.  It was divided from the sanctuary by a lattice work, or screen, behind which was often a veil before the holy table, which answered to the Holy of Holies of the temple, and within it none but the priests entered.  The baptistery was usually situated without the church doors, and contained a fount, and a reservoir for washing the hands was always to be found in the outer court that enclosed all the buildings.  Some writers have traced this to heathen observances; if so, it without doubt originated in the Jewish practice.  The service within the church was conducted with all the means at command for rendering it complete.  Music was cultivated—antiphonal singing, or singing in responses, p. 24practised.  The clergy wore vestments symbolical of their offices, each form and colour having its significant meaning.  Candles were burning continually at the altar, as in the holy place of the temple, symbolising God’s presence in the church.  Every part of the building was designed to form a proportionate whole, and the principle of dedicating to the house of God the best works of men’s hands was admitted, the embellishment of His temple being then deemed of superior importance to the decoration of individual dwelling-houses.

Transubstantiation had not polluted the table of the Lord by its presence; the mystery of the spiritual presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, appealing to faith, had not been replaced by the miracle, directed to the carnal senses.  Images had no place in the house of God, picture worship was unknown.  Confession of sins was practised, and penances were imposed, as tests of the sincerity of repentance; at the celebration of the Eucharist offerings were presented, in memory of the dead who in their lives had offered gifts to God; fasting was observed, but only from choice, and Sunday and the feast of Pentecost were the only festivals and holy-days observed.  Gradually, however, after the alliance of the church with the state, and through the accession of converts from the heathen world, grosser elements mingled themselves with these observances; the superstition that the p. 25spirits of the saints hovered around the mortal remains they had tenanted, led to the removal of their bodies from their tombs, and placing them within the walls of the church, and to the erection of shrines, where, first to offer up worship with them, afterwards to them.

And who among us cannot feel the poetry and truth that gave birth to this superstition?  Who that has ever watched in the chamber of death the bursting of the earthly chrysalis, has not felt the soft touch of the spirit’s wing, has not been conscious of the presence of the spiritualized immortal, has not recognized the fragrance of the soul passing from its earthly habitation, and filling the air with the essence of its life, as the sweet scent of the flower when its perfect fruition has been accomplished, lingers around the leaves of the falling petals?

Who that has ever witnessed the laying down of life in ripened age, by some great and noble type of our humanity, in whose heart the lion and the lamb, the eagle and the dove have dwelt together, but has seemed to breathe an atmosphere laden with power and love, strength, beauty and gentleness, as the spirit passed forth at the call of Him who gave it birth?  And who has ever seen the portals of the spirit world open before them, for one in whom all earthly trust, and confidence, and love were centred, but has felt that an angel guardian lived for them in p. 26Heaven?  Is there no plea for saint worship?  But, alas! the poetry and the truth of the superstition became clouded, and were lost in the dark mists of ignorance and worldliness, and from their decay sprung up, like a fungus plant, the noxious idea of the efficacy of reliques, with the monstrous absurdities that accompanied their presence.  Confession and penance merged into the sale of indulgences, purchased absolutions, and interdicts; the sleep of the dead, into a belief in purgatorial fires, voluntary seclusion from the gaieties and follies of the world, into forced separation from its active duties; saint worship, image worship, and picture worship gradually usurped the place of the worship of the one God; the cross, from a symbol grew into an idol, and emblems, vestments, and incense, losing their character, from the reality departing, whose presence they should only shadow forth, grew into mere accumulations of ceremonial, covering a decayed skeleton.  In this process it is easy to trace the influence of Pagan superstition.  As the heathen world gradually became converted to Christianity, objects in the new faith were sought out, around which to cluster the observances and rites of the old system.  Thus the worship offered to Cybele, the great mother of the gods, who among the innumerable deities of ancient Rome was pre-eminent, was readily transferred to the madonna, from a fancied resemblance, and as p. 27Juno, Minerva, Vesta, Pan, and others, were the especial guardians of women, olive trees, bakers, shepherds, &c. &c.  So Erasmus, Teodoro, Genaro, and other saints received homage as the peculiar patrons of individuals or classes.  The Genii, Lares, and Penates, occupying the Larrarium of the ancient houses, were replaced, or oftener rebaptized under the names of a madonna, saints or martyrs; the Emperor Alexander, the son of Mammaea, actually placed the image of Christ in his Larrarium, with his Lares and Penates.  The Sacrarium took its origin hence.  The Pagan had been accustomed to bring his hostia as a sacrifice to Jove; the convert found opportunity to engraft the idea on the commemorative service of the Eucharist.

Meantime church government had been going on in a floundering sort of way, groping about in the dark for authority on which to act, but having lost the apostleship and prophets, set in the church to rule and guide it, and to aid in the work of perfecting the saints, the pastors or bishops set about establishing a system to replace that given them from above—thence began divisions, schisms, and heresies without number, and as early as the commencement of the third century, we find the bishops holding synods as a means towards obtaining Catholic form of doctrine; gradually the bishops in whose provinces these synods were held, who were called metropolitans, p. 28took precedence in rank to others, and thus those of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria, came to be recognised as the heads or chiefs.  After the removal of the seat of empire by Constantine, this principle extended itself in the western church at Rome, until the final assumption of temporal and spiritual power over all Christendom by Hildebrand, or Gregory VII., who, although not the first that bore the title of Pope, was the first who thoroughly established the power of the Papacy.

Another important feature of Christianity during these ages, was the progress of monasticism, which had steadily increased from the time of Anthony the Hermit, who fleeing from the corruptions and vanities of the world, had sought to prove and improve his sanctity, by retirement to a solitary cell, there to practise all manner of self tortures; in this laudable attempt he was followed by a host of others, each vying with his brother, as to which could attain the highest perfection in extravagant folly.  Thus one lived on the top of a pillar, and was emulated by a whole tribe of pillar saints; another punished himself for killing a gnat, by taking up his abode in marshes where flies abounded, whose sting was sufficient to pierce the hide of a boar, and whose operations upon his person were such as to disfigure him so that his dearest friends could not recognise him; another class, the ascetics, carried on p. 29their rigid system of self-denial in the midst of society, others wandered about as beggars, and were afterwards called mendicants, or wandering friars; but the anchorets, or pillar saints, attained the ultimatum of glory, in their elevation of sanctity on the top of their pillars.  In progress of time these hermits began to associate themselves into fraternities; and as far back as the middle of the second century, we hear of a body of seventy, establishing themselves in the deserts of Nitria, by the Nitron lakes.  It is told of St. Macarius, the head of this body, that having received a bunch of grapes, he sent it to another, who tasting one, passed it to another; he being like abstemious, sent it again forward to another, until, having gone the circuit, it reached Macarius again unfinished.

Basil the Great first founded a permanent monastic establishment to convert people from the error of Arianism; and Benedict, a native of Mursia in Umbria, a.d. 529, first established a regular order among the scattered convents, by uniting them under a fixed circle of laws, seclusion for life being the primary one.  These societies also were made useful by him, in having allotted to them various occupations, such as the education of the young, copying and preserving manuscripts, recording the history of their own times in their chronicles, and also in the manual labour of cultivating waste lands.  At first p. 30the monks had been reckoned among the laity, the convents forming separate churches, of which the abbot was usually presbyter, standing in the same relation to the bishop as in other churches; but monastic life gradually came to be considered the preparation for the clerical office, especially that of bishop.  This led to the adoption of monastic discipline among the clergy; and the law of celibacy which had been rejected at the council of Nice, was then prescribed by Siricius, bishop of Rome.

The convents were the representatives of the Christian aristocracy or monarchy, the mendicant orders, were the clergy of the poor.  And each in their sphere exercised a great civilizing influence on the people; the latter especially, because the former, by their studies and literary labours, were more occupied in preparing the revival of letters, and the diffusion of knowledge in their own circle.  Under the auspices of the church, systems of Christian charity were established, schools for children, hospitals and homes of refuge, were multiplied; all this was beneficial, it was the warmth of Christian light shining in dark places, although deep and painful wounds existed, whose fatal consequences soon became manifest.

Such was the state of the church when St. Augustine laid claim to the supremacy of this country, towards the end of the sixth century.

p. 31This zealous missionary, according to Neander, would seem to have been especially wanting in the Christian grace of humility, which no doubt was the cause of the disputes between the early British church and the Romish Anglo-Saxon that ensued, which, however, were settled by Oswys, king and afterwards saint of Northumberland, who decided upon acknowledging the Romish supremacy, and from that time the doctrines, ritual, Gregorian chaunt and Latin service of the Romish church were adopted, and an admirable old man, Theodore of Cilicia, who brought sciences with him from Greece, occupied the see of Canterbury, a.d. 668–690.  The thirst for knowledge among the people at this time was ministered to by this good old man, who, with his friend Abbot Hadrian, made a progress through all England, seeking to gather scholars around him; and the instructions thus communicated to the English church were soon after collected by Bede, that simple and thoughtful, as well as inquiring and scientific priest and monk, who says of himself, “I have used all diligence in the study of the Holy Scriptures, and in the observance of conventual rules, and the daily singing in the church; it was ever my joy either to learn, or teach, or write something.”

The history of the western church becomes merged henceforth in the papal power, and we pass on to the era of Hildebrand, or Gregory VII., its great p. 32representative.  The struggles of this prelate to suppress simony, and enforce the celibacy of the clergy, are among the most notorious features of his reign; legates were despatched to all the provinces of the west, over which he had already set up claim to supreme power, stirring up the people against the married clergy; and in order at once to strike at the root of simony, he forbade entirely the investiture of ecclesiastics by civil authorities.  He excommunicated five councillors of Henry IV. of Germany, threatened Philip of France with the same punishment, and would doubtless have carried out his plans with equal rigour in England, but for the potency of the monarch with whom he had to deal.  William the Conqueror refused permission for the bishops to leave the country when summoned to Rome, exercised his right of investiture, and treated the demands of the Pope with cold indifference.  Yet Gregory took no further steps against so vigorous an opponent.  After the death of both, the contest on the right of investiture was revived, and in the reign of Rufus was maintained against him by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury.

We have dwelt perhaps tediously on this period of history, but its connection with our subject will be apparent, when we come to the foundation of the cathedral we are visiting; but we must not altogether omit mention of the most conspicuous feature p. 33of political activity and religious zeal combined, that characterized that age.  The Crusades will eternally remain in history an example of the devotion and mighty efforts of which men are capable, when united by a common faith and religious ideas.  Gregory was the first who conceived the project, realized afterwards by Urban II., through the instrumentality of that wonderful man, Peter the Hermit, who went through all Europe fanning into a flame the indignation that had been kindled by the reports of the ill treatment of pilgrims to Palestine; and it was not long before a countless host, urged on as much perhaps by love of adventure, a desire to escape from feudal tyranny and hope of gain, as religious enthusiasm, gathered round the banner raised in Christendom.  The object in view was not gained, but the consequences were numerous and beneficial.  Nations learnt to know each other, hostilities were softened by uniting in a common cause of Christian faith; literature in the west received a stimulus from the contact into which it was brought with the more enlightened eastern nations, and the poetry and imagery of the sunnier climes threw their mantle of refinement over the barbarisms of the colder countries.  Among the writings that bear this date, is the celebrated controversy between Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1089, with Berengen, Archdeacon of Angers, on the doctrine of Transubstantiation, a doctrine p. 34first promulgated by Paschasius Radbertus, and at that time supported by Lanfranc, and opposed by Berengen.

A proof of the partial failure, at least in this country, of the legislations of Gregory, is found in the history of the founder of the Norwich Cathedral.  Gregory died a.d. 1085, and Herbert of Losinga, Abbot of Ramshay, Bishop of Thetford, and afterwards Bishop of Norwich, to which city he removed the see from Thetford, laid the first stone of the present cathedral, a.d. 1096.  Much has been said and written as to the birth-place of this prelate: it has usually been considered that he was a Norman, brought over by William Rufus in 1087, but it is much more probable that he was a native of Suffolk, and his return with Rufus is readily accounted for by the custom existing at that time of sending youths to France, especially Normandy, to complete their education.  That he purchased the see of Thetford is undisputed, and also the abbey of Winchester for his father, who, although a married man, filled a clerical office.  Remorse for these simoniacal transactions is said to have quickly followed, and we are told that the bishop hastened to Rome to obtain absolution, and then and there had imposed on him the penance of building a monastery, cathedral, and some half-dozen other large churches.  This incredible legend is much more reasonably explained by p. 35reference to the disturbed state of the affairs of the church before referred to, which most probably rendered it difficult for Herbert to obtain the spiritual rights of the see, although possessed of its temporalities, therefore his visit to Rome; and as for the rest of the churches attributed to him as works of penance, some other explanation of their origin must be found.  The coffers of the wealthiest monarch in Europe could not have furnished means to fulfil such a penance; and when the purchase-money of the see, £1900, and £1000 for the Abbacy of Winchester, the expenses of the journey to Rome, and the cost of his work in the cathedral be considered, we may fairly doubt even the wealthy Herbert’s resources proving sufficient to meet the further demands of such splendid edifices.

There is little doubt that while at Rome arrangements were completed for the transfer of the see, but most probably only in accordance with a previous determination of the Council of London, a.d. 1075, when it had been decreed that all bishoprics should be removed from villages to the chief town of the county.  Historians have bestowed upon this bishop the title of the “Kyndling Match of Simony,” but the sin was far too common in that age for him to deserve so distinctive an appellation; and chroniclers, quite as veritable and much more charitable, have given sketches of his character, that prove him p. 36to have been an amiable, accomplished, and pious man, of great refinement, and possessing a remarkable love of the young, and a cheerfulness and playfulness of manner in intercourse with them, that rarely is an attribute of any but a benevolent mind.  We must not, however, linger upon the personal history of the founder.  Associated with him in the ceremony of laying the foundation, we find the name of the great feudal lord of the castle, Roger Bigod, and most of the nobility and barons of the district, one of whom, Herbert de Rye, was a devoté from the Holy Land.  The first stone was laid by Herbert, the second by De Rye, the other barons placing their several stones, and contributing in money to the work.  The church, as left by Herbert, consisted of the whole choir, the lower part of which, now remaining, is the original building, though much concealed by modern screenwork; the roofs and upper part are of later date.  Eborard, the successor of Herbert, built the nave, not then raised to the present height, but terminating at the line distinctly traceable below the clerestory windows.  The Catholic cathedral, or Catholic architecture, so miscalled Gothic, is the pride and glory of the middle ages.  The spirit of the times, of fervent aspiration towards heaven, speaks in it more, perhaps, than in the purer models of more ancient works.  Architecture was then the language through which thoughts p. 37found expression, speaking to the eye, the mind, the heart, and imagination.  Kings, clergy, nobility, people, all contributed towards these structures.  Painting, sculpture, music, found a place in them, and flourished under the auspices of religion.  “The Anglo-Norman cathedrals were perhaps as much distinguished,” says Hallam, “above other works of man, as the more splendid edifices of later date;” and they have their peculiar effect, although perhaps not rivalling those of Westminster, Wells, Lincoln, or York.

We shall not attempt to expound the details of the building; but even the uninitiated may discern at a glance that it is a work to which many a different age has lent its aid.  The simplicity of the Anglo-Norman style is blended with various specimens of later date, not inharmoniously.  The nave, with its beautifully grained and vaulted roof, and elaborately sculptured bosses, like forest boughs, and pendant roots, with tales of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and hosts of other old Scripture heroes carved upon them, might almost seem one work with the sterner aisles, but modern windows bespeak the hand of perpendicularism to have been busy in after-years.  To Lyhart, bishop of the see in the reign of Henry VI., this roof is attributed, and to his successor Goldwell the continuation of the design over the choir.  Lyhart lies under a stone beneath his own p. 38roof; Goldwell moulders under a tomb reared in the choir, where he lies in stone, robed in full canonicals, his feet resting upon a lion.

On the south side of the nave, between the pillars, is the tomb of Chancellor Spencer.  Upon it the chapter formerly received their rents, and the stone was completely worn by the frequent ringing of the money.  On the same side, further up, are two elaborately decorated arches in the perpendicular style, looking strangely at variance with the simplicity prevailing around.  These purport to be the chapel of Bishop Nix, who lies buried beneath them, and an altar formerly stood at the foot of the eastern pillar.  The iron-work on which hung the bell, is still visible on the side of the western pillar.  The pulpit stood near here; a faint trace of its site is discernible against the pillar, but that is all that remains to speak of the original purpose of this spacious court.  Bishop Nix it was who tried and condemned the martyr Bilney, whose trial, as all others of the same nature, was conducted in the consistory court, or Bishop Beauchamp’s chapel, in the south aisle of the choir.  In the north aisle of the nave, between the sixth and seventh pillars, is a door-way, now closed, and converted into a bench, through which the people formerly adjourned after prayers in the choir to hear the sermon, which was preached in the green yard, now the palace gardens, p. 39prior to the Great Rebellion.  Galleries were raised against the walls of the palace, and along the north wall of the cathedral, for the mayor, aldermen, their wives and officers, dean, prebends, &c.; the rest of the audience either stood or sat on forms, paying for their seats a penny, or half-penny each.  The pulpit had a capacious covering of lead, with a cross upon it.  On the church being sequestered, and the service discontinued during the Commonwealth, the pulpit was removed to the New Hall Yard, now the garden of St. Andrew’s Hall, and the sermons were preached there.  The devastations committed in and about the building at that period, formed the subject of grievous lamentations from the pen of good bishop Hall, then the Bishop of the see, whose sufferings from persecution have become a part of our country’s history.  Hall spent the last melancholy years of his life in the little village of Heigham, where the Dolphin Inn, with its quaint flint-work frontage, mullioned windows, and curiously carved chamber roof and door, yet remain to associate the spot with his memory: his tomb is in the little village church close by.

In the centre of the roof of the nave is a circular hole, the purpose of which for many years puzzled enquirers; but one of the industrious and intellectual archæologians of the present day, to whom we are indebted for many interesting discoveries connected p. 40with the cathedral, has reasonably suggested that it was the spot from whence was suspended the large censer swung lengthwise in the nave at the festivals of Easter and Whitsuntide.  On the north side of the choir there still exists the small oriel window, through which the sepulchre was watched from Good Friday to Easter Morning.  This ceremony consisted of placing the host in a sepulchre, erected to represent the holy sepulchre, covering it with crape, and setting a person or persons to watch it until Easter Sunday, as the soldiers watched the tomb of Christ.  During the time, no bells sounded, no music was heard, and lights were extinguished.  In silence and gloom these three days were passed.  In reference to the length of time usually so denominated, that is from Friday to Sunday, a curious solution, attributed to Christopher Wren, the son of the architect, has recently been published; he seems to have puzzled himself over such like problems, and says, “that the night in one hemisphere was day in the other, and the two days in the other were nights in the opposite,” so that in reality there were three nights and three days on the earth; and as Christ died for the whole world, not only for the hemisphere in which Judea was, he therefore truly remained in the grave that time.

It is difficult for us, accustomed to the sober undemonstrative, not to say cold demeanour of modern p. 41Protestantism, to form a conception of the effect of the seasons of festivity or humiliation, as observed even in our own land in earlier times.  The setting apart the greater portion of the day for weeks together, for religious ceremonies, and especially the almost dramatic scenes of the Passion week, sound to our ears as tales of mummery.  Whether we have gained much by the acquisition of the wisdom that sees nothing in them but occasion for ridicule, or pity, may be a question.  Certain it is that many of the practices were gross and debasing; many, had beauty and truth in them.

Amongst those peculiar to the season of Easter, are the ceremony of creeping to the cross on Good Friday, and the kindling of the fires and lighting of the paschal on Easter Eve.  As these are distinctly mentioned in ancient Norfolk wills, as practised in this cathedral, we may just describe them in connection with our visit to it.  It was often customary to leave lands chargeable with the payment of offerings at this season, both at the creeping of the cross, and to furnish new paschals or tapers for lighting at Easter.

The creeping to the cross is mentioned in a proclamation, black letter, dated 26th February, 30th Henry VIII., in the first volume of a collection of proclamations in the archives of the Society of Antiquaries, where it is stated, “On Good Friday it p. 42shall be declared how creeping to the cross sygnyfyeth an humblynge of oneself to Christ before the cross, and the kyssynge of it a memory of our redemption made upon the cross.”  In a letter from Henry to Cranmer, of later date, a command is issued that the practice should be discontinued as idolatrous.  The ceremony is described by Davies in his rites of the cathedral church of Durham, where he relates, “that within that church, upon Good Friday, there was a marvellously solemn service, in which service time, after the passion was sung, two of the ancient monks took a goodly large crucifix, all of gold, of the picture of our Saviour Christ nailed upon the cross, laying it upon a cushion, bringing it betwixt them thereupon to the lowest greese or step in the choir, and there did hold the said cross betwixt them.  And then one of the monks did rise, and went a pretty space from it, and setting himself upon his knees, with his shoes put off very reverently, he crept upon his knees unto the said cross, and after him the other did likewise, and then they set down again on either side of it.  Afterward, the prior came forth from his stall, and in like manner did creep unto the said cross, and all the monks after him in the said manner, in the meantime the whole quire singing a hymn.  The service being ended, the two monks carried the cross and the sepulchre with great reverence; kings, p. 43queens, and common people, all followed the same custom; it was, however, usual to place a carpet for royal knees to creep upon.”

The paschal, or taper as it was called, was lighted from fire struck from a flint on Easter Eve, all previous fires being extinguished.  The paschal was often of great size: that of Westminster Abbey, in 1557, weighed three hundred pounds.  Many curious records of church disbursements for these and such like things are recorded; in those of St. Mary-at-Hill, in London, stands, “For a quarter of coles for the hallowed fire of Easter Eve, 6d.; also for two men to watch the sepulchre, from Good Friday to Easter Eve, 14d.; for a piece of timber to the new paschal, 2s.; paid for a dish of pewter for the paschal, 8d.”

The church on Easter morning presented another scene.  The sepulchre removed, tapers were lighted, fires kindled, incense burned, music pealed from the bells, Te Deums from organs, flowers fresh gathered lent their fragrance to the hour, birds set loose from the crowd, all joined to celebrate the joyful festival of the resurrection, and altars glittered with the whole wealth of silver and gold, that munificence or penitence had enriched them with.  We have left off all these things—but we sing the Easter hymn.

On the north side of the entrance from the nave into the anti-choir was placed the chapel, dedicated p. 44to the Lady of Pity; and above the spot where Herbert laid the foundation stone, was placed the altar, dedicated to St. William.  As this sounds rather an unsaintly name, we must explain that St. William was a little boy, aged nine years, who, in the time of Rufus, when the Jews were powerful in our land, fell a martyr to their hatred of the Christians.  The tale runs that, in 1137, the Jews, then the leading merchants, doctors, and scholars of the day, stole a little boy, crucified him, and buried him in Thorpe wood.  They were discovered on their road to the burial, but escaped punishment by some clever monetary arrangement with the authorities.  Little William was buried in the wood, and a chapel raised above his grave, the outline of which is yet discernible by the fineness of the grass, that distinguishes it from the heath around, the wood having long since narrowed its limits; the shepherds say weeds will not grow on the spot, for it is “hallowed ground.”  The bones of the unfortunate boy were afterwards brought to the cathedral, where another shrine was erected, and dedicated to the little saint; and Thomas, a monk of Monmouth, is said to have written seven books of the miracles wrought by these bones.  It was essential, before a saint could be canonized, that three miracles should be proved to have been wrought by him in life, or after death; hence, no doubt, the efforts of the monk to prove their potency, as the p. 45youth of the martyr would render it doubly essential to establish his claims to the honour indubitably.  The body of a saint, by act of canonization, was placed in a sarcophagus, an altar raised over it, where mass was said continually, to secure his or her mediation.

Above the anti-choir was the rood loft, in which were kept the reliques, and on which was erected the principal rood or cross, with the figure of the Saviour carved on it.  The rood loft was always placed between the nave and choir, signifying that those who would go from the church militant, which the nave then represented, into the church triumphant, must go under the cross, and suffer affliction.  The festival of the cross was and is called Holy Rood Day, and was instituted first on account of the recovery of a large piece of the cross by the Emperor Heraclius, after it had been taken away, on the plundering of Jerusalem by Chosroes, king of Persia, a.d. 615.  Rood and cross are synonymous.  The rood, when perfectly made, had not only the figure of Christ on it, but those of the Virgin and St. John, one on each side, in allusion to their presence at the Crucifixion.

Besides the rood, this loft also once contained a representation of the Trinity, superbly gilt; the Father blasphemously figured as an old man, with the Saviour Christ on the cross, between his knees, p. 46and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, on his breast.  This image was ornamented with a gold chain, weighing nearly eight ounces, a large jewel, with a red rose enamelled in gold, hanging on it, and four smaller jewels.  A silver collar was also presented to it in 1443, that had been bestowed upon some knight as a mark of honour.  Among the relics was a portion of the blood of the Virgin, to which numbers came in pilgrimage, and made offerings.  Whether or no it liquefied at stated seasons, like that of St. Genaro, is not recorded.

It is not pleasant to watch the growth of such gross materialisms over the sacred truths and symbols of Christian worship; nor can we wonder at the re-actionary enthusiasm that came and swept them all away, however much good taste may deplore the loss of many beauties and solid treasures, that disappeared amid the tumult of the “dissolution.”

Passing beneath the rood loft, now the gallery for one of the finest organs and choirs our country can boast, we enter the choir, which, as it extends westward considerably beyond the tower, is of unusual length, and imposing in its effect; the lantern, or lower part of the tower, rising in the centre, supported by four noble arches, that bear the weight of the whole tower and spire, is impressively beautiful, albeit modern decorators have been at work to spoil the harmony that should prevail, by medallions p. 47and wreaths that should have no place there, however pretty in themselves.

The connoisseur may here find an abundant field to exercise his architectural knowledge, in deciding the various dates of the several portions of this beautiful part of the building.  The long row of stalls, with their high-backed and projecting canopies, crowned with multitudes of crocketted pinnacles, the richly decorated screen-work, that shuts out the plainer Norman aisles, the mysterious-looking triforium running round the curious apsidal termination, the light clerestory, with its tier of windows, divided by feathered and canopied niches, whence spring the main ribs of the vaulted roof,—form a whole, that it needs no skill in art or science to be enabled to appreciate and enjoy.  Of painted glass, perhaps the less said the better—we may be wanting in taste or judgment; certain it is, it forms no very prominent feature of beauty, and a kaliedoscope of mediocre arrangement, and a rather indifferent illumination transparency, may, we fancy, each find a counterpart among the specimens of colour that do exist.  Something is in progress—perhaps on an improved scale.

But we must not omit to glance at a few of the quaint old carvings, that remain almost as sole relics of the ancient furniture of the church.  Entering any stall, we observe the seat turns up on hinges, p. 48and beneath is a narrow ledge, which it has been presumed was a contrivance to relieve the old monks from the fatigue of standing, during the parts of the service where that position is prescribed by the rubric; they were supposed to lean upon these ledges in a half-sitting posture; but a much more reasonable conjecture is, that they were intended as rests for the elbows and missal when kneeling in prayer; a glance at them when turned up instantly suggests the idea of a prie dieu, which they closely resemble.  The lower parts of these misereres, as they were called, are decorated in a most elaborate manner with carving, and supported by bosses, sometimes of one or more figures, often foliage, fruit, and flowers, or shields.  Among them may be found the figures of a lion and dragon biting each other; owls and little birds fighting; Sampson in armour (?) slaying the lion; monkeys fighting, one holding a rod, another in a wheelbarrow; the prodigal son feeding swine; a monk tearing a dog’s hind legs; another flogging a little boy, amid a group of other urchins; and numerous other equally inexplicable designs.  If, indeed, such objects did occupy the place under the eyes of the monks at their devotions, they must have served admirably to train the risible muscles to self-command.

It is among these carvings that the presumed satires are to be found, that are attributed to the dissensions p. 49existing between the secular and regular clergy, about the period of the building of the Cathedral; they would have us interpret them as something akin to liberty of the press, with all its caprices, sarcasms, and ironical sneers; but as the self-same subjects have been found to range over the works of the carvers from the thirteenth century down to the Reformation, and on the Continent as well as in this country, it is much more probable that they were copies from the illustrations of books, at that time popular, or from the illuminations of fanciful legends, upon which the monks were continually engaged, and which were always at hand to serve as patterns for the workmen.  The Bestiaria, a work very celebrated, has been suggested as the source of many of the figures; among its pages figured mermaids, unicorns, dragons, &c.; and the calendars also, in which the agricultural pursuits of each month were depicted on the top of the page, might form another copy to be modelled from.  Such is the most probable way of accounting for the presence of such objects, although it is possible that in an age when the church offered scope for every talent to display itself, so, obscure recesses were found for the offspring of these original, though not very refined, creations of fancy, often, however, executed by the hands of skilful craftsmen.

One look at the antique specimen of the reading p. 50desk—a pelican supporting it with the clot of blood on its breast, symbolizing, we are told, the shedding of the blood of Christ, as that bird sheds its blood for its young.  It may, or may not be so—but if it be, it is indeed a gross substitute for the eagle, a symbol that has at least poetry and spirituality to recommend it.

Beyond this, and behind the high altar, in the recess of the apse, once stood the bishop’s throne, a plain stone chair, in the days when the priests did occupy their places in the church.  The seat may still be seen in the aisle, at the back of this spot, by any one adventurous enough to climb a ladder, and peep into a niche they will find high up in the wall.

We let pulpits and thrones of the present day speak for themselves, and leaving the choir, take a brief look at the fine old chapels of St. Luke and Jesus, on the north and south side of the apse.  The former still remains in good preservation, and is used as the parish church of St. Mary in the Marsh, destroyed by Herbert, the founder of both these chapels, as well as the Cathedral.  The only font within the precincts is here; it is an ancient affair, brought hither from the demolished church, and is decorated with carvings, representing the seven sacraments, the four evangelists, and divers figures of popes, saints, confessors, &c.  Over this chapel is the treasury of the dean and chapter, from amongst whose p. 51stores, hid up where moth and rust do corrupt, a beautiful and curious painting of scenes in the life of Christ, has been of late years rescued, and promoted to the honour of a place in the vestry room (the ancient prison of the monastery), where it has been placed under a glass case.  It appears to have served originally as some part of the decoration of an altar, and was set in a frame, the mouldings of which are richly diapered and ornamented with gilding, with impressed work and fragments of coloured glass inserted at intervals, a mode of enrichment of which specimens are very rare in this country.  The corners of the frame had been removed to adapt it to the purpose of a table, at the period of the great “dissolution,” where it had remained with its back serving for the top of the required table, until accident revealed it to the eyes of archæological research.

The painting is divided into five compartments, each on a separate panel, the subjects being the Flagellation of Christ, Christ bearing the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the Ascension.  The entire back-grounds of the paintings are gilded and diapered in curious patterns, and the ornaments, such as the bosses of the harness on the horses of the soldiers, the goldsmith’s work on the cingulum or belt, are in slight relief.  This mode of painting is described as being executed upon a thin coating of composition, made of whiting and white of egg, laid on the p. 52oaken panel; upon this the outline of the design was traced with a red line, and the spaces designed to receive gilding were then marked out with fresh whitening and egg; the stems marked with a modelling tool, and leaves added by filling moulds with the paste, and fixing them by pressure on the surface of the picture; the puncture work and little toolings were then produced, and the modelling finished.  The gilded portions were next covered with gold leaf, and the artist proceeded with his pictures, using transparent colours liquefied by white of egg.

At the extreme end of the Cathedral once stood another chapel, dedicated to St. Mary the Great, of considerable note in early times—the offerings at the high altar amounting to immense sums—daily mass was said here for the founder’s soul in particular, his friends, relations, benefactors, &c.  The chapel was about seventy feet long and thirty broad, and had a handsome entrance from the church; it has long since disappeared.  The Jesus chapel on the opposite side is rather a melancholy looking place at present, one high tomb of some pretensions in the centre alone distinguishing it from a lumber room; near this chapel, in the north aisle, is the speculatory before alluded to, as the opening through which the sepulchre was watched at Easter; it has, until recently, been called the ancient “confessional,” a somewhat extraordinary position for such a priestly office to be exercised in, as were p. 53it so, the penitent must of necessity have stood in the aisle on tiptoe to reach the ear of his confessor in the choir, who must equally of necessity have lain upon the ground to receive the confession.

And now we must pass on to the cloisters, where one almost involuntarily cries out for “the monks of old,” to come and give life to the walks among the tombs, no other earthly figure or garb, save a cowled monk, seeming to have place in such a scene.  The long lines of beautiful windows, on the one side of pure early English tracery, on another of the decorated period, and another line still more elaborate in its turnings and twistings, while the last bespeaks the perpendicularism that prevails among so many of the windows of the church—each and all are beautiful.  The splendidly carved doorway entering into the church, that has puzzled learned and simple alike to interpret truly, is a gem, and the perfectly preserved lavatories at the opposite corner have their own features of interest.  The roof, groined and vaulted with sculptured bosses, is covered with fanciful and legendary carvings—the martyrdoms of saints, St. Anthony roasting on his gridiron, &c., St. John the Baptist and Herodias with his head in a charger; the mutilated body of another headless saint has received from some kind charitable hand the blessing of a new head, while the old one is under his arm; the date of this addition or growth is uncertain—it p. 54looks very white, rather new; above the door leading into the ancient refectory is a carving of the Temptation, Adam and Eve and the serpent as usual; about this said carving hangs a tale, another than the story of the Fall of man, and too good to be omitted.  The great historian of this comity, and all the little historians that have condensed, contracted, extracted, and dove-tailed little bits of his history together, have all with wonderful precision agreed that above this arch was carved the espousals or Sacrament of Marriage; and upon that foundation, or perhaps rather under that head we should say, entered into elaborate details of how this spot was the chosen site for the celebration of the sacrament of marriage, which every one knows was performed in the porch of the church, and not in the church itself as now, but as this spot is a very considerable number of yards distant from either church or porch, some of those troublesome people who will be continually saying Why? and seeking for a Because, began to look for these espousals, and found only a Temptation.  One of these individuals, of a peculiarly persevering nature, earnestly desirous of reconciling these strange discrepancies between the assertion of a respectable old historian, and his own eye-sight, set to work, and the following was the result.  He found that much of this good historian’s description of the cloister was a tolerably free translation of an old Latin work by p. 55William of Worcester, the original manuscript of which exists in the library of Corpus Christi, at Cambridge.  It was printed and edited, many years ago, by one Nasmith, and an extract is to be found in the last edition of the Monasticon, where the work of a bishop who built one side of the cloister is described as extending to the arches, “in quibus maritagia dependent,” which must be translated “in which the espousals or marriages hang.”  Now it seemed to this inquisitive individual that a very trivial error of the transcriber might have entirely altered the sense of the passage; that if the word “maritagia” should turn out to be “manut’gia” for “manutergia,” all the mystery would be explained.  Upon inquiry, and inspection of the original manuscript, this proved a correct surmise on the part of the ingenious as well as inquisitive individual, and the arches in which the (manutergia) towels hang, close by the lavatories, turn out to be the substitute for the arches in which the espousals hang.  Overlooking the single stroke of a pen, produced these queer misconceptions for above a century.

The following is an epitaph composed for Jacob Freeman, who was buried in the cloister yard, where he used often to lie upon a hill and sleep, with his head upon a stone.  The old man was very hardly used by the committee for so doing, and for frequenting church porches, and repeating the common prayer p. 56to the people, in spite of ill treatment, he being often sent to Bridewell, whipped and reproved for it.


“Here, in this homely cabinet,
Resteth a poor old anchoret;
Upon the ground he laid all weathers,
Not as most men, goose-like, on feathers,
For so indeed it came to pass,
The Lord of lords his landlord was;
He lived, instead of wainscot rooms,
Like the possessed, among the tombs.
As by some spirit thither led,
To be acquainted with the dead:
Each morning, from his bed so hallowed,
He rose, took up his cross, and followed;
To every porch he did repair,
To vent himself in common prayer,
Wherein he was alone devout,
When preaching, jostled, praying out,
In sad procession through the city,
Maugre the devil or committee,
He daily went, for which he fell
Not into Jacob’s, but Bridewell,
Where you might see his loyal back
Red-lettered, like an almanack;
Or I may rather else aver,
Dominickt, like a calendar;
And him triumphing at that harm,
Having nought else to keep him warm.
With Paul he always prayed, no wonder
The lash did keep his flesh still under;
Yet whip-cord seemed to lose its sting,
When for the church, or for the king,
p. 57High loyalty in such a death
Could battle torments with mean earth;
And though such sufferings he did pass,
In spite of bonds, still Freeman was.
’Tis well his pate was weather-proof;
The palace like it had no roof;
The hair was off, and ’twas the fashion,
The crown being under sequestration.
Tho’ bald as time and mendicant,
No fryer yet, but Protestant—
His head each morning and each even
Was watered with the dews of heaven.
He lodged alike, dead and alive,
As one that did his grave survive,
For he is now, though he be dead,
But in a manner put to bed,
His cabin being above ground yet,
Under a thin turf coverlet.
Pity he in no porch did lay,
Who did in porches so much pray;
Yet let him have this Epitaph:
Here sleeps poor Jacob, stone and staff.”

We must not close our chapter on cathedrals and bishops without some little further notice of the more important branch of the subject, although we venture not upon biographies of the many whose names shine forth from among the list of “spiritual fathers,” well meriting more detailed sketching than would be here in place.  Hall, Nix, Lyhart, and Goldwell, have had their share of passing comment, but there are other names that must not be looked over in silence.  Among the earliest stands Pandulph, p. 58the notorious legate from the Pope, during the troubled reign of John, when disputes about the appointment of Stephen Langton to the archbishopric of Canterbury had had our country under the interdict of his papal majesty; and for six years all Christian rites were suppressed, save baptism and confirmation, in consequence of jealousies between these rival powers upon the vexed question of the right of investiture.  It was mainly through the agency of Pandulph that the king was at last inclined to submit, in return for which the bishopric of this diocese was conferred on the successful diplomatist.  Walter de Suffield, another name of at least great local repute, was the founder of the Old Man’s Hospital, an institution at this day in the receipt of £10,000 a year, out of which some two hundred old men and women are maintained in clothes, food, and a shilling a day, and lodged in a beautiful old church, founded by Lyhart at a later period, the trustees of such a fund thinking this arrangement preferable to restoring the church to its original use, and providing more suitable buildings for the accommodation of the recipients of the charity.  The tomb of Suffield, in his own chapel, at the east end of the cathedral, became a shrine for worship, to which pilgrimages were frequent, and miracles in abundance were said to be wrought.

Percy, brother of the famous Earl of Northumberland, p. 59was another who wore the mitre of the see; he lies buried before the roodloft door.  Henry de Spencer, the warrior bishop, is another, who raised and headed an army of three thousand men, and conducted it in person to Flanders, where he figured prominently in the wars between Richard and the French king, as well as in the struggles of Urban and Clement for the papacy.  His military fame was rivalled by his notorious zeal in the cause of his church, evidenced by unmitigated persecution of the Lollards, whose adherence to the doctrines of Wickliffe was rewarded by every variety of penance or punishment that could be devised to exterminate the heresy.  A splendid monument of this spirit of the man and age is left us in the magnificent gateway opposite the West entrance to the cathedral, erected by Sir Thomas Erpingham, at the bidding of De Spencer, as a penance for his sympathy with these heretical doctrines.  Above the doorway is an effigy of himself in armour, kneeling and asking pardon for his offence.  Rugg—an instrument of Henry’s, in obtaining the divorce of Catherine of Arragon; Hopkin—a notorious persecutor of the Protestants in Mary’s reign; Parkhurst—a literary celebrity; Wren—the victim of Puritanism, which placed him a prisoner in the tower for eighteen years without a trial; Butts—a friend of Cranmer; Horne, whose letters on infidelity have given him a fame; and p. 60Bathurst, respected in the memory of many yet living; are names conspicuous in the catalogue; not yet complete without two others, Stanley and Hinde.  Of Hinde we can but say his work is yet in hand, he is earning his place in history, for some future pen to chronicle; but may be, no fitter subject could be offered for a closing scene to this chapter on the bishops and cathedral of this see, than memory can recal of that day, when beneath the lofty nave of the one, a grave was opened to receive the mortal remains of the loved and honoured Stanley.  Who, among the thousands that then gathered themselves together, wearing not alone the outer symbols of mourning and grief, but carrying in their hearts deep sorrow, and in their eyes unbidden tears—who will forget the solemn stillness of the thronged multitude as the simple pall was borne, unmocked by plumes or other idle trappings of fictitious woe, through the avenues of unhired mutes, whose heads were bowed in heartfelt reverence, and lines of infant mourners, clad in the livery of their benefactor’s bounty, and watering the pathway to his tomb with honest tears of childhood’s love—the attitudes of grief and saddened faces that filled the crowded aisles, and no less crowded walks above—the hushed breathing that left the air free to echo the tones of the wailing dirge, as it rose upon the voices of the surpliced choir, who mourned p. 61a child of harmony, and wafted their strains of lamentation through all the heights of the vaulted roof, while beneath its centre the grave was receiving the earthly tabernacle of the good, the noble-hearted, and the great in deeds of love and charity?  Who does not remember the measured tread of the dispersing thousands, as each took his last look of the simple coffin in its last resting-place, and as the dead march sent forth its full low notes from the organ’s peal, and the rich closing bursts of harmony proclaimed like a rush of mighty wind the soul’s release and triumph? and who has not often since lingered around the simple marble slab that marks the spot, and felt that it had been consecrated as a shrine, by a baptism of tears from the fountain of loving hearts on that memorable day?

the castle.

The Castle.—Present aspect.—Grave of the Murderer.—Historical Associations.—View from the Battlements.—Thorpe.—Kett’s Castle.—Lollard’s Pit.—Mousehold.—Plan of Military Structure of Feudal Times.—Marriage of Ralph Guader.—Roger Bigod.—Feudal Ranks.—Social Life.—Field Sports.—Hawking.—Legend of Lothbroc.—Laws of Chivalry.—Tournaments.—Feminine Occupations.—Tapestry.

In the centre of the Old City rises one of those huge mounds, heaped up by our ancient warrior forefathers, which here and there, over the surface of our island, yet stand out in bold relief against the blue back-ground of the sky, like giant models for some modern monster twelfth-cake, only, however, occasionally crowned by the original structures, of which they were the ground-works, and in no other case, perhaps by one whose outward coating of modern date more thoroughly might carry out the suggested idea of a frosted moulding, designed to grace the summit of a supper-table fortification.

How involuntary is the longing to peel off the p. 63pasty composition and find the substance hidden beneath, be it as crumbly and mottled as the most luscious monument ever reared in honour of the feast of the Epiphany, from the era of the Magi downwards.  But so it may not be; the flinty roughnesses of the past are hidden from our eyes by the soft covering of refined stucco, and we must be content with the attempt of ingenious modern masonry to give us an impress of what the castle called Blanchflower was, in lieu of beholding it unspoiled save by the hand of time.  It is, however, something to know that there really does exist beneath that outer casing, a bonâ fide mass of flint and stone, some portions of which at least have stood, even from the days of the sea-king Canute; by him raised on the site of the royal residence of East Anglian princes, and yet earlier dwelling place of Gurguntus and other British kings, and by him suffered to retain the name of “Blanchflower,” first given, so legends say, by one of its royal owners in honour of his mother, Blanche, a kinswoman of the mighty Cæsar.  There it yet stands, its very roots planted high above the topmost stories of all meaner habitations, its battlements towering to the sky, as though climbing from their earthen base through the turrets and towers, reared as a stronghold for human pride and ambition, to heights that would rival the lofty spire in the valley beneath, that blends itself with p. 64the heaven to which it points in the solemn attitude of silent devotion, as if to ask, “Which can do the greatest works, man serving man, or man serving God?”

With the monuments of two such spirits side by-side, fancy might wander into perfect labyrinths of mystic and speculative thought, not void of beauty, tracing the unseen workings of the spirit-powers there sought to be embodied, each lingering about and shedding itself around the temple consecrated as its shrine—devotion, yet meetly expressed in the tapering spire—human Despotism and human frailty, finding in every age a fitting representative within the lordly castles of the robber chiefs, from the day when its walls formed the boundary of life to feudal wives and slaves, and its dungeons, the tombs of vanquished foes, through every age of its isolated grandeur, down to the picture of aggregated solitudes and woes, that it presents in the character now assigned to it, of a prison-home for criminals.

But for some such sense of the invisible links that make the present purposes to which its limits are devoted, one with the past, there might seem to be much difficulty in connecting the picture of the felon-town now enclosed within its walls, with any associations of history; or the accumulations of red brick, slate-roofed ranges of well-lighted, well-ventilated and comfortable chambers, made dark or miserable p. 65only by the spirits that tenant them, with the ideas or expectations a castle-prison could suggest.  That such should be the only cells to be found or seen, is to the eye and ear of mere curiosity an absolute disappointment.  One feels half angry at the sudden annihilation of the vague and undefined fillings up that fancy had given to the outline of the feudal relic.  The learned may know it all before-hand, but the uninitiated cannot fail to receive an unwelcome surprise, in finding the substantial and important looking keep, withal its crust of stucco, little more than a shell, whose kernel is made up of modern habitations, as fresh-looking as though they had but yesterday sprung up as pimples on the face of nature, a title not inappropriate to most red brick emanations of architectural skill.  But our visit to the Castle must not be spent in such vague lamentations over what is not; neither would we in our regrets desire to be classed among the morbid cravers after horrors, that can find pleasure in condemned cells, gibbets, chains associated with murderers, or any such like appurtenances of a county gaol; thankfully we claim exemption from any such mental disease, nor even as the chroniclers of facts would we dwell one moment on the points of detail that would pander to such a taste in our fellow beings.

A prison must ever teem with painful associations, one scarcely more so than another, nor does the fact p. 66of an apartment, in no way differing from those around it, having been tenanted by a Rush, whom some would call the mighty among murderers, make it an object to our ideas more worthy either a visit or description.  The simple initials in the wall of the prison-yard, above the dishonoured grave where he lies, with the few others who have met a like miserable fate, speak to the heart—and we turn from them with an inward whispering, there—who was his murderer?—was it justice, human or Divine?  Did the child speak with folly, or childhood’s own wisdom, when it asked if Rush died for breaking God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” did not those who killed him also break it?  Such is not fiction—its simple baby logic answers for it—but we say as to the child’s query, We cannot answer you.  Many a great and noble heart recognises the minister of justice, as God’s own delegate, to claim the yielding up of his Creature’s life, a satisfaction to the broken laws of God and man.  Many as great and noble, and we would think as mindful of the great ends of justice and design of punishment, would say, Leave the gift of God, the breath of life, at His disposal, who has said, “Vengeance is mine;”—trust to His justice as to His mercy, to which alone you appeal, when sending the soul into his presence, reeking with guilt and sin.  As spoke the child, on that sad, solemn day of darkness,—when the spirit of sin p. 67seemed to breathe over the debased city, and spread its contaminations through every channel where its subtle essence could find an inlet, till the moral vision of the very purest seemed to be obscured, and the atmosphere tainted for a while, by the sickening familiarity with the face of crime;—the last day of the wretched victim of unrestrained passions in life and in death,—whose struggles of vanity and egotism, with the quailings of the flesh, evidenced by the whitening hair, the trembling hand, and vapid mutterings, through a trial prolonged to an unheard-of length, had drawn around him a host of witnesses, almost without a parallel in history; and not alone of the mass of unlearned and ignorant, whom we are wont to charge with insensibility and coarseness, nor of the stern philosopher, nor even sickly religionists, who find some concealed duty in witnessing elaborations of torture, but of the gentle hearts that move within the mothers and daughters of England; and white-gloved and richly-dressed ladies thronged to use the tickets that gained them privileged entrance to a gallery that overlooked this spectacle of human agony—(oh! is there one among that assembled galaxy of England’s fair ones that can recal that scene, without a shudder and a blush for the very refinements that cast their cloak around the horrors of the reality?)—that day,—when the festivities of concert and party over, when the merriment of the p. 68bustling, noisy fair outside the court of trial had died away, and room was left for the last act of the drama—as then, the child lifted up its saddened voice, with its question so quaintly simple—so was it echoed back to us from the grave of that poor criminal, and a torrent of memories, linked with that fearful time, came flooding back upon us, as the fruit of the tree of crime, whose seed was then sown before our eyes, seemed to lie scattered at our feet, in the later-made grave, and sin-filled cells around us.  But enough of this—the darkest tragedy of later days associated with our castle prison—how many more silent, but not less sad, have been enacted within its limits, in chambers now inaccessible to human tread, we may not know! how many death sighs have been breathed out from its hidden dungeons, how many spirits violently sundered from their earthly tabernacles, and sent wandering through eternity before a home had been prepared for their rest, the record books of earth yield no account, but they are registered above; shall it avail to plead, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” when the great final day of reckoning shall come, and the judges and rulers of the earth shall be summoned to give an account of their stewardship?  But these are not the thoughts awakened upon crossing the threshold of this portal, for, strange to say, the first greeting offered us, is the smiling welcome of gay, liberty-loving p. 69flowers, blooming as sweetly and merrily in that atmosphere of sin and sorrow, as ever they could have done on mountain heath or valley’s dell.  Who knows what messages of hope and love these simple tenants of the miniature conservatory have breathed to weary, sin-laden hearts, bowed down in penitence for guilt!  There was kindness in the heart that placed them there, and justice is blessed in owning servitors that do her bidding with such gentle mien.  Modern prisons, their advantages and defects, have formed subjects for the pens of many writers; no need, therefore, that we longer dwell on this aspect of our city stronghold.  Colonies of zebra-clad prisoners tenant the wards, and thread the intricate passages leading through tiers and radiating wings of cells, so cunningly arranged that, amid all the appearance of congregations, separation and solitude is ensured, even upon the giant wheel itself, and still further, even in the place for worship, where boardings, shelvings, and all manner of strangely devised contrivances, prevent communion between the several classes of the unfortunate, that suspected and condemned may not mingle, the felony and the misdemeanour may not be in juxtaposition; these are the features that meet the eye, and it would not be right to leave such judicious arrangements unnoticed,—albeit our visit to the castle walls may have more to do with its past than present history.

p. 70Tradition assigns the foundation of this castle to Gurguntus, the son of Belinus, the twenty-fourth king of Britain from Brutus, who, having observed in the east part of Britain a place well fitted by nature for the building a fortress on, founded a certain castle of a square form, and of white stone, on the top of a high hill near a river, which castle was completed by his successor, Guthulinus, who “encompassed it with a wall, bank, and double ditches, and made within it subterraneous vaults of a long and blind or intricate extent.”  Another early writer ascribes to Julius Cæsar the honour of being its founder, and explains the origin of certain rents and fissures, perceptible in its sides before its recent restoration, to the earthquake that shook the earth “when the vail of the temple was rent in twain;”—he adds, that afterwards Thenatius, Lud’s son by marriage with Blanche, kinswoman of Julius, gave it the name of “Blancheflower.”  Others attribute this title to the whiteness of its walk, and assign to the Normans its appropriation to the edifice they found existing here.

Without doubt, as the metropolis of the Iceni, it was an important place prior to the advent of the Saxons, who made it the royal seat of the kings of East Anglia, and afterwards the residence of governors, called aldermen, dukes, or earls.  During the Danish wars, the castle was often lost and won again, p. 71until Alfred the Great wholly subdued the Danes, and he is said to have greatly improved its fortifications.  The original structure, however, is said to have fallen a sacrifice to the ravages of the Danes under Sweyn, and the present edifice is attributed to Canute, his son, upon his return after his flight upon the accession of Ethelred.  The supposition of its being the work of the Normans after the Conquest is totally refuted by the events recorded as having transpired within its precincts, while in the custody of Ralph Guader, who took possession of it in the seventh year of William’s reign.  The elevation upon which the castle and its fortifications were founded, some writers have conjectured to be originally the work of heathen worshippers, who raised such like giant temples to the sun; others have suggested the possibility of its forming a portion of the famous Icknild Way.

This, in common with other military structures of the same period, which were mostly built upon one plan, their chief strength consisting in their height and inaccessibility, originally included within its boundaries a considerable space of ground; the outer ballium (bailey or court) having an elevation of about one hundred feet above the level of the river; and the inner, upon which stands the keep, raised by art about twenty feet higher, with the soil of the inner ditch—still remain entire; originally p. 72three ditches surrounded the castle, from their circular form betokening great antiquity; the second and third have been long filled up and built over, but are distinctly traceable to the eye of persevering enquiry.

The original entrance to the outer court was from Burgh Street, at the end of which was the barbican, or passage leading to the first draw-bridge and gate; the second was opposite, and intermediate between it and the present bridge; a draw-bridge formerly occupied the site of the present road-way across, at the end of which stood the gateway for raising it with a strong tower above it, only removed within the last century.

Two round towers at the upper end of the draw-bridge, whose foundations still remain, constituted additional defences of the upper ballium.  Connected with the tower on the west side, were dungeons or vaults, until recently in use for prisoners before their committal.

The keep, which occupies but a small portion of the original plan, is about seventy feet high, and ninety-two feet long, by ninety-six broad.

The walls are composed of flint rubble, faced with Caen stone, intermixed with a stone found in the neighbourhood.

The keep bore the same relation to the castle as the citadel to a fortified town; it was the last p. 73retreat of the garrison, and contained the apartments of the baron or commandant.  Little of these is, however, left us to explore; the outer wall with its ornamental arches being, as we before hinted, nothing more than a shell surrounding an open yard, now filled by detached modern buildings, occupying the site of the spacious and magnificent chambers that once filled the interior.

Upon the surface of these walls, within are distinctly traceable the original openings to the various compartments, now filled up by masonry; but within the memory of some yet living, the dungeons and storehouses of the basement story were standing, and were accessible by stair-cases in the north-east and south-west angles.

The entrance to the first floor is on the east side, by a flight of steps leading to a platform projecting outside fourteen feet from the wall.  It is now covered in, and forms a spacious vestibule, having three open arches towards the east, one on the north, and one on the south, in which is the entrance.  It is usually called Bigod’s tower, its erection being by some attributed to Roger Bigod, in the reign of William Rufus, and by others to Hugh Bigod, during the twelfth century; the whole of it has undergone restoration.  The doorway from the vestibule is through an archway of Saxon character, supported by five columns with ornamented capitals; p. 74two columns only remain; upon the capital of the first, on the left, is a bearded huntsman in the act of blowing a horn, with a sword by his side, and holding with his left hand a dog in slips, which appears to be attacking an ox; on the second capital is another huntsman, spearing a wild boar of an unusual size.

The fable of the wolf and lamb, the wolf and crane, a monstrous head and arms, attached to the bodies of two lions, are amongst the other ornamental carvings, traceable on the other portions of the capitals and arches, but greatly mutilated.

Prior to the restoration of the tower, this archway had been totally concealed by masonry; it is only surprising, therefore, that so much of it should still be in so good a state of preservation.

A corridor led from this entrance to the chapel, which was on this floor in the south-east angle, with an oratory or sanctum in the corner, separated from it by an archway supported by two columns, the capitals of which are ornamented, and at the angles are figures of pelicans.  The columns are decidedly Norman, the costumes and helmets bearing close resemblance to those on the Bayeux tapestry.  On the east side of the oratory is a curious altar-piece in five compartments, representing the Trinity, St. Catherine, St. Christopher, St. Michael and the Dragon, and another figure too much mutilated to be recognized.

p. 75We confess ourselves indebted for these details, to more erudite and heroic adventurers in the voyage of discovery among these ruins than ourselves, the inaccessible looking archway of the oratory high upon the wall, to be attained only by crossing a plank from a tier of cells opposite, offering little temptation to us to ascertain for ourselves the accuracy of statements made by learned authorities, whose researches we presume neither to question nor emulate.  We do not venture to trespass on paths so much more ably trodden; what pleases or strikes the eye of the simple observer, we may note, perhaps often deriving sensations of pleasure from objects that may offend the cultivated taste of the connoisseur, but as we plead ignorance, we trust to meet with indulgence.  Associations, rather than details of outline, cluster round our minds in visiting these scenes, and on them we dwell.

The kitchens and dormitories were also on this floor, the former accessible by a long narrow passage in the north wall, from the spiral stairs in the north-east angle.

The next floor was occupied by the state apartments; and on the exterior of the west side are four large windows with central columns, opposite to corresponding openings in the inner wall for the admission of light into the interior.  The gallery on this side contains three little recesses, or chambers, p. 76as they would have us call them, benched on either side, and probably intended as waiting-rooms for the attendants.  It communicated with the south-west flight of stairs, but although these yet remain, they are not safe to be explored.

The gallery on the north side has similar windows, and is reached by the north-east staircase, with which the kitchen gallery communicates; the passage is vaulted, and the tracings of large archways, in the inner wall, filled in by masonry, have led to the idea that a large banqueting chamber traversed this side of the building, the entrance to which would be immediately connected with the grand entrance from the tower.  Another gallery, somewhat similar, runs along the south wall, not now accessible.  These three galleries are all that remain entire of the original apartments, the various archways and outlines in the walls, rather suggesting than deciding questions concerning the arrangement of the interior filling up.

Having finished our explorings among these hollow portions of the walls, the winding stairs lead on to the giddy heights of the ramparts, where a scene awaits the adventurer’s eye, that may well repay a steady effort to conquer the propensity to walk over the unprotected side towards the court within.  And here we pause to take a survey of the picture as it lies out before us; houses, slated, tiled, p. 77thatched and leaded, with their forests of chimneypots, the growth and accumulations of centuries; high pinnacles of brick, sending forth their volumes of smoke from huge factories, telling their tales of human skill and genius triumphing over the powers of earth, air, and water, bringing into subjection the sinews of rock and veins of ore, and training them, by the aid of invisible and subtle fluids, to yield obedience to the will of man, and minister to the wants and luxuries of his being; windmills spreading out their giant arms to stay the very winds of heaven in their path till they have done their work; waters checked in their onward course till their rebellious force has been turned to profit; all speak of matter visible and invisible, made subject to spirit power, and ministering to the will and wants of man.  Tales, too, of human toil and suffering, of wasting labour, spent in the service of luxury and indolence, burthen the air breathed forth from groaning engine-houses, and rising up from hidden nests of poverty that lie sheltered beneath the eaves of rich men’s habitations, whose fair frontings to modern streets or road-ways, too often form but outer coatings of decency to masses of corruption hidden away in close yards, courts, and alleys, at their back—church towers, and spires, and turrets in manifold variety and abundance; and prominent among the host, stands out in all the glory of hale p. 78old age, fine old St Peter’s, looking down from his proud eminence in solemn dignity, and smiling at all the feeble efforts of the mushrooms clinging to his very base to hide his fair proportions; far and wide may we look to find his peer, even among such gems of beauty as the patron saints so lavishly have scattered among the lanes and thoroughfares of this very garden of churches.  Such are the city features of the panoramic see; turning to another point of view, away, beyond the foreground of the sheep and cattle pens that bespeak the conversion of the ancient inner ballium into a modern market-place for live stock, and across the deep running channel laden with crafts not yet wholly superseded in their labours by steam—that infant Hercules, whose leading-strings are compassing the surface of the globe—we catch a glance of the hanging woods of the fairest village our Norfolk scenery may boast, whose Richmond-like gardens skirting the pathway of the winding river, and meadow lands beyond, dotted here and there by the alder cars that once gave a name to the Benedictine convent close by, form a landscape of mingled animation and quiet rural beauty, not often to be equalled in the suburbs of a manufacturing city.  No marvel why gala spots for pleasure-loving citizens should be found interspersed among the more refined parterres of the wealthy upon the shores; no marvel that a summer’s p. 79evening should witness crowds of holiday-seeking folks, thronging to taste the sweets of fresh air, and rest from labour, in the midst of so fair a scene.

No marvel that a water frolic becomes dignified into a regatta there, that for once, within the circuit of the year, the great and small, the proud and humble, rich and poor, can mingle, to look together upon a common object of amusement—that fashion and poverty can meet in the field of pleasure—St. Giles and St. James acknowledge the existence, nor frown at the presence of each other.  And who does not rejoice in the festivity, almost the sole remnant of national sport left us in this iron-working age?  Who that can spare an hour from the counter or the loom, or desk—from scribbling six-and-eight-penny opinions, or scratching hieroglyphical prescriptions for aqua pura draughts, does not contrive to find some mode of transit by earth, air, or water to the scene of mirth.  Even a soaking shower is unavailing to damp the ardour of the multitude, and not unseldom lends fresh stimulus to fun and laughter among the merry-hearted denizens of smoke-dried city streets and lanes.  But we must not linger in their midst—the gay pleasure-boats, with their shining sails, tacking and bending to the breeze, the swift skullers in the gay uniforms, the eager faces that line the course, the signal guns and flags of victory, the music, and the mirth—all tell that the p. 80spirit of enjoyment is not yet quite gone out from among us.  We must now pass to other, and far different objects, and from the present, travel back to the past, whose page of history unfolds itself in the nearer object that meets our eye, the whitened sides of the “Lollard’s pit,” where martyrs of old poured forth their dying prayers; and yielded up their bodies to be burned as witness of their faith—where Bilney listened to the words of his murderers, beseeching him to release them before the people from all blame, that they might not suffer loss of popularity or alms—and where he turned and said: “I pray you, good people, be never worse to these men for my sake, as though they should be the authors of my death.  It is not they;”—then was bound to the stake and slowly burned, in the presence of the multitudes that clothed the natural amphitheatre around.  The heights above are crowned by the ruins of the old priory of St. Leonards, on the one side, and on the other by a few fragments of St. Michael’s chapel, whose vestiges, under a name assigned to them through their later notoriety, as the stronghold of the rebel Kett, yet linger as landmarks on the early pathway of national progress and reform.

There sat the “King of Norfolk,” as he was styled, and held his councils of state under the old oak, which bore thenceforth the title of the “oak of p. 81the Reformation;”—there morning and evening service were daily read to the rebel forces, and the Litany and Te Deum were listened to with solemn earnestness.  There Parker, the future archbishop of Canterbury, ventured into the midst of the rebel camp, and, under the shade of the oak, sent forth the voice of exhortation to the discontented, but to little effect.  Enclosed lands, commons stolen from the public, and other grievances suffered by the poor from the hands of the rich, lay at the hearts of the people, and the prelate’s errand of peace had well nigh terminated ill, but for the power of music—the solemn Te Deum burst forth from the voice of the rebel’s chaplain, and swelled by many “singing voices” into a loud strain of sweet harmony, fell upon the ear of the multitude, like oil upon the raging waters, and by its sweetness shed peace for the time on all around.  In this rebellion fell the gallant Earl of Sheffield, in his zeal to aid the efforts of the Earl of Warwick to quell the outburst of the people’s will; while beside him figured Dudley, the hero of Kenilworth, and cruel husband of the hapless Amy Robsart.  The popular prophecy—

The country gnoffes, Hob, Dick, and Hick,
With clubs and clouted shoon,
Shall fill the vale of Duffendale
With slaughtered bodies soon—

was fulfilled, and besiegers and besieged were among p. 82the victims.  That there is no war like civil war was verified; the wounded plucked the arrows from their wounds, that they might be sent back dripping with their blood to the hearts of their kinsmen and foes.  The watchword, “Gentlemen ruled aforetime, a number will rule now another while,” testified to the turning of the worm when trodden on—evidencing the ripening germ of the same spirit that had in earlier times wrung from the tyrant monarch a “Magna Charta,” and will yet, by agencies far other than arrow, spear, or sword, obtain for an independent people, who can reverence the laws of order and of right, every charter that shall be needed to gain them their due place in the pillar of the state, where neither capitol nor column can bear its own weight, without a base of solid and fair proportions, to give harmony, strength, and beauty to the whole.

Among the aggravating causes that led to this insurrection, so famous in our country’s annals, the desecration of church furniture and vestments, that had followed the footsteps of the Reformation, stood prominently forth; the people’s hearts rebelled against the havoc made amongst the objects they had been taught to look upon as holy—and as these deeds of licence had been simultaneous with encroachments upon their temporal rights of pasture and common land, a double feeling was engendered—a longing for social and political freedom, and a p. 83desire to reform a Reformation that was marked by such atrocious want of reverence for all that had been sacred.  Conservatism and ultra-radicalism were blended, even as in many minds to this hour they grow together.  Connected with this event of history, are two memorials that mark it as of national interest—the Homily on Rebellion which was written against the insurgents, and the institution of lord lieutenants of counties, as safeguards against such another sudden and formidable outbreak in any part of the kingdom.

Stretching away far as the eye may reach, is the broad moor, laid bare of forest trees by these same rebel forces, now clothed with yellow furze and purple heather, intertwined with clovewort and ranunculus, and hiding beneath, the crimson-tipped lichen, whose sanguine clubs and cups would seem to have drank from the soil the blood of the slain, and rendered it immortal.  Bowl-shaped excavations dotted over its surface, testify of Celtic habitations hollowed out in remote ages, beneath the forest shades, roofed by its boughs, and lying hidden among the leaves like lower birds’ nests,—now in barren desolation, serving well the vagrant purposes of gypsy life, and lending a feature to the scene that Lavengro has painted with a master-hand.

And now the eye reposes from its survey—and thought flies back to the day when the distant sea p. 84swept around the base of the castle of Blanchflower, and filled the valley below—to the era of the brave Iceni, and the sorrows of the warrior queen, Boadicea—to the advent of the mighty Cæsar,—the appropriating Saxons,—and the savage Danes and Norsemen, with their pirate hordes, storming the outposts of the military camp from their uncouth naval fleets,—and thence to the era of the Norman hero planting his foot upon our soil, when barons multiplied in the land; and one scene of history enacted within the castle walls, bearing this date, tells much of feudal laws and feudal power.

The earldom of the city, castle, and meadow lands, being then possessed by a Breton, named Ralph de Gael, or Guader, partly by gift from the Conqueror, partly perhaps by force of arms, this local sovereign designed to wed the daughter of one Fitz-Osborn, a relation of William.

This matrimonial scheme not pleasing his lord the king, without ceremony it was prohibited; but in that day of might versus might, earls and barons would sometimes have a will of their own, and the fair affianced was made a bride within the chapel walls, whose doorway in an angle, marks the site of the act of disobedience; the banquetting room then received the bridal guests, and the sumptuous feast, with its attendant libations, witnessed a yet more decided scene of rebellion; the bridegroom and the p. 85bride’s own brother, the Earl of Hereford, already committed by carrying the forbidden marriage into effect, became eloquent and bold in their language and designs, until a chorus of excited voices joined them in oaths that sealed them as conspirators against their absent sovereign.  Treachery revealed the plot, and the church lent its aid to the crown to crush the rebels.  Lanfranc, the primate and archbishop, sent out troops, headed by bishops and justiciaries, the highest dignitaries of church and law, to oppose and besiege them; the bridegroom fled for succour to his native Brittany, leaving his bride for three months to defend the garrison with her followers, at the end of which time the brave Emma was compelled to capitulate, but upon mild terms, obtaining leave for herself and followers to flee to Brittany; her husband thenceforth became an outlaw—her brother was slain, and scarcely one guest present at that ill-fated marriage feast escaped an untimely end.  Each prisoner lost a right foot, many their eyes, and all their worldly goods.  A sorrowful romance of real life, to mark the early history of our castle halls.

Nor did the city go unscathed, the devastation carried into its midst by the siege was heavy; many houses were burnt, many deserted by those who had joined the earl, and it is curious to read in the valuation of land and property that was taken soon after this event, how many houses are recorded as “void” both in the burgh or that part of the city p. 86under the jurisdiction of the king and earl, as well as in other portions subject to other lords, for it would seem that the landlords of the soil on which stood the city were three, the king or earl of the castle, the bishop, and the Harold family, relatives of him who fell at Hastings.  Clusters of huts then congregated round the base of the hill and constituted the feudal village; its inhabitants consisting of villains, of which there were two classes, the husbandmen or peasants annexed to the manor or land, and a lower rank described in English law as villains-in-gross, in simple terms, absolute slaves, transferable by deed from one owner to another, whose lives, save for the ameliorations of individual indulgences, were a continued helpless state of toil, degradation and suffering; the socmen or tenants holding land by some service, (not knightly) and bordars or boors, who occupied a position somewhat above the serfs or villains, and held small portions of land with cottages or bords on them, on condition they should supply the lord with poultry, eggs, and other small provisions for his board and entertainment.

Freemen seem to have included all ranks of society holding in military tenure; they lived under the protection of great men, but in their persons were free; the rural labourers were divided into ploughmen, shepherds, neat-herds, cow-herds, swine-herds, and bee-keepers.  The “haiae” belonging to the manor p. 87houses were enclosed places, hedged or paled round, into which beasts were driven to be caught.  At the time of the survey in William’s reign the estimate of the tenants and fiefs of the earl and king is taken as one thousand five hundred and sixty-five burgesses, Englishmen paying custom to the king, one hundred and ninety mansions void, and four hundred and eighty bordars; the bishop’s territory contained thirty-seven burgesses, and seven mansions void; and on the property of the deceased Harold, there were fifteen burgesses and seven mansions void.

After the banishment of Earl Ralph, the castle was given to Ralph Bigod, who was styled the Constable, as was usual when any castle was committed to a baron or earl, and he exercised royal power within the jurisdiction of the castle.  To him succeeded Roger Bigod, a great favourite and friend of Henry I., and one of the witnesses to the laws made by him during his reign.  William, the son of Roger, succeeded his father, and by King Henry was made steward of his household.  This William was drowned at sea, and his brother Hugh became possessed of his estate and honours.  To him is referred the finishing and beautifying of the tower of the castle; but he was supplanted in the office of constable by William de Blois, Earl of Moreton, son of King Stephen.  He in his turn was dispossessed of it by Henry II.  Hugh Bigod joined with the son of Henry, afterwards p. 88Henry III., in his revolt against his father, for which adherence he was reinstated in the Castle of Blancheflower, but was obliged again to surrender when the son repented of his rebellion, and submitted to his father.

To Hugh succeeded another Roger Bigod, his son, who received from the hands of Richard I. the earldom of Norfolk and stewardship of the king’s household, and most probably was constable of the castle also.  During the troubled reign of John, it passed into the hands of Lewis, son of the French king, who made William de Bellomont, his marshal, constable, and placed him with a garrison within its walls.  To him succeeded Roger Bigod, who figured amongst the revolting barons in the reign of Henry III.  At the memorable interview between the confederated nobles and the king, at the parliament in Westminster, he took a leading part in the proceedings.  All the barons having assembled in complete armour, as the king entered, there is described to have been a rattling of swords; his eye gleaming along the mailed ranks he asked, “What means this?  Am I a prisoner?”  “Not so,” replied Roger Bigod, “but your foreign favourites and your own extravagance have involved this realm in great wretchedness, whereof we demand that the powers of government be made over to a committee of bishops and barons, that the same may root up abuses p. 89and enact good laws.”  The committee when formed numbered in its list both Roger of Norfolk earl marshal, and Hugh Bigod.  In this reign it is mentioned that the castle became a gaol for the county, and state prisoners were confined here.  Many a dark tragedy was doubtless witnessed by its dungeon walls during those troubled times, when civil wars were hourly peopling them with political offenders.  In Edward II.’s reign the castle was partly re-fortified, but in the following reign, falling completely out of repair, it came to be regarded simply as a county jail, and its jurisdiction vested in the hands of the sheriff of the county.

Among the historical facts of later date, connected with the castle, and bearing date of the same year as that in which Queen Elizabeth visited the city, is an order issued from Whitehall, to the sheriff of Norfolk, to imprison within the castle walls certain persons who refused to attend the service of the church; the letter is preserved among Cole’s manuscripts in the British Museum; the copy of it which is published by the Archæological Society, runs thus:

To our loving Friend Mr. Gawdry, Sherif of the Countie of Norfolk.

After our hearty Commendations: whereas We have given order to the Sheref of the Countie of Suffolke to deliver certain Prisoners into your hands, who were by our order p. 90commytted for their obstinacy in refusing to come to the Church in time of Sermons sad Common Prayers: Thes shal be to require you to receive them into your chardge and forthwith to commytt them to such of her Majesty’s gaoles within that Countie as shall seeme good unto the Lord Bishop of Norwiche, by whose direction they shall be delivered unto you, ther to remayne in Cloase Prison untill such tyme as you shalbe otherwise directed from us.  And so we bid you heartely farewell.

From Whitehall, the xxiijrd of February, 1878.

Your loving Freands

W. Burghley.  E. Lyncoln.  T. Sussex.

F. Knollys.  E. Leycester.

Chr. Hatton.  Fra. Walsingham.  Tho. Wilson.

In 1643 an order was sent to fortify the castle, at the request of the deputy lieutenant of the county; the order is signed by seven staunch and influential opponents of the royal party, viz. Tho. Wodehouse, John Palgrave, Tho. Hoggan, Miles Hobart, J. Spelman, Tho. Sotherton, Gre. Gawsett.

Information concerning it from this period is scanty, probably little of interest is connected with its later history, beyond the calendar of prisoners who have been lodged within its precincts, of which we have no record, and were it otherwise, we should be reluctant to consult its pages for materials to enhance the attractions of our “Rambles.”

It is to the history of the period prior to its appropriation as a prison, that we must look for a picture of the life once animating its halls and banquet p. 91chambers, and from the general outlines of feudal society and government, a tolerably faithful portrait of it may be drawn.

The age of feudalism has been extolled with enthusiasm only equal to that which has deprecated it beyond measure; it has even been proposed as a model for future ages by the cotemporary voice to that which has pronounced it as exclusively a time of immorality, despotism, and superstition; between the two extremes, a wide field of truth lies open to be explored.

“It was a time,” as Guizot says, “when religion was the principle and end of all institutions, while military functions were the forms and means of action.”

All social movements partook of this twofold character, as questions of commerce and industry were decidedly subordinate.

The land was divided between the military barons possessed of regal authority and governing as kings in their petty kingdoms—the church, also proprietors of large estates, and the cities, then only beginning to rise from their abject nullity into an importance that has gone on increasing until commerce has become the sovereign of the world—Mammon its god.  The individualism of barbarism was sunk in the centralisation to which this system gave birth; and from the social arrangements connected with it, p. 92sprung up that spirit of chivalry that was so marked a characteristic of the times, than which nothing more fully exemplified the singular combination of military and religious fervour.  Isolated from all communion with general society, a castle was at once a city and a family in itself, youths were apprenticed, as it were, to learn the usages of knighthood, and in the capacity of pages, from earliest boyhood, were initiated into the forms and courtesies of chivalrous and military exercises.  In this task women bore their part, the youths being ever treated as sons of the lord or knight under whose tutelage they had been placed; from this they became promoted to the rank of esquires, and perfected in the arts of tilting, riding, hunting, and hawking, frequently of music, and in case of war were qualified to follow the banner of their instructors.  The rank or military renown of a baron helped to swell the list of esquires and pages in his retinue; hence many castles were complete colleges of chivalry.  The close association of years in such familiar relationship cut off from all other social communion, engendered strong attachments, and fraternities, superseding often the ties of common relationship, sprung up.

The imposing ceremony that accompanied the distinction of knighthood was the finishing touch to this education.  The candidate, after several lonely nights of prayer and watching in some church or p. 93chapel, during which period he received the sacraments of religion, was finally arrayed in full splendour, conducted in grand procession to a church with the sword of knighthood suspended by a scarf; the weapon was blessed by an officiating priest, and the oaths administered which bound him to defend the church and clergy, be the champion of virtuous women, especially the widow or orphan, and to be gentle ever to the weak.  Warriors then of high degree, or ladies, then buckled on the spurs, clothed him in suits of armour, and the prince or noble from whom he received the knighthood, finally advanced, and giving the accolade, which consisted of three gentle strokes with the flat of the sword, exclaimed, “In the name of God, St. Michael, and St. George, I make thee a knight; be hardy, brave, and royal.”  From this date he might aspire to the highest offices and distinctions.

The domestic comforts that graced the private life within these castle halls, formed striking contrasts to the magnificence of the knightly and military displays, although the walls often were hung with gorgeous tapestries, and the banqueting table groaned beneath the weight of gold and silver, the refinements essential to modern ideas of comfort were unknown.  The fingers of the eater supplied the place of forks, and when withdrawn from rich dishes, were often employed in tearing the morsels of food p. 94asunder.  Straw and rushes were the substitutes for carpets, and clumsy wooden benches and tables supported the guests and viands at these entertainments; those who were unfortunate enough not to obtain a seat at the board were compelled to make use of the floor.  Several English estates were held upon condition of furnishing straw for royal beds, and litter for the apartment floors of a palace; and the office of rush strewer remained in the list of the royal household to a very late period.  Doubtless these deficiences were of slight importance to an active out-door people, whose happiness consisted in large retinues, rich armours, and splendid tournaments; even the ladies, with hunting, hawking, and the occasional amusement of displaying their skill in archery from the loop-holes or ramparts of their castles, when acting as viceroys for their sovereign lords, no doubt could well dispense with the minor occupations of refined civilization.

The bill of fare of a feudal banquet would possibly astonish and puzzle the gastronomic powers and digestive organs of the nineteenth century, although cookery was esteemed as a noble science even then, in the days when Soyer was not.  The boar’s head, the peacock, occasionally served up in his feathers, the crane or young herons, might not have been altogether bad substitutes for turkeys and geese, but whether larded, roasted, and eaten with ginger, and p. 95often served in their feathers, they might have been suited to our modern tastes is problematical; porpoises and seals that often appeared in the list of “goodly provisions” for special occasions, may scarcely be deemed more of dainties; and the compounds that figure in some of the recipes extant, of the more mystical entrées, present to the eye such medleys, that we feel certain of a preference for the plain “roast” or “boil,” in feudal times, at least, if not at all others.  Force-meats, compounded of pork, figs, cheese, and ale, seasoned with pepper, saffron, and salt, baked in a crust, and garnished with powderings of sugar and comforts, may be quoted as a sample of their made dishes, while beef-tea, enriched with pork fat, beaten up with cream and sweetened with honey, as directed by their form, possibly was classed among the delicate soups, or ranged under the head of “sick cookery.”

The bread that formed the substitute for our best and “second households,” was of various kinds, the finest being a sort of spice-cake of superior quality; simnel and wastel cakes were the ordinary food for the aristocracy, while commoners were content with a coarse brown material manufactured from rye, oats, or barley, that would at this day cause a revolution in prisons, or pauper workhouses, were it to be found in the dietary table of either, much less on the dinner-table.  The special wines, hippocras, p. 96pigment, morat, and mead, were the temptations to inebriety among the rich; cider, perry, and ale, the form of alcoholic drinks common to the less affluent.

The record of Peter de Blois, in one of his letters from the Court of Henry II., may be estimated perhaps as a faithful, if not attractive, description of the ordinary fare on which many unfortunate knights and retainers were sometimes compelled to subsist.  He tells us that a priest or soldier had bread put before him, “not kneaded, not leavened, made of the dregs of beer, like lead, full of bran, and unbaked, wine spoiled by being sour or mouldy, thick, greasy, rancied, tasting of pitch, and vapid, sometimes so full of dregs, that they were compelled rather to filter than drink it, with eyes shut and teeth closed; meat stale as often as fresh; fish often four days old.”  The picture is heightened by sundry details of a pungent character, all tending to prove the truth of his assertion, that powerful exercise was an essential assistant to overcome the evils of such diet.  Early hours possibly contributed to lessen its injurious effects; and these of course, at any rate as far as regarded the “early to bed,” were enforced by the curfew, which has so mistakenly been attributed to the Norman Conqueror’s despotism, whereas it had long prevailed as a custom here, as on the continent, prior to his era, and was, in fact, a necessary precaution against the dangers of fire, p. 97when the dwelling-houses that formed a town or city were little more than bundles of faggots, well dried and bound up ready for burning.

Among the social amusements of that time, gambling seems to have prevailed to a great extent.  The curious prohibitions that were enacted in the reign of Richard, would indicate that it had then grown into a formidable vice; kings were permitted to play with each other, and command their followers, but the nobles were restricted to losing twenty shillings in one night; priests and knights might, with permission, play to the same amount, but were to forfeit four times twenty shillings if they exceeded it; servants might also play to a limited extent, at the command of their master, but if they ventured without such permission, they subjected themselves to the penalty of being whipped three successive days; and mariners at sea, for a like transgression, were sentenced to be ducked three times for the offence.  Chess, that infinite and insoluble intellectual problem, whose origin is lost in oriental obscurity, was introduced by the Crusaders on their return from their expeditions to the Holy Land, if, indeed, as some believe, it was not known in this country prior to that date; but if we may judge by inference, we may presume it to have been no favourite recreation in those spirit-stirring times, when crusades, tournaments, and military prowess p. 98were the end and aim of men’s lives.  The amusements and sports naturally partook of the character of the age, and hunting, hawking, tilting, and tournaments were at once the schools for gaining strength and dexterity, as well as safety-valves for the overflowing mobility engendered by the spirit of the times.  These pursuits were elevated to the rank of perfect sciences, and the education of a youth was incomplete that did not embrace regular tuition in all of them.  Nor were they, as we know, confined to the “lords of the creation.”  In hunting, ladies not only often joined in the sport, but frequently formed parties by themselves, winding the horn, rousing the game, and pursuing it without assistance, the female Nimrods manifesting especial partiality to greyhounds—or hare-hounds, as they were then called.  The objects of these hunts were somewhat more numerous and varied then than now, and were divided into three classes; first, the beasts for hunting, viz. the hare, the hart, the wolf, and the wild boar; secondly, the beasts of the chase, the buck and doe, the fox, the martin, and the roe; and a minor class, which were said to afford great disport in the pursuit, the grey, or badger, the wild cat, and the otter.

The poor little hare and a fox or two, alone are left us of all these original tenants of the soil; and game laws were, even in those days of plentiful p. 99supply, found needful to preserve the aborigines of the woods as their especial property, by the great ones of the land, and when manslaughter was to be atoned for by a fine of money, the death of a head of deer was punishable by the forfeiture of the offender’s eyes, and a second instance by death.  Who will dispute the aristocratic lineage of the game laws, with such facts of history before them?  Hunting had its proper seasons; the wolf and fox might be hunted from Christmas-day to the Annunciation, the roebuck from Easter to Michaelmas, the roe from Michaelmas to Candlemas, the hare from Michaelmas to Midsummer, the boar from the Nativity to the day of the “Presentation in the Temple.”

The clergy were not behind-hand in partaking of the privileges of the chase within their own demesnes, and they took care generally to have good receptacles for game in their parks and enclosures.  At the time of the Reformation, the see of Norwich had no less than thirteen parks well stocked with deer; and the name of one of the city churches, St. Peter’s, Hungate, is derived from the Hound’s-gate, where the bishop’s hounds were stabled.

Hawking was a sport, until the magna charta, exclusively confined to the nobility; lords and ladies alike indulged themselves in the exercise, which from its gentleness, in comparison with others then in vogue, was deemed somewhat an effeminate pastime, p. 100probably because, in the delicate dexterity it required, the ladies bore off the palm of victory.

A hawk’s eyrie was returned in doomsday-book as one of the most valuable articles of property; and the estimation in which the bird was held, may be judged of by the enormous prices given for them, and the heavy penalties attached to stealing either them or their eggs; for destroying one of which the offender was liable to imprisonment for a twelvemonth and a day.  Perhaps, however, this is no very safe criterion of their intrinsic value, or those sentences that sometimes figure in our modern assize reports—where seven years’ transportation for stealing two ducks from an open pond, stands side by side with twelve months’ imprisonment for murdering a wife, a friend, or a child, in a fit of temporary insanity, alias intoxication—might lead to rather curious inferences.

But to return to our hawks; a thousand pounds for a cast of these birds, and a hundred marks for a single one, are recorded prices.  In hawking, the bird was carried on the wrist, which was protected by a thick glove, the head of the bird covered with a hood, and its feet secured to the wrist by straps of leather, called jesses, and to its legs were fastened small bells, toned according to the musical scale.

Among the chronicles of old monkish writers prior p. 101to the Conquest, is a story accounting for the first advent of the Danes upon our shores, as connected with the amusement of hawking: “A Danish chieftain of high rank, named Lothbroc, amusing himself with hawking near the sea, upon the western shores of Denmark, the bird in pursuit of her game fell into the water; Lothbroc, anxious for her safety, got into a little boat that was near at hand, and rowed from the shore to take her up; but before he could return to land, a sudden storm arose, and he was driven out to sea.  After suffering great hardships, during a voyage of infinite peril, he reached the coast of Norfolk, and landed at a port called Reedham, (now a small village on the railway line from London to Yarmouth,) where he was immediately seized by the inhabitants, and sent to the court of Edmund, King of the East Angles, who received him favourably, and soon became strongly attached to him for his skill in training and flying hawks.  The partiality shown to the foreigner excited the jealousy of Beoric, the king’s falconer, who took an opportunity of murdering the Dane whilst he was exercising his birds in a small wood, where he secreted the body.  The vigilance of a favourite spaniel discovered the deed.  Beoric was apprehended and convicted of the murder, and condemned to be put in an open boat, without sails, oars, or rudder, and abandoned to the mercy of p. 102the winds and wares.  It so chanced that the boat was wafted to the very point of land that Lothbroc came from; and Beoric was apprehended by the Danes, and taken before their two chieftains, Hinguer and Hubba, the sons of Lothbroc, to whom the crafty falconer made a statement as ingenious as false, wherein he affirmed that their father had been murdered by Edmund, and himself sent adrift for opposing the deed.  Irritated by the falsehood, the Danes invaded the kingdom of the East Angles, pillaged their country, took their king prisoner, tied him to a stake, and shot him to death with arrows.”   Lidgate, a monk of St. Edmund’s at Bury, has given this legend a place in his poetical life of the tutelary saint of his monastery, but it bears upon it every mark of a legendary tale, and the fact is well known that Danish pirates had infested the shores long prior to the date assigned to the events narrated in it.

The office of “queen’s falconer” yet exists, and it is written in a certain little black book, that the duties attached to it, however imaginary, receive substantial acknowledgement from the public purse in the form of an annual stipend of no mean amount.  Another recreation peculiarly associated with the memory of knights and dames once tenanting the feudal castle is the tournament, the site of whose gorgeous pageantries yet bears the title of the “Gilden croft,” p. 103though the lustre of the name is the only ray of splendour bequeathed to it as an inheritance of glory.  Centuries have witnessed the mutations of the properties of the great ones of the land, as they have gradually passed down through the various gradations of society like cast-off garments, until the once brilliant lists of the gay tournament have changed to long tiers of poverty tenanted “right ups;” the music of the herald’s trumpet has been replaced by the rattle of the shuttle and the loom; and the steel-clad knights and esquires, with their tiltings and joustings, amid the smiles and favours of youth and beauty, have given place to the struggles of the weaver and the winder in their weary battle of life, for the guerdon of daily bread.  Where, Edward and Phillippa held their Easter tournament, and their gallant son, the brave Black Prince, displayed his knightly prowess amid splendours that might rival the “field of the cloth of gold,” poverty, hard labour, and penury now rear their gaunt limbs; and the tale of the “Paramatta weaver” is breathed forth to the listening ear of humanity from its precincts.

But the tournament demands attention, inwrought as it is with every conception we may form of the days of chivalry; and, thanks to the patient researches of many chroniclers, we have not much difficulty in learning all we may desire to know concerning these glories of an age gone by.  Fiction has given p. 104life and vigour to these features of past history.  Ivanhoe lives and breathes before us at the mention of a tournament, and plain prose facts may not vie with the glowing pictures, painted with imagination’s rainbow hues.  The tournament was not altogether the play-ground of full-grown knights and esquires, as romance would sometimes tend to show it;—it was the theatre on which many an important drama of life was played; it was a grand field for introduction into military life, then the only life deemed worthy the ambition of a gentleman; and the laws and regulations to which all who presented themselves as candidates for honours became subject, bespeak the importance attached to the favours it conferred.

The mode of conducting a tournament was established by law.  It was preceded always by a proclamation; one worded thus, is given by Strutt: “Be it known unto you, lords, knights, and esquires, ladies and gentlewomen,” (they did not in those days of chivalry commence ladies, my lords and gentlemen) “you are hereby acquainted, that a superb achievement in arms, and a grand and noble tournament, will be held in the parade of Clarencieux king at arms, on the part of the most noble baron, lord of I. C. B., and on the part of the most noble baron the lord of C. B. D., in the parade of Norreys king at arms.”  The regulations that follow are p. 105these: “The two barons on whose part the tournament is undertaken shall be at their pavilions two days before the commencement of the sports, when each of them shall cause his arms to be attached to his pavilion, and set up his banner in front of his parade; and all those who wish to be combatants on either side, must in like manner set up their banner on either side before the parade allotted to them.  Upon the evening of the same day, they shall shew themselves in their stations, and expose their helmets to view at the windows of their pavilions.  On the morrow the champions shall be at their parades by the hour of ten in the morning, to await the commands of the lord of the parade, and the governor, who are the speakers of the tournament; at this meeting the prizes of honour are determined.”  In the document from which this is taken, a rich sword was to be the reward of the most successful on the part of Clarencieux, and a helmet for the best on the side of Norreys.  It goes on to say, “On the morning of the day appointed for the tournament, the arms, banners and helmets of all the combatants shall be exposed at their stations, and the speakers present at the place of combat by ten of the clock, where they shall examine the arms and approve or reject them at pleasure; the examination being finished and the arms returned to the owners, the baron who is the challenger shall then cause his banner p. 106to be placed at the beginning of the parade, and the blazon of his arms to be nailed to the roof of his pavilion; his example is to be followed by the baron on the opposite side, and all the knights of either party who are not in their stations before the nailing up of the arms, shall forfeit their privileges and not be permitted to tournay.

“The king at arms and the heralds are then commanded by the speakers to go from pavilion to pavilion crying aloud, ‘To Achievement, knights and esquires, to Achievement,’ being the notice for them to arm themselves; and soon after the company of heralds shall repeat the former ceremony, having the same authority, saying, ‘Come forth, knights and esquires, come forth;’ and when the two barons have taken their places in the lists, each of them facing his own parade, the champions on both parts shall arrange themselves, every one by the side of his banner; and then two cords shall be stretched between them, and remain in that position, until it shall please the speakers to command the commencement of the sports.  The combatants shall each of them be armed with a pointless sword, having the edges rebated, and with a truncheon hanging from their saddles, and they may use either the one or the other, so long as the speakers shall give them permission, by repeating the sentence, ‘Let them go on.’  After they have sufficiently performed their exercise, p. 107the speakers are to call to the heralds, and order them to ‘Fold up the banners,’ which is the signal for the conclusion of the tournament.  The banners being rolled up, the knights and esquires are permitted to return to their dwellings.”

Every knight or esquire performing in the tournament, was permitted to have one page within the lists, (but without a truncheon or any other defensive weapon,) to wait upon him, give him his sword, or truncheon, as occasion might require; and also in case of any accident happening to the armour, to repair it.

The laws of the tournament permitted any knight to unhelm himself at pleasure, if he was incommoded by the heat; none being suffered to assault him in any way, until he had replaced his helmet at the command of the speakers.

The king-at-arms and the heralds who proclaimed the tournament, had the privilege of wearing the blazon of arms of those by whom the sport was instituted; besides which, they were entitled to six ells of scarlet cloth as their fee, and had all their expenses defrayed during the continuance of the tournament; by the law of arms they had a right to the helmet of every knight when he made his first essay at a tournament; they also claimed six crowns as nail money, for affixing the blazon of arms to the pavilion.  The king at arms held the banners of the p. 108two chief barons on the day of the tournament, and the other heralds the banners of their confederates according to their rank.

The lists for the tournaments and those appointed for ordeal combats, were appointed in the same manner; the king found the field to fight in, and the lists were made and devised by a constable; they were to be sixty paces long and forty broad, set up in good order, the ground within hard and level, without any great stones or other impediments, the entrances to them to be by two doors east and west, strongly barred with bars seven feet high, that a horse may not leap them.

After the conclusion of the tournament, the combatants retired to their homes, but usually met again in the evening at some entertainment; where they were joined by all the nobility, including the ladies, and dancing, feasting and singing concluded the day.  After supper the speakers of the tournament called together the heralds appointed on both sides, and demanded from them alternately the names of those who had best performed on the opposite sides; the double list was then presented to the ladies who had been present at the pastime, and the decision was referred to them as to the award of the prizes; they selected one name from each party, and the successful heroes received their prizes from the hands of two young maidens of rank.  If a knight transgressed p. 109the rules he was excluded from the lists with a sound beating, from which alone the intercession of ladies could save him; so the influence of the fair sex had opportunities of being practically felt, as well as theoretically talked of, even then.

The juste or lance game differed from the tournament and was often included in it, when it took place at its conclusion, but it was quite consistent with the rules of chivalry for justs to be held separately; the sword was the weapon used at the tournament, the lance at the juste.  The juste received the title of the “Round table game,” in the reign of Henry III., from a fraternity of knights who frequently justed together, and accustomed themselves to associate and eat together in one apartment at a round table, where every place was equally honourable (even in feudal times a taint of democracy would creep in).  Historians attribute this round table game to Arthur, the son of Uter Pendragon, that famous British hero, whose achievements are so disguised with legendary wonders that his very existence has been questioned.

At both tilts and tournaments the lists were superbly decorated, surrounded by the pavilions of the champions, and ornamented with their coats and banners.  The scaffolds for the accommodation of the spectators were hung with tapestry, and embroidered with gold and silver; all attended in their p. 110most sumptuous apparel, and the display of costly grandeur glittering over the whole surface of the field, might well earn for the memorable scene so designated, its title of the Gilden Croft.  Wealth, beauty, and grandeur were concentrated into one focus, whence they blazed forth to the eye as from a burning lens.

The dress of the combatants varied according to the rank of the individual.  Above the under-dress of cloth, fitting close, and common to all, was worn the chausses, or mail coverings for the feet and legs, somewhat resembling metal stockings; upon the body the gambeson, a sort of close jacket made of cloth or leather doubled and stuffed, and in itself oftentimes a most efficient case of defensive armour; this garment, without sleeves, and universally worn by all classes of men, was also occasionally introduced into the catalogue of ladies’ attire, and no doubt was the primitive model for the stays of later generations.  Above the gambeson was worn the gorget or throat piece, beneath the hauberk or coat of mail, by which it was concealed; this was the garment that peculiarly designated the rank of the wearer.  Esquires might not wear sleeves of mail, and none might claim to wear the complete suit that were not possessed of certain estates.  Above the armour was usually worn some outer dress, a surcoat or mantle of rich material.  The sword belt was a necessary part of the warrior’s p. 111dress, and was often very elaborately embellished with precious stones, but more commonly made simply of plain leather.  Another belt was also worn over the left shoulder, to support the shield.

The helmet comprised the whole armour for the head and face, and usually consisted of two parts, one moving over the other, by which means the face could be uncovered or perfectly inclosed at pleasure.  These portions of the dress, however, varied to an almost infinite degree at various times, and at a later period were exchanged for the Bacinet, Cervaliere, Coif de fer, &c. &c.

Gloves of mail were attached to the sleeves of the hauberk, and were sometimes divided at the extremities for the accommodation of the fingers and thumb, but not often.  Such was the military costume of the knight in armour, and the dress of the spectators, both gentlemen and ladies, must not altogether be left unnoticed.  The tunic and rich surcoat above, sometimes varied with a hooded mantle, and the robe a long garment of the tunic kind, were the leading characteristics of male attire; shoes with long points, cloth sandals, ornamented with embroidery, girdles enriched with precious stones, gloves and spurs completed the suit.

The ladies wore gowns, or upper tunics, or robes, with surcoats varying much in length, sometimes being shorter than the tunic, at others trailing on p. 112the ground, with long loose sleeves, open beneath to the elbow, and falling thence almost to the feet.  Their mantles were made of the richest materials, and copiously embellished with gold, silver, and rich embroideries, sometimes decorated with fringes of gold, varying in size almost as much as material.  The wimple was a head-dress, worn with or without an additional veil, usually linen, but occasionally of silk, embroidered with gold.  It was a species of veil, covering the head but not the face, and fastened underneath the chin, or at the top of the head, by a circlet of gold.  The hair was worn loose and flowing, often without any covering, but frequently bound by a chaplet of goldsmith’s work and flowers, or of the latter only.  Boots and gloves were in the inventory of necessaries, but, alas for comfort, stockings were rare, white, black, or blue.  With this faint sketch of an Anglo-Norman wardrobe, as it furnished materials to add splendour to the glittering field of sport, we bid farewell to the lists, not, however, without one more word as to the honourable position awarded to the gentler sex in the jousts, which were usually made in their especial honour, and over which they presided as judges paramount; so that it behoved every true knight to have a favourite fair one, who was not only esteemed by him as the paragon of beauty and virtue, but supplied to him often the place of a tutelary saint, to whom he paid his p. 113vows in the day of peril; for it was then an established doctrine that “love made valour perfect, and incited heroes to great enterprizes.”  Alas! for the good old times of chivalry, when women were content to make great warriors; but as she did her mission in that day, so may she, in this sober life of mental tiltings, lend her meed of influence to people the world with great men.  And so farewell to tournaments; verily they are of the past, and their glitter dazzles our senses, in this generation of moral versus physical force, when among the number of the people’s favourite heroes is the champion of Universal Peace Societies.

But we must not leave our sketch of the life in a feudal castle, without one glance at the feminine employments that served to relieve the monotonous existence of the isolated dames condemned to comparative solitude within its walls; nor are we able to discover much, if any, variety in their occupations.  The embroidery frame, and an occasional spindle and distaff, before the improvements in arts and science had substituted factories and looms, were almost the only resources allowed them; but these were inexhaustible, and the many elaborate specimens of their skill that have survived the casualties of a hundred generations, bear witness to the indefatigable perseverance with which they were employed.  The garments of the clergy at this period were richly p. 114embroidered, so much so, as to excite the admiration of the pope, and induce him to issue a bull to the English priests, enjoining them to procure him vestments equally gorgeous.  Many of these were the free-will offerings of the rich, and the fruits of highborn ladies’ industry.  Fringe-making of gold and silver, worked upon lace without the aid of the needle, was another species of occupation afforded them, and constituted the Phrygian work often spoken of by old historians.  Cyprian work was a variety of embroidery, inasmuch as it was a thin, transparent texture like gauze, named cyprus, worked with gold.  Cyprus was a term applied also to black crape, then appropriated exclusively to widows’ mourning; possibly this might have been the origin of “wearing the cypress.”  Embroidery was not alone confined to ornaments of dress, or even clerical vestments; hangings for the chambers, and pictures on almost every possible subject, were produced from the needle.

The tapestry at Bayeux, in Normandy, attributed to Matilda, the queen of the Conqueror, represents the history of Harold, king of England, and William of Normandy, from the embassy of the former to Duke William, at the command of Edward the Confessor, to his final overthrow at Hastings.  The ground of this work is a white linen cloth or canvas, one foot eleven inches in depth, and two hundred p. 115and twelve in length.  The figures are all in their proper colours, of a style not unlike those of japan ware, having no pretence to symmetry or proportion.  It is preserved with great care in the cathedral dedicated to Thomas à Becket, in Normandy, and is annually exhibited for eight days, commencing on St. John’s day, and is called Duke William’s toilette.

It is, however, extremely questionable whether it was the work of the royal lady,—many figures in it would indicate that its manufacture was of more recent date—be it as it may, it is a wondrous specimen of patient industry, and valuable for the representation of manners and customs of the times traced upon it.

Here we bid farewell to castle halls, to the ghosts of belted knights and hooded dames, to spinning wheels and tapestries, falcons, jennets, tournaments, and banquets, to the border’s bord upon the skirting of his lord’s domain, the serf’s log hut, the cowherd’s shed, and the prisoner’s dungeon,—the moat, once deep and flowing, now dried up, and teeming with cultivated trees and shrubs, and ornamental flowers, and sculptured figures,—we say adieu to the past history, written on the flints and mortar of the ramparts, that have braved the “battle and the breeze,” for near a thousand years,—and leave the soaring heights, whence we may look down upon the little city world below as on a stage, whose scenes and p. 116slips are all laid bare beneath us in their skeleton machinery—dark lanes and lumbering alleys crowded round, and shut in out of sight, by facial frontings of glass, and brick, and plaster.  Churches and heaped-up churchyards, bursting their walls with the accumulated corruption of centuries of generations,—distant villages and village spires,—and spots made sacred by the blood of hero-martyrs,—the winding river, once the stormy sea-passage for Norsemen and Saxon fleets—and take one final leave of the giant mound,—whose origin, whether first reared in Celtic ages far remote, a temple to the Sun, or a portion of the far-famed Icknild Way, that crosses our island like a belt from south-west to north-east, whether the architecture of Danes, Saxons, or Normans, is alike full of history and of poetry, and the well garnered store-house of many a rich and precious truth,—a monument of the past, ever present to our eye, as a landmark by which to measure the progress of our nation in religion, freedom, and social happiness.

the market-place.

Market-place.—Present aspect.—Visit to its stalls.—Norfolk Marketwomen.—Christmas Market.—Early History.—Extracts from old records.—Domestic scene of 13th century.—Early Crafts.—Guilds.—Medley of Historical Facts.—Extract from Diary of Dr. Edward Browne.—The City in Charles the Second’s reign.—Duke’s Palace Gardens.—Manufactures.—Wool.—Worsted.—Printing.—Caxton.—Specimens of Ancient Newspapers.—Blomefield.

The old city, so rich in antiquarian remains, can boast but slow progress in modern architectural developments; nor may it vie with many a younger town in its contrivances for the comfort and conveniences of those most useful members of society—the market-folks.  No Grainger has arisen, to rear a monument to his own fame, and of his city’s prosperity, in the form of a shelter for this important class of the town and country populace.  May be, the picturesque beauty of the Flemish scene, with its changeful canopy of “ethereal blue,” or neutral tint, toned down at whiles to hues of sombre gloom, beneath p. 118the heavy shade of passing storms of hail and thunder, or more steady-falling rain and snow, has made the philanthropists of these reforming times conservatives all, on this one point, while model cottages, baths and washhouses, almshouses for freemen, and almost every other scheme ingenuity may devise to testify the care and thought bestowed upon the public weal, are rising up around.  Let the cry of “Protection” once again be raised, not for the “distressed agriculturist” salesman, in his handsome corn exchange, but in favour of the “unprotected females” that sit unsheltered from the sun or storm, to vend the produce of the poultry-yards, the dairy-house, and market-garden.

But though no Temple to Commerce of the larder has been erected—a fact to be deplored in a utilitarian sense—it can never be denied that the good old seat of thriving trade can boast as fine a specimen of a genuine old market-place as may well be found in this day of competition and rivalry.  Its motley assemblage of buildings, ranged round the open square, of all styles and all ages, jostling against one another, or here and there huddled together into all sorts of inconceivable groups of varied and fantastic outline; the young ones of to-day starting up with bold and saucy front, and verily squeezing out from among them their quaint, old-fashioned, gable-ended kinsfolk of older date, or sometimes creeping out, as it p. 119were, from beneath them, content with shewing a modern face in some lower window, decked with all the new-fangled conceits of the latest fashions, and allowing their ancestors quiet resting-place aloft, where to moulder away into decay, are a chronology of history in themselves.  Now and then, the fretted ironwork of some miniature parade, hanging midway in the air, and clinging to the perpendicular of masonry above some new plate-glassed and glittering front, suggests thoughts of marine villas, moonlight and sea views, and all those pretty poetical fancies associated with a lodging at some fashionable watering-place, and one wonders how they ever came to be transported thither, and for why?  They that own them tell us that they have their use, in the city, where the love of pageantry is an heir-loom from generations long since passed away whose birthright was to minister to the gorgeous magnificence of fraternities and guilds, banquettings and processions, that read like fairy tales in this sober nineteenth century; and we would believe in their utility, were it no other than to afford a bird’s eye view of the busy scenes of homely traffic going on upon a market day, amongst the accumulated heaps of provisions for the daily wants of life.

The wants of life!  Who amongst us knows the meaning of the words, the reality they hide?  Who that has numbered among the wants of life, the gold p. 120to purchase luxury or ornament, place or power, the ways and means to shine and glitter in the world, where men are prized by what they seem, rather than what they are; the wherewith to pay the idly accumulated debts, incurred through mean attempts to cover the rags of poverty, or decent homely garments of honesty, with tinsel mockeries of wealth’s trappings?  Who amongst these knows aught of the meaning of the wants of life?  Ask him who has known Hunger, has been face to face with want and starvation, has shared with loved and loving ones, weak babes, and sick and helpless mothers, the task of driving these unbidden guests away, has felt the gnawing pangs of their demon power, while gazing upon plenty, upon the wealth of food and sustenance displayed before his eyes!  Is it not more marvellous and strange, that such piles as a market displays should ever be permitted to lie safe within the arrow-shot of gaunt and wasting poverty, than that the annals of our police reports should now and then record how poverty and crime sometimes go hand in hand?

But to look more in detail at the picture offered on a summer market-day.  There to the left sit congregated together the vendors of the far-famed staple produce of the country farm-yards, sheltered from the heat by the artificial grove of variegated umbrellas, serving, or attempting to serve, the double purpose of protection from the sun in summer, and p. 121the rain in winter and summer.  The poultry “pads” and butter-stalls are one.  Turkeys, and geese, and fowls, and sausages, and little round white cheeses, share the baskets and benches with eggs and pints of butter, in the land where that commodity is sold by liquid measure, whose equivalent is somewhere near about 1lb. 3 oz.

There is a legend that one who sits here is the heroine of an old tale, which goes to the effect that “once upon a time,” when the inspector came his round to test the weights of all the measured pints, the old lady was observed slily to slip a half crown into the end of a certain pint, and hand it forward to bear the scrutiny; a bystander, who watched the trick, a moment after laid his finger on the identical pint and begged to purchase it, resisting all evasion on the part of the discomfited saleswoman, who, compelled to submit, turned out eventually the “biter bit.”

Thronging around this neighbourhood, and proffering their services with most assiduous perseverance, are a host of most amiable-looking porter women, liveried in white aprons and sleeves, with a pair of huge peck baskets dangling on their arms.  Tumbling, and bumping, and jostling among them, drowning their pleadings in a deafening chorus of discordant cries, come the itinerant venders of small wares—“lucifers three boxes a penny,” “cabbage-nets only a penny,” “reels of cotton two for a penny,” p. 122little dangling bunches of skewers, ranged in progressive order on queer and mysteriously twisted holders, that seem designed to puzzle any mechanical skill to get them off again, “only a penny;” laces, and saucepans, and stationery, and kettles, thrust into notice as though haberdashers, and tinmen, and stationers were simultaneously rushing off to the gold diggings, and disposing of their goods piecemeal by auction.  Ere the next range of stalls may be explored, the pathway is obstructed by some “literate” specimen of the blind, with an attendant concourse of listeners eagerly drinking in the titles of his sheet of hundred songs for a penny.  “There’s a good time coming,” “All’s lost now,” “My bark is on the shore,” and “I’m on the Sea,” &c. &c.; or should any great tragedy or judicial murder have occurred recently, to furnish him with a still more profitable stock in trade, such as a “last dying speech and confession,” or “full, true, and particular account” of some “shocking and brutal outrage,” somewhat may be seen and heard of how the minds and tastes of the ignorant are vitiated, and the morbid cravings of diseased imaginations fed; and the hawker of this food for the million, forms living evidence that the eye is not the only member through whose aid vice may gain entrance to the soul.  But there is little time or opportunity to philosophize amid the din of importunity that is ringing upon p. 123the ears, “What d’ye luke for? fine guse? butifull fowill?”  And there stands one who claims especial notice—the merry bacon woman, amid her throng of earnest customers.  There she stands, or rather moves; stillness is a state to which she must be a total stranger, we could fancy.  “Good day, ma’am.”  “What’s for you, sir?”  “Nice pork, dear? black meat?  I’ll wait of ye this minute, sir.”  “Yes, ma’am, beautiful ham; did you please to want any?  Oh, thank you; very well, another day I shall be proud to wait of ye.”  “No harm in asking,” she adds, turning apologetically to her more profitable customers.  And so she goes on, ever moving, ever talking, ever cheerful, civil, and attentive, one never-ending strain of courtesy and kindness pouring from her lips, while her hands are ever busy cutting and weighing, and folding up in fine white linen cloths, her sausages and bacon, and black meat, and still nicer white juvenile-looking pork, just fresh from the pickle.  Probably she has a home somewhere, but her sphere of usefulness and theatre of glory must be at the market-stall; she must have been born and bred a market-woman.  Further on, there sits a melancholy and original old lady, proprietress of a heterogeneous kind of heap, composed of small quantities of the choicest produce of various sources of supply—stray joints of pork, trifling displays of butter, a few eggs, and an occasional specimen of poultry; but her fame is p. 124built upon her unrivalled “tatoes,” hidden up in pads, and carefully concealed from the eyes of chance passengers; their discovery is a mine of wealth to the privileged few, especially in bad seasons.  Dealing forth sparingly, like a miser counting out his treasures, the queen of murphies compensates for the reserve that would seem to imply her belief that her purchasers were begging favours of her, by the involuntary boon she confers upon the lover of idioms, in her quaint displays of her county’s dialect.  The ordinary greeting of “How d’ye do?” will be met by the assurance that she “don’t fare to feel no matters,” or she “fares to feel right muddled,” or “no how,” or that she is scarce fit to be “abroad.”  Her “tatoes” she will recommend as eating like balls of flour, if cooked enow (a word indiscriminately used to express quantity and degree).  She will occasionally detail particulars of her market-horse’s “trickiness” when he “imitated” to kick on the road, and how she “gots” him on as well as she could.  Her breakfast jug she will designate a gotch, and many other like specimens will she afford of the contents of the vocabulary of East Anglia.  A traveller may with little difficulty fancy he is listening to some native of the distant county Devon; and, strange to say, the guse, fule, and enow, and other striking similarities of brogue and dialect, are not the only features of resemblance these two counties p. 125bear to each other.  The ancient rood screens of the Norfolk churches have many of them been found exactly to correspond with those found in Devonshire, and only there.  In the celebrated rebellions of Edward the Sixth’s reign, many remarkable features of resemblance were observed in the character of the outbreaks at these distant points,—so much so, as to suggest the idea of secret communication being kept up between them.  Whether both alike owe their peculiarities to the common parentage of the Iceni, a tribe of whom have been said to have settled in Devonshire as well as Pembrokeshire, or they are referable to any less remote link of connection, antiquarians may perhaps at some future day make clear.  Certain it is, the “southron” is apt to be easily beguiled into the belief that he has met a fellow-countryman or woman among the folks who deem themselves another race than the people of the “sheeres.”

But we have here wandered far aside in our market trip; next come in due order the butcher-stalls, taking a higher rank in the social scale of market society than the humbler pads, though their wares may not compete with their neighbours for a world-wide fame—south-down mutton, prime little scot, and short-horn beef, with the usual attendant displays of calves’ white heads with staring eyes, and mangled feet hanging to dismembered legs and shoulders by little strings of sinew, looking as though p. 126they were carelessly left on by accident, not to affect the weight, and other mysterious manifestations of the internal anatomy of oxen and sheep, and queer-looking conglomerations of odds and ends, transmogrified by some cooking process into very greasy imitations of brawn, and selling by the name of pork cheeses,—these make up the attractions of the butcher department, not over-inviting to look upon, even to those who are far from objecting to well-disguised appeals to their carnivorous propensities in the form of savoury dishes.

The lover of beauty will soon permit his eye to wander on and rest upon the treasures of the market-garden, where it may revel in a perfect sea of “Bremer” lusciousness; asparagus—seakale—peas, marafats and blues—beans, kidneys dwarfs, and windsor—salads and cresses—radishes in radiating bunches and globular bunches—cabbages and cauliflowers, that may perplex cooks and boilers by their magnitude—cucumbers and melons, and all the pumpkin tribe.  Fruit—shining heaps of cherries—trays of bright glistening currants, with their little seeds peeping through as “natural” as the gems in the great Russian cabinet—strawberries and raspberries on their wooden trays, with the little skimmer-like spades to shovel them up, and the choice ones packed up in their little pints, sheltered from the sun by the fresh green leaf tied over—and sundry p. 127and divers wares from foreign parts lending new features to the home department, since the tariff of the “people’s friend” came into operation.  But the crowning glory of the picture is the sovereign of the stall, the sturdy market-gardener, full of strength and sinew, the evidence of honest healthful labour meeting its due reward,—a fitting representative of the great base upon whose soundness rests the column of wealth, and capitol of rank, that with it form the pillar of our nation’s social prosperity.  He knows not what it is to seek for work, but rather needs to pluralise himself to satisfy the demands upon his skill, and time, and taste; and fairly has he earned his reputation both in horti and floriculture.  His rustic little home, with its thatched roof, and ivy and clematis twined verandah, lies in the very midst of a city of gardens almost of his own creation, watched and tended by him with a care that has rendered them the fairest line of beauty art ever devised to grace a road-side pathway through the suburbs of a city; and who ever saw or tasted wares that could rival the produce of his own little profitable domain?  But the good-humoured smile of conscious superiority in his profession, that plays upon his features, is the market-gardener’s peculiar fascination.  Talk to him of chemical manures or rich guano, how he will smile! and what a tale will he unfold of roses all burnt up, geraniums run to p. 128leaf, polyanthuses converted into cabbages, without the advantage of being edible; auriculas dying, &c.  “May do somewheres, but not for flower or market-gardens.”  Beyond him, lies spread out a rich carpet of flowers, grouped by the hands of younger and humbler ones, whom one might almost call the lay floricultural professors.  Geraniums, and fuchsias, and bright blue salvias, verbenas of every hue, from deep maroon, through crimson, up to white; sweet-scented heliotrope, and richly shaded primroses, that make the tenants of the woods look pale with envy.  A pity it seems to disturb the harmony of colour, so perfect a parterre does it form, with the back-ground of shrubs that stand in such rich clusters behind them, all waiting to be transplanted to new homes.  In the very midst of them rises a mysterious-looking little ark of canvass, resting from its weekly labour of perambulating the streets and suburbs through which it has been borne, sedan fashion, by the pair of unclassical-looking hobbledehoys that own the gay treasures it is formed to shelter, and whose lips can manage to send forth a string of nomenclature that may fairly shake the nerves of any modest purchaser.  Sweet simple-looking little floral gems, they will recommend to notice as Gilea rosea adorata, Clarkia fimbricata, Coreopsis nigra, speciosa, Colinsea rubra, all hardy annuals; and with the utmost nonchalance describe p. 129some trembling little creeper as Tropœlum Campatica Fuchsia Carolinæ, Campanula Campatica, and Lobelia ramosa, all safely meant, we presume, to conceal the relationship of the owners to the familiar tenants of the cottage border.  A novice must seize in desperation upon some one that, shorn of its ishii or osum, may chance to be remembered, lest his fate should resemble that of the fair lady, who once professed to own in her garden the “aurora borealis” and “delirium tremens.”

Among the scientific nurseries that clothe almost every outskirt of the city, may perhaps be found grander exotics, or more luxuriant varieties of floral beauty; but these fragments of botanic skill and lore are fair specimens of the inheritance bequeathed to the sons of the soil by those great master-minds whose gardens once drew Evelyn from the metropolis upon a visit to this then pre-eminent seat of wealth and magnificence.  “My Lord’s Gardens,” that skirted the water-side, whose quadrangle contained a bowling-green, a wilderness, and garden, with walks of forty feet in breadth surrounding them, have passed away, a fragment of the wilderness alone remains to mark the site of the glorious displays of wealth and fashion once paraded among them; but the name, associated with the memory of the times, is a star of the first magnitude, in the galaxy of the city’s firmament of great men.

p. 130Sir Thomas Browne, the philosopher, the physician, the naturalist, the antiquarian, and the botanist, the associate and friend of the most eminent men that graced the age in which he lived, and the historian whose works have enriched the literature of the world, stands first in the long list of names that are linked with the beauties of the vegetable kingdom; a city that has sent forth a Lindley, a Hooker, and a Smith, to be professors in the great world of science, as his followers, has cause, indeed to honour the memory of him who sowed the first seeds in the garden, that has reared such giants from its soil.

But there is yet another picture to be viewed of homely traffic; the Christmas market-day, when the old place and people seem to be in the zenith of their glory.  Each poultry-stall overflowing with the turkeys, geese, and fowls, that have not found an exit through the myriad avenues opened for their flight to every province, town, and city in the land.  There they lie in state, sharing the sovereignty of the season, with bright-gemmed holly boughs and pearly mistletoe, that deck and garnish every pad, and stall, and bench, and lie heaped up in shining stacks of magnitude that may well suggest to the young novice a question as to how the slow-growing holly and rare parasite could have been found year after year in such profusion.  Country walks, holly-skirted lanes, and park enclosures, may tell p. 131something of the one; and alas! for the poetry of the Druids and the oaks, the apple orchards now claim almost the sole honour of giving shelter to the other—the ancient deity of the woods; they will scarce allow the king of the forest a partial share in the tribute offerings to merry Christmas.

The bustling eve, when midnight surprises the scrambling teems of “Trotty Vecks,” gathering up the fragments left from rich folk’s caterings, that they too may have a savour of something more than the compliments of the season; when the remnants of the bountiful display that has been hoarded up for the highest bidders through the busy day, are auctioned off at the buyer’s own price, and fall thus perchance within the compass of the weaver’s earnings, then is the hour to see the spirit of peace and good-will towards men stalking abroad, and lifting from men’s hearts and faces the load of weariness and veil of care, transmuting by his magic touch the poor man’s copper into gold, and giving to his little stores a widow’s cruise-like power to cheer and comfort happy living hearts.  No one who dwells in the old city should deem it fruitless toil to wend their way through the old market-place on Christmas Eve, and take a poet’s lesson from the scene!

But there are other pictures still to be seen within the quaint old Elizabethan frame-work of the city’s market-place than scenes of merchandise, in these days p. 132of monster meetings.  Who can forget the human gatherings that have many a time and oft, within the limits of even childhood’s memory, been witnessed here, when gable roofs, and parapets, windows, and balconies, church towers, and Guildhall leads, have swarmed with living thousands; gay dressed “totties” and dames, aye, and sober-minded lords of the creation too! all eager and intent to watch from safe quarters some common object of attraction that has drawn together a mighty multitude of the people, with their proverbial love of sight-seeing, an inheritance bequeathed to them by their ancestral pageantries.  Slight stimulus is needed to send the heart’s blood of the city through every vein and artery to this centre, where it pulsates in deep and heavy throbs of joy, or hope, or anger, as the case may be; true, in these modern days the common wants and common blessings that have bound the sympathies of the million into one, cause the spectacle of tumultuous hate and bitterness, knocking together of heads, &c, to be a rare manifestation of popular enthusiasm; more frequently one desire, one feeling animates the body aggregate, be it to see the mammoth train of a Hughes or Van Amburgh, the entrée of a royal duke, the failure of a promised fountain bid to play by a new water company, the more successful display of fireworks at the same behest, the popping of some threescore pensioners in honour of some p. 133royal birthday, or the advent of some political election.  On each and all of such occasions, and many more, the filling up of the frame-work is a picture of life, of concentrated human power, will, and passion, full of effect; may be, it needs an adequate cause to give it full strength, but everywhere it is full of interest, and the good old city’s market-place would not be fairly chronicled were its monster meetings of sight-seers deemed unworthy a passing comment.  Pageantry has been numbered among the chartered rights of the citizens, from the days of “mysteries,” when the itinerant stage, with its sacred drama provided by the church, was the only theatre known, through the age of tournaments, the season of royal visits, Elizabethan processions, and triumphal arches, of guilds, of Georges and dragons, down to the last relic of the spirit of olden times—the chairing of its members; and not even the scant nourishment offered in this nineteenth century, has yet sufficed to starve and wither the seeds thus sown and fostered in the very nature of the people.

In a work that professes not to follow out the thread of history through all its variable windings, or note consecutively all the beads of truth that have been carved by the hand of time, and strung upon its surface, but only here and there to pause, as some gem more glittering than its fellows meets the eye, or some quaint rude relic of a day gone by p. 134lays claim to a passing curiosity, wonder, or pity, we feel at liberty to make a kaleidoscope sort of pattern of our gleanings and notes on the old market-place.  Interwoven with its progress, and associated with its memories, must be almost every historical reminiscence, peculiarly belonging to an important municipality, and thriving mart of commerce and manufactures; from the first simple gatherings in the outer court of the castle, to the days when trades and crafts, brought over by Norman intruders, and flourishing under the skilful tutelage of Flemish refugees, clustered together in groups around the old croft, the saddlers, the hosiers, the tanners, the mercers, the parmenters, the goldsmiths, the cutlers, each with their own row, to the time when staples were fixed, or right of wholesale dealing granted—when cloth halls witnessed the measuring and sealing by government inspectors of every manufactured piece of cloth, to ensure fairness of dealing between buyer and seller—when sumptuary laws regulated quantity, quality, and pattern of the dresses of all dutiful and loyal subjects—down through ages of fluctuating vicissitudes of prosperity and adversity—tremulous shakings—and reviving struggles against the tide of competition that has sunk the first and greatest manufacturing city our country once could boast, beneath the level of many a nurseling of yesterday, a mere mushroom in growth and age—from the era p. 135of ultra-carnivorous diet, when boars, peacocks, venison, and porpoise, were scattered in plentiful profusion on the boards of butchers’ stalls, and in the regions of “Puleteria,”—when the potato, brocoli, turnip, onion, and radish, were unknown—the tansy, the rampion, cow cabbage, and salsify, their only substitutes in the days when vegetarians were not;—when quinces, medlars, rude grapes, and mulberries, wild raspberries and strawberries, supplied the place of a modern dessert, with the valuable addenda of hazel, and walnuts, whose beautiful wood even then was prized as an article of manufacture for cups and bowls, under the name of masere—down to the scene of the present day, as it has been pictured already.

Manifold have been the fleeting shadows that have peopled its disc, now bright, now dark, its area now traversed by triumphal arches and gorgeous processions, now serving as a platform for a gallows, whereon a Roberts and a Barber suffered for their loyalty to his majesty, Charles the First; in one age witnessing the rise of an oratory in its very midst, and a chaplain to minister to spiritual cravings, in the heart of material abundance; the next echoing to the ruthless hammers of destructive zealots, sweeping from their path every stone or carving that bore trace of the finger of the “scarlet lady.”

But although a consecutive detail of its rise and progress may not be within the province of our pen, p. 136we may endeavour to trace a few of the leading features of its history since the era of its first rise into existence as a fishing hamlet, when the sea washed its shores, and the huts of a few fishermen, perhaps, were the only habitations scattered over its surface.  Here they dwelt, no doubt, in peaceful security, when the huge mound, topped with its towering castle, rose up in their midst, and their sovereigns fixed their dwelling-place within its strongholds, to be succeeded, after the departure of the Romans, by the feudal lords or earls of Danish and Saxon conquerors, in whose time the market-place was the magna crofta or great croft of the castle.  At the gates of the ancient castles the markets were continually set, following the precedent of the assemblage of booths that gathered round the gates of the Roman camps.  These, from being at first moveable stalls or shelters for goods, grew in after-years into towns, boroughs, and cities, many of them taking their names from the castles or camps, and were called chesters.  The country people were not allowed to carry provisions into Roman camps; at each gate was a strong guard, that suffered none to enter the camp without licence from the commanding officer: this guard consisted of one cohort, and one troop at least, from which sprung the modern term of court, or cohort, of guard.  The commanding officer of the guard at the gate had p. 137oversight of the market, punished such as sold by false weights and measures, brought bad provisions, or were guilty of any other offence in the market, and arbitrated in all cases of dispute.  The Saxons, those exterminating conquerors, who so liberally parcelled out their neighbours’ territory into the famous divisions of the Heptarchy, next figured upon the scene, and the castellans succeeded the officer of the guard in the duties of his office, in later times to be fulfilled by pie-powder courts and clerks of the market.  At this period, markets at the castle gates grew so important as to be composed of durable houses, as durable at least as wooden shambles were likely to be; and of such like constructions were the first outlines of the market-place composed, the fishmongers’ and butchers’ shops of the present day being the nearest similitudes that can be found to illustrate their features.

From this time the history of the market-place becomes identified with the progress of the borough, its struggles for growth being somewhat impeded, we fancy, by the tithes and taxes extorted by barons and bishops, between whom we may fancy the poor fisherfolks began to “fare rather sadly,” scarcely knowing what was their own, or if, indeed, they had any own at all.  To sum up their miseries, old chroniclers record that about this time the sea began to withdraw its arm, which to them had been a great support, p. 138and the fishermen, who were bound to pay an annual tithe of herrings to the bishops of the see, found themselves in much the same plight as the Israelites of old, when doomed to make bricks without straw—in their case to supply herrings without a fishery—and were therefore reduced to the unpleasant necessity of thenceforth purchasing the wherewith to pay the lasting imposition.  Notwithstanding all these impediments the progress of the borough was rapid; houses and churches sprung up thick and fast; so that at the time of the survey, in the reign of the “Confessor,” we find record of twenty-five parish churches, and one thousand three hundred burgesses; of sheep-walks, mills, and hides of land, (a hide being as much as one plough could till in a year,) of taxes, of honey, and bear dogs.

Churches were owned indiscriminately by bishops, earls, and burgesses; the materials of which they were constructed, chiefly wood, though occasionally rough flints and stones cemented by a durable mortar were substituted; the towers were circular, bricks were employed for pavements, and bells were used.  The ancients conceived the sound of metal to be an antidote against evil spirits; and the adoption of bells into the Christian church, and their consecration, was but a variation of the practices of the pagans, who at the feasts of Vulcan and Minerva, consecrated trumpets for religious uses.

p. 139Such was the condition of the town and market-place, when the Norman Conqueror, whose coming produced such mighty changes in the land, brought over from the continent a host of foreigners, who settled themselves down in almost every part of the kingdom, and introduced trades and crafts of every variety, giving birth to the great manufacturing spirit that has grown to be so distinguishing a feature of our national greatness.  Among the foreigners who established themselves in this district, we find the name of Wimer, a name yet prefixed to one of the great wards or districts of the city—the Wimer ward.  At this period, perhaps the most prominent characteristic of the secular history of the times, especially in connection with trade, is the important position held by the Jews.

The Norman duke had brought with him a great number of this race of people, and although their religion was despised and bitterly hated, they monopolized almost every branch of trade, and so much of the learning of the day, that they took a high place both in commercial and civil transactions.  In this city they successively had two extensive synagogues and colleges, where medicine and rabbinical divinity were taught together.

Pharmacy, education, and all monetary transactions of any importance, seem to have come within their province, their utility and wealth preserving them, p. 140for the time at least, from anything more than petty persecution.  The history, however, of little St. William, given elsewhere, and other similar records that have been handed down, betray the jealousy and ill-will that existed between them and the Christians, even during the season of their prosperity, when royalty, as in the time of Rufus, patronized them.

Meantime the city had become a bishopric; a monastery, three friaries, and a nunnery sprung up in quick succession, betraying the growth of ecclesiastical power, and the presence of a great rival to the secular authority claimed by the ministers of civil justice; itinerant judges had been established for trying great crimes, such as murder or theft, and coroners had been instituted to hold inquests upon any persons dying suddenly, or found dead; either to acquit them of self murder, or seize their goods; the citizens were also exempted from the judgment of the law by single combat by Richard I.  Among the events of interest bearing very early date is the royal visit of the first Henry, in the day when the king was his own tax-gatherer, and when, failing to receive his dues in lawful coin of the realm, he was wont to take them in kind, and to tarry until himself and suite had eaten up the hogs and sheep, and cows and geese, whose addition to his retinue would have been otherwise very burdensome.  So liberal p. 141was the entertainment afforded the royal visitor here, that his majesty was pleased to confer upon the citizens many privileges as a mark of gratitude, among which exemption from such like visitations in future was included.

The next visit of royalty is attributed to Edward the First, whose generosity was evidenced by the command issued speedily after his return thither, that the Jews throughout the kingdom should be charged with unlawfully clipping and adulterating the coin of the realm, as an excuse for their persecution, imprisonment, and final extermination.  The religious antipathies of the zealous crusader would not suffice to explain these atrocities; but the ambition of the warlike monarch seeking to replenish his exhausted treasury, that he might prosecute expensive foreign enterprises, gives a more satisfactory clue to the origin of cruelties, that led to such important confiscations being made to the crown.  In obedience to the royal will, the beautiful college of the Jews in this city was plundered and burnt, its coffers emptied into the royal exchequer, and its tenants banished or imprisoned.  An inn, called “Abraham’s Hall,” was soon after raised in the immediate neighbourhood, to memorialize the event; but an old ricketty gable or two, hidden away behind fair modern frontings of brickwork and stucco, is all that remains of this monument.  St. George in combat with the p. 142Dragon, now figures on the sign board affixed to the inn that occupies one portion of its site.

It is some credit to the ministers of justice in the city, that we find upon their records, traces of the efforts made to bring to punishment some of the actual perpetrators of the outrages in Jewry, albeit they could perhaps only be deemed instruments in the hands of higher powers.  Extracts from the “Coroners’ Rolls,” containing accounts of robberies and street frays in this reign and the preceding, prove this fact, and afford in addition curious evidence of the state of society at that period.  For the quaint and amusing details they give, we must render thanks to the learned and skilled in antiquarian lore, obsolete orthography, black letter type, &c., but, for whose assistance in rescuing them from obscurity, and interpreting their meaning, they must to us have remained veiled in an impenetrable incognita.

Amongst them is the record of an “inquisition made of the fire raised in Jewry,” and a “precept given to apprehend all the felons concerned.”  Another is so graphic, that we feel able to see the whole picture it gives at a glance—the widow sitting beside the bier of her husband, the sanctity of her sorrow invaded by brute violence, the house pillaged, and the corpse plundered and burnt in the agonised wife’s presence.  The words of the roll say, “Katharina, the wife of Stephen Justice, accused p. 143Ralph, son of Robert Andrew, the gaoler, William Kirby Gaunter, William Crede, Walter de Hereham, John, servant of Nicholas de Ingham, and Nicholas sometime servant of Nicholas de Sopham, and Nicholas de Gayver, that when she was at peace with God and the king, in the house of Stephen Justice her husband, and the Thursday night after the feast of King Edmund, in the forty-eighth year of the reign of King Henry, the son of King John (1263), they came in the town of Norwich, in Fybriggate, St. Clement’s, and broke the oaken gates, and the hooks and the hinges of iron, with hatchets, bars, wedges, swords, knives, and maces, and flung them down into the court, and feloniously entered; that they then broke the pine wood doors of the hall, and the hinges and iron work of them, and the chains, bolts, and oaken boards of the windows.  Afterwards they entered the door of the hall chamber towards the south, and robbed that chamber of two swords, value 3s. 6d., one ivory handled anlace, value 12d., one iron head piece, value 10d., an iron staff, value 4d.; one cow leather quirre (cuirass) with iron plates, value half a mark; and one wambeis (a body garment stuffed with cotton, wool, or tow), and coming thence into the hall, they burnt the body of her husband, as it there lay upon a bier, together with a blanket of ‘reins,’ value 3s.; and took away with them a linen cloth, value 18d.  The said Katharina p. 144immediately raised hue and cry, from street to street, from parish to parish, and from house to house, until she came into the presence of the bailiffs and coroners.  They also stole a lined cloth of the value of 5s., and one hood of Pers (Persian) with squirrel’s fur, value 10s.

A writer in the Archæological Journal describes the houses of this period as possessing only a ground floor, of which the principal apartment was the aire, aitre, or hall, into which the principal door opened, and which was the room for cooking, eating, receiving visitors, and the other ordinary uses of domestic life.  Adjacent to this, was the chamber which was by day the private apartment and resort of the female portion of the household, and by night the bed room.  Strangers and visitors generally slept in the hall, beds being made for them on the floor.  A stable was frequently adjacent to the hall, probably on the side opposite to the chamber or bed-room.

Another memorandum on the rolls, records the deaths of Henry Turnecurt and Stephen de Walsham, who “were killed in the parish of St. George, before the gate of the Holy Trinity, St. Philip and James’ day, in the same year.  The coroners and bailiffs went and made inquisition.  Inquisition then made was set forth in a certain schedule.  Afterwards came master Marc de Bunhale, clerk, and Ralph Knict, with many others, threatening the p. 145coroners to cut them to pieces, unless the schedule was given up, and then they took Roger the coroner, and by force led him to his own house, with swords and axes, until the said Roger took the schedule from his chest; and then they took him with the schedule to St. Peter of Mancroft church, and there the aforesaid Ralph tore away the schedule from the hands of Roger, and bore it away, and before his companions, in the manner of fools, cut it into small pieces; and with much ado, Roger the coroner escaped from their hands in great fear and tremor.  The coroners say they cannot make inquisition, by reason of the imminence of the war.”  The disturbances alluded to were the dissensions going on between the king and barons.

Another describes an attack of four men, one of them a priest, upon one man in his shop in the market, where he was killed.  Among many other similar accounts of these troubled times, stands the description of various felons, who sheltered themselves within the walls of the sanctuary, a privilege permitted from the time of Alfred, whose laws granted protection for three days and nights to any within the walls of a church; William the Conqueror confirmed and extended the privilege.  In the times of feudal tyranny, this refuge was oftentimes of considerable advantage to innocent persons falsely accused, but as frequently was the shelter of crime.

p. 146In a case quoted from this authority, the felon professes to have sought refuge from punishment awaiting robberies, of which he acknowledges himself guilty.  Upon the church of St. Gregory there yet remains a curious escutcheon, a part of the knocker, always then placed upon the door of a church, for the purpose of aiding those who sought refuge in sanctuary.  A curious account of the ceremony of abjuration of the realm by one who had taken refuge in Durham Cathedral, is given in the York volume of the Archæological Institute.

“A man from Wolsingham is committed to prison for theft.  He escapes, and seeks refuge in the Cathedral.  He takes his stand before the shrine of St. Cuthbert, and begs for a coroner.  John Rachet, the coroner of Chester ward, goes to him, and hears his confession.  The culprit, in the presence of the sacrist, sheriff, under-sheriff, and others, by a solemn oath renounces the kingdom.  He then strips himself to his shirt, and gives up his clothing to the sacrist as his fee.  The sacrist restores the clothing—a white cross of wood is put into his hand, and he is consigned to the under-sheriff, who commits him to the care of the nearest constable, who hands him over to the next, and he to the next, in the direction of the coast.  The last constable puts him into a ship, and he bids an eternal farewell to his country.”

p. 147There were usually chambers over the porches of churches, in which two men slept, for the purpose of being ready at all hours to admit applicants.  In proof of the expense attending the maintaining of persons in the sanctuary, it is said that “in 1491, the burgesses in parliament acquainted the assembly that they had been at great expense in getting an ordinance of parliament to authorize them in a quiet way to take one John Estgate out of sanctuary, the said John having entered the churchyard of St. Simon and St. Jude, and there remained for a long time past, during which time, the city being compelled to keep watch on him day and night, lest he should escape, was at great charge and trouble.  The ordinance being passed, John Pynchamour, one of the burgessess, went to the sanctuary and asked John Estgate whether he would come out and submit to the law, or no; and upon his answering he ‘would not,’ he in a quiet manner went to him, led him to the Guildhall, and committed him to prison.”

Another entry of an event that transpired during the troubled reign of Henry III., bears reference to the memorable disputes between the citizens and the monks of the priory, of which the Ethelbert gateway, leading into the Cathedral Close, is a monument; the citizens having had the penance of erecting it, imposed upon them for their destructive attacks upon the monastery, a great portion of which, p. 148including parts of the cathedral, they pillaged and burnt.  The record states that “one John Casmus was found slain on the Tuesday next after the feast of St. Laurence, by William de Brunham, prior of Norwich, at the gates of St. Trinity, on the eastern side; the said prior having struck him with a certain ‘fanchone’ on the head, from which blow he instantly died.  The coroners are afraid to make inquisition, for fear of a felonious assault; a result rendered very probable by the known temper of the prior, who, by his violent conduct, is said to have contributed materially to the unhappy disturbances.”

Long-cherished bitterness and jealousies respecting their several limits of jurisdiction, had found occasion for outbreak the preceding week to that mentioned in the record, at the annual fair, held on Trinity Sunday, before the gates of the cathedral, on the ground known as Tombland, from having anciently been a burial place.  The servants of the monastery, and the citizens, had come into collision at some games that were going on upon the Tuesday, and a violent conflict ensued, which lasted for a considerable time.  The writers of the time are divided as to the blameable parties; the monks being accused of aiding and abetting their servants in doing wrong, and vexing the people; the citizens, in their turn, being condemned for transgressing the recognized laws which existed concerning the boundaries of the prior’s jurisdiction.

p. 149The animosities never fairly could be said to have ceased until the general destruction of all monastic power at the period of the Reformation.

One more curious extract we will make from these coroner’s rolls, remarkable as being one of the very few authentic accounts to be met with of a person being restored to life after execution.

“Walter Eye was condemned in the court of Norwich, and hung, and appeared dead, but was afterwards discovered to be alive by William, the son of Thomas Stannard; and the said Walter was carried in a coffin to the church of St. George’s, before the gate of St. Trinity, where he recovered in fifteen days, and then fled from that church to the church of the Holy Trinity, and there was, until the king upon his suit pardoned him.”

It was formerly a prevalent idea that felons could only be suspended for a certain time, but this was not really the case; so far from it, Hale’s “Pleas of the Crown” asserts, “that, in case a man condemned to die, come to life after he is hanged, as the judgment is not executed till he is dead, he ought to be hung up again.”

Another anecdote, extracted from the books of the corporation, bearing a more recent date, possesses a double interest, from being connected with a memorable disturbance, dignified in local history by the title of Gladman’s Insurrection, and also from the p. 150name and rank of the lady concerned, who was grand-daughter to Chaucer, the poet, and wife of William de la Pole, who succeeded to the earldom of Suffolk upon the death of his brother Michael, a.d. 1415, the second year of the reign of King Henry V.

The only liberty we shall take with the original account is to slightly abridge it, and render it in modern orthography.

Item.  It was so, that Alice, Duchess, that time Countess of Suffolk, lately in person came to this city, disguised like a country house-wife.  Sir Thomas Tuddenham, and two other persons, went with her, also disguised; and they, to take their disports, went out of the city one evening, near night, so disguised, towards a hovel called Lakenham Wood, to take the air, and disport themselves, beholding the said city.  One Thomas Ailmer, of Norwich, esteeming in his conceit that the said duchess and Sir Thomas had been other persons, met them, and opposed their going out in that wise, and fell at variance with the said Sir Thomas, so that they fought; whereby the said duchess was sore afraid; by cause whereof the said duchess and Sir Thomas took a displeasure against the city, notwithstanding that the mayor of the city at that time being, arrested Thomas Ailmer, and held him in prison more than thirty weeks without bail; to the intent thereby both to chastise Ailmer, and to appease p. 151the displeasure of the said duchess and Sir Thomas; and also the said mayor arrested and imprisoned all other persons which the said duchess and Sir Thomas could understand had in any way given favour or comfort to the said Ailmer, in making the affray.  Notwithstanding which punishment, the displeasure of the duchess and Sir Thomas was not appeased.  And it is so, moreover, that one John Haydon, late was recorder of the city, taking of the mayor and citizens a reasonable fee, as the recorder is accustomed; he, being so recorded, had interlaced himself with the prior of Norwich, at that time being in travers with the said mayor and commonality, and discovered the privity of the evidence of the said city to the said prior, because whereof the mayor and commons of the said city discharged the said Haydon of the condition of recorder; for which Haydon took a displeasure against the said city.

By malice of these displeasures of the said duchess, Sir Thomas Tuddenham, and John Haydon, the Duke of Suffolk, then earl, in his person, upon many suggestions by the said Tuddenham and Haydon to him made, that the mayor, aldermen, and commonality aforesaid, should have misgoverned the city, laboured and made to be taken out of the chancery a commission of over determiner.  And thereupon, at a sessions holden at Thetford, the Thursday next after the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle, the said p. 152Sir Thomas and John Haydon, finding in their conceit no manner or matter of truth whereof they might cause the said mayor and commonality there to be indicted, imagined thus as ensueth: first, they sperde an inquest, then taken in a chamber, at one Spilmer’s house; in which chamber the said T. lodged, and so kept them sperde.

“And it was so, that one John Gladman, of Norwich, which was then, and at this hour, is a man of ‘sad’ dispositions, and true and faithful to God and to the king, of disport, as is and hath been accustomed in any city or borough through all this realm, on fasting Tuesday made a disport with his neighbours, having his horse trapped with tinsel, and otherwise disguising things, crowned as King of Christmas, in token that all mirth should end with the twelve months of the year; afore him went each month, disguised after the season thereof; and Lent clad in white, with red-herring’s skins, and his horse trapped with oyster shells after him, in token that sadness and abstinence of mirth should follow, and an holy time; and so rode in divers streets of the city, with other people with him disguised, making mirth, and disport, and plays.

“The said Sir Thomas and John Haydon, among many other full strange and untrue presentments, made by perjury at the said inquest, caused the said mayor and commonality, and the said John p. 153Gladman, to be indicted of that, that they should have imagined to have made a common rising, and have crowned the said John Gladman as king, with crown, sceptre and diadem, (when they never meant it), nor such a thing imagined, as in the said presentiment it showeth more plain, and by that presentiment, with many other horrible articles therein comprised, so made by perjury, thay caused the franchise of the said city to be seized into the king’s hands, to the harm and cost of the said mayor and commonality.”

And now we take a long stride from the reign of Henry V. to that of Charles II., omitting the intermediate century that was marked by the royal visit of the maiden queen, chronicled at length among the “pageantries;” and passing over the troubled era of the Commonwealth, the Reformation, and “Kett’s rebellion,” all of which have found a place for notice elsewhere, we find ourselves once more in the smooth waters of peace, with the tide of prosperity at the full within the walls of the old city; and we ask no pardon for making copious extracts from the journal that furnished Macaulay with materials to serve up the rich banquet that lies condensed in the few lines devoted to this period of the city’s history, in his unrivalled work.  The diary of Dr. Edward Browne gives a picture of the society and habits of p. 154the citizens in his time, perhaps not to be met with elsewhere.  His father, Sir Thomas Browne, then tenanted the house now known by the title of the “Star,” and in the winter of 1663–4 was visited by his son Edward, who, during his stay, made the entries in his journal which we have extracted.  At that time, Henry, afterwards Lord Howard, of Castle Rising, subsequently Earl of Norwich, and Marshal of England, resided in the city, at the palace of his brother, Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, who was an invalid, on the continent, suffering from disease of the brain.

“Jan. 1st. (1663–4.)  I was at Mr. Howard’s, brother to the Duke of Norfolk, who kept his Christmas this year at the Duke’s palace in Norwich, so magnificently that the like hath scarce been seen.  They had dancing every night, and gave entertainments to all that would come; hee built up a room on purpose to dance in, very large, and hung with the bravest hangings I ever saw; his candlesticks, snuffers, tongues, fire-shovel, and and-irons, were silver; a banquet was given every night after dancing; and three coaches were employed every afternoon to fetch ladies, the greatest of which would holde fourteen persons, and coste five hundred pounde, without the harnesse, which cost six score more; I have seen of his pictures, which are admirable; he hath prints and draughts, done by most of the great masters’ p. 155own hands.  Stones and jewels, as onyxes, sardonyxes, jacinths, jaspers, amethysts, &c. more and better than any prince in Europe.  Ringes and seales, all manner of stones, and limnings beyond compare.  These things were most of them collected by the old Earl of Arundel (the Duke’s grandfather).

“This Mr. Howard hath lately bought a piece of ground of Mr. Mingay, in Norwich, by the waterside in Cunisford, which hee intends for a place of walking and recreation, having made already walkes round and across it, forty feet in breadth; if the quadrangle left be spacious enough, he intends the first of them for a bowling-green, the third for a wildernesse, and the fourth for a garden.  These and the like noble things he performeth, and yet hath paid 100,000 pounds of his ancestors’ debts.

“Jan. 6th.  I dined at my Aunt Bendish’s, and made an end of Christmas at the Duke’s palace, with dancing at night and a great banquet.  His gates were opened, and such a number flocked in, that all the beer they could set out in the streets could not divert the stream of the multitude.

“Jan. 7th.  I opened a dog.

“Jan. 9th.  Mr. Osborne sent my father a calf, whereof I observed the knee joint, and the neat articulation of the put-bone, which was here very perfect.

“This day Monsieur Buttet, who plays most admirably p. 156on the flageolet, bagpipe, and sea-trumpet, a long three-square instrument, having but one string, came to see me.

“Jan. 11th.  This day, being Mr. Henry Howard’s birthday, we danced at Mr. Howard’s, till 2 of the clock in the morning.

“Jan. 12th.  Cutting up a turkey’s heart.  A monkey hath 36 teeth: 23 molares, 4 canini, and 8 incisores.

“Jan. 13th.  This day I met Mr. Howard at my Uncle Bendish’s, where he taught me to play at l’hombre, a Spanish game at cards.

“Jan. 21st.  I shewed Dr. De Veau about the town; I supped with him at the Duke’s palace, where he shewed a powder against agues, which was to be given in white wine, to the quantity of three grains.  He related to me many things of the Duke of Norfolk, that lives at Padua, non compos mentis, and of his travailes in France and Italy.

“Jan. 23rd.  Don Francisco de Melo came from London, with Mr. Philip Howard (third grandson of the Earl of Arundel), to visit his honour, Mr. Henry Howard.  I met them at Mr. Deyes the next day, in Madam Windham’s chamber.

“I boyled the right fore-foot of a monkey, and took out all the bones, which I keep by me.  In a put-bone, the unfortunate casts are outward, the fortunate inward.

p. 157“Jan. 26th.  I saw a little child in an ague, upon which Dr. De Veau was to try his febrifuge powder; but the ague being but moderate, and in the declension, it was thought too mean a disease to try the efficacy of his extolled powder.

“Feb. 2nd.  I saw cock-fighting at the White Horse, in St. Stephen’s.

“Feb. 5th.  I went to see a serpent, that a woman, living in St. Gregory’s church-yard, vomited up, but she had burnt it before I came.

“Feb. 16th.  I went to visit Mr. Edward Ward, an old man in a fever, where Mrs. Anne Ward gave me my first fee, 10s.

“Feb. 22nd.  I set forward for my journey to London.”

This quaint admixture of scientific research, pleasure-seeking, and superstitious credulity, blended with intellectual enquiry, affords a curious picture of the domestic and professional habits of a physician of the seventeenth century.  The father of the writer, the eminent Dr. Thomas Browne, received the order of knighthood from his majesty, King Charles II., on the occasion of his visiting the city in 1671, when he dined in state at the New Hall (St. Andrew’s); the same honour was pressed upon the acceptance of the mayor, who, however, ventured to decline the proffered dignity.  In the reign of James II., we find record of Henry, then Duke of Norfolk, riding p. 158into the market-place at the head of 300 knights, to declare a free parliament, the mayor and sheriffs meeting him there, and consenting to the act.  But the glory of the palace, once the scene of such regal splendour and magnificence, was not of long duration.  A dispute between the grandson of the Duke Henry and the mayor of the city, concerning the entrance of some comedians into the city, playing their trumpets, &c. on the way to the palace, caused its owner, Thomas, then Duke, to destroy the greater portion of it, and leave the remainder untenanted; and among divers transmutations of property that characterized the era of Queen Anne, we find the appropriation of its vestiges to the purpose of a workhouse, when those institutions first sprang into existence—a fate shared at the same period by the cloisters of the old Black Friars monastery.

The river, that once reflected the gorgeous displays of wealth that glittered upon the margin of its waters, in the palace of the Dukes, now flows darkly and silently on, through crowded thoroughfares and gloomy wharfs, and staiths; corn and coal depots, red brick factories, with their tiers of low window-ranges and tall chimneys, have usurped the place of banquetting halls and palace gardens; a toll bridge adds silence to the gloom, by its prohibitory tax on passers-by, a stillness, oppressive by its sudden contrast to the activity of neighbouring thoroughfares, p. 159pervades the whole region round about; and the spot that once was the nucleus of wealth, riches, and grandeur, now seems the very seat and throne of melancholy.

Coeval with the rise of workhouses, in the reign of Anne, is another event of local history—the introduction of street-lighting.  An act of parliament of William III., confirmed in the 10th of Anne, enacted “that every householder charged with 2d. a week to the poor, whose dwelling-house adjoined any streets, market-places, public lanes, or passages in the city, should every night, yearly, from Michaelmas to Lady-day, as it should grow dark, hang out, on the outside of their houses, a candle, or visible and convenient lights, and continue the same until eleven o’clock at night, for enlightening the streets, and convenience of passengers, under penalty of 2s. for every neglect.”  Lamps, at the cost of the community in general, were soon afterwards substituted, but their shape, and distance from each other, would seem to have rendered them but indifferent substitutes for the illuminations that preceded them; and if memory is faithful to us, in recalling the progenitors of the gas-lights of the present day, we may form some slight conception of the pigmy race of ancestors from which they sprung.

Meantime, during these years of progress and prosperity, while Time was tracing its finger-marks p. 160upon the walls of men’s houses, and writing its lessons on their hearts and minds, there stood, in the centre of the old market-place, a little silent symbol of the religious feeling of the passing ages,—the market-cross, and oratory within the little octagonal structure, whose external corners bore upon all of them the emblem of hope and salvation—the crucifix.  In its earliest days, its oratory was tenanted by a priest, supported by the alms of the busy market-folks, who could find means, in the midst of all their worldly callings, to pay some tribute in time and money to religion.  And was it such a very foolish practice of our ignorant old forefathers, thus to bring the sanctuary into the very midst of the business of life?—was it a great proof of childish simplicity, to seek to sanctify the scenes of merchandize by the presence and teaching of Christianity?  Is it indeed needful that the elements of our nature, spirit, soul, and body, should be rent asunder, and fed and nurtured in distinct and separate schools, until each one of us becomes almost conscious of two separate existences—the Sabbath-day life, within the church or meeting walls, and the week-day business life abroad in the world?  Or shall the union be pronounced more beautiful and consonant with the laws of harmony, that carries the world into the sanctuary, and desecrates the house of God by the presence of sordid passions, crusted round the heart by daily exercise p. 161in the great marts of commerce, or in the intercourse of political or even social life, that not the one day’s rest in seven, spent in listening to some favourite theologian’s intellectual teachings of doctrinal truths, or controversial dogmas, can suffice to rub off, to purify, or make clean?  A market-cross and priest may not be the remedies for this disease of later times, but they were outer symbols of the reality needed—Christianity, to be carried out into the every-day actions of the world, mingling with the dealings of man with man, master and workman, capitalist and consumer,—that there may no longer exist those monstrous anomalies that are to be met with in almost every phase of society in this Christian land, among a people professing to be guided by the light of “Truth,” to walk according to the law of “Charity,” and to obey the precept, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.”

But the busy hands of zealous reformers long since began their work upon this little outward expression of “superstition;” the priest disappeared, the crucifixes fell beneath the murmurs of “true Protestants,” and the oratory was transferred to the “masters, and searchers, and sellers of leather;” but, in process of time, falling to decay, the little monument was pulled down, and all traces of its existence obliterated from the scene of its former dominion.

And now a word upon manufactures.  The great p. 162parent of English looms, and English weavers of wool, claims it; the city, that has for centuries robed the priesthood of Christendom in its camlets; that has invented crapes, and bombazines, and paramattas, to clothe one-half of the world in the sable “livery of woe;” that has draped the fair daughters of every clime in the graceful folds of its far-famed “filover;” that has in later years shod the feet of no small proportion of the nation’s population; whose every court and alley echoes the throw of the shuttle and rattle of the loom; whose every cellar and hovel has its winding frame for childhood and old age to earn their mite upon; whose garrets pour forth their pale sickly wool-combers, with faces blanched by the fumes of charcoal; that has its districts of “cord-wainers,” and colonies of “binders;” its hidden timber-yards, where thousands of square feet are rapidly being transformed into “vestas” and “lucifers,” and “silent lights;” and its tall factories, whose heaped-up stories send down their streams of human working bees, from the cells of their monster queen, the steam-engine, and the task of making produce to supply the rich man’s wants—has, we say, a claim upon us in her character of a manufacturing place.  The venerable city, once the summit of the pyramid of our nation’s commercial glory, stands no longer in isolated grandeur, the mistress of trade, but for long has had to look up at a vast mass of capital and p. 163labour, accumulated above her head by the energies and activities of younger rivals.  India has gorged with its raw material the markets once fed with the wool of home-grown sheep, and cotton towns have risen up and outgrown the old woollen mart of the country.  Fashion and its fluctuations, machinery and its progressions, iron and coal in their partial distribution, have each and all helped to lay the head of the mighty low; but there is strong vitality left within her—powerful talents and great resources; she is even now rising from the lethargy that had crept over her.  Would our space permit, how fain would we trace the workings yet going on in her midst: the progress of the shearer’s wool from the wool-sack to the rich brocaded cashmere; through its “combing” with irons heated over charcoal furnaces, that poison the atmosphere around, and shorten the lives of the operatives engaged in it, forsooth, because the foreman of the manufactory has a perquisite of selling charcoal,—thence to the huge factory with giant engines, and labyrinths of spinning-wheels; away, again, to the spider-looking winding-frame, that children and old women may turn to help to fill the shuttles of the abler workers at the loom; thence to the dyers, and then to the loom itself, where manhood, youth, and woman’s feebler strength alike find exercise and room for labour.  How many histories have been woven into the p. 164fabric—what tears or smiles have cast their light or shade upon the tints,—what notes of harmony or love, or wailings of sorrow and sickness have echoed the shuttle’s throw,—how many tales of stern heart griefs, pining wants, wasting penury, or disease, are wrapped in the luxurious folds that minister to the comfort and enjoyment of the unconscious wearer.

But we dare not tarry amid these scenes, richly fraught as they may be with subject for graphic sketching; we may not pause to visit the great gatherings in factory chambers, or linger amongst the home labours of the industrious artisan; can barely hint at traits of heroism, lives of gentle loving duty going on amid the rattling noise of looms that trench upon the narrow limits of the sick bed; deeds of good Samaritanism that grace the weary weaver’s home, or dwell upon the Christian lessons they have power to teach.  If the anatomy of a manufacturing city does revolt the senses and sensibilities in the pictures of suffering and poverty it seldom fails to abound with, there is yet much beauty in the deep, earnest, truthful poetry to be read in the page it lays open.  Mary Barton is no fiction; scarce a district in a manufacturing province that could not furnish a heroine like her; nor need we, perhaps, look to the other side of the Atlantic, to find the prototype of “Uncle Tom.”

There is little doubt that woollen manufactures of p. 165some kind existed in this neighbourhood from a very early period.  Sheep were here in great abundance, and as soon as there were ships to send them in, were exported to other countries from these parts.  Doomsday Book mentions numerous “sheep-walks,” covering many acres of ground; whether these “walks” comprised such lands as we now term “meadows or pastures,” is not explained, but most probably such is the interpretation to be put upon the term, and not, as at first sight might seem to be implied, that the sheep had narrow strips of “esplanade,” or promenade, all to themselves, upon which they marched up and down in regimental order.  About these same sheep it has been said, in these our times, that there exists strong presumptive evidence that the fine Spanish “merino” is a lineal descendant of the family, and that the wool now imported as of foreign extraction, is literally and truly the growth of the offspring of respectable English forefathers, some members of whose domestic circle were honoured by being made presents of to Spanish princes by the sovereign of England, in the days when the office and title of shepherd was coveted by nobles in that country.  The hypothesis we pretend not to establish, so “revenons à nos moutons.”

The preparing of wool was a favourite occupation of the British ladies of rank; and soon after the settlement of the Romans, it is recorded by Dionysius p. 166Alexandrinus, that “the wool of Britain was often spun so fine, that it was in a manner comparable to a spider’s thread.”  The mother of Alfred is described as being skilled in the spinning of wool, and busied in training her daughters to similar occupations.  The advent of the various workmen who followed in the train of the conqueror from Normandy, caused fresh energy to be infused into this, as all other branches of manufactures; but the main stimulus was given by a colony of Dutch, who, driven from their own country by inundations in the reign of Henry the First, crossed the channel, and selecting the convenient promontory of Norfolk, settled themselves down at a little village called Worsted, about thirteen miles from Norwich, whence the name of the wool first spun there by them.

In the reign of Stephen the woollen manufactures were so flourishing in many large towns, that the merchants petitioned for power to form themselves into distinct guilds or corporations,—the earliest development of the principle of joint stock companies, borrowed by the Normans from the free cities of Italy, where trade and manufactures had long flourished, and where this combination of mercantile influence had been employed by the Roman monarchs as a check upon the feudal power of the barons.  The inconvenience, however, that attended the monopolies that sprung from this source were soon manifest; p. 167and disturbances were continually arising, until free trade was in a measure restored.  The sumptuary laws of Edward the Third, and the inducements held out by him to foreigners to settle in his dominions,—the fixing of the staples, that obliged all merchants to bring their wool and woollen cloths for sale to Norwich, forbidding any to offer such articles in any other part of Norfolk or Suffolk,—tended materially to the commercial prosperity of the city; but in the reign of Richard the Second, discontent spread itself throughout the working population of the kingdom, and the insurrection of Wat Tyler was followed by an open rebellion in Suffolk, when 80,000 men marched upon Norwich, and committed divers acts of devastation and plunder, headed by John Litester, a dyer.  This, united to the jealousies that existed between the native and foreign artisans, caused a decline in the local manufactures for some time.  In Elizabeth’s reign they revived, through the invitation given to the Dutch and Walloons, then fleeing from the persecutions of the Duke of Alva.  By the advice of the Duke of Norfolk, thirty of these, all experienced workmen, were invited to attend in Norwich, each bringing with him ten servants, to be maintained at the expense of the duke.  These speedily multiplied, until their number exceeded five thousand.  No matter of surprise, therefore, is it that the Old City retains so many quaint traces of p. 168Flemish taste and Flemish architecture, or that strangers, one and all, should be struck with the peculiarly foreign outline of its quaint old market-place.  Soon after the settlement of these strangers in the neighbourhood, new articles of manufacture were introduced; in addition to the “worsteds,” “saies,” and “stamins,” hitherto the sole articles of commerce, and the admixture of mohair and silk with the wool, produced a total change in the quality of the goods.  Bombazine, that staple “mourning garb,” was the first result of the experiments made in silk and wool combined.  The ladies of Spain were thenceforth supplied with the material for that indispensable article of their costume, the mantilla.  Camlets, too, were woven for the religious orders of priests and monks, as also calimancoes, tabinets, brocaded satins, florettes, and damasks, of which the legends of our grandmothers, and occasionally their wardrobes, bear trace; crape, the celebrated Norwich crape, now almost a forgotten fabric, was of later invention; but its fame is chronicled in Ministerial mandates during Walpole’s administration, 1721, when court mourning was ordered to consist of nothing but that pre-eminent material.  Long since, the paramatta cloth has superseded both bombazine and Norwich crape; nor must we be unmindful that this superfine invention owes its origin to the skill and ingenuity of a manufacturer of the p. 169same city.  Shawls of every variety have held a prominent place among the manufactures; indeed, may be considered as nominally the staple produce of the Norwich looms, though in reality such is not the fact, an infinite variety of materials, bearing as many new and fashionable titles, being in truth the result of the labour of its artisans, silk—satins, brocades, alpaccas, barèges, and many more; and of late years the shoe manufactory has so vastly increased, that it may fairly take a place henceforth among the constituents of the “fame” of the capital of Norfolk.  It may not be out of place here also to give some little sketch of the rise and progress of that most important of all inventions and arts, printing, in these particular parts,—more especially as William Caxton, the first English printer, was one of the agents, and a principal one, in opening the commerce between this country and Flanders in 1464, when that port was appointed a staple for English goods as well as Calais, a measure fraught with immense advantages to the manufacturing districts of the country, and of course pre-eminently to this city.  When he, the mercer’s apprentice, first stamped the “merchants’ mark” upon his master’s bales, he little thought that by this same process of stamping, carried forward by the ingenuity of many men into a new art, the whole aspect of the world’s history would be changed.  p. 170The origin of these distinctive “marks,” still to be seen engraved on brasses, painted in church windows, and here and there carved on the doors and panels of old houses, is about as obscure as most of the other customs of those ages.  They were undoubtedly used to distinguish the property of one merchant from another; and if their owners gave money towards the building or restoration of churches, their marks were placed in the windows, in honour of their liberality.  Similar marks are to this day used by some of the merchants of Oporto and Lisbon, stamped upon their pipes of wine.  Their forms seemed to depend on fancy, but a certain geometrical precision pervaded all; sometimes they were composed of a circle with a cross, or a shield with crosses laid over each other, of angles of every possible direction grouped into a figure, now and then the figure of a bird or animal added, but each differing essentially from every other, that it may retain its distinctive characteristics.  Printing, however, though introduced into this country by Caxton, was for some centuries seldom, if ever, practised, save in London and the two universities.  To the Dutch and Walloons, who came over at the invitation of Elizabeth, is ascribed its first introduction in this city.  In 1568, a Dutch metrical version of the Psalms was issued from the press.  No great progress, however, would seem to have been made during the next century, but in 1736 was printed p. 171anonymously the “Records of Norwich,” containing the monuments of the cathedral, the bishops, the plagues, friars, martyrs, hospitals, &c., in two parts, price three halfpence each; and in 1738, an “Authentic History of the Ancient City of Norwich, from its Foundation to its Present State, &c. (the like not extant), by Thomas Eldridge, T.C.N., printed for the author in St. Gregory’s ch. yd., where may be had neat Jamaica rum, fine brandy, Geneva and cordial waters, all sorts of superfine snuffs and tobaccos at the lowest price!!!”  This work, the author presumes, from its bulk (thirty-two pages), to be the “completest work ever yet published.”  Alas for the literature of the day!  From this period, however, Norwich kept pace with other places; a newspaper had been established even earlier, a quarto foolscap, at a penny a number.  Among the advertisements from this “Gazette” bearing date July 16, 1709, are these—

“This is to give notice to all persons in the city, that right over against the three Feathers in St. Peter’s of Hungate, there is one lately come from London, who teacheth all sorts of Pastry and Cookery, all sorts of jellies, creams, and pickles, also all sorts of Collering and Potting, and to make rich cakes of all sorts, and everything of that nature.  She teaches for a crown down, and a crown when they are fully learned, that her teaching so cheap may encourage very many to learn.”

June 5, 1708.

“Mr. Augustine de Clere, of Norwich Thorpe, have now p. 172very good malt for retail as he formerly had; if any of his customers have a mind to take of him again, they shall be kindly used with good malt, and as cheap as any body sell.—You may leave your orders with Mr. John de Clere, Hot-presser, living right over the Ducking stool, in St. Martin’s of the palace of Norwich.”

Among the Queries from Correspondents occur the following—

Norwich Gazette, April 9, 1709.

“Mr. Crossgrove,

You are desired to give an answer to this question, ‘Did the soul pre-exist in a separate state, before it came into the body, as many learned men have thought it did; and as that question in the ninth chapter of St. John’s gospel seems to insinuate.  Your answer to this query will very much oblige your constant customer, T. R.”

This query is replied to at some length satisfactorily by Mr. Crossgrove.

This department of the paper is headed “The Accurate Intelligencer,” and in its columns are sundry other rather peculiar interrogatories, such as—

“Mr. Crossgrove,

Pray tell me where Moses was buried, and you will very much oblige your constant customer, B. S.”


“Mr. B. S.

He tells you himself that no man knew it, even when he could not have been long buried; as you may see in the last chapter of Deuteronomy; from whence, Sir, you may infer, that if it was a secret so early, ’tis certainly so still.  Your humble servant, H. C.”

p. 173Another rich specimen runs—

Lynn, May 18, 1709.

“Mr. Crossgrove,

Did the Apostles use notes when they preached?  I have sent this Query twice before, and if I do not find it answered in your next paper, I shall conclude you either cannot or durst not answer it.

Yours unknown, &c.”



I have a bushel of letters by me that came all to the same tune with this of yours, viz. You cannot or durst not answer it; but sometimes they see I dare do it, tho’ I neglect other letters more pertinent through want of room: I have a dozen letters come in a week, all post haste for an answer, and seldom room to insert more than one at a time, so that many must of necessity lye by.  But now for your dreadful puzzling question, Did the Apostles use notes? and to this I answer positively No, nor Bibles neither to hide their notes in; take notice of that; nor had they pulpits to stand in as ever I heard of, and we may observe from their sermons they took no texts: and what then?  What would you infer from all this?  The Apostles also never studied their sermons, for they had an extraordinary gift of preaching, as well as of speaking.  But I shall say no more to your designing question than this—That those divines who read their sermons know how to improve their time much better than in getting them like schoolboys by heart; and that a good polite discourse well read, is more worthy than a Bundle of what comes uppermost tumbled out Head and Heels.

Yours, H. C.”

Well done, Mr. Crossgrove! say we.

In 1714, a “Courant” was established, small folio size: at the end of one occurs this notice—

p. 174“Note.  An Accident happening, the reader is desired to pardon all literal errors, as it is not corrected.”

Papers of somewhat later date afford samples almost as quaint:—Advertisement.  “James Hardy acquaints his friends, that he has lately had a large quantity of preserves.  I shall be very happy to supply any gentleman with coals.”  “Notice is hereby given that on Thursday and Friday next, being sixth and seventh of June, 1734, a coach and horses will set out for London, from Mr. Thomas Bateman’s, St. Giles, and perform the same in three days.  Note, the coach will go either by Newmarket or Ipswich, as the passengers shall agree.”  They certainly had one advantage over railway travellers of the present day—that they could choose their own route.

Another specimen runs—“Whereas Mrs. Cooke at the pastry shop near the three steps has charged Mrs. Havers with embezzling to the quantity of two yards of padashway, out of her suit of clothes turned upside down two years since, and made at first for a much less person; the clothes having been viewed by several mantua makers, the same appears to be a most malicious slander,” &c.

Specimens might be multiplied, but these may suffice to place beside the elaborate and ornate productions of this present year 1853, to see what a century has done in orthography, etymology, syntax, and prosody.

p. 175It must have been rather more than twenty years after the first establishment of a local newspaper, that the Rev. Francis Blomefield, the great historian of the county, first commenced printing his elaborate “Topographical Essay,” a work of five volumes folio, the materials for which he is said to have begun to collect when only fifteen years of age.  Many beyond the limits of the locality more especially intended to profit by this laborious undertaking, may feel interested in the facts connected with its progress, contributing so much as they do to give a correct idea of the difficulties attending the path of an author little more than a century ago.

Blomefield was rector of the parish of Fersfield, in which also he was born; in the summer months he was in the habit of making excursions in search of materials for his work, and to test the accuracy of information he had gained, by a method he had adopted, in furtherance of his object, of distributing “queries,” to be filled up with answers concerning any historical or antiquarian subjects that may be known to the parties applied to.  In reference to this plan, he says himself, in a letter to a friend, “It is impossible to tell you what great helps have come in by my queries: sometimes having twenty or thirty sheets, besides books, letters, records and papers for a single hundred;” (alluding to the divisions of the county into hundreds).

p. 176It was after one of his collating rambles that he finally determined to issue proposals for printing his work; and meeting with much encouragement, he speedily looked about for a suitable printing establishment.  In a letter to Mr. Chase, a printer who lived next door to “John o’ all sorts,” Cockey Lane, Norwich, on the 1st of July, 1733, he says, “I have endeavoured to procure a set of Saxon types, but cannot do it; and upon looking over my book find a good number of Greek inscriptions, some Hebrew words, and some Gothic.  So that I must print it in London; it being impossible to have those types any where in the country (!).  I wish heartily I could have done it with you; for I like your terms, and could have been glad to have corrected the press myself, which I then could easily have done.”

Eventually he decided upon printing the work upon his own premises, and engaged a good workman, at a salary of £40 a year, bought a press for £7, and fitted up a printing office with all the requisite materials.  The account in the papers of the “Archæological Society,” goes on to say, “At that time, distance and difficulties of intercourse made any want of punctuality most annoying, and the plan of printing at home involved the necessity of a great variety of type and other materials.  Meanwhile type founders, stationers, and engravers, were p. 177but too much given to weary him with delay, or to disgust him with fraud.  Beginning a correspondence with frankness and civility, he often had to continue it, urging and reiterating entreaties of attention—alternately coaxing compliance with ‘half a piece’ to drink his health and success to his work, or with ‘promise of making amends,’ or a ‘fowl at Christmas,’ or rebuking with reluctant severity, resulting more from devotedness to his object, than anger or bitterness.  A facetious engraver, who was introduced to him, and invited to his house to assist him, after remaining there three weeks, agreed for a large portion of the work, and cut several of the things, all which he ran away with.  Other vexations sprang out of the patronage and assistance he most valued; but, after many interruptions, the first edition of a part of the book was brought out in 1736.”

In the midst of his labours, however, he was cut off by that virulent enemy, the small pox, on the 15th January, 1751, at the age of forty-six.  His work was continued by the Rev. Charles Parkens, of whom a curious anecdote is related;—its accuracy we do not pretend to vouch; the tale runs that Mr. Parkens had a tame magpie, which had access to her master’s study, and seeing him busily employed in folding and unfolding the packets that lay before him on his desk, she thought it no harm to be busy too, until from time to time she flew away with the p. 178whole borough of Yarmouth.  Many of the parcels, it is added, were recovered, but others irrecoverably lost.

“I know not how the truth may be,
But tell the tale as ’twas told to me.”

With this cursory glance at the work of the great historian of the district, we close our chapter on the subjects suggested by the “Old Market-place.”  The sketches have been necessarily superficial, but they afford proof that its chronicles include a variety of matter and incident that may interest almost every class of mind.

p. 179CHAPTER V.

The Guildhall.—Visit to its dungeons.—Bilney.—St. Barbara’s chapel.—Legend of St. Barbara.—Assize court.—Old document.—Trial by Jury.—Council chamber.—Old record room.—Guilds.—St. George’s company.—History of St. George.—Legend of St. Margaret.

Our rambles have now brought us to the threshold of that quaint, but beautiful old “studwork” chamber, the guildhall; the seat of civic honour, power, and glory, with its many appendages of courts and cells, the witnesses of those multiplied alternations of tragedy, comedy, and melodrama, that may be looked for to have been enacted during centuries, beneath a roof covering a council chamber, an assize court, and a prison.  Once again, we avow that we aim not to be complete topographers, or guides to all the strange old carvings, and grotesque remains of ancient sculpture, that may be found in such rich abundance around the pathways of a venerable city, neither do we profess to furnish all the historic details p. 180that may be gleaned concerning these relics of antiquity; are they not chronicled elsewhere, in many mighty tomes, readable and unreadable, in “guides,” and “tours,” and manifold “directories?”  We look and think, and odd associations weave our thinkings sometimes, perhaps, into a queer mottled garb, though we would solemnly aver the woof through which the shuttle of our fancy plays is every fibre of it truth.

Such a preface is needed to our sketch of this fine old ornament of the city’s market-place, lest disappointment should attend the hopes of the inquisitive investigator of sights and relics.

The guildhall, once like the municipal body it represents, was but a tiny little thing compared with what it since has grown, and when bailiffs and burgesses were the only distinctive titles and offices, a simple chamber thatched, and commonly used to collect the market dues, sufficed for the seat of civic government; but when, in the reign of the third Henry, the citizens received from him a charter for a mayor and sheriffs, they took off the thatched roof of their little toll-booth, and built upon it, and round about it, spacious rooms and courts, to accommodate and do honour to their newly acquired municipal dignitaries; for which purpose a warrant was obtained, to press all carpenters, builders, and bricklayers, into active service, from eight o’clock in the morning until p. 181eight o’clock at night, as long as occasion might require; and by such compulsory process, the design was completed some fifty years from the date of its commencement.  The tower, wherein was the treasury, fell down in Bluff King Harry’s reign, whose matrimonial exploits have given him notoriety, in addition to the grand event of history, the Reformation, with which they bore so intimate a connection.  Decay, renovation, change, and reformation, have been so busy with this seat of government, from the era of its infancy until the present time, that no small degree of ingenuity must be needed to unravel the twistings and turnings, and comprehend the inharmonious groupings that have sprung up about it, the divers offsprings of various ages, that mark the progress and growth of the municipal constitution.

Without doubt, the first claim to antiquity is justly assigned to the lower dungeons and cells, some of which still serve as lock ups for offenders awaiting magisterial examination; and a remarkably unpleasant situation must the individual find himself in, who is there for ever so brief a space in “durance vile;” the convicted transgressor certainly makes an exchange for the better, when he reaches his ultimate destination, the city prison cell; dark, damp, underground coal-cellars, may be deemed fair illustrations of the accommodation there offered to those whom the “law deems innocent”, as it professes to p. 182do all unconvicted persons.  One degree darker, and more horrible, are the dungeons, which receive no light whatever, save from a jet of gas without the gratings of the doors; into these refractory guests are stowed, that their rebellious sounds may not disturb the ears of any passers-by above ground.

“Deeper, and deeper still,” down beneath the very foundations of the building, at the foot of a dark narrow winding stair, fast crumbling to decay, is yet another dungeon, long since closed for any practical purposes; the eye of curiosity alone happily is permitted to penetrate its depths.  Dark and damp, however, as it is, it would seem preferable to the dismal “lock ups,” a light, of modern introduction, from the street above, giving it a less intensely black look.  Here it was that poor old Bilney spent his last hours of life; and the groined and vaulted roof, constructed upon the plan of so many of the cellars of that period of civil and domestic architecture, gives to the place a strangely ecclesiastical look in these days, and imagination has little difficulty in calling up the priest of the subterranean temple, who has been pictured to our eyes as there testing the powers of his endurance, by holding his finger in the lighted flame of the candle, to satisfy his friends that he should not shrink from the bodily pangs that were on the morrow to earn for him the crown of martyrdom.  Solemn and sad are the memories clustered p. 183around these dreary tombs of liberty, nor is their atmosphere tempting to linger in, even upon a visit of curiosity.

The winding stair from the dungeon leads into what is now a porch-way, but which must once have been the site of the old chapel, built for the use of the prisoners.  This chapel was dedicated to St. Barbara, the prisoner’s saint, who, according to the legend of the Romish church, “was imprisoned by her father, in a high strong tower, to the end that no man should behold her,” and therefore St. Barbara is always represented with a tower.  She is commemorated on the fourth of December, as St. Barbara, the Virgin and Martyr.  Here, were formerly kept all the goods and chattels appertaining to the mayorality and civic feasts, in addition to the services belonging to the chapel itself; but about the era of the Reformation the chapel was pulled down, to make way for secular offices.  How busy those good reformers were in abolishing every place dedicated to worship, that their judgment deemed supernumerary!  When the treasury tower fell in, it crushed a prison, known by the name of “Little Ease;” the full details of whose attractions we are left in ignorance of.  Upon the first floor, near the site of the chapel, was once the large chamber, where the sealing of the cloths manufactured in the city was carried on, since converted into an assize court, p. 184where the notorious lawmongers of this city, with their brother dignitaries of the bar, join forces to promote the ends of justice, their clients, and their own.  There is a queer old document extant, wherein the number of learned gentlemen permitted to follow the profession of the law in this city was limited, “because,” as the preamble states, “when there were no more than six or eight attorneys at the most coming to the king’s courts, great tranquillity reigned in the city and county, and little trouble or vexation was made by untrue and foreign suits; and now, so it is, that in the said city and county there be fourscore attornies, or more, the more part having nothing to live upon but only his gain by the practice of attorneyship, and also the more part of them not being of sufficient knowledge to be an attorney, &c. &c., whereby proceed many suits more of evil will and malice than of the truth of the thing, to the manifold vexations, and no little damage of the inhabitants of the said city and county.”  Wherefore it was enacted, that there should be but six attorneys in the county, and two in the city, for the future.  When this admirable statute was repealed, we know not, but conceive it must have been long, long ago, for so many brass-plate signs to have sprung up in evidence of a numerous progeny taking place of the solitary two.  Whether the repeal was a reform calculated to benefit the city, experience best can p. 185prove; but if the character of the “common folk” in these parts is faithfully given by the author of “English Worthies,” we may presume them to have been considerably inconvenienced by the scarcity of tools with which to play their favourite game.  He says, “that the common folks of Norfolk are possessed of such skill in the law, that they are said to study the law at the plough’s tail, and some would persuade us that they will enter an action for their neighbour’s horse only looking over the fence.”

In later times, evidences of the law mania exist in manifold forms; and the fact of individuals consulting a lawyer before calling in a doctor, in physical ailments, is by no means an uncommon occurrence among a certain class.  Some men think and judge with their lawyer’s heads, who, in return, of course, in justice live upon their purses.

Some few amusing facts connected with the boasted English privilege of “Trial by Jury,” may serve to illustrate the growth of “purity” in our courts of law.  The jurisdiction exercised over jurors by the “Star-chamber” is a notorious matter of history; but the curious and graphic description of the nature and constitution of a jury in the thirteenth century, as given by Sir Francis Palgrave, in his “Tale of the Merchant and Friar,” may not be quite so familiar, and is far too good to be omitted.

“A trial was about to commence.  ‘Sheriff, is p. 186your inquest in court?’ said the Mayor.  ‘Yes, my lord,’ replied the sheriff, ‘and, I am proud to say, it will be an excellent jury for the crown.  I myself have picked and chosen every man upon the panel.  I have spoken to them all; and there is not one whom I have not examined carefully, not only as to his knowledge of the offences of which the prisoner stands charged, but of all the circumstances from which his guilt can be collected, suspected, or inferred.  All the jurors were acquainted with him; eight out of the twelve have often been heard to declare upon their oath, that they were sure one day he would come to the gallows; and the remainder are fully of opinion that he deserves the halter.  My lord, I should ill have performed my duty, if I should have allowed my bailiffs to summon the jury at hap-hazard, and without previously ascertaining the extent of their testimony.  Some perhaps know more, and some less; but the least informed of them have taken great pains to go up and down every corner of Westminster, they and their wives, and to know all that they could hear concerning his past and present life and conversation.  Never had any culprit a chance of a fairer trial.’”

An extract from the archives of the Record room, gives another specimen of the mode of dealing with jurymen, if they proved refractory or obstinate.  It bears the date of the 8th year of King Henry VIII., p. 187and is to the purport that the jury that “acquitted Walter, James, and John Doo, Benet Bullok, and Edmund Stuttlie, notwithstanding that they had good and substantial evidence given against the said felons, at the last gaol delivery of Norwich; as the chief Justice of the King’s Bench, the Lord Edmund Howard, and William Ellis, one of the justices of the peace there, openly declared before the lords, in the presence of the said jury; for the which perjury so by them committed, it is by the lords’ most honourable council adjudged and decreed, that the said jury shall do the penance following, that is to say, they shall be committed to the Fleet, there to remain till to-morrow, and that then, at six of the clock, they shall be brought by the warden of the Fleet into Westminster Hall, with papers on their heads, whereon shall be written in great letters, ‘these men be wilfully perjured;’ and with the same papers on their heads they shall be led thrice about the hall of Westminster aforesaid, and then to be led by the warden of the Fleet to the Fleet again, there to remain till Monday; and on Monday, in the morning, to be had into Cheapside, and there shall go about the cross in Chepe thrice, and then they shall return to the Fleet, and there to remain till Tuesday, and then to be brought again before the lords, to be bound by recognizances to do the same penance at home, in their county at Norwich; and that a precept p. 188shall be directed to the mayor and sheriffs of the city of Norwich aforesaid, to see the said parties do the said penance in the said city, upon Saturday, the 22d day of this present month of November, openly in the market-place there, with papers on their heads, whereupon shall be written the same words above written.”

The old mode of trial by ordeal, consisting as it did of an appeal to Heaven for judgment, either directly by miraculous interference, as in the ordeals of fire and water, or indirectly, in the ordeals of single combat, might well have had their charms in the memory of culprit and jurors both, when such a substitute alone was offered by the courts of justice that had superseded them.  There are, however, two extremes that may be gone to about every thing; and we believe a little wholesome penance might, even in the nineteenth century, not come amiss to stir up the wits of many a sleepy juror.  Certes, they often richly merit it.

From the assize court we bend our steps upward, to the region where we may feel at no loss in our search for objects of genuine antiquity, and find ourselves in the Council Chamber; and here we arrive at the very pinnacle of magisterial dignity—the zenith of municipal glory—the seat of mayoralty and aldmermanship and common councilship, once broadly separate and distinct in their grades of rank and p. 189power, in very truth an upper and a lower house, a peerage and a commons—assembling themselves in chambers becomingly graduated in their degrees of splendour—but now, alas! in these degenerate days of reformation and democratic sovereignty, as some might please to call them, all merged into one conglomerated body corporate—shall we add, of order Gothic composite?

The old chamber looks as if it had seen better days; two or three patched-up windows of variegated colours, still retaining many quaint and curious devices, bear witness of the taste and liberality of our forefathers; and imagination, by the aid of history’s pen, can fill up the unsophisticated plain glass lights at the side, with the old subjects that once occupied their space, but which have fallen a sacrifice to the despoiler’s barbarous hand;—one of the unjust judge, who, being flayed alive, was succeeded in office by his son, and the picture, so they tell us, was elucidated by some very characteristic specimens of antique poetry—to wit, the first two lines of general advice, addressed to all who may ever be in a position to profit by it,—

“Let alle men se, stedfast you be,
Justice do ye, or else like you fle;”

and an additional verse to the unfortunate son who succeeded him in office:—

“You that sittyst now in place,
See hange before thy face
p. 190Thyn own Fader’s skyn,
For falsehood; this ded he wyn.”

Another equally original specimen of the judgment of Solomon is thus explained:—

“The trewe and counterfeit to trye,
She had rather lose her Ryght—
Saying, the Soulders ware redy
To clyve, with all their myght.”

These, as I said, have disappeared; but we were unwilling in our sketch to lose sight altogether of such very interesting reliques of our ancestor’s skill, in conveying moral lessons by the light of their window-panes, as were to be found here a century or two ago.  Those good old folks did not seem to be wanting in a certain kind of wit; here, as in many other parts of the city, we have traces of their love of a fair rebus—without a slight knowledge of which propensity, we might look long ere we could understand the hieroglyphical appearance of a barrel set on end, with N. E. C. written above—history, however, elucidates the mystery, by explaining it as the rebus of one Thos. Necton, who aided by his wealth the filling in of one of the little gothic windows with stained glass.  The curiously carved old desk in the centre was once the reading-desk in fair St. Barbara’s chapel down below,—could it speak, we wonder whether it would glory in its elevation.  But now we really can resist no longer a good hearty laugh p. 191at those comical little unmakeoutable animals, seated so demurely all round the room, on the tops of the high-backed benches, with their queer little faces struggling to keep down a grin.  Whatever were they put there for?  Was it to chronicle up in their little wooden pates the doings and undoings, the sayings and unsayings, that they have been looking at, and listening to, so patiently and wonderingly, for these four centuries past?  What would we give to hear them tell the tale of all they have seen and heard go on, since first the royal charter granted to our citizens the long-sought privilege of a real bona fide mayor! how, at first this dignitary used to sit in solemn majesty upon his throne of state, surrounded by his aristocracy of chosen peers, deliberating gravely on the affairs of their little state; how, reverently and orderly the subordinate commons used to come into their presence at their bidding, and do as they were told by the supreme authorities; and how, as time and years passed, the heads of these same commons began to lift themselves a little and a little higher, till they really seemed as much real men as those who occupied the chairs of state; how, when at last their struggles had gained the great municipal reform, some sixteen years ago, they took their seats in the very midst of the aldermanic autocrats, with all the coolness of precocious intellect, usurping dignities reserved for high-sounding names or well-lined p. 192purses.  Could they not tell a few more tales of how the ethereal blue and whites,—remembering the day when their opponents, clad in purple, numbered nine out of twelve of the industrious nominees who were to choose their fellow-workers in the field of city usefulness, had traded with their talents till they had gained nine and thirty more purples to sit by their side, and smile at the twelve blue-looking occupants of the opposition benches,—did, in later times, effectually turn the tables on the oppressors’ heads, and sit above them in triumph, looking down on fallen greatness; how this revolution had scarce become familiar to their little sapiencies, when from the very centre of the rival factions sprang another party; and the dogs, and dragons, and what-nots, felt ready to jump from their seats, when their ears heard a city youth avow himself an independent man, neither a blue nor purple—a man of principle—didn’t they wonder what it meant, and whether he really had enough of it to buy up both the other bidders in this marketable borough, or whether it would pay the interest of all the sums that they had severally spent in the good city’s cause, and how they longed to laugh outright when he avowed that honesty and truth were all the principal he traded with, and how they began by-and-bye to think there might be something in it, and to comprehend a little of the theory, but somehow p. 193the working of it seemed to puzzle and perplex them, it seemed to be so complicated by the interference of expediency.  But it will not do to tarry longer, conjecturing what might be the confessions of the little carved images; who does not, or has not read the brilliant comedies that have been, and are yet being, enacted perpetually within this chamber?

But there are more objects of interest to be examined within its walls; and among them pre-eminently stands forth the sword of Admiral Don Xavier Francisco Winthuysen, transmitted by Horatio Nelson to the mayor of the city, from the Irresistible, off Lisbon, Feb. 26th, a.d. 1797.  The sword, with its white vellum sheath ornamented with silver, is enclosed in a glass case, with the original letter from Admiral Nelson, relating the particulars of its capture.  In these days of railways and universal travelling, the trophy might prudently, we conceive, hold less conspicuous place.  No great stretch of the bounds of probability might suggest the chance of some relative or descendant of Don Xavier Francisco standing face to face with the uncomfortable memento of past misfortunes.  Leading from this chamber is a door-way, that opens out upon leads, where in olden times the ladies and friends of the aldermen were wont to enjoy the various spectacles offered by the processions and pageants then so frequently displayed.

p. 194The other principal chamber, formerly used by the common-councilmen, and now appropriated to sundry legal purposes, is adorned with the various quaint and significant emblems that once figured in the guild processions, in attendance upon his majesty, Snap, who, from the dignity of his elevation upon the landing-place without, looks down with proud and silent scorn upon all the modern innovations and reformations that have swept away the glories that surrounded his throne;—but of him more by-and-bye.

Beyond the council-chamber is the way of access to the old Record room, whence, now and then, some “Old Mortality” may be seen emerging, laden with treasures rescued from the mouldering heaps of antiquarian lore, there lying buried beneath the accumulated dust and cobwebs of centuries.  All praise and thanks be given, as due, to these patient and industrious workers, the fruits of whose labours so liberally are placed at the command of all less learned and recondite scribblers, who scruple not to gather of the crumbs that fall from the rich intellectual banquets they have spread before the lovers of history, antiquity, or science.

An armoury room, where weapons of divers sorts and multiform invention are stored, all bearing evidence of long disuse by rust and decay, and a treasury of gold and silver, maces and sceptres, in p. 195their various departments, claim notice; but as such things possess neither very great intrinsic worth, or any peculiarly interesting historical interest, save the little sceptre of Queen Elizabeth, a passing word may be enough to devote to them; it is time to turn attention to the subject more intimately associated with the very name of the building itself.  A Guildhall instantly suggests the question of guilds, their origin, character, and the features of history connected with those whose existence are memorialized by this particular edifice and its appendages.

Guilds were societies of persons confederated together for the common cause of trade, charity, and religion.  They were very numerous; in this county alone 907 were enumerated by Taylor in his Index Monasticus, as existing at the time of the Reformation.

The Parochial guilds were often too poor to afford to hire a room for their meetings, but assembled at each other’s houses; but when such was not the case, they usually hired a house near the church, which was called a Guildhall, or church house; the situation being chosen as convenient, their business being to pray as well as to eat.  The Guild consisted of an alderman, brethren and sisters, the parson of the parish and the principal persons of the neighbourhood being members.  They held lands, received legacies, and frequently met; but their grand assembly was on the p. 196day of their patron saint, when they went to church and offered up prayers at his altar for all the members of the society, living and dead.  From their saint they took their distinctive titles, as St. George’s, St. Luke’s Guild, &c.  They bestowed alms annually upon the poor, received travelling strangers, and did other acts of charity, as far as their revenues allowed.

Their meetings were usually crowned by a dinner, and terminated often in a manner not altogether consistent with their commencement.  Some of the guilds in large towns were wealthy and influential.  The bill for giving their possessions to the king, when sent to the lower house in 1547, was much opposed by the burgesses, who represented that the boroughs could no longer maintain their churches and other public works, if the rents belonging to the guilds were transferred to the king.  The act passed, upon a pledge that the lands should be restored.  It was the last act of Henry the Eighth’s reign, and was put in execution by his successor; but the promise was ill performed, many of the revenues being seized, upon the plea of their being free chapel or chantry endowments.

This brief sketch of the nature and origin of guilds, may suffice to introduce more particularly the history of the great Guild of St. George, the most important of all the fraternities that existed in this city, and from being connected with the municipal p. 197body from an early date, intimately associated with the history of the Guildhall.  The following copious account of the company, with the copy of one of the charters granted to them, is extracted from the papers of the Norfolk and Norwich Archæological Society.

copy of charter.

“Henry, by the grace of God, (King) of England, France, and lord of Ireland, &c., to whom these present letters shall come greeting:

“Know ye that, whereas we have understood a certain Fraternity, and Gild of the glorious martyr St. George, in our city of Norwich, for thirty years past, and more, continually have been, and are, still honestly governed, and the brethren and sisters of the Gylde aforesaid, for the same time have found a chaplain duly celebrating divine service in the Cathedral church of the said city, and diverse and great cost for the worship of God, and the same glorious martyr, have made and do purpose to do more, if we should vouchsafe to assist them in the behalf.  Wee, in consideration of the premises, and for the augmentation of the same of our people, to the said glorious martyr, do, for us, our heirs (as much as in us lye), accept, ratify, and confirm the said Fraternity and Gylde, and we have granted that the said Fraternity and Gylde be perpetually a p. 198community in time succession for ever.  And that the Fraternity and Gylde aforesaid have the name of the Gylde of Saint George in Norwich, for ever.  And that the brethren and sisters aforesaid, and their successors yearly by themselves, at their will choose and create one alderman and two masters successively, and make honest and reasonable ordinances and constitutions to the better government of the said Fraternity and Gylde.

“Also cloath themselves with one suit of cloaths, and yearly make a feast for eating and drinking, in a convenient place within the said city, to be by them assigned.

“And also the aldermen and masters, brethren and sisters of the Fraternity and Gylde aforesaid, and their successors, be able and capable persons to purchase land, tenements, rents and services, to have, receive, and hold to them and their successors for ever, to the aldermen, masters, brothers and sisters of the Gyld of St. George in Norwich; and may in all courts and places for ever sue and be sued, answer and be answered, and gain and lose, and have a common seal for the business of the Fraternity and Gylde aforesaid to be transacted.

“And further of our special favour we have granted and given license for us and our heirs, (as much as in us lyes), to the aforesaid alderman, masters, brethren and sisters, that they and their p. 199successors may purchase and hold to them and their successors lands and tenements, rents and services, within the said city aforesaid, up to the value of ten pounds, which are held of us in burgage, as well for the support of one chaplain to celebrate divine service dayly in the church aforesaid, to pray for us and the said brethren and sisters, their healthful state while we shall live, and for our souls, and the souls of the said brethren and sisters when we shall die.  And also for the sowlles of our renowned ancestors, and of all the faithful deceased, as for the support of the Fraternity and Gylde aforesaid.  And other works and charges of piety made thereof, according to the ordinances of the same alderman, brethren and sisters for ever; the statute made against giving lands or tenements in mortmain, or any other statute or ordinance made to the contrary, or for that the then lands and tenements aforesaid are held of us in burgage notwithstanding.

“And moreover, to the setting aside the maintenance, confederacy, and conspiracy which by means of the Fraternity and Gylde aforesaid we have granted to the prior of the church aforesaid and to the mayor and to the sheriffs of the said city; also to the alderman and Fraternity of the Gylde aforesaid, which shall be for the time being, sufficient power and authority of expelling, discarding and removing according to their discretion, all brethren and sisters p. 200of the Fraternity and Gylde, aforesaid, from the Fraternity and Gylde, and from all the benefits and franchises thereof for ever, who shall be the cause of supporting or upholding such like maintenance, confederacy, or conspiracy aforesaid.

“In testimony whereof, we have caused these letters to be made patent.  Witness myself at Reading, the ninth day of May, in the fifth year of our reign, by the King himself, and for £40 paid into the hamper, 1417.

(Here was affixed the great seal of England.)

Another charter of much greater length is still extant; but we pass on to the next important feature in the history of the society,—its union with the corporate body of the city,—set forth in a voluminous indenture, known as Judge Yelverton’s mediation, which we transcribe, adapting the orthography to suit the general readers of the nineteenth century.

“The Mayor, Sheriffs, and Commonality of the City first united to the Fraternity of the Gylde of St. George, by the mediation of

Judge Yelverton.

“This writing indented, made the 27th day of March, the year of the reign of King Henry VI. the 30th, betwixt the mayor, sheriffs, and commonality of the city of Norwich, on the one part, and the p. 201alderman and brethren of the gylde of the glorious martyr, St. George, of the said city, of the other part, by the mediation and diligency of William Yelverton, Justice of our Lord the King, of his own place.  Witnesseth that, as well the said mayor, sheriffs, and commonality, as the aforesaid aldermen and brethren of the said gylde, both according of all matters had or moved betwixt them, before this in manner and form, as in the articles hereafter shewing:—

“First, for to begin to the worship of God, our Lady, and of the glorious martyr, St. George, forasmuch as the Cathedral church of the Holy Trinity, of Norwich, is the most worshipful and convenient place, that the glorious martys, St. George, be worshipped by the aldermen and brethren of the said guild, that therefore in the said place, after the forms and effect of the old use had afore this time, the said alderman and brethren be there on the feast of St. George, or some other day in the manner accustomed, there to hear the first even-song, and on the morrow following, to go in procession and hear mass, and offer there in the worship of God and the said martyr; and also there for to hear the second even-song and placebo, and dirige, for the brethren and sisters’ souls of the said guild; and on the day next following be at the mass of requiem, and offer there for the souls of all the brethren and sisters of the said guild p. 202and all Christians; and that a priest be continued there in the form accustomed, for to sing and pray for the prosperity, welfare, and honourable estate of the most Christian prince, King Henry VI., our sovereign lord, and also for the welfare of William Yelverton, Justice, by whose mediation and diligence the said accord and appointments have been advised and engrossed.

“And then, for the welfare of all the brethren and sisters of the said guild and fraternity living, and also for the souls of King Henry V., first founder of the said guild, and for all other souls of all the brethren and sisters of the said guild, that be passed out of the world, and all Christian souls; and if ever afterwards the possessions of the said guild will stretch to sustain and find another priest, that then such priest shall be found for to pray in like form, and that poor men and women of the said guild be found and relieved by the said guild, as hath been accustomed, as the goods will stretch to save other charges and necessary expenses, to the worship of God and of the said martyr, and to the good conservation and continuance of the said brethren.

“Also, on the morning next after the solemnity of the said guild, kept in the worship of the glorious martyr, Saint George, the brethren of the said guild, and their successors, shall yearly choose the mayor of the said city, and that time being a brother of the p. 203said guild, for to be alderman of the said guild for all the next year following, after his discharge of his office of mayoralty, then forthwith to take the charge and occupation of the said office of aldermanship of the said fraternity and guild; and so every person chosen to be mayor yearly, after he hath occupied mayoralty for an whole year, to occupy the said aldermanship of the said guild; and in case he refuse to occupy the said aldermanship after his mayoralty, to pay unto the said fraternity 100s. to the use of the said guild, and that the old alderman stand still alderman, unto the time another be chosen unto the said office of alderman to the said guild; and if the alderman of the said guild happen to die within the year, that then the mayor for the time being, occupy that office of alderman for his time, and so forth the next year following, according to this act.

“And that all the aldermen of the said city, that now are, and shall be in time coming, shall be made brethren of the said guild, without charge of the feast.

“Also, that every man that is, or shall be chosen to be, of the common council of the said city, be admitted also to be a brother of the said guild if he like; and that by great diligence and deliberation had, as well for the worship of the said city as the said guild, that no man be chosen to the said common p. 204council, but such as are and seem for to be able and sufficient of discretion and good disposition, and that every man that shall be received a brother into the said guild, shall be sworn, and receive his oath in form that followeth:—

“‘This hear, ye alderman and brethren of this fraternity and guild of the glorious martyr, St. George, in this city of Norwich, that from this day forward, the honour, prosperity, worships, profits, welfare, and surety of the fraternity and guild, after my power, I shall sustain, lawfully maintain and defend, and all lawful ordinances made or to be made, with all the circumstances and dependancies thereto belonging, truly and duly pay my dues after the said ordinances, without trouble or grievance of the said brethren and sisters, or of any officer of them, and Buxum to you aldermen and all your successors in all lawful commandments, to my power and cunning, so that this oath stretch not to any thing against the laws of God, nor against the laws of the land, nor against the liberties or franchises, the welfare, good peace, and rest of this city, nor against any panel of the oath that I have made afore to the king, and to the said city.’

“Also, the said aldermen and common council of the guild, shall choose when they list, from henceforward, other men and women of the said city, beside the said alderman and common council, such as p. 205they may think convenient by their discretion, and able thereto for to be brethren and sisters of the said guild.

“Also, that there be no man chosen nor received from henceforth into the said guild, dwelling out of the said city, but if he be a knight or a squire, or else notably known for a gentleman of birth, or else that he be a person of great worship by his virtue, and by his truth and great cunning, or be some great notable means and cause of great worship, and yet that all manner of thing that shall appertain to the governance of the said guild, or to any possessions or goods thereof, or choosing of any brother into the said guild, or correction of any default done to any brother, or by any brother thereof, and all other things that appertaineth to the rules of the said guild, or by the more part of them dwelling within the said city.

“Also, that all the possessions and moveable goods, that now or hereafter shall appertain to the said guild, be all only employed and applied to the worship of God and our Lady, and of the glorious martyr, St. George, and to the worship of the brethren of the said guild, and for the health of the souls of all those that have been brethren and sisters of the said guild, are and shall be in time coming, and in none otherwise; and hereto every man be sworn at his coming in specially, that henceforward shall be p. 206any other brother in the said guild, that he shall here do all that is in his power, and in no wise give his assent nor his favour to the contrary.

“Also, that every year be chosen surveyors, and such convenient officers as shall be thought necessary by the discretion of the aldermen and brethren of the said guild; and that every year the said alderman and four brethren of the said guild, whereof two be aldermen of the said city, be chosen for to see a reckoning, and to know the disposition and governance of all the possessions, moveables, and goods appertaining to the said guild, and to make a writing of the estate thereof, and shew that to the brethren of the said guild yearly, or else to a certain number of brethren, resident in the said city thereto named.

“Also, that every four years, once be given hoods or liveries of suit to each of the brethren of the said guild, and them honestly to be kept and worn to the worship of the glorious martyr, St. George, and of the brotherhood, if it seemeth to the said alderman and common council convenient.

“Also, although the aldermen of the city, and every person of common council of the same city, be brethren of the same guild, yet if it happen that any of them, or any other citizen or brother of the said guild, be discharged of his aldermanship, or put out of the said common council, or discomynyd against p. 207his will, for a great and notable cause against his worship, that then forthwith he be discharged of the said guild; or else, whosoever be once a brother of the said guild, that he be a brother still, paying his duties, till he will wilfully serve his own discharge, or else for notable causes be reasonably discharged.

“Also it is ordained that the alderman and twenty of the brethren, aforesaid, be for the assembly, and the common council of the said guild, and that it needeth not to have no greater number thereto; and that the alderman name thereof six, by his oath, that he choose no person by no manner persuaded, nor private means, nor for favour nor friendship of no person, nor of no parties, but such as to his conscience are most indifferent and best disposed, and best willed to the worship and welfare, rest, peace, and profit of all the city, and the said guild; and in like form, the six so chosen shall, by their taking the same oath, choose six of such persons of the said guild, according to their said oath; then the alderman, by his said oath, such other two which be aldermen of the said guild, of which two of the aldermen, and the more part of them, shall be and make the common council, and the assembly of the said guild; and if any of them should be warned to come to the said common council, if he then be resident in the said city, and come not, but if he hath reasonable excusation, that he pay 20d. for every day.

p. 208“And that all the old rules and ordinances of the said guild shall be seen by the aldermen, and the said common council of the said guild, and all those that be good, reasonable, and convenient to the worship of God, our Lady, and the glorious martyr St. George, and to the weal and peace within the said city, shall be kept, with reasonable additions put thereto, if it need; and if any ambiguity or doubt hereafterwards fall for the understanding or execution of the said article, in case that the said alderman, and more part of the said common council cannot accord therein, that then it be reformed and determined by the advice of the said William Yelverton.

“And if any brother now being, or in time coming shall be, do conspire or labour to attempt to do in any thing the contrary of any of these appointments, or any other in time coming, by the aldermen or more part of the common council to be made, and that reasonably proved upon him before the said alderman, and the more part of the said common council, that then he be forthwith discharged of the said guild, and that notified by the said alderman to the mayor, in the common council of the said city, that then, it done, he be discharged of his liberties and franchises of the said city, and unable ever to be citizen of the said city, or brother of the said guild, and taken and had as a forsworn man shamed and reproved, and reune in the pain of infamy.

p. 209“Also, that all these articles abovesaid, be every year, once, or oftener if it be needed, be openly read before the said alderman, and all the brethren, or the most part of them.  In witness of these premises to the one part of this indenture remaining towards the said mayor and commonality, the alderman and brethren of the said fraternity and guild have set their common seal; and to the other part of the said indenture, abiding toward the said alderman and brethren of the said guild, the mayor and commonality of the said city have set their common seal.  Given and done at Norwich, the day and year aforesaid, in the time of the mayoralty of Ralph Segrim, when William Baily and John Gilbert were sheriffs, Thomas Allen, alderman of the aforesaid guild, according to the tenour of this agreement.

“From thenceforth, the court of mayorality, justices, alderman, sheriffs, and common councilmen, were admitted and united to the fraternity of the glorious martyr St. George.  The rank and importance of the members of the society may be inferred from the fact, of their admitting from the country none beneath the rank of notable gentlemen.  The union of the two bodies took place fourteen years after the substitution of mayor and sheriffs for bailiffs.”

Among the entries in their book occur the following:

“At George’s Inn, Fybriggate, at an asssembly p. 210there, holden the Monday next before the feast of All Saints, in the ninth year of King Henry IV., a.d. 1408; it was agreed to furnish priests with copes, “and the George shall go in procession and make a conflict with the dragon, and keep his estate both days.”

“Item.  It is ordained that two new jackets of fustian and red buckram be bought for the henchmen (servitors upon George).

“A.D. 1408, auditors were chosen to survey the accounts of the company, a bellman to the company to have 2s. a year salary; a beadle 1s. 3d., and for all those that are admitted and sworn, 2d. for each entry; and the minstrel waytes of the city 5s., the beadle for warning the brethren at any ‘obite,’ 6d.; and twelve poor men to be fed at a table by themselves every year, on St. George’s day.

“Item.  It is ordained by the common assent, that forasmuch as before this time, the dirige, and mass of requiem, have been so rudely and dishonestly kept, and sung by aggregate persons, and children standing in temporal clothing, for remedy whereof to the honour of God, and spiritual conservation of the souls departed to God, that henceforth yearly shall be provided ten secular priests, that be not brethren of this fraternity, to be there at dirige and mass of requiem; each of them to have, when mass is done, 4d. of the obite money.

p. 211“A.D. 1469, ordained that an inventory of all the goods and jewels appertaining to the said fraternity be taken.”


“Imprimis.  A precious relic; viz., an angel, silver-gilt, bearing the arms of St. George, given by Sir John Fastolf.

“One chalice, silver-gilt.

“A manual, with two silver clasps.

“A cheseble, of white diaper, powered with stars of gold.

“A pax bread of timber.

“A little chest, with charter of King Henry V.

“A seal of silver, belonging to the fraternity, with an image of St. George.”

Another charter of King Henry VI:—

“Two cloaths, of the martyrdom of St. George.

“One gown of scarlet serge, for St. George.

“A coat armour, beaten with silver, for St. George.

“Four banners, with the arms of St. George, for the trumpeters.

“One banner, with the image of St. George.

“Two shafts for the banners, and one for the pennon.

“A chaplet, for the George.

“Two white gowns for the henchmen.

“Three peyntrells, three croopers, three reins, three p. 212head-stalls of red cloth, fringed and lined, with buckles, gilt, with the arms of St. George thereon.

“Eight torches, a dragon, a pair of gloves, of plate.

“A sword, with a scabbard covered with velvet, the bosses gilt.

“One russet gown, flowered and powdered with velvet spots.

“A black cheseble, with an alb, with the arms of the Lord Bardolph, by him given.

“Lastly, one mass book, price twelve marks.

“Also it is ordained, that the procession be done in copes, and all the brethren to have hoods of sanguine, and a reed or wand in his hand; and persons chosen to be aldermen, that every other of them have a red cope, and every one a white cope; the next year shall be clad in scarlet gowns, and parti-coloured hoods, scarlet and white damask, on the forfeiture of the payment of 13s. 4d.; and every commoner to be clad in a long gown, red and white, on the forfeiture of 6s. 8d.; and every commoner to ride to the Wood (St. William’s shrine) on St. George’s day, by the rules accustomed.

“Also that a priest be paid a salary, amounting to eleven pounds ten shillings.

“Persons appointed to provide hoods for the aldermen and commoners, to wear with their liveries at every entertainment hereafter.”

The manner of choosing persons to be members p. 213of the society, was thus, in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of King Henry VIII.:—

“The mayor chose three persons for the common council; the alderman chose three other persons for the same; these six chose other six for the same; and these twelve persons, with the advice of the four feast-makers, chose two feast-makers for the next year.”

In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of King Henry VIII., a.d. 1545, at the general dissolution of the abbeys, monasteries, convents, friaries, &c., the large and beautiful nave of the church of the Black Friars was converted into a common hall for the mayors, sheriffs, citizens, and commonality, with all their guilds and fraternities, to meet and hold their annual feasts in; but principally the guild of St. George, who expended two hundred and ten pounds upon its improvement at that time.

“Upon inviting persons to the feast, which was to be done by the surveyors at the Whitsun holidays, all that promised to dine at the feast paid their money down to the feast-maker beforehand.

“In the first year of the reign of King Henry VI., all fraternities, guilds, processions, &c., being thought useless, and tending to promote superstition, were set aside, and by virtue of the act passed, judged and deemed in the actual possession of the sovereign.

“In the third year of the reign of King Edward p. 214VI., it was further enacted, and agreed, that the twenty persons, hitherto known as the St. George’s assembly, should be henceforth called the assembly of the feast of the mayor, sheriffs, citizens, and common council of the city; and twenty persons were appointed to manage the guild feast, now called the feast of the mayor, sheriffs, &c. &c.  The feast-makers to provide a supper also on the guild-day evening, and the ordering of the charge to be referred to the mayor, sheriffs, &c. &c.  In the fourth year of this reign, the goods of the company were appraised, and valued at £7 11s. 8d.

“In the first year of the reign of Queen Mary, 1552, it was agreed, that there should be neither George nor Margaret on the next feast day in the procession; but the dragon to come and show himself as in other years.

“April 22d, second of Queen Mary, the laws since Henry VIII. repealed, and the guild to be kept as before.

“A.D. 1561; cordwainers admitted to office.”

Innumerable other entries betray the various changes of arrangement and regulation; but we pass on to

the manner of the procession on the guild-day.

“About eight o’clock in the morning, the whole body of the court, St. George’s company, and the p. 215livery, met at the new elect’s, where they were entertained with sugar rolls and sack; from whence they all proceeded with the newly elected mayor to the old mayor’s, in this order; the court first, St. George’s company next, and the livery last.  At the mayor’s they had a breakfast provided for them, of pasties and roast beef, and boiled legs of mutton; from whence, in inverted order, (livery, St. George’s company, and court), they proceeded to the Cathedral Church, where a sermon was preached, always by the minister of the parish in which the mayor resided; and he was the chaplain during the mayoralty.

“When the sermon was ended, the court had their horses taken, finely caparisoned, which they mounted; and at the entrance into the Royal Free School, which was curiously adorned with greens and flowers, in a bower, stood one of the lads thereto belonging, who was ready against the new mayor should come up, to address himself to him in an oration of Latin, as did several others, in different places, on horseback.  As the court proceeded with their robes of justice, the alderman in their scarlet, and the sheriffs in their violet gowns, with each a white wand in his hand, with trumpet sounding, the city music playing along the streets, with the standard of England carried before them.  Then followed St. George’s standard and company, supported by p. 216very tall stout men, who had dresses suitable and proper for them; in this manner they proceeded, though but slowly, occasioned by their stopping several times in different places, to hear the speeches which were then spoken by the free-school boys, as before mentioned.

“Being arrived at the guildhall, in the market, the new-elected mayor had his robe of justice put on him, the gold chain placed about his neck, the key of the gates delivered to him according to custom: he was then sworn; after which he generally made a speech to the citizens.  The whole body then remounted their horses, and proceeded to the New Hall (or St. Andrew’s Hall) to the dinner.  As soon as the court and their ladies, with the rest of the company, were seated, the dinner was served up first to the mayor’s table, next at St. George’s, and then, as fast as they could, all the rest of the tables were plentifully filled with great variety of all kinds of good eatables, but little or no butcher’s meat, but as to pasties, tarts, pickles, lobsters, salmon, sturgeon, hams, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pigeons, in great plenty, even to profusion; and these all served up in order, and besides what beer every one chose to drink, either small or strong, they had what quantity they pleased, besides a bottle of wine, which every man had delivered to him to drink after dinner.

p. 217As soon as dinner was over, St George’s company looked into their book to see for the names of such as were eligible to be chosen as feast-makers; and when they had selected four persons, they walked round the hall to look for them; and no sooner was one of them espied, than he had a garland of roses and greens thrown over his head, and was congratulated upon being chosen as feast-maker for the next year.  If any of the four were absent, it sufficed to send the garland to them at their own houses, to make the appointment sure.  A pecuniary fine attended a refusal to serve.

After the choice of feast-makers was over, the “banquets” were given to the ladies, and it growing towards evening the whole body rose from their seats and waited upon the new mayor home, where all were again entertained with sugar rolls and sack; and then concluded the day by seeing the old mayor to his home, where they remained and drank as long as it was proper.

The great guns were discharged many times during the day.

The whole street, sometimes the whole parish, in which the mayor resided was decorated in the handsomest manner; the streets were all strewn with rushes and planted with trees, variety of “garlands, ship, antients, and streamers in abundance.”  The outside of the houses were hung with tapestry and pictures.

p. 218“The dragon (carried by a man in the body) gave great diversion to the common people; they always seemed to fear it much when it was near them, but looked upon it with pleasure when at a little distance; it was so contrived as to spread its wings and move its head.  As there was always a multitude of people to see the procession, it was necessary to have several persons to keep them from coming too near, or breaking the ranks; for this purpose there were six men called Whifflers, somewhat like the Roman gladiators, who were neatly dressed, and who had the art of brandishing their very sharp swords in the greatest crowds with such dexterity as to harm no one, and of a sudden, to toss them high in the air and catch them again by the hilts: to this purpose also a man or two in painted canvas coats and vermilion red and yellow cloth caps, adorned with cats’ tails and small bells, went up and down to clear the way; their weapons were only small wands.  These were called or known by the name of Dick Fools; even they had their admirers, but it was among the children and mobility.”

The above curious and quaint description of the St. George’s Company and the procession, is an extract from Mackerell’s “History of Norwich,” published by the Archæological Society.  From the same source the further particulars added are collected.

p. 219It would appear that the company, enjoying so many powers and privileges, grew insolent and overbearing, and were wont to insult with impunity, and tyrannize unmercifully over the pockets, purses, and freedom of their fellow-citizens, until at length an individual named Clarke, an alderman, to whom they had shown much discourtesy and injustice, by considerable effort succeeded in bringing their career as a body to an end.  Their charter, books, regalia, and all that belonged to them were given up to the Corporation, and arrangements made at the same time for the mayor’s procession and rejoicings upon a new footing.  The dragon, the fools, and whifflers, were continued and paid by the Corporation, but instead of the St. George’s company, the sixty common councilmen attended upon the newly elected mayor on horseback in their gowns.  The mayor was to make a guild feast at his own charge, £150 being given him towards the expenses of his mayoralty.

“Thus (using the words of the writer) fell this honourable tyrannical company, who had lorded it over the rest of the citizens, by laws of their own making, for an hundred and fourscore years; had made all ranks of men submit to them; neither had they any regard to the meanness of persons’ circumstances, by which they had been the ruin of many families, and had occasioned much rancour and uneasiness every annual election of common-councilmen, p. 220when the conquerors always put the vanquished on to the livery; thereby delivering them over to the mercy of St. George, who was sure to have a pluck at them as they assembled and met together; until this gentleman alderman Clarke had the courage to oppose and withstand them; and having taken a great deal of pains and time, at last effected this great work, and brought this insolent company to a final period; for which good deed he ought to have his name transmitted to the latest posterity.”

And now it behoves us to inquire who was St. George?  Shall we be content to hear of his mighty prowess, his renowned sanctity, and his eminent exaltation as patron saint of our country, and the most famous guilds or fraternities that have ever flourished in Christendom, and know nothing of his origin, history, or reality?  Shall we subscribe to the heretical belief that St. George was neither more nor less than a soldier in the army of Diocletian, who rewarded his great military exploits by cutting off his head for advocating the cause of the Christians, and that therefore he was elevated into the calendar of saints and martyrs in the early church?  Shall we deny that he ever went to war with an insatiable dragon, who, having eaten up all the sheep and cattle in the neighbourhood, was fed upon fair youths and maidens “from a city of Libya, called Silene, and that he did mortally wound the said p. 221dragon and led him through the streets of the city,” as if it had been a meek beast and debonnaire? or shall we give ear to the suggestion that St. George is but another name for St Michael, who is always represented in combat with the dragon?  To whatever belief we may incline, the fact of the antiquity of his claims upon Christendom for universal reverence cannot be disputed.  Long before he became the patron saint of England, many eastern nations had adopted him in the same capacity; and to his personal and miraculous interference in protecting Richard Cœur de Lion in his conflict with Saladin, are we to attribute his elevation to that dignity in this country?  Many orders of knighthood besides that of England have been distinguished by his name in Austria, Bavaria, Burgundy, Montesa, Ravenna, Genoa, and Rome.  The most authentic accounts that have come down to us of the individual history and mortal career of this semi-fabulous personage, resolve themselves into a few leading facts.  He was a saint of high repute in the eastern church at a very early date, a Cappadocian of good family, and a commander of note in the army of Diocletian, and that he suffered martyrdom at Raniel, on the 23d of April, the day on which his festival was kept.  He is mentioned in old Saxon homilies as an ealder-man (or earl) of Cappadocia, and is mentioned in a MS. Martyrologicum Saxonicum, in the library of p. 222Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, as Georius Nobilis Martyr.  The Greeks called him the “Great Martyr.”  The Coptic Arabic MSS. mention him as of Cappadocia; Constantine instituted a religious order of knighthood, under the title of St. George, on which was borne a red cross; he is also said to have erected a church near his tomb in Palestine, and others in his honour at Constantinople.  The red cross, usually attributed to St. George for an armorial bearing, was possibly adopted from Constantine’s order of knighthood.  The figure of the saint armed and on horseback, expresses his martial character; and the dragon by many is conceived to be a symbol of Paganism; the figure of the young lady sometimes introduced also is regarded as a type of some city or province imploring aid, or may possibly have been intended to memorialize the rescue of the damsel, whom he is reported so gallantly to have saved from destruction.  There is a separate legend of a St. Margaret and a dragon related by Mrs. Jameson, which says that the governor of Antioch, captivated by the beauty of the fair Margaret, who inclined not to his highness, shut her up in a dungeon, and subjected her to all kinds of torments, and that during her imprisonment the devil, in the form of a dragon, appeared ready to devour her, but she held up the cross and he fled.  Many old prints represent the dragon lying peaceably down, and Margaret with the cross standing by p. 223unharmed.  An old church at Canterbury is dedicated to this Saint Margaret.  Whether or not there exists any connection between her and the heroine who usually is associated with St. George, we know not.

We conclude this speculative inquiry with a curious extract from a work by Dr. Sayer, a translation of a fragment annexed to the Vatican MS. of Olfrid’s Gospels, some say written in the fourth century:—

George went to judgement
With much honour
From the market-place,
And a great multitude following him,
He proceeded to the Rhine [223]
To perform the sacred duty,
Which then was highly celebrated,
And most acceptable to God.
He quitted the kingdoms of the earth,
And he obtained the kingdom of heaven.
Thus did he do,
The illustrious Count George,
Then hastened all
The kings who wished
To see this man entering,
(But) who did not wish to hear him.
The spirit of George was there honoured,
I speak truly from the report of these men,
(For) he obtained
What he sought from God.
Thus did he,
The Holy George.
p. 224Then they suddenly adjudged him
To prison;
Into which with him entered
Two beautiful angels
* * * * *
Then he became glad
When that sign was made (to him),
George then prayed;
My God granted every thing
To the words of George;
He made the dumb to speak,
The deaf to hear,
The blind to see,
The lame to walk.
* * * * *
Then began the powerful man
To be exceedingly enraged.
Tatian wished
To ridicule these miracles.
He said that George
Was an impostor;
He commanded George to come forth;
He ordered him to be unclothed;
He ordered him to be violently beaten
With a sword excessively sharp.
All this I know to be altogether true;
George then arose and recovered himself;
He wished to preach to those present,
And the Gentiles
Placed George in a conspicuous situation,
(Then) began that powerful man
To be exceedingly enraged.
He then ordered George to be bound
To a wheel, and to be whirled round.
I tell you what is fact;
The wheels were broken to pieces,
p. 225This I know to be altogether true;
George then arose and recovered himself,
He then wished (to preach); the Gentiles
Placed George in a conspicuous place,
Then he ordered George to be seized
And commanded him to be violently scourged;
Many desired that he should be beaten to pieces,
Or be burnt to a powder;
They at length thrust him into a well.
There was this son of beatitude,
Vast heaps of stones above him,
Pressed him down;
They took his acknowledgment;
They ordered George to rise;
He wrought many miracles,
As in fact he always does.
George rose and recovered himself.
He wished to preach to those Gentiles,
The Gentiles
Placed George in a conspicuous place.
* * * * *
They ordered him to rise,
They ordered him to proceed,
They ordered him instantly to preach.
Then he said,
I am assisted by faith.
(Then he said) when
Ye renounce the devil
Every moment * * *
* * * * *
This is what St. George himself may teach us.
Then he was permitted to go into the chamber
To the Queen;
He began to teach her,
She began to listen to him.

The fragment ends here; the queen alluded to is p. 226deemed to be the wife of Diocletian Alexandra, who has been canonized by the Romish Church.  She is said to have been converted to Christianity, and suffered martyrdom with her teacher.

We now beg to take leave of St. George and St. Margaret; Mr. Snap or the Dragon in his coat of green and gold, at this present surmounted by an outer coat of considerable thickness of dust, must permit us to make our obeisance—trusting that the gleanings we have made of all these little facts of history that contributed to his importance in the day of his sovereignty and splendour, may have gained for us a parting good will.

His days of pomp and majesty are ended—with the banishment of fun and frolic, and folly, with the reformation of councils and committees, of manners and municipalities—his glory has departed, and but for the chronicles of the past, his presence slumbering in oblivion, or in drooping despondency, hanging his head in attitude of grief, might be a mystery insoluble, as also might be the annual exhibition of the shabby counterfeit presentment of his person in the shape of a cumbrous imitation of himself, that is paraded once a year through street and suburb, to keep alive the shadow of the memory of “good old times,” in the hearts of the populace of a pleasure-loving city—but a sorrowful and piteous spectacle is this walking ghost of the Snap of the glorious guild of St. George.


Pageantries.—AncientMysteries.”—Origin of the religious drama.—Moralities.—Oratorios.—Allegorical plays of Queen Elizabeth’s time.—The Pageants got up to do honour to her visit.—Will Kempe, Morris dancer, hisnine days wonder.”—“Hobby-horses.”—Festivals.—St. Nicholas or Boy Bishop.—Bishop Blaize.—Woolcombers’ jubilee.—Southland fair.—St. Valentine.—Mode of celebrating the festival.—“Chairing the members.”—Origin of the custom.

Among the many quaint specimens of the ways and doings of the ancient respectable denizens of this present sober-minded city, that have been rescued from the dim and dusty obscurity of the municipal record chamber, has been found a curious minute of the proceedings of a solemn court held on the Sabbath day of the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle, in the nineteenth year of King Henry VIII., when a petition was presented to the mayor, sheriffs and common council of the city of Norwich, by the aldermen and brethren of the guild of St. Luke, praying to be relieved from the burthen of being sole purveyors of plays and pageants for the people p. 228on Whitsun Monday and Tuesday; and it may safely serve as a text for a few rambling sketches of the entertainments that were wont to gratify the taste of the lovers of the drama, in the age before the stream of imperishable philosophy had been poured forth from the waters of Avon, or its banks had resounded to the harmony that was destined to sweep over the length and breadth of the earth, vibrating through the chords of every living heart that felt its breath.

Deep in the human mind lies the yearning for amusement, great have been those who, laying hold of this inherent principle of our nature, could make it a means for enlightening and ennobling it; nor must we judge of the sincerity of the attempts that were made in this work, by their impotency or failure.  In dark and barbarous times, what may seem gross buffoonery to our refined senses, may have had power to convey a moral lesson or excite a worthy impulse; and we may scarcely with any justice withhold our meed of praise and admiration of the philosophy of those old monks, who, seeing the immorality that characterized the exhibitions provided by strolling players, jugglers, tumblers, dancers, and jesters, journeying from town to town, and castle to castle, and filling the large square court-yards provided for their express accommodation by every house of any pretensions to rank, set their p. 229inventive powers to work, to find a substitute for these recreations of dubious tendency, and endeavoured to supersede the secular by the religious drama.  Appolonarius, and Gregory, Archbishop of Constantinople, had done likewise, and dramatised scenes both from the Old and New Testament, as substitutes for Euripides and Sophocles, when the study of Greek philosophy was deemed heresy, and to have read Virgil required from St. Augustine penitence and prayer for pardon.  Hence priests turned playwrights and actors, and instead of profane mummeries presented scriptural stories, or legendary tales, which they at least deemed improving and instructive.  Most old cities present traces, more or less distinct, of these specimens of clerical ingenuity.

The Coventry and Chester mysteries have been preserved almost entire; royalty honoured them with its presence, both in the person of Richard III. and Henry VII. and his queen; York and London have contributed their store of relics, and the performances of the company of Clerks that gave the name to far-famed Clerkenwell, and the fraternity of the Holy Trinity, St. Botolph’s Aldersgate, have become matters of history.

We have to borrow light from these richer stores, to comprehend the full meaning of the few traces left among our chronicles, that bear evidence of similar practices in the other localities; and here we p. 230return to the petition of the St. Luke’s guild or fraternity.  Each branch of trade had then its company, or guild, and was governed by laws of its own, under general supervision of the municipal authorities.  The St. Luke’s guild was composed of pewterers, braziers, bell-founders, plumbers, glaziers, stainers, and other trades, and upon them it would seem that the whole expense of the Whitsunside dramatic entertainments had fallen; wherefore they besought their “discreet wisdoms” to enact, and ordain, and establish, that every occupation within the city, should yearly, at the procession on Monday in Pentecost week, set forth one pageant, by their “discreet wisdoms” to be assigned and appointed of their costs and charges, which should be “to the worship of the city, profit of the citizens and inhabitants, and to the great sustentation, comfort and relief as well of the said guild and brethren of the same;” which favourable aid should bind them and their successors “daily to pray to God for the prosperities long to endure of their discreet wisdoms.”

Which petition being heard and understood, it was agreed and enacted that thenceforth every occupation in the said city should find and set forth in the said procession one such pageant as should be appointed by master mayor and his brethren aldermen.  In the same hand-writing as the minute to this effect is a list of pageants, probably arranged in consequence of it.


1.  Mercers, Drapers, Haberdashers.

Creation of the World.

2.  Glasiers, Steyners, Screveners, Pchemyters, Carpenters, Gravers, Caryers, Colermakers Whelewrights.

Helle carte.

3.  Grocers, Raffemen, (Chandlers).


4.  Shermen, Fullers, Thikwollenweavers, Covlightmakers, Masons, Lymebrenrs.

Abell and Cain.

5.  Bakers, Bruers, Inkepers, Cooks, Millers, Vynteners, Coupers.

Noyse Shipp.

6.  Taillors, Broderers, Reders, and Tylers.

Abraham and Isaak.

7.  Tanners, Coryors, Cordwainers.

Moises and Aaron with the children of Irael, and Pharo with his Knyghts.

p. 2328.  Smythes.

Conflict of David and Golias.

9.  Dyers, Calaunderers, Goldsmythes, Goldbeters, Saddlers, Pewterers and Brasyers.

The birth of Christ, with Shepherds and three Kyngs of Colen.

10.  Barbors, Wexchandlers, Surgeons, Fisitians, Hardewaremen, Hatters, Cappers, Skynners, Glovers, Pynnmakers, Poyntemakers, Girdelers, Pursers, Bagmakers, “Scepps,” Wyredrawers, Cardmakers.

The Baptysme of Criste.

11.  Bochers, Fismongers,Watermen.

The Resurrection.

12.  Worsted Wevers.

The Holy Ghost.

“These plays were performed on moveable stages constructed for the purpose, described by Dugdale as ‘theatres very large and high, placed on wheels;’ and Archdeacon Rogers, who died in 1595, and saw the Whitsun plays performed at Chester, gives a p. 233very minute description of the mode in which they were exhibited: ‘They were divided there into twenty-four pageants, according to the companies of the city; every company brought forth its pageant, which was the carriage or stage in which they played; these were wheeled about from street to street, exchanging with each other, and repeating their several plays in the different places appointed.  The pageants, or carriages, were high places made like two rooms, one above the other, open at the top; the lower room was used as a dressing-room, the higher room was the performing place.”

The first of the Norwich pageants, the Creation of the World, is similar to one described by Hone, as performed at Bamberg, in Germany, so late as 1783; and its details so precisely accord with the stage directions still extant of similar representations in this country, that it has been adopted as a fair specimen of the play alluded to in the list.

The description of the German representation is thus given in the words of an eye-witness:—“The end of a barn being taken away, a dark hole appeared, hung with tapestry the wrong side outwards; a curtain running along, and dividing the middle.  On this stage the Creation was performed.  A stupid-looking Capuchin personated the Creator.  He entered in a large full-bottomed wig, with a false beard, wearing over the rusty dress of his order a brocade p. 234morning-gown, the lining of light blue silk being rendered visible occasionally by the pride the wearer took in showing it; and he eyed his slippers with the same satisfaction.  He first came on, making his way through the tapestry, groping about; and purposely running his head against posts, exclaiming, with a sort of peevish authority, ‘Let there be light,’ at the same time pushing the tapestry right and left, and disclosing a glimmer through linen clothes from candles placed behind them.  The creation of the sea was represented by the pouring of water along the stage; and the making of dry land by the throwing of mould.  Angels were personated by girls and young priests, habited in dresses (hired from a masquerade shop), to which the wings of geese were clumsily attached, near the shoulders.  The angels actively assisted the character in the flowered dressing-gown, in producing the stars, moon, and sun.  To represent winged fowl, a number of cocks and hens were fluttered about; and for other living creatures, some cattle were driven on the stage, with a well-shod horse, and two pigs with rings in their noses.  Soon after, Adam appeared.  He was a clumsy fellow, in a strangely-shaped wig; and being closely clad with a sort of coarse stocking, looked quite as grotesque as in the worst of the old woodcuts, and something like Orson, but not so decent.  He stalked about, wondering at every thing, and p. 235was followed from among the beasts by a large ugly mastiff, with a brass collar on.  When he reclined to sleep, preparatory to the introduction of Eve, the mastiff lay down by him.  This occasioned some strife between the old man in brocade, Adam, and the dog, who refused to quit his post; nor would he move when the angels tried to whistle him off.  The performance proceeded to the supposed extraction of the rib from the dog’s master; which being brought forward and shewn to the audience, was carried back to be succeeded by Eve, who, in order to seem rising from Adam’s side, was dragged up from behind his back, through an ill-concealed and equally ill-contrived trap-door, by the performer in brocade.  As he lifted her over, the dog, being trod upon, frightened her by a sudden snap, so that she tumbled upon Adam.  This obtained a hearty kick from a clumsy angel to the dog, who consoled himself by discovering the rib produced before, which, being a beef bone, he tried his teeth upon.”

The second pageant was “Paradise,” provided by the Grocers and Raffemen.  In the Grocers’ books, now lost, were the items of expenditure about this pageant, among others, for painting clothes for Adam and Eve, &c.  In the French collections, a legendary incident is introduced in this play: When Adam attempts to swallow the apple, it will not stir; and, according to the legend, this was the cause of the p. 236lump in the man’s throat, which has been preserved ever since.

The third pageant, “Hell Carte,” was brought forth by the Glaziers, &c.  One of a series of illuminated drawings of the eleventh century, illustrative of the Old and New Testaments, part of the Cottonian Library in the British Museum, gives an idea of the manner in which this subject was represented.  By no very complex machinery, the huge painted mouth was made to open and shut, and demons are represented dragging into it a variety of classes of dishonest people; thereby conveying a moral and satirical admonition against some of the crying sins of the day, most practised among, and most offensive to, the lower and middle classes of society.  One of these offenders was the ale-wife, who gave short measure.  In a miserere in Ludlow church, there is set forth a demon carrying an ale-wife, with her false measure and gay head-dress, to the mouth, while two other demons play on the bagpipes, and read from a scroll the catalogue of her sins.

The fourth pageant, “Abel and Cain,” was furnished by the Sheremen, &c.  Disputes between Cain and his man were comic scenes introduced into it, and formed its chief attraction.

The fifth, “Noyse Ship,” was brought forth by the Bakers.  A fragment of a Newcastle play of the same name affords a specimen of its probable character.  p. 237The dramatis persona are Noah, his wife, and Diabolus; and a considerable portion of the play consists of disputes between Noah and his wife, about entering the ark, as:—


Good wife, doe now, as I thee bidd.

Noah’s Wife.

   Not I, ere I see more need,
Though thou stande all day and stare.


   . . . that women ben crabbed be,
And not are meek, I dare well say.
That is well seen by me to-day,
In witness of yet, eiehone.
Good wife, let be all this beare,
That thou mak’st in this place here,
For all they wene thou art master,
And soe thou art by St. John.

Further rebellion on the part of the spouse compels Noah to carry out the threat,

Bot as I have blys,
I shall chastyse this.

To which she replies:—

“Yet may ye mys
Nicholle Nedy.”

He stops beating her, for the reason,

“That my bak is nere in two.”

To which she adds:—

“And I am bet so blo—”

The sixth pageant was Abraham and Isaac.  Of p. 238the details of this, and the seventh and eighth, no records have been found.

The ninth—the birth of Christ, with shepherds, and the three kings of Colen,—was a very common subject.  The scenes were, usually:—1st, Mary, Joseph, the child, an ox and an ass, and angels speaking to shepherds.—2nd, The shepherds speaking by turns, the star, an angel giving joy to the shepherds.—3rd, The three kings coming from the East, Herod asking about the child, with the son of Herod, two counsellors, and a messenger.—4th, Mary, with the child and star above, and the kings offering gifts.

In the Townley and Coventry Mysteries, the play commences with a ranting speech of King Herod, one of those which gave rise to Shakespeare’s saying of “out-heroding Herod.”  In the fifth volume of the Paston Letters, J. Wheatley writes to Sir J. Paston, “and as for Haylesdon, my lord of Suffolk was there on Wednesday; at his being there that day, there was never no man that played Herod in Corpus Christi better, and more agreeable to his pageant, than he.”

Most of these pageants were founded upon scripture narrative; while of those of Coventry several are founded on legendary history.

The tenth pageant, having for its object the “Baptism of Christ,” was exhibited by the Barbers, &c.

p. 239The eleventh pageant was the “Resurrection,” brought forward by the Butchers, &c.

The twelfth and last pageant was the “Holy Ghost,” and exhibited the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.

In the well-known mystery, entitled Corpus Christi, or the Coventry play, the prologue is delivered by three persons, who speak alternately, and are called vexillators; it contains the arguments of the several pageants or acts that constitute the piece, and they amount to no less than forty, every one of which consists of a detached subject from scripture, beginning with the Creation of the Universe, and concluding with the “Last Judgment.”  In the first pageant or act, the Deity is represented seated on a throne by himself; after a speech of some length, the angels enter, singing from the church service portions of the Te Deum.  Lucifer then appears, and desires to know if the hymn was in honour of God or himself, when a difference arises among the angels, and the evil ones are with Lucifer expelled by force.

The Reformation had not the effect of annihilating these observances in many places; the Corpus Christi procession was kept up for years after, as in Norwich; and it was not until the beginning of the reign of James I. that they were finally suppressed in all the towns of the kingdom.

p. 240John Bale, of the Carmelite Monastery, of Whitefriars, Norwich, afterwards a convert to Protestantism, and made successively Bishop of Ossory, Archbishop of Dublin, also a prebend of Canterbury, was a great writer of mysteries; one of his compositions was entitled “The Chief Promises of God to Man,” its principal characters being God, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, and John Baptist.

Moralities were of later date than mysteries, and differed from them, as consisting of dramatic allegories, in which the vices and virtues were personified; the province of exciting laughter descended from the devil in the mystery, to vice or iniquity in the morality, and was personified by pride or gluttony, or any other evil propensity; and even when regular tragedies and comedies came upon the stage, we may trace the descendants of this line in the clowns and fools who undertook this portion of the entertainment, to the no small detriment of the more serious parts of the best tragedies.  In Hamlet’s direction to the players, allusion is made distinctly to this.  The secular plays which existed before mysteries were invented, differed very materially from either them or moralities, and were far inferior to them in refinement and delicacy; they retained their popularity, however, notwithstanding their clerical rivals, and the efforts that were diligently made to do away with them.

p. 241Interludes were a variety of these secular plays, and probably gave birth to the farce of later times; they were facetious or satirical dialogues, calculated to promote mirth.  A representation of this character before Henry the Eighth, at Greenwich, is thus related by Hall:—“Two persons played a dialogue, the effect whereof was to declare whether riches were better than love; and when they could not agree upon a conclusion, each knight called in three knights well armed; three of them would have entered the gate of the arch in the middle of the chamber, and the other three resisted; and suddenly between the six knights, out of the arch fell down a bar all gilt, for the which bar the six knights did battle, and then they departed; then came in an old man with a silver beard, and he concluded that love and riches both be necessary for princes; that is to say, by love to be obeyed and served, and with riches to reward his lovers and friends.”

Another is described by the same author as performed at Windsor, when “the Emperor Maximilian and King Henry, being present, there was a disguising or play; the effect of it was, that there was a proud horse, which would not be tamed or bridled; but Amity sent Prudence and Policy, which tamed him, and Force and Puissance bridled him.  The horse was the French king, Amity the king of England, and the emperor and other persons were their counsel and power.”

p. 242When regular plays became established, these motley exhibitions lost their charm for all, save the vulgar; the law set its face against them, performers were stigmatised as rogues and vagabonds, and it is highly probable that necessity suggested to the tragitour or juggler, who was reduced to one solitary companion, the jester or jackpudding, to make up his “company,” the idea of substituting puppets to supply the place of other living characters.  The drama was in much the same state of progress throughout the civilized portions of Europe; and to the Italians and Spaniards the ingenuity of “Punchinello” has been attributed.  In England these wooden performers were called motions; and Mr. Punch took among them the rank of mirth-maker.  If there yet lives a being who has not at some moment of his life felt a thrill of delight at the prospect of a half-hour’s exhibition of this gentleman’s performance in his miniature theatre, we pity him most heartily.

The oratorio is a mystery or morality in music.  The Oratorio commenced with the priests of the Oratory, a brotherhood founded at Rome, 1540, by St. Philip Neri, who, in order to attract the youthful and pleasure-loving to church, had hymns, psalms, or spiritual songs, or cantatas sung either in chorus or by a single favourite voice.  These pieces were divided into two parts, one sung before the other, after the sermon.  Sacred stories or events from p. 243Scripture, written in verse, and, by way of dialogue, were set to music, and the first part being performed, the sermon succeeded, which people were inclined to remain to hear, that they might also hear the conclusion of the musical performance.  This ingenious device precluded the necessity, we presume, of locking the doors to prevent the egress of the congregation after prayers, and before the sermon, that has in some places since been resorted to.

The institutions of the Oratory required that corporal punishments should be mingled with their religious harmony; and the custom would seem to have been, that at certain seasons, of frequent occurrence, the brethren went through severe castigation from their own hands, upon their own bodies, with whips of small cords, delivered to them by officers appointed for the purpose.  This ceremony was performed in the dark, while a priest recited the Miserere and De Profundis with several prayers; after which, in silence and gloom, they were permitted to resume their attire, and refrain from their self-inflictions.

Mysteries and moralities ceased altogether about the year 1758 in this country; a comedy by Lupton, bearing that date, being about the last trace of the old school of dramatic writing.  The same year is memorable in this city for the gorgeous pageantries that marked the progress of England’s famous queen p. 244through its streets, on the occasion of her visit to this then thriving metropolis of wealth and commerce; and a sketch of the amusements provided for her entertainment, and the talents put into requisition to do honour to her august presence, may not be out of place here, containing, as they do, perhaps some of the latest specimens of the allegorical dramatic writing that exist.  They bear strong evidence of the encouragement given to literature by Elizabeth, which had created the fashion for classical allusion upon every possible occasion; and her admiration of the compliment so conveyed, caused the mythology of ancient learning to be introduced into the various shows and spectacles set forth in her honour, until almost every pageant became a pantheon.

But now for the royal visit, whose glorious memory has shed a halo over worsted weaving, and bombazines, and stocking manufactures, and is now enshrined in the magisterial closet of the Guildhall where the little silver sceptre then bequeathed to the honoured city lingers as a memento of the great event.

It was in the year 1578, that her Most Gracious Majesty, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France, and Ireland, was pleased to honour the city by her royal presence for the space of six days and nights, during which period the gaiety and magnificence of the doings would appear to have surpassed all previous or subsequent experience.  The civic p. 245functionaries held preliminary meetings to ‘determine the order of the procession that should welcome her Majesty, and to decree what preparations should be made for the event.  Great excitement prevailed throughout the city; streets were cleaned, dirt heaps removed, boats converted into state barges, velvets and satins, and gold and silver laces bought up to an immense extent, and, what we would appreciate more highly still, a decree was passed, banishing for the time being from the city streets all candle makers and scoutherers, who used unodoriferous washes that might offend the olfactory nerves of royalty.  This delicate attention we do esteem most creditable to the good sense of the august body whose care it was to provide for the comfort of the fair maiden queen.  Another generous resolution was passed by these same gentlemen, that none of the attendants that might form the retinue of their sovereign should be unfeasted, or unbidden to dinner and supper during the whole period of the six days.  A devisor, a sort of lord of misrule, we presume, was chosen to devote himself exclusively to the gettings up of pageants for the amusement of the visitors and public; and to his wit and ingenuity we fancy her majesty was mainly indebted for the enlivenment of her visit.

The auspicious day arrived, and a gay procession started forth to meet the royal party.  First came in rank, two by two, three score comely youths of the p. 246school of bachelors, arrayed in doublets of black satin, black hose, black taffeta hats with yellow bands, and then, as livery, a mandelin of purple taffeta, trimmed with silver lace.  These were followed by a figure fancifully attired with armour, and velvet hat and plume, intended to represent King Gurgunt, the reputed founder of the castle.  This personage was attended by three henchmen, bearing his helmet, staff, and target, and gaily decked out in livery of white and green, all richly mounted.  Next followed the noble company of gentlemen and wealthy citizens, in velvet coats and other costly apparel.  Then came the officers of the city, every one in his place; then the sword-bearer, with the sword and cap of maintenance, next the mayor in full scarlet robes, lined and trimmed with fur, the aldermen in their scarlet gowns, and those of them that had been mayors in cloaks also; next came those who had been sheriffs, in violet gowns and satin tippets; and lastly, the notorious whifflers, poising and throwing up their weapons with dexterity, just sufficient to impart fear and maintain order without doing mischief.  Thus they proceeded some two miles forward on the road to meet her majesty, King Gurgunt only excepted, who remained behind, to welcome her majesty at her first view of his redoubted castle.  Then followed all the shouting and rejoicing usual on such occasions; and when the royal train arrived, the exchanging p. 247of compliments in flowers of speech, and more substantial coins of gold.  The mayor presented a vase of silver gilt, containing one hundred pounds of money, as a tribute of loyalty to his sovereign liege, upon which her majesty exclaimed to her footman, “Look to it! there is one hundred pounds;” and in return, the city was presented with a mace or sceptre richly gemmed, so that on this occasion, if history tells us true, her majesty made some return for value received, as was not always her custom to do.  Then followed the speechifyings; first the mayor’s and its answer, and afterwards King Gurgunt’s that was to have been, but fortunately we must think for her majesty this forty-two lined specimen of poetry was deferred, in consequence of an April shower.  Triumphal arches welcomed her to the city walls, and pageants met her eye at every turn.  The first pageant was upon a stage forty feet long and eight broad, with a wall at the back, upon which was written divers sentences, viz. “The causes of the Commonwealth are God truly preached;” “Justice truly executed;” “The People obedient;” “Idleness expelled;” “Labour cherished;” “and universal Concord preserved.”  In the front below, it was painted with representations of various looms, with weavers working at them,—over each the name of the loom, Worsted, Russels, Darnix, Mochado, Lace, Caffa, Fringe.  Another p. 248painting of a matron and several children, over whom was written, “Good nurture changeth qualities.”  Upon the stage, at one end, stood six little girls spinning worsted yarn, at the other end the same number knitting worsted hose; in the centre stood a little boy, gaily dressed, who represented the “Commonwealth of the city,” who made a lengthened speech, commencing—

“Most gracious prince, undoubted sovereign queen,
   Our only joy next God and chief defence;
In this small shew our whole estate is seen,
   The wealth we have we find proceed from thence;
The idle hand hath here no place to feed,
The painsful wight hath still to serve his need;
Again our seat denies our traffick here,
   The sea too near divides us from the rest.
So weak we were within this dozen year,
   As care did quench the courage of the best;
But good advice hath taught these little hands
To rend in twain the force of pining bands.
   From combed wool we draw the slender thread,
From thence the looms have dealing with the same,
   And thence again in order do proceed,
These several works which skilful art doth frame,
   And all to drive dame Need into her cave
   Our heads and hands together laboured have.
We bought before the things that now we sell.
These slender imps, their works do pass the waves,
Of every mouth the hands the charges saves,
Thus through thy help, and aid of power divine,
Doth Norwich live, whose hearts and goods are thine.’”

This device gave her majesty much pleasure.

p. 249Another very magnificent affair, with gates of jasper and marble, was placed across the market-place, five female figures on the stage above representing the City, Deborah, Judith, Hester, and Martia (a queen); whose chief, the City, was spokeswoman first, and was succeeded by the others each in turn.  All that they said we dare not tarry to repeat; the City expressed herself in some hundred lines of poetry, the rest rather more briefly.  “Whom fame resounds with thundering trump;” “Flower of Grace, Prince of God’s Elect;” “Mighty Queen, finger of the Lord,” and such like hyperbole, made up the substance of their flattery.  We know the good Queen Bess was somewhat fond of such food, but we think even her taste must have been somewhat palled with the specimens offered on this occasion.  Others of a similar character were scattered along her pathway to the cathedral.  After service she retired to her quarters at the palace of the bishop.  On the Monday the deviser planned a scheme by which her majesty was enticed abroad by the invitation of Mercury, who was sent in a coach covered with birds and little angels in the air and clouds, a tower in the middle, decked with gold and jewels, topped by a plume of feathers, spangled and trimmed most gorgeously; Mercury himself in blue satin, lined with cloth of gold, with garments cut and slashed according to the most approved fashion of the day, a peaked hat, p. 250made to “cut the wind,” a pair of wings on his head and his heels; in his hand a golden rod with another pair of wings.  The horses of his coach were painted and furnished each with wings, and made to “drive with speed that might resemble flying;” and in this guise did Mercury present himself before the window at the palace, and tripping from his throne, made his most humble obeisance and lengthy speech, all which most graciously was received by her majesty.  Thus ended this day’s sport.

On Tuesday, as her majesty proceeded to Cossey Park, for the purpose of enjoying a day’s hunt, another pageant was got up by the industrious devisor, the subject of which was, Cupid in Search of a Home—not, however, much worth detailing.  Wednesday her majesty dined at Surrey House with Lord Surrey, at which banquet the French ambassadors are said to have been present; and a pageant was prepared for the occasion, but the rooms seem to have been rather too small to admit the company of performers, so it was of necessity deferred.  On her road home, the master of the grammar-school stayed the procession to deliver a lengthened speech before the gates of the hospital for old men, to which the queen graciously replied in flattering terms, presenting her hand to be kissed.  Thursday was marked by divers pageantries, prepared by order of the Lord Chamberlain, by the devisor.  The morning display, p. 251which was to enliven her majesty’s riding excursion, was made up of nymphs playing in water, the space occupied for the same being a square of sixty feet, with a deep hole four feet square in some part of it, to answer for a cave.  The ground was covered with canvas, painted like grass, with running cords through the rings attached to its sides, which obeyed another small cord in the centre, by which machinery, with two holes on the ground, the earth was made to appear to open and shut.  In the cave, in the centre, was music, and the twelve water-nymphs, dressed in white silk with green sedges, so cunningly stitched on them, that nothing else could be seen.  Each carried in her hand a bundle of bulrushes, and on her head a garland of ivy and a crop of moss, from whence streamed their long golden tresses over their shoulders.  Four nymphs were to come forth successively and salute her majesty with a speech, then all twelve were to issue forth and dance with timbrels.

The show of Manhood and Desert, designed for the entertainment at Lord Surrey’s, was also placed close by.  Manhood, Favour, Desert, striving for a boy called Beauty, who, however, was to fall to the share of Good fortune.  A battle should have followed, between six gentlemen on either side, in which Fortune was to be victorious; during the combat, legs and arms of menwell and lively wrought”, were to be let p. 252fall in numbers on the groundas bloody as might be.”  Fortune marcheth off a conqueror, and a song for the death of Manhood, Favour, and Desert, concluded the programme.  But, alas! all this preparation was rendered of no avail, by reason of a drenching thunder-shower, which so “dashed and washed performers and spectators, that the pastime was reduced to the display of a dripping multitude, looking like half-drowned rats; and velvets, silks, tinsels, and cloth of gold, to no end of an amount, fell a sacrifice to this caprice of the weather.”

The evening entertainment at the guildhall was more successful, the casualties of rain and wind having no power there, to disturb the arrangements got up with so much labour and cost.  After a magnificent banquet in the common council chamber, above the assize court, a princely masque of gods and goddesses, richly apparelled, was presented before her majesty.

Mercury entered first, followed by two torch-bearers, in purple taffeta mandillions, laid with silver lace; then the musicians, dressed in long vestures of white silk girded about them, and garlands on their heads; next came Jupiter and Juno, Mars and Venus, Apollo and Pallas, Neptune and Diana, and lastly Cupid, between each couple two torch-bearers.  Thus they marched round the chamber, and Mercury delivered his message to the queen.

p. 253“The good-meaning mayor and all his brethren, with the rest, have not rested from praying to the gods, to prosper thy coming hither; and the gods themselves, moved by their unfeigned prayers, are ready in person to bid thee welcome; and I, Mercury, the god of merchants and merchandise, and therefore a favourer of the citizens, being thought meetest am chosen fittest to signify the same.  Gods there be, also, which cannot come, being tied by the time of the year, as Ceres in harvest, Bacchus in wines, Pomona in orchards.  Only Hymeneus denieth his good-will either in presence or in person; notwithstanding Diana hast so counter-checked him, therefore, as he shall hereafter be at your commandment.  For my part, as I am a rejoicer at your coming, so am I furtherer of your welcome hither, and for this time I bid you farewell.”

All then marched about again, at the close of each circuit, stopping for the gods to present each a gift to her majesty; Jupiter, a riding wand of whalebone, curiously wrought; Mars, a fair pair of knives; Venus, a white dove; Apollo, a musical instrument, called a bandonet; Pallas, a book of wisdom; Neptune, a fish; Diana, a bow and arrows, of silver; Cupid, an arrow of gold, with these lines on the shaft—

“My colour joy, my substance pure,
My virtue such as shall endure.”

p. 254The queen received the gifts with gracious condescension, listening the while to the verses recited by the gods as accompaniments.

On Friday, being the day fixed for her majesty’s departure, the devisor prepared one last grand spectacle, water spirits, to the sound of whose timbrels was spoken “her majesty’s farewell to Norwich;” and thus terminated this season of rejoicing, but not with it the results of the royal visitation.

The train of gay carriages that had formed the retinue of the fair queen, were said to have left behind them the infection of the plague; and scarcely had the last echoes of merriment and joy faded upon the ear, when the deep thrilling notes of wailing and lamentation broke forth from crushed hearts.  Death held his reign of terror, threw his black mantle of gloom over the stricken city, and wrapped its folds around each hearth and home, and banquet chamber—sunshine was followed by clouds and storm, and thunders of wrath—feast-makers, devisors, and players—Gurgunt, Mercury, Cupid, and Apollo, laid down their trappings, and in their stricken houses died alone.  The finger-writing upon the door-posts marked each smitten home with the touching prayer, “The Lord have mercy upon us!”  The insignia of the white wand borne by the infected ones, who issued forth into the streets from their tainted atmospheres, warned off communion with their fellow men, and p. 255sorrow filled all hearts;—a year of sadness and gloom followed—men’s hearts failing them for fear.  Scarcely had the plague lifted its hand from oppressing the people, ere the benumbed faculties of the woe-begone mourners were roused to fresh terror, by the grumbling murmurs of an earthquake;—storms, lightnings, hailstones, and tempests spread desolation in their course through all parts of the country in quick succession—a very age of trouble.

But turning from dark scenes of history once more to the sports and pastimes that gladdened the hearts and eyes of the good old citizens of yore, we must not fail to chronicle the famous visit of Will Kempe, the morris dancer, whose “nine days’ wonder,” or dance from London to Norwich in nine days, has been recorded by himself in a merry little pamphlet bearing internal evidence of a lightness of heart rivalling the lightness of toe that gained for him his Terpsichorean fame.  His name receives a fresh halo of interest from its association with that of one of the great ones of the earth, Will Shakespeare, in whose company of players at the Globe, Blackfriars, he was a comedian; and his signature and that of the dramatist’s stand together at the foot of a counter petition presented at the same time with one got up by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood against the continuance of plays in that house.  Kempe played Peter and Dogberry in “Romeo and Juliet,” and p. 256“Much Ado about Nothing;” also, Launce, Touchstone, Gravedigger, Justice Shallow, and Launcelot.  One feels that the morris dancer has a fresh claim upon our interest by such associations, and we look into the merry book dedicated to Mistress Anne Fitton, maid of honour to England’s maiden queen, prepared to relish heartily the frolicsome account of how he tript it merrily to the music of Thomas Slye, his taberer, gaining every where the admiration of the wondering townsfolk and villagers upon his road, receiving, and occasionally of necessity refusing, their profusely proffered hospitalities, and now and then accepting their offers to tread a measure with him at his pace, a feat that one brave and buxom lass alone was found equal to perform—one can appreciate the quiet fun in which he permits himself to indulge at the discomfiture of the followers who track his flying steps, when their running accompaniment is interrupted by the mud and mire of the unmacadamized mediæval substitutes for turnpike roads, where occasionally he dances on, leaving the volunteer corps up to their necks in some slough of despond.  Such a picture of the highways in the good old times, is consolatory to the unfortunate generation of the nineteenth century, who, among their many burdens and oppressions, can at least congratulate themselves that in respect to locomotion, the lines have fallen to them in pleasanter places.

p. 257The morris dance in its original glory was most frequently joined to processions and pageants, especially to those appropriated to the celebration of the May games.  The chief dancer was more superbly dressed than his comrades, and on these occasions was presumed to personate Robin Hood; the maid Marian, and others supposed to have been the outlaw’s companions, were the characters supported by the rest; and the hobby-horse, or a dragon, sometimes both, made a part of the display.

It was by some supposed to have been imported from the Moors, and was probably a kind of Pyrrhic or military dance, usually performed with staves and bells attached to the feet, each of which had its several tone and name; the men who danced it, when in full character, were accompanied by a boy dressed as a girl, and styled the maid Marion (or Morian, possibly from the Italian Moriane, a head piece, because his head was generally gaily decked out).

The hobby-horse was originally a necessary accompaniment of the morris dance, but the Puritans had banished it before the time of the hero Kempe,—why, or wherefore, it is difficult to imagine, as his presence, with a ladle attached to his mouth to collect the douceurs of the spectators, must have been as harmless, one would fancy, as that of the fool who succeeded him in the office.

p. 258In Edward the Fourth’s reign, we find mention made of hoblers, or persons who were obliged by tenure to send a light swift horse to carry tidings of invasion from the sea-side—light horsemen from this came to be called hoblers—and doubtless from this origin sprang the term hobby-horse—hence the allusion to men riding their hobby.

Kempe’s dance is alluded to by Ben Jonson, in his “Every Man out of his Humour.”  In his own narrative he alludes to some other similar exploit he had it in his mind to perform; but as no record exists of its accomplishment, we are left to infer that the entrance made of the death of one Will Kempe, at the time of the plague, November 1603, in the parish books of one of the metropolitan churches, refers to the merry comedian, and that his career was suddenly terminated by that unsightly foe.

In 1609, a tract with an account of a morris dance performed by twelve individuals who had attained the age of a hundred, was published, “to which,” it was added, “Kempe’s morris dance was no more than a galliord on a common stage at the end of an old dead comedy, is to a caranto danced on the ropes.”

Not long subsequent to these events, theatres became settled down into stationary objects of attraction and amusement; and in most large cities, companies were formed to conduct the business of the performances.  Among the epitaphs in the principal churchyard p. 259of the city, St. Peter’s Mancroft, are several to the memory of different individuals who had belonged to the company.  Among them, one

in memory of
late member of the norwich company.

Obiit 17 June, 1733.  Aged 32.

To me ’twas given to die, to thee ’tis given
To live; alas! one moment sets us even—
Mark how impartial is the will of Heaven.


in memory of
1743.  Aged 30.

The world’s a stage—at birth one play’s begun,
And all find exits when their parts are done.

1737.  Aged 60.
a comedian.

Here, reader, you may plainly see
That Wit nor Humour e’er could be
A proof against Mortality.

The subject of Pageantry may not be fitly closed without notice of the costly displays of magnificence that characterize the various processions and ceremonies that have become classed under the same title, although distinct altogether from the original dramatic representations to which the name belonged.  p. 260Some of these, in honour of saints and martyrs, long since dead even to the memory of enlightened Protestantism, partake more of the character of religious festivals than any thing else; and among them the annual commemoration of St. Nicholas day, by the election of the Boy Bishop, peculiarly deserves to be classed.  In olden times, on the 6th of December, it was an invariable custom for the boys of every cathedral choir to make choice of one of their number to maintain the state and authority of a bishop, from that time until the 28th, or Innocent’s day, during which period he was habited in rich episcopal robes, wore a mitre on his head, and carried a crosier in his hand; his companions assumed the dress and character of priests, yielding to their head all canonical obedience, and between them performing all the services of the church excepting mass.  On the eve of Innocent’s day, the Boy Bishop, and his youthful clergy in their caps, and with lighted tapers in their hand, went in solemn procession, chaunting and singing versicles, as they walked into the choir by the west door; the dean and canons of the Cathedral went first, the chaplains followed, and the Boy Bishop with his priests in the last and highest place.  The Boy Bishop then took his seat, and the rest of the juveniles dispersed themselves on each side the choir on the uppermost ascent.  The resident canons bearing the incense and book, the p. 261minor canons the tapers, he afterwards proceeded to the altar of the Trinity, which he censed, and then the image of the Trinity, his priests all the while singing.  They all then joined in chaunting a service with prayers and responses, and in conclusion the Boy Bishop gave his benediction to the people.  After he received the crosier, other ceremonies were performed, and he chaunted the complyn, and turning towards the choir delivered an exhortation.  If any prebends fell vacant during his episcopal power, he had the power of disposing of them; and if he died during the month he was buried in his robes, his funeral was celebrated with great pomp, and a monument was erected to his memory with his effigy.

The discovery of a monument of this character, some hundred and seventy years since, in Salisbury Cathedral, caused much amazement to the many then unread in antiquarian lore, who marvelled much at the anomalous affair, wondering however a bishop could have been so small, or a child so rich in ecclesiastical garments.

From this custom originated the but lately discontinued honours, annually awarded to the head boy in most grammar schools, who had a place in grand civic processions, and for a season at least was magnified into a great personage.

The origin of this festival, on St Nicholas day, is involved like most others in much obscurity, and p. 262buried in heaps of legendary mysticism.  The tale upon which it is said to have been founded is, that in the fourth century St. Nicholas was bishop of Myra, when two young gentlemen arrived at that city on their road to Athens, whither they were going to complete their education.  By their father’s desire they were to seek the benediction of the bishop on their way, but as it was late at night when they reached Myra, they deferred doing so till the next morning; but in the meantime the host of the inn at which they were lodging, stimulated by avarice to possess himself of their property, killed the young gentlemen, cut them in pieces, salted them, and purposed to sell them for pickled pork.

St. Nicholas, the bishop, being favoured with a sight of these proceedings in a vision, (or, as we should now-a-days express it, by clairvoyance) went to the inn, reproached the cruel landlord for his crime, who, confessing it, entreated the saint to pray to heaven for his pardon.  The bishop, moved by his entreaties, besought pardon for him, and restoration of life to the children.  He had scarcely finished, when the pickled pieces re-united, and the animated youths threw themselves from the brine-tub at the bishop’s feet; he raised them up, exhorted them to ascribe the praise to God alone, and sent them forward on their journey, with much good counsel.

Such is the miracle handed down as the cause of p. 263the adoption of Saint Nicholas as the patron saint of children.  The Eton Montem is considered to be a corruption of the ceremony of electing a boy-bishop, probably changed at the time of the suppression of the religious festivals at the Reformation.

One other pageant, more especially connected with the history of a manufacturing city, is the procession of Bishop Blaize, or St. Blazius, the great patron saint of wool-combers; in which usually figured Jason, the hero of the “golden fleece,” and forty Argonauts on horseback, the emblems of the expedition, preceded by Hercules, Peace, Plenty, and Britannia.  These were followed by the bishop, dressed in episcopal costume, crowned with a mitre of wool, drawn in an open chariot by six horses, and attended by vergers, bands of music, the city standard, a chaplain, and orators delivering, at intervals, grandiloquent speeches.  Seven companies of wool-combers on foot, and five on horseback, brought up the rear; shepherds, shepherdesses, tastefully attired in fancy costumes, added to the brilliancy of the display.  Bishop Blazius, the principal personage in the festivity, was Bishop of Sebesta, in Armenia, and the reputed inventor of the art of combing wool.  The Romish church canonized the saint, and attributed to his miraculous interposition many wondrous miracles.  Divers charms, also, for extracting thorns from the body, or a bone from the throat, were prescribed to be uttered in his name.

p. 264Among the festivals that lay claim to antiquity, of which some faint traces, at least, are left in the observances of the nineteenth century, are some few that belong as much to the history of the present as the past, and must not be omitted in sketches of the characteristic features of an old city.  The Fair—the great annual gatherings of wooden houses and wooden horses, tin trumpets, and spice nuts, Diss bread, and gingerbread—menageries of wild natural history, and caravans of tame unnatural collections, giants, dwarfs, albinos, and lusus naturæ of every conceivable deformity—of things above the earth and under the earth, in the sea and out of the sea—of panoramas, dioramas—wax-works, with severable heads and moving countenances—of Egyptian tents, with glass factories in miniature concealed within their mystic folds, under the guidance of the glass-wigged alchemist, the presiding genius—performing canaries, doing the Mr. and Mrs. Caudle, and firing off pistols—pert hares playing on the tambourine, and targets and guns to be played with for prizes of nuts, and whirligigs and rocking-boats—the avenues of sailcloth, with their linings of confectionary, toys, basket-work, and ornamental stationery—the gong and the drum, and the torrents of Cheap-Jack eloquence, mingling with the music of the leopard-clad minstrels of the zoological departments;—dear is the holiday to the hearts, and memories, and anticipations, of p. 265many an enlightened infant of this highly developed age;—as dear, and welcome, and thrilling, in its confusion of noise, and bewilderment of colour, as ever of old, to the children of larger growth, who, in the infancy of civilization, were wont to find in them their primers of learning, arts, and sciences.

When trade was principally carried on by means of fairs, and they lasted many days, the merchants who frequented them for business purposes, used every art and means to draw people together, and were therefore accompanied, we are told, by jugglers, minstrels, and buffoons; and as then few public amusements or spectacles were established, either in cities or towns, the fair-time was almost the only season of diversion.  The clergy, finding that the entertainments of dancing, music, mimicry, &c. exhibited at them, drew people from their religious duties, in the days of their power proscribed them—but to no purpose; and failing in their efforts, with the ingenuity that characterized their age and profession, changed their tastes, and took the recreations into their own hands, turned actors and play-writers themselves, and substituted the Religious Mysteries for the profane punchinellos and juggleries that have since, in later times, resumed their sway, undisputed by any ecclesiastical rivals for popular applause in the dramatic line.

Among other sports that formed the attractions to p. 266the Fair in olden times, was the Quintain, a game of contest, memorable in the annals of the city, as having on one occasion, in the reign of Edward I., been made the opportunity of commencing hostilities of a far more formidable nature and protracted extent than the occasion itself could warrant, or be presumed to cause.

The Quintain was a post fixed strongly in the ground, with a piece of wood, about six feet long, laid across it on the top, placed so as to turn round; on one end of this cross-piece was hung a bag, containing a hundred-weight of sand, which was called the Quintal; at the other end was fixed a board about a foot square, at which the player, who was mounted on horseback, with a truncheon, pole, or sort of tilting-spear, ran direct with force; if he was skilful, the board gave way, and he passed on before the bag reached him, in which feat lay success; but if he hit the board, but was not expert enough to escape, the bag swung round, and striking him, often dismounted him; to miss the board altogether was, however, the greatest disgrace.  The quarrel alluded to, arose ostensibly about the truncheons, but it was supposed really to have been at the instigation of other persons, both on the part of the monastery and city.

Tombland Fair stands not quite alone as a memorial of ancient festivals held in honour of patron saints—one other day in the year stands forth in the p. 267calendar of juvenile and mature enjoyments, unrivalled in its claim upon our notice and our love.  St. Valentine, that “man of most admirable parts, so famous for his love and charity that the custom of choosing valentines upon his festival took its rise from thence,” as Wheatley tells us,—is yet, even to this hour, held in high honour, and most gloriously commemorated in this good old city, and in so unique a fashion, that a few words may not suffice to give a true delineation of it.  The approach of the happy day is heralded, in these days of steam-presses and local journals, by monster-typed advertisements, gigantically headed “Valentines,” or huge labels, bearing the same mystic letters, carefully arranged in the midst of gorgeously-decked windows, towards which young eyes turn in glistening hope and admiration; and at sight of which little hearts beat high with eager expectation.  Not of Cupids, and hearts, and darts, and such like merry conceits on fairy-mottoed note paper, doth the offerings of St. Valentine consist in this good old mart of commerce;—far more real and substantial are the samples of taste, ornament, and use, that rank themselves in the category of his gifts.  The jeweller’s front, radiant with gold and precious gems, and frosted silver, and ruby-eyed oxydized owls, Russian malachite fashioned into every conceivable fantasy of invention, brooches, bracelets, crosses, studs masculine and feminine, chatelaines p. 268ditto, and not a few of epicene characteristics, betokening the signs of the times,—all claim to rank under the title.  The Drapers—especially the “French depots,” with their large assortments on shew, in remote bazaars appropriated exclusively to the business of the festive season, where labyrinths of dressing-cases, desks, work-boxes, inkstands, and portfeuilles, usurp the place of lawful mercery, and haberdashery for the time being yields place to stationery, perfumery, bijouterie, and cutlery, proclaim the triumphs of his reign in their midst.  But supreme above all, are the glories that the toy-shops display, from the gay balcony-fronted repository for all the choicest inventions science, skill, or wit can devise, at once to please the fancy, help the brain, tax the ingenuity of childhood, or dazzle the eye of babyhood, downwards through the less recherché, but scarcely less thronged marts, a grade below in price and quality, to the very huckster’s stall or apple booth, that shall for the time being add its quota of penny whips, tin trumpets, and long-legged, brittle-jointed, high-combed Dutch ladies, whose proportions exhibit any thing but the contour usually described as a “Dutch build.”  Nor these alone—the shoemaker’s, with its newly-acquired treasures of gutta percha knick-knacks, flower-pots, card-trays, inkstands, picture-frames, boxes, caddies, medallions, and what-not that is useful and ornamental, in addition to shoe-soles p. 269with a propensity to adhere to hot iron, and betray by deeply indented gutters the impress of any new bright-topped fender on which they have chanced to trespass—all, all, are offerings at the shrine of good St. Valentine; how, when, and where, we have yet to see.

One peep behind these plate-glassed drop scenes—one visit to the toy-shop—it is an event—a circumstance to be chronicled—even the quiet, mild, and self-possessed proprietress of all the wealth of fun and fashion, use and ornament, and zoology, from the rocking-horse down to the Chinese spider, and Noah’s ark to lady-birds, for once looks heated and tired; and one feels impelled to cheer the kind-hearted, gentle matron, by reminding her, that her toil will be repaid tenfold, by pleasant thoughts of the myriad shouts of welcome and heartfelt glee that, ere long, will have been hymned forth in praise of the perfection of her taste.

Her labours and toils would seem scarcely to surpass those of her purchasers.  The perplexity and labyrinth of doubt and difficulty they find themselves in is truly pitiable; the annual return of a festival when every body, from grandpapa and grandmamma to baby bo, is expected to receive and give some offering commemorative of the season, causes, in time, a considerable difficulty in the choice of gifts, and added to the mystifications of memory as to who has p. 270what? and what hasn’t who? produces a perfect bewilderment.  The fluctuations between dominoes, bats and traps, dolls, la gràce, draughts, chess, rocks of Scilly, German tactics, fox and geese, printing machines, panoramas, puzzles, farmy-ards, battledores, doll’s houses, compasses, knitting cases, and a myriad others, seem interminable—but an end must come, and the purchaser and seller find rest.

But all this toil is but the prelude to the grand act of the drama; Valentine’s eve arrived, the play begins in earnest.  The streets swarm with carriers, and baskets laden with treasures—bang, bang, bang go the knockers, and away rushes the banger, depositing first upon the door-step some package from the basket of stores—again and again at intervals, at every door to which a missive is addressed, is the same repeated till the baskets are empty.  Anonymously St. Valentine presents his gifts, labelled only with “St. Valentine’s” love, and “Good morrow, Valentine.”

Then within the houses of destination—the screams, the shouts, the rushings to catch the bang bangs—the flushed faces, sparkling eyes, rushing feet to pick up the fairy gifts—inscriptions to be interpreted, mysteries to be unravelled, hoaxes to be found out—great hampers, heavy, and ticketed “With care, this side upwards,” to be unpacked, out of which jump live little boys with St. Valentine’s love to the little ladies fair—p. 271the sham bang bangs, that bring nothing but noise and fun—the mock parcels that vanish from the door step by invisible strings when the door opens—monster parcels that dwindle to thread-papers denuded of their multiplied envelopes, with pithy mottoes, all tending to the final consummation of good counsel, “Happy is he who expects nothing, and he will not be disappointed!”  It is a glorious night, marvel not that we would perpetuate so joyous a festivity.  We love its mirth, the memory of its smiles and mysteries of loving kindness, its tender reverential tributes to old age, and time-tried friendship, amid the throng of sprightlier festal offerings, that mark the season in our hearths and homes, as sacred to a love so pure, so true, and holy, that good St. Valentine himself may feel justly proud of such commemoration.

How and when this peculiar mode of celebrating the festival arose it would be difficult perhaps to discover.  In olden times, as we find by the diary of Dr. Browne, the more prevalent custom of drawing valentines on the eve before Valentine day was in vogue; but Forby’s “Vocabulary of East Anglia” makes mention of a practice which doubtless has become developed in the course of time into the elaborate and costly celebration of the present day.  He says, “In Norfolk it is the custom for children to ‘catch’ each other for valentines; and if there are elderly persons in the family who are likely to be liberal, p. 272great care is taken to catch them.  The mode of catching is by saying ‘Good morrow, Valentine,’ and if they can repeat this before they are spoken to, they are rewarded with a small present.  It must be done, however, before sunrise; otherwise instead of a reward, they are told they are sunburnt.”  He adds a query—Does this illustrate the phrase sunburned, in “Much Ado about Nothing”?

The universal respect in which the anniversary of St. Valentine is held, may perhaps be most justly estimated by the statistical facts that relate to the post-office transactions for that day, in comparison with the average amount of the daily transmissions; and each district has probably some peculiar mode of celebrating it,—but nowhere, we imagine, does its annual return leave behind it such pleasing and substantial memorials as in our “Old City.”  Douce, in his “Illustrations of Shakespeare,” would have us believe that the observances of St. Valentine’s day had their origin in the festivals of ancient Rome during the month of February, when they celebrated the “Lupercalia,” or feasts in honour of Pan and Juno, sometimes called Februalis, on which occasion, amidst a variety of other ceremonies, the names of young men and maidens were put into a box, and drawn as chance directed.  The pastors of the early church, in their endeavours to eradicate the vestiges of popular superstitions, substituted the names of p. 273saints for those of the young maidens, and as the Lupercalia commenced in February, affixed the observance to the feast of St. Valentine in that month, thus preserving the outline of the ancient ceremony, to which the people were attached, modified by an adaptation to the Christian system.

Time, however, would seem to have restored the maidens to their original position.  Brande has given many curious details of the various modes of celebrating the anniversary, in addition to the universal interchange of illuminated letters and notes.  In Oxfordshire the children go about collecting pence, singing,

“Good morrow, Valentine,
First ’tis yours, then ’tis mine,
So please give me a Valentine.”

In some other counties the poorer classes of children dress themselves fantastically, and visit the houses of the great, singing,

“Good morning to you, Valentine,
Curl your locks as I do mine,
Two before and three behind—
Good morrow to you, Valentine.”

In other parts the first member of the opposite sex that is seen by any individual is said to be his or her “Valentine.”  This is the case in Berkshire and some other of the neighbouring counties.  Pepys, in his “Diary,” says, “St. Valentine’s day, 1667.  This morning p. 274came up to my wife’s bedside, I being up dressing myself, little Will Mercer, to be her Valentine, and brought her name written upon blue paper in gold letters done by himself very pretty; and we were both well pleased with it.  But I am also this year my wife’s Valentine, which will cost me £5—but that I must have laid out if we had not been Valentines.”  He afterwards adds, “I find that Mrs. Pierce’s little girl is my Valentine, she having drawn me, which I was not sorry for, it easing me of something more I must have given to others.  But here I do first observe the fashion of drawing of mottoes as well as names; so that Pierce who drew my wife, did also draw a mottoe, and this girl drew another for me.  What mine was I forget; but my wife’s was, ‘Most courteous and most fair.’  One wonder I observed to-day, that there was no music in the morning to call up our new-married people, which is very mean methinks.”  The custom of presenting gifts seems then to have been practised.

In the “British Apollo,” 1708, a sort of “Notes and Queries” of the day, we read,

“Why Valentine’s a day to choose
A mistress, and our freedom lose?
May I my reason interpose,
The question with an answer close;
To imitate we have a mind,
And couple like the winged kind.”

In the same work, “1709, Query.—In choosing p. 275Valentines (according to custom), is not the party choosing (be it man or woman) to make a present to the party chosen?  Answer.—We think it more proper to say drawing of Valentines, since the most customary way is for each to take his or her lot, and chance cannot be termed choice.  According to this method the obligations are equal, and, therefore, it was formerly the custom mutually to present, but now it is customary only for the gentlemen.”  In Scotland presents are reciprocally made on the day.

Gay has given a poetical description of some rural ceremonies used in the morning:

“Last Valentine, the day when birds of kind
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find,
I early rose, just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chased the stars away;
A-field I went amid the morning dew,
To milk my kine (for so should house-wives do).
The first I spied, and the first swain we see,
In spite of Fortune shall our true love be.”

The following curious practice on Valentine’s day or eve is mentioned in the “Connoisseur.”  “Last Friday was Valentine’s day, and the night before I got five bay leaves, and pinned four of them to the corners of my pillow, and the fifth in the middle; and then if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out.  But to make it more sure, I boiled an egg hard, and took out the yolk and filled it with salt; and when I p. 276went to bed, eat it shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it.  We also wrote the names of our lovers upon bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay and put them into water, and the first that rose up was to be our Valentine.”

The popular tradition, that the birds select mates on this day, is the last subject to be mentioned.  Shakespeare alludes to it in the “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

      “St. Valentine is past;
Begin these wood birds but to couple now.”

Cowper’s “Fable,” who cannot call to mind? and its moral may close our notice of St. Valentine’s day.

“Misses, the tale that I relate,
This lesson seems to carry—
Choose not alone a proper mate,
But proper time to marry?”

The list of pageantries and festivals must now close, with an attempt to chronicle the glories of a modern “chairing day;” and the more imperative does it seem to find a place in history for this last stray sunbeam of mediæval splendour, that it bids fair, amidst the growth of sobriety in this utilitarian age, to share all, too soon, the fate of its ancestors, who found their grave in the first “dissolution” and after-flood of Puritanism.  There may be who would liken this relic of pageantry to a lingering mote of feudalism, that the penetrating broom of reform had p. 277done well to sweep from the pathway of a “free and enlightened people;” who would hint that the old custom is more honoured in the breach than the observance; and towards their opinion seems to incline that of the chief performers in the modern “mystery”—the M.P. himself, whose nerves, proprieties, and objections have unitedly rebelled against submission to these antiquated practices of this antiquated place.  It is therefore scarcely what is, but what has been, that we have to commemorate in our detail.

When the onerous duty of selecting a representative of the people’s voice, wishes, and will in the councils of the nation has been completed by the calm, deliberate, dispassionate, and disinterested decision of the enfranchised tithe of the city’s populace, the successful candidates are, or were, wont to receive installation from the hands of their constituents by a “toss up,” not, we would inform our countrymen of the “sheeres,” (meaning all other counties save Norfolk, Suffolk, and Kent)—not that they engage in any little gambling speculation, such as is usually known under a similar name, but that they are required to submit to be made shuttlecocks for some few hours, for the amusement of the admiring multitude; and seeing that the fun and frolic thus afforded is, or was, the sole share of nine-tenths of the population in the transaction of electing the “unruly member” that is to speak the hopes, wants, p. 278dissatisfactions, and grumblings of a large city, it may seem somewhat hard to them that they should be deprived of it.  The order of carrying out this provincial mode of installation, consists in forming a grand procession, as it is called, made up of as many carriages and horsemen as the stables of the city and neighbourhood, private and public, may contrive to turn out, the colour and popularity of the candidate of course exercising its influence upon quantity and quality.  The days of velvet doublets and liveries of silver and gold being passed, the candidate makes no pretensions to display in the toilettes of the gentlemen—plain, sober black predominates throughout the mass; no shadow of a variation, save and except in the “dramatis personæ,” who take their stand upon the battledores provided for them, arrayed in full court costume or regimentals, as the case may be.  To particularize more closely, it should be stated, that the battledores, as we have chosen to designate them, are wooden platforms, borne upon the shoulders of some two or three dozen men; the platform supports a chair elaborately ornamented, blue and silver, or purple and orange, as the successful candidates may be blues or purples—Whigs or Tories.  Besides the chair, the platform supports the fortunate M.P. himself, standing, aided in balancing himself in the elevated pinnacle of glory to which he has attained, by the back or elbows of the p. 279chair, which piece of luxury, we presume, must be intended solely as a symbol of the easy berth in prospect, since throughout the long sunny scorching perambulations of city streets and market-place, it may seldom, if ever, be ventured to be indulged in as a resting place.  Meantime, every window, balcony, house-top, church-tower, and parapet-wall, has been lined with anxious and eager lookers-on—every space and avenue leading to or adjoining the line of march has been thronged; flags, banners, &c. &c., have been marshalled into the procession, whose pathway is cleared and protected by a locomotive body-guard of posse men, bearing horizontally in their hands long poles, which are presumed to act as barriers to the encroachments of the multitude without the pale.  The line of procession once formed, in due order they make their triumphal progress, bowing, smiling, and trembling on their elevations, as they draw near to the thronging frontage of any loyal constituent, whose colours are a signal for the game to commence.  Up, then, goes the M.P. high in the air,—once, twice, thrice, again and again, fortunate and clever if he comes down perpendicularly.  Perfection and elegance in the peculiar pas de seal requires much practice and many experiments; but as the move is repeated very frequently, at very short intervals, during the progress round the city, possibly one experience may suffice in a p. 280life-time.  The exhibition is occasionally closed by the bearers of the two candidates making a match with each other as to who can toss longest and highest, which done, the victimized shuttlecocks and the delighted spectators are permitted to retire.  The origin of this very singular act of homage is not very clear; but as one or two recent outbursts of popular enthusiasm have manifested themselves in a similar form—to wit, laying violent hands upon a popular favourite and tossing him in the air, with neither platform or chair to lend grace to the proceeding—we must suppose that some traditionary virtue is attached to the act; and this supposition is somewhat confirmed by the fact that a superstitious practice of “lifting” or “heaving,” very similar in its mode of operation, is still observed on Easter Monday and Tuesday in some other English counties.  The men and women on these days alternately exercise the privilege of seizing and “lifting” any member of the opposite sex that they may chance to meet, and claim a fee for the honour.  In the records of the Tower of London, may be found a document purporting to set forth how such payment was made to certain ladies and maids of honour for “taking” (or “lifting”) King Edward I. at Easter, a custom then prevalent throughout the kingdom.  Brande gives an amusing account of an occurrence in Shrewsbury, extracted from a letter from Mr. p. 281Thomas Loggan, of Basinghall Street.  He says, “I was sitting alone last Easter Tuesday at breakfast, at the Talbot, in Shrewsbury, when I was surprised by the entrance of all the female servants of the house handing in an arm-chair, lined with white, and decorated with ribbons and favours of all kinds.  I asked them what they wanted; they said they came to ‘heave’ me; it was the custom of their place, and they hoped I would take a seat in the chair.  It was impossible not to comply with a request so modestly made by a set of nymphs in their best apparel, and several of them under twenty.  I wished to see all the ceremony, and seated myself accordingly; the group then lifted me from the ground, turned the chair about, and I had the felicity of a salute from each.  I told them I supposed there was a fee due, and was answered in the affirmative; and having satisfied the damsels in this respect, they retired to ‘heave’ others.”

The usage is said to be a vulgar commemoration of the event which the festival of Easter celebrates.  Lancashire, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire still retain the Easter custom.

Whether or not the notable Norfolk “chairing” takes its origin from the same is open to question; possibility there is without doubt that it does so.  Be it as it may, it must, we fear, be numbered among the departed joys of the poor folks.


Superstitions.—Witchcraft.—Heard’s Ghost.—Wise Men and Women.—Sayings by Mrs. Lubbock.—Prophecies.—Treasure Trove.—Confessions of Sir William Stapleton and Sir Edward Neville.—Cardinal Wolsey supposed to have been conversant with Magic.—Effect of Superstition on the Great and Noble in Early Times.

Forby, in his “Vocabulary of East Anglia,” has described the whole of this district of the country as barren of superstitions or legendary lore.  Its characteristics are adverse to the growth of that natural poetry in the minds of the people which gives birth to nymphs, water-sprites, elves, or demons.  It has neither woods, mountains, rocks, caverns, nor waterfalls, to be the nurseries of such genii; its plains are cultivated, its rivers navigable, its hills and valleys furrowed by the plough, even to the very basement of any lingering ruin of tower or steeple that may be scattered amongst them.  How much more, therefore, may we expect to find a dearth of such literature in the heart of the great city, where the struggles p. 283of working-day life among looms and factories, leave little time or room for aught else than the stern realities of existence to be known or felt?

But every where there exist some fragments of superstition, poetical or uncouth; and we may not feel surprise that among such a people as the lower orders of society, in an East Anglian manufacturing city, they should bear little trace of the refinement which beautiful and romantic scenery and occupation are wont in other scenes to throw over them.  Rarely do we hear of a haunted house, or a walking ghost; but not unseldom do we see the horse-shoe nailed over the door-way of the cottage, as an antidote to the power of witchcraft,—nor is it uncommon to hear among the poor, of charms to cure diseases, of divinations by wise men and wise women, who by mystic rites pretend to discover lost or stolen property,—nor even of animals bewitched, exercising direful influence over the lives and health of human beings.  Within the limits of this age of enlightenment and civilization, many are the recorded facts of this nature, and many more of continual recurrence might be added, in illustration of the truth, that the lowest and grossest forms of vulgar superstition yet lurk about in the purlieus and by-ways of the old city.

Not long since, a woman, holding quite a respectable rank among the working classes, and in her way a perfect “character” avowed herself determined p. 284“to drown’d the cat,” as soon as ever her baby, which was lying ill, should die; for which determination the only explanation she could offer was, that the cat jumped upon the nurse’s lap, as the baby lay there, soon after it was born, from which time it ailed, and ever since that time, the cat had regularly gone under its bed once a day and coughed twice.  These mysterious actions of poor “Tabby,” were assigned as the cause of the baby wasting, and its fate was to be sealed as soon as that of the poor infant was decided.  That the baby happened to be the twenty-fourth child of his mother, who had succeeded in rearing four only of the two dozen, was a fact that seemed to possess no weight whatever in her estimation.  The same strong-minded individual, for in many respects she is wonderfully strong-minded, scruples not to avow greater faith in the magical properties of red wool, tied round a finger or an arm, in curing certain ailments of the frame, than in many a remedy prescribed by “doctor’s” skill; nor has the theoretical belief been altogether unsupported by practice; on more than one occasion, she will aver, her own life has thus been saved.

As for divinations and charms, to doubt their faith in them would be to discredit the evidence of our senses.  A poor washerwoman, but a few years since, who possessed more honesty than wisdom, happened to lose some linen belonging to one of her employers.  p. 285Suspecting it to have been stolen, she repaired to a wise man, who, of course, succeeded in convincing her, upon the payment of half-a-crown, that her surmise was correct; but as it helped her no further towards its recovery, it only added to the expense her honesty prompted her to go to, to replace it, which she secretly contrived to do, and offered it to her employer, with a statement of the facts.

These are but faint specimens of the “vulgar errors” that are every day to be met with among the citizens, oftentimes attested more by deeds than words; for many will in secret consult the wise people, and pay them well, who would still shrink from openly acknowledging faith in their revelations or predictions.

Though haunted houses are rare, there still are some known to exist;—one respectable, elderly maiden, yet amongst us, has veritable tales of refractory spirits, that took twelve clergymen to read them down, and of one who haunted some particular closet, where at last he submitted to priestly authority, a cable and a hook being firmly fixed in the floor of the closet to bind him.  We rather fancy some of the other legends that we have heard from the same authority, are but variations of the story of Heard’s spirit, that haunted the Alder Carr Fen Broad, which assumed the appearance of a Jack-o’-Lantern, and refused to be “laid!” the gentlemen who attempted it failing, because he always kept a verse p. 286ahead of them, until a boy brought a couple of pigeons, and laid down before the Will-o’-the-wisp, who, looking at them, lost his verse, and then they succeeded in binding his spirit.

This, and many other tales, have been collected by the rector of the parish of Irstead, from an old woman living there; and they contain so much that is amusing, that we cannot forbear repeating them for the benefit of those who have not had the opportunity of seeing the papers of the Archæological Society.  Mrs. Lubbock is an old washerwoman, who, left a widow with several children, has maintained herself “independently” up to her eightieth year, without applying even for out-door parish relief, until the cold winter of 1846 made her, as she expresses it, sick for crumbs like the birds.  Education she has had none, that is, of book learning, but she seems to have had a father, given to anecdote, from whom she professes to have heard most of the “saws” and tales of which she has such a profusion.  She mentions the practice, among her acquaintance, of watching the church porch on St. Mark’s eve, when, at midnight, the watcher may see all his acquaintance enter the church: those who were to die remained, those who were to marry went in couples and came out again.  This, one Staff had seen; but he would not tell the names of those who were to die or be married.

p. 287On Christmas-eve, she says, at midnight the cows and cattle rise and turn to the east; and the horses in the stable, as far as their halters permit.  She says that a farmer once observing the reverent demeanour of the horse, who will leisurely stay some time upon his knees moving his head about and blowing over the manger, remarked, “Ah, they have more wit than we;” which brings to mind an anecdote, related by an ear witness, of a controversy that took place in this city among some cattle-drovers, when an Irishman and Roman Catholic supported the claims of his religion by commenting upon the invariable practice amongst those of his own class, of saying their prayers before retiring to rest; whereas, added he, “among you Protestants the horse is the only real Christian that I ever met with, who kneels before he goes to sleep and when he gets up.”  That there is too much ground for the satire no one can doubt.

The Rosemary is said to flower on old Christmas-day, and Mrs. Lubbock says that she recollects, on one occasion, a great argument about which was the real Christmas-day, and to settle the point three men agreed to decide by watching that plant.  They gathered a bunch at eleven o’clock at night of the old Christmas-day; it was then in bud.  They threw it upon the table, and did not look at it until after midnight, when they went in, and found the bloom just dropping off.

p. 288Concerning the weather, she says, when a sundog (or two black spots to be seen by the naked eye) comes on the south side of the sun, there will be fair weather; when on the north, there will be foul.  “The sun then fares to be right muddled and crammed down by the dog.”

Of the moon, she says—

“Saturdays new and Sundays full
Never was good, and never wull.

“If you see the old moon with the new, there will be stormy weather.

“If it rains on a Sunday before mass,
It rains all the week, more or less.

“If it rains on a Sunday before the church doors are open, it will rain all the week, more or less; or else we shall have three rainy Sundays.

“If it rains the first Thursday after the moon comes in, it will rain, more or less, all the while the moon lasts, especially on Thursdays.

“If there be bad weather, and the sun does not shine all the week, it will always show forth some time on the Saturday.

“It will not be a hard winter when acorns abound, and there are no hips nor haws:

“If Noah’s Ark shows many days together,
There will be foul weather.

“On three nights in the year it never lightens (i.e. clears up) anywhere; and if a man knew those nights, he would not turn a dog out.

p. 289“We shall have a severe winter when the swallows and martins take great pains to teach their young ones to fly; they are going a long journey, to get away from the cold that is coming.  It is singular they should know this, but they do.

“The weather will be fine when the rooks play pitch-halfpenny—i.e. when, flying in flocks, some of them stoop down and pick up worms, imitating the action of a boy playing pitch-halfpenny.

“There will be severe winter and deep snow when snow-banks (i.e. white fleecy clouds) hang about the sky.”

In 1845, she knew there would be a failure of some crop, “because the evening star rode so low.  The leading star (i.e. the last star in the Bear’s Tail) was above it all the summer the potato blight occurred.”  She feared the failure would have been in the wheat, till she saw the man’s face in it, and then she was comfortable, and did not think of any other crop.  Her opinion was, that the potato blight was caused by the lightning, because the turf burnt so sulphurously.  “The lightning,” she says, “carries a burr round the moon, and makes the roke (fog) rise in the marshes, and smell strong.”

A failure in the “Ash Keys,” she pronounces a sign of a change in the government.

“If the hen moult before the cock,
We get a winter as hard as a rock;
p. 290If the cock moult before the hen,
We get a winter like a spring.

“She put plenty of salt in the water while washing clothes, to keep the thunder out, and to keep away foul spirits.”

Of Good Friday, she says,

“If work be done on that day, it will be so unlucky, that it will have to be done over again.”

The story of Heard’s Ghost she accompanies by an anecdote of one Finch, of Neatishead, who was walking along the road after dark, and saw a dog which he thought was Dick Allard’s, that had snapped and snarled at him at different times.  Thinks he, “you have upset me two or three times; I will upset you now.  You will not turn out of the road for me; and I will not turn out of the road for you.”  Along came the dog, straight in the middle of the road, and Finch kicked at him, and his foot went through him, as through a sheet of paper—he could compare it to nothing else; he was quite astounded, and nearly fell backwards from the force of the kick.

She says that she has heard that the spirits of the dead haunt the places where treasures were hid by them when living, and that those of the Roman Catholics still frequent the spots where their remains were disturbed, and their graves and monuments destroyed.  Alas! what a ghost-besieged city must poor Norwich be in such a case!

p. 291Of the cuckoo, she says, “When evil is coming, he sings low among the bushes, and can scarcely get his “cuckoo” out.  In the last week before he leaves, he always tells all that will happen in the course of the year till he comes again—all the shipwrecks, storms, accidents, and everything.  If any one is about to die suddenly, or to lose a relation, he will light upon touchwood, or a rotten bough, and “cuckoo.”

“He is always here three months to a day, and sings all the while.  The first of April is the proper day for him to come, and when he does so, there is sure to be a good and early harvest.  If he does not come till May, then the harvest is into October.  If he sings long after midsummer, there will be a Michaelmas harvest.  If any one hears the cuckoo first when in bed, there is sure to be illness or death to him or one of his family.”

Among her saws are—

“Them that ever mind the world to win,
Must have a black cat, a howling dog, and a crowing hen.

“If youth could know what age do crave,
Sights of pennies youth would save.

“They that wive
Between sickle and scythe,
Shall never thrive.”

With reference to howling dogs, she says, “Pull off your left shoe and turn it, and it will quiet him.  I always used to do so when I was in service.  I hated to hear the dogs howl.  There was no tax then, p. 292and the farmers kept a heap of them.  They won’t howl three times after the turning the shoe; if you are in bed, turn the shoe upside down by the bedside.”

Among the historical prophecies of Mother Shipton and Mother Bunch, her sister, as remembered by her, are—

That Mrs. Shipton foretold that the time should come when ships should go without sails, and carriages without horses, and the sun should shine upon hills that never see the sun before; all which are fulfilled, Mrs. Lubbock thinks, by steamers, railways, and cuttings through hills, which let in upon them the light of the sun.

Mrs. Shipton also foretold that we should know the summer from the winter only by the green leaves, it should be so cold.  “That the Roman Catholics shall have this country again, and make England a nice place once more.  But as for these folks, they scarce know how to build a church, nor yet a steeple.

“That England shall be won and lost three times in one day; and that, principally, through an embargo to be laid upon vessels.

“That there is to come a man who shall have three thumbs on one hand, who is to hold the king’s horse in battle; he is to be born in London, and be a miller by business.  The battle is to be fought at Rackheath-stone p. 293Hill, on the Norwich road.  Ravens shall carry the blood away, it will be so clotted.

“That the men are to be killed, so that one man shall be left to seven women; and the daughters shall come home, and say to their mothers, “Lawk, mother, I have seen a man!”  The women shall have to finish the harvest.

“That the town of Yarmouth shall become a nettle-bush; that the bridges shall be pulled up, and small vessels sail to Irstead and Barton Broads.

“That blessed are they that live near Potter Heigham, and double-blessed them that live in it.”  (That parish seems destined to be the scene of some great and glorious events.)  May the blessing prove true!

We here close our extracts from Mrs. Lubbock’s Norfolk sayings, and now go back to superstitions of earlier date, that are so connected with Kett’s rebellion as to make them peculiarly interesting as matters of history.  During the wars of the Roses, predictions of wars and rebellions, not unfrequently proclaiming hostility towards the privileged classes, were very common.  Both persons and places were often designated by strange hieroglyphical symbols, frequently taken from heraldic badges and bearings, or analogies extremely puzzling to explain.  They are alluded to in Shakespeare’s “Henry the Fourth,” among the incitements that urged Hotspur to anger, and Owen Glendower to rebellion, and recorded by p. 294Hall, who says in his Chrouicle, “that a certain writer writeth that the Earl of March, the Lord Percy, and Owen Glendower, were made believe, by a Welsh prophecier, that King Henry was the moldewarpe (mole) cursed of God’s own mouth, and that they three were the dragon, the lion, and the wolf which should divide the realm between them.”  This prophecy was doubtless identical with that published in 1652, under the title of “Strange Prophecies of Merlin,” where it is said, “Then shall the proudest prince in all Christendom go through Shropham Dale to Lopham Ward, where the White Lion shall meet with him, and fight in a field under Ives Minster, at South Lopham, where the prince aforesaid shall be slain under the minster wall, to the great grief of the priests all; then there shall come out of Denmark a Duke, and he shall bring with him the King of Denmark and sixteen great lords in his company, by whose consent he shall be crowned king in a town of Northumberland, and he shall reign three months and odd days.  They shall land at Waborne Stone; they shall be met by the Red Deere, the Heath Cock, the Hound, and the Harrow: between Waborne and Branksbrim, a forest and a church gate, there shall be fought so mortal a battle, that from Branksbrim to Cromer Bridge it shall run blood; then shall the King of Denmark be slain, and all the perilous fishes in his company.  Then shall the duke come forth manfully to Clare p. 295Hall, where the bare and the headlesse men shall meet him and slay all his lords, and take him prisoner, and send him to Blanchflower, and chase his men to the sea, where twenty thousand of them shall be drowned without dint of the sword.  Then shall come in the French king, and he shall land at Waborne Hope, eighteen miles from Norwich: there he shall be let in by a false mayor, and that shall he keep for his lodging for awhile; then at his return shall he be met at a place called Redbanke, thirty miles from Westchester, where at the first affray shall be slain nine thousand Welchmen and the double number of enemies.”

These sort of predictions, often accompanied by symbolical illustrations, continued to gain popularity, and were made use of at various periods to serve the purposes of the people.  Sir Walter Scott’s “Essays on the Prophecies of Thomas the Rhymer,” shew the application made of them in the time of the Stuarts.  In the reign of Henry VIII., they excited so much alarm, as to cause an act to be passed, which declared, “that if any person should print, write, speak, sing, or declare to any other person, of the king or any other person, any such false prophecies upon occasion of any arms, fields, beasts, fowls, or such like things, they shall be deemed guilty of felony, without benefit of the clergy.”

The confession of Richard Byshop, of Bungay, when p. 296arraigned before the Privy Council a few years prior to the date of the above act, shews upon what grounds the fear it expresses was founded.

The confession of Richard Byshop, of Bungay.

“Memorandum: that the said Richard Byshop saith, that he met with one Robert Seyman, at Tyndale Wood, the 11th day of May, about nine of the clock, in the twenty-ninth year of the reign of our sovereign lord King Henry the Eighth, and after such salutation as they had then, the said Richard Byshop said to the said Robert, ‘What tythings hear you?  Have you any musters about you?’  And the said Robert said ‘No.’  Then the said Richard said, ‘This is a hard world for poor men.’  And the said Robert said, ‘Truly it is so.’  Then the said Richard said, ‘Ye seem to be an honest man, and such a one as a man may open his mind unto.’  And the said Robert said, ‘I am a plain man; ye may say to me what ye woll.’  And then the said Richard said, ‘We are so used now-a-days at Bungay as was never seen afore this; for if two or three good fellows be walking together, the constables come to them, and woll know what communication they have had, or else they shall be stocked.  And as I have heard lately at Walsingham, the people had risen if one person had not been.  And as I hear say, some of them now be in Norwich Castle, and others be sent to London.’  And further, the said Richard said, p. 297‘If two men were gathered together, one might say to another what he would as long as the third man was not there; and if three men were together, if two of them were absent, the third might say what he would in surety enough.’  And he said he knew there was a certain prophecy, which if the said Robert would come to Bungay, he should hear it read; and that one man had taken pains to watch in the night to write the copy of the same.  And if so be, as the prophecy saith, there shall be a rising of the people this year or never.  And that the prophecy saith the king’s grace was signified by a mowle, and that the mowle should be subduyt and put down.  And that the said Richard did hear that the Earl of Derby was up with many; and that he should be proclaimed traitor in those parts where he dwelleth.  And also he heard, as he saith, that a great company was fled out of the land.  And that the Duke of Norfolk’s grace was in the north parts, and was so to be set about, as he heard say, that he might not come away when he would.  I pray God that it be not so.  Also he said that the prophecy saith that three kings shall meet on Mousehold Heath, and the proudest prince in Christendom be their subject.  And that the White Lion should stay all that business at length, and should obtain.  And said, ‘Farewell, my friend, and know me another day if ye can, and God send us a quiet world.’”

p. 298The same prophecies here alluded to were revived and repeated, together with many doggrel rhymes, at the time of the famous Kett’s rebellion.  The historian of the event says that they were rung in the ears of the people every hour, such as

“The county Gnoffes, Hob, Dick, and Hick,
With clubbs and clowted shoon,
   Shall fill the vale
   Of Duffin’s dale
With slaughtered bodies soon.”

And also

“The headless men within the dale,
Shall there be slain both great and small.”

So positively were these sort of prophecies applied to the circumstances of the time, that the rebels who had possession of a favourable position on the heights of the common, forsook it in expectation of realizing the prediction by coming into the valley, “believing themselves,” as the historian has it, “to be the upholsterers that were to make Duffin’s Dale a large soft pillow for death to rest on, whereas they proved only the stuffing to fill the same.”

The common phrase, “A cock and bull story,” took its origin from these symbolical prophecies, in which the figures of animals were so often introduced.

Among the records of other mediæval superstitions, p. 299are many curious details of the “invocation of spirits” to aid the searchers after “Treasure Trove,” as it was called.  In the days when “banking” was unknown, wealth oftentimes accumulated in the hands of its owners, to a degree that rendered its safe keeping a perilous task; and in very early ages it would seem to have been a common practice to commit it to the bosom of mother earth, until such time as its owner might have need of it.  The changes wrought upon the land by the several conquests that succeeded the departure of the Romans, the reputed depositors of these hidden treasures, caused the ownership to be forgotten and obscure, and by degrees all such property became the right of the crown; and to conceal any discovery of it was made an act of felony, at first punishable by death, but afterwards subjecting the perpetrator only to a pecuniary fine.

It seems, however, that in the sixteenth century, it was customary to grant licenses to individuals, to engage in the search after these hidden stores of precious stones, metal, or coins; also permission to invoke the aid of spirits in their pursuit.  Among many other quaint stories upon the subject, two especially connected with the localities in this neighbourhood claim attention here: the first is the confession of William Stapleton, a monk in the abbey of St. Bennet in the Holm, addressed to Cardinal p. 300Wolsey, and many very curious illustrations it gives of the superstitious feeling of the time; the other is that of Sir Edward Neville, who was arraigned, tried, and executed for high treason, as an accomplice of Cardinal Pole, in the thirtieth year of Henry the Eighth.  The extracts are taken from the papers of the Norfolk Archæological Society.

Stapleton seems to have been an idle monk, often punished “for not rising to matins, and doing his duty in the church, which led to his desire to purchase a dispensation.”  Being too poor to do so at once, he obtained six months’ license to obtain the means, and set about searching for “Treasure Trove,” by the help of some books on Necromancy, which had been previously lent to him.  After some rambles about the county, he says, “I went to Norwich, and there remained by the space of a month, and thence to a town called Felmingham, and one Godfrey and his boy with me, which Godfrey had a “shower,” called Anthony Fular, and his said boy did “scry” unto him (which said spirit I had after myself); but notwithstanding as we could find nothing, we departed to Norwich again, where we met one unbeknown to us, and he brought us to a man’s house in Norwich, where he supposed we should have found treasure, whereupon we called the spirit of the treasure to appear—but he did not, for I suppose of a truth there was none there.”

p. 301Stapleton goes on to say that, failing in his efforts, he borrowed money to buy his dispensation of “his Grace” to be a hermit, and then went to the “diggings” again.  He was then informed that one Leech had a book to which the parson of Lesingham had bound a spirit, called Andrew Malchus; “whereupon,” he says, “I went to Leech concerning the same, and upon our communication he let me have all his instruments to the said book, and shewed me that if I could get the book that the said instruments were made by, he would bring me to him that should speed my business shortly.  And then he shewed me that the parson of Lesingham and Sir John of Leiston, with other to me unknown, had called up of late Andrew Malchus, Oberion, and Inchubus.  And when they were all raised, Oberion would not speak.  And the then parson of Lesingham did demand of Andrew Malchus why it was.  And Andrew Malchus made answer, it was because he was bound to the Lord Cardinal.  And they did entreat the parson of Lesingham to let them depart at that time, and whensoever it should please them to call them up again, they would gladly do them any service they could.

“And when I had all the said instruments, I went to Norwich, where I had remained but a season, when there came to me a glazier, which, as he said, came from the Lord Leonard Marquess, for to search for one that was expert in such business.  And thereupon p. 302one Richard Tynny came and instanced me to go to Walsingham with him, where we met with the said Lord Leonard, the which Lord Leonard had communicated with me concerning the said art of digging, and thereupon promised me that if I would take pains in the exercising the same art, that he would sue out a dispensation for me that I should be a secular priest, and so would make me his chaplain.  And, for a trial to know what I could do in the same art, he caused his servant to go hide a certain money in the garden, and I showed for the same.  And one Jackson ‘scryed’ unto me, but we could not accomplish our purpose.

“Sir John Shepe, Sir Robert Porter, and I, departed to a place beside Creke Abbey, where we supposed treasure should be found.  And the said Sir John Shepe called the spirit of the treasure, and I showed to him; but all came to no purpose.

“And then there came one Cook of Calkett Hall, and showed me that there was much money about his place, and in especial in the Bell Hill, and desired me to come thither; and then I went to Richard Tynny, and showed him what the said Cook had said, whereupon Tynny brought me to one William Rapkyn, took me the book that the Duke’s Grace of Norfolk of late took away from me; which Rapkyn said to me that forasmuch as I had all the instruments that were made for the said book, and if I could get p. 303Sir John of Leiston unto me, that then we should soon speed our purpose, for the said Sir John of Leiston was with the parson of Lesingham when the spirits appeared to the said book; and so I went to Colkett Hall, and took the said book and instruments with me; but he” (Sir John) “came not; wherefore, when I had tarried three or four days, I and the parish priest of Gorleston went about the said business, but of truth we could bring nothing to effect.”

His lengthened confession then goes into details of other expeditions aided by Lord Leonard, which ended in his imprisonment for deserting Lord Leonard, but he was afterwards pardoned and set at liberty.  He then goes on to say in his letter, “and whereas your noble Grace here of late was informed of certain things by the Duke’s Grace of Norfolk, as touching to your Grace and him, I faithfully ascertain that the truth thereof is as herein followeth, that is to say, one Wright, servant to the said Duke, at a certain season showed me that the Duke’s Grace, his master, was sore vexed with a spirit by the enchantment of your Grace; to the which I made answer that his communication might be left, for it was too high a subject to meddle with.  Whereupon Wright went into the Duke’s presence and showed things to me unknown, which caused the Duke’s Grace to send for me; and at such time as I was before his Grace I required his grace to show me what p. 304his pleasure was, and he said I knew well myself, and I answered ‘Nay.’  Then he demanded of Wright whether he had showed me anything or nay, and he answered he durst not, for because his Grace gave so strait commandment unto the contrary.  And so then was I directed to the said Wright unto the next day, that he should show me the intention of the Duke’s Grace.”

Wright seems then to have suggested to Stapleton that he should pretend power to rid the Duke of the troublesome spirit; and being strongly tempted by hopes of reward, he consented, “and feigned to him,” when he sent for him again, that he had forged an image of wax of his similitude, and sanctified it—but whether it did any good for his sickness he could not tell.

“Whereupon the said Duke desired me that I should go about to know whether the Lord Cardinal’s Grace had a spirit, and I showed him that I could not skill thereof.  And the Duke then said if I would take pains therein, he would appoint me to a cunning man, Dr. Wilson.  And so the said Dr. Wilson was sent for, and they examined me, and the Duke’s Grace commanded me to write all these things, and so I did.  Whereupon, considering the great folly which hath rested in me, I humbly beseech your Grace to be a good and gracious lord unto me, and to take me to your mercy.”

p. 305The case of Sir Edward Neville, quoted from the same authority, commences by a statement of the treasonable words laid to his charge, which were, “The King is a beast, and worse than a beast; and I trust knaves shall be put down, and lords reign one day, and that the world will amend one day.”  He was found guilty, hanged, drawn and quartered.

He is suspected to have been connected with Stapleton the monk, who has already appeared as a necromancer.  At all events, his confession shows again how much Wolsey was supposed to be conversant with magic; and indeed the ‘ring’ by which the Cardinal was thought to have won the fatal favour of the king, was noticed in the accusations against him when he fell.

In seeking for treasure, Sir Edward fully acknowledges being led to it by “foolish fellows of the country.”

In his account of his own dealings with spirits and magic, there is much curious mixture of half-doubting marvel and self deceit, probably not unconnected with influences baffling the human intellect, so apparent in the kindred delusions of Mesmerism, that strange development of the age of civilization, in no respect differing from the superstitions usually considered as the peculiar characteristics of the Middle ages.  He was also a practitioner of alchemy.  He would jeopard his life to make the philosopher’s stone p. 306if the king pleased, aye, and was willing to be kept in prison till he had: in a year he would make silver, and in a year and a half, gold, which would be better to the king than a thousand men.  But Henry was too shrewd thus to be allured into mercy; and Neville perished in the prolonged agonies which his sentence involved.  He appears, from other documents, to have been of a light-hearted and merry temper; not very wise, but wholly innocent of any crime, except a few idle words.

the confession of sir edward neville.

“Honourable Lords, I take God to record, that I did never commit nor reconcile treason sith I was born, nor imagined the destruction of no man or woman, as God shall save my soul; He knows my heart, for it is He that ‘scrutator cordium,’ and in Him is all trust.  I will not danger my soul for fear of worldly punishment; the joy of Heaven is eternal, and incomparable to the joy of this wretched world: therefore, good lords, do by me as God shall put in your minds; for another day ye shall suffer the judgment of God, when ye cannot start from it, no more than I can start from yours at this time.  Now to certify all that I can:—William Neville did send for me to Oxford, that I should come and speak with him at ‘Weke,’ and to him I went; it was the first p. 307time I ever saw him; I would I had been buried that day.

“When I came, he took me to a littell room, and went to his garden, and there demanded of me many questions, and among all others, asked if it were not possible to have a ring made that should bring a man in favour with his Prince; seeing my Lord Cardinal had such a ring, that whatsoever he asked of the King’s Grace, that he had; and Master Cromwell, when he and I were servants in my Lord Cardinal’s house, did haunt to the company of one that was seen in your faculty; and shortly after, no man so great with my Lord Cardinal as Master Cromwell was; and I have spoke with all them that has any name in this realm; and all they showed me that I should be great with my Prince; and this is the cause that I did send for you, to know whether your saying be agreeable to theirs, or no.  And I, at the hearty desire of him, shewed him that I had read many books, and specially the works of Solomon, and how his ring should be made, and of what metal; and what virtues they have after the canon of Solomon.  And then he desired me instantly to take the pains to make him one of them; and I told him that I could make them, but I made never none of them, nor I cannot tell that they have such virtues or no, but by hearing say.  Also he asked what other works had I read.  And I told him that I had read p. 308the magical works of Hermes, which many men doth prize; and thus departed at that time.  And one fortnight after, William Neville came to Oxford, and said that he had one Wayd at home, at his house, that did shew him more than I did shew him; for the said Wayd did shew him that he should be a great lord, nigh to the partes that he dwelt in.  And in that lordship should be a fair castle; and he could not imagine what it should be, except it were the castle of Warwick.”

“And I answered and said to him, that I dreamed that an angel took him and me by the hands, and led us to a high tower, and there delivered him a shield, with sundry arms, which I cannot rehearse, and this is all I ever shewed him, save at his desire, I went thither with him; and as concerning any other man, save at the desire of Sir Gr. Done, Knt. I made the moulds that ye have, to the intent he should have had Mistress Elizabeth’s gear.  If any man or woman can say and prove by me, otherwise than I have writed, except that I have, at the desire of some of my friends, ‘cauled to stone,’ for things stolen, let me die for it.  And touching Master William Neville, all the country knows more of his matters than I do, save that I wrote a foolish letter or two, according to his foolish desire, to make pastime to laugh at.”

“Also concerning treasure trove, I was oft-times p. 309desired unto it, by foolish fellows of the country, but I never meddled with it at all; but to make the philosopher’s stone, I will jeopard my life, so to do it, if it please the king’s good grace to command me to do it, or any other nobleman under the king’s good grace; and, of surety to do it, to be kept in prison till I have done it.  And I desire no longer space, but twelve months upon silver, and twelve and a half upon gold, which is better to the king’s good grace than a thousand men; for it is better able to maintain a thousand men for evermore, putting the king’s good grace, nor the realm, to no cost nor charge.”

“Also, concerning our sovereign lord the king’s going over, this I said, ‘If I had been worthy to be his grace’s council, I would counsel his grace not to have gone over at that time of year.’”

One mode of consulting spirits was by the Beryl, by means of a speculator or seer.  Having repeated the necessary charms and adjurations, with the invocation peculiar to the spirit or angel he wished to call (for each had his peculiar form of invocation), the seer looked into a crystal or beryl, to see his answer, represented generally by some type or figure; sometimes, though rarely, the angels were heard to speak articulately.

Different kinds of stone were also employed, and occasionally a piece of coal.  In Stapleton’s confession, p. 310he mentions the plate he used being left in the possession of Sir Thomas Moore.

Other records of similar proceedings, that have been extracted from the archives of the Record-chamber, make frequent mention of the magic crystals or stones.

The great names mixed up with the curious transactions described in these two documents, give additional interest to them as matters of history, and specimens of the enlightenment prevalent among the very highest circles of society, in the period that so immediately preceded the Elizabethan age.  A runaway monk, turning necromancer, was received into communion with some of the noblest of the land; and an educated gentleman, as Sir Edward Neville may be presumed to have been, hoped to win favour by promises to discover the philosopher’s stone.

Three centuries have passed, and the only traces that may be found of these high-born credulities, lurk in the darkest corners of the darkest alleys of poverty and ignorance.

conventual remains.

Conventual Remains.—St. Andrew’s Hall.—The Festival.—Music: Dr. Hook, Dr. Crotch.—Churches.—Biographical Sketches: Archbishop Parker, Sir J. E. Smith, Taylor, Hooker, Lindley, Joseph John Gurney.

The sketch of the Cathedral has embraced so much of the early history of the various religious “orders,” as to render but little necessary respecting the origin of the “frères,” or friars, whose settlements, in the city and neighbourhood, once occupied such important place in its limits and history.

The Black Friars, or Preachers, White Friars, or Carmelites, Grey Friars, or Minors, and the Austin Friars, all had at one period, from the thirteenth century to the era of the Reformation, large establishments within its precincts; besides which, there was a nunnery, and divers hospitals, as they were called, such as the Chapel of the Lady in the Fields, Norman’s Spital, and Hildebrand’s Hospital; and hermitages without number lurked about the corners p. 312of its churchyards, or perched themselves above the gateways of its walls.  The greater portion of these have left but a name, or a few scattered fragments, behind to mark their site; but one magnificent relic of the Black Friars monastery, comprising the whole of the nave and chancel of their beautiful church, yet stands in an almost perfect state of preservation,—a noble witness of the wealth and taste of the poor “mendicant” followers of Friar Dominick,—which was rescued from destruction at the period of the general “dissolution,” by the zeal and practical expediency of municipal authorities.  Of the two friaries that have ceased to exist even in outline, it may suffice to record, that the Carmelites numbered among them the eminent writer, “John Bale, the antiquary,” as he is wont to be called; the Austin Friars seem to have possessed few particular claims for notice, save their less rigorous injunctions for fasting, but the Friars Minors were the great rivals of the Preachers, and both together, the sore troublers of the peace of the “Regulars,” who looked upon the growing power of this “secular” priesthood with a jealousy and hatred to be conceived only by those who appreciate duly the “loaves and fishes.”  As a sample of the feeling existing, the account of Matthew Paris, the monk of St. Albans, may fairly be cited.  He says, “The ‘friars preachers’ having obtained privileges from Pope Gregory IX. and Innocent IV. being rejoiced p. 313and magnified, they talked malapertly to the prelates of churches, bishops and archdeacons, presiding in their synods; and where many persons of note were assembled, showed openly the privileges indulged to them, proudly requiring that the same may be recited, and that they may be received with veneration by the churches; and intruding themselves oft-times impertinently, they asked many persons, even the religious, ‘Are you confessed?’  And if they were answered ‘Yes,’ ‘By whom?’  ‘By my priest.’  ‘And what idiot is he?  He never learned divinity, never studied the devices, never learned to resolve one question; they are blind leaders of the blind; come to us, who know how to distinguish one leprosy from another, to whom the secrets of God are manifest.’  Many therefore, especially nobles, despising their own priests, confessed to these men, whereby the dignity of the ordinaries was not a little debased.”

Another says: “Now they have created two new fraternities, to which they have so generally received people of both sexes, that scarce one of either remains, whose name is not written in one of them, who, therefore, all assembling in their churches, we cannot have our own parishioners, especially on solemn days, to be present at divine service, &c.; whence it is come to pass that we, being deprived of the due tithes and oblations, cannot live unless we should p. 314turn to some manual labour.  What else remaineth therefore? except that we should demolish our churches, in which nothing else remaineth for service or ornament but a bell and an old image, covered with soot.’  But these preachers and minors, who begun from cells and cottages, have erected royal houses and palaces, supported on high pillars, and distinguished into various offices, the expenses whereof ought to have been bestowed upon the poor; these, while they have nothing, possess all things; but we, who are said to have something, are beggars.”  Alas! how many a poor curate of this nineteenth century, upon £30 a-year, might subscribe to a like pitiful complaint.

Another accusation against these mendicant friars, in their days of maturity, was that they used to steal children under fourteen years of age, or receive them without the consent of their friends, and refuse to restore them, embezzling or conveying them away to “other cloisters,” where they could not be found.  A statute of Henry IV. subjected these friars to punishment for this offence; and the provincials of the four orders were sworn before the parliament, for themselves and successors, to be obedient to this statute.

Kirkpatrick, from whom the above is quoted, says elsewhere, that in 1242, a great controversy arose between the friars minors and preachers, about the p. 315greatest worthiness, most decent habit, the strictest, humblest, and holiest life; for the preachers challenged pre-eminence in these—the minors contradicted, and great scandal arose.  And because they were learned men, it was the more dangerous to the church.

“These are they,” says he, “who in sumptuous edifices, and lofty walls, expose to view inestimable treasures, impudently transgressing the limits of poverty, and the fundamentals of their profession; who diligently apply themselves to lords and rich persons, that they may gape after wealth; extorting confessions and clandestine wills, commending themselves and their order only, and extolling them above all others.  So that no Christian now believes he can be saved, unless he be governed by the councils of the preachers and minors.  In obtaining privileges, they are solicitors; in the courts of kings and potentates, they are councillors, gentlemen of the chamber, treasurers, match-makers, matrimony-brokers; executioners of papal extortions; in their sermons, either flatterers or stinging backbiters, discoverers of confession, or impudent rebukers.”

Making all due allowance for the party feeling of the historian, thus commemorating the factions of the “Mother Church,” enough may be seen of the truth, to form a general idea of the condition of the brotherhoods, one of whose “palaces, supported by high p. 316pillars,” is now left us as a subject for our investigation.

The order of Black Friars owe their origin to the famous Dominick, notorious for his zeal in the persecution of the Albigenses.  He figures also in the “Golden Legend,” as a miraculously endowed infant; his god-mother perceiving on his forehead a star, which made the whole world light.  The common seal of the Black Friars, still preserved, commemorates another miracle concerning him: “Being grown to man’s estate, he became a great preacher against heretics; and once upon a time, he put his authorities against them in writing, and gave the schedule into the hands of a heretic, that he might ponder over its contents.  The same night, a party being met at a fire, the man produced the schedule, upon which he was persuaded to cast it into the flames, to test its truth; which doing, the schedule sprung back again, after a few minutes, unburnt; the experiment was repeated thrice, with the same results; but the heretics refused to be convinced, and pledged themselves not to reveal the matter;—but one of them, it seems, afterwards did so.”

Many other marvellous tales are extant of holy St. Dominick, but we hasten on to take a look at the church of his followers.  The present building bears date of the fifteenth century, and would seem to have been materially enriched by the famous Sir Thomas p. 317Erpingham, who takes such prominent place in the city, and church walls, and gateways, his arms figuring here in the stone-work between every two of the upper story of windows.  In its primitive condition the church boasted of three chapels, one of them subterranean, three altars, two lights, and an image of St. Peter of Malayn; the choir was decorated with panel paintings, which found their way at the Reformation to the parlour of some private dwelling-house close by, whose walls they yet adorn.  Two guilds were held there, the guild of St. William and the Holy Rood.  In 1538, when the axes and hammers of King Henry were busy over the face of the land, and bonfires of libraries were being made in the precincts of every monastery, the house and church of the Black Friars was saved.  Deputations to his majesty from the corporation of the city, successfully negotiated the transfer of the building to its possession, on consideration of the sum of eighty-one pounds being paid into the Royal Treasury.  Mention is made in old records of a handsome library belonging to this as well as the Carmelite Monastery; their fate perhaps may be conjectured by that of many others of the time.  Bale mentions the fact of a merchant buying the contents of two noble libraries for forty shillings, to be used as waste paper, and ten years were occupied in thus consuming them.  The chancel of the church has retained its character p. 318as a place of worship almost unvaryingly until the present day, at one time being leased to the Dutch, and in later times used as a chapel by the inmates of the workhouse; occasionally, however, it has served the purpose of a playhouse; as we find on record, injuries sustained by the breaking down of partitions at the performance of “interludes” in it upon Sundays, in the thirty-eighth of Henry the Eighth.  The king’s players we also find similarly occupying the nave or hall in Edward the Sixth’s reign, during Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before Christmas.  The cloisters and other portions of the monastery were in the reign of Anne, upon the first establishment of workhouses for the poor, appropriated to that purpose, the groined roofings to this day forming the ceilings of pauper kitchens and outhouses.  The sole trace of ecclesiastical furniture lingering in the nave is a stone altar in one corner, much more noted as the place of gathering in after-times for the brethren of the St. George’s Guild than for any religious associations in the minds of the people.  A gallery, now hidden by the gigantic orchestra built over it, savours also strongly of the primitive dedication of the building, else it has retained little more than its architectural beauties of outline to testify its original consecration.  And now to trace its history, since, wrested from the mendicants, and deprived of its rights as a cemetery for the wealthy and beneficent p. 319dead, it first became the banquet chamber for municipal feasts, its walls shone gorgeously with tapestry hangings, and its tables groaned beneath the weight of luscious dainties.  The kitchens and monster chimneys, with their long rows of spit-hooks and fire-places, that now stand gaping in silent desolation at the empty larders and boiling-houses in out-of-the-way corners of the premises, look like giant ghosts of ancient civic gastronomy, lurking about in dark places, mocking the shadowy forms of latter-day epicurism, that may be satisfied with the achievements to be performed by modern “ranges,” on ever so improved a scale.  But the glories of the St. George’s feast are likewise departed from it; the corn-merchants, to whom its limits were awhile devoted, have built unto themselves an exchange; the assizes, once held in it, have been transferred to the little castellated encrustation that has grown out of one side of the real castle mound, and reft of all regular employment, the Hall now stands at the mercy of the city mayor, by him to be lent to whom he wills, for any or every purpose his judgment may deem consistent with propriety; hence the same walls echo one day the eloquent pleadings of a league advocate, the next to the cries of the distressed agriculturist; now to the advantages of temperance or peace societies, and the musical streams of eloquence that an Elihu Burritt can send forth, or p. 320witness the fires of enthusiasm a Father Matthew can elicit.  Another week shall see it thronged with eager listeners to the reports of missionary societies, Church, London, or Baptist; the next with ready auditors to the claims of the Jews and the heathen calls for Bibles; interspersed among them shall be lectures on every branch of art and science, and every fashionable or unfashionable doctrine under the sun that can find advocates, down to Mormonism or Bloomerism itself.  But prior to all in its claims upon the services of the magnificent old structure stands music—why else are its proportions hid by the unsightly tiers of benches that, empty, make one long for magic power to waft them all away, but which, once tenanted by their legitimate occupants, banish every murmur from one’s heart and mind?

Thanks to the enterprise and spirit of the lovers of harmony, this is not seldom; concerts for the rich and concerts for the poor, for the hundreds and the “millions,” have risen up to meet the calls of humanity for heart-culture by other inspirations than may be got from alphabets and primers, or intellectual disquisitions.  And, triennially, arrive the great epochs of the city’s glory, when she asserts her claims upon the world of music, to be classed high among the nursing mother of genius, and foster-parents of art.  Then is the hour of triumph for the Black Friars’ solemn and grand old nave, when p. 321its roofs and pillars tremble at the thunders of the Messiah’s “Hallelujah,” and resound to the electrifying crash, uttering “Wonderful;” or when they echo the sweet melodies of Haydn, Mozart, and Spohr; the refined harmonies of a Mendellsohn’s “Elijah,” the magic strains of his “Loreley,” or reflect the wondrous landscape painting of the mystic Beethoven.  Nor was the day a small one when its orchestra gave utterance to the outpourings of a genius cradled and nurtured in its bosom, whose work is acknowledged to be great and good, albeit “a prophet” is not without honour save in his own country.  And all praise be given as due to the generous help yielded to the son of the stranger as to the son of the soil.  The world may yet live to be grateful to the city that in one year brought before it two such conceptions and creations as “Israel Restored” and “Jerusalem.”  And so would we take our farewell of the old “Hall,” while our eyes are yet dazzled with the bright glitter of its thronged benches, galleries, and aisles, and our ears and hearts vibrating to the mighty “concert of sweet sounds” and peals of harmony poured forth from the almost matchless orchestra and benches of choristers, that lend their powers to complete the glories of the great “Festival.”

The festival suggests thoughts on music, its history and progress, and of the minds that have fostered p. 322and directed its growth in this particular region, so successfully as to have gained for the “Old City” its present high position in the musical world.

Music and devotion have gone hand-in-hand from the era of the earliest singing men and singing women of Israel, and the timbrel of Miriam; the Jewish temple echoed the lofty strains of “David’s harp” and the songs of the “Chief Musician;” from the pagan worship of the Greeks sprung the Ambrosian chant, and the Christian Church has been the birthplace and nursery of the grandest conceptions that have flowed from the pen of inspired genius in every later age.  The antiphonal singing of the earliest choirs, where a phrase of melody, after being sung by one portion of the choristers, was echoed by others at certain distances, at a higher or lower pitch, gave rise to the modern fugue.  The Pope from his throne lent his aid to improve the ecclesiastical chant, and gave it his name.

The oratorio was the Phœnix that arose from the ashes of the “mystery,” the masses of Palestrina, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart, and Hummel were responses to the calls of the church.  The Reformation made no effort to sever music from the services of religion; Luther was an enthusiastic lover of harmony, and himself a composer of psalmody.  The annihilations of the works of art, that banished painting p. 323and defaced sculpture, could not blot out music from the worship of the church.  The “Te Deum” and “Jubilate” outlived the persecution of bishops and clergy, and the nasal whine of the Puritan conventicle was in itself a recognition of the true power and place of that noblest of nature’s gifts and sciences.

The quiet “Friends” nominally banish it from their form of worship; can any that have heard the flowing melodies that clothe their exhortations and prayers, say that it is so?  Can any one that ever heard the voice of Elizabeth Fry doubt that poetry and music are innate gifts, that, once possessed, no human laws can sever from the utterances of a devotional spirit?  No marvel is it, therefore, that a Cathedral city at all times is more or less the cradle of musical genius, or that scarce a record of a great master-spirit of harmony exists, but the office of “Kapellmeister,” or “Organist,” is attached to his name.

The Organ, that almost inseparable associate of ecclesiastical music, seems to have been an instrument of great antiquity; that one of the Constantines presented one to King Pepin in 757, appears to be an established fact, and that during the tenth century the use of the organ became general in Germany, Italy, and England.  In Mason’s “Essay on Church Music” is a homely translation of some lines written by Wolstan, a monk of that period, p. 324descriptive of the instrument then known under that name.

“Twelve pair of bellows ranged in stately row
Are joined above, and fourteen more below;
These the full force of seventy men require,
Who ceaseless toil, and plenteously perspire:
Each aiding each, till all the winds be prest
In the close confines of the incumbent chest,
On which four hundred pipes in order rise,
To bellow forth the blast that chest supplies.”

It is presumed that the seventy men did not continue to blow throughout the performance on this monster engine, but laid in a stock of wind, which was gradually expended as the organist played; the keys were five or six inches broad, and must have been played upon by blows of the fist; the compass did not then exceed more than two octaves; half notes were not introduced until the beginning of the twelfth century, stops, not until the sixteenth; from which we may infer, that a real genuine organ, deserving the name, could not have been manufactured many years prior to the Reformation; but from the date of its first introduction may be ascribed the first attempts at the invention of harmony.

It is curious, however, in these days of penny concerts and music for the million, to look back to that time when the only probable entertainments of a secular character in which music bore a part, were p. 325such as could be furnished by the hautboys, sackbuts, and recorders of half-a-dozen “waytes,” as we find to have been the case in this city in the sixteenth century, when permission was first granted these performers to play comedies, interludes, plays and tragedies.  Will Kempe mentions these same waytes with great praise, and their renown may be inferred from the fact of their being solicited by Sir Francis Drake “to accompany him on his intended voyage” in 1589, upon which occasion the city provided them with new instruments, new cloaks, and a waggon to convey their chattels.  The inventory of musical instruments in the possession of the city in 1622, forms a rather striking contrast to a “band” of the nineteenth century, consisting as it did of only four “sackbuts,” four “hautboys” (one broken), two tenor cornets, one tenor “recorder,” two counter tenor “recorders,” five “chaynes,” and five “flagges.”

In the seventeenth century, when the country was deluged with civil war, and overrun with Royalist and Puritan soldiers, music declined, and we read little concerning it, here or elsewhere, until that age of strife and commotion had passed away.

In 1709, one of the city “waytes” advertised himself as teacher of the violin and hautboy, and in 1734 there appeared another advertisement of a concert to be given, tickets 2s. 6d., country dancing to be given gratis after the concert, doors to be open at p. 326four o’clock, the performance to commence at six, “by reason of the country dancing.”

In the course of the sixteenth century, the psalmody of the Protestant Church was brought nearly to its present state, and towards the end of that and commencement of the next century, shone that constellation of English musicians, whose inimitable madrigals are still the delight of every lover of vocal harmony.  A madrigal differs from a glee, inasmuch as each of its parts should be sung by several voices; its name originated in Italy, and was applied to compositions in four, five, or six vocal parts, adapted to words of a tender character; neither madrigal nor glee should be accompanied by instruments.

In the Elizabethan age to sing in parts was an accomplishment held to be indispensable in a well-educated lady or gentleman; and at a social meeting, when the madrigal books were laid on the table, every body was expected to take part in the harmony; any person declining from inability, was regarded with contempt, as rude and ill-bred.

The rapid improvement of music in all its branches during the last century has been promoted mainly by the various societies, clubs, and other associations that have sprung up in the metropolis and many large cities, among which Norwich stands prominently; these have formed a bond of union between professional musicians and amateurs, mutually advantageous, p. 327by establishing among them a combination of talent and taste, that tends materially to cultivate the art to which they are attached.  Norwich has produced many great minds, that have done much towards this work.  In the last century the musical world were astonished by the wonderful precocity of the two young children, Hook and Crotch; the name of the former as notorious perhaps as much through the literary fame of his son Theodore, as for his own musical attainments.

It is said that young Hook was able to play pieces at four years of age, and at six to perform a concerto at a concert, and to have composed the music for an opera with thirty-six airs, before he was eight years old.  In the course of his life he is said to have written two thousand four hundred songs, one hundred and forty complete works or operas, one oratorio, and many odes and anthems.  He died in 1813, leaving two sons, Dr. James Hook, the Dean of Worcester, who died 1828, and Theodore Edward Hook, the author.

William Crotch, whose name has attained a wider celebrity, was also a native of the city, the son of a carpenter.  His early displays of musical talent exceed in wonder even those of his fellow-citizen and co-temporary, Hook; and many curious anecdotes are related of its manifestation during his infancy.  His father seems to have been a self-taught musician, p. 328who without any scientific knowledge had built himself an organ, upon which he had learned to play a few common tunes, such as “God save the King,” and “Let Ambition fire the mind.”  About Christmas 1776, his child William, then only a year and a half old, was observed frequently to leave his food or play, to listen to his father, and would even then touch the key note of the tunes he wished to be played.  Not long afterwards, a musical lady came to try the organ, and after her visit he seems to have made his first attempt to play a tune—her playing excited him to a painful degree, his mother describing him as so peevish that she could “do nothing with him.”  Music had charms, however, to soothe his baby breast, and he consoled himself by picking out the air of “God save the King,” which in addition to being his father’s most frequent performance, had been also frequently sung as a lullaby by his maternal nurse.  At this time he was two years and three weeks old, truly an infant prodigy!  The report of his precocity gained little credence, until accident confirmed what had previously been deemed the exaggerations of parental fondness.

His father’s employer, passing the house at a time when the elder Crotch was absent from work on the plea of indisposition, heard the organ, and fancied that his workman was idle instead of ill; to convince himself, he went in, and found little Master William p. 329performing, and his brother blowing the bellows.  The marvel spread, and attracted such crowds of auditors, that from that time the hours of his performance were obliged to be limited.  As he grew older his musical attainments rapidly increased, while at the same time he discovered symptoms of a genius for drawing, almost equal to that which he had already displayed for music.

When he was twelve years old he did the duty of organist at several chapels in Cambridge, whence he removed to Oxford, with a view to entering the church; but he afterwards resumed the musical profession, and was appointed organist of Christ Church, in 1790.  In 1797, he became professor of music in that university; and in 1799, obtained the degree of doctor of music.  On the establishment of the Royal Academy, in 1823, he was nominated Principal of that institution, but retired from the office before his death.  Dr. Crotch’s great work is the oratorio of “Palestine,” the poetry of which is the prize poem of Bishop Heber.  He was also the author of several anthems, and other pieces of sacred music.

His death occurred suddenly, at the dinner-table, on the 29th of September, 1847, in the seventy-third year of his age, at the residence of his son, the Rev. W. R. Crotch, Master of the Grammar School at Taunton, where he had spent the later years of his life.

There are two points worthy of notice connected p. 330with the name and works of this great man.  The country has raised no monument in any of its cathedrals or churches to his memory, and his greatest work, “Palestine,” is an oratorio almost entirely neglected.  May it not be possible for the “Old City” that gave him birth to set an example to the rest of the musical world, by attention to these facts?

Most of the leading minds whose zeal and energy directed the earlier movements of the various musical societies in this district, are yet among the living, and the natural dictates of refinement cause us to shrink from any attempts at their biographies; it is, therefore, with the deference due to real genius, which needs no praise, that we pass in silence over the names of the most earnest promoters of the growth and cultivation of music, especially as developed in the workings of the Festival Committee, and its important adjunct, the Choral Society.  The names and fame of Sir George Smart and Mr. Edward Taylor, professor of music at Gresham College, are already too much the property of the world at large to be reckoned among those whose privacy might be invaded by comment in these pages; but there are many more, who with them, may from the centre of that magnificent hall, and the midst of the greatest triumphs of music that have ever been achieved by its almost unrivalled choruses and orchestra, feel that “for their monument we must look around.”

p. 331And now it might seem but just and right that among the lions of the “Old City” we should find a place for the manifold ecclesiastical structures still surviving the downfall of “superstition,” and retaining their legitimate right, as houses of worship.  To do justice to the antiquities or beauties that abound among them is a task beyond our powers, or the limit of such a work as this; their traceries, their curiously cut flint work, old carvings, rood lofts, chambers of sanctuary within, and heaped-up grave-yards without, verily burying the pathways of the streets, they line in such close succession—their monuments and epitaphs, quaint, grim, chaste, and uncouth; their steeples, spires, and towers, round, square, buttressed and bare—their bells musical and grand, cracked and jangling—their roofs slated, tiled, leaded, patched, perfect, or crumbling—their names and saintships a labyrinth of mystery in themselves—would it not fill a volume alone to chronicle even their leading features, to say nought of the changes they have undergone, the barter among goods and chattels, the chopping and changing, and massacres in the painted glass departments,—part of an Abraham and his ass left in a St. Andrews, the other portions transported to the windows of St. Stephens; of the ghostly outlines left of old brasses torn up and melted down by Puritan soldiers and coppersmiths—or the legends that hang about their shrines and mutilated images?  We dare p. 332not venture upon the well-beaten track of archæologians, topographers, and tourists; our glance must be cursory and superficial, content to ascertain by its sweeping survey that treasures of knowledge and stores of information await the patient and diligent investigations of more learned and scientific enquirers.

A visit to St. Stephens rewards the archæologist by a sight of a few old stalls and a font of early date, while the historian associates with it the memory of the celebrated Parker, second Archbishop of Canterbury, who was a native of Norwich, and some say of this parish, but at any rate was singing pupil of the priest and clerk of this church.  Parker’s life occupies an important position in history.  The son of “a calenderer of stuffs,” in this city, he was at a very early age left fatherless, and dependent upon a mother’s guidance and direction for his education.  Her superintending care provided him with a variety of masters for the several branches of learning—reading, writing, singing, and grammar—each being acquired under a separate teacher.  He afterwards entered Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, whence he was invited to the magnificent foundation of Cardinal Wolsey’s (now Christ Church) College, Oxford, but preferring to remain at Cambridge, he declined.  In 1553, he was made chaplain to Queen Anne Boleyn, and received from her a special commission to superintend the education of her daughter Elizabeth.  p. 333He was made chaplain to King Henry VIII., after the death of Anne Boleyn, and continued the same office in his successor’s reign; added to which, he was Rector of Stoke in Essex, Prebend of Ely Cathedral, and successively Rector of Ashen in Essex, and Birlingham All Saints, in Norfolk.  He was chosen Master of Corpus Christi College in 1544, and Vice-Chancellor of the University.  Happening to be in Norfolk during the celebrated “Kett’s rebellion,” he had the courage to go to the rebels’ camp and preach to them out of the oak of Reformation, exhorting them to moderation, temperance, and submission, which expedition, as we have seen elsewhere, had well nigh terminated fatally.

In 1550–1, he was put in the commission for correcting and punishing the new sect of Anabaptists, then sprung up.  In Mary’s reign he was deprived of most of his dignities, upon the plea of his being married, and retired into Norfolk amongst his friends; but upon the succession of his old pupil, Elizabeth, he was exalted to the dignity of Archbishop of Canterbury.  Her Majesty made several visits to his house at Canterbury.  His efforts to suppress the vague prophecies that were continually being set up in the various dioceses, and exciting the minds of the people, made him many enemies among the Puritans, but he still enjoyed the favour of the Queen.  He died in 1576, leaving, amongst numerous p. 334charitable bequests, a legacy to be applied to keeping his parents’ monument, in St. Clement’s church-yard, in repair.

St. Peter’s Mancroft, the brightest star in the constellation of churches that illumine the “Old City,” has beauties and curiosities of almost every variety and character to offer for investigation; but perhaps none so loudly appeal to the senses of the citizens at large as the eloquent “changes” rung upon its magnificent set of bells, whenever occasion offers for a display of the fulness and richness of their tone; and, possibly, their melody is never more appreciated than when it comes forth in the softened echo of the beautiful muffled peal.

Touching the presence of bells in the church, we have noticed elsewhere that they were introduced among the incrustations of Pagan worship that grew up around the early Christian forms, and owed their origin to the superstition that the sound of metal preserved the soul from the danger of evil spirits; but there are other curious facts connected with their history.  The Roman Catholic baptised the bell, using holy water, incense and prayers in the ceremony and according to the missal of Salisbury, there were godfathers and godmothers, who gave them names.

A strange allegorical signification of bells after their baptism was written by Durandus, the great p. 335Catholic authority, for the mysterious services of the church.  “The bell,” he says, “denotes the preacher’s mouth, the hardness of the metal implies the fortitude of his mind; the clapper striking both sides, his tongue publishing both testaments, and that the preacher should on one side correct the vice in himself, and on the other reprove it in his hearers; the band that ties the clapper denotes the moderation of the tongue; the wood on which the bell hangs signifies the wood of the cross; the iron that ties it to the wood denotes the charity of the preacher; the bell-rope denotes the humility of the preacher’s life,” &c. &c.  The description goes on yet further into detail; but the analogies between the subjects and their allegorical representations are so undiscernible, as to make it a somewhat tedious task to follow it throughout.

But St. Peter’s has manifold attractions beyond its bells.  It has brasses and effigies, and monuments of every variety, commemorating the pious deeds of clergy and laity, warriors and comedians.  Its vestry has pictures and tapestry and quaint alabaster carvings; little chapels jutting out from the nave like transepts, perpetuate the memory of old benefactors; and beneath its pavement lie the remains of the great philosopher Sir Thomas Browne, whose words of rebuke to the sepulchral ambition of the nameless tenants of monuments that make no record of those p. 336that lie beneath, involuntarily arise to the mind while contemplating the spot chosen for his last resting place.  “Had they made so good a provision for their names as they have done for their relics, they had not so grossly erred in the act of perpetuation; but to subsist in bones, to be but pyramidically extant, is a fallacy of duration.”  And again, “to live indeed is to be again ourselves, which being not only our hope, but an evidence in noble believers; ’tis all one to lie in St. Innocent’s church-yard or the sands of Egypt.  Ready to be anything in the ecstacy of being ever, as content with six foot as the moles of Adrianus.”

Happy philosophy, that could permit him calmly to contemplate the vicissitudes to which his bones might be subjected, even to the legitimate possibility of the sanctuary chosen for their resting-place being actually invaded by the blows of the workmen’s pickaxe, as veritably did occur some few years since, when the curious of the present generation were thus accidentally afforded an opportunity of cultivating a personal acquaintance with the anatomical outlines and phrenological developments of one whose intellectual offspring had been canonized, and enshrined among the household gods of the learned and the great for more than a century.

The very slight sketches of eminent characters that are suitable for so light and general a book as p. 337this, may perhaps be legitimately introduced in the course of a tour among the churches, their parochial headships affording the best facilities for arrangement; but it seems almost sacrilege to hash up into abridgements or synopses, biographies so fraught with national and European interest, as are many of those whose birth-place has been the Old City of Norwich, yet more is impossible within the compass of the Rambler’s pen; and to adopt the alternative of omitting all mention of such names, would be to blot out some of the brightest pages from the annals of its history.

Among them, and perhaps the highest upon the pinnacle of fame, is that of Sir James Edward Smith, the Linnæus of our country, the concentration of whose “life and Correspondence” into two bulky volumes, evinces wondrous powers of discriminating selection, and condensation, in the biographer who has undertaken the important and onerous task.  What, then, can be effected in the hasty notices of a mere rambler’s gleanings?  Little more, if so much, as a bare outline of the leading features in the life of this brilliant ornament of our city and country, but enough, we trust, to lead any who have not already acquired a more intimate knowledge of his personal history, to feel earnest to repair the omission.  He was a native of the parish of St. Peter’s Mancroft; and of his education, it is worthy p. 338of note, that he never left the parental roof to enter either a public or private boarding-school: he is one of the many favourable testimonies to the advantages of a strictly domestic education, conducted by aid of the most efficient masters, under the immediate superintendence of parental care.  About the age of eighteen, he devoted himself to the study of botany as a science, and says himself, “the only book he could then procure was ‘Berkenhout,’ Hudson’s ‘Flora’ having become extremely scarce.”  He received “Berkenhout” on the 9th of January, 1778, and on the 11th began to examine the Ule curopæus (common furze), and then first comprehended the nature of systematic arrangement, little aware that, at that instant, the world was losing the great genius who was to be to him so important a future guide, and whose vacant place in the world of science he was destined so ably to fill.  Linnæus died that night, January 11th, 1778.

In 1780 Mr. Smith went to Edinburgh, and from thence to London, with a view to study for the medical profession.  During his stay there, he became intimate with Sir Joseph Banks, an eminent patron of natural science, through whom he heard that the library and museum of Linnæus were for sale, and immediately he entered into negotiations with Dr. Acrel, of Upsal, concerning it, which ended in his becoming the purchaser of the whole collection at p. 339the price of nine hundred guineas.  From London he went to Leyden, and graduated as a physician at the university there.  From thence he proceeded on a tour, visiting most of the classical spots and celebrated places in Italy and France, and upon his return to London devoted himself almost exclusively to pursuits connected with his favourite science, botany.  By the assistance of his personal friend, the Bishop of Carlisle, one among the many great minds with whom he held constant communion, he set about establishing the Linnæan Society.  Its first meeting was held in April, 1788, when an introductory address, “On the Rise and Progress of Natural History,” was read by Sir James, then Dr. Smith, which paper formed the first article in the “Transactions of the Linnæan Society,” a work which has since extended itself to twenty quarto volumes.  In 1792 Dr. Smith was invited to give instructions in botany to the queen and princesses at Frogmore; and in 1814, received the honour of knighthood from the Prince Regent.

Ill health caused Sir James to return to his native county to recruit his strength, and there he continued to pursue his literary avocations in comparative privacy.  His “English Botany” is a work consisting of thirty-six octavo volumes, and contains 2592 figures of British plants.  It is a curious and melancholy coincidence, that the fourth volume of p. 340his “English Flora” reached him on the very last day he ever entered his library; and he thus had the gratification of seeing the completion of a work which, in his own estimation, was calculated, beyond all the other labours of his pen, to establish his reputation as a botanist, and confirm his erudition as an author.

St. Giles, the next in order of the saintships, in addition to its architectural beauties, with which we pretend not to “meddle,” presents a few legendary claims to our notice.  The effigy of St. Christopher, of a monstrous size, with his staff sprouting by his side, was originally painted over the north door, as the patron saint of children presented for baptism, who generally were brought in at that door.  In most churches where a north door existed, this image or painting of St. Christopher was wont to appear, depicted on as large a scale as the wall would permit, in conformity with the legend that he was a saint of noble and large stature.  In the aisle once stood a chapel, altar, and image of St. Catherine, with a light burning before it, and against one of the pillars stood a famous rood, called the Brown Rood.

St. Benedict, the patron of monks, has his monument in the form of a little ancient church with a little tower, round at the bottom and octagonal at the top, where three little jingling bells give notice of the hours of prayer.

St. Swithin, that famous prophet of wet weather, p. 341has his memorial, too, not far distant.  More have heard the old adage, “If it rain on St. Swithin’s day, there will be rain more or less for forty succeeding days,” than may have cared to trace its origin, which seems involved in some mystery.  One authority tells us that St. Swithin was Bishop of Winchester, to which rank he was raised by Ethelwulf, the Dane; and when he died in 865, he was canonized by the pope.  He had expressed a desire to be buried in the open church-yard, and not, as was usual with bishops, within the walls of the church: his request was complied with; but upon his being canonized, the monks took it into their heads that it was disgraceful for a saint to lie in the open church-yard, and resolved to remove his body into the choir, which was to be done in solemn procession on the 15th of July.  It rained, however, so violently on that day, and for forty days succeeding, as “had hardly ever been seen,” which made them set aside their design as heretical and blasphemous; and instead, they erected a chapel over his grave, at which many miracles are said to have been wrought.

Another writer tells us that “St. Swithin, a holy bishop of Winchester, about the year 860, was called the weeping St. Swithin, for that, about his feast, Præsepe and Aselli, rainy constellations, arise cosmically, and commonly cause rain.”  The legend attached p. 342to its name is perhaps almost the only particular attraction of this little church.

The church of the holy St. Lawrence stands upon the spot of ground that in ancient days, when Norwich was a fishing town, was the quay or landing-place for all the herrings brought hither, the tithe of which was so considerable when it belonged to the bishops of the East Angles, that when Alfric, the bishop, granted the key staithe, with the adjoining mansion, to Bury Abbey, about 1038, the abbey, upon building the church, had a last of herrings reserved to it, to be paid them yearly.  This last of herrings was compounded for by the celerer of the convent, about the time of Henry the Third, for a pension of forty shillings, which was annually paid until the time of Henry the Seventh, and then done away with, on account of the meanness of its profits.

On the sides of the arch of the door in the west are two carvings, one representing the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, the other that of St. Edmund, who is seen in a rather mutilated condition, (in more senses than one) his head lying at some distance in a parcel of bushes, while the Danes are shooting arrows into his body, alluding to that portion of the legend which says that when they could not kill him with arrows, Hunguar the Danish leader ordered them to smite off his head, and carry and throw it among the p. 343thickest thorns of the adjacent wood, which they did; but a wolf finding it, instead of devouring it, kept it from all beasts and birds of prey, till it was found by the Christians and buried with his body, and that in a surprising manner.

In the fifteenth century, three “Sisters of Charity,” called the Sisters of St. Lawrence, dwelt in a tenement by the churchyard.  In 1593, the copes were turned into pall cloths, and in 1643 the painted glass of the windows was smashed, and other considerable damage done to the ornamental fittings up of the building.

Near to the church is the well of St. Lawrence, the water of which is now conveyed to a pump; bearing this inscription upon it:—

This water here caught
In sort, as you see,
From a spring is brought
Three score foot and three.

Gybson hath it sought
From St. Lawrence’s well,
And his charge this wrought
Who now here doth dwell.

Thy ease was his cost, not small—
Vouchsafed well of those
Which thankful be, his work to see,
And thereto be no foes.

From St. Lawrence’s belfry, the curfew is rung at eight each evening.

p. 344St. Gregory’s contains an altar tomb, with a long Latin inscription to the memory of Sir Francis Bacon, a judge in the court of King’s bench, in the time of Charles II.

On the communion table is an inscription to Francis Watson, a pedlar, who painted and marbled all the pillars of the altar, adorned it, and railed the front.

St. John’s Madder Market owes its distinctive name to the market formerly held on its north side, for the sale of madder, an article used in dying.  Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk, the widow of Thomas Duke of Norfolk, beheaded by the command of Queen Elizabeth, lies buried in the choir of the church.

St. Andrews, the second church in point of architectural beauty, stands upon the site of one founded prior to the Conquest.  Its eastern window bears traces of sad havoc having gone on in the midst of the scriptural scenes it was intended to depict.

At the east end of the two aisles are doors entering from the porches, and over them verses.

Over the south aisle door—

This church was builded of Timber, Stone and Bricks,
In the year of our Lord XV hundred and six,
And lately translated from extreme Idolatry
A thousand five hundred and seven and forty.
And in the first year of our noble King Edward
The Gospel in parliament was mightily set forward.
   Thanks be to God.  Anno Dom. 1547, December.

p. 345Over the north aisle door—

As the good king Josiah, being tender of age,
Purged the realm from all idolatry,
Even so our noble Queen, and counsel sage,
Set up the Gospel and banished Popery.
At twenty-four years she began her reign,
And about forty four did it maintain.
      Glory be given to God.

There were formerly brass effigies of John Gilbert and his wife, with seventeen of their children.

St. Peter’s Hungate, or Hounds’ Gate, owes its name to the fact of the hounds belonging to the bishop being formerly kept close by.  The old church was demolished in 1458, and the new one, commenced the same year, was finished in 1460, as appears by the date in a stone on the buttress of the north door, where there is an old trunk of an oak, represented without any leaves, to signify the decayed church; and from the root springs a fresh branch with acorns on it, to denote the new one raised where the old one stood.

St. Michael at Plea takes its name from the Archdeacon of Norwich holding his pleas or courts in the parish; it has some curious panel paintings of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, the Lady of Pity, Judas, John and the Virgin, St. Margaret and the Dragon, St. Benedict and St. Austin.

In the church of St. Simon and St. Jude, is a p. 346curious monument of a knight in armour, with a number of other figures grouped around the altar on which he lies.  In this parish is the bridge where the “cucking stool” was wont to be kept, an instrument of punishment for “scolding and unquiet women,” of as ancient origin as the time of the Anglo Saxons; the offender was seated in a kind of chair, fixed at the end of a plank, and then ducked in the water; a cheating brewer or baker subjected himself to a similar degradation.

St. George’s Tombland, so called from the burial ground upon which it stood, has also some curious monuments; near it is a house, commonly called Sampson and Hercules Court, from two figures that formerly supported the portico, but which now stand in the court.  The house was formerly owned by Sir John Fastolf, afterwards by the Countess of Lincoln, and in the time of Henry VII., by the Duchess of Suffolk.

“St. Martin’s at the Plain” stands close by the scene of the memorable battle between the rebels under Kett, where Lord Sheffield fell, and many other gentlemen and soldiers: the conflict lasted from nine o’clock on Lammas morning until noon.  The World’s End lane leads hence to the dwelling of Sir Thomas Erpingham, long since transformed from a sumptuous mansion into the abode of poverty, its chambers subdivided and parcelled out, defaced and p. 347disguised by whitewash and plaster, and yet more by the accumulations of dirt and decay; until it needs the microscopic vision of an archæologist to trace even its outline, among such a mass of confusion and rubbish.

“St. Helen’s,” which belonged to the monks, is now cut up into three parts, the choir being turned into lodgings for poor women, part of the nave and aisles into the same for poor men, while the intermediate portion is used for divine services.  A charity that owns an annual income of £10,000, might, we think, find some better arrangements possible to be made.  Kirkpatrick, the celebrated antiquarian, lies buried here.  Over the south entrance to the church are these lines—

         The house of God
King Henry the Eight of noble Fame
Bequeathed the City this commodious place,
With lands and rents he did endow the same,
To help decrepit age in woful case,
Edward the Sixth, that prince of royal stem,
Performed his father’s generous bequest.
Good Queen Eliza, imitating them,
Ample endowments added to the rest;
Their pious deeds we gratefully record,
While Heaven them crowns with glorious reward.

St. Giles’ Hospital, to which the church of St. Helen has been united by the appropriation of its nave and chancel, is a relic of great antiquity—a p. 348memorial of the liberality of Bishop Suffield, who in 1249 founded it, appointing four chaplains to celebrate service there for his soul, and all poor and decrepit chaplains in the diocese, endowing it with means to support the same number perpetually, and to lodge thirteen poor people with one meal a day.  There were also appointed afterwards four sisters, above fifty years of age, to take care of the clothing, &c. &c.  The master and chaplains were to eat, drink and sleep, in one room, and daily, after grace at dinner before any one drank, the bell was to ring and the chaplains to go into the choir and sing Miserere mei Deus.  There was also an Archa Domini, or Lords’ Box, from which the poor that passed by, were daily to be relieved as far as the funds permitted.  From Lady day to the Assumption, at a certain hour the bell was to ring and a quantity of bread, “enough to repel hunger,” to be given to the poor then present; and “because the house should be properly ‘Domus Dei,’ or the house of God, and of the Bishops of Norwich,” it was ordained that “as often as any bishop of the see should pass by, he should go in and give his blessing to the sick.”  Edward VI. dissolved the Hospital and gave it to the city as a house for the poor.  A school was also established, which was afterwards transferred to the Free School.  The cloisters of the old hospital still remain almost entire, and serve as walks for the pensioners.

p. 349St. Edmund, St. James, St. Paul, St. Margaret, all the Saints, St. Saviour, St. Clements the Martyr, St. Peter Southgate, and per Mountergate, St. Julian, St. Michael at Plea, at Thorn, and Coslany, St. Ethelred, St. John’s Sepulchre, and St. John’s Timberhill, St. George, and St. Augustine, fill up the register of ecclesiastical edifices; each possesses some particular claim to notice, down to the legend of the Lady in the Oak, that gave a distinctive title to the church of St. Martin at Oak, where her image once figured in an oak tree in the churchyard, and wrought wondrous miracles, which caused so much adoration to be paid to the graven image, that the purgers of idolatry in good young King Edward’s reign, found it needful to displace it from its high position, and cut down the tree in which it stood.

Among the biographies associated with the various districts over which these patron saints may be said to hold their reign, are those of the eminent divine, Dr. Samuel Clarke, of the seventeenth century; Kay, or Caius, the founder of Caius College, Cambridge; Professors Hooker and Lindley, the great botanists; William Taylor, Sayer, Sedgwick, Gurney, Opie, and Borrow, among the literary celebrities of the age; Professor Taylor and Dr. Bexfield, names known well in the musical world, and many others, whose lives and works entitle them to be ranked among the leading characters p. 350of their time; while in the medical profession, the names and fame of Martineau and Crosse have become European.  Few of these can we pause to sketch—many of them are among the number of those whose work is not yet done; and of others it may be said that their memory is too fresh in the hearts of those bound to them by chords of affection and friendship, for a “stranger to intermeddle” therewith.

William Taylor was the friend and correspondent of Southey.  It is said, in his “Life,” that he once jocosely remarked, “If ever I write my own life, I shall commence it in the following grandiloquent manner; ‘Like Plato, like Sir Isaac Newton, like Frederick Leopold, Count Stolberg, I was born on the 7th of November, and, like Mrs. Opie and Sir James Edward Smith, I was baptized by the Rev. Samuel Bourn, then the Presbyterian minister of the Octagon chapel.’”  His attainments as a German scholar were notorious, and his metaphysical writings earned for him a widely-extended fame.  His translations of German theological works, may be regarded as the first introduction of that school of literature, that is at this moment deluging our country with the copious streams of philosophy, whose deep and subtle waters, whether invigorating or noxious, are spreading themselves through every channel of society in our land.

p. 351William Jackson Hooker, the son of a manufacturer of Norwich, rose to the rank of Regius Professor of Botany, in the University of Glasgow.  In early life he was spoken of by Sir James Smith as the first cryptogamic botanist of the time, and his after-works proved the accuracy of the opinion.  His “Muscologia Brittannica,” and “Monograph on the Genus Jungermannia,” are unrivalled as guides to the scientific enquirer, and, with his other works, may be classed among the gems of English literature.  In the course of his rambles in the neighbourhood of his native city, he discovered, in a fir-wood near Sprowston, that quaint, curious, one-sided looking little moss, called Buxbaumia aphylla, which, destitute of any visible foliage, rears its little club-like seed-vessels upon its foot-stalks in the most eccentric possible manner.  The muscologist may search long and often ere a specimen may meet his eye, even within the precincts of the grove where Dr. Hooker first discovered it; but many another rare and beautiful contribution to a moss herbarium shall reward him for his pains, especially the elegant Bartramia, with its exquisitely soft velvet foliage, and globular seed-vessels, to be met with in such rich abundance in few other soils.

Lindley, the Professor of Botany in the London University, is another genius raised from the nursery grounds of the Old City; his father having followed p. 352the profession of horticulture at Catton, one of the suburbs of Norwich.

One more biographical notice must close our list, and with it we make an end of our chronicles and “Rambles in an Old City.”

To those who were among the privileged number of friends, acquaintances, or even fellow-citizens of Joseph John Gurney, it will be easy to imagine why so beautiful a subject has been chosen for the closing sketch of our “pencillings by the way;” and the world at large will see in the name of the great philanthropist, whose memory sheds a sacred halo over every spot familiar with the deeds of gentle loving-kindness, tender mercy, and active benevolence, that marked his earthly career—a meet theme from which to borrow a ray of glory to brighten the scene of our “Ramblings,” as the landscape borrows a golden tint from the lingering beams of the sun that has set beneath the horizon.

As the brother of Elizabeth Fry, her fellow-worker in the field of usefulness, and her companion in her memorable visits to the prisons of England, Ireland, Scotland, and the Continent, his history could not have failed to possess a deep interest, even apart from the individual characteristics of his bright and beautiful home-life, and the lustre shed upon his name by its familiar association with those of Clarkson, Wilberforce, and Buxton, in the cause of slave emancipation.

p. 353The third son of John and Catherine Gurney, and sister of Priscilla Wakefield, he was born at Earlham Hall, August 2d, 1788.  It is a singular fact connected with the name, that one of his ancestors, in 1653, was sent a prisoner to the Norwich gaol, for refusing to take the oath, and that Waller Bacon, of Earlham, who committed him, resided at the time in the very Hall which the descendants of the prisoner afterwards occupied.  When Joseph was only four years of age, the family of eleven children lost the superintending care of their mother, and his home education mainly devolved upon his three elder sisters, among whom was Mrs. Fry.  Their home was the scene of rich hospitality, dealt out by their liberal-minded father; and the literary tastes, intellectual pursuits, and elegant accomplishments, in which every member of the social group delighted, drew around them a brilliant circle of the choicest society, to which the late Duke of Gloucester was a frequent and welcome addition.

The scholastic instruction of Joseph John was at first superintended by a clergyman, and afterwards matured at Oxford, where he attended the professor’s lectures, and enjoyed many of the advantages of the university, without becoming a member or subscribing to the thirty-nine articles.

Such an education naturally tended to create some doubts as to the system of Quakerism; but after much p. 354examination and consideration, his preference became settled in favour of the views and profession of his old “Friends;” and consistently with them he lived and died, by no means finding in them any barrier to the fullest and freest association with any other body of Christians, or to a personal friendship with the ecclesiastical bishops of the diocese, with one of whom, Bishop Bathurst, he was a frequent and esteemed guest; while to Bishop Stanley was left the melancholy opportunity of bearing a testimony to his public and private character, in the memorable form of a funeral sermon from the cathedral pulpit, a tribute of respect unexampled since the days of George Fox.  His life spent in doing good, in preaching as the minister of the society to which he belonged, in England, Ireland, upon the Continent, and in America, was full of interest.  In the legislative hall, at Washington, before the assembled members of Congress, his voice was heard.  Louis Philippe, Guizot, and De Stael, were among his auditors in France; the King of Holland abandoned, through his counsel, the importation of slave soldiers from the Gold Coast; Vinet at Lausanne, D’Aubigne in Geneva, and the King of Wirtemberg, held council with him.  To attempt to chronicle his deeds of pecuniary munificence, public and private, would be an herculean task.  The great sums lavished upon public societies, the world of necessity was made acquainted p. 355with, but they formed but a moiety of the aids furnished from his abundance to the wants of the needy.  He was truly one whose left hand was not suffered to know the deeds of its fellow.  The sick and the poor, at home and abroad, the industrious and the struggling, the aged and the young—each and all shared his bounty and loving help, for he was one who gave, and did not fling his charities down from the proud heights of opulence, so that poverty might blush to pick them up.  But the record of his life was inscribed upon the page of history in characters indelible by the tears that watered his pathway to the tomb.  We have made a faint effort to paint the last solemn scene that marked the close of the lamented Bishop Stanley’s career, and were almost tempted to place side by side with it the shade of grief that hung over the city when the great “Friend” was suddenly called home from his labours of usefulness and love upon earth.  Few will ever be able to forget the scene of mourning and sorrow that followed the unlooked-for event, or the almost unparalleled silence of woe that was written upon every heart and countenance among the thronging thousands that attended to pay the last tributes of respect at the grave of the beloved and honoured philanthropist; when Magistrates and Artizans, Clergymen and Dissenting Ministers, Churchmen, Independents, Baptists, Methodists, and Friends, representatives of every grade of society and shade of religious opinion p. 356that the Old City could send forth, gathered around that lowly spot of earth to drop a tear, and seek inspiration from the spirit of love that seemed to breathe around the silent tomb.  And who will forget the thrilling prayer offered up from the lips of the widowed mourner, who fulfilled, in the midst of that heart-stricken multitude, her measure of obedience to the will of Heaven and the duty of self-government, by public prayer and thanksgiving.  Who does not rank among the noblest of the many noble sermons of the good Bishop Stanley, the far-sounding appeal that was sent forth from the pulpit of his cathedral, “Watchman, what of the night?”—the commemorating words that have been inseparably linked with the name and memory of Joseph John Gurney from that hour.

Years have passed since these events occurred, but the remembrance of them is vivid; the rich legacy bequeathed to the Old City by the holy life, walk, and conversation of such a man is not soon expended; but treasured in the sanctuary of many loving hearts, it is nurtured, and brings forth fruit, fifty, seventy, and a hundred-fold, to the honour and glory of God, and to immortalize the memory of a faithful servant in the vineyard of souls.




j. billing, printer, woking, surrey.


[0]  These corrections have been applied in this Project Gutenberg eText.—DP.

[5]  Erasmus Earle, a celebrated lawyer.

[223]  A place of judgment.

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