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that the rest of the party will look upon you as
one who wants too much for his money.

Who has not noticed in these show-house parties
that there is always somebody who entirely ignores

Picturesque Old Houses 85

what the housekeeper has to say, and persistently lags
behind, and who has to be waited for as one enters each
separate apartment, ere that lady can commence her
oration ; noticed also the minute details that some of the
ladies of the party are anxious to extract relative to
the social functions of the living representatives of
the house ; noticed the bated breath with which " his
lordship" or "her grace" or "the Lady Susan" are
spoken about, and finally noticed how, among the
jingling of florins at parting, some of -the party
slide off and softly replace their coins in their pockets?

To see all the pictures at Petworth properly
would take at least half a dozen visits. What a
boon it would be were it possible (which of course
it would not be) to take one's leisure here, as one
may at the unrivalled Wallace Collection.

Of the numerous Vandycks, an impression is left
on my memory of one particularly fine full-length
of Queen Henrietta Maria in a blue dress and a
great black hat ; certainly one of the most pleasing
portraits I have ever seen of this rather vindictive
queen. The elaborate oak carvings by Gibbons,
which surround all the portraits in this particular
room, are as fine as, if not finer than, those of
Chatsworth. The light colour of the unvarnished

86 Picturesque Old Houses

oak also adds materially to the colouring of the
paintings quite as much as the dark setting of cedar-
wood shows out the Vandycks at Warwick Castle.

Petworth town is very rich in curious bits of
architecture. The almshouse, of Queen Anne date,
is a curious, lofty brick building, containing a pretty
little staircase.

As is well known, the country between Haslemere,
Midhurst, and Petworth presents some of the most
beautiful scenery in the South of England. Between
the latter two are many old houses, including the
famous ruins and walks of Cowdray. The road also
between Midhurst and Petersfield runs through some
delightful scenery, and that to the south of the
railway running parallel with it is even more attractive.
Of the villages here I have the most pleasant
recollection of Harting, and of the old seat of the
Tankervilles, Up Park, the house that was built by
Ford, Lord Grey, that reckless companion of the weak,
handsome, ill-fated Duke of Monmouth. A certain
sad and romantic interest clings to Up Park, for
here the profligate Grey abducted his sister-in-law
from her father's house of the Durdans, near Epsom,
carrying her afterwards into Holland, where he
joined his luckless friend in the ill-advised insurrection

Picturesque Old Houses 87

which cost the latter his head. 1 What became of
Lady Henrietta Berkeley nobody knows. There is no
record of her interment at Cranford, the burial-place
of the Berkeley family, or here.

I was trying to get a peep at the old house when
a clergyman, suddenly emerging from an entrance
into the park, kindly offered his services. I had
corresponded with this gentlemen, and, seeing my
interest in the place, he asked whether we had not
exchanged letters, with the result that I was invited
to put up that night at the vicarage. This courtesy
I gladly accepted, and was taken by my kind host
first to see the mansion, and afterwards, by a gradual
descent down to the village, through the most
romantic winding road in the heart of a forest of
beech-trees, and 1 shall never forget the beautiful
effect of the golden sunset between the tracery of the
fairy canopy of green. My hospitable friend had a
kind word for every one, and I should imagine
had a very practical way of doing good.

Being a bachelor, his house was kept as a sort
of open establishment for his parishioners. In the
pretty grounds they came to amuse themselves or to
be instructed a contingent of school youngsters came

1 Vide King Monmouth.


Picturesque Old Houses

to tea once a week, and the specially favoured to
breakfast with their generous pastor. He gave up
his own pretty bedroom, as a matter of course, to a
stranger a bedroom with a sunny outlook over the

Harting *

meadows, so bright and so cheerful that to awake in
it in the morning was to rejoice and feel as light-
hearted as the lark outside carrying his song up
to the sky. Everything seemed to heighten the
universal harmony of the scene, from the sleepy

Picturesque Old Houses 89

" caw " of the passing rook to the distant tinkle of
the sheep bell.

It was Sunday morning, and I had to journey on
to Chichester. My host left me making preparations
for departure ; but no sooner had he gone in the
direction of his church than I noticed a strange com-
motion up in one of the apple-trees in the orchard,
a novel sight to me viz., a swarm of bees. I have
heard somewhere that it is an old custom in Sussex
before taking possession of a swarm to play them
a kind of impromptu tattoo on the warming-pan.
Why, I cannot say at any rate, as far as I am
aware, this was not the mode of procedure here. 1
did not, however, wait to witness the capture.

The main attraction Chichester way lay in the
direction of Racton, to the west, and close upon the
border of Hampshire. Here in the church are some
good tombs to the Counter family, but their old house
has long since disappeared.

Nine years before Charles II. was restored to his
throne, Colonel Counter, of Racton, was one of the
chief agents in getting the King safely out of the
country, after he had been wandering about for weeks
disguised, enduring terrible hardships. The loyal
colonel has left behind him a record of the im-

90 Picturesque Old Houses

portant part he played in the drama how Lord
Wilmot (the father of the witty and debauched poet)
came to his house one night; how the colonel's wife
was mystified, and how, like most women, she suc-
ceeded in worming out the secret ; how also, after
a hundred strange incidents, he stood on the beach
near Shoreham watching Captain Tattersall's little craft,
with its precious cargo, growing smaller and smaller
as it sailed merrily towards the coast of France. 1

Lordington House at Racton has not shared the
fate of its neighbour, the home of the Counters.
It is a plain-looking Stuart house, but its interior
contains some good panelled rooms and a wonderfully
fine oak staircase with great monsters supporting
shields upon the various landings. The house was
occupied by cottagers, and the rooms were most of
them disused and in a terrible state of dust and
decay. At the bottom of a weed-grown garden were
the imposing piers of an entrance gate picturesque,
but, like the rest, fast crumbling into ruin. A house
like this, of course, must have its ghost. The old
elm avenue is said to be haunted by the spectral
form of a woman with a band of red around her
throat, supposed to be the aged Countess of Salisbury.
1 Vide The Flight of the King.



BEFORE going into Hampshire, let us return to
East Grinstead and strike northwards into the
south-east corner of beautiful Surrey. At this junc-
tion of the three counties Sussex, Surrey, and Kent
each may be seen at its best, more especially as
regards picturesque old houses. It would be difficult
to find a stretch of country of more general interest
to the antiquary than that between Bidborough and
Westerham, in Kent, and Horley, in Surrey. This
will include some of the most perfect specimens
of " half-timber " in the South of England viz.,
houses near Bidborough and Penshurst churches,
at Chiddingstone, and a remarkable specimen at
Pound's Bridge, which is now a roadside inn, but
once upon a time was a parsonage. Upon the
front are the initials of its original owner and the
date 1593. The village street of Chiddingstone
stands unrivalled as a picture. Such a complete row

of ancient houses it would be difficult to find


92 Picturesque Old Houses

anywhere else in England. Of recent years it has
been a favourite resort of artists, whose easels in the
summer time are posed in all directions. At the
back of the combination village inn and butcher's
shop is the " chiding stone," but I cannot recall its

At the historic houses of Penshurst and Hever,
close by, I think I got my earliest impressions of
an ancient mansion. Upon a recent visit to the
former I was struck by the comparatively small size
of its state apartments with what I had imagined
them to be. The youthful eye is certainly prone
to magnify. The old gallery where stands that
queer old red and gold spinnet, and where hangs
that eccentric picture of Elizabeth and her favourite,
Leicester, cutting very high capers looked strangely
stunted. I had imagined it to be full three times
its length. These fine old rooms are rich in
portraits of the sad-faced Sidneys, and if we would
add to their realism, we may find in the private
apartments innumerable locks of hair of Sir Philip,
of the beautiful " Sacharissa," of Algernon and his
brother, the " handsome Sidney," who, according to
De Gramont's Memoirs, played havoc with the
hearts of the fair and frail at the Court of the

Picturesque Old Houses 93

Merry Monarch. By no means the least attraction
at Penshurst are the old gardens, with their trim
yew hedges, fishponds, fountains, and sundials, and
the terrace steps leading to " Sacharissa's Walk," an
avenue of venerable limes. Here the handsome
Dorothy Sidney was wont to walk, as was the custom
of Dorothy Vernon on the romantic terrace of
Haddon, though, alas ! the poet-admirer of the
former got but little encouragement, whereas the other
love story terminated happily, if I remember aright.

Hever, I understand, has been restored of late.
It may be all that one could wish now, but the old
moated castle, or, rather, fortified manor house, when
I was there was in the picturesque condition of
Haddon time-worn and moss and lichen coloured.
So little disturbed was (and I hope still is) the
ancient character of the little interior quadrangle,
that one could almost imagine the stalwart figure
of square-shouldered Henry advancing beneath the
portcullis, and the beautiful Anne Boleyn crossing
the courtyard to welcome her Royal lover.

Nearer to Edenbridge and Lingfield are the manor
houses of Crittenden, Puttenden, and Crowhurst.
The first of these contains a very compact little
panelled hall, with a fixed settle running round the

94 Picturesque Old Houses

room and a good carved oak chimney-piece. At
the moated house of Crowhurst, Henry VIII. is
traditionally said to have planted a yew hedge upon
one of his occasional visits en route for Hever.
Some of the rooms here are lined round with
horizontal beams of oak, and there are fine oak ceilings
with fluted girders and joists. The Hall has been
divided, but the original timber roof is intact. To
make a short cut from Lingfield to Puttenden, I was
sent across the fields and told to go straight ahead.
I did so, but soon found further progress impeded by
a high thorn hedge, but, after minute scrutiny, I
discovered a stile in the corner of the meadow.
Once more I went straight ahead, and this time was
stopped by a river. When I had wandered along
its banks for about a mile looking for a crossing, and
in desperation was making preparations for wading,
I noticed the little foot-bridge in the distance, and,
crossing this, I soon found myself at Puttenden.
It may be very easy to go " straight ahead " when you
know the way. But some country folk are as lavish
with their minute directions as others are brief.
You are told to go by Mr. Giles's farm, and round
by Mr. Snooks's paddock, and keep the spinney
to the left, and you will find a gate, etc. You



Picturesque Old Houses 95

follow these instructions, as far as you are able, to
the letter, and you discover three gates. Then, if a
large tree, or a gap in the trees, has been pointed
out as a landmark, can one ever keep that landmark
in sight in the windings and turnings you have to
take to get to it? Perhaps those who have the
bump of locality well defined are more successful
than myself in such matters.

The old manor house of Puttenden had recently
fallen into good hands. Its possessor was restoring
it in admirable taste ; not only was he superin-
tending the work, but he was himself busily engaged in
the carpentering department. I wish every old house
had the good fortune to fall into such sympathetic
hands. The hall is a noble apartment, with a roof of
prodigious oak beams, and one of the largest and finest
Tudor chimney-pieces to be found for miles around,
bearing the arms of the former possessors.

Another fine old timber manor house is Block-
field, a few miles to the south of Puttenden, which
externally is more picturesque than any of the
foregoing. It is moated, and the architecture points
to the latter part of the fifteenth century. The
plaster beneath the eaves of the roof is coved,
like that at the old house at Harrietsham, and there

96 Picturesque Old Houses

remains on one side of the entrance door a curious
oak buttress, which was evidently balanced by a
companion on the opposite side. There is herring-
bone brickwork between the timber beams, and on
one side of the house is the original (but now
blocked up) fifteenth-century bay window. The door-
ways, back and front, are large in comparison to the
house, and presumably were added in the seventeenth
century. The farmer in occupation was on the
eve of leaving, both on account of the bad times
generally and the isolated position of the house, for
it stands a long way off the high road, but in com-
parison to The Moat at Gravetye I think I should
prefer premature burial here of the two.

There is another old house close to Lingfield,
which, as I remember it some years ago, before the
railway got there, was as perfect a little Jacobean
stone-gabled manor house as one could wish to
see ; but now in place of the diamond-paned case-
ments are those terrible plate-glass windows, and a
charming entrance gate has been taken out of the
garden wall and now forms the entrance door to the
house. This gateway may be seen in its original
position in the pathetic picture by Seymour Lucas,
R,A.*' For the King and the Cause " a wounded


Picturesque Old Houses 97

cavalier brought upon a litter for succour to some
mansion in the vicinity of Edgehill one of those
graphic pictures which at a glance tells its own

The old Guest Hall near Lingfield Church has
recently been carefully restored, and the original
doorways and windows opened out. There are many
other old houses here, but since the railway has
arrived the village is, alas ! assuming a suburban
appearance, though the old stone lock-up and an
older obelisk adjoining it, with a still older tree
beside it, form a group that is quite out of keeping
with a modernised village.

Among the monuments in the church is the
recumbent effigy of the knight Sir Reginald of Ster-
burgh, which gives one a good idea of the costumes
and armour of the fourteenth century. The brasses
are also fine, and there are stalls with carved miserere
seats, a chained Bible, and an old helmet surmounted
by a crest of a bird.

Another fine old stone Tudor house with a good
interior is Smallfield Place, near the village of Home,
to the west of Lingfield.

Farther south-west, below Ockley and near the
Sussex border, are Osbrook, Bonnets, and King's Farms


98 Picturesque Old Houses

three remarkably picturesque old farmsteads, with
gable ends, clustered chimney-stacks, oriel windows,
overhanging stories, cosy porches in fact, everything
that is in keeping. I have seen these delightful old
buildings covered with a mantle of snow and with
cheery lights flickering in the old diamond-paned
windows ; poetic pictures such as Read used to depict
in the old Christmas numbers of the Illustrated
London News. What a pity, by the way, these
have never been reproduced collectively in book form
or in separate plates ! There is a blending of the real
and the ideal which should appeal to many.

The description of Baynards Hall in one of Hone's
books the Tear Book, I think surely must have
sent many lovers of picturesque old houses in quest
of it. I for one went down to Rudgwick, and as far
as beautiful country went, I was quite content, but
alas ! the disappointment in Baynards ! It had been
restored and " improved " at a time when " restora-
tion " and " improvement " meant ruin.

The neighbourhood of Godalming and Guildford
abounds in ornamental timber houses such as one
sees in Cheshire and Shropshire. In the manor
houses of Bramley and Great Tangley is that
circular timber pattern of ornamentation which has

Picturesque Old Houses 99

so pleasing an effect. In the by-lanes hereabouts
are several such. The stately mansions of Loseley
and Sutton Place are, of course, two of the most
interesting buildings in the county. The exterior
of Loseley fell as short of my expectations as
that of Sutton exceeded them. The rich colour
and ornamentation of the terra-cotta front of
Sutton is superb. In my opinion it is the slate
roof of Loseley which spoils it. With those
large slabs of stone so common in the county the
effect would be quite different. The drawing-room,
with its elaborately carved Elizabethan fireplace,
pendent ceiling, and stained glass, is a gorgeous
apartment. If I remember aright, there is a
drawing of it in Nash's Mansions. Among the
portraits of the More and Molineux families are
some of historical interest, that of Anne Boleyn, for
instance, which may originally have come from her
old home at Hever. In the old gardens is a long
raised terrace with an old-fashioned flower-bed run-
ning its entire length, and one of those little
pavilions or music-houses at the end, where perchance
many soft nothings have been pleaded by faithful
and faithless swains.

Alfold, Dunsfold, and Chiddingfold, far away

ioo Picturesque Old Houses

from the railway to the south of Godalming, and
near the border of Sussex, are quite old-world
villages, and they abound in half-timber and Sussex-
tiled cottages. The u Crown Inn " at the last may be
specified as a good example. The stocks and whipping-
post at Alfold are similar to those at White Waltham,
in Berkshire, of which 1 give an illustration later on.
We are here in a country of folds, as we were
among the dens in Kent. There is Paddingfold,
Polingfold, Frithfold, Upfold, and all other kinds
of " folds." Burningfold, like Bramley and Tangley,
has the pretty circular timber ornamentation in its
gable ends.

As regards Hampshire, my impressions are very
limited, for I am ashamed to own I am a stranger to
its principal beauty the New Forest. My remarks
must, therefore, be confined to a few places between
Eversley in the north-east, Winchester, and Emsworth
in the south-east.

The first mentioned of these boundary points, so
famous for its Charles Kingsley associations, is the
most beautifully situated old village, but the raptures
of my first impression were sadly damped as, after
a long cycle run from the north of London, I was
unable to get a bed there as I had wished, and as I



Picturesque Old Houses 101

was equally unfortunate at the village of Bramdean
on the night following, I naturally came to the con-
clusion that if one wants to get a night's lodging
in Hampshire, elsewhere than in the village lock-up,
it would be as well not to fix beforehand upon
any definite spot, and in any case previously to
write and charter a bed. Where I did eventually
succeed in finding a resting-place, at the nearest
point to Eversley, was at a fashionable hotel near
the Wellington College at Sandhurst, situated in a
lovely spot and literally buried in rhododendrons.
As a rule, I avoid these grand establishments, but I
must admit I had no reason to regret putting up
in this one indeed, I should say it would be an
ideal place to spend a holiday, enjoying the combina-
tion of lovely country and luxurious living.

My introduction to Emsworth was on the evening
of a hot July day one of those glorious evenings
about half an hour before the sun sinks behind
the horizon, when everything is tinged with the
soft red light. The most commonplace bit of road
is a picture at such a time, and I recollect I often
halted to enjoy the colour of things which under
ordinary circumstances would have no attraction
whatever. An ordinary tarred five-barred gate leading

IO2 Picturesque Old Houses

into a hayfield with a high thorn hedge by it, and
a prodigious growth of nettles, does not sound as
if it could be beautiful under any aspect, still, I
remember being struck by the wonderful harmony
of colours of this combination. The black gates
under the influence of the setting sun had the rich
colouring of the bloom on a damson, the dusty
sandy road had the delicate pink of a sea-shell, the
young shoots of the thorn hedge were so many
spikes of gold relieved by the nettles, which were
now purple. Above all, a huge poppy shone a
flame of scarlet against a distant hill of deep blue.
Possibly this attempt at description may read ridiculous,
but I remember trying to analyse the colours upon
the spot so as account for the harmonious results.
What are the pleasures of the whole day in a long
summer's ride compared with the last half-hour before
the sun dips down ?

Had I been more sensible and practical, I should
not thus have wasted my time, but sought a resting-
place for the night, for, after all, it is unreasonable
to suppose that any good housewife would feel inclined
to prepare an extra bed when the majority of country
folk are thinking of turning in. One most inviting-
looking old hostelry, all gable ends and cosy corners,

Picturesque Old Houses 103

had, alas ! abandoned itself to a local feast of some
sort, and was up to the ears or chimneys, rather with
noisy revellers, who oozed out of every window
from roof to cellar. The brass band, of course,
was there in full force, and on the village green were
cokernut shies, shooting galleries, round-abouts which
played feverish waltzes by steam, and many another
village fair amusement. I did not wait long enough
to notice whether they ran to " a fat woman " or "a
living skeleton," nor did I seek for lodgings, but,
hastening to another inn at an adjoining hamlet,
asked if I could be accommodated there. The land-
lord seemed willing enough, but his buxom spouse
scoffed at the idea. " You'll get a bed at the
Wellington Hotel," said she, " and you'll have to
pay for it." Well, that was only natural. " People
who expect to get a bed this time o' night," she
continued, " can't get one for nothing" That was
also true enough, but I question if they could even
if they applied for one in the middle of the day.

Many pilgrims, of course, go to Eversley for its
Kingsley associations, and much has been written
about that great writer's home and country pursuits.
My object in coming here was less to worship at
that shrine than to see the wonders of grand old

Picturesque Old Houses

Bramshill House ; so next morning I returned to
Eversley Common, and, taking a road through a
forest of magnificent Scotch firs the finest in Eng-
land, or Scotland either for that matter I soon came
to the moss-grown garden wall, with a little recess
for seats, and Jacobean ornaments aloft, the most
delightful of resting-places.

There is something about the exterior of Brams-
hill which surpasses almost any other old mansion
I have ever seen, but whether the greater charm
lies in its colour or picturesque architecture, I cannot
say. Along the eastern side, facing the smoothest
of bowling greens, is a raised terrace with stone
balustrade and alcoves at either end, something in
the style of that at Ham House, near Petersham.
Each wing, courtyard, or quadrangle has some
peculiarity about a gable, bay window, or porch,
and of these the west front is the most remarkable
a curious combination of Jacobean, Grecian, and
Gothic ornamentation.

The interior of the mansion is quite in keeping
with its exterior. The old rooms have, many of
them, huge black marble chimney-pieces running up
to the ceilings, carved oak wainscoting, tapestry, and
portraits of the Copes for generations past ; there


Picturesque Old Houses 105

is also an old chapel, and a long gallery running the

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Online LibraryAllan FeaPicturesque old houses; being the impressions of a wanderer off the beaten track → online text (page 5 of 11)