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haps so much unlike our own condition as we are apt to
think from the foreshortened backward view, of the more
]:)rominent events that overshadow them, which v/e get
from history. The story — very likely a true one — that on
the morning of Naseby a gentleman ^^dth his hounds was
met by the King with his army, will be remembered as
continuing this constant pacific subtexture of human
affairs down towards our own times. The results of
peaceful production and of, at least rudimentary, com-
merce, must have already existed before the attempts to
seize, and the struggles to keep them.

202 WHAT 18 A TOWN.

Tlie pacific or commercial cause of these mere towns is
however not only manifest in their obvious necessity — the
positive need, from the very first, of places of mutual
resort and intercourse Ijetween primitive neigliljouring
village settlements — but may, it is thought, be discerned
in a general characteristic, still to be observed in the
ground-plans of most of them. The typical contrast of
]3lan between the ancient English city and the ancient
English town must be familiar to even the most unobservant
wayfarer. The ancient part of a city almost always still
consists of a boundary, originally fortified, approximating
to a quadrangle ; with four principal entrances admitting
four ways that meet in a rectangular cross at the centi-e.
All the subordinate streets more or less obey this rect-
angular precedent, and even late accretions repeat the
square masses. But a town has thvea principal ap-
proaches, meating at a central triangular space, usually
occupied by the market — where a market survives — and
the smaller streets often acknowledge a governing
tendency to feather off into repetitions of this triangular
rule. In fact, whilst the original city was designed of set
purpose, and fortified, and the primitive village or tribal
settlement was planted or colonized, and probably inclosed,
at a chosen spot ; the town, on the contrary, has <jrown up
between them s})ontaneously, out of a mere natural

As long as two neighbouring rural settlements desired
to meet, either for conference or barter, any spot on the
interval or path between them would serve ; and no
accustomed or appointed place of meeting would be
necessary. They had only to approach each other until
they met. But when the intercourse was to be between
three or more, the j)oint where two paths or trackways
join into one would, from obvious convenience or ex-
pediency, become the appointed place of meeting. Con-
ferences of this kind, where the parties are more than two,
would soon bring into action a new principle. The
presence of two buyers to one seller, or of two sellers to
to one buyer, constitutes the suljstratum of Market-
price — the first rudiment of trade. These triangular
s})ots, therefore, are the first cradle of that giant whom
we now see, with his seven-league boots — ships and


railways— striding across oceans and continents. This
new principle, which we now call commerce, once
quickened, would induce a frequent repetition of the
gatherings at these places, and they would speedily
become peiiodical — that is, they would be markets, fairs,
and perhaps religious festivals. The want of some per-
manent shelter would next be felt and supplied, after-
wards continued to our day in the market cross, now
being developed into the market-house with the town-
hall. Close at hand Avould be pitched the refreshment
booth, afterwards to become the more permanent inn.
Then would follow the shoeing forge, the general shop,
and the other appliances not only for the occasional wants
of congregated numbers, but also for a supply of exotic
home comforts until the next meeting. All this change
and progress would meanwhile leave their first cause,
the forked trackway, as they found it, and as we now
find it. In aftertimes the missionary would take advan-
tage of these central assemblages of the country district,
and hold field -preachings in one of the three interval
spaces left by the forked road ; and his teachings would
afterwards be perpetuated in the church, named perhaps
after some famous apostolic teacher, whose disciple or
suffragan he was, or after the naine of his predecessor,
who had been rewarded for his misconstrued message of
peace by mariyrdom upon that very spot.

The case of these toM^s of emergence includes their
chief organic function, the market, as already suggested
intimately involved in their cause. Not being "sought
beyond what is written, the origin of markets is usually
attributed to special grants, actual or presupposed ; but,
like other steps in social progress, although of independent
origin, political exigency speedily brought them under
state control. This, it ^^dll be rememlDcred, was the fate
of the printing press : also of that greater institution,
within which the memory of this native imnnuiity, and
the struggle against subjection, still smoulders. As
central governments increased in power they purposely
restricted the number of places where markets and
assemblages of people might be held, both for the enforce-
ment of pohce supervision against fraudulent sales, and
for security against revolt. One of the la^'s of Wilham


tliG Conqueror expressly limits them to cities, walled
boroughs, and fortresses. The original markets, therefore,
may have been fiir more numerous than we now find them.
A natural centralizing tendency must have since come
into action in favour of the superior attractions of those
within the cities and boroughs, and hi the larger towns.
Improvements of roads and in the means of travelling,
and the passing of markets out of this original natural
free or ojDtional state into that of subjection to royal pre-
rogative and manorial right, have no doubt greatly
restricted their numbers. These orio-inal markets are in
many cases, probably, still represented by the village green,
with its maypole sometimes yet standing. For even here
the fairs, revels, and annual festivals, and the occasional
pitching of wild -beast-shows, conserve that sense of a
pul)lic right to assemble there which has prevented their

This initial triangular rule is still wonderfully persistent
even in those towns which have grown up to be the rivals
of cities and even of capitals It is not only still to be
traced in the ancient nucleus around which the largest of
our towns have gathered themselves, but is often so
vigorous as to germinate throughout their most extensive
accretions and suburbs. This may be partly due to the
approaches from the country having necessarily conformed
to the trifold character of their central terminus, and the
overflows of the town have naturally flanked the roads
already existing. In some cases even the necessary en-
largement of the market-place itself, although very great,
has continued the triangular form which had been first
impressed ujjon its centre. In the noble example of
Nottinofham this triano;ular law is still suDreme. In
others of the largest towns it may still be made out,
although much overlaid, or obscured, or almost obliterated.
In Manchester some traces of it may be discerned in the
old Market-place, contiguous to the parish — collegiate —
now cathedral — church ; ]jut, influenced perhaps by re-
mains of Roman "streets, the present great town had
already assumed the general quadrangular aspect of a
city, long before it was tardily promoted to that dignity :
or more likely its great sudden growth may have resulted
in an analogy with Berlin. At Birmingham also the


ancient triangular centre is still very conspicuous in " The
Bull King," a name in which one of its festival purposes
has deposed the utilitarian one of " The Market Place."
The name " Bull Pdng" also remains at the central area
at Kidderminster ; and in other towns not only in the
Midland counties, but m other parts of England.

Good, perfect, and luialtered specimens of this ideal of
a town are indeed very frequent all over the kingdom,
and three or four at least used to be passed through
during a short journey from one city to another.
Tewkesbury is a good example ; so also Shrewsbury,
Faversham, Tiverton, and others ; and although Leland
failed to discern the general jDrinciple which now engages
our attention, this characteristic of the plan of a
town in one instance attracted his notice. He describes
Thornbury, Gloucestershire, as we now see it, — "to
the proportion of the letter Y, having first one long
Strete and two Hornnes goynge owt of it."^ This
principle is also very obvious at Alcester, Warwick-
shire ; from which it may be inferred that the Ptoman
Chester, still remembered in the name, had become
desolate, and that travellers already passed by it,
without using its forsaken streets, before the adjoining
English town arose in the spontaneous manner here sugges-
ted. Not many increasing English towns have continued
almost to our own time contracted within the limits of
chronic fortification ; but v/here this has happened, as at
Sandwich, — still confined within an ancient earthen wall
similar to that of Wareham — the feathered tendency of
the street plan has, by compression, been contorted into
some approach to what is called flamboyant.

In many cases the increase of the market, instead of
enlarging the triangle, has preferred to overflow into one
of its three arms, the one street being much widened
to receive it ; as at Chipping-Sodbury, Marlborough.
Southmolton, and very many towns in the south-west of
England. The large square markets resembling the
Flemish Grande Place, especially frequent in the north of
England — as at Eipon, Kichmond, Leyburn, and Dar-
lington — may ]je a still further development of this same

• liin., vol. vii, fol. 746.


method of enlargement by widening one of the three
arms. But in both of these classes it will generally be
found that two entrances remain at one end, Avhilst there
is only one outlet at the other.

What the numerous " tons" really represent are the
centres of the original territorial unit, the colony or
township or tithing which became the constituent of the
hundred, and itself afterwards chiefly merged in the rural
parish ; in which the " tons," although still the merest
villages, are now often called the "church-town." When-
ever this settlement of the rural tithings or townships
into parishes took effect, such of the upsprung towns as
had provided themselves with churches of their own made
good a share in that arrangement, resolving themselves
into one or several independent parishes. But it does not
seem likely that a plurality of parishes in a town, even in
the old larger towns and boroughs, hands down any
original divisions of it, or au}^ planted constitution. Any
such intramural plurality of parishes would arise from
oft'shoots or accretions of emergency : constitutional
organizations or privileges being superinduced when the
commimity was ripe for them, or powerful enough to
obtain them. It is hardly likely that even a municipal
borough was, as has been claimed for it, "nothing more
than a hundred, or an assemblage of hundreds, surrounded
by a moat, a stoccade, or a wall."' Although apparently
ignored in written evidences, their growth by successive
accretion is attested by an extrinsic monument. The
dedications of the churches, in the oldest of our large
towns, indicate a succession of diftierent ages, and even of
different peoples. The town of Bristol, for example, shews
a stratified sTiccession of dedications from tlie first half of
the eighth century (a.d. 741) downwards. And even
the chesters, that still preserve their lioman plan and
outline, have been materially resuscitated in this pro-
gressive manner. Exeter, for example, presents accessions
of different ages and nations in the names of the churches ;
and a reference to a plan in this Journal will shew the
churches accumulated near the arterial centre, ])y later
deposit, with a considerable luioccupiecl space nearer the

' iSii' F. Palgravc, Eiial. C'o}iim., p. 102.
-Vol. XXX," p. 212.


walls. Dorchester is a smaller example of this. So that
although country parishes may have, to a great extent,
continued earlier civil divisions of land, those within even
the most ancient towns do not transmit any ancient
municipal organization, but are rather ratifications of the
limits of those for whom the churches had been estab-
lished, either aschapelries or ofishoots of mother churches,
or of additional colonies of townsmen. In the case of Exeter
the civil division which survived was still later than the
parochial ; for while the parish boundaries had respected
the more ancient line of street, the civic wards are found
in accordance with the mediaeval deviation from that line,
made a.d. 1286.

On the other hand, existing specimens are far from
uncommon, of important old towns, of our occasional
or undesigned class, that must have grown up since the
settlement of rural parishes, still remaining in a parasite
condition within the precincts of the parishes, but quite
distinct and even remote from the comparatively incon-
siderable oriofinal head-centre or " ton." The ancient
chesters, moreover, are not the only witnesses of the
quadrangular result of the artificial or simultaneous
design, as contrasted Avith the spontaneous cause. New
Sarum, with its conspicuous " chequers," is an early
mediaeval one. The plan of Berlin may also be seen in
immediate contact with its ancient suburb on the Spree ;
not to mention the great modern capitals of the new
continents and the colonies.

Neither are entirely wanting similar monuments or
continuances of the original " tons," or central homesteads
of the rural territorial units, from which the present
purpose is to discriminate our " towns" of the narrower
meaning. The tide of modern life and great highways
have rectilineated and nearly obliterated the original
character of those that are more commonly seen. But in
secluded nooks in the extremities of the land, a stroller is
sometimes surprised, on passing through a gate or over a
stile, to find that he has really entered a village instead
of a farm-yard, as he may have expected. The clustered
cottages are sjDotted about without order, and among
them the larger farm-house, with its appendages ; one of
which at first sight seems to be the church, asserting its



dignity, not by its situation, nor always by its size, but
by the visible evidences of its middle- age ecclesiastical
masonry and attributes. In more urbano districts, the
manor-house, instead of degenerating to a farm, has grown
into a palatial mansion, under whose wing the church
i-emains, a humble but ornamental adjunct, often included
within the park fence itself, but with a right of way from
the still contiguous but now excluded village.

How then does it happen that the very class of
the concentrated communities which are self-grown, and
essentially open and neutral, should not only be called by
a word which is understood to mean an inclosure, but
that it is also so called in emphatic distinction from the
other classes which are by their nature planted and in-
closed or fortified, and therefore comprehended under the
same word "town," but in a wider and more general
sense of it ? Can it be another example of, what is far
more conmion than suspected, two words of different
origins and meanings that have become identical in form ?
Much political evolution must have preceded the earliest
outcrop of social institutions into written evidences,
wherein we may expect to find them already in many
distinct threads ; and it need not be wondered at if some
two of these, on coming into light, should be found to be
of one colour. Can it be that the word " town," in our
more limited sense, is closely allied to the word " two,"
as being the place where two roads or trackways joined
into one — bivium ; that it is a word of the same kindred
as "twin," "twig," "twine," "twain," and their numerous
fraternity ? Places which occupy a similar confluence of
two rivers very often have names formed upon this
principle : as Twinham. or Tweoxnam, now Christchurch,
Hants ; Twineham, Sussex ; Twickenham, Middlesex ;
T[w]iverton, Devon ; Tw[iv]erton, Somerset ; and very
many more. In several of the Anglo-Saxon charters are
boundary spots called the " twicene," explained by Mr.
Kemble, " the angle or point at which two roads
diverge or meet ;" and an inspection of the Ordnance
or other road maps will often confirm this interpretation,
by showing that obscure places so situated are still
often named " Twitchen," or " Twitching."

An example is indeed quoted by Lye, from i:Elfric's


Glossary, of the word " Tun-thorp," explained as " Com-
pitum," a meeting of two ways ; in which " tun " seems
to have the meaning which we want, instead of that of
inclosure usually imputed to it ; and the word " Tun-
weg" of the Saxon Dictionaries, also from ^Ifric, may
be to the like effect. The word "tine," for the forks
of a stag's antlers, will also come to mind. Even if it
should be conceded that our word " town " jDroper has a
more direct causal connection with the word " two," it
would not necessarily withhold from the terminal "ton,"
which may be in fact another word, its received opjjosite
meaning of an inclosure.

This explanation is confessed to be rather of necessity
than choice ; but the survival of what is apparently one
word, not only with two opposite meanings, but also with
two distinctly separate derivations, is believed to be much
more common in topographical etymology than has been
hitherto believed. If two egg-like stones picked up
from one of the pebble beaches of our southern coast
should be cracked, one might prove to be a flint and the
other a limestone. Starting from two distant matrixes,
innumerable tides, many storms, and constant encounters
with their rugged companions, have not only finally laid
these strange bedfellows side by side, but brought them
both to the same complexion at last. So it is with names
and words. Perpetually bandied durmg many ages from
mouth to ear and from ear to mouth, many of them, which
started on their career in different shapes and from totally
different points, have been reduced to the same form with
each other.

No doubt many of our to^vns, as we now find them,
have had this general initial principle of an open neutral
and spontaneous growth, variously combined with the
other causes of origin or development. In some cases
they may have occupied or contmued the already fortified
military post or Chester, the seat of some earlier central
govermnent ; in others they may have sought the shelter
of some baronial castle, or the fostering munificence and
sanctuary privileges of a great ecclesiastical college.
Some of the towns as well as cities and boroughs may
have arisen out of the presence of a convenient sea-port,
or the accustomed ford of a river have established it as a


lialtiDg^place. Others perhaps utihzed, or continued a
eivihzed occupation of, the sites of the less elevated hill
fortresses, of which we see so many, less fortunate, that
owe their present desolation to the remoteness of rivers
or of the other needs of a more advanced social state.
Some may even be the uninterrupted continuations, from
an imsuspected antiquit}^, of such assemblages of '' pit-
dwellings" as those which, when abandoned, still excite
our passing curiosity under the vague description of
" British callages." All that is here proposed is that
there was another aiKl more universal cause of towns,
independent of, and even antecedent to, all these, which
has called into existence a great number, perhaps a
majority of them : in fact, has created them as a distinct
type, still to be discerned in their- ground-plans.

But more often the other agencies are combined, as
accidents, with towns of this typical origin and growth —
have been added to them. Some towns, already formed
by this natural growth, have afterwards been fortified as
occupying strategic positions too important to be neglected
by central sujjreme powers ; a condition to which that
convergence of roads which had been the cause of the
towns would itself be a frequent contributory. Many in
which had sprung up home-appointed and home-ruling
municipal governments have fortified themselves, and not
only commanded toleration or defied interference, but also
exacted from superior governments recognition, and
special privileges or franchises. Others, too populous to
l^e trusted unawed, have had castles raised over them.
Perhaps Totnes on the Dart is a good specimen of these
compounds of our three-way germ with several other
conditions, such as fortifications, added ; or Launceston,
where there was a " North-gate," a " South-gate," and a
" West-gate," still so named, but no trace or possibility
that there ever was an East-gate.

In many cases the church, which had taken root in one
of the three unoccupied triangular areas or wards — where
it is still generally found — has been garrisoned with a
chapter of clerks, and become the missionary or baptismal
centre of the entire rural district. In a like manner to that
by which districts that liad been reduced to a central
civil polity had been called " civitates," so were probably


sucli cliristianized circles called " Clivistianitates," a name
Avliicli still remains in their centres, the home deaneries of
some of our dioceses. The Vale of Evesham was a "Deanery
of Christianity," and the deaneries of Exeter, York, Lincoln,
Norwich, Leicester, Thetford, Warwick, Totnes, and some
others, are still, or until lately have been, called "the
Deanery of Christianitie." The secular clerks — the clergy
of the world or of the people — in their turn were some-
times replaced by a congregation of monks or regulars.
A settlement of either of these orders often had its pro-
vincial school of the liberal sciences, in some cases to
become famous far beyond its original local purpose, even
into distant foreign lands. Sometimes these churches,
beneficed by neighbouring benefactors, or enriched by
endowments of pious kings or penitent marauders, have
thus grown up into the great monastery, and finally com-
pleted the material outline of the social group that makes
up a town with the ci'owning grandeur of the minster



After the exhaustive and interesting Paper com-
municated by Mr. Lewin to the Society of Antiquaries in
1868, upon the Castra of the Littus Saxonicum, it would
be presumption in me to attempt to add anything to his
description of the Castrum of Othona, and I intend
therefore, to coiifine my remarks to the chapel on the
walls ; not with the view of setting myself up as an
authority upon the subject, but for the purpose of obtain-
ing the opinion of those better able than myself, to give
one as to its elate.

The building is 49 feet 7 inches long by 21 feet 7 inches
wide in the clear of the Avails, and 24 feet 9 inches high
from the present ground level to the wall plate. The
walls are 2 feet 4 inches thick, and it is built, as its name
denotes, upon the old Koman walL We may dismiss the
roof from our discussion, because that is undoubtedly of
modern construction.

Wlien the foundations were laid bare a good opportunity
was afforded of ascertaining where the old Koman wall
left off and the walls of the building commenced, and
after a critical examination I arrived at the conclusion
that there was a marked difference between the con-
struction of the chapel walls and those of the castrum,
which satisfied me that the wall of the castrum had been
demolished to somewhere about the level of the ground
before the chapel was erected.

Mr. Lewin, in his Paper, suggests that the principal
entrance to the castrum was on the western side, and
where the chapel now is. This appears to be a very
reasonable suggestion, because the foundations of the
gateway would probably extend somewhat beyond the
face of the wall on either side, and thus a larger area of
foundation would be found there than at any other spot.

It has been argued that this building was erected —


. ^


■a 3".


1 . By the Romans,

2. By the Saxons.

3. During the Norman Period, or even somewhat later.

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