Charles G. (Charles George) Harper.

The Ingoldsby Country online

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roof, the keystone of the vaulting near the great east window fell from
its place and killed him. The dream probably had its origin in the
warnings that had been given him by superstitious friends some days
before, not to touch the abbey with the hands of a spoiler. They would
not, they said, for riches untold "be concerned in the demolition of
holy and consecrated places." Taylor was equally superstitious and the
warning preyed upon his mind, and the dream was the result. The next
day he hurried off to another friend, a Mr. Watts, schoolmaster in
Southampton and the father of that celebrated divine Dr. Isaac Watts,
author of "How doth the little busy bee" and other improving verse.
Mr. Watts, schoolmaster, seems to have been an unworthy progenitor of
that highly moral cleric, and gave the troubled Taylor the cynical
advice "to have no personal concern in pulling down the building."
This admirable, if somewhat forbiddingly rationalistic, counsel was,
however, disregarded by the unhappy contractor, who, when actively
engaged among his workmen was felled to the ground exactly in the
manner he had dreamt. The falling keystone crushed his skull in, and
the genius of the place was thus avenged. The workmen, who had heard
the story of the dream and had laughed at it, then left off work in
terror, and no one else was found bold enough to proceed with it. To
this we owe the fact that the ruins are still in existence, but it
seems a pity that the vengeful spirit could have found no method of
getting his blow in before the abbey was almost wholly unroofed. Had
Taylor been slain by the first stone wrenched from the groining the
swiftness of the retribution would have rendered it even more dramatic,
and would have resulted in the beautiful building being roofed to this

[Illustration: NETLEY ABBEY.]

As it is, the ruins are now open to the sky, and time and the seasons
have wrought more havoc in the two centuries that have passed than was
inflicted by Taylor or his men. Time, weather, and vandal visitors,
that is to say - these last we must by no means forget. Not that they
are likely to be forgotten by the pilgrim to this shrine, for the walls
are hacked and inscribed with the pocket-knives and pencils of two
centuries of holiday-makers, pricked on to it by a noble rage for
immortality manifesting itself in this ignoble way. The earlier scrawls
of John Jones or William Robinson have themselves, almost by lapse of
time, come within the range of archæology. From 1700 to about 1860
these, almost as destructive as the tooth of time, had their wicked
will of the place, and it was under such circumstances and the added
desecrations of bottled beer, drunken fiddling, and rowdy picnicking,
that Barham saw it:

In a rush-bottom'd chair
A hag surrounded by crockery-ware,
Vending in cups to the credulous throng,
A nasty decoction miscall'd Souchong, -
And a squeaking fiddle and wry-neck'd fife
Are screeching away, for the life! - for the life!
Danced to by "All the World and his Wife."
Tag, Rag, and Bobtail are capering there,
Worse scene, I ween, than Bartlemy Fair! -
Two or three Chimney-sweeps, two or three Clowns,
Playing at "pitch and toss," sport their "Browns";
Two or three damsels, frank and free,
Are ogling and smiling, and sipping Bohea.
Parties below, and parties above,
Some making tea, and some making love.
Then the "toot-toot-toot"
Of that vile demi-flute, -
The detestable din Of that crack'd violin,
And the odours of "Stout," and tobacco, and gin.
"Dear me!" I exclaimed, "what a place to be in!"

Since the dawning of the 'sixties, a better taste has prevailed, and
promiscuous jollification has been checked alike by the levying of
an entrance fee and by an improvement in manners; but the providing
of teas within the ruins is objectionable, and the _quality_ of
the "Souchong" and its accompanying sawdusty cake might easily be
better - it could not possibly be worse.

It is best to visit Netley when the crowd may reasonably be expected
to have left. At such a time, shortly before sunset, the spot is most
impressive. The jackdaws, who seem to have the right of domicile in all
ruinated buildings, have gone, clamorous, to bed in the chinks of wall
and airy gable, and one shares the smooth lawns only with the robins,
whose pretty confidence in the harmlessness of human beings is the most
touching thing in so-called "wild" nature. The first stanza of Barham's
poem is excellently descriptive of the time and place, save that
"roofless tower" is a poetic figure unwarranted by facts - Netley Abbey
has no towers:

I saw thee, Netley, as the sun
Across the western wave
Was sinking slow, And a golden glow
To thy roofless tower he gave;
And the ivy sheen, With its mantle of green
That wrapt thy walls around,
Shone lovelily bright, In that glorious light,
And I felt 'twas holy ground.

He then goes on to enlarge upon the legend of a refractory nun having
been walled up alive in the abbey, and to meditate upon the justice of
Heaven fallen upon Netley in the time of Henry VIII.:

Ruthless Tudor's bloated form
Rides on the blast and guides the storm.[A]

The context gives the date of the ruin of the fabric as at that period;
but we have already seen that this took place quite a hundred and
sixty years later. The curious, too, might ask what the nun was doing
in a Cistercian monastery. It is not a little singular to note that
Barham has made no use, and indeed no mention, of the picturesque
legend of Taylor's death.

[A] _cf._ "Rides on the whirlwind and directs the storm."



Oh, Salisbury Plain is bleak and bare, -
At least so I've heard many people declare,
For I fairly confess I never was there: -
Not a shrub, nor a tree, Nor a bush can you see,
No hedges, no ditches, no gates, no stiles,
Much less a house or a cottage for miles;
- It's a very sad thing to be caught in the rain
When night's coming on upon Salisbury Plain.

Salisbury Plain is, as Ingoldsby rightly assures us, bleak and barren.
It is remarkable to note that, although as he truly says in the
legend itself he was never there, he catches exactly the spirit of
that dreary Wiltshire table-land, and describes it with such insight,
picturesqueness, and economy of words and space as never at any other
time have been used to give a proper mental picture of that vast
solitude. It is far removed from the Ingoldsby Country proper, and
might easily have been more loosely described in those opening lines;
but they are perfect, alike topographically and for the production of
that mental picture required to start the tale of horror.

The exact spot on the plain described in the legend where the two
sailors, overtaken by the storm, vainly seek shelter, and where the
vision of the dead drummer appears, can, thanks to the precision of
the verse, be readily found. It is in the central and wildest spot
of the wilderness, two miles almost due east of the small village of
Tilshead. Let us here refer to the legend:

But the deuce of a screen, Could be anywhere seen
Or an object except that, on one of the rises,
An old way-post show'd Where the Lavington road
Branch'd off to the left from the one to Devizes.

Black Down the surrounding expanse is named. Bare and bleak, the close
grass a wan sage-green, the white road divides across the treeless
undulations, with a signpost directing right and left to Devizes and
Lavington, exactly as described. But alterations are now in the making,
and when completed will thoroughly alter and abolish the solitude of
the place. "They have spoiled my battlefield," exclaimed the Duke
of Wellington when he revisited Waterloo and found it stuck full of
monuments; and the "East Camp" on the right of this spot, and the "West
Camp" on the left, with all the permanent buildings and the great
masses of troops now established on the plain, are changing it beyond
recognition. Where the bustard lingered longest and the infrequent
traveller came timorously, the bugles blow and crowded battalions
manoeuvre every day.

But the true story of the dead drummer is very different from
Ingoldsby's version. He has taken many liberties, both as regards scene
and names, with the real facts of a remarkable case - for the legend is
founded upon facts.


It seems that on Thursday, June 15th, 1786, two sailors paid off
from H.M.S. _Sampson_ at Plymouth came tramping up to London along
the old Exeter Road. Their names were Gervase (or Jarvis) Matcham
and John Shepherd. They came nowhere near Salisbury Plain, but
pursued their course direct along the old coach road from Blandford
towards Salisbury. Near the "Woodyates Inn" they were overtaken
by a thunderstorm, when Matcham startled his messmate by showing
extraordinary signs of horror and distracted faculties, running to and
fro, falling on his knees, and imploring mercy of some invisible enemy.
To his companion's questions he answered that he saw several strange
and dismal spectres, particularly one in the shape of a woman, towards
which he advanced, when it instantly sank into the earth and a large
stone rose up in its place. Other large stones also rolled upon the
ground before him, and came dashing against his feet. There can be no
doubt that both Matcham and Shepherd were unnerved by the violence of
the thunder and lightning, and that the terror of Matcham, who had very
special reasons for fright, communicated itself to his friend to such
a degree that when Matcham's diseased imagination saw moving shapes
which had no existence, Shepherd readily saw them also. Thus, when
the terrified Matcham fancied he saw numbers of stones with glaring
eyes turn over and keep pace with them along the road, Shepherd very
soon became afflicted with what specialists in mental phenomena term
"collective hallucination."

They then agreed to walk on either side of the road, and so perceive,
by the behaviour of the stones, which of them it was who had so
affronted God. The stones then exclusively accompanied Matcham all the
way to the inn, where he beheld the Saviour and the drummer-boy, very
terrible and accusing. To the roll of a drum, and in a terrific flash
of lightning, they dissolved into dust.

Thereupon, overcome by these terrors, Matcham made confession there
and then to Shepherd of a murder he had committed six years earlier,
on the Great North Road, and begged his companion to hand him over to
the nearest magistrate, in order that the avenging spectres and justice
might be satisfied. He was accordingly committed at Salisbury pending
inquiries as to the truth of his confession.

Those inquiries disclosed a remarkable story. Matcham, it appeared,
was the son of a farmer of Frodingham, Yorkshire. When in his twelfth
year he had run away from home and became a jockey. In the course of
this employment he was despatched to Russia, in charge of some horses
sent by the Duke of Northumberland to the Empress, and, returning to
London well supplied with money, dissipated it all in evil courses. He
then shipped as a sailor on board the _Medway_ man-o'-war, but after
a short experience of fighting managed to desert. He had no sooner
landed in England after this escapade than he was seized by one of
the pressgangs then scouring the seaports, and shipped aboard the
_Ariadne_. Succeeding, when off Yarmouth, in an attempt to escape,
he enlisted in the 13th Regiment of Foot, but, deserting again near
Chatham, set out to tramp home, through London, to Yorkshire, passing
Huntingdon on the way. The 49th Regiment was then recruiting in that
district, and this extraordinary Matcham promptly enlisted in it.

Shortly after having joined, he was sent on the morning of August 19th,
1780, from Huntingdon to Diddington, five miles distant, to draw some
subsistence-money, between six and seven pounds, from a Major Reynolds.
With him went a drummer-boy, Benjamin Jones, aged about sixteen, son
of the recruiting sergeant. Having drawn the money, they returned
along the high-road. Instead of turning off to Huntingdon, Matcham
induced the boy to go on with him in the direction of Alconbury, and
picking a quarrel with him because he refused to stop and drink at a
wayside public-house, knocked him down at a lonely spot still known as
"Matcham's Bridge" and cut his throat there. He then made off with
the money to London, leaving the body by the roadside. Shipping again
in the Navy, he saw six years of hard fighting under Rodney and Hood,
being finally paid off, as at first described.

In the contemporary account of this remarkable affair, taken down from
Matcham's own statements by the chaplain of the gaol at Huntingdon,
whither he was conveyed for trial from Salisbury, he stated that he
was drunk at the time when the crime was committed, and did it, being
suddenly instigated by the Devil, without any premeditated design.
Further, that he had never afterwards had a single day's peace of mind.
He was duly found guilty, and executed on August 2nd, 1786, his body
being afterwards gibbeted on Alconbury Hill.


Acol, 214, 215

Acryse, 186-188

Aldington, 146, 147, 149, 150, 152, 159, 160

- - Forehead, 147

- - Frith, 147

- - Knoll, 105, 160-162

Amen Corner, 22

Appledore, 85, 89, 99, 164

Ashford, 6, 16, 18, 108, 145

Augustine, St., 214

Babes in the Wood, the, 6

Barham, 10, 66

- - Court, 68

- - Downs, 10, 63, 66

- - families of, 10-12, 18

- - Frances, Lady Bond, 22, 25

- - John, 11, 12

- - Richard, 12, 14

- - Richard Harris (father of "Tom Ingoldsby"), 12-14

- - Rev. Richard Harris, author of the _Ingoldsby Legends_, 5;
born at Canterbury, 9, 12, 14;
claims descent from the FitzUrses, 9, 42;
first curacy at Ashford, 16;
second curacy at Westwell, 16;
Rector of Snargate and Curate of Warehorne, 17;
Minor Canon of St. Paul's and Rector of St. Mary Magdalene, 17;
Rector of St. Faith, 17;
assumes pseudonym of "Ingoldsby," 18;
residence in London, 21;
illness, 23-26;
death, 27;
a Governor of the Harris Charity, 30;
at Warehorne, 77;
first literary work, 77;
removes to London, 78

- - Rev. Richard Harris Dalton, 16, 25, 76

Barhamstead, or Parmstead, 11

Barton, Elizabeth, the "Holy Maid of Kent," 147, 150-158, 159

Becket, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, 9, 29, 34, 41;
career and murder of, 42-62, 168-170, 203

_Belerica_, Court-at-Street, 147

Bilsington, 85, 105, 162

Blackmanstone, 98, 107

Bonnington, 85, 88

Bourne Park, 64

Brenzett, 101, 102

Bridge, 63

Britton, John, 19-21, 194

Brookland, 101-103

Broome Park, 68

_Brothers of Birchington, the_, 226

Burgate Street, No. 61, Canterbury, birthplace of
"Tom Ingoldsby," 12, 14

Canterbury, 5, 28-40;
birthplace of "Tom Ingoldsby," 12, 14;
Wincheap, where the
martyrs suffered, 30;
the Castle, 31-33;
Dane John, 33;
Christ Church Gate, 35;
Butter Market, 35;
Marlowe Memorial, 35;
Burgate Street, 36;
the "Dark Entry," 37-40, 176, 177, 203, 225, 228, 232

- - Cathedral, 29, 41-62

Chapel of Our Lady, Court-at-Street, 148-150, 155

Cheriton, 136, 165, 168

Chislett, 219, 222, 227

Cinque Ports, the, 114, 124, 131, 202, 230

Cobb's Hall, 150, 153, 159

Court-at-Street, 147, 148-150

_Dead Drummer, the_, 6, 264-269

Deal, 197

Denton, 6, 70, 191

- - Chapel, 70-72

"Devil's Stone," the, 233

Dover, 114, 124, 138, 171, 192-197, 203, 230

Dunge Marsh, 113

Dungeness, 86, 88, 101, 120, 144

Dymchurch, 119, 120-123

- - Wall, 86, 89, 120-123

"Eagles Gates," the, Broome Park, 68

Eastbridge Chapel, 98

Eastchurch, 252

East Langdon, 198

Ebbsfleet, 214

Elham, 184-186

- - Valley, 181, 184

Elmley, 255

Erasmus, 147

Fair Rosamond, 176

FitzUrses, the, 9-12

FitzUrse, Reginald, 9, 42, 48, 49, 51, 52, 168, 171

Folkestone, 124, 131-142, 147, 148, 165-167, 192

Fordwich, 218, 228-232

Fox, Elizabeth, mother of "Tom Ingoldsby," 14, 15

Great Mongeham, 201

Great Queen Street, No. 51, Holborn, 22

Great Stonar, 208

_Grey Dolphin_, 242-246

Ham Street, 163

Harbledown, 29, 60

Harris Almshouses, Canterbury, 29

Harris, Thomas, 10, 30

Hope Chapel, Hope All Saints, 98, 112

Hurst, 85, 88

Hythe, 6, 15, 85, 86, 87, 108, 114, 119, 124-126, 143, 145, 147,
148, 149, 166, 168, 169, 173

"Ingoldsby Country" delimited, 5

Ingoldsby family wholly fictitious, 74

Ivychurch, 98, 103

Iwade, 235

King's Ferry, 236, 255

_Lapidem Tituli_, Great Stonar, 209

_Lapis Populi_, Folkestone, 209

_Leech of Folkestone, the_, 131, 147, 148, 160, 163, 186, 197, 198

Limen, River, 87, 89, 91, 146, 183

Little Stonar, 208

Littlestone, 108, 118, 209

"Lone Tree," the, 197

"Lundenwic," Stonar, 208, 211

Lyminge, 181-184

Lympne, 15, 85, 105, 143-146, 176, 183

Margate, 214, 215, 218, 220

Marsh, Col. Thomas, 10

- - Thomas, of Marston, 74,
106, 133, 160, 186, 197, 198-200

"Marston Hall," 197, 198, 200

Martello Towers, the, 83, 119-121, 127, 139, 144, 150

Martin, 198, 200

Matcham, Gervase, 266-269

Minster-in-Sheppey, 237, 240-252

Minster-in-Thanet, 214, 240

Monkton, 217, 218

Mud Row, 252, 254

Mydley Chapel, 113

Netley Abbey, 6, 257-264

Newchurch, 105

Newington, 233

New Romney, 86, 87, 90, 91, 96, 99, 101, 110, 112-118, 124

"Old England's Hole," 64-66

- - Romney, 87, 110-112, 209

Orgarswick, 98

Orlestone Hill, 163

Parmstead, or Barhamstead, 11

Pegwell Bay, 208, 211

_Portus Lemanis_, Lympne, 88, 89, 144

Postling, 179

Queenborough, 235, 237-239, 248

Ramsgate, 208, 211, 212, 215, 216, 220

Reculver, 88, 214, 222-227

_Regulbium_, Reculver, 88, 214, 222-227

Rhee Wall, the, 89, 99, 110

Richborough, 88, 208, 210-212

Ringwould, 201

Rokeby, Baron, 179

Romney Marsh, 6, 77-113, 143, 144, 149

Rother, River, 86, 89, 91, 99, 110

Royal Military Canal, the, 81-86, 125, 126, 144

Ruckinge, 85, 88, 163

_Rutupium_, Richborough, 88, 208, 210-212

St. Mary Magdalene, London, where "Ingoldsby" was buried, 14, 17,
22, 27;
destroyed by fire, 1886, 27

- - Canterbury, 14, 30

St. Mary the Virgin, Romney Marsh, 107

St. Nicholas-at-Wade, 221

St. Paul's Churchyard, No. 4, 22

Salisbury Plain, 6, 264-266

Saltwood Castle, 48, 58, 168-174

Sandgate, 128-131, 148, 165

Sandwich, 114, 118, 124, 197, 202-208, 211, 212, 216, 218, 230, 238

Sarre, 219-222

Scrapsgate, 250

Seabrook, 126, 128, 129, 166, 168

Sheerness, 235, 239, 250

Shellness, 236, 239, 255

Sheppey, Isle of, 6, 233-256

Shorncliffe Camp, 165

Shurland Castle, 246, 248, 252

- - Sir Robert de, 242-247

Smuggler's Leap, 215-218

Smuggling, 80, 82, 94-97, 114, 117, 133, 145, 180, 215-219

Snargate, 77, 78, 80, 86, 98, 99

Stonar, 208-211

Stone Street, the, 15, 88, 171, 175, 177, 181, 182

Studfall Castle, 88, 144

Stour, River, 208, 210, 219, 227, 228, 232

Sturry, 218, 227, 232

Swale, the, 6, 235, 255, 256

Swingfield Minnis, 21, 189-191

Tappington Hall and Manor, (sometimes styled "Tappington Everard"
or "Tapton Wood"), 9, 18, 21, 63, 68, 69-76, 191

- - Gerrard de, 10

Thanet, Isle of, 202, 210, 214, 215, 219

Upper Deal, 201

Upper Hardres, 15

Up Street, 219, 227

Wantsume, the, 210, 219

Warden, 224, 236, 250, 252, 254

- - Point, 236

Warehorne, 77-81, 85, 87, 98, 100

Wayland Wood, 6

Westbere, 218, 227

Westenhanger, 168, 174-177

Wincheap, Canterbury, 30

_Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury_

Large Crown 8vo, price 6s. in cloth, gilt top.




The "Scott Country" tells the story of the famous Borderland, and its
undying associations with Sir Walter, its greatest son. His early years
at Sandyknowe and Kelso are sketched by one who is himself a native of
that very district. Scott's first Border home at Ashestiel, and the
making of Abbotsford, the Ettrick and Yarrow of Scott, the memories
that cluster round Melrose, the district of Hawick, and the country of
"Marmion," all have a place in the work. Not a spot of historic and
romantic interest but is referred to all along the line of Tweedside
and its tributaries from Berwick to the Beild. The Border country of
Scotland has already been the subject of a very extensive literature,
but the "Scott Country," being presented upon a more compact and
comprehensive plan than has yet been attempted, will, we feel sure, be
a source of satisfaction to every reader, whether Border-born or not.
To the Scot abroad the volume will recall many a familiar memory, and
at home it should take its place as a standard work of its kind, the
author being, according to Dr. Robertson Nicoll and others, perhaps
the most capable living student of the Border and its literature. The
"Scott Country" contains =162 illustrations=, many of them quite new,
and the price is such as to bring it within the reach of all.


"A work which no lover of Scott and the Scott country can afford
to miss. It is the best Scott book of recent years." - _The Scots

"Singularly pleasant reading." - _St. James's Gazette._

"It is pleasant to go with so cultivated and enthusiastic a guide on a
sentimental pilgrimage through the Scott country." - _The Speaker._

"Visitors to the Scott country will find in this volume the very kind
of guide-book they want." - _Daily News._

"Full of fascination." - _The Academy._


_In Preparation._




_Crown 8vo, cloth, gilt top._



This is a companion volume to the "Scott Country." It describes
the homes and home life of Burns; it contains sketches of his
contemporaries and his surroundings; and incidentally it traces his
development as man and poet from Alloway to Dumfries. The country
traversed includes Carrick, Kyle, and Nithsdale, a country with many
features of engrossing interest apart from Burns. It was the scene of
the early struggles of Wallace and Bruce; it abounds with memories of
the Covenanters; its castles and keeps were the homes of Kennedys,
Crawfords, Cochranes, and Boyds, whose deeds made history; its literary
associations are many and important. The author spent several years in
the south-west of Scotland, and he made a series of journeys on foot
or on cycle through the whole country. He has thus gathered together
a mass of interesting material which, though not new, was not readily
accessible to the general reader; and in the "Burns Country" he seeks
to present this in popular form in the hope that the volume will guide
the steps and enhance the pleasure of the tourist, and that to those
to whom a visit to the land of Burns is denied, it will afford a
correct and complete view of what, to patriotic Scotsmen, is the most
interesting corner of our land. The volume is profusely illustrated
from Photographs.


* * * * *

Transcriber's note:

Variations in spelling and punctuation are as in the original, except
in cases of obvious typographical error. Inconsistencies of

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Online LibraryCharles G. (Charles George) HarperThe Ingoldsby Country → online text (page 15 of 16)