Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

218

MICKLETON CHURCH

CHAP.

than attracts, and the number of personifications is excessive : in the course of ten verses we have “fame," "young simplicity," "candour," " innocence," "elegance," “beauty" and “fancy.” The best stanza is perhaps the following:

“ Sure nought unhallow'd shall presume to stray

Where sleep the reliques of that virtuous maid ;
Nor aught unlovely bend its devious way,

Where soft Ophelia's dear remains are laid." The reader will exclaim that bad is the best, and by way of compensation I will give him an extract from one of Shenstone's letters to Graves which contains a mention of Utrecia. It also illustrates the difficulties of travelling through the Cotswold before the enclosures; though it is certainly strange that any one going from Mickleton to Cheltenham should have ascended into the hills at all, much less got anywhere near Stow, instead of following the ordinary road along the bottom of the hills through Broadway and Winchcombe; but perhaps in those days this road was a mere local trackway impassable from ruts and mud. “I am this moment arrived at Cheltenham after an expensive and fatiguing journey. I called yesterday at Mickleton ; saw the portico, and snapped up a bit of mutton at your brother's; drank a dish of tea with Miss S-M; and in opposition to the strongest remonstrances, persisted in an endeavour to reach Cheltenham after five o'clock. The consequence was that, about ten, I found myself travelling back again towards Stowe; and had undoubtedly wandered all night in the dark she was presumably on horseback], had I not been fortunately met by a waggoner's servant, who brought me back to the worst inn but one [at Stow?] I ever lay at, being his master's."

On entering the church we are at once struck by the lowness of the arches of the nave arcades compared with the height of the walls they support ; this, however, is due to the addition of the clerestory in the fifteenth century. The two Norman arches on either side with their curious stiff-foliaged circular

IX

ASTON SUBEDGE

219

capitals are the remains of the original twelfth century church; to these the two western bays with pointed arches are a fourteenth century addition, and the tower and the two aisles with their splendid east windows of flowing tracery belong to the same period; the chancel is later, and probably built at the same time as the clerestory. Early in the seventeenth century came the south porch, with the chamber over it in the style of the Renaissance. In the north aisle are numerous monumental tablets to the Graves family, together with a long series

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

of hatchments. The Fisher monuments are at the east end of the chancel. Here also is the curious "ephitath” of one John Bonner of Pebworth, a local worthy contemporary with, and possibly known to, Shakespeare, whom he survived some eighteen months.

From Mickleton I continue my ride to Aston Subedge, along a road commanding lovely views of Bredon Hill and the Malverns. Here I am in a land of cherry and apple orchards, but by far the most interesting thing in Aston is the old manorhouse of the Porters, with its impressive gabled front and ball

220

WILLIAM LATIMER

CH. 1X

shaped finials. A long gallery runs from end to end under the rafters of the roof, reminding one on a smaller scale of those at Broughton and Chastleton; it is reached by a massive oak staircase, which only wants cleaning and polishing to make it as serviceable as ever. Some of the Porter family resided at Mickleton, where they held a long lease of the manor, granted them by one of the last abbots of Eynsham, which did not expire till the last quarter of the sixteenth century. Angela, daughter of Giles Porter of Mickleton, married her cousin Edmund Porter of Aston. Their son, born in 1587, was Endymion Porter, patron of poets, as Herrick calls him, and as we have already seen, of athletic sports as well.

The road now passes the pretty villages of Weston Subedge, Saintbury, and Willersey. It was as vicar of Weston and of Saintbury that one of the pioneers of the New Learning in England spent the evening of his days. This was the learned and modest William Latimer, the friend of Grocyn, Linacre, and Erasmus. Himself a Fellow of All Souls, he shares with the two former the honour of planting the study of Greek at Oxford. Like Grocyn, he left behind him hardly any written proofs of his scholarship, but both for his intellectual and moral worth we have the unimpeachable testimony of Erasmus : “vere theologus integritate vitae conspicuus," he styles him in one of his epistles, and in another which he addressed to Latimer begging his assistance in preparing a second edition of his Greek Testament for the press, he writes, “suavissimum istum ingenii tui candorem ac pudorem plusquam virgineum agnovi.” Latimer, however, excused himself on the ground that he had not touched Greek or Latin for some years and was engaged in other studies. He died in 1545, and was buried at Saintbury. The church of Saintbury is charmingly situated on the green hillside above the village, and in the east window may be seen the figure of an ecclesiastic in the attitude of prayer with the legend "San Nicolas priet pur W. L.” This, as Richard Graves of Mickleton considered,

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

222

BROADWAY

CH. 1X

is probably a portrait of Latimer. Graves also conjectured that Latimer built the vicarage (now rectory) house at Weston

as big as a little college” (in spite of modern alterations it still merits this description), where the initials W. L. were formerly to be seen carved on the stone-work and wood-work.

Bearing to the left at Willersey and crossing the village green with its picturesque old smithy in the centre, I soon enter Broadway and make for the Lygon Arms. The traveller will be wise who makes this fine old seventeenth century hostelry his headquarters for a day or two; nowhere in the course of these excursions will he find more comfortable quarters or a heartier welcome. Broadway is a populous village, and lying as it does on the high road from London to Worcester, its wide street (whence of course its name) was full of life and bustle in the old coaching days; not that it is dull now, particularly in summer; for the place was discovered by the Americans some years ago, and has continued to be a favourite resort of artists both American and other. Among the old houses besides the Lygon, the most interesting is the fourteenth century grange of the abbey of Pershore; it had fallen into decay, but has been rescued in time, and repaired in good taste, and now forms a comfortable private residence. Long ago the attractions of the London road drew the village away from the vicinity of its parish cburch. This church lies a mile away to the south beside a streamlet which here descends from the hills. It is a fine cruciform twelfth century structure with transition-Norman arcades, and a chancel and transepts of later date. The space beneath the tower was the chancel of the original church. The interior being used for service only on summer Sunday afternoons has a somewhat deserted air, but for that very reason it has escaped the clutches of the Early Victorian restorer, and may look forward without fear to the future. The patron saint is St. Eadburgh, a daughter of Edward the Elder.

« ElőzőTovább »