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DO V E R.
S K HIS much frequented point
of continental embarkation has of late years occupied a prominent position among the watering-places of our island. The line of continuous terraces of noble-looking
mansions spreading along the margin of its coast, the pureness of its atmosphere, the bold and rocky headlands that distinguish
its marine scenery, all contribute to give it an important position among the recently created destinations of our sea-loving citizens. The associations, too, that cling to the white cliffs of Albion-not, as
of yore, frowning defiance to our Gallic neighbours, but with a better spirit illuminating their weather-beaten features with sunny smiles of welcome-all tend to draw every year crowds of fleeting visitors to a spot so renowned in song and story. It has been well said, that scarcely any great man, from King Arthur to Prince Albert, has failed, at some period or other, to visit Dover, and all history confirms the assertion. In such pleasant aristocratic company, who would not therefore willingly make a railway or steam-boat pilgrimage to a locality so honoured ?
Divided from the French coast by a passage of only twenty miles across the British Channel, Dover is advantageously situated on the margin of a picturesque bay, sheltered by the promontory of the South Foreland, and screened by its lofty cliffs from the piercing northerly winds.
The first eminent visitor of whom we have any authentic record was that redoubtable personage, Julius Cæsar. Fifty years before the Christian era, he brought his fleet within sight of these chalky cliffs, and, finding them defended by crowds of hostile warriors, very prudently withdrew until a more favourable opportunity arrived for making the incursion. A second time he was more successful, and the occasional Roman remains found about the vicinity show that at this period was effected that possession of Britain which for four hundred years afterwards was resolutely maintained, in defiance of a host of enemies native and foreign.
Dover is supposed to have derived its name from Duffyrrha, a name difficult to pronounce, used to denote a place difficult of access; but a more simple and reasonable explanation is that obtained from the river Dour, which has its source from two heads--proverbially better than one-four miles west of the town, and which here discharges itself into the sea, forming the back water to the harbour.
As early as the reign of Edward the Confessor, Dover began to be a place of size and opulence, as the town then furnished twenty armed vessels for the service of the State, but at no period between the reigns of William the Conqueror and Henry VIII. could it have been very extensive, for monastic edifices and the burial grounds of their several churches covered nearly the whole space. Six parishes were formerly the attendants upon as many churches, but the present municipal arrangements recognise only two, those of St. Mary and St. James, the rest of the sacred edifices having been destroyed, with the exception of a part of St. Nicholas and the Collegiate Church of St. Martin, endowed with immense possessions by Withred in the seventh century. The ruins of this once magnificent edifice are to be seen contiguous to the market-place, but though one of the round towers still remains in a tolerably perfect state, the modern buildings erected in front of the ancient edifice seclude the most interesting portion from observation.
A stone to the memory of the poet Churchill is to be seen in the churchyard, about one hundred and seventy feet from the ruins and eleven from the north-west wall.
When the increase of inhabitants rendered an additional number of places of worship necessary, Trinity Church was erected in Strond-street, adjoining the harbour, at a cost of £8,000. The foundation stone was laid the 7th of September, 1833. Ten years afterwards was built Christ Church, a very neat structure, at Hougham, on the road to Folkestone.
At the entrance to the town from the London-road was the Hospital of St. Mary, commonly called the Maison Dieu, and
now the guildhall and gaol. It was erected in the reign of King John by Hubert de Burgh (afterwards Earl of Kent), and intended for the accommodation of pilgrims passing through Dover, on their way to or from the Continent. After many changes and alterations, as well as being fortified during the civil war, it was purchased from government by the corporation in 1834, and converted the following year into a guildhall, sessions chamber, and gaol. The old priory gate, half monastery, half farm, is still remaining at the beginning of the carriage road towards Folkestone.
Over the butter market in the London-road was the old Town Hall, erected in the reign of James I., on the site of an ancient cross. It is now the Dover Museum, and may be inspected daily from ten till five by the public. The collection comprises various specimens of birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, minerals, fossils, weapons, dresses, coins, and other articles illustrative of the manners and customs of different nations. An excellent local work (“Rigden's New Dover Guide”) gives the following summary of the curiosities to be seen therein associated with the topography of the town:—“An antique hammer and ancient pottery, found in the old tower in Benchstreet; keystone of an arch and another from the groined roof of the Maison Dieu; ancient vessel, discovered in Dover Castle; sword found on the little ground,' twenty-five miles from Dover, encased in a formation of flint; ammonite from the harbour and various interesting fossils (amongst which is a remarkably fine oyster), from the excavations for the railway tunnel; Roman urns and the flue of a Roman Bath from St. Mary's Church; various Dover tradesmen's tokens of the seventeenth century, and a portion of the tomb, formerly in Dover Castle, of Pierre de Creone, containing part of an ancient cross and the following inscription :-[Hic jac.] et Petrus de Creone (orat.] e pro anima ejus.”
Under the Museum the butter market presents on a Saturday a busy and lively scene, and the commodities that then pour in from every part of the surrounding country are both plentiful and excellent.
Ancient as Dover is as a town and port, it is, as we have said, comparatively modern as a watering-place. Adopting the admirable authority before alluded to, we find that, excepting the house of a bowling alley, which, in the reign of Charles I., stood on the beach nearly in a line with the new bridge, not a single tenement existed on the margin of its delightful bay until 1791. In that year a snug marine retreat was erected near the Castle jetty by the father of the gallant Sir Sidney Smith, and was then termed “Smith's Folly.” A few years sufficed to show that the site was well chosen, for his example was speedily followed by others, and in 1817 houses were commenced on the Marine Parade, and about the same period Liverpool Terrace, and the contiguous lawns, Guildford and Clarence, were projected; followed in 1838 by the noble mansions of Waterloo Crescent and the Esplanade. These form, in conjunction with others, a continuous range of imposing buildings that extend nearly from the Castle cliff to the north pier. Close to the sea is the Promenade, which, during the summer season, presents a complete galaxy of beauty and fashion, not unfrequently enlivened by the performance of military music. The facilities afforded to bathers merit great commendation, and the clear transparency of the water is not the least of the advantages here derived.
If not the most elegant thoroughfare in Dover, Snargatestreet is decidedly the most picturesque. With the towering