« ElőzőTovább »
country-picture. Those cottages, to the left, are very old ; that, with the large half-moon-shaped beam spanning its centre, is a fine specimen of the “ timber and plaster” building of a former age. Just read the inscription on the board—“ Bacon Smoked Here.”
This is the entrance to Beckenham. What a splendid old manor house ! with its high crumbling wall, overgrown with moss and lichen. And here is a summer-house erected high up amongst the topmost boughs of a noble tree! Look, how the rustic staircase goes winding up from branch to branch! More ancient cottages : the very style of their rude architecture tells that they have stood at least two or three centuries. What changes have taken place since they were first reared beside this ancient road ! The stormy days of Queen Mary have passed, and darkened over them. Who can tell what struggles may have taken place before these very doors, in the age of the Commonwealth! Read the monuments in Beckenham church, and you will find that many a distinguished man ended his days in this ancient village.
Let us pause a few moments before we enter the churchyard. Our engraving, at the head of this article, is a view of the church itself. There are few such gateways as this remaining in England. What massy beams ! true British oak. Look at the quaint, steep roof, with its small, square, antique tiles.
Beneath this ancient gateway they halted with the dead ; and at that avenue, still graced with a few decaying yews, the clergyman came to meet the funeral procession. We remember, a few years ago, seeing monuments in this churchyard, that dated as far back as the time of Queen Elizabeth. Into one of those ruined tombs we descended—for the side was torn away, and lay
neglected amongst the grass—an unpardonable desecration! A cleaner-looking church we never entered—the interior is simple, impressive, and very beautiful, but much disfigured by modern innovation. What bad taste to half-bury that noble archway! There are a few monumental brasses, rich in ancient costume, let into the walls; as old, if we remember rightly, as the time of Chaucer. The church would well repay the visit of an antiquary: and if our readers have never felt the beauty and solemn poetry of Gray's Elegy, let them, in the gathering twilight of a calm summer evening, pause, and read it there ; for it is all that the imagination can picture of an old English country churchyard, and awakens many a serious thought by its still beauty and undisturbed antiquity-for there sleep the dead of grey and forgotten ages!
Now past the churchyard, along this rounding road, overshadowed with aged elms, and over this stile on the left, will lead us across the fields to Sydenham. These are genuine country fields; in which we may gather a score or two varieties of wild flowers: splendid specimens of the meadow-sweet have we found there. The footpaths lead through corn-fields, where the red poppies wave, and along hedgerows, where wild rose and woodbine blow, and immense foxgloves shoot up to the height of four or five feet. Bright, clear streams run murmuring along; and the only house you pass is a large white farm-house, unequalled in appearance for beauty for miles around the neighbourhood. Out—by the corner of a little chapel; and here we are in the village of Sydenham, which is more than a mile in length. The old Golden Lion (formerly kept by Mrs. Ross, a worthy hostess), like the old Crooked Billet, is pulled down. It was one of the oldest houses in the village; full of “ins
and-outs," with a fine, large bow-window, that projected several feet from the building. Sydenham will in time become one of the largest villages in the neighbourhood of London: it is beautifully wooded, and would, but for its trees, have too much of a town-like look. They have commenced building everywhere since the Croydon Railway was completed, and land is already letting for double the sum that it brought in ten years ago; what it will realise twenty years hence is a grave question. All the way along the long, long street, even reaching to the right to the Dartmouth Arms station, and away to Forest Hill, there are houses, extending between two and three miles; and some of them are noble structures : servants in livery meet you at every half-dozen of doors—here a mansion, there a cottage; with perhaps a notice over the latter, announcing it “ To let, on a building lease.” Well, railways have at least accomplished one good thing,—they have been the means of drawing hundreds to dwell in the country, who otherwise (or until they retired from business) would have remained in town.
Straight along, over the railway, and leaving Sydenham Church to the left, will lead us to the summit of the steep hill. Here we behold London again, and can see for miles, across the line of the Greenwich railway, beyond Deptford, and far down the river. Now we will bear a little to the left, on the brow of the “Hog's-back;" and on the right hand side of the road, a swing-gate opens, and, through the wood, our road is direct into Lordship's Lane. This is the same wood we passed through when we left Dulwich in the morning, nor are we more than a mile beyond the spot where we then halted to look over London. Pass we the Plough, in Lordship's Lane, the only old road-side public
house remaining in the neighbourhood; across the fields, at the end of it, will bring us out at Goose Green, and, if we continued our course, across to Peckham Rye. All these walks, over fields and through lanes, are beautiful and pleasant; for they have still, with but few exceptions, the good old country look. Here cattle graze; and you catch the sweet smell of new-mown hay, in the season; see green hedges, and little farm-houses, scattered far apart, over the fields; and, worst of all, at almost every turning, you see, To let, on building leases.” Over the hill, and we are in Grove Lane-dusty, steep, but rather prettyand now Camberwell Green (what a brown, grassless green) opens before us; and, hark! the old London cry,
City — West-end — Off in a minute, sir!" Well, we mount the omnibus; and the noise and tumult of the crowded streets tell us that we are (for one day at least) at the end of our SUMMER RAMBLE.
“And when moist April comes in tender green,
The villagers in osier-grounds are seen,
“ HAWTHORNDALE Village Revisited.”—G. K. Matthews.
ABOUT the time of Palm Sunday, osier-peeling commences, if the spring is forward : and at Easter, branches of the willow are cut off and borne home; but why the name of “palm” is given to them we know not, although the smooth, silvery-looking buds which appear before the leaves,