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thaniel. To Edward he left the Manor and estates of Sodbury ; for John, he purchased a large estate at Lypiat; and to Nathaniel he gave Cherington. Thus his sons became ancestors to three distinct branches of the family of Stephens. There is at Lye Grove House, the residence of his descendant, Mr. Hartley, an uncommonly fine portrait, by Vansomer, of this eminent man; he is represented in his robes of sable, holding in the right hand a roll of parchment. For splendour of colouring, and masterly execution, this painting is equal to the portraits of Rubensindeed, it has often been mistaken for that master.
Sir Thomas Stephens, Kt., grandson of the above, was High-Sheriff 1644 and 1671. He obtained a grant from Charles the Second, empowering him to make a park at Lye Grove, a part of this domain. Of the park, enclosed and planted by Stephens, nothing now remains but the wall, a copse of enormous beech trees, and an avenue leading to the House, of perhaps the largest ash trees in the kingdom. Mr. Hartley possesses the draft of the original grant, and it is not a little strange, that the frail paper, which empowered the enclosure, should have survived the noble park it called into existence.
Edward Stephens, Esq., was the last of the name who resided here, dying in 1728 ; the domain passed by heirship to the Packers,* an ancient Berkshire family.
Now, courteous reader, do not think me too prolix if I relate an anecdote of this last Stephens. Pephaps, when gliding along in some luxurious railway carriage, at the rate of forty miles an hour, thou mayst smile at the snail-like pace of our forefathers only a century ago. Mr. Stephens and his lady, (who, by the way, was a great heiress) having been on a visit at Bristol, which is about fourteen miles distant, left that place one morning early to return to their country seat. The lady, rustling in all the majesty of hoop and satins, sat magnificently ensconced in the lumbering vehicle drawn by six horses. Stephens, whose patience had doubtless been tried on former occasions, preferred a walk home across the fields, to the stately trot of such a semi-triumphal procession. On reaching the manor house he is somewhat surprised to find that the lady had not yet arrived; he returns towards Bristol in quest of the cavalcade, but gains no tidings thereof until he arrived at Pucklechurch, about half way. There, to his great joy and astonishment, he finds “ Madam in the booby-hutch,” (as he called the coach) sitting indeed like “ Patience on a monument." They had been stopped by sundry breakages, and the state of the roads, almost impassable in those days, but had happily got thus far when the vehicle unfortunately foundered in an unlucky mud-bank, from whence it was obliged to be literally dug out before they could proceed on their journey!
The manor-house had not been inhabited (excepting the part used as a farm) for forty years. The present Mr. Hartley was anxious to reside here, and had it surveyed, wishing, if possible, to restore it; but it was
• The celebrated Dr. Hartley, author of the admirable “Essay on Man,” by his marriage with the only surviving child of R. Packer, Esq., of Donnington Castle, became possessed of Sodbury, as well as of the large property at Bucklebury, in Berkshire, originally Sir H. Wynchcombe's and the Viscountess Bolingbroke's, Sir Henry's daughter. Thus, for 120 years, these three fine estates have been united; they comprise together about 12,000 acres, and are, in point of picturesque beauty, inferior to none in the kingdom.
found on examination, that neglect and damp had so accelerated the work of decay, that the intention of restoring it was necessarily abandoned. Picturesque as is undoubtedly the situation as a dwelling-house, it is, however, singularly inconvenient; for, being built-nestled as it were— against the side of a precipitous hill, most of the basement-floor rooms had one side under ground ; the kitchen is actually on the floor above the parlours, -and what modern cook would endure the idea of serving dinner down in an apartment below stairs ? The great dining-hall is on one side fifteen feet below the ground, consequently, damp as a cellar. The old library had the same objection, whilst several of the bedrooms were on the same level as the field. Some of the oldest buildings were necessarily obliged to be removed, the walls being so much out of the perpendicular that they must have fallen. Tyndale's chamber was in this part-it was adorned with curious carvings in the Tudor style. Mr. Hartley has caused every fragment, every vestige of the illustrious man to be preserved, and intends placing them in a noble room now being erected at Lye Grove, which is to bear the martyr's name. There, in a ceiling blazoned with purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, amongst the effigies of the great and the wealthy, appear conspicuous the name and armorial bearings of the persecuted exile-the martyred Tyndale !
But the lengthening shadows admonish us to leave these venerable remains, and again ascend the hill, if we would visit, before nightfall, an object whose associations are even more hallowed—the little
Church of St. Adelinr.
Two enormous yew trees protect the entrance, behind whose dark-green foliage the setting sun, now almost touching the horizon, is darting his last rays in one expansive flood of golden light. Apart from all higher considerations, the little church seen from the hill above-its tiny tower and whitened walls relieved by an extensive and most beautiful distance of softened blue-presents an epitome of rural beauty seen no where else but in verdant, in luxuriant England; but the associations connected with the spot kindle emotions of a deeper, a more sublime kind. These yew trees shading the hallowed portal are the largest I ever saw, and tradition (generally correct) assigns to them a duration of eight hundred years. Those luxuriant and far-spreading boughs shaded the illustrious Tyndale, when he entered this humble edifice to pour forth that heavenly eloquence Foxe speaks of, " which was a comfort to the audience who heard him." Were those noble old trees endowed with memory and speech, what takes could they unfold of the families that sought this rural shrine, whom the flood of time has long since swept away! Where are the Despencers- the Walshes —the Stephens's? Where the learned Hartley, and Mary his accomplished daughter? How important the moral that these melancholy boughs unfold—a child could have crushed them in their infancy, but they have survived the wreck of generations of the noble, the 'rich, and the poor, all
« Creatures of clay, vain dwellers in the dust,
A moth survives you."
What recollections are here excited of the feudal, the Catholic, and the Protestant times. Beneath this aged portal have passed the lordly baron and the crouching serf, the pampered priest and self-denying reformer, the gay and voluptuous cavalier, and the stern and uncompromising Roundhead.
It has been the writer's good fortune to visit this lovely spot at different seasons, and under various appearances of the atmosphere; how charming to witness the diorama-like effect of light and shade on such an expansive prospect ;-one moment some hillock, or grove, or meadow, gleaming in sunshine, and the next the same objects lost in obscurity. The last time I visited this scene of enchantment, the day had been overcast and the atmosphere was lowering; the sun had sunk beneath a canopy of heavy clouds, and a distance that ordinarily appears of the softest grey, now seemed to reflect only the heavy and lurid colour of the heavens ;-but there was a single streak of yellow light in the horizon, which served to discover and distinctly relieve three mountains at a great distance; they are contiguous, and I suppose in Brecon, but never had I seen those hills before ;—the first rises with gentle undulation, the last is bold and precipitous,
“And from out the plain · Heaves like a long swept wave about to break,
And on the curl hangs pausing." They only who have spent their happiest days amongst mountains and Alpine scenery, can understand the impressions of delight experienced by suddenly beholding these elevated objects, from spots where least expected.
Now, reader, contrast the church of Little Sodbury with many a stately cathedral, whose enamelled walls and gorgeous altars never heard such streams of heavenly eloquence as were poured out in this lowly shrine, from the fervid lips of the earliest and most high-minded of our reformers; and in the scale of truth and reason how insignificant do they appear; how inferior to the associations of intense interest that hover over the white walls of the most diminutive of parochial churches-St. Adeline of Little Sodbury.
Clihitby Abbey, co. York.
“ High Whitby's cloister'd pile.”—Marmion.
Towards the close of the eleventh century, three poor monks set out from Evesham Abbey for the north, with the pious intention of restoring monastic institutions in Northumbria. They travelled on foot, with a little mule to carry their books and priestly garments, and they wended their way onward, slowly, but cheerfully. Inadequate, indeed, must have appeared, in human estimation, the means possessed by these lowly brethren for the mighty task they had undertaken, but a Divine guidance directed their steps, and prospered their endeavours. Having sojourned for a brief period at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, they journeyed on to Jarrow, where they built themselves huts among ruins of the ancient Abbey of Whitby, and erected a temporary place of worship. Here they gathered together a goodly number of followers, and became the founders of that holy puissant sway in
community, which, subsequently, held
“Whitby's broad domains." Before, however, proceeding with the history of the lands of Whitby from the revival of the abbey to the present time, we must not omit a description, brief though it be, of the earlier foundation, which thus owed its revival to the piety of the Eversham monks :
This original monastery was founded under the patronage of king Oswy, whose daughter, Ælfleda, was the second abbess. Before the great battle of Winwidfield (or Leeds), in which Penda, king of Mercia, was overthrown by Oswy, the latter vowed, that if he should prove victorious, he would devote his infant daughter to the Lord, and, at the same time, give twelve manors, or possessions of land, for founding monasteries. In fulfilment of this vow, Oswy committed the child Ælfleda, who was scarcely a year old, to the care of Hilda, abbess of Hartlepool; and set apart, for the support of monastic institutions, twelve possessions of land, six in Deiro, and six in Bernicia, each consisting of ten families." As the battle was gained in the end of 655, the infant Ælfleda might be sent to Hartlepool in the spring of 656, and, two years after, that is, in the beginning of 658, Lady Hilda,“ having purchased a possession of ten families in a placed called Streoneshalh, (now Whitby) there built a monastery ;" where she and the young princess, with many, if not all of the sisterhood who were at Hartlepool, took up their abode. This possession, though stated to be purchased by Lady Hilda, may be supposed to have been purchased at Oswy's expense, and to have been one of the twelve possessions above mentioned, as each of them consisted of “ ten families."
Hilda, the foundress and first abbess of the monastery at Whitby, was a lady of high rank. She was grand-niece to the renowned King Edwin, being the daughter of Prince Hereric, his nephew. Her birth occurred in the year 614. The place is unknown, as is also her birth-day; though tradition states the latter to be the 25th day of August, which has been kept at Whitby, in honour of Lady Hilda, from time immemorial.
About the year 647, when she was thirty-three years of age, Hilda resolved to assume the veil ; a step which she might be induced to take, not only from the influence of her pious instructors, but from what she had seen of the instability of earthly greatness, in the disasters that befel the royal families of Northumbria and East-Anglia, to both of which she was nearly related ; and, especially, from the example of her sister Hereswith, who, having become a widow, had retired into the monastery of Cale (or Chelles), in France. It was her first design, on taking the religious habit to spend her days in the same monastery with her widowed sister ; and, with this view she went to the court of East-Anglia hoping that the king, to whom she was so nearly related, would forward her to France. But when she had remained there a year, without finding any opportunity of going over to the continent, Bishop Aidan, hearing of her detention, invited her to settle in her own country, and, having obtained “a place of one family" on the north bank of the river Wear, she there pursued the monastic life with a few female associates.
At the expiration of a year, she was made abbess of Hartlepool ; Heiu or Hegu, the foundress, the first abbess of that monastery, and the first nun in Northumbria, having removed to Tadcaster, where she commenced another nunnery. In her new situation at Hartlepool, Hilda acquitted herself in such a manner as added lustre to her character, and gave the highest satisfaction to Bishop Aidan, and other pious friends, who often visited her monastery. Here she had presided some years, maintaining a high character for piety and wisdom, when she removed on the occasion above mentioned, to the banks of the Esk, taking with her the young Princess Ælfleda, and a large company of pious females.
Being, no doubt, constructed of wood, covered with reeds or thatch, and furnished in the most simple style, like all the other religious buildings of the Scottish missionaries and their disciples, the monastery of Streoneshalh would require but a few weeks to complete it; so that Hilda and her associates would enter on their new habitation, in the same season in which the undertaking was begun. The institution probably commenced on a small scale ; but it soon rose to the first rank among the monasteries of Northumbria. The fame of Hilda's piety, intelligence, and prudence, attracted numbers to her community. Those of the higher classes who embraced a religious life, would feel a pleasure in becoming inmates of an abbey, where a lady so respectable presided, and where a young princess was educated. Yet the new monastery was conducted in the spirit of primitive simplicity. Charity and peace were peculiarly cultivated : none were rich, and none poor ; but they had all things in common, nothing being deemed the property of any one individual.
Though we have no account of any new grants of land made to Lady Hilda's monastery, in addition to the first endowment, there can be no doubt that it increased in wealth as well as in numbers. Enjoying, as it did in a high degree, the patronage of the royal family of Northumbria, its possessions must have grown rapidly ; Oswy and his nobles vieing with one another in advancing its interests. Some of the incidents recorded by Bede, as having occurred in the days of Ælfleda, imply that the territories of the monastery were then of great extent; which is also obvious, from the erection of so many new monasteries, subordinate to the parent institution.
The death of the good Lady Hilda happened at the close of the year 680. Her piety, prudence, and learning, caused her to be dignified with the title of Saint, and her claims to the honour seemed to have been well founded. Bede has given us no account of any miracles which she wrought; but his lack of service has been amply made up by later writers, who have emblazoned her memory with splendid fictions. According to these fabulists, the spiral shells called ammoniles, which abound in our alum rock, in a petrified state, are the remains of serpents, which once infested the neighbourhood of Streoneshalh, but were beheaded and turned into stone by Lady Hilda's prayers; and her territory was so sacred, that when the sea-fowls attempted to fly over it, they were constrained to do her homage, by lowering their pinions and dropping to the ground.
Scott alludes to the tradition :
“ They told, how in their convent cell
The lovely Edelfled;