Take a trip round the Abbey with the Dutchess
Text taken from my Great Grandfathers copy of:
C. L. W. C.
(Her Grace the Duchess of Cleveland).
(originally) PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY TICEHURST AND CO.
Additional Original Photographs
Ivor NM White (my father) and Percival White (my grandfather)
Two accounts have been published of Battle Abbey. The first (now nearly out of print) is entitled Gleanings respecting Battel and its Abbey, by a Native,' and was written by Mr. Vidler, who had been employed as an improvised architect during the restorations and alterations carried on in the early part of this century by Sir Godfrey Webster, and had a thorough acquaint ance with the place, with some knowledge of its muniments, but little, if any, antiquarian learning. The second, entitled Battle Abbey, with notices of the Parish Church and Town,' was published in 1866, by a well known archaeologist, the Revd. Mackenzie Walcott, Canon of Chichester, who first compared the remains of the Abbey with the ground plans of Cluny and Marmoutier, and by their aid drew out a conjectural plan of the former monastery, in which he re-named nearly the whole of the existing buildings. But as the larger Ordnance Map that has since appeared brings to light various inaccuracies in his measurements, and a subsequent exploration of some part of the ground has revealed the foundations of additional buildings, I have thought it desirable to publish an accurate enlargement of this official map, distinguishing the more modern walls from the ancient ones by a difference in colour, and adding these fresh discoveries. With this I have given a short account of the different localities, according to the order in which they are shown, (believing that by this plan it will be less troublesome for strangers to follow) : and a description of the new windows that were put up in 1876 in the Abbot's Hall. For those who may take an interest in the subject, I have added a few words about the garden.
The Gateway, through which lies the entrance from the town, terminates the high precinct wall whose buttresses skirt the road from the station, and stands on a small elevation, looking down the principal street of Battle, which here expands into a triangular plot, forming the market place.
The old London road follows the windings of this High Street, and to those who arrive by it (as all travellers did in the old posting days), nothing can be more striking than the first sight of the great grey mass of stonework, emerging in feudal stateliness from its modern surroundings, and proudly contrasting itself with the dapper shops and trim stucco of the nineteenth century. It is true that most of the houses are tolerably old, but all are equally afraid of appearing so, and make incessant war against the mellow influence of the passing years, or any remaining vestige that might trace them back to a more picturesque era.
One house alone is left glorying in its antiquity : an old timber house, with broad low windows, and high pitched roof, that stands back from the road, on the right hand side, with a small garden in front. It has always belonged to the Abbey, and still goes by the name of the Almonry, or Pilgrim's Hospital, of which it occupies the site. The original building was erected by Brihtwine, the bedell of the liberties, with the proceeds of some property at Bee, in Normandy.
On this market place the Abbot's weekly market one of the special privileges of the monastery used to be held every Sunday, (Note1) and the annual fair still takes place on the 22nd of November. Every one pitching a tent or booth, or tethering cattle on the ground, pays the ancient toll to the Abbey. In the centre remains the old bullring, through which passed the rope fastened to the poor animal a heavy iron ring, bolted to a great block of wood, further secured by two cross beams buried in the ground. Bull baiting seems to have lingered on in Sussex longer than elsewhere. It was one of the legitimate amusements of Whitsun week, as cock shying was of Shrove Tuesday, at the close of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, and was continued at Petworth up to the present one, when it was at last put down through the interference of the late Lord Egremont. _Sussex Archceolog. Collections. In earlier times there used to be a municipal enactment in all towns and cities, " that no butcher should be allowed to kill a bull until it had been baited," and there was scarcely a town or village of any magnitude without its bull-ring.' _Wright's Homes of other Days. It was not finally forbidden by Act of Parliament till 1835.
This Gateway is considered one of the finest in the kingdom. It was built by Abbot Retlynge in 1338, somewhat in the style of St. Augustine's, at Canterbury, and having had the rare good fortune to escape all tampering from restorers and improvers, there is not a more perfect specimen of its kind remaining to us. It can never be said to have suffered any injuries that called for reparation, as its history has been the peaceful and unmolested one that becomes a monastic building.
No hostile shaft was ever discharged from its battlements, and no enemy, except Henry the Eighth's Commis sioners, has ever stood before its gates. Even they left it unharmed, to be handled by no rougher touch than Time's, and he has dealt with it so tenderly and reverently that its 500 years of existence have passed over without leaving a hostile trace behind them. All his work has been friendly. True, he has rounded the sharp edges of the mouldings, and here and there chipped off a flake of the sandstone, or broken a link in the tracery. But he has opened chinks and crevices where wild flowers and stone crop have seeded; he has planted a feathery crown of grass on the porch of the South Eastern turret ; and spread over all a fantastic mantle of lichens, which add a thousand blended tints of colouring to the weather stains on the stonework.
It is composed of a central tower of the late Decorated period supposed to have been inserted in a far earlier building and two wings of different lengths. This tower is 35 feet square and 54 feet high, with an octagon turret 8 feet higher at each angle, and has an exactly similar front on its outer and inner side, crossed by an arcade of interlacing arches, of which the centre ones are pierced for a two light window. This arcading is continued round the turrets. Above is another window of the same beautiful tracery, with a quatrefoil at the head (that on the south side is figured in 'Dollman's Domestic Architecture'), between two canopied niches, out of which the original figures have long since disappeared (Note2). The panelled battlements above are very elaborately and finely worked ; those on the turrets are plain, and have been partly restored.
The entrance is through an archway and a postern, opening side by side into a double vaulted passage, divided by clustered columns. Each intersection of the ribs has bosses of foliage, except the one nearest the town in the wider vaulting, which bears a grinning mask, popularly believed to be the head of William the Conqueror ! All the hoodmoulds rest on corbel heads, but of the external ones not much is left ; on the north front they are quite destroyed, and have fared but little better on the south side. Those on the postern door are in such a fragmentary state, that it is only by the rounded cheek and delicate chin that one of them may be surmised to be a woman's ; on the archway they are more preserved. Both wear crowns, and were shown to me on my arrival as the portraits of King Harold and Edith Swanneshals, but poor Swanneshals' crown is more than problematical, and they probably represent Edward III., who granted ' license to castellate ' to the Abbey, and his Queen Philippa. The features of the lady, and a portion of her crown and coif, can be plainly made out ; those of her spouse are completely effaced ; there remains little but the long curled hair (his effigy in Westminster Abbey is remarkable for its dishevelled hair) and the crown more like a duke's coronet than the Royal crown of the present day to represent the great Plantagenet King. But the inner corbels have, to a certain extent, been protected by the vaulting.
The south postern has two heads that are scarcely injured : one, a lady wearing a hood or wimple fastened by a chaplet of roses ; the other, a man who is so wonderfully lifelike that I feel sure he must have sat for his portrait.
The north postern has another female head, with a mantle folded over it and passed under the chin, its fellow is obliterated. The wider arches rest on monsters ; one only is left on the south side - a jolly, grinning lion, with a long, curled beard ; on the opposite side one, I think, is intended for an ape ; but both are nearly gone.
The Gateway - Prison Cells
On entering through the north postern, a small door on the righ thand side of the vaulted passage, opens into the former prison cells of the monastery, which long continued to be the prison of the liberty of Battle, and over it a projecting beam still called the hang man's post shows where the Abbot administered the droit de haute justice conferred upon him by the Conqueror's charter.(Note3)
A small room, lighted by an arrow loop, is shown as one of these prisons ; but it was pro bably only used in later times, for the monastic cells, like all other mediaeval dungeons, would have to be sought for underground. They were almost all blind pits, to which there was no access except through a trap door.(Note4)' It must have been frightfully suggestive to the poor wretches about to be immured that they had to pass under the gallows as they crossed the threshold of their prison house. Let us hope the experience of other countries confirmed the truth of the old German pro verb as to the leniency of ecclesiastical rule :
'Unter 'm Krummstab ist's gut leben. (It is good to live under the crosier.)'
The Gateway - west wing
Of the two wings belonging to the Gateway, the western one alone is habitable, and lodges the gate keeper and his family, but even here, a great part of the flooring is altogether wanting. Two of the windows are of the same Decorated period as the centre tower, and were probably inserted when the latter was added, for this building must be at the least 150 years older. To the west an unmistakable Norman window, with a round. arch (now filled up), supported. by two pillars, of considerable size and fine workmanship, remains on the outer side. Another round headed window has been filled up in the front of the building at some remote date, and so successfully obliterated that it is now diffi cult to distinguish from without, but is visible enough in the interior, where it has been left as a recess or cup board in the wall, within a more modern arch. The chimneys as well as the solitary chimney on the tower, for they were evidently built at the same time deserve especial notice, as an evidence of the good taste of the fourteenth century architect. How ugly how hope lessly and irremediably ugly are the chimneys of our day, even when they do not entail the additional mons trosity of a chimney pot Here, on the contrary, they become ornaments, so beautifully are they fashioned and proportioned; for each is a miniature octangular turret, with its battlements complete, and does not re quire to be helped to do its duty by any unseemly additions. The earliest chimneys at Baby Castle, though on a larger scale, are exactly like these,
The Gateway - east wing
The eastern wing of the Gateway is nearly twice the length of the other, measuring 70 feet, while the latter does not exceed 37 feet. Only the further part is of the same date, as both fronts are believed to have been rebuilt by Lord Montague, in 1566, when he obtained the Act of Parliament for changing the weekly market from Sunday to Thursday. The ground floor was the Market House ; the room above it the Court Hall ; and both continued in use till the roof-probably long neglected-fell in during a great storm on September 28th, 1764. From the marks left on the east side of the centre tower, it must have replaced a former one of higher pitch. It was in this Court House that the Steward of the Liberty sat as a judge, assisted by the King's itinerant Lords Justices. He was also styled Seneschal, or Keeper and was generally some consider able personage, appointed by the Abbot : at the time of the dissolution this office was held by the Earl of Wiltshire. By the rolls of Queen Elizabeth it appears that the Steward had the power of licensing alehouses in the town. There was besides a Bedell (equivalent to a town clerk), who was also a person of consequence, and generally a lawyer. In 1376, we find the Bedell was John Bodeherst, the ancestor of Earl Bathurst ; and in 1499, it was Vincent Fynch of Nedderfeld, from whom descends the present Earl of Winchilsea. This potentate has disappeared, and the inhabitants have been gradually despoiled of all their ancient privileges, but a lawyer in the town still bears the high sounding title of Steward of the Manor (Note5) This building remains a merely empty shell ; the interior is gutted, and the two ranges of square Elizabethan windows are left blank and eyeless, or, in some cases, closed with masonry, to prevent any unwelcome visitor from climbing in. The only practicable entrance is now from the Abbey grounds, through a small postern. Opposite to this, two large doors, placed side by side, led into the market place, from whence they were entered by short flight of steps ; and at each of the two corners of the north front was a large open fireplace. The fireplaces of the upper room corresponded with these, and the two stacks of chimneys belonging to them appear in the drawing of 1783, and perhaps fell at the same time as the roof. There is, as far as I can see, no clue to the means by which the upper floor was reached. It was certainly not approached by the Gateway stairs, as there is no appearance whatever of an internal communication between them ; no trace of a door in any part of the wall ; and though at the east end there is another stair turret (presently to be described), here the only access from the inner side opened upon the roof. The staircase must have been a wooden one, and as I conjecture, on the southwest side, where a fourteenth century squinch, binding together the turret and square tower of the Gateway, cuts off an angle of the building.
Nor can I distinguish the least indication of internal walls. It would naturally be supposed that the two parallel doors belonged to different divisions of the Market-House ; but it is clearly impossible there should have been a partition between them, as the postern and a window over it exactly occupy the space opposite ; and I can only conclude that they were used jointly, the one as an entrance, the other as an exit, either to avoid all jostling and confusion among the market people, or else for taking the toll.
Lord Montague evidently did not rebuild the east end, for the outline of two Gothic windows remain on the outer side ; into the larger of these he introduced an Elizabethan one, and probably also rebattlemented the wall, to make it correspond with the rest of his new building. This wall now forms the only connecting link between two octangular turrets, of different sizes, that date from the same period as the Gateway. The smaller turret, like the other outer turrets, contains no staircase, but only closets or garderobes. The larger turret, on the other hand, is very easily reached from the outside. A flight of steps, passing under the round arch of what was once a porch-one of the most picturesque bits in the whole place-lead to a narrow landing, from whence a similar portal opened into a tower, now destroyed, on the right, and a small door with a pointed arch in front into the interior. Here there is a newel stair (no longer safe), that winds up to the roof of the turret, or, to speak more correctly, to where the roof once was. Two doors, one above the other, communi cated with a vanished building on the right, which must have been a high, narrow tower, resting on the precinct wall. It spanned one of the original entrances to the monastery (the one, as is believed, by which stran gers were admitted to the Minster Close), and of this both the outer and inner archways are preserved, though the short passage that connects them is now open to the sky. The outer one is walled up. Immediately above it, a large north window looked into the town; in 1737 more than half the jamb remained, jutting out like a spur of rock, and some parts of it continued to hang together till the winter of 1873, when the last remnants of the masonry fell to the ground. All these doors and windows are round headed, showing that this was Norman work, and the part of the precinct wall on which it stands has the peculiar flat Norman buttresses. There can, I think, be no question that this tower was wilfully destroyed, but it had disappeared so long ago that it is altogether idle to speculate as to when and why it was pulled down. Perhaps, from its connection with the Minster Close, it was included in the wholesale demolitions at the Dissolution.
Once upon a time, whoever set foot within this Gate way was free of the law. No pursuer could follow him, no enemy harm him, within the shelter of the precinct wall ; for the Abbey was an inviolable sanctuary. For all who came, there was a truce to the troubles and dangers of the world. The poor wretch flying from justice, or in fear of his life, was secure when he had crossed its threshold, and could 'depart in peace,' whatever his crime had been.(Note6) More than this; if the Abbot, 'throughout the realm of England,' chanced to meet any condemned thief, robber, or any other criminal, he had the power of pardoning and releasing him. Walsingham mentions a case when this occurred in 1363, and the Abbot of Battle did actually release a felon who was being taken to the Marshalsea on his way to London.
The Abbot's Lodge
From the Gateway, the Abbey is approached by a short carriage way, passing along a line of elms, set in a thicket of hollies, that screen the wall of the stable yard. Formerly a double avenue of these fine old trees led up to the hall door.
The first building to which we come is the Abbot's Lodge, the only part of the ancient monastery (with the exception of the kitchen and refectory) that was left standing at the time of the Dissolution. All else, minster, bell tower, chapter house, sacristy, cloisters, &c., was levelled to the ground, in accordance with the King's command that every building, 'except them that be necessary to a farmer,' should be pulled down. Thus the Abbot's residence was reserved. for the next occupant, and the refectory and kitchen used as barns.
The Royal Commission
Battle Abbey, as one of the principal monasteries, was included in the second schedule, thereby surviving the destruction of the smaller houses by two years, and it was only towards the end of May, 1538, that the long dreaded Royal Commissioners appeared at the gate. These were Sir John Gage, a country gentleman resident in the neighbourhood, who obtained a share of the spoils,(Note7) and was at the time Comptroller to the King, as well as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Dr. Layton, one of the originally-appointed visitors, who had been the authors of the famous 'Black Book.' He and his colleague, Legh, were the most active and obnoxious of the monastic inquisitors, and accused of bearing themselves with overweening insolence. Their servants, too, had ridden along the highways, decked in the spoils of the desecrated chapels, with copes for doublets, tunics for saddle cloths, and the silver relic cases hammered into sheaths for their daggers'.-Froude. The monks of Battle, however, having had timely notice of their impending fate, had taken good care to leave as little as possible for the plunderers to take, and disposed of most of their moveable property and church ornaments. Accordingly, we find the disappointed Commissioners declaring it to be 'the most beggarly house' they had ever seen, with the worst implements of the household' ; and vestments so base worn, ragged, and torn, that little money can be made of the vestry.'(Note8)
The deed of surrender was signed by the Abbot, Prior, and sixteen monks, on May 27th ; then the Commissioners, following the usual course of procedure, broke the convent seals, assigned pensions to the community, and took possession of their property. The plate and jewels were reserved for the King ; the furniture and goods were sold, and the money paid in to the Augmentation Office, lately established for that purpose '- Lingard. The Abbot received the largest pension ever granted to the heads of houses, that is, £100: the Prior had .E10 : eight of the monks, £6 13s. 4d. each ; the other eight, £4 ; and the only novice then in the establishment, £2 13s. 3d. These sums appear to us incredibly small ; but it must be remembered that accord ing to Froude's calculation, a penny was then worth about one shilling of our money, and the income of an ordinary parish priest only from £4 to £8 a year. The buildings to be destroyed were, according to local tradi tion, sold to one Gilmer for the worth of the materials, and three months later, Sir Anthony Browne, Master of the Horse to the King, received the site of the late Monastery or Abbey of Battel, then dissolved,' and all its possessions in Sussex and Kent, with the sole exception of the manor of Alciston, already granted to Sir John Gage. This does not seem to have comprised the outlying possessions of the Abbey, in the counties of Southampton, Devon, Worcester, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Berks, Oxford, Wilts, Cambridge, as elsewhere within the Kingdom of England, Wales, and the mar ches thereof' mentioned in the deed of surrender. The whole revenues of the Abbey were valued at that time at £880 4s. 7d. per annum, according to Dugdale, or £987 11s. 6d. per annum, as estimated by Speed ; these two sums probably representing the difference between the net and the gross rental. Yet, nearly 200 years before, in 1383, it had amounted to £1,244 3s. 4d., and it seems abundantly evident that the monks had guarded themselves against the evil day they saw approaching, by renewing their leases at greatly depre ciated rents on payment of a fine.
Grant to Sir A. Browne
Sir Anthony Browne held the estates of the King by the service of two knight's fees, and a yearly rent of £12. The deed of grant minutely details the property, giving the old conventual names of the different fields and pastures. Fortyone acres are specified as Sexten's (Sacristan's) land ; eight fields belonged to the Spytil (Hospital) : there was the Ambery Mede (Almonry Mead) Culver (Wood Pigeon) Mede, Le Great Mansy (Manse) and Le Litell Mansy, Le Hog Parke, Le Gel hirer's Rails, Le Newgrounde, Le Chepe (Market) Feld, Vineyarde Pond, Le Pasture Fields, and Chesehowse Mede (probably an appurtenance to the Abbey dairy, which was on a very large scale), Le Longemede, Le Mansy by the Butts, Stewemeyde, and a pasture called the Procession Strake.
The new grantee descended from the great Norman house of La Forte. Hugh de la Forte is mentioned by Waco at Hastings. Richard de la Forte accompanied Robert of Normandy to Palestine in 1096 ; and his youngest son, Gamel, surnamed Le Brun, settled in Cumberland, where he had baronial grants from Wal dove FitzGospatric. Anthony, a younger son of Robert le Broun, M.P. for Cumberland, 1317-1339, settled in London, became a rich merchant, and was created a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Richard II., as a reward for having lent the King a large sum of money, and then generously cancelled the bond. He was the great grandfather of our knight Sir Anthony had spent all his life at Court, and always stood high in the favour of the King, who named him one of the executors of his will, and guardian to his two younger children. He was a Knight of the Garter, a Privy Councillor, Justice of Eyro of all the King's forests beyond Trent ; and Chief Standard bearer of England ; an able, astute man, who knew how to steer his course in the difficult times in which he lived. ' The waves,' says his biographer, Lloyd, were boisterous ; but he, the solid rock, or the well guided ship that could go with the tide.' He performed all his duties with a good courage and conscience : ' even to the dangerous task (imposed upon him as a favourite attendant) of acquainting the King with his approaching death. In 1542 he inherited from his half-brother, William FitzWilliam, Earl of Southamp ton, the house and estate of Cowdray, in West Sussex, that had been the inheritance of their mother, Lady Lucy Nevill, one of the coheiresses of the last Marquess of Montague. There, soon after his accession, Edward VI. paid him a visit, and was, by his own account, marvellously, yea, rather excessively, banquetted.' Sir Anthony died in the following year, having been twice married. His first wife was Alice, daughter of Sir John Gage (already mentioned), whose effigy may be seen on his tomb in Battle Church, by whom he had a large family ; and when she left him a widower, at the ripe age of 60, he obtained the hand of a beautiful Court lady, 45 years his junior-Lady Elizabeth FitzGerald, celebrated by Surrey as the Fair Geraldine. She brought him two sons, who both died young, and re married the Earl of Lincoln.
His eldest son, a man highly and deservedly esteemed in his own day, received a peerage from Queen Mary on the occasion of her marriage with Philip of Spain, and chose the title of Viscount Montague, as his grand mother had been one of the representatives of that family. He finished the manor house that his father had commenced building at Battle, and also completed Cowdray ; where, in 1591, he entertained Queen Elizabeth for a week with a great variety of masques and revels. He had, in addition, two other houses, Byflete and West Hoathly, in Surrey, in which part of his time was spent ; and his widow, Mabel Dacre, appears to have been the last of the family who permanently took up her reside flee here. His successors lived more and more exclusively at Cowdray. They suffered greatly in fortune during the Civil Wars, and in 1661, Francis, third Viscount, found himself obliged to dispark the great deer park of Battle Abbey, and divide it into farms. His son, again pressed for money, took down, in 1683, the great monastic kitchen, in order to sell the materials. This appears, till then, to have remained tolerably perfect; and was Of such magnificent dimensions (containing five large fire-places) that its demolition extended over a period of four years. Finally, in 1719, the sixth Viscount Montague sold the Abbey to Sir Thomas Webster, with whose descendants it remained for above 130 years.
Sir Thomas Webster
Sir Thomas, the son of a rich 'citizen and cloth- worker of London,' had received in 1703 a baronetcy from Queen Anne, in consideration of his having 'maintained and supplied thirty soldiers for three years for the defence of the Plantation of Ulster in Ireland.' He was first seated in Essex, where, nearly twenty years before, he had bought Copped Hall of the Earl of Dorset. This he resold to Edward Conyers when he became possessed of Battle, and invested the proceeds in adding to his estates in the neighbourhood of the Abbey. He is said to have been a man of considerable antiquarian learning, and showed a marked preference for old buildings in all his acquisitions. One of these was the fine ruin of Bodiam Castle, formerly the seat of the Dallyngruges, which was bought from the Powell family ; another was Robertsbridge Abbey, a Cistercian house, founded in the twelfth century, and originally granted to Sir William Sydney, with an estate of the annual value of £1,186, for which he paid £30,700.
About the same time he bought a house in St. James's Street (now Boodle's Club) for £,6000. He died at a good old age in 1750. The next heir, Sir Whistler, though he was (by the will of his great grand father, Henry Whistler) an even more wealthy man, pulled down a great part of the building, and so completely neglected the place, that Horace Walpole, when he came here in 1752, found 'the grounds, and what has been the park, in a vile condition.' Nor was it better cared for by his widow, who held it as a jointure house, and survived him for thirty one years. It was in her time that the roof of the Court House fell in (see p. 7) ; and the Abbey itself was, as the story goes, in so pitiable a plight, that on rainy nights, the old lady could only pass along the gallery to her bedroom on pattens. She was very nearly a centenarian when she died in 1810. Her great nephew, Sir Godfrey Vassall, fifth Baronet, who then succeeded, laid out a great deal of money in restoring, refitting, and enlarg ing the moribund old house. He built the present stables, a new kitchen, with several other rooms, and added all the carved wood work in the hall and else where. But he got into debt ; and in less than ten years time found himself so deeply involved as to be obliged to let the place, and go abroad. The whole of the timber (to the value of £100,000) had already been cut down ; and a considerable portion of the estate sold. His son, the present Baronet, disposed of the remainder to the Duke-then Lord Harry Vane-in 1858.
The Principal Entrance
The principal entrance to the Abbey is through an ancient double porch, flanked with buttresses, and once lighted by two round-headed windows, that leads into the Abbot's Hall. This front was reconstructed by Sir A. Browne, who also added at the north end the octagon stair turret, communicating with the crow-stepped gable above, which Mr. Walcott believes to have belonged to the Abbot's Solar, tho' in reality its little Elizabethan window lights only a small detached garretroom. Moreover, Mr. Vidler asserts that the Abbey projected further out on this side ; for it has been ascertained that some buildings which extended westwards from the present entrance were taken down, and the parting wall eased by Sir A. Browne, or his son.' This is made evident by an examination of the south west angle of the building, where one of the old but tresses has been cut asunder to make room for this wall. The present windows were put in by Sir Godfrey Webster more than sixty years ago. The two lower ones, to the left of the porch, look into an ancient vaulted room now used as a drawing room, which it is believed was the Locutorium, or parlour, of the monastery. In the last century it was divided by a partition, one half being used for storing wood, and the other inhabited by an old man named Isaac Ingall, who according to his tomb stone in the churchyard, died in 1798, at the age of 120 years. He always asserted that he had been in the service of the Websters for upwards of a century, and had waited at table for 90 years. It seems at all events certain that he was brought to Battle by Sir Thomas Webster in 1719, as his postilion, and was gradually advanced till he became the head of the establishment. He was active to the last, walking about supported on two stout sticks, and once-being a testy and irascible old gentleman-he actually set out on a pedestrian excursion to Hastings to enquire for another situation !
Further back, on the other side, is the wall of the Abbot's Hall, that meets the inner end of the porch at a right angle, and joins it to the new Library Wing, thus connecting the two buildings that from a distance appear to be separate. It has three large windows, which, though modern, are placed exactly within the labels of the former ones, but are different in proportion, for the ancient openings, still visible on the wall, and descending several feet lower, show the great height originally intended for them. They were probably shortened when the two supporting buttresses and their connecting masonry were added-certainly at some very distant date ; and the porch was also an after-thought, for by these constructions three of the original corbel figures were cut in half. Those that remain perfect are interesting. They are the portraits of three mediaeval minstrels, close shaven, with long hair and flat caps ; one is playing the mandoline ; another is twanging his harp with his head poised a little on one side, just as modern harp-players do ; while a third is performing on a fife and drum at the same time-as we see done at the present day in Punch and Judy shows.
The Battlements - Stone Figures
Above is a string course with four grotesque figures, and the vacant places of three others. One is winged, with the legs of a goat ; another is a fierce lion, with a broad fringe of mane, resting on his fore-paws ; a third is hooded like a monk ; yet, though nothing can be less alike than they are in design, on one point they all agree-every one of them is grinning from ear to ear. All are carved by the same bold free hand, coarse and rough in execution, but full of humour and spirit, and very effective from the distance at which they are seen. The lion's big eyes start out of his head with excitement, and the jovial stupid looking monsters roll their tongues in their mouths in their boisterous fun. The greatest curiosities, however, are the two full length figures on the battlements, for I never remember seeing any of the kind elsewhere. They are quite unlike the stone figures of our Northern castles, standing sentinel behind the battlements, and brandishing a weapon or lifting a stone in mimic defence ; they carry no arms, and each sit on the edge of a merlon, with their feetdangling down before them, in perfect amity and good will towards all mankind. They are about half life size, and considerably weatherbeaten (as is justifiable), but otherwise in tolerable preservation.
The Library Wing
We now come to the Library Wing. This was built in Edward VI.'s time, by Sir Anthony Browne, as a residence for the Princess Elizabeth, to whom her father's will had appointed him guardian ; but he never lived to see it completed, nor consequently to receive his royal guest. His successor, the first Viscount Mon tague, finished it for his own use, as (though now ter minating with a great bay window) it then joined a large building that occupied the Upper Terrace, and was the dwelling place of the family, It is a little doubt ful whether Queen Elizabeth's wing was ever really inhabited, or even completely finished : it certainly was not in a habitable state in 1858. The roof was a rough and apparently temporary one : there was no flooring to the lower rooms, and though planks had been laid down in the upper storey, there were no means of reaching it. Some small Tudor windows, ascending in the north west angle, showed where a grand staircase had once been, leading, it is said, to a guard-room 46 feet by 22, opening into an ante room which communicated with the building on the Upper Terrace. The double range of windows were of much the same character as those at Haddon Hall ; the upper ones the largest, as it was at that time usual to have the principal rooms on the first floor : and towards the further end there was a large bay, full of pots and crucibles, that had been used as a laboratory by Sir Augustus Webster.
The restoration of this neglected building was entrus ted to Mr. Henry Clutton, who designed our present library, the ante-room adjoining, the Duke's study, and the bedrooms above. None of the old windows were retained, except one small stairlight in the corner of the north angle,(Note9) which was spared at the last moment.
This end of the building was scarcely meddled with, except to add a new window and close up the old ones, but the west front may almost be said to have been re constructed, while the southern extremity (then square) was pulled down to make room for the large bay window. The old masonry-three feet thick-was found to be in excellent condition.
The Old Manor House
Passing along the Library front, we mount, by a short flight of stairs, to the Upper Terrace. Here, in the time of the monks, stood a building conjectured to have been their Guest House, resting upon a range of vaulted chambers, which formed the basement storey, and still remain in a tolerably perfect state. This building Sir Anthony Browne converted into his manor house, probably pulling down the greater part of it, and adding 40 feet to its length (extending it for exactly that distance beyond the monastic walls below) : but it was left unfinished at the time of his death, and completed by his son, Lord Montague. It was a handsome and striking house, with a double row of square Elizabethan windows divided by buttresses ; those belonging to the state apartments again above : and the lower ones evidently inserted in the round arches that had formed part of the Guest-House. A bay window, near the east end, lighted a drawingroom, measuring 31 feet by 29 feet, which there formed the angle of the building. From thence a gallery, 162 feet long, extended along the front to the octagon towers at the west end, while, at the back, a range of small rooms looked northwards into the court. This gallery communicated with the ante-room already mentioned in the present Library Wing. The Princess Elizabeth would therefore have been lodged as befitted a King's daughter, with a guard room, a waiting-room, and a stately gallery leading to her withdrawingroom. There is a curious letter still extant, written to Sir Anthony's steward by an officer of his household, and dated July 11 (1539 ?), respecting the rough layers or masons to be employed at Battle Abbey, as he hears that those sent by Mr. Bartlett are returned home to their own country.' It seems that the works were undertaken by some builder by contract, and the writer enjoins the steward that ye well see them well handelyde in their wages, yf men feell no gayne by their labors and travell hytt were as goode that they werre gone, for they well worke none theire after. As I understands the worke is takyn in grett by one manne, and ho doweth gyve small wages by cause hys owne gayne should be the more' (Note10)
All we know of this building is from the engraving in ' Buck's Antiquities' (which, though dated 1737, is merely a copy of a former one published while the place still belonged to the Montagues), and a drawing in the Manor map of 1724, for Sir Whistler Webster, who appears to have had a passion for demolition, pulled it down about the middle of the last century. Probably the house was much out of repair, and its restoration would have cost more money than he cared to lay out upon it ; or he may not have thought it a desirable residence. The situation was undoubtedly fine ; its southern exposure in itself an immense advantage ; and the long upper gallery, with its broad windows flooded with sunshine, must have been a very pleasant room, looking over a wide prospect of woods and hills to the distant sea. On the other hand, this commanding site had its drawbacks ; for standing, as it did, in the very teeth of the furious south west gales that prevail along this coast, the house must have borne the full brunt of every storm that blew. Be this as it may, at all events Sir Whistler destroyed the building, leaving only the two towers still standing at one end, and at the other the square drawing-room that formed the angle to the east, which remained till about twenty five years ago, and appears in most of the engravings of the place, as well as in one of Turner's sketches. Left thus isolated, it stood, like a square three storeyed tower, right in front of the south end of the Abbot's Hall, blocking out all sunshine from the few rooms in the Abbey looking in that direction. Partly on this account, and partly because it threatened to become unsafe, it was taken down a few years before the Duke purchased the Abbey.
The terrace was at that time a woeful place enough; uneven, neglected, and surrounded by the jagged frag ments of the destroyed wall. No attempt had been made to protect the old vaulting on which it stood from the weather, and in one place this had given way, leaving a yawning rift, through which one might peer down into the darkness below. This gap was repaired, and the surface was levelled, coated with asphalte, and surrounded with drain pipes to carry off the rainwater ; the asphalt then being covered with nine inches of earth, and laid with turf and gravel. The wall around was also made level, and finished with broad, flat coping stones; and the recesses of the windows filled with encaustic tiles to form seats; but of the stately range of twelve windows along the south front, displayed in Buck's engraving, three only can now be traced. Two more remain on the north side, and the jamb of a third appears on the angle of the north tower. At the opposite, or east end, remain three arched windows, that belonged to the old Guest House. The two octagon towers contained the staircases, each leading down to a postern door that opened, the one on the north, the other on the south, side of the house. The doors that communicated with the three different storeys may still be seen on the north tower: the lowest is now a recessed seat.
The View from the Terrace
Before us, about six miles away, and appearing through a gap in the hills, is the slender streak of silver sea,' not easily discerned by unpractised eyes, unless when it flashes back the midday sun, or is crossed by the white speck of a sail gleaming against the horizon. The long, low promontory to the S. W. is Beaohy Head, that there terminates the broad chalk ridge of the south Downs. The large pond at the foot of the hill, in front, was made by Sir Godfrey Webster; the three stewponds, more to the left, date from the time of the monks. None of the trees in the park are much above sixty years old. They are chiefly quick growing Levantine oaks, planted to replace the magnificent trees (said to have been the finest oaks in this part of the country) that were then cut down. One-the grandest of all- had been spared at the special intercession of Lady Webster; but being left isolated and unsheltered, it was uprooted by the first heavy gale that followed. Immediately below the terrace, stood a very fine avenue cf ancient walnut trees (shown in Buck's engraving), which were used in replacing the timber roof of the Abbot's Hall.
Site of the Battle
This terrace commands a view scarcely to be surpassed for its historical interest. The whole of the field of battle of Hastings lies mapped out at our feet, for we stand on the very crest of the position held by King Harold. It was over those heights to the east, still followed by the road from Hastings, that the Conqueror came. It was on that highest hill, called Telham-of which the brow, orowned with a small wood, appears above the firtrees close at hand-that he first caught sight of the Saxon camp, and raising his hand to heaven, vowed that if God should give him the victory, he would there build a great abbey and chantry for the souls of the slain, that should be the token and pledge of the English crown. It was there, too, that he told off his army into the three divisions that were to make the attack ; and it was across that narrow valley, where the railroad now runs, that their march lay.
Immediately in front of us came the centre of the invading host-the native Normans under their own Duke ; to our left, Roger de Montgomeri led his French mercenaries up the steeper side of the hill, now covered by the cottages of the lower town ; while, to our right, Alain le Roux and his men of Brittany formed the left wing of the Conqueror's army. In that direction, a clump of trees, on some rising ground, marks the out .lying post so obstinately defended by the Saxons ; and further to the west is the point from whence the Duke succeeded in turning the position and entering the enemy's lines, of which the centre, once denoted by the great Dragon Standard of England, lies behind us to the left, on the spot now known as Harold's Chapel. It was along this hillside-then a bare waste, called by Ordericus the thyme clad field of Senlac, ' that stretched the rude palisade of ash staves, backed by its shield wall, that formed the Saxon lines. They enclosed the whole of the ground lying between the ravine of the Asten (a small stream, erst distained with English blood,' that rises in the park not far from the Gateway) on the west, to the deeper gorge of the 11 alfosse (below the present parish church) on the east : commanding what was then the only practicable road to London from the coast. (Note 11)
To the rear, a narrow neck of land (on which now stands the High Street) connected this outlying hill with the higher ground beyond ; and it has been admitted at all hands that Harold, thoroughly as he knew the country, could not have chosen a finer military position. The central point was held by his best soldiers ; the body guard of House earls, that had been his com rades in all his campaigns, and the men of Kent, ordered to the front according to the ancient privilege th at gave them the post of honour. Whenever the King goes to battle,' says Wace, the first blow belongs to them' ; and the white horse of Hengist always waved in the vanguard of an English army. Next to them stood the men of Essex : and on either wing were posted the new levies ; men hastily collected in the southern and midland shires, and very poorly armed ; some of them only with scythes, sharpened stakes, or the primitive stone hatchets of an earlier generation. And all were marshalled according to those touching and pathetic tactics which speak of a nation more accustomed to defend than to aggrieve. To that field the head of each family led his sons and kinsfolks, every ten families (or tithing) were united under their own chosen captain. Every ten of these tythings had again, some loftier chief, dear to the populace in peace, and so on, the lofty circle spread from household, hamlet, town, till, all combined, as one county under one Earl, the warriors fought under the eyes of their own kinsfolk, friends, neighbours, chosen chiefs I What wonder that these men were brave?'-Lord Lytton.
Harold's great army-if it really consisted, as we are told, of 60,000 men, or even approached that number, must have been wedged into very small quarters on the ground it occupied. But its position was all but impregnable, and had his followers obeyed his orders, and been content with defending it, the fortune of the day must infallibly have been theirs. They had already repulsed the charge of the Norman horse and foot, though the choicest chivalry of Europe,' and the picked archers of Evreux and Louviers, had been brought against them ; and signs of discomfiture and even panic had begun to show show themselves in the ranks of their assailants. On all sides rose the boding cry The Duke is dead ! the Duke is dead ! ' But William was unhurt, and when he saw his men fall back, and the English triumphing over them, his spirit rose high,' and raising his helmet, that his features might be the better seen, he cried aloud, Behold me ! I live, and by God's grace I will conquer. What cowardice is this? What men are ye that flee? (Note 12) Are ye Normans, and forget your great ancestors-King Rolf, whose lance struck down the King of France on his own ground-Duke Richard, who fought the devil himself single handed, and vanquished and bound him ! (Note13) And ye would fail and flee I Follow me, my men Death is behind, and victory before ! ' Then, snatching his lance from a vassal in attendance, he took his post by his gonfanon,' and bore on against the press of fugitives, forcing them bank by main force to their work.' His knights spurred on around him, sword in hand : Tostein Fitz Rou, by his side, bore the gonfanon boldly, high aloft in the breeze,' and his voice, his looks, his desperate energy, worked like a charm upon the failing spirits of his men. They rallied around him ; and once more, at the head of a great company, vavassors of Normandy, who, to save their lord, would have put their own bodies between him and the enemie's blows,' he led a second and more terrible onslaught. Two horses were killed under him ; but the defenders stood firm to their barri cades, and the most brilliant valour was of no avail. Then he bethought himself of the stratagem that was to win the day. Part of his army was ordered to simulate flight, and succeeded in drawing the Saxons out of their entrenchments. When they saw their foemen retreating, they leaped forward with jubilant shouts in pursuit, scattering themselves over the valley in front, and speeding up the opposite hill, crying out that the men of France fled never to return. " Cowards ! " they cried, " you came hither in an evil hour, wanting our lands, and seeking to seize our property ; fools that ye were to come ! Normandy is too far off, and you will not easily reach it. It is of little use to run back ; unless you can cross the sea at a leap, or can drink it dry, your sons and daughters are lost to you! " The Normans bore it all, but in fact they knew not what the English said ; their language seemed like the baying of dogs, which they could not understand.' - Wace. They were well aware, too, that the moment for retaliation was close at hand. Suddenly, at a given signal, the barons were heard crying Dex aie (Note14) for a halt. Then the Normans wheeled round upon their surprised pursuers, and drove them back in confusion up the hill. Then began the final and fiercest struggle, that terminated only at the foot of the Saxon standard.. Then it was that the dales all around sent forth a gory stream,' and the little dell of the Asten-now the favourite resort of the good people of Battle-was choked and bridged over with dead bodies. Well might men believe, as they did in former days, that the ruddy pools of rainwater seen hereabouts (Note15) (tinged by the iron stone in the soil) betokened a very bloody sweat of the earth, crying out to the Lord for vengeance of so great it slaughter.'
Capturing the standard
There is no site in England that is better-I might say as well-attested than this. It was the very crown of Senlac Hill and the key of Harold's position ; the special post of honour and danger, to be held at all hazards to the last. Here, side by side with the English standard, the great Dragon of Wessex,(Note21) stood his personal ensign, the figure of the Fighting Man, embroidered in gold, and glittering with jewels, that was afterwards presented by the Conqueror to the Pope. Here were posted the men of London, whose duty it was to guard the King's banner and the King's body ; and here, when the battle began, the King, with his two brave brothers, took his place in their midst, praying to God for help.' He was on foot; every king of England was bound to fight on foot, to show that when he fought there could be no retreat,(Note 22) and around him, with their retainers, stood his Thanes and nobles ; 'the men,' says Freeman, who had stormed the mountain holds of Gruffydd, and whose axes had cloven the shield wall of Hardrada.' Here, at the foot of the standard, one and all laid down their lives in its defence. Not one of them was seen to flinch and falter ; not one of them turned his back upon the foe ; as long as the breath remained in their bodies, they were found at their post : holding on long after all hope was at an end; and, at the close of the battle, it is recorded that not one of the leaders of the Saxon army was left alive. Harold himself, when the Norman arrow had pierced ids eye, though dizzy and faint with pain, still kept his feet and stood in his place, steadying himself on his shield, and defending it as best he might, till four Norman knights-Eustace de Boulogne, Walter Gifford, and the Sires de Ponthieu and de Montfort rushed upon him and despatched him with their swords. Then -and not till then-the Dragon Standard was beaten down, the golden gonfanon captured, and the victory won. The broken Saxon army scattered far and wide, flying towards London or plunging into the thickets of the surrounding forests. Some few stragglers made a stand beyond the swampy gorge of the Malfosse, into which the Normans, riding after them in hot haste, rolled headlong, horse and man • and here again there was a terrible loss of life. But this last feeble spark of resistance was speedily trampled out ; and as the dark ness began to fall, the triumphant Norman trumpets sounded on Callbeck Hill, to summon back their men from further pursuit. The crown of England had been lost and won in a fair foughten field. Thus,' says the old historian Daniel, was tried, by the great assize of God's judgment in battle, the right of power between the English and Norman nations : a battle the most memorable of all others, and, however miserably lost, yet most nobly fought on the part of England.'
The Duke now knelt down and returned thanks to God. Then, in his pride, he ordered his gonfanon to be brought and set up on high, where the English standard had stood; and that was the signal of his having conquered. And he ordered his tent to be raised on that spot among the dead, and had his meat brought thither, and his supper prepared there.'- Trace. He further desired that the spot should be carefully marked out, in order that the high altar of the great church he had vowed to erect might stand exactly upon it. The monks, who always chose secluded and sheltered dells for their habitations, abhorred the idea of building on this bleak common, and attempted to migrate across the shoulder of Senlac hill to a more cosy nest below. But William was peremptory, and summarily ordered them back to the battle-field, where, according to his original purpose, the high altar of the new Minster was set up on the very spot where Harold had been killed, and the English standard taken. Thus no link seems wanting in the chain of evidence that establishes its identity.
The Abbey Minster
We now turn away from the terrace, and pass once more along the west front to the present wood-yard, which contains the last fragment now left above ground of the wall of the Abbey Church.
This was the crowning glory of the Abbey ; the splendid Basilica (Note16) which, had it been preserved to our time would still, from its size alone, take rank with the grandest buildings in England. It measured no less than 315 feet in length, and was, therefore, longer than Rochester Cathedral or Ripon; longer than Bath Abbey Church, Sherbourne Minster or Christchurch, in Hampshire-longer than Southwell, Manchester or Romsey. Yet, according to an old legend, William had intended it to be still longer. This story is differently told. According to Knighton, as William was sleeping in his tent before the battle, he heard a voice, which said to him, Be a good man, for thou shalt prevail to take the crown of this realm, and be king of England. When thou halt overcome thy foe, build here in my name a church, as many feet in length as years in which thy seed shall possess rule in the land.' Others say the King passed three weeks in praying and fasting, and giving alms and oblations, beseeching God to reveal to him the duration of his dynasty ; ' and at length, received in reply the command to build a minster as many feet long as he desired years of royalty for his posterity.' After this comforting vision, which seemed to leave the length of his dynasty to his own choice, the King rose at sunrise, and had the ground duly measured and staked out for a church 500 feet long. But, during the following night, invisible hands were found to have removed the boundaries, and reduced the dimensions to 315 feet. William had them replaced, but the same thing happened the next night. Again he had them put back in their original position, but when they were altered for the third time, he gave up the contest, and accepted the diminished measurement. And thus the minster was 315 feet long ; but I am grieved to add no change of dynasty occurred at the date thus obtained-1381.
Unfortunately the only representation we have of it is the somewhat rude one given on the Abbey seals, some of which are in the British Museum. These show us, on the west front, a great central tower, two storeys high, surmounted by a low spire. Four other arcaded towers-higher than those of Peterborough-and each also crowned with a spirelet, bearing crosses and ban ners, terminate each front of the transept. The principal entrance was through a magnificent arch, rather like that of Tewkesbury. The seal of Bishop Odo, giving a lateral view, shows the three eastern chapels of which the substructures still exist. Its building occupied about fifty years.
This magnificent building was utterly annihilated in 1538. There is a good old saying that Church work is a cripple in going up, but rides post in coming down;' but yet it is not easy to understand how it came to be so quickly and so absolutely consigned to oblivion. Till 1813, the whole site of the Minster was buried under a vast accumulation of rubbish that reached nearly to the height of this wall; and its memory had altogether passed away. This must have been its condition from the time of its demolition; for very soon afterwards, Sir Anthony Browne planted along the former nave (or rather on the new level thus formed, seven feet above the former nave) a double avenue of yew trees, met at each end by two others that extended to the precinct wall. Round these he built a low wall (still entire in the last century), and they in their turn enclosed his flower garden, which was thus sheltered from the north by the precinct wall, and on every other side surrounded by a green-cloister walk-one of the cosy, formal, close-clipped pleasaunces ' of those days. In its centre, within a circle of yew trees, still remains the old stone fountain, now degraded into a cistern, but once supplied with a lofty jet of water by a conduit from Loose Farm.
But Sir Godfrey made sad havoc of this pleasaunce. The whole of one of the side avenues was cut down to make way for his new stables,(Note17) and more than four-fifths of another-the principal one-were sacrificed in clear ing an access to them from the garden front, and forming the woodyard. The ground on which the trees had stood had next to be removed, in order to make the level correspond with that on the garden on the other side of the wall, and thus it was the nave of the long-lost Minster was again brought to light. Only a small portion of it was uncovered, for curiosity seems to have gone no further; but the excavation was carried down to the depth of the original pavement. Many things were found (Note18) but none of them were cared for or preserved. The bank of earth surrounding the cleared space was supported by a stone wall, over which the bronze boughs of the surviving yews droop sadly down, and a pair of carriage-gates added on the garden side.
Abbot Odo's Grave
There is yet one stone grave in the church wall, which though rifled of its contents, has escaped destruction from being in a niche, and is conjectured by Mr. Walcott to have been the resting-place of the famous and learned Abbot Odo, who died in 1200, and was buried, says Leland, in the lower part of the nave, under a tomb of black Lydian marble. Little or nothing else remains; here and there we may trace the bases of the shafts ; but the stonework is so rugged and overgrown, that it looks like a bit of wild rock, hung with the long pruned sprays of the golden Banksia rose, that has climbed over from the garden. Beyond the pump, and almost parallel with the Abbey front, the remnant of a great wall, six feet thick, juts out at a right angle, and once formed the west-end of the Minster. One small pillar belonging to it is still in its place.
The site of the High Alter
When we came here in 1858, it was choked with reeds, and more than half full of water. No attempt had ever been made to drain it, and the cement flooring retained every drop of rain that fell, forming a pond, often two or three feet deep, throughout the winter months. Even in summer, the place was never thoroughly dry, and abundantly justified the description given of it by Lord Lytton : ' All forlorn and shattered, amidst stagnant water, stands the high altar stone of Battle Abbey: ' or the pathetic words of Sir Francis Palgrave : The " perpetual prayer" has ceased for ever-the roll of Battle is rent. The shields of the Norman lineages are trodden in the dust. The Abbey church is levelled to the ground-and a dank and reedy pool fills the spot where the foundations of the choir have been uncovered, merely for the gaze of the idle visitor, or the meditation of the moping antiquary.' Professor Lappenberg goes a step further, and believes that, with its Minster, all trace of the Abbey itself had perished All these visible monuments of the battle of Senlac and the conquest of England are no more ; crumbled and fallen are the once-lofty halls of Battle Abbey; and by a few foundation stones in the midst of a swamp are we alone able to determine the spot where it once reared its towers and pinnacles.'
One of our first cares was for this long-neglected crypt. There was some difficulty in disposing of the rain-water, but we found near at hand a brick well (made for the use of the former orchard), into which we were able to discharge it. The place was then weeded, carpeted with turf, planted with ferns and stone-crop, and made so trim and neat, that I have often been amused with the indignation expressed by later visitors at the gross inaccuracies and misrepresentations of their predecessors. Some carved work, found among the stones, was arranged with some corbels and gargoyles that had been brought from one of the vaults under the Refectory, where they lay heaped up in a dark corner. A few of these may be recognised in Grin m's view of the south front of the Abbey; one, at the side of the southern staircase, is a monster chained to a pillar, who has lost his head ; another is a beast showing two formidable rows of teeth ; opposite is a gaping gargoyle, and a pretty corbel head of a mm. The north staircase has two heads (one an excellent but terrible caricature of humanity) ; and further back, a stone shield, covered with quarterings ; with some frag ments of transomed windows (often mistaken for crosses) capitals of columns, &c. Unfortunately the weaving lichens are ever at work, busily closing up every crevice of the tracery.
The Abbey Church Dimensions
Two plans (as far as I know) have been drawn of this vanished church. The first, engraved by Vertue in his portrait of William the Conqueror, illustrating Rapine's ' History of England,' and published in 1734, must be considered as purely suppositious, for the site had then been levelled and planted for two hundred years, and no part of it was uncovered till seventy-three years afterwards. It shows a cruciform church with three eastern chapels ; but these chapels are not in the least like the actual ones ; and were probably suggested by the Abbey seals in the British Museum. The second, published in 1886 by the Rev. M. Walcott, has enjoyed the advantage of being made after the excavations of 1817, which disclosed the two ends of the church, and enabled us to determine its exact length. This singularly confirms the tradition of William's dream, for, taken from its south-west angle in the woodyard to the east or terminal chapel in the crypt, it is as nearly as possible 315 feet. The width of the church is obtained by comparing the existing fragments of south wall with the south chapel, to which it runs parallel, for though the north wall no longer exists, there can be no doubt that it similarly corresponded with the north chapel. Thus we find that the inner wall of this chapel projects about one foot beyond the line of the outer wall of the church, and as we know that this was six feet in thickness, the crypt must be seven feet wider than the church on either side, or four teen in all. This leaves 65 feet as the width of the latter. These measurements (verified from the last Ordnance Survey) do not, however, precisely tally with the subjoined dimensions given by Mr. Walcott, who makes the church 317 feet long and 62 feet wide :
Nor, as far as regards the respective length of the nave and choir, can his plan be reconciled with the existing localities. He makes the transept run parallel to the Refectory, along the east alley of the cloister, as I think iit obviously must have done ; and as the south-west angle that marks the end of the church nearly corres ponds (within two feet) with the west alley, or the present east front of the Abbey, it follows that the nave could not possibly have been more than two feet longer than the width of the Cloister Garth, which is (as we have seen) rather more than 114 feet. Thus the nave is at once reduced from 130 to 116 feet, and in order to give the requisite dimensions to the church, the choir would have to be proportionally elongated from 107 to 120 feet. To obviate this difficulty, this important south west angle (on which we solely depend in our calcula tions) is displaced in Mr. Walcott's plan, and thrown considerably further back.
The Abbot's Oratory
On its east side the Library Wing is joined by Mr. Glutton's modern edition, with its round bay surmounted by a pierced stone balcony ; but beyond this, standing a little further back, is the wall of the: Abbot's Parlour (now used as a morning room), with one of the original windows. Like those in the Abbot's Hall, its label rests on figures of musicians; but it has been greatly curtailed in length, in order to make room for two modern windows below. The east angle of this room is cut off by a flanking triangular projection, that most likely once communicated with it, and is known as the Abbot's Oratory. In former days it was entered from the further side (where the doorway remains) and closed on this, which had a three-light window, still entire in 1783, but since ruthlessly destroyed to make a passage through. This oratory-if oratory it was- retains its ancient pavement of broad flagstones and small squares of black Sussex marble, and bears on its outer angle a very fine gurgoyle-a jovial, pot-bellied creature with dragon's wings and distended jaws, one broad paw flapping his capacious chest, the other raised in the air. In Grimm's time a long tongue hung out of his mouth.
The Cloister Garth
From the wood-yard a gate opens into the flower garden, whence a view of the east front of the Abbey is obtained. One of the old gables may be seen at this end; and below it commences the range of nine bays, divided by slender columns (from whence the vaulting formerly sprung), that formed the inner side of the west cloister. The outer side was composed of open arches, the foundations of which have only been removed within the last fifty years. A similar cloister ran along the wall to the north: a third followed another wall that ran parallel to the Refectory on the east (conjectured to have belonged to the south transept of the Minster): while a fourth, crossing the present flower garden, where a few steps divide the upper from the lower level, completed the square to the south. The plot of ground thus enclosed was called the Cloister Garth, and measured about 114 feet from west to east, and not quite 100 feet from north to south. All that now remains of the four alleys is the internal 'treading of the one to the west, that runs along the front of the house.
There are nine of these bays altogether ; the first two (counting from the left) are the earliest, and by far the finest ; they have great roses of foliage (one much defaced) in the spandrils, and clusters of columns, with 'delicately-wrought capitals of leaves and flowers. Through the second bay, a modern door opens into a vestibule called the Beggar's Hall, and, small as it is, was at the beginning of this century the principal entrance to the Abbey, reached by a carriage road that entered the precinct wall opposite the parish church. These two bays are part of the work of Abbot Walter de Lucy, who rebuilt the cloisters before 1171; the remainder are of a different style, Perpendicular, and have suffered restoration,' in addition to the previous injury they received by being broken through to make windows. This inner side of the cloister was intended to be entirely closed, for the mouldings are wrought on the stones forming the wall. The eighth bay, higher and broader than the rest, has the modern addition of a sham door; the original entrance, however, was in the ninth, through what is now the window, but in Grimm's time remained a door. All the windows in this front were put in by Sir Godfrey.
The Holy Well
On the north side of the Cloister Garth stood the Holy Well, from which some writers have derived the name of Senlac, given to this place by Ordericus Vitalis. It is mentioned in Queen Elizabeth's time, as a place held sacred by recusants' :-whither many, especially women, resort, like a young pilgrimage, and call it Dr. Graye's well.' This Dr. Grey was a priest, who had been committed to prison by Sir Francis Walsingham, about a year before, and was then chaplain to the Dowager Viscountess Montague, a zealous Roman Catholic, at that time resident at the Abbey. I have heard,' con tinues the report, that there have been above a score together there at evening prayer time on a Sunday.' It was afterwards known as the Wishing Well, and was unfortunately destroyed in the course of Sir Godfrey Webster's alterations, in 1814. One of the workmen employed described it to me as a square opening five or six feet wide, enclosed by a massive stone wall nearly seven feet high; a flight of steps led up to it on either side, and at each angle was what he called a vase, or receptacle for flowers and votive offerings. The spring was conveyed to the other side of the church wall, and now furnishes the drinking water of the household; it is remarkably sweet and pure, and we appreciated it for its own sake long before we were made aware that it was the charmed water of the old Holy Well.
The room in the gable was, it is said, fitted up by Lord Montague as his private chapel, but it can never have been consecrated, as an ancient vaulted room is just underneath, and there is scarcely an exception-I believe there is a solitary one at Towneley-to the rigid Catholic rule that forbids the consecration of any place that has a habitation either above or below it. The wall above the rest of the cloister, from this gable southwards, is modern, and replaces a former lath and plaster one : the original stone work having been evidently destroyed at the Reformation. This part of the house is traditionally known as the Dormitory,(Note19) and has a vaulted substructure, now divided into offices.
Beyond the cloister, on the lower level, and a little further back, the house wall retains some fragments of a very beautiful arcading and cornice, that have been ruthlessly broken through in making the lower windows. This was once the internal wall of a great room that extended across the flower garden as far as the yew trees opposite the house, and was about 100 feet long and 40 feet wide. The jamb of one of its windows-show ing their magnificent dimensions-may still be seen jutting out near the further angle. In 1783 its walls remained two or three feet above ground, forming an oblong enclosure entered by a hand-gate. There is no tradition as to the use made of it by the monks. From its size and stateliness, it has been conjectured to be the Chapter House, and I myself incline to this opinion, although I am aware that, according to precedent, the latter would have to be sought for nearer the church. But the foundations of demolished walls in that direc tion leave no space for any room that even approaches in size to this, and the Chapter House-as the place where all the business of the Order was transacted, and several of its ceremonies were performed-must always have been one of the principal halls of a Benedictine house. Mr. Walcott is confident it was the Refectory, because he says it was the rules of the Benedictines to build their Refectory parallel to the church. But there were certainly exceptions to this rule, and another and still larger building opposite, to which we shall presently come, has always gone by that name.
King harold's chapel
A few paces further (from the Dormitory) bring us to Harold's Chapel, a crypt lying under the east end of the Abbey Church, which was first excavated in 1817. The history of its discovery is curious enough. There had always been a tradition, handed down from father to son, as to the place where Harold had been killed and the high altar had stood : and this continued to be regularly pointed out on the wide expanse of turf under which All vestiges of the ruin lay buried. At that time, nothing whatever was known as to the site of the Minster: Horace Walpole and Grose both mistook the Refectory for it; and Gough, who came here in 1789, insisted that it stood north and south.(Note20) Had the waves of the sea closed over it, it could scarcely have been buried in deeper oblivion. Yet the old legendary recollection of the site of the high altar, where the King had fallen, had, as I have said, been faithfully preserved, and the very place always shown in what was then, I am told, the Abbey orchard. At length, Sir Godfrey, who, as we have seen, had not long before accidentally stumbled upon the church nave, resolved to test the truth of this tradition, and had the ground dug up and cleared way. Never was exploration better rewarded. At the exact spot so carefully treasured up in the memory of the townspeople, he came upon the ruins of the high altar, standing in the centre of three converging chapels, clustered together like the leaves of a trefoil. Each forms a distinct pentagon; the centre one looking east, the others north and south; to the west is a massive wall that was once the end of the choir, and on either side winding steps that led to the church above. The two side chapels have no altar; that to the north has a round basin with a drain ; that to the south a trefoil-headed niche ; in both the caps from which the vaulting sprang may be seen; and their mouldings, and some foliage, when first discovered, were as perfect as when they were wrought. At that time, enough was left of the ribs to show that they were a low-pointed arch, formed of two segments of a circle;' and the north chapel retained the sill of its three-light window. Of this, the angle of one jamb only is discernable. Two large stone mounds (the smaller ones are merely groups of the stones found scattered about) mark the places of the broad pillars that carried the vaulting. The high altar is little, if at all, damaged ; and is surrounded by the original stone pavement ; the rest of the floor was tiled, and probably on a lower level. A good many of the tiles were recovered, but the pattern upon them was obliterated. The entire crypt measures 44 feet in length, by 79 feet in breadth.
Ancient names of the Abbey
The new foundation was dedicated to the patron saint of soldiers, and named the Abbey of St. Martin of the Place of Battle.' It is called in Domesday Labatailge ; and as La Battaile it was own throughout the Middle Ages. The Conqueror presented to the church his sword, his coronation robe, hung with more than 300 amulets of gold and silver enclosing relics of the saints, and a jewelled feretory in the shape of an altar, also containing relics, on which he had been accustomed to have Mass celebrated during his expedition. This is supposed to have been the same altar, represented in the Bayeux Tapestry, on which Harold had sworn to be his liegeman. But some of these valuables were lost, or 'despoiled by unfortunate mischances;' and the rest sold by the monks, who invested the proceeds in land. The relics they had enshrined were transferred to a reliquary of choice workmanship,' that was solemnly consecrated by the bishop of Chichester. Nothing further is known of them, but the royal robe, stripped of its ornaments, was preserved in the Abbey, and, with the Conqueror's sword, carried away to Cowdray by the sixth Viscount Montague, when he sold the place in 1719. Both perished when Cowdray was burnt to the ground in 1793, and, according to family tradition, the same fate befell the famous Battle Abbey Roll. This was a bede roll of William's principal followers, probably made in obedience to a clause in the foundation charter, enjoin ing that perpetual prayer should be made for the souls of those who had fought in the battle, and by their labour and valour' helped to win the kingdom. It was, as is believed, put up in the church, where the names might thus be solemnly read out, if on no other occasion, at least on the feast of St. Gelid, the anni versary of the victory. When it afterwards became a great object of ambition to own an ancestor on this celebrated roll, the monks were found willing to inter polate the names of liberal patrons, and it thus lost all possible value as an authority.
Close to the south chapel, a grass-grown mound, 28 feet in diameter, marks the site of the bell tower, pulled down at the same time as the church ; and, beyond, a belt of turf extends to a walk shaded by a row of fine limes, that appear in the Court Manor map of 1724. It was here, a little north of this walk,' that, according to Mr. Vidler, the foundation of a long building was discovered in 1817 ; in the centre of which was a small mass of ruins about the size of a tomb, perhaps that of Abbot Henry, who died in 1102, and was buried in the Chapter-house, of which this foundation was the only trace, and that is now removed.' All the ground was trenched and examined two years ago, in search of Abbot Henry's tomb, but it was never found. The foundations of the `long building' remain about one foot under the soil ; two very thick parallel walls run ning east and west, of which one extended to the precinct wall (as shown in the plan) ; these were joined by partitions forming two rooms of nearly equal size, each about 70 feet by 35 : and communicated at the end nearest the church with some winding stairs.
Westward of this was another massive wall (from its buttresses evidently an external one) running north, and beyond this lay the cemetery, which we had acci dentally stumbled upon several years previously, when trying to alter the direction of the gravel-walk. We had hastily to abandon the attempt, for the men's spades broke into graves, and turned up human bones. From its position, the cemetery can only have been of very limited extent. All this part of the grounds, as far as the precinct wall, was the Abbey orchard till Sir Godfrey's time, and three old pear trees still survive in one sunny corner. All the cedars were planted by him; the three largest ones on the occasion of the birth of his eldest son, in 1815 (one for the father, one for the mother, and one for the infant heir); the other trees are much younger, but are rapidly overtaking their seniors.
The Ice House
Underneath the lime-trees, a sort of hut, entered by a low door between the posts that support its conical thatched roof, covers what Mr. Vidler believes to have been a monastic dungeon. Sir Godfrey converted it into an ice-house, and as such it continues in use, rendering all exploration impossible. Mr. Vidler describes it as a square pit or subterranean cell, and yet speaks of its window, for he says, The windowsill is level with the ground; some projections in the wall supported the ribs of the vaulting; and on the same side as the entrance, some steps of which still remain, is the door way to a small closet.' It was evidently not originally subterranean, and I see no reason for assuming it to have been a place of punishment.
The Refectory only now remains to be seen. This building, the largest belonging to the old Abbey that has come down to our time, was never intended to be a disconnected one, and only stands isolated now because its surroundings have been pulled down. On the west side, part of the continuation of the wall remains above ground; and there, too, the bases of a group of clustered columns mark where it joined the south-east angle of the cloisters; on the other it was met by at least three other buildings, of which some fragments of walls are still left, while at its north end is the supposed site of the transept of the Minster. This end is artificially banked up with earth, the slope by which we enter having been made to enable the horses to pass in and out when it was converted into a stable about sixty years ago. Before that time it had been used as a barn, but the roof was gradually dropping to pieces, and when Grimm made his drawing (now in the British Museum), in 1783, in many places open to the sky, with trailing curtains of ivy straying in through the rents.(Note23) It was a handsome open timber roof, covered with what are called shingles (formerly very usual in this thickly- wooded county)-pieces of oak overlapping each flier like tiles, and said to be quite as durable. Till only a few years ago, fart of the parish church retained a similar roof, and the Abbot's Hall was also once covered with shingles. This great hall-for it is too wide to be called a gallery-measures 150 feet (Note24) in length, and 35 feet in breadth ; and is lighted by a double range of Early English windows, ten on one side, and eight on the other; tall, graceful lancets crossed by transoms, and enriched with slender pillars and mouldings of Caen stone. At the south end there are six more, two below and three above them, with a small one forming the apex in the extreme point of the gable ; to the right, within a square-headed recess, is another window, look ing west, that is different in design, and probably in date. It is quite uninjured and extremely ornamental, framing in its little glimpse of the outer world very picturesquely. Many of the lancet windows have been wantonly damaged while the place remained a stable or granary ; some have been closed with rough stonework, and others have lost half their nook-shafts ; the beautiful little columns being mercilessly cut in two. The principal entrance is said to have been at the open end, by which we now come in, where the wall was destroyed by the fall of the roof; but Grimm's drawing, made while it was still standing, shows nothing but a rough square wooden door. Five others there certainly were- four in the east, and one in the west, wall; and of these only the first on the east side is closed, but it can be clearly made out on the outer face of the wall. It is in the angle of the building, leading to another room which was evidently on a lower level, and whose exter nal wall runs under the roots of the lime-trees, parallel to the walk. The next door opens on a newel stair, enclosed in a square buttress tower, that leads down to a narrow postern, close to the windows of the upper crypt; formerly it ascended to the battlements, but the upper part has disappeared. The two other entrances on this side are at the gable end, and led to some room now altogether destroyed ; they are of different heights, and the smaller one is reached through a niche in the wall, lighted by an arrow loop. These parallel doors, side by side, would naturally lead one to suppose that they must have communicated with two different rooms, but from the traces of groining remaining on the outer wall, there can be no question that this was not the case. The single door in the west wall has a beautiful pointed arch, and is richly decorated on the external side ; one of the capitals of its shaft pillars is still tolerably perfect, but the pillars themselves are wanting. It evidently communicated with a staircase that led down to the door of the upper crypt, almost immediately below it : but hardly a vestige of this is left, and it was probably pulled down to make room for the cart road, that only a few years ago passed along this side of the building. Next to this door is an aumbry, or cupboard.
The Refectory was warmed by several diminutive fire-places, two of which remain in the east wall. Part of the flooring was still perfect in 1811, and I have been shown one of the tiles ; it seemed very well made, and was four-and-half inches square, and three-quarters thick ; sixteen of these formed the pattern, which was relieved in dull yellow upon a chocolate ground. There are yet some traces-yearly, I am sorry to say, dimin ishing-of the original plaster on the walls, and the red lines, in imitation of masonry, that were painted upon it.
At one time or other (certainly not earlier than this century, for it does not appear in Grimm's view), a brick partition had been put up across the centre of this hall, which was taken down by the old mason (already mentioned), who first told me of it. Three projecting stones in the wall have been suggested to indicate an ancient partition, but the interval between the windows is so regular, and the proportions so harmonious, even injured as they now are by the loss of the lofty timber roof, that I cannot believe in the possibility of any intended division.
Various names have been assigned to this building. Horace Walpolo believed it to be the church ; Browne Willis, and Pennant, call it the hall ; Gough, through some strange confusion, speaks of it both as the great Abbey hall' and the Dormitory. There is no tradition to guide us in choosing between them, as it seems always to have been known in the neighbourhood as the Great Barn, and there is little doubt that it was spared at the time of the Dissolution because it could so easily be made useful as one of the buildings necessary to a farmer' that were specially exempted from destruction. But the name first given to it by Browne Willis appears to have been generally accepted and adopted, and is used by Grose in his Antiquities,' and in several other old works. From the hall,' or dining-room of the monks, to the Refectory,' the transition is natural enough, though I am not aware who first bestowed upon it the more high-sounding appellative. It has probably borne it for at least 100 years ; Grimm calls it the Refectory,' in 1783, and all subsequent visitors who have written accounts of the Abbey (including Bishop Lyttelton and three Antiquarian Societies), have endorsed the name. It had certainly more than earned the right accorded by English law to sixty years of undisputed possession, when the Reverend Mr. Walcott came here in 1866, bringing with him the ground plans of Cluny and Marmoutier, and on comparing them with the remains of the Abbey, unhesitatingly pronounced our Refectory to be a Dormitory. I do not think that he has proved his case, but it may be that old habit and association, more than anything else. wake me cling to the familiar name by which I have always known it, and it must be remembered that confidence is a plant of slow growth in an aged bosom.'
The Crypts under the Refectory may be entered from either side. To the west, a gravel walk, divided by flights of steps, runs parallel to the wall, replacing the rough cart road that, when we first came, climbed up the hill to the gate of the wood-yard. This we will now pursue, entering by a doorway, which opens on a slype or passage that traverses the building, and communi cates on one side with the upper, on the other with the middle, crypt. We will first turn through the door to the left, and enter the former, the first of the three rooms that form the substructure of the Refectory, and which, though now called crypts, were not originally below ground. From their being built on the side of a steep hill, they differ materially in height, and this, being placed on the highest level, is, in consequence, the lowest of the three. It measures 56 feet in length by nearly 34 feet in width, and is divided by a double row of pillars that support the beautiful Early English vault ing. This is perfectly simple, low rather than high, spreading out like the stone pines that are thought to have first suggested its graceful curves, and exquisitely harmonious in combination, from whatever point of view it is seen. All these pillars are of Purbeck marble, and so were the nook-shafts of the windows, for fragments of the latter, and several carefully-carved capitals have been found. There are six windows, one looking west, and five looking east; the fifth narrower than the rest, to make room for the external wall that runs parallel to thy, lime-tree walk, and here meets the building at a 'right angle. The exit was by a door and some steps in the west wall, from whence there was a communica tion with the Cloister Garth, and a stair leading to the door of the Refectory, above. There was no fire-place.
At the north end, opposite the centre aisle, and in the direction of the Minster, a large cross of white stone is inserted in the wall, and the stone seat that formerly surrounded the room, and still remains perfect on that side, is there discontinued. This cross is of rather un usual form, the arms being slightly raised, and probably either supported a crucifix, or was intended as some kind of memorial.
This room (christened the Day Room, by Mr. Walcott) has been used both as a stable and an ice house, and I found all the windows, as well as the outer door, partly closed with rough masonry, and the bases of the columns buried beneath a layer of stiff clay at least a foot thick. It is, I think, evident that the floor ing (which, from one polished fragment that remains, I judge to have been of marble) was purposely removed, and when the clay was taken away, it became clear that the vaulting had, at some time or other, received grievous injury, for no less than five of the eight columns had been thrown down, and roughly set up again on unfashioned stone supports. This may have happened either when the roof of the Refectory fell in, or from the subsequent action of the weather upon the unprotected stonework.
The next room, entered by a corresponding door on the right side of the slype, is much smaller, for though the width is of course the same, it is little more than 224 feet long. On the other hand, it is loftier, and has a more cheerful aspect, for both its windows look to the setting sun. Two of the same graceful marble pillars support a similar vaulting, and one of these retains its capital almost uninjured ; the corbels on the walls and in the angles are also in tolerable preservation, and far more elaborately carved than in the upper room. One was the head of a woman, whose orisped wavy hair, parted on the forehead, might have been smoothed back behind her ears not later than yesterday, so fresh and sharp are the lines, but the face itself has been knocked off. Here, as in the former room, the fire-place is again wanting.(Note25) There are three doors, one opening on the outer air-the one by which we came in-and another opposite (that we found half closed with masonry), leading by a stair in the thickness of the wall to the lower room beyond. This stair, however, terminates abruptly a few feet above the ground, and as there is no trace of any other connecting steps, we must con clude that the gap was once supplied with wooden ones. The last room can, therefore, only be reached from the exterior, and we must pass out from hence to enter it by another door on a lower level.
It is, by far, the finest of the three, for here the architect was not cramped as to height, but could frame his proportions on a loftier and grander scale. The room is 57 feet 6 inches long, nearly 34 feet wide, and 23 feet high, divided by three pillars of majestic dimensions, but now, alas ! much splintered and shattered and roughly cobbled with cement, and surrounded by eight slender columns, of which only one is missing. On the south side are two tall and graceful lancets, with a wide fire-place between them, lined with tiles laid flat upon each other, in the fashion common to all ancient buildings in this county; to the east two similar windows crossed by transoms, with two broader and lower ones, while to the west the sun streams in through four more, each different from the other. The most beautiful of these, divided by a mullion with a quatrefoil at the head, belongs to a later date, and must have been an addition. With this one exception, there is no departure from the simplicity of the pure Early English style, no attempt at ornament or interference; Am shaping or involving of the plain lines that so happily convey the idea of the original type.
Some traces of the original vermilion stencilling lingered till quite lately on the plaster of the vaulting, and the pattern is preserved in Grimm's drawing.
In one corner, close to the inaccessible door of the middle crypt, there is an aumbry, and in the opposite, or south-east angle, a door opening on a flight of stairs in a buttress, lighted by an arrow-loop, that led to some room, now destroyed, on that side. Two other doors lead into the open air. The one by which we entered is, to speak correctly, nothing but a hole in the wall, made at the time when the place was used for stables or loose boxes, and the old entrance, being found inconveniently narrow, was pulled down. The lower part of its jambs remain, but from the accumulation of the soil outside, the sill now forms the last of some stone step by which we descend into the room. The west door was still more buried, for it could only be approached, like a cellar, by a steep external stair, and we had to remove eight feet of earth before reaching the original level. This great room Rouse mistook for the kitchen ; though we are expressly informed that the kitchen had five large fireplaces, and was razed to the ground by Francis, Lord Montague, in the autumn of 1685. Browne Willis believed it to be the Scriptorium, or library; Mr. Walcott named it the Calefactory, or the place where the monks warmed themselves, dried their parchments, and obtained fire for their censers. Both suggestions are, of course, more guess-work.
Nothing further remains to be seen except the en trance hall of the Abbey, commonly known as the Abbot's Hall. But this can only be shown during the absence of the family, as it affords the sole means of communication between the different sittingrooms, and in summer is occasionally used as a dining-room. For those who visit the place during the seven or eight months of the year that it is generally visible, the following description of it is here given.