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Wanderings in Wessex ebook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about Wanderings in Wessex.

  AS THOU DOST LYVE, O READER DERE,
  SO DYD I ONCE WHICH NOW LYE HEARE;
  AND AS I AM SO SHALT THOU BE
  FOR ALL IS FRAYLE AS THOU MAYST SEE.

Alvedeston, the last village actually in the valley, lies under a spur of Middle Down from which there is a magnificent view of the “far flung field of gold and purple—­regal England.”  Alvedeston church is an old cruciform building containing the tomb of a knight in full armour.  This is one of the Gawen family.  The Gawens were for many years lords of Norrington, a beautiful old house near by.  Aubrey suggests that they were descended from that Gawain of the Round Table who fought Lancelot and was killed.  The last village, Berwick St. John, is high upon the hills and close to Winklebury Camp.  Its Early English church, as is usual in this district, has transepts.  The Perpendicular tower, though rather squat, is of fine design and the interior has several interesting monuments and effigies, including effigies of Sir John Hussey and Sir Robert Lucie clad in mail.  A pleasant custom obtains here of ringing a bell every night during the winter to guide home the wanderer upon the lonely hills.  This was provided for in the will of a former rector—­John Gane (1735).  From Berwick the hill walk to Salisbury, spoken of in the earlier part of this chapter, should be taken.

[Illustration:  DOWNTON CROSS.]

Another valley worth exploring is that of the Bourne, north-east of Salisbury, down which the main railway line from London passes for its last few miles before reaching the city.  The Bourne is crossed by the London road nearly two miles from the centre of the town.  About half a mile up stream is the ford where the old way crossed the river to Sarum.  The London road rises to the right and traverses the lonely chalk uplands to the Winterslow Hut, lately known as the “Pheasant,” a reversion to its old name.  Here lodged Hazlitt, essayist and recluse, for a period of nine years, and here several of his best known dissertations were penned, including the appropriate “On Living to One’s Self.”  Charles Lamb, accompanied by his sister, visited him here.  We, however, do not propose to travel by the great London highway, but to turn to the left just across St. Thomas’ Bridge, and soon after passing the railway we cross the old Roman road where it appears as a narrow track making direct for the truncated cone of Old Sarum away to the west across the valley.  Figsbury Rings is the name of the camp-crowned summit to the east of our road.  The first three villages are all “Winterbournes “—­Earls, Dauntsey and Gunner.  The first two have rebuilt churches, but the third—­Gunner—­has a Transitional building of some interest.  The name is a corruption of Gunnora, spouse of one of the Delameres who were lords hereabouts in the early thirteenth century.  Farther on, Porton will not detain us very long, but Idmiston has a church that is a fine example of the style so well called Decorated. 

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