Vanishing England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about Vanishing England.
adjoining rooms, now used as the County Hall, and there you will see as fine a collection of plate and as choice an array of royal portraits as ever fell to the lot of a provincial county town.  One of these is a Gainsborough.  One of the reasons why Abingdon has such a good store of silver plate is that according to their charter the Corporation has to pay a small sum yearly to their High Stewards, and these gentlemen—­the Bowyers of Radley and the Earls of Abingdon—­have been accustomed to restore their fees to the town in the shape of a gift of plate.

We might proceed to examine many other of these interesting buildings, but a volume would be needed for the purpose of recording them all.  Too many of the ancient ones have disappeared and their places taken by modern, unsightly, though more convenient buildings.  We may mention the salvage of the old market-house at Winster, in Derbyshire, which has been rescued by that admirable National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, which descends like an angel of mercy on many a threatened and abandoned building and preserves it for future generations.  The Winster market-house is of great age; the lower part is doubtless as old as the thirteenth century, and the upper part was added in the seventeenth.  Winster was at one time an important place; its markets were famous, and this building must for very many years have been the centre of the commercial life of a large district.  But as the market has diminished in importance, the old market-house has fallen out of repair, and its condition has caused anxiety to antiquaries for some time past.  Local help has been forthcoming under the auspices of the National Trust, in which it is now vested for future preservation.

[Illustration:  The Market House, Wymondham, Norfolk]

Though not a town hall, we may here record the saving of a very interesting old building, the Palace Gatehouse at Maidstone, the entire demolition of which was proposed.  It is part of the old residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, near the Perpendicular church of All Saints, on the banks of the Medway, whose house at Maidstone added dignity to the town and helped to make it the important place it was.  The Palace was originally the residence of the Rector of Maidstone, but was given up in the thirteenth century to the Archbishop.  The oldest part of the existing building is at the north end, where some fifteenth-century windows remain.  Some of the rooms have good old panelling and open stone fire-places of the fifteenth-century date.  But decay has fallen on the old building.  Ivy is allowed to grow over it unchecked, its main stems clinging to the walls and disturbing the stones.  Wet has begun to soak into the walls through the decayed stone sills.  Happily the gatehouse has been saved, and we doubt not that the enlightened Town Council will do its best to preserve this interesting building from further decay.

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Vanishing England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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