Vanishing England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 374 pages of information about Vanishing England.

[Illustration:  Inscription in the Mermaid Inn, Rye]



I have said in another place that no country in the world can boast of possessing rural homes and villages which have half the charm and picturesqueness of our English cottages and hamlets.[10] They have to be known in order that they may be loved.  The hasty visitor may pass them by and miss half their attractiveness.  They have to be wooed in varying moods in order that they may display their charms—­when the blossoms are bright in the village orchards, when the sun shines on the streams and pools and gleams on the glories of old thatch, when autumn has tinged the trees with golden tints, or when the hoar frost makes their bare branches beautiful again with new and glistening foliage.  Not even in their summer garb do they look more beautiful.  There is a sense of stability and a wondrous variety caused by the different nature of the materials used, the peculiar stone indigenous in various districts and the individuality stamped upon them by traditional modes of building.

  [10] The Charm of the English Village (Batsford).

We have still a large number of examples of the humbler kind of ancient domestic architecture, but every year sees the destruction of several of these old buildings, which a little care and judicious restoration might have saved.  Ruskin’s words should be writ in bold, big letters at the head of the by-laws of every district council.

“Watch an old building with anxious care; guard it as best you may, and at any cost, from any influence of dilapidation.  Count its stones as you would the jewels of a crown.  Set watchers about it, as if at the gate of a besieged city; bind it together with iron when it loosens; stay it with timber when it declines.  Do not care about the unsightliness of the aid—­better a crutch than a lost limb; and do this tenderly and reverently and continually, and many a generation will still be born and pass away beneath its shadow.”

[Illustration:  Relic of Lynn Siege in Hampton Court, King’s Lynn]

[Illustration:  Hampton Court, King’s Lynn, Norfolk]

If this sound advice had been universally taken many a beautiful old cottage would have been spared to us, and our eyes would not be offended by the wondrous creations of the estate agents and local builders, who have no other ambition but to build cheaply.  The contrast between the new and the old is indeed deplorable.  The old cottage is a thing of beauty.  Its odd, irregular form and various harmonious colouring, the effects of weather, time, and accident, environed with smiling verdure and sweet old-fashioned garden flowers, its thatched roof, high gabled front, inviting porch overgrown with creepers, and casement windows, all combine to form a fair and beautiful home.  And then look at the modern cottage with its glaring

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Vanishing England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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