Vanishing England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about Vanishing England.
relationship with their surroundings, the modulation from man’s handiwork to God’s enveloping world that lies in the quiet gardening that binds one to the other without discord or dissonance—­all these things are wonderfully attractive to those who have eyes to see and hearts to understand.  The English cottages have an importance in the story of the development of architecture far greater than that which concerns their mere beauty and picturesqueness.  As we follow the history of Gothic art we find that for the most part the instinctive art in relation to church architecture came to an end in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, but the right impulse did not cease.  House-building went on, though there was no church-building, and we admire greatly some of those grand mansions which were reared in the time of Elizabeth and the early Stuarts; but art was declining, a crumbling taste causing disintegration of the sense of real beauty and refinement of detail.  A creeping paralysis set in later, and the end came swiftly when the dark days of the eighteenth century blotted out even the memory of a great past.  And yet during all this time the people, the poor and middle classes, the yeomen and farmers, were ever building, building, quietly and simply, untroubled by any thoughts of style, of Gothic art or Renaissance; hence the cottages and dwellings of the humblest type maintained in all their integrity the real principles that made medieval architecture great.  Frank, simple, and direct, built for use and not for the establishment of architectural theories, they have transmitted their messages to the ages and have preserved their beauties for the admiration of mankind and as models for all time.

[Illustration:  Wilney Street Burford]

CHAPTER V

OLD CASTLES

Castles have played a prominent part in the making of England.  Many towns owe their existence to the protecting guard of an old fortress.  They grew up beneath its sheltering walls like children holding the gown of their good mother, though the castle often proved but a harsh and cruel stepmother, and exacted heavy tribute in return for partial security from pillage and rapine.  Thus Newcastle-upon-Tyne arose about the early fortress erected in 1080 by Robert Curthose to guard the passage of the river at the Pons Aelii.  The poor little Saxon village of Monkchester was then its neighbour.  But the castle occupying a fine strategic position soon attracted townsfolk, who built their houses ’neath its shadow.  The town of Richmond owes its existence to the lordly castle which Alain Rufus, a cousin of the Duke of Brittany, erected on land granted to him by the Conqueror.  An old rhyme tells how he

        Came out of Brittany
        With his wife Tiffany,
        And his maid Manfras,
        And his dog Hardigras.

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Vanishing England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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