Page images
PDF
EPUB

the dank, green-skimmed, fetid moat, which still surrounds the castle. So that the precautions which our ancestors took, to keep out an occasional foe placed them in the presence of a more deadly and insidious one at all times. The drawbridge has been supplanted by a permanent roadway, and the ivy luxuriates over the broad-shouldered archway; but in other respects the southern or principal front appears much in

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

the same state as it must have been in when Harry was accustomed to pass beneath its portcullis. Since its original construction in Edward the Third's time, some few gradual changes in its exterior, tending to transform it from a fortress to a domestic residence, may be traced by an observant visitor. The insertion of windows generally throughout the exterior — especially square-headed ones, identifying extensive changes with the Tudor times, and the panelled buttresses at the south front, are all evidences of this tendency. Passing through the gateway we enter a small low quadrangular court, at no time very ornamental, but less so at present from the coatings of whitewash which have hidden the chequered markings of the timber work. The surrounding apartments are lighted by square-headed and mullioned windows. Opposite

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

to the entrance is a passage which takes us into the ancient hall, now used as a kitchen, but remarkable for nothing but its rude construction. The old kitchen offices were close to the hall, very dark, dirty and gloomy, little resembling the cuisine of a modern nobleman, with its apt and delicate knick-knackeries. We are led up a rude staircase into several small and low rooms, still preserving their oak panelling, and

uneven and imperfectly joined oak floors—suggestive of draughts and colds at every crevice, even when littered daily with straw, as the chambers of royalty were accustomed to be. The chamber assigned traditionally to Anne Boleyn, contains an ancient bedstead with yellow silk furniture, and remains almost untouched, and hence apparently unused. But Anne of Cleves' bed-room has been papered with a blue

[graphic][merged small]

narrow

At the upper

modern paper, and is now inhabited. Mounting up a rude staircase we enter the long gallery extending along the upper part of the north side of the castle, formerly used for general assemblages and meetings of revelry. The sides are lined with oak panels. The garret-like ceiling is very low, almost within arm's reach, and exhibits the bare rafters which support the roof. end is a raised recess, in which Harry whispered his soft small-talk to his lady-love. This gallery, excepting the filling up of one of its windows, remains entirely in its original state. As a climax, you are conducted to another room across the court-yard on the south side, which has been restored in late times; but its restorations make it far less real than the long gallery we have just spoken of. There are ample subjects for the sketcher's portfolio to be met with throughout this castle and its adjacent parts, not forgetting the old stabling we pass on approaching it.

That Hever Castle was the residence of Anne Boleyn, several times during her eventful life, cannot be questioned. Whether it can claim to be her birthplace, as some say, admits of much doubt, for both Rochford Hall, in Essex, and Blickling Hall, in Norfolk, assert similar claims. The latter place, indeed, on the authority of Spelman, a Norfolk man, was once the seat of the Boleyns, from whence sprung Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire, and Anne Boleyn, the mother of the divine Queen Elizabeth. To Blickling was decreed the honour of Anne Boleyn's birth.”

After the death, of her mother, which took place in 1512, Anne resided at Hever with a French governess named Simonette, who taught her music and needle-work. “ Besides all the usual branches of virtuous instruction, they gave her teachers in playing on musical instruments, singing and dancing, insomuch that when she composed her hands to play and her voice to sing, it was joined with that sweetness of countenance, that three harmonies concurred; likewise when she danced, her rare proportions varied themselves into all the graces that belong either to rest or motion.' When Anne returned to England from France, whither she had gone in the suite of Mary, the King's youngest sister, who had been forced to marry Louis XII., she took up her residence at Hever, and it is related that her first meeting with the King after her return, was in the garden surrounding the castle. To what good account she turned this early education, in after times, a contemporary biographer shall tell : “She possessed a great talent for poetry, and when she sung, like a second Orpheus, she would have made bears and wolves attentive. She likewise danced the English dances, leaping and jumping with infinite grace and agility. Moreover, she invented many new figures and steps, which are yet known by her name or by those of the gallant partners with whom she danced. She was well skilled in all games fashionable at courts. Besides singing like a syren, accompanying herself on the lute, she harped better than King David, and handled cleverly both flute and rebec (a small violin). She dressed with marvellous taste, and devised new modes, which were followed by the fairest ladies of the French court, but none wore them with her gracefulness, in which she rivalled Venus.” (Count Chateaubriand's MS.) Henry told Wolsey “he had been discoursing with a young lady who had the wit of an angel, and was worthy of a crown. Wolsey answered, “it is sufficient if your majesty finds her worthy of your love.” Henry replied, “that he feared she would never condescend in that way. “ Great princes,” rejoined Wolsey, “if they choose to play the lover, have that in their power which would mollify a heart of steel.” Two sketches of her portrait, drawn by opposite partisans of her cause, will not be inappropriate to a visit to this spot, Anne's chief residence. Saunders, who was not likely to be overflattering, describes her as “tall, slender, with an oval face, black hair, and a complexion inclining to sallow; one of her upper teeth projected a little. She appeared, at times, to suffer from asthma. On her left hand a sixth finger might be perceived. On her throat there was a protuberance, which Chateaubriand describes as a disagreeable large mole, resembling a strawberry; this she carefully covered with an ornamental collar-band, a fashion which was blindly imitated by the rest of the maids of honour, though they had never before thought of wearing anything of the kind. Her face and figure were, in other respects, symmetrical: beauty and sprightliness sat on her lips; in readiness of repartee, skill in the dance, and in playing on the lute, she was unsurpassed. The next sketch is from the life of Anne supposed to have been written by George Wyatt, the sixth son of Sir Thomas Wyatt, executed for rebellion in Mary's reign, who died at Bexley, in Kent, in the year 1624. “In this noble imp, the graces of Nature, adorned by gracious education, seemed, even at the first, to have promised bliss unto her in after times. She was taken at that time to have a beauty, not so whitely as clear and fresh above all we may esteem, which appeared much more excellent by her favour passing sweet and cheerful, and was enhanced by her noble presence of shape and fashion, representing both mildness and majesty, more than can be expressed. There was found, indeed, upon the side of her nail, upon one of her fingers, some little show of a nail, which yet was so small, by the report of those that have seen her, as the workmaster seemed to leave it an occasion of greater grace to her hand, which, with the tip of one of her other fingers, might be, and was usually by her, hidden without the least blemish to it. Likewise, there were said to be upon some parts of her body certain small moles, incident to the clearest complexions.

After the breaking of Anne's engagement with Percy, she dwelt at Hever, and was visited by the King there, and also, it is said, by her

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

old playmate, Sir Thomas Wyatt, who, as possessor of Arlington Castle on the banks of the Medway near Maidstone, was her father's neighbour, distant little more than a morning's ride. But the poetical knight was a married man, and could only address woeful ballads to his early mistress :

What word is that, that changeth not,
Though it be turn'd and made in twain ?
It is mine ANNA, God it wot,
The only causer of my pain,
My love that meeteth with disdain.

Yet is it loved : what will you more?
It is my salve, and eke my sore.

Were there space at command, we would also quote his “Description of such a one as he would love." This, and his other songs and sonnets, the reader may find collected in one of the Aldine volumes.

George Wyatt gives us a scene of rivalry between his relation, Sir Thomas, and the King, about the Lady Anne :-“ About this time, it is said, that the knight, entertaining talk with her as she was earnest at work, in sporting-wise caught from her a certain small jewel hanging by a lace out of her pocket, or otherwise loose, which he thrust into his bosom: neither with any earnest request could she obtain it of him again. He kept it, therefore, and wore it after about his neck, under his cassock, promising to himself either to have it with her favour, or as an occasion to have talk with her, wherein he had singular delight, and she after seemed not to make much reckoning of it, either the thing not being much worth, or not worth much striving for. The noble prince, having a watchful eye upon the knight, noted him more to hover about the lady and she the more to keep aloof of him, was whetted the more to discover to her his affection, so as rather he liked first to try of what temper the regard of her honour was, which he finding not any way to be tainted with those things his kingly majesty and means could bring to the battery, he, in the end, fell to win her by treaty of marriage, and in this talk took from her a ring, and that wore upon his little finger; and yet all this with such secrecy was carried on, and on her part so wisely, as none, or very few, esteemed this other than an ordinary course of dalliance. Within few days after, it happened, that the King, sporting himself at bowls, had in his company (as it falls out) divers noblemen and other courtiers of account, amongst whom might be the Duke of Suffolk, Sir F. Brian, and Sir T. Wyatt, himself being more than ordinarily pleasantly disposed, and in his game taking an occasion to affirm a cast to be his that plainly appeared to be otherwise, those on the other side said, with his grace's leave, they thought not; and yet still he pointing with his finger whereon he wore her ring, replied often it was his, and specially to the knight he said, Wyatt, I tell thee it is mine, smiling upon him withal. Sir Thomas at the length, casting his eye upon the King's finger, perceived that the King meant the lady whose ring that was, which he well knew, and pausing a little, and finding the King bent to pleasure, after the words repeated again to the King, the knight replied, and if it may like your Majesty to give me leave to measure it, I hope it will be mine; and withal took from his neck the lace whereat hung the tablet, and therewith stooped to measure the cast, which the King espying, knew, and had seen her wear, and therewithal spurned away the bowl, and said, It may be so, but then am I deceived; and so broke up

the

game. This thing thus carried, was not perceived for all this of many, but of some few it was. For the King, resorting to his chamber, showing some discontentment in his countenance, found means to break this matter to the lady, who, with good and evident proof how the knight came by the jewel, satisfied the King so effectually, that this more confirmed the King's opinion of her truth than himself at the first would have expected."

During the “sweating sickness” Anne was sent for security to Hever, a place likely enough to encourage the epidemic. “As touching your abode at Hever," writes Henry, “ you know what aire doth best suit you; but I would it were come to that, thereto if it please God, that neither of us need care for that, for I assure you I think it long.' The love-letters which Henry addressed to her at Hever are the last positive evidences we find of Anne's connexion with the spot, and with a short extract from one of them we take our leave of Hever: “In order to remind

you

of my affection, and because I cannot be in your presence, I send you the thing which comes nearest that is possible, that is to say, my picture, and the whole device, which you already know of, set in bracelets, wishing myself in their place when it pleases you."

Near to the castle on the north-west is an old farm house, called “Polebrooks,” which is worth walking to see for its picturesqueness. If the promised accommodation at the “Royal Harry at Hever was not sufficiently tempting, then the tourist may take a pretty green lane walk about two miles further on to Edenbridge, where he will meet with treatment a few degrees more civilized; within a mile of this village the railway has a station.

[graphic][merged small]

LONDON: PUBLISHED AT THE RAILWAY CARONICLE OFFICE,

14, Wellington-street North, Strand.

« PreviousContinue »