Page images

on acorns, for two thousand hogs. It has, too, like many places, its legend connected with Henry VIII.: one showing a relation between the Sovereign and territorial rights, which sounds strange at the present time. Harrow, with other adjacent manors, was granted by Henry VIII. to Sir Edward, (afterwards Lord) North, who of course fell under the King's displeasure at one period. “We are informed," said the King, “that you have cheated us of certain lands in Middlesex.” North humbly denied. “How was it, then? did we give those lands to you?“ Your Majesty was indeed pleased to do so."

The ascent to the hill is equally steep on all its sides. From its summit in the churchyard, looking eastward, we may trace the outline of the Knockholt beeches, near Sevenoaks, in Kent, the dome of St. Paul's and the towers of Westminster Abbey. Southward, uprise in the flat horizon, the towers of Windsor Castle. Lord Byron, who was at school at Harrow, was remarkable for loitering in this spot. In one of his letters he names a particular “spot in the churchyard, near a footpath on the brow of the hisl, looking towards Windsor, and a tomb under a large tree (bearing the name of Peachie or Peachey), where I used to sit for hours and hours when a boy." And, revisiting the place in after years, he sings

Again I behold where for hours I have ponder'd,

As reclining, at eve, on yon tombstone I lay;
Or round the steep brow of the churchyard I wander'd,

To catch the last gleam of the sun's setting ray. On the north the views are less extensive, being confined by the wooded hills near Edgeware and Whitchurch. It is still a perfect panorama of lovely English scenery, and particularly enjoyable at sunset.

The exterior of the church is most picturesque at a distance. At a near view, the details of its ancient features are much concealed by tasteless innovations, and the whole of the outside has been more or less tampered with by churchwardens. A discriminating eye will, however, detect in the western doorway some architectural remnants of the building erected eight centuries ago by Archbishop Lanfranc. The Norman pillars, supporting an unusually flat segment of a circle, are still existing. The old Norman font, which was some years since sacrilegiously removed into an adjoining garden, has been restored to the church.


The interior of the church is well worth inspecting. It consists of a chancel, nave and aisles. The old oak-carved roof-probably of the fourteenth century, about which period the greater part of the church was rebuilt-has been suffered to remain intact, and without mutilation ; but compo, whitewash and paint, pews, galleries, and other incongruities have done all the inischief they are capable of to the picturesque. The corbel-heads of the roof (if, indeed, they may be so called, serving as they do, at the same time, for pedestals of statues) are grotesquely carved. or, better still, with Richardson's bronze and black paper-which he may procure at Bookseller Bell's, 186, Fleet-street-as he will find here some monumental brasses tolerably perfect; the best specimen is halfhidden by a pew built above it, which ought to be removed. One, represents a knight in armour, in the chancel, Sir John Flambard, lord of the manor in the reign of Edward III.; and the ruined effigies of a priest in pontificalibus belongs to John Byrkhed, a rector of Harrow about 1417. The huge wooden lock on the door of the porch at the south, with its massive key, is a curiosity of most durable clumsiness. Above the porch there has been a small chapel (perhaps the chantry founded in 1324 by one De Bois or De Bosco), which retains vestiges of its ancient splendour: signs of the gilding and colour on the ceiling may be traced, and there are the ruins of a niche and canopy, with marks of a crucifix. It is an interesting relic, reminding us that no part of a church in ancient times was suffered to be destitute of its appropriate ornamental character.

The bones of the founder of Harrow school, John Lyon, rest in the nave, recorded on a brass :-"Heare lyeth buried the bodye of John Lyon, late of Preston in this parish, yeoman, deceased the 11th day of October in the yeare of our Lord 1592, who hath founded a free grammar school in the parish, to have continuance for ever, and for maintenance thereof, and for releyffe of the poore, and of some poore schollers in the universityes, repairinge of highwayes (how strange a legacy to keep railroads in repair would be], and other good and charitable uses, hath made conveyance of lands of good value to a corporation granted for that purpose. Prayers be to the Author of all goodness who makes us myndful to follow his good example.” A marble tablet, has been erected to his memory on the north side of the nave, the inscription of which was furnished by Dr. Parr. On the same side of the church there is a monument in honour of Dr. Drury, who is seated, with two of his scholars standing before him—the one being Lord Byron (who has got admittance here, though rejected at Westminster Abbey) and the other his playfellow Sir Robert Peel. The monument is the work of the younger Westmacott, and would be better suited for the walls of the adjacent school than its present place. It is merely biographical, and, unlike the monuments of old times, has no sentiment of piety at all.

Close by the church are the old buildings of the school, which are singularly destitute of any remarkable feature whatever. The principal interest of the place, therefore, arises from its association with the scholars it has raised. But these have not been numerous for their celebrity. The most notorious have been Dr. Parr, one of the few learned men, who is always produced to vindicate England's title to knowing something of Latin and Greek; Sheridan, the dun-duping dramatic poet, whose 'School for Scandal'-a “genuine English comedy"-is nerveless and inane by the side of Ben Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher; Sir Robert Peel-but he being a cotemporary cannot, and Lord Byron need not, be characterized. Byron tells us he was a most unpopular boy at Harrow -always fighting, “ very fairly, he thought, for he lost only one battle out of seven.” There are some picturesque points about the village, where trees, and buildings, and blue distances form pleasant pictures; and the new buildings of the grammar school-appropriately of the Tudor style, marking the era of its foundation-may receive a word of Returning from Harrow, the pedestrian will have a choice of charming meadow-walks. One of about six miles, past the little church of Perivale, in a south-eastern direction to the Hanwell station, on the Great Western, where the engineering works of the viaducts over the Brent and high road are

[graphic][ocr errors]

well worthy of a half-hour's examination. Another north-eastwards to the Willesden station. The course is along a footpath to Wembly, directly opposite the end of Harrow church. On Wembly Hill, if he be so disposed, he may lunch reasonably in alcoves trelissed with ivy, which present, during the meal, magical pictures of distant London, and the soft blue hills of Surrey.

A visit to Willesden church will lengthen the stroll about three miles. The situation is pretty, and the structure, though not very remarkable in any wise, yet has interest enough to reward the toil, for those who care to scrutinize the details of an old country church. The font is early, and one of the best features a thing substantial enough to defy time for many ages yet to come. The churchyard has the tradition of being the burying-place of the notorious

Jack Sheppard, and the little cage
in the village is said to have im-
prisoned this genius of highway-
men more than once. Alas! for
the romantic sentimentalist, that
railways should have deprived the
high way of its murders and rob-

beries, and invested the journey The Cage, Willesden. from Birmingham with dull security. No wills are now made

Willesden Church. before venturing on a journey to London. Travellers do not hide their gold in their boots, or sew it into the linings of mysterious under-garments. Hounslow-heath has lost its heroes, and a hundred miles' journey provokes no preparation, but is undertaken with as cool indifference as a ride in an omnibus.


Hanwell Viaduct.


14, Wellington-street North, Strand. Price ld.

« PreviousContinue »