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ON THE CROYDON, BRIGHTON AND SOUTH-EASTERN RAILWAYS.
[From the Railway Chronicle.]
This Excursion, going and returning, to Croydon only, requires about four hours from
the time of starting from the station.
THE earliest railway for public traffic in England was one passing from Merstham to Wandsworth, through Croydon; a small single line, on which a miserable team of lean mules or donkeys, some thirty years ago, might be seen crawling at the rate of four miles in the hour, with small trucks of stone and lime behind them. It was commenced in 1801, opened in 1803, and the men of science of that day,we cannot say
that the respectable name of Stephenson was not among them—tested its capabilities, and found that one horse could draw some 35 tons at six miles in the hour, and then, with prophetic wisdom, declared that railways could never be worked profitably. The old Croydon Railway is no longer used. The genius loci must look with wonder on the gigantic offspring of the little railway, which has swallowed up its own sire. Lean mules no longer crawl leisurely along the little rails with trucks of stone, through Croydon, once perchance during the day, but the whistle and the rush of the locomotive, and the whirr of the atmospheric, are now heard all day long. Not a few loads of lime, but all London and its contents, by comparison-men, women, children, horses, dogs, oxen, sheep, pigs, carriages, merchandise, food—would seem now-a-days to be passing through Croydon, for day after day more than one hundred journeys
CHIDDINGSTONE AND HEVER,
ON THE SOUTH-EASTERN RAILWAY.
[From the Railway Chronicle.]
[This Excursion, as here projected, will take the whole day, so the tourist should start by an early train. At the same time, if he alight at Edenbridge station and hire a carriage to go to Hever only, it might easily be made in an afternoon).
The South-Eastern Railway, traversing the whole weald of the ancient kingdom of Kent, is most abundantly rich in materials for Excursions, both historic and picturesque, and the Directors seem fully alive to this feature of their railway, and to its employment for other purposes than those of mere necessity. The placard which decorates every station justly proclaims the Dover Railway to be a "pleasure" line, possessing many tempting curiosities in abbeys, castles, mansions, parks, &c. The fares are cheap by all carriages.
In about an hour and a half after leaving London, we arrive at the Penshurst station. If, however, the pleasure-seeker is unable to accomplish a walk of nearly seven miles, he should stop at Edenbridge, the station before Penshurst, where a carriage may be hired. From Penshurst station we ascend a deliciously shaded lane which separates the grounds of Redleaf from the park of Penshurst. It is a lane well worth all the journey to behold and saunter in: and the substantial rustic cottages, erected by Mr. Wells, in the lane, make us long for and gardens at Redleaf. On the present occasion we shall not stray into the park of the Sidneys, at Penshurst—but having followed the lane until we have passed the entrance to Redleaf on the west, and descended the hill until we are in sight of the house at Penshurst, we reach some stone steps which rise abruptly on the west side of the road, and cross the stile at the summit of them. Here we are in the midst of quiet pastures, and a walk of a mile and a half over them, crossing in our way the river Eden, which some maps call the Medway, brings us to the village of Chiddingstone, a village consisting of some half-dozen
Old Houges at Chiddingstone. old timber houses of the sixteenth century, in as perfect and picturesque a state as heart of painter or antiquarian could desire. The house of one Master Brooke, a general chapman, is just the genuine model to suggest impressions of what the house of his namesake in the Merry Wives of Windsor' must have been. We almost looked to see sweet Anne Page tripping from beneath the shade of the gabled porch. Master Brooke is proud of his residence, as well he may be, and civil too, for he invited us to see the panelled parlour, remaining almost untouched since its first erection. Adjoining Brooke's house is an inn of similar architecture, in the tidiest order and most attractive peacefulness. One or even two beds may be had : and what a world of good it would do to many, just to travel here for a night's lodging, and up to business again by the railway the next morning! It might be managed, ride and all, for ten shillings. The church, which is opposite the old houses, is of a later “decorated” style, but is kept too orderly and respectable to have much picturesque attraction. The grounds Chiddingstone Church. of Chiddingstone Park are most pleasant, and adjoin the village.
The pretty village itself is situate just on the junction of the clay, called the Oaktree clay—a slaty and strongly bituminous compound, similar to that at Kimmeridge—and the sand. We keep along the base of the sand hills in order to reach Hever. It is about two miles distant, and during the whole walk the spire of Hever Church and the square turrets of Hever Castle appear above the foliage which environs them in the valley below. The tradition has come down to us, that on these hills watchmen were stationed, to announce by sound of bugle the approach of the lusty and royal suitor to Anne Boleyn, as, galloping from Eltham and Greenwich, he descended the opposite sand hills. It was with reference, probably, to his excursions hither, which Court babblers might disclose to inquisitive partisans of the injured and neglected Catharine, that Majesty desired its rovings should be unseen. The “Statutes of Eltham,” as they are called, enacted that the “officers of his privy chamber shall be loving together, keeping secret everything said or done, leaving hearkening or inquiring where the King is or goes, be it early or late, without grudging, mumbling, or talking of the king's pastime, late or early going to bed, or any other matter.' Harry cared little for the bruiting of his ordinary indulgences, with which the public was familiar—but he had reasons, whilst his divorce was in progress, not to create popular enmity against the lady he had already destined to be Queen Catharine's successor.
A rude little inn at Hever, which perpetuates in its sign the name and effigy of Henry the Eighth, will supply a sort of dinner, if hunger ensues before reaching Edenbridge: in that case give timely orders before visiting the castle, so that the meal may be ready as you pass the inn on your return, which you must at all events do, in order to reach Edenbridge. The only object of interest in Hever Church, is a fine and perfect brass, on an altar tomb erected in the chancel, to the memory of Sir Thomas Boleyn, Anne's father.
The Castle lies contiguous to the river Eden. Hasted records a traditionary saying that
Jesus Christ never was but once at Hever,
And then he fell into the river.
The meaning of which is supposed to allude to the carrying of'the hosť across the river, and its falling from the priest's hands.
The founder of Hever Castle was one William-a Kentish sheriff, in the time of Edward the Third, who took his name, Willielmus de Heure or Evere, from the place. He rebuilt the old mansion, and having obtained the royal licence to embattle the new structure, he converted the same into a castle. This estate came into the possession of the Cobham family, and was distinguished as Hever Cobham. Sir Thomas Cobham sold the estate to Sir Geoffry Bulleyn, a wealthy London mercer, and it continued in possession of the Bulleyns until after Anne's execution, when her grasping consort seized it to grant it as a residence to another of his discarded wives, Anne of Cleves. The castle had been surrounded by a park, but in the reign of Philip and Mary it was disparked.
Independently of its connexion with the romantic fate of Anne Boleyn, this comparatively mean castle is worth half the show houses in England, as bringing vividly before us all the rudeness and discomfort of past days. It has almost entirely escaped the wreck of the modern spoiler, and has thus retained the most essential characteristics of its original state. Its natural position—low and marshy-would alone suggest fears of malaria, and these are strengthened ten-fold by