תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

numbered amongst the ancestral mansions represented here, and old historic Boscobel House is amply illustrated.

Bending his steps towards Wales, the author introduces his reader to a pleasant, rural, little-frequented district. Chirbury and Minsterley yield their tale of archæological spoil; some old-time abodes

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

near the Breidden Hills are recorded here in black-and-white ; and a visit is paid to Mitchell's-Fold, a remarkable megalithic circle, whereby hangs a fantastic legend.

In the course of these various rambles the reader finds himself tramping the heather athwart the breezy Longmynd, pausing to admire some venerable homestead, or investigating an ancient parish church, with its hour-glass, quaint “miserere” seats, or sculptured tombs. Such objects as these, with here a rustic inn-sign, and there the village stocks, yield many a study for the author's pencil.

Many odds-and-ends of curious local information, notes of personal interest, and scraps of tradition or folk-lore, have been gleaned by the author, and garnered into the pages of this work, To a general outline of the natural features of this part of the county, he has added a short sketch of such local events as go to the making of its history : with a glance at the records of the county families whose ancestral homes figure among the illustrations.

An excellent map, specially drawn to indicate the antiquities, is a useful adjunct to the book, and enables the reader to easily identify the points of interest described.

A striking point to be noted by the visitor to the county is the number of old half-timbered buildings which still fortunately remain; and a good deal of Norman work may still be found in the churches, notably, the Heath Chapel in the Clee district, which does not appear to have been touched since its Norman builders left it.

The author touches on antiquities with a light hand, but we have noted very few inaccuracies. We would refer him to Dr. Brushfield's exhaustive paper, in this part of the Journal, for a correction to his views on “Funeral Garlands; and on p. 216 “HADRANI” is, of course, a misprint for “ HADRIANI ;'

220 he has confounded the Black Canons of St. Austin, who had a Priory at Chirbury, with the Austin, or White, Friars, a totally distinct confraternity.

The book is tastefully printed on fine paper, and handsomely bound, with a view of Buildwas Abbey on the cover ; altogether, more a book for the boudoir than the study. For specimens of one or two of the illustrations, we are indebted to the courtesy of the publisher.

[ocr errors]

while on p.

[ocr errors]

Luton Church : Historical and Descriptive. By the late HENRY COBBE, M.A. (London: Geo. Bell & Sons, 12s.).— The author of this book -a well-known scholar and antiquary, and brother of Miss Frances Power Cobbe - intended it to be a complete historical survey of the Parish and Church of Luton, in Bedfordshire. It consists of four parts, of which only the first two, containing the history of the Church and Parish, with a voluminous appendix, and the description of the Church (illustrated), are included in the present massive volume of over 650 pages. The author, who died at an advanced age in the latter part of last year, only survived long enough to complete the revision of the proofs of the first part; and the work suffers a little in consequence : for it is unlikely that, had he lived, he would have adopted the arrangement whereby the more important part is relegated

to the appendix. Notwithstanding, as it is, and without the addition of Parts 3 and 4, dealing with the history of the Wenlock family, and with the later history of Bedford Monastery, it is a monumental work, and one which any man might be proud to leave as his lifework to posterity.

The earlier history of Luton is largely conjectural, and requires the use of a considerable amount of the historical imagination ; but we do not think that the author fell into any serious errors, while several of his deductions are brilliant.

Bedfordshire was converted to Christianity in the latter part of the seventh century, and there can be no doubt whatever that monasteries were at that time established in this part of Mercia as centres for the teaching of the new or revived faith. It is highly probable, although it cannot be definitely proved, that Luton was one of these centres. This first church or monastic establishment would, doubtless, be swept away during the incursion of the pagan Danes. In 919, Edward the Elder re-conquered the entire district now called Bedfordshire, recovering at the same time the full extent of the royal estate at Luton. Edward, who was usually known as “the Builder," from the number of churches that he erected, would not fail to build or rebuild a great church at Luton. Here his son Athelstan held a national Parliament in 931, at which there was the largest attendance of any on record.

After the Norman Conquest, at which time the rectory was held by “ Morcar the priest,” the manor and revenues of Luton were held immediately by the Conqueror and by Rufus. Henry I. bestowed them upon his illegitimate son Robert, Earl of Gloucester. During Earl Robert's possession, the old Saxon church was levelled to the ground, and a Norman church of some magnitude erected on a new site in the midst of the growing population, who were leaving the vicinity of the old manor-house, and settling themselves along the road leading to St. Albans. About 1150 the advowson of the church was made over to Robert, eighteenth Abbot of the neighbouring Abbey of St. Albans; and the abbot, with the consent of the convent, appropriated its revenues to the cellarer of the abbey. The profits were to be chiefly employed in providing for pilgrims to the shrine, and for travellers and guests, but a certain portion was to be set apart for two priests of good life, to perform divine service in the church of Luton.

Richard I. conferred on Baldwin de Bethune, afterwards Earl of Albemarle, the three royal manors of Luton, Wantage (Berks), and Norton (Northampton). The confirmation of the abbey's property and privileges by Earl Baldwin's two charters relates matter of much local interest as to the vicarage, market, and fair, which is fully dealt with

by Mr. Cobbe. At the annual fair, which was held on Lady Day in harvest” (August 15th), everything was allowed to be sold save gold, horses, tanned skins, and men. It is expressly stated that men (i.e., slaves) used formerly to be sold at this fair.

The successor to Earl Baldwin in the manor and honour of Luton was another man of note, Falkes de Breauté, a Norman of humble origin, who showed an unscrupulous devotion to the king's cause, and was rewarded by John with lavish generosity. The king, on his deathbed in 1216, assigned to him the honour of Luton, and made him one of the executors of his will; and in 1221, Falkes had completed the building of his castle at Luton, by which he intended to overawe the town and district. He appropriated to himself the common pastures, dispossessed thirty-two of his own freemen in the manor of Luton of their holdings ; and did wanton injury to the property of the abbey. The wrongs done to the town-folk of Luton formed the climax which brought about the tyrant's downfall, and his eventual outlawry.

William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, one of the most strenuous supporters of the baronial cause in the time of John, was the next of the famous holders of Luton Manor. His wife, Lady Eleanor, was sister to Henry III; and on the Earl's death in 1231, she held Luton for the seven years of her widowhood, having taken a vow of chastity before the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Countess was but eleven at the time of her marriage, and only seventeen when she became a widow, so that it is scarcely surprising to learn that a dispensation from her vow was sought and obtained at the age of twenty-four, to enable her to marry Simon de Montfort. For twenty-seven years the Earl of Leicester held the manor of Luton. The friendliness of Simon and Eleanor to the church of Luton is shown by his directing that the tithes from his demesne within the parish should be paid without the expense of collecting them, thereby forestalling the modern plan of a cheque from the agent of the estate.

A deservedly full account is furnished of the formal ordination of a vicarage at Luton, at the early date of 1219. The arrangement on the part of the Abbey of St. Albans, of appointing a temporary and stipendiary vicar for Luton, removable at the will of the patron, was the subject of prolonged controversy between the able and energetic Bishop Wells, of Lincoln, and the abbey. The Pope appointed a commission to settle the dispute, and never was the decision of a commission of greater moment to the Church of England, or awaited with greater anxiety by both diocesans and religious communities. felt on all sides that the case of Luton would prove a most important precedent. The commissioners were the Bishop of Salisbury and the

cases.

a

Abbots of Westminster and Waltham. Happily for the parishes of England, the decision was in favour of the diocesan. The judges determined that the vicar of Luton should henceforth be presented for approval and institution to the Bishop of Lincoln by the abbot ; that all the small tithes and obventions should be assigned for his income; that he should be furnished with a suitable house and glebe ; and that the Bishops of Lincoln should have full jurisdiction in the church. The Luton decision became henceforth the rule and model of all such

Bishop Weils's immediate action throughout his great diocese for the general ordination of vicarages is set out with detail in the appendix. Luton was the best preferment in the gift of the great abbey, and it had a succession of somewhat distinguished vicars immediately preceding or contemporary with the Reformation. For ten years (1492-1502) it had as a non-resident vicar the notorious Italian cardinal Adrian de Castello, who was consecrated Bishop of Hereford in 1502, and translated to Bath and Wells in 1504.

His successor, Edward Sheffield, Canon of Lichfield, was respectable man; a brass to his memory is extant in the church. John Gwynneth, a Welshman, was vicar from 1537 to 1558, and was of no small fame as a musician and controversialist. In 1531 he obtained the Oxford degree of Doctor of Music, stating that he had spent twenty years in the practice and theory of music, and had composed “all the responses of the whole year in division song, and had published three masses of five parts and tive masses of four; as also certain symphonies, antiphones, and divers songs for the use of the church.” He was a staunch advocate of the old religion, and seems to have died just before the close of Mary's reign. succeeded by George Mason (1558-62), who was instituted about a fortnight after the accession of Elizabeth. Mason was a considerable pluralist, holding three rectories in London diocese, and eventually a prebend at St. Paul's and a canonry at Windsor.

He did not, however, immediately accept the declarations enforced by the royal visitation of the summer of 1559, but saved himself from deprivation by taking the necessary oaths at the adjourned commission in November of that year. This is not stated by Mr. Cobbe, but can be gleaned from Gee's recently-issued work on the Elizabethan clergy.

The subsequent ecclesiastical story of Luton and its vicars follows the usual course through the troublous days of the seventeenth century. Its later vicars of the Georgian and Victorian eras have not been distinguished.

Mr. Cobbe tells with lucidity the tale of the church itself. It has a few Early-English and Decorated features, but is in the main of 15th

He was

« הקודםהמשך »