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did not reach to the covering block. The cromlech of Mulfra, high on its bill-top above the sea, collapsed, it is said, in 1752, during a thunderstorm. That of Zennor, one of the most perfect in the country when Borlase wrote, has been much injured, and the cap-stone has been rolled off. At present the most complete cromlech in Western Cornwall is that of Chywoone, which has already been mentioned. These are structures which may well take us back to the time of giants; for although it has been ascertained beyond doubt that they are sepulchral, they belong in all probability to a period far more remote than that of the stone-circles, or of such hut-clusters as those of Chysoister.
EDGEHILL AND NASEBY.
Two Great Battle-fields-Character of the Scenery of Central England- The Ancient Roads—The Battle of Edgehill —
March of the King-Edgecot House - The Battle-field-Memorials of the Fight-Position of Naseby-March of Fairfax - The King Warned-Fairfax Forces a Battle-The Battle-field of Naseby-The Battle--Defeat of the Royalists- The Slaughter at Marston Trussell-Naseby at the Present Day-Sulby Hedges—The Church.
SWORDS FOUND AT
OF CHARLES I.
T is somewhat remarkable that the heart of England—the very
centre of the Midlands-should have witnessed the first and the last battles fought during the great Civil War. There is no apparent reason why this should have been the case. The struggle passed, at different periods, westward and northward.
Sometimes York, sometimes Oxford, sometimes Exeter and the remoter Cornwall were the points to which men's eyes were directed; but the fights of Edgebill and Naseby, which began and closed the armed contest, took place within a very short distance of each other, and the high ground of Naseby is, in parts, visible from the ridge of Edgehill All this high ground forms, in effect, the eastern boundary of the great central plain, which extends far to the north and
south as we look on it from such an eminence as the camp above 承 Daventry; and across which the masses of the Malverns, and of yet
more distant hills, rise like clouds on the far horizon. The plain is hy no means one uniform level; but the wide, free
space, over which EDGERILI, AND BADGE the great arch of sky bends for so vast a distance, lies in marked contrast
with the ground—after all, of no very great height-on which we are standing. This whole district, the borders of Warwickshire and of Northamptonshire, taking in a broad stretch of land in either county, is broken into groups and ranges of low hills, sometimes curiously isolated, and, when that is the case, often enringed by ancient earthworks. There is much fine wood filling the valleys—we must not add, bordering the streams; for although this is the central watershed of England, where are the springs or "pools,” as they are here called, of the Nen, the Charwell, the Avon, and the Leam-rivers which flow in such opposite directions—their infant courses are scarcely marked features in the landscape. We may indeed track the Avon as it winds across the great plain towards its distant junction with the Severn, but it is rather by the towers and the villages that stud its banks, than by any distant gleam of its waters. Yet in spite of this want—and it is the marked want in the scenery of the Midlands —there is a very great charm in this tossed, broken country, and the views from the higher ground are as fine and almost as extensive as those from the Malverns themselves. The villages lie nestled under grassy hill-slopes, while the church is generally placed on some open hillock, with great elms or ash-trees about it; and old houses, with steep gables and Tudor windows, border the green that lies by its side. Without being grand the country is thoroughly contenting. Its beauty is of that quiet, pastoral kind that recalls many a verse of the elder poets; and indeed it is too near to Shakespeare's own home to be without some reflection of the great master bimself. To the stranger passing through it, it seems as if those who live in it should have more of “the herb called heartsease in their bosoms » than other folk. Primitive ways and primitive speech still linger. There are some churches still unrestored, where arcades and roofs have been allowed to retain their real antiquity, and have been, perhaps, little altered since the fight under Edgehill. Even the services in them have not much changed. The “old version” is still in favour. The fiddles and the “loud bassoon are not unknown. The sermons are brief, and the visitor may sometimes be fortunate enough to light on a church in which there is none at all. To wander through any part of this district in the summer twilight, or when the moon is slowly rising above the hills, is like passing back to the days of Justice Shallow and his "yoke of bullocks at Stamford fair."
No part of England abounds more than this in lines of ancient road crossing and recrossing, in hill-camps and entrenchments, and in relics of the several races who have successively held the soil. The Watling Street and the Fosse meet at no great distance northward; and the courses of these great roads, with those of the “vicinal ways ” which fall into them at frequent intervals, must have largely influenced the history of the country. More than one recorded fight, and no doubt many an unrecorded skirmish in earlier days, had taken place here before that memorable Sunday when Prince Rupert dashed down the slope of Edgebill toward Kineton. In 1469, when Robin of Redesdale led 60,000 “Northerners” in arms toward London, and encamped on Edgecot Hill, which rises above the house where King Charles slept on the night before the later battle, they were encountered there by the Earl of Pembroke, marching from Banbury; and a furious battle took place on Danesmoor, the plain below. The northern men stronger. Pembroke was taken priscner; and a day or two after, John of Clapham, “that fierce esquire,” with his own hand struck off the earl's head in the porch of Banbury Church. This central highland attracted and delayed the fighters of different ages; but it is during the great struggle of the seventeenth century that it becomes most important, and is most conspicuous. Besides the two great fights, many skirmishes took place in this neighbourhood. The old roads were still in use; and their lines may have influenced the march alike of Puritan and of Cavalier.
It is this period therefore which, in spite of old camps and picturesque churches, is most in our minds as we climb the border heights of Warwickshire and Northamptonshire. The story of the battle of Edgehill is sufficiently well known, and has often been told; but it gains a wonderfully fresh interest as we look over the field from the crest of the hill, and can follow not only all the stages of the fight, but all the progress of the two armies for many days before it. The Parliament had given the command of their army to the Earl of Essex, “old Robin," as he was generally called by the soldiers. Essex and his officers had been proclaimed traitors by the king, who called upon all his good subjects to meet him in arms at Nottingham on the 25th of August, 1642. On the evening of that day the royal standard, borne by Sir Edmund Verney, was set up; but the weather was stormy, and it was afterwards held to have been of evil omen that the standard was blown down during the night. From Nottingham Charles moved westwards, collecting men and receiving contributions, until at Shrewsbury his army amounted to 18,000 men, many of whom had come out of Wales. Essex had
been for some time with his forces at Northampton, whence he moved toward Worcester, near to which place a body of 500 horse was fallen upon and routed by Prince Rupert. The object of the king was to break up the Parliament, and for this it was necessary either to defeat Essex, or to outflank him, and so to march upon London. The latter course was chosen. Charles marched from Shrewsbury to Kenilworth, but could not enter Coventry or Warwick, both which places were held for the Parliament by Lord Brooke and his troops, the same “fanatic Brooke” who afterwards "spoiled and took” the Cathedral of Lichfield
“ Though, thanks to Heaven and good St. Chad,
Meanwhile Essex, who had left Worcester, was pressing on the king by forced marches; but Charles turned the flank of the Parliament's army by crossing the Avon at one of the fords between Warwick and Coventry, and thus advanced upon Southam. Hampden and Lord Brooke, however, had entered Stratford-upon-Avon a day or two before, and the entire length of the Avon thus lay open for the unmolested passage of Essex's army in pursuit of that of the king.
Charles slept at Southam on the night of the 21st of October. On the 22nd he
with his two sons, Charles and James, to the house of Edgecot, many miles south of Southam, and at no very great distance froin Banbury. Prince Rupert, with his horse, took up his quarters on the same night at Wormleighton, where he occupied a stately house which had not long before been built by Sir Robert Spencer. The road from Southam to Edgecot led the king through much of that pleasant, elm-shadowed, up-anddown country which we set out by describing. Thick woods, and a cluster of trees, on a hill-top just within the Warwickshire border, mark where stands the old hall of the Shuckburghs; and as Charles rode on over what was then open country he saw, according to a local tradition preserved by an annotator of Dugdale, a gentleman amusing himself with a pack of hounds, and asked who it was that could hunt so merrily when his sovereign was about to fight for his crown and dignity. Mr. Richard Shuckburgh was introduced accordingly. The king persuaded him to take home his hounds and to raise his tenantry. The next day he joined the royal army with a troop of horse, and was knighted by Charles on the field of Edgehill.
The present house of Edgecot is little more than a century old. It occupies the exact site of the house of the Chauncys, to which Charles and the princes came on the evening of the 22nd of October, 1642. This was a Tudor mansion, with a porch and porch-chamber carried to the roof, and raised on Ionic columns. Close to it, after the fashion of an old English manor, rose, and rises, the church, brushed by great elm-trees, rich in old Chauncy monuments, and bearing the marks of ancient foundation in its strange, half-Norman sculptures. The house has passed to its present owners by inheritance, and although
Scott's “Marmion." Lord Brooke, a fiercely zealous Puritan, had avowed his intention of destroying the cathedral; and as his forces approached Lichfield he had solemnly addressed them, and had prayed that God would“ by some special token manifest unto them His approbation of that their design.” On the second day of the siege, Brooke was shot dead from the spire of the cathedral. The siege began on St. Chad's Day (the patron of Lichfield), March 2nd, 1643.
rebuilt, retains some relics of the older one. In the hall is a portrait of Sir William Chauncy, the king's host, and an old Cavalier. It is a full-length, bearing the inscription"Æt. 61, Ann. 1637.” Sir William is in black, with long white stockings, and open-work shoes with rosettes. He wears collar and cuffs of lace, and there is a laced cap under his hat. In his right hand he carries a long staff. In such attire he may have conducted Charles to the bed in which he rested another relic which has been preserved at Edgecot. It was from this couch that the king was roused, about three o'clock on the Sunday morning,
by a messenger from Rupert with the news that the Parliament's army was at hand, and that Charles might fight at once if he chose to do so. Orders were at once issued for the march to Edgehill.*
Charles passed by cross-roads toward the centre of the hill. Prince Rupert rode out from Wormleighton under the massive gate-house, which still remains so perfect and so picturesque that it is not difficult to form a picture of the advance, torch-lighted as it must have been. The appearance of the prince's horsemen on
the brow of Edgehill gave the first intelligence to Essex that his enemy was near, just as the fires of the Parliamentarians in the plain below had betrayed their presence to Rupert the night before.
At Edgehill the broken country of the Border sinks quite suddenly down upon the central plain of England. The long ridge, which is entirely in Warwickshire, extends almost north and south. At its northern end it is crossed at a right angle by the
Among the papers of Prince Rupert is the following brief letter from the king, written from Edgecot :“ Nepheu, I have given order as you have desyred; so I dout not but all the foot and canon will bee at Eggehill betymes this morning, where you will also find your loving oncle and faithful frend, Charles R.—4 o'clock this Sonday morning.” (Warburton's “ Memoirs of Prince Rupert," Vol. II., p. 12.)