Page images

by turning to the QUADRANGULAR Court, of which the boundary on the north side is marked by the wall of the nave. On the west was a range of lofty buildings, the lower apartment being, I presume, the STORE-HOUSE ; the upper, the DORMITORY OF THE CANONS. Of the REFECTORY on the south, sufficient remains only to show that it has been a spacious apartment; and, from its shallow buttresses, coeval with the translation of the house. At its eastern end has been a wide passage, leading to a much larger Court behind;

around which, and about the site of the present minister's house, were ranged the KITCHENS to the west, some unappropriated offices to the south, and a long chamber, not improbably the Guest's Hall, to the east. Still beyond this court is a small detached building, now used as a School-HOUSE, and proved by the flat and shallow buttresses to have been of an age little inferior to the refoundation.

The east side of the Cloister-Court is formed by the transept of the church, and at its southern extremity is the passage leading to the Chapter-house. The entrance from the Cloister was rebuilt in the decorated period, but the arch alone remains—a bold and conspicuous object, mantled with ivy, and emulating nature in the foliated capitals of its columns. There is an exquisite glimpse, to be had through it, of the waterfall above the river in one direction, and of Bolton Hall in the other. The

passage has been worthy of the building to which it led, and was of the same age and style. From some fragments of shafts, which adhere to the wall, the sides appear to have been enriched by an arcade, and,—if I am right in my assignation of the bosses that remain before the windows of the hall,—to have had also a handsome and groined roof.

The site of the CHAPTER-HOUSE has been discovered only within recollection, but—having been torn down nearly to the foundation -is even yet sought in vain, by many an unpractised eye. It was an octagonal building, in the Early-English style, of about 30 feet in diameter, the west side having been entirely voided by the passage. There have been, apparently, five stalls on each side, resting on a base of quatrefoils, and ornamented at each angle with three roses of exactly similar character to those exhibited in the sedilia of the choir.

On the south side of the Chapter-house passage, are foundations supposed to have been those of the Prior's Lodge. Another demolished structure at the south-east angle is considered to have been his chapel. Still eastward of the Chapter-house are swelling mounds, indicative of an enclosure ; and of two buildings, which Whitaker thought might have been the Priory Mill. If the site had been more propitious, I could have believed them to have been the lodgings of the Prior.

But we may not linger here ; for the banks and braes of Wharfe now begin to develope their attractions, and the summer's sun will set ere one half of them can be enjoyed.

Yet, hard and unenviable is the heart that turns away from Bolton Church-yard, without a sigh for Emily Norton

“ Exalted Emily,

Maid of the blasted family"or glances not at the track, up the woods and o’er the fell, by which the memorable White Doe of Rylstone, after the death of her mistress, sought this hallowed sanctuary, each Sabbath morning, and returned again, on the dispersion of the congregation.

After some charming views of the Priory, particularly one including the curvature of the Wharfe, made familiar by pictorial illustration, the path sinks to the bed of the valley, and enters the woods.

Although visitors are permitted to ramble, at pleasure, through the woods, except on Sunday, when ingress is strictly prohibited, the great diversity of paths renders it advisable to avail themselves of a guide, without whose direction many interesting points of view must pass unobserved.

“ About half a mile above Bolton the valley closes, and on each side the Wharf is overhung by deep and solemn woods, from which huge perpendicular masses of grit-stone jut out at intervals.” For a while, the river sweeps on in majestic undulations, exasperated hy rocks and swelled by a tributary stream bursting from a woody glen, exhibiting "its native character-lively, impetuous, and irregular.”

Then for a few moments it reposes by a delicious and verdant holm ; lingering noiselessly in the shade of luxuriant trees, whose slanting boughs stoop to kiss its bosom.

At length its subdued and solemn roar, “ like the voice of the angry spirit of the waters,” disturbs the deep solitude of the woods, and announces the tremendous STRID, which suddenly greets the eye, struggling and foaming in a narrow trench in the rock, through which the whole of the impetuous torrent is poured “with a rapidity proportioned to its confinement.”

Hither, says the shadowy tradition that, for seven centuries, bas invested this awful spot with a mysterious interest, came the Boy

[graphic][merged small]

of Egremond, only son of Alice de Romillè, Lady of Skipton, ranging the woods of Bolton with his greyhounds and huntsman ; and attempted to cross the gulph.

He sprang in glee,-for what cared he

That the river was strong, and the rocks were steep ?
But the greyhound in the leash hung back,
And checked him in his leap.
The Boy is in the arms of Wharf,
And strangled by a merciless force;
For never more was young Romilly seen
Till he rose a lifeless corse."

The forester hastened to Lady Alice, and, with despair in his countenance, intimated misfortune by the significant enquiry, “What is good for a bootless beane ?" by which we may understand, What remains when prayer is unavailing ? Yet it was enough; for the presentiment of the anxious mother instantly rejoined, “Endless sorrow ;” and, on being assured that such was her lot, she vowed that many a poor man's son should be her heir, and so became the second foundress of Bolton.

The language of this question—now become all but unintelligible -proves the antiquity of the story, which is the next thing to establishing its truth ; and, alas, on how many a bright and beautiful dream, has its meaning since intruded !

After all, “ no one can stand long by it, without feeling a sense of its power and savage grandeur grow upon him;" and many, inspirited by its majestic tone, may feel that it is a place “how tempting to bestride." But its real contraction, which I am told is 4 feet 5 inches, deceives the eye; and there is the greater danger that, in the confusion of insecurity, the attrition of the rocks may betray the bounding step, which-like many another erring but needless act-can never more be recalled.

The contraction of the rock extends about sixty yards; and, “ being incapable of receiving the winter floods, has formed, on either side, a broad strand of naked gritstone, full of rock basins or pots of the lin, which bear witness to the impetuosity of so many northern torrents.'

By following the main path-sometimes skirting, sometimes rising high above the river bank-you wind up the curvature of the valley, and at a sheltered bower called Pembroke Seat, instinctively halt, to contemplate the glorious prospect of the torrent sweeping, in an “horned flood,” far down before you, from the old tower of Barden, shrouded in ancient woods and backed by the purple distance of Thorpe-fell.

Beyond this point, the excursion of those whose time is limited is seldom protracted; but no true lover of nature, or of those associations of by-gone days by which it is enhanced, should refrain, undismayed by the apparent distance, from passing on through Barden Park, to the Tower. It is indeed but a plain Tudor house, enlarged or rebuilt by Henry Clifford, “the Shepherd Lord,” from one of the Lodges by which the ancient Chace of Barden was protected ; but the scenery around is so exquisitely beautiful—the air of primæval simplicity so pure and refreshing—and the profound seclusion and tranquillity so congenial to the sympathies of the imagination and of the heart, that it needed neither the association

of the virtues, or of the fame of its founder, nor the lays of him by whom they have been sung so worthily and well, to invest its crumbling walls with another and an indestructible enchantment.

The tower was repaired in 1658, by Lady Pembroke, after it had been in ruins about seventy years, but it is abandoned once more to desolation. The chapel, a small and coeval building, attached to the adjoining farm-house, is still preserved, and served by the minister of Bolton. After you

have passed the tower and reached the high road, turn aside down the footpath to Gill-beck fall-a mountain stream dashing down a precipice of forty feet to meet the Wharfe—but return to the picturesque old bridge, to be greeted by the broad sylvan-bounded stream, and Greenhow hill rising in the distance.

At the foot of the bridge it will be well to pass to the opposite side of the river by which you came, and then along the holm ; not forgetting often to turn and catch the varying glimpses of Barden, nestling in its dense sylvan repose.

For the gratification which follows, every lover of beauty must be grateful to Mr. Carr, who,“ working,” as Wordsworth has said, "s with an invisible hand of art in the very spirit of nature,” guided the path along the hill-side, and “laid open the more interesting points, by judicious thinnings in the woods.” From one of these stations, there is a lovely view of the river, towards Barden, and, a little further on, another, in the opposite direction towards the Strid, where the extreme contraction of the valley, at that interesting point, may be, very definitely, observed. At length, we are brought, immediately, above the raging torrent, and, while the eye rises from the depth and luxuriance of the valley, to the green knolls and dreary fells swelling beyond, the ear is charmed by that hoarse roar of “the angry spirit of the waters," that, for unnumbered ages, has never been subdued nor stilled.

Before the Laund House, on the site of one of the Lodges of Barden, it is worth while to turn aside to an “unwedgable and gnarled oak” that may have successively sheltered Romillè and Albemarle, Clifford, and Boyle. It is 25 feet 4 inches in girth, at 4 feet 6 inches from the ground, for the tortuosity of the trunk prevents its measurement lower.

It needs no persuasion to allure the most careless step towards Posforth-gill—a woody glen that now branches from the vale of Wharfe, implying in its antiquated name the character of its lively

« PreviousContinue »