Page images
PDF
EPUB

at a period when such projects were but little regarded. After much discouragement, they succeeded in this undertaking by the aid of the celebrated Smeaton, and under the provisions of an act of Parliament obtained in 1767. The management was originally vested in Commissioners, but this system being unsatisfactory, another act was obtained in 1820, whereby the proprietors became a body corporate by the name and style of “The Company and Proprietors of the River Ure Navigation to Ripon." Under the provisions of an act of Parliament, which received the royal assent July 25th, 1845, the interests and property of this Corporation were transferred to the Leeds and Thirsk Railway Company.

According to the enumeration made on the 31st of March, 1851, there were in Ripon and the appurtenant township of Bondgate, 1513 houses, and 6160 inhabitants, being an increase of 2453 inhabitants since the census of 1801.

[graphic]
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

In shadier bower
More sacred and sequester'd, though but feigned,
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph,
Nor Faunus haunted.

MILTON. PAR. LOST, B. 4. 705.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

N agreeable stroll through our western suburb, and

the wooded copses that rise in gentle undulation from the banks of the Laver beyond, prepares our transition to the far-famed scenes of Studley Royal. A volume would be insufficient to discuss the diver

sified beauties with which it abounds; and the utmost that can be attempted here is to state facts that may be useful to the inquiring eye, and become a memorial for the retrospective mind.

For five centuries, the families of Aleman, Le Gras, Tempest, and Mallory, each of which produced men eminent and useful in their generation, enjoyed, successively, a domain which the potency of their neighbours forbade them to enlarge ; and found in their deep meads and waving woods, a quiet and simple enjoyment, which until the dawn of the eighteenth century was not deemed capable of being transmuted to that source of intellectual gratification, in which countless thousands have since participated. John Aislabie, who from the rank of a country gentleman raised himself, by the vigour of his intellect, to the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, was then possessed of Studley Royal in right of his mother, Mary, the eldest daughter and co-heiress of Sir John Mallory, an heroic and loyal knight. He saw the rare beauties that nature offered in profusion around his ancestral home, and, after he had exchanged the tumult of the political arena, for the sincerer pleasures and occupations of a country life, nobly and energetically devoted himself to their development. The little copses that surrounded the antique manor house were changed into an extensive park; diverging avenues supplanted intersecting hedge rows, the beck was expanded in a lake, the mansion was fashioned into correspondence with its noble accompaniments; and lastly, but chiefest of all, a portion of the little valley of the Skell, that intersected his park, was transformed into a most delectable pleasure ground. William Aislabie, his only son, enjoyed the leisure of a long life in maintaining and extending what his father had done. His eldest co-heir, Mrs. Allanson, was precluded, by the delicacy of her health, from residing at Studley ; and on her decease, in 1808, it devolved, with the rest of her extensive possessions, on her niece and heir, Mrs. Lawrence, the late most benevolent proprietress; than whom none could have tended them with a more liberal and faithful hand. On the decease of Mrs. Lawrence, in July, 1845, the whole of the estate at Studley became vested, by the provisions of her will, in the Right Hon. the Earl de Grey, one of whose ancestors married a sister of the Chancellor Aislabie.

After passing through the village of Studley, and arriving at the PARK LODGE, the eye is restrained from excursion into the woodlands by a noble AVENUE OF LIMEs, above a mile in length, that guides our path and directs the eye to An Obelisk, whence the towers of Ripon and Fountains may be seen in conjunction, with many other interesting and more distant objects. The Mansion House, which retains a fragment as early as the fifteenth century, may be seen whilst rising the hill, at some distance on the right; but it is not shown to visitors. Comfort and convenience have been sought in its several alterations, rather than grandeur and effect; but the home where so much talent and worth, for centuries, reposed, has not yet needed such a distinction, nor will cease to be invested with a deep interest, so long as the purest benevolence and philanthropy shall command the homage of mankind.

Midway the Park, we diverge to the left, down a BEECHEN AVENUE to the little valley of the Skell, where the stream, conducted by a formal cascade with all due accompaniment of balcony and turret, expands into a Lake covering twelve acres. A number of domestic fowls enliven its expanse with their gambols and evolutions, while anon

“ The Swan, with arched neck Between her white wings mantling, proudly rows Her state with oary feet."

The banks rise swiftly from the water's edge, clothed with dense woods, through whose commingled beech and chesnut shade we reach the gates; where guides are in attendance from the hour of seven in the morning until that of five in the evening.

The disposition of the grounds may be easily perceived. The original design of the Chancellor Aislabie, who commenced operations about 1720, aided by his skilful gardener, Mr. William Fisher, was to contract the devious beck into a level parallelogramic canal, adorned with statues on its terraced banks, and bounded by dense hedges of evergreen which sheltered an ample alley, whence, through openings artfully contrived, a diversity of prospects could be obtained. A prudent and judicious respect for the old arrangement is still preserved, but modified so as not to offend modern hypercriticism by its antiquated state. The extreme contraction of the valley, and the proportionate inclination of its declivity, favoured the design, and allowed the extension of walks through the luxuriant thickets above, whence a new and more extensive series of prospects could be obtained, and more natural beauties developed. An interchange of

scenery from a few hundred yards on each side of the river (crossed then, as now, at the rustic bridge) was thus, with the upper walks on the right, all that the adjacent demesne of Fountains allowed the projector to obtain ; but when his son, who, wisely relying on his own ability, often declined the officious offers of Kent and Brown, purchased the Abbey, he continued the walk from below Anne of Boleyn's seat, up the southern bank of the circling stream, and after circumventing that

“ Noble wreck in ruinous perfection,”

brought it down the opposite side of the valley, and so joined the old decorated grounds at Tent Hill, where he erected a temple, long since fortunately destroyed.

With this rough outline we will proceed. After leaving the gates, shrouded in lofty and luxuriant trees and evergreens of stately growth, that remind us, especially when looking towards the balcony of the lake, of the incomparable Versailles, and many a delectable but ever-banished scene of our own “fair good lande,” a bank of closely-shaven laurel first meets the eye, that would wander more willingly up a long and solemn glade that diverges from the valley called KENDALL's Walk. From some invisible cause, few seem to have the agility to vault over the little bushes in front, in a manner equally satisfactory to themselves and their companions.

By the side of one of those gigantic beeches, whose altitude is forgot while passing under their grateful shade, we have a glance of the Octagon Tower rising abruptly on the other side of the valley ; and, by the water below, a cast in lead of two CONTENDING GLADIATORS.

Still passing behind the dense wall of yew, with its lofty canopy, we are surprised by a prospect, set in a verdant frame, of the valley in its widest part ; the Temple of Piety in the opposite encircling wood; the Moon AND CRESCENT Ponds, and their accompanying statues of NEPTUNE, Bacchus, and GALEN.

Our embowered path ends by the BATHING HOUSE, a little rustic building of two wings, one containing the Pool, the other the appurtenant dressing-room. For many years a colony of bees have taken up their abode in the roof, and will be observed entering by the chinks of the slates.

The uninformed lover of nature, as well as the scientific observer, will alike gladly halt on the declining lawn to view the noble trees that tower aloft before them in wonderful procerity and beauty. A Norway SPRUCE Fır, near the walk, and straight to the top, displays luxuriance seldom equalled but in its native land. It is 132 feet high, 124 feet in circumference above its roots, and would form an impervious shade to an assembly of at least fifty persons. Another fir nearer the canal, which canopies the statue of the Dying Gladiator, is 11 feet 2 inches in circumference, and equally symmetrical as its companion, which being more disengaged claims readier attention. A third, near the last, is but 8 feet in circumference. None of these, however, should disengage the eye from a HEMLOCK SPRUCE, of most graceful form and foliage, the stem of which has attained the height of 60, and the circumference of 7 feet. These

« PreviousContinue »