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period, a general subdivision of the several apartments became necessary. Since that time, however,—though for awhile it was inhabited by the Egertons—it has been occupied as farm-house, and so lost more and more of a character, exceedingly worthy of restoration.
Though the original ground-plan is probably undisturbed, the entire shell of the present structure is not, wholly, of the founder's work. Indeed, the Gate-house is only of the Elizabethan period, and the range of stables, on the west side of the court, though highly curious, have been partially renewed.
The principal apartments were in the north-east angle, elevated, as usual, above the basement story, in which were the kitchen, cellars, and other offices, still evident and partly vaulted. The north wing is entirely occupied by the Hall, a noble apartment about 40 ft. long, and the whole width of the building. On its east, is the equally spacious Chapel, which has a fine altar window, with geometrical tracery; and a richly decorated piscina, with the arms of the family. To the south of the Chapel is the Solar, communicating with a suite of apartments worthy of close examination; and on the north, several apartments, occupied, perhaps, by the Chaplain, one of which has been partially paved with tiles of the rose and fret pattern, obtained, no doubt, from the kiln at Fountains, where they are found in abundance.
Within the recollection of aged persons, several large buildings and offices are remembered to have stood outside the moat ; but all trace of them, and of a ponderous drawbridge before the gate-house, have long since disappeared.
No furniture, pictures, nor any memorial of the family remains in the house, except a piece of oak bearing their arms, carved in the sixteenth century : Quarterly, 1st and 4th (Argent) on a bend (sable), three bezants ; 2nd, a fess between six escallops ; 3rd, three tilting helmets, for Miniot. Supporters, two stags regardant. Crest, a hind's head affrontee.
Shortly after Markenfield's forfeiture, this estate was granted to the Lord Chancellor Egerton, by whose descendant, the celebrated Duke of Bridgwa it was sold to Sir Fletcher Norton, ancestor to Lord Grantley, the present owner.
HIS interesting, and, probably, unique place of resort is generally visited, either by following the road that leads from Ripon to Studley; or, by a direct drive from Harrogate—a road, formerly,
all but impassable. The mighty hand of nature has, seldom, left a more magnificent impression, than on this stupendous scene. Afar off, the precipitous site seems crowned by the inextricable wreck of a long desolated city. On a nearer view, the grim and uncouth forms defy all discrimination and definition ; and, when standing, at length, among them, our uncontrollable impression continues to be of perplexity and astonishment.
An attentive examination, however, soon satisfies us as to their origin, and leaves us in the enjoyment of the rude similitudes they present, and contemplation of the volcanic power that has rent their vast blocks asunder, and projected them, in all forms, to vast distances. Impending high on the ridge of Nidderdale, the storms and floods of unnumbered ages have washed away the soil that had been accumulated around their forms, and exposed their bare bleak sides, in piles, the Titans might credibly have heaped up. The friable nature of their composition, wasted by the corroding blasts sweeping both from the Atlantic and Northern Seas, across miles of unsheltered moors, has aided the distorted formation, and created grotesque and singular shapes, analogous to those presumed to have been used by Druidical superstition. When the learning and imagination of Borlase had awakened the minds of scholars to the existence of extensive monuments of this ancient priesthood in England, it was natural, therefore, that such a mysterious assemblage of erratic forms should not remain unappropriated, or unpeopled with visions of the past. Major Rooke dissertated at length on them, before the Society of Antiquaries, in 1786. Minor tourists, of course, caught the infection ; and, since then, they have generally been considered, and almost daily described, as the great veritable abode of Druidism in the northern parts.
That the Druids may not have availed themselves of facilities thus appropriately furnished, imperfect investigation does not suffer me to deny. From the Rocking Stones, which are considered the best evidence, I think nothing has been satisfactorily inferred ; and, of the fabrication of the rugose tubes, penetrating rocks sometimes of 30 feet in length, and deemed to be passages for the impressive conveyance of mysterious sounds and words—correlative proof, difficult to be obtained, can only certainly decide. One stone, however, presents an appearance for which many think it has been indebted a little to the hand of man. It stands on the brink of the northern precipice, and consists of an irregular columnar mass, 19ft. high, and 47 in circumference, resting on a truncated
apex is but one foot, and base 2ft. 7in. in diameter. A glance at the very friable consistency of the general stratification of the groups at this level, may probably solve the mystery.
In the midst of the rocks, the late Lord Grantley erected a house, with suitable out-offices, for the accommodation of those who were attracted to a place which, as Burns said of his farm at Ellisland, seems to be “the riddlings of creation.”
O THOSE who are gladdened by the works of Nature, and a ramble in an umbrageous retreat, there cannot be afforded a richer treat than a trip to Hackfall. It is a sufficient recommendation to know that its beauty was commemorated by
Gilpin ; and that Pennant, who had seen much, and, generally, saw that much well, styled it “
one of the most picturesque scenes in the north of England.”
This peculiar character is occasioned by the expanding embouchure of a precipitous glen, that guides a leaping stream, opposite a grand sweep of the river Ure, where it ploughs its way at the bottom of a deep and densely wooded ravine. Naked and rifted scars create, apart from their intrinsic majesty, a charming contrast by their protrusion from the long sylvan steeps; while simple erections, artfully contrived and judiciously distributed, blend, as far as fiction may, the associations that gather around the ruined arch and broken tower.
The entrance to the woods is by a simple wicket, found imme. diately after leaving the village of Gruelthorpe, on the road side to Masham. The little rivulet, gurgling over its stony bed, accompanies our declining path, until joined by the Alum-spring, gliding noiselessly through the woods on the brae side, though blemished by the artificial character of its mossy channel. The path is continued to the river, but we cross the burn, and, forgetting the steep ascent of the glen, in the diversity of prospect which every footstep acquires, surmount the wooded vale at “ Mowbray Castle ;” where the view extends uninterruptedly from our feet, to the long range of accliving land that shelters the town of Richmond.
We sink by slow gradations to the high bank of the river, passing reluctantly, each recurring prospect of its waters, and peering down gullies that headlong torrents have ploughed in the steep brae side.
Having thus attained the extreme southern point, screened only by slender boughs from the perilous stream, we may enjoy the seclusion of the dell, by winding down the long terraces that have been laboriously hewn athwart the impending scar. High, overarching, boughs have entwined their grisly roots among the bare bleak stones, and often may be observed, obtruding themselves, at considerable distances, from the parent stem.
After a short stroll by the river, interrupted offensively by the scroggy plantation that has superseded the ancient woods on the further bank, we cross the burn that accompanied our early walk, and embrace the opportunity of rest, and restorative appliances, at Fisher's Hall. From this little grot, formed chiefly of petrifactions collected in the grounds, the river rolling on under the sombre hill, attracts, from its proximity, at least, undivided attention, until a glance, perhaps casually and at departure, discloses, in the contrary direction, two rills stealing down the mossy rocks, embosomed in verdant shade. Mowbray Point” and “Castle,” crown, at a considerable elevation, the sylvan canopy, but much of their beauty is lost in the assimilation of the objects.
Having crossed the dell of the “ Town-beck," and turned away from the river, we halt in the solitude of the woods, to view, from a rustic bower, a rill, skipping amid tall graceful stems, and, in another direction, down a lofty avenue, the ruin on Mowbray Point, relieved only by the clouds.
As we seek the brow of the impending hill, various distant prospects of the country beyond Masham object themselves, even to a careless eye ; until, having gained the jutting brow, you obtain a foretaste of the coming prospect of the far-famed vale of York. Yet, another glimpse, and a few hurried paces more, and the long expected gratification bursts on you, in all its grandeur, at Mowbray Point."
From the abyss at your feet, where black waters sleep in cavernous gloom, the eye rises, joyously, to the bold massy foreground of deep woods and sweeping torrents, to meads and cornfields, and forests, and an interminable succession of flood and fell-bewildered amid the myriad shapes and shades inextricably woven into their web; nor dreams of the immensity of that gorgeous expanse until the faint blue lines mingle with the Hambleton hills, and it finds the amplitude that converges to its vision comprehends the sixty miles that intervene between the towers of York and the estuary of the Tees.