March 19, 1864.]
ONCE A WEEK.
antiquarian and artist they are very tempting, as being a rich field for enjoyment. Both counties abound in historical associations. Kent, with its old timber-built houses of the sixteenth century; and Sussex, as the mother iron county, with the remains of forges, cinder heaps and traditions of great guns, its proof mounds, and iron tombs cast on the spot. These would be of much general interest; but one place especially took my attention, and to that I would take my readers. Looking over a sketch-book after a ramble in Sussex, a friend, who had called, was much struck with an outline of an old gable house. He recollected it as the first drawing Prout had given him to copy when he commenced working under his tuition, and Prout would never say where it was situated. Perhaps he did not know. However, my friend never learnt its whereabouts; and he was now told, after nearly forty years, that the house in question was known as Pound’s Bridge, in Kent.
He immediately proposed that we should make a day down, so that we might both sketch it together. To his proposition I most readily agreed; and I dare say our reader would have enjoyed the day too when he is told that my friend was the late Mr. J. D. Harding, whose name is so well known to all art-lovers; and so we arranged the following Saturday to leave London Bridge, hoping for fine weather. Our hopes were fully realised, and the early morn was delightful. Leaving home about eight o’clock we found the white mist rising from the streams, so indicative of a bright day, and soon found ourselves at Tunbridge Wells, for it’s surprising how the time flies when a cheerful chat and lively conversation flow on uninterruptedly. Whilst the horse was being put to at Tunbridge Wells we availed ourselves of a good breakfast, as we had a long day before us, and, like good thorough Englishmen, with due foresight, arranged also for dinner.
An hour’s ride along the ridge, which is south of the South-Eastern line, brought us to the crest of the hill, which dips down to Pound’s Bridge, our present destination; and when we arrived there we had the brightest of days, with such a balmy soft air that even the autumn morning was agreeable for outdoor sketching. When I had visited the house previously all my endeavours to learn anything of its antecedents were fruitless, until at last I fell back upon a neighbouring church, with the hope of finding some clue. Fortunately in this I was successful. The monogram, W. D., which is placed in front of the house in wood-work, I found in a corner of the chancel on a small brass, with the addition of the skull in the centre and the bones crossed above. It runs thus:—
Here lyeth William Darkenoll Parson of this Place
His father and mother, and wyves, two by name
80 88 50 & 67
John Joan and two Margarits, lyved in good fame.
Their several ages who lyketh to knowe
Over each of their names the figures doe shewe.
The sonnes and daughters now spronge of this race
Are fyve score & odd in every place.
Deceased. Iulii th12. anno. supra d.co.
Deceased. Iulii th12. anno. supra d.co.[line above]
As Christ is life to me
so death my gain shall be
Blessed are they truly
man in the Lord doe die.
The date of 1593 being still upon the house, at once identified it with the parson of the place; and his death taking place in 1596, three years after, tallied well as being the residence of William Darkenoll. Mr. Harding having made his sketch of the house in that charming way which was his specialty, joined me to explore its interior, hoping to find large fireplaces, old wainscotting to all the rooms, huge fire-dogs, inscriptions carved over the fireplace, and snug chimney-corners. In this we were doomed to disappointment, however. The house was now an unfrequented public in a cross-road, the beer not drinkable, hardly any fire in a small Carron grate, the old wood-work all cleared away and replaced by two or three strata of paper-hangings of a pattern which could only be found in the most remote parts of the provinces. So, externally we had a great treat; but internally we found all deserted, and Ichabod, and 1863 stamped on everything in the house.
The old house shown in the sketch is in the parish of Penshurst and about two miles from Penshurst Castle, a place full of association with the great names of the Pulteneys, Robert Earl of Leicester, Sir Philip Sidney—whom Camden eulogises “as the glory of his family, the hope of mankind, the most lively pattern of virtue, and darling of the learned world,”—and Algernon Sidney. In going to the church in quest of information about the monogram of W. D., we came upon one of the most picturesque entrances to a churchyard that I have ever seen in my rambles. Instead of the usual Lych Gate—a good specimen of which remains still at Beckenham—we have an entrance under some houses, on the crosspiece of which is the following inscription:—
MY FLESH SHALL REST IN HOPE.
So interesting was the group altogether that both sides had to be sketched, as each was so interesting in its way, so picturesque, so quaint.