ARCHÆOLOGY OF THE COUNTY OF SURREY.
By the Rev. OCTAVIUS FREIRE OWEN, M.A., F.S.A.
1. Apathy of previous times upon Archæology. The observations of Dr. Johnson "that all that is really known of the ancient state of Britain is contained in a few pages," and "that we can know no more than what the old writers have told us," proceeded from the apathy of his time, engendering dearth of archæological information, and which it is the object of the present antiquarian spirit to supply. Indeed, its activity in this particular has come to be so generally recognised as to leave no ground for fear that any topic of historical research will be in future uninvestigated by the most searching scrutiny; and although every antiquarian, if indulging in the Monkbarns spirit, as a gatherer of unconsidered trifles, may be subjected to the sneer of the pseudo-practical philosopher, yet daily discovery of the wealth of past record has elevated archæology from a romantic theory to the dignity of an historical arbitrator. 2. True value of Archæology. Nor is it unworthy of this distinction when regarded in its legitimate point of view, and when its great objects are considered, to enlighten the mind as to the human future, by a comparison of the present with the past. The footsteps of civilization, from their earliest faint trace upon the rugged and yet impressionable soil of the savage state to their perfected development in the polished empire, are to be ascertained, not from the confused medley of blended history, but, as individuals constitute the mass, from the archæological analysis of personal domestic life. It is the habit of the house which attunes the temper of the nation, and the portraiture of its common daily existence gives us the truest index to the political changes of a people. If archæology therefore be frittered away upon trivialities, it is to the oblivion of its high import as the enunciator of historical record; but its value can no more be impugned by its abuse, than sound scholarship be invalidated because of the prevalence of pedantry. Commercial wealth, its progress through refinement, luxury, and effeminacy, to the final extinction of national greatness; the improvement in arts and arms, the defence of the homestead against the fortress; the recognition of plebeian liberty, the circumscription of feudal oppression, are cognizable from individual acumen exercised upon the sculptured urn and record of the dead; so that the true patriot becomes of necessity the antiquarian, and if history be looked to as the summary of ancient facts, she must rely for evidence upon the corroboration of archæology.
No slight efficacy, however, is given to these pursuits by the circumstance of antiquarian societies 3. Modern Societies. resulting from individual taste, and not from legal enforcement. Whatever good (it is very little) human nature is inclined to do spontaneously, it will probably do best. Antiquarian research has been ever but slenderly patronized by Government, but gratifies its promoters by emanating from their own volition. And inasmuch as "tot homines quot sententiæ," so where men combine for archæological discovery, each, like a bee, selects his own flower, and not only thus is no spot unransacked in Time's garden, but accumulated wealth brought to the common store. To this healthful mental exercise, to this gratifying spontaneous combination, we attribute, as well as to a growing appreciation of their value, the rapid increase of archæological societies in the kingdom, and the vast additional light poured, since their establishment, upon the national history. After the more distant limbs of the kingdom have grown into new life, by a somewhat strange but gratifying anomaly the heart of the empire receives the arterial influence it should have primarily dispensed, and we are now assured of the popular establishment of an antiquarian association for London, to which our own society of Surrey stood the proud and willing sponsor. It is impossible to over4. The London and Middlesex. rate the value of the as yet undeveloped annals contained in the metropolis alone. If Johnson's time was so barren of such record of common life, as that he was fain to commend Henry's history as the best civil, military, and religious narrative extant of Britain, how would he have exulted in the projected labours of a society which promises not to leave even London Stone "unturned," nor unmolested every cupboard in his own scene of motley association, Bolt-court, Fleet-street.
Having then somewhat rescued Archæology from the hitherto prevalent charges against it, we propose to 5. Purport of the present paper. set forth as a proper prefix to this first account of our proceedings as a society, the historical position of the county of Surrey, with some brief notices of an antiquarian character, intending to give a general chart, whereby each inquirer may shape his course, and develope such element of antiquity as he best may propose for general benefit. Our end will be attained if we impress any mind with the value of Surrey records in their bearing upon the history of the English people, of the vast treasury of ancient lore which this county especially contains. Our business is, in this respect, one of compilation; the profit will result in the analysis by himself of the material submitted to each reader's mind; but not only is this portion of our labour important, but it appeared to us inconsistent to publish the account of a society's proceedings, without describing the scene of its labours, and some appropriate subjects of their exhibition.
According to Ptolemy, who, probably, is the most reliable authority, Surrey was inhabited 6. Early history of Surrey. The Regni by the Regni, who occupied the portion of Britain south of the Atrebatii and Cantii. These Regni had joined the Belgæ, who dispossessed the aboriginal Britons long before Julius Cæsar; besides Surrey, they held also Sussex, and probably the greater part of Hampshire. During the 400 years of Roman occupation, four large cities were founded in the Regnian provinces, one of which called 7. Noviomagus Noviomagus, generally supposed to have been built in Surrey, has afforded fertile topic of antiquarian investigation. Like Homer's birthplace, various towns compete for its site—old Croydon, Wallington, Guildford—until it has been carried out of. the county altogether, and deposited at Holwood Hill, in Kent. Woodcote, Carshalton, Beddington, Whaddon, all places abounding in Roman records, have severally claimed the original Noviomagus under the advocacy of Camden, Aubrey, Salmon, and others. As a slight specimen of the antiquarian supplies in the county, 8. Roman stations, &c. we annex a short list of places regarded as Roman sites, and where coins and relics, of Roman and other periods, have been discovered.
Albury.—The foundations of a Roman temple: figure in ivory.
Austerbury.—A camp near the Roman road, called "Stane-Street."
Bagden, near Westhumble.—Coins.
Beddington.—Mural paintings, tracings.
Bermondsey.—Roman vases, coins, &c., found Sept. 1845.
Brockham.—A small Merovingian gold coin.
Chertsey.—Bronze Runic basin, pavement tiles.
Coway Stakes.—Fine bronze sword.
Croydon.—Frescoes lately discovered in the church.
Egham.—Probably the Roman Bilrox.
Farley Heath.—Roman relics.
Farnham.—Perhaps the Vindomis of Antonine.
Frimley.—Roman urn and coins.
Guildford.—Crypt, painted glass, crucifixes, ornaments.
Hascomb.—A Roman camp.
Kingston-upon-Thames.—Probably the Thamesa, urns, Roman walls and coins, tiles, pottery, and weapons, ring with 11 bosses.
Lambeth.—Keys, nutcrackers, &c.
Lingfield.—Effigies in glazed tiles.
Newark Priory.—Armorial escutcheons of Limoges enamel.
Peckham.—A Roman glass urn, &c.
Pendhill.—A Roman hypocaust.
Reigate.—Polycrome altar-piece, antique intaglio, Roman flue tile, stone celt, Gaulish gold coin.
Southwark.—A tesselated pavement, coins, urn, &c.
Surrey side, Thames.—A pomander of massive gold.
Walton-on-the-Hill.—Tiles, buildings, a brass Æsculapius.
Walton-on-the-Thames.—Probably where the Britains opposed the Romans across the bed of the river at the posts called Coway Stakes.
Wandsworth.—Bronze sword, spearhead, curved pin, bronze celt, ornaments for shields.
Warlingham.—A Roman camp.
Woodcote.—Old buildings, coins, urns, bricks, &c.
During the Saxon Heptarchy, Holinshed informs us "that" the first battell fought between 9. The Saxon Heptarchy. Battle of Wimbledon. the Saxons one against another within this land, after their (the Saxons) first coming to the same," was that which took place at Wimbledon or Wibbandune, in Surrey, between Cealwin, king of the West Saxons, and Ethelbert, king of Kent, for the dignity of Bretwalda, or emperor of Britain. Subsequently, in the year 666, this part of England was ruled by Wulfere, king of Mercia; 10. Wulfere. and Frithwald, founder of the Benedictine abbey, at Chertsey, was described as his subregulus of Surrey. In 851, we find Ethelwulf and his son Ethelbald 11. Battle of Ockley, A.D. 851. defending the kingdom against the Danes, which they defeated at Ockley with immense slaughter; but in 853, Wada or Huda, ealdorman of Surrey, together with Ealhere, earl of 12. Frithwald and Wada. Kent, was routed by these barbarous marauders. Erithwald and Wada are alone recorded as exclusive governors of Surrey.
The kings of Wessex were crowned at Kingston, and 13. Coronation of Wessex kings. we learn that the first coronation there was that of Edward I. or Elder, A.D. 900, the solemn ceremony being performed by Phlegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury. Previous to the Norman invasion, the only other historical events connected with the county, are those which served as a pretext to William the Conqueror for a descent upon England, namely, the seizure and murder (after the death of 14. Hardicanute, A.D. 1041. Hardicanute, the last Danish sovereign of England) of Prince Alfred, by Godwin, earl of Kent, to avenge which violence, William the Conqueror declared he would proceed against the English shores. The peculiar history of the county at this epoch merges in that of the state and kingdom.
As to topical division, Alfred is supposed, by Ingulphus and William of Malmesbury, to have first 15. Counties and Hundreds. parcelled out England in counties, and these latter into hundreds and tithings; yet, during the Heptarchy, several counties were known by names correspondent with those they now bear; thus, Surrey was Suth-regiona, or Sudergiona. The hundreds of Surrey are thus given in Domesday Book.
|The lands of the Bishop of Winchester,||now Farnham.|
|Blackheat Field||„ Blackheath.|
|Amele Bridge||„ Emley Bridge|
|Copedorne, Fingeham||„ Copthorn.|
16. Manors. Of the Surrey manors, the Conqueror held fourteen himself in demesne.
|Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury||6|
|Odo, Bishop of Baieux||25 |
|The Abbey of Chertsey||23|
|Richard de Tollbridge (alias Fitzgilbert)||49|
|St. Peter's Church, Westminster||5|
Of others recorded, two held four manors each; three, three each; eight, two each; and twenty, one each.
From its proximity to the metropolis, Surrey, as17. Historical incidents. might be conceived, was the frequent scene of civil discord or political strife; and age after age has left upon its soil the impression of national disturbance, or has associated its towns, villages, and castles, with striking passages in English 18. Runnimede, June 15, 1215. history. The signing of Magna Charta by the wavering King John, at Runnimede, near Staines, was preceded, it is said, by long councils amongst the insurgent barons, at Reigate Castle, belonging to William, earl of Warren and Surrey. A 19. Reigate Castle. cavern under the castle court, is called the Barons' Cave, and we find that this same castle of Reigate, with those of Guildford and Farnham, fell into the hands of Prince Lewis of France, who, in 1216, landed to assist the barons against the king. In 1217, they were surrendered to the Protector 20. Other fortresses. Pembroke; but, in 1264, the fortress of Kingston, with others, occupy prominent positions during the insurgency of Simon de Montfort. 21. Southwark. itself a mine of history, is rife with the especial ravages of Wat Tyler, in the reign of Richard II., in that of Edward IV., and during the insurrection of Sir Thomas Wyat, at the beginning of Queen Mary's reign, 1554. In the Loseley papers, it is recorded that twenty-six men and four women, of the counties of Surrey and Sussex, suffered for their adherence to the faith during the Marian persecution.
In the civil wars, Kingston was repeatedly visited by both armies; in October 1642, the earl of Essex occupied it with 3,000 men, and after 22. Kingston. the battle of Edgehill, and an abortive attempt on Windsor, Prince Rupert experienced a sharp skirmish in this neighbourhood. The spirit of the Surrey men also was conspicuous, in being the first to demand the restoration of the king; and the insurrection of Lord Villiers, at Kingston, was not put down without great effort. Though, since that period until the present, little of historical note is connected with the county, yet the above summary, brief as it is, will suffice to prove Surrey rich in materials for archæological display.
Some curious details relative to population in Surrey, arise from examination of the Patent Rolls. Thus, 23. Population. in Edward II. (1322), 500 foot armed with haketons (jackets), basinets (skull-caps), gauntlets, &c, were levied upon Surrey and Sussex, exclusive of Chichester. In Henry VIII. (the thirty-sixth year of his reign), 80 archers and 320 billmen were levied in Surrey alone; and when Elizabeth's life was threatened by popish malevolents, 180 principal gentry united themselves in a voluntary association to defend her. In 1574-5, the musters were 6,000 able men, 1,800 armed men, and 96 demi-lances. The excessive charges in this county for horses, in the time of Elizabeth, caused a strong remonstrance; the subsequent levies on the county are full of interesting evidence of its growing importance, as peculiarly the residence of the great metropolitan nobles. The extent of Surrey from east to west is about 39½ miles, 24. Extent and its breadth 25½ miles, the area being 759 square miles or 485,760 acres; its population, at the last census, was 683,082; and it has been well observed that, for its size, perhaps no other English county possesses so many seats of influential men.
Very remarkable statistics are presented also in connection with its agricultural and commercial interests 25. Manufacturers. formerly. It appears to have been the first English district wherein clover was cultivated, which had been introduced by Sir Richard Weston, from Flanders, in 1645: more physical plants are grown in it than in any other county, and the abundance of its timber has given rise to remarkable government enactments relative to the forest and "bailiwick" of Surrey (temp. Hen. II.). Irrigation was practised here before the middle of the seventeenth century, and the convenience of its streams tended to the frequent establishment of mills. Iron-ore also being discovered, several foundries existed here, as well as in the adjoining county, but have fallen into neglect; fuller's-earth is in great quantities, and the stone from Godstone, Merstham, Reigate, and Bletchingley, possesses invaluable qualities for the manufacture of glass. Aubrey gives a curious account of the discovery of coal, and in Camden's time, pits of jet were discovered; the sand near Tandridge and Reigate is unrivalled for purity and colour. In former times the 26. Mineral Springs. springs at Epsom, Streatham, Kingston, Dorking, and other places in the county, obtained great note, but have fallen into disuse and out of fashion, from that cause which invariably ruins all medicinal repute, namely, facility of access.
The lover of ecclesiastical architecture will, equally as the investigator of ancient customs, 27. Ecclesiastical Edifices, St. Mary Overie. manorial residences, or castellated fortresses, find in Surrey ample scope for his observation. Some of its conventual and sacred edifices vie with any in the kingdom for beauty and renown:—The Church of St. Mary Overie, rich in its lingering Norman relics, and in
Which unto time bequeath a name,"—
the resting place of the poets Gower, Fletcher, Massinger,—with the fading page of its early priory, and singular crypt,—placed in a neighbourhood, wherein each step we take is on past honoured 28. Croydon. dust; Croydon, "the mitred, as I may call it, irradiated not by the titles only, but by the charitable deeds and pious munificence of Chicheley, 29. Guildford Grindall, Shelden, and Whitgift; Guildford, whose church, caverns, castle, hospital, demand each a separate narrative replete with 30. Palaces and Manorial houses. archival interest: palaces, abbeys, and manorial residences, crowd upon our survey, until
——"our hearts run o'er
"With silent worship of the great of old."
A host of associations awake at the mere enumeration of such residences as Beddington, Nonsuch, Lambeth, Loseley, Sutton, Sheen, fraught with the memory of the
"Dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who rule
Our spirits from their urns!"
Inexhaustible materials lie before the judicious observation of a society, whose zeal has already enabled it to welcome among its members many who stand preeminent in the fame of sound archæological research. So full is the county of interesting record, that a little systematic organization of local committees in connection with the main Society, cannot fail materially to enrich our national annals by allowing individual taste to contribute to common knowledge. The history of ancient progresses, the Southwark mummings at the "Tabard," the hardly obsolete classic ceremony relative to betrothal at Ockley, the elucidation of Roman relics and Saxon manufactures, the collection and collation of MSS., the examination of pictorial relics, sacred emblems, genealogical archives; these, and a myriad other sources of national investigation, may be individually followed up by the properly organized combination of local committees.
Surrey is the largest artery emanating from the great metropolitan heart, and may well be regarded as receiving the earliest pulsations, in all ages, of the influences which stirred the people. The study, therefore, of such subjects as its topographical history presents cannot fail to instruct whilst it entertains, and to contribute to moral as well as to intellectual excellence. For the past is a torch to the present; biography is but the mirror of self-knowledge, and antiquity only our own footsteps in other shoes. All we have to do is to select our materials with judgment, and to pursue them with caution, gathering up the ravelled skein with care, and weaving with dexterity and sound knowledge a consistent tissue out of the torn and twisted fragments of old times; since, to apply the striking words of the greatest contemporary poet, though
"Vanished is the ancient splendour, and before our dreamy eye
Wave these mingling shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry;"
"Gathering from the pavement's crevice, as a floweret of the soil,
The nobility of labour—the long pedigree of toil,
Everywhere we see around us rise the wondrous world of art,—
Fountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the common mart,
And above cathedral doorways, saints and bishops carved in stone,
By a former age commissioned," stand "apostles to our own!"