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be put off from one day to another, because the parson was going out hunting! Yet somehow those old parsons managed to get beloved by their parishioners. They did not preach at them too hard, nor bother the rustic heads over-much about saints'-days, fasts, and feasts, and not at all about vestments, lights on the altar, or incense.
Bull-baiting, we learnt, used to be a favourite sport in Horncastle, and until a few years ago the ring existed in the paved square to which the unfortunate bull was attached. My informant knew an old woman who was lifted on the shoulder of her father to see the last bull baited in 1812. He also related to us a story of a famous local event, “the racing the moon from Lincoln to Horncastle," a distance of twenty-one miles; how that one day a man made a bet that he would leave Lincoln on horseback as the moon rose there, and arrive in Horncastle before it rose in that town, which apparently impossible feat may be explained thusLincoln being situated on a hill, any one there could see the moon rise over the low horizon some considerable time before it could be seen rising at Horncastle, the latter place being situated in a hollow and surrounded by heights. It appeared the man raced the moon, and lost by only two minutes, which exact time he was delayed by a closed tollgate—and a very provoking way of losing a bet, we thought! Amongst other minor things we were informed that the town cricket-field is still called the “wong," that being the Anglo-Saxon for field; also that just outside Horncastle the spot on which the
May Day games were held is still known as Maypole Hill. One old and rather picturesque hostel in the town, the “King's Head” to wit, is leased, we learnt, on condition that it shall be preserved just as it is, which includes a thatched roof. I would that all landlords were as careful of the picturesque !
Respecting some curious old leaden coffins that had been recently unearthed whilst digging foundations in the outskirts of Horncastle, of which the date was uncertain, though the orientation of the coffins pointed to the probability of Christian burial, we were assured that if the lead were pure they would doubtless be of post-Roman date; but, on the other hand, if the lead contained an admixture of tin, they were almost certain to be Roman. A fact for the curious in such things to make note of; according to which, however, it seemed to us, it would be needful to have ancient lead analysed in order to pronounce upon its date. I am glad to say that my antiquarianism has not reached this scientific point, for it turns an interesting study into a costly toil.
Before leaving, our antiquarian friend said we must on no account miss seeing Scrivelsby Court, the home of the Dymokes, the hereditary Grand Champions of England, and lineal descendants of the Marmions. The duty of the Grand Champion is, we understood, to be present at the coronation on horseback, clad in a full suit of armour, gauntlet in hand, ready to challenge the sovereign's claims against all comers. After this the Champion is handed a new gold goblet filled with wine, which
he has to quaff, retaining the cup which is of considerable value. “The house is only two miles and a half from here; you must go there, and be sure and see the gold coronation cups. I'll give you a letter of introduction,” exclaimed our good friend, and thereupon he called for pen and ink and paper, and wrote it out at once. Having written and handed us this, he further remarked: “You'll drive into the park through an arched gateway with a lion on the top; the lion has his foot raised when the family are at home, and down when they are away. But now it's getting late, and I really must be off.” So our good-natured and entertaining companion, with a hearty hand-shake, departed. Verily we did not fail for friends on the road !
Early next morning we set out to drive to Scrivelsby Court; we could not afford to wait till the afternoon to make our unexpected call—the day was too temptingly fine for that; and moreover we had planned to be in Lincoln that evening, where we expected to find letters from home - Lincoln being one of our "ports of call” for correspondence and parcels. It was a very pleasant and pretty drive from Horncastle to Scrivelsby, the latter half of the way being wholly along a leafy and deep-hedged lane green in shade, and having here and there a thatched cottage to add to its picturesqueness—a bird-beloved lane of the true Devonian type. .
Presently we arrived at the stone-arched gateway that gives admission to Scrivelsby Park; here above the Gothic arch we noticed the carved aggressivelooking lion of which we had been told, with a crown
on his rugged head, his paw raised and tail curled, keeping silent watch and ward around, as he has done for centuries past. The gateway at once brought to mind one of the few descriptive lines in “ Locksley Hall Sixty Years After” – Here is Locksley Hall, my grandson, here the lion-guarded gate.
We had, fortunately, brought our copy of Tennyson with us into Lincolnshire, so that we were enabled to refer to it from time to time. Driving under the gateway, and along the smooth winding road across the park, we soon came in sight of the house, the greater part of which is unfortunately comparatively modern, and in the Tudor style, the old mansion having been burnt down in 1765, but happily the ancient moat still remains, and this with the time-toned outbuildings makes a pleasant enough picture. Driving under another arched gateway we entered the courtyard, with an old sun-dial in the centre; before us here we noted a charming little oriel window over the entrance porch. Again we were reminded of certain lines in the same poem that seemed to fit in perfectly with the scene :
Here we met, our latest meeting-Amy-sixty years ago
Just above the gateway tower. and,
From that casement where the trailer mantles all the mouldering
While I shelter'd in this archway from a day of driving showers-
Now, first at Scrivelsby we have “the lion-guarded gate”; then the second arched gateway we drove through may well be Tennyson's "gateway tower”; further still the “casement where the trailer mantles all the mouldering bricks” might be the oriel window above the porch, as it is a prominent feature from the archway. Though I may be wholly wrong, I cannot help fancying that Scrivelsby has lent bits towards the building up of Locksley Hall. Perhaps I may have looked for resemblances—and so have found them ; for it is astonishing how often we find what we look for. “Trifles,” to the would-be-discoverer, are "confirmation strong as proofs of holy writ.” Some short time ago I was calling on an artist friend, and I observed hanging on the wall of his studio a charming picture representing an ancient home, with great ivy-clad gables, bell-turrets, massive stacks of clustering chimneys, mullioned windows, and all that goes to make a building a poem. “What an ideal place,” I promptly exclaimed; "do tell me where it is; I must see the original ; it's simply a romance.” My friend's reply was somewhat puzzling. “Well, it's in six different counties, so you can't see it all at once!” “Whatever do you mean?” I retorted. “Well,” he responded, “it's a composition, if you will know-a bit. from one old place, and a bit from another; the bellturret is from an old Lancashire hall, that curious chimney-stack is from a Worcestershire manor house, that quaint window I sketched in a Cotswold village, and so forth. I can't locate the house, or give it a distinguishing name, you see.” Now this incident