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Composed in sufferings, and in joys sedate ;)
'Tis all a father, all a friend, can give.” In the Church are some other monuments, but none that deserve particular notice. Some of the West Saxon monarchs were interred in the original edifice, which is stated to have been built about 650, and formed part of a Monastery founded here at that period for secular canops; in 998 these ecclesiastics were expelled, and their places supplied by monks of one of the regular orders, in whose possession the Abbey (as it was then called) continued until the Dissolution, when its yearly revenues were estimated at upwards of £600: it received many important privileges from Alfred, Edward the Confessor, and succeeding monarchs, and its Abbot, although not strictly a spiritual Baron, was frequently summoned to Parliaments and great Councils. The Abbey Church, during the continuance of the episcopal seat at Sherborne, was also the Cathedral of the diocese.
Some remains of the Cloisters, and the greater part of the Refectory belonging to the Abbey, are still in existence; the latter has suffered great mutilation in converting it into a silk manufactory. At the east end of the Minster is the Grammar School, founded by Edward VI, and endowed with some of the lands formerly belonging to the Abbey. It is under the management of the Master and Governors of the AlmsHouse, or Hospital, an ancient building, also situated in the Churchyard; this was founded in the reign of Henry VI, and at present maintains sixteen men and eight women, beside a Chaplain, by whom prayers are read daily, in a Chapel at the east end of the building; it formerly provided for a greater number, but a part of its revenues was seized by Henry VIII. The government of this Hospital is vested in a Master and nineteen Brethren, chosen from the principal inhabitants of the town: it is dedicated to St. John, and, in honour of the patron saint, a garland is still hung up at the gate every Midsummer night, and watched by the alms-men until the
following morning. Here is a place of worship for Dissenters; a Workhouse; and a Market-house; the market-day is Saturday. The population, in 1821, was 3622 persons, some of whom are employed in the silk and linen manufactures which are still carried on, and have superseded the woollen trade, for which this town was once famous.
Dr. Joseph Towers, an eminent Dissenting minister, was born at Sherborne, in 1737; he was apprenticed to a printer, and this employment might be said rather to assist than retard the literary studies to which he had been attached from his childhood. By intense application he at length acquired such a proficiency in literature as qualified him for the situation of pastor to a Dissenting congregation near London, to which he was appointed in 1774; in 1779 he received the degree of LL.D. from Edinburgh, and about the same time became the colleague of Dr. Price at Newington. He distinguished himself by his political and miscellaneous writings; of which the latter are principally biographical, and the former are distinguished by an honourable zeal in the cause of universal liberty. He died at Clerkenwell, in 1799.
STALBRIDGE, a small market-town on the northwest side of the County, is 112 miles from London, and about five from Sherborne, to whose Abbey it anciently belonged. After the Dissolution it was granted to the Duke of Somerset, and on his attainder to Lord Audley; it subsequently became the property of the first Earl of Cork, by whom it was bequeathed to his son, the celebrated Robert Boyle, who resided here from 1645 to 1650, and here commenced those philosophical experiments which have rendered his name so illustrious. As a contrast to this pious and beneficent man, it may be mentioned that, after his death, the house and manor became the property of the rapacious miser, Peter Walter, whom Pope has “ damned to everlasting fame,” in more than one of his Satires.
Stalbridge contains but 987 inhabitants, many of whom are employed in a stocking-manufactory. The
Church is venerable and spacious, and a Charity School is established here. In the centre of the town is an ancient Cross, about 30 feet high, raised on three flights of steps, each diminishing in the ascent; the cross, which crowned it, has been destroyed, but several sculptures, representing the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and other sacred incidents, still remain, although in a mutilated state.
STURMINSTER NEWTON is situated on the Stour, over which it has a Bridge, about four miles southeast from Stalbridge. This place is believed by some writers to occupy the site of the Roman station Anicetis; this, however, is questionable; but that it was known to the Saxons is sufficiently evident from the architecture of its Castle, whose ruins stand on a high hill surrounded by a deep ditch, and which appears to have been originally erected in the form of the letter D. This manor belonged to Queen Elizabeth, previously to her accession to the throne, after which event she bestowed it on Sir Christopher Hatton. The town does not possess any remarkable object except its Church, which is spacious and lofty. The population, at the last census, was 1612.
Near this town, in the grounds of Thornhill House, a mansion once the property of Sir James Thornhill, the celebrated painter, is a neat Obelisk, about 50 feet high, standing on a square base, within an iron railing, and surmounted by a gilt ball and cross, erected by the artist in memory of George I, and usually called Thornhill Spire.
About three miles from Sturminster are two considerable eminences, divided from each other by a deep and narrow valley; one of these is called Hambledon Hill, and the other Hod Hill, and on the summit of each are the remains of an ancient Encampment, conjectured by some antiquaries to have been formed by the Romans, while by others they are attributed to the Danes.
WAREHAM. This town stands between the rivers Frome and Piddle, (over each of which it has a Bridge, the former a handsome modern structure of Purbeck stone), at a short distance from Poole Harbour, and
is 112 miles from London. Its antiquity is very great; several Barrows in the neighbourhood lead to the conclusion that it was a British town; and a Roman road leading from hence directly to Dorchester, with the discovery of many coins near this spot, justify the conclusion that it was also a station of those conquerors. It appears to have been a place of some importance in the Saxon times; and suffered greatly from the Danish invaders, by whom it was repeatedly ravaged, between 870 and 1020. After the latter period it appears to have enjoyed tranquillity until about 1140, when both the town and Castle were taken and burnt, during the contest between Stephen and the Empress Maud. We meet with no other remarkable incident in its history until the Civil War in the seventeenth century, at the beginning of which it was fortified and garrisoned for the Parliament, was afterwards taken by the Royalists, and finally retaken by its former possessors. A dreadful fire destroyed the greater part of the town in 1762, but a liberal public subscription supplied the means of reedifying it, and its appearance is now neat and uniform; the buildings are mostly of brick, the streets are wide, and generally intersect each other at right angles. It stands on a rising ground, and is enclosed, except on the south side, by a high earthen wall or rampart, between which and the present streets is an extensive plot of ground, now mostly occupied as gardens, but formerly the site of houses, whose foundations are still visible.
Wareham at various periods has received several privileges; by Athelstan it was honoured with two mints; in the reign of Edward I it first sent two Members to Parliament, which it has continued to do, down to the present period; Queen Elizabeth granted a Charter of Incorporation, which, however, appears to have been neglected, and the Charter by which it is now governed was obtained from Queen Anne in 1703, and directs the appointment of a Mayor, Burgesses, and some inferior officers. The ancient records of the town perished in the fire abovementioned.
Wareham had anciently eight (or, according to some accounts, seventeen) Churches, of which only three now remain. $t. Mary's, a spacious and venerable edifice, is the principal; and a Chapel attached to its southern aisle, is believed to have been the place of interment of some of the Saxon Kings. The Rev. J. Hutchins, author of the voluminous “ History and Antiquities of Dorset,” is buried in this Church, of which he was many years Rector. Holy Trinity is ancient, but does not contain anything worth notice; and the same remark will apply to St. Martin's. Two Meeting-houses for Dissenters are established here; and here is also a Free School; a Charity School; an Alms-house, of ancient foundation, rebuilt in 1741, which maintains eleven poor persons; and several minor charitable institutions and bequests.
Of the Priory, founded here about 700, and the Castle, which stood in a place still called Castle Close, scarcely a vestige is now visible. A building, formerly St. Peter's Church, has been converted into a Town Hall, a School House, and a Gaol.
The trade of Wareham was anciently considerable, and it has a good Quay; but the Harbour is now nearly choked up, and almost the only export from hence is pipe-clay, of which very large quantities are dug in the neighbourhood, and sent to London, Liverpool, and other places, for the supply of the potteries. The population of the town, in 1821, was 1931 persons.
On the opposite side of the Frome is the small vil. lage of Stowborough, traditionally reported to have been the principal town of the two, although now containing only about 200 inhabitants; it was governed by a Mayor until the beginning of the last century, but the dignity has since fallen into disuse. Near this place a large Barrow, called King Barrow, formerly existed, but was destroyed in forming a new road, in 1767. In removing it, some human bones, enclosed in the skin of an animal, and a small oaken vessel, were discovered; from these, and some other circumstances, it was conjectured to have been the burying-place of a British chieftain.
WEYMOUTH AND MELCOMBE REGIS. These towns are situated, the former on the southern, and the latter on the northern bank of the river Wey, which here discharges itself into the Chapnel, and is crossed by a Bridge, which unites