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14.30 I was how. Beckenham Church, Kent.
The parish of Beckenham lends its is an enticing field-path to Beckenham; but
to the hundred, which is in the occasional sights of noble treesi *kept us lath of Sutton-at-Hone. It is ten miles along the high road, till the ring of the from London, two miles north from Brom-' blacksmith's hammer signalled that we were ley, and, according to the last census, con close upon the village. We wounds through tains 196 houses and 1180 inhabitants. it at a slow pace, vainly longing for someThe living is a rectory valued in the king's thing to realize the expectations raised by books at 161. 188. 9d. The church is dedi- the prospect of it on our way. Iconit cated to St. George.
Beckenham consists of two or three old Beyond “ Chaffinch's River" there farm-like looking houses, rudely encroached Vol. 1.-25.
upon by a number of irregularly built search of the church-keys at the parish-clerk's, dwellings, and a couple of inns; one of from whence I was directed back again, to them of so much apparent consequence, as
“the woman who has the care of the church," to dignify the place. We soon came to an and lives in the furthest of three neat edifice which, by its publicity, startles the almshouses, built at the church-yard side, feelings of the passenger in this, as in by the private benefaction of Anthony almost every other parish, and has perhaps Rawlings, in 1694. She gladly accomgreater tendency to harden than reform the panied us, with the keys clinking, through rustic offender—the “cage,” with its acces ihe mournful yew-tree grove, and threw sory, the “pound.” An angular turn in open the great south doors of the church. the road, from these lodgings for men and It is an old edifice-despoiled of its ancient cattle when they go astray, afforded us a font-deprived, by former beautifyings, of sudden and delightful view of
carvings and tombs that in these times
would have been remarkable. It has rem“ The decent church that tops the neighb'ring hill."
nants of brasses over the burial places of On the right, an old, broad, high wall, deceased rectors and gentry, from whence flanked with thick buttresses, and belted dates have been wantonly erased, and with magnificent trees, climbs the steep, to monuments of more modern personages, enclose the domain of I know not whom ; which a few years may equally deprave. on the opposite side, the branches, from a There are numerous memorials of the plantation, arch beyond the footpath. At late possessors of Langley, a predominant the summit of the ascent is the village estate in Beckenham. One in particular church with its whitened spire, crowning to sir Humphry Style, records that he was of and pinnacl'ing this pleasant grove, point- great fame, in his day and generation, in ing from amidst the graves—like man's last Beckenham : he was "Owner of Langley in only hope towards heaven.
this parish, Knight and Baronet of England This village spire is degradingly noticed and Ireland, a gentleman of the privy in “ An accurate Description of Bromley chamber in ordinary to James I, one of and Five Miles round, by Thomas Wilson, the cupbearers in ordinary to King Charles, 1797." He
says, “ An extraordinary cir and by them boath intrusted with the cumstance happened here near Christmas, weighty affairs of this countye: Hee was 1791 ; the steeple of this church was de justice of peace and quorum, Deputy lieftestroyed by lightning, but a new one was nant, and alsoe (an hono's not formerly put up in 1796, made of copper, in the conferred upon any) made. Coronell of all form of an extinguisher.”. The old spire, the trayned band horse thereof." built of shingles, was fired on the morning The possession of Langley may be traced, of the 23d of December, in the year seven through the monuments, to its last herita teen hundred and ninety, in a dreadful able occupant, commemorated by an instorm. One of the effects of it in London I scription ; “ Sacred to the Memory of perfectly remember :-the copper roofing Peter Burrell
, Baron Gwydir, of Gwydir, of the new “ Stone Buildings” in Lincoln's Deputy Great Chamberlain of England, Inn was stripped off by the wind, and vio. Born July 16, 1754; Died at Brighton, lently carried over the opposite. range of June 29th, 1820, aged 66 years." After high buildings, the Six Clerks' offices, into the death of this nobleman Langley was Chancery Lane, where I saw the immense sold. The poor of Beckenham speak his sheet of metal lying in the carriage way, praise, and lament that his charities died exactly as it fell, rolled up, with as much with him. The alienation of the estate deneatness as if it had been executed by prived them of a benevolent protector,
and inachinery. As regards the present spire no one has arisen to succeed him in the of Beckenham church, its "form," in rela- character of a kind-hearted benefactor. tion to its place, is the most appropriate A tablet in this church, to “Harriet, wife that could have been devised—a picturesque of (the present) J. G. Lambton, Esq. of object, that marks the situation of the vil Lambton Hall, Durham,” relates that she lage in the forest landscape many miles died “in her twenty-fifth year.” round, and indescribably graces the nearer Within the church, fixed against the view.
northern corner of the west end, is a plate We soon came up to the corpse-gate of of copper, bearing an inscription to this the church-yard, and I left W. sketching it, * import :- Mary Wragg, of St. John's, Westwhilst I retraced my steps into the village in minster, bequeathed 15l. per annum for
ever to the curate of Beckenham, in trust * Mr. W.'s engraving of his sketch is on p. 715. for the following uses ; viz, a guinea to
himself for his trouble in taking care that open slit left between the back and the top her family vault should be kept in good enclosure of the lower half; which part, thus repair ; a guinea to be expended in a dinner shut up, forms a box, that conceals from for himself, and the clerk, and parish offi- both eye and hand the money deposited. cers; 121. 108. to defray the expenses of The contrivance might be advantageously such repairs; if in any year the vault adopted in making collections at the doors should not require repair, the money to be of churches generally. It is a complete laid out in eighteen 'pennyworth of good security against the possibility of money beef, eighteen pennyworth of good bread, being withdrawn instead of given ; which, five shillings worth of coals, and 48. 6d. in from the practice of holding open plates, money, to be given to each of twenty of and the ingenuity of sharpers, has somethe poorest inhabitants of the parish; if times happened. repairs should be required, the money left In the middle of two family pews of this to be laid out in like manner and quantity, church, which are as commodious as sitting with 4s. 6d. 1o as many as it will extend parlours, there are two ancient reading to; and the remaining 8s. to be given to desks like large music stands, with flaps the clerk. In consequence of Mary Wragg's and locks for holding and securing the serbequest, her vault in the church-yard is vice books when they are not in use. These properly maintained, and distribution made pieces of furniture are either obsolete in of beef, bread, and money, every 28th of churches, or peculiar to that of Beckenham; January. On this occasion there is usually at least I never saw desks of the like in a large attendance of spectators; as many any other church. as please go down into the vault, and the Not discovering any thing further to reparochial authorities of Beckenham have a mark within the edifice, except its peal of holiday, and “ keep wassel.”
five bells, we strolled among the tombs in There is carefully kept in this church a the church-yard, which offers no inscripsmall wooden hand-box, of remarkable tions worth notice. From its solemn yewe shape, made in king William's time, for the tree grove we passed through the “ Lichreceipt of contributions from the congrega- gate," already described. On our return tion when there are collections.
to the road by which we had approached ecclesiastical utensil with which I was un the church, and at a convenient spot, W. acquainted, W. took a drawing, and has sketched the view he so freely represents in made an engraving of it.
the engraving. The melodists of the groves were in full song. As the note of the parish-clerk rises in the psalm above the common voice of the congregation, so the loud, confident note of the blackbird exceeds the united sound of the woodland choir : one of these birds, on a near tree, whistled with all his might, as if conscious of our listening, and desirous of particular disa tinction.
Wishing to reach home by a different route than that we had come, we desired to be acquainted with the way we should go, and went again to the almshouses which are occupied by three poor widows, of whom our attendant to the church was one. She was alone in her humble babitation making tea, with the tokens of her officebearing, the church keys, on the table before her. In addition to the required information, we. elicited that she was the widow of Benjamin Wood, the late parishclerk. His brother, a respectable trades
man in London, had raised an excellent This collecting-box is still used. It is business, “ Wood's eating-house," at the carried into the pews, and handed to the corner of Seething-lane, Tower-street, and occupants, who drop any thing or nothing, at his decease was enabled to provide comas they please, into the upper part. When fortably for his family. Wood, the parishmoney is received, it passes through an clerk, had served Beckenham in that capa.
city many years till his death, which left We led dame Wood to talk of her (dohis widow indigent, and threw her on the mestic management," and finding she cold charity of a careless world. She brewed her own beer with the common seems to have outlived the recollection of utensils and fire-place of her little room, her husband's relatives. After his death we asked her to describe her method : a she struggled her way into this alms- tin kettle is her boiler, she mashes in a house, and gained an allowance of two common butter-firkin, runs off the liquor shillings a week; and on this, with the in a "crock," and tuns it in a small-beertrifle allowed for her services in keeping barrel. She is of opinion that “poor peoclean the church, at past threescore years ple might do a great deal for themselves if and ten, she somehow or other contrives to they knew how : but,” says she,
66 where exist.
there's a will, there's a way.”
A font often denotes the antiquity, and of the parish " call a “font !" The oddfrequently determines the former import- looking thing was a present ” from a ance of the church, and is so essential a parishioner, in lieu of ihe ancient stone part of the edifice, that it is incomplete font which, when the church was repaired without one. According to the rubrick, a after the lightning-storm, was carried away church may be without a pulpit, but not by Mr. churchwarden Bassett, and placed without a font; hence, almost the first in his yard. It was afterwards sold to thing I look for in an old church is its old Mr. Henry Holland, the former landlord of stone font. Instead thereof, at Beckenham, the “Old Crooked Billet," on Penge Comis a thick wooden baluster, with an un. mon, who used it for several years as a seemly circular Alat lid, covering a sort of cistern, and the present landlord has it now wash-hand-basin, and this the “gentlemen in his garden, where it appears as repre
Fine gard'ner, Ben Carter
For Proserpine's orchards ;
That fill up the church-yards.
And, lusty as Dido,
By Stygian hid ford;
Lurks by Avernus ;
Almost did burn uş.
But this day, Fanny Hutton
She died, as the dunce died;
Nor I, well, nor you know;
* Who sat up with him. + I have this fact from Parental tradition only,
Death lengthenis people to the eye.