Picture of Paul Hentzner

Paul Hentzner

places mentioned

A tour to Cambridge, Oxford and Windsor

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We left London in a coach, in order to see the remarkable places in its neighbourhood.

The first was Theobalds, belonging to Lord Burleigh, the Treasurer. In the gallery was painted the genealogy of the Kings of England; from this place one goes into the garden, encompassed with a ditch full of water, large enough for one to have the pleasure of going in a boat and rowing between the shrubs; here are great variety of trees and plants, labyrinths made with a great deal of labour, a JET D'EAU, with its basin of white marble, and columns and pyramids of wood and other materials up and down the garden. After seeing these, we were led by the gardener into the summer-house, in the lower part of which, built semicircularly, are the twelve Roman emperors in white marble, and a table of touchstone; the upper part of it is set round with cisterns of lead, into which the water is conveyed through pipes, so that fish may be kept in them, and in summer-time they are very convenient for bathing. In another room for entertainment, very near this, and joined to it by a little bridge, was an oval table of red marble. We were not admitted to see the apartments of this palace, there being nobody to show it, as the family was in town, attending the funeral of their lord.10

Hoddesdon, a village.

Ware, a market town.

Puckeridge, a village; this was the first place where we observed that the beds at inns were made by the waiters.

Camboritum, Cantabrigium and Cantabrigia, now called Cambridge, a celebrated town, so named from the river Cam, which after washing the western side, playing through islands, turns to the east, and divides the town into two parts, which are joined by a bridge, whence its modern name—formerly it had the Saxon one of Grantbridge. Beyond this bridge is an ancient and large castle, said to be built by the Danes: on this side, where far the greater part of the town stands, all is splendid; the streets fine, the churches numerous, and those seats of the Muses, the colleges, most beautiful; in these a great number of learned men are supported, and the studies of all polite sciences and languages flourish.

I think proper to mention some few things about the foundation of this University and its colleges. Cantaber, a Spaniard, is thought to have first instituted this academy 375 years before Christ, and Sebert, King of the East Angles, to have restored it A.D. 630. It was afterwards subverted in the confusion under the Danes, and lay long neglected, till upon the Norman Conquest everything began to brighten up again: from that time inns and halls for the convenient lodging of students began to be built, but without any revenues annexed to them.

The first college, called Peter House, was built and endowed by Hugh Balsam, Bishop of Ely, A.D. 1280; and, in imitation of him, Richard Badew, with the assistance of Elizabeth Burke, Countess of Clare and Ulster, founded Clare Hall in 1326; Mary de St. Paul, Countess of Pembroke, Pembroke Hall in 1343; the Monks of Corpus Christi, the college of the same name, though it has besides that of Bennet; John Craudene, Trinity Hall, 1354; Edmond Gonville, in 1348, and John Caius, a physician in our times, Gonville and Caius College; King Henry VI., King's College, in 1441, adding to it a chapel that may justly claim a place among the most beautiful buildings in the world. On its right side is a fine library, where we saw the "Book of Psalms" in manuscript, upon parchment four spans in length and three broad, taken from the Spaniards at the siege of Cadiz, and thence brought into England with other rich spoils. Margaret of Anjou, his wife, founded Queen's College, 1448, at the same time that John Alcock, Bishop of Ely, built Jesus College; Robert Woodlarke, Catherine Hall; Margaret of Richmond, mother of King Henry VII., Christ's and St. John's Colleges, about 1506; Thomas Audley, Chancellor of England, Magdalen College, much increased since both in buildings and revenue by Christopher Wray, Lord Chief Justice; and the most potent King Henry VIII. erected Trinity College for religion and polite letters—in its chapel is the tomb of Dr. Whitacre, with an inscription in gold letters upon marble; Emanuel College, built in our own times by the most honourable and prudent Sir Walter Mildmay, one of Her Majesty's Privy Council; and lastly, Sidney College, now first building by the executors of the Lady Frances Sidney,11 Countess of Sussex.

We must note here that there is certain sect in England called Puritans; these, according to the doctrine of the Church of Geneva, reject all ceremonies anciently held, and admit of neither organs nor tombs in their places of worship, and entirely abhor all difference in rank among Churchmen, such as bishops, deans, &c.; they were first named Puritans by the Jesuit Sandys. They do not live separate, but mix with those of the Church of England in the colleges.

Potton, a village.

Ampthill, a town; here we saw immense numbers of rabbits, which are reckoned as good as hares, and are very well tasted.

We passed through the towns of Woburn, Leighton, Aylesbury, and Wheatley.

Oxonium, Oxford, the famed Athens of England; that glorious seminary of learning and wisdom, whence religion, politeness, and letters, are abundantly dispersed into all parts of the kingdom. The town is remarkably fine, whether you consider the elegance of its private buildings, the magnificence of its public ones, or the beauty and wholesomeness of its situation, which is on a plain, encompassed in such a manner with hills, shaded with wood, as to be sheltered on the one hand from the sickly south, and on the other from the blustering west, but open to the east, that blows serene weather, and to the north, the preventer of corruption, from which, in the opinion of some, it formerly obtained the appellation of Bellositum. This town is watered by two rivers, the Cherwell and the Isis, vulgarly called the Ouse; and though these streams join in the same channel, yet the Isis runs more entire and with more rapidity towards the south, retaining its name till it meets the Thame, which it seems long to have sought, at Wallingford; thence, called by the compound name of Thames, it flows the prince of all British rivers, of whom we may justly say, as the ancients did of the Euphrates, that it both sows and waters England.

The colleges in this famous University are as follows:—

In the reign of Henry III., Walter Merton, Bishop of Rochester, removed the college he had founded in Surrey, 1274, to Oxford, enriched it, and named it Merton College; and soon after, William, Archdeacon of Durham, restored, with additions, that building of Alfred's now called University College; in the reign of Edward I., John Baliol, King of Scotland, or, as some will have it, his parents, founded Baliol College; in the reign of Edward II., Walter Stapleton, Bishop of Exeter, founded Exeter College and Hart Hall; and, in imitation of him, the King, King's College, commonly called Oriel, and St. Mary's Hall; next, Philippa, wife of Edward III., built Queen's College; and Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, Canterbury College; William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, raised that magnificent structure called New College; Magdalen College was built by William Wainflete, Bishop of Winchester, a noble edifice, finely situated and delightful for its walks; at the same time, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, that great encourager of learning, built the Divinity School very splendidly, and over it a library, to which he gave an hundred and twenty-nine very choice books, purchased at a great price from Italy, but the public has long since been robbed of the use of them by the avarice of particulars: Lincoln College; All Souls' College; St. Bernard's College; Brazen-Nose College, founded by William Smith, Bishop of Lincoln, in the reign of Henry VII.; its revenues were augmented by Alexander Nowel, Dean of St. Paul's, London; upon the gate of this college is fixed a nose of brass; Corpus Christi College, built by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester—under his picture in the College chapel are lines importing that it is the exact representation of his person and dress.

Christ's Church, the largest and most elegant of them all, was begun on the ground of St. Frideswide's Monastery, by Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal of York, to which Henry VIII. joined Canterbury College, settled great revenues upon it, and named it Christ's Church; the same great prince, out of his own treasury, to the dignity of the town and ornament of the University, made the one a bishoprie, and instituted professorships in the other.

Jesus College, built by Hugh Price, Doctor of Laws.

That fine edifice, the Public Schools, was entirely raised by Queen Mary, and adorned with various inscriptions.

Thus far of the colleges and halls, which for the beauty of their buildings, their rich endowments, and copious libraries, excel all the academies in the Christian world. We shall add a little of the academies themselves, and those that inhabit them.

These students lead a life almost monastic; for as the monks had nothing in the world to do but when they had said their prayers at stated hours to employ themselves in instructive studies, no more have these. They are divided into three tables: the first is called the Fellows' table, to which are admitted earls, barons, gentlemen, doctors, and Masters of Arts, but very few of the latter—this is more plentifully and expensively served than the others; the second is for Masters of Arts, Bachelors, some gentlemen, and eminent citizens; the third for people of low condition. While the rest are at dinner or supper in a great hall, where they are all assembled, one of the students reads aloud the Bible, which is placed on a desk in the middle of the hall, and this office every one of them takes upon himself in his turn. As soon as grace is said after each meal, every one is at liberty either to retire to his own chambers or to walk in the College garden, there being none that has not a delightful one. Their habit is almost the same as that of the Jesuits, their gowns reaching down to their ankles, sometimes lined with fur; they wear square caps. The doctors, Masters of Arts, and professors, have another kind of gown that distinguishes them. Every student of any considerable standing has a key to the College library, for no college is without one.

In an out-part of the town are the remains of a pretty large fortification, but quite in ruins. We were entertained at supper with an excellent concert, composed of a variety of instruments.

The next day we went as far as the Royal Palace of Woodstock, where King Ethelred formerly held a Parliament, and enacted certain laws. This palace, abounding in magnificence, was built by Henry I., to which he joined a very large park, enclosed with a wall; according to John Rosse, the first park in England. In this very palace the present reigning Queen Elizabeth, before she was confined to the Tower, was kept prisoner by her sister Mary. While she was detained here, in the utmost peril of her life, she wrote with a piece of charcoal the following verse, composed by herself, upon a window shutter:—

"O Fortune! how thy restless wavering state
Hath fraught with cares my troubled wit!
Witness this present prison whither fate
Hath borne me, and the joys I quit.
Thou causedest the guilty to be loosed
From bands wherewith are innocents enclosed;
Causing the guiltless to be strait reserved,
And freeing those that death had well deserved:
But by her envy can be nothing wrought,
So God send to my foes all they have thought.
A.D., M.D.L.V."
"Elizabeth, Prisoner.

Not far from this palace are to be seen, near a spring of the brightest water, the ruins of the habitation of Rosamond Clifford, whose exquisite beauty so entirely captivated the heart of King Henry II. that he lost the thought of all other women; she is said to have been poisoned at last by the Queen. All that remains of her tomb of stone, the letters of which are almost worn out, is the following:—

" . . . Adorent,
Utque tibi detur requies Rosamunda precamur."

The rhyming epitaph following was probably the performance of some monk:—

"Hic jacet in tumba Rosamundi non Rosamunda,
Non redolet sed olet, quae redolere solet."

Returning from hence to Oxford, after dinner we proceeded on our journey, and passed through Ewhelme, a royal palace, in which some alms-people are supported by an allowance from the Crown.

Nettlebed, a village.

We went through the little town of Henley; from hence the Chiltern Hills bear north in a continued ridge, and divide the counties of Oxford and Buckingham.

We passed Maidenhead.

Windsor, a royal castle, supposed to have been begun by King Arthur, its buildings much increased by Edward III. The situation is entirely worthy of being a royal residence, a more beautiful being scarce to be found; for, from the brow of a gentle rising, it enjoys the prospect of an even and green country; its front commands a valley extended every way, and chequered with arable lands and pasturage, clothed up and down with groves, and watered by that gentlest of rivers, the Thames; behind rise several hills, but neither steep nor very high, crowned with woods, and seeming designed by Nature herself for the purpose of hunting.

The Kings of England, invited by the deliciousness of the place, very often retire hither; and here was born the conqueror of France, the glorious King Edward III., who built the castle new from the ground, and thoroughly fortified it with trenches, and towers of square stone, and, having soon after subdued in battle John, King of France, and David, King of Scotland, he detained them both prisoners here at the same time. This castle, besides being the Royal Palace, and having some magnificent tombs of the Kings of England, is famous for the ceremonies belonging to the Knights of the Garter. This Order was instituted by Edward III., the same who triumphed so illustriously over John, King of France. The Knights of the Garter are strictly chosen for their military virtues, and antiquity of family; they are bound by solemn oath and vow to mutual and perpetual friendship among themselves, and to the not avoiding any danger whatever, or even death itself, to support, by their joint endeavours, the honour of the Society; they are styled Companions of the Garter, from their wearing below the left knee a purple garter, inscribed in letters of gold with "HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE," I.E., "Evil to him that evil thinks." This they wear upon the left leg, in memory of one which, happening to untie, was let fall by a great lady, passionately beloved by Edward, while she was dancing, and was immediately snatched up by the King, who, to do honour to the lady, not out of any trifling gallantry, but with a most serious and honourable purpose, dedicated it to the legs of the most distinguished nobility. The ceremonies of this Society are celebrated every year at Windsor on St. George's Day, the tutelar saint of the Order, the King presiding; and the custom is that the Knights Companions should hang up their helmet and shield, with their arms blazoned on it, in some conspicuous part of the church.

There are three principal and very large courts in Windsor Castle, which give great pleasure to the beholders: the first is enclosed with most elegant buildings of white stone, flat-roofed, and covered with lead; here the Knights of the Garter are lodged; in the middle is a detached house, remarkable for its high tower, which the governor inhabits. In this is the public kitchen, well furnished with proper utensils, besides a spacious dining-room, where all the poor Knights eat at the same table, for into this Society of the Garter, the King and Sovereign elects, at his own choice, certain persons, who must be gentlemen of three descents, and such as, for their age and the straitness of their fortunes, are fitter for saying their prayers than for the service of war; to each of them is assigned a pension of eighteen pounds per annum and clothes. The chief institution of so magnificent a foundation is, that they should say their daily prayers to God for the King's safety, and the happy administration for the kingdom, to which purpose they attend the service, meeting twice every day at chapel. The left side of this court is ornamented by a most magnificent chapel of one hundred and thirty-four paces in length, and sixteen in breadth; in this are eighteen seats fitted up in the time of Edward III. for an equal number of Knights: this venerable building is decorated with the noble monuments of Edward IV., Henry VI., and VIII., and of his wife Queen Jane. It receives from royal liberality the annual income of two thousand pounds, and that still much increased by the munificence of Edward III. and Henry VII. The greatest princes in Christendom have taken it for the highest honour to be admitted into the Order of the Garter; and since its first institution about twenty kings, besides those of England, who are the sovereigns of it, not to mention dukes and persons of the greatest figure, have been of it. It consists of twenty-six Companions.

In the inward choir of the chapel are hung up sixteen coats-of-arms, swords, and banners; among which are those of Charles V. and Rodolphus II., Emperors; of Philip of Spain; Henry III. of France; Frederic II. of Denmark, &c.; of Casimir, Count Palatine of the Rhine; and other Christian princes who have been chosen into this Order.

In the back choir, or additional chapel, are shown preparations made by Cardinal Wolsey, who was afterwards capitally punished,12 for his own tomb; consisting of eight large brazen columns placed round it, and nearer the tomb four others in the shape of candlesticks; the tomb itself is of white and black marble; all which are reserved, according to report, for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth; the expenses already made for that purpose are estimated at upwards of 60,000 pounds. In the same chapel is the surcoat13 of Edward III., and the tomb of Edward Fynes, Earl of Lincoln, Baron Clinton and Say, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and formerly Lord High Admiral of England.

The second court of Windsor Castle stands upon higher ground, and is enclosed with walls of great strength, and beautified with fine buildings and a tower; it was an ancient castle, of which old annals speak in this manner: King Edward, A.D. 1359, began a new building in that part of the Castle of Windsor where he was born; for which reason he took care it should be decorated with larger and finer edifices than the rest. In this part were kept prisoners John, King of France, and David, King of Scots, over whom Edward triumphed at one and the same time: it was by their advice, struck with the advantage of its situation, and with the sums paid for their ransom, that by degrees this castle stretched to such magnificence, as to appear no longer a fortress, but a town of proper extent, and inexpugnable to any human force. This particular part of the castle was built at the sole expense of the King of Scotland, except one tower, which, from its having been erected by the Bishop of Winchester, Prelate of the Order, is called Winchester Tower;14 there are a hundred steps to it, so ingeniously contrived that horses can easily ascend them; it is a hundred and fifty paces in circuit; within it are preserved all manner of arms necessary for the defence of the place.

The third court is much the largest of any, built at the expense of the captive King of France; as it stands higher, so it greatly excels the two former in splendour and elegance; it has one hundred and forty-eight paces in length, and ninety-seven in breadth; in the middle of it is a fountain of very clear water, brought under ground, at an excessive expense, from the distance of four miles. Towards the east are magnificent apartments destined for the royal household; towards the west is a tennis-court for the amusement of the Court; on the north side are the royal apartments, consisting of magnificent chambers, halls, and bathing-rooms,15 and a private chapel, the roof of which is embellished with golden roses and FLEURS-DE-LIS: in this, too, is that very large banqueting-room, seventy-eight paces long, and thirty wide, in which the Knights of the Garter annually celebrate the memory of their tutelar saint, St. George, with a solemn and most pompous service.

From hence runs a walk of incredible beauty, three hundred and eighty paces in length, set round on every side with supporters of wood, which sustain a balcony, from whence the nobility and persons of distinction can take the pleasure of seeing hunting and hawking in a lawn of sufficient space; for the fields and meadows, clad with variety of plants and flowers, swell gradually into hills of perpetual verdure quite up to the castle, and at bottom stretch out in an extended plain, that strikes the beholders with delight.

Besides what has been already mentioned, there are worthy of notice here two bathing-rooms, ceiled and wainscoted with looking-glass; the chamber in which Henry VI. was born; Queen Elizabeth's bedchamber, where is a table of red marble with white streaks; a gallery everywhere ornamented with emblems and figures; a chamber in which are the royal beds of Henry VII. and his Queen, of Edward VI., of Henry VIII., and of Anne Boleyn, all of them eleven feet square, and covered with quilts shining with gold and silver; Queen Elizabeth's bed, with curious coverings of embroidery, but not quite so long or large as the others; a piece of tapestry, in which is represented Clovis, King of France, with an angel presenting to him the FLEURS-DE-LIS to be borne in his arms; for before his time the Kings of France bore three toads in their shield, instead of which they afterwards placed three FLEURS-DE-LIS on a blue field; this antique tapestry is said to have been taken from a King of France, while the English were masters there. We were shown here, among other things, the horn of a unicorn, of above eight spans and a half in length, valued at above 10,000 pounds; the bird of paradise, three spans long, three fingers broad, having a blue bill of the length of half an inch, the upper part of its head yellow, the nether part of a . . . colour;16 a little lower from either side of its throat stick out some reddish feathers, as well as from its back and the rest of its body; its wings, of a yellow colour, are twice as long as the bird itself; from its back grow out lengthways two fibres or nerves, bigger at their ends, but like a pretty strong thread, of a leaden colour, inclining to black, with which, as it has not feet, it is said to fasten itself to trees when it wants to rest; a cushion most curiously wrought by Queen Elizabeth's own hands.

In the precincts of Windsor, on the other side the Thames, both whose banks are joined by a bridge of wood, is Eton, a well-built College, and famous school for polite letters, founded by Henry VI.; where, besides a master, eight fellows and chanters, sixty boys are maintained gratis. They are taught grammar, and remain in the school till, upon trial made of their genius and progress in study, they are sent to the University of Cambridge.

As we were returning to our inn, we happened to meet some country people CELEBRATING THEIR HARVEST HOME; their last load of corn they crown with flowers, having besides an image richly dressed, by which, perhaps, they would signify Ceres; this they keep moving about, while men and women, men and maid servants, riding through the streets in the cart, shout as loud as they can till they arrive at the barn. The farmers here do not bind up their corn in sheaves, as they do with us, but directly as they have reaped or mowed it, put it into carts, and convey it into their barns.

We went through the town of Staines.

Hampton Court, a Royal Palace, magnificently built with brick by Cardinal Wolsey in ostentation of his wealth, where he enclosed five very ample courts, consisting of noble edifices in very beautiful work. Over the gate in the second area is the Queen's device, a golden Rose, with this motto, "Dieu et mon Droit:" on the inward side of this gate are the effigies of the twelve Roman Emperors in plaster. The chief area is paved with square stone; in its centre is a fountain that throws up water, covered with a gilt crown, on the top of which is a statue of Justice, supported by columns of black and white marble. The chapel of this palace is most splendid, in which the Queen's closet is quite transparent, having its window of crystal. We were led into two chambers, called the presence, or chambers of audience, which shone with tapestry of gold and silver and silk of different colours: under the canopy of state are these words embroidered in pearl, "VIVAT HENRICUS OCTAVUS." Here is besides a small chapel richly hung with tapestry, where the Queen performs her devotions. In her bedchamber the bed was covered with very costly coverlids of silk: at no great distance from this room we were shown a bed, the tester of which was worked by Anne Boleyn, and presented by her to her husband Henry VIII. All the other rooms, being very numerous, are adorned with tapestry of gold, silver, and velvet, in some of which were woven history pieces; in others, Turkish and American dresses, all extremely natural.

In the hall are these curiosities:

A very clear looking-glass, ornamented with columns and little images of alabaster; a portrait of Edward VI., brother to Queen Elizabeth; the true portrait of Lucretia; a picture of the battle of Pavia; the history of Christ's passion, carved in mother-of-pearl; the portraits of Mary Queen of Scots, who was beheaded, and her daughter;17 the picture of Ferdinand, Prince of Spain, and of Philip his son; that of Henry VIII.—under it was placed the Bible curiously written upon parchment; an artificial sphere; several musical instruments; in the tapestry are represented negroes riding upon elephants. The bed in which Edward VI. is said to have been born, and where his mother Jane Seymour died in child-bed. In one chamber were several excessively rich tapestries, which are hung up when the Queen gives audience to foreign ambassadors; there were numbers of cushions ornamented with gold and silver; many counterpanes and coverlids of beds lined with ermine: in short, all the walls of the palace shine with gold and silver. Here is besides a certain cabinet called Paradise, where besides that everything glitters so with silver, gold, and jewels, as to dazzle one's eyes, there is a musical instrument made all of glass, except the strings. Afterwards we were led into the gardens, which are most pleasant; here we saw rosemary so planted and nailed to the walls as to cover them entirely, which is a method exceeding common in England.

Kingston, a market town.

Nonesuch, a royal retreat, in a place formerly called Cuddington, a very healthful situation, chosen by King Henry VIII. for his pleasure and retirement, and built by him with an excess of magnificence and elegance, even to ostentation: one would imagine everything that architecture can perform to have been employed in this one work. There are everywhere so many statues that seem to breathe so many miracles of consummate art, so many casts that rival even the perfection of Roman antiquity, that it may well claim and justify its name of Nonesuch, being without an equal; or as the post sung:—

"This, which no equal has in art or fame,
Britons deservedly do NONESUCH name."

The palace itself is so encompassed with parks full of deer, delicious gardens, groves ornamented with trellis-work, cabinets of verdure, and walks so embrowned by trees, that it seems to be a place pitched upon by Pleasure herself, to dwell in along with Health.

In the pleasure and artificial gardens are many columns and pyramids of marble, two fountains that spout water one round the other like a pyramid, upon which are perched small birds that stream water out of their bills. In the Grove of Diana is a very agreeable fountain, with Actaeon turned into a stag, as he was sprinkled by the goddess and her nymphs, with inscriptions.

There is besides another pyramid of marble full of concealed pipes, which spurt upon all who come within their reach.

Returned from hence to London.

10 Lord Treasurer Burleigh died August 4, 1598.

11 She was the daughter, sister, and aunt, of Sir William, Henry, and Sir Philip Sidney.

12 This was a strange blunder to be made so near the time, about so remarkable a person, unless he concluded that whoever displeased Henry VIII. was of course put to death.

13 This is a mistake; it was the surcoat of Edward IV., enriched with rubies, and was preserved here till the civil war.

14 This is confounded with the Round Tower.

15 It is not clear what the author means by hypocaustis; I have translated it bathing-rooms; it might mean only chambers with stoves.

16 The original is optici; it is impossible to guess what colour he meant.

17 Here are several mistakes.

Paul Hentzner, Travels in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (London: Cassell, 1892)

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