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resemblance to the West-country steeples ends, for it is built of Aint, and midway in its height is a square opening called a sound-hole that is filled with tracery that is charmingly graceful; and it has not the open-traceried parapets that make the Somersetshire spires so alluring. The winds from the German ocean bleach and sweep this structure, and the waves keep up a constant psalm, effacing all remembrance of the deep repose of the inland districts. Some of the Norfolk and Suffolk flint churches are in ruins, and their steeples, clad with ivy, ornament the grounds of the wealthier residents. These counties have, however, almost a monopoly of steeples of a still more distinct character. Out of the 175 (more or less) examples to be found of round steeples in the breadth of the land, more than 160 are to be seen in Norfolk, Suffolk, and the adjoining counties; and the rest are to be met with at no great distance from them. They vary in diameter from seven feet to nearly twenty feet; but are all alike in so far as they are built with walls that are at least four feet thick, and have the entrance into them on the east side, which is only accessible from the nave. Several of them have been altered in the course of the centuries that have passed since their erection, and larger windows opened out in them than were at first inserted; nevertheless, looking at them as part of the works left us by those who have gone before us, they are still fraught with intrinsic charms and much venerable beauty.
Yorkshire steeples are built of freestone. Many of them are of great magnificence, not crumbling and hoary, and full of appeal like these old round towers, but erect, superb, proudly massive, and richly wrought, as at Beverley, Selby, Howden, Leeds, and Scarborough. Some humbler village examples are ornamented with four figures, probably intended for the four evangelists, instead of finials, at the termination of their height. Spennythorne steeple, for instance, is thus embellished.
Many of the old churches in the lake district have simple, grave, venerable steeples. Bowness, Grasmere, and Keswick owe much of their charm to this circumstance. The laminated stone of which they are built, and its earthy-grey tint, accord with the greenery and mountain scenery harmoniously ; and their staid stalwartness agrees with the traditions of the district. The steeples of the churches at Great Salkeld, Dearham, Newton Arlosh and Burgh-by-Sands are still more interesting, for these have been used as fortresses in old times. They are low, square, and sturdy, with walls of massive thickness, and with fenestration of precautionary dimensions. They
are similar in character to the numerous fortified church towers in Northumberland, and have a strong upper chamber, in which there is, generally, a place for a fire. They are built of sandstone.
Northumbrian church towers are of special interest, on account of this double duty exacted from them. It has been said, pithily, that they were “half house of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot.” They stand like sentinels in the villages along the border, and in those inland districts subject to visitation from enemies. Sometimes the vicarage-house has also a strong tower, and sometimes it has one and the church is without one. The oldest church steeples, built in Saxon times, are about twelve feet square ; those of Plantagenet times are larger, and measure about twenty feet either way. As in the case of the round towers of Norfolk and Suffolk, many of the narrow, slit-like windows first placed in them have been enlarged ; occasionally they have been filled in, and new ones pierced by the side of them, and the original ancient fenestration left for the archæologist of to-day to uncover. These warlike steeples may be seen at Ancroft, Ingram, Ponteland, Ilderton, Eglingham, Edlingham, Long Houghton, Lesbury, Bolam, Whittingham, Embleton, and Warkworth, as well as other places. According to the ancient laws of church tenure, in the case of Durham and its possessions, the steeple of a church was the fortress of a parish, and was kept in repair as such. The celebrated steeple of St. Nicholas's Church, Newcastleupon-Tyne, though absolutely used as a place of detention for the Scottish prisoners in 1694, is of a different character from these strong, square towers. It has three lofty stages, and is a hundred and ninety-three feet high. The lowermost stage, which measures thirty-six feet nine by thirty-five feet, is vaulted, and forms the main entrance into the church. The storey above it is occupied by the clock, and the third by the bells, of which there are nine. (One is called Pancake bell, and is rung every Shrove Tuesday evening. Another is the thief and reiver bell, and is rung before the annual fair, by way of notification that moss-troopers and other law-breakers may come into the town without danger of molestation.) Above these three stages is raised a square lantern on flying buttresses. There is a perforated battlement round the top of the tower, strengthened with eight turrets. And from a dozen crocketted pinnacles flash a dozen banner vanes, whilst above them all glitters another on the crown of the lantern.
On the other side of the Tweed there are steeples as strong and sturdy as those in Northumberland. They are lighted by openings not much larger than loopholes, and have corbelled out parapeis capable of being manned for their protection. Whitekirk Church, near Tyninghame, is a fine example. This ancient edifice has massive buttresses, corbie-stepped gables, a vaulted and seated porch, also corbie-gabled, and a very strong sombre square tower, with a great corbelled parapet. In the records relating to this legacy from former generations, it is written against the date, January 6, 1697: * Cam forth from Edinburgh a bell with a gilded cock and globe for the steeple of White Kirk, all the free gift of Sir John Baird.”
Here is a little low-lying ruddy town in the Midlands, with the houses built of red bricks, with red-tiled roofs, set in the deep green foliage of the heart of England - Nuneaton, in Warwickshire. There is a long street in it, called Abbey Street, which leads up to the remains of the old abbey or nunnery, and departing at right angles from this central way is Church Street, which leads to the mellow church and the antique vicarage. As you pass you are reminded that this is George Eliot's country; and past the school where she was once a little scholar, among the greenery at the end of the road, you will see the church steeple. It is a “Late” Church-that is to say, it was not built by Norman masons, or Plantagenet masons, but rather in those troubled times when the Red and White roses were contending for the crown ; and it has been much altered in more recent days. It is full of large, wide, lofty windows. At the west end rises the steeple in three high stages. At the south-east angle of it is a staircase-turret from which the belfry is approached, and at the other angles are small pinnacles. The summit is finished with a plain embrasured parapet. There is a trembling rumbling of looms in most of the latticed upperrooms of the red-walled and red-roofed cottages in this neighbourhood, and there is a factory here and there, with a stir of coming and going ; nevertheless, when the bells are not calling, there is a deep peace in the grassy, daisied churchyard in which the fabric stands, and the staid, composed, self-reliant steeple seems the centre from which it emanates.
Here and there, steeples are built at a little distance from the church, sometimes within half a dozen feet of them, and sometimes separated from them by a wide space of the churchyard. These departures from the general rule occur in various parts of the country. There are examples in Norfolk, as at East Dereham and West Walton ; several in Herefordshire, some simple, as at Holmer, some superb, as at Ledbury ; and several in the adjoining counties ; and at least half a dozen in Cornwall, of which those at Gwennap and Illogan are of much interest. Standing so pathetically apart, they seem to have a special attraction for us.
Mention has been made of square and round towers. We have one triangular steeple, at Maldon in Essex ; and further varieties of outline in some that are octagonal, as at Sancton, in Yorkshire. There are others that are square at the lowest stage and rise into an octagonal form in the upper stages ; and there is the octagonal form that becomes a polygon in the upper stage. Many square towers have wide battered bases; others rise abruptly from their foundations without break. At Bodvari Church, in Denbighshire, the steeple has a splayed base, on the slope of which are several steps up to the western doorway. Many a grand old tower is now strengthened by the addition of a solitary robust buttress to support its failing strength. Warkworth Church steeple has been thus treated, and consequently handed down to us safely, very ripe, very hoary, toned with many discs of sea-green lichens, yet intact.
On certain days it is the custom for the choirs that belong to some churches to ascend their respective steeples, and sing anthems and hymns from their summits. This ceremony takes place annually, on Royal-oak day, at Durham Cathedral, when the Old Hundredth hymn is sung; and at Magdalen College, Oxford, on May-day, at five o'clock in the morning ; and also at St. Nicholas's, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on Whit-Monday, at ten o'clock in the morning, when the fine strains of the Hallelujah Chorus are wafted across the countless housetops in the streets, and over the great blackened keep of the castle, and over the myriads of mastheads in the river. Reginald, the Durham chronicler, tells of a monk who, keeping watch through the night in the cathedral, declared he saw three most glorious forms approach the altar from a misty distance, and there sing Alleluia, and heard them answered by a choir of many voices “chanting wondrous sweet," from another spot in the building, bright with tapers and perfumed with incense. It may be that this lonely watcher had witnessed some such ceremony as this steeple singing, and the remembrance of the white robes of the singers and the rising and falling of their cadences brought into his mind the thought of an angelic visitation ; just as a study of our old church steeples in their various aspects, situations, and combinations might bring into our own hearts a sense of the depth of the piety and vigour, and the height of the enterprise and aspirations that animated the endeavours of those who have gone before us. Various antiquaries have diligently examined church bells, and conned the legends of invocation and praise placed upon their lips, or rims, or haunches, by the old bell-founders : the treasuries that hold these mellow-tongued treasures are still more worthy of their attentive consideration.
A GARDEN IN THE TROPICS.
THE settled portion of Demerara is nothing but a mud flat, T on which it might be supposed there would be little scope for a garden. Nevertheless, on account of its fertility and the heavy rainfall, nowhere in the world can be found better examples of tropical luxuriance. Here the little bushes of European conservatories become immense shrubs and lofty trees, while royal palms of a hundred feet high, and silk cotton-trees even higher, are not uncommon in some of the larger gardens. In the city of Georgetown every house of any importance is detached, and surrounded by what is virtually a shrubbery, but more often a thicket. Fruit-trees are mixed with flowering shrubs in such a manner as to be almost indistinguishable, while the whole is often surrounded by hedges of hibiscus, croton, or gardenia. The house is decorated with a wealth of flowering creepers, which often spread themselves over half the shrubs, and even mount to the top of the highest trees. In the absence of the pruning-knife the thicket becomes almost impenetrable, the walks being speedily obstructed by tangled vines, and even the gateway entirely choked with vegetation.
Almost every plant is a tree, and hardly a single herb can exist without special attention. Everything reaches upwards to the sun; in a few months after planting, towering, spreading, and elbowing its neighbour. To-day you plant a fine collection of nice little crotons and other small shrubs. They look well, and fill up the beds with variety and colour. But in a year or two most of them are above your head, and the effect is almost lost. The fastest growers soon cover the others, shut out their light, and cause them to dwindle and look sickly-when the former, as it were, crow over their work and soon finish off the poor creatures. Then what was a beautiful garden becomes a shrubbery, and finally, if not thinned, a wood. Leave it alone for three or four months during the rainy season, and on your return it is a wilderness. The creepers have grown so luxuriantly that they form an irregular network from bush to tree, effectually shutting out the light from everything below. Some of