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1830.] Ancient Paintings in Baston House, Kent.
497 Mr. URBAN,
Dec. 8. who was not aware of the curious na'HE ancient paintings which form ture of the paintings in an antiquarian plate, were discovered by me about the ihem from the purposed innovations. year 1813, in Baston Manor House, I lost 'no time in informing my friend on Hayes Common in Kent, in a very the late Mr. Charles Stothard of the degraded situation, into the particulars discovery, and he with his usual zeal of which it is no further needful to in the pursuit of subjects of this naenter than to say that they had been ture, repaired prompily to the spot, sadly mutilated to form the wainscot and by permission of the owner como of a small closet in one of the domes- menced the drawings which have been tic offices of the building. The inten- now placed in the hands of the en. tion in placing them against the walls graver. I remember Mr. Stothard inof this apartment was, I suppose, or. formed me at the time, that they were namental, if not complimentary or re- the earliest specimens of painting in oil spectful to their antiquity and the style which he had ever seen, and expressed of their execution. Little attention his opinion that they were of the time had, however, been paid, whether some of Edward IV. and that the erect fi. of the personages whom they represent gure with a crown and sceptre might were placed on their heads or their be a portrait of thát Monarch. I know, heels, or whether they were made to however, he had no other ground than recline on their faces or their backs, what was derived from the period to while others were unceremoniously which the pictures belonged for the sawed in pieces to fill up vacant spaces conjecture, and I cannot trace any reon the surface of the wall. Two por semblance between the countenance tions of sound oak panel nearly six of this figure and that of received feet in height, and each bearing a regal likenesses of the fourth Edward ; two figure, as seen in the print, were for- of which, among other, ancient por: Lunate enough, however, to be pre- trails, the donation of the late Rev. served nearly entire, and to obtain their Thomas Kerrich of Cambridge, Fellow proper upright position in this obscure of the Society of Antiquaries, now
adorn the walls of the meeting room of The larger apartments of Baston that body. The Royal personage on House were at the time when I first one of the larger portions of ihese musaw these pictures submitted to the or- tilated panels, who is represented as namental labours of a paper-hanger seated under a cloth of estate, his rich and stencil-painter from London, who, crimson robe powdered with golden A's, as coming from the fountain head of is a representation of the Saxon King taste, had been requested to devote the Athelsian. The back ground to this day following that of my discovery to figure is formed by a delineation of restoring and beautifying these old tapestry, in which is worked a shield paintings; supplying them with new charged with a cross pátée, the arbeards and noses, as he might think morial bearing fabricated for the Monecessary, renovating the lustre of narchs of the Saxon dynasty by the taste their eyes, or accommodating them of a period much later than their own. with new ones if the old should ap- Athelstan occupies a sort of stone or pear beyond repair.
marble bench, ornamented in the A word or two of persuasion to the Pointed style, which reminds us of worthy gentleman who was at that that regale solium, which stood on the time the proprietor of Baston (and high marble dais * at the upper end of
* The term dais, daiz, deis, signifying the platform with which the upper ends of our ancient halls were furnished, in its strict and original application belonged to that alone, although it was afterwards, it would seem, extended also to the canopy of estate, which was suspended over the principal seat on the dais, as in the following passage : “Sa Man jesté estant revetue dautres tres somptueux habillemens, se sied a table sur un haut daiz preparé en la salle episcopale, et ornée dexcellentes tapisseries, souls un grand daiz de singuTiere etoffe." Here the King is described as sitting both on and under the dais.-Lé Ceremonial de France par Theodore Godefroy, p. 688.
I am led from another passage in this work to infer that the luminous editor of Chaucer mistakes, when in his note on the following lines, Gent. Mag. December, 1830.
[Dec. Westminster Hall, and from which chronicles, of the acts of King Athelour ancient Kings occasionally were stan, who, as his grandfather Alfred wont to dispense justice in person ; a was the most virtuous, was certainly practice still commemorated in the himself the most powerful Monarch title“ Court of King's Bench." * This who had wielded the sceptre of the portrait of Athelstan is, I suppose, Anglo-Saxons. The deficiencies being chiefly imaginary, although it were supplied, it must have run nearly to difficult to say what traditional mate- the following effect : rials for it might have existed at the
“ Athelstan, the son of Edward the elder, time of its execution.t He is depicted at least with one real peculiarity of his crated him. He conquered the Kings of
reigned fifteen years ; holy Wulfstan conseperson, auburn hair.
Malmesbury, Wales and Scotland, received them to his and after hiin later historians, describe
peace, and suffered them to govern under Athelstan as not exceeding in his sta- him." ture the middle size, slender in person, his hair yellow, and beautifully wreath
There is in this inscription as much ed with golden threads, I as he (Malmes of the authentic history of the Mobury) had seen with his own eyes from
narch as could be well comprised in so his remains.
small a space; all authorities agree Under the picture of Athelstan was
that his coronation was performed an inscription in the old English black
with peculiar solemnity by the Archletter character, of which the follow bishop of Canterbury, |! on a lofty scafe ing words remain legible:
fold erected in the market place of the
town of Kingston-upon-Thames. Stow Athelstanus edwardi...filius....reg: says, " he brought the land into one navit anno....... ...... et consecravit monarchy, utterly expelled the Danes, sanctus......tanus hic reges Wallen: and quieted the Welch ; he caused the sium et Scot..........pacem recepit eos latter to pay him a tribute of ewenty sub se regnare...
pounds of yold, three hundred pounds This inscription was a brief sum of silver, iwo thousand five hundred mary, perfectly according with the old head of neat, with hounds and hawks
“ Wel semed each of them a fair burgeis
To sitten in a gild halle on the deis;" sp•aking of the extended sense of the word, he says that Matthew Paris by deis means the dina et talle on the dais.
“ Priore prandente ad magnam mensam quam deis vocamus," Vit. Abbat. S'c'i Allan. The platform itself is here I think understood, for Godefroy tells us, in another place, that
upon the great marble table in the hall was placed a chair for the King to sit on," &c. --Ceremonial de France, p. 381. The high marble table, alla mensa marmoralis, so often meutioned in ancient MSS. as being in Westminster Hall, was nothing more than the dais, on which the King's seat was placed, and on which by the bye the Court of King's Bench till lately stood. The stone dais itself still remains.
* I beg to corroborate this assertion by the following passage from Stow : “And heere is to be noted, that the Kings of this realme have used sometimes to sit in person in the King's Bench; namely, King Edward the Fourth in the year 1462, in Michaelmas tearme, sate in the King's Bench three dayes together, in the open court, to understand how his laws were ministred and executed."-Survey of London, 4to, 1613, p. 890.
+ There might for instance exist at this time, a received portrait of Athelstan at Malmesbury Abbey, as St. Alban's had one of Offa.
The words of the historian are “capillo ut ipsi ex reliquiis ejus vidimus flavo filis aureis pulchrè intorto," which I believe must be understood literally, and that consequently it was the custom for Saxons of distinction thus to decorate their tresses, when living, or that respect for their rank or sanctity procured such attention for their reliques when dead. The head of the Saxon Saint Cuthbert was found at the recent disinterment of his body at Durham, encircled with the finest gold wire; and this circumstance was turned in after ages by the monks to a fraudulent account, for they cut off from St. Cuthbert's reliques minute portions of this wire as his hair, and exposing them to the flames, pretended not only that they were incombustible, but that they were converted into gold ! --See the Rev. J. Raine's account of the opening of St. Cuthbert's Tomb in 1827, pp. 56 and 212.
§ Athelstan was buried at Malmesbury Abbey, Wilts.
!! Speed says he was crowned by Athelm, who was succeeded in the same year in the archbishonpric by Wulfelm.-See Historie of Great Britaine, p. 339. Sax. Chron. sub anno 921.
499 to a certain number. After he had troop, fled in his terror to the voice of the conquered Scotland by his arms, he ship; the King of the Fleet, with one ship's made one Constantine King of Scots crew, living, escaped over the yellow deep. under him." *
So, also, the routed Constantine returned a Malmesbury tells us that Athelstan, fugitive to his Northern bills. The hoary
warrior needed not to exult in the conflict (who was a great favourer of Christi
of swords. He was the remnant of his face. anity,) on subduing Constantine, and
His kiusmen were heaped ou the field. He entering into a treaty with him, (which left liis son on the place of blood covered allowed him to retain a tributary sway,) with wounds. Young in war, though old in ordered his son 10 be baptized at the wisdom, the fair-haired youth was staid in sacred font; Alihelstan himself being his glorying by the bill of slaughter., Neihis Sponsor.t Malmesbury inserts in ther could Anlaf and his broken army boast his history some Latin verses in the that they were better in works of battle, at praise of Athelstan, in imitation per- the fall of hanners, at the meeting of darts, haps of the Saxon Chronicle, which, in the conflict of men, in the exchange of in recording the events of the year weapons, when they had played with the
children of Edward in the field of death. 938, under this King's reign, leaves the
The Northinen, the sorrowful few spared by ordinary track of prosaic narration, and launches out into a poetical flight, of
the darts, departed in their nailed ships over much simple grandeur, in his praise. They sailed for Dublin, and disgraced their
the roaring sea-over the deep waters. The passage much resembles in style land. Then the Brothers, the King, and the poenis which are ascribed 10 0s. the Atheling, returned to their country, the sian; and I may be allowed to quote West Saxon land. They left behind them it from the translation which emanated the screamers of war, the birds of prey. The some years since from the pen of a lite- sallow kite, and the black raven with the rary lady, and was printed for private hoary beak, and the hoarse-voiced eagle, decirculation.
vouring the white flesh, with the battle“ This year King Athelstan, the Lord of liawk and the grey beast, the wolf of the Earls, the Giver of Bracelets to the Nobles,
wood. Never in this island had a greater and his Brother Edmund the Atheling, the
destruction of men been worked by the edge elder, the survivors of their race, the
of the sword, say the books of the Wise children of Edward, won lasting glory with Elders, since the Saxons and the Angles the edge of the sword in battle at Brunan
came hicher from the East; since those burh. They clave the wooden walls, they glorious Earls who smote the Welsh on the hewed down the tall banners, for it was the anvil of battle, and obtained their lands." portion of their lineage that oft in the field It is impossible to appropriate with they should defend their lands, their trea- certainty any of the remaining figures sures, their homes, against the enemy. of these paintings to real historical The Scot and the Ship-man fell on every
personages, the inscriptions which side the din of arms resounded sith the
probably were placed underneath them sun in the morning-tide rose glad over the earth, greatest of the stars, bright Candle of being cut off
. Whether anything like God the Lord eternal, till the noblest of
a connected subject, of persons distinthings created sank in the West. There,
guished by their relation to the history struck down with darts, lay many a warrior
of Athelsian were intended, would be -Northmen pierced over their shields— a mere conjecture. Scots, the savages of war-the West Saxons, In which to indulge :-The figure a chosen band, pressed the livelong day upon distinguished by the plain sceptre the hated people sternly they smote down (while Athelstan himself has a triple the flying multitudes with swords well sharp- one of golden rods, united by bands), ened at the stone. The Mercians shrank
might be taken for Constantine not from the hard play of hands--safety King of Scots, his tributary : the there was none for the companiuns of Aplaf; youthful figure in the act of prayer, for those who sought the land for deadly fight
or liege homage, might be assigned to over the billowy sea, bosomed in ships. Five
Such an explication would young kings lay on the battle field,
put to sleep by the swords ; so also seven Earls of amount, however, to a mere surinise; Anlaf; and of the host from the fleet and of and it appears quite as probable that the Scots, more than can be numbered.
other characters distinguished in the The King of the Northmen, with his little History of England are depicted on
these panels. The figure which wears Stow's Chron. 4to edit. p. 107.
a singularly-formed red cap, lined with + Sharpe's William of Malmesbury, p. blue, and topped by a round bailon, 153.
has all the air of a real portrait. Other