The Hastings Road and the "Happy Springs of Tunbridge"
Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variationsin hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling andpunctuation remains unchanged.
The cover was created by the transcriber and is placed within thepublic domain.
THE HASTINGS ROAD
WORKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR
The Portsmouth Road, and its Tributaries: To-day and inDays of Old.
The Dover Road: Annals of an Ancient Turnpike.
The Bath Road: History, Fashion, and Frivolity on an OldHighway.
The Exeter Road: The Story of the West of EnglandHighway.
The Great North Road: The Old Mail Road to Scotland.Two Vols.
The Norwich Road: An East Anglian Highway.
The Holyhead Road: The Mail-Coach Road to Dublin.Two Vols.
The Cambridge, Ely, and King’s Lynn Road: The GreatFenland Highway.
The Newmarket, Bury, Thetford, and Cromer Road:Sport and History on an East Anglian Turnpike.
The Oxford, Gloucester, and Milford Haven Road: TheReady Way to South Wales. Two Vols.
The Brighton Road: Speed, Sport, and History on theClassic Highway.
Cycle Rides Round London.
A Practical Handbook of Drawing for Modern Methodsof Reproduction.
Stage-Coach and Mail in Days of Yore. Two Vols.
The Ingoldsby Country: Literary Landmarks of “TheIngoldsby Legends.”
The Hardy Country: Literary Landmarks of the WessexNovels.
The Dorset Coast.
The South Devon Coast.[In the Press.
THE “HAPPY SPRINGS OF TUNBRIDGE”
By Charles G. Harper
ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR
Chapman & Hall, Ltd.
[All rights reserved]
PRINTED AND BOUND BY
HAZELL, WATSON AND VINEY, LD.,
LONDON AND AYLESBURY.
The Road to Hastings is hilly. Not, perhaps,altogether so hilly as the Dover Road, andcertainly never so dusty, nor so Cockneyfied; butthe cyclist who explores it finds, or thinks he finds,an amazing amount of rising gradient in proportionto downhill, no matter which way he goes.
Sevenoaks town, the matter of twenty milesdown the road, is certainly preceded by the long,swooping down-grades of Polhill; but the lengthiestdescent, by mere measurement in rods, poles, andperches, is only an incident in descending, whilethe inevitable corresponding rise is, the climbingof it, a long-drawn experience. To the motorist,who changes from high-gear to lower, and then,viiias the gradient stiffens, to lowest, and so withlabouring engine crawls uphill, like a bluebottleup a window-pane, the revulsion from chargingalong the levels at an illegal pace, raising veritablesiroccos of dust, is heart-breaking.
Sevenoaks town crests the ramparted downs,and the hilly road goes up to it in steep lengths,with other lengths as near as may be flat, leadingyou to believe you are there, when in sheer coldfact you are not there, and still have otherincredible gradients to climb. And yet, returning,you shall find the descent by no means so precipitous.River Hill by that time will havetaken pride of place.
For the other hills, let them be taken ontrust; they are surely there, as also are thoselong rises, insensible to the sight of the toilingcyclist, but patent to his feeling as he wearilypushes round his unwilling pedals. For themotor-cyclist, with disabled engine, the HastingsRoad is more tragical than anything Shakespeareever staged.
The Hastings Road is, in short, the pedestrian’sroad. You would not say so much of theBath Road or the Exeter Road between Hounslowixand Taplow, and Staines; nor even of the greatNorth Road where it runs flat through Bedfordshireand Hunts. There the way recedes everinto the infinite, and there, if anywhere, thehurtling motorist is to be excused of his illegality.Here, however, on the way to Hastings, you lingerby hillside and valley, for the road goes throughthe most beautiful parts of Sussex and of Kent,and marches through much diverting social andnational history, to the scene of the crowningtragedy of Battle. I am not of those who findthe story of the Battle of Hastings sheer dry-as-dust.It is to me a living story, though over eighthundred years old, and it will live for you whoexplore that stricken field, if so be you explore itaway from the perfunctory guides who parrot thehalf-holiday public through the grounds of BattleAbbey.
But they are not necessarily the larger happeningsthat interest me in these pages. I can findit easily possible—nay, effortless—to turn fromcatastrophic struggles, and take an absorbinginterest in some one’s back garden: that is the wayto keep boredom at arm’s length. The mediævalknight who swore by his “halidom,” and thexmodern hop-picker who says “blimy!” (andstronger things than that) are both entertainingpersons; would that Time were bridged, and theycould be introduced to one another! What theknight and the “caitiff” would severally thinkof either would be well worth the hearing.
For mere topography: let us maintain aninvincible curiosity as to whence this river comesor whither it goes; as to what lies on the otherside of yonder hill, or at the end of some alluringbyway. Let us find entertainment in the mannerin which the city, town, or village next on themap is different from those we have alreadypassed; and with interests so varied the way willbe all too short.
CHARLES G. HARPER.
THE ROAD TO HASTINGS
|New Cross (New Cross Gate)||3¼|
|Lewisham (St. Mary’s Church)||5¾|
|Green Street Green||15¼|
|(Cross River Darent)|
|Sevenoaks (Station: Tubb’s Hill)||23|
|(Cross River Medway)|
|(Cross River Rother)|
|Hastings (Old Town)||63½|
|Into Hastings by “New London Road”|
|Hastings (Albert Memorial)||62¼|
List of Illustrations
|Entrance to Hastings, by Minnis Rock and the oldLondon Road||Frontispiece|
|Entrance to the Widows’ College||27|
|In the First Quadrangle, Widows’ College, Bromley||31|
|The Road across Bromley Common||45|
|An old Wayside Cottage, below Polhill||67|
|The South Front, Knole (Photo C. Essenhigh Corke & Co.)||99|
|The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells||127|
|The Toad Rock||135|
|Weird Oast-houses, Lamberhurst||165xiv|
|The Moated Castle of Bodiam||183|
|“Duke William comforts his Young Soldiers” (CentralIncident of the Battle of Hastings. From theBayeux Tapestry)||211|
|Hastings Old Town||261|
|ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT|
|Business-Card of the “Bolt-in-Tun” Coach Office||9|
|The Colfe Almshouses||22|
|The Old Toll-house, Pratt’s Bottom||56|
|A Phyllis of Knockholt||61|
|Sign of the “Blackboy” Inn||78|
|Sign of the “Bricklayers’ Arms”||79|
|Old Mansion, formerly the “Cats” Inn||81|
|Seal of Sevenoaks Grammar School||83|
|Knole, from the Road||89|
|The Gateway, Knole||92|
|The Stone Court, Knole||95|
|The “Dumb Bell” 101|
|The Seven Oaks||103|
|The “White Hart” Inn||105|
|River Hill and the Kentish Weald||110|
|The “Chequers,” Tonbridge||118|
|A Sporting Weather-vane||119|
|Church of King Charles the Martyr||124|
|Scene at “High Rocks”||138xv|
|The Marquis of Abergavenny’s “A”||139|
|The Neville Gate, Frant||140|
|The “Blue Boys” Inn||143|
|Bayham Abbey: Across the Water-meadows||158|
|The Ancient Vane, Etchingham||174|
|Brass of Sir William de Etchingham||175|
|The Fox preaching to the Geese||176|
|The Abbey Farm||179|
|William the Conqueror (Bayeux Tapestry)||198|
|Last Stand of the English (Bayeux Tapestry)||213|
|Flight of the English Churls (Bayeux Tapestry)||215|
|A Descendant of the Saxon Churls||227|
|A Bye-road at Battle||233|
|The Road past Crowhurst Park||235|
|Junction of Roads spoiled by Tramways, Baldslow||238|
|“Huz and Buz”: Entrance to Holmhurst||241|
|Queen Anne, at Holmhurst||245|
|Ruins of the Old Church, Ore||247|
|The Old London Road||249|
|Old House, All Saints’ Street||258|
|Old Tackle-boxes, Hastings||265|
|St. Clement’s Church||279|
|A Slain Norman (Bayeux Tapestry)||284|
The HASTINGS ROAD
The road to Hastings is measured from what, inthese times, seems the unlikely starting-point ofLondon Bridge, and is identical with the DoverRoad as far as New Cross, where it turns to theright and goes through Lewisham, the DoverRoad continuing by Deptford and Blackheath.