Paris To Canterbury, England
( Originally Published 1911 )
August 1.-Paris is a beautiful, interesting city but we left it without a pang this morning at nine o'clock. At Amiens, on our way to Calais, we had a passing glimpse of the Cathedral which is one of the finest in Europe. The country homes interested me as they always do. They are mostly long and very low houses but are comfortable looking. We had a good view of Boulogne and of the English Channel where we saw many sailing vessels. At Boulogne we thought of the immense fleet and army Napoleon gathered there for the invasion of England. We saw the chateau where Napoleon III was imprisoned after he made his first attempt to ascend the throne, and the Napoleon monument, 174 feet high, which was begun to commemorate the invasion of England which never took place. A statue of Napoleon I crowns the monument. How glad I was to ex-change the heated cushions of our car for the steamer. We could not remain on deck but found a comfortable place below where we looked out upon the water. The passage to Dover was smooth. There we saw the chalk cliffs again. After some trouble about the baggage and a long, tiresome walk to the station the train carried us to Canterbury where we now are. We reached here at five this afternoon. Found the town crowded on account of cricket week. Every bed was occupied in the hotel which received us last summer. Our cabman very kindly took us to various places. At length we obtained a room without board at the Shrubbery, the home of a widow and her daughter, where we find a beautiful garden surrounded by a hedge and shrubs. Today our baggage had its last examination until we reach America. We rejoice !
August 2.-Before resting yesterday afternoon I went out to find a place where we might take our meals while here. Returned for L. After a good supper we walked to the pleasure grounds of Dane John (Donjon), a small park by the side of the old city wall. This long and very narrow avenue, lined with trees, was brilliantly illuminated with festoons of colored lights extending its whole length. The Dane John itself is an artificial mound eighty feet high on which stands an obelisk. This mound and the grounds about it were illuminated. From this point on the out-skirts of the city is a. fine view. The band played while we were there—the music stand being decorated with colored lights. A great crowd was all about us. People were lying on the ground even where there was no grass. The streets of the town are brightly and brilliantly illuminated and are gay with bright flags and bunting of various hues. All this is because of cricket week. Yesterday being bank holiday the crowd was still greater. We are told that there were 12,000 people here to witness the games. We were here last summer just after cricket week. There was no trouble about rooms then. The little city had quieted down. Cricket week seems to be a great event. People come here from all parts of England and from other parts of Great Britain. The Prince of Wales was here last year. Many of the private dwellings and other buildings are beautifully decorated with flowers. Not only the first and second stories but sometimes the third story of buildings have narrow window boxes filled with growing plants, which are full of. bright, beautiful blossoms. Cricket week is always, we find, the first week in August. Before going to the Dane John we went to a stationery store (Austin's) and bought post cards containing views of Canterbury.
We were so charmed with Canterbury a year ago that we are pleased to visit it again, and to see the ancient Cathedral which we left unfinished.
This morning we were taken about with a party by a guide after the morning service. Two things greatly interested L. First, the deeply worn stone steps, pressed by the feet of many pilgrims, which lead to the spot where once stood the magnificent shrine of Thomas Becket, and, second, the place where he was murdered, in 1170, while conducting a vesper service. This shrine, destroyed by a decree of Henry VIII, is described in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Not a trace of this rich and costly thing can be found. In it were placed the remains of the great Archbishop, primate of all England. On the tomb of Edward the "Black Prince" is a recumbent figure clad in armor. His helmet and shield, his gauntlets and surcoat, hang over the tomb. The ancient chained Bible we noticed with much interest. We saw much in this old Cathedral and then walked around the cloisters which are beautifully carved and arched and black with age.
An omnibus carried us to the cricket grounds this afternoon. A fine, open grassy place containing large stands and tents was surrounded by a mass of people. Men sat in high wagons to watch the games. L. got into one by invitation and took a picture. Afterwards he took pictures of some Scotch Highlanders who were there dressed in full Highland costume—Scotch plaids and all. I talked with one of them.
August 3.—A guide conducted us into St. Martin's church this morning. It was nearly dark when we visited it a year ago. This morning the weather was bright and beautiful. We saw again the quaint little homes on our way. This ancient church of England, built partly of Roman bricks, may date back as far as the second century. We saw the font where King Ethelbert is thought to have been baptized in 597 by St. Augustine, who has been called the Apostle of the English. Sent as a Benedictine monk from Rome by Pope Gregory I, he was on account of his remark-able success as a missionary appointed archbishop of Canterbury. In St. Martin's church St. Augustine, without doubt, first preached in England. Queen Bertha, wife of King Ethelbert, became a Christian before her husband and is believed to have used this church for her prayers. The stained glass windows of this little structure contain pictures (which are not ancient) of scenes in her life. The outside walls L. thought the "strangest mixture of stones, bricks and chipped flints he ever saw." In the floor is a slab covering the tomb of Thomas Stoughton, which is L.'s middle name and his mother's maiden name. L. copied the following inscription from the slab: "Here lyeth Thomas Stoughton late of Ashe in the County of Kente Gent who depted this lyfe the XIIth of June 1591." The coat of arms is in each corner and a quaint, full length picture of a man is engraved on the slab. This dear little church with its square, ivy-covered tower, its quaint little churchyard full of blooming roses and other flowers, will not soon be for-gotten. Last summer when we were there at the edge of evening I picked a beautiful yellow rose and two ivy leaves.
Tomorrow will be Ladies' day—another great day on the cricket ground. Ladies are expected to try to outdo each other in dressing their prettiest. We have seen them on the grounds dressed in handsome silks and white shoes. In the crowd at Dane John we saw young people of both sexes flirting teasers in each others' faces. These are long strips of tissue paper fastened on a stick. It is a custom peculiar to cricket week here and even strangers practice it on each tither. We leave this quaint old city this afternoon.
Fourteen Months Abroad:
Amsterdam To Brussels
Paris To Canterbury, England
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