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delectable manner. If you gazed above, such was the sight that gladdened your eyes. If you looked below, there was the still water holding in its quiet bosom a fair reflex of the glorious spot. There in the clear mirror you again beheld the trees, and leaves, and sky, and chestnuts, in all their gorgeous and lovely apparel, mellowed and softened by the medium in which they were reflected. Our own feelings in such an earthly Paradise—or rather in such a glimpse of fairy-land—are indescribable. First, we stood in silent admiration, drinking in the exquisite beauty and loveliness of the place in a rapt delirium of joy; then we lay down on the soft sward, and gathered up the chestnuts which lay around us, contemplating their beautiful structure and rich adornments; then we rose again, and looked into the ever-smiling face of the pool, and saw the light “which never was on sea or shore;" then we called up all that our dear poets had sung of fairy scenes and lovely spots, but no song fitted our place; so far was the actual, real, and beheld beauty above all that the mind could idealize or portray. We could have lingered for hours on hours in this enchanting arbour, but inexorable time forbade. We turned from its beauty, and in a few moments it was lost to our sight; but its memory is a possession of which we never be deprived. The fairy-circle in which we wonderingly paused at Radway village is our own for ever.
Some few years after this visit, while engaged in writing “Wedded and Buried,” the remembrance
of this lovely spot burst freshly upon my mind, and I thus attempted its description in verse.
“I neared our wood, and sought my favourite spot
O, such a spot! Man's eye but rarely sees,
But to resume. We trudged on, talking of this spot, and trying fully to realize its existence, and a short walk brought us to the first of the Tysoes. We passed through the three villages bearing that name,—the Lower, the Upper, and Church Tysoe. At the latter place, which is about a mile and a half from Compton-Wingates, we stopped for a little
refreshment, and to get directions about the road. But the ignorance of the people residing within a mile of this lonely and secluded house is so great, that we could get no information from them; nor was their directing worth much to us. We knew somewhat of its locality, and so pursued our way in hope. The evening was rapidly approaching, and we feared that night would be upon us ere we reached the house of our pilgrimage. Within a few hundred yards of the place we met a man and a boy, and again asked for information. The boy was sent with us for a guide ; and, after leading us through a couple of fields, told us to keep straight on, and we should be at the House. We went straight on through a long avenue of trees, but got not a glimpse of the place of our search. We left the avenue, opened a small wicket, and passed up a garden walk; and at the end instantly, without the slightest preparation for the
the House was full before us! Never can we forget, and never can we hope to depict, the almost awful solemnity of that moment, and of that sight. All things were silent. It was the hour of twilight. Not a bird was singing; not an insect buzzing; not a leaf rustling; not a voice, either human or other, was heard. There was no sign of people living in the place; and there the House stood, grand in its loneliness, beautiful in its quietude. Entirely buried, as it were, from intrusion, it lies in a little hollow, hidden by trees and hills; and, although not far from the roadside, you might pass it, and pass it again, without observing it. A part of the old
moat still exists, and is still filled with water. It is indeed a lonely, lovely, solemn, picturesque, secluded, and delightful realization of a moated grange.
The house is old. It was built by Sir William Compton, in the reign of Henry VIII. The family of the Comptons was a loyal one, and the house is covered with emblems and proofs of their devotion to their Kings. The grandson of Sir William became Lord Compton in the reign of Elizabeth; and his son an Earl in that of James I. Throughout the troubles of the Civil War the Comptons took the side of the King, although their neighbours were so disaffected to this party, that the very smiths used to hide themselves, rather than shoe the horses of the King's troops. The Earl led a large body of men to the battle of Edgehill to support his royal master. He was killed at the battle of Hopton Heath; and a few years afterwards his house was in the possession of the Parliamentarians. The present owner of ComptonWinyates is the Marquis of Northampton.
This short historical episode over, let us look at the house itself. We are now in the quadrangular court-yard, gazing with wonder at the venerable structure; so quaint, so beautiful, so gloriously tinted with that peculiar colour which time throws around buildings of this kind. We walk quietly, almost stealthily, round the court; look at every projection and buttress; pause at the gateway, and admire its royal arms, with their supporters, a griffin and a dog, and the crown above; not neglecting the quaint figures of lizards, mice, dogs, and other animals,
which cover the moulding of the spandril of the porch. Then what curious gables, towers, and twisted chimneys there are! One can understand what is meant by the poetry of architecture, while contemplating such a building as this.
We are yet, however, outside the house, and not a sound from within gives us token of a tenant.
We walk out of the court-yard again, and go to the back, where we find a door with an iron knocker. We knock, and through all the chambers of that old place the sound echoes, and re-echoes, with a strange solemnity. After waiting some time, we hear footsteps and voices in the hall; the door is opened, and we are inside Compton-Winyates. The hall is large and lofty; the roof is of oak, blackened by time and by smoke; there is a long grand window, finely ornamented. Over the hall is the old music-gallery, in the front of which is a screen elaborately carved with leaf-tracery ; grotesque figures of mounted knights; a sadly mis-shaped figure of a lion ; with other strange conceits of the carver. Certainly, such objects as are there carved were never in " the heavens above, nor in the earth beneath, nor in the waters under the earth," so wildly fanciful are they! While we stood looking on these things of the past, from his nest in the roof above flew the whirring and twilight-loving bat, adding to the scene of loneliness and seclusion with which we were almost overcome.
We passed on through the untenanted, unfurnished rooms, every step still adding to the strangely weird, yet not unpleasant, feelings which accompanied us.