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The ceilings of these rooms are in wonderful preservation, and their elaborate ornamentation is still eloquent of the loyalty of their old tenants. There are massy escutcheons of the royal arms; in some, the portcullis and the castle; in others, large roses and thistles; and, again, the rose and the thistle united, not merely in one bouquet, but half a thistle and half a rose joined into one strange heraldic flower. The room called Henry the Eighth's room has various emblazonments of the royal arms in stained glass in the windows.
In the roof are the barracks; a long row of small rooms going along each side of the quadrangle. All this part of the house tells of those days when violence reigned in the land, and holes for hiding and traps for escape were necessary. There are a large number of recesses which would hold two men standing, before whom panels could be drawn; and in these places there is little doubt the fugitive royalists were concealed in Charles's days. Besides these certain evidences of troublous times, the house contains others. It has also two chapels ; one, the Protestant, in the lower story, open to all; the other, the Roman Catholic, in the roof. Even in this lonely, secluded, and out-of-the-world spot, it was found necessary to find a still more hidden and secluded place in which to worship God according to the dictates of a man's conscience. This upper chapel is constructed right in the roof. Attempts to render it in some degree ornamental have been made. Between the ordinary timbers of the top is placed an oaken
framework, that forms a kind of Gothic arch, on which a few rude figures are carved. There are also wainscot partitions, with space enough behind them to form hiding-places for disturbed worshippers, should they run any danger of a surprisal. The Protestant chapel is richly adorned with carvings as rude and grotesque as those we noticed on the screen of the music gallery.
Standing in these deserted rooms, we for the first time thoroughly realized the lonely desolation of Tennyson's Moated Grange; we felt the truth of his description, and were astonished at the fidelity of the picture, which had often impressed our minds before; but never so intensely as in that solemn evening hour, in that solemnly lonely old house. There it would have been but simple truth to say that,
“All day, within that dreamy house,
The doors upon their hinges creak’d;
Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,
Old faces glimmer'd through the doors,
Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
Old noises called her from without."
“ With blackest moss the flower-pots
Were thickly crusted one and all ;
That held the peach to the garden-wall.
Unlifted was the clinking latch ;
Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
To complete this wonderful picture, there too,
“ About a stone-cast from the house,
A sluice with blacken'd waters slept,
The cluster'd marish-mosses crept.”
Hard by a poplar shook alway,
All silver-green with gnarled bark;
For leagues no other tree did mark
Whereas Compton-Wingates is surrounded, hidden by, and bosomed in with trees. For the rest, it answers the poet's picture to a word; and if the visitor be of an imaginative mind, he will see in his fancy some deserted Mariana mourning her dreary lot in this secluded house.
We left the dreary, melancholy, quaint, and beautiful place, resolved that this first visit should not be our last. We could not stay longer now; for the night was far advancing, and eight miles lay between us and the quiet town of Banbury, whither we had to walk to meet the train. There were eight miles of pleasant walk, of pleasant talk, and still more pleasant thought. . It rained most of the way, but we heeded it not. The night was dark, our knowledge of the road uncertain ; passengers were few and far between; and where two roads met we had to climb the finger-posts and decipher their words with our fingers; yet scarcely ever have we more thoroughly enjoyed a ramble than on that, to us, ever-memorable night. We reached Banbury time enough to rest for a short time, ere the train started,
and to eat a few of the renowned cakes which have at once immortalized and enriched Mrs. Lamb. At last, thoroughly pleased, thoroughly wearied, thoroughly wetted, yet, withal, thoroughly rejoicing, we returned home; and when any of our readers have a day at their disposal, we earnestly advise them to take the first opportunity and pay a visit to Compton-Wingates.
Since the visit recorded above, great changes have taken place at Compton-Winyates.
One of the friends who accompanied us, thus describes a recent ramble to the old place : “Favoured,” he says, " by a happy introduction to Mr. Burnham, Jun., the son of the present resident in the house, we felt fully assured of seeing it, although it is not generally shown. The present Marquis of Northampton has recently restored the place, under the superintendence of Mr. Digby Wyatt, and the difficulties of access are consequently very much increased. Till recently, when the place was unoccupied, any visitor was admitted; but at present access is firmly but respectfully refused. A pleasant stroll along a country lane, slowly descending from the heights which have afforded us such glorious views, brings us past scattered houses, very few, and very far between, to a wicket-gate on our right. Five years ago, we opened this gate in the dim twilight of a September night, passed in the growing darkness down a steep and lonely path, felt rather than saw our way between the thick-clustering trees, and came suddenly upon the old moated grange we had come so far to see. All seemed dark, deserted, solemn. Not a sound was,
heard, not a living being to be seen. A little bridge over a moat led us to a door ; but repeated knockings brought no response. Returning to our path, we passed through an old-fashioned garden, and found our way to the great front gate. Here, after knocking again, we saw lights pass from window to window, and presently the great gate creaked on its hinges, and we were allowed, after a parley and an explanation, to enter this curious old hall. The good lady who so kindly allowed us unknown strangers entrance at such an unusual hour had only just come to reside in this old house. She scarcely knew her way about the house, and its nearly ninety rooms; but she gave us a candle each, and did the best she could. If this should ever meet her eye, she may be glad to know that her singular kindness and attention are well remembered and often talked of by her unknown friends.
“So strange and romantic was this visit, when all around was seen so dimly, that we almost dread to revisit the place, lest the pleasant memories should be utterly destroyed. Let us, however, to-day, take a second wicket-gate, and run down the steep slope of the park-like grounds, till we see far below us the ancient buildings, well christened Compton-in-theHole. Compton is said to be derived from Cwm, 'a hollow,' and the place well deserves the name. The Winyates' affix is supposed to be a corruption of Vinegates,' or Vineyards,' which apparently once existed, if not flourished, here. What a strange view is beneath us! What a cluster of chimney-stacks of all sorts of fantastic forms! What a picturesquely