APOLOGY TO THE READER
Mea culpa. Mea magna culpa!
I am now within sneezing distance of the commencement of my 47th year.
horrific portion of those years I was in the grip of the dual addictions
(a word I use with great odium, inasmuch as I find the whole notion
of ‘addiction’ as noxious and as deleterious as
such other quasi-notions as ‘witchcraft’, ‘possession’. ‘insanity’ and
so on and so forth; we still live in the ideological dark ages, to
slightly remould the formulations of William Burroughs and Kurt Vonnegut
- both of whom have been there themselves).
Since 1973 - the year in which I entered higher education - so much
Changes in academic disciplines, such as the rise and decline of Structuralism,
and its appications to the humanities and the social sciences are relatively
- for myself - easy to keep pace with. After all, the major medium
of dissemination in the academic world remains the book and the specialist
Within the past decade - a decade during which I have largely been
dependent upon incapacity benefit as a recovering addict/alcoholic
- I have found myself financially left behind, and thus deprived of
access of new forms of composition and dissemination.
I refer, of course, to those forms of dissemination subsumed under
the somewhat misleading term of ‘the new technology’. In
other words, the world of the word processor, the computer, the world
wide web, etc..
I come from an era in which handwriting (the bane of my youth due
to a tremor) and typewriting were the norm for textual communication.
The acquisition of a computer (thanks to the munificence of two good
friends, messrs Kadwell and Plumtree) allowed me access to a new means
of composition. ...The notebook and the diary are still essentials
for spur of the moment writings. (The laptop keyboard remains beyond
This is the first prolonged text which I have produced entirely and
solely using the computer keyboard - the word processor - as its first
and final mode of presentation. Previously I have experimented with
this device, using it form short letters of a bureaucratic nature within
which the odd gaffe counted for nothing in my estimation: part of a
dialectic of shoddy disrespect which characterizes British bureaucracy
More positively, I have experimented with this mode of communication
in the composition of relatively brief texts, Texts which were eventually
printed and bound.
With the encouragement and patient support and friendship of Dr Chris
Mullen, I have been persuaded to attempt to put aside my portable Olivetti,
marker pens, scissors, staples and sellotape (not to mention Tipp-ex,
which inevitably turned to powder partway down the small bottle). In
place whereof there are now a keyboard, computer, printer, and, more
and more floppy discs, which take up far less room than multiple copies
of carbon copies, xeroxes, etc..
seem the most bizarre medium in which to write an introductory text
on the history of antiquarianism in Britain, 1550-1830. Especially
as I write (as indeed most who have contributed to this area of cultural
history) from the viewpoint of a collector and bibliophile. The notion
of scanning in my small, hard-won collection of antiquarian books,
traducing them onto cd-roms fills me with giddy horror. The bibliophile
- as Walter Benjamin poetically expressed it in his essay ‘On
Unpacking my Books’ regards his collection as something peculiarly
personal. Something akin to an extension of the self, even of the ego;
an outlook which he shared with with the otherwise so different polymath
However, for many of the early antiquaries, the most valued items
in their working collections were archaeological items, the buildings
in which they lived, the traces in the landscape which formed part
of or adjoined their demesnes. The manuscripts, whether complete or
fragmentary, rescued from the Dissolution of the Monasteries under
Henry VIII, were regarded by the richer collectors (e.g. Sir Robert
Cotton) as being incomparably more important than even the most lavish
of printed books (with notable exceptions, if the boks contained woodcuts
or engravings of a superior quality executed by those regarded by artists
in their own right).
For such antiquaries, those who had landed fortunes, or court positions
to fall back upon, the printed volume was often an inferior product.
And those who wrote them did so for two reasons: either to maintain
their finances; or, as a form of court etiquette via the protocol of
dedication. For dedication was a form of guaranteeing court support
and protection, in other words, the granting of funds from the royal
coffers, or, in exceptional circumstances, political and court influence.
A few notable individuals fell through the net, of course, and, despite
their painstaking work, remained beyond the pale of regal munificence
or of ecclesiastical preferment. Representatives of such overlooked
deserving writers and scholars included figures such as Anthony Wood,
John Aubrey (whose works were evidently plundered by all and sundry,
as he passed around his mss in the hope of securing fiscal stability),
the antiquary and bibliographer-biographer Thomas Hearne (excluded
as a non-juror, i.e. his Roman Catholic sympathies).
What, may one ask, is the immediate relevance for such a study as
this in the year 2002?
First of all, the growing awareness of the fragility of heritage per
se in its widest sense. ‘Heritage’, I have to admit on
a personal level, is a word and notion (I doubt it is a concept per
se). It is to be hoped that (in the wake of global recession) the wholesale
plundering and export of items of national heritage, the gutting of
buildings (and often their dismantling, to be erected elsewhere) has
entered a period of at least temporary decline. Moreover, in the wake
of the collapse of the dot-com boom, and the fallout of September 11
2001, the plundering of British heritage (the robbing of British character)
has at least entered a period of slowdown.
Moreover, perhaps there are the shoots of a new re-discovery of Britain:
not only by foreign visitors. But, of far more potential importance,
by the British themselves, in the wake of the ravages of foot and mouth
The countryside - its heritage of landscape, natural phenomena, shapes,
land-use, and so on and so forth - can, hopefully, no longer be taken
for granted. Yet, at the same time, the very FRAGILITY of landscape
and heritage, has become implanted into the national consciousness
(almost DESPITE the inherent cultural ignorance of Blairism).
is not a roll-call for nationalist Conservatism, for a reinforcement
of elitism. Quite the reverse, in fact. Rather, in this respect,
there is a parallel to be drawn betwen the early antiquaries - those
responsible for the discovery of Britain during the Tudor and Stuart
period and the present-day supporters of heritage. Heritage as a
form of custodianship, and not as an ‘industry’.
decades figures such as James Lees-Milne, John Betjeman, John Piper,
Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and the members of the Penguin Buildings of
England series and the Victoria County History project have, in different
ways, drawn upon the achievements of the earlier antiquaries - even
though they worked and continue to work within a distinctly different
epistemological network: one of specialist methodologies and technologies.
Such divisions would have been by and large quite alien to the early
antiquaries, who adopted a far more far-reaching, almost ‘magpie-outlook’.
It was, I propose, such a ‘magpie-outlook’ which accounted
for the growth of the antiquarian movement c.1550-1840.
be reiterated during the course of this study - from different angles,
in diferent contexts - the lack of scientific or academic ‘discipline’ greatly
assisted the dynamism of the antiquarian movement per se. Even though
travel was expensive, difficult if not downright perilous for much
of this period, against the odds a close-knit cameraderie developed.
This, so it seems at this present stage of research, was more prevalent
in those members of the middle and mercantile classes for whom the
continental tour was either financially out of the question, or impossible
because of the pressures of estate management, which kept them in England.
Moreover, during the early decades of the seventeenth century, the
Thirty Years’ War which ravaged Europe acted as a deterrent to
English travellers. Moreover, this period of continental unrest roughly
coincided with the period of the English Civil War.
- This is, I think, a knotty problem of the economics of demography
(which remains for myself a terra incognita). It is, moreover, a problem
which is not fully emphasized by A.L. Rowse in his argument concerning ‘the
Elizabethan discovery of England’. For, put bluntly, Rowse indicates
the ‘discovery’, but does not fully account for all the
However, it is time to terminate these preliminary leaves, and to
engage with the text proper, for better or for worse.
C O N T E N T S.
Synopsis ...................................... 7.
Representative Books as Case-Histories .................... 9.
on the Presentation of the Text .........20.
ANTIQUARIAN & COUNTY
RANDOM NOTES ON SPECIFIC TEXTS, No.1:
WILLIAM LAMBARDE. A PERAMBULATION OF KENT, 1576. ......20.
RELIGION AND THE IDEOLOGICAL FUNCTION OF
THE ANTIQUARY. ..................................................32.
The purpose of the following text is to offer a tentative, preliminary
introduction to the history of antiquarian and topographical writings
and books covering Britain during the period 1550-1835.
These dates are chosen as convenient, makeshift chronological markers,
indicating the (temporary/permanent?) historical bounds of this study
at the present point in my research (July 2001).
have been ‘rounded off’ provisionally, so to
speak. To elucidate: The text of John Leland’s Itinerary in its
bound manuscript form was presented to King Henry VIII in 1546 as a
New Year’s Gift to the monarch, upon whom he was dependent indirectly
for his financial support, as well as for the warrants allowing him
to travel freely across the domains of the King (i.e. England and Wales).
New Year’s Gift (the courtly equivalent, at that time,
of what would now be termed a Christmas present) it constituted a testament
of fidelity to the King; gratitude for the issuing of his warrants
and for whatever financial assistance he received from the royal coffers.
An act of seasonal etiquette in a textual form. - However, having stated
the last remark, it is alas no longer possible to ascertain precisely
how the fascicules of the manuscript were stitched; nor how elaborate
was the original binding. Although many fine bindings of the medieval
and early Tudor period are still to be found intact and in a state
of good preservation (even accounting for subsequent repairs and refurbishments
to binding, stitching and gatherings), this has not been the case with
There are (I think at this stage of my research) two reasons for this,
briefly stated as follows:
did not present a systematic account of the King’s
domains. There were several models which he could have well adopted
and adapted for his own purposes. For instance, he could have divided
his text into an organizational structure of shires. Another alternative
would have been a division by dioceses. This would have been especially
appropriate, as the text was written and completed during and in the
aftermath of the break from Rome and the Dissolution of the Monasteries
- arguably the two most far-reaching occurrences of Henry VIII’s
reign, politically, religiously and culturally. Moreover, an added
dimension or overlay of aptness in this respect is evident time and
again in Leland’s text, in the form of his frequently reiterated
attacks against the malpractices, idolatry and superstitions and allegiance
to the Pope over and above the King, which liberally pepper Leland’s
text. So many diatribal, anti-Papal digressions!
2. Leland had no established pattern from classical learning on which
to base the structuration and organization of his method or the presentation
of his findings. He had to gropingly find a new albeit tentative way
of organizing his material. And to all intents and purposes it can
be said that he never adequately did so.
- And to the foregoing, there may be added a third consideration,
related to the above:
Lucy Toulmin Smith nor T.D. Kendrick, in their introductory essays
to the 1964 edition of the Itinerary (the second publication of this
work; the first being that of Thomas Hearne in the early 18th century;
and still the most recent transcription of Leland) decisively solve
the problem of the status of Leland’s ms ( and the subsequent
copies). Namely: Did Leland himself regard the text as being in a state
of completion? Or was it regarded by him as a work in progress? A preliminary
draft presented in the hope of securing further royal largesse and
finance so that the ms could be refined with a view - possibly - to
(or in the case of Leland’s Itinarary a series
of incomplete mss, the collation and comparison and analysis of which
allow one to conjecture a relatively fluid yet still difficult, digressive,
broken text of tesserae) is fundamentally different in material status
from a printed text.
A different form of dissemination - and of reading - separates the
manuscript from the printed text.
This undoubtedly gives rise to a highly complex nexus of theoretical
issues regarding the relationship of the acts of writing to those of
reading. Of the fundamental differential specificities separating manuscript
This thorny domain will not be entered at the moment.
Rather, some of the issues arising therefrom will become apparent in
the course of the following text. For there are, I think, digressions
enough as it is below. Therefore, I intentionally leave this - and
other knotty issues - in a state of intentional suspension or deferral;
to be tackled, perhaps in a closing synopsis - or perhaps excluded
from the corpus of the study for reasons of compositional concision.
The above remarks are intended as a tentative caveat: primarily aimed
at myself; and apologetically addressed to the readers of this work
In the following, you are reading over my shoulder, so to speak, as
I write, erase and rewrite. Above all, the pages following are fundamentally,
essentially PROVISIONAL. Intentionally INCONCLUSIVE.
Five key books representing original work of antiquaries.
1. William Lambarde, A Perambulation of Kent, 1576.
- The first published county history. What would a close reading or
comparative deconstruction of the two texts (colllation, etc.) yield
about the nature of whether or not new material had been added? I have
no prior judgements as yet; so far having only read the 1576 edition.
I possess working copies of both.
2. Carew’s Survey of Cornwall, 1605. I have only a modern reprint.
Yet here divisions into hundreds present a different mode of organization.
Also the arrangement of maps is different from Lambarde. The former
has only one large folding map of the county (missing in both my copies,
as it is worth morethan the text.) The latter contains individual maps
of each hundred. - Comparison of the different social status of each
3. Philipot, Villare Cantianum. 1656.
A vexatious text inasmuch as it is arranged via lathe and parish following
the course - evidently - of Philipot’s seasonal peregrinations
into diferent parts of the county. Because of the general state of
the roads in England, antiquaries tended to travel only in spring and
summer. A comparison with Kent as described by Lambarde with this,
a century later.
4. Robert Plot, Oxfordshire, 1676. Here engravings are integral to
the author’s argument. Different, therefore, in format from the
5. William Borlase, The Antiquities of Cornwall, 1756. Followed by
the Natural History of 1765. Borlase was not subject to the contemporary
ridicule of Plot (who was somewhat credulous). In fact, Borlase, although
living in seclusion and elative poverty/modesty as a vicar in a remote
west Cornish parish, was hailed by no less a figure than Dr Johnson
for the scholarship and literary style of his work.
6. Horsfield, The Antiquities [...] of Sussex, 1835. In many ways,
the last of the county histories undertaken in the antiquarian fashion.
- Did the advent of the railway and the alterations wrought on Victorian
society by the industrial and agrarian revolution make the antiquary’s
task somehow redundant? It is to be remembered that the members of
the Pickwick club, touring England in search of the curious, were essentially
lampooned by Dickens. And Pickwick and Horsfield are roughly contemporaneous.
7. England as a whole. William Camden, Britannia. First published in
Latin in 1586. Subsequently translated by Philemon Holland, appearing
Then completely redone by Edmund Gibson, 1695, and again updated in
1722. By which time it had been augmented by Gibson and a whole team
of correspondents and contributors to two hefty folios.
- N.B. these processes of increasing augmentation.
Commentaries on antiquarianism.
These are in the main scattered through a whole variety of journals
from the Victorian period onwards. Often each county zealously guarded
its own historiography.
The first general introduction is T.D. Kendrick, British Antiquity,
Followed by a selection of essays by Stuart Piggott, Ruins in a Landscape,
The best of recent work by far is Graham Parry’s The Trophies
of Time, which is as the author himself admits, intentionally selective,
indicating how epistemology, theology and politics determined several
key antiquarian texts in the 17th century.
Biographies of particular antiquaries are thin on the ground; and,
produced in small print runs by university presses, inevitably expensive.
And, moreover, difficult to obtain as they go out of print so rapidly.
Yet they are being produced sporadically at the moment. Subscription
to mailing-lists or to on-line specialists seems to be the most efficient
way of being informed of such publications.
The historians of antiquarianism - like the original antiquaries and
county historians themselves - are today as close-knit and exclusive
as were their predecessors. Perhaps because they are not studied on
at long last this situation shows signs of changing; for now, in
a small number of university history departments throughout the country,
postgraduate units and courses are evidently focusing upon this aspect
of historiography, most often under the aegis of specific, scattered
scholars who have an active interest in this field; among whom one
may cite Kevin Sharpe, Stephen Bann and Graham Parry as being eminent
in their fields of Tudor and 17th century studies. Also, Professor
Charles Thomas continues on a part-time basis at the University of
Exeter and at the Institute of Cornish Studies to combine the domains
of the historiography of local history, archival research and archaeology
and the history thereof, in specific relation to the counties of Cornwall
and Devon. (In this respect, he has an illustrious predecessor in the
figure of Professor W.G. Hoskins who, with the publication of The Making
of the English Landscape and Local History in England, both originally
published in the 1950s indicated that social history per se could and
should be approached in a far more specific, well-documented manner
than had previously been laid out in the pages of G.M. Trevelyan’s
English Social History. (Trevelyan’s work, although later historians
such as Sir Keith Thomas, in the Preface to Man and the Natural World
in particular, have duly paid homage, now seems as outmoded as the
historiography of Gibbon.)
Today, 2001, the status of the history of antiquarian thought, bears
many resemblances to the status of Structuralism and Deconstruction
(or New Criticism) in the early 1970s. To elucidate:
It exists as a domain of historical and critical inquiry and is academically
recognized as such in a number of university departments. However,
as with Structuralism and Deconstruction (a term I use with severe
misgivings, inasmuch as the supposed ‘erstwhile founder’ of
Deconstruction, Jacques Derrida, has for several decades insisted that
it was never his intention to impose a rigidity of methodology, nor
to establish a canon of texts in the manner of Frye and Bloom in the
U.S.A.. Moreover, he insists that the term was not coined by himself,
but has rather been an epithet he has been encumbered with since the
publication of De la Grammatologie and L’ecriture et la differance.
And if one considers the diffuse nature of the entire output of Derrida,
one can appreciate his own exasperation at being labelled so reductively.
For, the underlying thread of Derrida’s various works is decidedly
anti-reductionist. He prefers to situate himself upon the margins of
specific, established disciplines; and, indeed, regards his own writings,
however brief or long they may be as being essentially marginalia to
the topics under discussion.)
To apply the above observations concerning Derrida to the topic of
Some of those researching in this domain find themselves in Departmens
of History; others in Departments of History; others in Departments
of Cultural Studies.
So far there has not been established in any British institution a
Chair - let alone a Department - of Antiquarian Studies or of Antiquarian
Perhaps that in itself is a good thing. A dynamic opportunity for interdisciplinary
work in progress (which dried up during the repression of Thatcherism’s
malign influence on higher education). As Paul Feyerabend cogently,
passionately (and at times humorously) argued in Against Method, to
compartmentalize knowledge along departmental lines (more often than
not imposed from without, be it Church, State or Department of Education...
in all cases by those with little or no undersanding of research methods)
can only lead to stagnation, or at best thematic variation and repetition.
The early antiquaries and county historians seldom worked within university
environments. The closest any of them had to what might be termed an
academic tenure was Sir William Dugdale, who as Norroy King of Arms
was the undisputed head of the Royal College of Arms. In this position
he was not only the supreme adjudicator in questions of heraldry. He
was also the principle legislator in questions of the utmost importance
in the economics of 17th century England: namely financial inheritance
and land-ownership, having privileged access to the Record Office,
at that time housed in the Tower of London.
As for a specific environment or establishment of antiquarian research,
this still remains a vexed, uncertain issue.
The crux of the argument involvs the question of whether or not there
was a constituted Society of Antiquaries in the late 16th and early
Joan Evans, in her ‘official’ history of the Society of
Antiquaries, published in 1956 (and still evidently regarded by the
Society as its canonical history) presents a confusedly cautious argument
concerning this early society, whereas from the (re)formation of the
Society of Antiquaries in 1707, with Royal assent, documentation becomes
In 1720 there was published a curious collection of treatises and
tracts collected by Thomas Hearne entitled A Collection of curious
Discourses, written by eminent Antiquaries, upon several heads in our
English Antiquities, and now first published by Thomas Hearne, M.A..
This single octavo volume was followed by an augmented 2 volume collection,
again gathered by Hearne, in 1771.
From the notes and journals which he kept,Hearne emerges as a not
particularly likeable, friendly character. One might say that he was
suspicious and vindictive (even to a greater extent than Anthony Wood,
the author/editor/gatherer of material of Athenae Oxoniensis). Problems
of religious belief - his Roman Catholic sympathies - prevented his
development of an academic career in either Oxford or Cambridge, as
well as the other domain of intellectual exchange, the Inns of Court.
As his diaries show, his sympathies for the Jacobite cause surpassed
his allegiance to the Hanoverian. Thus, under the first three Georges
he could not expect any academic or court preferment at all. Indeed,
one gets the impression that he was treated cautiously by his fellow
antiquaries because of his potentially dangerous (even treasonable)
religious allegiance. Nor was his own ill temper particularly endearing.
The 2 volumes of the 1771 edition of Hearne’s Collection functions
as a digest, rather than as a complete record of the proceedings of
the Society of Antiquaries. Ironically, the early antiquaries of the
18th century society do not seem to have been models of custodianship
by any means. One factor was that of the dispersed membership, scattered
across England and Wales. Only a small group seem to have been in regular
attendance at the London meetings - those who lived in easy reach of
London, or who had town properties there. The second contributing actor
was the lack of any permanent base as such for the Society until well
into the 18th century. In the early days the Mitre Tavern seems to
have functioned as meeting place, committee room and library cum study
collection. It was not until the Society of Antiquaries was granted
apartments adjacent to the Royal Academy (where they are still housed
today) that anything akin to a sense of permanence/stability could
be tentatively established.
Moreover, from the outset of its establshment proper, it could be
said (and indeed it was felt by many leading figures of the time) that
the Society of Antiquaries was, in a way, representative of second-league
In intellectual matters (covering both the sciences and the arts) the
Royal Society undoubtedly was far more prestigious.
Thomas Sprat’s History of the Royal Society had been published
as early as 1667 - only seven years after it received its Royal Patent
and patronage from King Charles II. Nor was this a slender tome, but
a quarto of 438pp, proudly emblazoned with a frontispiece of its Patron,
Charles II himself.
Sprat’s History is divided into two sections: the first covering
the historical, political, technological and epistemological issues
which led to the foundation of the Royal Society; the second including
a sample of papers which demonstrated the breadth of the Society’s
interests. Also, the Royal Society published annual volumes of Transactions,
illustrated with detailed engravings on copper; the illustrations themselves
thus forming a testament - in visual terms - to the advances in learning
and dissemination being made by the Royal Society. From Sprat’s
account, and from the pages of the Transactions, it becomes apparent
that the Royal Society’s inquiries were, on the one hand, following
principles laid down by Francis Bacon in The Advancement of Learning,
the Essayes, and his Sylva Sylvarum, demonstrating that observation,
mensuration and experimentation were the keystones of scientific endeavour
and epistemology. Secondly, that conceived thus, science, instead of
being synonymous with idle speculation or specious argumentation, was
not an end in itself - but had technological, and thus economic applications,
both militaristic and mercantile. (Here a certain rivalry with similar
achievements in the Low Countries becomes apparent.)
It would, however, be completely wrong to consider a spirit of antagonism
creating a void separating the Fellow of the Royal Society from the
antiquary during the Stuart and early Georgian period. Quite often,
figures held dual membership.
As a case in point it is worthwhie briefly considering the case of
John Evelyn.He proudly proclaimed his membership of the Royal Society,
and applied its scientific principles to mainly botanical purposes
- both in his practical gardening and forestry, as well as in his book
devoted to forestry, Sylva, and to horticulture and dietics in Acetaria.
On the other hand, such interests did not preclude afervent interest
in Greek and Roman history and literature, quotations from which besprinkle
both the forementioned books.
He published one of the first detailed studies of Roman coins, their
sequence, datings, minting variants, etc. (thus establishing the format
of the modern coin catalogue), Numismata (1697). Preceding this was
his work on the history of engraving (closely related to nuismatics)
in 1662, entitled Sculptura, or the History and Art of Chalcography
and Engraving in Copper; this lastmentioned includes an engraving by
Charles II’s brother Prince Rupert, better known for his military
exploits rather than for his artistic endeavours.
However, it may justifiably be argued that the full range of interests
and erudition of John Evelyn are not truly evident even in the corpus
of his printed work, but are rather to be found in the pages of the
copious, detailed Diaries which he kept.
It is from the 17th century that one can date the commencement of extant
diaries and daybooks and journals in English. For the antiquary, the
diary and the account book were of interest in two ways. First of all,
the discovery of a diary, usually in the form of an manuscript account
of a journey or pilgrimage, or of a chronicle from a monastic house
(and in a sense it can be argued that the chronicle in this context
functions as a sort of collective diary, kept by a series of writers
on behalf of the house and the religious order of which they were members)
formed a textual link with the past. What, using the terminology of
Jacques Derrida, one may justifiably term a written trace of a past
encounter or perception, a witness, documentary evidence, constituting
the archival (see Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever).
Why the diaristic mode came to the fore during the 17th century is
a problem which, albeit deserving detailed attention, lies beyond the
confines of the present text. Some have considered it as a vernacular,
Protestant form of confessional. Others as an extension of book-keeping/accountancy.
As quasi-legalistic memoranda. As catalogues of empirical observation
and experimentation (usually incorporating a financial element) as
in the account-books and recipe books kept by farmers and housewives
often assume a diaristic mode. And upon this last-mentioned point,
attention could again be drawn to Evelyn’s published works; for,
alongside his Sylva, one often finds bound his Kalendarium Hortensis
- the gardener’s almanack. ...And the 17th century marked the
high point of almanack publication (as Sir Keith Thomas has noted in
Religion and the Decline of Magic).
This may seem wildly tangential to the main theme of antiquarianism,
the focal topic of this study.
However, all can be subsumed as being enmeshed in the network of the
written, printed, drawn, engraved... TRACE.
notion of the trace (for which once more I am endebted to Jacques
Derrida) can in turn ‘by a commodious vicus of recirculation’ to
quote James Joyce return the reader to the medieval chronicles (some
of the most important monastic examples being published in the latter
17th century, as well as being incorporated into the original Latin
edition of Dugdale’s Monasticon Anglicanum) which were first
critically perused by John Leland and incorporated into his Itinarary...
the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII undeniably entailed
the loss of an inestimable amount of cultural heritage (as Sir Roy
Strong has noted; and before him, John Aubrey bewailed, as he remembered
seeing bakers’ pie-trays being lined with pages
of illuminated manuscripts, presumably from the large monastic houses,
notably Malmesbury, in his immediate vicinity, as well as other westcountry
religious centres such as Bath and Wimborne (see both Anthony Powell
and Michael Hunter respectively on Aubrey)) the dissolution also caused
many such manuscripts removed from the monastic scriptoria to be brought
into the commercial domain of the collector. Most notable in this field
was Sir Robert Cotton.
Cotton has recently been the subject of critical-historical re-evaluation.
Previously, the major study of him was that by Hope Mirrlees - very
much an amateurish effort, frequently lapsing into a style which
makes the reader cringe - evidently, if one is to judge by the opening
dedicatory preface, owing much to the intervention of T.S. Eliot
at Faber & Faber to see it into print. Like Eliot’s
own forays into Elizabethan and Jacobean cultural criticism, Mirrlees’ text
tends towards the subjective, the nebulous, and the downright condescending
in its attitude towards the reader.
However, thanks to the painstaking work of Kevin Sharpe, the full importance
of Sir Robert Cotton’s contribution to the antiquarian milieu
as collector, writer and eminence grise supporting the work of others
(with the political and ideological ramifications of this) is now being
brought into sharper focus.
Such a reconsideration of a figure as Sir Robert Cotton is indispensible
in any consideration of the history of antiquarianism inasmuch as it
is via a scrutiny of figures such as he that a primary, tentative taxonomy
of the early exponents of antiquarianism -the early antiquaries -becomes
There is, however, one fundamental proviso to be made. Namely that
it is more easy - and meaningful - to speak of various shifts within
the taxonomy or taxonomies of antiquarianism during the period c.1550-1830
rather than to posit any epistemological break(s) (in the sense in
which this term is used by Gaston Bachelard and, following him, Michel
Foucault and Louis Althusser.
.......The epistemological break, when it does take place, as I will
argue, after 1840, effectively brings to an end the antiquarianism
of the early county historians and topographers.
Bruce Cotton (1571-1631) was educated at Westminster School and Jesus
College, Cambridge. (William Camden became head of St Paul’s
School in 1593; the first edition of his Britannia, a small 8vo, was
published in 1586. For further information on the genesis of Camden’s
Britanna, see Stuart Piggott’s essay in Piggott, Ruins in a Landscape).
Cotton’s library , although it was housed in his London residence,
rather than being a separate building or institution, became an intellectual
landmark in late Elizabethan and Stuart London. Among the most eminent
scholars to be allowed use of his collection of coins, books, mss and
curios were Bacon, Camden, Speed, Selden and Ussher.
An indication of the importance of his collection, and the generosity
in allowing access to privileged scholars can be assessed perhaps most
readily by consulting the marginal references to both the Holland and
the Gibson translations and enlargements of Camden’s Britannia.
In one respect, it could be argued that for Cotton, collecting, and
cataloguing his collection, was a means of pursuing antiquarian studies
without actually writing any major work.
In fact, his major work was his collection itself, in its time an unrivalled
database (so to speak) for anyone wishing to pursue antiquarian studies.
It is this which makes the figure of Sir Robert Cotton so elusive,
and in a way partially explains why the abovementioned study of him
can be unintentionally infuriating.
He was undoubtedly possessed of great antiquarian learning. From the
abovementioned list of just some of the leading intellectuals with
whom he mixed, and who availed themselves of his antiquarian and library
collections, one would have expected at least one magnum opus - one
well-composed, perhaps illustrated folio of some 300 pages or so...
the equivalent of a county history of this period. Instead of which
one is faced with a miscellany of relatively short tracts written for
specific purposes, forming part of an interchange of correspondence
within the group of antiquaries who managed to survive the vagaries
of the Civil War. These pieces were collected posthumously by the apparently
inexhaustible James Howell, and published under the title: Cottoni
Posthuma; divers choice Pieces of that Renowned Antiquary Sir Robert
Cotton, Knight and Baronet. By J. H., London 1679.
one essentially fugitive writer’s works become collected
and arranged by another of a similar ilk. For Howell himself is equally
difficult to pin down.
- At which point a few words are necessary concerning J.H. (James Howell)
Howell, so it seems, had no antiquarian training by the standards of
his day. He was certainly no Bacon, Camden, Dugdale, Plot or Carew.
Nor was he particularly adept at epitomizing or paraphrasing the travails
of other antiquaries and chorographers, as were, for instance,Nathaniel
Crouch who, under the pseudonym of ‘R.B’ [an allusion,
or perhaps a misrepresentation or impersonation of Robert Burton, author
of The Anatomy of Melancholy...?] composed the derivative Admirable
Curiosities Rarities and Wonders in England, Scotland and Ireland,
1697 - largely gleaned from Camden.
As for Howell, it seems that his major publication was entitled
Epistolae Ho-Elianae, Familiar Letters, Domestic and Forren [...],
Third Edition 1655, apparently adding further letters with each edition.
It is difficult to disentangle and decode Howell’s highly readable
farrago of epistolary observations and researches.
At a first reading of the opening 100 pages or so, one is under the
impression that these are letters being written whilst on a tour of
Europe, back to friends, family and benefactors. However, during the
Civil War, it seems that Howell spent much time incarcerated in the
Tower, as his political allegiances were considered dubious by both
sides. Thus it remains debatable as to what extent his observations
are factual, eyewitness reports; or recollections of former travels;
or, indeed, fabrications based upon his own reading, conversation with
other political prisoners, embellished with his own fancies.
It seems strange, therefore, that the erstwhile literary executorship
of such a distinguished and wealthy person as Sir Robert Cotton should
be entrusted to such a person of - it would seem - questionable credentials,
and certainly lacking intellectual acumen and honesty.
The actual basis (if any) of the Cotton-Howell relationship certainly
needs more clarification.
However, having stated that much, perhaps this is not a single, isolated
instance of literary entanglement and intellectual property-rights.
investigate the career of Sir William Camden, or even to carefully
evaluate the various elements and figures at work in the masive reshapings
which his magnum opus, the Britannia, went through from the first
small 8vo Latin edition to Gough’s late 18th century
text would demand a study in itself, incorporating detailed biographies
of all the various contributors to the different editions, and the
fundamental difference in prose style separating the first English
translation by Philemon Holland (erstwhile ‘translator-general
of his age’, so many Latin texts did he render into English)
strange, not to say apparently unfair that several writers on the
historiography of English topography have sought to belittle Philemon
Holland’s translation. The most common critique is that he took
so many liberties with Camden’s Latin, whilst adding turns of
phrase and additional material of his own, that he produced a mangled
text. However, before proceeding further, some minimal information
concerning Philemon Holland himself.
Philemon Holland (1552-1637) was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge,
and, as a doctor of medicine, was master of the free school at Coventry
from 1628, receiving a pension from that city in 1632. In 1600 his
translation of Livy was published; a year later, 1601, followed the
mammoth folio of Pliny’s Natural History. Then followed Plutarch’s
Moralia in 1603; in 1606 his Suetonius; in 1609 Ammianus Marcellinus;
in 1610 his Camden’s Britannia, with maps by Kip; finally, 1632,
his version of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia. Sir Paul Harvey in the
Oxford Companion to English Literature (1950 ed.)
His knowledge of Greek and Latin was accurate and profound, and his
renderings are made in a vivid, familiar, and somewhat ornamented
To the above comments it may be added that Shakespeare scholarship
has uncovered many borrowings of turns of phrase from his translations
of Pliny and Suetonius peppering the works of the bard himself.
by the end of the 17th century a new edition of Camden’s
Britannia was thought desirable. This desire fuelled in no small way
by the burgeoning of county histories and antiquarian research in England,
instead of a reissue of Holland’s translation, it was decided
that the whole enterprise should be started anew.
Underlying this drastic overhaul there seem to be two determinant factors.
First of all, to correct faults and oversights within Holland’s
text, incorporating research undertaken by the various corresponding
contributors since the appearance of the 1610 edition.
Secondly, to add appropriate references and marginalia where necessary.
...Which two primary factors contributed to the third, most drastic,
namely: acomplete overhaul of text and translation.
In the process, the text which Camden had originally conceived and
composed became little more than a scaffolding around which later accretions
by Edmund Gibson and his colleagues entirely restructured their text
and concept of the Britannia.
Although Stuart Piggott has magisterially traced the genesis of this
text, it is, I think, worthwhile drawing attention to a factor which
Piggott tends to pass over in silence in his own essay: namely, what
has been LOST in the process of this major revision undertaken under
the direction of Gibson, which culminated (in the first stage) in the
1695 edition of Camden’s Britannia.
Stuart Piggott indicates that by no means all of Gibson’s ‘improvements’ are
for the better. Take the following excerpt from Piggott’s essay,
new translation has precision and a comfortable dignity, though one
regrets at times the enthusiastic, if wayward, style of Holland.
We lose, for instance, the charming phrase which describes Camden’s
visit to Hadrian’s Wall - ‘Verily I have seene the tract
of it over the high pitches and steepe descents of hilles, wonderfully
rising and falling’, which is accurately, but how flatly, rendered ‘I
have observ’d the track of it running up the mountains and down
again, in a most surprising manner’.
[Piggott, Ruins..., p. 48]
As Piggott comments:
Here then was the Britannia adapted to the needs of the new school of antiquaries
of the early eighteenth century, the circle of William Stukeley and the Gales,
of Francis Wise, Ralph Thoresby and Sir John Clerk.
[ibid., p. 48]
Piggott raws attention to the fact that the subsequent edition of
1722 acknowledged John Aubrey’s conribution to scholarship
concerning Avebury in particular . On the other hand, however, Piggott
elides the underhand way in which everyone except Aubrey himself seemed
to benefit from his benevolence in circulating the various drafts of
the facsicules of his work in progress, The Monumenta Britannia. Nor
does Piggott indicate the unscrupulous way in which William Stukeley
was later to pillage Aubrey ms masterpiece, and pioneering work of
field archaeology. In fact, in his biography on Stukeley (which still
remains the standard work on this antiquary) the apparently partisan
Piggott heralds Stukeley as one of the most humane of eighteenth-century
archaeologists and scholars. Personally, I am more inclined to the
opinion regarding Stukeley propounded by Professor Michael Hunter in
his monograph on John Aubrey and in his co-authored (yet predominantly
his) Avebury Reconsidered as being a plagiarist, mentally unstable,
primarily wishing to somehow reconcile his fabulist druidism with his
own Christian beliefs.
A NOTE ON THE PRESENTATION OF THE FOLLOWING TEXT.
Each section - where appropriate, i.e. devoted to a text or the oeuvre
of a specific antiquary - is prefaced by a brief biographical entry
concerning the writer in question. Most of these are taken, with alterations
and augmentations where apt, from the Dictionary of National Biography.
Such information, it is hoped, will cast light on the background of
the specific writers: be it the socially privileged status which they
enjoyed (for in the period under consideration, access to archival
material, travel, even the time and materials for writing, demanded
either an unearned (landed, mercantile/speculative, etc.) income; or
the support of wealthy patronage - which in itself was no guarantee
given the fickleness of court politics during this period.
ANTIQUARIANISM & COUNTY
RANDOM NOTES ON SPECIFIC TEXTS, No. 1
WILLIAM LAMBARDE. A PERAMBULATION OF KENT, 1576.
*** The first published county history.
only monograph on William Lambarde so far published was written by
Retha Warnicke. Containing valuable background detail, Dr Warnicke’s
text, however, does not engage in a close reading of Lambarde’s
text on Kent. Questions such as the methods used by Lambarde in the
collection of his data - especially whence they came, access to Tower
Records, the extent of his own collection, etc., are absent from the
Indeed, as this study has progressed, one worrying problem has come
to light - to the present researcher - namely that of the extent of
the books and antiquarian objects owned by the antiquaries themselves.
Of the many people who have assisted me in the groundwork of this text,
all have emphasized one particular problem. Namely, following the dath
of the person in question, the dispersal of their collections of books
and objects by subsequent generations. The upheavals of the 17th century,
and the many economic crises of the 18th century impoverished many
leading families. Thus the contents of cabinets of curiosities were
sold off, scattered; or in one specific case, relocated in an unintended
environment - the case in point being the cabinet of John Tradescant,
now housed in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral, and thus no longer
in what may be termed a working environment.
Samuel Pepys’ collection (or at least that portion which he did
not consider embarrassing, salacious, etc.,) along with the ornate
bookcases, was donated to his old college of Wadham after his death.
Thus the Pepys collection remains in an academic environment - even
though Pepys himself found admiralty service far more lucrative than
the pursuit of an academic career. Nevertheless, incorporated into
a college library, the ‘feel’ of Pepys’ intended
and eventually achieved reading-closet (as a place of privacy where
only the most privileged guests were allowed) has now been radically
altered - albeit preserved after a fashion.]
[From the D.N.B.:]
WILLIAM (1536-1601), historian of Kent, born in the parish of St.
Nicholas Acon, London, on 18 Oct. 1536, was the eldest son of John
Lambarde, draper, alderman, and sheriff of London. [...] On the death
of his father in August 1554, he inherited the manor of Westcombe
in Greenwich, Kent. He was admitted of Lincoln’s Inn on 12 April
1556, and studied Anglo-Saxon with Laurence Nowell. [This information
is evidently taken from Anthony Wood’s Athenae Oxoniensis, which
first appeared in Latin translation, under the direction of Dr Fell,
who, evidently, expunged many of the more candid passages. In 1721
there was published a second - English language - edition, largely
thanks to the travails of Thomas Tanner, whose Notitia Monastica was
published in 1695 - much detail being taken from Dugdale’s Monasticon
Anglicanum (an epitome of which, translated and devised by James Wright,
the historian of Rutland, in 1695, was unfairly dismissed by Lowdnes
in his Biblographer’s Manual, as a work of little use!)]
[To return to Lambarde following the D.N.B.:] His first work, undertaken
at the request of Nowell, was a collection and translation or rather
paraphrase, of the Anglo-Saxon laws [...]
[...] In 1570, when residing at Westcombe, Lambarde completed the first
draft of his ‘Perambulation of Kent : containing the Description,
Hystorie, and Customes of that Shyre’, and sent it to his friend
Thomas Wotton [the dedicatee of both editions of Lambarde’s Peramulation].
It was read in manuscript and commended by Archbishop Parker and Lord
Treasurer Burghley. Wotton printed it with the author’s additions
in 1576, 4to, London. This, the earliest county history known, is justly
considered as a model of arrangement and style. The first edition contains ‘The
Names of suche of the Nobilitie and Gentrie as the Heralds recorded
in their Visitation 1574’, which is omitted in subsequent issues.
A second edition appeared in 1596, a third edition is undated, and
others were issued in 1640 and 1656. A reprint of the second edition,
with a life of Lambarde, was published at Chatham in 1826, 8vo. From
Lambarde’s own letter to Wotton, accompanying the second edition,
it appears that he had already collected materials for a general account
of England, of which the ‘Perambulation’ was an instalment.
He abandoned his design upon learning that Camden was engaged on a
similar engagement [...] Camden, in acknowledging his obligations to
the ‘Perambulation’, eulogises Lambarde as ‘eminent
for learning and piety’ (Britannia, ‘Kent’, Introduction);
the ‘piety’ apparently refers to his having founded almshouses
at East Greenwich called the College of the Poor of Queen Elizabeth.
The queen granted letters patent for the foundation of this charity
in 1574, and it was opened on 1 Oct. 1576 [the year of publication
of the first edition of the ‘Perambulation’].
On 9 Feb. 1578-9 Lambarde was chosen a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, and
on 6 Aug. of the same year was appointed a justice of the peace for Kent. He
fulfilled his duties honourably, and expounded them in ‘Eirenarchia:
or the Office of the Justices of the Peace [...] London, 1581. [...]
the D.N.B. entry, it is evident that Lambarde became embroiled, of
necessity, in matters of national and local law and judiciary. This
indicates, from the inception of the role of the county historian,
his entanglement, whether desired or an encumbrance, with the intricacies
of the Elizabethan and Jacobean legal system. In fact, such burdens
seem to have been a necessary function of landowners in the Elizabethan
and Jacobean period. This point has been indicated above, in the
introductory pages of this study. In this respect alone, the early
county historian markedly differs from his subsequent followers.
This, it seems plausible to conjecture, was entangled with the county
as landowner - and often member of te titled gentry with oligations
of a national and local parliamentary character.]
June 1592 Lambarde was appointed a master in chancery by Lord -keeper
Sir John Puckering, and made keeper of the records at the Rolls Chapel
by Sir Thomas Egerton on 26 May 1597. In 1597 by William Brooke,
lord Cobham, as one of his executors and trustees for establishing
his college for the poor at Cobham, Kent, and drew up the roles for
the government of the charity. He was personally noticed by the queen
in 1601, and appointed on 21 Jan. keeper of the records in the Tower.
On 4 Aug. of the same year he presented Elizabeth with an account which
he called his ‘Pandecta Rotulorum’, and he left behind
a delightfully quaint note in the queen’s privy chamber at East
Lambarde died died at Westcombe on 19 Aug. 1601 and was buried in Greenwich
Thus, gratis the pages of the Dictionary of National Biography, does
the figure behind the text (within the text? who left his traces upon
the text?) become more visible.
One name which needs more attention in this respect is that of Laurence
Nowell, evidently a formative figure in the subsequent shaping of Lambarde’s
full and variegated life, one devoted to law and languages as well
as with the recording of the most memorable places in his chosen county,
the county in which he was a landowner - an important consideration.
One could tentatively argue that it was his allegiance and commitment
to this specific county qua landowner which determined his writing.
But this is not the whole of the story, as so much of his other writing
points to a culture of Renaissance classical humanism as it percolated
Sir T.D. Kendrick, in his groundbreaking overview of antiquarianism,
British Antiquity , 1950, comments thus:
[...] even at the end of the [16th] century,it required some courage
to study Saxon antiquities for their own sake, it ws probably antiquarian
and topographical interests that in the first instance inspired the
Saxon researches of Laurence Nowell, Dean of Lichfield, whose knowledge
and collections bore fruit in the topographical dictionary of his friend
William Lambarde, and at least as early as 1574 for for even the pagan
Saxons had become noticeable. [...]
[T.D. Kendrick, British Antiquity, Methuen & co, London, 1950.]
continues by drawing attention to the continuation of Saxon studies
during the seventeenth century, especially in the work of Richard
Rowlands, alias Richard Verstegan, especially in his Restitution
of Decayed Intelligence, 1634; also to be noted in Stephen Skinner’s
Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae of 1671. [N.B. It is interesting/significant
that the word ANTIQUARY is ABSENT from the entries in this book. One
problem being, of course, the precise cutting of Saxon characters for
the seventeenth-century letter-press... and how many keyboards in the
present day have a function to render Saxon characters?
as as a tentative explanation of this curious phenomenon during this
period was the primacy of classical scholarship at grammar school
and universities; thus leaving the quaintness, so to speak, of Saxon
characters, to a small, scattered group of aficionados? (To cite
an instance from the 20th century, one could name J.R.R.Tolkien’s
devoted studies to runic and Saxon texts: an enthusiasm which was passed
on to his immediate scholars, but never entered the mainstream of university
education, but remained the enclave of scholars who had come under
the influence of Tolkien, or of his immediate scholars... such as Dr
Stephen Medcalf, formrly of the University of Sussex; the only peson,
other than Seamus Heaney, whom I have heard attempt to render vocally
the cadences of Saxon poetry in performance.)
the above it is worth noting the following specifically. First of
all, that Lambarde’s researches were evidently begun in situ,
in his manor of Westcombe, in Kent itself, rather than in his London
chambers where, with the exception of the holdings of of the ecclesiastical
libraries of Canterbury and Maidstone, a walk around the confines of
the City would have yielded up a greater, more easily accssible source
of original documentation at locations such as the Inns of Court and
the Tower Records. For, given the social importance of Lambarde’s
patron and dedicatee, Thomas Wotton, he would have been grnted relatively
easy access to the major royal and governmental repositories of records
Do we have here an instance of Lambarde writing and studying in the
comfort of his own demesne, free from the pressures of the London court
and social life/ Moreover, in writing in retirement and retreat in
his own property, would this have brought him into closer affiitive
proximity with the county about which he was writing?
last-mentioned hypothesis is in tune with A.L. Rowse”s
argument, cited above, concerning what he eferred to as ‘the
Elizabethan Discovery of England’ - a discovery (and conquest)
undertaken on horseback, in carriages and on foot, rather than in galleons
and pinnaces; the navigation of roads rather than seas and oceans.
Moreover, continuing this line of thought, it is possible to argue
that more enduring sources of riches (in the form of mines, land improvement,
cattle improvement, and the Elizabethan agricultural revolution which
swept away much of the medieval malpractice associated rightly or wrongly
in the period mind with monosticism) accrued to English wealth, than
from overseas quests for gold, and plundering of Spanish and Portuguese
fleets. And, it must be said, at a much lesser degree of risk and outlay.
...After all, Queen Elizabeth, in the course of her rumbling Progresses
around southern England, imprinted her presence on the land. She was
the first monarch of England to undertake such tours of her own isle.
It was good propaganda, reinforcing loyalty to monarchy especially
in the wake of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, as well as a way
of attempting to check the spread of Catholic recusancy, reinorcing
the notion of Defendor of the Faith, a title which her father Henry
VIII had first assumed following his split from the allegiance to the
Papacy in the course of his intricate marriage manipulations.
Having no textual precursor or template from which to work, or from
which to derive his own ideas of presentation, how does Lambarde construct
and present his finished text?
In the following draft, I take the two published editions into consideration
This of course begs the most important question of exactly how, by
what means, Lambarde arrived at this finished - or at least published
There are important issues which should be tackled prior to opening
these books and attempting any analytical reading.
The most important of these are as follows:
1. The why of the text. That is, what function did it have for Lambarde
as a process of composition?
2. Who were his intended readership?
3. What did he consider as the primary function of the completed text?
What political, ideological and social (let alone personal investment)
purpose did he envisage the text as fulfilling?
4. How did he go about the preliminary research?
5. How did he arrive at the scheme of presentation as it is laid out
in printed form?
6. How did he consider the interaction between text and the large map
(which is lacking in both editions which I possess and have used in
the following... a large, fold-out map which evidently did not survive
as well as the texts (size of print run??). During the 19th century,
and evidently as late as the 1950s - and even after - quite often the
map was removed from the book, framed and glazed as a separate item.
Thus, a cartographical element which was bound into the book as part
of its essential contents, was removed, as the cartographical became
recognized as an artform independent of the book itself.
Thus, what was intended as a documentary element, changed function,
and became regarded as a purely decorative element, prized far more
than the book itself. The value of the book lay in the map above all
A subsection of the gentle art o book breaking.
After all, there were dealers in antiquarian engraved items long before
the book (apart from the incunable) achieved the corresponding status.
Here again, the history of collecting interferes with, intrudes upon.
the history of textual production.
the following notes constitute a preliminary, tentative counting and
identification of the major pieces of the jigsaw, so to speak, prior
to the construction of any evaluative argument in tentatively cogent
Lambarde commences his text by casting a critical eye implicitly and
explicitly over the ms chronicles of the medieval period. Especially
those of monastic origin.
The only text upon which he dwells which was available in printed form
at this date was that of Polydore Vergil, of whom he writes as if his
intended readership hould already be acquainted with his work.
[For the status of Polydore Vergil’s text during the Tudor period,
a good point of departure is provided by T.D. Kendrick in British Antiquity.
For future reference and further research].
The very notion of a critical prologue at this date (i.e. of publication)
suggests that Lambarde had a relatively good grasp of contemporary
Renaissance historiographical methods. And also of Italian humanist
thought as it percolated into England. He was certainly adept enough
to handle certain humanist literary conventions, as his experimentations
in Latin poetry demonstrate.
Following on from this, it would seem valid to surmise that Lambarde
aspired to place the topographical (or chorographical) description
upon a similar footing and ranking as history and poetry. In other
words, as an essential component of humanist scholarship. The output
of the Tudor court was thus in no way markedly inferior to that of
her continental counterparts, albeit they might have enjoyed a head
It is worthwhile paying careful attention to the opening dedication
to Thomas Wotton. In this passage, Lambarde mentions
i. that he received assistance from others in the loction, transcription
and indication of materials and documents of importance. This suggests
a convivial sharing and exchange of information and knowledge, ideally
part and parcel of Renaissance scholarship; the brotherhood of humanism
extolled by Italian precursors such as Alberti and Vespasiano da Bisticci
among many others.
ii. Note also the significance of the extended metonymy which he uses
in this dedicatory text.
He takes his basic rhetorical figure or trope from IRON FOUNDING -
the industry which was at this time primarily linked with the Weald
of Kent and Sussex.
Lambarde develops this trope by comparing textual composition with
the casting of base metal (having removed the dross) into ‘certeine
rude, and unformed Sowze, not unmeete for a workeman’.
By extension, therefore,Lambarde positions his own literary or rather
textual endeavours upon a specific scale of humanistic cultural pursuits.
The undertaking of the topographer is, he implies, somewhat further
down the social scale than that of other humanist pursuits. His own
literary craftsmanship is of a fundamentally lowly nature when compared
with the productions of the cultural hierarchy.
iii. Thus, via metonymical implication, it seems that Lambarde cast
himself in the role of mining prospector and iron founder in regard
to his antiquarian and topographical reearches.
This rhetorically well-crafted foreword is followed by a commendatory
reply from the dedicatee, Thomas Wotton, following which ambarde once
again obliquely approaches the problem of the intended readership,
the mode of reading implicit in his text, and the utility of such writing.
From the vantage point of the early 21st century, it is difficult
to fully appreciate the diffiulties faced by Lambarde in determining
precisely who constituted his readership; what they expected of his
text; and indeed whether the text would be lisible (in the Barthesian
sense) to his contemporaries. There seems to be a nagging worry that
the text would somehow meet with incomprehension; that there would
be a linguistic rift separating Lambarde from his readership. Put briefly:
would they comprehend his intentions, let alone appreciate the labour
invested in the production of such a tome?
And at this point there arises the thorny problem of how such a pioneering
topographical text as Lambarde’s was marketed.
There was, of course, the precedent of Camden’s Britannia, and
before that, the description of Britain presented as a prolonged avant-propos
to Holinshed’s Chronicles - and often, it seems, bound separately
from the Chronicles themselves.
Lambarde’s text (difficult to appreciate and to succinctly formulate
today, in the wake of the ongoing series of the volumes of the Victoria
County History and the far more easily accessible volumes of the highly
successful Penguin Buildings of England series) seemed to defy the
taxonomies of reading at the time. It did not readily fit into the
syllabuses of the schools and universities of his time, inasmuch as
it was not History as such. Perhaps the nearest classical precursor
was to be located in Pausanias’ guide to Greece. But then again,
to the Tudor classicist, to compare the legendary achievements of Greek
civilization with the traces of human settlement and cultivation contained
in Lambarde’s survey of Kent would have seemed rather absurd.
Moreover, fine and undoubtedly important book that it is, there is
one serious drawback to both the 16th century editions of his text.
Both lack any illustrations. And, to the general scholar, perhaps based
in the environs of London, there might feasibly be a reason for visiting
the major ecclesiastic sites, namely Canterbury, Rochester and Maidstone,
if only on the offchance of visiting the monastic libraries; and, after
the Reformation, in a more piratical fashion, paying a visit to ascertain
what could be purchased or plundered from such sites. For, indeed,
the backbone of many private libraries - and there were few, books
being such expensive commodities - of the time was in fact the result9s
of pillaging the monastic libraries.
to be borne in mind that ‘sightseeing’ as a category
of pleasure per se was not widely developed in Tudor and early Stuart
England. Travel, for most, consisted in the trudge to nearby work.
For the wealthy, too, it was something of an ordeal rather than a pastime:
the necessity of balancing one’s time between court and countryside.
And when in the countryside, within an agrarian-based economy, it was
the careful overseeing and maintainance of one’s own property
which was of paramount importance. Necessity rather than pleasure remained
the fundamental dynamic for travel within England until the Restoration.
I set upon this date, for it saw the publication of the first of the
genre of ‘road books’, namely that of John Ogilby who in
strip-format showed the accepted routes interlinking the major English
centres of commerce. However, in another way, Ogilby’s undertaking,
however laudable, was both impractical and unnecessary. The format
and expense of the book made it impractical for even carriage travel.
Moreover, most journeys, because of the foulness of the ways in bleaker
parts of the countryside, and the mercantile commerce betwixt nearby
towns, were relatively short. Or, if a longer progress was intended
from town house to country house (so that the London house could be
adequately cleansed, and to avoid the dangers of pestilence in summer,
then guides and outriders were quite often hired at stages along the
route: hence the growth of the coaching inns from the late medieval
to the late Georgian period.
following the above digression, to return to the text which it was
intended to contextualize - namely Lambarde’s Kent.
Upon close reading, one consideration which is pparently absent, or
elided in the opening pages is the UTILITY of the text, as well as
(i.e. the manner in which Lambarde intends it to be read). Is this
an instance of what might be termed the anxiety of incomprehension,
of the ILLISIBLE - pace Roland Barthes - on Lambarde’s behalf?
In place of which, one finds a preface of elisions preceding the corpus
of the text proper.
In this manner Lambarde defers or elides any precise definition of
his text or its purpose. Instead, by adopting a policy of omission,
he so constructs the text that the way of reading it and its purpose
becomes apparent the more the reader explores, or travels into the
Once familiarized with Lambarde’s compositional style, structure
and function, then the reader may with more confidence dip into or
consult the book for specific information concerning a particular locality
(whether familiar or unknown) within the county.
It is essential to indicate - and few if any of the writers on antiquarian
topography have done so - that for the earliest readers of volumes
such as Lambarde’s Kent (and to a lesser extent, Carew’s
Cornwall of 1602, where the division by hundreds, each prefaced by
its respective map results in a greater clarity of exposition and organization)
the very novelty and innovation of the genre produced its own pleasures
Unfortunately, few readers, whether ‘famous’ or otherwise
have bequeathed written accounts of what and how they read. The two
major diarists of the 17th century - Pepys and Evelyn - are the exception.
Especially with regard to the history of antiquarian and topographical
research, th only means of tracing modes of reading is via the footnotes
and references one finds in their texts to the texts of others. Only
very, very rarely does one find an annotated copy of a county history
- and even less frequently a bound interleaved copy, so that the reader
may make comments without intruding upon the text itself.
And such copies, it seems, are in general to be found on the shelves
of the country houses which have remained in the same family for generations,
and whose libraries are still intact - yet inaccessible to all intents
and purposes to the general researcher. Seldom do such copies come
onto the open market at the present time.
A few tentatively inconclusive remarks on Lambarde now follow.
is little to be found in the way of descriptive, detailed topography
in his book. Does this indicate a lack of the command of what might
be called the EKPHRASIS OF PLACE in Lambarde’s writing?
To elucidate what is intended by the above (unintentionally gnomic)
question. take a representative passage from Leland for reading - and
As an entirely random choice of venue, cetermined by the page at which
the 1576 edition of Lambarde fell open, take Faversham as an example.
(A spur of the moment, aleatoric choice).
First of all, to quote from Leland’s Itinerary the longest discussion
of Faversham contained therein:
is a market town franchised with a sanctuary, and hath a great abbey
of blake monkes of the fundation of King Stephane. The towne is encluded
yn one paroche, but that ys very large. Ther cummeth a creke to the
towne that bereth vesels of xx. tunnes, and a myle fro thens north
est is a great key cawled Thorn to disscharge bygge vessels. The
creke is fedde with a bakke water that cummeth fro Ospring and a
thorowgh fare amyle and more of, wherwas sumtyme a Meason de Dieu,
that now longeth to S. John’s yn Cambrige. Herteye joyning to
Shepeye liyth agaynt Faversham and the Thorn.
Itinerary, L.T. Smith ed., vol. 4, p. 68f.]
(Leland’s Itinerary was undertaken and written c. 1535-1543)
And now, Faversham as recorded by Lambarde in the 1576 edition:
is very likely, that the Towne of Feversham received the chiefe nourishment
of her increase from the Religious house; So there is no doubt, that
the place was somewhat of price long time before the building of
that Abbay there. For it is to be seene, that King Ethelstane helde
a Parleament, and enacted certeine lawes at Feversham, about sixe hundreth
and fortie yeares agoe: at which time (I thinke) it was some Manor
house belonging to the Prince, the rather, for afterwarde King William
the Conquerour (to whose handes at length it came) amongst other thinges,
gave the advowson of the Church, to the Abbay of S. Augustines, and
the Manor itself to a Normane in recompence of service. But what time
king Stephan had in purpose to build the Abbay, he recovered the Manor
againe, by exchange made with one William de Ipre (the founder of Boxley)
for Lillychurch and raysing there a stately Monasterie (the temporalities
whereof did amount to a hundred and fiftie & five poundes) he stored
it with Cluniake Monkes.
This house, was first honoured with the buriall of Adelicia the Queene
his wife: Then with the sepulture of Eustachius his only sonne: and
shortly after himself also was there interred by them. I reade none
other thing worthy remembrance touching this place, Save that in the
reigne of King John, there brake out a great controversie betweene
him and the Monkes of S. Augustines, touching the right of Patronage
of the Churche at Feversham. For, notwithstanding that King William
the Conquerour, had given it to the Abbay (as appeareth before) yet,
there wanted not some (of which Hubert the Archebishop was one) that
whispered King John in the eare, that the right of the Advowson was
devoluted unto him: which thing he beleeving, presented a Clarke to
the Churche, and besides commaunded by his writ, that his presentee
should be admitted. The Abbat on the other side withstoode him, & for
the more sure enjoying of his possession, not onely ejected the Kings
Clarke, but also sent thither divers of his Monkes to keepe the Church
by strong hand. When the King understoode of that, he commaunded the
Sheriffe of the Shyre, to levie the power of his countie, and to restore
his presentee: Which commaundement the officer endeavoured to put in execution
accordingly: But such was the courage of these holy hoorsons, that before the
Sheriffe could bring it to passe, he was driven to winne the Churche by assault,
in the which he hurt and wounded divers of them, and drewe and haled the rest
out of doores, by the haire and heeles.
[Lambarde, 1576, p. 202f.]
Tempting though it is to quote more from Lambarde, for reasons of
brevity and focus of argument, the aboe must suffice.
From a comparison of the two excerpts quoted above, the crucial difference
of approach separating not only the style and presentation, but also
the fundamental purpose of Leland and Lambarde respectively comes to
For Leland, the essential task is the presentation of a prose-picture,
a topographical ekphrasis of the situation of aversham as it presents
itself to the traveller. For him, it is the present impression of the
specific situation (wherever it may be) which is the essential point.
Lambarde, on the other hand, enjoys to add touches of human embellishment
- so much the better if they are scandalous, scurrilous and highlight
religious (most often Romish) malpractice. After all, for the writers
of the post-Reformation and Dissolution period it was de rigeur to
emphasize the potential perils, scandals and corruptions from which
England had been saved by severing links with Rome. Today, his reference
to the recalcitrant monks as ‘hoorsons’ (i.e. ‘whoresons’)
may provoke a titter - that within such a sober work of scholarship
such low-life epithets may be found. However, at the time, such humour
or rough parlance served a polemical purpose, indicating the necessity
of maintaining constant vigilance against the threat posed by Papal
influence. For indeed, the view of English history presented by John
Foxe in his Acts and Monuments, as that of a constant striggle against
the corruptions of the Church of Rome after the period of the disciples
and apostles, was one which percolated the whole of English society
(except, of course, those pockets of recusancy in which the Catholic
faith was clandestinely maintained).
Neither Leland nor Lambarde shows the least regret for the cultural
potential which had been swept away in the more impassioned outbursts
of iconoclasm of the Reformation. Indeed, it would have been politically
dangerous - if not potentially treasonable - to express any regrets
in writing, especially in print.
...Which left the antiquary of this period is somewhat of a quandry.
On the one hand, the relics and traces of the past deserved a secular
recognition. Yet on the other hand, preservation could lead slowly
into a backsliding into Romish idolatry, and, of more importance, of
the supreme allegiance which the English subject owed to the reigning
monarch, rather than to the Papacy (or the Bishop of Rome as he is
most often termed in the pages of Foxe).
remarks arisisng from Retha M. Warnicke’s study
William Lambarde: Elizabethan Antiquary.
Published over 20 years ago (and evidently never reprinted or updated)
this still remains the canonical - the sole - monograph on William
Lambarde; this despite the re-evaluations of antiquarianism and the
history of collecting and paleography during the interim period. (I
am not taking into account any essays on Lambarde printed in the several
journals devoted to Kent local history, or bref references in historical
journals such as Notes and Queries
The Seventeenth Century, The Library , &c. )
Warnicke aptly draws attention to Lambarde’s privileged
social position: namely his relative wealth, both in land and in financial
investment. Secondl, his positions of influence and access to circles
of refinement, firstly at the University of Oxford and then at the
Inns of Court.
Continuing to quote from Retha Warnicke (p. 27):
he [Lambarde] had an unfavourable opinion of Stonehenge which he
believed had been built in honour of the deaths of British noblemen.
He wrote that he not seen anything impressive about the stones for ‘they
hange with no more Wonder then one Post of a House hangeth upon another
problem of the dating of Stonehenge remained a vexed issue from the
late middle ages until the relatively methodical investigations and
conjectures of Sir Richard Colt Hoare in the early nineteenth century,
which dispelled many of the antiquaries’ hypotheses, paving the
way for the investigations of Professors R.G.C. Atkinson and Alexander
Thom - despite the great variance which separates their conclusions.
More accessible - for the layman as opposed for the archaeological
controversialist - are the well-written popular contributions of Rodney
Legg and John Fowles (who have collaborated upon establishing he first
published transcribed text of Aubrey’s Monumenta Britannica ;
a text which will be discussed during the course of this work in progress;
see below, eventually).
to Retha Warnicke’s monograph; p.30:
Although the chronicles and their narratives formed a major part
of the work formed a major part , the Perambulation has a significant
historical importance because it contains many of Lambarde’s
own personal observations about sixteeenth century.
Again, from p. 30:
apparent that he [Lambarde] visited Kent often and knew the county
well, since he discusssed with some authority its climate, the people
and their customs, the land and its vegetation, the rivers and its
vegetation, the rivers and the ships that sailed them, and the tenures
of land and their history. Although the chroniclers and their narratives
formed a major portion of the work, the Perambulation has a significant
historical importance because it contains many of Lambarde’s
own personal observations about 16th-century Kent.
Warnicke continues by drawing attention to the meticulous characteristics
of Kilburne’s textual composition which are quite apposite
in this context. She comments:
Usually he begins his description of the Kentish towns with a discussion
of their histories, but occasionally, as with the village of Teynham,
he permitted his own feelings to take precedence:
I woulde begin with the Antiquities of the Placeas commonly I doe
in others, were it not that the latter and present estate thereof far
passeth any that hath been tofore it. For heere have wee, not onely
the most dainty piece of all our Shyre, but such a singularitie as
the whole British Island is not able to patterne.
that Retha Warnicke has great empathy with her subject - William
Lambarde - she is critically aware of the shortcomings of his outlook
and textual approach concerning the responsibilities of the tasks
of the county historian. Moreover, it is significant in the pasage
about to be quoted, Lambarde’s approach was - even as he wrote
- going out of favour; that another mode of writing was being painstakingly
greatest modern criticism of the county history [i.e. Lambarde’s;
although the remarks, I think, can be applied to many other texts -
both published and remaining in ms form during the Interregnum] is
that the author dwelt too long on its Saxon past, and not enough on
the county of his own day. Primarily a Saxon scholar, Lambarde was
not interested in the ancient Britons and he had very little to add
to that period of English history. [...]
(Warnicke, p. 35]
a tentative aside, could one state that the same criticism is valid
for another book of the seventeenth century, devoted to the antiquities
and topography of Kent - namely Philipot’s Villare Cantianum,
a text which will be considered later in this study?
in the forgoing text, Lambarde was not an antiquary pure and simple,
but performed many other functions; one of which was that of Justice
of the Peace. As Warnicke indicates, in this capacity, Lambarde was
responsible, among other things, his responsibility for the levying
of militia and the mustering of troops, etc.. This was in one sense
- that of his later readership and the collectors of antiquarian county
histories - tangential to his work as an antiquary. Nonetheless, Retha
Warnicke’s comments that his cultural-topographical efforts were
by no means his exclusive concerns and commitments. Considered from
another viewpoint - one which is, perhaps askew at this particular
point in the text - could one argue that the Perambulation was the
work of a seventeenth-century ‘proto-amateur historian’ (to
utilize an anachronistic turn of phrase - one which Kilburne certainly
would not have understood)?
indicates that Lambarde’s Kent residence was at Halling
[a photograph of which, it is hoped, will be procured for this work
in progress]. In the Penguin Buildings of England, West Kent and the
Weald , John Newman describes the building (which I take to be the
altered remains of Lambarde’s residence ) as follows:
wall in the NE corner of the churchyard [of St John the Baptist,
Halling] is what is left of the BISHOP’S PALACE. The
three blocked trefoil-headedlancets with segmental rere-arches, made
of an unusual reddy-brown sandstone. Return wall at the N. end, not
bonded in. Bishop Hamo de Hethe repaired and enlarged between 1322
At Upper Halling, .75 m. W, CHAPEL PLACE COTTAGES show angle buttresses
at the E. end and the head of a lancet high in the S. wall. Was this
the free chapel or chantry of St Laurence suppressed in 1547?
Retha Warnicke supplements the major text of the foregoing in the
provision of the following material:
his material wealth was increasing, Lambarde was not neglecting his
intellectual pursuits and probably joined the Elizabethan Society
of Antiquaries that was founded in 1586. The Society, whose goal
was to further research into England’s past, had many lawyers and
knights among its members, and since Lambarde was held in great esteem
by the outstanding antiquaries of his age, he too, was probably a member.
John Stowe gave his ‘loving friend’ credit for suggesting
the form for the Survey of London , and Camden not only depended upon
his knowledge for an understanding of Kent, but also asked him to review
the Britannia before it was printed. Clearly two of the most noted
antiquaries of Elizabethan England knew and respected his scholarship.
That the society had so many lawyers and knights in its membershipindicates
that the late 1580s gentlemen commonly studied antiquity, but Lambarde,
of course, was a pioner in awakening his contemporaries to the value
of that study since his historical research had become some twenty
years before the founding of the society.
[Warnicke, op. cit., p. 79]
essential that William Lambarde secured some, however modest, financial
support to further his antiquarian pursuits (despite his own landed
income). As Retha Warnicke indicates Lambarde established (tenuous?)
contacts with both Lord Burghley and Archbishop Parker during 1573.
Moreover, Lambarde also sent Burghley notes on Stamford, Burghley’s
RELIGION AND THE IDEOLOGICAL FUNCTION OF THE ANTIQUARY.
The preceding paragraph raises an incredibly knotty problem, difficult
to formulate without falling foul of anachronistic misreadings.
For the sixteenth-century antiquary it was permissible to trace the
ancestry of armigrous families. To collect Roman artefacts, to identify
their camps and the remains of their urban fortifications were praiseworthy
pursuits - even when the conclusions arrived at by the antiquaries
were, in retrospect (even from the vantage point of the late 17th century
with regard to their Tudor predecessors) manifestly wrong-headed.
However, to bemoan the fate of the monasteries and other religious
houses, their libraries, their stained glass, their furnishings and
objects of devotion, was a matter of an entirely different order. One
had to distinctly differentiate between acts of collecting and acts
of veneration. It is evident from reading the mss of John Aubrey that
this was something which he found difficult to do. His various biographers
are all in agreement that whatever views one has of his intellectual
acumen and particular fixations, he was of what might best be termed
a generous yet highly unsettled temperament. He was hopeless at handling
finances and property of any kind. Opportunities and offers of help
were squandered and frittered away; fundamentally wrong decisions were
made throughout his life - as Aubrey was the first to admitand emphasize,
as if proffering a warning tothose who followed after him.
The oft-quoted outburst from his writings, that he wished that it was
still posible to enter a monastery, and thus avoid all the social predators
surrounding him on all sides is symptomatic of his dilemma. He sought
the sanctuary, but not the religious complications of a monastic life
- were such a thing possible.
Aubrey was an outstanding, exemplary figure in one respect. Yet in
another, he was the perfect specimen of the antiquary in his most impractical
He was in his own lifetime already a prime representative of a particular
social type: one of ridicule, unfortunately.
Turn the pages of John Earle’s satirical Micro-cosmographie,
the sixth edition, 1633, and there one will find the mature and elderly
Aubrey drawn to the life, in its way as sharply present as was Roy
Dotrice in Patrick Garland’s play based upon his life.
The character - or type - of which Aubrey is a particular instance,
is to be found in Earle’s small 8vo volume under the heading,
appropriately of ‘The Antiquary’, which is here quoted
in full, to demonstrate that Aubrey was by no means a lone figure,
but rather one who, against the odds, actually managed to salvage something
worthwhile, assuring his literary-historical immortality.
Earle mercilessly writes:
is a man strangely thrifty of Time past, and anememy indeed to his
Maw, whence he fetches out many things when they are now all rotten
and stinking. Hee is one that hath that unnaturall disease to bee
of old age and wrinckles, and loves all things (as Dutchmen doe Cheese)
the better for being mouldy and worme-eaten. He is of our Religion,
because wee say it is most ancient; and yet a broken Statue would almost
make him an Idolator. A great adrirer hee is of the rust of old Monuments,
and reades only those Characters, where time hath eaten out the letters.
Hee will goe you forty miles to see a Saints Well, or a ruin’d
Abbey, and if there be but a Crosse or stone footstoole in the way
hee’l be considering it so long, till he forgets his journey.
His estate consists much in shekels, and Roman Coynes, and he hath
more pictures of Caesar, than of James , or Elizabeth: beggars coozen
him with the musty things which they have rak’t from dunghills,
and he preserves their rags for precious Reliques. He loves no Library,
but where thereare more Spiders volums then Authors, and lookes with
great admiration on the Antique worke of Cob-webs. Printed bookes he
contemnes, as a novelty of this latter age, but a Manu-script hee pores
on everlastingly, especially if the cover be all Moth-eaten, and the
dust make a Parenthesis betweene every Syllable. He would give all
the Bookes in his study (which are rarities all) for one of the old
Romane binding, or sixe lines of Tully, in his owne hand. His chamber
is hung commonly with strange Beasts skins, and is a kinde of Charnel-house
of bones extraordinary, and his discourse upon them, if you will heare
him, shall last longer. His very attyre is that which is the eldest
out of fshion, and you may picke a Criticisme out of his Breeches.
He never lookes up on himself til he is gray-hair’d, and then
he is pleased with his own Antiquity. His Grave do’s not fright
him, for he ha’s bene us’d to Sepulchers, and he likes
Death the better, because it gathers him to his Fathers.
Earle, Micro-cosmographie [...] The sixth Edition; augmented. London
1633. Reprinted by Methuen & Co.,
London, 1904., n.p..
is by no means the earliest description of a collector/transactor
in antiquities and curiosities in the English language. In Shakespeare’s
Romeo and Juliet one is presented with a marvellous evocation of a
treasure-house of clutter... demonstrating that it was often difficult
to discriminate between an apothecary and a dealer in antiquities;
for quite often they would be one and the same person; or items from
one classification system would migrate into another, according to
the whims of fashion and the vagaries of trade.
(That the interests, lubies, and collections amassed by antiquaries,
botanists, and naturalists overlapped in a most confusing and arbitrary
manner - at least by the standards of modern taxonomical classification
is exemplified by the accounts of the famous Tradescant’s Ark,
one of the landmarks of 17th century London, which deserves further
study, if only cursorily undertaken within this present text . However,
for reasons of research schedule, this discussion will be deferred
to an Appendix.)
to quote Shakespeare’s marvellously evocative
description of such an assortment - evidently part collection, part
stock in trade of the apothecary, from Romeo and Juliet. I quote from
the 1685 edition of Shakespeare:
I do remember an Apothecary,
And hereabouts he dwells, which late I noted
In tatter’d Weeds, with overwhelming Brows,
Culling of Simples, Meager were his Looks,
Sharp Misery had worn him to the Bones
And in his needy Shop a Tortoise hung,
An Alligator stuft, and other Skins
Of ill shap’d Fishes, and about his Shelves
A beggarly account of empty Boxes,
Green earthen Pots, Bladders, and musty Seeds,
Remnants of Packthred, and old cakes of Roses
Were thinly scattered, to make a shew.
Noting this Penury, to my Self I said,
And if a Man did need a Poyson now,
Whose sale is present Death in Mantua,
Here lives a Caitiff Wretch would sell it him [...]
is, of course, one of the most famous and evocative descriptions
of the contents and ambience (somewhat ambiguous to say the least)
of the late Tudor and Stuart apothecary and his ‘shop’ -
a word which is inserted in inverted commas inasmuch as at the lower
end of the market (i.e. that which was not part of an aristocrat’s
collection or within a college environment or the library cum study
of one of the better-off antiquaries whwerein objects held in duplicate
were usually exchanged or bartered rather than sold for instant monetary
Shakespeare implies that there was very little difference twixt the
the quack apothecary and antiquary at this, the lower end of the social
scale. Both sold unusual, bizarre items for profit.
is a key issue (as far as I know not fully investigated) of how information
was obtained, collected and eventually collated prior to being composed
into a text during this period. Earle in his satire, implies that
antiquaries of his age were notoriously unsystematic. A study lined
with a jumble of diverse objects through which the antiquary gingerly
moved, entrapped within a labyrinth of his own devising, composed
of disparate elements. One thing it was definitely not - and that was
a collegiate library. Nor was it the study or inner room of a person
working for or on behalf of the state. One may think of Pepys’ Library,
with its specially bound volumes arranged in bookcases which he had
specially constructed, according to his own specifications.
Or again, one may think of the libraries of the stately homes of the
gentry of the eighteenth century.
Although the antiquary was dependent upon the patronage of such wealthy
figures, his own situation was muchfurther down the social ladder.
The cramped conditions in which the antiquary worked, the insecurity
of his financial ability to be able to continue his studies are duly
reflected in Lambarde’s text. The divisions of the territory
of Kent may have assisted him in the layout of his survey. These at
least presented with a readymade scheme of organization, even though
it presupposes a familiarity with the divisions of Kent, which would
have been unfamiliar to any other than those living in the ciunty,
interested in similar pursuits. Thus, his prefatory insistance that
his text is primarily intended for the inhabitants - indeed the gentry
in particular - of his chosen county.
reading and rereading the opening historical sections, the insecurities
in Lambarde’s composition become all too apparent. There are
no specific headings, devoted to topics such as topography; varieties
of scenery; varieties of agriculture; in brief, the ‘making’ of
the landscape as W.G. Hoskins termed it in The Making of the English
Landscape. This is mainly because the division of history and geography
and the way in which they inter-relate were quite unknown to Lambarde.
(Richard Carew, in his Survey of Cornwall of 1602, less than 30 years
after Lambarde, shows a much greater degree of confidence in the ordering
of his material, as well as in the perambulation (or sequential arrangement)
of the history and topography of his specific county. Carew was a member
of the lower aristocracy, wealthy and well-educated, versed in the
Humanism of European learning and more so in its courtly Elizabethan
variant. He possessed money, estates, and courtly connections which
with the reading of Lambarde’s text, in the hope
of dialectically deconstructing/reconstructing his method (?) or procedure
(progression) in his writing.
Having relatively early alluded to the specifics of Kent in brief form,
mineral composition (in a confused form) , he turns to agriculture.
Here at least one feels that there is a greater degree of self-confidence
in his writing. In particular, he draws attention to the way in which
the agriculture of Kent is ultimately dependent upon the system of
land-tenure known as gavelkind (which topic was to exercise the brains
of many 17th century antiquaries). Carew relates land use not only
to climate and soil, but also to the legal ramifications of landholding
peculiar to Kent. In other words, in modern parlance, the ways in which
class structure have determined the apportioning of the land and the
uses to which it is put.
The people of this countrie, consisteth chiefly (as in other countries
of the Gentrie, and the yeomanrie, of which the first be for the most parte
governours, and the other altogether governed: whose possessions
were at the first distinguished, by the name of knight fee, and
Gavelkinde: that former being propre to the warriour, and this latter
to the husbandman. But as nothing is more inconstant , then
the estate of that which wee have in lands and living (if at the least
I may call that an estate whiche never standeth. Even so, long
since these tenures have ben so indifferently mixed and confounded,
in the hands of eche sorte, yt there is not now any note of difference
to be gathered by them.
Immediately following, there is Lambarde’s distinction of the gentlemen
and the yeomen classes:
The gentlemen be not heere (throughout) of so auncient stockes as
else where, especially in the partes neerer to London, from whiche
citie (as it were from a certeine riche and wealthy seedplot)
Courtiers, Lawyers, & Marchants be continually translated, &
do become new plants amongst them. Yet be their revenues
greater then any where else: whiche thing groweth not so muche
by the quantitie of their possession, or by the fertilitie of their soyle,
by the situation of the countrie.
continues by indicating the following factors: i. the sea; ii. the
rivers; iii. an established highway connecting it to - iv. London.
All of which are determinants specific to the flourishing gentry.
Via their entrepreneurial status, they are able to free themselves
from direct contact with the land which they own, thus enabling them
to enter into ‘the publique service’, and thus have time
and money to utilize the countryside for pastimes.
text there follows the second class:
This form of land tenure, peculiar to Kent implies, so Lambarde insinuates,
lesser friction between landowner and tenant; the latter in Kent being
quite content economically, and not wanting the responsibilities of
county and court attendance imposed upon the gentry.
come the group termed by Lambarde the ‘artificers’,
a loosely-knit category, roughly to be understood as craftsmen, skilled
and semi-skilled: providers of raw materials ‘handmaidens to
husbandry’, providing building materials (it is implied for the
first phase of noble and lower gentry rebuilding within the period
still known by many historians of vernacular architecture as the phase
of the first great rebuild; and also those invloved with the provision
of coloured woollen cloth, both for home use and foreign export. Here
again, it is worth emphasizing that there is an emphasis upon local
pride insamuch as the woollen produce is of a high quality, good enough,
in fact, to vie with the established woollen trade of the Low Countries.
However, at a point such as this, where Lambarde seems to be coming
to grips with the rural economy of the county, in the next paragraph,
without warning, there follows a digression wherein again the historical
content is brought back into the foreground.
The first issue to be raised here is the vexed issue of the human
inhabitation of Britain. Here is must be remembered that the most inflential
passages regarding the population of Europe were gleaned from the Bible.
A problem which was to vex many of the early topographers and British
At which point Lambarde becomes somewhat guarded as to his own beliefs.
Whilst referring to the Biblical account of population of the known
world having initially derived from the Mosaic division of the world
under Shem, Ham and Japhet, he also brings in the figure of Samothes
with his tribe.
The next major invasion (or incursion) took up the myth which, as
T.D. Kendrick in British Antiquity, was to tax the ingenuity of the
antiquaries down to the eighteenth century (mulled over in detail by
William Borlase in the opening section of his Antiquities of Cornwall,
1754, 200 years after Lambarde.
This is commonly referred to as the Trojan ancestry. Briefly stated,
with the fall of Troy, the remaining Trojans forsook the ruined city,
sailing in search of a suitable place to resettle. In the year 1242
B.C.with a fleet of 324 ships
[...] laden with the remaines of Troye, and he likewise, both subdued all
the former peoples that he found here to his owne obedience, and also
altered their name after his own calling. [...] Kent which we have in hand,
was the first inhabited part of all this our Iland. [p.13]
Their leader Brutus Iulus, thus gave his name to all the isle, whilst
subdueing or vanquishing Samothes and earlier invaders.
In no way could such scholarship be said to be placed upon archaeological
principles. The discipline was unknown at the time. The early antiquaries
had, of course, no true conception of the great timsepans separating
the various settlements and histories of Eurasia. Not wishing to fall
foul of ecclesiastical authority in such matters, they nevertheless
thought it imperative to present a chronicles - however tentative -
to fill in the space separating history since the Norman invasion from
all which had preceded it.
It was well known by the early antiquaries that the isle had been
largely incorporated into the Roman Empire. One had the Commentaries
of Caesar and other Roman fragments to substantiate this. Moreover,
there were the vestiges of Roman buildings besprinkled across the landscape.
Leland, in his Itinerary, had tentatively indicated the remains of
Roman settlement. However, as to the mores and the heritage of the
natives who had been subjected to the Roman yoke, nothing seemed to
were of course those inexplicable monuments - most notably Stonehenge
researches at Avebury - which posed problems. However, it was no
easy task to differentiate between specific building types and stages
of historical development.
In effect, as Kendrick emphatically argued , the stubborn adherence
to the Trojan myth of the first settlement of these isles by Brut and
his Trojans simply bogged down and confused the conjectures and observations
of the early antiquaries who had, after all, no precise or even coherent
time-scale by which to work. For instance, Archbishop Ussher was considered
as making a bold and canonical statement when he stated that the formation
of the Earth itself took place in the year 4004 B.C..
However, in asserting this, he intentionally opened up a box of worms
which voraciosly ate into the hypotheses of his own chronology.
One of the central critiques of Ussher’s dating was that, allowing
for the longevity of Adam and Eve once they had been cast out of the
Garden (presumably on the same day, or at the latest, so it seemed,
the following day, from that on which they were created) there were
still other problems of a reproductive nature which remained beyond
the pale of ecclesiastical argument. For instance. Of the immediate
offspring of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel are the only ones mentioned.
Abel having been killed, there was already one less. Cain became an
outcast. But,then the problems arose. If Eve was the only woman, and
was already enforced to give birth after prolonged pain and misery,
how was the world populated?
How did all these various tribes come into being? Where did the other
women come from? The reference to the Giants in the Book of Genesis
implied that there appeared (from where?) a group of beings, large
in number as well as in size, who were not the progeny of Adam and
Did Cain interbreed with the Giants?
Prolongation of life and of male and female fertility was one ersatz
answer proposed. And yet, by the end of the sixteenth, and augmented
in the seventeenth centuries, mathematical common sense was often being
applied to Biblical texts. And such mathematical common sense called
into question the literal truth of these early passages in Genesis
in particular - as well as raising the question of the historical period
at which they had been committed to writing.
A further antiquarian vexation was posed by the account of Noah and
the Flood. This implied that man had multiplied on the face of the
earth to such an extent that it was more practical for God to destroy
them in a cataclysmic fashion, rather than indulge in discriminate
annihilation. So once again it seemed that a second Creation was necessary
to account for the dispersion of homo sapiens.
One cunning way around this was to propose - as many 17th century writers
did, that in fact the Flood which covered the face of the world covered,
in fact, only that part of the globe known to the early Biblical writers.
In other words, it was alocalized, Mediterranean and near eastern affair
which left the major part of the globe relatively untouched.
Prideaux, writing in the mid 17th century, shows how far antiquarian
research had become a discipline of more systematized investigation
and probing questioning when, at the end of each section, he raises
issues such as the age of the Earth, the way in which Biblical accounts
of creation and flood are to be interpreted, etc.. By which time
such questions were no longer the provice, exclusively, of a small
coteries of antiquaries and theologians, but, according to Prideaux
were a necessary part of the study of history for all those interested
in it. - And, from an early age; for Prideaux’s historical
synopsis was, as title page and preface informs us, initially composed
for the instruction of his students at Abingdon Grammar School.
By the 1640s, historiography had certainly come a long way from its
roots in monastic chronicles of the type written by Matthew of Paris,
Roger Hovedon, etc., finding points of dissemination in many a grammar
shool of the 17th century, for Prideaux’s book was a scholarly
best-selling textbook of the period, going through close on 20 editions
during the 17th century - despite the publishing problems of the Civil
War and Interregnum period, it is to be recalled. ]
It was for reasons such as this that the antiquary and the chorographer
tended to become more of a feasible duality undertakings, thus pushing
the problem of ultimate global origins and the history of mankind into
also to be borne in mind was an awareness of the damage done by religious
antagonism following Henry VIII’s breach from Rome,
and the social upheaval formed by the dissolution of the monasteries
which, after all, had been the major repositories of culture and heritage
for some 1000 years.
Moreover, as if this was not enough, there were the persecutions initiated
by Henry, continued by Edward VI, then the reversal of the process
under Queen Mary, wherein it was the Protestants who bore the brunt
of persecution. And, so it is being increasingly recognized, an augmentation
of persecution, sequestration and execution under Elizabeth I. directed
against the Papacy.
an atmosphere it is not to be wondered that te antiquaries and chrographers
increasingly focused their concentration on their fields of descriptions
of the remains of bygone times, the growth of cities and towns, and
the ‘look’ of
England: one which covered descriptions of the shipyards of Chatham,
as well as the large flocks of sheep of the Cotswolds and the limestone
and chalk uplands, upon which the prosperity of many midland and
northern towns was based prior to the industrial revolution.
- Again, this reinforces and complements A.L. Rowse’s argument
concerning the Elizabethan Discovery of England.
consideration of Lambarde’s opening essay entitled ‘The
Estate of Kent’ from which all the preceding quotations have
been taken it has hopefully become apparent how, on close reading,
this particular portion of his text is by no means ‘straightforward’.
Instead of acting as an induction into the text which follows (which
may be termed the chrographical description), in many ways, despite
the charming prose of Lambarde, the chain of argument which he attempts
to present seems to fragment, betraying perhaps his own indecision
concerning the broader issues raised, along with the knowledge presupposed.
The first edition, in Latin, of Camden’s Britannia, did not appear
until 1586. Thus he had no convenient template upon which to base the
organization of his own text. He was, singlehandedly, attempting to
found a new literary and objective genre, that of the survey of a county,
attempting to make it as comprehensive as possible. Hence the text’s
resemblance to a pot pourri of ideas and gleanings from other authors.
One often gets the impression that to all intents nd purposes, in this
section, Lambarde is presenting a series of reading notes, perhaps
even transcribing and adding observations as he discovered texts, or
relocated references in tomes he had already read.
However, with this important proviso: that the references from Latin(and
Greek) texts are not simply quoted verbatim with no critical commentary.
Evidently the readership at which he aimed his book from its inception
was one well-versed in English, yet who might have found long extracts
in Latin and Greek hard going if not impenetrable.
Perhaps this accounts for a particular, quirky discursiveness of style
already indicated above. Was he actually attempting to compose a text?
Or rather, does this opening section constitute rather something quite
different. Namely a discursive flow, sometimes meandering, of notions,
tentative historical constructs, as a stream of consciousness almost.
Or at any rate, something perhaps akin to a transcription of a conversation
with an interested listener.
Lambarde seems to be fully aware that at some instances in this introduction
he regresses rather than progresses; in other words, a notion or observation
previously noted is again re-cited (and re-sited) as if to show the
manifold importance of a particularly intricate or innovatory observation.
A sort of consolidation before proceeding further. This is, I think
a pattern of exposition determined by adding to his text as he read
in a sort of magpie-fashion.
Having pursued briefly a passage from Bale, in the following paragraph,
Lambarde recapitulates, and reverts to a synopsis of Caesar’saccount
Howsoever that bee therefore, Caesar himselfe witnesseth, that at
time of his arrivall in this Iland, the people were by one common name
called Britaines: And that Kent was then divided into foure petite
Kingdomes, which were governed by Carvillus, Taximagul,
Cingetorix, and Segonax: who, having severally subject to their
Dominions certain Cities with the territories adioyning unto them
(after the manner of the Dukedomes, or Estates of Italie, at this day)
extended their boundes (as it may be gathered) over the whole
countriesof Kent, Sussex and Surrey, at the least.
This kind of Regalitie, Kent retained not many yeares after, bicause
the Britain kings, succeeding Caesars conquest, & yeelding
to ye Romanes, rduced not only these partes, but in manner the whole
Realme also, into oneentier Monarchie. So that in course of time,
and under the reigne of King Vortiger, Kent was ruled by a Lieutenant, or
Viceroy, called Guorongus, as William of Malmesbury witnesseth. [...]
here the sudden leap in the use and citation of documents, from ‘Caesar himselfe’ to
William of Malmesbury whose Chronicles were composed between 1120
(It was not until the latter half of the 17th century that antiquaries
such as Roger Dodsworth and Sir William Dugdale in The Monasticon Anglicanum
commenced a rigorous study of the medieval monastic chronicles. They
came to the conclusion that, whereas the chronicles of particular religious
houses gave a relatively reliable account of incidents directly relating
to the establishments themselves - such as enlargements, endowments,
the impact of Papal edicts effecting the maintainance of their houses,
details of acqusitions of land and so on... the reliability of recors
of events outside their immediate proximity left much to be desired,
and were of little value outside the history of the respective orders
themselves. For instance, the method of investigation and exposition
employed by Dugdale in other works such as The History of Embanking;
Origines Juridicales, and the history of Warwickshire is quite different
in organization and purpose from the presentation of the Monasticon.
More on Dugdale follows in a separate section below.)
Lambarde concludes this opening section by giving a list of the respectives
divisions or Lathes, and the towns contained therein with the levies
which they are obliged to pay the Crown. This is followed by a list
of sundry information relating to fairs, castles, religious houses,
etc., presented in the fashion of an inventory; this being followed
by a list of the nobility of the county.
There then follows a caveat concerning the reliabiity of the ‘Bryttishe
hystorie’ as handled by writers such as Polydore Vergil and Geoffrey
of Monmouth who, Lambarde insinuates, are guilty of perpetrating many
erroneous fables and legends in the fabrication of their work. Then,
following a list of the Archbishops of Canterbury, some 78 pages into
his work, Lambarde begins with the actual antiquarian and topographical
work of his survey. Now the reader is at long last presented with particular
observations, backed up, wherever possible or appropriate, by reference
to actual documentation.
say that it has taken Lambarde a long time to get started. Perhaps
it was the composition of this preamble which gave him the courage
to shift from generalities to particularities. However, it did not
take John Leland so long to get started with the essential part of
his much more ambitious work, namely his Itinerary..., composed sometime
between 1520 and 1540 - at any rate, in sufficiently finished form
to be presented to Henry VIII as a New Year’s Gift. And
it was Leland’s ambitious task to cover the whole of England,
noting anything of antiquarian, topographical or innovatory interest
i n the course of his travels. Far more ambitious than the perambulation
of a single county - whatever key importance Lambarde attached to that
county in the preface to his work.
Lambarde and the Ekphrasis of Place.
Ekphrasis, briefly put, is the technique - or varieties of techniques
- used for evoking particular scenes, places and objects. They might
not necessarily be real, when the ekphrasis forms art of a literary
exercise. The places and actions may be imaginary, as indeed, may be
the objects, which can include buildings and smaller works of art,
notably paintings and sculptures (as well as gardens). The visual impression
must be encoded into words by the writer, in such a manner that it
may be decoded, brought to life, by the reader. Of course, the insurmountable
barrier is that of the absence of the object seen by the writer-spectator
as the reader peruses the text.
It was a mode of writing brought to perfection in the classical world
by writers such as Pausanias, in his guide to Greece.
Later, in the Renaissance, this rhetorical mode was adapted and applied
by Vasari to descriptions of works of art contained in his Lives of
the Artists. As such, it became one of the essential accomplshments
of the humanist writer, whatever genre he was composing.
In an age when travel books - both practical guides, and the accounts
of travellers both living and dead - are among the most pupular genres
of publication, it is quite easy to at first cursory glance belittle
the experiments and achievements of the earliest British topographers.
In early book production, illustration of any kind was an expensive
process. Woodblocks were frequently used and re-used in a variety of
volumes - and quite often within the confines of the same volume: witness
many of the duplicated woodcuts supposedly showing different townscapes,
etc., in the Nuremberg Chronicle. Only gradually, as printing and book
production techniques became more refined did the reader expect a higher
degree of precision and verisimilitude.
It was not until the seventeenth century that in England, the topographical
view attained the ranks of high art in its own right. (Even then, the
initial stimulus was not home-grown, but imported, so to speak, along
with the Hugenot refugees who fled to England to avoid the vicisitudes
of the 30 Yeas War on mainland Europe, hich will be considered in a
In the earliest antiquarian and topographical treatises, those texts
which set the pattern for county histories which was to continue until
c.1835, there are few topographical views. Engraving - even in comparison
to printing - was an expensive craft. Moreover, in sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, it was an artform more closely aligned to the work of the
jeweller, the goldsmith and the silversmith. Both groups worked with
highly-finished metals, using precision instruments for marking the
surface of the metal - copper - sheet in a variety of ways in order
to produce a subtlety of texture once the finished surface was carefully
inked and then ran through the printing press. Often a superior form
of paper was de rigeur to achieve blemishes such as traces of knotted
linen or small slivers of wood which, when subjected to the press,
would often tear the surface of the handmade paper sheet, thus wasting
valuable labour time as well as finely combined ink.
In this respect, the work of the cartographer (at least, until purchasers
demanded more precise and decoratively embellished maps as the 17th
century progressed) was initially less fraught with the impending fear
of failure than was the work of the illustrator, whether he worked
in wood or metal. For, after all, it was more easy to detect a manifest
blunder or flaw in the depiction of nature (except where the specimen
was exotic... or indeed imaginary or confusedly observed - as in the
famous instance of Durer’s armour-plated rhino) than was a cartographical
After all, few if any of the antiquaries and county historians discussed
in this study had anything approaching a thorough grounding in the
principles of surveying and cartography. Such skills seemed to have
been ‘learned’or ‘picked up’ if not intuited
on an ad hoc basis (cf the work of Aubrey and Stukeley when working
on the pans and elevations of prehistoric remains; see below).
in detail the history of the development of the cartographer’s
art and procedures would be to shift this study into a totally different
domain - one which I am unqualified to comment upon. What tentative
remarks I am willing to make on the development of the cartographer’s
art overall during this period will be found in one of the appendices
to this study.
For the moment, I hope that the following cursory remarks will be of
some validity and utility when assessing the development of the production
of the county history.
One of the fundamental differences between the map and the engraving
of a view was the way in which its production was subsidized. The map
far less frequently carries a dediation of patronage and subscription
than does the engraved plate (most often of a country seat, castle,
or of antiquarian objects from the library or cabinet of a wealthy
The reasons for this are not, I think, difficult to comprehend. The
subscriber or one of the patrons would - understandably - prefer to
subsidise an embellishment which illustrated part of his wealth, rather
than to subsidize an accurate survey of the cartographical layout of
the county in which he resided. Similarly, it proved difficult to persuade
the country gentry to contribute towards the unifom upkeep of roads,
even when they lay in the immediate proximity to their grounds. Often,
on the nether side of the gatehouse was a potholed thoroughfare which
it was deemed the responsibility of the whole parish to maintain. Yet,
once across the threshold, in the parkland, there were finely maintained
carriageways of carefully laid and compacted gravel. Similarly with
the county maps. Often the coastline was a poorly surveyed matter of
conjecture, relying more on a system of schemata rather than accuracy.
Schemata indicating only in the most general terms rugged, high cliffs,
estuaries, low-lying flats, marshes, havens and coves.
Such schemata tended towards inaccurate exaggeration rather than anything
resembling precision. Some counties fared better than others (although
one must make allowances for the abilities of the cartographers and
the date when the map was printed). To ilustrate this point, compare
maps of Cornwall and Sussex, with especial attention to the coastline.
Of the earliest cartographers of the British Isles specifically, the
most famous are Christopher Saxton, whose work was published in 1579-80;
and John Speed’s The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain of
Speed undoubtedly adapted or plagiarized Saxton’s earlier maps,
along with those of Abraham Ortelius. Where a coastline was rugged
and ragged, difficult and dangerous to survey with accuracy, Speed
often exaggerated to such a degree that if a segment of a current O.S.
map is compared with the corresponding segment of Speed, the latter
will seem like a wilfully dramatized, distorted travesty. On the other
hand, the map of Sussex, with regard to the coastline does not show
the same degree of exaggeration.
Baxandall in Painting and Experience ... coined a rather useful phrase
- ‘the period eye’ to
indicate that the act of perception was by no means a universal,
but was subject to socio-historical determinants.
And, consequently, Baxandall continues by indicating that ways of recording
what one sees are also subject to corresponding determinants and schemata.
These shemata in turn having the status (conscious or unconscious)
of rhetorical tropes which one encounters in the writings of authors
from the same historical milieu, yet without plagiarizing or emulating
the style of one another.
adapt this notion of the period eye to antiquarian and topographical
writing during the period under consideration? To such a question
I think I would answer with qualified assent. Qualified, because
one must, of course acknowledge the specific historico-social circumstances
separating quattrocento Italy from England of 1550-1830. Baxandall’s
turn of phrase indicates a ‘period’ of a century, whereas
the historical period covered in this study spans almost 300 years.
Therefore, in relation to the particular topic here tentatively discussed,
I would suggest a sequence of period eyes: a socio-intellectual history
of ways of seeing and textually recording the pattern of the English
landscape. Put bluntly, Lambarde’s Kent is utterly diferent from
Hasted’s Kent, not only because a little over 250 years separated
the completion of Lambarde’s Perambulation from the commencement
of Hasted’s antiquarian and topographical survey - but because
the intellectual tools at their disposal have undergone changes; and
the purpose of perception and of text has radically changed.
What is at stake in the above statement, and the necessity of the preceding
digression will hopefully become more easily perceptible when one returns
once more to Lambarde’s Kent - now scrutinizing the text of the
Perambulation proper, rather than concentrating upon the preliminary,
uncertain prefatory notes which precede Lambarde’s text proper.
now to the opening pages of the actual survey section of Lambarde’s
Thus, on p.78 (following a long preamble to a Perambulation one might
say) one finds the following commencement to the text proper:
Tanet, called in Brytish, Inis Rhuochym, of the Shore Rutupi:
it is named of some wrriters, in Latine (or rather Greeke)
Thanatos, or in Saxon ,Tenet [...]
Iulius Solinus (in his description of England) saith thus of Tanet:
Thanatos nullo serpitur angue & aspertata inde terra angues necat. There
be no snakes in Tanet (saith he) & the earth that is brought from thence
will kill them. But whether he wrote this of any sure understanding
that he had of the quality of the soyle, or only by coniecture of the
woord which in Greeke signifieth death, or killing, I wote not & much
lesse dare I determine, bycause hitherto neither I my selfe have heard
of any Region hereabout (onely Ireland excepted) which beareth not
both snakes and other venemous wormes, neither am I yet persuaded,
that this place borowed the name out of the Greeke, but rather tooke it of
the propre language, of this oure native countrie. For Tenet, in the Saxon,
or olde Englishe tongue, sounded as much as, moysted, or watered,
whiche derivation, howe well it standeth with the situation of Tanet,
being Peninsula, and watered (in manner) round about, I had rather
without reasoning, referre to every mans iudgement, then by debate of
many woordes, eyther to trouble the reader, or to interrupt mine owne
order. Leaving the name therefore, I will resorte to the thing, and shew
you out of Beda, and others, the content and stoarie of this Ile. [...]
[Lambarde, Kent, p.78.]
The above quotation contains many of the most salient, frequently
recurring problems of antiquarianism and county topographies.
Note that, contrary to what the modern reader might expect, instead
of beginning with an ekphrastic description of Thanet - its situation,
scenery and places of beauty and historic interest, Lambarde begins
Instead of beginning with the place itself, Lambarde begins with collating
and comparing, cross-referencing textual references to the place. In
brief, he begins with the name rather than th place. Thus one could
justifiably argue that it is etymology rather than geography or topography
which is Lambarde’s initial point of departure.
To continue without break from where the above quotation left off:
Leaving the name therefore, I will resorte to the thing, and shew
you out of
Beda, and others, the content and stoarie of this Ile.
instead of direct observation, from the very beginning Lambarde looks
at, considers the location via the filter or barrier of words of
an intervening text. One may cynically ask whether (on the strength
of this single, but opening section) Lambarde’s ‘perambulation’ was
indeed around a county, but rather, to all intents and purposes, first
and foremost, around a series of texts... exploring libraries, collections
and studies rather than the actual ground and topography of Kent itself,
travelling in gown and slippers rather than on horseback, in carriage
or on foot, trudging the roads and lanes themselves.
Thus, contrary to the practice of local history today, the place somehow
supplements textual references, rather than documents acting as the
marginalia and addenda to the visit to the place itself. One has the
first suspicions, intimations that Lambarde (And how many others? In
the course of this study, hopefully more light will be thrown on this
question. At the moment, let it remain in a state of deferral.) travelled
through texts rather than landscapes. Briefly, Lambarde here presents
himself as a paleographer rather than geographer.
However it is to be reiterated that in the Tudor period, travel was
most often undertaken out of pressing necessity. For the majority of
the populace, even the aristocracy, travel was a perilous undertaking
of getting from A (home) to B (as near as possible, the place of business;
payment or receipt of rents; estate management etc.).
Henry VIII seems to have limited the extent of his travels from Whitehall
to Richmond and Hampton Court, using the Thames as a highway, leaving
the roads around the capital for the waggons carrying all the fixtures
and fittings necessary to the maintainance of the decor and provision
of court splendour.
Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I, proved to be a far more adventurous
traveller, taking her court much further afield. It was she who first
established the notion of the Royal Progress per se.
However, despite the amount of research into the cult of Gloriana,
begun in earnest by Dame Frances Yates, and continued in equivalent
detail by Sir Roy Strong in the essays spanning some 3 decades in the
3 volumes of his Tudor and Jacobean Studies, little research has been
devoted to the early royal progresses - even those of Elizabeth I,
where extant documentation is the most coherent, research into the
Royal Progresses still remains in its early stages.
This is emphasized by Zillah Dovey in An Elizabethan Progress, complemented
by a Foreword by David Loades, published in 1996.
An Elizabethan Progress is a highly readable, meticulously-researched
account of just one Progress: that by Elizabeth into East Anglia in
in her Introduction, argues that these summer progresses fulfilled
aseveral functions simultaneously. Interestingly, first and foremost,
she argues that these progresses were a source of pleasure for the
Queen. (An interesting area of inquiry and speculation would be to
account for the psychological basis of such pleasure. For instance,
it is worthwhile remembering that for much of her adolescence and
early womanhood, during the reign of Queen Mary, Elizabeth was to
all intents and purposes kept as a privileged politico-religious
prisoner in a variety of gentry houses, away from the City and Court.
There was little privacy available in the major Royal residences
in and around London. The entourage of court, governmental secretaries,
and the Queen’s
immediate entourage of guards, ladies in waiting and servants meant
that she lived a life of constant surveillance. Today, the ‘surveillance’ comes
from journalists and paperazzi photographers. An infringement of privacy.
However, social historians have in recent decades being trying to ascertain
whether privacy was indeed possible as understood today; and concomitantly
what the bourgeoisie and nobility understood by privacy in early modern
Europe (work undertaken mainly in France, under the aegis of Philippe
Zillah Dovey begins her study of this, the best-documented of the Progresses,
by placing them in their contemporary context:
The Queen enjoyed her summer expeditions. She and her Court were
used to moving up and down the Thames - they shifted regularly
between the palaces of Greenwich, Whitehall, Richmond, Oatlands
and Windsor - and the mechanics of removal were matters of
routine. Furnishings, hangings and so on were regularly taken down,
brushed and aired and put up somewhere else; then the rooms vacated
could be cleaned. But in the summer the Queen liked to get away from
London and show herself to the people. [...]
[Zillah Dovey, An Elizabethan Progress, Alan Sutton, Stroud, 1996,
Thus, at the start, Dovey indicates two of the factors determining
the (necessity of) the progresses. First of all, so that the respective
royal residences could be cleaned in rotation. Secondly, they formed
an essential element within the cult of Astrea or Gloriana - myths
which had rapidly accumulated and been elaborated around the Virgin
Queen. As several historians, such as Sir Roy Strong, have indicated,
this mythologization of Elizabeth functioned on the religious-ideological
level as an act of symbolic substitution: a successful attempt to oust
the popularity of Mariolatry, the cult of the Virgin Mary, which remained
probably the most ingrained of all remaining Roman Catholic vestiges;
one which Elizabeth and her ministers sought to extirpate as quickly
and completely as possible - especially given the backdrop of continued
claims on the English throne made by Spanish Catholics, basing their
aims of legitimacy on the marriage of Philip and Mary.
Therefore, following a prolonged series of house-arrests, these progresses
were (most probably) also a way for the Queen to assert her royal freedom
of movement. Never again would she be hemmed in by palace or castle
walls against her will.
To resume Dovey’s text:
Progresses were primarily an exercise in image-making. To establish
and maintain her personal popularity among her people was one of
the Queen’s major - and successful - policies. [...] Wherever she went
the church bells were rung and crowds gathered. To the ordinary
people, though not always to her Council and courtiers, she was
accessible and patient. She could, said Thomas Churchyard, always an
admirer, ‘draw the hearts of the people after hyr wheresoever she
In the course of her long reign she covered a good deal of
southern England, sometimes staying within the Home Counties
but often travelling as far as Southampton, Bristol, Worcester,
Warwick and Stafford. Such journeys served not only to give
many people a once-in-a-lifetime chance to catch a glimpse
of their sovereign, but also to show the Queen herself something
of the more distant parts of her realm. However, that said, she
never went to the south-west or further north than Stafford - or
out of England.
[Dovey, ibid., p.1]
at the time when Drake, Ralegh et al were engaged in sea voyages,
mapping and establishing the first entrepreneurial contacts of Britih
mercantile trade in exotic corners of the globe, often undertaking
voyages of well in excess of a year’s duration - and being made
the subject of one of the most sumptuous paeans of Elizabethan achievements
in the pages of Richard Hakluyt’s The principal Navigations,,
Voyages and Discoveries made by the English Nation , published in 1589,
and revised and expanded in 1598, the Queen herself was busily organizing
and mapping out those portions of her island realm for exploration
It is perhaps difficult if not impossible to recapture and fully appreciate
the sheer audacity of such Progresses. Previously, the royalty and
nobility had travelled out of necessity: as indicated above, for business
reasons; or when civil insurrection required temporary retirement from
London, or expeditions to mete out justice to those who had rebelled.
And, perhaps with the odd exception of inclusion on pilgrimages to
shrines such as Walsingham, Hales and Canterbury, women did not travel
at all for any distance. Usually the longest distance which a noblewoman
would travel would be to visit a neighbouring country house. Even then,
due to the condition of the roads in the provinces, such house-visiting
tended to be confined to dry summers and early autumns.
Thus, the Progresses were part of highly elaborate, stage-managed
programmes. It could be argued that from one point of view they were
court masques and revels conceived upon the most costly, extravagant
and large scale imaginable. The whole of the region of England which
the Queen was visiting on any of her progresses became, so to speak,
a real-life tableau. Instead of stage props, there were real vistas,
real cities, real prodigy-houses of the wealthy to be visited. Nonetheless,
artifice and politics rather than pleasure in topography remained the
two dynamic forces behind the Progresses.
Elizabeth was a highly cultivated woman, quite at ease intellectually
withthe leading cognoscenti of the age; her knowledge of Latin, Greek,
French... being on a par with that of the antiquaries, divines and
intellectuals who frequented her court. Yet she was well aware that
with the growth in trade and the fortunes being amassed by her courtiers
therefrom, that this sudden expansion in wealth could in itself pose
a problem. One way of defusing this potential threat of alliances of
new wealth being used for opposition purposes, or to curtail her sovereign
power was, simply put, to lighten their purses somewhat, thus making
them once more subservient to royal bounty rather than enjoying the
freedom of independent income.
Thus, the countryside was traversed. Towns were visited. Not in quest
of the picturesque. The concept would have been incomprehensible for
an Elizabethan. Rather, the ultimate purpose was to assess the wealth
of the realm; and where ostentation or large amounts of capital accumulation
presented a potential threat in the form of a political rallying point,
then the coffers of the individuals could be drained via the mechanisms
of court etiquette.
A nobleman who had received prior warning of a visit by the Queen and
her large retinue was well aware that this would entail enormous expenditure.
Suitable apartments would have to be adapted or indeed specially built
for the visit; and of course duly furnished in regal splendour. The
fitting out of the royal suite of rooms - bedchamber, robing rooms
and so on could entail redecoration, and refurnishing with the most
expensive wall hangings - and of course that most expensive of all
household furnishings, a properly upholstered bed complete with the
finest linen and hangings.
Then there was food, and suitable utensils for its display and consumption.
The inroads made into the wealth of such unfortunate favourites could
be crippling. For it was not ony the Queen and her immediate Court
entourage who had to be housed and lodged and fed. There was the rest
of the motley circus of the Progress party: secretaries, keepers of
the wardrobe and the jewels, her maids of honour and ladies in waiting;
her courtiers and their wives. Plus a sizeable retinue of lesser figures
to provide entertainment: musicians, masters of the hunt with suitable
horses for the Queen, dogs, armaments, along with the hunt followers,
i.e. those with the necessary skills of despatching a wounded or dying
animal in as decorous a manner as possible, and then preparing, dressing
and serving the carcase in an impromptu yet highly formalized outdoor
banquet, usually requiring tents, hangings, trestle tables and cushions,
along with suitably ornate utensils. These outdoor extravaganza in
the parks of the nobility were anything but impromptu picnics. (In
fact the term and concept of the picnic had not even entered British
culture at this time.)
And after Queen and court had left (along with suitable gifts) it was
left to the host’s household and estate staff to clear up the
mess, whilst he and his wife frantically totted up the cost of being
From what can be gathered of such Progresses, the Queen manifested
little interest in the pleasures of the countryside - at least not
in the topographical sense. For her, from what can be gleaned from
the records of such tours, the countryside, for the Queen and her court
was primarily - exclusively - a source of agricultural wealth. Created
by God, it existed primarily to be exploited by man. And definitely
not appreciated or enjoyed in its own right. (The only exception being
where some unexpected natural formation was encountered. However, even
here limitations were imposed. The only countryside which was regarded
appreciatively was that which was under human control. Thus moorland
and mountainous districts were regarded as waste land.)
In the summer of 1578, Elizabeth’s Progress took her first of
all to Audley End, thence to Melford Hall, followed by Bury St Edmunds,
and then into Norfolk. Here the focal point of the Progress was not
one of the well-established county houses, nor one of the more recent
prodigy houses, but a city: Norwich.
Once again, it was not a question of idle curiosity or sightseeing.
Nor did this visit have the same function as the country house visit.
Zillah Dovey sets the scene as follows for the period of 16-22 August
In 1578 Norwich was the second city of the kingdom, with a population
of just over 16,000 (London’s was around 200,000). It was governed by
an Assembly, consisting of the Mayor, two Sheriffs, twenty-four aldermen
and sixty commoners. The whole group met only four times a year
unless specially summoned, but the Mayor and aldermen met twice a
week to deal with the routine running of the city.
[Dovey, p. 63]
However, certain internal frictions had become evident in the running
of the city. It can thus be surmised that the presence of the Queen
was a way of reminding the city of its loyalties t the Crown, despite
its relative isolation from London, and the changes in social structure
which it had recently undergone .
Dovey continues her elaboration:
The worsted weaving trade which had brought Norwich prosperity
had seriously declined by the middle of the sixteenth century and in 1565
a limited number of foreign master workmen with their families had been
granted permission to move there to supplement and diversift the local
industry. Others followed and in spite of the restrictions placed on them
and sporadic outbursts of local opposition, towards the end of the 1570s
foreign workers and their families totalled about 6,000. They were
largely Protestant refugees from Spanish Catholicism in the Low
Countries, mainly ‘Dutchmen’ from Flanders and a smaller number
of French-speaking Walloons.
The city had been warned of the Queen’s impending visit by the
middle of June and from the 20th to the end of the month, the Mayor
issued a series of orders about the preparations to be made. These
exceptional measures, which were put into effect for a comparatively
short period , present a quite alarming picture of conditions in the
city in normal times . The exact date of the Queen’s arrival and the
details of her route were evidently not known. A margin of time was
allowed for the work to be done and the parts of the city given
particular attention do not exactly match her own movements there.
Perhaps - though it seems unlikely - there was nothing to do elsewhere.
Major works were undertaken to clean up and tidy the city,
particularly the approaches thrugh the gates and over the River Wensum.
The roadway outside St Stephen’s Gate was to be gravelled and that
outside St Giles’s Gate was to be widened, levelled and also gravelled;
the muckhill at Brazen Gates was to be ‘cleane taken away’ (but
to ‘some other grounde nere adioyning’) and White Friars Bridge
be repaired with ‘planke and borde’.
[Dovey, ibid., p.63f ]
fortunate to have a detailed account of the Queen’s
visit to Norwich, an eyewitness account written by Bernard Garter and
published shortly after the event. Bernard (or Barnard) Garter was
a minor Elizabethan writer, author of a brief romantic tragedy; a more
substantial volume of occasional pieces entitled A new Yeares Gifte,
1579, composed mostly of evidently vehement anti-Papal tracts and miscellanea,
the titles of many of which seem to indicate an endebtedness to John
Foxe’s Acts and Monuments [...] in particular. His account of
the Queen’s visit to Norwich seems to have marked the high point
of his career. He evidently revelled in the atmosphere of the occasion,
taking care to mention by name all the chief citizens who had come
into contact with the Queen: all in all a most formal procession of
What is of particular interest in this context is the inclusion of
a figure dressed in emblematic cum mythological attire. To quote from
[...] Then [appeared] one whiche represented King GVRGVNT, sometyme
King of Englande, whiche buylded the Castle of Norwich, called Blanch
Flowre, and layde the foundation of the Citie. He was mounted on a
brave Courser [...]
[Zillah Dovey, op. cit., p. 67]
Dovey’s account of the Queen’s
visit to Norwich is packed with incidental detail - as indeed was
the visit itself. It seems to have been of paramount importance to
those responsible for orchestrating the festivities that the Queen
seems to have had little time to observe anything of the city or
the Cathedral. The main purpose was to emphasize the conspicuous
expenditure on pageantry with, as to be expected, as many dignitaries
as possible being allowed a fleeting greeting to the monarch.
Thus, to all intents and purposes, apart from the figure of Gurgunt
(who seems to have stepped out of an interlude or court masque) the
history, antiquity and actuality of Norwich as the second city of the
realm seems to have been swept aside by the panoply of pageantry.
leaving this account of Elizabeth I’s visit to Norwich,
it is appropriate to draw attention to one particular event in the
presentation of the royal personage which goes unnoticed by Dovey.
There was in the group of the various worthies and petitioners one
person who had made this trip, following the Queen’s entourage,
until a favourable moment presented itself for him to make his own
politic intervention. That person was none other than John Dee.
Until the research of the past decade, the figure which we have of
Dee has by and large been built upon foundations laid by Frances Yates,
especially in her studies of mysticism and arcane knowledge of various
kinds in the early Tudor and later Elizabethan period. The mythology
surrounding Dee as a dubious genius - a magus dabbling in occultist
matters - was already current in Dee’s own lifetime. Wherever
he went, this unsavoury reputation as an adept in the secret arts of
astrology, alchemy, crystal gazing and so forth seemed to dog him.
His properties near and in London were ransacked by crowds eager for
a witch-hunt. And it is this mythologized quasi-demonized figure of
Dee which remained current within the seventeenth century, as the notes
of John Aubrey, the foundation-work for his Brief Lives. Only relatively
recently has a more balanced (post Yatesian) re-reading of Dee’s
work been proposed, of which the most carefully-grounded and contextualized
re-readings is to be found in William H. Sherman’s erudite offering
John Dee: The Politics of Reading and Writing in the English Renaissance
(1995). Rather than attempt to summarize (and thus unintentionally
bend and distort the flow of Sherman’s argument to suit my own
purposes, and for reasons of supposed brevity, I prefer to quote the
section of his text here relevant in full:
I will focus on a text that was all but unknown until it was recently
acquired by the British Library. This manuscript, a compilation entitled
Brytanici Imperii Limites (henceforth Limites), contains
Dee’s earliest surviving contribution to the imperial cause., and makes
it possible to unravel some of the textual knots that have formed
among Dee’s manuscripts. The largest section of material is dated
22 July 1576. [...] On 22 November  he “rod to Windsor to the
Q[ueen’s] Majestie” and stayed there, it seems, for ten days. On
November he spoke with Elizabeth, and again three days later
when he spoke with Secretary Walsingham. During this second
royal audience he “declared to the Quene her title to Greenland,
Estotiland and Friseland.”
Dee’s next conference on the queen’s titles was in the summer
of 1578, and can just be glimpsed behind a misleading diary
entry. On 15 August of that year he recorded, “I went toward
Norwich with my work of Imperium Brytanicum.” His itinerary was
provincial but his target was, nevertheless, the court:
the queen was then making a ceremonil circuit of East Anglia
and, on 16 August, entered Norwich. The text Dee carried was not
Memorials, as the editor of Dee’s diary suggests, but rather
Limites, which he had completed only two weeks before.
[Sherman, p. 182]
Thus it seems not impossible or implausible to suggest that the royal
progresses of Elizabeth I fulfilled a twofold function within the ideological
agenda forged implicitly by herself and the leading intellectuals of
her Court: namely a further embellishment - or tier of meaning - implicit
within the cult of Gloriana which the Queen seems to have readily embraced
and actively encouraged. Her progresses were one means of leaving an
hypothetically indelible impresa of her presence on the countryside
through which she travelled. One could even term it a highly personal
- and highly charged, in more senses than one - means of asserting
her presence within her realm, and thus of legitimizing her rule of
the same. The progresses - and by extension the panoply of the myth
of Gloriana - were means towards a larger more important and fundamental
end. Namely she was asserting her possession of Britain via coming
into direct contact with the topography of the land and with the chief
figures of authority (with, of course, her regal assent) who resided
and ruled - albeit on a local scale, ultimately answerable to the Crown
for all their actions, and indeed - by implication - holding whatever
rights to land and other properties by royal grace and favour. It is
as if the emblematic significance of the Ditchley portrait - that of
the Queen firmly placed upon the outstretched map of England as if
it was a carpet laid on the floor of one of her palaces - was being
enacted within the realm of the palpably real. Art and nature had become
tropically and topically inextricably intertwined within this elaborate
scheme of possessive assertion.
Morever, again upon the symbolic level, the progresses through her
island realm could be thus interpreted as mirroring or duplicating
the growth of British - and regal - dominion across the globe. Whilst
Hakluyt presented an elaborate paean of English navigation and sovereignty
of the seas, Elizabeth was undertaking corresponding ventures on land
within the confines of her immediate realm. And indeed, these progresses
formed part of an explicit political agenda, inasmuch as the areas
which she chose to visit were those in which traces of recusancy and
questions of wavering loyalty to the cult of Gloriana had become evident.
...And so Norwich had to wait until the next century before perhaps
its most famous citizen, Sir Thomas Browne was to write his Reportorium:
or Some Account of the Tombs and Monuments in the Cathedral Church
of Norwich. And this text had to wait until 1712, 30 years after
his death in 1682 before its first publication in the folio volume
of his Posthumous Works, where it is placed as the first item. Browne’s
text indicates a familiarity not only with the works of Dugdale,
the Monasticon Anglicanum and the History of St Paul’s, but
also with John Weever’s Ancient Funeral Monuments [...] of
One could, of course, provide details of other Progresses undertaken
by Queen Elizabeth I. However, to do so would largely be to duplicate
the excellently presented research of Zillah Dovey. Moreover, such
extended research and textual analysis of the factors implicit in the
Progresses themselves would, I surmise, add little of positive value
to this introductory study of antiquarian and topographical research
between 1550 and 1835.
Nonetheless, I think it worthwhile emphasizing one point which Dovey
fails (I think) to adequately stress: that is, the fact that evidently
none of the Elizabethan antiquaries who were attached to the Court
or to the Royal College of Heraldry took part in such tours.
It seems somehow ironic that not even one representative member of
the loosely-knit group of people with an interest in antiquarian and
topographical studies were included within the royal entourage. Evidently
kitchen scullions and keepers of hawks and hound were of far more importance
in such a retinue.
Eliza Triumphans, Gloriana, Astraea... all these personifications of
regality the Queen seems to have readily embraced according to the
researches of Dame Frances Yates and Sir Roy Strong. The latter has,
upon several occasions during his years of research into Tudor and
Jacobean culture, returned to the strangely composed so-called Ditchley
Portrait of the Queen, evidently commissioned and paid for by her ‘Champion’,
by then in retirement, and an organizer of tilts rather than an active
combatant, Sir Henry Lee. This portrait, dating from c.1590 shows a
Queen very much younger than her actual years, standing stately and
firmly poised upon (a map of) England. Her feet are planted not in
London, nor in the centre of the country, around Leicestershire; but
in Oxfordshire. Several hypotheses have been suggested to account for
this apparently significant position. However, from a purely cartographical-cum-geographical
standpoint, it seems that the geographical feature being emphasized
is not so much a single place (almost impossible to achieve given the
scale of the map relative to the standing Queen) but, regarding the
position of her feet in relation to each other - the course of a river.
The river Thames of course which especially from Tudor times onwards
has been used as a synecdoche for England and its monarchy, flowing
as it does past the chief royal residences of the Tudor and Stuart
period: namely Windsor, Hampton Court, Greenwich, the original Palace
of Whitehall and the Tower of London . [See Roy Strong, The Cult of
Elizabeth, Pimlico, London, 1999, p.154f.] It is to be recalled that
Leland too wrote an eulogy on the Thames, his Cygnea Cantio, thus providing
a precursor or precedent for Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion ,
first published in 1613, in which he uses the courses of the major
rivers and their tributaries as his scheme for presenting his ‘tour’ of
the realm in mythopoeical form.
Laboriouse Journey and Serche of
J O H A N L E Y L A N D E
Geven of hym as a Newe Yeares Gyfte to King Henry the viii.
in the xxxvii. Yeare of his Raygne.
work has, in a way, functioned as a sporadic intertext or undercurrent
throughout much of the preceding text.
However, it is a problematic text for a variety of reasons, having
a complex, uncertain history of dissemination. Consideration of it
has been deferred until this point because of the manifold difficulties
which it presents.
First and foremost in its chequered history is the problem of there
being not just one definitive text, but a series of notebooks, or to
be more precise, facsicules of ms leaves bound at some point in time
after they had been written by Leland.
Moreover, there is not simply one series of such bound mss, but nine
extant, in various stages of completion, in different organizations
The full story of the dissemination of Leland’s mss prior to
the first publication of one version by the librarian and paleographer
Thomas Hearne early in the eighteenth century has yet to be satisfactorily
It is far beyond the scope of this present study to even attempt a
tentative retrospective tracing of the of the migrations of this flock
of topographical textual fragments. To embark upon such a rash enterprise
would be to court the insanity which eventually debilitated Leland
There are indeed many byways in the history of antiquarian and topographical
thought which should carry a caveat - perhaps even a government health
warning. Hearne, who attempted to salvage Leland, and to present his
text in printed form to the early 18th century antiquaries showed the
major symptoms of what Freud was later to identify as neurotic illness.
The only full modern edition of Leland’s Itinerary was published
in 1964, painstakingly edited by Lucy Toulmin Smith who, according
to her own comments, and those of T.D. Kendrick and many other archaeologists,
antiquaries and paleographers of the 1950s and early 1960s, devoted
the best part of her life to transcribing, arranging, and cross-referencing
the jumble which evidently Leland had presented to Henry VIII as the
first monarch of a united England in the wake of the wars of the Roses
of the houses of York and Lancaster.
it could be stated with much justification that in a way each commentator
upon, editor of (albeit there has not been any since that of Lucy
Toulmin Smith), each person quoting Leland... produces or ‘creates’ his
or her own ‘Leland’.
Stated thus, it calls to mind a famous section from the work of Jorge
Luis Borges where in oneof his short stories, he postulates the notion
that any person quoting Shakespeare, Homer, Cervantes... for a moment
temporarily ‘becomes’ that particular author whose words
he or she is uttering or writing. However, I think it important to
stress that this is (precisely) an imprecise process. Thus, for Borges, ‘becoming’ is
something of an approximation. It is never possible to achieve complete
- This is an issue which will be discussed in a later section when
the problem(s) of how antiquaries made use of the work of their precursors
is examined in more detail. For more than plagiarism is involved in
such an issue. In fact ‘plagiarism’ per se does not seem
to have unduly worried the early antiquaries, chorographers and historians
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is, I think, only with
the Augustan age of the eighteenth century that such a problem becomes
a matter of intellectual concern and castigation, exemplified for instance,
in many of the lines and footnotes of Alexander Pope’s brutally
with the above self-cautionary notes in mind, it is now time to attempt
a reading of representative passages from Leland’s
Itinerary. (If only to indicate why the copied mss were so widely circulated
among antiquaries until their first published appearance, thanks to
Thomas Hearne, in 1710-1712 in 10 volumes.
After an opening preamble addressed to Henry VIII personally:
Where as it pleasid yowr Highnes apon very juste considerations to
encorage me, by the autorite of yowr moste gratius commission
yn the xxv. yere of yowr prosperus regne, to peruse and diligently
to serche al the libraries and monasteries and collegies of this yowr noble
reaulme, to the intente that the monumentes of auncient writers as
welle of other nations, as of this yowr owne province mighte be brought
owte of deadely darkenes to lyvely lighte, and to recyve like thankes of
the posterite, as they hoed for at such tyme, as they emploied their
long and greate studies to the publique wealthe; yea and farthermore that
the holy Scripture of God might bothe be sincerely taughte and lernid,
al maner of superstition and craftely coloured doctrine of a rowte of
of the Romaine bishopes totally expellid oute oof this your moste
catholique reaulme: I think it now no lesse then my very dewty
brevely to declare to your Majeste what frute hath spronge of my
laborius yourney and costely enterprise, booth rootid apon yowr
infinite goodnes and liberalite, qualites righte highly to be estemid
in al princes, and most especially yn yow as naturally yowr owne
welle knowne proprietes.
Firste I have conservid many good autors, the which other wise
had beene like to have perischid to no smaul incommodite of
good letters, of the whiche parte remayne yn the moste
magnificent libraries of your royal Palacis. Parte also remayne
yn my custodye.
[John Leland, The Itinerary, L.T. Smith, Ed., p.xxxviif.]
is in many ways the most important section of the opening Dedication,
because it shows that Leland’s principal objective was not necessarily
to provide a written survey of Henry’s dominions, but to sift
through the plunder of the religious houses following the Dissolution
and the break with Rome.
The wealth of the religious houses did not only consist in the jewelled
and gilt ornamentations held by the more opulent and well endowed establishments.
There was another sort of wealth, not always so recognizeable and appreciated
and preserved (as John Aubrey was to bewail; see below): namely the
libraries of several of the major religious houses.
They were, in fact, arguably the only repositories of learning, sacred
and secular, ancient and modern, apart from the universities of Oxford
and Cambridge and Eton College, in early Tudor England. There was no
established tradition of secular learning and patronage of the arts
in any way comparable with the ducal collections of the Italian peninsula
and France in particular.
In England, even a century after the birth of printing, books were
still rare commodities. Lagging behind continental Europe in terms
of humanist learning, England at this time was ultimately dependent
upon the importation of cultural artefacts and artificers to produce
its own equivalent of a ‘Renaissance’ (at a time, it must
be remembered, when the forces of the early and high Renaissance were
either dead or dispersed in Italy, where a new style and outlook, that
termed ‘Mannerism’ had established itself firmly).
this in mind, to return again to the preamble to Leland’s
Itinerary. He states in no uncertain terms that his peregrinations
were not merely conducted in a spirit of direct observation; but, quite
the reverse, that the underlying dynamic was politico-religious:
And that profit hath rysen by the aforesaide journey in bringging
ful many thinges to lighte as concerning the usurpid autorite of the
Bishop of Rome and his complices, to the manifeste and violente
derogation of kingely dignite, I eferre my self moste humbly to your moste
prudente, lernid and highe jugement to discerne my diligence in
the longe volume wheryn I have made answer for the defence of
youre supreme dignite, alonly lening to the stronge pilor of holy
Scripture agayne the hole College of the Romanistes, cloking
theire crafty assertions and argumentes under the name of one
poore Pighius of Ultrajecte in Germayne, and standing to them
as to theire only ancre-holde agayne tempestes that they know
wylle rise if treuth may be by licens lette yn to have a voice in
the general concile.
Diatribe this may be. However, digression it is definitely not. For
what Leland is establishing is the utter separation of the Isle which
he is to describe from the inflience and jurisdiction of Rome. The
religious houses, whether in good repair or in ruinous state are now
to be seen as constituting the fabric of a specifically national, English
to the actual topographical portion, the Itinerary itself, it is
important to bear in mind that, as none of the surviving mss are
evidently complete it is difficult to assess what lacunae are Leland’s,
and what are due to the faults of transcribers and the vicissitudes
Nonetheless, as collated by L.T. Smith, none of the mss contain even
a vestige of a general opening description of England and Wales. Instead,
the reader is plunged in medias res, as she concludes by comparing
a copy owned by William Burton (best known as the earliest county historian
of Leicestershire) with that of John Stow (best known for his Survey
The text begins:
From Cambridge to Eltesle village is champeyne countery 8. miles.
Eltesle was sumtyme a nunnery wher Pandonia the Scottish virgine was
buried, and there is a well of her name yn the south side of the quire. I
hard when this nunnery was destroyed a new was made at Hinchingbroke
A mile from Eltesle toward S. Neotes is the limes of Cambridgeshire.
From Eltesle to S. Neotes 4 miles. The elder parte of the toune wher
the paroche chirche ys kepith the old name of Ainsbyri so caullid
corruptely for E[nulphesbyri].
[The rivar there harde by the towne stondinge on the este syde of it
devidithe Huntyndunshire from Bedfordeshire, and yet a a lytle lower
bothe the ripes be in Huntendunshir.
The bridge at Seint Neotes is of tymbar.]
From S. Neotes to Stoughton village by sum enclosid ground a 3.
miles. it is in Huntendunshir. There hard by the chirch is a pretty
house of Olyver Leders, and pratie commodities about it.
From Stoughton to Milchbourn village a 4. miles be much pasture,
and sum corne ground. Here is a right fair place of square stone,
and there be goodly gardeins, orchards, and ponds, and a Parke
thereby. The place self is of an auncient building [but] the lord
Westoun of S, [Johnes College in Lo]ndon the 3 [lorde of that
House] afore the laste Weston made the Haull newly.
square brackets in the above quotation follow Lucy Toulmin Smith’s
editorial and typographical principle of indicating when she has supplemented
a damaged portion of her ‘master copy’ by comparing and
collating it with the extant variants. As the great paleographer and
former Assistant Keeper of Early Books in the British Library, George
Painter, once commented to me, the paleographer’s task can on
occasions be likened unto the ploys used by the aficionado of jigsaw
puzzles when faced with bags of pieces from different jigsaws, some
of which are duplicated in different bags. One constiutes a complete
or near-complete jigsaw by making use of (and thus depleting) the contents
of other bags.)
attention now to a tentative close reading of this opening portion
of Leland’s text - in effect to ‘mine’ it,
as so many of the early antiquaries did to gain material for their
The first, primary characteristic of the text - of Leland’s syle
- is theimpression which is conveyed to the reader of a first-hand
eye-witness account of the place itself. The lie of the land, the relative
distances of the site being considered to neighbouring places are recorded.
So are the topography and the land use. The term ‘champeyne’ (currently
spelt champaign) means an expanse of open countryside, relatively flat
or very slightly undulating, unbroken by any outcrops of waste land,
scrub or marsh; the sort of countryside ideally fit for a variety of
uses: grazing and the production of cereal crops in particular. It
was a type of topography, of landscape, which was thought to be the
most beneficial to man and beast, being neither too dry and arid,and
therefore producing low yields and being of an essentially bitter nature
and requirig constant attention and intensive cultivation, which characterized
the upland regions. Nor was the ‘champeyne’ overly moist,
prone to water-retention.
It is the sort of landscape most conducive to agriculture in all its
diverse forms: the most wholesome and adaptable, producing the highest
yields, whether animal or vegetable, and thus the most economically
desirable. And hence, in the eyes of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century
farmer and spectator, by far the most pleasing. It was a common trope
of Tudor and Jacobean poets to interchangeably (dialectically one might
say) compare such an ideal landscape with a tapestry.
Leland then concentrates his gaze and his written record on the human
traces left on the landscape, thus implicitly drawing a distinction
between the supposedly ‘natural’ of the meadowland (which
is , according to the arguments of W.G. Hoskins, by no means natural,
untouched, ‘virgin’, but itself the product of human intervention
and particuar modes of land use over several milennia; see The Making
of the English Landscape) and the remains of buildings which punctuate
it. The most lasting - or at least noticeable to Leland’s eye
- are those of a religious nature, now fallen into desuetude, or incorporated
into the fabric of buildings of the established Church of England.
Thus, the nunnery is now only a vestige - perhaps even just a memory,
as any derelict building was a potential standing quarry of ready-cut,
well-seasoned stone, ideal for use in building, whether ecclesiastical
or vernacular. However, it is to be conjectured from Leland’s
text that there were still significant traces of the former nunnery
to be traced. It had not been dismantled and the foundations ploughed
over as rapidly as happened in some instances. This is substantiated
by the fact that Leland records a well in the south side of the choir.
Significantly he does not detail what condition the rest of the fabric
was in - whether it was just stumps of foundation and rubble. Yet he
is able to name the saint (although significantly such a title is elided)
Pandonia, and her supposed country of origin.
The worship of obscure saints and the veneration of holy wells were
amongst those aspects of the former religion which the ideologues of
the Reformation were swiftest to suppress as being evidence of Roman
Catholic affinities with pagan superstition. However, as Sir Keith
Thomas indicated in Religion and the Decline of Magic, both eclesiastical
and secular authorities found it almost impossible to eradicate all
traces of such beliefs - and acts of veneration - especially in rural
areas. Even though their decoratively carved masonry may have been
vandalized, or dismantled and with suitable adaptations eventually
masqueraded as convenient embellishment in a neighbouring house during
the phase of the First Great Rebuild (which roughly coincides with
the end of the Wars of the Roses and the Dissolution of the Monasteries),
the veneration of holy wells in particular continued (and in places
still does). The water from such wells was - and often still is - supposed
to protect livestock from sundry ailments. It was and is used as a
curative in childhood illnesses, and as a palliative for the aches
and pais suffered by the mature and the elderly.
else can one glean from this opening quotation from Leland’s
Secondly, that he is by no means averse to incorporating what would
now be termed oral history into his objective account, evidently using
the unwritten knowledge of the locals to colour in the details of the
immediate area: ‘I hard that when this nunnery was destroyid
a new was made at Hinchingbroke by Huntendune.’
Thirdly, the importance of knowing the landmarks by which one could
fix parochial, and in this case county boundaries by thealignment of
manmade and natural features in the landscape. Thus, the direction
and distance of the county boundary of Cambridgeshire is determined
in otherwise open country. and known by people who not only could not
afford a map, but would have doubtlessly found it difficult (impossible?)
to decode. Their mapping of the landscape - of water courses, of parochial
and county boundaries - was, as Sir Keith Thomas comments in Man and
the Natural World, part of a mental process, inseparable from their
daily routine of work and leisure.
Fourthly, his awareness of the etymology (and corruption via elision,
pronunciation and dialect) of place-names. Today, this is considered
as being central to the methodologies employed by the amateur local
historian. Yet evidently for Leland, it deserved a higher ranking,
inasmuch as it was more evidence for the line of continuity which could
be established thanks to the acumen of the humanist scholar, when he
turned his attention to the description and the history of the English
landscape. In this respect he was laying the foundations of the discipline
of Chorography as it became established (largely following the Philemon
Holland translation of Camden’s Britannia) during the course
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Still from these opening
lines of Leland’s Itinerary, directly following on from his discussion
of the determination of the county boundary:
From Eltesle to S. Neotes 4 miles. The older parte of the toune
wher the paroche chirche ys kepith the old name of Ainsbyri so
caullid corruptely for E[nulphesbyri].
mention of the present-day Eynsbury then sequetially gives rise to
the following observation; to repeat from the above, key quotation
from Leland’s text: (Printed in square brackets in L.T. Smith’s
edition as being collated from a variant copy):
[The river there hard by the towne stondinge on the este syde of
devidithe Huntyndunshire from Bedfordeshire, and yet a little lower
bothe the ripes be in Huntendunshir.
- And so the quirks of the county boundaries (which incidentally Leland
does not attempt to account for ... as if he had not ample to tax his
brain and temper in any case...) are left unaccounted for by him. Instead,
there is a break in the flow of the text, if not of the vexatious river,
and Leland turns his attention briefly to a manmade andmark in the
immediate vicinity in the brief paragraph which follows the above,
and closes this section printed in square brackets:
The bridge at Seint Neotes is of tymbar.]
This bald observation, brief though it is, is of some importance;
otherwise why should Leland mention it? The timber bridge implies that
at this point the river is, for reasons of depth, lack of solid bedding
foundation material or a propensity to rise and perhaps overflow quite
swiftly after periods of heavy rain, unsuitable for being crossed by
means of either a clapper bridge of large stones in their natural state
with minimal dressing or finish or by a hump-backed packhorse bridge,
the building dynamics of which were essentially based upon that used
in stone vaulting, but on a smaller scale.
However, in a much less prosperous area of the country, notably Cornwall,
even in medieval times stone bridges seem to have been the norm, as
H.L. Douch has indicated in his mongraph and dating of bridges in that
Here Leland presents an observation with no explanation at all.
A variety of reasons are possible: lack of suitable stone in the immediate
vicinity; that this particular trade route has been superseded by
the development of another, and that the river is now forded by a
more substantial bridge at a different place; that for one reason
or another trade at this point has stagnated, and the construction
of a stone bridge would not ameliorate or increase the flow of trade
at this location.
Whether or not Leland crossed the bridge remains uncertain; so, to
cotinue the close reading of the excerpt quoted above:
From S. Neotes to Stoughton village by sum enclosid ground a
3. miles. it is in Huntendunshir. There hard by the chirch is a pretty
house of Olyver Leders, and pratie commodities about it.
is this excerpt are the following points. First of all,the observation
of enclosed ground. This implies (perhaps) that until then the scenery
had been dominated by either open meadow or pasture (the ‘champeyne
counterey’ which has been discussed above); alternatively perhaps
there had been an area of strip-cultivation which by very definition
could not be enclosed. To surmise yet again... the reader is left to
wonder whether the mentioned enclosure has anything to do with the
position of the house of Olyver Leders, which is evidently architecturally
superior to those of his immediate neighbours, and seems to form part
of a well-kept farming complex of buldings, rather than being a cottar
It would seem that Leland has entered into a pocket of rural upward
mobility. For, after the ‘pratie commodities’ of Olyver
Leders, even more improvements are observed:
From Stoughton to Meilchbourn village a 4. miles be more pasture
and sum corne ground. Here is a right fair place of square stone,
stonding much apon pillerd vaultes of stone, and there be goodly
gardeins, orchards, and ponds, and a Parke thereby. The place
self is of an auncient building [but] the lord Westoun of S. [Johnes College
in Lo]ndon the 3 [lorde of that House] afore the laste Weston made
the Haull newly.
we seem to have first-hand eyewitness account of an example of the
much-debated (in vernacular architecure circles) Great Rebuild. Note
that Leland writes of ‘square stone’ (i.e. dressed
stone of rectangular proportions, presumably finished with at least
one ashlared - i.e. smoothly chiselled, finished surface, that exposed
externally, of regular proportions, squared so that a certain uniformity
of jointing could be established; all of which was labour-intensive,
specialized workmanship, often involving the opening of a nearby quarry
especially for the purpose, employing teams of specialized craftsmen
at each stage of its construction - see Malcolm Airs,
The Tudor and Jacobean Country House) set upon vaulting of stone
avoidance of rising damp, as well as providing storage space beneath
the house itself. Moreover, there are gardens, orchards, ponds and
a park, all of which make for a unit of self-sufficiency; and also
relaxation; and, indeed opulence tout court. Only a member of the
aristocracy could afford such an outlay. As Leland implies, rather
than being a modification of a former structure in a piecemeal fashion, ‘the laste Weston made the Haull newly’.
- In brief, here Leland presents a closely-observed account of a new
type of domestic architecture, far superior to the run of the mill
dwellings he encountered in such secluded areas. And he seems to totally
approve of such innovations, holding them up as examples deserving
emulation and imitation.
it can be confidently stated that within Leland’s text
two actions are recorded,and indiscriminately intermingled within his
Both actions fundamentally involve the faculty or sense of SIGHT, but
in different modes. There is the mode of actual observation apparently
made in situ which Leland attempts to transcribe into an evocatively
descriptive style. However, there is also the utilization/quotation
or synopsis of what material he has discovered in textual form, in
the process of his reading. The acts of remembering and evoking a visual
impression, and the (re)presentation of material found in the perusal
of texts are not clearly differentiated by Leland in the composition
of his work. For him, the fundamental distinction or differentiation
between an actual eyewitness account necessitating the presence of
the writer himself (Leland) and the reworking of secondhand accounts
is of little importance.
POINT FURTHER ANALYSIS OF LELAND’S TEXT WILL BE EVENTUALLY
PERAMBULATION OF KENT, 1576.
The first published county history.
from Leland’s Itinerary... to William Lambarde’s
A Perambulation of Kent is to encounter a different sort of text, composed
and arranged by its author in a different manner from that of Leland.
The immediately evident issues can be listed as follows:
text was published during his own lifetime; moreover, it proved to
be such a successfully popular text that there were two editions
published in the sixteenth century: the first edition of 1576; a
revised edition in 1598, and a further three editions in the seventeenth
century, the last of which is dated 1656.
Therefore Lambarde’s text enjoyed a much broader, popular dissemination
via printing than did the various mss and partial copies of Leland’s
Itinerary... which until Hearne’s edition (see above) was exclusively
available only to a small coterie of privileged antiquaries.
2. Instead of embarking on a survey of the whole of England, Lambarde
concentrated upon one specific area: a county. A county with which
he was familiar. Moreover, by writing in detail about this single area,
one which was governed by political jurisdiction - i.e. a shire and
its divisions into Lathes - he was indeed according this specific area,
this county, privileged status.
it is difficult for the 21st century reader, presented with a glut
of guide books to the counties of England, from the decidedly inferior,
to the good quality populist (e.g. the Shell guides), to the more
specialist such as the Penguin Buildings of England series and the
monumental (and still woefully unfinished Victoria County History
series; the volumes of which constituting several instances of an
exceptionally well-researched work in progress, of which the available
volumes are alas like so many membra disjecta) to appreciate the
novelty of Lambarde’s
There was, of course, the Domesday Book to be cited as a precursor
arranged as it had been initially intended county by county. However,
the Domesday Book itself has been subjected to so many rebindings,
recollatings and regatherings of facsicules in the course of its history
that one cannot be certain precisely what state it was in whilst Lambarde
was in the process of writing his book.
Indeed, there remains the problem of how deep Lambarde’s familiarity
with the text of Domesday actually went.
text is situated in a curious position inasmuch as it is sited (precariously?)
within the gap, beance or interface (all three terms are inadequate
in this context; they are employed in a maverick, makeshift sense,
with due apologies) between the acts of reading and writing.
respect Lambarde’s text is ‘finished’ when
one compares it with Leland’s disorderly Itinerary... . On the
other hand, it lacks the polished finesse and confidence of literary
style so evident in Richard Carew’s
Survey of Cornwall, completed in 1602. A space of less than 30 years.
But nevertheless a time difference within which the English language
itself underwent major changes on all fronts, from the syles of handwriting
used to innovatory concepts of linguistic, compositional style, the
organization of textual matter, and the way in which it was presented
to the readership.
All these, it may be said, are factors in the impact of Renaissance
humanism on the (re)structuration of English language and English learning
in its broader sense.
Lambarde presents his readership with an explanatory preface, outlining
at least tentatively his intentions in writing the text which follows.
He begins by casting a critical eye implicitly and explicitly over
the chronicles of the medieval period. He is especially wary of the
various monastic chronicles, as well as the writings of Polydore Vergil
relating to British historiography and topography.
Although Lambarde never goes so far as to posit a fundamentally different
compositional mode and purpose separating his text from those of his
erstwhile precursors, nevertheless these introductory remarks constitute
a prefatory critique.
It is a critique intended for the benefit of his readership, warning
them of the pitfalls of accepting written or spoken accounts of historical
and topographical matters uncritically.
Moreover, Lambarde’s opening remarks are also aimed at his fellow
researchers in this new domain of historiography. There is contained
therein a caveat for his colleagues not to accept the medieval chronicles
unreservedly. One must read such texts and legends which have survived
in a systematically critical fashion, bearing in mind the religious
viewpoint which underpins them: in other words the reader should bear
in mind the fundametally erroneous precepts underpinning many such
texts. These precepts were those of Roman Catholicism and idolatry:
threats to the British sovereignty itself.
is little in the way of descriptive topography per se contained in
these prefatory divisions - the sequence of which he seems to determine
on an ad hoc basis (implying no theoretical or epistemological hierarchy
of methods; this comes later, in the seventeenth century, in the
aftermath of the impact of Francis Bacon’s work).
This gives rise to a question which for the moment will remain unanswered
(in a state of Derridan deferral to maintain the dynamics of the argument).
Namely: Does this indicate a lack of what may be termed descriptive
ekphrasis of place in Lambarde’s writing? (Even when compared
with Leland who, as demonstrated above, can be topographically descriptive.)
one of the motive forces in these opening pages is Lambarde’s
scepticism - especially regarding the legacy of monastic writings and
oral traditions. To clarify what is at stake in this anti-monastic
scepticism, the following passage is representative of Lambarde’s
stance, from the opening entry of the Perambulation proper, beginning
in Thanet [‘Tanet’]. The sequence in question concerns
Domneva, motherof Saint Mildred and the foundation of Minster Abbey
in recompense for a wrong inflicted on the woman:
The woman (instructed belike by some Monkishe counselour) begged
of him so
muche ground to build an abbay upon, as a tame deere (that she nourihed)
would runne over at a breathe: Hereto the King had consented forthwith,
saving that one Tymour (a counseler of his) standing by, blamed him of
great inconsideration, for that he shoulde on the uncertaine course of a Deare,
departe to his certain losse, with any part of so good a soyle, but the earth
(sayth William Thorne) immediately opened, and swalowed him alive,
in memorie whereof, the place till his time, was called Tymor sleape.
Well, the King and this Gentlewoman proceeded in their bargaine, the Hynde
was put foorth, and it ranne thr quantitie of fourtie and eight ploughlands,
before it returned.
And thus Domneua (by the help of the King) builded at Mynster
(within that precinct) a Monasterie of Nonnes, upon such like discretion
(you may be sure) as Ramsey Abbay was pitched, even where a Bull
scraped with his foote, and as Rome itself (for whose favour these follies
was edified,where the Woulfe gave Romulus and Remus sucke.
(Lambarde, p. 81)
sceptical asides regularly pepper Lambarde’s text.
Bearing in mind that the book itself is presented as a Perambulation,
Lambarde frequently resorts to the metonymy of the cicerone or guide
addressing his readership imaginarily situated at the location in
question. As an example of this ploy, the following (modernizing
and standardizing the typography employed in the 1576 edition of
Lambarde, forsaking black letter in the process):
Nowe I woulde foorthwith lead you from the Isle of Tanet, to the
of Richeborow, saving that the Goodwine is before myne eye,
whereof I pray you first hearken what I have to say. [...]
there is very much of the oratorical mode in Lambarde’s
text, which, whilst it may occasionally amuse or irritate the modern
reader, must be placed in its historical context. Rhetoric and the
oratorical mode formed an essential element of the humanist mode of
thought. It lies at the heart of the work of Erasmus, and also in the
works and teachings of Roger Ascham. Whilst much has been written about
Erasmus, perhaps a few words concerning thelatter may be apt at this
point. Roger Ascham (1515-68) was educated at St John’s Collge,
Cambridge, where he established himself as a distinguished classicist,
becoming Reader in Greek in 1538. Such was the progress of his reputation
that in 1548 he was given the position of tutor to Princess Elizabeth;
in 1553 he became Latin secretary to Queen Mary (thus in a sense acting
as an intellectual bridge or conduit between the Protestantism of the
future Elizabeth I and the Catholicism of her sister, Mary). Although
there are evidently little if any notable traces of his work as tutor
(for one of the fundamental characteristics of tuition per se is that
its modes of communication are essentially verbal/conversational and
the traces/annotations left on the texts of others), his most important
contribution to the domain of humanist scholarship and teaching was
published posthumously, in The Scholemaster, the first edition of which
appeared in 1570. Albeit the work is rather slender, consisting of
only 68 leaves, it nonetheless proved so popular that after 1570, it
was reprinted in1571,
1573, 1579 and 1589.
Thus, without wishing to postulate any specific relationship between
the teachings and writings of Ascham, nonetheless, his text can be
seen as symptomatic and illustrative of the humanist movement in England
of the time. The tone of the cicerone or personal guide which presupposes
the proximity of the reader to be found in Lambarde’s text can
thus be situated within a broader context of humanist style in English
writing of this period. Thus the methods and ideals proposed by Ascham
were disseminated via the writings of the historiographers, topographers
and antiquaries of the Tudor and early Stuart period.
And perhaps here we are presented with one of the specific characteristics
which differentiates the work of the antiquaries from that of the chroniclers
(such as William of Malmesbury, Roger Hovedon etc.) of the medieval
period. These earlier writers were in the main members of monastic
institutions. Their works were composed in essentially secluded environments:
within the library/scriptorium of their own house, or that of another
house of the same order if they were allowed to travel at all. Moreover,
within the hierarchy of the ecclesia, the members of the itinerant
orders were regarded as being of lowly origins, status and potential.
Thus, for the intellectual to travel, was to break the mould of medieval
prejudice. No longer inhabiting a world circumscribed by the walls
of a monastic establishment or of a regal or ducal court,the antiquary
and topographer was, at this early historical stage (that of Leland
and Lambarde) himself in an uncertain position in relation to his wider
environment. For at this point one must reiterate an argument presented
in fragmented form above: namely, the uncertainty which surrounds the
way(s) in which the writers and intellectuals of the Tudor and Jacobean
period perceived their surroundings.
- Indeed, in stating the above albeit clumsily, one raises a much more
complex question. It is one which is difficult (perhaps impossible)
to answer in detail. It may be tentatively formulated thus: Is it possible
to write a history of the act of perception? Such a history would of
necessity have to be a social history. Moreover it would have to be
one conducted in a piecemeal, essentially micro-historical fashion.
The broad statements concerning historical matters brought into vogue
by Michel Foucault and his followers would be of little relevance in
this respect. One approach which is definitely NOT required is a history
of perception - in the antiquarian context - presented in a manner
similar to that adopted by Foucault in Madness and Civilization, The
Order of Things and The History of Sexuality. Instead, specific examples
of perception and the recording of the same, situated within their
socio-historical context and analysed accordingly is required.
Added to the above, is the question of the subjective awareness of
sight and the function of seeing. It is a question of the history of
optical theory. One which may seem marginal to the present concern
- and would indeed require a whole, detailed treatise unto itself.
It is, for instance, significant to note that one of the first detailed
treatises on optics and the constitution of the eye, A Discourse of
the Preservation of the Sight by M. Andreas Laurentius was first published
in English translation in 1599. In this text emphasis is placed upon
the importance of the eye not only as the organ of sight, of observing
our surroundings and situating and navigating ourselves within them.
Also the importance of the eye is emphasized as being the chief organ
by means of which information of an intellectual kind is gleaned. It
is the organ of reading.
And fundamentally the early antiquaries and county historians were
concerned with attempts to read history not only as it presented itself
in chronicles and written texts, but also in the historical vestiges
left upon the landscape - the environment through which one walked
on a daily basis. Hence the significance of John Stow, a citizen of
London, writing the first published account of the city, his Survey
of London: a textual mapping of the city which proved to be immensely
popular, as can be judged from the number of revised, augmented editions
which were published within a century of its first appearance - not
to mention the use which other historians made of his work by incorporating
fragments of it into their own texts. One could justifiably maintain
that Stow presented a visual map of the city, one in which the historical
dimensions of the various sites was perceived - as if looking back
through time = in a textual form.
However, at this point of the text, and at this stage of research,
the above hastily sketched scheme must remain in its inadequate state
of incompletion or marginality. A suspended digression within a tentative
work in progress.
To return once more to Lambarde’s text. And in doing so, to present
an instance or fragment not unrelated to the foregoing digression.
At the same time again drawing atention tothe way in which Lambarde
metonymically extends the trope of the ‘perambulation’ within
the text of The Perambulation...
Having sonewhat to say of Eastrye, I trust it shalbe no great offence,
to turne oure eye a little from the shoare, and talke of it, in our way to
It is the name of a Towne, and Hundreth within the Last of Sainct
Augustines, and hath the addition of East, for difference sake,
from Westrye (commonly called Rye) nere Winchelsey in
[Lambarde, p. 114.]
Here again, the place becomes not so much primarily a topographical
entity, locus or location, but rather it becomes the occasion for a
textual reference. This procedure entails the diversion or digression
of consulting another, different text; significantly the digression
tells us more about Lambarde than it does about the place itself. For
it is an opportunity for Lambarde to indicate to the reader that he
has himself consulted and digested the work of other authors during
the course of his research. However, in this instance, the source,
the writer chosen by Lambarde seems somewhat odd considering his frequent
jibes at monastic chroniclers within his text. To continue from where
the above quotation from the Perambulation... left off:
Matthewe of Westminster maketh report of a murther done at it,
which because it tendeth much to the declaration of the auncient
estate of ye town, I will not sticke to rehearse so shortly as I can.
[ibid., p. 114.]
However, in his account of the murder and of its detection via divine
means (N.B.!!) of two young noble children, in the margin Lambarde
‘A right popishe miracle.’ Therefore, via this strategy of
using the margin to intersect and question - even cast cynical doubts
on - some of the documentary material which he uses (manipulates, even)
Lambarde delivers his own opinion concerning the chronicled/recorded ‘facts’.
Moreover, this cynical remark - which makes use of the margin - suggest
the employment or adaptation of a scribal reading commentary-device
found in mss, to the format of the printed page.
Thus, the author/antiquary Lambarde assumes the role of critical reader
of the material decocted into his own text. Therefore he persuades
(or such it seems is his intention) his readership to adopt te sameor
similar strategies and modes of reading as those practised by himself.
Even here, he acts as guide: the mentor -cum- tutelary figure behind
the shoulders of the reader.
As one proceeds through the text the various methodological and rhetorical
strategies employed by Lambarde become more evident. These most often
assume the form of asides scattered through the text, rather than being
gathered into a single, encompassing, systematic account of the praxes
and research methods utilized by him in compiling the text.
To consider the following instance as indicative of what I am attempting
The Chronicles of Dover (as Leland reporteth, for I never saw them)
have mencion, that Iulius Caesar being repulsed from Dover,
arrived at this place, and arraied his armie at Baramdowne:
which thing how wel it may stand with Caesar’s owne reporte in his
Commentaries, I had rather leave to others to decide, then take
upon me to dispute: being wel contented where certeintie is not
evident, to allow of coniectures, not altogether vehement.
[Lambarde, Perambulation..., p. 117.]
[Then follows a synoptic account of the line of coastal castles built in the
time of Henry VIII. The list of castles is by no means complete, being
confined to Kent. The reader is therefore left in a quandry as to
Lambarde’s knowledge - or otherwise - that the Kent defences formed
part of a larger network of coastal fortifications stretching down the
Channel, taking in the ports of the southwest: the last of such
fortifications being the twin castles of Pendennis and St Mawes guarding
the entrance to Carrick Roads, the large inlet and haven adjacent to
Falmouth in Cornwall.]
In the above quoted passage from Lambarde, note his avowed use of
conjecture as being a valid procedure. Moreover, as the statement stands,
Lambarde implies that it requires no further theoretical commentary
- A passage such as this stands as a perfect illustration and verification
of what Graham Parry states concerning conjecture within antiquarian
thought in his The Trophies of Time, O.U.P., 1999.
preceding, attention has been given to the way in which Lambarde
writes of several smaller towns in Kent. Lambarde’s method/strategy
when dealing with larger places is to create his own subdiviions of
presentation. To take his section on Dover as an instance:
The treatise of this place, shall consist of three speciall members,
that is to say, the Towne, the Castle, and the religious
buildings. The Towne was long since somewhat estimable,
howbeit thatwhiche it had (as I thinke) was both at the first
derived from the other two, and ever since also continually
conserved them: But whether I hitte, or misse in that conjecture,
certaine it is, by the testimonie of the recorde in the
Exchequer, commonly called Domesday booke, that the Towne
of Dover was of abilitie in thetime of King Edward the
Confessour, to arme yerely 20. vessels to the Sea by the
space of 15. dayes together, eache vessell having therein 21. able
men. [...] [Lambarde, p. 119.]
remarks concerning the dilapidated stae of Dover Castle in his time
suggest the authentic presence of an eyewitness with a strongly patriotic
[...] But nowe in our memorie, what by decay of the haven (whiche
King Henrie the eight, tohis great charge, but that all in vayne,
sought to restore) and what by the overthrowe of the religious
houses, and losse of Calaice, it is brought in maner to miserable
nakednesse and decaye: whiche thing were the lesse to be
pitied, if it were not accompanyed with the ruine of the Castell it
selfe, the decay whereof, is so much ye more grievous, as the same
thereof is with our ancient stories (above al other) most blasing
and glorious. The Castell of Dover (sayth Lidgate and Rosse)
was firste builded by Iuilius Caesar the Romane Emperour,
in memorie of whome, they of the Castell kept till this day,
certeine vessels of olde wine, and salte, which they affirme to
be the remayne of such provision as he brought into it. As
touching the whiche (if they be natural, and not sophisticate)
I suppose them more likely to have beene of that store, whiche
Hubert de Burghe layde in there, of whome I shall have
cause to say more hereafter. [...]
[Lambarde, p. 121.]
that instead of falling into the antiquarian trap of attributing
any object of exceptionally great age to the Romans, Lambarde is
more cautious. (Indeed, one of the chief errors committed by the
early antiquaries of the Tudor and Jacobean periods was their excessive
zeal in attributing more than their due unto the Roman occupation
of this country. Perhaps the most msguided instance of this was Inigo
that Stonehenge was a Roman structure; as it was commonly considered
that there was little if anything resembling native accomplishment
prior to the Roman occupation, Jones’s text is symptomatic, rather
than being an aberrant instance. It took John Aubrey, in his Monumenta
Britannica [which was not published until John Fowles and Rodney Legg
produced their lavish, annotated facsimile of Aubrey’s ms in
1980] to propose that many of the complex earthworks and other stone
monuments predated the Roman occupation by several centuries - thus
laying the foundations of modern archaeological fieldwork.)
Even if the items which Lambarde brings into question are of a lowly
and somewhat insignificant status in regard to other architectural
traces which he could have considered - focusing his attention on ‘certeine
vessels of olde wine and salte’ - it could be argued that Lambarde
is being quite perceptive in drawing attention to the ‘forensic’ questions
posed by the supposedly Roman wine and salt. Namely, insinuating -
without stating (would the statement have been adequately formulated
by Lambarde?) - that it is questionable that such items should have
survived from the Roman
occupation, whilst more durable evidence is lacking.
worthwhile mentioning that Lambarde continues his discussion of Dover
castle by presenting the following argument . - Because there is
no mention of a castle at Dover in Caesar’s Commentaries,
the more likely candidate for instigating its building is the British
puppet-king installed by the Romans, Arviragus, for whom he cites the
mention of such a person in the Satires of Juvenal.
Who was this Arviragus? What more is known of him? These and other
questions which the modern historian of Roman Britain would want to
be clarified at such a crucial point are passed over in silence by
Lambarde. Whether the author himself was aware of this apparently sly
elision is open to question, inasmuch as it is to be remembered that
Lambarde was working within a framework quite different from that of
the modern historian. As far as Lambarde was concerned, so it seems,
he had pinpointed the essential. That is to say, that he had found
a name with which to fill up at least a small area of the vast, unexplored
continent of the past. To be able to name a figure - Arviragus - was
to help (albeit in a small way) populate the isle of Britain. Moreover,
such a figure was the ancestor of one of Lambarde’s contemporaries;
contemporaries upon whose behalf he had undertaken his Perabulation
and for whose delectation he had written his account.
Moving from Dover to Folkestone, Lambarde finds apt occasion for another
of his anti-Papal asides. Once again legends, miracles and relics are
the subject of subtle mockery:
[...] And yet, least you should thinke S. Peters Parishe churche
to be voyde of
reverence,I must let you knowe of Nova Legenda Angliae, that before the Sea
had devoured all, S. Eanswides reliques were translated thither: The author
of that worke reporteth many wonders of this woman, as that she lengthened
beame of that building three foote, when the Carpenters (missing in their measure)
had made it so muche too shorte: That she haled and drew water over the hills
against nature: That she forbad certain ravenous birdes the countrey,
which before did muche harme there abouts: That she restored the blynde,
cast out the Divel, and healed innumerable folkes of their infirmities. And
therefore after her deathe, she was by the policie of the Popish priestes,
follie of the common people, honoured for a Sainct.
[Lambarde, p. 136]
that as well as the by now familiar scepticism regarding the purported
miracles of saints, in the above passage quoted, Lambarde refers
to another historical phenomenon of a more readily verifiable kind.
Not religious, but geographic: namely the alteration of the Kentish
shoreline [due to shifting sandbanks in the Channel and the silting
up of estuaries among other causes; although physical geography per
se is beyond the scope of Lamarde’s book - yet it is quite reasonable
to suggest that he would have known of Strabo’s Geography where
such changes in the features of
landmasses are discussed]. Although he does not propose any scheme
of causality for these manifest changes - some of which had occurred
within living memory of his contemporaries - Lambarde is well aware
of the consequences of such coastal fluctuations upon the rise and
decline of the Kent seaports and their hinterland:
And truly, whosoever shall consider, eyther the universall vicissitude
Sea in all places, or the particular alteration, and chaunge, that in tymes
passed, and now presently it worketh on the coasts of this Realme, he will
easely assent, that Townes bordering upon the Sea and upholded by the commoditie
thereof, may in short time decline to great decay, and become (in manner)
worthe nothing at all. For, as the water either floweth, or forsaketh them,
so must they of necessitie, either flourish or fall: flowing (as it were) or
ebbing with the Sea it self.
[Lambarde, p. 141.]
This decline of the seaports presents Lambarde with an occasion to
wax mournfully lyrical, which indeed he does, without over-egging the
pudding and tipping over into excessive morosity. Moreover, as if even
in this observation some classical counterpart were deemed necessary,
or at least an apt parallel, Lambarde adds a digression/allusion to
the fluctuating fortunes of Venice, and a mention of the ceremony of
the ring, whereby each year the city is symbolically wed with the sea
upon which its fortunes are dependent.
*** TO BE CONTINUED.
MOREOVER THE SECTIONS ON LAMBARDE ARE TO BE INCORPORATED INTO THE SECTION
ON WILLIAM LAMBARDE. MANY OF THE COMMENTS ARE BETTER INCORPORATED
INTO A FINAL, TENTATIVE, CONCLUSION/AFTERWORD.