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From this point the traveller usually proceeds towards Cumberland Lodge, a large straggling and melancholy edifice. It is not generally known that Cumberland Lodge boasts a vine, and producing yearly prodigious crops of delicious fruit, even larger than the monster vine at Hampton Court.
From Cumberland Lodge we proceed towards Bishopsgate. Here we have one of the most enchanting views of the Castle, which, wherever we turn, forms the terminating point of view. The foreground is formed by overshadowing trees of enormous magnitude, and the Castle and country beyond, seen through lengthened vista, have all the effect of a landscape set in a frame of elegant arabesque work.
From Bishopsgate the usual route is to Virginia Water, a place full of artificial prettinesses in that boasted taste which, for want of a better name, we may denominate the Grand Cockney. Here are Chinese tea-houses painted all colours of the rainbow, fishing-temples of most preposterous architecture and absurd decoration, belvideres, ruins, puppet frigates floating on the lake,
and the like. Our illustration exhibits the ruins, and the building called the Belvidere. The grand defect of Virginia Water, however, and one that can never be got over, is the artificiality, the manufactured air of lake, and walks, and groves :
“ Foresta nascitur non fit :"
Kings may inherit, but cannot create a forest : not even royal resources or power can approach that grandeur of prospect, that magnificence of shade, time and nature alone can give. Nothing about Virginia Water is more than pretty. The water collected into a lake of considerable expanse is a pleasing object in the landscape, notwithstanding that at a glance you can see the cutout character of its banks and the formality of its outline.
But water in every landscape is pleasing, and compensates for many defects.
Returning from Virginia Water, the western side of the Great Park may be explored. The views on either side Queen Anne's ride, especially about Hawk's Hill, Dark Wood, and Sandpit Gate, are most magnificent. Here you have in its perfection, the true sublime of forest scenery ; picturesque without infertility, and grand without horror.
The Heronry, near Sandpit Gate, should be visited. Here are some beech trees whose magnitude may be estimated from the fact that the trunk of one
interposed has concealed a man on horseback, at the opposite side, altogether from our view.
Cranbourn Lodge will not fail to arrest the attention of visitors to the Great Park. This strange-looking mansion was built by the Earl of Ranelagh, Paymaster of the Forces, in the time of Charles the Second. It has been successively in the occupation of Charles, Duke of St. Alban’s, of the Duke of Cumberland, and of his late Royal Highness the Duke of York. The mansion, or rather the portion of it now remaining, is an hexagonal tower, of considerable elevation, and commanding, on every side, delightful and varied prospects over the Forest, Cranbourne Chase, and the Great Park.
Holly Grove, or Lodge, the residence of Sir William Freemantle, Deputy Ranger of the Great Park, is a delightful retreat, embowered in woods, among which many very fine evergreens are not the least conspicuous.
The house is large and commodious; but the chief charm of Holly Lodge is its situation. The views from the house and grounds of the Park, Forest, and distant scenery are unrivalled.
The grounds were laid out by Repton, who employed all the skill for which he was famous, in crowding adornment into limited space, and, by a pleasing deceit, to convey an idea of extended territory.
Not far from Cranbourn Lodge is a very remarkable oak, called William the Conqueror's oak, at six feet from the ground, measuring thirty-eight feet in circumference.
Near this is another veteran of the forest, thirty-six feet in circumference. These trees, with the scenery and prospects immediately round Cranbourn Lodge, will amply repay those who may linger in this picturesque vicinity.
Of magnificent prospects, that from High Standing Hill, without the limits of the Great Park, should not be forgotten. “The thick forest scene below, with the continued mass of foliage beyond it, forms a verdant base to the Castle, whose towers, clustered in the perspective, are crowned by the stately Keep, while the town is seen climbing up, as it were, to claim the protection of the fortress above it. The chapel of Eton College rises in the luxuriant vale, which is varied by the uplands of Buckinghamshire, and extends to its distant termination in Middlesex and Surrey."
The number of fine seats, in the vicinage of Windsor Great Park, is very great, and their particular description would far exceed the narrow limits to which we are confined, but among the principal we may note :
St. LEONARD's Hill, conspicuous for its elevated situation, a very noble seat, in the immediate vicinage of the Great Park. It was erected on the site of a cottage by the beautiful Countess Dowager of Waldegrave, afterwards Duchess of Gloucester, and was first called Gloucester Lodge.
The great Earl of Chatham, when Secretary at War, made this his country retreat from the fatigues of public business. One of the finest prospects of the Castle and surrounding country is overlooked by St. Leonard's Hill.
Tradition will have it that there was a Roman encampment here: in 1717, a brass lamp was discovered under a stone, with a spear head, two pieces of trumpets, cans, earthen pots, &c. The lamp, having been presented by Sir Hans Sloane to the Society of Antiquaries, has since been chosen for their crest.
There is at St. Leonard's a field called Hermitage Field, and it is conjectured that there was hereabouts an anchorite's retreat; a well, known as
SUNNING HILL.-WINDSOR FOREST.
the Hermitage Well, was several years since stopped up, and although every exertion has been made to discover it, its place of concealment has been hitherto undiscovered.
Silwood Park, at present offered for sale, is another of the splendid seats on the outskirts of the Great Park. The house is situated on a rising ground, commanding beautiful and extensive views from either front; and the demesne, consisting of between two and three hundred acres, is laid out as a ferme ornée with great taste and judgment.
Not far from Ascot is SUNNING Hill, a small village in Windsor Forest. The medicinal well once gave to this picturesquely-situated spot all the attractions of a watering-place; public breakfasts and assemblies gave life and social cheerfulness to the residents, and the magnificent scenery in the neighbourhood formed an attraction few places of this description can boast.
Tittenhurst, or as it is pronounced Titness, in this parish, was the residence of Admiral Sir Home Popham, but has since his time frequently changed owners.
At Sunning Hill resided General Fitzpatrick, formerly known in the political world, but remembered chiefly as the friend and associate of Fox, Burke, and other distinguished Members of the Whig party.
Windsor Forest was formerly of vast extent, comprising, as appears by ancient survey, part of Buckinghamshire, a considerable district in the county of Surrey, following the course of the river Wey as far as Guildford, and the whole of the south-eastern part of Berkshire, as far as Hungerford. Its original circumference was computed at one hundred and twenty miles; but Norden's map, taken in 1607, makes its circuit seventy-seven and a half miles—an immense royal demesne, certainly, and one which few monarchs could have boasted to possess.
In 1789, the entire quantity of land in the Forest was calculated by the Surveyor of the Woods at nearly sixty thousand acres; the parishes within its circuit are twelve in number, and part of five others; and it contains no less than fifteen principal or chief manors, with several that are subordinate or inferior.
The Forest has now in a great degree passed out of royal hands, a small portion contiguous to the Great Park only being reserved; the remainder having been granted, devised, or otherwise disposed of to private individuals.
The Forest contains one market-town and several villages : the principal in point of size and population is WOKINGHAM.
In the chancel of the parish church is a monument to the memory of Thomas Godwin, Bishop of Bath and Wells, who was born, and died here.
Archbishop Laud was a liberal benefactor to this parish : the proceeds of the fee farm rents, bequeathed by him, are divided, pursuant to the donor's intention, every third year, between three poor maidens, of the age of eighteen, natives of the town, and members of the Church of England: —the other years they are appropriated to apprenticing boys.
The Rose Inn at Wokingham is the scene of the whimsical, burlesque ballad, “Molly Mog,”—a production of the conjoined talent of Gay, Swift, and others of their distinguished party. The current tradition of the place is, that Gay and some of his poetic friends having agreed upon one occasion to dine at the Rose, and being kept in the house by the severity of the weather, it was proposed, for the sake of beguiling the time, that a song should be written, to which each individual might contribute a verse: the subject proposed was the maid of the inn. This highly-favoured damethe subject of a club of poets, and more fortunate than Laura or Sacharissa, who only commanded the homage of one—was the daughter of the landlord, who rejoiced in the discordantly-sounding name of Mog.
It is reported that the combined authors intended to celebrate the praises of Molly's sister, the Beauty of the Rose, but in mistake transferred poetic immortality to the plainer sister, thus inadvertently compensating for the partiality of nature.
It would certainly be an appropriate pendant to the portrait of Gay which decorates the parlour of the “Rose,” if an artist were to pourtray the confederate bards in the ecstacies of composing “Molly Mog," during their enforced seclusion in the parlour of the village hostelry.