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Sir Philip's Arcadia, and immortalized by Ben Jonson's beautiful epitaph*. Several other members of this family were distinguished personages, but we can only mention Algernon Sydney, grandson of the first Earl of Leicester, so well known as one of the martyrs who fell in defence of English liberty during the tyrannical reign of Charles II; he was beheaded, after undergoing the mockery of a trial, in 1683, and died with a spirit worthy of his illustrious race; one of his sisters was the Saccharissa so much celebrated by Waller.
The Castle possesses many splendid apartments, and a valuable collection of family portraits; and in the Park is an oak said to have been planted at the birth of Sir Philip, and now more than 22 feet in circumference.
The Church of Penshurst is a large and respectable building, containing many monuments in memory of the Sydneys; the population of the village was, in 1821, 606 persons.
A small market town, in the Isle of Sheppey, and 47 miles from London, is a place of considerable antiquity, having been a peculiar possession of the Saxon monarchs, from whom it received the appellation of Cyningburgh. On the site of a Castle erected by them, Edward III. employed William of Wykeham to construct a more extensive and magnificent edifice; and on its completion the monarch himself resided here a short time, conferred a Charter on the town, by which, among other privileges, he empowered the inhabitants to elect a Mayor and other officers annually, granted them two weekly Markets, and ordered the place to be called Queenborough, in honour of his illustrious consort Philippa of Hainault. The Castle was pulled down by order of the Parliament in 1650; but a well, once within its walls, is still in use.
* The following is the epitaph above referred to:—
Underneath this marble hearse
Lies the subject of all verse;
Sydney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
Death, ere thou hast slain another,
Wise, and good, and fair as she,
Time shall fling a dart at thee!
The Church is an ancient building, with a tower at the west end, and is very neatly fitted up. A Chapel for Dissenters, and a Free School, are also established here. The government of the town is exercised by a Mayor, four Jurats, two Bailiffs, &c.; the Market has been long disused; and the inhabitants, who are chiefly employed in fishing and oyster-dredging, were, in 1821, no more than 881, about 150 of whom return two Members to Parliament.
This now fashionable watering-place was, like Margate, at a period not very remote, a mean fishing village, and it owes its present prosperity in some measure to the same causes which have elevated its neighbour and rival. It is, however, a place of considerable antiquity, and has been a member of the Cinque Port of Sandwich during some centuries. About 1688, an advantageous trade was opened from hence to Russia, and the east of Europe; and the subsequent improvements of the Pier and Harbour have contributed in a considerable degree to the modern consequence of this town.
At least three centuries ago, a Pier existed here;
but it was built of wood, and totally inadequate to afford a shelter to the numerous vessels which, in tempestuous weather, were driven upon this coast. At length, in 1749, the importance of the object led to the erection of a more extensive and substantial structure, and the present Pier was begun, under the sanction of an Act of Parliament, by W. Ockenden, Esq. and Captain Brook. After considerable delays it was apparently completed, in the most substantial and handsome manner, enclosing an area of 46 acres; but it was now discovered, that, although the purpose of obtaining a sheltered harbour was fully answered, the want of a back-water allowed the accumulation of sand to such a degree, as to threaten shortly to choak it up, and render it utterly unserviceable.
In these circumstances, Mr. Smeaton, the celebrated architect of the Eddystone Light-house, was employed, and after carefully surveying the harbour, he gave it as his opinion that an artificial back-water, by means of sluices, was the only remedy for the evil complained of; after several delays, his plans were adopted; a cross wall was built, and to remove the inconvenient agitation of the waters occasioned by this erection, an advanced Pier, 400 feet long, was carried out, which has had the desired effect, and the whole now forms the finest structure of the kind in this country. The two Piers extend about 900 feet into the sea, and incline towards each other, so as to leave an entrance 240 feet wide, and enclose an area of a circular form, about 46 acres in extent, in which as many as 300 ships have at one time found shelter. The general breadth of the Piers is 26 feet, including a strong parapet, which defends the sides next the sea. Between 1792 and 1802, several additional buildings were erected, among which were, a new stone Light-house, at the head of the West Pier, furnished with Argand lamps and reflectors; a handsome house for the meetings of the Trustees; a neat residence for the Harbour Master, a Watchhouse, Warehouses, &c.; and a noble obelisk has since been raised to commemorate the departure of his Majesty from this place on his visit to Hanover, in 1821. The entire length of the East Pier, including its angles, is nearly 2000 feet, and that of the West
about 1500; the principal parts of the work are of Portland or Purbeck stone, and the whole is constructed in the most solid and masterly manner: the cost of the buildings has been very little short of one million sterling, but the saving of lives and property in consequence, is incalculable. The entrance is secured by two batteries, and near the north end of the West Pier is a timber frame-work, with a staircase, called Jacob's Ladder, which makes a communication between the top and bottom of the cliff.
Ramsgate formed a part of the parish of St. Lawrence, until very recently; and the Chapel of Ease, a neat building, was consecrated in 1791; since that period, however, the number of inhabitants has so much increased, that it has been deemed necessary to constitute it a distinct parish, and to erect a new Church, which is calculated to contain 2000 persons, and is a very handsome Gothic edifice, dedicated to St. George, with a beautiful square tower, having an ornamented pinnacle at each corner, and surmounted by an elegant octagonal lantern, also terminated by pinnacles of the most delicate proportions. The interior is fitted up in a neat and appropriate style; and the whole edifice reflects great credit on the skill of the architect, and the taste of his employers. The Independents, Methodists, and Baptists, have their respective places of worship here; and several charitable institutions have been established.
The visitors of Ramsgate, if less numerous, are considered more select than those of Margate; the amusements and accommodations are at both places very similar. The Royal Kent Baths, on the West Cliff, are built and finished in an elegant manner, and derive their title from the patronage of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent; a fine saloon, furnished with the publications of the day, is attached, and from the windows a charming view of the sea and the French coast may be obtained. There are also other bathing establishments, and many machines. The Assembly Rooms are near the Harbour, well conducted, and numerously attended. Several excellent Libraries and Reading-rooms afford amusement and instruction to the visitants; while the numerous Boarding-houses, Hotels, and Taverns, offer
accommodations in their line of a very superior description. The favourite promenade is the Pier, which presents a variety of the most beautiful views, comprising, in clear weather, the whole of the Kentish coast from Margate to Deal, with the opposite cliffs of Calais, distant 30 miles, and the blue expanse of waters, studded in every direction with white sails, and affording a highly animated and picturesque prospect.
Many handsome ranges of buildings have been erected in various parts of the town, and the whole is well paved and lighted. Here are two weekly Markets, well supplied with every article of necessity or luxury. Boat-building, and the repairing of ships, are carried on, occasionally to a considerable extent; and a good deal of commercial business is transacted by sea, principally with the metropolis, the coast_of France, and the shores of the Baltic. The population of Ramsgate, which is distant from London 73 miles, is estimated at between 7000 and 8000.
RECULVER, the Regulbium of the Romans, had a castle erected by that people, to defend the northern passage of the estuary which formerly separated the Isle of Thanet from the mainland of Kent, (stated by Bede to be three miles broad, although it is now merely a dry ditch, in many places scarcely perceptible,) the southern passage being commanded by a similar fortress at Richborough, or Rutupium. The remains of this structure, which existed a few years ago, have since been totally obliterated by the encroachments of the sea; and in all probability the relics of the venerable Church, whose towers have so long been a well-known landmark to the mariner, will speedily be engulfed by the same element. Reculver, then called Raculf-ceaster, was a favourite residence of the Saxon monarchs of Kent; and to this place Ethelbert retired with his court, when his pious liberality had induced him to bestow on Augustine the royal palace and demesnes at Canterbury. A Benedictine Abbey was subsequently founded here, about 670, by Egbert, King of Kent, in atonement for the murder of his two nephews, who had been left to his guardianship, but whom he put to death in order to usurp the throne. The Church, of