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Lymington is divided into two parts, called old and New, which circumstance may perhaps be thought to favour the supposition of a partial conflagration at some former period; the Church, (a curacy of the mother church at Boldre), which stands at the point of junction between these divisions, is an ancient pile, much disfigured by the successive alterations it has undergone. In the centre is a tower and spire, and it contains some neat monuments. Some other places of worship are also established, as well as Schools for the instruction of poor children.
Lymington first sent two Members to Parliament in 1585, although it had received a summons to do so as far back as the reign of Edward III. By a charter of incorporation granted by James I, the right of election is vested in the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses, about 80 in number; while the population, in 1821, was 3164. It is a place of considerable trade, and has a good Market on Saturday, with two annual Fairs. Within the last few years Lymington has become a favourite watering-place, and has its Libraries, Baths, &c.; the beauty of its situation, its contiguity to the Isle of Wight, and the comparative quiet which at present may be enjoyed there, render it a very desirable residence for the invalid.
LYNDHURST, a small village, 86 miles from London, is beautifully situated in the New Forest, of which district it has always been considered the principal place, and the Forest Courts are still held here, four times in every year. Here is a homely building called the King's House, which serves as a residence for the Lord Warden, when he visits the Forest, and in which George III took up his abode during several days in the summer of 1789; an ancient stirrup, said to have been worn by William Rufus, when he was shot by Tyrrel, is still preserved here: the King's Stables, a large but not a very elegant building, erected by Charles II, have been converted into Barracks.
About a mile from this village is Cuffnells, long the residence of Mr. Rose, and now of his son, Sir G. H. Rose. The House, which is a plain but convenient building, with an excellent Library, bequeathed to Mr. Rose by the Earl of Marchmont, is delightfully situated, and the Park presents a great variety of beautiful scenery.
MEON (East and West), two small villages, about 60 miles from London, on the Gosport road, do not possess any claims to particular notice, except that the Church of the first-named was built by Bishop Walkelin, the munificent prelate who rebuilt so great a part of the Cathedral of his see, and that it contains a curious ancient Font, exactly resembling that at Winchester.
MERDON, a village about four miles from Winchester, is a very ancient place, although now of little consequence; here Kenulph, King of Wessex, was murdered, in 784, by Kynehard; and here Bishop, de Blois erected a Castle, which has long been in ruins, and of which scarcely a vestige now remains. This manor afterwards belonged to the Protector Richard Cromwell, who resided in the manor-house, called Hursley Lodge, during the Protectorate of his father, He also retired to this place in the short interval that elapsed between his resignation and retirement to the Continent, where he passed twenty years, returning to England in 1680. Some time afterwards he was under the necessity of commencing a law-suit against his daughters for the recovery of this estate; and being obliged to appear in Westminster Hall on that occasion, Lord Chief Justice
Holt treated him with the respect due to his rank, his age, and his virtues. He died, in 1712, at the age of 86, and was buried in the parish church of Hursley. After his death his daughters sold the property to Sir W. Heathcote, who, in a fit of outrageous loyalty, made a vow, that, “ because the house had belonged to Cromwell, not a stone or a brick of it should remain upon another, even in the foundations.” In consequence of this wise resolution, he demolished the building; and in one of the walls the die of a seal was found, which, on being cleaned, proved to be the Seal of the Commonwealth of England, and is supposed to be the identical one which Oliver took from the Parliament. The present mansion is a large, plain building, standing in a pleasant Park, well stocked with deer.
This beautiful ruin is situated about three miles to the south-east of Southampton, on the brow of a gentle eminence rising from the river, and is so much hidden by the luxuriant wood around it, that it is scarcely perceived until very nearly approached.
The period when this Abbey was founded is uncertain, but it is believed to have been in the reigu of Henry III, who granted a charter to its inmates in 1251: it was not a large establishment, the number of the brethren, at the Dissolution, being but thirteen, and their annual income, according to the highest estimate, no more than £160 2s. 9d. "By Henry VIII the buildings and demesne were granted to Sir W. Paulett, who afterwards disposed of it to the Earl of Hertford, son of the Protector Somerset. It has since passed through various families. The Abbey Church appears to have continued in tolerable preservation until near the close of the seventeenth century, when the Marquis of Huntingdon, to whom it then belonged, converted the west end into a kitchen; and either this nobleman, or the succeeding proprietor, sold the whole fabric to a builder, named Taylor, who intended to pull it down, and convert the materials to some other purpose. As, however, this person was killed by the fall of a stone from the east window, while engaged in the demolition, this accident was considered as a demonstration of Divine indignation against the sacrilegious attempt; the work was abandoned; and the remains of this venerable and beautiful pile have been ever since left to the silent progress of natural decay.
The Church, which appears to have been about 200 feet long, and 60 wide, was built in the form of a cross, and had a tower, which was ornamented with pinnacles, and served as a sea-mark. The roof, which was elegantlyórnamented with groining, now bestrews the ground, most of the windows have lost their tracery, and the tower has fallen. The east end and the south transept are the most perfect, and their beautiful light columns and arches occasion the most lively regret that so little is left of so elegant a building. Various parts of the ruins are overgrown with ivy, and in several places trees have sprung up within the walls, and greatly add to their picturesque appearance*
* The ruined grandeur of this edifice has been the theme of many poetic effusions; but few possess so much pathos and elegance as the following Sonnet by the Rev. W. L. Bowles:
“ Fall’n pile! I ask not what has been thy fate;
But when the weak winds, wafted from the main,
Through each lone arch, like spirits that complain,
Of those who once might proudly, in their prime,
Have stood, with giant port; till, bow'd by time
They lift their heads, with venerable hairs
Of mortal vanities and short-lived cares;-
Some remains are still visible of a building called the Abbot's Kitchen, the beautiful Chapter House, the Refectory, and various other offices; all, however, are very much mutilated. At a short distance, but nearer to the river, are the ruins of Netley Castle, one of the fortifications raised by Henry VIII on this part of the coast: it possesses nothing interesting.
NEW FOREST. This extensive district is about 20 miles in length, and 15 in breadth, and contains upwards of 92,000 acres: the whole of this, however, is not forest-land, nor the property of the Crown; nearly 25,000 acres belong to private individuals, and about 4000 more are occupied in various ways, either by lease from the Crown, as enclosures attached to the different lodges, or as encroachments; so that the actual amount of wood and waste-lands is stated to be 63,845 acres.
This Forest was anciently much more extensive than at present; and it is generally believed that William the Conqueror, in forming it, was guilty of the most barbarous devastations; that he destroyed a great number of towns and villages, exterminated the inhabitants, and ruined the churches: this charge was first made by some monkish historians, and has been faithfully copied by subsequent writers, in poetry and in prose; in Pope's Windsor Forest we find it conveyed in these elegant and animated lines :
“ Proud Nimrod first the bloody chase began,