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from its losses, and appears in the next century to to have contained twelve parish Churches. It first returned Members to Parliament in the reign of Edward I, and has continued to do so to the present time; the electors are the inhabitants paying scot and lot, and are said to amount to about 300 persons; it has never, however, been remarkable for its purity, and in 1774 the most gross corruption and bribery were clearly proved to have been practised, in order to secure the return of two persons, whose only recommendation appears to have been the money which they dealt round to the voters, in parcels of twenty guineas each. The time at which Shaftesbury was first incorporated is unknown; the Charter by which it is now governed was granted by Queen Elizabeth, and the Corporation consists of a Mayor, Recorder, Bailiff, twelve Aldermen, and Common-Councilmen.
Although much reduced from its ancient splendour, Shaftesbury still contains four parish Churches : that of St. Peter is the principal; it is of considerable antiquity, and consists of a nave, chancel, and side aisles; the exterior is ornamented with carving, and several of the windows are adorned with armorial bearings in stained glass; it has a curiously-carved font, and has originally been decorated with great elegance, but its beauty is much impaired by modern alterations. Holy Trinity is a spacious edifice, with a square tower, ornamented with pinnacles; in the Churchyard is a neat stone Cross, and part of an ancient monument, from which the inscription has been effaced. St. James's, and St. Rumbald's, are both small and ancient edifices, possessing nothing to entitle them to particular notice. Beside these, here are places of worship for Dissenters of various denominations; a Free School; ad Alms-house, founded in 1611, maintaining sixteen poor women; a second, for ten men, founded in 1660; and an ancient edifice of a similar description, now converted into a Poor House, The Town Hall is a handsome building, standing on arches; beneath this the Market is held weekly on Saturday. The inhabitants of the town, in 1821, amounted to 2903.
An eminence to the west of Shaftesbury, called Castle Green, is traditionally stated to have been so named from its being the site of a Castle in former
days, but no mention of such an edifice occurs in any author we have met with. From this hill is beheld a beautiful and extensive landscape, stretching over a considerable portion of Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire. From the situation of the town on a high hill, it experiences a great want of water; and although many attempts have been made to procure this indispensable article within their own precincts, the inhabitants are still in a great measure dependent on the supplies brought, either on horseback, or on men's heads, from some large wells at Motcomb Green, a quarter of a mile below the town; and as an acknowledgment for this water, the Mayor, attended by the rest of the Corporation, goes every year, on the Monday before Holy Thursday, to Enmore Green, near Motcomb, bearing a kind of garland richly decorated with plate, jewels, and
peacocks' feathers, and delivers to the Steward of the Manor " a raw calf's head, a pair of gloves, a gallon of ale, and two penny loaves of white bread;" this important ceremony over, “the authorities” return. to the town, and console themselves for the fatigues of the journey by an entertainment. · The Rev. James Granger was born at Shaftesbury; and after receiving his education at Christchurch College, Oxford, he took orders, and obtained the vicarage of Shiplake, in Oxfordshire, by his marriage with a Miss Jennings, of that place. Having employed himself in making a collection of portraits, he conceived the idea of publishing a complete catalogue of engraved portraits, chronologically arranged and classified, with short memoirs, and illustr ve anecdotes; this he partly accomplished by the publication of the first two volumes of his “ Biographical History of England,” in 1769; and brought the work down to the death of Queen Anne by a third volume, and a second edition of the whole, with pumerous additions, in four volumes 8vo. in 1775. He died on the morning of Easter Monday, 1776, having been seized with an apoplectic fit the preceding day, while administering the Sacrament. A contemporary
in noticing his death, says, “ He was respected by persons of every rank and station. As an author he was eminently ingenious, spirited, and candid; as a man and a Christian he was benevolent, humble, and without guile. He was what it was his highest ambition to be,-an honest man, and a good parish priest.”
is pleasantly situated on the side of a hill, near the north-western border of the County, 117 miles from London. By some authors it is said to have been known to the Romans; but this conjecture is not borne out by the discovery of any remains which can be attributed to that people. It appears to have been a place of considerable distinction early in the eighth century, as in 705 it was made the seat of a bishop, whose see comprehended the counties of Berks, Wilts, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall; the three last-named were separated from it in 904, and the see was finally removed to Old Sarum in 1075: Asser, the friend and biographer of Alfred the Great, was the most celebrated of its bishops.
Early in the tenth century Sherborne was burnt by the Danes under Canute, and the state of ruin and decay to which it was reduced in consequence, was the great cause of the removal of the episcopal see, as it is stated by contemporary writers, to consist, at that time, only of “one small street, in which is nothing agreeable; so that it is matter of reproach and wonder that an episcopal seat had continued there so long.” Nothing further occurs of historical interest connected with this town until the period of the Civil War, when its Castle was taken and retaken several times; and in 1685 twelve persons were executed here on account of the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion.
The Manor of Sherborne was granted to the Bishops by one of the Saxou monarchs, and continued attached to the See, and to that of Salisbury, until the reign of Edward VI, when it was seized by the Protector Somerset, and granted to Lord St. John, afterwards Marquis of Winchester: this nobleman was compelled to disgorge his prey in the following reign; but Elizabeth again took possession of the lands, and bestowed them on Sir Walter Raleigh and others. On Sir Walter's attainder, James I
gave them to his favourite, Car, Earl of Somerset; after the disgrace of the latter they were conferred on Sir
John Digby, and this gift (or rather purchase, for Sir John paid Prince Charles £10,000, " to secure his title against Raleigh and his heirs") was confirmed by Charles I, who, however, ordered Digby, then Earl of Bristol, to allow to Lady Raleigh an annuity of £400, which, after her death, was to be paid to her son: the estate is still in the possession of this family.
The Castle stood upon an eminence, about half a mile from the town, in a suburb still called Castleton, it is supposed to have been erected in Saxon times; and, soon after the Conquest, Osmond de Sels, Earl of Dorset, to whom it belonged, being seized with a fit of devotion, or tempted by the rich endowments of the see, induced William to appoint him Bishop of Salisbury, and annexed this Castle to the possessions of the bishopric, endeavouring to secure its continuance by setting a curse, in this world and the next, upon them that did goe aboute to plucke the same from that godly use;" and this awful curse” is supposed by some writers to have occasioned the death or ruin of all the fraudulent possessors of the Castle or Manor, from its seizure by Seymour, Duke of Somerset, who was beheaded, to Car, Earl of Somerset, who deserved to be so. This Castle was besieged by the Parliamentary forces, under the Earl of Bedford, in 1642, but without effect; in 1643 a skirmish took place under its walls, in which the Royalists were defeated, and the town plundered,
but the Castle still held out; in 1615, however, it was attacked, and taken after a siege of sixteen days, by Cromwell and Fairfax; a great quantity of ammunition, provisions, plate, &c. was found here, and many distinguished prisoners were taken: the Parliament ordered the Castle to be demolished, which was immediately done, and but few vestiges of it now exist. With a portion of the materials the mansion now called Sherborne Castle, or Lodge, the seat of the Earl of Digby, was in part erected: it is a singular edifice, built in the form of the letter H, and stands in a beautiful and extensive Park.
The Church, or Minster, dedicated to St, Mary, is a spacious and noble pile; it is built in the form of a cross, and in the centre is a tower, 154 feet high, adorned with pinnacles. Its architecture is of various periods; several portions exhibit the Saxon, or early Norman style; but the tower, the east end, and some other parts, were rebuilt in the reign of Henry VI, after the destruction of a considerable portion of the Church by fire, in a dispute between the monks and the inhabitants of the town, when a priest attached to the latter was so transported with indignation, that he discharged an arrow,“ tipped with fire,” against a part of the roof which was then thatched, and the flames rapidly spreading, the building was almost entirely consumed. It was, however, soon re-edified, and is now the handsomest Church in the County; the interior is finished in that light and elegant style which characterizes the English architecture of the fifteenth century; the roof is lofty, decorated with a variety of tracery, armorial bearings, and other devices. In the cross aisle is a fine monument in memory of the Earl of Bristol, who died in 1698, with an inscription by Dr. Hough, Bishop of Worcester; near this is a tablet, commemorating a son and daughter of Lord Digby, who both died young, and on whom Pope wrote the following beautiful epitaph:
“Go, fair example of untainted youth,
Of modest reason, and pacific truth;