Views in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Northamptonshire/Euston Hall
The Seat of His Grace The Duke of Grafton
Where Noble Grafton spreads his rich domains.
Round Eustons water'd vale and sloping plains
vide Farmer's Boy.
Euston Hall, in Suffolk, the seat of his Grace the Duke of Grafton, was formerly the property of the Earls of Arlington, but came into the possession of the Fitzroys by the marriage of the first Duke of Grafton with the daughter and heiress of Lord Arlington. The mansion is large and commodious, of a modern date, built with red brick, and without any superfluous decorations within or without: indeed, the good sense and good taste of its noble possessor, are conspicuous in every part. The house is almost surrounded by trees of uncommon growth, and the most healthy and luxuriant appearance; and near it glides the river Ouse. Over this stream is thrown a neat and substantial wooden bridge, at the foot of which the accompanying View was taken. The scenery about the House and Park combines the most delightful assemblage of rural objects that can well be imagined, and is justly celebrated by the author of The Farmer's Boy:
Where noble Grafton spreads his rich domains
Round Euston's water'd vale and sloping plains,
Where woods and groves in solemn grandeur rise,
Where the kite brooding unmolested flies;
The woodcock and the painted pheasant race,
And skulking foxes destin'd for the chase.
The estate of Euston is of considerable extent; its circumference is between thirty and forty miles: it includes a great number of villages and hamlets, over which the Duke presides with an attention nearly approaching to parental care.
Fakenham Wood, near Euston Hall, was the frequent resort of Mr. Austin and his family, at the time that Bloomfield was with him, on a Sunday afternoon, in the summer months. Here the farmer was wont to indulge his juniors with a stroll, to recreate them after the labours of the week; and this was the Poet's favourite haunt in his boyish days, whenever his numerous occupations left him sufficient leisure to muse on the beauties of nature.
Fakenham from Euston Park.
Then on she sped and hope grew strong,
The white park gate in view,
Which pushing hard, so long it swung,
That ghost and all pass'd through.
vide Fakenham Ghost.
The Temple in Euston Park.
Whose elevated Temple points the way
O'er sloopes and lawns the parks extensive pride
vide Farmer's Boy page 68
———points the way,
O'er slopes and lawns, the park's extensive pride!
Barnham Water is a small rivulet which crosses the road from Euston to Thetford: it is in the midst of a "bleak, unwooded scene,"' and justifies the Poet's lamentation in its full extent; for, after noticing the resting-place afforded by its shelving brink, and observing how the coolness of the current refreshed his weary feet on a sultry afternoon, he adds,
But every charm was incomplete,
For Barnham Water wants a shade.
In this neighbourhood are several Tumuli of various size: these, when considered in connexion with the purposes for which they were raised, become highly interesting. They have relation to the history of Thetford; and as this is glanced at in the poem on Barnham Water, we shall mention very briefly a few relative, and to our purpose requisite, circumstances.Thetford is a town of great antiquity, but has undergone considerable alterations at different periods, and at this time exhibits but little of its former greatness. It is supposed to have been of importance before the Roman invasion, and at that era it was probably situated entirely on the Suffolk side of the river Ouse, though it is now principally in Norfolk. The Romans strengthened and fortified this place for their own security: from them it passed to the Saxons, and afterwards to the Danes, who, in the year 871, under Inguar their leader, defeated and put to death Edmund, the last of the East-Anglian kings: they also destroyed the town, and massacred its inhabitants. The bodies of those who were slain in this dreadful and decisive conflict, were interred under the tumuli already mentioned. Castle Hill, and its appurtenances, which Bloomfield calls the Danish Mounds, were raised by the Danes
—— where of old rich abbeys smil'd
In all the pomp of gothic taste.
By fond tradition proudly styl'd
The mighty "City in the East."
The Danish Mounds of partial green,
Still, as each mouldering tower decays,
Far o'er the bleak unwooded scene,
Proclaim their wond'rous length of days.
On the Suffolk side of the Ouse is the ruin of another monastery, called The Place: this was founded by Uvius, first abbot of Bury, in the time of King Canute, in memory of the English and Danes that were slain in the great battle, in which Edmund the Saxon was defeated: it was originally a house of regular canons, but was afterwards rebuilt by Hugh, abbot of Bury, and inhabited by nuns. Great part of this structure still remains, and is at present in a more perfect state than any other of the monasteries at Thetford; but being now appropriated to the housing of corn, and other purposes, it is suffering continual mutilations, and perhaps the date of its entire destruction is not very remote.
Thetford, as we have already intimated, has been the scene of many remarkable transactions, the seat of much contention and bloodshed; for an account of which the curious are referred to Blomefield's History of Norfolk. The adjacent country affords no materials for description; and it was rather unfortunate that the poet's observations, as detailed in his "Barnham Water," should have been made in a situation where the beauties of nature are not predominant, a circumstance of which he seems perfectly aware:
Whatever hurts my Country's fame,
When wits and mountaineers deride,
To me grows serious, for I name
My native plains and streams with pride.