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From London to Land's End Daniel Defoe

From London to Land's End

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But this happy circumstance, which so distinguished Alresford from all her neighbours, was brought to an end in the year -, when by a sudden and surprising fire the whole town, with both the church and the market-house, was reduced to a heap of rubbish; and, except a few poor huts at the remotest ends of the town, not a house left standing. The town is since that very handsomely rebuilt, and the neighbouring gentlemen contributed largely to the relief of the people, especially by sending in timber towards their building; also their market-house is handsomely built, but the church not yet, though we hear there is a fund raising likewise for that.

Here is a very large pond, or lake of water, kept up to a head by a strong BATTER D'EAU, or dam, which the people tell us was made by the Romans; and that it is to this day part of the great Roman highway which leads from Winchester to Alton, and, as it is supposed, went on to London, though we nowhere see any remains of it, except between Winchester and Alton, and chiefly between this town and Alton.

Near this town, a little north-west, the Duke of Bolton has another seat, which, though not large, is a very handsome beautiful palace, and the gardens not only very exact, but very finely situate, the prospect and vistas noble and great, and the whole very well kept.

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From hence, at the end of seven miles over the Downs, we come to the very ancient city of Winchester; not only the great church (which is so famous all over Europe, and has been so much talked of), but even the whole city has at a distance the face of venerable, and looks ancient afar off; and yet here are many modern buildings too, and some very handsome; as the college schools, with the bishop's palace, built by Bishop Morley since the late wars-- the old palace of the bishop having been ruined by that known church incendiary Sir William Waller and his crew of plunderers, who, if my information is not wrong, as I believe it is not, destroyed more monuments of the dead, and defaced more churches, than all the Roundheads in England beside.

This church, and the schools also are accurately described by several writers, especially by the "Monasticon," where their antiquity and original is fully set forth. The outside of the church is as plain and coarse as if the founders had abhorred ornaments, or that William of Wickham had been a Quaker, or at least a Quietist. There is neither statue, nor a niche for a statue, to be seen on all the outside; no carved work, no spires, towers, pinnacles, balustrades, or anything; but mere walls, buttresses, windows, and coigns necessary to the support and order of the building. It has no steeple, but a short tower covered flat, as if the top of it had fallen down, and it had been covered in haste to keep the rain out till they had time to build it up again.

But the inside of the church has many very good things in it, and worth observation; it was for some ages the burying-place of the English Saxon kings, whose RELIQUES, at the repair of the church, were collected by Bishop Fox, and being put together into large wooden chests lined with lead were again interred at the foot of the great wall in the choir, three on one side, and three on the other, with an account whose bones are in each chest. Whether the division of the RELIQUES might be depended upon, has been doubted, but is not thought material, so that we do but believe they are all there.

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From London to Land's End
Daniel Defoe

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