Picture of Paul Hentzner

Paul Hentzner

places mentioned

Departure: Canterbury and Dover

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We set out from London in a boat, and fell down the river, leaving Greenwich, which we have spoken of before, on the right hand.

Barking, a town in sight on the left.

Gravesend, a small town, famous for the convenience of its port; the largest Dutch ships usually call here. As we were to proceed farther from hence by water, we took our last leave here of the noble Bohemian David Strziela, and his tutor Tobias Salander, our constant fellow-travellers through France and England, they designing to return home through Holland, we on a second tour into France; but it pleased Heaven to put a stop to their design, for the worthy Strziela was seized with a diarrhoea a few days before our departure, and, as we afterwards learned by letters from Salander, died in a few days of a violent fever in London.

Queenborough: we left the castle on our right; a little farther we saw the fishing of oysters out of the sea, which are nowhere in greater plenty or perfection; witness Ortelius in his Epitome, &c.

Whitstable; here we went ashore.

Canterbury; we came to it on foot; this is the seat of the Archbishop, Primate of all England, a very ancient town, and, without doubt, of note in the time of the Romans.

Here are two monasteries almost contiguous, namely of Christ and St. Augustine, both of them once filled with Benedictine Monks: the former was afterwards dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket, the name of Christ being obliterated; it stands almost in the middle of the town, and with so much majesty lifts itself, and its two towers, to a stupendous height, that, as Erasmus says, it strikes even those who only see it at a distance with awe.

In the choir, which is shut up with iron rails, are the following monuments:—

King Henry IV., with his wife Joan of Navarre, of white marble.

Nicholas Wootton, Privy Counsellor to Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, Kings and Queens of England.

Of Prince Edward, Duke of Aquitaine and Cornwall, and Earl of Chester.

Reginald Pole, with this inscription:

"The remains of Reginald Pole, Cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury."

Cardinal Chatillon.

We were then shown the chair in which the bishops are placed when they are installed. In the vestibule of the church, on the south side, stand the statues of three men armed, cut in stone, who slew Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, made a saint for this martyrdom; their names are adjoined:—

Tusci, Fusci, Berri.18

Being tired with walking, we refreshed ourselves here with a mouthful of bread and some ale, and immediately mounted post-horses, and arrived about two or three o'clock in the morning at Dover. In our way to it, which was rough and dangerous enough, the following accident happened to us: our guide, or postillion, a youth, was before with two of our company, about the distance of a musketshot; we, by not following quick enough, had lost sight of our friends; we came afterwards to where the road divided; on the right it was downhill and marshy, on the left was a small hill: whilst we stopped here in doubt, and consulted which of the roads we should take, we saw all on a sudden on our right hand some horsemen, their stature, dress, and horses exactly resembling those of our friends; glad of having found them again, we determined to set on after them; but it happened, through God's mercy, that though we called to them, they did not answer us, but kept on down the marshy road at such a rate, that their horses' feet struck fire at every stretch, which made us, with reason, begin to suspect they were thieves, having had warning of such; or rather, that they were nocturnal spectres, who, as we were afterwards told, are frequently seen in those places: there were likewise a great many Jack-a-lanterns, so that we were quite seized with horror and amazement! But, fortunately for us, our guide soon after sounded his horn, and we, following the noise, turned down the left-hand road, and arrived safe to our companions; who, when we had asked them if they had not seen the horsemen who had gone by us, answered, not a soul. Our opinions, according to custom, were various upon this matter; but whatever the thing was, we were, without doubt, in imminent danger, from which that we escaped, the glory is to be ascribed to God alone.

Dover, situated among cliffs (standing where the port itself was originally, as may be gathered from anchors and parts of vessels dug up there), is more famous for the convenience of its port, which indeed is now much decayed, and its passage to France, than for either its elegance or populousness: this passage, the most used and the shortest, is of thirty miles, which, with a favourable wind, may be run over in five or six hours' time, as we ourselves experienced; some reckon it only eighteen to Calais, and to Boulogne sixteen English miles, which, as Ortelius says in his "Theatrum," are longer than the Italian.

Here was a church dedicated to St. Martin by Victred, King of Kent, and a house belonging to the Knights Templars; of either there are now no remains. It is the seat of a suffragan to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, when the Archbishop is employed upon business of more consequence, manages the ordinary affairs, but does not interfere with the archiepiscopal jurisdiction. Upon a hill, or rather rock, which on its right side is almost everywhere a precipice, a very extensive castle rises to a surprising height, in size like a little city, extremely well fortified, and thick-set with towers, and seems to threaten the sea beneath. Matthew Paris calls it the door and key of England; the ordinary people have taken into their heads that it was built by Julius Caesar; it is likely it might by the Romans, from those British bricks in the chapel which they made use of in their foundations. See Camden's "Britannia ."

After we had dined, we took leave of England.

18 This is another most inaccurate account: the murderers of Becket were Tracy, Morville, Britton, and Fitzurse.

Paul Hentzner, Travels in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (London: Cassell, 1892)

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