What to See in England
By Gordon Home

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Public Domain Books

The Isle of Athelney, and Sedgemoor


=How to get there.=–Train from Paddington. Great Western Rly. =Nearest Station.=–Athelney. =Distance from London.=–150-1/2 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 4-1/2 to 5-3/4 hours.

                     1st       2nd       3rd
=Fares.=–Single  26s. 8d.  16s. 8d.  13s. 4d.
          Return  53s. 4d.  33s. 4d.  26s. 8d.

=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Railway Hotel.”

The Isle of Athelney, the hiding-place of Alfred the Great, at the time when the fortunes of England lay trembling in the balance, is a slightly elevated plot of land where the river Parret joins the Tone. In Alfred’s days it was a small island surrounded by an impenetrable morass, and thickly grown with alders. Here tradition places the hut in which the king, deep in thought, allowed the good wife’s cakes to burn. Soon a little band of faithful followers joined Alfred, and together they built a causeway over the marshes, eventually constructing a fort from which successful sallies were made against the Danes in the vicinity. The rally of the Saxons round their intrepid king resulted in the victory of Ethandune, and out of gratitude for his success, Alfred built on the island an abbey, of which a few relics, including the famous Alfred Jewel, remain to-day. A monument erected by Mr. John Slade marks the spot.

A mile to the north is Boroughbridge with its solitary hill, on which many believe that Alfred built his chief fort. The hill is now crowned by the ruins of St. Michael’s Church, St. Michael being the saint whose name is associated with most of our hill-top shrines. Ling, the next village, is thought to be a corruption of Atheling.

Athelney is on the edge of the flat valley of Sedgemoor, the scene of Monmouth’s defeat in 1685. The royal troops were quartered in the villages of Weston Zoyland, Middlezoy, and Chedzoy, their headquarters being Weston Zoyland, round which the battle raged most fiercely. Knowing the carelessness that prevailed in the royal camp, Monmouth attempted a night attack. On Sunday night, July 5, therefore, his troops stole out. But they were foiled and trapped by the broad ditches called “rhines,” in which they lost their way in a helpless fashion, and a pistol that went off in the confusion roused the Royalists, with the result that Monmouth’s followers were hopelessly routed, a thousand being slain.

[Illustration: THE “ISLAND” OF ATHELNEY.

The Alfred memorial is in the foreground, and in the distance is the “Mump,” the lonely hill surmounted by the ruined church of Boroughbridge.]


Preface  •  Ham House and Petersham  •  Walton-On-Thames (scold’s Bridle)  •  Harrow  •  Holwood House, Keston  •  Chigwell, Essex  •  Waltham Abbey and Cross  •  Downe  •  Epsom: Its Races and Its Salts  •  Epping Forest  •  Hampton Court  •  Rye House, Broxbourne  •  Hatfield House, Herts  •  Runnymead, the Signing of Magna Charta  •  The Oldest Brass in England  •  St. Albans  •  Stoke Poges Church, Bucks  •  Windsor  •  Jordans and William Penn  •  Knole House and Sevenoaks  •  Greenstead Church  •  Chalfont St. Giles  •  Westerham  •  Guildford, Surrey  •  Gad’s Hill  •  Ightham Mote, Kent  •  Penshurst  •  St. Michael’s Mount and Marazion  •  Rochester Cathedral  •  Tunbridge Wells  •  The Quintain Post At Offham and Malling Abbey  •  Eversley  •  Farnham, Surrey  •  Hindhead, Surrey  •  Shottermill  •  Penn’s Chapel At Thakeham, Sussex  •  Chawton the Home of Jane Austen  •  Selborne  •  Elstow  •  Lewes, Sussex  •  Bodiam Castle, Sussex  •  Colchester, Essex  •  Layer Marney  •  Battle Abbey  •  Cambridge  •  Arundel Castle  •  Olney, Bucks  •  Wantage and the Country of Alfred the Great  •  Canterbury and Its Cathedral  •  Reculvers  •  Oxford  •  Midhurst  •  Pevensey Castle  •  Savernake Forest  •  Ely Cathedral  •  St. Ives, Huntingdonshire  •  Winchelsea and Rye  •  Blenheim Palace  •  Peterborough Cathedral and Crowland  •  Peterborough  •  Southampton  •  Helmingham Hall  •  Stonehenge, Wiltshire  •  Netley Abbey  •  Salisbury and Its Cathedral  •  Sandwich, Kent  •  New Forest, Hampshire  •  Osborne House  •  Carisbrooke Castle  •  Lutterworth  •  Compton Wynyates  •  Kenilworth Castle  •  Belvoir Castle  •  Bath  •  Boston and the Pilgrim Fathers  •  Warwick  •  Gloucester and Its Cathedral  •  Norfolk Broads  •  Norwich Cathedral  •  Lichfield  •  Sherborne and Its Abbey Church  •  Newark  •  Wells and Its Cathedral  •  Stratford-On-Avon  •  Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk  •  Lulworth Cove, Dorsetshire  •  Corfe Castle  •  Lincoln and Its Cathedral  •  Somerset, the Birthplace of Tennyson  •  Glastonbury Abbey  •  Walsingham, Norfolk  •  Cheddar Caves, Cheddar, Somerset  •  Newstead Abbey  •  The Wessex of Thomas Hardy’s Romances  •  Tintern Abbey  •  Chesterfield, Derbyshire  •  Dukeries  •  Haddon Hall, Derbyshire  •  The Isle of Athelney, and Sedgemoor  •  Raglan Castle  •  Dovedale  •  Wellington and the Wrekin, Shropshire  •  Wroxeter and the Roman City of Uriconium, Salop  •  Buildwas Abbey, Shropshire  •  Ludlow and Its Castle  •  Shrewsbury  •  Buxton and the Peak District  •  Tewkesbury  •  Exeter and Its Cathedral  •  Market Drayton, Salop  •  Chester  •  Exmoor  •  Knutsford  •  Torr Steps On the Barle, Somerset  •  Cleeve Abbey, Somerset  •  Hawarden  •  York Minster  •  Coxwold, Yorkshire  •  Llangollen and Valle Crucis Abbey  •  Knaresborough, Dripping Well  •  Fountains Abbey  •  Ripon Cathedral  •  Dartmoor  •  Haworth  •  Rievaulx Abbey  •  Brixham, Devon  •  Conway Castle  •  The Doone Valley, Exmoor  •  Llandovery, South Wales  •  Dartmouth, Devon  •  Richmond, Yorkshire  •  Tintagel  •  Whitby  •  Carnarvon Castle  •  Plymouth  •  Durham and Its Cathedral  •  Raby Castle, Durham  •  Snowdon  •  Harlech Castle  •  Grasmere and Rydal Mount  •  The Lake District  •  St. Davids Cathedral  •  Furness Abbey, Lancashire  •  Monkwearmouth, Near Jarrow  •  The Isle of Man  •  Brantwood  •  Fowey  •  Hexham and Hadrian’s Wall  •  The Lake District  •  Keswick  •  Alnwick Castle  •  Lanercost Priory, Cumberland  •  Lanercost Priory and Stepping-Stones.]  •  St. Ives, Cornwall  •  Bamborough Castle, Northumberland

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What to see in England;: A guide to places of historic interest, natural beauty or literary association,
By Gordon Home
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