Rochester, adjoining as it does the busy dockyard town and seaport of 오피사이트 Chatham, is not one of the slumberous examples among cathedral cities, for its [227] narrow and, if truth be told, dirty streets are crowded with the waggons and carts going to and from railways and wharves. The “Bull Inn” still remains very much what it was when Jingle recommended it to the Pickwickians.

The “Bull” itself is exactly hit off in Dickens’ description of it, and in the hall the “illustrious larder with glass door, developing cold fowls and noble joints, and tarts wherein the raspberry jam coyly withdraws itself, as such a precious creature should, behind a lattice-wall of pastry,” still develops good things for a later generation. A latter-day stupidity had changed the name to the “Victoria and Bull,” but this has been remedied recently, and it is the “Bull” once more.

Other things noticed by Dickens in Rochester are much the same. He calls the projecting clock of the Corn Exchange the “moon-faced” clock. It still impends over the pavement, and its white dial does indeed suggest the moon. But exquisitely exact is that other description in the “Seven Poor Travellers,” where he speaks of the High Street “oddly garnished with a queer old clock that projects over the pavement out of a grave red building, as if Time carried on business there and hung out his sign.” Also, although restorations have since taken place in the darkling cathedral, no description of it, even now, matches that concise and breathless commentary the novelist puts into Jingle’s mouth: "Old Cathedral, too—earthy smell—pilgrims’ feet worn away the old steps—little Saxon doors—Confessionals like money-takers’ boxes at theatres—queer customers, those monks—Popes and Lord[228] Treasurers, and all sorts of old fellows with great red faces and broken noses, turning up every day.”

You enter the Close directly from the High Street, beside or through what all readers of Edwin Drood know as “Jasper’s Gatehouse,” although the real name of it is “Chertsey’s.” The old church of St. Nicholas, patron saint of fishermen and thieves, who (the thieves, not the fishermen) were from that circumstance known as “St Nicholas’ Clerks,” stands side by side with the cathedral, and opposite is the churchyard. It is well known that Dickens’ own wish was to be buried here, but a national desire that he should rest in Westminster Abbey prevailed. This was recalled to the present writer’s recollection by a stranger when recently at Rochester. “He wanted to be buried there,” said the stranger, pointing with his walking-stick. “’Twould have done Rochester a lot of good,” he added regretfully. “You see, he’s wasted where he is; but if he was here, thousands more visitors would come,” and he went away grumbling.

One of the chief Dickens landmarks here is, of course, the place he calls the “Seven Poor Travellers.” This is the charity founded by Richard Watts, in 1579, for the entertaining of “Six Poor Travellers, who, not being Rogues or Proctors, may receive, gratis, for one night, Lodging, Entertainment, and Fourpence each.”

But the old city of Rochester requires, at least, a day for its due exploration, and so we will not linger now by cathedral, castle, or waterside; but, turning sharply to the left, on returning towards Rochester Bridge, steer[229] for Borstal; not by any means because Borstal is beautiful, because that is probably the very last thing anyone would think of saying about this place of mean streets that intercept with their dingy commonplace the beautiful views along the broad valley of the noble Medway. Then, as though this were not sufficient, there is a very grim prison at Borstal—or was, for it has now been converted into a reformatory; and then, again, a number of riverside cement works, to be succeeded at Wouldham by more of the same kind, and, finally, by brick-kilns at Burham. Why, therefore (asks the reader), do we come this way? For reasons of various sorts: because, despite all these disadvantages, the views, as we cycle along with the broad bosom of the Medway spread in front for miles and miles, bearing the rust-red sails of the floundering deliberate barges, are invisible elsewhere, and because the more rural road, by Kit’s Coty House, is an exceedingly hilly one. Notice in the churchyard of Wouldham the tombstone of Burke, the purser of the Victory, for “in his arms,” as the inscription states, “the immortal Nelson died.”

Passing through Burham, take the road to the right leading down into Aylesford, where the Medway narrows and is tamely conducted under the fine old bridge and through a lock, just as though it were a tiny river and unconnected with the imposing estuary just left behind. The grouping of river, bridge, square church tower among the trees, and the long row of gabled houses beneath is particularly charming. When you have taken your fill of this characteristic Kentish scene, proceed along the road leading from the bridge,[230] and, taking the right-hand turning, come to the broad highway that leads to Wrotham Heath and Borough Green, a road that follows in part the valley of one of the Medway’s affluents. Interesting villages lie on either side, only slightly removed from the road, in particular that of Leybourne, half a mile on the right hand. It derives its name from the little stream just named, the Ley Bourne, originally the Lele or Little Bourne. It is curious to observe that your true Kentish man, among such odd enunciations as “d” for “th” (so that the definite article “the” becomes “de”) still says “lil” for “little,” as the tourist may discover. There are interesting remains of Leybourne Castle yet to be seen by turning off the road to the right, and so to the park in which they stand. But the long day closes, and we must not linger on the way; and so, speeding on to Wrotham Heath and turning there to the left, we make for the L. C. & D. R. station of Wrotham and Borough Green.
The borders of Middlesex and Hertfordshire are as yet unspoiled, and still keep their country lanes and old-world villages in very much their original condition. This is chiefly owing, of course, to the lack of good local railway accommodation; and since these uplands in the bracing marches of those two counties are thus left in the most rural and “unimproved” state, we may, from the tourist’s point of view, hope that railway enterprise may for long years yet to come lie dormant and keep the cheap builder away.

In the first instance, however, we must needs be beholden to the Great Eastern Railway for conveying self and cycle to our starting-point, Waltham Station, twelve miles from town. Arrived there, the near neighbourhood of Waltham Abbey tempts us three-quarters of a mile across the river Lea into Essex; for the great Abbey, now the parish church of the town of the same name that has sprung up around it in the lapse of centuries, is a place of pilgrimage. Harold’s body was translated here from Battle, and although all trace of his resting-place is lost, save the traditional spot in the meadow by “Harold’s Bridge,” the Abbey is peculiarly associated with him. The[232] massive tower shows up singularly white above the many old and picturesque houses that converge in narrow streets upon it; and the brimming Lea, like Denham’s description of the Thames—

“Without o’erflowing, full,”

goes in the prettiest of perspectives across the fields, making, with the wayside alders, the old-fashioned canal-locks, and the many water-channels that everywhere abound, pictures for sketcher or photographer. As for colour, notice that remarkably old-world square of bowed and bent, nodding and decrepit houses called the “Cattle Market.” Rarely, indeed, does the painter find so exquisite a tone as that of these ancient red brick buildings.
But it will not do to linger at Waltham Abbey, however great the inclination may be to do so. So we retrace our course, and passing the station again, come to Waltham Cross, where the Eleanor Cross, tinkered by restorers, but still lovely, stands in midst of the road[233] beside the old “Four Swans,” whose sign, straddling across the highway, bears the wooden effigies of those fowls. Turning to the right at this point, and wheeling through the village of Waltham Cross, a railway bridge spans the road, and the supremely ugly new station of “Theobalds Grove” appears. Just beyond this, on the left-hand side, is a turning which, leading off as it does through gates, looks like a private road into a park. A park, indeed, it is—that of Theobalds—but there is a right of way. And it is a most beautiful road, or rather lane, with the best of gravel surface to cycle along, and the most gracious of foliage overhead. Half a mile of this, and then comes the most delightful of surprises; nothing less, indeed, than that dear friend of olden days in London City—Temple Bar.

The story of Wren’s beautiful, but inconvenient, entrance to the City of London is a romantic one. Long used as a Golgotha on whose topmost cornice to display the heads of decapitated traitors, it remained at the Fleet Street entrance to London until the increasing traffic necessitated its removal in 1877. The stones were all numbered and stored away in the City stone-yard for some eight years, and meanwhile the City authorities offered them as a gift to several persons or public bodies, without finding anyone to accept the gift. The Benchers of the Temple, who had the opportunity of securing the relic for one of their quiet courts, incredible though it may seem, refused it; but at last the old Bar was accepted by Sir Henry Meux, and re-erected here as an entrance lodge. It is the old familiar Temple Bar, cleaner than of yore, and more easily studied in this quiet spot than of old, in the roaring traffic of Fleet Street; but that it should thus be banished from its native London and be in private ownership seems pitiful. Why not, in these days when it has been proposed to restore the Elgin marbles to Athens—why not agitate for its restitution and re-erection in some quiet City lane?

And now for Gough’s Oak. There are more ways than one of reaching Goff’s (or Gough’s) Oak from here. Let us take the turning to the left, and, avoiding a further turn in the same direction, go by Love Grove, along a series of country lanes. The original Gough was Sir Theodore Godfrey, who “came over with the Conqueror,” as the musty old phrase goes; and on what used to be Cheshunt Common he planted the[235] still existing tree, which fully bears out Dryden’s lines—

“The Monarch Oak, the Patriarch of the Trees.
Shoots rising up, and spreads by slow degrees;
Three centuries he grows, and three he stays
Supreme in state, and in three more decays.”
It may flourish for another hundred years if it is only left alone, although the giant trunk is quite hollow and full of holes, so that it is hooped and banded round like a barrel to keep it together. The hamlet that takes its name from this venerable relic is a thoroughly rural one of farms and dairies, and quite off the beaten tourist track.