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great rapidity; and when in pursuit of their food, which consists mostly of small fishes, if five or six Golden Eyes are together, they do not dive all at once, but some remain as sentinels, and keep a good look out to prevent being surprised by an enemy. There is more white in the plumage of those birds than in that of the Tufted Duck. Their eyes are golden yellow, hence their name. They are about the same size as the Wigeon. The flesh of the Golden Eye, from it's feeding so much on fish, is not thought very good for the table, whilst that of the Tufted Duck is generally excellent.
Before taking leave of our water birds, two more may be mentioned for the sake of some curious circumstances belonging to them, which may not be known to those who only see them occasionally. The first is the Moor-hen, or Water-hen as it is also called. This last name is used by Dr. William Turner, who wrote on British Birds, 300 years ago. Moor-hens are found on ponds covered with water plants, on old water courses, and among the rushes, reeds, and willows of slow rivers. They are good swimmers and divers, for though not web-footed like ducks, their toes are furnished with a membrane, or tough skin, which expands in the water, and greatly assists them there. At the same time they can move about equally well on land, and can take short flights, and even perch on trees if they please, but unless alarmed, they seem unwilling to take wing.
On approaching their haunts we see them scud across the water to their hiding places, as if their feet were borne up by the weeds, instead of finding it necessary to swim in the ordinary way. They make their nests on the ground, as close as may be to the water, of dry grass, reeds, and rushes, and lay 6 or 7 eggs, which are hatched in 3 weeks. A Moor-hen's nest has been seen, resting upon the surface of a pond, quite detached from the shore, but enclosed on all sides by sticks and rushes; thus placed, the careful parents hatched their eggs in perfect safety.
No sooner does the young Moor-hen leave the egg-shell, than it takes directly to the water, and in a very short time can take care of itself, and leave the mother bird at liberty to rear a second brood in the same season.
Another bird larger than the Moor-hen, but in most respects of very similar habits, is the common Coot, also called the Bald Coot from a white patch on the top of its head. Coots have been shot in this Parish, and may probably still be seen at times, about the quieter parts of the Loddon, or on Coleman's Moor, or other places where Moor-hens are numerous. I am not able to say whether they breed in this neighbourhood or not, but where their nests are found they are said to be very strongly built, quite close to water, and to contain from 7 to 10 eggs.
Coots are armed with very strong, sharp pointed claws, to which circumstance Col. Hawker refers, in his "Instructions to young Sportsmen," when he says "Beware of a winged Coot, or he will scratch you like a Cat." They are said to be apt to attack tame Swans, and even to injure them fatally with these claws.
To be continued.
MEMORIALS OF THE PARISH OF SONNING.
I must begin by correcting a word in our last number. In translating the deed of the Dean of Sarum, conferring the site for the Vicarage, we conjectured the word "Pastoris," Shepherd, for "Passoris," not being aware that the latter is the old form of a low Latin word, "Passatoris." In a Law Dictionary I find that Passator is, "he that hath the interest or command of the passage of a river, or the lord to whom a duty is paid for passage." We ought to read therefore "On the South even to the parcel of Elias, the Ferryman.” There may have been a bridge as early as this, but the deed seems rather to imply that there was a public ferry or passage boat, of which this Elias had the charge.
We proceed now with our history, and though there is no such remarkable circumstance to record this time as the visit of a King of England to our Parish, we can still bring forward an event of great importance, worthy of the heroic days of Sonning, and one of which we have more reason to be proud, considering the character of the Sovereign who honoured us with his presence. In the year 1284, Robert de Wickhampton, Bishop of Salisbury, died, and Walter Scammel, then Dean of Salisbury, was appointed to succeed him. He had been Dean for ten years, and during that time resided, as I conclude, part of each year at Sonning, where was a Deanery House on the rising ground North of the Church-yard, still known as the Deanery Garden. This house, or one which succeeded it, as I shall have occasion to mention hereafter, was in existence till the beginning of the present century.
That Walter Scammel lived and was known here, I gather from the fact that his consecration as Bishop took place in our Church. Such an event in a Parish Church was most unusual. There are records of the consecration of Bishops occasionally in Reading Abbey, and in other Abbey Churches, but I believe so great a ceremony was then, as now, seldom performed except in Cathedrals and Abbeys, or the Archbishop's private Chapel. The Bishop of Salisbury's Consecration at Sonning shows his attachment to the place, and his desire that the parishioners with whom he was so closely connected as Rector should participate in the honours of his elevation, but it shows also the importance of Sonning itself, and the magnitude of its Church, to have been considered capable of being used for so grand a Service. There is something very pleasant in the thought of the affectionate relation which must have subsisted between Bishop Scammel and the inhabitants of Sonning, making him prefer a comparatively quiet consecration among his own people, to the magnificent ceremonial of Canterbury Cathedral, where as I see, his immediate successors were consecrated, and it must have been a great concession on the part of the Archbishop of the day, John Peckham, to have held such a service in a country Church, the more so as, in the language of Dean Hook, “he was a pompous little man, both in his gait, and in his manner of expressing himself.”
There seems to have been some opposition to the Bishop's consecration. A protest or appeal of the Prior and Chapter of Christ
Church, Canterbury, "against the election of Walter Scammel, elect of the Church of Sarum," was made in October, 1284, that, is immediately before his consecration, for this took place October 22nd, in that year. There is nothing stated as to the ground of the protest, but the Chapter of Canterbury were very tenacious of their rights and privileges, and I suppose there must have been some slight invasion of them; very likely the appeal was against the consecration taking place at Sonning, instead of in the Metropolitian Cathedral. However this may be, the protest was disregarded and the consecration took place as just stated. Unfortunately, and unaccountably, there is no record of it in the Register of Archbishop Peckham, preserved in Lambeth Palace Library. There is a notice in August, 1284, when Scammel received the temporalities, of the citation of Bishops, (the names not given) for the consecration of the Bishop elect of Sarum, but not a word as to the event itself. There is however no doubt of the fact, as it is distinctly mentioned in two or three contemporary Chronicles, and duly recorded by Professor Stubbs, in his learned work, "the Episcopal Succession in England." One extract will suffice for our purpose. The "Chronicon Thomæ Wikes," or "Chronicon Salisburiensis Monasterii," states, "The day after the feast of S. George, died Robert de Wickham, Bishop of Salisbury. There was elected in his place Master Walter Scamol, Dean of the same Church. He was consecrated in his own Manor of Sonning, by the Lord John Archbishop of Canterbury, on the Sunday next after the Festival of S. Luke the Evangelist, namely October 22, 1284." The Annals of the Abbey of Waverley give almost exactly the same account, and the Chronicle of the Priory of Dunstable says that the Archbishop consecrated Walter Scammel "in a certain Manor belonging to the Bishop, near Radingges." *
Archbishop Peckham, who was our chief guest upon this great occasion, had been a Franciscan Friar, and was appointed Archbishop, 1279, in the reign of Edward Ist. He continued to call himself Friar John, and affected much humility, though he was a somewhat harsh and strict disciplinarian ; he was diligent in holding visitations, and one of his synods was held at Reading. He died in 1292, and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, where his monument in the North Transept, a recumbent effigy under a richly sculptured canopy, still remains, one of the most chaste and beautiful of the medieval tombs. I much regret that in consequence of the omission of the consecration in the Archbishop's Register, we do not know the names of the assisting Bishops, who came here for the ceremony, the other Chroniclers only thinking it necessary to mention the presence of the Archbishop himself. The scene of the consecration must have been most imposing. There was I have no doubt a fine service when King John went in state to our Church more than 60 years before, as we conclude he did, but the ceremonial at the consecration of a Bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in full pontificals, with several other Bishops, in the very greatest days of the Church's wealth and power, must have been far grander. The Archbishop, as was his wont, would have preached and chanted the service him
* I am indebted for information on this and other matters to my brother, the Rev. W. Henley Jervis, Author of "the History of the Gallican Church," who has kindly aided me by his researches in the British Museum and Lambeth Palace.
self. It must have been the greatest service ever held in our Church; of course the Mitred Abbot of Reading was present, and crowds must have flocked from all parts to witness the spectacle. I grieve to think that there is no part of our present Church except the same Norman doorway under which King John entered, that was in existence in the time of the splendid pageant of Bishop Scammel's consecration. The consecration of a Bishop in Westminster Abbey, or Canterbury Cathedral, is still a most impressive and stately service, but for magnificence it can bear no comparison with the ancient ceremonial, such as we can imagine it from the description of the old Chroniclers, who delight to dwell on the gorgeous vestments, and superb processions, and sumptuous pomp of the medieval ritual. How little can we picture in our quiet days, such a scene as Sonning must have presented, overflowing with this concourse of great personages, including the highest subject of the realm, the Primate of all England, who moved about in almost royal state, with an immense train of lay and clerical retainers, numbering from fifty to a hundred horsemen, accompanied by hawks and hounds. It is difficult to conceive how they were all lodged, but both the Palace and the Deanery would of course have kept open house.
Bishop Scammel enjoyed his dignity only two years. He died October 25, 1286; there is no mention of the place of his burial. The only other notice that I can find about him is that he left some Manuscripts to the Library of Salisbury Cathedral, showing that he was a man of literary taste and accomplishments.
Oct. 26th. Alfred George, son of George and Jane Mary Grover. Nov. 23rd. Kenneth Edgar, son of William Stephen and Martha Willmott.
Ernest Ross, son of Thomas and Amelia Willmott.
Nov. 9th. Thomas, son of Thomas and Hannah White. Ethel Mary, daughter of William & Elizabeth Ann Foster. ST. JOHN'S, WOODLEY—
George Stanley Wynne, son of Joseph & Annie Ritson.
Oct. 28th, At the Parish Church, Isaac Edwards, of Mortimer, to Ann Gundry, of Sonning.
Nov. 16th. Maria Heaver, of Dunsden, aged 78.
Sarah Webb, of Dunsden, aged 83.
ST. JOHN'S, WOODLEY
Nov. 1st. John Manners, of Woodley, aged 78.