OSWALD, after the brilliant victory over Cadwallon, at Heavenfeld, under the standard of the Cross, determined to establish Christianity in Northumbria and appealed to Iona for help in 635. Aidan was asked to choose the seat of his Bishopric. Already he had made acquaintance with Bernicia, the northern part of Northumbria, having, with Oswald as his interpreter, taught the Gospel there. It stretched from the Tees to the Firth of Forth. Deira, the southern part of the Kingdom, had embraced Roman Christianity and was ecclesiastically ruled from York. Aidan was a man of the ancient apostolic type, who took no thought of earthly rank or riches, but who believed with deep enthusiasm in that eternal Treasure which is found where neither the moth nor the rust doth corrupt. We must try to look through his eyes to understand why his choice lighted upon Lindisfarne. Probably the greatest consideration was that it reminded him of Iona. A modern writer has described the latter in words that might almost be applied to Holy Island :
It is but a small isle, fashioned of a little sand, a few grasses salt with the spray of an ever-restless wave, a few rocks that wade in heather and upon whose brow the sea-wind weaves the yellow lichen. But since the remotest days sacrosanct men have lived here in worship. In this little isle a lamp was lit whose flame lighted Pagan Europe.”
In Lindisfarne the evangelist monk beheld a new Iona like the old one, but with one or two different and remarkable features. It lay closer to the mainland, from which it is divided by a tract of flat sand that the flowing tide conceals and the ebb lays bare twice every day, an occurrence first described by the Venerable Bede and afterwards by nearly all subsequent writers who in prose or verse have recorded their impressions of the famous isle. Aidan must also have seen a great bare hump of basaltic rock that formed a centre round which the rest of the island landscape is naturally grouped.
There was more to see. We can imagine the young Bishop climbing this bare crag – it is that on which the castle now stands – and gazing at the objects which interested him as he listened to the water sobbing among the rocks or watched it flowing over the sands. On the friendly shore within an hour’s sail rose the Royal vill of Bamburgh, not as we know it, but as it was built by Ida and dwelt in by Oswald. Further off were the Farnes, dark and, according to the belief of the time, devil-haunted rocks rising ominously from a dangerous sea. The monk of that period was convinced that the way to Heaven lay through self-imposed penances. For such austerities Nature might have purposely brought forth these bleak and melancholy isles.
In this spirit the See of Lindisfarne was founded, and with little essential change it existed for two centuries and a half. Were it possible to form a picture of the primitive church built upon the island, it would help us to realise the life of that early monastery. No vestige of it remains to-day, but from chance hints and allusions it is known to have been first built of wood and roofed with thatch, made most likely of the reeds that still grow plentifully in the island mere. As preachers of the Word the early monks of Lindisfarne soon became famous, and great crowds came across the sands to hear them. They were also active missionaries. Boisil, from Iona, had founded the monastery of Mailros, or Old Melrose, very shortly after Aidan’s establishment.
There were in all sixteen Bishops of Lindisfarne, and of these the most famous was Cuthbert. He was a shepherd boy on the Lammermoors when Aidan died, and the Venerable Bede says that on that night he saw stars falling. ” Behold a servant of the Lord ! ” exclaimed Boisil when the comely ” herd laddie,” spear in hand, rode up to the monastery door of Melrose. In those lawless times even the godly dared not go unarmed. Comely in appearance, thoughtful in habit, and of an inborn piety, Cuthbert soon attracted the notice of great ecclesiastics. Joining the monastery of Melrose, he received the tonsure from Eata, and quickly surpassed the other monks in prayer and labour, reading and discipline. He subsequently accompanied Eata to Ripon, at which King Alchfrith had built a monastery. This was when the great struggle was taking place between the Celtic and the Romish parties. At the time of Eata’s appointment, King Alchfrith was on the side of the Irish missionaries ; but under the influence of his mother, Eanflea, he passed to the side of the Romans and made Wilfrith Abbot of Ripon. In consequence, Cuthbert and the other Melrose monks were driven out. He returned to his old home at Melrose, and, after recovery from an attack of plague, gave himself to preaching the Gospel, visiting places so wide apart as Coldingham and Nithsdale, and everywhere making converts and winning renown as an eloquent and persuasive preacher. The struggle between the Romish and the Celtic monks was brought to a close by the victory of the former in the decision of the Synod held at Whitby in 664, and Cuthbert obediently followed his leaders. Eata, now Abbot of Lindisfarne, made him prior in order that he might teach the Romish usages to those monks who still persisted in following those taught at Iona. It was a great step upward when the erstwhile shepherd lad was made prior ; but humility was of the very essence of the man. He continued to wear the simple garment, made of undyed wool, which was that of the ordinary brother, and in chapter was distinguished for the sweetness of disposition with which he subdued the wrangling that was ever breaking out between the new school and the old. For twelve years he seems to have shared fully in the activities of the monastery, which continued to send forth preachers and teachers to the wild places of Northumberland, while many individuals, as we shall see, kept alive the tradition of art and beauty which they had acquired with their Celtic origin by way of Iona. No doubt a worthy fane had been reared for worship ; we hear incidentally of vessels of silver and gold, of treasure accumulated through the offerings of the faithful, and there is visible proof that among the monks were artists skilled to produce the beautiful. At first he shut himself in a natural hermitage which tradition associates with a cave at Howburn, near Lowick, and then, as if his hope of ultimate glory depended on intensifying his suffering, he, as Aidan had done, turned his eye on Farne, the name island of the Farne group, which is now identified with House Island. A reference to it by Hutchinson, who wrote in 1776, is worth quoting as an expression of the older view of such scenery : ” He built a cell with a small oratory and surrounded it with a wall which cut off the view of every object but heaven. He could not have chosen a place better adapted to a life of mortification and severity than this island : the ancient description of it is horrible, seated near a stormy coast surrounded by rocks over which the sea breaks incessantly with great tumult, destitute of fresh water, without tree for shelter or fruit-bearing shrub, or wherewithal to sustain human life ; and worse than all, said to be possessed of devils.” On a rocky slope Cuthbert built his cell. Outside it was about the height of a man, but inside it was so hollowed out that through the single window only the sky could be seen. Here for nine years Cuthbert lived the anchorite’s life, and though the King came in person, accompanied by Archbishop Truman and many powerful followers, lay and ecclesiastical, and begged him on Eata’s transference to Hexham to accept the See of Lindisfarne, he yielded with the greatest reluctance. But they insisted, for the report of his holiness and miraculous power had now spread over Christendom, and with the due ritual and solemn pageantry of the Church he was consecrated at York. The event was treated with the importance now reserved for a coronation. King Eagfrith himself was present. The archbishop was assisted by seven other bishops in the performance of the ceremony. But Cuthbert knew it impossible that he should hold the office long; sickness and self-mortification were bringing him close up to the Great Shadow. Two years after-wards he was departing from Lindisfarne to the Farne. A monk asked when he would return. ” When you bring my body hither,” he replied.
The body of Cuthbert was taken from the Farne, where he died, to Lindisfarne and laid in the Church of St. Peter in a stone coffin. This church must have been architecturally a great advance on its primitive predecessors. The wealth of the monastery had already begun to accumulate, and we hear of great possessions in silver and gold.
The history of the body was stranger than that of the living man. In those early times reverence for the dead, especially the holy dead, was carried to its utmost limit, and the bones of the saint, resting in their stone sepulchre, were the proudest possession of the monks. They did not leave them very long undisturbed. After nine years, on the anniversary of his burial, April 20th, the sepulchre was opened with the permission of his successor, Bishop Eadbert. On the authority of Bede and Reginald it is said that the body was found unchanged and the joints still flexible. Even the clothing had suffered no decay. The object in opening it had been to place it in a smaller coffin, on the assumption that it would have been reduced to dust. The body was reverently replaced, and when Bishop Eadbert died, a fortnight later, a burial place for him was found beneath that of Cuthbert. It must have been opened again at the death of Bede, whose remains were placed beside those of the saint. So Cuthbert slept in that island church, with the voices of the choristers singing round him and mingling with the noise of those sea waves over which were to come the Vikings to disturb the peace of the quiet, religious settlement. Cuthbert died in 687 and Lindisfarne was laid waste by the Danes in 793. But they did not disturb the tomb. In 875, however, they came over again and the monks fled in alarm, carrying with them the remains in a temporary wood coffin. They took away also the famous Gospel of Lindisfarne and journeyed to Cumberland with the intention of crossing over to Ireland, but they were turned by a storm, during which the precious Gospel was swept into the sea, which miraculously returned it to the land.
It would take too long to recite in detail the further adventures of the body, which, after many wanderings, rested in Chester-le-Street, where it remained for a hundred years, until under the terror of another Danish invasion it was carried to Ripon. A few months later an attempt was made to bring it back to Chester-le-Street, and thus occurred the legendary incident which is said to account for the image of a cow familiar to all who have ever looked at the main entrance to Durham Cathedral. Supposedly by the saint’s directions, they followed a cow until it stopped. Then they first erected a chapel made of boughs and afterwards built a little wooden fane to cover the coffin, and on September 4th, 998, it was removed to Ealdhun’s Church of stone. But when William the Conqueror swept over the north like a devastating storm, in 1069, the monks of Durham fled back to Lindisfarne, where they concealed Cuthbert’s remains for a year, after which it was carried again to Durham and placed in the new church built by Bishop William.
Many interesting and valuable relics of Cuthbert are still in existence. There is first the Lindisfarne Gospel, of which something will be said anon. Then when the tomb was opened in 1164 it was found to contain, among other things, a sixth-century manuscript of St. John’s Gospel. This is now at Stonyhurst. In 1827 the coffin was opened for the last time by the cathedral clergy, animated, it has been assumed, by no higher motive than that of curiosity. They found in it, among other things, a little Pectoral Cross of dull gold, with a loop, at the top, of bright pure gold. It weighs fifteen pennyweights and twelve grains. There was also a little portable altar made of embossed silver, attached by silver nails to a slip of oak about a third of an inch in thickness and about 6 ins. by 5 ins. in area. But perhaps the most interesting of all are the robes found on his body. Among them was a stole and maniple, with an inscription wrought into them : Ælæd fieri precepit pio episcopo Frithestano (” Ælflæd caused to be made for the pious Bishop Frithestan “). Ælflæd was the queen of Edward the Elder, Alfred’s son, and Frithestan was the contemporary Bishop of Winchester. Dr. Browne suggests that after the death of Frithestan his robes might be at the disposal of anyone who wished to make a special gift, or they might be Palace property. Athelstane, after his successful invasion of Scottish territory in 933-4, made rich gifts to the body of Cuthbert, then lying in Chester-le-Street, among them a stole and maniple. Dr. Browne, the authority already quoted, says ” both the stole and maniple, now at Durham, have the inscription given above worked into them in worsted work. The substance of these robes is narrow gold tape, woven with self-edges for the insertion of the lettering, the prophets, the floral ornamentation, and all parts of the subjects, in worsted. It is a marvellous piece of work, just a thousand years old, with an unusually clear and convincing pedigree.”
There is a strange ironic contrast between the living Cuthbert, abjuring luxury in dress during life and choosing to go about in a cloak of undyed wool, skin leggings and boots that were not taken off from year’s end to year’s end, and the same body after death, sheathed in a royal garment that has not wholly lost its beauty after a thousand years, and furnished with rich and precious religious symbols, making the splendour of the tomb utterly unlike the simplicity of the man. On each occasion when his sepulchre was changed, magnificent clothing was found for the poor remains. It was all in keeping with the religious spirit of the age which attached miraculous power even to the bones of a saint ; and the belief was widespread that his body was incorruptible.
When the time came for the body to be removed from its island resting-place to Durham, new robes were provided. They were after the fashion of the gorgeous presents which Leopold III made to Charlemagne, describing them as ” two robes of Syrian purple with borders of cloth of gold wrought with elephants.” A circular medallion of silk was found in the tomb of Charlemagne when it was opened in the presence of William II. The elephant, which is their outstanding feature, may possibly be connected with the Emperor’s favourite elephant Abulabas, which accompanied him in his great progresses. Expert opinion is that these robes were woven in Syria and Mesopotamia. Cuthbert’s robes, Dr. Browne writes in his ” Life of Bede,” ” were presumably made between 1085 and 1104 to be ready for the translation of the saint’s body to the new Cathedral Church of Durham.” If the conjecture that they were produced by women of Syria and Mesopotamia be correct, the monkish artist from Lindisfarne must have sent to the Arab weaver sketches and verbal directions for giving the local colour. Of the more beautiful of these robes Dr. Browne says ” it was of stout silk, ornamented with circular medallions two feet across, containing a vase symbolic of an island floating on the sea. The floating vessel was laden with fruit and the whole was en-closed in a circular border of fruits.” The rippling sea, the fish and fowl, indicate Lindisfarne clearly, and the fruits may represent those of a holy life.
Of the portion of another robe of thin silk the same authority says ” the medallions were less artistic. They had a very rich border of incurved octagons fifteen inches across enclosing a man on horseback with hawk in hand and a row of rabbits below.” He suggests that the falconer may be intended for King Ecgfrith, who was at the head of the Synod, all the members of which, on bended knee, besought Cuthbert to accept the Bishopric of Hexham. There was no anachronism. Falconry was already a sport in Anglo-Saxon England. Alchfrith, Ecgfrith’s brother, is represented, hawk on fist, on the con-temporary memorial cross at Bewcastle.
The story of the Lindisfarne Gospel as told by Sir Edward Sullivan was that, ” having reached the West Coast, they (the monks) took ship for Ireland ; but the frail vessel in which they sailed was driven back by a furious tempest, during the raging of which their treasured manuscript was washed over-board. When they regained the English shore the holy volume, to their great amazement, was already there before them, lying in safety on dry land in the box in which they had packed it, the illuminations, according to the chronicle of Symeon Dunelmensis, being quite uninjured by the sea-water. For more than a century after this the successors of the exiled monks wandered to and fro through the land before they found a final resting-place for St. Cuthbert’s remains in the Minster which they founded at Durham. The Book of the Gospels was then laid on the coffin of the saint, and there it remained till early in the twelfth century. It was removed at the time when St. Cuthbert’s body was exhumed, and, shortly after, it was sent back to Lindisfarne, where a monastery of the Benedictine Order has been established by some monks of Durham on the spot once occupied by St. Cuthbert’s ancient abbey. Here it was safely housed until the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII, when its original gold cover was torn from its sides and melted down. The manuscript itself was fortunately unharmed, and was afterwards, early in the seventeenth century, bought from Robert Bowyer, then Clerk of the Parliaments, by Sir Robert Cotton, from whose possession it passed, together with many other volumes that belonged to that noted collector, to the British Museum.”
On the last page of this celebrated book is a note, apparently written in the tenth century. Incidentally it shows what pious occupations were followed by the monkish recluse, and it will serve better than any description of the lovely Gospel of Lindisfarne. It has been translated by Mr. Warner as follows : ” Eadfrith, Bishop of the church of Lindisfarne, he at the first wrote this book for God and for St. Cuthbert and for all the saints in common that are in the island. And Ethilwald, Bishop of those of Lindisfarne Island, bound and covered it outwardly as well as he could. And Billfrith the anchorite he wrought as a smith the ornaments that are on the outside and adorned it with gold and with gems, also with silver overgilded, a treasure without deceit. And Alfred, an unworthy and most miserable priest, with God’s help and St. Cuthbert’s, overglossed it in English. . . .”
” The Holy Isle which was the mother of all the religeuse places in that part of the realm ” now became, in the words of Flambard, ” a hand-mayde to Durham.” In 1082, Bishop William Carileph by charter bestowed on his newly-established cell of Benedictine monks, inter alia, I” The Church of Lindisfarne which had been originally the Episcopal See, with its adjacent vill of Fenham, and the Church of Norham, which had been rendered illustrious by the body of St. Cuthbert, with its vill of Shoreswood.” Until now the island had been known as Lindisfarne, but under Benedictine rule it was called Holy Island, ” in consequence of the sacred blood shed upon it by the Danes.” The Benedictines cleared away the decayed remains of the old cathedral and built upon its foundation the priory whose ruins still remain. The foundation was probably laid in 1093 or 1094. Reginald, the Durham Monk, records that it was built by one of the monks, named Edward, whose ” main anxiety was to increase the possessions and improve the buildings of the church,” and that it was “new from its foundation.” He modelled it on the lines of Durham Cathedral.
The ruins are the most beautiful and picturesque in Northumberland. Anyone looking at them to-day must share in the admiration so eloquently expressed by Sir Walter Scott. Elsewhere, ruins might in themselves be as lovely, but nowhere have they a setting so appropriate. In other cases decay has gone so far as to obliterate the outline of the original; or shop and factory have invaded what were once the garth and precincts of a house of religion. Here there is nothing in the surroundings to jar with the ancient masonry, for the ruins have the same companions as the old building. The sea and the rock, the flat sands and the dunes, are more ancient than any work of man. Nor have the dwellings of the inhabitants altered materially. When the village was at its prime, thatched cottages greatly prevailed over all others. The thatch has disappeared, but still they are the homely old cottages, and inhabited by the same types of men and women. The sun and the sea breezes produced the same complexion a thousand years ago that they produce to-day, and an island preserves mental as well as physical characteristics. If the old monks were to come to life again, they would indeed see their church in ruins, but there would be nothing to startle them elsewhere. They would still find the same raving, restless sea – the same dark Beblow. They would find the people, save for an alteration in dress here and there, were the same as those among whom they ministered. It is this persistence of old environment that makes the ruins not only beautiful, but the most picturesque in a county rich beyond the average in memorials of the past.
The parish church of St. Mary, Raine tells us, was built before the year 1145. He tells us that in his day it was ” very respectably pewed with old black oak. The pulpit is even ornamental. One of its decorations is a shield, upon which is carved, ` 1646. T. S. May 3.’ ” But in the restoration of 1861 the old church furniture was ruthlessly swept away. The most interesting memorial. left is a slab over the grave of Sir William Read, an Elizabethan governor of the island and a ” character ” who warded off death longer than most – a fact alluded to in the epitaph :
Contra vim mortis Non est medicamen in hortis.
The second period in the history of the island lasted from 1082 till about 1538. The last inventory of the church is dated 1533, or just before the dissolution of the monasteries. Holy Island for four centuries was ruled from Durham, and the annual accounts transmitted to the treasury of the mother church show that fasting and penance gave place to good living. The Saint had been content with pulse, and sometimes gave that to the eider ducks. But oxen, sheep, and porkers, capons, ducks, and geese, malt for strong ale and store of wine ” for the solace of the brethren and strangers ” formed the diet of those who followed.
The Lindisfarne Gospel appears in every new inventory as part of a very small library ; but there is nothing to indicate that the monks gave their time to making other illuminated works. In these same inventories are included a few guns and pieces of rusty armour, and we know that the priory was crenellated or loop-holed and had other defensive fortifications, but the monks never were assailed. Yet of “insight,” as the Border robbers named household gear, there was more in the priory than in any of the villages. The last inventory enumerates treasures and embroideries, cloths of “whitte and rede sattin ” and cloths of gold, images and pictures, robes and relics and altar-cloths.
It was not till after the dissolution of the religious houses that the need of a fortress in the island was urgently felt. The castle owed its existence to the Order in Council (1539) that “all havens should be fensed with bulwarks and blockehouses.” But the work was not immediately begun. What forced the island upon military attention was the preparation for Hertford’s tremendous raid in 1543. Things had not settled down after Flodden. Surrey, instead of carrying his advantage home by an invasion, had disbanded the army, and hostilities were con-ducted by riding forays into the Merse and Lothians – a policy that had the effect of exasperating the Scots to the last degree. In 1543 they had renewed the old alliance with France, and this accounted for the expedition under Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford.
The main embarkation took place at Berwick, but on the way to it two thousand two hundred troops were landed on Holy Island, and in October 1543 ten English line of battleships were in the haven. In the previous year was made the first attempt at a serious fortification of the island, under the direction of ” Robart Rooke of Barwik.” The plan was to make two bulwarks, the one to be set in such place as would command the roadstead, the other in the most favourable situation for defending the island. In the report of the master mason and Robart Rooke, it was said that ” there is stone plentie and sufficient remayning of the olde abbey lately dissolved there to make the bulwark that shal defend the eland all of stone if it maie so stand with the good pleasure of the kinges said majestie.” We find the castle mentioned for the first time in the Border Survey made by Sir Robert Bowes in 1550. He writes exactly in the manner of one looking at a newly-built fortress : ” The Fort of Beblowe, within the Holy Island, lyeth very well for the defence of the haven theire ; and if there were about the lowe part thereof made a ring, with bulwarks to flancke the same, the ditch there-about might be easily watered towarde the land. And then I thinke the said forte were very stronge, and stood to great purpose, both for the defense of the forte and annoyance of the enemies, if they did arrive in any other parts of the Island.” Later, in 1675, a second fort was built upon the east end of the Heugh, but it was soon allowed to fall into ruins.
Queen Elizabeth had a survey made in the third year of her reign. It gives a vivid picture of the Holy Island of that time :
” The Holy Iland is scituate within the sea, and yit at every tyde of lowe water men may passe into the same on horseback or foote, and it is in compasse about iijea myles by estimat or more, and hath in the same a little borowgh towne, all sett with fishers very poore, and is a markett town on ye Satterday, howbeit it is little vsed, and yit by reason thereof all the townes of Norham and Ilandshyre ought theire to receive yr measors and wights, and are in all things to be directed by thassisse of the said towne of Iland. And there was in the same Iland one Cell of Monks of the house of Durham, which house bath the personage of the said parish as before is declared, which mansione howse was build in fovre square of two Courts, as appeareth by the platt theirof, and nowe the same howse is the Quene’s Maties storehouse, and also another howse in the towne called the Pallace, which is the newe brewehouse and bakehouse, and other offices in the same for the said storehouse. And in the same Iland is also one forte builded vpon an hill called Beblawe, which serveth very well for the defence and saveguard of the haven, the which haven is a very good and apt haven both of the harborowe and landinge. The inhabitants there have baylifs and all other officers of their owne elections yerely, charged at Michmas, and have certeine men which be burgesses and fremen, of well companie the sayd officers be always chosen. And everye burgesse payeth certen borrowe rent, save xij and xiij, which clame to be so free that they never payd anye burrowe fearme. The moreparte of the towne is nowe decayed in howses, and yit the torts and crofts where the howses did stand remayne, of which the burrowe rent is nowe for the most part collected and raysed, as hereafter doth appeare.”
The Elizabethan surveyor paints a scene of desolation. Only a few emblems and remnants remain to tell of the importance of Lindisfarne during days when it was a famous seat of learning and the home of a powerful monastery. St. Cuthbert’s shrine, not only in ruins, but abased into the uses of a storehouse for the garrison ; the market of the island town still claiming precedence, but little used ; the main houses decayed, but still showing the ” tofts and crofts,” the land ” set with fishers very poor ” ; the castle armoured with culverins and demi-culverins, sakirs and falcons, but never assailed – its history since Aidan’s day is being obliterated. In the reign of Elizabeth’s successor, when Scotland and England became united under James, the island lost importance even from the military point of view. The castle, it is true, remained a Government fortress, and the parish register shows, by the frequent entry ” a soger died,” that a military garrison was maintained, the soldiers being probably strangers to the fisher community. During the tragical reign of Charles I we obtain an unexpected peep at it. This is to be found in the diary of John Aston, a younger son of the ancient family of Aston, of Aston in Cheshire, who was attached to the suite of Charles I on his expedition through the counties of York, Durham and Northumberland, in the first Bishops’ War of 1639. His diary is published with five others by the Surtees Society, under the editorship of Mr. J. C. Hodgson of Alnwick. On May 25th, 1639, the King’s Army was encamped at Goswick, the place being chosen because ” it should seeme the king’s designe was to have set downe with his army heere, it beeing neare the Holy Island, and to have had the command and pleasure of his shipps for his security upon any exigent.”
Charles did not, as a matter of fact, join the camp at Goswick, but Aston went to the place, and from it made an expedition, the account of which shows exactly what the island and fortress were like in 1639 :
” Hence wee went to view the Holy Island, and about 10 a clock, when the tyde was out, wee rode over to it and divers walked on foote into it. It is about 5 mile in compasse, a levell ground with a short greene swade upon it, noe part of it tilled nor affoording any thing but conies. Just at our comming those shipps wee sawe last night, beeing 20 sayle under the command of Marquisse Hammilton (having beene with him at Dum Fryth with 5,000 land souldiours), heere landed 2 regiments of foote. Sir Simon Harecourt’s, and Sir Tho. Moreton’s 24 ensignes, who in the island stood to their armes and musterd, and soe soone as the tyde was a little more withdrawne, marched away towards Barwick. . In this island is a small villadge, and a little Chappell. There is yet remaining the ruines of a faire church very like the cathedrall at Durham, both for the stone and manner of building. It was consecrated to St. Cuthbert, who, for his holy life, obtained a miraculous gift to the island, that about 9 a clock every Sonday the water should bee soe lowe that the inhabitants of the countrey that paris to that church may come dry shod to prayers and retourne before it Howe againe, and it happens soe noe day of the weeke besides : but upon enquiry I was tould it was but a superstitious tradition, and noe truth. This church and buildings were demolished by the Earle of Sussex since the beginning of King James his reigne, to whom the government of the isle was given. There is a pretty fort in it, which upon this occasion was repaired and put into forme. There are 2 batteries on it, on the lower stood mounted 3 iron peeces and 2 of brasse, with carriadges and platformes in good order. On the higher was one brasse gunne and 2 iron ones with all ammunition to them. There are 24 men and a captain kept in pay to man it, the common souldiours have 6d. per diem, and the captain (a space is left here). The captain at our beeing there was Captain Rugg, knowne commonly by his great nose.
The castle, after its many vicissitudes, was beautifully restored by Mr. Edward Hudson, with Sir Edwin Lutyens as architect, in the first decade of the present century.