May 14 , 2010

Joan Haste


Alone and desolate, within hearing of the thunder of the waters of the

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King Solomon's Mines

Now that this book is printed, and about to be given to the world, a sense of its shortcomings both in style and contents, weighs very heavily upon me. As regards the latter, I can only say that it does not pretend to be a full account of everything we did and saw. There are many things connected with our journey into Kukuanaland that I should…

North Sea, but not upon them, stand the ruins of Ramborough Abbey.

Once there was a city at their feet, now the city has gone; nothing is

left of its greatness save the stone skeleton of the fabric of the

Abbey above and the skeletons of the men who built it mouldering in

the earth below. To the east, across a waste of uncultivated heath,

lies the wide ocean; and, following the trend of the coast northward,

the eye falls upon the red roofs of the fishing village of Bradmouth.

When Ramborough was a town, this village was a great port; but the

sea, advancing remorselessly, has choked its harbour and swallowed up

the ancient borough which to-day lies beneath the waters.


With that of Ramborough the glory of Bradmouth is departed, and of its

priory and churches there remains but one lovely and dilapidated fane,

the largest perhaps in the east of England – that of Yarmouth alone

excepted – and, as many think, the most beautiful. At the back of

Bradmouth church, which, standing upon a knoll at some distance from

the cliff, has escaped the fate of the city that once nestled beneath

it, stretch rich marsh meadows, ribbed with raised lines of roadway.

But these do not make up all the landscape, for between Bradmouth and

the ruins of Ramborough, following the indentations of the sea coast

and set back in a fold or depression of the ground, lie a chain of

small and melancholy meres, whose brackish waters, devoid of sparkle

even on the brightest day, are surrounded by coarse and worthless

grass land, the haunt of the shore-shooter, and a favourite

feeding-place of curlews, gulls, coots and other wild-fowl. Beyond

these meres the ground rises rapidly, and is clothed in gorse and

bracken, interspersed with patches of heather, till it culminates in

the crest of a bank that marks doubtless the boundary of some primeval

fiord or lake, where, standing in a ragged line, are groups of

wind-torn Scotch fir trees, surrounding a grey and solitary house

known as Moor Farm.


The dwellers in these parts – that is, those of them who are alive to

such matters – think that there are few more beautiful spots than this

slope of barren land pitted with sullen meres and bordered by the sea.

Indeed, it has attractions in every season: even in winter, when the

snow lies in drifts upon the dead fern, and the frost-browned gorse

shivers in the east wind leaping on it from the ocean. It is always

beautiful, and yet there is truth in the old doggerel verse that is

written in a quaint Elizabethan hand upon the fly-lead of one of the

Bradmouth parish registers –

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