Warkworth Hermitage

The lonely cavern, like a chapel carved,
Is situate amid the lonely hills;
The scutcheon, cross, and altar hewn in rock;
And by the altar is a cenotaph.
In marble there a lovely lady lies;
An angel, with a welcome at her side,
A welcome to the soul he beareth heaven.
And near a warrior stands—the desolate!
The wide earth only holds one tomb for him.
Such must have been his history, who first
Cut this sad hermitage within the rock:
Some spirit-broken and world-weary man,
Whose love was in the grave—whose hope in heaven.
Yet a fine nature must have been his own;
A sense of beauty—and a strong delight
In the brave seeming of the visible world,
Whose loveliness is like a sympathy.
Winds the fair river through the vale below,
With sunshine on its waters. Green the woods
Hang the far summits with their changeful shade.
In the soft summer fields are many flowers,
Which breathe at evening on the scented wind.
Still the wild cherry-trees are growing round,
Which first he planted,—yet he loved the world—
The bright—the beautiful—the glorious world—
But loved it as those love who love on earth,
Only the hope that looketh up to heaven.


Warkworth Hermitage is situated about half a mile above Warkworth Castle, on the brink of the Coquet river. This venerable retreat is probably the best preserved and the most entire work of its kind now remaining in the kingdom. It contains three apartments, all of them formed by excavation of the solid rock, and impends over the river clothed in a rich mantle of ancient trees, remains of the venerable ruins which in olden times sheltered the inmates of this romantic solitude. Mr. Grose, in his Antiquities, "ventures to call the three apartments, by way of distinction, the chapel, the sacristy, and antechapel."

The chapel is eighteen feet in length, by about seven and a half in width and height; and is beautifully modelled in the Gothic style of architecture. The sides are adorned with neat octagon pillars, branching off to the ceiling, and terminating in small pointed arches at the groins. At the east end is a plain altar, ascended by two steps; and behind is a little niche, in which was probably placed the crucifix.

The sacristy is a plain oblong apartment, running parallel with the chapel. The remains of an altar may still be seen at the east end, at which mass was occasionally performed. Between this room and the chapel is a small opening, whence the hermit might make confession, and behold the elevation of the host. Near this opening is a door leading into the chapel, and over it a small escutcheon with all the emblems of the passion—the cross—the crown of thorns—the nails—the spear—and the sponge. On the south side of the altar is a cenotaph supporting three figures; the principal one being that of a female, over whom an angel is hovering; the remaining figure is a warrior, in an erect position, at the lady's feet.

The beautiful ballad by Bishop Percy, in which he has recorded the traditional history of this hermitage, is familiar to the readers of English poetry.
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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

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