1902 Encyclopedia > William Shakespeare > Shakespeare's Country: The Feldon Division of Warwickshire

William Shakespeare
(Part 4)


The Feldon Division of Warwickshire.

While parts of the Arden district were in this way under cultivation, it must not be supposed that· the Champaign or open country to the south of the Avon, the Feldon division of the county, was destitute of wood; on the contrary its extensive pastures were not only well watered by local streams overshadowed by willow and alder, but well wooded at intervals by groups of more stately trees. The numerous flocks and herds that grazed throughout the valley of the Red Horse found welcome shelter from the noonday heat and the driving wind under the green roofs and leafy screens that lined and dotted their bounds of feed. And, although even the grazing farms were comparatively small, almost every homestead had its group of protecting elms, its outlying patch of hanging beech and ash, or straggling copse of oak and hazel. This is still reflected in such local names as Wood Park, Shrub Lands, Ockley Wood, Furze Hill, Oakham, Ashborne, Alcott Wood, Berecote Wood, and Radland Gorse. These features gave interest and variety to the Feldon' district, and justified the characteristic epithet which for centuries was popularly applied to the county as a whole, that of "woody Warwickshire." And Shakespeare; in passing out of the county on his London journeys would quickly feel the difference, as beyond its borders he came upon stretches of less clothed and cultivated scenery. As his stout gelding mounted Edgehill, and he turned in the saddle to take a parting look at the familiar landscape he was leaving, he would behold what Speed, in his enthusiasm, calls "another Eden, as Lot the plain of Jordan." While the general aspect would be that of green pastures and grassy levels, there would be at the same time the picturesque intermingling of wood and water, of mill and grange and manor house, which gives light and shade, colour and movement, interest and animation, to the plainer sweeps and more monotonous objects of pastoral scenery.

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