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LADY JANE GREY.
Her lonely hut stood in a darksome dell,
Where thick-set trees shut out the sun's bright ray:
The Green Mantle.
But few of the thousands who wander through the princely avenues of Greenwich Park in the present day, are aware of the wild features it presented three centuries ago; when its steep hill-sides were overgrown with thick underwood, and hundreds of old oaks bared their broad branches to the summer-sunshine, or shook their knotted arms in defiance at the black skies, and hollow winds of winter. There was then a savage and forest-like look in its scenery,
which bore but little resemblance to its present appearance, if we except the enclosure, still known as the Wilderness; and where a few straggling deer may even yet be seen, couched amid the dark green bracken, or carrying their stately antlers erect, among the picturesque and jagged stems of the aged hawthorns. For miles around, the country had then a grand but fearful look : a deep woodland threw its immense shadow over the high brow of Shooter’s-hill, and stretched far away beyond the grey walls of Eltham Palace, thus affording a safe shelter to the numerous bands of robbers and rebels, who at this period infested the neighbourhood. Blackheath, which has been the scene of so many terrors and triumphs, where Roman and Dane have in succession encamped, where Wat Tyler assembled his rough but determined followers, and London poured forth her thousands to welcome back the chivalry of Agincourt, wore a far different aspect to what it does in the present day. The broad, bare, and dusky space which we
now tread, was in summer-time
covered with thousands of gaudy heath-flowers, while the yellow furze and golden broom flaunted their bright blossoms, as if in mockery at the blasted and solitary trees, on which, during the reign of Henry the Eighth, had bleached the bones of so many of his victims. Nearly traversing the same direction as at present, a brown, rugged, high road, went grovelling its way beside the moss-covered, and weather-beaten palings of the park, until its winding course was lost to the eye, amid the dark umbrage of the distant hill. High above the surrounding scenery, and occupying the very eminence on which the Observatory now stands, rose the grey and battlemented towers of Greenwich castle, then a strong fortress, from which the warning beacon had so often blazed. Such were the general features of the landscape three hundred years ago : and to which we would now draw the attention of our readers. But it is in the interior of the beautiful park where our story first
Almost all who have wandered through this delightful spot, must have remarked the beautiful valley, which runs between the steep ascent of One-tree hill, and the gentle acclivity on which the park-keeper's house is situated. At the termination of this verdant slope, there stands a low, clumsy, square, brick pillar ; beyond this the ground is abrupt and broken, and here and there, scattered on the various knolls or little hills, may be seen a few stunted hawthorns, and a solitary oak or two standing far apart, as if to point out the forest-like character of the place. This spot, at the period of which we write, was thickly overgrown with trees, and, saving a winding footpath which led to a low thatched cottage, (the site of which is occupied by the present unsightly pile of bricks), was seldom traversed by any other footsteps than those of the inmates of the mansion, or some lonely fallow-deer which had wandered away from the herd. The cottage, or hut, was in no wise remarkable in its exterior, from those which are still built of “ stud and mud,” and are to be found in almost every old English village, in the