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“Cest-la qu’amante du desert,
La meditation avec plaisir se perd
Sous ces portiques saints.”


THE village of St. Bees is a place of great antiquity, and holds a distinguished
place among the theological seminaries of the kingdom, owing to the high reputation of
the late Dr. Ainger, and his able and distinguished successor, the Rev. W. Buddicom,
principal of the college. The chapel, which is built of freestone, is part of an ancient
church belonging to a monastery, founded here by St. Bega, a holy woman of the
seventh century. The form of the building is that of a cross. The western portion, or
nave, is now fitted up as the parish church, the great door of which is ornamented
with grotesque heads, chevron moldings, and other ornamental work in the ancient
ecclesiastical style. It formerly contained a large wooden statue of Anthony, the last
Lord Lucy of Egremont.

The original building having been destroyed by the Danes, William, son of Ralph
de Meschines, Earl of Cumberland, undertook its restoration in the reign of Henry the
First, and made it a cell for the prior and six Benedictine monks to the Abbey of St.
Mary, at York. It was endowed, at the dissolution of monasteries and religious houses,
with a hundred and fifty pounds, and granted by Edward the Sixth, along with the
manor, rectory, and other estates, to Sir Thomas Challoner; but afterwards revoked,
and given by Queen Mary to the Bishop of Chester and his successors.

The eastern part of the abbey, built in the thirteenth century, was fitted up
about twenty-four years ago as a college, containing a public hall and lecture-room
for the students, the end of the ancient cross-aisle being converted into a library, with
an excellent collection of approved works on divinity. This valuable institution was
commenced under the auspices of the late Bishop of Chester, Dr. Law. Its object is
to afford such young men of the northern provinces as have not the opportunity of
prosecuting their studies at Oxford or Cambridge, the means of fitting themselves for
entering into holy orders ; and the success which has already attended tills pious and
patriotic measure has been highly gratifying. Previous to admission, it is expected

that every candidate shall furnish evidence of his having received a classical school-
education, with testimonials of moral character; and, after two years’ study, he is entitled
to be received on trial for ordination. A gentleman who lately studied here, and who
is now a most efficient and zealous minister of the Church, speaks in very favourable
terms of the judicious arrangement which has latterly marked the theological course at
St. Bees; and improvements still more decided, it appears, are in contemplation under
its present administration.

Edmund Grindall, Archbishop of Canterbury, was a native of Hensingham, in this
parish; and, in 1583, obtained letters-patent for the foundation of a free grammar-school
at St. Bees, in which gratuitous instruction in the classics was provided for a hundred
boys. This institution is under the management of a corporation of seven governors, two
of whom are the provost of Queen’s College, Oxford, and the rector of Egremont.

It has produced several learned characters, among who was the pious Dr.
Hall,* bishop of Norwich, whose eventful life is familiar to every reader of ecclesiastical
history. Much of the prosperity of the village of St. Bees depends on the lodgings which
it supplies to the students during term.

The parish of St. Bees is of great extent ; and, judging from the ruins still
observable, must have been fortified by the Romans at all the convenient landing places
along the shore, which here, and particularly to the northward, presents many vestiges
of their military occupation. The village stands on the margin of the bay formed by the
southern promontory of St. Bees’-head.

• Dr. Hall was born in 1574, and, in 1624, refused the see of Gloucester ; but three years
afterwards accepted that of Exeter, from which he was translated, in 1641, to that of Norwich. A few
years subsequent to this event he was sent to the tower, with twelve other prelates, for protesting against
any laws passed in Parliament during their forced absence from the House. In June of the following year
he obtained his release; but shortly after suffered much persecution from the Puritans, who plundered
his house and despoiled the cathedral. His private estate was also sequestered; and thus in his old age
he was reduced to poverty, which he bore with great fortitude, and continued to preach as long as his
health permitted He was author of the well-known Meditations, was a poet of considerable genius, and
with great wit and learning united a spirit of true meekness and piety. His works have gained for him the
appellation of “the Christian Seneca.” He died in 1656.

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