1847 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Penn

William Howitt, in Homes and Haunts of the ... British Poets (1847) 1:282-84.



Stoke Park, thus interesting both on account of those older associations, and of Penn and Gray, is about a couple of miles from Slough. The country is flat, but its monotony is broken up by the noble character and disposition of its woods. Near the house is a fine expanse of water, across which the eye falls on fine views, particularly to the south, of Windsor Castle, Cooper's Hill, and the Forest Woods. About three hundred yards from the north front of the house stands a column, sixty-eight feet high, bearing on the top a colossal statue of Sir Edward Coke, by Rosa. The woods of the park shut out the view of West End House, Gray's occasional residence, but the space is open from the mansion across the park, so as to take in the view both of the church and of a monument erected by the late Mr. Penn to Gray. Alighting from the carriage at a lodge, I entered the park just at the monument. This is composed of fine freestone, and consists of a large sarcophagus, supported on a square pedestal, with inscriptions on each side. Three of them are selected from the Ode to Eton College and the Elegy.... This monument is enclosed in a neatly kept garden-like enclosure, with a winding walk approaching from the shade of the neighbouring trees. To the right, across the park at some little distance, backed by fine trees, stands the rural little church and churchyard, where Gray wrote his Elegy, and where he lies. As you walk on to this, the mansion closes the distant view between the woods with fine effect.... The late Mr. Penn, a gentleman of refined taste, and a great reverencer of the memory of Gray, possessed his autographs, which have been sold at great prices. It is to be regretted that his house, too, is now gone, but the church and the tomb will remain to future ages.