THE TOWER OF MINSTER CHURCH.
"The Minster of the Trees! a lonely dell,
Deep with old oaks, and 'mid their quiet shade,
Gray with the moss of years, yon antique cell !
Sad are those walls: the cloister lowly laid,
Where pacing monks at solemn evening made
Their chanted orisons: and as the breeze
Came up the vale, by rock and tree delay'd,
They heard the awful voice of many seas
Blend with thy pausing hymn, thou Minister of the Trees !"
ON a visit to this old church, which is allowed to perish under the influences of damp and the accompanying vegetable growth, in a way which is but little creditable to the parishioners, I was struck at the evidence that the tower had either been taken down or that it had fallen. Amidst the long grass of the churchyard I found many remains of carved stones, which clearly belonged at one time to the tower. I sought for some information, but I could obtain none. The officiating clergyman, and several gentlemen of Boscastle, were alike ignorant of any tradition connected with the tower--the prevalent idea being that it was left unfinished.
At length, the ostler at the inn informed me that the story of the destruction of the tower ran thus:
The tower of the church of the ancient abbey was seen through the gorge which now forms the harbour of Boscastle, far out at sea. The monks were in the habit of placing a light in one of the windows of the tower to guide the worshippers at night to the minster.
Frequently sailors mistook this, by day for some land-mark, and at night for a beacon, and were thus led into a trap from which they could not easily extricate themselves, and within which they often perished. This accident occurred so frequently that the sailors began at last to declare their belief that the monks purposely beguiled them to their fate, hinting, indeed, that plunder was their object. Eventually, a band of daring men, who had been thus lured into Boscastle, went to the abbey, and, in spite of the exertions made by the monks, they pulled down the tower, since which time it has never been rebuilt.