We arrived at Caen, a noble and beautiful town, situate on the river Orne, which passes quite through it, the two sides of the town joined only by a bridge of one entire arch. We lay at the Angel, where we were very well used, the place being abundantly furnished with provisions, at a cheap rate. The most considerable object is the great Abbey and Church, large and rich, built after the Gothic manner, having two spires and middle lantern at the west end, all of stone. The choir round and large, in the center whereof elevated on a square, handsome, but plain sepulcher ((This was a second tomb, erected circa 1626, which had replaced an earlier one, and only contained a thigh-bone of the Conqueror. “In 1742, this second tomb, being considered to be in the way of the services of the church, was removed to another part of the choir, where it was destroyed and rifled in 1793, when the one remaining fragment of the body of William was lost for ever” (Hare’s North-Western France, 1895, 116). )) , is this inscription:
“Hoc sepulchrum invictissimi juxta et clementissimi conquestoris, Gulielmi, dum viverat Anglorum Regis, Normannorum Cenomannorumque Principis, hujus insignis Abbatiae piissimi Fundatoris: Cum anno 1562 vesano hæreticorum furore direptum fuisset, pio tandem nobilium ejusdem Abbatiae religiosorum gratitudinis sensu in tam beneficum largitorem, instauratum fuit, aº D’ni 1642. D’no Johanne de Bailhache Assætorii proto priore. D.D.014”
On the other side are these monkish rhymes:
“Qui rexit rigidos Northmannos, atq. Britannos
Audacter vicit, fortiter obtinuit,
Et Cenomanensis virtute coërcuit ensis,
Imperiique sui Legibus applicuit.
Rex magnus parvâ jacet hâc Gulielm’ in Urnâ,
Sufficit et magno parva domus Domino.
Ter septem gradibus te volverat atq. duobus
Virginis in gremio Phœbus, et hic obiit.”
We went to the castle, which is strong and fair, and so is the town-house, built on the bridge which unites the two towns. Here are schools and an University for the Jurists.
The whole town is handsomely built of that excellent stone ((“Caen stone or Pierre de Caen, is a light creamy-yellow Jurassic limestone quarried in northwestern France near the city of Caen” – Wikipedia)) so well known by that name in England. I was led to a pretty garden, planted with hedges of alaternus ((The Italian buckthorn or Rhamnus alaternus was planted at Sayes Court Garden see this article featuring alaternus. -GS)), having at the entrance a screen at an exceeding height, accurately cut in topiary work, with well understood architecture, consisting of pillars, niches, friezes, and other ornaments, with great curiosity; some of the columns curiously wreathed, others spiral, all according to art.