It lay very high upon a turfy down

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Couch Tomato, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. Couch Tomato

    Couch Tomato Senior Member

    Russian & Dutch
    I found the Palace of Green Porcelain, when we approached it about noon, deserted and falling into ruin. Only ragged vestiges of glass remained in its windows, and great sheets of the green facing had fallen away from the corroded metallic framework. It lay very high upon a turfy down, and looking north-eastward before I entered it, I was surprised to see a large estuary, or even creek, where I judged Wandsworth and Battersea must once have been.
    (The Time Machine – H. G. Wells)

    The Palace of Green Porcelain lay very high upon a turfy down. Does he mean by "down" that, it lay lower compared to the rest of the surface?

    Thank you in advance.
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    A hill. Not in your dictionary? Perhaps it's almost always used as plural 'downs'. This is, surprisingly, the original meaning of 'down'. The preposition comes from an Old English combination that was in effect 'off-down' ("off/from the hill"), reduced in Middle English to 'adown', and finally turned into the modern word.
  3. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    This is sense 2a of the noun "down" (sense 1) in the OED: "An open expanse of elevated land; specifically, in plural, the treeless undulating chalk uplands of the south and south-east of England, serving chiefly for pasturage; applied to similar tracts elsewhere". I suppose that "turfy" here means "grassy and treeless".
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  5. Couch Tomato

    Couch Tomato Senior Member

    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you for your answers.
  6. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    For a Wandsworth resident, this is the poignant prospect which global warming holds.
    This must represent the enlarged or flooded confluence of the Wandle and the Thames.

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