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A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) online

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or meet in pictures, with the great-hearted
and loyal men of olden time. We look here
on the home, such as they dwelt in or visited ;
we gaze on the woods and glades such as
they loved to gaze upon or to wander in ;
we pass through the rooms furnished as
they used them.

Bramshill is situate in the parish of
Eversley, in Hampshire, and almost on the
borders of Berkshire. We will approach it
from the Basingstoke side, over the plain
called Hasely Heath; and as the house
stands nobly before us, or above us, on the
crest of the opposite hill, let us look around
at the wide expanse, and, though we love
that heathy country, with its purple bloom
in summer, or its clear brown tint in winter,
yet we almost agree in old Fuller's words,
when he tell us that " Bramsell was built in
a bleak and barren place."* Yes! there it
stands, with its park, like a green and
wooded island in the midst of the great
heathy plain which occupies this part of the
country — Hartford-bridge flats stretching a-
way on one side, and this Hasely Heath we
are now crossing lying on one side of it.
* Fuller's Worthies.

But we have now entered the long straight
avenue of old oaks that leads us in a direct
arrow-like line up to the west front ; and as
we have opened quaint old Fuller's book,
we must agree in the epithet he applies to
the house, even more cordially than in those
he bestows on the country round : for he
calls it a " stately structure, " and so it is ;
we feel that the quaint old man has just got
the right word — it does seem a stately
structure, as it looks down on us with its
multitude of windows, its airy parapets, its
clustered chimneys, and its long front, so
beautifully broken into light and shade by
its projecting wings and richly ornamented

But we have now mounted the hill on
which the house stands, and entering the
court-yard in front of it between two mul-
tangular turrets, we will first, as we stand
before the west front, consider a little of the
history of the place and mansion, and then
wander round the house, and take a glance
of the various, yet harmonious design of its
different sides.

Bramshill was built by Edward, Lord
Zouche, and was completed about the year
1612, as the leaden water-spouts in the
south front tell us, some of which bear that
date upon them, and some his initials, E. Z.
It is said he built it as a palace for Henry,
Prince of Wales, the eldest son of James the
First ; and some features of the building
seem to confirm that tradition, as we shall
presently see. The famous John Thorpe,
who was the architect of so many of our fine
Elizabethan houses (as they are called), is
thought to have furnished the designs to
Lord Zouche for his mansion or palace. It
is said, moreover, that Bramshill was never
completed to the extent originally intended
by Lord Zouche, or proposed by the archi-
tect, John Thorpe. Fuller, whom we have
so often quoted, and now call to our aid for
the third and last time, preserves another very
curious fact about Bramshill House ; namely,
that its extent originally was greater than it
now is, but that part of it was destroyed by an
accidental fire. So we understand him, but
here are his words : " Next Basing," he says,
" Bramsell, built by the last Lord Zouche, in
a bleak and barren place, was a stately struc-
ture, especially before part thereof was
defaced with a casual fire."* We are un-
willing to doubt the tradition which assigns
to Bramshill a more extensive plan than was
ever executed ; least of all can we bring our-
selves to call in question truthful Fuller's
statement of a fact apparently within his own
knowledge ; but it really will puzzle us to
devise, as we walk round the house, where
Lord Zouche or John Thorpe meant to ex-
» Fuller's Worthies, i. 401.



tend the building, or where any part did
exist which lias been defaced, and has dis-
appeared by the " casual tire." Here is the
house as it stands, in shape like two f's, or
a double T> if one of those letters stood upon
its head and supported its fellow on its foot, as

we have seen some posture-masters do, thus, i

This is a rough way of explaining the out-
line of the house : and it seems such a
complete plan, and the aspect of the house
itself seems so perfect and so finished,
that, as we said, we can scarcely imagine
what more was to be added, or what was
added and has vanished. It may be that
Lord Zouche or his architect intended to
form a quadrangle or quadrangles to his
house, as we see at Burleigh, and elsewhere ;
but still the difficulty meets us, where was
such a quadrangle to stand ? Not before the
beautiful front, nor on the terrace front.
The supposition would be absurd, and the
nature of the ground, rapidly falling away on
both those sides, forbids our entertaining it.
The stable-yard front certainly looks the
most unconnected and unfinished, and, at
first sight, we may be inclined to think that
there, probably, the designer intended to
build other sides, and to form a quadrangle ;
but such an arrangement would have utterly
destroyed the proportions of the beautiful
west front. For if the building had been
continued in line with the present west front,
to form a side of a quadrangle to the stable
yard front, the ornamented stone porch,
which was evidently intended to be the
feature of this front, and indeed of the whole
house, would not have been hi the centre of
the west front. Altogether, then, we incline
to the belief that, if a more extended editice
was contemplated, or if part of the building
has disappeared, such addition must have
been beyond the east front, that in which
Lord Zouehe's statue stands, and that pos-
sibly that front may have formed, or been
intended to form, a side only of a quadrangle.
And yet, let us look round the house as we
will, we do not feel the want of these pro-
posed or additional buildings ; nay, we should
be sorry if they existed ; for the house seems,
as it stands, just what it ought to be, and we
cannot help thinking that we should lose in
compactness and symmetry by the addition
of a single stone.

And now to return from a long digression.
Let us think again of Lord Zouche and his
building. Whether it was the death (so
exceedingly lamented by the whole nation)
of Prince Henry, which took place at
the end of the year 1612, while Bramshill
was building, deterred Lord Zouche from
proceeding further with his intended struc-
ture, or whether the " casual fire " reduced
it to its present dimensions, it seems certain,

that Lord Zouche soon after took up his abode
at Bramshill ; for here he was residing when,
in 1614, William Browne, a poet of some
consideration in his day, dedicated to him
his Shepherd's Pipe, in these pleasing lines :

" Be pleased, great Lord, -when underneath the shades
Of your delightful Bramshill (where the spring
Her flowers with gentle blasts, with Zephyrs trades)
Once more to hear a silly shepherd sing," &c.*

This Lord Zouche, of whom, probably,
many only know the name as being the
builder of Bramshill, was a very consider-
able person in his day. He was ambassdor
to Scotland, when the embassy to Scotland
must have been a very important one, and
must have required a cautious diplomatist
and a wise man to execute it ; he was,
moreover, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
And besides his official employments, he
seems to have been a man of cultivated
mind; he was the first horticulturist of his
day ; Bramshill may satisfy us as to his
taste in architecture ; and it is pleasant to
find poets and literary men appealing to
his protection, and on terms of friendship
with hun.

Here then he lived : and at his death
(leaving only two daughters) he bequeathed
Bramshill (with other extensive estates in the
neighbourhood, which had been granted him
by King James I., hi 1617) to his kinsman
and next heir male, Sir Edward Zouche, Kt.,
intending, doubtless, to continue Bramslnll as
the seat of his name and family. But Lord
Zouche left the world just as great changes
were coming upon his country, and when
property was soon to become uncertain and
insecure. His relation, Sir Edward Zouche,
of Woking, the next possessor of Bramshill,
was a dissolute man ; he had been one of the
favourites of James I., who had made him
his knight-marshal, and added him to his
council. After his death, hi 1634, Bramshill
was inherited by his son, James Zouche, who
with grateful loyalty to the son of him to
whom his family owed so much, raised a troop
of horse, as we are told, " at his own proper
costs and charges," for the royal service in
the civil wars, and sent two ot his sons to
serve in it.f This very act of loyalty was
indirectly the cause of Bramshill passing out
of the hands of the Zouche family. For the
expense of maintaining this troop was so
great, that poor James Zouche, or his son —
for he dieel in 1643 — was compelled to dis-
pose of Bramshdl (probably the most saleable
of his estates in the neighbourhood) to raise
money for its necessities. He accordingly
sold Bramshill to Andrew Henley, Esq., son
of Sir Robert Henley, a considerable lawyer,
another of whose sons founded the family of
the Grange, in the same county, from whom

* Sir E. Brydges' Mem. Peers temp. James I., 74-75.
+ Collier's Historical Dictionary, ii.



Lord Chancellor Northington descended.
Bramshill did not, however, long continue in
the hands of the Henley family ; and there is
something very remarkable in then down-
ward course in the world, and something
mysterious about their final disappearance.
Thus much, however, we can learn ; that
Andrew Henley, the purchaser of Bramshill,
was created a baronet at the Restoration ;
he died in 1675, and his son and successor,
Sir Robert Henley, dying five years after
him, left his estate, encumbered with a debt
of £20,000, to his next brother and successor
in the title. He is said to have continued
in a course of extravagance which eventually
ruined him ; he seems to have married an
inferior person in the neighbouring village of
Yately ; and Peter Le Neve, an industrious
king-at-arms, at the beginning of the last
century, who compiled pedigrees of the ba-
ronets and knights of his time, and illustrated
them with scraps of chit-chat picked up here
and there, for the benefit of succeeding gene-
rations, tells us, that this last Sir Andrew
Henley " killed a man and fled for it."*
What eventually became of him is unknown ;
but with him the connection of the Henleys
with Bramshill ceased ; for being thus ruined
in fortune and in reputation, he sold his

It happened that at the time Bramshill was
passing away from the Henleys, the Cope
.family had migrated, or were migrating, from
their ancient dwelling-place in the north of
Oxfordshire, where they had " flourished"
(to use the words of Philemon Holland, the
translator of Camden) " in great and good
esteem," since the reign of Henry VII.
Without going fully into the causes of their
quitting Oxfordshire, it is sufficient to say,
that Sir Anthony Cope, the fourth baronet,
being offended that his brother and presump-
tive heir had married contrary to his wishes
or without his sanction, made such a testa-
mentary disposition of his estates as effectu-
ally alienated the greater portion of them
from his successors in his title. His death
occurred in 1675; and after some years of
uncertainty, and probably of litigation, a
final settlement had been effected in 1688,
under which the bulk of the ancient family
estates, including what Leland, in his Itine-
rary, calls " the pleasant and gallant house
at Hanwell " (of which only enough now
remains standing to show what a noble place
it must once have been), passed away to a
distant branch of the family. Sir John Cope,
the fifth baronet, thenceforward resided at
Chelsea, then the most fashionable and
aristocratic suburb of London ; his eldest
son had just returned from completing the
grand tour, had married in 1696 the daugh-
ter of Sir Humphrey Monnoux, had re-

* Le Neve's Pedigrees of Bart? . in Coll. Ann.

ceived knighthood as the eldest son of a
baronet, from King William III., and was no
doubt desirous of obtaining an estate and
mansion which might replace the old house of
Hanwell as the family seat. He became
then, in 1699, the purchaser of Bramshill,
and it has continued from that time to the
present the property and dwelling-place of
the succeeding baronets.

And now, all the while that we have-been
narrating the history of the descent of the
estate, and sketching out the causes of its
successive change of possessors, we have
been steadily gazing at the beautiful west
front. Let us just take a note of its main
features before we leave it. Observe the
fine colour of the red brick, relieved by
the stone dressings and stone mullion of the
windows, and the admirable effect of light
produced by the wings which project by two
successive breaks. The great feature here,
however, is the centre division, which con
sists of an arcade of three open arches, funn-
ing a kind of terrace porch to the principal
entrance of the house ; above the centre of
these is a projecting semi-circular bay-win-
dow, on each side of which rise three tiers of
pilasters with niches between them. The
whole of this division is enriched with orna-
ment, which, above the broken cornice at
the top, assumes a shape somethingresembling
the Prince's plume surmounted by his coronet,
which latter ornament also tops each of the
projecting portions of the cornice : this seems
in allusion to Henry, Prince of Wales. We
have here also a good opportunity for view-
ing the beautiful design of the pierced para-
pet which runs round three sides of the house,
and the equally elegant, though different pat-
tern of that which surmounts the arcade of
the porch. Passing now into the stable-
court, let us pause a moment to look at the
north front. This is a complete contrast to the
side we have just left, inasmuch, as it is with-
out ornament or decoration ; and yet, if we
be lovers of that style of domestic architec-
ture, of which Bramshill is so excellent a
specimen, we shall find something to admire
even here. Look at the projecting ends,
with their lofty bay windows, the long line
of front topped with gables, and the mul-
titude of mullioned windows, which give
such a notion of comfortable accommo-
dation for troops of guests and their re-
tainers. This front then, may be taken as
a good specimen of the plain phase of the
Elizabethan style, as the one we have left is
of its most decorated. But we have passed
the iron gates at the other end of the stable-
court; and, instead of turning close under
the garden-wall, let us advance a few steps on
the greensward of the park to get a better
view of the east front. This is unbroken,
save by its broad windows, and by the pro
jectingbay in the centre, above which rises a



stepped ogee gable, flanged by two pyramidal
obelisks. In a nicbe in this gable stands a
statue of Lord Zouche, the founder of the man-
sion. Continuing our walk round the house,
we may cross the grass to the ancient oak
which stands on the knoll ; and sitting on the
seat which encompasses its trunk, or lying on
the turf at its roots, we have an excellent
general view of the south or terrace front.
Reserving our remarks on its details till we walk
on the terrace, let us now observe the general
effect and main features : the projecting ends
— the long front between, broken into project-
ing bays — the light parapet crowning it — the
admirable effect of the many windows, now
jutting into spacious bays, now in the flat; and
the whole thrown up and given breadth by the
balustraded terrace, which separates it from
the sloping ground of the park below. When
we have tarried long enough to enjoy this
view, we may retrace our steps, in order to
seek admittance into the interior; but, as we
turn away, we must not lose the beautiful peep
into the distance, which opens on us between
the trees of the long avenue, and the ivy-clad
projecting corner of the house. On our re-
turn, we skirt the balustrade of the larger
terrace; and, as we pass close under the gar-
den wall, we must stop to look at the old
gate (or postern, as Mr. Nash* designates it),
with its broken pediment, its quaint obelisks,
and its carved pilasters ; we almost expect
to see some ancient serving-man or park-
keeper reposing on the seats in the recessed
arches on either side ; and we almost wonder
that the old gate does not turn on its hinge,
and give egress to some fair dame venturing
forth from her garden, or to a walking party
of stately squires and youthful maidens,
habited in the picturesque costume with
which Vandyke and his contemporaries have
made us so familiar. The interior of the
house corresponds with the splendid exterior.
At the upper end of the hall is the haut-
pas or dais, and at the lower end is a screen
richly carved and ornamented with ninety-
two shields, three of which are surmounted by
coronets. It has been not inaptly suggestedf
that these shields, though now blank, were
most probably intended to have borne the
descent and alliances of the Zouches, and
that the three coroneted escutcheons were
designed for three baronies (viz., Zouche of
Haringworth, St.Maur, and Cantilupe), which
the builder of Bramshill united in his own
person. Two arches in the screen lead to
the butler's pantry and domestic offices.
The fire-place in the hall is very beautiful.
"With the exception of a modern picture of
Sir John Cope's hounds (in which is intro-
duced a view of the west front of the man-

* Nash's Mansions of the Olden Time. Second series.
+ Collectanea Topographica, viii., 60.

sion, and likenesses of the late baronet and
many of lus personal friends), and a curious
old drawing of the terrace and south front of
the, house, the pictures in the hall are all

The dining-room is a spacious antique-
looking apartment, hung with curious tapes-
try representing forest scenery.

At the extremity of this room, a door
opens into the billiard room, which concludes
the suite of apartments shown to visitors on
the ground floor.

Retracing our steps through the rooms we
have just left, let us ascend the staircase,
which is of ample proportions, such as the
old architects constructed who understood
how roomy and noble an air a spacious hall
and staircase gave a house. They made it
part — and an essential part — of their design ;
whereas now it is too commonly cramped up
in a dark corner, as if it were altogether an

The principal drawing-room is most inte-
resting. Here we find a fulfilment of the
observation that at Bramshill we see, not
only an ancient house, but an ancient house
in its ancient state. For it is not only the
ample proportions of this fine apartment which
strike us, or its fretted ceiling, or deeply re-
cessed windows, with their broad mullions and
latticed panes, or its mantle-piece of various
coloured marbles, piled up to the very ceil-
ing — such as these we have seen elsewhere
— but it is that all and everything in the
room agrees, and is in keeping with these.
No modern grate usurps the place of the
massive hand-irons (or chimney-dogs) piled
with logs. The walls have escaped the house
decorator and paper-hanger, and are hidden
by the tapestry hangings. The couches,
too, of an olden shape, covered with the
handiwork of some fair damsel, whose pic-
ture smiles upon us in the adjoining rooms ;
the inlaid tables — all seem to belong to a
period long past ; and nothing modern glares
upon the eye, and breaks the spell of the
old house and its contents.

But this room contains somewhat well
worth a close examination, for the merit of
their design and curious history — THE TAPES-
TRIES. They represent events in the life and
death of Decius Mus, who we know, or ought
to know, devoted himself, that is sacrificed
himself and threw away his life, to appease
the infernal gods (as he believed), and to
secure the safety of the people. They are
worked from cartoons by Rubens.

The rooms which we have described, are
all situated hi the south front of the house,
and look out upon the terrace ; but, travers-
ing the library, we are admitted to the gal-
lery. The great length of this apartment
(130 feet) which extends along the whole
east front of the house, the lightness of




effect of its numerous windows — three sides
of it being almost all glazed — the deeply re-
cessed bay in the centre, and its panelled
walls, all contribute to give it a pleasing.air
of antiquity. Its " plenishing," too, is well
calculated to lead us back to the days when
groups of knights in doublet and hose, and
dames in ruff and farthingale, promenaded
in it, or traced the measured step of the
coranto. Quaint high-backed chairs, and old-
fashioned furniture, which have grown too
ancient and infirm for the more decorated
drawing-rooms, seem to have found their
way here, to spend their time in ease and
solemn retirement. The walls too are gar-
nished with a multitude of prints — some of
men of renown hi then day, when their like-
nesses, no doubt, were eagerly sought after,
but whose very names are now almost for-
gotten; some of objects and scenes of excit-
ing interest at the time, which now exist
only in the pages of the historian — some
exceedingly curious maps and plans, a few
pictures, Roman baths, by an Italian painter
of the last century, a Lucretia, a portrait of
George II., and some few family pictures,
make up the garnishing of this ancient-look-
ing gallery.

Returning through the library and draw-
ing-room, across the staircase, we enter the
chapel-room, an apartment of peculiarly light
and elegant appearance ; the two deep recesses
of the windows, in which separate parties
might ensconce themselves, ahnost as much
apart as if in separate rooms, are a curious

A door at the foot of the great staircase
leads us to the terrace, which is formed along
the south front of the house, between the
projecting ends, beneath which it terminates
under an arcade of two arches ; a balustrade
separates it from the park, with which it com-
municates by a flight of steps. As we walk
along the velvety turf of the terrace, we have
a good opportunity of examining the details
of this front, of which we before took a gene-
ral and distant view. Passing under the
ornamental arches at the eastern end, a door
admits us to the second terrace. This is of
considerable dimensions and of a square form.
It was in olden time appropriated to some
ancient game, and the ring through which
the ball was driven still remains erect in the
centre of this terrace.

In this description of the interior of Brams-
hill, we have not attempted any notice of
the numerous interesting paintings that adorn
the walls.

We have now completed our circuit of the
house and its " pleasaunces," and taking a
last look at its fair walls and gallant build-
ings, let us look abroad upon the scenery of
the park. "It is," as an intelligent writer
observes, " singularly wild and romantic.

The wild heather blooms in rich and luxu-
riant beauty on the velvet turf, as though
the foot of man had never been there to
trample on its blossoms."* The tall and
graceful fern, too, waves in feathery beauty
in its more retired nooks, while the smooth
greensward stretches around the mansion
and beside the water. Here, too, are many
goodly trees, especially some fine ancient
specimens of the fir tribe, to which this soil
seems particularly congenial. Some of these
doubtless have reared their stately heads
over Bramhsill Park since the days when
Lord Zouche made the first plantations around
his new-built house. He was, as we have
said, a celebrated horticulturist ; and it
is more than probable that some of the
older trees were planted by him, and not
unlikely that some of the pines and
other evergreens, may have been among
the earliest specimens of their kind introduced
into England. But when we think of Lord
Zouche and look upon his trees, Bramshill
Park assumes an historical importance ; for
here it was that the Puritan Archbishop of
Canterbury, George Abbot, in the summer of
16*20, met with the sad accident of shooting
the park-keeper. The archbishop was out
of health, and, being advised to try change of
air, visited Lord Zouche, the friend of literary

Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 73)