Bernard Burke.

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

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ton. This place was given by Earl Leofric to
the Benedictine monks, on founding the mo-
nastery at Coventry, and the holy brother-
hood subsequently granted their interest in
the estate to the family of Hastings. After
various transmissions, the property was ob-
tained, in 1674, by Sir CharlesWheler, Bart.,
whose widow, LadyDorothy Wheler,conveyed
it to Symon Biddulph. Esq., whose lineal
descendant, Sir Theophilus Biddulph, Bart.,
now enjoys the estate, whereon stands a
venerable mansion (built, in the shape of a
half H, about the time of Elizabeth), well
suited to the needs and purposes of ancient
English hospitality. Sir Theophilus repre-
sents a principal male branch of the very
eminent and ancient family of Biddulph, long
seated at Biddulph, in Staffordshire ; the an-
cient seat at which place demands notice,
though, according to the plan of our work, we
could not consistently give it a separate article.

The original edifice at Biddulph was a
Norman castle, occupied by Orrnus le
Guidon, patriarch of the family at the time
of the Conquest. On the site of this struc-
ture, Francis Biddulph, Esq. erected one of
the most noble mansions, of the Tudor style
of architecture. Its date, a.d. 1558, appears
on the arched entrance, which, opening on
the southern front, and enriched with pilas-
ters and other ornaments, well carved and
modelled in the Italian style, then blended
with the features of English architecture,
which, borrowed both from the ecclesiastical
and castellated style, mixed with a revival
of Roman forms. The pilasters and orna-
ments are renewed on the second story,
accompanying the gallery, or balcony, over
the gate, surmounted by a battlemented
pyramid ; while the principal apartments on
this side end in two noble bays or oriels,
also carried up to the same height. On the
other side are similar bays, of fine propor-
tions, and on the north rises a lofty tower,
ending in a dome which is vaulted with
stone, moulded into the shape of scales, in a
singular but effective manner. The whole is
of beautiful grey stone, and does credit to
the spirit and magnificence of the founder,



who little thought that an edifice calculated
to be the residence of his family for ages,
would, within a century, fall a sacrifice to
democratic violence. In the civil wars,
Biddulph Hall was held for the king, and
was one of the last posts to surrender. A
garrison was there after the battle of Mars-
ton Moor ; and in 1645 the king visited all
those quarters on his way to Chester, shortly
before his last fight at Naseby ; after which
the Hall was plundered and laid in ruins ; and
thus " Biddulph " ceased, after five centuries,
to be the abode of the race of Ormus.

WILLEY PARK, co. Salop, the seat of
Lord Forester, stands about two miles from
the town of Broseley. The mansion is an
elegant structure, erected partly of white
Grinshill stone, after designs by Louis
Wyatt. The principal front extends about
120 feet, and, to the extremity of the offices,
nearly 300 feet. Carriages drive under a
portico of the Corinthian order, which opens
upon a vestibule leading to a saloon much
admired for its architectural effect ; it is 40
feet by 30 in dimensions, and adorned with
Corinthian columns, supporting a light gal
lery of commimication with the chambers
above.

Among the contents of the mansion are a
good library, many family and historical
portraits, and various statues and copies from
the antique. The plantations surrounding
the house are tasteful and flourishing, and a
fine sheet of water adds to the beauty
of the grounds. At some distance are re-
mains of the old Hall, part of which is
occupied as the residence of his lordship's
steward.

Willey was anciently the inheritance of the
eminent family of Weld, members of which
filled the highest offices in the county for
many generations.

In 1734 Brooke Forester, Esq., married
Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of George
Weld, Esq., of Willey, and thus the estate
came into the Forester family, and has
regularly descended to the present noble
owner.

THE LEE, in the county of Lanark, the
seat of Sir Norman Macdonald Lockhart,
Bart., in whose family the estate has been
for ages.

The present house was commenced in
1820, but the original plan was not com-
pleted till 1849. It is in the castellated
style, with centre tower and turrets. Its
most striking feature is this tower, which
replaces the open court of the old house,
rising high above the other parts of the
structure, and receiving light from twelve
windows, three on each side, near the
roof.



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



79



It is here that the celebrated Lee- Penny-
is kept — a relic that has been in the family
since the time of the Crusades, and which,
moreover, furnished Sir Walter Scott with
one of the leading features in his romance of
the " Talisman ;" in fact, with the idea of
the Talisman itself. " The soldan," so he
concludes his tale, " the soldan sent as a
nuptial present on this occasion the
celebrated talisman ; but though many cures
were wrought by means of it in Europe, none
equalled in success and celebrity those
which the soldan achieved. It is still in
existence, having been bequeathed by the
Earl of Huntingdon to a brave Knight of
Scotland, Sir Thomas of the Lee, in whose
ancient and highly honoured family it is still
preserved. And although charmed stones
have been dismissed from the modern phar-
macopeia, its virtues are still applied to for
stopping blood, and in cases of canine mad-
ness."

Such is the romancer's account, coloured,
of course, to suit the object he had in view,
and yet not very remote from truth either,
as wdl be seen in the real story.

King Robert Bruce, not being able to
make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in his
lifetime, hit upon the happy expedient of
ordering that when he was dead the heart
should be taken from his body and trans •
ported thither. Amongst the knights who
were entrusted with this precious relic was
Sir Simon Lockhard of Lee, who, being
unable otherwise to defray the expenses of
the journey, borrowed the sum of £10 from
Sir William de Lindsay, Prior of Ayre,
granting him a bond upon his estate to that
amount. This document, which bears the
date of 1323, is yet extant amongst the
family papers ; and hence, as a memorial of
his good service, the family name of Locard
was changed to Lock-heart, or Lockhart.
At the same time Sir Simon obtained for
arms a heart within a lock, with the motto,
Cor da serrata panclo.

According to the historians, Douglas, who
was at the head of this funereal pilgrimage,
and who carried the king's heart in a silver
box suspended from his neck, never got fur-
ther than Spain, being there killed by the
Saracens. The legend, however, makes Sir
Simon more fortunate. He proceeds upon
his mission, and is lucky enough to take
prisoner a Saracen chief, for whose ransom
his wife offers a large sum of gold. To this
he accedes ; but in counting out the money
the lady drops a gem from her purse, and
evinces such haste and eagerness to recover
it, that the knight's curiosity is excited.
With infinite courtesy he requests to be in-
formed why she seems to prize so much
what to all appearance has but little value.
The Saracen unsuspectingly complies with



his request, and reveals the hidden virtue of
the stone ; whereupon the knight is no
longer willing to abide by his bargain. He
refuses to release his captive unless the
talisman is given to him in addition to the
gold ; and the lady in the end submits to his
demand, though much against her inclination.

The talisman thus obtained, and which has
ever since been called the Lee- Penny, is a
small triangular stone, but of what kind the
lapidaries profess themselves unable to de-
termine. It is about half an inch long, and
is set in a silver coin, which, judging from
the still discernable traces of a cross, must
belong to the tune of Edward I. Formerly it
was hi high repute for its medical qualities.
Water, into which it had been dipt, was held
an effectual remedy for all ailments amongst
cattle, and so far was its fame spread in this
respect, that people in the northern counties
of England would send for it. It was, more-
over, a certain specific against hydrophobia.
An instance of this has been preserved in
the case of a Lady Baird of Saughton Hall,
near Edinburgh, who, by using draughts and
baths to which the talisman had imparted its
virtues, actually recovered from the bite of
a mad dog after the disease had set up.
Nay, it was an antidote to the Plague itself.
When this disease last raged at Newcastle,
the inhabitants borrowed the Lee Penny,
and found it so effectual against their terri-
ble enemy, that they would gladly have for-
feited the sum they had deposited in trust
for the loan, if the owners would have con-
sented.

It is not a little amusing to see hov this
same talisman puzzled the wits of a certain
" Synode and Assemblie," held at Glasgow,
when called upon to decide how far the use
of such a remedy might be lawful. Consi-
dering that no words such as charmers use
were employed at the time of taking the
medicated waters, they were inclined to
think there was no great harm in it ; but, as
if not quite satisfied with their own decision,
they gravely admonished the " Laird of Lie "
to use it with as little scandal as might be.
The document is really too curious not to
be given here, and at full length.

" Copy of an act of the Synode and As-
semblie apud Glasgow, the 25th of October.
Synode Session 2d.

" Quhilk daye amongest the referies of
the Brethern of the ministrie of Lanark, it
was propondit to the Synode that Gowen
Hammiltoune of Raplock had preferit ane
complaint before them against Sir Thomas
Lockhart of Lee anent the superstitious using
of ane stone set in silver for the curing of
deseased cattel, qulk the said Gawen
affirmed could not be lawfullie used, and
that they had deferit to give any desisioune
therein till the advise of the Assemblie



80



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



might be heard concerning the same. The
Assemblie having inquerit of the manner of
using therof, and particularlie understood
be examinatioune of the said Laird of Lie,
and otherwise that the custom is onlie to cast
the stone in sume water, and give the
deseasit cattel thereof to drink, and yt the
same is done wt-out using onie wordes such
as charmers use in their unlawful practissess,
and considering that iu nature they are
monie thinges sein to work strange effect,
grof no humane witt can give a reason, it
having pleasit God to give unto stones and
herbes a special virtues for the healling of
mony infirmities in man and beast, and ad-
vises the brethern to surcease their process,
as gr-in they perseive no ground of offence,
and admonishes the said Laird of Lie in the
using of the said stone to tak heid it be usit
heir after wt. the least scandall that possiblie
may be.

" Extract out of the Bookes of the As-
semblie holden at Glasgow, and subscribed
by thair clerk at thair command.

" M. Robert Young,
" Clerk to the Assemblie at Glasgow."

The grounds attached to this mansion are
exceedingly picturesque and beautiful.

OLD WITHINGTON HALL, Cheshire, the seat
of John Baskervyle Glegg, Esq., a magis-
trate and deputy-lieutenant for the county,
and in 1814 high sheriff. In the time of
Henry III., Walkelyn de Arderne, the then
possessor of the estate, granted to Robert
de Camoille a release of homages and rents
due to him in Old Withington, as a recom-
pense for his services in the wars of Gas-
cony. The same Robert afterwards granted
one moiety of the said manor to Oliver
Fitton, and the other to John de Basker-
vyle, in whose descendants it has remained
ever since. The name alone of the family
holding it has been changed, the grand-
father of the present owner having taken the
name of Glegg when he succeeded in right of
his wife to the estates of the Gleggs of Gay-
ton-in-Wirral.

Old Withington Hall was erected in the
time of Elizabeth ; but, about sixty years ago,
it was rebuilt by John Glegg, Esq. It is now
a large and handsome mansion, in the Gre-
cian style of architecture. The site is pleasing
and picturesque, being in the midst of park-
like grounds, at the end of a fine avenue to
the right of the road from Middlewich toMac-
clesfield, and about eight miles distant from
the latter. The general surface of the ground
varies little from the flatness of the district
towards Northwich; but the hills on the border
of the Staffordshire and Derbyshire frontier
give life to the remoter prospect, while the
abundance of forest trees in the adjoining
hedges break the monotony of the foreground.



TAMWORTH CASTLE, Warwickshire, the
property of Lord Charles Vere Towns-
hend. In the Anglo-Saxon this place was
called Tamanweorthe, from theorth, " a court
or place, to which ig, an island, seems to
be added, for that the Anker and Tame
here joining, it forms the figure of an is-
land." In fact the river runs through the
town, dividing it into two equal parts, one-
half of which is in Warwickshire, and half
in the county of Stafford. The name, how-
ever, has been more variously spelt than is
here worth repeating.

" The Castle of Tamworth," says Leland,
" standeth on a meetly high ground, on the
southe part of the towne, hard upon the rise
of Anker, at the mouth of it. The Mar-
mions, Frevilles, and Ferrers, have been
lords of it smce the Conquest."

By William the Conqueror this castle was
granted to Robert Marmion, who # would
seem to have been no indifferent prototype
of Walter Scott's hero of the same name.
According to William of Newbury, he was
" homo bellicosus, ferocia, et astutia. fere
nullo suo tempore impar." Many were the
traditions extant concerning this ferocious
chieftain. Dugdale tells us, that " being a
great adversarie to the Earl of Chester, he
entered the priorie of Coventre, and expell-
ing the monks, fortified it, making in the
fields adjacent divers deep ditches, lightly
covered over, to the intent that such as
should make approaches thereto might be
intrapt ; but it so happened, that as he rode
himself to view the earl's forces that began
to draw near it, he fell into one of them, and
broke his thigh ; so that he was forthwith
seized on by a common souldier, who imme-
diately cut off his head."

Another account punishes the heroic delin-
quent by supernatural agency. " This Robe r
being settled here, expelled those nun? he
found here to a place called Oldbury, about
four miles distant. After which, within the
compass of a twelvemonth, as it is said,
making a costly entertainment at Tamworth
Castle for some of his friends, among which
was Sir Walter de Somerville, Lord of
Whichnover, in the county of Stafford, his
sworn brother, it happened that, as he lay
in his bed, St. Edith appeared to him in the
habit of a veiled nun, with a crosier in her
hand, and advertised him that if he did not
restore the Abbey of Polesworth — which
lay within the territories belonging to his
Castle at Tamworth — unto her successors,
he should have an evil death, and go to hell ;
and that he might be the more sensible of her
admonition she smote him on the side with
the point of her crosier, and so vanished
away. Moreover, that, by this stroke being
much wounded, he cried out so loud that his
friends in the house arose, and finding him



SKATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



81



extremely tormented with the pain of his
wound, advised him to confess himself to a
priest, and vow to restore them to their for-
mer possession. Furthermore, that having
so done, his pain ceased, and that in accom-
plishment of his vow (accompanied by Sir
Walter de Somerville and the rest), he forth-
with rode to Oldbury, and craving pardon
of the nuns for the injury done, brought
them back to Polesworth ; desiring that him-
self and his friend, Sir Walter de Somerville,
might be reputed their patrons, and have
burial for themselves and their heirs in this
abbey — viz., the Marmions in the chapter-
house, and the Somervilles in the cloister."
But for all this, he did not, as we have seen
in the first tradition, escape the evil death
with which St. Edith threatened him, an inci-
dent that Sir Walter Scott has borrowed, and
turned against his fictitious Marmion : —

o

" The abbess, seeing strife was vain,
Assumed her wonted state again —
For much of state she had—
Composed her veil and raised her brad,
And, ' bid,' in solemn voice she said,
' Thy master bold and bad

The records of his house turn o'er,
And when he shall there written see
That one of his own ancestry
Drove the monks forth of Coventre,

Bid him his fate explore.'
Prancing in pride of earthly trust,
His charger hurled him to the dust,
And by a base plebeian thrust
He died bis band before."

It would seem, however, as if one legend
variously told, had, in process of years, be-
come two ; for it does not appear very proba-
ble that Sir Robert, after his first affair with
the nuns, and his subsequent remorse, would
a second time have incurred supernatural
vengeance by a similar offence directed
against a convent of monks.

The architecture of the castle belongs to
various periods. The hall, a rude ami some-
what comfortless structure, appears, with
some other portions, to be of a very ancient
date, and the rooms and staircase — though,
from Leland's account, they must have been
built within his time — are yet exceedingly
irregular, as if appertaining to a much ante-
rior age.

Tamworth Castle passed through an
heiress from the Marmions to the Freviles,
and again, by a like transmission, from the
Freviles to the old family of Ferrers, the
eventual representative of which, Ann, only
daughter and heir of Sir Humphrey Ferrers,
conveyed Tamworth in marriage to the Hon.
Robert Shirley. Their daughter and even-
tual heiress, Elizabeth Shirley, Baroness
Ferrers, of Chartley, wedded James Comp-
ton, 5th Earl of Northampton, and was
mother of Lady Charlotte Compton, wife of
George, Viscount Townshend. Thus, the
estate and Castle of Tamworth became
vested in the noble house of Townshend.

VOL. II.



From the castle-leads is a noble prospect
of rich woodland country, spreading over
Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire,
and Derbyshire. Through the midst of th s
scene roll the Tame and the Ankor, crossed
by two bridges — that over the Ankor, called
Bowebridge, though the smaller river, being
the most remarkable.

The poet Drayton, who was born on the
banks of the Ankor, has celebrated this
scene in some of his sw T eetest strains : —

" Clear Ankor, on whose silver-sanded shore

My soul-shrin'd saint, my fair idea lies ;
A blessed brook, whose milk-white swans adore

Thy crystal stream, refined by her eyes ;
Where sweet myrrh-breathing Zephyr'in the spring

Gently distils his nectar-dropping show'rs,
Where nightingales in Arden sit and sing

Amongst the dainty, dew-impearled flowers,
Say thus, fair brook, when thou shalt sec thy queen,

Lo, here thy shepherd spent his wand'ring years ;
And in these shades, dear nymph, he oft has been,

And here to thee he sacrificed his tears :
Fair Arden, thou, my Tempe art alone ;
And thou, sweet Ankor, art my Helicon."

MOOR PAKE, Herts, the seat of Lord Robert
Grosvenor. In ancient times, the Manor
of the Moor formed part of the possessions
of the richly-endowed Abbey of St. Alban's,
and in 1431 appears to have been held
under that holy community by William
Fleete, at the yearly rent often shillings and
tenpence, by the service of one penny, pay-
able after the decease of every tenant, and by
the service of finding for the abbot and his
successors one horse to carry him to the cell
of Tynemouth, whenever he should journey
thither. Upon the subsequent refusal of
Fleete to perform these duties, the Moor
was confirmed to the abbey, by the judg-
ment of Sir William Babington, Knt.. Chief
Justice of the Common Pleas, and was not
long after, a.d. 1457, leased to Ralph Botiller,
Lord of Sudeley. The next proprietor on
record was George Nevil (younger brother
of Richard, Earl of Warwick and Salisbury),
and to him Henry VI. granted licence to
enclose 600 acres of pasture and land for a
park, and permission to embattle the site of
the manor. George Nevil was a telelrated
churchman of his time, and became in the
reign of Edward IV., Archbishop of York;
he resided in a style of great magnificence
on his demesne of the Moor, where he fre-
quently entertained his royal master. At
the death, however, of his brother, the re-
nowned Earl of Warwick, the tide of courtly
favour turned against the prelate, and the
king found means by a curious stratagem,
related by Goodwin in his catalogue of
English Bishops, to compass his ruin.

Nevil's disgrace caused his lands to revert
to the crown, and Moor remained so vested
until the reign of Henry VII., when it was
granted to John, Earl of Oxford, in requital
of his gallant services at Bos worth ; but it
did not long continue in the chivalrous race

LI



82



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



of Vere, for among the vast possessions for-
feited by Cardinal Wolsey the Moor occurs,
and within the lapse of a few years it was
annexed, by royal letters patent, to the
Duchy of Lancaster. The manor with the
park was afterwards assigned by Queen
Elizabeth to Francis Russell, second Earl of
Bedford, and here the Russell family resided
for some time. The first house upon this
beautiful demesne, of which we have any
historical account, was inhabited by Lucy,
Countess Dowager of Bedford, widow of
Edward, third earl, and sister and coheir of
John, second Lord Harrington, a lady equally
celebrated for her learning and extravagance,
and a distinguished patroness of the most
celebrated men of her time. Her ladyship
laid out the gardens, and was the first to
render this favoured spot a point of general
attraction. She did not however very long
retain possession of an estate she had so
greatly adorned ; for in 1626, it passed by
sale, to William, Earl of Pembroke, by whom
the house and park were severed from the
manor, and sold to Robert Cary, Earl of
Monmouth. His lordship, fourth son of
Henry, Lord Hunsdon, and a near kinsman
of Queen Elizabeth, acted a prominent part
in the public affairs of the era in which he
lived. His Memoirs, written by himself and
published by John, Earl of Cork and Orrery,
in 1759, give much insight into the history
of the times. He was on board the fleet in
1588, at the destruction of the Armada, and
he states that hewona wager of two thousand
pounds the next year by going on foot in
twelve days to Berwick. " After this," goes
on the memoir, " I married a gentlewoman,
Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Hugh Trevanion,
more for her worth than her wealth, for her
estate was but £500 a-year jointure. She had
between £500 and £600 in her purse. Neither
did she marry me for any great wealth ; for
I had in all the world but £100 a-year out of
the Exchequer, as a pension, and that was
but daring pleasure ; and 1 was near £1000
in debt. Besides the Queen was mightily
displeased with me for marrying, and most
of my best friends ; only my father was no-
ways offended at it, which gave me great
content." The tide of fortune, which he took
in the spring, was the opportunity afforded
him by the familiar intercourse, with which his
kinswoman, Queen Elizabeth, condescended
to treat him, of being the first to announce
her Majesty's decease to her successor. As
he visited her (he says) in her last illness,
and prayed that her health might amend, she
took him by the hand and wringing it hard,
replied, " No, Robin, I am not well,' 1 and,
fetching at the same time no fewer than forty
or fifty sighs, which he declares, except for
the death°of Mary of Scotland, he never in
his whole life, knew her to do before. By



those sighs, the wily politician judged her
Majesty was near her dissolution, and, with
great candour, he proceeds, " I could not but
think in what a wretched state I should be
left, most of my livelihood depending on her
life. And hereupon I bethought myself with
what grace and favour I was ever received of
the King of Scots whensoever I was sent to
him." Accordingly, at the decease of the
Queen, Cary immediately proceeded to Scot-
land, and was the first person to announce
to King James his accession to the throne of
England, producing and presenting to his
Majesty, in proof of his veracity, a certain
blue ring.* The king received him, of course,
most graciously, and observed, " I know you



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 73)