Bernard Burke.

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

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has undergone in that long course of time
but few alterations, and those not of a kind
to alter the general character of the building.
An avenue of some length leads up to the
house ; the carriage front, towards the village,
having a court before it, enclosed by a wall,
quite as ancient as the Hall itself. It pre-
sents an arch surmounted by a cornice,
boldly designed, and is well nigh hidden from
sight by the woodbine that clusters about
the fret -work of the parapet. There is a
square compartment over the entrance-porch
on this side of the house, on which the family
arms are sculptured, while within the same
porch are several ancient pieces of armour.
This entrance leads immediately to a noble
dining-room, the oak panelling of which has
unfortunately been covered with paint. The
chimney piece is enormous, reaching even to
the ceiling, and no less admirable in design
than in execution. It is made of a stone
called Hopton stone, brought from Hopton
Moor. ■

In the western drawing-room, which is a
modern building, there are many interesting
portraits. Amongst them is one of Mrs,
Fitzherbert, daughter of Lyttleton Meynell,
Esq., of Bradley Hall, who has her best
and most lasting epitaph written in the
praises of Dr. Johnson: "Of her he said
one day in Dr. Lawrence's study, that she
had the best understanding he ever met with
in any human being."

It is impossible to quit this mansion with-
out noticing the pretty custom of the retired
village from which it takes its name, and to
which it may in one sense be said to belong.
This custom is called well-flowering, or weU-
dressing. At one time it prevailed exten-
sively throughout our rural districts, being
no doubt of classic origin in the first instance,
admitted at a later period into Roman Ca-
tholic observances, and retained long after-
wards without any more definite or precise
meaning than as administering occasion for
a holiday. The day of this festivity is Holy
Thursday — a pretty sure indication of its
immediate descent — at which time the five
springs that supply the village with water
are decorated with the flowers of the season,
arranged in various fanciful devices. The
manner of it is this. A thin board is cut
into some chosen shape, and covered over
with moist clay. Into this bed the flowers



92



SEATS OF OKEAT BRITAIN.



are inserted in such a way as to form a
brilliant mosaic, and a ground work for stars,
crowns, mottoes — chiefly scriptural — and
any other pretty device that the imagina-
tion can suggest. Being thus prepared, the
whole is so placed upon the spring that its
waters appear to issue from beds of flowers..
Even now a portion of its old sacred cha-
racter cleaves to this pleasing custom. Ser-
vice is first celebrated at the church, from
which the villagers go in procession, pre-
ceded by a band, to the different springs.
The collects of the day are then read, and
hymns are snng in the open air by the assem-
bled multitude. This being over, the gaiety
of the day commences, friend entertains
friend, the green is covered with booths, and
the people from the neighbouring villages
throng thither to join in the merry festival.
In short, this well-dressing is but another
form of the flowery observance so exquisitely
described by Milton in his Comus.

"The shepherds at their festivals
Carol her good deeds loud in rustic lays,
And throw sweet garland-wreaths into her stream,
01 paneies, pinks, and gaudy daffodils."

Tissington, however, has been the field of
a very different amusement. During the
civil war the royalists from the adjacent parts
had assembled in such force at Ashbourn as
to prevent all communication between that
town and the neighbouring villages, liven
the markets could not be attended. Here-
upon, complaints being made by the villagers,
Major Saunders was sent to disperse the
royalists and take possession of the town.
The cavaliers being thus ousted, drew toge-
ther a larger force to retake Ashbourn, of
which intention the major being apprised in
good time, he lined the lanes and hedges with
his dragoons, and fell upon the rear of the
assailants who in consequence were driven
back upon Tissington. Here they attempted
to make a stand, but were finally repulsed
with much slaughter.

HARLAXTON, in the county of Lincoln,
the seat of Gregory De Ligne Gregory,
Esq. When any foreign sovereign or prince
of a reigning house comes to England, he
ought, for the honour of this country, to be
conducted to Harlaxton, in order that he may
see the mansion of an English country squire.

In the reign of Philip IV., of Spain, a
gentleman of the Spanish Netherlands, of
the name of De Ligne, who boasted of some
collateral relationship with the great house
of Aremberg, became a Protestant, and,
having suffered some persecution on account
of his religion, he emigrated to England.
He purchased the lands of Harlaxton, near
Grantham, and established a family there,
which continued, in the direct male line, for



several generations. That line having at
length failed, upwards of a century ago, no
one was for some time able to make good a
title to the property. At last, a young
lady of the name of De Ligne was found, in
very humble circumstances, who, unknown to
herself, possessed an undoubted claim. This
was brought forward successfully, and she
was placed in possession of the Harlaxton
estate.

She married a gentleman of the name of
Gregory, and the heir of this marriage, alter
the lapse of several generations, is the pre-
sent Mr. De Ligne Gregory, the builder of
the splendid mansion, and constructor of the
magnificent gardens, which are the pride and
admiration of Lincolnshire, and which show
that a plain English country gentleman of
moderate fortune, can erect a pile which
might be envied by the greatest princes of
the Continent.

During the last thirty-five years, Mr.
Gregory has been unwearied in collecting
the most beautiful and rare objects in virtu
and taste in France and Italy ; and about
twenty-three years ago he commenced the
palace of Harlaxton, as a fitting receptacle
for his varied acquisitions.

But it is not in our day alone that the
mansion on this property has deserved to be
celebrated. When the De Lignes acquired
the estate, they found a most strikingly pic-
turesque old English Hall, a considerable por-
tion of which dated as far back as the reign of
King Pichard II. ; and the prevailing charac-
ter of the greatest part of which was Tudor.
It is surrounded by a moat, and the front of
the court is ornamented by a beautiful screen
of stonework. Behind, there is a quaint old
garden, also contained within the moat.
This very singular and remarkable ancient
mansion continued to be the seat of the
family until the end of the last century, and
it was the habitual residence of Mr. Gre-
gory's grandmother. It still stands, and we
trust that it long may stand, as one of the
most curious specimens of English domestic
architecture during the reign of the Plan-
taganets and Tudors.

From the time of the accession of the pre-
sent Mr. Gregory to the property, the main
object of his life has been to create a splen-
did monument of his taste, which should
mark to posterity at once its l-efiuement and
its magnificence. He accordingly selected
for the exterior and interior, the two epochs
which admit of the most rich and sumptuous
display of ornament — viz., the times of
James I. of England, and Louis XIV. of
France. It would seem to be a mansion which
had been built at the former period, and of
which the interior decorations and furnishing
had been delayed until the latter. In this
selection, it is probable that Mr. Gregory



.SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



93



was in some measure determined by the vast
stores of beautiful objects of old French
virtu which he bad collected in Paris.

About three miles from Grantham, on a
gentle elevation which commands the rich
Vale of Beauvoir, stands this princely resi-
dence, which has, during the last twenty
years, attracted the attention of persons of
taste from all quarters, and which, now that
it is nearly completed, surpasses in magnifi-
cence most of the noblemen and gentlemen's
seats in this quarter of England.

Before arriving at the great Elizabethan
gateway, the traveller passes through the
quaintly ornamented village of Harlaxton, with
a full vie w of the noble mansion. To the left of
the gateway stands the kitchen and fruit
garden, with a massive screen of stone-pillar
work in front, and with a profusion of lofty
walls, coped with stone, and ornamented
with stone niches and carvings. A straight
avenue leads from the gateway to the gate
of the house; and here the ancient stone
screenwork of the old hall of Richard II., and
the Tudors, has been reproduced on a gigan-
tic scale. Passing between ornamented
pavilions, you traverse a piece of shaved
lawn, and stand before the door of the man-
sion ; around and by the side of which rise
a wild and wanton profusion of terraced
garden steps, balustrades, statuary groups,
and beautiful pavilions, all being in the
strictest harmony with the architectural style
of the hall ; which is the most elaborately
adorned late Elizabethan or early Stuart,
with a beautiful bell tower and many turrets.

It is extremely difficult in a description,
to convey an adequate idea of this noble
mansion. From the entrance hall, a flight
of steps leads to the great baron's hall,
which is fitted up more in the style of
the exterior than in that of Louis XIV.
It is eighty feet in length, with a dais
at the upper end. There is much beau-
tiful carved panelling, and the roof is
richly ornamented. Above the dais there
is a tine equestrian picture of Charles I.;
and above the panelling there are tolerable
copies of full-length portraits of some of the
sovereigns of Spain and other countries.
However, Mr. Gregory has no pretension to
be a picture collector ; and besides the above
named, there are in the house, only a few
old portraits of the De Lignes, two of which
(in the dining-room) of the founder of the
English branch of the family, and his wife,
have some merit, and are by Jansen.

Passing through the hall, which is paved with
the most beautiful marble, in tasteful pattern,
we come to the great staircase. The hall at
the bottom is of French pietra dura, in
elegant patterns of the most precious marbles.
The stairs and staircase are of cedar-wood,
and reach to the top of the building, with



rich and elaborate ornaments in stucco. To
the left hand, at the bottom of the staircase,
opens the drawing-room, and to the right
opens an ante-room, on one side of which
stands the gallery, and on the other the
dining-room.

The gallery is 100 feet in length, and is
fitted up with the most beautiful Gothic
tapestry, and its doorways are formed by
gigantic pibars and architraves of violet and
white marble. This is altogether a most
noble room, and is intended to contain busts,
statues, and objects of rare and curious virtu.

The dining-room — forty feet long — is fitted
up more in the style of James I., than any
other room in the house. The chimney-
piece is of enormous dimensions, and its orna •
ments of marble, and carved pillars of black
basalt, give it a character of extraordinary
magnificence. There are here an immense
chandelier, and sideboard vessels of large
size of solid massive silver.

Besides the rooms which have been noticed,
the breakfast-room and small drawing-room,
and private sitting-room, are of extraordinary
elegance and beauty, and are fitted up as
complete specimens of the time of Louis XIV.
The Gobelin tapestry is among the brightest
that we have ever seen.

It would be endless to describe the bed-
rooms, and the corridors on the upper story.
Nothing is inconsistent — everything has been
accomplished with perfect taste and lavish
expenditure.

The conservatory forms a part of the
house, and is highly ornamented in the most
florid style of James I.

The terraced gardens are quite as splendid
and as elaborately beautiful as the mansion,
and they are not less richly adorned with
groups and pavilions, and balustrades.

Adjoining the house are the stables and
coach-houses, all on a scale of equal grandeur,
and executed with the same judgment.

Mr. Gregory has been his own architect,
and has planned and executed everything
under his own superintendence. The site of
the house and terraced gardens is admirably
chosen. The view is not less rich than ex-
tensive, commanding the whole Vale of
Beauvoir, and the lordly terraces of the Duke
of Rutland's Castle.

Mr. Gregory may be said to have accom-
plished one of the greatest domestic archi-
tectural works of his time ; and Harlaxton
will be a lasting monument to posterity of
his taste and perseverance.

BEAUFORT, between the towns of Battle
and Hastings, co. Sussex, the seat of Sir
Charles Montolieu Lamb, Bart., was built by
General the Hon. James Murray, Governor
of Canada, about the year 1770, and named
after a place in the neighbourhood of Quebec,



04



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



at the capture of which under Wolfe, the
General took a leading part. The present
dinner bell belonged to the town hall of that
city. At his death, in or about 1795, the
mansion passed to John Lamb, Esq., from
him, by will, to Sir James Bland Burges,
Bart., who afterwards assumed the name of
Lamb only. In former times there appeai-s
to have been no mansion whatever on the
spot, nor did it form part of the estate of any
considerable family. In Blaauw's " Atlas" the
locality is marked as the beacon hill, for
which purpose it would be well adapted,
standing on the highest ground in the neigh-
bourhood. The original mansion consisting
of a centre and two wings in the square style,
prevalent in the middle of the last century,
has been considerably altered and enlarged,
and the estate and grounds have also been
much augmented and improved by the pre-
sent proprietor. The mansion contains many
family pictures and relics, amongst which may
be mentioned an original miniature portrait of
Shakspeare, the standard of Prince Charles
Edward, and original portraits of Charles L,
John Earl of Rochester, &c. There are be-
sides some fine pictures by ancient masters,
and a collection of armour.

GILLING CASTLE, co. York, the seat of
Charles Gregory Fairfax, Esq. To Alan
Fergaunt, Comte de Brittaine, the leader of
tlie van, of the Norman army, at Hastings,
who did his chieftain equally good service
at the siege of York, were granted no less
than one hundred and thirty-six manors, with
a brevity worthy the imitation of modern
conveyancing.

"Ego Gulielmus, cognomine Bastardus, do
et concedo tibi Alano, nepoti meo, Brittanise
comiti, et heredibus tuis in perpetuam-omnes
Mas villas et terras, quae nuper fuerunt comitis
Edwini in Eborascinia, cum foedis militum et
ecclesiis et aliis libertatibus et consuetudinis,
ita libere et honorifice sicut idem Edwinus
eadem tenuit."

Of this version the " dat in obsidione
coram civitate Ebor :" authenticity has
been questioned ; but admitting it not to
retail the precise words of William the
Conqueror's grant, it shows the quantity and
quality of Latin which in the days of our
fathers could convey a whole country.

(idling was at that period the capital of
Alan's newly acquired territory, and the chief
town of the North Riding. It had given
name to the two adjacent hundreds, and
although the descendants of Alan became
Earls of Richmond, and its neighbouring
castle the seat of his descendants, and the
origin of the name of Richmondshire, here
at Gilling was the original palace of the
earlier Counts of Brittain, and most probably
for the reason, that it stood newly built as



lately occupied by their predecessors Edwin,
and his native ancestors. But stormier
days came on, and the fortress of Rich-
mond Castle became ultimately their dwelling,
and the manor ceases to be mentioned other-
wise than as an appendage of the estate of
the Earls of Richmond.

In the time of Henry III., Gilling was settled
on the uncle of that monarch's consort, Peter
de Savoy. In the same reign, the neighbouring
Lordship of Walton was conveyed by Peter
Brus, Lord of Skelton, to the representative
of a Saxon family, settled anteriorly to the
Norman Conquest, at Torcester, co. North-
umberland, called from their golden locks,
(feax being Saxon for hair) Fairfeax, or Fair
fax. In the former place, his descendants
continued, becoming allied in the interim, to
the coheir of Bruce, till Thomas Fairfax,
living 23. Edward III., lord of the ma-
nor of Walton, married the heiress of Sir
Ivo de Etton, to whom the lordship of
Gilling had come. Notwithstanding this
alliance, his descendants in the direct line
(one of them was Lord Chief Justice of Eng-
land, temp, of our Sixth Henry) matching in
the intervening period with the blood of
Neville and Percy, continued to live at
Walton till the time of Henry VII., when
Sir Nicholas became (after a successful peti-
tion as heir to the families of Etton) Lord of
Walton and Gilling ; his grandson Sir Thomas
was by Charles I. created Viscount Fairfax
of Elmly, in Ireland. Nine of his de-
scendants enjoyed that title, until upon the
death, 1772, of Charles Gregory, tenth Vis-
count, the grandson of his sister Alathea
Fairfax (wife of Ralph Pigott, Esq., of Whitton,
Middlesex), Charles Gregory Pigott became
the representative of this ancient race, and
assumed the surname of its ancient lords.
This gentleman was father of Charles Gre-
gory Fairfax, Esq., the present Lord of
Gilling, who in 1837, married Mary B. Tas-
burgh, eldest daughter of Michael Tas-
burgh, Esq., of Bnrghwallis, co. York. Gil-
ling Castle, supposed to have been built
temp. Edward II., was partly remodelled
in the time of Elizabeth, and modern-
ised and enlarged by the addition of two
handsome wings by the last viscount.

The ancestor in the fifth degree of Sir
Thomas the first viscount, had a younger
brother, Sir Guy, from whom sprang Sir
Thomas, of Denton, a confidential agent of
Elizabeth to the Court of Scotland, of which
country he was made a peer, 1627, as Baron
Fairfax, of Cameron. He was grandfather of
the celebrated Parliamentary General,
Thomas, third Lord Fairfax, the successful
opponent of royalty at Naseby, who crowned
a series of victories, and the expulsion of
the king from Oxford, by the capture of
Ragland Castle, in Monmouthshire, llhh



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



95



August, 1 640, by which ho put an end to the
opposition of the royalists in England. An
insurrection in two years after was suppressed
by him with equal success, and the Castle of
Colchester, after a spirited exhibition of
gallantry for eleven weeks, was forced to
surrender, without terms of quarter, on the
28th August, in that year.

KILLYMAENLLWYD, Llanelly, Carmar-
thenshire, South Wales, the seat of John
Hughes Rees, or Rhys, Esq., a descendant of
Urien Rheged, Prince of Rheged, in Wales,
who was by birth a Cambro-Briton, and fifth
in descent from Coel Codevog, King of the
Britons. Mr. Rees is a magistrate and
deputy-lieutenant for the county of Carmar-
then, and was formerly lieutenant-colonel of
the local militia. In early life he served for
nearly six years in the navy, and was present
at the capture of the Dutch fleet in the
Holder, as well as at the battles of Camper-
down and Copenhagen. During the latter
engagement he was aboard the Ardent, the
second ship that led into action.

According to the real W'elsh orthography,
this place should be written Cil-y-maenllwyd,
that is the " seat or stone of the grey rock, 1 '
which appellation was probably derived from
a ridge of dark rock which arose from the
sands below the house. In 1G78 it would
seem that this seat was possessed by James
Phillips, Esq., so at least we learn from the
Golden Grove manuscripts. He was a de-
scendant of Kadivor-fawr, — the great, or
glorious — of Blaenkych, Lord of Dyfed.

In the year 1700, this property fell into
the hands of the Donnes, descendants of
Meurig, King of Dyfed. With this family
the Rees intermarried, and thus became
proprietors of Killyinaenllwyd, of which
they still retain possession in the present
day.

Notwithstanding this minuteness of detail
as regards descent, it is not known at what
time, or by whom, this mansion was erected,
though probably at a remote period; for the
front portion had of late become so dilapi-
dated that the present Mr. Rees found
himself obliged to pull it down and rebuild
it. The structure now presents the ap-
pearance of a comfortable, double-roofed
mansion, substantially erected, and well
suited to the wants and habits of a gentle-
man of fortune. It stands upon an emi-
nence that slopes down gradually to the
sea-shore. Through the grounds, at some-
what more than a quarter of a mile distance
runs the South Wales Railway communica-
ting between the towns of Swansea and Car-
marthen. The ground thus occupied lies
between the seaport towns of Llanelly, and
the harbour of Burry Port. At the back
and at the sides the house is well protected



from the winds by plantations of fir, elm, and
various other kinds of trees. In front it has
an open prospect, looking down upon the
Burry River with its numerous shipping,
across which, at about three miles off, lies the
coast of Gower, in Glamorganshire. Beyond
this the view extends to that most remarkable
feature in the Bristol Channel,— the Worm's
Head, a name said to have been given to
it by sailors from its peculiar appearance
when seen from the westward. It has then,
they fancy, the semblance of a monstrous sea-
serpent rising from the deep, a delusion
which certainly vanishes when seen from the
land. To get to this Head it is necessary to
traverse a honey -combed and slippery cause-
way ; then a second, four hundred yards in
length, of pointed volcanic rocks, as sharp as
needles, terminating in the Devil's Bridge, to
cross which, especially in rough weather,
requires good nerves. The Head is now
reached, and is found to rise on the north
side three hundred feet perpendicularly above
the sea, and to present a very singular con-
formation. If all be true that is said, it is
perforated at its western extremity by a
cavern three hundred yards long, and as
large as a church — a rather indefinite mode
of measurement — into which during a pro-
found calm a certain William Benson once
rowed a boat with three adventurous visitors,
the only person, who within the recollection
of man had ever ventured to explore its
recesses. There can be little doubt, how-
ever, of this being the same cave that Leland
speaks of in the reign of Henry VIII.
" There is also a wonderful hole at the poynte
of Worine Heade ; but few dare enter into
it, and men fable there that a dore withein
the spatius hole hathe be sene withe great
nayles on it ; but that is spoken of waters
there rennynge under the ground is more
likely."

A no less point for curiosity in the Head,
is a narrow cleft called the Blow Hole, about
a foot long and tbree-quarters-of-an-inch
wide, upon the hill-side at the place where
the cavern is supposed to terminate. The
air, being driven upwards by the force of the
waves below, bursts through the opening as
throughan organ-pipe with a noise of thunder.
The people of the neighbourhood go so far
as to say that when there is a ground-swell
before a storm, the sound may be heard seven
miles inland, and they call the Blow Hole the
" Rhosilly barometer," as indicating the ap-
proach of tempests. Other curiosities are to
be found either here, or in its immediate
neighbourhood ; but we have already strayed
too far, and absented ourselves too long from
Killyinaenllwyd, to which, therefore, we now
return.

The Worm's Head, as was before observed,
forms one of the more distant prospects from



%



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



the house. Nearer in front of it expands
Carmarthen Bay, the largest bay in this
channel, and which affords good anchorage
for shipping ; while Caldy Island forms a
natural breakwater against all but easterly
winds.

But though Killymaenllywd has been
possessed by the family of liees for several
generations, their original residence was at
Llechdwnny, in the neighbourhood of Kid-
welly, or, as it is more properly written,
Cydweli. In those days they bore the name
of Bowen, or Ab Owen, as being descended
frem Owen, the second son of Griffyth ab
Nicholas, of Dynevor, who was uncle of the
celebrated Sir Bees ap Thomas.



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