Bernard Burke.

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

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Wordsworth, in a note to one of his poems :

" It was exceedingly delightful to enter
thus unexpectedly upon such a beautiful
region. The castle stands nobly, overlook-
ing the Clyde. When we came up to it, I
was hurt to see that flower-gardens had
taken place of the natural overgrowings
of the ruin, the scattered stones, and wild
plants. It is a large and grand pile of red
freestone, harmonizing perfectly with the
rocks of the river, from which, no doubt, it
has been hewn. When I was a little accus-
tomed to the unnaturalness of a modern gar-
den, I could not help admiring the excessive
beauty and luxuriance of some of the plants,
particularly the purple-flowered clematis, and
a broad-leafed creeping plant, without flowers,
■which scrambled up the castle wall, along
with the ivy, and spread its vine -like
branches so lavishly, that it seemed to be in
its natural situation, and one could not help
thinking that, though not self planted among
the ruins of this country, it must somewhere
have its native abode in such places. If
Bothwell Castle had not been close to the
Douglas' mansion, we should have been dis-
gusted with the possessor's miserable con-



ception of adorning such a venerable ruin ;
but it is so very near to the house that, of
necessity, the pleasure-grounds must have
extended beyond it, and perhaps the neatness
of a shaven lawn, and the complete desola-
tion natural to a ruin, might have made an
unpleasant contrast ; and, besides being
within the precincts of the pleasure-grounds,
and so very near to the dwelling of a noble
family, it has forfeited in some degree its in-
dependent majesty, and becomes a tributary
to the mansion ; its solitude being inter-
rupted, it has no longer the command over
the mind in sending it back into past time,
or excluding the ordinary feelings which we
bear about us in daily life. We had then
only to regret that the castle and the house
were so near to each other ; and it was
impossible not to regret it ; for the ruin pre-
sides in state over the river, far from city or
town, as if it might have a peculiar privilege
to preserve its memorials of past ages, and
maintain its own character for centuries to
come. We sat upon a bench, under the high
trees, and had beautiful views of the different
reaches of the river, above and below. On
the opposite bank, which is finely wooded
with elms and other trees, are the remains of
a priory, built upon a rock ; and rock and
ruin are so blended that it is impossible to
separate the one from the other. Nothing
can be more beautiful than the little rem-
nant of this holy place; elm trees (for we
were near enough to distinguish them bv
their branches) grow out of the walls, and
overshadow a small but very elegant win-
dow. It can scarcely be conceived what a
grace the castle and priory impart to each
other ; and the River Clyde flows on, smooth
and unruffled, below, seeming to my thoughts
more in harmony with the sober and stately
images of former times, than if it had roared
over a rocky channel, forcing its sound upon
the ear. It blended gently with the warb-
ling of the smaller birds, and the chattering
of the larger ones that had made their nests
in the ruins. In this fortress the chief of
the English nobility were confined after the
battle of Bannockburn. If a man & to be a
prisoner, he scarcely could have a more
pleasant place to solace his captivity ; but I
thought that, for close confinement, I should
prefer the banks of a lake, or the sea-side.
The greatest charm of a brook or river, is
in the liberty to pursue it through its wan-
derings. You can then take it in whatever
mood you like ; silent or noisy, sportive or
quiet. The beauties of a brook or river
must be sought, and the pleasure is in going
in search of them ; those of a lake or of the
sea come to you of themselves. These rude
warriors cared little perhaps about either ;
and yet, if one may judge from the writings
of Chaucer, and from the old romances, more



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



115



interesting passions were connected with
natural objects in the days of chivalry than
now, — though going in search, as it has been
called, had not then been thought of. I had
previously heard nothing of Bothwell Castle
— at least nothing that I remembered ; there-
fore, perhaps, my pleasure was greater,
compared with what I received elsewhere,
than others might feel."

The scenery around Bothwell Castle does,
indeed, deserve all the lavish imagery of
the poet's description. The trees here grow
in beautiful luxuriance, and the Clyde, taking
a picturesque sweep, forms the semicircular
declivity so celebrated in Scottish song,
under the name of " Bothwell Bank."

" Oh Bothwell bank, thou bloomest fair ;
But ah, thou mak'st my heart fu' sair ;
For a' beneath thy woods sae green
My love and I wad sit at e'en,
While daisies and primroses, mixt
Wi' blue hells in my locks he fixt.
Oh, Bothwell bank," thou bloomest fair
But ah, thou mak'st my heart fu' sair.

" Sad he left me ae dreary day,
And haplie now sleeps in the clay ;
Without ae sigh his death to moan,
Without ae flow'r his grave to crown
Oh, whither is my lover gone ?
Alas, I fear he'll ne'er return
Oh, Bothwell bank, thou bloomest fair,
But ah thou mak'st my heart fu' sair."

Burns calls this a " modern thing of Pink-
erton's, which could never pass for old but
among the sheer ignorant." The poet's
taste and knowledge of the subject cannot
be doubted in a general way ; but upon the
present occasion there seems some reason
for withholding our assent to his judgment.
We find the first line, at all events, of the
song quoted in a pleasing anecdote told by
Verstegan, whose " Restitution of Decayed
Intelligence " was printed at Antwerp in
1605. It runs thus :— "So fell it out of late
years, that an English gentleman travelling
in Palestine, not far from Jerusalem, as he
passed through a country town, he heard by
chance a woman sitting at her door, dandling
her child, to sing ' Bothwell bank, thou
bloomest fair.' The gentleman hereat won-
dered, and forthwith in English saluted the
woman, who joyfully answered him, and seem-
ed right glad there to see a gentleman of our
isle; and told him that she was a Scottish
woman, and came first from Scotland to
Venice, and from Venice thither, where her
fortune was to be the wife of an officer under
the Turk ; who being at that instant absent,
and very soon to return, she entreated the
gentleman to stay there until his return.
The which he did ; and she, for country
sake, to show herself the more kind and
bountiful unto him, told her husband at his
home-coming that the gentleman was her
kinsman; whereupon her husband entertained



him very kindly, and at his departure gave
him divers things of good value."

The present mansion is a modern house,
of no distinct character of architecture.
It was originally built by the young
Earl of Forfar, who perished at the battle
of Sherifmuir, and stands upon a beau-
tiful lawn, at no great distance from the
ancient castle. But of this structure only
the wings remain, the rest, as we have
before observed, having been erected by
Archibald, first Lord Douglas of Douglas.

Lord Douglas also possesses Douglas
Castle, near Bothwell Castle, Lanarkshire.
The present building was commenced by
Archibald, Duke of Douglas, and continued
by his nephew and heir, Archibald, first
Lord Douglas of Douglas. It is in the
Gothic style of architecture, and, from its
proximity to Bothwell Castle, needs no
description of its scenery.

KING'S BEOMLEY MANOB, in the county
of Stafford, the seat of John Newton Lane,
Esq. This place, originally called King's
Brownlegge, derived its name from the circum-
stance of having belonged to the crown for two
centuries after the Norman Conquest. Be-
fore that time it had been distinguished as
the favourite abode of the Earls of Mercia,
and here it was that Leofric, the husband of
the celebrated Godiva, died in 1057. The
peculiar healthfulness of the situation seems
tohave been one of the principal causes of
this distinction, an instance of which is
given by Dr. Plot in his History of Stafford-
shire. In his pleasant gossiping way he tells
us that there was a Mary Cooper hi the
parish, who had seen her descendants to the
sixth generation ; and, what is more sur-
prising, all of them alive at the same time,
so that she could say to her daughter : " Rise,
daughter ; go to thy daughter, for thy
daughter's daughter hath got a daughter."

At a later period this estate passed suc-
cessively through the hands of the Corbets,
Praers, Patrichs, and Agards. The last
named sold it to the Newtons, from whom
it came to the family of the present posses-
sor, whose name has obtained an imperish-
able record from the share that the Lanes of
Bentley and Hyde had hi the escape of
Charles II., after the battle of Worcester :

" A pretty tale ; it may be you have heard it ;
But since it serves my purpose, I will venture
To scale 't a little more."

By six o'clock in the evening, the battle
of Worcester was lost; and if a desperate
struggle was still maintained in the streets of
the town by a few gallant royalists, it was
only with a view to affording Charles more
time for his escape. The king's own wishes
pointed to a refuge in London : his ad-



116



SEATS OF GHEAT BRITAIN.



herents more wisely persuaded him to fly-
northward, and northward the little party
speeded, with no very definite object, how-
ever, beyond immediate safety, till on Kinver
Heath they were brought to a stop by hun-
ger, weariness, and ignorance of the road, for
the night was pitch-dark. What was next
to be done ? Each had something to pro-
pose, but none could offer anything to the
purpose. At length the gallant Earl of
Derby suggested Boscobel — " an army,
sire, would search for you there in vain."
But how to get there, when none of the
king's advisers knew the road ? A Captain
Gifford stepped forward from the followers,
who stood respectfully at a distance, and
offered to be their guide ; an offer which,
after a brief discussion, was accepted. Their
flight now took a westernly direction, and
actually through the town of Stourbridge,
where, as they well knew, a troop of Parlia-
mentary dragoons was lying. This danger,
however, and many others, were safely passed
through, and they reached in safety White-
ladies, when, for the better safety of Charles,
the little party scattered in all directions,
leaving him to the guidance and honour of
the Giffords and the Earl of Derby, who
could not be brought to leave his master.

The humble but loyal Penderels were
next called in to aid the escape. The king
now had his flowing locks cut off, rubbed up
his hands on the chimney-back, with them
smeared his face, encased himself in a green
suit and leathern doublet, and, thus dis-
guised, found his way, under the guidance of
the Penderels, to Spring Coppice, a thick
wood forming part of the demesne, and ex-
tending up to the very gate of Boscobel. To
understand why this place was chosen of all
others, and how it came to afford such pe-
culiar chances of safety, a brief explanation
will be necessary.

In the reigns of Elizabeth and James I.,
the newness of the Reformation, and the
struggles of the Catholics to regain their old
ascendancy, occasioned the passing of many
rigid laws against them. It therefore be-
came an object with many of the leading
Catholics to provide secure hiding-places for
their priests and for themselves, if by the
discovery of their secret religious practices
they should incur the pains and penalties
attached to recusancy — a word in those days
of terrible significance. Such was the case
with John Gifford, of Chillington. Fore-
seeing the danger into which himself or his
friends might at any moment fall, he selected
for the place of his retreat a waste spot on
the border of two counties, not included in
any parish, free of all claims from its sur-
joining hundreds, and embosomed in dense
woods, the remains of primaeval forests. No
public road, no hamlet, not so much as a



cottage, was within some miles. Here he
built what, for the sake of disguise, he
called a hunting-seat, but which was a con-
venient abode, and provided abundantly with
the means of concealment and escape. A
house -warming dinner was then given by the
owner to a few of his Catholic friends, when
Sir Basil Brook, who was one of the invited
guests, proposed that the seat should be
called Boscobel, a name borrowed from the
Italian, and signifying the Beautiful Wood.

When the Civil War ended in the down-
fall of the royal cause, Boscobel, the original
refuge of Catholic priests, then became a
place of concealment for distressed cavaliers.
For this purpose Gifford trusted the keep ■
ing of the house to the Penderels, in whose
fidelity he considered — and, as the event
showed, with justice — he might implicitly
confide. With this necessary explanation
we now return to Charles, whom we left in
the so-called Spring Cojjpice.

It is said that on this day the rain was in-
cessant in the coppice, though in the neigh-
bourhood around it was fitful and intermit-
tent. This, though it added to the discom-
fort of Charles' situation, contributed not a
little to his safety ; for the adjacent parts
swarmed with Republican troops, in hot pur-
suit of the fugitive, who, on account of the
rain, made no search for a time in the cop-
pice.

It was now agreed that the king should
get across the Severn into the fastnesses of
Wales, whence escape into France would be
easy. But this scheme, though commenced,
was soon abandoned. While hiding in the
house of a Mr. Wolfe, he learned that the
passes of the Severn were all closely beset
by the Parliamentarians, who suspected
such might be the king's plan of escape ;
and now, having no alternative, he most un-
willingly returned to his old quarters in
Boscobel Wood. He was soon, however,
conducted to the house itself, where he
found another fugitive, the gallant Colonel
Carloss, who, according to the chronicler,
" saw the last man killed at Wor'ster."

No sooner was Charles sufficiently rested
and refreshed, than the Colonel, fearing that
the house might be searched by the vigilant
enemy, became pressing with him once more
to seek a shelter in the wood. Though little
inclined to abandon his comfortable retreat,
the king at length consented, and with his
adviser, climbed up, for better concealment,
into a leafy oak. Here, so worn out was he
by care and anxiety, he soon fell asleep,
with his head in the Colonel's lap, and thus
passed another day of doubt and suffering,
after which the withdrawal of the Parlia-
mentary troops from the immediate neigh-
bourhood allowed of his return into the
house itself.



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



117



We next find the king, after a renewed
and somewhat dangerous pilgrimage, in the
secret room at Mosely Hall, where, though
the place is visited by republican troopers,
he escapes detection. And now we come to
that part of his wanderings most in con-
nection with our present purpose, his arrival
at Bentley, where Colonel Lane duly instructs
the monarch in all the mysteries of the
stable, that he may be enabled to play the
part of a groom without suspicion. Being
taught as well as the shortness of the time
would admit, our royal groom mounts a
horse with Jane Lane's pillion behind him,
and boldly rides to the front door of
Bentley to take up his young mistress. In
doing this he offers a wrong hand, for which
he received much rebuke and ridicule from
old Mrs. Lane, who had not been entrusted
with the secret that in her daughter's groom
Jackson was Charles Stuart.

Many were the adventures of the dis-
guised prince while under the guidance of
Miss Lane, who evinced throughout a singu-
lar prudence and presence of mind. At
Long Marston our groom was of necessity
left for a time to his own management; for
to keep up his assumed character, he was
obliged, after having attended to the horses,
to take up his abode in the kitchen. Here
he was desired to wind up the jack, an
operation beyond his utmost skill, and was
forced, ingeniously enough, to soothe the
indignation of the cook by telling her he
was the son of one of Colonel Lane's poor
tenants, and never saw such a thing as meat
in the process of being roasted.

Riding through Bristol unobserved, they
came in safety to Abbot's Leigh, the seat of
Mr. Norton, and here adventures thronged
upon him. By way of procuring better food
and accommodation for Charles, Miss Lane
told the butler, whose name was Pope, that
her groom was just recovering from an
ague. Luckily this man was well-disposed ;
for he at once recognised the king, having
held some post in the royal household, when
Charles was Prince of Wales, and having be-
sides served as a soldier in the Civil War.
He, however, kept his oavu council, not even
informing Miss Lane of his discovery, but
provided, with as little noise as possible, for
the privacy and comfort of the fugitive.

The next morning, Will Jackson, in the
impatience of his appetite, sought the but-
tery, where one amongst the servants, who
had actually been at Worcester, was praising
the king with all the eagerness of a parti-
zan. The kitchen audience, highly inter-
ested by the man's tales, demanded what the
king was like. " Well," said the narrator,
" take him altogether, he is a deal like Will
Jackson, only he is at least two or three
fingers taller." Pope, alarmed at the turn



the conversation had taken, now spoke out
frankly to Miss Lane, and was henceforth
taken by her and Mr. Lascelles into council.
Trent House, in Somersetshire, the seat of
Colonel Wyndham, next received the wan-
derer. Here he remained in perfect safety
for many days, although in the very midst of
his enemies, and under circumstances not
very favourable to concealment. On the
20th of September several troopers who had
served in Cromwell's army at the battle of
Worcester, having been disbanded, returned
to their homes in the village, closely ad-
joining the mansion of Colonel Trent. The
villagers welcomed back their friends and
relations in the usual old English fashion.
The church bells were rung, bonfires blazed,
and the ale-tub was freely broached upon
the village green, and Charles, from the
window of his hiding place, could plainly
hear and see these republican rejoicings.
Nay, if he had believed his own ears, he
had been actually killed at Worcester, a
trooper swearing that he had done the deed
with his own hand, and producing a hand-
some buff coat which, as he said, he had
taken from the king's dead body.

Charles was now to leave Trent, on which
occasion the groom was elevated to a
bridegroom, the part of bride being under-
taken, at a short notice, by Miss Julianna
Coningsby, who sate on a pillion behind
the king. After a few hours passed at a
lone house amongst the hills near Char-
mouth, Captain Ellesdon conducted the party
to an inn in the town itself, where they in-
tended waiting for the bark that was to
carry off Charles to the continent. But
hour after hour passed, and still the ex-
pected boat came not. Had they been be-
trayed ? Colonel Ellesdon, when informed
of the delay, at once came to that conclu-
sion, and urged an immediate departure from
Charmouth. The fact was, however, that
the wife of the captain of the ship, who
ruled over her liege lord in undisputed so-
vereignty, and who had not been informed
of the project till the last minute, would by
no means allow of its being carried into
effect. To escape from his wife's opposi-
tion, the worthy captain hid himself in a
sea-chest, meaning to be carried aboard in it
by his sailors. But, alas for his good in-
tentions ! the wily Mrs. Limbry had some-
how got to a knowledge of his purpose,
and no sooner was he fairly in the chest,
than she locked it upon him — "Ibi omnis
effusus labor."

In the meanwhile, the king and his friends
arrived at Bridport. And at a most un-
lucky time did they arrive. The place was
full of Parliamentarian troops, on their way
to reduce the Channel Islands, which still
held out for the royal cause, although to do



118



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



so was evidently hopeless. With a boldness
which in this case was the utmost prudence,
the king entered the principal inn-yard,
with the lady behind him, amidst crowds
of sour-faced puritanical troopers, having
again simk into the character of a groom,
but with this difference : instead of being the
poor tenant's son, who seldom knew the
taste of roast meat, he was now the impudent
servant of a fashionable lady. To his sur-
prise, however, and anything but pleasure,
his acquaintance was somewhat abruptly
claimed by the ostler : " I'm sure I should
know your face." Charles, in his turn, in-
quired where his new friend had heretofore
resided ; to which he received for reply,
" At an inn in Exeter, near one Mr. Pot-
ter's." This was not particularly encou-
raging ; for Charles, while Prince of Wales,
had made a considerable stay there with his
staff, during the civil war. But, without
changing countenance, the king said, with
much readiness, " Oh, I lived with Master
Potter above a year, but I can't say I re-
member you." Delighted with this recog-
nition, the ostler proposed a pot of beer, to
which it may easily be believed Charles
did not venture a denial.

It was now deemed necessary by the royal
counsellors that the king should return to
Trent, an advice which they would yet more
have insisted on, had they known what had
passed at Charmouth after their departure.
The ostler there was an old Roundhead
soldier, who had conceived strong doubts of
the supposed run-away bride and her bride-
groom, though he perhaps entertained no
idea of the latter being actually the king in
person. His suspicions were further con-
firmed by the farrier, who declared that the
shoes then upon the horse's feet had been
put on in three several counties, one of
which was Worcester. He accordingly
communicated his suspicions to his mistress.
Perhaps she guessed even more truly than he
had done. At all events, she rebuked him for
meddling in what did not concern him, and
abruptly ordered him to mind his own
business. But the ostler was not to be so
satisfied. He carried his doubts to the
house of the puritanical minister, to whom
such tidings would be full sure welcome.
But fortunately the pious man had begun
his morning family exercise, an office in
which he never allowed himself, on any ac-
count, to be interrupted, and thus the fugi-
tives gained time while escaping from an
imaginary peril, to shun one of which they
had not the least suspicion.

The morning exercise over, and the
preacher finding time to listen to the ostler's
story, affairs took another turn. No sooner
had he heard the talc, than he jumped to a
right conclusion, which lie hastened to con-



vey to a Captain May, who commanded the
nearest piquet, and who instantly set out
with his troop for Bridport ; and there
learning the further course of the fugitives
he followed almost close upon their heels.

Luckily for the fugitives, they had, from
mere caprice, left the main road at a
short distance from Bridport, and were
thus travelling up a bye-lane to the left,
without any particular object, while the
captain galloped straight for Dorchester,
under the idea that they were travelling to
London. At this point, of course, he lost all
traces of them.

Having lost Mrs. Lane for some time, the
further details of Charles' flight would seem
perhaps to be out of place. It will be
enough, then, to state generally that he went
to Broad Windsor, back again to Trent
House, to Hale House, to Hambledon, in
Hampshire, to Brighton, and to the neigh-
bouring town of Shoreham, whence Charles
embarked in safety for the continent.

To return to King's Bromley, the resi-
dence of the ancient family of the Lanes, who
as we have just seen, played so important a
part in the escape of the defeated monarch, so
completely borne down by the genius and
good fortune of Oliver Cromwell.

King's Bromley, which is of the Italian
order of architecture, with a flue Ionic por-
tico, is situated in a deer park on the banks .
of the river Trent, the centre, such as we
now see it, having been built in 1 670, by Mr.
Newton. The rest of the edifice belongs to
an anterior, but uncertain, period. Within
is a very fine library and a valuable collection
of pictures, amongst which shouldbe more par-



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 26 of 73)