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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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flats, flanked by a semi-round tower. There
is no appearance of any bastion at the north-
eastern angle ; but a little beyond the angle
are the remains of Brackenbury's Tower
(named either from the service of castleward
by which that family held their lands, or
from an officer of the name.)



ERCHLESS CASTLE, co. Inverness, the seat
of The Chisholm, chief of that ancient clan,
is a fine, lofty, turretted building. It is said
to have been bnilt towards the beginning of the
fifteenth century, before Erchless was added
to The Chisholm's possessions, but hy whom
is not well known. It was originally con-
structed in the old Scotch fashion, and ap-
pears to have consisted of a square block of
buildings, having a square tower on one of
the angles, which contains the staircase and
entrance, and having small turrets extending
about half-way down the walls, shaped like
" pepper-boxes." The additions have been
carried out much in the same style, except
the introduction of the oriel windows in the
large rooms, to suit the taste of the present
day. The castle is situated a few miles from
the east end of Strathglass, known as The
Chisholm Country, which extends many mfles
in a south-west direction. Erchless Castle is
about nineteen miles from Inverness, and
nine from Beauly. The grounds immediately
about and on the north side of the castle are
well wooded, and there are several large
trees of great beauty, among which are some
of the remains of the old Caledonian forest.
Besides a considerable quantity of natural
timber, there have been upwards of 1000 acres
in the neighbourhood of Erchless planted
within the last forty years with larch, elm, ash,
beach, plane-tree, Scotch fir, chesnut, &c,
which are now hi a most flourishing condi-

The estates of Chisholm are now very ex-
tensive, and are situated in four different pa-
rishes ; viz., Kilmorack, Kiltarlity, Urray,
and Kintail, and the lands extend from near
Beauly for upwards of fifty miles through
Strathglass, with the exception of being oc-
casionally intercepted by portions of the
Lovat property for the first twelve or thirteen
miles, and comprehend the whole of Glen-
cannich, Glenaftiie, and part of Glenurquhart,
which are remarkable not only for beauty of
scenery, but excellent grazing qualities. On
the Rivers Cannich and Aftric are several fine
lakes of many miles hi length ; the principal
of these are Loch Benivian and Loch Affaric
in Glenaffrick, and Lochmulardoch in Glen-
cannich. The scenery of these lakes is of
singular grandeur, and probably, in this re-
spect, unequalled by any in Scotland. There
are several mountains hi GlenafFric andGlen-
cannich, but the highest is Maumsoul in Glen-
auric, which is nearly 4000 feet above the
level of the sea. A fine view of these exten-
sive glens is obtained from this mountain.

Strathglass may vary from a mile and a half
to two miles in breadth, having a ridge of
mountains of moderate height on each side,
and is thus described in the Statistical Account
of Scotland, published in 1842 : — " Few places
in the Highlands of Scotland can vie with

Strathglass in romantic beauty and grandeur.
The black and barren appearance of the
towering mountains on either side, although
happily relieved in many places by the ap-
pearance of a considerable quantity of birch,
hazel, and natural fir, contrasts well with the
fertility aud loveliness of the smiling vale
below, through which the River Glass gently
wends its serpentine course over a bed of
purest sand, glistening like a silver thread in
the light of a summer sun, and ever and anon
concealed from view by the intervening foli-
age of a fringe of alder, mountain ash, and
weeping birch, by which its banks are orna-
mented. So gently, indeed, does the river
flow in many places that a current is scarcely
at all perceptible, and its unrippled surface
reflects, as from a mirror, the gaunt and hoary
rocks which overlook it, and which seem as
if placed sentry there for the purpose of
preserving the peaceful and rustic scene be-
low from the assault of conflicting elements
or the intrusion of unhallowed strife. This
romantic Strath aflbrds great attraction to
tourists, many of whom visit it in the sum-
mer season."

The River Glass, after winding its course
clown Strathglass, falls rapidly into the
Dhruim, a place much admired for its ro-
mantic scenery. In several places, rocks
ascend to a considerable height — some of
them assuming a conical shape in the centre
of the river. On both sides of the river, in
its progress through the Dhruim, the moun-
tains are very steep and rugged, but the
great quantity of weeping birch by which
nature has so elegantly clothed their other-
wise harsh appearance, gives a charm to the
whole scene which altogether forms a fit sub-
ject for the strain of the poet and visit of the
tourist. The public road through the Dhruim
is at a considerable height above the bed of
the river, and commands a fine view to the
traveller. Further down are the falls of
Kilmorack, on the Lovat property, which,
although very romantic, are destitute of a
great deal of the grandeur and loveliness of
the Dhruim.

Portions of the grounds of Erchless and
Glencannich have lately been converted into
deer forests, to which purpose they are ad-
mirably well adapted. Of this, ample proof
is afforded in the large stock of deer which
is already on the grounds. There is a fine
profusion of game on the property, which
consists of deer, blackcock, and muir game,
ptarmigan, woodcock, snipe, hare, &c. ; while
in the lakes are found ducks, swans, wild
geese, and fishes in abundance. In several
places traces of lead and iron mines are dis -

At Erchless stands a very neat church in
connection with the Established Church of
Scotland, which was built by the late Chis-



holm shortly before his death, and this church
now forms one of the preaching stations
of a missionary, paid partly by The Chisbolm
and some of the other heritors, and partly by
the Committee on the Royal Bounty. The
late Chisholm was much esteemed, not only
for his exemplary piety, but for his zealous
support of the cause of Protestantism. He
was twice elected Member of Parliament for
the county of Inverness, and continued to
discharge his parliamentary duties until the
year 1838, when declining health rendered
it necessary for him to resign his seat. He
died shortly thereafter at an early age, and
was buried at Erchless, in a lovely romantic
spot a little above the Parliamentary Road,
the favourite scene of his frequent retire-
ment for meditation during his life, and which
was duly consecrated to be his resting-place
in death. It is said an old castle at one time
stood on this spot. A very tasty and hand-
some monument of Aberdeen granite has been
erected to his memory by his brother, the
present Chisholm.

MEER HALL, in the county of Worcester,
the seat of Edward Bearcroft, Esq. This es-
tate was possessed by the Bearcrofts, in lineal
male descent, from 1337 — and probably from
a period long anterior — up to the year 1 822,
when it passed into the female line, whose
heirs assumed thename and arms of Bearcroft.

Meer Hall was built by Thomas Bear-
croft, in 1337, the tenth year of Edward the
Third's reign. It is a half-timbered man-
sion, approached by a fine avenue of elms,
with a wooded hill behind, forming a pic-
turesque back-ground. The front is distin-
guished by a succession of gables, two
larger ones forming the wings, and live of
less size the body of the building. In the
centre is a clock, and rising high above the
roof is an octagon turret, surmounted by a
gilt ball. "Within are some tine specimens
of oak-carving.

In the great civil war, the Bearcroft of the
day had the ill-luck to make himself some-
what too conspicuous in behalf of royalty.
The consequence was, that Cromwell's troop-
ers took possession of his house, converting
the hall into stables, and applying the rest
to purposes for which they were most cer-
tainly never intended by the original
builcler. Being set down, in the phrase of
the triumphant party, for an inveterate and
confirmed malignant, he was heavily fined,
and his name still appears in the catalogue of
those who were obliged to compound for
their estates.

COBHAM HALL, co. Kent, the seat of the
Earl of Darnley. — In the reign of King John,
the village of Cobeham, one of the prettiest in
the pleasant land of Kent, gave name to a fa-

mily ,which Philipott styles, "noble and splen-
did," and which was, according to the same
quaint historian, " the cradle or seminary of
persons, who, in elder ages, were invested in
places of as signall and principal a trust or
eminence, as they could move in, in the
narrow orbe of a particular county." Bray-
ley records, that the first who acquired this
estate, and took the name, which became so
illustrious to his descendants, was Henry de
Cobham, one of the " Recognitores Magnas
Assizse," to whom William Quatre-Mere, a
Norman soldier, assigned the lordship, 1 King
John. The grantee, eminent in his day as
a faithful adherent of royalty, left three sons,
John, Reginald, and AVilliam, who all seem
to have become distinguished by their know-
ledge of the laws. The two youngest acted
as justices itinerant, the second holding,
besides, the important offices of Constable of
Dover Castle, and Lord Warden of the Cinque
Ports ; and, the eldest, who succeeded to the
rich demesne of Cobham, adorned the judicial
bench, as one of the Judges of the Common
Pleas. By two wives, the John de Cobham
was father of three sons, from the youngest
of whom sprang the Cobhams of Starborough
Castle, in Surrey. The eldest, John de
Cobham, adopting his father's learned pro-
fession, also attained the ermine, and for
several years of the reigns of Henry
III. and his immediate successor, sat
with great honour as a Baron of the Ex-
chequer. At his decease in 1300, the feudal
mansion of Cobham devolved on his son,
John de Cobham, who embarked with the
first Edward in his victorious expedition into
Scotland, and was knighted, together with
three other Kentish gentlemen of his name,
for services at the siege of Caerlaverock. He
was also promoted to many offices of trust,
the Lieutenancy of Dover Castle, and the
Wardenship of the Cinque Ports, and had
summonses to Parliament as a Baron, 6
Edward. II. The direct male line terminated
with this gallant soldier's grandson, John third
Lord Cobham, who achieved martial fame in
the wars of Edward. III., and gained beside
more peaceful distinction by his foundation
of Cobham College. His lordship's death
occurred in 1407, when his ample inheritance
passed to his granddaughter, Joan, the
daughter of John de Cobham, by her husband,
Sir John de la Pole. This richly-endowed
heiress was married no less than five times,
1st to Sir Robert Hermandale, 2dly to Sir Re-
ginald Braybrooke, 3dly to Sir Nicholas Haw-
beck, 4thly to Sir John Oldcastle, and 5thly
to Sir Johnllarpenden. She had issue by all
her husbands, but the last, yet all her chil-
dren died young, with the exception of Joan,
(her youngest child by Sir Reginald Bray-
brooke), who became eventual heiress, and
marrying Sir Thomas Brooke, of Brooke,



Somersetshire, knight, of good landed pro-
perty, " knitt Cobham and a large income
to her husband's patrimony." We cannot
here omit a passing reference to the ill-
fated Sir John Oldcastle, the fourth lord
of the fair Lady of Cobham. In 1409, he
received, jure uxoris, summons to Parlia-
ment as a baron, and for four years after,
resided at his wife's magnificent seat, dis-
pensing good to all around him, until the
reign of Henry V., when attaching himself
to the Lollards, the first sect of reformers
that arose in England, he became obnoxious
to the chiefs of the church, and eventually
laid down his life in maintenance of his
principles, being burnt at the stake in 1417.
Of this celebrated personage, Horace Wal-
pole gives a flattering character : " The first
author, as well as the first martyr, among
our nobility, was Sir John Oldcastle, called
1 the good Lord Cobham ;' a man whose
virtues made him a reformer, whose valour
made him a martyr, whose martyrdom made
him an enthusiast. His ready wit and
brave spirit appeared to great advantage on
his trial." Reverting to Joane, Lady Brooke,
the heiress of the lands of Cobham, we find
her husband summoned to Parliament in
that barony, twenty-eight years after the
unhappy Oldcastle's death ; and we read in
history that he bravely sustained the glory
of the name. A stanch adherent of the
White Rose, he fought under the Yorkist
banner at the victory of St. Alban's, and
commanded at Northampton the left wing
of the Yorkshiremen. No less than ten
sons and four daughters were the fruit of
the union of Brooke aud Cobham, as appears
from a sumptuous tomb still standing in
beautiful preservation, in the centre of the
venerable church of Cobham. It is of white
marble, adorned with the effigies of the
knight and dame, and supported on either
side, by the figures of five of the sons,
kneeling ; and on the east and west ends, by
those of the four daughters. Of this nume-
rous family three sons* only left issue. The
eldest, John Brooke, Lord Cobham, a dis-
tinguished soldier under Edward IV., was
great-grandfather of William, Baron Cob-
ham, Warden of the Cinque Ports, who en-
tertained Queen Elizabeth at Cobham Hall,
in the first year of her reign, with a noble
welcome, as she took her progress through
the county of Kent. By his royal mistress
his lordship was highly esteemed, and for
his eminent services as Ambassador to the
Low Countries, and afterwards to Don
John of Austria, received the Insignia of

* The second son, Reginald, was seated at Aspall, in
the county of Suffolk, and is now represented by Francis
Capper Brooke, Esq., of Ufford Place, near Woodbridge.
The descendants of the youngest son, Hugh, became
settled at Glastonbury Abbey and Barrow Grove, in the
county of Somerset.

the Garter, the Custody of Dover Castle,
and the dignified office of Lord Chamberlain.
He died in 1596, having, by will, directed
the erection and endowment of a new college,
on the site of that founded by his ancestor
in 1362.

His eldest son Henry, Lord Cobham, suc-
ceeded his father as Lord Warden of the
Cinque Ports ; but in the reign of James I.,
being arraigned with his brother, George
Brooke, for participation in the alleged
treason of Sir Walter Raleigh, he was found
guilty and condemned to death, — George
Brooke, however, alone suffered. Lord Cob-
ham, by a false and dastardly confession,
which proved the ruin of the illustrious
Raleigh, procured his own pardon, and sullied
for ever the honoured name which he bore.
For many years, reduced to the greatest
misery and want, he dragged on a despised
existence, and at last sank into an humble
grave* — far away from the proud resting
place of his noble and gallant ancestors : so
deplorable was his condition, that Weldon
says he would have " starved, had not a
trencher-scraper, sometime his servant at
court, relieved him with scraps ;" and Sir
Dudley Carleton relates that he "died
in a state of filth, for want of apparel and
linen, his wife, the Lady Cobham, though
very rich, refusing him even the crumbs
from her table." The plot in which Henry,
Lord Cobham, and his brother, the Hon.
George Brooke were involved, is known as
the " Raleigh conspiracy," and amongst the
principal actors appear the Lord Grey of
Wilton, Sir George Carew, and other persons
of eminence. Lord Cobham seems to have
been not many degrees removed from a fool,
but enjoying the favour of the queen, he was
a fitting tool in the hands of his more wily
associates. That an intimacy existed be-
tween him and his illustrious victim admits
of no doubt, and " it is more than probable
[we quote from an elegant writer of the
present dayf ] that the old hall of Cobham
was often the home of Sir Walter Raleigh,
when distinguished as ' the noble and valor-
ous knight.' It is grievous to think that so
great a ' worthy' should have been sacrificed
to the pitiful cowardice of ' so poor a soul 1 as
the last of the Cobhams— the degenerate

* Henry, Lord Cobham, left m issue : but his brother,
the Hon." George Brooke, was father of a ton, William,
restored in blood but not in estate, wiio had two daugh-
ters, the elder inarrit d to Sir John Denham, the p et,
and the younger, to Sit William Boothby, Bart., of
Broadlov Ash. To these ladies, notwithstanding the
attainder, the king granted the precedence of a baron's
daughter. From the lion. Margaret Brooke, Lord Cob-
hani's sister, who wedded Sir Thomas ;-o:;des, Knt,
derived Christiana Leveson, the wife of Sir Peter Temple,
of Stowe, and grandmother of Sir Richard Temple,
created Baron and Viscount Cobham, titles still enjoyed
by the Duke of Buckingham.

t S. C. Hall.



soion of a munificent and valorous race."
After the attainder of the imbecile Cobham,
an Act of Parliament was passed to confirm
his possessions to the crown, and under it
James I. granted, in the tenth year of his
reign, Cobham Hall with the surrounding
estates, then valued at £7000 per annum, to
his kinsman, Lodovick Stuart, Duke of Len-
nox. That nobleman, though thrice married,
left no child, and was succeeded by his only
brother, Esme Stuart, Lord Aubigny, who
survived the inheritance but one year. His
wife was Catherine, dau. and heir of Gervas
Lord Clifton, of Leighton Bromswold, and
by her he had a son, James Duke of Lennox
and Richmond, K.G-., father of Esme, Duke
of Lennox and Richmond, who died in
France in 1GG0, aged about ten, when his
titles and estates, including of course the
manor of Cobham, devolved on his cousin-
german, Charles Stuart, Earl of Lichfield,
K.G , who died at Elsinore, in Denmark, hi
1672, while ambassador to that court.* The
Lady Katharine, his sister and heiress, who
became afterwards in right of her grand-
mother, Baroness Clifton, married twice :
her first husband, Henry Lord O'Brien, was
heir of the princely house of Thomond, and
her second, Sir Joseph Williamson, one of
the principal secretaries of state. The latter
gentleman purchased the manor of Cobham,
which the debts of the last Duke of Rich-
mond and Lennox forced to be sold, and
there resided until his decease. That event
occurred in 1701. By his will, he devised
two-thirds of his estates to his widow, and
the remaining third to a Mr. Hornsby. The
former portion devolved, at the death of
Lady Katharine, the November following,
on her grandson, Edward Lord Cornbury
(only son of Edward Hyde, Earl of Claren-
don, by Catherine his wife, dau. and heir of
Henry Lord O'Brien), and eventually at that
young nobleman's demise in 1713, passed to
his sister, Lady Theodosia Hyde, who, the
year after, wedded John Bligh, Esq., M.P.,
and conveyed her share of the Cobham
estates to that gentleman, who was after-
wards created Earl of Darnley. The re-
maining third of the property gave rise to
tedious litigation, but the suit was at last
compromised, and the whole became vested
in the Bligh family. It now forms part of
the possessions of John Stuart Bligh, tenth
and present Earl of Darnley.

The park and woods extend over a con-
siderable space, and many of the trees,
especially the old oaks and Spanish chestnuts,
are of large girth, and of very picturesque
appearance : of these the most remarkable
is the chestnut tree known by the name of

* At his Grace's decease, the Dukedom of Le.mox
devolved upon Charles II., as nearest collateral heir male,
and his majesty was served heir 6th July, 1G80.

"the four sisters," which measures more than
thirty feet in circumference, and has been
well delineated in Mr. Strutt's work. The
avenue leading to the village consists of four
rows of lofty limes, and presents one of the
finest remaining specimens of the old style
of ornamental planting. The mansion itself
is a splendid relic of Tudor architecture.
Charles, the last Duke of Richmond and
Lennox, added to the ancient structure a
centre building, of which Inigo Jones was
the architect, but the two wings it connects
are of earlier date, having been erected by
William, Lord Cobham, in 1582. The late
Lord Darnley spared neither time nor ex-
pense in restoring the character of this noble
inheritance. The picture gallery is one of
great interest, rich in the works of Titian,
Rubens, Guido, Salvator Rosa, and Van-

The church of Cobham, in Kent, it is
well known, contains the finest series of
monumental brasses (the memorials of the
Cobhams and Brookes) that remain hi any
church in England.

We have thought that a description of
these brasses might not be uninteresting;
more especially as we are not aware of any
work of common occurrence in which a cor-
rect account of them may be found.

The chief series lie in double row across
the pavement of the chancel. Twelve brasses
remain, one being entirely lost ; the figures
generally are in a good state of preservation,
but the canopies with which nearly all were
originally enriched, are, with one or two ex-
ceptions, much mutilated. Some few years
ago, these brasses, fortunately, attracted the
attention of a learned society, or of some
antiquaries (we forget the precise parti-
culars), and much was done to them ; not a
jot, nor a tittle, however, in the way of
"restoration," as that term is sometimes un-
derstood. Proceeding in a manner far more
judicious, search was made for the portions
that had been removed, and those found were
exactly replaced ; the whole of the slabs,
apparently, were covered with a composition
in imitation of blue marble, while the
matrices of the parts that could not be re-
covered, were filled up with a greenish yellow
substance, so that we are at once enabled to
form a clear idea of the appearance of the
brasses when perfect.

We may observe that all the knights,
except the latest, are clad in mixed armour
of mail and plate; the lions upon which
their feet rest are emblematic of courage,
as the dogs at the feet of most of the ladies
are of fidelity; they are also distinctive
marks of a recumbent posture. The figures,
generally, are about five feet in height.

Commencing at the south-east corner of
the upper row, the first brass, now headless,




is that of Sir John de Cobham, 1354, the
earliest of the knightly effigies in the church.
This memorial is valuable on account of the
rarity of brasses of this class, between about
1330 and 1360. Of a fine single canopy,
and of the inscription, parts only are left.
This Sir John de Cobham was familiarly
known as the Young Constable, from having
early in life held the office of Constable of
Rochester Castle.

The next brass, of which the figure is all
that remains, is that of Margaret de Cobliam,
wife of Reginald de Cobham, Lord Warden
of the Cinque Ports, and dates about 1375.
The lady wears the low dress sideless at the
waist, then recently come into fashion, which
is also slit up at the sides of the skirt ; un-
derneath is the kirtle with tight sleeves,
having rows of buttons on the under side ;
her head-dress is that variety of the reticu-
lated, which has been termed the ncbule
form. In the engraving in Boutell's " Monu-
mental Brasses of England," the inscription
belonging to the next brass is erroneously
given to this.

Of the legend of the next brass, just
sufficient remains to inform us that it com-
memorates Maude de Cobham, who was wife
of Sir Henry de Cobham. The dress con-
sists of the kirtle, which has a broad flounce
of fur at the feet, and is partly buttoned up
at the front ; over it is worn the mantle,
fastened in the usual manner ; the head-dress
is of the same type as the last, but of the
zig-zag variety. Fragments of a single
canopy remain. Date c. 1380.

The third lady, Margaret de Cobham, wife
of Sir John de Cobham, of whom we shall
next have to speak, has suffered very little
from mutilation : the fine single canopy,
having for its finial a figure of the Blessed
Virgin and Child, the former crowned and
holding a sceptre, is quite perfect, and but a
small portion of the marginal inscription is
lost. On either side of the arch of the
canopy is a shield of arms. The costume is
very similar to that of Maude de Cobham ;
the head, the coiffure of which is of the

Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 32 of 73)