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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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tion was bought by James Gardyne, Esq.,
of Middleton, whose estate it bounded;
and the other, including the mansion-house,
was purchased by Robert Pierson, Esq., of
Balmodies, advocate, whose property joined
it on the other side, and who made it his
place of residence. His sou, James Pierson,
Esq., sold it in 17G8, to James Mudie, Esq.,
grand-uncle of the present owner. The
family of Pierson is now represented by
James Alexander Pierson, Esq., of the
Guynd, an elegant mansion situated on the
west bank of the Elot, or Eliot, in the parish
of Carmylie.

The name of Pitmuies is supposed to have
originated from the result ot a conflict be-
tween the Danes and the natives in the time
of Malcolm II. After being defeated at
Carnoustie, in the parish of Barry, the for-
mer retired northward, and were overtaken
here ; and in the contest which ensued, ac-
cording to tradition, one of their chiefs fell.
A mound and field still bear the names re-
spectively of the Dane's Grave, and the
Dane's Eield ; but whether these have been
handed down from remote antiquity, or have
been applied to them in more recent times,
is uncertain. A rude stone cross is still
standing on another part of the estate, which
is also attributed, but perhaps erroneously,
to the same period. At all events, the sylla-
ble Pit, which occurs so frequently in Scotch
names, is understood to mark the grave of
some man of note in Celtic tunes, and hi this
case it may have been bestowed by his ene-
mies, to record the fate of the fallen North-
man. Many similar traditions and monu-
ments occur in other parts of the county.

A trace of a much earlier invader is found
in a Roman Denarius, turned up in a field some
years ago. It bears on the obverse the head
of Domitian, with the inscription, " Domi-
tianus, Csesar Aug.," and on the reverse a
man on horseback, with the letters " Cos.
IIII.," only legible.

Querns of very rude form have been found
at different times.

The House of Pitmuies was, it may be
conjectured, built about 1643, at which time
David Ogilvy was the proprietor of the
estate. So much at least seems to be indi-
cated by the date upon the inscribed stone
already mentioned. It has, however, been
much altered and enlarged by subsequent
proprietors. It stands upon a level from
which there is a gradual slope to the banks
of the Pinny. This stream, called Pinny,
(probably from Fin, clear, and ey, rivulet),
joins the Lunan about two miles lower



down. The vale through which they both
flow was formerly called Strathbeg — the
little valley as distinguished from Strathmore
— the Great Vale, from which it branches off
at Forfar. The House stands on a lawn of
about ten acres, and is surrounded by woods
of some extent. The situation is rather
low, as is generally the case with houses
of the same date, when prospects were
not much regarded ; and indeed they are
often found with the finest views of the
distant hills shut out as if on purpose.



WYNNSTAY, Denbighshire, North Wales,
the seat of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn,
Bart., M.P. for this county, and steward of
the manors of Bromfield and Yale. At a
very early period this place was possessed
by Madog ap Gryffyd Maelor, the founder
of the abbey of Valle Cruris, the Vale of the
Cross. It was then, or subsequently, known
as Wafs-stay, from its position upon the
ancient earthwork called Wat's Dyke, which
intersects the grounds. On the heiress of
the property, a daughter of Eyton Evans,
marrying Sir John Wynn, the new possessor
enclosed a great part of the grounds in the
year 1678, with a stone wall, formed the deer
park, and changed the name to Wynn-stay.
The boundary of the grounds is said to ex-
tend to eight miles. It should, however, be
observed, that the original patronymic of
the present family was Williams. They
deduce their pedigree from Cadrod Hardd (a
powerful chieftain of Anglesea in the tenth
century), and in the female line from Owen
Gwynedd, Sovereign Prince of North Wales,
wdio died in 1169.

Wynnstay is a work of various
periods, the most ancient portion of the
House being the entrance, of wood and
plaster; it bears the date of 1616. The
house presents a long range of budding, and
stands in the midst of a park, upon a spacious
lawn. Part of it was rebuilt by the first Sir
John Wynn in the sixteenth century, part
by the first Sir Watkin Williams Wynn,
Bart., and though only a portion of the
original plan, is a grand substantial edifice,
with every internal accommodation. The
whole was a few years since enlarged and
cased by the late owner. On a wall within
the court is a distich allusive to the
name of the house — Wynn-stay, or "rest
satisfied with the good things that Provi-
dence has so liberally bestowed upon you."

There is something exceedingly charac-
teristic in the description given of Sir
Watkin's more recent portion, by the tourist
Pennant. u It is finished," he says, " in that
substantial yet neat manner becoming the
seat of an honest English country gentleman,



SKATS OF GREAT BRITAIX.



1G1



adapted to the reception of his worthy
neighbours, who may experience his hos-
pitality without dread of spoiling the frippery
ornaments, becoming only the assembly-
rooms of a town-house, or the villa of a great
city."

The library, which is very extensive and
valuable, abounds in curious manuscripts,
and is in fact a perfect storehouse for those
who are interested in the history of Wales
and the Marches.

Amongst the curiosities of the place is a
huge silver vase, presented to the late
baronet by his countrymen upon his return
home, after having voluntarily joined (with
a great part of his regiment, the Denbigh-
shire Militia,) the " Provisional Battalion,"
prior to the declaration of Peace in 1814.
Here, too, are to be seen several interesting
family portraits, and other valuable pictures.
The following are more particularly worthy
of enumeration. A head, by Cornelius
Jansens, of Sir Richard Wynn, a most ex-
quisite painting. He was Gentleman of the
Privy Chamber to Charles the First, and ac-
companied him upon his romantic matri-
monial adventure to the court of Spain ; of
which lie wrote an account, published in
Ream's collection. Two very fine full-
lengths of Charles the Second and his Queen.
A half-length figure of the last Sir John
Wynn, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, which has
been engraved by Bond, and published in
Yorke's "Royal Tribes." This Sir John left
Wynnstay, and other estates of great value,
to his kinsman, Watkin Williams, afterwards
Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. Sir John, ac-
cording to Yorke, " was a man of pleasure in
his youth. Late in life he made a visit to
the court, in the early days of Queen Anne,
and meeting in the drawing-room, after many
years' absence, his old Westminster school-
fellow, the apostolic Beveridge of St. Asaph
— " Ah, Sir John ! Sir John !" says the good
Bishop to him, " when I knew you first, the
devil was very great with you." " Yes, by
God, my Lord," says Sir John, '' and I wish
he was half so great with me now." But
Sir John had a reputation of a less doubtful
character. He w r as a great and early im-
prover of Welsh gardening, and introduced
into his country a small swan-egg pear, that
is yet very popular, and bears his name.

One of the most distinguished members of
this family was Sir William Williams, of
Gray's Inn, the first baronet of the name,
so created in 1G88. He was Speaker of
the House of Commons in the reign of Charles
the Second, and Recorder of Chester, and
Solicitor-General in the following reign, and
was appointed one of the King's Council
by' William the Third, unquestionable proofs
of the eminence of his talents.

The access to Wynnstay is by a handsome

VOL. II.



gateway, through an avenue, the whole extent
of which is a mile, and which consists chietly
of elm<, limes, and noble oaks. Within the
Park, which reaches to the village of Rhiwa-
bon, or Khuabon, is a carriage-way running
along the banks of the River Dee, and com-
manding a constant succession of beautiful
prospects. Two conspicuous objects passed
upon this road, are a tower to commemorate
the battle of Waterloo, and a cenotaph after
the design of the Gfapo di Bore, near Rome.
This is dedicated to the memory of the
officers and soldiers of the regiment of ancient
British cavalry — or Cambrian regiment —
under the command of the late Sir Watkin
Williams Wynn, who were killed in the Irish
Rebellion. It overlooks the romantic glen
of the Dee, called Nant y Belan, the Martens'
Dingle. The views commanded from this
spot, both far and near, are at all times mag-
niricent, but most so when seen at evening,
and under the mellowing influence of the
setting sun. The near prospect includes
Chirk Castle, Pont y Cysyllte, and the rude
fortress of Dinas Bran, rising in the midst of
a fertile vale, and bounded by the barren
mountains of Eglwyseg. The more distant
view extends over portions of three counties
of North Wales, and a very large tract of
England.

Another memorial to be found here, and
with which a touching recollection is asso-
ciated, is an immense tree, called Sir John
Wynn's Oak. Hither, when the haronet ha I
become blind, it was his wont to be led oc-
casionally that he might feel the old tree,
which, so long as he possessed sight, had
been his peculiar favourite. It is curious to
imagine what at such times must have been
passing in the blind man's mind ; no one
willingly seeks that which gives him pain,
and yet what other than painful reflections
could have occurred to him when thus re-
minded that his old favourite could never
again put forth his leaves for him ?

Another object worthy of notice in the
Park is a fine fluted column, or obelisk, more
than a hundred feet high. It was erected to
the memory of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn,
the fourth baronet, by his mother, and has a
spiral stai icase within leading to the top,
which is defended by a balustrade.

In addition to what has been already said,

the views that meet the eye at various other

parts of this noble estate seem to set all

description at defiance.

" Segnius irritant ammos demissa per aure'ti,
Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus."

Nothing, for instance, can w r ell be more
beautiful than the prospect towards the
Berwyn Mountains, and the romantic valley
of the Dee, the country of " the irregular and
wild Glyndwr." Nor is there any want of
romantic associations clinging to these noble



162



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



regions. To the antiquary every portion of
them will awaken some recollection of departed
greatness — of some name which, though it
now lives only in the shadowy glass of his-
tory, at one time occupied the tongues and
the" thoughts of millions.

The present owner of this noble estate pos-
sesses also Llangedwyn and Glan Llyn.
The former of these was built about the time
of King William the Third, as seems to be
sufficiently indicated by the old garden, with
its terraces and fountains, as well as by the
house itself, with its quaint gables. It was
formerly the property of the Vaughans, who
long represented the county of Montgomery ;
and through the marriage of the first Sir
Watkin Williams Wynn with the heiress of
that family, it came with the estate of
Llywdiarth — the mansion of which was de-
stroyed by fire — into the hands of the
present owner.

Glan Llyn, Merionethshire, has devolved to
the gentleman now owning it through the same
marriage. The present House was built as a
shooting-box by the last Sir Watkin Williams
Wynn, about the beginning of the present
century, and stands near the south-west end
of Bala Lake, the largest piece of water in
Wales, being about four miles in length. It
abounds in trout and pike, and in a fish called
the gwyniad, peculiar to mountain lakes, and
in Wales to this alone.

EUCXHTJEST PAEK, Sussex, in the parish
of Withyam, the seat of George John Sack-
ville West, Earl DeLaWair, Viscount Can-
tilupe, and Baron DeLaWarr. This noble
estate has been possessed by the Sackville
family in direct descent, and without inter-
ruption, up to the present day.

There was an old house upon these
grounds, of unknown date as to its origin,
but which in the latter end of Queen Eliza-
beth's reign was in part pulled down, and a
portion of the materials used in building a
hospital called Sackville College, in East
Grinstead, " for one-and-thirty poor people
to serve Almighty God therein." The ori-
ginator of this charity was Richard Sack-
ville, eldest son of Lord Dorset, of whom
Fuller says, that he was " a gentleman of
singular learning in many sciences and lan-
guages ; so that the Greek and Latine were
as familiar unto him as his own native
tongue."

At the time above alluded to, the present
mansion was a park lodge, designed in the
first instance for the use of the steward. It
was, however, adopted as a summer resi-
dence by the first Earl of Dorset, and in
consequence received considerable altera-
tions. Since then it has been nearly re-
built, and much enlarged under the direc-
tion of .1. A. Repton, Esq., by George John,
present seventeenth baron, and fifth Earl De-



LaWarr. He married Elizabeth Sackville,
daughter of John Frederick, third Duke of
Dorset, who, upon the death of her brother,
George John Frederick, fourth duke, in-
herited a moiety of the Sackville estates, the
Buckhurst estate included.

The House belongs to the Elizabethan
style of architecture. It is of stoue through-
out, with pinnacles, and decorated chimnies.

The woods about here, as in other parts
of the country, were probably at one period
much more abundant than they are now.
Fuller, writing in 1662, complains much of
the great decrease of timber, which he at-
tributed to the vast quantities of iron
smelted here, and he introduces the trees,
complaining bitterly of the treatment they
have received :



" Jove's oak, the warlike ash, veyn'd elm, the softer

beech,
Short hazell, maple plain, light aspe, the bending

wych,
Tough holly, and smooth birch, must altogether

burn ;
What should the builders serve, supplies the forgers'

turn,
When under public good base private gain takes hold,
And we, poor wol'ull woods, to ruin lastly sold."



WEETHAM HALL, Norfolk, in the parish
of West Wretham, the seat of Wyoley Birch,
Esq. At one period this seat belonged
to William Colhoun, Esq., who bought^ all
the small properties in the parish of East
Wretham. Eton College had a large estate
in the parish, of which he was lessee, and he
also purchased all the small properties in
West Wretham. King's College, in the
University of Cambridge, bad a large estate
in West Wretham, of which, likewise, he was
lessee. In 1812 Mr. Birch bought the
whole property of Mr. Colhoun, and in
1K25 obtained Acts of Parliament to enable
him to exchange the estates belonging to
him at Shipdham, &c. &c, for the estates of
both colleges at the Wrethams. He has
thus become possessed of the Avhole of both
parishes, the glebe alone excepted.

Wretham Hall was built about the year
1790, by William Colhoun, Esq., of whom
mention has been just made. The external
appearance of the House has nothing that
can particularly recommend it to notice. It
stands upon a very flat part of several
hundred acres, well planted with oak trees,
and in sight of it is one large sheet of water,
extending over fifty acres of ground, besides
several smaller pieces, all highly ornamented.
Internally, this house is excellent, being
amply provided with every accommoda-
tion for the convenience of a large family.
The dining-room, the drawing-room, the
library, and the saloon, are large, lofty, and
well furnished. The offices are unexception-
able.



SKATS OF GREAT BK1TA1N.



103



ASHYSTEEL, in the parish of Yarrow, and
county of Selkirk, the residence of Lieu-
tenant-General Sir James Russell, K.C.B.

This spot, now rendered classical by its
having been the country residence of the
great Scottish Minstrel during a very inter-
esting period of his life, is situated on a
steep bank overhanging the Tweed, near its
continence with a mountain burn, which
passes under

" The steepy linn
That hems our little garden in.
Low in its dark and narrow glen,
You scarce the rivulet might ken,
So thick the tangled greenwood grew,
So feeble tiill'd the streamlet through;
Now murmuring hoarse and frequent seen
Through bush and brier, no longer green j
An angry brook, it sweeps the glade,
Brawls over rock and wild cascade,
And, foaming down with d..uoled speed,
Hurries its waters to the Tweed."

Of the early history of the place little is
known that is remarkable. During the
.seventeenth century it appears to have be-
longed at one time to the Traquair family ;
at another to a branch of Murray of Philip-
haugh ; and latterly, for a short time, to the
Baillies of Collin. In the year 1712 it was
purchased from William Baillie of Collin by
William Russell, Esq., great-grandfather of
the present possessor, and has remained
ever since with his descendants. When
Colonel William Russell, grandson of the pur-
chaser, died, in February, 1804, his eldest son
being then on military service in India, the
family left it as their abode, and in May follow-
ing it was taken on lease by Walter Scott, Esq.,
afterwards Sir Walter Scott, Avho had three
years before been appointed Sheriff of Sel-
kirkshire, and was desirous to have a resi-
dence in that county to which he might re-
tire, and attend to his local duties during
the vacations of the Court of Session.
Ashysteel had peculiar attractions for him,
being associated with his early recollections ;
for the wife of Colonel Russell, a person of
high talent and accomplishments, whose
premature death some years before had been
deeply lamented by her relatives and neigh-
bours, was his aunt, the daughter of Doctor
Rutherfurd, and sister of his mother. It was
here most of his poetry was written. "The
Lay of the Last Minstrel," which first raised
his literary fame, was published in 1806,
having been for the most part composed
during his absence from professional duties
in Edinburgh, amidst the sylvan scenery of
Tweedside; and the introductions to the
cantos of " Marmion," elated from Ashysteel,
are full of allusions to surrounding objects
and passing events, as well as to the friends
with whom the poet had there been enjoying
his literary retirement. This retirement he
continued to possess and to delight in till



after his purchase of Abbotsford, in Novem-
ber. 1812, and his removal there in the follow-
ing May, 1813.

The house is a straggling irregular build-
ing, raised at different times, and forming
three sides of a square. It appears to have
been originally a simple Border Reel Tower,
enlarged by successive additions. The oldest
portion is in the centre, where the thick,
massive walls of the western end show that
it was originally constructed more with a
view to strength than to convenience. The
most recent erection, on the eastern side,
was built by the present owner, on his re-
turn to his native country, in 1820, after a
distinguished career as a cavalry officer in
India. The modern sitting-rooms are here
situated, with windoAvs looking down the
Tweed upon a beautiful bridge spanning the
river, with a single arch of one hundred and
thirty-four feet of span, constructed entirely
of rubble, the first erection of the kind ever
attempted of such large dimensions. Close
by this bridge is the ford which King James
is said to have passed with his host while on
his way to attack the outlaw Murray, in his
castle, on the Braes of Yarrow. It is thus
noticed in the ancient ballad :

" The King was cumin thro' Caddon Ford,
And full five thousand men was he ;
They saw the dirke Forcste them before,
They thought awsome for to see."*

The surrounding scenery is chiefly pastoral,
interspersed with picturesque natural woods,
though recent improvements have tended
greatly to diminish the pastoral character
which prevailed while it was the residence of
Sir Walter Scott.



LATOLEY HOUSE, Derbyshire, the seat of
Godfrey Meynell, Esq., a magistrate and
deputy-lieutenant for the county, and high
sheriff' in 1811. This family in its
various branches has long been settled in
Derbyshire, and so far back as the reign of
Edward the Third we find them giving their
name to the manor of Langley-Meynell.

The present House was erected about the
year 1797 by John Meynell, Esq. It 'is a
stone building of the Grecian style of archi-
tecture. The old Hall at Langley, formerly
belonging to the Meynells, has been lately
rebuilt by Doctor Reach, who came into pos-
session of it by purchase.

The grounds around the house extend to
about sixty acres, and comprise a paddock,
wood, and water. The view from the man-
sion is very extensive, and the lawn, well
wooded.

Mr. Meynell is also lord of the two manors
of Kirk-Langley and Meynell, they being

* See ballad of the "Outlaw Murray," in the Mm
ttrelsy of the Scottish Murder, vol. i.



164



SEATS OF GREAT UUITAIX.



separate lordships ; in addition to which he
is patron of the advowson of Langley.

In the house are several valuable paintings.
Amongst these are some of a very high ordt r
by Wright of Derby, which do infinite credit
to the modern art of England.



KELBURN, in the county of Ayr, the seat
of the Earl of Glasgow.

Kelburn is a very old Scottish mansion,
with turrets, round towers, and gable ends,
forming a most picturesque mass of high
building; erected by an ancient Laird of
Kelburn, three centuries ago. To this, an
addition of considerable extent was made by
an Earl of Glasgow upwards of a hundred
years since. It is one of the most curious
old houses in Scotland, and it has been
kept up with little change or alteration, ex-
cept what is absolutely necessary for the
comfort of a modern mansion ; it being the
usual residence of the present noble owner.
Nothing can be more beautiful than its situa-
tion ; about a mile from the sea, separated
from it by the park, through which two ap-
proaches lead to the House. The mansion
lies at the foot of very high and well-wooded
hills, and behind it there is a lovely glen,
with numerous shady walks. Immediately
round the House are quaint old gardens,
partly cut out in a straight avenue, and partly
occupying the slopes under the ancient
towers. The sea view is delightful. Imme-
diately opposite are the islands of the greater
and lesser Cumbrae and Bute, behind which
rise the lofty peaks of Arran. Kelburn is
altogether a perfect specimen of the best
class of an ancient Scottish mansion. For-
tunately, it has escaped the spoiling hand of
modern improvement, and it remains a monu-
ment of the family history ; which is that of
a very ancient country gentleman expanding
into the rank and consequence of a peer a
century and a half ago. The original tur-
retted chateau of the early laird becoming
the respectable mansion of the peer of Queen
Anne ; and little or nothing having been
altered since the times immediately succeed-
ing the Union. There is a profusion of
beautiful walks and points of view throughout
the woody hills behind the House ; and, alto-
gether, Kelburn is one of the most charming
old seats in Scotland.

The family of Boyle is of great antiquity.
The Lairds of Kelburn can trace their pedi-
gree back to very early times, and if there
is nothing baronial or chivalric connected
with their early history, they have at least
for ages, been respectable, and of gentle
blood. From the position of first-class
country gentlemen, tin v were raised, in the
reign of Queen Anne, to the rank of Earl, in
the person of David the first Earl of Glasgow,



who warmly promoted the union of Scotland
with England. This peer made an illustrious
alliance with the eldest daughter of the Hon.
P. Lindsay Crawford, of Kilbirney, sister of
Viscount Garnock, grand-daughter of John,
seventeenth Earl of Crawford and first Earl
of Lindsay, and grand niece of the Duke
of Hamilton. In right of this ancestress, the
first Countess of Glasgow, the late earl suc-
ceeded to the great estates of the houses of
Lindsay and Crawford in Fifeshire and Ayr-
shire, and to the honour of representing
these most ancient and distinguished families
as heir of hue. This great addition was made
to the wealth and consequence of the Boyle
family on the death of Lady Mary Lindsay
Crawford, sister to the last Earl of Crawford
and Lindsay, in 1833.

The third Earl of Glasgow also made a
rich and noble alliance with the daughter



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 36 of 73)