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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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In the first capacity he greatly signalized
himself at the battle of Blackheath,
fought in 1495, when the Cornish insurgents
were defeated ; and in 1513 he served as
Captain of the Pioneers at the siege of Terou-
enne, where Henry VIII. commanded in
person. As a literary character he is still
well known to the modern reader by his ad-
mirable translation of Froissart's Chronicles
— that " well of English undefiled" — which
for vigour and masculine style far surpasses
the more accurate version by Johnes. This
great work was published in folio in 1525,
and three years afterwards he had a grant of
the manors of Ockham, Effingham, Welding-
ham, and Titsey, part of the forfeited estates
of Edward Duke of Buckingham, who fell a
victim to the malicious craft of Wolsey and
the undistinguishing tyranny of his master.
W r ere these splendid gifts intended as a re-
ward for his literary talents? Such a suppo-
sition forms a redeeming trait in the brutal
character of Henry ; yet even before this
time Lord Berners had received many espe-
cial marks of the monarch's favour. He
held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer
for life ; was Lieutenant-General of the
town and marches of Calais ; and was ap-
pointed, with other persons of rank, to at-
tend the Princess Mary on her voyage to
France to become the Queen of Louis XII.,
in 1514. Of his two daughters, his sole
heirs, one died without issue, and the other,
Joan, the wife of Edward Knyvett, Esq., in-
herited the estate ; but long before her death
it was transferred to other owners, although
it would be difficult to explain in what w T ay.
It would appear that this lady and her hus-
band possessed it for two years only; for
she entered upon it in 1531, and in 1536
we find it in the hands of Henry Courte-
nay, Marquess of Exeter, who, in 1538, being
with his lady attainted of high treason, this
property escheated to the crown. It was
now granted by Henry VIII. to Sir An-
thony Browne, his Master of the Horse;



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



193



for in those days of popular violence and
royal tyranny, estates seem to have shifted
from hand to hand with all the rapidity of
scenes changing in a pantomime. Bluff King
Hal, in particular, was a conjuror who made
lands and houses fly about in all directions.

Upon the death of Sir Anthony in 1548,
West Horsley devolved for life to his widow,
Elizabeth Fitz Gerald, daughter of the Earl
of Kildare, the subject of the early addresses
of Henry, Earl of Surrey, under the name of
the Fair Geraldine. The story of this pas-
sion, though promulgated by the grave
Anthony a Wood, and, as he affirms, upon
the authority of Drayton, has been stoutly
contested as a mere fiction borrowed by the
antiquary from a little romance written by
Nash, and published in 1593, containing the
adventures of an imaginary hero, whom he
calls Jack Wilton. The tradition, however,
is too pleasing, and too much in the chival-
rous character of Surrey, to be so easily
given up. According to the received story,
the gallant earl, in obedience to the com-
mands of his mistress, made the tour of
Italy, proclaiming, wherever he went, the
superiority of her charms over those of all
other women. At Florence he visited the
very chamber where his Geraldine was born ;
but of course all this must be received as
the Platonic love of a knight-errant, seeing
that the earl had left a young wife behind in
England.

Whether we believe or deny Wood's story
of the earl's romantic adventures in Italy,
there can be no doubt that Surrey did really
and truly love the Fair Geraldine, and after
the same fashion that Petrarch adored his
Laura. If we had no other testimony, we
have his own verses to this effect : —

" From Tuscany came my Lady's worthy race ;

Fail Florence was sometime her an?ient seat;

The Western isle, whose pleasant shore cloth face

Wild Camber's clifts, first gave her lively heat;

Fostered she was with milk of Irish breast ;

Her sire an earl, her dame of prince's blood ;

From tender years in Britain did she rest

With a king's child, who tasteth ghostly food.
Honsdon did first present her to mine eyen.

Bright is her hue, and Geraldine she hight.

Hampton me taught to wish her first for mine,
And Windsor, alas ! doth chase me from her sight.

Her beauty of kind, her virtues from above,

Happy is he that can obtain her love."

But the earl was not happy enough to
" obtain her love." Geraldine, it seems, was
an arch coquette, who only sought the in-
dulgence of her vanity, in which disposition
she treated him at times with so much scorn
that his pride was revolted, and this enabled
him, after a short struggle, to overcome his
passion.

If his mistress was ungrateful, the king
was no less so. Henry, growing jealous of
his quondam favourite, though on what ac-
count has been much disputed, had him

VOL. II.



brought to trial, when, as a matter of course
in this arbitrary reign, he was condemned
and beheaded. Thus fell the chivalrous and
highly-gifted Surrey, in the thirtieth year
of his age.

The Fair Geraldine was twice married;
but upon her demise West Horsley descended
to Sir Anthony Browne, the son of her first
husband. He, dying in 1592, left this estate
to his grandson, after whose decease, in
1629, it was sold to one of the Carews of
Beddington, in Surrey. This, it would seem,
was Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, Knt., the
adopted heir of his uncle, Sir Francis
Carew, whose eldest sister, Anne, had mar-
ried the father of Sir Nicholas. This Sir
Francis, who adopted the name and arms
of Carew, died in 1643, when, either by
devise or gift, the estate passed to his
nephew, Carew Raleigh, the son of his
sister Elizabeth by the ill-fated Sir Walter
Raleigh. He was born in the Tower
during his father's confinement there,
and grew up to be so like him in face and
figure, that when introduced at court by his
kinsman, the Earl of Pembroke, King
James, as cowardly as he was cruel, shrank
from his presence, exclaiming that "he ap-
peared to him too like his father's ghost ! "

" Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all."

In consequence he was advised by the
earl to travel ; but upon the death of James
he returned home, and an act to restore him
in blood was passed in the third year of
Charles I.

In 1665 Mr. Raleigh sold West Horsley
to Sir Edward Nicholas, the eldest son of
John Nicholas, Esq., of vVinterbourne
Earles, in Wiltshire, and Secretary to Vil-
liers, Duke of Buckingham, when Lord High
Admiral. The last of his three sons coming
into possession of the estate, and dying a
bachelor, bequeathed it by will to Henry
Weston, Esq, a gentleman whose fortunes
had fallen into decay, but whose general con-
duct had been such as to secure him the
good-will and assistance of the chief persons
in the county. He formed a design, when
nearly seventy years old, of rebuilding the
house, and one day showed the plan of his
intended mansion to the Duke of Marl-
borough," who, looking at him earnestly,
said, " Pray, Mr. Weston, how old are you ?"
By this simple question he was so much
struck, that he abandoned all idea of a new
building, and contented himself with a few
alterations. In his descendants the property
has ever since remained.

It appears not unlikely that the house at
West Horsley was originally erected by Sir
Anthony Browne, after his marriage with the
Fair Geraldine. This idea has been sug-
gested by a plan of the ceiling of the old

C C



194



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



drawing-room, traced by Mr. William Nicho-
las, in 1730, and found amongst the Nicholas
papers. According to this plan, the ceiling
was divided into compartments, in most of
which were armorial crests. In one of these
is a monkey, the crest of the Earl of Kildare,
the father of the Fair Geraldine, while in
others were the initials A. B., and various
crests, all known to have belonged to the
Browne family. Though this ceiling is now
plain, yet there is a small bed-room next to
it which still bears marks that go far to
establish the same conclusion. In it are the
same crests and the same initials.

West Horsley Place, a fine old English
seat, may now be described as a long
range of brick building, with a centre and
two wings, but somewhat irregular as to
form, the right wing projecting much
more than the left. A large portion of
it appears to belong to the time of
James I. ; but it exhibits unmistakeable
tokens of having been altered in the reigns
of George I. and George II., when the
Dutch or German taste prevailed — if that,
indeed, deserves the name of taste which is
in diametrical opposition to all taste. The
general heaviness, however, is much relieved
by architraves, pilasters, and projections,
which give it something of an architectural
character. In height it consists of two
storeys and an attic, the latter having in
front a large semicircular window. From
the top of the parapet a wall is carried up,
so as to mask the gables of the roof, above
which the chimneys are seen peeping in no
unpicturesque or unpleasing fashion. A
large window appears in each story of the
wings ; they are composed of three lights,
those in the middle division of the upper
story being curvilinear.

In 1845 Henry Currie, Esq., who then
leased the House, added, by permission of the
proprietor, to the west side of the building
a dressing-room, with a bed-room over it,
and took down the portico over the front
door. It was in a state of decay, and was,
besides, at variance with the character of the
rest of the mansion.

On the south side of the road, and opposite
to the House, is a ground called the Sheep-
leas, forming a most delightful summer
prospect. This spot has much the appear-
ance of a park, being full of trees, chiefly
beech, sometimes in thick clusters, and at
others singly dotting the face of the ground,
which is exceedingly undulating and varied
in its aspect.

SPAINS HALL, hi the county of Essex, the
seat of Samuel Brise Ruggles-Brise, Esq., only
son of the late John Ruggles-Brise, Esq., a ma-
gistrate and deputy lieutenant for Essex and
Suffolk, who assumed the additional surname



and arms of Brise, on succeeding in 1827 to
the possessions of his grandmother's family.

This seat took its name from Hervey de
Ispania, or Spain, who held the estate under
Count Alan Fergent (second son of Eudo,
Earl of Bretagne), who was one of the Norman
Barons who accompanied William in his suc-
cessful attack upon Saxon England. This
estate he held with the Earldom or Honor
of Richmond, being the only lordship so
held in this country ; and his heirs continued
to possess it without interruption till the reign
of King Edward the Second.

From the Spains, who held this property
from the Conquest to the reign of Edward
IV., the estate came by marriage or otherwise
into the Kempe family, with whom it re-
mained till 1727. In that year Mary Kempe,
inheriting it in default of heirs male, con-
veyed it by marriage into the family of
Sir Swinnerton Dyer, Bart. Upon his de-
cease in 1735, it went to his next brother,
Sir John Dyer; and after him to the third bro-
ther. Sir Thomas Dyer, of whom it Avas pur-
chased in 1760 by Samuel Ruggles Esq., of
Bocking, a descendant of George Ruggle, the
celebrated wit and scholar, author of the
play of Ignoramus, performed with so much
applause before James the First, at Cam-
bridge, in 1G14. George Ruggle himself de-
scended from the ancient family of Rogyll,
Ruggle, or Ruggles.

Thomas Ruggle, a nephew of him who
purchased the estate, came into possession
of it in 1784. This gentleman was no less
distinguished than his collateral ancestor for
learning and talent. He was the author of
" The Barrister," a w T ork in much esteem by
the legal profession, and also another very
able publication called " The History of the
Poor." He was the grandfather of the pre-
sent possessor of the property.

There is a singular anecdote connected
with one of the earlier owners — William
Kempe, wdiose marriage settlement is dated
the 10th of October, 1588. It runs thus :—
Owing to a dispute between himself and his
wife, whom he greatly respected, he uttered
in a passion some indiscreet words, which
gave him so much uneasiness that he made a
vow not to speak again for seven years from
that time. This resolution he kept steadily,
and the tradition goes on to say that he died
in the seventh year just upon the expiration
of the prescribed time. During each of
these seven years he amused himself with
causing a fish pond to be formed in the gar-
dens belonging to the Hall. He and his
wife, Philippa, are both buried in Kempe's
chapel within the south aisle of the parish
church of Finchingrield, and a handsome
monument above them records his vow of
voluntary silence for seven years.

Spains Hall is a fine old Gothic mansion,



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



195



partly in the Elizabethan style of architec-
ture, and occupies the site of a building
much more ancient. The present is sup-
posed from various dates about it, to have
been added to and altered into its present form
about the time of Edward the Sixth, or of
Mary. It is situated in a well-wooded park,
with grounds that are prettily diversified by
nature and improved by the hand of art. The
entrance-hall is spacious, having about forty
feet in length, and having width and height
in due proportions, while it is lighted by a
large and handsome window that extends
nearly its whole length.



LYTHAM HALL, near Preston, Lancashire,
the seat of Thomas Clifton, Esq., a magis-
trate and deputy lieutenant for the county,
who served under the Duke of Wellington
in his Peninsular campaigns.

A conventual house existed on this site for
ages prior to the dissolution of monasteries,
shortly after which we find the estate in
the possession of the Holcrofts, by whose
representative, Sir John Holcroft, it was sold
in 1606 to Sir Cuthbert Clifton, of Westby.

Some curious customs and traditions are
attached to this old conventual relique. A
white owl, appearing to any of the family at
Lytham is popularly supposed to be ominous
of death to some of the house, and though
we are no longer able to trace the origin of
such a belief, there can be no doubt that it
once had a meaning, and was derived from
some forgotten circumstance. A nother rem-
nant of ancient times is the custom still re-
tained, of saying mass at stated times for
the repose of the soul of Sir Cuthbert Clif-
ton. He had crossed himself — that is, he had
assumed the emblem of the cross, in token
of his intention to join the crusaders in their
attempts to rescue the Holy Land, — but died
without having accomplished his vow. To
expiate this fault, whether wilful, or the re-
sult of unavoidable circumstances, this cere-
monial was established, and it appeared to
have been continued without interruption,
notwithstanding the clanger it must have in-
volved the parties in during the more intole-
rant days of Protestantism, when the breath
of Roman Catholic incense, or the sound of
a Roman Catholic chaunt, was enough to
call down both popular and legal vengeance
on the heads of the offenders.

What remains of the old monastic pile has
been modernized, and now serves for offices,
The new part was erected about the year
1749, or 1750, by Thomas Clifton, whose
arms, quartered with those of Bertie, are to
be seen upon the building. He married Lady
Jane Bertie, daughter of Willoughby, Earl
of Abingdon.
The new part of the House is Grecian.



It is built of brick and stone, and has an ap-
pearance of great solidity. At one time
there was a large domestic chapel within the
House, and a priest constantly resided there
to perform the religious duties connected
with it. This is now done away with, and
instead thereof, the chapel has been estab-
lished in the town of Lytham.

In addition to this seat, Thomas Clifton,
Esq., possesses,

CLIFTON HALL, at Clifton, Lancashire,
about four miles from Preston. This seat has
been, time immemorial, in the possession of
the Clifton family, and from it they no doubt
derived their name according to a common
custom of very early times. During the
wars of the Roses they like so many others
of distinction forfeited their inheritance to
the conquering party, against whom they
had sided ; but in the reign of Henry the
Seventh their property was restored to them.
They again lost it in the time of Cromwell's
triumph, for having evinced too much zeal
in the king's service ; but upon the Restora-
tion, the fault became a virtue, and Charles,
with a gratitude that he did not always show,
not only once more reinstated them in their
ancient possessions, but created the head of
the family a baronet. And well did he de-
serve this recompense, for no less than four
of his brothers had died upon the battle-
field in the cause of royalty. The baronet
however had a narrow escape in his latter
days, being tried for high treason under Wil-
liam and Mary. He had, it seems, offered to
raise a troop of horse in the service of the ab-
dicated King James, who was then living at
St. Germains, a pensioner upon French bounty
after having forfeited the fairest realm of
Europe. But the Cliftons were at all times
a gallant race, true to the principles they
had adopted, and yet as little apt to surren-
der their liberties to the church, when she
overstept her reasonable bounds, as the stur-
diest of the reformers. Of one Clifton —
Sir William, who flourished in the days of
the third Edward — it is recorded that
having a dispute with the Abbot of Vale
Royal, respecting the church of Preston,
he flogged the abbot's secretary through the
streets of the town. Another Clifton, Sir
Nicholas, was, in the time of Richard II.,
appointed governor of the fortress of Ham,
in Picardy, which has of late attracted so
much notice as a military prison.

Tire remaining portion of that old Clif-
ton Hall, which was burnt by the Whigs
at the siege of Preston, is, or rather was,
an ancient tower cracked by the action of
the fire from top to bottom. This also
tumbled down, in consequence of the dam-
ages it received, when the Hall was rebuilt
in 1832, by the late Mr. Clifton.



196



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN'.



ORMEROD HOUSE, Lancashire, about two
miles from Burnley, the residence of the
Rev. William Thursby, who possesses it con-
jointly with the Hon. Colonel James Yorke
Scarlett. The reverend gentleman is a
magistrate for the county, and chaplain to
his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge.

From the year 1311 until 1793, this
estate remained in the family of the Orme-
rods, who seem to have possessed it soon
after the Norman Conquest, and to have
derived their name from it. At the last-
mentioned period, Lawrence Ormerod dying
without male issue, Charlotte Anne, his sole
daughter and heiress, conveyed it by mar-
riage to John Hargreaves, Esq., a lieutenant -
colonel in the local militia. He also died,
leaving no son, but two daughters, coheir-
esses — Eleanor Mary, and Charlotte Anne,
the first of whom was married to the Rev.
William Thursby, and the other, who was
the youngest, to the Hon. Colonel James
Yorke Scarlett. Hence the joint ownership
in the property above alluded to.

The family of Thursby— or, as it was at
one time written, Thoresby — is of Saxon
origin, and appears to have played a distin •
guished part before as well 'as after the
Norman conquest. An archbishop of that
name retains a high character in chronicle
for his liberality to York Minster, which
was wound up in 1361 by his laying the first
stone of the late magnificent choir of that
cathedral.

From the names of Lawrence Ormerod
and Elizabeth Barcroft, his wife, being
carved upon the present building, it has
been inferred, with every appearance of
probability, that the House was erected by
the former somewhere about 1595. Material
additions to it were made by the late Colonel
Hargreaves, which improved it considerably,
both as to appearance and in regard to com-
fort. Connected with the mansion is a fine
plantation of ash and sycamore.

FYNECOURT HOUSE, Broomfield, co. So-
merset, the seat of Andrew Crosse, Esq.
This place took its name from the manorial
fines having been paid there, and has for
many generations been possessed uninter-
ruptedly by the ancient family of Crosse.

The mansion, built in 1629 by Andrew
Crosse, Esq., though not strictly Eliza-
bethan, has much of the character belonging
to that peculiarly English style of architec-
ture. It has been much enlarged and im-
proved by the present owner of the estate,
the additions having made it more suited to
the requisites of a modern residence.

The grounds are undulating and orna-
mented with a handsome sheet of water, and
with well-arranged plantations. The views
of the country around are eminently beautiful.



BRIGHTWELL PARK, Oxfordshire, the
seat of William Francis Lowndes Stone, Esq.,
a magistrate and deputy-lieutenant, who in
1834 was sheriff for the county.

The ancient mansion of Brightwell was
in existence before the year 1442, when Sir
John Cottesmore, Chief Justice of the Com-
mon Pleas, was the possessor. By his family
it was conveyed to John Carleton, of Walton-
upon-Thames, in the county of Surrey, and
with the Carletons it remained until about the
year 1600, when George, eldest son of Anthony
Carleton, sold it to John Symeon, of Pyrton,
co. Oxon. A few years afterwards it was re-
purchased by Sir Dudley Carleton (created 4
Charles I. Viscount Dorchester), who died s.p.,
leaving Brightwell to (the son of his brother
George) his nephew, Sir John Carleton :
his daughter, Catherine Carleton, con-
veyed it by marriage to John Stone, Esq.,
and it continued in the family of Stone until
the year 1732, when the last John Stone died
and bequeathed Brightwell to his cousin and
heir, Francis Lowe, of Ridgmont, co. Bed-
ford, at whose decease, without male issue,
the property devolved by his will, on his
eldest daughter, Catherine, wife of William
Lowndes, Esq., who assumed the additional
name of Stone under an Act of Parliament,
28 George II., and in compliance with the
testamentary injunction of Francis Lowe.
Catherine Lowe was grandmother to the pre-
sent William Francis Lowndes Stone, Esq.
The old House was burnt down in 1787,
and was rebuilt by the late William Lowndes
Stone. The present mansion is placed much
higher up in the park than the former. It
is a large square building of stone, and has
a picturesque appearance.



MANYDOWN PARK, Hampshire, near
Wotton St. Lawrence, the seat of Lovelace
Bigg Wither, Esq. This mansion is exceed-
ingly ancient, having been built at least five
hundred years ago, and probably much
earlier, by the monks of the Priory of Saint
Swithin, at Winchester. It served the
monks as a country residence, and is a large
irregular edifice of brick, surrounding
a "cheynay" court, and contains sixty
rooms of many styles and dates down to
the year 1790. The effect of this mixture
of styles is startling at first, but by no means
unpleasing; the variety compensating in
some degree for the results produced upon
the eye by greater regularity.

Since the reign of Edward the Third,
Manydown Hall has been uninterruptedly
possessed by the same family, amongst whom,
though in another branch, is to be numbered
George Withers the poet, who, no doubt,
must have visited this spot. Unfortunately
for his fame, he adopted the peculiar prin-



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



197



ciples of the Puritans, and wasted his genius
on pieces, which, however, they may have ex-
cited friendship or enmity at the time they
were first written, have little interest in our
days. Indeed, it may be suspected that they
have helped to swamp the reputation of his
other works.

The adjacent grounds are woody and laid
out with much taste, every advantage having
been taken of the natural facilities offered by
the variety of the landscape. These arrange-
ments took place about thirty years ago, and
of course, therefore, are in the modern style
of Gardening.

FOREMARK HALL, the seat of Sir Robert
Burdett, Bart., is pleasantly situate on the
southern bank of the Trent, nearly two miles
to the east of Repton, in the county of
Derby, and distant about six and a half miles,
in the same direction, from Burton-upon-
Trent, in the adjoining county of Stafford.
It is an oblong stone house of large dimen-
sions, the ends of which project sufficiently
to form bow -windows, and are surrounded
with elegant domes. A spacious portico,
supported by four Ionic pillars, gives a



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 43 of 73)