Bernard Burke.

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

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passed wider the great seal, in the reign of
James VI., to Sir James Boyd of Trochrig,
and dated August 16th, 1609, the family
had ranked as barons of Gaitgirth for five
hundred years before; but unfortunately,
little attention, as is well known, was paid in
that reign to tracing either national or family
antiquity with the requisite precision, and
no great reliance therefore can be placed
upon such documents. The probability is
that they held the office of Camerarius Regius,
or Great Chamberlain of Scotland, before
they came into the possession of Gadgirth.
But it would answer no good end to trace
them. Symon de la Chambre, and Robert
de la Chambre are names which occur
in the Ragman Roll between 1292 and
1297.

The loyal attachment of this family to
Charles I. during the great civil Avar occa-
sioned such debts that the barony became
almost alienated in consequence. During
the minority of Capt. Chalmers, the curators
of the estate agreed amongst themselves
that after allotting to each other certain por-
tions of the property at sixteen years' purchase,
they would discharge the outstanding debts
affecting it. A small reserve only was made
in favour of Captain Chalmers, who, when
he returned from service, entered into
a law-suit with them, and succeeded in
recovering two years 1 additional purchase of



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



225



the lands they had thus appropriated, lie
died unmarried, in 1750, when his three
surviving sisters, Mary, Anne, and Elizabeth,
succeeded to what then remained of the
Gadgirth estate. The elder of these having
no issue, left her share of the estate to her
husband, who marrying a second time had
two daughters ; and of these again the
eldest eventually sold her portion to Lieute-
nant Colonel Burnett, the husband of her
younger sister, so that one portion of the
whole, though more than once severed, has
been as often reunited.

The ancient Castle of Gradgirth was a
place of considerable note in its day. Queen
Mary once spent a night there ; and there too
John Knox — a very different kind of visitor
— dispensed the sacrament. It was built about
the beginning of the twelfth century by
Chalmers, Baron de Gaitgirth. In 1808,
Colonel Burnett wished to make additions to
this old pile, which bethought too venerable
to be destroyed ; but it was soon discovered
that the walls, though more then six feet
thick, were in too decayed a state to stand
any longer. He therefore had them pulled
down, and erected upon the same site the
present mansion. It is a plain and unpre-
tending edifice, built in the modern style,
but situated in one of the most romantic
and beautiful spots of Ayrshire. It is sur-
rounded by tine old woods, while the river
Ayr runs past the house at a hundred feet
below it, for the building stands upon an
eminence.

There was a yet older castle than the one
already mentioned, about a quarter of a
mile lower down the river ; and built upon a
whinstone rock that juts out upon the water,
by which it is hemmed in upon two sides.
The fosse, over which was a drawbridge,
surrounded it on the other two ; so that in
early days, when the science of sieges was
imperfectly understood, it must have been a
place of considerable strength, and well able
to sustain any ordinary attacks. Some frag-
ments of it still remain, and are popularly
known under the appellation of" the Old Ha."

GATTON PARK, Surrey, the seat of Lord
Monson, is beautifully situated on the richly
wooded hills that hang over Reigate, and
commands splendid views over the valleys of
Surrey and Weald of Sussex. In the "fore-
ground is a lake of forty acres, fringed with
wood, to which the lawns slope : hi fact, the
drive through the park from the upper lodge
has, for diversity of scenery, been considered
one of the finest in the kingdom.

This property was purchased by Frederick
Lord Monson in 1830, of Sir Mark Wood,
just before the disfranchisement of the
Borough. The Temple (called the Town
Hall) where the elections used to be held,

VOL. II.



still stands under a group of trees to the
north of the House.

The present mansion though not entirely
new, was much altered and added to by
the late lord. The original design was mag-
nificent, but a great portion of it was not
carried out ; of the part completed, the
Marble Hall is the most conspicuous for
its beauty, so much so that there scarcely
exists its equal in England. It is built
from the model of, and with exactly the
same proportions as, the Corsini Chapel
in St. John's the Lateran at Rome :
Lord Monson began it in 1834 ; one of the
first purchases for its embellishment being a
most splendid marble pavement that had be-
longed to Charles IV., King of Spain, and
intended for his Villa in the Monte Palatino,
but never put down. This pavement is com-
posed almost entirely of antique marbles,
principally from the Baths of Caracalla, and
these are relieved by the white Carrara in the
interstices. The walls are also encrusted
to a considerable height with marble ; the
kinds of the greatest beauty and value are
the Fiore di Fersio, the Giallo and Verde
Antico, Cipolino, Brecciata, Sicilian Jasper,
&c, &c. The Frescos are by Joseph Severn,
Esq. The four female figures on the ceiling,
representing Fortitude, Prudence, Meekness,
and Perseverance, are emblems of the chief
qualities of woman. The lunette over the
entrance is from a scene in Sir Walter Scott's
Talisman ; it is an enlarged duplicate of the
one iu Buckingham House. The massive
bronze gates are by Bramah ; these lead into
the vestibule, which contains a hue copy of
the Warwick Vase in Carrara marble ; one
also of a vase in the Vatican ; three exqui-
site antique bassi relievi, from a Roman bath;
others were found at the same time similar
to these, and became the possession of the
Vatican, the King of Bavaria, and Thor-
waldsen.

The Gallery was intended for an organ,
but the great echo in the hall would perhaps
have interfered with the music.

A bust of Lord Monson, by Gibson, is
now placed in one of the alcoves, and over
the entrance hangs a curtain of fine Gobelin.

The Hall was not finished till 1840, and
exquisite as it is for a work of art, the origi-
ginal design was still more magnificent, for
the Frescos were to have been entrusted to
Cornelius, of Munich, and the Sculptures to
Schwantaller, of Berlin.

A marble staircase, which adjoins, remains
unfinished.

The Gallery of pictures contains many
chef cTccuvres. The gem of the collection is
the Madonna di Basso Relievo, of Leonardo
da Vinci, formerly in the Cathedral at Man-
tua, and perhaps the finest specimen of that
Master in England. There are two first-rate

c; G



22G



SKATS OF GREAT BRITAIN'.



Titians, Lorenzo de Medici, by Sebastianodi
Tiombo ; Raphael, by himself ; the Death of
Lucretia, by Rembrandt; David, by Guido,
from the Cathedral at Arezzo ; the Card-
players, by Maer ; and many others by the
Caracci, Guerrino, Canaletti, Borgognene,
Steenwyck, Domenichino, Murillo, &c.

In the drawing-room are many gems of
art, carvings by Grinling Gibbons, works and
cabinets by Benvenuto Cellini ; some beau-
tiful china, including a service of old bleu
de Roi Sevres, and (not to be omitted) a
lovely landscape of Wynants.

The library is entirely fitted up with
ebony and ivory. The sofas, tables, and
chairs, all of ebony, richly carved, came from
Amsterdam; the chimney-piece of Rosso
Antreo, with its clocks and candelabra of
bronze, was a gift from Napoleon to Eugene
Beauharnais on his marriage, and a small es-
critoire, with some curious contrivances
appertaining, belonged also to the Emperor,
and was used by him in his campaigns.

In the breakfast-room are a series of fres-
cos, by Claude, brought from the Muti Palace
at Rome.

There are many valuable paintings in the
private apartments of Lord and Lady Monson,
anions which is a chefcTamvre of Dobsombeina;
a portrait of Endymion Porter, Groom of
the Bedchamber to Charles I.

It would be impossible to recount the
bronzes and other articles of vertu, princi-
pally collected in Italy by the late lord, but
we must not pass over the beautiful Church
that owes so much to his taste ; it is entirely
fitted up with carved oak panelling from
Flanders, Burgundy, and Germany The
pulpit is a fine basso relievo of the Descent
from the Cross, brought from Nuremberg,
and said to beby Albert Durer. The windows
are filled with old painted glass : the south
window in particular is a very fine specimen
of Flemish art at its best period.

BURTON HALL, two miles from Lincoln,
the seat of Lord Monson, is situated in a
park which is particularly well wooded for
this part of the county, and in which, from
a terrace of nearly a mile in length, is a
splendid view over the valley of the Trent, be-
tween Newark and Gainsborough.

Burton was built at the commencement
of the seventeenth century, by Sir Thomas
Monson, Grand Falconer and Master Ar-
mourer to James I. Previous to this (though
the Lordship had been for many generations
in the family), the residence was a mile
distant at South Carlton, am! it was in the
Manor House there that in 1541 Sir John
Monson entertained Henry VIII. in that
progress so fatal to his Queen, Catharine
Howard; Sir John receiving the honour of
knighthood on the occasion.



Of the old Hall, built by Sir Thomas
Monson, the long east front alone now re-
mains; it is in the Elizabethan style with
mullioned windows and pointed gables, and
has been thoroughly restored by the present
lord. The remainder of the building is a
re-erection by John, second Lord Monson,
in 1769, and presents, to the south and west,
a handsome stone elevation. The suite of
six reception-rooms are particularly well
arranged, all communicating with one
another, and yet with separate entrances to
the hall or staircase. The entrance-hall is
panelled with some beautiful oak carvings
representing a series of incidents in the life
of St. Francis; they are of exquisite Flemish
work, and were put up by the present lord.
In the hall, dining, and other rooms, are nu-
merous family pictures of the Monsons,*
and the library contains some hundred
volumes of manuscripts, many relating to
the history of the county, for which Lord
Monson has made collections.

At the lower end of the Park, the site
marked by some buildings called the Kennel
Cottages, were, till within these few years
the quarters of the well-known Burton Hunt,
which has existed for more than 140 years.

GOODRICH COURT, in the county of Here-
ford, the seat of Captain Augustus William
Henry Meyrick, of the Scotch Fusilier
Guards.

The mansion of Goodrich Court may lie
called a modem antique, and one of the most
perfect and beautiful of its kind. It was built
from the designs of Edward Blorc, in the
year 1829, by Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick, the
antiquary, so celebrated in the learned world
for his work upon ancient armour, and it pre-
sents an exact copy of the architecture which
prevailed in this country from the close of
Edward the First's reign to the time of Ed-
ward the Third. " Thus," says one enthusi-
astic writer, " the absurdity of imitating a
castle, and then perforating it with large win-
dows ; of adopting the ecclesiastical style,
or gothicizing a modern villa, has been wholly
avoided." But we cannot help thinking that
there is a great deal of false criticism upon
this subject, which the exercise of a little
common sense would soon put to rights.
Whatever style of architecture we make use
of, whether Grecian, Roman, or Gothic, no-
thing can be clearer than that such style ori-
ginated under different circumstances, and
under different requirements, from those
existing in the present days. Modern dwell-
ings are neither fortifications, nor temples,
nor churches ; they are simply places of
human habitation ; but is that any reason

* Thp Monsons are now one of the oldest families in
the county, having been seated there lor 500 years.



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



09



27



why we should not adopt the ancient styles
of architecture, making such changes as may
best adapt them to modern purposes ? Why
should not a castellated mansion have large
windows ? " Because," replies the purist,
" such windows were never seen in ancient
castles." At this rate we ought not to use
the Grecian orders of architecture, because
they were appropriated to temples. Such
rules are marvellously like the rules of the
three unities, which were broached by pedants
in utter ignorance of the spirit that animated
the great masters. It is the same cry, in
short, the echo whereof has not yet quite
died away, that Pope was the most regular,
and Shakespeare the most irregular, of poets.
Goodrich Court stands upon the summit of
a bold promontory, with a hanging wood be-
neath, that extends to the very edge of the
River Wye. The visitor first comes in sight
of it, soon after leaving Wilton, when the
spires of Sussex Tower and its bartizans ap-
pear through a rare avenue of trees that leads
to the Hill Court, the seat of the late KingsmiD
Evans, Esq. ; but it bursts upon him in full
view as he approaches Glewstone Reach. Im-
mediately after passing the second turnpike
from Ross, we come to the principal entrance,
which is on the highway to Monmouth, and
thence denominated Monmouth Gateway.
Hence a road under the arch of this building
leads by a circuit of about half a mile to the
House itself, where he arrives on the Warder's
Terrace, " from winch the visitor traverses a
drawbridge to the principal gateway, pro-
vided with a portcullis, and flanked by two
round towers. The building comprises two
courts, the inner and outer, divided from
each other by the Grand Armoury. The
north-west front is .moated, and contains the
offices, above, which are the so-called war-
der's chamber, used as a butler's pantry, the
kitchen, housekeeper's room, &c. ; and in a
line on the north east are the drawing-room,
which is in Sussex Tower, the breakfast-room,
dining-room, library, entrance-hall, the ante-
room to the Asiatic Armoury, and the Asiatic
Armoury itself in the Eastern Tower. Parallel
to this are the Hastilude chamber, Grand
Armoury, and Chapel ; and parallel to the
north-west front are the South Sea Room,
and Banqueting Hall. Sussex Tower is to
the left of the gateway as you enter, and
was so called by permission of the Duke of
Sussex. At the extreme right is Heiton
Tower, named after the clerk of the works,
which contains the wash house and laundry.
On proceeding through the gateway, the win-
dows of the Banqueting Hall present them-
selves to the view, and the upper portions of
the Eastern Tower to the left, and the King's
Tower on the right. A porch on the left
side of the inner court leads to the Entrance
Hall. In a cavetto moulding over the arch-



way, in characters of the time of Edward the
Second, is the following inscription :

Auspice Edv. Blore,

Sumptibus S. R. Meyrick,

ADMDCCCXXVUI.

On each side, in the spandrils of the arch,
is a stone shield, sculptured with the ancient
and modern armorial bearings of the family.
On the door are a bronze knocker and key-
hole escutcheon, beautifully designed by
Giovanni di Bologna, the former represent-
ing the destruction of the Philistines by
Sampson."*

Each of the rooms, above named, has its
distinctive purpose, and is well worthy of a
more detailed account than our limits would
admit of. A brief and passing notice is all
we can pretend to give.

The entrance hall is ornamented with
stags' horns of various kinds, antique wea-
pons, and hunting-arms, tastefully grouped.
Its principal curiosity is the Bohemian pa-
voise, specimens of which are rare, and this
belongs to the middle of the fifteenth century.
A staircase leading from it is lighted by a
lamp of Greek workmanship, which was dug
out of the ruins of Herculaneum, and cannot,
therefore, be much less than two thousand
years old. The female masks and horses'
heads, with which it is adorned, are in the
highest style of art, as is also the Janus' head
that forms the lid of the reservoir for oil. On
the principal door is a grotesque carving in
oak— not grotesque in intention — of St. George
and the Dragon. It belongs to the time of
Henry the Seventh, and exhibits the monster
holding his meat-dish in his claws, with the
king's daughter ready upon it for his ex-
pected meal.

From this hall a sally-port with a draw-
bridge leads to the Ladies' Terrace, from
which a second bridge crosses the moat to
some steps that form a pleasant descent to
the flower-garden, and thence through a hang-
ing wood to the river.

The library is on many accounts particu-
larly deserving of notice, both for its con-
tents and the manner of its fitting up. The
carved oak ceiling and frieze were form-
erly in the government house at Breda in
Holland, and were executed by Italian artists
for the Spaniards, who at that time were mas-
ters of that land. There is also in this room
a curious figure of St. George on horseback
in ai mour, and with the puffed and slashed dress
belonging to the time of Maximilian. It is
carved in oak. Upon a table, which itself is
of the time of Henry the Third, are caskets,
inkstands, candlesticks, and divers specimens
of Limoge enamel. Still more curious is the
original edition of 1521 of Henry the Eighth's
Assertio Septem Saeramentorum contra M.

* Fosbroke's Wye Tour.



228



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



Luther, a work which obtained for him from
the Pope the title of Defender of the Faith,
though there can be little doubt of that desig-
nation having been used long before by Eng-
lish monarchs. The frontispiece of the work
was designed by Hans Holbein ; and in one of
the drawers are those curious miniatures by
the same artist, that in addition to their
intrinsic merits are historically interesting.
One is the likeness of the king sent by him
to Anne of Cleves ; the other that of the
lady herself, on seeing which Henry resolved
to marry her. Upon the wall are small por-
traits of Martin Luther and Catherine a Boria,
his wife.

The dining-room, like the exterior of the
building, belongs in its decorations to the
time of Edward the Second. Its ceilings are
formed of cross-beams held by open span-
drils, and supported on foliated corbels of
Painswick stone. The chimney-piece greatly
resembles that in Goodrich Castle. In this
room will be found a valuable collection of
paintings, most of them landscapes and sea-
pieces by Dutch and English artists of emi-
nence. Here also are some beautiful ivory
carvings framed and glazed, of the time of
Edward the Second, representing scriptural
subjects ; while the walls are moreover de-
corated with the romance of Sir Tristram, and
the fabliau of the Comtessi de Vergy.

The drawing-room is an octagon, the roof of
which is groined with gilt bosses, and here
again we find an imitation of the style belong-
ing to the time of the second Edward. The
window is copied from one in the Ladies' Tower
at Conway Castle. Six of the sides are com-
posed of niches ; the others are occupied by
various paintings. In the centre stands an
oaken table, imitated from the only remaining
specimen of the kind, which is preserved in
the chapter-house at Salisbury ; and upon it
is a pair of spiked candlesticks, formed of cop-
per, enamelled, seven hundred years old, with
one about fifty years later, probably the ear-
liest specimen with a nozzle, and aii inkstand
composed of various pieces of similar work,
of the same age, four very curious dishes, and
some rare ivory caskets.

The Asiatic Armoury is in character with
its name. The cornice is taken from one of
ornaments in the Moorish palace of the Al-
hambra, the paper being imitated from the
same original. The armour collected here is
such as would be expected from the designa-
tion of the chamber.

The South Sea Room is filled with the rude
weapons, feathered cloaks, and other imple-
ments and utensils proper to the islands of
the Southern Ocean.

Henry the Sixth's Gallery is a hundred and
six feet long. On the right hand is a niche,
wherein is a figure accoutred in a most mag-
nificent suit of armour, and probably without



a parallel. It was made for the Duke of
Ferrara, to whom Tasso addressed Ids
"Jerusalem Delivered," is beautifully em-
bossed with bas-reliefs, and inlaid with gold.
In 1814 it was destined to adorn Bonaparte's
retreat at Malmaison, having been actually
packed in satin, and put into a case for the
purpose of being forwarded to Paris. Luckily
for the real owner, Napoleon had been com-
pelled to abdicate before it could be sent off,
and thus it remained at Modena till honestly
purchased by Sir Samuel Meyrick.

The Banqueting Hall is fifty feet long,
and has the Minstrel's Gallery over its
entrance. The floor and panelling oak ;
so too are its pointed arches that rest on
corbels of stone. An oriel window looks out
upon the River Wye, Goodrich Castle, and
the picturesque valley of the Lea Bailey. In
this room are several interesting pictures;
such as Philip the Second of Spain, by Coello,
the Spanish Court painter ; his daughter
Isabella and her husband the Archduke
Ferdinand of Austria ; Lord Howard of Effing-
ham, who commanded the English fleet when
opposed to the Armada ; Villiers, Duke of
Buckingham ; Cornet Joyce, who appre-
hended Charles the First, etc., etc. In niches
are sundry valuable casts, and instead of half
panelling are dwarf book -cases that contain
a collection of rare and valuable volumes.

The Hastilude Chamber is so arranged as
to give a complete representation of a joust
with the lists, royal box, heralds, and all the
other adjuncts of a tournament.

As a companion and fit exponent of this, is
the Grand Armoury, eighty-six feet in length,
with a gallery running along three of its sides.
In this is collected every sort of warlike
implement of all times and of all countries.
Some of a rarer kind are kept for their better
preservation in glass cases, some surround
the oaken columns that support the roof, and
others stand between them or in niches. Ten
suits appear on horseback, and several on
foot, from the time of Edward the Third to
that of James the Second, presenting the
most complete collection of the kind in the
whole world.

The^ Doucean Museum is a room of a more
peaceful character, containing a valuable
collection of antiquities, works of art, and
scientific objects. It takes its name from the
late antiquary, Francis Douce, by whom these
rarities were presented to Sir S. Meyrick.

The Ante-Chapel, again, presents an entire
change of scene. It is fitted up in the
Roman Catholic manner, with altar-piece,
confessional, font, and eagle-desk. In the
upper part of the altar-piece are four female
saints, carved in oak, of the time of Edward
the Fourth, while figures of the same period
surmount the finials of the whole. In the
lower part are alabaster carvings of the time



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SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



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of Edward the Second, Edward the Third,
and Henry the Sixth. On each side of the
lectern, or reading-desk, is an ancient crosier
of the twelfth century, and two processional
crosses stand near the altar.

Sir Gelly — Gethley's — Chamber is thus
named after an ancestor of Sir Samuel Mey-
rick, who first settled in Herefordshire, rie
was an especial favourite with Robert, Earl
of Essex, and obtained, by his influence, a
grant of Wigmore Castle, and of several
manors in this county ; but he lost both life
and estates from loyal attachment to his
patron. The room is decorated according to
the fashion in Queen Elizabeth's time, with
panelling, which, in this case, is most beauti-
ful, having been taken from a house at Malines,
in which Rubens used to paint. The finely
sculpturedoaken chimney piece is ornamented
with the ragged staff fired, which is the family
badge, and the Welsh adage :

" Genius without wisdom
Is fire in the hands of folly,"

A curious clock, a rere-dos, or iron fireback,
with the arms of Queen Elizabeth embossed
upon it, cabinets, and fine pictures, are also
among the rarities of this chamber.

It would seem that almost every room in
this noble mansion had its appropriate name
and distinctive character; but we have already
noticed the most important, and from this
may be collected an idea of the whole
building. A reference to Mr. Fosbroke's
pleasing little book, to which our account is



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 50 of 73)