Bernard Burke.

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

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so much indebted, will supply further infor-
mation.

Sir Samuel Meyrick died in 1848, be-
queathing the whole of this noble collec-
tion to his executors, Mr. Kirkmann, the
Chancery barrister, and Mr. King, York
Herald, upon trust to transfer the same to
his cousin, Captain Augustus William Henry
Meyrick, of the Scots Fusilier Guards.

GREAT BILLING, Northamptonshire, about
three miles from the city of Northampton,
the seat of Gary Charles Elwes, Esq.
. As this place is called in the Doomsday
Book Bellmge, and the Anglo-Saxon Bda
denotes " paleness or blueness," while Linan
signifies "a kind of shrub," it has been sup-
posedly some that the etymology of the
word is allusion to the ling, with which the
parish at one time abounded. This appears
exceedingly doubtful, but we have no more
feasible derivation to offer.

In the time of Edward the Confessor,
Thor held Bellinge freely, from which it
appears that it was allodial, or folkland,
subject to no superior, and to the king only
in a feudal capacity. William the Conqueror
after the battle of Hastings, confiscated Thor's
lands, and bestowed them upon Gilbert the



Cook, so called from his office, but at his
death they reverted to the crown. The
manor then became divided, and passing over
a long intervening period, we come to the
time, when it was purchased by Sir Barnaby
O'Brien, who in 1639 became, upon the death
of his brother, sixth Earl ofThomond. From
one of this family it was purchased in 1776
by Lord John Cavendish, fourth son of Wil-
liam, third Duke of Devonshire. Afterwards,
his brother, Lord Frederick, succeeded to the
estate, and sold it to Robert Cary Elwes,
Esq., of Roxby in Lincolnshire, who was
sheriff of the county in 1802.

Bridges tells us, " The Earl of Thomond
hath here an handsome old house with plea-
sant gardens adjoining." The present mansion,
the exact date of which is uncertain, was
erected nearly on the site of the old by Lord
John Cavendish. It must therefore have
been built in 1776, or somewhere subsequent
to that time, but certainly not at any anterior
period. The designs for it were made by
Carr of York, who from being bred up a» a
common freemason, at Horbury, came to be
an architect of no little celebrity. It is a
handsome commodious edifice, of Kingsthorpe
stone, with east and west fronts, and from
its elevated situation is one of the most con-
spicuous objects of the district.

In the pleasure-grounds is a remarkably
fine holly, which has been the subject of
much inquiry and admiration amongst visi-
tors as well as with the people of the neigh-
bourhood. There also are to be seen some
magnificent rhododendrons, and a variety of
other kinds of trees, many of which attain to
a goodly age and size.

NEW HALL, Warwickshire, about two
miles from Sutton-Coldfield, and five miles
froin Coleshill, the seat of Hugo Mal-
veysin Chadwick, Esq.. the heir and re-
presentative of the famous old families of
Malveysin, Ca warden, and Chadwicke. It
has successively been possessed by the Deve-
reux', the Sacheverells, and the Chadwicks ;
in which last-named family it has long re-
mained, and still continues. New Hall, in its
original part, is the oldest mansion in the
county, excepting Warwick Castle. Although
nothing certain is known about its date, we
shall perhaps not be very wrong in assigning
it about the year 1140. That it was re-
paired in 1250 is beyond question, and since
that time it has often received various ad-
ditions and improvements. In part it is of
the Elizabethan order of architecture ; so
that the whole has a picturesque but a uni-
form appearance. It is surrounded by a
deep moat, through which pass two clear
running streams ; so as at all times to insure
a plentiful supply of water. The south
front is the most striking portion of the



230



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



edifice ; in it are those three material objects,
the Rookery Tower, the High Tower, and
the Water Tower; close to which a party of
soldiers was concealed during the time of the
great civil Avar between Charles and his
Parliament.

The mansion stands in a fertile and richly-
wooded valley, remarkable for its air of per-
fect seclusion. In its vicinity are several
large and well-known houses belonging to
various landed proprietors ; such as Moor
Hall, the seat of the Hacketts ; Pype Hall,
the seat of the Rev. Egerton Bagot ; Four
Oaks, Penns ; and many others, as well as
the beautiful and rural village of Sutton
Coldfield, with its quaint old church, standing
on a hill that overlooks the vale beneath in
its extent to Arden Forest.

Mr. Chadwick is also the possessor of

MAVESYN RIDWARE, Staffordshire, four
miles from Wolsey Bridge in the rich and
verdant valley of the Trent. This property
at the time of the Norman Conquest was
given by the victorious William to the
Malvesyns — corrupted into Mavesyns — ■
for their good service at Hastings and
elsewhere. The origin of the name is not
a little significant. The old chronicler tells
us that when a besieging army erected a
tower or castle near the place besieged, such
castle was called, in the French, a Malvois'ui,
that is, a dangerous neighbour to the enemy,
because it narrowed his resources, and
lessened his chances of relief.

It appears by the roll of Battle Abbey
that our Malvesyn was one of those two
hundred and sixty knights famous in the
Conqueror's army ; and his name is recorded

Danvey et Devesyn,
Mature et Malvesyn,

This compound appellation of Malvesyn-
Ridware, has arisen from the circumstance
of there being three Ridwares, which it was
necessary to distinguish from each other,
though it is probable that in the very early
Saxon times, the three formed but one dis-
trict. These lordships lie adjoining to each
other on the northern bank of the Trent,
being chiefly confined within the angle
formed between that river and the Blythe,
immediately above their confluence. Shaw
imagines that the combined district was
called Ridware, from its situation on those
rivers, and from the many marshy fords, by
which alone it could be approached in those
clays from the north, the east, and the south.
Rhy'dour in British signifies, theriver-ford, or
water-ford; also Rltydware, from the British
Rhyd a " river or ford," and the Saxon wara
" dwellers," may denote the people dwelling
at or between the rivers, or fords. It is
likely that Ryddwure, a place hi Montgome-



ryshire, is a word of the same meaning, and
derived from the same source ; but this word
is said to be certainly a corruption of the
British RhaicuVr or " cataract ;" and though
in this sense it cannot be applied to the ri-
vers here mentioned, yet if we reflect on
the versatility of language, and how consi •
derable a part of this district was hemmed
in, during a flood, between two formidable
torrents, it may lead us to pause, rather than
to speak decisively, whether the Saxon Rid-
ware was, or was not, derived from the Brit -
ish RhaicuVr, resting satisfied, however, that
the name does undoubtedly allude to these
watery boundaries.

A bold and turbulent race were these
Malvesyns, and well deserving of their name,
being quite as dangerous to their neigh-
bours as any castle could be, the origin,
as we have just seen of their formid-
able appellation. The last of the race had a
deadly feud with the Handsacres, who
dwelled on the southern side of the Trent,
and after having slain his adversary, he
himself fell at Shrewsbury, fighting in the
cause of Henry the Fourth when Percy had
risen in arms against him.

This estate next devolved to the Cawar-
dens by marriage with Elizabeth, the eldest
daughter and co-heiress of Sir Robert Mal-
vesyn. After several descents it passed
to the family of Chadwicke, partly by pur-
chase, and partly by marriage with Joyce,
the fourth daughter and coheir of the pre-
ceding owner of the estate, Thomas Cawar-
den, Esq.

The face of the country in the neighbour-
hood, is agreeably variegated, and adorned
here and there with forest- trees ; but the
woods and coppices, which once abounded
within the manor, have to a certain extent
disappeared. That such was once the case is
sufficiently clear, since in old deeds we often
find named " the lord's wood, his outwood,
and his forester ; with leave for the tenants'
hogs to'feed in the woods of Ridware- Ma-
vesyne ; and in 1452, the park was well
stocked with oaks; also the name of hurst-
hay, hollyhurst, and others similar, still re-
main."

The old Hall at Malvesyne, which dated
from a very remote time, was taken down
about one hundred and fifty years ago, and
a smaller residence, a shooting and fishing
box, erected upon its site.

DUDWICK HOUSE, Barton, in the county
of Norfolk, the seat of John Wright, Esq.
The site of the present House, with a small
estate attached to it, has been in the posses-
sion of the Wrights for four or five centuries.

Dudwick House was built about the year
1700, by Richard Wright, Esq., an ancestor of



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



231



the gentleman now occupying this estate.
Its architecture belongs to that style which
was introduced in the reign of Queen Anne,
of which it is more easy to say what it is
not, than what it is. It is neither Grecian
nor Itoman, nor Gothic nor Elizabethan ;
and yet it is far from being unpicturesque.
The surrounding park is well timbered,
though of no great size ; and has many fine
trees of various kinds.

KEELE HALL, in the county of Stafford,
the seat of Ralph Sneyd, Esq., who served
as high sheriff for the county in 1844. Prior
to the dissolution of monasteries by Henry
the Eighth, this estate belonged first to the
Order of Knights Templars of St. John of
Jerusalem ; and subsequently to the Knights
Hospitallers, or Knights of Malta. After the
general confiscation of the monastic property,
the first family seated here were the Sneyds,
and with them it has ever since continued,
a striking contrast to the decadence that we
sometimes see amongst the noblest houses.

This mansion was built beween the years,
1560 and 1580, by Ralph Sneyd, Esq. (son
of Sir William Sneyd), who married Mary,
daughter of Walter Chetwynd of Ingestre.
But one portion of a much earlier construc-
tion, appears to have belonged to some former
mansion, and to have been incorporated
with the building just mentioned ; which is
of red stone and in the Elizabethan style of
architecture. The north-west and south-east
fronts are the most modern portion of the
whole. They are of a bold bastard Gothic,
highly picturesque in themselves, though
somewhat inconsistent with the original
character of the edifice.

The family of Sneyd was pre-eminently
royalist, and suffered for it accordingly in
the time of the great civil war. By order
of a Parliamentary Committee, sitting at
Stafford, Keele Hall was deliberately given
up to pillage, Feb. 29. " Ordered," says the
manuscript journals of the Committee, "that
Keel House be forthwith demolished by Cap-
tain Barbar's soldiers" — and nothing lothe
were Captain Barbar's soldiers to fulfil the
duty assigned to them by their superiors.
So much was it a work of love to them that
they did not forget to pillage the Evidence
Room — the depository of the family docu-
ments — and commit them to the flames.

PRISKILLY, Haverfordwest, Pembroke-
shire, South Wales, the seat of John Hill Har-
ries, Esq., a magistrate and deputy lieutenant
for the county, and late major of its militia.

According to Archdeacon Pain's Index
and Digest of the Statutes, Grants, etc., in the
Chapter House, St. David"s, a.d 1305, in
respect to " the manor of Castell Maurice, in
Pembrokeshire," which includes the forest of



Priskilly, Geoffrey Le Brett, and his wife
Cicelina, at the instance of Sir John Wogan,
Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, did, for a
certain sum of money, by himself paid, release
and grant to the Bishop of St. David's all
their lights and claims within the said manor.

The earliest known family residing here
was that of Owen, which appears from ex-
isting deeds to have been settled upon this
estate in the reign of James the First. It
cannot, however, be ascertained at what
period they received a grant of it.

The House is of no regular order of archi-
tecture, and when the present occupier came
into possession of it, had grown much dilapi-
dated by age. He immediately set about
repairing and improving it, and it now presents
the appearance of a comfortable country
residence, such as befits the habits and re-
quirements of a private gentleman of fortune.
It stands embosomed in wood, and skirted by
the Western Clwyd. The grounds are ex-
tensive, and, like the gardens, kept in the
best possible order.

STAUNTON HAEOLD, Leicestershire, the no-
ble ancestral hall of Earl Ferrers, is situated in a
beautiful valley near the north-western border
of the county, and four miles from Ashby de la
Zouch. The adjunct to the name is derived
fron Harold de Lecha (the owner of the estate
in the time of Henry II.) whose descendants
subsequently took their surname from the
place. By a marriage of the heiress of the
Stauntons with Ralph Shirley, Esq., this
fine estate became part of the possessions of
the very ancient and now noble family of
Shirley, a family of whom it may be said
that scarcely any other has produced a
greater number of distinguished men and
beautiful women. In a Genealogical History
of the House of Shirley, by Thomaston Ca-
loleimos (Sir Thomas Shirley) after recount-
ing the several remarkable distinctions of
this celebrated family, it is stated that " the
fifth prerogative is most commendable intheyr
bright and renowned alliances, havenge the
honour to be joined in a near degree of pro-
penquitie of bloude with the royal stemm of
England, both Saxon and Norman, as like-
wise Fraunce, Scotland, Denmarke, Arragon,
Leon, Castele, the sacred Romayne Empire,
and almoste to all the princelye houses of
Christendome."

The erection of the present magnificent
structure was begun on the site of the former
mansion by Washington, fifth Earl Ferrers,
in 1770. The earl, who had risen in the
naval services of his country to the rank of
admiral, and had been elected F.R.S. in com-
pliment to his valuable observations on a
transit of Venus, and to his many useful dis-
coveries in nautical science, was a nobleman
of exquisite taste, and he indulged it by



232



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



realizing at Staunton Harold his beau ideal
of an English nobleman's country seat.

The design of the Hall was wholly his
lordship's own, the ground plan is a Roman
H, and though this form has been pronounced
by competent authorities to be unfavourable
to architectural display, Staunton Harold
affords ample proof that it is neither incom-
patible with great external elegance nor with
great internal beauty and convenience.
The style is Palladian judiciously modified
and varied, and two of the fronts are equal
in architectural effect to the very best works
of Palladio. The south-east front is of free-
stone, the other portions of brick with stone
quoins and enriched dressings. The library
front (as that of the north-east is called) was
designed by Inigo Jones, and this beautiful
portion of the older mansion was judiciously
preserved in the earl's plan. There are up-
wards of sixty rooms in the Hall, the princi-
pal ones in size and fine proportions are
not inferior to those of any private residence
in the kingdom. It was however reserved
for the present earl, to finish and furnish a
great number of them, as they had been for
eighty years in the incomplete state in which
the fifth earl had left them at his decease.
The ancient park was of great extent, but it
was disparked and reduced to about 150
acres by the fifth earl. Under the present
noble possessor the beautiful grounds that
surround the mansion have been very care-
fully attended to, and after the neglect of
nearly a century Staunton Harold is rapidly
realising all the fine conceptions of its noble
founder. A streamlet that runs through
the park is swollen in front of the mansion to
a very charming lake, and beyond the lake
stands the private chapel, a chaste specimen
of the decorated style erected by the good and
gifted Sir Robert Shirley, 1653, of whom it was
said, "he did the best things in the worst times
and hoped them in the most calamitous."
On the whole, Staunton Harold, though from
its secluded situation it is little known to the
tourist, may be pronounced to be in the
very first class of English County Seats.

( 'hartley Castle, another seat of Earl
Ferrers, is noticed elsewhere.



PORT ELIOT, near Saltash, Cornwall, the
seat of the Rt. Hon. Edward Granville Eliot,
Earl of St. Germans.

The parish of St. Germans is the largest in
the county, its circumference being upwards of
twenty miles, the greater part of which is ara-
ble land. The seat now called Port Eliot, was
formerly the Priory of St. Germans ; but at
the dissolution of monasteries it came into
the hands of John Champernoune, Esq.
Connected with this, Carew relates a some-
what fanciful story, which though it has been



often repeated, we will, as Menenius says,
" venture to scale't a little more."

"John Champernoune, son and heir appa-
rent to Sir Philip of Devon., in Henry the
Eighth's time, followed the court, and
through his pleasant conceits, of which much
might be spoken, won some good grace with
the king. Now when the golden shower of
the dissolved abbey lands rained well near
into every gaper's mouth, some two or three
gentlemen, the king's servants and Mr.
Champernoune's acquaintance, waited at
the door where the king was to pass forth,
with purpose to beg such a matter at his
hands. Our gentleman became inquisitive to
know their suit ; they made strange to im-
part it. This while out comes the king;
they kneel down ; so doth Mr. Champernoune ;
they prefer their petition ; the king grants
it ; they render humble thanks, so doth Mr.
Champernoune. Afterwards he required his
share, they deny it; he appeals to the king ;
the king avoweth his equal meaning in the
largesse ; whereon the overtaken compani-
ons were fain to allot him this priory for
his partage."

A successor of this crafty and fortunate
petitioner sold the estate to the Eliots, from
whom it has ever since been denominated
Port Eliot, from its being situated upon
the river, nigh the old town of St. Ger-
mans, smce then reduced to a poor fishing
village.

The most complete account of this place
has been given by Brown Willis in his
Notitia Parliamentaria — so complete, indeed,
as to make an extract from his work much
more likely to satisfy the reader than any-
thing we could say upon the subject ; and we
give it the rather as the Notitia is a book
not likely to come into many hands.

" The fabric, of which the priory, &c,
having been rescued, together with the
church at the dissolution, from the common
fate of monasteries, I shall crave leave to say
something in relation to them, first premising
that nothing else in the town merits obser-
vation, the houses being very meanly built
and irregular, and situate on an uneven rock,
affording no tolerable reception for travellers
or people come to the market, to which the
town pretends a title, and has a small
peddling one on Fridays, almost unfre-
quented. The little trade it drives is by
fishing in Tidiford River, which about ten
miles downwards, empties itself into the
harbour of Plymouth," — he should have said
the Tamer — " washing the lower parts of the
town. It is a handsome large building,
containing several spacious rooms, and has a
court before it, adorned with a strong pierre
by the present proprietor, Edward Eliot,
Esq. — who has much beautified the whole
building— against the banks of the river. In



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



233



the dining-room, which you enter at the
north side of the great hall, and which was
the monks' refectory, are several arms of
the matches of the Eliots, painted on the
portal ; and in a bow window of ancient
work yet remain, in painted glass, the arms
of Arundel quartering Carminow, azure, a
bend or. — probably one of the Arundels was
a benefactor to this priory — and likewise the
arms of this priory, as I suppose, a sword
and two keys indorsed in saltier, impaling
Ouldham, Bishop of Exeter, as I suppose, by
the mitre over it — sable, a chevron or.,
between three owls proper, on a chief of the
second, three roses gules ; as also these arms
on another shield, viz., argent, three bells or.,
which I conjecture to have belonged to
Robert Swimmer, last prior of this monas-
tery, in whose time this window is supposed
to have been glazed, and in all probability
that part of the house built, and these arms
then put up."

So far Brown Willis ; but this matter is
rendered doubly curious by its preserving
the memory of what has long since passed
away, for Carew tells us, in a note upon this
passage : " Since Mr. Willis wrote this, all
this part of the house hath been pulled down,
and nothing of the old priory left standing,
or at least in the form it formerly was. This
room, which he hath been describing, was
the old refectory, or dining-room of the
convent ; and the first arms, viz. the keys
and sword, are the arms of the see of Exeter,
as indeed any one might have guessed by
the mitre over them. The bells or. — for I
take the colour of the field to have been
defaced by the weather — were most probably
the arms of the priory ; for before the rooms
were pulled down, I have observed the same
arms in several parts of the old house : and
this refectory with the bay- window in it was,
I verily believe, one of the oldest buildings
in the old priory, and probably enough
erected at the charge of one of the Arundels,
there being no other indication to guess at
the time of its erection, but that it must have
been since the match of Arundel with Carmi-
now s daughter and coheir, which was in 1353.
The late Mr Eliot bestowed great sums of
money in repairing and adorning the house ;
but as it was done in piecemeal, there was
nothing very regular in it. But had he lived,
he would have made it as delightful as the
situation would bear, it lying low and facing
the north, on the river Lyner — which Mr.
Willis calls Tiddiford River — which opens
to a large bason before the house, very plea-
sant when the tide is in, but something
offensive when it is out, from the smell of
the ooze and mud, to prevent which, the
said Mr. Eliot had a design to run a large
thick rampart below the house, from point
to point, with a large flood gate in the

VOL. II.



middle, by means of which he intended to
keep the bason constantly full, and by
opening the said gate when the tides were
high, to let new water in, as well as what
fish came up the channel ; as he likewise
proposed to have a large canal of fresh water
above the house, by stopping up by a dam
all the bottom under the kitchen-garden,
through which there runs a small rivulet ; so
that he would always be supplied both with
river and salt-water fish, besides the beauty
of the prospect. But he was suddenly cut
off by death in the prime of his age."

Since the time to which the above extract
alludes, many other alterations and improve-
ments have been made, both in the House
and grounds. Amongst the more prominent
features of the adjoining scenery, may be
noticed a branch of the River Tidi, which
spreads its waters into a lake dike expanse
to the north front of the mansion, from the
windows of which may be seen the outline
of the hills and the tower of Landrake
Church. Upon the banks of the river is a
spot called the Craggs, that has been ap-
propriated to pleasure-grounds.

Lord St. Germans also possesses the
estate of



DOWN-AMPNEY, Gloucestershire, on the
extreme verge of that part of the county
which adjoins Wiltshire, about five miles
from Cirencester.

In the time of William the Conqueror, at
the making of the general survey, this manor
belonged to Radulph de Todeni, but was
subsequently annexed to the crown. In the
year 1250, Edward Crouchback, Earl of
Lancaster, the second son of Henry III.,
granted it in fee to Nicholas de Villers,
the common ancestor of Villiers, Duke
of Buckingham, of the Earls of Jersey
and Clarendon, and of the Earl of Grandison
in Ireland. In this family it continued until
the time of Edward III. About the com-
mencement of Richard II. 's reign, it was
bought by Sir Thomas Hungerforcl, the first
Speaker of the House of Commons, with
whose descendants it remained until 1645,



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 51 of 73)