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A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) online

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of England were present, v.hen the Bessels



118



SEATS OF GRExlT BRITAIN.



of the day o^'erthiew a stranger-knight, who
had previously arrived and cliallenged him
to single combat.

Upon tlie breaking out of the great Civil
War, tlie known attachments of the owner,
Lenthall, to the parliament, makes it most
unlikely that Bessels Leigh would escape a
visitation from the royalists. While Charles
the First lay in garrison at Oxford, he des-
patched a certain Swedish engineer in liis
service, by name Beckman, with two hun-
dred men, to take possession of tliis place.
Unfortunately for the royalists, the news of
their attempt and success reached General
Browne, who commanded the garrison of
Abingdon for the parliament. Immediately
upon the receipt of it he marched out to
Bessels Leigh, and having dislodged the
royalists proceeded to " serve Beckman, the
engineer, according to his deserts."

Li 1784, the old manor-house was most
illegally destroyed, and the fine avenue of
elms and limes cut down.

DSAYTON HOUSE, Thrapstone, Northamp-
tonshire, the seat of William Bruce Stop-
ford, Esq., in rigJit of his wife Caroline-
Harriet, dau and heir of the Hon. George
Germain, and niece of Charles, last Duke of
Dorset. Before the Conquest the manor of
Drayton was possessed by Oswiuns, a Saxon
nobleman. William the Conqueror, in divid-
mg his newly acquired dominions among liis
followers, allotted Drayton and its appen-
dages to Alberic de Vere, father of Aubrey
de Vere, the Lord High Chamberlain of
Henry I. His eldest son was Aubrey de
Vere, first Earl of Oxford, and his second,
Robert de Vere, to whom he gave the lord-
ship of Drayton as his patrimony. " This
manor and lordship consisted at that time of
a fair ancient castle, encompased with four
large high walls, erabattailled round with
such fortifications as were necessary, both for
resistance and offence."* To this Robert de
Vere, Lord of Drayton, succeeded Sir Henry
de Vere, who left Drayton to Sir Walter, his
son, who from the great love he bore to it
assumed the name thereof; and under that
cognomen this family continued to possess it
until the reign of Edward IH., when Cathe-
rine of Drayton married Sir Henry Greene,
Lord Chief Justice of England, It continued
in the family of Greene for four generations,
till the time of Edward IV., when Constance
Greene, the only daughter and heiress of
Henry Greene, the then Lord of Drayton,
carried it into the fimiily of Stafford, by her
marriage with John, first Eail of Wilt-
shire, third son of Humplirey Stafford,
first Duke of Buckingham. But on tlie
death of her only son Edwaid, second

* Vide Il^ilstead's Genealogies, p. 7.



Earl of Wiltshire without children, Drayton
returned to the heirs of Isabella Greene, the
sister of the before-mentioned Henry Greene.
She Jiad married Sir Richard Vere, and her
grand-daughter, Elizabeth de Vere, as sole
heiress, carried it again out of the families of
Greene and De Vere, into that of Mordaunt,
by her marriage, in the reign of Henry Vfl.,
Avith John, the first Baron JMordaunt, who
died at Drayton in tlie second year of Queen
Ehzabeth (1562). John Mordaunt, the first,
and Henry, second, Earl of Peterborough,
added to it, and embellished it considerably.
In 1677, it came into the possession of Henry
Howard, seventh Duke of Norfolk, by his
marriage in that year with Lady Mary iMor-
daunt, only child and heiress of Henry,
second Earl of reterborough. H e was divorced
from hei in 1700, and in 1702, she married
Sir John Germain, and dying without children,
left Drayton to her second husband, Sir J.
Germain, who married subsequently Lady
Elizabeth Berkeley, second daugliter of
Charles, second Earl Berkeley. Sir John
Germain died in 1718,and at his death devised
his seat of Drayton, and all he had acquired
of the Mordaunt estate, to his second wife.
Lady Elizabeth, who constantly resided there
till her death in 1769.

At her death another transition of this
ancient place took place : Lady Elizabetli
Germain bequeathed it to Lord George
Sackville, third son of Lionel, first Duke of
Dorset, who accor(Jing to the terms of the
will took the name of (lermain along with
the estate, and was created in 1782, Viscount
Sackville of Drayton. He died in 1785, and
was succeeded by his son Charles, as second
Viscount Sackville, afterwards fifth Duke of
Dorset. At his Grace's death^in 1843, he
bequeathed Drayton and his other estates
to Caroline-Harriet, daughter of his only
brother, the Hon. George Germain, who mar-
ried in 1837, William Bruce Stopford, Esq.,
son of the Hon. and Rev. Richard Bruce
Stopford, Canon of Windsor, fourth son
of James George, second Earl of Cour-
town.

Tlie north front of the mansion is of
considerable extent, and retains more than
any other parts of the building the charac-
teristic features of the Tudor style of do-
mestic architecture. Upon one of the gables
of the inner court is sculptured the date of
1584 ; but the mansion shows a great variety
of style, each possessor, and more particu-
larly in the time of William HI., having
made alterations to please his own taste and
ideas without any reference to the general
structure. Yet even these caprices have
not been able to prevent its still being one
of the finest houses in Northamptonsliire.

Tlie whole building is of stone, and of
great extent, the principal entrance being



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



119



on the south front, formed by very handsome
gates of wrought iron. The stone piers of
the centre gate are sculptured with massive
ti-opliies of Roman armour and weapons,
and are surmounted by eagles, the heraldic
symbol of the Mordaunts being the sup-
porters of the family arms ; while upon the
piers of the side gates are large vases,
crested with eagles. This entrance opens
upon a spacious quadrangular court, enclosed
by palisades, Avith a drive round a circular
grassplot in the centre. The main building
at the farther end of this court is embattled
in the style of our very early castellated
architecture, with a rusticated arch leading
to a second court, over which is a large
shield of arms in a panelled compartment.

This inner court is lavishly ornamental,
the sides being fronted with a Doric colon-
nade that completel}^ masks the old face of
the building, while balusters crown the en-
tablature, and on eitlier side the centre is
occupied by shields of arms. At the ex-
tremity is a facade, displaying all the rich-
ness that so peculiarly cliaracterises the
Corinthian order. The entrance, which is
in the centre of this facade, is approached
by a flight of stejos, and the entablature of
the door-way is finished by a pedimented
compartment, with a shield of the arms of
Germain, bearing an escutcheon of the arms
of Mordaunt. The whole is crowned with
vases. The angles of the court are tilled
with rusticated piers, above which may be
seen the embattled turrets of tlie original
Tudor building. Two large towers of that
age are now terminated by cupolas and
vanes.

But though the mansion itself exhibits so
many distinctive marks of its various occu-
piers, the gardens, Avhich were formed in the
reign of Queen Anne, have undergone little
or no alteration. The wall that encloses the
ground is still surmounted by vases, placed
at mtermediate distances, and the grounds
retain that air of architectural formality,
which characterised the pleasure grounds of
most mansions before the great reformation
of English gardening.

ABEEGLASNEY, in the Yaleof Towy,Caer-
marthenshire, the seat of John Walters-
Philipps, Esq., a Magistrate for the counties
of Caermarthen, Cardigan, and Pembroke, and
High SheritY of the first named shire in 1841.
At one time this estate was possessed by the
family of Thomas, three of whom were high
sheriffs for tlie county at different periods.
In the course of time it came into the pos-
session of the Rudds, wdio enjoyed the honour
of the baronetage. One of this name Avas
Bishop of St. David, and proved a great
benefactor to the county, leaving by his will
a small estate there in the hands of trusteesto



secure an annual income to five unmarried men.
He also established almshouses for the same,
giving the nomination to the proprietor for
the timeof Aberglasney. He was succeeded
by his son, Sir Rice Rudd, who served the
office of High Sheriff in the years 1619 and
1G37. A handsome antique monument to
his memory is to be found in the parish
churcJi of Llangathen.

Aberglasney next devolved by purchase to
Robert Dyer " a solicitor of great capacity
and note," in whose family it remained for
about a hundred and fifty years. But, not-
withstanding the solicitor's fame and capacity
in his own day, it is by his son, John Dyer,
the poet, that the name is remembered iu
our times. Jolm, the author of Grongar
Hill, The Fleece, and various other poems,
was by profession a clergyman, a profession
Avhich, no doubt, added to his personal com-
fort, but in all likelihood, as it made any
great exertions necessary', so it prevented
him from toiling at works that would have
produced him a higher reputation. Most
assuredly the talent was not wanting. Like
Scott's Guy I\Iannering, the youthful poet
was destined to ha^-e many narrow escapes
in life, all of which he has thus recorded in
his .MS. diary : —

" 1J04. Fell, when a child, into a tub of
scalding wort.

"1704. Fell on a case-knife, which, want-
ing a handle, was stuck upright in the
ground.

" "1709. Fell into a well— Job's Well,
Carm'thens."

He also met with the accident, if accident
it can be called, of receiving a box on the
ear, whereupon he ran away from school and
his father, and played the vagabond for three
or four days, being at last found by some of
his friends at Windsor. But to resume the
tale of his actual escapes.

" 1724. Narrow escape in a storm at
Catwater, off Plymouth harbour in my voyage
to Italy.

" 1725. Narrow escape at Baiae from
some banditti, who harboured in the ruins
there.

" 1728. A surprising escape on liorseback
on a very narrow wooden bridge (in N.
Wales), about fifty feet above rocks and a
great torrent of water, which frightened the
horse, who could not turn for the narroAvness
of the bridge, and entangled his feet in the
side rails, &c.

"Escape at Higham when a hole was made
in a chamber for a pair of stairs."

Surely no individual before him ever met
with so many, unless it was Gulliver or
Robinson Crusoe.

Dyer was originally brought up to the
law, but to this he soon evinced an insuper-



120



SEATS OF GREAT ClUTAIN.



able dislike, and upon his father's death
adopted the profession of a painter ; this led
to his sea-escapes and his meeting with the
banditti at Baiae, for it induced him to visit
Italy for improvement in liis new occupation.
Eventually he abandoned it for the more
lucrative and less uncertain profession of the
church, and in 1741 was presented by Mr.
Harper to the living of Catthorpe, in Leices-
tershire, worth aliout eighty pounds a-year,
a small but welcome stipend to a man who
had injured his health by too much study,
and who really enjoyed the retirement of a
country life. That lie was not a pretender in
his love of solitude, as is tlie case with many,
may be inferred from the following little
poem, which is not generally known, and has
never been published except in the Falrician —

" Have my friends in the town, the gay busy toNvn,
Forgot such a man as John Dyer ?
Or heedless forgot they or pity the clown,
"S\Tiose bosom no pagentries fire ?

"No matter, no matter— content m the shades, —
(Contented ? Why everytliing charms me),
Fall in tunes all adown the green steep, ye cascades,
Till hence rigid vii'tue alarms me.

" Till outrage arises, or misery needs
The s^\ift, the interpid avenger ;
Till sacred religion, or liberty bleeds.
Then mine be the deed and the danger,

" Alas ! what a folly, that wealth and domain
We heap up in sin and in sorrow ;
Immense is tlie toil, yet the labour how vain !
Is not life to be over to-morrow ?

" Then glide on my moments, the few that I have,
.Smooth, shaded, and quiet and even ;
'\\niile gently the body descends to the gi-ave,
And the spirit arises to Heaven."

About sixty years ago this estate came, by
purchase into the hands of the Philipps', in
which family it now remains.

The mansion is a large square building,
each side of which exceeds eighty feet, and
is supposed to have been erected about five
hundred years ago. It can hardly be said to
exhibit any one peculiar style of architecture,
so many alterations having been made from
time, and each of the possessors consulting
his own taste rather than the original cha-
racter of the building. The entrance-hall is
spacious, being forty feet by twenty-four,
while in height it is also twenty feet. It has
three floors, with a colonnade carriage-
entrance standing on plain, light, Ionic, pil-
lars, and the principal part contains upwards
of twenty Avindows.

An old-fashioned terrace walk, elevated
on high arches, with castellated walls, forms
part of the garden-enclosure. This terrace
presents three sides of a square, the side-
Avalks extending, each to the length of a
hundred and fourteen feet, while the front
walk is a hundred and thirty-four feet. From
these is a pleasant and extensive view of tlie
surrounding country.



BAETOII LODGE, near Preston, in tlie



county of Lancaster, the .«eat of Charles
Roger Jacson, Esq. The original seat, called
Barton Old Hall, was a brick edifice, erected
about the time of King Henry the Eighth,
with two gables in front, a projecting wing
and mullion windows. It is now used for a
farm-house. The more modern house was
built in view of it about a hundred years
ago, probably by the father of the late James
Shuttleworth, Esq. It stands upon an
elevated site, in the midst of a Park, well
wooded and watered, and is of the Grecian
style of architecture.

Till about the year 1612 this estate was
held by the family of Barton, and till 1834,
by that of Shuttleworth. It then came into
the possession of tlie late owner, George
Jacson, Esq., one of the magistrates for the
county of Lancashire.

ALDERSEY HALL, Cheshire, the seat of
Samuel Aldersey, Esq., whose family has
been located here since the time of the Nor-
man Conquest, nearly eight hundred years.
At what period it was first built is un-
known, but it Avas once a farm-house,
which was converted into a residence about
one hundred and fifty years ago by the Rev.
S. Aldersey, the family having for nearly
three centuries lived at another estate in the
same county, called Spurstow Hall.

Aldersey, which is situated in a pictu-
resque valley looking toward tlie Broxtou
Hills, was partly rebuilt and much enlarged
in 1807, by the present possessor. It is a
square house of three stories, covered with
Roman cement, and having a handsome
portico. Tlie park-like grounds consist of
about three hundred acres, with two en-
trances, one of them being through an
avenue. At each end there is an appropriate
lodge.

Leland speaks of salt works in this town-
ship. There is a brine spring of sufficient
strength to leave an occasional incrustation
on the banks ; but from the distance of any
coal mine, salt has not been made here for
many years.

EATON HALL, formerly YEATON, Congle-
ton, Cliesliire, the seat of Gibbs Crawfurd
Antrobus, Esq., who in 1834 was High-
Sheriff, and is now a Magistrate and Deput}'-
lieutenant of Clieshire.

Tlie manor of Eaton first occurs as having
been held by the family of Praers of Bad-
diley. After some changes, not very dis-
tinctly marked out, we find it in the fomily
of the Breretons, the last of whose male line
conveyed it to William Rode, of Rushton
James, in Staffordshire, gentleman. By one
of liis descendants, it was sold to George Lee,
Esq., and he at his death devised it to George



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



121



Ayton, Esq., who had married his niece, and
now assumed the name of Lee in addition.
This gentleman, jointly with his son, Mr.
George Lee, on whom the estate was entailed,
subsequently disposed of it to Mr. Philip
Antrobus, and from him it passed by bequest
to his brotlier, Sir Edmund Antrobus, Bart.
Hence it has regularly descended to the pre-
sent owner.

The house is a brick building, with stone
coins and mullions, in the Elizabethan style
of architecture, and was built in 1829, by
Gibbs Crawfurd Antrobus, Esq. Even the
older mansion, which was pulled down to
make way for it, does not appear to have
been of very ancient date, but rather to have
belonged to the reign of George the First or
Second. The present house stands on ele-
vated ground, to the left of the road from
Wilmslow to Congieton, from which it is
distant about a mile. The prospect, which
it commands over the vale of the Dane, to-
wards the Staffordshire hills, is exceedingly
interesting.

GKAYTHWAITE HALL, Lancashire, the
seat of Myles Sandys, Esq., a magistrate and
deputy lieutenant of the county. TJie road
to this mansion from ILawkslied, winds along
the west banks of Esthwaite Water, and
afterwards up hill and down dale, shrouded
in coppice for nearly four miles without a
human liabitation. It was formerly a forti-
fied strong-hold, witli a moat and two towers
to protect it from the Scotch marauders, who
often carried their inroads into this seques-
tered spot. These, however, in the process
of time have been removed, as the taste of
the difl'erent proprietors led tliem to extend
the prospect, and make alterations for tlie
increase of convenience within. It now pre-
sents the appearance of a handsome stone-
built structure, in the Elizabethan style of
architecture, flanked on the east by a tower,
and having its front wings connected by an
arcade. The effect of the house is much
heightened by its locality, standing as it does
in the midst of extensive pleasure grounds,
that slope downwards to the park, Avhich
itself is environed wdth luxuriant woods.
Added to these natural advantages, it is not
far distant from the celebrated l^ake of Win-
dermere, and is beyond doubt the principal
abode in Scatterthwaite. Of late years it
has been considerably improved by the pre-
sent owner, who has expended great sums in
enlarging its accommodations, and adapting
it to the necessities of modern life. In the
course of these alterations, about eight years
since, the family arms were found, covered
with plaister, on the outside wall of one of
the rooms that were being pulled down. They
Avere in as perfect a condition as when first
cut, and bore the date 1178, and being con-



sidered a curiosity, have been placed in the
south wing of the mansion.

Tlie family of Sandys came into Furness
in the reign of Henry the Sixth, towards the
latter end of which William Sandys married
Margaret, cousin and heir of Thomas Raw-
linson, abbot of Furness, and Avas great grand-
father of Edwyn Sandys, archbishop of
York, ancestor of Lord Sandys of Ombersley,
in the county of Worcester. From this an-
cient stock the present possessor of Gray-
thwaite derives his pedigree.

Graythwaite Hall is sometimes called
Graythwaite High, as distinguishing it from
Graythwaite Low, wliich, in the reign of
Henry the Eighth, Avas the abode of the
Sawreys. The Hall has never been out of
the possession of the Sandys.

AUCHINCRUIVE, in the county of Ayr, the
seat of Alexander Oswald, Esq. The exact
dateofthe old building is unknoAvn, but it must
have been erected at least five hundred years
ago. It is mentioned in Barbour's " Wal-
lace," and the Laigland Wood still exists,
in Avhich we are told that Wallace lay hid
before burning the barns of Ayr. It has
passed successively through the families
of the Cathcarts and Murrays, into that of
the present possessor.

The house Avas rebuilt in 1767 by Richard
Oswald, Esq. of Auchincruive, but though
convenient, it is not remarkable for archi-
tectural excellence. To make amends, the
grounds are extensive, and of much natural
beauty.

BOTTISHAM HALL, Cambridgeshire, half
way between Newmarket and Cambridge,
the seat of George Jenyus, Esq., a distant
relative of the wit and poet of the same
name. In 1797 the old house was pulled
down, and the present mansion was built by
the Rev. George Jenyns, on a site not far
remoA'cd from its predecessor. The new
building is a Avhite brick house, in the mo-
dern style of architecture, and has attached
to it spacious gardens, pleasure grounds, and
a park of one hundred acres. There is also
a tine avenue of lime trees.



ELAISE CASTLE, Gloucestershire, about
four miles froju i'.ristol, the seat of John
Scandrett Harford, Esq , a magistrate for
that county, who served the office of sheriff
for Cardiganshire, in 1824. He is also
Doctor of Civil Law in the Uni\'ersity of
Oxford, and belongs to a family of high
antiquity, the cunabula of the race having
been at Bosbnry in Herefordshire.

The mansion is a simple but spacious

K



122



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



and elegant structure of stone, seated on a
gentle eminence, amidst park and wood-
land scenerj'- of exquisite beauty. It con-
tains a fine collection of pictures, and
is surrounded by tasteful pleasure-grounds.

The approach to it is conducted with
gi-eat skill through the winding recesses of
a deep glen, diversified by bold rocks and
hanging woods, whicli make a stranger almost
imagine, for the moment, that he is travers-
ing a fine scene in the Highlands.

The castle, which gives its name to the
place, is m reality a handsome castellated
belvidere of a circular form, with three towers
at equal distances. It is situated on the
summit of Blaise Hill, and occupies the site
of an ancient chapel, dedicated to St. Blasius,
a bishop of Sebaste, in Capadocia, who suf-
fered martyrdom under the Emperor Dio-
cletian. The interior of this edifice is very
handsome, and the prospect Avhich its summit
commands is justly deemed one of the finest in
the West of England. It includes a bold fore-
ground, composed of masses of the glen and of
the park scenery already described, beyond
which the eye ranges, in one direction, over
the broad estuary of the Bristol Chaimel and
the Severn, bounded by the Welsh hills, and
in the others, over a vast extent of near and
distant scenery most rich, varied, and
beautiful. The castle stands on the verge of
a profound precipice, covered with forest
trees and beautiful evergreens, among which
are seen two fine corresponding masses of
rock, traditionally called Giant Goram's chair.
Old Camden, in his account of Gloucester-
shire, refers to these rocks as " the Giant's
Chair:'

Tlie walks which conduct to the castle
sire fraught with liighly romantic views.
The hill on Avhich it stands was originally a
British camp, and Avas subsequently occu-
pied by the Romans. The entrenchments
may easily be traced out among the recesses
of the wood, and numerous Roman coins
have been at difi'erent tunes dug up from
among them.

On the verge of the plessure-grounds is
situated a cluster of beautiful cottages,
called Blaise Hamlet, picturesquely located
round a small village green. Tliey were
designed by the late John Nash, Esq., and
are great objects of attraction to Clifton and
the neighbourhood.



SCOTNEY CASTLE, Sussex, the seat of
Edward Ilussey, Esq. It stands on the
west side of the Bewlc, a small stream that
here forms the boundary between the coun-
ties of Kent and Sussex, and was held at a
very early period by a family who took
their name from it. In the reign of Henry
the Third it was possessed by Walter de



Scoteni, who had the misfortune to be tried
and hanged at Winchester in 1259, for poison-
ing William, the brother of Richard Earl of
Clare. Yet the estate would not seem to have
been forfeited to the Crown. In the reign of
Edwai'd the Third it was possessed by the
Ashburnhams, and from them it passed in
the time of Henry the Fifth to Archbishop
Chichely. At a later period it went with
Florence, his niece, to the family of the
Darells with whom it remained till 1774.

Of the ancient edifice, which was castella-
ted as early as the time of Richard the
Second there are but few reliques. It had
at each angle a machicoUated tower, but
that on the south angle is the only one that
now remains ; and tliere was also a gate-
house with a guard-room, of which two up-
rights are till standing.

The new mansion, erected after the design
of Anthony Salvin, Esq., is a handsome
building in the Tudor style of architecture,
and was built by the present owner in 1837.



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