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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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stroyed, the original editor of his Avorks
having only given us what he terms " Heads
of a Conversation betwixt the Author and
Ben Jonson," a set of disjointed fragments,
that do not in the least tend to familiarise us
with the speakers,

STRATTON-STRAWLESS, Aylsham, Nor-
folk, the seat of Robert Marsham, Esq., a
Magistrate and Deputy-lieutenant for the
county. This appellation is derived from



the town of Marsham in Norfolk, where the
family maintained a prominent rank so far
back as the time of Henry the First.

Straiton is probably a name of Roman
origin, being Stratum, street or way, that
leads to the Roman settlement at Bramp-
ton. " It passes," says Blomefield, " by
several names for distinction from the
other toAvns of the same name in this county ;
as Stratton Parva, juxta Hevingham,
juxta Buxton, juxta Brampton ; but
more commonly in the last centuries by
that of Stkawless, it standing in the
midst of a heath where formerly no corn
grew." Science, however, assisted by in-
dustry has shown that corn will grow very
well liere, the ground having been frequently
in due season covered with abundant har-
vests, while other parts of this once sterile
tract exhibit some of the finest timber to
be seen in England. One tree has in par-
ticular been selected for admiration ; this
is a uioble cedar of Lebanon, which rises
from the ground forty feet before it beai's a
branch ,• and at five feet from the earth is
nearly thirteen feet in girth. It is said to
contain full tAvelve loads of timber.

In the Confessor's time this estate be-
longed to Herold ; and at the Conqueror's
survey the chief part was held by Walter
GifJard, and Avas appendant to Marsham
manor : after various transitions it passed by
inheritance into the hands of Sir Edward
Clere, Knt., Avho sold it to Henry Marsham,
Esq., and A\-ith his descendants it still
remains.

The mansion is large, and built of Avhite
brick, consisting of a centre and tAvo Avings
that form a long facade, and extend from
east to Avest in the centre of the Park.
The A'iev/ on all sides is bounded by
woods. On the north side the ground slopes
gently down tOAA-ards the lake. The plea-
sure-grounds are extensive, and planted
Avith choice shrubs and trees, but more
particularly v/ith evergreens that have
prospered here to an unusual degree. One
of these is a Holly sixty feet high, and four
feet eight inches in circumference.

EVERLEY MANOR, CO. Wilts, the seat of
Sir Francis D. Astley, Bart. Near the north-
eastern boundary of Salisbury Plain — like
an oasis in the desert — is situated the Manor
of Everley, with its fertile lands, its ancient
Manor House, its tAvo retired, Avell ordered,
and peaceful Adllages, and its commodious
farm-houses, betokening, from the large
ranges of agricultural buildings, and the
numerous ricks, and other signs of abundant
produce, a more than common share of
agricultural Avealth and intelligence. The
history of this j\Ianor is interesting. The
author of the " Magna Britannia,"— says



114



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



that it was parcel of the vast possessions of
Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Lancaster. On
the division of his estates between his two
daughters, Maud and Bhinche, tliis Manor
became the property of j\Iaud, and slie dying
without issue, it descended to her younger
sister, Blanche, who married John of Gaunt,
fourth son of Edward III. Henry of Boling-
broke, afterwards Henry IV., inherited the
estate. In the time of King Edward VI., a
grant of the Manor of Everley, and Park,
and Free Warren was made to Edward,
Duke of Somerset, the Lord Protector, on
whose attainder it reverted to tlie Crown,
and was afterwards granted by Queen Eliza-
beth to her royal falconer, Sir Ralph Sadleir.
Sir Ralph was notoriously fond of all field
sports, and particularly of hawking, and he
could not have found a place in tlie whole
kingdom better suited to his tastes than
Everley. Indeed he shows his appreciation
of its many advantages, in this respect, by
having built the Manor House, and made it
his residence, when permitted to retire for a
while from his public ofhces and political
anxieties. He was a distinguished man in
his day, and highly employed by tlie Crown.
Lloyd says in his " State Worthies," —
" Little was his body, but great his soul."
And he also adds this extraordinary testi-
mony to his worth, — " He saw the interest
of this estate altered six times, and died an
honest man ! " After remaining for some
time in the family of Sadleir, this Manor
passed to Sir John Evelyn, whose daughter
and sole heiress, Elizabeth, married Robert
Pierrepouit, Esq. From the Evelyns it
passed to the Barkers, who sold it to Sir
John Astley, Bart., of PattishuU, from
whom it has descended to the present Ba-
ronet, Sir Francis Dugdale Astley. When
this ]\Ianor became the inheritance of Francis
Dugdale Astlej'', Esq., the grandfather of
the existing possessor, it presented a very
different appearance to that Avhich it now
wears. The church, built by W^illiam de
Wykeham, the lAIaiior House, erected by
Sir Ralph Sadleir, and the ancient village of
East Everley, were in close jnxta position,
affording a pleasing instance of tliat old
English mode of arrangement which at once
betokened security and social comfort and
reliance. But here, as in almost innume-
rable other similar instances, the village
and churcli were removed to a more conve-
nient distance, the old Manor House was
enlarged, and the style of the exterior pro-
bably altered, and Everley House now ex-
hiliits to the passer-by rather the semblance
of a modem English mansion, with its
verdant and undulating park, its groves and
spacious gardens, and well-arranged pad-
docks, than a possession of the once warlike
Plantagenets, or the residence of the Royal



Falconer of Queen Elizabeth. A portion of
the interior of the mansion will, however,
well repay the inspection of the curious. It
remains as occupied by Ralph Sadleir. The
old drawing-room is particularly worthy of
remark, as an interesting specimen of the
style of interior decoration adopted in the
country mansions of those days. The ceil-
ing between the massive girders is a kind of
labyrinth of raised work, richly gdded — the
wainscoting is of oak, and a genuine portrait
of Sir Ralph Sadleir in his costume as Queen's
Falconer, liaving a hawk on his arm, and
one also on his crest, has been judiciously
replaced by the present owner in the position
it probably occupied nearly three centuries
ago.

But there is another remnant of ancient
days, Avhich to the present lords of the
manor is of even more interest than the
foregoing. It is a painting which hangs in
the hall, being a copy from the curious ori-
ginal, Avhich, as we are mformed, is still to
be seen at Astley Castle, in Warwickshire,
where it has proliably been preserved from
the remote period of the actions it records.
It is in compartments, each recording the
progress of these transactions, viz., the feats
of arms performed at Paris before Charles
VII. of France, and before Henry VI., at
Smithfield, by that redoubted knight Sir
John de Astley, of PattishuU. The various
portions of this curious historical record
have been also most skilfully and beau-
tifully worked in tapestry by the lady of Sir
John Astley, the first possessor of Everley,
and ornaments the ancient drawing-room
which we have just described. Among the
family portraits, that of this famous Sir John
de Astley is most interesting and valuable.
It is in every respect a fine painting. Tlie
countenance displays a character of stern
determination, and the frame of the sturdy
warrior, muscular and sinewy, gives a fair
earnest of that invincible strength which
overcame in deadly encounter two of the
most noted champions of his day.

The country around Everley, partaking as
it does of the general characteristics of Sal-
isbury Plain, }-et is more undulating and
varied than most of that extensive tract. Its
ancient aspect has, however, been much al-
tered of late years by the bi-eaking up of
large portions of the Downs. Dwarfish oaks
of every fantastic shape, clusters of ancient
thorns covered with the grey lichen, and
hollies of great age and large dimensions,
have been in many places destroyed to
make way for the plough, and it is now
only in certain places that the original and
wild forest character of the scenery can be
discerned. But in the remains of early
British and Saxon occupation the manor of
Everley abounds. Tumuli, earthen Avorks,



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



115



high banks, and deep trenches, marking for-
mer habitation, meet the eye in every direc-
tion, and proudly prominent above all stands
the almost isolated eminence called Chid-
bury Hill, exhibiting on its apex one of the
most formidable entrenchments in the country.
This " camp," as it is termed in the vicinity,
is seen from all surrounding parts, and com-
mands an extensive view over the whole
Plain. It encloses seventeen acres within
the ramparts, is double ditched, the deptli
of the vallum being forty-six feet. It was
probably one of that vast line of entrench-
ments which was thrown up by the aborigi-
nal Britions against the Belgje, when the
latter invaded and took forcible possession
of a considerable portion of Hampshire and
of Wiltshire. At the foot of this bold
eminence Sir Richard Hoare discovered the
remains of a considerable British village,
and on opening some of the numerous bar-
rows which crowd the vicinity, he met with
many interesting relics, consisting of cups,
sepulchral urns, pointed pieces of metal,
deposits of burnt bones, pottery, flint, arrow-
heads, spear-heads of brass, and other im-
plements of the same metal. One discovery
he made in his researches here, was of so
interesting a nature that we cannot refrain
giving the account in the learned antiquary's
own words. The tumulus in question he
called " The Hunter's Barrow : "—"It had a
large cavity in it, and appeared to have had
a previous opening, and the shepherds of
the Plain assured us that it had been pre-
viously opened. But having so frequently
experienced the fallacy of these vulgar re-
ports, we were not deterred from making
the trial ; and we were highly recompensed
for our perseverance by the discovery of one
of the most interesting interments we ever
Avitnessed. The first object that attracted
our attention was the skeleton of a small
dog deposited in the soil, three feet from
the surface ; and at the depth of eight feet
ten inches we came to the bottom of the
barrow, and discovered the following very
perfect interment deposited on a level floor.
The body of the deceased Briton had been
burned, and the bones and ashes collected
in a small heap, which was surrounded by a
circular wreath of the horns of the red deer,
withm which and amidst the ashes were five
beautiful arrow-heads, cut out of flint, and a
small red pebble." — Vide Ancient Wiltshire
Tvmuli, p. 22.

This was an interesting memorial of the
habits and feelings of past ages ; and for
others, equally instructive, we must_ refer
the curious to the works of Sir Ei chard
Hoare, who was indefatigably employed for
many years in the investigation of British
antiquities, and in the opening of tumuli in
the counties of Wilts and Dorset. Some



have protested against these latter proceed-
ings as a wholesale desecration which the
results have not sanctioned. The various
articles procured in these researches are now
in the Museum of British Antiquities at
Stourhead, the residence of the Hoare family.
But not only tlie Britons, but the Saxons
also, are known to have occupied this in-
teresting district, and Chidbury Camp was
doubtless used by them as one of their prin-
cipal strongholds.

Tradition assigns a residence of the Great
West Saxon King Ina to have existed near
Everley House, and from the foundations of
extensive buildings visible in a field behind
the East Everley farm, it is not improbable
that these indicate the site of the ancient
palace. What adds to the probability of
this suggestion is the fact of an ancient
raised road extending from Chidbury Camp
a considerable distance in this very direc-
tion, plainly establishing a communication
between the camp and the palace and its
dependent village. That this ancient way
was not the work of the Britons is manifest,
from its cutting through one of the large
tumuli in its course. What adds also fur-
ther to the probability of this interesting-
historical fact, is the circumstance of a large
pond in the centre of the ancient village of
East Everley, and close to the site -we have
mentioned above, being still known as " the
King's Pond." But were we to pui-sue to
their extent the details of all worthy of ob-
serration in this neiglibourhood, so rich in
antiquarian gems, we might fill a volume.
When we add to the intellectual enjoyment
which these scenes afford the exhilarating
purity of the atmosphere — the singularity
of the landscape — the wild state of nature
in which much of this tract is yet wrapped,
vfe may quite accord with the feelings of
Sir Jolin Astley of Pattishull, when he left
the rich and warm and woody plains of Staf-
fordshire for the more bracing and healthy
Downs of South Wiltshire.

KEEDHAM HALL, county of Norfolk, one of
the seats of Henry Mussenden Leathes, Esq.
It takes its name from the adjacent village of
Reedham, so called from the quantity of
reeds in the neighbouring marshes. To the
latter is attached a romantic though not very
probable tradition. According to this,
Lodbroy, a Danish king, — or, as some say, a
king of Zealand — while hawking in a boat
amongst certain small islands, was carried
out to sea by a sudden tempest, and being
driven ashore here by its violence, w\as
brought before Edmund, king of the East
Angles, then residing at Castor in Fleggs
who in a short time became attached to him
for his general conduct as well as for his
very great skill in hunting This wrought



116



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



SO much jealousy in Bern the royal falconer,
that he murdered him prirately in a wood.
But the Dane had brought with him a
faithful dog, and the prolonged absence of
his master exciting attention towards his
movements, it soon came to be observed
that the animal would be missing for
two or three days together, when he
would return, to all appearance half
famished, but only to again absent him-
self the moment he had been fed. Here-
upon king Edmund gave orders that he
should be closely watched, and, as he
seemed rather to invite than to shnn their
following him, it was not long before the
secret of the murder came to light. Bern
was immediately brought to judgment upon
suspicion, and being found gtiilty, was con-
demned to be put into tlie same boat that
Lodbroy had come in, and set adrift without
tackle or provisions. It so happened that
the little bark was carried by Avind and tide
to the very same spot from which it had
started, when the boat Avas recognised and
seized, and Bern being questioned, declared
to save himself, that Lodbroy on his arrival
in England had been killed by order of the
king of the East Angles. Upon this the
tAvo sons of Lodbroy voAved vengeance
against the supposed assassin, and having
sailed to England in company with Bern,
murdered the guiltless and hospitable mo-
narch.

In the early Saxon days Reedham Avas
held by Brierie, but he was dispossessed of
it at the time of the Norman Conquest, and
it then fell to the Scohies, who assumed
the name of Reedham according to the
custom of that age. After several de-
scents in this family, ]\Iargaret daughter and
sole heiress of Sir William Redham con-
veyed this property by marriage to Thomas
Berney, Esq., whose ancestors had taken
that name from the tOAATi of Berney in Nor-
folk. On the sale of the estates of Richard
Berney, Esq., in or about 1700 the estate
came to Sir James Edwards of London, and
afterwards to Sir Lambert BlackAvell,
Bart. In the early part of the present cen-
tury it Avas enjoyed by the family of the
Batons.

The Hall as it now stands, was built by
Henry Berney in 1587.

RED HALL, Darlington, co. Durham, the
seat of Robert Colling, Esq., J. P., is situated
on the banks of the river Skerne, close to
the rural village of Haughton-le-Skerne. The
pure an- and dry situation of this village
have occasioned it to be called sometimes
" the Montpellier of the North." There are
extensive foundations on the estate of Avhat
was probably the ancient hall, of Avhich no



vestige remains, save perhaps a portion of a
good old oak staircase, noAv worked into the
farmhouse near. The former building was
probably, " as red as Rotheram College,"
'/. e. one of the early and notable examples
of the bright red brick. There is incleed
very fine red clay on the spot, and a place
is pointed out from Avheuce, it is said, bricks
Avere made. Red Hall formed a portion of
"Haughton Field," a wide district OAvned by
the Lambtons of Stainton. It passed from
them to the Chaytors and Killinghalls in
moieties, and about 1G66 Avas inclosed. In
1698, the property was purchased by Mr.
Robert Colling, ancestor, through a series
of Rol^erts of the present owner. In 1625,
Charles I. demanded of his richest subjects
a loan, " doubting not but that, this being the
first time he had required anything in this
kind, he should receive such a testimony of
good affection Avith such alacrity and readi-
ness as might make the same so much the
more acceptable, seeing he required but that
of some, which fcAV men would denj^ a friend,
and had a mind resolved to expose all his
earthly fortune for preserA-ation of the
general." Of JMrs. Lambton, of Red House,
he required £15, Avhich, of course, the lady
had to pay, for, after Henry the Eighth's
time such demands were considered impera-
tive. They were badly or not at all repaid,
and were one great cause of raising the
kingdom to the ferment which ended in tlie
overthrow of royalty. Tlie miserable rem-
nant of a A'ery ancient causeway, extending
from Northallerton to Durliam runs past the
Hall, under the name of Lingfield Lane ; and
it is tradition that there Avas once a direful
struggle to prevent the enemy crossing the
ford Avhcre Haughton Bridge noAv stands.
Weapons of war and bones have' been found
about the place. The present many-gabled
mansion was built in 1830, from the designs
of P. W. Wyatt, Esq., of London. With a
mostpictiu-esque outline, it combines extreme
interior comfort of arrangement, Avithout
elaboration of ornament ; solid but not
heavy. Mr. Wyatt's genius prompted a
plan upon the spot and on the spur of the
moment. It was successfully carried out
without any material alteration, and the
architect deserves much credit for making
so much of a rather difficult situation.

HERHINGFLEET HALL, Lowestoft, SulTolk,
the seat of Henry Mussenden Leathes,
Esq. The village of Herringfleet, from Avliicli
the Hall takes its name, is Avritten in Domes-
day book, and in all ancient deeds, Herling-
flet, and HarlingHet. Flet, in the Saxon
language, signifies " the habitation of a churl
or husbandman," wheiice it may be inferred
that the compound expresses the farm-stead
of the son of Harl.



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



117



In the reigu of King John this property
was held by Roger Fitz Osbert, avIio soon
afterwards founding a priory in the village,
Tvhich he dedicated to the Virgin Mary and
St, Olave, the Lordship of Herringfleet was
conveyed to the prior of that conventual
establishment. Upon the suppression of this
house, in 1546, the manor with other estates
in Herringfleet, was granted to Henry Jer-
negan, Esq., and Frances, his wife. In the
reign of James the First, it was alienated by
the Jerncgans to J\Iatliew Bedell, citizen
of London. It was next in the possession
of the Aubreys, when Elizabeth, widow of
Herbert Aubrey, of Clehonger, in Hereford-
shire, convej^ed it to Edward Taverner, Esq.,
of the same county.

By his descendant, Francis Taverner, it
was disposed of to Sir Edmund Bacon, of
Gillingham, and he in a few years sold it to
Hill Mussenden, Esq., M.P., of Quiddenham,
in Norfolk ; but the site of Herringfleet Hall
was not included in the transfer of the manor
and estate ; thai was purchased of Sir
Thomas Allin. Mr. Mussenden, dying
without issue bequeathed all his estates to
his brother, Carteret Leathes, Esq., of Bury
St. Edmunds, Avho had taken the name of
Leathes, in conformity to the will of his
imcle, William Leathes, Esq. : with his
descendants it still continues.

The family of Leathes is very ancient,
and would seem to have come from Leathes-
water in Cumberland, whence they derived
their name. At all events they were settled
there at a period little subsequent to the
Norman conquest, and there continued until
Adam de Leathes, in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth disposed of his inheritance to
the inhabitants. From him descended
William Leathes, of the county of Antrim,
in Ireland, who rose in a short time to much
emuience itnder the Duke of Marlborough.
In the reign of Queen Anne he was pay-
master-general to the forces ; and in the
reigu of George the First minister plenipo-
tentiary at the courts of Brussels and the
Hague. He left his property, as we have
just stated, to his eldest nephew, Carteret
Mussenden, on condition of his assuming
the name and arms of Leathes.

When Hill Mussenden, Esq. — as above
mentioned — purchased the site of Herring-
fleet Hall from Sir Thomas Allin, he erected
a shooting box upon it, some rooms of which
yet remain. To these the present mansion
was added by the uncle of Henry M. Leathes,
Esq., in the modern style of architecture, but
with a Grecian peristyle. It contains a fine
collection of cabinet paintings, by Herman,
Vander Mijn, and other great masters.
Amongst these is a splendid full-length
portrait of William Leathes, painted while
he was minister at Brussels, for which the



artist, Vander Mijn, Is said to have received
fifteen hundred pounds.

Contiguous to the house are a park and
wood, and pleasure grounds exhibiting beau-
tiful specimens of the ilex, laurel, and other
evei-greens. The north boundary is termi-
nated by a handsome piece of water, sur-
rounded by wood of various kinds. Within
the limits of the estate, or close upon it, are
several curious reliques ; such as the priory
of St. Olaves, near the ancient ferry across
the river Waveney, or rather, we should
say, the ruins of St. Olave, for nothing now
remains of it but a few walls and disjointed
portions in a very shattered condition : a
curious old mansion, called Blocker Hall,
which, though much modernised, retains
many features of the domestic style of build-
ing peculiar to the Elizabethan period ; and
lastly the old manor-house, now converted
into a farm-house, but which was for along
time the seat of Sir Nicholas Bacon.

The whole of Herringfleet belongs to
Henry Mussenden Leathes, Esq., who is
likewise lay prior of St. Olave's, and as such
receives the tithes, appoints his curate, and
has an annual immunity from the rector of
]3urgh. He is also the Lord of Reedham,
in Norfolk, which has been already noticed,

EESSELS LEIGH, near Abingdon, Berk-
shire, the seat of Kyffin-John-William
Lenthall, Esq., who is also the possessor of
Maynau Hall in the county of Caernarvon.
The manor belonged anciently to the family
of Leigh, from whom it passed by a female
heir, to that of Besils. On the death of
William Besils, Esq., in 1516, Elizabeth,
daughter and sole lieiress of William Besils,
Esq., conveyed it by marriage to Edmund
Fettiplace. Of the Fettiplaces it was pur-
chased by WiUiam Lenthall, speaker of the
Long Parliament, who occasionally resided
here.

The old manor-house was probably as
ancient as the time of Edward the Third,
and in all likelihood was partly built by one
of the Leighs, large additions and altera-
tions having been made by the subsequent
possessors. Queen Elizabeth is said to have
paid here more than o)ie visit, and consider-
ing the great fancy she at all times displayed
for feasting with her loving subjects, the
thing seems probable enough. Certain it is
that Cromwell, Hampden, and many of the
most distinguished parliamentarians were
frequently entertained here, which was no
more than might be expected, since the place
had by this time become the property of then-
favourite, Speaker Lenthall. At a yet
earlier period, in the reign of Edward the
Third, Lelaud tells us that agrand tournament
was held here, at which the King and Queen



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 79)