Bernard Burke.

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

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called Hell-Jwle. To commemorate this
event an old subterranean chamber in one of
the towers, since removed, received the same

A second door in the banquet- hall com-
municates with a large cellar, this being a
rare remain of a singular ancient custom.
In tlie olden time it was usual for the gen-
tlemen after dinner to retreat, for the pur-
pose of drinking, to a cellar adjoining the
great hall, which with that view was always
kept in the utmost order, and this vault is
the more curious from the fact that there
are few houses now remaining with similar

Tlie library, a large Gothic apartment, is
entered from tlie oak drawing-room. The
chimney-piece of this noble chamber is
ornamented with tho arms of the Lj-ttons,
St. Johns, Beauchamps, Robinsons, Stanleys
of Hooton, and Grosvenors. A double
flight of stairs leads to the state-rooms, the
carved balustrades of which support the
lion rampant, one of the ancient crests
brought into the family by its alliance with
the Strodes. The staircase itself is hung
with trophies of armour of the time of
Henry the Seventh and Henry the Eighth,
and also with various pictures, some being
family portraits. The windows are blazoned
with descents from the alliance with Barring-
ton and that of the St. Johns.

The first state-room, though small is



ancient, and curious fi-ora its walls being
covered with old stamped leather, richly
gilt, and in high preservation, while the
wood-work is grotesquely carved in panels.
Upon the ceiling are painted the arms of
Sir Rowland Lytton as heir general to the
families of Booth, Godmanster, Oke, Bur-
navil, and Durward.

Between this room and the long ante-
room there is a communication. The latter
deserves notice as being hung with bugle
tapestry, of which it is probable tliat there
does not exist in England a second specimen.
From thence, an oval drawing-room con-
ducts to the old Presence Chamber,
converted by modern liabits into a drawing-
room, upon the ceiling and windows of
Avhich are ninety-nine quarterings brought
in through the ancient families of Norreys
and Robinson in the time of Anne, while
the frieze below shows the arms of the de-
scents of the late Mrs. Bulwer Lytton from the
ancient Britisli kings through Sir OAven Tudor
and Elystan Glodrydd, — from the Plantage-
nets througli Ruth Harrington — and from the
Tudors througli Sir Wm. Norreys' marriage
with AnneTudor,aunt to Henry the Seventh.
Amongst many relicks of the olden time
preserved in this room are two Gothic
cabinets, belonging to tlie age of Henry the
Seventh, sets of cliairs with the old cloth
of gold, a very cin-iously carved and gilt
procession of our Saviour to the cross (the
workmanship of the fourteenth century),
and^some ebony tables that were made in the
time of Henry VIII. "With these are blended
some rarities of a very opposite character ;
such for instance as chairs of solid ivory and
gold that once belonged to Tippoo Saib.
Yet more interesting to the antiquarian are
the pictures that may be said to present a
sort of historic gallery, illustrating our an-
cient chronicles. Artists themselves are too
much in the habit of undervaluing portraits,
for what pictures after all aflect the mind so
strongly as these shadowy representations of
the great and the good of other times? Among
the i)ortraits in these rooms, is a remarkable
head of Shakespere in profile, at the age of
31 — the original of a very rare engraving of
the Poet, which is prefixed to it-^here too, in
the midst of his kindred companions, are the
portrait of Sir Philip Sydney, his own gift to
Sir Rowland Lytton ; the vera effigies of Ed-
ward the Sixth, — and rendered doubly valua-
ble, asinthe former instance, by having liecn a
gift from him whom it represents toWilliamde
Lytton, his governor of Boulogne Castle — the
likenesses of Lord Strafford and his wife, and
many others of scarcely less A'^alue. P>ut
every room in the house teems with rarities
of one kind or another. The collection of
armour scattered about is excellent, furnish-
ing specimens from the time of the Cru;-aders

to the period of the Civil War. The lovey
of the fine arts, however, will no doubt be
more attracted by an exquisite Magdalene
by the S])anish painter Gallego ; a beautiful
Nativity by Albert Durer; several Dutch pic-
tures of no ordinary merit ; and some highly
valuable specimens on Avood of the earliest
period of Dutch, and perhaps of English art.
Over the hall is the music galleiy, communi-
catingwiththe round-tower-chamber, fitted up
with golden stamped leather after tlie fasliion
that was so prevalent in the time of Charles
the Second. From this is a corridor opening
into the Hampden room, so called, if we may
trust the family tradition, from the illustrious
John Hampden having once slept tliere.
Tlie same passage leads to Queen Elizabeth's
chamber, wherein is an oaken bedstead, the
only one of its kind, we believe, in England,
with the exception of that to be fovmd in
Berkeley Castle. At one time the antique
tapestry had been removed, but it has lat-
terly been brought back ; and with equal
good taste tlie chimney-piece has been re-
stored, affording a curious example of the
workmanship of other days. Upon it is this
inscription —

"Hie anno devictis avmis Hispan. memorabili requi-
evit Elizabetlia, R.A. 15S8."

The gardens to the west of the house, are
laid out in straight walks, decorated with
statues, urns, and similar ornaments, and
surrounded with a deei-park of about four
hundred acres, intersected with avenues of
lime, chestnut, and oak, most of which have
attained a great age. The ground is high,
broken by dells, and is remarkable for the
prospect it commands from the east. The
deer are said to be some of the finest in the
county, and if this ample space of amuse-
ment be not sufficient for the owners of
Knebworth they have a right of free Avarreu
over tlie whole of the surrounding districts,
granted to them in the time of James tlie

At one time this mansion was honoured,
as every old building should be, with its own
peculiar gliost. The phantom Avas known
as "Jenny Spinner," or the Ilertfordsliire
ghost, and about forty years ago the very
spinning-wheel was extant which it used in
its nightly wanderings.


aljout two miles from Tunbridge, late tlie
seat of James Alexander, Esq., M.P., and
now of Baron de Goldsmidt.

Somerhill originally formed part of a large
district called South Frith, Avhich compre-
hended a manor, forest, or chase, and Avasno
doubt part of the demesnes of the family of
Clare, Earls of Gloucester and Hertford, tlie
possessors of the castle and manor of Tun-



bridge. "With them it continued till Gilbert
de Clare being slain in the battle of Ban-
nockburn, and not leaving any surviving
issue, his tliree sisters became his coheirs.
In the division of the estate South Frith fell
to Elizabeth, Avidow of John de Burgh, upon
■whose death it was inherited by her son, Wil-
liam. He died without male lieir, when the
South Frith was brought by his daughter in
marriage to Lionel, Duke of Clarence, third
son of King Edward tlie Third, who left an
only daughter and heir, married by the King's
command to Edmund Mortimer, the third
Earl of March. Passing over many inter-
mediate steps, the property reverted to the
Crown upon the death of the Duchess of
York, mother to King Edward the Fourth ;
and with the Crown it remained till King
Edward tlie Sixth granted it to John Dudley,
Earl of Warwick, wlio, being created Duke
of Northumberland, reconveyed it to the
monarch and his heirs in exchange for otlier
premises. Queen Mary next bestowed it
upon Cardinal Pole, but he dying without
any particular devise of it, the projDerty
came back again to the Crown, and was, by
Elizabeth, given to the Earl of Leicester
for a term of years, at the expiration of
which she granted the fee of it to Frances,
daughter of the celebrated statesman the
Earl of AValsingham,* and widow of the Earl
of Essex, beheaded for higli treason. The
countess afterwards conveyed it by marriage
to the Earl of Clanricard, who inimediately
upon coming into possession, set about
erecting the present noble mansion, and
called it Somerhill, from one of his Irish
estates. He did not, however, complete the
edifice till the latter end of James the First's
reign, so slow was the rate of building
in those days. That it was begun soon
after the commencement of the seventeenth
century is evident from the dates of IGll
and 1613 upon some of the water-spouts.
His son and heir, Ulick, was a staunch ad-
herent of Charles the First, wdiich was a
sufficient cause for the parliament to declare
him a delinquent and sequestrate his estates
accordingly, when they bestowed them upon
their General, the Earl of Essex, to be held
during the term of his natural life. Upon
bis death the property again fell into the
hands of the parliament, who this time con-
ferred it upon John Bradshaw, the president
of the tribunal that had tried Charles. At
the restoration it was given back to tlie
legitimate owner in the person of Margaret,
only daughter and heir of Ulick. Having

* According to some writers, Queen Elizabeth granted
this estate to Sir Francis himself. Hi.sted, in his
"History of Kent," distinctly stated that the Queen first
gave the estate to Leicester for a term of years, at the
expiration of which she granted the fee of them to
Frances, Countess of Essex, widow of Robert Devereux,
who had been beheaded within the Tower.

survived two husbands, this lady married a
third time, the object of her choice being
Mr. Fielding — commonly known under the
soubriquet of Beau Fielding. Upon her
death it descended to her son, John Vil-
liers, calling himself Duke of Bucking-
ham, Avho alienated the manor of South
Fritli with the seat and park of Somerhill
to Dekins, who, dying without issue, devised
it to Cave, and he, about the year 1711,
conveyed the estate to I\Ir. John Woodgate,
of Penshurst. With his descendants it re-
mained till 1 816, when it became by purchase
the property of James Alexander, Esq., the
late owner.

The mansion stands upon a beautiful
eminence in the northern part of the grounds,
amid extensive woodlands. It is of consider-
able size, and, although it has been partly
rebuilt, and much repaired, preserves not a
little of its fine old character. The large bay-
windows are still retained, a feature of so
much importance in a country residence,
and which so well accords with the Eliza-
bethan style, though totally at variance with
Greek or Eoman architecture. Much, too,
is added to the jjicturesque effect of the
Avhole by the pointed gables and ornamented
chimneys. The principal front is the west,
overlooking the town of Tonbridge and a
beautifid tract of country. From a turret
in the court of the north side of the house
are seen the Canterbury hills, near Dover,
at a distance of about fifty miles. This
view, however, and the several olijects com-
prised in it, are best enjoyed from a rising-
hill, on which grow two large beech trees,
at a little distance southward of the

jMuch of the improvements is owing to
the late proprietor, Mr. Alexander, who, in
adapting the liouse to modern ideas of com-
fort and convenience, has exhibited all an
antiquarian's regard for its ancient cha-
racter. The library in particular is a noble
room, executed from the designs of Sir Jeffrey
Wyatville. It extends the whole depth of
tlie house, being about one hundred feet
in length, and is ornamented with eight
columns, and lighted by five baj^-wiudows,
which, from their unusual number, produce
a singular effect.

There is a tradition, still believed by
many, that Charles the Second held his
court here, when he and his queen visited
Tunbridge Wells in 1664. But this rests
upon too slight a foundation to be received
in direct opposition to the testimony of
Count de Grammont, who being one of the
party at the time, could hardly have been
mistaken upon a point so simple. "Lady
INIuskerry and JMiss Hamilton," says the gay
but licentious narrator, " were at Summer-
hill, having left the melancholy residence of



Peckharn. They went every day to court^ or
the court came to them,'" So far as the Count
is concerned, nothing can be pLainer or more
decisive than his evidence, and it is not
difficult to understand how the frequency of
the royal visits to Suramer-hill should have
given to a report, that Charles and his
queen held thek court within its walls.

SNITTERFIELD, Warwickshire, the pro-
perty of Mark Philips, Esq., who is possessed
of estates by inheritance adjoining Snitter-
field in the parishes of Wolverton and
Bearley, of which]|_he is Lord of the i\Iauor ;
also oi an estate called Ingon in the parisli
of Hampton Lucy, and Welcombe in that of
Stratford-on-Avon. His other estates are
in tlie counties of Lancaster, Stafford, Mon-
mouth, and Glamorgan.

At an early period Snitterfield was pos-
sessed by the Graunts till Walter Graunt died
without male heir, leaving only several daugh-
ters, coheiresses. One of these, in the reign
of Henry VH., married Sir John Spencer, of
Kadbourn in \Yarwickshire, who thus be-
coming possessed of the estate in right of
his wife sold it to John Hales, Esq., of the
Whitefriars, Coventry. The family of
Hales were " owners of great part of the
Lordship. From John Hales it passed to
liis brother Bartholomew Hales, by the will
of John Hales, of the Whitefriars in the
city of Coventry, commonly called Club-
footed Hales, from an injury he received
in his foot from a dagger. He married
Mary, daughter and heiress of George Har-
pur, Esq., and he it was that erected the
Manor House here, and was High Sheritf of
this county in the second year of King James
the First, 1604." In the Hales family Snit-
terfield remained for several generations ; but
Sir Stephen Hales, Knight of the Bath,
dying without issue, it was sold by his widow,
Lady Elizabeth, to Thomas Coventry, Esq.,
afterwards Lord Keeper, and finally Earl of
Coventry. In 1815, it again shifted hands,
being disposed of to Robert Philips, Esq., of
tlie Park, near Manchester, younger brotJier
of John Philips, Esq., of the Heath House,
CO. Stafford, and the descendant of a fiimily
resident in that shire for many centuries.
Mr. Robert Philips dying in 1844 bequeatlied
Snitterfield and his other estates in this
county to his eldest son, Maik Philips, Esq.,
then ]\I.P. for Manchester, and High Sheriff
of Warwickshire 1851.

The old mansion was a square red-brick
buildmg,with stone base pilasters and capitals,
and projecting cornice of carved wood. It
is now pulled down, but the old avenue of
elms still remains. The present Mr. Philips
has fitted up, for his residence, an ancient
dwelling in Snitterfield Park.

WITTON HOUSE, Lancashire, about two
miles west of Blackburn, the seat of Joseph
Feilden, Esq., wlio served the office of High
Sheriff' of Lancashire in 1818, is a deputy-
lieutenant, and holds the commission of the
peace for the county. He is the representa ■
tive of the Lancashire Feildens, who claim
on very good grounds, to be scions of the
noble house of Feilding, sprung from the
Counts of Hapsburg: tJie junior branches
of the Witton family ai-e respectively
represented by John Feilden, Esq., of
Mollington Hall, Chester, and by Sir Wil-
liam Feilden, BarL. of Feniscowles in Lanca-

The Witton estate has been in the possession
of this family since the days of Queen Eliza-
beth. During her reign, in the^year 1.5G7,
we find that Randle Felden, or Ffeilden, was
appointed under the Queen's charter
one of the Governors of Blackburn Gram-
mar School, at the time of its being royally

The former mansion, called Witton Hall,
an old fasliioned structure, now lies in ruins.
The present house was erected in 1798 by
the father of the gentleman possessing the
estate. It is an elegant building in the Gre-
cian style, constructed of cream-coloured
stone richly veined, which was brought from
the quarries at Longridge Fell. '' In the
centre of the eastern front is a portico sup-
ported by columns of the massive, yet simple
Doric order. The principal apartments
are of handsome dimensions, and are en-
riched with a variety of paintings in oils
and water colours by the best modern

The situation of this house has been ad-
mirably chosen with regard to tlie beauties
of the surrounding country. It stands on a
rising eminence, embosomed in woods at a
short distance from tlie river Darwen, that
seen from the house forms a delightful pros-
pect, its banks swelling up into gentle knolls,
and thickly covered with timber. Indeed it
maybe said that the landscape presents every
variety of view. From the summit of the hill
behind tlie house called Billinge Hill, tJie
greater part of which is noAv covered with
thriving timber, and which is enclosed within
the park wall, in clear weather may be
seen the mountains of Ingleborough and
Pennigant in Yorkshire, Black Coml^e in
Cumberland, the hills near Frodsham in
Cheshke, and the whole coast of North
Wales. The house is screened against the
north winds by the bold hill of Billinge,
the tern\ination of a long chain which ex-
tends from Yorkshire to the county of

The pleasure-grounds are extensive, and
well worthy of the jNIansion, the natural ad-
vantages of the locaHty being well seconded







■ — '








,• Ji

li — I






























by the taste and skill displayed in their

BROUGHTON CASTLE, Oxfordshire, the
seat of Frederick Twisleton Wykeham
Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, D.C.L., High
Steward of Banbury.

Rich as England is in such remains of the
feudal _ ages, it has not many that can com-
pare with tlie picturesque magnificence of this
castellated mansion. Its grey walls, its lofty
battlements, its numerous gables, its ivy-co-
vered towers, and the great extent of the entire
building, combine in a wonderful way to im-
pose upon the imagination. Even the con-
fusion of the many parts into which it is
broken, Avitli their innumerable lights and
shadows, and their abruptness, never blend-
ing as in the graceful lines and imperceptible
gradations of Greek or Roman architecture,
only tend to make it the more picturesque.
That the Gothic style has this advantage
over its classic rivals is indisputable, as any
one must admit who recollects how much
deeper was the impression made upon
himself when standing in the aisles of
Westminster Abbey, than when placed
under tlie mighty cupola of St. Paul's.
It is the same with the external appearance
of either ; and this effect is much in-
creased when the Gothic building stands,
as Broughton Castle does, amidst woods,
and water, and undulating grounds, which
whether in storm or sunshine, winter or
summer, equally harmonize with it, though
lending it in each change a sterner or softer

If such be the feelings excited by this
venerable pile when seen from without, and
■while we are yet ignorant of the historical
associations belonging to it, wdiat effect must
be produced upon the mind when we pass
within the fabric. This staircase was once
trodden by Cromwell, and still bears his
name— by Hampden, Pyra, Oliver, St. John,
and the Earl of Bedford, in their way to
the council room. Pass on into that small
dark room, (the council room) wntli its
■walls so thick that it would seem no
sound could either enter or escape from it.
Massive as they are, tradition tells us that
at one time, " there would be great noises
and talkings heard, to the admiration of
those that lived in the house." It is a
chapter in romance, and the mystery, so far
from losing, rather gains by its solution. The
Lord Saye and Sele was considered, as
Anthony a Wood tells us, the godfather of
the discontented party in Charles the
First's time, and these mysterious noises
arose from the secret consultations under
his lordship's auspices.

Leaving the regions of conspiracy, -we

come into a lighter room where it is said
once stood Queen Anne's billiard-table.

Straying on in a most irregidar fashion —
something like travelling from York to Lon-
don, and taking the Land's End by the way —
our attention is directed to a cupboard where,
the story is, Charles the First was for awhile
concealed, after the unfortunate battle at Ban-
bury. This tale certainly does not agree
with the politics entertained by Lord Saye
and Sele at the time ; but instead: of attempt-
ing to reconcile the apparent contradiction,
we will rather, while upon this ground, break
a lance with Lord Clarendon in vindication
of the then owner of the castle. The histo-
rian, as might be expected from his violent
party-politics, has painted him in colours
more than sufficiently dark ; yet from the
midst of all these vituperations — for Claren-
don meant to be honest, and was honest so
far as strong prejudices would allow him —
the truth peeps out — " his parts were so
much above many of his own rank and au-
thority in parliament" — "he had not the
least thought of dissolvmg the monarchy,
and less of levelling the ranks and distinc-
tions of men." Let us add to this, that he
was the valued friend of Hampden — no
slight praise to the best and greatest — and
the fair inference will be that, although
decidedly opposed to the many arbitrary
measures of the court, he was no less the
friend of monarchy within its just and
wholesome limits. This estimate of his
character is fidly confirmed by the part
he subsequently played. After Charles
had been put to death by a sentence which,
both then and in our own times, has so
much divided men's opinions, not less as to
its justice tlian as to its necessity, it was in
vain that Cromwell invited him to share his
honours. " He turned away," says Noble,
" from that great man with disgust ancl
abhorrence, as the betrayer of the common
interest of the Republic, and retired to the
Isle of Lundy." That he should have done
so, is a sufficient proof that he had all along
been actuated by no private ends of his own,
and that he was no less magnanimous than
sincere, for he had CA'er been regarded with
intense animosity by the ill-advised monarch.
Throughout tlie whole period of the dispute
between the king and his parliament,
the former never seems to have abated
of his hatred even for a moment ; Lord
Saye yvtis one of those for whom there
could be neither pardon nor remission.
Thus, for instance, in a " Proclamation of
his Majestie's Grace, Favour and Pardon,
to the Inhabitants of his County of Oxon,
dated the 3rd of November at Oxford,
where his court was then held, he particu-
larly excepts the Lord Say, Natlianiel Fynes,
Esq., Sir William Cobb, and John Doyley,



Esq., against all Avhicli we shall proceed
according to the rules of law as against
traitors and stirrers of sedition against us."
The same bitterness of feeling is again dis-
tinctly shown when, in the month of March,
1642, the parliament applied to Charles for
a safe conduct for certain of their commis-
sioners to treat of peace. The plain and
obvious maxims of sound policy demanded
a ready assent to so reasonable a request,
whereas the reply was, that his Majestic
liath sent a safe conduct for the Earle of
Northumberland, Mr. Pierpoint, Sir William
Ermyn, Sir John Holland, and Mr. White-
lock ; but hath not admitted the Lord Saye
to attend him, as being excepted against by
name in his Proclamation at Oxford of the
third of November, and by a writ to the
Sheritfe proclaimed then in that county, on
which his Majestie's intention is declared to
proceed against him as a person guilty of
high treason. As if this were not enough,
we have other instances of the vindictive
spirit of the court in his regard. Not to
multiply examples more than is absolutely
requisite, we need only refer to the fact of
his house and lands being ravaged by an
especial warrant under the King's own hand,
as appears from the following statement in
the Speciall Passages.* " Tt is certain that

Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) → online text (page 30 of 79)