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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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after the same model, with straight walks
and leaden statues, as may be seen in Kip's
views.

It was hi 1803 that the late Marcpiess of
Westminster caused this unsightly structure
to be pulled down, and the present noble
mansion commenced from designs by Pordcn.
The only part spared in this necessary act
of demolition was the vaulted basement
story. Many years were found requisite to
the completion of the new mansion, both
from its extent and from the adoption of the
florid Gothic style of the time of Edward the
Third, of which we have so exquisite a speci-
men in York Minster. With this was min-
gled the low Tudor arch ; nor did the architect
scruple to use any of the forms of ancient
ecclesiastical architecture, that he thought
suitable to his immediate purpose. In 1825,
the main building was completed, as we
now see it, consisting of a centre and two
wings, the latter of which differs from each
other in design. Of these the south wing, in
two compartments, is, perhaps, the most
beautiful. It is a broad octagon, of moderate
elevation, while the other is oblong and an-
gular, having four octagonal turrets at the
corners, buttresses at the sides, and embattled
parapets surmounted with pinnacles, the
wliole being profusely rich in decorations.

In the centre of the west fi'ont is a large "
portico, supported by clusters of columns,
imder which there is a carriage-Avay to
the steps that lead to the grand entrance-
hall.

The eastern front, altliough agreeing in its
general form and proportions with tlie wes-
tern, is yet more minutely decorated. In
this front a cloister extends the whole length
between two handsome windows of tlie
dining and drawing-room, and conducts to
the terrace, whicli is three hundred and iiftv



feet long, commanding a splendid prospect
over the grounds and adjacent country.

The main building has an octagonal turi-et
at every angle, and three stories of windows,
nine in each row, which last are separated
from one another by buttresses, and termi-
nate in pinnacles above a highly-enriched
parapet. The whole is built of a light-
coloured stone, brought from the quarries in
Delamere Forest.

The interior of the mansion fully corre-
sponds with its mngniiicent external appear-
ance. The grand entrance hall is forty-one
feet long, thirty-one feet broad, and is ex-
ceedingly loftj^, occupying the height of two
stories. The ceiling is grained, and em-
bellished with the arms of the house of Gros-
venor, as well as with other devices, in the
bosses that cover the junction of the ribs.
The floor is said to have cost sixteen hun-
dred guineas; it is made of variegated marble,
Liid down in compartments. At the sides, in
lofty canopied recesses, are four complete
suits of ancient armour.

A screen occupies the upper end of the
hall, which consists of iive arches, supporting
a gallery that connects the sleeping apart-
ments on the north side of the house with
those upon the south, otherwise separated,
as we have already mentioned, by its im-
mense lieight. Facing the door is the
entrance to the saloon, under a lofty arch,
and througli mahogany portals of exquisite
Avorkmanship. Tliis room is a square of
thirty feet, formed into an octagon by arches
tin-own across the angles ; and its Gothic
character becomes yet more sti iking by the
light being subdued and mellowed as it pours
down through the painted glass of three
handsome AvindoAvs, enriched Avith tracery,
and exhibiting in tlie loAver portions the
heraldic achievements of the Grosvenors, as
Avell as of the noble families in alliance Avitli
them. In the upper compartments are six
full-length tigures, representing William the
Conqueror, Sir Gilbert le Grosvenor, one of
AA'illiam's companions; Sir Gilbert's lady;
Sir Robert le Grosvenor, so celebrated for
his long suit Avith Sir Richard Scroop respect-
ing the coat of arms ; the Heiress of Eaton ;
and Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. TAvelye slender
columns in the angles and sides of the room
support the fan tracery of the ceiling ;^ and
combined Avith the Roman circle, Avhich forms
the centre, the Avhole producing a most
imposing etiect.

The ante-rooms are of similar proportions,
but have arabesque decorations, and the
ceiling is covered Avith the most delicate tra-
cery. The AvindoAvs, too, like those of the
saloon, are of stained glass. Upon them are
represented the tigures and arms of the six
Eails of Chester, who, after the Conqueror's
nc])hcAA', Hugh Lupus, Avcre the lords pala-



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



169



tine of Cheshire. Their reign, for so it may
be called, though over a small territory, was
xininterrnpted, till Henry tlie Third conferred
tlie title upon his son Edward, since when
the eldest sons of tlie English Kings have
always been Earls of Chester.

Tlie dining-room is fifty feet by thirt}'
seven, and though sufficiently gorgeous, yet
aj^I^ears remarkable for simplicity, when con-
trasted with the other apartments. Four
ribs, springing from the corners of the room,
spread their tivacery over the ceiling, in the
centre of which they unite their borders of
wreathed foliage, and thence from a richly
carved boss hangs a splendid chandelier.
The side-board stands in an arched recess.
Several statues and valuable pictures are to
be seen in this apartment.

The ante-drawing-room is painted in ara-
besque, several lofty mirrors reflecting the
carved urns that stand upon pier-tables of
polished porpJiyry.

The drawing-room is of the same form
and dimensions as the dining-room. It lias
four magnificent niches, and a handsome
window, with a high pointed arch and
beautiful tracery, adorned with stained
glass. From its position, at the end oppo-
site the entrance, it commands a fine pro-
spect, an artificial inlet of the river Dee
forming a prominent feature in the land-
scape. The ceiling exliibits four principal
divisions, issuing from clustered pillars, Avith
foliated capitals, and united in the centre to
a reticulated hexagonal frame, from Avhich
issues a pendant of foliage, sustaining a
crystal chandelier. Its chief ornaments,
however, are the heraldic achievements of
the Grosvenoi family, the brilliant colours
of which seem by imitation to be reflected
upon the carpet as upon a mirror. The
walls are covered with crimson damask, and
are ftirthcr adorned by many paintings of
first-rate excellence.

The library, the most spacious room in
the mansion, comprehends the whole of the
south wing. It is one hundred and twenty
feet long, but varies in breadth, and the
windows are decorated with stained glass
and tracery. When the door is thro\\ai
open, the view from the upper end of the li-
brary extends through the vaulted corridor
at the opposite extremity of the house, a
distance of four hundred and seventy-two
feet. The book- cases, of carved oak, are
full of old political tracts, and yet more
valuable manuscripts, amongst which should
be enumerated a volume of collections, con-
taining a transcrii^t of a large portion of the
famous lost record, distinguished by the
name of the " Cheshire Domesday."

In this account, to avoid the tediousness
of too minute a detail, we haA'c left un-



touched the great staircase, the state apart-
ments, and the Tenants' Hall, though all of
them are in the same style of magnificence.

The flower-gardens and pleasure-grounds,
which cover at least fifty acres, are no
longer laid out in the quaint, formal style
tbat Ave before noticed as havhig character-
ized them in the days of William III. When
the old house was pulled down, they, too,
were remoulded amd modernized. The
straight alleys disappeared, the dipt yews
gave way to trees that grew "at their OAvn
sweet Avill," and Nature, under certain
wholesome restraints, was allowed to reign,
not indeed as a despot, running wild, but as
a constitutional monarch. A venerable
avenue, however, to the west, Avas spared
amidst these improA^ements, and still extends
to a length of nearly tAvo miles and a half
from the house. It should also be remem-
bered that an artificial inlet Avas made from
the Dee, that added not a little to the gen-
eral beauty of the prospect.

The vieAv from the gardens embraces the
south, or library, AvLng, Avhile the opposite
extremity is in part concealed by the trees.
Beyond it, but ajjparently mingling with the
turrets and pinnacles, is seen an octagonal
clock-tower, connected by flying buttresses
Avitli four slender shafts on a square base-
ment. It is attached to part of the stable-
court, Avhich recedes from the line of the
east front, and which is of considerable ex-
tent.

The principal approach to Eaton Hall is
through the Chester GatcAvay, an admirable
building, modelled after the chief gateway
of the Augustines' monastery at Canter-
bury. But, approach the Hall Avhicli way
you will, it presents a grand and imposmg
picture ; its magnitude, its numerous turrets
and pinnacles, its angles and irregular forms,
some, as it Avere, pressing IbrAvard upon the
sight, and others again receding, the blend-
ing and picturesque confusion of the various
parts, which if looked upon steadily for a
time, seem gradually to mould themselves
into order— all combine to produce a won-
derful effect upon the mind of every stranger.
All this, too, is much enhanced by the
beauty of the surrounding scenery. To the
A\^est appear the Welsh mountains ; east-
Avard are seen the Peckforton Hills, with
the bold crag on Avhich stand the ruins of
Beeston Castle ; on the south winds tlie
river Dee, to Avhich the ground from Eatou
Hall descends by a gentle slope ; and about
a mile and a half off is the parish church of
Ecleston, one of the happiest imitations of
Gothic architecture.

Many pictures of great value will be
found in this noble mansion ; so many, in-
deed, that to give a catalogue of them ii]l,



z



170



SEAT3 OF GREAT BRITAIN.



and anal3'se tlieir resi^ective merits, would
far exceed any limits tliat we could reason-
ably propose to ourselves. Their general
character may be estimated from the naming
of a few onl3^ " A View of tlie Mediter-
ranean," by Vernet ; " Our Saviour on the
IMount of Olives," by Claude Lorraine,
.said to be the largest picture ever painted
by tliat artist ; " Rubens and his Second
AVife," by himself; "David and Abigail,"
also by Rubens, &c. &c.

SPEKE HALL, anciently written Spec Hall,
Lancashire, about seven miles from Liver-
pool, tlie property of Richard Watt, Esq., of
Bishop Burton in Yorkshire, and at present
the residence of Joseph Ijrcreton, Esq.
This mansion is one of the most curious
specimens of ancient building to be found
in the Avhole county. It is a quadrangle,
the oldest part of which was erected about
the time of Edward tlie Third, while tlie
more modern, or front part, was built in
1598 by Edward Norreys, Esq. A gal-
lant and higldy martial race were these
Norreyses. History makes mention in par-
ticular of a Sir John Norreys, who was highly
distinguished in border warfare, and who
upon one occasion, like the celebrated Mo-
reau of our own times, obtained more glory
by a skilful retreat than other generals have
acquired by the greatest victories.

In the olden parts Speke Hall is built of
wood and plaster, of which materials most
houses in Lancashire were constructed up
to the sixteenth century. At one time it
was surrounded by a moat, whereof the out-
lines are still remaining. Over it is a bridge
leading to a stone porch mantled with ivy,
that formed the principal or front entrance.
Tlie face of this portico bears the following
inscription in black and white letters of
antique shape ; —

"Cfjfs. iBorfte. 25. iKirBs. rong. luas. Inotts. fitiilt. tn.
ilOlD: il. iisq. aiuio : 1508."

A fine weeping willow spreads its branches
over the moat, and in the centre of tlie
court-yard are two yew-trees in full vigour.
At each angle of the southern wall wltliin
the same court are two large corbelled win-
dows, one of whicli liglits the great hall, a
spacious and lofty chamber. The wainscot,
which covers the north wall of this room,
was brouglit from liolyrood House by Sir
Edward Norris, who commanded under Loid
Stanley at the battle of Flodden Field, and
conducted liimself with so much gallantry
that he was honoured with a special letter
of tlumks from Henry the Seventh, and was
permitted to carry off from the King of Scots'
palace, " all, or most, of his princely library,
many books of \\duch are now at Si»eke,



particularly four largo folios said to contain
the records and laws of Scotland at that
time ; and he also brought from the said
palace the wainscot of the king's hall, and
set it up in his own hall at Speke ; wherein
are seen all the orders of architecture, as
Tuscan, Dorick, lonick, Corinthian, and
Composite."

Tliis wainscoting is divided perpendicu-
larly into eight compartments, Avhich are
subdivided into tive rows of panels. Each
of these panels contains a grotesquely carved
head, surrounded by mantling, tlie fourth
alone forming an exception, and in that is
an ornamental oval shield supported by two
lions, but without any armorial charges.
The second row of panels has this inscrip-
tion in detached portions, and in black
letter: —

5Ifl)e: flot: STill: ¥c : fjabe : (ttoiisrlicreti

l)omf: C(iotoc: ijast; S\nnt: ¥e: Ban: ^asf:

Iff: i!rfjotor: tiaUf: aSIfd Don: ijr()<iit(t: vGoO; Cff;

©tijcr: 321111)3 : iU: \ki\\: {Jt:

Below these are three other rows, orna-
mented witli grotesque carvings. Over the
chimney-piece in the dinhig-room, which is
now in a ruinous state, is a carved pedigree
in oak ; while over the door is engraved a
monitory sentence in characters similar to
those in tlie hall : —

(Tiflc: «tiraf)(rsf: .^a (?titr: Fo: fioHr: .V: 5rrDc:
aaanr: to; fjriiUcn: '-■^ aiiouc ^lll CfjHiifl.

Speke HaU has passed through many hands,
and all of them distinguished. According to
tlie Domesday Book it appears to have been
held at the time of the Norman Conquest by
a Saxon thane, named Uctfed. Shortly
afterwards Roger Garnett gave two caru-
cotes in Spec to Richard de I\Iulas. Then
the whole manor came into the possession
of Adam Molyneux by his marriage with
Annota, daughter and heiress of Benedict
Garnet, Lord of Especke and Oglohal or
Oglet. Its next transit was into the family
of Norreys, on the marriage of Joan, daugh-
ter of Sir John filolyneux, of Sefton, with
William Norreys, Esq., of Sutton, Avho
became, jure uxoris, Lord of Speke. With the
Norreyses it remained till 172G, when Edward
Norreys, M P. for Liverpool, dying without
issue, was succeeded by his niece, Mary Nor-
reys, who in 1736 married Lord Sidney Beau-
clerk, tlie fifth son of Charles, the first Duke
of St. Albans. From this family Speke passed
by purcliase to Richard Watt, Esq., an
opulent merchant of Liverpool, and from him
it lias lineally descended to liis great nephew,
Richard 'Watt, Esq., the present owner of
the property.

CHAHLTON, KEIU, the seat of Sir Thomas



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



171



Maryon Wilson, Bart. Within seven short
miles of London, and its bnsy hum of men,
at tlie entrance of a quiet picturesque little
village of Kent, stands the ancient manor
house of Charlton, commanding a prospect,
described by Evelyn, as " one of the most
noble in the world, for city, river, ships,
meadows, hill, woods and all other amenities."
It is essentially an English home, embowered
"in tall ancestral trees," and rich in the re-
collections of the past, from the year
1093 to the reign of Henry VIII., the
iManor of Charlton (originally Ceorleton,
deriving its name from "Ceorle," a husband-
man) formed part of the possessions of the
Abbey of Bermondsey, but, at the dissolution
of the monasteries, it passed to the crown,
and was ultimately granted, in 1G04, by James
I., to John, Earl of I\Iar ; by him it was
immediately after alienated to Sir James
Erskine, who re-sold it in 1607 to Sir
Adam Newton, This gentleman, installed
Dean of Durham in 1606, was chosen by the
king to be tutor to his eldest son, and Charl-
ton selected for the Prince's residence. Ac-
cording to contemporary authority, the
splendid mansion which Sir Adam erected
there, was intended for his Royal pupil, and
the accurate author of Sylva speaks of it as
a " faire house built for Prince Henry."
Certain it is that here resided the youthful
prince, and hero, under the guidance of the
good Sir Adam Newton, was formed the mind
of the inestim_able youth, whose untimely end
destroyed the brightest hopes of the nation.
In 1620, his Highness's instruct or was created
a baronet, as " Sir Adam Newton, of
Charlton, in the county of Ivent," and, in
nine years after, died, receiving burial in the
parish church, v.'hich he had enjoined his
executors to rebuild. lie married Dorothy,
daughter of tlie learned Sir John Puckering,
Queen Elizabeth's Lord Keeper ; and, by her
was father of Sir Hionry Newton, Bt.,
who, inheriting the estates of his uncle. Sir
Thomas Puckering, in Warwickshire, re-
moved to the Priory in that count}'-, and sold
Charlton to Sir William Ducie. Sir Henry
was a devoted cavalier, and fought so man-
fully for the king, at the battle of Edge Hill,
that we cannot omit adding the following
honourable testimony to his worth: — "His
good housekeeping and liberality to the poor,
who scarcely ever went away unfed from his
gates, gained him the general love and esteem
of his neighbours, and he was distinguished
throughout the kingdom for being a generous
benefactor to the poor cavaliers, whose ser-
vices were not rewarded by King Cliarles
II."

Sir William Ducie, Bt., of Tortworth, the
purchaser of Charlton, possessed immense
wealth, was made a Knight of the Batli, at
the coronation of Charles II., and wa^ ele-



vated to the peerage of Ireland, as Viscount
Downe. His lordship's father, the rich
alderman, Sir Robert Ducie, banker to
Charles I., despite his loss of £80,000
in his Majesty's cause, died, it is said, worth
more than £400,000. Lord Downe main-
tained a sumptuous state at Charlton House,
and there died in 1697, leaving his great
estates to his niece, Elizabeth Ducie, wife of
Edward Moreton, Esq., of Aloreton, in Staf-
fordshire, and mother of I\Iatthew Ducie
Moreton, created in 1720, Baron Ducie. Af-
ter the death of Lord Downe, his executors
sold Charlton to Sir William Langhorne, Bt.,
an East India merchant, and from him the
manor passed, by inheritance, to his nephew,
Sir John Conyers, Bart., of Ilorden, remain-
ing with his descendants until the decease of
Sir Baldwin Conyers, in 1731. It then went,
by entail, first to William Langhorne Games,
Esq., who died without male issue, and sub-
sequently to the Rev. John ]\Iar3'on, of the
county of Essex. That gentleman bequeath-
ed it to his niece, IMargaretta Maria, who,
by her iirst husband, John Badger Weller,
Esq., of Hornechurcli, had a daughter Jane,
who married Sir Thomas Spencer "Wilson,
Bart., of Eastbourne, and had with three
daughters, the eldest, the wife of Lord
Arden, the second, of the Right Honourable
Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister (who
lies buried in Charlton Church), and Jlaria,
of Sir John Trevelyan, Bart., one son, Sir
Thomas Maryon Wilson, Bart., father of
the present worthy possessor of this splendid
seat. Sir Thomas Maryon AYilson, Bart., who
is also Lord of the Manor of Hampstead,
Ilis family, a branch of the very ancient
Yorkshire house of Wilson, took an active
part in favour of the monarchy, during the
civil wars, and its representative, at the
Restoration, AVilllam Wilson, Es(|., of East-
bourne, in Sussex, was rewarded by a ba-
ronetcy.

Tlie mansion of Cliarlton owes its erection,
as we have already stated, to the taste of Sir
Adam Newton, and is certainly one of the
finest specimens extant of the domestic
architecture of tliethne of -Lames I. Though
built of red brick, so popular at the period
of its construction, the front is embellished
with stone dressings and mullioned windows,
the centre compartment, with the richly de-
corated porch, being entirely of stone. In
days gone by, a long row of cypress trees
adiled much to the beauty of the plantations ;
but of these, one only, the oldest perhaps in
England, has escaped the destructive hand
of time. In the rear, extensive gardens pre-
sent a delightful appearance, and beyond, a
small but handsome park, extends to Wool-
wich Common. The ancient gateway, im-
mediately facing the priiicii^al entrance, is
attributed to Inigo Jones, who resided for



172



SEATS OF GKEAT BRITAIN.



some time in the neighbourhood, and the
elegance of the structure would certainly not
detract from the reputation of the great
architect.

The mansion itself forms an oblong, "uith
projections at the end of each front,
crowned by turrets and an open stone balus-
trade, of peculiar character, carried round
the summit of the front. The centre pro-
jects. The spacious hall is of oak, panelled,
and lias a gallery at the western end. At the
bottom of the grand staircase is the dining-
room, and adjoining it, the chapel, the ancient
doors of both being elaborately carved in oak.
The upper floor contains the principal apart-
ments — the saloon, the gallery (seventy-six
feet long), and the suite of drawing-rooms, all
with highly- wrouglit chimney-pieces in stone
or marble, and ornamented arabesque ceilings.
Dr. Plot relates that the marble chimney-
piece in one of the drawing-rooms, is so
exquisitely polislied, tliat " the Lord Downe
did see in it the reflection of a robbery com-
mitted on Shooter's Hill, whereupon, sending
out his servants, tlie thieves were taken."
This mantel-piece, bright though it be, must
yield in sculptural merit to that oftlie ad-
joining noble saloon ! tlie ceiling of wJiich is
one of the most perfect of the time. Charl-
ton House has a good collection of family
pictures, and possesses a museum of curious
and interesting objects in natural history.

SHADWELL COUKT, Norfolk, the seat of Sir
Robert Jacob Buxton, Bart. Tlie name is
said, by Blomeiield in his History of Norfolk,
to be derived from a well or spring among the
trees on the hill's side, it being plainly the
Shady Well. Notwithstanding the decided
tone of the antiquarian, tliis attempt at ety-
mology appears to be exceedingly puerile ; it
is mucli more probable, as others have sug-
gested, that the spring was dedicated to St.
Chad, being a favourite place of resort with
the pilgrims on their way to the shrine of
our Lady of Walsingham.

The mansion was built by John Buxton,
Esq., in 1727, at which time the family re-
moved from their ancient seat, Cliannon's
Hall, about sixteen miles distant, where they
had been settled for sevei-al centuries. It is
an elegant stone building in theEJizabetlian
style of architecture, and stands in a richly
wooded park, watered by the river Tliet.
This park and the adjacent grounds were
given by Queen Elizabeth to Bol3ert Buxton,
A.p. 1577, as a compensation for his im-
prisonment on a fjilse accusation of having
assisted in tlie Duke of Norfolk's conspiracy
to procure the freedom of i^Iary, Queen of
Scots, '*'

At a very early period Shadwell was pos-
sessed by a Norman family, who derived



their name from the hamlet, as we have so
often observed was the case with others of
the Conqueror's companions.

THE LAWN, Swindon, Wiltshire, about
one-and-forty miles from Salisbury, the seat
of Ambrose Goddard, Esq., a magistrate and
deputy lieutenant of that county, and its
high sheriff in 1819-20.

The house was originally Imilt in the year
1560, the subsequent alterations and im-
provements having been chiefly made by
Wyatt. Contrary to Avhat we so often see
in these cases, the Lawn has always been in
the same family witliout any change of
owners —

Autiquasque domus avium.

St. CLAEE, Isle of Wight, in the parish of
St. Helen's, the scat of Colonel Vernon Har-
court, a son of the late Archbishop of York.
This mansion was originally built about 1823,
by E. V. Utterson, Esq., but purchased^
in 1826, by Lord Vernon, who, three years
afterwards, altered it to what it now is,— a
building in Avhich the Tudor style of Gothic
predominates.

Tlie garden has been terraced dou'n to the
sea by tlie present possessoi-, and commands
a good vieAv of Spithead, Ryde pier, and
Norris Castle, in the distance ; and a little
further on, the opening of Soutliampton
Water. The best and most extensive pros-
pect is from the keep-tower, and, tliougli per-
haps wanting in tJie bolder attractions of the
back of the island upon the Solent, it is one



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