Bernard Burke.

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

. (page 7 of 79)
Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 79)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

spirit, however, of modern research has re-
discovered it. A manuscript was found in
the Herald's Office, entitled " A Boke of
Buryells of true noble persons," and was
published about 1779, in Rudder's History
of Gloucestershire. It is exceedhigly cu-
rious, not only as showing the ]3lace of
Catherine's burial, but from the minute
account given in it of the funeral, the iirst
royal ceremony of the kind ever solemnized
in Engkand according to the Protestant ri-
tual. Amongst other things, we are told how
" 'i'he Queue's aimer began his sermonde,
•\vth -was verie good and godlie. And in one
place thereof he toke A occasion to declare
unto the people howe that thei shulle none
there thinke seye nor spreade abrode that
the ofteringe w-''^ Avas there done was don
any thinge to p'^fytt the deade but for the
poor onlye. And allso the lights w^'i were
carid and stode abowte the Corps were for
the honour of the person and for none other
entente or purpose." From th,' interest
excited by this document, some ladies, Avho
happend to be at the Castle in 1782, were
induced to examine the ruined chapel, and
observing a large alabaster block fixed in
the north wall, they imagined it might be
the back of some mural monument tliat had
formerly been placed there. Acting upon
this lunt, they had the ground dug up not
far from the wall, wlien they found, a little
more than a foot below tlie surface, a leaden
envelope, and having opened it in two places,
the face and breast, they saAv a hunian body.
A\'hen the covering was removed from the
face, all its features, and particularly the
eyes, appeared in perfect preservation. But
becoming alarmed at the sight, and still
more at the smell, which came principally
from the cere-cloth, they ordered the earth
to be thrown in at once, without stopping
to replace either the cloth or lead. Enough,
however, had been observed of the inscrip-
tion to convince them of the body being
that of Queen Catherine.

In ]\Iay 1784 the grave was again opened
by some curious visitors, who found that
the mingled action of air, wet, and dirt,
had destroyed the face, and left nothing
but bones.

On the 14th of October, 1786, at which








,i — y




time the castle was possessed by Lord Rivers,
the Rev. Dr. Nash, in company witli the
Honourable John Somers Cocks, and i\lr.
John Skipp of Ledbnry, made a third ex-
amination of the grave and its contents.
" Upon opening the ground," says the Doc-
tor,* "and heaving up the lead, we found
the face totally decayed, the bones only
remaining ; the teeth, which were sound,
had fallen out of their sockets. The Ijody,
I believe, is perfect, as it has never been
opened ; we thought it indelicate and in-
decent to uncover it, but observing the
left hand to lie at a small distance from
the body, we took off the cere-cloth, and
found the hands and nails perfect, but of a
brownish colour; the cere cloth consisted of
many folds of coarse linen, dipped in wax,
tar, and perhaps some gums ; over this was
wrapt a sheet of lead titted exactly close to
the body. I could not perceive any remains
of a wooden cotHn. On that part of the
lead which covered the breast was this
inscription : —

K. P.

Here Lyethe queue

Kateryn Wife to Ryng

Henry the VIH. and

Last the wife of Thomas

Lord of Sudeley highe

Admyrall of England,

And vncle to K3'ng

Edward the VI.,


6 September



The letters K. P. above the inscription
Was the signature she connnonly used, though
sometimes she signs herself, " Keteryn, the
Queue." It seems at first extraordinary that
she should be buried so near the surface of
the ground; but we should consider that a
pavement, and perhaps some earth had been
taken away since she was first interred ; and
as she was buried within the communion
rails, probably that ground miglvt be for-
merly two or three steps higher than the
rest of the chapel.

At the bednning of the year 1792, the
queen's remains were agam exhumed irom
mere wantonness by a party of drunken re-
vellers, under (■Ircurastances that will not
bear repetition.

In July 1817, the grave was once more
opened; but this time the act had a better
object, and was conducted Avith becoming

* In his communication to tlie Archreological Society—
Archapologia ; toI. Lx. p. 1-15.

t The inscription is here given as it now appears on the
coffin. Wlien tlic Doctor made his examination it was in
all prohability too much encrusted to be distinctly legible.
On the last iiispcction it was first carefully cleaned.

decency. Nothing then remained in the
coffin beyond a confused heap of bones, and
a small portion of the hair adherijig to frag-
ments of the cere-cloth under tJie skull.
The hair, which was brig-ht, silky, of an au-
burn hue, and inclined to curl natiu'ally, ap-
peared as strong as when the body was first
interred. With a view to the better preser-
vation of these remains, the then rector of
Sudeley caused the cotfin to be removed
from the ruined chapel into a fine stone
vault in the small chapel adjoining, in which
lies the body of the sixth Lord Chandos.
The block of alabaster, yet to be seen in the
wall of the chapel, but secured by an iron
grating marks the original place of inter-

Katherine Parr was born about the year
1510, being the eldest of the daughters of
Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal, in \Yestmoreland.
Her education, according to the fashion of
the time, Avas learned ; and though not re-
markable for beauty, she won aftection by
her sweetness of disposition. It is probable
that she was of middle height, for her cofiin,
behig accurately measured, was found to be
five feet eight inches. To return from the
necessary digression.

The grave had not long clo.?ed over Cathe-
rine Avhen Seymour renewed his importuni-
ties with Elizabeth, endeavouring to persuade
her into a clandestine marriage, as he had
before persuaded the unfortunate deceased.
In some way this came to the knowledge of
his enemies, who used it as a means of fo-
menting the jealous heats that existed be-
tween himself and his brother the Protector.
The ties of kinship proved of less force than
the spirit of political animosity. He was
committed to the Tower, condemned without
a trial, and lost his head on Tower Hill,
March 20, 1549, Avhereupon Sudeley re-
verted to the Crown, Avhen it was bestowed
upon the jNJarquis of Nortliampton. This
nobleman, however, did not possess it long,
for he rebelled against Mary in behalf of
Lady Jane Grey, who had been brought up
imder the care of his sister Queen Catherine
and her husband, Seymour, and it would
seem Avith as mtich tenderness as their OAvn
daughter. In consequence of this attempt,
the Marquis being attainted, although his
life Avas spared, yet Sudeley Avas taken from
him. Nor does he appear to haA'e been much
deserving of its possession, for he is said to
have cruelly neglected his orphan niece,
Mary Seymour, after having obtained a grant
of so large a portion of the estate she had
lost by her father's forfeiture. Yet he was
a great favourite both Avitli Henry VIIL
and Edward VL, the former of Avhom styled
him his " Integrity," Avhile the latter desig-
nated him as his " Ilonest Uncle " — so diffi-
cult is it to get at the real characters of men



amidst the clouds with wliicli they have
been enveloped by prejudice or partiality.

Sudeley was now granted by Mary to Sir
John Brydges of Coberley, in tliis county,
who was aftenvards raised to the peerage by
the title of Baron Chandos of Sudeley. And
well had he deserved such distinction at the
queen's hands, both as liaving been among
her earliest and most faithful adherents, and
from his important services in the wars Avith
France. He had borne a conspicuous part
in the rout at Guinegate, the memorable
" Battle of Spurs," as it was called from the
panic flight of the French nobles. But he
rendered the queen a yet greater service in
being the means to save her sister's life,
when Gardiner had obtained a warrant for
the execution of Eliz^ibeth at the time of
AVyatt's rebellion. This warrant coming
into his hands as lieutenant of the Tower,
he immediately repaired to the queen to
learn lier farther pleasure therein, and she,
whether truly or falsely, denying all know-
ledge of such a tiling, countermanded the

This nobleman was succeeded in the ba-
rony and at Sudeley by his eldest son,
Edmund, who conducted liimself with so
much valour at the sanguinary battle of
JNJusselburgh against the Scots, that he re-
ceived the honour of knighthood from the
Duke of Somerset in the camp at Roxburgh.
He served also with no less credit at the
siege of St. Quentin, and in the reign of
Elizabeth wa,s made a knight of tlie garter.
Dying on the 16th of September, 1573, he
was buried, as his father had been at Sudeley.
In 1592 Giles, third Lord Chandos, had the
honour of receiving here Queen Elizabeth,
the details of Avhose visit are recorded in
Nichol's Progresses. He died without male
issue, and Sudeley by deed of entail passed
to his brother William, who in turn was
succeeded by his son, Grey Biydges, a no-
bleman so distinguished for his manners and
address that he was selected to receive and
introduce the IMuscovite ambassadors on a
mission from tlieir master to the king.

George, sixth Lord Chandos, and the last

of this family, by whom Sudeley was

inhabited, proved a zealous adlierent of

Cliarles throughout all his troubles. It Avas

. here that the unfortunate monarch took up

his abode while Avaiting the fate of Glou-

( esterwhich he had besieged. Soon afterAvards

ll;e republicans finding that the possession

of Sudeley Castle by the royalists afforded

them too many opportvmitics of inteirupting

the communication betAveen London autl

Gloucester, determined to dislodge them.

This was accordingly done by Waller and

Massie. But the defence and attack had

been so ruinous to Sudeley, and the victors

upon its surrender had so completed the

Avork of destruction tliat an inconsiderable
part only of the first court of the castle
a]ipears to have been thereafter habitable.
Upon his death without male issue. Lord
Chandos left the estate to his second Avife,
Jane (daughter of John Savage, Earl Ilivers),
and she marrying again Avitli George Pitt,
Esq., of Strathtieldsaye, in Hampshire, an-
cestor of the present Lord Rivers, the castle
and manor of Sudeley passed into that

From this time Sudeley Avas occiipied only
by the tenants of the neighbouring lauds,
being for nearly tAvo centuries deserted by
its OAvuers. But in 1810 the castle and a
small part of the estate adjoining it Avere
disposed of by the late Lord Rivei-s to the
late Duke of Buckingham, Avho retained it
till 1837. In that year John and William
Dent, Esquires, of Worcester, who had be-
fore purchased of Lord Rivers the bulk of
tlie Sudeley estates Avith the manors of
Winchcomb and Sudeley, bought tlie castle
also, and that portion of the estate whicli
had been alienated to the duke. Thus the
ancient estate has been once more united,
and even enlarged to a considerable extent
by more recent purchases and additions

The castle consists of tAA-o spacious quad-
rangles, the first of Avhich has on its north-
east side an embattled portal, forming the
principal entrance. It is no longer possible
to understand in Avhat manner this portal
AA'as connected Avitli the inner court, liut it
was doubtless of the same period, although
on a cursory vieAv it may seem later. 'I'his
arises from the alterations made in the upper
part, apparently for the purpose of assimi-
lating its character to the Elizabethan archi-
tecture of the building, with Avhich it is noAv

By several writers this court has been
attributed to Seymour. But it seems from
many circumstances to be much more pro-
bable that it Avas erected, or rebuilt, by
Edmimd, second Lord Chandos. Indeed
there are some facts that may be considered
conclusive on this point. In the apartment
called the " Chandos Room," is a magnificent
antique" chimney piece, bearing the family
motto in old French — Mameicine le droit —
carved in relief on the transverse part, Avith
the initials, E. C, that is, Edmund Chandos,
in the corners. Noav it is obvious this A\'as
not a subsequent erection, being so connected
and bonded Avith the masonry of the exterior
Avail as to render it certain that it must have
been coeval Avith it. In addition to such
eA'idence, there is, at the right extremity of
the court, a AvindoAv surmounted by the
leopard's head, Avith tlie same initials, E. C,
and the date 1572. The death of Lord
Chandos in the foUoAving year may also
account for this part of the castle having



been left In an unfinislied state. In tlie wall
dividing the two courts is a low door-way
having above the arch the initials, G C, and
the date 1614; indicating that some altera-
tions or additions were made at a yet later
period by Grey, Lord Chandos.

At the left extremity is a fragment, be-
yond question of. a much earlier date than
any other part of the castle. TJiis consists
of a low embattled tower, which has on one
side been enlarged for the reception of an
oriel wuidow in the Tudor style, giving light
to a small room called the " Nursery." From
the sharp pointed arch of the windows re-
cently discovered in the interior, and the
dilapidated state of the walls, there seems
much probability tJiat this tower is as old
as the middle of the thirteenth century;
and perhaps formed part of the manor
place spoken of by Leland.

But it was in the inner court that the mag-
nificence of Sudeley was principally deve-
loped. Here must liave been many splendid
apartments, and Jiere we still tind several
of tlie beautiful windows of the spacious ban-
queting-room, wliich Leland tells us were
glazed with berj'!. The ian-like tracery of
the soffit of the oriel is exquisite, and in
truth has seldom been surpassed. Angels,
bearing shields on their breasts, upon which
probably arms Avere emljlazoned, are seen
at the base of the corbels, that supported
the ribs of the lofty ceiling. Underneath
it, and of the same extent, is the Great
Hall, which judging from its remains must
liave been in perfect keeping with the rest ;
while near to the latter, in the angle formed
by the north-east end of the banqueting-
room are the few reliques of a chamber,
which according to tradition was the dor-
mitory appropriated to royal visitors.

The opposite side of the quadrangle
contained the kitchen, and, if the ancient
hospitality may be inferred by the capa-
bilities here afforded, it must have been of
no ordinary character. The fire-place is
large enough to roast an ox, being twelve
feet wide, and it still retains marks of having
been in frequent use.

At each corner of the same court was a
lofty embattled tower, three of which still
remain, — the Water Tower, the Watch
Tower, and the Keep. The latter is of
great strength, and has three stories of
considerable height, with the massive iron
grating still remaining in several of the Avin-
dows. In the north angle of it are the
dungeons, three strongly arched and deep
cells rising one above the other, and havmg
no entrance but a narrow door-way at the
top of each, which communicates only with
the several floors of the Keep. Some years
ago an opening was made at the bottom
of the lower cell, Avhen a human skeleton

is said to have been discovered, a talc which,
whether true or not, is highly probable.

To the south-east of the first court, upon
a lawn liounded by a stately terrace stands
the chapel already mentioned as containing
the grave of Queen Catherine. This build-
ing, which has been much admired for the
harmony of its proportions, as well as for its
chasteness of decoration, appears to belong
to the time of Henry VL, wdien the later
style of English ecclesiastical architecture
was in its zenith, and was probably the work
of Ralph le Boteler, the founder of the castle.
Although now roofless and desolate, it is a
highly interesting relique, especially if viewed
on a fine summer evening from the Chandos
Room, when tlie sunset is lighting up its

Notwithstandhig the antique magnificence
of this castle, and the interest attached to it
by old associations, it was for many years
mucli neglected, so that what had. escaped
without much injury from violence was be-
ginning to suffer from tlie natural decay of
time. It.s final destruction, indeed, seemed
to be no A'ery improbable or remote event,
when in the eleventh hour it was bought by
the present owners, who, having wealth as
well as taste and an ardent love for anti-
quity, at once commenced the work of resto-
ration. Hitherto their efforts have been
chiefly directed to the preservation of the first
court which was most in danger, but which
has now assumed the appearance of a noble
and commoclious mansion. Nor was their
attention exclusively confined to the re-
building of Avhat Avas fast going to ruin.
Having restored so much of the eilifice,
they set about collecting various treasures
of art for its internal embellishment. In
the Oriel Room, an imposing chamber above
the portal, are several liighly interesting
pictures, one of which, pahited by Sir
Antonio More, represents Henry VHl. and
his children. This, which came from the
Strawberry Hill collection, still continues in
its original fi aine of black and gold, with a
curious j^oetical inscription going round it,
and the following couplet at its base in ex-
planation of its history : —

The queene to W.alsiiigham this tuhlet sente,
Mavke of her peoples and her own contentc.

Another fine picture is the Union of the
Roses, by the marriage of Henry VH. with
Elizabeth of York, the portrait of Henry
being traditionally said to present a remark-
able likeness of that monarch. Here too is
a portrait of the High Admiral Seymour, a
Charles the Second by Sir Peter Lely, and
a Queen Elizabeth in stained glass, the size
of life and in full regal costume. In the
same apartment will be found rare carvings
of Henry YIH. by Holbein ; a pair of mas-
sive bronze candelabra iVom Italy and



beautiful Etruscan vases. But a more ex-
traordinary work of art is a mosaic table of
large dimensions, weighing with its stand
upwards of tln-ee quarters of a ton, aiul
whicli, at the close of the iifteenth century,
adorned the Florentine palace of Lorenzo
de Medici It is formed of the rarest and
most costly marbles, elaborately worked in
intricate devices, and enriched with tur-
quoise, lapis lazuli, and otlier precious sub-
stances. Tlie stand, wliich is gorgeously
carved and gilt, displays the ducal arms of

The walls of the Chandos Room are en ■
tirely covered with some fine old tapestry,
on which hawking and other rural sports
are represented. The subjects are wrought
Avith much skill of execution, and are evi-
dently from the designs of a master. The
windows are ornamented with richly stained
glass, displaying the arms of the Tudors
and other subjects in keeping with them,
so that the whole harmonizes admirably
with the massive antique chimney-piece
erected here by Edmund Lord Chandos.

In 1848, the British Archfeological Asso-
ciation, attracted by the historic renown of
Sudeley, visited tlie castle, and an interesting
description of the excursion forms a promi-
nent feature in the General Keport, edited
by A. J. Dunkiu.

BIDDLESDON, or Bitlesden ; anciently
Bctestene, Betlesden, or Bj^tlesden, Buck-
inghamshire, the seat of George jMorgan,
Esq. The ancient history of this manor is
curious enough to deserve record. In the
reign of Henry I. it was the property of
Robert de iNIeppershall, who, as some say,
forfeited it for having stolen one of the king's
hounds ; or, as others have it, being sued in
the king's court in consequence of a dispute
about a furious dog belonging to the
monarch, he was fain to propitiate him by
giving Bitlesden to the Royal Chamberlain,
Geotli'rey de Clinton, who was then in high
favour at court. Whether true or not, there
is nothing improbable in the story, such was
the tyranny of the feudal laws, and so rigid
Avere the Norman monarchs in punisliing the
slightest oflences against them, even Avhen
they were only accidental. But some time
^afterwards he married the dausihter of the


chamberlain, when the estate was given
back to him ; though, as it turned out, to
retain only a brief possession of it. In the
reign of King Stephen, the country being
distracted with civil warfare, he retired to
his native place of Mcpcrteshall in
Bedfordshire, and thus neglected to pay
the services due to the Earl of Lei-
cester. Hereupon, the latter immediately
seized the manor as an escheat, and bestowed
it upon Ei'nald de Bosco, his steward, who,

finding that the remain ler in these lands
could not descend to his heirs, obtained the
Earl's consent for the transference of tlie
manor to the monks of Garondon, or Ger-
endon, in Leicestershire, that they might
found a convent of the Carthusian order.
This was accordingly done in 1G47. After
the Reformation, the abbey and manor were
granted to Lord Wriothesley ; next it passed
by purchase to the Peckhams ; then being
seized by Queen Elizabeth, in satisfaction of
a debt due to the government, she gave it
to Artliur Lord Grey, on the attainder of
whose son in 1603, it reverted to the Crown.
Carr, Earl of Somerset, is next said to have
held this manor, but upon his condemnation
for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, it
was granted by King James, in 1614, to Sir
George Villlers, subsequently Duke of Buck-
ingham. By the second and last duke of
that name it was sold in 1681 to Mr. Sayer,
of Avhose family it was piu'chased by Earl
Verney. After his death it was disposed of
by his niece and successor, Mary Verney,
Baroness Fermanagh, to George Morga.n,
Esq., and his brother. Dr. Morgan.

Biddlesdon House, as it now stands, is a
plahi commodious building, erected by
Henry Sayer, Esq., about 1731, and contains
a large and valuable collection of books and
pictures. It may, however, be said to have
cost dearly, at least according to antiqua-
rian calculation. TiU Mr. Sayer had swept
them away for the sake of his new mansion,
there were considerable remains of the abbey
and conventual church, part of the east side
of the cloisters, part of a tower, a small
chapel with the chapter house, and a hand-
some room about forty feet square, with a
vaulted roof, supported by four pillars. In
the chapel was a monument of one of the
Lords Zouche. But all is gone — not a brick,
not a stone of the ancient building is any
longer to be seen.

CHAirCNT PASK, Buckinghamshire, the
seat of John Ncmbhard Uibbert, Esq., pur-
chased by his ancestors in the last century
of Charles Churchill, Esq. It stands about
fiye miles from Amersham, on the load to
London, and five miles from Uxbridge in
j^Iiddlescx, in a luxuriant but narrow valley,
rendered yet more interesting by the pic-
turesque accompaniments of Avood and water.
In the adjoining parish of Chalfont St,
Giles, may still be seen the house Avhere
Milton found a refuge at the time the great
plague Avas raging in London, and where he
brought his Fara'dise Lost to a conclusion.
Here, too, the first draft of "Paradise Re-
gained" is supposed to haA-e lieen written, at
the suggestion of his Quaker friend, Ehvood,
the companion of his retirement. The pre-



sent possessor, who served ,is High Slicriff
of Bucks iu 1837, is second son of the kte
Robert Hibbert, Esq. of Bh-tles Hall, county
of Chester, tlie descendant of a family seated
at Marple, temp. Edward IV.

EAMMERSCALES, county Dumfiies, tlie
seat of William Bell i\Iacdonald, Esquire.

The mansion-house of Rammerscalcs is
picturesquely situated on the side of a range
of hills forming the western boundary of the
Vale of the Annan, at a sudden elevation of
about 250 feet, and a mile in distance from
the banks of the river ; it is surrounded by
several hundred acres of very old, large, and
luxuriant trees of various kinds, and bears no
very distant resemblance, in its general fea-
tures, to the castles on the llhine. The sil-
ver fir and larch seem particularly suited to
the locality, the former of which are recorded
for their size in Selby's histoiy of forest trees,

Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 79)