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ONE by one the old buildings of our country are perishing
by accident, neglect, or wanton destruction ; their memory
passes away, and their place knows them no more. When
the passion for covering this island with railways and
factories shall have done its worst, our great-grandchildren
will hardly possess a fragment of the older work to recall
to their eyes the beauty and the life of England in the
past. And so it becomes a sort of social duty for those to
whom chance has thrown it in their path to preserve such
wreckage of old things as the tempest of change has left
any relic that they find still mouldering in the flotsam
and jetsam of time.

Thus I came to put together in spare days of leisure
some memorials of a very beautiful and most interesting
house, which is a landmark in the history of art, and has
not a few associations with the history of our country.
During the last twenty-four years I have often found
there a time of peace and quiet thought ; and pacing up
and down the court, and watching the hues of russet and
orange in the mouldings, or the evening light as it
glowed through the jewelled quarries in the oriels, I
became curious to know a little more about the builders
and the building of it. From what movement of art did
it spring ? Whence came those amorini over Tudor



gates, and the Italian arabesques in those Gothic
traceries ? What manner of life did these walls witness
and serve ? Of what kin were the men whose devices
are recorded in the painted glass ? As, one by one, I
learned to recognise the story they could reveal, and had
found how curiously the house was connected with the
tempestuous days of the eighth Henry and his three
children and successors, as I traced all the circumstances
of the strange and bloody tragedy which set its mark
upon these walls almost before the mortar in them was
dry, I began for myself a connected record of the place.

A well-known historian used to say to me, " Sink a
shaft, as it were, in some chosen spot in the annals of
England, and you will come upon much that is never
found in the books of general history." So I sunk my
shaft in this spot, and tried to understand a bit of local
history, as seen from a single manor and a particular
family and house. I tried to identify SUDTONE, as
it is described in Domesday, and to make out the meadow,
and the land or arable, the woodland " of 25 swine," and
the mill. The fortunes of the manor sway back and
forwards during feudal times, as the fortunes of England
itself. Ten times it fell back into the hands of the
Crown ; ten times it was granted to royal favourites or
ministers ; eight times it was lost by attainder, forfeiture,
or surrender between the days of the Conqueror and the
days of the Tudors ; till at length Henry VIII. grants
the ancestral domain of the last of the Beauforts, his
father's mother, to the soldier and minister of his own
who built the house.

I have often pictured to myself the veteran gazing at
his newly finished home when his only boy lay headless
in the fresh grave on Tower Hill. I would wonder if


he still continued to entertain here his fierce master, and
still put his faith in princes. It would seem so, for he
kept his honours and his wealth ; and in the inventory of
his goods for the proving of his will is a "grete carpete
to lay under the Kyng's fete." And we find his widow
soon after sending presents of game and " swete bagges "
from this house to the Princess at Guildford. And then
I would try to conceive with what feelings the son of
that slaughtered youth came to receive the daughter of
Anne Boleyn in the house which his father had not lived
to inherit, which he himself owed to the slayer of that
father. With what thoughts, I have often asked myself,
did Elizabeth keep state in the hall associated so closely
with the death of her mother and the wayward passions
of her father, where are still to be seen the emblems of
Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour, of Mary and
Gardiner, of a succession of chiefs from both camps in
that furious revolution ?

And the old Duke of Norfolk, the hero of Flodden,
and Lord Berners, the friend of Caxton, both the
colleagues of the founder, and Stanley of Derby, the
famous Chamberlain, and Paulet of Winchester, the
famous Treasurer, do their emblems commemorate their
presence here ? And the calm proud face on the canvas
of Zucchero, which smiles as she might have smiled in
welcome to the Queen, that Dorothy Arundell who had
lived to see some twenty of her relations die as traitors in
the Tower, did the past become to her a dream ; and as
she did the honours of her home, did she find it a natural
incident of life that attainder should fall on the head of
her father, and her mother, and her aunt, and her husband's
father, and on her relations of both sexes and of every
degree on her father's and her mother's side ?


And then that later Sir Richard Weston, who made
the canal upon the Wey, and who laboured so much in
agriculture, how came he to keep his house safe and his
estate intact in the great Civil War which shook and
battered down so many of his neighbours around him ?
How come we to find in his windows designs from the
fancy of the Parliament Poet, and also the portrait of
King Charles ?

These men and women were nothing to me or to
mine, no more than any other names in the history or
those days ; their house and their pictures and their
escutcheons do not belong to mine or to me, who am
but a passing visitor amongst them. But I came to love
the old place, the very brickwork and the weeds and
lichens which have clung round the mouldings, the
swallows twittering round the tiles, and the deep glow of
the painted glass. So, bit by bit, my notes grew into
a connected account of the house and its vicissitudes.
And as the owner pressed me to work into it the memor-
anda which he had collected in manuscript, and the hints
of many artistic and antiquarian friends, I found it
convenient for the curious in art, and the neighbours
who might visit it, to put the rough sketch I had
gathered together into print.

So this book is but the expansion of a catalogue or
manual that I began long ago for the use of our friends.
To any special acquaintance with art or with antiquities
of any kind I can make no sort of pretension. I have
sought, since no one else was disposed to do so, to make
a record or inventory of that which is passing away before
our eyes. I am neither professed historian nor antiquary,
and I certainly am no genealogist or herald. I am trying
merely to rub the dust and weeds from the tombstones of


the past, as " Old Mortality " would do in pious re-
miniscence of departed saints. My part is but to scrape
and copy the inscription on the neglected stone, to learn
who lie beneath, that I may keep their memory green.
In giving some portion of my leisure to the study of the
place, I feel as if I were repaying a personal debt that I
owe to a spot endeared to me by the recollection of hours
of perfect peace ; above all, as if I were fulfilling a duty
to my father, who lived and died in these walls, and who
laboured so lovingly to preserve them. And I now must
add to these memories those of my mother and of my
brother Lawrence, who were in succession occupiers of
this house until the close of their lives.

ri i t HT.

Jill !!: III! II- -'11)1 X.I : ..'111




Introductory ........ i


Vicissitudes of the Manor of Sutton . . . .18


PART I. Before the Reformation Sir Richard Weston

the Elder, Builder of the House . . 39

PART II. After the Reformation . . . .65
PART III. Westons, Knights of St. John ... 82


Sir Francis Weston, the Son and Heir ... 89

Sir Henry Weston 107



Sir Richard Weston, the Agriculturist, 1613-52 . .120


From the Civil Wars to the Present Time . . .134

The House 151

The Quadrangle 171


The Great and the Panelled Hall . . . .182


The Long Gallery, Tapestries, Portraits, and Escutcheons 188


The Painted Glass 199

Coats of Arms, etc., in Windows .... 204



THIS edition is a small and abridged form of the quarto
work published in 1893 by Messrs. Macmillan and Co. The
elaborate illustrations and coloured plates have been omitted,
with the exception of some head- and tail-pieces, as well as
the Appendices with the Pedigrees of Weston, Howard,
Copley, Shelley, and other families, the Wills of the Westons,
Grant of the Manor, and Inventory. For these and other
details reference must be had to the larger and original work.
The estate is still the property of F. H. Salvin, who holds
it by devise from his cousin, the last male of the Weston
family. It has been occupied under a lease since 1874 by
the family of the author.



SUTTON PLACE is an ancient manor-house
on the banks of the Wey in Surrey, about
4 miles from Guildford and as many from
Woking ; and it was built between 1520-30
by Sir Richard Weston. It was the work
of a great building age ; Henry VIII., in
the words of the old chronicle, was " the
onlie phoenix of his time for fine and
curious masonrie " ; for this was the age
of Hampton Court, Christ Church, Ox-
ford, and Trinity College, Cambridge ; of
Thornbury, Hengrave, Grimsthorp, Ken-
ninghall, and Layer Marney. It was
built in the first outburst of the new art,
which in Europe is called Renascence,
when Henry was the successful rival of
Francis and the Emperor Charles, and
nearly in the centre of one of the most
creative moments in art which our country
has ever seen. The house is almost con-
temporary with some of those exquisite
chateaux of the age of Francis which are


still preserved on the Loire. Like them it possesses
Italian features of a fancy and grace as remote from the
Gothic as from the classical world. Like them, as was
every fine work of that age, it is the embodiment of a
single idea, of the personal sense of beauty of some
creative genius ; and thus it stands apart in the history
of house-building in Europe, a cinquecento conception
in an English Gothic frame.

Here the airy and fantastic grace of the Renascence,
as we find it at Pavia and Blois, has lighted up a mass of
Tudor Gothic. Yet withal there is no single classical
feature, nor one that recalls the florid style of the Stuarts.
It is as if some prophetic genius in art, saturated with
Southern ideas of beauty, had been seeking to develop
here a new English style, which should be as little
military or Gothic as it should be classical. Had our
builders continued on these lines of thought, it is possible
that our architecture might never have fallen beneath the
domination of Palladio, and yet might have worked clear
of the imitation feudal castle and the mesquin inanity of
debased Gothic. But the idea, to whomsoever it belongs,
perished with him. Sutton Place remains the single
extant production of a peculiar and suggestive type of
Renascence Gothic.

The, material in which it is built, like much in the
conception itself, is Italian rather than English. It is
one of the very few ancient buildings still remaining in
our country which are made of terra -cotta and brick
without any dressing of stone. The use of terra-cotta,
not merely as a superimposed ornament, but as a con-
structive element, is exceedingly rare and instructive.
And in this house the terra-cotta is used, not only with
profusion for purposes of ornament, but precisely as stone


is used where a building of brick is dressed with stone.
Mullions, dripstones, string courses, turrets, arches,
parapets, groins, and finials are all moulded in fine terra-
cotta with delicate designs. After 380 years of exposure
the mouldings remain almost as perfect as when they
were cast ; nor in the main does the terra-cotta show
any sign of yielding to natural decay. The mass and the
completeness of the terra-cotta work is hardly equalled
by any old work in England. Now that our builders
are seeking to acclimatise anew this potent resource of
construction, it is of special interest to observe the
methods in use in the bold attempt made to introduce
terra-cotta as material for building more than three
centuries and a half ago.

The house, too, has the singular fortune to retain, at
least on the outside, its original form, and to be quite
free from later additions. Save that one side of the
court has been removed, the principal quadrangle, as
seen from within, is in every essential feature exactly
as the builder left it. Nor, except by the removal or
the renewal of some mullions, has the exterior on any
side suffered any material change. It is not, like so
many of our ancient mansions, a record of the caprice, the
ambition, the decay, or the bad taste of successive genera-
tions. No Elizabethan architect has added a classical
porch ; no Jacobean magnate has thrown out a ponderous
wing with fantastic gables and profusion of scrolls ; no
Georgian squire has turned it into a miniature Blenheim,
or consulted his comfort by adding a square barrack. Sir
Richard Weston, were he to return from his long sleep
with his descendants in Trinity Church at Guildford,
would find his way to the doorway in the court, and
would recognise his home, worn and dimmed a little in


these 380 years, but, it may be, mellowed by time into a
peculiar charm, softened by the mosses and the lichens
on the cornices, and the wallflowers and the ferns which
nestle beneath the traceries of the bays.

This unity and peace, which seem to rest on the old
house almost as on a ruin or a cloister whence modern
improvements are shut out, are doubtless due to this :
that from its building till to-day the place has remained
in the same family, and that a family debarred by adher-
ence to the ancient faith from taking active part in the
world of affairs. The hall itself was built before the
Reformation, as the emblems and arms of Catherine of
Aragon remain to witness. Under Elizabeth the house
was searched as a secret receptacle of priests. In the
next century the heir married the heiress of an eminent
Catholic leader. According to the tradition of the
family, the mass has been continuously celebrated within
its walls, more or less openly, from the time they were
raised until the other day when the new chapel was built
in the park. During the civil wars and the last century
the penal laws pressed heavily on Catholics, and after the
civil wars the family took no part in public. Being
neither wealthy, nor ambitious, nor busy, they clung to
the old place, and they left it to hold its own with time,
unaltered and unimproved. Thus it comes about that
whilst the famous mansions of England bear the marks
of succeeding generations, this one has remained with the
unity and the pathos of a ruin, and still with but little of
structural decay.

It has another feature which is of much account in
the history of manners, and marks one of the great
epochs in the history of architecture. It is, if not the
earliest, at least one of the very first extant specimens in


England of a mansion-house built wholly as a peaceful
dwelling, and entirely without any thought of defence.
Down to the end of the fifteenth century all houses
in the country of any importance or size were built
either as actual castles and castellated mansions, or at
least in the form and in the spirit of a castle. Narrow
windows, turret staircases, cramped doorways, an irregular
plan, battlements, embrasures, and dominant towers were
the first necessities of a home to a wealthy and powerful
chief who was living on his own estates. Penshurst,
H addon, Sudeley, Warwick, even Thornbury and
Kenninghall, are all castles originally built with ideas
of war, and gradually transformed under habits of peace.
They are in spirit Gothic and feudal. When fifty years
later, in the piping times of Bess, Longleat and Wool-
laton were built, when the Cecils, the Sackvilles, and
Willoughbys were designing their new and stately palaces,
all notions of a castle were abandoned. But early in the
reign of King Henry VIII. it required an effort of the
mind to perceive that the wars of the barons were over ;
that a gentleman might live at his ease under protection
of law and the king's peace.

In Italy and in France men had long been building
palaces instead of castles. As we shall see, Sir Richard
Weston had gone on an embassy to Francis I. in 1518,
and was taken across France at the very time when the
new chateaux were building. It was natural that the
minister and courtier who had attended in full bravery at
the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and who was the trusted
colleague of Wolsey, should be one of the first to raise in
England a country house in our modern sense, instead of
an imitation castle. Here, at any rate, Sir Richard built
him a dwelling which would hardly resist the assault of a


burglar ; symmetrical, airy, light, and commodious, with
large and regular windows, with an even and balanced
facade, with wide hall doors opening on to the green ;
with no towers, winding stairs, moat, battlements, or
outer rampart, but merely and simply a quiet country
home. Here is nothing feudal ; all is peace and art, and
the art is rather Southern than Northern in idea. To
conceive such a home was to inaugurate a peaceful
revolution in manners.

It is well known how deeply, all through the sixteenth
century, the ruling classes in England and in France had
absorbed that New Life and New Art which in Italy
had been fully developed in the century before. The
Machiavellian turn for craft, secrecy, and suddenness of
stroke, the passion for the beautiful, the revolt against the
feudal habits of war and the old traditions of religious art,
all these colour the politics, the poetry, and the manners
of the age. Henry loved the artists of Italy as much
as did Francis ; Wolsey lived surrounded by Romans ;
and Thomas Cromwell had his training in Italy itself.
Weston's brother, the Prior of St. John's, spent much of
his life in command at Rhodes, and they both belonged
to a family which had served as Knights of St. John, and
had seen foreign service for generations. Here, then,
was exactly the combination best fitted to introduce into
English homes that Southern grace, that colour and de-
light in life, that New Birth of beauty which warm the
whole sixteenth century in England, and with which
Surrey and Raleigh, Spenser and Shakespeare, so deeply
filled their souls.

Sir Richard Weston was one of those skilful, wary, and
trusty servants of the Tudors by whose energy and craft
they established a strong personal government in England.


He was made Knight of the Bath in 1518, and in 1519
he was named with three other "sad and ancient knights "
as gentlemen of the Privy Chamber. He was subsequently
Master of the Court of Wards, Treasurer of Calais, and
Under-Treasurer of England. In 1518 he was sent on
an embassy to Francis I. with his brother, the Prior of
St. John's, and Sir T. Boleyn. In 1520 he accompanied
the King in state to the Field of the Cloth of Gold. In
1523 he took part in the campaign in France, and he
served under the Duke of Suffolk in the siege of Boulogne.
In 1521 he received a grant from the King of the royal
manor of Sutton, and in 1530 he received a further grant
of lands at Clandon and Merrow. His only son and heir,
a personal playmate and minion of the King, had been
married to a rich heiress by the King's favour in 1530,
and in 1532 he was made Knight of the Bath at the
coronation of Anne Boleyn. Four years afterwards that
son was executed on Tower Hill as one of the reputed
lovers of the Queen. Yet the father, mother, and widow
remain at Sutton and enjoy and accept the favour of the
King. They send presents to the royal family when they
pass near them at Guildford. In 1539, but three years
after the catastrophe, we find the old knight still at Court.
He is chosen with other knights to attend the reception
of Anne of Cleves in 1539. Then follow quickly the
divorce of Anne, with the marriage and execution of
Catherine Howard.

All these Sir Richard lived to witness. He died in
1542. For thirty-three years he was the trusted minister
and servant of Henry ; he had held his offices under
Wolsey and under Cromwell, through the Reformation,
the Six Acts, and the Pilgrimage of Grace, and all through
Henry's first five marriages. He lost his son, but not his


head ; his patrons, but not his estates. The wild surging
of those times from Catholic to Protestant professions,
the deadly conflicts of that reign between mighty nobles
and low-born ministers, did not shake Weston from his
place, his offices, or his King's favour. In 1521, in the
heyday of Henry's renown and the full ascendency of
Spain, he received the grant of the royal manor of Sutton.
In 1525 Wolsey writes to ask for him from the King the
Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster. In 1539
Cromwell, who devised the marriage with Anne of Cleves,
was all-powerful. Weston is one of those chosen to
receive her in honour, as his son had been appointed to
wait on Anne Boleyn. The very next year Cromwell is
overthrown and brought to the scaffold as a traitor in the
Tower. Two years afterwards Sir Richard himself dies
peacefully at home ; his goods are inventoried at Sutton,
and his executors are Sir Christopher More of Loseley,
Fitzwilliam the Earl of Southampton, Sir John Russell,
then Lord Admiral, and founder of the house of Bedford,
and Lady Weston, the widow. Truly such a man who
had weathered so many storms of Henry's passion in rule,
in religion, in friendship, and in love, and is tranquilly
laid to his rest full of years and of honours, must have
been of the order of men to which belonged Paulet, he
who said, " I am the willow, not the oak."

The vicissitudes and ironies of such a career give one
a vivid sense of the tremendous whirlpool in which the
Reformation and its consequences kept men revolving in
the days of Henry. Here is an officer of state who serves
the King for thirty-three years, and retains the confidence
successively of Warham, More, Wolsey, Cromwell, South-
ampton, and Russell ; who was a courtier through all the
negotiations with Louis XII., with the Emperor, with


Francis I., with the German princes. He goes on an
embassy to Francis I. ; he names his only son after that
king. He who had obtained his grant under Wolsey,
and had adorned his house in honour of Queen Catherine,
accepts the new order of things under Cromwell, and
procures for his boy a place about the person of Anne
Boleyn. His brother is the prior of a great monastic
house, who dies of grief at the dissolution j Sir Richard
himself undoubtedly dies a Catholic, and yet he is chosen
to welcome the Protestant Anne of Cleves, and makes
Russell of Woburn the executor of his own will.

When the son is beheaded as a traitor, the Constable
of the Tower who executes the warrant is the knight
who had been chosen with the father, eighteen years
before, to be one of the four personal companions and
advisers to the King. Yet the grandson lives to marry the
cousin of Anne Boleyn, a cousin also of Catherine Howard,
of Lady Jane Grey, and of Lord Surrey. The old knight
himself serves first with the Bourchiers, the Fitzalans,
the Howards, the Stanleys, Berkeleys, and Brays, whose
arms and coronets and garters he so proudly displays in
his hall, and then with the new men, the Paulets, Fitz-
williams, Wriothesleys, Gardiners, and Russells. In the
end he leaves his will to be executed by the personal
confidants of Henry ; and to this very day we find in
his house a portrait of the Emperor, the devices of
Aragon and Castile, the pomegranate of Catherine, the

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Online LibraryFrederic HarrisonAnnals of an old manor-house, Sutton Place, Guildford → online text (page 1 of 18)