Henry Martyn Dexter.

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nature, probably at last she passed with resignation even from
the " most excellent soiUe-ravishing musique," as it died away
under the windows of tlie " great chamber," to the sweeter still-
ness of the moonlit plain, just modulated by the soft ripple of
the Ryton as it washed one side of one of the courts, enriched
now and then by the muffled call of the cuckoo and the inde-
scribably pathetic trill of the nightingale, whose lineal descen-
dants to this day haunt and gladden the spot.

" The Xlllth Day of the said ]Monneth she departed from
the sayd Place, accom])anyed as before." Xot at dawn, how-
ever. For time was given for the reassembling of the dispersed
horse and foot companies of neighbors, and for the gathering of
the northern sheriff's escort, which probably came down from
Doncaster. Presumabl}' Johannes and his men now came to the
front, and it was with tlie blast of trumpets that the "■ varey
noble Trayne " clattered out upon the drawbridge over the moat,
turning sharply to the riglit ahnost at once by the '' mylnes
[mills] of Seroby water," which added to the revenues of the
see while serving the countryfolk, and so down to the ford, on
the other side of which the Yorkshire cavalcade awaited them
with loyal shoutings.

Tlie Scrooby palace seems to have reached its best estate
soon after this date. It is on record that Archbishop Savage,
who was extravagantly fond of hunting, " built much here," until
it was am])le for the fre(iuent entertainment of *" the great num-
ber of goodly tall fellows " who habitually attended him. It
must be rememliered, however, that seven or eight archiepisco-
pal residences belonged to the see of York, and that the prelate
was itinerating i among them ahnost constantly. Therefore his
stay at each residence was apt to be brief ; and, instead of fur-
nishing so many edifices elaborately, such dignitaries took with
them from place to place not only a retmue of under-servants,

* Fast. Eb. i : 308. " A bishop, like his sovereign, was rarelv more than three
days at a time in one place. He was always passing' from residence to residence
with all the pomp and ceremony of a great feudal baron."


but all lighter furniture, as well as the richer furnishings of
their tables. That most conscientious volume ^ which be<i-ins the
history of the northern archbishops in 627, to leave it, to the
great loss of scholars, with John de Thoresby in 1373, says : —

Hawks and hounds were frequently his [the archbishoii's] compan-
ions on his travels, and he would turn aside every now and then from
the beaten causeway to flush the heron from its waterpool, or to chase
the red deer through the woods. Behind the archbishop there rode a
long train of domestics, who carried with them the wardrobe and the
plate, and a great part of the furniture of their master. With these
each of his manor-houses or castles was equipped, to be stripped again
when the visitors deserted it.

Wolsey, next but one in succession to Archbishop Savage,
was a constant absentee fi-om his pro\ance during the time of
his prosperity. We know, however, that in his journeyings he
always carried witli him a service of plate of very great value.-
It belonged to such general conditions that some, at least, of
these abiding-places would be, not caravansaries exactly, merely
offering bare rooms, to be furnished wholly by the traveller, but
skeleton homes, so to speak, perhaps stocked with the more solid
articles of household use, yet needing to be refurnished at everv
recurring period of residence with the lighter and more luxu-
rious equipments.

Moreover, it was necessary that each of these manor-houses
should be in charge of some resident agent, to look after the
crops, collect rents, make repairs, keej) everything in some con-
dition of thrift, and, at however sudden notice, make suitable
provision for the periodical visitations of the archbishop. And
where the manorial property was large, as at Scrooliy,''^ and many
tenants and divers interests required attention, it was inevitable
that, for public convenience, some autliorized legal represen-
tative of the archbishop always should be in residence to afford

1 Fast. Eb.i: 303. 2 S. Giustinian at Court of Henry VIII. ii : 314.

' " The civil government of the soke or liberty of ."Southwell cum Scroobv, com-
prehending twenty tow nships, is separated from that of the rest of the county of
Nottingham. The justices of tlie peace are appointed by the Archbishop of York,
but are under a commLssion from the crown; they hold quarter-sessions at .South-
well and Scrooby." — Cavendish, Wolsey, Wordsworth, Eccks. Biogs. (ed. ls.";3), Cl.'-"
and n., 627, 628, G30.


to the rural population such advantage of the absent proprie-
tor's constructive presence as might be had by deputy. That
such an officer habitually resided at Scrooby is matter of fair
inference. That one actually was on the ground in tlie sixteenth
century will be shown later from documentary evidence.

It is a quieter, not to say a more sombre, picture which we get
of Scrooby when, almost a generation afterwards, a ray from
written history once more falls upon it. It is later in the year,
and the brown ripeness of the harvest time mellows and enriches
the landseajie. That gi-eat but falling statesman, who was tak-
ing the archbishopric in his fall, now, driven with averted face
from the Court, was on his way to this place of temporary rest.
For several days couriers had been arriving with orders, and
heavy-laden sumpter-nudes and packliorses had been coming in
over the drawbridge, while all the premises had been astir with
the bustle of preparation.

Cardinal AVolsey had been at Southwell since about May 1,
and desired to push on towards the heart of his ecclesiastical
pro\ance. It was not until the very last of August, however,
that matters altogether suited his movement. There was a large
gathei-ing of worshii)ful gentlemen for his escort. But Wolsey
was so anxious to avoid the great hunt which they were planning
for him that he stole a march upon them in the gray of a ]Mon-
day morning, and so paced his mule over the sixteen miles that
he reached Newstead Abbey before six o'clock, leaving most of
his grand escort in their beds. But " the matter was laughed at,
and so merrily jested out, that all was well taken." The next
day, Aug. 30, they dined at Ruft'ord Abbey and slept at Blyth
Abbey, so that it was on the last day of the last summer montli,
towards noon, when, without nuisic or maidenly presence, his
large cortege drew by the Serlby woods into the great North
Road and passed on to Scrooby into the manor-house courts.

The whole of September was spent here. On Sunday it was
the habit of the cardinal-archbishop to make an excursion to
some neighboring parish church — at Bawtry, jNlisson, Everton,
Mattersey or Harworth — and say or hear mass, causing one of
his chaplains to preach to the congregation. After service he
would dine at " some honest house in the towne, where should be


distributed to the peojjle a great ahues of meate aud drinke ; or
of money to siij)ply the want of uieate, if the noniber of the pore
did so exeede in necessity." And for the week days his servant i
draws a genial i)icture of this wily and worn old diplomat offer-
ing himself as a peacemaker for old strifes. Nor will this limn-
ing of these fine autumn days here be complete if we do nnt
remember that there were able men in the suite of the cardinal.
and that with the diversions of the chase they mingled converse
in art aud studies in good letters, so that the walls^ of this rural
palace not merely resounded with the strong Saxon of the tinie.
but sometimes echoed a finer flavor of speech in the flowing
measures of Petrarch and the statelier, if not profounder, periods
of Castiglione.-

With the exception of its dry enumeration among the posses-
sions of the see of York in the sworn list,3 returned to the king
in 1535, of the property of the Church, our next glimpse of this
manor-house is in the almost equally arid, but more instructive,
mention of the famous anticpiary, Lcland, who, three years later,
paused there on his journey in search of notable ol)jects in that
part of the kingdom. He found l)ut two things in the '' mene
Tounelet of Scroby " to detain his pen. One was the he\ra-
stone parish church, not big, but " very welle buildid," which
remains to justify his praise. '^ The second '" ^

was a great IManor Place, standing Avitliyn a ]\rotc. and [be]longging
to tharclibishop of Tori; buildid yn to [two] Courtcs, whereol tlie
first is very ample, and al builded of Tynibre, saving the Front of tlie
Haule, that is of Brike, to tlie wieh asmiditar per gradiis lapideos.
The ynner Courte BuikHng, as far as I markid, was of Tymber Build-

^ Cavendisli, who wrote this memoir, was Wolsey's '" cretitlenian usher."

2 Edinond Bonner, afterwards Bishop of London, was Wolsey's Master of my
Lord's Facilities and Jurisdictions. In a letter from him, at Scrooby, to Cromwell
at this time he says: —

"And wher ye willing- to make me a trc.d Ytalion promised unto me, longe
agon, the Trinmphes of Petrarclie in the Yt.ilion ton-e. I liartelv pray you at
this tyme by this heyrer, .Mr. Au<,nistine his seruant, to sende me "the said Boke
with some other at your deuotiou ; and, es]>ceially, if it please you, the boke called
Cortieriano in Ytalion."

Ellis, Orig. Ltts. ..'d. Sfr., n: 177.

Probably he was studvin- in view of a possible Italian mission, and within two
years he was sent to Konie.

* Valor Ecclesiasticus, v : 18. * Itin. i : 3G.


ing, and was not in cumpace past the 4. parte of the utter [outer]

These are very dry bones indeed, little better than nothing as
the foundation of an imaginary plan. Yet, \nth such help as
may be found elsewliere, they suggest a rude conception of the
edifice at that period. In the Chapter-house at York are leases
of the property, the first of which dates back to within twenty
years of that time, and, interpreting them by Leland's descrip-
tion and amplifying Leland by particulars which they name,
some general idea of the premises becomes possible.

First of all, divided, and guai'ded, from the surrounding ter-
ritory on its south end and its west side by a moat, and on the
north side, without doubt, by the river Ryton, was a large
outer court. ' Entrance to this was gained over a drawbridge
and through a gate-house i on the west side, the gate-house
" standing length-wise South and North," and likely to be the
dwelling of the kee])crs, falconers, etc. On its eastern side
this outer coiu't liad a house ^ " with clumbers, rooms, appur-
tenances, etc., commonly used for the Archbishop's offices, at
such times as the Archbishop kept house at Scrooby." The
" great chamber " was a building, or in a building, in the north-
west corner. The remainder of the east and south sides of this
court appears to have been filled by " bai'ns, stables, etc.," aj>
parently including the dove-cote, the grange, or granary, the
forge, the kennels, the mews for tlie hawks, and other outbuild-
ings. That part of the west side between the great chamber and
the gate-house seems to have been unoccupied by buildings, and
doubtless was protected by a wall or fence inside of the moat.

Most of the north end of tliis great court, which skirted tlie
river, appears to have been left open for access to the stream.
At all events the leases offer no suggestion of any building but
the " gi-eat chamber " on tliat side. It seems impossible to har-
monize Leland's language, which places the great hall, with its
brick front and its stone steps, on the outer court, with the
descriptive terms of the leases, unless the hall stood at the north-
east corner of that court on the rivei'-bauk, forming the northern

' Lease to James Brvne, Ilcgiater of Lenses, 1543-f^7, at Ydtk, OD-100.
* Lease to Sam. Sandys, Dec 29, loSS, Ileg. Leases, York, ;-'"2T.


lw)rtion of the division between the two courts and haviiirr one
side, or one end, facing each court. There also was " one house,
or building, adjoining to the Hall on the South part," continu-
ing the division between the courts.

He who entered by the gate-house evidently would have had
to cross this great outer court obliquely to the left, and to
pass between the house adjoining the hall, on his left hand, and
the house devoted to chambers, rooms and offices, on his right
hand, in order to reach the inner, and lesser, court. According
to Leland, this was not more than one fourth the size of the
outer court. But Leland qualifies this statement by adding " as
far as I markid," as if he were not sure of his estimate. And,
as there is evidence that this inner court was bordered by the

manor-house, the chapel — probably under the same roof i

one or more galleries 2 from one, or each, of these to the hall,
and by the kitchen, the pantry, the bakehouse and the brew-
house ; and that there were " other houses, edifices and build-
ings standing in the Little Court there ; " ^ and that the enclo-
sure also contained an orchard and two or more fishponds ; *
either it must have been larger than Leland intimates, or the
outer court must have been more extensive than we can fairly
presume it to have been.

1 This often was the case, as surviving- structures prove. And so much of the
present farmhouse as presumably was part of the former manor-house indicates
that probably it was true in this instance. If the manor-house, as distinct from
the chapel, bordered on the court proper, it must have extended further from the
river than the plan indicates, and further than any traces of it in the farmhouse
suggest. The point cannot be determined beyond question.

2 Arch. Heath's recorded purpose of pulling down one gallery from the chapel
to the hall implies, but does not prove, that there were at least two. The ancient
part of the farmhouse indicates that a gallery formerlv ran from one building to
the other across the front of the modern garden and at the height of one story
above the grr.und floor. There may have been a second gallery, parallel with the
first, and at the same height, from building to building, at the back of this open
space, as indicated by the dotted lines in the plan. Or, the second gallery may
Lave been under the first, with none on the river-bank. Or, there may have been
a double gallery at the front, and a single, or another double, gallery at the back.

3 Some, or all, of these minor structures may have stood bv themselves, and
the langu.age of the Sandys lease rather implies this. But. as the court, with its
orchard and ponds, must have been undesirably crowded if it had in it several
such indeppnd,.nt l.uildin-s. it seems more likely that they formed a range enclos-
ing its southeast corner, and the lease does not necessarily forbid this interpretation.

* Tradition, the custom of the time, local history and the present aspect of the
grounds unite to support this statement as to the ponds.



Possibly tlie following plan approximates the outlines of the
place as accurately as any modern study of the few recorded
facts can do so.^


A. Outer, or greater, court.

B. Inner, or leaser, court.

C. Open space, part of lesser court.

1. Gate-bouse.

2. Great chamber.

3. Great hall.

4. House adjoining hall.

5. 5. Galleries.

6. Manor-house.

7. Chapel.

S. House on east side of orchard.
9, 0. Kitchen, pantry, bakehouse, brew-
house, etc.

10. House of chambers, offices, etc.

11. 11, 11. Barns, stables, sheds, etc.

12. Fishponds.

13. Orchard.

14. River R)-ton.

15. 15, 15. Moat.

It was largely a forest country when this manor-place was
erected, so that Lcland undoubtedly is right in saying that the
most of these structures were of timber. Excepting the hall
front and possibly the cha})el, if it stood by itself, probably they
all were constructed of oaken frames filled in with mortar-work
of stones and j^laster. This was the fashion of much of the do-
mestic architecture of the early centuries of England, and some
fine gabled examples of it remain to the present day.

Such — wfll placed, substantial, spacious,- comfortable and

^ There are no reeonlud tlftail.s of the dimensions of the buildings.
^ Thoroton (Hist. XuftiiKihniiishire, cd. 17!>7, iii : 47'.') s.ays : —
" Here [at ^erooby] wiiliin nioniory [i. e. of liis first ed., 1077] stood a very fair
Palace, a far j^reater House of receit, and a better Seat for provision than South-
u-(ll, and had attending;' to it the North Soke, consisting of very many Towns
thereabouts ; it hath a fair Park belonging- to it."


hospitable, yet plain, and, if in any part comely, probably in no
part magiiilicent ; the centre of a widely extended farming-
region, a good point of departure for hunting parties, and a
quiet residence for brief respite from official labors, or for the
performance of imperative duties — was the Scrooby palace in
its best estate.

Soon after Leland's visit, apparently ^ during the same season,
a royal stay enlivened the spot for a summer's day and ni"'ht.
Henry VIII.^ himself halted there, with a gallant company, in
his northern progress. "With hitn were the Dukes of Norfolk and
of Suffolk ; Robert, Earl of Sussex, Great Chamberlain of Eng-
land ; Lord John Russell, Great Admiral ; Cuthbert TunstaU,
Bishop of Durham ; Sir Thomas Cheyney, Treasurer of the
Household ; Sir John Gage, Comptroller of the same ; Sir An-
thony Browne, Master of the Horse ; Sir Anthony Wyngfield,
Vice Chamberlain ; Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Secretary ; and
Sir Richard Riche, Chancellor of the Augmentations ; with their
attendants. The Court then followed the Sovereign and his
ministers, and for the time being was where they were, so that
a meeting of the Privy Council was held at Scrooby Manor —
perhaps in the " great hall," or in the house of offices — on
Aug. 17, 1541.

As the result couriers soon were speeding southward, bearing
letters to Sir John Baker, Chancellor of the Tenths, and to
" Mr. Moyle," signifying to them that

the Kings Ma'"' [Majesty] had assigned them to be comissioners at
Calais for the s^'ey and odering of ctain [certain] things which his
Ma**" would have done there, and therfore requyring them to put
themselves in such arredynes [a readiness] as they might upon adver-
tisement of the Kings Ma*" further jileas' to he gyven unto them for
that purpose repayre thither accordingly.

On the previous day the king and his company had been at
Gainsborough, and they proceeded to Hatfield on the day fol-

Whether Henry VIIL at this visit became so charmed by the
8])ot as to desire it for his own, there is no evidence. But the

1 Hunter, CoHs. 20.

2 Proceedings and Ordinances of Privy Council, XicoLis, vii : 233.


next record concerning tlie property seems to be one, a little
less than three years later, of its sale by Archbishop I lolyate ^
to the king-, a transfer ratified on the same day by the dean and
chapter of York.- It is set down in the rent roD, apparently at
this time,^ as rated at .£32 14s. 8d. annually. Six or seven years
afterwards it was repurchased from the Crown by Holgate, whom
Str}"})e calls " the only wealthy Bishop then in England," for
£G30 7s. 8d. ; * to be his own and his wife Barbara's during
their lives, and " then to [pass to] his successors. Archbishops
of York." ^ Holgate and his wife died soon after, and the manor
again became the property of the see.

Nicholas Heath, the next archbishop, appears to have decided
that the best interests of all concerned no longer recpiired that
it be kept up. It demanded a large outlay for immediate re-
pairs, with a considerable yearly expenditure ; and he deter-
mined to take down the buildings which were in the worst state,
and to make the property a source of income to the see, still
retaining a moderate residentiary right therein. xVccordingly, on
July 4, 1558, he leased Scrool)y jNIanor to James Bryne® for
twenty-one years at an annual rate of £20 15s. lOd. The in-
strument gave the lessee leave to dispark the park and to dis-
pose of the deer." It bound him to find food and lodging for the
workmen who were to take down certain buildings — the gate
[house] of the said manor-place, standing lengthwise south and
north ; one house or building adjoining the hall on the south
part, and the great chamber on the north part and standing
upon the west side of the said manor-place ; the hall and one
gallery leading from the same to the chapel : together with the
pantry and the kitchen. All these the archbishop was to pull
down and carry away at his pleasure. A further stipulation is
that, whenever the archbishoj) should wish to visit Serool)y,

^ Feb. 6-l(), 1544— 4.'), •"(! Hon. VIII. Sixty-seven other manors were alienated by
Holgate at about the same time, in exchange for advowsons, which increased his
personal -wealth at the expense of the see.

^ Drake, Ehirracum. r)4."j-."<4(i.

* May, 1552, G Ed. VI. Abont SSIS in modern money. The greater purchas-
ing power of money then makes this equivalent in value to a much larger sum.

* About SI5,7(!0 in our money. '^ Strype, Ecdes. Mems. (ed. 1S22), ii [-) : 77.
® jRrg. Leases, York, OO-KK). About S5l>0.

Prob.ibly to release its large area fur tillage.


Bryne was to pro\'ide lodgings, for a day and a night, for the
archbishop himself, twelve men and fourteen horses.

A comparison of these plans for dismantling with the account
of the premises ali'eady given demonstrates that, even after this
partial demolition had been accomplished, the precise date of
which is unknown, quite enough of the buildings in their ancient
amplitude remained to make the place convenient and desirable
for the entertainment of even gentle-folk. As all now was under
the control of Bryne, who was not only lessee of the property
but also receiver and bailiff legally representing the archbishop,^
and as all had taken on a commercial drift, probaljly at about
this time it began to be understood that travellers along the
great North Koad might find accommodation in what was left
of these cajmcious premises. iSameless wayfarers came and went
and left no sign. But during the next decade, when rebellion
surged up almost to its very doors, we have repeated evidence of
the presence here, now and then, as guests, of men who have
left their names upon the records of the time.

In the summer of 1560 Sir William Cecil, Secretary of State,
sent to Queen Elizabeth fi'om Scrooby a courier bearing de-
spatches.2 Eight summers later, June 2, 1568, Alexander Clark,
Provost of Edinbui'gh, sent word thence to Cecil that Lord Her-
ries and Fleming were oilended at being brought to Court, that
Fleming was to be sent by the queen to France, and tliat a sus-
picious Frenchman in a black cloak was haunting Edinburgh —
should he not be stayed ? ^ Xot quite eighteen months later,
Nov. 30, 1569, Thomas AVentworth wrote from Scrooby to
the Marquis of Winchester that the rebels had been lying
between York and Tadcaster for a week or more : that a great
company of soldiers and gentlemen was with the Lord President
in York ; that Lord Darcy was at Doncaster, and that the coun-
try was sorely charged in making sundry kinds of nmsters, and
organized robberies under that name. And, just a week later,
Dec. 7, Admiral Lord Ed. Cl}Titon dated there a dispatch ^ to

^ Reg. Leases, York, 2G5.
2 S. P. For. Ellz. Stevenson. 1500-61, 100.
» S. P. Scot. Eli:. Thorpe, 1.5t;H>-89, xv : 34.
* S. P. Bom. Eliz. Lemon, Ix : 24.


the Justices of Hereford, stating that he would send on his
men towards Sir George Bowes at Barnard Castle with all dili-
gence ; adding that, having been much wearied by marching
with their armor on through the heavy ways, they were unwill-
ing to trudge thus more than hve or six miles a day. Doubtless
his troops were around him as he wrote, waking the echoes of
the old manor-house and repairing the fatigue of their last
march with the best that Bryne could manage for them.

We have no record of what became of Bryne. But about four
and a half years before his time would have expired, we find
Archbishop Grindal — who had succeeded after the short term
by which Thomas Young had followed Heath — leasing the same
property, on Jan. 3, 1574, for the same period and with like

Online LibraryHenry Martyn DexterThe England and Holland of the Pilgrims → online text (page 23 of 65)