Thomas Pennant.

The journey from Chester to London online

. (page 10 of 34)
Online LibraryThomas PennantThe journey from Chester to London → online text (page 10 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

owned it till the year 1419, or seventh of Hen-
ry V., when Sir Baldwyn Frevile dying childless,
Thomas Ferrers, second son of William Lord
Ferrers, of Groby, became master of it, in right
of Elizabeth his wife, eldest of the three sisters

Ferrers, of Sir Baldxvyn. The Ferrers held it till the be-
ginning of the present century; when it passed
into the family of the Comptons, by the marriage
of James Earl of Northampton with Elizabeth,
sister to Robert Lord Tamworth, grandson and
heir apparent to Robert Earl Ferrers, who had
obtained it by his marriage, in 1688, with Anne,
daughter of Sir Humphrey Ferrers, of this place.
Lady Charlotte Compion, sole surviving daughter
of the match, Baroness de Ferrers, in right of her
mother, married the present Lord Townshend,
whose son, now Lord Tie Ferrers, enjoys the
place. I must not forget to add, that Sir John
Baldwyn, Knight, on the coronation of Richard


II. clamed the honor of being the king's champion,
by virtue of tenure of this castle (a service per-
formed by his predecessors the Marmions) ; but
it being found that the Marmions held their right
only from the tenure of Scrivelsby manor, it was
challenged by Sir John Dymock, the then owner,
and adjudged to him q .

Till the present century the castle was the Castle.
seat of its lords. The rooms are numerous, but
inconvenient and irregular, except a dining-room
and drawing-room ; each with large projecting
windows. Around the first are painted great
numbers of coats of arms of the family of the
Ferrers, and its alliances. The chimney-piece of
the drawing-room is richly carved, in the old
taste, and beneath the arms is the motto, Only

The beauty of the situation of Tamworth is
seen from the castle to great advantage, varied
with rich meadows, two bridges over the Tame
and the Ankor, and the rivers wandering pictu-
resquely along the country. Michael Drayton,
born on the banks of the last, most elegantly paints
out his love-complaints, and celebrates the last in
the sweetest strain.

* Dugdak's Warwicksh. ii. If 34%


Clear Ankor, on whose silver-sanded shore

My soul-shrin'd saint, my fair idea lies :

A blessed brook, whose milk-white swans adore

Thy crystal stream refined by her eyes;

Where sweet myrrh-breathing zephyr in the spring

Gently distils his nectar-dropping showers ;

Where nightingales in Arden sit and sing

Amongst the dainty dew-impearled flowers.

Say thus, fair brook, when thou shalt see thy queen :

Lo, here thy shepherd spent his wand'ring days,

And in these shades, dear nymph, he oft has been,

And here to thee he sacrific'd his tears.

Fair Arden, thou my Tempe art alone ;

And thou, sweet Ankor, art my Helicon.

Town. The town is large and well-built; part is

situated in Staffordshire, and part in Warwick-
shire ; for which Teason its members are returned
by the sheriffs of both counties r . It first sent re-
presentatives in the fifth year of Queen Elizabeth :
and was made a corporation two years before ;
which consists of two bailiffs, a recorder, and
twenty-four capital burgesses. The right of voting
is in the inhabitants paying scot and lot.

Church. The church is large, built at different times.
Near the chancel are two great round arches, with
zigzag moldings, which were prior to the reign of
Henry III. when this species of arch fell into

* Willis Notitia Pari. iii. 51.


disuse. Here are numbers of monuments, some
antient, of the Freviles and Ferrers, with their
figures, and those of their wives. Here is also a
handsome monument of John Ferrers, Esquire,
who died in 1680, aged 59,; and of his son Sir
Humphry Ferrers, knight, who died in 1678,
aged 25. Their figures are represented in marble,
as large as life, in a Roman dress, long flowing
hair, and half-kneeling. Sir Humphry was the
last male heir of his line.

The church is dedicated to St. Editha, daugh-
ter to king Edgar ; who, preferring the cloistered
life to the troubles of a throne, received after death
the honor of saintship. It has been said, that she
founded here a nunnery, and that Robert Mar-
mion, lord of this place, received from her very
sensible marks of resentment, for daring to remove
the holy sisters. St. Editha descended from
heaven, and, while Marmion was lying down,
after a costly feast, in Tamworth castle, she ad-
monished him to restore them to their rights, and,
by way of memorandum, gave him such a blow
with her crosier on his side, that he rose in ex-
treme torment ; which instantly ceased on repent-
ance and restitution s . It is probable that this very

* Dugdak's Baron, i. 375.


Marmion made the church collegiate, and placed
here a dean and six prebendaries, each of whom
had his substitute, or vicar ; for it is the opinion
of Leland, this foundation arose from the piety of
one of the name*. The idle legend might have
been formed from some real offence", which might
have been expiated in the manner usual in old

Saint Editha had also an image here. After
the dissolution, the seven incumbents had pen-
sions, as late as 1553 x . Queen Elizabeth granted
the college, and all its prebends, to Edward
Dozoiing and Peter Ashton. At present, this
great church is only a curacy.
Hospital. In 1286, the fifteenth of Edward I. Philip
Marmion dedicated here an hospital to St. James,
intending to found a house of Premonstrensians ;
but, till he could execute his design, granted it to
William of Combe?y-hall, with all its appurten-
ances, and pasture in Ashjield for four oxen and

1 Itin.'w. 121.

As it is very doubtful whether there had been any
nunnery here, the offence might be the expulsion of the nuns
from Polesworth convent, dedicated to Saint Editha ; which
were restored by Robert Marmion and his wife. Stevens, 1 25 1 .
Tanner, 566.

* Willis, ii. 218.


two horses, on condition that it should celebrate
mass for his soul y . There is now an hospital
founded for more useful purposes, by Mr. Guy.

From Tamworth I returned to Lichfield, and
resumed my journey along the London road.

About two miles from the city, see on the left Swinfen.
Swinfen, the seat of a gentleman of the same name;
happy in its beautiful demesne, ornamented with
an extent of water, meads, and hanging- woods.
This place was once the property of the Sper-
mores ; but in the time of Henry VI. by marriage
of Joyce, daughter and heiress of the family, with
William Sxvinfen, it came into that name. The
executors of the last of that line, a Doctor Sxvin-
fen, sold it, in the present century, to Mr. Sxvinfen,
of London ; in whose family it continues.

A little farther, the great Wat ling-street
crosses the road near Weford 3 or the ford on the
way. This is seated on Blackbrook, a small
stream, now furnished with a bridge. The stream
runs through a beautiful tract of narrow but rich
meadows, prettily bounded by low and fertile
risings. This spot had been the scene of much
civil rage. A Purefoy was here slain by Sir
Henry Willoughby, in the cause of Edward IV. ;
and Sir Henry in the same place fought, and was

y Tamer, 502.


desperately Mounded by, Lord Visit 7 '. JVeford
Common a , a black heath, succeeds ; and a little
Canwell. beyond, on the left, stood Camvell priory, founded
about the year 1142, by Geva, widow of Jeffry
Riddel, and daughter of Hugh Earl of Chester,
for Benedictine monks. It had ten pounds a year
in spiritualities, and fifteen pounds ten shillings
and three-pence in temporalities. It became at
length a cell for a solitary monk ; was suppressed,
and granted by Henry VIII. to Cardinal IVolsey,
towards the endowment of his two colleges b .
Near this place I entered


in the parish of Middleton ; from which the JVil-
loughbies take their title. The road is over part
of the common of Sutton Colfield, which is finely
bounded on the left by a long-continued range of
woods. " There is a common report (which pass-
" eth for currant amongst the vulgar) that the great
" heape of stones, which lyeth near the road way
" from Litchfeild towards Coleshill, upon Bassets
" heath, called the Bishops Stones, and those other

z Leland Itin. iv. 120. Probably one of the neighboring
L'Isles of Moxhull.

a Now inclosed, and in a state of excellent cultivation, as
is the common of Sutton Colfield, mentioned below. Ed.

b Tanner, 497.


" lesser heapes, which lye in the valley below ; were
" at first laid there in memorie of a bishop and his
" retinue, who were long since rob'd and killed,
" as they were travailing upon that way : but this
" is a meere fabulous storye : for upon an inquisi-
" tion made in King James his time, concerning
" the extent of common upon that heath, betwixt
" Weeford and Sutton ; there was an old woman,
" called old Bess of Blackbrooke, being then above
" an hundred yeares of age, who deposed (inter
" alia) that the Bishop of Exeter (of whom men-
" tion is made in pag: 667. of this booke) living
" then at Moore Hall : taking notice how trouble-
" some such a number of pibble stones as then
" lay in the roade thereabouts, were to all passen-
" gers, caused them to be pickt up, and thus
" layd upon heapes c ."

A few miles farther, I passed Moxhull hall, Moxhull.
the neat-dressed seat of Mr. Hacket, a descendant
of the worthy bishop of that name ; whose son, by
marriage with Mary, eldest daughter of John
Ulsle, became owner of it, after it had been in
the L'lsles, or tie Insula, for some hundreds
of years' 1 . On the right is the parish-church,

c The note above written is in Sir William Dugdale's own
hand, in a copy of his Warwickshire, in Lord Stamford's library
at Envil.

d Dugdale, Warwichh. ii. 936".


Curdworth. Wishaw, and a little farther, that of Curdworth.
That manor was possessed, in the time of the
Conqueror, by Turchil de Wanoik, son of Alwine,
a potent Saxon in the time of Edward the Con-
fessor. Turchil is recorded to have been the first
in England who, in imitation of the Normans, took
a surname, stiling himself Turchil de Ear dine',
or Arden, from his residence in that part of the
country then called Arden, or the forest ; a word,
according to Camden f , by which both Britons and
Gauls expressed a woodland tract. He was an-
cestor to the antient and respectable family which
flourished under the same name till the year 1643,
when it was lost in the male line by the death of
Robert Arden.

About half a mile from Curdworth, I crossed
the Tame at Curdworth Bridge *, and a mile far-
ther the Cole. The view from hence, of the stream
watering a range of rich meadows, bounded on one
side by hanging-woods, is extremely agreeable ; as

Coleshill. i Sj a little further, the town of Coleshill, covering
the steep ascent of a lofty brow, on whose top ap-
pears the handsome church and elegant spire.
The place had been long a royal demesne ; was
possessed by Edward the Confessor, and after-

e Dugdale Wanvicksh. ii. 925. f i. 606.

s Near Curdworth the road crosses the Birmingham and
Fazeley canal. Ed.


wards by the Conqueror. It fell, either in his
reign or that of William Ritfus, into the hands of
the Clintons, in whom it continued till the year
1353, the twenty-seventh of Edxvard III ; when it
passed to Sir John de Mountfort, by virtue of his
marriage with Joan, daughter of Sir John Clin-
ton*. The Mountforts held it till the reign of
Henry VII. when, by the cruel attainder and ex-
ecution of Sir Simon Mountfort, for sending thirty
pounds, by his younger son Henry, to Perkin
IVarbeck, on supposition that Perkin Avas the
real son of his former master Edxvard IV., this
brought ruin on himself and family. He was tried
at Guildhall in 1494, and condemned to be drawn
through the city, and hanged and quartered at
Tyburn \ His manor of Coleshill was immediately
bestowed on Simon Digby, deputy-constable of
the castle, who brought the unfortunate gentleman
to the bar. He was a younger son of the house
of Tilton, of Leicestershire, ancestor of the Lord
Digby, the present worthy possessor.

In the upper part of the town is a small place,
neatly built. The church-yard commands a line
view of a rich country. The vicarage was for-
merly belonging to Markgate, in Bedfordshire,
but is now in the gift of its lord. The spire, lofty

h Dugdale Warwicksh. ii. 925.

1 Dugdale Warxvicksh. ii. 1012. Digby Pedigree, viii, 15.


as it is, was fifteen feet higher, before it had been
struck with lightning in 1550; when the inhabit-
ants sold one of the bells towards the repairs.
Church. I n the church are numbers of fine tombs of the
Digbies, with their figures recumbent. Among
others, that of the above-mentioned Simon, and
his spouse Alice, who lie under a tomb erected
by himself. He died in 1519 : she survived him,
and left by her will a silver penny to every child
under the age of nine, whose parents were house-
keepers in this parish (beginning with those next
the church) on condition that, every day in the
year, after the sacring of the high mass, they
should kneel down at the altar and say five pater-
nosters, an ave, and a creed, for her soul, that of
her husband, and all Christian souls ; and the an-
nual sum of six shillings and eight pence to the
dean, for seeing the same duly performed, and
likewise for performing the same himself. At the
reformation this custom was changed. The inha-
bitants purchased from the crown the lands charged
with this money : part maintains a school : the rest
is distributed to such children who repair to the
church every morning at ten o'clock, and say the
Lord's prayer ; and the clerk has an allowance for
seeing the performance, and for ringing the bell to
summon them k .

k Dugdale Warwicksh. ij. 1013, 1014.


The figure of Simon Digby is in armour, with
lank hair, and bare-headed. His grandson John,
and his great grandson George, knighted at the
siege of Zutphen, are represented in the same
manner, with their wives. The first died in 1558 ;
the last in 1586. These are of alabaster, and

The tomb of Reginald, son of Simon, who died
in 1549, diners. His figure, and that of his wife,
are engraven on a flat slab of marble, with twelve
of their children at their feet.

On a pedestal, with an urn at the top, is an
inscription to Kildare Lord Digby, of Geashil, in
the kingdom of Ireland, who died in 1661 ; and
on the opposite side is another, in memory of his
lady, who died in 1692, drawn up by Bishop
Hough, forming a character uncommonly amiable
and exemplary ; the integrity of that worthy pre-
late giving sanction to every line.

I felt great pleasure in perusing an epitaph,
by a grateful mistress ', to the memory of a worthy
domestic, Mary Wheely ; whom she stiles an ex-
cellent servant and good friend; for what is a
faithful servant but an humble friend ?

Beneath two arches are two antient figures
of cross-legged knights, armed in mail, with short

1 Mrs. Charlotte Bridgman, with whom Mary Wheely lived
thirty-eight years : she died in 1747. Ed.



surtouts ; in all respects alike, only one has a dog,
the other a lion, at his feet. On their shields are
two fleurs de lis, which denote them to have been
some of the earlier Clintons ; and by Dugdale 1
it appears, that one was John de Clinton, lord of
this place, a strong adherent to the barons against
Henry III. who suffered a temporary forfeiture
of his estate ; but was restored to it by the famous
Dictum de Kenelworth. He became a favorite of
Edward I. and clamed for his manor of Coleshill
by prescription, "assize of bread and beer, gallows,
" piliorie, tumbril, a court-leet, infangthef, outfang-
"thef, mercate, faire, and free warren." He died
in the year 1291, the period of crusades, and is
buried cross-legged.

I observe, that the piety of the Catholics has
given the same attitude to several of the Sher-
borns, in the church of Mitton, in Yorkshire, who
were interred in the seventeenth century ; so that
I suspect it to have sometimes been considered
merely as a reverential sign of our Saviour's
suffering m .
Coleshill The deserted seat of the Digbies lies about a
mile or two from the town, in a fine park. The
house consists but of one story, besides garrets ;

1 Dugdale, &c. 1009.

m The circular font in Coleshill church merits notice; round
it are rude bas reliefs, representing the crucifixion, saints,
and ornamental mouldings. Ed.





yet the apartments are numerous, approachable
by ways strange and unintelligible to all that are
unacquainted with them, according to the stile of
old buildings.

From Coleshill I descended to pay a respectful
pilgrimage to Blithe Hall, the seat of the great
antiquary Sir William Dugdale; from whose in-
defatigable labors, his successors in the science
draw such endless helps. In respect to this
county, he has fairly extinguished all hope of dis-
covering any thing which has escaped his pene-
trating eye.

The house lies about a mile below Coleshill,
on the river Blithe ; was purchased by Sir Wil-
liam from Sir Walter Aston, and made his place
of residence. It at present belongs (by female
descent) to Richard Guest, Esquire ; whose po-
liteness to an inquisitive intruder I shall ever ac-
knowlege. He was so obliging as to show me an
excellent half-length of his ancestor, dressed in Portrait
black, with a bundle of manuscripts in his hand, William
painted at the age of sixty, by Peter Bosscler 11 , )uGDALE -
in 1665.

Another portrait of his wife, Margery, daugh-
ter of John Huntback, Esquire, of Sewal, in Staf-
fordshire ; a head of Lord Keeper Bridgeman,

" I imagine, the same with the person Mr. Walpole calls
Bustler, ii. 26.

N 2


a thin primitive face; another of Lord Clarendon;
Keeper anc * a third f Lord Keeper Littleton, with a jo-

LiTTLE-roif. y ' m \ p en countenance. As a judge (for he had
been chief justice of the common pleas) he was,
as Sir Edzvard Coke said, a well-poised and weighed
man . As lord keeper, dispirited, from the me-
lancholy apprehensions he had of the approaching
calamities of the times. For a while he tempo-
rized with the views of the opposition. At length,
finding the resolution of the leaders to seize on
the seals, and make use of them against his royal
master, he gave them up, to a messenger, ap-
pointed for that purpose, and followed them, at
the hazard of his life, to the king at York* ; where
he loyally resumed their use, till his death, at Ox-
ford, in 1645; when he at once performed the
functions of lord keeper, privy-counsellor, and
colonel of a redment of foot.

El !*1^ sh " A half-length of the famous Elias Ashmole,
whom Antony Wood stiles " the greatest virtuoso
" and curioso ever known or read of in England.
" Uxor solis took up its habitation in his breast,
c; and in his bosom the great God did abundantly
" store up the treasures of all sorts of wisdom and
" knowlege V It is well for poor Ashmole, that
the peevish historian, never read the wonderful

Lloyd, ii. 322. f Clarendon, ii. 474.

* Athcn. Oxon. ii. 289.



diary of his life, in which is a most minute and
filthy detail of all his ails and strange mishaps r ;
otherwise Antony never would have been so pro-
fuse of his praise. Yet, amidst his foibles, he was
an able botanist ; of most uncommon knowlege in
the study of antiquity and records ; a physician,
herald, chemist, and astrologer. On rectifying his
nativity, he found his birth to have been on the
23d of May 1617, about three in the morning,
or " 3 hours 25 minutes 49 seconds A. M. the
" quarter 8 of n ascending; but, upon Mr. Lil-
" lys rectification thereof, anno 1667, he makes
" the quarter 36 ascending '." This jargon should
not deprive him of his real merit. To him we
owe a most elaborate treatise on the institution
of the order of the Garter, he having been Windsor
herald ; various manuscripts respecting county an-
tiquities, still extant ; and, above all, the founda-
tion of the Museum at Oxford, which bears his
name, finished in 1682, on purpose to receive the
vast collection of curiosities bestowed by him on
that university, which he had defended in 1646,
as comptroller of the ordnance. Mr. Ashmok
was doubly engaged to the worthy owner of this
house : first, by the friendship resulting from the
congenial turn of their studies ; and again, by his

r Mr. Ashmok' s Life, 287. ' Mr. Ashmolcs Life.


alliance with Sir William, in his marriage with his
daughter Elizabeth ; which proved a source of
great generosity, on his part, towards his father-
in-law and his family. By his portrait, drawn by
Nave 1 , in 1664, in his herald's coat, he appears
to have been a good-looking man, with long hair ;
there is a view of Windsor in the back-ground.

Maxstokr From hence I visited Maxstoke castle, three


miles south-east; most of the way lies through
fields. The castle is very entire, and stands on
a plain, in a most sequestered spot, surrounded
with trees, and guarded by a moat. It is of a
square form : at each corner is an hexagonal
tower, and at the entrance a fine gateway, with a
tower of the same form with the rest on each side.
The gates are in their original state, covered with
plates of iron. Above, are the holes for pouring
hot sand, or melted lead, on assailants, and the
cavity which once held the portcullis. These
gates were made in the time of Humphry Stafford
Earl (afterwards Duke) of Buckingham. He fixed
on them his arms (still remaining) impaled with
. those o( his wife, Anne Nevil; supported by two
antelopesp derived from his mother, as one of the
daughters of Thomas Woodstock, Duke of Glou-
cester ; and added the burning nave, or knot, the

* Probably Neve.


cognizance of his own ancestors. Within the court
the walls are pierced with divers cells, the antient
casernes of the garrison.

Much of the habitable part is still standing,
but part was burnt by accident ; what remains is
the dwelling-house of Mr. Dilkes, in whose family
it has been for several generations. The great
vault ribbed with stone, the old chapel, and kit-
Ghen, still remain ; the noble old hall, and a great
dining-room with a most curious carved door and
chimney, are still in use.

After the Conquest, it was given to Turchil Owners
de Warwick; from one of his posterity it was
granted to the Limesies, lords of Long Ichinton
and Solihull ; from them to the O din gf ells ; and
from the Odingfells, by Ida, eldest daughter of
the last of the name, to the great family of the
Clintons before mentioned, who made it their chief
seat. In 1437, the sixteenth of Henry VI. Sir
William de Clinton exchanged it with Humphry
Earl of Buckingham, with whom it became a fa-
vorite residence. On the execution of his son
Henry Duke of Buckingham, in 1483, the first
of Richard III. it was seized by the king. Ri-
chard, on his march towards Nottingham, ordered
all the inner building's of Kcnelworth castle to be
removed here". After his defeat and death in

u Dugdale, ii. P95.


Botzcorth field, this place reverted to Edzvard,
son of the last duke; who fell a victim, in 1521,
to Henry VIII. a tyrant greater and more inex-
cusable, than him who destroyed the father. The
estates, again forfeited, were granted to Sir Wil-
liam Compton, a favorite, and gallant tilter, in the
reign of the former, and ancestor of the Earl of
Northampton. In 1 596, his great grandson, Wil-
liam Lord Compton, conveyed it to Lord Keeper
F.gerton, who, in two years after, sold it to Tho-
mas Dilke, Esquire, in whose family it remains.

I did not visit the neighboring priory of Max-
stoke ; so shall say no more of it, than that it
was founded in 1336, by Sir William de Clinton,
afterwards Earl of Huntingdon, and peopled with
canons regular of St. Augustin \

Returned through Coleshill, and at a small
Packing- distance, on the left of the road, digressed to Pack-
ington, the seat of the Earl of Aylcsford. The ma-
nor antiently belonged to the priory of Kenelworth,
being granted to it by Geo fry de Clinton, lord
chamberlain to Henry II. At the dissolution it
was sold for the sum of six hundred and twenty-
one pounds and one penny, to John Fisher, Esquire,
gentleman-pensioner to Henry VIII. and four suc-
ceeding monarchs. By the marriage of Mary,

Online LibraryThomas PennantThe journey from Chester to London → online text (page 10 of 34)