(DHI2) ^ 00M(^M'^ SOW!
This Edition, numbered and signed by the Artist, is limited to
three hundred and eighty copies, of which three hundred and
fifty are for sale, and thirty are for presentation.
^ f *
This is No.^^.
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, LTD.
I'RINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY
EYRE & SPOTTISWOODE, I,TD., HIS MAJESTY'S PRINTERS, DOWNS PARK ROAD, LONDON, E.8.
MANY HAPPY DAYS
The proper and logical way of composing a
picture-book is for the author first to tell his
story in the text, and for the artist afterwards
to illustrate what the writer's brams and pen
have developed and described.
In this book I am forced to put the cart
before the horse.
The pictures must tell the story, in the first
place, and the text be but an accessory — a film
reel with captions added by the producer !
No deep antiquarian or architectural know-
ledge must therefore be expected, but fust a fe\^
facts and impressions gathered during weeks,
and sometimes months, spent in the atmosphere
of these old houses, and in many cases jotted
down as notes on the fnargin of sketches.
I present, then, in text and picture, my sketch-
book of old houses.
OM© ^ mMW^M'^ EjCDIDf I
A Manor is a
verv old insti-
tution, older than
Book of 1086,
the first book to
include the various Manors in England, it being
a register " to determine the right in the tenure
©E© ^ 00mn)m'^^ iscdbi
The Manor house was the house built on
these estates, recorded in Domesday, in which the
lord of the Manor lived ; and in many cases
that Manor house remains to-day, architecturally,
at any rate, very much in the same state as it
was in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth
From these houses I have selected but a few,
not because there was a dearth of subject, but
because, as I stayed at each, I found such an
enormous mass of material for the making of
pictures, and so much that I hope will interest
the reader, that it was impossible to include
more than six of them in a book the size of
which had already been fixed.
These Manors in Domesday were, in the first
instance, either given to the original " lord of
the Manor " direct from the King, or were
leased to the dweller in the Manor house by a
superior overlord, who had a superfluity of
Manors granted to him from his sovereign. It
was then either the original Manor lord or his
tenant, so to speak, who had to pay fee in
fighting men, labour, or possibly, in a fixed rental.
(D)Effl) ^ mj^m^m'^ M^smmm
In the early days the lord of the Manor, or
the tenant, was a Httle king among the villagers
or "villeins" on his estate. Each "villein" or
smallholder under him had to pay fees in
labour and in other ways, and could be called
up before the lord of the Manor's court, the
Court Baron, for any offence or misdemeanour,
even to the extent of suffering capital punishment.
The "villein" had to pay death duties to the
Manor lord, sometimes having to give up his
best beast, horses, cattle, or swine, as heriot
or death duty.
Besides these death duties, fines and taxes
must be paid to the Manor. As an instance :
if a "villein's" daughter entered the marriage
state, one shilling for each offence ; and if he
himself married a widow, he was fined
the enormous sum of twenty shillings. The
merry widow had a lot to contend with !
All of these sums went direct into the pocket
of the lord of the Manor, instead of, as now,
to the State.
Moreover, the " villein " was in reality a species
of serf or slave. He could not leave his land,
and had to take the oath of fealty to the lord
of the Manor.
In Domesday it states that there were four
classes below the lord of the Manor — the
"villeins" who had thirty acres j a "semi-villein"
of fifteen acres ; a cottar or cobman of five
acres ; and the farthingdole man of a quarter
of an acre.
In the fourteenth century, villeinage we are
told, numbered two-thirds of the population, but
in the sixteenth century the greater part of the
villagers were free men, or soke men. These
latter could, if they wished, give up their land
without permission from their lord, and could
no^ be forced to work for him.
Among the retainers at the Manor houses
were such offices as : —
The Ale-Taster, " to see that good whole-
some beer was brewed of the requisite strength
(DE® ^ 00M(n)M'^ 1^(0)1111
The Dairymaid, who should be " of good
repute and keep herself clean."
The Ploughman, who is described in an old
manuscript as " a man of intelligence."
The Reeve, the best husbandman elected bv
*' villeins," and who was responsible for the proper
cultivation of the land ; the BaililT, Hayward
Beadle, Cowherd, Swineherd, Waggoner,
Shepherd (who daily had a cup of newly
drawn whey for his dog). As the shepherd's
wife was " dey of the dairy " Rover no doubt
had his legal ration.
The first Manor houses were nothino; more
nor less than large barns or halls, with verv
possibly — besides a small entrance-hall known as
the domus — a solar chamber in the upper part
of the building for the owner's personal sleeping
©M® ^ 00M(n)m'^ a(D)i0i
and retiring room, and a bower or women's
room, with kitchen, buttery and stabling in
Having no glazed windows, but only long
slits closed with wooden shutters, it could not
have been very comfortable. The large hall,
open to the root, in which most of the retainers
lived and slept, had no fireplace, but simply a
large brazier or log fire towards one end, the
smoke from which found its way out either
through the interstices of the roof, or through
a specially built hole, called a louvre.
The remains of one or two of these original
houses are still to be seen, but except as anti-
quarian curiosities they do not quite come
within the scope of this book. Of those built
at a later period, in Plantagenet times, we have
many delightful Manors still with us.
-In the fourteenth century they show a ten-
dency to give more comfort to those who lived
in them and to develop definite architectural
I have taken as my first sketch one of these,
known as Stokesay Castle. It is in reality only
a fortified Manor house, but as it has the
original building of the thirteenth century and
its subsequent additions in Plantagenet and
Tudor times, since when it has been practically
untouched, it shows the whole development of
the Manor house.
'ns-mm0m'Yim.^-m^Yivm • ®s^
r I ^HE more an artist sees of these old
houses the more he or she reaUzes the
truth of y^rs lofiga vita brevis est.
The longest lifetime is much too short to study
them from roof to cellar, and only the few
lucky people who live in them are able to
partake of the pleasures of knowing them
Every time I arrive at my inn and settle
down for a few days' rambling over these old
places this wretched saying about art and life
will push its way into my thoughts. It buzzes
in my brain as I trudge at morning and even-
ing to and from my destination, and makes me feel
that I shall never be able to get done half what
(DH© ^ m]smn)m'^ i^oiof i
I am longing to do. At each fresh place I
visit, I want to stay there the rest of my life
painting pictures of it simply for the personal
pleasure it gives to me. You, I am afraid, reader,
do not come into the transaction at all ! Each
varying climatic effect brings to me fresh
characters who have lived and died through the
centuries during which these old walls have
Heaven forbid that I should ever be dragged
to see these places when the summer sight-
seers desecrate their glorious courtyards, halls,
and solar chambers ; alone — in the autumn,
winter or spring, and with a week of no
letters, telephones or messages before me — is
what I always try to arrange. I stay at
night at some quiet little roadside inn and live,
for one glorious week at any rate, steeped
in the atmosphere of my old house. In
such a frame of mind I arrived at Stokesay,
a house that alwavs seems to have a fresh
fascination, and where I can always find mv
old friends of previous visits, the Simon Pan-
tulfs, Fulk Fitzwarrens, and Wild Humphrey
of Kynaston — friends that I have conjured up
from the days ot my very hrst pilgrimage.
I can see Ambrosia de Dunstervil visiting
Syr Richard Ludlo the Clothier, or John at
Wood, the Constable of Bishops Castle in
1360, calling in at Stokesay for refreshment at
the close of a hunting expedition after the red or
'' roo " deer in the forest of Clun, before riding
home at the end of the day. As I stand on the
roof of the keep they appear black on the sky-
line as they top the hill before descending the
winding track which zig-zags down its side ;
old friends they seem to me, as they ride
around the moat, while Roger Curthose and
Eusebius Andrews let down the creaking draw-
bridge to admit them.
The Audelay, Botelers, Wild Humphrey, the
outlaw, Fitzalan of Hopton Castle and Clun,
and Vernon of the Red Hand, are they not all
my travelling companions ?
(DEE) ^ m'0mn)m ^^^ M^m^
On my last visit I lived at Stokesay for ten
consecutive days, getting there early in the
morning and returning to my inn at dark.
Not a soul disturbed me, or interfered with my
wanderings from gate-house to keep, keep to
solar chamber, great hall to priests' rooms or
buttery and kitchen.
It was in January and I had it entirely to
myself. On two days it snowed heavily, which
made me realize what living in these early Manor
houses really was like.
Rushing over a house of this description on
a warm summer's day, while your chauffeur
turns the car round, is all very well, but that
way you can never j^^iovo your house or its
Between Clun Castle, Corvedale, and Wenlock
Edge, solid and forbidding on the side towards
the Welsh hills, but more homely looking on the
timbered gate-house side which looks towards
Corvedalc, stands this home of some of my
friends. Now it wears on stone roofs and
timberwork that beautiful colour which can only
be procured by a contented and respected old age.
Moat^ and walled on three sides, or rather on
three-quarters of the oblong, for that is roughly
the shape inside the moat, it has stood here for
the last five or six centuries, almost as it stands
to-day, within twenty miles of Shrewsbury ;
still remaining untouched by the hand of
multi-millionaire or profiteer, untelephoned, un-
lighted and unbathroomed, but by no means
In 1066 the first part of Stokesay was built,
at any rate there are some foundation-stones
of that year that must still carry a portion of
the building, and at that date Stoh Castle,
as it was then called, belonged to one Edric
In 1086 the house was not identified in
©H® ^ mjmm^M'^ isowf
Domesda V , but mention
was made ot a mill and
a bee-monger at Stoke.
We are told its owner
was one Roger de
Lacv, but in 1 1 1 5 a
de Sai was the occupier although the de Lacy
family still owned it, a Picot de Sai, of Stoke,
havino; iouo;ht at the battle of Hastings.
It was about this time that the North
tower was built, and with an endeavour to give
you some preliminary idea of Stokesay, here
on my screen is my first picture of it. It will
save much reading of printed matter, giving as it
does a view on the lines of those Samuel Pepys
and John Evelyn were so fond of inspecting,
and without which, in the days of King
Charles II, no hne mansion was considered to
have arrived at the summit of its ambition.
The next important item in Stokesav's history
is the change of ownership in 124.0 from the
de Lacy family to that of the de Vernons ; but
later, when John de Vernon went to the
Crusades, he sold a life interest to a Philip de
OH® ^^ mi&n(n)m'^^ Bowi
Whichcote for the sum of ^2\^ which latter
tenant, one authority states, was the builder of
the great hall of this house, all of which happened
in or about i 240.
Forty-four years afterwards, in the reign of
Edward I, one of the de Vernon family sold
Stoke, lock, stock, and barrel, to one whom we
may class as a millionaire of the period, he having
made a fortune in cloth at the near-by town of
This millionaire gentleman, named Lawrence
de Ludlowe, however, was able to exist (although
he had been in business ! ) without telephones,
wireless and electric light installed in his house,
but perhaps it was only because he was forced
to by the century he lived in ; but he it was,
this Lawrence de Ludlowe the clothier, who
built the South tower, the third addition in
Very soon after he had purchased the pro-
perty he procured, in 1291, a licence to
embattle it, which seems rather unnecessary
as the Welsh were then supposed to have been
conquered. Having a wise, sound business brain
he looked ahead, and as subsequent history
shows, his caution was well advised.
With this tower of Lawrence de Ludlowe's
we have the main building complete. North
tower (1115), Great Hall (1240), South
Tower (1284), the complete house standing
almost exactly the same to-day as it was in
At one time a half-timber building stood
at the kitchen end of the hall, which to-day
has disappeared ; but from an old drawing of
this it was probably put up in late Plantagenet
or early Tudor times, possibly before the
There was also a well, roofed over, showing
in the courtyard, but there was then, as far as
we know, no fascinating little gate-house to
complete its charm ; only a walled and moated
courtyard with probably some stone gate-house
building, from which the drawbridge was
ia.?riy«&:5»^ '/ ; ::^-*is-a
OH© ^ 00sm)m^ 1^(0)100(90
Here the de Ludlow family settled down
as country squires, some becoming Knights
and Sheriffs of Shropshire (in 1379 "John
de Lodelowe, Kt., Lord of Hodnet and Stoke-
say," was Sheriff of Shropshire), leading a
peaceful and quiet country life, until in the
fifteenth century one Anne de Ludlow married
a Vernon of the original Stokesay de Vernon
Seventy-three years afterwards Stoke was again
sold by the Vernons, this time to Sir George
Mainwaring in 1570, in the days of Good
Queen Bess, and the gate-house, the last and
most delightful link in the chain of Stoke's story,
was built, thus entirely completing the picture
for us. The half-timber building previously
mentioned which once stood near the South ^ ^^^^
tower, probably used as a kitchen, has either aMl. '^'^j,
fallen or been pulled down, but I do not
think it is a very great loss. In any case,
it disappeared many years ago with sundry
more or less modern timber buildings which
once stood in the courtyard.
In 16 1 6, in the time of James I, the house
was in the hands of a Sir Thomas Baker, to
whom it was conveyed by family settlement
by the Mainwaring branch; and then in 1620
Dame Elizabeth Craven became owner, and
in Pepys' diary of 16 August 1661 we find
that he saw her son, Lord Craven, at the
opera with the Queen of Bohemia, to whom
he was supposed to be married. Here is the
real thing as Pepys wrote it when the Cravens
were the owners of Stokesay :
"I to the Opera and saw 'The Witts'
again which I like exceedingly. The Queen
of Bohemia was here, brought by my Lord
Ten years afterwards Lord Craven let Stoke
on a long lease to Sir Charles Baldwyn. During
the time it was occupied by Sir Samuel Baldwyn,
a descendant of Sir Charles, it was besieged
by Cromwell's troops, but luckily surrendered
before any damage was done to it.
OH® ^ mmm^n'^ isoin 0cg^
INGS ON THE NORTH
At the close of the Civil Wars the
battlements were ordered to be pulled down,
leaving the outer wall as it stands to-day,
which I cannot help tliinking, from a
picturesque, if not from an antiquarian point
of view, is a very great improvement to Stoke-
say, as these crenellated walls of the clothier's
stood some thirty feet high and must have
completely hidden the delightful roof line we
now get on approaching the house from the
The rather ignominious taking of Stoke by
the Cromwell ian forces is the only recorded
account of the fortifications possibly being of
any service — which, as I will tell later, they
were not in this case ; but there is very little
doubt that raids by outlaw Welsh constantly
occurred upon all these border houses for
many years after that country was finally
On the whole, considering its proximity to
Wales, Stokesay has had a very peaceful existence,
and the demolition of its high defence wall was
carried out in a very much more humane way
©E® ^ 00sm)M'^ '^(nmmm
A PEEPHOLE FROM THE SOLAR CHAMBER TO THE GREAT KALI.
than most of the Civil War demolitions, only
about fifteen feet from the top of the wall having
been pulled down. This may have been due
partly to the easy surrender, which happened at
the second challenge and before any actual fight-
ing had occurred, and partly to the influence of
Sir Samuel Baldwyn, who was apparently a man
of taste and culture, and one who no doubt
loved the old house he lived in and did all he
could to save it.
To this gentleman our thanks are due for the
carving and panelling of the solar chamber ; and
it is recorded by a Mr. Younge, " lying at Stoke
as he rod the circuit," that he saw " a book of
armes of the gentlemen of Shropshire finely
tricked out," as he describes it, which
Mr. Baldwyn was copying, which shows that
some of the Baldwyn family had artistic
One authority seems to think that to this
family of Baldwyns the timber additions on the
North tower are due ; but it is probable that
they are of a much earlier date. Certainly these
buildings are earlier timber work than the gate-
on© ^ ffi^ffilCD)®:^^ ^(D)IDf 0(90
liousc. Ot this gate-house and its actual builder
there are no authentic records, but froni its
timbering and general design it is Elizabethan,
and was probably built either by Sir George or
Sir Arthur Mainvvaring, as the carving over the
gate-house entrance is almost identical with that
over the entrance to the Council house at
Shrewsbury, and which is dated i 501.
In 1727 the Baldwyn family ceased to live at
Stokesay, and it has been uninhabited ever
Between that date and 1850 the great hall
was used as a barn for the adjoining farm ; but in
1869 Lord Craven sold the property to Mr,
|. D. Allcroft, in whose family it remains to-day.
To this latter gentleman the thanks of the
whole artistic and antiquarian world are due. It
was he who saved Stokesay from Victorian dese-
cration, for not only did he purchase the property
and save it from demolition or at any rate rapid
decay, but he thoroughly overhauled and repaired
it where necessary, at the same time leaving the
original building intact.
I do not think dragging the reader from room
to room in the pages of a book can be anything
but dull reading. No description, however
adequate and complete, can ever convey the charm
of the building itself ; besides this, many more
facile pens than mine have already described in
detail the gate-house, solar-room tower, and
great hall with its wooden shutters and unglazed
It is in my sketches that I must tell the
storv as far as I am able, for those who already
know Stokesay, as a happy memory ; and for
those who do not, I hope as an incentive to a
" Men can no more knowe weoman's
mynde by teares
Than by her shaddowe judge the
clothes she weares "
ONE of the many wise sayings with
which this house of carved legends,
Moreton Old Hall, is decorated.
We must remember, however, that a "weo-
man's " shadow was a very different shape in
Elizabethan days, when the rhyme was carved,
to what it is to-day. Then perhaps it might
have been difficult to judge from her shadow the
clothes " she weares."
Now, alas, her shadow often tells us ... .
which, my wife reminds me, has nothing what-
e^'er to do with old Manor houses !
I always feel that this legend should have been
written by the lord of the Manor of Shoyswell in
Sussex, who left to his wife in his will in 1580,
" the use and weringe of her weddinge ring
during her lief and free liberty to bake and brewe
in the bake-house and brewhouse for her
necessarie use, and to dry her clothes uppon
the hedges and bushes about his Manor of
Shoy swell." A gentleman who no doubt kept
his good lady in her proper place during his
As Stokesay includes three distinct periods
of architecture, so Moreton Old Hall is
confined to one ; and is about as unlike
the former in character and appearance as is
Here in Cheshire, we have that peaceful
domestic character very strongly developed,
which one generally associates with the name
of Manor house, instead of the grim and
heavy type as at Stokesay. Popularly called
Moreton Old Hall, its real name is Little
mmuon^ mm)^ mumm
Moreton Hall, its pedigree
going back as far as the
Conquest ; if only for that
reason, we may class it
as one of the aristocrats
among Manor houses.
Let us just glance at its story and the
history of the Moreton family, who built the
house and lived in it so long. The first record
is of one Gralam de Lostock who lived at
Moreton in the time of Henry III, and the
rather uncommon name of Gralam appears
constantly in the Moreton family pedigree
at subsequent dates. A Richard de Moreton
lived here in Edward II's reign, and his
(DH® ^ 003m)M'^ la(D)W0cg[j
descendants until 1449, at which time Sir
Richard de Moreton of Moreton is heard of
fighting in the Wars of the Roses.
Also, we have it on record that a William
Moreton lived here in Henry VII's reign, his
successor marrying a daughter of Sir Andrew
Brereton of Brereton, the gentleman who had
the celebrated law-suit with his neighbour, Thomas ^^^\C)
Rode of Rode, to decide whether Rode of Rode
or Brereton of Brereton " should sit highest in
churche and foremost goo in procession " ; which
important litigation cost both Rode of Rode and
Brereton of Brereton a very considerable sum of
money. All of which happened before the house
we see to-day was built.
In early Elizabethan times. Sir William
Moreton built our Little Moreton Hall, or
rather the first part of it :
mSMUOM * ©M® * MIBMM
and then as various members of the family
came into the property they each added
a room or wing until the house was finished,
forming as it did originally the complete
four sides of a quadrangle like Ightham
OHIO) ^ mrnmBM'^ xacDiiii
Mote House and similar buildings. Indeed the ^#r
process of development being very similar to that '^^
Mr. Richard Dale the " carpeder " (with the
cold in his head) has dated his window MDLXI
and various other people (including, I am sorry
to say, a gentleman from Lancashire who was at
Moreton in 1922) have recorded the dates of their
visit on the woodwork and glass of the building —
the staunch old Tory, Mr. Henry Mainwaringe,
scratching on one of the windows in 1627,
"All change I scorne."
m€m<^.€)U^ dPJH]®* MWMM
I wonder if he was a relation of our Sir
George Mainwaringe who bought Stokesay
in 1570 from the Vernons ? Little Margaret
Moreton dated her signature on August 3rd,
(DH© ^ 003W)m'^ B(Q)I00cg^
More and more Moretons lived at Moreton
Litde Hall until 1762, when the direct male
line terminated in a Recorder of the City
of London, Sir William Moreton, Knight,
who was followed
by his nephew, the
Taylor, of West
Dean in the County
of Sussex, who took
the name of More-
ton. His descen-
owners of the house
until the death of
Moreton, a few
years ago, when
the property was
left to the Right
Reverend C. D. Abraham, D.D., Lord Bishop
of Derby, the present owner.
That, roughly, is a sketch of its story.
Besides the dates recorded in carving and cut
on windows, we have many architectural land-
marks which give definite date to portions of the
building, but it is probable that the great hall and
buildings on the south side were built first— with
the gate-house portion—
and that the other parts
were added at a slightly
It has been definitely
settled by the *' com-
authority" that the
greater part of the house
was built about the
year 1540, all previous
references in its genea-
logical tree relating to
a building standing upon the same site.
Four miles from Moreton is the town of
Congleton, known to all north countrymen by
the rhyme :
Congleton rare, Congleton rare.
Sold their bible to pay for a bear,
which, I believe, refers to the Mayor and
Corporation — about the time Moreton Old Hall
was built — disposing of the town hall bible, or
rather, collecting money for a town hall bible,
and using it to buy a bear for baiting purposes
instead. A truly inexcusable thing to do.
But Congletonians have a very great admiration
and reverence for their old house of Moreton,
and this, notwithstanding the slur upon their
character of the unfortunate bear incident, at
once gave me a great liking for them.
Those I met at my inn were the descendants of
the "wisket makers, jersey combers, mugmen,
moldthrowers, towdressers, aledrapers and
galloon weavers, and broaches-makers," recorded
in the archives of Astbury Church in the Manor
of Moreton, trades which were carried on in the
village of Astbury and town of Congleton ; and
^ ©15 ^ (a(n)M(&'MBn€)n
all these gentlemen without exception to-day are
proud to have Moreton Old Hall to show the
visitors to their town.
One enthusiast — he was not a "towdresser,"
"galloon weaver," or "broaches-maker," but an
ordinary, or I might say extraordinary, butcher-
showed me an old book he had just purchased
for two guineas, because he had heard it
contained some reference to, and particulars of,
his beloved Moreton Old Hall.
Moreton is the Congletonians' "baby,"
and, like every other baby in existence, is
considered by its parents the finest that was
Although we must make allowances for the
ecstasies of parents and guardians, it is one of
the most beautiful old houses we have, of what
is usually known as the " Magpie " type, so
typical of Cheshire and Lancashire.
'The house itself is to-day but three sides of
a quadrangle, and is completely surrounded by
a moat ; but I do not think it ever had a
defensive drawbridge entrance. The old stone
bridge now spanning the moat is probably
OH® ^ mjssm)^'^ lacoiDfi
'■^■f ^v ■* ,**«W3»;
0^ y -^
BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF MORETOX OLD HAI,!..
mmsMuoM^ ©iHS)^ mmsm
the original one that was built with the
Once inside the courtyard, we expect to see
Queen Elizabeth and her courtiers, or perhaps
only one of the Moretons of that period, step
from under the window carved by " Richard
Dale, carpeder," the previously mentioned
gentleman with the cold ; but when failing to
meet an Elizabethan squire and his wife, we
meet or rather are shown over the house by the
wife of a Mr. Richard Dale, whose family at
present farm the adjoining land and have done so
for over a hundred years, we can only marvel
how small the world is, and that to-day a Dale,
possibly a descendant of our old friend the
" carpeder " of MDLXI, should be showing us
the window his ancestor carved.
When I taxed Mr. Dale himself with being a
descendant of his celebrated forebear in the
carving line, like our present-day politicians, he
did not commit himself to any definite statement.
"The guide-book says so," was all I could get
In my perspective view, the gate-house is seen
(DHffi) ^ 00M0m.'^ ISOlDri
THE ENTRANCE rORCII
in the foreground, with its wonderful, rather
top-heavy upper story. But I must mention
<nm^^n* mm)* ib^mb.
ENTRANCK TO SPIRAL STAIRCASE.
(DM© ^ rnHm^m-^ x^owscg^
the delightful little doorway giving entrance
from the courtyard to the spiral staircase which
takes you giddily to the long gallery. This
long gallery 1 have seen described as a picture
gallery, and also as a dancing hall ; the former is
perhaps the more ludicrous of the two, as there
is no single wall or yard of wall, with the excep-
tion of the small bay over the porch, above four
feet from the floor which has not a window in it,
the room (measuring in all twelve feet by sixty-six
feet) being almost one continuous window from
end to end. Whoever could turn this into a picture
gallery would be a very clever man indeed.
Nor do I think it was built primarily for dancing
— a long, narrow room (only twelve feet wide)
would be hardly the ideal one to show off the
stately dances of Elizabethan days. I think it is
quite apparent that it was built
for that popular Elizabethan game bowls, or skittles
— certainly not for pictures, and probably not for
dancing. It was just the skittle alley, built as
part of the house, which was so constantly done
in Elizabethan and Jacobean houses, the game
Samuel Pepys tells us he watched the King play
in St. James's Park.
At either end of this room are frescoed above
the window Moreton legends :
" The wheele of Fortune whose rule is
at one end, and opposite to it,
" The Spear
of Destiny whose ruler is
Both very good maxims to have facing you as
you play any game of skill.
At present there is very little of the original
furniture in the house. A fine spice chest in
the kitchen, an oak table or two, and a few
pewter plates with the Moreton crest is all
The great hall has at some period been greatly
misused. The minstrels' gallery has been built
up and the screen below it taken away, while
what has been left has been thickly coated with
lime white which has eaten deeply into the oak
and is almost impossible to eradicate. The open
fireplace has also been built up to form a modern
Under whose regime this was allowed to be
done I do not know. If a Moreton, it must
have been a very degenerate Moreton, and I
cannot think that it was in Miss Elizabeth
Moreton's ownership, as she was such a very
great lover of the old house. I am afraid it
must have been a case of the pearls once more,
and some tenant perpetrated it who did not
realize or appreciate the beauties of the old house
he was inhabiting. In any case, the lime whiting
of the whole of the upper part of this great hall
has completely spoilt the charm of it— in fact,
everywhere in the inhabited part of the house the
outside is the best.
If only Moreton was furnished as Ockwells
Manor ! which we shall come to presently.
m(mmm<n)n^ ©hs)* is0MU
What a house it must have been before it
was made into a Cheshire "Magpie," that is
to say, before the timbering was plastered over
with tar, which preservative has been lavishly
put all over it at least every fifty years during
A comparison of the building as it stands to-
day with Nash's careful drawing of it, in Mansions
of Old England^ published about 1840, shows very
clearly the encroachment of the British workman's
tar brush on the deUcate work on the outside of
the building. He could not even leave alone the
chimney-stack, in brick, near the entrance to the
gate-house, but must plaster it with black and white
stripes painted on the brick itself. I can only hope
that the Bishop of Derby did not use similar lan-
guage to mine when he came into the property
and found this desecration.
It is very sad to see a beautiful old house like
this* not occupied by a Moreton. I am not sure
that I would not rather see it kept empty, as
Stokesay is, than see some of its rooms, as they are
to-day, sprinkled with Tottenham Court Road
and Victorian furniture.
(DM® ^ ffiB^]:a^ia^'^ ia©i0!
Cannot some wealthy North Country man be
found who would appreciate and live in it, and
furnish it appropriately, allowing visitors to see it
on one day of the week as is done at Ightham
Mote House, making^ perhaps, a small charge to
help some charity or to pay for a guide?
It is one of those places where you would like
to pick the tenant yourself, but, unfortunately, the
one you would choose never has the wherewithal
to live in the house.
But what a fascination there is in making a
pilgrimage to see and study these old buildings.
First, the excitement of a fresh inn — not hotel,
mind you — but just a plain real inn, wondering
what your room and your landlord will be like ;
and then on the morrow your first glimpse — the
first impression — of the house you have come far
Or to go over, on the evening of your arrival,
and see it at sunset, which I think is perhaps the
best time of all to get a first view of it ; and then
to return to your inn, leaving exploration until the
morrow. Unfortunately, I never sleep that first
night if I do this.
mmmuon^ mm)^ is0Mm
Congleton will always have a soft spot in my
heart, although it is no beauty spot in itself, for
at Congleton my landlord was a well-known
amateur rider, and we forgathered on that and
other subjects we had in common. Moreover, at
Congleton I made a discovery.
(DH® ^ mMWBl^'^^ I^CDWl
For many years I have been trying to find
someone who can make models of my old inns and
houses, to enable me to have something like the
original always by me, not the roof-ruled stereo-
typed architect's model, but a model which gives
all the beautiful curves of roof line and leaning
€mm<n>n* mm^ mmbih
uprights — a thing that can only be done by an
enthusiast. Here, at Congleton, I found him
a young man who spends all his holidays visiting
these old places, and, moreover, one who has served
his apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker and is now
an art master.
When I mentioned my difficulty in finding a
maker of models, he jumped at the idea, and when
I discovered that his present vocation was a teacher
of wood-carving at a local technical school, 1
took him to my heart.
An enthusiast on old houses, a cabinet-maker
and wood-carver — what an ideal combination for
my model maker.
Before I left Congleton we had come to terms,
the preliminaries for models had been arranged,
and before this book is published I hope to have
models of all six houses among my most cherished
JMimsWMM ^ ®(n)®(B[
Zo tbe iprecious IWantc of
IDamc 2)orotb^ Sclb^.
Sbc was a SJorcas,
IClbose curious ncc&le turueC> tbe abuscC* staae
©f tbts lew5 \vorl5 into tbe ijolden age.
Mbose pen of steel an& silften ink cnroUe5
Xlbc acts of Jonab in recor&s of golD.
tabosc art Disclosed tbat plot, wbicb, ba5 it taken,
IRome ba5 triumpbe& auO Britain's walls ba^ sbaken.
3n beart a Xv&ia, anJ) in toncuie a Ibannab,
3n jeal a TRutb, in weDloch a Susannab,
pruDentli^ simple, prov>i&entiaUi? war?,
TLo tbe worlD a /iDartba anC» to 1lDcav>en a /lOarv?.
THIS is the house of the Selbys, the home
of Dame Dorothy Selby, the lady who is
described upon her tombstone in Ightham
churchyard as being a paragon of all the virtues,
and who is credited with having either sent the
anonymous letter to Lord Monteagle which gave
away the Gunpowder Plot, or who solved the
JMISMW^^ ^ ©OSCBI
problem of it by working it in needlework — an
art of which she was a great exponent.
Ightham Mote is inseparably connected with
the Selby family — as Moreton is with the
Moretons, and of this family Dame Dorothy,
whose epitaph is found at the head of this
chapter, stands alone.
Dame Dorothy Selby of the Mote — what a
delightful old lady she must have been 1
To-day Mr. Colyer Fergusson, the present
owner of the house, gives us permission to see
Dame Dorothy's home on any Friday afternoon
we may wish to do so. Surely our thanks are
due to him and his family for granting us this
concession — a favour which I do not think we
©H© ^ 00Mn)m'^ B®^i
Imagine a gentleman, shall we say, living at
Brixton, allowing the public to roam over his
villa or mansion from two to four o'clock every
Friday ; to penetrate to that sanctum sanctorum
his drawing-room — and even to walk in his
back garden and inspect his chicken-run. I only
wish that some of the summer visitors to these
houses, those who leave sandwich paper and other
impedimenta about, could and would place them-
selves in the position of these public-spirited
owners and imagine for one minute their own
domains being so invaded.
mjsmmmM * ©©sea
T fancy the Times would soon be full
of letters on the subject, and in a very
short time the local Member would be forced to
ask a question about it in the House.
The Mote House is what Victorian writers
would have described as being one of England's
" popular antiquities."
Every Friday in the summer people arrive in
cars, char-a-bancs, and on foot to see this glorious
old house, which has a public right of way running
down its front drive ; and every Friday afternoon
an attendant is kept busy showing visitors over it.
By the kindness of the owner I was allowed
to make my sketches at any time and to spend
many days there.
The popular and perhaps truthful impression
OM'B ^ 00Mn)m^^ lS€)IDf 1
is that an artist's life is a lazy one, and I certainly
have at these houses at least one day which would
verify this belief.
Most people think that to make a sketch all
you have to do is find a "pretty" subject — -sit
down on a camp-stool and splash your paint on
— just in the same way as the amateur photo-
grapher takes his photos before he has had time
to look at his subject. In reality, I am afraid
it is nothing of the sort.
Generally, on the first day I am taken by any
looker-on for the " village idiot," or a harmless
type of madman. As for that whole day I
wander about the building, peering at it from this
view and from that, and trying to settle from
which points of view my drawings shall be made.
All of which must sound, and I am sure looks.
IMM^WMm '^ ®(D)^(BI
very lazy way of spending one's time to people
who allow perhaps one hour at most " seeing " the
house, and in that time take half a dozen snapshots.
It always takes one complete day to explore
thoroughly and decide on these points of view.
On the second day, having fully settled these
weighty questions, I plunge at it at 9 a.m. and
stick to it as long as daylight lasts, A performer,
however, should never give away his tricks, or the
illusion evaporates. If I told you that for my
hird's-eye views I climbed a tree and made a
noise like an aeroplane, the trick would fail, and
I should have to give up drawing and take to some
other profession. I think an *'ale draper," or
"jersey comber," like the Congletonians— they
sound so easy.
Ightham Mote House is best approached down
the steep hill from Ivy Hatch, which is some
five miles from Sevenoaks.
Down this incline, after passing one or
two cottages on our left we get the first view of
Dame Dorothy's home.
This in itself is one of its most fascinating
views — looking over the top of the kitchen-garden
oM^ ^ mMwn)m^ sscDW^cg^
wall, above the yew hedge to the garden side to
the tower, and the front entrance of the Mote.
This is the view that " gets over," as they say in
the theatre — the view that holds even the motorist,
and makes him stop his car to look at it.
Unbelievable as it may seem, I have actually
seen a car noiselessly running down this incline
actually stopped by its owners, to look at the view !
We take our hat off to such motorists as we
always do to a sweep.
Why is it that coaching and driving men used
always to raise their hats to a
reason the Fownes family gave me was that it
was "for luck." I presume because horses were
apt to shy at a sweep.
1 remember whenever you passed a sweep on
the road the driver of the coach always saluted
him with his whip, giving him a cheery " good
morning, sweep," as he drove bv.
Even now, I always raise my hat instinctively
to a sweep if I pass one on the road when driving
my car — which lets the cat out of the bag, so to
speak, and shows that even a car-hater and a
horse-lover can fall so low as to own the former.
iKBMmnmm * ©©scsi
My only excuse is that it is a very, very old
car, and having driven it for many years I still
know nothing about its interior, nor can tell the
sparking-plug from the carburetter.
But let us get back to dear Dame Dorothy,
who would have disliked cars and everything to
do with them, for at present we have, not even
got up to the moat which surrounds her house,
and we are still standing looking over the kitchen-
As we walk round to its great entrance doors,
we will glance at the story of its inmates and the
history of its being.
The East or kitchen and great hall portion is
perhaps the oldest part, dating from what our
" competent architectural authority " once again
would tell us is of the Decorated period, i.e.,
between 1270 and 1380, during the reigns of
the three first Edwards and Richard II.
-, In this part of the building was the original
chapel (not where it stands to-day), the kitchens
and great hall, the walls -of which are in many
places four feet thick.
This portion was the whole extent of the first
(DE® ^ mjEm^M'^^ HJCDB !
house as built some time during this period,
between 1270 and 1380. At a slightly latei
date the gate-house tower was built by Edward
Haut in i486, to whom we shall refer later, and
after this, at various dates, and by various owners,
the side wings of the quadrangle were completed.
Ightham in its early youth was like Stokesay,
just a gate-house in one building, and great hall,
solar, kitchens, and chapel, etc., in another.
Later came the Tudor chapel, so delightfully
pictured by Nash in 1 84.0, and other half-timbered
portions during the sixteenth and seventeenth, and
even some windows during the eighteenth century.
Of its owners, Ivo de Haut seems to have
been the earliest recorded, for he lived here during
the reign of Henry II between i 154 and i 189,
and after him, in Henry Ill's reign, came Sir
Piers FitzHaut, who was also steward to that
king's household. The next recorded name is
that of Sir Thomas Cawne, in the reign of
Edward III, who is credited with being the
builder of the great hall.
Why this Sir Thomas Cawne comes in here in
the pedigree I cannot discover, for from 1374?
TmmmwBm ^ ®(D)^cb[
thirty-four years later, to 1450, the de Haut
family were again undoubtedly the owners — two
de Hauts being High Sheriffs of Kent, Henry
de Haut in 1371 and Richard de Haut from
1478 to 1482, the latter being unfortunately
beheaded at Pontefract in 1484, and the estate
confiscated by the Crown.
Rather ominously, perhaps, we find the next
owner to be Sir Robert Brackenbury, Governor
of the Tower, who was killed the next year at
In Henry VII's reign the property was once
more restored by the Crown to the Haut family,
and Edward Haut, the builder of the gate-house
tower, became the owner.
In 1 5 2 I , a Sir Richard Clement bought the
Mote House from the Hauts, and built the present
chapel. Then Sir John, and later Sir Hugh
Packenham, owned it from 1532 to 1544, when
a,^ Lord Mayor of London, Sir Hugh Allen,
became owner by purchase. Sir Christopher and
Charles Allen followed him from 1559 to 1580,
while Elizabeth was on the throne, and it was
not until i 5 9 i that the Selby family came into
(DH© ^ ®^ini(D)® ^4^ la€)ID/0Cgj
possession of it through purchase by Sir
William Selby, Mayor of Berwick, who was
knighted by King James at Berwick in 1603.
After this, his nephew, another Sir William
Selby, came into the property in 1 6 1 1 , and now
we come, after long and somewhat heavy
reading, to the interesting part, for at this point
our heroine steps onto the stage in the shape of
Dame Dorothy Selby, the wife of this owner.
From then onwards, the house was tenanted by
Selbys from 1591 until 1889, when the present
owner, Mr. Colyer Fergusson, purchased the estate.
As we have now crossed the bridge over the
moat and arrived at the porch, we can see the
Selby crest in front of us, carved on the tower
above the entrance gates to the courtyard.
}l(BlSMJS0m -^ ®(D)SCH[
On the left-hand side of this porch is a long
slit in the wall, which was made to allow the
porter to hold parley with anyone outside,
without being seen or opening the gates. It is
rather a curious and ingenious contrivance ; below
is the plan of it, with the porter speaking to
someone outside on the moat bridge.
Having assured this porter that our intentions
are honest, the massive doors are swung open,
and we pass under the tower into the courtyard.
Facing us is the great hall, and on our left the
Henry VIII chapel ; all of which can be best
explained by a plan of the building and the bird's-
eye view of the house, given on the preceding page.
There seems very little doubt that, the original
main entrance to the Mote House was through an
(DM© ^ ©BOacD)® ^4e B<n)TDIl
archway directly opposite this courtyard entrance,
anti where the Jacobean stables now stand,
and that the present entrance gateway and drive
are of more or less modern date.
M ^^ ®(D)SCB[
The house is built, like so many of these old
houses, in a hollow, probably on account of the
Ightham is certainly well supplied with water,
as numerous springs on the surrounding high
ground supply its lakes and moat. It takes much
water, however, to percolate through four feet of
solid masonry, which is the thickness of most of
the walls at Ightham, and a surrounding moat
without, with such walls as these, makes very little
difference to the comforts of the house within.
In the courtyard, the old solar chamber faces
us on the left as we enter, and its beautiful barge
boards are a great feature of the house, but as this
book is not a guide book, I must leave you to the
attendant, who will show you over its rooms and
chapel, and from whom you will probably get
much more information than I can attempt to
provide for you.
When you have seen the interior, we will rest
in the sun by the south lake, and see the
delightful view of the timbered south side of the
house, with the stables in the distance. Which all
sounds rather like an Oxford College guide when
OEffl) ^ ^^OacD)® ^ I^(O)TD/0(H^
he hands you over, temporarily, to the guide
belonging to another college.
I shall never forget once spending a day in a
celebrated school classroom during hoUday time,
and hearing the official college guide make the
same little joke, and go through the same
wonderful exhibition of rhetoric, with each
successive group of sightseers.
One can understand that the description of a
place and its history becomes mechanical, but
unfortunately for me, the two jokes, which always
got their laugh, always came at the same moment,
and were invariably led up to by one of the crowd
asking the obvious question at the appointed time.
After he had brought round about six or seven
" parties," with the same, for me, tedious result,
I thought that he must have had an accomplice in
the crowd to lead up to his joke, but on carefully
studying each face as the successive groups arrived
into the classroom, I could never see the same
one twice or recognize one that I had seen in the
What a glorious profession for a humorist. To
know that at a given moment some total stranger
JMJSMWMm ^ ®(D)S(B[
will give you your cue to bring off your pet joke,
and to know that it is infallible, and that twenty
times a day you will be able to laugh with your
audience at it.
Now let us look at the letter Dame Dorothy
deciphered or wrote, warning Lord Monteagle of
the Gunpowder Plot, and about which a Mr.
Thomas Selby, who was a descendant of the
Northumberland Selbys in the female line, writes
in the "Gentleman's Magazine" of 1863 :—
" There is an old tradition that it was Dame
Dorothy Selby who discovered the meaning of
the anonymous letter, and a report, less well-
founded, adds that she discovered it by working
it on a piece of tapestry .
" I cannot vouch for this latter report, but the
following facts are beyond dispute.
" My great-great-grandmother Dorothy, the
daughter of Sir Henry Selby, Kt., second son of
George, cousin of Sir William Selby, the husband
of Dame Dorothy, handed down the tradition to
her children, and as such it was stated to me by
my grandmother, the late Mrs. Selby of the Mote,
who died in 1845, aged 90."
m>.v(ord out: ofl^C-'^'K' '"^'"■'^^^io/cmCOfjjoue^A^J.
Jsrood and tm»7ia lijf <:m2c,urreciTo p imifiir^^f>^>4sfdv£s.
Y iiiixr}'tiiCanilliix^W noIfCiofitCpt'ofiffis-'zdinO^fmeyir
imp(^rp^r6r Vihf^j^tfoy ^^/"jy^/^^^'^'^rt^re
% nmpi'ioj'Oinnodandcan ^^^^ W/K'^^''^
And here is a reproduction of a portion of the
actual letter, which either Dame Dorothy wrote,
or at any rate deciphered, one authority stating
that it was done while she was staying at
Gayhurst in Bucks : —
Letter ok Warning to Lord Monteagle.
" To the %t^ght-Honorable the L.ord CMonteagle.
" My Lord,
" Out of the love I bear you to some of your
friends I have a care of your preservation therefore
I would advise you as you tender your life to
devise some excuse to shift of your attendance at
this parliament for God and man have concurred
to punish the wickedness of this time and think
not slightlv of this advertizement, but retire
imjsmJB^m * ©©sec^
yourself into youre country where you may expect
the event to . . . for though there be no fire yet
appearance of any fire yet I say they shall receive
a terrible blow this parliament and yet they shall
not see who hurts them. This counsel is not to
be contemned because it may do you good and
can do you no harm for the danger is passed as
soon as you have burnt the letter and I hope
God will give you the grace to make good use
of it. To whose Holy protection I commend
I think with Mr. Selby that she was much
more likely to have written it, for as far as I can
see there is very little difficulty, if the copies I
have been able to see of the original letter are
correct, for anyone to decipher the manuscript.
Moreover there is somehow a female touch
The little matter of the word " you " being
corrected and almost erased in the first line, and
"to some of your fiiends " added, rather bears
this out, the printed letters being obviously used
to hide identity by handwriting. I should like,
however, to see the word " My " in Dame
(DH® ^ 00M(^M'^ 'M(mn^^i
Dorothy's ordinary handwriting, as the writer of
the letter had not got his or her hand in, so to
speak, and the first "M" and "y" are evidently
in the usual hand of the writer.
Then there is no doubt that in the original
the lettering was done by someone who was
accustomed either to drawing or sewing, and
this was more likely to have been a woman than
The type of the black-letter printing is
well drawn, if I may say so, for there is no
shakiness or uncertainty about it, after the first
two words, and the size of the lettering varies very
slighdy ; also although on an unruled surface the
level is kept exceedingly well. All of which
points to a hand used to using the needle, pen
Referring back to our dates, we see that Dame
Dorothy's husband did not come into the Mote
House property until the decease of his uncle
in 1 6 1 1 .
So that the little picture I had intended to do
of our heroine wriring the letter at the Mote
House must be abandoned, as, whether she wrote
jmisMW^m ^ ®(D)S(Bt
the debated letter to Lord Monteagle or whether
she did not, the fact of dates clearly shows us that
it was not done while she was the chatelaine of the
Mote House itself, and rather adds conviction to
the authority who states that it was done while
staying at Gayhurst in Bucks.
I fear conjecture, however, makes rather
uninteresting reading, and we know that
epitaphs are sometimes apt to flatter on the
^e mortuis nil nisi bonnm principle ; yet the
fact of this epitaph clearly making reference
to her pen and needlework and the great
plot, and also the circumstantial evidence of
the MS. of the letter itself— the carefully drawn
lettering and neatness of the text— all rather point
to the character of Dame Dorothy, who we are
told was a Dorcas.
" Prudently simple, providentially wary," one
who could wield the " pen of steel " or " silken
ink " with particular skill.
From the days of my early youth. Dame
Dorothy has always been my heroine of the
letter, and to me she shall always remain its
mM<Bmu0s ^ ©(BDncaoffiBcai
IT has always been a matter of debate with me
as to whether definite descriptions of the archi-
tectural beauties of these houses — descriptions
in detail given in the full-blooded architectural
language so necessary to describe them — would
not have been more interesting and instructive
than these notes which I have appended to my
That you would have preferred to read that
" lights have quarter-round and fillet moulding
filled in with hollow-moulded cinquefoil tracery,
the three upper foils being broken with ogee
counter-cusps," and so on.
I am quite sure you would, but, unfortunately,
I can only draw you the windows and cannot
describe them. A " galloon weaver can never
be made into a wisket maker," as they say at
Congleton, and the only thing for you to do
is to skip the author even if you should glance
at his sketch-book.
Like many other writers, however, he will still
mm'BmM'M's •* ©^noos
meander tediously on, more interested in the fact
that one Anthonie Stapley, of Hickstead Manor
in Sussex, diaried that his cure for the " hooping
cough," in 1670, was to "get three field
mice flaw them draw them and roast one
of them and let the party afflicted eat it ; dry
the other two in the oven until they crumble
to a powder and put a little of this powder in
what the patient drinks at night and in the
morning," than in going deeply into the stories
of cinquefoil traceries or ogee counter-cusps.
Quite seriously, however, I cannot think of
these old houses as just bricks and mortar, they
are much more alive to me than that, these
friends with whom I have so often dwelt, and
whose every stone has an interest.
They have distinct characters — human char-
acters as well as architectural, sometimes suggested
by their history and occupants, at others by their
situation and surroundings.
'Ginghams Melcombe, for some unaccountable
reason, I always think of as the very old person
of my collection, although as a matter of fact she
is not so old as some of the others.
(DEiD) ^ miEmmm^^ isi^mmm
It is not exactly her looks nor her
architecture, but I think it can be best
described by that one word— atmosphere.
Yet it is an atmosphere of rest and quiet rather
than decrepit old age, a feeling when once you
are within the gate-house of absolute peacefulness.
There are not many people, other than Wessex
folk, who can tell you where Binghams Melcombe
is to be found on the map, and there are fewer,
even including Dorset people, who can direct
you to it.
In the centre of Dorset, buried among the
hills, ten miles from any town or station, it is
one of the most inaccessible places in England.
I motored there from Dorchester, the last mile
of the drive being down a narrow by-lane not
wide enough for two cars to pass, and at the end
of this lane I suddenly came to the eagle-topped
gates of the house, which give entrance to the drive
running parallel with the avenue, which probably
was the main entrance in Henry VIII's days.
Here to-dav hves the widow of Mr. Bosworth
Smith, who had been scholar, author, and old
Harrow master, and who bought the property
3Birini(Sfi5gi®'0 ^ ©(aECTo^sa
from the Binghams some years ago, living here
until his death.
And what a home to retire to after a strenuous
life ! What a place in which to study bird life
and habits !
Oriel and Raised Dais
©M® ^ ^Sl3ni(D)ia^'^ l^OID/l
old Harrovians will remember Mr. Bos worth
Smith and his wonderful knowledge of birds, and
would have been able to imagine their old master
revelling in the quiet of Binghams Melcombe,
dreaming ot the past, and continuing his study
of the feathered friends he knew and loved so
Once again, as will be seen by the plan, we
start with a gate-house. When through this
we hnd ourselves in a most delightful courtyard
surrounded on three of its sides, with stone build-
ings and a small terrace in front of the house,
which is literally smothered with hydrangeas
which have flourished here tor many centuries.
Unlike some ot our other houses, few additions
were made to this Manor house of Melcombe by
■mn^js^ism's ^ m^(nomB^
the Binghams, who lived here from Edward I's
reign to the time of its purchase a few years ago,
and whose crest, in yellow stone, is carved above
the hall oriel.
This old lady of my book, has just dreamed
her centuries awav, with no exciting incidents of
architectural fashion or otherwise to mar her
Perhaps she is a typical Dorset old lady, and is
similar in her architectural features to other
Wessex houses, such as Waterson, Mapperton,
and Anderson, but she has one outstanding
feature, owned by none of the others — a most
wonderful yew hedge bordering the bowling-
green in her garden.
This hedge measures some eighteen feet deep
by fourteen feet high ; it will carry a man seated
on its top — a favourite coign of vantage, I hear, of
the younger generation who have dwelt at the
house — and it extends the whole length of the
Of the history of the house's owners, very little
is necessary. It is just the history of a county
family, the Binghams, with occasional very
OMID ^ mMWBM'^ lS(D)W0cgi
mildly exciting incidents. That it is the house
of the Binghams, and always has been, is all that
need be said.
In an inventory the goods and chattels of one
Robarte Bingham, the squire in 1 5 6 1 , were
valued at but two hundred odd pounds, including
every piece of furniture the house then contained,
a not very large sum for the contents of a house
of this size.
Unfortunately, all the woodwork in the interior
has been painted white — including the very fine
Elizabethan carved mantelpieces. From my
personal point of view, this completely spoils the
charm of its interior to-day, and gives an
atmosphere of modernity to its delightful panelling
which is out of keeping with the rest of the
It is the one falling away from her disregard
of fishion's changes that my old lady has been
guilty of in some four or five hundred years.
Here at Binghams Melcombe, one has only
to read the late owner's fascinating book on
bird-life and bird-lore to realize the peacefulness
of it all, a home in which to study and
dream of the past, with no excitement from
the outside world.
Occasionally in the winter, the South Dorset
hounds may draw the hills and woods at the
back of the house, when a few hunting people will
come in to tea before motoring or hacking
home ; or perhaps once a week a motor run
to Blandford or Dorchester, over ten miles
away, but the rest of the time is just one
quiet rest, where an interview with the
gardener, or a visit to the adjoining Rectory
are the chief happenings of the day, and the
arrival of the post and the daily paper the
events of the evening.
A perfect setting for old age, from which, in
the end, to make the great farewell.
" Here's to the hound with his nose upon the ground.
And here's to the scent that we follow.'"
BRAMSHILL HOUSE will always be
known to Berkshire and Hampshire
people as the home of Sir John Cope.
The Sir John Cope who, from 1817 to 1850,
hunted, at his own expense, three-quarters of
Berkshire and a large portion of some of the
Here we have a totally different quietness
to that of the house in the preceding chapter
yet Bramshill House is quiet.
If not in reality, certainly in imagination we
can hear the bay of the hound and the sound of
the horn. The surrounding country, the house,
the stables and kennels are full of it, as different
from our last picture as youth is from age.
Situated near the celebrated Hartford Bridge
flats — the galloping ground of the coaches in the
old days — the house rather reminds one in the
1. Entrance Hall.
2. Great Hall.
4. Dining Room.
5. Living Room.
7. Terrace Alcove,
8. Living Room.
distance of Hampton Court Palace, or, at any
rate, of a section of it.
A great house in the midst of wild heathland and
■fir woods, where, had it not been for our sporting
J owner Sir John Cope, Wolsey or Queen Elizabeth
t^-[ would have been more appropriate central figures.
Built in the shape of two T's placed end to
end ( I Q, the actual building covers a very
large amount of ground, and the first thing you
are told by the local yokels is that it has three
hundred and sixty-five windows, which I under-
stand from the present owner is incorrect ; that,
however, is the popular tradition, and there is
also another erroneous one that it houses the
celebrated "Mistletoe Bough" chest.
The Manor of Bramshill is a very ancient one,
and is mentioned in Domesday, when it was held
by one Hugh de Port.
In Domesday Book it was known as
Bromeselle, and not Bramzle as it is now pro-
nounced in Hampshire.
©n® ^ ®BHni(D)® ^^ H^cDw^cgj
In 1275 John St. John of Basing (his grand-
father, Hugh de Port, having taken St. John as the
family name) was in possession of the Manor, and
in 1346 it passed by marriage to the Foxley's
family, the male line having failed upon the death
of Edmund St. John in that year.
In 1347 Thomas Foxley held a licence to
enclose 2,500 acres and made the park, he also
holding the appointment of Constable of Windsor
Then followed at Bramshill Sir John Foxley,
M.P. for Hampshire, and in 1436 the estate
passed by marriage to Sir Thomas Uvedale of
Wickham in Hampshire.
In 1474 it was sold to a Berkshire family of
the name of Rogers, and in 1499 this family
" conveyed " it to Lord Daubeney, who was
chamberlain to Henry VII,
It then went through some vicissitudes of /^
temporary mortgage, and in Henry VIIFs time ^ '
Henry second Lord Daubeney was created
Earl of Bridgewater. At his death it was
escheated to the Crown, and in 1547 granted
to WilHam Paulet Lord St. John, afterwards
made Marquis of Winchester ; thus giving the
Manor back once more to the same family who
owned it at the time of its first mention in
On the 20th October, 1600, the fourth
Marquis of Winchester sold the Manor and park
to Sir Stephen Thornhurst, and from him it was
once more sold to Edward Lord Zouch, who
in 1605 started building the house we see to-day.
In 1 6 2 I the Archbishop of Canterbury had an
unfortunate accident while shooting deer in the
park, killing a keeper with his crossbow, and
to-day we are shown, not far from the house,
'' Keeper's Oak," where, tradition says, the
unfortunate man was killed — an incident which
caused much trouble subsequently to the clumsy
Li 1625 Lord Zouch died, and it is his statue
which is seen high up on the building over what was
originally intended to be the principal entrance.
The house was then bequeathed to Sir Edward
on® ^ mi^mBm'^ b®wi
Zouch, who was Marshal of the King's House-
hold, and in 1639 his widow selling it to the Earl
of Antrim, who married the Duchess of Bucking-
ham whose former husband was assassinated on
23 August 1628, and was the mother of the
notorious Buckingham of Pepys's day. It is
probable, therefore, that this latter Duke of
Buckingham was many times at Bramshill.
Then in 1640 Lord Antrim sold the estate
to Sir Robert Henley, who died in 16S1,
leaving the property ^^2 0,000 in debt. Sir
Arthur Henley, his brother, made things worse,
killed a man and had to fly the country, and then
the Cope family in 1699 purchased it, and it still
remains in their possession.
Sir John Cope, son of the sixth Baronet, was
the actual purchaser, giving jTz 1,500 for it.
Besides the statue of Lord Zouch on the build-
ing, we find " E. Z. 16 12," the date the house
was finished, on many of the stack-pipes, and
on the Renaissance front, over the porch, is
carved the Prince of Wales's feathers, which also
appear on firebacks and the drawing-room ceiling,
inside the house.
It is surmised that the house was intended tor the
Prince of Wales when originally built, but as he died
in 1 6 1 2 he was never able to take possession of it.
In 1845 Queen Victoria visited the house and
commented upon the Prince of Wales's feathers
over the porch.
One of the great features of Bramshill is its
terrace on the south-east side, looking out over
the Park and garden, upon which the game of
Troco was played. To-day, the gardens extend
only on the right side, but there is no doubt that
originally they spread in front of the whole of
tjiis south-east portion.
At each end of the terrace, which measures
194 feet, we find sheltered porches which contain
the original oak seats as they were erected in 1 6 1 2 .
(DlHffl) ^ ^SeSlCD)®-^ IS}(D)WS
1..- m ai It IWW '
* "'J J?-—
One of the great charms of Bramshill is its
interior, with its wonderhil hirniture and pictures,
and here we find something which is different
from many of these old manor houses.
At Bramshill nothing has been bought except
during the period in which it was made, nothing
has been added in the way of "old furniture.''
Here we find seventeenth-century cushions, chair
backs and needlework, together with furniture and
ornaments which have stood in the house smce
the day of their creation ; everything taking its
place as part of a complete whole.
At some houses one finds more wonderhil
individual pieces, finer cabinets and suits of armour,
but at very few do you find, as here, no-
thing that has stood under any other roof, through
nnn-m^imMM * im)\B0(B.
the centuries the house has had its being. Every-
thing is Bramshill, everything is part of Bramshill.
I spent many days there, but my task was
hopeless. It is not one small section of a volume,
but six large tomes which could possibly begin
to do the house justice, but those few days gave
to me infinite enjoyment, at the same time leaving
me with a feeling of utter failure.
I did two drawings, but I wanted to do twenty !
To be able to see my Zouchs, Antrims, Bucking-
hams, and Copes in their long gallery and great
hall, and to feel them around me as I worked in
rooms which in every panel, chair, and cabinet
brought them so vividly before me. The hunting
squire. Sir John Cope, who lived in the north-
east side only, in the early part of the nineteenth
century, hunting through the winter, six days out
of t-he seven, with a country surrounding his house
almost as wild as some parts of Devonshire and
Cornwall. The great brazier, possibly lit on
dark winter evenings to guide him home,
OH© ^ ©^inioia-^-^ 7^(mni
-t-^ '^*stL, \i ^^^^.-^Tf^'^T^^ -f^ '\ »J^
which still can be seen above the roof balustrade,
near Lord Zouch's statue.
BramshiU's owner must have lived a very
strenuous life in the winter in those days. To hunt
six days a week is no small undertaking, but to
master a hunt whose country then covered land
over which three or four packs of hounds
call their country to-day was surely no light task ;
hacking to the meet perhaps twenty miles away,
with no luxurious car to run you home again at
the end of the day.
Bramshill has had possibly many more distin-
guished owners, at any rate owners more
celebrated, but to Berkshire people Sir John Cope
will always remain its Deus ex machi?ia.
The home of the jolly hunting Squire who
knew and called all the men on his estate by their
christian names, and where the port probably went
nightly its full round of bottles, and the twang of
the horn and bay of the hound was heard at
daybreak. This is what we inseparably connect
nnnrnmimMM * jm>ns<n.
with Bramshill, whether it be for a hunt after fox
with Sir John Cope's hounds, or the chase of the
hart or buck or a bevy of roes in earlier times.
Imagine, if you do not already know it, a great
Elizabethan house set high on a hill in the middle
of a big area of wild commons and pine woods.
A mile away runs the main road at right angles
to the house, which is approached by a perfectly
straight, but undulating, drive and avenue, every
visitor who travels it being in full view of the
house for the whole of its distance. Behind the
house, right up to the postern entrance, are
great gnarled and twisted beeches and oaks, the
wild heathland growing up to the garden wall
Coming from Eversley, this postern entrance
side it is the unexpectedness of Bramshill that is
so fascinating. Who would imagine that alter
tramping some miles of pinewood and heath you
would suddenly emerge to find an enormous
Elizabethan mansion within a few hundred yards
of you, looking at you, so to speak, over the
top of the old garden wall, a wall sheltering
its peacocks and rose gardens. On the
terrace beyond, we might expect to see ladies as
Hollar, Lely, and Van Dyck depicted them, and
men as John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys must
have seen them ; the age of silks, satins, and
velvets ; the age when the human male outvied
the female in the brilliant colouring ot his plumage.
^>% Cw^, o
That is the side from which I first approached
Bramshill, and where I spent many days with
occasional visits from a youthful descendant of
Sir John Cope's, who kept up a continuous flow
of ingenuous and critical conversation just behind
me as she watched the progress of my work.
In half an hour I knew more about herself,
her school, her elder brother and sister, her
aunts, Bramshill House, and the countryside in
general than I could have discovered for myself
in iive years, besides a thousand and one other
interesting facts on life in general, and school
in particular. Then I discovered that my
young friend was an authoress, a story of hers
having won a competition in " The Young
Ladies' Forget-me-not Magazine " I think it was,
and had actually been in print, the remuneration for
her literary effort being a large box of chocolates.
I was also told that " As soon as it was
finished I wrote and told the Editor that the
box was empty, and he sent me another."
OH© ^ mj^wBrni'^ acDTDf 1
If my charming and candid critic will only
write to me, I will send her a dozen.
One day I stayed rather late in order to
sketch a sunset.
"You're very late to-night," said my young
friend as I prepared to pack up the implements
of my trade, "won't your wife be cross if you're
late for dinner ? "
" Now, how do you know that 1 am a
married man ? " I queried. (We had never
been formally introduced, or met before our
Very seriously came the reply : " I always
know a married man, he has so many wrinkles
on his forehead."
" Out of the mouths of babes " has the brand
of the Benedict at last been discovered.
When we were children we always
used to save the piece of bread
with the biggest lump of jam
upon it until the last ; Ockwells
is this tit-bit that I have been
saving until the end, at the
same time it is the manor house
which fills me with more envy, hatred, and
all uncharitableness than any other.
Whenever I go to Ockwells I long for the
good old prehistoric days, when if you
wanted a thing you just picked out your
heaviest and most knotted club, and went out
and— got it.
I long to club Sir Edward Barry, F.S.A., the
owner of Ockwells, and afterwards to walk in
and take possession of his home and everything
that is his ; just pure unadulterated envy with
After all, why shouldn't I ? As the children
say, "I found it first." I knew the house before
he did, at any rate before he bought it, nearly
©niD ^^ ®Hia(D)® '^^ i^€mmm
thirty years ago. I went and sketched it then,
when it was a rather ruinous farm-house, and I
have sketched it to-day.
No wonder I get " peeved," now that it is
in the hands of an owner who has treated it as
few owners would have had the knowledge to
do, who has restored it in so perfect a way, and
created a most glorious flower from the withered
shell, while keeping the perfume of the original
blossom hanging over it. No wonder I envy
this owner and all that is his.
Ockwells, near Bray, in Berkshire, is not a
large house like Bramshill, and has no imposing
front which can be seen from the high-road.
It is in fact very difficult to find, but when once
you have found it, and obtained the necessary
permission to see over it, you realize what a
perfect specimen of a smaller manor house it is,
and you at once understand my prehistoric
dDdlSffi (310130* MB
tendencies towards the owner ; surely in order to
become the possessor of even one of his
EHzabethan bedsteads, or a single suit of his
wonderful armour, it would tempt any right-
minded man to feel the same.
In truth, the owner must be an artist as
well as being a distinguished antiquarian,
which do not necessarily run together, for
the colour of his house fascinates him as
much as the antiquity of the o^j'ets cVart he has
within it. He must also have a great feeling for
At times a painter feels that certain objects
in the picture seem out of tone with the
^rroundings ; but at Ockwells nothing either
inside or outside the house ever strikes vou in this
way. You never feel that a suit of armour stands
out too prominently in the room, or an old hanging
flag in the great hall has too much light upon it.
©EID ^ ®Blffiia)ja^^ 1^(0)1000,
0(0111® (3IHE0^i* M^mSi
Everything in the house is in tone, and is in its
right place, and every piece of furniture takes its
correct tone value in the whole.
True it is not quite in the same way as at
Bramshill, where everything, so to speak, has
been bred in the house, for when I first
knew Ockwells the only antiquities it contained
were a pair of Cromwell's boots (then lost), the
refectory table (unmovable), and a malformed pair
of antlers, all of which are now in Sir Edward
Barry's house. Moreover, it had very little of
the priceless old heraldic glass in its great hall
that is there to-day, as, fortunately, this had been
removed some time before to a place of safety at
As we have done with our other manor houses,
so we will continue with Ockwells, and take a
glance at its history and the people who have
(DM© ^ 00mn)mi'^ nsoiDri
lived in it, while from time to time I will show
you, to the best of my ability, in my pictures
what the house looks like to-day.
The manor of Ockholt or Ockwells was
granted in 1267 to one Richard de Norreys,
who was a member of the family of Lancashire
Norreys living at Speke Hall in that county.
Somewhere about one hundred years later
it was left to John Norreys, a son of Sir Henry
Norreys of Speke. He was the founder of
the Berkshire branch of the Norreys family, and
between 1446 and 1456 a grandson of his, also
called John, built Ockwells manor house.
This John Norreys must have been a great
favourite at Court, if we may judge by the number
of official positions he held at various times, being
Usher to the Chamber in Henry VI's reign and
also Squire of the Body and Master of the
Wardrobe, all very important Court offices.
In 1442 he was SherifF of Oxfordshire, and
of Berkshire in 1457, Edward IV making him
Squire of the Body and afterwards knighting him.
His son John succeeded him in 1467, and he
also became, in due time, Sheriff of both counties.
After this, the history of Ockwells seems to be
more or less obscure, and the manor constantly
changed hands, eventually degenerating into a
farm-house, from which state Sir Edward Barry
The story of its stained glass, which contains
the coats-of-arms of many well-known people
of Plantagenet times, helps us a little with
Ockwells' history and is contained in the eighteen
jjpper windows of the great hall. With the help
of Mr. Everard Green (Rouge Dragon, and late
vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries), who
has deciphered these windows for the owner, we
will read the story they tell us.
©Hffi) ^ mHm^M'^ 3S(D)Wi
In the farthest window from the entrance we
have the coat-of-arms of Sir Henry Beauchamp,
Knight of the Garter, Sixth Earl of Warwick, who
in 1444 was created "first and chief" Earl of
England, with the special privilege of wearing a
golden circlet, and among other things, was Lord
of the Forest of Dean, and Hereditary Pantler
to the King's Household. He was also crowned
King of the Isle of Wight by Henry VI. He
died, aged twenty-two only, in 1446, and his
little daughter. Lady Ann Beauchamp, aged
five, followed him in 1448, being buried in the
Benedictine Abbey of Reading — another of life's
In the next window we have the armorial
bearings of Sir Edmund Beaufort, K.G., who
was Constable of the Tower in 1450, and was
killed, fighting on the Lancastrian side, at the
battle of St. Albans in 1455.
Then the arms of Margaret of Anjou, wife of
Henry VI, in the fourth window those of
Sir John de la Pole, K.G., and in the fifth those
of Henry VI.
After this comes Sir James Butler's coat-of-arms :
he was knighted in 1426 and was afterwards
created Earl of Wiltshire. His second wife was
Eleanor, daughter of Edward Beaufort, Duke of
Somerset, and of Eleanor, daughter of Richard
Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.
In the seventh window is the crest of the
Benedictine Abbey of Abingdon, and in the eighth
the coat-of-arms of Richard Beauchamp, Bishop
of Salisbury from 1450 to 148 i.
In the ninth the coat-of-arms of Sir John
Norreys, the builder of the house, whose crest, in
correct heraldic language, is a "raven rising
The tenth window has the arms of Sir John
Wenlock, who was Usher to Queen Margaret of
Anjou, mentioned and left a legacy in Sir John
Norreys's will ; and the eleventh window contams
the coat-of-arms of Sir William Lacon, of Stow,
in Kent, who was buried at Bray m 1475, his
wife being a Miss Syperwast of Clewer near Bray
The twelfth has the arms of Roger Mortimer,
Earl of March, and great-grandfather of Edward IV
and Richard III.
Sir Edward Nanfan's coat-of-arms, the Sir
Edward who lived at that beautiful house,
Birtsmorton Court, in Worcestershire, appears in
the thirteenth window ; and in the fourteenth the
same arms and crest, but the impalement is
The fifteenth has the arms of Sir John Lang-
fort, Kt., who married a daughter of Sir
William Norreys of Bray, grand-daughter of Sir
John Norreys of Ockwells and Yattendon,
w In the sixteenth window the arms and crest
are probably those of the De la Beche family at
Aldworth, Berks, where there is a farm-house
still known as De la Beche. The families of De
la Beche and Langford were related. Sir Philip
OHIO) ^ 00M(n)m^ y^(mnmm
de la Beche s only daughter marrying Sir John
Langtord, The Langford family owned
Aldvvorth until the early part of the sixteenth
The seventeenth window contains the arms of
John Purye of Chamberhouse in the parish of
Thatcham, Berks. He was bodyservant to
Lastly, in the eighteenth window we have
the arms of Richard Balstrode of Upton, Bucks,
who was Keeper of the Wardrobe to Queen
Margaret of Anjou, a son of William Balstrode
who married Agnes, daughter of William Norreys
From this list it can be seen that, as was usual
in houses in Plantagenet and Tudor times, the
coats-of-arms of the owner, his King and Queen,
friends and relations, were emblazoned on the
windows of his house.
Besides all the coats
ot-arms of his friends
Sir John Norreys had his
own motto, " Feythfully serve,
on every window.
When the present owner of Ockwells bought
the property he had the glass brought from Tap-
low, where it had been kept for safety, and replaced
piece by piece in its original great hall windows,
the wonderful brilliancy of its colouring, together
with the extraordinary artistic value of its blacks
and blues, making it a feature which is not to be
found in any other house.
The present approach to the house is more or
less modern, the entrance gates now being on a
comparatively new road. There is, however, very
little doubt that the original entrance was from
the old Windsor and Maidenhead Thicket road,
OH® ^^ 00Sm)^'^' laOTDf i
traces of which can still be seen across the
You made your entrance then under the gate-
house, which we still see, and as we always prefer
the old ways to the new, let us enter under this
gate-house which faces the new entrance. Here
we have our first view of the house, with its
beautifully-toned roof, carved barge-boards, and
Certain additions have been made, but they are
so good and in such perfect keeping with the
original old portions, that no one but the most
confirmed " purist '^ could object to them.
At one time, no doubt, there was a complete,
possibly loopholed, wall surrounding the house,
and traces of this have been found when getting
out foundations for other walls, but it was never
a moated manor house.
The charm of Ockwells is its air of restraint ;
there is nothing, may we say, theatrical about it,
nothing of the strong black-and-white, such as we
have at Moreton, for here everything is quiet and
in tone. A beauty that grows upon you every
second you look at it, and the longer you look
the more fascinated you become with it.
Before we enter the house I will tell you a
story, which, unlike Dame Selby's, has not been
handed down from generation to generation but
at the same time is a true one.
The owner of a certain old manor house and
his family were one day at luncheon, when they
saw a large and heavily-laden car glide by their
open window and pull up at the front door. No
visitor, however, rang the bell, and after some
minutes they could see from their window the
occupants of the car preparing for an elaborate
picnic on their lawn opposite the front door.
oM® ^ mMwn)mi'^ jscdtdt 0ch^
Having a sense of humour the owner did not
interfere but awaited developments. Seating
themsehes on the grass the motorists thoroughly
enjoyed a large Fortnum and Mason hampered
meal. In due time cigarettes and cigars were
lighted and presently a rather raucous voice was
heard to exclaim, " Say, but we've forgotten the
old house ! " — at the same time its owner strode up
to the front porch and gave a loud bang on the
knocker and ringing of the bell.
A message was presently brought to the amused
owner that a Mr. of had come to see
over the old house.
History says that the owner's sense of humour
did not go so far as to allow them to do so,
but a very, very polite message was sent,
" the owner regretting that his house was not
open on that day," etc., etc.
After some grumbling the car occupants
departed, leaving, as a memento of their visit,
a considerable amount of corks, paper, and one
broken glass on the lawn.
On the right of the porch is the great hall
with its massively timbered roof running the full
height of the house, and under the windows the
original refectory table, which, without cutting
in pieces, it is impossible to get out of the
Opposite the windows we have a fine open
hearth where five-foot logs are always burnt, logs
which take two men to carry each one. At the
east end is the Minstrels' Gallery, reached by a
small staircase in the passage outside.
As to Ockwells itself, far abler pens than mine
must describe it. The architectural beauty, and
the treasures it contains are beyond the scope
and capabilities of this already too bulky note-
book, the pages of which are only intended to
give the reader a few notes which I am afraid
can be but poor imitations ot the beautiful
Such as they are, however, I have placed
them before you in the hope that they may be
the initiative for a pilgrimage.
When that pilgrimage is undertaken may the
pleasure afforded to myself when visiting these
Manor Houses be equally yours, and I shall
feel that my sketch-book has not been in vain.
UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBH
D 000 018 f