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Full text of "Old manor houses"





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(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. 



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This is No.^^. 

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LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN, LTD. 



I'RINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY 
EYRE & SPOTTISWOODE, I,TD., HIS MAJESTY'S PRINTERS, DOWNS PARK ROAD, LONDON, E.8. 



IN MEMORY 

OF 

MANY HAPPY DAYS 



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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 
the Domesday 
Book of 1086, 
the first book to 
include the various Manors in England, it being 
a register " to determine the right in the tenure 
ot estates." 



©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 
centuries. 

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 
and purity." 

6 



(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 
adjoining buildings. 

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 
features. 

I have taken as my first sketch one of these, 
known as Stokesay Castle. It is in reality only 

8 



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. 




mmm00.T^ (OMm^u 





'ns-mm0m'Yim.^-m^Yivm • ®s^ 



r I ^HE more an artist sees of these old 
houses the more he or she reaUzes the 



1 



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 
intimately. 

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 



lO 



(DH© ^ m]smn)m'^ i^oiof i 



!?-fipp(n«, 




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 
stood. 

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, 



II 



0nmm0nY^ (m^&sc 





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 ? 



12 



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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 
inhabitants. 

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 

13 



0UQimm:r* (U^mws^ 




-r-- 




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 
a ruin. 

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 
Sylvaticus. 

In 1086 the house was not identified in 



14 



©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 




15 



mr* (m 




i6 



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 
Ludlow. 

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 
Stokesay's history. 

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 



1IS40 







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17 



0noim.0nT^ oa^sinta 




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 
1284. 

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 
gate-house. 

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 
worked. 






(WBB'^M' 







urji'iKVfy-' ■.(L' 



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 
family. 

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 




19 



iumm.0nY^ (OM^mu 




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 
Craven." 

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. 



20 



OH® ^ mmm^n'^ isoin 0cg^ 




HALF-TIMBER BUILD- 
INGS ON THE NORTH 
TOWER, STOKESAY 
CASTLE. 



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 

21 



0mm<s.0MT^ (OHL^sjnta 




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 
south-east corner. 

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 
su't)dued. 

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. 



23 



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 
tendencies. 

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- 



24 



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. 




25 



[®®<a0^r* (OiBmnm 



In 1727 the Baldwyn family ceased to live at 
Stokesay, and it has been uninhabited ever 
since. 

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 
windows. 

26 



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 
pilgrimage. 




mms0U€)M*(s>]m)* mhmu 




" 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 

28 



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 

lifetime. 

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 

possible. 

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 




29 



mmuon^ mm)^ mumm 




nnm 




/ 



!f*k^ 



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 



30 



(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 : 




U^Q 




31 



mSMUOM * ©M® * MIBMM 



MOAT 




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 



32 



OHIO) ^ mrnmBM'^ xacDiiii 



Mote House and similar buildings. Indeed the ^#r 
process of development being very similar to that '^^ 
ot Ightham. 

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." 





33 



m€m<^.€)U^ dPJH]®* MWMM 



HS^I) 




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, 
1649. 




34 



(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 
Reverend Richard 
Taylor, of West 
Dean in the County 
of Sussex, who took 
the name of More- 
ton. His descen- 
dants continued 
owners of the house 
until the death of 
Miss Elizabeth 
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 





35 



(um^^n^mm)^ wssmu 



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 
later date. 

It has been definitely 
settled by the *' com- 
petent architectural 
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, 
36 




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 




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.^^s^ 



■:f^< 




^ ©15 ^ (a(n)M(&'MBn€)n 



37 




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 
ever made. 

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 

38 



OH® ^ mjssm)^'^ lacoiDfi 



^ 




'■^■f ^v ■* ,**«W3»; 



i.->*'v^'4'fe«^*^'^ 






0^ y -^ 




4 

t! 



%f^ 



BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF MORETOX OLD HAI,!.. 



39 



mmsMuoM^ ©iHS)^ mmsm 







the original one that was built with the 
present house. 

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 
from him. 

In my perspective view, the gate-house is seen 



40 



(DHffi) ^ 00M0m.'^ ISOlDri 




THE ENTRANCE rORCII 
TO COURTYARD. 



:^SS-^' 



in the foreground, with its wonderful, rather 
top-heavy upper story. But I must mention 



41 



<nm^^n* mm)* ib^mb. 




ENTRANCK TO SPIRAL STAIRCASE. 

42 



(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 




43 



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 
ignorance " 

at one end, and opposite to it, 



" The Spear 
knowledge." 



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 
that survives. 



44 



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 
kitchen range. 

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. 

45 




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 
its lifetime. 

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. 



46 



(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 
to see. 

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. 




47 



mmmuon^ mm)^ is0Mm 




^ 



J 



men 



^'■^K \ 



vy^ . 







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. 

48 



(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 




49 



€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 



possessions. 





.^%S^ 







5° 



JMimsWMM ^ ®(n)®(B[ 



.s^p^if- 




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 



51 



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 
always realize. 




■*-'^"i? 



52 



©H© ^ 00Mn)m'^ B®^i 



.1 




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. 

S3 



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 

54 



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. 



55 



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 

56 



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 



sweep 



Tk 



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. 



57 



iKBMmnmm * ©©scsi 



nt)T>® 




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- 
garden wall. 

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 

58 



(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? 

59 



IM'O) 




TmmmwBm ^ ®(D)^cb[ 



% ^j>. 





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 
Bosworth Field. 

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 

60 



(DH© ^ ®^ini(D)® ^4^ la€)ID/0Cgj 




--=*®^*p» 



Ti 



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. 



61 



}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 




62 



(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. 

63 



mw^' 



M ^^ ®(D)SCB[ 



The house is built, like so many of these old 
houses, in a hollow, probably on account of the 
water supply. 

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 

64 



0)A 



l^^P^ @CCD 



m^^^^'^ 



mi(mm'u 



^■>y.-W; 



:?«^:-7£i' 



it^sv.r- 




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 
room before. 

What a glorious profession for a humorist. To 
know that at a given moment some total stranger 

65 



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." 

66 



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'^^''^ 



tm 
■uf(of 






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 

67 



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 
you." 

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 
about it. 

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 

68 



(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 
a man. 

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 
or brush. 

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 

69 



jmisMW^m ^ ®(D)S(Bt 




'i^O 



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 
originator. 



70 



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 
sketches. 

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 

71 



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. 

72 



r-s^i^-^^^ 




(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 

73 



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 ! 



lO 



I. 


Terrace 


2. 


Great Kall 


3- 


Oriel and Raised Dais 


4- 


Library. 


5- 


Dining Room 


^l: 


Kitchens, etc. 


Servants' Hall 


8. 


Porter 


9- 


Courtyard 


lO. 


Bowling Green. 




74 



©M® ^ ^Sl3ni(D)ia^'^ l^OID/l 



/ 





-^—^^"^—nuihitJtii^W: 





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 
well. 

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 



75 



■mn^js^ism's ^ m^(nomB^ 




nS)'^® 







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 
peaceful existence. 

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 
I'jlwn. 

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 

76 



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 
house. 

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 




n^ss 



S(I)^D 




77 



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. 




78 



iBMUm^imMM ^ig^cDiDJ^cai 



.A. 






»»C?; 






" 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 
surrounding counties. 

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 




79 



^nummimMM ^i^oro^oi 








^■' ,^ 






'*/M 



i*-^^ 



^^g^^'gig*?^ 



^g^^^ 



1. Entrance Hall. 

2. Great Hall. 

3. St.urs. 

4. Dining Room. 

5. Living Room. 
6. 

7. Terrace Alcove, 

8. Living Room. 
9- 

10. Kitchens. 
13. Terr,\ce. 




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. 

80 



mi^M^^i^nHH rq}(D)aor( 



•^. 






©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 
Castle. 

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 




f IJlLi 




81 



n^B^mmjmMM ^mms^'U 



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 
Domesday. 

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 
Archbishop. 

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 

82 



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. 

83 



^MUmmmMM *ia®inf©(ai 







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 . 

84 



(DlHffl) ^ ^SeSlCD)®-^ IS}(D)WS 






vrrr 




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 

85 



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, 



86 



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 

87 



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. 



2Bi5)IHi®^i^nHm r^(Bm^(M, 



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 

and terrace. 

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. 

89 








^>% 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." 

9° 



OH© ^ mj^wBrni'^ acDTDf 1 




j^i^ 



^^\ ^^ 



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 
casual acquaintanceship.) 

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. 



9' 



(n)(aiiffi(H[iaH0* mMomSi 




£?55S5£J>r\ 



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 
murderous intent. 

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 



92 



©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 

93 



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 
tone values. 

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. 



94 



©EID ^ ®Blffiia)ja^^ 1^(0)1000, 




95 



0(0111® (3IHE0^i* M^mSi 




^^K 




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 
Taplow Court. 

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 

96 



i^caii^i^s 



ais}(S)i^ 



V 



i 




(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. 

97 




nnm 



(D&mmiBMMi 



-'^mr3 





D^^^ 



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 
rescued it. 

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. 

98 




©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 
tragedies. 

In the next window we have the armorial 




99 



(n)(cci®(aiaiH0* ^mnm 




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 





100 



(DH®^ ®^ia(D)3a^^ia®'t0i 




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 

proper." 

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 

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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 
different. 

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, 
Berks. 

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 



1 02 



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 
century. 

The seventeenth window contains the arms of 
John Purye of Chamberhouse in the parish of 
Thatcham, Berks. He was bodyservant to 
Henry IV. 

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 
of Ockwells. 

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. 



103 



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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, 



104 



CS)(a!^®(HIHM^ misM^^^ 









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traces of which can still be seen across the 

Ockwells estate. 

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 
stained-glass windows. 

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. 

105 



(UXWS: 



iMM©^ m^niam 





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. 




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oM® ^ mMwn)mi'^ jscdtdt 0ch^ 




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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 







107 



(n)(aiis®(H[i0ia©-^ mM'Swm. 





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 
room. 

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 

io8 



give the reader a few notes which I am afraid 
can be but poor imitations ot the beautiful 
originals. 

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. 




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UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBH 



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