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Title: The castles and abbeys of England; Vol. 2 of 2

Author: William Beattie

Illustrator: W. H. Bartlett

Joseph Clayton Bentley

Samuel Bradshaw

Edward Paxman Brandard

Charles Cousen

S. T. Davis

W. Deebles

W. Whimper

Arthur Willmore

Release date: November 21, 2020 [eBook #63832]
Most recently updated: December 5, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Chuck Greif and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
at (This file was produced from images
available at The Internet Archive)


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List of Illustrations
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Chepstow Castle.
Chepstow Castle, from the Iron Bridge across the Wye.—This View, looking towards the West, shows part of the Town, the Castle Gate, the Citadel, the Keep, or Marten’s Tower, the Western Gate, the House and Groves Persefield, with the precipitous banks of the River. W. H. Bartlett. C. Cousen. 3
Chepstow Castle and Bridge, taken from the right bank of the Wye, near the West Gate of the Castle.—This View, looking Eastward, shows the principal features of the Castle on the right; the New Bridge, the Harbour, with the Scenery on the left bank of the Wye. W. H. Bartlett. E. Brandard. 13
Chepstow Castle and Town, from the Wyndcliff, showing the windings of the Wye, its junction with the Severn, and the opposite coasts. W. H. Bartlett. E. Brandard. 26, 27
Vignette, Castles and Abbeys. W. Beattie. Mason. 1
Shield, Sword, and Helmet. Sargent. Evans. 12
Plan of Chepstow Castle. W. H. Bartlett. W. Whimper. 13
Marten’s Tower, the ancient Keep of Chepstow Castle. W. H. Bartlett. W. Whimper. 15
Ancient Oratory adjoining the Keep. W. H. Bartlett. W. Whimper. 23
The Arched Chamber in the Castle Rock. W. H. Bartlett. W. Whimper. 24
Passage leading to the Arched Chamber. W. H. Bartlett. W. Whimper. 25
Military Trophies; Age of Chivalry.     30
Tinterne Abbey on the Wye.
The Western Window of Tinterne Abbey.—This View is taken from a point near the Great Altar, showing in the foreground the clustered Pillars and Arches which formerly supported the Central Tower; the Door on the right leading to the Cloisters; Sepulchral Slabs, the Effigy of a Knight, with the much-admired Window to the West, and other features. W. H. Bartlett. A. Willmore. 39
The Refectory of the Abbey.W. H. Bartlett. C. Cousen. 52
The Devil’s Pulpit.—This View is taken from a romantic rock so called, on the left bank of the Wye, commanding a view of the Abbey westward; the Abbot’s Meadows stretching along the right bank of the Wye; the Church of Chapel-hill; the Village of Tinterne Parva lining the rim of the River Crescent. W. H. Bartlett. J. C. Bentley. 62
The Ferry at Tinterne.—This Plate, taken from the left bank of the Wye, presents a North View of the Abbey, with the Western Front, the Nave, North Transept, part of the great Eastern Window, Remains of the Cloisters, the Abbey Gate communicating with the Ferry, with other Conventual Buildings now in ruins, or transformed into Cottages. The River at this point is of sufficient depth to float a moderately-sized trading craft. W. H. Bartlett. J. C. Bentley. 66
Tinterne Abbey, West Front, taken from the Road leading to the “Beaufort Arms” and the Ferry, shows the much-admired West Window, in correct and beautiful detail; the Door opening into the Nave, the Southern Aisle, Buttress, Pinnacle, Clerestory Windows, &c., with their masses of luxuriant and interlacing Ivy. W. H. Bartlett. A. Willmore. 103
Doorway leading into the Cloisters. W. H. Bartlett. E. J. Roberts. 105
Doorway leading into the Sacristy. W. H. Bartlett. E. J. Roberts. 113
South Transept, Tinterne Abbey. W. H. Bartlett. W. Whimper. 31
Cistercian Monk. Dugdale. W. Whimper. 34
View from Entrance, Tinterne Abbey, taken from the Nave, showing the great Eastern Window. W. H. Bartlett. W. Whimper. 40
Initial Letters, illustrative of Baronial, Monastic, and Chivalrous Subjects.     1, 1, 3, 13, 31
Mutilated Effigy of Earl Strongbow, or Roger Bigod.     41
Shields of the Clare and Bigod Families, from the Encaustic-Tile Pavement in the Abbey.     42
Walter de Clare; Armorial Ensigns of the Family.     44
Richard de Clare; Ancient Family Shield.     48
Hospitium, or Guest Hall, with portions of the Refectory, and other Conventual Buildings.     50
Conventual Alphabet, Letter H; Abbey Gate, Procession.     51
Inner View; Sketch of an Altar, Tomb, &c.     54
Conventual Alphabet, Letter P.     56
Conventual Letter O.     60
Abbatial Crosier, Cap, and Cushion.     62
Letter A.     65
Ground Plan of Tinterne Abbey.     108
Five smaller Woodcuts, illustrative of the subject.    
Goodrich Castle.     122
Raglan Castle.
The Avenue, west of the Castle, from which the remains of the State Apartments are seen through the trees W. H. Bartlett.   J. C. Bentley. 128
The Paved Stone Court W. H. Bartlett. S. Bradshaw. 151
The Baronial Hall, showing the great Bay Window on the right of the Dais, with the Worcester Arms overhead; the ancient Fire-place, with W worked in brick over the Arch; the Corbel-heads that supported the Roof, &c. &c. W. H. Bartlett. E. J. Roberts. 154
Gateway in the Fountain Court, with the Baronial Chapel W. H. Bartlett. E. Brandard. 156
The Moat.—This View of the Keep and adjacent Towers is universally admired, both for the splendour of architectural detail and the picturesque grouping of the features which it displays W. H. Bartlett. C. Cousen. 158
The Gateway Towers, as described in the text, with the Moat and part of the Donjon Tower on the left W. H. Bartlett. E. Brandard. 177
The Keep or Donjon Tower, from the Moat; on the right are seen the Gateway Towers, and in the centre is the Keep. In front, opening upon the water, is the old sally-port; and on the right bank, partially concealed by trees, is the private walk, formerly ornamented with statues and shell-work, as described in the text. The Keep is represented in the same state as when it was left by General Fairfax after the siege W. H. Bartlett. J. C. Bentley. 200
View from the Battlements.—This View is taken from the top of the Keep, with the Moat, the Gatehouse, the Paved Court, &c., and Landscape to the westward W. H. Bartlett. A. Willmore. 220
Goodrich Castle     122
Ancient Armour     131
Feudal and Military Trophies     136
Morning of the Tournament     138
The Boar’s Head     146
Old Apartments in the Gateway Tower     153
Plan of the Castle     160
Baronial Trophies     175
The Armourer     178
The Arquebusier     185
The Tower of Gwent, or Keep     194
Window in the State Apartments     198
The Garter     213
State Gallery, with ancient Statues of the Earl and Countess of Worcester     217
View from the Battlements of the Keep, looking to Raglan Church     222
View taken from the old Bowling Green, with the Keep in the centre, and the Gate to Fountain Court on the left     226
Apartments called King Charles’s, carved Chimney-piece on the left, and Windows looking S. and S.W.     227
The old Baronial Kitchen, as described in the text     234
Bridge over the Monnow, described in the text     239
Llanthony Abbey.
The Nave of Llanthony Abbey, with the Central Tower, part of the South Transept, fragments of the Chancel, and great East Window W. H. Bartlett. W. Deebles. 244
Llanthony Abbey from the North-west, showing the great West Door—the two Square Towers—the Nave—North Aisle—the great Tower connecting the Transepts, with fragments of the great Eastern Window W. H. Bartlett. E. Brandard. 258
Llanthony Abbey from the rising Ground north of the Ruins, showing the whole Abbey, as it now appears, in the distance, with its surrounding Scenery, as presented from that point of view W. H. Bartlett. S. T. Davis. 272
The Abbey Church from the East.
Uske Castle and Town, showing the river Uske and the Bridge in the foreground—the ancient Castle on the right, with the Town under the acclivity—in the back ground, the picturesque Scenery for which the banks of the Uske are so remarkable W. H. Bartlett. A. Willmore. 283
Pembroke Castle from the Water, comprising the Principal Gateway—the Postern—the great Round Tower, or Donjon—the Outworks. On the left, part of the Tower; and westward, in the horizon, the remains of the ancient Nunnery W. H. Bartlett. J. Cousen. 293
Pembroke Castle.—Interior of the Great Court—Gateway, Towers, and Fortifications W. H. Bartlett. J. Cousen. 308
Round Tower of Uske Castle—Chamber in the same—Curthose Tower in Cardiff Castle.     284286311
Manorbeer Castle—Neath Abbey—Kidwelly Castle—Llanstephan Castle—Carew Castle—Margam Abbey—Appendix.
Manorbeer Castle, near the Church W. H. Bartlett.   321
Kidwelly Castle, from the Gwendraeth W. H. Bartlett.   332
Kidwelly Castle, from the Inner Court—Chapel on the right W. H. Bartlett.   334
Neath Abbey, the Crypt     331
Ancient Dwellings near Manorbeer Castle     335
Margam Abbey, the Crypt     348


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Around us spread the hills and dales,
Where Geoffrey spun his magic tales,
And called them history: the land
Whence Arthur sprung, and all his band
Of gallant knights.—Bloomfield.

IT has been justly remarked by statistical writers, that, in point of fertility, picturesque scenery, and classic remains, the county of Monmouth is one of the most interesting districts in the kingdom. Highly favoured by nature, it is literally studded over with the labours and embellishments of art. Watered by noble rivers, sheltered by magnificent woods and forests, interspersed with industrious towns and hamlets, and enriched by the labour and enterprise of its inhabitants, it presents all those features of soil and scenery which contribute to the beauty and stability of a country. From whatever point the traveller may enter this county, historical landmarks meet him at every step: feudal and{2} monastic ruins, rich in the history of departed dynasties, divide his attention, and fill his mind with their heroic deeds and pious traditions. In fields where the husbandman now reaps his peaceful harvest, he traces the shock of contending armies; whose deadly weapons still rust in furrows which their valour had won, and which the blood of the Roman, the Saxon, and Briton had fertilized. From these he turns aside to contemplate the fragments of baronial grandeur, which attest the glory of chivalry, but now, like sepulchral mounds, proclaim the deeds of their founders:—such is the Castle of Raglan.

In another district, sculptures, pavements, altars, statues, coins, and inscriptions, bear testimony to Roman sway:—such is the Silurian settlement of Caerleon, with its classic vicinity.

On another hand, where the ivy has clasped its hallowed walls, as if to prop their decay, the traveller halts at some monastic rain; and, amid the crumbling fragments of its lofty arches, its richly-carved windows, shafts, and capitals, dwells with a deep and melancholy interest on the page of its eventful history. In such places the voice of Tradition is never mute: the vacant niche, the dismantled tower, the desecrated altar, the deserted choir—all discourse eloquent and impressive music; and in places where the sacred harp was once strung, its chords seem still touched by invisible hands:—such are the Abbeys of Tinterne and Llanthony.

It is among these remains and monuments of the past—the early homes of saints and heroes of the olden day—that we propose to conduct the reader. In the tour projected, we avail ourselves of such materials as personal investigation, with that of distinguished predecessors, poets, and historians, has furnished from times of remote antiquity, down to the present day.

The scenery of the Wye is of classic and proverbial beauty: it is the theme alike of poet and historian, the annual resort of pilgrims—whether admirers of the picturesque, or valetudinarians; and nowhere in the kingdom is nature more lavish of those charms which attract all classes of tourists, than in the course and confines of this beautiful and romantic river.[1] There—

Be thine object health or pleasure,
Historic sites or classic treasure;
The Roman camp, the Norman grave,
Or war-tower crumbling o’er the wave;
Or fertile vale, or vocal woods,
Or hills, and flocks, and crystal floods;
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From the Iron Bridge across the Wye.


And haunts and homes that love to claim
The patriot’s or the poet’s name—
Then hither bend thy pilgrim way,
Where Taga’s classic waters play;
And here thy weary heart shall find,
What soothes and renovates the mind.

Chepstow is of Roman foundation—the Strigulia of ancient authors—and was for centuries one of the favourite strongholds of the kingdom. By the antiquarian researches, which are now conducted with unprecedented success and spirit, numerous vestiges of ancient times have been brought to light, and many more, it is believed, are reserved for the labours of archæology. The vicinity abounds in military encampments, all more or less remarkable for the strength of their position, and pointing to those days of border warfare when ‘might was right,’ and the sword the acknowledged lawgiver. But in the description of Chepstow, our observations must be restricted to the subjects selected for illustration; and these are so correctly depicted in the scene before us, that the reader will obtain a far more correct idea from the delineations of the pencil, than from any description that could be conveyed by the pen. Chepstow is supposed, and with much probability, to have been the chief seaport of the Silurian colony, as both Caerwent and Portscwet have for many centuries been deserted by the sea. Where the Roman galleys once flanked the beach, landing their freight of mailed cohorts, the modern steamer now unloads her crowded deck of peaceful tourists, merchants, mechanics, and students of the picturesque.

In its general appearance—in its street architecture—Chepstow still presents some isolated features of the primitive style. Of these, the principal is the Western Gate, of unquestionable antiquity; and, in point of date, taking precedence of the castle itself. By a charter given in the 16th Henry VIII., the bailiffs were to have their prison for the punishment of offences within the Great Gate, “which they have builded by our commandment.” This is supposed to be a renewal of the ancient liberties of the town, granted by Howel Dhu, A.D. 940.

The Church, part of a Benedictine priory of Norman work, has undergone many alterations and repairs; but repairs, in some cases, are more fatal to the style and symmetry of ecclesiastical monuments, than the wasting hand of time, or even the shocks of violence—for they only disfigure what they meant to adorn; and, by deviating widely from the original plan, lose or debase all its original beauty. The nave and aisles are nearly all that remain of the original edifice.[2] The church has disappeared; but the pillars which supported the{4} central tower are still preserved on the eastern extremity, and convey some idea of the massive strength of the original edifice. The western porch is justly admired for its zigzag tracery; and, in this respect, it presents one of the finest specimens that have descended to our day, of the true Saxo-Norman character. The church contains several monuments, not remarkable for their style or antiquity; the chief of which is that to the memory of the second Earl and Countess of Worcester, with their effigies at full length, in the attitude of prayer.

The repairs and restorations lately effected in this church, were suggested and carried out by the joint taste and liberality of the late Bishop of Llandaff and the parishioners. The result is creditable to the parties concerned; and here, it is to be hoped, their pious labours will not be suffered to terminate. The original priory was an alien branch of the Benedictine monastery of Cormeilles.

The acrostic, written upon himself by the regicide Henry Martin—first discarded from the chancel, and latterly from the sacred enclosure, by a former vicar—has somewhat recovered from its disgrace, by gaining admittance into the vestry, but only on sufferance. In the town and immediate neighbourhood are some remains of religious houses, under various denominations; for the situation of Chepstow, presenting many advantages for commerce, was not less favourable for monachism.

In iron times, when laws of battle were,
That weakly folk, of prowess small in fight,
The galling gyves of vassalage should bear;
Ere castle seneschals, with pale affright,
Heard the shrill horn wind of the errant knight—
A foeman firm affianced to be
To all who wrong’d the feeble of their right—
Such folk the Church let from their thraldom free,
A deed that had not shamed the Knight of Chivalry.
Econ. of Monast. Life.

We were told of a pleasing custom, transmitted from early times, and still observed here, that of repairing every Palm-Sunday to the graves of departed friends, and ornamenting them with flowers—much in the same way as the populace of Paris repair every All Saints’ morning to Père-la-Chaise, to scatter flowers and evergreens over the graves of their relations.

One of the finest points of view is the centre of the new iron bridge, comprising the castle, the vessels at anchor under the stupendous wall of rock on which it is erected; with the lawns and groves of Piercefield—a favourite and familiar name in the list of picturesque tours—closing the landscape. The former bridge[3] was of prodigious height, erected on piles. The present struc{5}ture was founded in 1815; and in the March of that year, the tide rose from low-water mark to the remarkable height of fifty-one feet two inches. The new bridge consists of five arches, the centre one of which is one hundred and twelve feet in span; the two adjoining arches have a span of seventy feet, and the two outer ones a span of fifty-four feet each. It is of massive cast-metal, resting on stone piers; and its total length is five hundred and thirty-two feet.

The depth of the moorings in the river here is so great, that, at low water, ships of 700 tons burthen may ride safely at anchor. The rise of tide is from thirty to nearly sixty feet, a circumstance scarcely to be paralleled—and caused by the extraordinary swell of water at the rocks of Beechley and Aust, which, by protruding far into the Severn, near the month of the Wye, obstruct the flow of tide, and thus impel it with increased rapidity into the latter.[4] In January, 1768, according to our local guide, it attained the height of seventy feet: its greatest rise of late years has been fifty-six feet.

In 1634, we are informed, Colonel Sandys attempted to make the Wye navigable by means of locks; but after much labour and expense, the experiment failed, and the locks were removed. Every one curious in the phenomena of natural history, has heard of the intermitting well of Chepstow, which ebbs and flows inversely with the tide—that is, when the tide ebbs, the well flows; and when the tide flows, the well ebbs: when the tide is at its height, the well is nearly dry; a little before which it begins to subside, and soon after the ebb it gradually returns. It is neither affected by wet nor dry weather, but is entirely regulated by the tide. It is thirty-two feet in depth, and frequently contains fourteen feet of excellent water.

In melancholy connection with the old bridge of Chepstow, is a family calamity which drew from the late poet Campbell an epitaph[5] worthy of his pen. The victims by the sudden catastrophe were a lady and her two daughters, personal friends of the poet, and for whom he entertained sentiments of great esteem and regard. The lady and her daughters were on a visit at Chepstow; and, after hearing sermon, went on the river in a boat. The tide was running strong at the time; and in his attempt to clear the centre arch of the bridge, the boatman missed his aim—the frail bark struck against the wooden pier, and upset; and the lady and her two daughters were carried down by the stream{6} and lost. Their lifeless remains were afterwards recovered, and buried in the churchyard of Monckton, where a tomb, erected to their memory, bears the following inscription:—

“In deep submission to the will above,
Yet with no common cause for human tears,
This stone to the lost Partner of his love,
And for his children lost, a mourner rears.
One fatal moment, one o’erwhelming doom,
Tore threefold from his heart the ties of earth—
His Mary, Margaret, in their early bloom,
And Her who gave them life, and taught them worth.
“Farewell, ye broken pillars of my fate!
My life’s companion, and my two first-born!
Yet while this silent stone I consecrate
To conjugal, paternal love forlorn—
Oh, may each passer-by the lesson learn
Which can alone the bleeding heart sustain—
Where friendship weeps at virtue’s funeral urn—
That, to the pure in heart, to die is gain!”

It is somewhat remarkable, that the text of Scripture which they had just heard expounded in the parish church the same morning, was—“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Of the principal victim in this calamity, Campbell thus speaks in a private letter to a friend:—“We looked to Mrs. Shute as truly elevated in the scale of beings for the perfect charity of her heart. The universal feeling of lamentation for her, accords with the benign and simple-minded beauty of her character.”

As the limits and object of this work do not permit us to enlarge our remarks on the particular history of Chepstow, we now proceed to that of the castle, whose roofless walls, and moss-clad ramparts, carry us back to the Norman Conquest, and fill an ample page in its subsequent history. The present structure, on a Roman or Saxon foundation, is ascribed to William Fitzosborne, Earl of Hereford,[6] upon whom his kinsman the Conqueror had bestowed vast{7} possessions, in this and the neighbouring counties, which could only be secured by sword and stronghold. On the forfeiture of his son Roger, it passed to the Clares, another great Norman family.

The hereditary lords of the town and castle were the old Earls of Pembroke, of the house of Clare, the last of whom was the renowned Richard[7] Strongbow, ‘Earl of Striguil, Chepstow, and Pembroke,’ who died in 1176, leaving a daughter, Isabel, by whose marriage the estates and title passed into the family of Marshall, and afterwards, by a similar union, into that of Herbert. In the reign of Edward the Fourth, the castle, manor, and lordship of Chepstow, were held by Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, who was beheaded after the battle of Banbury, in 1469. By the marriage of Elizabeth, sole daughter and heiress of William Herbert—Earl of Huntingdon, and Lord Herbert of Raglan, Chepstow, and Gower—it descended to Sir Charles Somerset, who was afterwards created Earl of Worcester. It is now one of the numerous castles belonging to his illustrious descendant, the Duke of Beaufort.

During the wars of the Commonwealth, the castle was garrisoned by the king’s troops; but, in 1645, Colonel Morgan, governor of Gloucester, at the head of a small body of horse and foot, entered the town without much difficulty; and, on the 5th October, sent the following summons to Sir Robert Fitzmaurice: “Sir,—I am commanded by his Excellency, Sir Thomas Fairfax, to demand this castle for the use of the King and Parliament, which I require of you, and to lay down your arms, and to accept of reasonable propositions, which will be granted both to you and your soldiers, if you observe this summons: and further, you are to consider of what nation and religion you are; for if you refuse the summons, you exclude yourself from mercy, and are to expect for yourself and soldiers no better than Stinchcombe quarter. I expect your sudden answer, and according thereunto shall rest your friend,—Thomas Morgan.”

To this summons the governor answered: “Sir,—I have the same reason to keep this castle for my master the King, as you to demand it for General Fairfax; and until my reason be convinced, and my provisions decreased, I shall, notwithstanding my religion and menaces of extirpation, continue in my resolution, and in my fidelity and loyalty to the king. As to Stinchcombe quarter, I know not what you mean by it; nor do depend upon your intelligence for relief, which in any indigence I assure me of; and in that assurance I rest your servant,—Robert Fitzmaurice.

“P.S.—What quarter you give me and my soldiers, I refer to the consideration of all soldiers, when I am constrained to seek for any.{8}

Stinchcombe, near Dursley on the Severn, was a place where the Parliament accused Prince Rupert of putting their men to the sword.

In consequence of this answer the siege was commenced, and carried on with so much vigour, that, in the course of four days, the castle surrendered, and the governor and his garrison were made prisoners of war. Later in the history of that melancholy period, it was surprised by a body of royalists, under Sir Nicholas Kemeys. Cromwell then directed his whole strength upon it, and reduced the town; but, for a time, found the castle impregnable. At last, however, exhausted with fatigue, and on the verge of famine, the garrison were forced into a parley with the besiegers; and, in the surrender of the fortress, Sir Nicholas Kemeys “was killed in cold blood.” The following is Colonel Ewer’s report[8] on the reduction of Chepstow Castle. His letter is addressed to the Honourable William Lental, Speaker of the House of Commons:—

Sir,—Lieutenant-General Cromwell, being to march towards Pembroke Castle, left me with my regiment to take in the Castle of Chepstow, which was possessed by Sir Nicholas Kemish [or Kemeys], and with him officers and soldiers to the number of 120. We drew close about it, and kept strong guards upon them, to prevent them from stealing out, and so to make their escape. We sent for two guns from Gloucester, and two off a shipboard, and planted them against the castle. We raised [razed] the battlements of their towers with our great guns, and made their guns unusefull for them. We also plaid with our shorter pieces into the castle. One shot fell into the governor’s chamber, which caused him to remove his lodgings to the other end of the castle. We then prepared our batteries, and this morning finished them. About twelve of the clock, we made a hole through the wall, so low that a man might walk into it. The soldiers in the castle, perceiving that we were like to make a breach, cried out to our soldiers that they would yield the castle, and many of them did attempt to come away. I caused my soldiers to fire at them to keep them in. Esquire Lewis comes upon the wall, and speaks to some gentlemen of the county that he knew, and tells them that he was willing to yield to mercy. They came and acquainted me with his desire, to which I answered, that it was not my work to treat with particular men, but it was Sir Nicholas Kemish, with his officers and all his soldiers, that I aimed at; but the governor refused to deliver up the castle upon these terms that Esquire Lewis desired, but{9} desired to speak with me at the drawbridge, while I altogether refused to have any such speech with him, because he refused Lieutenant-General Cromwell’s summons; but, being overpersuaded by some gentlemen of the country that were there, presently I dismounted from my horse, and went unto the drawbridge, where he through the port-hole spake with me. That which he desired was, that he, with all his officers and soldiers, might march out of the castle without anything being taken from them; to which I answered, that I would give him no other terms but that he and all that were with him should submit unto mercy, which he swore he would not do. I presently drew off the soldiers from the castle, and caused them to stand to their arms; but he refusing to come out upon those terms, the soldiers deserted him, and came running out at the breach we had made. My soldiers, seeing them run out, ran in at the same place, and possesst themselves of the castle, and killed Sir Nicholas Kemmish, and likewise him that betrayed the castle, and wounded divers, and took prisoners as followeth:—Esquire Lewis, Major Lewis, Major Thomas, Captain Morgan, Captain Buckeswell, Captain John Harris, Captain Christopher Harris, Captain Mancell, Captain Pinner, Captain Doule, Captain Rossitre, Lieutenant Kemmish, Lieutenant Leach, Lieutenant Codd, Ensign Watkins, Ensign Morgan, with other officers and soldiers, to the number of 120. These prisoners we have put into the church, and shall keep them till I receive further orders from Lieutenant-General Cromwell.

“This is all at present, but that I am your humble servant,

Isaac Ewer.”

“Chepstow, May 28, 1648.”

The captain who carried the news of this event to London was rewarded with fifty pounds; and Colonel Ewer, with the officers and soldiers under his command, received the thanks of parliament. This was the closing scene of its warlike history; and from that period down to the present, the Castle of Chepstow has remained a picturesque and dismantled ruin.

Of this brave but unfortunate governor of the castle, we collect the following particulars:[9]

Sir Nicholas Kemeys, Bart.,[10] the sixteenth in descent of this honourable house, “was colonel of a regiment of horse, raised for the king’s service, and governor of Chepstow Castle, which he bravely defended against the powerful efforts of Cromwell and Colonel Ewer; nor did he surrender that fortress but with his life, fighting in the most gallant manner, till death arrested his farther exertions.”[11] There is a traditional story, that “the Parliamentary troops, as{10} soon as they entered the castle, in revenge for Sir Nicholas’ obstinate resistance, mangled his body in the most horrid manner, and that the soldiers wore his remains in their hats, as trophies of their victory; but a branch of the Kemeys family,” says the writer, “told me they considered it as one of those acts of the times, which each party adopted to stigmatize the memory of its political opponents. Not a stone, it is said, nor other tribute of recollection, in any cemetery in Monmouthshire, records the spot in which the remains of this brave officer were deposited.”[12]

A portrait of Sir Nicholas Kemeys was “in the possession of the late Mrs. Sewel[13] of Little Kemeys, near Usk, in this county, now the property of John G. Kemeys, Esq. The picture is a three-quarters length. He is drawn in armour, and seems about forty years of age. He appears to have possessed a good person, if an opinion might be formed from his portrait. He has a fine open countenance, round face, dark piercing eyes, an aquiline nose, and wore his own hair, which was black and rather curly.” According to the fashion of his day, he is represented with whiskers, and a small tuft of hair growing under the lower lip—or, in modern phraseology, an imperial. “Although it is what an artist would pronounce a dark picture, yet, on the whole, it is in good preservation. There are two more portraits of this gentleman—one in the possession of the late Sir Charles Kemeys, Bart. of Halsewell, in Somersetshire; the other at Malpas, near Usk, probably all painted at the same time and by the same artist, but whose name has not been handed down in conjunction with his works.”

The house of Kemeys,[14] “originally De Camois, Camoes, and Camys, is of Norman extraction, and the name of its patriarch is to be found on the roll of Battle Abbey. Large possessions were granted to the family in the counties of Sussex and Surrey; and, so early as the year 1258, Ralph de Camois was a baron by tenure. He was succeeded by his son, Ralph de Camois, who was summoned to parliament in the 49th year of Henry III.; and his descendants{11} sat among the peers of the realm, until the demise, issueless, of Hugh de Camois, who left his sisters (Margaret, married to Ralph Rademelde, and Aleanor, wife of Roger Lewknor) his coheirs. A branch of the family which had settled in Pembrokeshire, there enjoyed large possessions, and, as lords of Camaes and St. Dogmaels, exercised almost regal sway. In the conquest of Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire, the Camays were much distinguished, and were rewarded with grants of “Kemeys Commander” and “Kemeys Inferior.” One branch became established at Llannarr Castle, in Monmouthshire (now in the possession of Colonel Kemeys-Tynte), and another fixing itself at Began, in Glamorganshire, erected the mansion of Kevanmably, the residence of the present chief of the family.

“Edward Kemeys, son of Edward Kemeys who was at the conquest of Upper Gwent, married the daughter and heiress of Andrew de Began, lord of Began, a lineal descendant of Blethyn Maynerch, lord of Brecon, and thus acquired the lordship of Began, which, for centuries after, was the principal abode of his descendants. His great-great-great-grandson, Jenkin Kemeys of Began, married Cristley, daughter of Morgan ap Llewellyn, by whom he had one son, Jevan; and a daughter, married to Jevan ap Morgan of New Church, near Cardiff, in the county of Glamorgan, and was grandmother of Morgan Williams—living temp. Henry VIII.—who espoused the sister of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, and had a son, Sir Richard Williams, who assumed, at the desire of Henry VIII., the surname of his uncle Cromwell; and through the influence of that once-powerful relative, obtained wealth and station. His great-grandson was the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell.[15] From Jenkin Kemeys was lineally descended Sir Nicholas Kemeys of Kevanmably, who represented the county of Glamorgan in parliament, and was created a baronet 13th May, 1642. This gentleman, remarkable for his gigantic stature and strength, was pre-eminently distinguished by his loyalty to Charles I., and on the breaking out of the civil war (as we have already observed), having raised a regiment of cavalry, was invested with the command of Chepstow Castle.”

Notwithstanding the alliance with the blood of Cromwell, loyalty seems to have been hereditary in the house of Kemeys. In the family biography we have the following anecdote:—“Sir Charles Kemeys—knight of the shire for Monmouth, in the last parliament of Queen Anne, and for Glamorgan in the two succeeding parliaments—when on his travels, was shown great attention by George I. at Hanover, and frequently joined the private circle of the Elector. When his majesty ascended the British throne, he was pleased to inquire why his old acquaintance Sir Charles Kemeys had not paid his respects at court;{12} and commanding him to repair to St. James’s, sent him a message, the substance of which was—that the King of England hoped Sir Charles Kemeys still recollected the number of pipes he had smoked with the Elector of Hanover in Germany. Sir Charles, who had retired from parliament, and was a stanch Jacobite, replied, that he should be proud to pay his duty at St. James’s to the Elector of Hanover, but that he had never had the honour of smoking a pipe with the King of England.”

Sir Charles Kemeys died without issue, when the baronetcy expired, and his estates devolved on his nephew, Sir Charles Kemeys-Tynte, Bart. of Halsewell, at whose demise, also issueless, his estates vested in his niece, Jane Hassell, who married Colonel Johnstone, afterwards Kemeys-Tynte,[16] and was mother of the present (1838) Colonel Kemeys-Tynte of Halsewell and Kevanmably. Through the Hassells, the family of Kemeys-Tynte claim descent from the Plantagenets.[17]

We now proceed to a brief description of the castle in its ruinous state.

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From the right bank of the Wye.


Plan of Chepstow Castle.

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1. Entrance Gateway.
2. Marten’s Tower.
3. Well.
4. First Court.
5. Rooms above the Vaulted Chamber.
6. Second Court.
7. Hall, or Chapel.
8. Third Court.
9. Sunken Way and Drawbridge.
10. Fourth Court.
11. Sunken Way and Bridge.
12. Perpendicular Cliff.

BUILT on a lofty perpendicular rock, that rises sheer from the bed of the Wye, the position of the Castle is at once strong and commanding; while, on the land side, the great height and massive strength of its walls and outworks, present the remains of all that ancient art could effect to render it impregnable.

The grand entrance is defended by two circular towers of unequal proportions, with double gates, portcullises, and a port-hole, through which boiling water or metallic fluids could be discharged on the heads of the besiegers. The massive door, covered with iron bolts and clasps, is a genuine relic of the feudal stronghold. The knocker now in use is an old four-pound shot. This introduces us to the great court, sixty yards long by twenty broad, and presenting the appearance of a tranquil garden. The walls are covered with a luxuriant mantle of ivy, through which the old masonry appears only at intervals; and here the owl finds himself in undisturbed possession, unless when roused by the choir of numberless birds that flit from tree to tree, or nestle among the leaves. The lover of solitude could hardly find a retreat more suited to his taste. The area, interspersed with trees, and covered with a fine grassy carpet,{14} is annually converted into a flower and fruit show, for the encouragement of horticulture, under the patronage of the noble owner.

The castle, as one of its historians conjectures, is of the same antiquity as the town itself, to which it served the purposes of a citadel; but the precise epoch, neither Leland, Camden, nor any topographical writer has been able to ascertain. Stow, indeed, attributes the building of the castle to Julius Cæsar, but there is no evidence to support his supposition. Camden, on the contrary, thinks it of no great antiquity; for several affirm, says he, that “it had its rise, not many ages past, from the ancient Venta”—the Venta Silurum of Antoninus. Leland, in his Itinerary, says—“The waulles begun at the edge of the great bridge over the Wye, and so came to the castle, which yet standeth fayr and strong, not far from the ruin of the bridge. In the castle ys one tower, as I heard say, by the name of Longine.[18] The town,” he adds, “hath nowe but one paroche chirche: the cell of a blake monk or two of Bermondsey, near London, was lately there suppressed.”

During the life of Charles-Noel, fourth Duke of Beaufort, the castle was let on a lease of three successive lives to a Mr. Williams, a general merchant or trader, who adapted some of the great apartments to the following purposes, namely—the great kitchen to a sail manufactory; the store-room to a wholesale wine-cellar; the grand hall, or banqueting-room, was occupied by a glass-blower; and the circular tower by the gate, leading into the second court, was used as a nail manufactory. After the death of Mr. Williams, the roofs fell in, one after another—that of the Keep in 1799, the year in which the lease expired; and thus the stately castle was reduced to its present condition—a vast and melancholy ruin.

The only apartments now inhabitable are those of its loyal and intelligent warden and his family, whose civility and general information respecting the castle are very acceptable to its daily visitors.

One of the principal towers was converted, during the above-named lease, into a glass manufactory, the furnace of which has left its scars deeply indented in the solid masonry.

In a small chamber off the banqueting-hall, seventy-five pieces of ancient silver coin were recently discovered, and are now at Badminton Park; but of what value or of what reign we have not yet ascertained.

An ancient door—as ancient, we are told, as the castle itself—opens upon the{15} second court, of very nearly the same dimensions as the first, and now also converted into a garden. Beyond this is an apartment, supposed by some to have been the garrison chapel;[19] but its pointed arches and elaborately-carved windows, all evincing an air of stately dignity, leave no doubt of its having been the great baronial hall, where the Clares, the Marshalls, and Herberts, drew around them their chivalrous retainers.

Connected with this, by a winding path, is a third court, now cultivated as an orchard; so that, with trees, flowers, and luxuriant ivy, the whole enclosure presents a mass of vegetation, in which the stern features of warlike art have almost disappeared.

A walk along the ramparts westward from this point, commands some glimpses of beautiful scenery, with the Wye at the base of the rocks expanding in the form of a lake, where vessels are seen riding at anchor, and boats passing to and fro—here gay with pleasure parties, and there laden with foreign or inland produce.

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The Keep is another object which the tourist will regard with interest, as{16} the twenty years’ prison of Henry Marten, whose vote, with those of his “fellow-regicides,” at the trial of Charles the First, consigned that unfortunate monarch to the block. To his epitaph written upon himself we have already alluded; and the reader is no stranger, probably, to Southey’s lines on the room where he was confined, which, with a sarcastic parody written by Canning, will be found in these pages.

Henry Marten, who attained such unenviable notoriety, was the son of Sir Henry Marten, a judge of the Admiralty, and M.P. for Berkshire. He was an able and active partisan of Oliver Cromwell, one of the “Executive Council;” and in the old prints representing the trial of the martyr-king, Marten occupies the chair on Cromwell’s left hand, immediately under the arms of the Commonwealth.[20] At the Restoration, he was brought to trial, and sentenced to death; but his sentence was afterwards commuted to imprisonment for life. In the keep of this castle, since called “Marten’s Tower,” he spent twenty years; but much was done to soften the rigour of his sentence. “His wife was permitted to share his imprisonment; he was attended by his own domestic servants, who were accommodated in the same tower; and he had permission to visit, and receive visits from his friends in the town and neighbourhood. He died in 1680, at the mature age of seventy-eight, neither disturbed by the qualms of conscience, nor enfeebled by the rigour of confinement; and left behind him the character of a liberal and indulgent master.” At a comparatively recent period, the principal chamber of the Keep was frequently used by the inhabitants of Chepstow as a ball-room; and there is now residing in the town a lady, who remembers having been present at more than one of these festive reunions.

For the following notice of this “stern republican,”—somewhat different from the preceding—we are indebted to Heath’s description of Chepstow:—

Henry Marten,[21] commonly called Harry Marten, was born in the city of Oxford, in the parish of St. John the Baptist, in a house opposite to Merton College Church, then lately built by Henry Sherburne, gent., and possessed, at the time of Harry’s birth, by Sir Henry, his father. After he had been in{17}structed in grammar-learning in Oxford, he became a gentleman commoner of University College in the beginning of 1617, aged fifteen years, where, and in public, giving a manifestation of his pregnant mind, had the degree of Bachelor of Arts conferred upon him in the latter end of the year 1619. Afterwards he went to one of the Inns of Court, travelled into France, and on his return married a lady of considerable worth; but with whom, it is said, “he never afterwards lived.”[22]

In the beginning of the year 1640, he was elected one of the knights for Berks, to serve in the parliament that began at Westminster the 13th of April; and again, though not legally, in October, to serve in the parliament that began at the same place on the 3d of November following. We shall not enter into his political actions on the great theatre of public life—as they are to be found in all the histories of England, from the reign of Charles I. to the Restoration—but content ourselves with noticing those parts of it which are more peculiarly interesting to the traveller in Monmouthshire, namely, the manner in which he passed his time, with occasional anecdotes, during his confinement in the castle of Chepstow.

Wood, an ultra-royalist, gives the following character of him:—“He was a man of good natural parts—was a boon familiar, witty, and quick with repartees—was exceeding happy in apt instances, pertinent and very biting; so that his company, being deemed incomparable by many, would have been acceptable to the greatest persons, only he would be drunk too soon, and so put an end to all their mirth for the present. At length, after all his rogueries, acted for near twenty years together, were passed; he was at length called to account for that grand villany, of having a considerable hand in murdering his prince, of which being easily found guilty, he was not to suffer the loss of his life, as others did, but the loss of his estate, and perpetual imprisonment, for that he came in upon the proclamation of surrender. So that, after two or three removes from prison to prison, he was at length sent to Chepstow Castle, where he continued another twenty years, not in wantonness, riotousness, and villany, but in confinement and repentance, if he had so pleased.”

“This person—who lived very poor, and in a shabbeel condition in his confinement, and would be glad to take a pot of ale from any one that would give it to him—died with meat in his mouth, that is, suddenly, in Chepstow Castle (as before mentioned), in September, 1680; and was, on the 9th day of the same month, buried in the church of Chepstow. Some time before he died he made the epitaph, by way of acrostic, on himself, which is engraved on the stone which now covers his remains.{18}

Mrs. Williams—“wife of the person who had the care of the castle, and who died in 1798, at a very advanced age—well knew and was intimately acquainted with the women who waited and attended on Harry Marten during his confinement in the castle. They were two sisters, and their maiden name was Vick.

“From what I could learn, I am of opinion that the early part of Marten’s confinement was rather rigorous; for whatever Mrs. Williams mentioned had always a reference to the latter part of it; and in this conjecture I am supported by her remark, that though he had two daughters living, they were not indulged with sharing their father’s company in prison till near the close of his life. In the course of years, political rigour against him began to wear away, and he was permitted not only to walk about Chepstow, but to have the constant residence of his family, in order to attend upon him in the castle. This indulgence at last extended itself so far, as to permit him to visit any family in the neighbourhood, his host being responsible for his safe return to the castle at the hour appointed.

“One anecdote of Marten, as mentioned by Mrs. Williams, I shall here repeat. Among other families who showed a friendly attention to the prisoner, were the ancestors of the present worthy possessor of St. Pierre, near Chepstow. To a large company assembled round the festive dinner-board Marten had been invited. Soon after the cloth was removed, and the bottle put into gay circulation, Mr. Lewis, in a cheerful moment, jocularly said to Marten, ‘Harry, suppose the times were to come again in which you passed your life, what part would you act in them?’ ‘The part I have done,’ was his immediate reply. ‘Then, sir,’ says Mr. Lewis, ‘I never desire to see you at my table again;’ nor was he ever after invited.[23]

“Great credibility,” says our authority, “deserves to be attached to this story, as containing Marten’s political opinion at that day; and, to support a belief in it, the late Rev. J. Birt, canon of Hereford, thus speaks of him, in his letter to the Rev. J. Gardner, prefixed to his ‘Appendix to the History of Monmouthshire:’—‘Henry Marten, one of the incendiary preachers during the great rebellion, was, at the Restoration, imprisoned for life at Chepstow, and buried there. As far as I can recollect, he died as he lived, with the fierce spirit of a republican.’ The Rev. Mr. Birt, who died at the advanced age of ninety-two, held distinguished preferment in the neighbourhood of Chepstow, and had been in the habits of intimate acquaintance with all the first families in the county.{19} His testimony might therefore be said to stamp the anecdote with the sanction of truth, without seeking for farther evidence.

“Of his personal appearance, a friend of mine—on the authority of the late Mr. Harry Morgan, attorney at Usk, whose father had been in Marten’s company, and by whom he had been informed of it—says that Mr. Morgan described him, in general terms, as ‘a smart, active little man, and the merriest companion he ever was in company with in his life.’ Wood praises his social qualities, and talent for conversation; but that ‘he lived in a shabbeel condition, and would take a pot of ale from any one that would give it to him,’ may be doubted; unless he meant that the kindness shown to him by the families in and near Chepstow admitted such an interpretation.[24]

“Let us attend him to the grave. It is hardly possible to admit that such a mind as that of Marten would have penned—much less to suppose that he would have wished to have engraved on his tomb—the wretched doggerel that goes under the name of his ‘Epitaph,’ and which is said to have been written by him during his confinement in the castle. Not the smallest circumstance respecting his funeral is left on record; and whether his obsequies were marked with public procession, or whether he retired to the grave unnoticed and unregarded, tradition has not preserved the slightest memorandum.”

His biographer might, without difficulty, have concluded that—in those times, at all events—an imprisoned rebel would not be permitted to have any but the most private funeral. All that we are certain of is, that he was buried in the chancel of the church of Chepstow; and that, on a large stone from the Forest of Dean, is still to be traced the following “Epitaph, written on himself,” by way of acrostic, but now much defaced:—


Here, September the ninth,
was buried
A true Englishman,
Who, in Berkshire, was well known
To love his country’s freedom ’bove his own;
But being immured full twenty year,
Had time to write, as doth appear,


H ere or elsewhere—all’s one to you, to me—
E arth, air, or water, gripes my ghostly dust,
N one knows how soon to be by fire set free:
R eader, if you an oft-tryed rule will trust,
Y ou’ll gladly do and suffer what you must.{20}
M y time was spent in serving you, and you;
A nd death’s my pay, it seems, and welcome too:
R evenge destroying but itself, while I
T o birds of prey leave my old cage, and fly.
E xamples preach to the eye.—Care thou, mine says,
N ot how you end, but how you spend your days.[25]

Having retired to that asylum which is the common lot of humanity, his ashes were for some years permitted to rest in peace. But at length a clergyman of the name of Chest, we are told, was appointed to the vicarage of Chepstow, who, glowing with admiration for those principles of the constitution which he considered had been subverted, openly declared that the bones of a regicide should never pollute the chancel of that church of which he was vicar, and immediately ordered the corpse to be disinterred, and removed to the place where it now reposes, in the middle of the north transept, and over it the stone is placed that bears the epitaph before mentioned.

About this time, as Heath informs us, “there came to reside at Chepstow a person of the name of Downton, who afterwards married a daughter of the Rev. Mr. Chest; but, whatever affection he might cherish for the lady, the father was one unceasing object of his ridicule and contempt; and when the vicar died, he publicly satyrised him in the following lines:—

‘Here lies at rest, I do protest,
One Chest within another;
The chest of wood was very good—
Who says so of the other?’

Marten’s apartment, as we have said, was in “the first story of the eastern tower, or keep; for this part of the building contained only a single room on each floor, if we except those near the top. Could he have detached from his recollection the idea of Sterne’s starling—‘I can’t get out, I can’t get out’—the situation might have been chosen out of remembrance or tenderness to the rank he had formerly held in society; for though it bore the name of a prison, it was widely different from the generality of such places. The room measured fifteen paces long, by twelve paces wide, and was very lofty. On one side, in the centre, was a fire-place, two yards wide; and the windows, which were spacious, and lighted both ends of the apartment, gave an air of cheerfulness not frequent in such buildings. In addition to this, he could enjoy from its windows some of the sweetest prospects in Britain. This apartment continues to{21} bear the name of ‘Marten’s Room’ to this day, and few travellers enter the castle without making it an object of their attention.”

“Marten,” says Mr. Seward, “was a striking instance of the truth of Roger Ascham’s observation, who, in his quaint and pithy style, says—‘Commonlie, men, very quick of wit, be very light of conditions. In youth, they be readie scoffers, privie mockers, and over light and merrie. In age they are testie, very waspish, and always over miserable; and yet few of them come to any great age, by reason of their miserable life when young; and a great deal fewer of them come to show any great countenance, or beare any great authority abroade, in the world; but either they live obscurely, men wot not how, or dye obscurely, men mark not when.’[26]

“In the dining-parlour of St. Pierre, near Chepstow, there hung,” in the time of the writer, “a painting, said to be of Harry Marten. He is represented at three-quarters length, in armour. In his right hand he holds a pistol, which he seems about to discharge; while with the left he grasps the hilt of his sword. Behind him is a page, in the act of tying on a green sash; the whole conveying an idea that the person was about to undertake some military enterprise. Judging from the picture, the likeness appears to have been taken when Marten was about forty-five years of age. He there seems of thin or spare habit, with a high forehead, long visage; his hair of a dark colour, and flowing over the right shoulder. The cravat round the neck does not correspond with the age in which he lived, being tied in the fashion of modern times. There is a great deal of animation and spirit in his countenance, characteristic of the person it is said to represent.”[27]

Having adverted to Mr. Southey’s “Inscription,” and its parody by George Canning, we subjoin the following copies from the originals. The first, by Southey, is thus headed:—

For the apartment in Chepstow Castle, where Harry Marten the regicide was imprisoned thirty years.

For thirty years secluded from mankind,
Here Marten lingered. Often have these walls
Echoed his footsteps, as with even tread
He paced around his prison. Not to him{22}
Did nature’s fair varieties exist:
He never saw the sun’s delightful beams,
Save when through yon high bars he poured a sad
And broken splendour. Dost thou ask his crime?
He had rebelled against the king, and sat
In judgment on him; for his ardent mind
Shaped goodliest plans of happiness on earth,
And peace and liberty. Wild dreams! but such
As Plato loved; such as with holy zeal
Our Milton worshipp’d. Blessed hopes! awhile
From man withheld, even to the latter days,
When Christ shall come, and all things be fulfilled!

The next is the parody by Canning, as published in the first number of the Anti-Jacobin, 1797:—


For the door of the cell in Newgate, where Mrs. Brownrigg the ’prentice-cide was confined
previous to her execution.

For one long term, or e’er her trial came,
Here Brownrigg lingered. Often have these cells
Echoed her blasphemies, as with shrill voice
She screamed for fresh Geneva. Not to her
Did the blithe fields of Tothill, or thy street,
St. Giles, its fair varieties expand;
Till at the last, in slow-drawn cart, she went
To execution. Dost thou ask her crime?
She whipped two female ’prentices to death,
And hid them in the coal-hole. For her mind
Shaped strictest plans of discipline. Sage schemes,
Such as Lycurgus taught, when at the shrine
Of the Orthyan goddess he bade flog
The little Spartans: such as erst chastised
Our Milton when at college. For this act
Did Brownrigg swing. Harsh laws! but time shall come
When France shall reign, and laws be all repealed!

Adjoining the Keep, or Marten’s Tower, is a small chamber, or Oratory, remarkable for the elegance of its proportions, and the chaste but elaborate style of its ornaments. The lancet-pointed window, encircled by rows of delicately-carved rosettes, is in fine preservation.—See the opposite page.

The narrow path which, at a height of six feet above the ground, connects this portion of the castle with the donjon tower, commands a range of beautiful scenery, the prominent features of which are the lawns and groves of Persefield, the precipitous but picturesque banks of the river, with a noble background for the picture in the commanding summit of the Wynd Cliff, which overlooks the scene.

The West Gate, a Gothic archway, strongly defended by a double portcullis, with moat and drawbridge, opens into the fourth or principal court already{23} noticed; and as portions of Roman brick are here observed in the masonry, some doubts have arisen as to its date: but whether furnished from an earlier building on the spot, or transported hither from the ruins of Caerleon, is a question which, so far as the writer could ascertain, is still undecided. It seems very

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probable, however, that the commanding site occupied by the present castle was originally that of a strong military post, built and garrisoned by the Romans, the ruins of which were converted into a Norman fortress by William Fitzosborne.

In the view from the right bank of the Wye, the western gate is seen in all its elegant and massive proportions. The square tower, with its machicolated parapet, angular turrets, and vertical balustrariæ—through which flights of arrows or other missiles met the assailants—give a striking foreground to the picture; while the contiguous towers and bastions, lessening as they recede, and assuming new and often fantastic shapes, present a vast and highly diversified mass of buildings. Here clothed with trees and shrubs, there jutting forward in bare and broken fragments, and here again rising sheer and high from the water’s edge, their huge blocks of masonry seem as if they were rather the spon{24}taneous work of nature than the laborious productions of art. In this view are comprised the whole line of embattled walls flanking the river, the new bridge, and part of the lower town; the rocky boundaries to the southward, with the modern quay, where the daily steamer discharges her cargo and passengers. The precipitous cliffs, by which the river is there confined, terminate upwards in wooded and pastoral scenes—enlivened here and there by cottages and farms, which command some remarkable and striking views of the river, the town and castle, with its western landscapes of hill, forest, and park-like scenery. A short way beyond the extreme verge of the engraving, the river Wye will shortly be spanned by a magnificent bridge, part of the South Wales Railway, now in progress.

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An arched Chamber, cut in the natural rock overhanging the river at a great height, is supposed to have been used as a prison, but more probably as a store-room; for, by anchoring the boats close to the rock, their cargoes for the service of the garrison, whether provisions[28] or ammunition, could be easily hoisted into security by means of a windlass; and no doubt, under the cloud of night, and{25} with a spring-tide, many a goodly bark has been thus relieved of its freight; nor is it improbable that adventurous captives may have thus found their way to some friendly bark, and regained their freedom.[29] In the hands of a skilful romance writer, this scene might be turned to excellent account—more particularly if the descending basket contained a damsel “flying from tyrants jealous,” and her lover-knight stood in the boat to receive her—all heightened by such dramatic machinery as midnight, with the tender hopes and imminent hazards of the enterprise, would easily supply. But all this is foreign to the spirit of archæology, which turns with disdain from such puerile vanities, and beckons us forward to the breach where the iron balls of the Commonwealth were directed with such fury in the last assault. Their batteries played from the opposite height, which the guide will point out as the commanding position which rendered the cause of the defenders so useless and desperate, and added another triumph to the Parliamentary cannon.

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The Passage, or gallery, leading down to the vaulted chamber, is accurately shown in the annexed woodcut. It has an air of Gothic antiquity that harmonizes well with the place, for its pointed style and proportions clearly show that it belongs to the earliest portion of the structure. The massive arch, seen through the opening, is that of the mysterious chamber already noticed. The window,[30] terminating the vista, overlooks the river, and seems to project from the precipitous rocks that{26} here form an impregnable barrier to the fortress; and even when the tide is at its full, the window seems suspended at a dizzy height above the water. The uses to which the passage and its chamber were originally applied, were probably those of a temporary refuge and retreat; and were, no doubt, well understood and appreciated by the Norman castellan, to whom the means of successful resistance or safe retreat were the grand objects in a feudal residence.

Such are the general features of this ancient stronghold.[31] But on the minuter points of its history, architecture, and internal arrangements, our restricted limits will not permit us to enlarge; but, aided by faithful engravings and woodcuts, the descriptions, however brief, may serve to convey a detailed and correct notion of the whole.

Persefield.—In the immediate environs, many objects are found to invite the traveller’s attention; but, as a combination of rich English scenery, the attractions of Persefield, or Piercefield, stand pre-eminent. The house and grounds are thus briefly described: The latter extend westward along the precipitous banks of the Wye, as shown in the engraving. On the north is the Wind-Cliff, or Wynd Cliff. The grounds are divided into the lower and upper lawn by the approach to the house, a modern edifice, consisting of a stone centre and wings, from which the ground slopes gracefully but rapidly into a valley profusely shaded with ornamental trees. To give variety to the views, and disclose the native grandeur of the position, walks have been thrown open through the woods and along the precipitous margin of the river, which command the town, castle, and bridge of Chepstow, with the Severn in the distance, backed by a vast expanse of fertile valleys and pastoral hills. But to describe the romantic features of this classic residence with the minuteness they deserve, would far exceed our limits; it is a scene calculated to inspire the poet as well as the painter; and it is gratifying to add that, by the taste and liberality of the owner, strangers are freely admitted to the grounds and walks of Persefield.

The Wynd Cliff.—This lofty eminence commands one of the finest and most varied prospects in the United Kingdom; while the scenery of the Cliff has a particular charm for every lover of the picturesque. Poet, painter, and historian, have combined their efforts to make it a place of pilgrimage; but, to be seen in all its beauty, the rich and various tints of autumn and a bright sun are indispensable accessories. It may be called the “Righi” of the Wye, commanding a vast circumference of fertile plains and wooded hills, all enlivened

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Chepstow Castle and Town.

From the Windcliff.


with towns, villages, churches, castles, and cottages; with many a classic spot on which the stamp of history is indelibly impressed—names embodied in our poetry, and embalmed by religious associations. From the edge of the precipice, nearly a thousand feet in height, the prospect extends into eight counties—Brecon, Glamorgan, Monmouth, Hereford, Gloucester, Wilts, Somerset, and Devon.

For the enjoyment of this inspiring scene, every facility has been supplied; and even the invalid tourist, with time and caution, may reach the summit without fatigue. “The hand of art,” says the local guide, “has smoothed the path up the declivity, tastefully throwing the course into multiplied windings, which fully accord with its name, and the nature of the scenery which it commands. At every turn some pendant rock girt with ivy, some shady yew, or some novel glimpse on the vale below, caught through the thick beechy mantle of this romantic precipice, invite the beholder to the luxury of rest.” Still ascending, the tourist penetrates a dark-winding chasm, through which the path conducts him in shadowy silence to the last stage of the ascent, which gradually discloses one of the most enchanting prospects upon which the human eye can repose. From the platform to the extreme verge of the horizon, where the Downs of Wiltshire and the Mendip hills form the boundary line, the eye ranges over a vast region of cultivated fields, waving forests, and populous towns, sufficient of themselves to furnish the resources of a principality.

The pens of Reed, Warren, and Gilpin, have been successively employed in sketching the features of this magnificent panorama; but nothing can be more correct and graphic than the following description by Fosbroke:—“What a cathedral is among churches, the Wynd Cliff is among prospects. Like Snowdon, it ought to be visited at sunrise, or seen through a sunrise-glass called a Claude, which affords a sunrise view at mid-day, without the obscuration of the morning mist. This cliff is the last grand scene of the Piercefield drama. It is not only magnificent, but so novel, that it excites an involuntary start of astonishment; and so sublime, that it elevates the mind into instantaneous rapture. The parts consist of a most uncommon combination of wood, rock, water, sky, and plain—of height and abyss—of rough and smooth—of recess and projection—of fine landscapes near, and excellent prospective afar,—all melting into each other, and grouping into such capricious lines, that, although it may find a counterpart in tropic climes, it is, in regard to England, probably unique. The spectator stands upon the edge of a precipice, the depth of which is awful to contemplate, with the river winding at his feet. The right screen is Piercefield ridge, richly wooded; the left is a belt of rocks, over which, northward, appears the Severn, with the fine shores between Thornbury and Bristol, rising behind each other in admirable swells, which unite in most graceful{28} curves. The first foreground appears to the eye like a view from the clouds to the earth, and the rich contrast of green meadows to wild forest scenery,—the farm of Llancaut, clasped in the arms of the winding river, backed by hanging wood and rock. The further horn of the crescent tapers off into a craggy informal mole, over which the eye passes to a second bay; this terminates in Chepstow Castle, the town and rocks beyond all mellowed down by distance, into that fine hazy indistinctness which makes even deformities combine into harmony with the picture.”[32]

An observatory, the guide informed us, was intended some years since to have crowned this noble eminence, and a subscription was got up for the purpose; but some difference having arisen between the projectors of the scheme and the proprietor of the land, it was dropped. It was suggested by a local writer, that a few Doric columns with architraves, however rude, would have had an imposing effect on the summit of the Wynd Cliff, and reminded the classic traveller of the ruined temple of Minerva on the Sunium promontory. “It might,” he says, “be partially immersed in wood; while, in the native rock, niches might be hollowed out; and on a tablet, at the finest point of view, the following words should be inscribed:—Valentine Morris[33] introduced these sublime scenes to public view. To him be honour: to God praise.”[34] This is concise and classical; but it is reserved probably for another generation to witness the completion of the design.

The whole scene, from this point to the Abbey of Tinterne, presents an uninterrupted combination of picturesque and romantic features. Above are hanging cliffs, richly clothed in variegated woods, perfumed with flowers, irrigated by murmuring rivulets, fountains, and cascades, and rendered vocal by the songs of birds. These woody solitudes are the annual resort of nightingales, whose note is familiar to every late and early tourist, who with slow and lingering step measures his leafy way between Chepstow and Tinterne—unable to decide at what point of the road there is the richest concentration of scenery. It is, indeed, a sylvan avenue of vast and variegated beauty, reminding us of the softer features of Helvetian landscape.{29}

Far below, and seen only at intervals through its thick curtain of foliage, the classic Vaga continues its winding course. Here basking in sunshine, there sweeping along under shadowy cliffs—now expanding its waters over a broad channel, or rushing through deep ravines, it is often enlivened by boats laden with produce, or visitors in pleasure-barges, who make the “descent of the Wye,” as, in former days, pilgrims made that of the Rhine and Danube; for the boats that perform the trip from Ross to Chepstow, make, in general, but one voyage, and are otherwise employed or broken up at its conclusion—

Facilis descensus Averni—
Sed revocare gradum.

It is but recently, says a periodical authority, that the Wye has become at all frequented on account of its scenery. About the middle of last century, the Rev. Dr. Egerton, afterwards Bishop of Durham, was collated by his father to the rectory of Ross, in which pleasant town, situated on the left bank of the river, and just at the point where its beautiful scenery begins, the worthy doctor resided nearly thirty years. He was a man of taste, and had a lively enjoyment of the pleasures of society amidst the beautiful scenery of his neighbourhood. His chief delight was to invite his friends and connections, who were persons of high rank, to pay him summer visits at Ross, and then to take them down the Wye—

“Pleased Vaga echoing through its winding bounds,”—

which, as well as the town of Ross, had derived a new interest from the lines of Pope. For this purpose, we are told, Dr. Egerton built a pleasure-boat; and, year after year, excursions were made, until it became fashionable in a certain high class of society to visit the Wye. But when the rector of Ross was consecrated to the see of Durham, his pleasure-boat, like that of the Doges of Venice and Genoa, was suffered to rot at anchor; and with no successor of similar means and taste to follow his example, excursions on the Wye became unfrequent, because no longer fashionable. Yet the beauties of the scenery once explored, became gradually more attractive; and some pilgrim of Nature, deviating now and then from the beaten track, spoke and sang of its beauties, until, having again caught the public ear, it was admitted that we had a “Rhine” within our own borders—with no vineyards and fewer castles, but with a luxuriance of scenery peculiarly its own, and with remains of feudal and monastic grandeur which no description could exaggerate. Mr. Whately, a writer on landscape gardening, and an exquisite critic, first directed attention to the new weir at Tinterne Abbey, and one or two other scenes on its banks; and, in 1770, the Wye was visited by William Gilpin, who did good service{30} to taste and the lovers of nature by publishing his tour. The same year, a greater name connected itself with the Wye—for it was visited by the immortal author of the “Elegy in a Country Churchyard.” “My last summer’s tour,” says Gray, in one of his admirable letters to Dr. Wharton, “was through Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, and Shropshire—five of the most beautiful counties in the kingdom. The very principal sight and capital feature of my journey was the river Wye, which I descended in a boat for nearly forty miles, from Ross to Chepstow. Its banks are a succession of nameless beauties.”[35] The testimony thus bequeathed to it by the illustrious Gray, has been confirmed and repeated by Wordsworth, while other kindred spirits, following each other in the same track, have sacrificed to Nature at the same altar, and recorded their admiration in immortal song:—

... “Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion, and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
“How oft,
In darkness, and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight, when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart—
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer through the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!”
Wordsworth, July 13, 1798.

Authorities quoted or referred to in the preceding article:—Dugdale’s Monasticon.—Baronage.—Camden’s Britannia.—Leland’s Itinerary.—County History.—Local Guides: Heath.—Wood.—De la Beche.—Williams.—Thomas.—Roscoe.—Burke’s Peerage and Commoners.—Chronicles.—Giraldus Cambrensis.—William of Worcester.—History of the Commonwealth.—Life of Cromwell.—Notes by Correspondents.—MS. Tour on the Wye, 1848; with other sources, which will be found enumerated in the article upon Tinterne Abbey.

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“There are some, I hear, who take it ill that I mention monasteries and their founders; I am sorry to hear it. But, not to give them any just offence, let them be angry if they will. Perhaps they would have it forgotten that our ancestors were, and we are, Christians; since there never were more certain indications and glorious monuments, of Christian piety than these.”—Camden’s Britannia, Pref. Ages of Faith, Book xi.

The Abbey of Tinterne, though one of the oldest in England, makes no conspicuous figure in its history, a proof that its abbots were neither bold nor ambitious of distinction, but devoted to the peaceful and retiring duties of their office. We do not find that the secluded Tinterne was ever the scene of any rebellious outbreak, or the refuge of any notorious criminal. From age to age, the bell that summoned to daily matins and vespers was cheerfully obeyed; and all they knew of the great world beyond the encircling hills, was learned, perhaps, from the daily strangers and pilgrims who took their meal and night’s lodging in the hospitium.{32}

The name of Tinterne, as etymologists inform us, is derived from the Celtic words din, a fortress, and teyrn, a sovereign or chief; for it appears from history, as well as tradition, that a hermitage, belonging to Theodoric or Teudric, King of Glamorgan, originally occupied the site of the present abbey; and that the royal hermit, having resigned the throne to his son Maurice, “led an eremitical life among the rocks of Dindyrn or Tynterne.” It is also mentioned, as a remarkable coincidence in history, that two kings, who sought Tinterne as a temporary place of refuge, only left it to meet violent deaths. The first was Theodoric, who was slain in battle by the Saxons, under Ceolwilph, King of Wessex, in the year 600, having been dragged from his seclusion by his own subjects, in order that he might act once more as their leader. The next was “the unfortunate King Edward,[36] who fled from the pursuit of his queen,” Isabella. The Welsh monarch is said to have routed the Saxons at Mathern, near Chepstow, where his body was buried. Bishop Godwin says, that he there saw his remains in a stone coffin; and on the skull, after the lapse of nearly a thousand years, the wound of which he died was conspicuous—thus verifying the tradition as to the place and manner of his death.

Nothing could be more happily chosen for the seat of a religious community, than the beautiful valley of which these ruins are the unrivalled ornament. It would be difficult to picture, even with the aid of a fertile imagination, scenes more fitted to cherish devout feelings; to instruct us, from the tranquil bosom of Nature, to look up to Nature’s God; and in the exclusion of the busy world, to feel aspirations of gratitude continually ascending towards Him who enriched the valley with his bounty, and in homage to whom that temple and its altars were first erected. The latter, as the work of man, and a prey to neglect and violence, have disappeared or crumbled into ruins; but the former, as the work of God, has lost nothing of its original beauty. The woods that curtain the scene; the river that sweeps along under pendent cliffs of oak; the meadows and orchards that cover and adorn its banks,—all continue as luxuriant, as copious and abundant, as verdant and blooming, as on that day when the first pilgrim-father planted his cross in the soil, and consecrated the spot to the service of God.

It has been often observed—and the observation is confirmed by fact—that those venerable ascetics, who acted as pioneers in the army of Christian pilgrims, were no mean judges of soil and climate, and generally chose some fertile spot upon which nature had bestowed her special favour. But many instances{33} may be pointed out where they chose even the inhospitable desert for their habitation; and, by unremitting labour, transformed that desert into a garden. To the personal example of those ancient Cistercians, the country is indebted for many improvements in all branches of cultivation and embellishment. From the model-garden and orchard of the monastery, hints were communicated and lessons taught, which found their way into every part of the country, and carried with them the principal arts of civilization and improvement. Thus, what first gave a prosperous agriculture to our own shores, is still in operation upon the barbarous islands of the Pacific, where Christian missions, religious fraternities, are busily propagating, by their own example, those domestic and mechanical arts which are the safest and best introduction to religious knowledge. Of this happy influence on the minds and habits of the peasantry, none of the monastic orders was more fully sensible than the Cistercians, whose laborious but abstemious lives, sumptuous temples, and gorgeous ritual, threw an air of luxury upon every spot where the Order had once set its name.[37]

From the shadowy woods which shelter and encompass it, Tinterne may be justly denominated the Vallis umbrosa of Monmouth; but the fertility of the soil, and solemn retirement of the scene, so desirable for a great sanctuary in the “Ages of Faith,” had an immense advantage in the noble and navigable river which formed the channel of communication between the interior and the sea; and, like an artery supplying nutriment to the system, brought its supplies of provision or treasure to the very gate of the abbey. And many a goodly cargo of corn from Hereford, and wine from Normandy, has been disembarked at that old pier, where the abbot’s galley has degenerated into a clumsy ferryboat, with old Richard Tamplin, the ferryman, for its commander.

From ancient historical sources, which treat of the origin, progress, and dissolution of this abbey, we select the following materials:—The founder was Walter de Clare, a name famous in the annals of chivalry and church-building. The first stone was laid in the thirty-first year of the twelfth century; but more than a century and a half elapsed before its completion. In those days churches were the work of generations; and it was rarely, indeed, that the founder lived to witness the fulfilment of his vow. “These all died in faith.” In 1287, we are told the White Friars took possession of the edifice consecrated{34} to the Blessed Virgin,[38] and commenced those hallowed services which the Eighth Henry, by his sic volo, was destined to silence. These services, however, had lasted for centuries; and who shall say, during the lapse of barbarous times, how much crime was prevented, how much good effected, by those holy men. Shut out from the haunts and habits of secular life, they exercised their spiritual functions, we may charitably believe, in a manner that drew many penitents to their altar; and, in the midst of wars and tumults, displayed the sacred banner of peace, and published the doctrine of salvation. Their record is on high. And, in justice to the Cistercians, it must be confessed, that if less learned, they were more exemplary, and not more worldly, than some other fraternities of higher pretensions. They exercised and patronised agriculture; and planting themselves, as the rule directed, in the depths of forests, or on desert heaths, they drew from the earth such sustenance as it would yield to the hand of labour; and trusted to those who sought their spiritual aid and counsel, for the means of building and embellishing their altars.

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The order of Cistercians, as the reader is aware, made its appearance in England about the year 1128. In imitation of Christ and his twelve Apostles, the brotherhood was limited to twelve, with an abbot at their head, according to the rule of the Founder:—“Et sicut ille monasteria constructa, per duodecim monachos adjuncto patre disponebat, sic se acturos confirmabant.”—Mon. Ang. iv. 699. Their first establishment in England was at Waverley, in Surrey; and in the course of time, their numbers had so multiplied, that, shortly before the dissolution of religious houses, they had seventy-five monasteries, and twenty-six nunneries in this country. Their patriarch was St. Robert, Abbot of Molesme, a Benedictine monastery in the bishopric of Langres. This holy man becoming alarmed at the gradual decay of vital religion among the brotherhood, and their wilful neglect of the rules instituted by their founder, adopted measures for the immediate reformation of the order. Having obtained the Pope’s sanction in{35} support of his design, he chose twenty-one of the brethren, and retiring from Molesme to the neighbourhood of Chalons-sur-Saone, took up his abode in the wilderness[39] of Citeaux; where, under the protection of Otho, Duke of Burgundy, and the Bishop of Chalons, he laid the foundation of a religious house, in which the rules of St. Benedict were to be strictly enforced, and the character of his followers restored. But the wisdom and piety of Robert having introduced several improvements into the rules of St. Benedict, the brotherhood began to present features so distinct from the parent establishment, that, on the return of St. Robert to Molesme, his successor, Albericus, obtained a charter from the Pope, constituting the monks of Citeaux into an independent order—that of Cistercians, or Whitefriars. Their rules were positive and stringent; they involved the surrender of all secular affairs into the hands of lay brothers, so that their lives and labours might be exclusively devoted to the exercise of charity and the service of the altar. In their choice of localities for the establishment of new houses, they were enjoined, as already observed, to avoid cities, and go forth into the wilderness. This was favourable to pilgrimages; and with the fruits of these, and benefactions from all classes, what they had found a desert on their arrival, was speedily converted by labour and industry into a garden; and what was at first only a cell or chapel, was gradually extended into a church and abbey. The revenue of the order was divided into four parts—to the bishop, a fourth; to the priests, a fourth; to the exercise of hospitality, a fourth; and another fourth for the support of widows and orphans, the relief of the sick, and the repairs of churches and cloisters. And inasmuch as they could not find, either in the life or rule of St. Benedict,[40] that their founder had pos{36}sessed any churches, or altars, or ovens, or mills, or towns, or serfs; or that any woman was ever permitted to enter his monastery, or any dead to be buried there, except his sister; they therefore renounced all these things: “Ecce hujus seculi divitiis spretis cœperunt novi milites Christi cum paupere Christo pauperes inter se tractare, quo ingenio, quo artificio, quo se exercitio in hac vita se hospitesque divites et pauperes supervenientes quos ut Christum suscipere præcipit regula sustentarent.” For a time the Cistercians continued in exemplary observance of their rules: poverty and humility walked hand in hand; but, in proportion as their revenues increased, their discipline began to relax; a taste for luxury[41] succeeded; and whoever has visited their splendid abbeys abroad, will readily confess that, while professing abstinence and self-denial, they were lodged like princes, and like princes shared in the vanities and pleasures of the world. Their ruling passion was said to be avarice; but if they amassed riches, they spent them with a princely liberality; and their buildings, in this and other countries, present some of the finest specimens of taste ever raised by the hand of man.[42]

Cistercians were Benedictines, according to the letter of the rule, without mitigation.[43] Their peculiarities are thus described in Dugdale’s Warwickshire:[44]—“First, for their habits, they wear no leather or linen, nor indeed any fine woollen cloth; neither, except it be on a journey, do they put on any breeches, and then, after their return, deliver them fair washed. Having two coats with cowls, in winter time they are not to augment, but in summer, if they choose, they may lessen them; in which habit they are to sleep, and after matins not to return to their beds. For prayers, the hour of Prime, they so conclude, that before the Lauda it may be daybreak, strictly observing their rule, that not one iota or tittle of their service is omitted. Immediately after Lauda, they sing the Prime; and after Prime, they go out performing their appointed hours in work. What is to be done in the day, they act by daylight; for none of them, except he be sick, is to be absent from his diurnal hours or{37} Complinæ. When the Compline is finished, the steward of the house and he that hath charge of the guests go forth, but with great care of silence serve them.

For diet, “the Abbot assumes no more liberty to himself than any of his convent, everywhere being present with them, and taking care of his flock, except at meat, in regard his talk is always with the strangers and poor people. Nevertheless, when he eats, he is abstemious of talk or any dainty fare; nor hath he or any of them ever above two dishes of meat; neither do they eat of fat or flesh, except in case of sickness; and, from the ides of September till Easter, they eat no more than once a day, except on Sunday, and not even on festivals.

“Out of the precincts of their cloyster they go not but to work; neither there nor anywhere do they discourse with any but the abbot or prior. They unweariedly continue their canonical hours, not piecing any service to another, except the vigils for the deceased. Their manual labour was as follows: In summer, after Chapter, which followed Prime, they worked till Tierce; and, after Nones, till Vespers. In winter, from after Mass till Nones, and even to Vespers, during Lent. In harvest, when they went to work in the farms, they said Tierce and the conventual Mass immediately after Prime, that nothing might hinder their work for the rest of the morning; and often they said divine service in their places where they were at work, and at the same hours as those at home celebrated in the church.[45]

“They observe the office of St. Ambrose, so far as they can have perfect knowledge thereof from Millain; and, taking care of strangers and sick people, do devise extraordinary afflictions for their own bodies, to the intent their souls may be advantaged.” Of the same Order—

Hospinian says—“They allowed to candidates a year’s probation, but no reception to fugitives after the third time. All fasts were observed according to the rule: to visitors prostration was enjoined, with washing of feet. At the Abbot’s table sat the guests and pilgrims: they laboured more than the rule required: delicate habits were exploded: obsolete and primitive fervour was diligently revived and practised. But of this powerful order, avarice was the besetting vice: they were great dealers in wool, generally very ignorant, and, in fact, farmers rather than monks.”[46] The best account of this brotherhood, as Fosbroke has told us, is to be found in the Usus Cisterciensium; but of their habits and ceremonies further notice will be found when we come to treat of the more opulent houses. Guyot le Provins, first a minstrel, then a monk, has thus satirized them in a poem, which he called a bible, or, more properly, libel. The{38} Cistercian “abbots and cellarers have ready money, eat large fish, drink good wine, and send to the refectory, for those who do the work, the very worst. I have seen these monks,” he affirms, “put pig-sties in churchyards, and stables for asses in chapels. They seize the cottages of the poor, and reduce them to beggary.”—With this brief account of the Order, we return to the subjects selected for illustration.

In a historical sketch, by the late Archdeacon Coxe, the ruins of Tinterne Abbey are thus described, and his description is at once accurate and graphic:—

“We stopped to examine the rich architecture of the west front; but the door being suddenly opened, the inside perspective of the church called forth an instantaneous burst of admiration, and filled us with delight, such as I scarcely ever before experienced on a similar occasion. The eye passes rapidly along a range of elegant Gothic pillars, and, glancing under the sublime arches which once supported the tower, fixes itself on the splendid relics of the eastern window—the grand termination of the choir.

“From the length of the nave, the height of the walls, the aspiring form of the pointed arches, and the size of the east window, which closes the perspective, the first impressions are those of grandeur and sublimity. But as these emotions subside, and we descend from the contemplation of the whole to the examination of the parts, we are no less struck with the regularity of the plan, the lightness of the architecture, and the delicacy of the ornaments. We feel that elegance, no less than grandeur, is its characteristic, and that the whole is a combination of the beautiful and the sublime. The church, constructed in the shape of a cathedral, is an excellent specimen of Gothic architecture in its purity. The roof has long since fallen in, and the whole ruin is thus thrown open to the sky; but the shell is entire: all the pillars are standing, except those which divided the nave from the northern aisle, and their situation is marked by the remains of their bases. The four lofty arches which supported the tower, spring high in the air, reduced to narrow rims of stone, yet still preserving their original form. The arches and pillars of the transepts are complete: the shapes of all the windows may yet be discriminated; the frame of the west window is in perfect preservation, the design of the tracery is extremely elegant, and, when decorated with painted glass, must have produced a gorgeous effect. The general form of the east window is also entire, but its frame is much dilapidated. It occupies the whole breadth of the choir, and is divided into two large and equal compartments by a slender shaft, not less than fifty feet in height, with an appearance of singular lightness, which, in particular points of view, seems as if suspended in the air. To these decorations of art, nature has added her own ornaments. Some of the windows are wholly obscured, others partially shaded, with tufts of ivy, or edged with lighter foliage:

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W.H. Bartlett A. Willmore




the tendrils creep along the walls, wind round the pillars, wreath the capitals, or, hanging down in clusters, obscure the space beneath. But instead of dilapidated fragments, overspread with weeds and choked with brambles, the floor is covered with a smooth verdant turf, which, by keeping the original level of the church, exhibits the beauty of its proportions, heightens the effect of the gray stone, gives relief to the clustered pillars, and affords an easy access to every part. Ornamented fragments of the roof, remains of cornices and columns, rich pieces of sculpture, carved stones and mutilated figures of monks and warriors, whose ashes repose within these walls, are scattered on the green sward, and contrast present desolation with former splendour.”

Although the exterior appearance of these ruins is not equal to the inside view, yet in some positions—particularly to the east—they present themselves with considerable effect. From a point on its left bank, and about half a mile down the river, the ruins assume a new character; and seeming to occupy a gentle eminence, impend over the river without the intervention of a single cottage to intercept the view. “The grand east window, wholly covered with shrubs, and half-mantled with ivy, rises like the portal of a majestic edifice embowered in wood. Through this opening, and along the vista of the church, the clusters of ivy, which twine round the pillars or hang suspended from the arches, resemble tufts of trees; while the thick mantle of foliage, seen through the tracery of the west window,[47] forms a continuation of the perspective, and appears like an interminable forest.”

The Abbey is a cruciform structure, built, it is said, after the model of Salisbury Cathedral,[48] consisting of a nave, north and south aisles, transepts, and choir. Its length from east to west is two hundred and twenty-eight feet, and from north to south, at the transepts, one hundred and fifty feet. The nave and choir are thirty-seven feet in breadth; the height of the central arch is seventy feet, of the smaller arches thirty feet; of the east window sixty-four feet, and of the west window forty-two feet. The total area originally enclosed by the walls of the abbey is said to have been thirty-four acres.

The exterior of the western front is singularly striking; but, on entering, as{40} already observed, the scene that represents itself is indescribably grand and impressive. “When we stood at one end of this awful ruin,” says Gilpin, “the elements of earth and air its only covering and pavement, and the grand and

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venerable remains which terminated both, perfect enough to form the perspective, yet broken enough to destroy the regularity, the eye was above measure delighted with the beauty, the grandeur, the novelty of the scene.”

The inner walls of the church are nearly entire; most of the elegant and massive columns, as already noticed, which separated the nave from the south aisle are yet standing; and the four lofty and magnificent arches which formerly supported the central tower are nearly perfect. The columns that divided the nave from the north aisle have fallen; but their bases still occupy the ground, showing their number, shape, and dimensions.

Windows.—The magnificent windows are little altered by time: and though somewhat obscured by a luxuriant and graceful drapery of ivy, the tendrils of which twine in their tracery, creep along the walls, encircle the columns, and form natural wreaths around the capitals, the forms of the principal objects are still so far preserved as to be easily discriminated. The tracery of the western{41} window, as already observed, is exquisite; while the eastern window,[49] high and graceful, and occupying nearly the whole breadth of the choir, with its slender umbilical shaft rising to a height of fifty feet, and diverging at the top into rich flowery traces, has quite a magical effect. The other windows, though less ornamented, are all in character, and have the same elegant design and finish.[50]

The floor, originally covered with encaustic tiles, is now enveloped in a thick smooth matting of grass, trimmed like a bowling-green, and here and there spotted with little heaps of mutilated sculpture, and striped with flat tombstones—all thrown open to the winds of heaven.

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The effigy of a knight in chain armour, a pavache shield, and crossed legs, is supposed to be that of Strongbow, first Earl of Pembroke, already noticed, but more probably that of Roger Bigod, as Strongbow is historically known to have been buried in Dublin. This interesting relic, that had escaped the ravages of time and the hostile spirit of resolution, was at last, as Mr. Thomas informs us, wilfully mutilated by a native of the village.[51]{42}

The next relic is a group of the Madonna and Child, much disfigured, but with sufficient evidence of its having been the work of a skilful artist. Mr. Bartlett considered it to be of very graceful design and execution.

Near the eastern window is the sculptured head of a friar, with the tonsure, but otherwise quite disfigured.

In the centre, between the transepts, is another broad stone slab, supposed to cover the ashes of the founder; but the fall of the tower, and the continual dropping of loosened fragments—until the ruin became an object of interest and consideration—have not left one of the sepulchral tablets or inscriptions entire. Many fragments may be discovered among the rubbish, but to reunite the scattered members were a very hopeless task. In the southern aisle is the only sepulchral antiquity that bears a legible inscription. It is elaborately carved in black or slate marble, with a cross finely sculptured on its surface longitudinally, and near its base three trouts,[52] so entertwined as to form the symbolic triangle, with the figure of a salmon on the right and left. The inscription, in black letter, along the top of the cross, is simple—

Hic jacet humatus Johann: Willino.

The sepulchral brasses have all disappeared. For a century and more after the Dissolution, the Abbey appears to have been abandoned to every species of wilful depredators, who defaced the altars, ransacked the graves, and carried off without molestation whatever was curious or portable.

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In the same aisle, close to the wall, and now preserved with great care, is the lately-discovered pavement of encaustic tiles, with escutcheons of the ancient Clare and Bigod families intertwined. The figures on these coloured tiles represent flowers, animals, and knights in full career at a tournament. This pavement was probably that of a private altar, belonging to the founder, or benefactor of the Abbey. In the process of clearing away the vast accumulation of rubbish, many of the ancient memorials were removed in fragments; and of the few that remain, not one, probably, now covers the dust over which it was originally placed.

Leaving the grassy lawn-like floor of the Abbey, the ascent to the top is still practicable by means of a spiral staircase in an angle of the northern tran{43}sept. Those who conclude their survey of the ruins by this experiment, will be amply rewarded for any fatigue it may occasion. At the time of our visit, however, in the month of August last year, some unexpected obstacle prevented the custodier from gratifying our curiosity by a view from the summit: for the steps were either so unsafe or deficient, as to make the experiment rather hazardous.

Mr. Thomas, from whose notes we have already quoted, and whose late professional residence near the Abbey rendered him familiar with all its minutest features, tells us that the prospect it commands is highly picturesque; and in turning from the outward landscape, to look down into the cloistered depths below, the view of clustering pillars, lofty arches, mullioned windows, and flowing tracery, is indescribably grand and impressive.

The broken summit of the walls, throughout its whole outline, is adorned with a profusion of shrubs and flowers, that, with interlacing leaves and tendrils, cover the mouldering coping like a fragrant mantle. Where the labour of man appears to decay, nature has put forth her vigour and beauty, and transformed those roofless walls into a wild botanic garden. Here, and amidst the débris immediately adjoining, Mr. Thomas[53] found a luxuriant crop of shrubs and flowers, all of different families, some of them rare, and in number between forty and fifty.

Reed, in his ‘Remains,’ gives the following eloquent and highly poetical description of the Abbey by moonlight:—“The great tree or vegetable rock, or emperor of the oaks, if you please, before which I bowed with a sort of reverence in the fields of Tinterne, and which for so many ages has borne all the blasts and bolts of heaven, I should deem it a gratification of a superior kind to approach again with an ‘unsandalled foot,’ to pay the same homage, and to kindle with the same devotion. But I should find amidst the magnificent ruins of the adjoining Abbey, something of a sublime cast, to interest and give pregnancy to my feelings. I must be alone. My mind must be calm and pensive. It must be midnight. The moon, half-veiled in clouds, must be just emerging from behind the neighbouring hills. All must be silent, except the wind gently{44} rustling among the ivy of the ruins; the river lulling, by its faint murmurings, its guardian genius to repose; and the owl, whose funereal shriek would some time die along the walls in mysterious echoes. I should then invoke the ghosts of the Abbey; and Fancy, with one stroke of her magic wand, would rouse them from their dusty beds, and lead them into the centre of the ruin. I should approach their shadowy existences with reverence; making inquiries respecting the customs, and manners, and genius, and fate of antiquity—desire to have a glimpse of the destiny of future ages, and enter upon conversations which would be too sacred and even dangerous to communicate.” The lines by Sir Walter Scott, on “Melrose Abbey by Moonlight,” are equally descriptive of Tinterne.[54]

It has been well observed, that, as the Abbey of Tinterne is the most beautiful and picturesque of all our Gothic monuments, so is the situation one of the most sequestered and delightful. One more abounding in that peculiar kind of scenery which excites the mingled sensations of content, religion, and enthusiasm, it is impossible to behold. There, every arch infuses, as it were, a solemn energy into inanimate nature; a sublime antiquity breathes mildly in the heart; and the soul, pure and passionless, appears susceptible of that state of tranquillity which is the perfection of every earthly wish.[55] By the late Sir C. Colt Hoare, a man of taste and many travelled acquirements, this “seat of devotion, solitude, and desolation,” is pronounced as surpassing every other ruin he had seen in England or in Wales. Captain Barber, whose “Tour” is now very scarce, was so charmed with the scene, that he locked himself up in the Abbey, and employed several hours in delineating its picturesque features.

From the general aspect of this venerable pile—a coup d’œil that never fails to captivate the stranger—we proceed to a few detached features of the picture, all more or less interesting as relics of men, and times, that have long passed away.

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Walter de Clare, the founder, was grandson of Osbert, Lord of Tudenham and Wollaston, by gift of William the Conqueror.[56] He departed this life on the 10th of March, 1139, and dying without issue, was succeeded by his brother, Gilbert[57] de Clare, who survived him nine years, and dying on the 6th{45} of January, 1148, was buried in the church of Tinterne. This Gilbert de Clare left two sons by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Walleran, Earl of Melent—Richard, surnamed Strongbow, and Baldwin,[58] who, “fighting stoutly on the part of King Stephen, at the battle of Lincoln, was there taken prisoner.” Richard was one of the witnesses to that “solemn accorde,” made in 1153, between King Stephen, and Henry, Duke of Normandy, whereby the latter was to succeed to the crown of England after the king’s demise. In the year 1170 [16 Henry II.], the said Richard, Earl of Striguil or Pembroke, being stript of his paternal inheritance by King Henry II., invaded Ireland, and captured the cities of Dublin and Waterford. Soon after this event, when “the king, who was then at Argentine, was consulting with his nobles about an expedition into that realm; certain messengers from this earl being present, offered, on the part of Richard, the above-named cities, with all the castles which he had there captured, at the death of Dermot, king of Dublin, whose daughter and heiress he had married.” With this conciliatory offer, King Henry was so well pleased, that he restored to him all his lands, both in England and Normandy, and freely granted that he should enjoy all those in Ireland which he had received in dowery with his wife, constituting him at the same time constable or governor of that realm, and “thereupon passing thither, subdued it wholly without any considerable resistance.”

By the daughter of the said King of Dublin or Leinster, this last earl of his family, Richard Strongbow[59] left an only child, Isabel, who remained in ward fourteen years to the king, and was then given in marriage to William Marshall, who thereupon became Earl of Pembroke, Lord of Striguil, or Chepstow, and took possession of Leinster, with all the inheritance of the said Strongbow; and being thus advanced to that honour, he bore the royal sceptre of gold, with the cross on the head of it, at the solemn coronation of King Richard I.[60] The history of this family is given at full length in the Monasticon and Baronage of England, but it is much too diffuse for our purpose. William Marshall, who, by his marriage with Isabel, only child of Richard de Clare, came into possession of his estates and titles, was a great benefactor to the church; he built and endowed many religious houses both in England and Ireland; and having, by his last will and testament, constituted the abbot of St. Augustine’s at Bristol, and Henry Fitzgerald, his executors, he departed this life at Caversham, in the third of Henry II. Being thence carried to Reading, his body was received in solemn procession by the monks of the abbey, and placed in their choir, whilst mass was celebrated for him. It was then taken to Westminster, where{46} the solemnity was again performed, and on Ascension-day it was consigned to the earth[61] with the following epitaph:—

Sum qui Saturnum sibi sensit Hibernia: Solem
Anglia; Mercurium Normannia; Gallia Martem.

These complimentary lines, meant to record his virtues, are characteristic of the times when heathen mythology was so frequently called in to assist in the eulogy of some great champion or benefactor of the Christian church. He certainly appears to have merited all that could be said of him as a great mover and promoter of monastic fraternities—especially the Cistercians; and in the same strain, Matthew of Paris has recorded that this mighty earl was a severe tamer of the Irish, a great favourer of the English, achieved much in Normandy, and was an invincible soldier in France—“Miles strenuissimus, ac per orbem nominatissimus.”[62] But of the five sons whom he left behind, with the fair and flattering prospect that his name and titles would descend through many generations, all died prematurely and without issue. This deplorable fact was much commented upon at the time:—“Some did attribute it to God’s especial judgment, by reason that, when the said William, first earl, was a great commander in Ireland, and, according to the practice of soldiers, exercised such cruelties of fire and sword as usually accompany that sort of life, he took away by violence two fair manors from a reverend bishop there, and possessed himself of them as the acquisition of war; and that the bishop, after frequent and earnest entreaties for their restitution, without any effect, did thereupon pronounce the sentence of excommunication against him for the fact, which he the earl contemned.” The bishop,[63] having proceeded to London, made his grievous wrong known to the king, showing wherefore he had excommunicated the said earl. “Whereupon the king, then very pensive, desired the bishop that he should go to his grave and absolve him, and then he would satisfy his desire. Whereupon the bishop went, and the king with him, and spoke as followeth: ‘O William! who liest here buried, and shackled with the fetters of excommunication, if these lands which thou most injuriously didst take from my church, be restored with full satisfaction, either by the king or any of thy kindred or friends, I then absolve thee: otherwise, I ratify that sentence to this end, that, being wrapt up with thy sins, thou mayest remain condemned in hell.’

The king, who was “much displeased at these his expressions, blamed him for his ghostly rigour;” but anxious to remove the curse from the illustrious defunct, he sent private messages to the heir and his brothers, advising them in{47} a friendly manner to come to terms with the bishop, and thus “in mercy release their father’s soul.” But the brothers were obstinate; they would not restore even an acre of bog, nor a stock of timber; observing that, “as the old doting bishop hath pronounced the sentence unjustly, the curse will fall upon himself. For my part,” quoth the heir, “I will never lessen my patrimony descended to me by inheritance.” The king being still under tutelage, and fearing the resentment of so powerful a family, “forbore to displease them.” But the bishop, hearing thereof, was much grieved, taking more offence at their contumacy, than of the injury first done by their father; and going to the king, he said, “Sir, what I have spoken, I have spoken; and what I have written is not to be reversed: the sentence therefore must stand; the punishment of evil-doers is from God; and, therefore, the curse which the Psalmist hath written, shall come upon this earl, of whom I do thus complain. His name shall be rooted out in one generation, and his sons shall be deprived of the blessing—increase and multiply. Some of them shall die a miserable death, and their inheritance shall be scattered. And this, O king, thou shalt behold in thine own lifetime, yea, in thy flourishing youth.”

Having spoken “thus much in the bitterness of his spirit, the bishop departed thence, leaving the defunct earl enthralled with that curse. Whereupon it happened that, in a few years after, all his sons died without issue.”[64]

William, his successor, who, “in his father’s lifetime, had taken part with the barons, then in arms against the king, was one of those betwixt whom and the King those covenants were made, whereby the government of the realm was placed in xxv. of them, and the city of London thereupon put into their hands. Yea, so great a confidant was he of that rebellious pack, that they constituted him to be one of those xxv., for which respect amongst them he underwent the sentence of excommunication by the Pope. But upon the death of King John, which happened soon after, his noble father reduced him to obedience; so that he became loyal to King Henry the Third, and thereupon had a grant of the lands of Saier de Quinci, Earl of Winchester, and David, Earl of Huntingdon, two of those great rebels, for his support in the king’s service.”

A few years after this, “whilst he, the said William Marshall, was in Ireland, Leoline, Prince of Wales, took two of his castles; and having cut off the heads of those whom he found therein, manned them with his own soldiers. But when tidings thereof came to him, he soon returned into Wales; and{48} having, with a great power, won them again, took the like revenge upon the Welsh: and thinking this not enough, he invaded the lands of Leoline, and wasted them with fire and sword. Whereupon Leoline advanced towards him with all his strength, but to little purpose; for, encountering him in battle, the Marshall totally routed his whole army, of which to the number of nine thousand were slain and taken.” This earl married Eleanor, daughter of King John; and dying at Kilkenny, in 1231, was there buried in the choir of the Mendicant Friars.[65]

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Richard, his brother and successor, being irritated by the violent conduct of the king and his ministry, formed an alliance with Llewellyn ap Jowarth, Prince of Wales, and in 1233 defeated the king’s army at Grosmont; but with dutiful respect for his sovereign, he fell back with the Cambrian army before sunrise, to allow his Majesty’s retreat from the Castle of Gloucester. Henry, not appreciating the generous conduct of his reluctant foe, resisted this attack; and on the return of the Lord Marshall to his estates in Ireland, he was treacherously wounded to death at Kildare,[66] and there buried by the side of his brother William, whom he had survived only three years.

Gilbert, the third son, married a daughter of Alexander, King of Scotland, and died in 1242.

Walter Marshall, the fourth son, died at Goodrich Castle, in December, 1245. And—

Anselm, the fifth and last son of this doomed family, died like his brothers, childless, in the same month of the same year, in the Castle of Striguil or Chepstow, and was interred with his brother in Tinterne Abbey.

Of their five sisters, Eve, the youngest, married “William de Braliuse or Braose,[67] of whose family more hereafter.{49}

The male line in him having thus failed, Maude, their surviving sister, and heiress to the family possessions, was espoused to Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. From this alliance sprang two sons, Hugh and Roger, or Rudulfus. The younger of whom, Roger, in right of his mother, was installed lord-marshal of the kingdom, and granted a charter[68] to Tinterne Abbey, confirming those granted by the Clares and Marshalls, and adding large possessions to the brotherhood. Maude, on the death of her husband, Hugh Bigod, married John de Warren, Earl of Surrey; and departing this life, anno 1248, was buried in the Abbey of Tinterne; when her four sons—two by each marriage—carried her body into the choir. To prosecute the descent farther, would far exceed our limits; but readers who may feel curious to trace the genealogy of the founders, will find ample details in the Baronage, the Monasticon, and old chronicles.

Of Earl Roger it is told, that, being “openly reproached by the king as a traitor, he replied with a stern countenance that he lied; and that he, Bigod, never was, nor would be a traitor;” adding, “if you do nothing but what the law warranteth, you can do me no harm.” “Yes,” quoth the king, “I can thrash your corn and sell it, and so humble you.” “If you do so,” replied Bigod, “I will send you back the heads of your thrashers.”

The Hospitium, or guest-chamber, was generally a large room with columns, like the body of a church, and called palatium—the original meaning of which was a place of short residence. If a visitor came before dinner to the refectory, notice was given to the refectioner; if he was too late to dine with the convent, he staid in the locutorium, or parlour, until the refectory was swept, and then was introduced. The hosteler provided all things fit for Mass for the visitors; and if he was prevented, any one asked by him sang the mass and hours to them, for they had divine service as well as the convent. The visitors had meat and drink at solicitation, and the hosteler was to fetch the viands according to the rank of the person; all which, however, was accompanied with the appendage of a “soiled table cloth, very indifferent wine, grease in the salt, and a clownish servant.” The hospitaler[69] could not introduce them to the collation before the end of the first verse. When this was over, he lighted his lantern with which the visitors waited before the Chapter door. He then introduced them into the parlour, after which they had refection, and Complin was sung to them. When the visitors wished to depart before daybreak, or at that time, the hosteler took the keys of the parlour from the Prior’s bed; but on Sundays,{50} before procession, no one could receive the benediction, or ceremony of dismission.

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Persons of rank were received with processions and high honours. One of the great bells was struck three times, to give the monks notice of assembling in the church to robe themselves. Visitors were allowed to make a stay of two days and two nights, and on the third day, after dinner, they were to depart. If by accident a guest could not then go, the hosteler signified his request to the Abbot, or Prior, for a longer stay. If in health, he was to be present at Matins, and follow the convent in everything, unless he had leave to the contrary. Women were to be received who came with an honourable suite.[70] Particular attention was paid to the parents of monks, for whom necessaries and food were to be provided whenever they came to see their children—especially on the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, wheresoever they took refection, in the town or house; and they were to be honourably received on the Vigil.[71]

The Refectory, as described by monastic writers, was a large hall wainscoted on the north and south sides, and in the west and nether parts was a long bench of stone, in mason-work, from the cellar-door to the pantry, or cove-{51}door. It had a dresser in it: above the wainscot was a large picture of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and St. John; but in most places—and here perhaps—was the Cross or Crucifixion, to which, on entering the Fratry with washed hands, the monks made obeisance with their faces to the east. Within the door on the left was an Almery—where stood the grace-cup (the classical αγαθου δαιμονος), out of which the monks, after grace every day, drank round the table—and another large one on the right, with smaller within, where stood the mazers, of which each monk had his peculiar one, with a ewer and basin, which served the Sub-prior to wash his hands in at the table, of which he sat as chief.[72] At the west end was a loft above the cellar, ascended by stairs with an iron railing, where the convent and monks dined together, the Sub-prior sitting at the upper end of the table. At the south end of the high table, within a glass window-frame, was an iron desk, ascended by stone steps, with an iron rail, where lay a Bible, out of which one of the novices read a part in Latin during dinner. The readers at the table were to give ear to the Prior in case of error; and if they did not understand his correction, they were to begin the verse again, even repeatedly, until they comprehended the Prior’s meaning. When the reader had finished, the master of the novices rang a silver bell hanging over his head, to call one of them to come to the high table to say grace; a single stroke of this bell (skilla), signified the conclusion of the lecture or the meal.[73]

Hospitality, which the monastic rule enjoined upon all its professors, was faithfully practised by the Cistercians. The Refectory, as well as the Hospitium, or Guest Hall, of this Abbey, appears to have been an elegant and capacious chamber, with a vaulted stone roof supported on Gothic pillars, the massive bases of which still remain. But as the buildings were long thrown open as a stone quarry, for the use of the public, the squared and sculptured materials with which they were built and adorned, were employed for ages in constructing those shapeless hovels which now cluster, as if{52} in mockery, around the sacred pile, and show to what base uses in this changing world, even the masterpieces of art may be applied.

The Dole.—An opening in the wall of the refectory westward, shows the place where the monk appointed to that duty, administered to the poor their daily portion of bread and beer. To that door the hungry and the weary never applied in vain—

Pilgrim, whosoe’er thou art,
Worn with travel, faint with fear,
Halt, or blind, or sick of heart,
Bread and welcome wait thee here.

At the east end of the Refectory was “a neat table, with a screen of wainscot over it, for the master of the novices, the elects, and novices, to dine and sup at: two windows opened into the refectory from the great kitchen, one large for principal days, the other smaller for ordinary days; and through these the dishes were served. Over against the door in the cloister was a conduit or lavatory, for the monks to wash their hands and faces, of a round form, covered with lead, and all marble, excepting the outer wall, without which they might walk about the Tower. After the monks had waited a while on the Abbot, they sat down at two other tables, placed at the sides of the refectory, and had their service brought in by the novices, who, when the monks had dined, sat down to their own dinner. Fires in the refectory were ordered from All-hallows Day to Good-Friday, and the wood was found by the cellarer. Pinafores or super-tunics, to protect the clothes at dinner, are mentioned by Lynwood, and occur in foreign consuetudinals. Giraldus Cambrensis, on dining with the Prior of Canterbury, “noted sixteen dishes, besides intromels,” or entremets; “a superfluous use of signs, much sending of dishes from the Prior to the attending monks, and from them to the lower tables;” with “much ridiculous gesticulation in returning thanks, with much whispering, loose, idle, and licentious discourse;” herbs brought in but not tasted; numerous kinds of fish, roasted, boiled, stuffed, fried, eggs, dishes exquisitely cooked with spices; salted meats to provoke appetite; wines of various kinds; pimento made of wine, honey, and spices; with claret, mead, and other beverages. Respecting these, it was not unusual, says Barnard, to see brought a vessel half full to try the quality and flavour of the wine; and that, after proof thereof, the monks decided in favour of the strongest. Superior dinners were always given on the feasts of the Apostles; but it was not lawful, it seems, to eat the flesh of any animal nourished on the earth, because this had been cursed by God; but the curse not extending to air and water, birds were permitted, as created of the same element as fish. Hence the prohibition of quadrupeds; but as it was found

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The Refectory.

Tintern Abbey.


impossible for inland monasteries to have fish enough, to eat flesh became unavoidable.[74] However, to the great rule all their articles of food bore relation; namely, bread, beer, soup, beans for soup, all Lent; oats for gruel, on Thursdays and Saturdays, in that season; flour for pottage, every day in the same season; fried dishes, wastels, or fine bread for dinner and supper, on certain feasts; formictæ, or fine flour cakes, in Advent, Christmas, against Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and certain feasts; ‘fat things,’ which appear to have been bacon,[75] were frequent with the Præmonstratenses; black beans and salt, with the Clugniacks; general bad fare with the Cistercians. In certain solemnities, we are told the convent was in the habit of retiring with the Abbot, leaving a few in the refectory, in order to eat meat elsewhere; and that they frequently dined in ‘extra-cloister’ apartments, where “they used to invite women (devout nuns, perhaps) to talk, eat, and drink with them.”[76]

Diet was strictly prescribed; variety of viands was forbidden; flesh was allowed only to the sick or invalids; fish, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese, were not to be used on common days, but only on special occasions, as dainties or “pittances.”[77] None but their guests and the sick were allowed any other than brown bread; they might use the common herbs of the country; but pepper and other spices were forbidden.

These observations, quoted from various authorities, apply to the monastic Orders generally, among whom the regulations of the refectory appear to have been nearly the same; but that order to which the Abbey of Tinterne belonged, professed the greatest abstinence, mortified diet, and abhorrence of all luxuries. To the devout taste of St. Bernard, the most rigid rules were the most agreeable; and hence he became a Cistercian, the strictest of the monastic orders in France. At that time they were but few in number, for, owing to their excessive austerities, men were discouraged from joining them. Bernard, however, by his superior genius, his eminent piety, and his ardent zeal, gave to this Order a permanent lustre and celebrity. At the age of twenty-three, with more than thirty companions, he entered into the monastery, and was afterwards appointed Abbot of Clairval. To those noviciates who desired admission, he used to say—“If{54} ye hasten to those which are within, dismiss your bodies which ye brought from the world; let the spirit alone enter here; the flesh profiteth nothing.” “Yet, amidst all these disagreeable austerities,” says his biographer, “the soul of Bernard was inwardly taught of God; and as he grew in the divine life, he learned to correct the harshness and asperities of his sentiments.”

The Cistercian habit, as shown in the preceding woodcut, was a white robe in the nature of a cassock, with a black scapular and hood. Their garment was girt with a black girdle of wool; in the choir, they had over it a white cowl, and over that a hood, with a rochet hanging down, bound before to the waist, in a point behind to the calf of the leg. When they went abroad, they wore a cowl and a great hood, all black, which was also the choir habit.

The Lay Brothers of this Order were clad in a dark colour; their scapular hung down about a foot in length before, and was rounded at the bottom. Their hood was like that which the priests wore over their cowl, excepting the difference of the colour. In the choir they wore a cloak or mantle, reaching to the ground, and of the same colour as the habit.

The Novices, who were clerks, wore the same habit in the church, but it was all white; their scapular was not of the same length in all places, for sometimes it reached only half-way down the thigh, in others to the midleg, or even to the heels.[78]

The sumptuary regulations extended even to the ornaments of their churches, and the vestments of the ministers. The altar cloth, the alb, and the service, were to be of plain linen; the stole and maniple, which were at first of cloth, were allowed afterwards to be of silk. Palls, capes, dalmatics, and tunics, were forbidden. The crosses were to be of wood, painted; and it was forbidden to have them made of carved work, or of silver or gold. The cruets for the service of the altar, were not to be of gold or silver: the chalice and fistula might be of silver gilt; the candlesticks were to be iron, and the censers of iron or copper. Pictures or painted glass were not to be allowed in their churches; which in all monasteries of this order were dedicated to God, under the invocation of the Virgin Mary.

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Cistercians, according to the reformed rule, were obliged to perform their devotions together seven times every twenty-four hours. The Nocturnal, the first of these services, was performed at two o’clock in the morning; two Matins, or Prime, commenced at six o’clock; Tierce, at nine o’clock; the Sexte, at twelve o’clock; the None, at three in the afternoon; Vespers, at six; and the Compline, at seven o’clock in the evening. As{55} the monks retired to bed at eight, they had six hours to sleep before the Nocturnal began; and if they again betook themselves to rest, after that service, it was not considered any fault or infringement of the rule; but after matins, they were not permitted to have the same indulgence. At the first stroke of the convent-bell for prayers, they were to suspend all matters of business in which they might happen to be engaged at the moment; and those who copied books, or were employed in any kind of writing—even if they had begun a text letter—were not allowed to finish it. They were to fast every day in Lent, till six o’clock in the evening. During meals, as already mentioned in these pages, the Scriptures were read to them by one of the brethren, who performed this and other offices in weekly rotation. After the Compline, all conversation was prohibited, and they silently retired to rest. The dormitory was a long barrack-like room, not divided into separate cells, where each monk had his own bed furnished with a mat, blanket, coverlet, and a pillow which was not to exceed a foot and a half in length. When any of the fraternity went abroad, they always walked in couples, so that each might be a check upon the other, and incite him to edifying thoughts.[79]

At a General Chapter of the Cistercian Order, held in the year 1134, it was resolved that the rules of St. Benedict regarding diet, clothing, morals, and divine service, should continue to be strictly observed; and to these were added many new regulations for the suppression of luxury. It was directed that their monasteries, as already observed, should be founded in the most retired and solitary places; that the members of the Order should provide the necessaries of life by the labour of their hands. They were allowed, however, to possess lands, rivers, woods, vineyards, and meadows; with sheep, oxen, horses, and other domestic animals; but no deer nor bears, nor other animals kept merely[80] for pleasure. They were forbidden to possess tithes, the advowsons or revenues of churches, dues of ovens or mills, bond-servants, or even rents of lands.[81] The reason for these restrictions was, that they might not live by the labour of others; yet, upon the pretext of enabling the monks to live in greater retirement and abstraction from the world, they were allowed to admit into their community a certain number of lay brothers, called converts, whose office consisted in managing the secular business of the Convent, including the cultivation of their lands, in which they were permitted to employ hired servants. These lay brethren did not take the monastic vow; but in every other respect they were treated exactly like the professed monks.{56}

With regard to the extension of their order, no convent was allowed to send forth a colony, unless the community consisted of at least sixty monks, and held a license, both from the general chapter, and from the archbishop, or bishop. Each monastery, as we have said, was to consist of at least twelve monks and their superiors;[82] and before they could be brought to their new residence, the buildings required for their immediate accommodation were to be provided; namely, an oratory, a dormitory, a stranger’s cell, and a porter’s lodge. The books required for divine service, were also to be got ready. The superior of the new establishment was bound to pay a visit to the parent monastery once a year; and the Abbots of all the monasteries of the Cistercian order, were obliged to attend the General Chapter held annually at Cisteaux,[83] those only excepted, who were excused by sickness or distance. Abbots in Scotland, Ireland, and Sicily, were obliged to be present only every fourth year. In some cases it was even allowed to send delegates.[84]

Professions.—No person desirous of becoming a monk was suffered to enter upon his noviciate under fifteen years of age. The candidate having made his petition to be admitted, was, after four days, brought before the abbot, and a select number of the monks in the Chapter-house, where he threw himself down with his face to the ground. Being asked by the Abbot what he desired, he replied,—“The mercy of God and yours.” Upon this the Abbot made him stand up, and explained to him the strictness of the rules, and the self-denial required in keeping them; after which, he asked him if he was willing to submit to the restraint they imposed. Upon his replying in the affirmative, the Abbot admonished him, and when he concluded with these words,—“May God finish the good work which he hath begun in thee;” all who were present said, Amen! and then the candidate bowed, and retired to the guest-chamber.

A similar ceremony was observed when he was again introduced into the Chapter-house next day, after having read the rules of the Order. On the third day, he was admitted into the cell of the novices, and began the year of his probation; during which he was prepared and instructed for taking the vows, by a person called the Master of the Novices, who was usually one of the oldest and most learned of the monks. At the conclusion of the twelvemonth’s probation, when it was supposed he had had a sufficient trial of their discipline and manner of life, he was again formally interrogated; and if he persisted in his request, he was allowed to make his profession, and become a regular member{57} of the Order.[85] The following is a copy of the formulary used in English monasteries on such occasions:—

“The first petycion in the Collogium: ‘Syr, I besyche yow and alle the Convent for the luffe of God, our Ladye Sanct Marye, Sanct John of Baptiste, and alle the hoyle cowrte of hevyne, that ye wolde resave me to lyve and dye here emongs yow, in the state of a monke, a prebendarye and servant unto alle, to the honour of God, solace to the companye, prouffet to the place, and helth unto my sawle.’

“The answer unto the examinacyon: ‘Syr, I tryste through the helpe of God, and your good prayers, to keep alle these thyngs ye have now heyr rehersede.’

“The first petycion before the profession: ‘Syr, I have beyn heyr now this twellmonth nere hand, and lovyde be God, me lykes ryght well both the ordour and the companye. Whereupon I besyche yow, and all the companye, for the luffe of God, our Ladye Sanct Marye, Sanct John of Baptiste, and alle the hoyle companye of hevyn, that ye will resave me unto my profession, at my twellmonth day, according to my petycion which I made when I was first resaved heyr emongs yow.’[86]

The Cistercians, much to their honour, took considerable pains to cultivate and promote learning. The transcribing of books was one of the principal occupations in all their monasteries. A certain number of the brotherhood were constantly employed in the Scriptorium, in making copies of the most esteemed works, to furnish and augment the common library. None, however, were permitted to write new books, without first obtaining a license to that effect from the General Chapter. In the principal monasteries a chronicle was kept, in which the monks recorded, in Latin, the most remarkable events, both of general and local interest, that occurred within their knowledge.[87] The chronicle of Tinterne Abbey, as partly transcribed in the Monasticon, contains copies of those deeds and charters, by which former rights and privileges were confirmed, and new benefactions added; but it includes no chronicle of passing events, public or private.

Many and great were the privileges, franchises, and immunities granted to this Order in general, by sundry kings and pontiffs; and on some particular houses were conferred very special favours. The brothers of the order were exempted from appearing in any court, or at the trial of any cause whatever, if the distance from the monastery exceeded two days’ journey. They were exempted from tithes; the ordinary could not call upon, nor punish them for{58} any crime; neither could their houses be visited by any one, except their own abbot. Their benefactors, those who frequented their mills [molendini], as well as their friends and servants, were all exempted from the ban of excommunication.[88] Boniface XI. made an effort to relieve them still farther, by exempting them from the payment of tithes for their lands, though let out to others; but this was rejected by King Henry IV., who would not permit the bull for that purpose to be executed. The monks of Tinterne, in common with their brethren of that order, enjoyed all the privileges and immunities here named. They were great proficients in the science of agriculture; and from the skill manifested in the cultivation of the abbey lands, and in those occupied by their tenants, produced the happiest effects on that important branch of rural economy.

The Cloister, which is so often described in poetry as the abode of religious harmony, was nevertheless subject, at times, to all those unruly passions which in the world engender strife amongst brethren, and destroy the quiet of secular life. Every monastery contained within its own walls, those elements of malice and dissension, which it required no common energy on the part of the abbot to regulate and subdue. Perverse men, clothed in the robe of meekness, were a constant source of trial to those patterns of monastic discipline, who laboured to correct and reform them.[89] Persecution within the cloister existed occasionally under two forms: men of eminent sanctity suffered it from degenerate brethren, sometimes, simply on account of their superior justice; and at others, in consequence of their endeavours to reform them. Sometimes when the monastery fell under the dominion of an evil superior, the monks who persevered in sanctity fled from his persecution.[90]

The character of a good Cistercian monk, contrasted with one of an opposite disposition, is thus drawn:—It happened that the pious Gobert, a monk of Villars, having to undertake a journey for the arrangement of certain affairs, set out accompanied by one of the brothers named Peter. Arriving late in the evening at a town where they were to pass the night, they were fatigued and exhausted with the labour and heat of the day; and Peter, causing a table to be spread, drew from the bag he carried, abundant provisions, and then ordered cups to be served, and many things made ready for their repast. To the pious Gobert, all this seemed to be more than necessary, more than was consistent with perfect moderation, and his conscience silently accused him of yielding too readily to the force of temptation. But after both had supped, he did not venture to give utterance to the compunctious feelings that were then passing in his mind. Next morning, however, as they were again prosecuting their{59} journey through umbrageous lanes, he began meekly and humbly to disclose his thoughts; expressing his fears that the expense of the previous day had exceeded their wants; adding, that the patrimony of Christ ought not to be spent in superfluities, but given to the poor; that beneficed clerks are only dispensers of the Church, not lords of its substance; that when, in the words of St. Ambrose, we assist the poor, we give nothing of our own, but only that which the church appoints us to dispense; and, therefore, that ecclesiastical goods belong not to clerks, but to the poor.[91]

Saying these and other things that pressed heavily on his mind, Gobert lamented that he should have squandered the money which did not belong to him. But brother Peter did not receive this reproof with a humble mind; on the contrary, he became so angry that he did not answer him a word. Thus they rode on for nearly three hours, Peter all the while preserving a sullen and painful silence, which the holy Gobert observing, he tried to soothe and turn away his displeasure, by addressing him in terms of mild and brotherly affection. At last, seeing that he could make no impression upon him, he said, “My brother, it is time for us to discharge the service of hours to our Creator!” Whereupon, according to the custom of the Cistercians, they dismounted and knelt down to begin the office. In this posture of devotion, while brother Peter was prostrate on the earth, Gobert, with clasped hands turned towards him, and bursting into tears, humbly implored his forgiveness for having, by words of admonition and seeming reproof, moved his resentment. But as this did not appear to soften the monk’s obdurate heart, he continued his entreaties, and declared that he would not rise from his knees until he had forgiven him. At last, touched and overcome by so much Christian humility, brother Peter relented; and, taking Gobert by the hand, with feelings of mingled shame and contrition, raised him up; and having freely forgiven him,[92] and received his forgiveness, they went on their way rejoicing.

Thus far the chronicle, which the reader will find quoted in the Ages of Faith. “But,” says the learned author, “it was chiefly as reformers of their respective communities, that the holy men of monastic life suffered persecution.” In estimating the fortitude of those who laboured in this vineyard, it is to be observed, that specious arguments were never wanting to excuse the evil for which they sought a remedy. The monks of St. Benedict, according to Orderic Vitalis, who resisted the reform introduced by the Abbot Robert,[93] defended themselves on this ground, urging that the different circumstances of the times required a life different from that of the hermits of Egypt. “God forbid,” said they, “that valiant knights, that subtile philosophers, and eloquent doctors,{60} merely because they have renounced the world, should be obliged as mean slaves to occupy themselves in ignoble works.[94] On these occasions, however, the real source of hostility was seldom avowed. Much was advanced in the time of St. Bernard, in respect to the colour of habits; but St. Peter the Venerable disengaged the question from its adventitious appendages: “Perhaps,” said he, writing to St. Bernard, “there is another and a deeper cause for this dissension between the Clugniacs and the Cistercians—between the ancient and the modern communities. We are restorers of piety that was grown cold; we are distinguished from others in manners, as well as in habits and customs. This is the secret and urgent cause of the breach of charity and of tongues, that are sharpened like swords against us. And oh, how much to be deplored, if the abstinence, the purity of a whole life; if invincible obedience, if unbroken fasts, if perpetual vigils, if such a yoke of discipline, if so many palms of patience, if so many labours—not so much of an earthly, as of a celestial life—should be dissipated by one hiss of the serpent: how much to be deplored, if the old dragon should thus, in an instant, with one breath, dissipate all your treasures collected by the grace of God, and leave you empty in the sight of the Supreme Judge!”[95]

Of the miraculous legends connected with these institutions, the following, taken from the annals of a sister abbey,[96] may serve as a specimen:—One evening, three strangers knocked at the abbey gate, and being admitted to lodge there for the night, were immediately conducted into the church, as the rule of St. Benedict directs; and having there finished their devotions, they were led back to the Guest Chamber, and welcomed in by brother Walter. Thence, as soon as the ceremony of washing their feet was over, they were summoned to the Refectory; but scarcely had they taken their seats, when it was discovered that one of the strangers was missing, and his chair empty. “Where,” said the hospitaller, addressing the other two; “where is your companion?” “Companion!” said the strangers, greatly surprised at the question; “thy servants had no companion.” “Nay,” quoth the friar, “say not so, I pray you; for ’tis but this instant that I placed three at table, and he who sat betwixt you has left his chair empty.” “Nay, we assure thee,” rejoined the strangers, “that no third person entered with us, neither have we journeyed hither with any man; but, being overtaken by night, we came along to the abbey gate, nor have we spoken to any man, save only thyself.” Strong in his own conviction, friar Walter was immovable; and calling the porter and{61} another monk to his assistance, the fact of a third person having entered was confirmed by their united testimony. Hereupon the strangers could only repeat what they had already asserted; but to give it more solemnity, they called St. Benedict himself to witness the truth of their words. All was amazement; diligent search was made, but no foot had repassed the gate, nor was any stranger to be found in church or cloisters; so the two visitors, being spared all further question, were hospitably entertained for the night, and dismissed with the usual benediction. The next night, however, the hospitaller had a vision in his sleep: a personage of angelic features appeared to him; and with a voice like that of celestial music, said, “Walter, dost thou know me? I am the stranger whose sudden disappearance last night so greatly moved the warder. Know then, that by the good pleasure of heaven I am appointed to watch over this Monastery; to attend the outgoing and the incoming of every holy brother; and that my present errand is to certify that the alms and oblations of this community, more especially of your Abbot, have ascended in sweet memorial to heaven, and are accepted.” Again—

Waltheof, an abbot of whom we read in the Cistercian Annals, had many severe trials to undergo, not only with refractory monks, but with the arch-fiend himself, who appeared to have delegated the management of his other affairs to inferior powers of darkness, in order that he himself might direct his whole force and strategy against the uncompromising Waltheof. But the abbot, aware of all these machinations, never lost an inch of ground; every fresh rencontre was to him a fresh triumph; for knowing the strength and skill of the enemy, he took up the shield of faith, and, cased in this armour of proof, met his spiritual foe with a look of contempt and defiance. To report their numerous conflicts, would be to recapitulate the days of the life of Waltheof—for it was literally a warfare. At length, one evening after Compline—when all the monks had retired to the dormitory—the abbot continued lingering in the church; for, feeling a weight at heart, he wished to unburden his grief in solitary prayer and meditation. At such moments, it is well known, the powers of darkness are always most active—most on the alert; and Waltheof no sooner looked down the left aisle, than he perceived the arch-fiend moving stealthily from behind a pillar. In this instance he had assumed the habit of a monk; but as he cast no shadow behind him, and caused no sound as he shuffled along the tesselated floor, the abbot soon recognised his old customer, and calmly waited for him at the foot of the altar. Seeing himself thus baffled, the fiend suddenly threw aside his cowl, and assumed the terrific form of a soldier, armed at all points, and of such gigantic proportions, that in a moment every pillar in the nave seemed to have dwindled into insignificance. His grand object, as the abbot foresaw, was to inspire him with sudden terror, and thus drive him from his{62} sanctuary; but the attempt was vain. He then brandished a huge spear, and belching forth streams of blue fire as he approached, made a feint, as if he would have hurled the weapon at his head. But the abbot, continuing to make the sign of the cross, kept the great adversary of mankind at bay; yet still finding that he did not quit the sacred pile, he armed himself with the pix which contained the sacred wafer; and then advancing, exclaimed, “Behold, thou wicked soldier, thou base hireling! here is thy judge, who shall quickly send thee to the bottomless pit! Wait for him if thou darest!” What need of words; at this sight the foul fiend suddenly collapsed in all his terrific proportions, and vanished in a cloud of smoke.[97]

These two examples may suffice to give the reader some idea of the numerous legends with which the monastic annals abound: and, in addition to what has been already said of the internal administration of this order, we shall, from time to time, introduce other particulars, drawn from various sources, but chiefly from their own chronicles.

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Environs.—It would be difficult to name a locality that, within so small a compass, contains so many richly-varied landscapes, as the Vale of Tinterne. In whatever direction we move, the eye is arrested by new features, new combinations of the graceful and picturesque. A saunter along the river, where it forms a crescent between the abbey and the village, will gratify every lover of the picturesque, and bring before him the beauty and freshness of nature, in striking contrast with the sublime but faded monuments of art. The best hour for enjoying this scene is about sunset; and, on returning, the tourist may ascend the Chapel Hill, and thence, in a more extended panorama, look down upon what would have furnished a rich subject for the pencil of Claude. The river, with its fantastic windings, here clamorous among shallows—there gliding away with the rapid but inaudible march of time—masses of brown rock overhanging the pass, gleaming in confused blocks through the trees that clamber up their

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The Vale of Tintern.

From the Devil’s Pulpit.


steep sides, or crown their pinnacles with masses of verdure; while here and there a cottage, with its whitewashed walls, gives new life and interest to the scene.

How oft the pilgrim, lingering here,
Beneath that yew’s sepulchral shade,
Hath dropt the penitential tear,
And, sighing to himself, hath said—
There’s solace here for all my woe,
St. Mary’s altar gleams below;
And blessèd be the hand divine,
That leads the pilgrim to her shrine.

But the point from which the Abbey of Tinterne is seen to most advantage, is that chosen by Mr. Bartlett in the illustration opposite. The way to the ‘Devil’s Pulpit,’ as it is called, runs along the left bank of the Wye, and, in its winding course, presents many little glimpses of the vale and river, that, like small cabinet-pictures, serve as a gradual introduction to the splendid panorama of nature—the features of which are here so faithfully illustrated by the pencil, as to render description superfluous.

The river, rolling far below—
Here swift as time, there still and slow;
O’ershadowed here with arching bowers,
There sweetly fringed with summer flowers;
The Vale—where, through its orchard trees,
The curling vapour meets the breeze,
And, vast and venerably grand,
The Abbey’s mouldering arches stand,—
All these a wondrous scene impart,
To charm the eye and melt the heart;
The scroll of ages to unfold,
And paint the wondrous men of old.

Of this lofty and romantic scene Mr. Thomas writes:—“Who shall describe the glories of this splendid view? Who cannot but involuntarily think of the second scene in the Temptation, when the prince of the power of the air took the Prince of peace into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, in a moment of time? But let no satanic thought break in upon the holy influence which the soul delights to cherish in this lovely spot! It seems as though imagination, that potent enchantress of the mind, had transmitted us to some pinnacled mountain to show us the peace, the beauty, and permanence of the works of God, in vivid contrast with the feeble, the transitory, the desolated works of man—the ruined abbey encircled by the everlasting hills. This comprehensive panorama contains the most pleasing combination of nature and art, mountain and meadow, water and wood. There flows the glassy Wye, coiled like a serpent, and either buried in woods, or gliding peacefully through meadows spangled with fleecy{64} flocks. Its buoyant bosom bears a little bark freighted with the gay partizans of pleasure, whose scarlet banner is playing with the summer’s breeze. The distant sounds of a solitary flute harmonize with the busy hum of bees, and the song of some half-secluded bird. Again, we hear the hoarser cry of the mariner, and the metallic voice of an industrious anvil. The unpretending church of Tinterne, in its unspotted whiteness, contrasts with its aged companion—a sombre yew, which, like an ample pall, is overshadowing the clustered monuments of death.”

Lancaut cliffs, which contribute a striking feature to this part of the scenery, are rendered still more interesting by the following tradition:—During the calamitous war, so often referred to in these pages, Sir John Winter was eminently distinguished by his devotion to the royal cause. The personal risks and pecuniary sacrifices to which he was daily exposed, only served to give more warmth to his loyalty. When the Parliament sent their first troops to the banks of the Wye, Winter converted his house at Sidney into a fortress; and so promptly and skilfully was this accomplished, that it was rendered not merely inaccessible, but so well provisioned and fortified as to be able to stand a siege. In this, perhaps, there was some little exaggeration; for the garrison, then at Gloucester, and acting under the direction of skilful and determined leaders, were not likely to have been foiled, had they made any such attempt. Their grand object was Chepstow Castle; and if that fortress was ultimately found to be untenable, the defence of a private fortalice must have been a rash and hopeless attempt. It proves, nevertheless, that his loyalty admitted of no fear, and was prepared for every extremity. Acting under the command of Lord Herbert—whose operations will be detailed in our account of Raglan—Winter, by his rapid movements, frequently alarmed the troops under General Massey. But after the siege of Gloucester was raised by the Earl of Essex, the king’s interest in that part of the country was much impaired; and the Parliamentary forces continuing to advance, Sir John Winter was compelled by urgent duties to abandon his own residence, and retire across the frontier. In his retreat, however, through the forest of Tudenham, Cromwell’s dragoons were immediately on his traces; escape was seemingly impossible—he was completely hemmed in by the enemy on one hand, and the Wye on the other; and though well mounted, he soon perceived that his pursuers were sensibly gaining upon him. Determined that they should never boast of having taken him prisoner, he turned his horse’s head suddenly towards the rocks, which now bear his name, and by means, he knew not how, quickly disappeared and descended the cliffs in safety. At the base of these rolled the Wye, then in flood tide; but plunging into the river, his gallant steed carried him safely to the opposite bank, where he was soon joined by a party of royalists, and congratu{65}lated upon his miraculous escape. The point at which he descended the rocks is still called Winter’s leap. Of his escape, by scrambling down the cliff, there is no doubt; but to represent it as the result of a leap[98] on horseback, would be to assume the peculiar privilege of “Geoffrey of Monmouth.”

After this perilous feat, the hardy royalist returned to his house at Sidney; but finding it, on closer inspection, to be quite untenable, he had it demolished, and then, joining the king’s forces, took part in the battle of Naseby, which gave a finishing blow to the king’s affairs.

A walk from the Abbey to the village of Tinterne Parva, will never fail to interest the stranger; in this short distance, many new features and new combinations of scenery crowd upon the view, and carry the mind back to remote times, when the cloister bell was the only sound that broke in upon the stillness of the scene. Sweeping round the outer ring of the crescent, within which the river flows in a deep smooth channel, the road is overhung by masses of rock, shaded by trees, and skirted by cottages, which, from the situations they occupy, rather than any taste or merit in their construction, present a picturesque appearance. As we advance, the scene is continually changing: the old abbey walls, beautiful from whatever point they are contemplated, assume a comparatively new aspect from the western approach, particularly about sunset, when the whole building appears as if bathed in a flood of yellow light. To enjoy the scenery of the place under such circumstances, is worth a long day’s pilgrimage. The river, which here doubles upon itself, so as to take the form of a horse shoe, is of a depth navigable for small craft; and though here and there fretted by rocks, the surface, as we passed, was smooth and limpid; through which, as in a mirror, the picturesque scenery on its banks appeared in distinct and beautiful reflexion.

Near to the Cross, the ancient market-place of the village, the stranger is shown a ruined edifice, partly covered with ivy, and bearing the evidence of having suffered less from time than violence. This is supposed to have been the villa, or extra-cloister residence of the abbots of Tinterne, to which at certain seasons they could retire from the exercise of their public functions, and enjoy the privileges of social life—the society and conversation of friends and strangers, without the forms and austerities of the cloister. Of this building, nothing but a few shapeless walls is left; but from the size and structure of the windows, square-headed and divided by transoms, it seems probable that the{66} house is not earlier than the reign of Elizabeth. Mr. Thomas thinks, that from its Tudor-Gothic style, it was probably built by the abbot and some of the brotherhood, as a retreat about the period when the original foundation was dissolved. During the war which devastated the frontier in 1645-6, it was taken and ransacked by the soldiers of the Commonwealth. Since that period it has often changed its owners; and at one time, we are told, though on rather uncertain ground, it was the residence of the family of Fielding the novelist—

Whose name
Still draws the pilgrim to its shattered frame,
And bids him linger ’neath its shadow.

The parish church of Tinterne Parva is a small but very ancient building, irregularly divided into porch, nave, and chancel. Its erection, according to the historian of the abbey, was anterior to the foundation of the monastery itself; and by some writers it is even considered to have been the parent church. The evidences of its great antiquity may be found in the building itself; and a practised eye will detect indications of a British origin, in certain niches or circular arched windows in the massive walls of the western side. The porch, which is chaste and in good preservation, is a subsequent erection, and yet of a remote age. The chancel, which “most uncouthly joins the nave,” is the latest portion of the fabric. There are fragments of some antique monuments scattered about the floor—memorials of ecclesiastics—which, the writer sarcastically observes, “have been judiciously cut up, and squared, to mend the pavement!” By this sage arrangement, the parochial economy has been brought into the sharpest practice; and although it has evinced no special veneration for the sainted dead, or the hallowed relics of antiquity, yet “the ruinous expense of hauling fresh slabs from the quarry, on the opposite side of the way, has been most considerately spared.” Moreover, he adds, “the pipe of the stove within, is picturesquely thrust through the only Gothic window remaining in the nave!”[99]

As if its smoke, though dark and somewhat denser,
Were meant to represent the ancient Censer,
That once, with daily sacrifice, perfumed
The ground where saints and heroes lay inhumed.

By the churchyard stile, as Mr. Thomas happily describes it, “and beneath the dark mantling boughs of the yew-tree, a scene of exquisite sweetness steals upon the eye. The beautiful meadows beyond are skirted by a ridge of lofty woods, with the gentle Wye flowing like a liquid mirror below. Beneath the

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The Ferry at Tintern.


renewed limbs of an aged elm-tree, hollowed and blasted by the storms of many winters, a flock of unmolested sheep repose in grateful shade; these are, indeed, made “to lie down in green pastures,” and are “led beside the still waters.”

It would be difficult to picture to the mind’s eye a scene of more enchanting repose; in such a place as this, with such objects before him, the verdant pastures, the pendent groves, the winding river, the tranquil sky,—where the very clouds, with their fleecy wings stretched forth in vain to catch the subtile current, seem like a fleet becalmed on the wide ocean, waiting for the breeze;—with these before him, ambition forgets the world; sorrow looks up with more cheerful resignation; cares and disappointments lose both their weight and their sting: with so little of sordid earth, so much of the sublimity of nature to contemplate, his thoughts become chastened, soothed, and elevated; and the heart expands under a new sense of happiness, and a feeling of brotherly kindness and benevolence towards everything that breathes. He feels the poet’s exhortation in all its force—

When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come, like a blight,
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, the shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart,
Go forth into the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teaching!

And then turning to Wordsworth:—

For I have learnt
To look on Nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh, nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts: a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the roused ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows, and the woods,
And mountains, and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half create,
And what perceive.

Striguil.—The whole frontier of this interesting country—the land of Gwent—is sprinkled over with picturesque ruins,—the crumbling remains of those warlike strongholds raised by the Norman barons, as a defence to their newly-acquired possessions, which were brought into frequent jeopardy by the martial and reluctant subjects of the new dynasty. To these we can only advert in passing—for the plan on which this work is conducted, does not admit of their being noticed in detail. In the second century after the Conquest, six of these strongholds were erected near the British forest of Wentwood[100]—a still venerable chase of between two and three thousand acres in extent, and associated with many events in the history and traditions of the Welsh frontiers. The grand object of these castles was to form a chain of garrisoned forts for the protection of Norman interests against the incursions of a people who, although compelled to pass under a foreign yoke, still gloried in their independence, and embraced every occasion to prove that their martial spirit, though bowed, was not broken.

One of the strongest of these embattled fastnesses was Castell-glyn-y-Striguil,[101] erected, according to Doomsday-book, by the Norman warrior so often named in this work, William Fitzosborne. In Hammer’s Irish Chronicle,[102] however, its erection is ascribed to Gilbert Strongbow, whose life and family we have already noticed in the account of Tinterne Abbey. The remains of this castle, though inadequate to convey any just notion of its original strength, are still sufficiently marked with regard to its size and proportions. Its outworks have mouldered down into shapeless masses, over which nature has thrown so dense a matting of underwood, that the traces of art have been almost obliterated. The form “was that of an oblong square, the angles of which, as usual in such cases, were defended by octagonal towers;”[103] at one extremity was the donjon, or keep, the situation of which is indicated by the shapeless mound of vegetation, which draws nutriment from its débris. The walls were encircled by a deep moat, supplied by two mountain rivulets, which unite at this point to form the Troggy, one of the silver tributaries of the river Usk.

The other castles Avhich deserve a cursory notice, are, Llanvair, Llanvaches,{69} Pencoed, Dinham, and Penhow.[104] The latter, an ancient seat of the Seymours, occupies a bold and romantic situation. The acclivity which forms the direct approach to it, is nearly perpendicular. The view which it commands consists of a valley, or rather wooded ravines, in the foreground; and in the distance, a range of barren hills that bound the horizon—

Hills that, giving birth
To circling fountains, glad the parent earth;
And from their bosom, framed for martial toil,
Sent forth the guardian heroes of the soil.

By the marriage of the Lady Jane, daughter of Sir John Seymour, with Henry the Eighth, and the birth of their son, afterwards Edward the Sixth, the house of Penhow was placed in a situation to compete with that of Raglan; and by the fortuitous influence thus acquired, the Seymours took a leading authority in the management and direction of county affairs.

This castle, or rather fortalice, appears to have derived its strength, more from its isolated and once inaccessible position, than from the extent of its walls or outworks. A portion of the interior has been repaired and rendered habitable, or rather a house has been erected on the site of the old berçeau, and thus future patriots and statesmen may yet “come forth of Penhow.”

Llanvair, about six miles west from Chepstow, was the ancient residence of the Kemeys family, from whom sprang Sir Nicholas Kemeys, the last governor of Chepstow Castle, whose heroic but tragical fate has been already noticed in these pages. The ruins of this ancient homestead are too inconsiderable to challenge more than a passing glance from the tourist. The same may be said of Dinham, a hamlet in the parish of Llanvair-Discoed.

Goldcliffe, “so called,” says Camden, “because the stones there, of a golden colour, by reverberation of the sunne shining full upon them, glitter with a wonderful brightnesse. Neither can I be easilie perswaded that nature hath given this brightnesse in vaine unto the stones, and that there should be a flowre here without fruit; were there any man that would serch into the veines there, and using the direction of Art, enter into the inmost and secretest{70} bowels of the earth.”[105] But what was a mystery in the days of Giraldus, and even of Camden, admits of a very simple solution. The Gold Cliff, so called, consists of a rock nearly perpendicular, which rises abruptly to the height of a hundred feet in an extensive moor.[106] It consists of limestone strata, nearly horizontal and parallel, supported by a base of brown sandstone, abounding with yellow mica. The brilliant effect of the sun upon this micaceous surface, was a reason for the old belief in the neighbourhood, that the rock contained gold, and was therefore considered as a situation of peculiar value and sanctity.[107] The church of Goldcliffe belonged to a priory founded and endowed in 1113, by Robert de Chandos, eighteen years earlier than that of Tinterne Abbey, who, by the persuasion of Henry the First, annexed it to the Abbey of Bec, in Normandy, whence a prior and twelve Black, or Benedictine, friars were conveyed to it. On the suppression of alien priories, Henry Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, obtained of King Henry the Sixth the patronage of the priory, with permission to annex it to the Abbey of St. Mary, at Tewkesbury, to which it was made a cell in 1442. The Cambro-Britons, however, being offended at this measure, obliged the prior and monks of Tewkesbury to quit Goldcliffe in 1445; but in the following year they were permitted to return. In the twenty-ninth of the reign of Henry the Sixth, Goldcliffe Priory was granted to the college at Eton, and to Tewkesbury again. At the accession of Edward the Fourth, but seven years later, it was restored to Eton college, in whose possession it has since remained.[108]

Caldicot.—The castle of this name is said to have been erected by one of the ancient Bohuns, earls of Hereford, hereditary lords-high-constables of England,[109] for nearly two hundred years. From them the castle descended to{71} Henry, Duke of Lancaster, and upon his accession to the throne as Henry the Fourth, it was invested in the crown. The ivy-mantled walls enclose a large court, with three entrances. The principal gateway is flanked by lofty square towers; and on the east side are the remains of the hall, comprising a range of windows, of large size and elegant workmanship. The style of masonry, as shown in the construction of the walls, is excellent; the courses of large and equal sized stones, are accurately squared and jointed; but the whole construction has more the appearance of an ancient domestic residence, than of a British stronghold—well suited for the accommodation of a feudal baron and his retinue in times of peace, but ill prepared to resist an enemy, or sustain a siege.

Yet there Tradition tells her tale
Of warrior-knights in glittering mail—
Of martial feat, and festive hall,
And banners waving from the wall;
When Cambria’s rival spears were bent
For martial joust and tournament;
While Beauty, from her lattice high,
Surveyed the scene with radiant eye—
And Cambria’s Chivalry in arms
Did faithful homage to her charms.
But Caldicot, how lonely now!
The wreath has withered from thy brow;
The scene of song and martial deeds
Is now a wilderness of weeds!
Ah, such at last the homes shall be
Of England’s proudest Chivalry!

Mathern is remarkable as the burial-place of Theodoric or Teudrick, the hermit king of Glamorgan, already mentioned.[110] His hermitage “among the rocks of Tinterne,” to which he had retired for repose and meditation in the evening of life, is supposed to have stood on the site of the present abbey, which had thus, in the traditional records of the people, a spot already consecrated by royal example, as a foundation for those gorgeous altars by which it was subsequently distinguished.

When dragged from his retreat by the supplications of his family and subjects, and armed once more against the Saxons, he solemnly enjoined his son that, in the event of his falling in battle, they should erect a Christian church over his remains, as a monument of his faith and patriotism. The battle that speedily ensued, as tradition reports, was a great victory, but a victory purchased with the blood of Teudrick; for during the fierce conflict that had covered the Vale of Tinterne with the slain, he received a blow from a Saxon battle-axe{72} which proved fatal. From the field he was conveyed homeward as far as Mathern, where he died; and there his son, who succeeded him in the chieftainship, erected a church to his memory, the name of which has perpetuated his martyrdom.[111]

The foundation of this church in its primitive state, consisted, like other British structures, of a nave only—a side aisle and chancel appear to have been added at a very early date; and, subsequently to these, a tower was erected which completed the sacred edifice, and rendered it more conspicuous as a historical landmark, and place of pilgrimage. It is distinguished by handsome Gothic windows, portions of which are adorned with stained glass; and the roof is supported by Saxon arches, resting on massive octagon piers.

On a plain mural tablet in the Chancel of this ancient church, is the following inscription, supposed to have been written by Bishop Godwin. The fact of its being the sepulchre of the British Prince Teudrick, was finally ascertained by the discovery of his stone coffin, in which the skeleton was found almost entire. On the skull, also, in accordance with local tradition, a fracture was observed, which clearly indicated the manner of his death, and confirmed the testimony of local history.

The following is the inscription:—“Here lyeth entombed the body of Theodoric, King of Morganuch, or Glamorgan, commonly called St. Theodoric, and accounted a martyr, because he was slain in battle against the Saxons, being then pagans, and in defence of the Christian Religion. The battle was fought at Tynterne, where he obtained a great victory. He died here, being on his way homeward, three days after the battle, having taken order with Maurice, his son, who succeeded him in the kingdom, that in the same place where he should happen to decease, a church should be built, and his body buried in the same, which was accordingly performed in the year 600.”

“On ascending the tower of this church,” says Mr. Thomas, “a scene of great extent and surpassing beauty is spread before the eye; on one side you have a long reach of water, strewn with vessels and rocks; on the other a wide undulating tract of land, overspread with villas and smiling meadows, crowded with many a gentle herd; while beneath, and not the least interesting objects of this scene, are those melancholy wrecks of bygone splendour—Mathern Palace and Moinscourt.” The first of these two objects, the old episcopal residence, is now “the ruinous retreat of some humble followers of the plough.” The north and north-east portions, comprising the porch and tower, were erected by Bishop De la Zouch, who was consecrated in the year 1408, and the chapel hall, and some{73} other compartments, were added by Miles Sulley, who came to the see in 1504. Moinscourt, now reduced to the humble uses of a farmhouse, was another of the palaces, belonging to the see of Llandaff, and supposed to have been erected by Bishop Godwin, who made it his favourite residence. Passing beneath a Gothic porch, crowned with two lofty turrets, we enter a spacious quadrangular court, at the extremity of which stands the palace. Over the entrance is an escutcheon, on which are sculptured the arms of Godwin, impaled with those of the see, and bearing the date of 1603. The court was formerly adorned with two monuments of Roman antiquity found in the vicinity—one a votive altar, the other an inscription, recording the rebuilding of the Temple of Diana, by T. F. Posthumius Varus. It was from the ancient Roman slabs, built into the garden walls of this residence, that Bishop Godwin supplied the drawings and inscriptions for Camden’s Britannia.[112]

Before adverting to the final suppression of Tinterne Abbey, and the confiscation of its revenues to the king’s treasury, we shall now take a brief view of the circumstances which led to this grand revolution in our ecclesiastical government—quoting for our authority those writers of unquestionable veracity, who have treated of that momentous epoch. First, with regard to the

Dissolution.—“Never,” says an historian of this epoch,[113] “never was there any exploit, seemingly so full of hazard and danger, more easily achieved than the subversion of our English monasteries.” The church commissioners presented a startling report of the vices[114] and deceptions of the monks and nuns; and, what was of equal weight in the condemnation, they sent in the title-deeds of their estates, with the inventory of their plate, jewels, and ready money. Upon this a bill was introduced, giving unto the king and his heirs all monastic establishments, the revenues of which did not exceed two hundred pounds{74} sterling a year, with every kind of property attached to them, whether real or personal. Three hundred and eighty of the lesser houses fell within this category, and were suppressed; whereby the king was enriched by thirty-two thousand pounds per annum—an enormous sum in that day—in addition to a hundred thousand pounds in ready money, plate, and jewels. The bill, according to one writer, was not passed through the House of Commons without some difficulty; but Henry, sending for the ministers, and telling them that he would have either the bill or their heads, they passed it immediately.

The parliament, which, by successive prorogations, had sat for the unprecedented term of six years, was now dissolved; and Henry, after all their passive obedience, appears to have been disgusted at this their last and feeble effort at opposition. He now named other commissioners to take possession of the suppressed monasteries, and to prepare measures for the seizure of others. If these men, mostly the friends of Cromwell or of Cranmer, had a better religion before their eyes, they certainly were not blind to the charms of lucre, and the temptations of fair houses and fat glebes; as many of them made a harvest for themselves, out of the spoils of the monks and nuns.[115]

The superiors of the suppressed houses were promised small pensions for life, which were very irregularly paid. All the monks not twenty-four years of age were absolved from their vows, and turned loose upon the world without any kind of provision; the rest, if they wished to continue in the profession, were divided among the greater houses that were still left standing. The poor nuns were turned adrift to beg or starve; having nothing given to them, save one common gown for each.[116] “These things,” says Godwin, “were of themselves distasteful to the vulgar sort, of whom each one did, as it were, claim a share in the goods of the church; for many being neither monks, nor allied to monks, did, notwithstanding, conceive that it might hereafter come to pass that either their children, friends, or kindred, might obtain their share; whereas, when all their property was once confiscated, they could never hope for any such advantages. But the popular commiseration for the thousands of monks and nuns who were, almost without warning given, thrust out of doors, and committed to the mercy of the world, became a more forcible cause of discontent. There were not wanting desperate men to take advantage of this state of public feeling; and it was diligently rumoured in all parts, that this was but the beginning of greater evils and more general spoliations—only a trial of their patience; that, as yet, the shrubs and underwood were but touched; but unless a speedy remedy were applied, the end would be with the fall of the lofty oaks.” At the same time, the crowds of poor, who, by an ancient but defective system,{75} had derived their support from the monastic establishments, became furious at finding their resources cut off, and at seeing the monks who had fed them now begging like themselves by the roadsides.

In the midst of these general discontents, Cranmer and Cromwell issued certain doctrinal injunctions to the clergy, which were too novel to find immediate favour with the multitude; and certain Protestant reformers, who had more courage than they, ventured to print books about Iconolatria, image-worship, auricular confession, transubstantiation, and other fundamental tenets and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The king, who assumed all the authority in matters of dogmas that had ever been claimed by the popes, and much more than they had ever put in practice in England, pronounced rewards and sentences which irritated both parties alike, and all these questions were referred to him—thus occupying a good deal of his time, and keeping in dangerous activity his old political bile.[117] We find the Lord Chancellor Audley writing in great perturbation to Cromwell, telling him that “there is a book come forth in print, touching the taking away of images, and begging to know whether he was privy to the publishing thereof,” which Cranmer probably was,[118] though, had such a fact been known to his master at that moment, his neck would have been in jeopardy. The chancellor says, “I assure you, in the parts where I have been, some discord there is, and diversity of opinion among the people, touching the worshipping of saints and images; and for creeping, kneeling at cross, and such like ceremonies heretofore used in the church, which discord it were good should be put to silence; and this book will make much business in the same, if it should go forth. Wherefore,” he continues, “I pray you, I may be advised whether you know it or no, for I intend to send for the printers and stop them; but there may be many abroad. It were good that the preachers and people abstained from opinions of such things, till such time as by the report of such as the king’s highness hath appointed for the searching and ordering of laws of the church, his grace may put a final order on such things, how his people and subjects shall use themselves without contention. And if the people were thus commanded by proclamation to abstain till that time, such proclamation, drawn in honest terms, would do much good to avoid contention.”[119]

The king was by no means backward in issuing his final orders and decrees spiritual; and the reformers herein concealing their ulterior views, he was led to reduce the number of sacraments from seven to three—Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Penance; to forbid the direct adoration of images; to abrogate a{76} number of saints’ days or holidays, especially such as fell in harvest time; to declare the Scriptures, with the Apostolic, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds, the sole standards of faith; to order every parish priest to expound these to his parishioners in plain English; and to direct the printing and distribution of an English translation of the Bible, one copy of which was to be kept in every parish church. The king, in his wisdom, insisted on the necessity of auricular confession, and denounced any questioning of the ‘real presence’ in the eucharist as a damnable heresy, to be punished with fire and faggot. Purgatory, he confessed, puzzled him; steering a middle course, he declared himself to be uncertain on this head; and kindly permitted his subjects to pray for the souls of their departed friends, provided only that they fell into none of the old abuses of enriching religious houses and shrines for this object.[120]

“Meanwhile,” says the historian, “the king continued much prone to reformation, especially if anything might be gotten by it.” Nothing was more easy than to prove that all the monastic orders had been engaged in the late insurrection;[121] and as many of the richest abbeys and priories remained as yet untouched, there was no want of wise counsellors, all anxious to share in the spoil, who recommended their total suppression. In some cases, out of a dread of martial law, or, what was equally bad, a prosecution for high treason, the Abbots surrendered, gave, and granted their abbeys unto the king, his heirs and assigns for ever; but still many replied, like the prior of Henton, “that they would not be light and hasty in giving up those things which were not theirs to give, being dedicated to the Almighty for service to be done to his honour continually, with other many good deeds of charity which be daily done in their houses to their Christian neighbours.”[122] “These recusants were treated with great severity; the prisons were crowded with priors and monks, who died so rapidly in their places of confinement, as to excite a dreadful suspicion.”

Without waiting for a “needless act of parliament, the king suppressed many other houses; and soon after, with the full consent of Lords and Commons, finished the business, by seizing all the abbeys without exception, with all the other religious houses, except a very few, which, at the earnest petition of the people, were spared or given up to the representatives of their original founders.” Before proceeding to the “final suppression, under the pretence of checking the superstitious worshipping of images, he had laid bare their altars, and stripped their shrines of everything that was valuable; nor did he spare the rich coffins and the crumbling bones of the dead.” At the distance of four hundred years{77}—exasperated at that extraordinary man’s opposition to the royal prerogative—he determined to execute vengeance on the bones and relics of

Thomas a Becket.—The Martyr’s tomb was broken open; and by an insane process, worthy of a Nero or a Caligula, a criminal information was filed against him as “Thomas Becket, some time Archbishop of Canterbury;” and he was formally cited to appear in court, and answer to the charges. Thirty days were allowed the saint; but we need hardly inform our readers that his dishonoured relics rested quietly at Canterbury, and did not appear to plead in Westminster Hall. With due solemnity the court opened its proceedings.[123] The attorney-general eloquently exposed the case for the prosecution, and the advocates of the saint—who no doubt spoke less boldly—were heard in defence; and that being over, sentence was pronounced, that “Becket” had been guilty of rebellion, treason, and contumacy; that his bones should be burnt as a lesson to the living not to oppose the royal will; and that the rich offerings with which many generations of men, native and foreign, had enriched his shrine, should be forfeited to the crown as the personal property of the traitor. “In the month of August,” continues the historian, “Cromwell, who must have smiled at the course pursued, sent down some of his commissioners to Canterbury, who executed their task so well, that they filled two immense coffers with gold and jewels, each of them so heavy that it required eight strong men to lift it.” “Among the rest,” says Godwin, “was a stone of especial lustre, called the Royal of France, offered by King Louis VII., in the year 1179; together with a great massive cup of gold, at what time he also bestowed an annuity on the monks of that church of an hundred tuns of wine. This stone was afterwards highly prized by the king, who did continually wear it on his thumb.” A few months after, the king, by proclamation, stated to his people, that forasmuch as it now clearly appears Thomas Becket had been killed in a riot provoked by his own obstinacy and insolence, and had been canonized by the Bishop of Rome merely because he was champion of that usurped authority, he now deemed it proper to declare that he was no saint whatever, but a rebel and traitor to his prince: and that, therefore, he, the king, strictly commanded that he should not be any longer esteemed or called a saint; that all images and pictures of him should be destroyed; and that his name and remembrance should be erased out of all books, under pain of his majesty’s indignation, and imprisonment at his grace’s pleasure.[124]

The revenues of Tinterne Abbey, though far inferior to others of the same order, particularly those in Yorkshire, were still sufficient for the maintenance of the brotherhood, the repairs and decoration of the buildings, and the exercise{78} of hospitality, which formed so important a feature in the monastic code. The estimate recorded by Dugdale is probably under the mark; while that of Speed may possibly exceed, by a few pounds, the actual rental of the abbey lands. The former has computed it at £192. 1s. 3d., the latter at £252. 11s. 6d., sums which, taking into account the value of money in those times, give no mean idea of its annual resources. This sum, however, is exclusive of the daily tribute received from the pious hands of pilgrims, and the donations of many distinguished guests, who, from time to time, sat at the Abbot’s table, or found refuge in its sanctuary.

The details of the first endowments[125] of Tinterne Abbey, as well as various{79} later benefactions, down to the seventh year of Henry the Third, are contained in a charter of confirmation from William Marshall, grandson of Walter de Clare, the founder.

“Herein,” says Tanner, “were thirteen religious about the time of the dissolution, when the estates belonging to this monastery were rated at £256. 11s. 6d. in the gross, and £192. 1s. 4-1/2d. per annum, clear income.”

The site of Tinterne Abbey, with all the monastic buildings, was granted 28th Henry VIII. to Henry, Earl of Worcester. It is still the property of his descendant, the Duke of Beaufort. Leland, mentioning Tinterne Abbey in his Collectanea, says, “There was a sanctuary granted to Tinterne, but it hath not been used many a day.”

The common seal of this monastery is appended to an instrument dated in the 6th of Henry VIII., whereby the abbot and convent appoint Charles, Earl of Worcester, and Henry Somerset, Lord Herbert, his son and heir apparent, chief stewards of their manor of Arle in Norfolk. The subject of this seal, of which only a mutilated impression in red wax remains, was the Virgin Mary and the infant Saviour, seated under an ornamented arch—in a niche underneath, was an abbot, with his crosier, on his knees praying. Nearly the whole of the legend is gone, the only part remaining being.... RII. BEATE.

William Marshall, the “vetus Marescallus,” as he is called in black-letter chronicles—who married the daughter and heiress of Richard Strongbow—became the founder of a new Cistercian Abbey, near Wexford, in Ireland. Finding himself, once upon a time, in great peril during a voyage thither, he made a vow to the Virgin Mary, that if by her help he escaped shipwreck, and once more set foot on dry land, he would testify his gratitude by founding an abbey to her honour. The ship having got safe into port, he lost no time in commencing the pious work, to which, in compliment to her elder sister on the Wye, he gave the name of Tynterna de Voto.

Daughters of Tinterne.—In addition to what has been already mentioned of the two daughters,[126] or offshoots, of Tinterne on the Wye, we collect the following particulars:—

Tinterne Abbey, in the County of Wexford.—“This abbey was situated on the shore of Bannow Bay, in the barony of Shelburne, three miles north-east of Duncannon Fort. William, Earl of Pembroke, as already mentioned, being in great danger and peril at sea, made a vow to found an abbey in that place where he should first arrive in safety; and the place was the bay in question. He accordingly performed his vow, dedicated his abbey to the Virgin Mary,{80} endowed it, and settled a convent of Cistercian monks in it, whom he brought from Tinterne in Monmouthshire. Archdale gives the particulars of the Earl of Pembroke’s endowment of this house, from King. The whole, however, was not completed in the earl’s lifetime, for Dugdale has given King John’s charter confirming the bequest of thirty carucates of land to this abbey in the earl’s will.”[127]

Kingswood Abbey.—“Roger de Berkeley received by gift of William Rufus certain lands, upon condition that he should confer them upon some monks or canons; but being prevented by death, he bequeathed them to William de Berkeley[128] his nephew, upon the same terms. And of which William, I find that he bestowed upon the monks of Tynterne, in Wales, a certain Desart near Berkeley, called Kingswood, there to found an abbey of the Cistercian Order; and that Maud the Empress, daughter to King Henry the First, confirmed that grant. The convent was built, but during the troublous reign of Stephen they removed to Haselden; but thence, on the return of peace, they were expelled by the proprietor, and again took up their abode at Kingswood. Reginal D. S. Walerick repenting, invited them back to Haselden; but, after a time, the place being found very inconvenient for lack of water, they were removed by him to Tetbury, Kingswood all this time being left as a mere grange of the monastery. Of this the heir of the founder complained, and required that the convent should return thither, according to the conditions upon which it was given by his ancestor. A general chapter of the whole Order, however, decided against him, and determined that Kingswood should remain as a mere farm belonging to the convent of Tetbury; but that mass should always be sung at Kingswood, privately, by one monk, who was to have for his labour twenty-seven marks and a half. But after this, by another general chapter of that Order, it was agreed that the Abbot of Waverley, in Surrey, should rebuild Kingswood with the consent of the founder, and confirmation of the King; which being done without the privity of the{81} convent at Tetbury, and Abbot of Tynterne, who opposed the same. Upon a meeting of divers other abbots at Kingswood, it was concluded, that the monks placed at Kingswood should be recalled, and that place reduced unto the state of a grange to Tettebiry, as it was before.” These transmutations, however, were not yet concluded: “for Tettebiry being found a narrow place, too little for an abbey, and having no fuel but what was brought from Kingswood, which was far distant, Bernard de S. Walerick came to accord with Roger de Berkley, the founder of Kingswood, and therefore, obtaining a grant from him of forty acres of land adjoining to Kingswood, translated those monks from Tettebiry thither, and called it Kingswood, as a name of most note.”[129] Such were the vicissitudes of this abbey.

According to Pope Nicholas’ taxation, the spiritualities of this monastery amounted in 1291 to the annual sum of £6. 4s. 4d.; the temporalities to £47. 17s. 2d.; making a total of £54. 1s. 6d. There is no valuation of Kingswood in the general ecclesiastical survey of the 26th Henry VIII., though Tanner says it was valued at that time, according to Dugdale, at £244. 11s. 2d. per annum; according to Speed, at £254. 11s. 2d.; clear, £239. 19s. 7-3/4d. In a MS. record in the whole at £254. 5s. 10d. A survey of this house, taken in the 29th Henry VIII., is preserved in the appendix to the Monasticon Anglicanum. There is also a minister’s ‘accompt’ of it in the Augmentation office, 32nd Henry VIII.; but its possessions are there answered for, in gross, at the sum of £245. 8s. 8d., the whole of its estates being then on lease to Sir Nicholas Peyntz, Knt., under the seal of the Court of Augmentations, dated 10th March, 29th Henry VIII., for a term of twenty-one years at the above rent. In the second year of Queen Elizabeth, the site of this house was granted to Sir John Thynne, Knt. The register of Kingswood Abbey was in the possession of John Smith, Esq. of Nibley, in the county of Gloucester. The common seal represented the Blessed Virgin crowned, holding in her arms the infant Jesus, and standing between two elegant pilasters, surmounted by a canopy; the field diapered; in base, under an arch, the half figure of a monk praying; the legend much flattened, so that no more of it can be read than S.COF ... CONVENTUS ... DE KINGEWOD. An impression of this seal on red wax is appendant to a conventual lease, temp. Henry VIII., in the Augmentation office.[130]{82}

FROM the above cursory notice of the spiritual daughters of “Holy Tinterne,” we return to the Mother-Abbey.

In England, says an eminent Catholic writer, the scheme of plundering the ecclesiastical property by men of a certain class, had never been wholly abandoned. In Henry the Fourth’s time there was “the laymen’s parliament of those who countenanced Wickliffe, and loved the lands far better than they did the religion of the Church; but their designs at that time were defeated by the stout and religious opposition of Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, and other Prelates.”[131] Against these evils the ancient canons of the church in Germany provided, by prohibiting the faithful from holding any communication with men who disturb priests, and the state of the church.[132] “Now,” he continues, “if St. Thomas and the clergy of the middle ages are to be condemned for resisting such injustice by prayers, and law, and canonical censures, what will be thought of St. Ambrose, and other pastors of the early church, who, by still more uncompromising firmness, believed that they were imitating the apostles?” St. Ambrose declares that he will never relinquish the churches to the Arians, as the Emperor Valentinian commands, unless by force. “If any force remove me from the church, my flesh,” he says, “may be disturbed, but not my mind; for I am prepared to suffer whatever a priest may suffer, if the emperor should exert his regal power. I will never abandon the church voluntarily; but I cannot oppose force. I can grieve, I can weep, I can groan; against arms, soldiers, and Goths, tears are my arms; for these are the weapons of a priest. Otherwise I neither ought to resist, nor can I resist. When it was proposed to me to deliver up the vessels of the church, I sent word that I would willingly give up what was mine own, whether lands or houses, gold or silver; but that I could take nothing from the temple of God, nor lightly abandon what I had received to guard—not to deliver up. Fear not, therefore, for me, dearly beloved, since I know that whatever I am about to suffer, I shall suffer for Christ; and the will of Christ must be fulfilled, and that will be for the best.{83} Let them decree the penalty of death, I fear it not; nor will I on that account desert the martyrs; for whither could I go where all things would not be full of groans and tears, when Catholic priests are ordered to be driven from the churches, or to be struck with the sword if they resisted; and this decree to be written by a bishop, who should quote ancient examples to prove himself most learned? Auxentius, thirsting for blood, demanded my church; but I say with the prophet—‘Absit ut ego patrum meorum tradam hæreditatem!’ Naboth was prepared to defend his vineyard at the expense of his blood. If he could not give up his vineyard, neither will we give up the church of Christ. Do I then return a contumacious answer? I have answered as a priest; let the emperor act as an emperor. Last year,” he adds, “when I was invited to the palace, and introduced before the council, when the emperor wished to take from us the church, I should have been subdued by the contemplation of the royal hall, and I should not have kept the constancy of a priest, or should have departed with loss of right. Do they not remember, then, how the people rushed to the palace, and overwhelmed every force, declaring that they would die for the faith of Christ? Then I was desired to appease the people, which I did by engaging that the church should not be given up; but now the Arians wish to give law to the church, and accuse us of sedition in resisting the emperor. Let him take our tribute or our lands, if they ask treasure: our treasure is the poor of Christ; our defence is in the prayers of the poor. These blind, and lame, and weak, and aged persons, are stronger than robust warriors. I am to give to Cæsar what belongs to Cæsar; to God what belongs to God: the tribute is Cæsar’s, but the church is God’s. As for the fire, or sword, or banishment, which are threatened, we fear them not.”[133]

Again, writing to his sister Marcella, he says: “Not only the basilica without the walls is now demanded, but also the new and greater one within the city. When the prince summoned me to resign them, I replied, what was of course, that ‘the temple of God could not be given up by a priest.’ The emperor cannot invade the house of a private man, and will he dare to take possession of the house of God! The palace belongs to the emperor, the church to the priest. If he be a tyrant, I desire to be aware of it, that I may know how to prepare against him, for I have the power to offer my body. If he thinks himself a tyrant, why does he delay to strike? By ancient laws empires were given by priests, not taken from them; and it is a common saying, that emperors have rather desired priesthood, than priests empire. The tyranny of a priest is his infirmity; for ‘when I am weak, then am I strong.{84}

With examples like this before them—and numerous others might here be cited—it is not surprising that many of the monastic priesthood preferred to endure fines, imprisonment, and even death, to the enjoyment of that life and freedom which could only be purchased by acts of apostacy. And on this portion of our subject we avail ourselves of an eloquent passage from one of the most popular works of the day:—

The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity was the first of a long series of salutary revolutions. It is true that the church had been deeply corrupted both by that superstition, and by that philosophy, against which she had long contended, and over which she had at last triumphed. She had given a too easy admission to doctrines borrowed from the ancient schools, and to rites borrowed from the ancient temples. Roman policy and Gothic ignorance, Grecian ingenuity and Syrian asceticism, had contributed to deprave her; yet she retained enough of the sublime theology, and benevolent morality of her earlier days, to elevate many intellects, and to purify many hearts. Some things also which, at a later period, were justly regarded as among her chief blemishes, were in the seventh century, and long afterwards, among her chief merits. That the sacerdotal order should encroach on the functions of the civil magistrate, would, in our time, be a great evil. But that which in an age of good government is an evil, may, in an age of grossly bad government, be a blessing. It is better that mankind should be governed by wise laws well administered, and by an enlightened public opinion, than by priestcraft; but it is better that men should be governed by priestcraft than by brute violence,—by such a prelate as Dunstan, than by such a warrior as Penda. A society sunk in ignorance, and ruled by mere physical force, has great reason to rejoice when a class, of which the influence is intellectual, rises to ascendancy. Such a class will doubtless abuse its power; but mental power, even when abused, is still a nobler and better power than that which consists merely in corporeal strength. We read in the Anglo-Saxon chronicles of tyrants who, when at the height of greatness, were smitten with remorse; who abhorred the pleasures and dignities which they had purchased by guilt; who abdicated their crowns, and who sought to atone for their offences by cruel penances and incessant prayers. These stories have drawn forth bitter expressions of contempt from some writers who, while they boasted of liberality, were in truth as narrow-minded as any monk of the dark ages, and whose habit was to apply to all events in the history of the world the standard received in the Parisian society of the eighteenth century. Yet surely a system which, however deformed by superstition, introduced strong moral restraints into communities previously governed only by vigour of muscle, and by audacity of spirit; a system which taught even the fiercest and mightiest ruler that he was, like his meanest{85} bondsman, a responsible being, might have seemed to deserve a more respectful mention from philosophers and philanthropists.[134]

The same observations will apply to the contempt with which, in the last century, it was fashionable to speak of the pilgrimages, the sanctuaries, the crusades, and the monastic institutions of the middle ages. In times when men were scarcely ever induced to travel by liberal curiosity, or by the pursuit of gain, it was better that the rude inhabitant of the north should visit Italy and the East as a pilgrim, than that he should never see anything but the squalid cabins, and uncleared woods, amidst which he was born.[135]

In times when life and female honour were exposed to daily risk from tyrants and marauders, it was better that the precinct of a shrine should be regarded with an irrational awe, than that there should be no refuge inaccessible to cruelty and licentiousness. In times when statesmen were incapable of forming extensive political combinations, it was better that the Christian nations should be roused and united for the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, than that they should, one by one, be overwhelmed by the Mahometan power. Whatever reproach may, at a later period, have been justly thrown on the indolence and luxury of religious orders, it was surely good that, in an age of ignorance and violence, there should be quiet cloisters and gardens, in which the arts of peace could be safely cultivated; in which gentle and contemplative natures could find an asylum; in which one brother could employ himself in transcribing the Æneid of Virgil, and another in meditating the Analytics of Aristotle; in which he who had a genius for art, might illuminate a martyrology, or carve a crucifix; and in which he who had a turn for natural philosophy, might make experiments on the properties of plants and minerals. Had not such retreats been scattered here and there, among the huts of a miserable peasantry, and the castles of a ferocious aristocracy, European society would have consisted merely of beasts of burden, and beasts of prey. The church has many times been compared to the ark of which we read in the Book of Genesis; but never was the resemblance more perfect than during the evil time, when she rode alone, amidst darkness and tempest, on the deluge beneath which all the great works of ancient power and wisdom lay entombed; bearing within her that feeble germ, from which a second and more glorious civilization was to spring.[136]{86}

UNDER the blasting influence of an arbitrary power, that found its zealous instruments in the Commissioners appointed for that service, the suppression and confiscation of the English monasteries were quickly followed by a long train of national misery and degradation, of which lamentable evidence is found in the chronicles of that period. From these popular and authentic sources we extract the following picture:—

In the final seizure of the abbeys and monasteries of England, the richest fell first. In the spring of 1540, all the monastic establishments of the kingdom were suppressed, and the mass of their landed property was divided among courtiers and parasites. The gold and silver, and costly jewels of shrines, had partly gone in that direction, and had partly been kept for the king’s use. The troubled fountain of the Reformation, it has been said, sent forth two streams—the one of sweet, the other of bitter waters.[137] “It is the duty of an impartial historian to dwell for a time by the bitter stream. Between the ignorant zealots of the new doctrines, and the rudeness of the men employed in the suppression, who were all most anxious for spoil, and who probably cared little for any form of religion, or any decency of worship, innumerable works of art were destroyed; magnificent specimens of architecture were defaced and left roofless. Statues and pictures, many of them the productions of Italian masters,—and which had, in the eye of taste, a sort of holiness independent of Saints and Madonnas,—were broken to pieces or burnt. The mosaic pavements of the chapels were torn up; and the same brutal hands smashed the painted windows, which, almost more than anything else, gave beauty and glory to our old abbeys and cathedrals. The church-bells were gambled for, and sold into Russia and other countries. Horses were tethered to the high altar; cattle were kept in stall in the very recesses of the shrines and the chapels; and these, according to good authority, were at times the least bestial of the occupants.” “The libraries, of which all the great houses contained one, numerously if not judiciously stocked,—but wherein existed, no doubt, many a book in manuscript, which we would now willingly possess,—were treated with the greatest contempt. And here we should wonder why the enlightened men who promoted the Reformation did not interfere, were we not convinced of the danger of opposing the king’s will, and the ruffianly character of the persons to whom the task of suppression and destruction was committed.” “Some books,” says Spelman, “were reserved to scour their candlesticks, some to rub their boots, some sold to the grocers and soapboilers, and some sent over the sea to bookbinders—not in small numbers, but at times{87} whole shipfuls, to the wondering of foreign nations. A single merchant purchased, at forty shillings a-piece, two noble libraries, to be used as grey paper; and such as having already sufficed for ten years, were abundant enough for many years more.” Such is the testimony of an eye-witness.[138]

All the abbeys were totally dismantled, except in those cases where they happened to be the parish churches also, or where they were rescued in part by the petitions and pecuniary contributions of the pious inhabitants, who were averse to the worshipping of God in a stable. Cranmer and Latimer in some cases petitioned the king; but, as it is proved by their letters, they were too dependent on the court, and too fearful of its wrath to do very much. Latimer was the bolder of the two; and even before the final dissolution, he ventured to condemn in public the practice, which Henry had already adopted, of converting some of the monasteries into stables, conceiving it a monstrous thing that abbeys, which were ordained for the comfort of the poor, should be kept for the king’s horses! “What hast thou to do with the king’s horses?” retorted a noble courtier of the right stamp—“Horses be the maintenance and part of a king’s honour, and also of his realm; wherefore, in speaking against them, ye are speaking against the king’s honour!”[139] The following were the

Results.—The men who had recommended the wholesale spoliation of the church, had represented it as a never-failing fund, which would enable the king to carry on the government with none—or but the slightest taxes; and which would furnish him with the means of creating and supporting earls, barons, and knights, and of forming excellent institutions for the promotion of industry, education, and religion. But, in the event, the property was squandered in a manner which is scarcely accountable; for the king had the conscience to demand from parliament “a compensation for the expenses he had incurred in reforming the religion of the state:” and within a year after the completion of his measures, “the obsequious parliament voted him a subsidy of two-tenths and two-fifteenths for this express purpose. It is a striking fact, that none of the objects contemplated and spoken of were promoted by the money of the religious houses—always excepting the making and supporting of certain noblemen.”[140] Pauperism increased; as the whole body of the poor, which had been supported by the monks, who had funds for that purpose, were thrown, clamorous and desperate—unprepared for, and unprovided with, employment—upon the wondering nation, which had not before been aware of the extent of the evil. Education declined most rapidly; the schools kept in the{88} monasteries were at an end; while other schools, and even the universities, were deserted. Religion was not promoted; for nothing but miserable stipends were given to the preachers, and none but poor and unlettered men would accept the office. To preach at St. Paul’s Cross had been a great object of clerical ambition; but now there was a difficulty of finding a sufficient number of preachers for that duty: and about four years after the final suppression, Bonner, Bishop of London, wrote to Parker, then Master of Corpus College, importuning him to send him some help from Cambridge; and not long after—during the short reign of Edward the Sixth—Latimer said, “I think there be at this day ten thousand students less than were within these twenty years.”

In the Country, “the rural parishes were served by priests who had scarcely the rudiments of education.” Following an example set them by the king—who required Cromwell to give a benefit to a priest who was kept in the royal service, because “he had trained two hawks for his majesty’s pastime, which flew and killed their game very well”[141]—the patrons of livings gave them to their menials as wages or rewards; to their gardeners, to the keepers of their hawks and hounds; or otherwise they let in fee both glebe and parsonage; so that whoever was presented to the benefice would have neither roof to dwell under, nor land to live upon, being but too happy if his tithes afforded him a chamber at an alehouse, with the worshipful society of the dicers and drinkers who frequented it. According to Latimer, the parish priest, under these circumstances, frequently kept an alehouse himself—thus uniting the more profitable calling of a tapster with that of a preacher of the gospel.[142]

So completely were the funds absorbed, and so greedy were the courtiers to keep fast hold of what they got, that no proper recompense was reserved for Miles Coverdale and his associates, who translated and published the first complete English Bible—the greatest achievement of the age, and the measure that most effectually promoted the Reformation. Coverdale himself was left in great poverty; and the printers, in order to cover their expenses, were obliged to put a high price upon their copies—thus impeding the circulation of the book, and thwarting the wishes expressed by the king himself.[143]

In addition to these lamentable facts, the destruction of the monasteries left important gaps in the physical accommodations of the people, which not a pound sterling of the spoil was devoted to fill up. The monasteries had been hospitals, infirmaries, and dispensaries for the poor; caravanseras to the wayfarer; and in the absence of inns, the badness of roads, and the thinness of the{89} population, their value in this respect had been felt both by rich and poor. In many of the wilder districts, the monastery had served as a nucleus of civilization; and sociality, personal safety, and hospitality, were nowhere to be found but within these walls.

CRANMER deplored “the woeful dissipation of church property, which he would have applied to the uses of religion, education, and charity; but he had not often the courage to press this subject with the king, whose displeasure, more easily excited than ever, was equivalent to a death-warrant. The archbishop, however, did what he could with safety to himself; and Henry, startled perhaps by a popular outcry, resolved to appropriate a part of the spoil to the advancement of religion. Parliament passed an act for the establishing of new bishoprics, deaneries, and colleges, which were to be endowed with revenues raised on the lands of the monasteries. But it was too late; the money and lands were gone, or the king and his ministers needed all that remained. The number of new bishoprics was reduced from eighteen to six—those of Westminster, Oxford, Peterborough, Chester, Bristol, and Gloucester; and these were so scantily endowed, that they hardly afforded the new bishops the means of living.” At the same time fourteen abbeys and priories were converted into cathedrals and collegiate churches, with deans and prebendaries; but the king kept to himself a part of the lands which had been attached to them, and charged the Chapters with the obligation of contributing annually to the support of the poor, and the repairing of the highways.[144]

The preamble of the act for the suppression of the lesser monasteries thus concludes: “Whereupon the said Lords and Commons, by a great deliberation, finally be resolved that it is, and shall be, much more to the pleasure of Almighty God, and for the honour of this his realm, that the possessions of such houses now being spent and wasted for the increase and maintenance of sin, should be used and committed to better uses, and the unthrifty religious persons so spending the same, to be compelled to reform their lives.”[145]

Besides that at Canterbury, already noticed,[146] “other shrines had been plundered, and certain miraculous images and relics of saints had been broken in pieces at St. Paul’s Cross, and the machinery exposed, by which some of the monks had deluded the superstitious people;” but now every shrine was laid bare; or, if any escaped, it was owing to the poverty of their decorations and offerings.{90}

Among the rest of these condemned images, there was “a crucifix in South Wales, called by the common people David-Darvel-Gatheren, which, according to an old legend or prophecy, was one day to fire a whole forest. It happened at this time that there was one Forest, a friar, who, after taking the oath of supremacy, repented of the deed, and declared it unlawful; wherefore he was condemned as a relapsed traitor and heretic. Hitherto King Henry, ‘Defender of the Faith,’ had burned the Reformers, and hanged the Catholics; but on the present occasion, he could not resist the temptation to make a point, or to figure as a mighty engine of fate, and a fulfiller of prophecy.” “The miraculous image was accordingly conveyed from Wales to Smithfield, to serve as fuel with faggots and other materials; and there, on the twenty-second of May, 1539, the monk was suspended by the armpits; underneath him was made a fire of the image, wherewith he was slowly burned—and thus by his death making good the prophecy that the image should fire a whole forest. There was a pulpit erected near the stake, from which Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, preached a sermon; and there was also a scaffold in the centre for the accommodation of the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Lord Admiral Howard, the Lord Privy Seal, Cromwell, and divers others of the council; together with Sir Richard Gresham, Lord Mayor, and many citizens of repute, who stayed to witness the frightful execution.”[147] By frequent spectacles like this, the minds of the people were brutalized to a degree previously unknown in England.[148]

From these revolting details of a fierce and persecuting spirit—a spirit opposed in every sense to that of Christianity—we turn with pleasure to the inspiring influence which monastic times and institutions have been supposed to exercise over the dominions of poetry and the fine arts; and of this Warton has transmitted us a glowing sketch:—The customs, institutions, traditions, and religion of the middle ages were favourable to poetry. Their pageants, processions, spectacles, and ceremonies, were friendly to imagery, to personification, and allegory. Ignorance and superstition, so opposite to the real interests of human society, are the parents of imagination. The very devotion of the Gothic times was romantic. The Catholic worship, besides that its numerous{91} exterior appendages were of a picturesque, and even of a poetical nature, disposed the mind to a state of deception, and encouraged, or rather authorized, every species of credulity. Its visions, legends, and miracles, propagated a general propensity to the marvellous, and strengthened the belief of spectres, demons, witches, and incantations. These illusions were heightened by churches of a wonderful mechanism, and constructed on such principles of inexplicable architecture, as had a tendency to impress the soul with every false sensation of religious fear. The savage pomp, the capricious heroism, of the baronial manners, were replete with incident, adventure, and enterprise; and the untractable genius of the feudal policy held forth those irregularities of conduct, discordancies of interest, and dissimilarities of situation, that framed rich materials for the Minstrel-muse.

The tacit compact of fashion, which promotes civility by promoting habits of uniformity—and therefore destroys peculiarities of character and situation—had not yet operated upon life; nor had domestic convenience abolished unwieldy magnificence. Literature, and a better sense of things, not only banished these barbarities, but superseded the mode of composition which was formed upon them. Romantic poetry gave way to the force of reason and inquiry: as its own enchanted palaces and gardens instantaneously vanished, when the Christian champion displayed the shield of truth, and baffled the charms of the necromancer.

The study of the classics, together with a colder magic and a tamer mythology, introduced method into composition; and the universal ambition of rivalling those new patterns of excellence, the faultless models of Greece and Rome, produced that bane of invention—imitation. Erudition was made to act upon genius; fancy was weakened by reflection and philosophy. The fashion of treating everything scientifically, applied speculation and theory to the arts of writing. Judgment was advanced above imagination, and rules of criticism were established. The brave eccentricities of original genius, and the daring hardiness of native thought, were intimidated by metaphysical sentiments of perfection and refinement. Setting aside the consideration of the more solid advantages, which are obvious, and are not the distinct subject of our contemplation at present, the lovers of true poetry will ask, What have we gained by this revolution? It may be answered, Much good sense, good taste, and good criticism: but in the meantime we have lost a set of manners, and a system of machinery, more suitable to the purposes of poetry, than those which have been adopted in their place. We have parted with extravagances that are above propriety; with incredibilities that are more acceptable than truth; and with fictions that are more valuable than reality.[149]{92}

IN addition to what has been already noticed in these pages, respecting the employment of the monks within the walls of their monasteries, and by which they daily contributed to the public good, we present to the reader the following epitome of their industrial habits, as recorded by monastic writers. In every conventual establishment there was a chamber called the Scriptorium, or writing-room; but it was sometimes applied to a more remote place, where there was room for other employments. The only persons who had free access to this apartment were the abbot, prior, sub-prior, and precentor. There was an especial benediction of the Scriptorium. Writing of books, as a monastic employment, is to be found in the earliest eras. Among British monks, St. David, the tutelary saint of Wales, had a study, or writing-room, and began the Gospel of St. John in golden letters with his own hands.

The Antiquarii in monasteries, were industrious men continually employed in making copies of old books, either for the use of the monastery, or for their own emolument. Du Cange says, that Antiquarii were those scribes who repaired, composed, and re-wrote books, old and obsolete with age, in opposition to the Librarii, who wrote both new and old books. Those of the religious community, who were found dull at the study of letters, were employed in writing and making lines. The monastic scribes were certain persons selected by the Abbot. The senior monks were employed on the church books; the junior monks in letter-writing, and matters which required expedition. Du Cange mentions a singular kind of scribes, called Brodiatores, who wrote books and letters in the manner of embroiderers, so lightly representing the object that it almost escaped the sight. It is to such writers, perhaps, that Petrarch thus alludes: “His writing was not wandering, nor loaded like that of writers of our age, who flatter the eye from afar, and fatigue it when near.”[150]

To the credit of the monastic scribes, “very few instances of bad writing,” says the late Mr. Fosbroke, “have occurred during my researches.” In one manuscript, indeed, there was a shocking scrawl, which he took to be the writing of a nun, the lines being irregular, the letters of various size, and of rude make. Writing, after the Norman invasion, was neglected by the Anglo-Saxons. A neat running epistolary hand is quite modern, except among papers written by lawyers. Hamlet says—

“I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair.”

The Gilbertine rule prohibited the employment of hired writers—more probably, as Mr. Fosbroke thinks, limners. “At St. Alban’s, however, such{93} limners, or writers, had commons from the alms of the monks and cellarer, that they might not be interrupted in their work by going out to buy food.” These had the too frequent drunken habits of artisans, who (‘because every man,’ says Johnson, ‘is discontented with his avocation, from the obligation to pursue it at all times, whatever be the state of his mind’) too often abuse relaxation. Barclay, without knowing that stimulants—however injurious, in a prudential and medical view, and never a good means—prevent, by the providential extraction of good from evil, much hypochondriacal influence and tedium, which might end in madness or suicide, says—

“But if thou begin for drinke to call and crave,
Thou for thy calling such good rewarde shalt have,
That men shall call thee malapert or dronke,
Or an abbey loune, or limner of a monke.”—Eclogue 2.[151]

Printing.—This invention occasioned the following results: The scribes having less employment, there were few good artists of this kind, and writing lost much of its former beauty. About the year 1546, when all the religious houses had been dissolved, limners and scribes were reduced to great distress for want of employment; for, besides printing, engraving, “invented about 1460, superseded the illumination of initials and margins. The last specimen was the sectionary of Cardinal Wolsey at Oxford. Besides the rule, it was inquired whether the monks had made, taken, and received the king’s age and succession, according to act of parliament; for they were obliged to record these, and the births of the royal family, as well as other public events.”

Bookbinding was generally very gorgeous; gold, relics, silver plate, ivory, velvet, and other expensive adornments, were bestowed upon the books relating to the church service—hence the vast amount of plunder derived from this source alone at the Dissolution, when the Vandal emissaries, hired for the work of destruction, stripped the sacred books of their gold, silver, and jewels, and sold them to the highest bidder. These ornaments, however, were not confined to the books of the Altar; for we hear of a book of Poems, finely ornamented, bound in velvet, and decorated with silver-gilt clasps and studs, intended for a present to the king.

Books were written on purple vellum, in order to exhibit gold or silver letters, and adorned with ivory tablets. The most common binding was a rough white sheepskin, lapping over the leaves sometimes, with or without immense bosses of brass, pasted upon a wooden board; and sometimes the covers were of plain wood, carved in scroll and similar work. There were formerly leaden books with leaden covers, and books with wooden leaves.[152]{94}

Music-schools, says Davies, were built within the church. Great pains were taken with the pupils, who were instructed in the musical service of the altar.[153] Music, says Giraldus, was so prevalent in the middle age, that even whistling became a fashion and amusement, from being asked for by an archbishop. In his own time, as Erasmus informs us, “they introduced into the church a certain elaborate theatrical species of music, accompanied with a tumultuous diversity of voices. All,” says he, “is full of trumpets, cornets, pipes, fiddles, and singing. We now come to church as to a playhouse; and for this purpose ample salaries are expended on organists, and societies of boys, whose whole time is wasted in learning to sing,—not to mention the great revenues which the church squanders away on the stipends of singing men, who are commonly great drunkards, buffoons, and chosen from the lowest of the people. These fooleries,” he adds, “are so agreeable to the monks, especially in England, that youths, boys, &c., every morning, sing to the organ, the Mass of the Virgin Mary, with the most harmonious modulations of voice; and the bishops are obliged to keep choirs of this sort in their families.”

Libraries.—Mr. Nichols has made the following excellent remarks upon the library of Leicester Abbey:—From the catalogue it seems rather doubtful whether, in the library of this religious house, there might be any one complete collection of all the Holy Scriptures. Supposing Biblie, in the first article, to have included both the Old and the New Testaments, it was a tome defective and worn. The second consisted of each book of the Old Testament only; and the third contained the Gospels, without any mention of the Acts of the Apostles, of the Epistles, or of the Apocalypse. There is, however, a second mention of “Actus Aplor’ gloss’, Apocalyps’ gloss’, Eple Pauli [but of no other apostle] gloss’, Eple Canonice;” and among the last occurs the “Canticus Canticorum.” Perhaps, he adds, there might be some of those Augustine monks, to whom the divine oracles in the learned languages would have been of little use; and yet to these was not indulged a translation in English, there being in the Consistorial Acts at Rochester, the minutes of a rigid process against the Precentor of the priory of that cathedral, for retaining an English Testament, [154]

{95} in disobedience to the general injunction of Cardinal Wolsey, to deliver up these prohibited books to the bishops of the respective dioceses.[155]

It is worthy of remark, that Petrarch, as we learn from his “Memoires,” whenever he made a long journey, carried his books along with him upon extra horses, as carefully as others, passing through the Desert, carry their provisions of daily food.

Leland’s story of the library of the Franciscans at Oxford has been often told: it was only accessible to the warden and bachelors of divinity; was full of cobwebs, moths, and filth; and contained no books of value, the best having been surreptitiously carried away.[156] In the monastic libraries the books were contained in painted presses or almeries. In the Abbatial libraries, according to the catalogues given by Leland, there were only the following classics—Cicero and Aristotle, which were common; Terence, Euclid, Quintus Curtius, Sidonius Apollinaris, Julius Frontinus, Apuleius, and Seneca. From this disregard of the classics—not to the shameful destruction only of the monastic libraries at the Dissolution—probably ensued that loss of the Decades of Livy, &c., which has been so justly lamented.[157]

Museum.—Adjoining the abbey library, says Erasmus, “was a certain small but elegant museum, which, upon the removal of a board, exhibited a fire-place if the weather proved cold, otherwise it appeared a solid wall.[158] Coryatt saw a stuffed crocodile in an abbey”—the one solitary specimen, perhaps, of Natural History.[159]

Upon the utility of profane learning in ecclesiastical studies, Petrarch has thus emphatically expressed himself:—“I know by experience,” he says, “how much human learning may contribute to give just notions, to make a man eloquent, to perfect his morals, and, what is more, to defend his religion. If it be not permitted to read the poets and heathen authors, because they do not speak of Christ, whom they did not know, with how much more reason ought we to prohibit heretical works? Yet the defenders of the Faith studiously peruse them. Profane literature, like certain solid aliment, does not hurt a good stomach, only a weak one. Reading, though wholesome to a sound mind, is poison to a feeble intellect. I know that letters are no obstacles to holiness, as some pretend. There are many roads to heaven. Ignorance is that which the idle take. The sciences may produce as many saints as ignorance. And surely we ought not to compare an ignorant devotion to an enlightened piety.”[160]

Monastic Wit.—Speaking of the wit and humour that often enliven the{96} otherwise dull uniformity of monastic writings—“I met with the following epigram,” says Mr. Fosbroke, “in a MS. of the Ashmole library, of which I have never seen a copy; but as it was in a collection of poems made in the sixteenth century, I cannot tell its age:”—

Marriage, saith one, hath oft compared bin
Unto a fest, where meet a public rout;
Where those that are without would fain get in,
And those that are within would fain get out.

Acrostics were known to the Greeks; but the monks used those of a hieroglyphical kind, which could seldom be divined unless by aid of the inventor himself. In the hollow stonework over the kitchen chimney of Kingswood Abbey in Wilts—already noticed in this work—are a Tiger, hart, ostrich, mermaid, ass, and swan; the initial letters of which make the name of the founder, T h o m a s.[161]

Abbey Seals.—That of Tinterne Abbey, as already noticed in this volume, page 75, is imperfect.[162] Of ecclesiastical and monastic seals, those of a round form generally denoted, according to Lewis and Blomfield, something of royalty in the possessor, or a more than ordinary extent of jurisdiction. Monasteries of royal foundation had commonly round seals; bishops and superiors of houses had usually oval seals; the former held the pastoral staff in their left hands, abbots in their right. The earliest conventual seals commonly bore mere rude representations of their patron saints; the more recent were highly finished, the most common device being the superior of the house praying to the patron saint, who was represented as looking down upon him. Previously to the reign of Edward the Third, the conventual seals represented their patron saints and abbots seated upon thrones; but after this period, they as constantly exhibited these figures sitting or standing beneath canopies and arches. The Patron saint subduing and treading upon the dragon, was symbolical of his overcoming sin. A star, the symbol of the Epiphany, and a crescent of the increase of the Gospel, are frequently introduced into the seals.[163] In the Cistercian and Premonstratensian orders, the custody of the seal, though in general ill observed, was committed to the prior, and four others of the establishment elected for that trust.

Abbeys had not only different seals for different purposes, but these were{97} often altered and changed; though, from the seal of Hyde Abbey being worth fifteen marks, the expense of having them engraved must have been extremely high. But so careless were the monks in the custody of it, that Matthew Paris mentions that it was thrown aside among a chest of papers. The abbot’s Bajulus, or domestic monk, was also the bearer of this seal. A silver seal and chain—‘sigillum argenti cum cathena’—is mentioned as that of a plain monk.[164]

Luxury.—With respect to luxuries—which in some monasteries, it was alleged, were earned to a degree quite inconsistent with their professed abstinence—Thomas Pennant, Abbot of Basingwerk, is said to have given twice the treasure of a king in wine, and was profuse of more humble liquors. The apartments for the reception of persons of quality, according to Davies, were furnished in a most expensive and gorgeous manner. But their profuse expenditure in wine, it must be remembered, was in consequence of a too liberal hospitality; for, while the monks themselves were restricted to a meagre diet, their guests, when men of rank and influence, were plentifully regaled with whatever was best in cellar and larder; and the whole country furnished no better cooks or butlers than were to be found in conventual houses.

CISTERCIAN abbeys, according to Giraldus Cambrensis, avoided all the bad consequences of cells, in the irregularities of their inhabitants, by having none; and by remedying all defects by visitors and chapters. Yet the Abbey of Kingswood, already noticed, was a cell of Tinterne, and the scene of as many irregularities and abuses, perhaps, as the cells of any other monastic order. The brethren who stayed at cells were to be three in every place, or two at least. “In food, in clothing, and the tonsure, they did not vary from the common institution. They kept silence at table, and did not speak in the church. They sung compline at an early seasonable hour, in summer and winter; and did not run about the village or elsewhere.” It was thought a great grievance to be sent to remote cells, or from cell to cell; and scandalous tales were occasionally told of the licentious lives of some of the monks, whom the abbots had sent thither for penance and reformation.[165]

In reference to the introduction of Cistercian monks into England, we annex{98} the following from an old Chronicler:—“About this time,” says he, “by means of one Stephen Hardyng, a munke of Sherburne, an Englyshe man of the order of Sisteaux, or whyte munkes, had his beginning in the wildernesse of Cystery, within the Provynce of Burgoyne, as witnesseth Ranulph, munke of Chester: but other wryters, as Jacobus Philippus, and the auctor of Cronyca Cronycorū, Matheolus, with other sayen, yᵗ this Stephen was the second abbot of yᵗ place, and that it was founded by the means of one Robert, abbot of Molynēse, in the yere of Grace, M.lxxx.xviij, which, to follow their sayinge, shulde be in the ix yere of yᵉ reyne of this Kynge” [Rufus.] “This order was after brought into Englande by one called Walter Espeke, that founded the firste abbey of yᵗ religion at Ryuall [Rivaux], about the yere of Grace xi.c.xxxi., the which shulde be about the xxxi. yere of the firste Henry, than Kynge of Englande.” This last is the correct date of the introduction of white friars into this country, and he adds:—“Somewhat of their religion is towched in the x chapitre of the vii boke of Polychronicon.”[166]

Abbey Windows.—Warton says the stem of Jesse was a favourite subject, and Sugerius thus proves it: “I have caused to be painted a beautiful variety of new windows from the first, which begins with the stem of Jesse in the caput ecclesiæ, or part where the altar was erected. Any miraculous events happening to persons were represented in their chapels and churches in stained glass, or such as happened within the knowledge of the erector. Common subjects were a genealogical series of benefactors; arms and figures of donors of lights; the seven sacraments of the Romish Church; many crowned heads, with curled hair and forked beards, represent the Edwards, Richard the Second, and Henry the Fourth; whole length figures with crowns and sceptres, Jewish kings, connected with some Scriptural history, universally so when in profile.” The principal subjects in the great window of Tinterne Abbey appear to have been arms and figures of the founder, and of a series of benefactors. The last fragment, after many years of desolation, was a shield of the Bigod family.

Cowls.—With respect to the habit, it is recorded that many noblemen, and others of high rank, gave directions that, after their decease, they should be dressed in monk’s gear, and be thus consigned to the grave. This was a very common practice in Wales; for as it was written, that “all were monks who shall gain heaven, or rather that there were none there but monks,”[167] it became{99} necessary to assume the garb at least, as a safe though surreptitious passport to those happy seats. It was usual in some cases to wear the garb during sickness only, and lay it aside on the return of health; in others, to keep it in reserve for their death. Lewis, Landgrave of Hesse, said to his attendants—“As soon as I am dead, put on me the hood of the Cistercian order; but take very diligent care not to do so while I am living.”[168]

MSS., Books.—In addition to what has been already quoted on this subject, it was long a proverbial saying, that a convent without a library, was like a castle without an armoury. When the monastery of Croydon was burnt in 1091, its library, according to Ingulphus, consisted of nine hundred volumes, of which three hundred were very large. “In every great abbey,” says Warton, “many writers were constantly busied in transcribing, not only the service-books for the choir, but books for the library.”[169] The Scriptorium of St. Alban’s Abbey was built by Abbot Paulin, a Norman, who ordered many volumes to be written there about the year 1080. Archbishop Lanfranc furnished the copies. Estates were often granted for the support of the Scriptorium. We find some of the classics written in the English monasteries very early. Henry, a Benedictine monk of Hyde Abbey, near Winchester, transcribed, in the year 1178, Terence, Boethius, Suetonius, and Claudian. Of these he formed one book, illuminating the initials, and forming the brazen bosses of the covers with his own hands. Other instances of the same kind are added. The monks were much accustomed both to illuminate and to bind books, as well as to transcribe them. “The scarcity of parchment,” it is afterwards observed, “undoubtedly prevented the transcription of many other books in these societies. About the year 1120, one Master Heugh, being appointed by the monastery of St. Edmondsbury, in Suffolk, to write and illuminate a grand copy of the Bible for their library, could procure no parchment for this purpose in England.” Paper made of cotton, however, was certainly in common use in the twelfth century; though no evidence exists that the improved kind, manufactured from linen rags, was known till about the middle of the thirteenth.[170]

The pavement lately discovered in the Abbey Church of Tinterne, and{100} described at page 42 of this volume, forms an interesting relic of its internal decorations. There is abundant proof, in the Norman centuries, that mosaic work was adopted as an embellishment of the high altar, and, as in the present instance, in the front of shrines. At first, these pavements exhibited scripture stories, painted upon glazed bricks and tiles of an irregular shape, fitted together as the colour suited, and upon the same plan as the glass in windows. By an improvement in the succeeding ages, the bricks, as in the specimen before us, were made equilateral, and about four inches square; which, when arranged and connected, produced an effect closely resembling the Roman designs, yet wanting their simplicity and taste. The wreaths, circles, and single compartments, retain marks of Gothic incorrectness, and of as gross deviation from the original as the Saxon mouldings.

At what period heraldic devices were introduced cannot be ascertained with precision; but it is probable that, when they were first carved or painted upon escutcheons, or stained in glass, the floors received them likewise as a new ornament. The arms of founders and benefactors were usually inserted during the middle centuries after the Conquest, when many of the greater abbeys employed kilns for preparing them, from which the conventual, and their independent parish, churches were supplied. Some writers have conjectured that the painted tiles were made by Italian artists settled in this country; and it has been thought that monks, having acquired the art of painting and preparing them for the kiln in the manner of porcelain, amused their leisure hours by designing and finishing them.

The altar-pavement here under notice is of an early period; but in those of a later age, when the branch of encaustic painting had reached perfection, the exquisite delicacy and variety of the colours—though seldom of more than two—are particularly discernible. The use of these painted bricks, or tiles, was confined to consecrated places, almost without exception; and those discovered since the Reformation have been all found upon the sites of convents, preserved either in churches or in houses, to which tradition confirms their removal.[171]

Amongst the encaustic relics of a later date, family arms, impaled and quartered, as well as scrolls, rebuses, and ciphers, are very frequent. In the present instance, the tile exhibits a quartering of the Clare and Bigod shields. In others, the arms are interspersed with various devices, or single figures, such as griffons, spread eagles, roses, fleurs-de-lis, &c., of common heraldic usage, but not individually applied. It appears that in some instances they formed a kind of tesselated pavement, the middle representing a maze, or labyrinth,{101} about two feet in diameter, so artfully contrived that a man, following all the intricate meanders of its volutes, could not travel less than a mile before he got from one end to the other. The tiles are baked almost to vitrifaction, and wonderfully resist damp and wear.[172] Actual tesselated pavements once existed. A manuscript Anglo-Saxon Glossary, cited by Junius, says—“Of this kind of work, mosaic in small dies, little is used in England. Howbeit, I have seen of it a specimen upon church floors, before altars—as before the high altar at Westminster—though it be but gross.”[173]

Abbey Wire-works.—Among the objects of local industry in Tinterne, to which the stranger’s attention is usually directed, the Abbey Wire-works are the most interesting. “These,” to quote the words of the late Mr. Thomas, “as well as the stately pile in their vicinity, amongst whose silent recesses the tourist has so often and fondly trodden, are also the dominions of Art. But how widely different is the scene! Here she is met with in her busy laboratory, controlling and directing the energies of mankind, and seizing upon the very subjects of nature—the gurgling water and the lambent flame—to make them tributaries to her ambitious designs; whilst there, in the precincts of that ruined fane, she is beheld indolently reclining in the flowery lap of her indulgent rival—just as we have seen the wasted form of a lovely maiden pillowed on the bosom of her elder sister, and gently languishing through the departing hours of her insidious disease.”

It was in the seventeenth century, during the times of the Stuart dynasty, that certain Swedish and German artisans, flying from continental tyranny, were induced to seek an asylum within the pale of the British constitution, and introduce into their adopted country the art of forging wire. They were received with open arms; locations were assigned them, denominated Seats; and a privilege of a vote in parliamentary elections, with an exemption from taxes, were constituted as part of the favours which our discerning government thought proper to confer. Of these seats Tinterne was one from the very first immigration; and here many of the descendants of the original settlers are still employed in the handicraft of their forefathers. Of the methods used in the manufacture of iron-wire before the introduction of improved machinery, tradition has preserved the following outline:—

“A large beam was erected across the factory, to which were affixed as many seats—in the form of large wooden scales—as there were men employed, who were fastened in them by means of a girdle round their bodies. The artificers were employed near each other, while between them stood a piece of iron pierced with holes of different dimensions, for reducing the wire to an appro{102}priate size. The worked iron was heated; the beam was put in motion by a water-wheel; and as the workmen swung backwards and forwards, they passed and repassed the iron through the holes described with forceps, until it was reduced by force to the required diameter. The motion was regulated; and if any workman chanced to miss seizing the iron with his forceps, he suffered a considerable shock on the return of the beam.”

On the introduction of the improved system of wire factories, the nature of the contracts between the principals and their workmen underwent a necessary change. The struggle, however, was continued for some time, but ultimately subsided in the adoption of the present plan, and the alterations which it introduced. Under the management of the late Mr. Thompson—whose mausoleum forms a conspicuous object in the adjoining cemetery—the Tinterne Wire Works acquired a new impetus, which has been successfully kept up by his able and intelligent successor.

Natural History.—On this interesting subject, we take advantage of the following notes from the journal of the late Mr. Thomas of Tinterne:—April 2d, half-past seven A.M. Notwithstanding a cold north-easterly wind, with fugitive showers, I saw a nightingale, for the first time this year, on the road to Chapel Hill, perched upon the topmost branch of a budding thorn. He uttered one or two of those rich, cheerful, metallic notes, so characteristic of his song; and quickly returned to his busy search for food amongst the low bushes adjoining. One of my friends informed me that he had listened to its music the evening before; and another averred that he had heard the nightingale as early as the second week of March. If these accounts be true, which I have not the slightest reason to doubt, they seem to favour the idea that some of these lovely songsters hibernate amongst us. Naturalists, by common consent, name the last week of April as the period of their ordinary arrival in this island. It seems probable, however, that those which winter amongst us undergo some variation of plumage, which may lead a cursory observer—if he did not pass them by unnoticed—to confound them with the female redbreast, the hedge-sparrow, or some other unpretending bird.

In point of song from Nature’s choristers, says an enthusiastic admirer of the Wye, these woods might challenge all England. It is impossible to enjoy a higher treat of the kind than the harmony of these little warblers on a fine summer’s evening, when, on each side of the Wye, they seem to vie with each other in the richness and fullness of their notes. Mr. Heath had the following anecdote from Signor Rossignol, so celebrated for his imitations of the feathered tribes:—“While at Monmouth,” said he, “I often walked towards Hadnock at a late hour of the night, for the purpose of comparing my own notes with{103} those which I attempted to imitate. First, I began with those of the blackbird, when every bird of that species within hearing would instantly awake as it were with the rapture of day. Then came the thrush, next the nightingale, and so on, until I had called forth the song of every bird in the woods; and thus I continued to amuse myself for an hour together. If, in the meantime, a traveller happened to be passing the road, he was immediately forced to conclude that he had quite mistaken the time of day!”[174]

Walnut-trees.—The Abbey appears to have been sheltered and enriched in its prosperous days by extensive orchards; but of the lofty walnut-trees, that formerly spread their luxuriant branches in its vicinity, one only remains. These trees were of great age: under their shadow many generations of monks and pilgrims had found shelter and repose; but having long survived their patrons, and attained that fatal majesty which insured their destruction, the axe was applied with ruthless force to their stems; they were hewn down, burnt, or sold; and the rich soil, from which they had derived their strength and fertility for centuries, was converted into patches of cabbage and potato ground, profusely bordered with weeds, and enlivened with pigsties that, to imaginative tourists, perhaps, may recall the memory of Friar Bacon.

The Abbot’s Meadow.—“I have often felt incommunicable delight,” writes Mr. Thomas, “in a walk southward along the meadows skirting the Wye. During the bright summer evenings, the glorious sun tinges the summits of the encircling hills with his oblique golden rays, while a gentle breeze makes the ripening grass wave in elegant undulations. How sweet at that pensive hour to sit upon the sedgy bank, and hear the artless music of the feathery tribes! The reedwren chants his vesper-song; full many a robin swells it by his perennial response; whilst the inimitable thrush and tender cushat revive the thrilling echo on the distant cliff.”

During this concert, “you turn round to behold the abbey embosomed amidst apple-trees, and so singularly foreshortened that the beautiful western window appears through the eastern. The entrance of the western valley is at the same time so happily disposed, that the effulgent light of the setting sun is seen{104} through the roseate windows, gilding the interior of the abbey with an unearthly brightness; whilst, to complete the scene, multitudes of noisy daws are seen careering in fanciful circles, high in the balmy air, before they retire to roost within the mantling ivy of the ‘roofless house of God.’

At such an hour how appropriate the lines:—

“When day, with farewell beam, delays
Among the opening clouds of even,
And we could almost think we gaze
Through golden vistas into heaven;
Those hues which mark the sun’s decline,
So soft, so radiant, Lord, are thine!”—Moore.

At length a poetic sound breaks upon the ear—the whetting of a scythe; and how picturesque are the fields beyond! After passing through a succession of luxurious meadows, you arrive at the humble and ivied ruins of a Piscatory. This building is apparently of ancient date, and was intended to supply the monastery during those numerous fasts in which the good abbots were wont to exchange “the very best meat for the very best fish.”[175] Soon after passing this ruin, the hitherto placid Wye falls noisily over a broad and shallow weir, and the steep wood encroaches upon its rocky bank. Our footsteps, therefore, pursue a sinuous path through its deep and pensive shade, until we somewhat suddenly emerge upon a tabular meadow, encompassed by an amphitheatre of ivied rocks, a stupendous rampart, at whose base the Wye is winding, and, at the same time, reflecting in its peaceful bosom the majestic scene.[176]

Climate of Tinterne.—On this subject, a late intelligent medical practitioner at Tinterne says:—“I may here remark, that I am unacquainted with any warmer spot than this in England. Protected on the north and west by a steep hill, it is open alone to the east and south: it has therefore the sun upon it during the greater part of the day. On the third of February, 1839, at half-past 2 in the afternoon,” he adds, “while my thermometer on the mantel-shelf over the fire ranged at 60°, it rose to 99° outside the door. At nightfall, which ushered in a severe frost, the mercury fell to 44°. On the twenty-third of the same month, at 3 o’clock P.M., the thermometer ranged at 109° Fahrenheit, or nearly 34° Reaumur; at half-past 11 at night, the mercury fell to 45° Fahr. On the fifteenth of May, at 12.16 P.M., the thermometer on the mantel-shelf indicated 50° Fahr. At 3 P.M. a violent snow-storm came on, succeeded at nightfall by a nipping frost.” These facts sufficiently indicate

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The Door into the Cloister.

Tinterne Abbey.


the capricious nature of the climate of Tinterne, where the transitions from a winter to a high summer temperature, and vice versa, are so frequent and remarkable.

Incidental Remarks.—During the plunder of this abbey church, which was long carried on with impunity, many interesting relics of antiquity appear to have been either mutilated, or carried off and sold. Among other fragments of ancient art, was a brass hand grasping a spear, taken from a tomb in the church in which was found a body entire, with leathern buskins, and buttons on the coat; but which, on exposure to the air, crumbled into dust. Human skeletons, we are told, were found in an orchard to the eastward, formerly the abbey cemetery. From the size of these—monks or soldiers—it was ascertained that their living owners must have been considerably beyond the common stature. On the legs of one of them were found cloth buskins in apparent preservation; while the metal studs, or buttons, it is added, were almost bright. No coffins were found; the bodies were simply deposited under large flat stones; and were probably of an order inferior to those interred within the church. Adjoining the north door, a portion of wall, long supposed to be the side of a cloister, was at last stripped of the ivy that covered it, and disclosed a range of fine Gothic windows.[177] And when the rubbish that encumbered the entrance leading into the cross aisle was removed, two stones were found inscribed with the following memorials:—

Hic jacet Johannes de Lynas.
Hic jacet Henricus de Lancaut.[178]

At the entrance by the west doorway a flight of steps was also discovered, which at the time was supposed to communicate with a vault, or crypt, under the church. But the passage was not explored; and the stone with which the opening was originally covered, was restored to its place. It is the opinion of antiquaries, however, that there is no crypt, or vault, under the church. Of

Tinterne village, which still seems to derive its support from casual visitors to the abbey, much cannot be said in commendation. Little, if any improvement seems to have been made for many years, owing, we were told, to the restrictions laid upon building. With encouragement in this respect alone—or even with the ordinary accommodations of a spacious inn[179]—the place might speedily change its complexion, and become a cheerful and thriving hamlet. But, as in the days of Gilpin, it presents nothing inviting. The penury of the inhabi{106}tants may be less remarkable; “but they still occupy little huts raised among the ruins of the monastery, and seem as if a place, once devoted to indolence, could never again become the seat of industry.” “As we left the abbey,” says he, “we found the whole hamlet at the gate, either openly soliciting alms, or covertly, under pretence of carrying us to some part of the ruins which each could show, and which was far superior to anything which could be shown by any one else. The most lucrative occasion could hardly have excited more jealousy and contention.” In the present day, the duties of the abbey cicerone are performed by a sensible and well-informed guide, named Christian Payne.

Of the accommodations to be had at Tinterne Abbey in his day, Captain Barber has left the following reminiscence:—“Having despatched an attendant for a barber on my arrival at the inn, a blacksmith was forthwith introduced, who proved to be the only shaver in the place. The appearance of this man, exhibiting, with all the grim sootiness of his employment, his brawny arms bare to the shoulders, did not flatter me with hopes of a very mild operation; nor were they increased when he produced a razor that, for massiveness, might have served a Polyphemus. I sat down, however, and was plentifully besmeared with soap-suds. After this he attempted to supply the deficiency of an edge, by exerting his ponderous strength in three or four such vigorous scrapes as, without exciting my finer feelings, drew more tears into my eyes than might have sufficed for a modern tragedy. I waited no longer; but releasing myself from his iron gripe, determined to pass for a Jew Rabbi, rather than undergo the penance of another ‘shaving at Tinterne.’

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Plan of the Abbey.—The following simplified description may probably assist the reader to form a correct notion of the sacred and conventual buildings, of which the abbey was originally composed; and of the various compartments into which, in their former and perfect condition, these were so admirably arranged and subdivided:—

Entering the church by the west doorway, the visitor passes along the nave, with the “pillared aisles” on his right and left, and the newly-discovered pavement. In the distance, and directly opposite, under the great east window, is the high altar, as distinctly shown in the engraved illustration. Moving along the{107} nave, he observes five distinct clustered pillars, surmounted by the magnificent arches, described in these pages. At the commencement of the north and south transepts, he will examine the bases of the four massive columns which formerly supported the great central tower; the doors and windows of the transepts; the sepulchral fragments scattered along the smooth grassy parterre of the choir; then, at the north-west corner of the north transept, he will ascend a few steps of a spiral staircase leading to the top of the church; and, from the gallery which runs round within the wall, look down on the scene before and beneath him. Descending to the transept floor, he will enter a door near the angle where the nave and north transept unite; and entering a passage northward, through a richly ornamented doorway, he will observe the following apartments, viz.:—

The Cloister on the left, forming a considerable quadrangle, the sides of which are of the same length as the nave of the church, on which it closely abuts, running parallel with it to the west doorway, and bordering the public road. Here, also, are some mutilated sepulchral effigies of ancient abbots, crosses, &c., from which the inlaid brasses have been sacrilegiously purloined. On the right hand of the visitor, as he enters, is the ancient

Vestry, or sacristy, an oblong chamber, divided into two compartments, the second of which opens by a doorway into the North Transept. Closely adjoining this on the north, is

The Chapter-house, of the same form and dimensions as the vestry, but not subdivided. Farther again on the right is a large hall, with the remains of five central pillars that supported the arched stone roof, supposed to be the ancient

Hospitium, or guest-chamber, already described in these pages. On the east of this, and running parallel with it, are the remains of offices or apartments—probably dormitories—the precise use of which has not been ascertained. Beyond, eastward, lay the Cemetery. Adjoining the Hospitium on the west, and connecting it with the Refectory, are several small buildings, with the remains of other dormitories on the upper floor. Immediately adjoining this, on the west, is the

Refectory, a spacious hall, in which the brethren, as already described, sat at table. The Lectern, or pulpit-desk, at which a reader presided during meals, is still visible about the middle of the west side. From the refectory, a tourniquet-door, for the passage of viands only, communicated with the kitchen; and close to this is the dole, where the indigent and wayfaring poor were daily supplied with victuals and refreshments. The kitchen runs parallel with the cloisters, and the west entrance of the church, along the public road leading to the ferry.{108}

The Scale annexed to the Plan of the Abbey—as shown by the woodcut—will enable the reader to ascertain, with tolerable accuracy, the dimensions of all the compartments named.

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1 Doorway leading into the Cloisters.
2 Effigies of Abbots—the brasses removed.
3 Door leading into the Vestiary and Sacristy.
4 The Chapter-house—bases of pillars.
5 Supposed Hospitium, or Guest-Hall—bases of central pillars.
6 Buildings, with dormitories in the upper floor.
7 The Lectern, or Reading-Desk, during meals.
8 Tesselated pavement, lately discovered.
9 Staircase leading to the Triforia, and top of the abbey.
10 Aperture for serving the dishes from the kitchen.
11 Dole, for the distribution of food to the poor.
Proportions.—Length of Chancel and Nave, 228 feet.
Length of Transepts across, 150
Height of the Tower Arches, 70
Height of the lesser Arches, 30

As a specimen of the marvellous connected with these ruins, we cannot resist introducing another characteristic

Legend.—A party of gentlemen—horresco referens—who had inspected the abbey, employed several labourers to dig in the orchard adjoining, in hopes of discovering some antiquities. Part of one day and the following night were spent in this employment, when at last they were successful, and two human skeletons were discovered. Next day the same party resolved to celebrate their discovery by a dinner in the abbey. But scarcely had they commenced their sacrilegious repast, when a thick darkness overspread the horizon; deep thunder raised its tremendous voice, and shook the surrounding hills; lightnings flashed

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Tintern Abbey.

West Front.


throughout the ruin in sheets of livid flame; hail, succeeded by torrents of rain, deluged the plain, and

“Peal on peal
Crashed horrible, convulsing earth and heaven!”

During this sudden and tremendous visitation, the indignant spirit of Strongbow—accompanied by the spectral forms of many whose death-sleep had been thus wantonly disturbed—arose from the grave, and fixed his eyes upon the petrified strangers. Then raising his gauntleted hand, he pointed to the abbey door—which at the sight had mysteriously opened—and sternly beckoned the impious visitors to depart! The awful signal was instantly obeyed; and some crawling, others trembling—all pale and speechless, the daring adventurers rushed from his presence, they knew not how, and fled they knew not whither; while the savoury viands left behind them were instantly swept over the abbey walls in a whirlwind.

The Engraved Views of Tinterne Abbey.

I.—The West Entrance,[180] a beautiful specimen of Decorated Gothic; the principal feature of which is the great west window, of which all visitors and writers on this subject have expressed their unqualified admiration. The stonework of this magnificent feature is nearly entire; the five mullions, tall, slender, and elaborately moulded, retain their original forms; and, terminating in the rich flowing tracery that fills and completes the arch, appear as if they wanted nothing but the ancient painted glass to restore the window to its primitive splendour. The ivy inserting itself into every joint, and hanging in graceful festoons, seems more like artificial garlands woven in honour of a fête day, than as the sure emblem and evidence of dilapidation and decay. Beneath this window is the richly-carved double doorway leading into the nave. On the right hand is another window communicating with the southern aisle, surmounted by a window of three compartments, and two buttresses terminating in pinnacles, of which only one remains. On the left hand is the north aisle, in form and dimensions exactly corresponding with the former, but much less perfect. Closely adjoining this were the abbey cloisters, the remains of which have been noticed in a former page.

II.—The Vale of Tinterne,[181] as it is seen from a point—in the woods covering the left bank of the Wye—called the Devil’s Pulpit. This engraving{110} conveys a most correct, beautiful, and comprehensive view of the abbey, and its circumjacent scenery. In the backgrounds is seen the hill country stretching westward towards Monmouth. On the left, crowning an eminence that overlooks the village and abbey, stands the church of Chapel-hill, with the characteristic feature of an immense yew-tree expanding its gloomy branches over the cemetery. Beneath is seen the public road from Chepstow running westward, and branching off in the village to right and left; the latter branch running along the hills towards Raglan, and the former following the course of the Wye to Monmouth. To the right, under the wooded rocks which appear to overhang its channel, the Wye is seen making a curve like a horseshoe, so as to form a peninsula, the outer rim of which, as described in the text, is lined with houses that rise one above the other, and planted here and there with tall poplars, and refreshed with numerous springs and rivulets, that, after murmuring down the rocks, throw their crystal tribute into the Wye. Here the river is seen enlivened with passage-boats, by means of which a daily communication between the villages above and below the abbey is kept open for the conveyance of market produce, or the convenience of passengers.

In the foreground lies the glory of the scene—the abbey and its appendages—the latter much curtailed; but once, as history informs us, enclosing the goodly space of thirty-four acres. The view looks down upon the conventual church, showing the nave and transepts in their cruciform proportions, with the magnificent east window opening upon some rich productive orchards, the ground of which was consecrated in former times as the abbey cemetery. Stretching along the river eastward is a luxuriant tract of pasture land, called the Abbots’ Meadows, already described. Nothing can be more soothing and tranquil than this scene, embosomed, as it is, among sylvan landscapes, and bordered by a river whose smooth yet swift-flowing waters are heard in the calm summer evening like distant music.

“And ever, as the summer sun goes down,
From bank to bank, amidst yon leafy bower,
The woodland songsters trill harmonious notes;
Till every tree that crowns the verdant steep,
Or shades the stream, that flows in amber light,
Sends forth its melody.”

III.—From the Chancel, westward.[182] This is justly considered to be the most imposing view in the whole abbey; and is that to which every stranger visiting the ruins is conducted at the close of his survey. The point from which it is taken, is under the area of the great tower, near the further angle of the north transept and chancel. Looking through the lofty arches that supported{111} the central tower, it takes in the west window, the window of the north aisle, the nave, and on the right, the doorway leading into the cloisters—of which an engraving is here given—with the massive clustered pillars, lofty and delicately moulded arches, in which an airy lightness, combined with strength and solidity, strike the spectator with feelings of awe and admiration, to which it is hardly possible to give expression—

“Silence sublime, and stillness how profound;
Yet every arch, with clustered ivy hung,
And every column, as thou gazest round,
Seems to address thee in thy native tongue;
Telling how first these mighty structures rose,
And how they fell beneath their Vandal foes.”

In the centre are the two sepulchral slabs, already described in another portion of the text; and on the left, leaning against the base of one of the pillars, is a mutilated statue, supposed to be that of Roger Bigod, or Gilbert de Clare, as shown in the woodcut, page 41. In various parts of the chancel, choir, and transepts, as well as in the nave and aisles, many dilapidated fragments are collected in heaps; among which the visitor will distinguish pieces of elaborate carving, particularly some ingenious and fancifully sculptured bosses, the connecting ornaments of the richly-groined roof that once overhung this gorgeous temple, and echoed back the anthems of its assembled choir.

IV.—From the Ferry,[183] on the opposite or left bank of the Wye. On the foreground is the landing-place, from which a road,[184] or bridle-path, winding along the wooded heights, already noticed in our description of the ‘Devil’s Pulpit,’ presents many picturesque, and some romantic points of view. The river is here the boundary line between the counties of Monmouth and Gloucester, or, anciently, between England and South Wales. Directly opposite, and terminating the causeway leading up from the ferry, is an archway, the ancient watergate of the abbey. Through this gate the monastery received its supplies from the barges that daily ascended and descended the river, or lay at anchor under the protection of the abbey; for here, we were told, there is depth of water—which is increased at every tide—sufficient to float vessels of seventy tons burthen. The grove, which occupies the space between the water and the abbey walls, consists chiefly of apple and pear-trees, which form a continuous girdle of orchards round the abbey church, and are particularly luxuriant and productive, on the site of the ancient burial-ground. The ring of offices with which the abbey was originally enclosed on nearly three sides, has almost disappeared, leaving only the foundations, upon which, from time to time, mean{112} hovels have been hastily thrown together—ill adapted for the health, comfort, or even convenience of human beings.

The prominent features of the abbey as seen from this point, and taken in detail are—the nave, terminating in the great west window, with its own five lancet-pointed windows rising above the trees; the north transept, part of the south, and two windows of the chancel.

Following the course of the river eastward, richly-wooded rocks are seen, closing the landscape, and commanding the minute and beautiful view of the “Vale of Tinterne,” already given as an illustration. All beyond the white sail on the stream is a scene of richly-wooded rocks on the left bank, and on the right a wide expanse of smooth and verdant meadows. The hills, immediately overlooking the abbey on the south, possess the same picturesque character as those opposite, but are enlivened by more frequent habitations, and with more traces of industry and cultivation. The ferry-house, close to the watergate, presents some features of antiquity; and stands, probably, on the old foundation of what was occupied by the abbot’s Charon of the olden time. A glance at the debris, under which some of the monastic buildings here lie half buried, suggests an idea that, with due permission and encouragement, antiquaries could hardly fail to discover excellent “diggings” in these purlieus. But thus far the prying archæologist has been regarded with suspicion and distrust, and condemned to look upon the antiquities of Tinterne as treasures laid up for the benefit of future generations.

V.—Doorway leading into the Cloisters.—This beautiful specimen of art is one of the very finest in the abbey. The elegance of the design is only surpassed by the elaborate taste and skill displayed in its execution. The clustered mouldings of the doorway; the wavy multifoil outline of the inner arch; the beautifully carved ornament that surrounds the whole like a riband of delicate lacework; the whole crowned with the symbolic trefoil resting on the apex of the arch, present a combination of features—all harmonizing, and all elaborately adjusted to one another—rarely to be met with even among the masterpieces of Decorated Gothic.[185]

Looking through this doorway, the window in the distance is that of the southern aisle, through which are seen the woods on the opposite hill; and inside the walls the ivy is seen climbing in verdant masses along the arches and pillars of the nave. Under the broken steps, where the group of figures is represented, are the remains of sepulchral stone-slabs, covering the resting-place of the old abbots, and formerly inlaid with the symbols of their holy office, as

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The Door from Cloister into Sacristy.

Tintern Abbey.


represented in the engraving. But the brasses have long since disappeared, and left only the empty grooves to which they had been so elaborately adjusted by the skilful artists of that day. Brasses, or Latten, are considered to be good illustrations of the architecture of their period, owing to the designs of canopies, crosiers, &c. delineated upon them. They are seldom to be met with in any reign prior to that of Edward the Second; nor did they become general till towards the close of the fourteenth century, when the effigies are commonly surmounted by arched canopies, ogee-shaped and crocketed, of the same kind of inlaid work elaborately engraven. These subsequently vary, according to the style of the age, and in general rather preceding than following it. Of the brasses, which—owing to the rank and character of its founder and benefactors, as well as its abbots and others—must have formed no inconsiderable feature in the decorations of Tinterne Abbey, not a fragment remains.

Where Latten marked the abbots’ grave,
And sculpture spread her trophies round it;
Rank weeds in wild luxuriance wave,
And mock the gaudy shrine that crowned it.
Here, they who for the Cross had died,
And they who led the way to glory—
Here mitred pomp, and martial pride,
Have not a stone to tell their story.

VI.—Doorway leading into the Sacristy.—This is a double doorway—a specimen of the Early English—divided by a moulded shaft, with a circular opening, or quatrefoil, over it. The outer arch is deeply ‘recessed,’ consisting of five or six successive shafts, or mouldings, on either side, without capitals, and meeting above at the centre of the arch. The inner arches are foliated, and the cusps richly fluted. Clasping this elegant and massive structure, the ivy has so incorporated itself with the masonry, that—massive as it is—art must gradually yield to that natural process which seems to make every root of ivy, if once insinuated between the jointed stones, act like a fulcrum for their dislodgment—

“Ha, ha!” laughs the Ivy, “let men uprear
Their ‘Castles and Abbeys,’ far and near;
Pile upon pile, let their fabrics rise,
Darkening the earth, and mocking the skies;
Lifting their turrets so haughtily—
Boasting their grandeur—but what care I?
Buttress and bastion, cloister and hall—
I conquer them all—I conquer them all!

VII.—The Refectory.[186]—Of this building enough remains to show, that, in their palmy days, the Abbots of Tinterne had a truly noble hall for their pri{114}vate and state entertainments. Of refectories in general, some account has been already given at page 51 of this volume. Of the style of architecture employed in this dining-hall, the numerous windows, with their mullioned partitions, tall shafts, and foliated arches, face-shafts, and corbel heads along the walls, from which sprang the lofty groined vault that covered and connected the whole, present a tolerably distinct picture.

“Along the roof a maze of mouldings slim,
Like veins that o’er the hand of lady wind,
Embraced in closing arms the key-stone trim,
With hieroglyphs and cyphers quaint combined,
The riddling art that charmed the Gothic mind.”

With regard to the minor details, we may notice the dole, a small double aperture, near the archway on the left; and on the opposite side, is another door through which the dishes were handed in from the kitchen. Near the dole is a low-arched doorway in the eastern wall, showing the passage by which communication was kept up with the adjoining offices, the hospitium, the locutorium, and the dormitories. The situation of the reading-desk, or lectern, will be seen by referring to the new plan of the abbey here introduced; and this closes our notice of the engraved illustrations.

“On the whole,” says Grose, summing up his observations on Tinterne, “though this monastery is undoubtedly light and elegant, it wants that gloomy solemnity so essential to religious ruins; it wants those yawning vaults and dreary recesses, which strike the beholder with religious awe—make him almost shudder at entering them, and call into his mind all the tales of the nursery. Here, at one cast of the eye, the whole is comprehended, nothing is left for the spectator to guess or explore; and this defect is increased by the ill-placed neatness of the poor people who show the building, and by whose absurd labour the ground is covered over by a turf, as even and trim as that of a bowling-green, which gives the building more the air of an artificial ruin in a garden, than that of an ancient decayed abbey.”

“How unlike,” he adds, “the beautiful description of the poet!—

‘Half-buried there lies many a broken bust,
And obelisk and urn, o’erthrown by time,
And many a cherub here descends in dust,
From the rent roof and portico sublime;
Where reverend shrines in Gothic grandeur stood,
The nettle or the noxious nightshade spreads;
And ashlings, wafted from the neighbouring wood,
Through the worn turrets wave their trembling heads.’

These objections have been repeated by other writers of unquestionable taste; but we may venture to predict, that among the numerous strangers who annually resort to these deserted shrines, few will return home without expressions of unqualified admiration of “Tinterne, as it is.” The care employed by its noble owner in arresting the progress of decay, is creditable to his taste and reverence for antiquity. Had these ruins been consigned, as some would have had them, to the wasting hand of time, their vaulted wonders would long ere now have fallen piecemeal into the area beneath; but wherever a stone is observed to be losing its hold, the hand of art is immediately applied to restore it to its original place: and thus, what might have passed away in a few inclement seasons, has been propped up and secured for the delight of many generations to come.

And lo, these mouldering fragments to sustain,
Her graceful network nature’s hand hath hung;
Bound every arch with a supporting chain,
And round each wall her living verdure flung;
And o’er the floor that sepulchres the dead—
The saints and heroes of departed years;
The flower of memory lifts its modest head,
And morning sheds her tributary tears.—W.B.

Poetical Votaries.—Having quoted so largely from chroniclers and other prose writers in the preceding pages, we must not quit the subject of Tinterne Abbey, without selecting a few stanzas from those minstrels who have sought and found inspiration on the spot. Wordsworth, from whose poem on the Wye we have already quoted, addresses the following

Lines to a Cistercian Monastery.

‘Here man more purely lives, less oft doth fall,
More promptly rises, walks with nicer heed,
More safely rests, dies happier; is freed
Earlier from cleansing fires, and gains withal
A brighter crown.’ On yon Cistercian wall
That confident assurance may be read;
And, to like shelter, from the world have fled
Increasing multitudes. The potent call
Doubtless shall cheat full oft the heart’s desire;
Yet, while the rugged age on pliant knee
Vows to rapt Fancy humble fealty,
A gentler life spreads round the holy spires;
Where’er they rise the sylvan waste retires,
And aëry harvests crown the fertile lea.

Tinterne Abbey on the Wye.

Sudden the change; at once to tread
The grass-grown mansions of the dead.
Awful to feeling, where, immense,
Rose ruin’d grey magnificence;
The fair wrought shaft all ivy-bound,
The tow’ring arch with foliage crowned,
That trembles on its brow sublime,
Triumphant o’er the spoils of time.
There, grasping all the eye beheld,
Thought into mingling anguish swell’d,
And checked the wild excursive wing,
O’er dust or bones of priest or king;
Or rais’d some Strongbow warrior’s ghost,
To shout before his banner’d host.
But all was still. The chequered floor
Shall echo to the step no more;
No airy roof the strain prolong,
Of vesper chant or choral song—
Tinterne! thy name shall hence sustain
A thousand raptures in my brain;
Joys, full of soul, all strength, all eye,
That cannot fade, that cannot die.—Bloomfield.

Evening at Tinterne Abbey.

A pilgrim, at the vesper hour,
I stood by Tinterne’s hallowed tower;
While o’er the walls, in golden hue,
The setting sun its farewell threw;
Then, paling slowly, flushed and fled,
Like a smile from the cheek of the recent dead.
* * * *
’Tis night—on the ivy-mantled walls
The shadows deepen, and darkness falls;
And forth from his roost, in the fretted aisle,
The solemn owl wheels round the pile;
But no lighted shrine, no vesper-song,
Is seen, or heard, these aisles among;
For hymnless now the day returns,
And voiceless sets on their nameless urns;
Nor laud, nor chant, nor matin chime,
Retard the fleeting steps of time.
* * * *
The Shrine, from which the anthem rushed,
When evening glowed, or morning blushed,{117}
Like them, who reared the pile on high—
A landmark pointing to the sky;
Like them, by slow and sure decay,
That shrine is crumbling o’er their clay.—W.B., 1848.

The Abbey by Moonlight.

I tread the moonlit abbey! Oh, my soul,
How nobly art thou struggling to be free,
Spurning the temple’s, and the world’s control,
And feeling most inadequate to thee
The loftiest dome, the grandest scenery;
O’er views that would oppress thee or appal,
Rising, like light bark o’er the mounting sea;
And where, if weak or mortal thou wouldst fall,
Expanding to survey and compass more than all!
Palace of Piety! Devotion here
Should wear a crownèd angel’s robe of white,
And antedate the ardours of a sphere,
Where all is tranquil as this noon of night!
The moon—the regal moon—intensely bright,
Shines through the roseate window of the west;
Each shaft, an artificial stalactite
Of pendent stone, with slumber seems oppressed,
Or with a charmèd dream of peaceful rapture blessed.
And through thy lofty arch, a single star
Is gazing from a depth of spotless blue,
As if to learn how soft thy splendours are,
And feel them deeply, as I fain would do!
While now supine upon thy pave of dew
I let thy loveliness my soul pervade,
And pass with unimpeded influence through
Its quiet depths, like moonlight through thy shade,
To haunt with beauty still that shrine of hopes decayed.
Forgive me, abbey of the watered vale—
Forgive that, when I feel my spirit swell
With an unwonted energy, I fail
To hymn thy desolated glories well!
Not yet the chrysalis has burst its shell—
Not yet expanded its immortal wings;
The restless rudiments of vast powers tell
The soul a deathless thing; from earth she springs,
But fast and feebly falls, the while of thee she sings.
J. C. Earle, St. Edmund’s Hall, Oxford.

Tinterne Vesper-Hymn.

Like crimson on the dimpled Wye
Sleeps the glowing summer sky;
O’er the landscape, widely thrown,
Belted rock, and mountain cone;
Hamlet, tower, and haunted stream,
Are basking in the vesper-beam;
And holy friars, robed in white,
Cross them in the waning light—Ave Maria!
Now, along the abbey walls,
Soft the purple gloaming falls;
Aloft, on every turret’s height,
In the dim and doubtful light,
Here retiring, there advancing,
Weeds are waving, wings are glancing,
And yon effigies of stone
Seem to hail the vesper-tone—Ave Maria!
Deeper yet, and deeper still,
From winding stream, and wooded hill,
Shadowy cliff and rippling weir,
Nature’s music fills the ear;
Notes of mingling praise and prayer
Float along the solemn air,
Where, from cloistered arches dim,
Swells the everlasting hymn—Ave Maria!
Hark, ’tis midnight! but, unsleeping,
Here their faithful vigil keeping;
Pale white friars raise again,
In lengthened chant, the solemn strain!
Hark! throughout the sacred dwelling,
High the mingled notes are swelling;
Angels, stooping from the sky,
Bear the sacrifice on high—Ave Maria!W. B. 1849.
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Of the Abbots of Tinterne the historical notices are very scanty. The following occur in the “Parliamentary Writs,” by Sir Francis Palgrave:—[187]

A.D. 1294.—Abbas de Tynterne is summoned to a council of the clergy, to be held before the King in person, at Westminster, on the Feast of St. Matthias the Apostle, on the twenty-first day of September, and twenty-second of Edward I. Again—

1295.—The Abbas de Tynterne is summoned to Parliament at Westminster, on Sunday next after the feast of St. Martin, thirteenth day of October, and twenty-third year of the reign of Edward I., prorogued to Sunday next, before the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, the twenty-seventh of November. Thirdly—

1296.—Summoned to Parliament at Bury St. Edmund’s, on the morrow of All-Souls, November the third day, and twenty-fourth year of the reign of Edward I.

1300.—Abbas de Tynterne—Letter of Credence addressed to him concerning the expedition against the Scots—at Blith, the seventeenth day of January, and twenty-eighth year of the reign of Edward I. Again, the same year, the abbot was summoned to Parliament in London, on the second Sunday in Lent, being the sixth day of March.

1301.—Abbas de Tynterne is summoned to Parliament at Lincoln—in eight days of St. Hilary—the twentieth day of January, and twenty-eighth year of the reign aforesaid.

1305.—Summoned to Parliament at Westminster, on Tuesday, in fifteen days of the Purification, the sixteenth of February; afterwards prorogued to Sunday next, after the Feast of St. Matthias the Apostle, the twenty-eighth day of February—but to which he was not resummoned—and thirty-third year of the reign of Edward I.

1316.—Abbas de Tynterne, certified pursuant to writ, tested at Clipston, March the fifth, as one of the lords of the township of Acle,[188] in the county of Norfolk, in the ninth year of the reign of Edward II.{120}

1316.—Johannes de Tynterne, certified in like manner, as holding part of the burgh of Lyme-Regis, in the county of Dorset, in the ninth year of the reign of Edward II.

The following is the original document referred to in various passages of the foregoing articles on Chepstow and Tinterne:—

Genealogia Fundatoris (Ex MS. Codice in Bibl. Cottoniana [sub Effigie Vitellii, F. 4], fol. 7).

Gunnora Comitissa Normanniæ duas habuit sorores, una Turulpho de Ponte-Adamaro conjuncta erat in matrimonio, et procreavit Humfridum de Vetulis qui fuit pater Rogeri de Bellomonte, ex quo comites de Warwike et Leicestriæ processerunt.

Turketillus fuit frater istius Turulphi, cujus filius Hasculfus de Harecurt aliam sororem predictæ Comitissæ Gunnoræ con ... erat duos procreavit filios; scilicet Walterum de Giffard, primogenitum, qui alium Walterum procreavit, et dictus fuit Walterius Giffard secundus. Rohesia, una sororum Walteri (duas plures enim habuit) conjuncta in matrimonio Ricardo filio comitis Gisleberti, qui in re militari, tempore Conquestoris omnes sui temporis magnates præcessit. Prædicta Rohesia supervixit et renupta Eudoni, dapifero Regis Normanniæ qui construxit castrum Colecestriæ, cum cœnobio, in honore Sancti Johannis, ubi sepultus fuit, cum conjuge sua, tempore Henrici primi. Margareta filia eorum nupta fuit Willielmo de Mandevill, et fuit mater Gaufredi filii comitis Essexiæ et jure matris, Normanniæ dapifer. Prædictus Ricardus apud sanctum Neotum jacet sepultus. Huic rex Willielmus concessit baroniam De Clare, villam verò cum castello de Tunbridge, de Archiepiscopo Cantuariensi, pro aliis terris in Normannia, perquisivit in excambium. Baldwinus, frater istius Ricardi, Willielmum, Robertum, et Ricardum, cum tribus sororibus genuit. Ex prædicta Rohesia hanc sobolem procreavit Ricardus, Rogerus natu secundus terras patris sui in Normannia adeptus est; Walterus dominium Wenciæ inferioris, in Wallia, qui construxit Abbatiam de Tinterna, anno Domini MCXXXI; obiit sine prole.[189]

The Deed, by which the privileges originally granted by the founders were confirmed and completed by Roger Bigod, after the lapse of a hundred and seven years, is expressed in the following terms:—

Rogerus le Bygod Comes Norfolciæ, et Mareschallus Angliæ, Salutem in{121} Domino. Noverit universitas vestra me intuitu Dei et pro salute animæ nostræ, et animarum antecessorum nostrorum, et hæredum nostrorum, concessisse et confirmasse Deo et ecclesiæ beatæ Mariæ de Tinterna, Abbati et monachis et eorum successoribus ibidem Deo servientibus, in liberam puram et perpetuam elemosynam, omnes terras et possessiones, libertates, et liberas consuetudines subscriptas quas habent ex donis antecessorum nostrorum et aliorum fundatorum seu donatorum, sive ex dono nostro—videlicet: Totam hayam de Porcassek, et ex altera parte co opertorium nemoris c̃ omnibus pertinentiis suis in bosco et plano, et quicquid habet in Pentirk de tenementis terris redditibus boscis et planis c̃ aliis libertatibus suis et totam terram de Modisgat c̃ omnibus suis pertinentiis—videlicet: cum pastura ovium et aliorum animalium suorum ubique in chacia nostra de Tudenham, et de Subbosco in dictu chacia quicquid eis necessarium fuerit ad ardendum et ad hayas claudendas, etc. His testibus domino Joanne le Bÿgod fratre meo: Dom. Joanne le Bÿgod Stocton: Nicholao de Kingeston, militibus: Elya de Aylbreton, tunc Seneschallo meo de Strugull: Philippe de Mora: Rogero de Sancto Mauro: Willielmo de Dynam: Andreæ de Bellocampo, et aliis.

Datum apud Modesgat, quarto die Augusti, anno Domini M.CCCI.

Authorities quoted or referred to in the preceding article on Tinterne Abbey and its vicinity:—Dugdale’s Monasticon and Baronage—Thomas’s Tinterne—Camden—Giraldus Cambrensis—Robert of Gloucester—Matthew Paris—William of Worcester—Fosbroke’s British Monachism—Dallaway’s Arts—Reed—Barber—Mores Catholici—Life of St. Bernard—French Monastic Writers—Annales et Usus Cistercienses—Morton’s Monastic Annals—Nicolson’s History—West’s Furness—Wonders and Traditions of Wales—Bp. Godwin—Burnet—Pictorial Hist. of Engl.—Sir H. Ellis’s Original Letters—Wilkins’s Concilia—Macaulay’s History—Blunt’s Sketch of the Reformation—Latimer’s Sermons—Madden’s Penalties—Warton—Taylor’s Index Monast.—Heraldic Enquiries—Henniker—Cowel—Chronicles of England—Local historians and poets—Gilpin—Heath—Barber—Thomas, whose work on “Tinterne and its Environs” is the best hand-book that has yet appeared on this locality—Notes taken by the Editor during a Tour on the Wye—Hints and Suggestions from Correspondents, etc.

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On taking leave of Tinterne, we shall here introduce a short notice of—

Goodrich Castle, once a stronghold of the Marshalls, whose names have been so often recorded in connection with the abbey. It stands on a finely wooded promontory, round which the river Wye flows in a semicircular direction. By whom it was originally founded is unknown, though the near affinity of its name to that of ‘Godricus Dux,’ who occurs as a witness to two charters granted by King Canute to the abbey of Hulm, has given birth to a not improbable conjecture that he was the founder. The Keep is evidently of a date antecedent to the Conquest; but the surrounding works are principally Norman, though various additions and alterations may be distinguished as the workmanship of different periods, even down to the time of Henry VI.

In its general outline, this castle forms a parallelogram, with a round tower at each angle, and a square ‘keep’ standing in the south-west part of the enclosed area. The common thickness of the exterior walls is somewhat more than seven feet; the length of the longest sides—that is, those towards the south-east and north-west, including the projections of the towers—is about 176 feet; and that of the south-west and north-east sides about 152 feet.

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The keep stands somewhat in the same manner as those of Porchester, Pevensey, and Castleton, close to the outward wall of the castle; and, like them, it has no window on the outside next the country. It had evidently three rooms or floors, one above the other; all of them, however, were very small,{123} being only fourteen feet and a half square; and the room on the first floor had no sort of internal communication with the dungeon beneath—which had not even a single loophole for light and air, but was connected by a very narrow passage to a still smaller dungeon, strongly secured under the platform belonging to the steps of the entrance, and having a very small air-hole on the same side. “The original windows are Saxon; that in the middle of the upper story seems to have remained just as it was from the very first, without any alteration; and the manner in which the two large side columns stand, somewhat within the arch, is consistent with the fashion adopted by the Saxons, and continued even to the time of Edward the Confessor. The large zigzag ornament on each side, between the columns, is in the rude form in which it was generally used by the early Saxons; and so also is that of the zigzag moulding, or band, that is carried by way of ornament quite across the tower, just under the window; and it is very remarkable, that the middle projecting buttress is carried no higher than this ornament.”[190]—See the preceding wood-cut.

The window in the apartment beneath is similar in its general construction; but the columns which support the arch are somewhat higher, and a semicircular moulding of zigzag is carried beneath the arch; the middle part of the window, however, has been altered—a stone frame for glass having been inserted, of the style and age of Henry the Sixth, and probably in the time of the celebrated Earl Talbot, whom tradition represents as having his own chamber in this tower. In the second apartment is a fire-hearth, and, in an angle of the wall, a circular staircase leads to the upper story. “To this staircase is a most remarkable doorway; it has one large transom stone, as if to aid the arch to support the wall above, and in this respect it resembles several other Saxon structures, in which this singular fashion seems to have been uniformly adopted, until it became gradually altered by the introduction of a flattish under-arch, substituted in the room of the transom stone.”[191]

The principal entrance was by a flight of steps on one side, distinct from the main building, and ascending to a platform before the doorway leading to the second chamber. The entrance to the dungeon, or lower apartment, was under “a very remarkable sort of pointed arch, formed of flat sides, which seems, from the appearance of the wall around it, and from its peculiar style, to have been inserted many ages after the tower was built, and in the time of Edward III.; a suspicion that appears to be most strongly confirmed, by the circumstance, that about the twenty-second year of Edward the Third, Richard Talbot, its then lord, obtained the royal license[192] for having in his castle a prison for male-{124}factors, having also the cognizance of pleas of the crown, &c., within his lordship of Irchinfield. The bottom of the keep-tower would undoubtedly, as usual, be the place where such a prison would be established; and on that occasion it should seem that this new and strong door-frame was first constructed, whilst the very annexation of the lordship of Irchinfield, or Urchenfield, to the possession of this keep-tower, both of which his lordship appears to have been possessed of before this license was granted, shows the exceedingly high antiquity of this castle, since Urchenfield was, indeed, the very place where St. Dubricius founded his college of Religious, about A.D. 512, to live, like the original Eastern recluses, by the work of their own hands.”[193] The body of the keep is an exact square of twenty-nine feet.

In describing the additions made to this fortress in the Norman times, and during the successive reigns to the time of Henry the Sixth, we shall follow Mr. King, and begin with the strongly-fortified entrance, which, commencing between two semicircular towers of equal dimensions, near the east angle, was continued under a dark vaulted passage, to an extent of fifty feet. “Immediately before the entrance, and within the space enclosed by the fosse, was a very deep pit, hewn out of the solid rock, formerly crossed by a drawbridge, which is now gone, but which evidently appears to have exactly fitted, and to have closed, when drawn up, the whole front of the gateway between the towers. About eleven feet within the passage was a massive gate, the strong iron hinges of which still remain: this gate and the drawbridge were defended on each side by loopholes, and overhead by rows of machicolations in the vaulting. Six feet and a half beyond this was a portcullis, and about seven feet further a second portcullis; the space between these was again protected by loopholes and machicolations. About two feet more inward was another strong gate, and five feet and a half beyond this, on the right, a small door leading to a long narrow gallery, only three feet wide, formed in the thickness of the wall, and which was the means of access to the loopholes in the eastern tower, as well as to some others that commanded the brow of the steep precipice towards the north-east.” These works appear to have been thought sufficient for general defence; but a resource was ingeniously contrived for greater security, in case they had all been forced: “for a little further on are many stone projections in the wall on each side, like pilasters, manifestly designed for inserting great beams of timber within them, like bars, from one side of the passage, which was about nine feet ten inches wide, to the other, so as to form a strong barricade, with earth or stones between the rows of timber, which would in a short time, and with rapidity,{125} form a strong massy wall.” Beyond these the passage opened into the great inner court of the Castle.

Chapel.—The ruins of the chapel run parallel with the entrance on the left; the style of the broken ornaments, and particularly of those about its great window, show this to have been repaired and adorned even so late as the reign of Henry the Seventh. In one part is a very remarkable niche, and near it a smaller one, for holy water. On the opposite side is also another niche for the same purpose. Beneath the chapel was a deep vault, and over it a chamber, with a fireplace, which still appears projecting from the wall. Adjoining the chapel, and near the entrance, is a small octagonal watch-tower, which rises above the other buildings, and commands a fine view over the surrounding country.

The buildings between the chapel and the south or garrison tower, to the upper part of which a passage, or covered-way, led along the top of the outer wall, are mostly in ruins. Here appear to have been the stables. The garrison tower adjoins the entrance to the keep; its foundation is a square of about thirty-six feet; but the three outward angles diminish as they ascend, and form triangular buttresses, so that the upper part of the tower is circular. The walls are at least eight feet in thickness. The entrances to this tower were so continued, that there was access to it from every part of the walls. It contained three floors, and in each of them a fire-hearth. The interior forms an irregular octagon, about twenty feet in diameter from the angles, and about seventeen from side to side.

Great Tower.—The wall that extended between the keep and the west tower is in ruins. This tower, which is also greatly dilapidated, appears of more modern construction than the former, and is probably of the time of the Edwards. Its outward form is circular; but the interior is somewhat of an octangular figure, but very irregular, its general dimensions being thirty-three feet long, and twenty-five feet broad. In this appears to have been the great kitchen; the fireplace is still distinguishable, with a recess and loophole on each side. Here was a small doorway, or sally-port, communicating with a sort of outer ballium, which runs on the north-west side, and was enclosed by an outer wall. On this side also, and ranging between the west tower and the north or Ladies’ tower, were the state apartments.

The Hall was a magnificent room of the time of Edward the First, as clearly appears from the style and architecture of its remains, and particularly from its long, slender, and narrow windows. This apartment was sixty-five feet long, and twenty-eight feet broad. Some years ago it contained a single beam of oak, “without knot or knarle,” sixty-six feet long, and nearly two feet square throughout its whole length. On the north-west side is the great{126} fireplace; and behind it, projecting into the outer ballium, a vast mass of solid stonework, or buttress, which, in its upper part, appears to have had some little apartment, or guard-chamber. The hall communicated towards the north with a kind of withdrawing or retiring room, about twenty-nine feet by seventeen and a half, in which appears to have been a window looking into the hall. From this second apartment, a passage led into what seems to have been the great

State-room, which was fifty-five feet and a half long by twenty broad. At the upper end, or towards the north, are two beautiful pointed arches, springing from a well-wrought octagon pillar in the middle of the apartment, and resting on corbels at the sides. Here seem to have been two large windows; but the walls are so much broken, or closely mantled with ivy, that this cannot with certainty be affirmed. The architecture of this part of the building is of the time of Henry the Fifth or Sixth. At the north angle of this room is an opening leading into the north or Ladies’ tower, which is so situated on the brow of a high and steep precipice, as to be the most defensible part of the castle. From the apartment within, which is a neat octagon, about fifteen feet in diameter, is a most beautiful view over the adjacent country. From the common appellation of this tower, there can be little doubt of its having been appropriated as a “Ladies’ bower.” Beyond the state-room, in the north-east wall, is a square recess and loophole, supposed to have been formed for the lodging and seat of the warden.

Such was the original construction of Goodrich Castle; but almost every part has yielded to the iron tooth of age, and to the more speedy demolition of war. The ruins, however, are extremely grand; the massive towers are finely mantled with ivy; and even the great moat is embellished with the luxuriant foliage of tall forest-trees. From the adjoining woods the crumbling turrets have a very striking and interesting effect; and seen from the water, the view has been truly characterized as “one of the grandest upon the Wye.”

Whoever was the original founder of this Castle, “whether Godricus Dux, who witnessed King Canute’s charters, or any chieftain prior to him,” it is certain that the earliest authenticated record yet discovered, is of A.D. 1204, when it was given by “King John to William Strigul, Earl Marshall, to hold by the service of two knights’ fees.” His son Walter, Earl of Pembroke—as noticed in a former page of this volume—died here in December, 1245. It was afterwards conveyed by a female to William de Valentia, Earl of Pembroke, whose third son, Aymer de Valence, became his heir, and was murdered in France in 1323. From him it passed to the Talbots, by the marriage of Elizabeth Comyn, daughter of Joan, his second sister, with Sir Richard, afterwards Lord Talbot, who procured the license from Edward the Third to have a{127} prison here. This Richard was a renowned soldier and statesman; and is thought to have expended a considerable part of the ransoms, obtained from his prisoners taken in the French wars, on the reparation and improvement of Goodrich Castle. His descendant, John Talbot, the great Earl of Shrewsbury, who was killed at the battle of Castillon, in the year 1453, was first buried at Rouen; and in enumeration of his titles on the monument raised to his memory, he is styled “Lord of Goderich and Orchenfield.” His successors were equally distinguished for bravery, and were frequently employed in offices of great trust. George,[194] the sixth earl, had the custody of Mary, Queen of Scots, committed to his charge. That these places were really alienated is improbable, as Gilbert, seventh Earl of Shrewsbury, was in possession of this castle and manor at the period of his death in the 14th of James the First. Elizabeth, his second daughter and co-heiress, conveyed them in marriage to Henry de Grey, Earl of Kent, in whose family they continued till the year 1740, when, on the death of Henry, Duke of Kent, they were sold to Admiral Griffin.

In the civil wars between Charles I. and his Parliament, Goodrich Castle was alternately possessed by both parties. It was first seized by the Parliamentary army; but afterwards fell into the hands of the Royalists, who sustained a siege of nearly six weeks against Colonel Birch. The colonel began the siege on the 22nd of June, 1646. On the third of August, as appears from Whitelocke, “Colonel Birch entered some of the works of Gotherich Castle, whereupon the garrison hung out a white flag for parley, which Birch refused, and went on storming, until they all submitted to mercy. In the castle, besides the governor, were 50 gentlemen and 120 soldiers, with arms, ammunition, and provisions.” On the twenty-fifth the Parliament gave orders that the Countess of Kent should be informed that there was a necessity for demolishing the castle; and that “on the demolishing thereof, satisfaction should be made to her. On the first of March following, they finally resolved that the castle should be totally disgarrisoned, and slighted. The breaches of the Ladies’ tower, which is the most effectually ruined, were said to have been chiefly occasioned by the battering of the cannon during the siege.”[195]{128}



Stranger! ponder here awhile;
Pause in Raglan’s ruined pile;
All that wealth and power, combined,
With skill to plan, and taste refined,
To rear a structure fit to be
The home of England’s Chivalry,
Was lavished here!—where, met in hall,
Mailed Barons kept their festival;
The night in lordly wassail spent—
The day in tilt and tournament:
Yet still, when England’s woes began,
Were first to arm and lead the van;
To shield the Monarch in his need,
In Freedom’s glorious cause to bleed;
To Loyalty surrendering all—
Then, with their falling King to fall!”

The Castle of Raglan is one of the most picturesque ruins in the kingdom, and closely associated with a momentous period of our national annals. Though roofless, tenantless, and dismantled, it still presents a majestic and venerable aspect. No visitor of taste or sensibility will ever traverse its spacious but long-deserted halls, without feeling a deep interest in its eventful history.

It was on a bright autumnal evening that we quitted the comfortable little inn, the “Beaufort Arms,” at Raglan, to make our first survey of this baronial stronghold; and at that hour, and season of the year, it was seen through its embowering trees in all its glory. Ascending the gentle eminence on which it stands, we came to the outer gate, or barbican, portions of which still remain, and crossing the ballium, now covered with rich verdant pasture, we were received by the intelligent Warden, who conducted us to the majestic gateway, and pointed out to us, as we proceeded, the more imposing features of the Castle, as they alternately met and receded from the eye.

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The Avenue.

Raglan Castle.


The vista through the Gateway, taking in the Great Court—once adorned with statues and fountains, but now, like everything around it, abandoned to the weather, is very striking; while the absolute silence which pervades the scene, contrasts forcibly with its ancient stir and splendour, and compels us, while fancy is peopling it with troops of chivalry and their retainers, to exclaim, “Where are they?” A long wooden table with benches, the last symbols of that hospitality for which its noble owners were once conspicuous, stood on the grassy floor. But these were no relics of the ancient banquet-hall, but of a modern festive meeting, when the tenants upon the estates had met to express their attachment to the noble Marquess and his family. The manner in which the kitchen had been refitted for their entertainment, showed that it must have been ‘got up’ in a style not unworthy of its feudal renown; and, “as for the venison,”—

“Finer or fatter
Ne’er ranged in a forest, or smoked on a platter.”

We arrived, however, too late for the feast, though another, a much simpler, and palatable treat awaited us—that which Nature, luxuriating amidst the ruins of Art, had lavishly spread before us. Such piles of masonry, such masses of ivy, were never before brought together! Here and there, indeed, the sturdy ramparts looked through their leafy screen with a sort of ghastly whiteness, like Hobbes’ spectre from behind the yew-tree, or the bones of some enormous skeleton, upon which the kindly hand of Nature had suspended her own green mantle. Nothing could be more strikingly novel and picturesque. Along the vast framework of the castle, on which the wealth and taste of centuries had been employed, until its strength and beauty could receive no farther additions from the hand of man, a straggling forest of vegetation expanded its mingling branches. Under the same leafy covert, from the timid wren to the ill-omened raven, birds of every feather had found a congenial roost. From the sepulchral yew the moping owl looked out upon everything around her as her own domain and cherished inheritance. Over our heads bats performed their swift circles in the still twilight sky; while daws chattered from the ancient keep, as if they had never heard a musket-shot, nor felt the slightest apprehension of being disturbed in their possession. On a lofty spray that overtopped every other tree, a loving thrush serenaded his mate in the fragrant thicket below. Numerous smaller birds, that seemed puzzled from the very abundance of the accommodation where to fix their roost, kept up a constant fluttering amongst the branches; while here and there was heard a bickering of wings and twittering of bills, as if contending for possession of some favourite branch for the night. Surely, we thought, there is room enough here for all; and yet even there—among those spacious green arbours, place and position were as{130} eagerly sought and coveted by the feathered tribes, as by the equally volatile and jealous retainers of a court.

At length all was seemingly adjusted; the stillness of night pervaded the scene; the last shadows of twilight had faded into one common pall; and night, attended by a host of sparkling satellites, took quiet possession of the long line of courts that once swarmed with life and enjoyment.

And now, between the western sky—that still retained some warm lingering traces of sunset—and the donjon tower, mousing owls were seen enjoying their solemn pastime, here swimming lazily through the arched court, then along the battlements, or the margin of the clear glassy moat; then soaring aloft, and settling for a minute or two among the dark ivy; but still returning to make another circle and finding no wings abroad but their own.

The contemplation of this Castle, at any period of the day, is calculated to make a lasting impression; but when the rising moon shot her mellow light through its old shattered casements, and the breeze seemed to waken at the same instant and set all the ivy in motion, the scene became still more impressive. Among the deep shadows that invested the spacious courts, every prominent object was now brought suddenly into view; and, with a little aid from fancy, the waving of plumes, and the flashing of steel armour, seemed distinctly visible on the battlements; while the fragments of crumbling masonry that lay scattered below, as if struck by an enchanter’s wand, presented the semblance of animated groups, that waited only the word of command to start into life and motion. The stillness, too, which but half an hour before had pervaded every court and tower, was succeeded by a soft rustling among the leaves, that now flickered like quicksilver as the moonlight fell upon them, and then lost itself in their massive branches; whilst the shrubs and flowers that grew wild and vigorous in every court, or clambered up the walls and archways, seemed to give forth their mingled odours to the night wind, as it passed wooingly through their leaves, and filled the air with incense.

“We seemed to tread on faëry land;
For, in every thing around us,
We felt the touch of a viewless hand,
And we heard the notes of a seraph band,
Whose magic spell had bound us;
While bright yclad, as in days of yore,
The Knight of Raglan strode before.”

The Pitched-court; the hall of state, with its magnificent bay-window; the chapel; the fountain-court, with the grand staircase on the south side opening upon it; then the elegant portal leading to the grand terrace that overlooks Raglan church, were all traversed in succession, with nothing to distract attention, or disturb the solitude, but the whistle of a night-hawk, or the sound{131} of our own footsteps on the grassy carpet, that now forms the universal ‘pavement’ of these once sumptuous apartments. For over the once tesselated floor, and the tapestried walls, weeds have thrown an oblivious mantle, while—

“Ha, ha!” laughs the Ivy, “old Time to me
Hath given the glory and mastery!
So poets may sing, if it like them well,
From early matins till vesper bell;
And others may list to their minstrelsie—
I’ve a song of my own—so what care I?
Your castles, though stately, and strong, and tall,
I conquer them all—I conquer them all!”

But as the faint outline here sketched will be filled up when we take the architectural features of the Castle in detail, we pass on to a few preliminary remarks.

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Ancient armour. [196]

Grose, in his ‘Antiquities,’ observes that this castle is of no great antiquity, having been founded, as he conjectures, about the close of the fifteenth century, although many important additions were subsequently added. In the time of Henry VIII., as Leland informs us, Raglan, “yn Middle Venceland [Wentland], was a fair and pleasant castel, with to goodlye parkes adjacent;” and “the laste Lord Herbertes,” as Morgan told him, “builded all the best coffes of the Castle of Raglan.” Camden, in his account of the Silures, or Monmouthshire, notices it very briefly, as “a fair house of the Earl of Worcester’s, built castel-like.”[197]{132}

It is not stated by Grose on what authority he places Raglan Castle among the strongholds erected in the time of Henry VII. His observations can apply only to those portions of it which are comparatively modern. The Citadel, or Yellow Tower of Gwent, is of unquestionable antiquity. In the family history we are told that Sir John Morley, a military knight, who lived in the time of Richard II., resided here as ‘lord of Raglan Castle.’ But postponing this question at present, as one that will be considered more fully when we come to examine the Castle in detail, we shall merely observe that although, as it now appears, the Castle does not indicate any more distant origin than the reign of Henry V., yet traces may be discovered in various portions of towers built, or reconstructed, during every subsequent reign, down to that of Charles I.—with whose fate it is so painfully associated. Owing to the circumstance named, the learned antiquary may discover ‘a disunion of styles;’ but taken as a whole, the Castle of Raglan presents a remarkable harmony of proportions that hides every minute discrepancy, heightens the general effect, and leaves the spectator under a pleasing conviction that, in design and execution, it is the work, not of many, but of one master mind. But to this subject we shall return; and, in the meantime, we proceed to give a brief sketch of

The Founders of Raglan.—By Mr. Jones the name of the founder is traced to that of Sir William ap Thomas.[198] This date, however, is too modern, and only a repetition of the conjecture thrown out by Grose. There is every reason to believe that the Clares, as early as the thirteenth century, had a castle at Raglan, the site, of which is now occupied by the Citadel, or Tower of Gwent, erected probably in the reign of Henry V. The above-named Sir William ap Thomas resided at Raglan Castle during the reign of Henry V., who knighted him for his valour in the wars of France. He married Gladys, daughter of Sir Richard Gam, and widow of Sir Roger Vaughan,[199] by whom he had three sons and a daughter. Of his eldest son, William, first Earl of Pembroke, we shall speak hereafter. But of the old military Lords of Raglan, little of historical interest has descended to modern times. From Richard Strongbow, of whom a notice has been given in the preceding sketches of Chepstow and Tinterne, Raglan descended to Walter Bloet, “in consideration of soldiers, money, and arms,” furnished by him for the expedition to Ireland, of which Strongbow was the leader. By the marriage of the daughter and heiress of Bloet with Sir James Berkeley, it passed into and remained in that ancient family until the reign of Henry V., when it became vested in Sir William ap{133} Thomas, already mentioned; whose eldest son was created by Edward IV. Lord of Raglan, Chepstow, and Gower, and commanded to assume the surname of Herbert, in honour of his ancestor Hubert Fitz-Henry, chamberlain to King Henry I. To this nobleman was entrusted the care of the Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., who was for some time a prisoner in Raglan Castle. Sir Hubert was created, in 1469, Earl of Pembroke, in acknowledgment of his zeal to the house of York; but his career was brief and disastrous, for having the same year raised a corps of Welshmen, he marched against the Lancastrians under the Earl of Warwick, and being taken prisoner at Dane’s Moor, was beheaded at Banbury on the 27th of July.[200] Of these calamitous events, the following account, abridged from the old Chronicle, may not be unacceptable to the reader:—

King Edward hearing of these Northerne proceedings, and that his brother and Warwicke were preparing against him, sent for the Lord Herbert, whom he had created Earl of Pembroke, to be his general in the North; and therefore accompanied with Sir Richard Herbert his brother, and eighteen thousand well-furnished Welshmen, marched towards the enemy; and after him was sent Humfrey Lord Stafford, with sixe thousand archers, to second him in his warres. These lords meeting together had notice by espials that the Northerne made towards Northampton; to intercept whom, the Lord Stafford, lately made Earl of Devonshire, was employed; and Sir Richard Herbert, who with two thousand horse layd themselves covertly by the side of a wood, and suddenly set upon the rereward, the rest having passed; but the Northerne very nimbly turned about and bad the Welshmen such welcome, as few of them returned to tell of their entertainment. The king understanding of this hard beginning, mustered his subjects on every side, intending to cope with the Northerne himself. And Earle Warwicke, as forward to advance his fortunes, gathered his friends, with purpose to encounter with Pembroke and his Welsh. But before any supplies came to either of them, it chanced the armies to meete unawares upon a fair plaine called Dane’s Moor, neere to the towne of Hedgecot, three miles from Banbury, and presently fell to a bickering, wherein Sir Henry Nevill, knight, son of the Lord Latimer, upon a lusty courage venturing somewhat too farre, was taken prisoner; and notwithstanding he yielded himselfe to his takers, was cruelly slaine; which unmartiall act rested not long unrepaied, with the loss of most of the Welsh next day. For the field withdrawne, the Lord Stafford repaired to Banbury, and there took his lodging, where his affections were much enamoured vpon a faire damsell in the inne. But the Earl of Pembroke coming{134} to the same towne, tooke into the same inne, and commanded the Lord Stafford to provide himself elsewhere, contrary to their agreements made before. Whereat Stafford was displeased, and departing thence with his whole band, left the Earl naked of men in the towne, and disabled the field of the archers, whereby the day was lost upon the king’s part, for which he shortly lost his owne head. The Northerne, inflamed for the death of young Nevill, the next morning most valiantly set upon the Welshmen, and by the force of archers drave them from their ground of advantage, which Pembroke wanting supplied with his own prowess; and Sir Richard, his brother, with his poll-axe twice made way through the battell of the Northerne without any mortal or deadly wound; so that by their valours it was verily supposed the field had been wonne, had not John Clapham, an esquire and servant to Warwicke, displayed his lorde’s colours with his white beare, and from an eminent place cried, ‘A Warwicke! A Warwicke!’ Whereat the Welsh were so terrified as they turned and fled, leaving their general and his brother alone in the field, who, valiantly fighting, were encompassed and taken, with the death of five thousand of their men. The Earl with his brother, Sir Richard Herbert, were brought to Banbury, where, with ten other gentlemen, they lost their heads, Conyers and Clapham being their judges.

“This second victory thus got, and the Northerne men now fleshed under the leadinge of Robbin of Riddesdale,[201] hasted to the king’s manor of Grafton, where the Earle Rivers, father to the queen, then lay, whom, with his sonne John, they suddenly surprised, and in Northampton strucke off their heads without any judgment. The death of these lords the king greatly lamented, and sought to revenge: first, therefore, writing his commissions for the apprehension of Humfrey, Lord Stafford of Southwicke, who, by diligent search, was found at Brentmarsh, and beheaded at Bridgewater, as he worthily deserved. Next hee prepared a mighty army, and with the same marched towards Warwicke, his company encreasing ever as he went.”[202] In another Chronicle the same disastrous events are thus related:—

The Welshmen got first the West hill, hoping to have recovered the East hill; which if they had obteyned the victorye had been theirs, as their unwise prophesyers promised them before. The Northern men encamped themselves on the South hill. The Erle of Pembroke and the Lord Stafforde of Southwike were lodged at Banbery yᵉ day before yᵉ field, which was St. James’s Day; and there the Erie of Pembroke put the Lord Stafforde out of an inne{135} wherein he delighted much to be, for the love of a damosel that dwelled in the house, contrarie to their mutuall agreement by them taken; which was, that whosoever obtained first a lodging, should not be deceyved nor removed. After many great wordes and crakes had betweyne these two captaynes, the Lord Stafforde in great despite departed with his whole companye and band of archers, leaving the Erle of Pembroke almost desolate in the towne, which with all diligence returned to his hoste lying in the field unpurvoyed of archers, abiding such fortune as God would sende and provyde.” In the mean time, “Sir Henry Nevil, son to the Lord Latimer, tooke with him certaine light horsemen, and skirmished with the Welshmen in the evening, even before their campe, where he did divers valyaunt feates of armes; but, a little too hardy, he went so farre forward that he was taken and yeelded, and cruell slaine; which unmerciful acte the Welshmen sore rued the next day or night. For the Northern men being inflamed, and not a little discontented with the death of thys nobleman, in the mornyng valyauntly set on the Welshmen, and by force of archers caused them quickly to descende the hill into the valey, where both the hostes fought.”

In this hot encounter, “the Erle of Pembroke behaved himselfe like a hardy knight, and an expert capitaine; but hys brother, Syr Richard Herbert, so valyauntly acquited himselfe, that with his poll-axe in his hand, as his enemies did afterwards report, he twice by fair force passed thorough the battaile of his adversaries, and without any mortal wound returned. If everye one of his felowes and companions in arms had done but halfe the actes which he that daye by his noble prowess achieved, the Northerne men had obteyned neither safetie nor victorie.”

The chronicler then relates the circumstance which threw the Welshmen into a panic, by which they lost five thousand men, and then records the result with touching simplicity:—

“The Erle of Pembroke, Sir Richard Herbert,[203] his brother, and divers were taken, and brought to Banbery to be behedded. Much lamentacion and no lesse entreatie was made to save the lyfe of Syr Richard, both for hys goodlye personage, which excelled all men there, and also for the noble chivalrie that he had shewed in the fielde the day of the battaile; insomuch that his brother, the Erle, when he should lay downe his head on the blocke to suffer, says to Sir John Conyers and Clapham—‘Maisters, let me die! for I am{136} old; but save my brother, which is yung, lustie, and hardie, mete and fit to serve the greatest prince of Christendome.

“But Coniers and Clapham remembering the death of the yung knight, Syr Henry Nevill, cosyn to the Erle of Warwicke, could not hear on that syde; but caused the Erle and his brother, with divers other gentlemen to the number often, to be there behedded.”[204]

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William, eldest son of this unfortunate nobleman, succeeded to the earldom of Pembroke, and was retained by the king to serve him in his wars of France and Normandy for one whole year, with forty men-at-arms and two hundred archers. But the king, being desirous to dignify his son Prince Edward with the title of Earl of Pembroke, procured a resignation of the same from this William, and in lieu thereof created him Earl of Huntingdon, on the fourth of July, 1479. Four years later he was constituted, by Richard III., Justice of South Wales, and entered into covenants with the king to take Dame Catharine Plantagenet, his daughter, to wife, before the feast of St. Michael following; as also to make her a jointure in lands to the value of two hundred pounds per annum: the king undertaking to settle upon them and their heirs male, lands and lordships of a thousand marks per annum. But this lady dying in her tender years, it is likely that this marriage did not take effect. He afterwards wedded Mary, the fifth sister of Woodville, Earl Rivers, by whom he had an only daughter, at whose marriage with Sir Charles Somerset, the Castle of Raglan, and its dependencies, passed into the family of Worcester.

From the genealogical history of that house we collect the following particulars:—The Sir Charles here named was a natural son of Henry, third Duke of Beaumont, famous in his day for his desperate assault of the Castle of St. Anjou, in which he put three hundred Scots to the sword, and hanged all the Frenchmen therein. He was afterwards Governor of the Isle of Wight, and of Calais; was finally taken prisoner at the battle of Hexham, and there beheaded by Nevil for his adherence to the house of Lancaster. At his death his son Charles assumed the name of Somerset, and being a person of abilities attained{137} to great wealth and honours under Henry VII.,[205] who entered him of his Privy Council, made him Constable of Helmsley Castle, Admiral of the Fleet, sent him as ambassador with the Order of the Garter to the Emperor Maximilian, made him a Banneret, Knight of the Garter, and Captain of the Royal Guard. On a second embassy to Maximilian, he concluded two treaties—gave a bond for the payment of £10,000 in aid of the Emperor against the Turks, and in support of the Christian religion. Living in high favour with his sovereign, his good fortune was established by his marriage with Elizabeth, heiress of William Herbert, Earl of Huntingdon, in whose right, in 1506, he bore the title of Lord Herbert of Raglan.

On the accession of Henry VIII. he continued in the same high offices; and having, with six thousand men, attended the king into France, in 1513, he was present at the taking of Therrouenne and Tournay. For his heroic conduct in this campaign, he received the office of Lord Chamberlain for life; and finally, on account of his descent from John of Gaunt, and alliance to the king by blood, he was advanced the following year[206] to the dignity of Earl of Worcester.

By his will, dated March 24, 1524, he ordered his body to be buried beside that of his first wife in the chapel of Our Lady, now called Beaufort Chapel, in the Castle of Windsor. He directed that, in case he departed this life at Raibo, in London, or near the river Thames, his body should be conveyed by water to the said church at Windsor, as privately as might be, without pomp or great charge of torches, or clothing, hearse, wax, or great dinner; but only that twenty men of his own servants should each have mourning and bear a torch; and that the bier, or herse, should be covered with black cloth, and have a white cross upon it.

Henry, the second Earl of Worcester, who, during his father’s lifetime, had distinguished himself in the king’s service, and been knighted by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, was appointed one of the commissioners for concluding a peace with the French. Departing this life in 1549, he was buried in the church of Chepstow, where a costly monument—already noticed—was erected to his memory.[207]

William, his eldest son, and third Earl of Worcester, accompanied the Marquis of Northampton into France, to present King Henry II. with the royal insignia of the Garter. And again, in 1573, he was sent by Queen Elizabeth as her representative at the christening of a daughter of Charles IX., on which occasion, in the name of his royal mistress, he presented a font in pure gold. He married Christian, daughter of Lord North of Earthlodge.{138}

Edward, his only son and heir, was sent ambassador to the Court of Scotland, to offer the Queen’s congratulations to King James on his return from Denmark; and ten years later he was appointed Master of the Horse. At the accession of King James, he continued in the same office, and was also named one of the commissioners for executing the office of Earl-Marshall, the Duke of Norfolk being then under sentence in the Tower.[208] He was afterwards Lord Privy Seal; and dying on the third of March, 1628, ætatis 79, was buried in the family vault in Windsor Castle.[209]

In his youth, as recorded by his colleague Sir Robert Naunton, “this earl was a very fine gentleman, and the best horseman and tilter of his times, which were then the manlike and noble recreations of the Court, which took up the applause of men, as well as the praise and commendation of ladies. And when years had abated these exercises of honour, he grew then to be a faithful and profound counsellor. He was the last liver of all the servants of her favour, and had the honour to see his renowned Mistress, and all of them, laid in the places of their rest; and for himself, after a life of very noble and remarkable reputation, he died rich, and in a peaceful old age—a fate that befel not many of the rest; for they expired like lights blown out—not commendably extinguished—but with the snuff very offensive to the standers by.”[210] Sandford describes him as “a great favourer of learning and good literature.”

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Procession.—Morning of the Tournament.

Henry, his son, the fourth earl, married Anne, daughter of John Lord Russell, heir apparent to the Earl of Bedford; and, in 1642, was created{139} Marquess of Worcester. And this brings us down to the period, when the family fortunes—like the fortress they inhabited—were destined to undergo a lamentable change.

As the civil commotions increased, the Marquess fortified his castle of Raglan, and there entertained his Sovereign with unbounded magnificence. Such were his unlimited sacrifices to the royal cause, that the king, fearing lest the garrison stores should become exhausted by his numerous suite, offered to invest him with powers to exact supplies from the neighbouring country. But with great magnanimity Worcester replied—“I humbly thank your Majesty; but my castle would not long stand, if it leant upon the country. I had rather myself be brought to a morsel of bread, than see one morsel wrung from the poor to entertain your Majesty.” But of this more fully when we describe the royal visit and the Siege.

From these brief introductory notices of the lives and services of the primitive lords of Raglan, we proceed to give a few sketches of life, as it generally passed in the retirement of their own domains, in the midst of their friends and retainers at Raglan Castle.

Baronial Life.—Of the expenses of a nobleman’s family and household in the olden time, some idea may be formed by adverting to the facts adduced by writers of the day. In a letter from the Earl of Shrewsbury, who had the custody of Mary of Scotland, to the Marquis of Winchester, and Sir Walter Mildmay, it is said—“May it please you to understand, that whereas I have had a certain ordinary allowance of wine, amongst other noblemen, for expenses in my household, without impost: the charges daily that I do now sustain, and have done all this year past, well known by reason of the Queen of Scots, are so great therein, as I am compelled to be now a suitor unto you, that you will please to have a friendly consideration, unto the necessity of my large expenses. Truly two tuns in a month have not hitherto sufficed ordinarily; besides that which is sacrificed at times for her bathings, and such like use; which seeing I cannot by any means conveniently diminish, my earnest trust and desire is, that you will now consider me with such larger proportion in this case, as shall seem good unto your friendly wisdoms, even as I shall think myself much beholden for the same. And so I commit you unto God. From Tetbury Castle, this 15 of January, 1569. Your assured friend to my power.—G. Shrewsbury.[211]

“This passage,” Mr. Lodge observes, “will serve to correct a vulgar error, relating to the consumption of wine in those days, which, instead of being less, appears to have been—at least in the houses of the great—even more {140}considerable than that of the present time. The good people who tell us that Queen Elizabeth’s maids of honour breakfasted on roast beef, generally add, that wine was then used in England as a medicine, for it was sold only by apothecaries. The latter assertion, though founded on a fact, seems to have led to a mistake in the former; for the word apothecary [from the Greek αποθήχη, a repositorium] is applicable to any shopkeeper, or warehouseman, and was probably once used in that general sense.”[212] In the retinues and domestic attendance[213] of the nobles of this period, everything proclaimed that the era of feudal authority and magnificence had departed. Accordingly, when the civil wars had commenced, no peer, however wealthy or high in rank, could drag after him a regiment, or even a company, of unwilling vassals to the field. On the contrary, the meanest hind was free to choose between king and parliament. Something, however, of the mere pomp of feudalism was still maintained in the domestic establishments of the nobility and wealthier gentry. “The father of John Evelyn, when he was sheriff of the counties of Surrey and Sussex,[214] had a hundred and sixteen servants, in liveries of green satin doublets, besides several gentlemen and persons of quality, who waited upon him, dressed in the same garb.”

One of the largest, if not the very largest, of English establishments ever maintained by a subject, was that of the Lord Treasurer, the Earl of Dorset,[215] heir of the Lord Buckhurst, and well-known poet of the court. It consisted of two hundred and twenty servants, besides workmen attached to the house, and others that were hired occasionally.

The chief servants of the nobility—so they were called, but they were rather followers or clients—were still the younger sons of respectable, or even noble families, who attached themselves to the fortunes of a powerful patron,{141} and served him either in court or military affairs, for which they were allowed separate retinues in men and horses, with gratuities in money, and promises of promotion.[216] The progress of improvement that had banished minstrels, jugglers, and tumblers, from princely establishments, had naturally introduced the drama in their room; and, accordingly, we sometimes find a company of actors classed among the servants of the chief noblemen, as well as a family physician, or even a whole band. A steward, distinguished by a velvet jacket, and a gold chain about his neck, presided as marshal of the household, and next to him was the clerk of the kitchen. But these cumbrous appendages were daily lessening, as domestic comfort came to be better understood. This improvement, however, had commenced still earlier among those of less rank and pretension. All who had their fortune still to seek in the court, or in the army, and all who repaired to the metropolis in quest of pleasure, found, so early as the time of Elizabeth, that the bustle and the scramble of new and stirring times, made a numerous train of attendants an uncomfortable appendage. The gallant, and the courtier, therefore, like Sir John Falstaff, studied “French thrift,” and contented himself with a single “skirted page,” who walked behind him carrying his cloak and rapier.[217]

In consequence of the extravagant living introduced during this period, the spendthrift gentleman often sank into the serving-man, as we may see from the frequent recurrence of such a transformation in the old plays. When servants were out of place—as we learn from the same authentic pictures of the real life of the times—they sometimes repaired to St. Paul’s Churchyard, the great place of public lounge, and there stood against the pillars, holding before them a written placard, stating their peculiar qualifications, and their desire of employment.[218]

“But whatever retrenchment,” observes the same author, “might be making in the household expenditure by a diminished attendance, it was more than counterbalanced by an extravagance in dress, and personal ornament, that had now become an absolute frenzy.” It is said that King James almost daily figured in a new suit, a humour that soon became prevalent among his courtiers. Still more generally influential than his own example was that of his several handsome favourites, all of whom having been indebted for the royal favour merely to their personal attractions, spared no pains nor cost to give those natural advantages their full effect.[219]{142}

When Buckingham was sent ambassador to France, to bring the Princess Henrietta to England, he provided for this important mission a suit of white uncut velvet and a cloak, both set all over with diamonds, valued at eighty thousand pounds, besides a feather made of great diamonds. His sword, girdle, hatband, and spurs, were also set thick with diamonds. Another suit which he prepared for the same occasion, was of purple satin, embroidered all over with pearls,[220] and valued at twenty thousand pounds. In addition to these, he had twenty other dresses of great richness. As a throng of nobles and gentlemen attended him, we may conceive how their estates must have been impoverished by the purchase of chains of gold, ropes of pearl, and splendid dresses, befitting the retinue of such an ambassador. Even a court festival, of the time of James the First, must have made a perilous inroad upon a year’s amount of the largest income. Thus, at the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth to the Palatine, Lady Wotton wore a gown profusely ornamented with embroidery, that cost fifty pounds a yard; and Lord Montague spent fifteen hundred pounds on the dresses of his two daughters, that they might be fit to appear at court on the same occasion.[221]

The following letter—which we quote from a work of great merit and research—unfolds much of the domestic ‘economy’ and habits of a family of distinction during this reign. It is addressed to William, second Lord Compton, by his wife, soon after their marriage:—

My Sweet Life—Now I have declared to you my mind for the settling of your state, I suppose that it were best for me to think and consider within myself what allowance were meetest for me. I pray and beseech you to grant to me, your most kind and loving wife, the sum of £2,600, quarterly to be paid. Also, I would, besides that allowance, have £600, quarterly to be paid, for the performance of charitable works; and these things I would not, neither will be, accountable for. Also, I will have three horses for my own saddle, that none shall dare to lend or borrow: none lend but I; none borrow but you. Also, I would have two gentlewomen, lest one should be sick, or have some other let. Also, believe it, it is an undecent thing for a gentlewoman to stand mumping alone, when God hath blessed their lord and lady with a large estate.

Also, when I ride a hunting or a hawking, or travel from one house to another, I will have them attending; so for either of these said women, I must and will have for either of them a horse. Also, I will have six or eight gentlemen; and I will have my two coaches, one lined with velvet to myself, and{143} four very fair horses; and a coach for my women, lined with cloth and laced with gold; otherwise with scarlet, and laced with silver; with four good horses. Also, I will have two coachmen, one for my own coach, the other for my women.

Also, at any time when I travel, I will be allowed not only caroches and spare horses for me and my women; but I will have such carriages as shall be fitting for all; orderly, not pestering my things with my women’s; nor theirs with either chambermaids; nor theirs with washing maids.

Also, for laundresses, when I travel, I will have them sent away before with the carriage, to see all safe. And the chambermaids I will have go before, that the chamber may be ready, sweet, and clean. Also, for that it is indecent to crowd up myself with my gentleman-usher in my coach, I will have him to have a convenient horse, to attend me either in city or country. And I must have two footmen. And my desire is that you defray all the charges for me.

And for myself, besides my yearly allowance, 1 would have twenty gowns of apparel, six of them excellent good ones, eight of them for the country, and six other of them very excellent good ones. Also, I would have, to put in my purse, £2,000 and £200, and so you to pay my debts. Also, I would have £6,000 to buy me jewels, and £4,000 to buy me a pearl chain. Now, seeing I have been, and am, so reasonable unto you, I pray you do find my children apparel and their schooling; and all my servants, men and women, their wages.

Also, I will have all my houses furnished, and my lodging-chambers to be suited with all such furniture as is fit; as beds, stools, chairs, suitable cushions, carpets, silver warming-pans, cupboards of plate, fair hangings, and such like. So, for my drawing-chambers, in all houses, I will have them delicately furnished, both with hangings, couch, canopy, glass, carpet, chairs, cushions, and all things thereto belonging.

Also, my desire is that you would pay your debts, build up Ashley House, and purchase lands: and lend no money, as you love God, to my Lord Chamberlain, who would have all—perhaps your life—from you.... So now that I have declared unto you what I would have, and what it is that I would not have, I pray you, when you be an earl, to allow me £2,000 more than I now desire, and double attendance.”[222]{144}

Prodigality in feasting and riotous living soon became as conspicuous as extravagance with regard to dress. In proof whereof, we may mention the ante-suppers of the epicurean Earl of Carlisle. Weldon informs us, that he gave a banquet to the French ambassador at Essex House, where fish of such huge size were served up, and which had been brought all the way from Russia, that no dishes in England could hold them, until several were made for the express purpose. The household expenditure of James the First was twice as much as that of his predecessor, amounting to a hundred thousand pounds annually.[223]

Country Life.—While such were the habits of the courtiers, the country aristocracy still followed that kind of life so much familiarized to our minds by the descriptions in the old songs and plays of “the golden days of good Queen Bess.” The rural knight, or squire, inhabited a huge building—half house, half castle—crowded with servants in homespun blue coats, many of whom were only serviceable in filling up the blank spaces of the mansion; but as these had been born in his Worship’s service, it was held as a matter of course that they should live and die in it.

“The family rose at daybreak, and first of all assembled at prayers, which were read by the family chaplain. Then came breakfast; after which the master of the household and his sons got into their saddles, and went off to hunt the deer, followed by some score of mounted attendants; while the lady and her daughters superintended the dairy, or the buttery, prescribed the day’s task for the spinning-wheels, dealt out bread and meat at the gate to the poor, and concocted all manner of simples for the sick and infirm of the village. If leisure still remained, the making of confections and preserves was a never-failing resource; independently of spinning and sewing, or perhaps embroidering some battle or hunting piece, which had been commenced by the housewives of a preceding generation.”

At noon dinner was served up in the Great Hall, the walls of which were plentifully adorned with stags’ horns, casques, antique brands, and calivers. The noisy dinner-bell, that sent the note of warning over the country, gave also a universal invitation and welcome to the hospitable board; and after dinner sack, or home-brewed ‘October,’ occupied the time until sunset, when the hour of retiring to rest was at hand.

Such was the ordinary history of a day in the country mansion. When the weather prevented out-door recreation or employment, the family library, containing some six or eight tomes, that had perhaps issued from the press of Caxton, or Wynkyn de Worde, was in requisition; and, if the members of the family could read, they might while away the hours in perusing these volumes{145} for the twentieth time. In this fashion, they derived their knowledge of religion from the Bible, and the “Practice of Piety;” their Protestantism and horror of Popery from “Fox’s Acts and Monuments;” their chivalrous lore from “Froissart’s Chronicles,” or, perchance, the “Merry Gests of Robin Hood;” their historical erudition from “Hall” or “Hollingshed;” and their morality and sentiments from “the Seven Wise Masters,” or the “Seven Champions of Christendom.”[224]

Holidays.—In such a state of life the set holidays were glorious eras; the anticipation, the enjoyment, the remembrance of a single Christmas or birthday, furnished matter for a whole month of happiness. On such an occasion the lord of the manor was more than a king, as he proceeded with his family through the crowds of assembled peasants, to witness their games of merriment, and feats of agility or strength; for his smile inspired the competitors with double strength or swiftness; while the prize acquired a tenfold value because it was he who bestowed it. At evening, his bounty was expressed by oxen roasted whole, and puncheons of mighty ale, with which he feasted the crowd; while his house was thrown open to the throng of his more immediate acquaintances and dependents. After the feast, his hall was cleared for dancing; three fiddlers and a piper struck up; and as the “mirth and fun grew fast and furious,” the strong oaken floor was battered and ploughed in all directions by the hobnailed shoes of those who danced with all their might, and with all their hearts.[225]

Such was the life of an old country gentleman when James succeeded to the crown of England. But these habits, the last relics of the simplicity of the olden times, did not long survive that event. Tidings of the gay doings at court, and the wonderful good fortune of the royal favourites, reached the ears of the aristocratic rustics; and from that moment rural occupations and village maypoles lost their charm. The young were impatient to repair to the metropolis; and the old were obliged to yield to the prevailing fashion. With all the fierce impetuosity of novices, rural esquires, and well-dowried country widows, rushed into the pleasures and excesses of a town life; and thus, with a rapidity hitherto unknown in England, and at which moralists became giddy, ancient manners were soon abandoned; fortunes, that had accumulated for generations, vanished; the hereditary estates of centuries became the property of men of yesterday; and the time-honoured names of some of the most ancient families disappeared from the scroll of English heraldry, and soon ceased to be remembered.[226]{146}

When Charles came to the throne, “the coldness of his character and his decorous habits discountenanced those coarse and profligate excesses; and the courtiers endeavoured to conform to something like the rules of external decency. A general sobriety of demeanour succeeded.” “But, as the stern ascetic Puritans grew into power, and advanced to the destruction of the monarchy with prayer and fasting, the court party soon became eager to distinguish themselves by an entirely opposite behaviour. All the excesses of the former reign were resumed; and Charles found himself unable to restrain, or even to rebuke, his adherents, who swore, drank, brawled, and intrigued, to show their hatred of the enemy, and their devotedness to the royal cause.”[227]

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Life at Raglan.[228]—Down to this eventful period, the castellated mansion of Raglan had continued to bask in the sunshine of prosperity. Its halls were frequented by the elite of rank and station, and by many of that intellectual aristocracy whose genius threw so much lustre upon that and the preceding reign. The Earl, whose revenues were princely, lived in a style becoming the representative of an illustrious race; and while he observed great state, and gave sumptuous banquets to the magnates of the land, he did not neglect the humble votaries of the Muse.

Household.—The following record is taken from a “List of the Household and method of living at Raglan Castle,” previous to the visit of Charles the First:—

“At eleven o’clock in the forenoon the castle gates were shut, and the tables laid—two in the dining-room; three in the hall; one in Mrs. Watson’s apartment, where the chaplains eat (Sir Toby Matthews being the first); and two in the housekeeper’s room for the ladies’ women.

First.—The Earl entered the dining-room, attended by his gentlemen. As soon as he was seated, Sir Ralph Blackstone, steward of the house, retired. The comptroller, Mr. Holland, attended with his staff, as did the sewer, Mr. Blackburne; the daily waiters, Mr. Clough, Mr. Selby, Mr. Scudamore; and many gentlemen’s sons, with estates from two hundred to seven hundred pounds{147} a year, who were bred up in the castle; my lady’s gentlemen of the chamber, Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fox. At the first table sat the noble family, and such of the nobility as came there.

Second.—At the second table in the dining-room sat knights and honourable gentlemen attended by footmen.

Hall.—In the hall, at the first table, sat Sir Ralph Blackstone, steward; the comptroller, Mr. Holland; the secretary; the master of the horse, Mr. Dolowar; the master of the fish-ponds, Mr. Andrews; my Lord Herbert’s preceptor, Mr. Adams; with such gentlemen as came there under the degree of a knight, attended by footmen, and plentifully served with wine.

Second Hall.—At the second table in the hall—served from my lord’s table, and with other hot meats—sat the sewer, with the gentlemen waiters and pages, to the number of twenty-four.

Third.—At the third table, in the hall, sat the clerk of the kitchen, with the yeomen officers of the house, two grooms of the chamber and others.

Other Officers of the household were—chief auditor, Mr. Smith; clerk of the accounts, George Whithorn; purveyor of the castle, Mr. Salisbury; ushers of the hall, Mr. Moyle and Mr. Cooke; the closet-keeper; gentleman of the chapel, Mr. Davies; keeper of the records; master of the wardrobe; master of the armoury; master-grooms of the stable for the war horses, twelve; master of the hounds; master falconer; porter, and his man; two butchers; two keepers of the home park; two keepers of the red deer park; footmen, grooms, and other menial servants to the number of one hundred and fifty. Some of the footmen were brewers and bakers.

Out-officers were—the steward of Raglan, William Jones, Esq.; the governor of Chepstow Castle, Sir Nicholas Kemys, Bart.;[229] housekeeper of Worcester House, in London; James Redman, Esq.; thirteen bailiffs; two counsel for the bailiffs to have recourse to; solicitor, Mr. John Smith.”[230]

Among other distinguished individuals, who at this time filled offices in the household of Raglan, was the Earl’s—and soon afterwards the Marquess’s—chaplain, Dr. Thomas Bayly; to whom we owe those amusing “Apophthegms of the Marquess of Worcester,” published at the Restoration, and from which we take the following farce, in the chaplain’s own words, as presenting a characteristic picture of the times, when the Castle had become the scene of extraordinary festivity:—

“I cannot tell whether it was upon the marriage of my Lord Edward Herbert with the Earl Caernarvon’s sister, or the Lord Montague with the Marquis{148} of Worcester’s daughter, that there happened this merrie passage, or mock wedding, as an echo to the voices that were heard in Hymeneus’ chappel, between those lovely couple—think which you please—who had newly left being wholly themselves, by being half of each other; viz., one of those two pair of lovers had no sooner united two hearts into one, and had seated themselves by one of the too many proprieties belonging unto the honourable state of matrimony, viz. the boord; but this Tom Deputy, an old bachelour, chanced to cast his eye upon a pretty piece of waiting-woman, one of the appurtenances to this honourable bride. Her, this jovial Tom, having whetted his wit by the side of the marriage-bowle, fixes upon, being enabled sufficiently thereby to follow any humour, as a fit subject to make their ladiships some sport; which happened to be so suitable to the occasion, and so well performed, that it soon captivated the cares also of all the masculine nobility.

“Thus encountering the faire bride—‘Madam, you have the prettiest piece of necessity yonder, at the side-table, that I know not how any man can be without a wife that may have her for asking. Madam, will you give her me? I protest I will marry her, and fancy myself to be a lord, and herself a lady. “My mind to me a kingdom is;” which shall make her a sufficient joynture.’

Tom, Tom,’ said the Marquess, ‘such men as you and I, whose joynts are enfeebled with the strokes of many years, must not think to winne young maides, by promising to make them joyntures of the mind. But will you make her deputy of Deputy Hall? and landlady of all the land that is belonging to it? and Mrs. of all the stock that is upon the land, and goods that is within the house? Answer me this, and then you shall heare what my daughter and her woman will say unto you.’

With all my heart,’ said Tom; ‘and all the hoggs and poultry that is about the house to boote; and she shall sleep upon six feather beds.’

Why, then, it shall be a match,’ said the lady, ‘with all my heart.’

Give me your hand, madam,’ sayes Deputy; ‘I will have her, if there be no more evills in the world.’ And presently he makes his addresses to the pritty little gentlewoman of the said table; who had heard all the discourse, and was persuaded, then, upon his approach, to answer his humour with a condescention at the first word, and informed that he was an old rich bachelor; he accosting her after this manner—‘This pritty moppit, now thy lady hath given her consent that I shall have thee, if thou saist so too, we’ll be married as soon as they.’

With all my heart, and thank you too,’ said the young gentlewoman.

By my troth, a match,’ said he; ‘give me thy hand—‘tis done. I’ll break such a jest this day as I never broke in my life.’

Aye; but do not break your promise,’ said the gentlewoman.{149}

What! before all this company?’ said Deputy; ‘that were a shame.’

“Up he goes again to the lady, and tells her that they were agreed. My lady drank to him upon the same condition. He pledged her, and wished the wine might be his poison if he did not marry her after dinner. The lady, willing to prefer her woman to such a fortune, held him to his word, and required performance of his promise, giving her many and high commendations.

“Tom went not from any part of his promise, onely the time excepted; and that in regard he meant to buy himself some wedding clothes. The Marquess, willing to remove that obstacle, told him that he thought his clothes would fit him; and bid him goe unto his wardrope, and take what he had a mind to. ‘Give me your key,’ said Tom. It was delivered unto him. Up went he, and then came down with his bever hat, sattin cloke, laid with plush, dawb’d with a gold and silver lace, suite of the same, silk stockings, with roses and garters suitable, inside and outside, capope, all as brave as if he carried a lordship on his back.

“The lady-bride then takes her woman aside, and dresses her in one of her richest and newest gownes—that should have made every day of that week sensible of an exchange—with all things answerable thereunto; not without some store of slight jewels; and brings her down, as glorious as the morne, that breaks from the eastern hill, and chases night away.

“They look upon one another, and all upon them both. Tom cries out, ‘I had best be in good earnest, my lady.’ Said my lady, ‘I thought you had been in sober sadness.’ ‘Neither, madam,’ said the new bridegroome. ‘But, old Tom, I hope,’ said the lady, ‘you will not make me take all this paines for nothing?’ No, by no means,’ saith he; ‘if ever we repent, we will sell our fine cloathes and buy cattle! It is better being a lord for a week, than a slave for ever. Come thy wayes,’ quoth he—

‘How happy is the wooing
That is not long a doing!’

“Well—married they were, in the greatest pomp and ceremony; and the Queen of Beauty took delight in leading the eyes of the vulgar, which by this time were altogether fixed on the ladye of the May. Tom acted his scene of mirth in the hall—which proved to be a thing of that convenience, as if it had been an act of some set policie, to keep the crowd out of the parlour that the masquers might have roome enough to dance in.

“At last, when the masque was ended, and time had brought in supper, the ‘Cushine’ led the dance, out of the parlour into the hall, and saluted the old-new-made bridegroome and his lady, leading them into the parlour, to a table which was furnished with the same allowance that was allotted for all the{150} nobles, where they were soon forced to sit down first—Tom taking upon him as much good cheer as they could give him.

“In fine, supper being ended, the Marquess of Worcester asked the Lady-bride, ‘If she had a hundred pounds about her?’ She answered, ‘No, my lord, but I can send for as much.’ ‘I pray do,’ said the Marquess; ‘but it must be all in gold.’ She sent for it, and presented it to her father; who pulled out another purse of an hundred pieces, and put the two hundred pieces in the bason, saying, ‘Madam, if you do not give earnest, Deputy will tell you in the morning, that he married your woman but in jest.’ Whereupon some gave fifty, others forty; some gave twenty, others ten; the least gave five gold pieces, who sat at the table—in all, £700. The apparel and other gifts, amounting to no lesse a value than one thousand pounds; which so transported the old man, that he protested, ‘that now he was in the humour, he would marry all the waiting gentlewomen they had; one every day in the week, as long as the wedding lasted.’ My Lord Marquess replied, ‘Ay, but Tom, you should have added, “at this rate.”...

“Not to be too tedious, the man—what with bounty, and what with that which was as free to every man, as was their purses unto him, which was good wine—the man was not himself when he should have gone to bed. Which being related to my lord, his lordship took occasion to tell the company the story of the beggar, who was made believe he did but dreame of the happiness which really happened; and, thereupon, the marquess was desirous to make experiment whether it could be related in the person of old Thomas. In order whereto, he gave command that my friend Thomas should be disrobed of his neat wedding garment, the rest of his fine clothes taken from him, and himself carried unto his old lodging in the porter’s lodge; and his wife to respite the solemnisation of the marriage, until his comportment should deserve so faire an admission—the which was done accordingly.

“The next morning made the experiment to answer the height of all their expectations; for news was brought unto the Marquess—all the rest of the lords and ladies standing by—that Tom took all yesterday’s work but for a dream; or, at least, seemed to do so to humour the fancy.... But I should be endlesse,” says Bayly, “if I should relate unto you the sport that this fellow made.

“To conclude: The Marquess called them both before him, and delivered unto them the money, with many good exhortations to them both, thus moralizing upon the premises”—in a strain very characteristic of that day:—

That which was first in intention, is oftentimes, both with God and man, the last in execution. As, for example, God had, before all worlds, determined to show his love for mankind, by wedding his onely Sonne to his Church; so

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The Paved Stone Court.

Raglan Castle.


that thus much we have gained already, viz., that the marriage that was made in paradise between Adam and Eve, though it was the first in time, yet it was but secondary to the first intention; and he that said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” was also before Adam was; and though the first marriage was but a type of the second, yet the second, according to the aforesaid intention, was an antecedent to the first. God, who having an intention to wed his Sonne to his beloved spouse, the Church, gave way to this type, or figure, or—to bring the similitude a little homer—mock-wedding, which was between Adam and Eve, whom to make appear more worthy and glorious in the eyes of his beloved, and all other creatures, he arrayed with full majesty, and the robe of righteousness. His mercy—the lady and empress of all the glorious attributes of God—arrais this type and figure of his Church with the robe of innocence, and gives them both a large proportion of his grace. These blessings, Adam, by tasting the forbidden fruit, lost with his paradise, and slept in death. Gentlemen,’ concluded the Marquess, ‘I will not make any application hereof, lest I may seeme to mistrust your wisdomes; but I have nothing to say to the woman.’[231]

The preceding is certainly a very curious passage in the history of

A potent, grave, and reverend signior.

It reminds one of some parts of Don Quixote and of Rabelais—all but the sermon at the close—which may have been imitated from one of the old “Mysteries” then in vogue. But to these “Apophthegms” and Dr. Bayly, the “martial chaplain” of the household, we may return in a subsequent portion of the work. In the meantime, we shall take a survey of Raglan Castle, as it now appears, and then proceed to a narrative of the Royal Visits.

Architectural Details.—Of the strength, beauty, and attractions of this stronghold—which we are now to examine with some degree of minuteness—a quaint old poet[232] has thus recorded his admiration:—

A famous Castle fine
That Raglan hight, stands moated almost round;
Made of free-stone, upreight, as straight as line,
Whose workmanship in beauty doth abound,
With curious knots, wrought all with edged tool:
The stately Tower that looks o’er pond and poole;
The fountaine trim, that runs both day and night,
Doth yeald in shew a rare and noble sight.

This description, of course, applies to times long before the guns of Fairfax had made a breach in the Yellow Tower; and while the Castle, with all its regal appendages, was the cherished abode of its illustrious owner—a reper{152}torium of the fine arts, and the seat of unbounded hospitality. At no period of its history, however—not even while it was inhabited by worth and beauty, enriched with the precious works of art, and seemed to enclose within its walls an earthly paradise—at no period did it ever present so many features to fascinate the mind and eye of Taste as at this moment.

And “Why is it”—inquires one of the ablest writers of the day—“Why is it that we feel so poetical a sympathy with the great men of ages long past? Why do castles please most when they are dismantled, and palaces when they are in ruins? Why is an old battle-field rather improved than otherwise by a crop of standing corn? Because we can imagine nobler things than we can see. Because the heroic deed, not vile flesh and blood, is the impersonation of the hero. We should be rather displeased at meeting the Iron Duke walking to a pedometer on the field of Waterloo. We would doubt whether on the plain of Marathon we could be reconciled even to the ghost of Miltiades. Greatness shines more brightly when it is abstracted from the man.”

We will now, as proposed, take the building in detail, beginning with the grand entrance, and proceeding onward, until we have completed the circuit of the walls, the inner apartments, battlements, terraces, and outworks. On these prominent features we shall dilate with more or less minuteness according to the interest of the subject—but always directing the reader’s attention more especially to those portions which have been chosen as subjects of illustration.

Grand Entrance.—Here a magnificent and imposing spectacle bursts upon the eye—three pentagonal towers, crowned with battlements, and bearing on their mutilated outline marks of the cannon-shot directed against it by the besiegers. These, however, are less defaced than any other portions of the ruin, and are now invested with a luxuriant mantle of ivy, lichen, and parasitical plants, as if Nature interposed to protect the venerable edifice from further outrage and decay. In the gateway are grooves for two portcullises. The two pentagonal towers on the right and left were appropriated to the inferior offices of the castle. Immediately behind these were rooms occupied by the garrison, or household troops. Adjoining these on the right, was the third pentagonal tower, called the Closet Tower; and on the left again were the officers’ apartments, which were demolished during the operations of the siege.

Gateway.—Between the two foremost of the pentagonal towers, above-named, the great portal—a work of imposing strength and fine gothic proportions—opens into the second court. Halting under the archway, the curious visitor will examine, with mingled pleasure and surprise, the fine architectural details; the groined ceiling; its lofty span; its fine proportions, in which grace, strength, and beauty are eminently combined: while the deep grooves, worn smooth by the working of the double portcullis, show how readily this{153} hospitable gateway could be transformed, when occasion required, into an impenetrable barrier, and employed as a destructive engine of war. The old apartments in the gateway tower are correctly represented in the following woodcut—

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In a vaulted room in the east tower there is a remarkable echo; and thither musical parties frequently resort during the fine season to spread their pic-nic, and exercise their vocal powers. This apartment is considered to have been the prison to which captives, or hostages of distinction, were formerly consigned;[233] and certainly no place in the Castle presents an air of more “hopeless security.” In the court below—as represented in a former woodcut—several pieces of ancient armour, and some heavy cannon shot, are shown to the visitor, as illustrative of the times to which they belong. The next compartment is

The Paved Court.—All the buildings on the right of this court, particularly the Closet Tower—the third pentagonal tower at the entrance—suffered greatly from the enemy’s cannon during the siege; and here, on the north-east side of the wall, the breach was effected that hastened the capitulation. The Pitched, or Paved Court, the area of which was once the parade ground, thronged with armed men, as they joined in some military fête, or entered on some warlike preparation for the siege, is now surrounded by only crumbling{154} walls, and as verdant as a bowling-green. The towering battlements are all richly festooned with ivy. Every crevice sends forth its trees and shrubs, that seem to luxuriate in the old mortar; and under the same canopy of leaves, as already noticed, birds of song and birds of ill omen congregate together. At the extremity of the Paved Court, on the right, as we proceed westward, and from the point marked by a seat under a shady ash-tree, the visitor obtains an imposing view of the architecture on the south side, which, with all its dilapidations, is eminently picturesque. “Its boundary is there hung with the richest tapestry that Nature can weave—a mantling vestment of evergreen—through which appears, in grand proportions, the majestic window of the Hall of State.” This is a prominent feature in the steel engraving.

The Kitchen.—At the extremity of the court, and opposite to the portal, is an archway leading to the kitchen, which occupies the area of a pentagonal tower, projecting beyond the walls northward, and of narrow compass, but great solidity and strength. In an office adjoining is an extensive fireplace, the arch of which, thirteen feet in the span, is formed by two massive stones. The wide capacious chimney is worthy of notice. Beneath the kitchen is a room in perfect preservation, called the Wet Larder, which may be easily reached by a subterranean passage. From the kitchen a passage leads southward across the lower end of the Pitched Court to the Buttery, and this again to the common

Dining-Hall, or Parlour.—This apartment measures forty-nine feet in length by twenty-one in breadth, with an opening at the east end into a narrow cross passage, which also communicates, by three openings or doors, with the great Hall, which lies between the Pitched Court and the Chapel, and occupies nearly the whole space between this dining-hall and the Officers’ Tower, at the great entrance. Adjoining these is the

Baronial Hall.—This stately apartment, running parallel with the ancient chapel, occupies the interval between the two inner courts, and measures sixty-six feet in length by twenty-eight in breadth. The chief indications of its original grandeur consist in the majestic proportions—all of elegant design and masterly execution. The great bay-window is a feature that cannot fail to excite admiration; and were no other left entire, it would serve to convey a very distinct picture of that feudal magnificence which was in character with the splendour of its architecture. The fireplace, ten feet wide by eight feet high, is well adapted to the size of the apartment, and to those times when, instead of pit-coal, the branches or bole of a tree blazed on the winter hearth.

Arms.—The arms of the Marquisate of Worcester, cut in stone, but much obliterated, adorn the eastern wall; for the noble badge was an offensive object to the republicans; and, on their taking possession of the castle, it was probably

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The Baronial Hall.

Raglan Castle.


used as a target,[234] and thus wantonly defaced. Over the fire-place, as shown in the engraving, is the letter W. worked in brick.

Roof.—The geometrical roof, which once covered this noble hall, is allowed by all writers on the subject to have been of admirable construction. It was of Irish oak of the best quality, nicely adjusted, elaborately carved, and so ingeniously framed and fastened together, that the whole appeared as firm as if it had been chiselled out of a solid block; yet withal so lofty, so light and airy in appearance, that it seemed rather to be suspended from the sky above, than to rest upon the corbel heads and walls which it covered and adorned. In the centre was a gothic louvre adorned with painted glass, through which the descending light streamed upon the assembled guests—their arms, dresses, and accoutrements, in all the colours of the rainbow.

At the lower end of the hall is the Buttery, an apartment, thirty-two feet long by eighteen broad; and attached to this is another of equal dimensions, called the Pantry.

Officers’ Barracks.—Opposite the door of the great Hall, on the south, was a range of apartments, used as lodgings for the superior officers of the garrison. During the siege these were razed to the ground by the enemy’s artillery; so that the area on which they stood is now confounded with that of the Fountain Court. The latter apartments are distinct from those already described.

The Chapel.—The Baronial Chapel stands in the rear of the apartments named. It is a long narrow structure, running parallel with the great Hall, and forming the north side of the Fountain Court; but the vestiges that remain convey no distinct notion of its architectural style and decorations; which were, no doubt, in harmony with other sacred buildings of that age and its character of a baronial chapel. If, however, we may form any opinion from two rudely carved stone effigies[235] projecting from the wall on the north side, and nearly covered with ivy, we should form but a very unfavourable estimate of its ornamental sculpture: unless, indeed, the deformity they exhibit be the result of wilful violence; and as they are at a good height, and not approachable in the ordinary way, we had no means of ascertaining the fact by close inspection. But the corbel heads, from which the arches sprung, do not appear to justify a more favourable opinion; for the workmanship exhibits neither skill in the design, nor spirit in the execution. The Chapel, therefore, was of a date perhaps much anterior to the surrounding buildings, and coeval with that of the Keep, or “Tower of Gwent,” a work of the eleventh century.{156}

The Fountain Court.—This court was formerly adorned with an equestrian statue, mounted on a lofty pedestal, and embellished with a fountain—the water for which was brought at great expense from the neighbouring hills—and, after being thrown up in jets-d’eau, was conveyed into the fish-ponds adjoining, so as to combine in its progress the useful with the ornamental. But the pedestal, the marble basin, and the statue, with every other fragment of the structure, have disappeared. The pipes that conveyed the water have been ploughed up in the fields adjoining the castle; but the classic beauty of the fountain lives in the history and traditions of the place: and from a laughable incident related in the “Apophthegms,” and which will be found in another portion of this work, we may infer that the Marquess of Worcester took great pleasure in this kind of embellishments.[236]

South-west Tower.—Ascending the flight of steps commencing at the grand entrance, on the south side of the court, we were conducted through the desolate apartments, known traditionally as those occupied by Charles the First, after his flight from Naseby. This tower, and the whole range of apartments connected with it, are in a state of complete dilapidation; and were it not for the wooden scaffolding that secures and facilitates the visitor’s progress, a tour of the ramparts would be impracticable. A lady, we were told, who happened to be near this spot during a rather high wind, was blown over the wall; but an umbrella, which she had fortunately open in her hand, acted like a parachute, and broke her fall; and thus she alighted among the shrubs beneath without sustaining any material injury.

In these royal apartments, we were shown a tunnel, like a chimney, in the wall of the king’s chamber, communicating with the outer rampart, by means of which, in case of surprise or danger, the royal fugitive could have been lowered in a basket, and enabled to make his escape beyond the walls. Had a similar contrivance existed at Carisbrook, it would have served his purpose better. But there he was indeed a prisoner. Here he had the lives and services of a whole garrison at his command; with Worcester himself, the most devoted friend the king ever possessed, to provide against every danger, and supply every want.

A light and elegant stone window is here pointed out as that to which the king often resorted, on account of the richly variegated and extensive view which it commands of hill and dale, wood and water; trees, hamlets, and farmhouses, covering a rich and well-cultivated tract of land. These natural beauties are as fresh as ever; while the splendid building, from which he then

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Gateway in the Fountain Court.

Raglan Castle.


contemplated the scene, is reduced to a lonely ruin—thus apostrophized by the muse of Bloomfield:—

“Majestic Raglan! harvests wave
Where thundering hosts their watchword gave;
When cavaliers, with downcast eye,
Struck the last flag of loyalty!”

The Cellars.—These subterranean receptacles are of vast extent; and, in massive strength and proportions—like a crypt under a cathedral—are worthy of the noble edifice that covers them. In times of danger, and particularly during the siege, they appear to have served the manifold purposes of cellars, storehouses, larders, magazines, and muniments of war, with provisions for a numerous garrison and household.

At the north-eastern part of the court, the buildings were nearly all mutilated, or thrown down by the enemy’s batteries, which, from a rising ground in the line of his approach, played with destructive force upon this portion of the walls. Fragments, however, still remain to show the predominant features of the Castle—its strength and beauty. From this point, we are told, communication with the citadel was secured by means of a sumptuous arched bridge, with a gate to correspond. But of these no distinct vestiges are left. The “sumptuous bridge” is replaced by a rustic structure of wood; the moat it spans is half filled with decayed vegetables and debris; and the water, that formerly enclosed the Keep like a wall of crystal, is now covered with a sluggish green surface, that exhibits a very different kind of life.

In other parts of the moat, however, it is deep and transparent, mostly so at the south corner, where masses of verdure—with a particularly old and very picturesque tree, as shown in the illustration—are reflected as if in a mirror. This is probably the most interesting point of view in the whole Castle. Of a still summer evening, about sunset, the outline of the gray towers and battlements, with all their contrasted features of light and shade, beauty and decay—here fringed with wood, and there displaying honourable scars—sleeps on the face of the water like an inverted picture. The scene, with all its singular accompaniments, has then a dreaminess of romance about it, similar to that which the Fata Morgana conjures up on the Straits of Messina—but with this important difference, that the scenery here, however romantic, is real and substantial; that all we behold is the work of Art, over which Nature has only thrown her splendid illusion of cloud, sunshine, and exuberant vegetation.

Tower of Gwent.—This tall and massive structure, built as if to defy the united force of time and violence, forms the Citadel or Donjon-Tower of the fortress; and points very expressively to those remote times, when the peace of a great man’s household depended on the strength of his walls, and the{158} number and courage of his retainers. In a direct line with this Castle were three gates; the first of brick, from which, at the distance of one hundred and eighty feet, and with an ascent of many steps, was the White Gate, built of square stone. At some distance on the left stands the Melin y Gwent, or Yellow Tower of Gwent, which for strength, height, and workmanship, surpassed most other towers, if not every other, in England or Wales. It had six sides, each thirty-two feet wide, and ten feet thick, built of square stone, and in height five stories. Its battlements, never meant to resist cannon shot, are only eight inches thick; but so symmetrical and compactly set, that they appear as if cut out of a solid block. During the siege—hereafter to be described—this portion was soon demolished by the batteries directed against it by Fairfax; but his heaviest guns, eighteen and twenty pounders, took no more effect on the body of the tower, than if they had opened upon a solid rock.[237] Our ancestors appear to have been particularly well skilled in the composition of their cement, which in Raglan is now nearly as hard as the stones it holds together. When the Goths and Vandals of the country—the blind instruments of Fairfax—were summoned to demolish with their pickaxes what the besiegers’ cannon had spared, their republican zeal was attended with little success; for “after battering of the top,” they were obliged, as we shall see, to desist from that method as fruitless, and adopt other means for its destruction.[238]

This Tower communicated with the Castle by means of an elegant arched bridge encircled by an outer wall, with six arched and embattled turrets, all of square stone. Adjoining this was a deep moat, thirty feet broad, and supplied by a clear running stream, from which the water-works, so much the fashion in those days, threw up columns of water as high as the Castle battlements. Along the edge of the moat, was a commodious sunken walk, embellished with grotto-work, statues of the Twelve Cæsars, and otherwise ornamented with the choicest productions of Nature and Art. This was the walk to which the family could resort at all seasons, whether for exercise or meditation. Within the walls and the green adjoining—then the bowling-green, and twelve feet higher than the walk—was a garden plat, the size of which was proportioned to the tower. Next to this plat—as shown in the accompanying ground-plan—stood the Barn.

In casting the eye over the whole circuit of these buildings, the mind is astonished at the immense labour which must have been exerted to collect together such a quantity of materials of various descriptions. And here it may

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The Moat.

Raglan Castle.


be observed that the majority of these baronial mansions are situated on, or near, the bank of some navigable river, for the purpose of defending some important pass or fortress, by means of which the carriage of stone is attended with comparatively little expense or trouble; but in the present instance, there is no navigable river nearer than the Wye, from which the Castle is distant at Monmouth ten, and at Chepstow twelve miles.[239] And what is very remarkable, there is no quarry in the neighbourhood from which the stone employed in building the Castle could have been procured. It is of a light grey colour, and very hard; but the name of the quarter from which it was taken is still a matter of vague conjecture. No such stone as that used for the chimney-pieces of Raglan is now to be found in Monmouthshire. Such is the neatness and exactness with which the facing stones are laid, that they exhibit the same perfect appearance as if the artist had but just left the scaffold. “The bricks which compose the south wall are extremely well baked, and of a quality not less durable than that of the stone.”

In the present day, we can form but a very imperfect notion of the extent to which the original outworks were carried. When the demesnes of ancient families are let out as farms, the tenant soon brings about a revolution of ancient purposes. He adapts the whole to modern uses—to whatever will best enable him to pay his rent. He calculates how many bushels of potatoes will grow on the slope; how much the lawn will yield to the plough, how much to pasturage; and how much grass may be annually shorn from the old Bowling-green.

So has it fared with the renowned fortress of Raglan.[240] With little interest in its history, little reverence for its ancient lords, every successive tenant, during a long series of years, has only studied how to turn it to the best advantage. Its ancient gardens have been obliterated; its lawns converted into pasture; its fountains, streams, and fish-ponds have been dried up; its materials carted away to erect some farmer’s homestead; its walls, that so stoutly resisted the enemy’s shot, and returned it with interest, seem to feel their degradation, and strive to hide it under a mantle of ivy.[241] Now, however, the grounds are kept in good order; while every feature and fragment of the venerable ruin are preserved with exemplary care by the resident warden, who happily possesses a taste for archæology.{160}

The accompanying ground-plan will enable the reader to trace the various apartments of the Castle in the same order in which they are described, and to follow with more interest the details of the Siege, upon which we are now to enter.

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1Keep, or Yellow Tower.
2Chambers destroyed in the Siege.
3Great Hall.
4Parlour, or small Dining-Room.
6Gateway and Staircase.
7Galleries and State-Rooms.
9Gateway leading to the Bowling-Green.
10Spot formerly crossed by a bridge.
11Breach made during the Siege.
12On the upper story is King Charles’ window.
13Moat surrounding the Keep.
“Our Donjon-tower is stout and tall,
Each rampart mann’d and steady;
And loyal hearts, from every wall,
Shout—‘Roundheads! we are ready!’
Then here’s a health to Charles our King;
And eke to noble Worcester!
To each, to-morrow’s fight shall bring
New loyalty and lustre!
Then hoist the Royal Standard high!
And crown our Chief with laurels!
And where’s the man that would not die
In combating for Charles?” &c. &c.

We have next to take a brief survey of that portion of the Revolutionary movements, with which the history of Raglan and its loyal garrison are so closely associated.

“The Parliament had now,” says Lord Clarendon, “such footing in Pembrokeshire, that many of the principal gentlemen had declared for them; and the harbour of Milford Haven gave their fleet opportunity to give them all supplies and relief.” This being the state of those parts,

The Lord Herbert, eldest son of the Marquess of Worcester, not only offered but desired to receive that command, and engaged himself “not only to secure it from the opposition and malignity of the other party; but before the spring to raise such a strength of horse and foot, and to provide such an equipage to march with, that might reduce Gloucester, and then be added to the King’s army when he should be ready to take the field. And all this so much at his own charge, for his father, the Marquess, who was well able, would furnish the money—as was pretended upon the King’s promise to repay him when he should be restored to his own—that he would receive no part of the King’s revenue, or of such money as his Majesty could be able to draw for the supply of his own more immediate occasions.”

This was a very great offer, and such as no man else could so reasonably make: for “the Marquess of Worcester was generally reputed the greatest mony’d man in the kingdom; and probably might not think it an unthrifty thing rather to disburse it for the King—who might be able to repay it—than to have it taken from him by the other party; which would be hardly questioned if they prevailed.”[242]

The Lord Herbert himself “was a man of more than ordinary affection for the King; and one who, he was sure, would not betray him. For his religion, it might work upon himself, but would not disquiet other men. For though he were a Papist, he was never like to make others so; and his reputation and interest were very great with many gentlemen of those counties, who were not at all friends to his religion. It was to be hoped that the old grudges and prejudices, which had been rather against the house of Worcester and the Popish religion professed there, than against the person of their lord, would have been composed, and declined by his fair and gentle carriage towards all men—as of truth he was of a civil and obliging nature—and by the public-heartedness of those who, for the Cause and conscience’ sake would, it was hoped, sacrifice all trivial and private contentions to a union that must vindicate the religion, honour, and justice of the kingdom. Upon these reasons and these presump{162}tions, the King granted such a commission as is before-mentioned to the Lord Herbert; who, with more expedition than was expected by many, or by others believed possible, raised a body of above fifteen hundred foot, and near five hundred horse, very well and sufficiently armed, which increased the merit of the service.”[243]

Of the royalist army, raised and paid by the Marquess of Worcester, the command of the infantry was given to Major-General Lawley; that of the cavalry to Lord John Somerset, his second son; while Lord Herbert took the field as Commander-in-chief. Immediately on its being ascertained that Monmouth had declared for the Parliament, Lord Herbert placed himself at the head of a body of troops, and, joined by a party of volunteers from Goodrich, placed them behind a rising ground near the town. Here, with about forty intrepid followers, he proceeded to reconnoitre the enemy’s position, and surmounting an earthen mound which they had thrown up, he passed the ditch, and put the guard to the sword. They next succeeded in breaking the port chain and forced an entrance for the cavalry; then, joining their comrades, they entered the town at full gallop, and, surrounding the main guard, made them prisoners. “The result of this expedition was the capture of Col. Broughton, four captains, four lieutenants and ensigns, the republican committee, and all the private soldiers, with a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition.”

Raglan Castle by this time had been put into a state of thorough defence, with a garrison of eight hundred men, many distinguished officers, and all the necessaries for maintaining a long and vigorous resistance. The Marquess himself—then on the verge of fourscore—infused by his presence and conversation an invincible spirit of loyalty into the garrison; and provisioned as it was, the place might well be viewed as almost impregnable.

The clashing exploit of Lord Herbert, however, was speedily followed by a mortifying reverse; for as the King’s army was on its march to Gloucester, it was met near Coleford by a rabble force of disaffected peasantry, whose object was to obstruct the Royalists in their passage through the Forest of Dean; and a scuffle ensuing, Colonel Lawley, the captain-in-chief, was mortally wounded by a stone.[244] But order being restored, and Colonel Brett taking the command, the Royalists continued their march until arriving on the right bank of the Severn, they threw up defences at the “Vineyard”—the Bishop’s palace—and there fixed their quarters. But in the meantime, Sir William Waller, who was then with a regiment of horse on the borders of Worcestershire, put himself in motion, and by forced marches took up his position in front of the{163} Royalists. This sudden apparition threw them into a panic; for, considering themselves in their newly-fortified position quite secure from all danger of surprise, Lord Herbert had gone to wait upon the King at Oxford; while his brother, Lord John, who commanded the horse, had set out with two or three troops on a reconnoitering party; so that no officer of skill or authority was left to direct or head the forces. All, therefore, was instant confusion in the camp; for, although their position was strong, well supplied with cannon, and certainly not to be stormed by any amount of cavalry that could be brought against them, yet they abandoned all thoughts of defence, and without striking a blow, surrendered to the first summons from Waller, on the simple grant of quarter.

This unexpected disaster was a death-blow to the army of Worcester; “the raising of which was considered such an effort on the part of the Marquess, that it could hardly have been accomplished by any other nobleman in the realm.” That “mushroom army grew up and perished so soon, that the loss of it was scarce apprehended at Oxford, because the strength, or rather the numerical force, was not understood. But had the money,” as Lord Clarendon observes, “that was laid out in raising and paying a body of men, who never in the least degree advanced the royal interest, been brought into the King’s receipt at Oxford, and employed to the most advantage, the war might have been ended the next summer; for I have heard the Lord Herbert say, that those preparations, and others which by that defeat were rendered useless, cost above three score thousand pounds; the greatest part of which”—an enormous sum in those times—“was advanced by his father, the Marquess of Worcester.”[245] We now proceed to notice the

Royal Visit to Raglan, which in its loyal devotion remained unshaken by these reverses; and the following anecdote gives us a favourable idea of the good humour, combined with courtly magnificence, with which Lord Worcester entertained the King on his first visit to the Castle. We relate the anecdote on the authority of the family Chaplain:—

“Sir Thomas Somerset, brother to the Marquess, had a house which they called Troy—the principal residence of the Duke of Beaufort—within five miles of Raglan Castle. Sir Thomas Somerset being a neate man, both within and without his house, as he was a complete gentleman of himself every way, delighted very much in fine gardens and orchards, and in replenishing and ordering them with all the varieties of choicest fruits that could be got, and in defending his new plantations from the coldness of the climate by the benefit of art. The earth, that was so much made of, proved so grateful to him, that,{164} at the same time that the King happened to be at his brother’s house at Raglan, it yielded him wherewithal to send his brother Worcester such a present, as at that time of the year and place, was able to make the King and all his lords believe that the Sovereign of the Planets, with all his prime electors, had new changed the Poles; and that Wales, the refuse and outcast of the fair garden of England, had fairer and riper fruit growing upon her stone rubbish, than England’s levels had in all her beds. This, presented to the Marquess, he could not suffer to be presented to the King by any other hands except his own. In comes the Marquess, at the latter end of supper, led by the arm, having such a goodly presence with him, that his being led became him, rather like some ceremony of state, than shew of impotence; and his slow pace, occasioned by his infirmity, expressed a Spanish gravity, rather than feebleness. Thus, with a silver dish in each hand filled with rarities, and a little basket upon his arm, as a supply, in case his Majesty should be over bountiful of his favours to the ladies that were standers by, he makes his third obeysance and thus speaks:—

May it please your Majesty, if the four elements could have been rob’d to have entertained your Majesty, I think I had done my duty; but I must do as I may. If I had sent to Bristol for some good things to entertain your Majesty, there had been no wonder at all. If I had procured from London some goodnesse that might have been acceptable to your Majesty, that had been no wonder indeed. But here I present your Majesty’—placing his dishes upon the table—‘with what neither came from Lincoln that was, nor London that is, nor York that is to be;[246] but I assure your Majesty that this present came from Troy.’ Whereupon the King smiled, and answered the Marquess—‘Truly, my lord, I have heard that corne[247] now growes where Troy town once stood; but I never thought there had grown any apricocks there before.’ Whereupon the Marquess replied—‘Anything to please your Majesty.’

“The fruit was very much admired by every one, and it was acknowledged by all that were in the presence at that time, that they never saw the King served in greater state in all their lives. There were some about the King who followed my Lord Marquess when he departed the presence, and told his lordship that he would make a very good courtier. ‘Aye,’ said the Marquess, ‘I remember I said one thing that may give you some hopes of me—Anything to please your Majesty.{165}

Of the Marquess’s farther proficiency in the art and mystery of a courtier, during the royal visit, we find this specimen:—

“The Marquess had a mind to tell the King, as handsomely as he could, of some of his, as he thought, faults; and thus he continues his plot: Against the time that his Majesty was wont to give his lordship a visit, as commonly he used to do after dinner, his lordship had the book of John Gower lying before him on the table. The King casting his eye upon the book, told the Marquess he had never seen it before. ‘Oh!’ said the Marquis, ‘it is the book of books, which if your Majesty had been well versed in, it would have made you a king of kings.’ ‘Why so, my Lord?’ said the King. ‘Why,’ said the Marquess, ‘here is set down how Aristotle brought up and instructed Alexander the Great in all the rudiments and principles belonging to a prince.’ And under the persons of Alexander and Aristotle, he read the King such a lesson, that all the standers by were amazed at his boldness; and the King supposing that he had gone farther than his text would have given him leave, asked the Marquess, ‘If he said his lesson by heart, or whether he spoke out of the book?’ The Marquess replied, ‘Sir, if you could read my heart, it may be you might find it there; or, if your Majesty please to get it by heart, I will lend you my book.’ Which latter proffer the King accepted of, and did borrow it. ‘Nay,’ said the Marquess, ‘I will lend it you upon these conditions: First, That you read it; secondly, That you make use of it.’ But perceiving how that some of the new-made lords fretted, and bit their thumbs at certain passages in the Marquess’s discourse, he thought a little to please his Majesty, though he pleased not them, the men who were so much displeased already protesting unto his Majesty, that no man was so much for the absolute power of a king as Aristotle. Desiring the book out of the King’s hand, he told the King that he would show him one remarkable passage to that purpose, turning to that place that had this verse:—

“A king can kill, a king can save,
A king can make a lord a knave,
And of a knave a lord also,” &c.

“Whereupon there were divers new-made lords who slunk out of the roome, which the King observing, told the Marquess—‘My lord, at this rate, you will drive away all my Nobility!’

“The Marquess replied—‘I protest unto your Majesty, I am as new a made lord as any of them all;[248] but I was never called knave and rogue so much in all my life, as I have been since I received this last honour, and why should not they bear their shares?{166}

But the Marquess, like many of the King’s party, seems to have wanted that undoubting confidence of success, which not unfrequently secures it. How different from the determined tone of a Cromwell is this:—“When the King first entered the gates of Raglan, the Marquess delivered his Majesty the keys, according to the ordinary custom; the King restoring of them to the Marquis, the Marquis said, ‘I beseech your Majesty to keep them, and you please, for they are in a good hand; but I am afraid that ere it be long, I shall be forced to deliver them into the hands of those who will spoil the compliment.’ And so it happened.

The plans taken by the King, while residing in Raglan Castle, to persuade the Marquess of Worcester to farther advances of money, afford a subject for a humiliating chapter in the royal history. The aged Marquess had three ruling principles—loyalty to the King, attachment to the Roman Catholic religion, and fondness for money. His loyalty had been already extensively drawn upon, and there remained now to be tried an attempt upon his proselytizing zeal. He had now to be flattered with the idea that he might possibly persuade the King to profess the tenets of his ancestors. Charles, indeed, had not made great progress in Protestant doctrines; and the Marquess, confident in his theological powers, imagined he would find an easy convert. Here is Dr. Bayly’s account of the matter:—

“Thus affected was that noble and, indeed, in his way, heavenly disposed, Henry, late Marquess of Worcester, to play the greatest prize that ever was played between any two that ever entered within those lists. Three diadems were to encounter with the tripple crowne, and the tripple crowne with three sceptres. Opportunity, that lucky gamester, that hardly loses a game in twenty, was on the Marquess’ side; time and place directed him how to take points in his own tables; the King at that time being in the Marquess’s own house at Raglan, and necessitated to borrow money to buy bread, after so great a loss in battle. The King being thus put to play the aftergame with the old Marquess, was a little mistrustful that he had not played the foregame with him so well, as that he had not thereby prejudiced the latter: for, though the Marquess and his son were the two ablest and most forward’st shoulderers up of the declining throne, especially the chip of the old block, whose disposition expressed itself most noble in not caring who had loved the King, so that he might be but permitted to love Alexander; whom he affected not only with the loyal respects of a subject towards his soveraigne, but also with such passionate ways of expressions and laboriousnesse in all good offices, as are wont to be predominant in those in whom simpathy is the only ground of their affections; yet there were not wanting some kind of men who made the averseness of this nobleman’s religion an occasion of improving their own{167} envies. Which, though it could never lose him the least ground in his master’s good opinion of him—who never would judge no more a saint by his face than a devil by his feet, but both according to their several ingagements—yet there were some things which happened, as having relation to this family, which were not altogether pleasing. However, though his Majesty came thither ushered by necessity, yet he came neither unwelcomed nor uninvited; and entertained as if he had been more than a king, by reason of some late atchievements, rather than otherwise: and though money came from him like drops of blood, yet he was contented that every drop within his body should be let out at his command, so that he might performe so meritorious a piece of worke as, he thought, the being an instrument of bringing the father of his country to be the son of his church, would be unto his soul’s health. The Marquess having these resolutions within himselfe, thought to give them breath at the same time that his Majesty should make his motion for a further supply of money, which he daily and hourly expected; but was deceived in his expectations; for the relation having already reach’d the King’s ear, how an accident had made me no less fortunate to his lordship, than in being the means of preserving his lordship’s person, and no inconsiderable fortune then in the same venture with him; and how that I preserved both the one and the other, in concealing both, for the space that the moon useth to be twice in riding of her circuit,[249] (the particulars hereof, here to insert, would tend rather to much arrogance than any purpose, wherefore I further forbear,) until such time as the trust which Providence had reposed in me was crowned by the same hand with such successe as brought the Marquess safe to his own house in peace; which I had no sooner brought to passe, but the Marquess drew from me a solemn engagement never to leave him so long as we both should live; which I was so careful for to observe, that I neither left him in life nor death, faire weather nor foule, until such time as he left me, and I laid him under the ground in Windsor Castle, in the sepulchre of his fathers.”

The author of the notice of the Marquess of Worcester in “Lodge’s Portraits,” says, that “the adventure here alluded to by Dr. Bayly is and must remain unknown.” It is, however, made sufficiently clear in the “First Apophthegm,” where Bayly tells us that he met the Marquess in the Welsh mountains, “flying a danger with a softer pace than it made after him.” Bayly, whose knowledge of the country must necessarily have been great, had it in his power to conceal the Marquess. This was their first meeting, and they ever after were inseparable. In nearly the words already used, Bayly in this passage also says, “From which time forward,{168} until the time that I laid him in his grave in Windsor Castle, I never parted from him.”

He continues—“And it was a strange thing, that during the time that I was thus a bond-servant to his lordship, which was for the space of twelve monethes thrice told, the difference in religion never wrought the least difference in his disposals of trusts of the highest nature upon me; but his speeches often shewed his heart, and his often lending me his ear, that they were both as much mine as any man’s. Of which, it seems, his Majesty being informed, I must be the beetle-head that must drive this wedge into the royall stock; and was also told, that no man could make a divorce between the Babilonish garment and the wedge of gold sooner than myself. To be brief—I was ingaged in the business; I could neither deny the employment, nor well tell how to go about it, I, not knowing the Marquess’ drift all this while, thought the Marquess had feared nothing more than what I myself was most afraid of, viz., that I should be made an instrument to let the same horse bleed, whom the King himself had found so free, that he was unwilling to give him the least touch with his spur. Howsoever, I went about it, and thus began to tell his lordship:—‘My Lord, the thing that I feared is now fallen upon me; I am made the unwelcome messenger of bad news—the King wants money!’ At which word the Marquess interrupted me, saying, ‘Hold, sir, that’s no news; go on with your business.’ ‘My Lord,’ said I, ‘there is one comfort yet, that as the King is brought low, so are his demands; and, like his army, are come down from thousands to hundreds: and from paying the souldiers of his army to buying bread for himself and his followers. My Lord, it is the King’s own expression, and his desire is but three hundred pound.’ Whereupon my Lord made a long pause before he gave me one word of answer. I knew by experience that in such cases it was best leaving him to himself, and to let that nature, which was so good, worke itselfe into an act of the highest charity—like the diamond, which is only pollished with its own dust. At last he called me nearer to him, and asked me, ‘If the King himself had spoken to me concerning any such business?’ To which I answered, ‘That the King himself had not; but others did in the King’s hearing.’ Whereupon he said, ‘Might I but speak unto him—but I was never thought worthy to be consulted with, though in matters meerly concerning the affaires of my own country—I would supply his wants, were they never so great, or whatsoever they were.’ Whereupon I told his lordship that, ‘If the King knew as much, he might quickly speak with him.’ Then said the Marquess, ‘The way to have him know so much is to have somebody to tell him of it.’ I asked his lordship, ‘If he would give me leave to be the informer.’ He told me, ‘He spake it to the same purpose.’ I hastened from him, with as much feare of{169} being called back again, as I did towards the King, with a longing desire of giving his Majesty so good an account of my so much doubted embassie.

“Half going and half running through the gallerie, I was stopt in my way by one Lieutenant-Collonel Lyllard, who told me, that if ever I had a mind to do my Lord Marquess and the garrison any good, now was the time: for even now one of the King’s ships had run herself on ground under the town of Chepstow. Calling unto me the captain of her (one Captain Hill), who related unto me that upon the surrender of Bristol he was forced to fly into the sanctuary of the King’s quarters, having formerly revolted from the Parliament, or rather returned to her due obedience. Telling me, moreover, that she was fraught with store of goods and rich commodities, as sugar, tobacco, linnen of all sorts, &c., and that the law in such a case appropriated the King to such a part of her lading; which I better understood then than I can relate unto you now; and that she had many fair brass and iron guns in her, with proportionable ammunition, usefull for the garrison; and that, for a word of speaking, I might have all this of the King for the use of the garrison. I (considering that it would be nevertheless the King’s for being converted to such an use, as also the business I was about) made no doubt but that I could easily beg all this for the Marquess, in consideration of the great charges his lordship had been at in entertaining his Majesty so long. Neither was I deceived, for the King granted it willingly.

“But as to the matter in hand, I told his Majesty apart, that I had moved his lordship in matter of money; but found him a little discouraged, in regard that his Majestie having been twice at Raglan a moneth at a time, and that at neither of those times he ever vouchsafed his lordship so much honour as once to call him to councel, though it was in his own house, and must needs be acknowledged to be one who knew the countrey, and the constitution of the inhabitants, better than any other man that was about his Majestie had reason to understand. Wherefore I told the King, I thought his lordship leant my motion a deffer ear than he would have done, if his lordship had not been thought so uselesse a creature; and that I perceived his lordship had a desire to have some conference with his Majestie; which being obtained, I believed his Majestie’s request would be easilie granted, and his expectations answered in a higher measure than it may be his Majestie did believe. The King said, ‘With all my hart: and as to the other business which so much troubles my lord, in troth I have thought it a neglect in us heretofore; but the true reason why I did forbear to do so was, because I thought my Lord of Worcester did not desire it, by reason of his retiredness, unwieldiness of body, and unwillingness of mind to stir abroad; and therefore I thought it a contentment to him to be let alone.’ I told his Majestie, that I did verilie believe that his Majestie{170} was in the rights in both respects, both of his Majestie’s and his lordship’s; and that if his Majestie had called him to councel, I do verilie believe his lordship would have been desired to be excused; but yet he did expect he should have been called. Whereupon the King said, ‘I pray tell my Lord of Worcester, that I did not forbear that respect unto him out of any disestimation I had either of his wisedome or loyaltie; but out of some reasons I had to myself, which indeed reflected as much upon my lord as they did on me. For had he used to have come to the councel board, it would have been said that I took no other councel but what was conveighed to me by Jesuites, by his lordship’s meanes: and I pray tell him that that was the true cause.’ I told his Majestie that I would, and that I thought it an easie matter to cause him to believe no less; but withal I intimated to his Majestie that I knew the Marquess had an earnest desire to have some private conference with his Majestie this night; which, if granted, it might conduce very much to his Majestie’s behoof. The King said, ‘How can that be?’ I told his Majestie that my lord had contrived it before his coming to the castle, and told his Majestie of the privacie of the conveighance. Thereat his Majestie smiled and said, ‘I know my lord’s drift well enough: either he means to chide me, or else to convert me to his religion.’ Whereupon I told his Majestie, I doubted not but that his Majestie was temptation-proof as well as he was correction-free; and that he might returne the same man he went, having made a profitable exchange of gold and silver for words and sleep.”[250]

It seems to have been thought necessary to make a great state secret of this conference; and, in order that the company might not observe any communication going on between the King and the Marquess, who, doubtless, knew his guests, he hastily made answer—“I will tell you what you shall do, so that you shall not need to fear any such thing. Go unto the yeoman of the wine cellar, and bid him leave the keys of the wine cellar with you, and all that you find in your way, invite them down unto the cellar, and shew them the keys, and I warrant you, you shall sweep the room of them if there were a hundred; and when you have done leave them there.”[251] This ruse appears to have been so{171} successful, that after Bayly published his book, some of those who had been in Raglan denied that ever there had been private conversations between the King and the Marquess. But Bayly’s good faith seems to have been unjustly suspected; and he replies to the objectors with humour and severity in his Preface to the “Apophthegms.”

The Marquis having “lain down, the Chaplain found him asleep when he went to let him know the time to meet the King was come. He expressed much annoyance and fear on account of what had been arranged; but after taking a pipe of tobacco and a little glassful of aqua mirabilis, he recovered his spirits.”

Shortly after the King’s departure from Raglan, an adventure occurred which placed the venerable Marquess in a novel and rather ludicrous position. It was this:—

“There was a certain great man in the King’s army,[252] between whom and the house of Raglan,” says Bayly, “there was at that time animosity. The Marquess of Worcester had heard that this party should cast a dubious saying, as the case then stood, viz., ‘That he intended to take Raglan in his way;’ and was so far as good as his word, as that he marched into the parke, and there drew up his men, and fac’d the Castle. Whereupon the line was manned, and command was given that none should be suffered to come near the line, nor within such a distance; which command was so observed, that some of the officers of the army approaching within the place prohibited, the centry bid stand. They did not. The centry called upon them again to stand. They refused. The Lieutenant called upon the centry to give fire. The centry, preferring the knowledge of his friends to his duty to his officer, did not give fire; but swore he would give fire if they did not stand. Whereupon one of them told him that it was such a Generall, and wonder’d that the officer would bid the souldier give fire upon him. The Generall forthwith coming to the drawbridge, desired to speak with the Lord Charles; whom he no sooner saluted, but required satisfaction for the affront. He was desired to come into the Castle, and told that the matter should be examined before him, and if any affront were given, he should receive satisfaction. Whereupon, being come within the Castle, the Lieutenant was sent for; who told the Generall, that though he knew him to be the Generall, yet, as a souldier, he was not to take any notice of him, until such times as he had declared himself, which when he did, he respected him accordingly. Furthermore telling him, that he had been{172} an old souldier, and that he had in other parts seen rewards given unto souldiers who stood centry, for firing upon their generall, having the like occasions; but never knew it a fault before. All this would not serve turn. The Generall said he was affronted, and must have satisfaction, requiring my lord to call a councell of warre, and to do him justice; and so took his leave and went his way. The Marquess of Worcester, sleeping upon his bed all this while, and not dreaming of any of all this that had happened in the interim, hearing the whole relation, he asked all his officers, ‘Whether or no the Lieutenant had offended?’ They all answered, ‘No;’ and commended him for what he had done. Then said the Marquess, ‘This is but a pretence—they have a mind to quarrel with us. If ye should call a councell of warre, and acquit him, that is what they desire, and thence they would ground their quarrel; and if ye should inflict any punishment upon him to give them satisfaction, that were basenesse and injustice; therefore I will have it thus: Send a guard with him to the Generall of such souldiers as are able to witness the truth; and let him try him at his councell of warre, and see what law he hath for it, and so we shall break the neck of the quarrell.’

And so,’ said the Lieutenant, ‘I shall hang by the neck for my labour!’ Whereat the Marquis replyed, ‘What friends hast thou in the garrison?’ The Lieutenant made answer, ‘I have a wife and a daughter.’ Then said the Marquis with some vehemence, ‘I protest unto thee, if they hang thee, I’ll marry thy wife and provide for thy daughter.’ The Lieutenant replied, ‘I had rather you would marry my daughter, and provide for me.’ ‘I protest,’ said the Marquess, ‘so I will; I will marry thy daughter, and I will provide for thee an honourable grave; but thou shalt be hanged first.’ ‘My Lord,’ said the Lieutenant, ‘shall I bespeak my grave?’ ‘Thou shalt,’ said the Marquess. ‘Then,’ said the Lieutenant, ‘I will be laid in the vault in Raglan Church between your father and your grandfather; and I pray God I may be hanged before I see you again.’ And so saying he flung out of the roome, leaving my Lord in the merriest veine that ever I saw him in; who, remembering himself, sent him five pieces to beare his charges.

“The Lieutenant being brought to the Generall at Monmouth, the Generall dismissed him of his guard, and sent him to Hereford with an oath at his heeles, that he would hang him if there were no more men in England.

“Then the Lieutenant cried out, ‘This makes for us, sure enough. I do but think how finely I shall lie between the two old earles.’... The particulars hereof being brought to the Marquess, his lordship was not a little perplext between feare of having his new mistresse and loosing his old friend; which he had run himself into between jest and earnest. The time was come that the Marquess was not so much merrier than we heretofore; but we were{173} as much merrie as he upon the return of this news. But the greatest sport of all was concerning the hopefull Lady Marchioness, who was ever and anon enquiring and asking many questions concerning the Marquess, whom she never saw. What manner of man he was? How old? Whether he went with a staff, or no? What was the reason he kept his chamber so much, and did not come abroad sometimes? What ailments he had? And how long it was since his lady died? With many other necessary questions to be asked by a young woman in her condition.

“Sport enough there was for both the garrisons of Raglan and Hereford. Nevertheless, it stood the Marquess upon to be sollicitous in the business, being sore prest between two strong passions, love and pitty. Me he sends to solicit the businesse, with instructions; whose telling me never so often, ‘that it was no laughing matter,’ could not make me forbear laughing.

“But having taken my leave, his Lordship called me back again, and with a loud and angry voice said to me, ‘Tell the Generall, that if he hang my Lieutenant, I’ll hang the centry for not giving fire upon him when he was bid.’ Whereupon I said unto his Lordship, ‘What doth he care how many you hang?’ ‘God bless us all,’ said the Marquess; ‘if he neither cares who he hangs of the King’s party, nor who other folkes hang; for aught I know he cares not an’ we were all hanged.’

“So taking my second leave of the Marquess, and then my humble leave of the Lady Elizabeth, who fearing nothing more but that I would prove too good a sollicitor for her good, I went to Hereford, and made some sport there; and so brought home the Lieutenant to his wife and daughter, who ever after was called ‘My Lady Marquess.’

We now proceed to that part of our subject, in which the desperate fortunes of the Monarch are connected with his last visit to Raglan.

After the battle of Naseby, nothing prospered with the King. His army, it was suspected, had not displayed on that day their former valour. Though not disaffected, they were dispirited; the mass of the infantry threw down their arms and cried for quarter; and with Cromwell’s horse thundering in his rear, the King escaped to Leicester, and thence through Bewdley, in Worcestershire, to Hereford. Only five days before this ruinous defeat he had written in a letter to the Queen, that since the rebellion began, “his affairs were never in so fair and hopeful a way.” On the sixth he was a fugitive. But he had still hopes—strange as it must appear—of getting together an army in South Wales.[253] At Hereford, Prince Rupert took leave of the King, and hastened to{174} Bristol, that he might put it into a condition to resist the victorious army that was speedily to make its appearance before it; and thence, says Lord Clarendon, “his Majesty went to Abergavenny to meet the Commissioners. As they were for the most part persons of the best quality and the largest fortunes of these counties, so they had manifested great loyalty and affection from the beginning of the war, by sending many good regiments to the army; and with their sons and brothers and nearest kindred—many of whom had lost their lives bravely in the field. They now made as large professions as ever, and seemed to believe that they should be able in a very short time to raise a good army of foot, with which the King might again look upon the enemy, and accordingly agreed what numbers should be levied upon each of the counties.” From hence, says the historian, “his Majesty went for the last time to Raglan Castle, the noble house of the Marquess of Worcester, which was well fortified and garrisoned by him who remained then in it.” There the King “resolved to stay till he saw the effect of the Commissioners’ mighty promises. But in a short time he found that, either by the continued successes of the Parliament armies, the particular information whereof was every day brought to them by intelligence from their friends, or the triumphs of their enemies in Monmouth or Gloucester, there was little probability of their raising an army in those parts, where all men grew less affected, or more frighted: which produced one and the same effect.”

In his progress—for it was more like a “progress” than a retreat—through Monmouthshire to Raglan, the King was greeted with every expression of loyal sympathy by his Welsh subjects. In the “Iter Carolinum,” printed amongst the “Somers’ Tracts,” it is recorded, “that King Charles slept at Tredegar, the seat of Sir William Morgan, in this county, on the seventeenth of July, 1645; and that he arrived at Sir Philip Morgan’s,[254] Ruperra, in Glamorganshire, on the twenty-fifth, and there remained till the twenty-ninth of the same month.” This must have been immediately before his return to Raglan Castle, in August. Entering upon a melancholy progress from house to house, among the staunch royalists of South Wales, he had thus sought{175} relief from the gloomy reflections by which his mind was oppressed after the total defeat at Naseby.

At Raglan, however, says the historian, “the King, as on his former visit, passed days and weeks in sports and ceremonies, in hunting and audience-giving;” for every effort was employed by those around him to obliterate all recollections of the past by promises and predictions of a brilliant future. When his Majesty re-entered the gates of Raglan—which was indeed a harbour of refuge in his distress—the loyal Marquess, kneeling down, kissed his Liege’s hand; and then rising up saluted him with this compliment—“Domine! non sum dignus.” To which the King replied—“My Lord, I may very well answer you again: I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel. No man would trust me with so much money as you have done.” To which the Marquess replied—“I hope your Majesty will prove a defender of the Faith.”

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By this time Lord Herbert (Earl of Glamorgan) had sailed for Ireland to raise, if possible, new forces for the King’s service, and the renewal of the war. Pleased with his zeal and loyalty, his Majesty had thus written to him from Hereford:—

“Glamorgan—I am glad to hear that you are gone to Irland, and asseure you that as myselfe is nowais disheartned by our late misfortune, so nether this country; for I could not have expected more from them then they have now freely undertaken, though I had come hither absolute victorious; which makes me hope well of the neighbouring sheers; so that, by the grace of God, I hope shortly to recover my late losse, with advantage, if such succours come to me from that Kingdome which I have reason to expect; but the circumstance of tyme is that of the greatest consequence, being that wᶜ now is cheefliest and earnestliest recomended to you by your most asseured, reall, constant frend,

Charles R.[255]

Among the numerous and more humble examples of loyal affection, by which the fallen Monarch was soothed during his retirement in Raglan Castle, the following is well deserving of notice:—The reverend individual, whom his{176} own act has immortalized, was Thomas Swift,[256] incumbent of the neighbouring parish of Goodrich. Fully aware of the King’s pecuniary distress, he mortgaged his estate; and with the money thus raised he proceeded to Raglan Castle. The Governor, with whom he was personally acquainted, asked the object of his visit, and whether he could serve him; for he was equally esteemed as a zealous pastor, and a staunch royalist. “I am only come,” said he, “to give his Majesty my coat;” and, in taking it off, the Marquess pleasantly observed: “Thy coat, I fear me, is of little worth.” “Why then,” said Swift, “take my waistcoat also.” And here was the hidden treasure, for, on being ripped up, it was found to contain three hundred broad gold pieces. “And the King,” says Lord Clarendon, “received no relief that was more seasonable and acceptable than this during the war.” Mr. Swift’s zeal and activity in the royal cause exposed him to much danger and many sufferings. “He was plundered,” says Heath, “more than thirty times by the Parliament’s army, and ejected from his church living. His estate was sequestered, and he himself thrown into prison.”

At Raglan the King “stayed until news came that Fairfax, after taking Leicester, had marched into the west, and defeated Goring’s troops at Lamport; at the same time that the Scottish army, on its march, had taken a small garrison between Hereford and Worcester by storm, and put all within it to the sword;” while Prince Rupert sent for all those foot, which were levied towards a new army to supply the garrison. But the expectations, which had been industriously fostered in the King’s mind of a more propitious fortune, became every day more faint. Of all the schemes that had been set afoot for retrieving his past errors, and regaining the hearts of his alienated subjects, not one was permitted to prosper. And as a fatal climax to his unhappy fortunes, “it was at Raglan Castle,” says Lord Clarendon, “that the King received the terrible information of the surrender of Bristol (September 11, 1645), which he so little apprehended, that if the evidence thereof had not been unquestionable, it could not have been believed. With what indignation and dejection of mind the King received this advertisement, needs no other description and enlargement than the setting down in the very words of it the letter which the King writ thereupon to Prince Rupert; which, considering the unspeakable indulgence his Majesty had ever shewed towards that Prince, is sufficient evidence how highly he was incensed by that act, which yet he took some time sadly to think of and consider, before he would allow himself to abate so much of his natural candour towards him. As soon as he received that surprising intelligence, the King removed from Raglan Castle.”

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The Gateway Towers.

Raglan Castle.


The King took leave of Raglan Castle on the 15th of September, mournfully observing to the Marquess, that by so doing he hoped “to ease his lordship of a heavy burden.” His Majesty then thanked his noble and devoted host for the large sums of money which had been advanced to him in the course of his troubles. Whereupon the Marquess replied: “Sire, I had your word for the money; but I never thought to have been so soon repaid; for now that you have given me thanks, I have all I looked for.”[257] Well might the royal guest have expressed his feelings on quitting Raglan in the following lines, taken from his own ‘Collection:’—

I fall! I fall!
Whom shall I call?
Alas! can he be heard,
Who now is neither loved nor feared?
You, who were wont to kisse the ground,
Where’er my honour’d steps were found,
Come, catch me at my last rebound!
How each admires
Heaven’s twinkling fires,
When from their glorious seat
Their influence gives life and heat!
But, oh! how few there are—
Tho’ danger from that act be far—
Will stoop and catch a falling star.[258]

“Distracted with a thousand griefs, and accompanied by a few trusty and disconsolate servants, the royal victim wandered about the country, thankful to accept protection from any one who had fortune or inclination to minister to his distress. And many ‘cruel days’ to use his own words, were spent in weary marchings without food, narrow escapes, and precipitate retreats, before he took his last farewell of the land of Gwent.”[259]

On one occasion he was hotly pursued in his retreat through Shire Newton, by a party of sixty Roundheads; but reaching a place called Charleston Rock, near the New Passage, a fishing-boat was found, in which he was safely ferried over the Severn into Gloucestershire. His pursuers coming up in the mean{178}while, but only to find their object defeated, seized upon the remaining boats, and with drawn swords compelled the fishermen to ferry them across. They hurried into the boats, and, with the royal fugitive still in view, made all haste to be once more on his traces. The poor fishermen, however, being royalists at heart, had no sympathy with these king-hunters; but rowing lustily towards a reef of rocks called the “English Stones,” within a gunshot of the Gloucester shore, there hauled in their oars; and landing their freight on the rocks, told them the water was so shallow that the boats could go no further, and they might easily wade to the opposite bank. And such, in fact, was quite practicable at low water; but, in the present instance, the tide flowed so rapidly, that in making the attempt to reach the opposite bank the whole party were drowned.

Informed of the catastrophe, Cromwell abolished the ferry, which was not renewed until 1718, after a protracted lawsuit between the proprietor of St. Pierre and the Duke of Beaufort’s guardians,[260] when it was named the “New Passage.”

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The Siege.—Early the following spring a resolution was passed that the Castle of Raglan, which had so often thrown open its gates to the King, and still supported a garrison in his service, should be reduced without loss of time. It was the last fortress that held out, and until its walls were dismantled, and the garrison made prisoners, the spirit of loyalty in Monmouth would never be thoroughly subdued. The Castle was accordingly invested by Major-General Glenham and Sir Trevor Williams;[261] but the latter, it has been asserted, was not very hearty in his opposition to the King; for he had many misgivings respecting the ultimate designs of Cromwell, who also, as it appears from existing documents,[262] was equally suspicious of Sir Trevor. The first summons to surrender the Castle to Parliament was received by the garrison with indignation and defiance.

Early in June they were joined by Colonel Morgan, who, with a strong body of men[263] from Worcester, took the command. The troops of the garrison{179} made divers gallant sallies, and in one of these killed a cornet of Morgan’s, and carried off the colours. But after the surrender of Oxford to the Parliament, Colonel Morgan had a reinforcement of two hundred men, and being now in a position, both as regarded the works and the efficiency of the troops, to act with vigour, he sent the following summons:—

I.—Colonel Morgan to the Marquess of Worcester.

My Lord,—By his Excellency’s command, this is my second summons, whereby you are required forthwith to deliver to me, for the uses of both Houses of Parliament, the Castle of Raglan, with all ordnance, arms, ammunition, and provisions, and all other necessaries that belong to war, that are now in it; which if you will be pleased to do, you may haply find mercy, as other garrisons have had; and if you do refuse, expect but the ruin of yourself, your family, and this poor distressed country. For I must acquaint your lordship that his Excellency Sir Tho. Fairfax, having now finished his work over the kingdom except this Castle, hath been pleased to spare his forces for this work, which are now upon their march this way with all materials fit for it; though I made no doubt but I had of mine own strength sufficient to effect it. If your lordship will deny to submit to this summons, and that more blood must be spilt, your lordship may be confident that you shall receive no favour from both Houses of Parliament. So, expecting your answer this night by nine of the clock, I rest your lordship’s servant,

Tho. Morgan.

From the Leaguer before Raglan,
“June 28, 1646.

“Upon the faith and honour of a soldier, this is a true copy of his Majesty’s letter[264] to the Governors of Oxford, Lichfield, Wallingford, and Worcester, and all other garrisons in England and Wales; which I thought fit to present to your lordship, that you may clearly see what possibility of relief you are like to have.”

II.—The Marquess of Worcester to Colonel Morgan.

Sir,—I have received this day two advertisements from you; the first I{180} read, containing, as you would have me believe, a true copy of his Majesty’s warrant to several garrisons upon honourable terms to quit. But truly, Sir, it is not in the power of man to make me think so unworthily of his Majesty, that to one, in the opinion of the world, that hath given, himself and family, soe great a demonstrance and testimony of his and their faith and fidelitie towards him, that he would not please so much as name his name, or Raglan. I entreat you, give me leave to suspend my belief.[265]

“And for your second summons, it makes it too evident that it is desired that I would die under a hedge like a beggar, having no house left to put my head into, nor means left to find me bread. Wherefore to give you answer, I make choice (if it soe please God) rather to dye nobly, than to live with infamy. Which answer, if it be not pleasing to you, I shall not think you worthy to be styled by me your loving friend,

H. Worcester.

From my House of Raglan,
“June 28, 1646.”

This was followed by a third letter from Colonel Morgan:—

My Lord,—Since it is not in my power to make you nor your son believe anything concerning the surrender of those garrisons, by his Majesty’s order, that comes from me or any of our party: once more, and the last before I send your answer to his Excellency Sir Tho. Fairfax, I shall give your lordship way to send an officer, with another of mine, to those lords in Oxford to whom his Majesty’s letters were directed, for your better satisfaction. This I do, my Lord, to prevent your utter ruin, and that of this poor country, so much occasioned by your lordship’s obstinacy. I expect your present answer, and rest your servant,

Tho. Morgan.

“June 28th.”

IV.—The Marquess of Worcester to Colonel Morgan.

Sir,—In respect of your mentioning of any respect or kindness towards me, lest to be divulged to the world should do you any prejudice, I have thought fit in your own letter to return you thanks for the same. And for Sir{181} Tho. Fairfax, if he were here with all his army, he should receive no other from me than what you have had. I hope I serve (though not so well as I should) a Master that is of more might than all the armies in the world; and to his holy will and pleasure I submit myself, and yourself to do what you think fitting.—Your friend and servant,

H. Worcester.

From my Dwelling at Raglan,
“June 28.”

In the first week of August ensuing, General Fairfax arrived from Bath to hasten the siege—which was in great forwardness both for works and approaches—and then sent in another summons[266] to the Marquess:—

V.—Sir Thomas Fairfax to the Marquess of Worcester.

My Lord,—Being come into these parts with such a strength as I may not doubt but, with the same good hand of Providence that hath hitherto blessed us, in short time to reduce the garrison of Raglan to the obedience of the Parliament, I have, in order thereto, thought good to send your lordship this summons, hereby requiring you to deliver up to me, for the Parliament’s use, the said garrison and Castle of Raglan; which, as it only obstructs the kingdom’s universal peace, the rendition may beget such terms, as by delay or vain hopes cannot hereafter be expected.—I remain, my Lord, your lordship’s most humble servant,

Tho. Fairfax.

Leaguer before Raglan,
“August 7, 1646.

“Your lordship’s speedy answer to this summons is desired.”

VI.—The Marquess of Worcester to Sir Thomas Fairfax.

Sir,—Although my infirmities might justly claim privilege in so sudden an answer; yet, because you desire it, and I am not willing to delay your time, to your letter of summons to deliver up my house, and the only house now in my possession to cover my head in, these are to let you know, that if you did understand the condition I am in, I daresay out of your judgment you will not think it a reasonable demand. I am loth to be the author of mine own ruin on both sides; and therefore desire leave to send to his Majesty to know his plea{182}sure what he will have done with his garrison. As for my house, I presume he will command nothing; neither am I knowing how, either by law or conscience, I should be forced out of it. To these I desire your return, and rest your Excellency’s humble servant,

H. Worcester.

From my poor Cottage at Raglan,
“Aug. 7, 1646.”

VII.—Sir Thomas Fairfax to the Marquess of Worcester.

My Lord,—Touching your sending to his Majesty, it is that which hath been denied to the most considerable garrisons of England, further than an account to his Majesty of the thing done upon the surrender; which I do else freely grant to your lordship. And for that distinction which your lordship is pleased to make, that it is your house, if it had not been formed into a garrison, I should not have troubled your lordship with a summons; and were it disgarrisoned, neither you nor your house should receive any disquiet from me, or any that belong unto me.

“This I thought good to return to yours, and thereby to discharge myself, before God and the world, of all extremities and sad consequences that will ensue upon the refusal of the rendition of your garrison upon my summons.—I remain yours,

Tho. Fairfax.

“August 8.”

VIII.—The Marquess of Worcester to Sir Thomas Fairfax.

Sir,—I do much confide in your honour, as that being at stake, concerning leave to send to his Majesty, and will at this time forbear to make further motion in it; only one thing which is extraordinary, I offer to your consideration, for the just cause, besides my allegiance, of my reasonable request; which is, That upon his Majesty’s promise of satisfaction, I am above 20,000 pounds out of purse; and if I should do anything displeasing unto him, I am sure all that is lost, and no benefit to the Parliament. If you knew how well known I was, in Henry Earl of Huntington’s time, unto your noble grandfather at York, I am assured I should receive that favour at your hands that safely you might afford. God knows, if I might quietly receive my means of subsistence, and be in security, with the Parliament’s approbation, and freed from the malice of those gentlemen that are of the Committee within this county, I should quietly quit myself of the garrison; for I have no great cause to take delight in it. I have that high esteem of your worth, nobleness, and true judgement, that knowing you will offer nothing ignoble or unworthy for me to do, as the case stands with me, I desire to know what conditions I may have,{183} and I will return you present answer. And, in the meantime, I rest your humble servant,

H. Worcester.

“August 8, 1646.”

IX.—Sir Thomas Fairfax to the Marquess of Worcester.

My Lord,—According to your lordship’s desire, I have returned you conditions, such as may be fit and satisfactory to the soldiery. To your lordship and family I have granted quiet and security from all violence of any that belongs to me. I would persuade your lordship not to fear any ill or disrespect from the Committee of this county; I shall easily reconcile that party; or that they will not do anything but as they shall receive order from the Parliament. By this means you are at liberty to send to the Parliament; and upon a present surrender and submission to their mercy and favour, your lordship cannot but think to receive better terms for yourself than if you stand it out to the last extremity; when, besides the hazard of your person, and of those in your family, (which I do presume are dear to you,) and the spoil of the Castle, which cannot be avoided in extreme undertakings against it; your lordship hath no reason to expect better than the Marquess of Winchester received, who, in making good Basing House to the last, narrowly escaped in his own person, lost his friends, subjected those that escaped to great frights and hazard, his house and estate to utter ruin, and himself to extremity of justice.

“Touching your lordship’s 20,000 pounds, your lordship hath liberty to solicit about that by the same hands your lordship shall give an account of the surrender to his Majesty. I desire your lordship upon receipt of these to dismiss my trumpeter, and to return an answer by one of your own.

Tho. Fairfax.

X.—The Marquess of Worcester to Sir Thomas Fairfax.

Sir,—The difficulty of resolution by the soldiers and officers (other than I thought) causeth my request for your patience in not giving you full answer to the conditions you sent me yesterday; but as soon as I shall obtain it, you shall not be long without it. But one thing, and that of moment, I desire to be satisfied in, Whether, if any conclusion should be made, that afterwards I shall be left to the mercy of the Parliament, for alteration at their will and pleasures; and if it be so, I shall endeavour in vain to study more about it. For example, in my Lord of Shrewsbury’s case, and divers others, how conditions have been broken doth a little affright me. I know, by your will and consent, it should never be; but soldiers are unruly, and the Parliament unques{184}tionable; and, therefore, I beseech you pardon my just cause of fear, and I will rest your humble servant,

H. Worcester.

“August 11.”

XI.—Sir Thomas Fairfax to the Marquess of Worcester.

My Lord,—I have perused your letter of this 11th of August. As to your scruple, wherein you desire to be satisfied, (so far as I understand it,) I can only give you this resolution, that what I grant I will undertake shall be made good. As to the instance you give in my Lord of Shrewsbury’s case, the actors in that breach (who were none of my army) have received their censure, and by this time I believe the execution. But here, if any conclusion be made while I stay, I dare undertake there shall be no such thing; or, if any, there shall be reparation.

Tho. Fairfax.

“August 11, 1646.”

XII.—The Marquess of Worcester to Sir Thomas Fairfax.

Sir,—For the better accommodation of these unhappy differences, if you please there may be a cessation of arms and working, and to engage your honour for the return of my commissioners to-morrow by ten of the clock, they shall wait upon you in your Leaguer; where they shall vindicate me from being the only obstruction of the general peace. So, in expectation of your sudden answer, I rest your humble servant,

H. Worcester.

“August 13, 1646.”

XIII.—Sir Thomas Fairfax to the Marquess of Worcester.

My Lord,—Having not yet received by any of your letters a direct answer to the conditions I sent you, I have no grounds or consideration for such a cessation of arms and working, as in your letter you desire; but if it be your purpose to return your answer by commissioners, I shall, by the hour you mention, appoint commissioners of mine own to receive the same in the Leaguer as you desire, and engage myself for the safe return of yours, not exceeding six commissioners and as many servants; and, in order to this, I shall be content there be a cessation of arms and working from nine of the clock to-morrow morning till two in the afternoon.—Yours,

Tho. Fairfax.

“Uske, August 14.”


XIV.—The Marquess of Worcester to Sir Thomas Fairfax.

Sir,—Had I not thought you had been in the Leaguer, to the end that the propositions from the place, in answer to yours, might have been first presented unto you; and to avoid delays, which I thought your side would best like of, it was resolved to send commissioners together with our propositions; but considering it was otherwise, I have sent you such as I am advised unto, to take into your consideration. And because there is some addition to yours, I would have been glad you had heard the just reasons thereof, to the end you might not have been persuaded to slight them without just cause. Your pleasure for the ordering of business, I, at your leisure, expect; and, if you please, the dismission of this messenger; and so rest your humble servant,

H. Worcester.”

XV.—Sir Thomas Fairfax to the Marquess of Worcester.

My Lord,—I have perused the propositions sent out by your commissioners, which I find such as deserve no answer. I have offered your lordship and the rest conditions which you may yet have, if you accept in time. If there be any thing in them obscure, needing explanation, or wanting circumstantials, for the better performing of the things intended therein I shall be willing to appoint commissioners on my part to treat with yours to that purpose upon these propositions of mine; provided you send commissioners instructed with power to treat and conclude, and return your resolution herein by six of the clock in the evening.—Yours, &c.,

Tho. Fairfax.

“August 14, 1646.”

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In the meantime the besiegers went on with their approaches toward the Castle—their main works being not above some sixty yards distant—and had planted four mortar pieces in one place, and two mortar pieces at another, each mortar piece carrying a grenade shell twelve inches diameter.

Towards the end of the siege, whilst the cannon of Fairfax was playing upon the Castle from the neighbouring height, and when casualties within the walls were of hourly occurrence, an incident occurred, which shows that in these perilous times even ladies deemed it necessary to apologise for being afraid of leaden bullets. “One evening, during the hottest period of the cannonade,” says Dr. Bayly, “there came a musket bullet in at the window of the withdrawing room,{186} where my lord used to entertain his friends with his pleasant discourses after dinners and suppers, which, glancing upon a little marble pillar of the window, and from thence hit the Marquess upon the side of his head, and fell down flattened upon the table, which breaking the pillar in pieces, it made such a noise in the room, that his daughter-in-law, the Countess of Glamorgan, who stood in the same window, ran away as if the house had been falling down upon her head, crying out—‘O Lord! O Lord!’ But at length finding herself more afraid than hurt, she returned back again, no less excusing her—as she was pleased to call it—rudeness to her father, than acknowledging her fears to all the company. To whom the Marquess said: ‘Daughter, you had reason to run away when your father was knocked on the head.’ Then pausing some little while, and turning the flattened bullet round with his finger, he further said: ‘Gentlemen, those who had a mind to flatter me, were wont to tell me that I had a good head in my younger days; but if I don’t flatter myself, I think I have a good head-piece in my old age, or else it would not have been musket proof.’

Of the exemplary good order observed by the household, before the establishment of a garrison within the Castle, an eye-witness has transmitted the following testimony:—

“I have lived in Raglan Castle,” said he, “three years, and in all that time I never saw man drunk, nor heard an oath, amongst any of all his (the Marquess’s) servants; neither did I ever see a better ordered family; and that which was most wonderful unto me was, that the servants of his house, being half Papists and half Protestants, were never at variance in point of religion—which was brought about by prohibiting disputations.[267] Neither was any man the less accepted for his religion, if his service were acceptable. But when the Castle was filled with officers and soldiers, he used to be more grieved to hear and witness the drunkenness that was then and there too much practised: insomuch, that when some of his chief officers had told him, how that they had fortified such and such a place so and so; and that the enemy could not come; and that there it was impossible. ‘Ay, ay,’ said my Lord; ‘but you have left the main place open and unprotected. You have no fortifications against Heaven. For there is so much swearing and drunkenness amongst you, that from thence I fear me will come our greatest enemy, and you have made no provision against him.’ And, indeed, he said justly; for, in truth, the royalists were grievously addicted to many vices, to which, on the contrary, the companions and followers of Cromwell were comparatively strangers.{187}

The importance attached by the Parliament to the reduction of Raglan Castle is shown by the following report from their commissioner:[268]

“Your assured friend and servant, W. C.,” (as the letter is signed,) writes to the Parliament man from “Usk, August 15, 1646.—I shall now give you an account how near our approaches are made unto the Castle. That which is our maine work is about sixty yardes from theirs, and that’s the most. We have planted four mortar pieces, each of them carrying a grenado shel twelve inches diameter; and two mortar peeces planted at another place carrying shels about the like compas; soe that in case the treatye doe breake off, we are then ready to show by what extremitye they must expect to be reduced. This we are very confident, that the grenadoes will make them quit their workes and outhouses, and solely betake themselves into the Castle, which indeed will be a worke of time before we are able to undermine it, in regard we must mine down a hill[269] under a moate, and then the workes, before we can come to the Castle; yet we conceive it feasible to be done with some losse. Our engineer, Captain Hooper, a painful and honest man, proceeding, as he hath begun, with exact running trenches, which we made so secure as if they were workes against a storme, will, with God’s blessing, come within ten yards in a few dayes; and then, I believe, we shall make galleries, mines, and many batteries. The General is every day in the trenches, and yesterdaye appointed a new approache, which the engineer of this army, who is now returned from Worcester, is to carry on with all expedition. He has already broken the ground, throwne up approaches of about an hundred yardes in length and circuit, and is within sixty yards of the under part of their workes.”

The writer then proposes that the Parliament should agree to moderate terms, and accept of an honourable answer. That the plan might succeed he deems quite certain, though not without farther loss; and he adds, in terms less courteous than characteristic of the times, that “it would not be worth while to gaine this old man’s carkasse at so dear a rate.”[270]

Aug. 14.—Fairfax appointed a new approach, which the engineer, Captain{188} Hooper, had so far proceeded in as to throw up approaches of an hundred yards in circuit, making exact running trenches (as secure as if they were works against a storm), coming within sixty yards of their works.

Aug. 15.—The Marquess sent forth his desire to treat upon the General’s propositions; whereupon the treaty was appointed at Mr. Oates’s house, (about a mile and a half from Raglan,) to begin at two of the clock that afternoon. Fairfax’s commissioners were Colonel Birch, Mr. Herbert, Quartermaster-General Grosvenor, Lieutenant-Colonel Ashfield, and Major Tulida.

By Monday the 17th of August, two days after the date of this report, the preliminaries for capitulation were finally arranged.[271]

Surrender.—During the blockade of Raglan, the Parliamentary General fixed his head-quarters at Kevantilla House,[272] the residence of Mr. Oates, about a mile and a half from Raglan; and there the treaty for the surrender of the Castle was finally adjusted and prepared for signature. The commission deputed for the occasion by Fairfax, were Colonel Birch, Quarter-Master Herbert, General Grosvenor, Lieutenant-Colonel Ashfield, and Major Tuliday. The meeting, as previously arranged, took place at two o’clock in the afternoon of Saturday, August the fifteenth; and, on the Monday following, the document was ratified, by appending to it the signatures of the authorized commissioners. The capitulation was agreed to on the following conditions:—

Article the First. The garrison, ammunition, and artillery of Raglan, to be surrendered to General Fairfax on the third day after the ratification of the said treaty; namely, at ten o’clock on the morning of the Wednesday following, being the nineteenth day of August.

Article the Second, stipulated that all the officers, soldiers, and gentlemen of the garrison, should march out with horses and arms; colours flying; drums beating; trumpets sounding; matches lighted at both ends; bullets in their mouths; and every soldier with twelve charges of powder and ball; with permission to select any place, within ten miles of the Castle, for the purpose of delivering up their arms to the general in command; after which the soldiers were to be disbanded and set at liberty.

Article the Third, engaged the General’s safe conduct and protection to all the gentlemen and others who had sought refuge within the walls of Raglan Castle to their respective homes.{189}

Article the Fourth, was an enlargement of the preceding article, by which three months’ protection was guaranteed to certain other gentlemen, until they should either have made their peace with Parliament, or departed the realm.

Article the Fifth, guaranteed the protection and care of the sick and wounded left in the Castle.

Article the Sixth, was an indemnity for all words and acts of the garrison during the siege of the Castle.

On Wednesday the nineteenth of August, in pursuance of these arrangements, the Castle and Garrison of Raglan were duly surrendered to Sir Thomas Fairfax, for the use of both Houses of Parliament. The garrison, which at first had mustered eight hundred men, was now reduced to less than half that number; and as certain of the warlike muniments were becoming so diminished as to expose them at last to the chances of seeing the Castle entered by storm, a prolonged resistance must have been attended with disastrous consequences.

“The garrison had no sooner marched out,” says an eye-witness, “than Fairfax entered the Castle, took a view of it, had some conversation with the Marquess, and then, quitting the scene of his last operation in the way of siege, proceeded to Chepstow, where he was received in triumph by the committee; and, after a brief halt in the Castle, returned to his head-quarters at Bath,”

“A conqueror; and blushing on his sword
The stains of blood, by loyal Raglan pour’d.”

Yet Fairfax, as far as lay in his power, was very exact in observing every condition to which he was a party. It is recorded to his honour, that, “far from allowing violence, he would not even permit insults, or expressions of triumph over the unfortunate Royalists.” Something of this generous bearing towards his opponents may be observed in his correspondence with the Marquess of Worcester. He is painted by historians as equally eminent for personal courage and for humanity; and though strongly infected with prejudices, or principles derived from religious and party zeal, he never seems, in the course of his public conduct, to have been diverted, by private interest or ambition, from adhering strictly to these principles. Sincere in his professions, disinterested in his views, open in his conduct, “he had formed,” says Hume,[273] “one of the most shining characters of his age, had not the extreme narrowness of his genius in everything but in war, and his embarrassed and confused elocution on every occasion but when he gave orders, diminished the lustre of his merit, and rendered the part which he acted, even when vested with the supreme command, but secondary and subordinate.{190}

With this just tribute to his merits as a man and a soldier, we take leave of the Conqueror of Raglan, annexing the following

Anecdotes.—When Fairfax, as we learn from the same authority, laid siege to Raglan Castle, and fair terms were offered to all the garrison, the Marquess only excepted, the generous old Nestor entreated his friends to accept the proposal, and allow him to be the ‘Jonas.’ But this proposition, it may be readily believed, had the opposite effect, of strengthening their determination to stand by him to the last man. In thanking his officers for their devotedness, he added, in his own peculiar way, “I do not much like that way of embalming neither—to be served up to my audit as a thing newly taken out of the cost of many friends’ blood.”

In the conversation above alluded to, when Fairfax took possession of the Castle, the Marquess is said to have made a jocular request, bespeaking the General’s indulgence in favour of some pigeons that still kept possession of their ancient haunt. To which he gravely replied, that he was glad to perceive his Lordship in so ‘merrie’ a frame of mind. Whereupon the Marquess told him the following story:—

“There were two rogues once going up Holborn in a cart to be hanged; but the one being very jocund on so serious an occasion, gave offence to his companion, who, being very downcast, reproved him. ‘Tush, man,’ said the other, ‘thou art a fool; thou wentest a thieving, and never once thoughtest of what would become of thee; wherefore, being on a sudden surprised and taken, thou fallest into such a shaking fit, that I am ashamed to see thee in such a pitiful condition. Whereas I was resolved to be hanged before I fell to stealing, which is the reason I go so composedly unto my death.’ So, in my own case,” continued the Marquess, “I resolved to undergo whatsoever—even the worst—evils that you were able to lay upon me, before I took up arms for my sovereign; and, therefore, wonder not that I am so merrie.”

The fall of Raglan Garrison was a source of much triumph and congratulation to the Parliamentary forces. “There were delivered up with it,” says Rushworth, “twenty pieces of ordnance, but only three barrels of gunpowder; for within the walls they had a mill with which they could make a barrel a day. There was found, however, ‘great store of corn and malt, wine of all sorts, and beer in abundance;’ but hay and forage for their horses had been so completely exhausted, that these noble animals were almost starved to death, and ‘had like to have eaten one another for want of meat, had they not been tied with chains.’

The captors found also great store of goods and rich furniture in the Castle, which Fairfax committed to the care and custody of Mr. Herbert, commissioner of the army, Mr. Roger Williams, and Major Tuliday, or Tulida, to be inventoried. And in case any inhabitants of the country could make a just claim to{191} them—as having been violently taken from them, or they compelled to bring them thither—that they should have them restored.

Agreeably to the terms of surrender, as recorded in the history of the siege, there marched out of the Castle—“The Marquess of Worcester, then in the eighty-fourth year of his age; the Lord Charles, the Marquess’s sixth son, Lieutenant-Governor of the Castle under his father: [he subsequently retired to Flanders, and died a canon of Cambray;] the Countess of Glamorgan; the Lady Jones; Sir Philip Jones; Dr. Bayly, so often quoted in the preceding narrative; Commissary Gwilliam; four Colonels; eighty-two Captains; sixteen Lieutenants; six Cornets; four Ensigns; four Quartermasters; fifty-two Esquires and Gentlemen.”

It is worthy of record in this place, that, of all the forts and garrisons in the King’s interest, those of Raglan and Pendennis endured the longest sieges, and held out the last of any forts or castles in England—being bravely defended by two persons of very great age—and were at length delivered up within a day or two of each other. “Raglan,” says Lord Clarendon, “was maintained with extraordinary resolution and courage by the old Marquess of Worcester (then 85) against Fairfax himself, until it was reduced to the greatest necessity. Pendennis refused all summons; admitting no treaty till all their provisions were so far consumed that they had not victuals left for four-and-twenty hours; and then they treated, and carried themselves in the treaty with such resolution and unconcernedness, that the enemy concluded they were in no straits, and so gave them the conditions they proposed, which were as good as any garrison in England had accepted. The governor of Pendennis was John Arundel of Trerice, in Cornwall, an old gentleman of near fourscore years of age, who, with the assistance of his son Richard, afterwards made a baron in memory of his father’s service, and his own eminent behaviour throughout the war, maintained and defended the same to the last extremity.”[274]

Returning to the subject of Raglan, we must not overlook the following predictions, as calculated to excite no little attention in times when witchcraft, sorcery, and apparitions, were admitted as articles of popular belief.

Prophecies.—Of the prophetic warnings which, from time to time, and particularly during the siege, had taken possession of the vulgar mind regarding the fall of Raglan and its hereditary lords, the following passage is sufficiently characteristic:—One evening, during the progress of the siege, one of his officers was relating to the Marquess how strangely the narrator, Dr. Bayly,{192} had escaped a shot by means of the iron bar of a window that looked out upon the leaguer. Standing, for example, in a window of the castle, there came a musket bullet and hit full against the edge of an iron bar of a chamber window, so that it parted the bullet in halves, the bar expatiating itself by degrees towards the middle; “one half of the bullet,” said he, “flew by me on the one side, and the other half on the other side; so that, by God’s providence, I had no hurt.”

“The Marquess hearing this, asked me in what chamber it was. I told him. His Lordship then said, as I remember, ‘The window was cross-barred; and you will never believe me,’ said he emphatically, ‘how safe it is to stand before the Cross, when you face your enemy!’

But returning to the subject of predictions:—“Never,” says the family historian, “never was there a noble house so pulled down by prophecies—ushered into its ruin by predictions, and so laid hold upon by signes and tokens! I shall tell you no more,” he continues, “but what I have both read and seen long before the fall of that proud fabric, which had the honour to fall the last of any that stood upon the tearmes of honour. Now there was one old book of prophecies that was presented to the Marquess, because it so much concerned Raglan Castle, wherein there were these predictions: namely, That there should come an Earl that should first build a white gate before the castle-house, and after that should begin to build a red one; and before that red one should be finished, there should be wars over all the land.”

Now all this was fulfilled in the Marquess’s own day, who, having built the one gate and begun the other, yet by reason of the distractions of the time, was forced to discontinue the latter, which at the time of the siege remained unfinished. Some one standing by while this prophecy was mentioned, exhorted the Marquess—half in jest, half in earnest—to make haste and finish his red-gate house, because we should have no quiet until that were up.

“Hark’ye,” said the Marquess, “nobody shall ever prophesy so much money out of my purse in such times as these! Besides, the prophet does not say until, but before—‘before the red gate is up;’ and, for aught I know, if I should make haste with that building, I should hasten the war to my own sorrow; for the prophet says, ‘before the red-gate house shall be finished, there shall be wars all over the land.’ But what if I had built neither the one nor the other, how could this prophecie have concerned me?”

“Oh, my Lord,” said one of the company, “it is done; and you could not otherwise choose but to do what you did.”

“Ay; but I can choose,” said the Marquess, “whether I will believe the prophet or not.”

“Another prophecie there was,” continues our authority, “that the king of{193} the country should lose a great battle, [Naseby,] and afterwards fly to Raglan Castle for safety; that the enemy should pursue him; and that after a short time he should leave the Castle, and that the enemy should besiege and set fire to the Castle wall. All of which was literally fulfilled.”

Moreover it was said, that “an eagle should come into the park and be there slain, which should be a forerunner to the destruction of that house; which I saw literally performed; but yet executed by one that never heard of the prophecie. It was furthermore foretold, that a cloud of bats should hang over the Castle before its final demolishment; this, three days before, all the Castle beheld to their no small astonishment, and it continued a quarter of an hour, about twilight, so thick that you could not, towards the middle of them, see the sky, though clear. Being shot at with hail-shot, some of them fell down, and the rest flew away.

“The Marquess being told of this, asked what those kind of creatures might signify. Some about him answered, that they were scripture emblems of ruin and desolation.[275] He then asked if they were all gone. It was told him that they were. Whereupon the Marquess asked us whether or no the enemy had begirt us round. It was answered that they had. ‘Then,’ said his Lordship, ‘I am glad of it; for then those emblems of ruin cannot fly away from us, but they must also fly over the heads of the enemy.’

The Chaplain then proceeds, according to the superstitious belief of the times, to relate the following prediction regarding the King himself:—“The strangest prophecie of all,” he affirms, “both for signification and accomplishment, is this, which I read before I saw it in this book, and fourteen years before the war.” He then gives it in the Welsh language, and explains that fab-anne, as it is one word, signifies a baby, and joined to another Welsh word, should imply a crowned infant, that, on growing up to man’s estate, and ruling these realms for a season, should at last “fall by the stroke of an axe,” or, “he shall be slain with an axe.” We shall not detain our readers by following the Chaplain through the various arguments by which he appears to establish the truth of this singular prediction; but, referring them to the “Apophthegms,” in which it is recorded, we proceed to another portion of our history.

As soon as the Castle was fairly occupied by the new garrison, the work of demolition began. The peasantry were summoned to their aid; but on the great tower their united labours made but slight impression. So, “after battering the top with pickaxes,” they resolved to effect their purpose more expeditiously, and, transferring their implements to the foundation, succeeded in undermining{194} it. As they proceeded, the gaps were propped up with timber, and when the personal risk became too imminent to continue the work, they set fire to the timber, and the instant the charred props gave way, down came a solid mass of the

Tower of Gwent, half filling the moat, where it now lies; a specimen of as firmly compacted a structure as ever was framed by the hand of man. The mortar, indeed, seems harder and more durable than the materials which it cements together. Of its massive construction the annexed woodcut, showing the staircase in the centre of the wall, and the engravings opposite, give a very clear and distinct notion.

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Much treasure, it was conjectured, had been thrown into the moat during the siege, while under the apprehension of being given up to plunder; so the people were set to work with axes, shovels, and pickaxes, to drain off the water, and collect the treasure. But nothing valuable being discovered in the moat, they were next set to cut the stanks of the fish-ponds, where they had store of very large carp and other fish. From these reservoirs, during many generations, the family had drawn an abundant supply for the table; and in times when the fasts of the Church were rigorously observed,{195} fish-ponds were indispensable to every large establishment. The artificial oak roof of the great hall, already noticed in the introductory sketch, could not be removed with advantage; it was therefore allowed to remain full twenty years after the siege. But the sheet-lead with which it was covered was found to be a very “convertible material,” and was therefore rolled up, sent to market, and the product paid over to the Parliamentary Exchequer.

Above thirty vaults of all sorts of rooms and cellars, and three arched bridges, are yet standing; but the most curious arch of the chapel, and rooms above, with many others, are totally destroyed. Many coins of Queen Elizabeth have been found, but none deserving of preservation from the crucible of the silversmith, to whom they were speedily consigned by the finders.

These dreary “souterrains,” in the present day, are, of course, haunted by goblins, or other beings with lungs not likely to be affected by the damp and mephitic gases, which they are said to exhale. Never was place better adapted for unearthly visitants; and wherever blood has been spilt or treasure concealed, the spirits of vengeance or avarice seize upon the spot as their own exclusive territory. As it appeared to us, however, the genii loci were spirits of a very different stamp—beings with whom the painter, the philosopher, and the poet, would choose to make their abode. Not so the cicerone who showed these mysterious caverns to Bloomfield. “Look down there,” said she, pointing to the great cellar; “something very awful; candles wont burn there! Some people says it’s because the damp chokes ’em. For my part, I think it’s the devil himself; and not much fancying to be seen at his work, he blows ’em out. Well, sir, you may smile as you please; but one puff of brimstone’s enough for me. Let’s step into the Fountain Court. All the wine’s gone; so a cellar with only bad spirits in it, is hardly worth notice.”

Passing from the cellar to the dairy, we may observe that during the siege, and for many generations previously, the fine meadows on the banks of the Olwy, in the adjoining parish of Llandenny, were appropriated as the dairy-farm of the Castle.

The Marquess’s Library was considered one of the best selected, and most extensive in Europe; and we cannot doubt that the Gallery of Paintings bore equal and corresponding testimony to the liberality and taste of the noble owner.[276]

The loss sustained by the family in the immediate destruction of the castle and woods, according to the printed statement, was computed at one hundred thousand pounds; besides enormous sums furnished to his Majesty for the raising and equipment of two armies, and the maintenance of a numerous gar{196}rison, of which the daily expenses alone must have required a princely revenue. With this evidence of the Marquess’s resources, it is not surprising that he should be described by Clarendon as “the most moneyed man of the kingdom.” The siege was followed by the sequestration and sale of the whole estate, which, by the parliamentary audit of 1646, amounted to twenty thousand pounds per annum, and remained in the hands of Cromwell till the Restoration, a period of fourteen years. All the old timber in the parks adjacent was cut down and sold; the lead was stript from the roof of the great hall, and sold for six thousand pounds; and a quantity of the timber was carried to Bristol, and there used in rebuilding the wooden houses upon the old bridge, which had recently been destroyed by fire. But the loss of the library was in every sense a national loss, for in this, among many rare invaluable manuscripts, were the archives of Gwent, with the earliest records of Welsh literature. “One of these manuscripts,” says the late Mr. Thomas,[277] “was an interesting work by Geraint Bardd Glass y Cadair, an illustrious Welshman, who flourished about the ninth century. He was the first who composed a Welsh grammar, a work that was revised by Einion and Edeyrn, which form and arrangement are now extant; but the original MS. was in the Raglan library at its capitulation.”

In his palmy days, long before he was created Marquess, the good Earl lived in princely state in this Castle. Surrounded by faithful friends, numerous retainers, and a household that, by its daily expenditure, bespoke almost unlimited resources, he enjoyed in age all the happiness to which men look forward as the reward and solace of a virtuous youth; for, though long practised in the offices of Court, he could still relish the sweets of domestic retirement, the humanizing influence of science, and the conversation of pious and learned men. He was a friend of literature, a pattern of religious consistency, an example of loyalty which no reverses could shake; and when at last plunged into the deepest adversity, stript of his property, bent down with years, and suffering from bodily pain, he maintained a degree of mental serenity that softened the remembrance of his wrongs, showed the true foundation of his faith, and enabled him to view every dispensation of good or evil as coming from God, and intended, by weaning his thoughts from this world, to give him nearer and clearer views of heaven. Reduced in four short years from the height of prosperity into the very abyss of adversity—his home desolate, the prospects of his family blasted, his friends hopeless or in prison, himself an inmate of the Tower—it is impossible to withhold our sympathy from a man who, in no circumstances, forgot the true nobility of his nature, and the obligations of his{197} creed; but in every trial could exclaim, in the words of his own motto—Mutare vel timere sperno.

“Go, empty joyes,
With all your noyse,
And leave me here alone,
In sweet sad silence to bemoane
Your vaine and fleet delight;
Whose danger none can see aright,
Whilst your false splendour dims his sight.
Go, and insnare,
With your false ware,
Some other easie wight,
And cheat him with your flattering light;
Rain on his head a shower
Of honours, favour, wealth, and power—
Then snatch it from him in an hour.”[278]

On his melancholy departure from these ancestral halls, which he was never more to behold, the venerable Marquess—accompanied by certain members of his family and a few tried friends, among whom was the devoted Bayly—was conducted to London, and placed under the custody of the Black Rod. Expecting to be treated as a declared enemy of Parliament, notwithstanding the terms of capitulation, his lordship was agreeably surprised to find the severity, with which such cases were usually visited, was relaxed in his favour. “Lord bless us,” said he to Dr. Bayly, who never left him, “what a fearful thing was this Black Rod when I heard of it first! It did so run in my mind, that it made an infliction out of mine own imagination. But when I spoke with the man himself, I found him a very civil gentleman; and I saw no black rod! So, methinks, if we would not let these troubles and apprehensions of ours be made worse by our own fears, no rods would be black.” And although—

“The pride of life has vanished,
And here I stand alone,
Degraded, stript, and banished
From all that was mine own;
Yet in dreams, when friends surround me
With the loyal and the true,
The youthful links that bound me,
Seem all riveted anew.
When I hear their loyal voices,
I half forget my wrongs,
And again my heart rejoices
In our good old loyal songs.
Pent up in these dark regions,
The only gems I boast,
Are my honour and allegiance
All else of earth is lost.”[279]

But we shall leave the worthy Marquess for a time, to observe what is passing in that dearly beloved, but now desolate mansion, the gates of which were now closed upon him for ever.

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The woodcut here introduced represents one of the richly ornamented, but now dilapidated, windows of the front range of the Castle.

Of the settling of some portion of the Marquess of Worcester’s estates upon Cromwell, we take the following particulars from a popular writer of our own times:—“The Commons,” he observes, “now dealing with delinquents, do not forget to reward good servants—to ‘conciliate the grandees,’ as splenetic Walker calls it. For about two years (writing after the conclusion of the war) there has been talk and debate about settling £2,500 a year on Lieutenant-General Cromwell; but difficulties have arisen. First, they tried Basinghouse lands, the Marquis of Winchester’s, whom Cromwell had demolished; but the Marquis’s affairs were in disorder. It was generally found that the Marquis had only a life-rent there—only Abbotson and Itchin in that quarter could be realized. Order thereupon to settle lands of papists and delinquents to the requisite amount wheresoever convenient. To settle especially what lands the Marquis of Worcester had in that county of Southampton; which was done, though still with insufficient result. Then came the army quarrels, and an end of such business. But now, in the Commons’ Journals, March 7th, this is what we read:—‘An ordinance for passing unto Oliver Cromwell, Esquire, Lieutenant-General, certain lands and manors in the counties of Gloucester, Monmouth, and Glamorgan, late the Earl of Worcester’s, was this day read third time; and, upon the question, passed and ordered to be sent unto the Lords for their{199} concurrence.’ Oliver himself, we shall find, has been dangerously sick; and the following is what Clement Walker reports upon the matter of the grant:—“The sixth of March brought an ordinance to settle two thousand five hundred pounds a year of land out of the Marquis of Worcester’s estate—the old Marquis of Worcester at Raglan—father of the Lord Glamorgan, who, in his turn, became Marquis of Worcester, and wrote the ‘Century of Inventions.’ But £2,500 a year out of the old Marquis’s estate upon Lieutenant-General Cromwell! I have heard some gentlemen, that knew the manor of Chepstow and the other lands, affirm that in reality they are worth £5,000, or even £6,000 a year. You see,” continues he, “though they have not made King Charles a ‘glorious king,’ they have settled a crown revenue upon Oliver, and have made him as glorious a king as ever John of Leyden was.”[280]

In addition to the personal anecdotes, or ‘pithy sayings,’ already introduced, the following are too original and piquant to be overlooked:—“We were talking one day,” says the family chronicler, “of an old drunken fellow, who having used his body to sad disorder in drinking all his lifetime, and at last giving it over, he presently died. The fact being thus brought before him, the Marquis observed, ‘there was nothing to be wondered at in such a termination of the man’s life; for if you take a brand,’ said he, ‘out of the fire that is thoroughly burnt, it will fall to pieces; but if you let it lie there still, it may remain a pretty while before it is turned to ashes.’

This clearly shows that his Lordship was not a novice in the science of pathology; for, had he made the ‘anatomy of drunkenness’ his particular study, he could not have expressed himself by a figure that more completely illustrates the case. The burnt log may not only last longer, but also preserve its shape, and diffuse light and heat through the whole apartment, while it remains in the fire; but if suddenly removed, and the fire extinguished, it is soon transformed into a heap of black ashes. The comparison applies very forcibly to those in whom the pernicious habit of spirit-drinking has been long a rooted evil. If they suddenly reform, the constitution—to use the same figure—has been so thoroughly carbonized, that, on the artificial temperature being withdrawn, it breaks down like the charred firebrand and is extinguished; but if cautiously and gradually withdrawn, before the charring process has reached the core, it may live to furnish a better light than any that could be expected from it while in the furnace of dissipation. In the Marquess’s time, as already noticed, the habit of drinking was carried to a most fatal excess; and we may{200} readily believe that the ‘apophthegm’ here recorded, was the result of personal observation among the troops of his own garrison, who—

“Red-hot with drinking;
So full of valour that they smote the air
For breathing in their faces.”

As the preceding anecdote shows the venerable Marquess as a pathologist, so the following exhibits him in the more congenial character of a quaint theologian:—“I was walking one day with his lordship,” says the narrator, “in the private walk about the Great Tower,[281] and there we spied where a bird had made her nest, whom we disturbed from hatching her young ones, and sitting upon her eggs; which act of nature my lord compared to the manner of the creation: ‘For,’ said he, ‘God having made his nest in the world, and brought forth his young at first imperfected, did by his Spirit incubate, and by his wings of prudence spread over them, he gave them life and power; and by his word he brake the shell—et sic pullulavit mundum.’ This method of giving a quaint and solemn turn to the most familiar incidents of life was characteristic of the times, and often introduced into their homilies by the clergy, who made use of the most homely figures to illustrate some of the highest questions in theology. But from the Marquess of Worcester, then at a very advanced age, the effort to extract a moral, or to expound a scriptural text, came very gracefully; and he omits no opportunity, as we perceive, of improving others, by directing their thoughts to those passages of scripture with which his own mind was familiar. It is almost impossible, however, to resist the ludicrous ideas which religious sentiment is made to conjure up when employed by the Parliamentary leaders, and those irreverent applications of scripture which are to be found, not only in their daily conversations, but in their speeches, and even dispatches. Cant was the fashion of the day; and where a letter was not profusely interlarded with the language and figures of Holy Writ, the author was liable to be suspected of indifference or disaffection to the cause.

“An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek——”
“And thus he clothes his naked villany
With old odd ends stol’n forth of Holy Writ.”

The Marquess’s contempt of hypocrisy and deception is exemplified in another apophthegm:—“A Roman Catholic being sorely pressed to take the oath of supremacy, and being acquainted with another gentleman, who was a Protestant, and so like unto him that you could hardly distinguish them whilst they were together, much less asunder,—this imago sui—this lifelike

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The Keep Tower, from the Moat.

Raglan Castle.


resemblance—as if Nature herself had chosen him to be his representative—the right stone being pulled out, and a counterfeit set in the right ring—and what with the likeness of his countenance, and the identity of apparel, he passed for current; which jest my Roman thought so good, that he must needs brag of it to the Marquess. But my lord no way liked it; asking him—‘Would you put another upon doing that which you would not do yourself? What if the devil—you two being so like one another—should mistake you for him? I assure you he would go neare to mar the conceit.’ For, he might have added, though honesty be no Puritan, yet it will do no hurt.”

“Mine honour is my life; both grow in one;
Take honour from me, and my life’s undone.”

In the next passage, the Marquess undertakes the duty of admonishing a party who had come to visit him; and his method of doing so is somewhat amusing. We shall give the lecture, as nearly as we can, in his chaplain’s own words:—“There was a new-married couple,” says he, “presented before the Marquess. The bride was a goodly proper woman, her face well-featured, an excellent eye she had, but she was pitifully disfigured with the smallpox. The Marquess, looking much upon her, and saying nothing to her for a long while, we all knew that silence was in labour for some notable production. At last he advances toward the young bride, and asked her: ‘Gentlewoman, do you know why it is said that God Almighty created man and builded woman?’ The lady, somewhat out of countenance, answered, ‘No, indeed, my lord.’ The Marquess asked her again: ‘Do you know why you women are called housewives?’ ‘I think, my lord,’ said the bride, ‘because good wives should keep at home, and not gad abroad.’ ‘It is a good answer,’ said the Marquess, ‘but not the right one; for women may be bad wives at home, as well as abroad; otherwise they would never scold their husbands out of doors. The answer to my first question is: Woman is not said to be made as Adam was, which only signifies plain work; but to be built, which signifies curiosity and contrivance; and, therefore, as to my second question, a woman is called a housewife, because she is a house out of which all the royal families of kings and emperors derive their extract. Neither are you only compared to houses; but unto cities, kingdoms, churches, and commonwealths. But do you know what house you are like?’ ‘No, indeed, my lord,’ answered the bride. ‘Why, then, I’ll tell you,’ resumed the Marquess; ‘when God builded the first woman, he made her his storehouse, wherein he had laid up all the race of mankind, wherewith he replenished the whole earth. But I must tell you, my lady, God Almighty did not make you coaches nor waggons, that you should be always gadding about.’ Whereat the bridegroom made answer: ‘My lord, I thank you for{202} this; I hope my wife will remember it.’ ‘My lord,’ said the young bride, ‘you will read such a lecture to my husband, that he will never let me go abroad.’ ‘Oh no, my lady,’ said the Marquess, ‘he must not debar you of that liberty, provided you never go abroad but when you go out like the snaile; who seldom stirs abroad but whilst that blessing, the dew of heaven, is upon the earth, that she may gather benefit; and by her greatest care, and equal management, still carries her house upon her back.’ ‘Oh, my lord,’ said she, ‘if I should goe abroad like the snaile, I should carry not only a house upon my back, but horns upon my forehead!’ ‘No, lady,’ said the Marquess; ‘though she pockes at you, yet they are not horns; the snaile can soon draw them in if you touch them, which no horned creature can perform; but she carries them in her head to teach you what you should provide, and bear in mind against you go to hay-making.’

“But the Marquess fearing he had a little displeased the young couple, he thought to make amends by the following, though somewhat equivocal, discourse:—‘Sir,’ said he to the bridegroom, ‘you know I have compared your wife unto a building, and I much commend your choice, for a goodly house should not be chosen for the smoothness or whiteness of the wall—for such a one may be but a dairy-house or a milk-house; nor according to the colours or paintings of the outside—for such a one may be but a tavern or an alehouse; but if I see a house that is lofty and stately built, and hath fair windows, though the outside be but rough-cast, yet I am sure there are goodly rooms therein.’

“And so,” adds Bayly, “both parties were well pleased.” For what the Marquess meant to express by this string of similes was, that although the lady was much disfigured by the smallpox, yet her fine expressive eyes, intellectual forehead, noble carriage, and cultivated mind, amply atoned for accidental disfigurement; and left a balance in her favour which no outward appearance could disparage or conceal.

These anecdotes of an octogenarian, however unsuited to modern ideas, and of rather doubtful merit on the score of compliment, are characteristic of times when the court-jester was still thought a necessary appendage to a great household; and when riddle and allegory were the daily vehicles of political wit and private satire, as well as the legitimate promoters of loyalty, mirth, and good-fellowship. That they were considered by Dr. Bayly himself—a grave and learned man—as reflecting honour upon the Marquess who uttered them, and creditable to his own taste and industry in transmitting them to posterity, is a proof that, agreeably to the taste of the age, they were fully entitled to the distinction of ‘apophthegms.’

Here follows another, in a more serious and figurative sense, to which{203} Juxon himself would not have objected, even from the pulpit:—“We were talking upon one occasion of Christ’s miracles, more particularly of his turning water into wine, and of the five loaves and two fishes. ‘Truly,’ said the Marquess, ‘these miracles He works amongst us every day; but they are so ordinary, or familiar, that we take no notice of them. God sends rain upon the earth; this water gets up into the vine, and the sappe of the vine-tree God turneth into wine. And as few graines of corne as will make five loaves being covered in the earth, will multiply and encrease to such advantage as will feed five thousand with bread; and two fishes will bring forth so many fishes as will suffice so many mouths.’ It was by these serious and intelligible, as well as original, remarks upon subjects accidentally brought out in conversation, that the Marquess sought to impress upon all around him those religious sentiments and convictions which he had himself imbibed by diligent study of the Scriptures; the benefit of which he daily acknowledged, when overtaken by the accumulated evils of age and almost unparalleled adversity.

“Such a house broke—
So noble a master fallen! All gone—
And not one friend to take his fortune by the arm!”

We now turn to the faithful friend who has recorded these anecdotes of his illustrious patron; who attended him during the whole progress of the siege, and, after the closing scene at Raglan, accompanied him to London, soothed him under the new series of afflictions to which he was there exposed, and never left him until he saw the Master whom he loved and honoured consigned to his final resting-place in the Beaufort Chapel at Windsor. This companion, friend, and counsellor, was Dr. Bayly; and, although our notice must be brief, it is a grateful task to commemorate the virtues of a man, whose name has almost passed into oblivion; but whose loyal devotion, genius, talent, and misfortune, justly entitle him to a place in the same page that records the merits and sufferings of Henry, first Marquess of Worcester.

Dr. Thomas Bayly was the fourth and youngest son of Dr. Lewis Bayly, Bishop of Bangor. After finishing his curriculum at the University of Cambridge, and receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1638, he was presented by King Charles to the subdeanery of Wells. In the troubles that continued to distract the nation, he took an active and unremitting interest; and having retired with other loyalists to Oxford in 1644, he was there created Doctor of Divinity. Previously to the battle of Naseby, he had accepted Lord Worcester’s appointment as chaplain to the household; and, as we have seen in the preceding account, acted in several instances as confidential adviser{204} between the King and the Marquess. He was present during the whole course of the siege of Raglan, more as a soldier than a chaplain, and took his full share of the perils and responsibilities in which the officers of the garrison were then involved.

When terms of capitulation were finally tendered by General Fairfax, and accepted by the Marquess, Dr. Bayly was employed to draw up the articles upon which the garrison was to be disbanded: and when the castle was delivered up to the besiegers, he accompanied the Marquess to London, attended him during his imprisonment as a friend and servant, consoled him as a minister of religion, vindicated his character, advocated his rights, and, when the final hour arrived, he performed over his grave the last sad offices of religion and humanity.

After this event, Dr. Bayly repaired to the Continent, where he continued to reside, chiefly in France, until the “martyrdom of King Charles,” when he returned to England, and published the work already mentioned, entitled, “Certamen Religiosum; or, a Conference between King Charles I. and Henry, late Marquess of Worcester, concerning Religion, in Raglan Castle, anno 1646.” This conference, however, was believed by many to whom he stood opposed, to have no real foundation in truth; and to be merely sent forth as a prelude to his declaring himself a convert to the Roman Catholic faith; or, in the original words, to his “becoming a Papist.”

In the course of the same year he published another work, entitled, “The Royal Charter granted unto Kings by God himself,” &c.; to which is added, “A Treatise,” wherein is proved that Episcopacy is jure divino. By these writings he incurred the heavy displeasure of the Government—to which all such topics were obnoxious—and the author was committed to Newgate, where he languished for some time. But at length, a favourable opportunity having been presented, he made his escape into Holland, where he carried his religious views into immediate practice, and became a zealous Roman Catholic.

Previous to this date, and during his confinement in Newgate, he wrote a piece, entitled, “Herba Parietis; or, the Wallflower, as it grows out of the stone chamber belonging to the metropolitan prison; being an historie which is partly true, partly romantic, morally divine; whereby a marriage between Reality and Fancy is solemnized by Divinity.”[282]

Shortly after this publication, he quitted Holland, and took up his residence at Douay in France, where he sent forth another book, with the title of “The End to Controversy between the Roman Catholic and Protestant Religions, justified by all the several manner of ways whereby all kinds of controversies,{205} of what nature soever, are usually or can possibly be determined.”[283] This was followed by “Dr. Bayly’s Challenge,” the last of his published works; after which he proceeded to Italy, where he spent the residue of his days, and died, as his biographers conclude, in poverty and distress. It is more likely, however, that, after having, by his controversial talents, rendered some service to the church of his adoption, he retired into a monastery, and there ended his chequered pilgrimage in exercises of devotion. This, however, is matter of conjecture, for he is said by Dodd to have died in the family of Cardinal Ottoboni; while Dr. Trevor, Fellow of Merton College, who travelled in Italy in 1659, reports that he died in a public hospital, and that he had seen his grave. His fate, however, like that of many others—driven into involuntary exile by similar causes—is involved in a mystery which no recent attempt has been made to elucidate. Requiescat in pace.

To the books or pamphlets above named, Dr. Bayly received various replies, which showed that, by their spirit and execution, they had excited no little attention among the able and fierce controversialists of that day. Among those who took the field against him were Christopher Cartwright, L’Estrange, Robert Sanderson, Peter Heylin, and others.

A “Life of Fisher, Bishop of Rochester,” is also ascribed to the pen of Dr. Bayly; but his title to that work is not fully substantiated. His Dedication of “Worcester’s Apophthegms,” to the second Marquess, author of “A Century of Inventions,” is manly and elegant. The conclusion is in these words:—“I layd your noble father in his grave with mine own hands; and I could not let a memorial of him lye buried under my own manuscript, but thought it a duty belonging to his fame, and your own merit, to dedicate this book unto your lordship, heir to all, but apparently to nothing but his virtues and this memorial of them.”

In his Epistle to the Reader, he enters upon a lively vindication of the genuineness of his “Certamen; or, Discourse Concerning Religion;” the veracity of which had been bitterly impugned by his enemies; and states that he published it in vindication of the King’s constant affection to the Protestant religion. There is considerable spirit in the preface:—“Some,” he says, “will not admit of that controversie otherwise than as a parable: First, because they were there—that is, at Raglan Castle—and heard no such thing; Secondly, because they believed not the Marquess of Worcester to be so able a man; as I hear it hath been said by some of his Majesty’s field chaplains, who envying that a loyal pen should wagge, where they can be contented to sew pillowes under the elbowes, to bead cushions over the heads of the people,[284] and{206} preach such wholesome and sound doctrine of mortification, sanctification, justification, and good life, that they thought they might safely get up into any pulpit, not caring what bottom it had, nor what canopie was over head. Not much unlike the man who went to preach after [upon] the sureness of his foundation, when his house was all on fire. These men will tell you that this was no real thing; because they were there—at Raglan—all the while; whilst, in fact, they were not there at all except at meales; and when I tell you that they were the doctours, that were better at smelling a good dinner than a disputation, I have as good as told you their names. I expected truly better reason from those doctours, than from the knight that said, ‘He was sure there should be no such thing at Raglan, for his boy Tom was there all the time!’

“But you will say,” he continues, “you do not believe there was any such private discourse. Chuse then; who cares? Let him believe that will; it was writ for the satisfaction of Christians—not of Infidels. But it may be that ‘mendax Fama’ means to requite me for the wrong she did my father, who writ a good book;[285] and some would not believe it to be his; and now that I have set out a book none of mine own, she will have it to be mine. I thank her kindly; but I had rather be without her praises, than to be thought such an ingenious lyar.”

The suspicion that Bayly was the inventor, and not reporter, of the “Certamen Religiosum,” is not supported by any testimony to which we can attach implicit reliance; for those who charged him with the deception, were of the party to whom he was politically as well as religiously opposed. That conversations of the kind actually occurred between the King and the Marquess, can hardly be doubted; but as Bayly, in the midst of a garrison, could not be so cool and accurate as a modern reporter for the press, we may fancy that he clothed the arguments, sent forth in the “Certamen,” in his own language; and perhaps insensibly coloured them with his own sentiments.

It has been farther said of him, that, besides taking part in the defence of Raglan, he fought, on some occasion of his subsequent and chequered career, as a common soldier. This is by no means unlikely; for he was of an active and adventurous spirit; never reluctant to take up arms in a good cause; and like some other ecclesiastics of his day, as well known in the “tented field” as in the pulpit.

In his “Book of Apophthegms,”[286] he mentions the fact of his having saved{207} Lord Worcester from the enemy, by giving him timely notice of their approach, when he found him wandering on the Welsh mountains; and, recording this incident as the occasion and origin of his acquaintance with the Marquess, he says: “From that time forward, until I laid him in his grave in Windsor Castle, I never parted from him.” Such enthusiastic attachment—disinterested as, under all the peculiar circumstances of the case, it must have been—does infinite credit to the memory of Bayly; for it generally happens that fallen greatness, like court favourites, has no real friends.—We now return to the closing scene of the master whom he had served with so much constancy, and whom it was literally his misfortune to survive; for after his obsequies at Windsor, Bayly was left a friendless wanderer, denounced at home, received with suspicion abroad, and indebted to charity for bread and—a grave.

Reduced, as we have seen, to the humiliating condition of a prisoner, the Marquess of Worcester did not long require the vigilance of the Black Rod. From the day that Raglan was delivered up to General Fairfax, his health, which during the siege had suffered from great mental anxiety, rapidly declined under the absence of all that reconciles worldly men to the evils of life. But, armed with that Christian philosophy which is the only panacea for the outrages of fortune, he preserved the inward calm of a resigned and tranquil spirit; and, looking forward to another and a happier existence, he regarded passing events, like his own bodily infirmities, as visitations from an unseen Power, who, through a rugged and stormy path, was conducting his servant into a new region of sunshine and peace. At his death, which took place in December, all that descended to his family, as unconvertible to Parliamentary uses, were the example he had set before them of unshaken loyalty, well-grounded faith, and a patient endurance of evils which the practice of such hereditary virtues might incur. By his wife, whom he long survived, he had issue nine sons and four daughters: namely, Lord Herbert, Earl of Glamorgan, who succeeded to the honours; Lord John, who married a daughter of Thomas, Lord Arundel of Wardour; and Lord Charles, who, during the siege of Raglan, acted as second in command under his father, and after signalizing himself in the royal service, devoted himself to the church, and died, as already observed, in exile at Cambray. These are the only members of the family that require to be noticed in this place.

Edward, the second Marquess, maintained the same spirit of loyalty which had actuated his father through life. The services which he had hitherto, as Lord Herbert, rendered to the royal cause, were followed by others which won for him the entire confidence of his Sovereign, by whom he was constituted Lord Lieutenant of North Wales, and invested with the highest authority ever delegated by a king to his subject. To this remarkable fact allusion has been{208} already made;[287] but in this place, where it may be more properly introduced, we shall quote the original at full length. In the preceding history, as we have seen, the King addressed him in letters patent from Oxford, by the title of Earl of Glamorgan, Baron Beaufort of Caldecot; and to complete the honours showered upon him, his Majesty invested him, in 1644, with the following commission:—

Charles, by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c., to our right trusty and right well-beloved cousin Edward Somerset alias Plantagenet, Lord Herbert, Baron Beaufort of Caldicote, Grosmond, Chepstow, Raglan, and Gower, Earl of Glamorgan, son and heir apparent of our entirely beloved cousin, Henry, Earl and Marquess of Worcester, greeting.

“Having had good and long experience of your prowess, prudence, and fidelity, do make choice, and by these nominate and appoint you our, &c., to be our generalissimo of three armies, English, Irish, and Foreign, and admiral of a fleet at sea, with power to recommend your Lieut.-General for our approbation; leaving all other officers to your own election and denomination, and accordingly to receive their commission from you, willing and commanding them, and every of them, you to obey as their general, and you to receive immediate orders from ourself only. And lest, through distance of place, we may be misinformed, we will and commend you to reply unto us, if any of our orders should thwart or hinder any of your designs for our service. And there being necessary great sums of money to the carrying on so chargeable an employment, which we have not to furnish you withal, we do by these empower you to contract with any of our loving subjects of England, Ireland, and dominion of Wales, for wardships, customs, woods, or any our rights and prerogatives; we by these obliging ourselves, our heirs, and successors, to confirm and make good the same accordingly. And for persons of generosity, for whom titles of honour are most desirable, we have entrusted you with several patents under our Great Seal of England, from a Marquis to a Baronet, which we give you full power and authority to date and dispose of, without knowing our further pleasure. So great is our trust and confidence in you, as that, whatsoever you do contract for or promise, We will make good the same accordingly, from the date of this our commission forwards; which, for the better satisfaction, We give you leave to give them, or any of them, copies thereof, attested under your hand and seal of arms. And for your own encouragement, and in token of our gratitude, we give and allow you henceforward such fees, titles, pre{209}heminences, and privileges, as do and may belong to your place and command above-mentioned; with promise of our dear daughter Elizabeth to your son Plantagenet in marriage, with three hundred thousand pounds in dower or portion; most part whereof we acknowledge spent or disburst by your Father[288] and you in our service; and the title of Duke of Somerset to you and your heirs male for ever; and from henceforward to give the Garter to your arms, and at your pleasure to put on the George and blue ribbon. And for your greater honour, and in testimony of our reality, we have with our own hand affixed our great seal of England unto these our commission and letters, making them patents.

Witness ourself at Oxford, the first day of April, in the twentieth year of our reign, and the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and forty-four.


The result of this commission, full of promises, offers a striking instance of the uncertainty of “the best laid schemes” of men. Lord Glamorgan’s eldest son married; but no matrimonial alliance took place between the Royal family and his. Nor is it mentioned that any use was made of his unprecedented power to make peers; and what is singular enough, the title of Glamorgan, granted to Lord Herbert himself, was disputed, on account of some informality, at the Restoration of Charles II., and surrendered by him when Marquess of Worcester. He seems, indeed, to have regarded neither his private interest nor his public reputation in comparison with those of his Royal master. He was sent to Ireland, as already noticed, with a secret commission to negotiate with the Roman Catholics; and upon its discovery, and being disowned by Charles, he took all the fault on himself, to the imminent hazard of his own life. At the Restoration he met with no adequate reward for his devoted loyalty. Charles the Second, probably, had not all the power that was supposed, as he certainly had not all the inclination that was expected, to reward the adherents of his family.

Horace Walpole, in his “Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors,” gives a lively, but a very careless and unfair, account of this Marquess of Worcester. He ridicules his “Century of Inventions;” but, in truth, Lord Orford’s opinion will not go far on scientific subjects. An opinion, very different from that of the critic-peer, will be formed on consulting the new edition of the “Century of Inventions,” with historical and explanatory notes, published in 1835, by Mr. Charles F. Partington.{210}

The title the Marquess gives the original work is, “A Century of the Names and Scantlings of such Inventions, as at present I can call to mind to have tried and perfected, which (my former notes being lost) I have, at the instance of a powerful friend, endeavoured now, in the year 1655, to set these down in such a way, as may sufficiently instruct me to put any of them in practice.”

“Artis et naturæ proles.”

He dedicates it to the King in language of unabated loyalty; and in a second address impressively recommends his discoveries to the attention of both Houses of Parliament. In the sixth of these “Inventions,” Mr. Partington recognises an improved construction of the telegraph, as it was used before the electric telegraph came into use.

In VIII. IX. and X. various engines of war are hinted, which have since been perfected by Congreve and others. The reader who is curious in such subjects, will be well repaid by a perusal of Mr. Partington’s book. We can only find room for those inventions which foreshadow the steam-engine.

“XC. An engine so contrived that, working the primum mobile forward or backward, upward or downward, circularly or cornerwise, to and fro, straight, upright or downright, yet the pretended operation continueth and advanceth; none of the motions above-mentioned hindering, much less stopping the other; but unanimously and with harmony agreeing, they all augment and contribute strength unto the intended work and operation; and, therefore, I call this a semi-omnipotent engine, and do intend that a model thereof be buried with me.

“XCIX. How to make one pound weight raise an hundred as high as one pound falleth; and yet the hundred pounds weight descending doth what nothing less than one hundred pounds can effect.

“LXVIII. An admirable and most forcible way to drive up water by fire, not by drawing and sucking it upwards, for that must be, as the philosopher calleth it, infra spheram activitatis, which is had at such a distance; but this way hath no bounder, if the vessels be strong enough; for I have taken a piece of a whole cannon, whereof the end was burst, and filled it three quarters full, stopping and screwing up the broken end, as also the touchhole; and making a constant fire under it, within twenty-fours it burst, and made a great crack. So that having found a way to make my vessels, so that they are strengthened by the force within them, the one to fill after the other, have seen the water run like a constant fountain stream forty feet high; one vessel of water, rarefied by fire, driveth up forty of cold water; and a man that tends the work is but to turn two cocks, that one vessel of water being consumed, another begins to force and refill with cold water, and so successively, the fire being tended and{211} kept constant, which the selfsame person may likewise abundantly perform in the interim between the necessity of turning the said cocks.

“C. Upon so potent a help as these two last-mentioned inventions, a waterwork is, by many years’ experience and labour, so advantageously by me contrived, that a child’s force bringeth up, an hundred feet high, an incredible quantity of water, even two feet diameter. And I may boldly call it the most stupendous work in the whole world! Not only, with little charge, to drain all sorts of mines, and furnish cities with water, though never so high seated, as well to keep them sweet, running through several streets, and so performing the work of scavengers, as well as furnishing the inhabitants with sufficient water for their private occasions; but likewise supplying the rivers with sufficient to maintain and make navigable from town to town, and for the bettering of lands all the way it runs; with many more advantageous and yet greater effects of profit, admiration, and consequence. So that, deservedly, I deem this invention to crown my labours, to reward my expenses, and make my thoughts acquiesce in the way of farther inventions. This making up the whole century, and preventing any farther trouble to the reader for the present, meaning to leave to posterity a book, wherein, under each of these heads, the means to put in execution and visible trial all and every of these inventions, with the shape and form of all things belonging to them, shall be printed by brass plates.” And he devoutly concludes:—“In bonum publicum, et ad majorem Dei gloriam.”

On these Mr. Partington has the following note:—“The three last inventions may justly be considered as the most important of the whole ‘Century;’ and when united with the 68th article, they appear to suggest nearly all the data essential for the construction of a modern steam-engine. The noble author has furnished us with what he calls a definition of this engine; and although it is written in the same vague and empirical style which characterises a large portion of his ‘Inventions,’ it may yet be considered as affording additional proofs of the above important fact.”

The Marquess’s “Definition” is exceedingly rare, as the only copy known to be extant is preserved in the British Museum. It is printed on a single sheet, without date, and appears to have been written for the purpose of procuring subscriptions in aid of a water company, then about to be established:—

“A stupendous, or a water-commanding engine, boundless for height or quantity, requiring no external nor even additional help or force, to be set or continued in motion, but what intrinsically is afforded from its own operation, nor yet the twentieth part thereof. And the engine consisteth of the following particulars:—

“A perfect counterpoise, for what quantity soever of water.{212}

“A perfect countervail, for what height soever it is to be brought unto.

“A primum mobile, commanding both height and quantity, regulator-wise.

“A vicegerent, or countervail, supplying the place, and performing the full force of man, wind, beast, or mill.

“A helm, or stern, with bit and reins, wherewith any child may guide, order, and control the whole operation.

“A particular magazine for water, according to the intended quantity or height of water.

“An aqueduct, capable of any intended quantity or height of water.

“A place for the original fountain, or river, to run into, and naturally, of its own accord, incorporate itself with the rising water, and at the very bottom of the aqueduct, though never so big or high.

“By Divine Providence and heavenly inspiration, this is my stupendous water-commanding engine, boundless for height and quantity.

“Whosoever is master of weight, is master of force; whosoever is master of water, is master of both; and, consequently, to him all forcible actions and achievements are easy.”

“It is said,” continues our authority in another place, “that the Marquess, while confined in the Tower of London, was preparing some food in his apartment, (a singularly good result from a marquess having been obliged to be his own cook,) and the cover of the vessel having been closely fitted, was, by the expansion of the steam, suddenly forced off and driven up the chimney. This circumstance attracting his attention, led him to a train of thought, which terminated in the completion of his ‘water-commanding engine.’

Thus, we think, posterity has something more to thank the noble owner of Raglan for, than deeds of arms, or the defence of castles. His great castle, however, was ere this time in ruins, and furnishing another instance of the folly with which the conquerors at that period destroyed the noble buildings which had belonged to their enemies the Royalists; as if it had not been enough, and more wise and provident, to have kept them in their own possession, and converted them to republican uses.

The Marquess survived the publication of his “Century” only about two years. He died in retirement, near London, on the 3d of April, 1667, and was buried in the vault of Raglan Church, on the 19th of the same month, near his grandfather, Edward, Earl of Worcester.[289]{213}

After the Restoration, as already noticed, a committee was appointed by the House of Lords,[290] to take the patent above quoted into serious consideration. The consequence was, that in a very few days thereafter it reported that the Marquess was willing, without further question, to deliver it up to his Majesty; and accordingly, on the third of September following, the said patent, “granted,” as it was alleged, “in prejudice to the Peers,” was formally surrendered to the Sovereign, as the only fountain of national honours.

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Henry, only son of the second Marquess, succeeded him in all those high titles and appointments, by which the King endeavoured to make him amends for the vast sacrifices which his family had incurred by a long course of unflinching and untarnished loyalty. And to crown the whole, he was installed K.G., and finally advanced to the highest rank of the peerage. Having been “eminently serviceable to the King”—as expressed in the patent—“since his most happy restoration to the throne of these realms; in consideration thereof, and of his most noble descent from King Edward the Third, by John de Beaufort, eldest son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, by Catherine Swinford, his third wife,” the Marquess of Worcester was created, in December, 1682, Duke of Beaufort, with remainder to the heirs male of his body.

At the funeral of Charles the Second, his Grace was one of the supporters to George, Prince of Denmark, chief mourner. By James the Second he was made Lord President of Wales, and Lord Lieutenant of twelve different counties in the Principality; and at the Coronation, in April following, he had the distinguished honour of carrying the Queen’s crown. He was afterwards made Colonel of the 11th Regiment of foot, then first raised. He next exerted himself against the Duke of Monmouth; and endeavoured, though ineffectually, to secure Bristol against the adherents of the Prince of Orange. Upon that Prince’s elevation to the British throne, his Grace refused to take the oaths, and abjuring public life, lived in retirement until his death, which took place in 1699, in the seventieth year of his age.

Charles, the second but eldest surviving son of the first Duke, is mentioned in the family history as a nobleman of great parts and learning. He died in the lifetime of his father, in consequence of an accident, in the thirty-eighth year of his age. His horses, we are told, taking fright, and running down a steep hill, the danger became imminent; when, to avoid the casualty which threatened him, he unhappily leaped out, broke his thigh-bone, and only survived the accident three days.{214}

Henry, his eldest son, succeeded his grandfather as second Duke of Beaufort. On Queen Anne’s visiting the University of Oxford in 1702, and going thence in her progress to Bath, the Duke met her Majesty near Cirencester, on the twenty-ninth of August; and, attended by great numbers of the gentlemen, clergy, and freeholders of the county, conducted her with great pomp to his seat at Badminton, where she was received with regal splendour. This act of loyal hospitality—so becoming in a descendant of Henry the first Marquess of Worcester—was most graciously acknowledged by the Queen and her royal consort Prince George of Denmark.

Three years after this event, the Duke took his seat in the House of Lords; but did not appear at court until after the change of ministers in 1710, when he frankly told her Majesty that he could “then, and only then, call her Queen of England.”

After being installed in various high offices, and while promising a long and distinguished career in the service of his country, he was prematurely cut off in the thirty-first year of his age, and buried at Badminton, where a monument records his titles, character, and public services.

Badminton, which we have just named, is the principal seat of the Beaufort family, and comprises one of the finest parks in England. Badminton Church, which contains the monuments above-named, was rebuilt at the expense of the late Duke of Beaufort in 1785, after a plan by Evans. It stands within the Ducal Park; and, besides various other specimens of art, represents the arms of Somerset—“foy pour devoir”—faith for duty—worked in mosaic in the pavement of the chancel. On the destruction of

Raglan Castle, as already described in these pages, was laid the foundation of Badminton Park, where the household gods of the family were formally enshrined, and insured the possession of a more peaceful and propitious home.

“Here, in forgetfulness of many woes,
The loyal Founder sought and found repose;
Here, in sweet landscapes to the Muse endeared,
Soothed by Religion, and by Science cheered;
Tasted the sweets that rarely can be known,
Save when we make the public weal our own.”

This beautiful seat—long prior to the time in question—had been the hereditary demesne of the Botelers, whose names appear in the earliest period of British history. The house is built in the Palladian style of architecture—a style for which the first Duke of Beaufort had acquired a taste at Vicenza; and when the time had arrived that a house, worthy of his illustrious ancestors, should be erected in this county, a decided preference was given to the Italian model. The principal front is of great length, having in its centre division a composite colonnade, surmounted by an attic, on which is sculptured the family{215} arms. The wings of the mansion, extending considerably on each side, are terminated by Tuscan arches, leading to the offices and stables. Over each extremity of the centre is a cupola. The interior decorations of this palace are splendid, but still in good keeping, and evincing due regard to the classical taste in which the building itself originated.

The great dining or banquet hall is tastefully ornamented by wood carvings, from the designs of the celebrated Gibbons—all of elaborate execution, and presenting some of the finest specimens ever produced by that artist. The picture gallery—which the stranger will admire for its fine proportions and classical simplicity—presents a series of family portraits, with which, individually, are associated many pleasing, and some painful events and circumstances of the national history—

“Of lofty stem! the beautiful, the bold—
Names that still blazon the historic page!
Faintly, yet brightly, hath the painter told
Their worth and virtues to a latter age—
‘In faith inflexible;’ in beauty’s charms
Triumphant; and invincible in arms.”

The park, by which the mansion is encircled, is of great extent—more than nine miles in circumference; and although the natural scenery is comparatively tame, the walks and drives are exceedingly picturesque; and, to the practised eye of strangers, present many points of view which will linger on the memory long after other and more romantic scenes are forgotten.

“Here waving woods—a mass of living green—
With varied shade diversify the scene;
Flowers of all hues perfume the haunted dell,
Where streams descend, and bubbling fountains dwell;
Where busts of heroes glimmer through the trees,
And Nature’s music floats upon the breeze—
Such, as in olden time, was heard to wake
The slumbering echoes of the Larian lake;
Or soothed, with dulcet tones, the opal sea,
That clasps thy beauteous shore—Parthenopè!
Yet brighter rises—fairer sets the sun
Upon thy classic shades—fair Badminton.”

With these particulars, which bring down the family history to comparatively modern times, we close this portion of the subject, and return to the scene of our illustrations—

Raglan Castle.—By those unacquainted with the subject, it has been often regretted that, when prosperity had again visited the family of Worcester, no effort was ever made to restore this castle to something of its original splendour. But the obstacles that opposed such a patriotic design were innumerable; and although the apartments at vast expense might have been rendered habit{216}able, yet the parks, and the timber—the growth of centuries—having all been cut down and swept away in the Revolution, and nothing left but a comparatively bleak and uncultivated waste, the grand ornament of the manor was not to be replaced by the hand of art. Turrets might again multiply along the battlements, and splendid courts be rescued from the cumbrous ruins that had long hid and disfigured them; but trees must be raised by a slower process, and he who should replant the wasted demesne must do so, not for himself, but for the benefit of future generations.

But, in addition to other obstacles that need not here be noticed, the habits and manner of society had become so thoroughly changed after the Restoration, that a feudal stronghold was no longer indispensable for the security and comfort of great families. The military chief had now thrown aside his cumbrous mail, and entered into the every-day duties of civil life; and by improved intercourse with his fellow-men—confidence in the stability of government—a taste for agriculture, and love of national sports and pastimes, he felt his own happiness advanced by the new facilities of promoting that of the people around him. He found that to sleep soundly, required the aid of neither drawbridge nor portcullis. Public order and confidence once restored, domestic feuds, which had so long kept men strangers to one another—except in some field of conflict—were succeeded by family alliances, which united them by new ties of friendship and affection; and instead of mutual distrust and mutual defiance, the nobles of the land were gradually weaned back from an immoderate love of war to the arts of peace, and the practical illustration of loyalty and patriotism. The feudal castle, built chiefly for defence, was now of course a structure of which every one could perceive the comfortless inconvenience. A host of retainers was no longer required either for the safety or the baronial state of the mansion; a new form of society required new and more simple forms of accommodation; and the rural mansion, with its waving woods, gardens, orchards, farm-like offices, well-stocked preserves, and richly variegated lawns, succeeded those stern fortifications within which former generations had maintained their haughty independence—but which, in reality, was little better than “the freedom of a state prisoner”—

“For still the ramparts, tall and grim,
Were barriers ’twixt the world and him!”

Raglan Castle, however—even while occupied as a feudal residence—possessed many advantages over its contemporaries. Its spacious courts, lofty halls, numerous suites of chambers, extensive battlements, ancient gardens, shady walks, and variegated prospects, were luxuries to which few, if any, of our domestic fortalices could lay claim. Within the walls of the castle, the{217} riches of art, pictorial and sculptured, were scattered with taste and liberality on every object that could please the eye or amuse the fancy; while the skill and science illustrated in their arrangement improved the mind, and imparted a classic grace and colouring to the whole structure. Of its luxuries in this respect—in its library, its Gallery of paintings and sculpture—the description of an old poet may be quoted as not inapplicable to the scene presented by Raglan, at the commencement of the seventeenth century:—

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State Gallery—looking south.

“For the rich spoil of all the continents,
The boast of art and nature, there was brought;
Corinthian brass, Egyptian monuments,
With hieroglyphic sculptures all inwrought;
And Parian marbles, by Greek artists taught
To counterfeit the forms of heroes old,
And set before the eye of sober thought
Lycurgus, Homer, and Alcides bold—
All these and many more that may not here be told.”

But of all the artificial embellishments for which Raglan Castle was famed, its Water-works—on a most ingenious and expensive scale—are allowed to have formed a principal feature; and these Lord Herbert and the first Marquess appear to have brought to a degree of perfection previously unknown in this country. In their day—long before the name of Cromwell had inspired sentiments of either respect or alarm—Raglan Castle was probably as much{218} distinguished in this respect amongst baronial mansions, as the “Palace of the Peak” among the aristocratic mansions of our own times. During the numerous fêtes celebrated within its gates in honour of the King’s visit, these water-works came in for a large share of royal admiration; and who can doubt that the rushing fountains of Raglan had, perhaps, as soothing an influence upon the distracted mind of the first Charles, as those of Tivoli are said to have had on that of Mecænas, whom the distracting cares of state, as tradition reports, had rendered sad and sleepless? Fresh from the field of Naseby, the sound of welcome that met King Charles at the gate of Raglan, must have been peculiarly grateful to his ear, on which the shouts of loyalty were destined never to fall again with so much truth and fervour. As the equestrian group in the Fountain Court threw up its snowy column during the night, the spray may have reached the very casement of the King’s chamber, and invited that repose which unparalleled reverses had scared from his pillow. If, under the ordinary circumstances of royalty, “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” his must indeed have been “unrest,” from whose head the crown was so surely but insensibly falling.—These, however, are sentimental conjectures, with which the topographer has little or nothing to do; we turn, therefore, to the subject in question, the water-works of Raglan, and the hero of the scene, the first Marquess, of whom local history reports the following

Anecdote.—At the beginning of the Long Parliament, we are told, certain rustics of the neighbourhood, availing themselves of the prejudices excited against Lord Worcester on account of his creed, presented themselves one morning at the gate of Raglan, and in the name of Parliament demanded possession of the household arms. Apprised of their design, the noble owner met them at the White Gate; and after hearing them repeat the demand for arms, put the question, “Whether, seeing that they had come to disarm him and his servants, they intended also to follow up that act of violence by robbing him of his money and goods?” “No,” said the intruders; “we want your arms, and that only because you are publicly denounced as a recusant!” “Nay,” said his lordship; “I am indeed a peer of the realm, but I am no convicted recusant; and therefore the law cannot in reason take notice of any such thing, much less sanction this violent proceeding.”

Thus checked in their first attempt, the Marquess proceeded to warn them of the danger they had incurred by pressing an unlawful demand; and threatening them with serious consequences, they were well pleased to forego the prime object of their visit, and turning round prepared to retire without further parley. The Marquess, however, seeing their contrition, invited them to enter the gate of the castle, and amuse themselves, in a peaceable way, with a sight of whatever it contained. His design, however, was to punish them, in a{219} manner they little expected, for the unnecessary alarm they had occasioned to the household.

Condescending to be his own cicerone in the case, he conducted the rustic band from one place to another, until—greatly wondering at everything they saw—they had traversed nearly the whole premises. At last, just when they had come to that part of the Castle Moat, over which a lofty bridge communicated with the Keep,[291] he invited them to pause, and examine the scene at leisure.

“Now, at this point,” says Bayly, “Lord Herbert had lately contrived certain water-works, which, when the several engines and wheels were set agoing, vast quantities of water through the hollow conveyances were to be let down from the top of the high tower.” All being ready for action, a signal from the Marquess brought down through these a deluge of cataracts, which, by their roaring, hissing, and foaming through the hollow tubes, produced such a hideous and deafening noise, that every echo from the buildings around was roused into imitation; while the visitors themselves, suddenly enveloped in a magic circle of roaring cataracts, knew not what to think, nor which way to turn. Describing the effect in his own graphic style, the Chaplain writes:—

“Such was the roaring, as if the mouth of hell had been thrown wide open, and all the devils had been conjured up, that the poor silly men stood so amazed, as if they had been half dead; and yet they saw nothing!”

At last, as the plot was contrived, up comes a man in great haste and affected trepidation; and staring wildly at the half-petrified rustics, cried out as he passed them—“Look to yourselves, my masters; look to yourselves; for, by’r Lady, the lions are all broke loose!” Hereupon the rustic “arms-searchers” fell into such a dancing fit of ague, that, in their attempts to escape the lions’ jaws, they tumbled so over one another as they scampered down stairs, that it was feared one half of them had broken their necks. Nor did they once look behind them, until they found themselves a full mile beyond the gates of the castle.

By this ruse, the Marquess completely succeeded in warding off any second party disposed to make a similar experiment. The demand for arms was not repeated; the roar of Worcester’s “lions” kept all intruders at bay; and the recent adventure, which had lost nothing by telling, did more for a time to insure the tranquillity of Raglan Castle, than could have been accomplished by a regiment of cavalry.

View from the Keep.—The Donjon Tower, where the above adventure occurred—and which has been already described in these pages—commands a{220} magnificent view over the surrounding country, particularly to the south-west, where the landscape—broken into verdant masses of vegetation—gradually swells into a mountain range, which limits the view, and depicts its own bold outline on the distant horizon. In describing this view, we shall be as particular as our limits will permit; for it is one of the finest in the county. The ascent, as usual in such buildings, is by a tourniquet staircase, which opens at each of the five different stories into the ancient, and, in the present case, lofty apartments; to which, in cases of imminent danger, the family could retreat as to an inviolable sanctuary. But this was an extremity to which—so far as we are informed—none of the Worcester family were ever compelled to resort. So that there are no dramatic incidents associated with the tower, upon which a romantic story of siege and storm might be founded.

Of this view, however, all visitors of taste in landscape-painting speak in terms of admiration; and, having made the experiment on a beautiful evening in September, we are bound, from the enjoyment it afforded us, to recommend to all visitors a tour of the battlements, closing with a view from the top of the Keep. In this view, as shown in the accompanying engraving, is comprehended a wide panorama, enriched and embellished with all the characteristic features of English landscape, from the green valley and fertile wheat-field to the bleak pastoral uplands that partly enclose the scene. All the foreground is occupied by smiling cottages and cultivated farms, half buried, as Mr. Thomas[292] has described them, in the umbrageous and many-coloured foliage that enriches the scene, and in which the melancholy yew-tree is conspicuous. The appearance of the ruins in this bird’s-eye view is particularly striking. Every tower, arch, and battlement—here diverging into distinct form and outline, and there grouped in picturesque confusion—strike the spectator with mixed feelings of surprise and amazement; for it is only from this elevation that he is enabled to form any correct estimate of the beauty, variety, and extent of a building, that seems every way fitted to have been the residence of a regal court.

The following table, as recommended by Mr. Thomas,[293] will assist the curious visitor in discovering the various hills and landmarks which are generally visible from the Tower of Gwent. Ranging from east to south, the prominent features of the landscape appear in the following order: namely—the Kymin, a conical hill overlooking the town of Monmouth, and crowned with its pavilion. The next is Troy Park, the favourite seat of the Ducal family; Craig-y-Dorth, the scene of a famous battle between Henry IV. and Owen Glendower; then the Trellig range of hills, particularly Beacon Hill—so called

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View from the Battlements.

Raglan Castle.


from being used as such in the late war during the threatened invasion. The next is

Llanishen Hill, with the church of St. Dionysius; and continuous with it rise the Devaudon and “New Church Hills,” opposite the Elms; the royal forest of Wentwood and Pen-y-Cae Mawr; Kemeys Firs, near to Caerleon, an elevation which commands a view of thirteen counties.[294]

In the south-west are seen the heights of Caerleon and Pen Twyn Barlwm; Gaer Vawr, on which is an ancient encampment—the largest in the county—with the site of a British town; Dial Carig; and Craig-y-Garcyd, two miles north-west of Usk, the site of a Roman camp. In the immediate foreground are the village and church of Raglan.

Westward appear Abersycan and the hills near Pontypool; the Blorenge hill, nearly two thousand feet high.[295] The opening which occurs in the range at this point, allows of a glimpse of the Breconshire hills at Crick Howell to Bwlch, within eight miles of the county town. The next in succession are—the Sugar Loaf, or Pen-y-Foel—so called from its conical shape—near Abergavenny, which crowns the summits of four converging hills, and rises eighteen hundred and fifty-two feet above the channel of the river Gavenny, which flows near its base.

The same view takes in the Hatteril Hills, or Black Mountains, crowned with Roman encampments; and near which is Oldcastle, once the residence of Lord Cobham, whose unhappy fate forms a painful page in the national history. From these hills the Monnow takes its source. Beneath lies the dark Vale of Ewias; and in its bosom are the ruins of Lanthony, a Cistercian Abbey of the twelfth century, which forms one of the illustrated subjects of this work. In the same direction is seen the Skyrrid Vawr, a lofty hill, seen in a volcanic fissure, which is supposed to have been thrown open during one of those remote convulsions of nature, of which in these districts the traces are so distinct and frequent.

Looking northward, the prominent objects are Campstone Hill, and the Craig, at the foot of which lie the picturesque remains of Grosmont Castle, which gives the title of Viscount to the Beaufort family. To these, but more northward, succeed Garway, Broad Oak, the Skinch-Cwm, and White Hills, which close the panorama from Raglan Keep.—We have been thus particular{222} in designating the objects seen from the different points of view, in order that the tourists who annually visit this scene, may be in some degree prepared for the enjoyment which it is so well calculated to afford.

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From the top of the Keep.

Descending from this lofty tower, where on festive occasions the family ensign still floats, the contrast between the Natural scenery, which has just faded from the spectator’s eye, and the iron-bound work of Art, forces itself upon the mind, and elicits a spontaneous burst of gratitude that, under the protecting banner of the English Constitution, the peasant is now as safe in his cottage as ever Baron of Raglan was in his Keep; that at last “right” is a match against “might,” and that the strong arm of Justice falls with impartial force on the culprit—whether he be robed in ermine, or clad in hodden grey.

“Yet Barons of the land! to you
A grateful people still retains
Proud memory of the swords ye drew—
The swords that broke a tyrant’s chains,
And planted Freedom on our plains!
For Freedom’s cradle was the Keep,
Her guardians were the Barons bold;
Who placed her temple on the steep,
And on her head a crown of gold;
And cried—‘The deed is done! Behold,
Henceforth our British land shall be
The glorious land of Liberty!’

The visitor, as he crosses the rustic bridge that now spans the moat, will recall the interesting fact, that this very spot, so to speak, was the “birthplace{223}” of the Steam-engine; a circumstance which, had Raglan no other claim to their notice, must entitle it to a more than cursory observation from all who have an hour to spend within its walls. The spot where it is believed to have been first placed by the inventor—then Lord Herbert—was in a building erected close under the wall of the Keep, where the drawbridge rose; but which has left few or no traces, in shape or dimensions, that are now visible above the moat. It is satisfactory, however, to know that the ground is stamped by tradition as the spot where the noble inventor, during his father’s lifetime, made his first experiments on the uses and powers of steam; and where he probably constructed that “model of his invention,” which he desired might be placed with him in his coffin.

If ancient warriors considered it an honourable distinction to be consigned to the tomb in a full suit of armour, it was excusable in one who had carried with him through life the remembrance of many wrongs, many sacrifices, to desire that, at least, the evidence of one bloodless triumph, one proof of scientific discovery, might accompany him at his final departure from this scene. It was the favourite child of his matured judgment, the result of those scientific researches, after which he had been straining for many years—the mighty consequences of which were dimly foreshadowed in his imagination. It was the reward and consolation of a life of suffering, as well as of science; and there is something both natural and touching in the wish that this model—the only mechanical evidence that told him “he had not lived in vain”—should be deposited with him in the grave.

Some of his commentators have affected to smile at this wish, as evincing a feeling of weakness and vanity on the part of Lord Worcester, incompatible with a philosophic mind. But in this they only allege what cannot be proved; and the charge falls harmless when applied to a man who was—what can never be disputed—one of the most ingenious and scientific men of his day. When Columbus—a schoolboy at Genoa—first rigged his tiny skiff, and sent it dancing over the blue waters, on which it moved like the shadow of coming events; no one foresaw that this mere toy would one day be succeeded by vessels, directed by the same master-pilot, that should throw open another continent to the old world. Nor, while Lord Worcester was squandering much time and treasure, as it was thought, in useless experiments in the Keep at Raglan, did any one imagine that these very experiments were preparing the way for that stupendous power, that should one day give incredible impulse to the arts of civilized life, cross the Atlantic, and traverse the Pacific, with a celerity that promises to unite in one bond of fellowship all the nations of the earth.

It can hardly be doubted that results similar to these haunted the imagination of Worcester, and kept up within him that spirit of discovery which{224} animated him in all his labours, soothed him with the hope of being numbered among the benefactors of his country, and a prospect of that immortality which attends the favoured votaries of science. He may often have indulged the thought, though never embodied in words—and it was a remarkable prediction on the part of him who uttered it long afterwards—

“Soon shall thine arm, triumphant Steam, afar,
Drag the slow barge, and drive the flying car!”

It has been alleged by Desaguliers,[296] that Savary, the reputed inventor of the steam-engine, obtained his notions from the work already named, “The Century of Inventions;” and that, in order to conceal the original, he purchased all the Marquess’s books that could be had for money, and committed them to the flames. Of this, however, we have no direct proof, and Captain Savary must be acquitted; but it is quite certain that, as already mentioned, the original work is so rare, that not a copy is to be found except in the British Museum, and perhaps in the Beaufort Libraries at Troy House or Badminton Park. It is to be observed, however, that no contemporary record exists to illustrate or verify the Marquess’s description of the contrivance, which we presume to call a Steam-Engine; or to inform us where, and in what manner, it was carried into effect. Yet it is very evident from his account, that he had actually constructed and worked a machine that raised water by steam; an operation which was sufficient to produce on the minds of rustics, the effect ascribed to the “roaring of lions,” as mentioned in the preceding anecdote. The Marquess’s description, though short and obscure, would appear to favour the belief, that the force of his engine was derived solely from the elasticity of steam; and that the condensation of steam by cold was no part of his contrivance, but the invention of Captain Savary, who, in 1696—nearly thirty years after the Marquess’s death—published an account of his machine in a small tract, entitled, “The Miners’ Friend.” In these engines—several of which he had erected previously—the alternate condensation and pressure of the steam took place in the same vessel into which the water was first raised from a lower reservoir, by the pressure of the atmosphere, and then expelled into a higher one by the elastic force of strong steam. Steam was thus employed merely to produce a vacuum, and to supply the strength that was applied, for a like effect, to the sucker or piston of an ordinary pump; and it was a great and important step to have discovered a method of bringing the air to act in this manner, by the application of heat to water, without the assistance of mechanical force.{225}

To the simple incident which, during his confinement in the Tower of London, first set the warm and fertile imagination of the Marquess to work on this subject, we have already adverted; and must now turn from the curiosities of science, to such portions or features of Raglan Castle as still remain to be noticed.

The Tilt-yard.—The exact situation of this important adjunct to the Castle is still a question among the learned. By some, what is now called the Bowling-green is described as the ancient Tilting-ground. This conjecture, however, being rendered improbable by a careful examination of the ground, another has been thrown out, namely—the Grand Terrace on the north-west side of the Castle. But this locale is also disputed, particularly by one who is resident near the spot, and fully conversant with whatever has descended to our own times respecting the original plan of the Castle. His opinion is, that the ancient Tourney-field must have been on the outside of the present walls. An experienced officer of the Royal Engineers, who lately inspected the grounds, with the view of ascertaining the exact spot, confirms this opinion; and observes that the Tilt-yard occupied the space immediately outside of the present gate, and enclosed between the two moats which surrounded the gateway. This opinion will probably set the question at rest—particularly as it comes from a quarter well qualified to decide in such doubtful cases—and allow the Bowling-green to retain its hereditary fame and honours.[297]

In this enclosure it was usual for the lords of Raglan to exhibit those chivalrous fêtes which gave a character to the age. They brought into martial competition those aspirants of knightly fame, whose dexterity in the use of the lance was perfected by daily practice in the tourney. In these gorgeous pastimes, all that could fascinate the eye, and kindle admiration in the spectators, was brought into brilliant operation. Beauty, presiding at the lists, bestowed the palm on him who had disarmed his rival in the charge, and thus established his claim to knightly honours. Here, no doubt, many a lance has been couched, many a spear broken in rival combat; for one of the old lords, as already mentioned, was renowned as the best horseman of his day; and to support this character, joust and tournament may have been no unfrequent spectacles under the walls of Raglan.

It cannot be doubted that these martial exercises—conducted with admirable tact and courtesy—contributed, in a very special degree, to foster a spirit for military enterprise; to inculcate a high and chivalrous sense of honour; to form the young soldier to habits of fortitude and endurance which procured{226} him the respect of his comrades, and future distinction in the field. A knight, thoroughly trained according to the system of feudal times, was a being whom we are accustomed to regard as the beau-ideal of a soldier; whose high bearing, indomitable courage, inflexible faith, unsullied honour, and loyal devotion to his “ladye love,” are themes on which poets and historians of the middle ages have lavished many glowing panegyrics.

For the education and discipline of those military aspirants, the grand palæstra was the tilt-yard. For the feudal tournament—descriptions of which are handed down to us by contemporaneous authors—no substitute is left in these times. Nothing could have been more animated and dazzling, when celebrated with all those details of martial pomp and ceremony—indispensable to such exhibitions—than a pageant, in which all who aspired to distinction were required to evince, in action, the pure and elevating principles of love, loyalty, and religion. For these, and many other reasons, impartial taste, as Gibbon observes, must prefer a Gothic tournament to the Olympic games of classic antiquity. Instead of the naked spectacles which corrupted the manners of the Greeks, the pompous decoration of the lists was crowned with the presence of chaste and highborn beauty, from whose fair hands the conqueror received the prize of his dexterity and courage.[298]—And with this flattering

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contrast between the demoralizing festivals of Greece, and the high tone of refinement which characterised those of our Gothic forefathers, we pass on to{227} such other points in the history of Raglan Castle as have been selected for illustration. In the woodcut introduced in the preceding page, the view is taken from the old

Bowling-green—erroneously supposed to have been the Tilt-yard. Directly opposite, in the centre, is the Donjon, or Tower of Gwent, so often described or otherwise referred to in these pages. On the left, where a massive gateway is seen, is the entrance to the Fountain Court, from which, as formerly noticed, a noble staircase conducts to the State apartments occupying the south side of the Castle. These are now in a state of utter dilapidation; but the framework itself affords abundant evidence—so far as architectural design and elaborate ornament can assist us in such a conclusion—of their original splendour.

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The royal apartments.

“But now th’ unsightly brier grows,
Where once, in gilded bower,
The Queen of Beauty trained the rose—
Herself a fairer flower.
And damp the hearth, and cold the bed,
Where he who wore the crown,
With anxious heart, and aching head,
In slumber laid him down!
But brief the slumber, long the night—
For Naseby’s fatal day,
And sorrow’s still increasing weight,
Had scared his sleep away!”

There is a tradition, that the Bowling-green was King Charles’s favourite walk during his visit. It commands a varied and extensive prospect; the vegetation is vigorous; and the grassy carpet, though not in courtly trim, is still uninjured by plough or spade; and to sentimental tourists it seems the very spot—aided by the adjoining ruins—where, in the mirror of fancy, pictures of the olden day, the hues of domestic life as it passed in the fifteenth century, may be seen faithfully reflected.

“There is a spirit brooding o’er these walls,
That tells the records of a bygone day;
When, midst the splendour of thy courtly halls,
A pageant shone, whose gorgeous array,
Like Pleasure’s golden dream, has passed away;
Where Beauty’s smiles, and winning graces, lent
The witching radiance of their love-lit ray;
And from the scene a mingled strain was sent
Of music, laughter, festive song, and merriment.”—Raglan.

The game of bowls was unknown to the ancients, and bowling-greens are said to have originated in England; where, in the course of time, every castle, and most houses of the nobility, had each a bowling-green attached to them. The “greens” were in some places narrow strips turfed over; but if covered with gravel, they were called “Bares.” Bowling-alleys were so called from being roofed over for play when the weather was unfavourable; and these appear to have been the usual appendages to taverns, and other places of public resort, particularly in towns. In an old inventory we have—“To Sparke of Bury, Roper, for vi. li. etc., of herryng line for the Bowling-alley, iijs. ivd.” At the same place [Hengrave Hall] a bowling-alley occupied the space between the north side of the moat, having the convenience of an open corridor communicating with the Hall. Flat bowls were best for a close alley; “round biassed bowls” for open ground, of advantage; bowls, round as a ball, for green swarths which were plain and level; and of the latter description is the Bowling-green of Raglan, now under notice.

In a plate of “Strutt’s Sports,” two small cones are placed upright, at a distance from each other, and the players bowl at each alternately—the winner was he who could lay his bowl nearest to the mark. A small bowl or jack was also used as a mark; and only one bowl for each person—not two or three, as in the present day.[299] There were also ground-bowls, driven by a baton or mace through an arch. Half-bowl—so called because it was played with one half of a sphere—was prohibited by Edward the Fourth; and is the rolly-polly still practised in Herts.[300]{229}

Tennis-Court.—The site of this is still a question in the topography of Raglan, although “the practice” cannot be doubted. Henry the Seventh—who was a prisoner in Raglan Castle—his son Henry, and Charles the Second, were all tennis players. In the sixteenth century, tennis-courts were quite common in England. They were divided by a line stretched in the middle; and the players, standing on either side with their rackets, had to receive and return the ball, which the rules of the game required to be struck over the line.[301]

Having already spoken of the Tilt-field, it is proper to remark that the jousts and tournaments, for which it was set apart, differed from one another in the following respects:—The latter consisted of parties of knights, engaged at the same time; the former of two persons only. The Joust was at first called the “Cane Game,” because hollow canes were used instead of lances. On some occasions the combatants with swords and lances were on foot, with a barrier of wood breast-high between them. Toys, made to imitate the joust, consisted of knights on horseback, who could be thrown off and unhorsed by the shock of their adversaries’ spears. Some had wheels, others not.

There were also boat-jousts, as represented in old paintings. The conqueror was he who could best turn aside the blow of his antagonist by one blow of his shield; and, at the same time, strike him with a lance in such a manner as to throw him over into the water, himself remaining unremoved from his station.[302]

Tradition.—On taking a final survey of these extensive ruins, and speculating on the style and date of several of their component parts, the difficulties that attend antiquarian decision—as great in the present day as in that of the first Marquess—remind us of the following anecdote:—

During an excursion in the vicinity, “We were told,” says his Chaplain, who relates the story, “that we should come to a place that was famous for a miracle, which, according to popular tradition, was wrought by the preaching of St. David to three thousand people.” To accommodate the saint, the ground on which he stood at the time, being too low to admit of his being advantageously seen and heard by the multitude, most obligingly rose up into a green knoll, carrying the saint with it, and there settled at a proper elevation. Whereupon St. David, pitching the cross on which he leant into the miraculous soil, and continuing his discourse, was distinctly heard and seen, much to their{230} comfort and edification, by the whole assembly. This cross, at the time in question, “was yet standing, with some words, or letters, which time and Welsh weather had so defaced that they were no longer intelligible to vulgar eyes.” In memory, or rather in proof, of the miracle, the guardian saint had caused a church to be erected on the spot, and many were the pilgrims, during the long lapse of centuries, who had resorted to the Cross, and borne testimony to the celestial influence which still hovered round the spot; and in those who were already gifted with that “faith which can remove mountains,” produced the most wonderful changes.

This relation, working upon the Marquess’s mind, made him desirous to turn aside for a little, and inspect the hallowed ground in person. Having reached the churchyard, the cross was instantly visible; but in shape and ornament bearing all the marks of venerable antiquity. The inscription was almost obliterated; and among the gentlemen who attended the Marquess, it became an object of competition who should best decypher the original; though all that could be traced with any resemblance to an alphabet, were—Crx ... Xti ... Dd, and part of an s. The enigma that had puzzled so many others, however, appeared to his lordship of very easy solution. “Why,” said he to the gentlemen around him, “these letters are neither more nor less than fragments of three simple but sacred words; to wit—Crux Christi Davidis.” “Which we all wondered at,” says the Chaplain, “that no man could find out, though it afterwards appeared so plain. ‘Look ye now,’ said the Marquess; ‘I, without my spectacles, and ill eyes, could read it sooner than all you that needed none, and had good eyes. And mark me,’ he added, ‘it is not a good eye but a good faith that attains to a knowledge of such things; whilst you pore so much upon the letters you lose the meaning. Now, I will tell you how I came to find it out: I considered what had been told me, with the help whereof I came to understand what the words might signify; so that in this, I am sure, tradition was a means to help me to the understanding of the scripture.’

The quaint simplicity of the last sentence—so full of meaning—and the lesson it inculcates regarding the authority of Traditions, illustrate in a quiet way the Marquess’s opinions as to those of the Church; and to antiquaries, the aid of tradition is thus very ingeniously recommended. Where authentic history falls short of the mark in researches, the traditions of a castle are entitled to consideration; and in the preceding account of Raglan, it has been our study to combine the two—though not in the sense recommended by the Marquess.

Of Lord Herbert, the following anecdote is recorded:—Some time after he was created Earl of Glamorgan, he received the King’s commission, as we{231} have seen,[303] to proceed to Ireland, and there ascertain what could be done to strengthen the royal cause. Setting out on this expedition, and accompanied, as we are told, by a distinguished retinue of officers, knights, and gentlemen—“all of the red letter”—who had staked life and fortune on the enterprise, his lordship arrived at Caernarvon, where he was to embark for Ireland. Here they were detained a short time; and Glamorgan continuing to receive at his table the loyalist gentlemen of the place, the conversation turned upon some old prophecies, which it was thought were fast reaching their fulfilment. “And particularly one,” said a gentleman of the company. “It is an old Welsh prediction, and says—‘That in these latter times there should come to this very town a magpie, and build her nest in the royal crown; that next a jackdaw should arrive, and beat off the magpie; then a buzzard should appear on the same roost, and drive away the jackdaw; and then there should be seen no crown, but that of thorns, upon the King’s head! Farther, that there should come a band of men from a far country, and take away the thorns, and then the crown should appear again.’

And thus far, as the townsmen averred, the prophecy had been accomplished; to wit—“Over the gate of Caernarvon Castle, there was a statue of King Edward the First, in full proportion, with a crown upon his head. Well, there did come a magpie, as every one could tell, which built, her nest in the said crown; then came a jackdaw that beat away the magpie, as foretold; and, in like manner, came at last a buzzard, and drove away the jackdaw.” “And all this,” said the worthy townsmen, “we assure your honour to be as true as Holy Writ.”

Hereupon the Earl of Glamorgan, having listened with deep interest to the recital, replied with much animation—“And why may not we, my gallant friends and comrades—why may not we be that band of men from a far country, that shall take away these thorns from the King’s head—first, in type, and then in substance?” And thereupon all concluded themselves to be the men destined for that glorious service. They resolved that, on rising from table, they would satisfy their eyes with the sight, as their ears had already been with the relation, and lend willing and helping hands to disencumber the figure. Nothing else could be thought of; and dinner being ended, the Earl and his company sallied forth to the castle gate, resolved to signalize the day by an act of loyalty that would endear their names to posterity. Looking up, accordingly, with great eagerness to the royal badge, that seemed to implore their assistance, its appearance, sure enough, was in literal accordance with the disordered condition in which crowns are generally left by rival combatants.{232} It was, in fact, quite a heart-breaking sight to see the diadem of England so covered and entangled with thorns, as if artificially platted round the King’s temples.

“Verily,” said one of the nobles present, “never hath mine eye beheld a sadder spectacle!” “The Earl himself, almost frantic with grief and indignation, straightway commanded the nest to be torn down; which was done with every mark of ignominy; and then the company began to breathe again. The materials composing the nest being examined with severe scrutiny, were found to be of white-thorn—a substance whereof never was bird known before to build her nest!”

A thing so unprecedented, both as regards the nest and the material[304] thereof, caused in the beholders a degree of amazement not to be expressed: in memorial whereof, every one present thrust a sprig of thorn in his hatband, and so wore it as a talisman. So far, “in type,” the thorns were removed from the King’s crown—but not “in substance.”

This adventure in Caernarvon being duly narrated to the Marquess at Raglan, he paused for a minute, and then inquired of those about him, “What was the nickname which the Roundheads were wont to give the Bishops?” But there were none about him who could even guess at his meaning; which he perceiving, said, “As I take it, they used to call the Bishops Magpies, whom they reproach for building their nests in the crown; then came the Presbyterian Jackdaws, and beat them out; and the next thing that you shall see will be the Independent Buzzard, which shall drive them away. And who shall come next, God only knows!”

To this solution, one with a Roman nose made answer: “I hope, my lord, that after these men have played their pranks sufficiently, no man hereafter will presume to build his nest in the crown; but I hope there will be a knot of good fellows that may case the King’s head from the pricking of those thorns, and clear the crown from those incumbrances.” Whereupon the Marquess, replying, asked the party who related the story, “What manner of crown it was—of what form—that was upon the King’s head?” The gentleman replied, “A royal crown.” “Ay; but I mean,” rejoined my lord, “was it an open or an imperial crown?” “An open one.” “Oh, then, that was the reason; the King’s crown was too open: had it been close at top, with the Cross overhead [a sly word for the Roman Catholic faith], such unlucky birds could never{233} have come there to have built their nests; but one thing there is,” said he, in conclusion, “that I mislike in the story, namely, that after they had taken the thorns from the King’s head, they should afterwards wear them in their own hatbands.”[305] This was what no one present could explain to the Marquess’s satisfaction. And Lord Glamorgan’s negotiations in Ireland proved a failure to remove any “thorns from the royal crown.”—So much for a prophecy which shows the superstition and credulity of the times—a credulity which tainted even those who were charged with the highest offices of the state. Yet such—

“The superstitious, idle-headed eld
Received, and did deliver to our age.”

In those days, no fortress surrendered, no castle fell, no band of heroes was discomfited, but in fulfilment of some irresistible “prophecy.”—But here we must close the subject with a few words on the

Outworks of Raglan.—On this head little remains to be added. The details, given in the first volume of this work, respecting castles of the middle ages, preclude the necessity of our doing more than simply referring the reader to those passages in the description of Rochester and Arundel, which equally apply to Raglan. With respect to the outworks of the latter, a very brief notice may here suffice. By a practical eye the line of fortification may still be traced; and what remains of the original defences thrown up during the siege, shows very clearly that the military engineers employed were men whose skill and science did credit to the age. The vestiges of this lamentable war are mostly observable on the west side of the castle, where a strong bastion, projecting from the exterior wall of the fortification, forms a striking feature of the outworks, and a no less striking contrast with the luxuriant vegetation which now crowns, and almost conceals, these monuments of a barbarous and unnatural war. The point to which we allude, is that represented in the engraving, and entitled the “Avenue,” where the state apartments, unlatticed, roofless, and dilapidated, look down upon the green belt of trees and underwood that surround them with a melancholy aspect—but a melancholy that imparts feelings of thankfulness to the lovers of peace; for it tells very plainly that the devastating storm has long subsided, and that the sunshine of national prosperity and contentment has again visited the scene. The engines of war have disappeared; the ramparts, raised by men for the destruction of their fellow-men, are now razed to the ground. Nature—striving to throw her green mantle of oblivion over a scene from which she was so rudely banished by the violence of war—smiles at her own bloodless triumph, and peoples the over-{234}arching groves with feathered tribes that sing no songs but those of peace and joy—

“Where once the steel-clad warrior trod,
Spring renews her verdant wreath;
And o’er the once ensanguined sod,
Flowers their mingled incense breathe.
Where the clang of clarion rose,
All is silence and repose;
Save where, in yonder halls of state,
The blackbird serenades his mate.”
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We now proceed to a brief notice of the environs:[306]

Raglan Church has little to interest the archæological inquirer beyond its antiquity—and its claim to this distinction is fully vindicated by its appearance. It consists of a nave, side aisles, a chancel, and a square embattled tower, which, with a few trees throwing their shadows over the burial-ground, forms a pleasing landmark in the distance. We had the pleasure of uniting in the Morning Service before leaving the village, and were much gratified by the religious demeanour which pervaded the congregation, and edified by the simple but impressive discourse with which the service was terminated.{235}

Every feature seems stamped with the seal of antiquity; at first sight nothing seems to have been renewed, or removed in the sacred edifice, for at least two centuries. The great-great-grandfathers of the present race may have occupied the same pews, knelt at the same altar, and been addressed from the same pulpit; for the materials of which these are composed seem as if framed to survive kingdoms and empires.

Over the Raglan Vault in the chancel, already noticed, some rusty trophies of chivalry are suspended; and beneath repose several of the ancient lords by whom they were worn, or wielded. To the state of the monument itself, we have already alluded;[307] and judging from that of its prostrate or dislocated compartments, the sculpture must have been among the best specimens of its day, and employed on materials worthy to transmit the family names to posterity; for it is of rare and variegated marble, and appears to have been, according to monkish—but in contempt of all classical—taste, elaborately gilded.

It has been regretted by visitors, that a tomb, in which are deposited the remains of a nobleman—to whom the credit of a renowned invention unquestionably belongs—should not be restored, or at least repaired. By others, who regard it merely as an example of the Arts at that early period, it is only a broken link in the chain of sepulchral associations, which the skill and pencil of the artist can readily supply. There might, indeed, be an appearance of inconsistency—a want of harmony—in restoring the old family sepulchre, while the Castle itself is left to destruction. In certain conditions and situations, a fragment is more interesting than the original monument; and such, perhaps, is the only interest which that in question ought to excite. But with regard to the noble dust, we need only say—

“Adieu, and take thy praise with thee to heaven;
Thy ignominy sleep with thee in the grave,
But not remembered in thy epitaph.”

The family residence, more immediately connected with that of Raglan, and to which, in the course of this article, special attention was directed in our notice of the royal visit to the Marquess of Worcester, is—

Troy House.—This name—which the King was so much pleased to use as a classical synonyme, in his acknowledgment of the fruits which it had furnished for the royal table while at Raglan—is so called from its situation on the river Trothy. The village of Mitchell Troy, about a mile and a half from Monmouth, contains a church dedicated to St. Michael; but the chief object to which the tourist’s eye is directed is the baronial mansion above-named. The house, which was already in high repute at the time of the King’s visit to{236} Raglan, was built by Inigo Jones, who, in the suite of Christian IV. of Denmark, came back to England in 1606. In consequence of the patronage of James the First—and more particularly of his Queen—he was induced to settle in the metropolis; and hence originated the sacred, regal, and aristocratic edifices which bear his name. He was consequently appointed one of the commissioners for repairing St. Paul’s Cathedral; but this was not commenced until the spring of 1623. In the following reign he was much employed in preparing Masques for the entertainment of the court, and in building the Banqueting-house at Whitehall; but while thus engaged, he fell under the displeasure of Ben Jonson, who ridiculed him on the stage, and made him the subject of his epigrammatic muse. Jones realized a handsome fortune; but being a Roman Catholic, and a partisan of royalty, he suffered severely in the Civil War. At length, worn out with sorrow and physical sufferings, he died in July, 1652, leaving behind him many monuments of his genius, of which the subject under notice was not the least considerable.[308]

The fame of Troy House, however, depends less on the fact of its being the work of Inigo Jones, than upon the celebrity of its gardens—the fruits of which are still said to vie with those of tropical growth.[309] The excellence of these fruits, as already noticed, caused the King to remark, “That the Sovereign of the Planets had now changed the poles; and that Wales, the outcast of England’s fine gardens, had fairer and riper fruits than England’s valleys had in all her beds.” Sir Charles Somerset, sixth son of the fourth Earl of Worcester, married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir William Powel of Troy and Llanpylt, and added the influence of a considerable estate to that of the house of Worcester. It was from his gardens that the dessert for the royal table at Raglan was supplied.

In the picture gallery of Troy House is a large and beautiful portrait of the first Marquess of Worcester, by Sir Peter Lely. He is represented in an open field, seated before a tent, with the Marchioness and an infant daughter by her side, and wears a fancy dress, with a scarf over his right shoulder—the ribbon and badge of the Garter. The other portraits are those of the Ducal house of Beaufort, since its creation in 1682.

The situation of this hereditary mansion is too low to produce a striking feature in the landscape; but it commands very agreeable views of the town of Monmouth and its environs—with the rivers Monnow and Wye, whose waters unite and form one channel a short distance below Troy House.{237}

Grosmont, from which the lords of Raglan take the rank of Viscount, is entitled to a brief notice in this place. In old writings it is spelt Grysmond, and contains a population of about eight hundred. The parish church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is in the patronage of the Prince of Wales. In the churchyard, in the east wall of the chancel, is a monumental slab, said to cover the remains of Kent, or Gwent, a Franciscan monk, whose wonderful achievements in the early part of the fourteenth century[310] afford materials for many local traditions. According to one of these, the inhabitants are indebted to this good neighbourly monk for the bridge over the Monnow, on the road to Kentchurch in Herefordshire. It is called John of Kent’s Bridge, and is said to have been built in one night.

The Castle of Grosmont is a picturesque ruin.[311] It stands on a height commanding the view of a beautiful valley watered by the river Monnow, and bounded by Craig Savenny and the Garway Hill. The remains of this ancient castle occupy the summit of this hill, or rather eminence; its ivied walls, partly impending over the precipitous banks of the river, and towering at intervals through a grove of wide-spreading oaks, render the view extremely picturesque.

“By Grysmond’s ruins, scarred with years,
On yonder roofless turret standing,
How rich—how beautiful appears
The scene beneath my eye expanding!
The oak’s green banner clothes the steep,
There—herds and harvests bless the Giver;
And there, in many a crystal sweep,
Descends the Monnow’s classic river!
And here—if e’er romance be found
To love the vale or haunt the mountain—
Here is her home, with ivy bound,
And here her grot, and crystal fountain.
And here—to him who seeks repose,
By sorrow worn, or passion driven—
Here is a refuge from his woes,
And here sweet intercourse with Heaven!” &c.

Monmouth.—Of this ancient town and its Castle, the limits prescribed to the present work will not permit us to indulge in any minute description. But before entering upon the Abbey of Llanthony—the next subject for illustration—the birthplace of Henry the Fifth is entitled to a general notice. The bridge over the Monnow, with its ancient gate-house at the west end, is, perhaps, the most striking feature of the place. Two other bridges, one over the{238} Trothy, and a third over the Wye, contribute in no small degree to heighten the picturesque effect, as the stranger perambulates the scene and recalls the many interesting facts, connected with Monmouth and its vicinity, which to history and romance have given an early and permanent lustre.

The Castle—of which so little remains that its original appearance can only be described by reference to the historical fragments that still mark the spot—is of unquestionable antiquity. It is supposed to have been built—or rather perhaps rebuilt—by John of Monmouth, whose adherence to the Barons cost him his estate, but contributed to the success of the cause in which he had embarked. The King having created his son Earl of Lancaster, this estate was annexed to the earldom. The Castle became a favourite residence of John of Gaunt, to whom it descended by his marriage with Blanche, daughter of Henry of Monmouth, Duke of Lancaster. It was in this Castle that the unfortunate Edward the Second was confined when taken prisoner by his Queen Isabella.[312]

But the glory of the place is its association with Henry V., son of Henry of Bolingbroke, who was born here,[313] and whose name and renown are so familiar to every reader of our national history and the drama. His dissipated habits while Prince of Wales, and his glorious achievements in the conquest of France, have been so inimitably portrayed by Shakspeare, that he still seems to live in our own age—in the country which his worth and valour adorned—and to be as agreeably associated with our familiar recollections as the most illustrious characters of our own day. His good-humoured dissipation and pleasantry in youth, became the foil to his subsequent greatness; and was probably as much the origin of that strong admiration with which he is still regarded, as his general talents, or the splendour of those victories, to which his personal courage and address so mainly contributed. At the time, as the reader may recollect, when the French realm was torn asunder by the opposing factions of the Dukes of Orleans and Burgundy, Henry took the favourable moment for reviving the claims of his predecessors upon France. Placing himself at the head of his army, he landed at Harfleur, and with only fifteen thousand men, opposed to upwards of fifty thousand, won the battle of Agincourt, and returned to England covered with renown. Apart from the splendour, however, which attended the campaign, it has been justly remarked that his reign was more brilliant than beneficial; for whilst his triumph entailed great misery on France, it “did more harm than good” to the true interests of England.[314] But his life was short—too short for maturing the plans he had in view for consolidating the fruits of a brief but eventful career; and while his{239} greatest projects seemed to be advancing to a successful issue, Henry of Monmouth was suddenly cut off at the age of thirty-four.

The connection of this gallant prince and sovereign with Monmouth, invests it with a lasting claim to veneration on the part of those tourists who judge of the soil by the character of its products. In the words of Fluellen, “All the water in Wye cannot wash your Majesty’s Welsh plood out of your pody;” nor, we may add, weaken a single link of that chain which connects the hero of Agincourt with the history of Monmouth.

The Bridge, of which a cut is here introduced, was erected by Edward the First in 1272. Surmounting the Saxon gateway is a room, used as a guard-room or a magazine; and immediately above the arch are three loopholes, made by the authorities of the place, when, at a very recent period, they apprehended a sudden irruption of Chartists from Newport.

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During the civil war, Monmouth was justly considered as a position of vast importance. After the defeat of the King’s army at Marston Moor, Prince Rupert directed his attention to the marches of Wales. He resolved to fortify Beachley, and with troops of horse to secure the isthmus between the rivers Severn and Wye; but in this attempt he was out-manœuvred by Colonel Massey. Lieut.-Colonel Kyrle afterwards negotiated with Massey to deliver up the town of Monmouth, then held for the King. Having revolted from the Parliamentary army on the loss of Bristol, he was willing to purchase reconciliation at the price of Monmouth. He proposed to Colonel Massey to feign a sudden return with his forces from Beachley to Gloucester, when he agreed to{240} make a sortie from Monmouth, as if to fall on his rear, which might then drive him back, and in the pursuit enter the town with him. Massey, accordingly, gave out the necessity of a retreat; and having marched three miles, lodged his troops in the Forest of Dean. This was no sooner reported at Monmouth, than Kyrle drew out his men to follow in the rear of Massey. Accordingly, about a mile from Colford, he was surprised by Massey, and all his horsemen were led towards Monmouth. But the town having been alarmed by an officer who had escaped, the garrison were on the alert; yet, as Kyrle himself advanced to the drawbridge with a hundred horse, and pretended to be returning with many prisoners, the officers and soldiers were thrown off their guard; and with the consent of the governor, Colonel Holtby, the drawbridge was lowered, and the town was entered. “The governor and most of the garrison escaped, some prisoners were made, and the rest were put to the sword.”

The loss of Monmouth, so justly considered the key of South Wales, alarmed the garrison of Raglan Castle. The old Marquess called in the assistance of Prince Rupert’s cavalry, which obtained some advantages over the flying parties of Massey, but could not disturb his possession of Monmouth, in which he was strongly fortified.

Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose name gives additional lustre to the place, was also a native of this town. He is supposed to have been educated in the ancient Benedictine Priory, founded by Wihenoc de Monmouth, in the reign of Henry the First. A small chamber of the ancient monastery has long been shown to inquisitive tourists, as the library of Geoffrey. The apartment bears in the ceiling and windows certain traces of former magnificence; but the art is of a later period than the first Henry’s reign, and probably contemporary with that of Tinterne. Geoffrey, whose fame as the historian of Britain takes precedence of all his contemporaries, was archdeacon of his native town, and subsequently, through the patronage of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, and Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln—both renowned as the friends of learning—promoted to the bishopric of St. Asaph. His history is considered to be a vitiated translation of the “Annals of the British Kings,” written by St. Thalian, Bishop of St. Asaph, who flourished in the seventh century. It is very entertaining, and forms an epoch in the literature of this country, being almost the first production which introduced that species of composition called Romance. “Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History,” says Campbell in his elaborate Essay on English Poetry, “was not a forgery, but derived from an Armorican original, and with the pseudo-Turpin’s Life of Charlemagne, was the grand historical magazine of the romancers. Popular songs,” he adds, “about Arthur and Charlemagne—or, as some will have it, Charles Martel—were probably the main sources of Turpin’s forgeries, and of Geoffrey’s Armorican book.{241}

In Geoffrey will be found the affecting history of Lear,[315] King of Britain, who divided his kingdom between Gonerilla and Regan, his two elder daughters, and disinherited his youngest daughter Cordelia. Hence Shakspeare drew his incomparable tragedy of “King Lear,” but improved the pathos of the story by making the death of Cordelia precede that of Lear; while in the original, the aged father is restored to his kingdom, and Cordelia survives him. Milton also was indebted to Geoffrey of Monmouth for his beautiful fiction of Sabrina in the “Mask of Comus.” But to return to the scene under notice:—

The Priory, of which little remains, was a cell belonging to the Benedictine Monastery of Saumur in Anjou; and in this, as we have said, the renowned Geoffrey is believed to have prosecuted his studies. By some writers he is called a monk of the Dominican order; but, according to Leland, the fact has never been established; nor have we any sure grounds for believing that, as others report, he attained the dignity of Cardinal under the Holy See. He has higher claims to the reverential remembrance of posterity, than either a monk’s cowl or a cardinal’s hat. But notwithstanding his reputed Treatise on the Holy Sacrament, and poetical Commentaries on Merlin, his fame must ever rest on the original, or translated, History[316] of Britain, to which we have already alluded.

Queen Elizabeth, we are told, was fond of tracing her descent from the British line; and Spenser, in his “Faërie Queen,” introduces his Chronicle of Briton Kings, from Brut to Arthur, with the following address:—

“Thy name, oh Soveraine Queene, thy realme and race,
From this renowned Prince derived arre,
Who mightily upheld that royal mace,
Which now thou bear’st, to thee descended farre,
From mighty Kings and Conquerors in warre.
Thy fathers and thy grandfathers of old,
Whose noble deeds above the northern starre,
Immortal Fame for ever hath enrolled,
As in that Old Man’s book they were in order told.”

Near the bridge of the Monnow stands the ancient—

Church of St. Thomas. The simplicity of its form—to quote the historian{242} of the place—the circular shape of the door, the arch separating the nave from the chancel, the ornaments of which bear a Saxon character, seem to indicate that it was constructed before the Conquest. The western window and some of the other apertures—which are ornamented Gothic—have been evidently formed since the original foundation.

Monmouth, the Blestium of Antoninus, is supposed to have been the site of a Roman station. We know, from historical records, that it was a fortress in early times, and one of the strongholds occupied by the Saxons to maintain their conquests between the Severn and the Wye, and check the incursions of the Welsh. The town appears to have been fortified with a wall and a moat, except where it was secured by the river. At the Leland’s Survey, parts of the dilapidated walls were still remaining, the moat entire, the four gates standing, which he calls the Monk’s Gate, to the north; the Eastern Gate; the Wyegate; and the Monnow or Western Gate. At present there are few or no distinct vestiges of the walls; and the only part of the moat which can be traced, was pointed out as that stretching from the back of Whitecross Street to the remains of an ancient gateway, and thence to the Wye. Of the four gates mentioned by Leland, that called the Monk’s Gate, which stood near the Hereford road, is now demolished. Parts of two round towers which flanked the eastern gate are visible. Of the latter no traces are left. But that over the Monnow, as shown in the preceding cut, is nearly entire, and bears the marks of very great antiquity. It was the opinion of a celebrated historian of the place, that the circular arches, the massive solidity of the structure, and some minuter features, were sufficient to remove all doubts as to its Saxon origin; and that the alterations it underwent in the time of the first Edward, were only repairs executed in conformity with the original plan. But as this is not a field for antiquarian disquisitions—but only a record of opinions generally received—we are content to follow the popular belief, and assign to it a date somewhat anterior to that of the Conquest.

Of Monmouth, Churchyard sings:—

“The Kinge here borne did prove a peerless Prince;
He conquered France and reigned nine yeares in hap;
There was not here so great a victor since,
That had such chaunce and fortune in his lap.
For he by fate and force did covet all,
And, as turn came, stroke hard at Fortune’s ball,
With manly mind, and ran a reddie waye
To lose a feint, or winne the gole by playe.
If Monmouth bring such princes forth as this,
A soyle of grace it shall be call’d of right;
Speake what you can, a happie seat it is,
A trim shiere town for noble Baron or Knight;{243}
A cittie sure, as free as is the best,
Where ’Size is kept, and learned lawyers rest;
Such auncient wise, in meete and wholesome ayre,
Where the best sort of people do repayre.”

Kymin Hill, on the south-east side of Monmouth, commands one of the finest views in the kingdom. To this enchanting prospect, the celebrated lines by Dyer may be applied with little alteration:—

“Now I gain the mountain’s brow—
What a landscape lies below!
No clouds, no vapours intervene;
But the gay, the open scene,
Does the face of Nature show
In all the hues of heaven’s bow;
And, swelling to embrace the light,
Spreads around beneath the sight.
Old castles on the cliffs arise,
Proudly towering in the skies;
Rushing from the woods, the spires
Seem from hence ascending fires.
Half his beams Apollo sheds
On the yellow mountain heads,
Gilds the fleeces of the flocks,
And glitters on the broken rocks.”
“And see the rivers, how they run
Through woods and meads, in shade and sun!
Ever charming, ever new,
When will the landscape tire the view?”

Authorities quoted or referred to in the preceding article on Raglan Castle and its vicinity:—Dugdale—Camden—Collins’ Peerage—Speed—Hollinshed—Williams’ Monmouth—Grafton—Robert of Gloucester—Illustrations of British History—Peck’s Curiosa—Stow—Winwood—Manners and Customs of England—Pictorial History—Memoirs of the Court of James I.—Osborne’s Memoirs—Evelyn’s Diary—Strutt—Somers’ Tracts—Howel’s Letters—Barber’s Tour—Bayly’s Apophthegms of the Marquess of Worcester—Churchyard—Wood’s Rivers of Wales—Thomas’ Raglan—Carne—Archæological Journal—Clarendon’s History—Certamen Religiosum—Ellis’s Original Letters—Memoirs of Swift—Carlyle—Parliamentary Papers—Mercurius Civicus—Edwards—The Family History—History of the Civil War—Chronicles—Rushworth’s Papers—Lodge’s Illustrations—County History and Local Descriptions—Sir R. Colt Hoare—Coxe—Notes of a Personal Visit to Raglan—Communications from Correspondents, etc.—See Appendix.




Mongst Hatteril’s lofty hills, that with the clouds are crowned,
The valley Ewias lies immured so steep and round,
As they believe that see the mountains rise so high,
Might think the straggling herds were grazing in the sky;
Which in it such a shape of solitude doth bear,
As Nature at the first appointed it for prayer;
Where in an aged cell, with moss and ivy grown,
In which not to this day the sun hath ever shone;
That reverend British Saint, in zealous ages past,
In contemplation lived, and did so truly fast,
As he did only drink what crystal Hodney yields,
And fed upon the leeks he gathered in the fields.
In memory of whom, in the revolving year,
The Welshmen on his day that sacred herb do wear!”—Drayton.

SAINT DAVID, uncle of the renowned King Arthur, and titular Saint of Wales, was the first who introduced the rites of Christian worship into these mountain solitudes. Selecting for his hermitage a spot which had all the characteristics of a rude and unfrequented wilderness, he built a chapel on the banks of the Honddy—the stream by which it was watered—and there spent many years of his life in the exercise of an austere devotion. The reputation of his sanctity having spread over the surrounding country brought many pilgrims to his cell; and when at length he was added to the list of canonized saints, it was still resorted to as a place long consecrated by the practice of a holy life.

In the reign of William Rufus—as attested by the Abbey records—the hallowed retreat was thus discovered. Hugh de Laci, a great Norman baron, having on a hunting excursion followed the deer into this secluded valley, sat down at the conclusion of the chase to refresh himself and his attendants. The wildness and beauty of the scenery around them appeared to have affected their minds with unwonted impressions; and the accidental visit was thus prolonged for the sake of the rude but romantic valley which the morning’s adventure had so unexpectedly thrown open.

[Image unavailable.]

The Nave.

Llanthony Abbey.


William, one of the Baron’s retainers, feeling oppressed by the heat of the weather, and fatigued by the roughness of the mountain tract through which they had passed, gladly threw himself down on the soft grass to seek a few minutes’ repose. But the novelty and grandeur of the scene awakening his curiosity, he was tempted to make a hasty survey of the spot; and turning towards the river, that here and there filled the solitude with its murmurs, he caught a glimpse of the little chapel with which St. David had hallowed the scene. Suddenly inspired with religious enthusiasm, he felt an irresistible inclination to linger near the spot; and at last, dismissing his attendants, he took up his new abode in the desert; and, like his devout predecessor, consecrated his life to the service of God, or rather to the contemplation of divine things. He laid aside his belt—says the recording monk of Llanthony—and girded himself with a rope. Instead of fine linen, he made unto himself a vestment of haircloth; and instead of a soldier’s cloak, he loaded himself with heavy iron. The suit of armour which, in his warrior life, had defended him from the weapons of the enemy, he now wore as a garment highly suitable for hardening him against the temptations of his old enemy, Satan. So that the outer man being thus mortified by austerity, the inner man might become day by day better disposed and purified for the service of God. And in order that his zeal might not cool, adds the pious historian, he thus sacrificed himself, and continued to wear his hard armour, until the iron and steel were absolutely worn out with rust and age.

In this manner the devout ascetic spent his years, which otherwise might have been devoted, like those of his kinsmen, to acts of plunder and bloodshed; and it only leaves room for regret that his example was not more generally followed by his companions, whose armour, unfortunately for mankind, was never suffered to “rust;” and who often, at that period, transformed the beautiful Welsh frontier into a wide battle-field. The austerity of his life, witnessed by the rust on his armour, established his reputation for sanctity; and the cell that harboured a pious philosopher, was soon regarded as a shrine where he maintained constant intercourse with those angels and blessed spirits, whose office was to watch over the saints of that early day.

His fame becoming general among the religious fraternities, Father Ernesi, confessor to Queen Maude, was induced to make a pilgrimage to the Honddy; and there, entering into a holy alliance with the steel-clad hermit, he set immediately to work, and with most laudable industry erected a chapel on the spot, which was consecrated by Urban, Bishop of the Diocese, and Rammeline, Bishop of Hereford, and dedicated to the honour of St. John the Baptist, whose solitary life in the wilderness they affected to imitate.

Soon after this event, in the early history of Llanthony, Hugh de Laci,{246} Earl of Hereford, listening to the ghostly exhortation of Ernesi, to evince his faith by good works, founded a Priory of Canons-Regular of the Order of St. Augustine, and placed it with all solemnity, as in the former instance, under the patronage of the blessed St. John. Of this new establishment, Father Ernesi, as he had a good right to expect, was elected Prior. This was the commencement of a new and important era for the fame of Llanthony, which, under the united management of the twain brothers—both in the odour of sanctity—acquired daily reputation, and drew to its sacred precincts some of the greatest men of the realm. The temporal affairs of the rising Abbey attained unwonted prosperity by the personal countenance and support of King Henry and his Queen, who were but too happy to exchange a portion of their superfluous wealth for an interest in the prayers of that holy brotherhood, who had elevated the banks of the Honddy to a near relationship with Heaven, and held in their hands—as it was currently believed—the “title-deeds of rich and extensive settlements in Paradise. And as the latter were assigned, without partiality, to the highest bidder,” the proceeds for masses alone—we speak not ironically but historically—increased the annual revenues to an amount that, in those times, was justly considered a fair proof of monastic prosperity. On the other hand, it is piously averred, that such was the disinterestedness and unworldly-mindedness of the brotherhood, that they despised everything that bore not the stamp of spiritual riches—that they declined all offers of lands, goods, and chattels, that were liberally tendered to their house.[317] In that case it seems probable that the Abbey of Llanthony was not erected in the ordinary way; that is, by dint of money, but by the force of miracles; and, like a certain city of old, was conjured into its fair and lofty proportions by the powers of Harmony. But after duly weighing the question, the evidence in favour of money seems conclusive; and indeed certain scripta are now extant to show that the brotherhood of Llanthony were not less sensible of the value of money—as a spiritual means—than any of their illustrious fraternity. But it may be said, with much truth, that the uses to which their money was applied, produced those “miracles” of Art, which it is the object of this work to illustrate.

[It is always to be kept in view, that these holy men, in professing poverty, were, literally, personally poor. The riches, of which they were merely the guardians—but which are so often charged against them as proofs of their avarice—were expended on the house of God; in other words, in fostering the arts, in relieving the poor, in practical hospitality, and in cultivating a niggardly soil. Personally, they were poor trustees upon a vast property, which{247} they were bound to employ for the glory of God and the good of mankind; and if, in some cases that may be named, the funds thus contributed by the pious were perverted to less laudable purposes, the fact that, in general, they were applied to the excellent uses contemplated by the testators, is not to be controverted. The churches, hospitals, almshouses, cells, and priories, which were thus founded, built, and endowed from these sources, are proofs of the fidelity, good sense, and Christian philanthropy, with which the church property was then administered.]

Once upon a time, as the Monkish historian has told us, the Queen of King Henry, who desired to bestow a boon on William, of whose entire disinterestedness she was not apprised, desired permission to put her hand into his bosom;[318] and when, with great modesty, the holy man submitted to her importunity, she conveyed a large purse of gold between his coarse chemise and iron boddice; and thus, by a pleasant and innocent subtilty, administered, as she imagined, the means of comfort. But, oh, his wonderful contempt of the world! He displayed a rare example that the truest happiness is found to consist in possessing little or nothing of the good things of this life. He accepted, indeed, the Queen’s gift; but it was only that it might be expended, not in any worldly or selfish gratification, but in beautifying the house of God.

But having by this act overcome the scrupulous delicacy with which he had hitherto resisted the temptation of riches, they now flowed in from every quarter, until that noble edifice was completed, the mouldering Nave of which is represented in the engraving opposite.[319]

Of the situation of the Abbey, a very picturesque and glowing description, in good Latin, is given by the old historian, who paints the wild scenery, in which the first hermits took up their abode, with the pencil of a Salvator.[320] The following translation, though from a modern pen, is also a picturesque and not inaccurate sketch of the scene, which retains all the natural features ascribed to it by the first writer; but with one engrossing feature superadded—that of a stately abbey in the last stage of desolation—its towers and arches bearing witness to the arts employed in its construction, and the sacred objects of its{248} foundation. In the following passage, Giraldus alludes to the Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin[321] in 1188.

“In the deep Vale of Ewyas,” he writes, “which is about an arrow-shot in breadth, encircled on all sides by lofty mountains, stands the church of St. John the Baptist, covered with lead, and an arched roof of stone; and considering the nature of the place, not unhandsomely constructed on the very spot where the humble chapel of St. David had formerly stood, decorated only with moss and clay, a situation truly calculated for religious retirement, and better adapted for canonical discipline than all the monasteries of the British isle. It was founded, as already observed, by two hermits, in honour of religious seclusion, far removed from the bustle of life, and planted in a solitary vale watered by the river Hodeni—from which it was called Lanhodeni; for lan signifies an ecclesiastical place.[322]

“Owing to its mountainous situation, the rains are frequent, the winds boisterous, and the clouds in winter almost continual. The air of the place, though heavy, is found to be salubrious; and diseases are so rare, that the brotherhood, when worn out with long toil and affliction with the daughter—that is, New Llanthony on the Severn—no sooner return to this asylum, and their mother’s lap in the Vale of Ewyas, than they regain their wonted strength and vigour. For, as my topographical history of Ireland testifies, in proportion as we proceed to the eastward, the face of the sky is more pure and subtile, and the air more piercing and inclement; and as we draw nearer to the westward, the air becomes more cloudy, but, at the same time, is more temperate and healthy.

“Here, while sitting in their cloister, and enjoying the fresh air, the monks, when they happen to look up towards the horizon, behold the tops of the mountains, as it were, touching the heavens, and herds of wild deer feeding on their summits. The body of the sun does not become visible above the heights of the mountains, even in serene weather, until about the first hour, or a little more. Truly this is a spot well adapted for contemplation—a happy and delightful spot—fully competent, from its first establishment, to supply all its own wants, had not the extravagance of English luxury, the pride of a sumptuous table, the increasing growth of intemperance and ingratitude, added to the negligence of its patrons and prelates, reduced it from freedom to sterility; and if the step-daughter [Lanthonia Secunda], no less enviously than odiously, had not supplanted her mother.{249}

It seems worthy of remark, that all the priors who were hostile to the old monastery died ‘by Divine visitation.’ William, who first despoiled the place of its herds and storehouses, being deposed by the fraternity, forfeited his right of sepulture among the priors. Clement seemed to like this place of study and prayer; yet, after the example of Heli [Eli], the priest, as he neither reproved nor restrained his brethren from plunder, and other offences, he died by a paralytic stroke. And Roger, who was more an enemy to this place than either of his predecessors, and openly carried away everything which they had left behind—robbing the church of its books, ornaments, and privileges—was also struck with a paralytic affection long before his death, resigned his honours, and lingered out the remainder of his days in sickness and solitude.

In the reign of King Henry the First, when the Mother-Church was as much celebrated for her affluence as for her sanctity[323]—two qualities which are seldom found thus united—the fame of so much religion attracted hither Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, who was at that time Prime Minister; for it is virtue to love virtue, even in another man; and a great proof of innate goodness it is to show a detestation of those vices which hitherto have not been avoided.

When he had reflected with admiration on the nature of the place, the solitary life[324] of the fraternity, living in canonical obedience, and serving God without a murmur or complaint, he returned to the King, and related to him what he thought most worthy of remark; and after spending the greater part of the day in the praises of this place, he finished his panegyric with these words—“Why should I say more? The whole treasure of the King and his kingdom would not be sufficient to build such a cloister.”

Having held the minds of the King and the Court for a long time in suspense by this assertion, he at length explained the enigma, by saying, that he alluded to the “cloister of mountains,” by which this church is on every side environed. But

William—the warrior who first discovered this place—and his companion Ernisius, a priest, having heard, perhaps—as it is written in the Fathers, according to the opinion of Jerome—“that the church of Christ decreased in virtues as it increased in riches”—were often used devoutly to solicit the Lord, that this place might never obtain great possessions. They were exceedingly concerned when this religious foundation began to be enriched by its first lord and patron, Hugh de Lacy, and by the lands and ecclesiastical benefices con{250}ferred upon it by the bounty of others of the faithful. From their predilection to poverty, they rejected a great many offers of manors and churches; and being situated in a wild spot, they would not suffer the thick and wooded parts of the valley to be cultivated and levelled, lest they should be tempted to recede from their eremitical mode of life.

But whilst the Mother-Church increased daily in riches and endowments, a rival Daughter—as we shall see—availing herself of the hostile state of the country, sprang up at Gloucester, under the protection of Milo, Earl of Hereford; as if, by Divine Providence, and through the merits of the saints, and prayers of those holy men (of whom two lie buried before the high altar), it were destined that the Daughter-Church should be founded in superfluities, whilst the Mother continued in that laudable state of mediocrity, which she had always affected and coveted.

“Wherefore let the active reside there, the contemplative here; there the pursuit of terrestrial wishes, and here the love of celestial delights; there let them enjoy the concourse of men, here the presence of angels; there let the powerful of this world be entertained, here let the poor of Christ be relieved; there, I say, let human actions and pompous declamations be heard, but here let reading and prayers be heard only in whispers; there let opulence, the parent and nurse of vice, increase with cares; here let the virtuous and golden mean be all-sufficient.

“In both places, the canonical discipline instituted by St. Augustine, which is now distinguished above all other orders, is observed; for the Benedictines, when their wealth was increased by the fervour of charity, and multiplied by the bounty of the faithful, under the pretext of a bad dispensation, corrupted, by gluttony and indulgence, our Order—that is, the Augustinian—which, in its original state of poverty, was held in high estimation. The Cistercian order, derived from the former, at first deserved praise and commendation, from its adhering voluntarily to the original vows of poverty and sanctity, until ambition, the blind mother of mischief, unable to fix bounds to prosperity, was introduced; for as Seneca[325] says, ‘Too great happiness makes men greedy, nor are their desires ever so temperate as to terminate in what is acquired.’

Here the author, as if to contrast them with those of Llanthony Prima, indulges in a learned and eloquent apostrophe against the luxury and pride of several orders of monks. He concludes it with this anecdote: “I have judged it proper to insert in this place an instance of an answer which King Richard—Cœur de Lion—made to Fulke, a good and holy man, by whom God, in these our days, has wrought many signs in the kingdom of France. This man had,{251} among other things, said to the king, “You have three daughters, namely, Pride, Luxury, and Avarice, and as long as they shall remain with you, you can never expect to be in favour with God.” To which the king, after a short pause, replied, “I have already given away those daughters in marriage—Pride to the Templars, Luxury to the Black Monks, and Avarice to the White.”[326]

“It is a remarkable circumstance,” he continues, “or rather a miracle, concerning Llanthony, that although it is on every side surrounded by lofty mountains, not stony or rocky, but of a soft nature, and covered with grass, yet Parian stones are frequently found there, and are called Freestones, from the facility with which they admit of being cut and polished; and with these the church is beautifully built. It is also wonderful, that when, after a diligent search, all the stones have been removed from the mountains, and no more can be found; yet, upon another search, a few days afterwards, they reappear in greater quantities to those who seek them.”

After some farther remarks on the manners of the monastic orders, the venerable author thus beautifully concludes:—“In these temperate regions I have obtained, according to the usual expression, a place of dignity, but no great omen of future pomp or riches; and possessing a small residence near the castle of Brecheinoc [Brecknock?], well adapted to literary pursuits, and to the contemplation of eternity,[327] I envy not the riches of Crœsus; happy and contented with that mediocrity, which I prize far beyond all the perishable and transitory things of this world.”

So far the monk of Llanthony—whose partiality is very excusable; but, unfortunately, the act or charter of Edward IV., uniting the two abbeys, gives a different colouring to the transactions between the two abbeys—mother and daughter. It recites that, owing to the depredations committed on the convent by the neighbouring inhabitants, and the frequent removal of the priors and other members of the convent, the religious functions were negligently performed, and acts of charity and hospitality to strangers no longer exercised: Also, that as John Adams, the prior, had profusely squandered away the revenues of the church, maintaining only four canons besides himself, who paid no attention to the holy duties of the establishment: And whereas all due regard and reverence were paid to the sacred offices of the church by the mem{252}bers of the monastery of new Llanthony near Gloucester, the king hereby grants all the lands—both in England, Wales, and Ireland—now appertaining to the convent of Llanthony in Wales, to the prior of the convent of Llanthony near Gloucester, to have and to hold for ever, on the payment of the fine of three hundred marks, and on condition that he maintains an establishment—dative and removable at will—of a prior and four canons, as the mother-church, for the purpose of performing religious service and mass for the souls of its founders. “Thus,” continues our author,[328] “in the short period of thirty years, we see the simple chapel of St. David transmuted into a spacious and elegant abbey; that same building nearly deserted, and another, still more magnificent, erected and translated from the solitary banks of the little river Hodni, to the rich and luxurious shores of the Severn.”

Milo, Founder of Llanthony Secunda.—Under this head, it is recorded in the Abbey Chronicle, that in the reign of King Henry, son of the Conqueror, there flourished a certain warrior of noble family named Gwalterus, or Walter, who was Constable, under the King, of the Castles of Gloucester and Hereford. The said Walter caused to be erected on his own demesne the Castle of Gloucester, and dying some time thereafter, his remains were conveyed to Llanthony Abbey, in Wales, and there buried. The aforesaid Walter left an only son, Milo by name, whom King Henry created Earl of Hereford; and moreover, by way of augmentation to the said earldom, made over to him and his heirs for ever a grant of the whole Forest of Dean.

This Milo, first earl of the name, took to wife Sibylla, heiress of Brecknock, and daughter of Bernard and Agnes of New March.[329]—The offspring of this marriage were five sons and three daughters, namely, Roger, Henry, Walter, Matthew, and William, Margery, Bertha, and Lucy. He founded the Abbey or Priory of New Llanthony, near Gloucester, on the 25th of May, 1136, being the first of King Stephen’s reign; and dying on Christmas-eve, 1143, was buried in the chancel of the Abbey which he had founded seven years before. After his demise, he was succeeded in his titles and estates by each of his five sons, one after the other; but all of whom died without legitimate issue. Hereupon his possessions were shared in equal proportions by his three surviving daughters.[330] Lucy, his third daughter, was married to Herbert Fitz-Herbert, and had for her share and dowry the Forest of Dean, and other estates in England.[331] The offspring of this marriage was a son named Peter, who became the father of a long line of descendants.{253}

Bertha, second daughter of Count Milo, married William de Brewes, and took for dowry the lordship of Brecknock. The offspring from this marriage were three sons, William, Egidius, and Reginald. William, their eldest son and heir, in the time of King John, having made war upon his enemy Guenhunewyn, subdued him, and slew no less than three thousand Welsh in one day at Elvel. This battle took place on the morrow of St. Lawrence the Martyr, in the year of our Lord 1498. But for this rebellious act he was disinherited by King John; and, without trial, condemned to quit the realm of England. He died in exile; while his unhappy wife and their only son, being thrown into prison by the same heartless and arbitrary power, died shortly after in captivity.

Egidius, the second son, became Bishop of Hereford; and Reginald de Brewes, the third son, after the death of King John, and that of his two brothers the afore-named William and Egidius, was pronounced heir to all the possessions which had been forfeited by his brother William, and took possession of the same accordingly. He married a daughter of William de la Bruere, and had by his wife a son whom he named William de Brewes, quartus. The latter espoused the lady Eve, daughter of the renowned William, Earl Marshall, so frequently mentioned in these pages.[332] By this union he had issue four daughters—Isabella, Matilda, Eve, and Alionora. Of these, Isabella was married to David, son of Llewellyn, Prince of Wales.

But at a great festival where he presided, immediately after the Paschal Feast, in 1229, Llewellyn conceiving a bitter jealousy between his wife and the said William de Brewes, most treacherously caused the latter to be ignominiously hanged—an atrocity which threw the whole Welsh frontier into the greatest confusion and alarm; for at that time King Henry was still in France with a large army; and in his absence the country was but ill provided with the means of enforcing the law.

Matilda, the second daughter, married Roger Mortimer, Lord Wigmore, from whom sprang a numerous progeny. Eve, the third daughter, married William de Cartello. Alionora, the fourth and youngest, married Humphrey de Bohun, with the lordship of Brecknock, which for some time had belonged to the Counts or Earls of Hereford. Among the names here mentioned, those of Bertha and Lucy, daughters of Milo, are to be held in special reverence as eminent patrons and benefactors of New Llanthony.

And here, for the present, we take leave of the genealogical table, which exhibits in many striking examples the instability of fortune, the frailty of human nature, the vanity of riches, and the uncertain tenure of life.{254}

CHARTERS.—The following is an extract from the charter of King John, in the first year of his reign, wherein all grants previously made in favour of Llanthony are recited and confirmed:—

Know all men by these presents, that I, John, King of England, have, out of love to God, confirmed in perpetual offering to God, to the Blessed Virgin, St. John the Baptist, and the Canons-Regular of Lantonay, the donations or grants hereunder described, which have been reasonably and lawfully conceded to them, viz.: By deed of gift from our father the late King Henry, the chapel near the Castle of Gloucester, the school in the same town, a moiety of the fishery of Horsepol, which is in our domain, with iiij lib. of land in the manor of Bernington, as alms in perpetuity.”—So much for the new Abbey near Gloucester.

He then recites and confirms the benefactions of Hugh and Walter de Laci, consisting of lands, woods, fisheries, villages, houses, and whatever property in those times was essential to the prosperity of a great religious establishment. It is a long deed; and, besides those already noticed, introduces a full list of benefactors, whose names and families—though of great note and influence at that day—have long vanished from the political horizon, and are seldom found but in ancient title-deeds, or charters like the present, in which their good works are faithfully and minutely registered.

It is to be observed, however, that after the establishment of New Llanthony on the Severn, the benefactions to the Mother-Abbey are few and insignificant. The former, under the patronage of the Milo family, became suddenly rich, and able to introduce those embellishments of art, and that luxurious mode of life, which opened a wide channel for the diffusion of its revenues; but while it increased its splendour, insured its ultimate poverty.

By a Deed given by Edward the Second, in the eighteenth year of his reign, the property conveyed to Llanthony by Walter de Laci and others, is again revised and confirmed. He grants also permission to elect from their own body, or from any other, as they may see meet, a fit person to preside over the Church and Priory of Llanthony, whenever a vacancy occurs, concluding—“Et ut hæc libertas eligendi eis in perpetuum perseveret illibata, huic scripto Sigillum meum est appositum.”

The Deed given by Walter and Hugh de Laci to the Canons of Llanthony is then recited; and by this document a vast amount of property, privileges, arable lands, pastures, fisheries, hunting-grounds, and various other benefactions, are described as finally made over to the Prior and Brotherhood,{255} out of pure love for the glory of God, the welfare of their own souls, the souls of their predecessors, successors, and kinsfolk.

In this munificent grant is comprised the whole valley—‘totam vallem’—of the Ewyas, with all its appurtenances, in which the church is situated; describing, at the same time, its boundaries:—“Et concedo quod habeant omnimodam venationem et dominationem infra metus terræ suæ.” All this is followed by other unquestionable privileges, such as united with the spiritual an amount of despotic power, which invested the Prior and Canons of Llanthony with an authority in things temporal, no way inferior to that exercised by a feudal Baron in his own castle, and over his own vassals.[333]

But in spite of its revenues, and the ‘personal example and influence of a few—but only a few—distinguished members and benefactors of this monastery, it fell gradually into disrepute and decay.’ The principal cause has been generally ascribed to the rival Abbey at Gloucester, by which benefactors were alienated, and good works averted from that on the Honddy. But there were other causes at work—the evil lives of the Priors themselves; their indolence, luxury, and licentiousness; their dissipating the funds, and perverting their use to unsanctified purposes; which did more to degrade monastic habits, and pull down the sacred edifice, than could have been accomplished by their most inveterate enemies. And enemies they certainly had—both formidable and frequent; for they were exposed, by their insulated position and supposed wealth, to irruptions from those bands of marauders, to whom plunder and forced contribution from holy men were more like a pastime than military enterprise. But of this hereafter.{256}

WE are now to give some account of the decline and final dissolution of Llanthony, brought about by causes which are thus recorded by the Latin historian:—Whereas certain priories and religious houses, but more especially the aforesaid Priory of St. John the Baptist of Lanthony Prima in Wales, as well by frequent removals and expulsions of the Priors and occupiers of the places aforesaid, as by divers secular persons and others, tenants of these possessions, were so profligately squandered, dilapidated, and mismanaged, both in regard to their houses, substance, and affairs, that divine service and the regular observance of religious duties have become less frequent than ever; that the means of hospitality, almsgiving, and, above all, the works of piety and charity, which had been there established of old, and customarily done and observed in the place, are now withdrawn and perverted from the original design: And whereas John Adams, Prior of Lanthony, as we are plainly informed, hath wasted and destroyed, and continues to waste and destroy, the fruits, revenues, products, and emoluments of the said Priory; and hath found and supported no Canons, except himself and four others, little given to a religious life; that he hath withdrawn, and does withdraw, the forms of divine worship, works of hospitality, piety, and charity, which were there wont to be done and maintained, according to the original foundation of the same; whereby the vows and intentions of the Founders have been and are so fraudulently perverted, to the manifest offence and great displeasure of Almighty God, and contrary to the design of the Founder: And whereas our will is, that the pious vows of the Founders of the said Priory be not thus shamefully frustrated and forgotten; but in reverence of the salutary order observed by those godly men, the Prior and Canons-Regular of the Monastery of Lanthony, near Gloucester; and observing in what an exemplary manner divine service and punctual observances are every day celebrated therein, with honour and strict obedience, according to the full extent of its revenues: And whereas it is our earnest desire to make suitable provision for the honour of God and his Church, by a restoration of the forms of divine worship, and by application of the revenues left by the Founder to their original and legitimate object: We, therefore, have here, by an act of special grace, granted and conceded to our beloved in Christ, Henry Deen, Prior, etc., of Lanthony, near Gloucester, to that Convent and his successors for ever, the right of patronage, and the advocation of the Priory and Conventual Church of Lanthony, etc., in Wales. Also the Priory, etc., with all members, cells, churches, chapels, domains, lands, and tenements, whatsoever and wheresoever—in England, Wales, and Ireland{257}—as parcels of the said Priory, or in whatever manner belonging thereto; With all rents, etc., to have and to hold by the said Prior and Convent of St. Mary of Lanthony, and their successors—for the sum of three hundred marks, paid to us beforehand—in pure and perpetual alms for ever. And

Moreover, we grant to the said Prior and Convent, the Conventual Church or Monastery of Lanthony in Wales; with the priorate, and all rights, privileges, and appurtenances, to the Prior and Convent of Lanthony, near Gloucester—their Conventual Church and successors—to be consolidated, united, appropriated—to transfer, or to be transferred to their management; and that they possess these in full and proper use for themselves and their successors for ever; together with, etc.

And these things, all and singular, as promised and permitted, consolidated, etc., and transferred to them and their successors aforesaid, to have and to hold for ever, for their proper use, and for masses and prayers to be performed for our prosperity, and that of Elizabeth, our well-beloved consort, so long as we remain in the body; and for the health of our souls when we shall depart this life. Also for the souls of our progenitors; and for the souls of all who have departed this life in the Faith.

And it is hereby ordered, that the Prior of New Lanthony and his Convent, they and their successors, shall exhibit and defray their own and all expenses incurred in the maintenance of Old Lanthony, and the Prior and Canons there resident. That the latter office shall be in the gift of the former, removable at the will and pleasure of the Prior and Convent for the time being. That four Canons[334] shall there reside, for the celebration of masses and other divine offices; and for the administration of the sacraments, and sacramental duties, to the parishioners and rural population, so long as they are not impeded or interrupted therein by the rebellious disturbers of our peace. And to pray for the souls of the Founders of Lanthony Prima, and for the souls above-named;{258} and to be removable at the word or sign of the Prior, for the time being, of New Lanthony aforesaid, etc. etc.—By the King at Westminster, the x day of May.[335]

From this date the Abbey of Old Llanthony, which had been grievously interrupted in its religious duties, and damaged by its own internal misgovernment, the reckless lives of its inmates, and the frequent imposts and exactions to which it was subjected by the rebels and marauders above alluded to, was suffered to fall into decay and disrepute. Its resources, in obedience to the above decree, were drawn off from their legitimate channel, and employed to augment the revenues and foster the pride of its undutiful and “rival Daughter” on the banks of the Severn. Thus—as the old historian has pathetically observed—“Filii Matris meæ pugnaverunt contra me; nam leviùs communia tangunt, sed quodammodo specialiori et tanto atrociori flere, clamando, Filii uteri mei pugnaverunt contra me, quia—

Non sua sunt summa leviter perstricta sagitta
Pectora, descendit vulnus ad ossa suum.”

Yet, after the lapse of centuries, the Abbey of Old Llanthony presents an imposing aspect. In that solitude, over which it was erected for the diffusion of spiritual life and light, it is still an object of venerable grandeur; while of the luxurious temple of “her Daughter,” built on one of the most fertile spots in the kingdom, elaborately ornamented and munificently endowed, the remains are few and insignificant. Thus, if the old monastic fathers could burst their cerements and look around them, they would perceive that Time, the avenger, has drawn a line of as marked distinction between the two monasteries, as between a greater and a lesser criminal; and, by a just and discriminating sentence, consigned one to the plough, and the other to pilgrims and archæologists.[336]

[Image unavailable.]

Llanthony Abbey.

N.W. View.


The wrongs, of which the older monks of Llanthony so justly complained, are thus told by their own pious chronicler:—When the storm subsided, and peace was restored, then did the sons of Llanthony tear up the bounds of their Mother-Church, and refuse to serve God, as their duty required, in the old Sanctuary. For great is the difference, said they, between the rich city of Gloucester, and the wild rocks of the Hatterill—between the fertile vale of Severn, and the craggy banks of the Honddy; between the wealth and civilization of England, and the barren hills and beggarly natives of Wales; between a land of smiling meadows and fertile orchards, and a region of trackless mountains and roaring cataracts; in fine—to justify their desertion—between a home amongst smiling gardens, and a grave in the howling wilderness!

Some of the renegade brethren declared that they wished every stone of the old foundation were a fleet hare and the hounds after it, that not a vestige might be left. Alas, says the ‘Jeremiad,’ they of Gloucester have usurped and lavished all the revenues of the Mother-Church: for their new abode, they have built stately offices; and the old they have left to moulder into ruins. But to avoid the open scandal of deserting their Mother, they send hither, as to a dependent cell, their old and decrepit members to be cherished in that very bosom—fostered in those very arms—which they have insulted by ingratitude, and weakened by wrong and robbery. So great was the poverty to which the few inmates were reduced, that they were actually without surplices, and at times so destitute of raiment that they could not with proper decency appear at divine service. Sometimes the allowance of bread for one day had to serve for two; whilst in the offshoot at Gloucester there was not only enough, but abundance and superfluity. When entreated to return to their Mother, these heartless brethren, who had tasted the sweets of a new residence, and been corrupted by unwonted luxury, only derided their appeal. “What!” they replied, “would you have us return to sing Miserere to the wolves? Do the whelps of wolves delight in choral harmony?” And when any one was sent to Old Llanthony, whether for health or discipline, they would exclaim—“Why, what has he done? what fault has he committed? what law has he broken, that he should be sent into banishment, shut up in such a prison?”—for it was thus that they spoke of the Mother-abbey—calling it a dungeon, a prison-house, fit only for the punishment of great criminals.

In like manner, says the monk, the library was despoiled of its books and MSS.; the record-room of its deeds and charters; the silk vestments and relics,{260} embroidered with gold and silver, were carried away from the vestiary; the treasury was stripped of everything valuable. Whatever was precious or ornamental—even the bells, notwithstanding their great weight, were carried off to the rival abbey without the slightest resistance or redress. It was under these distressing circumstances that King Edward set about effecting the union to which we have adverted.

But there were other causes at work. It is very apparent that the religious peace and contemplation to which it was consecrated, were but rare guests in the old Abbey of Llanthony. Situated on the very border of countries that were mutually engaged in making or repelling aggressions, the sanctity of the place was often invaded by those who returned across the marches from some lawless foray, or by others who entered the Welsh frontiers to make reprisals. The calm serenity which, for a brief season, reigned within and around the sanctuary, was disturbed by continual apprehensions of violence or extortion. The ministering priest was often interrupted in his sacred office by the shouts of armed men. The stranger who had come in pilgrim weeds, confessed, and done penance, was too often found on departure to be a traitor, ready to conduct the next troop of marauders to the gate, and extort fresh contributions from the already impoverished brotherhood.

It is also alleged, with plausibility, that from the Cambrian people—who hated the place because its founders, benefactors, priors, and brotherhood, were aliens by birth, nation, and language—the abbey had no very cordial protection or support. During the long border struggles that preceded and followed its “foundation in the wilderness,” it was the mark of every invading or retreating foe. Instead of Matins and Vespers, and the meditations of holy men, the Vale of Ewias was often the retreat or the rallying point of adventurers, whose Parthian-like movements rendered them equally dangerous in the charge and the retreat. The sanctity and seclusion of the place once disturbed, the spell was broken; outrages were repeated and multiplied with impunity by those who, having no law, were a law unto themselves; and to such extremes were these carried, that the Prior and Canons—habituated as they were, by the rule of their Order, to fasting, and at best to a coarse and scanty fare—were often reduced to the verge of famine.

In one of the numerous expeditions by which the spirit of retaliation was kept up, and by which the religious houses were harassed and plundered, a soldier of the English army writes—“We lie here watching, praying, fasting, and freezing! We watch in dread of the Welsh, who beat up our quarters every night; we pray for a safe passage homeward; we fast, for hardly have{261} we any food, the halfpenny loaf being raised to fivepence; and we freeze for want of clothing, having only a linen tent to keep out the cold!”

If such was the penance done by an officer of the “victorious army,” great must have been the sufferings endured by those who had to supply the “loaf,” as the monks of Llanthony had to do, either in substance or in coin.

While the Abbey was yet faintly struggling to recover a healthy activity in its affairs, its temporal revenues, and spiritual offices, so great a dearth occurred all over Wales, that the Bishop of St. David’s is said to have died of grief; the Bishop of Llandaff to have been stricken blind; while the Bishops of Bangor and St. Asaph, on their sees being rendered utterly destitute, were reduced to the necessity of supplicating alms. The bondage and destitution of the Welsh at this period—the evils of want and war—are thus expressed by an old writer:—“The harp of the churchman is changed into sorrow and lamentation; the glory of our proud and ancient nobility is faded away.”

It was about this time that the Bishop of Hereford, then Prior of Llanthony, the better to rescue them from a gross insult and trespass by a powerful neighbour, and accommodate their numbers to the scanty means of subsistence within the Welsh border, drew off the major part of the canons from Llanthony, and gave them an asylum in his own palace.

[After describing, in graphic language, the distractions of the country, the robbery, violence, murder, and rapine, that were daily perpetrated in their immediate vicinity, and which threatened the very existence of the brotherhood, the flagrant desecration that immediately led to their removal to Hereford is thus recorded:—Est præterea et aliud quod animos innocentium plus omnibus hiis in fixorio angustiarum acerbiùs terrebat. Unus namque ex vicinis Wallensibus inimicorum minis et jaculis undignè impeditus, cùm nullus ei tutus ad latendum vel evadendum locus superesset, c̄ omni domo sua, ad Lanthoniam convolavit; hanc sibi constituens domum Refugii ut salvus fieret, quem inimici odio inexorabili persequentes non longè ab atrio in insidiis sedentes vigilantiùs opportunitatem observabant, quando in eum casu aliquo tandem oblatum irarum virus evomere prævalerent. Ipse verò in interiores officinas, quò securior redderetur, cum suis et ancillis, se ingessit; ità ut ubi Fratres reficere consueverant, ibi mulieres choros ducere, et cætera muliebria, ignominiosè tractare non erubescerent!

Quid facient milites Christi tot hostium cuneis tarn atrociter vallati! Ecce foris pugnæ, et intus timores! Non enim possunt ab intus fratres divinis officiis, præ ingratorum hostium insolentia, consueta veneratione interesse: Luget Martha quia pascere non permittitur: dolet Maria quia sanctæ refectionis epulis privatur; et præterea nimis timet ne in infirmioribus membris suis alicujus culpæ dehonestetur.]


The result of this, after two years’ residence at Hereford, was the foundation of the new monastery at Gloucester; but which it was at first intended should be only a cell, dependent on the Mother-Church on the Honddy. But inured to this species of daily warfare—familiar with the dangers of their position, and strong in the belief that they were objects of regard in the eyes of Him who would assuredly carry them, as he did the faithful of old, through all their troubles—they are said to have left the scene of their trials and privations with reluctance; and to have declared that the gardens of Hereford, and the vineyards of Gloucester, had no attractions for them like the barren rocks of “Ewias and the Honddy:”—

And when at last these holy men,
With lingering step and slow,
Had wound their way along the glen
Where Honddy’s[337] waters flow,
They halted—gazed—and heaved a sigh,
And dropt a parting tear—
“Oh, never till this hour,” they cry,
“Was Ewias’ vale so dear!
Through richer lands our feet may roam—
But long our hearts will pine,
And feel they have no earthly home
But Honddy’s hallowed shrine!
Oh, Blessed Mary, shield us well!
And, when the storm is past,
Grant we beside that hallowed cell
May lay our bones at last.”
The prayer was heard—their labours o’er,
Behold their nameless bier,
Beneath the Chancel’s grassy floor,
Where pilgrims drop the tear!
The simple daisy loves the spot,
And there, the leafy June
Strews many a sweet Forget-me-not
Beneath the dewy moon.
And hallowed—hallowed be the ground
Where sleep the good and brave,
Decked by the firstlings of the Spring,
And soothed by Honddy’s wave! &c.

It has been already observed, that monastic establishments were not generally popular among the Cambrians. They reminded them too sensibly of the haughty domination of those Norman lords, who had parcelled out the country amongst them, and hoped to extenuate their crimes by the building and endowment of{263} religious houses. But the memory of what was gained by force or fraud, was not to be effaced by multiplying shrines and priories—great crimes were not to be buried under abbey walls. To every free-born Cambrian, the sight of an abbey appeared like a monument of his country’s degradation and bondage, for it was difficult to separate in his mind the blessings of religion from the galling yoke of oppression; he saw that what was at first gained by force of arms, was to be retained by the yet stronger hand of spiritual despotism. The ecclesiastical power was at times more efficient in subjugating a chief, than all that a feudal baron could carry with him into the field; and when both united for the purpose of conquest, their strength was irresistible, the result certain; and the hatred of the oppressed was naturally roused against the grinding sense of a twofold oppression.

Superstition was a mighty engine. An austere old writer gives us the following instance of its working in this golden age of the Church:—“The yeare after this, Gruffyth, son to Conan ap Owen Gwyneth, a nobleman, died, and was buried in a monke’s cowle at the Abbey of Conway; and so were all the nobles, for the most part, of that time buried. For they were made to believe by the old monkes and friers, that that strange weed was a sure defence betwixt their soulis and hell, howsoever they died. And all this baggage and superstition received they with monkes and friers, a few yeares before that, out of England. For the first abbey or frier-house that we read of in Wales, sith the destruction of the noble house of Bangor, which savered not of Romish dregges, was the Twy Gwyn, built the yeare 1146; and after that they swarmed like bees through all the countrie; for then the Cleargie had forgotten the lesson that they had receaved from the noble clerk, Ambrosius Telesinus, who, writing in the yeare 540, when the right Christian faith, which Joseph of Arimathea taught at the isle of Avalon, reigned in this land, before the proud and bloodthirsty monke Augustine infested it with the Romish doctrine, in a certaine ode hath these verses in Welsh, which may be thus Englished, almost word for word:—

“Wo be to that priest yborne,
That will not cleanlie weed his corne,
And preach his charge among!
Wo be to that Sheepherd, I saie,
That will not watch his flocke alwaie,
As to his office doth belong!
Wo be to him, that doth not keepe
From Romish Wolves his simple sheepe,
With Staffe and weapon stronge!

“And because that no man should doubt of them, I have set them down here as they were written by him that made them; whereby it may be produced that{264} the Britaynes, the first inhabitants of this realme, did abhorre the Romish doctrine taught at that time.”[338]

Architecture.—The Abbey of Llanthony was built, like those already described, in the cathedral form—with a nave, lateral aisles, transepts, and chancel. It measures in length, from the western door to the great eastern window, two hundred and twelve feet; and the breadth of the nave, including the side aisles, is fifty feet. The style is a compound of Norman and Early English, or Gothic, of which the lancet-pointed windows in the nave are illustrations; while the Norman character is preserved in the arch between the choir and south transept, and again in the outer wall of the same transept by a double window. Of the roof, which was was of stone, nothing remains except a fragment in the north aisle; the transepts have also crumbled down; but the central tower, which connected the whole fabric, still presents a massive, though mutilated, feature of the ancient pile.

The Nave, with its six noble arches, which separates the body of the church from the north aisle, is the grand and imposing feature of the scene. To the spectator, who takes his stand at the west door, the objects present a picture of wild and melancholy grandeur. Before him rise the monuments of a religious Order, who exercised no small influence over the destinies of mankind; and, when their own were fulfilled, left behind them, in the ruins that still adorn the land, the strongest evidence—with the highest homage that art and science can offer to religion.

We do not pretend to say that the remains of Llanthony are equal in architectural beauty to those of many other religious houses in the kingdom; but as every object of this description depends—for the effect it may exert over the spectator’s mind—upon the character of the scenery, and the circumstances under which it is viewed, we may safely claim for these ruins an effect much beyond what others, though more lofty, elaborate, and extensive, could ever inspire. The monastic ruins that, in more favoured districts, attract and command attention, do not, and cannot, take such hold of the imagination as the contemplation of this temple of the Desert, where everything seems in harmony with the thoughts suggested; and where the combined features of Nature and Art invest the scene with peculiar solemnity.

The nave was separated from the two aisles, north and south, by eight noble arches, supported by massive pillars on each side. But of these several have disappeared on the south, and left only their grass-covered bases to indi{265}cate their size and position. Of the great tower, only two sides remain; and on that facing the nave, may be seen the angular lines where it was joined by the stone roof to the nave. On a line with the tower on the right are seen part of the south transept, with its double Norman window opening into the interior; and at the base, externally, a lancet-shaped doorway, opening into a side chapel. On the centre of each pillar, and on a line with the upper tier of windows, or clerestory, are seen the remains of the springing columns, which supported the groined roof—showing, by the triple-moulded shaft, the base or impost from which the ribbed arch threw its delicate ramifications along the stone vault, and connected the walls under a magnificent canopy, adorned at every intersection of the ribs with carved bosses and rosettes; but of which scarcely a fragment is left.

The ornamented arch in the eastern window, so long the admiration of travellers, has mouldered away. But the Norman arch, already noticed, between the choir and the south aisle, is a bold and characteristic feature that points very distinctly to the twelfth century. The walls of the north aisle are wholly dilapidated; but the outside wall of the south aisle, as observed, is the most entire. Of this the windows are Norman, lofty and finely proportioned. “The western side is considered by all connoisseurs to be the most elegant; the northern, the most entire; the southern, the most picturesque; and the eastern, the most magnificent.” Taken altogether, the remains of this Abbey present a coup d’œil that will bear comparison with many of far higher name. It unites the sublime and the picturesque in a more than ordinary measure, while the general effect is greatly enhanced by the natural solitude of the place.

On the south of the remaining transept is a neat Gothic chapel, with an engroined roof, in tolerable preservation. It measures twenty-two feet in length, by ten and a half in breadth; and on the south of this chapel are the remains of an oblong room, supposed to have been the Chapter-house, or more probably the Vestiary. The other offices—the Refectory, Hospitium, Dormitory, and Cloisters—may be easily traced by an experienced antiquary; but, to a common observer, their respective boundaries are indistinct. In a barn, westward of the ruins, is a fine arch, supposed to have formed the grand entrance to the Abbey. But now—

Stone after stone the hallowed temple falls,
Fierce lightnings scathe, and torrents sap the walls;
No mantling ivy round the ruin weaves
Its verdant panoply of glittering leaves;
No pious hand, with patriotic care,
Props in its fall the ancient house of Prayer;
But still yon Arch, that braves the winter blast,
Stands the proud chronicler of ages past.

On the architecture of this period, we may here introduce a few desultory remarks, without entering into any disquisition on the subject.

The most remarkable works of architecture,[339] as opposed to that of the feudal strongholds, are the religious edifices erected about this period, and improved during the three following centuries. These structures uniting, as in the present instance, sublimity in general composition with the beauties of variety and form—intricacy of parts—skilful, or at least fortunate, effects of light and shade—and, in some instances, with extraordinary mechanical science, are naturally apt to lead those antiquaries, who are most conversant with them, into too partial estimates of the times wherein they were founded. They certainly are accustomed to behold the fairest side of the picture. It was the favourite and most honourable employment of ecclesiastical wealth, to erect, to enlarge, to repair cathedral and conventual churches; and upon these buildings in England, between the Norman Conquest and the Reformation, an immense capital must have been expended. And it is pleasing to observe how the seeds of genius, hidden, as it were, under the frost of that dreary winter, began to bud to the first sunshine of encouragement.

In the darkest period of the middle ages, especially after the Scandinavian incursions into France and England, ecclesiastical architecture, though always far more advanced than any other art, bespoke the rudeness and poverty of the times. It began towards the latter end of the eleventh century, when tranquillity, at least as to former enemies, was restored, and some degree of learning reappeared to assume a more noble appearance.

The Anglo-Norman cathedrals were, perhaps, as much distinguished above other works of man in their own age, as the more splendid edifices of a later period. The science manifested in them, according to the authority here quoted, is not very great; and their style, though by no means destitute of lesser beauties, is, upon the whole, an awkward imitation of Roman architecture, or, perhaps, more immediately of the Saracenic buildings of Spain, and those of the lower Greek Empire.[340] But about the middle of the twelfth century, when Llanthony, Tinterne, and so many remarkable edifices sprang up, this manner began to give place to what is improperly denominated the Gothic architecture. We are not concerned at present to inquire whether this style originated in France or Germany, Italy or England, since it was almost simultaneous in all these countries; nor from what source it was derived—a question of no small difficulty. I would only venture to remark, that whatever may be thought of the pointed arch, for which there is more than one mode of accounting, we must perceive a very oriental character in the vast profusion of orna{267}ment, especially on the exterior surface, which is as distinguishing a mark of Gothic buildings as their arches; and contributes, in an eminent degree, both to their beauties and their defects. This, indeed, is rather applicable to the later than the earlier stage of architecture; and rather to Continental than English churches. The Cathedral at Amiens is in a far more florid style than its contemporary at Salisbury. The Gothic species of architecture is thought by some to have reached its perfection—considered as an object of taste—by the middle of the fourteenth century; or at least to have lost something of its excellence by the corresponding part of the next age—an effect of its early and rapid cultivation; since arts appear to have, like individuals, their natural progress and decay. Yet this seems, if true at all, only applicable to England; since the Cathedrals of Cologne and Milan—perhaps the most distinguished monuments of this architecture—are both of the fifteenth century. The mechanical execution, at least, continued to improve; and is so far beyond the apparent intellectual powers of those times, that some have ascribed the principal ecclesiastical structures to the fraternity of Freemasons—depositaries of a concealed and traditionary science. There is probably some ground for this opinion; and the earlier archives of that mysterious association, if they existed, might illustrate the progress of Gothic architecture, and perhaps reveal its origin. The remarkable change in this new style, that was almost contemporaneous in every part of Europe, cannot be explained by any local circumstances, or the capricious taste of a single nation.[341]

“The Normans,” says “William of Malmesbury, “live in large edifices with economy. They revived by their arrival the observances of religion, which were everywhere grown lifeless in England. You might now see churches rise up in every village, and monasteries in the towns and cities—all built after a style previously unknown in this country.” It was soon after the renovation and introduction here mentioned, that the Abbey of Llanthony—though one of the smallest and least known of its class—sprang up in the desert, as a signal to many others, on a more extended and noble scale that quickly followed, and stamped their architectural character upon the age. It was most probably finished before the middle of the twelfth century—so prolific in ecclesiastical edifices. The style is of that period—designated as the transition from late Norman to early English, where the predominant features are Gothic—characterized by the pointed arch; by pillars which are so extended as to lose all trace of classical proportions; by shafts which are placed side by side, often with different thicknesses, and are variously clustered and combined.[342]

This style is divided into three distinct periods—besides that of transition{268} between the circular and pointed styles—which lasted through the greater part of the twelfth century, when the circular and pointed arches are frequently—as in the nave and south transept before us—used indiscriminately in the same building. The ornaments, although generally partaking of the earlier style, begin to be better executed, and more elaborate; and the general appearance of the building assumes a lighter character. The first style of Gothic in this country, The Early English, prevailed through the greater part of the twelfth century; and of this style the subject in question is one of the numerous examples that followed its introduction in every part of the kingdom. Among these the variations, in all save dimensions, are so slight and unimportant, that the description of almost any one monastic structure of that century applies to every other of the same style and period. We possess in the ruins of Llanthony a pure example of this style, unchanged by any subsequent additions or alterations; for as the Abbey became reduced both in numbers and revenues, immediately after the establishment of the Abbey at Gloucester, it shared in none of the changes introduced by the decorated style; but has continued to the present day what it was in the middle of the twelfth century. To account for the splendour of conventual churches in general, we have only to remember that personal expense or secular indulgence were highly culpable in a monk; and that whatever was expended in ornamenting the Church was glorifying God.

William of Llanthony—the warrior monk already noticed—appears to have had followers in his penance; for Peter Damian mentions a man who wore an iron corslet next his skin, had iron rings around his limbs, so that he performed with pain and difficulty his Metaneas, or penitential inclinations, and very often dashed his hands upon the pavement. In “Strutt’s Dresses” is a female pilgrim lying on the ground, apparently to perform this penance of slapping the ground. The lady of Sir Thomas More, in reply to her husband, who counselled her to desist from scolding her servants during Lent, replied that she wore a “Monk’s girdle,” and therefore had nothing to fear.[343] The virtues of the monk’s girdle, it appears, were equivalent to those of the cowl, already alluded to in our notice of Tinterne.

The revenues possessed by Llanthony appear to have been very considerable at the outset; but through negligence or mismanagement—or rather by the prejudicial influence of a rival abbey—they fell off gradually, and at the{269} dissolution were valued at a sum[344] considerably less than those of Tinterne Abbey.

When we read, in the Monastic Annals, of entire districts, towns, and villages being conveyed to monasteries, we are surprised at the boundless liberality of the founders. But when we reflect that, at the time of these princely endowments, the land, in many instances, was neither cultivated nor peopled, the question of prodigal generosity is materially altered. At the period of transition, as it may be termed, when it passed from the hands of the feudal Baron to the Abbot or Prior, the products of the consecrated territory were often nothing more than wood and pasture; nor, until it had been long subjected to the system of agriculture, so generally practised and taught by the monks, was it brought into a state fit for the sustenance of man. If we compare—so far as written documents enable us—the state of agriculture and its population, when these lands were transferred to the Abbot, with the condition they were in when taken from him, we shall see very clearly to what a vast amount they had improved under monastic management; and how much cause there was to applaud the stewardship of the venerable monks, in whose hands the physical aspect of the country underwent an entire change. Theirs were truly the arts of peace. Obliged, by the rule of their order, to plant their convents in sterile and uncultivated wilds, where intercourse with more favoured districts was neither easy nor expedient, circumstances required that they should, like the apostles and fathers of old, depend for daily bread on the labour of their hands. While some went to prayer, others went to work; and thus the blessing of heaven and the bounty of earth were believed to descend upon them, and abide with them, in those sacred habitations which had sprung up under their hands, and exercised on everything around them a mild and harmonizing influence.

This spirit of improvement, however, varied according to the different Orders of which the great monastic brotherhood was composed. To those who—in imitation of the Baptist—desired to limit their physical wants to a diet of “locusts and wild honey,” or to whatever the unaided hand of Nature might place within their reach, were content to consume their days in fasting and prayer. And observing—as he probably did—that whenever wealth and luxury had increased in religious houses, strict discipline had as certainly relaxed, the Monk of Llanthony appears to have preferred the desert to any of those “seductive landscapes” into which it might have been, in some degree, converted by means of industry and manual labour. He had also before his{270} eyes the baneful effects produced by the luxurious indulgences of New Llanthony upon the minds of the absent brothers, whose piety, that had preserved its fervour amongst rocks and glens, became vapid and lukewarm when transplanted to the rich landscapes of the Severn. Where riches abounded, “pride and license did much more abound.” It was better to continue a poor but pious friar on the banks of the Honddy, than become a luxurious wine-bibbing canon in the Vale of Gloucester.

The space, therefore, in which the most distant resemblance to ancient cultivation can be traced is comparatively small. It was, perhaps, under a strong conviction of great piety and great property being in their very nature antagonistic, that the “Province of Berkeley,” which the King had offered to the Canons of Llanthony, was so firmly declined. The vineyards, which it is understood were then common on the banks of the Severn, were not likely to fortify the mind against temptation, or reconcile the brotherhood to the abstinence and austerities of conventual life. But when he speaks of the tract as a “province,” we can easily imagine that, fertile as the native soil undoubtedly was, only a small portion of it was under cultivation; so that the annual revenue bore an exceedingly small proportion to its extent in acres. And so it was with the almost innumerable tracts of Church lands in every part of the kingdom; for until they were brought into cultivation and crop, their value was merely nominal. And how much is due to the skill and perseverance of the monks in the encouragement of agriculture? There is scarcely a hill or valley in the kingdom, from which their judicious exercise of plough, and spade, and mattock, did not produce its annual return in the necessaries of life. And hence the revenues, that in the course of years and centuries flowed in upon them, were the legitimate result of a liberal and vigilant economy. We are too apt to forget, whilst reckoning up the vast territories bequeathed from age to age to the church by penitent benefactors, that these same tracts were, in many instances, of little or no current value to their original owners; and that it was only by passing them into more skilful and industrious hands, that they became actually appreciable, as corn lands, orchards, and vineyards.

The Canons of Llanthony, in their local position, had neither the advantages of a fertile soil, nor the acquired habits, nor obligations of Rule, which rendered its cultivation imperative. Their revenues were drawn from a distance—some from remote parts in Ireland. But in their immediate neighbourhood, the monks had a brook and enclosed ponds that produced fish; forests that bred herds of deer, hares, and wild fowl; while patches of garden, orchard, and rye-field, supplied their table with that allowance of fruits and vegetables, herbs and roots, and coarse bread, which formed the daily items of their scanty fare. But when a stranger of note or a noble pilgrim arrived at the gate, the Prio{271}r’s table assumed the appearance of more than frugal hospitality; and all that forest or river could furnish for the entertainment of the honoured guest was liberally supplied.[345] As an established

Sanctuary—from which even the greatest offenders were not excluded—we have already noticed the shame and desecration inflicted upon Llanthony by a powerful native, who in the hour of despair had fled to its gate for shelter. To this disastrous visit no opposition could be offered. The sanctuary of St. John was alike available to all—to the guilty as well as to the innocent. And if it was too frequently a refuge for those who had set all laws at defiance, it was happily still more so to the sick and the friendless; to the helpless victim of oppression, who from the horns of the altar appealed to heaven for redress; and to the penitent, who could find no escape from the snares of evil associates, but in the confessional and the cloister. It had been a difficult task, in such circumstances, to discriminate between the claims of those who, in their distress, flew to the sanctuary—between great criminals and true penitents; and therefore it was better the gate should be open alike to all, than that one sincere penitent should be driven back into a world which, in the bitter hours of remorse, he had resolved to abandon. In such institutions there was a gentle union of wisdom and mercy, which the refinement of later times has done much to loosen, and little to perpetuate.

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The Abbey Church from the East.

Of Llanthony, as it now appears, the following sketch is from the pen of a recent visitor; and the contrast is picturesque and striking:—

“At the western end of the Nave rise two towers—one of them, with{272} modernized doors and windows, is inhabited. An open arcade extends in front of part of the adjoining cloister, and advancing through the open door it shaded, we found ourselves in a long vaulted half-parlour half-kitchen, with old arms suspended above the fire-place; sides of bacon nobly flanking the whitewashed walls; old chairs and cabinets, and various minor articles of furniture, all arranged with a neatness which betokened that the presiding genius of the place was feminine. Just as we had come to this conclusion, forth stepped from an inner recess the gentle tenant of the abode of the ancient monks, with a quiet simplicity of manner which went to the heart of a weary pilgrim, and made him feel instantly as if at home, and welcome. A little repose, and a cup of tea beside a blazing hearth—for even in summer the air is shrewd among these hills at evening—entirely refreshed us; and just as the sun was going down in the west, we sallied forth to see the ruins. Albeit the hospitality in early times was here dispensed by shaven monks, and now by maidens fair, there is a singular charm felt by all who visit Llanthony, in this quiet living within the precincts of the Abbey, which interests the imagination, and helps to blend agreeably the past and present.

“With this half-dreamy feeling I went forth, and ascended a slight eminence to the westward, whence the whole pile extended at length its ruined towers and arches, half-buried in trees, and overhung with the lofty hills which shut in the vale, and opened no view to the distant world beyond. These hills were cultivated half-way up their sides; a few farms, each sending up its column of smoke, appeared at intervals, with paths leading up into the wild heath that clothed the summits. The evening sun cast a broad red light upon the west front and towers of the pile, and half gilded the remaining portion. I thought I had never beheld, even among the secluded abbeys of the Yorkshire dales, anything more romantically serene. It was getting dusk ere I could tear myself from the spot. The moon was that evening at the full; and it gave me the opportunity of rambling among the ruins, before I repaired to my dormitory in the abbey tower, which I ascended by a narrow flight of stone steps. One might, in idea, have gone back to the olden time, and fancied oneself a pilgrim in very earnest, receiving hospitality from the ancient tenants of the place, had it not been for the dainty whiteness of the bed, which occupied a story of the old tower—far different, I trow, from the rude pallets of these romantic but uncomfortable ages.”[346]

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Llanthony Abbey.


Sir R. Colt Hoare says, that when his friend Mr. Wyndham made the tour of Wales, in the year 1777, the Eastern front of the abbey was standing, but has since fallen; and its design is now only preserved by the view engraven of it in his book. When he accompanied Mr. Coxe, in the year 1800, to make drawings for his historical tour through Monmouthshire, the western front still retained its superior elegance: in the year 1801, one of the fine windows gave way; and two years later he was a mournful eye-witness, not only to the total downfall of the three windows which composed the principal ornament of the front, but of some modern architectural innovations, highly injurious to the picturesque appearance of this venerable structure. It is a melancholy reflection to the traveller, who repeats, at certain intervals, his visits to the many interesting spots selected by our ancestors, either for military or religious establishments, that at each visit he will, most probably, find them progressively verging to decay. But Llanthony, even amidst its ruins, still supplies the artist with many fine subjects for his pencil, and furnishes ample matter of inquiry and investigation to the architect and antiquarian. From certain data we have of its first construction, about the year 1108, and subsequent desertion in 1136, we are enabled to ascertain the style of architecture then adopted in monastic buildings, as there can be little doubt but that the ruins we now see are those of the original abbey.[347]

Summary—[For the following details—slightly altered and abridged—we are indebted to a recent and popular Description of Llanthony Priory,[348] by the Rev. George Roberts, M.A., in which the ruins are traced with archæological taste and accuracy:]—

The west end is flanked by two low square massive Towers. The one on the south was fitted up by Colonel Wood, a former proprietor, with apartments for the grousing season, and is covered in with a sloping roof. The Abbot’s lodging, which joins on to the south side, is also turned into a dwelling-house for the steward of the estate, where visitors are obligingly accommodated. The stone staircase is perfect in the south tower, but broken in the north. The staircases were lighted by five chinks. Each tower on the outward face is divided into five stages by bold string-courses; the base is beveled off, and the ground story is broad and plain. The second and third stages are ornamented, arcade-fashion, on the side next to the west window, and the arches{274} are pointed. The central compartment in each successive stage recedes. In the lowest story, two pointed windows have been disfigured by modern innovation. In the centre of the second story, a beautiful example of the round-headed Norman window remains perfect to the depth of the wall; the dripstone over it is plain in the north tower, but in the south is terminated by two corbel-heads. The third story is ornamented with a double long lancet-shaped blank window, of great elegance in design; the pointed heads spring from triple shafts with plain Norman capitals. Between these towers, thus ornamented so as to correspond, stood the great

West Window over the principal entrance, already noticed. Joining on to the south tower, there is a round-headed deep window, with a broad trefoiled head, belonging to a plain vaulted chamber called the Prior’s Lodging. This chamber abuts upon the church, and commences the conventual buildings. Entering by the west you see the interior of the whole church. The Nave was separated from the two Aisles on each side by eight obtusely-pointed arches, supported on massive pillars square without capitals; the bases ornamented with ogee mouldings. A round moulding, deeply let in, runs from the base entirely round the arch, to the base on the opposite side.

The Arches on the north side still stand perfect. On the south four only remain, and these imperfect—two at each end of the Nave. The central arches fell in thirteen years ago (1837), on Ash-Wednesday, without any external notice, and whilst the family were at dinner. Had they fallen a few minutes sooner, some person must have been killed. The pressure of the clerestory windows, which on this side were destroyed, as upon the other, overweighted the arches beneath, and forced them in. The four others remaining are in a very tottering condition—and would have fallen, if Mr. Webb, the steward, to whom the building is much indebted for its preservation, had not built up some rude but well-intentioned buttresses; which, however much they may disfigure, are essential to the strengthening of the remains. He also ingeniously hooped with iron two of the pillars, and by the application of the screw, has managed to bring them back into their former position.

The Side Aisles are completely down; but the termination of the North Aisle, with the only specimen of the roof remaining, is to be seen in the North Tower of the west front. Here there is also a long, deep, round-headed Norman window, looking to the north. The arch at the end of the Nave, next to the Tower, springs from a corbel, consisting of three truncated pillars with capitals. The bit of the roof of the Aisle which remains is heavily groined, and formed by the intersection of round arches. The flat wall buttress, on either side of the Tower, has at the top a square moulding, fluted, from which springs an arch spanning the Aisle—the only one of the series in existence. This is the{275} most acutely pointed in the whole building, and gives an idea of the character of the rest belonging to the Aisles.

The Arches are divided from what seems to have been a triforium [Coxe, who saw it when perfect, calls it an upper tier of Norman arches], by a straight plain band. Between each arch is a corbel, formed of three clustered pillars, as before, with plain Norman capitals, and worked off to a point, where the base should have been, six in number, and from these, evidently, sprung the vaulted and groined roof.

In the interior, above, nothing remains but a double window, pointed and elegant, which seems to have formed the lower portion of the deep Norman recessed arch, through which the passage ran along to the Bell-tower. This may be clearly traced from the exterior of the building. A low round-headed plain door connected each aisle with its contiguous transept. The square

Bell-tower was supported upon four large and noble pointed arches, of which the west and the south, together with the sides above them, are standing; although there is reason to fear for the latter, from the pressure of the superincumbent building, which has shattered and bowed it out. Only sixty years ago the Bell-tower was thirty-seven feet higher than at present, viz., sixty-three feet, as taken by an instrument—whence the entire height was at first exactly a hundred feet. The ruin now reaches but a short way above the dripstone of the roof. The west arch springs from a corbel of three stunted pillars, clustered, and terminating in a flower—the corbel on the opposite terminating in a square moulding of the ogee description. The gable in the western arch is pierced by two small plain Norman windows, and has a third narrow-pointed window in the apex.

The Staircase communicating with the belfry is lighted by a round-headed window. We may conjecture there were several bells in the tower—carried off to Gloucester by Prior Roger.[349]

Transepts.—Nothing remains of the North Transept but one side of the window.—[See the woodcut.]—The South Transept is lighted upon the south by a double Norman window, the moulding and shaft plain, the window eighteen feet by three; and above them, in the gable, is a plain Rose window, of which nothing but the circular rim remains. The effect of this composition, from its simplicity, is exceedingly imposing. A bold Norman arch, supported by a plain Norman corbel pillar, with a cushion capital, communicates on the east, from the transept, with the Lady Chapel; and one step from the Tower leads into the Choir.{276}

The Roof was supported upon pillars—lofty with Norman capitals. One on the south is perfect, and the base of the corresponding pillar is to be seen. The string-course runs over this pillar, and along the wall to the extremity of the Choir. At the distance of eighteen feet are traces of steps to the High Altar, flanked on either side by triple pillars, clustered; the distance from these steps to the east window is also eighteen feet. A long and exquisitely-proportioned round-headed window lighted the choir on the north side, and is quite perfect, except that the masonry above it is gone, leaving the naked rim of the head standing alone, with an effect at once graceful and melancholy. The space on the south side points out where the corresponding window stood. A gap shows the space occupied by the great east window, which was standing in Wyndham’s time. From his drawing, it appears to have been a fine pointed window, with tracery in the head, and having two small Norman lights in the gable above. A few mouldings are still extant, with slender shafts and Norman capitals in the wall where it was inserted.

As you return from the east, continues the historian of the Abbey, you are struck with two windows in the Bell-tower on the south side, in the second story. They consist of a round-headed arch, divided into two lights by a sturdy balustre, standing in the middle of the wall, and extending from its plinth to its capital, right through the centre to the top of the arch. Beyond this, in the thickness of the wall, vestiges of a passage are discovered, which seems to have formed a gallery round the tower. A round-headed plain Norman door, the jambs being low pillars with cushion capitals, at the west end of the choir, on the south side, leads into

The Lady Chapel. The slight remains of the corbels, from which the roof sprung, are here more elaborate in their work than in any other part of the building. We had some difficulty in tracing out the foundation.

The Chapter-house[350] was built in contiguity to the south side of the south transept. On the north side of it a stable is inserted, which prevents accurate observation. In a calf-pen or shed, however, we discovered the corresponding base of the columns to the other unencumbered side. It seems to have been a spacious and elegant room, of an oblong form, lighted at the east and at the south, where there is a deep recess, and traces sufficient to warrant the surmise that there were three Norman windows on that side. The south wall is ornamented and divided into four compartments by clusters of triple pillars, upon which the roof rested. The east end narrows in, and the entrance is from the west. On the south of the church, between the transept and the Chapter-house, is an{277}

Oratory—the chapel already named—with an engroined roof in complete preservation. The central arch springs from a Norman corbel on each side, and two other arches form the angles of the building in the same manner. By their intersection the roof is formed. A deep Norman window is fixed in the east wall. The sides of the door consist of two pillars, capitals with flowers, and bases, ogee-shaped. South again of the chapter, a large space for a doorway—the side pillars of which are partly standing—opens into

The Refectory, of which the slight traces still in existence, defy anything like accuracy of detail. A rude window, chimney, and vaults, broken in and filled with rubbish, show where the offices and kitchen lay. Beyond these is a splendid Sewer, which has been mistaken by the common people to be the commencement of a subterraneous passage leading to “Oldham Castle,” under the mountains.

The Vivarium, or Fish-pond, is east of the church, and a mountain rill still runs through it. The whole of the conventual buildings, together with a close, amounting to seven acres, were surrounded by a wall. At some little distance south-west from the church, and divided from it by what is now a long meadow, stand

The Hospitium and Porter’s Lodge—the first of which is a barn, and has been enlarged for that purpose. A fine pointed arch, already alluded to, under which was the entrance gateway, still remains. The pillars upon which it rests are immensely strong—the capitals Norman and rudely carved. Above this were apartments lighted by two round-headed windows in the north gable; and in the south gable, by two windows with trefoil cusps, and one round-headed. An old fireplace above is also visible. The arches on the other side are blocked up with solid masonry. The Porter’s window is pointed, and looks to the west. In the “bay” of the barn, and on a level with the ground, on the west side, is a window deeply set in the wall, pointed; and in a line with it, a square open space, like the top of a buttery-hatch, with a large flat stone below, whence probably the dole[351] was distributed.

RULES of St. Augustin.—Of these, the rules of Llanthony—which the reader will find printed at full in the history of the Order[352]—a few extracts may here suffice.

A. By the first rule, or condition, every candidate for admission into the Order was called upon to relinquish all property. He was to enter on a term of probation by the Prior. No Canon, on taking leave of the Order from necessity, was permitted to take any pro{278}perty away with him. If anything were offered him as a present, he was not at liberty to accept it, until he had obtained leave from the Prior. This rule was to apply equally to all, from the Superior downwards. Punishment was to be denounced for contumacy, and offences to be declared to the Præpositus, before whom all disagreements were to be laid for consideration and adjustment. All property detained as above-mentioned, through necessity, was to be handed over to the Superior.

B. They were carefully to remember what psalms were appointed to be sung at the stated hours, and nightly readings after Vespers. Manual labour was to continue from morning until Sext; and from Sext till Nones was to be employed in reading. After refection, work was to be resumed till Vespers. In all matters of business connected with the convent, two monks were to act in concert; but none were permitted to eat or drink out of the house. Brothers sent to dispose of goods in public, for the benefit of the convent, were to be cautious of doing anything against the Rule. Idle talk, or gossiping, was strictly forbidden; and they were enjoined to proceed with their work in silence.

C. The union, or brotherhood, was to subsist in one house. Food and raiment were to be distributed by the Superior, and everything was to be held and enjoyed in common. Due consideration was to be observed towards infirmity; but no allowance to be made for pride on account of difference of birth. Concord was indispensable; and in attending divine service at the appointed hours, they were to observe the strictest punctuality. They were not to make use of the church for any other service than that to which it was consecrated, unless when, out of the proper hours, they found leisure and inclination for private prayer. While chanting the psalmody, they were to revolve and write the sentiment in their hearts. Nothing was to be sung but what was duly appointed. They were bound to mortify the flesh by frequent abstinence and fasting; and those who did not fast, were to take nothing after the usual time of dining, unless when sick. The scriptures were to be read during meals in the Refectory. To the sick a better kind of food was allowed; but not to make the others discontented. Brothers of delicate habit, or infirm health, were to have diet and clothes suitable to their condition; and such indulgence was not to excite envy or disgust in others. The sick were to be treated with all the care which their cases required; and as soon as they recovered their wonted health, they were to return to the fixed rule and habit of the house.

D. The Habit of the Order was to be sober, not conspicuous. When they went abroad, they were to walk two together, and so remain at the journey’s end. In gait, look, habit, or gesture, everything that could be termed indecent or offensive, was to be regarded as criminal. They were not to fix their eyes{279} upon women; and when two were in church in the presence of women, they were mutually to support each other, in observing a serious and modest decorum—“invicem vestram pudicitiam custodite. Deus enim qui habitat in vobis, etiam isto modo custodiet vos a vobis....” All such offences or misdemeanours were to be punished by the Superior. The clandestine receipt of letters or presents was a punishable offence. Their clothes were to be taken from one common Vestiary, and their food from one Larder. All vestments presented by relatives were to be stored in the common Vestiary. All labour was to be considered as done for the common good. He who stole, and he who concealed his knowledge of a theft, were to be punished with equal severity.

E. Their clothes, and the linen of the house, according to the order of the Superior, were to be washed either by themselves or by fullers. In cases of illness, ablutions were to be used according to the physician’s advice; or, on refusal, by order of the Superior. They were to go to the baths only by two or three, and were then to be accompanied by a person duly appointed by the Superior. The sick were to have an Infirmarer; and cellarers, chamberlains, or librarians, were to serve the brethren with cheerfulness and good-will. Books could not be obtained for perusal but at the stated hours. Clothes and shoes were to be given out when needed. No litigations or quarrels were permitted. If a difference arose, it was to be instantly adjusted or put to silence by the authorities. For all offences, satisfaction—for all wrongs, retribution—was to be given; and the offended were commanded to practise, in all cases, the sacred duty of forgiveness towards the offender.

F. Harsh or uncharitable expressions were to be carefully avoided; and if hastily uttered, they were to be followed by an immediate apology. Obedience to the Superior was strictly enjoined; but if, in the exercise of his duty, he spoke harshly to any one, he was not to be called upon for any apology. They were to yield cheerful obedience to the head over them; but chiefly to the Priest, or Presbyter, on whom devolved the care of the whole house. If, in any emergency, the Superior found his authority unequal to the occasion, he was to have recourse to that of the Priest, or Elder. The Superior was bound to exercise his authority in the spirit of Christian charity and meekness, yet with firmness and impartiality. To be practically strict in discipline; but so to demean himself towards the brethren, as rather to win their love by kindness than excite their fear by severity; to set before their eyes an example of godly life; to excite imitation, and conciliate affection.[353]{280}

The Rule of St. Augustin, it has been observed, is more courteous than that of St. Benedict; for among the Canons-Regular, every brother is well shod, well clothed, and well fed; they go out when they like, mix with the world, and converse at table. The Rule of St. Augustin was followed by the Dominicans; but with severe additions in food, fasts, bedding, garments, and utter dereliction of property.—See and compare the Cistercian Rule, as given in the foregoing article on Tinterne Abbey.

FOUNDER.—Hugh de Laci was an adventurer in the suite of William the Conqueror; and, like most of his Norman followers and compatriots, received in compensation of services, or in testimony of the royal favour, certain grants of land from which the ancient Saxon nobility had been expelled. All that we learn of his subsequent career is, that he founded the Priory of Llanthony in the manner already described, spent his days in strict religious seclusion, and departed this life in the odour of sanctity—but without issue. His possessions, therefore, were divided between his two surviving sisters, Ermeline and Emma—the former of whom died without heirs; and the latter, married to a gentleman, whose name has not descended to posterity, had by her husband a son named Gilbert de Laci. The latter, by his marriage with a lady unknown to the chronicler, had two sons, Hugh and Walter de Laci. Hugh died without issue, and Walter espoused Margery, daughter of Matilda de S. Walerick, wife of William de Brewes. To this family were born several sons and daughters; all of whom died without heirs, except Gilbert de Laci, who took to wife the Lady Isabella, one of the five daughters of the great warrior William, Earl Marshall, of whose family history and exploits some account has been given in our notice of Tinterne Abbey.

Margery, daughter of the above-named Gilbert and Isabella de Laci, was married to John de Verdon; and at the death of her father, who left no male issue, she became joint heiress with her sister Matilda, the wife of Galfrid de Genevile.

From Walter de Laci, the right of all his inheritance descended to a certain Gilbert de Laci, as his son and heir; and from the said Gilbert, in default of male issue, it descended to his two sisters Margery and Matilda aforesaid, co-heiresses; between whom the family property left by their father was equally divided. The above-named Margery, as we have said, married John de Verdon; and to Nicholas, her son by this marriage, descended all the property she inherited from her father. From Nicholas, who died without legitimate issue, the family estates passed to his adopted brother Theobald, as{281} his brother and heir. From Theobald, in like manner, they descended to John; from whom, having no heirs, they descended to William, who also dying childless, they descended to Johanna, Elizabeth, Margery, Isabella, and Catherine, daughters and coheiresses of the above-named Theobald de Verdon. Of these, Catherine dying unmarried, her share of the property fell in equal proportions to her sisters; the eldest of whom wedded Thomas de Furnivall: Elizabeth, the second daughter, married Bartholomew de Burghersh; Margery, the third daughter, William Blount; and Isabella took to husband Henry de Ferrers—names well known in history.

Baldwin, the Bishop above named, was a native of Exeter, where he received, what was considered in those days, a liberal education; and in the early part of his life discharged the functions of a grammar-school in that city. After taking holy orders he was made Archdeacon of Exeter; but soon quitting the duties of that office, he took the habit of the Cistercian Order in the Monastery of Ford, in Devonshire, of which, in a few years afterwards, he was elected Abbot. He was next promoted to the episcopal dignity, and on the 10th of August, 1180, consecrated Bishop of Worcester. On the death of Richard, Archbishop of Canterbury, four years later, he was translated to that see—though not without difficulty, from his being the first of the Cistercian Order in England who had ever been promoted to the archiepiscopal dignity. He was enthroned at Canterbury, May the 19th, 1185, and the same day received the bull from Pope Lucius III., whose successor, Urban III., appointed him to the office of Legate for the diocese of Canterbury. Soon after his installation, he began to build a church and monastery at Hackington, near Canterbury, in honour of “St. Thomas à Becket,” for the reception of secular priests; but, being violently opposed by the monks of Canterbury supported by the Pope’s authority, he was compelled to abandon his undertaking.

On the third of September, 1190, he solemnly performed the ceremony of crowning King Richard the First—Cœur-de-Lion—in the palace of Westminster. The same year, the King having given the see of York to his natural brother, Geoffrey, Bishop of Lincoln, Baldwin took occasion to assert the pre-eminence of the see of Canterbury, forbidding the Bishops to receive consecration from any other than the Archbishop himself.

The next year, designing to follow King Richard into the Holy Land, he made the “Itinerarium” into Wales already alluded to; visited the Abbey of Llanthony, which he described in the words already quoted; said mass pontifically in all the cathedral churches, and persuaded many of the Welsh to quit their homes and take part in the crusade. After completing this progress, he returned to Canterbury; and then, embarking at Dover with the Bishop of{282} Salisbury, sailed for the Holy Land, where he joined the King’s army in Syria. Shortly after his arrival, however, he was seized with a mortal distemper, and died at the siege of Acre, or Ptolemais, where he was buried with all the solemnity due to a great luminary of the church.[354]

Descent.—At the period of the dissolution of monasteries, Llanthony Abbey was given to Richard, or Nicholas Arnold; then sold to Auditor Harley, and remained in the Oxford family, until sold again to Colonel (afterwards Sir Mark) Wood, of Persefield, near Chepstow; from whom it passed to the present owner, Walter Savage Landor, Esq.

Arms of Llanthony Abbey: “Party per pale azure and purpure on chevron argent, between three oak-branches argent, three marigolds proper.”—Dugdale.

We now close the subject of Llanthony with the late Mr. Southey’s



Here was it, Stranger, that the Patron Saint
Of Cambria passed his age of penitence,
A solitary man; and here he made
His Hermitage; the roots his food, his drink
Of Honddy’s mountain stream.
Perchance thy youth
Has read with eager wonder, how the Knight
Of Wales, in Ormandine’s enchanted bower,
Slept the long sleep; and if that in thy veins
Flows the pure blood of Britain, sure that blood
Has flowed with quicker impulse at the tale
Of Dafydd’s deeds, when through the press of war
His gallant comrades followed his green crest
To conquests!
Stranger! Hatterill’s mountain heights,
And this fair vale of Ewias, and the stream
Of Honddy, to thine after-thoughts will rise
More grateful—thus associate with the name
Of Dafydd, and the deeds of other days.

Authorities quoted or referred to in the preceding article on Llanthony Abbey:—Dugdale’s Monasticon and Baronage, and their Commentaries—Tanner’s Notitia Monastica—Spelman’s Glossar. Archæologicum—Hist. of the Reformation—Histories of Monmouth, by Hoare, Coxe, and others—Giraldus Cambrensis—Howel’s Hystorie—Hallam’s Middle Ages—Camden’s Britannia—Speed—Hollinshed—Robert of Glo’ster—Roberts’ History of Llanthony Abbey—Thomas’ History of Owen Glendower—Collins—Notes by Correspondents, etc.

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Usk Castle & Town.




Here still the feudal bulwark frowns,
With many a tale of siege and sally;
And there the mouldering Abbey crowns
The silent and secluded valley.
And still, when Twilight spreads her wings,
By Abbey wall or Castle hoary,
The pilgrim hears harmonious strings
Struck to the theme of Cambria’s glory.
Again—from yonder halls of state,
Where now the hermit-owl is dwelling—
In song, assembled Bards relate
The daring deeds of bold Llewellyn.
Again from yonder Abbey choir—
Its dim religious lights revealing—
The lofty strains of David’s lyre
From arch and pillared aisles are pealing.
But no! the morning’s ruddy beam—
The breath of day—is on the river;
And all that peopled Fancy’s dream
Is scattered in its light for ever.

THE CASTLE of Uske occupies a commanding position—an abrupt rocky eminence which overlooks the town, river, and valley, which were once the property of its feudal lords. It is a domestic fortress of great antiquity, and with the advantages of its natural site, strengthened and improved by all the appliances of military art—art as it was practised in the days of chivalry—these mouldering walls, though now stripped of all their massive proportions, must have presented a bold and almost impregnable aspect. The lapse of centuries, however, has materially changed its appearance; and the Castle that once entertained the redoubtable Strongbow and his companions, is now little more than a mass of ruins—the chief recommendation of which is its picturesque character as a prominent feature in the landscape.{284}

The ruins consist merely of a shell, enclosing an area or court, and some outworks on the west, formed by two straight walls converging one to the other, and strengthened at their union by a round tower, as represented in the accompanying woodcut. At the extremity of the south wall is a grand pointed gateway, with grooves for a portcullis, which was the principal entrance. The upper part has been converted into a farm-house with considerable additions.

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Tower in Uske Castle.

Like other castles of its style and period, it consists of straight walls, fortified with round and square towers, and no apertures externally but loopholes or œillets, except where these have been enlarged for modern use and convenience. Several of the apartments have chimneys—a comparatively modern refinement. The baronial hall measures forty-eight by twenty-four feet; far inferior in dimensions to some of the halls already described, but still a noble apartment, and dignified from its association with Strongbow and his knights, whose occasional rendezvous was within these walls.

At the time of the Roman occupation, this county formed part of the Silurian territory, which included also the counties of Glamorgan, Brecknock, Radnor, and Hereford; and in order to secure the conquest of this part of the country, the new masters were compelled to form a range of strongly fortified posts. No less than five stations were erected in that part of Siluria included in{285} Gwentland, as at Caerwent, Caerleon, Abergavenny, Monmouth, and Uske. In the attempts of the Saxon monarchs to subjugate Wales, the Gwentians, or inhabitants of Monmouthshire, opposed the most formidable resistance; nor does it appear that they were ever vanquished during the Saxon period. The Conqueror, however, adopted a new and more effective mode of curbing their resistance. He directed his barons to make incursions at their own expense, and gave them leave to hold the lands they conquered in capite of the crown. These feudal tenures became petty royalties; the barons became despots, and, intrenched in their fortified castles, assumed independent sovereignty, until these baronial governments were abolished by Henry VIII., who divided Wales into counties.

The river Uske takes its rise from a lake on the northern side of the Bannau-Sir-Gaer, in Carmarthenshire, and after running first north and then east as far as Brecknock, is joined by the Honddi, which, as already described, waters the monastic vale of Ewias. It then flows south-east as far as Abergavenny, and in this part of its course is joined by the Grwyneu-fawr, and about three miles below this it enters Monmouth. The extent of its course is about sixty miles, every portion of which is distinguished more or less by scenes of pastoral and picturesque beauty—enhanced by vestiges of ancient encampments, religious edifices, and feudal strongholds. The river is spanned at Uske by a stately bridge of five arches.

The annexed woodcut, with which we close this brief notice, represents a chamber in the Castle, with an arched window and a fireplace, comparatively modern. Chimneys do not seem to have been introduced much before the time of Henry the Eighth, as appears from the following extract from Leland’s Itinerary:—“One thynge I much notyed in the haule of Bolton,” built temp. Rich. II., “how chimneys were conveyed by tunnels made in the syds of the wauls, betwyxt the lights in the haule; and by this means, and by no others, is the smoke of the harthe in the haule wonder strangely carrayed.”[355] Previously to this period, the smoke was suffered to escape from the louvre, or lantern-turret in the roof, in large halls and kitchens, the fire being made of logs of wood laid on iron or brass dogs, in the centre of the room. But in the smaller rooms, like that in the woodcut, fireplaces were built, the arches or chimney-pieces of which often remain; but the chimney itself was carried up only a few feet, where an aperture was left in the wall for the smoke to escape,[356] and there was frequently a window over the fireplace, as in the hall at Raglan.[357]{286}

Uske is supposed to occupy the site of the Roman Burrium—the Bullæum of Ptolemy; it stands on a point of land formed by the confluence of the two rivers, Uske and Olway, and the situation is considered to be one of the most beautiful in South Wales. The successive ranges of woods and hills on each side of the river are richly varied and picturesque; while every year adds something to the natural embellishment of the scene, by the distribution of fruit and forest trees—for which the soil is naturally adapted—and that growing taste for agriculture and rural improvement which is everywhere conspicuous in the county of Monmouth. The boundaries and outlines of the valley—which is everywhere pleasing—perpetually vary as the points of view are changed; so that every change in his position opens to the spectator a new combination of features which pass before him like a moving panorama—

“Ever changing, ever new.”

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A Chamber in the Castle.

Uske has a melancholy pre-eminence among the strongholds of this county, as a point at which the fury of intestine war was often lighted into flames. During the long and disastrous warfare with Owen Glendower, it was subjected to every species of hardship and oppression. From the battle of Uske, when the Cambrian chief was defeated and driven into the mountains, it remained in possession of the royal troops; but while it suffered the fate of a vanquished post, it derived little support from the victors; for whatever standard floated from its walls, it was only the signal of systematic oppression. From the military chronicle of those unhappy times, we take the following particulars of the

Battle of Uske. This was the last effort on the part of Owen Glendower to drive the English from the frontier. Having assembled an army of eight{287} thousand men enthusiastically attached to him, he prosecuted his march through scenes of fire and bloodshed—desolating the country, ravaging the Marches, and practising every cruelty which the spirit of revenge could suggest. Grosmont[358]—or more probably Uske—was given to the flames. This marauding division was opposed by a handful of men commanded by Sir Gilbert Talbot—joined by Sir William Newport and Sir John Geindre—on the 11th of March, and cut to pieces, no quarter being given except to one person, whom young Henry, in his despatch to his father, styles ‘un grand chieftyn entre eulx;’ and humanely adds, that “he would have sent him this prisoner, but that he could not ride with ease.” Prince Henry at the time of this action was at Hereford—at the head of the army, with which he was to open the campaign—when the news of the victory reached him. The ancient Britons, who lost a thousand men in this battle, appear to have fought with less than their accustomed valour. They were probably raw recruits, without good officers or strict discipline; and without Glendower’s presence to direct and animate them in the charge, they appear to have fallen an easy prey to the enemy. The interception of young March, and this defeat, hastened the fall of Glendower; but, resolved to make a strong effort to retrieve his lost credit in the field, he sent one of his sons with another army, which, on being joined by many fugitives from the late disaster, was found sufficiently strong to risk another engagement. This took place on the 15th of the same month; but the results were still more disastrous than on the previous battle; for of the Welsh army fifteen hundred were slain or taken prisoners. Tudor, the brother of Owen, was left dead on the field; while his son, who had the chief command, was made prisoner, and retained as a hostage in the English camp. The historian relates that so great was the personal resemblance between Owen and his brother Tudor, that when the dead body of the latter was discovered in the field, it was immediately reported that Glendower himself had fallen, and that, with the death of their leader, the Welsh must necessarily abandon the contest. On closer examination, however, it was found that the exultation thus spread through the English camp was premature; for although the resemblance was very striking, it was observed that a wart over the eye—a mark which distinguished the “great Owen”—was not to be traced in the present individual, and it was at once admitted that Tudor, and not Owen, had fallen in the conflict.

Prince Henry, according to Carte,[359] commanded at this battle, supposed to have taken place near Uske. Wynne also mentions an action fought on the{288} same day on which the son of Owen was made prisoner; and the number of those slain and made prisoners, coincides with the above account of Mr. Pennant, but the scene of action is removed to Uske, where he says “the Welsh received a sad blow from the Prince of Wales’ men.” In the history of this period there is a confusion which Mr. Pennant thus clears up:—Hollinshed mentions another defeat sustained by the Welsh in the month of May, in which Griffith Yonge, Owen’s chancellor, was made prisoner. But in this, according to Pennant, the chronicler confounds this battle with the action near Grosmont. If Yonge was the “grand chieftyn” there made prisoner, which is questionable, he must have soon escaped from the power of the English, or have been released, as he is a witness the following year to a pardon granted by Owen to one Ieuan Goch. Here Mr. Thomas[360] suggests that the two accounts by Hollinshed and Wynne might be reconciled, by allowing that a battle was actually fought at Uske, subsequent to that on the 15th of March. Dates among earlier writers are often uncertain, always perplexing. But Uske in many parts bears evident marks of Owen’s desolating system of warfare; a ruinous aspect bespeaks its having been stormed by an enemy at no remote date; and all these circumstances deriving weight from local tradition—which corroborates the surmise, and attributes the havoc to Glendower—Uske may be fairly set down as the scene of devastation referred to in the text.[361]

Craig-y-Gaeryd, near Uske, is supposed to have been a Roman camp. It covers the brow of a precipice overhanging the eastern bank of the river, and is now overgrown with copsewood; but in many places the intrenchments are thirty feet deep. Within the area are several tumuli from fifteen to twenty feet high. From the small torrent of Berden, near this point, some authors have derived the name of Burrium, as being placed at its confluence with the river Uske.[362]

With regard to these camps and intrenchments, Mr. King, in his “Monumenta Antiqua,” supposes that most of the strong intrenchments on the summits of natural hills must be attributed to Britons, although subsequent conquerors might have occupied them. They are designated, indiscriminately, Roman camps, Danish forts, or Saxon intrenchments, but often erroneously. The Roman camps were quadrangular, divided into a pavilion for the general and chief officers, and another portion for the tents of the common soldiers. It was fortified with a ditch and parapet, termed fossa and vallum. The Danes did not{289} undergo the labour of erecting them on the high hills where they are often found, nor run the risk of being cooped up and starved in them during their invasions; nor can we suppose them to be their work after they settled here as conquerors. The great castle of Norwich, built by Canute, and the great tower at Bury, prove their civilization and skill in architecture. Neither could these hill-camps be Saxon. During the Heptarchy, they erected fortresses of stones. Besides, their earth-works were encampments on plain ground with double ditches, and with either the whole or part of the area raised above the level of the adjacent country, and sometimes with a very small mount for a watchguard. The magnificence of the Norman castles, still splendid in their ruins, will not allow them to have had any share in throwing up these rude intrenchments. They must, therefore, have been the strongholds of the ancient Britons, where their families were lodged, and their cattle housed, on any emergency or invasion.[363]

The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure of Anglo-Norman origin, but apparently curtailed in its dimensions to suit the diminished population of modern Uske. The square embattled tower which now stands at the east, formerly occupied the centre, and communicated with a transept and choir. Four pointed arches now separate the nave from the north aisle. The windows are ornamented Gothic, or rather Norman; and the porches, though not elegant, are in the same style. This was the Priory Church; and of the conventual building, the remains are seen on the south-east side of the tower. From the churchyard, a circular arched portal leads through the court to the ancient edifice now converted into a farm-house. It was founded by one of the Clare family as a priory for five Benedictine nuns, about the middle of the thirteenth century. In an apartment on the first floor, the frieze of the ceiling is ornamented with thirty devices, and emblazoned coats of arms. At the Dissolution, this priory was valued at £69. 9s. 8d. per annum; and the site granted to Roger Williams of Langibby. Rowland Williams of Langibby was distinguished by Queen Elizabeth and James the First, and received the honour of knighthood. His grandson, Sir Trevor Williams, was created a baronet in consideration of his services and loyal attachment to Charles the First.

Founder.—Tanner, quoting from a MS. in the office of First Fruits, says they accounted Sir Richard de Clare and Sir Gilbert his son, Earls of the Marches, for their Founders, and prayed for them as such; for which, at the time of the Dissolution, an allowance appears to have been made amongst the reprises.

The temporalities of this priory are thus valued in Pope Nicholas’s Taxation, A.D. 1291:—Priorissa de Uska habet viginti quatuor acras terræ quæ valent{290} per annum viii.s.: De annuo redditu, vi.s. viii.d., de Molendino. ibidem x.s., de perquisitis cur. v.s. Item, habet apud Shirencnewt [Shire Newton?] de reddit, assis. iii.s. = Summa £1. 12s. 8d.

Among the spiritualities of the diocese of Llandaff, we find the following churches, of which the priory and convent of Uske appear to have been patrons, namely, Raglan, Mykenny, Uske, Langrerion, Lampadock, and Lamyhangel.

In another place, it is said:—Capitulam Landav. percipit de tenentibus de Landconyan unam marcam, et illam reddunt luminar. prioratus de Uske. In the diocese of Worcester, we find, “Porcio priorissæ in capell. de Hatherlo j.l. The gross value of this priory [26th Hen. VIII.] was rated at £69. 9s. 8d., the clear income at £55. 4s. 5d. The site and other lands were granted 28th Hen. VIII. to Roger Williams, grandfather of Sir Trevor Williams [of whom Cromwell speaks in his letter from Pembroke.] At the Dissolution, Elen Williams was the lady prioress. In the Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer’s office is the following:—“Uske: De Elizea John ap Jevan vidua, occasionat. ad ostendendum quo titulo tenet domum et situm Prioratus de Uske, et alias terras in comitatu Monmouth. That the said widow be called upon to show by what title she holds the house and site of the Priory of Uske, and other lands in the county of Monmouth.” Leland describes it briefly as “a priory of Nunnes at Cair Uske, a flite shot from the castel.”

An impression from the conventual seal of this priory is extant in the Chapter-house at Westminster, attached to the acknowledgment of Supremacy. [25 Hen. VIII.] It represents the Virgin Mary seated on an ornamented chair between two pilasters, the infant Jesus in her lap. Above are a crescent and star, the legend—S. sĉe Marie et Conventus de Uske.

The emblematical devices and emblazoned arms already mentioned, as covering the frieze of the ceiling in the chief apartment, are supposed to represent the armorial bearings of the various benefactors of the priory.

Prioresses.—The last Prioress, or Superieure, was the above-named “Elen Williams.” Among the Gilbertine Nuns there were three prioresses, one of whom presided in turn, and had then the first stall—one of her coadjutors standing on the right hand, the other on the left. The presiding Prioress held the Chapter, enjoined the penances, granted all the licences or allowances, visited the sick, or caused them to be visited by one of her companions. She had obedience and respect paid to her by all. The food was delivered by the Cellaress, but the vestments of the Nuns were cut, sewed, and divided by the Prioress. She could not sit near any man in their house, unless some discreet sister sat between them. The Prioress was to endeavour to visit the Nuns, unless when{291} she was in the kitchen, or confined to her dortoire by sickness. If any sister wished to confess, she signified her desire to the Prioress, if she was in the cloister or church; or she confessed to her, or to any person authorised to act for her. On holidays she sent some “learned nun” with a book to her sisters, to teach them somewhat that might operate to the profit of their souls, or confirm the rigour of the Order. She presided over the Chapter of the Sisters, and one of her coadjutors often took their veniæ in the evening Chapter. On festival days she visited them “if she had time,” and diligently inquired of their strict observance of the rules of the Order. If she left the dormitory after dinner, or after complin, she did not go out unless with attendant nuns. She was obliged to indicate the cause of her departure to the Prior of all. If she left the church through sickness, she confessed in the Chapter, and no one stood in her stall except at Mass, and when necessity required it.—[Brit. Monach.]

She was bound to shun conferring with the Scrutatrices, or sister-visitors, from other houses, that were deputed to her; or to make search for anything except in the common Chapter. If she was in the Infirmary, she was required to conduct herself more reservedly; and not to speak with more than two together, and that only in a “bounded place,” unless, perhaps, necessity compelled her to talk with more for the sake of consultation; or when she happened to hold the Chapter of the Sick. She had authority, upon emergencies, to hold the Chapter of the Convent, and receive confessions, and if she was confined by severe illness, she could, like the rest, talk and give her directions in bed.[364]

Uske enjoys the hereditary distinction of having been the “residence of Richard, Duke of York, and the birth-place of his two sons, Edward the Fourth, and Richard the Third;” names which have furnished many stirring incidents, many sparkling and many disastrous achievements to the British annals. The town of Uske is disposed in the form of an oblong square, the principal street forming the public road to Abergavenny. The corporation consists of a mayor or bailiff, a community, and burgesses;[365] and in the town-house are held the{292} petty sessions for the upper division of the hundred of Uske. The only native manufacture is that of japan ware.

The river is famous for trout, particularly salmon trout—

“So fresh, so sweete, so red, so crimpe withal,”[366]

which, in conventual times, afforded an ample supply to the numerous religious communities on its banks, to whom a carneous diet was only permitted as an occasional indulgence. Epicures confirm the ancient reputation of the river in this respect; and during the season, the disciples of Isaak Walton, and the readers of Sir Humphrey Davy’s “Salmonia,” are constant visitors to the banks of the Uske, which, by way of climax, is said to produce better sport for the angler than any other river in Wales—or even the Severn—a quality which has become proverbial.

“Though bright the waters of the Towy,
The Wye, the Severn, and the Tivy;
Yet, well I wot, they cannot shew ye
Such salmon as the Uske can give ye!
It was—(we choose not to go farther)—
The favoured dish of bold King Arthur;
Who, when he chose like king to dine,
Went down to Uske with rod and line,
And there drew slily to the bank
Such trout as best became his rank;
Sometimes by twains, at others singly,
But always with a twitch so kingly,
The salmon seemed as much delighted,
As if they really had been ‘knighted!’
No wonder, for they quickly found
An entrée at the Table Round,
Where, seated with his gallant knights,
Those heroes of a hundred fights;—
‘Leave,’ quoth he, ‘acorns in the husk,
Here’s glorious salmon from the Uske!’ &c.
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Pembroke Castle




“Hic exarmatum terris cingentibus æquor,
Clauditur, et placidam descit servare quietem.”

“In agro totius Walliæ amœnissimo, principale provinciæ municipium Demetiæq. caput, in Saxosa quadam et oblonga rupis in capite bifurco complectitur. Unde Britannis Pembro dicitur, quod caput marinum sonat, et nobis Penbroke.”—Gyrald.

Earldom.—“There have been divers Earls of Pembroke,” says Camden, “out of sundry houses. As for Arnulph of Montgomery, who first wonne it, and was afterwards outlawed, and his castellan Girald, whom King Henry the First made afterwards president over the whole country, I dare scarcely affirm that they were Earles. The first that was styled Earle of Pembroke was Gilbert, surnamed ‘Strongbow,’[367] son of Gilbert de Clare, in the time of King Stephen. This Gilbert, or Gislebert, de Clare, let it unto his sonne, the said Richard Strongbow, the renowned conqueror of Ireland, and descended, as Gyraldus informs us, “ex clara Clarenium familia”—the noble family of Clare, or Clarence. His only daughter, Isabel,[368] brought the same honour to her husband, William, surnamed the Mareschal, for that his ancestours had beene by inheritance mareschals of the King’s palace, a man most glorious in war and peace,[369] and protector of the kingdome in the minority of K. Henry the Third,[370] concerning whom this pithie epitaph is extant in Rodburne’s Annales: ‘Sum quem Saturnus,’[371] &c., which is thus done into English—

‘Whom Ireland once a Saturn found, England a sunne to be;
Whom Normandie, a Mercury, and France, Mars,—I am he.’

“After him,” continues our authority, “his five sons were successively, one after another, Earles of Pembroke; namely, William, called the younger; Richard, who, after he had rebelled against King Henry the Third, went into Ireland, where he was slain in battle; Gilbert, who, in a tournament at Ware,[372] was unhorsed, and so killed; Walter and Anselm, who severally enjoyed the honor but a few daies; and all dying without issue, the King invested in the honor of this earldome William de Valentia, his brother by the mother’s side, who had to wife Joan, daughter of Gwarin de Montchensi, by the daughter of the foresaid William the Mareschal.”

Of this Earl Valence we read, shortly after this, that the King, solemnizing the festival of St. Edward’s translation, in the church at Westminster, with great state, sitting on his royal throne in “a rich robe of Baudekyn,” and the crown on his head, caused this William de Valence, with divers other young noblemen, to be brought before him, and so girt him with the sword of knighthood.

In a tournament held at Bruckley, it is said that he much abused Sir William Adingsells, a valiant knight, through the countenance of Richard, Earl of Gloucester. The following year he was signed with the cross, together with the King himself, and divers other noble persons, in order to an expedition to the Holy Land; and at the same time he obtained the King’s precept to Robert Walrane, to distrain all such persons as did possess any of the property belonging to Joan his wife, one of the cousins and heirs to Walter Mareschal, Earl of Pembroke, to perform their suit to the county of Pembroke, as they had wont to do in the time of that earl.[373]

This Earl Valence was present at the battle of Lewes, some particulars of which have been detailed in the first volume of this work. “When he had lost the day, and with the Prince was made prisoner, William de Valence, then called Earl of Pembroke, though not before, as it is thought, being a principal commander in the van of the King’s army, seeing the day lost, with the Earl of Warren and some others, escaped by flight, first to the castle of Pevensey,{295} and thence to France. After which, all being in the power of the Barons, his lands were seized, and those in Surrey and Sussex committed to the custody of John de Aburnum and John de Wanton. And whereas Joan his lady was then great with child, and with her family and children in Windsor Castle, she was commanded to depart thence, and betake herself to some religious house or other place near at hand, until after her delivery. In which distress, the King, still their prisoner, being forced to comply with them in whatsoever they required, submitted to their ordinances of Oxford; the chief of his friends also giving oath for the due observance of them; amongst whom this William de Valence, then come back into England, was one.”

But long it was not ere the two principal ringleaders in this tragic action, namely, Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and Clare, Earl of Gloucester, fell at odds—Clare stomaching Leicester for assuming to himself the whole sway in the government; betaking him, therefore, to those true-hearted Royalists who had stood firm to the King in his greatest miseries, a means was contrived for the Prince to escape from Hereford Castle, where, with the King his father, he was kept prisoner.” “Whereupon this

William, Earl of Pembroke, with John, Earl Warren, who had been banished the realm by a public edict of Montfort, landing at Pembroke, about the beginning of May, with about a hundred and twenty men, horse and foot, joined with them; and within a short time after, giving battle to Montfort and his party at Evesham, totally vanquished all their whole army; whereby the King, being set at liberty, was again restored to the exercise of his regal power.”[374]

This Earl William had issue three sons: to wit, John, who died young; William, and Aymer. “William was lord of Montygnac and Belluc; and in the 7th Edw. I. did oblige himself, on the behalf of John, Lord Visci, who had married Mary, the sister of Hugh de Lezinian (Lusignan), Earl of March, for the repayment of two thousand five hundred pounds Tournois, in case she should die without issue. After which, being with Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester, in a skirmish which he had with the Welsh, near Llantipowhir, was there slain in his father’s lifetime.” So that

Aymer de Valence, the third son—a name of great celebrity—succeeded to the earldom of Pembroke. He attended the King in the expedition made into Flanders; and the same year was assigned one of the commissioners to ratify the agreement betwixt the King and Florence, Earl of Holland, touching those auxiliaries which he was to have from that Earl in his present wars; as also one of the ambassadors sent to treat of truce betwixt King Edward and the{296} King of France. He next attended the King two years in his wars in Scotland; and was then sent ambassador to treat with those from the King of France, touching a peace with the Scots. Two years after this he was again in Scotland; and the same year (33d Edw. I.) he had license to go beyond sea on his own occasions.

On his return he obtained a grant from the King, of the castles of Selkirk and Troquair in Scotland; also of the borough of Peebles, to hold by the service of one knight’s fees; likewise of the whole forest of Selkirk in fee-farm, paying a hundred and thirty pounds per annum; and to be sheriff there [as Sir Walter Scott was in our own times, though with very different powers]; with authority to build towns, churches, castles, and other fortifications; as also for free warren, and power to deafforest and make parks therein at his own pleasure. Shortly after which he made a “pile”[375] at Selkirk, and placed a garrison therein. Next year he was sent, as Warden of the Marches of Scotland, toward Berwick-upon-Tweed; and being thereupon made the King’s Lieutenant, and Captain-General of the soldiery—horse and foot—for the defence of those parts against Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and his complices, he had an assignation of two hundred pounds in part of his wages, to be paid to him by John de Sandale, Chamberlain of Scotland.—[Chronicle.]

Shortly after this, Bruce, compassing that realm, and receiving the homage of many, came near to St. Johnstone [or Perth], to the defence whereof this Earl being arrived but a little before, Bruce sent to him, by way of challenge to battle, whereunto returning answer that he would meet him the next day, Bruce retired; which being discovered by this Earl, he sallied out and slew divers of the Scots, unarmed, as it is said. Bruce therefore being advertised hereof, fled to the Isle of Kintyre, whereupon he followed him, supposing to find him in the castle there. But upon his taking possession thereof, and discovering none but his wife, and Nigel de Bruce, his brother, he hanged up Nigel and all the rest who were with him, excepting only her. Bruce, therefore, growing exceedingly exasperated at this his great cruelty, raised all the power he could, and giving battle to him, forced him to flee to the castle of Ayr. Soon after this, being with King Edward, on his death-bed, at Burgh-upon-the-Sands, not far from Carlisle, he was one of those whom the King desired to be good to his son, and not to suffer Piers de Gaveston to come into England again, to set him in riot; for which he was much hated by Piers, as divers others of the nobility were, being called by him Joseph the Jew, in regard that he was tall, and pale of countenance.—[Chronicle.]

But as it would far exceed our present limits to notice all that the chronicles{297} have recorded of him, we conclude with a few brief particulars:—In the second of Edward II. he was sent with Otto de Grandison and others to the Pope upon special business; he next joined the Earl of Lancaster and others in the design of putting down Gaveston—agreeably to the promise he had made to the dying King; so likewise with John de Warren, Earl of Surrey, in the siege of Scarborough Castle, in which Gaveston had taken refuge; and having there seized upon him, intended to have carried him to Wallingford, but lodging him at Deddington in Oxfordshire, he was taken thence in the night by the Earl of Warwick, and by him beheaded on Blacklow Hill, near Warwick, where a monument has been erected to perpetuate the deed.

Three years after this, the Earl was sent again to Rome, and obtained a grant in general tail from the King, of the house and place called the “New Temple” in London, as also of certain lands called Fleet-crofts, with all other the lands in the city and suburbs of London, which belonged to the Knights-Templars, with remainder to the King and his heirs.

In the tenth of Edward II. he was engaged in the Scottish wars; but before the end of that year, being taken prisoner by Sieur Moilly, a Burgundian, and being sent to the Emperor, he was constrained to give twenty thousand pounds of silver for his ransom, by reason, as Moilly alleged, that himself having served the King of England, had not been paid his wages. Upon this occasion King Edward wrote letters to divers foreign princes, soliciting his deliverance, which was effected; for we find him immediately thereafter appointed governor of Rockingham Castle, and heading the King’s army in Scotland. But at last, after many important and honourable services to the State, performed with great ability, he was constituted Warden of all the Forests south of Trent; and being still Warden of Scotland, had license to travel beyond sea.

Upon the taking of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, at Boro’bridge, he was one of those who passed sentence of death upon him at Pontefract. “After which it was not long that he lived; for, attending Queen Isabella into France in 1323, he was there murdered in the month of June, by reason,” as the chronicle supposes, “of his having had a hand in the death of the Earl of Lancaster.” He left vast demesnes in England, in nine or ten counties, but no issue by any of his three wives.—[Chronicles.]

His eldest sister, Elizabeth, one of his heirs, “wedded unto John, Lord Hastings, brought this dignity into a new family; for Laurence Hastings, his grandson, Lord of Weishford and Abergavenny, was made Earle of ‘Penbrock,’[376] by virtue of King Edward the Third, his brieffe, the copy whereof I thinke good{298} to set doune here, that we may see what was the right by heires generall in these honorary titles. It runs thus:—Rex omnibus ad quos ... Salutem, etc. The which being interpreted, is—

Know ye that the good praesage of circumspection and vertue which we have conceived by the towardly youth and happy beginnings of our most welbeloved cousin Laurence Hastings, induce us worthily to countenance him with our especiall grace and favour, in those things which concerne the due preservation and maintenance of his honor: Whereas, therefore, the inheritance of Aimar de Valence, some time Earle of Penbrok (as he was stiled), deceased long since, without heire begotten of his body, hath beene devolved unto his sisters, proportionably to be divided among them and their heires: because we know for certain that the foresaid Laurence, who succeeded the said Aimar in part of the inheritance, is descended from the elder sister of Aimar aforesaid; and so, by the avouching of the learned with whom we consulted about this matter, the prerogative both of name and honor is due unto him: Wee deem it just and due that the same Laurence, claiming his title from the elder sister, assume and have the name of Earl of Penbroke, which the said Aimar had whiles he lived: which verily Wee, as much as lieth in Us, confirme, ratifie, and also approve unto him: willing and granting that the said Laurence have and hold the prerogative of Earle Palatine in those lands which he holdeth of the said Aimar’s inheritance, so fully and after the same manner as the said Aimar had and held them at the time of his death. In witnesse, the King at Mont-Martin, the thirteenth day of October, and in the thirteenth of oure reign.”

And now to continue:—

After Laurence, succeeded his sonne John, who, being taken prisoner by the Spaniards in a battle at sea, and in the end ransomed, died in France in the yeere 1375. The circumstances are these: “Having undergone four years’ imprisonment in Spaine, with most inhumane usage, he sent to Bertrand Clekyn, Constable of France, desiring that he would use some means for his enlargement; who thereupon interceding for him to the Bastard of Spaine, then calling himself King, obtained his liberty, in consideration of part of that money due to himself: which being agreed upon, he was brought to Paris. But after his coming thither, it was not long ere he fell mortally sick of poysin, as some thought, given him by the Spaniards, who were reputed to have such a special faculty in that art, as that the potion should kill at what distance of time they pleased. The French, therefore, seeing his death approaching, being eager to get his ransom before he died, made haste to remove him to Calais; but on his journey thitherward he departed this life, upon the xvi. day of April, leaving his sonne and heire only two and a half years old.”

Agreeably to the superstition of the time, all his misfortunes and death were{299} looked upon as judgments, for various alleged offences committed against the Church revenues: recommending that the clergy should be taxed more than the laity—for living an ungodly life—for “everything that could render him hateful in the eyes of monks, whom he insulted and exposed.”

After him followed his sonne John, second Earle of his line, who, in running a tilt[377] at Woodstock, was slaine by Syr John Saint John, casually, in the yeare 1397. And hereupon, for default of his issue, there fell very many possessions and fair revenewes into the King’s hands, as our lawiers use to speake: and the Castle of Penbrock was granted unto Francis At-Court, a courtier in especiell great favour, who commonly thereupon was called Lord Penbrock. Not long after, Humfrey, sonne to King Henry the Fourth, before he was Duke of Gloucester, received this title of his brother, King Henry the Fifth: and before his death Henry the Sixth granted the same in reversion—a thing not before heard of—to William De la Pole, Earle of Suffolk, after whose downfall the said King, when he had enabled Edmund of Wadham, and Jasper of Hatfield, the sonnes of Queen Katherine, his mother, to be his lawfull half brethren, created Jasper Earle of Penbroke, and Edmund Earl of Richmond, with pre-eminence to take place above all Earles—for Kings have absolute authority in dispensing honours. But King Edward the Fourth, depriving Jasper of all his honours by attainder and forfeiture, gave the title of Penbrok to Syr William Herbert, for his good service against Jasper in Wales;[378] but he shortly afterwards lost his life at the battle of Banbury. Then succeeded his son, bearing the same name, whome King Edward the Fourth, when he had recovered the kingdom, invested in the Earldom of Huntingdon, and bestowed the title of Penbrok, being surrendered, upon his eldest sonne and heire, Edward Prince of Wales.—[Chronicle.]


Long after this period, “Henry the Eighth invested Anne Bollen, to whom he was affianced, Marchioness of Penbroke, with a mantle and coronet, in regard both of her nobility and also her virtues—for so runne the wordes of the patent. At length King Edward the Sixth adorned Sir William Herbert, lord of Caerdiff, with the title of Earl of Penbroke, after whom succeeded his sonne Henry, who was Lord President of Wales under Queen Elizabeth. And now”—says our old King-at-arms, speaking courteously of his contemporaries—“his sonne, richly accomplished with all laudable endowments of body and minde, enjoyeth the same title. And this family of Herberts, he concludes, is honourable, and of great antiquity in these parts of Wales, as lineally propagated from Henry Fitz-Herbert, Chamberlayne to King Henry the First, who married the said King’s Paramour, the mother of Reginald, Earle of Cornwall, as I was first informed by Robert Glover, a man passing skilfull in the study of genealogies, by whose untimely death that knowledge hath sustained a great losse.”

So much for the Genealogy of the old lords of Pembroke. In this department of history—the tracing of genealogies—in which the Cambrian families are proverbially expert, but which others affect to ridicule, we must not omit the defence of a learned Welshman: “That there have been,” says he, “parasites in the art, must be acknowledged; and family pride may sometimes have been flattered. However, upon the whole, much credit is due to our ancient genealogists, who were appointed and patronized by Royalty, and professed that art prior to their initiation into the higher mysteries of Bardism. Their records are still extant, and bear every mark of authenticity. A bard and a genealogist were synonymous; and though a bard can plead licentia poetica, yet fiction was not allowed in recording the actions of their heroes,[379] nor in registering the descent of families. The Welsh bards continued their genealogical pursuits down to the reign of Elizabeth; therefore, as Humphrey Lwyd, a learned antiquary and historian, observes: “Let such disdainful heads as cant know their own grandfathers, leave their scoffing and taunting of Welshmen for that thing that all other nations in the world do glory in.” Yet, in justice to the ancient Saxons on this point, it must be allowed that they themselves were not altogether indifferent to the study of genealogy, since their deducing of their King Ethelwulph from Adam is an instance of their accuracy in the art—

“Can Bourbon or Nassau go higher?”[380]

On the “Herbert genealogy,” Mr. Willatt relates the following characteristic{301} Anecdote.—About two miles from Abergavenny, says he, is Handel—once a mansion of no less magnificence than antiquity; but in the present day it is only interesting from its having been the cradle of the ancient and numerous family of Herbert. Of the vast possessions of this family, the inheritance of the last lineal descendant, who died twenty years ago, had dwindled down to less than two hundred a year. But however reduced in fortune, his pride of ancestry had lost nothing of its strength or spirit by the change. Meeting a stranger one day near his mansion, who took an interest in the local history and natural beauties of the scenery, they entered into conversation.

“And pray, Sir,” inquired the stranger, “whose is that antique-looking mansion before us?”

“That, Sir,” replied the last of the Herberts, “is Handel—a very ancient house, for out of it came the Earls of Pembroke of the first line; and the Earls of Pembroke of the second line; the Lords Herbert of Cherburg; the Herberts of Coldbrook, Rumney, Cardiff, and York; the Morgans of Acton came out of it; so also did the Earl of Hunsdon; the Joneses of Treowen and Llanarth, and all the Powells. Out of this house also, by the female line, came the Dukes of Beaufort!”

“And pray, Sir,” inquired the stranger, “who lives in it now?”

“I, Sir—I live in it,” was the answer.

“Then pardon me, Sir, if I presume to give you a little advice. Do not lose sight of so many prudent examples, but come out of it yourself, or it will assuredly fall in upon you, and crush you in its ruins!”

With this digression, suggested by the subject, we return to Pembroke.

The Castle.—In the words of Giraldus, already quoted in our motto, the situation of the Castle of Pembroke is thus correctly described:—A tongue of the sea, shooting forth of Milford-Haven, encloseth in the forked end thereof the principal town of the whole country, and chief place of Dimetia, seated on the ridge of a certain craggy and long-shaped rock, from which circumstance the Britons gave it the name of Penbro, which signifies a head of the sea. Arnulph Montgomery, so often mentioned in the early portion of this work, was the first who built a temporary fortress on this promontory—a very weak and slender thing, God wot, says Giraldus—consisting of merely walls, held together by stake and turf; and which, after returning into England, he delivered unto Girald of Windesor, his constable and captain, to be kept with a garrison of a few soldiers. The absence of Arnulph, however, was the signal for immediate revolt; and the warlike inhabitants of South Wales hastening to the spot, laid siege to the brittle fortress. But here they met with such a hot reception and stubborn resistance from Girald and his small garrison, that they were speedily disheartened and raised the siege. This attack served as a warning for Girald{302} to strengthen his position; and he lost no time in fortifying the town and castle with walls and towers, sufficient to maintain him in quiet possession of the new territory. When this was accomplished, he began to retaliate; and acting upon the aggressive, invaded the surrounding country far and near. At length, finding himself at the head of a powerful garrison, yet willing to conciliate the natives—and thereby preserve his own estates and those of his followers free from the vexation of hostile irruptions—he ingratiated himself with Gruffin, the prince of the country, who gave him his sister, the beautiful Nesta,[381] in marriage; and thus cemented a friendly alliance between the native Welsh and the Anglo-Normans. Great prosperity followed this event, and the Anglo-Normans—as Giraldus Cambrensis, who was a scion of the family, informs us—not only maintained peace along the sea-coasts of South Wales, but won also the “waulls of Ireland.”

The Giraldus de Windesor above mentioned was the first of that name; and is considered as the great progenitor of the Fitzgeralds of the present day—of whom the chief families are of Irish extraction, and familiar in the pages of modern history.

It is also written in the same documents, in regard to the tenure of this castle and town, likewise of the “castle and town of Tenbigh, of the Grange of Kingswood, of the Convent of Croytargath, and of the manors of Castle-Martin and Tregoire, that Reginald Grey, at the coronation of King Henry the Fourth, made suit to carry the second sword, but in vain; for answer was made him, that those castles and possessions were in the King’s hands, in the same manner as the town and castle of Pembroke now are”—[that is, at the date of the present extract.]

The Siege.—We now proceed to give a few details of Pembroke Castle, as it figures in the chronicles of Richard the Third and Charles the First.

The more rational and less bigoted part of the nation regarded Henry, Earl of Richmond, as the future deliverer of the kingdom, from the thraldom it endured from the tyranny of the sanguinary King Richard; for in Henry were to be united the pretensions of both the “Houses” of York and Lancaster. The Earl was, meanwhile, resident in Brittany, and living on good terms with the duke of that Province, who appeared to favour his claims, and treated him with marked respect and hospitality. But the circumstance that more immediately favoured his accession to the throne of England was the following:—Morton, Bishop of Ely, was confined in the Castle of Brecon, in custody of Henry, Duke of Buckingham, who had been a minion of Richard, and a power{303}ful instrument of his advancement to the throne; but finding that his services in a bad cause were forgotten, and that Richard refused to ratify his claims to the Bohun estates and titles—to which he was heir—Buckingham entered warmly into the plans concerted by Morton and others for the recall of Richmond, and by his marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Edward the Fourth, to establish a double right to the throne. Dugdale assigns another reason for Buckingham’s secession from the usurper: after asserting that he was reinstated in those possessions which he claimed as a descendant of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, and giving him an abstract of the instrument that put him in possession, he adds his opinion on the alteration which took place in his political sentiments, and ascribes it either to a remorse of conscience for raising Richard to the throne, after the murder of his nephews, or finding himself neglected by him: but with this question we have nothing to do.[382] Having concerted the plan of elevating Richmond to the throne, the secret was intrusted to Sir Rhys-ap-Thomas, and Richard Kyffin, Dean of Bangor—both strenuous friends of the House of Lancaster—who transmitted, by means of fishing-boats, the necessary intelligence to the Earl of Richmond, with assurance of all possible aid on his arrival in Wales. This was an occasion too alluring for the Welsh Bards to continue silent; one of whom, Dafydd ap Llwyd ap Llywelyn ap Dryffyd, lord of Mathafarn, an illustrious poet and herald, rendered himself very serviceable in the cause. His dark, mysterious, Pythonic prophecies, that a chieftain of Wales would liberate the nation from Saxon bondage, so wrought upon the valour of his countrymen, that many thousands enlisted under the banner of Sir Rhys-ap-Thomas, who afterwards joined Richmond on his arrival at Milford.

Apprized of the state and feeling of the country, and of the facilities which were now presented to him of recovering his position and station, Henry embraced the invitation as a message from Heaven; and, in the month of August, 1485, set sail for England. For this enterprise the Duke of Brétagne furnished him with a military force of two thousand men; and, with these distributed in a small fleet, he landed at Milford-Haven, where he was received with joy and acclamation by a vast concourse of friends, who now openly espoused his cause and predicted his triumph.

From Milford, Richmond proceeded to Dale and Haverfordwest, where he was joined by the above-named Sir Rhys-ap-Thomas, Arnold Butler, Richard Gryffydd, John Morgan, Sir George Talbot, with the young Earl of Shrewsbury, his ward, Sir William Stanley, lord of Bromfield Yale and Chirkland, Sir Thomas Burchier, and Sir Walter Hungerford.[383]

After a most hospitable reception at Carew Castle, it was agreed, in order to{304} prevent disputes between the armies, that in the march to Shrewsbury, the Earl should shape his course to Cardigan, and Sir Rhys-ap-Thomas by Carmarthen. In this march, Dafydd-ap-Ievan had the honour of entertaining the illustrious Prince and his army at Llwyn-Dafydd, Cardiganshire, for one night; and the following night he was received with loyal enthusiasm at Wern-Newyd, by Einon-ap-Dafyd Llwyd. To Dafydd-ap-Ievan the Earl presented a superb hirlas, or drinking-horn, richly mounted on a silver stand, which was afterwards presented to Richard, Earl of Carbery, and may still be seen[384] at Golden Grove, the seat of Lord Cawdor, Carmarthen.

“Pride of feasts, profound and blue,
Of the ninth wave’s azure hue;
The drink of heroes formed to hold,
With art enriched and lid of gold.”—Hoare’s Gir.

From his hospitable quarters in Cardiganshire, Richmond sallied forth to meet the usurper; and marching through Shrewsbury, Newport, Stafford, and Lichfield, encountered him at Bosworth—

“What, ho! young Richmond, ho! ’tis Richard calls thee!
I hate thee, Harry, for thy blood of Lancaster!
Now, if thou dost not hide thee from my sword,
Now, while the angry trumpet sounds alarms
And dying groans transpierce the wounded air;
Richmond, I say, come forth and singly face me!
Richard is hoarse with daring thee to arms!”

The fate of that day is so familiar in the page of Shakspeare, that we close this part of our subject, and proceed to other particulars:—

Anecdote.—Of one of Richmond’s adherents, the following is told by Turner in his “History of Remarkable Providences:”—Mr. Henry Wyatt, a gentleman of Kent, was a confederate in the plan, and intrusted with the correspondence between the friends of the Earl, which he conducted with great personal risk, but the greatest fidelity, being the bearer of several dispatches to and from the parties at home and abroad. But at last his conduct being suspected, he was arrested, examined, and discharged for want of conclusive evidence. But on a second charge being brought against him, he was committed to the Tower, and there put to the torture; but such were his fortitude and resolution, that nothing could be drawn from him either to prove his own participation in the designs laid to his charge, or to incriminate others. Finding threats, tortures, and fair promises alike unavailing, he was cast into a dungeon, fed upon bread and water, and thus continued until the question of supremacy was decided by the battle of Bosworth Field. The pittance, it is said, to which he was condemned, would have been quite inadequate to support nature, had not a{305} cat brought him food daily. He lived to be made a baronet, in compliment to his unflinching loyalty, and served in the Privy Council of Henry VII.-VIII.

A picture is said to be still preserved in the family, in which a cat is represented creeping in at a grate—having a pigeon in its mouth—with these lines:—

Hunc. macrum. rigidum. mæstum. fame. frigore. cura
Pavi. fovi. acui. carne. calore. joco.

Cromwell, before marching against the Scottish army, thought it advisable to suppress the returning loyalty of South Wales, which had recently defeated the Parliamentary forces. The town and castle of Pembroke had been consigned by Parliament to the government and defence of Colonel Poyer; but on his declaring for the King, the “gallant conduct of himself and the garrison afforded a brilliant example of devotion to the Royal cause.” The defence was continued with so much obstinacy and resolution, that the presence of Cromwell himself was necessary for the reduction of the castle: while the garrison, having suffered for some time from great deficiency of provisions, was at last—owing, as we shall see, to Lord Jermyn’s total neglect of his engagements—reduced to the verge of absolute famine.

Cromwell, in the meantime, was quite unaware of the real position of affairs within the walls; and thinking, from the resistance already offered, that the place might hold out much longer than would be consistent with his other plans, was on the point of raising the siege. But while this question was agitating his mind, a deserter from the Royalist camp brought him intelligence that, owing to the pressure of famine, it was impossible that Poyer and his companions could maintain their post beyond twenty-four hours. This unexpected news determined him to continue the siege; but however much he prized his timely information, he determined to express his abhorrence of the “informer;” and—as a salutary warning to all traitors—he ordered him to be hanged.

It has been doubted, however, whether, in his “military capacity,” Cromwell was ever in this part of Wales—though Mr. Yorke allows that he might have made a friendly visit there; for in an old house at Kinmael, that once belonged to the Llwyds, of the tribe of Maredudd—but at that period to Colonel Carter, an officer in his favour—there is a room called Cromwell’s parlour; and, with other circumstances taken into consideration, little doubt, he thinks, can be entertained of Cromwell’s having in person conducted the siege of Pembroke.[385]{306}

But the following documents, written by Oliver Cromwell himself, are conclusive:—

“To Major Thomas Saunders, at Brecknock, these:

“Before Pembroke, 17th June, 1648.

Sir,—I send you this enclosed by itself, because it’s of greater moment. The other you may communicate to Mr. Ramsey, as far as you think fit, and I have written. I would not have him and other honest men be discouraged that I think it not fit, at present, to enter into contests. It will be good to yield a little for public advantage; and truly that is my end: wherein I desire you to satisfy them. I have sent, as my letter mentions, to have you remove out of Brecknockshire; indeed, into that part of Glamorganshire which lieth next Monmouthshire. For this end: We have plain discoveries that Sir Trevor Williams of Llangibby,” &c., [is suspected, and must be secured. See “Raglan,” page 178.]


Pembroke, June 28.—I have some few days since despatched horse and dragoons for the North. I sent them by the way of Winchester; thinking it fit to do so in regard of this enclosed letter, which I received from Colonel Dukenfield: requiring them to give him assistance on the way.”... “Here is, as I have formerly acquainted your Excellency, a very desperate enemy, who, being put out of all hope of mercy, are resolved to endure to the uttermost extremity, being very many of them gentlemen of quality, and men thoroughly resolved. They have made some notable sallies upon Lieutenant-Colonel Reade’s quarter, to his loss. [Reade had been intrusted with the siege of Tenby, ended June 2, and was now assisting at the reduction of Pembroke.] We are forced to keep divers posts, or else they would have relief, or their horse break away; our foot about them are four and twenty hundred; we always necessitated to have some in garrisons. The country, since we sat down before this place, have made two or three insurrections, and are ready to do it every day. So that—what with looking to them, and disposing our horse to that end, and to get us in provisions, without which we should starve—this country being so miserably exhausted and so poor, and we with no money to buy victuals. Indeed, whatever may be thought, it’s a mercy we have been able to keep our men together in the midst of such necessity, the sustenance of the foot, for most part, being but bread and water. Our guns, through the unhappy accident at Berkley, are not yet come to us; and, indeed, it was a very unhappy thing they were brought thither, the wind having been always so cross, that since they were recovered from sinking, they could not come to us: and this place not being to be had without fit instruments for battering—except by starving. And truly I believe the enemy’s straits do increase upon them; and{307} that within a few days an end will be put to this business—which surely might have been before, if we had received things wherewith to have done it....”

Pembroke, July 11, 1648.—To Hon. W. Lenthal, Esq., Speaker of the House of Commons.

Sir,—The town and castle of Pembroke were surrendered to me this day, being the eleventh of July, upon the provisions which I send you here enclosed. [See Rushworth, vol. vii., 1190.] What arms, ammunition, victuals, ordnance, or other necessaries of war, are in the town, I have not to certify you—the commissioners I sent in to receive the same not being yet returned, nor like suddenly to be; and I was unwilling to defer giving you an account of this mercy for a day. The persons excepted are such as have formerly served you in a very good cause; but being now apostatized, I did rather make election of them than of those who had always been for the King, judging their iniquity double, because they have sinned against so much light, and against so many evidences of divine Providence going along with and prospering a just cause, in the management of which they themselves had a share.

“I rest your humble servant, Ol. C.

[Colonel Poyer has had to surrender the castle; Maj.-Gen. Laugharne and certain other “persons excepted,” have had to surrender at mercy; a great many more on terms. “Pembroke happily is down, and the Welsh war is ended.”]

The “certain persons” here alluded to were Colonels Laugharne, Powel, and Poyer. They were tried by court-martial and found guilty; but Parliament having determined to punish only one, three papers were given to them, on two of which were written, “Life given by God;” the blank paper fell into the hands of the unfortunate Poyer, and served as his death-warrant.

Of these three officers—“heads of the insurrection in South Wales”—Clarendon gives the following account:—“Laugharne, Powel, and Poyer, commanded those parts under the Parliament, which they had served from the beginning. The first of them was a gentleman of good extraction, and a fair fortune in land in those counties, who had been bred a page under the Earl of Essex, when he had a command in the Low Countries, and continued his dependence upon him afterwards, and was much in his favour; and by that relation was first engaged in the rebellion, as many other gentlemen had been without wishing ill to the King. The second, Powel, was a gentleman too, but a soldier of fortune: the third, Poyer, had from a low trade raised himself in the war to the reputation of a very diligent and stout officer, and was at this time trusted by the Parliament with the government of the town and castle of Pem{308}broke. These three communicated their discontents to each other, and all thought themselves ill-requited by the Parliament for the services they had done, and that other men, especially Colonel Mitten, were preferred before them; and resolved to take the opportunity of the Scots coming in, to declare for the King upon the Presbyterian account. But Laugharne, who was not infected with any of these freaks, and doubted not to reduce the other two when it should be time to sober resolution, would not engage till he first sent a confidant to Paris, to inform the Prince of what he had determined, and of what their wants consisted, which if not relieved, they should not be able to pursue their purpose, desiring to receive orders for the time of their declaring, and assurance that they should in time receive those supplies they stood in need of. And the Lord Jermyn sent him a promise under his hand, ‘that he should not fail of receiving all the things he had desired, before he could be pressed by the enemy,’ and therefore conjured him and his friends ‘forthwith to declare for the King, which, he assured them, would be of singular benefit and advantage to his Majesty’s service, since, upon the first notice of their having declared, the Scottish army would be ready to march into England.’ Hereupon they presently declared, before they were provided to keep the field for want of ammunition and money, and when Pembroke was not supplied with provisions for above two months, and were never thought of after.”

Pembroke Castle contained many elegant apartments, appropriated to the use of its lords, in one of which Henry VII. first saw the light of day. In the inner ward stands the Keep, a circular tower of vast strength and elegant proportions. The height is computed at seventy feet, the interior diameter at twenty-four, and the walls from fourteen to seventeen feet in thickness. The State Apartments appear to have been finished in a style of great elegance. On the north of the great tower is a long range of apartments, which seem to be of more recent construction, or to have been modernised in later times by one or other of its titled proprietors. From this part of the castle a staircase communicates with Leland’s “marvellus vault callid the Hogan”—a large cavern in the rock, opening upon the water, and extending a great way under the buildings. The entrance is now partially walled up, and formed into a spacious doorway. The name Hogan—which has occasioned some discussion among antiquaries and etymologists—is probably derived from ogof or ogov, the British name for a cavern. This castle is justly considered one of the most splendid remnants of military architecture in the United Kingdom; and, from the state of preservation in which it is maintained, the design and execution of every compartment may still be traced with accuracy and precision.

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Pembroke Castle.

Interior of the Great Court.




CARDIFF, a neat and well-built town, stands at the mouth of the river Taafe, from which it probably derives its name.[386] Its chief ornaments are the church and the castle—the latter a structure of great antiquity, and now converted into a modern residence, in which the features of a Norman stronghold are made to harmonize with the embellishments of a refined age; and where, instead of prancing steeds and bristling spears, the ballia are lined with wallflower, shrubberies, and all those tranquil emblems, which indicate the reign of peace, and the cultivation of taste. Such innovations and refinements, however, are rather out of character with the place.

The town, when such protection was necessary, was surrounded by a wall, flanked with towers, and fit to resist and repulse an army of besiegers; but these warlike appendages, like those who built them, have passed away, and left behind them little more than the tradition of their massive strength and number. The towers, as well as the castle, were the work of Fitz-Hamon, who, as already noticed, possessed himself of Glamorganshire at the close of the eleventh century, and divided the spoils among his retainers. The following account of his expedition—somewhat different from the chronicle above quoted—is from Caradoc of Llancarvan:[387]—About the same time also died Cadifor, the son of Calhoyn, lord of Dyfed, whose sons, Llewellyn and Eineon, moved Gruffydh-ap-Meredith to take up arms against his sovereign prince, Rhys-ap-Twdor, with whom they joined all the forces they could levy among their tenants and dependants; and then passing with their army to Llandydoch, boldly challenged Rhys to fight; who thereupon gave them battle, and after an engagement, maintained with great resolution on both sides, the rebels were{310} at length put to flight, and so closely pursued that Gruffydh was taken prisoner, and executed as a traitor. But his brother Eineon making his escape, and not daring to trust himself to any of his kindred, fled to Jestyn-ap-Gurgant, lord of Morgannwe, then in actual rebellion against Prince Rhys. And, to ingratiate himself the more in Jestyn’s favour, he promised, on the performance of certain articles—one of which was, that he should receive his daughter in marriage—that he would bring over to his aid a considerable body of Normans, with whom he was intimately acquainted, from the fact of his having served with them in England. These articles being agreed to, Eineon hastened across the frontier, and soon prevailed on Fitz-Hamon and his knights to take up the cause of Jestyn. Early in the spring they arrived in Glamorganshire, and joining Jestyn marched with their combined forces into the dominions of Prince Rhys, where, without the least show of mercy to his countrymen, Eineon, by his own example, encouraged the Normans to destroy all that came before them. The prince, then more than ninety-eight years of age, and sadly grieved to find his people and territory so unmercifully harassed, speedily raised an army and marched against the invaders. They met near Brecknock, and there, after a most sanguinary engagement, the venerable prince fell at the head of his army, and left his country a prey to Norman domination. Having discharged their stipulated service, and received the promised reward, Fitz-Hamon and his army prepared to embark for England. But before they set sail, Eineon made his complaint that Jestyn had ungratefully affronted him, and absolutely refused—now that the Normans were dismissed—to make good the conditions previously agreed upon between them; and such was the malignity of his revenge, that he resolved rather to see his country pass under the yoke of the Normans, than continue under the dominion of a chief who could thus forget the hand that had procured him the victory. He therefore made use of every argument most likely to influence the Norman spirit, and prevailed. They returned from their ships and prepared for another campaign; and great was the surprise of Jestyn when he learned that the friends whom he had so lately dismissed laden with the reward of their services, and satisfied with his liberality, were again on shore with the avowed intention of engaging him in mortal conflict. He now lamented his folly in having so rashly broken his promise with Eineon; but that was an error which it was now too late to rectify. The Norman standard was once more waving from the adjoining heights. The soldiers were animated with the prospect of another victory—the rich spoils they were to share—and charmed with the accounts which Eineon had promulgated among them, as baits to their cupidity, of the fertile settlements that here awaited them. The conflict was brief. Jestyn had little to oppose to men who were resolved to possess themselves of{311} the country. Unable to protract the contest, he abandoned his lordship of Glamorgan to the invader, and retired into obscurity—there to meditate on his own folly, and the degradation to which it had reduced him.

The Normans, as usual, took the “lion’s share.” They divided the best portions of the soil—all that was most pleasant and productive—among themselves; and left only the mountainous and craggy ground to Eineon, with whatever enjoyment a sense of gratified revenge, and the voluntary subjugation of his country, was calculated to furnish. From this moment the Normans were established in Wales; and soon began to erect those monuments of their sway, which it is our present object to notice and illustrate.

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Curthose Tower.—The apartment where Prince Robert was confined by his unnatural brother, is traditionally known as “Curthose’s Tower.” So in Chepstow Castle, the keep is distinguished as “Marten’s Tower;” but between the fate of the two prisoners, who have left their names thus associated, there is no resemblance. The more illustrious the captive, the more dismal was the cell in which he was immured. It must have been at all times a wretched{312} dungeon, such only as a malignant fiend would have assigned to its human victim. A ray of light, barely sufficient to distinguish the difference between night and day, is admitted by a small square hole perforated through the wall upwards; and the mere fact of his having existed in this dreary cell for the long period of twenty-six years, proves that Robert Curthose must have possessed no ordinary degree of fortitude and resignation. But the courage inspired by conscious innocence is proof against the machinations of Fortune—

“He that has light within his own clear breast,
May sit i’ th’ centre and enjoy bright day;
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun—
Himself is his own dungeon.”

The sufferings inflicted upon Robert in this dismal prison, are a theme on which the old chronicles dilate with painful minuteness. It would be a relief to imagine that the acts of wanton cruelty practised upon the defenceless victim, may have been, like many other points of history, exaggerated or misrepresented; but, taken in connection with other deeds of the time, there is but too just grounds to conclude that the story of Robert’s imprisonment, and the tortures with which it was accompanied, is no fable, but one of those tragical dramas of real life, to which the force of imagination can impart no additional horror. The subject, although referred to in the previous volume of this work, may justify a few more extracts:—

“But long it was not ere Duke Robert, weary of this unwonted duresse, sought to escape; and having to walke in the Kinge’s meadows, forests, and parkes, brake from his keepers without any assisters, or meanes for security; who being missed was presently pursued and taken in a quagmire, wherein his horse lay fast. Whereupon the King hearing of this attempt, considering that woods were no walls to restrain the fierce lyon, and that to play with his claws was to endanger the state, commanded him not onely a greater restraint and harder durance, but also—a thing unfit for a brother to suffer, and most unworthy for Beauclearke to act—both his eyes to be put out. To effect this truly barbarous act, he caused his head to be held in a burning basin—thereby avoiding the deformity of breaking the eye-balls—until the glassie tunicles had lost the office of retaining their light.”

But at last, after twenty-six years’ imprisonment, “through griefe conceived at the putting on of a faire new roabe—(too little for the Kinge himselfe, and therefore, ‘in kindnesse,’ says the Chronicle, ‘sent to Duke Robert to weare’)—he grew weary of his life, as disdaining to be mocked with his brother’s cast cloaths; and cursing the time of his unfortunate nativity, refused thenceforth to take any sustenance, and so pined himselfe to death.{313}

Cardiff, in later times, was a point on which Owen Glendower discharged his vengeance. The inhabitants of Glamorganshire, as descendants of the Norman conquerors above named, were pre-eminently distinguished for their loyalty to the King, and their oppression of the natives. But now they were to feel “the dire resentment of an irritated injured countryman.” The visit of Ivor Bach to Fitz-Hamon was not more welcome than this of Owen to his descendants. “Ivor Bach, a Briton,” says Camden, “who dwelt in the mountains, a man of small stature but of resolute courage, marched by night with a band of soldiers, and seized Cardiff Castle, carrying away William, Earl of Gloucester, Fitz-Hamon’s grandson by the daughter, together with his wife and son, whom he detained prisoners until he had received full satisfaction for all former injuries.” The residence of this renowned Briton was Castell Goch, an outport of Cardiff. He was attached to the daughter of Jestyn-ap-Gwrgant above named; and being rejected as a suitor for her hand, he stormed Cardiff Castle, carried her off by force; but, being overtaken in his retreat near a valley called Pant-coed Ivor, he fell under the swords of his pursuers.

To return to Glendower: “Having burnt, pursuant to his desolating system, the Bishop’s palace of Llandaff and other houses, he proceeded to Cardiff, which he also consigned to the flames.” The town in these days contained many religious houses—“a goodly priory founded by Robert, the first Earl of Gloucester; a priory of Black Monks, or Benedictines; a house of Black Friars in Crokerton Street; a house of Grey Friars, dedicated to St. Francis, under the custody or wardship of Bristol; and also a house of White Friars.” None of these houses experienced any favour from Glendower except the Franciscans, who, having been firm adherents to King Richard, and on good terms with Owen, escaped the conflagration; for the whole town was burnt down except the street where their monastery stood. In this destructive raid through Glamorganshire, he demolished the ancient Castle of Penmarc, which belonged to Gilbert Humphreville, one of Fitz-Hamon’s knights, before named; and which has remained in ruins ever since.[388] But we need not prosecute these records of a barbarous age further than our subject demands.{314}



“Terra hæc triticea est marinis piscibus, vino que venali copiose referta; et quod omnibus præstat, ex Hiberniæ confinio aëris salubritate temperata.”—Gyraldus.

TENBY, so justly celebrated in the present day as a delightful watering-place, possesses in its traditions and antiquities many features of deep interest to the archæologist; and although not selected as a subject of special illustration in this work, it is fully entitled to the admiration of the tourist—whether in search of health, the gray landmarks of History, or studying the picturesque face of Nature in one of her most delightful aspects. Part of its buildings occupy the crest of an almost insulated tongue of land projecting into the sea; others slope down gradually to the harbour at its foot; while the extreme point of the promontory is crowned with the ruins of the Castle. “Nothing,” to quote the words of a late sketch,[389] “can be prettier than its little bay, encircled with rocks of romantic unusual form, and beautiful warm rich colouring, in some places overhung with wood, more crystalline than the emerald sea which washes their base, or more white and firm than the rim of sand which encircles it. In addition to these, the expanse of sea is everywhere magnificent. Nothing can surpass the view from the highest part of the town, where it overlooks the busy little Harbour—the Castle—the Bay, with Caldy Island; the black Rocks of Giltar Point—the distant Mountains of Carmarthenshire—and the Peninsula of Gower, with its conspicuous and fantastic termination—the Worm’s Head Promontory.

“To these natural beauties must be added the mingling of old-world relics with its modern buildings; traces of towers and fortifications, antiquated back streets, and crumbling fragments of the Castle, hanging over the verge of its sea-beaten rock. But a still greater recommendation to ordinary visitors is the extreme purity and softness of the air, the neatness and cleanliness of the streets,{315} the quiet yet cheerful look of the place, and the romantic coast-scenery of the neighbourhood, with the ruins of castles and other buildings thickly studded within the circuit of a few miles.” With all these before us, it may well be questioned whether any other watering-place in the kingdom can offer a combination of attractions equal to those of Tenby.

The town appears to have derived its earliest importance from its fisheries;[390] and this, added to the many obvious advantages of its site, at a time when the Anglo-Norman lords made their first successful descent upon these shores, clearly pointed it out as a fit locality for the establishment of a new colony, and the erection of a strong castle for their protection. When the Flemish settlers—after being driven from their own home by successive inundations—had this coast assigned to them, the prosperity of Tenby became gradually accelerated and secured. Under the example of that industrious people, who had brought with them a more refined knowledge of commercial intercourse and its numerous advantages, the harbour was improved, the population of the town were soon engaged in an extensive woollen manufactory, which, with an increase of inland and foreign traffic, gradually enriched and enlarged the place. The commercial spirit of the inhabitants, by increasing the wealth of the native lords, procured for Tenby the numerous privileges and immunities which it received under successive governments; while the Earls of Pembroke, much to their honour, were liberal and munificent in the foundation and endowment of religious and charitable institutions.

History.—Among the historical facts in the records of Tenby, is the escape of Richmond, afterwards Henry the Seventh, from this harbour, by the connivance of Thomas White, the mayor. “Henry, who had been besieged in Pembroke Castle, succeeded at last in passing the guard, and making his way to the nearest harbour, where he meant to embark for the continent.” Here he was received by the mayor, a wealthy wine merchant, whose commercial intercourse with France gave him every facility for serving the Prince in this necessitous position of his fortunes. He was no sooner aware that young Richmond and his mother were in need of his advice and aid, than he provided them with a temporary shelter from all danger of their enemies; and as soon as a vessel could be got ready, conducted them on board, and placing the royal fugitives under the care of a skilful and trusty skipper, commended them to Heaven, and saw them safely entered on their prosperous voyage to Brittany.

It is pleasing to add that, when the fortunes of Richmond had placed him on the throne, the generous conduct of the worthy mayor of Tenby was not{316} forgotten. The royal favour was expressed by giving him a life-grant of the King’s lands in and around Tenby, with all the privileges thereto belonging; and thus making him, in his own person and experience, a pleasing exception to the proverbial ingratitude of princes.

The town was formerly—and so long as fortifications were indispensable—a place of great strength. But of the massive walls and gates, by which it was attached to the Castle as a citadel, the remains present no features of paramount interest, except, perhaps, to the plodding antiquary, whose eyes penetrate far below the surface, and trace bastions and circumvallations where ordinary men see nothing but the weeds that cover them.

The Church is a capacious edifice—not remarkable for its architecture, but with a lofty spire which, like most others on the coast, serves as an imposing landmark. Churches, dedicated to St. Nicholas, were generally planted on some commanding eminence overlooking the sea; so that a glimpse of the sacred landmark might inspire the bewildered mariner with fresh courage to renew the struggle, or new light to direct his course, when overtaken by storms or darkness.

The interior of the Church is enriched with an elaborately-carved ceiling, and various sepulchral antiquities—some of which are curious and interesting. But that to which the stranger will probably turn with a partial eye, is the tomb of the worthy Mayor already named, containing the effigies of John and Thomas White in the quaint costume of their time, which it was the great merit of “old mortality” sculptors to imitate, in strict subserviency to the tailor and embroiderer. Here also—as in several other churches elsewhere—is the effigy of a human figure in the last stage of emaciation; supposed to be that of a Bishop of St. David’s, when bishops were known to fast as well as to pray. Perhaps of him who, in the great dearth—mentioned in a former page of this work—is said to have died of famine—a very improbable conjecture; for these exhibitions of frail mortality were only intended as monitors to the living, and to remind the thoughtless and idle spectators that to “this they must expect to come at last.” On a flat tombstone in the floor is an inscription which suggests revolting ideas of the barbarous practices that once disgraced the “inhospitable” shores of our own land. The words are, “Walter Vaughan, iv. Jan. 1637;” the name, as it is conjectured, of the once notorious “wrecker of Dunraven:” a miscreant who, by hanging out false lights in tempestuous weather, allured unhappy merchantmen, and other vessels, to the rocks; and when the sea had broken over them, and the crews were struggling in the arms of despair, descended with his fellow-ruffians to the double exercise of murder and plunder. Having amassed capital in this manner, he is supposed to have selected this coast as an “elegant retirement,” where he could enjoy the{317} pleasures of society, without betraying the secret of his trade, and take his place at last among those worthies who have enriched the hallowed pile with their dust. We would gladly indulge the hope that this story, though repeated as a fact, is to be regarded only in the light of a fable; although every reader is aware that the wreckers of Cornwall were not imaginary beings.

The Carmelites, whose rule was founded upon that of St. Basil, had a house here, founded by John de Swynmore, of which the convent, or college, dedicated to St. Mary, stood near the parish church. But the ancient features of the town are fast passing away, and in a few years hence—if the march of improvement continue to advance at the same rate—many of the antiquities of Tenby will have become rather objects of faith than of sight.

Of the Castle, the only portions now standing that indicate its former strength are a bastion and a square tower. The rest of the structure exhibits rather the air of a splendid mansion than of a military fortress. On the north are the ruins of a large hall, about a hundred feet in length by twenty in breadth—not the usual proportions; and near the grand entrance gate is another apartment, eighty feet long by thirty feet wide. Attached to these two apartments are several others of smaller dimensions—used probably as offices, or barracks for the garrison. The situation of this fortress was admirably adapted for defence. It occupied the extreme point of the promontory; and on every side—except that facing the town, which was strengthened by art—it was secured by inaccessible rocks. The original founder of this stronghold is supposed to have been one or other of those Anglo-Norman lords who, in the manner already described, rendered themselves masters of the country. In their wars with the native princes, this Castle became a frequent object of attack; and in the year 1151, it was taken by Meredydd and Rhys, sons of Gruffyd-ap-Rhys, who put the garrison to the sword, in revenge for the shelter they had given to certain persons charged with having attacked and wounded their brother Cadell, while engaged in a hunting excursion in the neighbourhood. Again, in 1186, it was invested by Maelgwn, son of Rhys-ap-Gruffyd, who, by bringing an overwhelming force against it, took the fortress, and demolished the works. But the history of this stronghold, like that of most others built and garrisoned for the same purpose, is nothing more than a catalogue of disasters, of siege and storm, capture and surrender; where spectacles of blood were followed by scenes of barbaric splendour, and he who conquered to-day was often to-morrow’s captive.

Corporation.—Tenby was incorporated about the time of Edward the Third, by charters granted by the Earls of Pembroke, the provisions of which were afterwards confirmed and extended by Richard the Third and his successors. Previous to 1835, the government was vested in a mayor, common{318} council, and an indefinite number of burgesses—the mayor and common council being the governing body; and the style of the Corporation—“The Mayor, Bailiffs, and Burgesses of the Borough of Tenby.”

Besides the ecclesiastical buildings already noticed, there are the Town Hall, the Assembly Rooms, a Theatre, spacious baths, and various minor edifices. All these combine to give an air of taste, comfort, and prosperity to the borough; and present to the mind’s eye a pleasing contrast to the crumbling monuments of feudal vassalage, that for centuries held this flourishing little town in its iron grasp. The harbour consists of two piers, which shoot into a corner of the bay, and nearly encircle a small but safe spot for the anchorage of vessels. The woollen trade, first introduced by the Flemish settlers, has been long superseded. The imports are chiefly articles of domestic consumption; and the exports consist of butter, corn, coal, and culm. During the fishing season, Tenby is a station for the vessels belonging to Plymouth and Broxham; and the oyster-beds constitute a source of considerable profit to the fishermen. The prosperity of the place, however, depends more upon its attractions as a watering-place, than upon any advantage it possesses as a seaport; and in this respect, as already observed, it takes unquestioned precedence over the majority of those fashionable resorts which have so long flourished under the smile of popular favour.

Flemings.—The cause which immediately led to the Flemish settlement on this coast is as follows:—An inundation[391] of great magnitude happening in the Low Countries soon after the Conquest, a vast number of Flemings, driven from their homes, betook themselves to their ships, and landing in England implored an asylum. An increase of industrious peaceable subjects was an object not to be overlooked by the Conqueror. They were accordingly received with alacrity, and treated with cordial hospitality. After a time these strangers were distributed over the country, and wherever they settled contributed to the prosperity of the district. “Many Flemings,” says Malmesbury, “came over to England on account of relationship to the mother of Henry the First, by her father’s side; insomuch that—like the Germans of the present day—they were burthensome to the kingdom.” “Farther,” says the old historian,{319} “William Rufus had generally ill fortune against the Welsh, which one may well wonder at, seeing that all his attempts elsewhere were crowned with success. But I am of opinion that the unevenness of their country, and the severity of the weather, favoured their rebellion; so it hindered their progress. But King Henry found out an act to frustrate all their inventions, by planting Flemings in their country to curb and continually harass them. King Henry often endeavoured to reduce the Welsh, who were always prone to rebellion. At last, very advisedly, in order to abate their pride, he transplanted thither all the Flemings that lived in England. Wherefore, because their numbers created uneasiness, and were burthensome to the kingdom, he thrust them all into Ros, a province of Wales, as unto a common shore, as well to rid the kingdom of them, as to curb the obstinacy of his enemies.”

To the multitude of Flemings thus disposed of, Henry the Second added, by banishing out of England all the Flemish soldiers who had taken service under King Stephen, and granting them permission to join their compatriots in Pembrokeshire. But although historians in general confine the influx of Flemish settlers to the lower part of Pembrokeshire, it is certain that they extended over a much wider district, namely, the whole sea-coast bounding the counties of Pembroke, Carmarthen, Cardigan, and Glamorgan. Of the Flemish colony who settled in Cardiganshire, there are unequivocal proofs in our own times; for their posterity, who continue to inhabit the tract assigned to their ancestors, differ materially from the aboriginal Welsh, not only in the peculiarities of speech, but in those physical distinctions which mark the different races of mankind. “There is a farm called Nant-y-Flyman,” says Mr. Thomas,[392] “in the parish of Verwick, two miles north of Cardigan, which is said to derive its name from the landing of this colony at Traeth-y-Mwnt, a small creek hard by. The reception they met with on disembarking, was from the swords of armed natives; and in the carnage that ensued, fell many of the best and bravest on both sides. In commemoration of this disastrous rencounter, several heaps of sand adjoining Mount Church point out to this day the cromlechs of the slain, and are traditionally called “the graves of the Flemings—Beddau’r Fflemings—where bones of gigantic size often make their appearance.”

In the Welsh Chronicle, we read that the Normans and Flemings inhabited the county of Carmarthen, about Llanstephan—the castle of which we shall presently notice; and under the conduct of Girald and William de Hay invested the said castle. That they extended likewise coastwise to Glamor{320}ganshire, is evident from the Gower Whittle—a provincial article of dress peculiar to the Flemings, and from them adopted by the Welsh in general. The south-west portion of Gower, according to Mr. Collins, is inhabited by the descendants of a colony of Flemings, who do not talk the Welsh language, and are distinguished by their own peculiar dress. They seldom intermarry with their neighbours on the north-west side of the Gower. Mr. Pye supposes that the Flemings in Wales still speak the language of Flanders; and relates that a servant, inquiring the road, “could not understand the language of some cottagers, nor make them to understand him, though a Welshman; and he was certain they did not speak Welsh. After much altercation, and inquiry at an alehouse, all ineffectually, a clergyman solves their doubts by relating that some Flemish families had settled in that part of South Wales, and have retained their language to this day.” Here, however, Mr. Pye must have been misinformed; for they all speak—that is, the lower class—a horrid provincial dialect of the English language, though not much worse than certain counties of England, retaining many Saxon words now obsolete, and unintelligible to any but an antiquary. Camden says, “They speak a language so agreeable with the English (which indeed has much affinity with the Dutch), that this small country of theirs is called by the Britons—‘Little England below Wales.’ “But here Mr. Pye is to be regarded as a novelist,” says Thomas;[393] “for his account is not historically true.”

The policy of King Henry in settling these Flemings in Wales, for the purposes of conquest, security, and strength, was very judicious. Being a very warlike people—Belgæ—inevitably attached to their benefactors the English kings, they were always ready to join their standard, or to make a diversion in their favour against the Welsh. But such frontier military posts as surrounded the Welsh—such a cordon of warlike foreigners settled on their coasts—became a source of much evil to the natives; and altogether inadequate for the purpose which their introduction was intended to serve; namely, “to secure the fidelity of the Welsh nation”—whom, on the contrary, their harsh usage and oppression only contributed to alienate from the English crown, until their antipathy and resentment found vent in the open insurrection of Owen Glendower.

The colony is thus described by Giraldus:—“Gens hæc fortis et robusta; continuoque belli conflictu gens Cambrensibus inimicissima, gens lanificiis, gens mercimoniis usitatissima, quocumque labore sive periculo, terra marique lucrum quærere. Gens prævalida vicissim loco et tempore, nunc ad arma, nunc ad aratra gens promptissima.”

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Manorbeer Castle.

Near the Church.




Manober turribus et propugnaculis erat eximium, ab occidente portum extensum a Circio et Barea, sub ipsis muralibus vivarium habens egregium tam sua venustate, quam aquarum profunditate conspicuum.”—Gyrald.

MANORBEER, another of those feudal strongholds with which the Principality abounds, possesses an additional interest as the birth-place of Giraldus Cambrensis, a sketch of whose life will be found in these pages.

The Castle, says Leland, “stands between two little hillettes”—the rocky bases of which repel the fury of a boisterous sea—and is very imposing as we come upon it, through an antiquated village of Flemish-looking houses, with singular chimneys—old as the Castle itself. It is called Manorbeer, or Maenor Byrr, from its being the manor of the Lords, or the mansion or manor of Byrr. It occupies the crest of a hill, which commands an extensive prospect of land and sea—the latter expanding its waves, until they are enclosed by the distant promontory of St. Gowan’s Head, and presenting at times a scene of great animation by the numerous vessels that glide along the coast. With its sheltered green park on one hand, a bare hill, with the slender tower of the old Norman church, on the other, and the whole mass as if suspended over the sea-beach that takes its angle and curve from the protruding rocks, the scene presents a combination of features that never fail to impress the stranger with mingled sentiments of picturesque beauty, solitude, and desolation.

The Castle of Manorbeer is a capacious Norman edifice of the first class, with massive towers, ponderous and lofty gates, high embattled walls with loopholes, but no windows in the exterior. It presents the characteristic features of a stronghold, whose chief, at once hated and feared, retained possession of his conquered manor by no better security than that of armed retainers{322}—vassals and mercenaries, whose rights and sense of justice were measured by their swords.

The Gateway forms a grand and imposing feature; and through this, the principal entrance, we reach the interior Court, upon which the windows of the quadrangle open, and discover the apartments once occupied by the Baron and his family—who were thus barred in from the fair face of nature, and condemned to consider security and seclusion ample compensation for the sacrifice of other advantages. Here the justice was retributive; for he who plotted against the rights and liberties of his fellow-creatures, was little better than a prisoner in his own Castle; and, even among his sworn retainers, had often cause to suspect an assassin, and to be the reluctant slave of those fears which no doubling of his “tried sentinels” could exclude.

The Outworks of the Castle are extensive, and worthy appendages to what is considered “a perfect model of a Norman Baron’s residence,” the general characteristics of which were the following:—The simple rude tower of the Anglo-Saxon was enlarged and improved into what, taking its name from the builder, was called a Gundulph Keep, the entrance to which was at a great height. It was approached by a grand staircase, which went partly round two of the outside fronts of the Castle, and ended in a grand portal, before which was a drawbridge. The entrance was indispensably gradual. The first step in advance was the drawbridge, with a gate about the middle of the staircase, to arrive at the portal. Secondly, upon arriving at this point, you found it merely the entrance to a small annexed tower, the whole of which might be demolished without injury to the body of the Castle. This tower was for the use of the guard or sentinel. Within this tower was a sort of vestibule, and from thence was a second entrance—the real entrance to the Keep—through a second portal, placed in the thickness of the walls. Both the first and second portals were defended by a portcullis and double gates; so that there were three strong gates to be forced, and two portcullises to be destroyed, before even this entrance could be gained. In the thickness of the wall were two niches, in addition to the second portal, for wardours or sentinels. Besides this, there was the sally-port, another small entrance—ascended only by a movable ladder—which had no communication with the floor above, except by a “small winding staircase, that, from its narrowness and form, could easily be defended by one man, and to which additional security was provided by strong doors. On the

Ground floor—as already observed in this Castle—there were no windows, very few loopholes, and those so constructed that no missile thrown in could reach farther than the bottom of the arch. In the first floor there were no windows, but only loopholes within the tower itself. In the second floor the windows were so high that no weapon discharged into them could take effect,{323} as it struck the arch of the window, and dropped harmless on the floor. On the side near the principal entrance there were no windows nor lights whatever—not even loopholes on the same side as the entrance and top of the staircase, because, if so placed, they would have been exposed to an enemy who, having once gained the steps, was attempting to force the portal. In

The Vestibule were large windows, because—as the author of the “Monumenta” supposes—that place was of no importance in a siege: but this opinion is considered by others to be untenable. A full command of view was here indispensable; and that this was the object may be inferred from the loopholes and windows being in an inverted order to what they are in the great one, and from the vestibule being immediately over the dungeon, so that, on any attempt at attack, escape or rescue would be detected. On the

Third story, which contained the state apartments, there was a gallery within the walls for the conveyance of orders. Mr. King, in his description of fortified buildings, has noticed a stone arch and false portals, a round angular tower, and an affected appearance of weakness in the small square tower and vestibule, as deceptions to mislead the enemy. But this, as observed by Fosbroke, is questionable; for such expedients do not occur in all castles of this era—and, had they been usual, must have been too well known to mislead the enemy. The lower apartments of these strongholds were reserved as storerooms for the use of the household and retainers.

The Dungeon, for the security of prisoners, was beneath the ground floor of the Keep, with which it communicated by a steep, dark, and narrow staircase. It had, of course, no windows nor loopholes; and the only aperture for the admission of air was a trap-door in the vestibule. A gutter carried off water from the floor, which, for this purpose, was made sloping towards it.

In the centre of the main walls were square wells, opening at bottom into arches, for the removal and distribution of stores to the upper apartments; and through the solid walls, also, flues were perforated for the conveyance of information by the voice. And these contrivances, with considerable improvements, continue in our own times to facilitate domestic intercourse in large establishments. In the centre of the partition wall—as seen at Rochester[394]—was a well for water—like the shaft of a coal pit—going from the bottom of the tower up to the very leads; and over every successive floor were small arches in the wall, forming a communication between the pipe of the well and the several apartments, so that, by means of a pulley, water could be distributed to every part of the Castle. The fireplaces in general were semicircular arches—as already shown and described in this work. The chimneys were in the form of a sloping{324} cone, and terminated in loopholes. In some instances, as at Chepstow, they were covered internally with a hard glazing of cement, so as to prevent the accumulation and lodgment, and facilitate the removal, of fuliginous matter on the surface. The great chimney of Raglan Castle is a fine specimen of its kind, and so capacious as to appear like the perpendicular shaft of a deep well. The sinks are similar cones, but ending sideways, obliquely, to prevent the introduction of weapons. The great state apartments of the Castle consisted of three rooms: of these, the two principal ones were separated only by large arches, open at the top, so that there might be a free circulation of air; but under the arch was a partition wall, in later times of oak-panelling, for hanging the arras.

Such are a few of the characteristic features of a Norman fortress of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries—the model upon which the great castles of Wales were constructed by Edward the First—of which various particulars have been already given, and others will be found interspersed in subsequent portions of this work.

While wandering over the ruins of these dilapidated strongholds, of whose founders it may here be truly said—stat nominis umbra, we are humbled into a sense of the vain and fragile tenor by which all earthly possessions are held. “There the thistle shakes its lonely head; the moss whistles to the winds; the fox looks out from the windows, the rank grass of the wall waves round his head. Desolate is the dwelling of Moina; silence is in the house of her fathers.”

“Thrice happier he who tends his sheep
Where yonder lowly cot appears;
Than Baron in his iron Keep,
Encircled by his glittering spears.”

The Church of Manorbeer stands upon a high slope, fronting the south side of the Castle, and forms an interesting feature in the landscape. It is of Norman architecture, consisting of a tall square tower, chancel, and nave, divided by a row of massive and rudely-fashioned pillars. In the north side of the chancel is the monument of a Crusader—one of those enthusiastic knights, perhaps, who, having heard the preaching of Archbishop Baldwin, obeyed the summons and followed his lion-hearted Sovereign to the Holy Land. The effigy, reposing under a plain canopy, represents a warrior in ring and plate armour, the legs croisés, and the shield charged with the Barri arms. An effigy is also pointed out on the same side as that of Giraldus Cambrensis, or Barri, whose life and literary merits we have so often had occasion to notice. On the south side of the church are the remains of a “Chantry or Collegiate building,” erected probably by one of the Barri family, who, in 1092, joined Fitz-Hamon in his marauding{325} enterprise against a native prince of the country, and afterwards, as we have seen, divided the conquered land, in Seigneuries, among his twelve knights and retainers.

The Founder of Manorbeer, so far as we have ascertained, does not make any distinct figure in history. He was one of the mass of Norman warriors, who, by their collective strength, personal courage, and vaulting ambition, made themselves alternately the dread and the support of Royalty; and who—each in his feudal demesne, within the gates of his own castle—were absolute sovereigns. And yet few will deny, that out of the accumulated evils, that like clouds collected and darkened for a time the apparent destiny of Wales, permanent good was elicited. In the words of a great poet:—

“Still the ramparted ground
With a vision my fancy inspires,
And I hear the trump sound,
As it marshalled our Chivalry’s sires.
On each turf of that mead,
Stood the captors of England’s domains,
That ennobled her breed,
And high mettled the blood in her veins!
O’er hauberk and helm—
As the sun’s setting splendour was thrown—
Thence they look’d o’er a realm,
And the morrow beheld it their own!”

Wherever they were victorious in battle, there they built a stronghold. What was gained by violence, was to be held by the same means: while superior knowledge—superior tactics—the confidence of men accustomed to victory—of plausible designs and refined policy—were more than a match for mere “abettors in a good cause,” who could oppose nothing to the practised arms of the invader but the brute force of undisciplined hordes, whose indomitable love of home and freedom furnished them with courage to vindicate their country; and where that failed, with resolution to perish in the attempt. But we need not here enlarge upon the merits of a struggle which was protracted for centuries; and if at last the Norman made good his footing within the Welsh border, it was only after numerous checks and discomfitures, at a cost which no other nation could have incurred, and by a system of warfare in which success was often the result of accident, and where the laws of humanity were too often trampled under foot.

Giraldus Cambrensis was born at Manorbeer about the year 1146. He was sent on three different occasions to France, for the sake of improvement; and prosecuted his studies with so much diligence and success, as to give him an honourable position among the learned men of that early period. He obtained great reputation in rhetoric, which soon brought him into notice; and he was{326} successively promoted, to a canonry in the cathedral of Hereford, and to the archdeaconry of Brecon. In the thirtieth year of his age he was elected, by the Chapter of St. David’s, bishop of that see; but the King’s approbation being withheld, he resolved to make another journey into France, and resume his studies in the University of Paris. On his return home, a few years afterwards, he found the whole country in a state of violent excitement, the canons and archdeacon of Menevia having joined with the inhabitants in driving out the bishop of that see, the administration of which was committed to Barri by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Under this authority he governed the see of St. David’s for three or four years, and made many reformations in it.

The next event in his life was the King’s command, in 1185, to attend the young Prince John into Ireland. Two years afterwards he returned to Wales, and employed most of his time in writing and revising his Topographia, to which, after putting the last hand, he proceeded to Oxford, and read it in a public audience of the University.[395] But the incident in his life which more particularly entitles him to a notice in this place, is the fact of his having accompanied Archbishop Baldwin in his progress through Wales, and with him, also, visited and described the principal features of the country.

The object of this progress—as above noticed—was to preach a crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land, for which the lion-hearted Richard, accompanied by the flower of his nobility, had already set out. Giraldus, smit with the same enthusiasm which he endeavoured to kindle in others, took up the Cross. On his departure for the Holy Land, the King left the chief government of the realm in the hands of William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, and appointed Giraldus to act with him in the commission; but this could not be valid until he obtained a dispensation from the Pope’s legate for discontinuing the voyage.

In 1190, the Bishop of Ely and the Pope’s legate offered him the see of Bangor; and again, the following year, Prince John offered him the bishopric of Llandaff; both of which he declined, in hopes that the see of St. David’s, on which he had set his heart, might one day fall to his lot. The following year Girald retired from court; and, removing to Lincoln, wrote several works which bear his name. Here he continued until the death of Peter, Bishop of St. David’s, in 1198, when he was nominated to the vacant see, but rejected by Herbert, Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent a mandate to the Canons to elect and admit Geoffrey, Prior of Llanthony, for their bishop. Girald{327} appealed to the Pope and the Canons by letter, entreating his Holiness to consecrate him. He took a journey to Rome, and there presented the letter in person. The Prior of Llanthony, furnished with letters from the Archbishop, did the same; and the Pope, seeing no likelihood of the cause being speedily determined, appointed Giraldus administrator, both in spiritualities and temporalities of the bishopric of St. David’s, and sent him home.

But in November, 1202, Giraldus was induced to make a third visit to Rome, where he continued until the 15th of April following; on which day the Pope gave a definitive sentence in the cause, and vacated the claims of both candidates. In the month of August, Giraldus returned home to solicit a new election; but in spite of the opposition, Geoffrey of Llanthony was elected by the Canons. Giraldus finding it useless to oppose the Archbishop, resigned all further pretensions to the see of St. David’s; and shortly after resigned the archdeaconry of Brecon to his nephew. The remainder of his life seems to have been spent in retirement, where he composed many works. But there is no evidence of his having taken an active part in any public affairs, political or ecclesiastical; and as he was subsequently offered the bishopric of St. David’s [in 1215], it was on conditions which compelled him to reject the very see to which he had so ardently aspired. The year of his death is not mentioned: but in 1220, as we ascertain from contemporary documents, he was still living.

With a very excusable partiality for his native place, he has transmitted to posterity the following description of its beauties, natural and artificial:—

Maenorpyrr is distant about three miles from Penbroch. The Castle is excellently well defended by turrets and bulwarks. On the right hand a rivulet[396] of never-failing water flows through a valley, rendered sandy by the violence of the winds.”... “The country is well supplied with corn, seafish, and imported wines, and is tempered by a salubrious air. Demetia—or territory of St. David’s, with its seven cantreds—is the most beautiful as well as the most powerful district of Wales: Penbroch is the finest province of Demetia, and the place I have now described is the most delightful part of Penbroch. It is evident, therefore, that Maenorpyrr is the Paradise of all Wales.{328}



“So fares it with the things of earth
Which seem most constant: there will come the cloud
That shall enfold them up, and leave their place
A seat for emptiness. Our narrow ken
Reaches too far, when all that we behold
Is but the havoc of wide-wasting Time—
Or what he soon shall spoil.”

WE learn from Bishop Tanner, that Richard de Grainville, and Constance, his wife, gave their chapel,[397] in the Castle at Nethe, the tithes belonging to it, a large tract of waste land, and other possessions, in the time of Henry I., to the abbot and convent of Savigny, near Lyons, that they might build an abbey here in Wales. And a very fair abbey, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was built accordingly on the west side of the river, a little below the town of Neath, for monks of the order of Savigny, or Fratres Grisei, who soon afterwards became Cistercians.

Notwithstanding the original gift to Savigny, as we learn from the same authority, he did not find any proof that this house was ever subject to that foreign abbey, or accounted as an alien priory. Being an abbey, it could not be a cell; and appears rather to have been a daughter-house to Savigny, in the same way as already described in our account of the two Llanthonys—mother and daughter. In the Appendix to the Monasticon may be seen the founder’s charter, with two subsequent charters of confirmation from King John.[398] From a manuscript notice in Benet’s College, Cambridge, we learn that, at the time of the dissolution, there were only eight monks in Neath Abbey. In the twenty-sixth of Henry VIII., the gross revenue of the house amounted to £150. 4s. 9d., the clear income to £132. 7s. 7-1/4d. The site was granted to Sir Richard Williams, alias Cromwell,[399] in exchange.{329}

The Seal of the abbey represented the Blessed Virgin, crowned and standing, holding in her right hand a lily, in her left the infant Jesus; in a base, a shield with the arms of Grainville the founder—namely, three clarions: the legend—“Sigillvm. Comvne. Monaster. Beate. Marie. de Neth.” A very imperfect impression of this seal is to be seen in the Augmentation Office.

In Moore’s Monastic Remains, it has been observed, in a passage quoted from Leland, that Neath Abbey was ‘once the fairest in all Wales;’ and, from the ruins still remaining, much credit may be given to this description. The west end, excepting the great arch, was tolerably perfect in 1788; but previously to that time the east end and principal part of the nave had been demolished, while the lateral aisles remained covered with ivy. In addition to these, several apartments of the abbey were still standing on the south side of the church.

This monastery is said to have been so extensive, that seven preachers might hold forth at the same time in different parts of the building, without being mutually heard; but in the present day the crypt is the only characteristic feature that is left. The ruins, however—spread over an extensive area—still afford accommodation for numerous workmen employed in the famous iron-works of the place. It was in the Abbey-house of Neath, where he had taken refuge, that the unfortunate King Edward the Second was arrested:—

“Whither,” says the Chronicle, in a passage at once pathetic and picturesque,—“whither, in the meane space, doth woeful Edward flye? What force, what course, what way takes he, poore Prince? Oh! fearful condition of so great a monarche’s state, when a wife, a son, a kingdome are not trusted; and those only are trusted, who had nothing strong but a will to live and die with him!”... “The Queen, passing from Oxford to Gloucester, onward to the siege of Bristol Castle, grew all the whyle in her strength like a rouled snowball, or as a river, which spreads still broader from the fountaine to the ocean—‘vires acquirit eundo.’ For thither repayred to her, for the love of the young Prince, the Lord Percy, the Lord Wake, and others, as well out of the North, as the Marches of Wales. But Edward, having left the Earle of Winchester, and the elder Lord Spenser, in the Castle of Bristol, for the keeping thereof, meditates flight with a few into the isle of Lundie, in the Severne sea, or into Ireland; and while he wandereth about, not finding where to rest safe, his royall credite, name, and power—like a cliffe which, falling from the top of some huge rocke, breakes into the more pieces the further it rolles—are daily more and more diminisht as they scatter, till now at last they are come to a very nothing.

“After a week, therefore, spent upon the sea, Sir Thomas Blount forsaking him, and comming to the Queene he came on shore in Glamorganshire, where, with his few friends, he entrusted himself to God, and the faith of the{330} Welsh, who indeed still loved him, lying hidden among them in the Abbey of Neath.

The King not appearing, proclamations were every day made in the Queene’s army, declaring that it was the common consent of the realme that he should returne and receive the government thereof, so as he would conform himself to his people. This—whether stratagem or truth—not prevailing, Henry, Earle of Lancaster, the late Earle’s brother, Sir William de la Zouch, and Rhese-ap-Howell, a Welshman—who all of them had lands in that quarter where the Kinge concealed himselfe—were sent with coyne and forces to discover and take him.

“What will not money, diligence, and faire words doe, with corrupt dispositions—everting of all bonds of either religious or civil duties? By such means, therefore, the desolate, sad, and unfortunate Kinge fell into his cousen of Lancaster’s hands, in the Abbey-house of Neath;” [or, according to others, in the Castle of Llantrissant, a place of great strength; but as the gates were thrown open by treachery, neither the strength of the Castle nor the courage of those around him could avail the royal victim,[400] doomed to expiate, it was supposed, the ruthless cruelty of his father in massacring the bards.

“Weave the warp, and weave the woof,
The winding-sheet of Edward’s race;
Give ample room and verge enough,
The characters of Hell to trace.
Mark the year, and mark the night,
When Severn shall re-echo with affright,
The shrieks of death, through Berkeley’s roof that ring—
Shrieks of an agonizing King!”]

Richard de Greenvile,[401] the reputed founder of Neath Abbey, and lord of the adjoining Castle, is thus noticed in the ‘Baronage of England:’—“In the fourth of William Rufus, Jestin, the son of Gurgunt, being lord of Glamorgan, Rees-ap-Theodore, prince of South Wales, made war upon him; and that Jestin, discerning himself to be unable to make defence, sent one Enyon, his servant, to Robert Fitz-Hamon,[402] then a knight of the privy chamber to the King, for his aid, with large promises of reward for his help. And that hereupon Robert, having retained twelve knights, marched with what power they could all make into Wales; and so joining with Jestin, slew Rees, and Conan, his son.{331} Furthermore, that after this victory, demanding his reward according to the agreement so made with Enyon, and Jestin refusing to perform his promise, the difference came to be tried by battle; and that Jestin being therein slain, this Robert Fitz-Hamon had full possession of all that territory.

Whereupon, for reward to those twelve knights, with other his assistants, he gave unto them divers castles and manors; and, as second on the list, he gave to Richard de Greenvile the lordship of Nethe.”

Subjoined is a view of the Crypt of this once magnificent Abbey, which, though long exposed to the wasting hand of Time, and the depredations of enemies, is still a monument of early piety, upon which few pilgrims will look unmoved, and no archæologist can survey without admiration.

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“For some brief passion
Are centuries of high splendour laid in dust,
And that eternal honour, which should live
Sun-like above the rock of mortal fame,
Changed to a mockery and a by-word.”

KIDWELLY is supposed to have been erected by Rhys, Prince of South Wales, at the close of the twelfth century; and even now, after the lapse of five hundred years, it presents, in strength and appearance, one of the most striking examples of feudal architecture in Wales, where the science of castle-building attained the highest perfection. The old town of Kidwelly, over which the Castle once threw its protecting arms, is now ruinous; but a new Kidwelly, reared in happier times, and thriving under the arts of peace, seems to cast a glance of mingled pity and reproach upon the enormous fortress, whose very existence in such a situation is a melancholy proof of barbarism and bondage—

“When ‘might was right,’ and spear and brand
Subdued and meted out the land—
Demesnes, which he who built the strongest,
And only he, retained the longest.”

History.—Describing the situation of Kidwelly, the Chronicle says, “So great is the bay or creek that here getteth within the land, that this country seemeth, as it were, for very fear to have shrunke back, and withdrawn itself more inwardly. The territory around this bay was held for a time by Keiani the Scot’s sonnes, until they were driven out by Cuneda, the Cambro-Briton, and is now counted part of the inheritance of the Dutchy of Lancaster, by the heires of Maurice of London, or De Londres, who, making an outroad hither out of Glamorganshire, after a dangerous war, made himself master hereof, and

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Kidwelly Castle.


fortified old Kidwelly with a wall and castle to it, which now for very age is growen to decay, and standeth, as it were, forlet and forlorne: for the inhabitants, having passed over the little river Vendraeth-Vehan, built a new Kidwelly, enticed thither by the commodity of the harbour, which, notwithstanding being at this day choked with shelves and barres, is at this present of no great use. While Maurice de Londres,” continues the Chronicle, “invaded these parts, [Gwenliana,[403]] the wife of Prince Gruffin—a stout and resolute woman in the highest degree—ultimæ audaciæ mulier—in order to recover the losses and declining fortunes of her husband, came, with displaied banner, into the field, and assailed him, but the successe of her enterprise not answering to her courage, she, with her sonne Morgan, and other men of especial note, was slaine in battle.

“By Hawes, or Avis, the daughter and heire of Sir Thomas de Londres, this passing faire and large patrimony, together with the title of Lord Ogmoor and Kidwelly, came unto Patrick Chaworth, and by his son Patrick’s daughter, unto Henrie, Earle of Lancaster. Now the heires of the said Maurice of London, as we learn from an old inquisition, for this inheritance were bound to this service—namely, that if their sovereign lord the King, or his Chiefe Justice, came into the parts about Kidwelly with an armie, they should conduct the foresaid army, with their banners and their people, through the mids of Nethland, as far as to Loghar.”

The Castle is in a more perfect state than any other ruin in the Principality: “meately well kept up,” says old Leland, “and veri faire and double waullid;” having been repaired by Alice de Londres, wife of one of the Dukes of Lancaster, and lastly in the reign of Henry the Seventh. Its appearance is literally grand and imposing. The ruins comprise a quadrangular area, enclosed by strong walls, defended by massive circular towers at the angles, and also by bastions in the intervals—as shown in the accompanying illustrations. The principal entrance, which is at the west side, is under a magnificent gateway, flanked by two round towers, and is still in good preservation. Many of the state apartments are almost entire. Of these the groined ceilings, in some instances, with other portions of the edifice, display many interesting features of the early style of English architecture. The chapel is sufficiently indicated in the engraving by its lancet-pointed windows, and forms a noble and characteristic feature of this truly majestic edifice.

Kidwelly is strongly situated, having on two sides a precipitous descent to the river Gwendraeth, and few things are finer than the first view of its massive and turreted bulwarks ranging along the summit of the cliff. The principal{334} entrance was on the west, by means of a gateway, flanked by round towers, one of the most perfect and beautiful in the kingdom. This, however, is now closed, and the visitor, after clambering up the steep old street on the other side of the bridge, is conducted to an entrance in the rear of the building, communicating with a “pleasaunce,” or terrace promenade, now overgrown with noble trees. On entering the interior, the extent and massiveness of the remains create a feeling of astonishment. There were three courts divided by walls and towers; and in the centre is a building defended by four other towers, the grouping of which surpasses that of any other interior in Wales, unless, perhaps, that of Pembroke.

“We then clambered on the ramparts, entered the chapel, adorned with delicate lancet-pointed windows, and looked down from a dizzy height upon the river Gwendraeth, which rolls its melancholy stream through the marshy valley below. Altogether we were quite unprepared for the extent and preservation of this magnificent fortress, and regretted much that previous arrangements had left us so little time for its exploration.”[404]

The view from the ramparts is extensive: the valley of the Gwendraeth—the old town and its spire—the distant marshes and the sea—all blend together, and form a grand but melancholy picture, which harmonises with the feeling inspired by the aspect of the whole place and neighbourhood—

“How grand, and beautiful, and vast,
Fortress and hall of ages past!
With battlement and turret crown’d,
And iron ramparts girdled round;
Whose shadow, stretching o’er the land,
Whose bulwarks, desolately grand,
Whose chambers, voiceless and forsaken,
A tide of mingled thoughts awaken,
And dreams of fancy that restore
The Barons and the Bards of yore,
When trumpet-peal, from turret wall,
Proclaimed the knightly festival.”—MS.

The air of the place is considered salubrious and the town healthy; but the importance which it formerly derived from its situation on the banks of a fine navigable river, within half a mile of its influx into the great bay of Carmarthen, has ceased—a reverse occasioned by an accumulation of sand, which has formed a dangerous bar across the mouth of the river. Its commerce, once flourishing, has consequently declined; while the opening of collieries, and the establishment of copper-works at Llanelly—to which port that of Kidwelly is a creek—have transferred the trade to that place.{335}

“The scale has shifted—freighted barks no more
Visit, with welcome sail, the lonely shore:
Unprofitable weeds usurp the strand—
The once wide port presents a mound of sand.
But these stout towers, defying time and tide,
Still o’er the scene in massive strength preside
Kidwelly’s walls, firm as the native rock,
Have braved, for centuries, the tempest-shock.”

Many fruitless attempts have been made to improve the navigation of the river, by removing the obstructions alluded to. In 1766, some docks and a short canal were constructed here. The navigation was afterwards transferred to the “Kidwelly Canal Company,” by whom it was extended about two miles up the valley of the Gwendraeth; and a branch, three miles and a half in length, was constructed to communicate with Pembrey harbour. Here were formerly both iron and tin works, the former of which have been entirely abandoned, and the latter are continued only in a diminished scale.

Kidwelly received its first charter of incorporation from King Henry VI. James II., in the sixteenth year of his reign, granted to its inhabitants their present charter, by which the government is vested in a mayor, a recorder, two bailiffs, and a common council of twelve aldermen, and twelve principal burgesses, assisted by a town-clerk, chamberlain, two sergeants-at-mace, and other officers.

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Ancient dwellings near Manorbeer Castle.—See Note, p. 327.




“Let them pass—
I cried: the world and its mysterious doom
Is not so much more glorious than it was,
That I desire to worship those who drew
New figures on its false and fragile glass,
As the old faced—phantoms ever new
Rise on the bubble, paint them as you may;
We have but thrown—as some before us threw—
Our shadows on it as it passed away.
But mark how chained to the triumphal Cross
Were the great figures of an elder day!”

This Castle—one of the oldest in Wales—crowns a bold eminence projecting into the bay of Carmarthen, and defends the entrance of the river Towy, which falls into the sea at this point. It is a military fortress of great strength and antiquity, but by whom founded—whether by Roman or Briton—or to what precise era it belongs, are questions which have never been satisfactorily answered. Yet the very obscurity which hangs upon it imparts to its dilapidated walls, mouldering turrets, and grass-covered courts, an interest which is seldom or never felt in the survey of those castellated ruins which make a prominent figure in the pages of history. All that has yet been advanced by archæologists regarding the founder of Llanstephan, is only based on plausible conjecture. It is not improbable, however, that the present castle occupies the position of a Roman fort; for it is not to be supposed that, during their occupation of the Silurian territory, a situation presenting so many natural advantages, and commanding the embouchure of the Towy, would be neglected by a people so prone to conquest, and so circumspect in all the means that could secure and fortify them in their new possessions. Nor were the Normans—who were equally observant and expert in the distribution of their military posts—likely to lose sight of the advantages which a castle on this promontory would afford in facilitating their operations, and widening their encroachments beyond the Welsh frontier; and in the citadel which now covers the steep, we have ample

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Kidwelly Castle.

Inner Courts and Chapel from the Battlements.


testimony, that whatever hands may have raised the first structure, that which now occupies our attention is of Norman architecture.

The historical details of Llanstephan are meagre and unsatisfactory; we would desire to learn the circumstances of siege and storm and surrender, the acts of fortitude and valour which mutually distinguished the besieged and their assailants, their patient endurance of privations, their resolute and determined resistance, the nightly assault, the treachery of professing allies, the regular investment by open enemies, the daily skirmishes, the nightly advance, the scaling of the walls, the final struggle, the throwing open of gates, the dismantling of towers, with mingled traits of personal prowess, magnanimity, and fortitude. But of these, history observes a mysterious silence. We learn, however, that

Caddell, Meredydd, and Rhys, sons of Gryffyd-ap-Rhys[405]—the prince so often named in these pages—having in 1143 succeeded in their enterprise against Carmarthen Castle, were induced to make a similar attempt upon Llanstephan, and, directing their march to that point, invested the walls, and summoning the Norman garrison to surrender, were answered by a message of contempt and defiance. This, however, served merely to stimulate the Cambrian leaders into immediate action; for, after a spirited resistance, they carried the fortress by storm or stratagem, and planted their own countrymen within its walls. This daring exploit was instantly reported to the Norman legions beyond the frontier, who made all possible haste to vindicate the tarnished honour of the garrison; and mustering all their available strength, soon made their appearance under the walls of Llanstephan.

The consequence of this movement was a protracted siege, in the progress of which everything promised a successful issue to the Normans. At last, while the Cambrian garrison within did little more than regard their operations with passive indifference, the signal was given to scale the ramparts, and at the word every Norman flew to the assault. Meredydd, however, was well prepared to give his unbidden guests a Welsh welcome; and while the Normans, like swarming bees, were covering fosse and rock with their numbers, he ordered a wedge to be struck home, and no sooner was the hammer at work than an avalanche of rocks, suddenly let loose from the highest point of the ramparts, overwhelmed the invaders, and hurled the scaling party and their ladders into the ravine below. A shout of derision followed them from the garrison above; operations on both sides were suspended; and with their ranks thus suddenly thinned by a catastrophe as unseen as it was disastrous, the Normans sullenly withdrew. But it was only to return with increased strength and whetted{338} vengeance. They had sworn to extirpate the garrison at their next visit, and the Norman leader was not a man to break his word whenever stimulated by a thirst of revenge or plunder.

We need not dwell upon the skill and vigour of the besiegers, nor the spirited resistance of the garrison. But, in the present instance, the siege was conducted in a more regular and systematic method than heretofore; they had recourse to all the appliances of military art. The warlike engines employed against stubborn fortresses were now called into perpetual action, and night and day the butting of the battering-rams continued to shake the ramparts, until here and there a stone dropping from the mason-work, the whole ramparts began to shake under the feet of the besieged. At length, a breach being effected, the Normans poured in their best troops, and for a time the conflict was maintained with desperate fury. Foot to foot the assailants met, fought, and fell where they stood. Too proud to ask quarter, the fiery Cambrian rushed upon his adversary with a blind impetuosity that often placed him at his mercy; while the Norman, adroit in the management of his weapon, and bent on revenging his countrymen, was only stimulated to indiscriminate slaughter; and long before sunrise the Norman banner waved on the Castle of Llanstephan.

In M.CC.XVI the fortune of war was again invoked. The Norman sway, so intolerable to native independence, had extended its influence and territory; and with these had inspired into the heart of every reflecting Cambrian, a deep sense of the wrongs inflicted upon his country. With an irrepressible and Wallace-like determination to crush or expel the invader, he rushed to the conflict. This, so far as regards Llanstephan, was partly effected by Llewelyn-ap-Iorwerth, who, after a successful attack, entered the fortress, slew or captured the garrison, and then, to prevent its being again turned against the peace of the country, dismantled the walls, threw down the gates, filled up the ditches, and left its towers for a habitation to the owls.

The position of the Castle, however, was too advantageous to be neglected for more than a season: for, as war continued rampant along the marches, the demand for garrisons increased; and Llanstephan was again converted into a fortress, and crowded with troops. In this state it appears to have continued until the year 1254. But in those days of mutual hatred and jealousy—when neighbour plotted against neighbour, and friendships cemented at morning were often changed, by some sudden exasperation, into mortal enmities before night—the garrison of Llanstephan could never remain unconcerned spectators of passing events. Llewelyn-ap-Grufydd, whose name is so familiar in the Cambrian annals, finding himself in a position to resent, to the very death, some personal insult from the haughty castellan of Llanstephan, summoned his countrymen to arms. “This offensive castle,” said he, “must be demolished! Ye have{339} true British hearts; and if your hands will only obey those hearts, my countrymen, before two days elapse ye shall drive your goats to pasture in the courtyard, of Llanstephan!”

This old Griffin kept his word—the raid was successful—his flag soon waved over the battlements of the castle; and there we leave him for the present to enjoy the fruits of his new seigneurie.

St. Anton’s Well, in the parish of Llanstephan, was long a place of popular resort for invalids. Impregnated by some mysterious qualities which escaped detection by the ancient process of analysis, the water was lauded as a never-failing resource under those forms of corporeal malady which had baffled the skill of physicians, and conducted the sufferer to the very brink of despair. It may, therefore, be imagined, that the concourse of pilgrims was a source of no little emolument to the place, more especially to the “hydropathic” friar of the olden day, who presided at the well, and propitiated, for a consideration, the kind offices of St. Anthony. But all the medicinal virtues of this holy well are now left to the gossip of old tradition; and although the fountain bubbles up as fresh, and clear, and salubrious as ever, public faith in its qualities has been shaken; and no pilgrim, in these days of scientific analysis, ever stoops down to taste the water, and, in testimony of its virtue, leaves his crutch behind him.[406]

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“Now strike ye the harp that has slumbered so long,
Till yon mountains re-echo the theme of my song!
Come forth, ye bold warriors, from forest and tarn,
And up with the banner of Guy of Laugharne!
The sound is gone forth—all the land is awake,
Swords flash in the valley, and spears in the brake;
And, gleaming in arms, at their head ye discern
The fearless in battle—bold Guy of Laugharne!”

TOWARDS the south end of the town, close on the Bay of Carmarthen, are the ruins of the Castle, supposed to have been founded by Guido de Brian, in the reign of Henry III., or, according to others, to have been rebuilt by him; for it is said that the original castle was destroyed by Llywelyn-ap-Iorwerth as early as 1215. If so, the said Guido de Brian rebuilt it in the following reign. The remains, which have been many years enclosed within the walls of a private garden, and consist of a large square building—now a mere shell—are still in tolerable preservation. In this parish also are the ruins of what is called Roche’s Castle, but which tradition reports to be those of a monastery; though of what order, or epoch in the Cambrian annals, is not ascertained. This monastic or feudal ruin stands about a mile from the Castle of

Laugharne, the subject of our present notice. The ancient appellation of this town and castle, according to the native writers, appears to have been Llacharn, and seems to have taken its present orthography from the general of that name—William Laughearne—who distinguished himself in the service of the “Parliament;” and in 1644, after a siege of three weeks, took the Castle of “Llacharn.” Its still more ancient name is Abercoran, or Cowan—the “Castle on the banks of the Coran”—which, at a short distance below the Castle, empties itself into the sea. Local tradition says that the parish church{341} formerly stood upon a farm, in an island called Craseland—that is, Christ’s-land; but of the sacred edifice, not a vestige remains to support the tradition—

“Not an arch of nave or aisle—
Not a relic marks the pile;
Shrine and monumental stone,
Floor and fretted vault are gone!”

The Corporation consists of a portreeve, a recorder, an indefinite number of aldermen, two common attorneys, four constables, and seventy-six burgesses, who have shares in lands and commons which were given to the Corporation by “Sir Guido de Brian the younger, lord marcher of the said town and lordship of Laugharne,” in the reign of King John. “His cloak or mantle,” says Carlisle, “richly embroidered in purple and gold, is still preserved in the parish church.” Laugharne, as described by a recent tourist, is one of the neatest and cleanest of the smaller towns of South Wales. It has many excellent dwelling-houses, a good inn for the accommodation of travellers, and possessing various local attractions and a cheap market, many private families have made choice of it as a residence which unites pleasure and economy. The situation is low and sheltered—bounded by the tidal estuary and the Taff, which, at low water, presents a wide extent of dry land—an amphibious territory, which the inconstant sea alternately invades and deserts.

Guy de Brian—The founder of this name, and his successors, were all in their day knights of military renown. Their chief seat was in these marches, where, in the 29th Henry III., the first Guy received command to assist the Earl of Gloucester in suppressing some new insurrection in the country. Toward the close of the same reign, he had summons to attend the king at Chester—well fitted with horse and arms—to “prevent the incursions of that unruly people.” But not long after this, when the breach betwixt the king and divers of the great barons happened, he adhered unto them; for it appears that, after the battle of Lewes, where the king was made prisoner by the barons, he was constituted by them governor of the Castles of Cardigan and Kaermerdyn [or Carmarthen], which commission was renewed the next ensuing year; he having then also the like trust granted unto him by them for the Castle of Kilgaran. But shortly after, when the battle of Evesham “had qu