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Title: Warwickshire - The Land of Shakespeare
Author: Holland, Clive
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                       _VOLUMES IN THIS SERIES_

  CAMBRIDGE             By W. MATTHISON and M.
                          A. R. TUKER.

  OXFORD                By JOHN FULLEYLOVE and
                          EDWARD THOMAS.

  SCOTLAND              By SUTTON PALMER and
                          A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF.

  SURREY                By SUTTON PALMER and
                          A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF.

  WARWICKSHIRE          By FRED WHITEHEAD and
                          CLIVE HOLLAND.

  WILD LAKELAND         By A. HEATON COOPER and
                          MACKENZIE MACBRIDE.

  _Other Volumes to follow._



                                AGENTS

  AMERICA          THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                     64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

  AUSTRALASIA      THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
                     205 FLINDERS LANE, MELBOURNE

  CANADA           THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD.
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                     MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                     309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA
                     INDIAN BANK BUILDINGS, MADRAS



[Illustration: DECORATED FRONT PAGE

                             WARWICKSHIRE

                                BLACK’S
                                POPULAR
                               SERIES of
                                COLOUR
                                 BOOKS]

[Illustration: WARWICK CASTLE FROM THE BRIDGE.]


[Illustration: DECORATED TITLE PAGE

  WARWICKSHIRE

  THE LAND OF
  SHAKESPEARE

  PAINTED BY
  FRED WHITEHEAD

  DESCRIBED BY
  CLIVE HOLLAND

  A&C BLACK LTD
  4.5.6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.1.]



       _First Edition, with 75 Illustrations, published in 1906
                           Reprinted in 1912
  Second Edition, revised, with 32 Illustrations, published in 1922_



  _Printed in Great Britain by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.



Preface to Revised Edition


To those who know Warwickshire well it will be unnecessary to either
sing its praises, as not only one of the most historic but also one of
the most fascinating of middle–England shires, or to urge its claims
for the consideration of those who love the fair, open country, winding
roads, and pleasant hills and vales. This county, of whose beauty poets
from almost time immemorial have sung, possesses an added interest
beyond the romantic elements afforded by its history, its magnificent
survivals of bygone ages in castles, manor–houses, churches, and other
domestic buildings, in that it is the land of Shakespeare. Around this
beautiful district of England still hangs some of the unfading glamour
which comes from the association with it of great deeds and great
names; from amongst the latter of which that of “the nation’s poet”
stands out with undimmed lustre as the centuries pass away.

The wealth of material which confronts both the writer and the artist
who seeks to depict with pen and brush some of the most salient
features of the county is so embarrassing that selection becomes a task
of extreme difficulty. What to leave out presents itself as a most
pressing problem, not easily solved; for, alas! space is not elastic;
and even when the question is in a measure disposed of, it is still
pregnant with regrets for the many beautiful things, historic places,
scenes, and incidents which have had to be omitted for lack of space.
To those who know the county only as one of England’s central shires,
perhaps the book may give sufficient pleasure to induce them to visit
the places described.

  C. H.

  EALING, W.5.
  _June 1922._



Contents


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

     I. WARWICKSHIRE AND ITS HISTORY FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO
        THE CLOSE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY                             1

    II. WARWICKSHIRE AND ITS HISTORY FROM THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY TO
        MODERN TIMES                                                  24

   III. FAYRE WARWICK TOWN: ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE                   43

    IV. THE STORY OF WARWICK CASTLE                                   70

     V. COVENTRY: ITS HISTORY, ROMANCE, CHURCHES, AND ANCIENT
        BUILDINGS                                                     89

    VI. KENILWORTH AND ITS PRIORY—THE STORY AND ROMANCE OF
        KENILWORTH CASTLE                                            125

   VII. LEAMINGTON                                                   144

  VIII. THE STORY OF BIRMINGHAM                                      154

    IX. THE STORY OF SOME ANCIENT MANOR–HOUSES—BADDESLEY
        CLINTON—PACKINGTON OLD HALL—MAXSTOKE CASTLE—ASTLEY CASTLE    174

     X. THE STORY AND ROMANCE OF SOME SOUTH WARWICKSHIRE
        MANOR–HOUSES                                                 189

    XI. SHAKESPEARE’S LIFE AND SHAKESPEARE’S TOWN                    202

   XII. A GROUP OF SHAKESPEARE’S VILLAGES                            240

  INDEX                                                              256



List of Illustrations


  1. Warwick Castle from the Bridge                       _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

  2. Henley–in–Arden                                                   4

  3. Salford Priors                                                    9

  4. Coughton Court                                                   16

  5. Dunchurch                                                        25

  6. Southam                                                          32

  7. Warwick Castle                                                   41

  8. Leicester’s Hospital, Warwick                                    48

  9. Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick                                        57

  10. Guy’s Cliffe Mill                                               64

  11. Peeping Tom, Coventry                                           73

  12. Palace Yard, Coventry                                           80

  13. Ufton                                                           89

  14. Kenilworth Castle                                               96

  15. Stoneleigh Abbey                                               105

  16. The Parade, Leamington                                         112

  17. St. Martin’s Church, Birmingham                                121

  18. Baddesley Clinton Hall                                         128

  19. Maxstoke Castle                                                137

  20. Compton Wynyates                                               144

  21. Burton Dassett Church                                          153

  22. Little Wolford Manor–House                                     160

  23. Long Compton                                                   169

  24. Ann Hathaway’s Cottage                                         176

  25. Shakespeare’s Birthplace                                       185

  26. Stratford–on–Avon. The Grammar School                          192

  27. Stratford–on–Avon                                              201

  28. “Hungry” Grafton                                               208

  29. Abbots Salford                                                 217

  30. Bidford Bridge                                                 224

  31. Charlecote                                                     233

  32. Rugby School                                                   240

                      _Sketch Map facing  p.  1_

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP OF WARWICKSHIRE.]



                             WARWICKSHIRE



CHAPTER I

WARWICKSHIRE AND ITS HISTORY FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE CLOSE OF
THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY


Warwickshire has rightly been termed “leafy Warwickshire,” for although
deficient in scenery cast in a large mould, which may be described
as grand or magnificent, it is undoubtedly one of the most lovely
of English counties. Though lacking the peaks and deep–set dales of
its near neighbour, Derbyshire, which it touches at its northern
limit, it is essentially a county of pleasant hills, uplands, and
fertile well–watered vales. Some of the richest meadow–land and most
picturesque woodland scenery in the Midlands lie within the confine of
Shakespeare’s shire.

Few English counties present greater attractions for the student
of the past, the archæologist, the rambler, and the tourist than
Warwickshire. Through it gently–flowing rivers, unagitated by
sudden drops from highland sources, pass on their placid ways by
rich pasture–land and fields of waving corn, or wind in tortuous
convolutions through wide–spread parks, and past historic castles and
mansions rich in traditions of the stirring times when the shire played
its part in the affairs of national history.

Warwickshire, although possessing few ranges of considerable hills, and
no very high eminences, the chief ranges being on its north, eastern
and south–eastern borders, has just that type of scenery which was so
delightfully described by Mrs. Browning in “Aurora Leigh”:—

      The ground’s most gentle dimplement
  (as if God’s finger touched, but did not press,
  In making England!), such an up and down
  Of verdure—nothing too much up or down;
  A ripple of land; such little hills, the sky
  Can stoop to tenderly and the wheat fields climb;
  Such nooks and valleys, lined with orchises,
  Fed full of noises by invisible streams;
  And open pastures, where you scarcely tell
  White daisies from white dew; at intervals
  The mythic oaks and elm trees standing out
  Self–poised upon their prodigy of shade—
  I thought my father’s land was worthy too
  Of being my Shakespeare’s.

Few better descriptions of the charms of this delightful county have
ever been written, although many poets have sung them. An Elizabethan
singer, Michael Drayton, said of his native shire, “We the heart of
England well may call.”

It was well, indeed, for English literature that such an one as the
Bard of Avon should have been born and have lived in this land of
pleasant pastures, leafy woodlands, and placid and beautiful streams,
and should have treasured early memories of vagrant days amid her
sylvan solitudes and river banks with which to gem his after work with
sweet imageries of rural beauties, of flowers, and the songs of birds.

Shakespeare loved his native town, and he put into almost all of
his plays some glimpses or description of the natural and unfailing
beauties of Stratford and its immediate surroundings. And still, in
the meadows in which long ago he loved to muse and wander, are found
those “daisies pied,” “pansies that are for thoughts,” the “blue–veined
violets,” and “ladies’ smocks all silver white,” of which Shakespeare’s
maidens often sing. And there are also the willow–hung brooks, and the
orchards in spring beauteous in white and pink blossom, and in autumn
rich with sun–kissed fruit.

In few parts of rural England are richer and more beautiful meadows to
be found than round Stratford. These, through which the placid–moving
Avon flows, are in spring and early summer gay with the glistening gold
of kingcups and humbler buttercups, and fragrant with meadowsweet.
And a little later on the meadow grass is shot and diapered with
mauve orchises, tall horse daisies, yellow rattlegrass, blue and
white milkwort, and frail bluebells. In the woodlands, which engirdle
Stratford a little way beyond the town, there is in spring a rich
carpet of the mingled yellow of primroses and vivid ultramarine of
wild hyacinths, and a blended odour of awakening earth and flowers.
Few counties have been better sung by poets of the past and present
than Warwickshire. And much verse which has never been traced to
Warwickshire writers doubtless owes its origin to a district which,
“beautiful as some dreamland of flowers and fruits, and kingdom of
elfish people,” is taken to the heart of all who sojourn within its
borders, be it only for a brief period.

Beautiful, however, as the county is, it has interests quite as
fascinating for the historian, student, and archæologist as for
the wayfarer and artist. There is, indeed, no lack of historical
associations and of famous houses, connected with which are many of the
traditions and gallant deeds of past ages, which give an added interest
to much that is beautiful in itself.

The history of Warwickshire contains much which is also that of
England. Its life throughout the varying ages has been a part of
that of the kingdom at large. Although the traces of the earliest
of all inhabitants are comparatively few, sufficient exist, or have
been discovered from time to time, to enable both historical and
archæological students to construct with some certainty the life of the
district in far remote times.

Of the history of Warwickshire in pre–Roman times unfortunately little
is known. Even the very name of the county itself is of obscure origin,
although it most probably has a distinct connection with that of the
tribe Hwicci, who, in common with another tribe, the Cornavii, dwelt in
the district, which was a part of the great central kingdom of Mercia,
before the Roman occupation.

[Illustration: HENLEY–IN–ARDEN.]

Of the Roman occupation, which lasted nearly 470 years, fortunately
many memorials and relics have survived. Traces of three of those
great highways which exerted so puissant a civilising influence whilst
Romans dwelt in Britain, are still to be seen in the portions of the
Icknield–Way, Watling Street, and the Fosse–Way, which are to be found
in different parts of the county. Indeed, the second of these has
given its name to one of Birmingham’s most important streets. Along a
portion of the county’s western border, too, runs the Ridgeway; and
Alcester, Mancetter, and many other spots were once Roman stations
or Roman encampments. But although the Roman occupation doubtless
affected Warwickshire with the rest of the kingdom, it was of a more
partial character than in many other districts, and appears to have
been largely confined to the immediate vicinity of the roads which the
invaders constructed. The character of the country, which was at that
time densely wooded, permitted the inhabitants to hold it against their
conquerors with some success, attacking when the opportunity served,
and then retiring into ambush afforded by the nature of the ground.

Details of the early years of the Roman Conquest are fragmentary, and
it is not, indeed, till about A.D. 50 that one finds Ostorius Scapula,
who was the second governor, erecting a string of military posts and
forts on the Severn, indicating at all events the partial subjugation
of the British. Ultimately the district of which Warwickshire formed a
part became incorporated in the province known by the name of Flavia
Cæsariensis, and latterly was called Britannia Secunda.

Comparatively few architectural traces of the days of Roman rule have
been found, and of these most have been upon the lines of the two great
roads, the Icknield–Way and Watling Street, and then chiefly in the
immediate vicinity of the camps or “stations.” Very little history,
too, relating to this interesting period has survived the effluxion of
time.

The immediate successor of Ostorius appears to have made terms with the
leaders of the Hwicci, granting to them certain concessions, and some
measure of independence, but these British chiefs later on joined with
the Silures in resisting the Romans, and an era of greater severity on
the part of the latter ensued.

Under Suetonius Paulinus the domination over this portion of Britain
was extended and ultimately rendered complete. At this period “Arden,”
which is the general Celtic name for a forest, was to all intents
Warwickshire. It certainly was the largest of all British forests, and
extended from the Avon as far northward as the Trent, and probably
stretched to the banks of the Severn on the west. Its eastern
boundary is more uncertain, but there appears considerable reason for
believing that it lay approximately along a line drawn from the town
of Burton–on–Trent to High Cross, where the Fosse–Way and Watling
Street intersect. The early inhabitants of the southern portion of
this thickly–wooded and well–timbered district were principally if
not entirely belonging to the tribe of herdsmen known as the Hwiccian
Ceangi, and this district of Arden was known as the “Feldon,” whilst
the northern portion of the county beyond the Avon was then known
as the Woodland. The first–named district was of the nature of more
open country, with pasture lands and possessing wide cultivated
areas, although well–wooded in places; whilst the second named was
thickly timbered and scarcely penetrated to any extent by the Roman
conquerors. In later times, when England was ultimately divided into
shires or counties, in those of Warwick and Stafford were incorporated
various portions of the wilder Arden of those ancient days. The name
is, however, now only preserved in Warwickshire, where it survives in
Hampton–in–Arden and Henley–in–Arden, situated in the Woodland district.

Partial as the subjection to the Roman yoke of what is now known as
Warwickshire undoubtedly was, considerable remains of the occupation
have from time to time been discovered in the shape of coins,
implements, pottery, and other antiquities at Warwick, Alcester,
Lapworth, Hampton–in–Arden, Milverton, Birmingham, and other places.

The departure of the Romans affected Warwickshire less than some
other portions of the country at first. But there is little doubt that
the usual policy of the conquerors of drafting the bravest, best, and
youngest men into their own legions for service abroad left “the heart
of England” as badly prepared to resist the invasion of other tribes as
was the rest of the country. Depleted of many of its bravest warriors,
England was, after several centuries of reliance upon an alien power
for defence, when the Roman conquerors departed left at the mercy of
any who chose to attack. Not only were all the legions required at
home to resist the Saxon invasion under Alaric, who poured his hosts
of barbarians over the wide–spread Roman Empire, but the British youth
who had been drafted abroad returned not, and thus, as Gildas says,
Britain, despoiled of her soldiers, arms, and youth, who had followed
Maximus to return no more to their native shores, and being ignorant of
the art of war, groaned for many years under the constant incursions
and ruthlessness of the Picts and Scots.

For some considerable period after the departure of the Romans few
historical records relating to Warwickshire exist. And if, as George
Eliot wrote in _The Mill on the Floss_, “the happiest nations have no
history,” then the county which gave her and the “Bard of Avon” birth
must have been a pleasant spot for a long period. There is probably
a reasonable explanation of this circumstance when its position is
considered. Situated in the centre of England, and far removed from
the seaboard, it naturally escaped much of the storm and stress of
invasion and attack from which less happily placed districts in those
wild, early periods of national history so constantly suffered. Except
for a record that one Credda, a Saxon commander of note, successfully
penetrated into the wooded solitudes of Warwickshire, there are few
data obtainable for the construction of an historic sketch of this
region until the time of the Saxon Heptarchy. Then it became a part and
parcel of the wide–spread kingdom of Mercia, and not only enjoyed a
share of its rule and barbaric pomp and circumstance, but also played
a not inconsiderable part in the wars and feuds of the various Mercian
rulers.

[Illustration: SALFORD PRIORS.]

The capital of several of these monarchs was Tamworth; which anciently
enjoyed the distinction of standing in both Staffordshire and Warwick,
concerning which the Saxon Chronicle of 913 records, “This year, by
the help of God, Æthelflæd, lady of the Mercians, went with all the
Mercians to Tamworth, and there builded a burgh early in the summer.”
In those times Kingsbury, on the Tame, was also a place of importance
as a royal residence, and, according to Dugdale, the farmhouse,
formerly the Hall, stands on the spot where stood the palace of the
Mercian kings. Tamworth was destined to play its part in one of those
fierce and lurid conflicts between the Saxons and the Danish invaders
which took place after the town had been burned by the latter. Near
by, too, in A.D. 757, another battle took place between Ethelbald, the
tenth king of Mercia, and Cuthred, King of the West Saxons, when the
former was slain by one of his own followers. At Seckington, about five
miles to the north–east of Tamworth, is a tumulus, which not only marks
the site of the battle, but also the burial–place of those who fell.

In the latter half of the eighth century Offa, who ultimately became
the greatest ruler of the West of those times, raised the kingdom of
Mercia to a height of greatness and prosperity that it had never before
enjoyed,—an importance which it continued to hold for a period under
the rule of his son Cenwulf. Warwickshire, as a part of Mercia, must
naturally have benefited by its greatness and progress, but during the
reign of Cenwulf the seeds of a far–reaching revolution were being
sown, the fruits of which were the uniting of the kingdoms of Wessex
and Mercia by Ecgberht or Egbert, King of the West Saxons, who has been
sometimes incorrectly described as the first king of England.

The incursions of the Danish invaders, which had been of frequent
occurrence prior to the reign of Egbert, assumed a much more formidable
aspect almost ere the King had succeeded in welding together the
separate kingdoms under one head. Their first unwelcome visitations had
begun in 787, some thirteen years before Egbert’s accession.

In 868 they once again invaded and seriously ravaged Mercia. Two
years later they conquered East Anglia. A year later their triumphant
progress extended into Wessex, where they at first achieved some
successes, although that kingdom was ruled by a wise and heroic ruler
in the person of Æthelred, the brother of Alfred the Great, who
succeeded him. In the following year, 871, no less than nine pitched
battles were fought between the Danes and the Saxons.

It is supposed that Mercia about this time was only a portion of the
kingdom of Burhred, the last native king of central England, who had
succeeded Ceolwulf. This in 874 had been divided by the victorious
Danes, and committed as a tributary state to Ceolwulf. Be this as it
may, the whole of Warwickshire, there is little reason to doubt, came
into the hands of Alfred the Great by the Treaty of Wedmore in 878,
made between him and Guthrun the Danish leader, and was ultimately
formed by him into a duchy under his daughter Æthelflæd and her husband
Æthelred.

The effects of the Danish settlement were important on the future
history of the kingdom, for it was that of a new people with different
customs, modes of life, and traditions. How far–reaching the occupation
was can be traced in local nomenclature, and the counties which
were anciently West Saxon still retain the names and boundaries
of the divisions founded by the successors of Cerdic. Mercia, in
contradistinction to the local divisions of Wessex, which were evolved
naturally, was apparently mapped out, and the extent of the Danish
settlement of the county of Warwick may be traced from the fact that
Rugby is the southernmost town possessing the Danish affix _by_, whilst
there are a considerable number of places so distinguished in the more
northern part of the county.

In the several massacres of the Danes which took place during the
period comprised by the last few years of the tenth and first years
of the eleventh centuries, the part played by Mercia, and, as a
consequence, by the district afterwards to be known as Warwickshire,
was considerable. The ultimate vengeance for these massacres, which was
taken by Swend in 1013, was shared by the Mercians as well as by the
other inhabitants of East Anglia and central England. And the coming
of Canute three years later was destined to have a far–reaching effect
upon the history of the district, and of England generally.

Arriving with his army and Eadric, the Saxon Earldorman, who had
betrayed his fellow–countrymen previously, and had, so the Chronicles
state, fled from England to escape their vengeance, Canute crossed the
Thames at Cricklade and entered and ravaged Mercia, proceeding into
Warwickshire during mid–winter’s tide, where the Danes ravaged and
burned and slew all that they could come across. Afterwards Canute and
his forces besieged London. “But,” says the Chronicler, “Almighty God
saved it.” Failing to capture the city, the Danes once more returned
into Mercia, and carried fire and sword into its vales and woodlands,
slaying and burning whatever they overran.

On the death of Æthelred the Unready two years later, in 1016, Canute
was chosen king at Southampton, and Edmund, surnamed Ironside, in
London. The latter’s reign was short but glorious; several battles were
fought with the Danes and victories won, in consequence of which Canute
agreed to a division of the kingdom between Edmund and himself. In this
division Canute took Mercia and Northumbria, and Edmund the rest of
England. In a few months the latter died in London, and Canute became
by common consent King of England.

The Danish leader’s reign brought peace and a large degree of
prosperity for the people over whom he had been destined to rule. And
during his sovereignty Warwickshire at least experienced immunity from
ravishment by fire and sword, and enjoyed a measure of good government.
In the years which immediately followed little happened to disturb
the peace of the county, although bloody feuds occasionally wrought
destruction in contiguous localities.

With the death of Edward the Confessor a brief period of unrest ensued,
whilst Harold was engaged in a struggle to retain the throne he had
ascended and in resisting the invasion of William of Normandy, who
claimed that the crown of England had been left him by Edward the
Confessor.

In the fierce Battle of Hastings, waged on the heights of Sussex,
Harold fell fighting, and with him ended the history of the country
under its Anglo–Saxon kings.

Under them England had gained a foretaste of those principles of
individual and personal liberty, in comparison with which all other
so–called freedom can be but a mockery.

The extent of the occupation of Warwickshire by the Saxons can be
easily traced by the curious from the number of _marks_, as their early
settlements were called. Thirty–one of the large number of thirteen
hundred and twenty–nine names of settlements, which have been traced
throughout the land, belong to Warwickshire. Some few of the most
notable were Leamingas (Leamington), Beormingas (Birmingham), Ludingas
(Luddington), Whittingas (Whittington), Poeccingas (Packington),
Ælmingas (Almington), Secingas (Seckington), and Eardingas (Erdington).

Warwickshire is not possessed of many Saxon remains. Of architecture
dating from before the Conquest the fragments of round–headed door
cases at Kenilworth, Stretton–on–Dunsmoor, Ryton, Honingham, Badgeley,
and Burton Dassett may be mentioned. While at Polesworth nunnery, the
ruins of Merevale Abbey, and in the churches at Salford Priors and
Beaudesert there are some fragments. Occasionally Saxon jewels have
been turned up in the soil. Perhaps amongst the most interesting of
these relics are the two Saxon jewels of cut gold, one set with an opal
and rubies, and the other adorned on both sides with a cross between
two rudely–fashioned human figures, each holding a lance or sword in
one hand, found more than a century and a quarter ago at Walton Hall,
near Compton Verney. Tumuli, of course, exist in different parts of the
country, from which at various times bones, skulls, and small ornaments
have been excavated.

Until the coming of William the Conqueror Warwickshire was almost
without historians or records, although an attempt at a survey and the
accumulation of historical data had been made in the previous reign of
Edward the Confessor. Though the Saxon Chronicle gives many interesting
and valuable details concerning lands, places, and incidentally also
of the life of the people of the period, it is to the Domesday Book,
that monumental work of the Conqueror, all historians and students have
to go when in search of information regarding the English counties at
the time of, immediately prior to, and after the Conquest. The value
of this truly wonderful work as regards Warwickshire in particular is
considerably enhanced by reason of its containing a comparative report
of the nature, extent, and value of the different estates, names of
towns, and position of roads in the reign of Edward the Confessor.
From its pages one is enabled to gain a more or less vivid idea of the
extent of the county, its inhabitants, and its peculiarities at a time
when English history and that of Warwickshire was in the making.

In this wonderful work, commenced in 1081 and completed in 1086, are
to be found records of all the original Saxon landowners (many of whom
were afterwards dispossessed by their conquerors), and the value and
extent of their estates. The original holders of the Saxon manors and
estates in Warwickshire suffered severely at the hands of the Norman
invader; and the pages of the Domesday Book afford interesting evidence
of how wide–spread these confiscations were. The population of the
county at that time was a few less than seven thousand, all told.

The period immediately succeeding the Conquest was one of great
suffering for the vanquished. Year after year the Saxon Chronicle sets
down a tale of wars, pestilences, storms, and famines, and although
there is no direct reference to Warwickshire, it is certain that the
county bore its part in “the sufferings inflicted by the acts of
tyrannous man and the wisdom of God.”

From the tangle of the history of this period it is no easy task to
seek to justly estimate the part played by Warwickshire in the history
of the country at large.

But towards the end of Henry III.’s reign it was the scene of some
of the most stirring and momentous episodes of the Barons’ War. The
struggle between the King and the Barons under the leadership of Simon
de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, centred, so far as Warwickshire was
concerned, round Kenilworth and Warwick. De Montfort at the outset of
the war garrisoned the former castle and placed Sir John Gifford in
command. The latter and the troops of the garrison promptly ravaged
the country round about, destroying the manor–houses and farms of
those who were well–affected to the King. And finding that the Earl of
Warwick had espoused the Royal cause the Kenilworth garrison, under the
leadership of its governor, surprised and made a vigorous attack upon
Warwick, taking the Earl and Countess prisoners.

In the year following the Battle of Lewes was fought, on May 14, 1264,
in which the Barons under De Montfort were victorious. Prince Edward
and his troops afterwards made a forced march and appeared before
Kenilworth and routed De Montfort and dispersed his force. De Montfort
took refuge in the castle, and ultimately effected his escape. With the
small force at his command Prince Edward felt unable to successfully
attack a fortress of such strength, but in a skirmish hard by he
succeeded in capturing much booty, and no less than fifteen of the
Barons’ standards, which were destined a short time later to prove of
peculiar service to the victor.

[Illustration: COUGHTON COURT.]

Abandoning all intention of reducing Kenilworth Castle Edward and his
troops pushed on their way towards Evesham, just over the border,
in the neighbouring county of Worcestershire, bearing the captured
standards in the van. At Evesham lay the Earl of Leicester, awaiting
his son De Montfort, who, at the time of his defeat near Kenilworth by
Prince Edward, had been on his way to join the Earl, then in Wales.
Deceived by the standards the forces of the Barons prepared not to
resist the advancing army, but to welcome it, under the mistaken
impression that the force was that of their expected friends.

After the fierce engagement, fought on a torrid August day in 1265, on
the high ground known as Green Hill, between the roads to Birmingham
and Worcester, and about a mile outside the town, in which not only was
the Earl of Leicester, Henry de Montfort and many nobles slain, but the
power of the Barons finally broken, Simon de Montfort, who had escaped,
fled to Kenilworth and afterwards to France.

After the conclusion of the Barons’ war, for almost two centuries
this most lovely of English counties rested in the tranquillity which
during that period marked the years as they passed in central England,
whatever happenings fell to dwellers on the coasts.

Only the merest echoes of the French wars of Edward III. and the
glorious victories of Crecy and Poitiers seem to have reached the
peaceful vales of Warwickshire; though old Records and Chronicles
bear witness that the country contributed of her money and her sons
to uphold the might of England. And the same may be said of the brave
doings at Agincourt, Crevant, Verneuil, and Herrings; and the defeat
sustained at Patay which counted for so much in the future history
of the race. At most the disturbing influence of these wars was
represented by the rumours, which travelled not fast in those times,
the visits of the recruiting officers of the day, the appeal for
followers made by some manorial lord, or the breathless tales told by
returned wounded, or veterans from the “stricken fields” of fair France.

The religious life of the county was, as in other parts of England
at this time, ministered to by the monks of foundations, such as
Warwick Priory; Stoneleigh Abbey, a Cistercian monastery founded by
the monks of Radmore, Staffordshire, who relinquished their estates in
that county to Henry II. in exchange for those of Stoneleigh; Temple
Balsall, near Knowle, erected by the Knights Templars in the reign
of Richard II.; Combe Abbey, near Coventry, the second Cistercian
foundation in the county, built in the reign of Stephen; Merevale
Abbey, near Atherston, founded and richly endowed by Robert, Earl
Ferrers, in the middle of the twelfth century in one of the most
beautiful spots in the northern part of the county; and the once
magnificent Maxstoke Priory, built in 1336 by William de Clinton for
an establishment of the Augustines. From these and other religious
houses emanated what of learning and religion the countryfolk knew in
the Middle Ages, and with the passing away of the monkish owners at the
time of the Dissolution, although abuses had undoubtedly crept in which
called loudly for and needed stringent action and redress, Warwickshire
was the poorer. It was to the monasteries and religious orders, rightly
or wrongly, that the humble folk had looked for salvation, protection,
and healing in the ancient days when almost all learning as well as
knowledge of physic was to be found within cloistered walls.

With the accession of Henry VI. of Winchester, weak and totally
unfitted to govern during the turbulent times which lay in the
immediate future, trouble soon manifested itself amongst the powerful
nobles; these the King proved quite unable to reduce to order. To
make matters worse nearly the whole of the vast possessions held by
England in France, which had been won by the triumphant arms of Henry
V., were lost, adding to the bitterness and discontent which already
was bringing the country at large to a state bordering upon anarchy.
The serious family quarrels which had commenced whilst the King was
still a minor, involving many of the noble houses, either in support
of the claims of the House of York or the House of Lancaster, became
acute. Shakespeare, in “Henry VI.,” well and vividly pictures the
historic scene in the Temple Gardens, in front of which in those days
flowed a “clear, reed–begirt Thames,” which was destined to give the
coming contest its name, and describes the quarrel between the Earl of
Somerset and Richard Plantagenet. The Earl of Warwick, whilst in the
company of the latter, by tradition is stated to have plucked a white
rose, which was afterwards adopted as the badge of the Yorkists, and
whilst doing so he makes the following speech:—

  This blot that they object against your house
  Shall be wiped out in the next parliament,
  Call’d for the truce of Winchester and Gloster;
  And, if thou be not then created York,
  I will not live to be accounted Warwick.
  Meantime, in signal of my love for thee,
  Against proud Somerset and William Pole,
  Will I upon thy party wear this rose:
  And here I prophesy,—This brawl to–day,
  Grown to this faction, in the Temple Garden,
  Shall send, between the red rose and the white,
  A thousand souls to death and deadly night.

In the bloody struggle, which lasted intermittently for a period of
thirty years, and was foreshadowed so accurately by Warwick’s speech,
his own county was destined to play a far more intimate and important
rôle than many other parts of England where, indeed, the battle
royal between the houses of York and Lancaster was regarded with
comparatively slight interest. With the final rupture of the parties,
which took place in 1455, Warwickshire entered upon another period
of unrest, such as had afflicted its peace, progress, and prosperity
during the Barons’ War.

The struggle was possibly rendered the more disastrous from the fact
that the county was divided in opinion regarding the merits of the
“rival Roses.” The supporters of the House of York numbered many of the
most powerful families in Warwickshire, in addition to that of Richard
Neville, Earl of Warwick, destined to go down to posterity as “the King
Maker.” But while the town of Warwick was for York, this advantage
was somewhat counterbalanced by the strong Lancastrian sympathies of
Coventry, but twelve miles distant.

Henry of Lancaster and his Queen, Margaret, had sedulously wooed the
latter town by frequent visits, and also by making it and several
adjoining parishes a separate county. Coventry saw a good deal of the
Red Rose faction, and at the re–commencement of the war, which had
languished after the first battle of St. Albans in 1455, at the time
the Earls of Warwick and March (the latter of whom was afterwards made
Edward IV.) set out for London in search of the King’s forces, the
Lancastrians were actually quartered at Coventry. The troops, however,
did not remain long in the town, but marching south–east under the
command of the Duke of Buckingham, encountered the Yorkist forces at
Northampton on July 10, 1460, suffering a disastrous defeat, when
Henry himself was captured. Amongst the more notable Warwickshire
adherents of the King who fell was Sir Henry Lucy, of Charlecote, near
Stratford–on–Avon.

Ten years later saw Warwick “the King Maker” espousing the cause of
Lancaster. After his quarrel with Edward IV. he had fled to France,
and there at the Court of Louis XI. had met with and been reconciled
to Margaret, and exiled Queen of Henry VI. of Windsor, and Edward’s
own brother the Duke of Clarence. In the same year (1470) Warwick and
Clarence made a descent upon England, and Edward fled to Flanders.
On the landing of Warwick, Henry VI., who although deposed was still
alive, was proclaimed; and for a short period the Lancastrian dynasty
may be said to have been restored.

On the return of Edward in the following year the Earl of Warwick
took the field at the head of the Lancastrian forces. He was not long
destined, however, to profit by his change of sides, for, encountering
the army which Edward, who had been rejoined by the Duke of Clarence,
had hastily gathered together at Barnet, “the King Maker” was utterly
defeated and slain on April 14, 1471. The landing of Margaret, which
had taken place at Weymouth on the same day, caused the Lancastrian
forces to rally after the battle of Barnet, but they were finally
overthrown on May 4 at Tewkesbury, after which Edward, son of Henry and
Margaret, was treacherously assassinated by the King and his brother;
and the Duke of Somerset, who had been captured, executed.

With the defeat and death of “the King Maker” Warwickshire’s active
participation in the struggles of the rival Roses may be said to have
come to an end.

A few years later the House of Warwick became allied to that of York
by the marriage of Richard III. with Anne, daughter of the Earl of
Warwick, and widow of the unhappy Edward V., who had been murdered by
Richard, his uncle.

The final struggle between the rival Roses took place not in
Warwickshire, but in its sister county Leicestershire at Market
Bosworth, in the sanguinary battle of August 22, 1485, which by the
defeat and death of Richard III. brought the Plantagenet line of
English sovereigns to an end.

Upon the accession of Henry of Richmond after the battle of Bosworth,
the Earl of Warwick, son of the Duke of Clarence, was imprisoned in the
Tower. And on the advent of Perkin Warbeck, who represented himself
to be Richard, Duke of York, son of Edward IV., the fact of Warwick’s
imprisonment was used by King Henry VII.’s enemies to his injury and
disparagement.

The fate of Warbeck was destined ultimately to involve that of the
unfortunate Earl of Warwick. Bacon puts the position in a brief phrase,
which cannot be easily surpassed for vivid imagery. He says, “it was
ordained that the winding ivy of a Plantagenet should kill the true
tree itself.”

By the execution of the Earl upon Tower Hill in 1499 the male line of
the Plantagenets, which had flourished in great royalty, power, and
renown from the time of Henry II., came to an end; and there was no
other Earl of Warwick for a period of nearly half a century.



CHAPTER II

WARWICKSHIRE AND ITS HISTORY FROM THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY TO MODERN TIMES


For many years after the decisive battle of Bosworth the history of
Warwickshire was marked rather by peaceful and steady progress than
by events of intense interest. No great occurrence of a military or
catastrophic character disturbed its sunny hills and fertile vales. And
even during the reign of Edward VI., which witnessed the historical
struggle between the Duke of Somerset and Earl of Warwick for power,
Warwickshire enjoyed a period of rest and tranquillity, unaffected by
the schemes and plotting of John Dudley, who had been created Earl of
Warwick by the King.

On the death of Edward VI., however, the county became involved in
the attempt of Warwick, who had been made Duke of Northumberland, to
place Lady Jane Grey, who had just married his son Lord Guildford
Dudley, on the throne to the exclusion of Mary, half–sister of the late
King. The attempt completely failed and resulted in Warwick’s execution
as a traitor on Tower Hill on August 22, 1553, his death being followed
the next year by that of the unfortunate lady who had been made the
innocent instrument of his over–weening ambition.

[Illustration: DUNCHURCH.]

During Mary’s reign Warwick’s grandson, Ambrose, was restored to
favour, and although the county was involved in the rising of the Duke
of Suffolk and Sir Thomas Wyatt in February 1554 to depose the Queen
and prevent her marriage with Philip of Spain, the House of Warwick was
not concerned in the rebellion, which was speedily quashed.

Warwickshire was not permitted to escape the cruelties and persecutions
which distinguished the disastrous reign of Mary, and among the
historical memories which the county should for ever honour and cherish
with undying love are those of the martyrdom of Robert Glover and Mrs.
Joyce Lewis, both of Mancetter, and of others; the former of whom was
burned at the stake in Coventry on September 19, 1555, in company with
Cornelias Bungey.

In the succeeding reign of Elizabeth the county had its part in the
general progress and prosperity of the nation at large. The fear of
the threatened Armada of 1585 found Warwickshire, as other counties,
ready and willing to furnish its quota of men and money for the defence
of England. And as the time of danger drew nearer and the designs
of Philip of Spain became a reality, the numbers of the levies made
in the county increased, until in December 1587 the Lord–Lieutenant
received orders from the Queen to provide 600 men, properly selected
and equipped. Large loans were also successfully raised, although from
the State Papers one gathers that there were a considerable number of
families, probably Catholics, who objected to contribute. One great
happening only in the county marked this period as one destined to
be ultimately regarded as of worldwide interest and importance. On
April 23, 1564, at Stratford–on–Avon, William Shakespeare, one of the
greatest poets of any age, was born. A genius not alone destined to
reflect undying lustre upon the literature of the wonderfully rich
Elizabethan age, but to survive through succeeding centuries of change
in men, modes of thought and fashion as no other writer has.

Rather less than half a century after Shakespeare’s birth the county
was once more brought into prominence by the famous Gunpowder Plot.
Not only were many of the chief conspirators members of well–known
Warwickshire families, but much of the plotting took place in the
county. The conspiracy, which was intended to compass the death of
King James and his eldest son Prince Henry, and other Protestant
noblemen on the opening of the Parliament in November 1605, was in the
beginning largely the work of one Robert Catesby, of Bushwood Hall,
near Lapworth. Catesby had taken part in the abortive rebellion of the
Earl of Essex in the previous reign, but had been pardoned after having
paid a fine amounting to £3000. He would appear to have been “the born
plotter” he was called by an historian of the period, for he was mixed
up in numerous conspiracies previous to the “gunpowder treason,” which
cost him his life. At one time he was probably a Protestant, as he
married a daughter of Sir Thomas Leigh, of Stoneleigh Abbey.

Catesby and his fellow conspirators, in addition to compassing the
death of King James and the heir to the throne, proposed to seize the
person of Prince Charles or that of the Princess Elizabeth, then living
at Combe Abbey, near Coventry, which had been but recently erected by
Lord Harrington. The ultimate intention being to marry the Princess to
some Catholic nobleman. Catesby’s mother was a Roman Catholic, a Miss
Throckmorton of Coughton Court, near Alcester. His father, originally
a Protestant, had been frequently brought to book and fined for
recusancy. It was probably the persecution of his father that turned
Robert Catesby’s undoubted gifts for plotting into the channel of
the famous Gunpowder Conspiracy. He at first associated himself with
three desperadoes, and ultimately with Guido Fawkes. The plotters met
to arrange the details of their plan chiefly at Bushwood, Clopton,
Coughton Court, and the ancient manor–house of Norbrook, not far from
Warwick, the home of John Grant, one of the chief conspirators. This
latter place was the magazine where the arms were stored, and also
a general rendezvous, but the headquarters were the Lion Inn, at
Dunchurch.

At this time Catesby himself was residing at Ashby St. Ledgers,
Northamptonshire, after he had sold his Warwickshire estates. The plan
was to have a hunting match at Dunsmore, near Dunchurch, and then the
conspirators, on receiving the news that Guido Fawkes’ portion of the
work had been faithfully accomplished, and the Houses of Parliament
blown up, were to ride off to Combe Abbey and seize the person of the
Princess Elizabeth.

On the 5th of November there was a large muster of people—invited
by Sir Everard Digby, whose part in the plot it was to bring about
a “rising” in the Midlands—concerned at Dunchurch, ostensibly for a
hunting party. All day they hung about the street of the little town,
or sat in the parlour of the low–gabled Lion Inn, hungering for news.
Towards midnight these were thrown into a panic by the arrival of
Catesby, Rokewood, Percy, the Wrights, and others who had fled from
London on the arrest of Guido Fawkes the night before, whilst he was at
work in the vaults beneath the Houses of Parliament laying the train
that was to explode the gunpowder on the following day.

The principal conspirators, who, instead of fleeing the country on
Fawkes’ arrest, had proceeded post–haste to Dunchurch, in the hope of
still seizing the Princess and raising a rebellion in her name, on
reaching the village decided to continue their flight, with others who
joined them, on the news of the failure of the plot.

It was ultimately decided to make a stand at Holbeach House,
Staffordshire, the residence of Stephen Littleton, who had only
recently joined the conspiracy. To reach it they had to ford a river,
and in doing so their arms and ammunition became damp. Whilst drying
the powder in front of the fire a spark fell amongst it; an explosion
occurred, and Catesby, Morgan, Rokewood, and Grant were badly burned;
and several of those who had thrown in their lot with the fugitives
took advantage of the confusion to escape.

On the arrival of the sheriff of Worcestershire and his posse
at Holbeach, the house—which had been seriously damaged by the
explosion—was attacked, and Catesby and Percy, a member of the
Northumberland family, were shot in the courtyard, where they had
intentionally exposed themselves. Rokewood was severely wounded and
taken prisoner with Winter, Grant, Morgan, and several less known
plotters who had retreated into the house. Others were afterwards taken
whilst hiding in the cover afforded by Snitterfield Bushes, some six or
seven miles to the south–west of Warwick.

Thus ended one of the most notable conspiracies in English history, the
heinousness of which has been the subject of much controversy both in
the period immediately following its failure and in recent times. With
the capture and death of the chief participants, and the ultimate trial
and punishment of those who had not succeeded in making good their
escape, Warwickshire once more relapsed into its normal condition of
peace and quietude, from which it was, however, destined to be rudely
awakened by the yet more stirring events of the great Civil War.

At the outbreak of the struggle between Charles I. and his parliament
the county generally declared itself strongly on the side of the
latter; the then owner of Warwick Castle, Robert Greville, Lord Brooke,
being one of the most powerful and bitter of the early opponents of
the King. Prominent upon the side of Charles, however, was found Sir
William Dugdale of Blythe Hall, the antiquary and historian, who,
holding office as one of the royal heralds and as Garter King–at–Arms,
journeyed with the King to Nottingham and made the proclamation when
the royal standard was set up on August 22, 1642. The disastrous Civil
War may be said to have then begun, notwithstanding that two days
previously a hot skirmish had taken place at Long Itchington, some ten
miles to the east of Warwick, between the King’s forces and those of
the Parliament under Lord Brooke and Lord Grey.

Although the first serious encounter between the opposing parties
took place in the neighbouring county of Worcester on September 23,
when Prince Rupert gained an advantage over a body of Parliamentarian
troops, what may be called the first battle of the war took place just
a month later, a little to the south of Kineton, on the plain below
Edge Hill, by which latter name the engagement is known.

Following hard upon the raising of the Royal standard at Nottingham,
Lord Essex at the head of the Parliamentarian forces seized Worcester.
About the middle of September the King and the army which had flocked
to his standard marched to Shrewsbury, from which town on the 12th of
the following month they set out for London. On the 18th of October
Charles was quartered at Packington Old Hall, the home of Sir Robert
Fisher, about ten miles to the north–west of Coventry. On the 19th and
20th the Royal forces were at Kenilworth, next day at Southam, and on
Saturday, 22nd, Charles was the guest of Mr. Toby Chauncy at Edgecote
House, near Cropredy, just over the border in Oxfordshire; whilst
Prince Rupert and a body of troops were encamped a few miles to the
north at Wormleighton House, the main body of the Royalist army being
gathered at Edgecote and Cropredy.

Essex, who had left Worcester upon hearing of the Royalist move
towards the capital, reached Kineton on the eve of the 22nd of October
with a portion of his army, numbering about 13,000 foot and regular
horse, with some 700 dragoons. He was thus numerically inferior to
the Royalists, whose forces numbered about two thousand more foot.
The intention of the Parliamentary leader was to rest his men on the
following day (Sunday), so as to allow the remainder of his troops to
come up with him. These consisted of two regiments of foot, eleven
troops of horse, and seven pieces of ordnance.

The approach of Essex, the number of his forces and his intentions
became known to Prince Rupert, through the pickets which he had
judiciously stationed on the high ground at Burton Dassett. A hasty
council of war was held at Cropredy, at which it was decided to attempt
to check the Parliamentary advance, and to give Essex battle.

Throughout the night of Saturday October 22, the whole district was
astir with the movements of troops, the little town of Kineton, the
Tysoe villages, Butler’s Marston, Burton Dassett, Warmington, Cropredy,
and Wormleighton being terror–struck with the massing of the rival
forces and passage of swiftly–travelling messengers.

Almost before it was light the main body of the Royal army struck camp,
and marched by way of Mollington and Warmington to a position on the
Edge Hills extending from Edge Hill House on the south to Knowle End
on the north, the King’s standard being placed and displayed on the
site now occupied by the Round Tower. The Royal Line was well protected
both on its flanks and in the rear; whilst a complete view of the
Parliamentarian army, then disposed in three lines of battle on the
plain below in front of the little town of Kineton, was obtainable, the
ground in front of the Parliamentarians being even more “open” than it
is at the present time.

There would appear to have been good hope on the Royalist side of a
successful issue to the impending battle. The advantage of position
certainly lay with Charles’ troops. The King, after reconnoitring
the enemy through a telescope from Knowle End, where now stands a
crown–shaped mound planted with trees, rode along the lines of his army
clad in steel, wearing a star and garter, and a black velvet mantle
over his suit of armour. He afterwards addressed the officers, gathered
in his tent for last instructions, in these words, “Come life or death,
your King will bear you company.” It was the Earl of Lindsey, the
King’s Lieutenant–General, who acted as impromptu chaplain and offered
up a quaint and brief prayer in these words: “O Lord, Thou knowest how
busy I must be to–day! If I forget Thee, do not Thou forget me. March
on, boys!”

[Illustration: SOUTHAM.]

Through that long Sunday morning, on October 23, 1642 (November 2,
new style), the forces of Lord Essex lay and watched the enemy on the
heights above them, and distant from them scarcely more than a couple
of miles; showing no disposition to risk an attack upon a position
which was undoubtedly so advantageous as to be worth several thousand
men. At about one o’clock it was decided by the King and his officers
to descend the steep face of the cliff, and make a frontal attack upon
the Parliamentarians disposed in a long line passing through Battle and
Thistle Farms. In Essex’s own regiment commanding a troop was Oliver
Cromwell, then forty–one, who was destined to ultimately crush the
Royal cause on the fields of Marston Moor and Naseby.

Prince Rupert, who, earlier in the day, had caused embarrassment by
his refusal to serve under orders save those of King Charles himself,
led the cavalry on the right, Lord Wilmot on the left, whilst the
command of the centre was vested in Sir Jacob Astley and General
Ruthven, with the King and reserves of pensioners in the rear. Although
the day was fine overhead the ground was wet and miry, and proved heavy
“going” for troops already fatigued by several days of rapid marching.
Close upon two o’clock the muffled boom of two cannon fired by the
Parliamentarians rolled across the plain and reverberated amid the
cliffs of the Edge Hills. The momentous opening of the great Civil War
had come.

The Royalists’ cavalry on the left swept round, and charged upon
the body of Parliamentarian troops located at what is now known as
Battle Farm, where Essex had placed some of his artillery. They were
repulsed with considerable loss. Prince Rupert’s charge along the right
wing met with more success as it drove back Sir James Ramsay and the
force under his command. But unhappily for the King the Prince rushed
onwards towards Kineton with characteristic heedlessness to plunder the
Parliamentarian baggage train, unmindful of the fact that his help was
needed, as the Royalists were losing ground on other parts of the field.

At this hour of the day, although the Parliamentary left was crumpled
up and forced back, the right wing held its own, as did also the
centre; and when Rupert returned from his impetuous pursuit, it was
too late to retrieve his error of judgment. The enemy’s centre had not
only stood firm but had advanced, forcing the Royalists to retreat. The
arrival of John Hampden, with a body of troops who promptly opened fire
upon the Prince’s horsemen, causing them to flee in great confusion,
completed the disaster, Rupert himself having to throw away his hat and
plumes lest they should offer a mark to the enemy’s musketeers.

The Royal army was now indeed, for some considerable time, in imminent
danger of a disastrous and crushing defeat, owing to the severe
pressure on its left front.

Both armies suffered severely, almost equally so, states a contemporary
account, but inasmuch as the Parliamentarians had held their ground
and the Royalists had been compelled to retire from the assault, the
advantage was with some justness claimed by the former. The number of
killed was very large, but contemporary estimates are so contradictory
that it is almost impossible to obtain figures of any exactness.
Probably Sir William Dugdale, who, present during the engagement,
afterwards went over the field and estimated the number of those
actually slain to have been rather more than 1100, is approximately
correct.

Although the enclosures have altered the general appearance of the
field of battle from that which it bore on that disastrous Sunday of
October 23, 1642, the main lines can even nowadays be traced with
considerable clearness and accuracy. And the “Sun Rising,” a fine, old
stone house, has survived the course of the years, as has also the
old Beacon Tower, at Burton Dassett, on the summit of which the first
signal fire was kindled in the cresset by the Parliamentarians to send
the news of the battle London–wards to the next station at Ivinghoe,
some forty miles distant, and thence to Harrow–on–the–Hill.

The months immediately succeeding the first struggle at Edge Hill
saw some great happenings. Warwick had held out when called upon by
Sir William Dugdale to surrender in the King’s name, though Banbury
yielded. But at Coventry the anti–Royalist faction was all powerful,
the “rebels,” “sectaries,” and “schismatics” gathered thick within its
walls, where they deemed immunity from molestation more certain than
in unprotected towns. Kenilworth at the commencement of the war had
been garrisoned for the King, but the defenders were soon stealthily
withdrawn as the rebels in the district increased in numbers; a fight
between them and a body of Parliamentarian troops from Coventry taking
place at Curdworth near Coleshill, just prior to the battle of Edge
Hill.

So far as Warwickshire’s part in the Civil War is concerned the most
stirring and memorable event after the battle of Edge Hill was the
attack upon and the destruction of a part of Birmingham by Prince
Rupert on Easter Monday of the year 1643.

Although many echoes of the struggle which was fiercely waged, and
with varying fortune to the contending parties, up and down the country
for a further period of two and a half years, reached Warwickshire, and
although several severe engagements were fought in the neighbouring
counties of Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Berkshire, no very
considerable fighting took place in Warwickshire itself after the
burning of Birmingham. It was, however, so near the field of other
actions that its peace was perpetually disturbed during the succeeding
years, until the final crushing of the Royalist adherents at Naseby
on June 14, 1645, and the surrender of the King to the Scots in the
following year at Newark. Troops passed along its peaceful lanes on
many occasions, and manor–houses were raided by detached bodies of
Royalists and Parliamentarians, producing a feeling of unrest and
insecurity amongst the inhabitants, and imparting an element of romance
to many a time–worn building.

With the return of Charles II. in the early years of the Commonwealth,
and during the brief campaign succeeding his invasion of England to
assert his kingship, which ended so disastrously on “Cromwell’s day,”
September 3, 1651, at the battle of Worcester, Warwickshire once more
knew the presence of troops within its peaceful confines, and the
hurrying to and fro along its lanes and by–ways of fugitive Royalists
and armed pursuers.

After the battle Charles, whilst escaping in disguise, in company with
Miss Jane Lane, fled into Warwickshire, narrowly escaping capture by
some of the Lord Protector’s men near Bearley Cross. It was in the
kitchen of a house at Long Marston that the royal fugitive, to render
his disguise more effective, took his turn at the kitchen spit! And
Packington Old Hall also sheltered him and his companion during their
flight.

Warwickshire played no very prominent part in the history of the
half century immediately succeeding the Restoration, and although the
intervening years between the latter and the Napoleonic Wars saw many
changes, the life of the county was on the whole placid and uneventful.
Situated far inland, the wars of the closing years of the eighteenth
and early years of the nineteenth century made little impression on a
county then so agricultural in its interests and pursuits.

During the first quarter of the nineteenth century Warwick grew little,
though remaining the county town; and even the anciently renowned
city of Coventry had but an uneventful history, and progress chiefly
remarkable for its development of the ribbon industry.

Birmingham was as yet almost unthought of as a great industrial centre
of population.

The history of Warwickshire during the middle and latter years of the
nineteenth century is chiefly industrial, although the period which has
seen the rise of Birmingham has not been entirely without an underlying
element of romance. The “hardware town” had from early times, as we
have already pointed out, attracted many artisans, skilled workmen, and
ingenious inventors to itself by reason of its freedom from corporate
restrictions. And at the end of the eighteenth century it had commenced
to grow and expand, not, of course, at first with the rapidity that
was later on to mark its advance; but, nevertheless, with an expansion
which was notable and also marked in the character of its industries.
The gun and sword trades, which had existed at the time of the Civil
War, grew steadily; and to these were added others connected with
iron, steel, and brass, and in the days of Edmund Burke the rise of
the jewellery trade, and that of other ornaments, had made it what he
described as “the toy shop of Europe.”

Indeed, the growth and progress of Birmingham has shed upon
Warwickshire almost all the lustre which it has enjoyed for more than
a century, and since the passing away of the more stirring days of
internecine strife. As was but natural the town, now become a centre
of a vast unrepresented population, took an active and prominent part
in the agitation which preceded the passing of the great Reform Bill
of 1832; and its famous public meetings in support of that measure not
only may be said to have represented the county as well as Birmingham
itself, but also the Midlands generally.

Defeated in 1831, the measure was reintroduced in the following year,
and was read a third time on the 19th of March, and on the 26th of the
same month was sent up to the Lords. It passed its second reading, but
there were grave fears that it would be thrown out at the third. An
enormous gathering of the Birmingham Union on New Hall Hill, at which
200,000 people were stated to be present, took place in support of
the Bill. In the petition to the House of Lords, sent by this great
gathering, it was prayed that they would not mutilate the Bill, and
that they “would not drive to despair a high–minded, a generous, and
fearless people.”

The news that the Bill was defeated and that Lord Grey had resigned
stirred up the whole population—timid and fearless, enthusiasts and
apathetics alike—whose anger and determination to see this measure
become law were manifested in no uncertain way. Still treasured in some
households are copies of the placards that were exhibited, which bore
these words:—

  NOTICE.

  No Taxes paid here
  Until
  The Reform Bill is Passed.

In the subsequent agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws Birmingham
also took its part, and in connection with this there was once more
serious rioting.

The political prominence of Birmingham, first earned in the reign of
Charles I., has continued of steady growth, although its “great fame
for hearty, wilful affected disloyalty” asserted by Clarendon happily
no longer abides with it.

Warwickshire, as we have stated, was in ancient times largely an
agricultural county, and, indeed, may still be reckoned so. Its
well–watered meads and pleasant valleys providing pasturage for cattle,
and its rich soil being productive of excellent crops.

The war, however, brought about a great change in the nature of its
industries. The men were in large numbers called off the land to supply
the needs of man power in the army; their places were taken by older
men who were above military age, by boys, women, and girls of all ranks
in society.

[Illustration: WARWICK CASTLE.]

The temporary growth in population of such towns as Coventry and
Birmingham was another noticeable effect of the necessities of war. On
the outskirts of the latter town temporary dwellings were erected in
large numbers to accommodate the munitions workers drawn to Birmingham
from all parts of the country, and in the case of the former town
enormous building operations were undertaken to provide factories and
to house the workers engaged in the same.

Coventry in war time was a very different place to the town of even the
period immediately preceding the outbreak of hostilities; and different
from the city of to–day which has gradually tended to return to the
normal.

The development of the munitions industries in the county formed one
of the most significant features of its life from the spring of 1915
to the autumn of 1918. Not only was the very face of the countryside
greatly altered in many districts, but the very lives of the people
underwent a radical though temporary change.

Unfortunately industrial unrest, which immediately followed the
armistice and extended into several of the succeeding years, prevented
Warwickshire from making full use of the enormously increased
facilities for output of manufactured articles for which the county
has long been famous. Even factories which only needed conversion in
comparatively unimportant details to fit them for the struggle to
capture the world–trade that waited to be won by enterprise and hard
work were left idle or were very imperfectly adapted to the needs of
peaceful production.

But that there is a great future for this county in the very heart of
England when industry has learned its lesson, and enterprise is once
more harnessed to the chariot wheels of commerce no one can doubt.

To–day Warwickshire has largely recovered from the temporary
dislocation of its life by war, and has returned to its more normal
occupations and mode of living.

Its war record, to be read in the gallant deeds of its fighting sons,
and in the amazing work performed by its women, girls, lads, and older
men, gives it a place of honour among the counties of central England,
as its natural loveliness has given it one of compelling charm among
the most beautiful.



CHAPTER III

FAYRE WARWICK TOWN: ITS HISTORY AND ROMANCE


The town of Warwick is undoubtedly of very ancient origin, and from the
earliest period of its existence has been considered the chief town of
the shire. It is situated upon a rocky plateau on the north side of the
river Avon, and blessed with a dry and fertile soil, with luxuriant
meadows on one side and well–wooded and well–cultivated lawns on the
other.

It seems not unlikely indeed that Gutherline or Kimberline, one of
the British kings who lived in the time of Christ, was the founder
of the first settlement at Warwick, and that Guiderius, the former’s
son, enlarged the town and bestowed upon it considerable privileges.
Originally, according to Rous, it was known as Cær–guthleon, contracted
into Cær–leon, derived from Cær, a fortress, and Guthline, the name of
its founder.

It was upon the site of an ancient church of All Saints founded by St.
Dubritius that the first castle was ultimately built; and about this
time that King Vortigern gave his ill–judged invitation to the Saxons,
who, arriving nominally to assist him against the Picts and Scots,
turned their swords against the nation to whose assistance they had
come.

St. Dubritius fled during these disorders to Wales for safety, and
abandoned Warwick, his cathedral, and his see to the mercy of the
invaders.

One ancient historian gives a vivid description of the rapine and
destruction to which the centre of England in general, and Warwick in
particular, was at that time subjected. And in his pages one sees the
surging hosts of Picts and Scots and Britons and Saxons contending for
the mastery of what was, even in those days, one of the most fertile
and desirable districts of all England.

Raided, burned, with many of the inhabitants put to the sword, Warwick
lay in ruins until the coming of King Warremund, the forbear of the
kings of Mercia, who rebuilt the town. Under his rule and that of his
descendants the town is stated to have flourished and grown in size and
importance until the coming of the Danes.

After some years, in which it once more lay in ruins, Warwick rose
phœnix–like from its ashes under the hand of Lady Æthelflæd, daughter
of King Alfred the Great and wife of King Æthelred. This princess in
the year 915 built the first castle and a fortification called the
Dungeon (donjon or keep?), and this building served as a residence of
the earls from that date for a century and a half, until the coming of
William the Conqueror.

In the early years of William the Conqueror, Turchill, a Saxon, was
Earl of Warwick, a man of great power, possessions, and influence; and
he it was who was commanded by William the Conqueror to fortify the
town more strongly by means of walls and ditches, and to add to and
strengthen the existing castle.

A little later King William gave to his Norman favourite Henry de
Newburgh the title of Earl of Warwick and a grant of the castle, town,
and suburbs, to be held in _capite per Servitum Comitatus_. The new
Earl conferred upon one of his priests one–tenth of his tolls, as an
offering for the health of his soul. And Roger de Newburgh, his son,
who succeeded him, £4:10s. rent for a similar purpose to his priest.

In 1261, in the reign of Henry III., John de Plessetis, who had
married Margery, the last heiress of the De Newburghs, and thereby had
succeeded to the earldom, granted to the burgesses a charter to enable
them to hold each year a fair lasting three days, for which privilege
they paid no toll,—a concession of far more value and importance than
appears to the uninitiated.

The male branch of the De Newburghs failing, the family was succeeded
by that of Mauduit, and one of these, William, who was a supporter of
Henry III., was surprised and taken prisoner during the wars of the
barons, and, in consequence of the capture, the walls of Warwick Castle
were destroyed. He was also obliged to pay for the ransom of himself
and his Countess the then large sum of 1900 marks (about £1250). He
died childless, and was succeeded by his sister’s husband, William de
Beauchamp, who in the reign of Edward I. possessed the borough in chief
in 1279, and also held annually a fair, which lasted for sixteen days,
commencing on the eighth day before the Feast of St. Peter ad Vincula,
and a weekly market on Wednesdays.

A strange sidelight on these days is thrown by the record that there
was a pillory and tumbril as well as assize of bread in connection with
this fair. De Beauchamp also instituted a fifteen days’ fair, which
commenced on the eve of the Feast of St. Peter and Paul.

In the year 1290 William de Beauchamp’s successor, Guy, finding it
necessary to undertake considerable works for the walling in of the
town and the paving of its streets, was granted a patent by Edward
I. by which he was entitled to receive a toll during seven years on
all vendible articles. But the works not having been completed within
that period, he and his successor Thomas obtained an extension of the
original or similar patents for ten years longer.

A very interesting circumstance in connection with the Thomas de
Beauchamp we have just referred to, who had in 1351 a charter of free
warren at Warwick, is that he “at the suit of his lady, and for the
health of his own soul and his ancestors’ souls,” freed the traders
resorting hither for the future from terrage, stallage, and all other
sorts of toll. The petition having been made because the said traders
had been, by the heavy exactions of previous holders of the title,
driven away from the market at Warwick, to the great detriment of the
town.

The Municipal history of Warwick is unfortunately very obscure,
although there seems little or no doubt that the town was anciently
incorporated and had the privilege of returning members to Parliament,
but when it was first incorporated, and whether such incorporation
and privilege continued without interruption is not ascertainable. A
record, however, exists that there was a Mayor in 1279, in the reign
of Edward I., and that twenty–one years later the Mayor of the day and
bailiffs were ordered to allow Phillip de Rout and William de Serdely
reasonable expenses for their services as members of Parliament for
that year. Afterwards, however, in the reign of Edward III., the King’s
mandate for the same purpose was, strange to tell, addressed to the
bailiffs only.

The earliest known date of incorporation under royal charter with the
designation of bailiff and burgesses occurs in the reign of Philip and
Mary, but it is certain that letters patent were granted by Henry VIII.
in 1546 to the borough under the Municipal title of “burgesses only.”
This grant of letters patent was confirmed by one from James I. in
1613, and was again followed by another during the reign of William and
Mary, bearing the date of March 5, 1694, which remains the governing
charter of the borough down to the present time.

The history of the town of Warwick has, as we have remarked in a
previous chapter, been largely that of the county itself, and during
the ages when wars and revolts swayed parties in England the town
played its part in the romantic and tragic happenings of those times.

The old stone cross, which stood at the intersection of the two ancient
and principal streets as late as the reign of James I., has long
ago disappeared, but in few towns in England are there more notable
survivals of ancient times to be found than in Warwick. One of the most
interesting buildings is the ancient Chapel of St. James, now known as
the West Gate, and formerly as the Hongyn Gate, standing where the High
Street terminates, on the crest of the hill, supported for its entire
length by a lofty groined archway, itself placed on the bed–rock which
rises several feet above the road surface. This structure anciently
formed a defensive gateway to the old and fortified town.

In the reign of Henry I. this chapel was given by Roger, Earl of
Warwick, to the Church of St. Mary. That it was of very small value
is proved by the fact that in 1368, in the reign of Edward III., the
latter was estimated at only £1.

[Illustration: LEICESTER’S HOSPITAL, WARWICK.]

In 1383, in the reign of Richard II., the advowson was given to the
Guild of St. George, and the fraternity established in Warwick the same
year was founded by a license granted to Robert Dynelay, Hugh Cooke,
and William Russell on the 20th of April, giving them privilege to
extend their numbers by admission of other inhabitants of the borough,
and to build a chantry for two priests to sing mass every day in the
Chapel, which stood over the west gate, for the good estate of King
Richard and his consort Ann; of his mother, also Michael de la Pole,
and all the brothers and sisters of the said Guild during their lives
in this world, and for the everlasting happiness of their souls,
as also for the souls of King Edward III., Edward Prince of Wales,
the father of Richard II., and their royal progenitors, and all the
faithful departed.

Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, eventually had license to give
the advowson of the Church of St. James at the same time that the Guild
brethren purchased two houses, a loft, and the quarry in Warwick for
their use.

At length, however, the Guild of St. George the Martyr and the Guild
of the Holy Trinity and the Virgin, in the early part of Henry VI.’s
reign, became one, and four priests belonging to the Guilds sang
masses; two of them at “Our Lady’s Chapel” in St. Mary’s, and the
others in the two chapels built over the gates. This Guild also paid in
part the secular canons attached to St. Mary’s Church, gave a weekly
dole of alms to eight poor people of the Guild, and also assisted in
maintaining the great bridge over the Avon.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the establishment was granted
by Edward VI., on July 23, 1551, to Sir Nicholas l’Estrange, Kt. and
his heirs. And from him it passed into the possession of Robert Dudley,
Earl of Leicester, who made it in 1571, in the reign of Elizabeth,
a hospital for twelve men, called brethren, and a master, who must
be a clergyman of the Church of England; the preference being given
to the Vicar of St. Mary’s if he offered himself for the post. The
appointment of these brethren is vested in the heirs of the founder,
now represented by Lord D’Lisle and Dudley, of Penhurst Place, in the
county of Kent, who is a descendant of Mary, the sister of Robert
Dudley, who married Sir Henry Sidney, of the same place.

The brethren elected to this foundation must, according to the
statutes, be either tenants or servants of the founder or his heirs,
and resident in the county of Warwick, or soldiers of the Sovereign,
more especially those who had been wounded on active service; the
latter to be chosen from the parishes of Warwick, Kenilworth, and
Stratford–on–Avon, or from those of Wooton–under–Edge and Erlingham, in
the county of Gloucester.

Of recent years radical changes have been made in the charity, one of
these being that provision is now made for the housing and maintenance
in the hospital itself of twelve women, wives of the brethren.
Nowadays, as none of the founder’s heirs have tenants resident in
either of the two counties, the brethren are chosen under the second
provision we have mentioned, and all of them have been soldiers of the
Crown. Here now dwell in comfort and peace the master and the twelve
brethren, the former having a salary of £400 and a residence; and
the latter pensions amounting to £80 each, with separate apartments,
consisting of bedroom, sitting–room, and pantry, with the use of a
common kitchen and the services of a cook and housekeeper.

There are many interesting customs in connection with the hospital;
one of which is that the brethren must daily attend service in the
chapel, and are obliged when they appear in public to wear a blue gown,
on the sleeve of which is worn a silver badge with the crest of the
bear and ragged staff. With one exception these badges are the ancient
ones originally provided; the exception being a modern reproduction in
facsimile of the badge which was stolen many years ago.

The beautiful specimen of a half–timbered building, which stands raised
upon a lime–shaded terrace above the road level, is approached through
an arch gateway, above which is the inscription, “Hospitivm Collegiatvm
Roberti Dvdlei Comitis Leycestriae,” with the date 1571, and the Dudley
device, a double–tailed lion rampant in the left spandril, and the
device of the Sidneys, a barbed dart, in the other.

On the front of the house is a fine old sun–dial, with the initials E.
R., and there are also thirteen shields, with the armorial bearings of
the various families connected with the founder, the most distinguished
having been placed over the archway leading to the inner quadrangle. On
the north side of the latter is the master’s residence, behind which is
a pleasant old–fashioned garden, from the western side of which there
is a fine view of the surrounding country and the distant Cotswold
Hills.

The garden contains a famous mulberry tree, almost old enough to
be historic, and in summer time the spot is gay with the bloom of
old–fashioned flowers. There is a charming vista of foliage and lawn
through a fine Norman circular–headed arch which, found during repairs
to the chapel, was erected in its present position some years ago. On
the eastern side of the garden is an open space, and the brethren’s
apartments are arranged on the south and west sides of the quadrangle.
On the right side of the latter is the famous old kitchen, in which
the brethren pass a great deal of their time on chilly days, smoking
and chatting, often fighting their battles o’er again, surrounded by
many historic relics, including a handsome black oak cabinet once in
Kenilworth Castle; an ancient Saxon chair; and another used by James I.
at the supper he took with Sir Fulke Greville.

One of the most interesting relics is the portion of a curtain from
Cumnor Hall, said to have been worked by ill–fated Amy Robsart. Amongst
the more martial are halberds and pistols of ancient date, the King of
Dahomey’s State execution sword, and some interesting copper tankards
dating some two hundred years back.

The great banqueting hall, in which Sir Fulke Greville in 1617
entertained James I., is on the western side of the quadrangle, but it
has fallen on evil times, and is now divided up into domestic offices.

The chapel in which the brethren worship is reached by a flight of
steps from the outer terrace, which runs in front of the almshouses at
an elevation above the street. The tower of the present interesting
building was in all probability erected by Thomas de Beauchamp about
the end of the fourteenth century, and on the embattled parapet are to
be seen his arms.

In 1863 the stability of the building gave some cause for anxiety,
and flying buttresses were added on the south side for the purpose
of strengthening it. Prior to that date the chapel was unfortunately
disfigured by several eighteenth–century additions, which were removed
and a thorough and well–advised restoration undertaken.

Dividing the chapel into almost equal portions is a finely–carved oak
screen, within which are the stalls of the brethren and officials. Near
the altar is an interesting piece of needlework of floral design, said
to have come from the hands of Amy Robsart.

Beneath the chapel is the gateway, similar to that on the eastern side
of the town, built on the sandstone rock and with strong vaulting,
which formed a part of the twelfth–century fortifications.

A little beyond Northgate Street, on a knoll, stands the Priory,
formerly dedicated to St. Sepulchre, and founded by Henry de Newburgh,
first Earl of Warwick, as a monastery for Canons Regular. At the
time of the Dissolution of Monasteries this ancient foundation was
granted to a trusted retainer of John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland,
Thomas Hawkins, whose father sold fish at the town Market Cross.
Unappreciative of either antiquity or the traditions of the building
into whose possession he had come, Hawkins, as might be anticipated,
pulled down the monastery and on the site of it erected the present
building, which was finished about 1565.

In this fine old Elizabethan mansion, with its many windows and
gables and air of ancient peace, is a lofty hall and a magnificent
old oak staircase and oak–panelled dining–room. The south front is
comparatively modern, as it was rebuilt about the middle of the
eighteenth century; but the north front still preserves many of its
original features.

One of the most interesting incidents connected with the house was the
surprise visit paid by Queen Elizabeth on August 17, 1572, who, coming
over from Kenilworth unexpectedly, found the Earl and Countess of
Warwick at supper, and sat down to the meal with them. The owner of the
house was confined to his bed; but the Queen, who, if tradition may be
believed, was less austere than historians would have us infer, setting
aside ceremony, visited “the good man of the house, who at that time
was grievously vexed with the gout.”

The first owner of the Priory, by means of grants and judicious
purchases, managed to accumulate a large amount of property, which, in
less than four years from the date of his death—occurring in 1576—his
son Edward had squandered, even to the selling of his home to Sergeant
Puckering, then Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, whom he sought to cheat
by means of a fraudulent conveyance. Hawkins was prosecuted in the Star
Chamber, and eventually ended his days in the Fleet Prison.

The Priory remained in the possession of the Puckering family until the
beginning of the eighteenth century, when it became the property of a
Mr. Henry Wise, a superintendent of the Royal Gardens at Hampton Court.
Although this fine survival of domestic architecture of Elizabethan
times was of necessity acquired by the Great Western Railway Company
in the middle of the last century, in connection with the extension
of their line to Birmingham, it fortunately escaped destruction, and
was eventually sold by the Company to Mr. Thomas Lloyd, a banker of
Birmingham.

At the foot of Smith Street, which runs down from the East Gate, stands
the fine old house known as St. John’s Hospital, founded in the reign
of Henry II. by William de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick, as a hospital in
aid of the poor, and for relief and reception of strangers.

The first occupants of this interesting building were Knights
Templars, who were succeeded by the Knights of St. John. After the
Dissolution of Monasteries it fell into the hands of one Anthony
Stoughton, a descendant of whom—Nicholas Stoughton—erected the present
building at the commencement of the seventeenth century. The property
eventually came into the possession of the Warwick family, and still
remains so. The interior of the house is well worth inspection, as it
contains a fine Jacobean oak staircase, and a panelled, tapestry–hung
room.

Of the many churches, stated to have been ten in number, in addition
to the Priory, Nunnery, and other religious houses which existed
in early times, little is known; but two—those of St. Mary and St.
Nicholas—which still survive were, even in the reign of Edward III.,
found to afford sufficient accommodation for the inhabitants of the
town. Indeed, an ancient decree dated 1367 enjoined upon all persons
that they should attend the church of St. Mary. The sites of several
other churches, it is true, are known, but nearly all visible traces
of them have long ago disappeared. Of these aforetime ecclesiastical
buildings the church of St. Michael, in the northern part of the town,
is nowadays a blacksmith’s shop, whilst that of John the Baptist was
formerly near the centre of the market–place, and St. Helen’s was
replaced by the Priory of St. Sepulchre. The church of St. Peter, which
was pulled down in the reign of Henry VI., stood in the middle of
the town, and another dedicated to the same saint was built over the
eastern gate, whilst St. Lawrence’s was situated on the western side.

Of the religious houses few traces remain, all of them having been
dissolved, and many of them entirely pulled down at the date of the
Reformation.

[Illustration: BEAUCHAMP CHAPEL, WARWICK.]

St. Mary’s, the principal and beautiful church, stands upon the site
of a much earlier building, which existed prior to the Conquest, and
was in 1123 made collegiate by the transferring of the Collegiate
Church of All Saints from within the Castle. It is probable that the
present building was either rebuilt or very much enlarged by Roger de
Newburgh in the reign of Henry I. And Thomas de Beauchamp, in the reign
of Edward III., commenced to re–erect the choir; whilst his son, also
Thomas, who succeeded him, completed the rebuilding of the whole church
in 1394. This undertaking had been necessitated by the damage the
building had received from fire during the reign of Stephen. The work
was completed at the end of the fourteenth century; and the chapel of
Our Lady, now generally known as the Beauchamp Chapel, was added during
the middle part of the fifteenth century.

Just three hundred years after Thomas de Beauchamp had finished the
rebuilding of the church it was once more almost entirely destroyed by
a most disastrous fire, which broke out near the west gate of the town
on the 5th of September, 1694, and eventually destroyed the greater
part of Warwick. In terrible alarm many of the inhabitants removed
their furniture and belongings to St. Mary’s for safety, and it is
generally supposed that some articles amongst the number must have
been partially burnt and smouldering, as the church took fire from the
interior, and the tower, nave, and transepts were completely burnt out,
and the shell so damaged as to necessitate the remains being pulled
down.

Almost immediately a subscription was set on foot for relief of the
distressed inhabitants and the rebuilding of the church, with the
exception of the eastern portion, which fortunately had been saved. The
work was entrusted to Sir William Wilson, of Sutton Coalfield; and seen
from a distance the church and tower present an imposing and indeed
pleasing appearance; but architectural students on nearer inspection
find their sense of congruity disturbed by the medley of the Gothic and
Classic styles which are embodied in the design.

The tower is 130 feet to the top of the battlements, and 44 feet
additional height is gained by the crocketted pinnacles, which are
eight in number. In it are hung ten bells, the first nine having been
cast during the years 1700 to 1710, and the tenth bell in 1814. The
chimes every four hours play a tune, which is changed at midnight
of each day. On Sundays, the _Easter Hymn_; on Mondays, _Home,
Sweet Home_; Tuesdays, _Jenny Lind_; Wednesdays, _The Blue Bells of
Scotland_; Thursdays, _There’s nae luck aboot the Hoose_; Fridays,
_Life let us cherish_; Saturdays, _Warwickshire Lads and Lasses_.

The present church, which consists of a chancel, nave with aisles,
transepts, and a western tower, and the chapter–house on the north
and the Beauchamp Chapel to the south of the chancel, presents a
somewhat incongruous appearance owing to a reckless mixture of designs
both inside and out. The interior, which has no special features of
note, contains, however, a large number of eighteenth–century marble
monuments of considerable interest, though unpretentious in character.

At the west end of the church is a bust of Walter Savage Landor the
poet, who was born at Warwick on January 30, 1775, in the old–fashioned
house just below East Gate, and died at Florence on September 17, 1864.

In the north transept, on the east side, near the door, is an
interesting mural brass of the sixteenth century, with effigies of
Thomas Oken and his wife Joan. The inscription, which is a quaint
one, runs thus, “Of your charyte give thanks for the soules of Thomas
Oken and Jone and his wyff, on whose soules Jesus hath mercy, Jesus
hath mercy, Amen. Remember the charyte for the pore for ever. Ao dni:
mccccclxxiii.”

This Thomas Oken, who was born of poor parents in the town, became very
wealthy, and left estates of very considerable value for the endowment
of local and educational charities.

On the north side of the entrance to the Beauchamp Chapel is a marble
slab, on which are the incised brass effigies of the second Earl of
Warwick, Thomas Beauchamp, and his Countess Margaret, who died in 1401
and 1406 respectively. The monument is an interesting one, as the
effigies show the Earl clad in full armour, with his feet resting on
a bear, whilst the Countess wears a low–bodied gown, over which is a
long mantle–like garment fastened at the breast; on her head is a cap
with her hair falling in long ringlets on to her shoulders; at her feet
is a dog, wearing a collar of bells. This brass, which is valuable to
students of costume and archæologists alike, was originally fixed to
the upper portion of a high tomb, which stood at the eastern end of the
aisle, and was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1694.

The chancel or choir is generally supposed to have been erected by
the second Thomas Beauchamp about 1392. The style of the east window,
however, and the panel–work of the exterior of the east wall makes it
probable that these portions were at all events altered from their
original state by Richard Beauchamp, the builder of the adjoining
chapel.

On the north side of the altar is an interesting and originally groined
recess, faced with three arches, which in all probability was used as
“The Holy Sepulchre” during Passion Week in the olden times.

At St. Mary’s, Warwick, prior to the Reformation, the host and crucifix
were borne in procession on Good Friday through the church to the north
side of the chancel, after which they were deposited in the sepulchre,
the door was then shut, and on that and the following night was watched
by persons specially chosen for the purpose: in imitation, of course,
of the soldiers set to guard the body of Christ. Early on Easter
morning the host and crucifix were removed with great ceremonial, the
priest pronouncing the words, “Surrexit, non est hic.”

The reredos is modern, as are also the carved oak stalls. In the
middle of the choir is a high tomb, with the recumbent effigies of the
first Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and founder of the choir,
who died in 1369, with his Countess Catherine, who was a daughter of
Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. The tomb is a very elaborate one, and
around it are thirty–six niches, each one containing a figure supposed
to represent a connection or descendant of the house of Beauchamp; the
panels beneath the niches containing small shields with coats–of–arms,
now, alas! greatly defaced.

Although Queen Elizabeth is said to have buried this nobleman with
great solemnity, apparently her generosity extended no further, for no
monument or inscription marks the spot.

The former chapter–house now serves the purpose of a mausoleum, the
inner side of it being rectangular and the outer semi–hexagonal. Around
the sides are nine stone seats, placed under recessed canopies. In the
centre is a large and heavy–looking tomb of the famous Fulke Greville,
the first Lord Brooke, who died at the age of seventy–four on September
30, 1628. Round the edge of the upper slab is the following somewhat
strange inscription, “Fulke Grevill, servant to Qvenne Elizabeth,
conceller to King Iames, and frend to Sir Phillip Sydney. Trophaevm
peccati (a trophy of sin).”

Fulke Greville’s death was an exceedingly tragic one, and occurred in
the following manner. Having omitted to reward one of his old servants
named Hayward, who had spent a long period in his service, and being
expostulated with for the omission, he was stabbed in the back by
Hayward in his bedroom at Brooke House, London, which stood near the
present Brooke Street, on September 30, 1628. The murderer, apparently
struck with remorse, left his master bleeding to death, and going into
another room locked the door and stabbed himself in the stomach with a
sword.

The crypt of St. Mary’s is interesting from the fact that three of
the four pillars which divided it longitudinally are undoubtedly the
remains of the ancient church of Roger de Newburgh, which was erected
early in the twelfth century; the remaining pillar is in the Decorated
style of the fourteenth century, and is probably part of the work of
Thomas de Beauchamp.

A portion of the old town cucking stool, used in former times for
the ducking in a horse pond of disorderly women and scolds, is now
preserved in the crypt.

The architectural gem of St. Mary’s Church is undoubtedly the Chapel of
Our Lady, generally known as the Beauchamp Chapel, which is one of the
finest buildings of its kind in the kingdom, and was founded under the
will of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, as a mortuary for himself,
and was commenced in 1443, but although completed twenty–one years
later was not consecrated until 1475.

An immense sum, amounting to £2481 : 4 : 7, was spent upon the chapel
and the tomb of Richard Beauchamp. Estimates place the sum spent upon
this beautiful memorial at thirty–five to forty thousand pounds in
the money value of the present day. The building is one of the most
magnificent and pleasing examples of the Decorated Gothic style; the
exterior enrichments, consisting of delicate tracery, panels, and other
decorative adornments, present a most interesting and rich appearance.
Elegant buttresses with pinnacle terminations support the walls, and
on the south are three fine six–light windows of beautiful design.
The eastern gable contains a canopied niche, in which are figures
of the Virgin Mary with the child Christ, and on either side of her
representations of Simeon and Anna the Prophetess.

The chapel is entered by a doorway situated in the south transept of
the church, the hollow moulding of which doorway represents foliage and
the ragged staff, which is the cognisance of the Beauchamps, and above
this is to be seen the Arms of the family on a shield, supported on
either side by the bear and ragged staff.

The interior of the chapel is exceedingly rich; the windows are
imposing ones, filled with good stained–glass, and beneath them are
canopied niches. The ceiling is nearly flat, as is also that of the
chancel of the church; it has groined ribs resembling net–work.

The stalls, situated on each side of the chapel, are of carved oak, the
arms being in the form of bears, griffins, and lions with standards
having carved finials. The altar–piece, which is in low relief,
represents the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, and is by Collins of
Warwick, who executed the work from a design by Lightoler in 1735. It
is perhaps unfortunate that the altar–piece does not harmonise with the
architectural scheme of the chapel, although the work is good; but the
canopy above is of quite indifferent merit.

There are four monumental tombs of great antiquarian and artistic
value: the centre one that of the founder, Richard Beauchamp, and the
one next to it on the western side the tomb of Ambrose Dudley, known as
the good Earl of Warwick. Against the northern wall is a fine monument
to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Elizabeth, and
his Countess. The recumbent figures of the Earl and his wife are
coloured, and placed on a tomb in front; whilst against the southern
wall is the monument of “that noble impe, the young Lord Denbigh, their
infant son and heir.” These monuments, which represent a period of some
hundred and fifty years, are not only interesting from a historical
point of view, but more especially to students as representing the
changes which took place in the fashion of sepulchral monuments during
that period. A record exists that during the Civil War in 1642 the
Parliamentary forces, under the leadership of Colonel Purefoy, “did
break into the chapel and beat down and deface these monuments of
antiquity.” But it seems probable that their depredations were chiefly
confined to the pulling down of the altar, as none of the tombs show
signs of having been seriously damaged.

The great tomb of Richard Beauchamp, which represents such an
excellent example of the art of the period, is constructed of grey
Purbeck marble, with its sides divided in five compartments; each of
the latter holding a large canopied niche, referred to in the contract
as a “principall housing.” There is a similar niche above, and these
divisions are flanked by sunk panel–work, the decorative part of
which is beautifully carved. Underneath each of the principal niches
is a carved quatrefoil within a square, bearing a shield charged
with armorial bearings enamelled on copper. The principal niches,
numbering fourteen, contain a like number of images, called “weepers
and mourners”; these are made of latten, a variety of brass, and
are gilded. Of these figures seven are males and seven females, and
they represent persons of rank who were connected either by blood or
marriage to Earl Richard.

[Illustration: GUY’S CLIFFE MILL.]

The small niches, which number eighteen, contain images or angels cast
in the same metal, which was generally used for sepulchral brasses and
metal ornaments of tombs, and these also are richly gilt. They bear
scrolls in their hands on which are engraved the following words, “Sit
Deo Laus et Gloria, Defunctis Misericordia.” The metal–work of this
magnificent tomb was carried out by one William Austen, citizen and
brass–founder of London, who agreed to “cast and make an image of a
man armed, of fine latten, garnished with certain ornaments, to wit
with sword and dagger, with a garter, with a helme and crest under his
head, and at his feet a bear musled, and a griffon perfectly made of
the finest latten, according to pattern and layde on the tombe.” He
also agreed to supply and erect a “hearse.” This hearse was an open
metal canopy of bars and hoops, shaped very much like the rest used
in hospitals to prevent the weight of the bedclothes troubling the
patient, over which a pall was thrown, and that on the Earl’s tomb is
one of the very few now remaining intact.

This beautiful memorial is fortunately almost as perfect as the day on
which it was erected, more than four hundred years ago. On the moulded
verge of the tomb runs a long English inscription in raised black
letter characters, with the bear and ragged staff intermixed, setting
forth how the deceased had been buried, when and where he had died, and
his titles and accomplishments, and relating how his “bodye with great
deliberacon and ful worshipful conduit bi see and by lond was broght to
Warrewik the iiii day of October the yer aboueseid, and was leide with
ful solenne exequies in a feir cheste made of stone in this Chirche
afore the west dore of this Chapel according to his last will and
Testament, therin to reste til this Chapel by him devised i’ his lief
were made.”

It is in St. Mary’s Church that the Warwick doles of bread are
distributed on Sunday mornings, irrespective of creed, by the parish
sexton. The doles, which were instituted by Joseph Blissett in 1713,
and a Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Smith about the same date, consist of
thirty–two loaves, eight threepenny and twenty–four twopenny,—the
former for the married, the latter for bachelors, spinsters, widows,
and widowers. The providing source is derived from rent charges on
houses in High Street and Church Street.

The only other church of interest in Warwick is that of St. Nicholas,
situated almost opposite to the entrance of the castle. The date of its
foundation is not known with accuracy, but it would appear to have been
prior to the Norman Conquest. The present building, which consists of a
tower, spire, nave with aisles, and chancel, was erected in 1780 upon
the site of an ancient church. According to one authority the chancel
was in ancient times the choir to the House of Nuns, destroyed by
Canute the Dane about 1016, but afterwards restored.

Very little can be said for the present erection, which is a very poor
specimen of architecture, and is only of interest in that it contains
some interesting seventeenth–century monuments of the Stoughton family,
and an excellent specimen of a brass with effigy of Robert Willardsey,
first vicar, who died in 1424.

Once a walled town of great strength, of these ramparts scarcely any
traces now remain with the exception of those immediately adjoining
the east and west gateways. Warwick of to–day, with its country town
life and its race–course, seems to have little in common, other than
the survival of interesting buildings and its magnificent castle, with
those ancient times in which the cry of “A Warwick! a Warwick!” often
raised in battle and feud, struck terror into the hearts of those who
heard it.

A little more than a mile to the north of Warwick, on the Coventry
Road, stands the famous Guy’s Cliff, now the seat of the Percy family,
beautifully situated amongst a wealth of trees overlooking a fine
stretch of the Avon. Anciently, and up to the reign of Henry IV., the
place was known as Gibbeclyve, and the name it bears at the present day
would appear to have been given it in memory of the redoubtable Guy of
Warwick, whose somewhat mythical exploits caused him to take a high
place as a popular hero during the Middle Ages.

Unfortunately for those to whom these legendary tales appeal strongly,
there are no mention of Guy’s exploits in any authentic Chronicle or
records of ancient times.

Tradition, however, states that in the last years of the fifth or
the first years of the sixth century St. Dubritius, who subsequently
became Bishop of Landaff and afterwards Archbishop of Wales, founded an
oratory here, in which long afterwards a devout hermit dwelt. The spot
remained thus, only distinguished by a hermit’s dwelling, until the
reign of Henry V., who whilst on a visit to Warwick Castle came to see
Guy’s Cliff, and decided there to found a chantry for two priests.

An interesting fact in connection with this chantry is that John Rous,
the Warwickshire antiquarian and historian, was once a priest here. At
the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Religious Orders the property
was granted to one Sir Andrew Flammock, knight, whose daughter and
heiress married John Colburne in 1579, who obtained a grant of the
chapel from Queen Elizabeth. The property has since then passed through
many hands, and from a family named Greatheed passed into that of Lord
Percy in the spring of 1891, through the marriage of a descendant of
the Greatheeds with the honourable Charles Bertie Percy.

The house is one of the most picturesquely situated in Warwickshire,
and is built on a sandstone cliff overhanging the river, which widens
into a large pool or lake in front. The mansion itself has very
ordinary architectural features, but it contains many interesting
pictures and curios.

One picture possesses a romantic interest from the fact that it was
painted by Mr. Bertie Greatheed, and is of such a horrifying character
that it is hidden from ordinary view by doors specially constructed in
front of it. This painting, which is known as “The Cave of Despair,”
represents the scene described by Spenser in his _Færie Qeene_, Book I.
Canto ix. The weird ghastly figure of Despair nearly nude, with clasped
hands, unkempt hair, and deeply sunk eyes, sits in the centre of the
cave, staring out abstractedly at the spectator. A stabbed corpse, with
up–turned eyes and an agonised expression of face, lies on the left;
whilst on the right is a Red Cross knight, typical of resolution under
awe–inspiring circumstances. Behind him is the terror–stricken face of
another spectator. This picture, apart from its gruesome realism and
subject, is of considerable artistic merit, and is certainly one to
“haunt” those who have been fortunate or unfortunate enough to see it.

There are a number of other pictures by the same artist. One of the
most interesting of these pictures is a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte,
which tradition says was painted from a sketch made on the artist’s
thumb nail during a personal audience.

It was here at Guy’s Cliff, when a young girl of seventeen, in the
autumn of 1772 and early part of 1773, that Sarah Kemble, afterwards to
become famous as Mrs. Siddons, stayed as a companion.



CHAPTER IV

THE STORY OF WARWICK CASTLE


The history of Warwick Castle and the town are in a measure one, and
may be considered to have commenced in 914, when tradition avers that
Æthelflæd, daughter of Alfred the Great and lady of Mercia, built a
castle here, of which, although almost every other trace has long since
disappeared, the mound may still be seen upon which the original works
were placed.

This same Æthelflæd was one of the most prolific originators of
fortifications in the Midlands, and was responsible for those at
Tamworth and at Stafford amongst others. Some authorities are inclined
to think that Æthelflæd’s efforts as regards Warwick Castle were
merely of the nature of adding to and strengthening already existing
fortifications, which had their origin in the earthworks of the time
of St. Dubritius. But whatever may be the exact truth there remains
no possible doubt that the Mercian princess was largely responsible
for the construction of the great mound which, still bearing her name,
stands at the northern end of the castle.

Early in its history the castle was the scene of many stirring episodes
connected with the struggles of the Conqueror’s immediate successors,
and the long wars which were waged between the King and the Barons. In
the reign of King Stephen, Gundreth, widow of Roger de Newburgh, whose
family held the tide of Earl of Warwick, drove the King’s soldiers
from the castle and surrendered the latter to Henry, Duke of Normandy,
who afterwards became Henry II. A little later, during the Wars of the
Barons, Sir John Gifford, governor of Kenilworth, surprised the castle
of Warwick and carried off William de Mauduit, then Earl of Warwick,
and his lady,—the title having at this period passed to the De Mauduits
through the family of De Plessitis. The then Earl of Warwick had taken
the part of the King against the Barons, and in consequence when the
castle was captured the walls were destroyed, although the towers were
left standing.

The restoration of the castle must have proceeded rapidly, for we
find two years later Henry III. made it his headquarters whilst he was
gathering his forces together with which to besiege Kenilworth, at that
time held for the Barons. In the following reign the fortifications
of the castle were repaired and strengthened by the famous Guy de
Beauchamp, “the black dog of Arden,” and in the reign of Edward II.,
in 1312, Piers Gaveston, the Gascon pretender, was brought a prisoner
to Warwick, and tried by torchlight in the great hall of the castle,
and notwithstanding frenzied entreaties was condemned to death in the
presence of the “black dog of Arden” and the Earls of Gloucester,
Lancaster, Hereford, and Arundel. Short shrift was the custom in those
days, and on the following morning Gaveston was taken to Blacklow Hill,
just outside the town, and there executed. An old account of the event
states that his head rolled off down the hill into a thicket, where it
was picked up by a missionary friar, who, tradition asserts, carried
the horrid burden away in his hood. The body of Gaveston was first
buried by the friars in their church at Oxford, and it was afterwards
exhumed and buried by the King in the then new church at Langley with
some pomp.

By a strange change of fortune the fortress that had for a short time
confined Edward’s favourite, Piers Gaveston, two years later, on
the death of Guy de Beauchamp, was handed over into the custody of
the King’s new favourite, Hugh le Despenser, who afterwards in 1326
entertained Edward II. at Warwick.

It was not until the following reign that the outer walls, with
some of the towers, including the magnificent piece of military
architectural construction known as Cæsar’s Tower, were erected by
Thomas de Beauchamp, whose son, also Thomas, built the tower, which was
called Guy’s Tower after the traditional warrior of Warwick.

[Illustration: PEEPING TOM, COVENTRY.]

The castle has seen the coming and going of many royal guests, and in
1417 its then owner, Richard de Beauchamp, the founder of the beautiful
Beauchamp Chapel in St. Mary’s Church, welcomed Henry V. with a state
which was magnificent even for the Middle Ages. On the death of Richard
de Beauchamp the title and estates passed into the possession of
Richard Neville, who, by his marriage with Ann, daughter of Robert de
Beauchamp, was by descent also Earl of Salisbury. This man was destined
to go down in history under the title of the King Maker. He it was who
captured Edward IV. at Wolvey, some ten miles to the north–east of
Coventry, and brought him in 1469 as a prisoner to Warwick; afterwards
removing him to Middleham in Yorkshire, another of his possessions.

Richard III. stayed at Warwick in 1583, soon after his murder of Edward
V. in the Tower of London. The castle afterwards came into possession
of the Crown, and it was not until the reign of Edward VI. that it was
granted to the Dudley family.

Queen Elizabeth was entertained on two occasions at the castle, in 1572
and in 1575, by Ambrose, known as the “Good” Earl of Dudley, whose
tomb is in the Beauchamp Chapel of St. Mary’s Church. There is also a
tradition that Amy Robsart was once for a time a guest at Warwick.

The castle on the death of Ambrose Dudley once more came into
possession of the Crown, and remained so until 1605, when King James I.
granted it to Sir Fulke Greville, who found the building fallen into a
considerable state of ruin.

In 1621 Greville was created Baron Brooke, and a hundred and
twenty–five years later Francis, the eighth baron, was made an earl. It
is said that Sir Fulke Greville spent the then enormous sum of £30,000
in repairing and fitting up the castle, and he must also have incurred
enormous expenses by his entertainment of James I. on four different
occasions, namely, in the years 1617, 1619, 1621, and 1624.

On the first occasion on which the King visited Warwick he partook
of a banquet in the Hall of Leicester’s Hospital, which event is
commemorated by the following inscription, placed in that building:—

 “MEMORANDUM THAT KING JAMES I. WAS RIGHT NOBLY ENTERTAINED AT A SUPPER
 IN THIS HALL BY THE HONOURABLE SIR FULK GREVILLE, CHANCELLOR OF THE
 EXCHEQUER, AND ONE OF HIS MAJESTY’S MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNCIL, UPON
 THE FOURTH DAY OF SEPTEMBER ANNO DOM. 1617. GOD SAVE THE KING.”

During the Civil Wars Robert Greville (Lord Brooke), Sir Fulke’s
successor, espoused the Parliamentary cause, and the castle and
inhabitants of Warwick heard, in consequence, more than an echo of
those stirring times. In 1642 the place was besieged by the Royalists’
troops under the Earl of Northampton, in the absence of Lord Brooke.
It was, however, vigorously defended by Sir Edward Peyto, who was
left in charge. In the end, notwithstanding the fierce attack of the
Royalists, after the siege had been sustained for a period of fourteen
days, it was raised by Lord Brooke, who had defeated some of the
Earl of Northampton’s troops at Southam, in the southern portion of
Warwickshire.

Since those days the castle has remained the peaceful residence of
the Greville family, who, in 1759, became Earls of Warwick on the
extinction of the Rich family—who, till that date, possessed the title,
although they were in no way connected with the old possessors of it,
nor at any time owners of its estates.

The castle, which is situated at the south–east end of the town, quite
close to the splendid bridge spanning the Avon, which many years ago
replaced the old one, the ruins of which are about a quarter of a mile
nearer the castle, stands on a fine rocky promontory of hard sandstone,
of which material the castle itself is built. It has stood throughout
the ages preserved in a truly wonderful manner.

Within the confines of the castle ramparts are pleasure–grounds of
great beauty, and although nowadays the houses of the town approach the
walls more nearly than in ancient times, they can detract little or
nothing from the grandly beautiful building itself.

The main entrance is by the gate–house, which stands nearly opposite
to the church of St. Nicholas. It was constructed in the first year
of the nineteenth century on the site of an Elizabethan house, which
belonged to an old Warwick family. In former times there were two other
approaches to the castle—one situated on the north side at the end
of Castle Street, and the other at the bottom of Mill Street, traces
of which are still discernible. This drive leads to the outer court,
which is known as the Vineyard, a title preserved since the fifteenth
century, when vines really grew there in such numbers as to justify
the employment of women for the purpose of gathering in the harvest of
grapes.

The gateway, which was constructed in the fourteenth century, was
approached in ancient times by a drawbridge spanning the moat. It is on
the inner side of this that the barbican stands, rising to the height
of two stories above the archway and projecting from the wall. On
either side are two octagonal turrets, freely loopholed for the purpose
of defending the bridge and its approaches from attack. Within the
drawbridge itself hangs the portcullis, and behind this in the ceiling
are four holes through which blazing pitch, hot lead, or other equally
unpleasant and destructive materials could be poured on the heads of
assailants. In the rear of the portcullis itself stood the ancient and
iron–strengthened doors. Even though the attacking party should have
found its way through both portcullis and doors into the small court
beyond, they would be still subject to a most murderous attack, and be
almost entirely at the mercy of the defenders above; and even though
surviving this they would still have to pass the gate–house, with a
groined archway defended by a portcullis, loopholes, and doors like the
barbican itself.

The gate–house is flanked by towers, from the summits of which the
defenders could pour down a shower of missiles upon the attacking party
still within the court. In the lower chamber of the south–east turret
still exists the windlass which in ancient times worked the portcullis
of the outer gate.

At the point where the road enters the inner court a fine view of
the castle is obtained, with Æthelflæd’s mound or the keep, crowned
with trees and shrubs, and crossed by the fortifications in which the
northern tower stands, the dominating feature.

On the side of the fortifications, opposite the castle, stand the two
impressive though never completed towers known as the Clarence and
Bear Towers, connected by walls of great thickness and solidity. The
first–named was probably commenced by George, Duke of Clarence, brother
of Richard III., who, created Earl of Warwick by Edward IV., projected
vast additions to the castle, which he did not live to carry out;
and the second tower by Richard himself. Opposite these two towers,
extending along the whole river front from Cæsar’s Tower to the Hill
Tower, which stands at the base of Æthelflæd’s mound, is the family
mansion, which, although altered and enlarged at various times since
feudal days, is still a wonderful erection, almost entirely in keeping
with the general aspect of the castle.

In 1770 the entrance porch and the adjoining dining–room, with the
rooms over it in front of the great hall, were built by the then Earl
of Warwick. The apartments, including the state bedroom and the boudoir
and those adjoining the eastern end of the great hall, were in all
probability the work of Sir Fulke Greville about 1605, who at the same
time considerably altered several other parts of the castle.

The ancient fireplace and the dais were situated at the west end of
the hall, and some traces of the former were discovered at the time of
the fire, the chimney still being visible in the south–west angle. Two
doorways, now blocked up, originally led to the kitchen and pantry.

The remaining most noticeable features of this, in many respects,
unique hall are its large modern recessed windows and the fine oak
panelling of the walls, which reaches to a height of about nine feet.
The floor is of white and red marble, brought from the neighbourhood of
Verona, and the remarkable carved stone mantelpiece was brought from
Rome to replace the one destroyed in the fire.

One of the most interesting relics of bygone days amongst the many
which are preserved in the castle is the garrison cooking–pot, a
remarkably fine cauldron made of bell–metal, and capable of containing
over a hundred gallons. This vessel is popularly known as “Guy’s
porridge pot,” and was probably made for the retainers of Sir John
Talbot of Swanington, who died about 1365, for there is an old couplet
quoted by Nichols in his _History of Leicestershire_ running as
follows:—

  There is nothing left of Talbot’s name,
  But Talbot’s pot and Talbot’s Lane.

It is difficult to say how or when the pot was first brought to
Warwick Castle, but it seems probable that it came into the family
through the marriage of Margaret, daughter of Richard de Beauchamp,
with John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, from whom the Dudleys, Viscounts
Lisle—afterwards created Earls of Warwick—were descended.

Amongst the many interesting relics which are to be found in this
magnificent feudal hall—interesting alike to the archæologist and to
the casual observer, because of their romantic associations—are a
helmet of Oliver Cromwell; breastplate and morion of the Lord Brooke,
who was killed in 1643 at the siege of Lichfield; a fine example of a
“double–plated” tilting suit; a suit of armour said to have belonged
to Charles Graham, Marquis of Montrose; the mace of the King Maker,
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick; and a tiny suit of armour which
belonged to Robert, son of the Earl of Leicester, who is traditionally,
but probably incorrectly, said to have been poisoned by his nurse
between the age of three and four years; a very interesting square and
painted shield of the reign of Edward IV.; and a large number of other
arms.

A fine vista through the whole of the State apartments is obtainable
from the hall, the length of which suite is upwards of 320 feet. From
the great hall the Red Drawing–Room—so called because of the colour
of its wainscotted panelling—is reached; it is a handsome chamber,
measuring some 30 feet by 19–1/2 feet, with a ceiling of white and gold.

Warwick Castle, as all the world knows, contains an almost unrivalled
collection of pictures, the richest treasures of which are by Rubens,
Van Dyck, Raphael, and Rembrandt.

In the Cedar Drawing–Room, which possesses deep–set windows, and takes
its name from the wood with which it is panelled, is some of the finest
carving in the castle, and also some of the best works of Van Dyck.
Indeed it would be difficult to find gathered together in one room more
excellent examples of this master’s work.

Amongst the most noticeable of the pictures are portraits of James
Graham, Marquis of Montrose; and the composite full length picture
of Queen Henrietta Maria, the bust of which was painted by Van Dyck,
and the remainder by Sir Joshua Reynolds. There is also a half–length
picture of Charles I. by Van Dyck; two pictures of frail beauties
of the Court of Charles II. by Lely; and a good portrait of Sarah,
Countess of Warwick, who died in 1851, by Bonelli.

Among the many other exquisite _objects d’art_ which here have an
adequate setting is a beautiful table of Florentine mosaic from Grimani
Palace, Venice, ornamented in precious stones, such as lapis–lazuli,
cornelians, chalcedony, jaspar, and variegated agates, with the arms
and honours of the family. Two beautiful early Italian marriage
chests also find a place in this apartment, the treasures of which
connoisseurs recognise as almost priceless.

[Illustration: PALACE YARD, COVENTRY.]

Although the Gilt or Green Drawing–Room is of less magnificent
proportions, it is notable for its fine plaster ceiling and the
graceful and appropriate ornamentation of the walls; the wainscotting
of which in one place masks a secret passage and staircase, used in
former days as a means of escape and also for communication with the
floor below. In this chamber are some of the greatest art treasures
of the castle, including three oval portraits of the sons of Robert,
Lord Brooke, who was killed during the Civil War; a fine half–length
Van Dyck of the Earl of Strafford in armour; a Charles II.; a cavalier
in armour, with red scarf and baton, by Van Dyck; a charming “Portrait
of a Lady,” by Lely; and a notable Rubens, a portrait of Ignatius
Loyola, founder of the Order of Jesuits, clad in a scarlet chasuble.
This latter picture was originally painted for the Jesuit College
at Antwerp, and found its way to England at the time of the French
Revolution, when it was purchased by the second Earl of Warwick. There
is also an excellent Cornelis Janssens, Robert Bertie, Earl of Lindsey,
who commanded the Royal forces at the battle of Edgehill, where he was
mortally wounded and taken prisoner by the Parliamentarians. And a
couple of good examples of the work of Dahl; William, Lord Brooke and
Mary, Lady Brooke.

Out of this interesting chamber opens the State Bedroom, from the
casements of which are some of the most exquisite views seen from the
castle. Below these windows the ancient cedars spread out feathery
branches, and the river flows tranquilly by, till it ripples over the
Weir, bordered in many places by magnificent elms centuries old. The
“State bed,” which is of salmon–coloured damask, with coverings of
satin richly embroidered with crimson velvet, was formerly the property
of Queen Anne, as was also much of the furniture. It was given to the
second Earl of Warwick by King George III. In the room is a magnificent
piece of tapestry, depicting the garden of a medieval palace, thought
to be Versailles, which was made in Brussels in the early years of
the seventeenth century; whilst another interesting relic is the
leather–covered travelling trunk of Queen Anne, on which are her
initials “A. R.” under a crown.

The Boudoir itself, a comparatively small and rather narrow room, is,
however, made charming by reason of the magnificent views of the river
and park which are obtained from its windows. In it are hung some fine
examples of the work of Rubens, Holbein the younger, and Lely, as well
as a good Teniers.

The Armoury passage, a narrow corridor running at the back of the gilt
drawing–room, State bedroom, and boudoir, and connecting the latter
and the compass room, contains one of the finest private collections
of medieval armour and weapons in England, as well as quite a number
of portraits by Van Dyck, Sir G. Hayter, and others of inferior merit.
Amongst the former is a portrait of Christ, said to be one of several
painted from a likeness engraved on an emerald presented to Pope
Innocent VIII. by the Grand Turk. Amongst the examples of armour are
battle–axes, crossbows, calivers, pikes, arquebuses, daggers, swords,
etc. of almost every period of the Middle Ages; and a fine and almost
unique suit of chain–mail, of which each link has its separate rivet.

The Compass Room is a small polygonal antechamber communicating with
the gilt room. The principal window contains painted Flemish glass
of considerable merit. In this room are some magnificent pictures,
including Murillo’s famous “Laughing Boy,” and a saint by the same
artist; a fine head of an old man by Rubens; a Bacchanalian Group, by
the same; a good portrait of Maximilian, the first Emperor of Germany,
and his sister, by Lucas Cranach; and the two scriptural pictures, St.
Paul Lighting a Fire (Isle of Melita), and St. Paul Shaking off the
Viper, both by Rubens.

The chapel has a beautiful window of old painted glass, given by the
Earl of Essex in the middle of the eighteenth century; and in the
west window is a headless statuette of a Palmer, thought to be a
representation of Guy, Earl of Warwick, in pilgrim’s garb.

In the Great Dining–Room, built by Francis, first Earl of Warwick,
about the year 1770, are hung some fine pictures, including the famous
equestrian portrait of Charles I. by Van Dyck.

The library, which was unhappily destroyed by the fire of 1871, was
restored from designs of Mr. G. Fox. The ceiling is panelled and
gilded, and there is some beautiful Italian work in the sides of the
doors, and a Venetian hooded–marble chimney–piece is of most graceful
design.

The Shakespeare room, originally a laundry, which adjoins Cæsar’s
Tower, contains, as its name implies, the unique collection of
Shakespearian memorials. There are good portraits of Queen Elizabeth;
Robert Earl of Leicester; John Locke the historian; Oliver Cromwell;
Sir Philip Sidney; and a Shakespeare supposed to be by Cornelis
Janssens. The room also contains a magnificent piece of furniture,
known as the Kenilworth Buffet, which was constructed out of an oak
tree formerly growing in the grounds of Kenilworth Castle. The central
panel depicts “Queen Elizabeth’s entry into Kenilworth Castle;” and the
other panels scenes from Sir Walter Scott’s novel _Kenilworth_, with
figures of Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir
Francis Drake. The Buffet was presented to the Earl and Countess of
Warwick on their marriage.

Amongst the treasures relating to Shakespeare are the only known MSS.
of his plays written before the close of the seventeenth century. The
first of these, which is supposed to have been written about the year
1610, is “The History of King Henry IV.,” the two parts in one, and
consists of fifty–six leaves. It is generally believed to be in the
handwriting of Sir Edward Dearing, of Surrenden, Kent, and to have been
transcribed by him from some other MS. since lost, as no printed copy
is extant containing the various corrections and alterations shown in
this MS.

There is also a volume of MS. poetical pieces, including a copy of
“Julius Cæsar,” transcribed in the reign of Charles II. This play, it
is clear from the enormous variations from all printed editions, must
have been transcribed from some independent version, and it seems more
than probable from an ancient playhouse copy.

In addition to these notable MSS. there are a fine copy of the folio
edition of 1623; a “Hamlet,” 1607, 1637, 1676; the second part of “King
Henry VI.,” 1619; “King Lear,” of 1608; “The Merchant of Venice,” of
1600; as well as a “Romeo and Juliet,” 1599; and a very interesting
collection of wardrobe and property bills of the Theatre Royal, Drury
Lane, dating from 1713 to 1716.

Of great interest outside the more domestic portion of the castle is
Cæsar’s Tower, in the dungeons of which so many persons during past
ages must have been confined, some of them doubtless never to be
released save to go to execution. The dungeon—on the walls of which are
rudely scratched inscriptions, drawings of bows and arrows, crucifixes,
and coats–of–arms—is a strong, stone–vaulted chamber 17 feet by 13 feet
and 14 feet 6 inches high. The roof is groined in two bays, and on the
south side is a plain semicircular opening, admitting a beam of light
from a deeply splayed window about 6 inches wide. On the same side of
the dungeon is a passage cut off from the prison by an iron grating, so
as to prevent access.

From the top of Guy’s Tower, which is reached by a staircase of one
hundred and thirty–three steps, there is a fine general view of the
castle itself, as well as the wide prospect of the surrounding country
A noticeable feature of the tower is the immense strength of the vault
beneath it, which would apparently point to the fact that in olden days
some heavy engine for the purpose of slinging stones must have been
placed upon the roof. In the tower there are five floors, each having
a groined roof, and subdivided into one large and two small rooms, the
sides of which in most cases are pierced with numerous loopholes for
bowmen commanding in all directions the curtains which the tower was
built to protect.

Any mention of Warwick Castle without a reference to the celebrated
Warwick Vase, one of the most remarkable remains of the art of ancient
Greece, would be incomplete. This fine vase, which was purchased by
the second Earl of Warwick from his uncle Sir William Hamilton, is not
in the castle itself, but in the conservatory standing in the grounds
beyond the stone bridge spanning the moat, which was built to replace
the ancient drawbridge. The inscription on the pedestal runs, “This
monument of ancient art and Roman splendour was dug out of the ruins of
the Tiburtine Villa, the favourite retreat of Hadrian Augustus, that
it was restored by the order of Sir William Hamilton, Ambassador from
George III., King of Great Britain, to Ferdinand IV., King of Sicily,
who sent it home, and was by him dedicated to the ancestral or national
genius of liberal arts in 1774.”

The romantic story of the vase runs as follows. During some
excavations which were being carried out in the bed of a small lake
called Pantinello near Tivoli, about sixteen miles from Rome, in 1770,
the workmen unearthed the vase. How it came to be at the bottom of
this lake has never been discovered and, indeed, can even scarcely be
conjectured. But in view of the fact that Hadrian’s Villa was, in the
year A.D. 546, occupied by Totila, King of the Goths, who was laying
siege to Rome at that time, it may be that the vase was cast into the
lake by Adrian’s orders to save it from the invaders.

The villa itself was finished about A.D. 138, but the vase is
undoubtedly of considerably earlier date, and by some authorities is
considered to have been the work of a Greek artist, Lysippus of Sicyon,
who lived at the close of the fourth century, when a more elegant style
was just replacing the more severe types of art of Phydias and his
school. The vase is circular in form, 5 feet 6 inches high and 5 feet
8 inches in diameter, and is constructed of white marble. The base or
pedestal on which it stands is modern. The handles of the vase are
formed of vine stems, smaller branches of which run round the upper
lip, and from which depend bunches of grapes so as to form a frieze.
Covering the lower rim are two tiger and panther skins, of which
the heads and four paws adorn the sides of the vase, the hind legs
interlacing and hanging down between the handles. The heads of Sileni
or male attendants of Bacchus are arranged along the tiger skins, with
one exception of a female head, probably that of a Bacchante or faun.

With regard to this head, however, some authorities have held that it
is a modern restoration, and represents Sir William Hamilton’s wife
Emma—of Nelson fame. Between the heads are thyrsi or Bacchic rods
entwined with ivy and vine shoots, and litui or augural wands used in
taking omens. The capacity of the vase is more than one hundred and
sixty gallons, and the use to which it was put or for which it was
intended has been the subject of much speculation.

With the many tragedies and pageants which have in the dark ages of
the pre–Medieval period down to the golden age of Elizabeth taken place
within the enduring walls of this ancient stronghold, it is impossible
to deal here. But in this ancient feudal castle the student, artist,
and lover of the past will recognise one of the finest monuments
in England of ancient splendour which yet remains happily largely
uninjured by time. In it we have also an almost unique memorial of
that transition period when the more severe and forbidding features
of fortress–dwellings were being slowly replaced by others of a more
domestic if not the less imposing character.

[Illustration: UFTON.]



CHAPTER V

COVENTRY: ITS HISTORY, ROMANCE, CHURCHES, AND ANCIENT BUILDINGS


The ancient city of Coventry—situated amidst sylvan scenery of
great beauty, should if possible be approached by the wayfarer
from Kenilworth along the unrivalled avenue which is also the high
road—is of great antiquity and of very considerable interest to the
archæologist. Seen from a distance, on account of its many church
spires, it presents a wonderfully picturesque appearance; and with its
old–world survivals in the shape of timbered houses and the exquisite
architecture of its churches, is one of the most interesting towns of
the Midlands.

One derivation of the name is generally supposed to indicate that it
was originally Couentre; the first syllable representing a convent,
with the addition of the British affix “tre,” meaning a town. Other
authorities appear, however, to think that the name was derived from
Cune, the Celtic name of the River Sherbourne, on which the town
stands, and the affix “tre,” as already explained. At any rate the town
is of great antiquity, and is generally supposed to have been founded
by the Britons, although it is agreed that its history cannot be traced
with any great degree of accuracy prior to about 1016, when, according
to Rous the historian, Canute, King of Denmark, during his invasion of
Mercia amongst other ravages destroyed a nunnery, which at that period
had been founded at Coventry. The same authority further states that no
attempt was made to restore or rebuild this establishment until about
the middle of the same century, when Leofric, then Earl of Mercia, and
his Countess, the famous Godiva, founded a Benedictine monastery on
a site half a mile to the south of the original Saxon Nunnery of St.
Osburg.

It appears that Leofric not only bestowed upon the monastery half
of the entire town, but also gave to it in the reign of Edward the
Confessor no less than twenty–four other towns in the county of Warwick
and elsewhere. Leofric’s lady, Godiva, also enriched this foundation
with much treasure, searching throughout the country for “skilful
goldsmiths, who, with all the gold and silver she had, made crosses,
images of saints, and other curious ornaments, which she devoutly
disposed thereto.”

Leofric died in 1057, and was buried in one of the porches of the
church of the monastery which he had founded, which ultimately became
the Cathedral of the diocese, a proud position it held until the
bishopric was removed to Lichfield. His Countess survived him many
years, but the date of her death is not recorded, although it is known
that she was buried in the same church.

It was Leofric’s Countess Godiva or Godeva around whom the well–known
legend centres. Although there seems little doubt that it had less
foundation in fact than the romantic desire, it was certainly an
accepted legend and believed by many as embodying an historical fact in
the early part of the reign of Edward the Confessor.

The first description of this somewhat apocryphal ride is to be found
in the writings of Roger of Wendover, a chronicler of the beginning
of the twelfth century; that is to say of a date about one hundred
years after the time when the event is said to have taken place. The
account given by this writer, whose work generally we are bound to
state is open to considerable question on the score of accuracy, runs
as follows:—

 The Countess Godiva, who was a great lover of God’s mother, longing to
 free the town of Coventry from the oppression of a heavy toll, and even
 with urgent prayers besought her husband, with every regard to Jesus
 Christ and His mother, he would free the town from that service, and
 from all other heavy burdens; and when the Earl sharply rebuked her for
 foolishly asking what was so much to his damage he always forbade her
 for evermore to speak to him on the subject; and while she, on the other
 hand, with a woman’s pertinacity, never ceased to exasperate her husband
 with that matter, he at last made her this answer—

 “Mount your horse and ride naked before all the people, through the
 market of the town from one end to the other, and on your return you
 shall have your request.”

 To which Godiva replied:—

 “But will you give me permission if I am willing to do it?”

 “I will,” said he.

 Whereupon the Countess, beloved of God, loosed her hair and let down
 her tresses, which covered the whole of her body like a veil, and
 then mounting her horse and attended by two knights she rode through
 the market–place without being seen, except her fair legs; and having
 completed the journey, she returned with gladness to her astonished
 husband, and obtained of him what she had asked, for Earl Leofric freed
 the town of Coventry and its inhabitants from the aforesaid service, and
 confirmed what he had done by a charter.

Into this ancient version of the “Godiva legend” more modern
elaborations have been imported. These, stating nothing of Godiva’s
garment formed by her own tresses, record that the people being
forewarned of the Countess’s intentions all remained indoors behind
closed shutters, out of respect for her and her desire to serve them;
and in consequence she rode unobserved except by one inquisitive
tailor, whose Christian name was Tom. It is he who has been handed down
to posterity and obloquy under the nick–name of “Peeping Tom,” whose
eyes as a punishment for his curiosity and indiscretion are said to
have either dropped out of his head or were smitten with blindness!

Unhappily this romantic story, which casts a sidelight upon the
manners and morals of those early times, and also upon the attitude
of husbands towards their wives, is open to grave criticism regarding
its authenticity. Indeed, most authorities are inclined to believe
that at all events the part relating to “Peeping Tom” is of no greater
antiquity than the reign of Charles II., and that the remainder of the
story does not date earlier than King John, at least one hundred and
fifty years later than the date of Godiva’s traditional ride.

That this story of Godiva’s self–sacrifice in the interests of the
oppressed inhabitants of Coventry has very little foundation on actual
fact is proved by several circumstances; the chief of which are, that
other more trustworthy chroniclers, who, writing at the actual period
when the event is supposed to have taken place, whilst recording
fully the many good actions which the Earl and Countess undoubtedly
did perform, make no mention of Godiva’s ride. Another fact is that
the population of Coventry was so small at that period that there
was scarcely likely to have been in existence a market of the size
suggested by Roger of Wendover, and, indeed, hardly a town at all
through which Godiva could have ridden. Yet another circumstance is
that with so small a place a mere toll would have been a matter of
such small consequence, when the majority of the people were serfs,
that Leofric would certainly have remitted it without exacting such
a condition from his wife. There are, indeed, several versions in
different countries of legends closely allied in general detail to that
of Godiva, and it is more than probable that this particular one is
of great antiquity, which became tacked on to the life of this famous
woman without any real foundation in fact.

The mention of Coventry in the Domesday Book, which was written nearly
thirty years later than Leofric’s death, describes the place, even
with its fine monastery, which Leofric founded, as little more than a
small agricultural village, with a population probably of not more than
three hundred to three hundred and fifty souls. Most of the houses at
that far–off period were the merest hovels, without windows; whilst
nearly all the adult inhabitants, save the very aged, were engaged in
agricultural occupations.

By the year 1218, when Henry III. granted a charter for a yearly
fair, lasting eight days, Coventry must of course have grown very
considerably; and it is interesting to know that it was in connection
with this fair in 1677, that the legend of Countess Godiva’s ride
took form as a pageant and procession, the last of which took place
on August 2, 1892. On that occasion the rôle of the self–sacrificing
Countess of ancient times was played by a young lady attired in
fleshings and a short jerkin–like garment of white satin, who also wore
a pair of white kid gloves, a plume, and a flaxen wig!

Sixteen years after the institution of the fair the Franciscans or
Grey Friars founded an establishment in Coventry; and their coming was
followed about ten years later by the Carmelites or White Friars; and
in 1381 there was also a settlement of Carthusians near the south–east
gate. Edward III., in 1344, constituted in the city a Municipal
Corporation by letters patent, and for the better security of Coventry
the inhabitants obtained from the same King permission to levy a
toll towards the expense of fortifying and enclosing the town, to be
commenced twenty–seven years after the grant was obtained. It appears,
however, that the fortifications were commenced in 1355, and the walls
and gates were finished in the time of Richard II. With the walling
in of Coventry the merchants of the period became enriched, the town
flourished and extended, and the beautiful steeple of St. Michael’s
Church was designed and partly finished. In addition to this, the
staple manufacture of clothing was cultivated, and public buildings of
adequate importance began to be constructed.

It was just outside the city, on Gosford Green, that the famous meeting
took place in September 1397, between Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of
Hereford, afterwards Henry IV., and Thomas de Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk,
to which encounter Shakespeare himself refers in “King Richard II.”
The duel, which the King commanded to be fought on this spot, arose
from a quarrel between the ducal combatants, Hereford having accused
Norfolk of speaking disrespectfully of his Sovereign. Richard and a
great number of the nobility had gathered in the brilliant sunshine of
that September day on the triangular piece of greensward where two of
the greatest nobles of the realm were to engage in single combat, the
trial by combat of those far–off days. But just as the champions were
about to commence hostilities Richard suddenly placed his veto upon the
encounter and banished both of the disputants from England; Hereford
for ten years, and Norfolk for life.

It was in 1451 that Henry VI. conferred on Coventry and certain
contiguous villages the honour of being constituted a county of
themselves, and the charter which made this enactment provided that
the bailiffs of the city should be also sheriffs of the county, and
that the same coroner should preside over both. Edward IV. confirmed
the charter, and in the agricultural survey of Warwickshire, it is
mentioned that the county and city of Coventry, situated in the
north–east part of Warwickshire, with “the greatest length from
Bedworth, to a point named Baginton, in a north–east and south–west
direction, is 7–1/2 miles; and the greatest breadth, from Nettlehill to
Brownshill Green, in about an east and west direction, is 7–1/4 miles.”

Exhall, Keresley, Anstey, Foleshill, Stivichall, Stoke, a part of Sow,
and Wyken, are all united with the city to form the county of Coventry.
The Quarter Sessions were, prior to 1842, held with the same full
powers as counties at large, and the men and aldermen of the city had
considerable privileges as well as being Justices of the Peace.

It was in the Priory that Henry VI. held a second Parliament in the
year 1459, known to the Yorkists as the “Parliamentum Diabolicum,”
this name being given to the assembly on account of the large number
of attainders which were passed by it against the Yorkists, including
Richard, Duke of York, and the Earls of March, Salisbury, and Warwick.

Afterwards King Edward IV. and his Queen spent the Christmas festival
in the city in 1465, evidently with the intention of winning over the
citizens to the Yorkist side; but it is recorded that even the presence
of the King and Queen was not sufficient to alienate their affections
from the House of Lancaster.

[Illustration: KENILWORTH CASTLE.]

Four years later the outskirts of Coventry was the scene of one of
the too frequent tragedies of those unsettled times, when Earl Rivers
and his son were beheaded at Gosford Green by the orders of Sir John
Coniers, who had obtained some partial success in Oxfordshire. In
the following year, 1470, the Earl of Warwick, on his return from
France, entered Coventry, which was still Lancastrian in sympathy,
with much war material and hostile intentions to the inhabitants. On
hearing of the Earl of Warwick’s presence King Edward, who lay at
Leicester with his forces, marched thence, and after resting at Coombe
Abbey, proceeded to Gosford Green, and then approaching Coventry
demanded admission; but this being refused, he continued his march to
Warwick. Later on, when he had won the decisive battles of Barnet and
Tewkesbury, and had regained power, Edward, in revenge for the action
of the people of Coventry in refusing to receive him in the previous
year, deprived them of many of their privileges and levied upon them
a considerable fine, amounting to five hundred marks. But the King
soon realised that the good–will of the townsfolk was of too great
importance for him to risk losing it by undue severity; and, therefore,
on payment of the fine, their privileges of which they had been
deprived were again restored to them.

Four years later Edward kept the Feast of St. George at Coventry, and
in the same year his son stood as godfather to the Mayor’s child, and
was presented with a cup and a hundred guineas, and also made a brother
of the Guilds of Corpus Christi and Holy Trinity.

Richard II. also visited the city, and Henry VII. came and lodged at
the Mayor’s immediately after the decisive victory over Richard III. at
Bosworth Field.

It would appear that the people of Coventry of these days were opulent
and generous, but exercised little originality in the form of the gifts
they bestowed upon royal or distinguished visitors, for, like Prince
Edward of York a few years previously, Henry VII. was presented with
a cup and a hundred guineas, and seems to have made so favourable an
impression upon the townsfolk that they a few years later subscribed
£1100 towards the tax which was levied for the purpose of defraying the
expense of the King’s expedition to France.

Henry VIII. and Catherine of Arragon visited Coventry in 1510, and
witnessed three magnificent pageants; and it is possible that the
prosperity of the town, which was popularly attributed as chiefly
owing to the magnitude and wealth of its monastic institutions, may
have suggested to the King’s mind the idea of the ultimate suppression
of these foundations. Be it as it may, it was stated by one John
Hales, Esq., to the Protector Somerset, “that in consequence of the
Dissolution trade grew so low, and there was such a dispersion of
people from this city, that there were not even 3000 inhabitants,
whereas there had been formerly 15,000.” Although this picture of
the desolation wrought by the suppression of the religious houses
is probably painted in too vivid colours, there seems little doubt
that great distress resulted in the years immediately following the
arbitrary action of Henry VIII.’s minister Cromwell, for we find that
although at least one branch of commerce, the clothing trade, was still
flourishing, a charter for an additional fair was granted to alleviate
the distress of the remaining inhabitants.

One of the great features of Coventry life in the Middle Ages was
undoubtedly the wealth and influence of the numerous bodies called
Guilds, which were of both a religious and secular character, and
to the support of these must be attributed much of the fame that
distinguished Coventry for its “mysteries” or sacred plays. These
dramatic performances, which partook of much of the character of that
most interesting and popular survival of the present day “Everyman,”
took place on movable platforms which were drawn through the principal
streets and open places. The subjects of these plays were generally
Scriptural or semi–Scriptural in character, and the different
festivals, more especially that of Corpus Christi, were popular days
for the representations. In addition to these there was at Coventry the
play on Hock Tuesday, which was founded upon incidents of the Massacre
of the Danes, and also pageants which were performed on the occasion of
Royal visits, and at other special times.

On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Coventry in 1565, during
one of her progresses she was received by the sheriffs in scarlet
cloaks and a score of young men on horseback, clad in a livery of fine
purple. The Queen was met at the limits of the liberties of the city
in the direction of Wolvey, and each of the young men presented to
the Queen a white rod, which she receiving delivered to them again,
and they then rode before her until they came near the city, when the
Mayor and Aldermen in their scarlet cloaks came out to receive her. As
was the custom in these times a presentation of money was made; the
Recorder, we learn, presenting “a purse, supposed to be worth twenty
marks, and in it £100 in angels,” which the Queen accepting was pleased
to say to her lords: “It is a good gift, a hundred pounds in gold; I
have but few such gifts.”

To which the Mayor answering boldly, replied: “If it please your Grace,
there is a good deal more in it.”

“What is that?” said she.

“The hearts,” he replied, “of all your loving subjects.”

“We thank you, Mr. Mayor,” said the Queen.

This at any rate is a much more courtier–like account of the
presentation than that recorded by another writer, by whom the Mayor is
said to have made the following rhyming address to the Queen, which, if
the idea is based on fact at all, is probably a travesty fabricated at
a later date:—

      “We men of Coventree
      Are very glad to see
      Your gracious Majesty,
  Good Lord, how fair ye bee!”

To which somewhat over–bold remark the Queen is stated to have replied
sarcastically:—

      “Your gracious Majesty
      Is very glad to see
      Ye men of Coventree,
  Good lack, what fools ye bee!”

In the year previous to the Queen’s visit the plague had committed
great ravages in the city, hundreds of the inhabitants falling victims,
and the “dreadful dead carts passing constantly through the streets
taking their horrible toll from most houses, and picking up those who
had fallen of the sickness in the streets.” Thus with the clothing
business falling to decay without any substitute being introduced to
fill its place, and suffering from the suppression of the religious
houses, Coventry was in but a poor state at the time of Elizabeth’s
visit. The Recorder’s speech, however, which was very lugubrious,
probably exaggerated the situation, although, as Mr. Brewer says, “the
ardour of the natives had been damped when they saw the gorgeous piles
of religious splendour, so long their pride and boast, one vast heap of
ruins.”

The Queen during her visit lodged at the White Friars, then a residence
of the Hales family, and was, notwithstanding the reputed decay and
poverty of the times, entertained with lavish magnificence.

The next Royal visitor within the city walls had no pageants,
addresses, or honours showered upon her, but hapless Mary Queen of
Scots was brought to Coventry and shut up a prisoner in the Mayor’s
parlour during the year following the coming of her royal cousin.
Again, three years later, in 1569, she was brought to Coventry and
incarcerated in the Bull Inn (the site of which is now occupied by the
Barracks), and kept under the charge of the Earls of Shrewsbury and
Huntingdon. The citizens had during her incarceration within their
walls the melancholy and troublesome task of keeping watch and ward
night and day at each of the gates, so that none might pass to or fro
without good cause.

In 1610 King James I., in a letter addressed to the heads of the city
and the Church, commanded that the inhabitants should kneel whilst
receiving the sacrament, and when they several years later applied to
him for a renewal of their charter the King refused to grant it until
he had been satisfied that his command regarding their kneeling when
receiving of the sacrament had been obeyed. A few years later the King
visited Coventry and was presented with what must be almost considered
the inevitable £100, and in addition thereto with a silver cup of
fine workmanship weighing forty–five ounces, out of which, the King
exclaimed, that he would drink wherever he went.

During the succeeding reign and the Civil War which broke out,
Coventry attached itself to the side of Parliament; the influence of
Lord Brooke of Warwick overpowering that of the Earl of Northampton,
who was Recorder and a staunch Royalist. At the outset of the war,
King Charles, after he had raised his standard at Nottingham, sent to
Coventry and demanded quarters, and these being refused he attacked
the city in full force and succeeded in capturing one of the gates.
He was, however, finally repulsed with considerable loss, and obliged
to abandon his attempt to take the town. For this act of contumacy
and the fact that it was garrisoned by Parliamentary troops until
the Restoration it was destined to suffer later on. Charles II.,
notwithstanding the enthusiastic demonstrations of the inhabitants
at his restoration and the surrender of possessions which the city
had originally purchased from the Crown, did not forget the part
Coventry had played during the Civil War, and a commission held in 1662
prescribed the demolition of the city walls as a mark of the King’s
displeasure for the disloyalty of the inhabitants to his father. This
act was immediately put into effect by the Earl of Northampton. All
that now remains of the fortifications are two of the gates, Cook
Street Gate, now a mere roofless shell, and the Swanswell or Priory
Gate in Hales Street, which after the archway had been blocked up some
years ago was converted into dwellings.

Twenty–five years later, when King James II. visited Coventry, the
citizens, no doubt remembering the exactions and punishment under which
they suffered in the previous reign for their old–time disloyalty to
the Crown, paid the King the greatest marks of attention and respect.
They presented him with a gold cup and cover, and even went the
length of smoothing the rough surfaces of their streets with sand,
white–washing their houses, and decorating them with garlands and
flags. Occasionally interesting relics of the Roman occupation are
discovered when excavating foundations for new buildings, and when
laying out new roads.

Rich in ancient buildings Coventry is full of interest to the students
of medieval architecture and to the archæologist. Of the ancient
monastery church of the Grey Friars, which was built in the reign of
Edward III., little now remains save the beautiful octagonal tower and
spire, which rises to a height of upwards of 200 feet. This church
became so rich in later years from the gifts bestowed upon it by
various benefactors that the historian William of Malmesbury writes
of it: “It was enriched and beautified with so much gold and silver
that the walls seemed too narrow to contain it; insomuch that Robert
de Limesie, Bishop of this diocese in the time of King William Rufus,
scraped from one beam that separated the shrines 500 marks of silver.”
The church was also a rich storehouse of relics, amongst which, placed
in a beautiful silver shrine, was an arm of St. Augustine, and on the
casket containing it was a notification of its purchase from the Pope
by Agelnethus, Archbishop of Canterbury.

After the suppression of the monasteries the site and remains of the
church were granted about 1542 to the Mayor and Corporation, and, as
was the case with many other similar buildings, the partially ruined
church served for a long period as a quarry from which the inhabitants
appear to have drawn building materials for their own houses.

[Illustration: STONELEIGH ABBEY.]

Fortunately, however, the elegant tower escaped. It was ultimately and
for many years surrounded by an orchard, which belonged to a nurseryman
who turned the lower portion of the tower into a piggery, and who
used to laughingly boast that he possessed the tallest pig–sty in the
country. In the early years of the last century the idea of building
on a new church to the old tower presented itself to the minds of
some Coventry people, and the Corporation released their rights to
the tower for the purpose. The work, which was commenced in 1829, was
finished three years later. The idea, we believe, was to erect this
church in the style of the original, but one can scarcely credit that
this intention was carried out if one may at the same time accept the
statement that the ancient building was of such elegance and beauty as
chroniclers have recorded.

In St. Michael’s Church one has, however, an early and remarkably
beautiful example of Perpendicular architecture, the tower and spire of
which is almost world–famed.

In the reign of King Stephen a grant was made to the prior of the
neighbouring Benedictine monastery, and this constitutes the earliest
mention of the church. Of the original building, which was of Norman
design, only a few fragments have from time to time been discovered,
and the first church was superseded in the thirteenth century by one
of Early English design, of which nothing except some portions of
the walls, the south–west doorway, and the south porch remain at the
present day.

The present beautiful church was probably erected between the year 1373
and the first half of the next century, its founders being members of a
family named Botoner. William and Adam Botoner were not only prosperous
merchants and notable citizens of Coventry, but had each of them the
unusual distinction of filling the office of Mayor three times. The
munificence of the family, tradition asserts, was perpetuated by a
brass tablet which was formerly affixed in the church, and bore the
following inscription:—

  William and Adam built the tower,
    Ann and Mary built the spire;
  William and Adam built the church,
    Ann and Mary built the quire.

Strange to relate, the tower was the first part of the church to be
commenced, and this, finished in 1394, had its cost defrayed by the two
brothers we have mentioned, who made yearly payments for the purpose of
£100. Thirty–eight years later the spire was commenced by the sisters
Ann and Mary, but the date of its completion is uncertain. Two years
after the commencement of the spire these benevolent women undertook
the building of the central aisle.

The tower is built in four stages, and has a height of 136 feet; the
two upper stages are pierced with windows and beautified with panelling
and canopied niches, which contain a considerable number of figures;
the latter are a somewhat cosmopolitan collection, made up chiefly of
saints, but also comprising statuettes of members of the Botoner family
we have before referred to, Lady Godiva, her husband, and several
English kings and their wives. The flying buttresses supporting the
tower are of very great beauty and grace, two springing from each
pinnacle of the main tower and resting against the angles of the
octagonal lantern, above which rises the beautiful spire to a further
height of 130 feet, the total elevation of the whole being just over
300 feet.

Although the spire is still of great beauty much of the detail of the
original ornamentation has unfortunately disappeared, owing to the soft
nature of the stone used in its construction.

The total length of the church is 293 feet, with a greatest width of
127 feet, the nave being 50 feet in height. The interior, with its long
range of slender columns in the nave, and the number of large windows
and the fine timbered roof, has a very beautiful effect. The chapels
of the various Guilds now form the north and south outer aisles, and
still go by the names which they bore at the time the members of these
various organisations were in the habit of worshipping in them.

Beginning with those on the south side, next the tower, the first is
the Dyers’ Chapel, on the walls of which are some interesting monuments
dating from the early years of the seventeenth century onwards. Next
comes the Cappers’ Room, over the south porch, with the chapel devoted
to the same Guild, and known as St. Thomas’, on the east side. The
Mercers’ Chapel, near by, also contains some interesting monuments of
the sixteenth century, worthy of attention as marking, both in their
style and the inscriptions they bear, the florid spirit of the times.
From this chapel a flight of steps leads down into the vestry, an
extension of the ancient sacristy, which tradition asserts was used
sometimes as a prison; carved on the wall of which is a crucifix,
supposed to be the work of some prisoner confined for an ecclesiastical
offence.

The apse of the church, formerly the Lady Chapel, contains nothing of
any great note save the fragments of ancient stained glass collected
from various windows in other portions of the church, now placed in a
few of those of the apse.

The reredos is partly Early English, and partly Decorated in style,
and the eastern compartments contain some good sculpture. The Drapers’
Chapel, which is situated in the north aisle, is of considerable
artistic interest, as it contains thirteen stalls which have finely
carved standards and _misereres_ or folding seats, the under portions
of which are ornamented with humorous designs. On the north wall of the
chapel is an ancient brass, dating about 1506, to the memory of Thomas
Bond, Mayor of Coventry in 1497, and founder of the Bablake Hospital.
Next is St. Lawrence’s Chapel, followed by the Girdlers’ Chapel;
and last of all the Smiths’ or St. Andrew’s Chapel, containing some
interesting tombs removed from their original position in the Drapers’
Chapel.

The pulpit, though a fine one, is modern; but the font at the west end
of the chancel is in all probability the one given by John Cross, then
Mayor of Coventry, to the church in 1394; it bears on a small brass
plate a shield containing four crosses, the ancient merchants’ mark.

Almost a rival to St Michael’s, at least in interest if not in beauty,
is the church of the Holy Trinity, the date of the original foundation
of which is unknown, but certain portions of the present building in
and above the north porch probably date from about the middle of the
thirteenth century, at which time the church was joined to the priory.
It is an undoubted fact, however, that a much earlier building must
have existed on the same spot. The present church, which is 178 feet
long and 67 feet broad, probably dates from a short time before that
of St. Michael’s, and differs very much from it both as regards its
form and construction. In shape it is cruciform, and consists of a nave
with north and south aisles, a chancel with chapels, and transepts. The
tower and spire are situated in the centre, and are supported on four
arches, springing from massive but well–proportioned piers. The ancient
spire was blown down during the terrific hurricane of January 24, 1665,
the church being greatly damaged by its fall. The task of rebuilding
it and repairing the injury done to the church was commenced almost
immediately, and so rapidly did the work proceed that the spire was
completed in two years to a height of 237 feet, which is supposed to be
somewhat greater than that of the one destroyed.

Over the north porch, which is the most ancient portion of the present
church, is situated a domus or priest’s chamber, the east side window
of which was formerly a doorway leading into St. Thomas’ Chapel.

Prior to the Reformation there were a large number of chapels and
altars attached to Holy Trinity, the chief of which were the Marlers’
or Mercers’ Chapel to the east of the transept; the chapel of Our Lady,
now forming the choir vestry, anciently a continuation of the south
chancel aisles; the Butchers’ Chapel; the Jesus Chapel in the south
transept; and the Tanners’ or Barkers’ Chapel in the south aisle of the
nave.

In 1831 a fresco, illustrative of the Last Judgment, was discovered
in the space over the west arch under the tower. This survival, which
was probably whitewashed over during Puritan times, has unfortunately
deteriorated and become almost indistinguishable. The picture when
discovered depicted the Saviour in the centre, seated on a rainbow, and
flanked on either side by six apostles; at a slightly lower position
were figures of the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist; two angels
with trumpets were sounding the summons to judgment, and the dead were
seen issuing from their tombs. On the right hand of the Saviour was the
figure of a pope entering Paradise, while on the left were figures of
doomed spirits being dragged to torment.

The clerestory of the church is of the Perpendicular period, and is
divided into eight bays, each containing two windows. The pulpit,
attached to the south–east pier of the tower, is noticeable as being a
fine specimen of stone–work in the Perpendicular style. The font, which
stands on its original base of two steps, has sunk panels painted and
gilt in the Decorated style. The brass eagle is of far greater interest
than usually attaches to these things, owing to the fact that it is
contemporary in date with the church itself, and is also one of the
earliest examples of core casting.

A considerable amount of romance is connected with this lectern, for in
1560 an entry is found in which it is stated that xvjd were expended
“for mendyng of ye Eagle’s tayle,” which had been damaged, possibly
at the time of the suppression of the monasteries. This self–same
eagle was threatened with even greater risk of destruction during the
Commonwealth, for we find an entry in the vestry book of the date of
July 13, 1654, which states “that Mr. Abraham Watts made a motion, that
whereas he was informed that this House had an intention to sell the
brass Eagle standing in the vestrie, that he might have the refusall
thereof when such shall be mede.” An additional entry running, “Agreed,
that if it be sold, he shall have the refusall thereof.” At the time
when the lectern was nearly sold, the font, being in those times
considered an objectionable survival of Romanism, was removed and an
ordinary vessel was provided for use at baptisms. It was, however,
fortunately preserved, and brought back and set up in its original
position after the Restoration.

The handsome reredos was erected in 1873 by Sir Gilbert G. Scott,
R.A., and represents the Crucifixion in the centre, with the Nativity
and Ascension on either side.

An event of more than passing interest in connection with the church
was the marriage, recorded in the register, of Sarah Kemble—afterwards
the famous Mrs. Siddons—with William Siddons, an actor in the
theatrical company of the bride’s father, which was at the time
performing in the Drapers’ Hall.

The Church of John the Baptist, also known as Bablake Church, is
one well worth visiting, especially by students of architecture and
archaeology. It possesses a fine lantern tower with battlements
springing from the centre of the church. Since 1774 it has been the
Parish Church.

Coventry, famous in the past for its religious foundations and
ecclesiastical architecture, was not perhaps less notable for its
buildings of a purely domestic or municipal character, and happily not
a few of these have survived, either complete or in part, to provide
object lessons for the student and the lover of antiquities.

Amongst the beautiful buildings which make this town still one of
the most interesting in the Midlands, is St. Mary’s Hall, hard by the
church of St. Michael. This fine and ancient building, which, however,
from the dilapidation of the stone–work front, possesses a somewhat
heavy and decayed appearance from the outside, and is too closely
surrounded by other buildings for a good general view to be obtained,
was commenced towards the end of the fourteenth century, and completed
in 1414 by the united Guilds of St. Mary, St. John the Baptist, St.
Catherine, and Holy Trinity, known as the Trinity Guild. Unfortunately,
the front and the tower at the south–west angle has been allowed to
fall into decay, the two upper stories of the latter having long ago
vanished.

[Illustration: THE PARADE, LEAMINGTON.]

The courtyard is entered through the depressed archway leading into
a finely vaulted porch, on the central boss of the groining of which
is an interesting carving representing the coronation of the Virgin,
and on the projecting impost of the inward arch on the right hand is a
representation of the Annunciation; whilst the impost on the opposite
side is ornamented with animal grotesques. There is a lofty room on the
east side of the porch, which was formerly the chapel of the Mercers’
Company. The courtyard lies beyond this, and on the western side of it
is the entrance to the crypt beneath the Great Hall. Near the windows
of the crypt are the ancient lockers, used for the safe custody of
documents and other valuables belonging to members of the Guild. In
the smaller chamber next the street are several relics, not the least
interesting of which is the knave’s post, a figure six feet high,
having arm openings, which was removed from a wall in Much Park Street
in 1886. It came originally from one of the religious houses, and was
the goal of offenders, who, sentenced to be whipped at the cart’s tail,
usually started from the Mayor’s parlour in Cross Cheaping, to which
they were sometimes also whipped back. The last occasion on which a
public whipping was given is supposed to have been between the years
1820 and 1830. The old Coventry stocks, which are also to be found in
this room, formerly standing in the market–place, and last used in July
1861, are threefold, which speaks but ill for the conduct of the town.

The south end of the inner court is the kitchen, which was originally
the hall of the Merchants’ or St. Mary’s Guild, turned to its present
use when the new hall was erected. Unfortunately the chamber has
suffered considerably at various times from repairs and structural
alterations. It contains four great chimneys, with an opening in the
roof to allow of the escape of steam. In the lobby on the eastern side
of the courtyard is an interesting statue, which, however, has been
considerably restored and is generally believed to represent Henry VI.
It once formed one of the chief figures on the ancient city Cross in
Cross Cheaping, which was unfortunately demolished in 1771. Dugdale
wrote of it as “one of the chief things wherein this city most glories,
which for workmanship and beauty is inferior to none in England.”

From the lobby a broad staircase leads up to the vestibule, and thus
to the Great Hall, in which so many historic scenes in past times
have taken place. Up these stairs in ancient days passed the leading
citizens of Coventry, and also, in all likelihood, some at least of
the royal and famous visitors who have at various times been received
by the town. The great hall, which is some 70 feet long, 30 feet
broad, and 34 feet high, is lighted by seven Perpendicular windows,
three on either side, each containing four lights, and mullioned and
transomed, and a fine nine–light window set in the northern end. This
latter is filled with ancient stained glass, the upper portion with
nineteen coats of arms, and the lower containing a number of full
length representations of kings, amongst whom are William I., Richard
I., Henry III., Henry IV., Henry V., Henry VI., Constantine the Great,
King Arthur, and one unidentified. The glass is by the John Thornton
who was a native of Coventry, and also the artist of the magnificent
east window in York Minster. The roof of this beautiful hall is of oak,
very richly carved, with the space above the tie beams filled with open
panel–work. In the centre are full–length figures of angels, symbolical
of the Heavenly Hosts, bearing in their hands musical instruments;
whilst the bosses at the intersection of the ribs are also richly
carved.

The tapestry hanging below the north window, which is beautiful
work, although of Flemish design, was probably made in England
either in the last years of the fifteenth or commencement of the
sixteenth century. One thing is clear from the lines of the divisions
corresponding with the mullions in the window above, namely, that it
was originally made for the purpose to which it is applied. There are
three compartments, each of them divided into an upper and lower tier,
and the subject of the tapestry is popularly supposed to represent
incidents of the visit paid by Henry VI. and his Queen Margaret to
Coventry on September 21, 1451, on which occasion they were the guests
of the Prior of the Benedictines. Not only is this tapestry of great
antiquarian interest, but it is also valuable as representing some of
the famous people of Henry VI.’s reign and the costumes of that and
of other days. Especially to be noted are the subjects occupying the
centre compartment, which relate to the connection of the building
with the Trinity Guild, and that also of the Guild of St. Mary which
was incorporated with it. One strange anachronism in connection
with the pictures in the first tier of the first compartment is the
representation of Duke Humphrey and Cardinal Beaufort as being present
at the time of the visit of King Henry. Both of these predeceased
the occasion by several years, and probably the explanation of their
presence is the fact that the work was undertaken and completed a
considerable time after the visit of the King.

In the upper row of the middle compartment is a figure of Justice
enthroned, surrounding which are angels holding in their hands the
instruments of the Passion. It is supposed that this incongruity was
due to the insertion of the figure of Justice in Puritan times, and
authorities differ in their views as to whether the evidently offending
and deleted figure was that of the Trinity or Christ. Mr. Scharf, who
has made a close study of this particular work, is of the opinion that
the remains of the handsome throne and part of a beautiful embroidered
mantle which are depicted, may have belonged to a seated figure of
Christ clad in flowing robes, often the subject of paintings at that
particular period. His argument, which is as follows, indeed seems
to be a weighty one. He writes, “had it been a representation of the
Trinity with the first Person holding a crucifix, I do not think
we should have had the angels with the instruments of the Passion,
but rather the four emblems of the Evangelists, as on the canopy
of the tomb of the Black Prince at Canterbury, and in various MS.
illuminations.”

Whatever may be the true explanation of this inserted and incongruous
figure, one cannot feel other than satisfaction that the mutilation
of the tapestry, permitted by Puritan fanaticism, did not proceed to
greater lengths.

In the hall are a number of royal portraits, including pictures of
Charles II. and James II. by Lely, and of George III. and George IV. by
Sir Thomas Lawrence; and on the walls are also some Latin inscriptions,
including one surmounted by the letters E.R. celebrating Queen
Elizabeth, and another commemorating the Black Prince.

Within recent years a new fireproof Muniment Room has been built
downstairs, where is kept a most valuable and interesting series of
documents. Earliest of these is a charter received from Ranulph,
Earl of Chester, in the reign of Henry II. A similar document of
Confirmation, granted in the reign of Charles II., has additional
interest from the fact that it contains a fine miniature portrait of
the King. In addition to more important documents relative to Coventry
affairs are many most interesting and unique letters, some of them of
a more or less private character. One in particular from Margaret, the
mother of Henry VII., calling attention in peremptory language to a
former and unanswered letter. There are two communications from Henry
VIII., one bearing a written signature and the other stamped with a
wooden stamp.

Another exceedingly interesting letter is that received by the Mayor
of Coventry in September 1534, dated the 12th of that month, from
Ann Boleyn, announcing to him the birth of her daughter Elizabeth,
afterwards Queen. There is also one from Elizabeth herself, dated
thirty–six years later, relative to the arrival at Coventry of unhappy
Mary Queen of Scots.

A strange side light upon the custom of the times is thrown by an
indenture dated Warwick, 1478, relating to some jewels which the
impecunious Duke of Clarence had pledged to the city. There are other
letters from royal personages, including Edward IV., Richard III.,
Henry VII., James I., Charles II., James II., and from Archbishops Laud
and Cranmer, and Richard Baxter. In addition to all these memorials of
the past, valuable alike for their historical and antiquarian interest,
is a remarkable miscellaneous collection of nearly twenty thousand
documents, including deeds of gift, charters, grants, leases, etc., and
a set of the trade–marks of Guild members impressed in wax, extending
from the reign of Edward I. down to the latter half of the fifteenth
century.

At the rear of the Minstrel Gallery is a large room formerly used as
the armoury, in which is hung a fine picture, the “Bacchanali,” by
Luca Giordano, and at the back of these apartments is another room,
traditionally supposed to have been that in which Mary Queen of Scots
was confined when at Coventry.

The Mayoress’s parlour possesses a fine moulded ceiling, in two
compartments, with diagonal ribs united in an octagonal panel. The
fireplace has hollow jambs ornamented with tracery, copied from the
banqueting hall of Kenilworth Castle, and is formed by a depressed
Tudor arch; and above it is a figure of Godiva on horseback placed
in a recess. The elaborately carved state chair of oak undoubtedly
dates from the early part of the sixteenth century, and possibly even
earlier. On one side is the figure of the Virgin and Child, whilst
the other is simply panelled. The back is surmounted on one side by
an elephant and castle—the town arms; and on the other side, which
formerly was the centre, stand two lions acting as supporters for a
coronet or crown, which has disappeared. The chair when perfect was
a double one, and was probably made for the use of the Master of the
Guild, and the Mayor, when present at its meetings. On the walls are
hung some interesting portraits of royalty and of former mayors of the
town.

Amongst the other buildings of Coventry worthy of note as representing
survivals of ancient architecture is the Bablake Hospital, endowed by
one Thomas Bond in 1506. “For”—as it is quaintly phrased—“ten poore
men, so long as the world shall endure, with a woman to look to them.”
This Thomas Bond was a draper of the city, and also its Mayor, in 1497;
when Perkin Warbeck was causing rebellion.

Even a brief consideration of Coventry would be incomplete without
a mention of the famous Guilds which in medieval times played so
prominent a part in its civic history. Of the many founded in the city
the oldest of all having a religious character was that of St. Mary,
which used to hold its annual meeting of Masters, Brothers, and Sisters
on Assumption Day, as the quaint spelling of the time had it, “En sale
n’re dame,” in other words, in St. Mary’s Hall.

As showing the power and importance of this Guild, and, indeed, of
the Guild system itself in ancient times, one only has to remember
the Royal and noble persons who were frequently enrolled as members.
Amongst those who became members of the Guild of Holy Trinity were
Henry VI. and his Queen, Margaret of Anjou; Henry VII. and his Queen,
Elizabeth of York; and Edward V. when he was Prince of Wales. It is
interesting also to record that the name of Shakespeare is included
among the brothers and sisters of the Guild.

The form of petition for admission into the Guild, and the oath
which had to be taken by intending members at the ceremony of their
admission, are both quaint; the former runs, “Maister, we beseech you,
at the reverence of the Holy Trinity, that you will receive us to be
brethren of this place with you.” And the latter runs, “Ye shall be
good and true, and each of you shall be good and true to the Master of
the Gild of the Holy Trinity, Our Lady, St. John and St. Catherine of
Coventre, and to all the brethren and sisters of the same Gild; and all
the good rules and ordinances by the said Master and his Brethren afore
this time made, and hereafter to be made, and your days of payment
truly for to keep to your power, so God you help and all Saints.”

[Illustration: ST. MARTIN’S CHURCH, BIRMINGHAM.]

Amongst the other Guilds possessing royal members was that of Corpus
Christi, instituted in the reign of Edward III., which rendered
assistance to the churches of St. Michael and Holy Trinity, by part
payment of the priests; of this Guild King Edward V. was a member.

The Trade Guilds, of which there were many, one of the oldest
being that of the Sheremen and Tailors, founded in honour of the
Nativity some time in the reign of Richard II., were very jealous
of their privileges, and resented promptly any infringement upon
their prerogative. An interesting instance of their action in this
respect was afforded by a combination of the Guilds for the purpose
of suppressing an imitation guild which some of the young men of the
town had formed in the early years of the reign of Henry VI. Dugdale’s
account of this action runs as follows:—

 “The common people,” he says, “namely, Journeymen of several trades,
 observed what merry–meetings and feasts their masters had, by being of
 those Fraternities, and that they themselves wanted in like pleasure did
 of their own accord assemble together in several places of the city and
 especially in St. George’s Chapel near Gosford Gate, which occasioned
 the Mayor and his brethren in the 3rd year of Henry VI. to complain
 thereof to the King; alledging, that the said Journeymen in their
 unlawful meetings called themselves St. George his Gild, to the intent
 that they might maintain and abet one another in quarrels; and for their
 better conjunction had made choyce of a Master, with Clerks and Officers
 to the great contempt of the K. authority, prejudice of the other Gilds
 (viz. holy Trin and Corp Christi) and disturbance of the city; whereupon
 the King directed his Writ to the Mayor and Justices, with the Bayliffs
 of this City, commanding them by proclamation to prohibite any more such
 meetings.”

Thus were the perhaps not unnatural desires of young people of the
Middle Ages to emulate the gaiety and junketings of their betters
crushed by royal authority.

These trading Guilds were almost analogous to the ancient Companies
of the City of London, and have in many cases survived to the present
time, although nowadays their _raison d’être_ is somewhat far to seek,
and one is forced to the conclusion that the chief excuse for their
continued existence is the feeling that old institutions should not be
allowed to disappear, even though the original and perhaps justified
reasons for their foundation no longer obtain.

In some of the Guilds great and striking alterations have been made
from their aforetime character, although they survive at the present
day. The Guild of Fullers or Tailors and Sheremen, one of the most
ancient, had at one time only one surviving brother, who nominated a
second, and thus it remained until the year 1860, when the number was
once more reduced to a single brother, who then made seven others.

Coventry, now so essentially a commercial city, in ancient days saw,
perhaps, more of change and tragedy than most towns of central England.
In the Middle Ages, indeed, stirring events succeeded one another with
somewhat startling rapidity within its walls, and public executions
were far less uncommon than the inhabitants could have wished. Opposite
the old Black Bull Inn, where Henry VI. stayed after the Battle of
Bosworth Field, and where Mary Queen of Scots was confined for several
months in 1569 (now the site of the Barracks), one Thomas Harrington
of Oxford was beheaded in 1487 for having claimed that he was the son
of the Duke of Clarence. In the garden known as Park Hollows, near
which are some fragments of the ancient city walls, during the Marian
Persecution, several martyrs, including Lawrence Sanders, Cornelius
Bungey, and Robert Glover were burnt for heresy.

From the town of these days it is a far cry, indeed, to the bustling
modern city; still containing, however, somewhat of the philosophy of
ancient civic life, though chiefly concerned with the manufacture of
such modern things as bicycles, motors, and aeroplanes.

Even before the Great War the city was a hive of industry, and its
rapid growth, and the wide extension of its boundaries have been,
indeed, remarkable during the last decade.

To recount Coventry’s part in the waging of the Great War would occupy
far more space than can be devoted to it in a book like the present;
but many of the most essential elements in the ultimate victory had
their origin in the wonderful activities of the ancient town.

War material, munitions, motor cars, aeroplanes, and petrol engines
were turned out in enormous quantities. Thousands of skilled mechanics
were drawn off from industry to play a more active part in the war
overseas, but the older men, women, boys, and girls took their places,
and magnificently carried on the ceaseless activities of providing the
munitions of war.

A descriptive writer gave this war–time picture of Coventry. “It is a
city of ancient greatness inspired with a spirit so modern as to strike
one as being incongruous. There are few lights at night, for it is war
time, but at sunset against the pale lemon evening sky its spires are
sharply silhouetted, and the lofty chimneys of its restless factories
trail diaphanous veils of smoke across the vault of heaven. Even at a
distance one hears a murmurous hum of machines, which comes upon the
evening air like the hum of innumerable bees.... Coventry never sleeps.
In the age of the curfew it slept soundly, its streets dark as now. But
to–day the work is continuous, for only that way can victory lie.”

Yes, Coventry bore its burden, did its share, and played its part.

But, seen from a little distance and from certain aspects, Coventry
still possesses a strange old–world charm, and the more modern elements
of its present–day life seem to fade away, leaving a picture of elegant
spires rising from amid a sea of indistinct and even picturesquely
disposed roofs.



CHAPTER VI

KENILWORTH AND ITS PRIORY—THE STORY AND ROMANCE OF KENILWORTH CASTLE


Kenilworth, which is prettily situated, and lies almost equidistant
between Warwick and Coventry, and about five miles direct north of the
former town, is reached by the turnpike road passing Guy’s Cliff, the
beautiful Blakedown Mill, which existed prior to the reign of Henry
II., and Chessford Bridge. Few who visit Kenilworth at the present
day would imagine that this quiet, straggling country town, with a
population of about four thousand, could ever have played the important
part it did in the history and romance of the county and the nation at
large.

Kenilworth of to–day at first sight gives the traveller the impression
of being merely a sleepy town, with the architecture of its long main
street, which is a full mile in length, picturesquely broken up by the
interspersing of modern and older buildings. Few, indeed, would suppose
that any manufacture of the slightest importance could occupy the
thoughts or the energies of its inhabitants; but there are still some
carried on amid its rural surroundings.

One of the most interesting buildings in Kenilworth is the old
Elizabethan House, standing just beyond the King’s Arms Hotel, at which
Sir Walter Scott put up when visiting the place in 1820. Over the door
of the house, which is of two stories, is a wooden panel on which is
carved a representation of the bear and ragged staff, with the initials
R. L., standing for Robert Leicester. The building was in former times
one of the lodges of the castle, to which the roadway passing the house
leads, thus forming the principal approach. In this house, tradition
asserts, Amy Robsart used to stay, and there is at least a tradition
that years ago a secret underground passage was discovered leading from
the house to the castle.

Although prettily situated, Kenilworth does not nowadays possess any
great attractions other than its castle. But on the slope to the east
of the latter, and slightly below the level of the Coventry Road,
is the church, consisting of a western tower and spire, nave with
aisles, transepts, and a chancel with a south aisle or Lady Chapel of
considerable interest. The nave and tower date from the fourteenth
century, and on the western side of the latter a very beautiful Norman
doorway, probably removed from the adjacent priory, has been inserted.
This door, which is well worth the study of those interested in
architecture, possesses three receding arches, the first fluted, the
second beak–headed, and the third embattled, encircled by a nail–headed
band, and the whole enclosed in an ornamental square, having a border
of diaper–work and cable moulding. There is also a patera in each
spandril.

The old entrance to the rood loft may be seen on the north side of the
chancel arch, now blocked up. On the south side is a very good example
of a lychnoscope. The chancel contains a piscina and a circular font,
dating from the middle of the seventeenth century. In the lower belfry
is a boat–shaped leaden casting, weighing about a ton, and bearing the
seal of one of Henry VIII.’s Commissioners, probably impressed upon
it at the time of his visit, with reference to the Dissolution of the
priory hard by, amongst the ruins of which the casting was found in
1888.

There would appear to be little doubt that this “pig” forms part of the
leaden roof of the priory, for in different accounts relating to the
suppression of the religious foundations throughout the country there
are many records of the melting down of the lead covering the roofs, in
order that it might be turned into cash. The ancient Communion plate
belonging to the church is of great interest, and includes a chalice,
dating from about 1570, the gift of the Earl of Leicester; a flagon,
paten, and chalice given by the Duchess of Dudley in 1638; and another
less ornamental chalice given in 1644 by the Countess of Monmouth. The
church was somewhat relentlessly and badly restored in 1865.

The priory was a foundation of the Augustinians or Black Canons, the
full title of whom was the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. The house
was founded about the year 1122 by Geoffrey de Clinton.

As we have before said, the chief attraction of Kenilworth nowadays
is its ruined castle, a magnificent and impressive red sandstone
pile, now overgrown with ivy and, alas, crumbling yearly into greater
decay, which in ancient times saw so much of the stir, pageantry,
and circumstance of life. And even if some of the legends and tales
connected with this truly wonderful building have little foundation in
actual fact, there is still much of unimpeachable history and romance
welded into its very fabric.

The glamour of Kenilworth is undeniable, and doubtless has been not a
little added to from the fact that so great and vivid a descriptive
writer as Sir Walter Scott made it the _locale_ of one of his most
popular and perhaps most readable novels. That his history is not
entirely accurate has little or nothing to do with the enjoyment of the
book by the general reader, nor does it militate against the interest
aroused in the fine ruins of the castle which he made the scene of so
much pageantry and romance.

The name of Kenilworth is probably derived from the Saxon owner
Kenulph or Kenelm, and “worthe,” signifying a dwelling–place; but in
the Domesday Book it is called Chenewrd, and in some Charters Chenille
Wurda, the “worthe” or manor of Chenil. Whether the original owner of
the manor was one named Chenil, or Kenelm the Mercian, there is no
satisfactory evidence, but Dugdale associates the name with the latter,
and this, indeed, seems the more probable derivation. One thing appears
certain, however, namely, that the original founder of Kenilworth
was a man of considerable position, because his buhr or keep and its
earthworks were both extensive and strong.

[Illustration: BADDESLEY CLINTON HALL.]

At the period of the Domesday Book the manor of Kenilworth was a
portion of the royal manor of Stoneleigh, and was divided into two
parts, known as “Opton or Upton, containing three hides, held direct
of the King by Albertus Clericus, in pure alms; and Chineworde, held
by Ricardus Forestarius. Opton is upper–town or high–town, the rising
ground to the north of the present church. Chineworth is Kenilworth
proper.” It seems probable that Chineworth is a corruption of the name
Kenilworth.

The ancient history of the castle is, owing to the great alterations
made by succeeding owners and the absence of records, very difficult to
trace, though it is quite certain that the owner of the manor during
Saxon times, as was usual, fortified the best position by earthworks,
and also probably erected an earthen keep. The exact site of the
latter is quite an open question, as is the point as to which of the
earthworks now traceable date back to the far remote period of Saxon
times. Indeed, until the reign of Henry I. the history of the castle is
largely speculative. Some authorities incline to the view that the site
of the present buildings was in Roman times that of a fort, temporary
or otherwise; which the Saxon chief afterwards selected, adopted, and
enlarged, that it might afford shelter and security for his own flocks
and herds which roamed the Arden, and even those also of his immediate
dependants.

Kenilworth and its several owners during the Middle Ages saw many
vicissitudes and several tragic events. In the Barons’ War it changed
hands several times, and among its most famous owners was Simon de
Montfort, Earl of Leicester, who led the Barons against King Henry III.

Many royal visits were paid during the succeeding reigns, and Edward
II. was deposed in the Great Hall, and afterwards kept a prisoner in
the castle.

In 1563 Kenilworth was granted by Queen Elizabeth to her favourite,
Robert Dudley, who in the following year was created Earl of Leicester.
Soon after coming into possession of this magnificent fortress dwelling
he set about to make radical alterations. We are told that he “gutted
the keep and forebuilding, afterwards fitting them up in the Tudor
style, and also erected the pile of buildings which are known by his
name, and rebuilt the Gallery Tower on the outer end of the dam, and
probably added an upper story to the great barn.” One of his finest
additions was undoubtedly the great gate–house on the north side, by
which means he turned what had formerly been the rear of the castle
into the front, approaching it from the road crossing the valley
instead of from the side of the fields and lake. It is considered by
several authorities, too, that it was probably he who later on filled
up the ditch of the inner ward. The building material he used was
ashlar, and although the work was not badly done, it was probably
carried out too rapidly, and was, therefore, not of a very substantial
or lasting character. Afterwards, when the castle was allowed to fall
into disrepair, and the roofs and floors disappeared, the walls soon
gave way and became unsafe.

Doubtless with a view of entertaining his royal mistress, who visited
the castle in 1566, 1568, 1572, and 1575, Robert Dudley spent an
immense sum on his alterations, which has been variously estimated from
fifty to seventy–five thousand pounds: a sum which in those days, of
course, represented a far greater amount than would appear at first
sight. Although no doubt Queen Elizabeth was entertained right royally
on the occasions of all her visits, it was the last one, which began
on Saturday 9th of July, and did not end until the 26th, that is
most historically famous by reason of the extraordinarily lavish and
interesting character of its entertainments prepared for the Queen.

From contemporary accounts—all the revels were chronicled in detail by
Laneham, an attendant on the Queen—we gather at least some idea of what
these famous festivities were like. The Queen was met, whilst still
distant from the castle several hundred yards, by a person dressed
to represent “one of the ten sibills cumly clad in a pall of white
sylk, who pronounced a proper poezie in English rime and meeter.” This
service “Her Majestie benignly accepted, and passed foorth into the
next gate of the Brayz, which, for the length, largenes, and use, they
now call the Tylt–yard.”

Immediately on entering the latter the porter, a huge fellow, who is
recorded to have been so overcome with a sense of the Queen’s majesty
that he scarcely knew what to do, presented the keys to the Queen. This
ceremony finished, six trumpeters, dressed in loose, silken garments,
who stood upon the wall over the gateway, blew a fanfare of welcome,
whilst “her Highness, all along this Tilt–yard, rode into the inner
gate, where a person representing the Lady of the Lake (famous in King
Arthur’s Book), with two Nymphes waiting upon her, arrayed all in
sylks, attended her Highness coming.” These beings appeared suddenly on
a floating island in the lake blazing with torches, and made a speech
of welcome to the Queen, which ended with music; the speech which was
made by the Lady of the Lake narrated the “auncientee of the castle,”
and the dignities and titles of the Earls of Leicester, and concluded
with the following verse:—

  Wherefore, I will attend while you lodge here,
  (Most peerless Queene) to Court to make resort;
  And as my love to Arthure did appeere,
  So shal’t to you in earnest and in sport.

A special road had been made by which the Queen entered the castle,
a bridge 20 feet wide and 70 feet long having been constructed across
the dry valley leading to the castle gates, for her to pass over. The
posts erected on either side bore trays and bowls containing gifts from
the gods, which a poet had been engaged especially to present to her.
These consisted of rare fruits from Pomona, corn from Ceres, wine from
Bacchus, a cage of wild fowl from Silvanus, sea fish from Neptune,
weapons from Mars, and musical instruments from Phœbus. Her Majesty
then passed into the inner court, and (again quoting the ancient
account) “thear set doun from her palfrey was conveied up to a chamber,
when after did follo a great peal of Gunz and lightning by Fyr–work.”

One can well imagine that the Queen must have been fatigued by her
reception, which seems to have included several recitals in addition
to the Latin poem, which was read to her by a poet clad “in a long
ceruleous Garment with a Bay Garland on his head and a skrol in his
hand.”

The festivities thus inaugurated lasted for seventeen days, and
included nearly every conceivable amusement popular in those days.
There were hunting parties, dances, and theatrical representations,
fireworks on the lake, bear baitings, Italian tumblers, tilting at the
Quintain, a country Bride–ale or marriage feast, and Morrice dancing,
the performers for the latter entertainment being probably drawn from
Long Marston, near Stratford–on–Avon, which in those days was famous
for them. Most elaborate aquatic sports were also given on the lake,
where a Triton appeared riding on a mermaid 18 feet long, accompanied
by Arion on a dolphin, from the interior of each of which proceeded
hidden music of a delightful character. In addition to all these things
the Coventry players made a special journey to give their ancient play
called “Hocks Tuesday,” which depicted scenes from the incidents of the
massacre of the Danes in the reign of King Ethelred.

With these latter performances it is recorded the Queen expressed
herself as greatly pleased, giving to the players a couple of fat bucks
and five marks in money for a feast.

Leicester not only entertained the Queen, but crowds of other folk seem
to have enjoyed the open house provided, and we are told by Laneham
that “The Clok Bell sang not a Note, all the while her Highness waz
thear: the Clok also stood still withall; the handz of both the tablz
stood firm and fast, allweys pointing at 2 a’Clok,” this being the
usual banqueting hour.

Some idea of the cost of the festivities, which is stated by some
authorities to have amounted to at least a thousand a day, may be
gained from the fact that no less than 320 hogsheads of beer were
drunk. The Queen marked her approval of the entertainment provided
by knighting five gentlemen, amongst whom were Sir Thomas Cecil, son
and heir to the Lord High Treasurer Sir Henry Cobham, and Sir Francis
Stanhope; and it would appear that she also touched for the King’s
Evil, as a record exists that “Nyne persons were cured of the peynful
and daungerous deseaz called the King’s Evil.” All of the masques
were written specially for the occasion; a good number of them by
George Gascoigne, and may be found in his well–known account of the
festivities, entitled “Princely Pleasures at Kenilworth.”

As is well known, Sir Walter Scott in his novel describes Amy Robsart
as being present at Kenilworth in 1575. This idea, however, is entirely
erroneous, as indeed are many other incidents recorded in the tale.
She died at Cumnor Place fifteen years before this royal pageant, and
it seems probable that her death occurred prior to the granting of the
castle to Leicester; although she may possibly have passed through
Kenilworth on a journey, as there is an old tradition to this effect at
Moreton Morrell.

Very briefly, the real facts concerning Amy Robsart are as follows. The
only legitimate child of Sir John Robsart of Siderstern, she was born
in 1532, and was married at the age of eighteen on 4th June, at the
Royal Palace of Sheen, to Lord Dudley, in the presence of Edward VI.
and many members of the Court. She lived chiefly in the country during
the time that her husband was in attendance on the Court, and ten years
after her marriage, in 1560, was residing at Cumnor Place, rented from
William Owen, a son of George Owen, who had been one of the physicians
to King Henry VIII. At this time there were staying with her a Mrs.
Odingsells, sister of Mr. Hyde, and Mrs. Owen, wife of the owner of the
house.

It was on Sunday, 8th September, that she was found dead at the foot
of a staircase, with her neck broken, by the servants, who had been
allowed to visit the fair at Abingdon. In due course an inquest was
held, and full inquiry made into the circumstances of her death, but
nothing was discovered in the least implicating any one as accessory to
it.

Although Robert Dudley was undoubtedly secretly married at the time
of his Sovereign’s visit to Kenilworth, it was not to Amy Robsart.
Four years previous to the Queen’s visit he had engaged himself to
Lady Douglas Sheffield, whom he had privately married in May two years
later, a son, Robert, being shortly afterwards born to them. This
marriage (concerning the legality of which there seems to be some
doubt) he ultimately endeavoured to repudiate, and at the time of the
festivities at Kenilworth he was actually carrying on a clandestine
intrigue with Lettice, Countess of Essex, whose husband died in the
following year.

In 1578, although Lady Douglas Sheffield was alive, he married Lady
Lettice, who was a daughter of Sir Francis Knollys, and a son was born
to them, who, however, died in 1584. On Leicester’s death it was found
that he had bequeathed the castle for life to his brother Ambrose, Earl
of Warwick, and after him to his son by Lady Douglas Sheffield, whom he
termed Sir Robert Dudley.

The only portion now habitable of what was anciently one of
the finest baronial fortress homes in the kingdom is Leicester’s
magnificent gate–house, which many authorities are agreed equals in its
size and beauty of architecture many a manor–house itself. The old–time
entrance passage of this gate–house nowadays forms two rooms and small
additions. The magnificent fireplace in one of the rooms of the house
is said to be a relic brought from the castle, probably at the time of
its dismantlement by the Parliamentarians.

[Illustration: MAXSTOKE CASTLE.]

The entrance to the castle is through a small gateway, a few yards
distant from the gate–house; and after passing through a strip of
garden the outer court of the castle is reached, and an impressive and
fairly extensive view of the whole building is obtained.

On the right–hand side are the remains of the buildings which in former
times formed the northern side of the inner court, with the once
extensive stables, just visible on the left through a small shrubbery,
with the circular Lunn’s Tower some forty feet in height close to
them, and projecting from the curtain. The tower has two upper floors
with fireplaces, and to one of these has been given (why it is not
discoverable) the title of the King’s Chamber. The loopholes are all
splayed on the inside, to assist in the discharge of arrows, and on
the outside wall are holes, in which were placed beams to support the
wooden galleries, called “hoards,” which enabled the defenders to have
a command of the walls, and thus make it impossible for the attacking
force to obtain shelter by keeping close to them. The entrance to the
tower was blown up during the Civil War in the reign of Charles I.

The stabling, which is on the ground floor, of stone, and the upper
part mostly of timber and brick, has in the centre a large porch and a
wide entrance, as though this part of the building was once used for
the purpose of a barn. The work is chiefly in the Late Perpendicular
style, although traditionally of a much earlier date.

Mortimer’s Tower lies at the other end of the stable buildings,
past the warder’s chamber, and is at the castle end of the tilt–yard
or dam. Why called Mortimer’s Tower has never been satisfactorily
settled, as although Scott and some other writers believe that it
took its name from the Earl of March, who played the principal part
in the great tournament in the reign of Edward I., and may possibly
have lodged in it, others incline to the view that it derived it from
the circumstance of a Sir John Mortimer having been imprisoned in it
during the reign of Henry V. As a fact, the tower is more properly to
be considered a strong double gateway, leading into the tilt–yard, and
formerly provided with two portcullises and a double set of gates.
Remains of chambers on either side are discoverable, the one on the
left hand possessing a garderobe; the outer entrance is defended by
two half–round towers, which are pierced with loopholes for repelling
attack. The tower gateway leads out upon the high bank, which was
originally a portion of the dam of the great lake, and was used as
a tilt–yard. It extends for a distance of about eighty yards to the
Gallery Tower placed at the end of this isthmus–like strip of land,
which in ancient times separated the lower lake from the great lake.
The Gallery Tower, however, cannot now be reached from the tilt–yard,
owing to the fact that a deep cutting was made through the dam for the
purpose of draining off the waters from the lake, but it can be seen
embowered in trees from the castle side of the cutting. This name was
probably derived from the fact that in ancient times it was furnished
with “a broad and fair gallery, set aside for the use of the ladies,
who were thus able to witness in comfort the jousts and feats of
chivalry which took place in the tilting–yard,” and also a “spacious
and noble room” for the same purpose. It was through this gate that
Queen Elizabeth made her entry into the castle, and from it to the
other gate the special bridge had been constructed across the lake.

The “Brayz,” which are huge mounds of earth, once forming formidable
outworks to the castle, now overgrown by trees and underwood, probably
derived the name from the Norman–French _braie_, meaning a low rampart;
although another authority seems to think that the word was derived
from “brayda,” a suburban field or broad place.

Near the Water Tower, which is situated almost midway between Lunn’s
Tower and Mortimer’s Tower, can be traced the foundations of the castle
chapel, built by John of Gaunt. The tower is an interesting example of
architecture, in the ground–floor room of which, possibly originally
a kitchen, is a fine fireplace. The upper chamber, from which a good
view of Lunn’s Tower is obtained across the long, picturesque, and
weather–stained roof of the stables, is known as the Queen’s Chamber;
why, there is no record to tell, and it is, therefore, probable that
the name is a fanciful one. The Warder’s Room, which contains a
fireplace, and a large stone aumbry or recess, with a broken shelf, and
also a garderobe, is principally constructed in the thickness of the
wall, but projects to a slight extent on its outer face. It is situated
almost exactly midway between the Water Tower and Mortimer’s.

The great lake, mention of which has already been made, was upwards
of a hundred acres in extent, about a hundred yards in width, ten or
twelve feet in depth, and extended round the castle on its southern
and western sides for a distance of nearly half a mile. The second
or smaller lake, which existed in medieval times on the southern and
eastern sides of the castle, was drained by Leicester and converted by
him into an orchard.

Entering the castle buildings themselves from the outer ward into the
inner court, the huge impressive pile of Cæsar’s Tower rises above one
on the right, with the ruins of Leicester’s buildings opposite, on the
left. Once the inner court is entered, one has on the left the Privy
Chamber, Presence Chamber, and the ruins of the suite of rooms used by
Queen Elizabeth.

Immediately opposite the entrance to the inner court are the ruined
walls of the great hall, under which is the postern leading out on to
the ramparts by which, in Walter Scott’s _Kenilworth_, Wayland Smith
was ejected by Michael Lambourne. The outer path to this postern cuts
through the great bank on which the hall is placed, and which was the
inner boundary of the moat of the older castle, the moat of which was
what is now a hollow space between it and the garden wall. It seems
probable that this great mound of earth was the buhr of the original
Saxon owner. Other authorities, however, suppose that the mound was the
site occupied by the keep.

The postern is a square–headed doorway, and formerly had a portcullis,
but this must have been rather more for show than as able to afford
any special security, as the huge windows of the hall above would have
made the defence of this particular side of the castle a matter of
considerable difficulty.

Cæsar’s Tower, and the block of buildings contiguous to it, are well
seen from the point where the postern gate and passage running under
the Banqueting Hall open upon the inner court.

From the summit of the Strong Tower one has a fine view of the
surrounding country, and also of the gardens, pleasance, and the
remains of the Swan Tower, now almost hidden in ivy and trees, the
bottom stage of which used probably to be anciently used for the
purposes of housing or feeding the swans in the moat.

Immediately next to the Strong Tower is the Great Hall, a magnificent
though sadly ruined example of domestic architecture of the period,
measuring 90 feet by 45 feet. It was originally approached by a broad
straight staircase on its north–eastern side, which led to the portal
or porch resting upon a vault. In this porch, which is vaulted and
groined and beautifully panelled, with the hollows of the mouldings
of the doorway filled with exquisite foliated work, there is a small
recess for the warder or usher. The floor of the hall rested upon the
vaulted roof of a magnificent cellar; the vaulting springing from ten
piers arranged in double rows at equal distances from the walls, and
having corresponding half–pillars against the walls themselves and in
the angles. The lighting of the hall above was from large windows set
in deep splayed recesses, with wide stone window seats, three on the
eastern and four on the western side, each of two lights, divided by
two transoms and richly carved. There are the remains of two large
fireplaces, one on either side of the hall, situated at about one–third
of its length, measuring from the south end; and on the side next to
the inner court is a magnificent oriel, constructed of five sides of
an octagon, and formerly communicating with the dais by an arch, and
containing three large windows of two lights, and a small one.

The roof of this fine hall was of open timbered work, supported by
five hammer beams on each side, the holes for which are still visible
between the windows, the whole building forming a beautiful and very
pure specimen of Early Perpendicular work.

Such is a brief description of all that remains of this once splendid
medieval fortress, which was at the same time a dwelling notable
for its luxurious fittings and the splendid entertainments that so
frequently took place within its walls. Situated almost ideally, it
possesses a wide prospect of fertile lands and wooded vales, over which
in ancient times the Lord of Kenilworth held sway. It is, indeed,
lamentable that this fine castle should have aroused the destructive
propensities of the Cromwellians, and should not have been preserved,
as have happily so many other medieval buildings in the fair county
of Warwick, much as it was when knights and ladies trod its halls in
stately measure or revelry, and strolled on its terraces and through
its pleasances.



CHAPTER VII

LEAMINGTON


Leamington is charmingly situated in the heart of the county, towards
the eastern boundary of the wide amphitheatre of gradually rising hills
of which its sister town of Warwick, distant but two miles from it, is
the centre. The oldest portion of the town is built on the low–lying
ground to the south side of the River Leam, and was in former years
known as the old town. Modern Leamington, on the other hand, which is
so picturesque, and consists of fine villas, well–planned streets and
avenues, lies on the northern side of the river, and has its origin
from the time onwards when the baths were first discovered and turned
to good account by local enterprise.

One of the most conspicuous charms of Leamington is its profusion of
foliage; and close to some of its main streets, and, indeed, bordering
them, are beautiful trees, all of which, from their variety, are seldom
leafless at one and the same time. The modern town at the time of its
inception was far more wisely laid out than was usual in former days,
for it is a place of straight and wide avenues and streets, planned
with almost American precision.

[Illustration: COMPTON WYNYATES.]

To those who have never visited Leamington such a description may
not evoke any visions of beauty, but the regularity which marks the
laying out of the town has been wisely tempered by the preservation and
planting, wherever possible, of rows of elms, lindens, and plane trees,
which not only break up the monotony of streets, but impart to the
town an almost garden–like aspect. Notwithstanding, however, the fact
that in the byroads, streets, and avenues of the residential quarters,
more especially of Milverton and Lillington, grass plats separate
the footpaths from the road, adding materially to the beauty and
distinction of the place, the business quarter is no less business–like
than that of other towns. Nathaniel Hawthorne, the American novelist,
has written enthusiastically of Leamington; and those who have resided
in this beautiful spot all the year round can testify that his
statement, that it is a place of charm which is “always in flower,” is
not far from the truth.

The rise of Leamington has been of considerable rapidity, as until the
end of the eighteenth century it was merely an obscure village, and in
the year 1801 the population was only just over three hundred souls,
and the number of houses but sixty–seven.

Its full tide in former years was Leamington Priors, derived from the
fact that the town is built on the banks of the River Leam, and once
belonged to the priors of Kenilworth. In modern days it has become
known as Leamington Spa, the late Queen Victoria, in memory of a
visit she paid to the place in 1838, giving it the title of the Royal
Leamington Spa.

The town is very unlike in appearance its ancient and more celebrated
neighbour Warwick. In fact, whilst the latter has its chief attraction
in antiquity, Leamington has its chief interest as a modern and
fashionable health resort. It is wrong, however, to suppose that
Leamington has no history, and is as entirely modern as its appearance
would lead one at first sight to presume.

The name of the river upon which it stands is of ancient Celtic
origin, and means the elm–tree or elm–bordered stream, and doubtless
in ancient times it was well–wooded for the greater part of its course
on both banks. There are many Celtic river names to be met with in
Warwickshire, and generally these survivals have indicated an ancient
settlement, or at least camp of the invaders, although as regards
Leamington no traces of one now remain if it ever existed.

The town was in ancient times a portion of the very wide possessions
of Turchill, the last and most powerful of all the Saxon earls of
Warwick. In the Domesday Book the estate is put down as containing two
hides, or about two hundred acres of land, the value of which was £4.
There is also a mention of two mills situated on the stream within its
boundaries. Turchill’s son was robbed of this part of his patrimony,
and it was granted by William the Conqueror to a Norman baron, Roger de
Montgomery, who was afterwards created Earl of Shrewsbury.

In those early days the town, or rather perhaps should we say the
hamlet, known as Leamington underwent great vicissitudes of ownership,
for although Roger de Montgomery’s son Hugh inherited the estates, his
brother Robert, to whom they descended during the reign of William
Rufus, called De Beleseme from the name of a castle which belonged
to him, was declared a traitor, and all his possessions, including
Leamington, were seized, and the latter was given to the Bishop of
Lichfield and Coventry. After a few years the possession of it passed
to Geoffrey de Clinton, and was by him granted to Gilbert Nutricius of
Warwick and his heirs, who held it by the service of half a knight’s
fee. For some reason, however, it speedily reverted to the De Clintons,
and Geoffrey de Clinton, son of the original owner, gave it to the
canon and priors of Kenilworth about the year 1166, in whose possession
it remained until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It remained
the property of the Crown till 1563, when Elizabeth granted it to
Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick. He dying without an heir male, his
title became extinct, and from this period Leamington had many owners,
ultimately coming into the possession of the Earls of Aylesford.

Although Leamington in ancient times had its vicissitudes, there is
little of interest historically concerning it until about the year
1784, when Abbotts made the discovery of a second mineral spring, which
caused attention to be focussed on the medicinal properties of the
Leamington waters. It is doubtless to the discovery of these springs,
and others, may be traced the fact that the town in the first years of
the nineteenth century began to be a place of importance and fashion.
Long before then Camden, Speed, and Dugdale had mentioned prominently
the Leamington Waters; and Fuller in 1662, referring to the same
subject, quaintly observes, “At Leamington, two miles from Warwick,
there issue out, within a stride, [out] of the womb of the earth, two
twin springs, as different in taste and operation as Jacob and Esau
in disposition; the one salt and the other fresh. This the meanest
countryman does plainly see by their effects; while it would puzzle a
consultation of physicians to assign the cause thereof.”

Notwithstanding Fuller’s opinion, medical writers soon began to
publish speculations concerning mineral waters, and upon these very
springs in particular. The earliest pamphleteer upon record was Dr.
Guidot in 1689, and he was succeeded by many others, including Doctors
Allen, Short, Johnson, Kerr, Kirwan, Middleton, and Loudon. It was Dr.
Allen who first settled in the place, and Mr. William Abbotts, who, in
1786, sunk the second well and erected and opened the first baths in
June of the same year. This well was almost in the centre of the old
village. The third spring or the Road Well, is situated on the high
road from Warwick to Daventry and London, and was discovered in 1790.

Leamington was much patronised by those who either were afflicted by
real or fancied ailments, which the waters might be hoped to cure, and
the efforts of Dr. Abbotts did much to popularise the place. In his
endeavour to spread abroad the fame of the place, he was ably seconded
by his friend Benjamin Satchwell, the village poet and shoemaker, who
had had the good fortune, in 1784, to discover the well on a piece of
land in Bath Street.

Referring to the increased importance, size, and prosperity of the
town, Satchwell wrote:—

  If Muster Abbotts had not done,
    His baths of laud and praise;
  It must have been poor Leamington,
    Now, as in former days.

These two men, no doubt, had much to do with the initial stages of the
town’s prosperity, and on the tomb of Satchwell may be traced, but with
difficulty, as the inscription is greatly obliterated:—

    Hail the unassuming tomb,
  Of him who told where health and beauty bloomed;
  Of him whose lengthened life improving ran—
    A blameless, useful, venerable man.

The advocacy of these and other Leamingtonians caused the town to
advance rapidly into public favour, and the discovery of other wells up
till the year 1819 served to provide ample accommodation for bathers
and others, making the place one of the most famous health–resorts in
England.

In these days, indeed, Leamington might well have been called “The Bath
of the Midlands,” for to the town were attracted much the same classes
of invalids and fashionable folk as were drawn to its more famous
Somersetshire prototype; and, indeed, Leamington must have been then
even a gayer and more fashionable town than it is at the present time.

From the Leamington of the last few years of the eighteenth century to
the flourishing town of to–day is, indeed, a far cry. Then, according
to one authority, it was little more than a small sequestered village,
to which the mail–coaches came no nearer than Warwick, and any
letters or parcels for the inhabitants could only be obtained by some
enterprising villager going over to the latter place for them.

And even in the first decade of the nineteenth century Macready, the
great actor, writes thus of the place in his diary. Referring to
Birmingham he says: “The summer months were passed there, diversified
by a short stay at Leamington, then a small village consisting only
of a few thatched houses—not one of them tiled or slated; the Bowling
Green being the only one where very moderate accommodation could be
secured. There was in process of erection a hotel of more pretention,
which I fancy was to be the ‘Dog’ or ‘Greyhound,’ but which had some
months of work to fit it for the reception of guests.”

It was in the year 1819 that the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV.,
visited Leamington from Warwick, where he was staying with the Earl of
Warwick; and three years later the Princess Augusta came to the town
to take a course of the waters, and from that time the place may be
considered to have been firmly established in public favour. Quoting
from a contemporary writer, “where but a few years earlier cattle
grazed undisturbedly, yellow corn waved, and the plough–boy whistled
over the Leam, we now behold with surprise and pleasure extensive
mansions arising as if by magic, and tastefully decorated shops
presenting every Metropolitan article of fashion and convenience.”

Some other famous visitors who came to Leamington in the early years
of the last century were the Princess Victoria, in company with her
mother the Duchess of Kent; and later John Ruskin, who testified to
the benefit derived from a six weeks’ course of the Chalybeate Spring
as follows: “My health is in my own hands, I have gone back to brown
potatoes and cherry pie!”

But Leamington of to–day owes a good deal less of its popularity to
its springs than it does to its beautiful situation, and the fact of
it being such an excellent centre for interesting excursions; whilst
hunting people regard the place as an almost unequalled sporting
district, from the circumstance that a fashionable life can be enjoyed
there in conjunction with hunting six days a week, and the choice of
as many packs. Warwickshire, indeed, has been called the third best
hunting county in England, and Leamington must take even a higher place
as a centre for hunting folk.

One of the prettiest features of this town, distinguished nowadays
for its handsome shops and villas, are the Jephson Gardens, covering
an area of some twenty acres, and situated almost in the centre of
the town, the picturesqueness of which is greatly added to by the
presence of the River Leam skirting them along the southern boundary.
This site was rented to trustees for a period of two thousand years
at a pepper–corn rent (if demanded) by the late Mr. Edward Willes, of
Newbold Comyn, with the stipulation that the ground should never be
built upon. The property, which was then a strip of meadow land, was
taken over by the trustees in May 1846, and was immediately laid out by
them in much its present form.

On the opposite side of the river are the Mill Gardens; and on the same
side of the river and along its western circuit has been laid out a
pretty Victoria Park, with its picturesque New River Walk.

Still farther sylvan promenades are afforded by the Pump Room Gardens.
The grounds are several acres in extent, and are beautifully laid out
with ornamental flower–beds and winding paths; whilst on the side next
to the parade is the famous Linden Avenue, three–quarters of a century
old, and forming one of the finest shady promenades in Leamington, or
indeed in any town of the Midlands.

Of ancient public buildings Leamington has practically none, if one
excepts the reconstructed and much altered Pump Room, once the scene of
so much of the fashionable life of the town.

[Illustration: BURTON DASSETT CHURCH.]

None of the other public buildings, with the exception of the Town
Hall, call for particular notice.

There are not a few literary associations with Leamington, and the
Holly Walk, which is a continuation of Regent Grove, a fine tree–lined
avenue, will always possess an interest for lovers of Dickens from the
fact that here the novelist laid the scene of the first meeting between
Edith Granger and Mr. Carker in _Dombey and Son_. Scarcely a more
picturesque spot than this walk, with its row of fine trees running
down the centre, its grass plats, shady seats, and flower beds, could
be found for a meeting of the kind.

The old Bedford Hotel, which was the scene of one of the famous Jack
Mytton’s most remarkable exploits, when for a wager he rode his mare
upstairs into the dining–room, set her at the large table, which she
cleared, jumping over the heads of his assembled friends, and then
continued her course out of the balcony into the street below, has long
disappeared; doubtless to the regret of all hunting folk and of the
curious sightseer.

Like Hawthorne, those who have visited Leamington carry away with
them pleasant memories of a town which, although owing much to natural
beauty of situation, yet owes also not a little to the intelligence and
foresight of those responsible for its development, who may be said
to have coaxed rather than coerced Nature in their efforts to make
the spot one of uncommon rural and urban attractiveness, whilst still
mindful of the demands of exigent moderns.



CHAPTER VIII

THE STORY OF BIRMINGHAM


The city of Birmingham has been sung by a local poet as follows:—

  Illustrious off–spring of Vulcanic toil!
  Pride of the country! Glory of the Isle!
  Europe’s grand toy shop! arts’ exhaustive mine
  These, and more titles, Birmingham, are thine.
  From jealous fears, from chartered fetters free,
  Desponding genius finds a friend in thee;
  Thy soul as liberal as the breath of Spring,
  Cheers his faint heart and plumes his flagging wing.

But, nevertheless, it presents more of a prosaic and commercial than a
romantic attraction for a writer.

The derivation of the name has not yet been satisfactorily arrived at,
and by even its most accurate and painstaking historian is considered
“too remote for explanation.” Aided by the erratic spelling of former
times, during the last four centuries alone there have been eight
modes of spelling it,—Burmyngham, Bermyngham, Byrmyngham, Bermyngeham,
Brumychcham, Bromycham, Bromicham, and lastly the more modern and
generally accepted Birmingham. The curious, however, may be set yet
a greater puzzle of selective ingenuity, as from different authors,
documents, records, and papers it is possible to find upwards of a
hundred additional methods of spelling the name of the town which is
popularly known as “the capital of the Midlands.”

Of the eight ways we have enumerated in detail two alone have been in
a measure satisfactorily accounted for; one deriving its origin from a
family, and the other from the situation of the town. Early inhabitants
and even mere settlers of a place in almost every country of the world
were in the habit of describing in their place–names, the mountain,
lake and valley, the moorland and the heath, and also the character,
situation, and size of these; and villages, towns, and cities which
grew up afterwards in these situations were frequently given names
which in a measure described or perpetuated some place or object in
their immediate vicinity, or the actual spot where they were founded.

Dugdale, the historian, is inclined to believe that Birmingham, or
Bromwycham, was a name given by a Saxon owner or settler. In this
regard he says, “The appellation need not be doubted; the last part of
it, viz. ‘ham,’ denoting a home or dwelling, and the former manifesting
itself to be a proper name.”

Hutton, on the other hand, is inclined to make it of an even more
ancient date, and argues that “Brom,” derived possibly from the broom,
a shrub growing freely in the soil of the district, and “wych,”
signifying a dwelling, constituted its original name Bromwych. He
finds, moreover, some confirmation of his opinion from the names of two
other towns in the immediate neighbourhood, West Bromwych and Castle
Bromwych; the terminal “ham,” he argues, being subsequently added, and
up till the time of the Saxon Heptarchy the spot retained its full
name, “Bromwycham.” This argument, however, in reality seems to support
Dugdale’s idea concerning the derivation of the name, as all three
portions of it are of Saxon origin. The alteration locally to Bromicham
was only a contraction, which continued in use down till the eighteenth
century, and indeed is to be traced in the pronunciation of the word
as “Brumijum” by some locals even at the present day. It would appear,
however, that it is more than possible, whatever its ancient name may
have been, and whatever its derivation, that the present–day name
“Birmingham” was given to the place from the owner of the estate rather
than the owner taking his name from it.

This latter view has been borne out by modern research, and it has
been now generally admitted that a family or tribe called “Beorm” or
“Berm” gave the place its early Saxon name. More than six centuries
ago, indeed, and for a period lasting four centuries, we find the
name of De Bermingham as lords of the fee. The first was a Peter de
Bermingham, who in the reign of Henry II. in 1154 had a castle here,
and lived in considerable splendour. Here all succeeding members of the
family dwelt until the Duke of Northumberland ousted them in 1537, and
with their ejectment the castle soon fell into ruins and disappeared,
although as late as 1816 a moat and some traces of the walls remained.

In the days of Edward the Confessor the town probably formed part of
the possessions of Ulwin, generally identified with the Alwyne whose
son Turchill founded the Warwickshire family of Arden, of whom the
mother of Shakespeare was a descendant. There is no doubt that the
place was of considerable importance in Saxon times, as proof exists of
the holding of a market there prior to the Conquest.

Although there is no mention in the Domesday Book of any church at
that date, during the rebuilding of St. Martin’s in 1562, some early
stone–work, evidently belonging to a former building and pointing
to the existence of a church dating from before the Conquest, was
discovered. Fairs were certainly held very early in Birmingham’s
existence as a town, and in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, is a curious
MS. map dating from the last years of the thirteenth century, with
a church clearly indicated, in addition to a considerable number of
houses. On this map, where the name is given as “Brymingha,” many
neighbouring towns of traditionally greater importance at that period
are not even marked, and neither Coventry nor Warwick are named.

It would thus appear that in medieval times, although Birmingham must
have been a small town it was also a flourishing one, with a market for
country produce, cattle, hides, etc., which was visited not only by
local traders but by those of adjoining and even distant counties.

In 1382 the Guild of the Holy Cross was founded to maintain two priests
at St. Martin’s Church, and was ten years later made a Fraternity
of men and women under the name of “the Bailiffe and Communalite of
Birmingham and other adjacent places for a Chantrie of Priestes, and
services in the Church for the souls of the Founders and all the
Fraternitie.” It also had other and more secular objects. In the year
1545 the lands belonging to it were seized by the Crown, and five years
afterwards were given by Edward VI. for the “Free Grammar School of
King Edward the Sixth, for the Education and Instruction of Children
in Grammar for ever.” The property so arbitrarily acquired was thus
in the end devoted to a useful purpose. At that time it was valued at
£31 : 2 : 10, and this formed the endowment fund of the famous school,
the income of which at the close of 1880 amounted to the large sum of
nearly £22,000, and is now computed to be almost £50,000.

The manor–house and seat of the De Berminghams, not a trace of which
now remains, was situated within a few yards of St. Martin’s Church,
and a little to the west of Digbeth, the site now being occupied by the
prosaic cattle–market of large extent.

Leland speaks of the town at the time of his visit, which took place
in 1538, thus: “The beauty of Birmingham, a good markett towne in the
extreame parts of Warwickshire, is one streete going up alonge almost
from the left rype (bank) of the brook, up a meane hill, by the length
of a quarter of a mile. I saw but one Paroche Church in the towne.”

Camden, who visited Birmingham some half century later, writes of it
as “full of inhabitants, and resounding with hammers and anvils, for
the most of them are smiths.” “The lower part” (of the town), he adds,
“standeth very waterish; the upper riseth with faire buildings.”

Some authorities seem to infer that Birmingham was not noted for its
metal works until a comparatively recent period, but Leland states:
“There be many smithes in the town that used to make knives and all
mannour of cutting tooles, and many loriners that make bittes and a
great many naylors. Soe that a great part of the town is maintained by
smithes whoe have their iron and seacole out of Staffordshire.”

Hutton, Birmingham’s most famous and completest historian of the past,
claims for this city, whose rise has been so phenomenal during the last
half century, that history proves its progress has been continuous,
and that the town has never suffered a decline. But, of course, during
the centuries before Charles II. it was slow, and only notable in
comparison with that of other places.

Although the town in Leland’s day is spoken of as having its chief
beauty in “one streete going up alonge from the left of the brook, up
a meane hill, by the length of a quarter of a mile,” and could have
then been but a comparatively small village, Hutton argues that even
in the days of the ancient Britons the smiths of Birmingham supplied
implements of war and husbandry. It may even be possible, according to
this historian, that the scythes fixed to Boadicea’s chariot wheels
had their genesis at a Birmingham forge. In support of this theory he
quotes that “upon the borders of Aston parish stands Aston furnace,
appropriated for melting iron–stone, and reducing it into ‘pigs’; this
has the appearance of great antiquity. From the melting ore in this
subterraneous region of infernal aspect is produced a calx, or cinder,
of which there is an enormous mountain. From an attentive survey the
observer would suppose so prodigious a heap could not accumulate in a
hundred generations; however, it shows no perceptible addition in the
age of man.”

[Illustration: LITTLE WOLFORD MANOR–HOUSE.]

Before Birmingham became famous for its manufactures it was known
for the great number of tanners resident there; and the hides which
furnished a supply for the rest of the county were laid out in the High
Street in piles on fine days; and in wet weather were deposited in the
Leather Hall. This Leather Market was identified with Birmingham in the
tenth or eleventh century, and continued until the beginning of the
eighteenth century; and it was in this ‘High’ or main street that early
settlers manufactured coarse ironware, nails, and similar articles.
Hutton is inclined to believe that in quite ancient times carpenters’
tools as well as spades, forks, and other implements of husbandry were
made here; and that the worn hollow ways in the roads that proceeded
from Birmingham form additional evidence of the town’s antiquity and
commercial importance. He goes on to observe concerning these rutted
roads, “Though modern industry, assisted by various Turn–pike Acts,
has widened the upper part and filled up the lower, yet they were all
visible in the days of our fathers, and are traceable even in ours.”

This painstaking historian places the ancient centre of the town at
Old Cross from the number of streets which lead towards it, and the
fact of the position of St. Martin’s Church. It is difficult, indeed,
when contemplating modern Birmingham with its fine streets, magnificent
public buildings, and general appearance of wealth, industry, and
prosperity, to realise that the ancient houses were of a type similar
to those at Shrewsbury and Chester. Built principally of timber, with
the space between the beams wattled and plastered over with mortar;
others of slightly more recent date being of bricks and plaster.

The first streets that were paved are said to have been High Street,
the Bull Ring, Corn Cheaping, Digbeth, St. Martin’s Lane, Egbaston
Street, Moat Lane, Spiceal Street, and part of Moor Street, and the
streets where the fairs were held. These formed the boundaries of the
town in the thirteenth century; and from this period onwards there was
a distinct and gradual increase of area and also of improvements of an
uninterrupted character.

The most stirring event in the history of Birmingham itself was the
attack made upon it by Prince Rupert on April 5, 1643, during the Civil
War. It created an immense amount of additional antagonism towards the
Cavaliers on the part of the inhabitants, whose sympathies from the
outset of the quarrel between King and Parliament had been with the
latter.

The town was at that period but a small one of about 6000 inhabitants.
But it had caused the King’s party much trouble by having on several
occasions intercepted messengers between the scattered Royalist forces.
These messengers were sent to Coventry and imprisoned. Prince Rupert’s
attack was chiefly prompted by two reasons: the desire for plunder and
the intention to frustrate the completion of the fortifications and
earthworks the inhabitants had commenced. He apparently anticipated
only slight resistance.

The attack was commenced between two and three in the afternoon; two
assaults were repulsed, but eventually the Royalist horse forced an
entry. The Cavaliers rode through the town, with the Earl of Denbigh at
their head, “like so many furies.” People were shot at their windows,
at their doors, and in the streets. Having possessed themselves of the
town the Royalists commenced to pillage it. Next day on leaving the
town they set fire to it in many places.

The effect of all this harshness naturally was to make the Birmingham
folk even more Parliamentarian than before.

The history of Birmingham appears to have been uneventful for more
than twenty years after the memorable visit of Prince Rupert and his
Cavaliers. And the next happening of any great moment was the outbreak
of the plague in 1665, which was said to have been brought to the town
in a box of clothes by a carrier, which he deposited at the White Hart
Inn. The visitation seems to have been a severe one, for it was found
impossible to inter the victims in the usual burying–ground, and a full
acre of land was set aside at Lady Wood Green (known for many years
after as the “pest” ground) for the reception of those who had died of
the plague. The town soon, however, appears to have recovered from this
misfortune, and made, during the ensuing years, from the time of the
Restoration to the commencement of the eighteenth century, a period of
forty years, a progress which can scarcely be considered as otherwise
than remarkable, demonstrated by figures given by Hutton, the accuracy
of which has never been impuned.

At the Restoration the number of streets appears to have been fifteen,
though all were not complete; whilst there were some 907 houses and
5472 inhabitants. In the year 1700 the streets had increased in number
to 28, the houses to 2504, and the inhabitants to 15,032. Thirty–one
years later the streets had doubled, the houses had nearly doubled, and
the inhabitants had increased almost in the same proportion; whilst
at the commencement of the last decade of the eighteenth century the
streets had quadrupled from the last figures, the houses had done the
same, and the inhabitants had increased in like ratio.

But only ten years later Birmingham saw one of the few periods of
temporary decline, when, owing to the stagnation in trade, consequent
upon the French war, the population decreased nearly 4000; and the
entry of many younger men of Birmingham into the army, and the exodus
of masters and journeymen, left upwards of 1500 houses uninhabited.
Notwithstanding the set–back caused by the war, only seven years later
there was a distinct revival and reaction, and nearly 2000 additional
houses were erected, with an increase of population more than
sufficient to occupy them, as well as all the other houses which had
fallen vacant.

In the latter half of the seventeenth century Birmingham made
remarkable strides, and during this period sprang up an increasing
demand for many of the articles manufactured there, and the firearm
trade soon became a very important and lucrative one. Hampered by no
charters or ancient Corporative customs, the town attracted to itself
reformers of all kinds, and also skilled workmen, drawn hither by the
freedom of manufacture which existed. The iniquitous “Five Mile” and
similar Acts had served to drive many wealthy and able men out of
corporate towns. In Birmingham these found a “city of refuge,” with
fewer restrictions; and with their coming the industrial energy and
initiative of the town was greatly and speedily increased. During the
eighteenth century these forces were continuously at work, and in the
latter half the fullest development was attained and manufactures of
all kinds, including iron, hardware, brass, steel, and other articles
became wonderfully advanced.

Not a little of this prosperity was undoubtedly directly traceable to
the practice which obtained of letting large portions of land at low
ground rents and on long leases; thereby giving notable encouragement
to the erection of buildings, both residential and commercial, in the
centre of the town and in the contiguous suburbs.

Quite early in the century cotton spinning by machinery had been
introduced and tried by Lewis Paul and John Wyatt, and somewhere
about 1780 a cotton mill was built, but only to prove an unsuccessful
experiment, afterwards to be converted into one for metal rolling.

One of the truly great events in the history of Birmingham of this
period—nay, of any period—was the foundation by Matthew Boulton of
the famous Soho works in 1763. He possessed unbounded enterprise,
enthusiasm, and taste, and his original business in Birmingham itself
as a “toy–maker,” manufacturing sword–hilts, buckles, brooches, and
other ornaments, increased rapidly, and he was compelled to transfer
it to larger and better premises. It was to Boulton that James Watt
ultimately came in despair at not being able to get his newly invented
steam–engine well and carefully made. As events proved, he had come
to the right man, and an engine factory, from which the whole world
was eventually supplied, was speedily erected. The partnership lasted
many years; Boulton, who was a skilled mechanic, was also, above all,
a good business man—which Watt was not—and but for him it is more than
probable that the inventor would have failed to attain either practical
or financial success and recognition.

Of this great workshop of Soho, one of the greatest early factors in
Birmingham’s ultimate triumph as a manufacturing and industrial centre,
Boulton is reputed to have said, “I supply here what all the world
desires to have—Power.” And the founder of Soho, through stormy and
even occasionally dangerous times, doggedly persevered, and by great
powers of initiative and control secured for himself and for Watt large
fortunes, and did much to assist in the general and speedy progress of
the town by the invention of machinery and the practical application of
the “new power.”

But Boulton, who has left so deep a mark upon Birmingham history of his
time, was by no means a mere ingenious manufacturer and good business
man. He was a magnetic and personal force, which gathered around him
and attracted to Soho from all parts of the world men of genius,
scientists, and others. The “Soho circle” or “Lunar Club,” called the
latter from the fact that it met only when there was a full moon, on
account of the ill–lit and dangerous condition of the streets, was one
of the most famous institutions of its kind of the age, and, indeed,
probably of any succeeding age.

To his house at one time or another came many men destined to prove
famous or who were already so. Dr. Darwin; William Murdock, the
inventor of—amongst other things—gas–lighting for houses; Priestly,
with his keen brain and recent discoveries; John Baskerville, with his
type, paper, and printing, which “astonished the Librarians of Europe”;
Dr. Withering, the noted botanist; Joseph Berington, the Roman Catholic
historian; and many others who brightened and made notable what may
fairly be called “the golden age” of Birmingham’s eighteenth–century
progress, and who were the initiators of the advances made in after
years.

The great Soho works, in the history of which is, in fact, enshrined
much of that relating to the early days of engineering, have passed
away; the engine factory having been removed to Smethwick in 1848,
after the death of James Watt, the son of the inventor. The site on
which Boulton’s house stood is now occupied by streets and terraces of
unromantic houses. But the memory of Soho lingers in the name of an
open space, and in that of streets and roads.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the desire to modernise
Birmingham and to erect buildings with some pretension to architectural
beauty seemed to have concerned the inhabitants, and we read, the
town “is daily improving in the style of her buildings; there are now
architects of the first eminence in the town, and others rapidly rising
into notice.”

The progress of Birmingham during the latter half of the nineteenth
century has been wonderfully steady and marked.

Of the ancient town there are nowadays scarcely any survivals;
certainly few buildings of any public character, although “the mansion
house of tymber” which Leland saw and specially mentioned, still
remains in the guise of the “Old Crown Inn,” with several other quaint,
timbered houses in the district of Deritend.

In the old Bull Ring, an historic spot used in former times for the
sport of bull baiting, stands St. Martin’s Church, the most notable
and authentic building in Birmingham, for the modern building erected
in 1872–75, at the cost of a sum of nearly £30,000, stands on the site
of a Norman church of undoubted antiquity. In this ancient fabric,
during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, many additions and
alterations were effected, and the walls of the old church were
formerly plentifully adorned with frescoes, representing amongst other
scenes St. Martin on horseback giving part of his cloak to a beggar.

Nowadays the only portion of the old church still standing is in the
tower, but there are some fine altar tombs with recumbent figures of
the old lords of Birmingham in the chancel. One is believed to be that
of the third William de Bermingham, who was at the siege of Belgrade in
France in 1297, and was taken prisoner there. There are also many other
interesting and important memorials, and some extremely fine modern
stained glass by the late William Morris.

[Illustration: LONG COMPTON.]

St. Philip’s Church, which occupies a fine site fronting on Colmore
Row, has an importance other than its architecture from the fact that
it is now the pro–Cathedral. Finely situated, this handsome building
has an added grace and importance from its elevated and isolated
position. The church stands upon ground which was originally part of
a farm called Horse Close, afterwards Barley Close, and the land was
given by one Robert Phillips and the church named after the saint and
also the founder. It was commenced in 1711 from designs by Thomas
Archer, a pupil of John Vanbrugh, who was also the architect for the
church of St. John, at Westminster. The building was consecrated in
1715, although not finished till four years later. It is said to have
cost only £5000.

The church of St. John at Deritend possesses a somewhat remarkable
history. It is a chapel in the parish of Aston, and was the one
referred to by Leland as “a propper chappel” in 1538. At that date
it was a picturesque and interesting Early English building, which
unhappily was demolished about a century ago, and re–erected in the
form of an uninspiring structure of Georgian plainness in brick.
It contains the bust of John Rogers, a native of the district, who
was the first martyr in the days of the Marian persecution. The
original church was founded in 1375 by thirteen persons, who had found
themselves on many occasions unable to reach the mother church at Aston
owing to floods. These provided between them a handsome endowment in
lands, worth at that time ten marks (about £6 : 13 : 4, and nowadays
some £450), the original Charter and Licence in Mortmain are in the
Reference section of the Public Library, and bear dates 1381 and 1383.

The chaplain was formerly strangely elected by household suffrage, both
men and women voting. The last election was in 1889, when a fierce
contest was waged and continued for over a month in thoroughgoing
electioneering style, ultimately thinning out the candidates to two in
number, who went to the final poll, which lasted a day.

Roman Catholicism has a strong following in the city, and the Roman
Catholic Cathedral, dedicated to St. Chad, a seventh–century Bishop
of Lichfield, is a large and handsome though modern building. Erected
from designs by A. W. Pugin in 1839–41 in the Decorated style, it
forms one of the principal churches of Birmingham. In it are some fine
modern stained glass; a sixteenth–century carved oak pulpit brought
from Louvain; and the remains of its dedicatory saint, which are
traditionally stated to have been removed from Lichfield Cathedral at
the time of the Reformation, and more or less miraculously preserved,
and ultimately brought here.

The new era of the town’s history, progress, and wealth began in 1875,
when the late Joseph Chamberlain was elected Mayor.

It is impossible in so brief a sketch as is possible within the
scope of the present volume to deal in detail with the many reforms,
the growth and commercial expansion which the last forty years have
brought about. Birmingham of to–day, with its magnificent Town Hall,
Council House, Museum, and Art Gallery, containing some notable modern
as well as older pictures, and a fine collection of the work of the
pre–Raphaelite School; Free Library; Mason University College; Great
Western Arcade; Midland Institute; Edward VI.’s Grammar School, the
ancient foundation nowadays housed in a modern building by Sir Charles
Barry, R.A., in the Tudor style; Bluecoat School, founded in 1727
for the education of orphans of both sexes; and many other important
commercial, educational, and social institutions, and its fine parks,
may be said to represent a modern city of unique convenience and
considerable structural beauty.

Birmingham, too, has not been without generous benefactors, to whom it
owes a debt not easily repaid. To all who know anything of the city’s
history the names of the Rylands, Jaffray, Tangye, Feeny, and Colmore
families will at once occur.

About modern Birmingham there is indeed a spaciousness and air of
modernity which strikes the visitor almost from the first moment of
his introduction to the town; and although essentially a trade centre,
there certainly hangs about this city, which has owed in later years so
much to the energy, wisdom, and enterprise of such men as John Thackray
Bunce, Joseph Chamberlain, Josiah Mason, George Dawson, George Tangye,
Samuel Timmins, and Philip Henry Muntz, a certain element of even
romantic interest, which, however, is that attaching to modern industry
rather than to survivals of ancient greatness.

Naturally so great an industrial centre as Birmingham played a great
and even distinguished part in the Great War. Very early in the
struggle the city became one of the most important munitions centres
in the Kingdom. Situated in the heart of England, and far distant from
the sea coast, it seemed peculiarly suited for the site of a great
national arsenal, quite irrespective of the fact that for many years
the manufacture of guns and other weapons of war had formed a part of
its most prosperous industrial life.

Although Zeppelins in several of their wanderings over the face of
England, intent upon inflicting injury upon this home of war–time
industry, are reported to have hovered over Birmingham, no considerable
material damage resulted.

Within a very short time of Mr. Lloyd George assuming the reins
of Government and the responsibility for the supply of the vast
quantities of munitions which were found necessary for an energetic and
successful prosecution of the war to final victory, Birmingham became
one immense area of feverish war activity. Factories which in times of
peace were employed in the production of agricultural implements for
use throughout the world; the making of “Birmingham” jewellery; the
provision of “trade” articles for barter with the uncivilised tribes of
Central Africa, New Guinea, the South Seas, and elsewhere were speedily
adapted for the more sinister purposes of the great conflict in which
almost the whole of the civilised world found itself gradually becoming
more or less directly involved.

Birmingham was engaged in beating its ploughshares into machine–guns,
and its reaping hooks into bayonets, an inversion of the Biblical dream
picture of the arts of peace.

Munitions were turned out in such vast quantities that the human mind
cannot grasp their sum. Small arms ammunition by the thousand million
rounds, shells in their millions, machine–guns in their thousands,
and materials raw and otherwise of all kinds for munitions of war and
clothing poured constantly from the factories of the city.

A darkened city it was!

But behind shuttered and curtained windows there was all the time
unceasing work, the colossal output was maintained, and the titanic
struggle of human brains, sinews, muscles, and sheer endurance went on.

In a word, Birmingham took its place among the foremost cities of
sacrifice in the Empire she played so great a part to save.

The appeal to her manhood, her womanhood, her patriotism was never
made in vain, whether it was for munitions made by tens of thousands
of tons, or for money with which to assist national finance by way of
munificent subscriptions to Loans, and the purchase of many hundreds of
thousands of War Savings Certificates.

And the records of Birmingham men, in the Warwickshire and other
regiments which covered themselves with “an eternal weight of glory” in
the field, will form a noble page in national history as long as time
endures.



CHAPTER IX

THE STORY OF SOME ANCIENT MANOR–HOUSES—BADDESLEY CLINTON—PACKINGTON OLD
HALL—MAXSTOKE CASTLE—ASTLEY CASTLE


In the north–western portion of the county lies a group of historic
houses and churches which present many unique features. One of the
most interesting of these, distant some seven miles from Warwick
and situated amidst lovely scenery, is Baddesley Clinton, a typical
old moated manor–house, such as a few years ago was associated in
Christmastide publications with stories of ghosts and midnight
villainy. This exquisite survival of ancient domestic architecture
is a low–built house with grey stone walls, timbered gables, and
battlemented parapets. It forms an unusually fine specimen of the old
fortified manorial dwellings dating from the fifteenth century, and
nowadays, alas! becoming fewer and fewer by reason of destruction by
fire or the exigencies of the times.

During its early history the manor appears to have had several owners.
From the middle of the thirteenth century, for a period of about a
hundred years, it belonged to the Clinton family of Coleshill, becoming
in the last years of the fifteenth century the property of one Nicholas
Brome, at whose death it passed in 1517 to his daughter and co–heiress,
Constantia, who had married in 1497 Sir Edward Ferrers, a grandson of
William Lord Ferrers of Groby, in which family the estates have ever
since remained. It is the boast of the family that their ancestry came
over with the Conqueror, and there is little doubt that the boast is no
idle one.

The Ferrers family of Baddesley Clinton are descended from the second
son of the Earl who met his death so unromantically on the bridge at
St. Neots; Groby passing into the hands of the Greys. A younger son of
the Ferrers of Tamworth was the father of Sir Edward Ferrers, who by
marriage with Constance Brome became the possessor of Baddesley Clinton.

During the Civil War Baddesley Clinton, although its owners appear
to have sided neither with the King nor the Parliament, was plundered
by the forces of the latter; and in a MS. of the period one finds a
statement of some of the booty which was acquired by the Roundheads.
This included a grey and a bright bay horse, which were led away by the
troopers, one of them with a rich plush saddle trimmed round about the
skirts with gold lace and gold fringe; arms and armour; gunpowder; cash
taken from a desk; a Geneva Bible, and even the linen from the drying
room! But the family appear to have succeeded in maintaining their
neutral attitude, and at the Restoration were still in quiet enjoyment
of their estates; which, however, had become smaller, and from the fact
of their fidelity to Roman Catholicism were little likely in succeeding
centuries to be added to.

The last squire of the line was Marmion Edward Ferrers, a noted
antiquarian who lived quietly at Baddesley Clinton, and died leaving no
heir; his widow married a second time Edward Heneage Dearing, Esq., the
present owner of the property.

As was the case with most manor–houses of ancient times, and more
especially with those belonging to Catholic families, there were
several secret hiding–places at Baddesley Clinton, constructed
for the salvation of the ministering Romish priests, or for other
fugitives in times of need. Near the chapel is a well–like shaft of
stone, formerly provided with steps or projecting stones, by means of
which a fugitive was able to reach a secret passage extending round
nearly the whole length of two sides of the house, and giving access
to a small water–gate opening on the moat, at which a boat was kept
at hand for use in cases of emergency. On the eastern side of the
building adjoining the banqueting room is a secret chamber some six
feet square, which has a bench running round it. This of recent years
has been walled up, but the narrow staircase leading to it behind the
wainscoting remains in its original condition.

There are probably other chambers in this ancient building, the
existence of which may possibly at some future time be diescovered
quite by accident, as have so many other hiding–places in similar
houses throughout the country.

[Illustration: ANNE HATHAWAY’S COTTAGE.]

The house, one of the most ancient in Warwickshire, is approached by
a brick bridge of two arches crossing the moat, and the entrance is
through an archway under an embattled tower, which although giving
a distinction to this, the north–eastern front of the building, is
apparently of no great age. The door is an ancient one, studded thickly
with iron bolts, guarding the house at the inner end of the bridge; the
stabling being at the outer end and separate from the house.

The building within the bounds of the moat forms three sides of a
quadrangle, which encloses a quaint garden with paths running between
close–mown turf and clipped yew bushes. The old mansion is rich in
beautiful panelled rooms and wonderful carved mantelpieces. On the
left–hand side of the entrance to the house itself is an anteroom
leading to the great Hall. In this beautiful oak–panelled chamber is
an unusually handsome Renaissance fireplace of carved stone, dating
from the middle of the seventeenth century, and ornamented with seven
shields of the family arms painted on the stone–work, the last shield
commemorating the marriage of Edward Ferrers and Ann Peyto in 1611. The
chief features of the room, however, are the heraldic devices of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries which adorn the windows; an old
seventeenth century cabinet of quaint design, the front of which is
divided into twenty small panels and ornamented with groups of cupids,
nymphs, and satyrs; several dower chests; and a silver twisted horn,
traditionally stated to date from the year 1400, and to have been
presented to the Lord de Ferrers of that time by the French Ambassador
at the Court of King Henry IV. There is also an interesting leather
bottle fished out of the moat a few years ago; and an old buff leather
coat which may have been a relic of the unwelcome visitation made by
the Parliamentarians during the Civil War.

The drawing–room is panelled oak and has oaken benches in the recesses
of the window, and is rendered notable by the large carved oak
fireplace, which is ornamented by the arms of the Ferrers of Groby. In
this room, too, is a fine portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh, attributed by
several authorities to Marc Garrard.

In the southern angle of the hall is a handsome staircase leading to
the enclosed gallery running round the inner part of three sides of the
house, and giving access to the upper story rooms.

The State bedroom, which contains a very fine and elaborately carved
chimney–piece, reaching from the floor to the ceiling, is on the left
of the staircase, and this room is finely panelled in oak, as are so
many of the others of this most interesting house.

In the Oratory or domestic chapel of the house is a most curious and
interesting Flemish Sanctus bell, dating from 1555, and having on it a
small incised female effigy, supposed to represent the wife or daughter
of Nicholas Brome; there is also an inscription, IHESVS ES MINEN NAEM.

The banqueting hall of the house is situated over the gateway, and is
a fine room lighted by a mullioned window, and containing some good
and very ancient oak carving and panelling, and also some beautiful
tapestry. Unfortunately the high pitched roof of open timber–work has
been covered by a plaster ceiling.

A touch of romance still hangs about the adjoining room, which is the
library, but is traditionally known as the “Ghost Room,” and was in
former times popularly supposed to be haunted, possibly by the spirit
of Nicholas Brome or that of the parish priest he found, according to
Dugdale, “chocking his wife under the chin, whereat he was so enraged
that he presently kil’d him.” For this offence the murderer had to
obtain the King’s pardon and also the Pope’s, who enjoined him to do
something towards expiation of his crime. In pursuance of this mandate
he built the “tower–steeple,” and bought three bells for it, as well as
carrying out other additions and alterations to the thirteenth–century
church of Baddesley.

In the church are many monuments of the Bromes and Ferrers, and also
some beautiful and ancient stained glass in the east window. In
connection with the manor of Baddesley Clinton there is an interesting
entry in the Manor Rolls, recording that the Shakespeare family held
lands in Baddesley as early as 1389, and it is possible that these were
the remote ancestors of the poet himself.

It seems not improbable that much of the oak panelling and most of the
carved mantelpieces in the house were placed there by Edward Ferrers,
son of the antiquarian, about the middle of the seventeenth century,
or perhaps rather earlier. The decorations within the house make
plain for the student of architecture, and to the eyes of the skilled
antiquarian, the three chief periods of its history. The outer walls
are those of the ancient home of the Bromes, as it came into possession
of the Ferrers family; but inside the house are many evidences of
the money spent in its fittings and beautifying by Edward Ferrers
towards the middle part of the seventeenth century. Then there is the
last period, comprising the black and white timber–work and other
restorations carried out by Captain Dering, who found on his accession
to the property the building suffering from the ravages of both age and
neglect.

Few manor–houses in Warwickshire possess greater charms than Baddesley
Clinton, and the views from the upper windows into the ivy–covered
courtyard, with its wealth of flower–beds and blossom, are charming to
a degree.

Some eight miles north–east of Baddesley Clinton, through a stretch of
pretty country, lies Packington Park, famous for its ancient oaks, and
made unusually picturesque by the presence of its sheets of ornamental
water. Packington Hall is now the seat of the Earl of Aylesford, a
substantial building, set amid a pleasant park, built by Sir Clement
Fisher in 1693, and enlarged and faced with stone three–quarters of a
century later. About a mile to the north–east of Maxstoke Priory lies
Maxstoke Castle, surrounded by fine trees, so retired that its very
existence might be unsuspected by those who pass along the road at the
foot of the avenue.

Few houses in England can be exactly compared with this wonderfully
preserved survival of medieval times, which is set in so picturesque
a position, surrounded by trees of a deer park of considerable size.
All who have visited Maxstoke are agreed concerning the almost unique
interest that this ancient fortified residence possesses for students
of architecture and of the manners and customs of past ages. In
Maxstoke, indeed, there is little to break the medieval spell which
seems to hang so closely about its time–worn walls, and be so in
keeping with its retired situation. As one approaches it by the fine
avenue of elms leading, for the last portion of it, in a straight
line to the gate–house and bridge, one almost, indeed, expects to see
watchers upon the twin towers, and to find one’s ingress barred by
closely–shut doors and lowered portcullis.

A beautiful survival of a past age, now the residence of the Tangye
family, whose name is so intimately connected with the neighbouring
city of Birmingham, the house has been closely identified with many
historic names and strenuous deeds of English history.

It dates from the period when the great and strongly fortified
castles—more fortresses, indeed, than residences—were giving place to
dwelling–houses, well–defended, it is true, but which, though still
protected by walls, towers, and even drawbridges and portcullises, were
yet an indication of the change bound to come when such defences became
unnecessary.

The foundations of the Castle, which is completely enclosed within
an embattled _enceinte_, and is protected by a deep and broad moat
and defended by strong angle towers, were laid by William de Clinton
under a licence from Edward III. in 1345. The great entrance, a
survival of the old barbican, is beneath or rather between two tall
and formidable towers; the ancient drawbridge having been replaced by
a stone bridge crossing the moat, and leading from the avenue of elms
to the courtyard. But although both drawbridge and portcullis are gone,
the grooves in which the latter was lowered still remain, as do the
ancient oaken doors scarred by the weather of centuries, and perhaps
by evidences of attack. The Castle itself lies in one of the most
beautiful districts of England, almost midway between Birmingham and
Coventry.

At Maxstoke in ancient times resided a family of the name of
Oddingsells, who were evidently of great importance in the district, as
they possessed all the feudal privileges of gallows and tumbril, and
assay of bread and beer. Edmund Oddingsells, who died without issue in
Edward I.’s reign, had, however, several sisters, to whom he left his
property; Ida the eldest having Maxstoke for her share, which passed to
John de Clinton on her marriage with him.

This John de Clinton was one of the great barons of his time, and
he accompanied Edward I. on his invasion of Scotland in 1296, and
for his assistance had conferred on him some of the possessions of
Malcolm Drummond. Thus it is seen Maxstoke in very early times became
identified with the doings of men who played a conspicuous part in
the affairs of their country. The mother of Ida, the wife of John de
Clinton, was Elizabeth, daughter of the famous William Longespée, Earl
of Salisbury. John de Clinton left two sons, the second of whom was the
builder of the castle in its present form, although there undoubtedly
was an older house standing on the site, of which some fragments have
been discovered incorporated into the base of the existing building.

William de Clinton was a man of note, for he held the office of
Justice of Chester, Constable of Dover Castle, Warden of the Cinque
Ports, and Admiral of the Western Seas. He also had the custody of the
King’s forests from the Trent southward; and in 1337 was made Earl
of Huntingdon. By his will, dated 1354, the Castle was left to his
nephew, a Sir John de Clinton, for whom he appears to have designed
it. This John de Clinton was the son of his elder brother John, and
was, therefore, the grandson of the first possessor of Maxstoke of
the Clinton line. The family were barons by writ, and the new owner
was a soldier, who had fought through the French war, and was present
at Poitiers and other battles, and was also at one time Constable of
Windsor Castle. His grandson, who succeeded him, was known as Lord Say,
his mother, the first wife of Sir John de Clinton, having been Idonia,
the sister and heiress of William de Say.

Lord Say was, like his grandfather, a soldier, and proved a great
benefactor to Maxstoke Priory. He was succeeded by his son, another
John, who in 1437 exchanged the castle with Humphrey, Earl of Stafford,
for other manors in Northamptonshire, the reason for which exchange is
not known.

The last of the De Clintons of Maxstoke was also a soldier, who had
the misfortune to be captured in the French war and to suffer a long
term of imprisonment. Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, the new owner of
Maxstoke, who was made a Knight of the Garter in 1429, and was created
Duke of Buckingham in 1444, was Lieutenant Governor of Normandy and
Calais, and Ambassador to France. He had also another distinction
conferred upon him, that of precedence before all other Dukes who might
thenceforward be created, excepting only descendants of the King.
He was a warm supporter of the Lancastrian cause and, owing to his
marriage with Margaret Beaufort, daughter and heiress of Edmund Duke
of Somerset, was related to the Royal House. He fell at the battle
of Northampton, July 10, 1460, when leading the Lancastrian forces,
one of his sons having been killed at the battle of St. Albans five
years previously; and he proved on his death a great benefactor to the
destitute poor, some of whom he directed should carry tapers at his
funeral, and pray for the repose of his soul.

[Illustration: SHAKESPEARE’S BIRTHPLACE.]

It was Buckingham who strengthened the oaken doors of Maxstoke by
sheets of iron bearing his arms and supporters, and also the “burning
nave and knot,” which was the ancient badge of the house.

It does not appear that Buckingham made Maxstoke by any means his chief
residence, but the names of many of the constables he appointed, and of
those who came after him, have been placed on record.

The castle and estates were forfeited by the second Duke and have had
during its history many owners.

The dwelling–house occupies the north–west angle of the inner court.
It is a partly timbered house, the front portion having been rebuilt
in the seventeenth century, and some changes have been made since that
date.

At the south end of the Great Hall was formerly the chapel, the west
window of which, in the late Decorated period, still remains. The
kitchen was somewhat strangely placed adjoining this, and communication
between it and the hall must have been carried on across the chapel,
the lower part of which is nowadays used as a butler’s pantry, and the
upper part a corridor to the Great Hall. In the chapel the marriage of
John Talbot, afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury, and Catherine, daughter of
the Duke of Buckingham, took place in 1457.

The great Baronial Halt, with a dais at one end, is on the first
floor, and forms a handsome apartment lighted by three windows. On
the west side there is a fine carved mantelpiece of coloured stone,
ornamented with the numerous quarterings of the Dilke family, and
bearing the following quaint inscriptions:—

                     Pennatus Sidera Morte
            Where no woode is,     No tale–bearers,
            Ye fire goeth out;     Strife ceaseth.

The room contains some good pictures, amongst which is a full–length
portrait of Charles II. by Sir Peter Lely. In the hall are also some
interesting relics of former times, such as stone cannon balls, iron
balls, pipe bowls found in the moat, some fine armour, and a pair of
jack–boots worn by one of the family at the Battle of the Boyne.

The Oak Drawing–Room is a beautiful apartment, distinguished by a
magnificently carved mantelpiece, and a unique carved doorway forming a
sort of inner porch, and with the door very deeply panelled. There is
in this room a curious picture of the last jester of Maxstoke, 1681,
one Tom Grainger, who is depicted with an owl perched on his shoulder,
and pipe in hand.

A relic which never fails to interest the visitor is an antique oak
chair, which tradition states was brought from an old house at Bosworth
Field. It bears on the brass plate attached to it the following
inscription: “In this chair King Henry VII. was crowned at Bosworth
Field, A.D. 1485.”

The Tower Drawing–Room is also oak panelled, and contains a fine
mantelpiece. Above it is the bedroom known as Henry VII.’s; and over
that again is the top tower bedroom, from which beautiful views of the
park and moat are to be obtained.

The Dining–room on the ground floor contains a sideboard which is
stated to have been made out of a tree at which Oliver Cromwell
practised marksmanship in Coleshill Park, and also some interesting
portraits of the Fetherstons and Fetherstonhaughs.

Scarcely a room at Maxstoke but contains something either in its
decorations or its furniture of great interest; and, indeed, it is
a matter for congratulation on the part of all those interested in
architectural survivals and the preservation of historic houses that
the castle presents in this twentieth century so interesting and
perfect an example of the fortified manor–houses of ancient times.
Maintained, let it be added, with all the loving care which such a
unique treasure–house of antiquity deserves.

Some six miles to the north–east of Maxstoke is situated Astley Castle,
prettily placed in Arbury Park. Although known as a castle, it is in
reality rather an example of the defensive manor–house which came into
being when residences of a more formidable nature had become no longer
necessary. The house is surrounded by a moat, which is picturesquely
overhung with foliage, and spanned by a bridge admitting to the house
through an arched gateway.

Within a mile and a half of the church, and reached by a lovely avenue
through Hawk’s Wood, is South Farm, where, on November 22, 1819, was
born Mary Ann Evans, afterwards to become famous as “George Eliot.” The
building is quite a small farmhouse, having one bay and a gabled east
wing, and is coated with rough cast. It stands pleasantly situated a
little distance on the right of the Park Road to Griff.

“George Eliot’s” father, Mr. Robert Evans, was agent for the Arbury
Estate, and the family afterwards, whilst the future novelist was quite
a child, removed to a larger house at Griff.

As was perhaps not unnatural, “George Eliot” drew much of her early
inspiration and local colour from the immediate neighbourhood in which
she was born, and in “Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story,” which she commenced to
write on Christmas Day 1856, Astley Church appears under the disguise
of “Knebley Church”; whilst Sir Robert Newdigate, who collected so many
Art treasures for his beautiful home of Arbury, figures in the same
story under the name of “Sir Christopher Cheverel.”



CHAPTER X

THE STORY AND ROMANCE OF SOME SOUTH WARWICKSHIRE MANOR–HOUSES


Some twelve miles to the south–east of Stratford lies Compton
Wynyates, one of the most interesting and picturesque manor–houses
in Warwickshire, reached by a road scarcely more than a by–way from
Upper Tysoe, and lying beautifully situated and secluded in a thickly
wooded dell. Scarcely seen until one comes quite close to it, at first
sight it gives merely an impression of a multitude of gables, turrets,
and chimneys, with the central porch flanked by two picturesque
half–timbered gables partly overgrown by creepers and ivy.

The whole building except the gables is battlemented, and the ancient
chimneys of zigzag and cable pattern give it an additional and unique
picturesqueness. The old moat which formerly surrounded it has been
filled in, with the exception of a portion to the north, now enclosing
a beautiful flower–garden, which was very probably in former days
covered with buildings.

The name Compton Wynyates is supposed by many to have been derived
from the fact that in ancient times a vineyard was situated on the
slopes which surround the house, and the weight of tradition is also in
favour of this derivation. The property has been in the possession of
the Compton family since the reign of King John, and although records
are lacking to support the view, it seems possible that it came into
the hands of the Comptons at the date of the Conquest. But, although
in the reign of Edward III. one John de Compton was a knight for the
shire in Parliament, the family appear not to have gained any great
distinction until the beginning of the sixteenth century.

At the end of the fifteenth century William Compton succeeded his
father Edmund, but being then only eleven years of age he became a
ward of the Crown, and was brought up with Henry VIII. His association
with the latter was destined to bear very material fruit in the way of
advancement in later years, as, becoming a great favourite with Henry,
he eventually received several important appointments in the State.

Old Fuller, the chronicler, says of Compton, “He was highly and
deservedly a favourite to this King, so that, in the Court, no laymen,
abating onely Charles Brandon (in whom affection and affinity met), was
equall unto him.”

To this William Compton the King granted an augmentation to his arms
from his own Royal ensigns and devices, and at the beginning of his
reign made him custodian of the castle at Fulbroke, which had fallen
into ruins.

About 1509 Sir William Compton, who had gained great distinction at
the Battle of Spurs, and had been knighted for his gallantry, pulled
down the castle, and with part of the materials—consisting in the main
of some of the stone, the chimneys, and part of the woodwork—set about
building himself a mansion at Compton Wynyates. Tradition asserts that
the chimneys were carried from the ruined castle, for use in the new
mansion, in panniers on the backs of horses and donkeys. Thus was built
one of the most interesting and picturesque mansions of Warwickshire,
and, indeed, of any county in England.

The house was erected round a quadrangle 75 feet square. The four
sides of the building, however, were not designed with exactitude, the
north being 140 feet, the south 146 feet, the east 155 feet, and the
west 152 feet in length. Over the arch of the entrance porch are carved
the arms of Henry VIII., supported by a griffin and a greyhound, above
which is a crown with the inscription, “DOM.REX.HENRICVS.OCTAV.” On
the hollow mouldings of the drip–stone are figures of lizards, other
animals, and roses; whilst on each side is the Tudor double rose of
York and Lancaster beneath a crown. The left–hand spandril is filled in
with a device of Catherine of Aragon formed by the Castle of Castile
and the pomegranate of Granada: also a sheaf of arrows, the badge of
her mother Isabella. The right–hand spandril contains the portcullis,
which was a badge of Henry VIII. Anciently there was, of course, a
drawbridge, and inside the archway on either side are stone benches and
doors which led out to the moat when the drawbridge was raised. The old
oak doors contain a wicket, and still show traces of bombardment from
callivers and matchlocks. But these doors, which are strongly panelled
inside, would appear to have successfully resisted all the attacks made
upon them.

On passing beneath the entrance porch into the inner court one is
at once struck by the beautiful bay–window on the right–hand side
containing eight lights, with mullions and transoms and carved panels,
and battlements above. Between two windows on the left of the door
is a lion’s head carved in stone, which is worth notice, as there is
a tradition that on festive occasions it ran with wine, which was
supplied from the inside of the house and ran into a basin formerly
fixed below the head. This courtyard is rendered more picturesque than
even it would otherwise be by the beautiful flowers and creepers, more
especially the fuchsias, which adorn it.

On entering the house one passes the Buttery on the left, divided from
the Hall itself by an oak screen carved in the linen–fold pattern, and
from this a short passage leads to the kitchens, which still contain
the large recessed fireplaces of Tudor times.

Between the chapel and the Hall is the great parlour, with its oak
panelling and plaster ceiling bearing the arms of Compton and Spencer,
built in the reign of Elizabeth by William Compton, first Earl of
Northampton.

[Illustration: STRATFORD–ON–AVON—THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL.]

The great Hall itself extends the full height of the house, and
possesses a fine open–timbered roof, the beams of which spring from a
richly carved cornice. The roof was apparently brought from some older
building and reduced in size to fit its present use. It is probable,
too, that it originally extended one bay farther, which would give it
its true proportions.

At one end is a picturesque half–timbered Minstrel Gallery, with open
panel–work, the gallery in the south–east angle being a modern addition.

There is an interesting survival of the games of our ancestors in
the huge slab of elm, over 23 feet in length and 30 inches in width,
which was made to rest on tressels, and in all probability was used
for playing “shovel–board,” a popular amusement in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries.

It was in this Hall that the builder, Sir William Compton, received
Henry VIII., with whom he had been at the Field of the Cloth of Gold,
and doubtless it has been the scene of many almost equally notable
festivities during the centuries which have passed since its erection.
The Chapel, which is on the south side of the quadrangle, is divided
into two portions by an oak screen with a gate in the centre. Over the
screen are carved panels, and on the left of the gate on the outer
side is one probably representing the scourging of Christ previous to
the Crucifixion; whilst that on the left represents a female figure on
a pedestal intended apparently for the Virgin Mary, the stag having
reference to the legend of St. Hubert. Within the screen on the left
are representations of the seven deadly sins, each mounted on a horse
with a small demon behind, urging on the rider. At the head of the
procession is a monk, and the figure of the devil is seen standing
ready to receive them. On the right–hand side there is a carving of
figures (probably Twelfth Night mummers) in State robes, having swords
in their left hands. The centre panels on both sides of the screen
are blank. The general impression is that these carvings, which are
certainly of greater age than the house, were brought from Fulbroke
Castle, built by John, Duke of Bedford, in the reign of Henry V., the
custody of which was given to Sir William Compton by Henry VIII.

The great window on the south–western side of the chapel contains
five lights, with cinquefoil heads divided by a transom, and with the
spandrils and sill carved. In it was formerly some beautiful painted
glass representing the Passion, in which also were depicted the figures
of the builder of the house and his wife and three children, and the
family arms. The glass was removed to Balliol College, Oxford, during
the period of the Civil War. It is difficult to exactly locate the
former position of the high altar in reference to the great window, it
being possible, as was sometimes the case, that the celebrant took up
his position behind it, and thus faced north–east, having his back, of
course, towards the window itself.

Amongst the other more notable portions of this fine manor–house,
which in its entirety contains eighty rooms with seventeen separate
flights of stairs and 275 windows, which in the days of the window
tax were reduced to the number of thirty, is the private dining–room
built in the reign of Elizabeth by William Compton, first Earl of
Northampton, ornamented with the arms of Compton and Spencer. The
carving of the chimney–piece moulding of hard fir–wood is supposed to
be the work of Thomas Chippendale, the well–known wood–carver of George
II.’s time.

The Music– or Smoking–room is probably a comparatively modern addition
to the house, about the year 1738; here too the chimney moulding
appears to be the work of Chippendale.

On the second floor, approached by the great staircase, which although
occupying its original position is a modern reproduction dating only
from 1867, King Charles’ room is reached, situated on the north side
overlooking the moat. In this room Charles is said to have slept when
a guest here. The moat and the upper part of the house could in those
days be reached by a spiral staircase just outside the room.

The Drawing–room on the south side of the house is a beautiful room,
oak panelled, and with a handsome plaster ceiling placed there in the
time of Elizabeth and recently carefully restored. The carving and
panelling over the mantelpiece were brought from Canonbury House, which
was the manor–house of Islington, purchased by Sir John Spencer, the
father of the first Earl, in 1570. The chapel drawing–room, in which
are oak carvings and a moulded ceiling, has on the south side hinged
panels, and a door which leads into the upper portion of the chapel,
and through which people in the room could hear the service.

Next to this room is the bed–chamber occupied by Henry VIII. when
visiting the house, and containing a window in which is some old
painted glass. In one of the lights is a Tudor rose intact, and in
others there are portions of the arms of Catherine of Aragon. The
ceiling, which is interesting and curious, was probably made in the
reign of Charles I., and contains the arms of the various royal guests
who had honoured the house with their presence, including Henry VIII.,
Queen Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I.

The Council Chamber in the great tower is reached by a circular
staircase, and is notable for its beautiful split oak panelling,
exhibiting the grain of the wood in a manner impossible where sawn
timber is used. In a small chamber adjoining is a well–hole, probably
once forming the entrance to a secret passage communicating with a
trap–door in the north wing.

There were in ancient times a large number of secret hiding–places
at Compton Wynyates. Next but one to the room of Henry VIII. is a
chamber from which there was communication with a secret hiding–place
of quite considerable dimensions, reached from it by a stairway of
eleven steps only 19 inches wide. In this stairway is an “observation
hole,” some 10 inches high and about 2–1/2 inches wide, formerly
concealed by the panelling, by means of which the approach of the enemy
or of a search party could be watched by the fugitive in hiding. The
secret chamber is about seven feet square, and has two windows and a
small fireplace. One of the distinguishing features of the house is
the number of its windows and chimneys; a circumstance that made it
extremely difficult for searchers to locate any secret hiding–place,
even though furnished with both. Few manor–houses have, or at least
had, more numerous places of concealment great and small than Compton
Wynyates. In the south–western turret is another hiding–place, stated
to have been discovered by Lady Frances Compton about 1770, whilst she
was playing there as a child. The story goes that she fell against the
plaster–work which concealed the door, and the hollow sound emitted
caused investigation to be made. Upon opening the chamber it was found
(so tradition states) to contain the skeletons of a woman (a nurse?)
and two children, concealed, it is supposed, at some period of trouble
and forgotten.

The famous priests’ room or chapel in the roof is reached from the
Council Chamber by three newel staircases, and it is even possible
there was a fourth in ancient times. This room was undoubtedly used as
a chapel, as there were many Popish recusants dwelling in the immediate
neighbourhood; a safer and less unostentatious place of worship was
scarcely possible. On an elm shelf below the south–west window are,
rudely carved, five consecration crosses, showing that it had been used
for the purpose of an altar, and was consecrated according to the rites
of the Romish Church. The slab of wood is unique, in that it forms the
only known instance of a wooden altar in England.

The part played by the Northampton family in the Civil War was such
as to attract the attention of the Parliamentary forces to even so
secluded a spot as Compton Wynyates, and on Thursday, June 6, a
detachment of Parliamentarians under Major Bridges appeared before
the house and besieged it for three days, when it surrendered. The
Parliamentarians are reported by Dugdale to have killed many of the
deer in the park, and also to have wantonly defaced the ornaments in
the Church.

James, the third Earl of Northampton, was ultimately permitted to
resume possession of the house and estates on payment of a heavy fine
to the Parliamentary party.

Since that time the peace of the fine old grey pile has been
undisturbed, and the ninth earl, who was created a marquis in 1812,
repaired the house, which had fallen somewhat into decay.

Whether one regards Compton Wynyates from the point of view of an
ancient building of romantic and architectural interest, or as a
mansion set amid scenery of singular beauty, the place deserves to rank
very high indeed among the old houses around which has in past days
been woven so much of the glory and romance of England.

But to the interest of the house must be added the charm of the most
beautiful and picturesque gardens, maintained all the year round with
a care and lavishness which make them some of the most lovely in the
country.

Some four miles to the south–west of Wormleighton, picturesquely
situated amidst a group of the Burton Hills, is the tiny village of
Burton Dassett, once said to have been a market–town, and then known
as Chipping Dassett. It was, however, almost entirely destroyed in
the reign of Henry VII. by Sir Edward Belknap; who, then lord of the
manor, destroyed the village for the purpose of making enclosures of
the lands. He was never punished for this ruthless act, because of
the public services he had rendered the King, and at the close of the
fifteenth century was granted immunity by his Sovereign from being
punished for or questioned concerning his deeds. The village nowadays
consists of but two or three farm–houses.

It possesses, however, a fine and very interesting Church of All
Saints, and a romantic interest in its ancient beacon, which stands
upon the extreme north–western point of the Burton Hills, near the
well–known windmill.

The Beacon, which is a stone fourteenth and fifteenth century
building, some sixteen feet in height and sixty–two feet in
circumference, with walls of extreme thickness, has a conical roof,
and projecting from the top are twenty–five corbels, which apparently
supported a gallery in former times reached by a wooden ladder or
outside stairs. There are two windows, one looking out westward to
the Malvern Hills, and another in a north–easterly direction towards
Rugby and High Cross. From the summit of this stunted tower there is
on a clear day a wonderful prospect to the south–east, only bounded by
Irvinghoe, forty miles distant, where there was another beacon; whilst
to the north–east, twenty miles distant, was Bickenhill Beacon, and
to the north north–east High Cross in Leicestershire, and the south
south–east Nettlebed in Oxfordshire, twenty–five miles off, with all of
which places there was in former days signalling communication by means
of a fire lighted in a large cresset, some three feet in diameter and
some eighteen inches deep, which was placed upon a pole and fixed to
the roof.

Very prettily situated below the Beacon, on the southern spur of the
hill, is the church, which in its size and beauty speaks eloquently of
the town which once supplied it with worshippers, but is now almost
untraceable. The building consists of a chancel, transepts, nave,
aisles, and north porch, and at the west end an embattled tower.
The architectural features of the exterior, which at once attract
attention, are the fine Early English five–light window in the north
transept, with its plate tracery.

The north porch is Decorative in design, and is ornamented with ball
flower moulding; the doorway, however, is Norman, as is also that on
the south side of the church. It seems more than possible, indeed, that
these doorways are survivals of the ancient Norman Church, which the
present building superseded. The tower dates from the early part of the
fourteenth century, and has exceedingly massive walls. The interior
of the church, when viewed from the tower entrance, is unusually
impressive and striking.

[Illustration: STRATFORD–ON–AVON.]

The interior presents a number of most interesting features, for in it
is to be found work of the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth,
and seventeenth centuries. The unusually fine chancel arch is
Transitional; the chancel itself is probably early fourteenth–century
work.

Some eight miles south–west of Compton Wynyates, retired from the
Oxford Road, stands the interesting, picturesque, and considerable
manor–house of Little Wolford. With its ancient courtyard, shaded by
yews and gay in summer with hollyhocks and other old–time flowers, it
is still a fine specimen of a half–timbered stone mansion of the early
part of the sixteenth century. Formerly belonging to the Ingraham
family, the place has fallen into decay, and from its old estate as a
considerable and picturesque mansion.

The Hall, which possesses an open timbered roof, has a good Tudor
fireplace, and on the walls are hung old portraits of former owners,
and relics in the shape of saddlery and arms, said to have been used
during the Civil War. At the back of the house is a chamber with a
large oven, in which, tradition asserts, rightly or wrongly, Charles
II. hid when a fugitive after Worcester fight.



CHAPTER XI

SHAKESPEARE’S LIFE AND SHAKESPEARE’S TOWN


The history of Stratford–on–Avon, which takes its name from the Saxon
stroete or street, in allusion to the highway on the great north road
leading from London to Birmingham and Holyhead, and the _ford_, from
the passage of the Avon, which in ancient times ran parallel with
the bridge of fourteen arches erected by Sir Hugh Clopton at his own
expense in the reign of Henry VII.

The existence of the town can be traced to a date some three centuries
prior to the Norman Conquest, but historical details of its early days
are scant, although there was in the seventh century a Saxon monastery
possessed by Æthelard, one of the subordinate kings of the Wiccians.
This foundation was, however, in all probability, dissolved a couple
of centuries later. Although doubtless the Celtic invader, the proud
legions of Rome, and the Saxon settlers who succeeded the latter, all
visited Stratford, which from time immemorial must have been a “sweet
and pleasant place of good pasturage and watering,” there exist no
records of those long–past days, when the great Forest of Arden covered
with an almost impenetrable boscage the whole country which lay between
the Avon to the south and Watling Street to the north, to whose depths
and fastnesses the original inhabitants retreated in front of the
invaders who, afflicting Britain, found their all–conquering way at
times even into the heart of England itself.

In the immediate neighbourhood of Stratford are many survivals of
Celtic origin in the nomenclature, and there are some authorities who
seek to trace some measure of Shakespeare’s poetic genius to a remote
and long–forgotten Celtic ancestry.

Anciently the town stood almost on the edge of the Wooland or Woodland
district, in contradistinction to the Feldon, which was less thickly
afforested. At even so late a period as the times of the poet Camden
speaks of the greater part of the district as thickly wooded, although
possessing tracts of pasture and land given over to corn. Probably the
immediate neighbourhood very closely resembled the more thickly–wooded
portions of the New Forest of the present day.

The first record of the existence of a place of any importance is the
entry in the Domesday Book where, in 1085, is given a valuation of the
manor; that then appears to have consisted of barely 2000 acres, which
land was in the occupation of men who were to all intents and purposes
villeins. The lord of the manor, at the time of the Survey, was the
Bishop of Worcester, to whose see the town belonged, King Ethelred of
Mercia having given the monastery in 691 to Egwin, the third bishop of
the diocese. This monastery is generally supposed to have been founded
by the river side on that exquisite site now occupied by Holy Trinity
Church.

Unhappily the history of this monastic foundation, which one may well
believe would have been of supreme interest, is almost untraceable.
But that it was not an altogether tranquil one may be inferred from
the records which state that strife between the succeeding Bishops of
Worcester and the Kings of Mercia for its possession and that of the
town was not infrequent. Both the town and the monastery undoubtedly in
those early times were interdependent, and the first houses, of which
there were apparently about two score at the time of the Conquest,
were probably near the site of the monastery and river, and were in
the neighbourhood of the thoroughfare now known as the Old Town.
The manorial mill, at which the inhabitants ground their corn, was
situated below the ford, and for this privilege they paid the usual fee
taken by the lord of the manor for such convenience. In those early
days of Stratford’s existence, before grave and scandalous monastic
abuses ate into the heart of the system of religious foundations,
the countryfolk looked to their ecclesiastical neighbours for active
assistance in their labours and lives. This was undoubtedly the case
with the old–time inhabitants of Stratford. Soon the town not only grew
within its own borders, but spread its influence into the surrounding
district, where clearings were made in the forest, or spaces already
open were put under cultivation and homesteads began to spring up.

The first event of any historical importance in connection with “the
town of Stratford by Avon,” and one destined to have a great effect
upon its ultimate growth and importance, was the granting by Richard
I., in the year 1197, of the right to hold a market each Thursday.
This privilege was obtained for the inhabitants by the then Bishop of
Worcester, who charged the townsfolk the sum of sixteen shillings per
annum for it. This market was held on the site of the present Rother
Market, and to it the drovers brought their cattle weekly from the
pastures round about or from the cleared spaces of the Forest of Arden
near by. The word itself serves to preserve a memorial of the nature of
the institution, “Rother” being Anglo–Saxon for horned cattle.

The market, however, appears to have declined in importance towards
the middle of the thirteenth century, but was reinstituted or recovered
its lost popularity in the early years of the fourteenth. In addition
to the market, which, as we have already pointed out, must have been
largely devoted to cattle, five annual fairs were held, which were
doubtless a great attraction to the townsfolk and to dwellers in
the immediate neighbourhood. Four of these were, we find, largely
patronised by drovers, and a great trade was done at them in cattle.
The reason for this circumstance is not far to seek when one takes into
consideration the fact that in the immediate vicinity of Stratford
there were considerable extents of rich pasture land which, from time
immemorial, had been used for herds and flocks. The market frequented
by dealers in other goods and by the wandering pedlars of the Middle
Ages lay around the High Cross, at the northern end of the High Street,
in the space which in those days lay between Rother Market and the
ancient timber bridge across the Avon.

To these fairs doubtless came the inhabitants from far and near; from
the scattered homesteads amid the forest glades of Arden, and from the
manor–houses which began in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to
spring up upon the lands granted by successive kings to their vassals
for services rendered or for political reasons. Ultimately there came
to Stratford fairs merchants of East Anglia and enterprising traders
from so far afield as London. Pedlars there had always been from quite
early times.

From the fourteenth century onwards the town appears to have had
no lack of sons interested in her welfare, and amongst the earliest
benefactors were two brothers named Robert and John de Stratford,
and a nephew. The two brothers were destined to become distinguished
ornaments of the Church, the second named being in turn Archdeacon
of Lincoln in 1319, Bishop of Winchester in 1323, and Archbishop of
Canterbury in 1333. Robert being vicar of his native town, then in 1335
Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and two years later he was
consecrated Bishop of Chichester. Ralph de Stratford, the nephew, being
raised to the see of London in 1339.

In a measure these two brothers, who were not alone Churchmen but
also statesmen, holding in turn the Chancellorship of England, John
occupying that high office four times, may be said to have inherited
the spirit of benefaction for which they were to be remembered by their
native town. Some time during the reign of the first Edward their
father had founded a chapel for the famous Guild of the Holy Cross,
which in all likelihood was built upon the same site as that occupied
by the Guild Chapel now surviving at the corner of Church Street and
Chapel Lane. To this chapel Robert de Stratford was appointed the
first Master in 1269, on the sanction of Godfrey Giffard, Bishop of
Worcester. During the next year the Bishop fostered the newly–founded
religious community (which was not, however, ecclesiastical) by
granting a forty–days’ indulgence to all those who had presented gifts
to the Guild. The Register, which exists at the present day, and
contains entries from the middle of the fourteenth century, shows that
the Guild must have been wealthy, as it possessed property in almost
every street of the town.

To his brother Robert belongs the credit of local improvement of
the town. In his time the streets were little more than rough tracks
or paths connecting the different quarters where the inhabitants had
erected dwellings along the roads which led to Henley–in–Arden and
Alcester. “The ways,” we read, “were of such unevenness that all who
traversed them in rainy days came to their end muddied, and many a cart
stuck fast even within the town.” Robert de Stratford decided to amend
this state of affairs, and to enable him to pave them he, in 1332,
obtained leave to tax the produce brought into the town for sale by the
farmers and others of the immediate neighbourhood. Thereby he not only
conferred a great benefit upon his fellow–townsmen, but also upon those
who came to Stratford for business.

[Illustration: “HUNGRY” GRAFTON.]

The history of the town subsequent to this date until the reign of
Edward VI. is very obscure. Indeed, although it is more than probable
that it saw something of the Wars of the Roses, and in a measure
played its part in the history of the county at large, the records
of its progress and the doings of its inhabitants are scanty indeed.
The name of one family, however, which became indissolubly connected
with Stratford towards the close of the fifteenth century, calls for
at least a passing mention. In 1483 Sir Hugh Clopton, of the manor of
Clopton, which lies about a mile to the north of Stratford, came to
the town and built himself a fine house (as houses were so considered
in those days) on the site now occupied by New Place. It was he that,
seeing the old bridge of wood which then spanned the Avon was in a
“sorry state,” erected the stone structure which, since the days
of Henry VII. till the present day, has spanned the river with its
fourteen arches, except for a short period from 1645–52, when there was
at most a temporary passage across, owing to the destruction of the
second arch of the end farthest from the town by the Parliamentarians.
During the reign of the Virgin Queen, Stratford, which had by then
become a country town of some little importance and size, made some
progress. But in even the spacious days of Elizabeth there was still
something of mediæval ways and manners clinging to the life and
habits of towns such as Stratford. It is difficult for us, who dwell
in the twentieth century, with its almost fanatical cleanliness and
idolisation of everything which can be described as progress, to
realise the conditions prevailing in places like Stratford, which was
probably not worse governed or overseen than other towns of similar
size. In a contemporary record one reads with astonishment that a “muck
heap” was permitted in no less than six places, the removal of which
unsavoury deposits was only suffered twice a year! The streets were,
notwithstanding the official refuse heap, often almost impassable for
filth, “fine gentlemen and dames passing with difficulty without the
soiling of their garments along them.” Even a vicar of the town was
interrogated by the Council regarding a pig–stye he had erected in the
open street, to the obstruction of the common way! The Town Council
(Stratford had been granted a Charter of Incorporation in 1553 by
Edward VI.) seem to have attempted some control of the inhabitants,
but, if one may believe the evidence afforded by contemporary
documents, with but scant and qualified success. Rushes were still
strewn on the clay floors of even the best houses, and, what is of
greater importance, were not removed too frequently. And although a
mandate was issued by the Town Council in the year before Elizabeth
ascended the throne for the inhabitants in the winter to hang out a
lantern before their doors between the hours of five and eight in
the evening, this order was frequently disregarded. It is from these
fragmentary records that one is able to gain at least an approximate
picture of the ancient town of Stratford in the period just preceding
Shakespeare’s birth.

Twice during the reign of Elizabeth was the town visited by devastating
fires, each of which destroyed some two hundred houses and rendered a
large number of the townsfolk homeless and almost destitute. It was
the fate that very frequently befell ancient towns, and was repeated
again in the year 1614, when upwards of fifty houses, some of them the
handsomest in the town, were burned to the ground. Stratford is still
rich for a place of its size in architectural survivals of an age when
picturesqueness was so marked a feature of domestic buildings, but for
these devastating conflagrations what might it not have been?

The place has never played any important part in history, but
at the outset of the Civil War it took the side of the King, and
although the Royalist garrison was in 1642 driven out of the town by
a Parliamentarian force under Lord Brooke of Warwick, the townsfolk
remained faithful in heart to the cause they had espoused, and in 1643
Queen Henrietta Maria and Prince Rupert with a large body of troops
were quartered there. The Queen remained three days, and stayed at New
Place, where she was entertained by Mrs. Hall, Shakespeare’s daughter.

So far as history making goes, Stratford’s part may be said to have
ceased when the Civil War no longer caused it to be the venue of
the contending parties. And had it not been for the event which had
occurred on April 23, 1564 (old style), when the Bard of Avon entered
the world in the Henley Street house to which so many pilgrims flock
each year, the claim of the town to special notice and description
would be far less easily defined.

Obscure as many of the incidents of Shakespeare’s early life
unfortunately are, the connection of his family with Warwickshire and
with Stratford are happily traceable with some considerable degree
of certitude. Richard Shakespeare (the Christian name of whom is
traditional, it must be admitted) is popularly supposed to have been
the owner or tenant of some land and tenements at Snitterfield, a small
village about four miles north of Stratford, situated on rising ground,
which were granted to him for “his faithful and approved service to
the most prudent prince, King Henry VII. of famous memory”; what these
services were does not appear. Of his several children two at least
were sons named John and Henry. The former, afterwards to be the
father of the poet, was born about the year 1530, and was certainly
a resident in Stratford prior to 1552. About the latter year he was
following the trade of fell–monger (hide seller) and glover, possibly
also combining with these the trade of butcher, and it is ascertained
that he at times also dealt in corn and timber. All of which trades
he carried on in Henley Street. He appears to have prospered in his
business, for in the month of October 1556 he is recorded as having
purchased the copyhold of a house, garden, and some other property in
Greenhill Street, not far from Henley Street. In the following year he
was married to Mary Arden, the daughter of one Robert Arden, of Aston
Cantlow, a village some six miles north–west of Stratford, who left
her a small estate called Asbies, as well as reversionary rights in
property at Snitterfield, including the farm which he had leased to
Shakespeare’s father. In the same year John Shakespeare became a member
of the Stratford Corporation.

His house on the northern side of Henley Street was one of
considerable size, and, indeed, in those days was doubtless esteemed
a fine house. As was not inappropriate for the birthplace of one who
loved and must have often rambled in the Forest of Arden, it was from
thence that came the oak planks and beams of which the house was
built,—timbers tough and well seasoned, fit to outlast a thousand
years. It was here that to John and Mary Shakespeare was born a
daughter, Joan, in 1558 (who, it is probable, died some two years
later); another daughter, Margaret, in 1562 (who died when about four
months old); and then in 1564 a son, William, destined to be the
greatest of English poets and dramatists.

The exact date of his birth is, unfortunately, but conjectural. It is
usually accepted as being April 23. But, as was the custom with the
other children of John and Mary Shakespeare, only the dates of baptism
are recorded. That in the case of William was April 26, and the date
being old style brings it actually to May 5 in our present calendar.
But there is a well–authenticated and continuous tradition that St.
George’s Day, April 23, was the actual date of the poet’s birth; and
most authorities are agreed that in this case tradition is probably
right. It must be remembered in this connection that in those days it
was the custom to bring children to baptism as soon as possible after
birth, and two or three days after was a very common time.

Shakespeare came into the world at a period when there was a perfect
galaxy of prospective literary talent. Michael Drayton, born the
previous year, was still an infant; Walter Raleigh, Philip Sidney, and
Edmund Spenser were boys; and Francis Bacon, destined to provide so
much material for Shakespearian controversy in later times, was a tiny
child.

Indeed, the remembrance of Shakespeare’s birth year was likely to
remain in the public mind for some considerable period, for it was the
year of the Great Frost, when the Thames froze almost solidly from side
to side above London Bridge, and a fair of several weeks’ duration was
held upon it. Whilst in Stratford there was a recurrence of the plague,
which is stated to have carried off at least one in seven of the total
population. Fortunately the house of John Shakespeare escaped the
scourge.

In the following year Shakespeare’s father was made an alderman of
the borough, and in 1566 a son, Gilbert, was born to him. In 1568 the
alderman became high–bailiff of the town; in the following year a
daughter was born, who (in spite of the ill–fortune popularly supposed
to follow such a thing as giving a child the name of a previous one
who had died) was named Joan. In 1571 John Shakespeare became senior
alderman of the town, which was the most exalted civic office the place
could bestow, and entitled its possessor to the title of Magister, both
after as well as during his term of office. It is by this title that he
is at and from this date described in the Parish Registers. In the same
year was born his daughter Anne, who was baptized on September 28; and
two years afterwards a son, baptized Richard, was born.

In 1575 is recorded the purchase by John Shakespeare from one Edmund
Hall of the house in Henley Street, now known as the birthplace, for
the sum of £40. From this period the star of Shakespeare’s father,
which hitherto, except for quite trivial ups and downs of fortune,
appears to have been so distinctly in the ascendant, waned. Three years
later his embarrassment was such that he was compelled to mortgage
Asbies, which his wife had brought him, and also to sell his interest
in certain lands at Snitterfield.

He appears also to have ceased attending the meetings of the Town
Council, and even to have had his taxes remitted. In 1579 his daughter
Anne died, and in the following year his name appears in several lists
of recusants, which circumstance has been held by some to afford
evidence of his having either been a Romanist or having become one. At
this time the Roman Catholic religion was of course proscribed, and it
has been thought by some that his troubles may possibly have arisen
in part from his apostasy or belonging to the “old faith.” There is,
however, no clear evidence in support of this contention. In 1585 his
affairs seem to have gone from bad to worse, for he was deprived of his
office of alderman for non–attendance, the record reading “He doth not
come to the halles, nor hath he of long time.”

It was a few years later, however, that the crisis in his affairs
seems to have been reached, for during this period we learn that he
could not attend church for fear of “processe of debt.” In 1597, on
account of the success of his son (as some think), there was a distinct
recovery in the position of the Shakespeares. And during the year a
bill was filed by him in the Court of Chancery against John Lambert,
the son of the man to whom his estate of Asbies had been mortgaged in
1578, the object of the action being for its recovery. The argument
of John Shakespeare being that though money had been tendered for the
release of the property the Lamberts still held it, and refused to
resign possession. About the same time, too, a grant of arms was made
to him by one Dethick, Garter King–at–Arms. The motto afterwards used
by the poet was “Non sanz droict.”

In 1601 Shakespeare’s father died, the fact being recorded in the
burial register at Stratford as follows:—

  1601, Sept. 8, Mr. Johanes Shakspeare.

Thus ends the record of a life which saw quite its fair share of
vicissitudes.

Of Shakespeare’s early life, unfortunately, comparatively little is
known. It appears probable, however, that about the year 1571, when he
was seven years old, he was sent to the Grammar School founded in 1481
by one Thomas Jolyffe. There is no reason for doubting that he was for
some considerable time a scholar there, and learned the “small Latin
and less Greek” which was assigned to him by Ben Jonson.

It was whilst he was still a schoolboy that Queen Elizabeth visited
the Earl of Leicester at Kenilworth; and thither many from the
districts round about flocked to gaze upon her Majesty, and to witness
with open–eyed wonder the magnificent pageants which were enacted
for her amusement. As Stratford is but thirteen miles distant from
Kenilworth by road it appears more than possible that both Shakespeare
and his father were amongst the spectators. If this were the case it is
probable that the Kenilworth festivities were the first introduction
which the future dramatist had to the stage, and that the influence of
the scenes he must have witnessed becomes easily traceable in several
of his plays.

[Illustration: ABBOTS SALFORD.]

Every life of Shakespeare, even with the benefit of the latest
discoveries and the most recent and learned reasoning and deductions,
must unhappily be largely conjectural. Not because it is possible to
believe that it was blank or useless in its earlier days, but because,
alas! the records are so scanty that the most able and painstaking
research has succeeded in eliciting from the past but a fragmentary
chain of circumstances and comparatively unimportant facts where one
would have had detailed evidence. Shakespeare’s wedding with Anne
Hathaway when he was nineteen and she seven years his senior, some
time in the early part of the month of December 1582, was followed on
May 26 of the succeeding year by the birth of his daughter Susannah.
No evidence exists to settle the question of either Shakespeare’s
employment or mode of life during the early period of his married life,
and the only indisputable fact that has come down to us relating to the
next year or two is the record of the birth of twins, a son Hamnet and
a daughter Judith, on February 2, 1585, who were baptized in Stratford
Church.

It was about this time that Shakespeare went to London, though
probably quite late in the year. The reason of his removal from his
native town is quite unknown, although some authorities appear to
favour the traditional story that it was in consequence of his poaching
exploits, and the action of Sir Thomas Lucy. Others think that he was
drawn thither by a desire to better his position, and thus provide
for his increasing family. Two years later, in 1587, he was found,
according to Mr. Fleay, a member of the Earl of Leicester’s players
either at the time of or shortly after their visit to Stratford, when
they probably gave performances in the Guild Hall. This is, however,
entirely supposition, as there is neither any very definite tradition
nor any recorded fact which proves Shakespeare to have left Stratford
under these circumstances.

For several years after this date there is nothing to connect the poet
with his native town, but in 1596 the Register at Stratford contains
an entry recording the burial of his only son Hamnet, which took place
on August 11. The following year the poet purchased from William
Underhill, gentleman, “one messuage, two barns, two gardens, and two
orchards, with appurtenances, in Stratford–on–Avon,” for the sum of
£60, the house being that erected by Sir Hugh Clopton in the reign of
Henry VII., and known then as the Great House. Shakespeare renamed it
New Place, and by this name the site (for the house has disappeared) is
known to this day.

From this time onward the poet seems to have enjoyed very material
prosperity, and became at various times the purchaser of other property
in the town and neighbourhood.

In 1607 his elder daughter Susannah married one of the leading
medical men of the town, Dr. John Hall, and in the following year a
grand–daughter was born to the poet, named Elizabeth. His younger
daughter Judith married in 1616 a vintner of Stratford named Thomas
Quiney. Of this marriage there were three children born, two of whom
survived to attain manhood, but died without issue.

These somewhat bare facts unhappily constitute almost all that is known
of Shakespeare and his family life. His death occurring on April 23,
1616, after an illness of some weeks.

Of the latter part of his life his first biographer, Rowe, writes,
it “was spent, as all men of sense may wish theirs may be, in some
retirement, and the conversation of his friends. His pleasurable wit
and good nature engaged him in the acquaintance, and entitled him to
the friendship of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood.”

But, however meagre may be the details of the poet’s life at Stratford
and elsewhere, fortunately for pilgrims to his native town and admirers
of his plays, there are still surviving the ravages of time and modern
changes, so often destructive of these things, many buildings and spots
directly or indirectly connected with him and incidents in his career.

The birthplace, situated in Henley Street, is of course the most
interesting and important building in the eyes of Shakespearian
“critics” and admirers alike. It is a half–timbered, two–storied
building with dormer windows and a wooden porch, which although largely
restored in 1857–58, may be considered to fairly represent the house as
it stood at the time of the poet’s birth, great care having been taken
at the time of restoration to follow every indication discoverable
of its former state. Both the birthplace and the wool–shop adjoining
were probably erected at the commencement of the sixteenth century,
and at that period the house would have undoubtedly held rank as one
of the better sort, and as forming a very comfortable residence for
a tradesman in a small provincial town such as Stratford then was.
But in those far–off Elizabethan days the environment of the house
was very different from what it now is. We have already referred to
the state of Stratford streets when rubbish and household refuse not
only disfigured them, but made passage through them both difficult
and unsavoury, and John Shakespeare would not seem to have been more
particular than his neighbours, for we find that in April 1552 he was
mulcted in the not then inconsiderable sum of twelve–pence for cleaning
away the rubbish which he had allowed to accumulate in front of his own
door. The roadway was probably little more than a deeply rutted track,
with a walnut tree, which was standing as late as 1765, in front of the
entrance door, and under the shade of which doubtless Shakespeare’s
father, when his business was done, used to sit and gossip with his
neighbours. Across the road was a pool of water (probably a duck pond),
and at the rear of the house a garden and outbuildings.

After John Shakespeare’s death, the dwelling probably remained in
the occupation of his widow till her death in 1608, when it came into
possession of Joan Hart, her sister. The poet himself left the house
to her by will, and she lived in it until 1646. Shakespeare’s daughter
Susannah Hall afterwards came into possession (having previously been
the owner of the wool–shop), and from her it descended to her daughter
Lady Barnard. Ultimately, after various owners and vicissitudes, the
building was converted in 1784 into an open–fronted butcher’s shop, the
windows and porch being removed to allow of a proper display of the
stock in trade. The wool–shop next door had long previously, in 1603,
become an inn, called at first “The Maidenhead,” and afterwards “The
Swan and Maidenhead.” Its front was faced with brickwork in 1808, and
some forty years later the buildings were bought for the nation, and
ten years afterwards were restored, as already mentioned.

The street entrance is directly into the chief living room of the
house, which is stone paved, and provided with an old–fashioned
recessed fireplace, as is also the kitchen. Behind the latter are
two small apartments known as the wash–house and pantry. Beneath the
kitchen is a small cellar reached by a flight of steps, and probably
remaining much in its original state.

The principal room of the upper floor, facing the street, and reached
by an oak staircase of ten steps, is the birth–room. The walls,
ceiling, and windows are covered by numberless signatures, written
and scratched upon them by “pilgrims” before the custom was strictly
prohibited. Amongst this strange collection of autographs can still be
deciphered many of interest, including those of Izaak Walton, Thomas
Carlyle, Sir Walter Scott, and other famous people. The bureau in the
room was brought from the Old College, demolished in 1799, and the
chairs were gifts. This by no means imposing chamber not only witnessed
the birth of the poet, but in all likelihood those of his brothers
and sisters, and was the death–chamber of his father, mother, and
sister Susannah, Mrs. Hart. In a room at the back of this, originally
forming two small bedrooms, is an oil painting presumed to be that
of Shakespeare. It closely resembles the bust in the church, and was
possibly copied from it. It was given to the house by Mr. W. O. Hunt,
and is supposed to have originally belonged to the Clopton family,
having been found in Edward Clopton’s house on his death. Curiously
enough, the face was formerly disguised with a beard, which a Mr.
Collins, a connoisseur of some note, discovered was painted over the
original picture. The portrait was, therefore, cleaned and repaired
(the beard being removed in the process), and was afterwards deposited
at the birthplace. The sign–boards in the room are old ones belonging
to the house.

There is none of the original furniture in the house, it having long
ago been sold, broken up, or otherwise disposed of. In Shakespeare’s
day the furniture of a house of this size and type must have been of
a very simple character. It would have consisted of little beyond a
substantial table, a press, chairs, a cupboard, and a tall clock, with
the usual table utensils in the living room; and a four–post wooden
bedstead, a chair or two, and a table or washstand in the bedrooms. The
floors were carpetless, though those of the living room and kitchen
might be strewn with rushes.

The Museum occupies the portion of the building used by John
Shakespeare as a store and shop. It contains a large number of
Shakespearian and other relics, concerning the authenticity of some of
which there must be grave doubt. Amongst the most interesting in the
lower part of the Museum is the desk which Shakespeare is traditionally
supposed to have used when a lad at the Grammar School, from whence it
was removed to the Museum some years back.

In the central case of relics are a ring with his initials, W.S.,
entwined on the setting; and a sword supposed to have belonged to him.
The glass jug from which David Garrick drank at the Jubilee in 1769,
and the inn sign of the Falcon Tavern at Bidford, are also preserved in
this part of the Museum; with a considerable number of deeds relating
to property acquired by various members of the Shakespeare family, or
bearing their signatures as witnesses thereto. Of the books none are
of particular note, although amongst them are several copies of early
editions of the poet’s plays.

The garden in the rear of the house is of considerable beauty and
interest from the fact that it is largely stocked with specimens of
the trees, fruits, and flowers mentioned by Shakespeare in his various
plays. In the centre now reposes the remains of the ancient Market
Cross of Stratford, dating from the fourteenth century.

In the angle formed by Chapel Street and Chapel Lane, beyond the
Town Hall and past the well–known Shakespeare Hotel, is a group of
houses of considerable interest situated upon the left–hand side of the
street. The first is known as Hathaway’s house, and was the residence
in 1647 of a descendant of the family of Shakespeare’s wife, named
Thomas Hathaway. Next door but one is Nash’s house, once the property
of Thomas Nash, who married Elizabeth Hall, the poet’s grand–daughter;
on her death it came again into the possession of the Nash family,
and was one of the buildings purchased with New Place in 1861. The
front of the house has been several times restored since Shakespeare’s
day, and the interior has been greatly modernised, but a part of the
back and the beams of the chimney are without doubt portions of the
original building. The house is now a Museum, containing several items
of distinct interest, amongst which are some chairs formerly at New
Place, and a fine photographic copy of the proof impression of the
Droeshout portrait of Shakespeare engraved in 1623. The house of Shaw,
an intimate friend of the poet’s, and one of the witnesses to his will,
is next door to the Museum, between it and the Hathaways’ house.

[Illustration: BIDFORD BRIDGE.]

Only the site, and garden, and a few traces of the foundations of New
Place, Shakespeare’s home in his latter years, remain. Nothing of the
mansion originally erected for Sir Hugh Clopton has been left standing.
The fact that it was probably the most imposing residence in the town
in Shakespeare’s time affords interesting evidence of the prosperity
which undoubtedly came to him from his companies of players and the
performance of his plays. On acquiring the property of New Place,
Shakespeare made considerable alterations to fit it to his requirements
and ideas; the house at this time having two gardens attached to it,
one small and one larger. It is probable that the famous mulberry tree,
which was in all likelihood one of a considerable number distributed
through the Eastern Counties and Midlands by a Frenchman of the name
of Verton or Verdon in 1609, was planted by the poet in the smaller
garden. Of the great garden Shakespeare made an orchard, and in it
there is some evidence that he passed much of his time. Prior to the
year 1609 the house was occupied by one Thomas Greene, Town Clerk of
Stratford, who claimed cousinship with the poet; and after the latter’s
death in 1616 the property descended to his married daughter, Mrs.
Hall, and here in 1643 she entertained Henrietta Maria, consort of
Charles I.

After passing through several hands the house and property came into
the possession in 1753 of the Rev. Francis Gastrell, Vicar of Frodsham,
in Cheshire. This event afterwards proved to be fraught with disastrous
consequences, for the Vicar, cursed with a violent and selfish
disposition, soon began a work of destruction upon the Shakespearian
relics, which unhappily for posterity he had acquired. Angered by the
frequency with which travellers, admirers of the poet, and antiquarian
students applied to him for permission to view the celebrated mulberry
tree, in the shade of which Sir Hugh Clopton in 1742 is by tradition
stated to have entertained David Garrick, Dr. Delany, and Macklin,
he proceeded to cut it down. This was in itself an act of vandalism
which would have earned for him an unenviable notoriety for all time;
but far worse was to follow. It appears that during a portion of each
year Gastrell was obliged to be absent, ministering to his flock at
Frodsham. The Stratford local authorities were (from his point of
view) unreasonable enough to expect him to pay his rates all the same.
Resenting their action and to show his anger he promptly had New Place
demolished, and the materials of which it was constructed sold! Thus
vanished for ever, in the act of a maniacal priest, a building only
second in interest and archæological value to the birthplace itself,
leaving but the site and a few traces of the foundations remaining.

In addition to the Shakespearian dwellings we have described, there
are a considerable number of domestic buildings and fragments in
Stratford of interest as architectural survivals, but with which there
is no space to deal here. The curious and the serious student of
Shakespeare’s town will have little difficulty and much pleasure in
discovering them.

Exactly opposite New Place, on the other side of Chapel Lane, are
the old Guild Hall and Guild Chapel. The latter anciently the Chapel
of the Guild of the Holy Cross. This organisation, like some of
those of Coventry and other places, was partly religious and partly
secular in character. Although it was certainly in existence in the
reign of Edward I. the actual date of its foundation is unknown. The
ancient governing body of the Guild consisted of two aldermen and six
Councillors, who were fined fourpence if they failed to attend its
meetings. The annual subscription in 1389 was sixpence, and admission
to the Guild was made upon payment of an entrance fee, which varied in
amount according to whether the applicant was married or single. There
were social feasts at various times during the year, more especially
at Easter–tide, and the existing records of these form a valuable
contribution to our knowledge of the habits and manners of those far
distant times.

That Stratford could not in those early days have been a place of great
resource or importance is made clear by the fact that it was necessary
to obtain supplies for these Guild festivities from outside, and keep
the live stock, pigs, fowls, sheep, goats, etc. alive in charge of the
Guild until required.

By the middle of the thirteenth century the Guild had prospered to
such a degree that in 1269 it obtained a license from the then Bishop
of Worcester to build a chapel and hospital. The present Guild Chapel
is the one erected during the earlier part of the fifteenth century,
on the site of the original building. The nave was rebuilt in 1292, in
Henry VII.’s reign, by Sir Hugh Clopton. On the exterior of the porch
are four shields bearing the arms of Sir Hugh Clopton, those of the
city of London (of which he was Lord Mayor), those of the merchants of
the Woolstaple, and the remaining shield bearing what are thought to
be the original arms of Stratford. Early in the nineteenth century a
series of frescoes were discovered in the chapel, which were promptly
whitewashed over or otherwise destroyed; fortunately, however, not
before one Thomas Fisher had made a series of drawings, which in some
measure permits us to realise the character of the pictures; the
subjects were “The Doom,” “The History of the Holy Cross,” “The Combat
between St. George and the Dragon,” and “The Martyrdom of St. Thomas
of Canterbury.” A fragment of a fresco (a figure with mutilated legs
bearing a shield) is discernible on the west of the arch of the inner
door.

With this building Shakespeare must have been well acquainted when
a boy, and also as a man. Whilst resident at New Place he, in all
probability, attended it, as there was a pew attached to the property.
Not only is this small building interesting as a survival of a bygone
age, but as intimately connected with at least two portions of
Shakespeare’s life—boyhood, and his later years of residence in the
town of his birth.

Another building of great and enduring interest is the Guild Hall,
an ancient, half–timbered structure standing on the south side of the
chapel, and built in 1296 by Robert de Stratford, but greatly altered
during the fifteenth century. It was erected for the use of the members
of the Guild, and after the dissolution of that body it was granted by
Edward VI. in 1553 to the principal inhabitants, and was later on used
for the purposes of a Town Hall, until the present one was erected in
1768 on the site of a previous building. In 1890, at the south end,
underneath the wainscot, some traces of frescoes were discovered in
the plaster panels. The centre one contains a representation of the
Crucifixion, with the Virgin on one side and a figure (probably St.
John) on the other. In the other panels are coats of arms. It was in
this hall that Shakespeare most probably first became acquainted with
“stage plays” and players, and not, as some suppose, at Kenilworth,
for it was here that travelling companies, invited by the bailiff and
aldermen of the town, used to give performances. The first of these
of which a record exists visited the town in 1569; subsequently the
companies of the Earls of Leicester, Worcester, and Warwick all gave
performances at Stratford; that of the first named in 1587, the year in
which Shakespeare is supposed to have gone to London in their company.

The windows looking out into the street are comparatively modern,
those originally lighting the room being on the opposite side, and at
the south end, which latter window is now blocked up. In the lower
part of the wall are holes, in which the beams supporting the dais or
stage on which the plays were performed were placed. The Armoury, or
“greeting–room,” which is reached from the hall, has good panelling of
the Jacobean period, and the Royal arms over the fireplace were set
up in 1660 as a memento of the public rejoicing which followed the
Restoration. The Muniment Room, reached by a winding staircase, is a
small chamber, in which a large number of interesting documents of the
sixteenth century were discovered some years ago. Above the armoury
is the Council Chamber, an interesting room now used as the school
library. In it is a massive oak table dating from Jacobean times.

The famous Grammar School, founded in Henry VI.’s reign by Thomas
Jolyffe, a priest who was a native of Stratford, is above the Guild
Hall. As was the case with so many other institutions of a like
character, the dissolution of the Monasteries and Foundations saw
its funds “appropriated” by the Crown, and this remained the case
until the accession of Edward VI., who in 1553 granted a Charter of
Incorporation to the principal inhabitants, and with it restored the
property formerly belonging to the Guild. The mathematical room and
the Latin room are both immediately above the Guild Hall, and in both
there are high open–timbered roofs, with remarkably stout tie–beams. It
was at the lower end of the Latin room that Shakespeare’s traditional
desk used to stand, which was formerly the second master’s desk. Aubrey
states that the poet was for a short period a schoolmaster in the
country, and, if this is correct, it is, of course, quite possible that
he filled the office of junior master at the Grammar School, and used
the desk associated by tradition with him.

The almshouses, which were formerly for twenty–four poor members of
the Guild, and nowadays have twelve male and twelve female inmates,
adjoin the school—a row of picturesque half–timbered houses.

Close to the river and not far from the Memorial Theatre stands
Stratford Church of the Holy Trinity, ideally situated, almost
embosomed in trees, and approached on the north side by a beautiful
avenue of limes. The building, which was a Collegiate Church from
the reign of Edward III. to the Dissolution, is a cruciform edifice
consisting of a nave with aisles, a chancel, transepts, and a central
tower with an elegant octagonal spire, which seems to dominate the
whole town when viewed from a little distance. The building is of
mixed styles of architecture, the oldest portions of which are the
Early English tower (the present spire was erected in 1764, replacing
the ancient wooden one); nave of the same period, though possessing a
Decorated clerestory; and the north aisle, built about the beginning
of the thirteenth century. The transepts, which were very considerably
restored in the reign of Henry VII. by the executors of Sir Hugh
Clopton, probably date from the beginning of the thirteenth century.

The Decorated south aisle was erected in 1332 by John de Stratford,
Archbishop of Canterbury, and he it was who founded at its east end a
chapel dedicated to Sir Thomas of Canterbury.

The chancel is Perpendicular, and was built by Dr. Thomas Balshall at
the end of the fifteenth century. The north porch is Perpendicular, and
the clerestory of the nave was erected late in the fifteenth century,
replacing an earlier one of about the same period as the arcade.

The north aisle had a chapel at its eastern end, called formerly the
Chapel of Our Lady the Virgin, but now commonly known as the Clopton
Chapel, on account of the number of tombs belonging to that family
which it contains.

The great point of interest, of course, is the monument of Shakespeare,
which is on the north wall of the chancel, and consists of a bust of
the poet under an arch, on either side of which are two Corinthian
columns of black marble supporting an entablature bearing his arms,
with a seated cherub on either side, and a skull crowning the top. On a
panel beneath the bust, which was made by Gerard Johnson, a tomb–maker,
who lived near the church now known as St. Saviour’s, Southwark, and
was erected prior to 1623, are the following inscriptions:—

  Judicio Pylium, Genio Socratem, Arte Maronem,
  Terra Tegit, Populus Moeret, Olympus Habet.

  Stay, passenger, why goest thou so fast?
  Read, if thou canst, whom envious Death hath plast
  Within this monument; Shakespeare, with whome
  Quicke Natur dide; whose name doth deck ys tombe,
  Far more than cost; sith all yt he hath writt,
  Leaves living art, but page to serve his witt.

                                                Obit Ano Doi 1616.
                                                Aetatis 53 Die 23 A.P.

Originally the bust was coloured, but at the end of the eighteenth
century it was given a coat of white paint, which remained on for
nearly seventy years, when on its removal in 1861 sufficient traces of
the original colouring were discovered to permit of restoration.

[Illustration: CHARLECOTE.]

It is generally assumed that the face of this bust was modelled from
a death mask, possibly even from the cast which is now at Darmstadt;
and although either the execution was originally poor or the likeness
has been spoiled by restoration, the monument is, of course, of the
greatest interest to all admirers of the poet, and to those who are
students of his life and works. It is believed that the memorial was
provided by Dr. Hall and his wife, and at all events there seems little
doubt that they superintended its erection.

Close beneath the monument and within the altar rails is the poet’s
grave, with the well–known lines:—

  GOOD FREND FOR JESUS SAKE FORBEARE

  TO DIGG THE DUST ENCLOASED HEARE;
                e     t
  BLESTE BE Y MAN Y SPARES THES STONES;
                      e     s
  AND CVRST BE HE Y MOVES MY BONES.

It is supposed that these lines were written by Shakespeare himself,
fearful lest his remains might be disturbed; for anciently, on the
north side of the chancel, was a charnel–house in which were a large
collection of human bones. This was done away with in 1800.

Next to the north wall, on the left of the poet’s grave, is that of
his wife, who died on August 6, 1623; a Latin inscription on a small
brass plate marking the spot. Close by are also buried Thomas Nash,
the first husband of Elizabeth Hall, Shakespeare’s grand–daughter,
who died in 1647; Dr. John Hall, who died in 1635; and Susannah Hall,
Shakespeare’s daughter, who died in 1649. The original lines on the
grave of the latter were obliterated some time at the beginning of the
eighteenth century, and an inscription to some one else put in their
place. The lines were, however, restored in 1836.

  Witty above her sexe, but that’s not all,
  Wise to salvation was good Mistris Hall.
  Something of Shakespeare was not that but this
  Wholy of him with whom she’s now in blisse.
  Then, passenger, ha’st ne’re a teare
  To weepe with her that wept with all?
  That wept, yet set her selfe to chere
  Them up with comforts cordiall.
  Her love shall live, her mercy spread,
  When thou ha’st ne’re a teare to shed.

The stained glass in the east window dates from 1895. The “American”
window, presented in 1885, is situated on the north side of the
chancel, the subject of which is “The Seven Ages of Man.” The choir
stalls are very handsomely carved, and contain grotesques on their
misereres. The fine stained–glass window unveiled in 1896 by Mr.
Bayard, the then American ambassador to this country, is another gift
of admirers of the poet in the United States. The chancel screen, which
now occupies a position across the chancel archway, was originally in
the nave, and the former screen is placed in the north transept and
forms the vestry.

In the Clopton Chapel are to be found a number of excellent memorials
of the family, one of the finest being one against the wall of George
Carew, Earl of Totnes, and Baron Clopton and Joyce his wife. The
effigies of the Earl and Countess, which are of coloured alabaster, lie
under an arch supported by Corinthian columns. The Earl is in armour,
and the weapons and other warlike objects represented on the tomb
commemorate the fact that he was the Master of Ordnance of James I. The
High Tomb, which is without effigy or inscription, has numerous panels
formerly adorned with “latten” shields. It was thought that this tomb
was intended for Sir Hugh Clopton, Lord Mayor of London in 1492, from
the fact that he left directions that if he died at Stratford he was to
be buried there. He was, however, buried in St. Margaret’s, Lothbury.

Another interesting memorial placed against the north wall is that
of William Clopton and his wife Ann. The recumbent effigies are
respectively in armour and in a low–bodiced robe. William Clopton has
his head resting upon his helmet, whilst on the head of his wife is
a close–fitting hood with a peaked front. The tomb also has upon it
effigies of their children, some of whom are depicted as in swaddling
bands, indicating that they must have died in infancy.

Amongst the other objects of universal interest in this fine church
are the old font, in which Shakespeare is supposed to have been
baptized; and the ancient register of the church, wisely protected by a
glass case placed at the western end of the north aisle, containing the
entries of Shakespeare’s baptism and burial, and many other records of
interest.

The Shakespeare Memorial buildings, which stand adjoining the Bancroft
Gardens at the foot of Chapel Lane by the river, form an imposing and
fairly picturesque pile in the Elizabethan style of architecture; but
which, frankly, to most people must in its newness appear somewhat out
of character with the general atmosphere of the old town. The buildings
contain a Library; Theatre, capable of seating nearly 900 persons; a
Picture Gallery; and Central Tower. The idea of a national memorial
to the nation’s poet had been several times brought forward prior to
the autumn of 1874, when Mr. Charles E. Flower presented the fine
site on which the Memorial stands, and the sum of £1000, coupled with
the suggestion that the Memorial should take the form of a Theatre. A
committee was formed, and the first stone was laid on Shakespeare’s
Day, April 23, 1877. The Theatre portion was opened on the same day
two years later, and the whole building was completed in 1883. Many
years before, David Garrick had made the suggestion that a “school for
actors” should be founded at Stratford, but this idea—with several
others mooted at various times—was never proceeded with.

In the Library, which is on the ground floor, are more than 10,000
volumes relating to Shakespeare, his works and times; a collection
alike valuable to the student of the poet and to those who would seek
to know what were the modes of life and manners of the Elizabethan
age. The Picture Gallery contains some interesting portraits of famous
actors and actresses, a copy of the Davenant bust of the poet, and
a portrait of Shakespeare, from which some authorities claim that
the Droeshout engraving was made. Whether this latter supposition is
correct or not is still in dispute; and, indeed, around the whole
question of its authenticity has raged a fierce battle, in which many
artists and antiquarians of note have at various times taken part. The
portrait is on an elm panel, and bears date 1609. The most interesting
point is what became of the portrait from which Droeshout engraved
his? For many years it had been untraceable, but some few years ago
the picture in question was presented to the Memorial by Mrs. Flower.
Such well–known authorities as Mr. Sidney Lee and Mr. Salt Brassington
are inclined, for reasons into which it is impossible to enter here,
to accept the portrait as that from which Droeshout engraved his,
with which Shakespeare’s friend Ben Jonson would appear to have been
satisfied as being a good representation of his dead friend. If
authentic, it is unnecessary to add that it forms the most important
relic of Shakespeare we have.

Of the many other pictures in the Gallery, the several portraits of
Garrick by Reynolds, Pine, and others; the one of John Kemble by Sir
Thomas Lawrence; Bell’s fine picture of Miss Ada Rehan as Katharina in
“The Taming of the Shrew,” and subject pictures by Reynolds, Nomney,
Opie, Smirke, and others claim especial notice.

In the Theatre, the drop curtain of which—an interesting one by
Beverley—illustrates Queen Elizabeth going in state to the opening
of the Globe Theatre, are given annually during the week in which
Shakespeare’s birthday comes representations of various of his plays.
The building is also occasionally used by travelling dramatic companies.

In the Bancroft Gardens stands the statue and monument sculptured by
Lord Ronald Gower, and presented by him, around the base of which are
excellent figures of Prince Henry, Hamlet, Falstaff, and Lady Macbeth.

Linking the past with the present age of letters is the fact that in
the fine old house in Church Street, called Mason’s Croft, resides
Miss Marie Corelli, the writer and novelist, whose interest in the
preservation of old buildings in Stratford and Shakespearian survivals
is well known.

After the birthplace and perhaps Holy Trinity Church, there is
no spot connected with Shakespeare so visited as Anne Hathaway’s
traditional home at Shottery, distant about a mile from Stratford,
just off the Alcester Road. Unhappily there is no satisfactory proof
that the house was ever tenanted by Anne Hathaway’s parents, or that
Anne herself was at Shottery at all. All that is certain is that the
picturesque, half–timbered, and thatched dwelling to which so many
pilgrims yearly journey was, about Shakespeare’s time, tenanted by one
Richard Hathaway, who was the head of one of the three families of
the same surname resident in the district. On his death his property
was divided, and in bequeathing certain sums of money to his children
he mentioned three daughters by name, of whom an Agnes was one. This
name was at that period often the equivalent of Anne. In his will
one Thomas Whittington, a shepherd of Stratford, is mentioned as a
creditor, and later on in Whittington’s will appears a bequest to the
poor of the town of Stratford of eleven shillings lying “in the hand
of Anne Shaxpere, wyfe unto Mr. Wyllyam Shaxpere, and is due debt unto
me.” The witnesses of the poet’s marriage bond also appear in Richard
Hathaway’s will, one as witness and the other as supervisor. These
facts, although, it must be admitted, by no means proving that Anne
Hathaway was the daughter of the occupier of the cottage, formerly a
considerable farmhouse, are certainly evidence of some weight in favour
of the tradition. The property was acquired by the trustees of the
birthplace in 1892, and this fact has, of course, conferred a certain
imprimatur of authenticity upon the building.

Much more of interest might be written of this fascinating town
which, although the resort of so many thousands from all parts of the
world almost the year through, yet seems without effort to preserve an
atmosphere even in these modern times not altogether out of keeping
with the bygone age in which its most famous son lived. To whatever
cause, whether commercial or otherwise, this lingering savour of
romance and of past times is due, those who value antiquities, and who
revel in memorials of the days gone by, may be unfeignedly grateful.



CHAPTER XII

A GROUP OF SHAKESPEARE’S VILLAGES


Around Stratford lie grouped quite a number of villages which
Shakespeare undoubtedly knew and visited, and possibly described in
one or other of his plays and poems. Great as is the attraction of
Stratford itself to many, there will be also pleasurable interests
found in the old–world villages which lie within easy distance. In them
and about them, indeed, there still lingers much of the “atmosphere”
of Shakespearian times, and in travelling to them along winding roads
and leafy by–ways one breathes the wider air of the Feldon and Arden,
and from the summits of their little hills can catch glimpses of the
district which Speed, not altogether unwarrantably, referred to as
another Eden. In the fields still toil peasants little differing,
in the more retired spots, in mode of life from those who toiled in
Shakespeare’s days, gathering the harvest of peas in autumn, or sowing
them in spring. Some, of course, who garner the peas are merely birds
of passage, wayside toilers, here to–day and gone to–morrow; but many
others are natives of the place or neighbourhood in which they dwell,
speaking with much the same voices and phraseology as the peasants of
Shakespeare’s time.

[Illustration: RUGBY SCHOOL.]

Through sweet Warwickshire lanes and by–paths one may reach many a
retired village well worth seeing, and wander, as Shakespeare wandered,
into places which he undoubtedly knew. In spring and summer few
counties can show a richer wealth of wayside flowers, or a greater
glory of leaf and bud; and the autumn is not less lovely. If only
for the beauty of the lanes and the by–ways many will feel rewarded
in making a pilgrimage to some of the spots which we shall briefly
describe.

Some six miles north–west of Stratford, close to the banks of the
picturesque little River Alne, lies Aston Cantlow, anciently known as
Estone Cantilupe. The first portion of the old name having probably a
reference to its position as regards Alcester, from which it is distant
five miles; and the latter part being derived from William de Cantelu,
or Cantilupe, a man of considerable power and influence in the reign of
King John, from whom he obtained a charter for the holding of a market
and a yearly fair.

The family of Cantilupe appears to have possessed the manor for rather
more than half a century, from 1205 to 1272.

The village is a very pretty one, and has additional interest in its
fine church, dating principally from the end of the thirteenth century.
Originally the family of Cantilupe erected or possessed a castle here,
some traces of the earthworks of which are still to be seen close to
the River Alne, on the north side of the church. The ancient moat
is quite clearly traceable, and this at flood–tide is filled by the
overflow of the river.

There is a fine half–timbered house in the village (now, alas! split
up into small tenements), which was formerly the hall of the “Guild
of the Blessed Virgin.” The church itself consists of chancel, nave,
north aisle and chapel, and a south porch, and it has at the western
end an embattled tower with pinnacles. The roof, which is probably
the original one, is cradle pattern, with the rafters trussed with
curved braces. There is a somewhat elementary but very interesting
stone carving over the north door of the nave, depicting the Virgin
Mary in bed with the infant Christ, whilst St. Joseph stands at the
foot. The date of this work it is difficult to fix absolutely, but
it seems probable that it dates from the beginning of the fourteenth
century. The western end of the north aisle contains an uncommon newel
staircase, originally intended to serve as a means of communication
between the church and some upper parvise or chamber; but this
apartment can never have been completed, as the stairs lead nowhere.
In the chancel are an interesting triple sedilia, a piscina, and a
credence table, all connected together by means of a moulding, which
terminates in two carved heads. The church also contains a fifteenth
century octagonal font, placed on a short shaft, each face of which is
ornamented by a sunk panel embellished with a quatrefoil placed in a
circle, and having a rose in the centre. At the east end of the church
is the chantry chapel of the “Guild of the Blessed Virgin,” in which
are two old–fashioned open pews, noticeable for the carved poppy heads
which adorn the elbows.

In the chapel are also an ancient _prie–Dieu_, and two old wooden
candelabra, each having five receptacles, and pedestals of carved
foliated work. It is probable that these formerly did service as
“elevation” candlesticks, and were placed on the lower steps of the
altar, to be lighted at high festivals and during the elevation of the
Host.

Most of the woodwork of the church dates from the fifteenth century,
and is well worth examination. To the Shakespearian students the
building, of course, has an added interest from the fact that it
seems very probable that it was here John, Shakespeare’s father, was
married to Mary Arden in 1557. Of the eight villages referred to in the
rhyme traditionally ascribed (but apparently without foundation) to
Shakespeare, which runs as follows—

  Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston,
  Haunted Hillborough, Hungry Grafton,
  Dodging Exhall, Papist Wixford,
  Beggarly Broom, and Drunken Bidford—

two, Pebworth and Dancing Marston, are over the borders in
Gloucestershire, and scarcely call for detailed mention here.

Temple Grafton, the “Hungry” Grafton of the rhyme, lies about five
miles south of Aston Cantlow. The village which is prettily situated
on elevated ground was, in the reign of Henry I., bestowed by Henry de
Grafton on the Knights Hospitallers, who afterwards gave a portion of
it to Simon de Arden. It bore the name of Grafton until the reign of
Henry VIII., and it is supposed that the word Grafton is derived from
the Anglo–Saxon _graef_, a moat or ditch, the word “Hungry” being an
epithet given it by reason of the poverty of the soil.

Billesley, a little village lying nearly midway between Stratford and
Alcester, is the third competitor for notoriety as the place where
the poet was married. The evidence in favour of Billesley is entirely
traditional, and may be dismissed, but there is one interesting fact in
connection with the place, _i.e._ that in 1639 Elizabeth, daughter of
Dr. and Mrs. Hall (Shakespeare’s son–in–law and daughter), was married
to Mr., afterwards Sir John, Barnard.

The manor–house at Billesley, comprising the south wing of the original
Elizabethan building, contains a room, the oak panelling of which is
said to have been brought from New Place. This chamber, which is known
as Shakespeare’s Room, is traditionally supposed to have been occupied
by the poet on the occasion of his visits to the house.

Hillborough lies close to the river, some four miles from Stratford,
down a by–road running almost due south from the main road. It is the
“Haunted” Hillborough of the rhyme, although the origin of the ghostly
prefix is lost in obscurity. It is a picturesque stone–gabled building,
beautifully trellised with ivy, which has lost one of its original
wings. Apparently the house dates from Tudor times, but bears traces
of several later additions and alterations. The interior contains an
interesting survival in the shape of ascham or locker for bows and
arrows in the corner of one of the oak–panelled rooms.

Hillborough seems chiefly noted nowadays for its profusion of fruit,
the trees in the garden bearing such heavy crops as to necessitate
their being propped in order to sustain them; whilst peaches and even
grapes ripen and come to maturity on the sunny south walls as they do
in few places in the county.

Travelling westward, about three–quarters of a mile outside Bidford one
comes to a small red–brick barn in a field on the right–hand side of
the roadway. About fifty yards farther, on the opposite side, near by
an iron gate, stands a young crab–apple tree, which, tradition asserts,
sprang from the ancient one known as “Shakespeare’s Crab Tree,” under
which the poet is reputed to have slumbered off the effects of a
drinking bout in which he had taken part at Bidford. The old tree,
however, stood farther in the field. It long ago disappeared, and it is
even doubtful, alas! whether the young tree is, after all, related in
any way to it.

From this point there is a magnificent view of the Worcestershire
hills, and also Ragley Hall, set deeply amid the surrounding woods.
Bidford, one of the most picturesque and charming old–world villages
in Warwickshire, is now speedily reached along the descending road.
There is little doubt that this village, noticeable for its picturesque
and old tiled houses—many of them creeper–grown and quaintly irregular
as regards their architecture—is a place of great antiquity, as it is
situated at the point where the ancient Icknield Street crosses the
River Avon.

Although but a small village nowadays formerly it was a market town,
the lordship of which was anciently given by King John to Llewellyn,
Prince of Wales, on the marriage of the latter to his daughter Joan.
The market was granted by Henry III. in 1220, and was still existent in
the reign of Elizabeth.

Bidford seems to have derived its somewhat unpleasant appellation
of “drunken” from the traditional tale which was published in the
_Gentleman’s Magazine_ in December 1794; wherein it was said that
formerly the village contained an Association or Club of Topers, who
took pride in the quantity of ale they could swallow without falling
under the table. These persons, tradition states, were in the habit
of challenging the residents in neighbouring places to a contest of
endurance, and those of Stratford–on–Avon were on one occasion so
invited to a trial of strength.

The story further states that Shakespeare was one of the party who
came over from Stratford, and with the rest of his companions was
speedily conquered and had to leave the scene of action. It was
whilst on the road home after the contest that Shakespeare and his
fellow–townsmen are stated to have laid themselves down in a drunken
state under the crab–apple tree.

However true or otherwise the story may be, certain it is that Bidford
in ancient times possessed a somewhat unenviable notoriety for
festivity and drunkenness.

In the reign of Edward I. the lordship of Bidford was purchased by
Robert Burnell, who, in addition to being Lord Treasurer and Lord
Chancellor of England, was also Bishop of Bath and Wells. It was
he who built the castle of Acton Burnell, Shropshire, at which the
first Parliament was held. In the reign of Henry VII. Bidford was the
property of Lord Lovell, which on his attainder escheated to the Crown,
Henry VIII. subsequently granting it to Gerard Danet.

Nowadays Bidford is chiefly distinguished as a resort of Shakespearian
pilgrims and excursionists. Its chief attractions are a fine and
picturesque old bridge spanning the Avon, built at the end of the
fifteenth century by the monks of Alcester to replace the existing ford.

The Church of St. Laurence, which is built on a slight knoll
overlooking the river almost at the Stratford end of the village,
possesses a tower of a most unusual type, the date of which it is very
difficult to fix. The church consists of a chancel, nave, and aisles;
the first named is Early English, but the nave and aisles were rebuilt
in 1835 in a very unfortunate and commonplace style. The windows of
the chancel are filled by rather good stained glass, some of it by
Capronnier of Brussels. Whatever failings the restored building may
have, the church plate is of undoubted interest. Probably of Spanish
workmanship, it is of silver gilt repoussé work, and was presented by
the Duchess of Dudley in 1665. The church chest, probably dating from
the sixteenth century, is of an unusual kind, possessing heavy bands
and hinges with three locks, and in the middle of each end a ring, such
as is frequently found in old sea–chests.

Quite close to the church is an interesting old Elizabethan house,
known as the Falcon Inn, built of stone, the gabled front containing
three stories, and the principal windows mullioned. Formerly there
was a picturesque projecting gallery, which was done away with
many years ago. It was at this same inn that tradition states two
fraternities known as the “Topers” and “Sippers” used to meet, and
here it is alleged Shakespeare was frequently found carousing with
his companions. Unfortunately the building is now divided up into
tenements. It was from here that the inn sign and chair—now located in
the birthplace—came.

Wixford Church is small and picturesque, and of mixed architecture.
One of the most pleasing portions of the building is the chantry
chapel of the fifteenth century, which possesses a very fine Tudor
arched window of five lights on the east, and three good windows of
the same kind on the south. In this beautiful chapel is a remarkably
large and handsome tomb of Thomas de Cruwe and his wife Juliana, who
died at the commencement of the fifteenth century. The figures are of
finely engraved brass under crocketed pedimental canopies, enclosed and
divided by slender buttresses. Thomas de Cruwe is attired in armour,
and his wife wears a coif with a veil depending to the shoulders, a
close–fitting gown bound in with a cord at the waist, and a long mantle
open in front. Above the canopies are fixed shields of arms, and the
badge of a human foot is seen both above and below the figures.

This Thomas de Cruwe was attorney to Margaret de Beauchamp, and steward
to Richard de Beauchamp.

The step to the chantry altar still remains, and on the south side of
it is an extremely interesting piscina, with a semi–octagon canopy
within a ogee double–pointed arch. There are also several early brasses
in the church of considerable interest.

In the churchyard itself is the base of a fine old fourteenth–century
cross, with three steps; the centrepiece was found buried at the foot
some years ago, and has a representation of the crucifixion on one
side, and the Virgin and Child on the other.

North–west some eight miles from Stratford is the small market town
of Henley–in–Arden, less retired and quiet, unhappily, nowadays than a
few years ago. Anciently one of the towns situated in the great Forest
of Arden, it still possesses a market cross, dating from the fifteenth
century. And although the church, unlike many churches of Warwickshire
villages, does not possess any features of special interest, within a
quarter of a mile from the town lies Beaudesert, well worth a visit.
The first thing which will strike the traveller on approaching the spot
are the earthworks, now known as the “Mound,” where, in the twelfth
century, Thurstan de Montfort erected a castle which was destroyed
during the Wars of the Roses. From the Mound is obtained one of the
finest views in Warwickshire, ranging from Edge Hill on the one hand to
the Cotswolds on the other, with the charming picture of Henley itself
in the near foreground. The earthworks are divided into three parts by
two cross ditches; the portion farthest away from the village with the
steepest sides was most probably the site of the keep.

The little Church of Beaudesert, probably built by De Montfort, and
originally the Castle Church, lies at the foot of the earthworks.
Although the church has been considerably restored it still contains
much Norman work; particularly is this noticeable in the eastern
window, which is ornamented with zigzag, star and indented mouldings.
The chancel arch is also a fine specimen of Norman work, recessed and
ornamented with wave and tooth mouldings. The tower dates only from the
fifteenth century, but the walls and nave of the chancel are Norman,
with some fourteenth–century windows inserted. There is an interesting
holy water stoup on the east side of the south door, of about the same
period as the doorway itself; and in the north wall are two small
splayed Norman windows, the wall itself being of the thickness of five
feet.

In the whole of Warwickshire there is scarcely more beautiful scenery
to be found than in the immediate neighbourhood of Henley–in–Arden.
Here are still some few scattered remnants left of the great forest
which once covered the district so thickly, but which was gradually cut
down to meet the necessities of the iron furnaces of Aston, Birmingham,
and other places. Indeed, the destruction of the Forest of Arden may be
considered as having been brought about almost entirely by the means we
have indicated. Here, too, may be found, often hidden away in by–lanes,
picturesque survivals of the thatched and half–timbered cottages,
which are, alas! now disappearing one by one to make room for modern
erections, the ugliness of whose architecture is too often a blot on
their surroundings.

Only about a mile and a half from Stratford itself is Clopton House,
once the manor–house of the Clopton family, whose name is so closely
identified with Stratford, and to whom the manor was granted in the
thirteenth century. Most of the present house was built in the latter
part of the fifteenth century, in the reign of Henry VII.; but it
has been much altered at various periods, chiefly when the south and
eastern portions were reconstructed by Sir Edward Walker about 1665,
in the reign of Charles II. The house has also been restored in recent
times. There is a good Jacobean oak staircase, and in the bay–window of
the dining–room are the shields of several of the Cloptons.

In the attic story is a room used by the Roman Catholics as a chapel
in the times succeeding the Reformation, when such worship was a penal
offence. On the walls are still decipherable Scriptural texts in black
letter. A licence was granted by Pope Sixtus IV. to John Clopton and
his heirs at the end of the fourteenth century, to enable them to
have Mass said in this private chapel, opposite which is the Priests’
Chamber.

The house has additional historical interest as the residence, in 1605,
of Ambrose Rokewood, one of the chief conspirators in the Gunpowder
Plot, and from the fact that it was here Catesby, Winter, the Wrights,
and others used to assemble. After the failure of the plot Clopton
was raided by the bailiff of Stratford, and amongst other things,
consisting of papers, etc., was seized a bag containing “copes,
vestments, crosses, crucifixes, chalices, and other massing reliques,”
belonging to the then tenant, a full inventory of which is deposited in
the Museum at Stratford.

In the grounds are several small ponds, and beyond them a spring,
now arched over, where Margaret Clopton is stated to have drowned
herself in 1588, as a result of a love affair. It is supposed that
this incident suggested to Shakespeare’s mind the death of Ophelia,
and there seems some considerable probability that the second scene of
the introduction of “The Taming of the Shrew” is represented as taking
place at Clopton House.

About four miles from Stratford, along the Kineton Road, lies
Charlecote, in a picturesque park prettily situated close to the
junction of the Wellesbourne brook with the Avon. It was here, of
course, that the somewhat apocryphal deer–stealing exploits of
Shakespeare are said to have taken place. Whether there is any
foundation in fact or not for the tradition, it seems certain that
there was some considerable amount of friction at one time existing
between the then owner, Sir Thomas Lucy, and the poet. But whether,
as has been suggested by some, this circumstance had its rise in a
difference of religion, or from some other cause, it has never been
possible to determine. It is supposed by some that at the actual time
the deer–stealing is stated to have taken place there were none at
Charlecote, although there were in the parks of Fulbroke, which also
belonged to the Lucys, and it may even be that it was at the latter
place and not the former that the poaching took place, if at all.
Whatever truth there may be in the story there seems little doubt that
the poet satirised Sir Thomas Lucy in “The Merry Wives of Windsor”
under the guise of “Mr. Justice Shallow.”

The village of Charlecote was granted to Walter de Charlecote by
Henry de Montfort in the reign of Richard I. In the year 1216 William
de Charlecote, son of the original owner, assumed the name of Lucy,
by which the family has ever since been known. The present house,
which was erected by Sir Thomas Lucy in 1558, probably occupies much
the same site as that of the older mansion. With the exception of the
dining–room and library, which were added in 1833, Charlecote remains
to–day practically as it was in the Elizabethan age. It is approached
from the road through an ancient gate–house, one of the most beautiful
and well–preserved specimens of Elizabethan architecture still extant,
the upper story of which is supposed to have anciently been used as a
banqueting–room.

The house itself is also of red brick with stone dressings, and in the
ground plan is very much of the shape of the letter E. The mansion,
which is in a beautiful state of preservation throughout, contains the
great Hall, a very handsome chamber with a fine bay window, in which
are the family arms blazoned in the upper part, and a large number of
family portraits by noted artists of different periods, including,
amongst others, some fine examples of the work of Cornelis Janssens,
Dahl Kneller, De Manara, and Lely. The dining–room, which has a fine
panelled plaster ceiling of Elizabethan design, also contains some
admirable pictures, and from its windows are charming views of the Avon
and the Wellesbourne Brook, and the famous and stately avenue of lime
trees.

Charlecote has witnessed several historic scenes, the chief of which
are the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Sir Thomas Lucy when on her way
from Warwick to Compton Wynyates, August 24, 1572, and the presence in
the park of the Scottish Army on its way northward from Hereford on
September 9, 1745. Just two hundred years before which date John Fox,
the noted martyrologist, came as a guest to Charlecote and remained
there for some considerable period. In this house one has an almost
unique example of the higher type of purely domestic architecture of
the Elizabethan age, preserved with a success which makes it possible
for those who visit it to realise in a measure the needs and ambitions
of those spacious days when Elizabeth honoured so many of her noble or
distinguished subjects with visits.



                                 Index


  Æthelflæd, 9, 11, 44, 104

  Æthelred, 11, 44

  Alfred the Great and Warwickshire, 11

  Ancient manor–houses, 174–201

  Aragon, Catherine of, 98

  Arden, Mary (Shakespeare’s mother), 212

  “Arden, The Black Dog of”, 71
    Forest of, 6, 203, 251

  Armada, Warwickshire and the, 25

  Asbies, 212, 214–15

  Aston Cantlow, 212, 242

  Augustinians, the, in Warwickshire, 18, 127


  Bacon, Francis, 213

  Baddesley Clinton, 174–9
    Hall, illust., p. _128_, 179

  Barnet, battle of, 97

  Barons’ War, 16–17

  Baskerville, John, printer, 167

  Beacons, 199–200

  Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick, illust., p. _57_

  Beauchamp, Guy de, 71
    Richard, 60, 63, 68; tomb, 63
    Thomas, the first Earl of Warwick, 60
    Thomas, the second Earl of Warwick, effigies of, 59

  Berington, Joseph, 167

  Bermingham, De, 156

  Bidford, 245–7
    Bridge, illust., p. _224_

  Billesley, 244

  Birmingham, 38–40, 154–71
    ancient buildings, 168

  Birmingham benefactors, 171
    Boulton, Matthew, 165
    Burne–Jones, Sir E., 169
    Churches—St. John’s, Deritend, 169;
    St. Martin’s, 157–8, 168
    cotton–spinning machinery introduced, 165
    early fame for metal work, 159–60
    Free Grammar School of King Edward VI., 158
    Leather Market, 160
    Leland’s description (1538), 158–9
    “Lunar Club”, or “Soho Circle”, 166
    in mediæval times, 158
    modern, 171
    name, origin of, 154
    population at various periods, 163
    Public Buildings, 171
    Roman Catholicism, 170
    sack and burning of, 36
    situation, 157
    Soho Works, famous, 165–7
    streets, first paved, 161
    trade in 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, 164–8
    the Plague, 163
    Watt, James, 165

  Black Canons, 127

  Bolingbroke, Henry, at Gosford Green, 95

  Bonaparte, Napoleon, portrait of, 69

  Boughton, Richard, 23

  Boulton, Matthew, and the “Soho”, Works, 165

  Brooke, Lord, 30

  Browning, Mrs., and Warwickshire scenery, 2

  Burne–Jones, Sir E., and Birmingham, 169

  Burton Dassett, 31–2, 35, 199
    at time of Civil War, 31
    Beacon, 199
    Church, 35, 199–201

  Butler’s Marston, 32

  Camden’s description of Warwickshire, 159

  Cantilupe, family of, 242

  Canute ravages Warwickshire, 12

  Castle, Brandon, and the “Barons’ War”, 16

  Catesby, Robert, and the “Gunpowder Plot”, 26

  Charlecote, 21, illust., p. _233_

  Charles I., 29
    at Edge Hill, 32

  Charles II., 103

  Chineworth or Kenilworth, 129

  Civil War, 102
    War in 1642, 64

  Clopton family, 235
    Sir Hugh, 202, 208, 219

  Compton family, the, 190

  Compton Wynyates, 189–201

  Coombe Abbey, 18, 97

  Corn Laws, repeal of the, and Birmingham, 40

  Cornavii in Warwickshire, 4

  Cornelias Bungey, martyr, 25

  Cotton–spinning, 165

  Coughton Court, 27, illust., p. _16_

  Coventry, 21, 36, 38, 89
    architecture, mediæval, 104
    Bablake Hospital, 119
    Bablake School, 119
    Charter of Henry III., 94
    Churches—Benedictine Monastery, 105;
      Grey Friars, 104;
      Holy Trinity, 109;
      St. Michael’s, 95, 105, 108
    constitution of Municipal Corporation, 94
    county of, 96
    Fair, 94
    Feast of St. George, 97
    festivals, 99
    foundation, 89
    Godiva, legend of Lady, 90
    Guilds, Religious and Trade, 99

  Coventry, “Hock Tuesday”, 99
    in Domesday Book, 93
    letters from Royal personages, 118
    Mary Queen of Scots at, 101, 118
    monasteries, 94, 98
    “Mysteries”, 143
    origin of name, 89
    pageants, 98
    Peeping Tom, 92
    population in Domesday Book, 94;
      in 1510, 98
    portraits of Royal personages, 117, 119
    Priory, 96
    Queen Elizabeth’s visit, 99
    statues of Royal personages, 114, 115
    the Civil War, 102
    the stocks, 113
    visit of Henry VI., 115
    walls and gates, 94

  Cromwell, Oliver, and Civil War, 33, 35

  Cropredy and Civil War, 31–2

  Cucking stool, 60

  Cumnor Place and Amy Robsart, 135


  Danish invaders, 10, 44
    nomenclature, 11
    settlement, 11

  Darwin, Dr., and Birmingham, 167

  Dickens at Leamington, 153

  “Dombey and Son”, and Leamington, 153

  Domesday Book, 15, 93, 146, 157, 203

  Drayton, Michael, 2

  Dubritius, St., 44, 68, 70

  Dudley, Ambrose, 63
    John, 24
    Robert, 64, 130, 138

  Dugdale the historian and Warwickshire, 30, 155

  Dunchurch, illust., p. _25_, 27


  Earthquake (1085), 18

  Edge Hill, 30, 34

  Edward III. and Coventry, 94

  Edward the Confessor, 15

  “Eliot, George”, 8, 187

  Elizabeth, Queen, 54, 99, 118, 216

  Elizabeth’s, Queen, visit to Kenilworth, 131–4

  Essex, Lord, 30

  Evans, Mary Ann, 187

  “Everyman”, the “mystery”, play, 99

  Exhall, 96, 244


  Fawkes, Guido, family history of, 27

  Ferrers, family of, 175

  Fisher family, the, 180
    Sir Robert, 31

  Fosse–way, 5


  George IV. at Leamington, 150

  Glover, Robert, martyr, 25

  Godiva, Lady, 92, 107, 119

  Gosford Green, execution of Earl Rivers on, 97

  Great Frost, 213

  Greatheed, Bertie, and Guy’s Cliffe, 68

  Greville, Sir Fulke, and Warwick Castle, 60, 73–4
    Robert, 30

  Grey Friars, 94

  Grey, Lady Jane, 24

  Gunpowder Plot, Warwickshire and the, 26

  Guy’s Cliffe, 67, illust., p. _64_


  Hampden, John, at battle of Edge Hill, 34

  Harold and Warwickshire, 13

  Hathaway, Anne, 217;
    cottage of, 240;
    house of, 239

  Hathaway’s House, 224

  Hawthorne, Nathaniel, at Leamington, 145

  Henley–in–Arden, 249, 251, illust., p. _4_

  Henry IV. and Coventry, 95

  “Henry VI”, 19, 95–6, 115

  Henry VII., 98, 117

  Henry VIII., 98
    and the Duke of Buckingham, 191, 193

  Hillborough, 244–5

  “Hock Tuesday”, 99, 133

  “Hungry”, Grafton, illust., p. _208_

  Hwicci, 4


  Icknield Street, 246
    Way, 5, 6

  James I., 74
    and Coventry, 102
    at Compton Wynyates, 196

  James II. at Coventry, 103


  Kemble, Sarah, at Guy’s Cliffe, 69

  Kenilworth, 31, 118, 125–43
    Castle—best approach, 136;
    in Dudley’s time, 131;
    Queen Elizabeth visits, 131
    Church, 126
    in Domesday Book, 129
    name, origin of, 128
    Priory, 127
    situation, 125

  Kineton and the Civil War, 32

  “King Maker”, the, 21–2

  Kingsbury and the Mercian Kings, 9

  Knights Templars, 22, 55


  Lancaster, Henry of, and Coventry, 21

  Landor, Walter Savage, and Warwick, 58

  Leamington, 144–53
    and Abbotts, Dr., 149
    in Domesday Book, 146
    George IV., visit of, 150
    hunting at, 151
    name, origin of, 146
    Nathaniel Hawthorne on, 145
    Parade, illust., p. _112_
    population of, 145
    Public Gardens, 152
    Ruskin, John, on, 151
    Satchwell, Benj., poet, 149
    situation of, 144
    Spa, 148
    Victoria, Princess at, 151

  Leicester, Earl of, 16–17, 64

  Leicester’s Hospital, Warwick, illust., p. _48_

  Lewis, Mrs. Joyce, martyr, 25

  Lindsey, Earl of, strange prayer of, 33

  Little Wolford, 201
    Manor–House, illust., p. _160_

  Long Itchington, 30

  Long Marston, 37

  Lord Compton, illust., p. _169_

  Lucy, Sir Henry, death of, at battle of
    Northampton, 21


  Macready on Leamington, 150

  Margaret, Queen, at Coventry, 115

  Mary Queen of Scots at Coventry, 101, 118–19

  Maxstoke, Castle of, 181–7
    Priory of, 18, 181

  Mediæval architecture, 104, 181

  Merevale Abbey, 18

  Monasteries, 19

  Monastic institutions, 98

  Montfort, Henry de, and Barons’ War, 17
    Simon de, and Barons’ War, 16

  Mowbray, Thomas de, 95

  Murdock, William, inventor of gas lighting, 167

  “Mysteries”, or sacred plays, 99

  Mytton’s Jack, exploits at Leamington, 153


  Nash family and Shakespeare, 224

  Neville, Richard, 21

  Newburg, Henry de, and Warwick Castle, 45

  Newburgh, John de, 45


  Oken, Thomas, 59


  Packington Hall, 179–80
    Old Hall, 31, 37

  Parliamentarians, 32, 64

  “Parliamentum Diabolicum”, 96

  Parr, William, 60

  “Peeping Tom”, illust., p. _73_, 92

  Picts and Scots, 8, 44

  Plague, the, 101, 163, 213

  Plessetis, John de, 46

  Prayer, Earl of Lindsey’s, 33

  Priestley, Dr., 167


  Quaint customs of Warwick, 66


  Reform Bill, 39

  Religious orders, 18–19, 94

  Richard II., Play of, 95, 98

  Rivers, Earl, execution of, 97

  Robsart, Amy, 73, 126

  Roman Catholic religion and Shakespeare family, 215

  Roman occupation, 4
    remains, 7

  Roses, the Wars of the, 21

  Rous, John, historian, 68, 90

  Royalists, 31

  Rugby School, illust., p. _240_

  Rupert, Prince, 30, 33, 34, 36

  Ruskin, John, and Leamington, 151


  Salford Priors, illust., p. _9_

  Satchwell, Benjamin, Leamington’s poet, 149

  Saxon nomenclature, 13

  Saxon occupation, 14
    remains, 14

  Scott, Gilbert G., R.A., 111

  Scott, Sir Walter, 126, 128, 135

  Seckington, 9

  Secret hiding places, 176, 197

  Shakespeare, John, 211, 212, 214

  Shakespeare, William, 26, 120
    arms and motto of, 216
    birth of, 26, 212
    birthday of, 211
    birthplace of, 211, 219–26, illust., p. _185_
    bust of, 222, 233
    character pictures, 238–9
    death of, 219
    early life of, 216
    family of, 211–14, 217–18
    memorial buildings, 237
    portraits of, 222, 224, 238
    relics of, 223
    wedding, 217

  “Shovel Board”, game of, 193

  Siddons, Mrs., 69

  Snitterfield, 211, 212, 214

  Soho Works, Birmingham, 165

  Southam, 31, illust., p. _32_

  St. John, Knights of, 55

  Stocks at Coventry, 113

  Stoke, 96

  Stoneleigh Abbey, 18, illust., p. _105_

  Stratford–on–Avon, 202–40, illust., p. _201_
    almshouses, 231
    ancient architecture at., 210, 226, 229, 231
    benefactors of, 206
    bridges, 208
    Celtic remains at, 203
    Clopton, Sir Hugh, and, 208
    fires at, 210
    first record of existence, 203
    Grammar School, 231
    Guild Hall, 229
    Guild of the Holy Cross, 207, 227
    Hathaway’s house, 224
    Holy Trinity, Church of the, 204, 231
    incorporation of, 209
    in Elizabethan times, 209
    Market Cross, 223
    markets and fairs, 205–6
    Shakespeare’s birthplace at, 219–26
    Shakespeare’s Museum, 223
    Shakespeare’s property, 218, 221, 223


  Tamworth, 9

  Tangye family and Birmingham, 181

  Tewkesbury, battle of, 97

  Thornton, John, glass maker, 115

  Tudor Rose, crest of, at Compton Wynyates, 191, 196

  Turchill, Earl of Warwick, 45

  Tysoe villages, 32


  War of the Barons, 16–17

  Warbeck, Perkin, 23

  Warwick, 37, 38, 43
    ancient buildings and relics, 48
    Churches, etc.—Beauchamp Chapel, 57, 62;
      John the Baptist, 56; St.
      Helen, 56;
      St. James, 48;
      St. John’s Hospital, 55;
      St. Lawrence, 56;
      St. Mary, 56, 59, 66;
      St. Michael, 56;
      St. Nicholas, 56, 66;
      St. Peter, 56;
      St. Sepulchre Priory, 53, 56
    cucking stool, 62
    Danish invasion of, 44
    early names of, 43, 44
    fair established 13th century, 46
    fire (1694), 57
    Guild of St. George, 49
    history and romance of, 43–69
    municipal history of, 47
    origin of, 43
    Picts and Scots and, 44
    Priory, 18
    ramparts, 67
    size at Norman conquest, 44

  Warwick Castle, 67, 70–88, illust., p. _41_
    art treasures of, 79
    besieged by Royalists, 74
    Cæsar’s Tower, 72
    “Guy’s Porridge Pot”, 78
    James I. entertained at, 74
    origin, 70
    pictures in, 79, 82–3
    property of Crown, 73
    Queen Elizabeth entertained at, 73
    Royalty entertained at, 74
    Shakespeare relics at, 85
    “Vase”, 86

  Warwick, “the King Maker”, 21–2

  Warwickshire monasteries, 19
    and the Civil War, 36
    and the Danish occupation, 11
    and the Saxon occupation, 14
    compared with Derbyshire, 1
    historical associations of, 4
    in the Domesday Book, 15, 93, 146, 157, 203
    in Roman times, 5
    in Saxon times, 8
    origin of name, 4
    scenery, 2, 251
    Shakespeare’s allusions to, 3
    villages, 241–54

  Watling Street, 5, 6

  Watt, James, and Birmingham, 165

  Wedmore, Treaty of, 11

  Whipping Post at Coventry, 113

  White Friars, 94

  Withering, Dr., and Birmingham, 167

  Wixford, 243, 248

  Wormleighton, 32
    House, 31


                                THE END



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.





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