Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant


places mentioned

Stone to Stafford

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IMMEDIATELY after leaving Stonefield, reached the little town of Stone, a place remarkable for religious antiquity. Legend tells us, that the before-mentioned Wulferus, then a Pagan, put to death his two sons, Wulfad and Rufin, on suspicion of favoring the Christian faith; Wulfad at this place, Rufin at Burston, about three miles distant. Over each, stones were erected, as usual, in memory of the dead; whence the names of these places are derived. Wulfere, after this unnatural deed, was struck with the utmost remorse, and, by the influence of his queen and St. Cedda, or Chad, who lived in a neighboring hermitage, was converted to the religion he had so lately persecuted; and, by way of expiating his guilt, among other works of piety, founded at Stone a college of canons regular, about the year 670. His queen Ermenilda is said to have also founded a nunnery here. On the invasion of the Danes, the religious were dispersed; but on the abatement of the cruelty of those barbarians, it is probable they returned, or at lest a new establishment was formed. This is certain, that religious were found here after the Conquest; for there is an idle tale of two nuns and a priest being slain there, by Enysan, a Norman. This Enysan, of Walton, was the true re-founder. Caution must be used in reading the histories of these times, which are filled with pious romance. Little credit should also be given to the murder of the sons of Wulfere. The Saxon Chronicle is silent about the deed. That prince was a convert to Christianity, and seems to have founded the house through the common motives of zeal.

Enysan, on his re-establishment of this house, filled it with canons from Kenelworth, and made it a cell to that place. The Staffords, who were his superiors, assumed the honor of this new foundation; and a second Robert de Stafford, about the year 1260, rendered it independent of Kenelworth, excepting the right of patronage, and a yearly pension. The church of this priory was the place of interment of several of this great family; and numbers of magnificent tombs, with their figures in alabaster, lay there till the dissolution; when they were removed to the Augustines, on Stafford Green. On the road-side is a fragment of a thick wall, perhaps a remnant of the priory. The church is quite new, and is a very elegant building, dedicated to St. Wulfad, one of the supposed martyrs. At the time of the suppression, a tablet, giving the whole history of the house, was hung up in the priory: it is related in old English metre; but is so tedious, that I must refer the readers, who desire to peruse it, to the cited author.1

As soon as I left Stone, I saw on the right a large house called Aston, originally the property of a branch of the Heveninghams of Suffolk. Walter, the last of the line, left two daughters; the second (who only had children) conveyed by marriage the estate to Sir James Simeon, who rebuilt the hall. He also built in the garden a mausoleum; in which, I think, he is interred. The place is at present the property of Edward Weld, Esq. of Lulworth castle, in Dorsetshire, and descended to him of late years, by virtue of a marriage of an ancestor with a daughter of this house, in the reign of Charles II.

THE road from this place, for several miles, passes along a pretty vale, watered by the Trent, bounded by two hills, and much enlivened by the course of the canal. About the third mile from Stone, I went by Burston, a small hamlet, noted formerly for a chapel erected over the spot where Rufin, second son of Wulfere, was supposed to have been martyred; and on that account, in old times, greatly frequented by the devout.

ABOUT a quarter of a mile from hence, on the top of a hill, stands the church of Sandon . This manor, in the twentieth of William the Conqueror, was in the hands of the king; who bestowed it on Hugh Lupus; and he again gave it to William de Malbang, or Nantwich. It passed from this family (by the gift of Adena, second daughter of William, grandson to the former) to Warren de Verdon; and by his daughter Alditha, to Sir William Stafford; and by the marriage of Margaret, daughter of one of his descendants, in the twelfth of Edward III. to Thomas of Erdeswik. It continued in possession of that family till the reign of James I. In his time it was sold to George Digby, groom of the stole to that monarch, by his half-brother Richard Erdeswik. Charles Lord Gerard, of Bromley, became master of it, by marriage with a daughter of Mr. Digby; whose granddaughter, by matching with William Duke of Hamilton, conveyed it to Lord Archibald Hamilton ; who, in 1776, disposed of it to Lord Harrowby. A law-suit concerning this place gave rise to the fatal duel, in November 1712, between James Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun; in which both combatants lost their lives.

THE antient mansion stood near the church, within a moat; but is now demolished, and a beautiful house,2 commanding a fine view, was built by Lord Archibald Hamilton, on an eminence impending over the Chester road. The steep slope is beautiful, cloathed with plantations of recent date, but extremely flourishing.

THE church is in the gift of Lord Harrowby. Before the dissolution, it belonged to the abbey of Cumbermere; being bestowed on it by the founder, Hugh de Malbang .

THE monuments are curious. The finest is in memory of the celebrated Sampson Erdeswik, the learned antiquary of the county; a faithful guide of all that concerned the families, till his death, which happened in 1603. He might have spared himself the expence of a monument; his work would have perpetuated his name. He erected one in his life-time; and is represented recumbent, a colossal figure in a jacket with short skirts, and spurs on his legs. Above, in two niches, are his two wives, kneeling: the one was Elizabeth Dikeswel; the other Maria Neale, widow to Sir Everard Digby, and mother to the unfortunate victim to the gunpowder plot. Besides inscriptions to these ladies, is a pedigree of the house; for which, as well as several other epitaphs of the Erdeswiks, the reader is referred to the Appendix.3

I shall only mention, that the tombs are of the altar-form, and have the figures of the persons commemorated engraved on the stone.

THE inscription on a plain marble tomb, in memory of Mr. Digby, once owner of the place, is very worthy of preservation: as it records a remarkable piece of history, I shall give it here at length, and add notes to the obscure parts.

Si quis hie jaceat, roges, viator,
Georgius Digbaeus ,
Armiger.
Vir (si quis alius) celebrati nominis.
Nobili clarus prosapia, sed vita nobiliori:
Quippe qui
Ipsum nobilitatis fontem caeno turbatum
Demum limpidum reddidit:
Hoc est
Ut memet explicem,
Qui regis Jacobi purpuram
Maledicti Schopii 4 dicterici foedatam
Obtrectatoris sanguine5
Retirixit.
Nee tamen homuncionem penitus sustulit
Sed gravius stigma fronti incussit
Quam Henricus magnus
Libello,6
Quo scilicet toto vitae curriculo
(Utpote omnium contemptui expositus)
Sensit se mori.
Hujus egregii facinoris intuitu
A Jacobo honoribus auctus est
Digboeus
Meritis tandem annisque plenus
Vivere desiit, semper victurus.

Ipsis Idibus Decembris, a. {
AEtatis suae LXXXVI.
Tanti herois laudes
Licet non taceant historici
Haec saxa loqui curavit
Lectissima heroina Jana Baronissa Gerrard
De Bromley ,
Clarissimi Digboei filia
Superstes unica.

FROM Sandon the hills recede to the north. I directed my course to Chartley, about four miles and a half distant, and about three north from the great road. This venerable pile is built round a court, and great part of it is curiously made of wood, embattled at top, and the sides carved. In many places are the arms of the Devereux; the devices of the Ferrars and Garnishes; and, in Saxon characters, the initials of the founder, W. D. (Walter Devereux) with the motto Loial suis je. Over the door of the gateway is carved a head in profile, with a crown above. In the middle of the court stands a fountain: and the whole building is surrounded with a moat. The view within the court is faithfully shewn in Plot, tab. v.

IN several of the windows are painted glass. In the great bow-window of the hall are the horse-shoes, the antient device of the Ferrars; in others, the arms of that family, of the Devereux, Garnishes, and Shirlies. A bed is still preserved here, the work of Mary Stuart, who was for some time imprisoned in this house: besides this, at present there are no vestiges of its former grandeur. Within and without is a mortifying appearance of neglect and approaching decay.7

AT a small distance from the house, on a knowl, are the poor remains of the castle; consisting of the fragments of two rounders, and a bit of a wall, almost hid in wood. This fortress was very soon permitted to fall in decay. Leland speaks of it as a ruin in his days. When the power of the nobility was broken, by the policy of Henry VII. numbers of the barons, finding their castle no longer a protection to their insolence, were glad to quit so incommodious a kind of habitation. We often see, as in the present instance, an antient mansion near the remains, or on the scite of a more antient castle: the times were so much bettered, and monarchy had recovered so much rightful strength, that the former became useless against their prince, or their rival reguli, who then began to acknowledge the power of law. Yet still some species of castellated mansion, against popular commotions, or the attacks of bands of robbers, was requisite. Conveniency, and a sort of elegance, was affected in their houses; but a necessary suspicion still remained, and safety provided for by the deep surrounding moat, by the gateway, and the strong door.

Chartley castle was built by Randle Blundeville, Earl of Chester, in 1220, on his return from the Holy Land; and to defray the expence of this, as also of Beeston, which he also founded, a tax was levied on all his vassals. By his death, this part of his estate devolved on William Ferrars Earl of Derby, in right of his wife Agnes, third sister of Randle .

His son Robert, entering into the factious views of the barons, received a defeat at Chesterfield in 1266. His estates were confiscated, and the castle and manor bestowed by Henry III. on Hamon Le Strange; but, notwithstanding this, he possessed himself of it by force, and the king was obliged to order his brother, Edmund Earl of Lancaster, to besiege the place; which he took, but not till after much loss on both sides. Edmund, and the nobility who assisted in the siege, thought proper to obtain his Majesty's pardon for the lives lost on the occasion. Ferrars himself received his pardon, was divested of the earldom of Derby, but was suffered to retain this castle; possibly, being reduced so low as to be incapable of giving farther disturbance. It continued in his line till the reign of Henry VI. when, in 1447, by the marriage of Anne, or Agnes, sole heiress to William Lord Ferrars, to Walter Devereux, sheriff of Herefordshire, it passed into another great race of peers. The lady was at that time only eleven years and eight months old; but by the king's special favor, in 1452, she had livery of her lands, without further proof of her age. This estate continued in his posterity (the Lords Ferrars, Viscounts Hereford, and Earls of Essex) till the year 1646, when it fell to Sir Robert Shirley, by his marriage with Dorothy, youngest sister to Robert Earl of Essex, the noted parlement general; and is at present possessed by their descendant Earl Ferrers .

IN hopes of finding, in the neighboring parish-church of Stow, the monumental honors usually attendant on great families, I visited it, at the small trouble of a mile's ride. I was disappointed, for I found only one of this great line deposited in the place. This is very frequent with a race of heroes, whose active spirits carry them into scenes remote from their natal soil, or bring them to fates that prevent possession of their parental sepulchres. Walter Devereux, the first Lord Ferrars, fell in the field of Bosworth, fighting valiantly in behalf of Richard, and was buried among the undistinguished slain. Walter, his descendant, first Earl of Essex, died Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, September 22d, 1576, as supposed by poison, and was interred at Caermarthen. His son, the favorite of Elizabeth, fell a victim to his indiscretion and ambition; perished by the ax, and was flung among the attainted herd. His son, for a series of victories in the cause of liberty, received from his grateful party the magnificent honors of a public funeral in the capital, which his arms had defended.

I FOUND here only the tomb of Walter, first Viscount Hereford, grandson of the first Lord Ferrers, and founder of the house of Chartley. He served with honor in the French wars, under Henry VIII; and in the naval attack of Conquet, in 1512, he was honored with the garter by his royal master, and with the title of Hereford by his successor. His death happened in 1558. He lies here under a fine monument, erected in his life-time; his figure is represented in robes, with the collar of the garter round his neck: his head reposed on a plume of feathers, wreathed round a helmet. On one side of him is placed his first lady, Mary, daughter of Thomas Marquis of Dorset; on the other, his second, Margaret, daughter of Robert Garnyche, Esquire, of Kyngeton, in Suffolk. Around the side is represented, I suppose as mourners, six female and six male figures; the last begirt with swords.

NEAR this is another tomb of alabaster, with the figures of two persons engraven on it; but so cankered with age, that neither inscription nor distinction of sex, can be made out.

ON the chancel floor a brass plate preserves the memory of Thomas Newport, steward of the houshold to Walter, first earl of Essex, and delivers his character in these terms:

Qui charus charis fuerat qui firmus amicis;
En! Thomas Newport conditur hoc tumulo.
Qui felix ortu full et morte beatus;
Quern Deus et coelum, quem pia vota habent.

FROM Stow I hastened to the Chester road, which I reached at the hamlet of Wych, in the parish of Weston on the Trent, whose spire steeple appears at a small distance on the other side of the road. This place is productive of salt, and has been long noted for its brine-pits, the property of Earl Ferrers .

AFTER going about two miles farther, I passed through Great Heywood, a village bestowed by Roger de Melend, alias Long Epee, a worthless prelate, in the reign of Henry III. on his valet Roger de Aston; whose family made it their residence, till the marriage of a descendant with the heiress of Tixal, occasioned it to remove to the new acquisition. In my memory the old seat was in possession of the Whitbies. It has since been re-united to the house of Tixal, by purchase. The barn belonging to the manor-house of Heywood, was of a most magnificent size; but of late has been greatly reduced.

THE horse-bridge over the Trent, adjoining to Heywood, was not less remarkable, for I remember it to have consisted of two-and-forty arches; but the number at present is much lessened. There is a tradition, that it was built by the county, in compliment to the last Devereux Earl of Essex, who resided much at Chartley; and, being a keen sportsman, was often deprived of his diversion for want of a bridge. I am not clear about the truth of this report. There certainly had been a bridge here long before, so that, if there was any foundation for such a mark of respect, it could only have been rebuilt after falling to decay.

FROM the middle is a view, of very uncommon beauty, of a small vale, varied with almost every thing that nature or art could give to render it delicious; rich meadows, watered by the Trent and Sow. The first, animated with milk-white cattle, emulating those of Tinian; the last with numerous swans. The boundary on one side, is a cultivated slope; on the other, the lofty front of Cannock Wood, clothed with heath, or shaded with old oaks, scattered over its glowing bloom by the free hand of nature.

IT is more difficult to enumerate the works of art dispersed over this Elysium; they epitomize those of so many places. The old church of Colwich; the mansion of the antient English baron, at Wolsely Hall; the great-windowed mode of building in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in the house of Ingestre; the modern seat in Oak-edge; and the lively improved front of Shugborough; are embellishments proper to our own country. Amidst these arise the genuine architecture of China, in all its extravagance; the dawning of the Grecian, in the mixed gothic gateway at Tixal; and the chaste buildings of Athens, exemplified by Mr. Stuart, in the counterparts of the Choragic monument of Lysicrates ,8 and the octagon tower of Andronicus Cyrrhestes .9 From the same hand arose, by command of a grateful brother, the arch of Adrian of Athens, embellished with naval trophies, in honor of Lord Anson, a glory to the British fleet; and who still survives in the gallant train of officers who remember and emulate his actions. My much-respected friend, the late Thomas Anson, Esquire, preferred the still paths of private life, and was the best qualified for its enjoyment of any man I ever knew; for with the most humane and the most sedate disposition, he possessed a mind most uncommonly cultivated. He was the example of true taste in this country; and at the time that he made his own place a paradise, made every neighbor partaker of its elegancies. He was happy in his life, and happy in his end. I saw him about thirty hours before his death, listening calmly to the melody of the harp, preparing for the momentary transit from an earthly concert to an union with the angelic harmonies. The unfinished improvements are carried on with great judgment, by his worthy nephew and successor George Anson, Esquire.10

AMONG the great number of statues which embellish the place, an Adonis and Thalia are the most capital. There is also a very fine figure of Trajan, in the attitude of haranguing his army. The number of rude Etruscan figures in the garden, shew the extravagance of the earliest ages, and the great antiquity of the art of sculpture in Italy, long before the Romans became a people. The beautiful monument in the lower end of the garden, does honor to the present age. It was the work of Mr. Schemecher, under the direction of the late Mr. Anson. The scene is laid in Arcadia. Two lovers, expressed in elegant pastoral figures, appear attentive to an antient shepherd, who reads to them an inscription on a tomb,

Et in ARCADIA ego!

The moral resulting from this seems to be, that there are no situations of life so delicious, but which death must at length snatch us from. It was placed here by the amiable owner, as a memento of the certainty of that event. Perhaps, also, as a secret memorial of some loss of a tender nature in his early days; for he was wont often to hang over it in affectionate and firm meditation. The Chinese house, a little farther on, is a true pattern of the architecture of that nation, taken in the country by the skilful pencil of Sir Percy Brett: not a mongrel invention of British carpenters.

OPPOSITE to the back-front of the house, on the banks of the Sow, stand the small remains of the antient mansion, which, according to Leland, originally belonged to Suckborrow with a long beard, and who, as some say, gave it to the mitre of Lichfield. It must have been in very early times; for the manor of Haywood (in which this is included) belonged to the see in 1085, the twentieth of William the Conqueror, and so continued till the reign of Edward VI. who bestowed it on Lord Paget. The house was till that time one of the palaces of the bishops. The reliques, at present, serve to give the appearance of reality of ruin to some beautiful Grecian columns, and other fragments of antient architecture; which were tacked to the front by the late Mr. Anson .

Shugborough was frequently the house I had the happiness of making my head-quarters: from whence I made many an excursion to the neighboring places. I beg the reader's pardon for indulging myself with a recollection of what formerly gave me so much pleasure in the survey, and for detaining him with the account of a short circuit, rich in objects.

I SHALL cross the Sow, and begin with Tixal, distinguished at present only by its magnificent gateway, a motley pile of Gothic and Grecian architecture, embellished in front with three series of columns, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. I thought it might have been one of the early works of my countryman by descent Inigo Jones; but I find it was built by Sir Walter Aston, Knight, who died in 1589, when Inigo was too young for any such undertaking. The antient house stood behind this gateway, and was a most venerable pile, built as far as the first floor with stone, the rest with wood and plaister, by Sir Edward Aston, in the reign of Henry VIII. A brick building is substituted in the place. The memory of the antient pile is preserved in the xxxviiith plate of Doctor Plot's history. This manor, immediately after the Conquest, belonged to Roger de Montgomery, and was held from him by Henry de Ferrers. It passed afterwards into the house of Wasteneys, or de Gastenoys, one Paganus de Gastenoys being lord of it about the reign of Henry II. It continued in that family for several generations, till Rose, the daughter of the last, and widow to Sir John Gastenoys, Knight, sold it to the Littletons, but not without consulting the learned, whether she could do it with safety to her soul. By the marriage of Joan (daughter to Sir William Littleton, who died in 1507,) to Sir John Aston, Knight of the Bath, it passed into that name, and is now owned by the Honorable Thomas Clifford, in right of his lady, daughter to the last Lord Aston .

I MUST not omit, that the poet Michael Drayton was greatly patronized by Sir Walter Aston, ambassador to Spain in the time of James I.; nor is the bard deficient in gratitude :

"The Trent, by Tixal grac'd, the Astons' antient seat,
Which oft the Muse hath found her safe and sweet retreat;
The noble owners now of which beloved place,
Good fortune them and theirs with honor'd titles grace.
May Heaven slill bless that house, till happy floods you see;
Yourselves more grac'd by it than it by you can be:
Whose bounty still my Muse so freely shall confess,
As when she shall want words, her sighs shall it express."
                                                            Polyolbion, Song xii.

Michael Drayton owed much to this gentleman; and was one of his esquires when Sir Walter was created Knight of the Bath. He again acknowledges his particular bounty, in the Preface to the Polyolbion; and it is even said, that he undertook that work at his patron's persuasion.

ON leaving Tixal, I went through the park, and part of a common of the same name, on which are two tumuli; one called the king's, the other the queen's Low; but no reason is assigned for the names. In 1493, an infamous assassination was committed on this heath; which shews how little the vindictive spirit of the feudal times was subdued. A family emulation had subsisted between the Stanlies of Pipe, in this county, and the Chetwynds of Ingestre. Sir Humphrey Stanley was one of the knights of the body to Henry VII; Sir William Chetwynd one of his gentlemen-ushers. The former, as is said, through envy, inveigled Sir William out of his house, by means of a counterfeit letter from a neighbor; and while he was passing over this common, caused him to be attacked by twenty armed men, and slain on the spot; Sir Humphrey passing with a train at the instant, under the pretence of hunting, but in fact to glut his revenge with the sight. It does not appear that justice overtook the assassin, notwithstanding the widow of Sir William invoked it. Probably Sir Humphrey had no fortune worthy of confiscation.

AT a very little distance from this heath lies Ingestre, or Ingestrent, a respectable old house, seated on the easy slope of a hill, and backed by a large wood, filled with antient oaks of vast size, which makes part of the pleasure-ground. The walks are partly bounded by enormous hedges of forest-trees, and partly wander into the antient wood, beneath the shade of the venerable trees.

THIS manor, about the time of Henry II. was the property of Eudo de Mutton; in the reign of Edward III. it was transferred to the family of the Chetwynds, by the marriage of Isabel, daughter of Philip de Mutton, with Sir John de Chetwynd: in which line it continues, being at present owned by John Chetwynd Talbot ,11 Esquire, grandson of John Lord Chetwynd .

THE house is built in the stile of the reign of Elizabeth, with great windows in the center, and a bow on each side: the last are of stone, the rest of the house brick. In the great hall, over the fire-place, is a very good picture of Walter Chetwynd, Esquire, in a great wig, and crossed by a rich sash. This gentleman was distinguished by his vast knowledge in the antiquities of his country, and more so by his piety. The present church of Ingestre was rebuilt by him, and was consesecrated in August 1677, when a sermon was preached, prayers read, a child baptized, a woman churched, a couple married, a corpse buried, the sacraments administred, and, to crown all, Mr. Chetwynd made an offering on the altar of the tythes of Hopton, worth fifty pounds a year, to be added to the rectory for ever. The church is very neat, and is prettily stuccoed. In it is a mural monument, in memory of its great benefactor, who died in 1692.

Hopton Heath lies on the side of Ingestre Park, and is noted for a skirmish between a party of the King's forces, under the earl of Northampton, and another of the parlement's, commanded by Sir William Brereton and Sir John Gell. Victory, notwithstanding a great inequality of numbers, declared itself on the side of the royalists; but it was purchased at so dear a rate, that, as Lord Clarendon expresses, a great victory had been an unequal recompence for the loss sustained in the General. The earl fell in the action, neglected by his troops, busied in the pursuit; and left environed by enemies. He slew his first assailants, and died valiantly, refusing the offered quarter.

AFTER riding from Ingestre three miles, through very bad roads, I reached Stafford, a good town, containing about five thousand inhabitants, seated on a plain, bounded by rising grounds at a very small distance. The streets in general are well built; the market-place large, ornamented with a handsome town-hall, with five windows in front: it is built upon pillars, and presents a facade with six arches, intercolumniated with Ionic pilasters. This is the county-town; and here the assizes are appointed to be held, by a statute of the first of Elizabeth .

THE county infirmary lies at a small distance from the town, and is a good plain building. It was finished in 1772, and is supported by an annual subscription of between eight and nine hundred a year.

Stafford consists of but a single parish, with two churches. That of St. Mary is a rectory, in the gift of the king; a large building with an octagon tower, and formerly with a lofty spire rising from it. Here is to be seen the tomb of Sir Edward Aston, the builder of Tixal, who died in 1567, and Joan his wife. Their figures are represented in alabaster, under a large canopy.

THE font is a singular piece of antiquity: very clumsy; but the sides and base most singularly carved into rude Gothic figures.

THIS church had been collegiate, and was given, a little before the year 1136, by King Stephen, to the bishop and chapter of Lichfield and Coventry. The patronage was granted, in 1445, by Henry VI. to Humphrey Duke of Buckingham. It was of exempt jurisdiction, and consisted, in the twentysixth of Henry VIII. of a dean and thirteen prebendaries.12 The dean's house stood at the west end of the church, and serves at present for the school.

THE religious houses were the Grey Friars, or Franciscans, at the north end of the walls, founded, according to Erdeswik, by Sir James Stafford of Sandon. It was valued at 35. 13s.. 10d. per annum, and granted, in the thirty-first of Henry VIII. to James Leveson .

THE FRIERS AUSTINS had a piece of ground given them on the green, at the south end of the town, by Ralph Lord Stafford ,13 in order to found a house, about the year 1344, for his own soul's sake, those of his wives (Katharine and Margaret), Sir Humphrey Hastings, Knight, and that of Edward III. The tombs of his great line were removed to this church from Stone, at the dissolution, but soon suffered to perish. It was granted, in the first of Queen Mary, to Thomas Neve and Giles Isam .

A PRIORY of black canons, founded by Richard Peche, bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, about the year 1180; as others say, by Gerard Stafford, on land which he held from the bishop, whom he complimented with the title of founder.14 The prelate had a great affection for this house; for, on resigning his see, he became a canon of it: and here ended his days.15 It maintained only seven religious, whose revenues were 198. a year. On the dissolution it was granted to Rowland Lee, bishop of Lichfield .

BESIDES these, were two hospitals, and the free chapel of Saint Nicholas, in the castle.

THE town was defended partly by the river Sow, which bounds one half of it; the rest was guarded by a wall, and by a ditch, supplied by the river with water. It had formerly four gates; of these two are yet standing. The place never was defencible; at least never stood a siege. Sir William Brereton, the parlement general, took it by surprize, in May 1643, with the loss only of a single man.

THE origin of Stafford is very uncertain : the first name of it is said to be Betheney, and that it had been the seat of an hermit called Bertelin, in high fame for his sanctity. The earliest authentic mention of the place is in the year 913, when Ethelfleda 16 Countess of Mercia, and sister of Edward the Elder, built a castle here. This lady had one child by her lord Ethelred; when, balancing the pangs of parturition with the joys of connubial rites, Amazon like, she determined to forbear for the future all commerce with him. From thenceforth her delight was in arms, in conquests, and in securing her dominions. Such was her prowess, that, laying aside all feminine titles, she received that of King, as if Countess and Queen were inadequate to her heroism.17

THE scite of this fortress is not precisely known. Doctor Plot is of opinion, that it lay within the entrenchments at Billington, at some distance from Stafford, and seems to found his conjecture from the lands wherein they are being still a remaining part of the demesne land of the barony of Stafford .18 Camden attributes a tower to Edward the Elder, founded in the year after that which was built by his sister, and places it on the north side of the river. A mount still remains near the new bridge, called by Speed, Castle-hill; at present named Bullyhill, on which it probably stood.

THE poor remains of the castle, which was garrisoned in the civil wars, stand on a little insulated hill, a mile south from the town. The keep was on an artificial mount: the whole is surrounded with a deep foss, which, on the south side, has besides the additional strength of a high rampart. This was founded by William the Conqueror, and was soon after demolished. It is supposed, that, during the time it stood, the custody of it was committed to Robert de Tonei, younger son of Roger, standard-bearer of Normandy ,19 a follower of the Conqueror, who took from this circumstance the name of Stafford. It is conjectured, that the king at that time reserved this manor to himself, and that it was not included in the vast grant made by him to Robert, of eighty-one manors in this county, twenty-six in that of Warwick, twenty in Lincolnshire, two in Suffolk, and one in each of those of Worcester and Northampton. It appears that it continued in the crown till the second of Edward II. when Edmund Lord Stafford received the grant, and held it in capite by barony, together with that of Bradeley and Madeley, by service, of finding for forty days, at his own charge, three armed men, with three equis coopertis, horses harnessed for war, as often as there should be war with Wales or Scotland .20 I know not for certain who was the restorer of this castle. Mr. Erdeswic says, it was Ralph de Stafford, a distinguished warrior, cotemporary with Edward III. It was garrisoned by the king in the civil wars; was taken by the parlement forces, and demolished in 1644.

ABOUT a quarter of a mile south of the castle, in a low situation, stood the manor-house of the family, fortified by the same Ralph; for I find from Dugdale ,21 that he had permission, in 1348, to make castles of his manor-houses at Stafford and Madeley. This great family had in it barons, earls, and dukes; and in the year 1637 became extinct: at that time humiliated into barons again. The moat of their antient residence is still to be seen, surrounding a rectangular piece of ground, the scite of the house.

MY curiosity led me about two miles further, to Billington, to examine the supposed scite of the antient Stafford castle. Near the extremity of a high hill, steeply sloping on three sides, and commanding a most extensive and beautiful view, I found a large area, surrounded in some parts with one, in others with two, deep fosses. This had been a British post, as it agrees with those we find in many parts of the kingdom; but as it retains the name of Billington Bury, it probably might have been occupied by the Saxons, whose posts are distinguished by the addition of Borough, Bury, and Berry.

THE town of Stafford is governed by a mayor, recorder, ten aldermen, and twenty common-council-men; and was incorporated in the third of Edward VI. It first sent burgesses to parlement in 1294, the twenty-third of Edward I. They are elected by inhabitants paying scot and lot, and are returned by the mayor.22

THE borough still retains one antient custom, the privilege of borough English, or the descent of lands, within its liberty, to the youngest sons of those who die intestate: an usage which is supposed to have been originally founded on the presumption, that the younger child was the lest capable of providing for itself.

THE barony was, even at the Conquest, one of the greatest in England, and afterwards, like other great seigniories, stiled the Honor of Stafford. None were such originally, but which were royal; but were afterwards bestowed in fee on some nobleman, as proved the case with this, as mentioned in page 104; when it was given to Edmund Lord Stafford, with eighty-one dependent manors, with sixty knights fees, viz. nine in his demesne, and fifty-one in service.

AFTER leaving the town, I crossed the Wolverhampton Navigation 23 at Radford Bridge. This may be called a port to Stafford. A little farther is Weeping Cross; so stiled from its vicinity to the antient place of execution. A little farther on, opens the rich view of the vale of Shugborough, varied with rivers and canals, and bordered with the several seats before described.

ON approaching Cank Wood, I find on its confines Heywood Park; a small house, the property of Lord Paget, remarkable for the beautiful woody dingles that wind into the sides of the forest. When I was wandering through them, I imagined myself engaged in those of my native country. Here I suppose to have been the park of red deer, which Leland says the bishop of Lichfield had in his manor of Shugborow. I skirted part of the wood, which here ends boldly, almost driving the traveller into the Sow. This front has received from Mr. Anson a wonderful change.

Miraturque novas frondes.

Pines instead of oaks; which, waving over the head of the passenger, would recall to his memory, had he been abroad, the idea of many an alpine scene.


1 Dugdale Mon. ii. 126.

2 Now the residence of Lord Harrowby. ED.

3 No. I.

4 Caspar Seioppius was a German of great erudition, but of a most turbulent disposition; he became a convert to Popery in 1599, and naturally distinguished himself by a blind and furious zeal against his former religion; and went so far as even to recommend the utter extirpation of its professors. He was a fierce antagonist to Scaliger, Causabon, and other Protestant writers; and in his book stiled Ecclesiasticus, 1611, he attacked James I. in a very indecent manner.

5 The affront offered to our monarch, induced Mr. Digby, and some other followers of the Earl of Bristol, then ambassador to Spain, to attack Scioppius in the streets of Madrid, in 1614; where they left him for dead. As soon as he recovered, he removed to Padua, dreading another attack. He lived afterwards in continual apprehensions, and shut himself up in his room for the last fourteen years of his life. He died in 1649, at enmity with all mankind.

6 He was as profuse of his abuse of Henry IV. in the book above mentioned, as he was of the English monarch. The regency of France, in honor to the memory of that great prince, directed it to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman.

7 A fire in July 1781, completed its destruction.

8 Antiquities of Athens, ch. iv. tab. 1. 3.

9 The same, ch. iii. tab. 1. 3.

10 Father to the present proprietor, who was created a peer of Great Britain in 1806. The house has been recently enlarged, and a handsome portico added to it. The highly cultivated state of the demesne marks the laudable agricultural taste of the noble owner. ED.

11 He succeeded his uncle William in the barony of Talbot in 1782, and in 1784 was advanced to the dignity of an earldom.—Ingestre is now in the possession of his son Charles Chetwynd, earl Talbot .

12 Tanner, 495.

13 Dugdale's Baron, i. 161.

14 Tanner, 499.

15 Angl. Sacra, i. 435. This house was dedicated to St. Thomas Becket, exactly ten years after his death.

16 Saxon Chr. 104.

17 Tour in Wales .

18 Hist. Staff. 416.

19 Dugdale's Baron., i. 156.

20 Blunt's Tenures, 25.

21 Baron, i. 160.

22 Willis, iii. 50.

23 Distances. Heywood, to its junction with the Birmingham canal, near Wolverhampton, 22. 4. 0; rise 125 feet: Stainport on the Severn, 24. 0. 0; fall 301 feet.

Thomas Pennant, The Journey from Chester to London (London: Wilkie and Robinson, 1811)

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