Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

Colwich to Beaudesert

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RETURNING over Heywood bridge, I passed through the two hamlets of that name; and within two miles of the first, reached the church and village of Colwich. I must imagine the traveller, as well as myself, blinded, if we rode this space insensible of the most elegant view of the vale. It is perfectly prodigal in its beauties, and spreads at once every charm that can captivate the eye. It shews here at once, all that I before mentioned en detail .

THE parsonage and church of Colwich contribute to the variety of the view, from another station: both are antient. This place had been the property of a family of the same name,1 at lest from Henry III.'s reign to about the beginning of Elizabeth; when it passed into that of Leicester of Tabley, in Cheshire, by the marriage of the daughter of Edward Colwich 2 to Peter Leicester, Esquire.

THE church is dedicated to St. Michael, and is a prebend in the cathedral of Lichfield. Within is a tomb, with the recumbent figure, dressed in a gown, of Sir William Wolsely. Here is also the burial-place of the Alisons, made a I'antique, in form of a catacomb. I must not forget an inscription, in memory of another Sir William Wolsely, which does not commemorate his unlucky and singular end; being drowned in his chariot, on the 8th of July 1728, owing to the accidental breaking of a mill-dam, in the village of Longdon, by a thunder-shower. His four horses perished. The coachman was saved, being carried by the torrent into an orchard, where he stuck till the water abated.

AT a little distance from Colwich is Bishton, near which I cross the navigation again, and instantly after the Trent, at Wolsley Bridge, placed at the foot of the hanging-woods of Wolsley park; an inclosure of much native wild beauty. The antient mansion of the family of the same name, lies low, and near the river. This manor is a member of Heywood. In the twentieth year of the Conqueror, Nigellus, the paternal ancestor of Greslei, held it of the bishop. About the reign of Henry II. it was a divided manor, between Richard Hints and Richard Wolsley .3 Soon after this, they seem to have become sole proprietors.

AFTER riding a little way along the Lichfield road, I turned to the left, and crossing the vale, which now expands and grows less riante, repass the Trent at Colton, on a bridge of a fine single arch. Near this place is sometimes taken the Burbot ,4 a fish of disgusting appearance, but of a delicate flavor, and very firm. It is not common in these parts, but abounds in the Witham, and in the fens of Lincolnshire; and is very common in the lake of Geneva, where it is called Lota. According to the new arrangement of fish, it is ranked among the gadi, or cod fish: by Mr. Ray, among the eel-shaped fish. The form is long; the head depressed; the mouth large, armed with small teeth; the nose furnished with two beards, the chin with one: on the back are two fins; the skin smooth and slippery, of a disagreeable green color, spotted with yellow. It is very voracious, and very prolific. The noted old fisherman of the Rhine, Leonard Baltner, took out of a single fish not fewer than 128,000 eggs.

MR. Erdeswik informs us, that at the time of Conqueror, one Galfridus was lord of Colton. Soon after, Sir Hardulph de Gastenoys had either all, or shared it with another; for in the year 1315, Sir William Gastenoys and Anselm le Marshal were joint lords of it. After many generations, a female (Thomasine, sole heiress and daughter of Sir Thomas Gastenoys, last male heir of the family, by marriage with Sir Nicholas Greislei, about 1379) transferred it to the house of Drakelow. The old hall, which was large enough to contain fourscore lodging-rooms, was burnt down in the time of Charles I. by the carelessness of a servant. It at that time belonged to Lord Aston .5

THE country now alters for the worse, and the soil becomes wet and miry. About two miles distance from Colton stands Blithefield, the respectable old seat of the respectable family of the Bagots; a most antient race. At the time of the Conquest they were found possessed of Bagot's Bromley. In 1193, or the fifth of Richard I. younger branch became ennobled, by the marriage of Millisent, heiress of Robert Lord Stafford ,6 with Hervey Bagot; from which match sprung a long line of peers of every rank. The elder branch acquired this place by the marriage of Sir Ralph Bagot (before the reign of Henry IV.) with Elizabeth, sole heiress of Richard Blithefield, lineally descended from a Saxon of the name of Hereman, or the warrior.

THE house7 is built round a court, and still retains, on the butside, the simplicity of appearance of that of an antient baron; and within, the old hospitality. The best rooms are, the hall, the library, and a large drawing-room, lately added. The first is a noble apartment, unadorned, excepting over the chimney-piece, where is a representation in bold and good sculpture, in free-stone, of an event dear as life to every true Englishman; that of King John granting to his subjects the great charter of liberty.

AMONG the portraits, I observed on a board, in a flat manner, the head of lord treasurer Burleigh, with a white beard, bonnet, collar of the garter, the George, and a white wand. His abilities as a statesman were inimitable; his private virtues, his honesty, temperance, moderation, industry, and justice, not beyond the power of the great to copy; his magnificence was attended with hospitality; his annual deeds of alms were to the amount of five hundred pounds.8 As his life was excellent, so his death was happy; dying in the fulness of years and of glory, envied, as his greatest enemy declared, only because his sun went down with so much lustre; not clouded, as generally is the fate of great ministers.

A COTEMPORARY of his is painted in the same manner, with the collar of the garter; his beard forked: the date 1588, aet. 52. This preserves a likeness of a very different character, Henry Earl of Huntington, lord president of the north, and one of the peers to whom the custody of the queen of Scots was entrusted. Burleigh created a fortune by his prudence; Huntington dissipated his, by being the dupe to the ministers of the rising fanaticism of the age, which, nurtured by such wooers of popularity as Leicester, Essex, and this noble peer, in the next age attained strength sufficient to subvert the church it pretended to purify.

A NEIGHBORING statesman, Sir Walter Aston, of Tixal, is painted on board. He appears with a firm countenance, short hair, and whiskers; in a black dress, laced with gold on the seams, and graced with a triple gold chain. Sir Walter was ambassador to Spain in the time of the negotiations about the Spanish match, in the reign of James I. and favored the designs of the young prince, and his favorite Buckingham. He was resolute and prudent, and had great knowlege of the importance of the English trade with Spain .9 He might serve his master, but he hurt his own fortune; dissipating great part of £. 10,000 a year in supporting the dignity of his character, and the honor of his country. His reward was a Scotch peerage; being created by Charles I. in the third year of his reign, Lord Forfar .

AN half-length of Walter Earl of Essex, father to the unfortunate Robert. He is represented in rich armor. On one side are the words Virtutis comes invidia; allusive to the constant ill usage he met with from the worthless favorite of Elizabeth, the Earl of Leicester. He was a nobleman of great merit and courage; was sent to command in Ireland, in 1573, and performed services worthy of his character; but at length, worn out by the ill usage of the ministry, who with-held from him the necessary support, he came over to England, to lay his complaint before the queen. He was artfully received, and sent back with the promises of better usage. Grief, or, as others say, poison, administered by the instigation of Leicester, who loved his wife, cut him off at the age of thirty-five, at Dublin, in 1576. Perhaps the infamy of Dudley's character, and the speedy and indecent marriage of the countess with that favorite, might give rise to the scandal; for an inquisition was made on his death, and the report in consequence was, that he died of the flux; a disorder very frequent in Ireland in those days.

HERE are several portraits of different persons, of this worthy house. Among them is Colonel Richard Bagot, governor of Lichfield, who fell in the cause of loyalty, in the fatal battle of Naseby. He is dressed in a buff, coat, and represented with long hair.

I MUST not omit a curious picture of a country woman of mine, Mrs. Salusbury, of Bachymbed, in Denbighshire, in a vast high sugar-loafed hat and kerchief, bordered with ermine. Near her are two of her grandchildren, Sir Edward Bagot, and Elizabeth, afterwards Countess of Uxbridge, by her daughter Jane, who married Sir Walter Bagot, and conveyed the Welsh estate into the family. A head of her son Charles Salusbury, in long hair, and flowered night-gown, is also preserved here.

MARY Countess of Aylesford, painted in her old-age, by Hudson, sitting, is a most beautiful portrait. She is dressed, simplex munditiis, in pale brown sattin, white hood, handkerchief, apron, and short ruffles: a reproach to the unsuitable fantastic dress of these times, which attempts to disguise respectful years, and renders that inevitable period the object of ridicule.

Mary, daughter to Hervey Bagot, Esquire, of Pipehall, first married to Sir Charley Berkeley Earl of Falmouth ,10 and afterwards to Charles Earl of Dorset; a brown beauty of the gay court of Charles II. and, as Grammont says, the only one that had the appearance of beauty and wisdom in the departments of maids of honor to the Dutchess of York .

William Legge, first Earl of Dartmouth, and his lady; parents of the late Lady Barbara Bagot .

THAT eccentric statesman, Henry Earl of Bolingbroke, when young, dressed in his robes.

A HEAD of that great actor, and dramatic poet, Moliere. He lived the adoration of his countrymen; but, dying in his profession, was, according to a custom of the church of his nation, refused Christian burial by Harlai de Chanvalon, a debauched archbishop of Paris. The king (Lewis XIV.) at length prevailed to have him buried in a church; but the curate would not undertake the office. The populace with difficulty could be persuaded to suffer his remains to be carried to the grave. Bouhours marks the injustice done this great man, in the following lines:

Tu reformas et la ville et la cour,
Mais quelle en fut la recompense?
Les Francois rougiront un jour
De leur peu de reconnaissance.
II leur falut un comedien

Qui mit a les polir sa gloire et son etude;
Mais Moliere, a ta gloire il ne manquera rien,
Si parmi les defauts que tu peignis si bien,
Tu les avais repris de leur ingratitude.

I QUIT the subject of paintings, notwithstanding there are multitudes of pictures, by the best masters, in this house. They were all undergoing a removal; therefore I avoid further mention of them, until they are fixed in their permanent situations.11 But I must not be silent about the collection of coins, one of the most valuable and instructive in England, the bequest of his beloved neighbor and friend Thomas Anson, Esquire.

THE park is at some distance from the house. The oaks are of a very great size: a twin-tree was lately sold for £. 120, and some single ones for half that sum; and I am told, that there are several now standing equally large.

THE church is very near the house, in the gift of Sir William Bagot, dedicated to St. Leonard. Within, are several sculptured tombs, of the fifteenth century; some with imaged figures, others engraven; mostly in memorial of the Bagots: one of an Aston of Broughton, and another expressed by a little skeleton of a Broughton, a child of three months old. The monument of Sir Edward Bagot, who died in 1673, is mural, and supersedes the ten commandments, being placed over the altar. The inscription tells us, that he was a true assertor of episcopacy in the church, and hereditary monarchy in the state; which probably entitled him, in those days, to this sacred place. On the outside of the church, two modest heaps of turf, parallel to each other, mark the spot where the remains of the last amiable owners of the place repose.

I FOUND myself here not very distant from Whichenoure Hall, and could not resist the desire of visiting the seat of the celebrated Flitch, the desperate reward of conjugal affection.

IN my road, not far from Blithefield, I again met with the Trent, and the Canal: the last a most fortunate embellishment to the neat seat of Mr. Lister of Hermitage. The proprietors (with the respect they usually pay to gentlemen) have before this house given it an elegant form; and, to add to the scenery, luckily the aweful mouth of a considerable subterraneous course of the navigation opens to view, and affords the amazing sight of barges losing themselves in the cavern, or suddenly emerging to day from the other side.

THE church of Hermitage, seated on a small eminence, forms another beautiful object. This belongs to the cathedral of Lichfield, and is stiled the prebendary of Hansacre, a hamlet in this parish, founded by Bishop Clinton .

On the opposite side of the Trent is Maveston Ridware, a rectory, whose church is dedicated to St. Andrew. This was the property of the Mavestons, at lest from the time of Henry I. to that of Henry IV. Hugo Mauvesin was in this reign Lord of Ridware, and founder of the priory of Blithburgh, in Suffolk. He was son of Henry Mauvesin, who came into England with the Conqueror. The corpse of Hugo was discovered in September 1785, after it had lain there six hundred years. That of Sir Henry, his great great grandson, was discovered at the same time. The tomb of Sir Robert Maveston, or Mauvesine, in the parish-church, recals to memory a melancholy story. In the beginning of the reign of the usurping Henry, when the kingdom was divided against itself, two neighboring knights, Sir Robert Maveston, and Sir William Handsacre, of Handsacre, took arms in support of different parties: the first, to assert the cause of Bolingbroke; the last, that of the deposed Richard. They assembled their vassals, and began their march to join the armies, then about to join battle, near Shrewsbury. The two neighbors, with their respective followers, unfortunately met, not far from their seats. Actuated by party rage, a skirmish ensued: Sir William was slain on the spot. Sir Robert proceeded to the field, and met his fate with the gallant Percy. What a picture is this accident, of the miseries of civil dissension! What a tale is the following, of the sudden vicissitude of hatred to love, between contending families! Margaret, one of the daughters, and co-heiress of Sir Robert Maveston, gave her hand to Sir William, son of the knight slain by her father; and with her person and fortune compensated the injury done by her house to that of Handsacre .12

THE other daughter, Elizabeth, married Sir John Cawardine, whose posterity became extinct in the male line by the death of Thomas Cawardine, Esquire, in 1592. David Cawardine, one of this antient line, had served under Henry V. at the battle of Agincourt, and William was knighted at the siege of Boulogne, where he attended Henry VIII.

THE tomb of Sir Robert is altar-shaped: his figure armed and helmed, with a great sword on one side, and a dagger on the other, is engraven on the incumbent alabaster slab, with the following inscription:

Hic jacet Dns. Robertus de Mauvesine, miles, Dns. de Mauvesine Ridware, qui occubuit juxta Salopiam, 1403, stans cum rege, dimicansex parte sua usque ad mortem, cujus animae propitietur Deus .

HERE is a tomb of two Mauvesins, one crosslegged, with each hand on his sword; both under arches in the wall. The cross-legged knight is supposed to represent the Sir Henry before mentioned.

NEAR the church is the gateway, part of the antient mansion of the family of Mauvesin; and on the other side of the Trent, beyond High Bridge, is a moated fragment of the rival house of Handsacre .

At the distance of about two miles from Maveston, I passed by King's Bromley. Before the Conquest, this manor had been the residence of the Earl of Mercia. Here, in 1057, died the pious Leofric ,13 husband to the famous Godiva. At that time, it was called Brom-legge. After the Conqueror took it into his own hands, the name was changed to that of King's Bromley. It continued in the crown till the year 1258, or the forty-third of Henry III. when Roger Corbet died, holding it of the king in capite .14 It continued in that family till the year 1451, or the thirtieth of Henry VI. when it came by descent to Praters of Baddeleigh, in Cheshire; from him to one Partridge, who sold it to Francis Agard, of Ireland; whose descendants possessed it for some generations, when it was sold to John Newton, Esquire, of Barbadoes; in whose line it remains.15

FROM hence I passed by Orgrave, one of the seats of George Anson, Esquire, lately the property of the Turtons. Afterwards, through the village of Alrewas. The manor was in possession of Algar Earl of Mercia; but on the forfeiture of his son, the brave Edwin, was bestowed by the Conqueror, with the following, on Walter de Somervil, one of his Norman followers.

FROM hence I visited Whichenoure, or Wichnor, where I crossed a bridge of the same name over the Trent, not far from the place where it receives the Tame. The Roman road passes this way, and on this marshy spot was formed upon piles of wood. It runs from the east side of Lichfield, and points to the north-east. Much brass money has been found, and, as I am informed, there are vestiges of a Roman camp in Whichenoure park.

THE church stands on an eminence, on the north side of the river. The house is at a small distance, and enjoys a most beautiful view. I believe this to have been on the site of a very antient mansion, which Leland observes to have been quite down in his days: and that the seat was then below, much subject to the risings of the Trent. The present house is a modern building, remarkable for the painted wooden bacon flitch, still hung up over the hall chimney, in memory of the singular tenure by which Sir Philip de Somervile, in the time of Edward III. held the manors of Whichenoure, Sirescote, Ridware, Netherton, and Cowlee, of the Earl of Lancaster, then lord of the honor of Tutbury. The services clamed were these, viz. two small fees;

"that is to say, when other tenants pay for releef one whole knight's fee, one hundred shillings; he, the said Sir Philip, shall pay but fifty shillings; and when escuage is assessed throgheout the land, or ayde for to make the eldest son of the lord knyght, or for to marry the eldest doughter of the lord, the sayd Sir Philip shal pay not the moiety of it that other shal paye.

Nevertheless, the sayd Sir Philip shal fynde meyntienge and susteiyne one bacon flyke hanging in his halle, at Wichenore, ready arrayed all tymes of the yere, bott in Lent, to be given to everyche mane or womane married, after the dey and yere of their mariage be passed; and to be given to everyche mane of religion, arch bishop, prior, or other religious; and to everyche preest, after the year and day of their profession finished, or of their dignity reseyved, in forme following. Whensoever that ony such before named wylle come for to enquire for the baconne in their owne person, or by any other for them, they shall come to the bayliff or porter of the lordship of Whichenour, and shall say to them in the manere as ensewethe:

Baylife, or Porter, I doo you to knowe, that I am come for my self (or, if he come for any other, shewing for whome) one bacon flyke, hanging in the halle of the lord of Whichenour, after the forme thereunto belonginge.

After which relation the bailiffe, or porter, shal assigne a daye to him, upon promise by his feythe to return, and with him to bring tweyne of his neighbours; and in the meyn time the said bailif shal take with him tweyne of the freeholders of the lordship of Whichenoure, and they three shal goe to the mannour of Rudlowe, belonging to Robert Knyghtley, and there shall somon the foresaid Knyghtley, or his bayliffe, commanding him to be ready at Whichenour the day appoynted, at pryme of the day, with his carriage; that is to say, a horse and a sadyle, a sakke, and a pryke, for to convey and carry the said baconne and corne a journey out of the county of Stafford, at his costages; and then the sayd bailiffe shal, with the said freeholders, somon all the tenants of the said manoir to be ready at the day appoynted at Whichenour, for to doe and performe the services to the baconne. And at the day assigned, all such as owe services to the baconne, shal be ready at the gatte of the manoir of Whichenour, from the sonne risinge to none, attendyng and awayting for the comyng of hym and his felowys chapaletts, and to all those whiche shal be there, to doe their services deue to the baconne: and they shal lede the said demandant, wythe tromps and tabours, and other manner of mynstralseye, to the halle dore, where he shal fynde the lord of Whichenour, or his steward, redy to deliver the baconne in this manere:

He shal enquere of hym which demandeth the baconne, if he hath brought tweyne of his neighbours; who must answere, They be here redy; and then the steward shal cause theis two neighbours to swere yf the said demandant be a weddyt man, or have be a man weddyt, and yf syth his marryage one yere and a day be passed, and yf he be a freeman or a villeyn: and yf his seid neghbours make othe that he hath for hym all theis three poynts rehersed, then shal the baconne be take downe, and brought to the halle dore, and shal there be layd upon one half a quarter of wheatte, and upon one other of rye: and he that demandeth the baconne shal kneel upon his knee, and shal hold his right hande upon a booke, which shal be layd above the baconne and the come, and shall make oath in this manere:

Here ye Sir Philip de Somervyle, lord of Whichenour, mayntayner and giver of this baconne, that I A., syth I wedded B. my wife, and syth I had her in my kepyng and at wylle, by a yere and a daye after our marryage, I would not have changed for none other, farer ne fowler, richer ne powrer, ne for none other descended of gretter lynage, slepyng ne waking, at noo tyme; and if the seid B. were sole, and I sole, I wolde take her to be my wife before all the wymen of the worlde, of what condytions soevere they be, good or evyle, as helpe me God, and his seyntys, and this flesh, and all fleshes.

And his neghbours shal make oath, that they trust verily he hath said truely. And yf it be founde by his neghbours before named, that he be a villeyn, there shal be delyvered to him half a quarter of wheatte and a cheese; and yf he be a villein, he shal have half a quarter of rye, withoutte cheese, and then shal Knyghtley, the lord of Rudlow, be called for, to carry all their thyngs to fore rehersed; and the sayd corne shal be layd upon one horse, and the baconne apperteyneth shal ascend upon his horse, and shal take the chese before hym, if he have a horse; and yf he have none, the lord of Whichenour shall cause him have one horse and sadyl, to such tyme as he passed his lordshippe; and soe shal they departe the manoyr of Whichenour with the corne and the baconne to fore him, him that hath wonne ytt, with trompets, tabourets, and other manoir of mynstralsce. And all the free tenants of Whichenour shal conduct him to be passed the lordship of Whichenour; and then shall they retorne, except hym to whom apperteiyneth to make the carriage and journy withoutt the countye of Stafford, at the costys of his lord of Whichenour. And yf the seid Robert Knyghtley doe not cause the baconne and corne to be conveyed as is rehersed. the lord of Whichenour shal do it to be carryed, and shall distreigne the said Robert Knyghtley for hia default, for one hundred shillings in his manoir of Rudlowe, and shall kepe the distresse so takyn irreplevisable.16

SUCH is the history of this memorable custom. I wish, for the honor of the state matrimonial, that it was in my power to continue the register of successful clamants, from that preserved in the 608th Spectator; but, from the strictest enquiry, the flitch has remained untouched, from the first century of its institution to the present: and we are credibly informed, that the late and present worthy owners of the manor, were deterred from entering into the holy state, through the dread of not obtaining a single rasher from their own bacon.

THE first possessor of this manor was Sir Walter de Somervile, a Norman, on whom it was bestowed by the Conqueror. It rested in his family till the death of the above-mentioned Sir Philip de Somervile, who left two daughters, Joan, wife to Sir Rhys ap Gryffydd, Knight; and Maud, married to Edmund Vernon. This estate fell to the former, and remained in the family till the year 1661, when it was sold by Sir Francis Boynton to Mary, widow of John Offley, Esquire, ancestor to the late owner; who, within these few years, alienated it to the present owner, John Levet ,17 Esquire.

In pursuance of my original plan, I took the same way, in order to return into the great road. Soon after, repassing the Trent, at Colton bridge, I reached Rudgley, a small town, celebrated for its great annual fairs for horses of the coach breed.

THE church, which stands a little north of the town, is dedicated to Saint Augustin, and is a vicarage belonging to the chapter of Lichfield. Opposite to it is a very antient timber-house, which once belonged to the Chetwynds; and is now the property of Mr. Anson. On an eminence above the town, is beautifully situated a large house, formerly belonging to the Westons, greatly enlarged and improved by the present owner, Ashton Curzon ,18 Esquire.

THE antient owners of Rudgley were of the same name with the town: some of the family had the honor of being sheriffs of the county, in the reign of Edward III: another was knight of the shire, at the same period. The name continued here till after the time of Henry VI. Erdeswik mentions this to have been a manor belonging to the bishop of Lichfield; which I find was alienated to the king by bishop Sampson, in 1547.

THE parish and village of Longdon succeed Rudgley. The church lies out of the road, on the left; it is a vicarage, dedicated to St. James, and belongs to a prebendship of Lichfield. The village consists of scattered houses, extending for a vast way on each side of the lane; from whence the name. This gave rise to a common saying in these parts,

The stoutest beggar that goes by the way,
Cannot beg through Long' in a summer's day.

THIS village antiently was full of gentlemen's seats; a most useful species of population to the poor, whose distresses seldom fail reaching the ears of mediocrity, but whose cries rarely attain the height of greatness. Sir Edward Littleton had a house here, called Chestal; Simon Rudgley, sheriff of the county in the time of Edward III. had another; the younger brother of the Astons had a seat here, from the reign of Edward I; the Broughtons had Broughton Hall, from the days of King John; and Adam Arblaster possessed Liswys (now Longhall) in 1351, or the twenty-fifth of Edward III., in whose name it continued till of late, when it was purchased by Francis Cob ,19 Esquire.

THIS manor is of vast extent. Above thirty other manors, lordships, and villages, owe suit and service, besides Cank, Heywood, and Rudgley, to the court-leet, which is held here every three weeks. It once belonged to the bishop of Lichfield, but was alienated by Bishop Sampson .

AFTER winding up the steep of a high hill, an advanced part of the forest of Cank, I turned out of the road to Beaudesert, the princely seat of Lord Paget ,20 placed on the side of a lofty sloping eminence, sheltered above, and on each side, by beautiful rising grounds, and embosomed in trees, commanding in front, over the tops of far subjacent woods, a most extensive and agreeable view; so that it well vindicates the propriety of its name.

THIS had been a place belonging to the bishops of Lichfield, which, with the manors of Longdon, Heywood, Berkswick, Cank, Rudgley, and Shugborrow, were part of the spoils of that see, wrested from it in the time of Edward VI. with the connivance of Richard Sampson, then bishop, who accepted in their stead certain impropriations of the value of an hundred and eighty-three pounds a year. These livings at that time were good rectories; now poor vicarages, or mercenary curacies, annexed to the bishoprick.

THE leviathan who swallowed these manors, was Sir William Paget, created by Edward VI. Baron Beaudesert. He first appeared in the reign of Henry VIII. and from a low beginning, meritoriously rose to the dignity of secretary and ambassador to Charles V. and Francis I. In the next reign, he was made chancellor of the dutchy of Lancaster, and comptroller of the houshold; and obtained a peerage. In that of Mary he became lord privy-seal, and was restored to the order of the Garter, from which he had been degraded in the time of her predecessor. At the accession of Elizabeth, at his own request, he was permitted to retire from the service of the state, being zealously attached to the religion of his former mistress.21 Yet his zeal for the old religion produced in him no scruples about sharing in the plunder of the church. The reforming Somerset, and the papal Paget, agreed in that single point. His posterity derive from him an uncommon extent of interest and command.

Beaudesert was rebuilt by Thomas Lord Paget, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is a very handsome stone edifice, in form of an half H; of late most admirably improved, and fitted up by the noble owner. It is totally disengaged from the gateway, walls, and other obstructions that encumbered it in the days of Plot ;22 and the grounds that environ it are disposed with the simplicity which forms true grandeur.

HERE is a gothic hall of eighty feet by twentyone; a dining room of forty-two by twenty-seven; and a magnificent gallery of ninety-seven by seventeen. The other apartments are small.

IN the drawing-room is a fine portrait of the founder of the family, the first Lord Paget, a three-quarters length; in a bonnet, black gown furred, with a great forked beard, the George, a stick, and dagger. A fine performance of Holbein's .

FROM the house I ascended to the summit of the hill, on the verge of Cank heath, to an antient British post called the Castle-hill. It is encompassed with a vast rampart and two ditches; The two entrances are opposite to each other, and before the eastern are several advanced works. It commands a vast view, and was well situated for a temporary retreat. I refer the reader, for an account of the uses of these entrenchments, to my Welsh Tour ;23 for they are common to most parts of Britain. Doctor Plot ascribes this work to King Canute; but I suspect it to be of earlier origin.

FROM hence is an extensive view of the chace, or forest, of Cank, or Cannock, which Plot derives from the name of the Danish prince Canuti Sylva. This vast tract was once covered with oaks, but for some centuries past, has been spoiled of its honors; even old Drayton 24 deplores its losses, owing, as he says, to the avarice of the times.

    O woeful Cank the while,
As brave a wood-nymph once as any of this isle,
Great Arden's eldest child!
Now by vile gain devour'd!

BUT this change is much more beautifully described by Mr. Masters, in his Itinerary 25 of 1675; in which he describes his journey in most elegant Latin, His passage over Cank wood, and the translation by my ingenious friend,26 cannot but be acceptable to every reader of taste.

Hinc mihi mox ingens ericetum complet ocellos,
Sylva olim passim nymphis habitata ferisque,
Condense quercus, domibus res hata struendis
Ornandoque foce, et validae spes unica classis.
Nunc umbris immissa dies, namque asquore vasto
Ante, retro, dextra, laeva, quo lumina cunque,
Verteris una humili consurgit vertice planta,
Purpureoque erice tellurem vestit amictu;
Dum floret suaves et naribus adflat edores
Haec ferimus saltem amissae solatia sylvae.

A vast and naked plain confines the view,
Where trees unnumber'd in past ages grew,
The green retreat of wood-nymphs; once the boast,
The pride, the guardians of their native coast.
Alas! how chang'd! each venerable oak
Long since has yielded to the woodman's stroke.
Where'er the chearless prospect meets the eye,
No shrub, no plant, except the heath, is nigh;
The solitary heath alone is there,
And wafts its sweetness in the desert air.
So sweet its scent, so rich its purple hue,
We half forget that here a forest grew.             R. W.

FROM Castle-hill I descended towards the great road, and passed by Fairwell church,27 once conventual, belonging to a priory of Benedictine nuns. It originally was the property of canons regular, or hermits; but at the request of Roger, Jeffry, and Robert, brothers of Farewell ,28 and with the consent of the chapter of Lichfield, was bestowed on the priory, about 1140, by Roger de Clinton, bishop of Lichfield; who endowed it with the mill, and all the lands between the brooks, then called Chistals, and Blache Siche, with other emoluments mentioned in his two grants. Henry II. was also a great benefactor to these nuns, bestowing on them three ploughlands at Fagereswell, one at Pipe, and one at Hamerwich, and forty acres of land cleared from wood, in the forest of Cank ,29 in 1527. On the suppression of the lesser religious houses, it was given to Lichfield, to increase and maintain the choristers, in recompense of a pension which should have been given by Cardinal Wolsey, out of his college at Oxford .30

1 Erdewic .

2 Leicester's Cheshire, 303.

3 Erdewic.

4 Plot, 241. tab. xxii. Br. Zool. 111. N°

5 Mr. Allen's MSS.

6 Dugdale, i. 158.

7 Blithefield has within these few years received considerable improvements, with an attention to comfort and propriety, not always observable in the alteration of houses of so antient a date. ED.

8 Camden's Annals, year 1598.

9 Lloyd's Worthies, ii. 248.

10 According to Lord Clarendon's account, he was a very worthless young favorite of Charles II. He was killed in the great sea-fight with the Dutch, in 1665. Charles wept bitterly at his death. The loss of better men never went so near his heart. Clarendon's Continuation, 268.

11 A catalogue of the pictures, according to their present arrangement, will be given in the Appendix. ED.

12 Erdeswik .

13 Dugdale's Baron, i. 10.

14 Erdeswik .

15 After the death of the last Mr. Newton it became the property of John Lane, Esq. ED.

16 Blunt's Tenures, 95.

17 From whom it has since descended to a nephew of the same name. ED.

18 Created Baron Curzon of Penn in Buckinghamshire in the year 1794. ED.

19 On Mr. Cob's decease, Longhall became the property of Miss Tysons. ED.

20 Earl of Uxbridge. ED.

21 Fuller's Worthies, 210.

22 See his plate viii. p. 126.

23 Vol. i. 412.

24 Polyolbian, song 12.

25 Published under the title of Iter Boreale .

26 The Rev. Richard Williams, of Fron, Flintshire .

27 Called Ecclesia Sanctae Maria. DUGDALE.

28 Dugdale Mon. i. 441.

29 The same, 443, 444.

30 Leland Itin. iv. 119. Rymer, xiv. 193.—This place is called in different places Fairweld, Faurwell, Fagrowell, and Fagerewell .

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

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