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existence than party prejudices and party strife. The old Royalist Manor House, celebrated for the bold head its feeble garrison made against the forces of the “rebel Commons,” the ancient feudal Castle that defied all the power of a Cromwell, a Fairfax, or a Waller, and the humble Farm-house that sheltered and saved a fugitive prince, have become classic ground, and will be venerated as long as Englishmen hold in honoured memory (and God grant that may be for ever) the high spirit and the unbending sense of duty which our Civil War called forth.
Of the many instances of personal intrepidity with which the history of the times abound, few are more interesting than the defence of Wardour Castle, by Blanche, Lady Arundel; but we must, before entering on the details, give some particulars of this fine estate, before it came to the distinguished family who now take from it the designation of their Barony.
Antecedently to the time of Edward III. Wardour was the baronial residence of the family of St. Martin, one of which, Laurence St. Martin, served as knight of the shire for Wilts, in 1361. From the St. Martins it passed into the possession of the Lovels, and continued part of their property during several successive generations. Subsequently it was acquired by the Lords Touchet, Audley, and Willoughby de Broke; and ultimately by Sir John ARUNDEL, of Lanherne, in Cornwall, whose second son, Thomas, was created Lord Arundel of Wardour by James I.
In the history of this estate no event of particular importance occurs till the reign of Charles I. when, as we have just mentioned, the castle was besieged by a detachment of the Parliamentary army, 1300 strong, under Sir Edward Hungerford. It happened at the moment that Lord Arundel (the second Peer) was attending his Majesty at Oxford, and the custody of the castle remained with his lady, (Blanche, daughter of the Earl of Worcester) who shewed herself truly worthy of the confidence which her husband had reposed in her resolution and fidelity. With a garrison consisting of no more than twentyfive men, she bravely withstood every effort of the enemy to obtain possession of the place, during a vigorous bombardment of five days, and at length consented to surrender only upon the most honourable terms, choosing rather to perish herself, than give up her brave adherents to the vengeance of the republican troops.* The original copy of these terms is still preserved at Wardour, and was as follows :
“Whereas, the Lady Blanch Arundel, after five days' siege, offered to surrender to us the castle of Wardour, upon disposition, and hath given her word to surrender it :- These are therefore to assure her Ladyship of these conditions following :-That the castle and whatsoever is within it shall be surrendered forthwith :—That the said Lady Blanch, with all the gentlewomen and other women-servants, shall have their lives, and all fitting respect due to persons of their sex and quality, and be safely conveyed to Bath, if her Ladyship likes, not to Bristol ; there to remain till we have given account to the parliament of her work :That all the men within the castle shall come forth and yield themselves prisoners unto us, who shall all have their lives, excepting such as have merited otherwise by the laws of the kingdom before their coming to this place, and such as shall refuse or neglect to come forth unto ;—That there shall be care taken that the said Lady
* In the “Mercurius Rusticus," a newspaper written in the Royalist cause by Bruno Rynes, chaplain to Charles l., it is stated that the besiegers sprung two mines during the siege of this Castle, and that they often "tendered some unreasonable conditions to surrender, to give the ladies, both mother and daughter-in-law, and the women and chlldren quarter, but not the men. The ladies nobly disdained and rejected their offers.''
Blanch shall have all things fitting for a person of her quality, both for her journey and for her abiding until the parliament give further order, and the like for the other gentlewomen, who shall have all their wearing apparel :That there shall be a true inventory taken of all the goods, which shall be put in safe custody until the farther pleasure of the parliament be signified therein :—That her Ladyship, the gentlewomen, and servants aforesaid shall be protected by us according to her Ladyship's desires.
(Signed,) Edward Hungerford,
Such were the conditions upon which the heroic Lady Arundel and her brave garrison agreed to surrender the castle. No sooner however had they
than the republican commanders violated their engagements in every article except those respecting the preservation of lives--not only was the castle plundered of all its valuables, but many of its most costly ornaments and pictures were destroyed, and all the outhouses levelled with the ground. The very wearing apparel of the ladies was seized, and they themselves sent prisoners to Shaftesbury, whence the Lady Arundel was removed to Bath, and separated from her sons, who were sent to Dorchester. The castle being thus surrendered was immediately garrisoned for the parliament, and the command of it given to Edward Ludlow, Esq. one of the most zealous and active partizans of the republican cause in the West of England. He held it however for a brief period only. Apprised of the fall of Wardour, its noble proprietor, aided by Sir Francis Doddington, marched into Wiltshire, and laid siege to the castle, which, after a determined resistance, surrendered, but not before Lord Arundel had directed a mine to be sprung, and thus sacrificed the noble and magnificent structure to his loyalty. From the injury sustained in these two sieges, especially in the latter, Wardour appears never after to have been either inhabited or made use of as a place of defence. At present it is a mass of ruins covered with ivy, and not even retaining sufficient features to enable the topographer to discriminate its former arrangement and extent. The site of these ruins is beneath a “grand amphitheatrical hill," enveloped in wood, and commanding at certain points some beautiful and distant views. Along the side of the hill a terrace leads through a variegated parterre, ornamented with artificial rockwork, to the grand entrance to the castle, over which is a head of our Saviour in a niche, with these lines :
“ Sub Numine tuo
Stet genus et domus; and immediately beneath are the arms of the family, with the following in. scription
“Gentis Arundeliæ, Thomas Lanhernia proles
Hæc dedit, eripuit, restituitque Deus.” The above lines refer to the trial and execution of Sir Thomas Arundel, 5th Feb. 1552, who was implicated with the Duke of Somerset, in the charge of conspiring to murder John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.
His estates however were not forfeited, but descended to his son, Matthew, whom Queen Elizabeth knighted in 1574.
The chief remains of this castle consist of a sexagonal court which formed the centre of the ancient mansion in its perfect state. In the court is a very deep well, which was sunk by Mr. Ludlow, to supply his garrison with water during the second siege. Several doorways lead into the court from different apartments, but only one staircase can now be ascended, which leads to the summit of the edifice. Almost contiguous are the remains of the mansion, which was occupied by the family after the destruction of the castle till their removal to the present residence about seventy years since, when the former was converted into a farm-house, with its necessary ofices.
The new edifice, which stands about a mile from the ruins of the ancient castle, was erected between the years 1776 and 1784, and is at once a noble and sumptuous building. Approached by the principal entrance to the grounds on the road leading from Salisbury to Shaftesbury, it seems to emerge from the bosom of a thick grove, and at length displays itself fully to view, seated on a gentle eminence, and surrounded by a lawn and thick woods—the whole building is composed of free-stone, and consists centre and two wings which project from the body on the porch side in a carvilinear form. The entrance front, looking towards the north, is ornamented with pilasters and half columns of the Corinthian order, and opens into a spacious hall, conducting to the rotunda staircase, probably the finest specimen of modern achitectural ornament in the kingdom.
Syon, co. Middleser.
For Syon some declare ;
None other can compare. On the north bank of the Thames, Syon House, the princely residence of the Duke of Northumberland, presents an imposing front, not far from delightful Sheen,” and nearly opposite the spot where
– Thomson sung the seasons, and their change, and where, his mortal coil being laid aside, the poet sleeps in peace :
Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore,
When Thames in summer wreaths is drest,
To bid his gentle spirit rest. In 1415, Henry V. founded, within his manor of Isleworth, a convent of Bridgetines, giving it the name of Syon, in reference to the holy mount. The original site seems to have been in the parish of Twickenham, most probably in the meadows now belonging to the Marquess of Ailsa, but permission was granted in the year 1431 to the abbese and holy community to remove to a more spacious edifice, which they had built upon their demesnes within the parish of Isleworth. The convent of Syon, dedicated to our Saviour, the Virgin Mary and St. Bridget, consisted, according to the rules of the patron Saint, of sixty nuns, including the albess, thirteen priests, four deacons, and eight lay brethren, making in the whole, the number of the apostles, and seventy-two disciples of Christ. At the dissolution of the
monasteries, Syon was one of the first of the larger religious institutions suppressed by Henry VIII. It is said that the king viewed it with especial distrust—from a feeling that the community harboured his enemies, and were accomplices of Elizabeth Barton, the holy maid of Kent. The true motive, however, of the Royal confiscation may be sought elsewhere. The beautiful situation of the monastery, its extensive possessions, and fertile lands, were too attractive to escape the monarch's cupidity, and to this, and to no fault of the holy ladies, is to be ascribed the fall of the religious house of Syon. During Henry's reign, the conventual buildings became the appanage of no courtly favourite, but remained in the king's hands, John Gates, Esq. being appointed keeper. The fate of the pious community is singular and interesting. Upon the suppression of their ancient resting-place, they retired to Dermond in the Low Countries, where Cardinal Pole found them on his return from Rome, and was so struck with their zeal and devotion that on his arrival in London, he prevailed on his royal mistress, Mary, to restore them to their ancient possessions. Accordingly in 1557, the nuns were reinstated in their monastery of Syon by the Bishop of London and the Abbot of Westminster, but their sojourn endured for a brief space only. The accession of Queen Elizabeth led to the second and final dissolution. Clementina Tresham, the Lady Abbess, retired to Rushton in Northamptonshire, where her family resided, but the other nuns again sought refuge in Flanders. Poverty and persecution, however, awaited them in the land of their adoption, and melancholy indeed is the recital of their sufferings during the religious contests that desolated the Low Countries. At length, they fled to Rouen, and obtained the shelter of a convent through the exertions of Mr. Foster their Chaplain. Here they continued for a considerable time, but eventually sailed for Lisbon, where they established the famous nunnery of Sion, thus preserving in their new country the memory of their ancient royal foundation.
In the great earthquake of 1755, their convent suffered much, but within a brief period was rebuilt. Here the Bridgetine community continued as an English nunnery until 1809, when, terrified by the calamities that then afflicted Portugal, the Lady Abbess (sister Mary Dorothy Halford) and nine of the principal nuns, sought refuge in England, where they were received with the greatest kindness and hospitality by Marlow Sidney, Esq. of Cowpen Hall, Northumberland. Mr. Gage, of Lincoln's Inn, a Catholic gentlemen of active benevolence, also aided in the most generous manner the cause of the poor sisters, and by his persevering exertions, obtained from government an annual allowance of £40 for the abbess, and of £30 for each of the sisterhood.
In 1811, the community inhabited a small house at Walworth, in Surrey, and subsequently resided at Peckham, calling their convent, Syon House, but ill success attended their efforts, and they were at last chliged to break up their establishment. A few of the ladies were placed by Dr. Milner, the Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District, at Cobridge, near Newcastle, in Staifordshire, and here by the munificence of the present Earl of Shrews. bury, who relieved their pecuniary distress, and granted them an annual allowance, the last remnant of the once powerful and richly endowed monastery of Syon, found a final resting-place. A few years ago the surviving sisters were visited at Cobridge, by the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, the proprietors of their ancient demesnes.
From this brief episode-commemorative of religious zcal, and unlending piety--we turn to the subsequent history of Syon. In 1541, its gloomy
and desecrated walls served as a prison for the royal captive, poor Katherine Howard, and in less than six years after, the corpse of Henry himself was rested under the same roof, on its way for interment at Windsor. The new monarch, Edward VI., in the first year of his reign, granted the monastery with its appurtenances, to his uncle, the Lord Protector Somerset, and on the site of the old religious edifice, his Grace reared the magnificent structure, whose shell, though variously altered, still remains. After Somerset's attainder in 1552, the estate reverted to the crown, and was assigned in the following year, to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, the father-inlaw of Lady Jane Grey. It was at Syon that that illustrious Lady had resided since her marriage, and it was at Syon that she consented to accept the proffered crown. We need not dwell on the fate of Northumberland and his family : suffice it to add that his death was followed by his attainder, and Syon again vested in the crown : and so remained until 1604, when King James 1. granted the monastic lands, together with the manor of Isleworth to Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumberland and his heirs for ever. This unfortunate nobleman, after having laid out £9,000 in the improvement of the house and grounds, was convicted on a groundless suspicion of being connected with the gunpowder plot, stripped of all his offices, adjudged by the court of Star Chamber to pay a fine of £30,000 and sentenced to imprisonment for life in the Tower. To liquidate the fine, he petitioned the king to accept of Syon, as being the only land he could part with, the rest being entailed. This proposal was not accepted, but the king eventually granted his Lordship’s release for a fine of £11,000 and after fifteen years imprisonment. “ The great house of Percy,” says a writer in the “Quarterly Review," "was strikingly unfortunate during the reign of the Tudors, and indeed long before. Their ancestor Josceline de Lovaine, a younger son of the ancient princes of Brabant, and brother of Adelicia, second consort of our Henry I. married in 1122 Agnes de Percy, the heiress of a great northern Baron seated at Topcliffe and Spofford, county of York, on condition that her male posterity should bear the name of Perey. Their son Henry was great grandfather of Henry Lord Percy, summoned to parliament 1299, whose great grandson Henry, fourth Lord Percy, was created Earl of Northumberland 1377, at the coronation of Richard II. He was slain at Bramham Moor, 1408. His son Henry, Lord Percy (Hotspur) had already fallen at Shrewsbury, 1403. Henry, second Earl, son of Hotspur, was slain at the battle of St. Albans, 1455. His son Henry, third Earl, was slain at the battle of Towton, 1461. His son Henry, fourth Earl, was murdered by an insurrectionary mob at Thirske, in Yorkshire, 1480, 3 Henry VII. Henry, fifth Earl, died a natural death, 1527 ; but his second son, Sir Thomas Percy, was executed, 1537, for his concern in Ask's rebellion. Henry, sixth Earl, the first lover of Queen Anne Boleyn died, 1537, issueless, and the honours were suspended for twenty years by the attainder of his brother Sir Thomas Percy in 1537, al. ready mentioned ; during which time the family had the mortification to see the Dukedom of Northumberland conferred on John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. But this nobleman being attainted, 1553, the Earldom was restored the Thomas Percy, the son of the attainted Sir Thomas, who became seventh Earl of Northumberland; he was eventually beheaded August 1572. His brother, Henry Percy, was allowed in right of the new entail to succeed as eighth Earl of Northumberland. In 1585 this Earı, still blind to his family sufferings, entered into the intrigues in favour of Mary Queen of Scots, and being imprisoned in the Tower, committed suicide, 21st June.