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At somewhat more than halfway distance between Weymouth on the skirt of the Atlantic, and the good old city of Bristow by the Severn sea, on the thin iron line that crosses the wide end of the western peninsula between those places,—and which in the early days of railway enterprise was cleverly, but of course futilely, stretched as a boom, designed to 'block' all further extension westward,—and just inside the county of Wilts, lies the quiet little town of Westbury.The station itself is somewhat "larger and more commodious" than common. A two-fold reason accounts for this, one, that of its being the junction of another line that departs hence for Salisbury, and secondly the nature of the industry that meets the eye from the platform, and is in its way unique in these parts. This is the appearance of three towering iron furnaces, with attendant rows of coke ovens, placed on an eminence just outside the station yard; busily smelting the iron-stone that is quarried from a large excavation on the opposite side of the line, and which passes under the railway proper in mimic trains, pulled by a tiny locomotive up to the great glowing bastions, there to be speedily devoured and purified into 'pigs' of the best quality.A very English sight indeed you will say. Yes, certainly if we were in some of the northern localities of this mineral-saturated island of ours, but strange in its isolated appearance among the bucolic characteristics of the southern portion of it, and moreover here, at least, a development in its way peculiarly modern. The antient 'staple' of the district is the very primeval one of the manufacture of woolen cloth, which has existed for centuries, is still considerably followed, and enjoys all its olden reputation as being 'West of England,' a pass-word for excellence and purity of fabric, untainted by the admixture of 'shoddy,' characteristic of north-country production. Westbury in company with her sister towns is largely interested in the industry.Our wandering to-day is not in quest of manufactured products iron or woolen, but of a nature that lends a clue to our thoughts which takes us back to the far past strife of the Red and White Roses, and era of Bosworth, and of the heart-burning that inspired the distich,"The Rat, the Cat, and Lovell our Dog,Rule all England under the Hog,"for the writing of which and presumed sympathy with the Red Rose, be it remembered, a Wiltshire knight, Sir William Collingbourn of Lydiard by name, was by the vindictive Richard "caused to be abbreviated shorter by the head, and to be divided into four quarters,"—and to search for traces of one of the principal actors, who played a conspicuous part in the turmoil, for he was probably born, or had his original habitation close by. Yonder is the town of Westbury with its factory chimneys and massive church tower in their midst,—below us the busy railway-station, and immense iron-stone quarry,—in front the great furnaces. Nothing very suggestive in all this as to our expedition to find the old home of Willoughby in these parts; he of the famed circle of the Garter, and first Baron by a name taken from the little rill of Brooke or Broke, that, outlasting his name and fame, still flows past the house that he occupied while in the flesh. Yet it cannot be very far off...
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Copyright © 2016 by William Rogers
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“OUR STEWARD OF HOUSEHOLD.”
EXTINCT, FOR THE WHITE ROSE.
UNDER THE HOOF OF THE WHITE BOAR.
UNHORSED AT BOSWORTH.
“WITH THE SILVER HAND.”
OF THE IMPERIAL LINE.
AT SOMEWHAT MORE THAN halfway distance between Weymouth on the skirt of the Atlantic, and the good old city of Bristow by the Severn sea, on the thin iron line that crosses the wide end of the western peninsula between those places,—and which in the early days of railway enterprise was cleverly, but of course futilely, stretched as a boom, designed to ‘block’ all further extension westward,—and just inside the county of Wilts, lies the quiet little town of Westbury.
The station itself is somewhat “larger and more commodious” than common. A two-fold reason accounts for this, one, that of its being the junction of another line that departs hence for Salisbury, and secondly the nature of the industry that meets the eye from the platform, and is in its way unique in these parts. This is the appearance of three towering iron furnaces, with attendant rows of coke ovens, placed on an eminence just outside the station yard; busily smelting the iron-stone that is quarried from a large excavation on the opposite side of the line, and which passes under the railway proper in mimic trains, pulled by a tiny locomotive up to the great glowing bastions, there to be speedily devoured and purified into ‘pigs’ of the best quality.
A very English sight indeed you will say. Yes, certainly if we were in some of the northern localities of this mineral-saturated island of ours, but strange in its isolated appearance among the bucolic characteristics of the southern portion of it, and moreover here, at least, a development in its way peculiarly modern. The antient ‘staple’ of the district is the very primeval one of the manufacture of woolen cloth, which has existed for centuries, is still considerably followed, and enjoys all its olden reputation as being ‘West of England,’ a pass-word for excellence and purity of fabric, untainted by the admixture of ‘shoddy,’ characteristic of north-country production. Westbury in company with her sister towns is largely interested in the industry.
Our wandering to-day is not in quest of manufactured products iron or woolen, but of a nature that lends a clue to our thoughts which takes us back to the far past strife of the Red and White Roses, and era of Bosworth, and of the heart-burning that inspired the distich,
“The Rat, the Cat, and Lovell our Dog,
Rule all England under the Hog,”
for the writing of which and presumed sympathy with the Red Rose, be it remembered, a Wiltshire knight, Sir William Collingbourn of Lydiard by name, was by the vindictive Richard “caused to be abbreviated shorter by the head, and to be divided into four quarters,"—and to search for traces of one of the principal actors, who played a conspicuous part in the turmoil, for he was probably born, or had his original habitation close by. Yonder is the town of Westbury with its factory chimneys and massive church tower in their midst,—below us the busy railway-station, and immense iron-stone quarry,—in front the great furnaces. Nothing very suggestive in all this as to our expedition to find the old home of Willoughby in these parts; he of the famed circle of the Garter, and first Baron by a name taken from the little rill of Brooke or Broke, that, outlasting his name and fame, still flows past the house that he occupied while in the flesh. Yet it cannot be very far off.
These are our thoughts as we look from the parapet of the bridge that carries the highway over the railroad below, our steps lead us northward, and although our local geography ends here, our usual luck for further guidance is at hand. An old stone-breaker by the wayside stays his hammer as we pass, to give us the morning’s salutation, and to our respond we add the interrogatory as to our path to an old house or place called Brooke or Broke, somewhere near. “Brooke-Hall you mean” said he, with special emphasis on the affix, “I know it well, follow on for nearly a mile until the road leads into the brook; then turn into the gate on your right, go through two meadows and you will see Brooke Hall before you. It is an old antient place, and I have heard was a grand one once, but it is only a farm-house now.”
With due thanks to, and musing on the inextinguishable influence of tradition, thus continued and wove into the life of our humble but intelligent informant, we saunter along, until the rippling sound of water attracts us on our left. Mounting the low ledge that bounds our path on its other side, at our feet in the enclosure below (locally termed the Bisse) the Brooke or Broke sparkles along gaily as ever, and apparently as undiminished as when four centuries a-past, the knight, whose memories we are in search of, forded its flow. A little farther beyond, and the lane we have been traversing descends abruptly into its bed, which forms a continuance of the thoroughfare for a short distance. Our path diverges through the gate on the right, and into the green fields.
Here, at once, although much ameliorated to the wants of the modern farmer, the undulating nature of the ground, the richness of the turf, and scattered stately trees still lingering about to attest its olden beauty and importance, we recognize unerringly the well known characteristics of an antient park, but apparently not of large size. Traces of a winding road lead on from the lane gate, and stretch away over a swarded knoll, on the right; with pleasurable steps we reach the summit of the acclivity, and descry at about another field’s space ahead, the still existing remains of the Brooke Hall of our trusty informant.
“A grand place once"—we ruminate, recalling the words of the old stone-breaker, as we halt under the shadow of a tall, massive gable, buttressed at the angles like a church, and with the original hip-knop a trefoil on a stalk, still very perfect, and bravely weathering the sunshine and breeze at its apex. From this gable stretches back a building ninety feet long with high-pitched roof, and forms one side of the farm-court. Its further end is joined to a cross-structure of smaller size, now used as the farm dwelling-house.
Cautiously we push open the large doors of the cow-court and look inside. This, from no dread of meeting, and having our intruding footsteps ordered off by the antient knight who once possessed it, but rather from the undesirableness of making too sudden acquaintanceship with the vigilant curly-tailed custodian of its precincts eyeing us from within, and who may not, until properly assured to the contrary, be quite satisfied with the object of our investigation; but a kindly word of advice to him, and of welcome to us, from his master close by, speedily puts everything at ease, and with full permission for inspection.
Before however we proceed to investigate the old place, we mentally join company with the famous old itinerant Leland, who came here on a similar errand, and recall the burthen of his description, when it was in pristine condition, and still in possession of the Willoughbys.
“There was of very aunciente tyme an olde maner place wher Brooke Hall is now, and parte of it yet appearithe, but the buyldynge that is there is of the erectynge of the Lorde Stewarde unto Kynge Henry the vii. The wyndowes be full of rudders. Peradventure it was his badge or token of the Amiraltye. There is a fayre Parke, but no great large thynge. In it be a great nombar of very fair and fyne greyned okes apt to sele howses.
“The broke that renithe by Brooke is properly caulyd Bisse, and risethe at a place namyd Bismouth, a two myles above Brooke village, an hamlet longynge to Westbyry paroche. Thens it cummithe onto Brooke village, and so a myle lower onto Brooke Haule, levinge it hard on the right ripe, and about a two miles lower it goith to Trougbridge, and then into Avon.”
We enter the court yard, and the main portion remaining, which was probably erected by the Lord Steward, occupies the whole of the left side. It is a strong substantial building. The front toward the yard has three doorways having good late-pointed arches, and five two-light windows of small dimensions. Between the doorways are buttresses. At first sight, the building seems as if intended for a large hall, especially from the fine high-pitched roof, and its completeness inside, having all the old timbers remaining. But it appears to have been divided off, and formed into apartments, a considerable portion of the old wood partition-work still remains. It is now used as a stable, barn, and for other farm purposes. The upper end of this long building is joined to a cross portion, apparently the better part of the fabric, but not of large dimensions. This has been modernized to the requirements of a farm-house, and almost all its antient features obliterated. The walls are of great thickness, nearly six feet, and at the end are some later transomed Elizabethan windows, bricked up, and in a small outhouse below is “T.—1684;” a still later time-mark.
As far as could be observed, what at present remains, appears to be only a small portion of the original structure, but in which direction it extended is not certain. Aubrey, the Wiltshire antiquary, writing in 1650, and who visited Broke about that time, describes it as “a very great and stately old howse” with “a Hall which is great and open, with very olde windowes.” There was a “canopie chamber,” a dining room, parlour and chapel, and the windows were filled with coats shewing the armorial descent of Willoughby, which he minutely describes; and further, the windows “are most of them semée with Rudder of a Ship, or;"—and again he observes “the Rudder everywhere.” We had greatly hoped to have enriched our sketch book with a similitude of one of those rudders, but alas, the most diligent search and enquiry was vain. Not a fragment of the old glazing remained, and neither arms, badge, nor device, was to be found anywhere on the building, sculptured or limned. A small enclosed garden (now used as a rick-plot), skirted with poplars, on the opposite side of the court, was the only other noticeable feature connected with the old place.
Thus much for Broke Hall, said we—retracing our steps over the grassy undulations—the antient residence successively of Paveley, Cheney, and Willoughby, all names of knightly renown; aforetime, as well as now, probably no more apt description could be given of the still sturdy old fabric, than the itinerant’s terse note on this little park that surrounds it, it was and is “no great large thing,” albeit the “grand one once” of the tradition-burthened mind of our friend the stone-breaker, and this true enough in its way perhaps also, when compared with the hovels of the peasantry that then had their stations near it.
The family of Paveley, the antient owners of Broke, held it as early as the reign of Henry I. Reginald de Paveley was Lord of Westbury, succeeded by Walter, and again by Walter Lord of Westbury, in 1255. To him Reginald, who deceased 1279, and Walter, Sheriff of Wilts 1297, died 1323, and succeeding him Reginald de Paveley, who died 1347; he married Alice, widow of John, the second Lord St. John of Lageham, died 1322. To him John de Paveley, who married Agnes, with issue two daughters, Joan married to Sir Ralph Cheney, and Alice wedded to Sir John St. Loe, died 1366. The Paveleys also held considerable possessions in Dorsetshire, and bore for their arms, Azure, a cross fleurie or.
Cheney, Cheyney, or Cheyne,—originally De Caineto—(or query, from the French du chêne, ‘of the oak’) was also an old and largely ramifying family, that first came over with the Conqueror, and were subsequently scattered throughout midland and southern England, from Kent to Cornwall, their name still surviving as an affix to their olden possessions in several localities.
A branch appears to have been early settled, and afterward held considerable station in Devon. “In king Henry III. tyme” says Pole, “Sir Nicholas Cheyney was lord of Upotery,” where he was succeeded by his son Sir William, of whom the Antiquary continues “at what tyme the Dean and Chapter of Roane, with consent of the Kinge, and Archbishop of Roane, granted the same unto ye said Sir William Cheyney, which they had formerly held of the grant of William the Conqueror.”
Sir William Cheney married Felicia, and had issue Sir Nicholas, who married Elinor, was Sheriff of Devon, 15 Edward II., 1322, and died 3 Edward III., 1330.
To Sir Nicholas succeeded William his son, who married Joan daughter of William Lamborn. He had two sons, Edmond, who died without issue, and Ralph.
Sir Ralph Cheney married Joan, daughter and coheiress of Sir John Paveley of Broke, and died 2 Henry IV., 1401.
Sir William Cheney, his son and successor, married Cicely, daughter of Sir John Stretch of Pinhoe, Devon, and widow of Thomas Bonville. She died 14 October, 1430. To him and his lady, Bishop Stafford of Exeter on 27 Jan., 1400-1, granted license for them to have divine service performed in their Chapel, “infra manerium suum de Pinho.” He was Sheriff of Devon 1408. Secondly he married Joan daughter of John Frome of Woodlands, Dorset, and widow of Sir William Filliol who died 3 Henry V., 1418. Sir William Cheney died 12 Henry VI., 1434, leaving two sons Edmond and John.
Sir John Cheney was of Pinhoe. He married Elizabeth daughter of John Hill of Spaxton, was Sheriff of Devon 12 and 22 Henry VI., 1434-44, and was succeeded by his son John, four times Sheriff, who married Margaret daughter of Nicholas Kirkham of Blagdon, and died leaving four daughters his coheiresses.
Sir Edmond Cheney, of Broke, knt., born 4 Dec., 1401, married Alice daughter of Sir Humphrey Stafford, knt. “with the Silver Hand,” of Suthwyke, Wilts, and Hooke, Dorset, who died 27 May, 1442, and was buried in the Chapel of St. Anne in the Abbey Church of Abbotsbury, which he founded;—by his wife Elizabeth who died in 1420, daughter of Sir John Mautravers of Hooke, knt. Sir Edmond, who died 30 May, 1430, left two daughters,—Elizabeth, born Nov., 1424, married Sir John Coleshill, knt., of Duloe, Cornwall, and died about 1492,—and Anne, born, 26 July, 1428, who married Sir John Willoughby, knt., who was killed at Tewkesbury 3 May, 1471. Secondly his wife Alice married Walter Tailboys, of Newton-Kyme, Yorkshire, by whom she had a daughter Alianore married to Thomas Strangeways of Melbury, Dorset, ancestor to the Earls of Ilchester. She died in 1469.
Thus at the death of these brothers, the name of Cheney in the Devonshire branch became extinct.
A long genealogical digression this, but only the necessary putting together a portion of the skeleton of our little history, which we hope to clothe eventually with something of living interest. Our path has led us back again to the elevated platform of the railway bridge, and also at a mile’s distance before us, the old town of Westbury, in which, says Leland, “there is a large churche, and the towne stondith moste by clothiers” appears dimly among the trees,—and its characteristics of to-day still accurately confirm the itinerant’s description of three centuries ago. There, rises the lofty church tower much as he witnessed it, but the tall chimney shafts that bear it company have absorbed all the hand-looms that then made busy, by the weaving of kersey and serge, the cottage precincts when he paced its streets.
Through the long, and comparatively quiet main thoroughfare of the little borough, and our thoughts are busy, though our steps are stayed, as we halt to admire the large and handsome west window of the church, perpendicular in style, but with considerable originality of treatment in design; and rising behind it, the massive proportions of the tower.
Here we hope to find some memorials of Paveley, Cheney or Willoughby, for our historic memory recalls to us, that within the fabric there is a Chantry which was formerly attached to Broke Hall, and that its windows were said to be filled with rudders as at their old seat. Our foot crosses the porch threshold, and with intuitive direction leads us at once to the east end of the south aisle, where some apparently well-preserved old oak screen-work, partition off what we rightly divine was the Broke Chantry. But as we draw near a vision of ominous newness, windows flaming with colour, and garish decoration of costly kind spread over every part, puts to the rout at once all hope of anything antient being found within it; and we learn that the Chantry has been recently elaborately ‘restored’ as a memorial chapel to the present owners of Broke, whose family have held its possession for about a century.
We scan the enclosure minutely, but not a vestige of sculpture or inscription, nor stray rudder in the windows, was visible to identify its olden founders, and whether any such had ever existed within it, could not be ascertained. Foiled in our examination of the Chantry, we proceed to look carefully over the whole of the spacious interior of the edifice, but the search is vain.
There is yet one chance left, friend of mine, peradventure some stray shield or badge memorizing these antient families may be found outside. Slowly we perambulate the exterior of the structure, and were just preparing to leave the churchyard precincts altogether vanquished, when on the right dripstone termination of the label of the doorway-arch of the little porch at the base of the west window, there on a small shield very much denuded and weather-worn, we trace the four fusils in fess of Cheney, with the ghosts of the escallops faintly visible in their centres. On the shield to the left is the indistinct outline of a bird of some kind.
In his notice of Westbury church, Aubrey remarks:—
“In an aisle, north of the chancel where nothing remains of the old glass, tradition is that two maydes of Brook built it (probably Alice and Joan coheiresses of Sir John Paveley (1361) of Brook,—the one married Sir John St. Loe, the other Sir John Cheney). In a chappelle south of the chancell, are left in one windowe some Rudders of Ships or the cognizance of the Lord Willoughby of Brook. In an aisle north of the tower, called Leversidge aisle, were these two escutcheons now gone, viz.—Cheney impaling Paveley, Cheney as before impaling a lion ramp: quartering a cross flory, not coloured.”
How surely and regularly history, at least the history of human nature repeats itself. Our forefathers, as it is often discovered in the repair or rebuilding old churches, did not scruple when alteration or enlargement of the fabric was needed, to break up the gravestones, or coffin-lids, of their predecessors, this also at the period when a religious thrall exercised its full power over them, while at the same time it encouraged the laying down similar memorials to those they were destroying. In a succeeding age when this influence had lost its spell, and greedy, selfish ends, had absorbed, or stifled completely such traces as remained, a remorseless and almost revengeful desecration followed, buildings were razed, monuments ruthlessly defaced or destroyed, and sepulchres violated, as if those who had left them such interesting and sacred heritage, had been a succession of malefactors deserving the utmost reprobation and contempt. The great despoliation over, the same spirit of heedless, callous unconcern, although in lesser degree, has shewn itself as largely existent through the succeeding centuries, down to these later times of pseudo-ecclesiastical revival, which in too many instances continues to exhibit in a still more exaggerated form, all the latent traits of thoughtless destruction, that had its place in days of old.
Thus much for our investigation of Westbury church and its garishly garnished Chantry, but before we leave this part of the world, we have another interesting structure to visit, where, if we mistake not, a most important memorial concerning the antient lords of Broke Hall is to be found.
Our steps lead us out of Westbury by the north west, and passing along under the great White Horse, boldly figured on the high hill by our right, and through the village of Bratton, a turn in the road a short distance beyond, brings us at once in full view of the large and antient Conventual Church of Edington. It is no province of ours here, to describe the great architectural attractions of this fine and still well-preserved fabric, but a glance at the uniquely-shaped tower windows, gives us a clue to what we may expect to find within, for the tracery in their heads, have an unmistakable resemblance to a cross fleurie, or rather recercelée would best describe its shape, the coat-armour of the family of Paveley.
Entering the church by the south porch, a survey of the south aisle arcade, brings the eye at once to the memorial we are in search of.
The monument is under the second arch of the nave, west of the transept, in the south aisle. It consists of a high tomb with canopy, flanked by an entrance-doorway forming part of one composition, extending the whole breadth of the arch. This was originally one of the enclosing screens of a Chantry, the other two, east and west, dividing it from the aisle having been removed. In the wall of the aisle opposite the tomb, is a two-storied piscina, which was formerly within the area of the Chantry, and against the east division doubtless stood the antient altar.
The cover-stone of the tomb is Purbeck marble, and on it are the indents of a knight and lady, but not of large size. The knight’s head appears to have rested on a helmet with lambrequin, and an animal was at his feet. The lady in long robe and head on a cushion. Two shields were above their heads, and two more below their feet. There was no ledger-line.
Below the tomb are traceried panels with shields in their centres, on them is carved these arms:—1. A rudder.—2. Four fusils in fess, each charged with an escallop (Cheney).—3. Four escallops, two and two (Erleigh?). These charges are exactly repeated on both sides.
The canopy is of square form, flanked by buttresses pinnacled on their faces, and the groining within shews five fan-traceried pendants. At the east end is a large niche, the west is open. The doorway is surmounted by a rich ogee crocketted canopy with finial, and is panelled above.
A continuous cornice surmounts both tomb and doorway, of vine foliage and mouldings, crested originally by the Tudor flower, only a part of which now remains. It is broken on each side by four angels holding shields. On the north side are two single angels supporting the arms of Cheney, at the west corner are two angels holding a larger shield quarterly of four:—1 and 4 (Cheney); 2 and 3, a cross fleurie (Paveley). On the south side the single angels display the arms of Paveley, and the pair at the end Cheney impaling Paveley. Over the inner doorway the rudder is again carved—here at Edington its earliest appearance.
In the churchyard, near the porch, is a large broken Purbeck marble stone, probably removed from the pavement of the Chantry within. On it are the indents of a knight, and lady in horned head-dress, under an ogee crocketted canopy, flanked by pinnacles, evidently of contemporary date with the tomb. Above the figures are two shields, below their feet the space is powdered with scrolls, and a ledger-line enclosed the whole.
As usual with influential families resident near large ecclesiastical foundations, and having considerable landed property in the district, the Paveleys, who were the Lords of Westbury Hundred, were doubtless largely connected with the welfare of the Monastery, and as liberal donors toward the building of the Abbey Church. The armorial story told on the tomb, points to its being the memorial of Sir Ralph Cheney, who married Joan, one of the daughters and coheiresses of Sir John Paveley, and succeeded in her right to Broke. He died 2 Henry IV., 1401. The great William of Edington, consecrated Bishop of Winchester, 1345, and afterward Chancellor and Treasurer to King Edward III., was born here, and became a considerable benefactor to the village and Monastery. His surname has not been recovered, but surmised to have been Cheney,—at any rate in a deed dated 1361, the Bishop is described as “guardian of the heiresses of Sir John Paveley,"—and one of these, Joan, as we have observed, married Sir Ralph Cheney, and as a consequence with great probability she found sepulchre here with her husband, in their Chantry in the Abbey Church.
Back to the railway station again, and a place among the cohort of the iron horse, for a long journey is before us, even from the open, breezy chalk-plains of Wiltshire, to the marge of the majestic Tamar in westernmost Devon, and the granite-bouldered precincts of east Cornwall, where we hope to get further clue to the haunts of Willoughby when in the flesh. Here, we are leaving what was probably his first home and earliest associations before ambition dawned on his future path; there, we shall visit his later possessions when the sun of fortune had shone on him, and he basked in its rays of honours and wealth. There also our pilgrimage will eventually lead us to that last house, the which he in common with earth’s humblest denizen must share.
Before, however, we proceed further on our way to what we may term his second home, it behoves us to say something anent the antecedents and coming of the knight himself, and how the name of Willoughby originally became located in the west country. Like many a younger son rejoicing in a titled extraction, coupled with probably only a slender portion of the family patrimony, the wooing of a distaff—who, beside let us hope, being endowed with her full share of love’s talisman, personal attractions, enjoyed also the further potent charm of being an heiress to boot—brought the father of our knight from the fens of Lincolnshire to the distant altitudes of Wilts, and in winning the hand of Anne Cheney for a wife, subsequently became in her right the Lord of Broke. A similar errand sent his son away to the boundary line that divides Devon from Cornwall, and with the well-dowered Blanche Champernowne of Beer-Ferrers for his helpmate, there to find his future home, and where we propose to look for him again, after we have gossiped over his lineage awhile.
In common with many of our old titled names, Sir John de Willoughby its first possessor in this country was a Norman knight to whom the Conqueror gave the manor of Willoughby in Lincolnshire. His descendant Sir William in the reign of Henry III. married Alice daughter and coheiress of John Bec or Beke of Eresby, summoned to Parliament as Baron Beke of Eresby 1295-6. He was succeeded by his son Robert, who inherited at the decease of his grand-uncle Anthony Beke, Bishop of Durham, the great possessions of that prelate, and 7 Edward II., was summoned to Parliament as Baron Willoughby de Eresby.
His great-grandson was Robert, fourth Lord Willoughby; he married first Alice daughter of Sir William Skipwith, and secondly Margaret daughter of William, Lord Zouch, who died in 1391. His third son Sir Thomas by Alice Skipwith, married Elizabeth daughter of John de Nevill, Lord Nevill of Raby, and Elizabeth Latimer his second wife, only daughter of William, fourth Lord Latimer of the first creation, who died in 1388. Sir Thomas was succeeded by his son Sir John Willoughby, who married Joan Welby, described as an heiress, and their son was the Sir John Willoughby, who married Anne daughter of Sir Edmond Cheney, of Broke, Wilts; whose son was Sir Robert Willoughby, the first Lord Willoughby de Broke, and subject of our little memoir. There were three other sons, William of Turners-Piddle, Dorset, who died in 1512, and was buried at Bere-Regis; Thomas, who married Isabel Bedyke of Silton, Dorset, died 1523, and ordered his body to be buried in the church there; and Edward, Dean of Exeter Cathedral, and Canon of St. George’s, Windsor, who died in 1508. Also two daughters, Cicely, Abbess of Wilton, who died in 1528, and Elizabeth, married to William Carrant, of Toomer in Henstridge, Somerset.
Thus far for the coming of the knight; our next care will be to trace, as far as means available enable us, his progress and actions during the eventful days in which he lived. The strife between the contending factions of the Red and White Roses, in his younger years was strongly predominant, and so thoroughly had the fierce rivalry for supreme power permeated society, that probably it was almost impossible to remain neutral, while men so blindly, yet withal so devotedly, risked their lives and fortunes in partizanship with the contending claimants of the divine right. To choose a side was an absolute necessity,—
“Under which king, Bezonian? speak or die!”
was the question of the hour, and had to be answered with all its contingent risk. In the west country the adherents of the Red Rose seemed to have the preponderance, the detestable craft and cruelty of Richard III. doubtless had its effect of estranging from sympathy with him, all except just those who were allied to his rule by the hollow tie of self-interest, and the usual glamour of adhering to the powers that be, no matter how arrived at or constituted, or what its actions were.
The first important social function we find Sir Robert Willoughby discharging, is that of Sheriff of Devon, 21 Edward IV., 1481, being the year preceding the one in which his friend Sir Giles Daubeney held the same office. And then, in harmony with the prevailing distracted state of public affairs we have described, we next observe him in active sympathy with the claims of the Red Rose, and consequent enlistment in the cause of the Earl of Richmond, in the company of a large number of west country gentlemen, the Marquis of Dorset (representative of Bonville), Giles Daubeney, the Courtenays, John Cheney, Walter Hungerford, and others, in their rising and march to Salisbury, in order to effect a junction with, and aid the movement in Wales of the ill-fated Duke of Buckingham, in 1483. But the extraordinary swollen state of the Severn—"an inundation so remarkable that for a hundred years afterward it was called the Great Water, or Buckingham’s Water, said to have lasted ten days, and that men, women, and children were carried away in their beds by the violence of it"—placed a barrier between their forces from effecting a junction, leaving the unfortunate Stafford in Richard’s power, who forthwith consigned him to the scaffold at Salisbury, and sent Sir Robert and his companions in speedy flight to the south coast, and thence ‘beyond seas’ over to Richmond in Brittany, thereby escaping a similar sanguinary fate, which would have been remorselessly meted out to them. For this defection his lands were seized, and Broke and Suthwyke were bestowed by Richard on his favourite Sir Richard Radcliffe.
Our clue as to his movements, for a short time, becomes one of surmise rather than of actual proof. At the dispersal of Buckingham’s followers, Sir Robert and his attainted companions fled to Brittany, and he remained probably with them at Vannes or the neighbourhood, until the Earl of Richmond set out on his final expedition from Harfleur to Milford-Haven. This he doubtless accompanied, although no special mention is made of his name, nor as to his taking part in the engagement at Bosworth, where however he must have been present from circumstances that followed. Dugdale says “he was a successful sharer in the benefit of that great victory,” another thing to that of sharing its danger.
A much more important event however, identifying the presence of Sir Robert at Bosworth, or immediately near, and shewing the confidence the victor placed in him, was Richmond despatching the knight, the day after the battle, and before Henry left Leicester, with a detachment of horse to the castle of Sheriff-Hutton in Yorkshire, to convoy the unfortunate Earl of Warwick (son of the Duke of Clarence and nephew of Edward IV.), then a prisoner there, to the still safer and more dangerous custody of the Tower of London, only to emerge eventually from thence to his death on the scaffold.
This mission is thus described by the old chronicler Hall. Henry in order
“to obsist the first likely mischiefe, sent before his departure from Leycestre Sir Robert Willoghby knight to the maner of Sheryhutton in the County of Yorke for Edward Plantagenet Erle of Warwike sonne and heire to George Duke of Clarence then beyng of the age of xv yeres, whom Kyng Richard had kept there as a prisoner durynge the tyme of his vsurped reigne. Sir Robert Willoghby accordynge to hys commission receaved of the conestable of the castle the Erle Edward, and him conueighed to London, where the youngelynge borne to perpetual calamitie was incontynent in the towre of London putt under safe and sure custody.”
The circumstances connected with the inveiglement of this poor boy,—who for fifteen out of the twenty-four years he had lived, had been a close prisoner, and so shut out from all knowledge of the outer world, that he was said “not to know a goose from a capon,"—into a confession of complicity with Perkin Warbeck’s attempt, and then his barbarous murder,—for it was nothing less,—on Tower Hill, is one of the darkest of the many selfishly revengeful crimes that stain with indelible cruelty the reign of the first Tudor king, as the equally detestable slaying of the lad’s aged sister the Countess of Salisbury, in 1541, appals by the horror of its incidents, the second. “The truth was,” says Rapin, “the real crime that cost him his life, was his being the last male heir of the house of York.” He was beheaded 14 Nov., 1499, and Sir Robert lived to witness the wretched fate of the noble youth he had four years previously brought a captive to London, and in his death the extinction of the hope of the White Rose.
At the conclusion of Henry’s first Parliament in 1485, in company with his friend Sir Giles Daubeney, Sir Robert had the honour of the peerage conferred on him, by the title of Baron Willoughby de Broke, but the writ of summons does not appear to have been issued until 12 August, 1492. About the same time he was constituted one of the king’s Privy Council. In 1489, he was created a Knight of the Garter, being the two hundred and forty-fourth on the roll of that noble order.
Lord Willoughby de Broke’s first important public function appears to have been his despatch from Portsmouth by Henry, with an army “to the number of eight thousand choice men and well armed, who, having a fair wind, in a few hours landed in Brittany” in March, 1489, professedly to protect at her own proper costs and charges the girl-duchess Ann, then about twelve years old, from the aggression of the French king, Charles VIII., who was encamped with a hostile force within her territory, but which province he eventually added to his kingdom, together with the hand of its young mistress.
Here he remained in inglorious ease until November, when the little army, with the exception of the five hundred left to occupy the “cautionary towns” until payment for the expedition was made, returned; during which time, and for a considerable portion of the year ensuing, a game of dissimulation and feints at fighting was carried on between the three monarchs, Henry, Charles, and Maximilian, practically over the destiny of the young Duchess.
Then the scene of this playing at war shifts suddenly from Brittany to Flanders, where the subjects of Maximilian—the proxy husband of Ann—at Ypres and Sluys were in open revolt, respecting “an unpalatable edict concerning coin,” and to aid whom Charles VIII. had sent Marshal d’Esquerdes with large succours of help, thus attacking the would-be bridegroom and his child fiancée, on each side, and at once; a game that proved successful in the end.
Maximilian in his turn sent ambassadors over to the wary calculating Henry, then holding the scales between the monarchs, as he was at the same time also engaged in negociations with Charles, who was procrastinating and not intending to give any definite answer, nor but little frightened at Henry’s preparations, as he was well assured within himself how matters would eventually terminate.
Henry was however seriously annoyed at the French king’s dissimulation, and despatched with all speed a little expedition of a thousand men over to Calais, the command being entrusted to the Lords Morley and Willoughby de Broke. Lord Daubeney was at that period Governor of Calais, and to this force he added another thousand men, drawn from the garrisons of Calais, Hammes, and Guisnes; and they had “secret instructions to aid Maximilian and raise the siege of Dixmude” where the citizens, soldiers, and their allies were encamped. The English soldiers appear to have stolen an effective surprise upon the Flemings and their French allies in the night, for they had apparently no idea of the attack, and routed them with great slaughter, said to have been eight thousand in number, while only a hundred or thereabout of the English were killed, a statement to be received with caution, as Lord Morley, Sir James Tyrrell, Captain of Guisnes, Sir Humphrey Talbot, Marshal of Calais, Sir Gilbert Talbot, and others, were among the slain. The pursuit over, the English army retired to Newport, where Marshal d’Esquerdes appears to have followed and attacked them without result. As this was the first touch of real hostilities, such as they were, between Henry and Charles, for the time it “bred a great coldness” between the belligerent monarchs.
But the coldness did not last long, and meanwhile a complete tangle of matters enveloped these three royal players, over the destiny of their hostage the girl-princess of Brittany, secretly wedded by proxy to Maximilian, practically a prisoner in her little kingdom, unprotected, and in the eyes of the French king a very desirable alliance for him, and so incorporate that province under the crown of France, of which nation it formed an integral portion. Ambassadors came over from the Duchess to sound Henry’s intentions of protection toward her, others were despatched across in February, 1491, to the French king by Henry, and these were followed again by further ambassadors from Ann, vainly waiting in London for an answer. So things progressed, and Charles who by his agents was busily plying the young Duchess with his suit, in his turn amused the English envoys, until he found he had won her and had the game in hand; then he cut the knot of the difficulty by marrying her 16 Dec., 1491, and Henry’s ambassadors returned discomfited.
This climax came as a bomb-shell among the great personages. Maximilian was furious at the loss of his bride, and threatened immediate invasion of France for so deadly an affront; this however did not much trouble Charles. What he was most concerned with was the attitude of Henry who was also greatly enraged, and who, beside openly boasting he should at once prepare for war against him, was also influencing Ferdinand of Spain—whose daughter Katharine was espoused to his son Arthur—to join him in the conflict. Thus France was threatened on three sides at once, Charles however had little fear of Maximilian or Ferdinand.
In the meantime Henry had another trouble nearer his door, with the Scotch, and no settlement appeared to be in view, while the complication in France continued, the French king being probably moving behind to prevent. Ambassadors again came over from Charles to negociate, but Henry who had the ulterior object of getting well paid for what he was about to do, and the old debt due by Ann of Brittany discharged, aided by liberal subsidies from Parliament, assembled an army of twenty-five thousand foot, and sixteen hundred horse, and on the second of October crossed over to Calais, to make conditions on his adversary’s soil, never meaning to fight, but by show and menaces, see what he could get.
The conduct of this large flotilla, which arrived at Calais the same day, was under the command of Lord Willoughby de Broke, as Lord High Admiral; a notable piece of seamanship for the age, and shewing that at the time England had a considerable reserve of shipping.
Henry with all the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of war marched out to Boulogne, then, instead of fighting, the inevitable ambassadors on both sides duly met, and a treaty of peace was signed at Etaples on the third of November. The French king perfectly well knew his antagonist’s mercenary longings, and that himself and his army were only there to exact the last golden crown possible, for the conclusion of the matter by monetary consideration was an understanding between them before Henry left England. So Charles agreed to pay Henry an immense sum in discharge of his wife’s debt, and also another large amount, arrears of the yearly pension agreed to be paid by Lewis XI. to Edward IV., his wife’s father. Thereon the English king retired with his army and treasure, or the promise of it, back to London, the French monarch returned to his young bride at Paris, and the undisputed possession of her dowry the Duchy of Brittany, and Maximilian was left to shift for himself. After this manner therefore ended the war concerning Brittany which began five years before in 1487.
This appears to have been the last foreign service in which Lord Willoughby de Broke was engaged. We do not find his name among the generals of the king’s army employed in the suppression of the Cornish revolt at Black-Heath, nor otherwise engaged at home, until the landing of Perkin Warbeck at Whitsand Bay in September, 1498, when he held a command in the royal forces under Henry in his march to the west to meet the plebeian pretender to his crown. Lord Willoughby de Broke came to Taunton with Lord Daubeney and others commanding the troops, and after Perkin’s return as a captive from Beaulieu, went on with Henry to Exeter. There the king dealt with the insurgents personally, many of whom came with halters round their necks sueing for pardon, and having punished some, to use his own words, “grant unto the residue generally our grace and pardon, and our Commissioners, the Earl of Devon, our Chamberlain, and our Steward of Household, have done, and do daily, in our County of Cornwall.”
The ‘Steward of Household’ was Lord Willoughby de Broke, and he was peculiarly fitted for the duty, not only on account of his relationship by property with the County, but also by virtue of his position as Steward of the Duchy of Cornwall. This was apparently his last public employment of any note, and probably age was stealing on him, as he died four years afterward.
Of the offices and honours conferred on him by Henry, we find those of Lord Steward of the Household, Steward of the Duchy of Cornwall, and alternately that of Captain-General or Marshal of the land forces, and as an Admiral of the fleet, in the king’s expeditions to France, also a chief Commander of the forces when engaged at home. He was called to the Privy Council, created a Baron by writ of summons, and subsequently elected a Knight of the Garter.
He twice served the office of Sheriff of Devon, in 1481, and again in 1488. Lysons says “in the reign of Henry VII. the mines of silver and gold (in Cornwall) were leased to Sir Robert Willoughby.”
Thus far have we proceeded with Lord Willoughby de Broke’s public services abroad and at home; our next care must be to glance at his domestic surroundings, and what constrained him to leave his old ancestral place of Broke Hall amid the breezy altitudes of north Wilts, and find his way to the sheltered banks by Tamar’s marge, in south Devon. Nothing in any way singular or unusual, simply that potent cause which has tempted many a young man to stray far away from his father’s roof-tree, brought Robert Willoughby down to Beer-Ferrers,—the search for a wife,—and the lady he selected was endowed with one, at least, most attractive charm, eagerly sought after by mediæval knight—and not altogether lost sight of, by suitors in these, in some respects not much-improved mercenary, unchivalric modern days of ours,—she was an heiress, largely dowered with the home possessions of an antient race, of whom she was there the sole representative in right of her grandmother, one of three sisters, coheiresses, its last descendants; while on her father’s side she was also the only survivor of a branch of another of the most time-honoured names in the county.
Blanche Champernowne was the pleasant name of the distaff that Robert Willoughby won for his bride. She was the only daughter of John Champernowne of Beer-Ferrers by Elizabeth Bigbury his wife, which John succeeded his elder brother Roger who died without issue. He was the second son of Alexander Champernowne (who died 30 June, 1441), by his wife Joan, daughter and coheiress of Martyn Ferrers, who, says Pole “was the last of yt name of Ferrers, Lord of Beere-Ferrers.” Alexander was son of Sir Richard Champernowne of Modbury, by his first wife Alice daughter of Thomas Lord Astley, and whose second wife was Katharine daughter of Sir Giles Daubeney.
The family of De Ferraris or Ferrers, whose ‘name and blood’ Blanche Champernowne represented, deserves a short genealogical notice here. They had from very early date been settled in the parish of Beer, one part of which, says Pole, “takes his name of ye family of Ferrers, th’ ancient inhabitants, from whence all the Ferrers in Devon and Cornwall issued.” Ralph de Ferrers was its lord in the reign of King Henry II., to him succeeded Henry, Reginald, and Sir William who married Isolda daughter of Andrew Cardinham, leaving issue Sir Roger, Sir Reginald, and Sir Hugh the ancestor of the Churston descent. Sir Reginald, of Beer, married Margaret sister and coheiress of Sir Robert le Dennis of Pancrasweek, and had issue Sir William who married Matilda daughter of Roger Carminow. They were followed by their son Sir John, who was succeeded by his son Sir Martyn, who, says Pole, was “the last of that name of Ferrers, Lord of Beere-Ferrers; a person of great honour and integrity, one of the principal persons entrusted with the guard of this shire,” corroborated by Risdon, who adds, “he was put in special trust, with others, for the defence of the sea-coast against the invasion of the French in King Edward the third’s time.”
Sir Martyn left three daughters, Elizabeth married to Hugh Poynings, Lord St. John of Basing, Leva to Christopher Fleming, Baron of Slane in Ireland, and Jone “to whom the mannor of Beer-Ferrers fell in porcion” to Alexander Champernowne. Further notices of this family will occur on our visit to the little sanctuary in the village, which they appear to have originally built, and wherein several interesting memorials to them remain. Their allusive arms were, Or, on a bend sable, three horse-shoes argent.
Concerning this prettily named heiress Blanche Champernowne and her family, the prosaic and literal old itinerant Leland, gives us further notice, and, if his description of her be correct, takes much of the romance out of it,—
“There was another house of the Campernulphes more auncient, caullid Campernulphe of Bere. The last of this house left a doughter and heire caullid Blanche, maried first onto Copestan of Devonshire, and after devorcid and maried onto the Lord Brooke, Steward onto Henry the VII, and he had by her a 700 markes of lande by yere.
“John Willoughby that cam out of Lincolnshire and maried the an heire general of the Lord (of) Broke, and after was Lord Brooke hymself, lyeth buried at Hedington, and was a benefactor to that house. As I remembre, the sunne of this Lord Broke was Steward of king Henry the VII House, and his son was the third Lord Brooke of that—. N.B.—and he had a sunne by his firste wife, and that sunne had ij doughters maried to Daltery and Graville. He had by another wife sunnes and doughters. The sunnes toward yong men died of the sweting syknes.”
The genealogy is here somewhat confused, but Leland appears to have been trusting to memory only.
We have made pilgrimage to, and described what remains of the old ancestral home of the knight in Wiltshire, and our steps next lead us to the locality of the new one he possessed by right of his wife at Beer-Ferrers in Devon. Like all places situate on the estuaries of large rivers such as the Tamar, that are tidal, and fringed by creeks that run considerable distances inland, Beer-Ferrers on the land side is only to be reached by a circuitous route from Plymouth, and therefore we elect the easier and more direct approach to it, by aid of the iron horse to Saltash, and thence by boat.
The tide is well up, and a pleasant breeze soon speeds us on our way. We pass the Budshead creek, that extends inland to Tamerton-Foliot, and are soon opposite a second and somewhat larger opening that runs up to Maristow, where, at its far end, the sparkling Tavy, fresh from the granite boulders of Dartmoor, delivereth her waters into the salt bosom of the lower Tamar. At about mid-distance up the creek on its northern shore, a small compact village, with a square battlemented church tower rising in the midst, has its place on the bank that slopes gently down to the water’s edge. Thither we steer our way, and making fast our little craft to the pier, or ‘quay’ as these landing places are locally termed, find ourselves at Beer-Ferrers.
And where shall we discover this new home, you say, that Lord Willoughby de Broke acquired by right of Blanche Champernowne, and when in the flesh possessed and resided in, with surrounding park, and for which mansion or manor-house, his wife’s ancestor Sir William de Ferrers had a license to castellate from king Edward III. in 1337, a concession subsequently renewed to his widow the Lady Matilda, and continued to his son Sir John?
Even in Leland’s time, immediately after the decease of the last Lord Willoughby de Broke, it seems to have disappeared, for he notes:—"on the east side of this creek is Buckland. And on the west side is Bere, where the Lord Broke’s house and park was.” We believe nothing now remains to mark its former site but a few undulations in the turf. A graphic picture of the lawlessness of the era of Lord Willoughby de Broke’s earlier residence at Beer-Ferrers, and the amenities of social life exhibited between the “bettermost folk” of that district, and comparatively neighbours also, is shewn in an account preserved among the muniments of the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, describing attacks made on the person, servants and residence of his ancestor Richard Edgcumbe of Cotehele (M.P. for Tavistock in 1468) by Robert Willoughby of Beer-Ferrers, and thus described by the Earl to the members of the Royal Archæological Society in 1876:—
“The document is rather amusing, dated 1470, and is apparently the rough copy of a complaint or information by this Richard against Robert Willoughby, who lived across the water at Beer Ferrers, of injuries done to him at sundry times. This paper which is remarkable for its wonderful spelling and for the careful way in which every hostile act is estimated at its money value, contains no less than thirteen items or charges, each specifying some distinct outrage on the part of the said Willoughby and his followers, numbering on one occasion ‘three score persons, in form of war arraied, with jackes, salettes, bowys, ar’ws, and byelys, who at various times and places contrewayted the said Richard to have mordered him and with force of armes made a great affray and assawte upon him and his servants sometimes to the gret jeperdy and dispayre of his liff,’ always to his hurt and damage of so many pounds. And on another occasion attacked Cotehele House itself and carried off a very miscellaneous collection of articles to the hurt and damage of the said Richard of a great many pounds; and at other times took divers of his servants and kept them for a week at a time in prison at ‘Bere Ferrers,’ and ‘bete‘ and grievously wounded others, especially one William Frost, to the hurt and damage to the said Richard of £20 and more. It is a curious fact that fifteen years later this Willoughby (as Lord de Broke) and Richard Edgcumbe held high places together in the court of Henry VII.”
Richard Edgcumbe had a narrower escape however from the vengeance of Richard III., after the suppression of Buckingham’s revolt, in which he was a partizan, being strongly attached to the fortunes of the Red Rose. A party of armed men in Richard’s interest, headed according to tradition by Sir Henry Bodrugan, otherwise Trenoweth, of St. Gorran in Cornwall, an adherent of the White Rose, made search for him in his own beautiful home of Cotehele. Carew describing the event says,
“he was driven to hide himself in those his thick woods, which overlook the river, what time being suspected of favouring the Earle of Richmond’s party, against King Richard the III., he was hotely pursued, and narrowly searched for. Which extremity taught him a sudden policy, to put a stone in his cap, and tumble the same into the water, while these rangers were fast at his heeles, who looking downe after the noyse, and seeing his cap swimming thereon supposed that he had desperately drowned himselfe, gave over their farther hunting and left him at liberty to shift away, and ship over into Brittaine: for a grateful remembrance of which delivery, hee afterwards builded in the place of his lurking, a Chapell.”
After the victory of Bosworth, and Henry was seated on the throne, it came to Edgcumbe’s chance to turn the tables on his adversary, and this he did most effectually. Tradition further relates, according to Lysons quoting from Tonkin, that,
“Sir Henry Bodrugan was in arms in Cornwall against the Earl of Richmond, (Henry VII.) that he was defeated on a moor, not far from his own castle by Sir Richard Edgcumbe and Trevanion, and that he made his escape by a desperate leap from the cliff into the sea, where a boat was ready to receive him, and fled to Ireland, when all his large estates, including Bodrugan Castle, described by Borlase “that there was nothing in Cornwall equal to it for magnificence” were forfeited to the Crown. Most of Bodrugan’s estates, including the manor of St. Gorran (whereon was the castle) were granted to Sir Richard Edgcumbe, and now belong to his descendants.”
Two very remarkable and almost identically coincident escapes. The place where he jumped over the cliff at Dodman’s Head, is still known as “Bodrugan’s Leap.”
Edgcumbe was Comptroller of the Household, and of the Privy Council to Henry VII., and died returning from an embassy to France, at Morlaix on his way home, in 1489. Willoughby, Lord de Broke was his superior officer as Lord Steward of the Household to the same monarch; thus at Court they were closely associated with each other. Subsequently 22 Henry VII. (1497), Lord de Broke obtained of the king a grant in fee of the manor of Trethewye in St. Cleer, and all the lands there, part of the forfeited possessions of Sir Henry Bodrugan, and which were situate near his other property at Callington. So these worthies divided the spoil of their unfortunate neighbour.
As it hath happened to us aforetime, in many of our wanderings, in search of the former earthly habitations of those we were essaying to bring back to the stage of our thoughts, so also here,—successively of Ferrers, Champernowne and Willoughby,—all traces of their olden home have disappeared, and only a site with a name and a tradition remains to identify where stood their antient dwelling-place. Therefore our steps lead us back to that hallowed spot, where they, in common with us all, found their last and final home of eternal rest, there to seek for such memorials of them as may yet remain.
The church of Beer-Ferrers is an antient structure, the chancel and transepts of interesting early-decorated character, and but little disturbed from their original condition. But although used for parochial worship in the ordinary sense of the word, the little sanctuary was of old something more than that, being dignified ecclesiastically as a foundation of collegiate character, and termed an Arch-Presbytery. Of these somewhat uncommon religious establishments there were two in Devon, the other being at Haccombe, founded (about the same time) 1341, by Sir Stephen de Haccombe. This, at Beer-Ferrers, was founded by Sir William de Ferrers, who having rebuilt the church was desirous of making it Collegiate. For this purpose he assigned a sufficient endowment for an arch-priest and four other priests, who were to live in common under the same roof; and provision was also made for an assistant deacon, or sub-deacon, or at least a clerk. The Community were to perform the daily and nightly office in the church, and to offer up perpetual prayers for the prosperity of the Founder and his Lady Matilda during their lives, and for their souls after death. Also for the souls of Reginald de Ferrers and his wife Margery (parents of the Founder) and the souls of Sir Roger and Lady Joan de Carminow (parents of his wife) and the bishops of Exeter living or dead. Bishop Grandison confirmed this foundation 17 June, 1333. The Founder did not long survive his charitable work, for it is found in that prelate’s register (vol. ii., fol. 219) that his relict and executrix Matilda obtained from the bishop 15 Dec., 1338, an acknowledgment of having well and faithfully administered to her husband’s property, and that only the sum of twenty pounds remained in arrear, “ad completionem cantarie de Biry.” (Oliver.)
A glance into the chancel, although five centuries have flown, brings us face to face with the Founder and his wife. There—marvellously preserved—humbly postured on one knee, his glowing tinted proportions, amid the crimson interlacery, and quarrels of pale-pencilled leaflets, that fill the east window, arrayed in gilded chain-mail, silver genouillères and sword-hilt, with the armories of his race, the dark bend and gleaming horse-shoes traversing both ailette and surcoat. In his raised hands he bears the offering of a grand church, having three spires, and over his head runs a legend that apparently reads “(SYR) E WILL’S FERREYS ME FECIT.“ Fronting him in the adjoining light, with hands uplifted in prayer, kneels his wife Matilda Carminow, in snowy wimple and cover-chief, pink boddice and sleeves, with the broad bend of her husband’s arms embroidered on her golden robe. The inscription above her head, seems to be confused and undecipherable. Studding the borders of the lights, interspersed among other ornaments, are the arms of Ferrers and Carminow, and a grand escutcheon similarly charged, and encircled with beautiful green-foliaged ornament occurs below.
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