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"And thus I bid you heartily farewell." But my Lord's Grace the Protector's new style is-" We have received your letters," and "We bid you heartily farewell." I have brought two of his letters which show this. Still, though he may not have often visited the old family house, he bought all he could round it; and the greater part of his vast possessions certainly lay in this county and in Somerset.
Besides Wulfhall and Tottenham Lodge, the Duke of Somerset had a residence at Easton, a dissolved Priory near Pewsey. (Appendix, No. vii.) But from the Longleat Papers I have made the rather interesting discovery, that it certainly was his intention to build a new house, upon some very large scale, not exactly on the site of Wulfhall, but very near it, rather more towards Great Bedwyn. Those who are acquainted with that neighbourhood will know the high ground consisting of two wooded hills, with Wilton Common lying between them, called Bedwyn Brail. The word Brail used often to be pronounced Broyl, which is merely a provincial variety of one and the same word, signifying (in old French, "Breuil," in mediæval Latin, " Brolium," or " Bruelletum," and in Anglo-Saxon, "Broel,") open pasture ground studded with thickets and timber. Near Ringmer, in Sussex, there is an old house, with large welltimbered park, called Broyle Place, most likely of the same origin.
The two hills called Bedwyn Brail, or Broil, command a fine view down the Vale of Pewsey, westward; and on one of them this new palace was to have been built. In the letters written to Sir John Thynne by stewards and other local agents (Appendix, No. viii), are described the large preparations going on-the providing of water, searching for stone, enclosure of a park, brick making, orders for Purbeck stone, &c. &c. One letter in particular dwells upon the progress they are making in a large conduit or channel for bringing water to the new house, and reports that this conduit had been dug to the length of 1600 feet, and part thereof 15 feet deep. (Appendix No. viii., 3 and 10.)
There were so many references in these letters to local names of mills and commons and the like, to be enclosed within the new park, that I determined to use my own eyes and tongue, and see if we could not make out something more about this palace which Protector
Somerset intended to build in this his native county. I was more particularly struck by the circumstance of the conduit for water 1600 feet long and 15 feet deep, as a rather important work, not likely to be easily obliterated, and one of which some traces might still be recoverable. So I went over some little time ago on an exploring expedition to Wulfhall, and with Mr. Stallard, walked about the hills and fairly identified the outline of the proposed park.
A day or two afterwards, I had the pleasure of hearing that he had been again to the woods, had discovered the remains of the conduit for water, had measured it and found it 1598 feet long (see the Plan, a little above the letter S).
The conduit-digging and other preparations took place, according to these letters, in 1548 and 1549, the beginning of Edward VI. and of the Protector Somerset's reign. A few months afterwards, the wheel of fortune gave a violent turn. The Protector was deposed from power, and in January 1552, sinking under the assault of his rivals, was beheaded on Tower Hill. So the great house was never finished on Bedwyn Brail.
I come now to the next owner of Wulfhall:
EDWARD SEYMOUR, EARL OF HERTFORD, SON OF PROTECTOR SOMERSET.
The Protector had been twice married; but through the influence of his second wife Anne Stanhope, the children of the first marriage were set aside, and the title and larger part of the estate entailed upon the children of the second. The eldest of these, Edward, was only about 12 or 13 years old at the time of his father's execution, and being wholly deprived (not by his Father's attainder,which was for felony only, not treason, but by a special Act of Parliament procured by enemies,) of all dignities and lands, found himself reduced to plain, and penniless, Edward Seymour. Sir John Thynne having been for so many years intimately acquainted with his father's affairs, was the person immediately applied to and consulted with, about measures to be taken for his benefit. (Appendix, No. ix.) Queen Mary (though opposed to him in religion) wished to create him Earl of Hertford, and restore to him such lands as the Protector had been possessed of at the death of King Henry VIII., 1547. (Appendix,
No. ix., Letter 2.) But in this she was over-ruled. Queen Elizabeth, however, on coming to the throne, raised him to that Earldom, and restored to him certain lands, viz., those (and only those) which his father had been in possession of in the year 1537, by inheritance. This included Wulfhall, Savernake, &c. The rest (namely lands acquired by the Protector, by purchase, &c.) were lost. (Appendix, No. x.)
The young Earl made his condition worse by an indiscreet clandestine marriage with a young lady of the most important political position, the Lady Katharine Grey, sister of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey. Under the Will of Henry VIII., the Greys, though descended from a younger sister of the King's, were preferred, in the Succession, to the descendants from an elder sister. Such a will was, of course, the cause of infinite perplexity to the Statesmen of the day. It was set aside; but Queen Elizabeth was exposed to continual plots and conspiracies arising from it; and not being overpartial to successors of any kind, she more particularly disliked Lady Katharine Grey, the representative of the youngest branch. So that, when young Edward Seymour, without the leave and even the knowledge of the Queen, had the audacity to marry Lady Katharine, the result may be easily anticipated.
Here might be introduced a long and lamentable story, but a very few words must suffice.
Upon the Queen's discovery of the marriage (but not until several months after the event), the young couple were committed to the Tower, in 1561, with strict order to be kept apart. But Her Majesty's precautions against the appearance of any issue in this line of succession came too late. The first son, Edward Lord Beauchamp, was born a few days after their committal, and in course of time, in February, 1563, a second son, Thomas Seymour; both within the Tower walls. On the birth of the second, the case became very serious. The Earl was summoned before the Star Chamber, and fined in the very large sum of £15,000, and both were condemned to remain in prison. Owing to the plague breaking out, they were removed elsewhere for a time, but on returning to the Tower, and her health beginning to give way, they were again transferred to