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Hampton Court, Herefordshire ;
THE SEAT OF
RICHARD ARK WRIGHT, ESQ.
The first stone of this magnificent structure, one of the most celebrated old mansions in the kingdom, is recorded to have been laid by King Henry IV., and the building to have been carried on under his immediate auspices, by Sir Rowland Lenthall, Knt., Master of the Wardrobe to his Majesty, who married Margaret, one of the daughters of Richard Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel, Warren, and Surrey, K.G., and co-heiress of her brother, Thomas, Earl of Arundel. The noble edifice is, however, said to have been completed with the spoils from the battle of Azincour. It consists of an immense front to the north, in which is the principal entrance, vide Plate I. The centre is occupied by a grand and massive square tower, having over the portal a panel sculptured with the arms and supporters; towers of smaller dimensions, but similar character, grace the extremities; these have all projecting parapets, embattled, and seemingly of great strength. On the east, is the domestic Chapel, concealed by the trees on the left of our view; the roof of the Chapel is of framed timber open work; there is some painted glass, consisting of the arms of the founder Lenthall, and others : in a passage window are also three coats of arms of the Coningsbys, in stained glass, dated 1613 and 1614, marked T. R. The buildings, all of a grand and imposing appearance, surround three sides of a large quadrangular court, upon the south front; and, notwithstanding some attempts have been made to give it a modern air, particularly by the celebrated Colin Campbell about a century ago, the whole may be regarded as one of the finest examples extant of the castellated mansions of early times. The Park and Pleasure Grounds are very extensive, including a circumference of not less than eight miles, containing some very fine timber, and most beautiful plantations, through which a variety of walks are conducted, embracing at the same time most delightful prospects. The river Lugg flows about a quarter of a mile on the south-west, and below the Mansion is joined by the Arrow, a stream that rises in the hills about Lockley Heath, and meanders through the park, enlivening the views at every point: a fine cascade is also formed by the rushing of the waters over a mass of rugged rock, which adds greatly to the beauty of the scenery. The House is well protected on the northeast by a delightful eminence, covered with wood. Plate II. shews the south-front of the ancient Mansion, where it encloses a Court upon three sides, and opening upon a fine Lawn of considerable extent.
The Mansion is situated in Wolphy Hundred, about four miles from Leominster, and about nine miles north-east from the city of Hereford. After the death of Edmund Lenthall, Esq., the son and heir of Sir Rowland Lenthall, Knt., and Margaret Fitz-Alan, the estate devolved upon female heirs, his cousins, and Hampton Court afterwards became the property of the Coningsbys, who purchased the estate of the Cornewalls, Barons Burford, to whom it had been soid. The family of Coningsby long made it their principal residence. Thomas, the son of Sir Humphry Coningsby, Knt., one of the justices of the King's Bench, in the reign of Henry VIII., was the first of the family that was seated here, and died in the lifetime of his father, leaving, hy his wife, Cicely, daughter and co-heiress of John Salway, Esq. of Stanford, in Worcestershire, Humphry Coningsby, Esq., his son and heir, who had issue by Anne his wife, daughter of Sir Thomas Inglefield, Knt. one of the judges of the Common Pleas, two sons and three daughters. Thomas, the surviving son and heir, succeeded to the estate of Hampton Court, and other possessions in this county. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1591, and in the year 1617 was appointed one of the Council to William, Lord Compton, Lord President of the Marches of Wales. He died 30th May, 1625, having married Philippa, daughter of Sir William Fitzwilliam, of Milton, in Northamptonshire, Lord Deputy of Ireland, by whom he had four sons and six daughters. Of the sons, the three eldest died without issue ; but Fitzwilliam Coningsby, Esq., the youngest, survived his father, and being seated at Hampton Court, was Sheriff of this county in 1627. He married Cicely, daughter of Henry Nevile, seventh Lord Abergavenny, and by her was father of Humphry Coningsby, Esq., who married Lettice, the eldest daughter of Arthur Loftus, Esq., of Rathfarnham, in Ireland, and had an only son, Thomas Coningsby, Esq., who was instrumental in the
revolution brought about by King William. At the battle of the Boyne, in Ireland, he was so near his majesty, that when a bullet grazed the king's right shoulder, Mr. Coningsby had the presence of mind immediately to clap his handkerchief on the wound. This handkerchief was preserved with great care in the Library here, and in the Hall is an equestrian statue of William III. He attended his majesty during the whole campaign, who, on leaving that kingdom, in 1690, constituted him, and Henry Lord Sydney, Lords Justices in Ireland, in consideration of their eminent services in the reduction of that realm ; also for his faithful services in settling the affairs of that nation, Thomas Coningsby, Esq. was, in 1693, created Lord Coningsby, of Clanbrasil, in the county of Armagh, and sworn of the Privy Council in England. On the accession of George I., having been one of the representatives in Parliament for Leominster, from the year 1675, he was called up to the House of Peers as a Baron of Great Britain, by the title of Lord Coningsby, of Coningsby in Lincolnshire, 8th June, 1716, with limitation to his daughter Margaret and her issue male; a singular limitation, considering he had sons by a former wife. He was farther advanced in the peerage as Earl of Coningsby, 9th May, 1719, with the same limitation. His Lordship was also constituted Lord Lieutenant of the county of Hereford; and died on the 1st of May, 1729, having married, first, Barbara, daughter of Ferdinando Georges, Esq., of Eye, in this county, by whom he had Thomas Coningsby, Esq., who, by his wife, a daughter of John Carr, Esq., of the county of Northumberland, was father of Richard, second Lord Coningsby, of Clanbrasil, who, dying without issue, on the 18th of December, 1729, that title became extinct. The Earl of Coningsby, by his second wife, Frances, daughter and co-heiress of Richard Jones, Earl of Ranelagh, had a son, Richard Coningsby, who died young; and two daughters, Margaret and Frances. The Lady Margaret, in 1716, was created Viscountess Coningsby, of Hampton Court, and succeeding her father, in 1729, became Countess of Coningsby, and married, in 1730, Sir Michael Newton, K.B., son of Sir John Newton, Bart., of Barrs Court, in Gloucestershire; but died in 1761, without issue.
The Earl of Coningsby was a nobleman of very eccentric character: for many years he continued to expend considerable sums of money in collecting documentary evidence illustrative of his Manorial Rights in this county, &c. which he afterwards printed and circulated. See Gentleman's Magazine for April, 1825; and for a list of the pictures formerly preserved here, chiefly family portraits, vide the same magazine for July, 1825. Amongst the curious portraits there mentioned, is one of Earl of Coningsby, great-grandfather of the present Earl of Essex, and his two daughters, Margaret and Frances, whole-lengths, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, painted in 1722. The Earl is depicted in a sitting posture, resting his right arm on the Holy Bible, grasping in his hand a roll, on which is inscribed,"“ Magna Charta, 9th Henry III. This is my birthright, purchased with the blood of my ancestors ;” bearing a strong testimony to the violence of his opinions. On the tablet against which the Earl leans, is represented the Coningsby Arms, of twelve quarterings, with the supporters and motto, Tacta Libertas. Underneath is the following: “ This first coat, (viz. quarterly, first and fourth, argent, two lions passant, gules; second and third, gules, three conies sejant argent,) was in this manner borne by John Lord Coningsby, Baron of Coningsby in Lincolnshire, who was slain in the Barons' wars, in the reign of King John; the which town and castle of Coningsby being then confiscated, is now in the possession of the Lord Sheffield, and this is approved by the heralds upon perusal of the evidence of Humphry Coningsby, of Nend Sollers, who is lineally descended from the said John.” The Tower of London is in the distance, to which the Earl was committed for some offence he gave in Parliament. The Lady Frances, daughter and heiress of Earl Coningsby, married Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, K.B., son of John Hanbury, Esq., of Pontypool, by whom she left two daughters, Frances and Charlotte, co-heiresses. Charlotte Hanbury Williams , married William Anne Holles Capel, fourth Earl of Essex, who died in 1799, and was succeeded in the title by his son, George Capel Coningsby, the present and fifth Earl of Essex, who inherited Hampton Court from his grandmother, and of whom this estate was purchased about the year 1817, by Richard Arkwright, Esq. the present proprietor.
tha heralds upon perusal of the eviucurie
THE SEAT OF
n this cof their ancest held lands tuntine
The family of Bodenham bear, as an armorial distinction, argent, a fess, between three chess rooks, or, and is of great antiquity in this county. The name was taken from a Parish in the Hundred of Broxash, which was in possession of their ancestors until the reign of Henry III. when it was seized by the crown. Some of the family, however, held lands there long after, for in the book of fees, temp. Ed. III. we find, that, in villa de Bodenham Rogeri, continentur duæ hidæ terræ, quam Rogerus de Bodenham tenet de Waltero de Baskerville, per servitium militari.
The first of the family returned in the Herald's visitations, is George Bodenham, of Bodenham, in the reign of Henry I. and in that of Edward I. we find William Bodenham, a descendant, Lord of Monington, and many other manors, as appear by inquisitions of that time.
But it was by a marriage with Isabella, daughter and heiress of Walter De la Barre, that the family obtained the largest acquisition of property. Walter De la Barre, of Barnes Court, in this county, left an only daughter, who became the second wife of Roger Bodenham, Esq. and brought with her great estates in Dewchurch, Killpeck, Tudington, Wormerton, &c. Rotherwas also formed part of the property of the De la Barres, and came to the family by this marriage. Walter De la Barre was in possession of it in the 32nd of Edward I. In Domesday, H. de Dindre, it is written, Retrowas, and was, at the time of that survey, the property of Gilbert, the son of Tyrold.
The hundred of Dindre was in the reign of Henry III. and since that time called Webtree; the manor of which, to the days of Queen Elizabeth, was held under the crown, by two parts of a Knight's fee of the honor of Clifford. The Rectory of Dinedor is valued in the king's books at 81. 9s. 7d. Rotherwas is a chapelry to it, dedicated to St. Mary.
The Bodenhams resided at Dewchurch for two generations, the estates of Monington, Waterston, &c. having gone to the descendants of Sir Roger's first wife, Margaret Payton. The first of the family who lived at Rotherwas was Roger Bodenham, Esq. who married Joan Brownick, about the time of Henry VI. Joan, one of the daughters of this marriage, married John, son of Walter Blount, Esq. of Grendon Court, whence the name was afterwards adopted by parts of the family. Amongst the gentry of this county, returned 12th of Henry VI. Roger Bodenham and John Heyward de Bodenham appear, and of the family several have also been Sheriffs.
In the first year of the reign of King James, a survey of the forests and chase of Bringewood, Mocktree, and Darvoll, with the manor of Buriton, in Herefordshire, was made by Roger Bodenham, a man of learning and celebrity, together with Sir C. Fox, Giles Foster, Robert Berry, Rowland Vaughan, and William Louton, by virtue of his Majesty's commission to them directed. Some time after this, Roger Bodenham went abroad, and spent much time in Spain. Two letters in his handwriting still exist; the first from St. Lucas, dated 22nd of June, 1581, addressed to Lord Burghley, on the subject of Portugal falling to the King of Spain, is to be seen in the Lansdown collection of MSS. No. 32: another to the Earl of Leicester, dated June 2nd, 1580, with intelligence about the preparations then making in Andalusia, is in the Cotton Library, Vesp. VI. 7. The visit of King James to Rotherwas, during one of his progresses, next became a subject of much interest to the family, and even produced a proverb, still used in the county; for on dismissing his numerous followers to the hospitable mansion, with the phrase, “ You know we cannot all live at Rotherwas,” the saying has ever since been proverbially used. The civil wars, during Charles I. were severely felt in this county, and were particularly harassing to this family, many of their estates having been utterly lost. In 1732 the present mansion was built. It is a plain substantial edifice, entered on both sides by a double flight of steps. Our view of the principal front is taken from the opposite side of the water, where the House is seen, embosomed in wood. A spacious Hall exhibits the family arms, with numerous quarterings, and several of the rooms, which are of good size and proportions, are wainscoted in handsome panels, of maple, yew, and oak. Rotherwas is three miles from the city of Hereford, and is surrounded by luxuriant meadows, and a most picturesque country. Its own woods and Dinedor-hill, once the site of a Roman camp, are objects of bold and enchanting scenery, while the celebrated river Wye, whose banks are lined with magnificent oaks, gives the whole a most perfect and sublime effect.