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Critchill House, Dorsetshire ;
THE SEAT OF
HENRY CHARLES STURT, ESQ.
CRITCHILL HOUSE is situated in a Park well wooded, about a mile on the right of the road from Salisbury to Winborne, from which latter place it is distant seven miles. The Mansion is an ancient residence of the family of Napier, and was probably built by Sir Nathaniel Napier, Knt., the father of Sir Gerard Napier, who was created a baronet, June 25, 1641 ; being remarkable for his loyalty to King Charles I., in whose service he expended vast sums; notwithstanding which, by his prudence in the management of his estates, he considerably augmented them, and purchased several manors and much land in this county.
In 1665, at the time the plague raged in London, the King resided at Salisbury, and his majesty, together with the Queen and the whole court, on one occasion dined with Sir Gerard Napier at Critchill House. He died in 1673, and was succeeded in his title and estate by his son, Sir Nathaniel Napier, who nearly re-edified the house, and laid out the gardens according to the prevailing taste at that period. He constantly resided here till 1698, when he, with his Lady, made a tour of France and Italy, of which he wrote a journal containing a particular description of Rome, Naples, and all the principal cities of Italy. He at a subsequent period made a tour to Holland and Germany, and returned to his seat in 1707. Sir Nathaniel Napier was a gay, ingenious gentleman, well versed in several languages, and was perfectly conversant with the sciences of architecture and painting; he left behind him several of his own drawings, besides many others of great value, which he had collected in his travels. He died at Critchill House in 1708, æt. 72, and lies buried under a marble monument, in the middle aisle of the Church of Mintern Magna, where is a long inscription to the memory of his ancestors. Sir Nathaniel Napier, his only surviving son, who represented Dorchester in Parliament during the reigns of King William and Queen Anne, married, secondly, Catharine, daughter of William Lord Allington, of Wymondley, in Hertfordshire, and co-heir to her uncle Hildebrand Lord Allington, of Killard, in Ireland, by whom he had several children : his daughter, Diana, who became at length his heir, married Humphrey Sturt, Esq., of Horton, the adjoining parish to More Critchill, in Dorsetshire. Humphrey Sturt, Esq., died in 1740, and left one son, Humphrey Sturt, Esq., who succeeded Sir Gerard Napier, the last male heir of that family, in the Estates and Mansion; he was five times returned member of Parliament for the county of Dorset, and died in 1786, leaving Charles Sturt, Esq., his heir.
This gentleman exemplified great personal courage and fortitude in many instances, and, in more than one, at the imminent hazard of his own life. In February, 1799, by his intrepidity, he saved the lives of four sailors, who were shipwrecked near his seat at Brownsea Castle ; and was himself saved from drowning, in September, 1800, by four sailors, when he drifted to sea in a small boat belonging to his cutter.
On the north side of the Mansion are the stable and offices, which form a distinct building, and enclose an open area. Immediately in front of the House is a large sheet of water, from the opposite banks of which the two principal fronts of the Mansion, as shewn in our View, are seen to great advantage; on the west front is a corridor with Ionic columns, which is surmounted by pilasters and a pediment. The lawn, with the shrubberies by which it is environed, exhibits the utmost taste in the disposition : so desirable is the situation deemed, that it was at two different periods occupied by his majesty George the Fourth, when Prince of Wales.
The late Charles Sturt, Esq., died at Brownsea Castle, May 12, 1812, and was succeeded by the present proprietor.
Melbury. Dorsetshire ;
THE SEAT OF THE
EARL OF ILCHESTER.
This Seat, one of the finest in the county of Dorset, was formerly the Mansion-House of the Sampfords, anciently Lords of the Manor of Melbury, and was enlarged by Sir Giles Strangways the elder, in the reign of Henry VII., or early ir: that of Henry VIII. Sir Giles, according to Leland, “avaunced the inner part of the house with a lofty and fresche tower," and is said to have used in its erection three thousand load of freestone, brought from Hampden quarry, nine miles distant. Thomas Strangways, senior, who died in 1713, rebuilt part of the Mansion, but left the Tower and much of the old part of the House untouched.
The House, which is 100 feet square, stands on a rising ground, and fronts east, north, and south. The annexed Plate shews the south front; and also includes the old tower, as seen in the northwest corner of the building. The fronts are adorned with pilasters of the Corinthian order. Over the door, on the east side, is a shield, on which is Strangways impaling Ridout. The carriage front is on the north side of the house. The Hall is filled with family portraits, and the apartments are both spacious and convenient, many of which command a beautiful view of the fine sheet of water shown in the Plate, and of the surrounding country. Amongst a great variety of curiosities, is preserved an original Letter in the hand-writing of Oliver Cromwell, of which the following is a literal copy :-
'haste these. I desire you to be with all my troopes and Collonell Ffines his troopes alsoe, at Wilton at a Renderous by break of day to morrow morneing, for ice heare the enemy has a designe upon our quarters to morrow.--morning.
Sr I am
Yr Cozen & Serrant
Oliver Cromwell. • The Park and Grounds of Melbury are extremely picturesque, affording, in succession, hill and dale, verdant pastures, and the different species of forest trees. At a short distance rises Bubdown Hill, from whose summit an extensive view of the surrounding country is presented to the eye. The town of Shaftesbury, Glastonbury Torr, and Alfred's Tower at Stourhead, together with the Mendip and Quantock hills, may be seen from thence.
The ancient Lords of this place were the Sampfords, from whom it descended, through females, to the Matraverses and Staffords, whose heiress married Thomas Strangways, one of the family of that name in Lancashire, and grandfather to Sir Giles the elder, before mentioned.
Henry Stephen Fox Strangways, Earl of Ilchester, Lord Ilchester, Baron of Woodford Strangways, in the county of Dorset, and Lord Ilchester and Stavordale, Baron of Redlynch, in the county of Somerset, was born, February, 1787, and succeeded his father, Henry Thomas, the late Earl, in September, 1802. His lordship married, in 1812, Caroline Leonora, daughter of the Right Hon. and Right Rev. Lord G. Murray, late Bishop of St. David's, by whom he has issue. Lord Stavordale, the Earl's eldest son, born in 1816, is his heir.
Sir Stephen Fox, the ancestor of the Earls of Ilchester, is famous in the annals of his country for his steady attachment to King Charles II., during that monarch's exile : and also as the projector of Chelsea Hospital. His two sons, by his second marriage, were both advanced to the dignity of the peerage; the elder was created Earl of Ilchester ; the younger, Baron Holland. Stephen, first Earl of Ilchester, married, in 1726, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Strangways Horner, Esq., by Susanna Strangways, one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Thomas Strangways, of Melbury, in the county of Dorset, Esq., who, on the death of her sister Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton, became the sole heiress of that ancient family. Motto: Faire sans dire.