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But from some remnants of old law papers rescued, amongst others, from the mice of Kingston House, it is clear that part at least, and probably the whole, of the Manvers property at Bath, had belonged to the Halls of Bradford; and that it passed from the Halls to the Dukes of Kingston and thence to Lord Manvers, exactly in the same way as Kingston House and the other large property at Bradford.
In the following letter (written somewhat sentimentally for a matter of bargain and sale), one Patrick Sanders, M.D., applies to John Hall, Esq. of Bradford, for part of the Abbey House and Orchard, then in his possession.
“9, October, 1619. “The life of man which wanders through the body of earth until she hath finished her peregrinations, doth at last retire to the heart, that “primum vivens” and “ultimum moriens” (that liveth soonest and dieth latest). And so I toward the end of my days do desire to retire toward the same place where first I drew my breath. Having heard that some things there are in your possession which might happily fit me, I was the rather moved as well by reason of the situation as also in regard to that worth which I have heard often to be in yourself, from whom I am confident to receive all worthy and good conditions. Briefly, I have heard that the Abbey and the Abbey Orchard is to be sold, and some other things near the City in your power to grant. Because of my profession I desire to be in the house or part thereof, while Dr. Sherwood lives.”
To this touching appeal Mr. Hall appears to have consented, but in proceeding to gratify the medical gentleman with the coveted domicile near Dr. Sherwood, he found himself suddenly entangled in the intricacies of the law. For the next fragment (dated the following year) reveals a dispute about a certain way leading into the Abbey Orchard of St. Peter and St. Paul at Bath. The result of the dispute does not appear, and it is immaterial: enough remaining to show that Mr. Hall was possessor of part of the Abbey property. But as the papers contain some notices of the site of the Abbey, which may be interesting to those who know Bath, it is worth the while to preserve their substance. (1620). The dispute in the first instance lay between the Mayor and Corporation, Plaintiffs; and John Biggs, Defendant. The claim on the part of the City was, that by Letters Patent dated 12 July, 6 Edw. VI. 1552, they had, upon petition, obtained for the purpose of founding a Grammar School, a grant from the Crown of all the lands in the City and Suburbs, lately belonging to the Priory, including the contested way into the Orchard.
The case of the other party was, that long before the grant made to the Mayor and Corporation, Henry VIII., by Letters Patent dated 16 March 1543, had granted to Humfrey Coles for the sum of £962 17s. 9d., the site of the said Priory, with every thing within the circuit of the said Priory. That Humfrey Coles on 18 March in the same year, 1543, sold the Orchard to Matthew Colthurst and his heirs: that it descended to Edmund Colthurst, who 41 years afterwards, 1584, quietly enjoyed it as part of the Priory House. Edmund Colthurst mortgaged it to — Sherston for £330, and John Hall, Esq., redeemed it and had a conveyance. In 1611 Edmund Colthurst and Henry his son sold it to John Hall and his heirs. That the Prior had no other Orchard, and that this way was always accounted part of his house, the windows of which opened into it. This part of the house was pulled down by Colthurst, and the ground thrown into the Orchard. The foundations were still to be seen within it. “The prior did use to sit there and view all the Orchard.” A door opened from the Priory into it, and the way in was by a terrace made with arches of stone, 40 foot long. That the Orchard was bounded on the North side by the ancient wall of the Priory, 20 foot high and 160 paces long, reaching to the Avon: on the South, by a great ditch betwixt the meadows called “The Ham,” and the Orchard, and on the East by the River. That the Prior and the Patterches (the Monks) and ever since their time the Colthursts, have enjoyed the fishing and cut down the trees these 80 years. That the Priory is situate within the Corporation of St. Peter and St. Paul, and is a privileged place of itself, not within the Corporation of the City of Bath: and when the Mayor of Bath came into the Priory, the Maces were
put down and not carried before him. An exception was taken to the plaintiff's witnesses that they were Almsmen maintained by the Alms of the City.
Part of the Priory lay within the adjoining Parish of “St. James and Stall,” which Colthurst had mortgaged in 1589 to · Alexander Staples of Yate, Co. Gloucester.
Then follows another document showing how John Hall, of Bradford, was involved in a suit at law with the family of Staples.
These extracts, we conceive, indicate very plainly, that the present property of Lord Manvers round the Abbey Church of Bath, must have been derived from the same source and through the same channels, as Kingston House, viz., the Halls of Bradford.
J. E. J.
LINES, Suggested by the opening made in Silbury Hill, by the Archæological Institute
of Great Britain and Ireland, August 3rd, 1849.
Bones of our wild forefathers, O forgive,
Discovery of an Alurient Tumulus.
AT WINTERBOURNE-MONKTON. A curious, and possibly important discovery, exhibiting one of the ancient modes of sepulture in this country, has recently been made at Winterbourne-Monkton, about three hundred yards west of “Mill-barrow," and a mile and-a-half north of Avebury.
For many years a large flat Sarsen stone (partially seen above the surface of the ground) had been the cause of many ungentle maledictions from the various clod-hoppers, who, from time to time, have followed the plough’s-tail in this particular locality. Forbearance being worn out, Mr. Eyles, the present occupier of the land, by whose kindness and assistance we have been allowed to investigate the spot, sent several men to dig a large hole on one side of it,-in fact to bury it. In doing this they found the soil beneath the stone to be of a different quality from the natural subsoil ; which is here chalk marl. They consequently excavated part of the earth and found several human bones, when night put an end to their operations. This discovery led to a more minute investigation, the results of which are as follows :
The stone is lying flat, and is of considerable size, measuring nine feet four or five inches, each way, and varying from two feet six inches, to nearly four feet in thickness. By removing the soil beneath the stone we discovered a chamber dug in the natural chalk about seven or eight feet in diameter, somewhat circular in shape, and four feet in depth measuring from the under surface of the stone. This chamber was paved at the bottom with small irregularly shaped Sarsen stones, placed so closely that a pick' could with difficulty be inserted between them. On this pavement were four or five human skeletons, in a most confused state, covered with Sarsen stones, weighing from ten pounds to a half a cwt. each, and about twenty or thirty in number-over these again was a layer of mould up to the top stone which covered all. The skeletons did not seem to have been deposited in any particular direction. The skulls, thigh-bones, &c., were in such close proximity that one would suppose they were originally placed in a sitting posture, when the weight of stones and earth would naturally force them into the apparently confused state in which we found them. The jaw bones were in excellent preservation, as were also the teeth. One jaw evidently belonged to a child, as the second teeth are not cut, but remain still in the jaw.
The skulls are at present in the possession of Dr. Thurnam, of Devizes, who has taken considerable pains to join the different portions together, and whose researches may at some future day throw light on the date of these “old world's children.” It is remarkable that there is no trace of any barrow on the spot. The soil around the stone is of the same depth as in other parts of the field.
The stone was placed upon the bodies, earth, &c. This is plainly shown by its resting upon the soil itself with which the cavity was filled and not on the regular stratum of chalk around it, as would have been the case had the excavation been originally made under the stone and afterwards filled in, and what further tends to confirm this opinion is the fact that the hole was originally dug slightly too large for the stone to cover it in one particular place, on the north-east side, which was filled up with Sarsen stones to the level of the surface of the ground. In the soil above the bodies, were solid masses of a black unctuous kind of earth, very soft when first brought out, but becoming almost as hard as brick when exposed to the air for a day or two, and containing small pieces of flint and charcoal, but with these exceptions it yielded to the knife like soap, which it also very much resembled to the touch.
The only conjecture that can be formed of the age of these remains, is derived from the much worn surfaces of the teeth, indicating that the food of the individuals must have consisted mainly of grain and roots. This implies a very early though probably not a primeval antiquity.
No pottery, burnt or otherwise, nor any implements of war have been found to stamp the precise date of this extraordinary sepulchre, and it therefore remains, together with other numerous relics of the strange customs of our ancestors in this perplexing neighbourhood, to baffle the researches of the ablest archæologists.