Page images

Record Office, London, which no doubt embraces the Close Rolls and other records of this king. The fact of the king being at Chapel-en-le-Frith on September 26th is given on the authority of the Rev. Joseph Hunter.

It may not be out of place to continue this Iter a few more days, until the body of the queen arrived at Westminster Abbey:-November 29th to December 1st, three days, the king was possibly at Harby Manor House mourning the loss of his beloved queen. Hunter says: "He felt her death very deeply, and is said to have mourned for her all the rest of his life." It is certain that no instruments passed the Great Seal on those days. On December the 2nd and until the 4th he was at Lincoln, where her body was embalmed, and her internal parts buried beside the High Altar in that Cathedral; on the 5th he was at Brigg-Casterton, north of Stamford; for the three following days, viz. the 6th, 7th, and 8th, we lose all evidence, except that afforded by Camden, who said that an Eleanor cross formerly existed at Stamford, and the evidence furnished by the present existence of the beautiful cross at Geddington, Northamptonshire; on the 9th he was at the capital town of that county, near to which stands an Eleanor cross; for the following three days, viz. the 10th, 11th, and 12th, we have no evidence; on the 13th he was at St. Albans, and the following day at London, to which fact Charing Cross, the last historical resting-place of the body of this great queen owes its origin.

Having roughly traced the outline of this faded picture, I may be excused if I place it in a better light. With the view of qualifying myself for the task, I have, so to speak, walked in the footsteps of this royal pair, by visiting every place recorded in the above Iter, partly by excursions with the members of this Society, but mainly with my youngest son, or a chance companion. I was deeply interested in the old-world appearance of the way from Rufford Abbey to Laxton, as I drove through the unenclosed or common cornfield of the township with the old windmill in its centre, the church, recently shrunk in size, and the effigies of the old lords and ladies of

the manor, one of which (the only example now left in the county) is sculptured in oak. Some of these effigies date back as far as this royal visit. Not the least remarkable objects of interest are the earthworks or remains of the once great castle dominated by an enormous mound, the old lords of which are now represented by the Suttons, of Kelham, though the manor is the property of Earl Manvers. It is lamentable that we know so little of this great stronghold of the hereditary custodians of the king's forests in this and the adjoining western county. Our local historians, so far as my knowledge extends, are entirely silent on the subject.

Marnham and the passing shadow of its old-time great ferry, the boats of which now lie rotting on the river bank, is a point of interest. The manor house of the high town, the old house of the knightly Chaworths, was destroyed about 1794, and a farmhouse now occupies its site. The low town, or church town, with its flood banks and its miles of low meadows by the side of the river Trent, are not without interest, which the worthy Rev. E. Cunningham, M.A., vicar, can heighten by tales of his ministry during the prevalence of great floods. Beyond the river is a green lane lined by tall aspen trees, the old route of Edward I to South Clifton (where I had welcome bed and board at the Jacobean sign of the Red Lion). Harby, an old-time hamlet or chapel-of-ease ecclesiastically attached to Carlton, is a small place, the very last one would associate with a great historic event. The prime object of my visit was to discover the moated site of


2. Our county, down to the commencement of this century, possessed another example of mediæval effigies in wood. This was a figure reposing in a niche in the church of St. Mary, at Radcliffe-on-Trent. This the loyal inhabitants removed, when news of one of Wellington's victories in the Peninsula reached the village, and in their wild excitement dressed up to represent Napoleon Bonaparte and burnt as his effigy. (White's History, &c., 1864, p. 470.)

3. Formerly called Marnham-Chaworth. Thomas de Chaworth, 1249, had suit against Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, about toll of passengers crossing the ferry. In 1256 he had market and fair and free-warren granted here. In 1290 he was fined for obstructing the passage of boats on the river Trent by the construction of a weir. Before the Chaworths' time the monks of Worksop had grant of free passage over this ferry.

4. North Clifton is a mile distant. The inhabitants formerly had free passage across Marnham ferry, no doubt a compromise with the riparian owners, the Chaworths and the Bishop of Lincoln, for which privilege they paid every Christmas an acknowledgment of a prime loaf. This free passage no doubt extended to the Vicar of Clifton, who also had to entertain the ferryman and his dog at Christmas with good dinners from which the parson's dog was excluded. (White's History, &c., 1864, p. 415.)

the old manor house in which Queen Eleanor died, and to enquire if there was any truth in Gough's statement that an Eleanor cross formerly existed there. I found no evidence whatever of this author's assertion. (Gough's "Camden," vol. ii. p. 405.)

[ocr errors]

On the principle that you are never very far from an old manor site if you make for the village church, this became the place of my next errand. I found the church a smart new building, erected a few years ago mainly at the cost of the late Geo. Freeth, Esq., whose memory is preserved in the beautiful eastern window. The font is the only detail that is contemporary with Queen Eleanor. On the steps of the altar are the arms of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, and in the centre is a modern brass plate, on which is engraved : "Here reposed the body of Queen Eleanor." There is a modern statue of Queen Eleanor on the outer wall of the church, said to be carefully copied from her effigy in Westminster Abbey. The former chapel, rebuilt like a barn in 1820, was somewhat more to the south than the present fabric; but both sites and a large part of the cemetery are within the moated area of the old monor house. The north-west angle of the earthworks is discernible in the grass field to the west of the church; the other lines have long since been obliterated. The northern ditch evidently passed through the northern part of the churchyard, which, on digging graves, is found to be made-ground, with many loose stones therein. The Rev. A. Fraser, M.A., is the vicar. This gentleman, whose residence is hard by, and who takes deep interest in all that pertains to the great historic event of which I write, I found to be a brother of Alderman E. H. Fraser, who has so ably filled the civic chair of ancient Nottingham.

It was no doubt an accident that brought King Edward and Queen Eleanor to this little out-of-the-way village, and made them the guests of Richard de Weston, at that time the lord of the manor. The Westons were doubtless a Notts. family, taking their name from Weston, near Tuxford. Roger de Weston gave up to the monks of Blyth his claim to the church

there, and Sir Richard de Weston followed his example (Throsby's "Thoroton," III. 181). We know but little of this gentleman, and regret that he omitted to record the passing events of this royal visit in a diary. He had free warren granted over his lands at Harby on the 19 Ed. I., which agrees with the king's visit, for the 19th year of his reign commenced the day after his arrival at Harby. Possibly all that is known of Richard de Weston is the following: In the published Records of the City of Nottingham (Vol. I. p. 47) this name occurs as being borne by one of the coroners of the county prior to February, 1265. On July 24, 1286, the king, by letters patent, appointed him on a commission to deliver Nottingham gaol of Robert de Reseby, or Reresby, and Ralph de Butterley, who, as stated in a subsequent reference, were in custody there for trespass against the king's peace. Some short time after the death of the queen he was again appointed by the king one of the justices to deliver the gaol at Nottingham. This would refer to the county gaol. In this capacity he had before him the following batch of prisoners :-Richard de Thistleton, John Bozun, William de Sibethorp, Robert le Barker, of Retford, and Robert le Fevre, of Car Colston. We have no record of their crime, but it appears Richard de Weston committed an irregularity in connection with the record of the case, for which he was convicted at Nottingham. Here is the king's pardon for his crime 5:

“June 4, 1292. Pardon to Richard de Weston, lately one of the justices appointed to deliver the gaol at Nottingham, for the salvation of the soul of Eleanor, the late queen consort, who died in his house at Herthby (Harby), for making a false record on the delivery of (here follows the names of the above prisoners), whereof he was convicted before the king at Nottingham." (Calr. Pat. Rolls, Edw. I, 1292-1301, p. 19.)

Richard de Weston was evidently connected with the law, for on 6th April, 1295, he was, according to the Patent Rolls,

5. Edward I returned from France August, 1289, where he had been for three years. He met with complaints about wrongdoings on the part of his judges, most of whom he discharged. Fines, imprisonments, and disgracements followed. One of them took sanctuary and fled the realm. (Foss' Judges, Vol. III, pp. 38-40.)

appointed one of the attorneys for Nicholas de Alvedelegh, who was going to Wales on the king's service.

Returning to the king at Harby we find that immediately upon the death of the queen, the king despatched a letter to the Archbishop of York, in whose diocese the body of the queen lay, of which the following is the first published translation:—

"Edward, etc., to the venerable father in God. J. [John le Romaine, 1215-1295] by the same grace Archbishop of York (primate) of England, etc. Death's irreverence, which deigns to spare no person, has wounded our heart with a vehement grief, and has converted the harp of our house into sorrow. Adverse fortune has ravished from this world the Lady Eleanor, Queen of England, our consort, who has been joined to us from youthful days, on this Tuesday before the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 28th). Reflecting therefore that since, by the ordinance of the Most High, who is no respector of persons, no one on this earth is able to avoid walking that path, nothing could be more advisable than to provide for the quiet of her soul, and the souls of others piously sleeping, so that as they cannot merit of themselves, they may be helped by the pious prayers of others. We request and require your fatherhood that you will cause and procure, so far as you are able, the solemnization of masses for the health of her soul, with the office for the dead and with other helps of prayers and benefits, to be celebrated and done for her in your cathedral church [of York] and in the other churches and places of Religion of your diocese.

"Witness myself at Herdeby, November 28, in the nineteenth year of our reign." (Letters from the Northern Registers, p. 91.) Archbishop Romanus at once granted an indulgence of forty days throughout his diocese to those who would pray for the repose of the soul of the late queen. (Fasti Eboracum, p. 336.)

We have seen from the above pardon to Richard de Weston, the lord of Harby, how dear to the king was every association of this historic event in our county. If proof of this be wanting, we have the following:

"February 22, 1293. Pardon in honour of the Virgin and St.

6. Thirty-seven days later, viz., January 4, 1291. The king, then at Ashbridge, addressed a very earnest, pious, and pathetic letter to the Abbot of Clugni (to which Lenton Priory was attached) announcing the death of the queen and exhorting the prayers of himself and his order. It is probable that similar letters were addressed to other religious houses and to the bishops. (Archæologia, Vol. XIX, p. 176, where the Latin text is given.)

« PreviousContinue »