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by water. The outside of the building is in general very entire. It is situate about two hundred yards from the River Derwent, and seems to have been a very fine place. The tenant who inhabits it, with his family, lives in the offices below, which have the Percy, Lucy, Brabant, and Poynings arms stained on some of the windows; and all the ceilings are ornamented. From thence you ascend into a little room, which has abundance of odd carving about, and which leads to the hall. This is a very large and lofty room. The ceiling is carved, and from thence, about two feet deep, a line of coats of arms and other decorations, painted, carved, and gilt, go quite round the room. At each corner are some things in a sort of a semi-circular shape, which project into the room; they reach from the floor to the top, and are made of carved oak, and within each of them is a little staircase. There is also a small and very ordinary chapel, in which there is nothing remarkable, but Hotspur's motto, Esperance, which is to be seen on that ceiling and, indeed, all over the castle. There are two other large rooms still entire, finished in the same taste as the hall, but not so richly. From the leads there is a fine view over the adjacent country, which is well wooded, and the river.” (Annals of the House of Percy, ii, 522-3.)


In the palmy days of Wressle Castle, heraldry helped considerably in the decoration of this home of the Percies. Looking at the ruins of the castle to-day, there is no trace of heraldic decoration anywhere. What we know of the heraldry is preserved in a small MS. book, apparently written and illustrated by “Mr. Bell, the architect, imployed in restoring of Alnwick Castle, 1765."1 He gives sketches of coats of arms and various devices of the Percy family and its connections ; he also gives, in some cases, the position in which the devices were placed. Mr. Bell does not give the position for a shield divided quarterly of five : (I) Quarterly, I and 4, a lion rampant (PERCY) : 2 and 3, three lucies hauriant (Lucy). (2) Five fusils in fess (PERCY ; ancient). (3) Barry of six, over all a bendlet (POYNINGS). (4) Three lions passant, in pale, over all a bendlet (Fitz PAINE); and (5) three piles in point (BRYAN).

The rampant lion of the Percy coat is supposed to be in some way derived from the arms of Brabant (sable, a lion

1 This book is now in the library of the Yorkshire Archæological Society.

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rampant gold), or from the arms of Louvaine (gold, a lion rampant azure). The arms of Lucy were introduced into the Percy shield when Henry Percy (the first of his family to be Earl of Northumberland) married, for his second wife, “Maud, daughter of Thomas, Lord Lucy, sister and heir of Anthony, Lord Lucy and Baron of Cockermouth, widow of Gilbert Umfravile, Earl of Angus, who, when she saw that she should die without issue, gave to Earl Henry, her husband, the castle and honour of Cockermouth, with many manors in Copeland and Westmorland, with condition that his issue should bear her arms of the Lucies quartered with their own of the Percies."1

The ancient arms of Percy (azure, five fusils in fess, gold) were dropped in favour of the blue lion on a gold shield, about the beginning of the fourteenth century. In the roll of Henry III the arms of Percy are given as azure, a fess engrailed or, for HENRY DE PERCY. In the roll of Edward II, Sire Henri de Percy bears or, a lion rampant azure ; and the rolls of Edward III and Edward IV give the same gold shield, with blue lion, for PERCY.

The arms of Poynings (barry of six gold and vert, a bendlet gules). Fitz Paine (gules, three lions passant in pale silver, over all a bendlet azure), and Bryan (gold, three piles in point azure) were added to the Percy coat on the marriage of Henry Percy (the third of this family to be Earl of Northumberland) with Eleanor, daughter and heir of Richard, Lord of Poynings, Brian, and Fitz Paine. She died II Nov., 12 Edward IV (1472).

This coat of arms would seem to have been in some place where there were other devices. Under Bell's sketch of this quarterly coat, and below it on the same page, is another shield. He writes underneath

The opposite side the same." This device is a blue lion passant, crowned gold, on shield, and above the shield is a bag-piper sitting.

A blue lion passant crowned is given as a badge of Percy in a MS. survey of the estate of the Earl of Northumberland, in 1586 (quoted by Willement). A blue lion on a red shield is not good blazonry, and Bell has in the margin: “ Azure Lyon passant wth coronet or, the Lyon's head." This marginal note does not help the blazonry much.

The position of another device is not given, namely, a key carved in wood. A note by Bell says :

A note by Bell says: “ Thomas Percy, Earl

it :

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of Worcester, bore this as one of his insignia as Ld Steward of the Household of K. Richd II.” In the


Room at Wressel Castle " was a shield, quarterly, I and 4 (PERCY); 2 and 3 (Lucy); above the shield a helm with bars and crest of a black boar passant and chained, being a device of Lucy. With this shield are the devices of fish tails on the dexter side and a ragged staff on the sinister. Probably the fish tails were Lucy tails, and the ragged staff (a Warwick badge) assumed by the Percies, after the earldom was restored to them by Edward VI. The title having been enjoyed for a short time by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. This would make the heraldic decoration in part at least as late as the middle of the sixteenth century.

I presume, as no other apartment is mentioned with the following devices, that we are still in the dining room. “Near Midd of North wall” was a shield divided per pale, gules and azure, a boar passant sable, crowned and chained, gold. Above the shield is a round target, with two swords in saltire behind. The device of a black boar was derived by the Percies from the Lucy family, who still bear a boar's head for a crest.

Also“ near Midd of North wall ” are the arms of Percy (ancient), surmounted by a helm with bars, thereon a cap of dignity with the blue lion crest of Percy. Beneath the shield are two halberts in saltire. "At the west end of the north wall ” was the device of a sable horn, garnished gold, in woodwork. This device was derived from the Bryan family, who used it as a badge. “Towards the East end of the North wall, next but one to it," was the device of the crowned key, and gold coronet alone. This device was a badge of the Poynings, and from them the Percies, no doubt, derived it.

At the No. (North ?) end of the West wall," in wood, were the arms of Poynings, surrounded by the Garter. This coat of arms would be probably that of Sir Edward Poynings, who became Knight of the Garter in 1491, and died in 1521. Bell, in his sketch, gives the tinctures of this shield as barry of six, argent and sable, over all a bendlet gules. Blazoned thus we have the arms of Fincham. I find no Knight of the Garter of this name, nor can I account for the arms of Fincham at Wressle. I am of opinion that when Bell copied the arms the colours were probably faded and indistinct.

At the “end of the North wall” was a shield party per pale gules and azure, a unicorn passant sable horned, crowned and chained gold. This device was a badge of the Poynings family. At one time the Percy supporters were a crowned lion and a unicorn ducally collared and chained.

“At the South end of the West wall " the black horn garnished gold occurred again.

“Adjoining on the above to ye W. of it were the arms of Lucy, with the Lucy crest, a demi boar sable, chained gold. At the east end next the north were the arms of Bryan with helm and cap of dignity. No object appears on the cap, but possibly the crest of Bryan was displayed, which was a bugle horn or garnished sable on a cap gules turned up ermine. “South of the above ” was a shield party per pale gules and azure, a lion passant azure crowned gold. The badge or crest of Percy. More to the south "

were the

arms of Percy (ancient), and a a curious shield, perhaps representing Bryan quartering Poynings; the first and fourth quarters bore three piles in point, the second and third barry of six, and over the whole shield a bendlet, gold. The crest on a helm is a lion couchant azure, crowned or, standing on

a cap. At the “East end of South side" is a shield quarterly, I and

” 4, PERCY (ancient); 2 and 3, BRYAN; and a shield, presumably of Poynings, although the colours are given as gold and blue for the bars, and the bendlet gules.

Above are

a helm and crest of a dragon's head and neck argent. Bell says: “ This is the scutcheon and crest of Poynings.” There are displayed, too, with these arms the silver crescent and double fetterlock. The crescent was divided palewise between the horns, and coloured red and blue. These were the badges of the Percy family. Many suggestions have been made to explain these devices, but none seem very satisfactory.

In Churchill's Divi Britanici, fol. 1675, p. 257, is the following :-" In the tripartite league between

tripartite league between Owen Glendower, Percy, and Mortimer against Henry IV, the countries from Trent northward were the lot of the Percies ; in memory whereof (the same being in the geographical form of a half moon) they have since given the crescent for their cognizance."

Willement, in his MS. work on badges, says the Percies in early days kept three minstrels amongst their retainers, all of whom wore the badge of the silver crescent. With this device some heralds couple the Percy motto, Esperance en Dieu, and think that it has reference to a knightly order, namely, the Knights of the Order of Bourbon (1360), who had for their


badge a virgin standing on the moon, with the word, Esperance. Esperance was the title of the Pursuivant of the Earls of Northumberland, in which office there was a succession. (MS. Ashmole, 1121).

At other times we find the motto, Esperance ma comfort. In a window of Beverley Minster was a kneeling figure with the word Esperance and the arms of Percy, and this inscription :

Orate pro animabus Henrici quarti Comitis Northumbriæ et domini de Poynings, et Matildis uxoris (ejus), filie Willi Herberti Comitis Pemb: etc.," and under the lady's picture : comforte(Edmondson, Complete Body, i, 128). “In the Great Room at Wressell Castle an ornament over one of the doors ” was a row of crescents linked together by their horns. In this

ppear three other ornaments, probably not heraldic. These are in the form of ovals, one is charged with a sort of floral design, another has a tower within foliage (?), and a third bears a red heart within foliage which springs from it.

In the chapel, “in the body of the Church," was Percy (ancient), and in the choir window a shield bearing silver two chevrons gules, impaling gules a saltire silver, for “NEVILLE, Earl of Westmorland.” The dexter of these coats was borne by a family of Grey. Alice, second daughter of Ralph, ist Earl of Westmorland, married Sir Thomas Grey, of Heton, for her first husband, and Eleanor, second daughter of Henry, 5th Earl of Westmorland, married Sir Thomas Grey, of Chillingham, but both of these families of Grey bore a lion rampant on their shield.


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The church consists at present of an apsidal chancel, a short rectangular space for the quire west of the apse, a nave of two bays with north and south aisles, a western tower, a south porch. There is a vestry at the east end of the north aisle, adjoining the north side of the quire.

There are remains at the south-west corner of the nave of the quoins of an aisleless nave, to which aisles were added in the later part of the twelfth century. Apart from this, the earliest portion of the existing church is the quire and the western portion of the apse. At the time of the restoration of the



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