« PreviousContinue »
The view of the castle given in fig. 8 is taken from the north-northwest in order to show the nab end of the promontory on which once stood the rectangular keep of the ancient fortress of the Bruces. One of the most interesting portions of the modern residence is the chapel-like part, running east and west, the position and dimensions of which may possibly be intended to represent the one-time existence on this spot of a chapel which, in mediæval times, would certainly appear to have been of note for its surpassing beauty. One of the windows is seventeenth century in date with original mullions, and contains some late seventeenth century stained glass, bearing the arms of Trotter impaled with Witham, Pudsey, Forcer, Cholmley, Boyce, and Lowther.
Below the castle is a deep, heavily-wooden glen, which winds down to the sea with the pretty little watering place of Saltburn-by-the-Sea on its banks.
THIRSK. History.--At the time of the Survey,” Hugh Fitz-Baldric3 was the principal landowner in Thirsk, where he held 12 carucates of land, the king holding 8 carucates. After Hugh's death, c. 1190, Thirsk would appear to have passed to that powerful baron, Robert de Stuteville, who married Ernburga, Hugh Fitz-Baldrick's daughter. Stuteville may have erected the castle c, 1092,4 but after the battle of Tinchebrai, in which he was captured (see Buttercrambe), Henry I bestowed this portion of his vast estates upon Nigel d'Albini, a cousin on the mother's side to Robert de Mowbray.5 Nigel had greatly distinguished himself at the ruthless battle of Tinchebrai, where he is said to have personally captured the unfortunate Duke Robert. He died in 1136.
1 The writer desires to thank the owner of the castle, Mr. W. H. A. Wharton, who is a life member of this Society, for showing him all round the building and for allowing him to examine the working drawings used at the erection of the existing structure-these, however, throw no light upon the dimensions and arrangements of the ancient structure.
2 D.B., fo. 300b, col. 2; fo. 327a,
4 The first mention of the castle known to the writer occurs in the Pipe Rolls, 35 Hen. I (Rec. Com.), 138.
5 The story of how Mowbray was besieged by the Red King in his castle of Bamborough (Ordericus Vit., viii, 23); how he left the fortress in the middle of the night, and was pursued by part of the garrison of the siege castle; how he was captured and brought as a prisoner before the walls, and how, in order to save her husband's eyes, his wife surrendered the stronghold, is a story too well known to bear repetition. With that brutality so characteristic of the age, the Earl's eyes were put out, and he was imprisoned for many years in the royal stronghold of Windsor. Re: leased by Henry I, he became a monk at St. Alban's, where he died in 1106.
3 Hugh Fitz-Baldric was, in 1069, appointed Sheriff of Yorkshire. He seems to have died whilst the Summary of the Domesday Book was being completed (Wm. Farrer, V.C.H. of Yorks., vol. ii, p. 178). He gave lands in Hutton Le Hole, Normanby, and Kirkby Misperton to the abbey of St. Mary, York.
His widow, Gundreda, survived him, and the pretty story of how she sheltered at Thirsk Castle the homeless monks of Calder is narrated in Dugdale's Mon. Angl.1 Her son, Roger, who assumed the surname of Mowbray, fought at the battle of the Standard, and was the founder of the monastic houses of Byland and Newburgh. His descendants bore the arms : “Gules, a lion rampant argent." Of all the North Riding barons of his day Mowbray would appear to have been the most attractive. He wins our interest from the first as the boy-hero of the battle of the Standard, he is not only famous for his unfailing generosity to monastic houses, but as a distinguished
1 In 1134 (Dugdale's Mon. Angl., v, 349, No. 8) Gerald, monk of Furness, with 12 companions, founded the Abbey of Calder, in Cumberland, but three years later the house was plundered and burnt by the Scots. The monks returned to Furness, but the Abbot refused to house them, consequently with only one wagon and eight oxen they set out to interview Thurstan, archbishop of York. As they were painfully making their way to York, they were met by Gundreda's steward, who suggested that they should call at Thirsk Castle. Gundreda, from an upper window of the fortress, watched the monks approach, and pleased by their demeanour, and pitying their miserable condition, sheltered them in the castle for a little time, finally committing them to the care of her relative, Robert d'Alneto, the hermit of Hode or Hood Grange. Here they lived until, a year or two later, Roger de Mowbray, the young heir, came of age. Roger gave them his cow-pasture at Cambe, with all the lands of Wilden, Scakilden, and Erghum, and at Hood they erected a timber church and house. For four years the community resided there, and then, finding the place unsuitable, they removed to Old Byland, where they built a small cell on the banks of the Rye. Mowbray again assisting them. Here, however, they found themselves too near the Abbey of Rievaulx, for “ at every hour of the day and night, the one convent could hear the bells of the other," " quod non decebat, nec diu potuit aliqualiter sustineri.” Again they appealed to the long-sufiering Mowbray, who at once gave them two carucates of land at Oldstead, near Coxwold, together with the churches of Thirsk. Hovingham, and Kirkby Moorside, and at Stocking they erected a small 'stone church, a cloister and offices. Here they abode for thirty years, and finally, in 1177, they left the place and erected a new house at Byland, ubi, Domino annuente, fæliciter manebunt in æternum." What particularly strikes one in the interesting history of the wander
ings of this community is the unfailing kindness and generosity of Roger de Mowbray. In an earlier portion of this article we have commented unfavourably on the character of the average Norman
But it is pleasant to realise that they were not all men of the type of Robert Belêsme or Hugh d’Avranches, and it is with a sense of relief that we turn from such to study the characters of say William de Warrenne, Robert de Brus, Walter l'Espec, and Roger de Mowbray, men who combined the qualities of a first-class soldier and an able administrator with that gentleness and courtesy which one has come to regard more as an attribute of the fourteenth than of the twelfth century. In 1145 (Dugdale, Mon. Ang!., vi, 317) Mowbray founded the Priory of Newburgh, to which he gave, among other donations, the church of St. Mary at Hood-the original Yorkshire home of the monks of Byland (ibid., 318, No. 1), which eventually became a cell to Newburgh. Several of these gifts were made by Roger for the souls of his father and mother, Nigel and Gundreda, for his own soul, and for that of Adeliz, his wife (ibid., 320, No. 5). The gifts were confirmed by his son, Nigel (ibid., vi, 318), and by his grandson, William. The famous Roger de Mowbray is said (ibid., vi, 320) to have been interred at Byland, “ in muro capituli ex parte australi juxta matrem suam Gundredam.” For some unaccountable reason his putative bones were dug up in 1819 by Mr. Martin Stapylton, who is said to have taken them away in a basket hidden under the box-seat of his carriage, and to have buried them in the churchyard at Myton. It is also said that the bones were subsequently taken back and reinterred in the Chapter House at Byland, but on this point there would appear to be a good deal of doubt (The Antiquary', xxiv, p. 186). It is probable, however, that Mowbray died in the Holy Land, and that the bones taken from Byland were not those of the famous baron.
warrior and Crusader. In 1174 on his return from the Holy Land, when apparently about 55 years of age, he joined in the attempt made by Prince Henry to seize his father's crown, and aided the Scottish king in his invasion of the North of England. Geoffrey Plantagenet, bishop-elect of Lincoln—an illegitimate son of Henry II—and Roger de Pont l'Evêque, archbishop of York, laid siege to and captured Mowbray's castle of Malzeard ; but the attempt by the royal forces to take Thirsk Castle was unsuccessful. The siege, however, was a determined one, and Mowbray sent messengers to William the Lion asking him to come to his relief. The capture at Alnwick of the Scottish king by Ralph de Glanville, the justiciar, and by Bernard de Balliol, was a death-blow to the success of the revolt, and Mowbray made submission to Henry II at Northampton. His voluntary surrender of Thirsk Castle may have been the means of gaining him the pardon he received. On 10 August, 1175, King William the Lion did homage to Henry II at York, and placed his helmet, spear, and saddle upon the High Altar of the Minster in token of his submission to his over-lord, the King of England. In the following year the great timber castle of Thirsk, which had been Mowbray's favourite residence, was dismantled and destroyed by order of Henry II. Camden, writing in 1582, says Thirsk" had formerly a very strong castle," but adds that he "could see nothing of it besides the rampire."
Description.—Thirsk is a pleasant but sleepy old town left stranded high and dry, as it were, by the railway; and from the few trains which, during the day, deign to stop at the distant station, an incongruous-looking motor 'bus, or a pre historic and tyreless fly, conveys the long-suffering traveller to the town. Nor does the high road condescend to more than a nodding acquaintance with the slumbering town, for one merely catches a distant glimpse of the tower of the beautiful Perpendicular church as one motors from the north towards York. Possibly not one in a thousand who actually pass through the town has seen the scanty remains of the home of the Lady Gundreda and of the famous Roger de Mowbray, of the once great castle of the historic house who give their name to the pleasant vale of Mowbray. The motte, which appears to have been a small one-probably merely used as a citadel--has been lowered and partially levelled, and is now crowned by a modern house dignified by the name of "Castle Villa." The ditches and ramparts of the oblong bailey, still known as
“Castle Garth,” may be traced in part, but are much mutilated. 1 The fortress would never appear to have developed any works in masonry.?
TOPCLIFFE, MAIDEN BOWER (fig. 6.) History.-- The history of this, in the opinion of the writer, the most typical of the Norman earth-and-timber castles of the North Riding, is well authenticated. It was erected, very soon after 1071, by William de Percy, and is of great interest as the original English home of one of the most historic of our great feudal houses. It is a significant fact that at the time of the Survey the manor on which it stood was worth more than it had been in the time of the Confessor.4 By his wife, Emma de Port, William de Percy had issue four sons, Alan (obiit 1131), afterwards the second feudal baron, Walter, Richard, and William. Alan) was succeeded by his son, William, third feudal baron, who was one of the principal commanders at the battle of the Standard, and is said to have borne the arms " Azure, five fusils in fess or.” As he left no male issue, his daughter and heiress, Agnes, carried the barony and estates
Thirsk Castle was probably a burgus fortress, as were Skelton and Whorlton. A local tradition exists that its defences extended from the outer ward of the fortress, still called Castle Yard, eastward towards Kirk Gate, including the present market place. The borough of Thirsk is mentioned in Yorkshire Inquisitions, iii, 78.
2 The Mowbrays continued to reside at Thirsk after the destruction of the castle. The site of their manor house, Woodhill, formerly la Wodehall, is marked by a moateci enclosure, now overgrown with trees, less than a mile north of the church (Kirkby's Inquest, p. 104)
Archbishop Wickwane stayed here September 27, 1282, presumably as a guest of Roger Mowbray, who died about 1297 (Wickwane's Register, p. 347).
3 William de Percy, the founder of Topcliffe Castle, came from Perci, in the departement of La Manche, where he was a feudatory of the Paynels. He did not fight at Hastings, but accompanied his friend, Hugh d'Avranches, Earl of Chester, to England in 1067 (Dugdale, i, 409), and became his chief Yorkshire feudatory. He was with the king in his expedition to Scotland in August, 1072, and, after his return, superintended the rebuilding of York Castle in conjunction with Hugh FitzBaldric, the sheriff. He was subse. quently appointed Governor of the city of York. He joined the first Crusade under Robert, Duke of Normandy, in
1096, and died at Monsgaudium, near Jerusalem, where he was buried. His heart, however, was brought back to England, and buried in Whitby Abbey, which he had refounded. His widow, Emma de Port, survived him for some six years, and was interred in the Abbey of Whitby.
4 D.B. fo. 323a, col. 2. In Topeclive (Topcliffe) and Crecala (Crakehill), Deltune (Dalton), Estauesbi (Asenby), and Schripetune (Skipton - on - Swale), Bernulf had 26 carucates of land for geld, where 15 ploughs may be. Now William (de Percy) has three ploughs there, and 35 villanes and 14 bordars with 13 ploughs there. A church (is) there (at Topcliffe), and two priests having one plough, and a mill of 5s. (annual value). T.R.E. [1; now (it is worth) roos.
Alan, under whom the Percy estates were considerably augmented (see Kilton), married Emma, daughter of Gilbert de Gant, a son of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, by Maud, sister of William the Conqueror. Gilbert de Gant was descended from Alfred the Great through that monarch's daughter, Elfthryth, wife of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, and her grand-daughter, I.eutgarde, who married Wichman, Count of the castle of Gand," from whom Gilbert was the sixth in male descent (A. E. Ellis, Yorks. Arch. Journal, iv, 230). The Gants bore the arms, Barry of six or and azure, a bend gules.”
to her husband, Joscelin of Loraine, who took the name of Percy, but retained his parental arms, “Or, a lion rampant azure," the famous blue lion of the Percies subsequently well known on many a stricken field.1 In 1174, during the Mowbray rebellion, the castle of “Toppecliva " was garrisoned for King Henry II by Geoffrey, bishop-elect of Lincoln, an illegitimate son of that king, who strengthened its timber defences. The payment for this work is entered in the Pipe Rolls, 21 Hen. II,8 where the use of the word “efforciamento ” shows clearly enough that it was simply a question of strengthening and not of rebuilding a then existing fortress. Topcliffe was probably the principal residence of the Percies until the acquisition, by purchase, early in the fourteenth century, of the Vesci castle of Alnwick, yet it never developed any works in masonry, and is one of several examples of early Norman timber castles, being occupied by an important baronial family down to a comparatively late date. 4
Description.—This well-preserved and interesting motte and bailey castle occupies the nab end of a low, natural ridge rising above low-lying and somewhat swampy ground between the river Swale on the south and the Cod Beck on the north, which streams effect a junction a short distance to the east of the fortress. The site is locally known as "Maiden Bower." There can be no doubt whatever that in mediæval times all the land between the two streams and around the ridge on which the fortress stood was a swamp, and that the castle
1 We are told (Sussex Arch. Soc., vi (1855)) that Joscelin de Alta Ripa, a nephew of Joscelin de Loraine, assumed the ancient arins of the Percies. The story about Joscelin of Loraine having been offered the choice of the name or the arms of Percy is doubtless merely a family tradition. The arms of Loraine differed materially from those of the Loraine Percies. See Round's Peerage und Family History, i, 42. From the notes by the Rev. C. V. Collier, F.S.A.. on the heraldry which once decorated Wressle, a late Percy castle, it would appear that the ancient Percy arms were retained by the Loraine-Percies until the beginning of the fourteenth century. “ In the roll of Henry III,” says Mr. Collier, the arms of Percy are given as azure, a fess engrailed or, for Henry de Percy.”
2 Benedict of Pe!crborough, Rolls Ser., i, 68. Geoffrey Plantagenet, an illegitimate son of Henry II, who appears to have been born about 1158, can have
been little more than a boy at this time, but he was of a very determined and resolute character, as his after life shows clearly enough. He took an active part in the suppression of the Mowbray rebellion, and, with the aid of Roger de Pont l'Evêque, archbishop of York, captured the Mowbray castle of Malzeard (Roger of Houeden, Chrort., Rolls Ser., ii, 58).
3 In operatione et efforciamento castelli de Toppecliva, £7 1os. 2d.
4 The house of Loraine-Percy became extinct, so far as the direct male line is concerned, on the death of Joscelyn Percy, with and last Earl of Northumberland, who died without male issue in 1670. His daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, married Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, whose son, Algernon, 7th Duke, had a daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, who married Sir Hugh Smithson. The latter was created Duke of Northumberland in 1766, and is the ancestor of the present Duke.