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family that gave two queens to England; his pedigree has been traced through almost all the old Cheshire families to the Norman earls and Saxon kings up to Charlemagne and King Arthur. Abney Hall was a big show place when Sir James built it for the entertainment of royalty and the many distinguished men who have visited it during the last forty years. It has lately been doubled in size, and space forbids any attempt to describe a tithe of the curiosities and valuable articles that are therein. For the musicians there are fiddles worth £1,000 apiece by Antonius Stradivarius, others by Guarnerius, with other most notable items, about forty altogether, including a sanctus seraphin, a harpsichord, and a spinet. The collection of grandfathers' clocks and of old oak chests, cabinets, dressers, chairs, and panelling is immense. There are some very finely carved bedsteads, and many ancient chests bearing dates of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The chairs and tables of Dr. Watts, Thackeray, Southey, Liverseege, Samuel Crompton, of Hall-i'th'-Wood, and others from Bramall, Irlam, Hollingworth, and other halls are curious and interesting. Specimens of armour abound, some of it having been thrown out of Ashbourne Church during "the restoration,” together with banners, handcuffs, and appurtenances of the manorial rights. There are also pictures of all kinds, some of them being well known, as for instance Cromwell dictating letters to Milton. Sir James Watts took Cromwell for his patron saint, and adopted a Latin motto which, with the arms of all the neighbouring boroughs and county families, is now emblazoned on the stained glass. The motto may be freely translated, “I'll trust you as far as I can see you."
Saturday, June 27th, 1896.
VISIT TO WHALLEY CHURCH AND ABBEY.
The Society visited Whalley Church and Abbey under the leadership of Mr. G. C. Yates. On arrival the members were received by the Rev. T. H. Gregory, M.A., vicar of Whalley. The Rev. J. R. Luck, S.J., pointed out some of the most interesting objects of antiquarian interest.
Eighteen of the splendidly-carved oak stalls, taken from the dismantled abbey, and placed in the choir of the church, impart to it a rich and antique appearance. There are monuments to the memory of the Whalleys, the Catterals, the Sherburnes, and the Braddylls; with two mural monuments, the first to the memory of the wife of Mr. James Taylor, and the second to the memory of Mr. Thomas Brooks. curious brass plate to the memory of Ralph and Elizabeth Catteral, their nine sons and eleven daughters, which was lost when Dr. Whitaker published his history of Whalley, was subsequently found by the doctor himself at Catteral Hall, near Garstang, the story being that it had been dug up out of the yard of Garstang Church. It is now replaced on a pillar in the Little Mitton or north chapel. The figures are represented kneeling, the sons all ranged behind the father, and the daughters behind the mother, and underneath is the inscription:
Of yr charyte pray for the sowllys of Raffe Catterall Esquyer and Elizabeth hys wyfe whyche bodies lyeth before this pellor and for ther chylder sowllys which Rafe decessyd the xxvi. day Deceber ye yere o Lord god mcccccxv. on whose sowllys Jhu have mercy. Amen.
The chantry at the head of the south aisle was appropriated to Whalley Abbey, and that on the north to the
manor of Little Mitton. At the entrance to this chapel, and close to the burial-place of the Paslews of Wiswall, is a massive stone assigned by Dr. Whitaker to the last unfortunate abbot, who was executed in Whalley for his share in the Pilgrimage of Grace, simply bearing a floriated cross with a chalice and the words "Jhu fili dei miserere mei." Near the font is a similar stone with the initials of Christopher Smith, the last prior of Whalley. In the Whalley chantry, called St. Mary's Chapel, is a piscina, an altar having been there. Members inspected the exterior of the building, the three ancient crosses, the stone coffin, and several fine old stones ornamented with floriated crosses, and then proceeded to Whalley Abbey, the residence of H. Stuttard, Esq., of Swinton, who offered every facility for the inspection of the abbey ruins. Here Mr. Yates gave an interesting account of the fortunes of the abbey.
A visit to the vicarage and grounds concluded the day's programme.
Wednesday, July 8th, 1896.
BRAMALL HALL, CHESHIRE.
Over fifty members visited Bramall Hall, under the leadership of Mr. George C. Yates, F.S.A. They were received by Mr. Charles Neville, who conducted his fellow-members round the exterior of the building, and pointed out all the more recent restorations of the building. They entered the house (which contains a valuable collection of old arms and armour, ancient vases, pictures, and other objects of antiquarian interest), and were conducted by their host through the principal rooms, a description of which was given en route.
Bramall, sometimes called "Bramhall," and in ancient days "Bromhale" or "Bromholl," is a large township about three miles south of Stockport, in the hundred of Macclesfield. The Bramhall family lived here as lords of the manor from very early times, and so far back as the reign of Henry II. the whole manor of Bromholl was confirmed to Matthew de Bromholl by Hamo de Massi, and in the time of Henry V. the property passed with an heiress to John Davenport, esquire, in whose family it remained until the sale some years ago. The hall is a fine building of timber and plaster, perhaps the most perfect piece of “black and white" in this neighbourhood. It stands remarkably well on the top of a gently rising grassy hill, below which the pleasant little Lady brook flows quietly along. The earliest parts of the building seem to have been erected about the time of King Edward IV., whose family cognisances are to be seen in some of the chapel windows. The entrance hall is striking, being fitted up with massive antique furniture of dark-coloured oak. The withdrawing room is nearly thirty-six feet long, wainscotted throughout, and almost square. The ceiling is remarkable for its pendant ornaments. The staircase leading to the drawing-room is of magnificent oak, and spiral in form. Among the bed chambers is conspicuous the "Paradise Chamber," the bed having been hung with elaborate tapestry, the work of Dame Dorothy Davenport, representing the history of the Fall of Man; it is commonly reported that the work occupied about four years, having been begun in 1610 and completed in 1614. The banqueting-room is a large and striking apartment, forty-two feet long and twentyone feet wide; the roof is of wood, the interspaces of the beams being enriched with quatrefoils; the walls are of plaster and oak in panels. At one end of the room
stands a massive oak sideboard, elaborately carved. The chapel, which occupies the south-east angle of the building, is supposed to have been built about the time of Richard III. It was dismantled at the sale of the contents of the hall some years ago. The present owner intends to restore it. Another noteworthy feature in old Bramall is the hatch door which communicates between the great dining-hall and a passage and doorway where the poor used to assemble for relief. The door itself, which is a particularly heavy and massive one, was seldom opened, but the broken victuals from the high table of the squire were handed through a smaller door, let into a panel of the larger one, and so reached the expectant hands of the tenantry or wayfaring men without. There are very few of these hatches now to be seen anywhere, but we are told there is one in Chester Castle, and something of the same nature is still in use in Oxford.
Before leaving, Mr. J. Holme Nicholson, M.A., proposed, and Mr. J. D. Andrew seconded, a vote of thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Neville for their hospitality.
Saturday, July 18th, 1896.
VISIT TO HAWARDEN.
Over forty members visited Hawarden, under the the leadership of Mr. G. C. Yates, F.S.A. The park and woods at Hawarden consist of about seven hundred acres. The size of many of the trees is very noticeable. One is an oak, measuring about seventeen feet in circumference. A beautiful specimen of the feathery beech, Mr. Gladstone's favourite tree, stands a short distance outside the railing adjoining the moat of the ancient castle. This tree