Near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.—Dent.
“Thy sun is set, thy battlements are fallen,
And sunk to ruin thy baronial hall,
Once far-famed Sudeley! Waves the cross no more
On thy reft towers; nor grins the leopard rude*
His feudal fierceness on thy tumbling roof.”
Sir Egerton Brydges.
“In old times,” says Camden, “certain noblemen here dwelt, and of it had their addition,
De Sudeley, descended of a right ancient English race, to wit, from Goda, King Ethelred’s daughter, whose son,
Ralf de Mederetinus, Earl of Hereford, begat Harold, Lord of Sudeley, whose progeny flourished here for a long time.”
“There had been a manor place at Sudeley,” observes Leland, in his “Itinerary,” “before the building of the castle, and the platte is yet seen in Sudeley Parke, where it stode.”
Walter de Maunt, Lord of Sudeley, married Goda, sister of King Edward the Confessor, and had,
Harold, surnamed de Sutlei, from the name of the place, who possessed it at the time of the Conquest in 106G. He was succeeded by
John, followed by
Raphe, who had two sons,
2. Raphe, the latter of whom,
Raphe, succeeded, and next after him,
Bartholomew (Sir) de Sudle, Sheriff of Herefordshire, and Governor of Hereford Castle, and a Justice of Assize. He married Joan, daughter of William de Beauchamp, of Elmley, and sister of William, first Earl of Warwick of that name, and left issue
Sir John de Sudeley, who was father of
Bartholomew de Sudeley, whose son
John, had issue
2. Joane, married Sir William Boteler, of Wemme, and had a son, Thomas, who inherited the lordship.
3. Margerie, married Sir Eobert Massy, Knight.
John, died without children, and was succeeded by the above-named
Thomas Boteler, (Sir) who was followed by his son,
Sir Raphe Boteler, created Baron of Sudeley, and some time Governor of Calais. This nobleman built the castle of Sudeley, from the spoils, it is said, he had acquired in the wars with France. It was a splendid structure, and is described by Fuller as “of subjects’ castles the most handsome habitation, and of subjects’ habitations the strongest castle.”
"At this splendid retirement it was that in the decline of life, and removed from courts and camps, the founder probably hoped tranquilly to pass the remainder of his days. But deceitful, often, is the smile of fortune, and liable to disappointment are human expectations. So fluctuating was the state of public affairs in his time, that the person and property of the subject were alike unsafe; and the favourite of one reign was generally obnoxious to the succeeding. On the fall of his unhappy royal master, he made an effort to have his attendance in parliament excused, on account of the infirmities of age; and his wishes were so far complied with, that she obtained letters patent from Edward IV., exempting him from that service during life. Yet this appearance of indulgence was not long continued; for, being suspected by the Yorkists of a strong attachment to the Lancastrian interest, he was apprehended at his castle, and conveyed prisoner to London, when, in order to avert worse consequences, he found himself compelled to sell both the manor of Sudeley and his princely mansion to the king.”
Soon afterwards Sudeley Castle was granted to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who exchanged it with the crown for Richmond Castle, in Yorkshire.
In the first year of the reign of Henry VII. it was bestowed on Jasper, Duke of Bedford, (younger son of Owen Tudor and his wife Catharine, widow of King Henry V. of England,) or, rather, was held by him for the owner; for, according to Leland, he “kept householde here” but it is not noticed among the estates of which he died seized. In the time of King Henry VIII., Leland wrote that “now it goeth to ruinne, more pittye.”
In the reign of Edward VI. it was granted with the manor to Sir Thomas Seymour, uncle of the king, and brother of the Protector Somerset, who was then made
Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and appointed Lord High Admiral. It was splendidly restored by him. He shortly afterwards married, in 1547, as her fourth husband, the Dowager Queen Catherine (Parr,) widow of King Henry the Eighth, she having been deeply attached, and nearly contracted to him before her almost compulsory marriage to the king.
While at Sudeley the Queen had under her charge the innocent and memorable Lady Jane Grey, whose untimely and sad fate need not be here recorded.
On the 13th. of June, 1548, the queen arrived at Sudeley for her confinement, and died on the 5th. of September, a week after the birth of a daughter named Mary. She was buried at Sudeley.
There is a curious M.S., discovered in the Herald’s office, entitled “A Boke of Buryalls of true noble persons.” It furnishes at full length an account of the ceremonies performed at the funeral of the queen; to wit,
“A Breviate of th’ entirement
of the lady Katheryn Parre
Quene Dowager late Wiefe
to Kinge Henry th’ eight
and after wiefe to Sr Thomas lord
Seymer of Sudeley and highe Admirall of Englond.”
The following is the inscription over the tomb:—
Here lyethe Quene
Kateryn Wife to Kyng
Henry the VIII. and
Last the Wife of Thomas
Lord of Sudeley, highe
Admyrall of Englond,
And vncle to Kyng
Edward the VI.
Among the documents printed in the Burghley Papers is the following statement of Lady Elizabeth Tyrwhitt, which seems to be the deposition of one of the ladies in waiting made before the Privy Council when the bill of attainder was preparing against Seymour.
“A too dayes afor the deth of the Quen, at my cumyng to har in the mornyng, she askyd me where I had been so long, and sayed unto me, she dyd fere such things in harself that she was suer she could not lyve: whereunto I answaryd, as I thowght that I sawe na lyklyhod of deth in har. She then haveyng my lord admyrall by the hand, and dyvers other standyng by, spake thes wardys, partly as I took hyt, idylly, ’My lady Tyrwhitt, I am not wel handelyd, for thos that be abowt me caryth not for me, but standyth lawghyng at my gref; and the moor good I wyl to them, the les good they wyl to me;’ whereunto my lord admyrall answered, ’why swet-hart I would you no hurt,’ and she saed to hym agayn aloud, ’no my lord, I thinke so,’ and imedyetly she sayed to hym in his ere, ’but my lord, you have given me many shrowd tauntes.’ Thos wordys I parsavwyd she spake with good memory, and very sharply and ernestly, for har mynd was for unquyetted. My lord adrayrall parsevyng that I hard hyt, callyd me asyd, and askyd me what she sayd, and I declaryd hyt plainly to hym. Then he cosowltyd with me that he wold lie down on the bed by har, to loke if he could pacyfy har unquyetnes wit gentyl camynycacyon; whereunto I agred. And by that time he had spoken thre or four wordes to har, she answered hym very rowndly and shortly, sayeing ’My lorde, I wolde have given a thousand markes to have had my full talk wyth Hewke the fyrst day I was delyveryd, but I doorst not for displesyng of you:’ and I heryug of that my hart wold sarve me to her no mor. Sych lyke comunycasyon she had with hym the space of an oar, wych they did hear that sat by har bed syde.”
Shortly after the death of the queen, Seymour paid court to the Princess Elizabeth, but his enemies were on the alert, and fomented the disagreement betweeen him and his brother the Protector, when he was speedily committed to the Tower, condemned without a trial, and beheaded on Tower Hill, March 20th., 1549.
At his death Sudeley again reverted to the crown. It was then bestowed on the Marquis of Northampton, but he was shortly afterwards attainted for espousing the cause of Lad Jane Grey, and of course deprived of his estates.
It was next granted by Queen Mary to Sir John Brydges, who was one of the foremost in her train on her entrance into London, August 3rd., 1553, and attended her to the Tower, which she then committed to his custody for his services, and he was shortly afterwards raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Chandos of Sudeley. He fought at the “battle of the Spurs.” He died on the 4th. of March, 1557, and was buried at Sudeley, and succeeded by his eldest son,
Edmund Brydges, K.G., who, like his father, engaged in military pursuits, and was knighted on the field by the Duke of Somerset, for his bravery in the battle of Musselberg. He married Lady Dorothy, daughter of Edward Lord Bray, the foundress of almshouses still standing at Winchcombe for twelve poor persons. His son and heir,
Giles, third Lord Chandos, lived a quiet country life, and had the honour of entertaining Queen Elizabeth at Sudeley, in one of her “Progresses,” as recorded by Nichols. On this occasion he presented Her Majesty, it being, it appears, her custom to expect some such present from her hosts, with a splendid piece of jewelry attached to a gold chain, and consisting of a falcon or pheasant, the body crystal, the head, tail, legs, and breast of gold, fully garnished with sparks of rubies and emeralds.
He married Lady Frances, daughter of Edward, Earl of Lincoln, foundress of the Grammar School of Winchcombe, for fourteen scholars, natives of the place. He died in 1593, and was followed in the barony by his brother,
William Brydges, fourth Lord Chandos of Sudeley, married Mary, sister of Sir Owen Hopton, and was succeeded by his son,
Grey Bridges, fifth Lord. “This Lord,” says Collins, “was a noble housekeeper, and by a winning behaviour contracted so great an interest in Gloucestershire, and had such numerous attendants when he came to court, that he was commonly called ‘The King of Coteswold.’ For, having an ample fortune, he expended it in the most generous manner; his Castle of Sudeley being kept open three days every week for the gentry, and the poor were as constantly fed with the remnants of his hospitable entertainments. In short, his ability and disposition were so exactly proportioned to each other, that it was difficult to determine which had the greatest shai’e in his numberless acts of beneficence.”
He married Anne, eldest daughter of Ferdinand, Earl of Derby, and died in Italy in 1621, but was interred at Sudeley with his ancestors, leaving a son, George, his heir, only then a year old.
George, sixth Lord Chandos, was a distinguished cavalier, and raised a regiment of cavalry for the king, leaving his own castle guarded by Captain Brydges, which was attacked on January 1st., 1642, by Massie, Governor of Gloucester, with 300 Infantry and two pieces of Artillery. The castle was surrendered to him on certain conditions, which, though sworn to, were immediately basely broken on the part of the “Parliament Army raised for the defence of religion,” who profaned the church, and utterly wasted the goods of the poor inhabitants of that place. In the following year Lord Chandos distinguished himself at the battle of Newbury, and had three horses killed under him; he mounted a fourth, and aided much in breaking the cavalry of the Parliament. It was feared he was running into too great danger, but Charles exclaimed, “Let Chandos alone, his errors are safe.” The king for his valour and services that day, desired to make him Earl of Newbury, but he modestly declined the offer “till it might please God to restore His Majesty to the peaceable enjoyment of his own.” He recovered his castle the same year and intrusted the command to Sir William Morton, formerly a lawyer, but then fighting as an officer for the king. Shortly afterwards King Charles visited Sudeley Castle, and remained there during the siege of Gloucester. It was afterwards again besieged by Sir William Waller and Massie, and again capitulated, a shot having taken off the head of the captain of artillery, the place being but ill provided for a siege. The castle was almost irreparably destroyed in this and the former siege, and gave occasion for the verses placed at the head of this chapter. Lord Chandos died February 0th., 1654, (see Burke’s “Extinct and Dormant Peerages,”) and was interred at Sudeley, and, having no son, bequeathed the greater part of his estates to Jane, his second wife, daughter of John Savage, Earl Rivers, and on her re-marrying with George Pitt, Esq., of Strathfieldsaye, in Hampshire, ancestor of the Lords Rivers, the estate and manor of Sudeley passed into that family. In 1810 the then Lord Rivers sold the castle and, a small part of the estate to the Duke of Buckingham.
Among the many valuable and interesting antiquities and works of art at Sudeley, are a portrait of King Henry VIII. and his children, by Sir Antonio More; The marriage of Henry VII. and Elizabeth of York, by Mabeuse; Charles I., by Vandyke; a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, by Zucchero; also two most valuable carvings of King Henry VIII., in bone, stone, and boxwood, by Holbein; a pictra dura table weighing nearly a ton, formed of the rarest and most valuable marbles, elaborately worked in intricate devices, and enriched with turquoise, lapis lazuli, etc., the stem gracefully carved and gilt, displaying the ducal arms of Tuscany. It formerly adorned the palace at Florence of Lorenzo de Medicis. Last, and chief, the autograph letter of Queen Katherine Parr to the admiral, in which she accepts him as her husband, and several personal relics of the Queen. A lock of her hair, found when the tomb was re-opened a second time, in July, 1807, (it having been previously opened in May, 1784, and October 14th., 1786,) was lent to Miss Agnes Strickland for the use of her work, by Mrs. Constable Maxwell, of Everingham Park. “It was of the most exquisite quality and colour, exactly resembling threads of burnished gold in its hue. It was very fine, and with an inclination to curl naturally.”
The chapel, in the early perpendicular style, built in the latter part of the reign of Henry VI., was desecrated and defaced by Cromwell and his lawless troops. It remained roofless and ivy-clad for two centuries, but in 1858 its restoration was commenced, and it has been one of Mr. G. G. Scott’s most happy efforts. A canopied tomb, with a recumbent figure of Queen Katherine Parr in white marble, and an alabaster sarcophagus, have been erected, and the remains of our first Queen of the restored faith have again found a fitting resting-place.
The lover of church restoration will be well repaid by a visit to her shrine: there is not a more perfect gem in this country. A choral service is now performed on each succeeding Lord’s Day. A brass tablet near the door tells its story:—
“To the glory of God and to the memory of John Dent and William Dent, of Worcester and Sudeley Castle, this chapel, destroyed in the civil wars of the XVIth. century, was completed by their nephew, John Coucher Dent, A.D. 1863.”
In the year 1837, John Dent and William Dent, Esqrs., of the city of Worcester, gentlemen of equal liberality and taste, and who had previously purchased the greater part of the Sudeley estates, succeeded in treating with the Duke for the castle and the remainder, and “with a laudable solicitude to rescue from its impending fate so interesting and fine a monument of bygone days,—for which the country owes them a debt of gratitude,—promptly commenced the work of reparation.”
*A leopard’s head on a cross diamond was the coat of arms of the house of Chandos.
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