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DEATH OF LORD FRANCIS VILLIERS.
tells us, “of rare beauty and comeliness of person,” only eighteen years of age. After they had been in the town about two days they all advanced towards Reigate, but were compelled to retreat thence upon Kingston again, where their last skirmish occurred in the lane between the town and Surbiton Common. Here,” says Aubrey, slain the beautiful Francis Villiers, at an elm in the hedge on the east side of the lane, where his horse being killed under him, he turned his back to the elm, and fought most valiantly with half-a-dozen. The enemy, coming on the other side of the hedge, pushed off his helmet, and killed him, July 7th, 1648, about six or seven o'clock in the afternoon."
With the fate of this gallant young Cavalier is connected a story about Hampton Court, which we ought perhaps to narrate here, though we cannot pretend to give it the same credence, or attach the same significance to it
, as would the believers in supernatural occurrences and spiritual visitations.
It seems that now some twenty-seven years ago, there dwelt in one of the suites of private aparments on the west side of the Fountain Court, a certain Lady
who had, for several years, assured her friends that she was frequently conscious of the presence in her rooms of two invisible beings; and that she was greatly disturbed by the mysterious sounds of rapping that emanated from them in various quarters of her apartments. So convinced, indeed, was Lady -- of the genuineness of her weird and unearthly visitants, that she addressed a formal complaint to the Lord Chamberlain on the subject. His lordship, however, answered, so the story goes, that “he declined to move in the matter, as it was not one that fell within the purview of his department”; but he referred her ladyship to Her Majesty's Board of Works. To that august and omniscient body she accordingly had recourse; but, in reply to her requisition, was informed, so it is said, that “the Board” declined to interfere in the matter, on the ground that “there were no funds at their disposal” for any such purpose, and that the jurisdiction of the First Commissioner did not extend to the Spirit World.
There for a time the matter rested, the two departments still maintaining their attitude of sceptical and masterly inactivity, and Lady still complaining that her rooms were haunted, and inveighing bitterly against the incredulity and apathy of “ that tiresome Board of Works.”
At last, however, a few years after, on the end of November, 1871, some workmen, while excavating in the cloister of the Fountain Court, nearly opposite Lady - -'s door, for the purpose of carrying out the new system of drainage, came upon two perfect human skeletons, about two feet below the level of the pavement. They were the remains of two fullgrown men, and, from the position in which they were found, it was evident that they had been hastily buried or rather, perhaps, thrust beneath the surface of the ground.
No satisfactory explanation has ever been offered as to their history. It was suggested, at the time of their discovery, that they might be the remains of Lord Francis Villiers and some other cavalier, ignominiously interred here by the Roundheads, after their deaths in the skirmish. But this conjecture has been proved not to be founded on fact, the
body of Lord Francis Villiers having been buried, after the Restoration, in Westminster Abbey, where his tomb may still be seen. It is not likely, indeed, that history will ever now reveal the identity of these two skeletons; but the condition in which they were found, and several points in regard to the topography of the palace, render it not improbable that they had been interred some two hundred and fifty years, and they may, therefore, be assigned with some probability to the period of the Great Rebellion.
However this may be, the discovery quite set at rest in the mind of Lady all doubts as to the origin of the mysterious beings, and the weird sounds that had haunted her apartments, and she triumphantly exclaimed: "Just like that stupid Board of Works! Why, of course, those are the two wretched men who have been worrying me all these years, and the Board never found it out !" Whether, on the bodies receiving Christian burial at Hampton Church, the supernatural manifestations thereafter ceased, the story does not record.
To return to Charles I. After his detention at Carisbrook Castle, he never set eyes on Hampton Court again ; but about a year after was moved from the Isle of Wight to London, soon to take his trial in Westminster Hall,
CHARLES I.'S PROPERTY TO BE SOLD.
HAMPTON COURT FOR SALE.
CHARLES I.'s head had no sooner rolled on the scaffold at Whitehall, than the Parliament at once proceeded to deal with all the property of "the late Charles Stuart," directing inventories to be taken of all his goods and chattels, and surveys to be made of his lands, houses, and palaces.
This was done with a view to their being forthwith turned into money; and to effect this object in regard to the personal property of the royal family, a bill was almost immediately introduced into Parliament, and passed on July 4th, 1649, the valuers at once setting themselves to work to prepare a most full and ample inventory, taking account of all the furniture, pictures, tapestries, carpets, plate, jewels, utensils, and movables of all sorts to be found in each palace. A contemporary copy of the inventory, if it be not the original, is still preserved among the Harleian manuscripts in the British Museum, making an enormous folio volume of some thousand pages, about seventy-six of which are filled with a list of “Goods Viewed and Appraised att Hampton Court, in the custody of Wm. Smithsbie, Esq., Wardrobe Keeper, October 5th, 1649.” Attached to the entry of each lot is its estimated worth, and the price for which it was eventually sold, with the name of the purchaser. The sale, which began in the winter of 1649-50, was the most gigantic on record, and lasted on and off for nearly three years. Many of the tapestries, however, were never put up to auction; and, instead of the names of purchasers, we find such notes subjoined to the entries as “Now in the use of the Lord Protector”; “In his Highness Service att Hampton Court”; “In his Highness Service.”
The high values placed on the tapestries contrast markedly with those assigned to some of the finest pictures in the collection. Thus the great picture of Charles I. on a brown horse, recently acquired by the National Gallery at the cost of £11,000, was valued at only £200; the Venus del Pardo, one of the finest works of Titian, now at Madrid, fetched only £600; Mantegna's “Triumph of Julius Cæsar," one of the most precious treasures of the English Crown, was valued at £1,000, and Raphael's famous Cartoons at only £ 300!
These last two lots, however, were not disposed of, but were reserved, by order of the Council of State, together with Titian's “Herodias with the Head of John the Baptist” (valued at £150) and other pieces, for the decoration of the palace, which was soon after occupied by Cromwell.
The pictures at Hampton Court numbered altogether 332, and were valued at £4,675 16s. 6d.
There was, in addition, a great deal of splendid furniture, some of which had belonged to Cardinal Wolsey, such as beds, chairs, canopies, church robes, chests, instruments of music, looking-glasses, and also many antiquities and curiosities, the description and prices of which must sound most tantalizing to modern connoisseurs. Thus Cardinal Wolsey's lookingglass, surmounted with his arms, went for £5; Henry VIII.'s cane for 55.; his hawking glass was valued at a shilling, “but 23. was bid for it”; his gloves, valued at 6d. went for is. ; “six comb-cases, which were Henry ye VIIIths,” sold for 75.
In the meanwhile, ere the valuing and inventorying of the personal effects of the King had been proceeded with far, an Act was passed, on the 16th July, 1649, declaring that “forasmuch as the Parliament, finding the office of a King in this nation to have been unnecessary, burthensome, and dangerous, hath utterly abolished the said kingly office”; therefore be it enacted that all “honors, manors, castles, houses, messuages, chases, parks, and lands, and all tenements and hereditaments, royalties, privileges, franchises, immunities, and appurtenances” belonging to the late King should be surveyed, valued, and sold for the benefit of the Commonwealth.
In view of this a rough survey of the Manor of Hampton Court was accordingly forthwith made, and laid on the table of the House of Commons, being afterwards elaborated into a more exhaustive one, which was not completed until April, 1653. Altogether, the total of the annual values amounted to £1,204, and the total of the gross values to £10,765 195. 9d.
From the way in which the several portions of Hampton Court are valued separately, it would appear that it was con
HAMPTON COURT EXCEPTED FROM THE SALE. 239
templated to divide it into lots and sell it to various bidders, with a view perhaps of destroying its palatial character and aspect, if indeed the expression which occurs in the survey, “ when it shall be cleared of the sayd buildings,” does not imply that it was intended to obliterate all traces of its royal and historic associations by demolishing the palace entirely.
The Council of State, however, advised that Hampton Court, together with Whitehall, Westminster, and a few other palaces, should be excepted from the sale and “be kept for the public use of the Commonwealth,” and an exempting clause was accordingly inserted in the Bill.
A similar exception was made in regard to some of the furniture and movables of utility in this palace, as distinguished from works of art and curiosity; for in the following month of April the Council of State gave an order that “the hangings and carpets which were at Hampton Court when the Committee was there, were to be reserved to the use of the Commonwealth.”
For the next year or two, however, no suitable purpose was found, to which the palace or its furniture could be devoted, and the many stirring events that were taking place in the three kingdoms—the battles of Rathmines, Dunbar, and Worcester, and the thrilling escape of Charles II.prevented the question from being much considered. But with the return of Cromwell and his victorious army southwards, it occurred to the Council of State that Hampton Court would be a convenient place for him to retire to, as he seems to have taken a liking to the locality, and a suite of apartments was accordingly prepared for him and his family at the public expense. Here, therefore, after a triumphant procession in his state carriage through London, where he received a most enthusiastic welcome from the citizens, and was presented with addresses of congratulation from the Parliament and the City Corporation, he arrived on the evening of the 12th of October, 1651.
It is curious to think of Cromwell thus installing himself in the very palace which, a few years previous, had been the scene of his intimate conferences with Charles I., and in which he had perhaps cast an envious eye on the regal splendours of his great victim.
We hear no more of Hampton Court for upwards of a