Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

mery was of the Benedictine Order, and was founded about the year 1140, by Geoffrey de Gorham, sixteenth Abbot of St. Alban's, on the site of an humble dwelling that had been constructed with branches of trees, by two pious women, who lived here in seclusion and strict abstinence. The Abbot ordained that the number of Nuns should not exceed thirteen, and that none should be admitted into the sisterhood but maidens: he also granted them some lands; and their possessions were afterwards increased by different grants from Henry de Albini, and others of his family: an estate in the parish of Ridge was likewise given to them by Richard de Tany, or Todenai. At the period of the dissolution of this house, its annual revenues were estimated, according to Speed, at 68l. 8s. 0d.” but Dugdale records them at only 401.7s. 10d. In the year 1541, Henry the Eighth granted the site and buildings of the Nunnery to Sir Richard Lee, who had been bred to arms, and was the person who had previously obtained the grant of the lands lying contiguous to the Abbey Church.t. By him the buildings were enlarged and altered for his own residence; and the surrounding grounds were inclosed by a wall, and converted into a park. Sir Richard died in 1575, leaving two daughters; by Anne, the eldest of whom, married to Edwyn Sadleir, second son of Sir Ralph Sadleir, of Standon, in this county, Sopwell passed into that family. About the time of the Restoration, it again fell to an heiress, married to Thomas Saunders, Esq. of Beechwood, and was afterwards sold to Sir Harbottle Grimston, ancestor to the present Lord Viscount Grimston, of Gorhambury, who is now owner of a considerable part of Sopwell-Bury Manor. The ruins of Sopwell are mostly huge fragments of wall, composed of flint and brick: the windows in what appear to have

been

* Tanner supposes that Speed mistook a figure, and that the revenue was only 581. 8s. 0d.

+ Newcome asserts, (Hist. of St. Alban's, p. 469,) that Sopwell was given to Sir Richard through the solicitations of his handsome wife, “whose maiden name was Margaret Greenfield, and who was in no small favor with the King.”

been the chief apartments, are square, and large, with stone frames; some of them have been neatly ornamented. The gardens, which he contiguous, are now orchards: in the wall, over the door leading into the principal one, is a square tablet of stone, sculptured with the figure of a dexter hand and arm, elevated, and holding a broken sword”; above was an inscribed label, now mutilated. In an angle in this garden is a strongly-arched brick building, with various small recesses and niches, constructed within the walls. This Nunnery is said to have obtained the name of Sopwell from the circumstance of the two women who first established themselves here, steeping their crusts in the water of a neighbouring well. One of the out-buildings is yet standing at a little distance, and is now used as a barn. Many of those who assumed the veil at Sopwell, were ladies of distinguished rank, family, and leaming. An unauthorized tradition represents Henry the Eighth

as having been married to Anne Boleyn in the Chapel here. ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH, nearly one mile south-westward from St. Alban's, was founded in the tenth century, by Abbot Ulsinus, and still displays vestiges of its original architecture, though it has been much altered in subsequent ages. In the chancel stands a curious ancient brazen Eagle, which is said to have been found buried in the earth, on opening the vault of the Mountgomery family, about the year 1748, or 1750. Near the top is engraved a mitre, and crosier passing through it, and a coat of arms of a lion rampant, both twice repeated: lower down is a circular inscription in the old German character; and at the end of the circle, the arms again repeated; the inscription is as follows: &?B63&iš IIRQE3&IIbosososos QB193&IADI®(HS Dājo, 5&LEDGroß36. On the pavement is an inscribed slab in memory

* The crest granted to Sir Richard Lee in 1544, was an arm with a gauntlet, holding the hilt of a broken sword.

* In Beatson's List of the Scottish Bishops, two Bishops of Dunkeld of those names occur under the sixteenth century: the first was Lord Privy Seal of Scotland; the other his nephew: how the eagle came into this Church from Scotland is unknown; though it seems probable, that it might have been brought hither by Sir Richard Lee, with the font which he Presented to St. Alban's.

mory of Olive MoUNTGoMERY, wife of Lewis Mountgomery, Gent. of this parish, who died in March, 1696: over it hangs a singular little hatchment, only twenty-seven inches in diameter, the border of which is ornamented with bones, spades, hour-glasses, and other emblems of human mortality. Here also is an inscription for John Pitt, Esq. of Ashford, in Somersetshire, who “entered early into the army, was engaged in all King William's and Queen Anne's wars; at length became Aide-de-Camp, and Master of the Horse, to John, Duke of Marlborough; and in 1727 was made Governor of the Bermuda Islands:” he died in June, 1750, aged eighty-nine. Against the south wall is an inscribed tablet in memory of John Rolfe, Esq. “Official of the Archdeaconry of St. Alban, Commissary of the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon, and one of the Masters of Chancery:” he died at the age of sixty-five, in October, 1630. The epitaph is thus given by Chauncy:

JAMEs, art thou here and must this Church of Stephen
Inshrine thy body, now thy soul's in Heav'n
Had not thy monument been better fixt
Nearer to that of Abbot Jo HN the Sixth,
By Alb AN's shrine? where thy religious care
Redeem'd those sacred relicks from despair.
No! thou wast wise, and sure thou thought it better,
To make each Proto-martyr's Church thy debtor;
That glories kept by thee from ruin's rust,
And this may glory that it keeps thy dust.

r

. Various other sepulchral memorials are in this edifice; and in the Church-yard is a table monument in memory of the Right Hon. LADY ANNE PADDEY, daughter of Charles, Duke of Cleveland and Southampton, who died in February, 1769, aged sixtysix; and her husband, John Paddey, Esq. who had been her father's butler: he died at the age of eighty-three, in March, 1780. Part of St. Stephen's Parish belongs to the Earl of Essex, and is

included in what is called Park Manor. At

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »