LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward III
Robert Plumer Ward to Peter George Patmore, 20 December 1831

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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Produced by CATH
Gilston Park, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 1831.

“I forgot to mention in the catalogue of the Hall, what ought at least to be enumerated as belonging to the times—viz., the old oak table—a very plank, supported by barrel legs—which seemed to catch your fancy. It once belonged to Lord Fairfax, temp. C I., but was created long before him.

“Then there are the portraits of Burleigh, the favourites Leicester and Essex, Sir P. Sidney, and Lord Cottington, all in the proper Spanish costume of those days. Add to these, a fine whole length of bonnie King Jamie, by Jansen, Henry VIII., and (the most modern of the crowned heads here admitted) King William, on a spirited horse, though looking himself, as he always did, very much out of spirits.

“The black oak door, so beautifully divided into wreaths and ribbons, with a crimson oval in the middle, on which is a patriarchal cross in studded brass, and leading from the great stairs to other apartments, must not be forgotten.


“The archway above is crowned with, what the old gentry were always fond of erecting in their halls, an immense carving of the Royal Arms and supporters, which, though now venerably dimmed, had once been splendidly gilt and painted. They were of the time of the first James, and have been in the house ever since. These, and some chairs, exquisite in ebony and ivory, and Genoa velvet cushions, conclude the list of furniture in the hall.

“Passing through a twin door with that which leads to the dining-room, we now enter a spacious room which, with all our fondness for Tudor recollections, I am afraid, though comparatively modern, must be acknowledged to be the finest thing in the place. It is called the Octagon Hall, composes a cube of thirty-six feet, ending at the top in a cupola. The ground on which it stands was, in fact, originally an open court, round which the old rooms were ranged, opening into one another. But this being thought cold and comfortless by the Plumer of a hundred years ago, he judiciously filled up the space with a building,
which, though incongruous with many other parts, is beautiful in itself, from its elegant proportions, and a Grecian decoration which is perfect.

“All round are niches, in which, and on trestles, are busts of the twelve Cæsars, as large, or perhaps larger, than life, in superb and spotless marble. In this hall lately sat down with ease to a very baronial dinner, one hundred and forty persons, composed of the Gilston yeomanry, officers and men, and many gentry of the neighbourhood.

“Passing through a door on the right, we are again gothicised, in a library thirty-six feet long, composed entirely of oak in panels; carved beams of the same; bay windows, full of family arms;—Suttons, Dudley, Charlton, Tiploft, the Seahouses and all their northern quarterings; Luice, Eaglefield, Ponsonby, Wharton, Huddleston, &c., with the appropriate motto of a border family of five hundred years,—‘Væ Victis.’

“To the critical traveller, however, the object most worthy of observation in this room, is a chimney-piece of the most exact architecture of the Tudor times, and seem-
ingly three hundred years old. It is of oak of different colours, divided by rich pillars and obelisks, and inlaid with flowers; an immense and high-wrought rose forming the centre compartment.

“Below, inclosing the fire-place, are four bishops with their robes, croziers, books, and crucifixes, excellently carved in alabaster. They are evidently of the Roman Catholic times, and one of them a cardinal.

“There are here, and in a study contiguous, some five thousand volumes, and two relics, the answer of the University of Oxford to the Pope’s bull excommunicating Henry VIII., sealed with the arms of all the colleges, and a rare facsimile of the letter to Lord Monteagle, which disclosed the Gunpowder Plot.

“Leaving this room for what is called the Den, you find yourself in the essence of cheerfulness. Windows, catching every ray of the sun, dancing on the water, and illuminating the park. A high and broad glass door down to the ground lets you into a conservatory, with all its sights and perfumes. In this Den are some of the owner’s favourite
books—divinity, classics, many
Shakspeares, many Horaces, many county histories, and gothic antiquities; plates of horsemanship, where ‘Monseigneur le Marquis de Newcastle devant son Chateau de Bolsover, donne leçon.’ There are also some valuable state papers, and books of reference; Montfaucon, Du Cange, Gesner, the various Encyclopedias, and much heraldry.

“Above the books are the pictures of some choice friends,—the late Sir Michael Stewart, the late Lord Mulgrave by Jackson, General Phipps by Hopner, and the owner’s first lady.

“Returning through the Octagon Hall, we pass now through a vestibule, into the drawing-rooms, stopping on the way to look at Henry IV. in his breastplate and sash of command; a good picture, but rather too old for the stories told of him with the ladies.

“A pendant is his wife, Mary de Medicis, looking very ugly and jealous, and almost an excuse for Henry’s inconstancies.

“Above is another foreign general, most markedly picturesque in face, beard, armour, and sashed arm,—the famous Spinola.


“A side wall is almost covered with a gigantic whole length of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham,—a superb man, and a good painting, by Kneller. Opposite is Mistress Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, his mother-in-law.

“These, and a portrait of Hamilton, Earl of Haddington, who was blown up in Dunglas Castle by his English page, out of revenge for calling the English cowards (the page sharing the same fate), conduct you to the Salons de Compagnie.

“And here we take leave of the olden time entirely,—for all now is modern elegance. May I not pay that tribute to the taste of their late mistress? The walls are painted crimson, so like morocco leather that they may be taken, at first sight, for that commodity. They are bordered with broad scallops in gold, and have many portraits in bright gold carved frames. These, added to a profusion of China (of which Mrs. Plumer Ward was very fond), crimson damask curtains, and embossed silver vases; marble and scagliola tables, and much plate glass and japan cabinets; a noble organ, grand piano, and
harp, almost make us forget, or at least not regret, the times of the Virgin Queen.

“The pictures are, some of them, very good; most, or all of them, interesting. The best, perhaps, is a fine whole length of the first Duke of Hamilton by Jamieson, the Scotch Vandyck. He is in the black dress of the age,—a black cloak, only enlivened by the George and other insignia of the garter, and a white lace ruff.

“His father and grandfather, Marquesses of Hamilton, are near him, in appropriate costume. These Hamiltons are ancestors of Mrs. Plumer Ward.

“Then a half length of Charles II. in the robes of the garter, one of the truest of Sir Peter. Another, equally true, by the same painter, of a very beautiful, very young, and very pensive Charlotte Cotton, leaning her cheek upon her hand, that makes one in melancholy love with her. What adds to it is an inscription much obliterated, but legible. ‘She was a pale primrose, that died unmarried.’

“Not so pensive, but perhaps still more exquisitely beautiful, is the whole length
Henrietta Maria, if not by Vandyck, so like him, as to fill ladies with envy both of her face and of her gown.

“Leave her for the great picture of Mr. Pitt, by Hopner, and Lord Bolingbroke again, in his court dress of crimson velvet, and looking older than in his robes, but with a higher look of the man of quality he was.

“These furnish the principal drawing-room, which is thirty-six feet by twenty-four, and sixteen feet high. In the ante-room, leading to it through folding mahogany doors, are others, more modern worthies,—Fox, excellent, by Romney; Sheridan, not quite perfect, by Sir Joshua; a noble one of the late Mr. Plumer’s father, by the same; Bishop Seth Ward (no relation though the same arms) in his robes of Chancellor of the Garter; a bad painting of Lord Lonsdale, and a worse of Mr. Percival, both preserved for the sake of personal esteem.

“I have now done what I feel I have made a very egotistical sketch, instead of the mere catalogue I intended. But you had mounted me on my hobby, and you see it has run
away with me. My excuse is,
Walpole would have been worse if you had sat him upon Strawberry Hill, To make amends I will be brief on the

“This rises on the margin of the lake, in quiet (I could almost say) majesty. On the opposite side a bank, somewhat steep, and crowned with trees, and the stems of trees of most grotesque shapes. In the distance, the woods and avenues of the park, with a whole army of deer, amounting to some hundreds.

“The building is perfectly Elizabethan. Innumerable gables and chimneys of the oldest time of that taste; turrets for clocks and weathercocks; statues and bust upon projecting corbeilles.

“Among the statues, those of Edward I. and his two queens, Eleanor of Castile, and Marguerite of France, by the first of whom came my son, by the second (mother of Thomas de Bartholomew), my daughter-in-law; by both my grand-children.

“The busts (being a Tudor house) are of the princes of that family.


“There are fifteen coats of arms in stone of the families who have possessed the place, and be sure De Vere and Mowbray are not forgotten. Seven of the earliest of these were lineal ancestors, from about seven hundred years ago, upwards.

“I must have done, but must first describe the porch, which is crowned with the bust of the Maiden Queen. Above it is the quaint inscription, ‘Fear God, obaye the Rial Queen.’ Below that, the epitaph in Camden
‘Spain’s rod, Rome’s ruin, Netherlands relief;
Earth’s joy, England’s gemme, World’s wonder, Nature’s chief.’

“There are two side casements in this porch. In one, Elizabeth of York; in the other, the Red and White Rose, very large and glowing in painted glass. Adieu.

“R. P. W.”