LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R. Plumer Ward III
Robert Plumer Ward to Peter George Patmore, 19 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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“Gilston Park, Dec. 19, 1831.

“The Court Yard is of ample dimensions, where a troop of yeomanry could manoeuvre, and have often paraded. In two parts it is bounded by the house; on another, flanked by the stables, screened by trees; on the fourth, by an old-fashioned wall and massive iron gates, between stone pillars, crowned with urns and pines, fruit, flowers, and heads of satyrs.

“In niches in the walls the statue of Cardinal Wolsey, in his robes and hat, and the busts of Charles 1st and Lord Bacon; size of life.

“A very ancient door, studded with iron,
leads to the offices, and an ample gate, of black carved oak, filling a Gothic arch twelve feet high, with a latch of ponderous brass, opens into the Outer Hall of the mansion. Above this door is the helmet and vizor of a knight, cut in stone, and the arms of the present, and several of the ancient possessors of the place.

“The Outer Hall is near thirty feet square, and twenty high, with a cross-beam of oak, in the middle of the ceiling. The sides are lined with oak, in small panels, of a very bright hue, to the height of seven feet; afterwards, up to the ceiling, a white wall; but so covered with arms and armour of different ages; pikes, halberts, crossbows, plaited and twisted coats of mail, shields, helmets, and maces; tilting lances, matchlocks, horse armour, and, (approaching to modern times,) carbines, bayonets, and pistols, that, together with numerous coats of arms, pedigrees, and family and other pictures, scarce any part of the walls can be discovered.

“The principal features, however, are a most massive and ponderous oak staircase and
gallery, of the taste of the olden time; an equally old chimney of the widest dimensions, composed of marble, and a mantelpiece of black oak, boldly carved into representations of a dolphin race, a stag chase, and a boar hunt, with appropriate figures. Over the whole a quaint motto, in gold letters, ‘Patriæ fumus, Igne Alieno, Luculentior.’ Within, blazes a Christmas log, on the dogues formerly belonging to
Sir Ralph Sadleir.

“Then come ancient chests, inlaid with different coloured woods; upon one of which stands a crucifix, between two ponderous brass candlesticks, with almost still more ponderous wax candles, not far from the resemblance of a Roman-catholic altar.

“In another part, the famous ballad of the ‘Old Courtier of the Queen,’ in ancient type, and a broad tapestry and tortoiseshell frame, which seems to have come out of the dressing-room of the Queen herself.

“But chief of all is a large casement window, some ten feet square, entirely covered with glowing painted glass, blazing with the arms of the ancient possessors of Gilston; as
a key to which there is the following inscription:—

“‘Ceux sont les armouries quis porteroient autrefois magnifuiques Princes, nobles Barons et gentilz chevalirs, adonques Seigneurs des beaux fiefs de Gilston, Standon, et Eastwick.’

“Among these are the Mandevilles, De Veres, Mowbrays, De Rooses, Giffards, Fitz Gilberts, Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I., the De Burghs, Lionel Duke of Clarence, Mortimer, and Beauchamp, all of them ancestors of the present possessor’s children and grandchildren. Among these, too, are the arms of Hugh Blount and Sir Thomas De Swinburne, great ancestors of my son’s family, who were sheriffs of this county as far back as 1286 and 1403.

“There is a scroll under the arms of Sir Thomas, stating that he was mayor of Bordeaux and chaptal of Fronsac, in Guienne; ‘par sa mere, noble Boutetourte, par sa grande mere, noble de Montfichet.’ Many panes are serried with very emblematic Plantagenista in pod.

“But the greatest relics in this interesting
hall, are the helmets and various swords of the renowned
Sir Ralph Sadleir, who once possessed some of the estate, and which were removed from his old castle, about ten miles off.

“But, above all, a most valuable trophy, is the pole of the Royal Standard of Scotland, eighteen feet high, taken by Sir Ralph’s own hand at the battle of Musselborough, in the time of Edward VI.

“Over head are the casque, crest, and pennon bearing his arms, of Sir John Core, lord of Gilston, and sheriff of Herts in 1624. The only thing of modern times, but we hope not less interesting, are the colours of the present Gilston Troop of Yeomanry, who, their commander thinks, are quite worthy their ancestors.

“The pictures that line the staircase and opposite wall, are chiefly of ancestors; Cottons of Combermere; Mainwarings, of Cheshire and Shropshire, through whom a brilliant train of descents—Astons, Ratcliffs, and Smiths, baronets, of Hazeluyk Hall. One of the Ratcliffs is the famous Earl of Sussex, mentioned so beautifully by Scott, in
Kenilworth,’ as the rival of Leicester. One of the Smiths, a Sir John, in gold gloves, a sheriff of London in King James’s time, frowns most grimly, seemingly on his lady, who receives it with a look compounded of exuberant fat and resignation.

“More elegant, and more interesting, is a fine copy of, perhaps, Vandyke’s most splendid work, Charles I., with his noble horse, led by his equerry, and the Marquis of Hamilton (the late Mrs. Plumer Ward’s ancestor) in the background; then, a good painting of Essex, the last of the Devauxes, the parliamentary general; and a fine whole-length of Sir Walter Raleigh and his son, by Zucchero. These, two of Elizabeth, Cardinal Wolsey, and Lord Arundel in needle-work by a Lady Aylesbury, finish the hall.

“On the right, and through a well-carved old door of oak, representing many Saxon kings, is the dining-room, thirty-six feet by twenty-two, set thickly round with pictures of the Plumers. The late Mr. Plumer, forty years M.P. for the county, by Lawrence; and the Countess of Abercorn, as a shepherdess. There are, mingled with many eminent states-
men, a fine original half-length of
Lord Bolingbroke, bought by me of the late Lord Chetwynd. An interesting one of the first Lord Chatham, with the eyes of a hawk; a well-finished one of Sir William Wyndham, in his Chancellor of the Exchequer’s robes; and a curious, because uncommon one, of “downright Shippen,” add to the list, which, is crowned by perhaps the most strikingly characteristic likeness of Swift that ever was painted. It gives the very essence of his mind; his leering eye, and sardonic curl of lip would betray him to anybody, though his name were concealed.

“On trestles are the marble bust of Pitt, by Nollekens, and the beautiful one of Canning, by Chantry. The Duke of Wellington commands on the opposite side.

“I can no more to-day (Monday), but will send you the octagon hall, library, drawing-rooms, and exterior south front, to-morrow.

“R. P. W.”