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each of those places. That which he built at Ashby, was of great extent, strength, and importance, and here lie and his descendants resided for about 200 years. It was built at the south side of the town, on rising ground, and was chiefly composed of brick and stone. The rooms were spacious and magniticent, attached to which was a costly private chapel. The building was dignified with two lofty towers, which were of immense size, as one of them contained “a large ball, great chambers, bed chambers, kitchens, cellars, and all other offices.". The other was called the Kitchen Tower. Parts of the walls of the hall, chapel, and kitchen, are still remaining, and display a grand and interesting mass of ruins. The sadly mutilated walls are richly decorated with door-ways, chimney-pieces, windows, coats of arms, and other devices. The persecuted Mary queen of Scots, “who has given celebrity to so many castles and old mansions, by her melancholy imprisonment beneath their lofty turrets,” was for some time confined within the walls of this at Ashby, while in the custody of the carl of Huntingdon*. Anne, consort of James the First, and her son, prince Henry, were entertained, in 1603, at this castle, which was thien à seat of much hospitality. It was afterwards honored by a visit from that monarch. In the civil war of the next reign, Ashby Castle was deeply involved, being garrisoned for the king, besieged by the parliamentary forces, and (though never actually conquered, whence the garrison obtained the appellation of Maiden) evacuated and dismantled by capitulation.
The Church of Ashby, dedicated to St. Helen, is a handsome ancient edifice, It is built of stone, and consists of a nave and two ailes, separated by four lofty arches, springing froin fluted: pillars. The chancel is neat and spacious: on each side is a large chapel, projecting considerably wider than the church; that on the north is converted into a vestry room; the south is the burial place of the Hastings family. At the west end of the north
* Some letters from the malicious Elizabeth, to the Earl of Huntingdon, are printed in Mr. Nichols's History of Leicestershire, Vol. III. p. 609.
aile is an instrument of punishment for the disorderly, called “a finger pillory,” which Mr. Nichols describes as a " singular curiosity.” It consists of two upright posts, supporting an horizontal beam in two parts, opening with a hinge, the lower part containing holes of every size for the fingers of offenders. Amongst the sepulchral monuments, those of the Huntingdon family are most conspicuous. The memory of Francis, second Earl of Huntingdon, who died in 1561, and Katherine his wife, is preserved by a large and costly altar tomb, with their recumbent statues on it, and the effigies of their children round it. Here is also a mural monument for Theophilus, the seventh earl, who died in 1701; and another for Theophilus, the ninth earl, who died in 1746. His countess, Selina, died in 1791, and was interred here. This lady is well known for her piety and philanthropy, and for the erection and patronage of numerous chapels throughout the kingdom called after her name.
« This town,” says Burton, “is the native place of the mirror and ornament of our times, the right reverend Father in God, JOSEPH Hall, now Bishop of Exeter.” “ Few, if any, of the fathers of our church," observes Mr. Nichols, “ have left behind them such illustrious memorials of learning, piety, and unwearied industry in the cause of truth. The innocence of his life, the fervour of his charity, the variety and importance of his theological writings, have been so many irresistable claims on posterity to preserve him from the oblivion into which most of his cotemporaries have fallen." He was born, according to his own statement, “ July 1, 1574, at Prestop Park, within the parish of Ashby, of honest and well allowed parentage.” After obtaining and passing through several different church preferments, he was translated from the bishoprick of Exeter to that of Norwich, where he died in September, 1656, in the eighty-third year of his age. His literary works are copious, and occupy, exclusive of his satires, five volumes in folio and quarto. He was styled the Christian Seneca, from his sententious manner of writing, and was justly celebrated for his piety, wit, learning, and extensive knowledge of mankind,
Four fairs are now annually held at Ashby, also a statute for hiring servants, and a weekly market, which is plentifully supplied. The place is well watered with springs; and on the adjoining wolds are several large stagnant pools. “Ashby-de-la-Zouch contains, by estimation, about 11,200 acres; and 195 houses pay the window, or commutation tax. The inhabitants are shop-keepers, innkeepers, manufacturers of woollen and cotton stockings, and hats, farmers and labourers. Here is one of Lady Huntingdon's Chapels, one Methodist Chapel, and one Presbyterian Chapel.
A Latin Free-school was founded in this town in 1567, by Henry Earl of Huntingdon, and others, “ for instructing youth in good manners, learning, knowledge, and virtue." Another free-school was founded here in 1669 by Isaac Dawson; and others, for instructing twenty-six boys in the usual branches of school knowledge. In 1800 Ashby contained 621 houses, and 267 4 inhabitants.
BELTON, in old writings styled Beleton and Belinton, is a pleasant village, seated in a part of the county distinguished for its picturesque scenery. The church is large, with a neat plain tower and spire, and within the former is a curious old monument, with a recumbent statue of a female, representing the Lady Roesia de Verdun, the founder of the
NUNNERY OF GRACEDIEU. This religious house was beautifully situated in a retired and secluded spot, near the centre of Charnwood forest, at the distance of six miles from the towns of Loughborough and Ashby-de-la-Zouch; and was founded by the above named lady, between the years 1236 and 1242, for nuns of the order of St. Austin. The whole of Gracedieu was a park, and is still so denominated. The outer wall of the garden, which is now remaining, formerly included a space of about two acres. As one of the smaller monasteries, this was included in the suppression which took place in the year 1536; but, with thirty others, was allowed, by licence from the king, to continue some time VOL. IX, Bb
longer. It finally surrendered in 1539, when there were fourteer nuns, a prioress, and a sub-prioress. The site of the priory, with the demesne lands, were granted in the same year to Sir Humplirey Foster, Knight, by the service of a fourth part of one knight's fee, and the rent of 50s. a year. This gentleman immediately conveyed the whole to John Beaumont, Esq. to whom a very curious inventory* of the “ household-stuffe, corne, catell, ornaments of the church, and such other lyke,” in the priory, was made out. Among them is the following entry, respecting the number and prices of " cattell." “ Item- twelve oxon, 101.; eight kyne and bull-calf, 66s. 8d.; twenty-four bests in the forest, 71.; seven calves, 15s. ; six horses, 66s. 8d. ; thirty-four swyne, praysed at 26s. &d.: sum of the'whole, 25). 15s.” In the church were, Fyrst, one table of wode; over the hygh alter certain images, two laten candlestyks, one lamp of laten ; certain oulde formes in our lady chappell, certain ould images, one particion of tymber, one lampe, and ould formes in the nunnes quere, one rode, certeen images, and the nunnes stalls ; in the belhowse one cloke, certein ould images, ould stoles of woode, one ould chest, one ould holy water stole of brasse, and the rosse, glasse, ieron, and pavement in the churche, and the glasse and iron in the steple, as sould for 15l.”
FRANCIS BEAUMONT, the celebrated Dramatic poet, whose name is generally associated with that of Fletcher, his literary coadjutor, was a native of Gracedieu, where he was born in 1586. Whilst Beaumont was remarkable for the accuracy of his judgment, Fletcher was distinguished for his energy and fertility of imagination; thus, what the one created, was, by the other, “ formed and fashioned,” with so much discrimination and effect, as not only to prove extremely popular at the time, but entitled to admiration and praise of the present fastiduous age. These co-authors produced fifty-three plays, the greater parts of which are attributed to Beaumont. “I suspect,” says Mr. E. Brydges,
This is printed in Nichols's History of Leicestershire, Vol. III. p. 653.
who unites the vivid fancy of the poet with the more substantial judgment of the antiquary and biographer, '“ that great injustice has generally been done to Deaumont, by the supposition that his merit was principally confined to lopping the redundancies of Fletcher. Indeed, the judicious authors of the Biographia Dramatica are not guilty of this fault; for they say, “It is probable that the forming the plots, and contriving the conduct of the fable, the writing of more serious and pathetic parts, and lopping the redundant branches of Fletcher's wit, whose luxuriance we are told frequently stood in need of castigation, might be in general Beaumont's portion of the work.' This is to afford him very high praise; and the following authorities induce me to believe it just. Sir John Birkenhead, in his verses on Fletcher, has the following lines, which prove at least bis opinion that Beaumont was better employed than in lopping luxuriances :"
“ Some think your wits' of two complexion's framd,
Beaumont died at the very prime and vigour of life, in the year 1615, before he had attained his thirtieth year, and was buried at the entrance of St. Benedict's Chapel, in Westminster Abbey Church. A volume of his Poetical Essays, with a little Dramatic Piece, was published in 1683, in octavo. See a portrait of him, with many particulars respecting his writings, &c. in Nichols's History of Leicestershire, Vol. III. p. *662, &c.
BREDON, a considerable village on the verge of this hundred and county, is seated at the base of a high lime-stone rock, on the summit of which the church stands, proudly elevated above the circumjacent country, and commands very extensive views. The parish is large, and includes the hamlets of Staunton-Harold and Worthington, Breedon Brand, Wilston, part of Cole-Orton Manor,