Page images


pying the “high closet," and consisting but of “ 1 bowke of bocas. 1 greatt owld bowck. I great bowke or grele for singing, and 1 trunk of wickers covert with letter with bowcks and scrowles in."

To the inventory of 1643, drawn up during the siege of the castle in the great rebellion, we are indebted for a very interesting description of the furniture of the hall, which had been dismissed in that of 1572 with but a single line, namely,

“ v boards furnished with formes and one cubbord to remain."

We are now told that " in the great hall,” were, Imprimis, 7 large peices of hangings, with the earle's armes at large in every one of them, and poudered with the severall coates of the house." “Five long great tables on standard frames, 6 long forms, 1 short one, 1 court cupbard, 1 fayre brass lantern, 1 iron cradle with wheeles for charcoale, I almes tub, 1 great auncyent clock, with the bell, weights, &c. 20 long pikes, 1 great church Bible, 1 booke of Common Prayer, 2 laced cloth cushons for the steward."

On this truly graphical catalogue, such an amusing commentary has been given by the learned and accomplished vicar of Whalley, that it would


be almost injustice to attempt any disquisition on the subject in any other words than his own.

It “holds up,” as he justly declares, “ a very complete and vivid representation ; so that a good painter, with some help from fancy, might give an interior view of the old hall at Skipton. But let us examine the particulars. The court cupboard *, I am persuaded, is the same which has been already noticed, as ordered to remain in the great hall, in 1572. The fayre brass lantern was probably suspended at the upper end, to give light to the

*“ One of this description yet remains. It is about five feet high, rather more than four in width and two in depth. The sides are fluted pannels of Henry 8th's time. In front are three doors and two drawers ; on one of the uppermost doors are the arms and supporters of the family, on the other the garter : between them a beautiful gothic tabernacle. It was evidently made in the interval between 1527, when the first earl was installed knight of the garter, and 1542, when he died. Court cupboards, the side-boards of our ancient nobility, were constant appendages to the high table in the hall. See Shakspeare's Romeo and Juliet, act i.

Away with the joint-stools, remove the court cupboard.' Capulet's hall was on this occasion to be converted into a ball-room, and the court cupboard stood in the way."


scene v.

[ocr errors]

high table. The iron cradle for charcoal proves that this hall had no fire-place, but was warmed, like some college halls at present, by a central fire in a moveable grate, the vapour of which escaped through a cupola above. The almes tub was probably in or near the screen below, where the poor

received a stated dole of oatmeal ; a primitive and laudable practice, continued in some old families within my recollection. The great auncient clock with the bell was probably over the screen, , where the hall bells of colleges are generally found at present.

“ The Bible and Book of Common Prayer might probably be removed out of the chapel, which was much exposed to the enemy's fire, that the garrison might at least perform their devotions without danger.

“ With respect to the laced cushons,' for the steward, the great hall seems to have been the place where he presided on court-days, and where I suppose he was seated, like Mr. Vellum, when he held his courts, in the largest elbow-chair in the

house *.

* See Addison's Drummer, act v. scene i.


- The outline of the old hall was the same with the present, and something less than sixty feet

[ocr errors]

long *."

[ocr errors][merged small]


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

In the residue of the inventory of 1643 occur a few articles which mark the progress of luxury and household accommodation. Chairs and floor-carpets are no longer rarities, and we have now both a billiard and a music-room, the former containing not only a board for the game, but numerous pictures and engravings and sixteen maps, and the latter a portrait of the countess of Cumberland, and a statue of her grandfather Burleigh, by Stone; whilst dispersed through the apartments may be remarked a variety of musical instruments, such as lutes and theorboes, a gettorne, a payre of organs, and a harpsicon, pretty clearly indicating what the account books confirm, that the lady of the last earl had both a taste for, and a practical skill in music.

From these account books, of which the historian of Craven inspected four for the years 1606, 1634, 1637, and 1638, we learn many curious par- :


[merged small][ocr errors]

ticulars relative to the provisions and house-keeping expenses of the family. The Cliffords were, it

, seems, by no means adepts in proportioning their expenditure to their income; the former almost constantly exceeding, and that to a considerable amount, the produce of the latter ; a disparity which compelled them to have a regular title in these books for the receipt of money from lands sold.

Yet this excess was certainly not owing to the dearness of the necessaries of life, for butcher's meat and fuel were cheap; venison was furnished in profusion from their own parks, and of fish they had an ample supply either from their own sources, for the earls of Cumberland had, at this time, as chief lords of the Percy fee, a share in the fishery of Malham Water, or in presents from the neighbouring gentry. Such, however, was the hospitality of the lords of Skipton, and such their great expenses in dress, in journeys to their various castles, and in visits to London, that we cannot be much surprised at the result. How chargeable was travelling at this period will be evident from the two following items, of which the first is also a curious proof of

« PreviousContinue »