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the proposed demolition of these ancient and interesting buildings, it was decided to send a deputation to the Governors of the Hospital, to endeavour to avert the threatened destruction, and afterwards to interview the Charity Commissioners upon the matter, with the view to their preservation, if possible.
The selection of the members of the deputation to be left in the hands of the Croydon Committee, who would appoint them from the delegates of the different Societies. It was also decided to work up interest in the town of Croydon itself, and to make application for support from other Societies not already applied to.
Rev. H. D. Astley, Hon. Editorial Secretary, read the following :
NOTES ON THE LEICESTER CONGRESS. During the months of July and August everybody is holidaymaking, and the members of learned Societies form no exception to the rule. Nature is—or ought to beat her best; and all who can do so make haste to escape from the environment of bricks and mortar, to that of green fields, leafy shades, cooling breezes, and rippling streams.
So felt the members of the Association when they met, in considerable numbers, during the first week of August, for their fiftyseventh Annual Congress. It was to be a week of sight-seeing, and the country round Leicester, as well as the town itself, had much to show that was of great archæological interest; while, as usual, at the close of each day's outing, two or more Papers were read, and discussions engaged in, on the antiquities of the town and neighbourhood, by specialists in their several subjects.
The first day was devoted to Belvoir Castle, perched on its lofty height, the view from which rivals royal Windsor in its extent and beauty. The present Castle is quite modern, but some remains of the original Norman structure, built by Robert de Todeni in 1068, exist in the foundations.
At the foot of the hill, a few ruins and foundations mark the spot where once stood the Priory of Belvoir, founded by the same Robert de Todeni, in 1077, after he had completed his Castle. The Priory was for four Black Monks; and, later on, became a cell of the great Monastery of St. Albans.
A Paper on the Castle and Priory, by Mr. W. A. Carrington, Archivist of Belvoir, was read, in the author's absence, by the Rev. H. D. Astley, Hon. Sec. The Charters of Belvoir are very interesting and
Some are to be seen in the Library, including one of King John, a fine example.
On the second day, Bradgate House was visited; this was the home
of Lady Jane Grey, whom her tutor, Roger Ascham, was amazed to find studying Greek, when all her young companions were tilting in the yard. Of this once lordly mansion nothing now remains but a few ruins, for it was burnt down early in the last century, by the then Countess of Stamford, wife of the owner. The house is situated in the heart of Charnwood Forest, and even now the place is lonely and desolate; so that we can sympathise with the feelings of the young bride who, describing it in a letter to a sister as “the house tolerable, but the country a forest, and the people all brutes,” was advised by her to set it on fire and run away by the light of it, and is said to have done so.
Not far off is Ulverscroft Priory, also situated in the heart of Charnwood Forest, and defended by a wall and moat, founded by Robert Bossu, second Earl of Leicester, in 1134; and for four hundred years the home, first of Friars Eremites, afterwards changed to Augustinian Canons. The remaining buildings belong mostly to the fifteenth century, but there are some beautiful bits of Early English work still to be seen in the church. This seat of mediæval piety and learning is now a farm ; the nave is filled with stacks and ricks, and the choir, once sacred to the celebration of holy rites, now only resounds with the cackle of the barn-door fowl.
These, with Kirby Muxloe Castle, a fine specimen of a moated defensive dwelling of the fifteenth century, and, Groby Castle and Manorhouse—the former dating back to the troubles between Saxons and Danes in the tenth century, and destroyed in 1173, the latter a patchwork building of brick and stone, chiefly noted for its connection with the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville, who married first, Sir John Grey, son of the first Lord Ferrers of Groby, who was killed at St. Albans in 1461, and after his death became the wife of Edward IV-made up a good day's work.
Another day was given up to an examination of the antiquities of Leicester itself; and these are most interesting, for the history and progress of the town from Roman times may be read in its remains. The fine Roman tesselated pavements (of which some are in the Museum, while one is now preserved under the Great Central Station, and another, discovered in 1898—with beautiful geometrical pattern, guilloche border, and spirited figure of a peacock with expanded tailis under the care of the Corporation) the number and the variety of the fragments of choice Samian ware turned up in all parts of the Roman city, of which a large quantity are to be seen in the Museumsome containing, in the leaden rivets by which they had been mended in Roman days, evidences of the value attached to them by their whilom possessors—the old Jewry Wall, with its undoubted Roman masonry, whether it formed part of the boundary wall of the city, or of some important building, basilica or bath, all these bear witness to the wealth and importance of Ratae during the Roman occupation. In the Museum may also be seen a fine example of a Roman miliare, found in 1771, on the line of the Foss Way. This is of the time of Hadrian, circ. 120 A.D., and marks “ 2 miles from Ratæ.”
Of Saxon times little remains beyond the Castle mound, erected in all probability, as Mr. Gould suggests, by the Danes during their occupation of this and other “burhs”. in the Midlands; and, according to the Saccon Chronicle, acquired by treaty, in the year 918, by Ethelfleda, the Lady of the Mercians, On this, Robert de Beaumont afterwards built the Norman Keep, of which nothing now remains. A church stood on the site of the present Church of St. Margaret in the eighth century; but the only bit of undoubted pre-Norman work is to be seen in the north wall of the nave arcade of the Church of St. Nicholas. This church stands immediately to the east of the Jewry Wall; the nave and tower are Norman, the chancel Early English ; but just above the two Norman arches of the north arcade are two semicircular windows in the oldest part of the wall, with Roman bricks embedded, similar to those that may be seen at Brixworth, and these go back to Saxon days.
There is some very fine Norman work in the Church of St. Mary de Castro, particularly a triple sedilia, which is magnificent, and probably unique.
St. Martin's Church tells of the corporate history of the town ; while St. Margaret's, approached from Sanvy Gate, the old Sancta Via of the Processions of Guilds and Pilgrims, is the most interesting ecclesiastically
In the old Town Hall, a good example of a half-timbered building of the sixteenth century, Shakspere is said to have given a performance of “ Richard III," with Burbage in the principal part, but there is no direct evidence of this.
Bosworth, in whose Grammar School Dr. Johnson was once an usher, Bosworth Field, the site of the historic battle which finished the Wars of the Roses, on August 22nd, 1485, and set the Tudors, in the person of Henry of Richmond, on the throne, were visited ; as was also Lutterworth, the quiet country living to which John Wiclif retired in his old age, and where he died in 1384, a faithful priest, and in full communion with the Church to the last.
Having thus given a general outline of the proceedings of a very
interesting and successful gathering, it remains to deal with some of the Papers that were read on the occasion.
In the absence of the President, the Marquis of Granby, the Inaugural Address was delivered by Mr. R. Smith-Carrington, F.S.A., High Sheriff of Leicestershire. In this the history and antiquities of the town and county were treated of in a racy, and at the same time, sympathetic manner. Papers dealing with the various places visited were read by Mr. Chas. Lynam, F.S.A., Hon. Treasurer, on “St. Nicholas Church," a most learned, painstaking, and important contribution, which will, we hope, appear in its entirety, and with some of the author's beautiful drawings, in a future number of this Journal; by Mr. Geo. Patrick, Hon. Sec., on “Ulverscroft Priory" and "Lutterworth Church ;" by Mr. Alfred Gotch, F.S.A., on “Kirby Muxloe Castle;" by Mr. I. C. Gould on “Groby Castle and Manor-house;" by Mr. Harrold, on “Bosworth Field;" by Col. Bellairs, on "The Antiquities of Leicester," etc.
At the evening meetings a variety of Papers were read. Dr. W. de Gray Birch, F.S.A., gave a description and account of “The Charters of Leicester.” This was a subject with which the author is well qualified to deal, having devoted a large part of his life to the study of such documents. Dr. Birch described a “Charter” as originally meaning simply a "writing;” then a writing given by someone in authority, granting certain privileges to those who were previously without them. E.g., in the Middle Ages no man could leave the town of his birth unless specially permitted. Accordingly, one of the earliest Charters granted to the “burgesses” of Leicester by King John, expressly gives to all citizens of the town permission to go freely wherever business or inclination called. This became an inalienable right-only the authority that gave could take away. The importance, therefore, of carefully preserving all charters may be understood, for they stand above all law, and on them all civic rights depend. The Charters of Leicester are, for the most part, well preserved, and Miss Bateman is now editing them for the Corporation.
Mr. C. H. Compton's Paper on “Leicester Abbey," was a careful and painstaking piece of work. The Abbey, of which nothing is now left but a few remains of Tudor buildings, and the Gateway, through which Cardinal Wolsey is said to have passed on the last sad occasion when he entered the Abbey to die there, was founded by Robert Bossu, second Earl of Leicester, under the name of St. Mary de Pratis, in the year 1143, and to it the founder assigned the church of St. Mary de Castro, founded by his father, Robert de Beaumont, and all its endowments. Robert Bossu, or Hunchback, became a