Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Lyveden New Bield

To appreciate the background to Lyveden New Bield reading the previous post here would help

Rushton Hall, Sir Thomas Tresham's principal home was roughly 12 miles away, as the crow flies, from the manor of Lyveden. However, this too was another part of his very large Northamptonshire country estate. 
It was here that Tresham decided to build another of his enigmatic lodges covered in the symbolic images of his Catholic faith together with an Elizabethan moated pleasure garden.
It was begun in 1595 but still unfinished at his death ten years later in 1605.  
It does resemble a small unfinished Elizabethan manor house, but it was built purely as a garden lodge where Tresham could spend time alone or entertain his guests. Visitors would stay at Tresham's manor house in the valley, wander up through his fruit orchard, then stroll through the garden before arriving at the lodge where they would be wined and dined on arrival. 
Whilst exploring inside the lodge several Red Kites were patrolling the skies above
The design for the lodge was based on a symmetrical Greek cross of exact proportions. The four bay windows each have 5 sides and are 5ft long (5 x 5  = 25) The Feast of the Annunciation being observed on the 25th March, and the Nativity on the 25th December.
Again like Rushton Triangular Lodge Lyveden is dominated by groups of three representing the Holy Trinity. The walls carry shields in sets of three, separated by a trio of windows with diamonds also in threes.
Emblems and inscriptions run all around the frieze, there is Judas's money bag holding 30 pieces of silver, the crown of thorns, dice and Roman helmets to represent the rolling of a dice by soldiers to claim the garment Christ wore on the cross, and the mongram IHS, the first three Greek letters that spell Jesus. 
It was an exciting landscape to explore as we discovered the extent of the 400 year old moats, and the Elizabethan Snail Mounts also known as Spiral Mounts. Elizabethans enjoyed wandering up them to the viewing point where they could embrace the wider landscape set out before them.
As we discovered the second mount I was reminded of Charles Jencks, the 21st century landscape/garden designer, and the grassy, sculptural hills, he sets within his landscapes. I pondered that the Elizabethans appear to have got there more than 400 years before him!
These earthworks at Lyveden originally extended much higher, but remain rare examples of the Elizabethan garden 
They are carefully monitored to ensure that foot traffic does not damage the underlying structures. The grass is allowed to grow on the slopes to encourage visitors to follow and keep to the spiral pathway. The longer grass also provides a perfect habitat for wild flowers and butterflies.
An antique print of Dunham Massey showing an example of a Snail Mount
By the time of Sir Thomas Tresham's death in 1605, he had run up substantial debts. Between 1581 and 1605 he had paid penatlites totalling just under £8,000 (equivalent to almost 2 million pounds today). He gave each of his six daughters sizable dowries of over £12,000, but all of this was overshadowed by the expense of his building projects.
His eldest son, Francis inherited the titles, estates and debts, but immediately became embroiled in the Gunpowder Plot that same year of 1605. Along with two of his cousins he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his actions. He would have been hanged, drawn and quartered with his cousins and other conspirators had he not died unexpectedly on December 22nd 1605. Many thought that he died from poisoning while the official government version of the day was that he died from strangury – an acute inflammation of the urinary tract. Following his death, Frances was treated like a traitor. His land was forfeited and his name was attached to the list of other conspirators who wanted to murder James I. Despite not being tried, his corpse was decapitated, and his head set up over the town gate in Northampton, whilst his body was thrown into a hole at Tower Hill.
image Dunham Massey courtesy National Trust

32 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary, It always amazes me how wealthy people overbuild, to the extent of endangering their financial health, which can now be erased by any whim of circumstances. So often new houses must be sold for this reason.

    In America, large circular or other-shaped mounds are usually Indian burials, so I can't imagine anyone building one as a garden feature, though no doubt a few people have.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - it is true that Tresham's obessessions eventually brought about not only debts but also the demise of the family.

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  2. Always something new and interesting to learn on your blog, Rosemary. In this case, it is Snail Mounts, a new concept to me and a charming insight into Tudor ideas. The lodge is an elegant building, irrespective of its eccentric signs and symbols. On first glance I thought it a good project for Grand Designs! Sir Thomas and his grand schemes did end in tears, which just shows the folly of not watching one's budget :)

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    1. Dear Patricia - I didn't realise that you receive the programme Grand Designs - I am always surprised at just how many of our programmes travel around the world.
      Snail Mounts are an interesting feature especially when surrounded by such lovely expanses of water. I am presuming that Snail Mounts originally became a feature because of all the spoil dug out of the ground when excavating the moats, but I like them.

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    2. I love the British television programmes we receive here, and have been a fan of Kevin since Grand Designs began. In fact, went to see him in live performance here a couple of years ago which was most entertaining. There is now an Australian version, and the two hosts have made some combined programmes.

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    3. I admire the people that go for it and build something of their dreams - most of which turn out to be amazing places in which to live.

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  3. Nice post. Although it's fairly obvious there it has been deliberately landscaped I'm still stunned from time to time when I discover a 'beautiful natural oasis' only to find, researching it later, it used to be a grand Elizabethan estate gone wild on former slag heaps or small lochs created from numerous ugly quarries that made the fortunes of the first owners. Hard to comprehend at times how much of the landscape we see today, and largely take for granted, has been improved and altered in the past by massive reconstruction efforts all over the UK.

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    1. We were just talking today about when my father-in-law described how everyone in his village was paid by a wealthy landowner to remove a big hill blocking the view from his house.

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  4. Dear Rosemary, What uplifting scenery and beautiful architecture...and then, the last paragraph. History is fascinating and cruel.

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    1. Dear Gina - despite all the things that go on in the world today that upset us, I think that it is a much more humane place to live than it was centuries ago.

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  5. It amazes me how fabulously wealthy some of these people were. And for some, it just wasn't enough.
    Every time I get all romantic about wishing I lived in a different time in history, something like being hung, drawn and quartered comes along to ruin it for me. Though you could fill volumes with all the other miseries.
    I watched a Netflix documentary called "Filthy Cities". They started with medieval London. You would be amazed!
    Thank you for another GREAT post. I loved it.

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    1. Life was certainly much better for the wealthy who had servants to do the dirty jobs, glass in their windows, and roaring fires. The Bubonic plague spread across London because of the lack of sanitation, and people were very fortunate if they reached the age 40.
      Thanks Catherine, so pleased that you enjoyed the post.

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  6. Good thing Francis died before being hanged, drawn and quartered, the most awful death possible.

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    1. I think perhaps my posts are getting rather maudlin and gloomy - next time perhaps some flowers should be the order of the day.

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    1. I find history fascinating, and also the buildings from our past

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  8. What a fascinating history you've presented in these two posts. Thomas' time in prison must have given him plenty of time to think about how to be creative in the outward expression of his faith. Too bad it bankrupted the family. The buildings are unique follies, indeed.
    I did not realize that during Elizabeth I's reign religious intolerance was still the order of the day.

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    1. Queen Elizabeth adopted an extremely moderate religious policy that brought stability to her realm, but extremism on either side was considered by those who surrounded her to be politically dangerous. Zealous Catholics as well as Puritans and Presbyterians were monitored and sometimes severely punished if they threatened the safety of Queen Elizabeth and her realm, or if their prophesying caused civil unrest.

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  9. The garden lodge and it's location is lovely. It's amazing that over the centuries that is wasn't converted into a home. What a sad end to someone who had such vision. Sarah x

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    1. Being persecuted for much of his adult life must have been awful but his mastery of architecture and hiden codes must have been a source of intellectual satisfaction - many of which still have not been solved today.

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  10. Hi Rosemary,

    How interesting your last two posts are, all the history that goes with this place.
    The lodge and gardens are beautiful and yes, what a sad end to his life.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Happy day
    hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. Hello Carolyn - I have wanted to see these two buildings for a long time so we made a special journey to seek them out. So pleased that you enjoyed them, and I look forward to seeing and hearing about your exciting forthcoming trip.

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  11. A brutal death.
    Interesting read Rosemary and I went and read your links.

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    1. Times were hard in past centuries.

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  12. The history is fascinating ....and the countryside beautiful. I have never heard to these garden mounts. I can Only imagine how much fun these "mountains" would have been for children.

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    1. I had never come across them before either, but loved them

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  13. The vision of beauty and partial realization also. Sorry, but it was not over, and the owner's wits ended up with a cruel death. Regards.

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    1. Thank you for reading Giga - it is rather an epic tale.

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  14. Dearest Rosemary,
    One gets some chills on the spine when walking there and thinking about that era in history... Sad story indeed, even if Sir Thomas Tresham was so eager for leaving some marks, at what costs for him and his family.
    Very sad ending for Francis Tresham as well. And relatively young.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  15. What a beautiful place and what a history. I really love these photos, thanks for sharing.

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  16. I'm very jealous, Rosemary. Both Rushton and Lyveden have been on my list for some time - I had hoped to visit when doing some work round that way a year or three ago, but never got the chance. Great narrative on both - and wonderful photographs! Beautifully clear. One reason things got bad for Catholics was entirely the fault of the Pope, silly man - he issued his 'Regnans in Excelsis' in 1570, excommunicating Liz, effectively declaring open season on killing her and turning every Catholic into a potential traitor.

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  17. I also meant to say that Red Kites seem to be spreading far and wide.

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