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