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STAFFORDSHIRE hath Cheshire on the north-west; Derbyshire on the east and north-east; Warwick and Worcester-shires on the south; and Shropshire in the west. It lieth from north to south in form of a lozenge, bearing forty in the length from the points thereof, whilst the breadth in the middle exceeds not twenty-six miles.
A most pleasant county: for, though there be a place therein still called Sinai park (about a mile from Burton), at first so named by the abbot of Burton, because a vast, rough, hilly ground, like the wilderness of Sinai in Arabia ;* yet this, as a small mole, serves for a foil to set off the fair face of the county the better.
Yea, this county hath much beauty in the very solitude thereof; witness Beau-Desert, or the Fair Wilderness, being the beautiful barony of the lord Paget:
"And if their deserts have so rare devices:
Indeed most fruitful are the parts of this shire above the banks of Dove; butchers being necessitated presently to kill the cattle fatted thereupon, as certainly knowing that they will fall in their flesh, if removed to any other pasture, because they cannot but change to their loss.
The best ALABASTER in England (know, reader, I have consulted with curious artists in this kind) is found about CastleHay in this county. It is but one degree beneath white marble, only more soft and brittle. However, if it lie dry fenced from weather, and may be let alone, long the during thereof. Witness the late statue of John of Gaunt in Paul's, and many monuments made thereof in Westminster, remaining without break or blemish to this day. I confess Italy affords finer alabaster (whereof those imagilets wrought at Leghorn are made), which indeed apes ivory in the whiteness and smoothness thereof. But such alabaster is found in small bunches and little propor
* Burton's Description of Leicestershire, p. 119.
tions: it riseth not (to use the language of workmen) in great blocks, as our English doth. What use there is of alabaster calcined in physic, belongs not to me to dispute. Only I will observe, that it is very cool, the main reason why "Mary put her ointment so precious into an alabaster box ;** because it preserved the same from being dried up, to which such liquors in hot countries were very subject.
These are the accommodators generally to unite solid bodies, and to make them to be continuous: yea, coin of gold and silver may be better spared in a commonwealth than nails; for commerce may be managed without money by exchange of commodities, whereas hard bodies cannot be joined together so fast, and fast so soon and soundly, without the mediation of nails.
Such their service for firmness and expedition, that iron nails will fasten more in an hour than wooden pins in a day, because the latter must have their way made, whilst the former make way for themselves.
Indeed there is a fair house on London bridge, commonly called None-such, which is reported to be made without either nails or pins, with crooked tenons fastened with wedges and other (as I may term them) circumferential devices. This, though it was no labour in vain, because at last attaining the intended end, yet was it no better than a vain labour according to the rule in logic, "Frustra fit per plura quod fieri potest per pauciora." But seeing the owner of that house had his harmless humour therein, and paid dear, no doubt, to his workmen for the same; there is no cause that I or any other should find fault there
I have presented the portraiture of the church of Lichfield in my "Church History," with the due praise of the neatness thereof. But now, alas! the body thereof is become a very carcase, ruined in our late civil wars. The like fate is likely to fall on the rest of our cathedrals, if care be not taken for their reparations.
I have read of duke d'Alva, that he promised life to some prisoners; but, when they petitioned him for food, he returned, "he would grant them life, but no meat;" by which criticism of courteous cruelty the poor people were starved. If our cathedrals have only a bare being, and be not supplied with seasonable repairs (the daily food of a fabric) soon will they be famished to nothing.†
• Matthew xxvi. 7. Mark xiv. 3. Luke vii. 37.
This note, written in bad times, seven years since, I thought not fit to put
As for the Close at Lichfield, I have been credibly informed, that the plague (which long had raged therein), at first shooting of the cannon at the siege thereof, did abate, imputed by naturalists to the violent purging of the air by the bullets; but by divines to God's goodness, who graciously would not have two miseries of war and plague afflict one small place at the same time.
Pass we now to Civil buildings in this shire.
TUTBURY CASTLE is a stately place; and I dare take it on the credit of an excellent witness, that it hath a brave and large prospect (to it, in it, and from it); northward it looks on pleasant pastures; eastward on sweet rivers and rich meadows; southward on a goodly forest, and many parks (lately no fewer than twelve) belonging thereto or holden thereof. It was formerly the seat of the Lord Ferrars earl of Derby; and how it was forfeited to the crown is worth our observing.
Robert de Ferrars earl of Derby, siding with Simon Montford against king Henry the Third, was fined at fifty thousand pounds, to be paid pridie Johannis Baptistæ† next following. I know not whether more to admire at the suddenness of payment, or vastness of the sum: seeing an hundred thousand pounds was the ransom set by the Emperor on our king Richard the First; and it shaked all the coffers of England in that age (without the help of church plate to make it up). Well, these lords following were the security bound for the earl's true payment at the time appointed:
1. Henry, son to Richard king of the Romans; 2. William Valence earl of Pembroke; 3. John de Warren earl of Surrey; 4. William Beauchamp earl of Warwick; 5. Sir Roger de Somery; 6. Sir Thomas de Clare; 7. Sir Robert Walrond; 8. Sir Roger Clifford; 9. Sir Hamond le Strange; 10. Sir Bartholomew de Sudeley; 11. Sir Robert Bruse; all being then barons of the land.
But earl Robert, unable to advance the money at the time appointed, and unwilling to leave the lords, his bail, under the king's lash, surrendered his lands (and Tutbury castle amongst the rest) to the clear yearly value of three thousand pounds into the king's hands; redeemable, when he or his heirs should pay down on one day fifty thousand pounds; which was never performed.
The English clergy much pitied John the son of this earl Robert, who presented a petition to the Pope, informing his Holiness, that the English clergy were willing to give him money by way of contribution to redeem his estate, but durst not, because commanded to the contrary under the pain of the Pope's curse; and therefore he craved his apostolical indulgence
Something I find was restored unto him; but Tutbury was
Sampson Erdeswicke, in his manuscript survey of this shire. † Idem, ibidem.
too sweet a morsel to return, being annexed to the Duchy of Lancaster. John of Gaunt built a fair castle there, walled on three sides by art, and the fourth by its natural steepness.
BUILDINGS - PROverbs.
DUDLEY CASTLE must not be forgotten, highly and pleasantly seated; and in the reign of king Edward the Sixth well built, and adorned by John Dudley duke of Northumberland, whereon a story worth the reporting doth depend.
The aforesaid duke, deriving himself (how truly not yet decided) from a younger branch of the lord Dudley, thirsted after this castle, in regard of the name and the honourableness of the house, some having avouched that the barony is annexed to the lawful possession thereof, whether by purchase or descent.* Now finding John Sutton the lord Dudley (grandfather to the last baron) a weak man, exposed to some wants, and entangled with many debts, he, by the help of those money-merchants, wrought him out of his castle. So that the poor lord, turned out of doors, and left to the charity of his friends for subsistence, was commonly called the lord Quondam. But, after the execution of that duke, queen Mary, sympathizing with Edward the son of this poor lord (which Edward had married Katharine Bruges her maid of honour and sister to the lord Chandois), restored him to the lands and honour which justly belonged to his father.
"In April,† Dove's flood
Dove, a river parting this and Derbyshire, when it overfloweth its banks in April, is the Nilus of Staffordshire, much battling the meadows thereof.
But this river of Dove, as overflowing in April, feeds the meadows with fruitfulness; so in May and June chokes the sand grained with grit and gravel, to the great detriment of the owners thereof.
Where God came never."+]
It is time that this old profane proverb should die in men's mouths for ever. I confess, in common discourse, God is said to come to what he doth approve; to send to what he only permits; and neither to go nor send to what he doth dislike and forbid. But this distinction, it granted, will help nothing to the defending of this profane proverb, which it seems took its wicked original from the situation of Wotton, so covered with hills from the light of the sun, a dismal place, as report repre
Mr. Dugdale, in his Illustration of Warwickshire, in the Catalogue of the Earls of Warwick.-F.
† Camden's Britannia, in this county.
senteth it. But were there a place indeed where God came never, how many years' purchase would guilty consciences give for a small abode therein, thereby to escape Divine justice for their offences!
Authors do as generally agree about a grand massacre committed by the Pagans under Dioclesian on the British Christians in the place where Lichfield now standeth: I say, they as generally agree in the fact, as they disagree in the number: some making them two hundred, others five, others seven. And one author (certainly he was no Millennary in his judgment) mounts them to just 999. Indeed many were martyred in those days, both in Britain and elsewhere, whose names and numbers are utterly unknown; so true is the expression of Gregory the Great,* "Ipsi sancti martyres Deo numerabiles, nobis arenam multiplicati sunt, quia quot sint à nobis comprehendi non possunt: novit enim eos tantum ille, qui (ut habet Psalmus cxxvi.) numerat multitudinem stellarum, et omnibus eis nomina vocat."
ST. BERTELIN was a Briton of a noble birth, and led an eremitical life in the woods near Stafford,† anciently called Bethiney (contracted, it seems, for Bertiliney); something of solitariness still remaining in his memory, as being so alone, it hath no memorable particulars of his accounts to accompany it.
WOLFADUS-RUFFINUS.-It was pity to part them, seeing they were "loving in their lives, and in their death they were not divided." They were sons to Wolferus, the Pagan king of Mercia and a tyrant to boot, who, hating Christianity, and finding these twins to profess privately to practise it, was so enraged, that nothing but their blood would quench his anger. Wolfadus was taken, and martyred at Stone in this county; whilst his younger (if not twin brother) Ruffinus came little more behind him at his death, than he started before him at his birth; seeking to hide himself in a woody place (where since the chapel of Burnweston hath been built§) was there by his Herod-father found out and murdered. They were by succeeding ages rewarded with reputation of saintship. This massacre happened anno domini
REGINALD POLE was born at Stoverton castle in this county,
In his 27th Homily in Evang.
+ Camden and Speed, their descriptions of this country.
S Sampson Erdeswicke, MS.
Wolfhere was king of Mercia from 659 to 675.-ED.
2 Sam. i. 23.