We shall see, in the next example, another instance of the same commemoration of an advantageous purchase.
Henry divorced Catherine in 1533, three years before the dissolution of the great monasteries began, and her cognisance of the pomegranate would hardly have been introduced later, but Wolsey had fallen in 1529, and by one of the meanest tricks of which a king has ever availed himself, the estates of the clergy were held to be forfeited, by reason of the acknowledgment, by the Church, of Wolsey's legatine authority, although this had been used with the express sanction of the King. It may have been on this pretext, and at this date, that Waltham was seized upon, in lieu of the fines and subsidies by which the Church extricated itself from the royal clutches. If this theory be admitted, we have a probable date between 1529 and 1533 for this Waltham panelling.
Shortly after the dissolution had commenced, in earnest, and monastic property was being surrendered on a wholesale scale, we find Sir Anthony Denny in possession of the Abbey, but on the panelling his arms do not figure anywhere, and there is a strong probability that it was there when he acquired Waltham, possibly by purchase, from Blackett. His son, Sir Edward Denny, partially rebuilt the Abbey, which had fallen into a somewhat ruinous state, in the latter years of the reign of Elizabeth. It appears to have been again rebuilt in 1725, and pulled down in 1760, when these panellings were removed to the house in the town, before referred to.
Fig. 297. Oak Mantel Formerly In The Oak Parlour At Parnham Park, Beaminster. - (Afterwards removed to the Hall). Early sixteenth century. - From Beckingham Hall, in Essex, comes the elaborate panelling shown in Fig. 282
Fig. 298. Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire. - Lord Treasurer Cromwell's chimney-piece on the ground floor. Date about 1424.
Fig. 299. Plaster Panel. - Late-sixteenth-century type.
Morant, in his "History of Essex," Vol. I, p. 390, refers to Tolleshunt Beckingham, which is, obviously, the same house. This, in the reign of King Stephen, was the property of Geffrey de Tregoz, lord of the next parish of Tolleshunt Tregoz, or Darcy, and was given by him to Coggeshall Abbey. It figures in the inventory taken at the dissolution of the Abbey's possessions 5th February, 1538. In Domesday it is referred to as owned by Robert son of Corbutio, a tenant-in-chief in the three eastern counties, " which was held by Sercar as a maner and as 1 hide, is held of R(obert) by Mauger (Malgerus)." It is from this Mauger that the name Tolleshunt Major derives.
In 1538 Henry VIII granted the manor to Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the Duke of Somerset (a statesman whose ambitions brought him to the headsman's block), but Seymour exchanged it with the King after a few years. In 1543 it was granted to Stephen Beckingham and his wife, Anne, and the heirs of Stephen, by the name of Tolleshunt Major, or Tolleshunt Grange. Stephen Beckingham died in 1558 and was buried in the church. Royal grants being usually slow of completion, especially at that period, it is probable that the date 1546, carved in two places on this panel, records the actual year when Beckingham took possession.1 The royal arms of Henry VIII, a quarterly shield on the first and fourth, azure, three fleurs-de-lys in pale, or, on the second and third, gules, three lions passant, in pale, or, crested with a six-barred helmet, affrontee, and as supporters a crowned lion and a winged wyvern, may have been designed with the panels at one of the periods when the house was in Henry's hands, in which case, the carved date would have been added some eight years later, marking the year when the house came into Beckingham's possession. It is not rare, however, to find the royal arms used in the decoration of houses which have never been in the possession of a king, and this may be an instance, especially as the H.R. is reversed, and another coat, probably that of Beckingham, is introduced in the lower central panel. It is probable that the carved date is the true one, and the Royal Arms were inserted as a memento of the gift, or sale of the house. The purchase price, if any, must have been very low, as Henry disposed of the monastic possessions immediately they fell into his hands, and at any price. It has always been difficult to dispose of stolen goods to advantage, and Henry VIII furnished no exception to the rule. The results of his spoils were all dissipated in a few years, and the King had to turn to other sources to furnish the means for his unbounded extravagance.
1 Hence, possibly, the two inscriptions, "Ingratitude is Death" and " He giveth Cirace to the Humble," which appear on the panelling.
Fig. 300. Oak Chimney-Piece. - Removed from a former house of Sir Orlando Bridgman Coventry. - Now in the Refectory at Bablake Schools, Coventry.
Width 8 ft. 1 1/2 ins. outside jambs.
Early seventeenth century.
Fig. 301. Lyme Park, Cheshire, Plaster Overmantel In The Long Gallery.
Fig. 302. Lyme Park, Cheshire. Plaster Overmantel In The Knight's Room.
Fig. 303. Lyme Park, Cheshire. Plaster Overmantel In The Stone Parlour.