Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2008

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Wheston Hall

ARE there no vestiges left? Are even the spots unknown where the Tideswell residences of tile Daniels, Meverells, and Foljambes stood? These families had acquired a provincial celebrity, while this ilk was a berewick of Hope. Indeed, the Daniels were Lords of the Manor (in soccage, if not in capité), before parochial dignity was attained; the Foljambes were knights of the shire, and the Meverells “were a very ancient house of gentlemen”. The last of the Tideswell Foljambes had a grandfather who acquired Walton, yet there is no difficulty in tracing the actual position of his homestead; the Meverells were of Trowley, in Staffordshire, as far back as King John (1203), yet the actual spot on which their Trowley Hall stood is known, but we search Tideswell in vain (less the Church with its brasses, and monuments to their memory) to find even the probable site of their Peak domicile. We are by no means satisfied that all vestiges are gone. Within this parish there are the two Manors of Wormhill and Litton. The ancestorial Peak homestead of the Foljambes was at Wormhill! its position is a myth; the Daniels were particular favourites of King John, for the Hundred Rolls say that he gave them Taddington, Buxton, and Priestcliffe “for five marks, to be paid annually at the Peak Castle”, but whether these lords of Tideswell lived within their lordship cannot be dug out. With the knightly house of Litton the case is different: Some seven or eight years ago their Hall, which they disposed of in 1597, and in which the Apostle of the Peak was born, was standing, and would be yet, but the despicable taste of these days replaced it by a structure of nondescript architecture. We have long been convinced that around Tideswell there are vestiges of historic mansions once held by the Foljambes or other famous families; no doubt with every trace of their splendour gone, with every indignity heaped upon them possible, with all recognition effaced by modern additions and appearances. Among the public-houses of Tideswell our assumption may yet be verified. Not so far from the Church there is an edifice - rude and dishonoured - with some slight evidence of Gothic workmanship, with traces, anyway, of an architecture prior to Elizabethan. It is still designated (although now used as a cowhouse) as the Old Hall. Tradition has it that it was the Hall of the Guild, which the Foljambes founded in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II.

The history of the descent of the Manor of Tideswell yet remains to be written, says Dr. Cox. True, but will the compilers face it? Do not even the Hundred Rolls and other national records contradict each other as to its possession? At the Survey it was Royal Demesne, and afterwards given to the Peverells. “King John gave the Manor of Tiddeswell”, says the Hundred Rolls (1274), “to Thomas de Lameley, from him it descended to Monechias, his son, who had two daughters, one of whom died without issue; the other, Paulina, married De Paunton, who held all the manor. He afterwards sold it to Richard Daniel, and from him it descended to John Daniel, who is the present owner”. Now Lysons, whose facts are taken from the Chart: Rot: and De Warranto, says “King John granted it in 1205 to Thomas Armiger and his heirs. It is probable that it passed by female descent to the Bramptons, who had the grant of a market in 1250. The Daniels, to whom the manor was confirmed by King Edward I., in 1304, are stated to have been the representatives of Thomas Armiger, above mentioned”. The assertions of Lysons have been recapitulated by Dr. Cox. Were Thomas Armiger and Thomas de Lameley the same person? Was the manor in moieties from the bequest of John until it came to the Meverells?? The Bramptons and De Paunton could have held together, particularly if Brampton was the

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The poor creature outlived her persecutors, though her ashes, in 1600, were laid in the same vault, at Chesterfield, with those from whom she had suffered so much. Among the curiosities of the Foljambe pedigree (and there are several) is this lady's husband's first marriage with Alice Fitzwilliam. They both sprang from the Sir Godfrey and his wife, Avena Ireland, who founded the Bakewell chantry; but in this case there are eight descents, and in the other six, so whether she stood in the relationship of a grandmother or granddaughter we are at a loss to conceive. From a letter written by Fomenay to Queen Mary of Scots (15th August, 1584), we gather there were two sons of this real old Derbyshire house who lost their estates from their services to that unfortunate woman, had to fly to France, and were destitute of resource:- “Monsieur Fuljambe et son beau frere doibvent partir d'icy dans quatre jours pour s'en alter en France, ou ilz n'ont aucun moyen de vivre sans la bonté el liberalité de votre Majesté pour de laquelle ilz ont perdu tous leurs biens”. The Sir Godfrey Foljambe, buried at Bakewell, 1377, was a personage of much greater distinction than many of us are aware of. From a recently-published work on the bigwigs of the realm during the last eight hundred years, we gather he was puisne justice of King's Bench in 1344; from the reports of the Historical Manuscripts Commission we learn he was steward to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1374, for on the Chamberlain's Account for that year (46-47 Edward III.) there is this entry: “XVI. d. paid for wine and spices spent on Godfrey do Folcham, the Duke of Lancaster's steward”.

In the little village of Wheston, about a mile north-west of Tideswell, there is an old edifice which, apart from its historical associations, would rivet the attention of anyone whose mind was prone to superstition. Without a knowledge of the dark tradition with which it is linked, its appearance occasions a feeling of uncomfortableness, for which there is no reason to be assigned. So entirely ignored is this homestead that after having waded through about forty different guides to the Peak of Derbyshire, we found four lines recording its position in Bakewell and its Vicinity, by Mr. Andreas Edward Cokayne. We immediately remembered that Lysons has a similar entry. Being determined to find out something concerning the building, or its past tenants, we glanced through a copy of Tideswell Registry, and behold our reward.

There was a Freeman living at the Hall two hundred years ago; which fact reminded us that the Freemans married with the Alens, who were here in the Middle Ages, while, in the list of the Peak gentry for the year 1570, there is the entry of Thurston Allen, of Wheston. Moreover, the registers give us the positive information that one, of the name of Charlotte, married the niece and heiress of the Freemans, and resided there. The east wing of the Hall presents the funniest appearance we remember for a long time. The upper windows are Elizabethan, but that of bad workmanship, the others are early Georgian, their positions being simply grotesque, every one differently distanced from the other, and of different size. Why no one seems to know anything of Wheston Hall is curious, if from this fact only. Beneath lie Blackwell, Tunstead, Chee Tor, and the Dales, and yet grass grows in the lanes that admit to such a beautiful view. The tradition of Wheston Hall is, that once every year, the ghost of a lady passes “three times round the house, barefooted, in her nightgown, shrieking and tearing her golden hair”. She had been married to a man she detested, and he whom she loved had retired to Wheston, seeking in literature and quietude, peace for a broken heart. The villagers said his visitors had cloven feet and tails, or in short were devils with whom he dealt. One day this lady turned up at the Hall, having forsaken here husband, and at Wheston Hall she stopped. But her liege lord found her, and - well, he was never known to leave again. There was a grave newly made in the orchard, it was said; anyway, there was murder. This lady died at the Hall, and was buried at Tideswell. The distance is rather a good one for a stroll in a nightgown.

The last of the Alens, of Wheston, died about 1700, and devised all his estates, with the Hall, to his nephew, John Boden, a child of tender age, but the Freemans, by some legal process, dispossessed the boy and left them “to the Maxwells, of Meir, County Stafford (one son and three daughters), who all, severally, had the possession of it, but all died childless; whereupon Wheston Hall, devolved, according to Freeman's Will, upon Harry Howard, of Sheffield (no relation), whose son, the (twelfth) Duke of Norfolk, sold it”.

We would just direct the attention of the lovers of Derbyshire history to three facts, which are sufficient to induce them to find out something more about Wheston Hall. The Charltons were descendants, maternally, of the princely house of Powys Wenwynwyn; the Stathams played a memorable part when Liberty and Loyalty had their terrible fight; the Alens, or Alleyns, were relatives of the famous Lord Mayor; and yet the position of this old edifice, associated with such names, alike dear to the antiquarian and historical scholar, is scarcely known to men living within five miles from its portals.

Extract from Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire, 1892.
Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in March 2008.

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