THE RUFFORD EXCURSION.
THE second excursion of the Thoroton Society took place 21st April, 1898, the destination being Rufford Abbey. About seventy members and their friends assembled. Those present included:—The Revs. Canon Cator, R. J. Burton, F. Brodhurst, T. W. Swann, S. C. Furmston, H. L. Williams, G. W. Oxenham, J. J. Stockley, T. B. Chamberlain, Mrs. Thorpe, Mrs. Thorold, Mr. J. Linney, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. White, Mr. C. Brown (Newark), Mr. T. M. Blagg, Mr. Jarvis, Mr. F. A. Wadsworth, Mr. W. T. Tucker, Mr. F. R. Pickerill, Mr. G. Fellows, J.P., Mr. S. Page, Mr. A. V. Machin, Mr. W. Scorer, Mr. T. K. Gordon, Mr. G. D. Laing, Mr. G. Chicken, Mr. H. Ashwell, J.P., Mr. R. Mellors, Mr. J. Mackie, Mr. J. T. Spalding, J.P., Mr. R. White, Mr. W. Wells, Mr. G. Harrison, Mr. E. M. Kidd, Mr. W. Stevenson, Mr. W. Bradshaw, Mr. W. P. W. Phillimore, and the Rev. J. Standish (joint hon. secretaries).
A start was made from Mansfield at half-past ten, the route taken being by the Market Place, Church Street, and Bridge Street. The ancient rock houses along the road side attracted considerable interest, but the length of the day's programme did not admit of the members alighting to inspect them. The first halt was made at Clipstone, less than two miles from Mansfield, for the purpose of viewing the ruins of King John's palace. All that now remains of the once famous residence is a pile of thick rugged walls, perforated with what were once windows. The ruins are situated in a field adjoining the high road, and in order to get to them the visitors had to traverse the path of a cottage garden and climb a substantial stile. King John came to Mansfield between the years 1200 and 1216, and had a residence at Clipstone. It was here also that Richard Coeur de Lion received the congratulations of the Scotch King on his return from the Crusades. King Edward I. held a Parliament here, and it was from this place that Queen Eleanor, when seized with her fatal illness, was removed to Harby. Thoroton says the original palace was destroyed by fire, and was rebuilt in 1220 during the reign of Henry III. Several of the royal grants to Nottingham and elsewhere are dated from this palace. In comparatively recent times immense cellars and extensive foundations existed near the ruins, and not far distant from them is the famous Parliament Oak. Standing near the remnants of the palace, Mr. Phillimore read the following notes on Clipstone, compiled by Mr. R. White, of Worksop, from Close roll and other records in the Public Record Office :—
16 John (1215), the Sheriff of Nottingham ordered to provide payments for two chaplains at Clipstone and Harstane, ministering there for the soul of Henry II. 5 Henry III. (1220), the Sheriff of Nottingham to be paid £7 0s. 8d., which he has laid out in repairing the great pool and the mill and the palisade round our houses at Clipston. 7 Henry III. (1223), repairs ordered in our chamber at Clipston. 18 Edward I. (1290), the King spent from September 19th to 23rd at Clipston, and again from the 12th October and 11th November, during one of which sojourns he heard two pleas of justice in what the rolls call the Parliament, which could only have been a council of his nobility, and not a general assembly of that nature usually called a Parliament. In those days the courts were itinerary, and followed the King wherever he might be. 18 Edward I., Thomas de Normanvill to have six oaks in Shirwood Forest fit for timber to repair the King's pool (stagnum), 27 Edward I. Richard I. Richard de Havering, warden of the King's manor of Clipston, to have 20 oaks fit for timber in Shirwood Forest, to repair the King's houses. 1 Edward II., the King spent a week here in September. 9 Edward II., the King spent the whole of November and great part of December and all January, when he went to Lincoln, and stayed there till the 27th February, when he again returned to Clipstone for a fortnight. 10 Edward II. He spent many days here in December and January. 12 Edward II. He was here again in the month of September. 15 Edward II. The houses within the King's manor of Clipston are to have all the repairs they want under the superintendence of Thomas Atte Mark, the King's bailiff of that manor. 19 Edward II. The house and walls of the King's manor of Clipston are to have all the repairs they want. The chaplain celebrating divine service daily in the chapel of the manor of Clipstone has five marcs a year. Thomas Atte Mark, the King's bailiff of the manor and custos of the Pele (Pelae nostrae) there, has threepence a day, and Roger de Warsop, custos of the paling round the King's park has two pence a day. 1 Edward III, In recompense of the loss which the men and tenants of the town of Kings-clipston have sustained by the enclosure made by Edward II. of the wood anciently called "Clipston Park," the King grants them common pasture for their cattle and in Birkeland in Sherwood Forest. 2 Edward III. The King granted to Robert de Clipstone the custody of his manor and park of Clipstone, the manor to be kept up at the King's expense ; the paling of the park at the said Robert's, having wood out of the park for that purpose and sevenpence a day for himself, the Park-keepers, and the makers of the pales. 2 Henry IV. The manor of Clipstone granted to George Dunbar, Earl of March, for life.
Resuming their seats in the vehicles, the members drove direct to Rufford Abbey. The principal approach to Rufford Abbey is by the lodge on the Nottingham Road. A handsome stone gateway opens on a fine avenue of limes, through which the west front of the house is visible. Lord Savile, the present owner of the Abbey, has recently published in the Pall Mall Magazine, April 1898, an illustrated article on the historical and structural features of the Abbey of Rufford. He states that at the commencement of the 12th century it was the fee of Gilbert de Gaunt, a grandson of Gislebert de Gaunt, who was a nephew of William the Conqueror. On his deathbed this Gilbert granted Rufford to a colony of Cistercian monks from Rievaulx. When Henry VIII. swept away the abbeys of England Rufford was given by him to George, fourth Earl of Shrewsbury. The Stuarts were frequent visitors at Rufford. During the Commonwealth it was one of the places appointed for the rendezvous of persons disaffected to the Government. The large cedar on the lawn was planted by Charles II. during one of his visits to Rufford. Sir William Savile, the third baronet, was the leader of the Royalist forces in Yorkshire during the troublous times of the civil war. He was appointed, in 1643, Governor and Commander-in-chief of the town and Castle of Sheffield, but died the following year. His widow was a daughter of Lord Keeper Coventry, and her eldest son, Sir George Savile, was created Lord Savile, then Viscount, and later Marquis of Halifax. Lord Halifax married first, Dorothy Spencer, daughter of the Earl of Sunderland. After the death of Dorothy, Lady Halifax, in 1670, Lord Halifax endeavoured to find distraction in public life, and for a short time represented Great Britain as Minister at the Hague. In 1674 his second marriage took place, to Gertrude Pierrepont, daughter of William Pierrepont, of Thoresby, and grand-daughter of the first Earl of Kingston. Lord Halifax died in 1695, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. He was succeeded by his son Lord Elan, who married a daughter of the Earl of Nottingham, but leaving no son the marquisate became extinct, and his cousin, Sir John Savile, succeeded to the estates and the baronetcy. The eighth and last baronet was the celebrated Sir George Savile, who in five successive Parliaments represented the county of York. He died unmarried in 1784. His sister Barbara Savile married, in the chapel of Rufford, Richard, fourth Earl of Scarbrough, and to their younger son, John Lumley-Savile, Sir George bequeathed his Rufford and Yorkshire estates. Mr. Lumley-Savile ultimately succeeded to the earldom of Scarbrough, and was the great-grandfather of the present owner. George IV., when Prince of Wales, paid a visit to Rufford. The west or decayed front of the old abbey has quaint gables and mullioned windows. The carriage drive connects by means of a bridge with a fine stone portal, with twisted columns, the door opening on a lobby of carved oak panels, with a collection of curious old weapons and armour.