Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

Enfield to London

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FROM hence I continued my journey along the great road. Passed by Gobions , in the parish of North Mims , which took its name from the old family of the Gobions , its antient lords, as early as the time of King Stephen .1 The Mores afterwards possessed it for some generations. Sir John , the father of the celebrated Sir Thomas More , owned it in the reign of Henry VII. and it became the residence of that illustrious character till the time of his cruel sacrifice; when the son was stripped of every part of his fortune by the most arbitrary attainders. It reverted again to the family, but the grandson of Sir Thomas , being ruined by the civil wars, sold it to Sir Edward Desborevy . It afterwards came by sale to Mr. Pitchford , and to Sir Jeremiah Sambroke . From his sisters it devolved to Mr. Freeman , of Hummels , and was afterwards sold to the present owner, Mr. Hunter .

NOT far from a place called Potters-bar , (probably from some pottery, such as is still carried on at Woodside, about two miles to the north on the same road) I entered the county of


kept along the edge of Enfield Chace 2 to Hadley ; passed through Cheping Barnet , and, in less than a mile beyond, quitted the great road at Prickler's Hill ; again skirted the Chace, descended Winchmore Hill , and concluded the day's journey at Enfield , the object of this little digression.

THE New River, the work of my illustrious countryman Sir Hugh Middleton 3 (which on the north edge of this parish, for some yards, as till lately at Islington , is conveyed in a trough of wood lined with lead, called The Boarded River , over a brick arch fifteen feet high) was the first object of my attention.

I NEXT visited the antient brick house called Enfield Palace , built by Sir Thomas Lovel , knight of the Garter, and privy counsellor to HenryVII , where he died in 1524.4 It is conjectured that Henry VIII. bought it for a nursery for his children.5 Here Edward VI. received the first news of his father's death, and his own accession. On the chimney-piece of the great parlour are the arms of England in a Garter, supported by a Lion and a Griffin; on the sides, the Rose and Portcullis crowned; with E. R. beneath. These initials are also on the stucco in front of the house.

QUEEN Elizabeth used sometimes to make this place a visit. Robert Gary Earl of Monmouth informs us he once waited on her Highness at Enfield , where she went to take a dinner, and had toiles set up in the park, to shoot at bucks, after she had dined.6

IN the time of the great plague, in 1665, a very flourishing school was kept here by Mr. Uvedale . That gentleman was very fond of gardening, and, among other trees, planted a cedar of Libanus ; which is still in being. The storm of 1703 broke off eight feet from the top. The dimensions of it at present are:

Height 45 feet 9 inches.
Girth at top 3   7  
Second girth 7   9  
Third 10   0  
Fourth 14   6 7

NOT far from hence, on the north side of Four-tree-hill, stood Worcester House, built by the accomplished John Tibetot , or Tiptoft , Earl of Worcester ,8 who was beheaded in 1470. The manor, which still retains his title, descended to him from his father, Sir John Tiptoft . The house was rebuilt on higher ground, by Sir Nicholas Raynton , knight, lord mayor of London in 1640, who died in 1647, and has a splendid monument in Enfield church. The place is now owned by Eliah Breton , Esquire, who married a co-heiress of the Raynton and Wolstenholme families.

I MADE a visit from hence to Waltham Abbey seated in ESSEX, about three miles from Enfield , on the west side of the river Lea . I past by Waltham Cross , one of the affectionate memorials of Edward I. towards his beloved queen Eleanor . The cross is in excellent preservation, and richly adorned with gothic sculpture. This tract is a rich flat of verdant meadows, watered by the Lea, and bounded on each side by gentle risings. The meads belonging to the abbey are distinguished by the name of Halifield, or The holy field.

THE present church of Waltham is only the nave of the antient structure, which was in the form of a cross, with a central tower; the latter fell down after the dissolution, and the new tower was built at one end in 1555. Within are six massy pillars; some carved with spiral, others with zigzag furrows, like those of the nave of Durham cathedral. The arches are round; above them are two rows of galleries, in what is called the Saxon stile. At the east end remains one vast round arch of the tower.

THE only monuments of any note, are those of the Dennies. That of Sir Edward Denny, and Joan his wife, has on it their figures, in a reclined posture; he in armour; in front are the figures of six of their sons and four of their daughters kneeling. Sir Edward was of the privy chamber to Queen Elizabeth; governor of Kerry and Desmonde, and colonel of some Irish forces. He died in 1599, aged about fifty-two, and, I hope, merited this eulogy inscribed on the tomb:

Learn, curious reader, how you pass Your once Sir Edward Denny was
A courtier of the chamber,
A soldier of the field,
Whose tongue could never flatter;
Whose heart could never yealde.

THE tombs of Earl Harold , founder of the abbey; of the famous Hugo Nevill , who slew a lion in the Holy Land, and of several others, are now lost, having perished with the fall of the tower on the eastern part of the church, in which they were placed.9

THE abbey stood near the church. Its only remains are a gate and postern, with the arms of England in the time of Henry III; part of a cloister, and an elliptic bridge over the moat. The edifice was pulled down after the dissolution, the materials applied to building a mansion by Sir Anthony Denny (father of Sir Edward) to whom the place had been granted by Edward VI. His lady afterwards purchased the reversion in fee of Waltham manor, from the same prince, for between three and four thousand pounds, with several large privileges in the adjoining forest.10 This, and the great estate of the family, passed afterwards to the luxurious Hay Earl of Carlisle, by his marriage with the heiress of Edward Denny Earl of Norwich , grandson of Sir Anthony . The fortune was soon dissipated; and the estate sold by their heirs to Sir Samuel Jones of Northamptonshire , who gave it to the Wakes ; it is at present owned by Sir William Wake , baronet.

THE abbey was founded in 1062, by Earl Harold , afterwards king of England . It might more properly be stiled a college, having a dean and eleven secular black canons, who were excellently provided for; six manors being appropriated to the dean, and one to each canon. A copy of the charter of confirmation by Edward the Confessor is preserved by Sir William Dugdale. 11

AFTER the battle of Hastings, Githa , the mother ofHarold , and Osegod , and Ailric by their prayers and tears moved the Conqueror to deliver to them the corpse of the Saxon monarch, and of his brethren Girth and Leofwin , to be interred here. Harold's tomb was of rich grey marble, with a cross fleury on it, and supported by four pedestals.12

Henry II. in 1177, changed the foundation into an abbot and regulars, of the order of St. Austin .13 The first abbot was Walter de Gaunt , who obtained the privileges of the mitre, and of being exempt from episcopal jurisdiction.14

Robert Fuller was the last abbot, who, with seventeen of his religious, resigned the monastery to the king, March 23d, 1540. Their whole number was twenty-four. Their revenue, according to Dugdale , was £ .900. 4s. 3d.; to Speed, £ .1079. 12s. 1d.

THE largest tulip-tree, I believe, in England stands within the abbey precinct; being fourteen feet in circumference near the bottom.

FROM hence, at a distance, on a rising ground, I saw Copthall , once a villa and park belonging to the abbots. Richard I. bestowed the lands on Richard Fitz-Anchor , to hold them in fee, and hereditarily of the abbey. He fixed himself at this seat. At length the abbot became possessed of it, and retained it till the dissolution. Queen Elizabeth granted it to Sir Thomas Heneage , His daughter, afterwards Countess of Winchelsea , sold it to the Earl of Middlesex , in the reign of James I. Charles Earl of Dorset sold it, in 1700, to Thomas Webster , Esquire, created Baronet in 1703: and he sold it to Edward Conyers , Esquire, of Walthamstow , whose grandson, John , is the present possessor.15

RETURNING the same way over the Lea, I could not but reflect on the different appearance this tract now makes, to what it did in the days of King Alfred , when it was navigable for ships to the Thames , and by which the piratical Danish navy came up quite to Hertford . Our great monarch instantly set about frittering this vast water into various small streams; and, to the amazement of the free-booters, left their fleet on dry land.16 At present a useful canal passes along the country.

CLOSE to Cheshunt stood the magnificent palace of Theobalds , built by lord treasurer Burleigh . When James I. came from Scotland to take possession of the English throne, on May 3d, 1603, he was received here by the lords of the privy council, and was most sumptuously entertained by the owner, Sir Robert Cecil , afterwards Earl of Salisbury. James fell in love with the place, obtained it from Cecil in exchange for Hatfield , enlarged the park, and inclosed it with a brick wall ten miles in circuit: it was resigned to the king and queen, on the 22d of May 1607. A poetical entertainment was made on the occasion, by Ben Jonson , and suitable scenery invented, in all probability by Inigo Jones .17 The Genius of the place is at first very anxious about her lot; at last is reconciled to it by Mercury and the Fates, and the piece concludes with a most flattering chorus.18 James was particularly fond of this palace, and finished his days here in 1625. In 1651, the greatest part of this magnificent place (so particularly described by Hentzner ) was pulled down, and the plunder given to the soldiers. The small remains (such as the room in which the king died, and a portico with the painting of the genealogical tree of the house of Cecil) were demolished in 1765, by the present owner, George Prescot , Esquire, who leased out the site to a builder, and erected a handsome house for himself a mile south of it; so that its memory is only preserved by the picture in the possession of Earl Poulet , at Hinton St. George ; and the description, from Lord Burleigh's own hand-writing, preserved in Murden's State Papers .19

I RETURNED by Enfield , pursued the direct road to London , passed by Tottenham High Cross (so called from a wooden cross formerly placed on a little mount) and in a short time joined my friends, in the great metropolis.


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1 Salmon's Herts , 46.

2 This chace was inclosed by act of parliament in 1779; and of the 8000 acres whereof it consisted, 2584 were appropriated to the use of the Crown, and the residue divided between the four adjoining parishes of Enfield, Edmonton, Hadley , and South Mims .

3 See some account of it in my Welsh Tour , vol. ii. p. 29. ed. 1810. vol. ii. p. 152.

4 Camden, . i. 398.

5 See the Antiquarian Repertory , ii. 231; where a print of this palace is given. It is now divided into several dwellings.

6 His Memoirs , 2d edit. p. 136.

7 See the ingenious account of cedars planted in England, by my respected friend the Reverend Sir John Callum, bart. Gent. Mag . 1779, p. 138.

8 Norden's Middlesex, 19.

9 Weever , 644.

10 Fuller's Hist. Waltham Abbey , 13.

11 Monast . ii. 11.

12 Fuller's Waltham , 7.

13 Tanner , 119.

14 Willis , i. 191.

15 The late Mr. Conyers took down the old house (of which a print may be seen in Farmer's History of Waltham Abbey) and built the present on a higher site, about thirty years ago. The beautiful east window in St. Margaret's church at Westminster , came originally from the chapel of this old mansion.

16 Saxon Chr. 90. Chr. J. Bromton, 813.

17 Tour in Wales, ii, 142.

18 Ben Jonson's Works , v. 226.

19 Mr. Gough's Br. Topogr . i. 426.

Thomas Pennant, The Journey from Chester to London (London: Wilkie and Robinson, 1811)

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