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and from private apartments, by a passage, in another ;— and a very important part of the Castle it is, since all the arrangements for the princely hospitality maintained by his Grace, during the winter season, originate in this angle of the Castle. But my notices will necessarily be more brief than they have hitherto been; partly because the subject itself does not admit of extended remarks, and partly because I must confess my inability to describe in proper terms matters of great domestic importance, but appreciable only by those immediately interested in them.


besides great appropriateness to the purpose for which they are destined, have an air of considerable comfort about them. Of the various dinner services under the charge and direction of the housekeeper, some have been noticed in the account of the visit of the Queen Dowager to Belvoir. There is one service, which is estimated next in importance and value to the one which was presented to his Grace by the late Duchess, shortly before her death, and intended as a birthday gift. It is called the Hunting Service. Each piece contains a view of Belvoir Castle, from points of view as varied as the number of pieces; or portraits of distinguished individuals who are, or have been, members of the Belvoir Hunt. I recognised the portraits of his Grace and brothers, and of other gentlemen, whose names I do not feel at liberty to mention, as some of them are placed in ludicrous positions, consequent upon the casualties by flood and field. They are admirably painted, and John Paul, by whom they were presented to his Grace. I was amused at discovering not

good likenesses, by Sir


only the rigid care with which they are preserved, but the especial favour, and that not of frequent occurrence, which his Grace's visitors are taught to consider their permitted It would appear, that when it is the pleasure of the very respectable ruler of these domains, to give an unusual gratification to the guests in the Castle, the hunting service is sent to the table, to the pleasing aid of their digestive powers, if harmless mirth be considered as available to this purpose. But this service deserves the care devoted to it, the several pieces being valuable as works of art; and though so seldom used, many of them have already suffered considerable injury.

Moving straight forward from the housekeeper's apartments, we observe on the right the staircase to the grand corridor; and on the left, a passage which communicates with a suite of apartments, called the Duke of Wellington's, being usually appropriated to the use of his grace, when on a visit to the Castle. In this passage are portraits of the following distinguished characters, friends and companions in arms, during the Seven Years' War :—

Marquis of Granby, over the door communicating with the Wellington apartments.

Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, 1759.

Prince de Lippe Buckbourg, 1759. Before him lies a "Plan del Belaterundt der stat & citadel otmuster command & direction 1750;" and at a distance is represented the battering of a town.

The Hereditary Prince of Brunswick.


occupy, with the passage, &c., the whole of this story of the north-east tower, and are immediately under the Eliza


beth Saloon. They are comfortable rooms, plainly but substantially furnished, with mahogany accessories.

The space between the north-east and Staunton towers is occupied by suites of apartments, which were respectively appropriated to Lady Elizabeth Drummond, and the late Duchess Dowager.

We now enter the most ancient portion of the Castle, viz. the first story of


Thoroton, in his History of Nottinghamshire (p. 156), says "The Stauntons were ever esteemed to hold of the lords of Belvoir by Castleguard;* where Staunton Tower is yet to be found, sufficiently guarded by the strength of its own liquor, with which the bottom of it is usually replenished." What Thoroton has thus quaintly alluded to, is still the fact. The vault of this interesting part of the Castle is now divided into bins, which are capable of containing 16,750 bottles. Mr. Douglas, the respectable guardian (to adapt a phrase of Thoroton's) of this portion of Staunton Tower, represents it as admirably suited to the purpose to which it is applied. The temperature is remarkably equable; seldom varying, all the year round, half a degree from 56°.

There is a tradition in the family, that this cellar is part of the original Castle, built by Robert de Todeni. Some years ago, a description of it was sent to the celebrated antiquary, Francis Douce, Esq. His answer, which is preserved in the Castle, expresses a doubt of the extreme antiquity ascribed to it; the writer cautiously reserving any positive opinion on a subject of which he knew nothing, except by report. As this point, therefore, can scarcely For the nature of this tenure, see page 183.

be said to be decided, the reader is presented with a description from actual observation, and with the author's own inference as to the antiquity.

The roof is a groined vault, intersected with eight plain bevelled ribs, springing from the rock, or floor of the cellar. At the point of intersection is a keystone, on which are rudely sculptured a monogram of Longobardic character, a coronet of fleurs-de-lis and leaves intermixed; surrounded by a belt, consisting of a similar monogram and a rose alternately.

The character of the architecture, and of the rudely sculptured keystone, is, I believe, the foundation of the tradition, that it is Norman work, and most probably by Robert de Todeni. A few simple facts, derived from an attentive consideration of the subject, will show that this remote antiquity can by no means be sustained. Nothing is more deceptive, as regards forming an opinion of the date of its construction, than the architectural character of a vault intended to support a heavy superstructure. The simple principle of the semicircular arch, with groins and ribs, has prevailed with little variation in this kingdom, from the time of the Normans to the present day. The difference between the undercroft of Canterbury cathedral, built in the time of the Conqueror, or soon after, and the crypt of St. Paul's, founded six hundred years subsequently, is so slight in the vaulted part, that it would require a practised eye to detect it. The date of such structures can often be determined only by some accidental features, which were known to prevail at any particular period; such as mouldings, and other ornamental additions, which contribute to the decoration, but not to the essential character of the vault. There is not in the vault of Staunton Tower, a single vestige of the kind of decoration alluded to, except the keystone; the ribs are perfectly

plain, and the same simplicity appears in other portions of the vault. With regard to the keystone, the rudeness of its sculpture is no criterion of its antiquity.

The sculpture of English architecture has not been always progressive. If the Norman sculpture was rude, that of the thirteenth century had attained a perfection of design, and most frequently a gracefulness of execution, which were not sustained in the examples of a later period. The monogram or cypher on the keystone of the Staunton vault, is certainly an M; of a shape very much approaching that of the Longobardic or Saxon character, which continued to be generally used in this country, till the close of the fourteenth century; and was then in a great measure superseded by the old English, or Gothic letter. But the former were retained as capitals, even to the time of Henry VIII.; though in some instances, as in illuminated manuscripts, legal deeds, and monumental inscriptions, highly ornamented. There are many examples of this contemporaneous use of the Saxon and Gothic letters. I will mention one or two, which were in existence a few years ago. In the stained glass of the east window of Loddington church, the architectural character of which is of the latter end of the fourteenth, or the beginning of the fifteenth century, there are several cyphers of Saxon character, one an M, very similar in shape to that on the keystone of Staunton vault,-with others of Gothic character. There was an inscription carved on a piece of wood found behind the wainscot of Stoughton Grange, in the middle of the last century, with the date, 1491; in which there is the same intermixture of Saxon capitals with Gothic letters. The M, in this last instance, is also similar in shape to the cypher on the keystone now under consi


But the most crushing argument against the remote anti

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