Thursday, 4 November 2010

Little Hadham, Hertfordshire

I um and err about St Cecilia but think I come down on the positive side due to, as so often, it's location. It's a funny church - nice tower with mandatory Hertfordshire spike, crap nave with a great porch and a nicely proportioned chancel set amidst fields with the A120 running past and a tranquil graveyard if you ignore the traffic and planes.

Built in the late 14th and early 15th century, St Cecelia’s probably stands on the site of an earlier church that fell within the bounds of the manor of Hadham Hall.

The Saxon lords who first owned the manor also owned the advowson of the parish i.e. they had the right to appoint the clergyman to it, but this changed in 1086 when the Baud family held the manor, and they appointed the clergy. This continued until 1276 when Sir Walter Baud sold the advowson to the Bishop of London for the sum of £20. The family still maintained a close association with the church and possibly paid for its rebuilding in the late Middle Ages - the church that stands today. Many of the Baud family are buried here.

The Capel family who bought the manor in 1504 also established a close association with the church, enlarging it in the late 16th century by building the north transept. An ancient footpath that leads from Hadham Hall directly to the transept’s east door, suggests it was purpose built for use by the numerous employees of the mansion, which Capel rebuilt to coincide with Elizabeth I’s visit in 1578.

The Capel family vault, originally under the altar, was opened in 1883 during restoration work and the two memorial slabs in memory of Arthur Capel, his wife and son, were moved to their present position either side of the altar.

In 1632 Hadham Hall was inherited by Arthur Capel, who made many additions and alterations to the property, including the building of a Banqueting Hall that fully enclosed the courtyard to form a quadrangle, and an Italian garden. This he embellished with four fountains, classical statues, and a large terrace overlooking the deer park and woods. It was around this time that the Capel family portrait was painted by Cornelius Johnson and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

In 1633 Arthur Capel bought nearby Wickham Hall Manor and its farm, and in 1640 became an MP for Hertfordshire. The crowning glory to his prosperity and nobility came in 1641 when Charles I made him Baron of Hadham. However, in the following years an ever-increasing divide between Charles I and Parliament eventually led to civil war and, ultimately, the end of Arthur Capel's time at Hadham Hall.

The property then passed to his son, also Arthur, who lived in the premises until 1668 when he moved to his mother's estate at Cassiobury. There he led a busy and controversial political life but Hadham Hall soon fell into disrepair, possibly due to the cost of the Civil War or perhaps because of the Plague that raged in Bishop's Stortford and the surrounding area at that time.

When Arthur Capel died in 1683, the deer were taken from Hadham Park to Epping Forest, the house partly converted into a farmhouse and the estate itself was divided up into three farms. The Banqueting Hall was then demolished and the building materials probably used to build two new farmhouses needed at Wickham Hall and Hadham Old Park Lodge. The Capel family retained the house during this time and in April 1698 entertained King William II to lunch on his return to London from the royal residence at Newmarket. Around 1720, that part of the building which remained was modernised in Queen Anne style, and some rooms were reserved for the earl's own use when visiting his estate. Up until the start of the 20th century, Hadham Hall was farmed by a series of tenants including the Scott, Sworder and Betts families.

Finally, in 1900, George Devereux de Vere Capel, the 8th Earl of Essex, sold the Hall and accompanying land, which by that time had more than doubled in acreage, to William Minet (1851–  1933), a London merchant of French descent. Family tradition has it that in 1686 his ancestor, Issac Minet, a Huguenot, had fled religious persecution in France by rowing himself and his family across the channel to seek refuge in England. Like many Huguenots who escaped to England the Minets grew prosperous, and in 1770 Hughes Minet bought land in Camberwell and Lambeth. By the mid 1800s his London land had vastly increased in value and, by inheritance, eventually came to his great grandson, William. He bought Hadham Hall and the manor, along with records of its Courts from 1492 onwards and many other documents to do with its history. Using this information he set about restoring the existing buildings to their former state.

Two brick-built barns were left standing but wooden barns, cattle sheds and stables were demolished. Three new cottages (Stable Cottages) and a stable were built and a new north wing was added to the mansion, albeit only half the length of its predecessor. Numerous alterations were carried out within the house and William Minet, who was his own architect, attempted to blend the restoration and rebuilding as closely as possible with the original. He did add his own mark by including the Minet cat – a French pun on his family name – in newly created niches on the outside of the building. A stain glass window was also added recording the family's time spent at Hadham Hall. Although the grounds were occupied by troops in both World Wars, the house remained with the Minet family until 1948 when it was then sold to Hertfordshire County Council. They took the brave and experimental step of converting Hadham Hall into a co-educational school at a cost of £65,000.

Its catchment area was Bishop's Stortford and the large rural community surrounding it, and in September 1952 it opened with 142 pupils. By June 1953 that number had increased to 172, including 14 boarders.

The school's official opening was later that year on Friday 23 October, carried out by Mr David Carter, Chairman of the Hertfordshire branch of the National Farmers Union. In his speech he said he hoped that such an establishment would encourage pupils to follow rural and agricultural pursuits.

While still preserving the features of the old house, every part of Hadham Hall was utilised: the gatehouse provided storage and workshop accommodation for the school and its associated farming activities, while the tithe barn housed the school's theatre and main assembly hall. The house itself became home for the headmaster and dormitories were created for the schools boarders. Classrooms within were oak panelled with beamed ceilings and additional modern, single storey classrooms were built in the grounds where livestock roamed freely. The once formal Italian garden was turned into a hockey pitch.

The school survived for 38 years until Hertfordshire County Council decided there were not enough children in the area to justify the expense of keeping it open. On Friday 20 July 1990 the school closed and merged with Margaret Dane school in Bishop's Stortford to form the new Birchwood High.

The listed house, out-buildings and 40 acres of land was then put on the market for £3 million.

In Little Hadham church is a memorial stone to Arthur, Lord Capel, who was executed for treason and hanged on March 9th 1649. A staunch Royalist during the Civil War, he was sent to the Tower of London after being captured by Parliamentarians. He escaped but was re-arrested.

One of his last requests was for his heart to be buried with King Charles I. The Bishop of Winchester preserved it in a silver box and gave it to Charles 11 when he was restored to the throne.

It's believed the King sent it to Capel's son, the first Earl of Essex because in 1703 a heart in a silver box was found at Hadham Hall. It was transferred to Cassiobury, near Watford, where the family later lived, but its whereabouts since are unknown.

Hadham Hall was the family home of the Capels, who became the Earls of Essex under Charles II. The Hall is in fact the entrance range of an Elizabethan house which was built around a large courtyard. Queen Elizabeth I once stayed there.

Between the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the year 1900, just two families owned Hadham Hall –   the Bauds and the Capels. The former built the first and second Hall while the latter, who purchased the second Hall in 1504 and then built the third Hall, began an ownership that added colour to its long history.

In Bishop's Stortford's library there is a book, written in the 1930s, called Twenty Centuries of England Being the Annals of Bishop's Stortford by W. Basil Worsefold. In it are fascinating details of people and events that helped shaped the town's and surrounding area's history, and included is Hadham Hall. Strictly speaking, Hadham Hall doesn't fall within the town's boundary, but there have always been tenuous links with Stortford and it would be a loss not to relate W. Basil Worsefold's text to a wider audience.

The author did much research and was fortunate enough to have met and talked with the last owner of Hadham Hall, William Minet, who disclosed many interesting facts about its past. Added to Worsefold's text is part of the content of a small book held in the British Museum, called: 'Excellent Contemplations, Divine and Moral, Written by the Magnanimous and truly Loyal Arthur Lord Capel, Baron of Hadham'. The title page goes on: Together with some Account of his Life, and his Letters to several Persons, whilst he was Prisoner in the Tower vigorously asserting the Royal Cause against all the Enemies thereof. Likewise his affectionate Letters to his Lady the Day before his Death, and his Courageous Behaviour, and last Speech in his Suffering March 9. 1648 (i.e.1649) with his Pious Advice to his son the late Earl of Essex. The book was printed in London in 1683.

Another copy of the book, donated to the museum early last century, contains many added notes that interpret and supplement the text throughout but, although these notes were written by hand at about the time of publication (1683), it isn't known who wrote them. The book also includes a vivid account of Capel's execution at Whitehall, and the extracts from it, included here, are thanks to W. Basil Worsefold's diligent research.

Due to the early death of his father, Arthur Capel (1604–  1649) inherited Hadham Hall from his grandfather, Henry Capel, in 1632. He was 28 years old and only a few years previous, in 1627, had married Elizabeth Morrison, heiress of a large estate near Watford called Cassiobury.

In 1640 he became an MP for Hertfordshire and strongly supported the Parliamentarians who were opposed to the Royal prerogative and Charles I's constant mismanagement of affairs. But as opposition towards the King increased it soon became clear to Capel that Parliament was more intent on destroying the King instead of checking his power. It was then that he changed his allegiance and supported Charles I. That loyalty was rewarded in August 1641 when he was created Baron Capel of Hadham.

In the coming year economic and, more importantly, religious matters, fuelled the differences between supporters of parliament and supporters of the monarchy. The struggle for supremacy that ensued was to ultimately lead to civil war.

When, in the early spring of 1642 the situation became untenable for the King, he fled to York and was followed there by many royalist peers, including Arthur Capel. A month later, in Nottingham, the Royal Standard was raised against the Parliamentary forces and from that time until his imprisonment in 1648, with only one brief interval, Arthur Capel was continually in the field, fighting and raising money for Charles.

Supporters of Parliament (known as Roundheads or Puritans) came from the emerging middle classes and tradesmen of the Puritanical movement, mainly in the more prosperous southern and eastern counties. Support for the monarchy (the Cavaliers) came from peasants and nobility and the more northern and western counties. Apart from Margaret Denny of Rectory Manor in Bishop's Stortford, Arthur Capel was the only other noteworthy Royalist in this area.

Directly after Capel had followed the King to York he was impeached for high treason by the Parliamentary leaders, and immediately put his estate in the hands of trustees. He had never made secret his activities in the Royalist cause and soon after war broke out information reached Parliament that arms were stored at Hadham Hall. Although the majority of peers and country gentlemen supported Charles at the outbreak of war, many nobles and landowners declared their loyalty to Parliament, among them the Duke of Bedford. On 29 August 1642 he rode from Woburn in Bedfordshire with a troop of horse to search Hadham Hall, and inside found enough guns with which to arm a thousand men.

The civil war continued for the next 4 years. Then, after countless battles and skirmishes between the two sides, it seemingly ended with Charles fleeing from Oxford on 5 May 1646 to give himself up to the Scots at Newark and seek their protection. Oxford then surrendered to the Parliamentary forces and Capel returned briefly to his home.

Prolonged negotiations between the King and Parliament took place and, for a short while, it seemed possible the King would be reinstated. However, in February 1647 the Scots reneged on their deal with Charles and handed him over to Parliament. On 15 January 1648 came the vote of 'non-address' –   the virtual dethronement of Charles. But this, combined with the subsequent direction of affairs of the nation, led by Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army, produced a reaction in the King's favour both in Scotland and England. Scottish Presbyterians, led by the Duke of Hamilton, marched south to his assistance and Royalists took to the fields in Wales, Kent and other counties. In Essex, Capel helped raise a large force of Cavaliers. The object of this resurgence was to rescue the Monarchy and Parliament from the military tyranny that threatened the existence of both.

However, the Scots were beaten back and the Kentish Cavaliers were quickly routed at Maidstone, retreating northwards to join Royalists in Essex. There, they combined forces and occupied Colchester, but the Roundheads laid siege to the town and on 28 August 1648 the Royalists surrendered. Under the articles of agreement for the surrender, Capel and other prominent supporters were sent to the Tower of London, but while under arrest both he and the Duke of Hamilton managed to escape. Their freedom was short lived. After recapture they were returned to the Tower and it was during his six months imprisonment there that Capel composed his book 'Excellent Contemplations'. He also wrote letters to the Bishop of Exeter and other loyalists urging them to rescue Charles from imprisonment, and two letters to Cromwell, protesting against the trial of the sovereign. It was all to no avail.

Charles I was put on trial for treason in 1648 and, by a vote of 68 to 67, found guilty and executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649. Capel, Hamilton and other notable Royalists were brought to trial for high treason soon after, but Capel's only argument against the charge came later, in a speech from the scaffold in Palace Yard.

However, his true bitterness of his sacrifice for the King was later revealed in two letters he wrote to his wife, Elizabeth; one written on the day of his execution, the other on the day before. He had no reproaches for false friends, no anger against relentless enemies, no pity for himself. All his thoughts were for her and those he was about to leave behind. These are the letters he wrote to his wife:

'My dearest life, My greatest care in relation to the world, is for thy dear self... I beseech thee again and again, moderate thy apprehension and sorrow for me; and preserve thyself to the benefit of our dear children... I pray remember that the occasion of my death will give thee more cause to celebrate my memory with praise, rather than to consider it with sadness. God hath commanded my obedience to the Fifth Commandment: and for acting that duty I am condemned. God multiply all comforts to thee. I shall leave thee my dear children: in them I live with thee; and leave thee to the protection of a most gracious God. And I rest'.

On the morning of his execution he wrote...

'My dearest Life, My eternal life is in Christ Jesus. My worldly considerations in the highest degree thou hast deserved. Let me live long here in thy dear memory... Sorrow not unsoberly, unusually. God be unto thee better than an husband; and to my children better than a father. I am sure, He is able to be so. God be with thee, my most virtuous wife: God multiply many comforts to thee and my children, is the fervent prayer of'.

The account of Arthur Capel's last moments (given in the book) before his execution, were written down by Dr Morley, Bishop of Winchester, in a letter to Edward Symonds, for many years Capel's chaplain.

'I was there at the time assigned... But he was to have an agony before his passion; and that was the parting with his wife, eldest son, son-in-law, two of his uncles, and Sir Thomas Corbet, especially the parting with his most dear lady; which was the saddest spectacle that I ever beheld... in blessing the young lord, he commanded him never to revenge his death, though it should be in his power. The like he said unto his Lady... After this, with much adoe I persuaded his wife and the rest to be gone: and then being all alone with me, he said, 'Doctor, the hardest part of my work in this world, is now past'....

When the bishop had prayed with him (the letter continues), 'they were all carried to Sir Robert Cotton's house; where I was with him, till he was called unto the scaffold, and would have gone up with him, but the guard of soldiers would not suffer me.'

Capel then gave an impassioned speech to the crowd gathered below, in which he said; his obedience to Charles I, for which he had been condemned to die, was not merely no crime, but a duty enjoyed by all laws, divine and human, upon every subject of the sovereign. He ended his speech with a prayer.

The bishop's letter continued: 'God's mercy on those that were the causes of his coming here'. Then the grim courtesies of the scaffold began. While he was speaking, the executioner had slipped away, and when he turned from the crowd in Palace Yard to prepare for the block, Capel looked in vain for him among the group of men, including his chaplain and Colonel Beecher, the commander of the guard, standing upon the platform. 'Which is the gentleman?' he asked, taking off his doublet and waistcoat. Then, when the executioner had returned and knelt to ask forgiveness, he replied, 'I forgive thee from my soul'; and accompanied his words by a gift of five pounds. One boon he asked: the time for a short prayer after he had lain down upon the block.

The book continues:

CAPEL: Stay a little; which side do you stand upon? I think I should lay my hands that way (pointing fore-right): and answer being made 'Yes'; he stood still a little while, and then said (speaking to his servants): Prey at the moment of striking joyn your Prayers: but make no noise; it is inconvenient at this time.

SERVANT: My lord put on your cap.

CAPEL: Should I?

Then turning to the executioner, he said, 'Well, you are ready when I am ready, are you not?' and then (kneeling to try the position). 'Am I well now?'


CAPEL: (Lying with both his hands stretched out), 'Here lie both my hands out. When I lift up my hand thus (lifting up his right hand) then you may strike.'

With his head on the block, Capel said the prayer he had asked for; and, that done, raised his two hands in signal. At one blow his head was severed. The body, with his clothes, was taken up by the servants, put into a coffin and carried to Hadham Hall. It was then placed in the family vault beneath the altar in Little Hadham church, where, too, eleven years later his wife was laid by his side.

Lady Capel probably lived at Hadham Hall with her children until her death in 1660; the same year the monarchy was restored. Only then was it possible to place a very outspoken inscription over the common grave of the husband and wife. The stone was moved to its present position, south of the Communion Table, during the restoration of the church in the 19th century but the inscription has not been touched. It reads:

Here under lyeth interred the body of Arthur Capell Baron of Hadham who was murdered for his Loyalty to King Charles the First March 9th 1648 (1649)
Here lyeth interred ye body of Elizabeth Lady Capell Wife of Arthur Lord Capell Onely daughter of Sr Charles Morrison Kt She departed this life ye 26th of Jan, 1660.

In the second copy of the book 'Excellent Contemplations', a note on the flyleaf tells how Capel, not content with the sacrifice of his life, ordered his heart to be preserved and laid at the King's foot. The heart was put into a silver casket, enclosed in a box with two locks, and given to Lord Beauchamp. He retained one key and a second was given to Sir Thomas Corbet. When Beauchamp was nearing death he gave the box to Corbet who, when he approached the end of his life, gave it to Capel's son, Arthur Capel, then Earl of Essex.

After the Restoration (1660) no funeral rites were performed on the body of the dead King and so the casket was laid in the Evidence Room at Hadham Hall. And there it stayed until Arthur Capel's death in 1683, when it was found by his steward and given to the Second Earl of Essex. Not knowing what it contained he asked his mother about it and she told him of its contents. To prevent any violation of the family tomb, the heart was removed from the silver casket and placed in an iron box. This was then put into the family vault within the chancel of Little Hadham church. The silver casket was sold and the proceeds distributed to the poor of the parish.

ST CECILIA. The church lies on its own to the N of the village Street and to the W of the outbuildings of Hadham Hall. It is a small church, of nave and chancel with W tower, N transeptal chapel, and S porch. The tower has diagonal buttresses and a spike. The tower arch dates it to c. 1400 or a little earlier. The nave has Perp windows. The chancel windows are renewed. The interest of the church lies in the S porch and the transept. The S porch is of the C15, lightly built of timber with wide open sides trefoil-cusped along the tops. The gable is bargeboarded, also with a simple trefoil cusping, ending on top in an ogee. The N transept is supposed to date from the late C16. It is of brick with elementary posthumously Perp three-light W and E windows and intersected tracery in the four-light N window. Inside, the transept opens in a wide four-centred arch. The PULPIT bears the date 1633. It has small-scale strapwork decoration, and a contemporary back and a big tester. Its decoration is the same as that of the PANELLING of the pew to its E and also some panelling in the N transept. The church has later box pews and the pulpit which is a three-decker (a rarity in Herts) is in its lower parts also later. - SCREEN. C15, of five one-light openings at each side of the entrance. - STAINED GLASS. A few C15 fragments in a S aisle window. - BRASSES to a Knight in armour (perhaps Thomas Baud) and his Lady, elegant, somewhat mannered figures, c. 1480; and to R. Warren, a priest, late C15, much rubbed off (chancel, S wall). 

Arthur Capell 1648


Flickr set.

The brass photographs are a huge disappointment

Thomas Baud 1430 (2)

Little Hadham. A silver casket with a story links the noble fronted Elizabethan hall with the modest church of St Cecilia over which eight centuries have passed. In the hall and the church centres the historic interest of Little Hadham, but on the rising ground outside is a delightful windmill, and round Bury Green’s three-cornered plot of grass are three farmhouses, one from the 17th century, one with an Elizabethan brick wing (where a double-headed eagle presides in the elaborate plaster ceilings), and one (Clinton’s)with a wing nearly 500 years old, where a great roof beam stretches from wall to wall enriched with Tudor tracery.

Hadham Hall, though iire has destroyed half of it, remains a triumph of the Elizabethan architect who built it for the Capel family, a grand sight with its entrance turrets, its octagonal chimneys, its gallery 135 feet long, and its ancient gatehouse and barn. The church has no such outward grandeur, but its nave owes something to Norman masons, its 14th-century tower has a splendid arch, and outside the 15th century timber porch, near an ancient yew, is the grave of William Harvey, who sailed as a midshipman three times with Captain Cook. He was with him on the last tragic voyage to the Sandwich Islands, and gained promotion as lieutenant when the officers all moved up one to replace their murdered captain.

Inside the church is a rich pulpit carved in 1633, with sounding board and standard; an early 16th-century screen of elaborate
tracery; a fine array of panelling from the doors of the 17th century pews; and two figures and a shield in glass 50o years old, St Lawrence with his gridiron, Isaiah, and the arms of Bishop Braybrooke who built Much Hadham’s great tower. The nave roof is 15th century. There are brass portraits of a 15th century family of father, mother, and four girls (probably the Bauds), and a priest of their time, Richard Warren. Up in the tower hang one bell about 500 years old and another dated 1595. Down below is the family vault of the Capels, which brings us to the story of the silver casket.

For years this casket lay in the Tudor hall, and was then carried to this vault, its contents reverently buried, for it contained as loyal a heart as ever sewed a king, the heart of one of Charles I’s noblest followers. He was Arthur, Lord Capel, a man in whom even his enemies could find little fault; but after unsuccessfully defending Colchester for ten weeks he was one of the first to be sentenced to death when the king himself had walked out on to the scaffold in Whitehall. While he lay in the Tower a cord was smuggled to him with a message that his friends were waiting on the other side of the moat. He let himself down from his window, and waded chin-deep through the mud and water, which, but for the fact that he was a head taller than most men, would have drowned him. For two or three days he lay hidden by the Temple, and then went by boat to a house in Lambeth Marsh; but the waterman who rowed him was suspicious, followed him, and betrayed his hiding-place for ten pieces of gold.

Back in the Tower, with death on the scaffold now inevitable, Capel asked that if it should not be thought a vain ostentation his heart should be put in a silver casket and laid at the feet of his dead king. It was not to be. Charles was buried at Windsor, and his faithful follower’s heart was turned to dust at Little Hadham, where on Lord Capel’s stone we read that he was "Murdered for his loyalty to King Charles the First." It was put in a silver casket as he desired, the keys of the two locks being kept by his friends, Lord Beauchamp and Sir Thomas Corbet. When Sir Thomas lay dying he passed the casket to Lord Capel’s son, and for years it was kept at the hall, and then forgotten. Not till 1703, when the family had moved to Cassiobury, was it found again, and then the heart was carried to the family vault in this church; but lest the silver casket should tempt a thief an iron box was substituted, and the silver casket was sold to help the poor.


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