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retainers, ever ready to assist them in disturbing the peace of the
bitants in their neighbourhood *.” -
* Walk through Leicester, p. 108.
to wait on, and serve them. On the south stands St. Mary's church, which has cloisters; and on the west was the College for the Prebendaries, which Leland says, “be very praty.” The walls and gates of the college, occupying the west side, were pronounced by Leland to “be very stately.” This college was not only spacious in building, but was liberally founded by the Lancastrian family for a dean, twelve prebendaries, thirteen choral vicars, three clerks, six choristers, and one verger: at the dissolution its yearly revenues were estimated at 595l. 12s. 11d. Among the various donations to this establishment, the following is worthy of notice. By the Parliamentary Rolls of the year 1450, it appears that King Henry the Seventh granted to the dean and canons of the collegiate church of our Lady at Leicester, “a tunne of wynne to be taken by the chief Boteller of England in our port of Kingston upon Hull;” and it is further added, “they never had no wynne granted to them by us, nor our progenitors, afore this time to sing with, nor otherwise.” The buildings of the Newark continued in good and habitable preservation till the dissolution of the monasteries, in the time of Henry the Eighth, when Robert Borne, the last dean, surrendered his house and possessions to the king's commissioners. “From this period, the buildings of the college, being unsupported by any fund, sunk into decay, or were applied to purposes widely different from the intention of the founders. The church, cloisters, and gateway are entirely removed, with the exception of two arches of the vault under the former, which are still to be seen, firm and strong, in the cellar of the house, now a boarding-school".” Of the ancient religious buildings and foundations of this town that of the ABBEY was formerly of great local importance; but its buildings are nearly levelled to that earth which covers the ashes of its founders, patrons, monks, and dependants. It is said that this abbey was founded by Robert Bossu, Earl of Leicester, in the year year 1143, who, being advanced in age, became one of the regular canons on his own foundation, and continued here, in penance and prayer, till the time of his death. This religious foundation soon acquired sanctity and celebrity, and thence obtained numerous liberties and immunities. Besides thirty-six parishes in and about Leicester, it had lands, privileges, &c. in most of fully as I served the king, he would not thus have forsaken my old age *.” Near the North Bridge of this town was formerly the house or place where money was minted; and the series of coins that has been collected, prove that at the LEICESTER MINT a regular succession of coinage has been produced from the reign of the Saxon king Athelstan, down to Henry the Second. “The Monetarii, or governors of the mint, were entitled to considerable privileges and exemptions, being Socmen, or holders of land in the Soc, or franchise of a great baron, yet they could not be compelled to relinquish their tenements at theirlord's will. They paid twenty pounds every year, a considerable sum, as a pound at the time of the conquest contained three times the weight of silver it does at present. These pounds consisted of pennies, each weighing one ora, or ounce, of the value of twenty-pence. Two thirds of this sum were paid to the king, and the other third to the feudal Baron of Leicester. The Leicester coins of Athelstan and Edmund the First, have only a rose with a legend of the king's name, that of the moneyer, and Leicester: from Etheldred the Second, they bear the impress of the royal head and sceptre, with the same stile of legend unchanged. In this series of Leicester coins, which has been ens. graved with accurate attention in the valuable work of Mr. Nichols, the triangular helmets, uncouth diadems, and rudely expressed countenances of our Saxon sovereigns, exhibit, when opposed to a plate of Roman coinage, a striking contrast to the nicely delineated features of the laurelled Caesars. In no instance of comparison does the Roman art appear more conspicuous. The great quantity of coins of that scientific people, which have been found at Leicester, is an additional testimony of its consequence as a Roman town: these, unfortunately, upon being found at different periods, have passed into various hands; and although some few gentlemen have made collections, yet it is to be regretted, that by far the Wol. IX, Z - greater
* Walk through Leicester.
the manors in this and many other counties. The religious of this.
abbey had great bequests of deer, fuel, and feeding of cattle; fishpools, cattle, fish, and corn. Stoughton-Grange, near Leicester, was the grand repository of food for this house. This place supported almost the whole poor of Leicester and its neighbourhood; and it was on all pressing occasions subsidiary to the king, and hospitable to travellers, who were fed and often lodged here on their journies. Several kings of England were entertained and lodged here on their excursions to and from the north. Richard II. and his queen, with their retinue, amongst whom were the
Duke of Ireland, Earl of Suffolk, Archbishop of Canterbury, and several other great personages, were entertained and lodged at this
house in grand and sumptuous style. -
civility, and tell them that he was come to lay his bones among them.
He immediately took to his bed, and died three days afterwards”.” It was at this place, whilst the cardinal was on his death-bed, and surrounded by the listening monks, that he pronounced the following memorable sentence, which displays that he had been more of a courtier than religionist: “If I had served my God as faith
* Throsby's History and Antiquities of Leicester, 4to, p. 285.
* Sir Joshua Reynolds has painted a grand, fine, and highly admirable picture representing this awful event. * *
greater part of the coins have been taken from the town. Hado those found in the last century been thrown together into one cabinet, Leicester might have exhibited at this time a respectable series of Roman coinage, both in brass and silver, from the Emperor Nero down to Valens”.” CHARTERs, &c. The first Charter granted to Leicester was by King John, in the first year of his reign: and at the same time Robert Fitz-Parnel, Earl of Leicester, granted a charter, or deed, to the burgesses of this town, investing them with the right of buying and selling lands, &c. Some of the privileges of the Corporation are first defined and confirmed by a grant from Robert, Earl of Leicester: and his successor, Simon de Montefort, Earl of Leicester, extended and ratified their rights by a charter, dated at Leicester, in the twenty-third year of the reign of King Henry the Third. The next charter shews the peculiar intolerance of the times. It was given by Simon de Montefort, son of the above. earl, and particularly specifies that “no Jew, or Jewes, in my time, or in the time of any of my heirs, to the end of the world, shall inhabit or remain” in the town of Leicester. In the year 1287, this wandering and persecuted sect of people was expelled the kingdom. Till the time of Henry the Seventh, Leicester does not appear to have obtained any further royal charters, except the grant of Edward the Third for the establishment of a fair be deemed as one. Henry's charter, dated 1504, confirms all the
previous privileges of the burgesses, &c. and empowers the jus
tices, or a part of them, to “take cognizance of treasons, murders, felonies, rapes, and other transgressions.” Several public acts and resolutions occurred during this reign, relating to the local government of the town, for as that monarch conquered his rival and adversary near this borough, he appears to have paid particular attention to the wants and wishes of the corporation. The charter by Queen Elizabeth specifies that the borough of Leicester is very ancient and populous, and from remote times has been a borough
* * Walk through Leicester.