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Parkin, C. (1744). An Answer To, Or Remarks upon Dr. Stukeley’s, Origines Roystonianæ.


Rev. Charles Parkin (1689–1765) was an English clergyman and antiquarian, and rector of Oxburgh in Norfolk. In the 1740s, Parkin became embroiled in a bitter dispute with historian William Stukeley over the origin and carvings of the then recently discovered Royston Cave. Parkin refuted Stukeley's claim that the cave had been the private chapel of a local noblewoman called Lady Roisia, a theory which Stukeley published in his book Palaeographia Britannica: or, Discourses on Antiquities in Britain. Number I in 1743.

In response, Parkin published An Answer to, or Remarks upon, Dr. Stukeley's Origines Roystonianæ, in which he claimed that Royston Cave had instead been a hermitage. When Stukeley published a reply with Discourses on Antiquities in Britain. Number II, Parkin responded again with A Reply to the Peevish, Weak, and Malevolent Objections brought by Dr. Stukeley in his Origines Roystonianæ.

Joseph Beldam, who studied Royston Cave in the mid-1800s, wrote that 'though both parties showed abundant learning and ingenuity, the cause of truth suffered much from their mutual loss of temper.'

The following transcript was taken from the first edition of Parkin's An Answer to, or Remarks upon, Dr. Stukeley's Origines Roystonianæ, published in 1744.

Please note. Every effort has been made to transcribe Stukeley’s publication as accurately as possible, but errors may still occur. Some words have been updated to their modern spelling to make it easier for you to read.



The Antiquity and Imagery of the Oratory, lately discovered at Royston in Hertfordshire, are truly Stated, and Accounted for.


Rector of Roxburgh in Norfolk.

Credite Pisones, isti Tabulæ fore librum

Persimilem, cujus velut Ægri Somnia Vanæ

Fingentur species; ut new Pes, nec Caput, uni

Reddatur formæ. -----



Printed for the Author, by J. Hoyles at No I. in Wild-Court, near Lincoln's-Inn-Fields: And Sold y W. LEWIS, in Russel-Street, Covent Garden; and T. TRYE, near Grays-Inn-Gate, Holborn. MDCCXLIV.


To the Right Honourable

EDWARD Lord Viscount COKE,

SON and HEIR apparent,



If your Lordship’s Hereditary Candour and Courtesy were not well known and experienced; it would argue more than Rudeness in me, to address You, on such a Subject, and in such a manner.

To take off your Lordship from that great Concern, that You daily manifest for the Public Good, the weightier Matters of the State; which engage so great a part of your time: To deprive You of the Contemplation of those Noble Arts, which You are Master of; Arts improved, and refined by Travel: To set in your View so mean an Object, as an old Oratory, lately discovered, and buried up above two Centuries in Dirt and Rubbish; instead of the Stately Edifices of Ancient and Modern Rome, St. Peter’s, the Pantheon, or Rotunda: To expose the rude Figures of an Hermitage before You, who are well acquainted with the finished ones of Phidias and Praxiteles amongst the Ancients; Angelo and Bandinello, amongst the Moderns; must argue a strange want of Taste in Me, and make even your Lordship to look upon me as a true Barbarian.

But, my Lord, it was this distinguishing Merit in You that prompted me to entreat your Patronage, as it qualifies You both for a proper Judge and Patron: Such a Judge and Patron, as an Author must esteem himself truly happy in.

This must be granted; as You have so accurately surveyed the blood Basso Relievo’s, the Breathing Statues of the Principal Saints, the Marvellous Historical Pieces and Ornaments required to be, and to be observed in Churches abroad. Ornaments and Relievo’s to be found also in our Oratory, tho’ in a very mean and low Life.

As You are thus conspicuous for Arts acquired, Arts that render Mankind truly Great and Honourable; so, give me leave to add what Honours You are born to, and what Providence itself has awarded to You.

On your Noble Father’s Side, the Great Earldom of Leicester; whose Coronet has adorned the Temples of the Illustrious Families of BEAUMONT, DUDLEY, SIDNEY, and I was going to say, the Temples of Majesty itself, even of the Kings of ENGLAND.*

*John of Gaunt, Son of King Edwards the Third was Duke of Lancaster, and Earl of Leicester, which Honour defended to his Son King Henry IV.

On your Noble Mother’s Side, the Greta and Ancient Barony of CLIFFORD, brought down to You by Descent, from a Numerous Race of English Worthies, recorded in all our histories.

These are the Merits, these are the Honours, that moved one of the largest, richest, and most populous Counties of our Nation, to choose your Lordship for their Representative in Parliament; which great Trust You have so well answered, that I am certain every one, who wishes well to his Country’s Good and Prosperity, will join with me in praying, that your Lordship may enjoy as many Years, as your great and worthy Ancestor Sir Edward Coke; that You may live and die like him, the Nestor and the Oracle of your Country. Which is the sincere, the ardent wish and Prayer of,


Your Lordship’s most obedient humble Servant,



The Oratory lately discovered at Royston in Hertfordshire, in August 1742, is a subterraneous Crypt, cut out of a solid Rock of pure Chalk; from the Floor of the Area of it to the Summit, or the level Ground where the Descent begins (which is for the most part by a long Ladder) it is about thirty Foot, and the Diameter is about twenty Foot. ’Tis formed in the manner of a Dome or Cupola, and well turned and is so lofty that the light of the Candles scarce reaches the Summit or the Top of it; all around the Sides, it is ornamented with Figures, Imagery in Basso Relievo, of Crucifixes, or Altars, Saints, Martyrs etc. in a rude manner, agreeable to the Art and Judgment of the Person, who performed it, who was most likely some Hermit, and to the taste of the Age wherein he lived.

A Plate of the Section of this Oratory or Crypt, which was the Chapel of an Hermitage, is here to be seen in Table I. which Plate being supposed to be made on the Meridian Line, represents the Eastern Part, or one half of the said Crypt. Its Situation together with a Cell, and a Cross adjoining is on that Spot of Ground or Angle, where the two old Roman Military Way, Herman-Street, and Icenild-Way met and crossed each other. Dr. Stukeley (a) seems positive that here was originally a Roman Town which was quite demolished by the Scotsor Picts in their Invasions, or when our Saxon Ancestors ravaged the Country in order to subdue it, or after them the Danes.

Camden in his Britannica acquaints us, that upon the very edge of the County of Hertford, to the North,where it toucheth upon Cambridgeshire, standeth Royston, a Town of much Note, but not Ancient, as having risen since the Norman Conquest, for in those Days there was a famous Lady named Roisia (by some supposed to have been Countess of Norfolk) who erected a Cross upon the Road-side in this Place, from thence for many Years called Royses-Cross ’til such a time as Eustace de Marc founded just by it, a small Monastery to the Honour of ST. Thomas. Upon this Occasion Inns came to be built, and by the Degrees it came to be a Town, which instead of Royses-Cross took the Name of Royses-Town contracted into Royston.

Here Camden ascribes the Foundation of the Cross at Royston to have been about the Norman Conquest; our Antiquary descends a Century lower, and maintains that Lady Roisia, who flourished in the Reign of King (b) Henry II, was the Foundress of it about the Year 1170, that Lady Roisia, who was the daughter of Alberic de Vere, the second Lord High Chamberlain of England, who married Geffery de Mandevile the first Earl of Essex.

It is foreign to my present Purpose and Design to make out the Antiquity of the good Town of Royston, tho’ it is reasonable to believe it to be much more Antique, than is above represented .Royston not occurring in the Conqueror’s Book of Domesday, has been a prevailing Reason with many in a positive manner to conclude, that it was not then in being; whereas such an Inference will be found to be too hasty and unjust, and proceeds either form want of knowing, or reflecting, that the Township of Royston did then (and may in some measure be said even at this time to) lye in the Bounds and Limits of several Neighbouring Lordships and Parishes, as in those of Barkway and Therfield in Hertfordshire, and Kneesworth in Cambridgeshire; so that all those Fees and Lordships to which Royston did belong in the Conqueror’s time, and was a Member or part of, being accounted for in the aforesaid Parishes and Lordships, where they lay, and did truly and properly belong, is a sufficient Reason for Royston’s not being mentioned in the Survey of doomsday. Royston was made a distinct, independent Parish, taken out of the dismembered from the abovementioned Townships, and Parishes, by an Act of Parliament (c) in the 32nd of Henry VIII, after the Suppression of the monasteries, when a perpetual Vicar was established, and the Priory Church became Parochial; tho’ the Tithe of the Hay, Corn, Wool, Lamb and Calf, was reserved to the Rectors and Vicars of the Parishes aforesaid, and continues so to this Day; the Vicar of Royston having a Rate paid him out of every House, Stall etc. for his Support.

The Province that I have undertook is to offer some Reasons by way of proof to shew that there was a Cross, with a Hermit’s Cell and Oratory annexed in the Town of Royston, long before the time of the Lady Roisia; and there I shall occasionally and by the way demonstrate, that part of the Figures in the said Oratory, ascribed by Dr. Stukely to be the work of that Lady, is without any shew of Truth, or Foundation. Reserving what I have further to say on that Subject, to the History of the Imagery in the said Oratory, where I shall point out the many Errors and Mistakes our Antiquary is guilty of in his Account of it.

(a) Orig. Royston. P. 2

(b) P.27

(c) Newcourt’s Reportet. V. 2. P. 876. Collect of Statutes Anno 32 Hen. VIII. Chap. 44.


That the Cross here was much more Antique than the time of Lady Roisia aforesaid, or the Reign of Henry II, as is represented by our Antiquary, I humbly conceive for these reasons.

First, it was a practice in the Saxon times (and good Authority maintains even in the British times) to erect Crosses on great public Roads, especially on that Spot and Angle where such great Roads met and crossed each other, as in the Case are before us; this is granted by (d) our Author ——- “It was (says he) in the Saxontimes a very usual thing for Religious People to set up their Monuments called Crosses by High-Ways sides, and especially where several Roads met;” and he instances in one called High-Cross in Northamptonshire, where two Roman Roads cross each other, the Foss and the Walting-Street. Many like Instances might be produced, but as this is granted by the Doctor, I proceed to another Reason which testifies the Antiquity of this Cross ——- And that is ——-

The Hundred’s Court being kept here; the Division of Counties into Hundreds is ascribed by all the creditable Authors, to King Alfred the Saxon, who began his Reign in 872, and died in 901; the Occasion (e) as Malmsbury relates, was this ——- The natural inhabitants of England, by the Example of the Danes, were greedy of Spoil and Robbery, so that no Man could pass to and fro’ in safety without defensive Weapons; Alfred therefore ordained Centuries, which they term Hundreds, and Decimes which they call Tithings, that every Englishman living under Law, should be within some Hundred and Tithing, and if he was accused of any Transgression, he should forthwith bring in some one of the same Hundred and Tithing, that would be Surety to answer the Law; but if he could find none such to undertake for him, then to abide the Severity of the Law; and if any guilty Person should fly, before or after his giving such Security, that then all within the Hundred and Tithing should be fined to the King. And of such Dignity were these Hundred-Courts, that before the Norman Conquest, the Bishop of the Diocese used at times to sit therein, with the Lord of the Hundred, as he did also (on like emergent Occasions) in the County-Court with the Earl, and in Sheriff’s Turn with the Sheriff.

These Hundreds (being thus established by Alfred) often took their Names from some remarkable Cross within the same, and the Hundred-Court was held at the said Cross; thus the Hundred of Norman-Cross in Huntingdonshire took its Name from a Cross there on the Ermin-Street; thus Gilt-Cross gave Name to the Hundred of Gilt-Cross in Norfolk, which Cross stood (on the Icenild-Way leading from Thetford to Norwich) at Rowdham, or Roodham, taking its Name from the Saxon Word (f) Rood, or Cross; which Cross is also in some old MSS wrote Gyde-Cross, serving as a Guide to Travellers, as most Crosses are allowed to be partly erected for. And as these crosses gave name to some Hundreds, so likewise, for their known eminency and repute, Hundred-Courts were often appointed from the very time of their first establishment to be kept here and continued to be kept for many ages after the Conquest. Thus, the Court-leet for part of the Hundred of Barlick-Way in Warwickshire, was kept (as Sir (g) William Dugdale observes) twice in the year, at Bredon-Cross in the Parish of Ipsley, near to the Icenild Street there, the Title of the court being Bredon-Cross Parcell. Hundredi de Barlick-Way, and several towns owe suit thereto, which courts are held in the name of the high-Sheriff for the time being, who keeps a Court-Baron in this towns, as well as Leet. And thus, in the case before us, we find that the jury in the fourth of Edward II, (h) found that Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford with Joanna his wife, held a three-week court at Royses-Cross, which proves the Antiquity of this cross, and that the Hundred-Court had been held here from its first establishment in the time of Alfred when there was no doubt a cross here.

Mention being made in the last section Barlick-Way-Hundred in Warwickshire, the reader (I hope) will pardon me in a little excursion, and that is, the observing the similitude, the identity I may say of name, with Barkway in Hertfordshire; in which Parish the Cross if Royston (i) stood. Barlick-Way or Barkway by contraction; signifies in the Saxon language, a way over the hills, that is a way by the graves, the lows or tumulus’s which were generally raised in these public great military ways; and thus Dugdale (k) has well observed, that the style of the other part of the aforesaid Barlick-Way Hundred, runs thus, Barwick-Way Greve, and takes its name from a little spot of ground about eight yards square upon the top of a hill, the remains of some remarkable old tumulus; and it may be further observed that as in Barlick-Way Hundred, there Roman Military Way called Icenild Street, runs directly through it, north and south, so here the Roman Military Way called Ermine Street, which gives name to the Hundred, wherein both Barkway, and the old cross of Royston were included, did run through this whole (l) into it, a little before we come to Hare-Street, which also assumes its name from it, and so on thro’ Barkway, and to Royston Cross, and did not go to Buntingford, and after that verge out into the Hundred of Odsey, by Buckland, as some Maps have represented.

But I proceed to a third reason for the antiquity of the cross, which I deduce from the foundation of the Priory at Royston, and the Tithe, by which it distinguished itself. This priory was founded by Eustachius (m) de Marc in the Reign of King Henry II, and dedicated to St Thomas the Martyr of Canterbury, that is, Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered in 1170; so that between this year and the year 1189, in which King Henry II died, this Priory must be granted to be founded. I have by me an old MS Deed in Velum of this Priory, but according to the custom of that age without date, it begins thus ——-

Omnibus praesentes Litteras inspecturis (n) O. Prior de Cruce (o) Roheys, & ejusdem loci Convent. etc. ——- This Deed, as I take it, was made in the beginning of the reign of King Henry III, or before ——- This stile and Title De Cruce Roheys is used by way of eminency, and bespeaks some well-known, remarkable cross, of great fame and antiquity; and was, no doubt, the very same Stile and Title which the Prior and Convent took up, and made use of from the foundation of the Priory; if then the above mentioned Cross was founded by Lady Roisia (as our Antiquary maintains) about the end of the reign of King Henry II she being very busy in (p) cutting out part of the imagery of the oratory (which adjoined to, and was an appendix to the cross) in the year 1187, but two years before the deaths of the aforesaid King and Lady Roisia, there could not possibly be any length of time to make the said cross of such known eminency and repute, as that Priory should take its stile and Title form it. This would be to set forth and Ignotum per Ignotius; so that it is both just and reasonable to conclude that the cross was of remarkable antiquity, and that it was founded long before the time of our author’s Lady Roisia, even in the Saxon age.

Our antiquary here runs himself into difficulties, out of which, it will not be easy to extricate himself; he (q) fixes the death of Lady Roisia and that of King Henry II to the year of 1189, and says “that the Monastery (or Priory) was built immediately after her death, and on account of her living here; and then adds, it was a compliment to King Henry II to dedicate this Monastery to Thomas a Becket, as the King himself had done by Waltham-Abby, according to a vow he made; and that King Henry II very much encouraged this foundation and monastery.

The Kings rededicating the Abbey of (r) Waltham was in the year 1177, and about this time it is reasonable to think that the Priory of Royston was founded, whilst the affair of Thomas Becket the Archbishop was fresh; for if the Priory was not founded till the year 1189, in which Lady Roisia and King Henry II died, I cannot see what time that King could possibly have (he dying on the sixth day of July in the said year,) either to encourage the Monastery, or to be complimented on the account of its dedication to St Thomas the Martyr.

But our author proceeds, and in the very same paragraph, tells (s) us, that in the first year of King Richard I son and successor to Henry II a fair was granted to the Canons of Royston. This charter bears date November 9, 1189, four months after the death of Henry II. By this charter King Richard not only confirms to them all the revenues wherewith that Priory was founded and endowed; but also grants them a fair for all the week of Pentecost, and a weekly market on Wednesday, according to the liberties of the markets and fairs granted to the Canons of Dunstable. If then the Priory of Royston was founded (as our learned Doctor asserts after the death (t) of Lady Roisia in 1189) and that immediately upon the erecting of it, the town of Royston arose, give me leave to congratulate him in the name of all that good township, in thus erecting in the space of the few months, so goodly a town, as this must be allowed to be, thus qualified for a weekly market, and an annual fair for a whole week, which supposes it to be a place of concourse and trade, capable of good reception, and all this to have sprung up, in the space of a few months, from the death of Roisia in 1189, to the date of King Richard’s Charter November 9 in the said year, such an architect as this, must merit to be in commission for the Georgia Colony, or the bridge of Westminster.

A fourth reason for the antiquity of this cross, before the time assigned by our author may be taken form the name of it, Roheys-Cross or Roheysia’s; Roisia, or as our antiquary says, plain Rose in English, cannot answer to (u) Roheys or Rohesia, there seems to me to be something of British or Saxon derivation in the name, but this I leave to the curious, and proceed to account for the antiquity of the cell and oratory annexed to the cross.

(d) P.4

(e) Malmsb. Fol. 24.

(f) Thus Croxton, Crossby, Crosshall, etc. Towns which take their name from some neighbouring Cross.

(g) Hist. Warw. P.487.

(h) Chauncy’s Hist. Hertf. P.90.

(i) Of ROyston’s being in five Parushed, see above.

(K) Dugd. Hist. Of Warw. P. 487.

(l) Edwin-Stree, by corruption fro Ermin-Street

(m) Mon. ANgl. V. 2

(N) O. For Osbertus

(o) Here is a circumflex over the ys, whether the name of ROheys, or Roheysiae I leave to the reader.

℗ P. 37, 38.

(q) Comapre P. 45, with P. 51.

® Dugd. Mon. Angl. V. 2 P.13

(s) P. 45. Dugd. Mon. Angl. V.2 P. 264

(t) P. 51, and P. 3.

(u) Probably some old British or Saxon Saint, on this Ermin-Street near to a place called High-Cross by Wades-Mill, in this county of Hertford, was a nunnery called Roheyney or Roheenia, founded by Canon, Duke of Britain and Richmond.


That it was a custom and practice in the Saxon times to erect a cell or cells, with a chapel or oratory thereto annexed, near to eminent and remarkable Crosses, wherein hermits and their station, is a concession of our author (w) “Crosses (says he) thus set by the road-sides, served two good purposes, to put people in the mind of saying prayers, and of directing them in the road they wanted to go; a lettered direction there was but few at the time a day could read, therefore usually some person resided at the place, on purpose to direct them. And many religious persons in those times built themselves cells, and spent their whole life, that they might be useful in directing travellers, and in praying for them, as an act of great charity and benevolence. And ever since the beginning of Christianity to this time, it has been a frequent custom for persons of a serious and religious disposition to sequester themselves from the world and make them cells or grottos in rocks and caverns, and by highway sides. It is an usage still continued in Popish countries, thus I suppose Lady Roisia chose to devote herself in this very place, where she built the cross, and in P. 8, he observes that Lady Roisia, had this her Chapel or Oratory, near to her cell.”

(w) P. 4.


That such cells with their oratories annexed, were in the Saxon times, might be proved by many instances; I shall only mention one, the Cliff or cell of Guy the great and famous Earl of Warwick in the reign of King Athelstan about 926. This (says (x) Sir William Dugdale) being a great cliff in the western bank of Avon, was made choice of by that pious man St Dubritius (who in the Briton’s time, had his episcopal seat at Warwick) for a place of devotion, where he built an oratory dedicated to St Mary Magdalen, unto which long after, in the Saxon’s Days, did a devout Hermit repair, who finding the natural rock so proper his cell, and the pleasant Grove, wherewith it is backed, yielding entertainment fit for solitude, seated himself here. Which advantages invited also the famous Guy, sometime Earl of Warwick, after his notable achievements having weaned himself form the deceitful pleasures of this world, to retire hither, where receiving ghostly comfort form the hermit, he abode till his death.

And that such a cell with its oratory annexed, was here also erected in the Saxon times may very reasonably be allowed, from the every name of that capital Manor of Newcells, Neucells, or Newsells, in the townships of parish of Barkway, held by Eudo, son of Hubert, consisting of four hides of land and half a virgate at the conqueror's survey, which Manor the said Eudo (y) granted to the Rovechesters, or Rochester's, to be held of him as the Capital Lord. This said manor seems to derive its name from the cell and station of a hermit, here residing; the Saxons ’tis well known gave names to towns and places form the nature of their site, or form something that was remarkable, near adjoining, as this cell (no doubt) was in the Saxon times, form the Hundred-Cour’s being held at the Cross hereto belonging, and a jury in the sixth of Edward I, found that it was situate in the Fee of the Manor of Newsels; and our Antiquary allows the cross etc. to be in the said (z) Manor, and gives this reason for his Lady Roisia’s setting it up here, it being on her own Fee, which otherwise indeed she had no right or title to have done.

The Capital Manor of Newcells, thus deriving its name from this cell and oratory adjoining, even in the Saxon times may be looked upon as proof of the antiquity of it, many ages before that of Lady Roisia; and there is no doubt but that someone hermit or more (as the road and thorough-fare here was so great) was here stationed, to be always at hand ready to attend on travellers, which must undoubtedly be an office much more belonging to, and more becoming, some religious man and hermit, than any religious woman, or Lady Roisia whatever.

As I have thus endeavored to prove that here was a cross, a cell with its oratory in the Saxon times, and long before Lady Roisia (a); I shall now, as I proposed, demonstrate our learned antiquary’s Lady Roisia, to have had no part or share in carving one particular piece of imagery on the wall of the oratory, to be seen in Table the third, as is maintained by the Doctor; and that is No I, which he assures us is to represent Hugh de Beauchamp, the Father of Payn de Beauchamp, the second Husband of Lady Roisia ——- His own account is this, ——- (b) “Next to this lesser crucifix, is manifestly a shield or coat armorial, the fess upon it, is very plain, high raised, and the other marks or sketches so like to cross-crosslet, that we cannot help supposing it to mean the arms of the Beauchamps ——- Gules, a Fess between fix crosslets, Or. It was at this very time of day that taking up coats of arms began, and the crosses particularly had respect to those Jerusalem Peregrinations. There may be some special history in Lady Roisia’s mind, when she cut these figures, which we cannot possibly recount, but it seems that she means by this figure bearing this shield Hugh de Beauchamp, the father of her husband. He was a progenitor of a most numerous race of our English nobility; he had a vast estate given him but he Conqueror for her services as appears in Domesday-Book. This I have marked in the Plate No I.”

(x) Hist. Of Warwicks. P. 183

(y) Magna Brit. V. 2 P. 969, the Rochesters were considerable benefactors to the Priory of Royston; Rapl de Rochesterbeing a cofounder of it.

(z) Chauncey’s Hist. Hertf. P. 99

(A) P.25

(B) (b) P.41


Before I enter on the merits of this shield, or Piece of coat-Armour, I hope our learned Antiquary will pardon me in charging him with a plain, self-evident contradiction, in the above specified paragraph or section; and as my whole view in this my answer, or remarks, is the truth, and to clear up the antiquity of Royston oratory, cell, and cross, as I presume, the Doctor was, in publishing his Origines Roystonianae, this I’m persuaded he will be more readily inclined to do. The contradiction is this ——- Hugh de Beauchamp, the bearer of this shield is proved by our author to live in the Conqueror’s time, and to have been rewarded by him for his services, as Domesday-Book certifies. ——- Yet we are taught that it was in the time of King Henry II in the time of Lady Roisia, about this very time of day (after 1170, when Lady Roisia is supposed by our author to have erected her Cross etc.) that taking up coat of arms began, and that the crosses particularly had respect to these Jerusalem peregrinations; and these peregrinations are fixed by him to the year (c) 1177; if then it was at this very time of day, with what truth or justice, can Hugh de Beauchamp be said to be here represented, and to bear the above-mentioned shield or coat-Armour, near a century before such coat-Armour, and particularly the cross-crosslet used to be borne, as we are told in the same paragraph. I must entreat our antiquary to give up the aforesaid paragraph, and his Lady Roysia carving this piece of the imagery; and of the two assertions here I am at a loss which is to be credited, whether we are to reject his history of coat-Armour, and to look upon the figure as that of Hugh de Beauchamp; or to reject the figure and stand to the history of coat-Armour.

The great antiquary Sir William Dugdale, Garter King of Arms, is a proper Judge on the subject here in question ——- (d) Wiliam de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, who died in 1298, bore for his Arms Gules (e) Seme of cross-crosslet with a fess, or; which cross-crosslet were by him added to his coat, for his father used them not; but whether as a badge of any pilgrimage, that he made unto the Holy Land, or vow to do so, I will not take upon me (says For William) to determine. Here then is a plain unexceptionable proof (to which I shall add more, when I come to speak of the imagery under Table III.) that Lady Roisia who died in 1189, could not possibly have and hand or design in the carving this figure, and this shield. So that there could not be any special history (as our author declares) in Lady Rosia’s mind, when she cut these figures, she being dead about one century before this shield and coat-Armour was assumed by William de Beauchamp, the first that bore it; tho’ indeed he has made a special history of it.

Having premised this, the next thing that offers itself to be considered, is the history and imagery of the three tables; but before I enter on that, I beg leave to speak a word or two, relating to Lady Roisia’s (f) genealogy; and here it is to be wished that tour author had taken proper care that the pedigree in the table, had tallied with his account of the family in the body of his book. ——- In the Table, Alberie de Vera, second Lord High Chamberlain of England, father of Lady Roisia died in 1140, in the body of the book (g) he died in 1143. ——- In the Table, Geff. De Magnavile, Earl of Essex, second son of Lady Roisia died in 1176, in the body of the book (p. 17.) in 1167. ——- In the Table, William de Magnavile, Earl of Essex, third son of Lady Roisia died in 1189, in the book he died in 1190, P. 19.

These may be said to be mistakes of the printer, I allow it, and if they had been Errata’s in letters or false spelling, I should not have taken notice of them, but false dates uncorrected are of bad consequence; the proof and truth of history depend upon this, and therefore should be set right by every well-wisher to history and antiquity.

(C) P.33. 34. Etc.

(D) (d) Dugd. Hist. Warw. P. 134

(E) (e) Sir William gives this blazoning from Cartul. Warw. Com. F. 75.

(F) P. 12

(G) P. 10

TABLE I. A section of the Oratory at Royston.


The Doctor treating on Table I, the Plate of the Section of the Oratory, has this; (h) “we may observe toward the Top, a piece of Masonry, they that viewed it near, say it is made of brick, Tile and Stone, laid with very good mortar. Some think this was done, to mend a defective part in the chalky cliff, perhaps it was the original descent out of her cell, from this she went down by a ladder. But after she was buried here, directly underneath, in the Eastern point of the Cell etc, they made the present passage upwards, and walled up the other “


That the original Descent of the Hermit, was thro’ the Arch, which the Masonry above-mentioned now fills up, and that it continued to be the descent into the Oratory out of the Cell as long as the oratory was in use, ‘till the suppression in the time of Henry VIII, I am fully persuaded. At the bottom, or place called (by author) the Grave was the Foundation of a Brick staircase, the Doctor has observed P.46----- “As to that bed or grave on the eastside of the Oratory, there was a brickwork found there, of a very fine red fort, brought from some distance, people took away pieces of it, as a curiosity. This brick staircase, was (as I take it ) as high as those Cavities or holes which we see in the wall of this section; many such holes may be seen round the walls of the oratory, in which several beans or rafters were placed, and where was a staging, or landing place, and from thence there might be, and no doubt was, some gentle, easy steppings or stairs formed; so as to go up and down, from the said arch with safety. And I wonder much that the masonry here has not been broke through, which might give more light into this affair.

It is not to be credited, that any Hermit should have no better conveniency of descending and ascending near twenty-five feet, than that of a ladder. As he advanced in years (and generally, that was the time such life was entered on) such an ascent and descent must be dangerous, I may say, impracticable. Lady Roisia, whom he makes to ascend and descend by this ladder in 1187, must be then , very much advanced in years, she had buried her first husband forty three years, so that I leave him to tell us, how practicable it was for her; it must be granted that it was indecent in her as a woman, and it was forbid the priests under the law, for a very good reason -----Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto my alter ---- Exod chap. xx ver.26

The other, or the present entrance in the highway was also, as I take it ab Origine and by some easy steppings or stairs, resting on the staging or landing-place above-mentioned, where all religious travellers etc. Entered, to hear divine services, and to perform at any time their own devotions at someone alter or other, and where their favourite saint presided; and five such alters, with their Tutelary Saints may be here observed; and such a number, etc. cannot be supposed to be for the service of any Lady Roisia, and single Hermit, or Anchoress; and it is not reasonable to think that religious Travellers, etc., could be admitted at all times, all hours and seasons, thro’ the cell of the Hermit, which was thro’ the passage that is now arched up. And that there was an Hermitage here, and this was the Oratory, and continued to be till the general suppression of the religious houses in the reign of King Henrey VIII, appears from a grant of that king, who in December 21, in his thirty first year, in consideration of one thousand seven hundred sixty one pounds five shillings, granted to (I) Robert Chester , Esp; Gentleman of his Privy Chamber, and Katherine his wife, the dissolved priory of Royston, with the Hermitage and this oratory, etc. c------- And that two or three Hermits might here cohabit, there is great reason to believe not only from the number of the alters in the oratory, but from the size of the bigness of it and the great number of travellers who passed by on the two famous military ways or roads above-mentioned. Hermits had gone off from their first design and institution, and had bid for several ages a long adieu to the Practice and example of their founder ( as they stiled )John the Baptist; instead of a desert, they seated themselves ( as here ) in places most frequented, near some eminent bridge, ferry or way, where great numbers of passengers were obliged to pass, which as it brought in a good competency and provision, for two or three, etc. So also, a necessity for such a number to do the duty required; one of these was the head or Custos of the Hermitage, and they had their chaplain or Capellani to officiate in the same; which I Take to be the very case of the Hermitage and Oratoty here in question. To prove this to have been the practice very antiently in the reign of King John, I shall hear annex an example from the Hermitage of Downham-Market in Norfolk, a Hermitage at the foot of the bridge of the said town, a place not to be compared with Royston for number and resort of travellers and passengers; where there were always resident four hermits, one of which was the head or Custos, and a perpetual, or an annual Capellan, assigned by the Abbey of Ramsey, to which House the hermitage belonged; as it is very probable, that at Royston did, to the Priory, when it was founded. I shall give the Dedd (it being a curiosity and sans date) as I extracted it sometime past, from the Evidence of the Honourable Sir Thomas Hare, Bart. Of Stow-Bardolph, Lord of the Manor of Downham Market

--------Haec est Conventio inter fratrem Ailettum qui tenet Heremit. De Downham & W’ persona Downham,quod ipse Ailettus per omnibus Decimis & Oblationibus ejusdem loci annuatim reddet Eccles. De Downham xii. Denar. Ad ~Pasch. In Festo autem Sci Andrei Capellan. De Downham Missam celebrabit in Capella Heremit. In Downham, & medietas Oblationum cedet Personae Eccles de Downh.& alia Medietas fratribus ejusdem loci. Nullus autem (k) Co......perpetuus praeter illos tres, qui modo ibi sunt, viz. Sigherus, Stammerus, & Turstanus, nec aliquis Capellanus perpetuus vel Annualis recipietur nisi per Eccles. Ramesiens. Cum assensu Perfsone Ecclef. De Downh. Qui Capellan.fidelitatem praestabit, quod in nullo diminuet Jus Paroch. Eccsef. De ab Ecclef. Rames. Ad quam si pervenire non poterunt eadem recipiant ab Downh. & non ab alia Seculares autem Viri si qui ibi fuerint pertinebunt ad Eccles de Downh. Tanquam Parochiani. Si vero Abbas aliquem de Monachis suis mittere voluerit, quamdiu placuerit ibi remanebit. Ista onventio facta est apund Ramsey in praesentia Domini (l) Roberti Abbatis & stita , hijs Testibus Will Priire & c.---------

The next thing remarkable in Table I is what our author calls the Grave of Lady Roisia, where I have observed the foundation of a brick staircase to have been; “Here (says he) she was buried, (m) “directly underneath, in this eastern point of the cell; and again, she was buried somewhat tumultuously and secretly in her chapel here, by. her most intimate friends; her skull and bones were found in the earth towards the bottom, as they emptied the place. They said the bones were very much decayed, and for the most part carried away with the rubbish. Her skull is still kept in the place but broken into several pieces, her teeth were very firm and white, and taken away by the towns people, and some of her bones too, tho’ they were not acquainted with her name and circumstance. I attentively viewed and considered her skull; anatomists know well, to distinguish a man’s from a woman’s.By all the skill I can pretend to in science, I dare pronounce it to be female, and we have no reason to doubt, that it was the head of our famous recluse.

(H) P7 and 8

(i) Newcourt’s repert V2 P801, In the Grant it passed thus --- Et inter alia Heremitagium de Berkway --- and it is part of the inheritance of Edward Chester Esq; together with the Priory at this day, which Edward is descended from the above-mentioned Robert; and this is also a proof that it is in the Parish of Barkway, as I before observed, that Royston was part of five neighboring parishes.

(k) The Word is obscure, likely Confrater

(l) Robert de Redings, Abot, in 1202

(m) P 8 and P47


We are told by (n) Leland, a name venerable amongst all historians and lovers of antiquity, that this very Lady Roisia was buried in the chapter house of the Priory of Chicksand in Bedfordshire, a priory of her own foundation. He had a commission from King Henry VIII, to search the Evidences, Records, and whatever was valuable in every religious house in England; and how much the World is indebted to this search, is very well known. This Leland then must be allowed to be a person able to satisfy us on the point in question, having so good authority on his side.

(n) Lel, Itin. V 1 P116

The learned Dugdale also (o) observes that in the year 1167, she lived in the aforementioned nunnery of Chicksand with her sister Essex among her nuns, her second husband ~Payn Beauchamp being dead. Yet has the doctor, unsupported by any voucher or authority, but that of his own fancy, brought her from her beloved Chicksands, beloved by all her relations for her sake, to this Royston Oratory. Upon account of her being buried at Chicksand, it is reasonable to think, that several of her descendants not only richly endowed the said priory, but were there also buried by her in the reign of King John we find Geffery Fitz-Piers, Earl of Essex ( who married Beatrix, Granddaughter of Beatrix, sister to Geffery de Magnavile, Lady Roisia husband ) to remove the body f the said ~Beatrix his wife, to the Priory of Shouldham in Norfolk, at that time founded by him, of which priory, the Beauchamp's Earl of Warwick descended from the said Geffery, were afterwards Patrons. ---- But our author, as an adept in anatomy, triumphs over the afore-cited Authorities with a scull in his hand, and with an Ipse Dixit, declares we have no reason to doubt that it was the head of our famous recluse.

It appears to have been a very ancient custom, and practice for Hermits to receive and admit the bodies of dead persons, men and women, to be buried in their oratories and chapels, as monks and cannons did in their conventional churches; this is well known (p) Dugdale in his History of the famous Guy Earl of Warwick (in the time of the Saxon king Athelstan) after his defeat of the Danish champion Colbrand. Has these words ----- “from whence the Earl, bent his course towards Warwick, and coming thither not known of any, for three days together took Alms of the hands of his own lady, as one of those thirteen poor people unto which she daily gave relief herself for the safety of him and her, and the health of both their souls. And having rendered thanks to her, he repaired to a hermit, that resided amongst the shady woods hard by, desiring by conference with him to receive some spiritual comfort, where he abode with that holy man, till his death and upon his departure out of this world, which happened within a short time, succeeded him in that cell; and continued the same course of life. For the space of two years after; but then discerning death to approach, he sent to his lady their wedding ring by a trusty servant, wishing her to take care of his burial. Adding also that when she came, she should find him lying dead in the chapel, before the alter and moreover that within fifteen days after she should depart life; where upon she came accordingly and brought with her the Bishop of the diocese as also many of the clergy, and other people, and finding his body there, did accordingly inter it in that hermitage , and was herself afterwards buried by him “ -----

Here we perceive that both men and women were admitted to be buried in the oratory of an hermit, so that the skull mentioned above may be the skull of a female , and yet not the skull of the Lady Roisia, and ‘till the doctor can bring some better proof, I shall remain a sceptic in this point, having good reason ( as appears ) to doubt, that it was the head of his famous recluse.

------ The next thing remarkable in Table I is what our author calls the (q) circular bench or podium encompassing the floor of the crypt, or as he expresses it ( P7) ‘ a kind of broad bench that goes “quite around the floor, next to the wall; broader than a step and not so high, as a seat; This was designed for her kneeling upon, rather for prostration in her particular acts of devotion.”


I look upon this ascent as a step to the several alters, and to distinguish their site (on which they stood) from the area or body of the oratory in which area all supplicants had their station and paid their devotions, at that alter, or saint they made choice of. There was not, I may say, one alter in these days where there was not, a like ascent; at this very time, such a Gradus, may be seen at the east ends of the north and south isles (as well as of the east end of the chancels) of most old churches in the country; it was always religiously observed and was looked upon as the sanctum sanctorum.

The last thing observable in Table I are a few images carved on the northeast part of the wall of the oratory, but as these belong to that group in Table III, I shall there treat of them.

TABLE II. The South side of the Oratory at Royston.


I shall here treat of the figures on the south wall of the oratory, in the same order as they stand, from right to left-hand, as ‘tis both just and reasonable to suppose that they were first cut out; and so proceed regularly, and not run from one figure to another , and from one Table to another, before the whole in that Table are accounted for, as our Author does , as may be seen thro his whole history of the imagery ( and by comparing P28 with P37 ) to make it better agree and tally with certain Monkish annals strangely stretched and applied, as will appear from what follows .

(n) Lel, Itin. V1 P116

(o) dugd. Baronage P 204. Mon.Angl. V2 P238

(p) Hist.Warwick P301

(q) P40


“Let us turn our eyes to the southside of Roisia’s Oratory, which I have drawn in Table II, there we have a large Piece of History, which I apprehend was cut by her, in the year 1187; our King Henry stands in complete Armour, his shield laid by him, he holds his sword upright in his hand. Before him stands two persons in long religious robes, the one has a miter on, a Pallium and a Archiepiscopal Crosier in his hand, and the other figure had been somewhat injured, but he holds a great crucifix in his hand. There are two other figures standing by, in long robes; one has a nobleman's coronet on.”

“This piece of history I take to be thus explained in Benedict Abbot, P464 ----- In the year 1187, the thirty third of Henry II. The king celebrated the festival of Christmas with great solemnity at Bedford, no doubt at Bedford castle, which was in Lady Roisia’s neighbourhood, and belonging to her son Simon de Beauchamp, probably she herself was there present. The historian takes notice of the many noble personages, then with the king, his son John, the archbishop of Dublin etc. At this time the king had notice, that at Dover, were just arrived from Pope Urban, Octavian Cardinal Archdeacon, a legate de Latere, and Hugh de Nunant, clerk, Domestick Chaplain to the king, whom he had sent to Rome, desiring his Holiness to send over a cardinal to crown his son John King of Ireland. The king went directly to London to meet them;they, by the authority of the pope took great state upon themselves, made a grand entry into Westminster Abbey, on the day of circumcision, had a miter on, and crosses carried before them, wherever they went, and wore red garments.”

“The king carried them over directly by the advice of his council, to Normandy, to make peace between him and the French king; he went to Albemarle, where Roisia’s son William de Magnavile, Earl of Albemarle met him, and very many of the hierarchy, nobility, knights, both of the continent and England. Just before the festival of the annunciation, the two monarchs of England and France met; William de Magnavile was then a great commander in the kings army; At first through the intolerable demands of the French king, they could not agree, but prepared to fight, and brought their armies into the field. At length the legates and the other archbishops, bishops, and nobility of both nations interposing, a peace was concluded between them.”

“------ This I take to be the meaning of the picture before us, nor do I think it to be ill designed; the mitered person is the cardinal Octavian, the other carrying the crucifix is Hugh de Nunant. Assuredly these are evident confirmations of the histories of these times, as recorded in our authors”


------ The explanations of these figures as given by our author, with his annals or chronological order (as he stiles it) to justify it, will appear, as I conceive, from what follows, to be quite vague, and wide of the true design. It favours too much of prophane history, and by is no means a proper decoration for an hermit’s or an anchoress's cell; and what levity does the doctor here ascribe to his lady Roisia? What a wandering recluse does he make her? Thus, retiring from her sacred cell, that religious life she had dedicated to herself to, in her very old age; when she had, as we say, one foot in the grave, and ‘tis probable her whole body, if we reflect, that in this year 1187, it was forty-three years complete, since the death of her first husband Geffery de Mandevile, as appears in his genealogy of (s) Dame Roisia. A time and season of life not proper or decent for a secular person, much less for one, who had professed herself a recluse, to sally out into such a gay part of life, as to celebrate with the king and his nobility, the festival of Christmas, which was always ( and especially in the times we are now speaking of ) kept with all manner of feastings, plays, interludes, masquerades, revels and dancings.

(r)see P 37 and Table II


---I hope therefore that I here offer, will be more to the purpose --- Here then is (I presume) the representation of the martyrdom (as it was prophanely called) of St. Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury, the person, with the sword erect, sets forth the murderer of that archbishop; the habit bespeaks his dignity, he is in pontificalibus;with a miter, a pallium and crosier-staff; not habited as a cardinal Archdeacon, as our antiquary calls Octavian. Of a like mistake may the doctor be said to be guilty, in asserting the other person carrying the crucifix, to be Hugh de Nunant, the king’s Domestick Chaplain, this person ( if rightly represented by him in table II) might seem to be the archbishops Cross-bearer, who always attended him, as appears from ancient history, which gives large accounts of the mighty debates and contests between the metropolitants of Canterbury and York about precedency in the bearing of their crosses. Hugh de Nunant, here called clerk and the kings Domestick Chaplain, was (if BP. (t) Godwin is to be credited) at this time Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, so that such an office cannot be supposed to be suitable to him either as the king's chaplain, or ambassador as he was, or as a bishop; yet we are told, that these pictures are not ill designed, and that these are evident confirmations of the histories of those times, as recorded in out authors. I cannot be of that opinion.

Quodunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi.

(t)Godw. De preful Anglia

But our Antiquary adds----- “that William Lilly who lives in (u) the house just over the oratory and was very assistant in drawing out the earth says, these two figures at first appeared painted over of a red colour, and I myself saw the remains of it. There are two little niches or cavities in the wall, to put lamps in, and another at the bottom, under the cardinal.”



This is confirmation that this is to represent St Thomas of Canterbury ---- I believe that all the figures were decorated and painted, but time, and the rubbish that covered them defaced their embellishments; I shall take the liberty to quote the way (w) Legend on the point in question ----- “and he was thus martyred in the yere of our lord XI.C.LXXI. And was LIII Yere olde, and sone after that (x), Saynt Thomas departed fro the pope , the pope wolde dayly loke upon the whyte Chesyble that Saynt Thomas had sayd masses in, and the same Daye, that he was matred, he sawe it turned into rede, whereby he knew well, that the same daye, he suffered martyrdom for the ryght of holy chyrche, and commanded masse of requiem solemnly to be songen for his soul.”

(w)Golden legend by Caxton P63

(x)The archbishop went to Rome, to appeal against King Henry II

---- upon a strict view of this piece of imagery, our author seems to me not to have represented it rightly. (y) The large crucifix here, stands between two figures of the archbishop, and the person stiled very falsely the cross bearer, as it is not borne by him; by what appears of him he has an emaciated face & with a forked beard, and, as I conceive, is to represent John the Baptist, so that the crucifix here is an alter between these two principal figures; and to these two (z) the Priory of Royston (as I shall shew ) was dedicated , and they were the principal parts of the priory seal. It is very probably that this cell and oratory, on a founding of the aforesaid priory, came into the patronage of the said priory; such instances being common in history, so that this might be one reason for having such an alter here, and it is also proof that Lady Roisia had no concern in this piece of imagery; the foundation of the priory being supposed by the author to be after her death. This explanation does not only do justice to the aforesaid figures, but also accounts for that niche or cavity cut in the wall, at the bottom under the crucifix or alter; which was for the lamps to burn before these saints; and I think, I may challenge our antiquary to shew such respect ever paid to the effigies of any cardinal, or cross bearer, when alive, and not canonized. --- The figure here, which represents a king, favours also the aforesaid explanation, and is, as I conceive, the figure of Herod, and so serves to clear up the history.

(y)There was never (as far as ever I know or can find) any crucifix on the staff borne by any archbishop cross bearer, the staff was only headed with some cross, so that this is certainly an altar.

(z)The feast of the nativity of St John Baptist, was antiently the annual feast of the town of Royston --- Newcourt Reporter. Vol 2 P875

------- The next thing remarkable in Table II, is the defaced crucifix, of which our author gives us account --- (a) “to the right of St Laurence and the French king, is a defaced figure, seeming to have been a crucifix; underneath it is a female figure perfect. I take this to have been a representation of the cross above ground”


That this was not the representation of the cross above ground, will appear from an original seal of the prior and convent of Royston, annexed to a MS Deed in Velom, in my collection of Abbey-seals, viz

----Omnibus praesentes litteras inspecturis (b) O.Prior de Cruce Roheys & ejusdem loci Diio.Novit Univsitas vra Nos dedisse, concessisse & hac praesenti charta Nra confirmasse Will Wiger pro homagio &Svitio fuo triginta &septem acr.tre nre in Camis de (c)Ereswell,&Tenend & Habend de Nob&Successoribus nris fibi & Et ut & Praesenti scripto sigillum Caplj nri fecim.apponi. Hijs Testibus.Baldewino de Essex&c

(a)P 40

(b)osbertus, as I take it, the deed is sans date.

(c)Ereswell in Suffolk, near Mildenhall, Ralph de Rochester, was lord of this village, held of the honour of Bologne, so that the priory appears to have been endowed with these lands by his gift.

By this seal it appears that the Royston Cross, or the Cros de Cruce Roheys, by which the Priory was stiled, was placed in the center of the seal between the two figures; and that the said cross had no crucifix thereon; but was headed with a plain cross patter, such as was used by the knights templar. The legend round the seal, and the figure on the right-side of the cross, are much defaced; I take the legend to have been S. Pr.& Convent.Scor Jobis Bapt. & Tho. Martiris de Cruce Roheys; that is, Sigillum Prioris & Conventus Santorum Johannis Baptiste & Thome Martiris de Cruce Roheys ---- The figure on the right-hand, somewhat broken, is that of St John the Baptist, he is in a loose vestment tucked up before, and bears in his right hand, erect, something resembling a twig, or tender branch, germinating; this is most probably the ‘Axeides, the locust, which was part of his food. The word (d)which we render locusts, signifies not living creatures, as some have conceived, but the tender tops of herbs and plants; and Burchardus in his description of the Holy Land, says, that he hath found in the monasteries of Palestine, near Jordan;a food, which the monks there use, of a sort of herbs called Locuste, the same (say they) which the Baptist fed on. But this I leave to the curious----- On the left-hand of the aforesaid cross is the figure of St Thomas of Canterbury in his Pontisicablibus.


“By this crucifix (says our Antiquary) is the figure of St Laurence. The roman archdeacon, with gridiron, the instrument of his passion, in his hand. He is in long garments besuiting his office, marked with a cross towards the bottom. He suffered martyrdom in the ninth perfection, in the reign of Gallienus, at Rome, it is celebrated by the church on August the tenth ---- Underneath him is the picture of a king, with a crown on, his hair dressed in the fashion of the times we are upon, the reign of Henry II; he lifts up both his hands, as in a sign of great fear and astonishment. These two figures were cut, as I apprehend, in the year 1173, and regards a memorable action that happened on St. Laurence, relating to our king Henry II, and Lewis the then king of France. The history is this ….

“ Roisia’s son William de Magnavile, Earl of Essex, was now with the king in Normandy, one of his chief councilors and generals, he was the first amongst the English nobles sworn on the part of the king to the marriage contract, betwixt his son John, and the daughter of the earl of Maurien. Hern’s Benedict. Abb.Petrob P43 ; this son John by the instigation of the French king immediately came to his aid with all his power, to ravage the dominions of the king of England, on the continent in Normandy, Aquitaine, Anjou and Brittany. The castle at Albemarle was first taken; then the French king besieged Vernoul with a vast army, and a great Apparatus of military engines and machines; where Hugh de Lacy and Hugh de Beauchamp, her (f) Brother-in-law, or cousin were constables, who defended it with great constancy, for a whole month. The Burghers having then spent all their provision, came to a three days truce with the French king, stipulating, that they should have liberty of going to the king of England, and requiring succour;which if it was not afforded to them on the third day, the festival of St Laurence;they would give up the town. Upon this they gave hostages to the French king, and he swore to them solemnly, that if on that day they delivered up the town he would restore the hostages.”

“The king of England mustered his forces immediately, under him William de Magnavile, Roisia’s son had a most eminent command. When they were in sight of Vernoul, eager to revenge the cause of their monarch, the French King treacherously sent his embassy to king Henry, desiring to have parly with him the next day, at a certain place by nine of the clock, which was agreed upon. But in the morning, neither the French king, nor any from him came to the place appointed, this was on St Laurence day, King Henry from thence beheld the town of Vernoul in flames. For the French king having thus deceived him, had the town delivered up to him by the Burghers, according to the agreement. Nevertheless, Lewis on his part, not regarding his oath, set fire to the town, carried away the Burghers, the cattle and hostages, and fled with great precipitation. He was forced to leave his tents, baggage, military engines and all his stores behind, fearing the vengeance of brave king Henry.”

“The king perceiving this, pursued him with the edge of the sword, and made a very great slaughter amongst the French, and took an innumerable company of prisoners, and continued the war all that campaign with very great effect ----- Thus Benedict the Abbot of Peterborough writes --- Let it be had in memory, and be it known that this flight of the French king was on Thursday the fifth of the Ides of August, on the vigil of St Laurence, to the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by punishing the wickedness of perjury, so soon revenged the injury offered to his martyr! Roger Haveden, who was Henry’s chaplain has the fame words, P 306

“This flight of the perfidious king is commemorated and carved by our lady Roisia on the wall of her chapel; and doubtless on the anniversary of this day she performed here her religious offices, to thank the almighty, for thus vindicating the honour of the king, and preserving her son; the figure of the king is Lewis VII of France.”

“This event made a great noise all over Europe, Polydore Virgil seems to confound it, with King Lewis’s besieging Roan the year following; for he writes, the French King used to keep St Laurence’s day very religiously. He ceased the siege and gave the inhabitants a formal truce, nevertheless some of his men making a secret attack upon the town, were discovered by our men, who invoking St Laurence; revenged the perfidy of Lewis with a great slaughter”

“St Laurence day is August 10; Upminster church in Essex, where Geffery de Magnavile her first husband had an estate, is dedicated to St. Laurence. In Walsingham’s Hypodigma Neustriae, P449 Edit. Francof. A like instance of the notion of St James’s punishing the Perfidy of Matthew Earl of Boloign, this fame year 1173; this year likewise her son William de Magnavile took prisoner in Battle Ingeram de Trie, a great man “

(d)Isidon. Peluf Epist 5 ---- Burch P550

(e) P28 and table II

(f) Roisia’s


What a surprising, long bead-roll of romance is here brought in by our author? In the principal figure (at this altar or crucifix) St Laurence, he could not possibly err, but in the group about it, he is extravagantly out; wide and true end and design of this piece, which is to represent scared and church history, agreeable to the place, and not prophane and secular. On the right-side of this crucifix stands also the figure of a bishop (or pope) with a (g) miter or rather Tiara, but of him our learned Antiquary is profoundly silent. This I presume is Pope Sixtus, or St Sixte, as he is stiled by the church of Rome, and to him and St. Laurence this altar seems principally to be dedicated. This St Sixte brought up St Laurence from his youth, and made him his archdeacon of Rome; in the commemoration – office or festival of St Sixte mention is made of St Laurence; as in that of St Laurence , mention is also made of St Sixte; their sufferings and martyrdoms bear an inseparable connection, so that agreeable to this, we see them here figured together , as they suffered, in a few days of one another, under emperor Galyen (h) or Decyan-----

“When Sixtus had refused to do sacrifice, and was brought into the prison of Mamertyn, the blessed St Laurence cried after him, saying, --- father why do you go without your son, priest why do you go without thy mother. To whom Sixte said, Son, I leave you not, but greater battles been due to the, and after three days though Deken shalt follow me priest.”

And in the office of the church of Rome, on St Sixtus’s (I) Day August 6th, as in that St. Laurence August 10th, we find the same words repeated----Quo progrederis fine filio, pater? Quo sacerdos, fine diacono properas ?.

(g)Urban the fifth, who flourished in 1362, was the first pope that took up the tiara, or Triple Crown, to set forth, that the vicar of Jesus ( tho’ his kingdom was not of this world) had Pontifical, Imperial and regal power. So that this piece of imagery seems by this, to be carved after that time.

(h)Galyen had two names, Galyen and Decyan, and under him, Sixte and Laurence suffered martyrdom, about the year of our lord 260. Gold. Legend, P211 and P207, 210.


Under the feet of this Sixte, we may also observe three (k) small figures, I don’t find our learned Antiquary’s good friend Benedict Abbas able to help him out here; of these we have no account given us; they may probably represent St Filicissiumus, St Agapitus and the aforesaid Sixte, (l) who all suffered and are commemorated together, on the sixth day of August. We are assured that the figure of the king here is Lewis VII of France, but as I have observed, this group of figures bears a relation to the sufferings etc. of St. Laurence, so that I am persuaded, it may with more justice be said to be Decyan or Galyen, as I shall afterwards endeavour to prove.

A.D. M.C.LXXVI (m)

“Our author proceeds and says----- “On the left hand-side of St. Laurence, and the French king, are three figures of a man, a woman and a child; all in long garments and marked towards the bottom with a cross; The woman lays her arm upon the child's neck; I take them to be Joseph, the Virgin Mary and our Saviour an infant----- Underneath them is the figure of a horse, a man, his sword and shield, all as thrown down; this, no doubt, means the conversion of St. Paul; our pious Lady as I apprehend, cut these figures on account of a very remarkable circumstance happening in the year 1176, which we find recited in Benedict Abbas, P130. In that year, King Henry II and the king his son along with him, held their court at Windsor upon the Christmas holy days; and Cardinal Hughesun, sent from the court of Rome, was at the same time at York with the Archbishop. Before the purification of the Virgin, and about the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, the king came to Northampton, and held a great Parliament there, of the hierarchy, the nobility and commons, and enacted the assize of the realm by their joint authority; i.e. They divided the realm of England into six circuits, and appointed three justiciaries to each circuit, much in the manner that had been observed ever since to this day, for the public administration of justice. The whole affair may be seen in the above cited author; who adds, it was done at Clarendon, and after recorded at Northampton. It is a matter of consequence, which our Lady Roisia, would be the more induced to take notice of, on account of her father having been Lord Chief Justice of England.”

“At the same Parliament at Northampton, upon the summons of the king, William King of Scotland appeared, with the bishops of Scotland, to acknowledge subjection to the Church of England-----These events I take to be the occasion of Lady Roisia’s cutting these figures on the wall of her chapel; there might be some particular incidents therein beside relating to her family, which we know not.”

“This year 1176 was a year highly glorious to our English monarchs;Walsingham tells us, here were in the court at once, ambassadors from Alphonsus King of Castile, Sanctius King of Navarre, Emanuel the Emperor of Constantinople, Frederick the Roman Emperor, William Archbishop of Rhemes, Henry Duke of Saxony, and of Philip Earl of Flanders.”


That the three figures of a man, a woman and a child are to represent the Holy Family, may be admitted, tho’ I do not remember, that I have ever met them as here figured and delineated; but the figure of the horse, a man, his sword and shield by him. Which, our Antiquary says (no doubt) means the conversion of St Paul, is far from the point in question, and is not to be admitted. (n) The conversion of St Paul is very delineated, the apostle is in Roman dress, in a groveling state and posture, by his horse on the ground; the apostle is unarmed; whereas the figure here stands upright, and in complete Armour, St Paul’s horse is always bridled and saddled, and very justly; the horse here is without any furniture. These circumstances fully persuade me, that some other person is here represented; the person then here figured is (o) St Ypolyte or Hippolyte, who is said to have been baptized by, and to be buried by the body of St Laurence; so that this makes part of that group of figures, attending on St Laurence, and bears a connection with the history of that saint. This Hippolyte was tortured and suffered martyrdom under the foresaid Emperor Decian. --- The Legend gives this account of him ---- “Than Decyan made him to be beaten with staves, and all to rent with combs of iron, and he confessed with a clear voice, that he was Crysten. And when he had despised these torments, he did him to be clothed with the vesture of a knight, that he torsore used in exhorting him than to receive his amstee, and his first chivalry, and Ypolyte said (p) I am the knight of Jesus Christ. And then Decyan replied with great wrath, delivered him to Valeryan the provost and then Valeryan made Ypolyte to be bound by the feet onto the necks of many wild horses, and made him to be drawn among thorns, briers and roches, until he rendered and gave up to God his spirit, he died about the year of our lord CCLXVI, and then Justine the priest took the body and buried it by the body of Laurence. Of this martyr faith Ambrose, in his preface. The blessed martyr Ypolyte considered that Jesus Christ was very duke, and he would be his knight, and had lever be his knight, than duke of knights, and he pursued not St Laurence, which was put under his keeping, but followed him; so that in suffering martyrdom he left the law of the tyrant, and came and possessed the treasures of very riches, which is the glory of the king perdurable and perpetual. And after these things done, Decyan and valeryan ascended into a golden chair for to go and torment Christian men; and Decyan was ravished of a devil and cried, O Ypolyte hath bound me with sharp chains and ledeth me away; and valeryan cried also, O Laurence thou drawest me with fire chains, and the same hour Valeryan died; and Decyan returned home and died the third day, tormented of the devil and cried , Laurence cease you a little, I conjure thee to cease thy torments and so died. “

Here also we may observe again that the figure which our Antiquary ascribes to the French king, is the figure and representations of (q) Decian the tyrant Emperor and Persecutor of the aforesaid saints, Sixtus, Laurence and Ypolite;the posture we perceive that the emperor to be in, bespeaks in some measure the torture he lay under, as expressed by the Legend; and thus, in this group of figures, and the imagery here all of a piece, and truly adjusted; free from those wild chimerical accounts introduced by our doctor, and ascribed to his Lady Roisia;as events, circumstances and incidents relating to her own family in 1176;and matters of consequence, which she would be the more induced to take notice of.

(k)Table II

(l)Breviar. Rom. Gold Legend P207

(m)P31 Table II

(n)Dr Stukeley, P26 has these words “we are to remark, that all our saints here have a cross cut in the lower part of their garments” He has not made good his remark here, his StPaul not having a cross

(o)St Ypolyte’s day is on the thirteenth of august, Breviar.Rom Gold Legend P203

(p)This may be one reason for our Saviour's station here as in Table II----another may be----In the same hour (when St Laurence was beaten with scorpions) a knight named Romayne,beleived in God and said unto St. Laurence, I see tosore thee a right fasre youngling standing and with a linen cloth clinging thy wounds----Gold. Legend

(q)On the tower of the church of St Laurence in Norwich, is to be seen the figure of St Laurence, and that of the emperor Decian in a falling posture as here; I believe the doctor won’t say, that Lady Rosia carved this; or, that this bears any relation to the French King which tower was built about 1470.

This Ypolyte or Hippolyte was held in such veneration in this Royston neighbourhood, that we find a town a few miles off, near to Hitchin, called Hippolites, and by corruption of this day, Eppallets or Pallets; the church of this vill, says a late historian ( r ) was dedicated to St. Hippolyte, from whom the vill received its name; he was a good tamer of colts, an excellent horse leach and so devoutly honoured for these qualities after his death, that all passengers that passed that way on horseback, thought themselves bound to bring their steeds to the high altar in this church, where this holy horseman was shrined, and a priest continually attended to bestow such fragments of Hippolyte's miracles upon their untamed colts and wanton Jades, as he had in store; and did avail so much the more or less, as the passengers were bountiful or hard handed; but he that was niggardly at his coin, had but a cold and counterfeit cure. The horses were brought out of North Street through the north gate and the north door of the church, which was boarded on purpose to bring up the horses to the altar, since which time the church has always been boarded.

( r )Chancey History of Hertfords P 398

After this, it may perhaps seem a matter of surprise to some persons, to perceive the doctor's great skill and judgement in knowing the scull of his Lady Roisia, (s) tho’ broken into several pieces; and his not being able to distinguish between St. Paul and St. Ypolyte; not knowing an apostle, from a jockey, or an horseleech, as Sir Henry Chancey, has it.

But there remains still one figure to account for, the woman that we see at the foot of this cross or defaced crucifix, (t) “To the right of St, Laurence (says our Antiquary) and the French king, is a defaced figure, seeming to have been a crucifix, underneath it a female perfect, perhaps the female figure underneath it is Lady Roisia”


The lady Roisia is so often brought on the stage that she is a Crambe, more than Bis Repetita; I had much rather believe it to be the figure of Concordia. When Valerian had a commission from Decyan the Emperor to persecute St. Ypolyte, “He found (says the (u) Legend) that all were brought to fore him. And whan he would have constrained them to do sacrifice, one named St Concordia (x) Novice of Ypolyte answered for them all, we had rather die with our Lord chastely, than live sinfully. And then Decyan being present, commanded that she should be beaten with plommets of lead, unto the time that she gave over her spirit. And Ypolyte said, sir, I thank thee, that thou haste sent my novice to fore the sight of thy saints” ------- Or it may set forth the figure of Tryphony, the emperor Decyan’s wife, which as the said Legend shows, ---- “ was much cruel, and when she saw this thing (viz, the torture and death of her husband (y) Decyan )she left all, and took Cyrille her daughter, and went to Saint Justine, and was baptized with many other, and that other day after that as Tryphone prayed, she gave up her spirit and died; and Justine the priest, buried her body by St Ypolyte. And then XLVII knights hearing, that the queen and her daughter were becoming Christian, came with their wives to Justine the priest, for to receive baptism. Claudius the emperor, when Cyrille would not do sacrifice did do cut her throat, and did do behead the other knights, and the bodies were borne with the other into the field Verane, and there buried” ------

Here give me leave to observe, that those figures above, as in Table II in battle-array, as an army; and which the doctor would have us believe, to be the two armies of the king of France and of (z) England may perhaps represent these knights thus martyred, or that great and noble army or company of martyrs; which all church history teaches us, fell by the hand of Decyan. (a) “He began right cruelly to persecute the church and Christian men, and commanded that they should be destroyed without mercy; and many thousands of martyrs were slain.” And that it represents an army of saints, a spiritual and not a temporal army, appears from that great arch or cavity in the wall, under them, made on purpose to place lamps and lights in, to burn before them. At the end of Table II and also in the beginning of Table III, may be observed a cross, and of this he gives us the following account

“(b) St Christopher went into Lucia in Asia Minor, to preach the gospel; once on a time, before a great assembly of people there, he stuck his staff into the ground; it took root immediately, produced leaves, flowers and fruit, in token of the truth of his doctrine, which much furthered their conversion. On the right hand of the aforementioned figure of St Catherine in our oratory, we see this cross-like staff of St Christopher, cut by Lady Roisia thus amusing herself on his anniversary 25 July, when reading the Legends of his Life; we see it likewise in Table II, to show the continuity of the sculptures “



(u)Gold Legend P203

(x)That is nurse of Ypolyte, see Ypolytes life in the Golden Legend P203

(y)Gold. Leg P203


(a)Gold Leg P1986 This Decyan, or Decius the emperor, raised the 7th persecution against the Christians, as church history testifies, Nicephorus says, that the number of martyrs in his time could not be reckoned no more than the sands in the sea L.5.C.29



The account that we have of St Christopher’s staff being turned into a cross, I shall just mention, referring my reader to my remarks on Table III.

When St Christopher had set our Saviour down, having carried him over a river, and complained to him, that he weighed almost as if he had all the world upon him; Christ replied to St Christopher, (c) “Marvel thou no thing, for thou hast not only borne all the world upon thee, but thou hast borne him that created and made all the world upon thy shoulders. I am Jesus Christ the King; and because that thou know that I say the truth, set thy staff in the Earth by thy house, and thou shalt see tomorrow that it shall here flower and fruit. And Christopher set his staff in the earth and when he arose in the morn he found his staff like a palmer bearing flowers, leaves and dates “ ----- This therefore is what is called a Palmers-cross, which we find mentioned often in old history, and stands here as an alter to St Hyppolyte, the principle image; and it is highly probable, such a cross was before the image of Hyppolyte in the church is in Table II; and it is quite preposterous, and to confound things to place it in Table III by the image of St Katherine; The sculptures being easily to be distinguished, and to be known by the walls, south and west on which they are delineated.

The last thing observable in Table II, is the two sepulchral stones with figures cut on them on the circular bench or ascent, “this perhaps (says our (d) author) “our pious Lady cut, as a memorandum of a monument of her father and mother; which afforded matter for her contemplation, on days of their obit “

I have already observed that it was the practice and custom of hermits to admit men and women to be buried in their oratories, as monks and canons did in their conventional churches; so that our authors assertion, that this is in remembrance of Roisia’s parents (till it is better proved) must be looked upon as a mere conjecture, a fancy that has nothing to support itself with.

(c)see table II and III


TABLE III. The West side of the Oratory at Royston.



The first piece of imagery that offers itself here, is the altar of St Katherine ---- “Toward the chief crucifix, says the doctor, (e) which is as it were the High-Altar of our chapel, is cut the figure of St Katherine of Alexandria, with a wheel, the instrument of her passion in her hand. She has a crown on her head, as being of the blood royal of Egypt; we are told in the Legends that this eminent virgin and martyr was imprisoned for twelve days, no person permitted to come near her, even to bring her any sustenance, but a dove miraculously admitted to her, and brought her all necessities. This is cut on the left side of the tablet of the crucifix; there is a cavity sunk into the wall, which is to represent a prison; in one end of it, the virgin sits in a disconsolate posture; in the other end she is represented as lying with a cross marked on her garment; underneath her is a hand stretched out and a heart, meaning her zeal for religion, and the protection of providence, shown toward her. The like above, and the dove hovering over her, as mentioned in the Legends. There is a very interesting reason why Lady Roisia cut these figures of St Katherine here, which belongs to the year 1177; the story is thus told in Benedict Abbas, Page 160. Philip Earl of Flanders and William de Magnavile Earl of Essex, her son, took upon themselves the crosses of Jerusalem pilgrimage in 1176; the year following, after Easter, they with many Barons and Knights went on the pilgrimage. When they came to Jerusalem, officiating to themselves the brethren of the Temple and knights Hospitallers, and Raymond prince of Antioch, and in a manner the whole militia of the Holy Land, thy besieged a certain castle belonging to the pagans, which was called Harangh. When this was told to Saladin, the sultan of Babylon, he gathered together the kings, princes under him, and more than 500,000 horses and foot, entered upon the territory of the Christians, and fixed his tents not far from the holy city of Jerusalem. The knights Templars and Hospitallers and soldiery of the king of Jerusalem, who stayed there to guard the city, advanced against the pagans, the bishop of Bethlehem carrying the Holy Cross before them. The Christians were not above 20,000 fighting men, yet by the power of the almighty, they obtained the victory; this happened 1177, in the plains of Ramah, on the day of St Katherine, Virgin and martyr, 25 November.”


The great crucifix above-mentioned with the figures of the virgin Mary, and St John the Evangelist, on each side of it, appears (as it is also larger than the rest) to be the chief high altar of this oratory. Such an apparatus, a crucifix, with a John and a Mary, as the common people called them, was in the time of the popery required and enjoined to be in every cathedral and parish church in England and was usually placed in a gallery erected between the nave or the body of the church, and the choir or chancel, over the screen that divides them. It was called the Rood-loft, from a great (f) Rood or image of our Saviour on the cross, made generally of wood and painted, and set up between the images of the Virgin and St John. Here was also an Antependium, or curtain let down before them, when service was over, but in time of service, they were lighted up with lamps and wax tapers, and the altar under it was called the Altar of the Crucifix. ------ In those days, weak people were fond of being buried as near as possible to this place as it appears from the wills of many persons, and from the great number of gravestones which may be observed in most churches to be crowded together. Chaucer’s good wife of Bath, mentions this in her prologue, speaking of her fourth husband -----

“He died when I came for Hierusalem,

And lieth in grave under the Rood-beem"

----- some of these were thought to have more virtue and eminency in them than others; Fox (g) has given us several instances of this, especially in that of the Rood of grace, which in reign of King Henry VIII, was exposed by the Lord Cromwell, at St Paul's cross in London, and there torn in pieces by the populace. No wonder then is it to find here such a crucifix, decorated as was enjoined to be in all churches. ---- On the right-hand side of this crucifix or altar stands the figure of St Katherine, to whom it is reasonable to conclude this oratory or chapel was dedicated; this is what was called the Imago Principalis, in respect of several other less, inferior altars etc. set up in churches as we see here.


(f)Thus Holy Rood-Day, and Rood-Lane in London famous for the making of them

(g)Atts and Monum V2 P250 and 431, V3 P83

Robert de (h) Winchelsea, Archbishop of Canterbury about the year 1300, made an order or decree, confirmed by his successor Walter Reynolds, by which the parishioners throughout all the archdeaconries of his province were appointed to see that the image of that saint, to whose memory the church, chapel etc. Was dedicated, should be erected, or set up in the chancel of every parish church; and in another of the constitutions of the said archbishop Robert, amongst the church furniture to be provided at the charge of the parish, the image principalis is one; Scilicet Illius Sancti ad cujus honorem Ecclesia consecrata est; that is ---- The image of that saint to whose honour the church is dedicated. And there appears a far more ancient provision for this in the council or synod of celichyth held in 816 ---- Praecipimus etiam unicuique Episcopo, ut habeat (i) depictum in pariete Oratorij, aut in tabula, vel etiam in Altaribus, quibus Sanctis, sit utraque Dedicata. Our author calls this the high altar of the oratory, yet tells us that Lady Roisia cut this in 1177, I appeal it to every candid reader to determine, whether it is reasonable to think the interior altars can be said, or supposed to be before the chief or high altar; yet our learned doctor has affected this, in saying that the altar of St Laurence was (k) made in 1173, and that of St. Paul (or Hippolyte) in 1176; if this is not an {undeciphered}, I know what to style it.

And that the cavity (on the left side of this crucifix or altar ) sunk into the wall, is to represent the prison of St Katherine will appear also to be a great mistake----- This is to set forth another piece of furniture, in churches, in old times; and that is the sepulcher of our lord; the remains of such sepulchers may be observed by any curious person in several old churches even at this day. These sepulchers being in similitude of our Saviour's tomb in the rock, they were always erected near to the high altar, as here, and generally on the north-east side of the chancel, by the altar. Thus Thomas Fiennes (l) Lord Dacres, by his will bearing date, September 1, 1531, bequeathed his body to be buried in the parish church of Herst Monceaux in Sussex, on the northside of the high altar, appointing that a tomb should be made for placing there the sepulcher of our lord; and Sir Henry Colet Wills, if he dies at Stebunhith to be buried at (m) Sepulcher, before St Dunstan in the said church; and his monument is to be seen at this day, at the north-east end of the chancel of the said church of Stepney near London, which church is dedicated to St Dunstan, so that here is proof both of the station of the imago Principalis, and of the sepulcher of our lord. Great wax lights were generally burning at this sepulcher, and here we may perceive two arches, or nich-like cavities ( as the doctor himself observes ) cut in the wall, which were made to set lamps in as we may suppose, says he, on her ( St Katherine’s anniversary, November 25; whereas they were to light up the sepulcher, and thus we find the biggest niche to be at the head of the sepulcher, and near to the body of our lord, whose figure, I shall show that to be, lying on his back. John Wethamstede abbot of St Alban’s appointed 12 wax lights to burn about the sepulcher of our lord, there, and gave money (as many in that age did) to support them forever: Great pomp and pageantry in those days of darkness were used in all churches at this sepulcher on Easter day; when the crucifix was taken out of this sepulcher (in which it was deposited in a solemn manner on Good Friday) by the priest, on the saying of this part of the office of the day --- surrexit, non est hic--- The figure then lying on his back, is not the figure of St. Katherine, but that of our Saviour in his shroud, as dead in his sepulcher, and no wonder is it to see the dove hoovering over him, a proof of the deity; and this is still further confirmed by the heart and hands with hearts on them, as the doctor calls them, and to be seen in the tablet or alter of St. Katherine.

In many ancient churches and religious places, this coat-armour made be observed --- Gules, an heart between a dexter and a sinister hand and a dexter and a sinister foot couped and pierced, Saltireways, Argent. This is called by the Romanists the shield of the five wounds, the hands therefore and the feet pierced are to represent the wounds made by the nails, by which our lord was fastened to the cross, as the heart pieced is to represent the wound made by the spear that pierced his side. The church of Rome has a solemn mass, called the office of the Quinque Vulnera, or the five wounds, and observes also on the seventeenth of September the festival (n) of the five wounds of St Francis, commemorating that impression which our Saviour (as they will have it) made on St Francis’s hands, feet and side, the prints of his own most sacred wounds. This festival being appointed to be observed about the year 1400, is as an Aera, and shows that this part of the imagery could not be carved until after the death of Roisia. St (o) Francis flourished and founded his order of Franciscan monks about the year 1200, and the order was not confirmed by the pope until the year 1207, about twenty years after the death of Roisia. Of a like error, I take our antiquary to be guilty in relation to the woman, that sits at one end of the sepulcher, “the virgin Katherine, as he says in a disconsolate posture at the end of the prison. This woman, as I take it, as well as that other woman (whole head only is now apparent, and of whom he has Ne unum Verbuni quidem ) are representations of St Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting against the sepulcher, as we read in St Matthew, Ch. XXVII Ver 61.

(h)Linwood’s Provinc. Oxon. Fol 203

(i)Spelm. Concil V I P 328

(k)P.28 and P.31

(l)Dugd. Baron. V.2 P244

(m)Doctor Knights Life of Dean Colet. P7 and Miscellan P462

(n) septemb 17, Offc. Impression. S.S. Stigmatum in Corpre beati Francisei, Duplex ---- Pope Benedict who came to the chair 1394 ordained this office. See Breviar. Rom. P978, & Helvici, chronolog/ P 138

(o)Matt. Paris.340 &c. St Francis was canonized in 1229, his day is kept on the fourth of October, calendar roman.

And now give me leave to appeal to every candid reader, and ask him, what he thinks of the very interesting reason, that our antiquary says there was, why Lady Roisia cut these figures of St Katherine here in 1177. Let anyone read the story told, and the history applied by him, and give me his sentiments of this principal part of the imagery; he might methinks, with equal truth and justice, and as good a grace, when he was on these crusade expeditions, have stopped short of Jerusalem, and told us, it was the Ephesian-Matron.


The next figure in Table III to be considered is that of St Christopher (p) ---- “He is represented, ( says our author) with our Saviour an infant on his shoulder, and a great staff in his hand; he is reported in the Legends of his life to be of a huge bulk of body and strength, and here carved larger than the other figures; It is said in the history of his life, that considering his great stature and strength, and how he might best serve god, and, be useful to making, he built himself a cell by a river’s side, where was neither bridge nor boat, and there employed himself in carrying over all passengers; this saint was thought to have a special privilege in preventing tempests and earthquakes, for which reason we see him so often painted in churches of old. Whether or no Lady Roisia paid this regard to St Christopher on account of his manner of life, somewhat resembling that she had devoted herself to , we cannot affirm, but the main reason why she formed his picture here, I ascribe to that event which our historians recite in the year 1185, for then happened a most terrible and remarkable earthquake in all England in the month of march, such a one as never known before, many houses thrown down, even such as were built with stone, a thing not very common then Lincoln Cathedral split from top to bottom, the first of May following the eclipse of the sun, soon after great thundering, and lightning and tempest, many men and cattle destroyed, many houses burnt----- Benedict abbot P436 &.


About the northwest end of the church, was the place or station of St Christopher, and here we meet with him in our oratory, and thus in the old record mentioned by our author ---- “The king to the sheriff of Hampshire greeting, we command you, that out of the rents issuing from your county, you cause to be painted in the queen's chapel at Winchester upon the gable towards the west, the image of St Christopher, who holds in his arms as usual our blessed Saviour, and the cost which you lay out on this work shall be accounted for in our exchequer, witness the king &c.” And very lately was discovered on the northwest corner of the church of Tersfield in Norfolk, by the gable end, a very large painted Christopher, over the north door there (q) passing thro’ water or a river with several fish about his feet.

Another reason of St Christopher’s station here is, that he was an hermit, his first entering that life was owing to an hermit (r) “ And when he had long fought and demanded where he should find Jesus Christ, at the last he came to a desert to an hermit that dwelled there, and this hermit preached to him of Jesus Christ and informed him in the faith diligently, and said to him; this king whom thou desires to serve requests the service that thou must oft start. And Christopher said to him, require of me something, and I shall do it for that which thou requested I may not do. And the hermit said, thou must then wake, and make many prayers, and Crystofore said to him. I wote not, what it is, I may do no such thing, and then the hermit said to him knoweth thou such a river in which many may be perished and lost to whom Christopher said I know it well. Then said the hermit because thou art noble and high of stature and strong in thy members, thou shalt be resident by the river and thou shall bear over all them that shall pass there, which shall be a thing right convenable to our lord Jesus Christ whom thou desire to serve. Then said Christopher certes this service may I well do, then went he to his river, and made there his Habitable for him, &c”

Thus we see that as Christopher was a hermit himself and had an hermit for his guide and preceptor, he must be allowed to be a proper figure, a piece of furniture highly just in this place, the oratory of a brother hermit, so that our antiquary had no need of putting his invention on the rack to search for events so foreign, to bring in earthquakes, eclipses, thunder and lightning, tempests, splitting of Lincoln cathedral, &c. And to ascribe this to be the main cause why Lady Roisia formed this in 1185.

Nec Deus interfit, nisi dignus Vindici Nodus, Inciderit


(q)St Christopher is placed over the north door because children to be baptized were usually brought in at it, in allusson to the water in baptism, which brings salvation and safety to infants, as this saint did to all he carried over the water ---- Blomefield’s Hist. Norss, V2, P657

(r)Gold. Legend P176

The next thing observable is what our author (s) calls the lower tablet of the crucifix, under the chief crucifix of the oratory ---- “under St Katherine is the image of a king and a queen, on the left a great number of figures male and female, extending themselves all along the north side of the oratory under St Christopher and there can be no manner of doubt, that the king and queen presents us, with effigies of Henry II and his Queen Eleanor; these figures seem to be cut with somewhat more delicacy than the rest. The queens dress over her neck is more nicely designed and the king has manifestly a great collar round his neck with a great jewel hanging before upon his breast, he leans his right hand upon a shield indicating his warlike disposition. These royal pictures she ( Roisia ) made as well on account of the personal qualities of that prince, of great wisdom, justice, piety, magnificent, valorous, as that he and his mother the empress Maud, and grandfather Henry I and great grandfather the Conqueror had been patrons and benefactors to her fathers, and to both her husband's families, likewise her son Magnavile and cousin Hugh De Beauchamp were all this time employed in his wars. The lesser crucifix means an altar, the figures of St John and virgin Mary as before &c.


The situation of this altar is somewhat particular, just below the great or high altar of St Katherine and, as I take it, is also dedicated to the same saint, and was as an altar of the benefactors to this cell and oratory; about which we see so many standing, where they were commemorated, and prayed for. Our Antiquary has a long detail of the personal virtues of King Henry II and his queen, whom he will have to be here represented; historians, that I have consulted, set forth that king in a different light. His ill treatment of the clergy, their favourite St Thomas, the invading the privileges of mother church, his keeping fair Rosamond, his public blasphemous speech on taking the city of Mentz, “ I shall never love God any more, that hath suffered a city so dear to me, to be taken from me “--- which is pointed out as the cause of his death, and a long such like &c could have but small influence on any religious person or recluse to commemorate this monarch. And as to his queen Eleanor, she is charged with siding and taking part with her sons in rebellion against him and was committed to prison for her malpractices. ---- It is reasonable then to think that Henry II who as an old (t) historian justly observes, was forsaken of his friends, forsaken of his wife, forsaken of his children, forsaken of himself, could merit this station? We must therefore look out for some other royal personages, and here give me leave to say, that they seem to represent either King Edward III, and his queen, or rather King Henry V and his queen Katherine. Our Antiquary has in some measure pointed this out, the king, (says he) has manifestly a great collar round his neck with a great jewel hanging before his breast. What great jewel is this, but that of St George? What great collar can this be, but the collar of that noble order? An order not founded before the reign of Edward III. He leans his right hand upon a shield, indicating his warlike disposition; who proved that more than Edward III, or Henry V? As to the dress of the queen it is such as becomes the consort of a monarch.

The next figure to be considered, is that marked No I (u) “Next to this lesser crucifix is manifestly a shield or coat-armorial, the Fess on it is very plain, high raised, and the other marks or sketches so like to cross-crosslets, that we cannot (says our author) help supposing it to be the arms of Beauchamps &c Gules, a Fess between six cross-crosslets, Or “


How the doctor has here contradicted himself in ascribing these arms to Hugh de Beauchamp who lived in the conquerors' time, and yet maintaining that taking up of coat-armour, and the crosses particularly began, in the time of the crusade under Henry II. I have already shown where I have also proved that William de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who died 1298, was the first that bore that arms, so that Roisia could not possibly have any part in cutting of it.

But our author observes (w) “That the Bedfordshire branch of the Beauchamps, to which Roisia belongs, as wife to Payn de Beauchamp, Baron of Bedford &c lived at the Hoss in Bletneshoe or Bletsoe near Bedford, where the Lord St John now dwells, who is descended from them, as well as the Seymour-Beauchamps, and Piercy of the Duke of Somersets family.”


Here will appear to be a complication of errors, that the Beauchamps branched out into many noble families is well known, and each particular branch had its proper, particular arms --- The Beauchamps of Warwick, who derive their stem from Walter de Bello Campo ( in the reign of Henry I) Lord Elmeley, which Walter bore Gules, a Fess between six cross-crosslets, Or --- The Beauchamps of Bedford, as far as I can find, bore ---- quarterly, Or and Gules over all a Bendlet sable ----- John Beauchamp Lord Bletsoe died as Dugdale informs (x) us in the fourteenth of Henry IV and left Johm, his son, who dying a minor, Margaret his sister and heir was married to Sir Oliver St John, Knight, who quartered Humsrevile, Delahere, Paveley, Foliot, and Beauchamp, but Beauchamp here is ---- Gules, a Fess between six Martlets Or, which are the arms also of the Beauchamp, Lord of St Amond, and of Powick. But let us next consider the Seymour-Beauchamp, as quartered by the Duke of Somerset, and that is--- Vairy, Argent and Azure; the arms of Beauchamp Lord Hacche, part of the said Dukes title; and the Piercy's Earls of Northumberland quartered the Warwick arms. These things are trite, and if our author had consulted the modern peerage, the British Compendium, &c he would have been better instructed. But to turn to Figure I the person here represented is (as I conceive) the great and noble Richard Earl of Warwick, in the reign of King Henry V, that he had a title to be here figured, the pedigree here will show, as the Lordship of Newcells (in which Lordship, the cell, and Oratory was ) seems to be held by him of the king, in capite, and descended to him as heir to Geffery Fitz-Piers Earl of Essex, which Geffery, by the marriage of Beatrix daughter and heir of William de Say, had in her right the estate of Eudo Dapifer, and the Magnaviles, as their direct and immediate heir. And it was a practice (y) in ancient days, that they who were either lords of the manor, patron of the church, or benefactors thereto, or held any fees or lands of inheritance within the parish did usually set up their coat-armour, and sometimes their pictures (drawn as near to the life as they could) in the windows. It was also usual for those who held under any lord to do the same, out of respect and honour to him, as a dependent on him; and as there were no windows here to commemorate them in, we see figures cut out of the chalk. And thud we may account for not only the figure No.I of Richard Earl of Warwick, but also of King Henry V, who was lord of this hundred, which descended to him on the death of his brother Thomas Duke of Clarence, in the ninth year of his reign, which proves at the same time the age of this piece of imagery. This Earl Richard was the (z) greatest hero of the age he lived in, so eminent for his wisdom, nurture and manhood, that he was styled by foreign princes; ---- The Father of Courtesy. He it was, who was sent ambassador to the French king to demand the Lady Katherine his daughter, in marriage for his master king Henry V; was appointed tutor to King Henry VI, and dying April 30, 1439, full of fame and honour, was buried at Warwick in our lady-chapel, where he has a most magnificent tomb.

See family tree on original manuscript page 78 of 85

(s)P 40

(t)Bakers Chron P55

(u)P41, &c

(w)P20, 21

(x)Dugd.Baron, V2 P252

(y)Burton’s Hist. Of Leicester P97

(z)See Dugdale’s account of him in his Hist. Of Warwick P325

This Earl Richard was most likely (as Capital Lord of Newcells ) a benefactor to this cell and oratory, that the imagery therein was carved about his time, is apparent from the dress, the apparatus, &c of the figures; and that both he and his royal master were great friends to the order of hermits, I shall show from good authority. (a)----- Whether, says Sir William Dugdale, it was out of respect to the memory of the famous Guy (who was a hermit) or to view the rareness of its situation, I cannot say, but certain it is, that King Henry V, being on a time at Warwick, came to see it, and did determine to have founded a Chantrey here for two priests, had he not been by death prevented. After which Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, bearing a great Devotion to the place, whereupon then stood nothing but a small chapel and a cottage, in that which the hermit dwelt, in the first of Henry VI, obtained license to do the like &c for two priests, which should sing mass in the chapel there daily, for the good estate of him the said earl, and his wife during their lives, and afterwards for the health of their souls, and the souls of all their parents, friends, with all the faithful deceased. Of which Chantrey William Berkswell (afterwards Dean of the Collegiate Church in Warwick) and John Bevington were the first priests, for whose maintenance, and their successors, the said earl, in the ninth of Henry VI, had license to grant the manor of Asborne in Warwickshire with one message, one carrucate of land and CXVII.s. xd. Of yearly rent lying in Whitnash and Wellesbourne, And because he thought not that enough, by his last will and testament he ordained, that in all haste after his decease, the remnant of what he had designed for his Chantrey priests there, should by his executors be delivered, and made sure to them, and that the chapel there, with the other buildings, should be new built, as he the said Earl had devised, &c and then did Earl Richard, in memory of the warlike Guy, erect that statue there, yet to be seen on the south side within the chapel.

And here in our oratory there was most likely a Chantrey at this lower or little altar, from that group of figures here standing, and also one or two Chantrey priests, to officiate at it. But to proceed ---- (b) “No. II (says our author) is an imperfect figure, the chalk having been rubbed away, the head plain with a helmet on; it is not unlikely this should mean William de Magnavile father of Roisia’s first husband, whose lady was Margaret daughter and heiress of the great Eudo Dapifer.”


What is above called a helmet, appears rather to be a round bonnet or cap, such as was worn by persons about the reigns of King Henry fifth and sixth, as appears from several pieces of painting in glass windows and carvings on stone; that such caps were worn then, may be seen from Sir William © Dugdale’s representation of the combat in Paris, between Jon de Astley and Peter de Masse in 1438, and from that in Smithfield between the aforesaid John and Sir Philip Boyle in 1441.

(d)” But No. VIII, and No. IX are distinguished (says the doctor) above the rest by hearts cut on their breasts, it is natural to judge from hence, that the mean Roisia’s two husbands.”


As these figures are marshalled, the sons of Lady Roisia (marked No III, IV and V) do not only take place of her second husband Payn de Beauchamp, but of her first husband Geffery de Magnavile, their own father; whether this is just or natural, I leave to any herald. Our author proceeds, and in the same manner accounts for thirteen, as marked by him in Table III, yet two remain unaccounted for: The Vere family from whom Roisia was descended is entirely omitted; some of these surely ( as there was room ) might have been introduced with equal grace and justice, and in so doing our author would have shown his patroness to have had some filial respect, and to have expressed the honour and duty that she owed to her own parents;--- But these figures are ascertained by mere imagination, they bear no relation to Roisia’s family, or to persons who lived in the reign of Henry II. They are much more modern representations, the head dress not only of the men, but that of the women prove the same; that the head dress of the ladies about the year 1400, ad afterwards, was as is represented in Table III may be observed from ancient figures in glass windows and in stonework. In a window over the fourth arch of the nave of the church of Oxburgh, on the north side is this inscription ---- Orate pro animab. D Roberti de Weyland & Cecilie Uxoris ejus : and in an opposite window on the south side is the shield of the said Sir Robert who was lord of this town, ------ Argent, on a cross gules, five Escallops, Or; and on the stones that support the arches of the said windows, on the outside , are to be seen two heads carved, probably to represent Sir Robert, and his lady who died in 1385; He, with a bonnet or cap, and she in a head dress agreeable to what we see in table III; and in the chancel of the said church, which chancel was built about the reign of Henry VI, is the head of a woman carved in stone with the same dress, and serves as a pedestal to support one of the great beams or principals of the roof. These figures seem to be carved in or about the reign of king Henry V, it is very probable that some Chantry, fraternity or guild, was held here at this altar, and that they represent some particular members of the same, who were remarkable for their benefactions &c to it.

(a)Dugdale warwick P183


(c)Hist Warwick P72, 73


Give me leave, by way of CONCLUSION, to sum up in brief the evidence of the remarks here made-----

It appears then, that there was an oratory with a hermit's cell at Royston in the Saxo age, long before the time of the Lady Roisia, so that she could not have any part or share in the founding of it.

It appears to have been the oratory of someone, or of a body of hermits, and continued to be so ‘till its dissolution in the reign of king Henry VIII.

It appears that the imagery or figures on its wall, bear absolutely a relation to sacred, and not to prophane history, that the figures were a proper apparatus, highly agreeable to such ancient chapels or oratories, and that some of them were enjoined by scared authority to be set up in every church &c. As all antiquity bears witness, which must suffer by any prophane secular description or application of them.

It appears in part what images were enjoined to be in religious places set apart for worship, where the proper station of some saints was, which may be ascertained and observed by curious persons at this very day, and that the Lady Roisia had no part in the carving of them, out of any private family view, or to represent any history of her own time.

And lastly, it appears that Lady Roisia was not buried here, but at Chicksand in Bedfordshire.

This being the real and true state of the Royston Oratory, I shall pass by those reflections or conclusions that the doctor has drawn from the supposed foundation of the Lady Roisia, as quite foreign, and of no moment to the subject in question.



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