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THE

YOUTH'S INSTRUCTER

AND

GUARDIAN.

DECEMBER, 1855.

CONISBOROUGH CASTLE.*

(With an Engraving.) Among the relics of baronial grandeur which remain to connect the present time with centuries on which the venerable hoar of antiquity has settled, the castle of Conisborough must be classed. Approached from any quarter, its position is commanding; and viewed in connection with the Valley of the Don, it presents and fills up a scene of great beauty. The note-book of Leland has the following quaint entry:.“ From Tikhil to Cunesborow, a four ñiles by stony way, and enclosed ground. Wher I saw no notable thing but the castel standing on a rokket of stone and diched. The waulles of it hath been strong, and full of toures. Danus flumen alluit villam.

The rolls of the Saxon era show that during that period, the village of Conisborough-the Caer Conan of the British, the Conanburwghe of the Saxons, and the Borough Conan of Robert of Gloucester—was a place of considerable importance; and among its earliest proprietors was Harold, a Saxon Earl, and successor of Edward the Confessor as King of England. Brave, but ambitious, his reign was

* The writer gratefully acknowledges his obligations to the “ Village Sketches," and other authentic records. VOL. XIX. Second Series.

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brief and troublous; and, after performing prodigies of valour, he was found dead upon the battle-field, and interred in Waltham Abbey.

Among the nobles who drew the Norman bow by the Conqueror's side when he landed on the Sussex coast, none claimed a higher descent than William De Warren, to whom this and other manors were presented by the Norman Duke. The same blood coursed in his veins as in his noble master's. To the same Danish Knight they both owed their origin; and the alliance was rendered still closer, by the nuptials of this first Earl of Warren with the Conqueror's fifth daughter, Gundred. At the hands of William Rufus he also received the earldom of Surrey. His life was principally devoted to works of charity, and the erection and endowment of monastic houses, of which the Cluniac Priory at Lewes received the noblest foundation; and the baronial castles he reared were equally imposing and extensive. He died June 24th, 1088, and was buried with his wife within the precincts of the Priory at Lewes. Among the successors of these proud-hearted Barons, are names renowned for their connection with the military events of that troublous age; and under their fostering care, the castle of Conisborough assumed the character of a castellated fortress of unusual strength, and, doubtless, regarded at that period as impregnable.

Some conception of the haughty spirit of its Norman lords may be gathered from an episode in the history of John De Warren, the seventh Earl. During the investigation of an unhappy quarrel with Lord Zouche of Ashby, before the King's Justices in Westminster Hall, De Warren, with his armed retainers, attacked Lord Zouche and his son Sir Roger with drawn swords; so that, according to Dugdale," he almost killed one, and wounded the other." For this he was fined in the sum of ten thousand marks; and, with fifty of his followers that had been parties to this disgraceful deed, was obliged to walk on foot from the new Temple to Westminster Hall, and there, by oath, affirm that what he had done was not of " malice prepense,” but a sudden gust of passion. These conditions being complied with, the Earl obtained a general pardon for himself and followers; but his imperious and tyrannical spirit would not permit him to yield, until pursued by Prince Edward to the castle of Reigate, where he took shelter. Here, however, he was obliged to implore mercy; when the fine was reduced to eight thousand four hundred marks, payable by annual instalments of two hundred each year.

At the coronation of Edward I., in the exuberance of his loyalty, he turned loose five hundred horses for any who could catch them, and feasted his Sovereign the following year. In the sixth year of that Monarch's reign, the writ of quo warranto” stirred the spirit of this pugnacious Baron into a blaze. The Sovereign, being pressed for money, demanded of the descendant of De Warren by what authority he held his estate; and was answered in a speech which closed with the memorable words, “Gladio vici, gladio teneo, gladio tenebo.(“I got it, I hold it, and I will keep it by the sword.”) The profits of the estate were given by Edward III. to his mother, Queen Philippa, during the long minority of Edmund Plantagenet, on whom, in default of issue, it had been settled, and subsequently on Richard De Conisborough, Earl of Cambridge, who was chief of the faction of the White Rose, and who fell at the battle of Wakefield in 1460. The manor was finally conceded by Queen Elizabeth to Sir Henry Carey, who was nephew to Anne Boleyn, by whom she was accompanied to Tilbury Fort, on the occasion of the Spanish invasion, and to whom she entrusted the command of the army. He never rose to the summit of his ambitious views,—the earldom of Wiltshire. The quaint Fuller remarks that, “when he lay upon his death-bed, the Queen gave him a gracious visit, causing a patent for the said earldom to be drawn, his robes to be made, and both to be laid on his bed; but this lord (who could not dissemble, neither well nor sick) replied, Madam, seeing you counted me not worthy of this honour while I was living, I count myself unworthy of it now I am dying.'

His son, Sir George Carey, does not seem to have lacked the energy of his father. He espoused the side of Sir

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