Lyme

Suwarrow , author of the hereabove Stock-Keeper article dd Feb 4th 1881 , is , of course , the pen name of the 'purity knight' Harry de Kingdon b 1816 , astute champion of the Lyme strain and challenger of the then range of show Mastiffs tainted by sinister outcrosses and therefore unworthy to claim Mastiff fame , an attitude heavily countered by another sharp pen , ie the youngster MB Wynn (b 1852) probably mentored by his father Robert , Master of Arts , but , for some unknown reason , only anonymously engaged in breed affairs .

Here , a related Lyme article elaborated by Dr Philip Morgan of Keele University Staffs which indicates the quicksand whereupon the Agincourt vs Piers Legh annex Mastiff legend may be built.

 

Page 4 contains a/o a drawing of Mr Kingdon’ Mastiffs and thereby a Lyme stained glass which is quite different from the dog in the colour photograph (presenting a quite similar framing pattern) and taken at the Lyme estate - Disley nr Manchester .

 

The drawing shows a dog without saddle marking, shorter in head, less pointed in muzzle, ear less hound-like, &c .

 

It was published in the Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News mag dd July 1877 but originally perhaps commissioned by Mr Kingdom himself and subject to ‘artistic freedom” in order to serve some cunning goal , ie to ‘prove’ that the Mastiffs of Mr Kingdon were quite alike that seemingly illustrious –‘illusion’- of Sir Piers Legh’ loyal Mastiff defending courageously his Master...

The illustration below presents a scene of the arrest of Cardinal Wolsey (1473-1530) in the bedchamber of Henry VII . In spite of having many enemies , Cardinal Wolsey retained Henry VIII' confidence until Henry decided to seek an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon , so that he could marry Anne Boleyn . Wolsey' failure to secure the annulment is widely perceived to have directly caused his downfall and arrest . Do notice the fawn Mastiff lying down in the left corner .

An excerpt of ‘The Berks , Bucks & Oxon Archeological Journal’ Vol 12 No 3 Oct 1906 ; of interest is a/o the reference to Bevis being a ‘Cheshire’ Mastiff . His master Sir Henry Lee (1533-1611) was a descendant of Benedict Lee who , coming from an old Cheshire family of that name , settled at Quarendon , Bucks . The name Lee is of a common origin with Legh , the family seated at Lyme Hall in Stockport – Cheshire , so there’s some chance Bevis traces back to that famous strain .

 

Both illustrations , in regards to King Henry VII & Sir Henry Lee , are 'created' by artists who lived centuries later on , so no authenticity regarding realistic rending may be claimed . But they present a similar suggestion , ie the Mastiff as a trustworthy guard at the bedside of its Master ; there's about no substantial phenotypical likeness between them . The King Henry VII shows a head profile almost representing the correct OEMC type whereas the Lee Mastiff displays the personal stamp of the author , ie Harrison Wm Weir , a prolific illustrator of a/o children' books ; one of his points of styling in depicting Mastiffs are a general coarsenes including overlarge pads & prominent toenails .

 

History of the Legh family

 

The Leghs won the land on which Lyme stands on the battlefields of France during ‘the Hundred Years War’ - Sir Peter Legh II fought at Agincourt . Lyme Park became the family' principal seat in the mid-16th century when Sir Piers Legh VII [ 1514-1589 ] built the core of the present house . The Leghs were strong supporters of the Stuart cause [ James II was entertained at Lyme in 1676 ] , were involved in plots to restore the Stuart monarchy and consequently suffered arrest because of their beliefs and actions .

 

Thomas Legh [1792-1857] , one of the most remarkable members of the family , was an intrepid explorer and collector , his pioneering journey through Egypt and up the Nile into parts of Nubia unknown to Europeans was well documented in 1816 . Being an extremely wealthy young man , he decided to give the outdated family home a completely new lease of life and commissioned Lewis Wyatt to undertake this enormous task . Every room received his attention in some way but, quite remarkably , the sympathetic way in which Wyatt handled the remodelling in no way impacted on the 17th century character of the house . A superb example of the quality and tastefulness of his work is perhaps most prominent in the saloon with its magnificent rococo ceiling and the Grinling Gibbons carved wood decorations. Throughout the house is quite striking with massive round-headed doorways and huge fireplaces contrasting well with the more delicate ornamentation .

His nephew and successor , William John Legh [1828-1898] , was created 1st Baron Newton in 1892 . Like so many of his predecessors, William John Legh had been a soldier and a politician during his life and, after accepting a peerage, he became the first Lord Newton in 1892 and inherited the ‘Lyme Hall & Park’ property in 1897 . His contribution to the improvements at Lyme Park included the creation of the Dutch garden , the building of a new stable block & the addition of many new buildings on the estate.

 

Thomas Wodehouse Legh [1857-1942] , 2nd Lord Newton was General Paymaster 1915-1916 . His daughter Phyllis Sandeman wrote of the pleasures of growing up at Lyme in her book ‘Treasure on Earth' . Richard William Davenport Legh [1888-1960] , 3rd Lord Newton , found that the family could no longer support the upkeep of Lyme Park and gave it to The National Trust in ‘46 .

The Hall was the home of the Legh family from 1346 until 1946 when it became a National Trust property . The park around Lyme Hall covers more than 1300 acres . It was granted to Sir Piers Legh for his bravery in rescuing the standard of King Edward III’ son Edwin [the Black Prince] during the Hundred Years War . His son Sir Piers Legh II succeeded him in 1399 . He was at Agincourt with King Henry V and died from wounds received at the battle at Meux in 1422 .

 

This is his mistress Blanche' story ~ ‘ I loved Piers with all my heart . But our love had to be kept secret . When he went off to battle I missed him so much . I only knew of his death when they bought his body home to be buried . I could not attend his funeral because it would not have been right . I never had the chance to say goodbye and pay my respects . Long after he was buried I would head a funeral cortege that went through the park and along the river towards the house . Over the years the rest of the procession has disappeared but I still make the journey alone . My love for Piers will last for all time .

 

It's not unreasonable to assume that the Mastiff in van Dyck’ children of Charles I may have been a specimen of the Lyme Hall strain [date ± 1640] ; Charles I was tried and executed by Parliament in 1649 at the end of the Civil War and the uprise of Oliver Cromwell . Until his death , Charles I maintained that no one in England had the right to question what he did or his motives for doing it . His son Charles II [1630-1685] ascended the throne after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 . The boy next to the Mastiff could have Charles II or maybe James II [1633-1701] who succeeded his brother in 1885 , nine years after he was entertained at Lyme presumably also by magnificent descents of the ‘van Dyck’ Mastiff’ …

The other one whom was assumed to have been of the Lyme Hall strain was the specimen displayed by Diego Velázquez de Silva ‘ painting of the family of Philip IV [1656] was also called ‘Las Meninas’ , a Portuguese word used to name the Maids of Honour of the Royal children in the 17th century .

 

It is recorded that in 1604 Charles I’ father James I sent a Lyme Mastiff to Philip III of Spain and maybe behind the ‘Velasquez’ Mastiff’ who is also claimed as having been a ‘Spanish Mastiff’ ; it’ quite possible that there has been some intermix , vide his rather pointed muzzle & remarkable coat markings . The scene takes place in a room of the royal Alcázar castle in Madrid , decorated with a series of paintings . The figures are assembled in the foreground . The central one is Infanta Margarita and next to her , at both sides , are the ‘Meninas’ Isabel Velasco & Agustina Sarmiento . Close to the last the dwarves María Barbola & Nicolas Pertusato who looks like playing with the Mastiff that dozes at his feet are depicted . Behind them , in the darkness , are the duenna Marcela de Ulloa and an unidentified gentleman . On the left , Velázquez himself wearing the cross of the Order of Santiago which was conferred on him by his friend and patron , the King . In the background, through the doorway, we catch a glimpse of the Queen’ quartermaster , D José Nieto de Velázquez , who is the perspective centre of the work . A mirror , hanging on the middle of the back wall , reflects the figures of King Philip IV & Queen Mariana .

 

Lord Newton [1857–1942] of Lyme Hall

 

- 'The old lawyers invented dummies to represent substantial plaintiffs and defendants , and it is chiefly as a John Doe or Richard Roe that Lord Newton is here mentioned . The thing he stands for is more important than himself . Lord Newton is , indeed , of no special importance . It is rather remarkable that, with parts so good , and with a decided inclination for public life , he has done so little . The explanation probably resides equally in his rather flighty temperament and his possession of ample fortune and hereditary rank . Station is rather like a cork waistcoat . It enables heavy , inexpert people to keep afloat who would otherwise infallibly go to the bottom .

 

But it tires and impedes an active man , and prevents him ever developing into a first-class swimmer . Men like Lord Newton are too intelligent and original to resign themselves to the role of the dead-dog politician , of whom Carlyle spoke as surging up and down the flood by virtue of superior levity , going nowhither , but admired by some for his conspicuous situation . On the other hand , they lack incentive, and rarely acquire that habit of hard work and that insensibility to disappointment and disgust which , more than any extra-ordinary talent , bring the self-made statesman to great position .

 

Lord Newton is Lord Rosebery on a smaller scale . He has the same dawdling disposition . He has the same relish in scoring off others , especially if they happen to be his political friends . He has the same intense distaste for being himself scored off . He has, like Lord Rosebery , a good deal of wit , some wisdom , and an excellent style . He has dabbled in many things : in diplomacy , literature , public business , Mastiff-breeding , yeomanry tactics . As a writer , an Ambassador , or a Minister , he might easily have won real eminence had he given his not inconsiderable abilities full play .

 

As it is , he is chiefly famous for a few rather flippant speeches , for an excellent life of Lord Lyons , and some illuminating reflections on diplomacy , for heretical views regarding the dismalness of county cricket , and for routine work in the oversight of British prisoners , which sometime ago brought him into a prominence that he appeared to resent . Into the details of that controversy it is unnecessary to enter .

 

The only indictment to be framed against Lord Newton , and through Lord Newton against the class he represents, concerns the manner rather than the matter of his defence . His lordship was clearly thinking less of the prisoners than of attacks made on himself and his Department . Against the poor halfpennyworth of bread which formed the prisoners portion in that feast of reason , his apologia in the House of Lords , we had an intolerable deal of sack in which Lord Newton drank his own health , and conveyed complimentary sentiments to his colleagues .

 

All his wit – and on this occasion he hardly did justice to his reputation was used against editors and sub-editors , officers released from internment , and other noxious people who dared suggest that Lord Newton might possibly have done better . Now it is certain that Lord Newton is not a callous man . He is not a stupid man . Probably he is not a particularly egotistical man . He is only displaying with a naivete rather surprising in one with so decided a sense of humour , the attitude cf his caste towards public affairs . It is , I think , an attitude in some ways quite peculiar to this country , and is the natural but singular consequence of the disturbance of the old balance of the Constitution which took place two centuries ago .’

 

Source - Uncensored Celebrities by E T Raymond , Henry Holt & Co , New York 1919 .

 

Thomas Wodehouse Legh , 2nd Baron Newton , educated at Eton and Christ Church , Oxford , he entered the Diplomatic Service in 1879 and served as an Attaché at the British Embassy in Paris from 1881 to 1886 . The latter year he was elected to the House of Commons as Member for his home constituency of Newton , a seat he held until 1898 , when he succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Newton and took his seat in the House of Lords . In 1915 Prime Minister Asquith appointed him Paymaster-General, with special responsibility for representing the War Office in Parliament when the Secretary of State was unable to attend . The same year he was admitted to the Privy Council . In 1916 Lord Newton became Assistant Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs , and was put in charge of two departments at the Foreign Office , one dealing with foreign propaganda and the other with prisoners of war . In October 1916 he was appointed Controller of the newly-established Prisoner of War Department , and in this position he negotiated the release of thousands of British prisoners of war . In 1941 he published his memoirs , entitled Retrospection .

 

Lord Newton married Evelyn Caroline Davenport , daughter of William Bromley-Davenport , in 1880 . They had five children , two sons and three daughters .

The Church of St Mary the Virgin , Disley nearby Lyme Hall , stands seven hundred feet above sea level in the foothills of the Pennines . It is a building of great beauty and immense historical interest . Its founder, Sir Piers Legh of Lyme and Haydock , born in 1455 , had lived through the turbulent years of the Wars of the Roses . For his part in the Wars he had been given the honour of Knight Baronet , a title and rank bestowed only for distinguished service done in the King’ presence on the field of battle . About 1511 Sir Piers gave up this office and entered a Monastery , where he was ordained as a priest . He then retired to the house and park at Lyme , which had been given to his forefathers by Edward III in 1346 . The earliest parish register dates back to 1591 . It is believed that Sir Piers himself , Knight and Priest, officiated in the Chantry for some years .

 

The Church contains some very fine stained glass , including an example of XVIth century glass, which came from Stienfield Abbey in Southern Germany , and a peal of six bells , put in in 1837 , which is rung every Sunday before morning worship . There are also many monuments to the Legh family in the church together with the grave of Joseph Watson , b 1648 , who lived to be 104 and was Park Keeper at Lyme Park for 64 years . Watson drove a brace of stags from Lyme to Windsor as a present for Queen Anne to win a five hundred guinea wager for his master .

 

Lyme Hall during World War II

 

- 'The diarist James Lees-Milne describes a visit he makes to Lyme on behalf of the National Trust in 1943 , arriving in Stockport by train where he is met and driven to Lyme Park which forms an immense and imposing bulwark against Manchester and its satellite horrors . The greater part of the 3,000-acre property stretches in the opposite direction .

 

A butler meets him and conducts the way through the courtyard, up some stone steps and into the main hall of the piano nobile – ‘Lord Newton lives and eats in the great library with a huge fire burning , and two equally huge dogs lying at his feet . Lyme is one of England's greatest houses ... The contents of the staterooms are magnificent , notably the Chippendale chairs , the Charles II beds and the Mortlake tapestries ... The bedroom on the west side of the first floor had two Sargent portraits , one of Lord Newton' mother and the other of his mother-in-law .’

 

In spite of all this magnificence , however , or rather because of it , he observes that ‘Lord Newton is hopeless. The world is too much for him , and no wonder... He just throws up his hands in despair . The only thing he is sure about is that his descendants will never want to live at Lyme after an unbroken residence of six hundred years .

Above Thomes Wodehouse Legh, 2nd Baron Newton, and the kennels at the Lyme estate . Richard Ansdell' painting The Poacher At Bay 1865 may present his own Mastiff called Leo claimed to be specimen of the Lyme strain . He sired a litter dd 1857 out of Edgar Hanbury' Countess which produced a/o Hanbury' Empress , the latter dam to the 1st Mastiff champion , ie Hanbury ch Duchess who's behind perhaps the most famous strain of early pedigreed Mastiffs , as ch's Queen , Rajah and their son the brindle Wolsey without forgetting this Leo also sired Edwin Nichols' Duchess , granddam to Miss Hales' ch Lion & Miss Aglionby' Hilda , the latter well-known as the dam of that famous litter dd '67 containing a/o ch Turk , Wolf , Knight Templar , Prince , Beldam , &c . This painting by Ansdell may perhaps suggest something about the phenotype of his own Mastiff , Leo , the one behind those hereabove mentioned pillars of breed stud books .

 

There is a ‘Brideshead’ feel to this visit , as there is throughout much of the war-time diary entries . ‘There were forty evacuated children in the house ,’ he writes of Lyme Hall , ‘ but they have now gone . The park is cut to pieces by thousands and thousands of RAF lorries, for it is at present a lorry depot .’ Knowing in advance how cold it will be , Milne brings a heating pad with him for the bed and manages to short out the electrical system to much of the rest of the house , although he is unaware he's plunged his host into darkness until the morning .

 

When you are living at the end of an era -- any era coming to a close , really -- I suspect you either become the observant diarist or the hopeless participant , throwing your hands up in despair . I confess I've done both , in my fashion , and my family never lived in the same place for six hundred years , I assure you . However , I have only to look at the books I have ready at hand , telling you this, and at all the things I've collected around me to wonder , ‘who will want any of this , once I'm gone?‘ Sometimes of course I see it all quite clearly with amused detachment , but occasionally when I'm feeling down , with just the tiniest touch of self-pity regret . But , like you , I try not to dwell too much on what can't be helped ; in any case I'm taking none of it with me , if you know what I mean .

 

Towards the end of 1943 , he has lunch with Lord and Lady Newton in London and notes that Lady Newton must once have been handsome . ‘ She is tall ; and she is thin like everyone else these days . But she is languid and as hopeless as her husband . Both said they would never be able to reconcile themselves to the new order after the war . They admitted that their day was done , and life as they had known it was gone for ever . How right they are , how right they were, poor people .’

 

Note – the author James Lees-Milne [1908-97] left his imprint on the XXth century as the first Historic Buildings Secretary of the National Trust between 1936-’51 . He was instrumental in establishing that institution as the leading force in the conservation of the English country house . Largely through his efforts , such splendid and much-visited properties as a/o Lyme Hall came into the National Trust’s possession . As a gifted and versatile author , he achieved note first as an architectural historian , later as a novelist and biographer but he will be best remembered as a diarist who was remarkable for his candour , wit and sharp observation . The diaries reveal a fascinating personality , abounding in paradox . He respected tradition , while hating convention ; he admired the aristocracy , yet was contemptuous of aristocrats .

 

Lyme Hall , the largest house in Cheshire , is partly Elizabethan with XVIII/XIXth century additions by Giacomo Leoni & Lewis Wyatt and stands in 530 ha/1309 acres of park & moorland . It was given to the National Trust in 1947 . The then Lord Newton was Richard William Davenport Legh [1888-1960] , son of Thomas Wodehouse Legh , 2nd Baron Newton , and Evelyn Caroline Davenport . He married on 28 January 1914 Helen Winifred Meysey-Thompson , the daughter of Henry Meysey Meysey-Thompson , 1st and last Baron Knaresborough and Ethel Adeline Pottinger .

At left – the portrait of Prince Charles Edward Louis Casimir aka ‘ The Young Pretender’ or Bonnie Charlie painted by Allan Ramsay was in the property of the Olivers of Hellingly ; the large boned pied bald dog could give some impression about the then Lyme Hall strain of Mastiffs ; at right – some drawings of Lyme Hall Mastiffs published in Dr Sidney Turner’ Kennel Encyclopaedia [1910] .

 

Prince Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart [1720-1788] was the last member of the Stuart line to prosecute actively the Stuart claim to the English and Scottish thrones . In the Stag Parlour of Lyme Hall there’s a painting depicting the then Sir Legh , a Jacobite ‘Cheshire Gentlemen’ , who met to plot the return of the exiled Stuarts in the 1690s but in the year 1745 abandoned the Young Pretender his ill-fated attempt to obtain the throne of England from the George I of the House of Hanover .

 

A curious fragment of James Lees-Milne’ dairy is the remark about ‘huge dogs lying at his feet’ ; taking into account the Lyme Hall history they could be well have been Mastiffs which should be quite amazing some forty years after the last Mastiff litter was bred at Lyme Hall and that during a World War wherein the breed almost completely vanished in Britain due to meat restrictions . If true , one also could wonder about the breeder of these Mastiffs , probably born at the end of the 1930s ; ... maybe Hellingly siblings as the Olivers did have some connections within the circles of dog loving nobility ...