Troy House

The following notes are to stimulate interest and encourage the exchange of information with others. Please use my contact page for responses.

 

A good starting point for understanding Troy’s history is Benson, A., ‘From 1698, Troy House became largely frozen in time’, The Architectural Historian, Issue 5, August 2017, pp. 22‒24.

Published by University of Wales Press in 2017, Troy House: a Tudor estate across time is the first research–based publication on this largely forgotten home of first, the Herbert family and then the Somerset dynasty (Dukes of Beaufort from 1682). Ownership, architecture (includes a conjectural building phase plan), and designed landscape are the three main dimensions of this research.

Although the Troy book describes for the first time Henry VII's and Elizabeth of York’s visit to Troy in August 1502, it is covered in more detail in the paper, Benson, A. ‘The Troy House Estate’s inventory of 1557: wealth, power and echoes of a royal visit', The Monmouthshire Antiquary, XXXIV (2018), pp. 75 ‒ 92. This paper also transcribes for the first time a 1557 inventory of Troy House that is only briefly mentioned in the Troy book.

Here is a section of this paper 

[The end notes are shown in brackets rather than superscript to enable access for all browsers]

In August 1502, Sir William Herbert of Troy’s influence in Wales ‒ and Gwent in particular[1]  ‒ was acknowledged with a royal visit.[2]  Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, his Queen Consort, stayed at Sir William’s house at Troy, one mile south of Monmouth, during the course of their journey to visit William’s half-brother, Sir Walter Herbert, at Raglan Castle.[3] Undoubtedly, Sir William would have ensured that Troy House was a fitting residence to accommodate the king and queen. Fifty five years on, a little known 1557 inventory of the Troy House Estate, which is transcribed for the first time in this article, echoes the importance of this royal visit with rooms still described as the king’s little, great and inner chambers, and the queen’s little and great chambers.[4]

     The queen appears to have travelled to Troy separately from the king with a man being paid three shillings and four pence to guide her from ‘Flexley Abbey [in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire] to Troye besides Monmouth’.[5]   She arrived at Troy on 14 August and only continued to Raglan five days later.[6] The king held a meeting of his Council at Troy on 15 August.[7] The king and queen were together at Troy when the Council meeting took place. Given the names of the chambers in the inventory, both resided at Troy, which has not been previously recognized. The queen was about four months pregnant at this time and in recent weeks had suffered ill-health.[8] She might well have welcomed her rest at Troy before moving to Raglan Castle some five miles distant and all the hospitality that would be offered by Sir Walter.

     It is during the time of the queen’s stay at Troy that she most likely visited Monmouth Priory, which is within one mile.[9] Indeed, given the closeness of the Priory to Troy House and her pregnancy, it is inconceivable that she would not have visited it to make an offering, as she had done at several locations during her journey to Troy and would also make as she returned to Westminster from Raglan Castle.[10] Arguably, this was the occasion when the two vestments of c.1502 made by her embroiderer, Robinet, and his assistants (brawderers) were donated to the Priory. One was a red chausable (Figure 1) with opus Anglicanum (fine English) embroidery, which is still in the possession of St Mary’s Catholic Church in Monmouth.[11] The other (Figure 2) was a red and gold embroidered cope[12] that is now displayed within the church of St Bridget, Skenfrith on the Monmouthshire / Herefordshire border.[13] However, the long-held belief that Elizabeth was the donor of this cope has recently been challenged.[14]

[the following images are shown in colour within this paper]

Figure 1: Chasuble, St Mary’s Catholic Church, Monmouth.

Figure 2: Cope, St Bridget’s Church, Skenfrith. Image courtesy of Rev. Dr. Jean Prosser OBE.

 

     A second chasuble is thought to have been donated by Elizabeth to the Priory at Abergavenny (Figure 3), perhaps during the time she spent at Raglan Castle after leaving Troy House.[15]  All three vestments are of very similar red velvet: in the Sarum Liturgy, red was the colour of Festivals. Also, they all have winged seraphs with feathered legs. The Abergavenny chasuble and cope are alike in that they are covered with embroidered groups of three feathers (fleur-de-lys) and the barrel or ‘tun’ on which each seraph stands is of the same design showing spokes.[16]

 

[the following image is then shown in colour]

Figure 3: Chasuble, Church of Our Lady and St Michael, Abergavenny.

 

     The seraphs on the chasuble given to Monmouth Priory stand on a ‘block’ and with a letter ‘M’ shaped like a heart containing the letters ‘O’ and ‘R’ (Figure 4). The MOR so formed is the rebus of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, cardinal, statesman and one of Henry VII’s principal advisers.[17]  Morton’s death in 1500 precedes Henry and Elizabeth’s visit to Troy in 1502. Perhaps this explains why Elizabeth – or Henry – was able to donate this particular chasuble to Monmouth Priory during this visit.

 

[the detail of the MOR rebus is then shown in colour]

Figure 4: Detail of the MOR rebus for John Morton on the Monmouth chasuble.

 

     It is unclear whether Sir William Herbert of Troy was still married to his first wife, Margery, or his second, Blanche, at the time of the 1502 royal visit, although Blanche’s funeral elegy, composed by the bard, Lewys Morgannwg, includes a reference to Henry VII being welcomed at Troy.[18] Sir William predeceased Blanche in 1524 and by the 1530s Lady Herbert of Troy, as she was then known, resided in the Royal Household. She held the position of Lady Mistress in charge of the care of the three royal children, the future Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.[19]

     On retirement, Blanche returned to Troy where she lived in part of the house whilst Charles, her oldest son by William, occupied the remainder with his second wife, Cicill. This was consistent with the directions in Sir William’s will: Blanche inherited William’s ‘Capitall mese with the appurtenaunc[es] called litill Troy’, the manor of nearby Wonastow and the tenement that he had built in Chepstow.[20]  Blanche and Charles had the:

 

occupying of all Troy’s contents and all good[es] and Catall[es] utensilyes and

Implement[es] of household … for term of lyfe of the said Blanche And after her

decesse to the said Charlys if he overlyve: having trist that she will kepe hir self

sool while she lyvith.[21]

 

     Dower and the widow’s third entitled a wife to live in her husband’s property until her death.[22] Lady Troy’s retirement to her own furnished apartments within Troy House whilst her son, Charles, and his wife also occupied the building, was in keeping with this practice. Such arrangements often created a stasis in which little alteration was carried out. Consequently, the inventory of 1557, conducted in the same year after the deaths of first Blanche and then a few months later, her son and heir, Charles, is likely to show little change from what existed at Sir William’s death in 1524……..

NOTE: the whole of the transcribed 1557 inventory is included in this paper.

 

1 Robinson, W.R.B., Early Tudor Gwent 1485 ‒ 1547 (Welshpool: W.R.B Robinson, 2002), 16; Robinson, W.R.B., ‘The Administration of the Lordship of Monmouth’, in The Monmouthshire Antiquary (2002), XVII, 37; Benson, Ann, Troy House: a Tudor estate across time (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2017) 35 – 6.

2 Nicolas, N.H. (ed.), Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York (London: William Pickering, 1830), xcii, 44, 47.

3 Ibid.

4 TNA PRO DL 3/69 R3f.

5 Nicolas, Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, 47.

6 Nicolas, Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, xcii.

7 Hill, L.M. (ed.), The Ancient State Authoritie, and the Proceedings of the Court of Requests by Sir Julius Caesar (Cambridge: 1975), 67.

8 Nicolas, Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, xcii.

9 Ibid. See also Alison Weir, Elizabeth of York, the First Tudor Queen (London: Jonathan Cape, 2013), 392 ‒ 3.

10 Nicolas, Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, xcii, 42; Weir, Elizabeth of York, 392 ‒ 5.

11 A chausable is an ornate sleeveless outer vestment worn by a Catholic or High Anglican priest when celebrating the Holy Mass.

12 A cope is a semi-circular long mantle, open in front and fastened at the breast with a band or clasp, which distinguishes it from a chausable, which has straight edges sewn together in front. A cope may be worn by any rank of the clergy and is not worn for celebrating the Holy Mass.

13 The display at St Bridget’s Church includes a brief history and some explanation of the cope’s motifs.

14 I am most grateful to Rev. Dr. Jean Prosser OBE for sharing her knowledge of these new theories and look forward to her publishing them in the near future.

15 This chausable dates to c.1502 and is now held at the Church of Our Lady and St Michael, Abergavenny.

16 The V & A confirm that all three vestments are of a similar age and most likely to have been designed by the same hand.

17 John Morton (c.1420‒1500) succeeded Bourchier as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1486, Alcock as Lord Chancellor in 1487 and was responsible for much of the diplomatic and financial work of Henry VII’s reign. See Christopher Harper-Bill, ‘Morton, John (d. 1500)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed 4 September 2017.

18 See Benson, Troy House: a Tudor estate across time, 36, for a translation of part of this elegy.

19 See Benson, Troy House: a Tudor estate across time, 36-7, for more details of Blanche, Lady Herbert of Troy.

20 TNA PRO 11/21/327. 15 March 1523.

21 ibid.

22 The law and customs protecting the property rights of widows were abolished by parliamentary statue for Wales in 1696 and everywhere by 1725. See Amy Erickson, Women and Property (London and New York: Routeldge, 1993).

 email: mail@annbenson.co.uk | © 2020 Richard Benson